The Pittsburg Dispatch, November 4, 1907


Pastor C. T. Russell preached yesterday in Carnegie Hall, Allegheny, to an audience that nearly filled the house. His text was, "Woe unto you, doctors of the law, because ye have taken away the key of knowledge; you entered not yourselves, and those approaching you hindered." (Luke 11:52)

He said: We are living in a preeminently practical day, when results are sought rather than doctrines. Indeed, in but few Christian pulpits are doctrines ever considered in these later years. Doctrinal preaching is considered obsolete, and has been replaced largely by what is termed practical preaching. In other words, the preaching of good works has taken the place of the doctrines preached by Jesus and the apostles.

The reason of this is not far to seek. Talented men, able ones of all denominations in the pulpit and in the pew, are heartily ashamed of the doctrines confessed in their creeds. The preachers, therefore, are glad enough to let these alone, hoping that their congregations will forget them, and especially that they will not ask them any troublesome questions respecting them. As a result we have throughout the civilized world today just what the Jews had at the first advent of our Lord, namely, a form of godliness without the power.

Our Lord's discourses and parables continually bore witness to the fact that the Jew of His day, especially the prominent ones, were outwardly pious, zealous for God's law, but inwardly ravenous wolves and full of all manner of corruption. Our Lord upbraided the leaders for their long prayers and affectations of piety, which were entirely contradicted by their conduct in daily life – their selfishness, which would lead them to take advantage of the widow, to grasp for property, and which would bind heavy burdens of law observance upon the weak and the poor to their discouragement.

Our Lord declared to them how they had made the divine law of no effect through their traditions – more than this, had made God and His law abhorrent to the poor and the ignorant by exaggeration. For instance, the law of the Sabbath was and is still exaggerated in the Talmud, which teaches that to rub wheat between the hands and to blow away the chaff in order to eat the kernels would be unlawful, a violation of the Sabbath day, because it would be threshing and winnowing on a small scale. Similarly that to hunt a flea would be a violation of the Sabbath law because it would be hunting on a small scale.


Thus did the doctors of the law in Jesus' day, by the substitution of traditions instead of the divine Word, misrepresent the character of God and turn the attention of the people from him. Thus did they take away the "key of knowledge," for the "reverence of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." [Prov. 1:7]

Note our Lord's words, "This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (John 17:3)

In a word, God's creatures need to know Him well and truly in order to appreciate Him and in order to have confidence in His gracious promises. Such a knowledge is necessary to a true worship such as the Lord appreciates, for, as the Master said, the Father seeketh such to worship Him as worship Him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:22-23)

Whoever, therefore, misrepresents the divine character and the divine plan is taking away the "key of knowledge" of God. This was the crime of the doctors of the law, which their hypocritical professions and prayers only helped to aggravate. For the common people, relying largely upon the holy professions and teachings of these leaders, were the more thoroughly deluded and the more thoroughly alienated from God by reason of their professions of sanctity. Our Lord's words, "Woe unto you, doctors of the law," had a fulfilment, too. Certain woes fell with special weight upon this very class but shortly after our Lord's prediction.

Very soon a period of disintegration set in, which affected everything and every prospect of the wealthy and professedly religious class of the Jews, especially the doctors of law. This led up to anarchy and ultimately the destruction of their national polity, A. D. 70. True, it meant dire tribulation to all the people, but, as always, those most intelligent and in the high stations of life must have suffered proportionately more in the stress which came upon all the people [NS504] in fulfilment of the prophecy, "Wrath is come upon this people to the uttermost." [1 Thess. 2:16]


On previous occasions and in Volumes 2 and 3 of Scripture Studies we have shown from the Scriptures that the Jewish age and people represented typically Spiritual Israel and this Gospel age; that the Jewish age began with the death of Jacob, the Gospel age with the death of Christ; that the former was established in the 12 sons of Jacob and the latter in the 12 apostles of the Lamb. That the former had typical sacrifices and sin offerings while the latter has antitypical or "better sacrifices than those." [Heb. 9:23]

That the former had a typical priesthood in Aaron and his sons while the latter has an antitypical priesthood, called by the Apostle a "Royal Priesthood," of which Christ is the Chief Priest and his faithful followers the under priesthood. We have shown, too, that these ages are of the same length, and that as the Jewish age ended with the harvest in which our Lord was present in the flesh as the chief reaper, so this Gospel age will end with a harvest in which our Lord as a spirit being will be present as the chief reaper gathering the wheat into his garner before the great time of trouble, the figurative burning day coming upon the world in general – "a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation." (Dan. 12:1)

We have seen that the trouble day with which the Jewish age ended is paralleled exactly in time and in character by the period of trouble which will consummate this age. In harmony with these parallels, is it not wonderful that we find today among nominal Christian people – Churchianity – conditions in many respects corresponding to the conditions described by our Lord among the Jews in their harvest time. Today also we find an outward respect for God and for religion – a drawing nigh unto the Lord with the lips while the hearts are far from him – busied with fashion, pleasure and money seeking. Now also we find that the people look to doctors of divinity for guidance and instruction; that they greatly reverence them, and that the latter could have great power if they were in harmony with God – if behind the profession there was a knowledge of God's character and plan, and if this were imparted to the people who, according to the Scriptures, are now famishing – a famine not for bread nor for water, but for the hearing of the message of the Lord. (Amos 8:11)

This sad arraignment of the pulpiteers of our day is a thankless and unpleasant task, but it is proper today, as it was nineteen centuries ago, to show those hungering and thirsting for the Word of the Lord the real cause of their difficulty – that the clergy have taken away the "key of knowledge" and are keeping it hid, neither entering into the knowledge themselves nor favoring any others entering in. On the contrary, they hinder in a hundred ways the spread among the people of a true knowledge of God and His Word.


We should not be understood as teaching that all the responsibility of the loss of the key of knowledge belongs to the Christian ministers of today, neither did our Lord charge the doctors of the law of His day with the full responsibility. He pointed back of them to the same class in earlier days, saying, "Woe unto you! for you build the sepulchers of the prophets and your fathers killed them." [Luke 11:47]

Our Lord seems to have arraigned the clergy as a class, and to have held the modern representatives responsible, because they gave evidence of having the same spirit that their predecessors had, even though they condemned some of their practices. Thus their fathers killed the prophets, while they killed the Lord Himself and persecuted His followers. Neither should we understand our Lord's words to apply to every individual of the Jewish clergy, the doctors of the law, but rather that He spoke of them as a class, ignoring the few exceptions. Similarly we hold that among the teachers of today there are exceptions to the general rule – God-fearing men, God-loving and striving to enter into the knowledge of God themselves and to assist others to enter it. But surely these are a very small minority, and they are rarely heard from. The key of knowledge of God's true character was lost long ago. It was lost during the "dark ages."

