|J. H. PATON||ALMONT, MICH.|
|W. I. MANN||ALLEGHENY, PA.|
|B. W. KEITH||DANSVILLE, N.Y.|
|H. B. RICE||W. OAKLAND, CAL.|
|A. D. JONES||PITTSBURGH, PA.|
We now come to the consideration of the Church's condition during this period of trouble. We have seen that "great and terrible" things are coming upon the world – overturning of all governments, law and order – utter wreck of society. Will the Church go through this "time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation?"
The answer, to be understood, must recognize two classes of Christians as being IN THE CHURCH now and during the gospel age, viz., the very few entirely consecrated ones who have "the same mind which was also in Christ Jesus," i.e., a mind or desire to do only the Father's will; those in whom his word abides so that they "bring forth much fruit" – "meekness, patience, Godlikeness, brotherly-kindness, charity," etc. – Gal. 5:22. These are the "little flock," "the sanctified in Christ Jesus, who have their fruit unto holiness." This small part of the living church will be found watching, and are told that, if they do so, they will "escape all those things coming on the world." We understand that the escape is effected by their being "caught up to meet the Lord in the air" (1 Thess. 4:17); yet that their taking will be unseen by the world.
While the few "escape," the majority of professing Christians, sincere, earnest, zealous, in their way, though they be, are yet, on their own profession, not entirely consecrated, and do not wish to be. They are willing to take the Lord as a partner, and defer a little to his wishes in their acts of life. The partnership is composed of Christ, the world, and SELF; and these three modify the life and bring it to a "luke-warm" condition. But to cast out the world and to debase self so that the only controlling power is Christ, is to break up all partnership, and brings to the condition Paul expresses: "For me to live is Christ," because Christ reigns supreme.
This class will be overtaken by the "day of the Lord" unprepared. Because, "overcharged with the world, self, and the cares of this life," they are not watching, and are therefore taken "unawares," and as in a "snare" (see Luke 21:34,35), "and they shall not escape." This class, sometimes called "carnal-minded, babes in Christ," are blessed in this great trouble; for, though the love of Christ does not constrain them to entire consecration because of the great strength of the world and self, yet, when put into this "furnace" of trouble, the miserable dross will be eliminated, their eyes relieved of worldly blindness and anointed with truth that they may truly see; their garments, too, which have become so torn that "the shame of their nakedness appears;" and, spotted by the flesh and soiled by contact with the world, these, with much anguish and pain, shall, during this "day of wrath, wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb," and "the Lamb in the throne shall feed them."
When Christ is enthroned, has "taken his great power," and commenced his reign as earth's new King, these judgments of the "great day of wrath" are the first acts, the first evidences to the world that the "Kingdom of Heaven," composed of Christ Jesus and his overcoming Church, above referred to, has been established or "set up." When thus enthroned, the Bride (the "little flock") is with him. Who? "They that are with him are called and chosen and faithful," and "In righteousness he doth judge and make war. Jesus promised "To him that overcometh I will give to sit with me in my throne," – "I will give him power over the nations."
David shows the position of the saints or overcomers to be with Christ in POWER, Ps. 149:79: "This honor have all his saints to execute the judgments written."
It is then, while the "little flock," the "Bride," the "overcoming church," is thus enthroned with Jesus, and while she is inflicting the judgments written, and while the other class of Christians in the Church, the carnal-minded ones, left in the world are "washing their robes," that the Lamb feeds them with truth, and leads them (some quickly, others more slowly) unto living fountains of water, bringing, finally, as many as will be led to the heavenly condition, beyond all tears, pain and sorrow, receiving them into his eternal home; and so we see them (Rev. 7:14) "clothed in white robes and palms in their hands;" and we are told "These are they that came out [R36 : page 1] of" (gr., after or through) "the great tribulation, and have washed their robes," etc.; "Therefore are they before the throne and serve God in his temple."
High honor to be a servant in God's temple; but not so great as to be "the temple" itself. Glorious position before the throne; but not so highly exalted as the "Bride" in the throne. Grand to be overcomers of the world, and to carry a palm in hand, even by coming through "the great tribulation;" but not so grand as to be accounted worthy to escape and to be crowned a conqueror by the King of kings.
