Studies in the Scriptures
Zion's Watch Tower
MORNING COMETH—NIGHT ALSO
[Pastor Russell’s last written sermon]
"Watchman, what of the night? The morning cometh, and a night also!"
The literature of the world shows that intelligent men have refused to believe that the Divine purpose in the creation of our earth has yet been attained. Continually we find references to the "Morning of the New Day"—to the Golden Age, etc., etc. Not to the longings of men’s hearts, however, but to the promises of our God, do we look for real instruction on this subject.
The Bible most emphatically declares that the entire period of human history thus far has been a night time.
The Prophet David explains, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the Morning." (
.) Thus prophetically we are assured that there will be a Morning whose glory, brightness and blessing will fully compensate for all the dark shadows of the night time past. Our text is another prophecy along the same line.
The message of the Lord is: "The Morning cometh!"
St. Paul writes that up to his time the world had been under a reign of Sin and Death, and not under a Reign of Righteousness and Life. (
.) He also points out that the Day of the Lord will come gradually and stealthily, taking the world unawares—"as a thief in the night."—
All of the Apostles assure us that it is not God’s purpose to permit the reign of Sin and Death to continue forever. They tell us that the Divine Program is that Messiah will, in the Father’s appointed time, take unto Himself His great power and reign King of kings and Lord of lords—putting down sin and every evil thing, and lifting humanity up, and granting a Divine blessing where for six thousand years there has been a Divine curse.
The Bible writers explain that this does not signify a change in the Divine Program, but that God had purposed this thing in Himself from before the foundation of the world; and that although He had permitted sin to enter and death to reign over the children of Adam, He had also made fullest provision for the Redeemer to die for our sins and eventually to become the Restorer and Life-giver to Adam and his race—to as many of them as will accept everlasting life on the Divine terms.
The Apostles tell us that during the night time, since Jesus’ death, God has been doing a special work—selecting from mankind a special class, a saintly few, "the Church of the First-borns, whose names are written in Heaven." These are not taken from any one nation or denomination; but this "little flock," to whom it is the Father’s good pleasure to give the Kingdom, is composed of all the saintly followers of Jesus who walk in His steps in the "narrow way" during this Gospel Age. Their experiences are to qualify them for association with their Redeemer in His Messianic Kingdom. Their trials, their obedience and their sufferings for righteousness’ sake are to work out for these a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Suffering with the Master for the Truth’s sake in the present life, they are to share His glory, honor and immortality in the life to come and to be joint-heirs with Him in His Kingdom.
THE KINGDOM SUNRISE NEARING
Among the Lord’s people even, few yet understand that Jesus distinctly teaches that the "Sun of Righteousness" which will arise, and whose light will constitute the New Day, will be composed of the Church of Christ—glorified—changed from human to Divine nature by participation in the "first resurrection." Jesus tells this in the parable of the wheat and the tares. He declares that in the end of this Gospel Age all of the wheat class will be gathered into the Heavenly Garner and—"then shall the
righteous shine forth as the SUN in the Kingdom of their Father." (
.) We must not think that this signifies the Church without the Redeemer, but must remember that "Jesus is the Head of the Church which is His Body."—
How wonderful, how beautiful and how appropriate are the word-pictures of the Bible! Ah, they are inspired pictures! No one but the Lord knew of the great Divine Plan; no one but Him, therefore, could give these pictures of its development. The Bible, in various terms and similes, attempts to give us a little glimpse of the glorious conditions of that New Day. It and the Kingdom will be the desire of all peoples. In that day the righteous will flourish and evil-doers will be cut off from life. During that thousand-year Day of Messiah’s Kingdom Satan is to be bound, "that he may deceive the nations no more." (
Landlordism will come to an end; for—"they shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat the fruit thereof...but shall long enjoy the work of their hands." (
.) The earth is to yield her increase. Streams are to come forth in the desert places; the solitary places are to be made glad. The entire earth is to become like the Garden of Eden. It is God’s foot-stool, and He declares that He will make it glorious. It is not to be burned up with literal fire, as we once supposed. It is to "abide forever."
