VOL. IX. ALLEGHENY, PA., AUGUST, 1888. NO. 12.
Zion's Watch Tower
HERALD OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE.
TOWER PUBLISHING COMPANY.
BUSINESS OFFICE: No. 151 Robinson St., Allegheny, Pa. C. T. RUSSELL, EDITOR.
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BISHOP R.S. FOSTER'S VIEW.
Instead of our own, we present this month a VIEW of the nominal church in general, and of the Methodist church in particular, as seen and described by one of the foremost Methodist Bishops of our day, as we clip it from The Testimony as follows:--
"The church of God is to-day courting the world. Its members are trying to bring it down to the level of the ungodly. The ball, the theatre, nude and lewd art, social luxuries with all their loose moralities, are making inroads into the church; and as a satisfaction for all this worldliness Christians are making a great deal of Lent, and Easter and Good Friday, and church ornamentation. It is the old trick of Satan. The Jewish church struck on that rock; the Romish church was wrecked on the same, and the Protestant church is fast reaching the same doom.
"Our great dangers, as we see them, are assimilation to the world, neglect of the poor, substitution of the form for the fact of godliness, abandonment of discipline, a hireling ministry, and impure gospel, which summed up, is--a fashionable church.
"Do not Methodists, in violation of God's word and their own discipline, dress as extravagantly and as fashionably as any other class? Do not the ladies and often the wives and the daughters of the ministry, put on gold and pearls, and costly array?...Can any one going into a Methodist church in any of our chief cities, distinguish the attire of the communicants from that of the theatre and ball goers?
"Is not worldliness seen in the music? Elaborately dressed and ornamented choirs, who in many cases make no profession of religion, and are often sneering skeptics, go through a cold, artistic, or operatic performance, which is as much in harmony with spiritual worship as an opera or theatre. Under such worldly performances spirituality is frozen to death.
"Worldly socials, fairs, festivals, and such like, have taken the place of religious gatherings, revival meetings, class and prayer meetings of earlier days.... The early Methodist ministers went forth to sacrifice and suffer for Christ. They sought not places of ease and affluence, but of privation and suffering. They gloried not in their big salaries, fine parsonages, and refined congregations, but in the souls that had been won for Jesus. Oh, how changed! A hireling ministry will be a feeble, a timid, a truckling, a time serving ministry, without faith, endurance and holy power. Methodism formerly dealt in the great central truth. Now the pulpits deal largely in generalities, and in popular lectures. The glorious doctrine of entire sanctification is rarely heard and seldom witnessed to in the pulpits."
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BROTHER TACKABURY'S DEATH.
After a protracted illness Brother Tackabury died Sunday morning, Aug. 5th, of consumption of the lungs. The last three months were a season of painful waiting and longing for the grim enemy, death, to finish his consecrated sacrifice. Though inclined, at times, to wonder why our Lord did not sooner permit the executioner (Satan, `Heb. 2:14`,) to snap the last cord, he was far from desiring to dictate in the matter, and accepted the weeks and months of weakness and pain as among the "all things" which he knew were being overruled for his good according to God's promise. Such experiences may be permitted as tests of faith to develop our trust in God; or, they may be profitable to us as giving experiences which will the better enable us to sympathize with the poor dying world in general, many of whom experience similar afflictions, without the supporting grace and strength of the everlasting arms, which carry us through victoriously.
During health it was his chief pleasure to tell the glad tidings of great joy which shall be unto all people,--that the sins of the world had been fully atoned for by the blood of the Lamb of God, and that in consequence "times of restitution of all things" (`Acts 3:19-21`) shall come, when, at his second advent, the great King of kings shall take the dominion of the world out of the hands of "the prince of this world." And when confined to his room, and bed, and only able to converse in low tones, the same gospel of restitution was his theme; interspersed with explanations concerning the future work of the Church, the Bride, the Body of Christ, after the union of all the members with the Head, in glory and power, as the Royal Priesthood; to both rule and teach, and thus to "bless, all the families of the earth."
His fervency of spirit, his patience, his strong confidence, and his explanations of Scripture, backed by an honorable, upright life in his community, seem to have made a favorable impression, so that when the Editor preached his funeral sermon, to an intelligent congregation, of about one hundred and fifty of his towns-people, gave close attention for nearly two hours.
His desire was, that his death might accomplish as good results, to the glory of God, as his life. We trust it may be so, and have already heard good reports that the truth is making progress there.
Our readers will remember Bro. T., as one whose name has appeared occasionally in the TOWER as a contributor. He was, some years since, the pastor of a Methodist congregation in New York, and some will recall his open letter to that congregation, published in our issue of Feb. '83. For about a year he assisted us in the correspondence department of the TOWER, answering many of your letters. He died trusting in the consummation of our hope as set forth in `1 Cor. 15:51-53`. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth; yea saith the Spirit, they rest from their labors, but their works follow with them." `Rev. 14:13`. --See, TOWER of May 1886.
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DEAR TOWER:--THE LIVING CHURCH, a Protestant Episcopal authority, not long since placed side by side, on the same page, two articles, "Studies in the Catholic Creed" and "Preserve the Prayer Book;" a comparison of which may be profitable to the Little Flock.
In the first article, commenting upon that clause in the Protestant Episcopal creed "I believe in one Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church," the writer says, that "it is Catholic because it teaches all the doctrine which must be universally received. She is therefore as a whole, the infallible teacher of mankind. The Scriptures are infallible, but they need an infallible interpreter." (The italics are mine.) Of course the rest of the article is devoted to proof of the position assumed, that the Protestant Episcopal Church is that needed "infallible interpreter;" in the course of which he says, "She was and is the repository of truth for all nations;" that the Bible is received "only on the authority of the Church," that "she decided what was, and what was not inspired."
The second article mentions several very fallible disagreements in this "infallible" Church. One party desires "to strike out the word Regeneration" from the Baptismal office. Another section would "throw open their pulpits to ministers of other Christian bodies;" and although the writer joyfully records failures thus far in these, to him questionable movements, he regretfully admits that "they have been invited to make their communions with us, and have done so." One portion of this infallible church claims the "Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist," which is opposed by another as a relic of Pagan idolatry. Again, there is a contention over the matter of representation of the dioceses in their general conventions, a movement being on foot, magnanimous and perfectly fair upon its face, which will surely result in loss of individuality to the smaller dioceses, and centralize the power and influence in the larger and wealthier ones. So it was in civil as well as religious Rome; so it will result with them. It always has been, and until one Righteous Judge shall come, will continue to be so.
It therefore appears that this Church "as a whole," does not know whether or not baptism regenerates; whether or not other than their own clergy should preach in their own pulpits; whether or not they may "communicate" with other Christians, and whether or not Christ is really present at Communion. This Church, which is vascillating on the point of permitting its privileges and honors to be monopolized by the wealthy, this is another institution which presumptuously claims to be infallible, and expects from its members an unreasoning obedience.
Let us WATCH and pray, and being out of Babylon stay out. As ever yours.
WM. M. WRIGHT.
[Amidst all the systems claiming infallibility, where may simple souls expect to find the true infallible guide? Surely in the Word of God alone. And while not discarding the assistance of those whom God hath raised up as teachers and aids in various ways to the body of Christ, but receiving their aid gladly, their value must always be decided by the Word of God, by which we must prove all things.
Teachers have no right to give out their opinions upon Scripture, without giving also the Scriptural reasons for drawing their conclusions. Then, each hearer should use his own head in deciding whether or
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not the conclusions suggested are to be considered the logical sense of the Scriptures.
The day for swallowing the ipsi dixit of fallible men, merely because they hold reverend titles, is past. People are coming to see, that if a doctrine is taught by the Bible, be it ever so obscure, or symbolic, they can comprehend it, if it can be logically proved by and from the Bible. And, to thus expound God's Word, is the province of any teacher sent of God, whenever, wherever or whoever he may be, and with or without titles.--EDITOR.]
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LETTERS TO OUR CHILDREN.--NO. 2.
DEAR MARION:--Your questions on the Trinity have been received, and after careful thought I have concluded it will be best to first study in the Scriptures the relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; and afterwards take up your questions and quoted objections. After getting the clear light of the Bible on the subject, we will be better able to compare and examine human reasonings and objections.
Our first text will be from Bro. Paul, the greatest reasoner and greatest theologian of the Bible. "Concerning therefore the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that no idol is anything in the world, and that there is no God but one. For though there be [those] that are called gods, whether in heaven or on earth; as there are gods many and lords many; yet to us there is ONE GOD, the Father; (of whom are all things, and we unto him,) and one Lord,--Jesus Christ, (through whom are all things, and we through him)."--`1 Cor. 8:4-6`, Revised Version.
In the Hebrew language in which the Old Testament was written, there is a word [Adon,] which means in English lord or master. Thus, Sarah called Abraham lord. So Abraham, the angels, `Gen. 19:2`; and Ephron, Abraham, `23:11`; and Jacob, his brother Esau, `32:4`. Joseph was lord of the treasures of Egypt, `45:9`. God is Lord of lords, `Deut. 10:17`. Young's Concordance will show you many other cases.
The title, God, was applied by the heathen to their idols and Gods of their imagination, but in Scripture it always refers to our Heavenly Father except in a few places where it is used of the children of God; and in the case of Jesus our Lord, who is the first born SON OF GOD, and inheritor of his Father's nature and name.
Our first text shows us, that while our Lord Jesus and his brethren--all children of God, may sometimes be called by their Father's name, yet strictly there is but "one God, the Father." His name as made known to his ancient people, the Israelites, is Jehovah. This name is unfortunately covered up in most places in our English Bibles by the translators rendering it "the LORD" and "Lord God." Still, you can find it by noticing that it is printed in small capital letters, as LORD or GOD. When printed simply "Lord" it is from some other Hebrew word. [Adon, Baal, etc.] Young's Concordance will make this plain. In the Revised Version `Exod. 6:2-3` reads:--
"And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am JEHOVAH; and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob as God Almighty; but by my name JEHOVAH I was not known to them."
