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VOL. V. PITTSBURGH, PA., OCTOBER, 1883. NO. 3.
HERALD OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE.
PUBLISHED MONTHLY AT
101 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pa.
C. T. RUSSELL, Editor and Publisher.
The Editor recognizes a responsibility to the Master, relative to what shall appear in these columns, which he cannot and does not cast aside; yet he should not be understood as endorsing every expression of correspondents, or of articles selected from other periodicals.
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DARKNESS COVERS THE EARTH.
"Behold the darkness shall cover the earth and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles (heathen) shall come to thy light."--`Isa. 60:2`.
The above diagram is powerfully suggestive of the statement of the prophet: "Darkness shall cover the earth." It was published here by the "WOMEN'S PRESBYTERIAN BOARD OF MISSIONS" and is termed "A Mute Appeal" on behalf of foreign missions, and was first issued by the "LONDON MISSIONARY SOCIETY."
Each square of this diagram represents ten hundred thousand human beings. The lights, shades and blackness tell of the darkness and blindness which has overspread the earth, while sin and evil have ruled mankind, and cause us to look longingly for the bright Millennial Day when the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings, causing the knowledge of the Lord to fill the whole earth and to bless all mankind.
The Watchman--the "Y.M.C.A." journal of Chicago--published this same diagram, and commenting on it, says: "The ideas of some are very misty and indefinite in regard to the world's spiritual condition. We hear of glorious revival work at home and abroad, of fresh missionary efforts in various directions, of one country after another opening to the gospel, and of large sums being devoted to its spread; and we get the idea that adequate efforts are being made for the evangelization of the nations of the earth. It is estimated to-day that the world's population is 1,424,000,000, and by studying the diagram we will see that considerably more than one-half--nearly two-thirds--are still total heathen, and the remainder are mostly either followers of Mohammed or members of those great apostate churches whose religion is practically a Christianized idolatry, and who can scarcely be said to hold or teach the gospel of Christ. Even as to the 116 millions of nominal Protestants, we must remember how large a proportion in Germany, England and this country have lapsed into infidelity--a darkness, if possible, deeper even than that of heathenism, and how many are blinded by superstition or buried in extreme ignorance. So that while eight millions of Jews still reject Jesus of Nazareth, and while more than 300 millions who hear His name have apostatized from His faith, 170 millions more bow before Mahomet; and the vast remainder of mankind are to this day worshipers of stocks and stones, of their own ancestors, of dead heroes, or of the devil himself; all in one way or other worshiping and serving the creature instead of the Creator, who is God over all, blessed forever. Is there not enough here to sadden the heart of thoughtful Christians?"
Some might suppose at first that the view is too dark and rather overdrawn, but we think the reverse of this. It shows nominal Christianity in the brightest colors possible. For instance, the 116,000,000 put down as Protestant is far in excess of the true number. Sixteen millions would be fully sufficient, we believe, to include every professing church member, and ONE MILLION would, we fear, be far too liberal an estimate for the "sanctified in Christ Jesus," who "walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit."
It is, indeed, a sorrowful picture of ignorance and darkness and sin from any standpoint; but, viewed from the so-called "ORTHODOX" standpoint, it is truly
AN AWFUL PICTURE.
If we hold "Orthodoxy" to its own creeds, it believes that all of these billions of humanity, ignorant of the only name under heaven by which we must be saved, are on the straight road to everlasting torment. And not only so, but all of those 116,000,000 Protestants, except the very few saints, are sure of the same fate. No wonder, then, that those who believe such awful things of Jehovah's plans and purposes should be zealous in forwarding missionary enterprises--the wonder is that they are not frenzied by it. If we believed such things it would rob life of every pleasure and shroud in gloom every bright prospect of nature.
That we have not misstated "Orthodoxy" on the subject of the fate of the heathen, we quote from their pamphlet --"A mute appeal on behalf of Foreign Missions"--in which the diagram was published. Its concluding sentence is: "Evangelize the mighty generations abroad--the ONE THOUSAND MILLION SOULS who are dying in CHRISTLESS DESPAIR at the rate of 100,000 a day."
But another peculiar thing is, that the "Mute Appeal" on behalf of Foreign Missions is issued by the WOMEN'S PRESBYTERIAN BOARD OF MISSIONS." The peculiarity is that a denomination which in its creed declares its faith to be, that God did from all eternity predestinate some to knowledge and salvation, and all others to ignorance and damnation, should so disregard their "old landmarks" and prejudices as to attempt to change the arrangement which they declare was predestinated.
But, really, we rejoice at this as an evidence that creeds of the darker centuries are losing their power over thinking people of every sect. We are glad, too, that their hearts are better than their creeds, and that they are superior to their estimate of God; for while they think that God looks calmly and unmoved upon this mass of humanity going down to hell at the rate of 100,000 a day, and never exercising His power to give them the needed knowledge, they are superior in that they are moved to pity and to benevolent action by the sight.
The great difficulty with "Orthodoxy" is, that they fail to recognize plan and method in God's word and dealings. Such will, perhaps, gather from our foregoing criticism, that we have no care for, nor interest in the heathen; but we can most heartily assure them that this is not the case. The reason why they would thus judge us, would be the same if they applied their judgment to the actions and teachings of Jesus. He went not to the Gentiles (heathen), and commanded the disciples likewise. (`Matt. 10:5`.) He did not cry aloud nor "lift up his voice in the streets," shouting to and exhorting sinners or heathens to beware of eternal torture; neither did any of the apostles.
In his preaching, Jesus said of some, "No man can come unto me except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him." (`John 6:44`.) The disciples he
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taught specially, saying, "Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, but, unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables, that seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand, lest at any time
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they should be converted." (`Mark 4:11,12`.) But when we
RECOGNIZE THE PLAN AND ORDER
revealed in God's word all is clear, beautiful, reasonable and harmonious.
We claim that, as Jesus said, the Gospel in this age is a WITNESS to the world and not designed to now convert all. All must agree with us that if God intended it to be a converting power to the world in this age, his plans have most signally failed, as the above diagram proves. But let us take God's plan as he presents it, viz: to elect or select a church--a "little flock"--who shall be taught, tried, tested, polished and made ready for his service in an age to follow this; when through this spiritual seed of Abraham, all the families of the earth shall be blessed and enlightened. (`Gal. 3:29`.)
How strange it does seem that these dear Christian brethren and sisters who issue the "MUTE APPEAL," and others who seem so zealous and anxious for the salvation of men and the spread of the knowledge of the "only name" as a means to that end, should feel such an opposition to the teaching of the Apostles concerning the coming TIMES OF RESTITUTION of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets.
Can they not see that God's missionary enterprise is much grander and more comprehensive than theirs? Theirs, even if their prayers and desires were to be answered this very year, by the conversion of every living being on earth to the love and service of our Lord; this surely would not answer the cravings of sympathizing, loving hearts, and they would still pray: O, Lord, extend thy mercy and thy love to those in everlasting torment; and they would plead that those billions of the dead far outnumbered the millions of the living.
How strange that they will not allow the Lord to tell them of HIS WAY of carrying on mission work, and how much comfort and peace they lose, and how many burdens they bear, because they have no ear to hear when He speaks through his word.
God's plan is to first select a "Royal Priesthood" during this age and have that priesthood teach and rule and bless the world in the next age.
Now we are just at the threshold of the age of glory. The midnight shadows of the diagram are just beginning to flee before the "Sun of Righteousness," and the printing and scattering of millions of Bibles in the past 87 years is one means toward the great work. In a word, then, these dear friends stand at our side in hope of the spread of truth, the great difference being that they expect to do it in their present weak, humble, mortal condition; and we expect to be glorified and clothed upon with heavenly form and power, as a means to the desired end.
One of the great stumbling blocks which hinders "Orthodoxy's" reception of God's grand missionary plan, of a special age in which the world (including those in their graves) will be taught and blessed by the knowledge and merit of the ransom, is their false idea of what constitutes DEATH. They have accepted Satan's first lie, "Thou shalt not surely die," instead of God's statement that men do die; hence they do all in their power to convince themselves that Satan was the truth-teller, and will not believe that when men die they lose life. They will not believe the Scriptural testimony. (`Rom. 6:23`; `Eccl. 9:10`; `Psa. 6:5`; `Job 14: specially vs. 1,10 and 21`; `2 Tim. 4:8`.) Hence they are forced by their adherence to Satan's theory, to claim that when men die they go to a place of woe or happiness and continue really to live, though they admit they seemed to die.
If they would take God's word simply and lay aside traditions, they would see that all men go to ("sheol," "hades") the condition of death, and that the power is with God to bring them to life again, to bring them up out of their GRAVES. (`Ezek. 37:12`.) Then they would see the reasonableness of death as the penalty of sin and of the RANSOM from it, by the death of our Redeemer, who substituted his life for ours and died the just for the unjust. Thus he bought for all the right to a return to life (resurrection--restitution) when at the hands of the Royal Priesthood it shall be testified to every man that Christ died for ALL. (`1 Tim. 2:6`.)
While God has foretold the gross darkness now covering the world, let none overlook the fact that he also foretells by the same prophet that when the government shall be upon the shoulders of Him called "Wonderful," the rod of the oppressor (Satan) shall be broken, and the people who walked in darkness shall see a GREAT LIGHT. (`Isa. 9:2,4,6`.)
By the same prophet the Lord again says of Christ (head and body), "I will preserve thee and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish (order, rule) the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; that thou mayest say to the prisoners (in death--in hades) Go forth; to them that are in darkness, show yourselves." (Come to the light--the truth.) (`Isa. 49:8,9`.)
Soon it shall be manifested that not in name only, but in deed and in truth, Jesus is "the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." (`John 1:9`.) "And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the Book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness. The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord." (`Isa. 29:18`.) Surely we are now entering "that day," and for it thank God.
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The article in a back issue of the TOWER (Vol. 4, No. 4), entitled "The Ecclesia," furnishes our understanding of what constitutes the Church of Christ and the spirit of love and truth which binds and unites the saints of all ages. But we have inquiries from a number of ministers and others who are coming back from sectarianism to the original and only true church which includes all SANCTIFIED believers in the ransom, asking whether we recognize local organizations such as the Apostles established in every city (`Titus 1:5`), having elders and deacons, etc.; and if we do not have such, Why? Is such organization not as proper now as in the Apostles' days? And if there are no such organizations, how is the work of the ministry and teaching conducted successfully?
We reply, that the circumstances now differ from those of the Apostles' day in that their work was more to organize and lay the foundation for an age of work just beginning, while our work is the reverse almost of this; it is the ending or harvesting of this age; and the methods of then and now might be as different as are the methods of a farmer and the implements he uses in sowing seed and in reaping his harvest.
The methods of Jesus, in harvesting the Jewish age, furnish a better guide to present work. It is with us much as it was with him: His mission was not to bring peace but a sword--division (`Matt. 10:34`.) In some respects, dividing and tearing down are not as agreeable employment as building up; but if we are anxious to do the Master's will we have no other wish, and especially if he has shown us the necessity of the separation in order to the glorifying of the saints and the bringing in through them of an age of blessing to the world in general. Seeing this, harvesting becomes the most enjoyable work in the vineyard.
For the same reasons that Jesus did not organize congregations while present with his disciples in the Jewish harvest, we do not consider expedient or necessary organizations even simple and unsectarian as those established by the Apostles. Our Lord is again present, not again in the "form of a servant," in the flesh, but a spiritual being; and he, being present, is in all things the guide and director of every laborer.
But, though no earthly organization is attempted, yet we are as one--all united to the one head and following the leadings of his Word and Spirit. If we see any among us turn aside and "err from the truth," each other member will feel a loving duty to do what he can to restore such a one to the truth; yet we feel that the further responsibility of disciplining, etc., is with our present Lord, who also will do it. We labor to do his will and leave results to him.
Our ministers, if assembled, would contrast nearly as strongly with those of the nominal "church" as did Jesus' followers at the first advent contrast with the Scribes and Pharisees.
The ministers of the nominal Church seek for and receive the popular approval; and for their labor they have their reward, being abundantly supported and honored. In fact, a young man of talent finds no easier or more direct road to the honors, ease and comforts of life than to enter the ministry of the Nominal Church. But far different is it with those who, for the love of the truth and the glory of God, go forth to declare the whole counsel of God whether men will hear or forbear. These are by no means salaried lords of God's heritage, but, like their Master, they are despised and rejected of men; but they esteem it a privilege to receive the wages of persecution, hardship, and trial of the present time, while joyfully looking forward to the glory to be revealed. They use whatever talents they possess to the best advantage, whether they be many or few.
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Some, through the columns of the "TOWER," are stirring up the gift that is in them; and some, who have the opportunity, travel from place to place preaching by word and printed matter, while others, whose field is not so wide, are thus engaged in their own immediate neighborhood. Few can give all their time directly in the Gospel work: the mass of them, in order to "provide things honest in the sight of all men," are obliged to "labor, working with their hands."
The majority of these ministers [servants] of Christ do their work by searching out the "saints," for whom present truths are meat in due season, and by conversation on these subjects and the loaning of a paper containing some article which they have marked, they endeavor to build them up in the most holy faith, helping them to understand the word of God more perfectly, as did Aquilla and Priscilla with Apollos (`Acts 18:26`), and each doing with his might what his hand finds to do, using whatever talents he possesses, seeks thus to glorify God in body and spirit which are his. It is the mistake of very many Christians, however, and one which all should guard against, to suppose that they are serving the Lord's cause when they are indiscriminately distributing anything which claims to be a religious tract or paper. The careful servant will be judicious and discriminating in this and in everything he undertakes. Such are the simple methods of the majority, and their work, under God's direction, is mighty in the pulling down of strongholds. Here a little and there a little, Babylon and her wall of errors is crumbling before the truth. Another question in connection with this subject is:
WHAT CONSTITUTES "A CALL TO THE MINISTRY?"
All who consecrate are led of the Spirit (if they will follow) into more and more of an appreciation of God's goodness and loving plans; and as they become filled with the spirit of love and see those about them needing the precious truth which they so freely received of God, and which so blessed and helped them, they realize that this very condition of things is a call from God to declare it to them, using their best talents in their heart-work, and letting their light so shine as to glorify their Father in heaven.
Of every member of the anointed body it is true as of the Head--"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto THE MEEK." (`Isa. 61:1`.)
The Master is saying even now to every consecrated one: Go ye also into my vineyard--why stand ye idle? Reading matter for judicious use we will supply free. Sample copies of the TOWER will be sent free to those you think might be interested if you send us their addresses. We consider this one of the means in our hands for spreading the good news.
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WHERE DID MOSES GET THAT LAW?
An infidel, wishing to examine into the truth of the Christian religion, inquired of an elder of the Presbyterian church as follows: "What books, sir, would you advise me to read?" "The Bible," said the elder. "I believe you do not understand me," resumed the unbeliever, surprised in his turn; "I wish to investigate the truth of the Bible." "I would advise you, sir," repeated the elder, "to read the Bible; and," he continued, "I will give you my reasons: Most infidels are very ignorant of the Scriptures. Now, to reason on any subject with correctness, we must understand what it is, about which we reason. In the next place, I consider the internal evidence of the truth of the Scriptures stronger than the external." "And where shall I begin?" inquired the unbeliever, "at the New Testament?" "No," said the elder, "at the beginning--at Genesis."
One evening the elder called and found the unbeliever at his house or office, walking the room, with a dejected look, his mind apparently absorbed in thought. He continued, not noticing that any one had come in, busily to trace and retrace his steps. The elder at length spoke: "You seem, sir," said he, "to be in a brown study; of what are you thinking?" "I have been reading," replied the infidel, "the moral law." "Well, what do you think of it?" asked the elder. "I will tell you what I used to think," answered the infidel. "I supposed that Moses was the leader of a horde of banditti; that, having a strong mind, he acquired great influence over a superstitious people; and that on Mount Sinai he played off some sort of fireworks, to the amazement of his ignorant followers, who imagined, in their mingled fear and superstition, that the exhibition was supernatural." "But what do you think now?" interposed the elder. "I have been looking," said the infidel, "into the nature of that law. I have been trying to see whether I can add anything to it, or take anything from it, so as to make it better. Sir, I cannot. It is perfect."
"I have been thinking," he proceeded "where did Moses get that law? I have read history; the Egyptians and the adjacent nations were idolaters; so were the Greeks and Romans; and the wisest and best Greeks or Romans never gave a code of morals like this. Where did Moses get this law, which surpasses the wisdom and philosophy of the most enlightened ages? He lived at a period comparatively barbarous; but he has given a law in which the learning and sagacity of all subsequent time can detect no flaw. Where did he get it? He could not have soared so far above his age as to have devised it himself. I am satisfied where he obtained it. It came down from Heaven. I am convinced of the truth of the religion of the Bible."--Selected.
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IMMOVABLE FOR CHRIST.
The old Lollards were called "Holdfasts," not only because of their firmness under persecution, but of their strong grasp of the truth. Coleridge said, with a practical aptness unusual with him: "What does not withstand has no standing-ground." "Hold fast, then, the form of sound words, in faith and love, which is in Christ Jesus." Be modest, unostentatious in all that is your own, willing to concede everything you have a right to yield, but be scrupulous and immovable about all that is Christ's.--Selected.
SINCE three cent stamps are less useful than formerly, if you have more on hand than you know how to use otherwise, we will accept such during this month in payment of subscriptions.
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HOW TO LIVE.
He liveth long who liveth well!
All other life is short and vain;
He liveth longest, who can tell
Of living most for heavenly gain.
He liveth long who liveth well!
All else is being thrown away;
He liveth longest who can tell
Of true things truly done each day.
Waste not thy being; back to Him
Who freely gave it, freely give;
Else is that being but a dream:
'Tis but to be, and not to live.
Be what thou seemest! live thy creed!
Hold up to earth the torch divine;
Be what thou prayest to be made,
Let the great Master's steps be thine.
Fill up each hour with what will last;
Buy up the moments as they go;
The life above, when this is past,
Is the ripe food of life below.
Sow truth, if thou the truth wouldst reap;
Sow peace, and reap its harvest bright;
Erect and sound thy conscience keep;
From hollow words and deeds refrain.
Sow love, and taste its fruitage pure;
Sow peace, and reap its harvests bright;
Sow sunbeams on the rock and moor,
And reap a harvest home of light.
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Webster defines sect to mean "A part cut off," "Hence a body of persons who have separated from others by virtue of some special doctrine, or set of doctrines, which they hold in common."
Since we hold to a set of doctrines delivered to the saints by Jesus and the Apostles, and since we separate and cut ourselves off from all other religious jurisdiction and control, therefore it follows that we are a SECT. We "separate from sinners" and "have no
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fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness." (`Eph. 5:11`; `2 Cor. 6:17`). Because there is no concord between Christ and Satan, nor between a believer in Christ and an unbeliever in his ransom and Lordship, therefore we obey the Lord's command, "Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." (`2 Cor. 6:17,18`).
In doctrine we hold firmly to the glad tidings preached by Jesus and explained by the Apostles, and will receive none other, even though it should be delivered by an angel from heaven. It is briefly stated by Paul thus: "I delivered unto you first of all, that which I also received [first of all], how that Christ died for OUR SINS according to the Scriptures." (`1 Cor. 15:3`). This is the basis; and built upon it, is our realization that we are justified and cleansed from all sin in God's sight, by his offering or sin-sacrifice who "died the just for the unjust." Realizing this, "we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins." (`Eph. 1:7`). All who accept of their share in this atoning sacrifice are properly termed Christians.
This was the faith of the early church. True, they progressed beyond these first principles to the use of the "strong meat," and to a comprehension, with all saints, of the deep things of God; but the "babes in Christ," and those "who, by reason of use, had their senses exercised," were all one family--"all one in Christ Jesus." The more advanced in grace and doctrine bore the infirmities of the weak, each and all seeking to grow in grace and knowledge more and more. Where this apostolic rule was observed there could be no sect, no division in the body. It was only when error began to develop in the congregations that Paul wrote to some: I hear that there are divisions (sects) among you, and I partly believe it; for it is evident from what I learn of the worldliness and error coming in among you, that there would of necessity be divisions; for those true to the Lord could not have fellowship with such unfruitful works of darkness, but must rather reprove them. (`1 Cor. 11:18,19`).
But while divisions were objected to in the true church, while all the apostles taught that there was one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one body-- church of Christ--yet this church was a sect itself--a split off from the Jewish church--which was cast off and left desolate, and it was also separated from the world. It was "the sect everywhere spoken against." (`Acts 28:22`). Thus, we see, that Christians are a sect or separated class--separate from the world--separate from sinners--separate from all others, in that they accept of Jesus, and salvation through his blood. But there should be no schism or division of this sect; all who are of it should be one. There is one fold and one Shepherd. (`1 Cor. 12:25`).
It is not remarkable that Satan should seek to divide and separate the sheep and to put up fences, such as the denominational creeds prove to be, which would hinder some of the sheep from following the Shepherd into green pastures of fresh and living truth. This would be but wisdom on his part. But it is strange that he should be able to fetter the reason of so many, that they should think it a mark of spirituality to say, I am of Luther, a Lutheran; I of Calvin and Knox, a Presbyterian; I of Wesley, a Methodist, and so on; while Paul, on the contrary, to some of his day, who were in danger of this spirit of sectarianism, said: While one saith, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Peter, are ye not carnal? Is it not in direct opposition to the spirit of Christ to think or act thus? "Is Christ divided?" Did Paul or Peter or Knox or Calvin or Wesley or anyone else than Christ die for your sins and redeem you? They, as servants of Christ and the church, should be esteemed very highly for their works' sake, but to name the Bride after any other than the Bridegroom is manifestly improper.
Oh, that all could see that in God's sight there is but one church--whose names are written in heaven--and that God cannot and does not sympathize with or recognize any split in the real church. He does not recognize the narrow creeds in which so many of the sheep are confined and starving. As we have shown, he has placed but one fence around his fold. Inside of it there is plenty of room, both for the lambs and the fully matured sheep of Christ, to feed and grow continually.
