VOL. XXIII. JUNE 15, 1902. No. 12.
Views from the Watch Tower........................179
The Unrest in Russia..........................179
Concessions to Young People...................180
Social Emancipation Leads Not
The Progress of Ritualism.....................181
Presbyterian Creed Revision.......................181
The Text of the New Creed.....................181
Let Us Put On the Armor of Light..................187
High Time to Awake Out of Sleep...............189
The Armor of Light............................189
Interesting Questions Answered....................191
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* * *
Some have inquired respecting the double readings in certain places where there seems to be little difference in the wordings. We answer that the upper reading represents the Common Version and the lower the Revised Version--even when the difference is merely in the spelling or italicizing of a word or a change in the punctuation. The aim of the Linear Bible is to present the two versions complete and distinct in one Bible; and the work is faithfully accomplished.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
THE UNREST IN RUSSIA.
UNDER THIS heading the London "Spectator" (a very conservative journal) gives further details of recent occurrences and grounds for expectation that some sort of a revolution in Russia is rather to be expected soon. It represents the Czar as the helpless and unwilling tool of the Russian nobility, and points out that the latter may feel forced to go to war in order to awaken "patriotism," and keep its hold on the government. Evidently Russia will hold together as a great nation for some time, for it seems indicated as one of the leading actors, up to the close in the great time of trouble impending. We give some extracts from the "Spectator," (May 3) which go to show that the least enlightened of the civilized peoples of the world is awakening and getting ready for the great affray,--as follows:
"Accounts of the unrest in Russia grow more serious. It is stated that the sufferings of the peasantry in the South, the most populous and richest division of the Empire, involve actual hunger, and that in the provinces of Pultawa and Kharkoff the peasants have proclaimed 'war to the castle.' Eighty residences of landlords have been sacked, and the local officials are so terrified that the Minister of the Interior, M. Plehve, has gone himself to the disturbed districts to brace up the bureaucracy. The artisans everywhere are clamouring against their employers, who, poor people, find orders so short that they recently appealed for Government help, and circulars have been discovered directed against the 'foreign devils' who as foremen and overseers try to execute the owners' commands. The students have, it is said, circulated a forged ukase bestowing the land on the peasantry, and the leaders of the artisans have formulated their demands, which are the ordinary demands of English workmen, with the significant exception that they ask for a day of ten and a half hours. It is reported, moreover, that the 'moral tone' of the non-commissioned officers can only be trusted when they are peasants, and that peasants of sufficient cultivation are not always in the ranks. Altogether, there is an ominous stirring among the dry bones, society in St. Petersburg and Moscow is divided, and there are furious dissensions among the group around the Czar.
"The unrest is more serious even than we thought....As far as we can ascertain, the case stands thus. There has
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been all over Southern Russia, where, be it remembered, the mass of Russian cultivators, have since the emancipation elected to live, a fall in prices so serious that the peasant cannot pay either his taxes or his debts, which nevertheless are relentlessly exacted.
"There have always been agitators in Russia, and just now they are very numerous, the educated having convinced themselves that they must convert the cultivators before anything will be done to modify the system. They, therefore preach insurrection as a panacea, and are holding out to the peasants the hope that the land, which they, like Irishmen, believe would belong to them if right were done, will be restored by decree. They have even, if a correspondent of the Morning Post may be trusted, resorted to an expedient not without precedent in Russian history, and have forged a ukase from the Czar bestowing the land upon them by what they themselves regard as a supreme fiat.
"UKASE OF HIS MAJESTY THE EMPEROR NICHOLAS."
"My grandfather now resting in God, the Emperor Alexander, by abolishing serfdom gave you peasants liberty, and at the same time divided the land among you. The magnates of the land, however, were discontented with this, and they brought the land again into their possession, and thus robbed you. The country which, for a needy wage, you cultivate in the sweat of your brows is your own land, and the corn in the barns of your oppressors is your corn. I love you, and as I desire to be a just Emperor I allow and command you to demand back your property and to divide it among yourselves as your legal possessions. If they refuse to give it to you peaceably, then take it from them by force, together with the cattle in their stalls and the corn in their barns."
"In the peasant's eyes this is simple justice, and he demands the land of the stewards, who, and not the landlords, manage the estates. Being refused, and probably mocked, he seizes any arms he can find, and proceeds to destroy the
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chateau and its papers....If their feeling spread to the Army the cataclysm so long dreaded for Russia would have arrived, and the Empire so slowly and so strongly built would be thrown into the crucible."
The same journal elsewhere says:--
"THE UNREST OF THE CONTINENT."
"The dry bones are stirring on the Continent in a way which, even if the ultimate result should prove not to be great, should keenly interest all politicians. We write in this country about Continental 'Socialists,' and 'Collectivists,' and 'Radicals,' and 'riotings,' but those familiar words do but obscure the great general movement actually going on. Everywhere, except perhaps in Switzerland, those who work with their hands, including in all countries the agricultural labourers, and in some a large section of the peasants besides, are expressing with violence three ideas: one that they are overworked, another that they ought to have, and therefore will have, more physical comfort in their daily lives, and a third that they can alter neither toil or payment for toil until they become an effective force in the government of the country. The cause of the rapid growth of the first idea is still obscure, for men who are not yet old can remember when the governing notion of the immense majority was that a working man when not eating or sleeping was bound to be at work, --a notion which still rules throughout the greater part of Asia. We fancy the change is one consequence of the small modicum of education which has at last filtered down to the bottom, but of the revolt against the traditional opinion there can be no doubt whatever."
CONCESSIONS TO YOUNG PEOPLE.
CHICAGO, April 25.--"If the clergy of the Methodist Episcopal Church expect to keep their young men and women in the field, they must do away with their restrictions against card playing, dancing and attendance at the theaters. If they are not allowed to follow the dictates of their conscience they will attend churches where they will be allowed to do so or they will not attend church at all."
This, in substance, was the declaration set forth at the dinner last night at the Union League Club, attended by sixty-five prominent Methodist ministers and laymen of Chicago. The proposition received general discussion, in which Bishop J. W. Hamilton, L.D. Condee and Robert Quayle took leading parts. Mr. Quayle said:--
"If we do not take active steps toward arousing interest in the church on the part of our young men and women we shall stand alone in our old age; there will be none to take the burden from our shoulders when we pass away. If we seek to bind the young people down too closely or draw too tight a rein we cannot hope to keep them with us.
"I recommend that all laymen and clergymen to whom the interests of the Methodist Church are dear organize around this question and insist that at the next general conference the present regulations and restrictions be removed." --Washington (D.C.) Star.
SOCIAL EMANCIPATION LEADS NOT TO GODLINESS.
We often hear of the prosperity of Australia, and of its people being farther advanced along lines of social emancipation than are others;--indeed, that in it the poor man's interests receive greater consideration than in any other land on earth. A reasonable question is, To what extent are these blessings working out spiritual advantages? The following article, sent us by a brother who resides there, and who endorsed the sentiments expressed, is from an Australian journal, the Northern Advertiser. It shows deplorably immoral conditions,--such as we must expect everywhere in proportion as prosperity, short hours and idleness prevail. Evidently that feature of the curse which declares, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread," was necessary to our race in its fallen condition.
We could not hope that a Millennium of the kind generally wished for and expected by the world, would be a real blessing. Our confidence inspired by God's Word is, that when those blessings and releases which he has promised, come, the Kingdom of God will be here in power; and that it will enforce righteousness and a proper use of the liberties and blessings it will bring;--until all shall have had full opportunity to develop characters. Then whoever shall not have reached the place of loving righteousness and hating iniquity, will be cut off in the Second Death.
The fact that present-day blessings are producing an increase of crimes and a lowering of moral standards, is in full accord with the Scriptural portrayals of the ending of this Gospel age.--`2 Tim. 3:13`.
