April 18, 1904


Pastor C T Russell of Allegheny spoke twice yesterday to good audiences at Baltimore. His afternoon subject was, "The Divine Program an Index to the Divine Character." The evening subject was, "Why Is the Gate So Difficult and the Way So Narrow Leading Unto Eternal Life, and Will They Always Be So?" The close attention given indicated clearly the interest felt in these weighty topics. The use of the "Chart of the Ages," illustrating these subjects, while doubtless helpful to the hearers, rendered the matter of reporting more difficult. A synopsis of the two discourses follows:

The text for the afternoon was, "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil." -Luke 6:45 The speaker said:

Unbelief, infidelity, scans the work of God and judges it along the lines of our text, saying that if this be sound logic in respect to the conduct of a man, it must be equally a proper basis of judgment respecting the divine character-that if God be a good being His work as represented in the world must be a good work; and that if His work in the world be an evil one, it must be understood to imply an evil heart, an evil disposition. We cannot object to the terms of this criticism-surely right is right and wrong is wrong wherever found, irrespective of the person, his greatness or his littleness.

We must meet infidelity upon this reasonable platform, and must answer its charge: "If there is a God, He is an evil being, because evil, sin, trouble, sorrow, pain abound in the world." Many Christian people find themselves weak at this important juncture, so that instead of being able to refute the charges of infidelity and atheism, they are obliged to take refuge in flight and in a closing of their minds, refusing to consider a question which

they recognize as being reasonable, namely: "How does your God justify His claims respecting His justice, wisdom, love and power?"

We hope, dear friends, that one result of this series of meetings for Bible study will be the refreshment of your own hearts respecting the divine character, as illustrated in the divine plan; and that a secondary result will be your ability henceforth to so comprehend the divine program that it will justify the divine character in your own judgments, and will enable you to so present it to others that they, too, may be able to glorify God in their minds as well as in their conduct.

We have but one text book on this subject, the Bible; but by the grace of God it not only gives us the history of the world for the 4,000 years up to the Christian era, but [HGL204] through its promises and prophecies it unfolds the story of the present and also of the future. In the light of the past, the present and the future as presented to us in God's revelation, we have an all-sufficient answer to every objection that can be urged from the standpoint of infidelity. Here we have the firm foundation of which the poet wrote, saying:

"How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, Is laid for your faith in His excellent WordWhat more can He say than to you He hath said? You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled."

In coming to the Word of God for enlightenment we must beware of human tradition, which has done so much to confuse and bewilder, not only the world, but many of those who reverence and study the Scriptures. The Lord remarked this at His first advent, saying to some of the prominent teachers of that time: "Ye do make void the Word of God through your traditions." Everywhere the Scriptures urge the Lord's people to search the Scriptures. The Apostle Peter suggests to us that it is a lamp shining in a dark place until the day's dawn-until the dawn of the Millennial day, the age which is to follow the present one. The intimation is that there is a great deal of darkness surrounding us on the divine plan at the present time, and hence that we as the Lord's people need His Word and need to have it unobscured by human philosophies and theories. The same thought is presented to us by the Lord through the Prophet Isaiah, saying: "Darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the people" (Isa. 60:2). The Psalmist David prophetically represents the Lord's consecrated church and says: "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, an lantern to my footsteps" (Psa. 119:105). The intimation is the same that prevails throughout the Scriptures-that darkness is everywhere and that the only light that we have is in God's revelation. The suggestion further is that this lamp is not one which enlightens a large space, but is merely for the immediate steps of the Lord's people, the illustration being that of a lamp fastened to the sandal to shed its light upon the immediate path of the traveler.


The wisdom of this world, which God calls foolishness, but which calls itself light-philosophies, science, higher criticism, etc. -tells us that the Bible is not trustworthy, that it is foolishness, that it is read in the rocks that creation came purely and simply by processes of evolution, and that if there is a God, and if He had anything to do with creation, it was a very insignificant part that he played. It tells us that in the process of evolution monkeys, baboons and apes were finally produced, and that a still further step in the same process developed Father Adam, the first man, and that consequently he was but one removed from the monkey; that the process of evolution has been gradually and grandly lifting up the race, until it has attained its present degree of individual development; that their hopes are that nothing will occur to interfere with this good progress, and that in time men may be developed into gods. Indeed, some "higher critics" seem to think that they are very nearly at that point now-they are wise, they know all about it, they are better able to instruct us than any teachers who ever were in the world; they are sure of this, but we doubt it. We tell them that "the world by wisdom knows not God," and that in God's Word we find a more excellent way. They were taught that we must base everything upon the testimony of the Bible, and they claim that they themselves are far superior to the God of the Bible as represented in His workmanship in nature and His messages in the Scriptures.