"The King's daughter ("the Lamb's wife") is all glorious within; her clothing is of wrought gold; she is brought unto the King in [white] raiment of needlework;" and who will say that her garments are not more grand than those of "the virgins, her companions, who follow her," though they also be clothed in "robes washed white" – though they also be brought before the King with gladness and rejoicing? (Ps. 45:13.)
But though the "little flock" escape the great tribulation coming on the world, there is another tribulation coming also in "the day of the Lord." It comes before the translation of the overcomers, and is a furnace into which the Church, wheat (true and false, whether advanced Christians or babes in Christ) and tares (hypocrites) – all go into this trial. Of this Paul says, "The fire will try every man's work of what sort it is."
Every believer in Christ is represented as a builder putting up, from the materials furnished in God's word, a "holy faith and holy life," all assistance and direction being furnished through the Spirit.
Some are building with gold, silver and precious stones – truth; others with hay, wood and stubble – errors; – both build on the rock – Christ Jesus; both have a foundation in the rock. The tares (hypocrites) know not the rock, and build on the sand. In this illustration by Paul, the two classes of Christians are distinctly seen: the little flock, who have built wisely of truths, the fire of that day does not affect – they receive the reward promised to overcomers; those whose building is burned lose the high calling (the bride's position) though "they themselves be saved yet as by fire." (1 Cor. 3:11-15.)
The same trial of the Church is shown in Ps. 91. We understand the trial to come through the rise of infidelity, which will so shake and shatter all religious beliefs, as to expose the multitudinous errors and burn them (errors, "wood, hay, stubble") up, leaving as the representatives of Christianity those who hold the truth ("gold, silver," etc.), the "little flock" who, we believe, will shortly after be translated.
Infidelity is already as a pestilence, a miasm abroad throughout the world. It is in the store-room, the street-car, on the railroad, in the newspapers, in the Sunday-schools and in the churches. Everywhere, as a pestilence, it goes suiting itself to the various surroundings. It is in the street outspoken, in the paper a joke or a side-cut at Christianity, in the Sunday-school and pulpit it is toned down, yet none the less [R36 : page 2] powerful, as it suggests that it is not best to think of the seeming incongruities of Jonah and the great fish, or Sampson, or Joshua and the sun. Another form of this pestilence is lack of faith and trust in the promises of God. The promises are quoted in prayer, etc., yet a fulfilment is seldom expected. The doctrines and traditions of men are sought and accepted more readily than the word of God. There is a form of Godliness without the power. It is really unbelief. ("When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?")
Yes, infidelity is systematically and rapidly undermining the confidence of the most enlightened, in sacred things, and its power and influence are increased by the fact that so very many of the doctrines which it assails are really false – "wood, hay and stubble." But as one doctrine after another which, once they hold sacred torn to shreds, they begin to doubt all, and are in danger of throwing away truths as well, so great is their disgust.
Some will be taken as in a "snare." All who are not watching and who have not the light of God's word upon the pathway in which they tread, will be ensnared by the strong arguments and deep-laid plans of error. It is only the faith-full and trusting that shall be unharmed, those who can say "He is my refuge and fortress, my God, in Him will I trust."
They only will stand "the arrows." (The wicked shoot out arrows, even wicked words." ) The scoffs and derision which will attach to all who will then claim to bear the name of Christ, will be too much for many. It will pierce and wound them and cause them to retire, unless they have for a shield and buckler God's truth (vs. 4.) Only a clear and harmonious understanding of God's word (the truth) will enable us to withstand the various and powerful attacks of this time.
The apostle foresaw this time and warns us of "the evil day," (Eph. 6:11-12.) "Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil," for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, &c." "Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that ye may be able to withstand in that evil day." It is a day more for defence than aggressive warfare – withstanding.