The article follows:--
"The increase of crime, not only in the State of Western Australia, but also all over Australasia, is a matter of deep regret to the community as a whole and must cause those responsible for the moral and religious well-being of the people profound pain as well as distress. Crime is rampant everywhere, and the cases that are tried in our law courts only too plainly manifest the corruption of society and the loss of moral influence in restraining from vice. There is no effect without its cause, and hence the cause of the moral decadence of our people should command careful and prudent inquiry.
"That our boasted civilization is only a sham it would be idle to deny. The list of crimes which weekly fill the newspapers of the Commonwealth is only too direct proof of the low standards of our people, socially and morally. Vices that would disgrace pagans are common amongst us, and crimes that make us hang our heads with shame are committed with comparative impunity. Laws, both human and divine, are scouted and openly violated. The principles of honor and good faith are ignored and ridiculed. Theft, embezzlement, fraud, forgery--without mentioning more revolting crimes--are seemingly the appreciated pastime of a numerous class that live and thrive in our midst. The guide of conscience is apparently lost. People take oaths now-a-days without any reference to conscience. Moral responsibility is not generally recognized, and, as a consequence, our downward grade is yearly becoming more and more pronounced. Drunkenness, of course, is prevalent everywhere, and Bacchus is worshipped in every city, town, hamlet, or camp in Australasia. Excessive drinking, no doubt, leads to crime, but drunkenness will not account for the low state of civilization which is perceptibly ruining Australian society. The cause which is effecting such dire calamities must have a deeper depth than even drunkenness itself, baneful as that vice is in its effects.
"No one can view the moral state of Australia without feelings of dismay. Christianity, it cannot be gainsaid, is fast losing its influence, and in its place we are substituting
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a gross form of paganism, and being dominated by a corroding system of infidelity which, if not arrested, will compass the complete destruction of society. Crime in Australia is alarmingly on the increase, and if the friends and admirers of Christian civilization do not make a bold attempt at stemming the visible torrent of vice, there is a danger of their being carried away in the fast approaching cataclysm of shocking immorality."
THE PROGRESS OF RITUALISM.
The New York Sun commenting on this subject, says:--
"On Easter Sunday the Washington Heights Baptist Church (New York) started the innovation of a vested choir of sixty voices, with cassock and cotta and the women wearing also mortar-board hats. That is, the vestments are the same as in Episcopal churches. The introduction of
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such a choir into the Metropolitan Methodist Temple, a year ago, proved so successful, apparently, that the example has been followed by other Methodist churches, one at Chicago having come into line recently and conspicuously.
"This is very suggestive because the two Protestant churches which in the past were always most distinguished by the extreme simplicity of their worship and their church architecture, and were most violently opposed to anything like mere estheticism in religious services, were the Baptist and the Methodist. They were plain people, and all worldly display in raiment and in social life, was eschewed by them. Methodists were enjoined by Wesley, in his 'General Rules,' to 'evidence their desire of salvation' by refraining from 'putting on of gold and costly apparel.' Like austerity of life was the Baptist rule, and the meeting-houses of both denominations were usually without steeples or any other marks of a distinctively ecclesiastical architecture."
"Will these ritualistic Baptist and Methodist churches stop with vested choirs merely? Will they not go on, naturally and logically, to the adoption of other features of the liturgical churches they are imitating? We are likely to see the cross introduced, and perhaps the time will come when the plain communion table will give place to a veritable altar, with all its religious significance. This is, therefore, a serious innovation, suggestive of a radical doctrinal transformation in the future. We have seen how ritualism in the Episcopal church has advanced to a bold teaching of the Real Presence."
On the same subject, endeavoring to solve the significance of the movement, the Independent (N.Y.) says:--
"In our Roman Catholic and other sacramentarian churches the ritual grows out of the faith and can be thus justified, but the new ritualism being adopted in our non-liturgical churches is of another order. It seems to have two different explanations. To some extent it may, as Professor Goldwin Smith lately said, indicate 'the growth of a vacuum in the region of religious belief, which music, art, flowers, and pageantry are required to fill.' Men and women who do not really believe very much yet want a quasi-religious sentimentality which can pass for religion. The form of godliness may be kept where its power is lost, and the form must be enlarged where the power is reduced. Even light may be 'dimly religious'--very dimly-- and music and vested choirs and responses and all the succession of forms may persuade one that he has had a religious hour, when it has only been quieting and soothing, and has marked the loss of real faith and religious force."
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PRESBYTERIAN CREED REVISION.
THE PRESBYTERIAN General Assembly recently convened, in New York City, and has received and adopted the report of its Creed Revision Committee. All broad-minded thinkers will sympathize with our Presbyterian friends in their endeavor to hold to their Westminster Confession of Faith as an infallible document, and yet to adopt an explanation of it as a supplement, that will be more reasonable and that they can confess with less twinging of conscience. We rejoice with those who have some conscience left that can be twinged: the wonder is that after years of stultification conscience is not so toughened as to be beyond twinging. Our best wish for them would have been that they had been still more noble--that they had possessed consciences whose twingings would not have allowed them even to "enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season"--the sin of misrepresenting the Divine character and plan and of misrepresenting their own hearts--for the sake of name and place and emoluments.
Anyway, we are glad to note some of the changes now made, though we regret the dishonesty attaching to the whole matter in the claim that the new creed is exactly the same as the old one, only differently stated. Ex-President Lincoln's words should be remembered by the Assembly; viz., "You can fool all the people sometimes, and some of the people all the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time."
THE TEXT OF THE NEW CREED.
We give below the text of the revised creed with brief comments on each division of it in brackets. Italics are ours.
Article I.--Of God.
We believe in the ever-living God, who is a Spirit, and the Father of our spirits; infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His Being and perfections; the Lord Almighty, most just in all His ways, most glorious in holiness, unsearchable in wisdom and plenteous in mercy, full of love and compassion, and abundant in goodness and truth. We worship Him, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, three persons in one Godhead, one in substance and equal in power and glory.
[We can assent to this fully except the last sentence, which space forbids us to reply to here; our showing of the Scriptural teaching upon the subject of the Trinity is to be found in Millennial Dawn, vol. V.]
Article II.--Of Revelation.
We believe that God is revealed in nature, in history, and in the heart of man; that he has made gracious and clearer revelations of Himself to men of God who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit; and that Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, is the brightness of the Father's glory and the express image of His person. We gratefully receive the Holy Scriptures, given by inspiration,
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to be the faithful record of God's gracious revelations and the sure witness to Christ, as the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and life.
[We can endorse this statement heartily.]
Article III.--Of the Eternal Purpose.
We believe that the eternal, wise, holy and loving purpose of God embraces all events, so that while the freedom of man is not taken away nor is God the author of sin, yet in His providence He makes all things work together in the fulfilment of His sovereign design and the manifestation of His glory; wherefore, humbly acknowledging the mystery of this truth, we trust in His protecting care and set our hearts to do His will.
[This surely is a wise statement which it would be difficult to improve upon.]
Article IV.--Of the Creation.
We believe that God is the Creator, Upholder, and Governor of all things; that He is above all His works and in them all; and that He made man in His own image, meet for fellowship with Him, free and able to choose between good and evil, and forever responsible to his Maker and Lord.
[We can endorse this statement too; but wonder how the large and growing number of evolutionists in the Presbyterian denomination can endorse it without mental reservations and twinges of conscience. If Adam was created in God's image, was meet for companionship with him, and free, and capable of deciding his destiny by his actions, he surely was far removed from being a monkey-man;--and surely, too, far superior to his posterity today, all of whom are sadly deficient in the divine image and qualifications for companionship with their Creator. Even the saints, with their much advantage every way, are still lacking in these respects, and are accepted of God only on a basis of faith in their Redeemer.]
Article V.--Of the Sin of Man.
We believe that our first parents, being tempted, chose evil, and so fell away from God and came under the power of sin, the penalty of which is eternal death; and we confess that, by reason of this disobedience, we and all men are born with a sinful nature, that we have broken God's law, and that no man can be saved but by his grace.
