VOL. X. ALLEGHENY, PA., SEPTEMBER, 1889. NO. 11.
Zion's Watch Tower
HERALD OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE.
TOWER PUBLISHING COMPANY.
BUSINESS OFFICE: No. 151 Robinson St., Allegheny, Pa. C. T. RUSSELL, EDITOR.
TERMS OF SUBSCRIPTION.
DOMESTIC,--Fifty cents a year, in advance, by Draft, P.O. Money Order, or Registered letter.
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TO POOR SAINTS.
This paper will be sent free to the interested of the Lord's poor, who will send a card yearly requesting it. "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 who 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.
When ordering MILLENNIAL DAWN, always say which volume is wanted.
NOTICE the special terms on Old Theology Tracts to Children-Colporteurs on page 8. Others are not expected to take advantage of these terms, except such as may get the tracts with the intention of employing children. We would like to have all the earnest ones of our readers on the OLD THEOLOGY list, for at least five numbers each quarter. You can certainly use these, with friends, in letters, etc. The regular rates quoted (page 8) are certainly liberal, even for those who have no money.
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VIEW FROM THE TOWER.
How few there are who put together and see the relationship of those three statements of the prophet Daniel: (1) "Many shall run to and fro" [referring to the general and rapid intercommunion between the people of earth]; and (2) "Knowledge shall be increased" [the direct consequence of the intermixture of various peoples and their various ideas]; and (3) "There shall be a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation."
Many who can see that the great and general increase of knowledge, of our day, is the result of the interchange of thought among the people--by means of printing, railroads, telegraphs, etc., etc.--fail to see that this very increase of knowledge is not producing happiness and contentment, but that, on the contrary, it is producing discontent and unhappiness; and this increasingly, as the knowledge increases; so that ere long it will lead to a fratricidal strife, and in general to just what the prophet has foretold--"a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation."
It can not be denied that the grandfathers of the present generation, with a less degree of general intelligence than their children of to-day, with fewer of the comforts, conveniences and luxuries, were much more contented, and hence really much happier, than their children who possess these favors which are the results of increased knowledge. Shall we conclude, then, that knowledge is an injurious thing, and not a blessing?
The negroes of the South were probably happier fifty years ago, in slavery, than they now are; and though now possessed of many more privileges than were ever before accorded them, yet the reports are that a race war, between blacks and whites, is to be feared. It was an increase of knowledge that led public sentiment to a repudiation of human slavery and that emancipated the slaves; and it is a fuller knowledge of his rights as a man, under the law of God, and as a citizen, under the Constitution of these United States, that is stirring within the hearts of the negroes a desire for more and more, until they shall feel satisfied that they have their full proportion of the rights, privileges and common blessings of our day.
Is knowledge an evil thing, an injury to society, then, we again ask?
Many would answer, "Yes, it is an evil thing: the lower classes of society would be wholly ungovernable, if all class-distinctions were obliterated, if they were not under the wholesome restraints at present exercised by society, which is well supported by the nominal church, which in turn is well upheld by the most intelligent, influential and most wealthy element of society. If the priestcraft and superstitions of the dark ages are vanishing before the greater intelligence of the nineteenth century, something must be found as a substitute therefor, else we shall lose the control of society; the masses will become so independent and dictatorial that we will be hindered from carrying on our governmental and business plans, which, while they have accrued to our own
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interest, specially and chiefly, were really better for the masses too, as evidenced by the growth of their ambition and discontent as their knowledge and privileges are increased. 'Let us put on the brakes! Let us stop the spread of knowledge or it will wreck our social fabric!'"
And to this expression the Papacy would breathe a fervent (though inaudible) "Amen!" and reflect upon its glorious career in the dark ages when priestcraft and superstition held full sway, and the pope was owned to be "another god on earth." And many nominally Protestants, some of them earnest, intelligent persons, would take a similar view, except that they would like to preserve the intelligence and liberty of the educated and wealthy, remembering with dread the time when Papacy held such control that even their classes dared scarcely to think, let alone to act or speak.
Our answer to the question is, The fault lies in the imperfection of the social fabric and not with the increasing knowledge which threatens to wreck it. True, a knowledge that is only partial may for a while work more harm than good; for as some one has said--
"A little knowledge is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring."
It would be better for all concerned, if full, absolute knowledge were general; all would then be more quickly adjusted, no doubt; the struggle would be shorter and sharper, and a new arrangement of human affairs, a new social fabric, suited to the increased knowledge and recognizing every individual's rights to the fullest extent, would supersede the present order. But this is not possible: knowledge must come gradually and individually; God's "due time" has come for knowledge to be increased, but he will not bring it about miraculously but by natural means, such as the "running to and fro" of men and ideas. God's method will not only bring about the great time of trouble predicted, but it will also give mankind a valuable and lasting lesson on justice, which will enable each, thereafter, to look fairly upon another's rights as well as his own, when their interests differ.
The result of God's method of introducing knowledge will be that the old social fabric in the hands of the small class of favored ones--intellectually, financially and politically--will endeavor to remain, to continue itself upon the old lines and principles;--merely stretching itself a little more to accommodate itself to the increasing pressure from expanding ideas of the people in general. Yet all the while, its general structure prevents its expansion much beyond its present limits, and each increase of pressure from within adds to the strain upon both the people and the present social structure. The present liberty and privilege and share of earth's blessings accorded to mankind in general would have been grand and benevolent beyond appreciation in the "dark ages," but now it fetters and frets the masses, because knowledge has increased; and they will continue to fret and strike and plot until in everything they have their full share of all blessings, comforts, privileges, advantages and liberties as men; as common heirs of the world and its natural advantages. In this the masses respond to the principle of selfishness; even as the upper class of society, actuated by a similar selfishness, seeks not only to hold present wealth (which is at least an excusable weakness,) but also to perpetuate the present social structure which so greatly favors the already favored class.
It is the new wine in the old wine-skins (`Matt. 9:17`) over again: it is the new principles, of justice and equality among men, the principles which must prevail during the Millennial age, that are now stretching the old system of things and which ultimately will burst and destroy the present social order in a period of troubles, disaster and anarchy. What lessons both parties will learn, regarding each other's worth and rights in that dark day! Thank God, his children are also advised by his Word of the glorious Day to follow, in which society shall be reorganized (the "new earth") under the blessed influence of the Lord and the glorified Church (the "new heavens"), upon a basis of fullest justice to all,--under the gracious provisions of the New Covenant.
Many conscientious and even benevolent minds fail to see wherein the present social structure is unfair, or wherein it grants greater privileges to one than to another; and in amazement they inquire: "Do you mean to suggest that all who, by careful, prudent living, by industry and temperance in all things, have accumulated a few hundred or a few thousand dollars for their old age, that they may not be chargeable to any, should divide this product of industry and frugality with others who have been too indolent to work, or who have wasted their earnings in a wild, profligate course, and who would soon waste also the accumulations of others to their own injury?"
No; such a view is held by few--by very few, if any, even among the reckless, professed anarchists. It is too much the case that people who are being actually pinched by want, and who have a little money laid aside for old age or "a rainy day," feel that their interests lie across the path of any social reorganization; and such too often dismiss all suggestions that the present social structure is imperfect and could be improved upon for the general good--for the benefit of the poorer class--without doing any injustice to the wealthier class; without interfering with a single one of their rights or a single dollar they already possess. Although, we confess, such a just and equitable re-adjustment of the laws would make it less possible for a few to become suddenly very wealthy, or others equally industrious and sober and careful to become miserably poor.
But our overly-conservative friend further inquires: "Is not the present social arrangement a necessity? What would the miserably poor do if it were not for the benevolence of the rich? How could railroads and large manufacturing establishments be built and conducted were it not for the immensely wealthy class?"
We answer: There are plenty of people who have sufficient intelligence to conduct
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large manufactories, railroading, etc. Our United States Government is a practical illustration of the principle; and the Postoffice department is another. Where private interest and competition alone control, selfishness is sure to prevail. And the result must be to reduce labor to the lowest point and keep it there; and to produce combinations and trusts, to offset competition and add thereby to the wealth and influence of those who have capital, and to keep at the foot of the ladder those who have none. Nor would a reconstruction in this line imply the same reward for unskilled, uneducated labor as for skill and education: we have this also illustrated in the Government and in the Postoffice, where various salaries are paid according to proficiency and ability, but where selfishness and greed can reduce none to starvation wages, or unhealthy conditions, or oppressive over-work.
That something is radically wrong with society as at present organized all must admit. It was probably at one time as good an arrangement as could have been made, and doubtless served a good purpose; but its usefulness has been outgrown with the general increase of knowledge. And instead of endeavoring to curb knowledge, in order that people may be happy and contented under the old conditions, we should increase the knowledge and change the social conditions to correspond.
Look, for instance, at the great London strike; in which the laborers about the docks and wharfs are seeking to improve their condition, just a little. Note the reply of the managers of the Docking Company: that, though the advance asked was not very large for each laborer, yet, there being so large a number of them, it would mean a large sum of money in the aggregate, equaling the interest on a very large sum. If the small increase of salary to each man were granted, it would reduce the dividends of the Dock Company, and thus depreciate their property. But who or what is this Dock Company? It is a corporation which, by investing capital in building docks for shipping, in the port of London, long since gained a monopoly of the suitable water-front of the city, and which doubtless long since repaid to the investors the original investment with good interest and has probably "watered" its stock several times, but still maintains its hold upon its franchises; and which long ago ground down its laborers, who are of the poorest class of London's poor, to as little as would enable them barely to live, in order that its managers could return larger and larger dividends to the share-holders. And now, notwithstanding the increase of general blessings, conveniences and knowledge, the managers and stockholders would selfishly reap all the benefits, and would deny the poor laborers any. And their fear is not only for the present increase demanded, but for the future. They know that even at the advance the laborers are not sufficiently paid, and they fear another and another demand. "Give them an inch and they will want an ell" is the saying, and it is true; and inch by inch it must be given, until they get all that their labor and skill honestly entitle them to, which is not less than an economical but a comfortable living.
