VOL. XVII. MARCH 15, 1896. No. 6.
Special Items..................................... 50
Views from the Tower.............................. 51
The Christian's Joy............................... 53
Trials of Faith--Why Permitted.................... 54
Poem: The Great Pyramid........................... 56
Christadelphian Views............................. 56
Bible Study: Strive to Enter In at
the Strait Gate............................. 57
Encouraging Letters............................... 58
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VIEWS FROM THE TOWER.
THE Evangelical Alliance is prosecuting its scheme for the union of protestants. It is organizing "Local Alliances" in all parts of the United States, having in view the following objects:--
(1) "To bring conscience to bear on the life of the nation."
(2) "To close the chasm between the churches and workingmen."
(3) "To gain the strength which comes from organization."
(4) "To prevent the indefinite multiplication of organizations."
"What is much needed, in the interest both of economy and of effectiveness, is a common center where efforts to improve the community may be coordinated and adjusted to each other in some comprehensive plan--an organization which can survey the whole field and throw united effort into any one of many directions at the opportune moment."
(5) "To prevent competition and waste in locating missions and churches."
(6) "To cultivate Christian fellowship between different churches and different denominations."
(7) "To reach homes with elevating and transforming influences."
"Without some such organization as is proposed the churches cannot accomplish their social redemptive work."
On this latter subject it proposes that--
"Instead of going into politics the Alliance will aim...to separate municipal elections from state and national politics. It will insist on official fitness of candidates, oppose incompetent and corrupt men, and sustain the constituted authorities in a faithful administration of the public service.
"The Alliance will seek to aid labor reforms, to encourage the arbitration of labor difficulties, to establish labor bureaus, form working-girl's clubs, encourage cooperative housekeeping for self-supporting girls, oppose the sweating evil and child labor, and demonstrate to workingmen the desire of the churches to serve them in any legitimate way."
The circulars of the Alliance, setting forth these objects and giving advise relative to local organizations, etc., are being widely circulated. One of these says:--
"The Church of Christ has availed herself of the increased facilities for inter-communication among the peoples of the earth, and of the increase of knowledge; while in the longing for union among believers we cannot but discern a token of the presence of Him who walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.
"On the other hand, the shadows darken. It cannot be denied that we are in the presence of those signs of the 'perilous times' of which St. Paul speaks to Timothy. Nor can we shut our eyes to the increase of sacramentarianism and infidelity, which, from opposite sides, seek 'to corrupt our minds from the simplicity that is in Christ.' Many tokens seems to herald the approach of the final great struggle between the powers of light and the powers of darkness.
"'Wherefore, take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day.' 'Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.'"
The gentlemen connected with this Evangelical Alliance are beginning to fear as they realize that the powers of the heavens (ecclesiastical powers) are being shaken. (`Matt. 24:29`.) They realize to some extent that the "great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" (`Rev. 6:17`.) They are attempting to roll together the heavens (ecclesiastical systems) as a scroll; because they believe that in union there is strength.--`Isa. 34:4`; `Rev. 6:14`.
Their methods are not only worldly-wise, but in many respects good. But going about to establish their own plans for conquering the world for Christ by denominational
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alliance, they have not submitted themselves to the will and Word of God. They see the impending trouble, and remember the Lord's prayer that ultimately his followers all may be one with each other and with him and the Father. They overlook the fact that it is individually, and not as denominations, that the Lord's people are to be united to him and he with them, as branches in the true vine. They overlook the fact that the great union prayed for will be fulfilled only by the process outlined by the great Teacher himself under the parable of the wheat and the tares,--that the "tares" must be gathered and burned in the great time of trouble already impending, while the "wheat" are being gathered into the "barn" preparatory to their shining forth, with Christ the only Head, as the Sun of righteousness to bless and heal the world's woes-- social, financial, political and religious.
That the Alliance will succeed in doing some good we do not question; but that the general results will be pernicious is clearly pointed out in Scripture. Thus it is with
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all wrong methods--all methods that are not God-directed --"There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof is death." The child of God therefore must be careful to examine his course, not only to see if his motives and actions are right, but above all to see that he is working the work of him that sent him. God's work will not fail; but all works in conflict with it will soon or later come to naught and prove injurious to all associated in it.
The Scriptures represent that in the present time there are two great opposing forces in conflict,--Christ and the soldiers of his cross, and Satan and the powers of darkness (`Eph. 6:12`); that all mankind are serving one or the other of these causes (`Rom. 6:16`), though many, on both sides, serve ignorantly (`2 Cor. 4:4`; `11:14`; `Psa. 76:10`; `Joel 2:11`); but it is the privilege of all who are "sons" of God to be so led of the Spirit and Word of the Father as to understand his purposes and be enabled always to be workers together with God. He will show them "things to come;" he will make known to them "the mysteries of his will;" and they shall not be in darkness with the world, because they are "brethren" of Christ and walk in the light.--`Matt. 13:11`; `John 16:13`; `1 Thes. 5:4,5`.
The Scriptures, in portraying the success of the Evangelical Alliance, show that the results will be a religious oppression and tyranny similar to that of Papacy; and that however harmless it may seem to make an image of the papal beast, the time will come when the image will get life, and with it power, and when its power, like that of Papacy when in power, will be used against the liberties of God's truth and of the people.--See MILLENNIAL DAWN VOL. III., Chap. 4; `Rev. 13:14-17`; `Isa. 8:12`.
* * *
The people of Germany are awaking to the fact that their theological schools and colleges are turning out Infidels with ministerial titles, Doctors of Divinity, etc. True, the German people are religiously quite formalistic and drowsy, but they are not quite prepared to admit the claims of the "higher critics" of Germany and America, that the Bible is a mass of rubbish, uninspired.
