By C. T. Russell Pastor New York, Washington and Cleveland Temples and the Brooklyn and London Tabernacles
"Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."—#Ga 6:7.
A VERY important lesson centers in these words of the inspired St. Paul. In our lives and characters are certain things with which we have nothing to do. From our ancestors we have received something for which we are not responsible. For instance, we had nothing to do with Adam’s sin and its effects. We have to do only with what we ourselves sow.
Those things which have come to us by heredity, not by our own volition—conditions over which we had no control—are all arranged for in our great Creator’s plan. In Christ, God has made provision for the covering of all the imperfections that have come to us through the fall, so that we are not responsible for anything but what we sow. God will attend to what Adam sowed. He has provided a just Sacrifice for the unjust sinner; for as by man (Adam) came sin and death, so also by the Man Christ Jesus will come deliverance from those imperfections which result from Father Adam.
This is applicable not only to the Church now, but will be applicable to the whole world during the Millennial Age. The world of mankind will not be held responsible for what their fathers sowed, though now all suffer for those things. "The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge." (#Eze 18:2; #Jer 31:29,30.) In this present life we shall suffer from these disabilities. But this is true only of this life.
The seed of sinful sowing brings a certain harvest, the same as sowing wheat brings wheat.
Living in Basement of Brain.
What are the seeds mankind have been sowing for six thousand years? We see the world in general sowing to selfishness, to self-gratification. Nearly all have been thus sowing, trying to serve their tastes, their preferences for food, clothing, everything under the sun. Man tries to satisfy his desires, and most of the fallen man’s desires are for sinful things; but from the Adamic fall he has received a selfish bent. Thus the selfish impulses are more active than are the higher powers of his mind.
In the top of the brain lie the nobler powers of the mind: such as the sense of right and wrong, reverence, benevolence—good qualities, which bring man’s highest blessings.
Whoever can live in the top of his brain, instead of down in the cellar, the base of the brain, will have the nobler life. There are organs that belong merely to the flesh. Some people live for food and drink only. Others do not care so much for these things, but have
OV393 other morbid cravings. If we had none of the quality of alimentiveness in our brain, we would not enjoy eating, which would then be a mere matter of form and might be neglected. But if we are in good health, we relish our daily meals. This should lead to thankfulness to the Lord, from whom all our blessings come.
If, however, the organ of alimentiveness is in control, is served particularly and continually, the person will live only to eat and drink. He will live down in the basement of his brain. He will not have the highest joys. Such a condition would be an over-balance of that part of the brain.
Man became unbalanced away back in Eden, and we have had six thousand years of development in that direction, so that by this time the heads of a good portion of mankind are largely empty as regards the nobler sentiments, or at best these organs are largely dormant. Men have been too much occupied with eating, planting and building, with running after the gratification of the pleasures of sense, living more like animals than like beings created in the image of God.
Gratification of legitimate cravings is proper to a certain degree with mankind. There is nothing wrong in a man’s enjoying his food and other bodily comforts. But is the making of these the chief aim of life—the sitting or lolling around to kill time, and the doing of this, that and the other thing just as they happen to come along—that shows the empty head. Some very good people, as the world goes, spend considerable time in dancing and card-playing. To me it seems that those who have time to burn, to kill, those who spend their time in thinking merely about things which are on the same level with the horse and the dog, are living on a very low, animal plane. They do just what a good breed of animal would do.
Man’s Aspirations If Perfect.
God has given man a brain very different from all the lower animals. We have the quality of brain and the powers of mind to reason along abstract lines. We can study mathematics, dynamics, astronomy, geology, political economy. We can discern between right and wrong. We can know God’s will and study His Word. Animals cannot do these things.
But the average man does not care to think about God or about anything beyond the interests of the present life. He does not wish to think about dying. He ought to think, There is a great God; He has a sympathy and love for me, and I would be glad to know what He has to say to me. It would be natural to a noble mind to ask what God has for us, and to reason that it must be something good, because God is good. God is wise, just and loving, and has a deep interest in His creatures.