Fix in your mind a picture of a fine large pasture surrounded by a strong and high fence--the Law of God-- which surrounds and keeps all the sheep within, but which recognizes no means of access to that fold--justified condition--except Christ, the door, faith in whose sacrifice for sin is the only way into the fold. All climbing into the fold by any other way are thieves and robbers. This is the pasture provided by the Good Shepherd for his sheep, for whom he once laid down his life. Into the true fold of Christ quite a flock of sheep have entered. They belong to the true Shepherd; but as we look before us at the grassy slopes, only a few sheep, a little flock indeed, seem to be enjoying the liberty of the fold--the liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free. Where are the others? We look and see inside the door, on either side of the pathway, small enclosures. Over each is written its peculiar name--Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Second Adventist, Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, Episcopalian, Lutheran, etc. Looking at these pens we find them to differ. Some are built like prisons with iron frames and bars and chains, others less strong, and some are merely marked out "dead lines" over which the sheep understand that they must not go.
These pens are full of sheep, but they are weak, delicate and sickly for lack of proper exercise and fresh, nourishing food. They are regularly fed, but only upon husks, with occasionally a little milk, but they eat without relish and get no good from it. Many of them are leaner and poorer than when first they entered the fold, and some have become blind. Strange to say all seem to be perfectly satisfied, each with his own pen, and very seldom does one attempt to escape.
Perplexed to know why these should thus submit to be penned, we watched to see how they were induced to enter the various enclosures. As the sheep entered by faith the fold of Christ through the only door, under-shepherds who had been appointed to help the sheep to find and appreciate the pastures of the entire fold, had conceived that they knew better than the Chief Shepherd how to manage the flock, and accordingly they had constructed these various pens. Each class stood at the door of his own, and as the new sheep came in, they tried to impress upon each, both by manner and voice, first of all the necessity of getting into some of the many pens; and secondly, each one tried to show the superiority of the one he represented. As a consequence, nearly all the sheep which entered got penned, and only a few passed on to enjoy all the liberty of the fold. The under-shepherds sought continually to impress upon their sheep that the free sheep were heretics and en route to destruction.
We watched to see what would be the end of this matter, for we learned that the Chief Shepherd was expected by some, and we knew that his coming would soon demonstrate whether he approved of this dividing and imprisoning His flock. The under-shepherds mostly claimed that he would not come for a long time yet.
Presently among the free sheep we heard great rejoicing. We looked and found that the Chief-shepherd had come quietly, unobservedly ("as a thief"), and was now recognized by some of the sheep, and hence the rejoicing. Some of those imprisoned heard the Shepherd's voice; they looked and listened, yet could scarce believe. It was indeed, the voice of the shepherd as he tended and ordered his flock. All who were his true sheep seemed to hear his voice condemning the penning process and saying unto his sheep: "Come out, my people."
Some leaped the fences and gained liberty and food from the Shepherd's hand. But some were so weak and faint for lack of nourishment that they trembled with fear and dreaded the under-shepherds too much to come out. We noticed outside the fences that some of the free sheep brought food to the bars, and thus some of the weak ones were strengthened and then came out. The under-shepherds, meanwhile, were alert with redoubled vigilance, and by varying policies sought to keep the control of their (?) flocks. Some denounced and scoffed at those without, and threatened the sheep within; and others redoubled the customary exercises, the "forms of godliness."
We waited to see the outcome, and saw the unfaithful under-shepherds bound and beaten with stripes, the prison pens all destroyed, and the fold used as designed --the flock one, its name one, and its head Christ Jesus.
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"LEARN WHAT THIS MEANETH."
"Go ye and learn what this meaneth, I desire mercy and not sacrifice."--`Matt. 9:13`--R.V.
This injunction is just as pertinent now as it was when Jesus gave it, yet we cannot but think, according to our experience and observation, that if he were to make the same remark now to those who, "after the most straitest sect" of their religion, live Pharisees, it would be met by some such words as the following: "Why, Lord, do you ask us to learn the meaning of those old sayings of the prophets? They are expressed in language that is highly figurative and are so full of symbols
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and metaphors that it is impossible for us to understand them; indeed we think we ought not to pry into such things."
But this was an important lesson, and Jesus wished to call their attention to it. His friendship with publicans and sinners seemed to them to be out of order and so they were questioning the disciples, doubtfully, regarding it, and this called forth the statement of Jesus quoted above.
It is doubtful if they ever learned that God's work in Christ was not to sacrifice the world, but to save it, for, says Jesus, "The Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." (`Luke 9:56`). When Christ Jesus speaks we may see at the time but one phase of what is meant, while he causes the word spoken to span the everlasting relations of the subject.
When Jesus, in `Matt. 12:7`, referred to these same words of the prophet (`Hosea 6:6`), he did so in connection with the question of the observance of the Sabbath, saying, "If ye had known what this meaneth, I desire mercy and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless." This was equivalent to saying that they did not know its meaning. Then, rather peculiarly comes in the words, "For the Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath."
In both these cases it was the lovingkindness of Jesus that disturbed their pharisaical natures and called forth their opposition. It is the mercy of God in Christ toward the world that distressed the Pharisees of Jesus' time, and distresses the same generation now; for "this generation" of vipers (this kind or class) has not yet passed away and will not have passed away until all the prophecy of the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew is fulfilled. (`Matt. 24:34`).
Those who are not in spirit with Christ Jesus have ever been opposed to having mercy shown to the world in a limited way and time, professing to believe that Christ came to save the world, but yet that only a small proportion of them will be saved in any sense; that Jesus came to save men from the calamity which befel the race in Adam, but will only half, or not half, succeed.
They think that when men die in Adam they pass a line beyond which mercy and the power of Christ to save, cannot go, thus limiting the wisdom and the power of God, "who will have all men to be saved and come to the KNOWLEDGE of the truth." (`1 Tim. 2:4`).
It is "a thing incredible" with them that God should raise the dead, though they profess to believe in a "resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust," but still if one talks about the real resurrection of all men to actual life and hope again, "this generation," like their fathers who so beset Jesus, cry out in disgust, and act as though they thought of us as they did of Paul when he spoke of being sent "far hence unto the Gentiles," "away with such a fellow from the earth, for it is not fit that he should live." (`Acts 22:22`.)
How strange it seems to us, that the love of God so strikingly manifest in the gift of his Son, should be so buried up under papal rubbish as to make it seem to have no existence.
That the restitution of all things, spoken of by the mouth of all the holy prophets," should be entirely dropped out of the teaching of the nominal church, and the destruction of most things substituted, shows the need of their "learning what this meaneth, I desire mercy and not sacrifice: for the Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath." But it also shows, as Jesus said, that these things are hid from the wise and prudent and revealed unto babes. In the Sabbath just now approaching, that mercy will shine forth in "the exceeding riches of his grace." But many do not wish to "learn what this meaneth." How full of meaning were Jesus' words! J. C. S.
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Some whose attention is drawn to the clearer light now shining on the word of God, fear as they say, to leave old landmarks. This is a false veneration, bred of fear, and it requires only a moments reflection to show this.
We asked such an objector, recently, how much he meant by old. Did he mean creeds formulated fifty years ago? Would he go further back to the Wesleyan movement? Even that is but recent. Perhaps he had better go further back to the "Presbyterian" movement, or to the "Lutheran" or "Episcopalian," to find old landmarks. Still there is the same difficulty. All of these are but comparatively recent landmarks, and if a really old creed is wanted, the Roman Catholic certainly should have the preference on the score of age.
He saw, finally, his mistake and acknowledged
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that he had been looking at matters from a false standpoint, and that the only OLD LANDMARKS worthy of confidence, are the inspired teachings of our Lord and the Apostles--the very ones to which we always appeal as the only True Standards of the Church whose names are written in heaven.
In this connection we take occasion to make some extracts from a recent number of "The Scotsman" (published in Edinburgh, Scotland,) in which it reviews a lecture by Dr. A. F. Mitchell, Prof. of Ecclesiastical History. It serves well to show how the thinkers of even old, slow Scotland are awakening to the absurdity of some of the doctrines which have separated the children of God into sects and denominations, and have largely succeeded in substituting the creeds and traditions of men for the Word of God. The extracts are as follows:
"THE WESTMINSTER ASSEMBLY; ITS HISTORY AND STANDARDS: BEING THE BAIRD LECTURES FOR 1882.
Readers will find in Dr. Mitchell's lectures an intelligent and exceedingly well informed account of the origin, purpose, history and results of the famous Westminster Assembly, by one who has made a special study of the subject.
The intrinsic importance of the Westminster Confession, and its position as a test for our University Theological Chairs, cause us just now to turn with more interest and curiosity to its origin and authorship. In June, 1643, an ordinance was issued by Parliament calling that Assembly which met to settle a pure faith for England and framed those Standards which were adopted in Scotland. The principle on which representative divines were chosen was, that two should be elected from each English county, each University, and the Channel Islands, one for each county in Wales, and four for the city of London; while Scottish Commissioners were only invited to be present. In all, about 160 divines and laymen were appointed, each member who attended receiving four shillings a day for expenses. Although in the list of those called we find a few names of reputation for learning and ability, it is impossible to say that they represented the best scholarship and most cultured views of the age. We miss in the roll several men, famous still for ripe learning, high theological attainments and grasp of intellect, who would have been fittest to join in this memorable Synod, though they would have opposed many of its decisions; while in the number are a host of estimable but utterly obscure men, whose support gives no weight and adds no value to one dogmatic conclusion of the meeting.
It is evident that the orthodox see nothing absurd, nothing humorous in the opinions of these men being binding on after generations of clergy and all future theological Professors in our universities, centuries after these respectable gentlemen themselves, having quitted their fleshy tabernacles, have peradventure discovered, to their surprise, in another and better world, that they have been quite mistaken, and the General Assembly of the firstborn does not hold or enforce any Calvinistic creeds on its elect members. Even when they were deliberating on most weighty articles, the attendance was so small that the three committees were reduced to a quorum of six each; and we find in full Assembly only forty out of a hundred and fifty voting on a dogma, which has henceforth been imposed on the minds and consciences of millions of Presbyterians. Yet these worthy members confidently discover the hidden decrees of God and decide the fate of men, of angels, of devils and of infants: they interpret the most debatable parts of Scripture, and the most perplexing parts of Pauline dialects and simile; they formulate the most mysterious purposes of Providence.
It is marvelous to think that these decisions by men whose opinions on the simplest points of politics, agriculture and physics, we would not listen to, should be binding on the nineteenth century, though the whole tide of thought has left them dry behind. Criticism has shown that it supports conclusions on corrupt texts, and on misinterpreted passages. Science has proved that it makes assertions which are profoundly erroneous. Advancing civilizations and higher cultivation have shown that its views of the purpose of God can be contrary to the true humanity on which we base our elementary ideas of the nature of the Deity. If the Assembly, whose views were discarded by the English Church a few years after, had been held a hundred years earlier, it would have been Roman Catholic; if it had been held fifty years later it would have been Arminian; what, then, gives perpetual authority in Scotland to this Calvinistic parenthesis in ecclesiastical history and doctrine? It is difficult to see why the theological views of the seventeenth century should be taught in our university chairs any more than the scientific opinions of that age.
Suppose it had been laid down that every Professor of Medicine and Surgery
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in future should conform to the standard of an association of doctors of 1643, we should find them now teaching the most ghastly methods of therapeutics, insisting on drugs which ruin the carnal constitution, and practicing phlebotomy, which drains the human being of his blood, increasing insanity by the means taken to cure it, and denouncing the circulation of the blood as a flagrant heresy. If, in our Chairs of science, the opinions of the Royal Society, founded in 1660, were still binding we should find in natural philosophy, in geology, in chemistry, opinions taught, as in Roman Catholic institutions, as purest science and undoubted facts, which research has exploded and sent long ago into the limbo of extinct notions and curiosities of by-gone credulity and ignorance. Why, then, should the notions, on far more difficult, obsolete points, by this Assembly, be held as sacred and imperative, and entitled to hold the minds of posterity under the fatal law of intellectual mortmain?
Still, must each Professor teach, under the yoke of their "dead hand," the inspiriting doctrine of total depravity, which holds that man is so corrupt that he can do no good thing, and yet that he will be damned if he does not do it; that he deserves eternal torments for sin; that millions are doomed for not accepting a gospel which they never heard; that it is the duty of the civil power to punish and extirpate heresy; that the world was made in six days, although the geological Professor in the same college will tell his students that the world was millions of years without a human being. That it is the "elect infants" only who are saved; that "God as a righteous judge doth blind and harden" the wicked. Such doctrines are denied by the vast majority of civilized people, and discarded by the highest, clearest minds and hearts in Christendom; yet still Professors of Theology are bound by these standards, are forced to shut their eyes and mouths to all that speculation, learning, science have taught for centuries, and are endowed by the State to teach the opinions of a few estimable but erroneous gentlemen, who, after much prayer and contention, agreed upon them more than two hundred years ago.
Dr. Mitchell, whose views are interesting only as specimens of other admirers of the Confession of Faith, is not unconscious of some difficulties in maintaining some dogmas which are contrary to fact, science and humanity; and he has his "answers to objections," which he gives with an air of profound satisfaction and with complete unsuccess. The Confession says the creation of the world took place in six days, "which now almost all orthodox divines grant it did not." We therefore naturally conclude that these "orthodox divines," as regards the Confession, are heretics. Not at all, says Dr. Mitchell, who is in the same case; these words, he argues, are almost identical with those in Scripture, and therefore must be interpreted in the same non-literal, non-natural sense, as divines conveniently, but uncritically, put on those in Genesis. Now, can the lecturer deny that the Westminster Assembly meant them as six literal twenty-four hour days? Can the lecturer deny that these words are given as the statement of an historical fact, and are not a quotation which may be accepted as metaphorical or poetic, if we please? It is nothing to the point to show that some writers--Dean Colet or Philo--had previously regarded the "days" in a figurative sense; and it is ridiculous to say that the Assembly showed their intention not to exclude such a fanciful interpretation because they did not write "six natural or literal days."
If we are allowed to treat the standards when we choose as metaphorical, on the ground that the Scripture passages they paraphrase are figurative, we shall be led into a delightful chaos, and have a most comprehensive Church. The phrase, "Son of God" is figurative; "redemption" is a Pauline metaphor from Greek law; "adoption" a metaphor from Roman law; "everlasting" and "eternal" punishment have been interpreted in various ways in Scripture; may we, therefore, explain them for ourselves with corresponding variety in the Confession? and if not, on Dr. Mitchell's theory, why not? What is allowed to the Calvinist may be allowed to the Universalist and the Unitarian.
But, in fact, the whole notion is absurd. The Standard is a formal, prosaic, legal document, to be interpreted by what it says. The lecturer, further, in argumentive despair maintains that when it is said, "elect infants dying in infancy are saved," it is not to be inferred from these words that there are any who are not elect! If so, we would have fancied these divines, so shrewd as not to say "literal days," would have been equally shrewd to omit "elect," in order to prevent a misconception, seeing that the opinion was so prevalent that there were infants non-elect, and therefore lost. Besides, this notion that all dying infants were humanely elected to life because they should die before they have power and time to sin, is contradictory of the article in the Confession, which says that when God elects to salvation it is without any foresight of good works,... or any other thing in the creature, as conditions or causes moving him thereto." We greatly fear that Dr. Mitchell should be looked after. If he had lived in the Puritan age, he would have been violently denounced as a heretic, denied Church privileges by the ministers he reveres so deeply, or put in jail by the civil magistrate whose authority he respects so highly, and reduced to be an "ambassador in bonds."
How is it that with so many disputable and denied doctrines in a Standard containing about 16,000 propositions, that in successive generations ministers accept and sign it without any hesitation, though ordinary men cannot agree together on twelve questions? It is a curious problem which we can only explain by supposing that perfect belief is required only when we swear to one or two articles, but that a reduction is allowed, as by grocers, on taking a quantity. Dr. Mitchell has issued a useful work, proving the urgent necessity for the abolition of tests in our Universities if we desire to see freedom of thought, honesty of assertion, and progress of religious opinion and theological knowledge.
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The restoration of the world to their "former estate" (life on earth) is a doctrine held by few Christians to-day through lack of seeing the glorious "plan" of salvation" God has revealed to us in his word. When once you get hold of restitution as a starting-point, you will soon find that God has a "plan", and diligent study of Scripture will open your eyes to see God's love and wisdom, if you will only believe what God says, and not "human traditions." "Seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."
We read in `Acts 3:21` of the times (years) of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. And in `Rom. 8:21`, "The creature itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." Yes; the man Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom for all (`1 Tim. 2:6`). By the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life" (`Rom. 5:18`). "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (`1 Cor. 15:22`.)
All praise be to God, Christ has bought the "world," and in due time will deliver them all from the prison-house of death, for he says, I have the keys of hades and of death (`Rev. 1:18`.) But every man in his own order: Christ (the first-born from the dead,) the Head, then his body--the Church--after the Church has been glorified--the "world"--to their "former estate." For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God (`Rom. 8:19`). Waiting and groaning (though ignorantly) for the Son of Righteousness to arise with healing in his wings. Then the promise to Abraham will be fulfilled: "In thee and in thy seed (The Christ) shall all the families of the earth be blessed." (`Gen. 28:14`.)
Let us look at what the Prophets say about this glorious day (one thousand years.) Please read carefully the following: `Ps. 96:10-13`; `Isa. 11:1-10`; `61:4-11`; `65:17-25`; `Jer. 31:31-40`; `Ezek. 16:48 to end`; `28:25 and 26`; `34:24-31`; `Hos. 2:14-23`; `Rev. 21:3-5`. After the world has been restored to their "former estate" under the righteous reign of "The Christ," it will be their "Judgment Day" (before the great "White Throne" of Truth), on trial for Eternal Life, having had a complete experience of good and evil in this present age, and then having full knowledge and power to obey. If they then willfully sin, they will die the second death--die for their own sin. (`Jer. 31:30`; `Acts 3:23`; `Rev. 21:8`.)
Truly we who see God's plan can sing, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of nations. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: For all nations shall come and worship before thee--for thy judgments are made manifest. Amen. Thy Kingdom come. (`Rev. 15:3 and 4`.)
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HIS WILL, OUR MEAT AND DRINK.
The language of very many grateful hearts, who have realized their sins forgiven through the precious blood of Christ, has been, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. But very few, perhaps none at first, actually realized the full meaning of that covenant or promise; nevertheless the Master declares, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out." (`John 6:37`). But he would have us understand that it is no easy thing to follow him, for his was a thorny, difficult way, promising no gratification to the natural man.
When on one occasion one came to Jesus, saying, "Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest," he replied: "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." (`Luke 9:57,58`.) That is to say, Are you willing, if need be, to be thus homeless and comfortless that thereby you may render greater service to our heavenly Father. It is my meat and drink to do his will. Shall it be yours also? It might be and sometimes is the case, that some can serve the Lord better by having a home and using its hospitality in the service. When, as was generally the case, the work in which Jesus was engaged called him about from place to place to preach in public, heal the sick, etc., he went, regardless of personal comfort. When near the homes of his disciples he often tarried with them; thus the home of Martha and Mary and Lazarus was often blessed with his presence; but most frequently after the toil of the day he sought repose for the night in the wilderness or on the mountains. Sometimes, however, when the interests of the work required it, he chose a regular dwelling place, for we read (`John 1:38,39`) that on one occasion two men were following Jesus, and
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he, turning and seeing them follow him, said to them, "What seek ye?" And they said unto him, Master, "Where dwellest thou?" They wanted to have a personal interview with him, and therefore sought the retirement of his dwelling. Jesus said unto them, "Come and see. They went and saw where he dwelt and abode with him that day."
We find the same principle governing the actions of the Apostles. As the work generally required them to be traveling, they not only gave up the comforts, but bravely endured the hardships, dangers and fierce persecutions that everywhere awaited them. At times now it might be expedient for the truths' sake that the disciple have a home, as Paul found it expedient for the work, to abide in his own hired house for two years, where he received all that came unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, etc. (`Acts 28:30`). It should likewise, be our meat and drink to do our Father's will, as the necessities of the work may require it, homeless and friendless, to follow Jesus; or, if expedient to have a dwelling place, to use it in his service, having it entirely consecrated to his work.
Another desiring to follow Jesus, even though, as he had just explained, it would be at the expense of great self-denial, said, "But suffer me first to go and bury my father." And "Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead, but go thou and preach the kingdom of God." Doubtless this young disciple dreaded to realize what was so generally the result with those who left all to follow Jesus, that their foes were they of their own household. He dreaded to incur his father's displeasure and
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thought to wait till his father was dead. Possibly his otherwise praiseworthy ambition was to add to the comfort and perhaps to the support and luxury of his declining years.
Such an ambition would seem plausible and has proved a snare to many. They have permitted earthly ties to fetter and hinder them, saying, my family or my parents--those dear to me by human ties--shall have all the comfort, ease and luxury that my time and labor can supply. This has been my ambition in the past, and should I now withhold any part of that which they have come to expect at my hand, in order that I might follow the Master, my motive, my love would be misinterpreted.
Under this pressure, many come to the conclusion that they will wait until these hindrances are removed, until such no longer need their care; but this is only a device of the adversary, who well knows that procrastination is not only the thief of time, but also of interest and inclination to heavenly things. Now, while our Lord would not have us ignore our natural responsibilities, and teaches that he who does not provide for those naturally dependent upon him is worse than an infidel, an unbeliever, he does teach that our consecration should be to God, and whatever of human responsibility devolves upon us should be discharged as unto him.
Thus, in all we do, whether it be in "providing things honest in the sight of all men" for those of necessity depending upon us, and thus honoring our Master, and improving every available opportunity which, by economy of time and means, may be gained for spreading the good news--the Gospel of the Kingdom; or whether it be possible, by self-denial, to gain all our time, and utilize all our efforts in directly and widely proclaiming the Gospel, if we would follow our Lord it will be our meat and drink to do our Father's will. "Let the dead bury their dead." All the world is reckoned of God as dead, being still under condemnation. Let them attend to their own affairs, work out their own ideas and think what they will of our peculiar ways. We must expect to be misunderstood, misrepresented, and to bear the reproach of Christ. But don't let that hinder us; it is our business to preach the gospel by every talent and opportunity we can command.