On one occasion, `Ex. 3:14`, He calls himself by another name, I AM THAT I AM," Yet it is scarcely another name, being from the same root as Jehovah. Read `verses 13 to 18` and notice notes in margin of Revised Version. Jehovah means He who is, or He who will be. That is, the self-existent one; the one who has immortality or life in himself. This, God only possessed. It is his nature. He has since given this nature to our Lord Jesus, and will in the resurrection give it to all the overcomers of the Gospel age; that is, to every member of the Body of Christ, to those who in this age receive the privilege of becoming "Sons of God." Read carefully `1 Tim. 6:16`; `John 5:26`; `1 John 3:1-2`.
Now read `Deut. 4:39`. "Know therefore this day, and lay it to thine heart, that Jehovah he is God in heaven above and upon the earth beneath; there is none else" [none other]. Read this again carefully as if God himself spoke it to you personally, for so he does. Read also `Deut. 32:39`; `2 Sam. 7:22`. We will read also `Isa. 44:6-8`. "Thus saith Jehovah, the King of Israel, and his [Israel's] redeemer, Jehovah of hosts; I am the first and I am the last; and beside me there is no God...Is there a God beside me?...I know not any." Again, `Isa. 45:18-22`, "For thus saith Jehovah that created the heavens; he is God that formed the earth and made it; he established it, he created it not in vain, [to be burned up, as some ignorantly think,] he formed it to be inhabited; I am Jehovah; and there is none else, there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God and there is none else."
God spoke this long before he had sent Jesus to be our saviour and redeemer, so that he was then the only redeemer and saviour; and really it was true after our Lord came, because only God can save, and he does save only in his own way,-- through the death of "the Lamb of God" (`John 1:29`) which he himself also provided. There is no other way. (`John 14:6`.) Paul says, "There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all."
Paul generally says things very clearly. Could he be any plainer than he is here? Paul does not say, "Now there are three Gods; and as Satan had upset their plans in Eden by leading Adam and Eve astray, they three put their heads together and thought out a plan to try to outwit Satan. One was to remain in heaven and profess to be the superior one, and to be angry with mankind. One was to come and live on earth and call himself the SON
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of God, and profess to do the will of the one in heaven. Why should he if he was also a God, equal in power, knowledge and wisdom with the other? Or, as some put it, really the same one who was in heaven all the time? Then the third God was to come down at the beginning of the public work of the second one, in the form of a Dove, and appear to fill him with the necessary power to do the first one's will. If these are three Gods of equal power, such a pretence would seem foolish and wrong to me; if all three apparent Gods were not three, but really the one God, appearing to be three, how much worse? Then again the pretense of one of them dying and appearing to be dead for three days, and being raised up by another, when there was not another but only one; and if that one had died, the universe would have been without a God for three days; rather forever; for that which is dead cannot make itself alive. But worse confusion than all, those who teach these absurd ideas say that the God nature cannot die,--which is true. How foolish all this appears when we compare it with Paul's plain statement. "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." A mediator is a mutual friend who seeks to make peace and harmony between two persons who are out with each other.
Our Lord Jesus himself usually called himself the Son of man, that is, the Man; the man promised in Eden who was finally to destroy Satan and deliver both Israel and the rest of mankind. He also and often called God his Father (which we will study by and by,) but never spoke of himself either as one of three Gods, or as the one God. On the contrary, he says in harmony with all the prophets: "This is life eternal, [will lead to endless life,] that they should know thee the only true God, and him whom thou didst send, Jesus Christ."--`John 17:1-3`.
In our next we will study that wonderful one who came to tell us about God, our Lord Jesus, the Anointed.
PAPA,--W. I. M.
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ESTABLISHED, STRENGTHENED, SETTLED.
"The God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you."--`1 Pet. 5:10`.
The above words were penned by the Apostle Peter who after years of experience in the Master's service and under his discipline, through much tribulation, had evidently reached the blessed experience of one established, strengthened and settled in the faith and in the practice of the principles of the gospel. Peter had much to suffer and endure in his continuous effort to overcome. In common with all our Lord's disciples he had much to endure from without, in the way of reproach, and sometimes of persecution, for the truth's sake. But he had probably much more to contend against from within, his disposition being naturally impulsive and wavering and difficult to bring under restraint even when the truth was clear to his mind and when his affections were fastened upon the Lord.
It should be, and is the aim of every truly consecrated saint to reach this desirable standpoint of strength and settled establishment in the faith, but it cannot be reached at a single leap. It is gained by a gradual steady growth under the discipline of suffering--as the apostle says, "after ye have suffered a while." "Now," as Paul remarks (`Heb. 12:11,12`), "No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." "Wherefore" with him we would add, "Lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way."
Are you weary and disheartened in the journey, discouraged at your slow progress, and almost overwhelmed with the cares and various besetments of this life. Is a lethargy and indifference creeping over you, cooling your ardor for the Master's service, relaxing your energies in that direction, and enlisting your interest more and more in other matters? Then beware! It is high time to wake up. Be sober; be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil as a roaring lion walketh about seeking whom he may devour. Sometimes he goes about as a roaring lion, and sometimes as a skulking serpent in the grass.
Sometimes, lion-like, when we are off guard he springs upon us unawares, stirs up the evil of the old nature, and unless desperately resisted he will take full control and drive us on to ruin. Or he will endeavor at least to turn us off the track of the narrow way. And sometimes, serpent-like, (`2 Cor. 11:3`) he assumes a pleasing and seemingly reasonable aspect, and endeavors to beguile us from the way. If we permit ourselves to be so off guard either by neglect to feed upon the truth, or by indifference to the reception and cultivation of its spirit, we may be sure that our ever vigilant adversary will gain an advantage over us which we may not be able to resist.
Our only safety, then, is in giving earnest heed to the Apostle's counsel. Be sober, be steadfast in the faith, be vigilant, and resist the adversary. We find foes within as well as foes without which we must not deal too gently with. The human nature which we covenanted to crucify must not be too sensitively regarded by ourselves though we should be careful and thoughtful in our dealings with others. We must let the human nature die, and rejoice to see the new nature triumph over it. We must look our old nature squarely in the face anxious to see all its deformity, and thankful for a brother's or a sister's kindly showing of the same; and even the heartless rebuke of an enemy, or the impatient criticism of an unwise but well meaning friend, should be soberly considered and profited by, though it may severely wound the sensitive quivering flesh. All this is a part of the crucifying process, a part of the humbling under the mighty hand of God--under the discipline of his truth. If we study it carefully and cultivate its spirit day by day, seeking constantly to purge out all that is contrary to it, our character will mature, ripen and grow more and more like the glorious model given for our imitation.
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Our convictions of the truth will become more settled and clear; our faith in God and in the power of his love and grace will be more and more established. And our constant effort to learn and to do the will of God will harden into habit, and thus we will grow strong in the Lord and be able to strengthen and to confirm the faith of others.
If we have cares, we are invited to cast all our care upon the Lord, knowing that he careth for us. And we have the encouraging assurance in the midst of present trials that we shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away, if in steadfast sobriety and humility we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, having been first redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, and thus through faith having gained the privilege of working it out. And we are comforted in the midst of trials with the blessed assurance that while God resisteth the proud, and they also resist him, he giveth grace to the humble. Let us humble ourselves therefore, dear fellow members of the called and Anointed body, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt us in due time. And let us bear in mind that not all of the suffering and cross-bearing comes from the world's opposition to the truth, but that much of it must necessarily come from our faithfulness, not in excusing and cultivating, but in humbling and subduing the evil propensities of our fallen nature. "If any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass; for he beholdeth himself and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whosoever looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he, being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed."--`James 1:23-25`.
"Oh, to be nothing, nothing,
Painful the humbling may be;
Yet low in the dust I'd lay me
That the world my Savior might see."
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"Faith soars and sings on her tireless wings;
Though woe assail, with her blinding hail,
And pain come near
With her words of fear.
"Through all the day on her love-tracked way,
Her burnished eye is turned to the sky,
As if something there
That were wondrous fair,
"Her soul has bound, in its gold threads round;
And ne'er again, can the hand of pain,
Nor aught of woe
That we mortals know,
"Bring Faith's wings back from the shining track,
Whose end she sees by the healing trees,
Where waters run
In a glowing sun,
"And days are bright with seven-fold light,
And the moon is clear as the sun is here;
Where gates of pearl
In their colors whirl,
"Like rainbows blent in the Orient;
And walls are fair with their jewels rare--
Oh, her anchor holds
To the streets of gold!
"And she soars and sings on her tireless wings,
For some day she in that nest shall be,
When it cometh down
On the mountain's crown!
"And his feet are set on Olivet
Who went away at the close of day
To return again
With a kingly train.
"Oh! naught faith cares for the scorn she bears:
Will not her Lord bring sure reward,
In the coming hour
Of his pomp and power?
"When the waste shall bloom and the robber tomb
Engulf no more on the sea or shore,
And knowledge be,
Like the deep broad sea?
--S. Roxana Wince.
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CHRIST LIFTED UP.
"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."--`John 12:32`.