Luther and some of his coadjutors did valiantly in striving to recover the key, and at least got hold of the handle. But, alas! little progress has since been made. The key, while recovered, is still hidden by a vail, a mist of superstition and false doctrine. Shall we illustrate this? How, we ask, could anyone come to a knowledge of God – a true knowledge, an appreciative knowledge, a heart sympathy, a true devotion – while still thinking of God as the all-powerful Creator, who made mankind for his own pleasure, yet before his creation prepared for the vast majority a place of eternal torment, manned with fire-proof devils and supplied with fuel enough for all eternity?

Who that has that thought before his mind, who that believes that unscriptural teaching, could rightly reverence his Creator as a God of justice and of love? In proportion as this cloud of error, this "doctrine of devils," comes between an intelligent mind and its Creator, in that same proportion it will be impossible for him to really know God, whom to rightly know would imply eternal life. Before the key of knowledge can be found and used, and grant access to a right appreciation and worship of God, this doctrine and other similar superstitions of the "dark ages" must be got rid of. We thank God that in His providence [NS505] some today, Israelites indeed, in whom there is no guile, are being helped to a knowledge by a message of the Great Teacher, even as a little flock of Israelites indeed were taught of God and inducted into a knowledge and love of God, despite the conduct and false teachings and wrong attitude of the doctor of the law at the first advent.

It should be noted that our Lord does not intimate that the doctors of the law themselves had entered into the knowledge and were keeping others out of it; but, on the contrary, that while they were in a favored condition to supply the key and to enter in and to enjoy the knowledge, they were not only not doing so, but in avoiding the knowledge they were hindering others who were in quest of it. So today we are not to be understood as intimating that the preachers of Christendom have the true knowledge and are withholding it from the people, but the contrary – that they are confused, that they know not God, and that therefore the divine plan of boundless mercy for the sins of the whole world is hidden from their view. As a class they know not God – they misunderstand him. But instead of seeking for the key and entering in, and seeking to assist others to enter in, have they not abandoned the Word of God and taken up with Higher Criticism and Evolution, and are they not guiding those who look up to them for counsel in the same direction?

Why do not these educated men of great opportunity awake to the privileges of their position and search the Scriptures, and by full consecration of their all to the Lord enter into the school of Christ, that they may be taught of Him, that they may find the key of knowledge and assist in putting it into the hands of those who are seeking God, "feeling after Him if haply they might find Him," but who are now, being misled and misdirected? As our Lord said, the blind are leading the blind, and surely all will fall into the ditch. The ditch of that day was the time of trouble which wrecked the Jewish nation. The ditch of our day is the approaching day of trouble, in which Christendom will be wrecked in a cataclysm of anarchy, according to the Scriptures.


In worldly matters the word knowledge is applicable to any subject which we know and can demonstrate; but in religious matters the word has a still broader meaning, and applies to things that we cannot actually prove, but which we believe on satisfactory evidence, as, for instance, "I know that my Redeemer liveth." [Job 19:25]

Faith is the basis of this knowledge – faith in what we believe to be a God-inspired revelation of things past, and to come. This we may call faith-knowledge, and to this the Scriptures everywhere continually appeal, assuring us that "without faith it is impossible to please God," that such faith is the foundation of all our hopes, the mainspring of all our best endeavors, and that according to our faith will be the results as respects our present development of character along the lines of righteousness and our future attainment of the heavenly reward. It is for this reason that we are urged to search the Scriptures and to study to show ourselves approved workmen, rightly dividing the Word of Truth, and again that we may be ready, able at all times, to give to him that asketh us a reason for the hope within us. (John 5:39; 2Tim. 2:15; 1 Pet. 3:15)

He who has not a knowledge of the divine revelation, the divine plan, cannot have a Scriptural hope, cannot have the legitimate results of such a hope, namely, the anchorage of the soul, sure and steadfast. (Heb. 6:19)

In harmony with this the Apostle points out the fact that the heathen cannot be saved under the call of this Gospel age. Whatever salvation there may be for them will come later under the Millennial Kingdom arrangements; for how could they believe on Him of whom they have not heard; and now, it has pleased God to save them that believe, and whose faith leads to the appropriate conduct outlined in the Scriptures. The more of this faith and knowledge the Lord's people posses the stronger should be their confidence and the nobler should be their lives. This faith-knowledge is referred to in the Scriptures as the truth, as, for instance, when our Lord said, "Sanctify them through thy truth, thy Word is truth." (John 17:17)

The message of God received by faith is accepted to be the truth, to be true knowledge, and wherever it goes there must be a sanctifying, separating power. How forceful then is this injunction, "My people perish for lack of knowledge." (Hos. 4:6)

Not that we put knowledge as superior to love – quite the contrary; knowledge is the foundation, love is the superstructure, the character development; but no one can rear a proper superstructure without a proper foundation. The measure of the foundation must of necessity mark the limitations of the building upon it. Whoever has little knowledge of God and His character and His Word has proportionately little of the sanctifying power of the truth. If the knowledge does not produce this fruitage the results are even as the apostle points out in the words, "If I had all knowledge and had not love I should be as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal, it would profit me nothing." (1 Cor. 13:1)

On the contrary, whoever thinks to build up a proper character without knowledge errs egregiously. The apostle seems to point to this fact when he refers to some as building upon the one sure foundation, Christ Jesus, [NS506] with wood, hay, stubble, erroneous teachings; and others as building upon the good foundation with gold, silver and precious stones, representative of the divine truth. The apostle assures us that the testing time will come and that only the latter class will stand the test, while the former will suffer loss, though themselves will be saved so as by fire." (1 Cor. 3:13-15)

Thus does he point out the two distinct classes of the saved ones of this Gospel age, known in the Scriptures as the "Little Flock" and the "Great Company." [Luke 12:32; Rev. 7:9]

It is proper that every child of God should look to it "that he receive a full reward" (2 John 8), that he win the great prize, that he be not one of those merely "saved so as by fire," and who must "come up out of great tribulation." (Rev. 7:14)


An illustration of the value of knowledge is set forth in the Scripture in the words: "By his knowledge shall My righteous servant justify many when he shall bear their iniquities." (Isa. 53:11)

And this surely illustrates well the principle we have applied in the Scriptures to all the members of the Church, the body of Christ, who are required to be copies of God's dear Son. Note the following references to the value of knowledge to the Church, the elect of this present age. The apostle speaks of some who "have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge," and distinctly intimates their disadvantage in the race on this account. (Rom. 10:2)

The apostle commends those who are "full of goodness, and filled with all knowledge, and able also to admonish one another." (Rom. 15:14)

And again he speaks of the advantage secured to those "enriched in Christ with all knowledge." (1 Cor. 1:5)

And again he speaks of knowledge coming through the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:8), and again he reproves some who "have not the knowledge of God." 1 Cor. 15:34 Again he points out that God's grace has shined into our hearts to give the "light of knowledge of the glory of God." (2 Cor. 4:6)

And again he exhorts to faithfulness "by pureness, by knowledge, by long-suffering" (2 Cor. 6:6); and, again in faith and utterance and knowledge; and again he refers to the necessity of casting down all imaginings that would tend to exalt themselves against the knowledge of God. (2 Cor. 10:5)