"Another also said, Lord, I will follow thee, but let me first go and bid them farewell which are at home at my house. But Jesus said, No man having put his hand to the plough and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God." This one, though also desiring to follow Jesus, cast a lingering look behind to the things and friends once dearest. He thought he was willing to sacrifice earthly comforts and endure hardness as a good soldier; he did not desire to procrastinate and not begin to follow Jesus until his Father was dead, or the prejudices of his earthly friends were overcome. No; he only wanted to bid them farewell, to confer with them, and to gain their approval of his course. To follow Jesus was not yet the chief and all-absorbing thought.
Jesus does not say it will be impossible for such a one to reach the kingdom, but that in that condition of mind he is unfit. And the strong probabilities are, that unless such a one takes a prompt, firm and decided stand, turning his back entirely to present allurements, and setting his face resolutely towards the prize of the high calling, he will soon become permanently unfit for the kingdom.
May those who have consecrated all, and thus put their hand to the plough, be enabled to keep their eye on the heavenly prize, that its glory may keep them from looking back, and that the fascination of former human ties may not hold them in bondage. Like our Lord, may it be our meat and drink to do Jehovah's will. MRS. C. T. R.
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"SALVATION UNTO THE END OF THE EARTH."
Before leaving his disciples our Lord said, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth"...and will show you things to come;...he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you." (`John 16:12-14`.)
After his death and resurrection, when the waiting Church were baptized with the Spirit, at once the things which the prophets had written and which they had hitherto been unable to understand, began to be made plain to them.
Peter did the opening work and called attention to the glad tidings as shown by the Prophets. He first quoted the prophecy of Joel (`chap. 2:28,29`) concerning the promise of the outpouring of the Spirit upon God's servants and handmaids and upon all flesh. His next reference was to David's prophecy of our Lord's exaltation. And the Spirit calling to mind the glowing language of the various Prophets, he boldly proclaimed the restitution of all things, declaring that it was "spoken by all the holy prophets since the world began" (`Acts 3:21`).
This was the work of the Spirit as the comforter, bringing to their remembrance the statements of the prophets, and revealing the significance of those statements, thus instructing and comforting them by showing them things to come. We would naturally expect that joy would fill all hearts at the sound of such blessed tidings; but it was not so. The religious teachers of that day were grieved at this teaching and sought to silence them, but Peter and John, being filled with the Spirit, replied: "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye: for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard"--what we know of God's plan.
We find exactly the same condition of things to-day. While those who are filled with the Spirit rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, the lukewarm professors turn a deaf ear to the truth and are grieved that the people are being taught these things.
Since Peter has called our attention to all the prophets as heralds of the good news, we have been noticing particularly some of those uttered by Isaiah. Some will reluctantly admit that some time in the distant future there will be a restoration of Israel to their own land--that is, of all those living in that day; but for what purpose or advantage, either to themselves or
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others, they seem to have no idea. But Isaiah makes it very plain that the great restitution refers to nothing so insignificant. In the `following text` Jehovah is addressing our Lord Jesus, saying, that to raise up or restore Israel is "a light thing," only a small part of the work. The restitution spoken by the mouth of all the prophets since the world began, means "salvation unto the end of the earth." "And now, said Jehovah, it hath been a light thing that thou art to me for a servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and the preserved of Israel to bring back; and I have given thee for a light of nations, to be my salvation unto the end of the earth" (`Isa. 49:6`-- Young).
This implies a resurrection--restitution --of all the living and dead ones as Peter preached. In the light of this declaration from the mouth of Jehovah himself--that Christ shall be for salvation to the end of the earth--we read in `Isa. 35` the glowing description of that time, now near at hand, when "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them." "They (earth's redeemed millions) shall see the glory of the Lord and the excellency of our God," then made so manifest to all. In `chap. 26, verse 19`, God emphatically declares: "Thy dead men shall live...Awake and sing ye that dwell in dust...and the earth shall cast out the dead." And Jeremiah adds his testimony, saying: "They shall come again from the land of the enemy" --death (`Jer. 31:16`). Such tidings seem almost too good to believe, but the Lord reminds us that it is He who has declared this, saying: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts [plans] than your thoughts [plans]....For ye shall go out [of the prison of death] with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands" (`Isa. 55:8-12`).
Those whose faith staggers not at the promises of God, are commissioned to encourage those of weaker faith (`Isa. 35:3,4`): "Strengthen ye the weak hands and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold your God will come with vengeance (to bind the adversary--Satan--and destroy his works--`Rev. 20:2`; `1 John 3:8`), even God with a recompence; he will come and save you." `Verse 5`: "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped," for "The knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth as the waters cover the sea" (`Isa. 11:9`), and all will be able to see and hear the truth. Streams of water (truth) shall break forth in the desert, "And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water. In the habitation of dragons where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes." When, under the reign of Christ, truth shall thus refresh the earth, error and vice (symbolized by dragons) shall give place to the rapid and healthy growth of virtue.
`Verses 8 to 10` show the particularly favorable circumstances under which the world, during the next age, will be disciplined and restored. The way by which they will be led back to human perfection, is here called a high way, not a narrow way, such as that in which the consecrated of this age walk to gain the prize of the high calling to immortality, the Divine nature. We who are running for this prize find ourselves hedged about continually and sorely pressed by the adversary who, during the next age, will be bound. The easy and gradual ascent of the high way will be clear and plain to all, so that "the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein," for all the stones--stumbling blocks-- shall be gathered out (`Isa. 62:10`). Present temptations to evil will be removed when Satan is bound and men will be saying, Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths (`Isa. 2:3`).
The work of restitution will be a gradual work, the awakening from death being only the beginning of it; it will require the whole thousand years to fully complete it. Those years are therefore called "the times (years) of restitution" (`Acts 3:21`). Only those who flee from the defilements of sin shall go on this high way of everlasting continuance of life. `Verse 9`: "No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon; it shall not be found there." All obstacles to growth and development of perfect manhood shall be removed, but the redeemed --all mankind ransomed from death by the precious blood of Christ-- shall walk up to perfection if willing to forsake their sins.
`Verse 10`: "And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." When we realize that this salvation extends to all the families of the earth, we see the force of Jehovah's statement: "It hath been a light thing that thou art to me for a servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and the preserved of Israel to bring back." Not only shall that work be accomplished, but, in addition to that, Christ is also given for a light to all nations, and for "salvation to the end of the earth." R. W.
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THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.
A correspondent writes: I understand you teach obedience to the commandments of God. Do you wish us to understand the Ten Commandments written on stone, delivered to Moses at Horeb?
We reply, No; we are not under the law of commandments written on stone, in the sense of hoping to justify ourselves before God in keeping them. Israel's experience when they were put under that Law is sufficient to prove to us, as Paul expresses, that, "By the deeds of the Law shall no flesh be justified in God's sight." (`Rom. 3:20`.) Hence we are very glad that we are "not under the Law, but under Grace" --favor. (`Rom. 6:14`; `11:6`; `Gal. 5:4`; `Rom. 3:19-26`.) We are glad that the Gentiles were never put under that Law as the Israelites were, for in man's present imperfect condition it must and does condemn every one under it and justifies none. We are glad for Israel too, that when Christ Jesus died and thus fulfilled the claims of the Law against all under it, that he thus became "the end of the Law for righteousness (or rightly terminated its dominion) to every one that believeth." (`Rom. 10:4`, and `Gal. 3:23,24`.)
But lest some should claim that these scriptures quoted, refer to what some designate the "ceremonial" law, we will give Scripture proof that it included the laws written on tables of stone--the Ten Commandments. These were given at Horeb or Mt. Sinai. (See `Exod. 19:20 and 34`) and are termed the "covenant" of the Law. (See `Deut. 5`.) Paul tells us that that covenant justified only Jesus, who, by his sacrifice, justified believers, bringing them under a new covenant, not of law, but of favor, by his blood, and, being thus justified, enables us [the Gospel Church] to inherit the first covenant--the one made to Abraham's seed--which Paul declares the Law (covenant), made four hundred and thirty years after (at Sinai), did not disannul, but merely hindered until removed and fulfilled by Jesus. (See `Gal. 3:17-19`.)
`Romans 7:7` proves that the Ten Commandments were part of the Law, which Paul in the `preceding verse` and the entire chapter shows that we are delivered from. There can be no question that THE LAW which said, "Thou shalt not covet," is that contained in the Ten Commandments, and this is the very law which Christ made Paul free from--by fulfilling its claims for him. (See `Rom. 8:1-4`.)
"Do we then make the Law of God of none effect [useless] through [the doctrine of] faith, [which we are now preaching]? Nay, "we establish the Law." (`Rom. 3:31`.) First, we are proving that God's law is nothing short
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of perfection, and that none but a perfect person could keep it, and that it was given to prove to Israel their imperfection, and thus as pedagogue to lead them to Christ, from whom to receive as a gift, by faith in his blood, that life and perfection which they found they could not claim or obtain under the LAW. (`Gal. 3:24-29`.)
Secondly, our Head Christ Jesus who made us free from that Law under which Israel was placed, gave us another instead, saying, "A new commandment I give unto you that ye LOVE one another." (`John 13:34`.) This law of LOVE under which we are placed, contains the spirit of the Law to Israel--the Ten Commandments, and even more. This, the Apostle James terms the "royal law." (`Chap. 2:8`.) And the same apostle who wrote that we are "delivered from the Law," (`Rom. 7:6`), and called it "Moses' Law," (`Heb. 10:28`), and that "Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to every one that believeth," (`Rom. 10:4`), and that now "we are not under the Law," (`Rom. 6:15`), said also that he was not without law to God, BUT UNDER THE LAW to Christ, (`1 Cor. 9:21`) [i.e., our responsibility is transferred from the Father to our Lord Jesus who bought us, hence we are no longer under Jehovah's Law given at Sinai, but under a new law or arrangement --"under Law TO CHRIST." Yet, since Christ is Jehovah's agent in making the new arrangement, and since his law is in harmony with and built on our Father's law, as a temporary help for us, until we are restored to perfection; therefore, we may say with Paul, that we are not without law to God, even though "the Father judgeth no man but hath committed all judgment unto the Son."]
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The Law under which we come through Christ differs from "Moses' Law" in this--that the latter judges men by the deeds of the flesh, while the former (Christ's Law) judges by the intents of the mind or will. Under Moses' law, all men being imperfect through Adamic sin, none could DO perfectly, however much they might desire; hence, by deeds, no flesh was ever justified by that Law--all were condemned. (`Rom. 3:20`.) But now, under the new law of love, we walk by spirit or mind after this new law. We may not always succeed perfectly in doing all which we wish or will to do, but under this law the will is judged and not the deed. Hence all believers consecrated to God can fulfill this "Royal law," even though the new mind is in an imperfect "earthen vessel."
And while thus excused from the letter of the law, all "believers"--united to and one with Jesus--have fulfilled it, i.e., so long as we in heart observe Jesus' law, so long we may abide in him; and abiding in him, we have share in the actual fulfillment of the LETTER OF THE LAW as accomplished by him. Thus the righteousness of the Law is fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.
It can readily be seen that two laws would be useless. And, since all in Christ are under the law of Love, they cannot also be under the Law of Moses. The law under which we are makes allowance for all the imperfections of each, whereas "Moses' Law" required actual obedience and made no allowance; for it does not read, he that willeth and trieth to do, but "The man that doeth these things shall live," and "cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the Law to DO them." (`Gal. 3:10,12`.)
Where LOVE is the law of the mind, it influences and, to a great extent, controls the imperfect and weak body. None thus actuated by love have any desire to violate the law of commandments. It is useless to say to such a one, "Thou shalt not steal"; "thou shalt not kill"; "thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." He has no desire to do those things, for love prompts to an opposite course. And if, through weakness of the flesh, such a one realizes that on some occasion he has failed to exemplify the law of love, no one is more grieved than himself.
But some man will say: What is there in the "Ten Commandments" which any one cannot keep perfectly? That you so regard them proves that you, like the Pharisees, look not at the full measure or spirit of those commandments. If we will take the Master's teaching on the subject, we find that these Ten Commandments demand absolute perfection of thought and deed for their fulfillment. Jesus summarized their teaching, saying: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment, and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law. (`Matt. 22:37-40`.) Now let us see, is this a hard commandment? Yea, verily; none but perfect men could keep it. To love God thus is to subject every other thing and interest to his pleasure. To love a neighbor thus would insure that you would neither kill him, nor steal from him, nor covet his goods. Besides, look at Jesus' definition of the sixth and seventh commandments. (`Matt. 5:22,28`.)
Viewed from this standpoint, we see why none of the Jews ever could keep the Law and why we need to get into Christ, in order that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us.
THE THIRD COMMANDMENT.
Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work: but the Seventh Day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God, in it thou shalt not do any work, etc. (`Exod. 20:8-11`.)
If this is a part of the Law whose control over us was removed by Jesus' death, and which never was given to the gospel church, but whose righteousness (or right-meaning) is fulfilled in us, then all may see that, to any recognizing the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, there can be no bondage to the observance of any day. And in harmony with this thought is Paul's statement that "one man esteemeth one day above another; another esteemeth every day alike: Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." (`Rom. 14:5`.) And if he shall make up his mind on this subject, from the foregoing statements of the Apostle relative to the Law, he will, doubtless, be persuaded with Paul and with us, that since Jesus has blotted out the handwriting of ordinances which was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way nailing it to his cross; therefore, henceforth, no man should judge us in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days, which are a shadow of things to come. Wherefore, if we are dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances? (`Col. 2:14,16,17,20`.) To those in Christ there is no law on the subject except that of LOVE. They may celebrate any or no day as their love to God and man, and their judgment of what would glorify God and bless men may direct.
The fact that the Law compelled a rest every seven days, and that mankind seemed to require it, is an excellent reason why such a day should be observed. And love to God and a desire to worship him and to commune with his children is one of the best reasons for observing such a day. As to which of the seven days should be the best to observe, the church very early in its history decided that the first day of the week would be very appropriate, since on it Jesus arose from the dead and met with them and caused their hearts to burn as he expounded unto them the Scriptures. (`Luke 24:27,32`.) Accordingly, we find that to meet on that day was very common among them, even before they came to appreciate fully their liberty, and while they still, to a great extent, observed the seventh day also. (`Acts 2:1`, Pentecost came on the first day of the week. `Acts 20:7` and `1 Cor. 16:2`.) Paul was the Lord's special agency in leading the other apostles and the Church in general into true liberty, and as he taught that every day was alike, so he practiced; and we find that sometimes he met with the Church on the first day, and sometimes went into the synagogues on the Sabbath, or seventh day.
The question of Sabbath-keeping, like that of circumcision, is one that depends on the spirit or intent of the observer. As Paul testified to those who practiced circumcision in his day, so we testify to Sabbath (or seventh day) keepers now, viz.: If they keep the seventh day or any other day as under "Moses's Law," and in hope of keeping that Law and gaining its promised blessings, they are fallen from grace, and at present Christ is profiting them nothing, for the Jew did just so before Christ came. (`Gal. 5:2-4`.)
We cannot gain life by keeping the Law, for none can keep it perfectly, and to keep the third commandment and to fail in any other point, deprives of life and condemns to death under the Law covenant just as surely as though the whole law were violated, for "whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." (`James 2:10`.) Hence that entire covenant was set aside on account of human imperfection, and the "new covenant," written and sealed with the blood of Christ, takes its place--the covenant which speaks of favor, life and peace through the righteousness of him who bought us with his own precious blood.
Let us remember that under the Law the seventh day was commanded for rest only, and Paul gives us the key when he declares that "WE WHICH HAVE BELIEVED do enter into REST"; for he who trusts in Jesus as his justifier RESTS from attempting to do the work for himself and accepts it as a finished work--a gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Those who thus rest in Jesus, do as God the Father did; for having created man, whose sin and fall he foresaw, Jehovah rested the entire matter in the hands of Christ to redeem men and destroy sin and death during the seventh day. (Seven thousand years from Adam till the end of the Millennium.) [See article "Creative Week" in back issue--of which we have no more on hand.] (`Heb. 4:3-10`.) Whosoever thus believes in Jesus, as the propitiation for his sins, has "joy and peace (rest) in believing" (`Rom. 15:13`)--a rest not transitory but permanent; not partial, but complete; not of one day, but of all, and which was well illustrated in the seventh day which typified it; for seven is the symbol of completeness. Since this REST is the gift of God's love, and since we enter it when we come under the "royal law," is it not, therefore, fulfilled in love? for love is the fulfilling of the Law--to all in Christ Jesus who appreciate their standing and walk as becometh saints.
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THE OBJECT OF OUR LORD'S RETURN.
DISCOURSE NO. 2.
We continue to-day our subject of last Sunday--"The object of our Lord's return." To briefly review: We found that past ages and the present Gospel age have been but steps which God is taking toward the conversion of the world; that although He has not sought directly to bring all men to a knowledge of Himself (which is essential to salvation) but has confined that knowledge to a small proportion of His creatures who were thus elect, or chosen; as for instance the patriarchs of early ages, fleshly Israel of the last or law dispensation, and until the present century to but a small number of earth's millions, even during this Gospel age. Yet, all of this was but a means toward the desired end-- "The reconciling of the world unto Himself."
We see that all God's promises center in this Church, now being selected; that she is now as "the body of Christ" filling up the measure of His sufferings, and that when all the members have been selected from the world, and have been "made perfect through suffering," the Church will be joined to Christ Jesus, "whom God gave to be head over the Church, which is His body," or, as expressed in another simile, the "chaste virgin," will be united to the heavenly Bridegroom, and they twain become one, and this one--the Christ complete --is to be the heir of all things.
This new creation (the Christ) we found to be the promised seed which is to "bruise the serpent's head"--crush and destroy evil. So we read, "The very God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet [under Jesus and his church] shortly. This same "seed of Abraham" (which seed is Christ) is the seed "in whom all the families of the earth shall be blessed." "And if ye be Christ's, then are YE Abraham's seed and heirs." (`Gal. 3:29`). We found that the end of this age does not close the Church's mission; that though now, while wheat and tares grow together until the harvest, the end of the world (age), her light shines but feebly, yet, when separated from the tares, and exalted with her Lord, then, with him she shall "shine forth as the Sun in the kingdom." This is the "Sun of Righteousness" which "shall arise with healing in his wings."
We glanced at the glory of that Millennial day, wherein "there shall be no more curse," and "the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth," scattering the darkness of sin and ignorance and causing "wars to cease unto the ends of the earth." These are the "times of restitution," of which Peter speaks (`Acts 3:17,19`), which are due to begin when Christ comes. "For this, the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God." (`Rom. 8:22,19`)
But let us leave this bright and pleasant picture of the coming day, of which, with the poet, we could say:
"Haste thee along, ages of glory,
Haste the glad time when Christ appears," and turning look at a dark picture. While it will be so favorable to those who may live in the "Millennial Age," what about those who have died before the plan of God has thus reached its fulness? During the 6,000 years since creation, there have lived on the earth about 143 billions of human beings. Of these the very broadest estimate that could be made with reason, would be that less than one billion were Saints of God. What of the 142 billions who died out of Christ--what is their condition?
The Atheist answers: They are eternally dead. There is no hereafter; they will never live again.
Calvinism answers: They were not elected to be saved. God foreordained and predestinated them to be lost, to go to hell, and they are there now, writhing in agony, where they will ever remain without hope.
Arminianism answers: We believe that God excuses them on account of ignorance, and that if they did the best they knew how, they are as sure of being a part of the "church of the first born" as is Paul himself.
To this last view the great majority of Christians of all denominations hold from a feeling that any other view would be irreconcilable with justice on God's part.
But, we inquire, What do the Scriptures teach on this last point?--that ignorance is a ground of salvation? No; the only condition known in Scripture is FAITH. "By grace are ye saved through FAITH." Justification by faith is the ground-rock of the whole system of Christianity. When, on the day of Pentecost, Peter was asked, "What must we do to be saved?" He answered: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and be baptized, and thou shalt be saved."
Again, he says (`Acts 4:12`): "There is none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved," than the name of Jesus.
Paul reasons that a man must hear the Gospel before he can believe: "How shall they believe on Him of whom they have not heard?" This, God's plan--that men shall be saved on account of faith--Paul says was to the Jew a stumbling block (because they expected salvation as a reward of keeping
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the law), and to the Greeks (the worldly wise) foolishness; but, nevertheless, it has "pleased God by the foolishness (in the eyes of men) of preaching to save them WHICH BELIEVE."
We want to scripturally close you in to the thought, that all who have not heard could not believe, and not believing, could not be a part of the Bride of Christ. And this is not out of harmony with those first two chapters of Romans where Paul teaches that the heathen, having not the law, are a law unto themselves, etc. Many seem to misunderstand Paul, and represent him as teaching that the law which their conscience furnishes is sufficient in some cases to justify them. But this is a great mistake and far from Paul's meaning. Paul's argument everywhere is that "all the world is guilty before God," and that had he not known the law, he had not known sin. For by the law is the knowledge of sin." The law given to the Jew revealed his weakness, and was intended to show him that he was unable to justify himself before God. "For by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his (God's) sight." As the written law thus condemned the Jews, so Paul says it is with the Gentiles also. Though ignorant of The Law they had light enough of conscience to condemn them--not to justify them--and so every mouth is stopped and all the world is proved guilty before God. (`Romans 3:19`). And when this is realized, eternal life is seen to be "the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord," to every one that believeth.
Well, say some, the Bible to the contrary, I believe and insist that God won't damn the world for ignorance. Now, let us see. Do you practice what you declare? Why do you assist in sending missionaries to the heathen at a cost of thousands of valuable lives and millions of money? If they will all be saved, or even half of them, through ignorance, you do them a positive injury in sending a preacher to tell them of Christ when you know that only about one in a thousand believe when the missionary does go to them. If your idea be correct, it were far better that no missionaries should ever be sent. Before, as you believe, nearly all would have been saved on account of ignorance, but now because of knowledge nearly all will be lost. In the same way we might reason, that if God had left all in ignorance ALL would have been saved. Then, instead of the gospel being good news, it would be more properly named bad news.
But when this theory is carried to its legitimate consequences, you do not believe it. No, my brethren, you do believe that there is no other name given whereby we must be saved. Your actions speak the loudest--and speak rightly.
Now, suppose we look at things just as God tells us of them and leave the clearing of His character to Himself.
WHAT HAS BECOME OF THE 142 BILLIONS.