The Lutheran Kirchenzeitung (Leipsic) recently published an article warning young men against this kind of instruction, from which we take the following paragraph:--
"Our congregations are not so ignorant. They meet the young candidate with some questions and problems. That which is taught in the theological lecture-rooms is no longer a secret among our congregations. Even the congregations in the backwoods have heard of these things. The more a congregation is matured in the knowledge of Christian truth, all the more careful will it be in the acceptance of a candidate as a new pastor. Our people demand a clear and ringing answer to the questions: 'What think you of Christ?' and 'What think you of the Scriptures?' Is the candidate honestly and openly to confess that in his convictions the Fathers of the Church have for centuries been blundering grievously when they accepted the divinity of the Scriptures as the revealed Word of God; that the Scriptures from the mythological account of the Creation to the close of the 'unauthentic' Apocalypse is full of human errors, irregularities, contradictions, fables and legends, from which, with great difficulty, the Word of God is to be hulled out? Is he to tell the people that their faith in the atoning death of Christ, in his resurrection, in the power of the Sacraments, is groundless and to be cast aside?"
But the schools and seminaries of Germany are under government patronage and the professors as well as the ministers and churches are supported by the government, so that protests will be of no avail. The leaven (corruption) is spreading everywhere amongst the "upper classes." By and by it will reach the lower classes, and when they become Infidels, disbelievers in the Word of God, they will doubt everything; and anarchy and riot will speedily follow.
* * *
"Mr. Rabbinowitz says the Jews have kept up great questionings and controversies about the meaning of `Zech. 12:10`: 'They shall look upon ME whom they have pierced.' They will not admit that it is Jehovah whom they have pierced, hence the dispute as to who is meant. Mr. R. points out that the word used consists of the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet, Aleph Tay, and adds: 'Do you wonder, then, that I was filled with awe and astonishment when I opened to `Rev. 1:7,8`, and read these words of Zechariah quoted by John, 'Behold, he cometh... and every eye shall see him, and they also that pierced him,' and then heard the glorified Lord saying,...'I am the Alpha and Omega.' Jesus seemed to say to me, 'Do you doubt who it is you have pierced? I am the Aleph Tay, the Alpha Omega.'"
* * *
Amongst the many evidences of preparation for the "times of restitution" "when the wilderness shall blossom as the rose, and the wilderness shall smile," are advances
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and inventions along the line of horticulture, and for the destruction of farm pests. Of the latter a notable one is a weed destroyer which kills weeds, to the very roots, --even the noxious Russian and Canadian thistles. It is the invention of Prof. Woodworth, of Michigan College, and is reported to be both cheap and effective. A wheelbarrow or cart is loaded with storage batteries from which long wires trail along the ground to be cleared, and wherever the wires touch a weed it is killed clear to the roots.
* * *
An article by Rev. Dr. Haweis [Episcopalean] in the Contemporary Review has excited considerable attention. Among other things he says:--
"The man in the pew thinks he has a right to remonstrate with the man in the pulpit who denounces him as an unbeliever. He may fairly say to his clergyman: You complain of me for not believing what you call church doctrines; how much do you believe yourself? Now, you don't actually believe that after this life, without further explanation, the population of the world will be divided into two parts, the converted and the unconverted, and that one half will go straight to heaven and be happy forever, and the other half will be sent straight to hell to be tormented forever. You don't believe that yourself, because you are not such a fool; then why do you expect me to sit in church and listen to you patiently while you preach it?' It has come to this: the laity not only despise the clergy for their affirmations, but still more for their reticences, and yet few (some do) have the heart to condemn them as unscrupulous hypocrites--they are really often such nice fellows in many ways, and moral fellows, too; so people don't like to think they are liars, and cannot quite believe they are idiots."
This gentleman's eyes are opening to the fact that the deceptions so long practiced by his craft upon their flocks are losing their power. Many will be forced to honesty to retain respect and support. It is remarkable that men whose leisure and education should make them teachers of those who confide in them for instruction in Scriptural doctrine should so impose upon their sheep; until forced by the growth of intelligence to admit that they have for years professed and taught what they have not believed. Surely every honest man, worthy of the truth from God or confidence from fellow men, should publicly avow the truth, and disavow the error, as soon as the true light, which harmonizes God's word, reaches him.
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THE CHRISTIAN'S JOY.
"Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore."--`Psa. 16:11`.
WHEN we consider how much is said in the Scriptures about joy and rejoicing among God's people, we are deeply impressed with the thought that our heavenly Father is very solicitous for the happiness of his children, even in the present life. The worldly minded cannot see this, they look upon the lot of God's children as a hard and joyless one, and upon God as a hard Master, without concern for the happiness of his children. This, however, is only because the natural man cannot receive the things of the spirit of God, because they are spiritually discerned. But the spiritual-minded have meat to eat that the world knows not of; and their hearts rejoice, and their joy no man taketh from them.
How strange it seems! says the world. Why, there was Paul, a man of great talent and opportunity who might have been somebody in the world: he wasted his talents, was a poor man all his days, homeless, friendless, knocked about and persecuted, a sort of religious fanatic. But Paul, viewing the matter from the standpoint of his spiritual discernment, said, "I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation" (`2 Cor. 7:4`); for he was one of that anointed body who, like his Lord and Head, could say, "I foresaw the Lord always before my face; for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved. Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad."--`Acts 2:25,26`.
So the Psalmist bids all the anointed body rejoice, saying, "Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous; for praise is
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comely for the upright." (`Psa. 33:1`.) And Isaiah, speaking for the same class, says, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with jewels."--`Isa. 61:10`.