In his epistle to the Ephesians he speaks of his own favor from God in respect to the knowledge of Christ, the knowledge of the mystery and of the love of Christ which passeth knowledge. (1:17; 3:4-19)

To the Philippians he writes (1:9) and urges that they abound more and more in knowledge and speaks of the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus (3:8)

To the Colossians he writes urging that they be filled with the knowledge of God's will and make increase in the knowledge of God. (Col 1:9-10)

He refers to the treasures of wisdom and knowledge divine which are hidden in Christ and intended for those who come unto the Father through Him. The Apostle Peter also teaches that the Lord's grace comes unto us through the knowledge of God, who hath called us, and he exhorts that we add to our faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; that we may not be barren in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 2 Pet. 1:2-8


As the knowledge of God reaches but comparatively few of the human family during this Gospel age, and few therefore gain the eternal life, it is of deep interest to all that the Lord's Word enunciates that it is His will that all men should be saved (recovered from the tomb), and come to a knowledge of the truth that they may be saved. (1 Tim. 2:4)

If the knowledge of the Lord is a blessing to us now, and brings with it responsibility and great opportunity and blessings, present and prospective, it is in full accord with this that the Lord here promises that ultimately all shall know Him, and all therefore have a full opportunity of attaining the blessings He is so willing to bestow upon those who seek Him in sincerity. Let us hearken to some of the promises to these given through the prophets. Isaiah tells us that the whole earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord (11:9).

Habbakuk gives a very similar statement of the matter, and assures us that the earth will be filled with a knowledge of the glory, the greatness, the grandeur of the Lord. (Hab. 2:14)

And again the prophet Jeremiah declares that there shall be no longer need for every man to say to his neighbor and to his brother, Know thou the Lord, for all shall know Him from the least even unto the greatest. (Jer. 31:34)

How glad we are that ultimately God's glorious character shall be clearly seen by all mankind – when the blindness of superstition, ignorance, bigotry and Satanic deceit and doctrines of devils shall have given way to the glorious light of the sun of righteousness, with healing, restitution, in its beams.


Isaiah, the Prophet, is caused to give a picture of our day in which is pointed out the stumbling of the teachers of our time. Symbolically, they are represented as drunken with the wine of false doctrine, so that they err in vision, they stumble in judgment," because Babylon hath made all nations drunk. (Rev. 17:2; 18:3)

These, the creeds of the different denominations, are represented as their table, at which they feed. Then, still referring to our day, the Lord, through the Prophet, inquires (Isa. 28:9), "Whom shall he teach knowledge and whom shall he make to understand [NS507] doctrine?" The question implies that few will be in a condition to understand the truth in this day, and then the answer is given – "Them that are weaned from the milk and drawn from the breasts."

This symbolical picture represents the Lord's faithful people as merely babes in Christ, and informs us that even these must be weaned from their infantile condition, that, as the Apostle suggests, they may appreciate the strong meat of divine revelation, and thus grow strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, advancing from the infantile condition to full manhood in Christ. (Heb. 5:12)

While the intimation is that the doctors of the law at the first advent and the doctors of divinity at the present time will wield so strong an influence as to hinder the majority of those who are trusting them from entering into the riches of God's grace which were properly their portion, we have various intimations that the Lord will not permit this to be the case with those who are at heart loyal to Him. These will be drawn from the priests of sectarianism and from the creeds of the "dark ages;" they will be weaned; they will find the sectarian bed too short and the sectarian covers too narrow, and will get out from these conditions into the full liberty of the children of God. Not into that bold agnostic condition known as the new theology, but to the liberty of the sons of God under the limitations of the divine word of revelation, which to them will be line upon line, here a little and there a little.

As at the first advent the Lord found such a class and fed them, strengthened them, so – although they were recognized as ignorant and unlearned men – they soon were known as talented, and their neighbors and enemies took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus and learned of Him – learned of the true God, and his true character and of the true hope set before them in the gospel, so we have the Lord's promise that in the end of this age – notwithstanding the fact that the key of knowledge is lost to the majority, and that those who should have it and should be leading the way into it have it not and are turning the people aside from looking in the right direction – nevertheless our Lord Jesus, whom the apostle styles the great Shepherd of the sheep, promises that at His second advent He will gather His sheep in that dark and stormy day. (Eze. 34:11-12)

He promises also that in this day He will cause His faithful ones, weaned from the milk and drawn from the breasts, to sit down to a table of His own furnishing. He promises that He will come forth and serve His people meat in due season, things new and old. Let us not only take this attitude of readiness to enter into the light of the knowledge of God and to be fed thereby, but additionally let us see to it that the strength which we derive from this strong meat of Present Truth shall be such as will build us up, sanctify us, that we may attain to that full knowledge of God which can be attained only by those who will come into heart fellowship with Him through Christ, and which will constitute to them an evidence that they are sons of God, taught of God, for to such is the message of the Savior, "The Father Himself loveth you." (John 16:27)

And if there be any in this audience who have hitherto been careless as respects this key of knowledge and the blessings that are to be unlocked thereby, we urge that it is high time for them to awake out of sleep and out of darkness and to search the Scriptures and to enter into the blessed joys of the Lord now through faith in His Word, and to be prepared to enter into the joys of the Lord actually very soon.

The Pittsburg Dispatch, November 25, 1907


BROCKTON, Mass., Nov. 24 – Pastor C. T. Russell of Allegheny, Pa., preached twice here today. We report one of his discourses, from the text, "O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endureth forever." (Psa. 136:1)

He said: The reverence for the Creator which led the Pilgrim Fathers to establish an annual day of thanksgiving for divine mercies calls forth our appreciation, and we note that to a considerable extent their example has prevailed throughout the length and breadth of this favored land, as represented in our national Thanksgiving Day. But while we note this outward recognition of the Creator with pleasure, the fact is borne in upon us that with many the thanksgiving is merely perfunctory – that the occasion has lost its old-time significance. The fact is that we are living in a less reverential period, assisted and to some extent caused by our freer thinking and reasoning. Our forefathers, with too large a reverence for earthly kings, imagined that these rulers could do no wrong, because they governed by divine appointment. Looking beyond these, they reverenced God, the great King, to such an extent and with such blind devotion that it seems not so much to have occurred to them to [NS508] critically consider divine providences and plans. They were content to say, "It is of God; it must be right."