Around those very docks of London charitable people have for years kept up cheap restaurants, and coffee and lunch wagons, from which many of these poor were supplied with one or two meals per day at much less than the cost of the food --one cent for a bowl of soup and one cent for a tin of pudding. These charitable arrangements speak loudly of sympathizing hearts who helped supply the additional cost, as well as of those of the
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attendants who take turns in giving their time to the benevolent work of serving these stalls, wagons, etc. Doubtless some who hold stock in the Dock Company, and who draw their dividends, use a portion in this or in some other "sweet charity," and thus show the noble side of their hearts. But, such should realize that the proper thing to do is, to so right and reconstruct society and its laws that such men as are industrious should be enabled to work, and that at such a moderate compensation as would enable them to have enough to eat without appealing to charity. There will be much less need for "sweet charity" (though still plenty of room for it) when sweet justice comes to be rightly seen and practiced.
In this land, though justice is not yet quite even-handed, and though the laws have not yet been fully arranged to thwart monopolies and trusts, there is certainly much less room for complaint of injustice as well as much less opportunity for charity. It is in the old world that the greatest changes must be expected. Nor is it in England alone, or even specially, that the foretold "trouble" is brewing, as a result of growing intelligence and the effort of the masses to secure a fuller share of the bounties and blessings of our day: our readers saw recently in the secular press accounts of the greatest strike of coal-miners ever known in Germany. So intense was the feeling, and so widespread the strike, that a revolution was feared, if the poorer classes got to see their strength, and the Emperor of Germany condescended to assist in compromising the difficulty. The following, clipped from the New York Tribune, gives a picture of the condition of things in another part of Europe:--
"Standing in one of the ante-rooms leading to the office of the Mayor of the city of Amsterdam on a January morning four years ago, a spectacle was presented which seems to an American citizen a proof that the Millennium has not yet arrived. The previous afternoon a meeting of the unemployed laboring men had been held in Vondel's Park, and the crowd was so immense that the city authorities became alarmed with the thought that a bread riot might take place at the close of the meeting, so the Burgomeester issued a proclamation informing the people that his office would be open for audience on the following day. Never before in the history of that city had an interview of the working-men with the Chief Magistrate been allowed; a certain proof of the sombre political atmosphere overhanging Amsterdam. The City Hall was overflowing with a crowd of pale, emaciated-looking men, holding in their hands certificates signed by the Prefects of Police that the bearer was actually in sore need of bread. According to the official list, signed by the Mayor's secretary, 2,243 certificates of this description were handed in that day. "The streets leading to the City Hall were crowded with women and children, and when at 4 o'clock in the afternoon the city fathers gave orders to distribute 1,500 loaves of bread, the scenes enacted defy description. Men and women fought like ravenous beasts to obtain a loaf of bread, and in fifteen minutes the supply was exhausted. In the Leydsche Straat, an American lady inquired the cause of the multitude of men, women and children rushing as if demented toward a common centre of the city. Being informed that the amount of bread given out at the City Hall had not half supplied the hungry ones, she entered a bake shop and bought out the stock on hand. Seven hundred and three loaves of bread were passed out the door to the people, who by their instant sampling of the gift, proved that dry bread was an absolute necessity to them.
"The city press in general deplored the situation of affairs, but being under the strict surveillance of the Government, were very careful to express their thoughts in guarded language. It was stated that a woman with three little children was found in a small room actually starved to death, her husband being unable to procure bread by labor and being too proud to beg for his dying family. Below this statement in the same newspaper column was a notice that the Foreign Missionary Society at their meeting the night previous had raised 25,000 gulden ($10,000) to supply the foreign field. To give the starving workmen of Amsterdam something to do seemed not so necessary as to supply the inhabitants of Africa with Bibles and missionaries, and yet Americans wonder that European workmen become socialists."
How often the generous and the selfish elements of fallen men are thus displayed side by side. The $10,000 raised for the heathen, to help keep some of them, as the donors doubtless supposed, out of an eternity of torment, speak of a sympathy which we must commend; while the hungry thousands at their own doors speak of unjust social regulations and laws, and of a selfishness on the part of the wealthy class which, seeing this, refuses or neglects to rectify those laws, lest its own march to greater wealth and perhaps further subscriptions for foreign missions should be interfered with.
In our next issue we may point out briefly some of the defects of present social laws and customs, but suffice it now that we have pointed out that the trouble now gathering, described by Daniel as "a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation," is coming just as he, under divine guidance, foretold--as the result of interchange among men and the consequent increase of knowledge, as we are now witnessing it on every hand.
Just a word of exhortation: To the few brethren who have means, and to all according to ability, we would say--Remember first of all to practice justice in all your conduct; then be as charitable as the Master's funds in your hands will in your judgment permit of. Remember that you are merely a steward and are to handle the Lord's money according to his will as nearly as you can know it. The poorer brethren we exhort to peace, patience and charity. This conflict is not one in which the saints are to take part: it is the world's part in the "Battle of the Great Day." Our part in the conflict is to uphold God's Word, truth against error; and we will have plenty to do in our own quarter, if faithful. Even if you feel that you are being unjustly dealt with, do the best you can, but live peaceably. The Lord will avenge any wrongs you may suffer, so far as that part is concerned; and in any case we can look with a great deal of sympathy upon the selfish, remembering and pitying their fallen condition and rejoicing that the grand time of righteousness and restitution is nigh, even at the doors.
EXTRACTS FROM INTERESTING LETTERS.
MY DEAR FRIEND:--I enclose $1.00 on my account. Please send me about 5 each of the July and August Towers. I am glad that you are showing from historical data the course of corruption of the doctrine of the church. That, however, is but one of many good things found in the August TOWER.
Some of my remarks in prayer meeting have recently aroused opposition and one zealous brother wants me prevented from speaking. Another to whom I lent DAWN tells another that it is a dangerous book, and I guess it is, to some bad doctrines. This fearful saint is a deacon and not long ago he called on and asked me to accept a nomination for elder. He was horrified to learn that I was not a member of their church and more so to learn the reasons. Well, I hope to accomplish something; else, why am I here? I have a few sympathetic hearers. I have been privately considering the calling together of such as will come to study the Bible some weekday evening, a non-sectarian Bible class. Am in some doubt how best to do it, but hope to reach the result some way.
In haste, Yours very truly, J. A. S.
Grant Co., Ind.
C. T. RUSSELL--DEAR BROTHER:-- Judging you and others by myself, I thought I would offer a few words of cheer. Bros. Leigh and Deming, willing servants, stayed with us, some time ago, from Saturday till Monday. We spent the time pleasantly in discussing, for the most part, the objections the nominal church brings against us. We again met in Marion and spent a few hours together, very pleasantly. These noble Christians are, indeed, making a "willing sacrifice" of all. They need encouragement. I received a postal by last mail, stating they were suffering from malaria, but after two days rest, went to Hartford to canvass that city. I want to write to them and have them come home and stay until they recuperate. How pleasant it is to be with these dear brethren. I want to tell you, we do not feel so lonesome now, as we felt a year ago. There is a rift in the dark cloud, and the sun is shining in; others are seeing the light, and as Bro. Leigh says, we have a plan, and notwithstanding it is so broad, it is entirely protected by God's Word.
Others are beginning to see this plan, which is so simple and so plain, and so harmonious with the Bible and the character of a great and good God; and the best of all, as soon as they begin to see its unfolding, they thirst for more and want others to come to the fountain and into harmony with the truth.
Mrs. M. joins me in Christian love to you and yours. G. P. M.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--With thankfulness for the great blessing the TOWER has been in the past, we again renew our subscription, still rejoicing in its teachings as meat in due season. We rejoice that we have been freed from Babylon by the truth and can now look with wonder and admiration at Jehovah's plan. DAWN, Vol. II., with its time proofs, is a marvel of beauty and clearness, setting the time proofs so clear before all who will patiently search for truth.
The truth is finding a few over here and spreading, we trust, though quietly and slowly. We are able to sell a few DAWNS, from time to time, and think if we can get some old theology tracts and Arps well circulated, others may begin to inquire. Yours in love and service,
S. A. H.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I have received all the mail you sent; for which I return thanks. The truth has been such a blessing to me, I do not see how I could have made out without it. I was glad to get Vol. II. I wish I could express my feelings; I read and learn and rejoice, thanking the Lord for the blessed truths. I have read it through three times and began a fourth. I then got my Vol. I. home, which had been out on a mission, and I gave it another careful reading.
Yours in Christian love, M. T.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I enclose a list of orders for DAWN, Vol. I., with Postal Note for the amount of the memorandum. I have had much traveling to do lately in my Insurance business, more than I like; there is danger I fear of being overcharged; I must try to cut off some. And yet, though I have not had much time for meditation and study of the Word or for dispensing the truth to others, and therefore feel more lean, I am glad that it has not come from any loss of appetite or relish for the spiritual food or
service, for I am very hungry and anxious for opportunities and must make them.
My Son Paul (now a Brother in Christ, you will be glad to learn), though only in his thirteenth year, gives good evidence of full consecration; he has made a start at the colporteur work of selling DAWN, Vol. I., and has had sufficient success to warrant the sending of my last order of 100 copies, which were for his use.