First, we answer that you may be sure they are not now in hell suffering, because the Scriptures teach that full and complete reward is not given to any until Christ comes, and He shall reward every man, and the unjust are to receive their deserts then also. Whatever may be their present condition, it cannot be their full reward, for Peter says: "The Lord knoweth how to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished," and He is doing so. But the thought of so many of our fellow creatures at any time, being lost, without having had the knowledge which is necessary to salvation, seems terrible indeed to all who have a spark of love or pity. Then, too, there are a number of Scriptures which seem hard to harmonize with all this. Let us see. In the light of his dealings, How shall we understand the statement, "God is Love," or "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him might not perish?"
Ah, Lord, it seems to poor, frail humanity that if you loved the world so much, you might have made provision not only that unbelievers might be saved, but also that all might hear and thus have a chance to believe.
Again, we read: "This is the true light, that lighteth every man that cometh into the world." (`John 1:9`). Lord, all our reason seems to say, not so, we cannot see how Jesus lighted more than a few of earth's billions. Yonder Hottentot gives no evidence of having been so enlightened, neither did the Sodomites and myriads of others.
Once more we read that Jesus, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man. (`Heb. 2:9`) How, Lord, we ask? If he tasted death for the one hundred and forty-three billions; and from other causes it becomes efficacious to only one billion, is not his death comparatively a failure?
Again: "Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to ALL people." (`Luke 2:10`). Surely it is to but few that it has been glad tidings and not to all people.
Another is: "There is one God and one Mediator between God and men,
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the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all." (`1 Tim. 2:5`). A ransom, then why should not all have some benefit from Christ's death?
Oh, how dark, how inconsistent do these statements appear, when we remember that the Gospel church is a "little flock." Oh, how we wish it would please God to open our eyes that we might understand the Scriptures, for we feel sure that did we but understand, it must all seem clear. It must all declare in thunder tone "God is Love." Oh, that we had the key! Do you want it?--are you sure you do? It is in the last text we quoted, "Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (`1 Tim. 2:6`). Due time, ah, now we see; God has a due time for everything. He could have testified it to this 142 billions in their life time; then that would have been their due time; but as it was not so, their due time must be future. We know that now is your due time and mine, because it is testified to us now. Christ was a ransom for you before you were born, but it was not due time for you to hear it until years after; so with the Hottentot; Christ was his ransom at the same time that he was yours. He has not heard it yet and may not in this life; but in God's due time he will.
But does not death end probation? one inquires. We answer there is no Scripture which says so, and all the above and many more Scriptures would be meaningless or worse, if death ends all hope to the ignorant masses of the world. A Scripture often quoted to prove this generally entertained view, is: "Where the tree falleth, there it shall be." (`Eccl. 11:3`). If this has any relation to man and his future it indicates that in whatever condition of knowledge or ignorance he enters death, he remains the same, until he is raised up again.
But, how can knowledge ever reach these billions in their graves? It never will, "for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest." (`Eccl. 9:10`.) "For in death there is no remembrance of thee (God): in the grave who shall give thee thanks." (`Psa. 6:5`.) God has provided for the resurrection of them all. For "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (`1 Cor. 15:22`.) As death came by the first Adam, so life comes by the second Adam. Everything that mankind lost in the first Adam is to be restored in the second: hence the age following Christ's second coming is spoken of as "The times of restitution."
Life is one of the things lost, and is to be one of the things restored. Mark, I do not say eternal life is given them; no, Adam never had eternal life to lose. The continuance of his life was conditioned on his obedience. Life as a human being was lost and this will be restored by the second Adam, and with it the ability to render obedience. This is the general salvation that Christ accomplishes for all, but the "great salvation" which believers receive is entirely different. This enables us to use another text, which is little used except by Universalists, and although we are not Universalists, yet we claim the right to use all Scripture. It reads: "We trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe." (`1 Tim. 4:10`.) All men are saved or rescued from the loss entailed on us through Adam, by having all those lost things, including natural life, restored to them. He is also the "especial Saviour of them that believe now--during this age--for they are privileged to become sons of God on a higher than human plane, even to be partakers of the divine nature.
Now we see that "the testimony in due time" explains all of those hitherto troublesome texts. In due time it shall be "good tidings of great joy to all people." In due time that "True Light shall lighten every man that cometh into the world." And in no other way can these Scriptures be used without wresting; we take them to mean just what they say. Paul carries out the line of argument with emphasis in `Romans 5:18,19`. He reasons that as all men were condemned to death and suffered it, because of Adam's transgression, so also Christ's righteousness justifies all to life again. All lost life, not of our own will or choice, in the first Adam, and all receive life at the hands of the second Adam equally without their will or choice, with the privilege of forever retaining it on specified conditions.
When thus brought to life, and having the love of God testified to them, their probation, their first chance begins, for we do not preach a second chance for any.
But Peter tells us that the restitution is spoken by the mouth of all the holy Prophets. They do all teach it. Ezekiel tells us of the valley of dry bones, "These bones are the whole house of Israel," and God says to them: "I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves and bring you into the land of Israel," (`Ezek. 37:11,12`.) This agrees with Paul's statement, `Rom. 11:25,26`. "Blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles, (the Gospel Church, the elect company "taken out of the Gentiles") be come in, and so all Israel shall be saved," or brought back from their cast-off condition. For "God hath not cast away His people which he foreknew." (`Rom. 11:2`). They were cut off from His favor while the bride of Christ was being selected, but will return to favor when that work is accomplished--`vs. 28 to 33`. The prophets are full of statements of how God will plant them again, and they shall be no more plucked up. This does not refer to restorations from former captivities in Babylon, Syria, &c., for the Lord says: In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape and the children's teeth are set on edge; but every man shall die for his own iniquity; every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge." (`Jer. 31:29,30`.) This is not the case now. You do not die for your own sin but for Adam's. "In Adam all die." He ate the sour grape and our fathers continued to eat them, entailing more sickness and misery upon us all. The day in which "every man shall die for his own iniquity," is this Millennial or Restitution day. But, when restored to the same conditions as Adam, will they not be as liable to sin and fall again as he was? No, they will have learned the lesson which God designed to teach to all during the first 6,000 years, viz: "The exceeding sinfulness of sin." They will be prepared to appreciate the good and shun the evil; and the Gospel church then glorified will be "The kings (rulers) and priests" (teachers) of that new age, for "Unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come; whereof we speak." (`Heb. 2:5`.)
But are we sure that God intends these blessings for any but the "people whom he foreknew"--the Jews? Yes. He mentions other nations also by name and speaks of their restitution. Let me give you an illustration that will be forcible--the Sodomites. Surely, if I find their restitution mentioned you will be satisfied. But why should they not have an opportunity as well as you, or the Jew, to obtain eternal life? True, they were not righteous, but neither were you when God gave you your opportunity. Christ's own words tell us that they are not as guilty in His sight as the Jews who had more knowledge: "Woe unto thee...Capernaum, for if the mighty works which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained unto this day." (`Matt. 11:21,23`.) Thus Christ's own words teach us that they had not had their full opportunity. Remember Christ says of the Sodomites that "it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all." (`Luke 17:29`.) So, if their restoration is spoken of, it implies their resurrection. Let us look at the prophecy of `Ezek. 16:48` to close. Read it carefully. God here speaks to Israel and compares her with her neighbor Samaria, and also with the Sodomites, whom he says, "I took away as I saw good." (`Ezek. 16:50`.) Why did God see good to take away these people without giving them a chance of eternal life through the knowledge of "the only name"? Because it was not their due time; they will come to a knowledge of the truth when restored. He will save them from death's bondage first, and then give them knowledge, as it is written: "God will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." (`1 Tim. 2:4`.) When brought to the knowledge, then, and not until then, are the preparations for Eternal life. With this thought, and with no other, I can understand the dealings of the God of love with those Amalekites and other nations, whom he not only permitted, but commanded Israel to destroy utterly, and leave neither man, woman or child, sparing not even the little ones. How often my heart has ached and yours too, as we sought to reconcile this seeming wantonness on God's part, with the teachings of the new dispensation --"God is love," "Love your enemies," &c. Now we see that the entire Jewish age was a type of the higher Gospel age; Israel's victories and conquests merely pictures of the Christian's battles with sin, etc. These Amalekites and Sodomites and others might just as well die so, as of disease and plague, and it mattered little to them, as they were merely learning to know evil, that when on trial "in due time" they might learn good and be able to discriminate and choose good.
But let us read the prophecy further. After comparing Israel with Sodom and Samaria, and pronouncing them worse, `v. 53`, says, "When I bring again the captivity (In death all are captives; and Christ came to set at liberty the captives and to open the prison doors of the grave) of Sodom and Samaria, then will I bring thy captives in the midst of them." These will be raised together. In `verse 55` this is called a "return to their former estate"--restitution. But some one, who cannot imagine that God really could be so good or just, suggests: God must be speaking ironically to Israel, and saying, He would just as soon bring back the Sodomites as them; but has no notion of either. Let us see; read `vs. 60-63`: "Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee; I will establish it
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to thee." Yes; says Paul, "This is God's covenant unto them--they are beloved for the fathers' sake. For the gifts and callings of God are without repentance." (`Romans 11:27-29`.) The `63d verse` concludes the argument, showing that the promised restitution is not based on the merits of either Israel, the Samaritans, or the Sodomites --"That thou mayest remember and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee, for all that thou hast done, SAITH THE LORD GOD." When God signs his name to a statement in this way, I must believe it. And no wonder if they are confounded, when "In the ages to come He shows forth the exceeding riches of his grace." (`Eph. 2:7`.) And many of God's children will be confounded, and amazed also, when they see how "God
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so loved THE WORLD." They will be ready to exclaim with brother Paul: "Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" (`Romans 11:33`.)
But some will inquire, how comes it that this has not been seen long ago? We answer, God gives light and knowledge to his people just as it is due. The world was left in almost entire ignorance of God's plan until the Gospel age, when Christ came, bringing life and immortality TO LIGHT through the Gospel. The Jews up to that time supposed that all the promises of God were to and for them alone, but in due time God showed favor to the Gentiles also. Christians, generally, have supposed that God's blessings are to the church, but we begin to see that God is better than all our fears, and though he has given us the "exceeding great and precious promises," He has made some to the world also.
"The path of the just is as a shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day," and the fact that it now shines so brightly; and that we are able to see more of the beauty and harmony of God's word, is to me a strong presumptive evidence that we are nearing that glorious Millennial Day when we shall know even as we are known. (`1 Cor. 13:12`.)
But we promised to harmonize those doctrines of the Church generally supposed to be opposed to each other, viz: CALVINISM, or Election; and ARMINIANISM, or Free Grace. Perhaps you already see how they harmonize themselves, by simply recognizing the order of the ages, and applying each text to the place and time to which it belongs. Let me then point out to you
THE INCONSISTENCY OF EITHER CALVINISM OR ARMINIANISM.
when separated from each other. In doing so, I do not wish to reflect on those who hold these doctrines. I shall merely call your attention to features which their warmest advocates must confess to be their weak points.
First--Calvinism says: God is all-wise; He knew the end from the beginning; and as "all his purposes shall be accomplished," He never could have intended to save any but a few--the true Church, the little flock. These He elected, and predestinated to be eternally saved; all others were equally predestined and elected to go to hell, for, "known unto the Lord are all His works from the foundation of the world."
This has its good features; it shows, and properly, God's Omniscience. This would be our idea of a GREAT God were it not that the three great essential qualities of greatness, viz., MERCY, LOVE and JUSTICE are lacking, for none of these qualities find place in bringing into the world 142 billions of creatures damned before they were born, and mocked by protestations of love. No, no; "God is Love," "God is Just," "God is Merciful."
Second--Arminianism says: Yes, God is love, and in bringing humanity into the world He meant them no harm; only good. But Satan succeeded in tempting Adam; thus "Sin entered into the world and death by sin." And ever since, God has been doing all he can to deliver man from his enemy, even to the giving of His Son. And though now, six thousand years after, the gospel has only reached a very small portion of those creatures, yet, we do hope and trust, that within six thousand years more, through the energy and liberality of the Church, God will have so far remedied the evil introduced by Satan, that all may at least know of his love, and the knowledge of God be co-extensive with the knowledge of evil.
The commendable feature of this view is, that it accepts the statement that "God is Love." But, while full of loving and benevolent designs for His creatures, He lacks ability and foreknowledge adequate to the accomplishment of those designs.
While God was busy arranging and devising for the good of his newly created children, Satan slipped in, and by one stroke, upset all God's plans, and in one moment brought sin and evil among men to such an extent that even by exhausting all his power, God must spend twelve thousand years to even reinstate righteousness to such a degree that man will have an opportunity to choose good as readily as evil; and the one hundred and forty-two billions of the past six thousand years, and as many more of the next, are lost to all eternity, in spite of God's love for them, because Satan interfered with his plans as God had not foreseen. Thus Satan gets, in spite of God, one hundred into hell to one God gets to glory. This view must exalt men's ideas of Satan, and lower their estimation of Him who "spake and it was done; commanded and it stood fast."
But how refreshing it is for us to turn from these fragments of truth, as separately considered, and see how harmonious and beautiful they are when united; how, during the present and past ages, God is electing, or gathering, by the preaching of His word the Gospel church; how he wisely permitted evil to come into the world in order that He might develop His church, which, thus being made perfect through suffering, might be prepared for her gracious work in the future; and how the mass of mankind, though not now on probation, are nevertheless getting a knowledge and experience, by contact with sin, which he foresaw they would be the better of. And, furthermore, how he took occasion, in connection with this, His plan, to show us His great love, by so arranging that the death of Christ was necessary to our recovery from sin, and then freely giving Him to be "the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world," and then in the next dispensation--"The new heavens and earth," (`Rev. 21:1-9-10` and `22:17`.) "The spirit and the bride say come, and whosoever will may come and take of the water of life freely." Then "Free Grace" will be shown in the fullest measure. This is the teaching of God's word. Men would not have thought of such a glorious plan of salvation. Truly God has said: "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways: For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (`Isa. 55:8,9`.) Hereafter when we address "Our Father," may it call to our mind that His love and compassion are far greater than the pity of earthly parents; and while we study His word more and more, and seek to "grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of God, let us ever remember that
"Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter
And He will make it plain."
Having seen how much of the great plan of God awaits the coming of Christ for its accomplishment, and having, we trust, found why Christ comes, we will next Sunday take up another branch of truth connected therewith, and inquire the teaching of Scripture as to the judgment of the Church, and of the World, the reward of Faith and that of Works.
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Why has Christian influence so little effect upon the unconverted? Can it be for want of knowledge of Christian duties, or why is it such a barren and fruitless thing to be a Christian? Truly we need not expect that the whole world will be converted because they see beauty in the confession of Christians, for Christ himself has said, "If they will not hear my words, they will not hear you." Yet the Spirit of God is fruitful, and will multiply when it has free access into the hearts of his Spirit-born people.
There is, indeed, a great fault in Christian professors in our day. The motive is not pure. Either from love of the world, or from lack of true repentance, the heart is not wholly given to God, and for this reason God cannot use it for his purpose, namely, for his temple; therefore old things remain, and the creature is not renewed in spirit and mind, and knows not how to adorn his profession, and remains only a stumbling block in the eyes of the world, because he professes to have the spirit of God, and has it not, or walks not according to it. Oh, Christians! let us be careful how we profess Christ, lest not only the sin of hypocrisy be required at our hands, but also the blood of our fellow creatures, who turn away from Christians, and say there is no reality in religion. It is truly good to be a Christian, to enjoy the Spirit of God, the love of Christ, and the many blessings that are manifested through the Spirit as well as the promised glory and blessings. --Selected.
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Ques. Are there any other papers than the TOWER which teach as it does that Jesus is now present?
Ans. We know of none other which teaches the personal presence of Christ Jesus. Most of those whose attention has been given to the subject of the second advent, fail to see the distinction between the human nature which Jesus laid down in death as our ransom, and the new nature given him by the Father as a reward for so doing. (`Phil. 2:9`.) Therefore, such generally expect that Jesus will be a human or fleshly being at his second coming. But though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now, henceforth, know we him no more after the flesh but as a spiritual being-- the express image of the Father's person, and consequently as invisible to human eyes (without a miracle) as the angels, and as the Father "whom no man hath seen nor can see." (`2 Cor. 5:16`; `Heb. 1:3`; `1 Tim. 6:16`.)
The fact is, that to be consistent with their theories, none could teach Christ Jesus' presence who do not recognize the distinction and total difference between the perfect human and the divine natures. (Study very carefully the Chart and its explanation in "Food," p. 105.) If Jesus is now merely a glorified man, then when he comes he would be seen by the natural eye, and there would be no special necessity for taking heed to the sure word of prophecy; nor would those Scriptures be true, which represent his presence to be "as a thief," discernable only by those watching. If he is now merely a perfect, glorified man, then those who claim this, to be consistent, should also claim that at his first advent, before he was "highly exalted,"
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he was an imperfect man. But, on the contrary, Scripture teaches that at the first advent, Jesus was undefiled, sinless, perfect--a man FIT to be a ransom for other men--and at his resurrection perfected as a new creature and again a spiritual being.
If change of nature is impossible, as some seem to claim, how did Jesus change from a form of God (a spiritual form) and become a form of flesh, or a human being? And if he changed thus to take our lower nature (`Phil. 2:7`), why should any deny that he could be given a nature, not only higher than men (the human), but higher than that he laid aside to become a man. If any have theories that would compel Jesus forever to be a man, we think such theories had better be sacrificed than the Scriptures which teach that human and spiritual beings are dissimilar, though on certain conditions some during this age are offered a change of nature.
From the standpoint of those who recognize the distinction between human and spiritual beings, the invisible, personal presence of Christ is not unreasonable. Such realize that, "Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more" after the flesh. The human being, restored, will be a glorious and perfect man; while the "new creature," perfected, will be entirely different--a perfect spiritual being--and it doth not yet appear what such shall be like. Of Jesus we read that he is now "the express image of the Father's person, whom no MAN hath seen NOR CAN SEE. He was put to death in the flesh (as a man) and quickened in spirit (as a new creature).
It is this Jesus, raised in glory and power, a spiritual body and not an animal or human body--perfect as a new creature--that we teach is present, and whose power and presence is now exercising so marked an effect upon the affairs of both the Church and the world. It is his glorious presence as a reaper (`Rev. 14:14`) of his ripening harvest, whose sharp sickle of truth is now separating the true from the false, and the matured from the immature wheat. Yes, the Lord has come to make up his chosen and polished jewels. We are living even now in the presence of the invisible Lord, whose lightning flashes of truth are even now enlightening the world (`Matt. 24:27`; `Psa. 97:4`). The first flashes are bringing terror and dismay to the world, disclosing also the gigantic proportions of evil and oppression; but shortly the full glory, the bright shining of his presence, will be recognized by all (seen by the eye of their understanding) and will bring healing and blessing.
The present, invisible, spiritual prince of this world (Satan--`John 14:30`) will then be fully cast out, when the new, invisible, spiritual Prince (Christ) shall fully take to himself his great power and dominion.
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MAKING US WHITE.
"What have I done that I must suffer so?" "Must I always bear such humiliation?" We answer that God puts a high estimate upon "the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints." A proprietor pulls down his old house and tears up the lilacs and cherry trees, and plows and seeds his ground anew, to make a fitting place for a better home. But how would the green grass sob, and the shrubbery shriek, could its story be heard. Suffering is not always a penalty. It is often corrective. It is educative. Purifying, training and glorifying, in its nature, it must go forward until the end. An old captain on an ocean steamer says, "A little head wind is good; it makes the furnace draw." Patience is beautiful and useful, but it means something to be patient about. It is like the night blooming cereus; it comes only to perfection in darkness, and when midnight is densest. At one end of yonder paper machine is a pile of beautiful white paper. How the rags would scream at their scouring, and grinding, and pressing, and crushing. But see the result! So, Christian, see what blessed things are intended to reward your trials.--American Wesleyan.
HERALD OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE.
PUBLISHED MONTHLY AT 101 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pa.
C. T. RUSSELL, Editor and Publisher.
The Editor recognizes a responsibility to the Master, relative to what shall appear in these columns, which he cannot and does not cast aside; yet he should not be understood as endorsing every expression of correspondents, or of articles selected from other periodicals.
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This paper will be sent free to any of the Lord's poor who will send a card yearly requesting it. Freely we have received and freely we would give the truth. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat--yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." And you that have it-- "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently--and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness."-- `ISAIAH 55:1,2`.
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THE EMPHATIC DIAGLOTT.
We again have a full supply of this very valuable work. For the benefit of new readers we would state that it is a Greek Testament having under each Greek word the corresponding English word, and is thus the most literal translation of the New Testament. Besides this, it has in another column alongside a very clear and emphatic translation, showing the emphasis of the Greek which is generally lost to the English reader.
As we have said before, we repeat now, we know of no more valuable help than this in the study of the Scriptures. If we could not get another, we would not take ten dollars for the copy we use.
The regular price for the work in cloth is four dollars--which, everything considered is not too high; but by special arrangements we have been enabled to offer it at $1.50 per copy to our subscribers.
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VIEW FROM THE TOWER.
We see darkness lifting in certain directions and with certain classes. The dawning light of truth which soon shall flood the world and permeate the present recesses of error and sin, is even now growing a little more grey as the darker shadows flee.
The interest in truth in general, upon all subjects, is spreading daily, and upon the most weighty and important subject of religion it is making rapid strides. Of course this does not apply so fully to the more advanced religious truths. But even of these advanced truths we may say, that they are making rapid strides among the truly consecrated, i.e., among those consecrated to God only, and not to a sect.
The TOWER goes into over 10,000 families monthly, and though some in those families bitterly oppose it, it is steadily commending the truth to the consecrated, and hundreds of hearts and hands are daily contriving ways for spreading its message of the justice, wisdom, power, and love, of our God.
The TOWER goes monthly to about 800 ministers of various denominations, and though some take it in secret and send us the names of fellow ministers to whom to send sample copies, who would not be known as the sender; and some preach long and loud against the "glad tidings," yet the truth is spreading and is affecting, directly and indirectly to some extent, the utterances of probably one-third the pulpits of this land and many in England. There is no resisting it; for it is of God. The King is present and is leading his truth, long trampled in the dust, to certain victory.