This blessed joy, which so wonderfully lifts the soul above all the vicissitudes of the present life, is, as the prophet expresses it, joy in the Lord, not a joy in earthly possessions, or earthly hopes or ambitions. These earthly things are all so transitory and so changeable that a single blast of adversity may sweep them all from us; but not so is it with those whose hearts are centered in God and to whom he has shown the path of life. These have learned to estimate the things of this present life according to their true values; they see that all of its joys are both transient and unsatisfactory and that the only real value in it is in the opportunities it affords for experience and discipline and education in the things of God and for hearing the call of God and making our calling and election sure. In thus making the proper use of the present life--walking in the path of life which God shows us through his Word--we have the present joys of hope and faith in the things unseen, but sure and eternal; knowing also that by and by in the immediate presence of God we shall have fulness of joy, and pleasures for evermore at his right hand--the chief place of favor.
But while the fulness of joy in its widest sense is reserved for that blessed time when we shall be like the Lord and see him as he is (`1 John 3:1,2`) and be in his presence
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and at his right hand (in his chief favor), there is a fulness of joy in the presence and favor of God which is the privilege of every Christian now. Our capacity for joy now is not what it will be by and by, but it is possible now to have our little earthen vessels as full as they can hold of the joy of the Lord. And day by day it is our privilege to realize the presence and favor of God, if, by walking in the path of life, the path of obedience and loving service, we draw near to God. "If a man love me," said our Lord Jesus, "he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him."--`John 14:23`.
In such company as this, can any Christian fail utterly to realize some measure of joy in the Lord? No, if his faith grasps the promise and holds it, the realization of joy in the Lord is sure to follow, and the more firmly his faith lays hold upon the promise the more will he realize its fulfilment, and the more fully will his joys abound; for in the presence of the Lord is fulness of joy, no matter what may be the conditions and circumstances.
In the blessed realization of this experience and the assurance of faith which it gave, in the midst of all his labors, Paul exclaimed, "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect?...Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."--`Rom. 8:33-39`.
It was this strong persuasion, this confident faith, of the Apostle that gave him such joy in the midst of all his tribulations. His faith laid hold upon the promises of God with a strong and steady grasp, and love and gratitude impelled him to prompt obedience to the will of God and ardent zeal in his service; and evidently the Lord's promise was fulfilled to him in the abiding presence of Father and Son with him at all times and under all circumstances.
This blessed privilege is ours also, if by faith we enter fully into the Lord's will and favor. And with a blessed realization of the abiding presence of our heavenly Father, and our Lord Jesus at all times, and of their love and favor, and a faith that lays hold of all the exceeding great and precious promises of God, what soul may not rejoice and be glad, even in the midst of deep sorrow or great tribulation? In the Lord's presence, no matter where we are, is fulness of joy. Let us cultivate the Lord's acquaintance more, drawing near to him in prayer, in the study of his precious Word, in meditation upon all his goodness, his providential care, the marked manifestations of his grace in our own individual experiences, and his precious promises which are all yea and amen in Christ Jesus. Thus "draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you" (`James 4:8`), he will manifest himself to you and take up his abode with you.
It is indeed the will of God that all his children should be happy in him, that they should be always rejoicing; and if any one lacks this blessing, he is living below his privileges. Beloved, let us not be contented to live beneath our privileges. Let us appreciate the favor of God to the extent of seeking for it more and more diligently, remembering the exhortation, "Seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you." All the riches of divine favor are ours if in faith and humility we claim them and place ourselves in position to receive them as directed through the Word of God. "Ask and receive, that your joy may be full." And your joy can no man take from you, so long as you abide in Him who is our life, our joy, our rest, our hope.
"Why should the children of the King
Go mourning all the day?"
"Children of the Heavenly King,
As we journey let us sing!"
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TRIALS OF FAITH--WHY PERMITTED.
MANY are perplexed as to why false doctrines are permitted to annoy and confuse God's people. On receiving the truth and rejoicing in it they seem to think they have at last come to the end of all controversy, and have entered the Beulah land of rest and peace, thenceforth never again to be disturbed. But this is quite a mistake: our great adversary, Satan, is not disposed to let the children of light walk on undisturbed into the heavenly kingdom. Against that kingdom and its establishment, and against all its prospective probationary heirs, he is an inveterate enemy, and his power is not yet bound. The children of light, the heirs of the kingdom, are, therefore, the special targets against which his fiery darts are aimed. As soon as they escape from the kingdom of darkness and begin to walk in the light, they may therefore expect to find snares spread for their feet and stumbling blocks placed in their way. The work is done with subtlety, too, that, if possible, the escaped bird may be deceived and caught unawares. And, as a matter of fact, thousands are so caught, and only a few escape the "strong delusions" of this "evil day" of Satanic wrath and power.
It is a fair and reasonable question therefore, Why does the Lord permit the strong delusions and trials of faith of this evil day, when they actually do overthrow the faith of many and severely test all? To this inquiry the Apostle Paul (`2 Thes. 2:10-12`) makes answer, saying,
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"For this cause, God, shall send them [Whom?--Those "who received not the love of the truth that they might be saved"] strong delusions, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be condemned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
Thus plainly we are told that God not only permits, but that he also desires, that the faith of his professed people should be severely tried. And if the thousands fall by these fiery darts of the enemy, it is because they are unworthy of the truth, not having received it in the love of it. Many indeed receive the truth very much as a child receives a new toy. It is a curiosity, something new, to be enjoyed for a season and then laid aside to be superseded by something else that temporarily pleases the fancy. Or, it is valued as a cudgel wherewith to gain the honors of victory in argument with disputing opponents. Or, again, it affords relief to some from a long imposed bondage of fear of eternal torment, and for this alone it is chiefly valued. They never did enjoy such a prospect, and often feared they were not quite good enough to escape torment and get inside the door of heaven.