Paul describes the whole armor; have you taken it? Are you wearing it now? Unless you have it on you are not prepared for the "evil day" into which we are now entering. Some have one part of this armor and some another. Few have it all. There are few who can not add to their defensive preparation. Some christians have caught the end of the girdle of truth, wrapped it about them and started with the sword (the word) to attack the powers of darkness. These are they, who have only the intellectual, and not the experimental, knowledge of the word of truth. Stop, brother, put on the whole armor. You will need the helmet of salvation (the acceptance of Christ's atoning work), the breast plate of righteousness, (experimental religion), and a shield of faith and trust, else you may be pierced by many an arrow. And do not neglect to have "your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace" – meekness, gentleness, patience, long suffering, love, lest you soon become weary in the rugged way. Others put on the breast-plate and helmet and shield, but lack the girdle and sword. They feel prepared for every thing and spend all their time polishing and admiring their armor. These are they who accept of the salvation offered by our Lord and rejoice in it, but who have little or no intellectual knowledge or understanding of the matter. They believe, but scarcely know what or why. They see no necessity for anything but a thread of truth for a girdle, and therefore do not seek to grow in knowledge of the truth. The sword, the word of God, they know little about; it is heavy; they cannot handle it easily – they see little use for it. They used it a little to assist in putting on their breast-plate, but since that it lies idle. Stop, brother, sister, that armor might do you good under some circumstances, but it will not do in this "evil day." The battle will weary you, and you will faint in the way if you have not the girdle of truth (a sustaining strength derived from an understanding of the word) to brace and strengthen you. You may have never so large a shield of faith and other armor, but you cannot do without the sword (the word.) The enemy will attack you and take away your shield and other armor unless you have the sword to defend them.
Yes, friends, we need the whole armor if we would stand. If you have it complete – head and heart religion – then you will be of those described as being "able to quench all the fiery darts, arrows of the wicked." "A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh thee." (Psa. 91:7.) Though thousands of christians, and ones in whom you had rested much confidence, fall at your side, yet, so armed with the panoply of God, nothing can compel you to doubt the presence and power of our Lord.
Think not that you will not be shaken, that your faith – shield – will not need to be defended. "The fire of that day shall try every man's work of what sort it is."
This fall of christianity, religious influence and restraint, and the rise of infidelity, prepares the way and is the door by which the trouble upon the world (which quickly follows this upon the church) is introduced. They both are parts of the trouble of "the great day of God."
B. I have called as we arranged, to continue our talk, and would like if you are at leisure to inquire, concerning the reconciliation of God to man. How can he be said to have become reconciled to the world if he always loved the world?
A. I hope you get the force of the word atonement. Mr. Webster defines it as meaning, not only satisfaction for the debt incurred, but also reconciliation between the offended parties – an at-one-ment, as the word indicates. Two persons can only be entirely at one when in perfect harmony of mind and will. Man broke God's righteous law and though the debt incurred has been paid by his substitute, yet having degenerated morally, mentally, and physically, he is not inclined to be in harmony with God. As "God is of purer eyes than to behold evil," sin became a barrier between God and his creatures, interrupting communion and fellowship – and though still loving mankind, God hates their sin.
As sin led the first sinners to hide from God's presence, so it has ever since tended to separate them, and thus we see God and the sinner arrayed as opponents. God, from his very purity and holiness the opponent of sin. Man, from the degrading influences of sin, the opponent of holiness.
The means by which these opponents are again brought together and into harmony and communion, is called in scripture – reconciliation – atonement. As we saw at our last interview, God was not reconciled by permitting his mercy to overrule his justice, thus excusing sin, but by providing Christ as the sinner's substitute, so that "You who were ...alienated and enemies in mind by wicked works, hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through DEATH." (Col. 1:21.) So we see that the reconciliation is complete from God's standpoint ever since Christ made "reconciliation for iniquity," (Dan. 9:24.) in his death.
And now, God makes overtures to the sinner, sending word by his apostles telling, how he was reconciled to them all, and beseeching them to return to fellowship and communion with him. But while God is now reconciled, man, except the "little flock," is not at one with, or reconciled to God.
A. If reconciling and making at one means the bringing into perfect harmony of mind and will, it must be evident to you that only the little flock are yet so reconciled to God's will and to God's way as to prefer it to their own, consequently only these are perfectly at one with the Father. The saints only can truly say: "We have received the at-one-ment" Rom. 5:11. We and our Father are in full harmony and communion. B. Do you hold then, that the reconciling of the World is a future work?