I enclose the subscription of a minister, Rev. S__________. He sat down in the car seat with me to-day, and I gave him the Old Theology--Wages of Sin. After he had read it nearly through, he turned on me and said he thought I had better stop giving such stuff out. He asked me, if I had ever saved anybody with it. I asked him in return, if he had ever saved any one with his God-dishonoring errors about eternal torment. I told him all we knew of the future was contained in the Book, and defied him to name a single passage proving his doctrine. Then he hedged by saying, It is best to be on the "safe" side. This of course was easily answered by saying that it is best to teach the truth as we find it in God's Word, and it is not good policy to try to improve upon God's theology. Our talk was very brief, much less than five minutes, but much to my surprise he promised to read MILLENNIAL DAWN. W. M. WRIGHT.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--Second Volume of MILLENNIAL DAWN, cloth bound, was safely received, and for the past few weeks I have been feasting myself with its contents. I have always opposed the fixing of a particular time for the setting up and establishing of the Redeemer's Kingdom; but your data so plainly established from what has hitherto been held to be hidden and obscure and at the same time so much in harmony with itself and the truth now shining so clearly, compel me to accept it. And in accepting it I find myself both cheered and comforted, as I realize the time is so near.
My health is too poor to permit me to travel, but I do all I can to spread the truth in my limited sphere. May the Lord richly bless you and crown your labor with abundant success is the prayer of yours in the faith and service of the gospel. T. B__________.
Grand Rapids, Mich.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I will tell you briefly of my efforts here. Have been here two weeks and have been working in the business part of the city nearly all the time. I have sold 300 DAWNS--nearly half of them being Vol. II. When here two years ago, I sold only about 35 in the business part of the city. The increase, I think, is owing somewhat to the interest formed by hearing of the book; but perhaps more directly by a better presentation of its merits. It requires considerable tact, earnestness and experience to interest business men in a religious work. Though if once interested the influence is apt to be good, as they are generally at the head of practical and representative families.
The principal object now, I think, is to find the "sheep" and minister unto them; but in doing this, we can do good unto all, as we have opportunity. I have not yet decided whether it will be well to canvass the whole city again now. If the exceedingly warm weather continues it will perhaps be better to work in smaller towns for a while.
It is interesting to note the way in which the truth and harmony brought out in DAWN is being circulated and found out. Being good tidings, they who find it go and tell their own brother, sister or friend. These likewise go and tell others, even as it was when the Savior was first discovered among men. And how blessed are they who are permitted to publish these things!
I greatly enjoyed the "View" in last TOWER. Truly, the Elisha class will be more numerous than that of the Elijah. And though the former class will be highly favored, I am striving and hoping to be one of the overcomers. In considering the subject I have been interested in trying to trace the import and typical meaning of `2 Kings 2:10`--where we read "If thou see me taken from thee; but if not, it shall not be so." Will it be that the Elisha class will need to know, or see, when the Elijah class is taken from them in order that they may inherit a "double" portion of the spirit? [This would seem to teach that it will be only such as keep in fellowship with the Elijah class, such, therefore, as will know them and realize that they are being exalted, who will constitute the Elisha class and be inspired to fresh zeal and redoubled earnestness in the service of the truth from a realization of the facts.--EDITOR.]
With Christian love to you and Sister R. and others of them that are His, I remain, Yours in service, S. D. ROGERS.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--I enclose now $20 of which $5 is to be credited to my DAWN account and the other $15 is to be used to send Food and "Hail" to our dear Bro. H. I enclose his letter and order which of course you can fill much better and less expensively to him than I could.
The return home to-day from my week's labors found all well, and I rejoice and praise the Lord for results. The whole week was a triumphal march of Immanuel's banner and cause against the hosts of sin, ignorance, superstition and unbelief.
I told you that they had asked me to return to I., and give them another address on my way back home. I did so, and found that the interested ones had been unable to secure a church and had hired a hall and paid my board and all expense for the second discourse. I sold all my books and more, having to mail some back to-day. This morning I found them hanging on me still to have Scripture explained and I again preached to them from 7 A.M. till train time at 10 A.M. I spoke three times on the trip, twice at great disadvantage, but my voice held out and grew stronger and my mouth was full of the high praises of our God.
With kindest regards and remembrance joined by Sr. A. to you and Sr. Russell. In Christ the Lord, J. B. ADAMSON.
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YIELD NOT TO FEAR.
"Poor, fainting spirit, still hold on thy way--
The day is near!
True, thou art weary; but yon brighter ray
Becomes more clear.
Bear up a little longer; wait for rest;
Yield not to slumber, though with toil oppressed.
"The coming night is mournful, but look on--
The dawn is here!
Soon will earth's shadowy scenes and gloom be gone;
Yield not to fear:
The mountain's summit will ere long be gained,
And thy bright hopes with joy and peace attained.
"'Joyful through hope!' thy motto still must be--
The dawn is here!
What glories will that dawn unfold to thee!
Be of good cheer!
Gird up thy loins; bind sandals on thy feet:
The way is short, though rough; the end is sweet."
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"A little while, our fightings shall be over;
A little while, our tears be wiped away;
A little while, the power of Jehovah
Shall turn our darkness into gladsome day.
"A little while, the fears that oft surround us
Shall to the memories of the past belong;
A little while, the love that sought and found us
Shall change our weeping into heaven's glad song.
"A little while! 'Tis ever drawing nearer--
The brighter dawning of that glorious day.
Blest Savior, make our spirits' vision clearer,
And guide, O guide us in the shining way.
"A little while, O blessed expectation!
For strength to run with patience, Lord, we cry,
Our hearts up leap in fond anticipation;
Our union with the Bridegroom draweth nigh."
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THE AUTHORSHIP AND CREDIBILITY OF THE BIBLE.
While the Bible is generally accepted by Christian people as of divine authority, comparatively few are able to clearly state just why they so esteem it. The internal evidence of its truthfulness, and its grandeur of doctrine, are the principal evidences on which its testimony is, and should be, generally received; and truly these are strong, and convincing of its divine authorship and authority; yet the man of God who would be thoroughly furnished with the truth, and armed against every attack of skepticism, should endeavor to know all he can of the time, manner, circumstances, etc., under which it was written; whether it has been preserved free from corruption; and whether in its present condition it is worthy of full confidence. Let us, therefore, briefly consider what testimony we have to the credibility of the Sacred Writings.
From numerous expressions, references and quotations in the New Testament by our Lord and the apostles it is evident
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that a certain body of writings was at that time considered to be of divine authority. The Sacred Scriptures then in existence are now characterized as the Old Testament Scriptures (the Scriptures of the Old or Law Covenant), while that which was added by our Lord and the apostles is termed the New Testament (the New Covenant) Scriptures.
No other book which the world has ever known has such a history as the Bible. Its origin and authorship, its antiquity, its wonderful preservation in the midst of the unparalleled and continuous opposition which sought to destroy it, as well as its diversity and teaching, make the Bible the most wonderful book in existence.
It is a collection composed of sixty-six separate books, written by about forty different writers, living centuries apart, speaking different languages, subjects of different governments, and brought up under different civilizations. Over 1500 years elapsed between the writings of Moses and of John.
As no other reliable history dates so far back as the Bible, we are obliged to look mainly to its own internal evidence, as to its origin, authorship, and the reason for its existence, and indeed for its credibility in every respect; and further, we should look for such corroboration of its statements as reason, its own harmony with itself, and with other known facts, and subsequent developments furnish. And indeed this is the evidence of reliability on which all history must rest. To such evidence we are indebted for all our knowledge of past events and of all present events as well, except such as come under our own immediate observation. He who would cast away Bible history as unworthy of credence, must on the same ground reject all history; and to be entirely consistent, must believe nothing which does not come under his own personal observation.
If its statements, thoroughly understood, are contradictory, or are colored by prejudice, or are proven untrue by a positive scientific knowledge, or if subsequent developments prove its predictions untrue, and thereby show the ignorance or dishonesty of the authors of the Bible, then we may reasonably conclude that the entire book is unworthy of confidence, and should reject it. But if, on the contrary, we find that a thorough understanding of the Bible, according to its own rules of interpretation, shows its statements to be in harmony with each other; if it bears no evidence of prejudicial coloring; if many of its prophecies have actually come true, and others admit of future fulfilment; if the integrity of its writers is manifested by unvarnished records, then we have reason to believe the book. Its entire testimony, historic, prophetic, and doctrinal, stands or falls together. Science is yet in its infancy, yet in so far as positive scientific knowledge has been attained, it should and does corroborate the Bible testimony.
Those who will make a study of the Bible plan will be fully convinced of the conclusive evidence of the credibility of the Sacred Scriptures, which is furnished in the purity, harmony and grandeur of its teachings. Outside of the Scriptures we have nowhere to look for an account of the circumstances and motives of the earliest writers: but they furnish these items of information themselves, and their integrity and evident truthfulness in other matters is a sufficient guarantee of truthfulness in these.