[This important truth is also well expressed. Eternal death [cessation of life], not eternal dying, nor eternal life in torment, is "the wages of sin." (`Rom. 6:23`.) Hence Jesus Christ "by the grace of God tasted death for every man"--"poured out his soul unto death" for us.--`Heb. 2:9`; `Isa. 53:12`.]
Article VI.--Of the Grace of God.
We believe that God, out of His great love for the world, has given His only begotten Son to be the Saviour of sinners, and in the gospel freely offers His all-sufficient Salvation to all men. And we praise Him for the unspeakable grace wherein He has provided a way of eternal life for all mankind.
[We are glad for this statement, that God's love is for the whole world and not merely for the "elect" Church; and that "all men" are provided an "all-sufficient salvation." Good! very good! It only remains to remember the Apostle's word, "How shall they believe on him of whom they have not heard?" to prove that the "due time" for the majority of our race to be saved, by acceptance of the only name given under heaven or amongst men, must be in the Millennium.-- `Acts 4:12`; `I Tim. 2:6`; `Rom. 10:14`.]
Article VII.--Of Election.
We believe that God, from the beginning, in His own good pleasure, gave to His Son a people, an innumerable multitude, chosen in Christ unto holiness, service and salvation; we believe that all who come to years of discretion can receive this salvation only through faith and repentance;
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and we believe that all who die in infancy, and all others given by the Father to the Son, who are beyond the reach of the outward means of grace, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who works when and where and how He pleases.
[This statement is the blindest and least satisfactory of all the Articles. It is God's election, not man's that is discussed; hence the word "innumerable" here must be understood to mean that to God the "elect" are either not numbered or beyond numeration or both. Surely this is inconsistent with divine foreknowledge and predestination,--without which the word "elect" would be meaningless. On the contrary, the Scriptures represent the elect as being, not only numerable but, numbered and limited;--in all a "little flock," the very reverse of innumerable. In `Revelations (14:1-5`) the number of these "very elect" "overcomers" is given as 144,000; and in `chap. 7:1-4` the same ones are shown as filling up the special election first opened to Fleshly Israel (`Rom. 11:7, 17-19`), and the same number is given. It is another class altogether, not the "elect" "little flock" who shall inherit the Kingdom, that is subsequently described as "a great multitude which no man could number," or whose number is known to no man. (`Rev. 7:9`.) These latter never sit with the Lord in his throne as "joint-heirs," but are "before the throne;" neither are they the Temple of "living stones," but are honored in permission to serve God in his temple.--`Rev. 7:9-15`.
The difficulty with the theory of our dear Presbyterian friends is that they misapply the election to salvation. True, the elect will all be saved, but they are not elected to salvation. There is but one ground, or condition on which any can now be saved; namely, by faith attested by obedience to the extent of ability. God is not unjust that he should make some short cut, or easier condition for the "elect." Rather, indeed, though the standard of salvation now and forever must be the same--perfect love--the holy spirit or disposition of the Redeemer--the non-elect, the world in general, will in their time of trial (the Millennium) have easier conditions of attaining to the divine standard than have the elect during this Gospel age.
Our dear friends need to see that the divine plan has heights and depths, lengths and breadths which Brother Calvin and his associates never dreamed of; namely, that favor of God which they obscurely refer to by saying that those "beyond the reach of outward means of grace, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit who works when and where and how he pleases." The world as a whole is now "beyond the reach of outward means of grace" and there are no other; "for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." But when we begin to seek for "when" and
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"where" and "how" the spirit of God will work for the world's reclamation we find it all clearly stated in the Scriptures.
The Apostle says that God's grace in Christ for all shall be "testified in due time." (`I Tim. 2:6`). The Prophet points us to the Millennium as that due time, and assures us that then the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth as the waters cover the great deep;--and then there shall be no longer need to "teach every man his neighbor and every man his brother, saying know thou the Lord! for all shall know me from the least of them unto the greatest of them saith the Lord." (`Isa. 11:9`; `Jer. 31:34`.) The Apostle Peter declares that this grand and universal "refreshing from the presence of the Lord," shall come at our Lord's second advent which shall be followed by "times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." St. Peter tells us just "how humanity is then to be blessed; saying, "For Moses truly said unto the fathers [not fulfilled in Peter's day nor since, but as sure as God's Word], 'A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that every soul which will not hear [heed, obey] that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people'--Second Death--`Acts 3:19-23`.
Our Lord himself tells "how" his grace will work or operate by and by, at his second advent. His words are "All that are in the graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth; they that have done good [the faithful, the "elect"] unto the resurrection of life [the First Resurrection--"they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign on the earth.--`Rev. 20:6`]; and they that have done evil [shall come forth] unto resurrection by judgments." (See Revised Version.) `Jno. 5:28,29`. This resurrection then is the hope of all except the saints, the elect. When they come forth from the tomb during the Millennium they will not be fully alive, for full life means perfection. None will live again in that proper sense of perfect life, complete freedom from death, until the Millennium is finished. It will be an age of uplifting, or restitution, in which the revivifying influences of the "trees of life" and the "river of the water of life clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne," shall be for the non-elect; for the world of mankind in general-- all of these who will may take of the water of life freely and live forever; while those who refuse those life opportunities will, as the Apostle declares, "be destroyed from among the people."
The "how" of this great work of God for the whole world is further explained by our Lord; saying, of that future invitation to the symbolical trees of life, and the water of life which will flow from the glorified Millennial Kingdom, "The Spirit and the Bride say Come, and let him that heareth say, Come! And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." The election will be over and past then and the elect will be the glorified "Bride" whose work it shall be, in unison with the Spirit of God, to invite the whole world to share God's grace.
The "elect" are not the "Bride" yet, but only the chaste virgin espoused to Christ and waiting on the Heavenly Bridegroom to make her, at his second coming his bride and joint-heir. Neither is there a "river of water of life" now flowing; but merely "wells of water springing up" in the "elect." Neither is there this general invitation to "whosoever wills;" for now the God of this world still blinds the eyes and closes the ears of all but the comparatively few;--deceiving nearly the whole world. It will be after Satan shall be bound for the thousand years, that he should deceive the nations no more, that the promised blessings upon the non-elect, who are now being "passed by," shall be fulfilled. Then all the blind eyes shall be opened and all the deaf ears shall be unstopped.-- `Isa. 35:5`.
The Apostle Paul clearly shows that the "elect" are the "seed of Abraham"--Christ the head, his church the body. He declares also what is most obvious; namely, that the fulfilment of the promise to Abraham of which his "seed" "the elect" are heirs, is still future; and that promise is, "In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." The "elect" are "the holy nation, the peculiar people, the royal priesthood," called now to offer sacrifices that thereby they may specially attest their loyalty to God and his righteousness and crystalize their character-likeness to their Redeemer, and thus be qualified to be the kings, priests and judges of the world during the Millennium --the world's judgment day or trial day. Speaking of the "elect" the Apostle asks, "Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?"--`I Cor. 6:2`.
The "Elect" are tried, tested judged along a very "narrow way"--of opposition from the world, the flesh and the devil; the world's way of the Millennial age is designated a "highway" of holiness, free from stumbling stones so that the wayfarer though unsophisticated need not err therein. (`Isa. 35:8,9; 5:27`.) The path of the "elect" is a dark way, a night time, in which they need constantly the Word of their Lord as a "lamp to their feet;" the path of the non-elect in the Millennium will be radiant because the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his beams and drive away completely the darkness which now covers the earth, and the gross darkness which covers the people--drive away the miasma of sin, error, ignorance, prejudice, selfishness, etc. Ah yes! the elect may rejoice with the Prophet saying,--"Weeping may endure for the night,--joy cometh in the morning!"--`Psa. 30:5`.
"The elect" who now during this Gospel night of sin and ignorance are to be "burning and shining lights," and are exhorted not to hide their lights under a bushel, but to set them upon candlesticks--to let the light shine out to the extent of their ability and thus to glorify their Father in heaven--are all to come together by and by, are all to be changed from human to spirit beings, like the Redeemer, and then they with him shall constitute the great Sun of Righteousness whose shining is to bring so great blessings to the world. See the Lord's own statement of this: The wheat are the children of God--"children of the Kingdom;"....During this Gospel age wheat and tares--true saints, the "elect," and mere professors, the tares--are to grow together until the end or harvest of the age....Then the wheat are
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to be garnered and "shine forth as the Sun in the Kingdom of their Father."--`Matt. 13:43`.