We mentioned in a recent issue that there are nearly two millions of Swedes in this country, among whom are many earnest Christians some of whom are becoming interested in "this way." We mentioned also the desire to furnish such, a tract similar in substance to our issue, No. 4, Vol. 4, of TOWER, and the establishment of a FUND for this special purpose. Some are now inquiring about it, and though we have to report but a small sum, yet it was mostly subscribed during August; and a few more months similar would enable us to publish at once. The fund now contains $153.08. We lay before you as usual extracts from a few
DEAR EDITOR:--A gentleman called at my study a few days ago, and I received of him a little pamphlet entitled, "Food for Thinking Christians." I did not think the pamphlet of much importance at the time, but from curiosity more than anything else, I began to read it, and I soon found that the title was not a misnomer, but that it was indeed food for thinking Christians. I have not finished reading it yet. Some facts, I think, will bear re-reading. I find in it many new and valuable ideas, and, as I am bound by no man-made creed, I am at perfect liberty to receive them.
Many of the positions are new to me, and as beautiful as they are new. Part VIII., on "The Narrow Way to Life," advances some new thoughts in regard to Christ that thoroughly revolutionize my former notions.
Well, I simply thought I would drop you a line to say I am being greatly profited by this little pamphlet, and I wish you God-speed in the good work of teaching the living oracles.
In the one Hope, __________, M.D.
MY DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--By a fortuitous circumstance, which, however, I regard as providential, ZION'S WATCH TOWER was brought to my attention, and I was much astonished to think I had lived so long on the outskirts of civilization without knowing what was going on. I have been waiting and trusting, a little like the old prophet Elijah, almost thinking I was left alone, when to my astonishment I learn from the TOWER that a work is going on, and thousands are yet in existence who do not bow the knee to the image of Baal or Babylon.
I have passed my three-score years and ten, and three over. I was indoctrinated into the faith of Christ and consecrated to the service of God in my twenty-third year. Having drank deeply at an early period of the sentiments that seem to pervade the TOWER, I turned away from the doctrines of men, and regarded myself measurably as standing alone. I have written much upon the heavenly theme, as well as spoken much, but, to all appearances, to no avail. I appeared to address an unappreciative people. But now, as two drops of water, if placed in close proximity, will flow together by the law of affinity, so is my joy enlarged, and my heart goes out to you, my brother.
Having waded through many vicissitudes through a long life, and now standing on the verge of the grave, as it were, I cannot expect to reach the period which will usher in the reign of the Christ of God. But, be this as it may, I have a well-grounded hope that, whether living or dead, I shall stand in my lot at the end of the days; when all tears shall be wiped away, and when his suffering and waiting saints--the body, the bride of Christ--shall be received and installed into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Will you please send me the TOWER? Being decrepit with age, I am unable to work much, and can scarcely meet the demands of nature, food and raiment, and if you will so regard it, I am one of the Lord's poor. From what I can learn, the circulation of the TOWER is great, and what astonishes me is to think that a work of such magnitude and of such a character has grown up without my knowledge. I wish to learn more of it, and would be exceeding glad if you could spare the time from your pressing duties to correspond with me, giving a full detail of matters. You speak of the flock as being small; this, however, is not strange to me, but how small or how large are matters of my present solicitude....
Your brother in Christ, __________.
MY DEAR SIR:--I am glad to say the work here is progressing amongst my own congregation, and also amongst outsiders. "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation," and so the work makes no great show at present, but it is advancing in many minds. I have little trouble with those people who have been accustomed to go straight to God's Book and abide by that, and who are truly walking with God. To let go old prejudice is comparatively easy to a mind made receptive by the Spirit of God. I have endeavored to act wisely, and not to ride roughshod over old views, as that might have aroused opposition and have defeated my object, which is to "lead into the light." Acting upon this method, I think I am finding my reward in a more ready reception of the truth than one might have expected.
Yours ever truly in our Lord Jesus,
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BRO. RUSSELL--Dear Sir: While visiting friends, not long since, I saw the WATCH TOWER for the first time. My friend gave me some numbers of the TOWER, also "Food for Thinking Christians." I am highly delighted with them.
I am, and have been for twenty-five years, a minister of the Gospel, but have not dug after truth as much as I might. I want to know more of these things. O, what good, blessed gospel truths I find in "Food for Thinking Christians." Will you be so kind as to write me as soon as possible, and send me as many papers as you can, not only for myself, but for others, who are just now hungering and thirsting after righteousness?
I am yours, &c., __________.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--I have been reading your publications about twelve months; have compared with Scripture and find nothing to conflict. I have been a Baptist for several years, and have been reading and searching for truth; and I confess that I have received much light, and been led through many dark places, through the WATCH TOWER. I can read and understand the Scriptures better than ever before. I endorse the teachings of the TOWER. God has laid wide the gap through your publications, and seeing it, I have walked out of sectarian bondage, believing it better to obey God than man. I am not preaching in a public way, but am doing all I can in other ways to get men to see and understand the truth, though I meet with some opposition.
Yours truly, __________.
DEAR BROTHER:--I feel as though I stood alone here in Topeka in regard to these teachings; but it has inspired in me a better hope and a more abiding peace and love for God and man and the holy Scriptures than I ever had before, and I would rather stand alone throughout this harvest time, than to stand with and be of those whose faith is in the teaching of the nominal church. I feel that it is a sore trial to be so bitterly opposed by those, even of my own household, and to be misjudged by them.
I do rejoice in a bright hope that ere long, I may be gathered with all those that are entirely Christ's, and be ever with him; and I do pray that the WATCH TOWER may be blessed to all those that are hungering and thirsting after righteousness.
Yours truly, __________.
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The following is the brief report of a sermon of a Presbyterian minister of this city, delivered to his congregation not long since and clipped by us from a Pittsburgh daily paper. It serves to show the drift of intelligent thought on certain subjects. Though this Brother shows in this sermon no evidence that he understands God's plan or has any special insight to the teachings of Scripture on the subjects, yet it does show that he has a reasonable mind and is honest enough to express his convictions in a manner which, to say the least, must endanger his title, honors and salary in Babylon.
We pray that the Lord may guide him into the truth more and more. As he gives evidence of some reason and candor, two indispensable qualities for growth in grace and knowledge, if he also be wholly consecrated to the Lord and not to a sect, or creed, so that he shall rejoice to sacrifice all for the truth, counting not his life dear unto him,
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then doubtless he will be owned and esteemed of God proportionately as he becomes disowned and dishonored by a worldly system, called the Church, but which is now given up and "spued out." The extract is as follows:
"Yesterday morning the Rev. E. R. Donehoo delivered a sermon which is at variance with the old and accepted idea of the future life. The following extracts give an idea of the Reverend gentleman's views:
"For the work of a man shall he render unto him and cause every man to find according to his ways. Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment."-- `Job 34:11-12`.
The old doctrine of the literal hell of fire and brimstone is not very strenuously urged even by the most rigidly orthodox in these days. Nor has the surrender of this idea been followed by a declining confidence in the authority of Scripture. It cannot be denied that in proportion as the harsh and cruel dogmas of Christian doctrine, which once were the constitutional elements of every pulpit discourse, are abandoned, the beauty and harmony of Divine truth begins to appear. There was a time not very far distant when the chief argument employed in persuading men to give up sin, was in so picturing the condition of the lost in hell as to inspire the impenitent with terror and thus drive them through sheer fright into the fold of believers. The idea of present reward, from the pursuit of that which is in itself good and true and virtuous was scarcely ever brought into view. Through the influence of such instruction, it became the settled conviction amongst a large class that one or the other fate awaits every one immediately at death: Hell with its unmitigated miseries or Heaven with its unmingled joys. To have failed of the heavenly standard, even in the slightest degree, is to plunge into the deepest and most hopeless abyss of hell eternally. To have spent a lifetime in open and defiant rebellion against God, and yet in the final hour to have repented and sued for mercy is to escape every torment of the damned and to attain to all the bliss in store for the righteous.
Such are the teachings with which sinners have too often been terrorized and saints regaled. All this may be good theology, which I doubt, but of this I feel perfectly assured that it is out of all proportion to the ordinary views of justice and equity, and utterly out of accord with the dictates of enlightened reason. If human courts should undertake to administer the law on any such principle, the judges would be held up to public scorn and society would rise up with the one common impulse to protest against such a partial, unjust and inhuman method of procedure. The punishment must have some relation to the enormity of the offense before the community will quietly acquiesce in its infliction.
The great error with too many religious teachers has been that they have constructed their theology, so far at least as heaven and hell are concerned, not from the word of God, the only reliable authority at hand, but from the distorted and ghastly visions of Dante, or the equally grotesque and wholly unreliable imaginings of Milton, or the monstrous conceits so characteristic of the revivalists of the last century.
The rule laid down by Christ is the safe one and in harmony with every portion of revealed truth: "Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required." The application of this rule should set at rest forever the delusion so often entertained that God will dispense indiscriminate rewards to His friends and indiscriminate punishments to all who have broken his law. The doctrine taught by Christ is that the more light the greater will be the punishableness of sin. To the Pharisee of his time he said: "If ye were blind ye should have no sin, but now ye say 'we see,' therefore your sin remaineth." And James bears like testimony: "To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin." Knowledge carries corresponding responsibility. "If I had not come and spoken unto them they had not had sin, but now they have no cloak for their sin." From this we learn that a knowledge of the gospel brings with it a responsibility to accept it.
While increased knowledge brings with it increased responsibility it must not be therefore inferred that mere ignorance will of itself constitute an excuse. The ignorance may be self-incurred, it may be guilt, neglect of available opportunities to inform oneself, in which case no mitigation in the punishment may be expected.
What is true of punishment is as true of rewards. The reward will be in proportion to the service done and work rendered and character sustained and duty discharged. Each man here and now is determining for himself what degree of misery or happiness shall be meted out to him in the eternal world. And however strictly the great Judge will punish every transgression, I have no fear that Satan's dominions will bear any proportion to those of an omnipotent King. After sin has been thoroughly punished and every rebel consigned to his doom the redeemed shall be made up of all ages and climes, innumerable as the sands of the sea shore, not one excluded from heaven's joys in the end, but those who deliberately invoked their awful doom."
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FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT.
"If these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."--`2 PET. 1:8`.
Good works and knowledge are so closely related that it is useless to think of separating them; they are produced by the same Spirit. Believing this, the TOWER seeks to present the deep things of God not to a worldly class, but to the consecrated, in whom the fruits of the Spirit are being produced, realizing that the natural man [the unconsecrated] receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.--(`1 Cor. 2:14`.)
Wherever, therefore, and in proportion as we find the fruits of the Spirit, we expect to find the Spirit which produced those fruits. And all possessing this Spirit and using it, will be able not only to grow in grace but in knowledge also, and shall be neither barren nor unfruitful in the KNOWLEDGE of our Lord.
This statement of the inspired Apostle, that a man cannot be fruitful in the graces and barren in the knowledge of the Lord, may and should astound some who boast of their graces and freely admit their ignorance of the Lord and his plans.
Many who seem to be religious have only a form of godliness, a form of faith, a form of patience, a form of charity, a form of brotherly kindness. May we not, on Peter's authority, safely set it down that those graces are like clusters of grapes tied on to thorn bushes and not the real fruit of the vine, if we find not with them that essential favor of God--a "knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ?" May we not conclude that such, if ever purged from sin by faith in the sin sacrifice, have been blinded by the God of this world, and "cannot see afar off"--cannot grasp or appreciate the things future in the unfolding of our Father's plan. (`Verse 9` and `Jno. 16:13`.)
The Apostle continues, `verse 10`: "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure." As though he said on this account you must criticise yourselves very closely to see that you are developing the real fruits of the Spirit, remembering the test I have given you, that the real fruits will have among them, prominently, an increasing knowledge of our Lord--a close, intimate acquaintance and communion with him-- in which he will reveal himself to us by showing us "things to come."
Nor can the knowledge fruit be obtained independent of the other fruits-- [though a parrot-like form of knowledge might exist without the others, it should be thus recognized as only the form]--because these various fruits are results of the same spirit or sap. And if one of these fruits withers and dies, it indicates that the supply of sap is being cut off, that the spirit is being lost by that branch, and surely indicates that all the fruits are withering and dying. Let all these fruits be in you and abound; quench not the Spirit. "For if you do [bear all] these things ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." (`Verses 10,11`.)
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But, does some one suggest, that thus making knowledge one of the necessary fruits of the Spirit would exclude from the spiritual class many ministers and others? We reply, that while knowledge is essential, it does not follow that the knowledge must be perfect. It has pleased our Father to permit a veil of error to be drawn across his plan--
"Which veils and darkens His designs." And only as it becomes due time does he remove that veil gradually, finally completely finishing "the Mystery of God." Hence, knowledge as a fruit of the Spirit, could never heretofore reach the same size which it now may and should attain. God expects the size of this fruit to be proportionate with its opportunities and possibilities. As an illustration--we refer you to the words of Albert Barnes, quoted in another column. These prove that what he knew of God's character, as revealed through nature and in our Lord Jesus, had won his heart, so that, in comparison, the errors of that man-made theology were irreconcilable. As the due time for these mists to be cleared away has come, we should expect all such to advance in the shining path.
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ACCEPTABLE WITH GOD.
"Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer."-- `PSA. 19:7-14`.
In the midst of the trying scenes of this day of the Lord how necessary that all the little company of consecrated ones should continually breathe this prayer. Doubtless all feel the almost overwhelming force with which the tide of innumerable temptations are brought to bear against them. To some the world presents unusual attractions, to some business brings increasing cares, to some error presents its most plausible and deluding forms, and to others weariness in the conflict with temptations within and without calls for rest and inactivity; and because iniquity abounds the love of many waxes cold.
The inspired Psalmist not only puts this prayer in our mouth, but he suggests the means by which we may be acceptable to God, recommending the Word of the Lord as able to bring about this desired result, saying: "The law (margin--doctrine) of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul"--bringing us back to a condition of harmony with God. Without a close study of the teaching of our Father's Word it is impossible to do or think those things that are pleasing in his sight. "The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple." Those who come to the Word of the Lord in simplicity of heart, with no other desire than to know his will, shall surely obtain the heavenly wisdom.
"The statutes (precepts--teachings) of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart --imparting the necessary stimulus to enable us to stem the tide of opposition. "The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes"--giving us the right ideas of justice, love, etc. "The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever." Filial fear of the Lord, which dreads to do anything to break the existing harmony, is a right and proper fear, not a slavish fear; and this loving fear will endure forever between those whose hearts are thus in harmony with God.
"The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." His judgments as to right and wrong in any matter are always correct. If we cannot trust our own warped and erring judgment, we may always find a clear and unmistakable expression of our Father's unerring judgments in his precious Word.
"More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb." We should thus appreciate and search for our Father's judgments, our Father's expressions of justice and right and truth. "Moreover, by them is thy servant warned, and in keeping of them there is great reward." We are warned against the danger and errors into which our own warped and erring judgment would lead us; for "Who can understand his (own) errors?" Let our prayer ever be, "Cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins." If we presume to set up our judgment against the Lord's judgment in any matter, as expressed in his Word, we fall at once into the snare of the adversary.
In view of these things, let us humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, meditating much upon the precepts and teachings of his Word, that through them we may be imbued with their spirit. And thus the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart shall be acceptable in the sight of the Lord, our strength and our Redeemer.
MRS. C. T. R.
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The following item is clipped from the Chicago Tribune of August 13th:
"London, August 9th. A paper at Constantinople announces the discovery of Noah's ark. It appears that some Turkish Commissioners appointed to investigate the question of avalanches on Mount Ararat suddenly came upon a gigantic structure of very dark wood protruding from a glacier. They made inquiries of the inhabitants. These had seen it for six years, but had been afraid to approach it because a spirit of fierce aspect had been seen looking out of the upper window. The Turkish Commissioners, however, are bold men, not deterred by such trifles, and they determined to reach it. Situated as it was among the fastnesses of one of the glens of Mount Ararat, it was a work of enormous difficulty, and it was only after incredible hardships that they succeeded. The ark was in a good state of preservation, although the angles-- observe, not the bow or stern--had been a good deal broken in its descent. They recognized it at once. There was an Englishman among them who had presumably read his Bible, and he saw it was made of the ancient gopher wood of Scripture, which, as every one knows, grows only on the plains of the Euphrates. Effecting an entrance into the structure, which was painted brown, they found that the admiralty requirements for the conveyance of horses had been carried out, and the interior was divided into partitions fifteen feet high. Into three of these only could they get, the others being full of ice, and how far the ark extended into the glacier they could not tell. If, however, on being uncovered it turns out to be 300 cubits
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long it will go hard with disbelievers in the book of Genesis."
The gopher wood of which the Ark was built, is generally supposed to be the cypress, famous among the ancients, and frequently mentioned in Scripture. It is remarkable for durability. Instances are related of doors and posts made of this wood which had lasted 1,100 years.
Remembering, also, that Mt. Ararat is covered with perpetual snow and ice for more than 3,000 feet below its summit, and that an earthquake which shook it in the beginning of the present year (1883) broke loose tremendous quantities of this ice, burying under the avalanches whole villages, we cannot but think that the foregoing article is not so unreasonable as might at first appear. The same wise God who placed the Great Pyramid "in the midst and in the border of Egypt," for a sign, now but commencing to speak to men of science, may have hidden away Noah's Ark, burying and preserving it in ice, ready to be another witness to the most illiterate. We can only say, it would be "just like God," and in perfect harmony with our teachings, that the outward evidences of the truth of the Bible, for the instruction of the natural man, should begin to increase; and we expect that these will multiply during the coming thirty years.
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PRAISE OUR GOD.
"All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Jehovah, and shall glorify thy name."--`Ps. 86:9`; `Rev. 15:4`.
Arise all down-cast souls, arise,
No longer sit in mournful gloom;
Go forth to meet your risen King,
Who comes victorious to the throne.
Rejoice, rejoice, glad songs of praise
To God's eternal glory raise.
Lo! Satan vanquished from Him flies,
The "powers of darkness" dread the light;
The grave is opened by His power,
The bruised Serpent yields the fight.
Rejoice, rejoice, glad songs of praise
To God's eternal glory raise.
Alone he fought the glorious fight,
Alone he conquers every foe;
Then unto him let anthems rise,
And songs of love forever flow.
Rejoice, rejoice, glad songs of praise
To Christ's eternal glory raise.
Earth then as Eden--man restored--
All bright and happy here below;
Saints glorified and with their Lord,
Who shall not praise thee then, O God!
Rejoice, rejoice, glad songs of praise
To God's eternal glory raise.
From "Zion's Watch Tower" now we see
So near, that grand and glorious day;
The thousand years of jubilee,
When love once more mankind shall sway.
Rejoice, rejoice, glad songs of praise
To God's eternal glory raise. R. C.
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OUR GOSPEL HID TO SOME.
"Therefore having this ministry, even as we received mercy we faint not; but have repudiated the secret things of shame; not walking in craftiness, nor falsifying the Word of God; but by the exhibition of THE TRUTH approving ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
But if, indeed, our Glad Tidings be veiled, they have been veiled to those who are perishing [lost], to those unbelievers whose minds the God of this age blinded, in order that they might not [or, so that they cannot] see clearly the effulgence of the Glad Tidings of the Glory of the Anointed One who is the likeness of God." (`2 Cor. 4:1-4`).
The above rendering in the Diaglott brings to the surface of this passage a beauty and meaning, more difficult to grasp from the common translation. How true and forcible this expression, and how applicable to the Glad Tidings as now seen shining out in fullness and beauty, declaring our Father perfect, not only in Wisdom and Power, but also in Justice and Love.
Very much of what is preached today as Gospel, is far from being glad tidings. Instead of revealing the glory of God's character, a vast amount of what is taught, like rubbish, almost conceals the truth held, and dims and tarnishes God's justice and his love by misrepresentation; and though instilled into men from childhood, it does not commend itself to the conscience of even its advocates. In proof of this, we quote the following from the pen of that good man, Albert Barnes, who, alas, was much blinded by the deceptions which the Prince of this Age had engrafted on theology before his day. Were he living now and brought in contact with the glad tidings now shining, probably he would rejoice in the light from the Word of God."
Mr. Barnes says:
"I see not one ray to disclose to me the reason why sin came into the world, why the earth is strewn with the dying and dead, and why man must suffer to all eternity. I have never seen a particle of light thrown upon these subjects that has given a moment's ease to my tortured mind, nor have I an explanation to offer or a thought to suggest that would be a relief to you.
"I trust other men, as they profess to do, understand this better than I do, and that they have not the anguish of spirit that I have; but I confess, when I look on a world of sinners and sufferers, upon death-beds and grave-yards, upon the world of woe, filled with hearts to suffer forever; when I see my friends, my parents, my family, my people, my fellow citizens;--when I look upon a whole race, all involved in this sin and danger; when I see the great mass of them wholly unconcerned; and when I feel that God only can save them, and yet he does not do it, I am struck dumb. It is all dark, dark to my soul, and I cannot disguise it."--Albert Barnes' Practical Sermons, p. 124.
Of the Glad Tidings which we proclaim --some publicly, some privately--it is true that we repudiate the darkness and traditions of men brought from the "dark ages"--"not walking in craftiness [substituting traditions for God's Word], nor falsifying the Word of God--[wresting, twisting and ignoring Scripture] but by the EXHIBITION of the TRUTH approving ourselves to every man's conscience. Not that all will acknowledge the force, grandeur and harmony of our teachings, but we may be sure that "in the sight of God" all who hear and carefully weigh these Glad Tidings will in their hearts approve it as reasonable and beautiful; unless, as the Apostle here remarks, the God of this age [Satan --`John 14:30`] has blinded their eyes. If our glad tidings be hid-- veiled, obscured--it is not the fault of the glad tidings, for to all who can see, it is glorious, harmonious and bright. Where it comes and cannot be seen, the fault is not in the light but in the eye.
As originally created, man was in his Creator's mental likeness: Justice, Mercy, Love, etc., in man were the same in kind as in God: so much so that they could and did, even since the fall, reason together on these subjects (`Isa. 1:18`). But from the very outstart Satan's policy seems to have been to blind men. He blinds and obscures and obliterates, as far as possible, these God-like qualities in them; and in addition seeks to misrepresent God's character, and thus hinder their recognition of these qualities in Jehovah.
