December 29, 1907


Pottstown, Pa., Dec. 29 Pastor C T Russell, of Allegheny, Pa., preached twice here today in the Auditorium. He had a splendid hearing both forenoon and afternoon. We report the morning discourse from the text, "Awake thou that sleepest, and rise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." (Eph. 5:1) He said:

Sometimes the scriptures speak of natural sleep, and sometimes, as in the present case, they use the word figuratively. Sometimes they speak literally of the resurrection, the awakening of the dead, and sometimes, as in our text, they use the statement figuratively. Those who can understand nothing except the literal are as blameworthy as those who fail to understand the literal and appreciate only the symbolical. We must learn, as the apostle suggests, to rightly divide the word of truth to discern the actualities and also to appreciate the symbolism drawn therefrom. Our text presupposes the world in a general sleep of lethargy, stupor, ignorance, as respects the great and wonderful features of the divine plan, and in this respect it agrees with the entire testimony of the Bible, which shows that the light of divine revelation during this gospel age is designed only for a special class of mankind only for those who have come into relationship with God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Others are said to be in "darkness," in "outer darkness," "asleep."


The world is as unawake to the true spiritual things of the divine plan as it ever was. Only a few who figuratively "hear the voice of the Son of Man" - "the voice of Him that speaketh from heaven" only those are really meant by our text. But in another sense of the word we are living in a time of general awakening amongst mankind. More thinking is done along all lines than at any previous period. We understand the scriptures to teach that this general awakening is a part of the divine Providence incidental to the ushering in of the new dispensation the millennium. It would have been an easy matter for the Lord to have aroused the world, quickened investigation, and lifted the veil of mystery along various lines of human invention long ago. Such men as Edison tell us that their richest findings in the field of invention they stumbled upon. True, they do a large amount of searching; but the finding is usually in a place and along lines which they had not at first surmised. This seems to have been the history of all the inventions of our wonderful day. It is of the Lord that we have the electric light instead of the tallow candle.

It is of the Lord's providence that within the last seventy-five years steam and electric railroads have been invented and brought to such wonderful proficiency.

In these conclusions we are merely following the scriptural suggestions of the Old Testament. Moses was instructed to prepare the tabernacle its furniture, etc., according to peculiar patterns; and when there were no artisans capable of the work the Lord instructed him that he should choose out from amongst the people cunning workmen, and that the Lord would put His spirit upon them to the extent necessary to accomplish His will. So in our day the Lord's spirit, the Lord's power, has been operating through the chemists, machinists, etc., for the perfecting of various inventions which afford so great comfort and so largely augment the wealth of the world. [HGL407] The printing press has kept pace with the rapid increase of learning amongst the people, and human invention has found the way to turn trees into paper, and thus to carry enlightenment to the increasing millions of those awakening from the ignorance and superstition and stupor of the past along various lines. Two of the large dailies of New York City alone consume twelve cars of timber per day in this manner, and scatter it to the four winds for the further awakening and enlightenment of the masses. What a picture is before us. What an influence for good or for evil.

We are not of those who believe in total depravity. On the contrary, we believe that very few are so illy born as to be devoid of an appreciation of truth and righteousness, and some desire for them. But, alas! as the scriptures declare, "There is none righteous, no, not one." (Rom. 3:10) In the minds and bodies of all there are seeds of selfishness, meanness, depravity, inherited through the fall of Father Adam and accentuated as his posterity have come down and down more and more, losing the image and likeness of God in which he was created. None can dispute the statement of scriptures that we "are born in sin, shapen in iniquity, in sin did our mothers conceive us." This being the condition, it is manifest to every one that mankind needs strong government for the suppression of sin, for the encouragement of the elementary principles of righteousness, for the building up the race along the lines of its fall. But we find also that there is no such reign of righteousness today, and, furthermore, that mankind in general are becoming so imbued with the sentiment of independence, love of freedom, etc., that few would be ready to voluntarily support a reign of absolute righteousness, justice, equality, which would give to every man an equal opportunity with his neighbors, and no more. Selfishness has maintained its full strength in the human character during the fall, while benevolence has gradually suffered. The ambition of all who are awakening seems to be to selfishly obtain the largest and the fattest portions of earth and its comforts for themselves. This natural propensity or disposition is the rule almost without exception. Even amongst those who are sincerely seeking to walk in the footsteps of the Redeemer, and in whom His Spirit exercises considerable sway, there is generally a substratum of selfishness which needs combating with all the strength of the individual, backed by his growing benevolence, to keep him in the narrow way of self-sacrifice.