All who thus lightly esteem the truth, merely to minister to their selfishness, are unworthy of it; and it is the will of God that all such should lose it. Hence the divinely permitted and desired testing of faith--the strong delusions, which, "if it were possible, would deceive the very elect," --those who have received the truth in the love of it, and not in any mean, selfish spirit. The truth was never intended for the listless, nor for the wicked. The former are unworthy of it and the latter are better without it until taught to use and not abuse the liberty it brings. "Light [truth] is sown for the righteous, and joy [the joys of the truth] for the upright in heart." It is just as well that others, especially the wicked, should remain under the bondage of errors which to some extent control them until the strong
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power of Christ's kingdom is due to take the control of the world. For this reason God has permitted the superstitions of the past to fetter men's minds, and only in the present close proximity to the kingdom is he allowing some of the shackles of error to be loosened; and in the great time of trouble this will be seen to be the unchaining of the tiger of human passions, which would be disastrous in the extreme, were it not for the strong rule of the iron rod which will shortly command order, and say to the warring elements, "Peace, be still!" To the listless and selfish who are not grossly wicked, the truth is only made to minister to pride and selfishness, and hence it is the will of God that all such should lose it, as they do in pursuance of their natural dispositions with reference to it. But the true children of God love the truth because they have an affinity for it. They love righteousness, they love their fellow men, and desire to bless and help them. They have large benevolence and brotherly kindness. They are meek, too, and not anxious to make a show of self and to glory over their fellows in argument; nor are they mere curiosity-hunters. When they have found the truth they recognize its value; they prize it and meditate upon it; they view it as a grand and systematic embodiment of the highest ideal of righteousness, love and benevolence. They rejoice not only in its gracious provisions for the elect joint-heirs with Christ, but also for all mankind, as well as in the merciful dealings of God with the finally incorrigibly wicked whom he will mercifully destroy, but not torment. They say, It is just like God: it is the manifestation of his glorious goodness, the reflection of his loving, benevolent, wise and just character. And therefore they love the truth and the God who gave it: they treasure it up in their hearts and con it over again and again; and as they look into it, and admire all its symmetry and beauty, they strive more and more to conform their own characters to the same lines of beauty and seek to commend it by word and conduct to others, that they also may be blessed by it.
This is what it is to receive the truth into good and honest hearts. For such the truth was intended; and it is not possible for them to be deceived by the sophistries of error. They know a good thing when they have it, and therefore hold it fast. They cling to it just as steel filings cling to a magnet, because they have an affinity for it. If you run a magnet through a box of sawdust and steel filings it will come out covered with the steel filings. A little sawdust may rest lightly on it, too, just as some people associate themselves with the truth and with those who hold it very dear; but the sawdust is easily blown off, while the steel filings hold fast. Just so multitudes of those who associate themselves with the Lord's people are easily carried away with a little wind of new false doctrine. And though they do not all disappear with the first breeze, a few more breezes will carry them all away. But the true ones God will not permit to be tempted above what they are able to bear; for he has given his angels a charge concerning them, and in their hands they shall bear them up lest at any time they should dash their feet against a stone.
The angel or messenger thus commissioned may be some well-instructed brother who has studied to show himself a workman approved unto God, rightly dividing the Word of truth, and ever ready to feed the flock of God, or some faithful sister, ever watchful with motherly interest over the lambs of the flock. Albeit, the Lord will always provide for his own elect, and they shall not stumble nor fall.
The one thing for all the called to look to first is that they have received, and that they still hold, the truth in the love of it. Freely imbibe its blessed spirit and live in its hallowed atmosphere; "for, if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his." "Through sanctification of the spirit and belief of the truth" you are chosen to the great salvation now shortly to be revealed (`2 Thes. 2:13`.) But the belief of the truth will avail nothing if it be not permitted to produce its legitimate fruit in a good and honest heart--viz., sanctification of the spirit, a complete setting apart to the divine will and service. Let us lay this lesson well to heart, and so run as to obtain the prize of our high calling. "Buy the truth" at any cost of self-sacrifice, "and sell it not" for any paltry present advantage.
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THE GREAT PYRAMID.
O mighty structure of a time
When nations dead were in their prime;
Whose lines and measurements immense
Were fashioned by Omnipotence,
And laid, without a word to check,
By king and priest Melchizedek!
What precious symbols long unknown
Were built beneath thy corner stone!
How faultless, graceful, every line,
In those stupendous walls of thine!
A sign and wonder, heaven-planned,
For saints, if wise, to understand;
An altar and a pillar tall,
To warn, instruct and comfort all,
Who faithful all their talents give
And, dying daily, die to live.
A witness mute, yet eloquent,
A marvel and a monument,
Upreared by hands inspired to prove
That God Eternal reigns in Love;
For in thy labyrinths we trace
His dealings with the human race--
The path to glory hard to tread,
The death of those to goodness dead,
The rough hewn narrowness of ways
That lead to life and endless days;
The step on step to life complete,
The Head, the Body and the Feet,
Of a great following joined in one
Eclipsing many a dazzling sun;
The depths unfath'mable profound,
Without an echo or a sound,
A symbol of the death of One,
Our Savior and Jehovah's Son;
With signs and tokens scattered round
To prove He burst each icy bond
Of death the conqueror, conquered then,
For sinful and believing men;
The planes and parallels to guide
His Church elect and faithful Bride.
Its sure foundation solid rock,
Like faith impregnable. No shock--
Of 'whelming flood, or raging storm--
Can shake an atom, or deform
That towering witness strong, divine,
To us a miracle--and sign
Of promised blessings sure to come,
A guide omnipotent to home. --R. S. FOSTER.