We reply, Not so! They have misunderstood the Scriptures. They have misinterpreted them. Their attempt to mix philosophy with divine revelation has confused them and made void certain teachings of the Scriptures necessary to be appreciated in order that the harmony and reasonableness of the divine plan and the divine character be seen.

Let us take up the scriptural view of this matter, dear friends, and note the declaration of the Bible to the effect that God specially created our first parents-not in the image and likeness of monkeys, but in His own image, in His own likeness-not imperfect, but, as declared by the Prophet David, a little lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor, as God's representative in the earth, the ruler and king of earth. Science tells us that there was no place in the world fit for a perfect man six thousand years ago. The Scriptures agree that the world in general was not in a condition fit for perfect humanity, but explain to us that God prepared for father Adam a suitable place, an Eden, a paradise, where everything was beautiful to look upon and where a full provision was made for everything necessary for his comfort and sustenance. The Scriptures explain that Adam was given a trial for life or for death, and that by choosing a course of disobedience he chose the course which he knew would result in death. They tell us the divine sentence passed upon him. They explain to us the laws of heredity, that all of his posterity inherited the bane, the curse, the sentence of death, and that in consequence we are all born in sin, and sickness and sorrow and pain attend us more or less directly and insistently from the cradle to the grave.

Infidelity points us to the barbarous and degraded and semi-civilized, and tells us that all men were thus once low and that evolution has been lifting them up. The Scriptures tell us through the Apostle Paul that these degraded conditions of the world are the results of sin and wilfulness. The apostle says that when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; therefore, God gave them over to a reprobate mind and to the doing of those things which were not proper, and they defiled and degraded themselves. (Rom. 1:21-28) The apostle points out to us God's foreknowledge of our fallen conditions, and His compassion for us, and His arrangement for our redemption from the curse of sin-from death, the penalty of sin. He tells us that as the whole race sprang from one man, and that one man was a sinner upon whom the sentence came personally, and through whom it came to all his posterity naturally by heredity, so if one man could have been found perfect he could have redeemed the first man, had he been willing to sacrifice his life for the purpose. But we are assured that there is none righteous, no, not one; that not one of our race is able to give to God a ransom for his brother, and hence the case was hopeless so far as we were concerned. The apostle explains that God Himself [HGL205] provided the ransom in the person of His Son, who left the glory of the Father and who became "the man Christ Jesus:" in order that He might "by the grace of God taste death for every man" -in order that He might thus pay the penalty for Adam, and release Adam and all of his posterity from the sentence of death-that he might make possible the resurrection of the race.

The Scriptures show us that the Lord Jesus fulfilled the divine program to the extent of giving His life as our redemption price, that He finished the work given Him to do, that He then ascended up on high, and that every preparation is thus made whereby God can be just and yet justify him that believeth in Jesus. These have been privileged to believe in Jesus Christ during this Gospel age, and to receive a blessing corresponding to their faith and their conscience, and this class is the Church, the Bride of Christ, and the household of faith, whose numbers all together are small.

The Scriptures clearly set forth that God's plan is not yet ended, that a very important part of it is yet future, and that part is the establishing of a reign of righteousness in the world and the blessing of all mankind with a knowledge of God and of His gracious arrangements on their behalf through Jesus, and of an opportunity for all to return to harmony with God and to return, proportionately, to all the blessings that were originally bestowed upon father Adam, lost by his disobedience and redeemed for us by Christ. The period of this blessing and uplifting and recovery of the world from sin and death and of their reconciliation to God, is the Millennial age, and for it the Scriptures tell us that we should wait patiently and prayerfully. We might quote many Scriptures on the point, but remind you of the words of the Lord Jesus, "After this manner pray ye, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is done in heaven."

The Apostle James exhorts the Lord's people in similar strain, saying, "Be patient, brethren; the coming of the Lord draweth nigh," and the coming of the Lord means the coming of the kingdom for which we pray and wait-the Millennial kingdom-the "kingdom of God's dear Son." And in that kingdom the believers of this present time, who manifest a sufficiency of zeal for the Lord and the principles of righteousness, are promised a share with their Lord, His words being, "Fear not, little flock; it is your father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."