There have been various speculations with reference to the Lord's meaning, relative to being "lifted up." It seems to be a peculiarity of human nature, especially until we come to a position where we have learned that our own thoughts are frequently stumbling stones to us, and have learned the lesson that we must cast aside our favorite opinions and seek the meaning of the words from the context, to decide that a passage must be understood in some way more difficult to understand than the simple narrative itself. And many a Bible student has gotten himself into quite a labyrinth of difficulty from endeavoring to make out of simple statements something more elaborate than the Lord put into them; and yet the simplicity of the truth,--the simplicity which all the children of God should observe, will be to receive the Word as little children, and understand it just as it reads. With the idea of elaborating the thought, many have undertaken to say, and to imagine themselves, that the lifting up of the Son of man, meant his glorification: I, if I be glorified, will draw all men unto my glorified condition, is what they prefer to have it mean, and therefore they so construe it. But that would be a wresting of scripture, for nothing of the kind appears in the passage.
The passage clearly and distinctly says the lifting up referred to was a lifting up at the cross. "These words spake Jesus signifying what death he should die." If we would always let the context tell us just what is meant, how much difficulty it would save ourselves and others. The same Greek words here rendered "lifted up," are elsewhere used, as for instance, in `John 8:28`, "Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he; and I do nothing of myself, but as the Father hath taught me, I speak these things." Who was to do the lifting up? Not the Father, nor the Lord Jesus himself, nor the Holy Spirit, but ye--When ye have lifted up the Son of man. It evidently then does not refer to an exaltation to glory. The same Greek word is used also in `John 3:14`. "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness." Did Moses glorify the serpent? Not at all. "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life.
It is a fact of course, not a fact taught by this passage but taught by other passages, that our Lord Jesus after he was lifted up upon the cross, after he had died for our sins, was highly exalted; and that he is glorified now, and forever. But what we are here noticing is, that this fact is not taught in this passage; nothing in this passage favors any such construction. Some who take the view which we have presented, that the "lifting up" referred to the glorifying of the Lord have an object in view: they wish, as they sometimes say, to do away with the wooden cross. They wish to set aside the importance of the death of Christ which this text, properly understood, shows. In the very `next verse` the Jews show that they understood exactly what our Lord meant, when they answered, We have heard that when Christ cometh he will never die, he will live forever; how is it that you say the Son of man will be lifted up. We see that the Jews understood it, the disciples understood it, and our Lord expressly spoke it, with reference to the death he should die, and not with reference to his exaltation to glory.
Now, then, it makes just this difference. Taken in the way the Lord gives it, it makes the cross of Christ the very center of the whole plan of redemption; just as the Lord meant it should be; just as the Scriptures everywhere present it to be,-- the very center of the whole plan. For our Lord to be crucified, to be "lifted up," to die, was a necessity which lay at the foundation of the divine plan. The death of Christ, "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world," was the only way by which mankind could be brought into harmony with God. Thus we see, that the drawing of mankind was dependent on the death, the lifting up, of Christ.
Not only is the cross of Christ now a stumbling-block, which very many do not like, and which many are ignorantly stumbling over, but it was a rock of offence to the Jews. They could not understand why the great Messiah who was to be so powerful, and an everlasting deliverer, must die. They could not see how or why the cross was connected with the fulfillment of the Covenants. But, our Heavenly Father's ways, as we have learned, are not man's ways, and His plan was, that the one who should restore Israel and the world, and be the King of glory, should be also the one that would prove and show his worthiness by his obedience even unto death, even the death of the cross, as the Ransomer of all. So, then, we see that the cross of Christ is truly indeed the center of God's plan for blessing all the families of the earth. If I be lifted up I will draw men;--if I am not lifted up I can never do so. Whenever, therefore, any attempt to show that the cross of Christ was not a necessity, that the penalty of sin was not death and that it was not necessary for our Lord Jesus to redeem mankind from it--by giving his own life as our ransom price, let this, one of the hundreds of passages that point to the ransom price, Christ's death, as the foundation of all our hope, be the answer to such; and show that sinners were not drawn to God until first the penalty against all had been paid, by our redeemer, who "bought us with his own precious blood" --his death--the sacrifice of his life. Not until all were thus redeemed, at Calvary, was the gospel, the good tidings of great joy, sent forth unto all people,--drawing all by promising everlasting life to all who would obey the great Redeemer. The fact is incontrovertible, that "life [everlasting, for restored human sons of God], and immortality [the grand superlative degree of life, which pertains to the divine nature only, and is offered as the great prize to the overcomers of the Gospel age --the church] were brought to light through the gospel. And the gospel was never declared (except in a prophetic and typical way to the typical Israelites), until after his resurrection our Lord sent forth his disciples saying "Go ye into all the world and preach this gospel [good tidings --of a hope for life through the ransom given for all] to every creature."
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"I WILL DRAW ALL MEN UNTO ME."
"The love of Christ constraineth [draweth] us." --`2 Cor. 5:14`.
Nearly two thousand years have passed since the ransom price for sinners was paid--since the Son of man was lifted up --and even in this most favored day we see that the vast majority of men are still in ignorance of this great gift of God; and that they have not been drawn by the Lord even in the remotest sense conceivable. And when we think of the still greater mass of mankind who have died during the centuries past without being drawn, our faith in the Master's promise compels us to look to the Millennial age for its fulfillment. And why not? If infinite wisdom permitted four thousand years to elapse from the time that sin entered the world, and death, the penalty of sin, was inflicted with all its train of woes, before the ransom was given, why should we not presume that a long period might
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elapse after the ransom had been paid, before the general drawing promised should take effect.
Our Heavenly Father loved his creatures all those four thousand years before sending the Redeemer, and he sympathized with them in their fallen and dying condition just as much as he does to-day; for he changes not. Now he has allowed almost two thousand years more to elapse, and yet the drawing power of Christ, we might say, has not begun to affect the world. Strange! says human shortsightedness, if God so loved the world as to give his Son to redeem all, and if Christ so loved us as to freely deliver himself up for us all, wherefor this tardiness in bringing to pass the promised blessings? Why should two thousand years intervene before the drawing of all men begins?
Careful study into the wonderful plan of God discovers both love and wisdom even in this seeming tardiness; for all this time the drawing power of Christ has been exerted upon a special class--a class in whom the love of God and of Christ, as manifested in this lifting up, awakens such a sense of gratitude as to draw them to follow in his foot-prints at any cost of tribulation, distress or persecution. And this class of zealous, devoted faithful souls the Lord designs to associate with himself in the great work of blessing, drawing and saving all his purchased possession.
Thus Christ does draw some now--a "little flock," he terms it, in comparison with the masses of men. And these shall be his bride, and the first fruits of his great sacrifice. As the Apostle expresses it, it is the love of Christ that constraineth or draweth us now; and how strongly that cord of love has drawn the saints, has been wonderfully manifested in their sufferings, self-denials and self-sacrifice, even unto death: and that often in the most revolting forms. Many in the days of Papal persecution rather than deny their faith or walk according to the spirit of the world were so drawn by the love of Christ as to submit to all sorts of indignities and ignominious deaths by cruel rackings, burnings and tortures of every description.
What a wonderful power is the love of Christ, made manifest to us through his lifting up on the cross for our redemption! It has not lost its power yet to draw some, and to hold them in loyalty and fidelity to Christ even against all the subtle and deceptive influences of this "evil day," and these perilous times. Yes, the love of Christ still draws the saints, so that they do not seek to do their own pleasure but the will of God. And this will of God in them controls in all the little affairs of life--in the house-keeping and the training of families; and into business life, at the counter, the office, and the workbench; it influences them when seen and when unseen, in the light and in the dark, in thought as well as in action and word. The love of Christ is thus constantly constraining a faithful few, restraining all evil propensities and strengthening, ennobling and beautifying character, while affecting all their relationships with families, friends, neighbors and business associations.
The power which constrains or draws the saints into harmony and union with Christ, and through him with our Heavenly Father, is the truth. Hence the more clearly we discern the truth, the more it can influence or draw us. The truth shows us our condition in sin and condemnation; and by showing us God's provision for our recovery, the truth discloses to us the love of God and our Lord Jesus. A little truth draws a little; and the full clear truth, received into good and honest hearts, is a power,--the power of God, working in us to will and to do his good pleasure. Without this power of the truth we cannot even will aright; the truth directs our wills; and to such as have consecrated wills in harmony with God, the truth is the greatest motive power to good deeds. A knowledge of this same truth of God, of which the lifting up of Christ is the foundation principle, will be the drawing and moving power of the Millennial age also, and in a similar manner, only there will no longer be besetments, or drawings of the adversary in contrary directions. Satan will then be bound, restrained from deceiving and drawing away from God. It will no longer cost what it now does, and what it has cost in the past, to will and to do right; for not only is Satan to be bound, but a highway (a public thoroughfare) is to be cast up, and all the stumbling stones are to be gathered out, and no ravenous beasts of prey (no fierce temptations) shall go up thereon, but the ransomed of the Lord shall walk there with none to molest or make them afraid. They shall go forth with joy and be led forth with peace, with every influence toward righteousness in their favor.--`Rev. 20:2`; `Isa. 35:8`; `62:10`.
There are various reasons why the number drawn in this age is comparatively few: Some indeed are willful sinners, "children of the devil," who love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.
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And then the god of this world has so blinded the minds of a better class with doctrinal errors that they do not recognize and cannot appreciate the truth; and the deceptive aspect of the things of this present life deceive others, drawing and constraining them to such an extent as to offset the drawing power of the truth. Even where the seeds of truth fall into hopeful soil and begin to spring up they are often choked by weeds and thorns such as the absorbing cares of this life, the love of this world's approval, and the deceitfulness of riches, or the alluring hope of acquiring them.
While the whole world is in this condition of imperfection, weakness and sin, we cannot expect otherwise than that the vast majority would be influenced by their surroundings, their appetites, and the deep degradation into which they have fallen. What hope is there then that the time will ever come when Christ will draw all mankind unto him? If the truth is unchangeable, and if it does not draw the masses of men now, what prospect is there that it will ever draw them? None whatever from a human standpoint. We have no such assurance except in God's Word. Our Lord has promised not only that he would draw a "little flock" in the present time (`John 6:37,44`; `Luke 13:32`), but that in due time he will draw all men; and that for this purpose this little flock shall be exalted and associated with himself, that the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth, and that the power of the adverse influences of the present time shall be broken. The chains that now bind men, as slaves to sin, shall be snapped assunder; and all will then have power (liberty) to become sons of God.