Looking about us to-day we see people thus blinded everywhere, and from various causes. Some worship the work of their hands. In them the moral qualities--justice, love, etc., are almost extinguished. These retain scarcely any of the image of God, in which man was created. They are almost totally blind: yet in their blindness they are "feeling after God, if happily they might find him," as Paul expresses it (`Acts 17:27`). Another class he blinds in an opposite way--with pride and liberty of earthly wisdom, science falsely so called. Vainly puffed up by their own wisdom, this class often become fools, who say in their hearts "There is no God" (`Psa. 14:1`).
Another class who escaped his arts as applied to the two classes just mentioned, Satan seeks to blind in yet another way: this class has caught some glimpses of God's character; they see a little of his power, but to his justice, wisdom and love, they are blinded by Satan who, by mixture of dishonoring falsehoods with their little truth, conceals the grandest elements of the divine nature. Those thus blinded cannot appreciate the glad tidings. This is no less true of many called Christians today, than of religionists in past centuries.
When Jesus wanted to point out the blind in his day he did not mention the heathen, but the favored people of Israel, and especially the Pharisaic Doctors of the Law. It was to these he said that they were "blind leaders of the blind" (`Matt. 15:14`). Satan's method by which he blinded the Pharisees, was the same which he now uses with such effect on a similar class. Jesus mentions their cause of blindness--"Ye have made the commandment of God of none effect through your traditions" (`Matt. 15:6`). Satan could not get Israel to forsake the law and become idolaters, therefore he took the opposite course, and by multiplying the forms and ceremonies of religion, he satisfied their consciences, while he blinded them to the spirit, or true meaning of the Law. So now, with the spread of general intelligence, Satan keeps changing his tactics to hinder the light of the glad tidings from being appreciated.
For a time, through Papacy in the dark ages, Satan had succeeded not only in blinding men by religious forms, but in almost extinguishing the glorious light; for he had almost destroyed the Lamp itself--"Thy Word is a lamp." Bibles were destroyed until it was supposed that none remained. But God, though permitting the prince of this world to reign, did not leave men in total darkness, and soon the fires of the reformation began to light up the world and scattered much of the darkness.
But our wily foe, unable to restrain the light (the truth) transformed himself into a seeming angel of light (messenger of truth). He led the reformation into success, pride, and worldly honor, and introduced a worldly spirit so as to blind them in an opposite direction. As Israel had the Law, these have the Bible; but they glory more in printing Bibles, owning Bibles, and reading Bibles, than in studying and understanding them. Bibles are bought and worshiped and occasionally read; but the creeds of past ages and traditions of the Fathers are studied and practiced. Satan now, unable to hinder the publishing of Bibles, endeavors to have them read through creed-tinted spectacles. These will blind them so that the light of the glorious glad tidings can scarcely be discerned.
Many who have been led to see some light, are blinded by fear; they fear to let their light shine; they fear to let any one know that though once blind, now they begin to see. These wear their goggles when others are in sight, and take them off a few moments when alone. They have the spirit of bondage and fear which bringeth a snare and blindness upon them again. Such are not worthy to be of the Bride, the Lamb's
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wife, as Jesus said: "Whosoever is ashamed of me and of my words... of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels" (`Mark 8:38`).
Let the dear saints who by the truth have been translated out of darkness into this glorious light wherein we stand and rejoice, give special heed to another blinding influence. We have known some who had clean escaped from all those snares and blindings, and who had seen much of the glory of the glad tidings, who were still pursued by the adversary, and again brought into bondage and darkness, being led into spiritual pride and ambition; and such the adversary harnesses into the service and blinds to the truth, by engaging them in manufacturing and spreading fancied new light which has foundation and support neither in hoary tradition nor in Scripture, and whose only passport is that it is new.
Of such are some of the modern theorizings on the Atonement, which strike at the very foundation of the Christian's hope, and are blinding and overturning the faith of some.
Some others are blinded by prosperity: Satan throws them handfulls of gold, and their eyes become so fastened on it, that soon the glories of the glad tidings begin to fade from view, and they, too, are in outer darkness. Others are blinded by the cares of this life. They are made to appear necessities, so that all the energies of life may be absorbed in the things which perish; and that the heavenly things, being neglected, may fade from view. Let us beware of every blinding influence and keep the one thing constantly before us, saying as did Paul: "This one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (`Phil. 3:13-14`).
THE PERISHING BLINDED ONES.
Thus seen, the blinded ones, not only embraced nearly all of Jesus' day, but nearly all of every age since; and the Apostle says they are the perishing --the lost. What does he mean? Some tell us he means that all these billions of blinded ones are going to a place and condition of eternal torture because blinded by Satan. We answer, no; they and we were ALL lost--perishing in death because of Adam's sin--and the difference between those who SEE by faith the glorious promises of God, as though already fulfilled, and those who are blinded by Satan so that they cannot see, is, that those not blinded have joy and peace through believing, and are reckoned SAVED both by God and themselves, while the blind are still in the lost condition--still under condemnation, even though Christ died for them. The benefit of Christ's death becomes applicable to each, as he by faith grasps Christ's sacrifice as the "propitiation for our sins." The blinded ones are unable to realize the ransom, hence are still among the lost or condemned.
But we inquire, Shall it be thus forever? Will Jehovah forever permit the god of this world to blind men, so that, though the sacrifice for sin has been given, the blinded cannot see and take the benefit of it, by accepting their share in it?
Oh, no; there comes an end to the reign of "the god of this world." He who redeemed men is commissioned to "put down all rule and all authority and power" other than that of Jehovah (`1 Cor. 15:24,25`). The great clock of the Ages has just tolled the close of Satan's 6,000 years' reign: the appointed "heir of all things," Christ--Jehovah's vice-gerent--is present, and the binding of the great blinder--the prince of this world, the prince of darkness--is commenced. When he is bound and shut up for a thousand years that he may not deceive and blind the nations during the reign of Christ, think you will the mass of the world be blinded still? If it required his continued arts to prevent the true light of the gospel from being seen, what will be the result of his binding? Surely it will be, sight to the blind.
To this agree the words of the prophet: "Strengthen ye the weak hands and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart be strong, fear not: Behold your God shall come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you." "THEN the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped."
The RANSOM for sin will then be clearly seen, "and the ransomed of the Lord (all who will accept of Christ as the propitiation or satisfaction for sin), shall return (from the lost and perishing condition) to Zion (God's fortress) with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; THEY shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." (`Isa. 35`.)
Does some one inquire why the god of this world was so long permitted to blind mankind to the glories of God's character and plans? We reply that it was not long in God's estimation. A thousand years are to him but as one day--as a watch in the night. Then, too, he had an object in permitting Satan's reign. It furnished bitterness and distress to men in their experience under sin, which prepares them to appreciate the true light and reign of righteousness when due. And the blinding of the many served to develop and select the choice first-fruits unto God and the Lamb, the "little flock," who are to be joint-heirs with Jesus Christ their Lord, who shall share with Christ the glories to follow. They are to share in the bruising of Satan (`Rom. 16:20`) and in blessing and restoring of sight to the blind.
It was referring to this future healing of the deaf and opening of blinded eyes of the understanding, that Jesus said to the disciples: "Greater works than these shall ye do." Thus far Jesus' disciples have never done greater works than his for the blind and lame and sick but in the dawning Millennial Day, they with him shall do the greater works--they shall not only heal the bodies but the minds of men.
In fact Jesus' miracles were also types of spiritual blessings yet future, as we read: "These things did Jesus, and manifested forth (showed beforehand) his glory" (`John 2:11`). The glory of Jesus is still future and will be shown "when he shall come to be GLORIFIED IN HIS SAINTS, and to be admired in all them that BELIEVE IN THAT DAY." (`2 Thes. 1:10`). That coming glory was foreshadowed by his miracles. When it is remembered that very many of his miracles, in fact most of the notable ones, were done on the seventh or Sabbath day, it will be seen that this also was typical, and foreshadowed the fact that the great healing time would be the seventh thousand years--the Millennium--the
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great Sabbath of rest in Christ, in which the world will be reinvigorated and perfected for the eternal ages of sinlessness to follow.
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"JUDGMENT TO COME."
It is a common thing to hear people talk of "the judgment day," as though there were but one judgment day, and that was in "the world to come;" or, if we were to state it according to the popular theology, we should say the world to which we go, meaning by the word we, all mankind. We understand this misconception to come from not "rightly dividing the Word of truth."
There is no doubt that there is another world, or state or being, to which Jesus our blessed Redeemer and Lord has gone "to prepare a place" for us, and, when so prepared, "will come again" and receive us unto himself. (`John 14:23`.) But the word us does not apply to the world in the sense of embracing the whole human race, as is clear from a following `chapter (16:20`): "Verily I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament (at his absence), but the world shall rejoice; and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy." Again, in the `15th chap., 18 and 19` vers., Jesus says: "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own, but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."
We think no one can fail to see a clear distinction made here between "the world" and a class for whom Jesus was about to go and "prepare a place." He was to prepare the place, and they were to be prepared for the place through the teaching of the Holy Spirit, "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him."
They (the disciples) were to become acquainted with the Spirit of truth, not the letter only, but the very nature of truth, the truth itself, should be their guide (`John 14:17,26` and `15:26`), enabling them to judge themselves according to the "law of sin and death," and according to "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus." They see that, according to the law of sin and death, they are condemned to death because the account of sin stands against them in "the books," and it is a just account, and they acquiesce in it; but the Spirit of truth reveals to them the glorious fact that, by the law of the Spirit of life in (through or by) Christ Jesus," they are redeemed (liberated) from the law of sin and death; that the race is to live again in a coming age on account of this ransom; but that now (during the gospel age) those who hear and believe this may stand clear of the account, "made free from the law of sin and death," (because if they believe it, they will love the Redeemer, and condemn sin) and be reckoned NOW, what the world shall realize in fact, alive in (by, on account of Christ. (`1 Cor. 15:22`. --Diaglott.)
But here a seeming difficulty arises; it is asked, how it is that they are made
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free from the law of sin and death and yet have to die? But, it must be remembered, that they are already dead under the law of sin (i.e., legally), but they are to be saved from (out of) death, not from dying. This is to be a fact with the world in the coming age, and, to him who believes it now, it is now reckoned, i.e., he is reckoned as having suffered the penalty of the law of sin, and as having been restored to life by "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus." His faith causes him to walk according to "the Spirit of life." "There is, therefore, NOW no condemnation" to such an one.
Such have ears to hear the gospel invitation to the higher life, the "high calling," which involves the consecration of that redeemed and restored nature, to death, with Christ. This call to the higher life, to be made a "partaker of the divine nature," is not a command, but is a "holy invitation," a glorious privilege, to suffer and die with Christ that we may be also glorified together.
This, then, is a part of the present judgment (trial) of this world, the judgment which is now in progress among "the elect," and this judgment will exempt them from any further judgment ("condemnation"). (`John 5:24`.)
But there is another order of judgment going on now (to which we referred in the last number) in which the rulership of this world is being judged, and is about to be cast out, and then will follow the judgment to come. (`Acts 24:25`.)
But, does some one ask, if the human race are judged twice? We answer, most certainly they are. A little thought will convince any one who is familiar with the Scriptures that this is the case, for all men have been judged once already; for "it is appointed unto men once to die;" that is, one judgment; for man would not have been condemned to death unless judged to be transgressors of some law, and "after this (still another) judgment." Not for the same transgression surely. What was the first judgment and sentence of the race for? For the sins of the fathers. The "fathers ate the sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge." (`Jer. 31:29`; `Deut. 5:9`.) For the whole human race suffer now for the father's sins, or because they sinned? Yes, in a certain sense, (i.e., in Adam) yet not altogether for their individual sins, but the nature of the fathers, being polluted by sin, is transmitted to the children who come under the sentence of death for having the nature (disposition) to do just as the fathers did; as rebels in heart, they are under sentence of death. Then it is not for actual transgression that men die? Not for that only, but it is for the disposition to transgress. (`Matt. 5:28`.) The inherited taint renders them unfit to live, because with such a nature they cannot keep God's law. (`Rom. 8:7`.) Then, will the judgment to come consign them to eternal death, or eternal suffering, because they did not keep God's law in this age or life? Surely not; for it was their inability to keep it that caused their death, and called forth the mercy and love of God the Father and Son, who found a ransom for them, and brought them from death again, and restored to them what they lost in Adam. But will all that was lost in Adam be restored? Certainly; there will be a restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets." (`Acts 3:21`; `Ezek. 16:44-63`; `Jer. 31:16`, &c.) But if all that was lost in Adam is to be restored to all men, does some one ask what is the incentive to a holy life now? The incentive is exceedingly great; it is even an opportunity and the only one--we see no "second chance"--to attain unto the divine nature--IMMORTALITY. During the gospel age is the accepted time for that (`Luke 4:19`; `2 Cor. 6:2`); and if any one receiving an invitation to that "high calling" fails to make his "election sure," it will be an eternal loss, one which can never, NEVER be retrieved, though it should be "sought carefully with tears."
All men will be restored to what was lost in Adam, unconditionally, "for since through a man, there is death, through a man also there is a resurrection of the dead; for as by Adam all die, so by the anointed also, will all be restored to life" (`1 Cor. 15:21,22`.-- Diaglott.) But to this "high calling" there are "hard" conditions; it is a reaping where he "had not sown." The conditions are so hard that but few will accept them, for the conditions are even sufferings and death; not of the old nature, already under sentence of death, but of the perfect human, like what Jesus had, and with which the believer is credited. But those who accept these hard conditions do so "for the glory set before" them, and are passed from death (legally, out of) into life (`Mark 8:35`), and shall not come into condemnation" (process of judgment) again. (`John 5:24`.) But all the rest of mankind will come "after this" into judgment.
That they will have a future trial, i.e., probation and judgment, is clear from several scriptures to which we have referred, and from the fact that man suffers the penalty of sin (death) before the "judgment to come;" hence the judgment to come must be after probation to come; for how can judgment (krima, an accusation charge) be brought concerning a transgression for which penalty has been suffered, and from which the subject has been redeemed? They were cast into prison (death, the penalty) till they should pay the "uttermost farthing." A redeemer paid it, and they are free. Who shall now condemn again for that? But now, with a knowledge gained from bitter experience, may come another probation which shall be a success. The first probation was in a representative, Adam, by whom all die; another, Christ, represented them, and by him all live again, (in a resurrection) and from that onward the probation is every man for himself. Herein we discern the thought of Paul when he said (`1 Tim. 5:24`): "Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment, and some they follow after."
The works of the little flock composing the mystical body of Christ are manifest, and are judged beforehand (the first and second man, the man Adam and the perfect man in Christ Jesus, are both judged beforehand, i.e., before the "restitution" race are). "There is, therefore, now no condemnation of (judgment against) them which are in Christ Jesus," (the little flock) nor will there ever be, for the rule by which men will be judged in the coming judgment will be the same as that by which they are judged now, viz.: the law of God as embodied in the holy Scriptures, which will then be "opened" to the understanding of all and no longer sealed (`Rev. 20:12`); so that he who is unjust or unholy according to that law, will forever stand so judged by it, until he becomes changed or restored in his nature. And let no one vainly think that in the judgment to come there will be any other standard, for he who is unjust now, by the same standard, will "be unjust still." (`Rev. 22:11`.)
But there is one notable element that will necessarily be left out of the "judgment to come;" that is, the element of redemptive or propitiatory sacrifice, or representative suffering. Christ having offered one sacrifice (of this kind) for sins, forever sat down on the right hand of God, from henceforth expecting till his ENEMIES be made his footstool," (`Heb. 10:12,13`), i.e., as we understand, instruments of service, not members of his body. So, we understand, there will be no more offerings of this kind, hence no more forgiveness of sins; every one who shall be subject to that judgment (trial) shall expiate his own sins. Stern justice will preside then. Christ having died to save that which was lost, namely, the ability to keep the law, that, being restored, man will be required to keep it or be beaten with many or few stripes according to the extent of his transgressions. These stripes will not be vindictive but reformatory. Verily "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God;" yea, "Fear him, which, after he hath killed, (and brought again from death) hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, fear him." (`Luke 12:5`.) This is the "fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries" ("eat up" opposition). (`Heb. 10:4`.) Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire?
The Christ of God "will not fail nor be discouraged till he have set judgment (right) in the earth (`Isa. 42:4`); and yet he will not break the bruised reed nor quench the smoking flax, but will bring forth judgment unto truth (right according to truth). None will suffer for the sins of their fathers then as is now the case. (See `Ex. 34:7`; `Deut. 5:9`, and human experience all around.) It will then no more be said, "The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge," but "the soul that sinneth it shall die." "The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son." (`Ezek. 18:20`.) No one will die again on account of another; no one live again on account of another.
But the inquiring mind naturally asks, Why was not this course pursued with man in the first place? We answer that God is just, and it would not have been according to his law of justice to imperil and hold man to such a strict account, without a possibility of redemption, UNTIL he had had experience with sin, and become acquainted with its awful results; but now, after having learned the exceeding sinfulness of sin, (which is the great lesson now being taught to the world,) and having (when brought again from the dead) ability given to keep the law, it is but justice to require it, and to attach a penalty, as at first, to the violation of it.
In the beginning the judgment was, "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die," and then and there a Saviour, Redeemer was provided, a city of refuge for him who had unwittingly forfeited his life. But we are not told of any such Saviour, city of refuge, in the age to come. True, "Saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau" (`Obad. 21`), but these saviours we understand to be
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typified by those who judged Israel, and will be leaders and guides, kings and priests, but not Redeemers.
So, a similar judgment is to be given in the coming age, that was given in the beginning, for violation of God's law, viz.: death. This is the "second death," from which we are told of no resurrection; at least, if so, we are not aware of it. But he who in this present age having died with, or in Adam, is awakened of the Spirit and consecrates himself to death with Christ (this would be his second legal death), is not hurt of it, for he shall "find it" again in the first resurrection. (`Mark 8:35`; `Rev. 2:11`; `20:16`.)
O, blessed thought, that "Righteousness and judgment are the habitation (base) of his throne."
"O, that men would praise the Lord for his goodness and for his wonderful works to the children of men."
J. C. SUNDERLIN.
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"AFTER DEATH THE JUDGMENT."
We believe that to the great majority of mankind (to all except the Church), their judgment or trial will be after death--after the Adamic death--has been legally cancelled, and is being swallowed up of life, as is well expressed in the foregoing article by our brother; but the text at the head of this article so frequently used as it is by our brother, in the foregoing article, as the proof of that coming judgment, we object to, because it is used by the Apostle to teach a totally different thing, as may be seen from a careful examination of the entire argument in which these words were used. (`Heb. 9:6-28`.)
Paul's argument is to those who were familiar with the typical service of the typical sanctuary. In their typical service, there was a remembrance made of sins each year; and each year on the Day of Atonement a typical sacrifice was offered which never actually put away sin, but which was merely typical of the real work to be done afterward by Christ. For the blood of bulls and goats could never put away sin, and they were merely figures or illustrations for the time of the real sacrifice, "The Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world"--who "put away sin by the sacrifice of himself."
It was arranged of God, that the entire process of atonement for man's sin should be presented in types or patterns for our instruction, that the man of God should be thoroughly furnished. Accordingly, they had the Most Holy to represent the presence of Jehovah-- heaven itself; and the death of Christ was illustrated by the priests every year --they using animals to represent themselves in death. When the bullock, which was "for," or represented the Priest, was killed, it represented the death of the priest, and thereafter the priest represented Christ as a "new creature," and took the blood--the evidence of his sacrifice of his former self --with him into the Most Holy, to present it as the ransom price for the people's sins, and thereby to procure for the people God's forgiveness of their sins and future favor.
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But, as these men in this work were to typify Christ and his perfect work, that must be shown; hence the law, that if the priest failed to offer exactly the proper sacrifice, and in a proper manner, he would die at the second vail and not be permitted to enter the Most Holy, and hence would fail to make atonement for the people's sins, and to come out to bless them. But, if every thing was perfectly done, the priest and his sacrifice were accepted of Jehovah, and the blotting out of sins and blessings of the people followed. It will be seen, then, that with these men who for years had typified Christ in the consecration or killing of the animals which represented them--after this representative death--came their judgment or trial. Was it perfectly done in all respects? If so, their judgment would be favorable, and they would come forth to typically absolve the sins of the people and bless them.
As thus in type it is appointed for these men (priests) to die representatively, etc., SO ALSO Christ was once offered--died really--to bear the sins of many; and it was needful, as shown in the type, that he must go to have the sacrifice accepted in the Most Holy. We have evidence that he lives in that Most Holy, or perfect spiritual condition, which is proof to us that his was an acceptable sacrifice, and that in due time he will come forth with a blessing for all, for whose sins he paid the ransom price--his own life.
The Apostle's reason for making this argument is obvious. The Jews derided the idea of a Saviour dying without saving them, expecting that Messiah would reign in great earthly power and splendor. Paul shows them that Christ must needs first suffer to purchase --redeem--before he could save and bless, and that this had all been shown in the types of the Law. As it is appointed unto men (your priesthood) first to die and then to go into the Most Holy, etc., BEFORE the blessing could come, SO ALSO it is with Christ, of whom your men were but types or shadows. (See also "TABERNACLE" pamphlet, p. 61, and TOWER of October, 1880.)
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THE UNMERCIFUL SERVANT.
This parable has been urged by some as in opposition to the necessity of Jesus' death as our ransom, or substitute, in the settlement of the Adamic penalty. They argue that this parable teaches the contrary, that God FREELY FORGIVES all Adamic sin, and hence neither requires men to pay it, nor yet that Jesus should pay it for us, the just for the unjust. But this is a false presentation of the teaching of this parable, and results either from having a theory which they seek to prop with some seeming scriptural evidence, or from a too careless examination of the parable.
The parable does not relate to dealings between God and the world of sinners; but between God and his covenanted children, called here, as elsewhere, "bond-servants." They are those who have already been justified from Adamic guilt by Christ's ransom, and who have consecrated themselves to God to be his servants forever. These are acquainted with the will of their king and know how, through weakness of the flesh and temptation, they have failed to render to God all which their covenant calls for, and when they have gone to the Father and asked [as members of the body of Christ--in the name of their head] for mercy, they have always found him very merciful and he forgave them and said, Go in peace: as Jesus said, "Whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He will do it."