Our first definite information with reference to the Sacred Writings is afforded by the direction given to Moses to write the law and history in a book, and put it in the side of the ark for preservation. (See `Exod. 17:14`; `34:27`; `Deut. 31:9-26`.) This book was left for the guidance of the people. Additions were made to it from time to time by subsequent writers, and in the days of the kings, scribes appear to have been appointed whose business it was to keep a careful record of the important events occurring in Jewish history, which records--Samuel, Kings, Chronicles --were preserved and subsequently incorporated with the Law. The prophets also did not confine themselves to oral teaching, but wrote and in some cases had scribes to record their teachings. (See, `Josh. 1:8`; `24:26`; `1 Sam. 10:25`; `1 Chron. 27:32`; `29:29,30`; `2 Chron. 33:18,19`; `Isa. 30:8`; `Jer. 30:2`; `36:2`; `45:1`; `51:60`.) As a result we have the Old Testament Scriptures, composed of history, prophecy and law, written by divine direction, as these citations and also Paul's testimony (`2 Tim. 3:15,16`) prove. These writings collectively were termed "The Law and The Prophets," and the Hebrews were taught of God to esteem them of divine authority and authorship, the writers being merely the agents through whom they received them. They were so taught to esteem them, by the miraculous dealings of God with them as a people, in confirmation of his words to them through the prophets, thus endorsing them as his agents (See, `Exod. 14:30,31`; `19:9`; `1 Kings 18:21,27,30,36,39`); and further by the establishment and enforcement of the law as proclaimed and recorded by Moses.
The political interests and the religious veneration of the Israelites, under God's immediate overruling and protection, combined to preserve and protect these writings from contamination. Religiously, they were rightfully regarded with the deepest veneration, while politically they were the only guarantee which the people possessed against despotism. The Jewish copyists regarded these documents with great veneration. A very slight error in copying often led them to destroy it and begin anew. Josephus says that through all the ages that had passed none had ventured to add to, take away from, or transpose, aught of the Sacred Writings.
In the degeneracy of the Jewish nation, under the idolatrous administration of the successors of Rehoboam, these Sacred Writings fell into disuse and were almost forgotten, though they seem never to have been taken from their place. In the reformation conducted by Josiah, they were again brought to light. Again, in the Babylonish captivity this book was lost sight of by the Israelites, though it appears that they were accustomed to meet together in little companies in Babylon to be instructed by the scribes, who either taught the Law from memory or from copies in their possession. On the restoration of the Jews to Jerusalem, the Scriptures were again brought out, and Ezra and his companions read the law to the people, commenting upon and explaining it. (`Neh. 8:1-8`.) This public reading of the Scriptures was the only means of keeping them before the people, as printing was yet unknown and the cost of a manuscript copy was beyond the reach of the people, very few of whom could read. At the time of our Lord's first advent, these O.T. Scriptures existed substantially as we have them to-day, as to matter and arrangement.
One of the strongest evidences of the authenticity of the O.T. Scriptures is found in the fact that the law and the prophets were continually referred to by our Lord and the apostles as authority, and that while the Lord denounced the corruptions of the Jewish Church, and their traditions, by which they made void the Word of God, he did not even intimate any corruption in these Sacred Writings, but commends them, and refers to and quotes them in proof of his claims.
In fact, the various parts of the entire book are bound together by the mutual endorsement of the various writers, so that to reject one is to mar the completeness of the whole. Each book bears its own witness and stands on its own evidence of credibility, and yet each book is linked with all the rest, both by their common spirit and harmony and by their mutual endorsement. Mark, for instance, the endorsement of the account of creation in the commandment of the law concerning the Sabbath day.--`Exod. 20:11`. Also compare `Deut. 23:4,5`; `Joshua 24:9`; `Micah. 6:5`; `2 Pet. 2:15`; `Jude 11-13`; `Isa. 28:21`; `Hab. 3:11`; `Matt. 12:40`.
THE NEW TESTAMENT.
The earliest copy of the New Testament known is written in the Syriac language. Its date is estimated to be about the year A.D. 100. And even at that early date it contained the same books as at present with the exception of the Second Epistle of Peter, the Third Epistle of John, Jude and the Book of Revelation. And these omitted books we know were written about the close of the first century, and probably had not been widely circulated among the Christian congregations at that time. All the books of the Old and New Testaments as we now have them appear, however, in the Greek, in the Sinaitic Manuscript, the oldest known Greek MS., whose date is about A.D. 350.
The first five books of the N.T. are historical, and present a clear and connected account of the life, character, circumstances, teachings and doings of Jesus of Nazareth, who claimed to be the Messiah promised in the O.T. Scriptures, and who fully substantiated his claim. The four accounts of the Evangelists, though they differ in phraseology, are in harmony in their statements, some important items being recorded by each which seem to have been overlooked by the others. These Evangelists testified to that of which they had positive knowledge. The Apostle John says: That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you--"that which was from the beginning (the beginning of the Lord's ministry), which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the Word of life; for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness." (`1 John 1:1-3`.) They testify also that they saw Christ after his resurrection. The fifth book presents a valuable account of the doings of the Apostles after their anointing with the Holy Spirit, of the establishment of the Christian Church, and of the first preaching of the good news to the Gentiles.
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The Apostolic Epistles were written to the various local congregations or churches, and were directed to be publicly read, and to be exchanged among the churches; and the same authority was claimed for them by their writers as that which was accorded to the O.T. Scriptures. (`1 Thes. 5:27`; `Col. 4:16`; `2 Pet. 3:2,15,16`; `Heb. 1:1,2` and `2:1-4`.) These letters and the five historical books were carefully preserved by the different congregations, and were appealed to as authority in matters of doctrine.
The letters of the apostles, claiming, as they did, divine authority equal to that of the O.T. Scriptures, were treasured and guarded with special care by the various congregations of the early church. The New Testament was completed by the Book of The Revelation, about the close of the first century A.D., after which, these epistles, etc., began to be collected for more permanent preservation.
The original copies of both the Old and New Testaments have, of course, long since disappeared, and the oldest manuscript (the Sinaitic) is reckoned to have been written about three centuries after the death of Christ. Those of earlier date were either destroyed in the persecutions under which the church suffered, or were worn out by use. These oldest manuscripts are preserved with great care in the Museums and Libraries of Europe. During the Middle Ages, when ignorance and corruption prevailed and the Bible was hidden in monasteries away from the people, God was still carrying on his work, preserving the Scriptures from destruction even in the midst of Satan's stronghold, the apostate
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Church of Rome. A favorite occupation of the monks during the Middle Ages was the copying of the manuscripts of the N.T., which were esteemed as relics more than as God's living authoritative Word;--just as you will find in the parlor of very many worldly people handsome Bibles, which are seldom opened. Of these manuscripts there are said to be now more than two thousand, of various dates from the fourth to the fifteenth centuries. The quiet seclusion of those monks gave them special opportunities for careful copying, and years were sometimes spent in the copying of a single manuscript.
RELIABILITY OF PRESENT TRANSLATIONS.
The idea exists in some minds that during the lapse of centuries the Scriptures have become largely corrupted, and therefore a very uncertain foundation for faith. They reason that this is surely to be expected of a book which has survived so many centuries, and which has been claimed as divine authority by so many different factions, and which can be read by the majority only from translations, made by somewhat biased translators. And the late revisions of the book are supposed to be an acknowledgment of the supposed fact.
Those, however, who are acquainted with the manner in which the ancient manuscripts of the Scriptures have been preserved for centuries, carefully copied, diligently compared and translated by pious and learned linguists, whose work was thereafter subjected to the most learned and scrutinizing criticism of an age in which scholars are by no means few, are prepared to see that such an idea is by no means a correct or reasonable one, though to the uninformed it may appear so.
It is a fact that the Scriptures, as we find them to-day, bear internal evidence of their original purity; and ample means, both internal and external, are now furnished so that the careful student may detect any error which might have crept in either by fraud or accident. While there are some errors in translation and a few interpolations in our common English translation, on the whole it is acknowledged by scholars to be a remarkably good transcript of the Sacred Word.
Before the invention of printing, the copying of the Scriptures, being very slow and tedious, involved considerable liability to error in transcribing, such as the accidental omission of a word or paragraph, the substitution of one word for another, or the misunderstanding of a word where the copyist wrote from the dictation of another person. And again, sometimes a marginal note might be mistaken for a part of the text and copied in as such. But while a very few errors have crept in, in such ways, and a few others seem to have been designedly inserted, various circumstances have been at work, both to preserve the integrity of the Sacred Writings, and also to make manifest any errors which have crept into them.
Very early in the Christian Era translations of the New Testament Scriptures were made into several languages, and the different factions that early developed and continued to exist, though they might have been desirous of adding to or taking from the original text in order to give their claims a show of Scriptural support, were watched by each other to see that they did not do so, and had they succeeded in corrupting the text in one language, another translation would make it manifest.
Even the Douay translation, in use in the Romish church, is in most respects substantially the same as the King James translation. The fact that during the "dark ages" the Scriptures were practically cast aside, being supplanted by the decrees of popes and councils, so that its teachings had no influence upon the masses of the people who did not have copies in their possession--nor could they have read them if they had them--doubtless made unnecessary the serious alteration of the text, at a time when bold, bad men had abundant power to do so. For men who would plot treason, incite to wars and commit murders for the advancement of the papal hierarchy, as we know was done, would have been bold enough for anything. Thus the depth of ignorance in the dark ages served to protect and keep pure God's Word, so that its clear light has shone specially at the two ends of the Gospel age. (`1 Cor. 10:11`.) The few interpolations which were dared, in support of the false claims of Papacy, were made just as the gloom of the "dark ages" was closing in upon mankind, and are now made glaringly manifest, from their lack of harmony with the context, their antagonism with other scriptures and from their absence in the oldest and most complete and reliable manuscripts.
RELATIVE VALUES OF ANCIENT MANUSCRIPTS.
As to the relative values of ancient manuscripts, we quote the following comments from the pen of that eminent German scholar, Constantine Tischendorf, who spent many years of his life in diligently searching out and comparing the various ancient manuscripts and translations of the Scriptures in many languages, and who has furnished to the church the results of his investigation in a careful exhibit of the various departures of the English Authorized Version of the New Testament from the three oldest and most important manuscripts.