If things were as they should be, man would be feeling after God. He would desire to know about the Divine Plan of the Ages—how sin came into the world; how God has sympathy, and sent His Son to be our Redeemer, to make satisfaction for sin; how in due time He will make satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. Man would be interested to learn how it is that some know all of this beforehand, in order that they may be associated with the Lord Jesus in blessing the world. Why do they not care to know these things? It is because Satan has blinded men’s minds, and because they are so fallen that to a large degree they have lost the image of God, in which man was originally created. Moreover, false doctrines have come in, also from Satan and the other fallen angels.
Present Experiences a Lesson to Angels.
The Apostle Paul says that "the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not." (#2Co 4:4.) They do not believe because their eyes are holden; for Satan does not wish them to see the light of the glorious goodness of God shining
OV394 in the face of Jesus Christ. If men could only get a glimpse of God’s goodness in Christ, the entire world would be converted. Why, then, does not God reveal His glory to them? For the reason that He purposes to do so in the Millennial Kingdom. Through Christ He will then open the blind eyes, unstop the deaf ears, and cause all men to know the Lord.—#Isa 35:5; #Jer 31:34.
For a wise purpose God has permitted Satan to take his course. But in due time the Almighty will take control—in the very near future. He told our first parents that they should die because of their sin. It was Satan who said that they should not die. If they chose to believe Satan, the responsibility was their own. God permitted them to take that course.
Why should God do this? Because He wished to teach a great lesson; first to the angels, then to men. The angels are learning every day. They desire to look into these things, as the Apostle Peter assures us. (#1Pe 1:10-12.) Throughout the six thousand years during which God has permitted evil on earth, the angels have been looking on. The introduction of evil was a great test to them at first. When they saw the power of Lucifer, Satan, and observed that God did not correct him at the beginning of his career of rebellion, some of them concluded that God could not stop him. So many of them decided to follow Lucifer.
Did God wish this? Yes; if their hearts were disloyal, He did not desire to have them associated in the Kingdom regulations. So He let them have the test. He let them take their own course. Now that they are over in Satan’s ranks, they are finding that God has the power; but they have demonstrated that they have not been in harmony with Him.
For a time the other angels were bewildered; nevertheless, they trusted God. They have now seen the wisdom of His course.
All the while God had the power, but simply did not exercise it. The holy angels see now how foolish it would have been for them to choose sin. They can see that doing right is better than doing wrong. All the holy angels perceive that they were wise to trust God, even though for awhile it looked as though He was powerless to stop Satan or to save the fallen race that Satan had led astray.
Man’s Present Condition Temporary.
The world of mankind have been going down into death, but the world is not eternally lost. God has known all the time what would be the outcome; and all the time He has had a Plan for their recovery. They have been only asleep in death; for God, before He revealed His plan of Redemption, had it in mind for man. In fact, He had it in mind before the foundation of the world. The Lord Jesus was the very Essence of that Plan, the very Center. He was to be the great Ransom-sacrificer for all, and later the great King of Glory to lift mankind out of death. All this was known to the Father. Jesus was the Lamb slain (in Jehovah’s Purpose) from before the world was.
It is a good thing to find out how great a God we have; to learn that He is not only all-wise, all-powerful and all-just, but—still more precious—that the very essence of His character is Love. This great Plan which God is carrying out has a still further purpose in developing sympathy and other noble traits in mankind. He is letting the world go down to the tomb; but no one suffers very long.
Brevity of Life Now a Blessing.
This condition has lasted more than six thousand years, although no one person has suffered more than a small fraction of that time. Many have been taken away very suddenly; many have died in infancy; some have died of consumption or of fever; others have been killed with bullets: still others with poisonous gases. But it was only a brief experience. It is not like roasting in torture throughout all eternity. For a person to suffer for a
OV449 few days, to have a tooth-ache, a head-ache, a heart-ache, may do him good.