In return, it is expected that such shall be ready to exercise the same leniency toward their fellows. If they do not, they need not expect any leniency from their Father in the matter of their covenant keeping, but must be kept to the strict letter of it, and will be delivered over to trouble and distress in the present life sufficient to make them sympathize with the weak and erring.
The same lesson is taught in the Lord's prayer. Forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. It is the church which prays "Our Father"--the church already made free from Adamic guilt.
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"After these things I saw, and behold a door opened in heaven, and the first voice which I heard, as of a trumpet, speaking with me, saying: Come up hither and I will show thee the things which must come to pass hereafter. Straightway I was in the Spirit." [Revised Ver.]
When we listen to the description of a scene, as told by two or more observers, it is of much importance that we know both the time and the standpoint of the different witnesses. The chapter we are about to examine comes under this rule.
In the Book of Revelation we believe that John, personally, always symbolizes the beloved disciples--the faithful in the Church--who are alive at the time required by the events described. We think the Master referred to this in `John 21:22`: "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me." "This saying, therefore, went forth among the brethren that that disciple should not die; yet Jesus said not unto him that he should not die, but if I will that he tarry till I come, what is it to thee?" If we observe the standpoint from which John sees each vision we will know that of the class he represents.
Verse first tells us that the vision is of things "after" the events of the preceding chapter. The last period was while the Lord stood at the door knocking [being present, of course,] and when he is about to spue out of his mouth the present proud and worldly Church.
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That process has begun, so that it is now due that the class symbolized by John should, in a symbolic sense, be caught up and enabled to see things from a purely spiritual standpoint.
In John's first vision, while he is given a glimpse of hidden things, he remains on the Isle of Patmos. Patmos means mortal. This symbolizes that the Church of John's day could only see coming events from a mortal standpoint. Now he--rather we, whom he represents--are "caught up" in the spirit of our minds, and see spiritual things from an exalted position never attained to before.
John's vision, then, as described in this chapter, shows events as seen by us, or rather so many of us as have attained to this standpoint or spiritual position. This is in a sense the beginning of John's visions. At the first revelation made to him he saw only our Lord and the lamp-stands; the messages were delivered to him in words. From this time forward he is allowed to see events and conditions in a series of vivid pictures--the clearest way of representation.
He sees an open door in heaven. What heaven? When Paul was shown visions of things to come he was "caught up [better, snatched away] to the third heaven." (`2 Cor. 12:2`.) John also saw at last the third heavens and earth fully established. As most of our readers know, the progression of these so-called heavens is not upward, but onward. The first heavens and earth were before the flood; the second, this present evil world and its ruling powers (first and second are under Satan); the third, the new heavens and earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. The third will be under the rule of Christ and his saints. It is during this latter that all the glorious promises of peace and prosperity will be fulfilled. "His rest shall be glorious." This dispensation of the kingdom of God is symbolically termed a new heavens (government) and new earth (subjects) in contradistinction from the heavens and earth which now are, "The present evil world," or order of things. It was to this Millennial kingdom that Paul was caught away in vision (`2 Cor. 12:2`).
As the powers of the third heaven take possession, the powers of the second are "shaken" until they are destroyed. (`Matt. 24:29`; `Heb. 12:26`.) The Lord tells us in `Matt. 24:31`, that after he has come he "will send forth his angels with a great trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds." (See also `1 Thess. 4:16,17`.)
It is evident, then, that the open door which John saw was the entrance to the third heaven--the first step toward the place of power for those whom John represents. What brings them there? John says that the first voice which he heard was as of a trumpet, which said: "Come up hither."
During the sounding of the seventh trumpet, under which we now are, the announcement was made: "The kingdoms of this world are become those of our Lord and of his Christ." (`Rev. 11:15`.) The prophetic word has shown us that the Christ has come, that he has entered upon his reign. Believing this, and knowing what the result would be in the earth, business has been sacrificed and pleasure relinquished that we might know and spread the truth. Every new truth received and cherished has been a stepping-stone upward. The Lord has been our Guide, and we have been led into "green pastures."
The first object to meet the gaze of John is that of a glorious King seated on his throne. This is the Father, the "Ancient of Days." He is "to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone." The jasper is supposed to mean the diamond. It is described as "most precious" and "clear as crystal." Being the most brilliant of all the gems, it fittingly symbolizes the glory of God; the light (luminary, or source of light) of the New Jerusalem. (`Rev. 21:11-23`.) The sardine is a stone of a red color. We think it here symbolizes love, which is the underlying element in all God's actions--tinging the glory through which it shines.
The throne is encircled by a rainbow "like unto an emerald." A rainbow is the "token" of a covenant. (`Gen. 9:12-17`.) The queen or emerald color probably symbolizes freshness and vigor; that God's plans are, like nature in the spring-time, filled with life, and continually developing and unfolding-- blossoming into luscious fruit for the sustenance and pleasure of His creatures.
We are now introduced to
THE TWENTY-FOUR ELDERS.
Around the throne of God are seen twenty-four thrones, on which are seated twenty-four elders. Many opinions have been given in regard to who these symbolize. With present light we present the following: It is clear that, being symbolic, they cannot be individual saints. It cannot well be the Church of the first-born, as they appear under another symbol. It is unlikely that they represent angels.
There have been, as we count, twenty-four prophets that have prophesied of "things pertaining to the kingdom of God." Their testimonies here seem to be personified, exalted and enthroned. The two witnesses of `Rev. 11:3-12` are evidently the Old and New Testaments thus personified, as we think we can clearly show when we come to them. They, too, were exalted to (symbolic) heaven--the place of honor and authority in the Church.
These twenty-four witnesses for God, while now more or less despised and disbelieved, will yet be proved true and faithful, and will thus be similarly exalted in the sight of all men. (Comp. `Luke 10:15`.) As yet, we only are enabled thus to see them. They are clothed in white, denoting purity. The crowns of gold symbolize their divine authority.
At the present time the Church, in a great measure, ignores their witness-- failing to understand it. In the future reign both the Church and the world must bow to their authority, as they will then have lost the privileges that were promised in the New Testament.
"Out of the throne [of God] proceed lightnings and thunderings and voices." These refer to the mutterings of the tempest which is already gathering over the Church and the world. Others beside ourselves see the approaching storm, but they fail to recognize from whence it comes.
Before the throne are seen seven lamps of fire burning, which are the seven spirits of God--the seven (perfect or complete number) channels through which God is about to manifest his power. If we compare carefully `Rev. 1:4,12,20`; `2:1`; `3:1`; `5:6`, we find that they are the church of the first-born. These were called from the beginning "the light of the world," but from henceforth they are to "shine forth as the Sun in the kingdom of their Father." (`Matt. 13:43`.) These, too, are to be the honored instruments by which he will smite the nations, pour out his plagues, and shed light and truth upon mankind. "This honor hath all his saints." (`Ps. 149`.)
In full view of the throne is also seen "a sea of glass." This sea is soon to be mingled with fire (`Rev. 15:2`). From our standpoint it is transparent. The sea represents the unfettered, irreligious masses of the people. We are enabled to see clearly the internal forces that control them, what they are about to do, and why they do it. We can see that the fire is "already kindled." We see it smouldering in their breasts, ready to break out, a wild, unquenchable whirlwind of flame, when the due time comes. The whole matter is clear as crystal from the standpoint of those who are walking in the light.
Around and in the midst of the throne are seen the four cherubim or living ones, here translated "beasts." Before we can understand what they represent here, we must take a glance at what is revealed in regard to them in earlier times.
These strange creatures are first brought to view in `Gen. 3:24`, where they appear with flaming swords as the guardians of the way leading to the tree of life. They are next seen at each end of the mercy-seat on the ark in the wilderness (`Ex. 25:18`). In the most holy of the temple two new representatives of immense size were placed, between which the ark was set. (`1 Kings 6:23`.) They were seen in vision by `Isaiah (6:2-6`) and by `Ezekiel (1:5-16`; `10:1-21`). They are always connected with the immediate presence or with the throne of God. Evidently at the entrance to Eden they represented or accompanied the presence of God. (compare `Gen. 4:3,16`.) Isaiah and Ezekiel saw them as supporting or carrying the throne or chariot of Jehovah.
Looking at the mercy-seat as representing this chariot or throne, the same idea is expressed in the relation of the cherubim to the ark--both in the tabernacle and temple. (See also `1 Chron. 28:18`. `2 Chron. 3`.) Jehovah is frequently spoken of as dwelling between or above the cherubim. (`Ex. 25:22`; `Num. 7:89`; `1 Sam. 4:4`; `Ps. 18:10`; `Isa. 37:16`.
Some who have failed to recognize them as symbols, have supposed that they were a high class of angels, a kind of body-guard of the Most High. He has no need of such. He dwells amid admiring and adoring worshipers.
What, then, do the cherubim symbolize? We think they personify the attributes of God. Scholars have suggested a number of attributes. We think that there are just four which are fundamental, namely: Power, Wisdom, Justice and Love. These four include all others. For instance: independence, omniscience, holiness and benevolence are dependent on or similar to the above mentioned in their absolute perfection as God has them. On these his throne is represented as being supported.
When the way back to Eden was closed by "the cherubim," it was not
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only the act of his power and justice; it was also done by wisdom and love. "Cursed is the ground for thy sake" was the utterance of love and wisdom. Idleness destroys; activity develops. The latter made the Greeks, even in a rugged country, a finely developed people; while idleness ruined Rome, with the treasures of the world at her feet.
In the tabernacle two small cherubim appear. They are a part of the mercy-seat and seem to grow out of it. Before we can appreciate this picture we must remember that the tabernacle represented things as they exist during the Gospel age: the temple, as they will
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be during the Millennial age. Again, the picture is not as seen from God's standpoint, but from that of the church. The mercy-seat in a sense represents Christ. Many who cannot see the love and justice of God apart from Christ, believe that they are somehow bound up in him. These two attributes of God are very indistinct to them; they cannot see them; except that in some manner, too deep for their understanding, they are blended in Christ. Again, previous to the advent of Jesus, even the love is hidden; only the "stern" justice appears. The love was in Christ, but was not yet made manifest. Previous to the atoning sacrifice the picture appears like this. The mercy-seat is the place of justice--but man has been proved guilty. Until satisfaction has been made there is no hope. Power and wisdom--the two cherubim--stand at either end, their wings uplifted as if ready to fly to the rescue, but their feet are held by justice. They cannot move. They look expectant toward the mercy-seat, waiting, watching for the blood of atonement which shall set them free to do their willing work. But these cherubim are said to over-shadow the mercy-seat. This is also true, for if the blood of atonement is not forthcoming, they stand as the guardians of justice and the terror of the evil-doer.
In the temple, which represents the church in the Millennial age, two new and very large cherubim were made. [Probably nearly twenty-one feet high.] They are represented as standing on each side of the ark, their outer wings touching either wall, and their inner wings touching each other, thus filling the whole expanse. (`2 Chron. 3:10`.)
These two new cherubim would seem to represent the other two attributes that had been so obscure before, but are now made glorious by the additional light of the new dispensation. [There was one lampstand in the tabernacle and ten in the temple.] The chief work of the Millennial age will apparently be to show that these two glorious attributes --love and justice--are not lame or impotent; they stand upon their own feet; they are independent, yet in perfect harmony, and that they are "of one measure and of one size." (`1 Kings 6:25`.)
We cannot in this follow minutely the description of the cherubim as seen by Isaiah and Ezekiel, neither have we sufficient light as yet, but we will notice a few points that are easily seen. These two prophets seem, like John, to represent the living saints. To them "the heavens were opened." (`Ez. 1:1`; `Rev. 4:1`.) They see "visions of God," and Jehovah sitting upon a throne." (`Isa. 6:1`.) They see the cherubim around and under the throne. They hear them rest not from crying, "Holy, holy, holy," etc. That is, we now see that all of God's attributes are in perfect harmony, and that in ceaseless chorus they are sounding forth his praise, and revealing the fact that "the whole earth is full of his glory,"--to those who have their eyes opened. We are sent to preach, as the Lord's new mouth-piece, a message that is offensive to "a rebellious house," even to those who believe themselves to be the "Israel of God." It is a message of "lamentations, mourning and woe." (`Ez. 2:10`.) We are given the book to eat. [What a blessed feast it is!] It is "like honey" in our mouths; but having been digested, it leads to self-denial, to crucifixion, to death. (`Ez. 3`; `Rev. 10`.)
We realize our weakness, but when the hot coal from the altar touches our lips, we are ready to answer, "Here am I, send me." The message is, "Go and tell this people: Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not." "Declare fat the heart of this people, and its ears declare heavy, and its eyes declare dazzled," etc. [Young's trans.] "Then, said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate." (`Isa. 6:5-13`.) At the voice of the cherubim the door posts of the temple move, and the house is filled with smoke (`Isa. 6:4`; `Ezek. 10:4`; `Rev. 15:8`.) [For an illustration of this see "Seven Last Plagues," ZION'S WATCH TOWER, June, 1883. The four faces of the cherubim will be treated when examining `chap. 6`.]
In `Rev. 4:9-11`, John hears the cherubim "give glory and honor and thanks to him that sitteth on the throne," and immediately the twenty-four elders fall down before him, saying, "Worthy art thou, our Lord and our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power: for thou didst create all things, and because of thy will they are and were created" [`Rev. 4:11`].
When we can hear the power, wisdom, justice, and love of God proclaiming in perfect harmony the glory and honor of our Father, then indeed his twenty-four witnesses ring out his praise as never before, and we realize that he created all things, both good and evil, and that they exist by his permission and shall ultimately work out his pleasure. W. I. M.
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"And I saw in the right hand of Him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the back [or outside] close sealed with seven seals, and I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a great voice, Who is worthy to open the book and to loose the seals thereof? And no one in the heaven, or on the earth, was able to open the book or to look thereon."
From John's exalted stand-point he is enabled to look both backward and forward over the landscape; and that he may better understand God's dealings he is shown the unfolding of the plan from the first. Hence the events of this chapter carry us back to the beginning of the Christian dispensation.
When Ezekiel and John are said to have received the scroll, or book, it was open (`Rev. 10:2`; `Ezekiel 2:10`). At this date, but at the stand-point of this view, it had not yet been opened. The book signifies the plan and purpose of God as written in the law and the prophets. It was sealed perfectly (with seven seals) until Christ began to open it.
When the disciples asked our Lord, after his resurrection, in regard to the plan, he answered: "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power, [or grasp] but you shall receive power [to understand] after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you." (`Acts 1:7-8`). Life, immortality and sonship have only been seen since that time (`2 Tim. 1:10`; `John 1:12`). A mighty angel, with a great voice, cries: "Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no one in heaven or on the earth [symbolic] was able to open the book or to look thereon." Probably this angel symbolizes the Law, which, from the time of its deliverance through Moses, had been proclaiming as unworthy all who sought to overcome by it.
The faithful are represented as weeping because of the obscurity and want of knowledge in regard to the plan. "And one of the elders said unto me, Weep not, behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath overcome, to open the book and the seven seals thereof." This elder proves to be the old patriarch Jacob, who made the prophecy on his death-bed when blessing his sons. (`Gen. 49:8-12`).
John now sees "in the midst of the throne" and of the living ones and the elders "a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain." We recognize at once the One whom John the Baptist introduced to the Jews as "The Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world." He comes and receives the scroll out of the right hand of the One sitting on the throne. Not until he had passed the last test, had endured "to the end," had risen in victory a spiritual body, had been caught away in glory, did he receive the wonderful scroll which "the angels desired to look into."
Ten days after our Lord ascended, the Holy Spirit was given, which at once began to unfold the truth to the church. When this took place John saw the four living ones and the twenty-four elders falling together before the Lamb, each having a harp, with which they sing a new song, saying, "Worthy art thou to take the book and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood [men] of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and madest them to be unto our God a kingdom and priests; and they [shall] reign upon the earth."
When it was seen that these all acknowledged and testified of Jesus, it was indeed a new song and a glorious one; and when we listen to the beautiful harmony as the melodious chords ring out from all the golden harps, our prayers and thanksgiving go up in the sweet incense from the golden bowls they have brought us. It is glorious news to the called of the Gentiles. Many are striving hard to find a way to prove themselves Israelites after the flesh. How much more glorious to belong
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to the spiritual family who shall inherit the divine nature and attain to the rank of the royal priesthood "after the order of Melchisedec"!
As the vision of the restitution of all under the dominion of Him who "shall be a priest upon his throne" (`Zech. 6:13`), rises before John, he seems to turn and look down the stream of time to the glorious consummation of the plan of salvation; and, lo, the messengers that are in the presence of the throne, even myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, he heard saying with a great voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that hath been slain, to receive the power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing." And as the wave of thanksgiving and praise floats out over the world, the whole creation catches the strain and joins in the song: "And every created thing which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and on the sea, and all things that are in them, heard I saying, Unto Him that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb, be the blessing and the honor and the glory and the dominion for ever and ever. And the four living ones said, Amen. And the elders fell down and worshiped."
W. I. M.
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THE OBJECT OF OUR LORD'S RETURN.
[At the request of some of the readers, we will publish reports of six discourses delivered by the editor in Allegheny City in 1878, published at that time in some of the public prints. The edition of "OUTLINES OF SERMONS" published some time ago is exhausted. To those whom we have been obliged to refuse we suggest, that this series may meet the approval of some of you and to some extent serve your purpose. Below is the first one of the series.]
Why does the Lord return? We do not ask if he will return, for as every Christian student of the Bible well knows that is one of the central themes of the Apostles' teaching--the coming of our Lord and our gathering together unto Him. It was repeatedly used by Jesus to comfort the disciples--"I will come again and receive you unto myself."
But while all are agreed as to the fact --the manner and the object are subjects upon which there is great difference of view. As we are now dealing with the latter--the object--let us examine the various leading views on the subject, of which there are six. Four of these views make the coming of Christ "a coming" in name only-- devoid of a personal advent. The other two views hold that the coming is a personal presence, but differ regarding its object, etc.
First--Among the former, we find the chief to be, that death is the coming of Christ. The holders of this view scarcely know why they think so. Simply, they have that idea. This is the most unscriptural of all views, for while not a single text supports it, there are hundreds to contradict such a thought. The church is everywhere taught to look for and "love His appearing," while death is pronounced an enemy. "The last enemy which shall be destroyed is death." "For this purpose Christ was manifested that He might destroy death." Substitute the second coming of Christ for the word death in this passage, and what would you have?
A second view is--That the power manifested on the day of Pentecost evinced Christ's return as having taken place, and to be a coming in spiritual power and energy to His people. Such forget that Jesus characterized this as the coming of another, consequently not of himself, when he said, "I will pray the Father, and He shall send you another comforter, even the Spirit of Truth." There is a sense in which the Spirit represented Christ during his absence. For instance Jesus declared that he would be present with the twos and threes gathered in His name (`Matt. 18:20`). This He has done by the Spirit; comforting those who came seeking His blessing. In the same spiritual sense He has abode with His church all the way down; as he said, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age." `Matt. 28:20`. Yet, personally, he was to be absent until the end of the age, as he taught.
A third view is--That Christ came at the destruction of Jerusalem, because Jesus mentions His coming in the same conversation in which He refers to the destruction of Jerusalem. Overlooking the fact that three distinct questions are asked by the disciples, (`Matt. 24:3`), which received separate answers. Jesus gave them to understand that His coming was not imminent; there would be wars, etc., but the end is not yet. He said, "Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom," (`Matt. 24:7`). This was not fulfilled before the fall of Jerusalem, for until that time and for long after the Romans held the nations in the quiet and peace of servitude. Again, he says, "These good tidings of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole inhabited earth (NEW VERSION) for a testimony unto all the nations; and then shall the end come." This has only been fulfilled during the last few years. America, Australia and some other large portions of the world were probably unknown to the early church. Then He mentioned certain signs and said, "When YE see ALL these things then know that it is nigh, even at the door." This generation (the one seeing these signs) shall not pass away until all these things are fulfilled. The generation then living did not see all those signs.
Further, John the Revelator, who wrote some 26 years after the destruction of Jerusalem, was ignorant of Christ's having come, and Jesus himself also, for while one says, "Behold! I come quickly," the other answered, "Even so, come Lord Jesus." (`Rev. 22:20`).
A fourth view is--That Christ comes in conversion of sinners; so continually coming, more and more. This cannot be what Jesus referred to when He said, "All the tribes of the earth shall mourn and wail because of him when they see him coming." Do they mourn and wail when a sinner is converted? The chief objection to the four views just mentioned is that the real personal coming is ignored. Of the two classes who hold to a personal coming of our Lord, one is called Pre-millenarian [before the Millennium], and the other Post-millenarian [after the Millennium].
Of the latter class are most of so-called orthodox Christians. They believe that he has been coming all the way down in the growth of the church and the advancement of science and civilization, but that he will also come personally to crown his triumphant church, when she shall have put down all opposing authority and power; and that he, through her efforts, will put all enemies under her feet. Others, who claim only a personal coming, believe, in about the same order of events; that through the missionary labors of the church the world will be converted and thus usher in the millennial age, at the close of which the Lord will come, wind up earthly affairs, reward believers and condemn sinners. They have much scripture which, if taken disconnectedly, seems to favor this view. But even these we believe, when God's word and plan are looked at as a whole, will be found to favor the view we are advancing, viz: That Christ comes before the conversion of the world; that the church is now being tried, and that the reward promised the overcomers is: that they shall share in this reign:--"To him that overcometh will I give to sit with me in my throne." (`Rev. 3:21`.) "And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years." (`Rev. 20:4`). "Ye which have followed me," etc. (`Matt. 19:28`).
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"If we suffer with Him we shall also reign with him." (`2 Tim. 2:12`).