Mr. Tischendorf says: "As early as the reign of Elizabeth the English nation possessed an authorized translation, executed by the Bishops under the guidance of Archbishop Parker; and this, half a century later, in the year 1611, was revised at the command of James the First by a body of learned divines, and became the present 'Authorized Version.' Founded as it was on the Greek text at that time accepted by Protestant theologians, and translated with scholarship and conscientious care, this version of the New Testament has deservedly become an object of great reverence, and a truly national treasure to the English Church. The German Church alone possesses in Luther's New Testament a treasure of similar value....
"The Authorized Version, like Luther's, was made from a Greek text which Erasmus in 1516, and Robert Stephens in 1550, had formed from manuscripts of later date than the tenth century. Whether those manuscripts were thoroughly trustworthy --in other words, whether they exhibited the Apostolic original as perfectly as possible--has long been matter of diligent and learned investigation. Since the sixteenth century Greek manuscripts have been discovered of far greater antiquity than those of Erasmus and Stephens; as well as others in Latin, Syriac, Coptic, and Gothic, into which languages the sacred text was translated between the second and fourth centuries; while in the works of the Fathers, from the second century downwards, many quotations from the New Testament have been found and compared....One thing is agreed upon by the majority of those who understand the subject, namely, that the oldest copies approach the original text more nearly than the later ones.
"Providence has ordained for the New Testament more sources of the greatest antiquity than are possessed by all the old Greek literature put together. And of these, two manuscripts have for long been especially esteemed by Christian scholars, since, in addition to their great antiquity, they contain very nearly the whole of both the Old and New Testaments. Of these two, one is deposited in the Vatican, and the other in the British Museum. Within the last ten years a third has been added to the number, which was found at Mount Sinai, and is now at St. Petersburg. These three manuscripts undoubtedly stand at the head of all the ancient copies of the New Testament, and it is by their standard that both the early editions of the Greek text and the modern versions are to be compared and corrected.
"The effect of comparing the common English text with the most ancient authorities will be as often to disclose agreement as disagreement. True, the three great manuscripts alluded to differ from each other both in age and authority, and no one of them can be said to stand so high that its sole verdict is sufficient to silence all contradiction. But to treat such ancient authorities with neglect would be either unwarrantable arrogance or culpable negligence; and it would be indeed a misunderstanding of the dealings of Providence, if after these documents had
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been preserved through all the dangers of fourteen or fifteen centuries, and delivered safe into our hands, we were not to receive them with thankfulness as the most valuable instruments for the elucidation of truth.
"It may be urged that our undertaking is opposed to true reverence; and that by thus exposing the inaccuracies of the English Version, we shall bring discredit upon a work which has been for centuries the object of love and veneration both in public and private. But those who would stigmatize the process of scientific criticism and test, which we propose, as irreverent, are greatly mistaken. To us the most reverential course appears to be, to accept nothing as the Word of God which is not proved to be so by the evidence of the oldest, and therefore most certain, witnesses that he has put into our hands. With this in view, and with this intention, the writer has occupied himself for thirty years past, in searching not only the Libraries of Europe, but the obscurest convents of the East, both in Africa and Asia, for the most ancient manuscript, of the Bible; and has done all in his power to collect the most important of such documents, to arrange them and to publish them for the benefit both of the present age and of posterity, so as to settle the original text of the sacred writers on the basis of the most careful investigation.
"The first of these great manuscripts already referred to which came into possession of Europe was the Vatican Codex. Whence it was acquired by the Vatican Library is not known; but it appears in the first catalogue of that collection which dates from the year 1475. The manuscript embraces both the Old and New Testaments. Of the later it contains the four Gospels, the Acts, the seven Catholic Epistles, nine of the Pauline Epistles, and the Epistle to the `Hebrews as far as 9:14`, from which verse to the end of the New Testament it is deficient; so that not only the `last chapters of Hebrews`, but the Epistle to `Timothy`, `Titus` and `Philemon`, as well as the `Revelation`, are missing. The peculiarities of the writing, the arrangement of the manuscript, and the character of the text--especially certain very remarkable readings--all combine to place the execution of the Codex in the fourth century, possibly about the middle of it.
"The Alexandrine Codex was presented to King Charles the First in 1628 by Cyril Lucar, Patriarch of Constantinople, who had himself brought it from Alexandria, of which place he was formerly Patriarch, and whence it derives its name. It contains both the Old and New Testaments. Of the New the following passages are wanting:--`Matt. 1:1 to 25:6`; `John 6:50 to 8:52`; `2 Cor. 4:13 to 12:6`. ...It would appear to have been written about the middle of the fifth century.
"The Sinaitic Codex I was myself so happy as to discover in 1844 and 1859, at the convent of St. Catherine, on Mount Sinai, in the later of which years I brought it to Russia to the Emperor Alexander the Second, at whose instance my second journey to the East was undertaken. It contains both Old and New Testaments --the latter perfect without the loss of a single leaf....All the considerations which tend to fix the date of manuscripts lead to the conclusion that the Sinaitic Codex belongs to the middle of the fourth century. Indeed, the evidence is clearer in this case than in that of the Vatican Codex; and it is not improbable (which cannot be the case with the Vatican MS.) that it is one of the fifty copies which the Emperor Constantine in the year 331 directed to be made for Byzantium, under the care of Eusebius of Caesarea. In this case it is a natural inference that it was sent from Byzantium to the monks of St. Catherine by the Emperor Justinian, the founder of the convent. The entire Codex was published by its discoverer, under the orders of the Emperor of Russia, in 1862, with the most scrupulous exactness, and in a truly magnificent shape, and the New Testament portion was issued in a portable form in 1863 and 1865.
"These considerations seem to show that the first place among the three great manuscripts, both for age and extent, is held by the Sinaitic Codex, the second by the Vatican, and the third by the Alexandrine. And this order is completely confirmed by the text they exhibit, which is not merely that which was accepted in the East at the time they were copied; but, having been written by Alexandrine copyists who knew but little of Greek, and therefore had no temptation to make alterations, they remain in a high degree faithful to the text which was accepted through a large portion of Christendom in the third and second centuries. The proof of this is their agreement with the most ancient translations--namely, the so-called Italic, made in the second century in proconsular Africa; the Syriac Gospels of the same date, now transferred from the convents of the Nitrian desert to the British Museum; and the Coptic version of the third century. It is confirmed also by their agreement with the oldest of the Fathers, such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement and Origen.
"These remarks apply to the Sinaitic Codex--which is remarkably close in its agreement to the 'Italic' version--more than they do to the Vatican MS., and still more so than the Alexandrine, which, however, is of far more value in the Acts, Epistles and Apocalypse than it is in the Gospels....
"No single work of ancient Greek classical literature can command three such original witnesses as the Sinaitic, Vatican and Alexandrine Manuscripts, to
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the integrity and accuracy of its text. That they are available in the case of a book which is at once the most sacred and the most important in the world is surely matter for the deepest thankfulness to God."
OTHER MEANS OF VERIFICATION.
Another remarkable means for preserving and verifying the New Testament writings is their copious quotation in other writings. Origen, who wrote in the early part of the third century, quotes 5745 passages from all the books in the New Testament; Tertullian (A.D. 200) makes more than 3000 quotations from the N.T. books; Clement (A.D. 194) quotes 380 passages; Irenaeus (A.D. 178) quotes 767 passages; Polycarp, who was martyred A.D. 165, after serving Christ 86 years, quoted 36 passages in a single epistle; Justin Martyr (A.D. 140) also quotes from the N.T. These were all Christian writers; and in addition to these, the Scriptures were largely quoted by heathen and infidel writers, among them Celsus (A.D. 150) and Porphyry (A.D. 304). Indeed the entire New Testament, with the exception of about a dozen verses, has been found scattered as quotations through various writings that are still extant. And if every copy of the N.T. had been destroyed by its enemies, the book could have been reproduced from these quotations contained in the writings of the early Christians and their enemies.
While the means for the preservation of the Scriptures have been thus remarkably complete, and in view of the unparalleled opposition with which they have met give evidence of Divine care in their preservation, the means for their verification, and for arriving at an understanding of them in God's due time, are found to be none the less remarkable. No other book in the world has ever had such attention as this book. The labor that has been spent in the preparation of complete concordances, indexes, various translations, etc., has been enormous; and the results to students of the Bible are of incalculable value. And while we recognize the providence of God in all this, we should and do appreciate these labors of his children and their great service to us, though we utterly repudiate, as useless, the labor that has been spent on many so-called theological writings, which are nothing more than miserable efforts to support the vain traditions of men, the accumulated monstrous volumes of which would indeed form a monument of human folly.
Just in "The Time of the End," when the prophet (`Dan. 12:9,10`) declares that "the wise (the meek and faithful children of God) shall understand," we find these wonderful aids coming forward to our assistance. And parallel with these has happened the general spread of intelligence and education and the placing of the Bible in the hands of the people, thus enabling them to use the helps provided.
In view of these things, our only reasonable conclusion must be, that this wonderful book has been completely under Divine supervision in its preparation, and in its gradual and seasonable unfolding to the understanding; and yet it has all been accomplished through human agency. Those who are too careless, or too indifferent, or who permit themselves to be too much engrossed with the cares of this life to give it a studious examination, should not be expected to comprehend its weight of authority, and its full evidence of credibility. We are aware of the fact that in these days when the art of printing has flooded the world with literature of every description, good, bad, and indifferent, one might reasonably reply, We cannot examine everything. Very true, but this book has a claim superior to that of any other book in the world, and no man is as justifiable in laying it upon the shelf, as he would be in doing with the Koran or the Vedas.