Now, dear friends, we have before us in our minds, I trust, a hastily-drawn sketch of the entire plan of salvation-the sketch which the Scriptures give us. Everything else in the Scriptures serves merely to fill in this general grand outline. Whoever can realize what we have presented to be the divine program must acknowledge that it is sublimely grand, that it meets the necessities of the case. Those who accept this as the truth, as the teaching of God's word, find in it a solution of every difficulty that has ever perplexed their hearts and heads. It shows us, "both the goodness and the severity of God." It shows us His goodness and justice in creating our race perfect; it shows us His justice in not sparing the guilty, but condemning sin to an utter overthrow. Although the experience of the past six thousand years under the reign of sin and death have been terrible experiences for our race; nevertheless, disobedience to God has merited the results-sorrow, pain and trouble. Whoever rightly learns the lesson, learns, as the apostle says, of the exceeding sinfulness of sin and its undesirability. Whoever learns this lesson to advantage, is profited by it forever.

In the arrangements for man's redemption from sin and its penalty, death, the love of God is manifested- "The great love wherewith He loved us even while we were yet sinners." God could indeed have hindered our first parents from disobeying Him, but in so doing He would have been violating one feature of His purpose. He desired man to be in His own likeness, free to choose between good and evil. Had He compelled obedience it would have meant the taking away of the choice, and hence would have meant the destruction of his free agency, and to that extent his likeness to his Creator. The plan that God did adopt preserved to man the liberties first granted him, but allowed him to experience the unwisdom of disobedience. The experience, we believe, has taught some of us a great lesson, and will ultimately teach a similar lesson to many when they shall come to have a knowledge and an opportunity for a different course, as we now have.

From this standpoint all the bitter experiences of the race for the past 6,000 years have been a legitimate and natural fruitage of sin, yet with it all there has been enough of hope and joy and pleasure to make life not only enjoyable but a blessing for which we might all well give thanks to our Creator, even had He made no provision for our recovery from sin and death to a future life and future blessings. The difficulty with infidelity and to a large degree the difficulty, too, with those who seek to know the Lord, is expressed in the words of the poet Cowper:

"Blind unbelief is sure to err, And scan His work in vain; God is His own interpreter, And He will make it plain."

Unbelief is always blind, and this is the great difficulty with the whole world. As the apostle declares, they are blind- "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not." Many of the Lord's professed followers believe very little, have very little faith in the Lord, very little trust in His word, and hence give it comparatively little study. It is due time, dear friends, that we should all wake up from this lethargy and realize that we are now living in a shaking time, and that whoever does not speedily become established in the truth of the divine plan will be shaken from all faith in the Scriptures, after the manner of the higher critics of the present time, who occupy the same position of unbelief that was prominently marked a century ago by the writings of Voltaire, Paine and more recently Ingersoll.

The key to the whole situation-the key that opens before us the divine plan-is the testimony of the Bible that our Lord Jesus gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Not merely the church was ransomed but the whole world, and this matter is to be testified not merely to the church but to the whole world- "in due time." [HGL206] (1 Tim. 2:6) Whoever sees this clearly and distinctly sees in it the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham, that in the seed of Abraham, Christ, all the families of the earth shall yet be blessed. Whoever sees this by faith sees that the blessing is to come in the Millennial age through the great King, the antitype of David.

Our examination of the chart has shown us what have been the facts of the case; that sin and death have been reigning from Adam's time to the present time. It has illustrated to us the spark of hope which God's promise to Abraham ignited, and how that hope exercised an influence in the Jewish nation, and how it began to reach a realization in the end of the Jewish age, when our dear Redeemer appeared amongst men, and bought us with His precious blood. That hope is an anchor still to our souls, to us who believe God's promises, and who are hoping for the fulfillment of them in God's due time in the kingdom of his dear Son. We have seen that this Gospel age is the special time in which God is making a selection from amongst men of some of these believers to be joint-heirs with His Son in the kingdom, and that the Millennial age will be the time of glorious consummation, in which the light of truth will shine forth as the brightness of the sun, scattering all the darkness and unbelief and misunderstandings which now prevail amongst men. It is our joy, our privilege, dear friends, to see this harmony of the divine plan in advance of its fulfillment; but it can be seen only by the eye of faith through the word of God, which beholds this completion of the divine plan in harmony with the divine character, in the light of the divine word.

We hold this, dear friends, that the divine program, as outlined in the scriptures is an index to the divine character, and that it shows the character of God to be perfect, in justice, in love, in wisdom, in power. The world sees not all this as yet, but we may see it and we may rejoice accordingly. In due time the knowledge of the Lord, the knowledge of His wisdom and love, justice and power, shall fill the whole earth, and corresponding blessings shall come to every creature with that knowledge, and, we believe, a corresponding desire in the hearts of the great majority of mankind to return to the God-likeness from which our first parents and their posterity fell.

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