Sin is represented in the Scriptures as a great tyrant compelling mankind to do his bidding; and the fallen race is so fettered by inherited weaknesses that none can do otherwise than obey him except such as hear the truth and appeal to Christ to have their shackles broken, to obtain liberty from him. Such are freed from further service of the tyrant, Sin, and may become sons of God, servants of righteousness, and have everlasting life.
This matter of returning to harmony with God through Christ, being moved or drawn by the truth whose centre is the cross is therefore a liberty, a privilege, granted to believers in Christ--a privilege that men are incapable of appreciating or using so long as they are bound in ignorance, under the power of evil and their own inherited weaknesses. We sometimes say that men are free moral agents, free to choose good or evil, yet evidently this is the case only to a very limited extent. The first man indeed was created a free moral agent, but since the fall all have been measurably under bondage to sin, and are held in this slavery by their own inherited as well as cultivated weaknesses, under circumstances which none is able to control, until, under God's arrangement, Christ shall take the power into his hand. The Redeemer of all is to take the kingdom and dominion of earth, and is to break off the shackles that are now fettering the world, and hindering even those who desire to love and serve the Lord from being drawn thereto.
It was needful that our Lord should die to redeem men, but more is necessary to the complete success of God's great plan. According to that plan the Ransomer must also be the Deliverer to free those purchased with his own precious blood from the shackles of sin--ignorance, prejudice, perverted tastes and inherited weaknesses, and many from the tomb itself. He could not deliver one, until he had redeemed them, but the object of redeeming them was that he might set them free from the bondage of sin and its penalty, death. The Prophet Isaiah foretold the ultimate object of our Lord's great work which began with his sacrifice for our sins, when, speaking for Christ, he said, "The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is upon me, because Jehovah hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound." (`Isa. 61:1`.) Those who have learned of God's great plan of the ages can see much more than others in this reference to the opening of the prison to them that are bound. We see that all the living generations of men are prisoners of Satan, fettered and bound for the tomb, the same great prison in which he has confined all the generations past, and that the great Deliverer who redeemed them must set them free, before even the willing can be drawn to him.
For this great work of giving liberty to the captives of sin and death, God has appointed the Millennial age. He not only had a due time for sending his only begotten Son into the world, and a due time in which he was to give his life a ransom for us, but he has also a due time for this liberating of sin's prisoners. That age of deliverance will be earth's great jubilee year, the antitype of that jubilee which Israel observed every fiftieth year.
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In that type, the setting free of every debtor, and the return of every one to his home and possessions and privileges, foreshadowed the return of all mankind to liberty--to freedom from sin and its tyranny, to liberty such as Adam had to decide for righteousness or sin knowingly.
The great Deliverer has the emancipation proclamation all ready: it is written in his own precious blood, and the hour for its special announcement is the dawn of the morning of the Millennial day.
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ALL DRAWN, NONE COMPELLED.
When our Heavenly Father has revealed his plan it becomes us to submit all our reasonings to what he has laid before us of that plan. Human reason must not array itself in opposition to divine wisdom, but should always be guided by the divine revelation. When, therefore, our Lord declares that he will draw all men unto him, we should avoid reasoning on this statement out of harmony with the various other scriptures which touch the same subject.
Some err in this matter, and reason thus:--Our Lord Jesus is exalted to glory and he himself has said, "All power in heaven and in earth is given unto me." Therefore, if he who has all power shall draw them, every one will come; for none can resist his "all power."
This would be fatalism; it would be casting aside the true significance of the word "draw," and substituting another idea which the Master did not express, viz., force. We have no more right to thus change the significance of his words than we have to change the words themselves. What our Lord meant by the term draw, is illustrated in the experience of each of us, for he used the same Greek word when telling us that, in this present age, none could come to him except the Father draw him. (`John 6:44`.) The Father draws the bride now, as the Son will draw all men in the Millennial age. The Father draws us by the truth and by his providences, but he does not force or compel one. Even when drawn, by the opening of our mental eyes to the truth, under the unfavorable conditions of the present time, we are not compelled to follow; we may "go away" (`John 6:66,67`); we may "do despite to the spirit of favor" which enlightened us and thus drew us; we may sin willfully after that we have come to a clear understanding of the truth, and been made partakers of the grace of God in Christ (`Heb. 10:26-29`); we may abide not in him, and be cast forth as rejected branches (`John 15:6`), "twice dead, plucked up by the root." (`Jude 12`.) So likewise, our Lord's drawing of all men in the Millennial age, implies that all will be shown the truth and the advantages of righteousness and the evil and disadvantage of sin; and such as choose, [i.e. will follow after righteousness,] will be enabled to come into complete harmony with the divine plan, and will obtain, as the reward of their choice, the gift of life which they may retain forever.
The drawing is one thing and the coming another. It is God's prerogative to invite, and man's privilege to come. God did not make man a mere machine to be operated and drawn about hither and thither, with no will of his own; he made him in his own noble likeness, possessed of the God-like faculty of will. Such only of God's creatures as have this quality of free will, in his likeness, does he recognize as sons, whether they be on the earthly or heavenly plane-- human, angelic, or divine sons. All of God's sons have a will of their own and may decide in matters concerning themselves; and this will be as true in the next as in the present age, though it will be more noticeable then.
This privilege of free agency, ultimately to be restored to all men, will not interfere at all with the divine plan; nor can it in any degree interfere with the final harmony of God's kingdom; for, though leaving all free to choose life by conformity to the spirit and plan of God, God foretells his intention to cut off from life all who do not thus willingly conform.
What is it that draws us to Christ? It is the truth. What was it that drew the early disciples, when they said, "Lord to whom shall we go?" They confessed it was the truth when they added--"Thou hast the words of eternal life." It was the truth, "the words of eternal life," that both drew and held them to the Lord; and so it is with us also. The poet beautifully expressed this drawing and holding power of the truth, saying,
"He drew me, and I followed on,
Charmed to confess the voice divine."
Not only are we drawn by the truth, which as a cord wraps about us to hold, and steady, and keep us, but we cast out our anchor of hope and faith, which enters into that which is beyond the vail (beyond the present life), and we are thus anchored there. Yet we can sunder either of these cords at our will; they hold us only so long as we will to permit them to control us. Thus we have two cords binding us--first, the truth coming out from God and fastening upon honest hearts; and secondly, the faith and trust of our consecrated hearts reaching back unto God again. So it will be with all mankind in the Millennial age. He who taught and drew us, by giving us the knowledge of the truth, shall so teach the whole world. Not one will be left in ignorance of the goodness of God, or without a clear knowledge of his wondrous plan. Not one will be left without being drawn, just as we are being drawn, by the truth. Yet not one will be forced then, any more than we are forced now. God seeketh such to worship him, not only in the present time, but everlastingly, as worship him in spirit and in truth, not needing to be lashed, or forced, or barred, but such as will be glad to be in harmony with God and delight in his favor.
Some have supposed that the only thing that gives us any appreciation of good, is our experience with evil, but it is not so; those angels which kept their first estate and never sinned, are none the less able to appreciate righteousness. Though by reason of inherited weaknesses we are inclined to sin and find it difficult to do right, yet we do not find it difficult to love righteousness. All present human weaknesses (results of the fall) will be entirely taken away in the Millennial age, so that men will have none of that gravitation towards evil now experienced by all.
But does the assurance of the Scriptures that there shall be a restitution of all things prove that if all were put into a perfect condition, all would therefore willingly serve the Lord and conform to his regulations? No, we answer, we have illustrations of some who were in the perfect state who did not do so. One illustration is Adam. But says one, ignorance in part contributed to Adam's fall; with fuller knowledge he may act differently. But what shall we say of Satan's case? was it ignorance on his part that led to sin? is it ignorance that still holds him in the attitude of a sinner? and will it be ignorance on his part all through the Millennial age down to its close that will keep him in rank rebellion against God? No, Satan was not, is not, and will not be ignorant of sin and its wages; and yet through it all, with unimpaired powers and clear knowledge, Satan chooses and wills to do evil. We here cite this remarkable case to show that perfect men-- all the race--when the work of restitution (restoration to perfection) is complete-- will still need to be tested to prove whether their wills are set to do right, or to do wrong.
God is not attempting to deal with the world now as he is dealing with the church. This is our time of trial, but in the next age when men will have their disabilities removed their trial or testing will begin; and in each individual case the course chosen under that trial, will decide his worthiness or unworthiness to pass beyond the Millennial age, into the ages of glory to follow. "There shall in no wise enter into [that glorious city, the everlasting kingdom] anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie, but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life;" "and there shall be no more curse;" "and they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it." "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life and may enter in through the gates [through the testing process] into the city"--the city for which Abraham looked--the city that hath foundations [of justice and truth] whose designer and builder is God."
Human society will be something grand when the great High-Priest shall have completed the work which he began to do --or rather, which he gained the privilege of doing, by being "lifted up;" all the willing and obedient having been drawn to him, and the unwilling and disobedient having been cut off. This end of the wicked, at the close of the Millennial age, so repeatedly referred to in the Scriptures, was clearly expressed by the prophet Moses (`Acts 3:22`) saying, "A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you ...like unto me;...and it shall come to pass that every soul which will not hear [heed, obey] that prophet [then] shall be cut off from among the people."