The very existence of such a book, animated with such a spirit of justice, wisdom, love and power, and disclosing such good tidings of great joy to all people, having such a history and authorship, and containing such varied information--historic, scientific, and moral; and so remarkably preserved for so many centuries, though so violently opposed, is sufficient to awaken at least a suspicion of its value, and to claim the attention and investigation of every reasoning mind. The claims of this book upon our attention are by far superior to those of any other, and these reasonable claims appear on its very surface, while every systematic and properly directed effort at investigation rewards the diligent student with copious and
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abundant proof, both of its truthfulness and of its value.
THE INSPIRATION OF THE BIBLE.
The Bible claims to be a book written under divine inspiration. The word inspire signifies to breathe in, to infuse, to fill, to inhale--as to inspire the lungs with air. (See Webster's Dictionary.) Hence, when it is said that certain scriptures, or writings of godly men, were given by inspiration of God (`2 Tim. 3:16`), it signifies that those men were in some way, whether through miraculous or natural means, inspired by, or brought under the influence of God; so as to be used by him in speaking or writing such words as he wished to have expressed. The prophets and apostles all claimed such inspiration. Peter says, "The prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the holy Spirit."--`2 Pet. 1:21`.
Through Moses we have the law of God and the only existing credible history of mankind from the creation of Adam down to his own time, covering a period of about 2500 years. While Moses and the other Bible writers were holy men, inspired with pure motives and holy zeal, and while personal pride, ambition, etc., were no part of their spirit, we learn that Moses was inspired with the knowledge of God's law, both in its great principles and also in the minutiae of its typical ceremonials, by direct revelation from God at Mount Sinai, and of some points of duty at the burning bush at Horeb, etc.
As for his historical writings, Moses was evidently guided of God in the collation and presentation in its present complete and connected form of the history of the world down to his day, which was really in great part the history of his own family back to Adam with an account of the creation doubtless given by God to Adam while he was yet in fellowship in Eden. Nor does a correct handing down of family information, covering a period of over 2300 years, seem impossible, or liable, as it would now be, to have become polluted; for, aside from the fact that it was handed down through the God-fearing family line of Seth, it should be remembered that at that time the bodies, brains and memories of men were not so weak as they are now, and as they have been since the flood; and finally, because the long lives of two men link Adam with the family of Abraham, the family of covenant favor,--with Isaac, the typical seed of promise. These two men were Methuselah and Shem. Methuselah was over 200 years old when Adam died, and had abundant opportunity, therefore, for information at first hands; and Shem, the son of Noah, lived contemporaneously with Methuselah for 98 years, and with Isaac for 50 years. Thus, these two living, God-fearing men acted as God's historians to communicate his revelations and dealings to the family in whom centered the promises, of which Moses was one of the prospective heirs.
In addition to these facts, we have the statement of Josephus that Methuselah, Noah and Shem, the year before the flood, inscribed the history and discoveries of the world on two monuments of stone and brick which were still standing in Moses' time.
As for the writings of the prophets, their devoted, godly lives attest their sincerity; their lives were spent for God and in the defense of righteousness, and not for gain and worldly honor. And as for proofs that God acted through them and that they merely expressed his messages, as Peter declares, it is to be found in the fulfilment of their predictions. These we need not enumerate here and now, as they are elaborated in MILLENNIAL DAWN, Volumes I. and II.; and will be further discussed in Vol. III., now in course of preparation.
This brings us to the examination of the inspiration of the New Testament. Of the four gospel narratives and the book of the Acts of the Apostles, which are merely historic narratives, it might with considerable force be argued that no inspiration was necessary. But we must remember that since it was God's will that the important doings and teachings of our Lord and his disciples should be handed down, for the information and guidance of his Church throughout the age, it was necessary that God, even while leaving the writers free to record those truths in their own several styles of expression and arrangement, should nevertheless exercise a supervision of his work. To this end it would appear reasonable that he would cause circumstances, etc., to call to the memory of one or another of them items and details which, otherwise, in so condensed an account of matters so important, would have been overlooked. And this was no less the work of God's spirit, power, or influence than the more noticeable and peculiar manifestations through the prophets.
The Apostle Peter tells us that the prophets of old time often did not understand their own utterances, as they themselves also acknowledge (`1 Pet. 1:12`; `Dan. 12:4,8-10`); and we should remember that the twelve apostles (Paul taking the place of Judas--`Gal. 1:17`; `1 Tim. 2:7`) not only filled the office of apostles --or specially appointed teachers and expounders of the Gospel of the New Covenant--but they also, especially Peter and Paul and John, filled the office of prophets, and were not only given the spirit of wisdom and understanding by which they were enabled to understand and explain the previously dark prophecies, but in addition to this we believe that they were under the guidance and supervision of the Lord to such an extent that their references to things future from their day, things therefore not then due to be fully understood, were guided, so as to be true to an extent far beyond their comprehension, and such consequently were as really prophetic as the utterances of the old-time prophets. Illustrations of this are to be found in the Revelations of the Apostle John, in Peter's symbolic description of the Day of the Lord (`2 Pet. 3:10-13`), and in numerous references to the same period by Paul also, among which were some things hard to be understood even by Peter (`2 Pet. 3:16`) and only partially then by Paul himself. The latter, however, was permitted to see future things more clearly than others of his time, and to that end he was given special visions and revelations which he was not allowed to make known to others (`2 Cor. 12:1-4`), but which, nevertheless, influenced and colored his subsequent teachings and his epistles. And these very items which Peter thought strange of, and called "hard to be understood," are the very items which now, in God's due time, for which they were intended, so grandly illuminate not only Peter's prophecies and John's Revelation, but the entire word and plan of God, --that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished.--`2 Tim. 3:16,17`.
That the early church considered the writings and teachings of the apostles different from all others, in authority, is manifest from the early arrangement of these writings together and the keeping separate from these, as apocryphal, other good writings of other good men. And yet there were, even in the days of the apostles, ambitious men who taught another gospel and claimed for themselves the honors of special revelations and authority as apostles and teachers of no less authority than the twelve apostles.
And ambitious men of the same sort have from time to time since arisen-- Emanuel Swedenborg and many less able and less notable--whose claims, if conceded, would not only place them in rank far above Paul, the prince of the apostles, but whose teachings would tend to discredit entirely, as "old wives' fables," the whole story of redemption and remission of sins through the blood of the cross. These would-be apostles, boastful, heady, high-minded, have "another gospel," a perversion of the gospel of Christ; and above all they despise and seek to cast discredit upon the words of Paul who so clearly, forcibly and logically lifts up the standard of faith and points to the cross--the ransom--as the sure foundation, and who so clearly showed that pseudo-apostles, false apostles, would arise and deceive many.
It not only required an inspiration to write God's plan, but it also requires an inspiration of the Almighty to give an understanding of that revelation; yet this inspiration is of a different sort. When any one has realized himself a sinner, weak, imperfect and condemned, and has accepted of Christ as his Redeemer, and full of love and appreciation has consecrated his heart (his mind, his will) to the Lord, to henceforth please not himself but his Redeemer,--God has arranged that such a consecration of the natural mind brings a new mind. It opens the way for the holy mind or will of God, expressed through his written word, to be received; and as it is received into such a good, honest, consecrated heart, it in-forms that heart and opens the eyes of the understanding, so that from the new standpoint (God's standpoint) many things wear a very different aspect, and among other things the Scripture teachings, which gradually open up as item after item of the divine plan is fulfilled, and new features of the unfolding plan become due to be understood, and from the new standpoint appreciated and accepted.
Just as with astronomers, the close observation of facts and influences already recognized often leads them to look in certain directions for hitherto undiscovered planets, and they find them, so with the seekers after spiritual truths; the clear appreciation and close study of the known plan lead gradually, step by step, to the discovery of other particulars, hitherto unnoticed,
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each of which only adds to the beauty and harmony of the truths previously seen. Thus it is that "The path of the just is a shining light which shineth more and more unto the perfect day."
Of course the writings of all such as have their wills fully subjected to the mind of God, as revealed in his Word, must be also somewhat inspired by God's spirit, received from his Word by their complete
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subjection to its leading. The spirit of the truth inspires and controls to a greater or lesser extent not only their pens but their words and thoughts, and even their very looks. Yet such an inspiration, common to all the saints, in proportion to their development, should be critically distinguished from the special and peculiarly guided and guarded inspiration of the twelve apostles, whom God specially appointed to be the teachers of the church, and who have no successors in this office. Only twelve were "chosen," and when one of these, Judas, fell from his honorable office, the Lord in due time appointed Paul to the place; and he not only has never recognized others, but clearly indicates that he never will recognize others in that office.--`Rev. 21:14`.
With the death of the Apostles the canon of Scripture closed, because God had there given a full and complete revelation of his plan for man's salvation; though some of it was in a condensed form which has since expanded and is expanding and unfolding and will continue to expand and shine more and more until the perfect day--the Millennial Day--has been fully ushered in. Paul expresses this thought clearly when he declares that the Holy Scriptures are able to make wise unto salvation, and that they are sufficient.
As we consider, then, the completeness, harmony, purity and grandeur of the Bible, its age and wonderful preservation through the wreck and storms of six thousand years, it must be admitted to be a most wonderful book; and those who have learned to read it understandingly, who see in it the great plan of the ages, cannot doubt that God was its inspiring Author, as well as its Preserver. Its only parallel is the book of nature by the same great Author.
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THE TWO SALVATIONS.
"That now unto the principalities and powers in the heavenlies might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God."--`Eph. 3:10`.