A. I do: We who are now reconciled, have now "committed unto us, the ministry of reconciliation." As soon as fully reconciled ourselves, we join with God in telling the world of His love and "reconciliation to them by the death of His Son." We are thus "ambassadors of God, as though he besought through us," we call "Be ye reconciled to God."
As many as have ears to hear may hear, but our work of proclaiming this grand message does not end with this present life, for we find that in the new heaven and new earth (next, or millennial age), we, as the Bride of Christ, carry on the work of ambassadors, for then "The Spirit and the Bride say come." (Rev. 22:17.)
A. No, I think not, although I do expect that the majority of the race will ultimately be saved to the lesser salvation. That the benefits of the cross to mankind are as far-reaching as was the curse of sin, is certainly Paul's argument in Rom. 5:15,16, and 20,21. And where sin reigned unto death, grace (God's favor in Christ,) did much more abound. And as by one man's (Adam's) disobedience, many were made sinners, and death passed upon all; so also by one man's (second Adam's,) obedience ("He was obedient even unto death.") the world is justified unto life, or may live again.
B. But to be justified to life by Christ would not imply reconciliation to God, would it? Are they not simply brought back to natural life by Christ's death, and will they not be resurrected in exactly the same condition of mind and body as when they died?
A. You seem to forget that mankind lost more than we now as natural men possess; You are correct in saying that Christ's death justified their return to natural life only: But what is perfect natural life? It has been enjoyed by but one of the race thus far, the first Adam. He was created perfect and upright. He was perfect mentally and physically, but when sin entered, it robbed him of those perfections [Continued on page 7.] [R37 : page 7] [Continued from page 2.] and his posterity all partake of this degeneracy, so that now man is "prone to sin as the sparks to fly upward," and even when "begotten by the word of truth," he finds "a law in his members (his fallen humanity,) warring against the law of his mind, so that the good he would do, he does not do, but that evil which he would not do, that he does." Rom. 7:7,19. If then all since Adam, are more or less depraved, his is the only sample of our nature undepraved. He was the natural man. Our condition is imperfect and unnatural. It is to this condition of perfect natural life, that Christ's death enables the world to return.
A. By no means; Probably they will not rise maimed, blind or otherwise deformed, but with that degree of life which we now term, health, yet they will not be perfect beings, for it requires all of the Millennial age to accomplish fully the work of "restoring all things." It is therefore the restitution age, or "times of restitution." The one who restores is the Second Adam – Head and body – "The Christ." The fall was gradual, and the restoring will be gradual also. A prophetic symbolism referring to this work, says: "The leaves of the trees were for the healing of the nations" – teaching that the healing is a gradual work.
A. It will be the privilege of all men to go in and possess, all that was once enjoyed by Adam, except those who in the present life have committed the unpardonable sin. But from Rev. 20:7-9, we have reason to believe that all will not even then, when God's love is fully manifested; when the knowledge of the Lord fills the whole earth, and when the paths of righteousness are so plain that "The wayfaring man though a fool, need not err therein." (This is not the case now you know.) Some even under such favorable circumstances will not avail themselves of the privilege to become reconciled to God, but prefer sin – such die the second death. But then unlike the present time, the sin of one will not be permitted to sink others as well as himself, but "The soul that sinneth (person) it shall die."
A. No: Jesus was undefiled, being "born not of the will of the flesh, but of God" – "begotten of the Holy Ghost," he was uncontaminated by sin. – "Holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners," yet, in his human, physical being, He was not perfect and consequently not like Adam, who was perfect. Remember that "Jesus took upon Him the likeness of sinful flesh." Rom. 8:3.
B. One more question: Will the World ever come to a higher plane than that of perfect humanity? Will they ever become spiritual beings like the Angels, and like the "little flock" which has the promise of being resurrected spiritual bodies?
A. I know of no scriptures which teach that any but the "little flock," or bride company, and the company who come out of the great tribulation (Rev. 7:14,) will ever be given spiritual bodies. It certainly is not included in "restoring all things," for that only can be restored which was once possessed and lost. Adam never had a spiritual body; it could not therefore be restored. Nor are we told that any promise of spiritual bodies or any existence other than as a man was ever God's design for him. "The creature shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the children of God." Rom. 8:21. They will be freed again from bondage to sickness, pain and death, mental ailments, and will enjoy the liberty of life in common with all God's creatures on every plane of existence.