The wisdom of the Lord in withholding the special enlightenment now causing this present awakening becomes more and more manifest as we come to realize the meaning of the world's situation at the present time. We have already pointed out in the Millennial Dawn volumes that our Lord, the apostles and prophets, in the Scriptures, fore-announced this tidal wave of enlightenment and the good and evil consequences which should result. We have given the Scriptural proofs that the evil consequences will be anarchy, world wide engulfing everything financial, political, social and religious, and also that God will use that extremity of human perplexity and discord and unwisdom to teach mankind important lessons respecting his dependence upon his Creator for guidance and aid; and that, following up that lesson of need, the Lord will establish the great kingdom of righteousness the kingdom of God's dear Son the millennial kingdom. That kingdom will be the one necessary to deal with mankind along the lines of enlightenment and along the lines of truth and righteousness and justice.

How wise, then, it was on God's part to allow the world to die in a measure of darkness during the past centuries until His due time had come for the establishment of His kingdom. Not in vain do the Scriptures declare that unless those days of anarchy which are coming which we believe will be witnessed within the next seven years be shortened there would be no flesh saved. While the race in general lay asleep in darkness, ignorance and superstition, the few guided its affairs according to their own interests, which generally meant conservative governments. The kings for the most part avoided war, from fear of loss to their own prosperity or dominion surely not always in the interest of their people, for the preservation of their lives and their property. Surely not always, either, were wars undertaken or avoided along the lines of justice or of love. The black history of the past forbids that we take such views. But now the awakening of the people means individualism the thought of each for himself for his own gain, for his own prosperity. There are exceptions to every rule, and we are not considering the exceptions but the rule. Under the enlightenment of our day distinctly mentioned in the Scriptures as the period in which "many will run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased" (Dan. 12:4) the influences are making rapidly for that condition of competition which will eventually disintegrate the world and bring about the anarchous state described in the Scriptures as the time in which "every man's hand shall be against his neighbor." Selfishness will thus go to seed, and the crop will be wonderful terrible.


Our text does not refer to such an awakening as we have just described. During this Gospel age the Lord has indeed been awakening some, but not with a view to making them more selfish, not with a view to hastening them into a time of trouble. As already intimated, only a peculiar class of the Lord's people all through this age have been awakened, those who have heard the voice of the Son of man and His voice not only awakens them, but calls them to arise from the dead. Here we call to mind our Lord's words: "The hour is coming and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live." The time for the majority of the world to hear this voice is the hour that is coming, the period of the millennial age, when all the blind eyes shall be opened and all the deaf ears shall be unstopped, and when the knowledge of the glory of God shall fill the whole earth. Our dear Redeemer says that this hour is not only a coming one, it began with the beginning of this Gospel age in a very limited measure. Some can hear now, though they are few. Of them the Master says, "Blessed are your eyes for they see and your ears for they hear." There is a special blessing connected with this true hearing of the voice of the Son of man in this age the blessing of a special privilege, a special calling, a special opportunity of becoming members [HGL408] of the kingdom class, the bride class joint heirs with the great Redeemer himself in the millennial kingdom. The world in general is not only asleep in the sense of being unconscious of the great divine plan, but it is also dead in sins, and a sentence of death is upon all, inherited through Father Adam. Rom. 5:12

Whoever during this age and now is in that proper condition of honesty of heart and desire for righteousness that will permit him to hearken, to hear the voice of the Lord in this present time, hears a denunciation of sin and proclamation of the divine standard of righteousness, and additionally a message of God's loving mercy in His provision of the death of Jesus as man's ransom substitute, through whose stripes all of our blemishes are healed. To all who hear this message it has appealed that they rise from the dead, that they separate themselves wholly from the dead world, that they begin to live reasonable, sane lives, in harmony with their Creator and His laws of justice and love. The actual resurrection of the future, we are told, will be by the power of God, because the actually dead have no power to help themselves. But in our text the figuratively dead ones who hear the voice of the Lord are called upon to arise from the dead to separate themselves. "Come out from amongst them and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, saith the Lord." (2 Cor. 6:17) This, of course, as the apostle explains, does not mean that we must entirely disassociate ourselves from our neighbors and relatives who belong to this dead class not vitally related to our Redeemer and not thoroughly turned from darkness to light, from sin to righteousness -not begotten again of the Holy Spirit. St. Paul declares that to do this would mean that we would be obliged to go out of the world. (1 Cor. 5:10) The right thought is clearly given us, namely, that we should be in the world but not of the world separate from the world in our minds and dispositions, our aim in life and our methods.