But today matters are different. Kings are recognized as ruling on the strength of heredity, and as being maintained in power by cannons and bayonets and the various contrivances of the prince of this world. They are no longer regarded by the public as kingdoms of God, but as scripturally described "kingdoms of the world," which must pass away before the new dispensation be inaugurated. And looking beyond this, mankind is inquiring respecting the character of God and His providences. Many are judging the Lord by feeble sense and condemning Him and His general providences, because they know not, neither do they understand – because they have not been instructed in the divine Word and its revelation of the divine plan, past and future. Hence it is that –


If they have had prosperity or "good luck" they praise God; if they have had adversity they grumble, repine and are anything but thankful. They "know not, neither do they understand," how God is abundant in mercy, love and kindness. Looking about them and within themselves they see depravity, weakness and temptation to evil. They wonder why they were so born – why a good, benevolent God of love should have so arranged that all humanity are born in sin, shapen in iniquity. (Psa. 51:5)

Realizing their own physical, mental and moral taints, blemishes, weaknesses and sorrows, they are inclined to ask, "Why should I be thankful for these things?" Looking upon the blessings of this land as superior to those of all other lands, they are inclined to say, "Why should we give special thanks that our lot is more favorable than that of others? Why should not we rather think it strange that a loving and benevolent Creator allowed pests, famines, pestilences and drouth to mar the happiness of His creatures in any part of the world?" If it be accepted as true that the heavenly conditions are all blissful and happifying why should it not also be true that the same Creator would arrange all the affairs of the earth similarly for the benefit of His human creation? Why should we give thanks that we have only so much of the aches, the pains, the sorrows, the trials common to the world of mankind; that only so many of our dear ones have gone down into the tomb?

Why should we not, on the contrary, wonder that any aches or pains are permitted, any sighing, or crying or dying? We believe that none of the holy angels are subject to these dreadful experiences; why should we be? and why should we give thanks for our share of them? With many minds the answer to these queries would doubtless be, "We give thanks for fear we should offend an all-powerful and not very merciful God, and lest, as a consequence of failure to thank Him for these conditions, He should thrust us eventually into a hell of eternal torment. We therefore give Him thanks in fear, and not from real love or appreciation, or from the true spirit of thankfulness." Alas! poor world! Undoubtedly this is the attitude of many, induced by their ignorance of the true God and of the teachings of His Word, the Bible.


With our minds filled with the horrible theories taught during the "dark ages," and which still fetter many of the Lord's noblest children, it is difficult to realize and get rid of the error and to replace it with the truth. So thoroughly have the minds of Christendom been poisoned by the "doctrines of devils" (1 Tim. 4:1)

that it is almost impossible for the majority to think of God as the Scriptures represent Him – as a God of justice, love and mercy. Indeed, so firmly entrenched is the error with many that if any attempt is made to explain the Scriptures in harmony with divine justice and love, they forthwith concluded that such an attempt is the work of the adversary, of Satan. Alas, how thoroughly Satan has blinded their eyes and hindered them from seeing the glorious character of God! Well did the Apostle say, "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the glorious sight of God's goodness as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ, should shine in their hearts." (2 Cor. 4:4)

They have so long put darkness for light and light for darkness that the very terms, justice and love, are confused in their minds and misunderstood. They will even tell us that it would be just for God to torment all of His creatures to all eternity – and more, that this would be a manifestation of divine love! Alas! that such confusion should in any sense of the word be dignified with the name of reason. There is a solution to the whole matter, and but one solution. It is God-given, and is presented to him that "hath an ear to hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches" – and what ultimately shall be known to every creature. But though hearing ears are scarce at the present time there is a special blessing to those who have them – "Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear," said the Master, and we are glad that the promise is that by and by "all the blind eyes shall be opened and all the deaf ears shall be unstopped." (Isa. 35:5)

The right understanding of the divine Word shows the heavenly Father to be the very personification of love, as well as of justice and wisdom and power. His love, and our necessity, are at the [NS509] bottom of the Scriptural declaration that God is very merciful and of tender compassion – the very reverse of all that the theology of the "dark ages" has misrepresented Him to be.

Look at our text. It calls for thanksgiving because of divine mercy, and declares that mercy to be complete, lasting forever. And this declaration is repeated in every one of the twenty-six verses of this psalm, "For his mercy endureth forever."

Is this the picture of a fierce, implacable God, who has decreed that the torture of His creatures shall endure forever and that without mercy, without mitigation, without hope of relief – to all eternity? What is the value of language and what the value of a revelation from God if we thus misuse it? Practically all Christendom with one voice declares to all men that this Psalm is not true, that God is not merciful, or that if He is at all merciful His mercy is eccentric and granted to some and not others; that some are born in heathen lands, where they have no knowledge of God and no opportunity for coming under the terms of His mercy, which are limited by the declarations that there is no other name under heaven or amongst men whereby we must be saved but the name of Jesus.

And since these heathen have never heard of this only name, this precious name, they are outside of divine mercy, and these represent, according to Christian statistics, 1,200,000,000 of the total of 1,600,000,000 population. And a large proportion in the past is similarly accredited with having had no knowledge of the only name, they also must be outside of any manifestation of divine mercy. And of the 400,000,000 styled nominal Christians it is admitted that the vast majority have practically no knowledge of God or of His Son Jesus Christ. They are counted in as Christians merely because they live in civilized lands; admittedly very few of these have the Spirit of Christ, without which they are "none of His;" admittedly few of them have been begotten again by the Holy Spirit, or, as some would say, "Born again;" admittedly few of them are walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit; admittedly the vast majority of them are "children of this world," "children of Belial," "of their father the devil," and not children of God.

We ask Christendom for an explanation of the situation and they have no answer. We inquire if there is hope for any of these in the future. Roman Catholics answer, Yes! after hundreds of thousand of years they may purge themselves of their guilt in the flames of Purgatory and be received into heaven. But Protestants answer, No! there is no hope for them, neither in the mercy of God nor by any purification through their own sufferings – they must be tormented to all eternity. Let us look into the Word of God on this subject. Let us neither be content to take the hopeless view of Protestantism, nor the merciless view of Catholicism. Let us believe the words of Scripture, the words of our text, "His mercy endureth forever" – to a completion. For be it observed that the Catholic view of Purgatory is as merciless as the Protestant view of eternal torment. They do not claim that it is of God's mercy that any will be released from Purgatory, but as a result of their own sufferings and the self-purification thus accomplished.


The apostle wrote, arguing against false teaching in his day – "Let God be true and every man a liar" – who opposes the divine word. (Rom. 3:4)

Let the issue be squarely drawn as between the words of God and the words of men. Let us see who it is that has falsified. Our claim is that God is true; that His declaration that "His mercy endureth forever" is fully borne out by the testimony of Scripture; that there is not one single Scripture which declares that death ends all hope, but that many Scriptures rightly understood most positively show that the hope of the vast majority of mankind is a hope beyond the grave. We deny further that a single Scripture text teaches that there is such a place as Purgatory.

We challenge proof to the contrary. We hold and will show that God has made merciful provision for Adam and every member of his race – that the blessings of this provision have only come as yet to a very small minority of the race, "even as many as the Lord your God shall call." (Acts 2:39)

We hold that those who are now "called," now "drawn," now "elected," are, according to the Scriptures, merely "first-fruits unto God of His creatures," and not the sum total. We hold that the blessings that now reach even these are merely by faith, and will not be attained by them actually until they share in the first resurrection, and that meantime only those who can and will walk by faith and not by sight can maintain their standing in this class, and make their calling and election sure to a place in the kingdom as associates with their Lord and Redeemer Jesus in His great work of the future. We hold that the work of Christ and the Church, as the millennial kingdom of God, will be the scattering of divine mercy in its most helpful and potent forms to every member of Adam's race, and that as a result of it every knee will bow and every tongue confess to the glory of God, while the knowledge of the glory of God will fill the whole earth.