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Christ is not only the High-Priest and Prophet to make atonement for sin and to draw all men unto him, but he is also the King, the executive officer, the great Judge who in the end will pronounce the sentence of justice, saying to the worthy, "Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; and to the unworthy, "Depart from me, ye cursed into everlasting cutting off prepared for the devil and his messengers."
Thank God, none are going to be tortured; his sentence is a righteous sentence: "The soul that sinneth it shall die."
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EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW.
"He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet."..."And he shall rule them with a rod of iron."..."God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow...and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."--`1 Cor. 15:25`; `Rev. 2:27`; `Phil. 2:9,11`.
Christ's Millennial work will not consist simply in drawing men's hearts by love, through a knowledge of the truth; it will be more than that: it will be a ruling with an iron rod--with unbending justice, as well, over any disposed to be rebellious against the rules of righteousness then in force. Such will be forced to comply with law and order. The perverse and obstinate will be roughly handled if they attempt resistance. Nothing will be permitted to hinder the divine plan for growth in grace, knowledge and love, and advancement toward perfection under earth's new government. But this forced submission, in which every knee will be forced to bow, and every tongue be forced to confess, will be very different from the drawing of men's hearts which will be progressing at the same time. Hearts are not forced--they cannot be: God has made them free, in his own image. While the whole world will be compelled to render outward obedience to the laws of Christ's Kingdom, those only will be approved of God who do so willingly and from the heart. And only such as submit to the drawing influence of the truth, and render willing obedience from the heart,-- who hate sin and love truth and righteousness, will be admitted to the everlasting life beyond the Millennium. It is this class which in the close of the Millennial reign will be addressed in the words of our Lord as foretold: "Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom [of earth] prepared for you from the foundation of the world."--`Matt. 25:34`.
That there will be some who after being forced to bow in submission will remain enemies at heart and require finally to be destroyed, is evident from the words, "He must reign until he hath put all enemies under his feet." That the significance of this expression is not conversion, but destruction, see `Rom. 16:20`. The same lesson, that all who will not conform willingly, to the law of love to God and man, during that age of fullest knowledge and ability, and help, will be counted enemies against God, and against the law of his empire, and no longer coerced, but destroyed, is taught in the symbolism of `Rev. 20:10` heretofore explained (March '88 TOWER) and also in the sentence of the "goats" ("enemies") in `Matt. 25:41,46`; --expounded in our June issue.
Thus we see clearly the meaning of those passages of Scripture which teach that force will be employed during the Millennium. And we can see that the force will not in the slightest sense interfere with man's God-like quality of free will, with which God endowed him, and which he has always recognized in dealing with him.
How many will then choose life, by choosing and loving righteousness and obedience to God, we cannot judge from the conduct of the majority now, who love sin rather than righteousness. We should remember that they do not now know God, not yet having seen the height and depth, and length and breadth of his loving plan for human salvation, as we do, --as it will be finally wrought out through Christ. They are blinded by the misrepresentations of Satan, and prejudiced by their perverted judgments and tastes which often make good to appear undesirable and evil to appear desirable.
When in the Millennial age, the whole truth regarding the pleasures of sin and its consequences, and concerning the joys of righteousness and its results, are fully understood by all, and when all are granted a choice, each will decide for himself which is his choice; and though the Judge can read their hearts and know their choice and could decide thus, their future fitness or unfitness to pass beyond the Millennium, through the portals into the everlasting and perfect state, yet he will make a test so searching and thorough as to prove and make manifest the hearts of all to all, as shown in `Rev. 20:7-10`.
At first thought we might be inclined to judge all others by our own feelings and preferences. If we have accepted Christ and his rules of righteousness with joy, we are apt to feel as some one has expressed it, that,--
"If all the world our Saviour knew,
Then all the world would love him too."
But we must remember that the saints are not samples representative of the whole race, but of those only who do love and obey, and rejoice in righteousness. Our feelings represent those of the "sheep" of the next age, and not at all those of the "goats." Love of sin, while largely attributable to ignorance and weakness, as we have shown, is not always the result of these conditions. One notable illustration of love of sin, even while possessing full knowledge and power, is seen in Satan. With full knowledge he has not only sinned himself, but has spread sin among others; even lying and deceiving so as to get some into sin who do not prefer it; and with the full power of his unimpaired organism, after thousands of years of experience, he still prefers and clings to sin; and when granted liberty at the close of the Millennium, he will, as God has shown in Scripture, be of the same mind--preferring sin to righteousness; until finally, having served God's purpose even while fighting against God and righteousness, he shall be cut off, annihilated, with all who similarly love error and sin more than truth and righteousness.
To us who love righteousness, it seems reasonable to suppose that a large majority, when granted full knowledge and ability for choice, would choose and love righteousness; but we know of nothing in Scripture which would serve to show the proportionate numbers of the righteousness-lovers and the sin-lovers, except one item in the parable of `Matthew 25:33`;-- the likening of the two classes to sheep and goats. The fact that the sheep are more numerous than goats, and that these were used by our Lord to represent the two classes among men in the next age, seems to teach, in agreement with our judgment, that the obedient will out-number the disobedient in the close of the Millennium.
Even if the number then accepted by the Judge, as worthy of everlasting life, should be less than one half of all the children of Adam, it could be no reflection against the wisdom, or love, or power, or justice of that one whom God has appointed the Judge of all,--to any who have the proper Scriptural view of the case.
The supposition of some, that human salvation is a matter of contest between God and the devil, as to which shall get the majority on his side, much like the contests between ward-politicians seeking for votes, is a miserable misconception, born of old-time errors; and its fallacy we trust is clearly discerned by our readers. So far as God is concerned, there is no contest,--there has been none, and will be none. So far as Satan is concerned he may, and no doubt does, consider it a contest; an opposition and defiance of God; but like that of Pharaoh, the result will prove that his temporary success was permitted only because the divine plans could thereby be forwarded.
In creating our race, God was seeking such creatures, and only such, as would love his law of righteousness, and delight to serve and obey so great and grand and infallible a law-giver. In order that their service and love should be voluntary, they must be created free to obey or disobey; as free to love sin as to love righteousness; and they were so made in his own likeness; and their love of, and obedience to, righteousness must in the end be the results of preference for the tendencies and fruits of right doing, as we may presume it is with God. The condemnation of all mankind to death, by the failure of the first man Adam, left room for mercy, and they were redeemed without cost to them --at the cost of another, who willingly paid their debt and became Judge of all in the new trial, which his sacrifice (in accordance with God's plan), provided for all.
The trial of the world, during the Millennium will not be a trial of strength, or a struggle for mastery, between God and the devil; on the contrary, the devil will be bound, so that there could be no such competition. God does not compete with any one; if it were a competition of power, who could withstand Jehovah's power? The binding of Satan shows that in such a matter competition would be out of the question.
But it is not God that is to be on trial during the Millennium--to test his power, whether he could coerce man's will. Jehovah did not appoint our Lord Jesus as Judge to try Him. (`Acts 17:31`.) Quite the contrary: God's course, in condemning man as unworthy of life, is already justified (`Rom. 3:19`); it is man that will be on trial--the race, every member of which has been condemned once, as sinners worthy of death. It is a new trial granted to these through their Redeemer--to test how many of them, when granted full opportunity (with the advantage of full knowledge and experience), would prove their love of God's law by their willing obedience; in order that such, and such only, be they few or many, might enjoy forever the blessings which God provided for such only;--for such as love him and rejoice in his laws.
Full of pain and sorrow, though it often is, the few years of dying which we sometimes call the present life, is really a boon, a favor from our Creator; even if he had made no provision for us in the future. This is evident from the effort with which
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every animal creature, as well as man, clings to the brittle thread of vitality. And the fact that in great mercy God has provided an everlasting future for a class of humanity who when "drawn" shall willingly come into full harmony with him and his righteous laws, is certainly not a proper ground-work for reasoning that it would be a slur against God's wisdom and power, that all will not receive his gift of everlasting life upon his reasonable and gracious terms.
Nor should the fact that God has provided, through an all-sufficient ransom price, for a full and impartial offer to all of this gift, upon his terms, be construed as in any sense obligating him for the failure of those unwilling to accept his gift upon his terms. God's wisdom and foreknowledge enabled him to foresee that all will not accept everlasting life on his terms; and this fact he has pointed out to us in the Bible.
The wisdom of God assures us, not only of the final destruction of all willful sin-lovers, but also that his original plan of peopling the earth, with human beings in harmony with himself, will be accomplished, --however many or few may be the "vessels of wrath fitted for destruction," who shall be "castaways" in the selection of the worthy and desired "vessels unto honor."
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RANSOM OR PARDON--WHICH?
The failure to discern the distinction between ransom and pardon has led to considerable confusion of thought on the subject. Christian people of general intelligence will quote texts relative to our being ransomed from the tomb, redeemed from death, bought with a price, even the precious blood of Christ, etc., and in the same breath they speak of the Father's gracious pardon of all offences. Seemingly few think, though many must know, that pardon and ransom express exactly opposite thoughts.
Webster defines Ransom to mean--"to redeem from captivity, or to forfeit by paying an equivalent."
His definition of Redeem is--"to purchase back, to regain possession of, by payment of a stipulated price."
His definition of Pardon is--"to remit the penalty, or to suffer to pass without punishment--to refrain from exacting a penalty."
The most ordinary thinker must see that these words are as opposite in meaning as could be, and that both could not be true of the same thing. If Jesus did redeem or ransom us by paying an equivalent for us, thus purchasing our release from death, then our Father did not pardon us. That is, he did not suffer our sins to pass without punishment; but as the Scriptures declare, he laid upon Jesus (who became our willing substitute) the iniquity of us all. (`Isa. 53:6`). Hence God did not pardon (remit the penalty); for "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures." --`1 Cor. 15:3`.