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HERE and there are to be found people who hold what are known as Christadelphian views, which are in some respects much like the views advocated in ZION'S WATCH TOWER, and in other respects the very opposite. Their views, briefly stated, are (1) That the Church is chosen or elected (according to the foreknowledge of God) through the truth; and that in all it is a "little flock," heirs of the Kingdom. (2) They hold, however, that the Kingdom will be a visible, earthly throne, on which Christ will sit with his apostles, and that somehow all Christadelphians will be "joint-heirs," who will "sit every man under his own vine and fig tree," plant, build, etc., and long enjoy the work of their hands. (3) As for the dead Christadelphians, they will be resurrected to share these blessings, but for all other dead people, good or bad, they see no hope, no resurrection. (4) A great catastrophy at the second coming of Christ will destroy nearly all of the living except the Christadelphians, and the few spared will merely be spared so as to be the everlasting servants of the Christadelphians--their hewers of wood and drawers of water,--their slaves.
Lest some generous soul should suppose that they use the term "Christadelphian" in a broad sense to mean all true Christians, we answer, No; the term Christadelphian is used in the narrowest sense, applicable only to those who have believed as foregoing, and who then have been immersed, and who do not change their faith afterward. Other portions of their creed, made very prominent, are, that our Lord Jesus never had an existence before he was born in Bethlehem, and that there is no devil. They also deny the ransom.
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Anyone can see at a glance, when these views are thus concisely stated, the very wide difference between them and the views presented in the TOWER and in MILLENNIAL DAWN as Scriptural. But the policy of advocates of all false systems is to avoid a full, plain statement of their theory, and, covering the features of which they are properly somewhat ashamed, they proceed to fasten it on others piecemeal as they themselves received it. And thus they occasionally get some confused with the following texts of Scripture: `Isa. 26:14`; `43:17`; `Jer. 51:39,57`. These are quoted in opposition to the teaching that, because our Lord Jesus gave himself a ransom for all, therefore all must have a full opportunity to obtain eternal life by resurrection. We will examine them in the above order:
(1) `Isaiah 26:14`. The `first nine verses` of this chapter are a prophetic description of the Millennial day,--when the land of Judah has been reclaimed (`verse 1`) and when the nations of earth are walking in the light (teaching) of the glorified Church--the New Jerusalem. (Compare `verse 2` and `Rev. 21:24-26` and `Isa. 60:11,18-22`.) `Verse 5` describes the humbling of the proud and the fall of mystic Babylon. `Verse 9` shows how some (the body of Christ) have desired and prayed "thy Kingdom come" throughout the "night" of the Gospel age while waiting for the Millennial dawning; and how the judgments of the "day of
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trouble" which introduces the Millennial reign are necessary to teach the world righteousness. `Verses 10 and 11` show, however, that even those terrible lessons will be insufficient for some who even in the land of uprightness (the Millennial or "new earth" state), will be unjust still, and refuse to recognize the mighty "hand" of God. Yet they shall see, and eventually all enemies of the Lord shall be destroyed.
`Verses 12-15` represent the faithful taking a glance backward, and acknowledging that the deliverance has been wholly God's work. "O Lord our God, other lords [rulers, powers] have had dominion over us [Sin, the great task-master, and his representatives in civil, ecclesiastical and financial despotism, including trusts, combines and every evil system which oppresses men at the present time;--some of which are now highly esteemed among the oppressed]; but of Thee only would we make mention [now as our ruler]--of thy name. They are dead, they will not live again; they are departed, they will not arise again: because thou hast visited and destroyed them and made every memorial of them to perish."--See Leeser's translation.
Ah, yes! every power of evil and oppression shall be destroyed forever, never to rise again, when the kingdom is the Lord's and he is the Governor amongst the nations.
(2) `Isaiah 43:17`. The Lord is encouraging Israel by reminding her of his deliverances and helps in the past, and incidentally teaches us something of the larger meaning of those deliverances.
`Verses 16 and 17` remind them of how God opened for Israel a path through the waters of the Red Sea; and how he vanquished their enemies, Pharaoh and his army, in the Red Sea, utterly cutting them off from power to reenslave them, by drowning them, extinguishing the life from an entire army suddenly. Do ye not remember the former things, neither the things of old?
Yet `verses 19-25` show that the deliverance from Egypt and the journey through the wilderness were but foreshadowings of future blessings upon all who shall become true Israelites, who were typified by Israel in bondage. The greater taskmaster than Pharaoh is Satan with his servants. The greater deliverer than Moses is Christ (Head and Body); the greater overthrow than that of Pharaoh and his army will be the overthrow of sin and Satan in the time of trouble already begun; the leading and care and miracles greater than those through the Wilderness will be those of the Millennium; and the greater Canaan beyond will be the condition of everlasting perfection to be entered by the worthy of mankind at the close of the Millennium.
(3) `Jeremiah 51:39,57`. The description of the fall of Babylon here given applies only partially to the literal city--chiefly to the fall of "Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth," the mystic city; and the language is correspondingly figurative. Babylon's great ones, highly esteemed by her deluded subjects, are called by various dignified and high-sounding titles, from "the Lord's anointed" down to Reverend and Doctor of Divinity. These as such shall all perish with the fall of Babylon (`Rev. 18`), and as such they shall never awake or exist again. In their awakening they will see matters more clearly in the light of the Millennial day--the sun of righteousness --and will be ashamed of the titles and offices now "highly esteemed among men."