If all who pray "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven," could see that God's great plan for the world's salvation is as yet only beginning, that it will not properly begin until the Millennial Kingdom of Christ comes, then they would be prepared to see clearly that during this Gospel age God is merely selecting or electing from among men the Kingdom class, and fitting and preparing them for their grand and glorious service as the world's missionaries--prophets or teachers; priests, or helpers; kings, or rulers; judges, or disciplinarians. From this standpoint the doctrine of election is grand indeed, but from no other standpoint.]
Article VIII.--Of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
We believe in and confess the Lord Jesus Christ, the only Mediator between God and man, who, being the Eternal Son of God, for us men and for our salvation, became truly man, being conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary, without sin; unto us He has revealed the Father, by His Word and spirit making known the perfect will of God; for us He fulfilled all righteousness and satisfied eternal justice, offering Himself a perfect sacrifice upon the cross to take away the sin of the world; for us He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, where He ever intercedes for us, in our hearts, joined to him by faith, He ever abides forever as the indwelling Christ, over us, and over all for us, He rules; wherefore, unto Him we render love, obedience and adoration as our Prophet, Priest and King, forever.
[This is a splendid confession of the truth whose Scripturalness rejoices us. We would have preferred a little clearer and fuller expression than "He ever intercedes for us in our hearts." It is true in an indirect sense that the spirit of Christ in our hearts intercedes for holiness as against the weaknesses of the flesh: we prefer to suppose that the comma after hearts is a typographical error and should be omitted, thus expressing the Scriptural thought that our Redeemer "maketh intercession for us" with the Father. This omits the old and erroneous thought of intercession expressed by the hymn:--
"Five bleeding wounds he bears
Received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers,
They intercede for me;
Forgive him, oh forgive! they cry,
Nor let the ransomed sinner die."
No; the thought is that having paid to Justice the ransom price for the sins of the whole world he has ascended to the Father and is there ready to apply of his merit to the covering of our share in Adamic condemnation, and also for our unwilled sins present and future, the results of Adamic weaknesses and depravity. His entire work is one of intercession,-- now for his church, the household of faith, the anti-typical Levites, and by and by for all the people-- all who when the knowledge and opportunity are granted will desire to come unto the Father by Him. Intercede signifies go-between: our Lord Jesus became the Mediator of the New Covenant and thus the "go-between" who took the responsibilities of the sinner Adam (and his race) and paid to Justice the price and now stands ready to apply the benefit of his sacrifice to all who will accept it upon New Covenant terms.]
Article IX. Of Faith and Repentance.
We believe that God pardons our sins and accepts us as righteous solely on the ground of the perfect obedience and sacrifice of Christ, received by faith alone; and that this saving faith is always accompanied by repentance, wherein we confess and forsake our sins with full purpose of and endeavor after, a new obedience to God.
[Another excellent statement to which we can give our heartiest assent.]
Article X.--Of the Holy Spirit.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who moves everywhere upon the hearts of men, to restrain them from evil and to incite them unto good, and whom the Father is ever willing to give unto all who ask Him. We believe that He has spoken by holy men of God in making known His truth to men for their salvation; that, through our Exalted Saviour, He was sent forth in power to convict the world of sin, to enlighten men's minds in the knowledge of Christ, and to persuade and enable them to obey the call of the gospel; and that He abides with the church, dwelling in every believer as the spirit of truth, of holiness and of comfort.
[This is a most peculiar statement and quite unscriptural. The Scriptures do mention the holy spirit or power of God moving or acting upon the waters during the creative period (`Gen. 1:2`); and they also speak of its moving holy men of old to speak and to write divine messages (`2 Pet. 1:21`); and they also speak of its operation upon the Church, the elect, but nowhere is it said to be imparted to any other than God's consecrated children. It shall be in you, the Church, as God's power, witness and anointing, and through its operation in you, through your words and conduct, it shall convince or convict the world of sin, of righteousness and of a coming of judgment or judicial recompense. Space here does not permit of a full discussion of this great theme: we refer our readers to "The At-one-ment between God and Man" --Vol. V., of Millennial Dawn, chapters VIII--XI.]
Article XI.--Of the New Birth and the New Life.
We believe that the Holy Spirit only is the author and source of new birth; we rejoice in the new life, wherein He is given unto us as the seal of sonship in Christ, and keeps loving fellowship with us, helps us in our infirmities, purges us from our faults and ever continues His transforming work in us until we are perfected in the likeness of Christ, in the glory of the life to come.
[This peculiar statement is confusing however it be read. There is no Scriptural declaration that the Holy Spirit is our father but rather that the Father begot us by his holy spirit to newness of life--to be new creatures in Christ Jesus, perfected in the First Resurrection. If this is the thought of the first sentence it is Biblical, otherwise not. With the remainder we must be in hearty agreement.]
Article XII.--Of the Resurrection and the Life to Come.
We believe that in the life to come the spirits of the just, at death made free from sin, enjoy immediate communion with God and the vision of His glory; and we confidently look for the general resurrection in the last day, when the bodies of those who sleep in Christ shall be fashioned in the likeness of the glorious body of their Lord, with whom they shall live and reign forever.
[This statement emphasizes the general confusion
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of thought on this subject prevalent in all denominations. Our fleshly bodies are continually changing-- science declares that a complete change is effected about every seven years. It seems very absurd to think that the last atoms of matter were any better than those previously sloughed off, or than any other "dust" for resurrection purposes, when it must be confessed that divine power is the all-essential of resurrection, anyway. It is peculiar reasoning, too, that urges that Adam and Abraham and David and Paul have been in heaven for centuries in perfect bliss without bodies, and even to claim that death set them free, and then to speak of "the hope of the resurrection" of their bodies, at the last day. If they were imprisoned while in them and if they are supremely happy without them, the doctrine of resurrection as a hope is absurd. And if they needed the molecules of dust to make them still happier than they are why should God delay the matter until the last day?
The fact is that all this absurdity belongs to a misunderstanding of the grand doctrine of resurrection taught in the Bible. The Bible does not teach a resurrection of the body, but of the soul. It declares "The soul [being] that sinneth it shall die." (`Ezek. 18:4,20`.) It declares that because of sin all souls die, and that to redeem our souls our Lord became a man, a human soul, or being, and "poured out his soul unto death," "made his soul an offering for sin." (`Isa. 53:10,12`.) The Bible further shows that it was our Lord's soul that was resurrected on the third day, "His soul was not left in hades"--the death-state. (`Acts 2:27`.) So, also the Apostle treats the subject, declaring, "It [the soul or being] is sown [in death] in weakness; it [the soul] is raised in power." In the resurrection God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him.--`I Cor. 15:43,38`.
Our word soul signifies "sentient being," a cessation of which we call death. The Adamic sentence was death, which would have been the final end of us all but for the redemptive work of Christ. That redemptive work is not yet completed--the price has been paid, but the recovery of man out of death awaits the time appointed of the Father. Meantime the dead are no longer thought of nor spoken of as dead (extinct) by God who purposes their resurrection, the resuscitation of their beings, or souls; hence the frequent use in the Scriptures of the very word used by the creed-revisers in the above article; namely, "sleep," when referring to the dead.--"Them also which sleep in Jesus." (`I Thes. 4:14`.) "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed." (`I Cor. 15:51`) "Whether we wake or sleep." (`I Thes. 5:10`.) "He saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go that I may awake him out of sleep....Then said Jesus unto them plainly [coming down to their comprehension] Lazarus is dead." (`John 11:11,14`.) "The maid is not dead, but sleepeth." (`Mat. 9:24`.) "David after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep." "David is not ascended into the heavens." (`Acts 2:34`; `13:36`.) Martyr Stephen "cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this he fell asleep." (`Acts 7:60`.) Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc., good and bad "slept with their fathers."