Of course, there is a reason. The word mercy implies that there was sin and condemnation, and the character [NS510] of God for justice implies that the condemnation was a just one. The word redemption similarly implies a sin and need for forgiveness, and a divine interposition in favor of the sinner to recover him legally and justly from his fallen and condemned condition, and the promised times of restitution (Acts 3:21), the Millennium, implies most distinctly that there was a fall from the original perfection which makes a restoration to that original condition desireable. The more deeply we look into the word of God the more distinctly do we find its utterances upon these subjects. Genesis tells us of the creation of Adam in the image and likeness of his Creator – on an earthly plane – "a little lower than the angels." [Psa. 8:5; Heb. 2:7,9]

It tells us of the favorable conditions under which God placed His sinless son, Adam, and his wife. It assures us that everything was favorable to them even as the heavenly arrangements are favorable to the sinless angels. We have the record of Adam's testing on the point of obedience to his Creator – that he was forewarned of the fearful results of disobedience, that, nevertheless, he disobeyed, he sinned, he fell from divine favor under divine sentence, "Dying thou shalt die," "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread until thou return to the dust from whence thou wast taken; for dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return." (Gen. 3:19)

A just sentence even though it has resulted in so much pain and suffering, mental, moral and physical. None could claim the right to live eternally out of harmony with the wise and loving provisions of their Creator. This statement of the introduction of sin and death among mankind is fully corroborated by our Lord, who declared that He came into the world to "seek and save (recover) that which was lost."

The Apostle Paul emphasizes the same, saying, "By one man's disobedience sin entered into the world and death as the result of sin – and thus death passed upon all men, because all are sinners." Matt. 18:11; Rom. 5:12

We must hold ourselves to the Scriptures and not allow the intrusions of the "dark ages" to lead us to infer a different penalty from that which God declared in Genesis, which the Apostle repeated and emphasized, and which we see in process all about us – the whole world in a dying condition mentally, morally and physically. We must not allow ourselves to read into the plain statement of the Scriptures the "doctrines of devils" to the effect that God condemned our first parents to an eternity of torture on account of that original sin, and that, therefore, the whole race is to be delivered over to the demons and to eternal torment or to Purgatory, except a few who happen to have the ears to hear and accept Christ.

We must rid ourselves of this blasphemous error, and judge of our God by His testimony and the facts of the case as we know them. We must not allow those who were so full of an evil spirit that they burned one another at the stake for difference of opinion – we must not allow these to make our theology for us and to introduce into our minds poisonous thoughts and evil surmisings respecting our Creator quite contrary to His word. The Scriptures show us that for centuries God allowed the world to go in its own way, and that man's course was rapidly downward; and because they were not willing to retain God in their thought He gave them over to a reprobate mind, with the result that the race rapidly deteriorated everyway. (Romans 1)

Our Lord's first advent marked the beginning of God's activity in the salvation of mankind from the degradation their transgression had brought upon them. The sending of our Lord Jesus to be our Redeemer was a manifestation of divine love, as we read, "Herein was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." 1 John 4:9, 10

Previously there had been intimations of coming blessings and promises, but nothing practically had been done. The one little nation of Israel had indeed been given a law, but the Apostle assures us that the law made nothing perfect, and that salvation could not come by the law nor by works – that it could come only through a redemption-sacrifice, the just one dying for the unjust one, Adam, and his multitudinous progeny involved with him in the penalty of his disobedience. The fact that God has allowed the world to go down in sin and death for over four thousand years before sending His Son must not be understood to mean that He had no interest in them, but merely that His time for manifesting His interest and His plan for their recovery only then reached the proper point for manifestation.


Nearly two thousand years have elasped since our Lord's death, but the blessings of divine favor through Him have reached only a small percentage of humanity during this Gospel age. Only believers were promised a blessing, only those have received it, and they have been but a few. Their blessing had been the privileges of a special high calling of joint-heirship with Jesus in the Millennial Kingdom which is to bless the world in general. The others, who have not heard in the sense of understanding and appreciating the grace of God in Christ, have had proportionately little responsibility. Shall we say that their case is hopeless? By no means! On the contrary, they are included in the gracious promise that God sent to humanity through those angels who notified the shepherds of our Savior's [NS511] birth. They declared, "Behold, we bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people." [Luke 2:10]

Since blessing comes through the knowledge, the hearing of God's grace, it follows that all people have not yet received this blessing. But God's Word assures us that in due time the fact shall be made known, testified to all.

The Pittsburg Dispatch, December 16, 1907


CUMBERLAND, Md. Dec. 15 – Pastor C. T. Russell of the Northside, Pittsburg, preached twice here today. He had close attention from large concourses of very intelligent Christian people. His afternoon topic was "The Overthrow of Satan's Empire."

We report his evening discourse on "The Pearl of Great Value." (Matt. 13:45)

He said: In ancient times the pearl occupied the chief place among the jewels of personal adornment, probably because the art of cutting the diamond and other precious stones had not advanced to its present high degree and because the pearl is more easily prepared for use. It is frequently mentioned in the Scriptures in such a manner as to indicate that it had first rank among the valuables of our Lord's time. For instance, our Lord compared the elements of divine truth to pearls, saying, "Cast not your pearls before swine." [Matt. 7:6]

The apostle, in speaking of the outward adornment of many in his day, mentions gold, pearls and costly array, and in the picturing of the New Jerusalem the highest prominence is given to the pearl in that it is pictured as having 12 gates of pearl. Our Lord's reference to a pearl merchant calls our attention to the fact that in olden times the methods and opportunities for barter and trade being inferior to those of today, it was the custom of pearl dealers to go here and there throughout the districts where pearls would likely be found, inquiring for choice pearls and buying them. Our Lord uses such a pearl dealer as the basis of one of His parables representing the value of the kingdom. He said: "The kingdom of heaven is like to a merchant seeking goodly pearls, who, when he Found one of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it." [Matt. 13:45,46]

Let us examine this parable to learn the particular lesson which the Lord wished to inculcate.


Like the majority of our Lord's parables, this one relates to the "kingdom of heaven."