This same "liberty and freedom" was enjoyed by Adam before he sinned. The liberty which he lost from the lack of the knowledge of good and evil, the restored race may keep, because they will have that knowledge. But mark me, I only say that I know of no scriptures which teach us that a spiritual life was intended for the world. What God may do in future ages we know not. "Who hath known the mind of the Lord?"
A. I have received some new ideas on reconciliation and atonement. I see that the work is great, and God's preparation for it, large and ample. From my heart I thank Him that the [R38 : page 7] news of his being reconciled to me, and His readiness to receive me into communion and fellowship, ever reached me, and I greatly rejoice that I am privileged here feebly, and hereafter with power to declare unto my fellow creatures the unsearchable riches of his grace, and as an ambassador, to beseech men "Be ye reconciled to God."
As I see more fully "to what I am called" and "what is the hope of my calling." I intend by His help to make my calling and election sure. "With this hope in me, I'll purify myself even as he is pure," and "lay aside every weight, and run with patience the race set before me, looking to Jesus." Good night.
The typical use of Bread is well established by bible evidence. That the Lord teaches spiritual things through the natural is apparent to many. One phrase of this fact is seen in the advantage taken by the Saviour of natural wants as illustrations.
When men were gathering to the great annual feast, under the influence of heat and toil, when water would naturally be the uppermost thought, He stands up and exclaims, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink." John 7:37. So when the multitude had long been with him, and were hungry, He not only had compassion, and fed them, but he took advantage of the occasion to lead them higher: "Labor not for the meat (food) which perisheth but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life." John 5:2-7. This is but temporal and used as a steppingstone. That is superior and is of real and abiding importance.
In the wilderness journey of the children of Israel they were fed with manna. That people and their journey were typical of the true church and their journey to the Heavenly inheritance, and their manna was an appropriate representation of our "Daily Bread." As theirs came from above like a shower, so ours is the True Bread that came down from Heaven. The mind of the carnal Jew failed to see any more than the natural – the manna – though regarding it as a miraculous "work," and "sign" of Moses, being a leader appointed of the Lord. So when Christ suggested the idea of feeding them, and the importance of their believing on him, they answered: "What sign showest thou then that we may see, and believe thee? What dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, "He gave them bread from heaven to eat." John 6:30-31. Mark the answer of Jesus: "Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven." The manna was bread, but it was not the true bread, it was but a shadow. "For the bread of God is he that cometh down from heaven and giveth life unto the world." And in answer to their request, "Lord, evermore give us this bread," He said, "I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger," &c., &c. 32-35.
Nothing could be clearer than that the manna was given as a type of the Lord Jesus – the Word of God. He led them in the wilderness, suffered them to hunger, and fed them with manna that they might learn the important lesson, "That man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. (Deut. 8:3.) They were dull scholars, however, and like many now, saw only the letter, and valued the natural far more than the spiritual. The type could sustain the natural life only for a brief season, but the real bread sustains spiritual life forever. In either case, however, the bread must be eaten, hence the contract. Your fathers did eat manna and are dead: This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die. "If any man eat of this bread he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world." "Except ye eat...ye have no life," but "Whoso eateth... hath eternal life."
By a careful consideration of the whole passage, it will be seen that the natural terms, Bread, eat, drink, flesh, blood and life, are used to represent spiritual things, and to discern this distinction is very important. To confound the natural and spiritual is easy, and to see only the natural, is to be as the Jews were, who counted the words of Jesus hard sayings, and murmured saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Even the disciples had difficulty, and many of them could not appreciate his explanation: "It is the spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing, the words that I speak unto you are spirit and are life." Nothing can be explained only to such as are able to receive it, by previous leading or training, and hence many walked no more with him. To the twelve Jesus said: "Will ye also go away?" Oh! that Peter's answer may be the language of our hearts: "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life." Truth is adapted to the various conditions of christian life from conversion onward, – from milk to the strongest meat; and it is necessary that we receive it, digest and assimilate; and use the strength which the Lord thus supplies.