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The Revision Committee's statement is in harmony with the above when it speaks, not of the bodies sleeping and being awakened at the last day, but refers to "the bodies of those who sleep in Christ." But if they sleep in Christ waiting for their bodies, how can it be also true that "they enjoy immediate communion with God and the vision of his glory"? Do the Revisers wish us to understand that the holy dead dream or that they are somnambulists?
The Scripture proposition is clearly stated, "The dead know not anything." "His sons come to honor and they know it not, to dishonor and they perceive it not of them;" "for there is no work nor device nor knowledge nor wisdom in the grave, whither thou goest." (`Eccl. 9:5,10`; `Job 14:21`.) From this standpoint the importance attached to the resurrection in the Bible is reasonable and our Lord's words respecting the resurrection have fresh meaning,--"All that are in their graves shall hear his voice and come forth"--the approved the "elect" to the life-resurrection, and the unapproved world in general to the judgment-resurrection.--`John 5:28,29`.
Article XIII.--Of the Law of God.
We believe that the law of God revealed in the Ten Commandments, and more clearly disclosed in the words of Christ, is forever established in truth and equity, so that no human work shall abide except it be built on this foundation. We believe that God requires of every man to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with his God; and that only through this harmony with the will of God shall be fulfilled that brotherhood of man wherein the kingdom of God is to be made manifest.
[An excellent statement; but it might have been improved in our judgment, by a declaration showing that the Law Covenant made with Israel of which the Ten Commandments was the basis, has given place to the New Covenant, mediated by Christ and based upon an ability-obedience to its basic law of love.]
Article XIV.--Of the Church and the Sacraments.
We believe in the holy catholic church of which Christ is the only head. We believe that the church invisible consist of all the redeemed, and that the church visible embraces all who profess the true religion together with their children. We receive to our communion all who confess and obey Christ as their divine Lord and Saviour, and we hold fellowship with all believers in Him.
We believe the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper, alone divinely established and committed to the church, together with the Word as means of grace; made effectual only by the Holy Spirit, and always to be used by Christians with prayer and praise to God.
[Here we have another excellent statement seemingly full of breadth and liberty in Christ; but it can be interpreted narrowly enough: and past experiences and our general knowledge of human nature lead us to fear that it will generally be given this narrow interpretation; viz., to make the words "our communion," i.e. our fellowship, to mean those only who will heartily and honestly accept the Westminster Confession of Faith and accept these articles, foregoing, as a later statement of the same meaning. Any who by thus joining our Church and who by thus coming behind our creedal fence separates himself from all other Christians we will fellowship.
We agree that there is but one Church invisible, and one Church visible; but why then have different
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brands, different "communions;"--professedly different "bodies" of Christ? Were our Lord or his Apostles Presbyterian or other sectarians? And if not, have we any Scriptural authority for such divisions which separate the members of the body of Christ? Why not come out of all sects and creeds and stand together as at first on the one foundation, that Christ died for our sins and rose again for our justification, and that all so accepting his work and fully consecrating themselves to him to do his will constitute his elect Church?
Article XV.--Of the Last Judgment.
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ will come again in glorious majesty to judge the world and to make a final separation between the righteous and the wicked. The wicked shall receive the eternal award of their sins and the Lord will manifest the glory of His mercy in the salvation of His people and their entrance upon the full enjoyment of eternal life.
[We are glad to note this acknowledgement of faith in our Lord's second coming, so prominently taught throughout the Bible. Could these dear friends get a more correct view of the resurrection they would see that our Lord's coming is as the Life-giver; and that none of his redeemed can enter into life eternal until he comes to receive them unto himself, from the prison-house of death in which they sleep. "Your life is hid with Christ in God [in divine power and promise]; when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory."--`Col. 3:3,4`.
The glad welcome of the Lord's second advent, so noticeable in the New Testament, is not found generally among Christians of today for two reasons; one, we have just mentioned; the other is because of false views respecting the judgment our Lord comes to perform. When father Adam was in Eden he experienced his first trial or judgment, and for disobedience he was condemned to death--a sentence which his posterity has shared, dying mentally, morally and physically--a groaning creation under divine sentence or curse. What would Adam and all of his children specially desire of the Lord?
Their prayer would surely be: Lord, that we might have another trial, another judgment;--peradventure our experiences with sin may have taught us such lessons that we would be fully obedient hereafter and abide forever in thy favor. But the Lord's Word assures that we could not succeed if granted another trial under similar conditions; because we, although experienced now, are fallen and imperfect, and cannot do the things which we would wish to do. Furthermore, he shows us that Justice is the foundation of his throne and that having declared us sentenced to death he cannot justly revoke his own sentence.
Then, while we wonder and despair, the Lord reveals to us his plan for our salvation, wonderful in its completeness. (1) He provided for our redemption by the death of his Son who took Adam's place, and by redeeming him redeemed all of his race who lost in his failure. Thus God shows us his law and justice inviolate. Nor was this effected by an injustice to his Son, whose full consent was first secured by "the joy that was set before him." (`Heb. 12:2`.) The obedient Son has been abundantly rewarded--"God also hath highly exalted and given him a name above every name."--`Phil. 2:9`.
But why this redemption of Adam and his race? What is its ultimate object? We answer that it is God's response to the 6000 years' prayer of our race; --Lord that we might have another trial or judgment. God proposes to answer that prayer in a better way than any except himself could have devised,--as he declares: "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 plans higher than your plans."--`Isa. 55:8,9`.
Foreseeing that fallen man could not obey the divine law, which requires the full measure of a perfect man's ability, God has not only redeemed our race, but proposes also in "due time" to establish the Redeemer as the King over all the earth, to rule and judge and regulate the world, and bring order out of present confusion and darkness and sin, and by corrections in righteousness gradually to raise men up, up, up, to perfection and the divine likeness in heart. This time of resurrection, also called the "times of restitution," is to be the world's "day of judgment," in which each member of Adam's fallen race, redeemed by the precious blood, shall taste of divine mercy and have the fullest opportunity that could be reasonably asked for re-attaining all that was lost in Adam; and meantime for developing such characters as would be fully approved by God as fit for the gift of God--everlasting life through Jesus Christ our Lord;--all others, failing under those favorable conditions being re-condemned,--judged worthy of the Second Death from which there will be no recovery.
This is the Lord's declaration: "God hath appointed a day ["One day with the Lord is as a 1000 years."--`II Pet. 3:8`.] in the which he will judge [grant trial to] the world in righteousness [equity] by that man whom he hath [afore] ordained [the Christ]; whereof he hath given assurance [ground for hope] unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. (`Acts 17:31`.) This is the "resurrection by judgment" to which our Lord refers. (`John 5:29`.) No wonder then that the prophet David rejoiced so in the prospect of the world's coming judgment day; saying (`I Chron. 16:31-34`):--
"Let the heavens be glad,
And let the earth rejoice;
And let men say among the nations, Jehovah
Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof;
Let the fields rejoice, and all that is therein.
Then shall the trees of the wood sing out
At the presence of Jehovah,
Because He Cometh
To Judge the Earth!
O give thanks unto Jehovah; for he is good;
For his mercy endureth forever!"
Does someone inquire why the Day of Judgment should be put off--why it did not begin at once, as soon as the sacrifice of Calvary was finished? We answer, that God hath appointed a day--the seventh or last day of the week for this judgment--the world's great Sabbath of rest after the 6000 years of sin and death, and that is sufficient. But we are glad
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to see just why our Father so "appointed"; viz., because in the interim he designed the calling and perfecting of the Church, the saints, the "elect," to be joint-heirs with the Redeemer and share his glory and work--his ruling, judging and blessing of all the families of the earth.
For further discussion of this subject we must refer our readers to Millennial Dawn, Vol. I., Chap. 8.]
Article XVI.--Of Christian Service and the Final Triumph.