The principal cause of the difficulty arises from the fact that the terms forgive and pardon have come to be used interchangeably, and are commonly understood as synonymous, while the strict or primary meanings of the words do not admit of this loose interpretation.
Webster's primary definition of forgive is--"to give away, to make over, to resign, to cease to feel resentment against, or, to cease to impute, to remit. Webster also gives as a secondary meaning of forgiveness, the generally accepted sense, pardon. But note the difference in the primary meaning of the words: Pardon refrains from exacting a penalty, while forgiveness signifies much less, viz., that harmony is restored as a result of some settlement, or that the claim is made over to some one else.
Thus we see that the word pardon does not represent Jehovah's course in dealing
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with the sinner, but that, while he has not pardoned us, he has forgiven us, according to the above primary definition of the word. That is to say, God has "ceased to impute" sin to those sinners who have laid hold of Christ as their substitute or redeemer --"Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [satisfaction] for our sins"--believers' sins. And not for ours only [who now accept] but also [for all who shall at any time accept] for the sins of the whole world, [who sooner or later shall all come to the knowledge and opportunity to believe and accept].
There was a sin-penalty upon the race [death] which must be paid, and by paying this penalty for the race, our Lord Jesus bought all with his own precious blood [life shed,--death]. Thus the claims of God's justice against the race were resigned or set over to the purchaser, and he may do what he will with his own. He could let all be in death as when he bought them, or he has full right to restore any or all as he may please. But so far as the Father is concerned, the Adamic sin is forgiven and all claims under it are set over to the Redeemer, the Purchaser, our Lord Jesus; as it is written, "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed [or transferred] all judgment unto the Son."-- `John 5:22`.
Thus we see too, that when "we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son," it was because he forgave us, i.e., ceased to resent our sins, because our ransom price had been paid, as provided by himself, who so loved us that he gave his Son to redeem us. Thus, too, "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them" (but unto his beloved Son, who freely gave himself as our substitute). The sins were imputed to mankind until Jesus died; then God forgave, i.e., ceased to impute to us what had been paid by our Redeemer or Substitute.
Mark clearly, that God did not PARDON, i.e., refrain from exacting the penalty," but "laid upon him [our Redeemer] the iniquity of us all." (`Isa. 53:6`.) He bore [the penalty of] our sins in his own body on the tree. (`1 Pet. 2:24`.) And thus we see, how God forgave us freely for Christ's sake--because he paid the penalty which was the full satisfaction of justice.
Let it not be presumed that God compelled the just one to die for the unjust. Justice could not inflict the punishment of the guilty upon the innocent unless the innocent one freely gave himself as a substitute for the guilty. This Jesus did. The Scriptures declare that he laid down his life of himself; not for fear of divine wrath; not because compelled; but for the joy that was set before him (the joy of redeeming and restoring mankind, and of bringing many sons to glory) he endured the cross.--`Heb. 12:2`.
Now notice that the Greek words--apoluo, aphiemi and aphesis--translated forgiveness, forgiven and forgive in, the New Testament, have the same significance as the corresponding English words: or, as given by Young--"To let go, to send away." Mark well, the meaning is not as some seem to infer--to send away without an equivalent, as the English word pardon would imply. It is not that God will let the sinner go unconditionally; but as Scripturally declared, God will let go the prisoners out of the pit (out of death), because he has found a ransom. (`Job 33:24`) Yes, the man Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom (a corresponding price) for all. (`1 Tim. 2:6`.) Therefore all that are in their graves (prisoners in the pit) shall hear his voice and come forth, in due time--when the Redeemer shall "take to himself his great power and reign."
Though the word pardon does not occur in the New Testament, a Greek word of nearly the same meaning does occur-- karazomai. It signifies, to forgive freely. We will give some illustrations of the use of this word, from which it will be seen that it does not oppose but confirms the statement that our Father does not pardon, or unconditionally set sinners free from sin's penalty. The words forgive and forgave as translated from the word karazomai occur in all only twelve times, as follows:--"Forgiving one another... even as Christ forgave you" (`Col. 3:13`); "When they had nothing to pay he frankly forgave them both;" "He to whom he forgave most." (`Luke 7:42,43`.) Here are four instances in which free forgiveness, or pardon is meant. But notice, it is not Jehovah, but Christ and the disciples who do the free forgiving. Jesus was in the very act of paying the ransom price of Simon, Mary and others, and realizing that justice would be satisfied by his act, he, as the purchaser, could freely forgive them. The very object of his purchasing sinners was, that he might freely release them from sin's condemnation. Here we see that had our Lord Jesus been unwilling to pardon those whom he had purchased with his own blood, had he still held against them the wages of Adam's sin, his sacrifice would have been valueless to them; it would have left all as they were--cursed--condemned. On the other hand, had the Father pardoned us, Christ's death would have been useless, valueless, as it would have accomplished nothing.
We wish that all our readers might hereafter be able to appreciate clearly the difference between pardon and forgiveness, i.e., reconciliation toward us based on our redemption through the precious blood of Christ.--`Col. 1:14`.
All will admit that God is just; and if so, he did not inflict too severe a penalty on man when he deprived him of life.
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Now if that penalty was just six thousand years ago, it is still a just penalty, and will be just for all coming time. If the penalty was too severe and God pardons the sinner (releases him from further continuance of the penalty) it proves either that God was at first unjust, or is so now. If it was right six thousand years ago to deprive mankind of life because of sin, it would always be wrong to restore the life unless the pronounced penalty were justly cancelled by the payment of an equivalent price. And this could only be accomplished by the willing sacrifice of another being of the same kind, whose right to life was unforfeited, giving himself as a substitute or ransom.
It is written, There is none righteous, no, not one. Therefore none of the condemned race have a right to life; and God could not justly give pardon and life to those whom he had justly condemned. To do so would be to make mercy and love override justice, and such a conflict is not supposable in God's attributes. If the love and mercy of God would benefit men they must act in harmony with justice. And thus it was: Love provided the ransom (`1 John 4:10`) and will use the same one (Christ,) as its agent in blessing the world.
"Forever firm God's justice stands
As mountains their foundations keep."
This very principle of justice which underlies all of our Father's doings, is the ground of our strong confidence in all his promises. The Scriptures declare that he is the same yesterday, to-day and forever, that with him is no variableness neither shadow of turning. (`James 1:17`). If he were so changeable as to condemn the race to death in Adam's day, and six thousand years after revoke his own decision, what assurance could we have that in six thousand years more--or less, he might not change again, and remand us to the prison house of death by revoking the pardon of some or of all? As a race of sinners we have no foundation whatever for hope of a future everlasting life except in the fact that Christ died for us, and thus satisfied the claims of justice against us.
So then, so far as Jehovah is concerned, we are forgiven through his own provision, --through Christ. And so far as our relationship to the Lord Jesus, who bought us, is concerned, he freely pardons all who would come unto the Father by him. And so far as we are concerned, the results attained by God's plan are most favorable --to us it amounts to the same as though the Father had pardoned us unconditionally and without a ransom, except that a knowledge of the fact enables us to reason with God, and to see how though our sins were as scarlet, we are made whiter than snow, and how God is just while justifying and releasing us. Thus we have a sure foundation for faith and trust.
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"BEFORE ABRAHAM WAS, I AM."
The spotless purity, the marked intellectual superiority, the humble dignity, the meek gentleness, the bold and uncompromising justice, linked with benevolence and untiring self-sacrifice, marked Jesus as a man peculiar and separate from all other men. In his day "he taught as one having authority," and men said, "Never man spake like this man." Whatever others may think or say of him, he claimed to be the sent of God, and of heavenly origin, saying. "I came down from heaven." "I am the living bread which came down from heaven." (`John 6:38,51`.) The Jews disbelieved this claim, and said, "How can this be?" And many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, "This is a hard saying, who can hear it?"--`Verse 60`.
"When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?" But "from that time many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him" (`verses 61-66`); because of this claim of heavenly origin and pre-human existence.
Again we find him before the Pharisees declaring the same truth, saying, "I know whence I came and whither I go....I am from above, I am not of this world; ...I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me....It is my Father that honoreth me, and if I should say I know him not I shall be a liar." (`John 8:14,23,42,54,55`.) Then said the Pharisees, "Art thou greater than our father Abraham?" Jesus answered, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad." "Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? [Abraham had been dead two thousand years.] Jesus said unto them, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am."--`John 8:53,36-58`.
There is no mistake about that expression. Since his humanity resulted from the transference of the life-principle from spiritual to human conditions; the being, the individuality, was the same. Jesus as a man, recognized himself as the same being--the Son of God, and could remember his former glory. "I AM" expresses his continuous existence, and identifies Jesus of Nazareth with the "only begotten" and "first born of all creation." The Jews did not believe this wonderful truth, and took up stones to stone him. Our Lord's teachings only convinced the meek, and only such he expected to receive them.--`Isa. 61:1`.
Referring again to the saying of Jesus (`John 6:62`), "What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?" and comparing it with Mark's statement (`chap. 26:19`), "He was received up into heaven and sat on the right hand of God," we conclude that before his advent to earth he occupied the right hand, or chief position on the heavenly or spiritual plane; not the Father's position, but the chief position at the Father's right hand--right hand signifying the chief place of favor and power. But we learn that the right hand position, before his advent to earth, was not so exalted as his present position at Jehovah's right hand, since it is expressly stated that because of his humiliation and obedience even unto death "God hath highly exalted him" (`Phil. 2:9`) and given him additional honors and glory.
Again Jesus had been explaining the truth to Nicodemus, but Nicodemus was slow to believe, and Jesus by way of reproof remarked, "If I have told you earthly things and ye believed not, how shall you believe if I tell you heavenly things?" Then he intimates that no one else could teach him those heavenly things; for "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man;"* consequently no one else knew the heavenly things. Then Jesus proceeded to explain that "God so loved the world as to give his only begotten Son" (a son on the higher plane before he was sent) to redeem men.-- `John 3:12-17`.