By and by, during the millennial age, when mankind in general will hear the voice of the Son of Man and they that hear shall live, the hearing will not be so difficult as now and obedience to the voice of the Son of Man will not be so difficult as at present. To hear, to obey, now this voice from heaven, and to arise from the dead, mean frequently the breaking of tender ties, sometimes the loss of earthly prospects, sometimes tribulations of one kind and sometimes of another. Our Master indicated this when He said, "Whosoever will be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me," and again. "Narrow is the gate and difficult the way that leadeth unto life." "Ye are the light of the world," but "the darkness hateth the light." "Marvel not if the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you." "If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub (prince of devils) they will not speak approvingly of you if you follow my course."

But why should this be so? If right is right, if it is good, if it is blessed, if it is to be preferred to evil and sin, why should not the world of mankind praise, laud and honor those who seek to walk in the Lord's steps? We answer that the world is blind to these things; the world knoweth us not even as it knew Him not. If Jesus were living in the flesh today no doubt fault would be found with Him as it was during the years of His ministry and as it is with His followers today. Our Lord explained the reason, namely, that wherever the light shines it is a reproof to darkness. So wherever truth and righteousness, according to their highest standards, are enunciated or lived, there is an opposition on the part of those who by this would be condemned, reproved, and this includes nearly all of the great of the world, whose lives are ruled by selfishness in some form unavoidably so, because they have no higher ideals, not being begotten of the holy spirit. It is for this reason that our Lord declares that no one could be popular with the world and with the Heavenly Father his popularity with the world would mean unfaithfulness to God.

When we see that to rise from the dead in this sense will mean the breaking of tender ties, we will not be understood as advocating that the enlightened ones, the quickened ones, should desert their families or their mates in life, or be careless of their stewardship in life. Quite to the contrary, the admonitions of the Lord's word should make them the better husbands, the better wives, the better parents, the better children, the better neighbors, the better friends, whose constant influence and Christian aim would be to bless and do good. The difficulties which we are forewarned will come upon the Lord's faithful ones are not to arise from faults of theirs, as the apostle says, "Let none of you suffer as an evildoer or as a busybody in other men's matters. But if any man suffer as a Christian let him not be ashamed." (1 Pet. 4:15) The sounder mind of the new creature in Christ will enable Him to deal more kindly, more generously with those with whom he has to do in life, the dead, but will hold him to a strict responsibility in religious matters to the Lord to His teachings as set forth in His word.


Notice that the enlightenment is not to be expected, according to our text, until after we have been awakened from our slumber and have taken the positive step of separation from this world arising from the dead. Then Christ will give us light. Hence this expression, "Arise from the dead," is the equivalent to other scriptural expressions signifying a complete consecration to the Lord, a presenting of our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God through Jesus an entrance of the difficult gate and narrow way. Whoever, therefore, is expecting to have clear light and knowledge of the divine plan whoever is expecting to understand the Bible without first having taken the steps of faith and consecration, and awakening and arising from the dead, have a wrong expectation. We must indeed have a measure of enlightenment before we can exercise faith, but this in our text is represented by the words, "Awake, O, sleeper!" The awaking is our enlightenment our discovery and our condition of sin, degradation and condemnation to death, and of God's mercy and love and provision for us. But whoever does not use this measure of enlightenment by arising from the dead, by a full consecration to the Lord, does not come into the glorious privileges of the children of God does not come to a knowledge of the deep things of God. This is the picture given us in Israel's tabernacle and court. [HGL409] First, there was the gateway, in front of which stood the altar, and the believer was typically represented as coming from without into the court. First, he discerned the altar of sacrifice, which implied a realization of his own sin and of God's provision for us: secondly he beheld the laver for washing, not cleansing, which implied that all who would approach God must do all in their power to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, if they would perfect holiness. The next step was for the justified one to pass beyond the first veil out of the court into the holy, where stood the table of shewbread, representing his spiritual food, and the golden candlestick giving a special light, which none outside could see and appreciate or understand. Thus the Lord shows His gracious provision for those who awaken now and who arise from the dead that they may have a special food, the heavenly bread, and the special privileges of the golden altar of incense, at which they may approach the throne of the heavenly grace and obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Heb. 4:16