We believe that it is our duty, as servants and friends of Christ, to do good unto all men, to maintain the public and private worship of God, to hallow the Lord's day, to preserve the sanctity of the family, to uphold the just authority of the state, and so to live in all honesty, purity and charity that our lives shall testify of Christ. We joyfully receive the Word of Christ, bidding His people go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, and declare unto them that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, and that He will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. We confidently trust that by His power and grace all His enemies and ours shall be finally overcome, and the kingdoms of this world shall be made the kingdom of our God and of His Christ. In this faith we abide; in this service we labor, and in this hope we pray. Even so, come Lord Jesus.
[We are specially glad that the two Scripture citations we have italicized have been made prominent in the Revised Confession. These may assist some to see that the election of the Church is for the purpose of bringing the whole world to a knowledge of the truth in order to their everlasting salvation. If it was the thought of the Revisers that the Church in her present condition can accomplish this, let them reflect that nineteen centuries have accomplished little for the world in general in the matter of knowledge of the Lord. Let them reflect, too, that even in this day of missionary effort, statistics show that the whole annual Church increase including all even nominally Christians, is less proportionately than the natural increase of the human family; so that if the hope expressed, that the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord, means a hope of converting the world, it is a blind and baseless one. The Scriptural thought, as shown by old MSS. is quite a different one; namely, that the dominion of this world [is to] become the dominion of God and of his Christ. If the entire world were brought into the condition of earth's best kingdoms it would still leave much, oh! so much, to be desired and prayed for--"Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven." Hence we pray this prayer, and expect and patiently wait for that Kingdom which will now speedily be introduced by "a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation." "Even so, Come, Lord Jesus."]
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LET US PUT ON THE ARMOR OF LIGHT.
--`ROM. 13:8-14`.--JUNE 22.--
"Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness,
and let us put on the armor of light."
NOT THE NATURAL man, but the new creature, is addressed in this lesson. The natural man is a bundle of selfishness--personal selfishness--family selfishness--sect and party selfishness--clan and national selfishness. True, the organs of the brain representing love are not wholly lacking in any member of the race, and so far as they exist may be reckoned as representatives of the original mental image of God, in which man was created. But even such fragmentary elements of love as still remain are warped and twisted and diverted into selfish channels;--self love, family love, fatherland love, patriotism. The natural man does not realize this selfish character of the natural heart as does the new creature; because the latter, being begotten by the spirit of truth, the holy spirit of love divine, finds now a wide difference between his old kind of love and his new ideal. While this distinction may be clearly recognized from our start in the Christian way, nevertheless, our discernment at first between the selfish loves of the natural man and the divine love are indistinct and indefinite, as compared with the clearer views and sharper distinctions realized as we grow in grace, in knowledge and in the spirit of love divine, and come to know definitely the love of God which passeth all [human] understanding.
The Apostle exhorts these new creatures, justified by faith in Jesus Christ, called of God and begotten of the holy spirit, to grow as rapidly as possible in their appreciation and heart-sympathy with the Lord's spirit of love. These should realize that they are debtors to the Lord to an untold amount, because of his love and mercy extended toward them in Christ; and they should see, also, that having thus received the Lord's grace and the spirit of it, they are to have so broad and so generous a feeling toward all mankind that they will desire first of all to pay off every obligation, of every kind, and to "owe no man anything."
The Apostle declared that he was a debtor both to the Jews and to the Greeks; and looking at matters from a similar standpoint, we may say likewise, that we are under many obligations to many people. We owe a real debt to our parents, through whom, in God's providence, we have come into being; we owe a debt to the community and commonwealth in which we live for the measure of peace, order, social convenience and advantages every way, which we, in common with others, share; we owe a debt to our nation at large in consideration of the many blessings, liberties, advantages, etc., which come to us through it by divine providence. And above and beyond all these debts to our fellow creatures, we recognize a debt and obligation to our Creator--not only for earthly life, its blessings, its privileges, its opportunities, such liberties as we enjoy; but still more for our redemption with the precious blood, for our knowledge of the same, for our call to joint-heirship with our Lord, for the begetting of the holy spirit, for the assistance and encouragement of the Word and its exceeding great and precious promises which strengthen, encourage, and direct us in the way of life eternal.
True, some arguments may be made on the other side of the proposition, but these are not for us; we had no claims, we had no riches, we had nothing until
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we had a being. We might perhaps wish that our parents might have been more wise, and that therefore we might have been born with a more liberal endowment mentally, morally and physically; we might perhaps wish that our community and commonwealth were still more advanced, still more beneficent, still more liberal than they are; we might perhaps wish that our nation had still better laws and still better regulations than it has; we might perhaps wish that our Creator had favored us with natural and earthly things still more than he has favored us. But, as before stated, we are debtors for all that we have; it is, therefore, appropriate that we should be thankful for everything that we do possess and enjoy, temporal and spiritual; and that we should realize that while it is our privilege to do for others and to assist others, to encourage and bless and help others, nevertheless, being debtors for all that we have, we have no grounds on which to claim more.
A realization of the subject, from this standpoint, should tend to make all of the Lord's people, all of the "new creatures in Christ Jesus," very contented, very appreciative, very thankful for mercies, both temporal and spiritual. Seeing that in all these respects we are debtors, we should seek to discharge our duty toward all our beneficiaries: toward God the fountain of every good and perfect gift toward our nation, toward our commonwealth and community, toward our parents. We should see to it not only that none of these are injured by reason of our living in the world, but that our lives shall in some measure and degree testify to our appreciation of them all, and directly or indirectly be a help, an assistance, toward the best interests of each and all with whom we have to do. This is but simple justice --justice demands that we pay our debts, that we owe no man anything.
But we are to go beyond this just discharge of our obligations and are to love God and our fellow man--to seek not only to do our duty, to pay our share of the taxes and burdens and responsibilities of life and social order and parental protection and comfort, but love is to prompt us according to our best judgment, guided by the new mind, the Lord's spirit, to do something more than mere duty might demand--to sacrifice something in the interests of the Lord's service and in the blessing and comforting of our fellow creatures, as the spirit of the Lord may direct through his inspired Word.
He that loveth all others so that he is constantly seeking to do them good, is following the holy law, the perfect will of God. It is less a question of outward conduct than of heart intention, though undoubtedly the heart intention will generally find appropriate expression through the lips and through
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the actions of life. The Lord, however, knows the imperfections of our judgments and the weaknesses of the flesh, and therefore, very graciously under the New Covenant accepts the perfection of our intentions, of our wills, as instead of the absolute perfection of our every word and deed. Thus "The righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit"--and as nearly up to the spirit as possible.
"THOU SHALT NOT"
The Apostle explains that the commands of the decalogue were merely attempts to bring down to the natural man's comprehension the real spirit of the divine law. And yet the prohibitions of that law, "Thou shalt not," in respect to various things that would be injurious to the neighbor, could never fully express the comprehensiveness of the divine will. The prohibitions of the decalogue were proper enough for the "house of servants," but when the "house of sons" was instituted (`Heb. 3:5,6`), and when these sons were begotten of the holy spirit so that they could appreciate the law of Love, it was substituted, as higher every way and more comprehensive than the prohibitions of the decalogue. Thou shalt not commit adultery; Thou shalt not kill; Thou shalt not steal; Thou shalt not bear false witness; Thou shalt not covet;--because all these things would be contrary to the law of love under which alone the "new creature" is placed.
But the new law of the New Covenant--Love--is so much more comprehensive than the decalogue which was the basis of the Jewish Covenant, that as the Apostle says, if there be any other commandment, any other thing that should be prohibited, any other things contrary to the law of God, it is briefly comprehended in the declaration "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." The law of love marks as transgressions many things which would not have been violations of the decalogue: for instance, the decalogue commanded the house of servants not to bear false witness against a neighbor; but the law of love indicates to the house of sons that they should "speak evil of no man" even if such witness would not be false; it instructs them further, that even if it be necessary to tell an unpleasant truth--if it becomes duty or obligation of law--even the truth is to be spoken in love without acrimony, hatred, malice, envy or strife. Oh, what a valuable lesson it would be to the house of sons if they could all equally grasp this comprehensive thought,--if their obligations not only to each other and to their families and friends, but also to their neighbors and their enemies--to love them, to so consider their interests and their welfare in general, that they would do nothing and say nothing to the contrary; but gladly at the sacrifice of their own convenience, assist them in any and every way,--"Doing good unto all men as we have opportunity, especially to the household of faith!" This is loving our neighbor as ourselves--not as he loves us.