If Jesus had been conceived and born in the usual way, that is, in sin, even as others, we must believe, either that he was an imposter who sought to delude his followers into thinking him some great one, or else conclude with the Jews that he had a devil and was mad (insane). But, since in him was no sin, as not only the apostles and prophets but even his enemies have testified, we mark his words when again we hear him say, "No man knoweth the Son but the Father, neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him."--`Matt. 11:27`.
Strange language! Did not the disciples know Jesus? Yes, as a man they knew him, but they did not understand the secret of his wonderful being--his pre-human glory, and the mystery of his incarnation. Jesus was just beginning to reveal himself to them, as they were able to receive the truth. And he had yet many things to tell them which they were not then able to bear, but which the promised Spirit through the Word has since made plain. Whence his intimate knowledge of the Father here claimed? We find answer in the Scriptures we have just considered. But we also find further testimony.
Turning to `Prov. 8:22-30`, we find that this same Jesus whom Isaiah calls "The Wonderful, Counselor," etc., (the same being, though known by many names,) Solomon speaks of, as Wisdom personified, saying: "Jehovah possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths,
*The oldest and most authentic Greek MSS., (Sinaitic and Vatican) omit, with evident propriety, the words "which is in heaven" after this text.
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I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth; while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: when he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: when he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment, when he appointed the foundations of the earth; then I was by him, as one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him."
This scripture together with `John 1:1-18` not only shows his intimate acquaintance with Jehovah and knowledge of his plans, but exhibits him as his honored agent in their accomplishment.
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When we consider the length of time that must have elapsed during the creation of the material universe and that our Lord was the "beginning of the creation of God" (`Rev. 3:14`) before angels as well as before man, and Jehovah's agent in the creation of angels as well as men, we may have some idea of our Lord's intimate and long acquaintance with Jehovah and his plans. No marvel, then, that Jesus said, "No man knoweth the Son but the Father: neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son." And again, "O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee, but I have known thee."--`John 17:25`.
The key to his knowledge of heavenly things is furnished in `John 3:31,32`. "He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthy and speaketh of the earth; he that cometh from heaven is above all. And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth." No wonder that some said, "Whence hath this man this wisdom." It was his knowledge of heavenly things, his intimate and long acquaintance with the Father, begetting faith in the Father's promises, which enabled him, as a perfect man, to overcome the world and present an acceptable sacrifice for our sins. As it was written, "By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many while he will bear their iniquities."--`Isa. 53:11`.
O that all God's dear children would be more earnest in studying the Scriptures, for, said Jesus, "These are they which testify of me." (`John 5:39`.) As we are able to bear it, the glories of the Father and Son, and our promised glory through them, will be made very clear to us. "He [the Son] was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not," and still does not know him. Only those who humbly walk by faith in the light of the Word, will know him, until his glory and power shall be revealed, so that all flesh may see it together.
Very soon, we know, his power shall be universally felt; and the Psalmist intimates that his power, displayed in restoring and perfecting all things, will at least equal his power, as Jehovah's agent, in creating them--"Thou hast the dew [freshness, vigor] of thy youth."--`Psa. 110:3`.
With all this united testimony of the Scriptures before us, we cannot doubt the pre-human existence and glory of our blessed Lord, or the sincerity of his own prayer, "Father, glorify thou me with the glory I had with thee before the world."
In no other way can we understand how "He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich." (`2 Cor. 8:9`.) As a man he had none of this world's goods. True, he was rich in wisdom, grace and understanding; but it was not in giving these that he became poor. He did not become poor in wisdom or grace for us. But both Jesus and the apostles tell us of the glory he had with the Father before the world was. There was the wealth which he left-- humbling himself and taking the form of a servant, etc., (`Phil. 2:7`) that we through that real poverty might become rich.
In no other way can we understand Jesus to be the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, as he claims in his revelation to John (`Rev. 1:8`; `3:14`; `21:6`; `22:13`), than as the Scriptures harmoniously teach, that as Jehovah's agent he is the beginner and finisher of the wondrous plan, though not its author. In a word, he was the only direct creation of Jehovah--born "from the womb of the morning," as the Psalmist expresses it (`110:3`),--all other creations being through him, as Jehovah's agent, or representative; as we read: "To us there is one God--the Father--of whom are all things and we in him; and one Lord--Jesus Christ--by whom are all things, and we by him." (`1 Cor. 8:6`.) He is the first born of every creature [born before all creation]; for by him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or principalities or powers; all things were created by him and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is [also] the head of the church, who is the beginning, the first born from the dead--that in all things he might have the pre-eminence.--`Col. 1:15-18`.
Our Lord's pre-human condition, we have thus seen, was one of mighty power, as the chief of all Jehovah's creation, and his agent in all subsequent creations. He was the first and the last direct creation of Jehovah. Hence with the proper conception of the meaning of the word God, as used in the Scriptures, namely, a mighty, a powerful being (See, Nov. '87 TOWER), we see the propriety of applying the name God (which in Scripture is applied to angels and to some great men) to this great being, who was and is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, of Jehovah's creation.
And so we find our Lord mentioned by this title, God, in `John 1:1-18`.--
"In the beginning [not at Jehovah's beginning, for he had no beginning, but in the beginning of his creation] was the Word [one of our Lord's titles--`Rev. 19:13`], and the Word was with the* God [Jehovah] and the Word was a God. The same was, in the beginning [of creation-- himself the first creation], with the* God. All things were made by him [the Word] and without him [aside from him as the direct instrumentality] was not anything made that was made. In the same was life, and the life was the light of men. ...He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not....The Word was made flesh [previously of a spirit nature our Lord was made flesh i.e., he underwent a change of nature--for the purpose of giving our ransom price; for since by a man came death by a man also "the resurrection of the dead" must come about. `1 Cor. 15:21`] and dwelt among us, and we beheld his dignity [of character], the majesty as of the only begotten of the Father--full of grace and truth."
How beautifully simple is the truth; how different from the confusion of error. Yet, strange to say, some poor souls are so used to believing errors, called holy mysteries, that they fear that anything reasonable is error.
*The Greek emphasizes the word here rendered God.
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DID THE JEWS BELIEVE IN EVERLASTING TORMENT.
Noting, from a back number of the TOWER, that we hold that the doctrine of everlasting torment was engrafted upon the doctrines of the Christian church during the period of the apostacy, the great falling away which culminated in Papacy, a Brother asks whether it does not seem, according to the works of Josephus, that this doctrine was firmly held by the Jews; and if so, he inquires, does it not seem evident that the early Christians being largely converts from Judaism, brought this doctrine with them, in the very out-start of Christianity.
We answer, No; the doctrine of everlasting torment sprang naturally from the doctrine of human immortality, which as a philosophic question was first promulgated in anything like the present form, by the Platonic school of Grecian philosophy. These first decided that each man contained a fragment of deity and that this would prevent him from ever dying;--that live he must, somewhere. This foundation laid, it was as easy to describe a place for evil-doers as for well-doers. But to the credit of those heathen philosophers be it recorded, that they failed to develop, or at least to manifest, that depth of degradation, from benevolence and reason and pity, necessary to paint, by word and pen and brush, such details of horrors and agonies as were soon incorporated into their doctrine, and a belief thereof declared "necessary to salvation" in the professed church of Christ.
To appreciate the case, it is necessary to remember that Greece stood at the head of intelligence and civilization when the Christian church was established. Alexander the Great had conquered the world, and had spread respect for Greece everywhere; and though, from a military point of view, Rome had taken her place, it was otherwise in literature. For centuries Grecian philosophers and philosophies led the intellectual world, and impregnated and affected everything. It became customary for philosophers and teachers of other theories to claim that their systems and theories were nearly the same as those of the Grecians, and to endeavor to remove differences between their old theories and the popular Grecian views. And some sought to make capital, by claiming that their system embraced all the good points of Platonism with others which Plato did not see.
Of this class were the teachers in the Christian church in the second, third and fourth centuries. Conceding the popularly accepted correctness of the philosophers, they claimed that the same good features of philosophy were found in Christ's teachings, and that he was one of the greatest philosophers, etc. Thus a blending of Platonism and Christianity took place. This became the more pronounced as kings and emperors began to scrutinize religious teachings, and to favor those most likely to awe the people and make them law-abiding. While heathen teachers were truckling to such imperial scrutiny, and teaching an everlasting punishment for those who violated the laws of the emperors (who ruled as divinely appointed) we cannot suppose otherwise, than that the ambitious characters in the church at that time, who were seeking to displace heathenism and to become the dominant religious power instead, would make prominent such doctrines as would in the eyes of the emperors seem an equal hold upon the fears and prejudices of the people. And what could be more to the purpose than the doctrine of the endless torment of the refractory?
The same motives evidently operated with Josephus when writing concerning the belief of the Jews. His works should be read as apologies for Judaism, and efforts to exalt that nation in the eyes of Rome and the world. It should be remembered that the Jews had the reputation of being a very rebellious people, very unwilling to be ruled even by the Caesars. They were hoping in God's promise to become the chief nation. Many rebellious outbreaks had occurred among them, and their religion, peculiar from all others, came in for its share of blame for favoring too much the spirit of liberty.
Josephus had an object in writing his two principal works, "Antiquities" and "Wars of the Jews." He wrote them in the Greek language while living at Rome, where he was the friend and guest successively of the Roman Emperors Vespasian, Titus and Domitian, and where he was in constant contact with the Grecian philosophers. These books were written for the purpose of showing off the Jewish people --their courage, laws, ethics, etc, to the best advantage, before the Grecian philosophers and Roman dignitaries. This object is covertly admitted in his preface to his "Antiquities," in which he says:--
"I have undertaken the present work as thinking it will appear to all the Greeks worthy of their study....Those that read my book may wonder that my discourse of laws and historical facts contains so much of philosophy....However, those that have a mind to know the reasons of every thing may find here a very curious philosophical theory."