There are two texts in particular used by our Post-millennial brethren to which we would refer. One is, "This gospel must first be preached in all the world for a witness. Then shall the end come." They claim this to mean that the gospel will convert the world before the end of the gospel age. We, Pre-millennial believers, claim that witnessing to the world does not mean converting the world, that the object of the present witnessing is principally "To take out a people for His name," the church, who at Christ's coming are united to Him and receive His name. (`Rev. 3:12`.) The `other text` is--"Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." The thought generally gathered from this Scripture is, that in heaven God has a throne on which He sits continually, and then when "Christ sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on High," He sat down also upon the same throne. This is a misconception. The throne of God as referred to is not an ivory or golden seat, but refers to His supreme authority and rulership, for "Heaven is my throne and earth is my footstool," and Paul says, "God hath highly exalted Him (Christ) and given Him a name above every name," etc. He has given Him authority above every other, next to the Father. If Christ sits upon a material throne until His enemies are made His footstool, (all subdued) then of course He could not come until the Millennial reign was fully inaugurated. But if it means the exalting to power, it
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would not interfere with His coming and subduing all things unto Himself."
"Right hand" signifies the chief place --position of excellence or favor. And the words of Jesus to Pilate agree with this thought: "Hereafter ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." (`Mark 14:62`). He will be on the right hand when coming and remain at the right hand during the millennial age.
These two last named views demand a thorough examination. There are able arguments possible on both sides; yet both are not true. We propose, therefore, to take a glance at the plan of God for saving the world, believing that in so doing we shall find the relation and bearing of both the first and the second comings, and know where to locate the latter.
First, then: Has God a plan? All must agree that He has; although, almost all are inclined to think and talk of His dealings as though He were dealing by a rule of chance, and governed entirely by circumstances. No; He that would condemn a man for building a tower without first counting the cost, shall He build and people a universe without matured plans and due forethought? No, brethren, "known unto the Lord are all His ways from the beginning." God has a plan or purpose, and we know that "all His purposes shall be accomplished." But how shall we find that plan? It is revealed to us in God's Word. "Search the Scriptures," as Paul says. "Compare Scripture with Scripture," for
"God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain."
We are too much inclined to ask What does my church say?, about any question, instead of "What saith the Scriptures? Too much theology is studied and the Bible not enough. With the thought, then, that "The Scriptures are able to make us wise," that the "Testimonies of the Lord are sure, making wise the simple" (teachable), and that "all Scripture given by inspiration of God is profitable, that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished," let us study.
Notice first that the Scriptures divide human history into three great successive periods, called "The world that was," (the age ending with the flood), "The present evil world," (the age commencing at the flood and ending with the coming of Christ a second time), and lastly, "The world to come," (the age commencing with the second coming of Christ) the endless age, or "World without end." This arrangement is not mere fancy, but is strictly scriptural. A proper understanding of these ages enables us to "rightly divide the word of truth," and it seems impossible to understand his plan without first recognizing them.
Peter mentions all of them. (`2 Pet. 3:6,7,12`.) Paul speaks of "the present evil world, and of the world to come." Jesus also distinguished between them, and calls the devil the prince of this world, (`John 14:30`), and promised reward to His faithful followers "in the world [or order of things] to come, etc.
While Christ has all power in heaven and earth, for wise purposes, He has not heretofore made use of it, permitting evil to reign and measurably control the world, and the devil to be "prince of this world," or order of things. But the time is promised when "He shall take to Himself His great power and reign," exalting His church and giving her "power over the nations," so that instead of as now, being "subject to the powers that be," she shall "rule the nations."
But when will He thus assume control? When the Gospel church, "His body"--Ecclesia--is complete, evil now being permitted, for the trial of faith, and the perfecting of the saints. This time is synchronous with the sounding of the "seventh trumpet." (`Rev. 11:15`.) Here the mystery (church) of God is finished--and "the kingdoms of this world" become the kingdoms of our Lord and His anointed (church). Now, we inquire, is this transfer of authority from Satan to Christ caused by the conversion of the nations to Christ through preaching the Gospel? We answer, no; at this time the nations are not converted. See the `eighteenth verse`: "And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come." If converted, they would not thus be hostile, neither would God's wrath come upon them. On the contrary, God teaches in many Scriptures that a great time of trouble will come upon the nations. "Come, behold the desolations which the Lord hath made in the earth; He maketh wars to cease unto the ends of the earth." (`Psa. 46:8-10`). This is the way God tells us He will make wars to cease. The next clause informs us that then He "Will be exalted among the heathen and in all the earth." This chastisement of nations is designed for their good, and is as necessary to them as chastisement to the children of God now, and it will have this effect; for "When the judgments of the Lord are abroad in the earth the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. (`Isa. 26:9`). It is in this new dispensation that, with Evil or Satan bound, the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth as the waters do the sea." The conversion of the world, instead of being due now, while the devil is "prince of this world," will, David says, be "When the kingdom is the Lord's and He is the Governor among the nations, (then) all the ends of the world shall remember, and turn to the Lord, and the kingdoms of the nations shall come and worship before Him." (`Ps. 22:27-28`).
"The present evil world" contains three separate ages; the Patriarchal age, lasting from the flood to the death of Jacob; the Jewish age, lasting from the death of Jacob until the death of Christ --when He gave them up, wept over them, and said: "Your house is left unto you desolate." (`Matt. 23:38`.) The Gospel age, lasting from Christ's baptism and anointing until the full company of "the church of the first born" is complete, and He comes--the "sounding of the seventh trumpet, the resurrection and reward of saints and prophets." (`Rev. 11:16`.)
We know not how many ages may be in "The World to Come," but that there is more than one we are assured, for Paul speaks of "The ages to come." (`Eph. 2:7`.) The first of these alone is dealt with in Scripture--the millennial age, during which the saints shall live and reign with Christ a thousand years. (`Rev. 20:4`).
Having gotten an outline, let us look more particularly at God's doings and sayings; and now, I will astonish you, doubtless, until you reflect, when I say that, according to His word, God is not now trying to convert the world, nor has He been during past ages. What has He been doing? "Taking out a people --Church--for His name." Don't think this wonderful, as it is only putting in a striking form what all Calvinists believe, among whom are Baptists, Presbyterians and others, viz: That God is now electing--or choosing His Church out of the world. Yes, and all our brethren who believe in free grace must admit that if "all His purposes shall be accomplished," and "God's word shall prosper in the thing whereto it was sent"; if these Scriptures are true God did not purpose the conversion of the world during the past 6,000 years, else it would be accomplished. Neither did He send His Word to convert the world up to the present time, else it did not prosper in the thing whereto He sent it. These two views have been dividing points in the churches for centuries, viz: Election and Free Grace.
We believe the Scripture to teach both, but that it requires the observance of "Heaven's first law," order, to rightly divide the Word of truth on this subject.
There is no scriptural account of God's giving mankind any law, nor but very little light of revelation during the age preceding the deluge. One promise shines out: "The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head"; but even this required future revelation to be comprehended. God had, however, a few faithful servants, some of the patriarchs, who had light above the masses; these shone as lamps in a dark way.
The Patriarchal age had increase of light. It was now revealed that this seed was not only to crush evil (the serpent) but to "bless all the families of earth." Still God's church was represented by but one man at a time--Noah, Abraham, Isaac, etc.
These Patriarchs were elected or chosen. "God called Abraham, and said," etc. Abraham and his kin was called. His parents were idolaters. He had many sons and daughters, but only one son was chosen. "In Isaac shall thy seed be called." "Of Isaac's two sons, only one was chosen, "as it is written (says Paul, `Rom. 8:11 and 12`), Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated" (loved less). God chose before they were born, "That the purpose of God according to election might stand." Now, remember, I do not say that God elected one to go to heaven and the other to hell. Far from it. We will talk of Esau's portion and the non-elect on a future occasion.
At Jacob's death another advance step in God's plan is taken, and typical or fleshly Israel is formed. From this time one man no longer represents God in the world; but a nation; all the sons of Jacob and their posterity. And now we have an elect nation or church, and God gives all His special blessings to it. Other and larger nations--Egypt, Chaldea, &c.--are passed by; left without light and without knowledge, while these are given to Israel. "What advantage then hath a Jew? Much every way, chiefly because to them was committed the oracles (laws and testimonies) of God." This is Paul's statement. (`Rom. 3:2`). God speaking to them says: "You only have I known of all the families of the earth." (`Amos 3:2`). This people alone was recognized, and this continued until Christ came,
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and after that--until for lack of faith they were given up and their house left desolate.
During Christ's ministry he preached to them and would not suffer His disciples to go to any others, saying as he sent them out, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not." Why so, Lord? "I am not sent save to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." All His time was devoted to them until death, and here was his first and grandest gift, not for Israel only, but for all; for Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man. (`Heb. 2:9`). And now, also, in the Gospel age, a certain sort of election obtains. Some parts of the world are more favored than others with the Gospel (which is free to all who hear). Contrast yourself with your privileges and knowledge with yonder heathen man who never yet heard the call.
When this called-out company (called to be the "sons of God," "heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord"--"our high calling") is complete, then the plan of God for the world's salvation is only beginning. Not until then can THE SEED "bruise the serpent's head" and bless all the families of the earth. For the seed is not Jesus, the head alone, but the church also, which is His body, as Paul informs us (`Gal. 3:29`), "Which seed is Christ; and if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." The same company are to bruise the serpent. (`Rom. 16:20`.) "The very God of Peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly."
The Gospel age makes ready the chaste virgin (church) for the coming bridegroom. In due time the bridegroom comes and they that are ready are united. The second Adam and the second Eve become one, the new creation and the glorious work of elevating mankind in the world begins. The river of living waters will flow from the New Jerusalem--the symbol of the glorified church (`Rev. 22:1-3`). Then the conversion of the world will be due. The church, now the "espoused virgin," will then be "the Bride, the Lamb's wife," and, with her Lord, she shall share in ruling, teaching and restoring mankind from the curse. Then shall the Spirit and the Bride say, come! and whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." (`Rev. 22:17`). What is now a "well of water in you," will then be a bountiful river--enough for all. Thus seen, the object of the Lord's return is to exalt and glorify his Bride--the elect church--and with and through her to "bless all the families of the earth."
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CHRISTIANITY VS. CHURCHIANITY.
We are living in an age of shams and counterfeits. Satan seems to have abandoned the hope of crushing out the Christian Church by a process of undisguised hostility, and now seeks to destroy her efficiency by stealthily draining off her vitality, and robbing her of every supernatural element. He "transforms himself into an angel of light," and often assumes to be the special friend and guardian of the Church. Craftily he infuses his deadly virus and inculcates his plausible philosophy, until the moral perception is obscured, the conscience is distorted, and policy runs nearly the whole ecclesiastical machinery. Thus a popularized religion--which costs nothing and is worth nothing--is readily accepted, while the old religion of the cross is utterly discarded. The consequence is, that there is religion enough, and Churchianity enough, but a great famine for real Christianity. We meet with thousands all over the land who, if catechised in regard to their spiritual condition, reply with much self-assurance that they are members of such a Church. They assume that the Church is an ark of safety; and, once ensconced within her enclosures, all further anxiety ends. Let us try to unmask this dreadful delusion of the devil.
There is a difference, we may premise, between the real and the nominal Church of Christ. The former is composed of all true Christians. Its boundaries are therefore invisible, as no man can tell exactly where to draw the lines. The latter is composed of those who assume the Christian name and practice the ordinances of God's house. It is commonly called the visible Church, because its boundary lines are known. The epithet may apply to a single local society of a given denomination, or to the aggregate of local societies of all denominations. We use the term, in this paper, to designate the outward or visible Church.
1. Christ and the Church are not identical. There may be ten thousand Churches, but there is only one Christ. Nor can all those Churches supply the place of our one, blessed, all-sufficient Saviour. A man may be saved without the Church, but he cannot be saved without Christ. A man may be in the Church and not be saved; but he cannot
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be in Christ without salvation. Sinners sometimes become members of the Church; but only saints are members of Christ. A person may live in the Church for years, with the old heart of carnality and selfishness; but "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature."
The requirements of the Church are often wrong and ruinous; but the claims of Christ are always reasonable and right. The Church may become a sink of pollution; but Christ is ever the perfection of purity. The Church may be rent with divisions; but Jesus Christ is not divided. The Church may become terribly entangled in mysticism and error; but Christ is always the embodiment of light and truth. The Church may change her name and her nature; but Christ is "the same yesterday, to-day, and forever." The Church may be a crutch to walk with, but she is a poor Christ to trust in for salvation and eternal life.
2. Christian worship and Church worship are not identical. Vast multitudes cling to some Church establishment as a drowning man would cling to a life-boat. They bow obsequiously to her priestly and official mandates, and imagine that the blind servility which they tender to the Church will be accounted acceptable service offered to Christ. The simplicity of the Gospel is lost in the imposing forms and glittering accompaniments of modern churchism. Splendid church edifices attract the eye. Splendid music charms the ear. Splendid prayers are addressed to the CONGREGATION. Splendid sermons please the fancy, and leave deluded sinners to slumber on. Church rivalry has achieved a glorious success, if success consists in gorgeous temples, tall steeples, loud-sounding bells, thundering organs, ostentatious dressing, theatrical singing, pointless praying, rhetorical preaching, careless hearing, and unscriptural practicing!
Much of the current worship is done by proxy. Lazy religionists surrender their sacred rights to others. They take it for granted that the preacher is on the right track, and readily swallow whatever may be doled out from the pulpit, without using their own brains in searching for the hidden treasures of truth. Thus religious ideas are transmitted from generation to generation, until tradition exerts a more powerful influence than the Bible in molding the sentiments of men. There comes to be a fashionable faith, as well as a fashionable dress. To embrace a certain stereotyped circle of doctrinal views entitles a man to the claim of "orthodoxy"; but let him not venture one step out of the beaten track, if he would not be denounced as a deluded heretic! But few have the moral courage to question the decisions of the Church, much less to discard what she has labeled as "orthodox." The verdict of a few leading denominations has thus grown up into a threatening tyranny; and the multitude cannot think of stemming the mighty tide. So they bow down in their narrow enslavement and worship this curiously-fashioned but pious-looking idol--the Church! Since all idolatry is an abomination to God, we have no more right to worship a church than we have to worship a golden calf! We rob the Lord of his rightful honor, and ourselves of the highest bliss of Christianity, by looking to the Church too much, and "looking unto Jesus" too little. What can be done to deal a staggering blow to this cruel church-worship of the day, and at the same time give us more exalted and ravishing views of Jesus Christ? There is a grand failure to carry out the ultimate design, when the appliances of the Gospel result only in the production of Churchianity. Our perception, our prayers, our faith, and our adoration must overleap the narrow precincts of the outward Church, and rise up to the eternal throne! "Worship God!"
3. Christian fellowship and Church fellowship are not identical. The followers of Christ are called upon to "love one another with a pure heart fervently." Indeed, this is one of the Scriptural tests of discipleship. "We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren." All Christians constitute one family, and love is the golden tie designed to bind their hearts together around the common cross. But love is a tender plant that needs to be reared with a hand. Hence the many exhortations of Scripture to "consider one another" --to "be kindly affectioned one to another"--to esteem others better than ourselves--to "bear one another's burdens" --to exercise a forgiving spirit-- to "let brotherly love continue"--to "endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace." All such injunctions point out the danger of alienated feelings and poisoned affections, and show the importance of making a special effort to promote Christian unity and love. How disastrous are the results of not regarding these Gospel precepts!--A. A. Phelps.
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Ques. A Brother writes to heartily endorse our expressions in last issue relative to the Inter. S.S. Lessons, etc., and asks, Can we not have a lesson leaf for children which would rightly present the Scripture teachings to them?
Ans. In our opinion Sunday-schools and all kinds of schools are good and useful in proportion as they teach anything valuable or useful. Let children be taught morality of every sort, and instructed in the first principles of the Gospel, and all they can understand concerning God's character, and of the harmony between God's two revelations-- the book of nature and the book of revelation. Thus they will be prepared for useful and honest lives as men and women --loyal and obedient to their Creator and Redeemer.
But we who are in training for the high calling cannot turn aside from the special work of this age--the work of preparing "the Bride, the Lamb's wife." The Bride is to make herself ready; and just at the present moment, when the last touches of adornment are being put on preparatory to the wedding, every member's service is required in this all-important, present work. Soon our exalted position of heavenly power with the Lord, will enable us to render substantial aid to all work, for the blessing and elevating of humanity. The very work for which we are now in preparation is the restoring and blessing of all the families of the earth.
To all saints who have a talent for teaching and explaining, and who see the truth clearly, we suggest that you "cast your net on the other side of the ship" and become fishers of men and women rather than of children; and fish for one class only, viz.: the consecrated in Christ Jesus, and to these do as did Aquilla and Priscilla to Apollos --show unto them "the way of God more perfectly." (`Acts 18:26-28`.) It is the eleventh hour, but go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right shall be your reward. It is too late now to expect fruit for this vintage from new slips, but you may be of service to the older fruit-bearing branches by tearing off some of the old withered leaves, and thus letting in the sunlight of grace and truth with power to ripen their fruit.
Ques. Is it possible for a parent to cast all care on Jesus and not be worried about the future condition of grown children, who, though members of the nominal church and free from gross sins, yet manifest much love for the world and have no appetite for spiritual things?
Ans. We think that a proper appreciation of the Lord's character and plans, while it would not lead to carelessness in using every opportunity to reach him that hath an ear to hear, yet would be free entirely from worry. Under all circumstances let us give thanks.
In the first place, probably your sons and daughters, like thousands of others, are not new creatures in Christ--old things have not passed away and all things have not become new to them; hence they would not be heirs of spiritual, heavenly things. For this reason God does not reveal to them things which they cannot have. No such human eye hath seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man the things which God hath in reservation for those that love him [the consecrated "new creatures"]. But God hath revealed these things to the new creatures by his Spirit. (`1 Cor. 2:9-10`.)
Being of the earth earthy, they shall in due time be blessed by being restored to the perfection of the earthly condition, and to a perfect enjoyment of earthly blessings, because redeemed by the precious blood. In their resurrection (or perfecting) they shall come fully to the image of the first man, "very good"; but those who, through consecration, have changed their nature, will be no longer men, but "new creatures"-- spiritual beings--and shall bear the image of the Head of the heavenly house when perfected. As was the earthly one, Adam, such like will they be also that are earthly: and as is the heavenly one, Jesus, such like will they be also that are heavenly.
The difficulty is, that the church, having misconstrued the Gospel's present mission to witness to the world, and to develop a "little flock," came to the conclusion that she must NOW convert the world, hence she has bent her energies in that direction, and almost ignored the deeper work upon the "little flock." The work of converting the world being slow, she naturally concluded that she must not be too particular as to whom she received, else she would seem to make no progress. Accordingly she lowered her standard. Therefore many persons have been told that they are Christians, and invited to join church, who never were converted, and know nothing about entire consecration. Such are not new creatures, and, consequently, cannot sympathize with the rules of self-sacrifice laid down in Scripture for the little flock. As such constitute, probably, three fourths of the membership of the nominal church, it is not surprising that spirituality and spiritual truths are at such a discount in it.
Again, we say, rejoice--rejoice that you may overcome and be of that spiritual seed which shall bless and restore the nations. Rejoice that your children are moral, and do all that you can to supply them a basis for morality in the expression and illustration of God's character in your words and conduct. Rejoice as you think of the blessings to come upon them and all mankind when the kingdom is the Lord's and he is the governor among the nations. Rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks: "For he is good--His mercy endureth forever." "Blessed is the man that trusteth in him."
Ques. Please let us know your opinion of the very distinct physical features of the present day, such as cyclones, sun spots, etc. I know your position concerning political and religious changes as fulfilling the scriptural statements of the shaking of the heavens, earthquakes, etc., but not concerning these physical phenomena?
Ans. We understand that great physical as well as political and religious revolutions are now in progress. Just what these are, may not be very clearly seen, but these are as certain to bring a blessing to earth as the others, though, like them, the change may be attended with distress and temporary confusion.
It seems certain that to make the earth into a paradise like Eden, such as the prophecies picture, and a fit place for the restored race, some great changes of climate, etc., must occur. Looking back, we find that some important changes of climate, etc., took place at the time of the Deluge; a change which at once affected the longevity of humanity, for before that life averaged 500 to 1,000 years, but immediately afterward it was shortened. (See `Gen. 6:3`; `9:29`; `11:32`.) Furthermore, we learn that until the flood, there had been no rain on the earth, it being watered by a mist instead. (`Gen. 2:5,6`.) These changes occurred at the end of the first world or dispensation--at the beginning of "The present evil world," or dispensation--and we think that a proper time to expect another change to a better condition would be at the close of the present evil dispensation, at the threshold of "The world [dispensation] to come," wherein dwelleth righteousness. That these changes will be sudden we do not believe, but think that the all-wise Director of the work has so planned that physical and higher changes run parallel and keep pace with each other.
As we find the forty years, from 1874 to 1914, A.D., prophetically marked out as the time for the change of earth's administration, it would seem not unreasonable to suppose that the proper physical changes might occur during the same period. "Not that we expect all changes to be completed in the specified forty years, but that by that time the new systems and arrangements will be thoroughly introduced, which will be gradually improving, and will reach absolute perfection at the same time that mankind in general will reach absolute perfection by restitution. Thus the perfect earth and its perfect Lord (man) will both be prepared to enter upon the ceaseless ages of perfection into which shall never enter sin, death, pain or sorrow.
So, then, to us let the physical contortions and quakings and tempests and angry waves, speak of the better condition coming, just as the social revolutions speak of a more blessed time coming to the groaning creation who shall be delivered into the liberty of sons of God. (`Rom. 8:21`.)
Whirlwinds or cyclones are disturbances occurring in the air or heavens-- caused by disorders therein, and which exercise a baneful influence upon the earth. These physical disorders illustrate the origin of much of the world's trouble; it will be caused by disorders in the symbolic heavens or church normal. Notice how this trouble and whirlwind are symbolically mentioned by `Jeremiah 25:29-36`. Notice how the chief distress is specified as coming upon the nations [governments] and upon the shepherds and principal of the flock--nominal.
Ques. Why was the brazen serpent used as a type of Christ?
Ans. Undoubtedly to teach and develop faith. But we presume you to mean, Why was the serpent used as a symbol of Jesus? We answer, that the serpent represents sin, evil--the curse and brass (copper) represents the human nature. (See Tabernacle Tract.) This was a fitting type of Jesus, because as a man he was made sin (i.e., reckoned and treated as the personification of all the evil and sin of the race, as their representative or substitute) for us (He) who knew no sin.