THIS IS THE GOLDEN RULE--LOVE.
Since love works blessings to the neighbor and seeks his welfare, it follows as a matter of course that "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor." Will we not, as the Lord's consecrated people, seek to put this lesson into practice in our daily lives? Will we not learn to consider the words of our mouths, and to remember that we can smite and injure a brother or a neighbor with the tongue as truly and more seriously than with our hands? Will we not learn that in even mentioning anything uncomplimentary respecting a brother or a neighbor, we are surely working
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him ill, doing him an injury,--injuring his reputation and standing--however true the uncomplimentary thing may be; and that in so doing we are violating the law of God, the law of love? Will we not learn that the only instance in which we would have a right to mention an uncomplimentary thing would be in the event of our seeing a brother or a neighbor in danger of injury by another and thus out of love for him be called upon to warn him of the source of danger?
This warning we should be sure was necessary, before giving it; and it should be couched in such language as sincere love for the dangerous one would dictate. Will we not learn to think charitably of the words and actions of others, and to suppose their intentions good, until we have positive evidence to the contrary: and will we not learn that then we should go to the offender, alone, according to `Matt. 18:15`; subsequently, if occasion require and the matter seem to be of vital importance, taking with us two others, fair and impartial in judgment, that in the presence of the wrong-doer they may hear from him as well as from us and give their judgment or opinion. And even if they agree with us and the wrong-doer is not yet corrected and the injury to us is still unabated, we are still not at liberty under the law of love to make mention of the case to others, but to call a meeting of the entire congregation and there, with the condemned one present, to have a hearing and a judgment of the Church in respect to the matter.
Let us learn much more thoroughly the meaning of this expression "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor"; and again, "Speak evil of no man." Love is the fulfilling of the law; and our hearts, at least, must fulfill this law--whatever mistakes of tongue or deed we may unintentionally make--else we cannot hope to be reckoned as having reached the "mark" for the prize for which we are called to run with patience. It will require patience in dealing with ourselves and bringing our hearts into conformity with this divine law, but it is necessary, and the sooner and the more perseveringly undertaken, the greater and surer will be the blessings, and our ultimate acceptance to joint-heirship in the Kingdom.
HIGH TIME TO AWAKE OUT OF SLEEP.
The Lord's people may know now just where we are on the stream of time, but this matter was sealed up and hidden until "the time of the end," as the Lord informed Daniel: hence the Apostle and early Church could only speak of the time question from a general standpoint. They knew that time was passing, that the day of deliverance was drawing nearer and nearer, and was thus surely closer at hand than when they had first believed. If the world's seven thousand years be considered as a week, and the Millennial age reckoned as the seventh day--the Sabbath or rest day--then the preceding six days constitutes the night time, in which sin abounds, in which "darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the people"; --in which the true children of God as candles are to set themselves upon the candlestick (and not to put their light under a bushel) to give light to all in darkness about them. It is the time mentioned by the Prophet in which "weeping endures for the night," because sin abounds and because the wages of sin, death, and its comcomitants of sickness, pain and trouble prevail; but if weeping endures for a night of six thousand years," the Prophet also assures us, that "joy cometh in the morning" of the (seventh) Millennium when "the Sun of righteousness," the Lord of glory, shall shine forth and chase the darkness away, and cause the earth to be filled with the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. From this standpoint the 6,000 year night was far spent in the Apostle's day, and whether he realized this fully, or whether he wrote as he did prophetically, under inspiration, no matter; his declaration was strictly true; the night was far spent because over two thirds of it had passed. The Apostle wrote this letter somewhere about the year 4188 A.M.--about 1812 years of the night remaining before the Millennial dawning.
The Apostle's words were true, as uttered, and his exhortation was appropriate then; but how much more appropriate is that exhortation to us who are now living;--to us who already see with the eye of faith the Day Star, and the first rays of the Millennial morning's light. "Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light." He who casts off the works of darkness, thus intimates that he is no longer in sympathy with the things of darkness, the things of sin, of selfishness, of injustice. He who puts on the armor of light not only intimates that he has enlisted on the side of God, of righteousness, truth, uprightness, light,--but he also intimates, in putting on an armor, that he realizes that he will be obliged to contend, to battle with the forces of darkness, which will oppose him now that he has enlisted on the side of the light, as they never before assailed him when he was one with them either in heart or in hand.
THE ARMOR OF LIGHT.
This armor of light the Apostle elsewhere describes: Its helmet of salvation represents intellectual protection, which we all need from the time we join the Lord's standard;--we need to know something, to have our sanctified reasons guided through the Word of the Lord. The breastplate of righteousness we need also--not the filthy rags of our own righteousness, but the righteousness of God in Christ-- the justification from sin which God has provided through the sacrifice of his Son. Our faith in the ransom is all important to our protection in this battle. The shield of faith is another part of our armor, absolutely necessary; without it, the fiery darts of the Adversary might frequently reach us, between the joints of our breastplate of imputed righteousness, and our helmet of intellectual appreciation. The sword of the spirit, the Word of God, is also absolutely indispensable for our protection against the wiles of the Adversary and his deluded followers; otherwise they would come close up to us and smite us notwithstanding our armor. We should be comparatively at their mercy without the sword of the spirit, used in conjunction with the shield of faith, the breastplate of imputed righteousness, and the helmet of knowledge. But with all these we shall, by the grace of God, be able to fight the good fight of faith
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and be enabled to come off conquerors and more than conquerors through him who loved us and bought us with his own precious blood. For although we will have nothing to spare but will still have need of Christ's grace, imputed to make up for our deficiencies, nevertheless since we are his, all of his is ours, and not only are we complete in him, but abiding in him shall have an abundant entrance into the everlasting Kingdom.
Let us "walk honestly as in the day." It is not yet day, the shadows of night still linger; injustice and sin are everywhere about us; it is, therefore, much more difficult now to walk honestly than it would be if the day had fully come, and all the temptations and allurements of darkness were thoroughly banished by the bright shining of the Sun of righteousness. Thank God! the world in general during the Millennial age will have an opportunity for walking in the full light of the Millennial day, up the highway of holiness, unto its grand consummation, perfection and eternal life. We praise God on their behalf, that not only will the darkness be gone and the evil influences be restrained, but that all stumbling-stones will be gathered out of the way. But as we are still in the night-time, we still need the lamp of the divine Word to guide our steps. There are still stumbling-stones, there are still inducements from the Evil One toward sin, unrighteousness, selfishness, envy, malice, hatred, strife.
And yet ours is a time and condition in some respects to be appreciated more highly than that which the world will occupy during the Millennial age; because to us who are "called" now, during the night season, to walk by faith and not by sight--to walk contrary to the course of this world--to walk in love and not in selfishness,--to us "are given exceeding great and precious promises" of glory, honor, immortality, if we prove faithful in following the Captain of our salvation, who assures us not only that he has trodden the way before us and left us his footprints that we should walk in his steps, but, additionally, that he will be with us, an ever present helper in time of need. This matter of walking honestly at the present time, therefore, signifies considerable; --to be honest with God, to love him with all our heart, mind, being, strength; to be honest with ourselves, honest with our neighbors, honest with the brethren--to exercise toward all the law of the spirit of love, to love them as we love ourselves.