In a word, as a shrewd man who himself had become imbued with the spirit of the Grecian philosophies then prevailing, Josephus drew from the Law and the Prophets, and from the traditions of the elders and the theories of the various sects of the Jews, all he could find that, in the most remote degree, would tend to show:--
First, that the Jewish religion was not far behind popular Grecian philosophy; but that somewhat analogous theories had been held by some Jews, and drawn from Moses' Law long before the Grecian philosophers broached them.
Secondly, he would fain show that it was not their religious ideas which made the Jews as a people hard to control or rebellious, as all liberty-lovers were esteemed by the Caesars. Hence he attempts to prove, at a time when virtue was esteemed to consist mainly in submission, that Moses' Law "taught first of all that God is the Father and Lord of all things, and bestows a happy life upon those that follow him, but plunges such as do not walk in the paths of virtue, into inevitable miseries." And, it is in support of this idea and for such purposes, evidently, that Josephus after saying: "There are three philosophical sects among the Jews, first the Pharisees, second the Sadducees, and the third Essens," proceeds to give an account of their three theories; especially detailing any features which resembled Grecian philosophy. And because the last and least, the Essens, most resembled the doctrines of the Stoics and leading Grecian theories, Josephus devotes nearly ten times as much space to their views as to the views of both Sadducees and Pharisees combined. And yet the Essens were so insignificant a sect, that Josephus himself admits they were few. Whatever views they held, therefore, on any subject cannot be claimed as Jewish sanction, when the vast majority of Jews held contrary opinions. The very
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fact that our Lord and the apostles never referred to them at all, is good evidence that the Essens' philosophy by no means represented the Jewish ideas. This small sect probably grew up later and absorbed its ideas, concerning immortality and the everlasting torment of the non-virtuous, from Grecian philosophy. It should be remembered that Josephus was not born until three years after our Lord's crucifixion, and that he published his "Wars" A.D. 75 and "Antiquities" A.D. 93-- at a time when he and other Jews like all the rest of the world were eagerly swallowing Grecian philosophy, and science falsely so called, against which Paul warned the church.--`Col. 2:8`; `1 Tim. 6:20`.
Josephus directed special attention to the Essens because it suited his object to do so. He admits that the Sadducees, next to the largest body of Jewish people, did not believe in human immortality. And of the Pharisees' views he makes a blind statement, calculated to mislead, as follows: "They also believe that souls have an immortal vigor in them [This might be understood to mean, that the Pharisees did not believe as the Sadducees that death ended all existence, but believed in a vigor or life beyond the grave--by a resurrection of the dead.] and that under the earth there will be rewards and punishments, according as they have lived virtuously or viciously in this life; and the latter are to be detained in an everlasting prison [not tortured] but that the former [the virtuous] shall have power to revive and live again."
Is it not apparent that Josephus has whittled and stretched the views of the Pharisees, as much as his elastic conscience would allow, to show a harmony between them and the philosophies of Greece? Paul, who had been a Pharisee, contradicts Josephus. While Josephus says they believed "that only the virtuous would revive and live again," [Does not this imply a resurrection and imply also that the others would not live again, but remain dead, in the great prison--the tomb?] Paul on the contrary says: "I have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust."--`Acts 24:15`.
We have no hesitancy about accepting the testimony of the inspired Apostle Paul, not only in regard to what the Jews believed, but also as to what he and the early church believed: and we repeat, that the theory of the everlasting torment of the wicked, based upon the theory that the human soul cannot die, is contrary to both the Old and the New Testament teachings and was introduced among Jews and Christians by Grecian philosophers. Thank God for the purer philosophy of the Scriptures which teaches that the death of the soul (being) is the penalty of sin (`Ezek. 18:20`) and that all souls being condemned through Adam's sin were redeemed by Christ's soul (`Isa. 53:10`); and that only for wilful, individual sin will any die again--the second death --an everlasting punishment, but not an everlasting torment, as shown in June TOWER.
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PURITY OF CHARACTER.
Over the plum and apricot there may be seen a bloom and beauty more exquisite than the fruit itself,--a soft, delicate flush that overspreads its blushing cheek. Now, if you strike your hand over that, and it is once gone, it is gone forever; for it never grows but once. The flower that hangs in the morning, impearled with dew, arrayed with jewels,--once shake it so that the beads roll off, and you may sprinkle water over it as you please, yet it can never be made again what it was when the dew fell lightly upon it from heaven.
On a frosty morning you may see the panes of glass covered with landscapes, mountains, lakes and trees, blended in a beautiful fantastic picture. Now, lay your hand upon the glass, and by the scratch of your fingers, or by the warmth of the palm, all the delicate tracery will be immediately obliterated. So in youth there is a purity of character which, when once touched and defiled, can never be restored, --a fringe mere delicate than frost work, and which, when torn and broken, will never be embroidered.
A man who has spotted and soiled his garments in youth, though he may seek to make them white again, can never wholly do it, even were he to wash them with his tears. When a young man leaves his father's house, with the blessing of his mother's tears still wet upon his forehead, if he once loses that early purity of character, it is a loss he can never make whole again. Such is the consequence of crime. Its effects cannot be eradicated, they can only be forgiven.--Beecher.
Thank God for the abundant provision made for all; for though all have lost purity and perfection and could never restore it to themselves, God has provided that the pure in heart--in motive, in intent, shall not only be accepted through Christ as if pure, but, more than this, has provided for a restoration (in his due time-- the Millennial Day), to actual purity and perfection, of all who hate sin and accept aid and deliverance through the Life-giver.
Mr. Beecher, great man and orator though he was, missed the pearl in his subject, as all who overlook the ransom do.--EDITOR.
"His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood avails for me."
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RESURRECTION HOPE IN CONTRAST.
We learn that Julius Caesar boldly averred, in a speech made in the Roman Senate, that man had nothing to fear, or hope for, after death. Speaking of death he says: "Concerning punishment we are enabled to speak confidently, as to what may pertain to it, that for the grieving, and miserable, death brings a state of absolute repose from all affliction, and not a state of excruciating agony. It sets mortals most absolutely free from every form of evil; and beyond it there is no place for either trouble or enjoyment."
M. Portius Cato, an illustrious philosopher of the Stoic School, gives these sentiments of Caesar his unqualified approbation in these words:--"Caesar a very short time ago reasoned in a happy pertinent style, in this particular manner, concerning life and death. In making his estimate of what is commonly narrated about the dwellers in the nether world he says, I believe it all false that the wicked make a diverse journey, from that made by the good, to hideous, waste, foul, and horrible abodes."
In the opinion of those two eminent Romans death ended all. And this was the opinion of whole schools of heathen philosophers. With these, misery has its end in the eternal insensibility and unconsciousness of the grave. To what Caesar and Cato have said we will only add, at this time, the expression of another Roman of distinguished eminence. The Elder Pliny, speaking of the death-state, says:--"From the last death-day the same state will be for all as it was before the first birth-day. Onward from death there will never more be either bodily sensation or mental consciousness any more than there was anterior to our birth." Pliny thus makes our human existence a brief hour of sensation and unconsciousness between two eternal nights. [Plato's philosophy had not yet gained general acceptance amongst Romans]. Leaving now the ancients let us see how this latter thought of Pliny was draped in figure by one of our English ancestry. Green, in his history of the English people, informs us that an aged Ealdorman once addressed Eadwine, king of Northumbria, in the following manner:--"So seems the life of man, O King, as a sparrow's flight through the hall when a man is sitting at meat in winter-tide with the warm fire lighted on the hearth, but the chill rainstorm without. The sparrows flies in at one door and tarries for a moment in the light and heat of the hearth-fire, and then flying forth from the other vanishes into the wintry darkness from whence it came. So tarries for a moment the life of man in our sight, but what is before it, what after it, we know not."
Then speaking of Christianity, which was then just being introduced into Britain,
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he says:--"If this new teaching tell us aught certainly of these let us follow it." The mysteries of life and death were pathetic themes for the bards. The language of one of these poets of the olden time warns the living in these words:--"Soon will it be, that sickness or sword-blade shear thy strength from thee, or the fire ring thee, or the flood whelm thee, or the sword grip thee, or arrow hit thee, or age o'ertake thee, and thine eye's brightness sink down into darkness." With them life and death were controlled by "weird" or destiny. "Strong as he might be, man struggled in vain with the doom that encompassed him, that girded his life with a thousand perils and broke it at so short a span." Life had its work of "doomed deeds," closing in the fateful "weirdness" of death and the tomb. It was a "sparrow-flight through a warm light room" from an eternal winter-night out into the self-same, eternal winter-night again--into endless darkness and nothingness.
How ardently we should prize the glorious gospel through which "life and immortality are brought to light." In order to this let us read, in contrast to the words above quoted, some few of the triumphant expressions of the ancient worthies, who walked in the light of divine revelation, and spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. Says Job:--"I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me." David says: "As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness." Speaking of the living God, Isaiah says: "He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall be taken away from off all the earth; for the Lord hath spoken it." And again: "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing ye that dwell in dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead." We close the contrast with the glowing words of Paul who lived shortly after Caesar and Cato, and who was contemporary with Pliny. "Behold I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" "Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Jesus Christ is "the resurrection and the life," and he will raise up all his people at the last day. Death, to the believer, is only the briefest suspension of conscious activities, and the grave-sleep a short, deep, undisturbed and unmeasured repose, during which the unmanifested life is hid with Christ in God. "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.--The Restitution.