From the frequency with which this phrase is used in the Scriptures it would appear that all should understand just what is meant by the expression "kingdom of heaven" and "kingdom of God," but, apparently, the majority of Christian people are in sad ignorance on this subject. Many are thrown off the proper track by a misrepresentation of our Lord's words in answer to a question of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God would appear. Jesus answered and said unto them, "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation (outward display); neither shall ye say, lo, here! or lo, there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:20)

That this is a mistranslation of our Lord's words is evident because He had already said respecting the Scribes and Pharisees that they were hypocrites, whited sepulchers full of all manner of corruption. Evidently he could not mean that the kingdom of God was within them! The proper translation of the passage will be found very helpful, not only in understanding it, but in various references to the kingdom found in the Scriptures. Our Lord's ministry began with the declaration that "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." [Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 10:7]

It was this message that the twelve apostles bore when He sent them forth, and the same was subsequently given to the seventy who also went forth. In a word, not only our Lord's parables related to the kingdom, but it was almost the sole topic of His discourses. The Jews for centuries had been expecting that the time would come when all iniquity would have an end, by reason of God's taking control of the world's government.

They understood the divine promise to be that Israel as a nation would be the divine channel for communicating blessings and instruction and corrections in righteousness to all the kingdoms of the world. They were waiting for Messiah to come to establish this kingdom, hence, when Jesus declared the kingdom at hand it was a modest way of stating that He was Messiah, ready to establish that kingdom; and to this the apostles bore witness, and many of the common people later gave adherence, to the extent that we read that some of them were ready at the close of our Lord's ministry to take Him by force and make Him a king – believing Him to be the Messiah through whom God would accomplish the uplifting of Israel and the overthrow of all other empires, and establish the reign of righteousness and knowledge of God among all people, kindreds and tongues. [NS512]


The Scribes and Pharisees who asked our Lord the question, "When will the kingdom of God appear?" did so because they had no sympathy with Him nor faith in His proclamation. They considered His claims fraudulent, and that the common people were being deceived. They asked the question for the purpose of exposing the weakness of our Lord's claims. They thought that if they could get Him to commit Himself to a certain time, so as to say, My kingdom will appear at such and such a time and all will see its glory, then they could at that date point out the falsity of His claims and show that nothing was manifested. Besides, their question was evidently the forerunner of other questions.

If Jesus had answered, "In one year My kingdom will be manifested in power and great glory," they probably then would have asked, "Where will you get your soldiers?" and then, "Where will you get the money to equip them?" and then, "How could you expect, with all the army and raw recruits you could raise, to meet the Roman veterans?" Their thought was that by these questions they could show the people the fallacy of the Lord's claims to be a king – and that the kingdom was not at hand. But our Lord's answer entirely disarmed them; He told them that His kingdom would not come with outward show; that they would never be able to point to a certain locality and say, "There is the capital of the kingdom."

"Neither shall ye say, lo, here! or, lo there!" The reason for this inability to point out the center of Messiah's kingdom is that it is a spiritual kingdom, invisible to men. It will be in their midst, but they will see nothing. Its power will be exercised, but of outward display there will be none. No wonder such an answer silenced our Lord's opponents. He was referring to a different kingdom from that they had in mind. Many dear Christian people are in great confusion of mind on the subject of Christ's Kingdom, because they have in mind gross misconceptions of God's Kingdom. They say to themselves – "the Jews made a mistake in expecting an earthly empire, with an earthly, fleshly King with an earthly army. We will not make such a mistake, we will go to the other extreme, and imagine that our Lord meant that the Kingdom of God would come into our hearts and that this reign of righteousness thus begun in our hearts when we accepted Christ as King is all that there is of the Kingdom, and there never will be more of it."

It is quite true that those who accept Jesus as their Redeemer and come into relationship with the Father through Him, and make a full consecration of themselves to the Father's will, to walk in the footsteps of Jesus – these indeed have the reign or dominion of Christ in the control of their hearts forthwith. We are glad that this is so; we are glad to be able to agree thus far. But it is a great mistake to suppose that this is the Kingdom mentioned by our Lord and the Apostles, and previously prophesied of and symbolized.


Oh, no! Something much better is yet to come? The few fully consecrated saints of God not only would be a very small empire for our Lord to rule over, but additionally it would never fulfil the many glorious promises of the Scriptures. For instance, our Lord declares that the faithful amongst His followers shall sit with Him in His throne and have power over the nations and dash them into pieces as a potter's vessel, etc. How could these things ever be if the Kingdom of God consists merely of those comparatively few saints with whom the Lord's will is the ruling law, in whose hearts He is now the King. Notice in the passage we have quoted that our Lord speaks of the matter as future, not present, "The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation" – will not come with observation or outward display. And again, that the Kingdom our Lord referred to is a future one is evidenced by the fact that He taught His followers to pray, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is done in Heaven." [Matt. 6:10]

If the rule of Christ in the hearts of His saints be all there is of the Kingdom, why should our Lord ignore this and refer merely to a future Kingdom? The proposition is inconsistent. Unquestionably the Lord's word teaches that a rule or reign of righteousness is to be established world-wide for the blessing of all the race of Adam – for the uplifting of our race purchased with a view to the eternal blessing of all those who will come into harmony with the Kingdom and the everlasting destruction of those who will refuse obedience to its mandates.

Realizing the logic of the foregoing facts, quite a large proportion of Christendom has accepted the thought that the work begun in the hearts of the Church is to spread into other hearts, so that ultimately all mankind will be brought into the Church and God's Kingdom thus come and His will ultimately be done on earth as in heaven. But the more critically this proposition is examined the more thoroughly it disproves itself, because: First – Even if the whole world were brought to a condition of saintship God's will would still not be done on earth as in heaven, because the apostle declares of the saints, "Ye cannot do the things that ye would." [Gal. 5:17]

A great change would be necessary, a change beyond everything that has ever occurred yet or that we have power to effect. Second – After 18 centuries we find that, while nominal Christendom is rated at 400,000,000, only a very [NS513] few of these would claim to be saints. On the contrary, counted among this number are the inmates of the prisons of Christendom, far more in number than all the culprits of heathendom. What hope is there for turning Christendom into saints? None. The latter, as in our Lord's day and in harmony with His word, we discern to be but a "little flock."

Third – The heathens are far more numerous today than ever before, notwithstanding all the efforts made on their behalf, so rapid is the propagation of the species. A century ago the census reports showed 600,000,000 heathens; today they report 1,200,000,000. Surely, no sane person, considering these facts, feels justified in supposing that our Lord's kingdom is to come by any such process of conversion under present conditions. Furthermore, the Master Himself declared to the contrary, saying: "Fear not, little flock; it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:32)

And, besides, the kingdom is specifically declared to be established for the purpose of blessing all the families of the earth, whereas, if the coming of the kingdom meant the conversion of all the heathens, there would be no families of the earth to enter into the blessings of the kingdom if it had come.