We are not to indulge in the revelries and drunkenness, the lasciviousness and debauchery of the grossest sinners, nor are we to indulge in these things in the more refined figurative sense of reveling in worldliness, fashion and ostentation, and in living wantonly and illicitly in worldliness or sectarianism. We are to remember on the contrary, that we are not of this world, that we are citizens of the heavenly Kingdom, that we are betrothed to the Lord Jesus as his Bride and are to be separate from the world, pure in heart, undefiled by wrong union with Babylon. (`Rev. 14:4`.) As new creatures in Christ we are neither to indulge in the strifes and envyings of the national sort, leading to wars, nor of the commercial sort leading to injustice and unkind competition; neither are we to indulge in strifes and envyings amongst the brethren; but are in honor to prefer one another wherever the conditions and talents permit, contending, earnestly as well as lovingly, only when it is for the faith once delivered to the saints.
These strifes, envyings, self-indulgences and improper associations, are to be put away from us, as so much of "the works of darkness" still clinging to us, notwithstanding our having become the Lord's people, "a royal priesthood;" and as another statement corresponding to that concerning the armor of light, the Apostle says, "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof." Putting on Christ implies a change of the will, which when renewed, desires to be Christ-like; but it implies also such a change of the outward appearance, conduct, habits of life, etc., as will enable us more and more to rightly represent our Lord before men, as his ambassadors. Thus are we changed, into our Lord's likeness of character, as day by day we get clearer views of his glorious character and seek to copy it,--until, by and by we shall be actually changed in the First resurrection and made actually like him.--`2 Cor. 3:18`; `I Cor. 15:42-51`.
"And make no provision of the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof." Ah, yes! how often the Lord's people have made a mistake on this point. Although the heart, the new mind, be thoroughly consecrated to the Lord, we still have the fleshly bodies and they still have their natural appetites and these call out loudly to us that they should not be ignored. They insist upon their rights, etc.; but the Apostle instructs us that having started to walk after the spirit, as new creatures, we should make no provision for gratifying the flesh;--we should not shape our affairs so as to yield to any of the demands of the flesh which we recognize to be contrary to the will of the Lord. In proportion as we yield to the improper desires of the flesh, in that same proportion the flesh will prosper and the spiritual new nature will languish. In proportion as we deny all the illegitimate appetites of the flesh and mortify them, put them to death, in that same proportion will we grow strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. As the Apostle again says, "The flesh lusteth [desireth] against the spirit [the new will or mind] and the spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would."-- `Gal. 5:17`.
QUARTERLY REVIEW--JUNE 29.
"A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of my people Israel."
A review of the lessons of the past quarter will undoubtedly prove interesting and profitable to all. The design of the committee selecting the lessons seems to have been to bring prominently before our minds the thought first, of how Jerusalem became the general center from which the Gospel light, as lamps in a dark place, was carried in various directions; and secondly, how one of these places receiving the light from Jerusalem--Antioch--became itself a center from which the Lord sent forth Paul and Barnabas, who in turn lighted other lamps, in other places, and thus spread abroad the knowledge of the Lord--especially
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in Asia Minor, and even unto Europe. The same principle still applies;--God still uses human agencies. He who now receives the light of truth is to be the agent, channel, representative of God in carrying the same to others still in need of it.
Our Golden Text sets forth the thought that Christ is the light of the world. Not yet is the Sun of righteousness shining in glory, and dispelling earth's darkness; not yet is it enlightening all the Gentiles; not yet has Christ become the glory of his people Israel. He is, nevertheless, all through this Gospel age, a great light to all those whose eyes are opened that they may see it. This light is still shining in the darkness and the darkness comprehends it not; but blessed are our eyes for they see; and correspondingly the responsibility of the light is with us. Let us walk as children of light, even before the day dawns, rejoicing also in the blessings that are ultimately to come to all the families of the earth through God's Anointed.
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INTERESTING QUESTIONS ANSWERED.
THE CURSE UPON THE EARTH.
Question.--What do you understand to be the significance of the statement in `Gen. 3:17`, "Cursed is the ground for thy sake"?
Answer.--To our understanding the Lord is not here expressing a curse against the ground, bringing a blight upon it, but is merely stating a fact, that the earth at the time was in an accursed or unfit condition for man. He explains that its condition is for man's sake, implying that had it been more favorable for man to have had the earth in a better condition, the Lord would have so arranged matters. In other words, the earth had never been in a perfect condition up to that time, and would not be fully ready for man's occupancy for seven thousand years; but the Lord, foreknowing the fall into sin, and the penalty he would prescribe, arranged that man should be introduced to the earth as a felon, and should, as a culprit, do such penal service in the premises as would not only bring him valuable lessons and experiences, but would be the divine agent for bringing the earth up to the perfection of the Garden of Eden by the time that God foresaw would be the proper period for it to be in such a condition. From this standpoint you perceive that the statement of Genesis has a special force when it says that "God prepared a garden eastward in Eden." Had the whole earth been in a perfect or Edenic condition,
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the preparation of the garden for man's use would have been unnecessary; neither would it have been in harmony with divine economy to have first brought the earth to perfection, and then to have blasted and blighted it; rather, by the method adopted, God is showing his foreknowledge of whatsoever has come to pass.
The curse is lifting from the earth, in proportion as man is gaining victories, intellectual and chemical and mechanical, over it, by which he is subduing it. These are under divine guidance, and undoubtedly will greatly increase throughout the Millennial age, and as they increase the curse will to that extent disappear, until by the close of the Millennial age, with human perfection, there will also be earth-perfection.
THE JUDGMENT OF "THE PRINCE OF THIS WORLD."
Question.--To whom or what do you understand our Lord's words in `John 12:31`; `14:30`, to refer? Is not the Diaglott foot-note on this verse a misconception?
Answer.--We understand the "prince of this world" here mentioned to be the same elsewhere denominated, "the prince of the power of the air who now worketh in the hearts of the children of disobedience." From this you will see that we would not at all agree with Wakefield's suggestion, as given in the Diaglott foot-note.
In reference to `John 12:30,31`, our thought is that the "prince" there referred to is Satan also. Satan and his rulership of disorder and sin had received no particular sentence or rebuke from the Lord up to this time; indeed, the appearances were that either God's law or God's creatures were imperfect, and hence that sin was unavoidable. But when our Lord Jesus, by his obedience and sacrifice, upheld the law, and made it honorable, and proved that it was within the range of a perfect man's ability to keep it, he thereby "condemned sin in the flesh," and, incidentally, condemned Satan's entire rule. And not only so, but by the purchase of the world of mankind with his own life, he secured the legal control of the world, or the right to bring it from under subjection to sin and Satan, back into harmony with God. In this sense of the word "this world," or the order of things then in vogue, and still in vogue with the world, was condemned, sentenced to overthrow, from the time that our Lord Jesus was lifted up, finished his work of redemption, and was accepted of the Father as the purchaser and King of the earth, the Second Adam. "Now shall the prince of this world be cast out:" The casting out of Satan followed the redemptive work by Christ. He is cast out so far as the Church is concerned; for we are not to allow Satan or sin to bear rule in our mortal bodies, but are to esteem ourselves free from his yoke, that we may serve the Lord. Moreover, the influence of the truth is more and more liberating in the world of mankind, breaking the shackles of superstition. But the great overthrow of Satan, and the great liberation of mankind has been delayed, waiting for the gathering out of the elect, the full lifting up of the whole body of Christ. As soon as this is accomplished the sentence upon Satan and his government, passed eighteen-hundred years ago, will go into effect thoroughly. Satan's house and household will be spoiled, wrecked, and a new Prince and his associates will take the Kingdom and possess it forever.
SHE SHALL BE SAVED.
Question.--Do you understand `I Tim. 2:15` to be literal?
Answer.--Yes, we understand that the Christian mother may reasonably expect to be saved (preserved) from much of the anguish incident to motherhood;-- to this end her mind should rest fully upon the Lord, his love, his care--dread should be dismissed, and thus some of the chief factors of anguish would be removed. Feeling intensifies nearly all the difficulties and trials of life; and with the Christian perfect love for God and the complete realization of the Lord's love for him, should cast out all fear, and produce, instead, the peace of God which passeth all understanding, not only in our hearts, but also in large measure in our flesh.