"Blind leaders of the blind" in Babylon insist that the "manifold wisdom of God" is now apparent, and can be fully appreciated by all men, whereas the Lord Jesus, at his first advent, positively stated that only his disciples were able to even partially understand the truths he set forth. (`Matt. 13:11`; `Mark 4:11`; `Luke 8:10`.) Before his crucifixion Jesus told his disciples further, that the same conditions would continue until the end of the Gospel age. (`Matt. 24:3,31`.) Paul explains that during the Gospel period the "manifold wisdom of God" is made known to the "principalities and powers in heavenly (not earthly) places,--to the church. (`Eph. 3:10`.) During the present reign of evil the glad tidings operate in the world to take out a people for the Lord's name. (`Acts 15:14`.) When these "people for a purpose" shall all have been taken out, and "The Christ," head and body, have been united (`Gal. 3:16 and 29`, and `Eph. 4:15-16`), God will inaugurate the work of restoring mankind to soundness of being, which is the salvation promised to the people of the world. --`Acts 3:19-22`.
The instruments to be used in this grand work will be the "new creatures" whom God has chosen in Christ, with the Lord Jesus as their head, or chief. (`Col. 1:18`.) Through faith in him these "new creatures" have been "born from above, of water and spirit" (`John 3:3-6`, and `1 Peter 1:24`), and thus during this life, by enduring trial and temptation, have been "translated into the kingdom of his dear Son" (`Col. 1:13`), and thereby they possess the promise of the "divine nature" (`2 Pet. 1:4`), which, until the resurrection, they have only in "earthen vessels." (`2 Cor. 4:7`.) When resurrected they will obtain this "divine nature" fully, and thus while having borne the "image of the earthy," they will then bear the "image of the heavenly." (`1 Cor. 15:45,47,48` and `1 John 3:2`.) As above said, their work will be to restore those who remain, "of the earth, earthy," to earthy perfection (`1 Cor. 15:45,47,48`) as each seed has its own kind of body.-- `1 Cor. 15:38`; `Acts 3:21`; `Gen. 1:27-28`.
Thus, when all shall have been raised up to perfection (the "new creatures" to the glory of the "divine nature," and the "earthy" to the glory of complete human nature), all that was lost in Adam will have been restored in Christ. (`1 Cor. 15:22`.) How luminous these truths make Paul's statement that "we trust in the living God who is the Savior of all men, specially [chiefly] of them that believe." --`1 Tim. 4:10`.
As the "new creatures" prove their love for their Lord by suffering with him now, so the "earthy" in their "due time" must show their love for and obedience to the same Lord when he is reigning with his saints. (`Psa. 2:9`; `49:14`; `Dan. 7:22`; `Rev. 2:27`; `12:5`; `19:15`.) Should any creature sin wilfully after having received full light, and been given ability to live up to it, he will be "destroyed from among the people."--`Acts 3:23`; `Heb. 10:26`; `Jer. 31:29-31`.
Peter argues (`1 Pet. 1:3-13`): Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy has begotten us to a hope of life by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, into an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and unfading, kept in the heavens for us, who are guided by the power of God, through faith, for a salvation prepared to be disclosed in the last season (Greek, kairos-- fixed time). In which we rejoice, though now for a little while (it being necessary) we are distressed by manifold trials, in order that the proof of our faith, which is more precious than gold that perishes, even though tested by fire, may be found unto praise, and honor, and glory, at the revelation of Jesus Christ; whom, not having seen, we love: on whom, not now looking, but [on whom] believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, receiving [Gr. komizo--to bring-- hence to receive with the added sense of bringing along with] the end of our faith --salvation [soundness] of souls [beings]. Concerning which salvation prophets, who prophesied concerning this favor toward us, sought out and investigated, searching as to what things, or what seasons, the spirit that was in them was pointing out, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glories to follow: to whom it was revealed, that not for themselves but for us they ministered those things, which are now declared through those who deliver the joyful message with the Holy Spirit sent from heaven: into which things angels earnestly desire to look. Wherefore, girding up the loins of our mind and being vigilant, let us hope perfectly for the gift to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
How plainly this teaching of the Spirit sets forth the future for the "little flock," who are a "Chosen Race, a Royal Priesthood, a Holy Nation, a People for a Purpose." --`1 Pet. 2:9`, Diaglott.
W. E. P.
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AN EMINENT BAPTIST'S AVOWAL.
John Foster, the eminent Baptist minister of long ago, wrote to a young minister (See, his Life and Correspondence,-- London edition) thus:--
"Endless punishment! I acknowledge my inability (I would say it reverently) to admit this belief, together with a belief in the divine goodness--the belief that "God is love;" that "his tender mercies are over all his works." Goodness, benevolence, charity ascribed in supreme perfection to him, cannot mean a quality foreign to all human conception of goodness; it must be something analogous in principle to what he himself has defined and required as goodness in his moral creatures, that in adoring the divine goodness we may not be worshiping an "unknown God." But if so, how would all our ideas be confounded, while contemplating him bringing, of his own sovereign will, a race of creatures into existence in such a condition that they certainly will and must,--by their nature and circumstances, go wrong and be miserable, unless prevented by especial grace,--which is the privilege of only a small proportion of them; and at the same time affixing on their delinquency a doom of which it is infinitely beyond the highest archangel's faculty to apprehend a thousandth part of the horror....
"A number (not large, but of great piety and intelligence) of ministers within my acquaintance, several now dead, have been disbelievers of the doctrine in question; at the same time not feeling themselves imperatively called upon to make a public disavowal; content with employing in their ministrations strong general terms in denouncing the doom of impenitent sinners.
"For one thing, a consideration of the unendurable imputations and unmeasured suspicions apt to be cast on any publicly declared practical defection from rigid "orthodoxy" has made them think they would better consult their usefulness by not giving prominence to this dissentient point while yet they make no concealment of it in private communications and in answers to serious inquiries. When, besides, they have considered how strangely defective and feeble is the efficacy of the terrible doctrine itself, to alarm and deter careless, irreligious minds, they have
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thought themselves the less required to propound one that so greatly qualifies the blackness of the prospect. They could not be unaware of the grievous truth of what is so strongly insisted on as an argument by the defenders of the tenet-- that thoughtless and wicked men would be sure to seize on the mitigated doctrine to encourage themselves in their impenitence. But this is only the same perverse and fatal use that they make of the doctrine of grace and mercy through Jesus Christ. If they will so abuse the truth we cannot help it. But methinks even this fact tells against the doctrine in question. If in the very nature of man as created, every individual, by the Sovereign Power, be in such desperate disorder that there is no possibility of conversion and salvation in the instances where that power interposes with a special and redeeming efficacy, how can we conceive that the main proportion of the race thus morally impotent (that is really and absolutely impotent) will be eternally punished for the inevitable result of this moral impotence?"
Probably some excuse should be made for such uncandid conduct as this frank avowal indicates, because the morning had not yet begun to dawn; yet we cannot hold a Christian minister blameless in preaching and outwardly supporting a doctrine, which at heart, and in private, he denied as unreasonable, and a calumny against God's character. Years ago the light upon God's Word and the helps in its study were much less than now, when surely no one is very excusable for lacking a knowledge of the clear, reasonable and consistent teaching of the Bible on this subject--one in which every text, parable, symbol and dark saying finds a reasonable solution.
Though John Foster lacked the "helps" and felt that some of the passages of the Bible (especially the modern translations, made by men who held this popular error) seemed, in symbolic language, to favor the popular theory of the eternal torment of all mankind except the saints, he should have been true to his own convictions; he should not have professed to believe, nor have attempted to teach, to any extent whatever, what he affirmed he did not and could not force himself to believe.
He should have avowed candidly and publicly his disbelief and taken the consequences. And he should have begun a thorough and systematic study of the subject, from the Bible standpoint; seeking for the light necessary to harmonize the figurative and symbolic and parabolic passages with the plain and reasonable revelation of God's character. Had he thus hungered and thirsted after righteousness [after right--truth,] who will say that he would have been turned away empty and uncertain, when the Lord declares that such "shall be filled." Had he thus sought and knocked at the Lord's treasury of wisdom, who will affirm that it would have remained a "sealed" book (`Isa. 29:11-14`) to him, when the Lord declares that he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.--`Matt. 7:7`.
Yes, "blessed are they" who are thus honest and earnest;--they shall be filled, and the treasure house shall be opened to them: but those not thus disposed, lose a great blessing from God while keeping the favor and honor of men and holding comfortable situations.
John Foster says that he and others feared loss of influence, "usefulness," and the addition of "unendurable imputations." It is the old story: They had consecrated their lives (as every true Christian has done) to God's service, agreeing to be "living sacrifices;" yet, when the time came, when there was an opportunity to suffer for Christ's sake, they feared the suffering--the dying daily. These are evidently of the class mentioned by Paul, "who through fear of death [the sacrificial dying, as living sacrifices] are all their life-time subject to bondage." Such will be saved so as by fire; they will be part of the Second Company who will serve before the throne with palm branches (`Rev. 7:14,15`); but they are not, so far as we may judge from their own profession, worthy of a place in that "little flock" of overcomers who shall reign with Christ.
We may draw some of our most useful lessons from the failure and confessions of others, if careful to gauge our lessons by God's testimony, the Bible. This lesson to each one seeking to please God and to be blessed and honored of Him (now with a knowledge of His plan and by and by with a share in the Kingdom which will execute that plan) is, Be honest toward God, toward yourself and toward your fellow-creatures; profess and teach only what you fully believe; and hunger, thirst,
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seek, and knock for the truth at God's great store-house--the Bible. If God does not send the key to you direct, he will at least put you in contact with some of the servants who have the keys, and who, as his and your servants, are engaged in bringing forth things new and old--meat in due season for the household of faith. --`Matt. 24:45`; `13:52`.