Having thus proved that our Lord did not mean that His kingdom would be one that ever would be in the hearts of the Pharisees and that He referred to it not as a kingdom already present, but as one that cometh, we are prepared to view this text in harmony with all the teachings of Scripture on the subject, and to see that it signifies that when the kingdom of Christ shall have come it will be invisible to men, but a mighty power in their midst. With no outward show, ostentation or display, it will be in the midst of mankind, a reign of righteousness, spiritual power, restraining and controlling, punishing sin and rewarding every endeavor toward righteousness, and thus effecting a resurrection, a raising up by judgments, by stripes, by disciplines, by rewards. (John 5:28-29)

But before the kingdom can be established and do this work of the world its members must be found, and they must be glorified, changed in the first resurrection, to qualify them for this ministry. The change for them will be from human to divine, spirit conditions, when they shall be like unto the angels and like unto their glorified Lord, and sharers with Him in that dominion or "kingdom of God" under the whole heavens. Thus the coming Kingdom will be like Satan's empire of the present time, so far as invisibility is concerned. But as Satan's empire works for evil and darkness, ignorance and superstitions the Kingdom of Christ will, to the contrary, work for righteousness and truth and blessing and uplifting and enlightenment.

As Satan and the demons, his associates, work in and through human agencies, so Christ and the Church, his glorified Kingdom class, spirit beings, will operate through human channels and agencies. Neither will the two kingdoms clash, for the distinct statement of Scripture is that the dominion of Christ shall be all powerful, that Satan shall be bound, and every influence of evil brought under restraint, so that nothing shall hurt, injure or destroy in all God's holy Kingdom, but the light of the knowledge of the glory of God shall fill the whole earth.

Our Lord's announcement to the Jews in the harvest time of their age that "the Kingdom of God is at hand" implied that the time had come for those of that favored Nation who would be counted worthy to be associated with Messiah in the Kingdom should be received by Him and be exalted by their change, so that they would be qualified for the work of blessing the remainder of their Nation and all nations. But God fore-knew that only a small remnant of the Jewish people were in a condition of heart to make them worthy of membership in this spiritual Kingdom. Hence our Lord declared to them, "The Kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a Nation which shall bring forth fruit meet for the Kingdom." (Matt. 21:43)

What did he mean by this? He meant that the proffer of a share in God's great work of blessing the world, which had been granted to that Nation as the offspring of Abraham, would be taken from them as a Nation. Those who heard him supposed that he meant that God would offer the privilege to some other Nation then living, but the Apostle explains differently – that God proposed to organize a holy Nation composed of the holy Jews and others of a similar class among all nations whom He would seek out and instruct as His peculiar people. It has been the work of this Gospel age to find the holy Nation, Spiritual Israel, and this work, we believe, is almost finished, and the entire company of this holy Nation class is but a "little flock."

The Apostle Peter shows this when he says to the consecrated believers, ye are a holy Nation, a royal priesthood, prepared for a purpose. (1 Pet. 2:9)

God's purpose with this holy Nation is that, after their development through trials and disciplines, they shall be changed to be like their Lord and to share His glory, honor and work as the members of the Body of the great Messiah, to carry out the work of blessing Israel and all the nations of the world. This, then, is the Kingdom of God's dear Son, of which the Apostle speaks particularly, saying, "He shall reign until he shall have put all enemies under his [NS514] feet." (1 Cor. 15:25)

Again He speaks of the Church as associated with her Lord. He says: "The very God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. (Rom. 16:20)

The entire Gospel age is only a "little season" from God's standpoint, for a day with the Lord is as a thousand years. (Psa. 90:4; 2 Pet. 3:8)


Some of our Lord's parables related to this Spiritual Kingdom in its future work of blessing the world with an opportunity for knowledge of God and reconciliation to Him, and their testing in relation to this matter. Of such is the parable of the sheep and the goats, which is distinctly stated to begin to apply "when the Son of Man shall come in the glory of the Father" – at the second advent. [Matt. 16:27]

Others of the parables of the Kingdom relate to various experiences of the church, the Kingdom class, during this Gospel age. The parable now under consideration points out to us the class of persons who will succeed in getting the high honor of a place in this Kingdom as joint-heirs with Christ. These are like to pearl merchants – they are seeking imperishable valuables, and not frittering away life and its opportunities. There are not many such in the world – not many pearl merchants seeking for the best things, the most valuable things, temporal or spiritual.

The majority, alas, are prodigal sons, spending all that they have, wasting their substances in riotous living, seeking after pleasure, and, like the prodigal of old, finding little of it. There are in the world, however, some of noble sentiment of heart, anxious to spend their lives in the accomplishment of some noble purpose that will be to the advantage of their fellow men, and making the world brighter and better for their having lived in it. Some of these are to be found among the merchants of the world, who realize that the increment of wealth which comes to them is properly to be esteemed a stewardship, and who seek in various ways for the establishment of schools, libraries, colleges, etc., and to have before their fellow men a noble name as noble characters. Others give their lives as teachers, college professors, etc., others as physicians and surgeons; others seek to make their lives useful to their country and to their fellow men as statesmen.

All of these are noble seekers after noble pearls of value, seekers of those qualities and rewards even of an earthly kind which would be enduring. And we should not forget to include in this list many in the humbler walks of life, who in their own families, their own neighborhoods, seek to do good to all men as they have opportunity, and thus to prove themselves blessings indeed to their fellow creatures.

The Greensburg Daily Tribune, December 24, 1907


Lancaster, Pa., Dec. 23 – Pastor Russell, of Allegheny, Pa., preached twice here today to large audiences. His afternoon topic was "A Sure Cure for Infidelity."

His evening topic was "God's Unspeakable Gift," from the text, "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift." (2 Cor. 9:15)

He said: In proportion as we attain God-likeness, in proportion as the spirit of Christ dwells in us richly and abounds, in proportion as we possess the holy spirit, the mind of the Lord, in that same proportion will we be able to appreciate increasingly the testimony of the Scriptures that "It is more blessed to give than to receive." [Acts 20:35]

In our dealings with God it is proper, yea, it is necessary, that we realize our dependence, our own insufficiency, and his greatness and bountifulness and that we learn to go to God as his "dear children," to whom he delights to give his favors, and who delight to receive these and to appreciate them with grateful hearts. We are debtors to God in every sense of the word, and always will be his debtors – we can never dispute the obligation under which his mercy and loving kindness have placed us. The sooner we realize this the better it will be for us. Some there are, who possessed with a false pride, feel and declare that they ask no favors from either God or man – that they pay their way and wish always to do so. Something of this spirit is praiseworthy as respects our dealings with our fellows, but the entire proposition is inconsistent with our relationship to the Almighty. As we did not create ourselves neither can we maintain our being, as the Scriptures assert, "In him we live and move and have our being." [Acts 17:28]

This would have been true of us, whether born on an angelic plane or as perfect human beings – we could not have created ourselves, directly or indirectly – God was responsible for our birth through the arrangements of his providences in nature, and he is the provider for his creatures on every plane. The fact that he causes the sun to shine upon the just and the unjust and gives rain upon the evil as well as upon the good, and thus provides for the world of mankind that as a whole is in rebellion against him and his authority, does not prove that the laws of nature are autocratic and that the results could not be otherwise. Rather, as the Scriptures show, these mercies [NS515] of God scattered, broadcast to all, tell of a provision on God's part for the necessities of his creatures. That he allows these laws to be interfered with at the present time and permits adverse conditions upon our race he fully explains to be because of our sinful, rebellious attitude, because the sentence, the curse of death, has been justly pronounced against us, and because he sees a way by which present lessons of adversity and tribulation may be made instructive to us as respects the "exceeding sinfulness of sin." [Rom. 7:13]

Two of the great lessons for us to learn are our complete dependence on God and his loving kindness and tender mercies over all his works. But these things can only be learned truly from one standpoint and by one class. Those who view matters from the outside will surely misunderstand, misinterpret many of the operations of divine providence, as the poet has declared, "Blind unbelief is sure to err, And scan God's work in vain; He is his own interpreter, And He will make it plain."