The unprejudiced reader will confess that nothing in these proof-texts intimates that only Christadelphians will have a future life, experience a resurrection from death. The Scriptures assure us that "Christ died for the ungodly," for those who aside from his redemption were "without God and having no hope." He "tasted death for every man," and is the true light which must soon or later enlighten every man that has ever been born. The only ones for whom there is absolutely no hope in the future are those for whom "there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sin." (`Heb. 6:4-10`; `10:26-31`.) These are not the ignorant ones whom the "god of this world hath blinded," but those who have seen, who have tasted, who have in the present life received the grace of God, but have received it in vain, received it to reject it and to count the blood of the [New] covenant, wherewith they were sanctified a common thing. These wilful sinners of the Gospel age will have no resurrection privileges in the future, because they have enjoyed those privileges in the present life and have wilfully despised and misused them.
All who now hear the joyful message of salvation through the precious blood of Christ, and by acceptance pass from death unto life (justification by faith), have received an awakening equivalent to what all mankind will enjoy in the Millennium; and whether the life-offer be intelligently spurned now or then the result will be the same: to such there will remain no more interest or share in the great sacrifice for sins, and hence nothing but destruction.
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STRIVE TO ENTER IN AT THE STRAIT GATE.
--APRIL 5.--`Luke 13:22-30`.--
THE question, "Lord, are there few that be saved?" our Lord did not answer directly. The time had come for preaching the Kingdom, and inviting those who had "an ear to hear" the call to enter in. The call for the time was limited to the high calling of joint-heirship with Christ in the Millennial Kingdom; and it has so continued ever since. There is but the one call during this age. "Ye are all called in one hope of your calling." The fact that God has in purpose another call, to another class, in the Millennial age, may cheer and comfort us now, and enable us to see harmony and consistency in the divine character and arrangement, but it should not encourage
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any one to reject a present call and to hope for another. He who "hears" the present call has no right whatever to hope for another if he spurns what has been put within his reach. As the Apostle said, "How shall we escape [destruction] if we neglect so great salvation?"
Our Lord taught the Apostles much concerning his mission, his Kingdom and its object; but also said to them. "I have many things [yet] to tell you, but ye cannot bear them now; howbeit, when he the spirit of truth is come, he will guide you [gradually] into all truth." (`John 16:13`.) To have answered their question in full would have led to many other questions for whose answers they were not prepared, therefore our Lord wisely avoided their query, and merely told them what was their duty and proper course: "Strive [make great effort] to enter in at the strait [difficult] gate, for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in and shall not be able, when once the Master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door."
The illustration is that of an eastern wedding, as represented in the parable of the Ten Virgins. Those who were invited were expected to be ready before the coming of the bridegroom, and to enter with him. When he and his ready, accompanying friends have entered, the door is shut, and for the occasion all outside are treated as strangers, as unknown, and the festivities proceed without them.
In all of his parables our Lord represented the Kingdom promised to his followers as to be gained at the end of the age, when the Nobleman would return from the far country, heaven, to take possession of his kingdom and to share its honors with those faithful to him during his absence. (`Luke 19:12-27`) Or, under other figures, he represented himself as the bridegroom coming to claim and take home his faithful, waiting, betrothed virgin. He gave them no definite information respecting the time of his coming, so that all might be constantly on the alert, not knowing at what hour their Lord might arrive;--nevertheless assured that all the ready, waiting, watching ones would get word in time and be able to enter in to the marriage.
Hence the coming of the bridegroom, and the shutting of the door at the proper time, has reference to the close of this Gospel age, when the full predestinated number of the Church, the bride of Christ, has been called,
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chosen and found faithful. Then the "door" or opportunity to become a member of the bride and joint-heir with Christ in his Kingdom will be forever closed. There cannot be one additional member, even as there could not be one less than the predestinated number.
We are down in the end of the age now; the Bridegroom-King has come; the wise virgins are trimming their lamps, examining the evidences of the Scriptures, and going forth as those who acknowledge his presence and avowedly are going to the wedding. Soon the last of this class will have gone in, and the door will be shut. Then the foolish virgins, drowsy and overcharged and lacking sufficient zeal, but nevertheless "virgins," will begin to bestir themselves; they will buy the oil in the market of experience; they will begin to realize that the end of the age is upon us, that the Bridegroom has come, and that the Kingdom feast is about to take place. But as they see the storm growing dark, they will hasten to go to the wedding, and many will find themselves debarred, refused admittance. They will then realize that they have failed to make their calling and election sure by so running as to obtain the prize of joint-heirship with Christ.
"There shall be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth." Yes, not alone will there be disappointment in losing the prize offered and sought (but sought too indifferently), but some of the wailing and tribulation will arise from another cause: they will find themselves suddenly in the midst of the great "time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation" (`Dan. 12:1`), a trouble that will be worldwide, and from which there will be no escape except by those who enter in before the door is shut--to whom it was said, "Watch,...that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things.--`Luke 21:36`.
The angels are holding the "winds" of violence, until the full number of the elect have been sealed and have made their calling and election sure; and when this is finished we may expect that the trouble upon the world will come "as a whirlwind, suddenly."
But the "foolish virgins" who have been of the household of faith, but slack and not "overcomers," are not the only ones who will find themselves shut out of the Kingdom. Many others--all workers (servants) of iniquity, whether Jews or Gentiles, will find themselves excluded and denied any part or lot in the Kingdom of God.
In this discourse our Lord does not tell what great blessings are to follow the union of the Heavenly Bridegroom with his bride, but other Scriptures tell us that soon thereafter the whole world will be blessed; for the spirit and the bride will give the invitation, "Come!" and whosoever will (not merely an elect "little flock") may then come and take of the water of life freely. (`Rev. 22:17`.) Neither does the parable tell what became of the "foolish virgins;" but another Scripture shows them "saved so as by fire.--`1 Cor. 3:15`.
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ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM FAITHFUL WORKERS.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--Major Whittle is drawing large audiences, but there is no excitement. He tells too much truth to work up an "old-fashioned revival." I was told that he said recently, "The longer I continue in this work, the less faith I have in exciting revivals."