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I have just been feeding my stock-- horses and colts, cows and calves, hogs and pigs. I feed them all with hay. They all ate it greedily, for it was good hay; and they all seemed to be doing well. While they were eating I was thinking. And as it is too wet to plow this morning, I will write my thoughts. These colts are growing. Growing means more bone, more muscle, more fat, more teeth enameled, more hoof, more hide, more hair, more mane, more tail, larger eyes, more tendons, lengthened arteries and veins, a proportional enlargement of the heart, the lungs, the digestive organs, the viscera, etc., etc. It takes a thousand things to make a colt, and there must be something added to each of these thousand things every day, as the colt increases in size, and becomes a horse. Now where does the colt get a little more all the time to add to these thousand things? All out of the hay. The dried grass that I feed him furnishes him bone and flesh and skin and hair; and it goes just where it is needed. It goes to the different parts of the animal in just the right proportions. It does not make too much of any one thing, or fail to make enough of any.
Now take the dried grass to the most skillful chemist. Tell him to analyze it, and see if he can get flesh and bone and hair out of it as the colt does, and he will tell you that he cannot do any such thing. The wonder to me is that my colts, and every body else's colts the world over, can do what these men of science can't do.
But there is something stranger yet: The calves eat the same hay, and they make out of it differently shaped bones and hoofs, different flesh and fat, from that which the colts make. They make horns, too, and the colts don't; and the cows, feeding beside the horses, make milk out of the hay, and milk is a very curious liquid. It contains caseine and albumen, and ever so many other ingredients, all of which come from the hay. Isn't there something strange about this? It seems to me that if I had in my barn at feeding-time one of the wise men who think they can explain everything; that we don't need any God; that their theory of evolution, and their laws of nature, are sufficient for making the world and for keeping it a-going,--it seems to me that I could puzzle him by just pointing to my horses and cattle.
Now suppose I had three machines; that when I put hay into one of them and turned the crank awhile, out would come carpet of perfect texture and beautiful colors. Then, if I put the same kind of hay into another machine, and turned the crank awhile, out would come sets of porcelain, plates, cups, saucers, etc.,--all perfectly shaped, enameled, and painted. And, finally, if I should put hay into a third machine, the result would be books, well printed, elegantly bound, and profusely illustrated. What would the scientists who know all about making worlds say to my machines? Wouldn't they think there was something about them that was never dreamed of in their philosophy?
But I have in my barn yard a score or more of machines fully as wonderful. They are working up the hay into hundreds of different things, and into just the right proportion of each, while I write. Did a law of nature make these machines? and do the laws of nature keep them a-going! Yea, verily, and herein is proof that a great First Cause, a wise and powerful Being, established these laws and superintends all their operations.
It is said that Robespierre, when he saw the effects of atheism in France, exclaimed: "If there is no God, we must make one; for we cannot get along without him." So must every man feel who has not permitted that "dangerous thing," a "little learning," to magnify his self-conceit and minify his common sense.
The tendency of positivism, and of all the infidel philosophy of our day, is to sheer atheism. Men want to get rid of the idea of a personal God--a great, wise, and good Being who made, upholds, and governs all things. But grand, solemn and mysterious as that idea is, it is the simplest explanation of the wonders that we see around us. The grass is growing now all over our hills and plains. Why? The soil was full of seeds, we are told, and the rain has made them germinate. But water can't make grass out of seeds. Here is a chair factory all complete, and lumber piled up in it. And now fire is kindled
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under the boiler, and the wheels revolve; but no chairs are turned out. Why? The chair-maker has not come to put the lumber into the lathes. Nature during winter or a drouth is like that factory, full of lumber but without steam. Nature, when the sun shines and the rain falls, is like that factory when the steam is up, and the wheels are in motion. Nature is God's workshop. It is the grand factory in which he is making all the while the many, the numberless things that we speak of as growing. In everything that lives, and moves, and grows, and blooms, we see proof of the wisdom and the power of an omnipotent God.--Selected.
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WE SHOULD SAVE OURSELVES.
"Save yourselves from this untoward generation." --`Acts 2:40`.
While Orthodoxy and Rome make strong and plain pleadings with mankind to save themselves from "Hell" and never-ending torture, the thinking Christian must have been struck with the fact that our Savior never made such plain entreaty. Jesus taught a punishment and trouble now, and in the future, for the wicked, but it was always by parable. The world misunderstood his teachings and continues to, but it was the blessed privilege of his disciples to understand. (`Luke 8:10`.) Those wholly consecrated now, and gladly following the "Lamb whithersoever he goeth," know that their Master will continue to give them "meat in due season," both in "things new and old," as they are "able to bear it."--`John 14:26`; `Matt. 24:45`; `13:52`.
While the apostles followed the Lord's injunction and preached the glad tidings of a coming kingdom in which would "dwell righteousness," they made no plain statement regarding an endless condition of conscious misery. Yet Paul assures us that he did not shrink from making known the whole counsel (will) of God. (`Acts 20:27`.) Peter, in the text quoted at the beginning of this article, exhorts, "Be saved from this perverse generation." (Rotherham's translation.) Not one word about being saved from a future, never ending misery, though the time was wondrously propitious for such a message, if such a doom awaits those refusing to be guided by the call. The Pentecostal blessing had just been received, and the Holy Spirit was present with gifts of power to aid in promulgating a gospel of fear, if there were need of preaching such a gospel. Peter, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, simply pleads, "Save yourselves from this untoward generation." Will it not be wise for us to go to the Bible and ask our Master to free us from all prejudice and tradition, and give us the "pure milk of the word" in this matter? Many earnest lovers of the Lord, whose greatest desire is to "spend and be spent" in his service, so agonize in the thoughts of the future torture of those not now reached by the "Glad Tidings," that they cannot "be anxious about nothing," but in nervous dread spend days and months in distressing labor to "save souls," and find no rest. Others grow indifferent at the continued and growing apathy with which their message is received, and become lukewarm. A true understanding of the proclamation entrusted to them would enable all true Christians to more fully and joyously fulfill their service.
Let us try to find in the Scriptures what there was "untoward" or "perverse" about the generation of Peter's day, and see if the same conditions yet prevail. In `Eph. 2:2`, Paul says, "Wherein in times past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience." Do we not find here the cause for the "perverse generation" of Peter's time, and while we now have different manifestations, does not the same spirit work in the present "children of disobedience?" In the same epistle (`6:12`), Paul further explains that the spirit is due, not only to depraved human nature, but also to the influence of the devil and his angels. The work of this spirit in the flesh is clearly set forth in `Gal. 5:19-21, and in verses 22-23` is contrasted the fruits of the new spirit in those who have been saved from this "untoward generation." In this connection also study carefully `Eph. 4:17-32` and `Col. 3:1-17`. These Bible teachings set forth grandly what message of salvation the Christian is to proclaim, and give us an incentive to walk humbly in love before our God now, knowing He will exalt us "in due time."
Those who have been "delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of his dear Son" (`Col. 1:13`), do not "commit (practice) sin, but purify themselves, even as he is pure" (`1 John 3:3-8`), and thus are saved from this evil generation now. While they may be "overtaken in a fault," or through the wiles of the devil be led for a while to wander, their Lord will watch and discipline them, to lead them back into the fold, and if they heed his leadings, they will overcome these evil influences, because "greater is he who is in them, than he who is in the world."--`1 John 4:4`.
To be "saved" is to have all the desires of the flesh (those proper and right, as well as the sinful ones) under subjection, and laid daily on God's altar, a willing sacrifice (`Rom. 12:1`), that we may make up in the flesh that which is "behind in the sufferings of Christ."--`Col. 1:24`.
With this Scriptural teaching showing salvation to be a present condition, which reaches into the age to come, how the mist clears, and how precious becomes our privilege to be "new creatures in Christ Jesus." Becoming associates of the Lord Jesus, and "followers of God, as dear children," we come into a perfect love which casts out all fear, for fear has torment (`1 John 4:18`), and we find ourselves possessed, not of a spirit of bondage again to fear, but we receive a spirit of adoption whereby we cry "Abba, Father." (`Rom. 8:15`.) No necessity now for going along fearfully, wondering if we are saved: we have His spirit "witnessing with ours that we are the children of God." We know daily that it is our meat and drink to do our Master's will. Every day's experience demonstrates that we are saved from the spirit that "now worketh in the children of disobedience." We long to be perfectly obedient, and but for our realization that Christ is our "wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption" (`1 Cor. 1:30`), the sense of our shortcomings would be unbearable. Our Master gives us his peace, which the world can "neither give nor take away," and thus takes the burden of our frailty and incompetency from us, and we are able to stand complete in him.
We thus rest in Him in the present and for the future, knowing that He has "all power in heaven and on earth." Believing that while we were "without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly," so too do we believe that "in due time" his ransom will be testified unto all men. (`1 Tim. 2:6`.) He is not dependent on sinful flesh and blood to perfectly carry out the divine plan of "Justification of Life" for all men. (`Rom. 5:18`.)
As our Lord Jesus offered himself a sacrifice first, and was then exalted, so now, during this Gospel age, he permits the "called" who fulfil their consecration and become the "chosen" (`Matt. 22:14`) to suffer with him, that they may reign with him, when he has established his kingdom on earth. (`2 Tim. 2:12`.) During this present evil age only those who "love righteousness and hate wickedness" (`Heb. 1:9`) receive the spirit of God, and only those who have this spirit can understand the things we speak, for "the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. Now, we have received not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought; but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory, which none of the princes of this world knew, for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.-- `1 Cor. 2:14,12,13,6,7,15,16`. W. E. P.