"The secret of the Lord is with them that reverence him, and he will show them his covenant" – his agreement, his future plans. In order to see, to understand, to appreciate them we must accept certain matters by faith:

(1) "That He is" – that there is an Almighty Creator;

(2) "That He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him." [Heb. 11:6]

Seeking the Lord diligently we find in the Bible that which commends it to our hearts as well as to our heads; but here we are beset by a danger and a difficulty for while it is possible to have great assistance from our fellow-believers in the study and understanding of the Divine Word, there is much danger of our becoming even more confused by such assistances – by the creeds and theories of man, particularly those handed down from the "dark ages."

Whatever, therefore, we receive from men we must accept tentatively – for examination, for proving and testing by the Word of God. Thus we try the spirits or doctrines, as the Apostle admonishes; thus, as the poet has expressed it, we allow God to be his own interpreter and to make the matter plain to us. Teachers who refer us to the Word of God, pointing out its harmony with itself and with reason, giving the chapters and verses and showing the relationship between text and text – these are the teachers who are really helpful; all others are apt to be injurious, whether they address us orally or in print.


Only after we have been for a time in the school of Christ can we comprehend the force of the Apostle's words that "every good and perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness neither shadow of turning." (Jas. 1:17)

Then we begin to look about to find some of these good and perfect gifts. We do find many gifts and blessings, but very few of them purely good, very few of them perfect. Everything connected with our present condition is imperfect; even the sunshine and the rain which are common to all God's creatures are evidently not furnished us under perfect conditions.

Imperfection seems to be written upon everything that we have as well as upon ourselves. The Bible explanation of all this is that, while God's work is perfect, we are not really samples of his workmanship, but depraved, fallen, imperfect through the original sin of Father Adam and its entailed weaknesses and blemishes upon his posterity.

The good and perfect gifts of God are only seen by the eye of faith – only seen by those whose eyes of understanding have been opened to see by faith Jesus, the great Redeemer – to see in God's due time his great work of redemption accomplished, the wiping away of all tears from off all faces, and the re-establishment of everything on the plane of perfection – the destruction of death and everything connected therewith, and the establishment of perfect life condition such as God has promised. What is then seen by the eye of faith, by those whose eyes of understanding have to some extent been opened? We answer that they are seeing more and more of the riches of God's grace, and appreciating more and more all of his gifts and favors, and especially the great gift, the unspeakable gift, mentioned in our text. What this gift is, is the entire Scripture set forth in various presentations. One of the most forceful of these statements is by the Apostle who declares that the "wages of sin is death, but –

What is there in the gift of eternal life that makes it so wonderful – that leads the Apostle to describe it as God's unspeakable gift? Ah, everything is in that gift!

For without it, without eternal life, there is no eternal blessing. False theologies have diverted or taken away from this Bible statement that eternal life is God's gift, and that he will supply it only to those in fullest harmony with himself. False theologies have taught us that eternal life is a natural quality – yea, more, that it is a persistent one, so that even God himself could not destroy our lives or being. This erroneous thought has distorted all our reasonings and left the issue as between an eternal life in torture or an eternal life of bliss; whereas the Scriptures clearly define a different issue, namely, as between extinction, destruction, and a life in harmony with God, a life which divine love and mercy has provided for those in accord with the Almighty. [NS516] Let us hearken back to the testimony of the Lord and. the apostles and the prophets on this subject, and see that God is now proffering the Church a gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us note the Scriptural proposition that if we are wilfully and deliberately and intelligently rejecting this gift it will be withdrawn, and the effect upon us will be Second Death, everlasting oblivion – from which God offers no hope of recovery. Let us note that this is the general dealing of God and hence that when his time shall come for dealing with the world of mankind in general, during the Millennial Age, the offer then to be made to them, when their eyes of understanding shall be opened and their deaf ears shall be unstopped, will be a similar proposition of life or death everlasting. Those who will accept God's gift on God's terms are welcome to it – he is pleased to give it to them; those who will reject it shall die the Second Death, extinction. "Through Jesus Christ, our Lord," is the Apostle's statement. The gift is not offered to us by the Father directly, but indirectly through the Son. The Apostle writes to those whose eyes of understanding have been opened, who he declares are all with open face looking into the mirror of God's word and seeing there his glorious character and purposes – to these the Apostle says, "This is the record, that God has given unto us eternal life; and this life is in his Son: he that hath the Son hath life, he that hath not the Son shall not see life." [1 John 5:11,12]

Again the Scriptures inform us that this life is merely reckoned to us now, and that we will not get it until we experience the change of the first resurrection at the second coming of our Lord, as it is written, "Your life is hid with Christ in God." (Col 3:3)

Thus every suggestion of God's gift is bound up similarly in Christ; only as we welcome, united to him, related to him, can we have this gift of God, this unspeakable gift. Hence it is not improper that we should sometimes both think and speak of Jesus himself as being,


Both Jesus and the eternal life which the Father has provided through him are unspeakable in the sense that it is impossible for us to fully present to others the rich fulness and glory which inheres in both. Who can describe life eternal either on a spirit plane or as restored and perfect humanity? It is unthinkable – beyond all the powers of our mental comprehension; the thought can only be imperfectly communicated, only be imperfectly grasped, and must gradually dawn upon us, grow upon us in appreciation and comprehension. Similarly the wealth of riches of divine grace represented in our Lord Jesus is unspeakable; we cannot tell it – the natural man cannot receive of the things of the Spirit of God, neither know them. 1 Cor. 2:14

Only those who are specially favored of God can get even the first glance of the riches of God's grace in Christ. If this glance be received and appreciated it leads to clearer and still clearer views, for all who will appreciate either Jesus or the gift of life must be "taught of God." (John 6:45)

As our Redeemer said to Peter, "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood have not revealed this unto thee, but my Father in heaven." [Matt. 16:17]

So all our teaching and preaching cannot overcome the blindness of the natural fallen mind in respect to God's gift and the channel through which it comes; only as the Father shall grant his blessing may fruits to our labors be expected. As it is written, "As many as the Lord your God shall call," and again, "No man can come unto me except the Father which sent me draw him." [Acts 2:39; John 6:44]

Hence we see that our present appreciation of divine goodness implies three gifts –

(1) the divine provision of eternal life;

(2) Christ the channel, and

(3) the knowledge by which we are enabled to appreciate both the gift and the channel.

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