Are we feeding on God's truth? Is it our daily bread? If so, we are his disciples indeed. John 8:31.
The idea that we are all right, and sure of the kingdom because of an experience we had five, ten, twenty or forty years ago, is a dangerous one. What is our condition now? That seems to be the great question. "He that eateth me shall live by me." It is not enough to eat once, or once a year, but constantly.
"If ye continue in my word then are ye my disciples indeed." "If ye keep my commandments ye shall abide in my love." "By the which ye are saved if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you." "If ye live after the flesh ye shall die, but if ye through the spirit do mortify the deeds of the body ye shall live." This must refer to the spiritual life; and that it needs support or it will be lost is true, or words have no meaning. Many are sickly and dying for want of the bread. Those who are living on the good word, are "strong in the Lord and in the power of his might." "Lord, evermore give us this bread." Feed us until we shall want no more.
Many of our readers are more or less familiar with the application of the parable of the ten virgins (Matth. 25), to a movement in this last generation in reference to the Lord's coming. For such readers especially this article is prepared, and we ask for its suggestions your careful and prayerful attention. This is specially important now, because some of what has been considered the well-established features of the parable, are being discarded by some of our brethren, and a new departure is by them being made. We do not object to changing our opinions, on any subject, or discarding former applications of prophecy, or any other scripture, when we see a good reason for the change, – in fact, it is as important that we should be willing to unlearn errors and mere traditions, as to learn truth. The removal of error is as clearing the rubbish from the surface that the beautiful verdure may appear. But we should be careful in our anxiety to get rid of error, or to build up a new theory, that we do not throw away any truth. It is our duty to "Prove all things," – by the unerring word, – "and hold fast that which is good."
It is confidently predicted that we will discard the whole application, but we see no reason for so doing. Such a thought as the possibility of giving up the general correctness of the application [R39 : page 3] was first suggested by the prediction itself, and we cannot avoid regarding such prediction as an effort to cause such a change and so fulfill an imaginary prophecy. It is not so easy to tell what men will do, as to tell what they have done; (even prophecy cannot be understood in detail until it is fulfilled:) and we are sure that those who have made and accepted the prediction are further now from the old application than we are. This will be apparent presently to all who understand the former application, and the new position taken, and who are free enough from bondage to accept the truth as from the Lord, irrespective of the vessel in which it is conveyed.
To appreciate the strength of the former application, we must see the place or time in the gospel dispensation, where the parable belongs, and to appreciate the weakness of the new departure it is necessary to see the parallelism of the Jewish and Gospel dispensations. The chart on which that beautiful bible argument is illustrated hangs before me as I write. We regard it as a clear, simple and strong definite time argument. From the death of Jacob to the death of Christ, – 1845 years, – is the measure of the first or twelve tribe dispensation. From the death of Christ in the Spring of A.D. 33, until the Spring of A.D. 1878, is the measure of the second – another period of 1845 years. The two dispensations are equal in length, the second beginning where the first ends, at the cross, or death of Christ. That was the meeting place or point of reconciliation between God and man, – "reconciled to God by the death of his Son;" – Rom. 5:10. Hence Christ is our "Mercy Seat." The two cherubim made "of one measure and one size" (1 Kings 6:25) placed with wings extended on either side of the mercy seat, illustrate the equality of the two dispensations. Types are exact, for being a feature of the law, they must be fulfilled even to the jots and tittles, hence though in some respects the dispensations lap, there is a feature in which they do not lap, or that part of the law would not be a perfect shadow.
The wonderful equality in the substance of these dispensations as well as in various measures is familiar to you. From the death of Jacob to the birth of Christ is equal to the period from the death of Christ to the Autumn of A.D. 1844, each being 1811½ years. Each of these points was marked by an important event in reference to the coming of the Lord.
The tarrying of Jesus for 30 years before his baptism and entrance on the harvest work, has its parallel in the tarrying time between 1844 and 1874, at which later point the harvest of the gospel dispensation began. Christ's personal ministry of 3½ years, ending at his death, has its parallel in the 3½ years of harvest from the Autumn of 1874 until the Spring of 1878.