I heard his two lectures on the second coming of Christ. If he were not depending upon nominal Christendom for the sustenance of his wide reputation as an evangelist, I believe he would be able to see the truth. In a private conversation he said to me, "Aside from two things, I think Brother Russell is in harmony with the Scriptures." What do you think these two things are? "Future probation, and in regard to the divine, spiritual body of Christ." His argument is based upon `Acts 1:11` and `Luke 24:39`.
Yours in Christ, J. M. BLOSE.
[REPLY:--We are gratified to learn of this approach to a clear appreciation of the great truths due in this harvest time on the part of one whom we have long esteemed as honest in his convictions, and fervent in spirit serving the Lord, although with a zeal that was not in accordance with a knowledge of many of the truths now due to the household of faith. Early teaching and long accustomed habits of thought are not easily overcome even by clear truth in
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minds that are naturally conservative, as most minds are. Yet even over these difficulties the honest-hearted will be led by the spirit of God slowly, if not rapidly, to clear apprehensions of the truth, which is unto all the household of faith meat in due season.
We note the texts thought to be contrary to our teaching that our Lord is no longer a being of flesh--a human being. The brother has probably not taken into consideration the fact that before our Lord "was made flesh," he, in common with other spirit beings, angels, could assume a human body, a body of flesh and blood and bones (`Gen. 18:19`; `Judges 13`; `Dan. 10:5-21`), and that his subsequent humiliation in being "made flesh" (`John 1:14`) and thus becoming "the man Christ Jesus" (`1 Tim. 2:5`) was a totally different thing from merely appearing in a body of flesh, like a man. Indeed, no Christian will dispute this difference, we presume; but when they come to consider `Luke 24:39` they forget to apply the same rule. They forget that our Lord was "made flesh" only for a limited time, and was not humbled to a lower nature forever; and that the object of this humiliation is clearly stated to have been "for the suffering of death." (`Heb. 2:9`.) "He was put to death in the flesh, but quickened [made alive] in spirit." And as he said before his death, "Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more," so we find that he "showed himself" (made himself to appear) to none except his disciples after his resurrection, and to them only a few times, and not after his former manner;--coming in while the doors were shut and leaving them by vanishing: as though he would tell them thus,--I am "changed," I am now a "quickening spirit," yet what you see is flesh and bones and not spirit, so do not be affrighted, but permit me to talk with you and expound to you the Scriptures.
The Apostle Paul expounds this subject thoroughly in `Philippians 2:6-10`. He shows our Lord's pre-human glory, his humiliation to be made a man, and then his still further humiliation to "the death of the cross," and then tells us that God exalted him subsequently to the highest glory. How inconsistent then to suppose him to still have the body of humiliation! He that ascended from the human nature is the same who first descended to the human nature. He is now glorified with the same spiritual glory which he had with the Father before the world was [made], but with added majesty. Our redemption cost enough at Calvary: it is not necessary that our Redeemer should bear a marred and scarred body of humiliation for our sakes for all eternity.
The resurrected bodies of the Church are described particularly in `1 Cor. 15:42-44`, as not only glorious, but spiritual. So then if our Redeemer have a scarred and fleshly body of humiliation while we have glorious, perfect, spirit bodies, the "body of Christ," the Church, would eclipse the "head" in glory. But not so: our Lord is now exalted, the express image of the Father's person; and we shall be like him.
Respecting `Acts 1:11`. It seems strange that so many Bible students overlook the fact that the angel did not say anything about what kind of a body our Lord would have at his second coming, but merely that it would be "this same Jesus"--the same that was with the Father before the world was, and that for a time, and for a purpose, was made flesh and dwelt among us, and died for us and rose a quickening spirit: this same Jesus, whom, during the forty days since his resurrection, the world had not seen, and whom his disciples had seen only for a few times and for a few moments, when he occasionally "showed himself" to them, to demonstrate the fact that he was risen and changed: this same Jesus would come again. As to the "manner" in which he went away, it was quiet, unknown to the world, and so will be the manner of his second coming--unknown to any except the true disciples.
Since "flesh" cannot "see," nor "enter into," nor "inherit" the Kingdom of God (`John 3:3-8`; `1 Cor. 15:50`), we should not imagine the King himself to be flesh. And, thank God! the members of his body, the Church, who are now in the flesh, must be "changed" and be made "like him," and then we shall "see him as he is" (`1 John 3:2`), not as he was when a man. We shall see him whom Paul saw as one born before the time--the Lord of glory, in glory above the brightness of the Sun.]
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--Some years ago a wealthy proprietor in Sweden, who had been a very pious gentleman, died, and left his son a loving admonition which I have translated into English, as follows:--
"My dear son:--Hereby I give you on parting this kind admonition. Be never diverted from these three things: the Word of God, your faith in Jesus Christ and
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the true fear of God. Hold on to the holy Scriptures, the Old and New Testaments, and let them be a rule and guide for everything you think, believe, speak and do. Trust wholly in the merit of our Lord Jesus Christ for your hope of salvation. Strive daily after holiness, that you may more and more put off evil and increase doing good. If you continue these three things, you will never need to fear any error or seduction. But if you depart from the three things I have mentioned you are in danger of injuring your own soul, and of missing the eternal salvation.