Man’s experience may develop patience and give the sufferer sympathy for others. All our aches and pains should make us sympathetic. If you never had any pain, you could not imagine what was the matter with people when they talked about their aches and pains. But since we all have aches and pains, bruises and heart-aches, we know what they are, and can sympathize with others who have them. Then, besides, these experiences are only for a moment, so to speak—"light afflictions," in comparison to the blessings in store for humanity.
These things are giving the world a great lesson. Mankind are not bound for eternal torment. They are simply falling asleep in death for a time. It is better that they fall asleep than that they should stay awake long—better under present conditions. If they are inclined to right, it is better that they fall asleep, for the reason that their experiences are not prolonged and are not so much of a conflict. It is better also in the case of those who do evil, who know how to make bombs and all kinds of deadly instruments for injuring and destroying their fellow creatures, or who rob the widow and the orphan. If such were not cut off in death, we do not know what wickedness they would learn to do in a thousand years. Some in their selfishness would get all the money in the world. It is a good thing that they are dying off. We are glad, however, that they are merely falling asleep and not dying like a beast, to live no more.
God has a future of glorious opportunity for all. We are glad that our God has so wonderful a Plan. There are some things that we do not yet fully understand, but we are sure that our great Creator knows what He is about. There is no need to worry about the final outcome. We see enough to convince us fully and to satisfy us; and we rest it there. If you are not trying to do right, not trying to please the Lord, then you have something about which to be concerned.
Experiences on Awakening from Death.
All these present conditions will be so overruled as to have a beneficial effect upon the world. Mankind fell asleep in death with certain knowledge and experiences. Even those errors which God has permitted to come in will work out good. How could they ever work out good? In this way: Imagine some of the poor people awakening in the Resurrection Day and taking up the same thought with which they fell asleep. They will wake up saying: Where am I?
Where is the Devil? Where is the fire? and the torment? There is neither Devil nor fire around here, they will be told; those things that were told you when you were alive before were simply scare-crows which the Devil used to drive men away from God!
They were the very things that made you hate God. But we have found that the Bible tells about the Love of God, and says nothing whatever about those dreadful things we used to be taught. They were doctrines of devils. Cheer up, brother; you are just entering upon the best time of your life.
Are you deceiving me? he will ask in bewilderment. Oh, no! will be the reply. Satan is bound for a thousand years that he may deceive the people no more. You are going to have a grand time, coming into harmony with God, learning to know Him, whom to know is life everlasting. We shall all get everlasting life if we do right. Shall I become an angel? he will ask. No; you are too late for that. You knew some saintly people when you were alive before, did you not? Oh, yes; my parents were devout Christians.
They are in the Kingdom now, joint-heirs with our Lord Jesus Christ, reigning with Him. During the Gospel Age, whoever would walk in Jesus’
OV450 footsteps might have a change of nature and a special resurrection to become spirit beings—like Christ. \What can I get? Restitution—restoration to what Adam was when created. We are told that all our infirmities will gradually disappear, until by the close of Christ’s Reign we shall be absolutely perfect, if we keep in the right way. Then, if we remain in harmony with God, we shall receive everlasting life. Now is your opportunity. Be one of those who will live only for God. In the past you sowed to the flesh. You wasted your time. You used your whole body improperly. You have learned a lesson; put it to good use. Hereafter, try to live in harmony with God’s will. This will be sowing properly; and by and bye you will have a good crop.
Thus those living when the Kingdom is set up can enlighten others who come up from the tomb; and these in turn can assist others. The incorrigible alone will suffer the Second Death—destruction.
"We are living, we are dwelling, In a grand and awful time, In an Age on ages telling, To be living is sublime.
Hark, the rumbling in the nations, Iron crumbling with the clay: Hark, what soundeth? ‘Tis creation Groaning for a better Day."