.) "He formed it not in vain; He formed it to be inhabited."—
WONDERFUL FOREGLEAMS OF LIGHT
But the most wonderful thing the Bible tells us respecting that New Day is the great intelligence and enlightenment which it will bring to every creature. "The light of the knowledge of the glory of God shall fill the whole earth as the waters cover the face of the great deep." (
.) "And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for they shall all know Me, from the least
of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord." (
.) Ultimately every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess, to the glory of God.
What an enthusing prospect the Bible holds out before the Church and so many of the world as can exercise a measure of faith to believe! The world indeed sees to some extent that great blessings are coming; but just what these are and how they are to come, mankind know not; for "the world by wisdom knows not God." The worldly wise have rejected the Bible, and do not trust it as a Revelation from God. Thus the wise are caught in their own craftiness. Their boasted wisdom ensnares them and blinds them to the Divine Revelation. Nevertheless some of our great thinkers, Mr. Edison and others, are rapidly seeing that the world is just on the verge of the most wonderful inventions and knowledge, which will transform the face of the earth and the people thereof.
They are corroborating the Bible unwittingly; for they believe it not and know not of its messages.
THE DAWNING BEGAN IN A.D. 1874
Let us not stop now to discuss the darkness of the Night and its weepings. Let us awake, and take note of the fact that the dawning of the New Age is already here.
We have been in it and enjoying many of its blessings for the past forty-two years. But these blessings came so stealthily, like a thief in the night, that few recognize their import. Some few have been calling attention to the fact that we have been in the Millennial dawn ever since the year 1874. Bible chronology quite clearly teaches that the six thousand years from Adam’s creation have ended—six great Days of a thousand years each, mentioned by St. Peter—"a Day with the Lord is as a thousand years." (
.) Now the great Seventh Day, also a thousand years long, has commenced. We have been enjoying its dawning. It is to be a grand Day!
What wonder if the dawning be remarkable!
It may surprise some to be told that the past forty-two years mean more to the world in increase of education, increase of wealth, increase of all manner of labor-saving inventions and conveniences, increase of safeguards and protections for human life, than did all the six thousand years which preceded them—many times over. The world has probably created a thousand times as much wealth during these forty-two years as during those entire six thousand years preceding. Yet these changes came so gradually that few have noticed them.
FULFILMENT OF PROPHECY EVERYWHERE
Forty-two years ago man labored from sun to sun; today we are rapidly reaching an eight-hour day. Forty-two years ago nearly all the labor of the world was done with sweat of face; today it is nearly all accomplished by machinery. Forty-two years ago the sewing machine was just reaching perfection; today it is everywhere indispensable.
So with the thousand household conveniences!
So with nearly all of our sanitary and plumbing arrangements!
So with the farm implements, reapers and binders, mowers, automobiles and gas engines, etc., etc., all belong to these forty-two years. In our cities our modern conveniences are wonderful! Solomon in all his glory never dreamed of such things as the poorest human being in America may enjoy!
Prophecies respecting streams in the desert and the wilderness blossoming as the rose are having fulfilment—not miraculously, but in harmony with the Divine order of an increased intelligence amongst men. Artesian wells are being drilled, irrigating canals constructed, not only in the western part of the United States and Canada, but also in far-off Mesopotamia. The results are marvelous.
Land previously not worth fencing is valued today at $500 per acre. The increase of knowledge has been supplemented by governmental arrangements for the distribution of that knowledge amongst the people. The soils
of various localities are being analyzed at public expense, and the tillers of the soil are given knowledge as respects what kind of fertilizers are required to bring satisfactory results. Under these conditions it does not surprise us to know that as much as 156 bushels of corn have been raised to a single acre, and that 600 bushels of potatoes and over are not an uncommon record.