"I will particularly recommend you three practices of godliness: prayer, meditation on the Word of God and self-examination, thereby better to learn to know your faults and weaknesses. If you get sleepy or negligent in any of these three practices you may know that your Christianity is retrograding. But the more fervent you are in prayer, the more eagerly and diligently you ponder God's Word in your heart, the more candidly you test yourself before the Lord, and confess your sins before him, the more powerfully you shall experience the workings of divine grace by the holy spirit in your heart. Appear toward God as a pious and humble child, to your neighbor as a kind brother or compassionate father, and towards yourself, and with regard to your faults, as a severe judge; that you never gloss over them, but readily confess them, and ask for their forgiveness. Be a minister in your own house, and set a good example for your own family and servants
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in words and acts. Point them incessantly to the right way, read, pray and sing with them, according as God gives you grace and power to do, and ask the heavenly Father to draw the hearts of them all unto himself. Set a good example for all to follow after, in meekness, gentleness, longsuffering, patience and kindness. Then God shall give you blessing and favor to win yours for the kingdom of Christ.
"Whenever God gives you an opportunity to show your affection, especially toward the poor, the sick and suffering ones, never let it pass you by; for he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and this is the right mind for a Christian to have. Do not let it make you uneasy if you do not always feel joy in your heart, only be patient, and wait upon the Lord. He will surely in his own time make you glad again. Be not too hasty to judge another, for we judge a hundred times, and scarcely once hit the mark. Always leave to God what you do not understand.
"Dear son, I know the Lord will be merciful unto you and take you unto himself, if you faithfully attend to all this; and I would be glad if you would, once a week, especially at its beginning or end, read and consider what I have written. Have no company with seductive men. Do no one injustice in trade or business, and purpose by the help of God to go out into the world as an honest and pious Christian. Keep God before your eyes and in your heart all through life, and beware not to consent to any sin."
This seemed such excellent advice. I want you to see that some over here are friends of the Lord and of righteousness.
Yours in the Redeemer,
JOSEPH WINTER [Colporteur].
BROTHER RUSSELL AND FRIENDS OF TOWER OFFICE:-- I write to tell you my supply of tracts is exhausted, and to ask for more. I give a large part of them to country people returning from town to their homes.
I am kept so confined at home, and, seldom meeting any of the brethren of our hope and faith, I can make no report concerning the spread of the light here. Sometimes I have the unpleasing thought that there are too many DAWN and TOWER readers on whom the truth has taken but a slight hold, who in a languid sort of way apprehend the value of the harvest light, "approve the things that are excellent," but lack earnestness of conviction, and perhaps lack the zeal and ardor awakened in the heart by the good hope that cometh through grace--the "hope that maketh not ashamed." But I do not like to think thus, and am deterred from it by the sense of my own deficiencies and shortcomings. Many times I am caused to feel that the lines have fallen to me in grievous places, with bitter humiliations, tears and sorrows. An alternating and changeful experience is mine. Sometimes I am in the glooms and shadows, sometimes in enough of light to bring back to me the peace he gives to them who are his, enough to keep alive some courage, and prevent me from sinking. Meantime I am sensible of an increasing nearness to him, and a slow but perceptible growth in spiritual light and the assurance of the faith. But it seems to me that but very little is being done in the Master's work, and my own sphere of action and liberty of service in the harvest is so confined, that the distress and fear of coming short of the prize--the promise left to the faithful, the vigilant, the overcomers--will come over me at times.
The TOWERS of 1895 are full of excellent matter. I now understand the Scripture term "the quick and the dead"-- clearing up dark and difficult passages in harmony with the plan and system of revealed truth as a whole. This calls up the question relating to the meaning of the Master's words in `Luke 17`. In `verse 5` the disciples desired of him an increase of their faith. `Verse 6` can scarcely be called a reply. The question in the reader's mind is--Are `verses 7 to 10` to be taken as part of the reply to `verse 5`? If so, the meaning seems to be that a continuous, humble and faithful service and discharge of duty will result in an increase of one's faith, to a degree greater than indicated by the mustard seed, which is said to be the smallest of seeds.
[We believe our brother has made the correct application of our Lord's words. We must not sit down and expect our Lord to serve us until after we have proved faithful in serving him. (See `Luke 12:37`.) And after having served him with our all, and to the best of our ability, we must not feel that he owes us a debt of gratitude, but rather that we have brought him nothing to which he was not already the rightful owner, since "ye are bought with a price." We will still be his debtors; and the more faithful and diligent we are in his service, the more will it be to our own profit--to the increase of our faith, as well as to our upbuilding in character.--EDITOR.]
Pray ye, that my faith fail not; for I want to redeem as much of the time as possible, and use means and opportunities as the Lord will give me strength and grace to do so.
Yours in reverent and grateful love of Him,
D. M. FELTS
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--Your kind letter at hand. We were glad to receive greetings from you, as we pray without ceasing for you and your household.
On Jan. 1 the Church here called a special meeting at which Brother__________ was elected "elder," Brothers__________ and Sisters__________ as assistants.
I have so many engagements I know not which I should fill. I do not like to miss one evening at the depot, as I can put out from 50 to 125 tracts every evening. I also have parlor talks, reading the DAWNS and TOWERS and explaining the chart at different places; and I have a very good field to work at home, which I am afraid I am neglecting.
I do wish you could see how my wife is growing in grace and in the spirit of Christ. My heart rejoices as she tells me how she goes to the Lord in prayer, and how she trusts him, and how the darkest hours are turned into brightness. My eyes overflow with tears of joy as I think during the day at work of going home in the evening to find her reading or singing praises to the Lord. Our home is a heaven, my life is sweeter than I could have hoped or even thought, but not without seasons of trial. My step-daughter and son are 18 and 15 years of age. So you see I have to be very careful in my conduct, and in their training. They appreciate our happy home, and speak of it to their friends, who wish theirs were the same. I thank the Lord often for the precious truths we receive in the TOWER to strengthen and rejoice our hearts, and ask Him to keep you humble and strengthen you that you may withstand all trials and be a faithful servant. Oh, may we all be patient and faithful, and meet with our Redeemer in glory!