These justified, spirit begotten ones, started on the new way, not only get a special enlightenment at its beginning but they find it, as the scriptures have foretold, a "path of the just which shineth more and more until the perfect day." (Prov. 4:18) This is true of the church individually and collectively. Individually, our Christian experience should grow brighter every day, every year, and the end of the path should thus be refulgent with the light of the knowledge of the glory of God -of His character of His plans, of our relationship to Him, of His love and care and provision for us and for the world of mankind. But while this is true, the thought of the prophecy especially applies to the church as a whole, whose pathway has been a shining one, enlightened by the lamp of the divine word; and its illumination now in the end of this age to those who are on this pathway is exceeding great. To those who are walking in the light the present time is one of great refreshment and blessing and spiritual strengthening. God, foreseeing the awakening coming to the world and the increase of knowledge along the lines of earthly wisdom, knew that the church also would need a special blessing of enlightenment; hence His promise that at this time the wise should understand not the worldly wise, but the wise toward God of whom our Redeemer spoke, saying, "I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent and has revealed them unto babes" the truly wise. (Matt. 11:25) Various scriptures assure the church of a special blessing from the Lord at the present time, and this promise has been more than fulfilled. The divine plan for the church and subsequently for all who will of all mankind is now cheering and comforting the hearts of God's people in the most remarkable manner.

There never was a time when Christian people required more decision of character than now. It might be thought by some that in the "dark ages" when conscientious convictions sometimes caused martyrdom, that more decision of character was needed than at present -when such public martyrdoms are barred by public sentiment; but we believe this is not the case. Outward and fierce persecutions develop martyrs. Today there are undoubtedly thousands who would be willing to go to the stake rather than to renounce their allegiance to the Lord; while many of those thousands, tested along more subtle lines, would waver and yield. We see this, for instance, in every direction and in all denominations. True, honest Christians, who would die promptly rather than deny the Lord, are captured by a more subtle temptation, and really deny Him and His word by subscribing to creed tenets which they do not believe, and by ignoring and failing to enunciate what they really do believe. In a word, the latter course is so general amongst ministers and church officials that, false and dishonorable though it be, the conscience excuses it, palliates it and finally endorses it, even though the word of God condemns it and declares that such is not the course of the overcomers for whom has been provided the great prize of the high calling of God.

The end of this age, as we have already suggested, is to witness anarchy throughout the whole civilized world Christendom and is to involve religious as well as civil institutions. The elect are assured that they shall be accounted worthy to escape those things coming upon the world. We understand this to signify that all of the "elect" shall be "changed," will pass beyond the vail through the power of the first resurrection before the severity of the crisis of the world's trouble. But the scriptures as clearly foreshow that just before the world's cataclysm of trouble there will be a special time of trial and trouble upon the church. The apostles repeatedly call this to our attention, and our Lord's great prophecy of this time also does so. The Apostle says, "The fire (trouble) of that day shall try every man's work of what sort it is." (1 Cor. 3:13) He proceeds to show that every Christian who is building upon Christ as a pure foundation will be saved if he maintains his stand there; but the faith-structures of many, founded upon the wood, hay and stubble of human traditions and "doctrines of devils" would be consumed by the fire of this day. He declares that while some faith-structures would stand the tests, others will suffer loss and be "saved so as by fire."

Referring to the same times elsewhere, the same apostle says that the Lord "will send (permit) strong delusions that they may believe a lie, because they had no pleasure in the truth." (2 Thess. 2:11) We are to understand from this that the fiery trials with which this age will end will closely test their faith-structure throughout Christendom, and that the Lord intends this to be so that the approved may be made manifest and that the others may receive corrections in righteousness, which will eventually work out for them salvation as a great company who will wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the lamb, in that time of trouble. (Rev. 7:14) Those who keep their garments unspotted from the world by carefully seeking to know and to do the will of the Lord and by applying for forgiveness and cleaning for their unwilling faults, constitute the "little flock," the bride class, the very elect, who will be joint-heirs in the kingdom, seated with the Lord in His throne. This class, elsewhere styled the 144,000 who follow the lamb whithersoever he goeth, are quite separate and distinct from the great company of saved Christians who will come [HGL410] up out of great tribulation to stand before the throne with palm-branches of victory, instead of being seated in the throne with crowns of glory.


The apostle wrote, "Knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed." (Rom. 13:11) Surely we are still nearer to the consummation of our hopes; surely, therefore, the Lord's people today should be more than awake should be more than ever separate from the dead world should have still higher ideals as we have better hopes than others. And in view of what we have just seen respecting the testing time now due, we should be doubly on the alert that, as the apostle says, "Ye may be found of him in peace at his appearing." The special trials of our day we have referred to, and may refer to again more particularly. On this occasion we content ourselves with impressing our text upon our hearts, upon our minds, trusting that the influence may extend to all the actions and affairs of life especially to our loyalty to the Lord, His brethren and His truth, "Awake thou that sleepest, and rise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light."

The opening of a New Year is most auspicious for the formation of fresh resolves and starting anew in the way of righteousness, after making our peace with the Lord and accepting by faith His forgiveness for the blemishes of the past. Let us forget the things that are behind and press onward to the things that are before the prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus.

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