Is not the Bible being fulfilled? Who can dispute these facts? What do they signify? We answer that they exactly corroborate the Divine declaration which describes our day: "Many shall run to and fro; knowledge shall be increased; the wise [of God’s people] shall understand, and there shall be a Time of Trouble such as never was since there was a nation."—
INCREASE IN WORLD-WIDE DISCONTENT
We are in the Morning mentioned in our text. Ah, what a glorious Morning! How changed the human conditions from those of our grandfathers! How thankful the whole world should be! Paeans of praise should be rising from all people of the favored lands of civilization, and helping hands should be outstretched to carry the same blessings to heathen lands. But is it so? Are the people happy and rejoicing and appreciative of the New Day—the gift of Divine providence?
No! in proportion as the blessings of God have come, the discontent of humanity has increased; and unbelief, not only in respect to the Bible as the Divine Revelation, but in many instances in respect to the very existence of an intelligent Creator. Notwithstanding the great increase in the world’s wealth, and the fact that there are some noble souls who are using their share of the wealth in praiseworthy manner, nevertheless the general operation of the law of selfishness prevails; and all the legislation which has been enacted, or which can be enacted, fails to restrain the great giant institutions—corporations—of our day, fails to hinder them from the exploiting of the masses in the interests of comparatively few.
Did God know all these things? What will He do about them? Will He bring in the Millennial blessings, and risk that men shall take for granted that they have won the secrets of nature by their own wisdom and perseverance, and forget God entirely? Will they become more discontented? Would a Millennium of discontent be advantageous?
What will God do about it?
THE DARK NIGHT ALREADY SETTLING
According to the Bible God foreknew of the conditions of our day as we are now reviewing them; and in our text He gives a key to the solution—elsewhere in the Scriptures made very plain. Through the Prophet God tells of the dark night coming—after the Morning Dawn had well ushered in—a dark storm-cloud just at sunrise.
This dark hour is described in Daniel’s prophecy and also in Jesus’ prophecy, to be "a Time of Trouble, such as never was since there was a nation."
Bible students see this great Time of Trouble already beginning in the letting loose of the winds of strife in Europe. In the light of the Bible they perceive that the result of this war will be great weakening of the nations—governments of the earth, and increased knowledge and discontent amongst the people. The next phase of the trouble, according to the Bible, is to be the great "earthquake" such as never was since man was upon the earth—not a literal earthquake, but a symbolic one—a revolution.
Then the third great phase of the calamity, the darkest of all, will be the symbolic fire of anarchy, which will destroy utterly our present civilization. And then, in the midst of that most awful Time of Trouble, Messiah, the great King, will take His great power and exercise it, with the result that the raging waves of the sea of human passion will all be quieted; the fires of anarchy will all be extinguished, and the Reign of Righteousness and Peace will begin.
Cannot we see the wisdom of the great Creator’s
Program—that He will allow mankind to convince themselves of their own impotency; of their need of a God and that there is a God and that His glorious purposes for humanity are revealed in His Word? Ah, no wonder that the Bible speaks of that revelation of the Lord as "the still small voice of God," speaking to mankind through Messiah’s Kingdom! No wonder the Lord declares that "then He will turn to the people a pure Message, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord to serve Him with one consent"!—
We rejoice that such glorious things are coming—even if it is necessary that the world reach them through the tribulation of the Time of Trouble. Happy are those whose eyes and ears of understanding are open now, and who are in such heart relationship with the Lord that He can make known to them in advance something of the riches of His grace and loving kindness and tender mercies, and can show them how all the troubles that are coming are intended to work out blessings for the human family. Surely as we come to the knowledge of the Divine character and Plan, our perfect love for God casts out all fear; and we are able to rejoice in all of His prophecies and promises.
Watchman, tell us of the night; Higher yet that star ascends.
Traveler, blessedness and light, Peace and truth its course portends.
Watchman, will its beams alone Gild the spot that gave them birth?
Traveler, ages are its own; See, its glory fills the earth.
Watchman, tell us of the night, For the morning seems to dawn.
Traveler, darkness takes its flight, Doubt and terror are withdrawn.
Watchman, will earth’s sorrows cease, And God’s will on earth be done?
Traveler, yes, the Prince of Peace, Earth’s appointed King, has come!