At his birth Christ came in the body prepared for sacrifice, tarried thirty years, and came as Bridegroom and Reaper, and three years and a half later he rode into Jerusalem as a King. The closing work of that dispensation completed the pattern. All the Jewish dispensation with its closing work, under the supervision of Jesus in the flesh, was a pattern of the gospel dispensation and its closing work under the supervision of Christ in the spiritual body. That was a fleshly dispensation for the development of the typical seed, and was the period of Jewish favor, while this has been the dispensation of the Spirit for the development of the Gospel church, the true seed, and God has during this latter half shown the Jews no favor as a nation.
The Anglo-Turkish treaty of 1878, made about the time of the Berlin Congress, securing certain legal favors to the Jews, opening the door for their restoration, is certainly in harmony with the application, and we are not ashamed of our rejoicing at its confirmation. We regard this whole affair as a remarkable confirmation of the truth of bible prophecies, and of the gospel of Christ.
No one who is at all familiar with [R39 : page 4] this argument, can fail to see that whatever tends to weaken or set aside the parallelism, weakens the whole position. As the former closed with its three stages of the coming of Jesus, so this one closes with three stages. In 1844 he was due to leave the most holy place. (I write for those who, by virtue of the past education have eyes to see or ears to hear.) He was expected to come to earth, and to do a great many things that were not due, by those who had not learned that the law, which was a shadow, required that the High Priest should tarry in the holy place to cleanse it (the sanctuary means the holy place,) after he had done his work in the most holy and left it. (See Lev. 16.) That the tarrying was thirty years or from 1844 until 1874 has often been shown. This position as you know was not taken to make it a parallel to the thirty years tarrying at the first Advent, but was based on the Jubilee argument, and the days of Daniel 12, but after having seen the arguments, proving that the Bridegroom was due then, then it was found that the two tarrying times like all the rest were parallel. Man did not make the parallels, but with the Lord's help found them. Thus then they stand related to each other; – at the end of the Jewish dispensation Christ came first as a babe, second as Bridegroom and Reaper, and third as a King; at this time, and points of time exactly corresponding, Christ first came from the Most Holy, and tarried in the Holy place, second as Bridegroom and Reaper, and third, as King.
What he did at first was necessary to complete the pattern, and what he did at the second, was necessary to complete the parallel. You have seen how the Parable of the Ten Virgins belongs in the closing of the Gospel dispensation; and how clearly the various parts of the parallel fit the points of time above mentioned.
The movement is a representative one. Not all the church, no not all living christians "took their lamps and went forth to meet the Bridegroom," but it was an important movement in the church, and ended in disappointment in 1844. "Whilst the Bridegroom tarried they all slumbered and slept." Observe how closely the tarrying time of the parable fits the time for the tarrying in the holy place, as indicated by the prophetic periods. The night of the parable and its tarrying time are identical, ending when the Bridegroom comes.
That Christ has other offices than Bridegroom is true, and we have learned that he comes at different stages or turns, in harmony with his different offices, but be it observed that the coming in this parable is his coming in the character of the Bridegroom, and so far as this parable shows, the tarrying was the tarrying of the Bridegroom.
The tarrying of the parable ends where the Bridegroom of the parable comes. His presence in the character of the Bridegroom is what puts an end to the tarrying. His presence makes it morning. The cry made at midnight of the parable points to the morning of the parable, and could not properly continue after the tarrying had ended by the only way it could end, the coming of the Bridegroom.
All who understand the arguments, admit that the tarrying of the parable began in 1844, and ended in 1874, and it has always been urged in favor of the cry which pointed to 1874, for the coming of the Bridegroom, being the "midnight cry," because it began at midnight, – 1859 – which is a very consistent reason.
But whether or not it was the midnight cry of the parable depends on whether it was true or not, or in other words, whether or not the Bridegroom came in 1874. It will not do to say Christ came in another character in 1874, no other character but that of the Bridegroom would meet the conditions of the parable. And if the coming of the Bridegroom is yet future, then the tarrying of the parable is not ended, the morning of the parable is not come, and that cry in such a case was not the midnight cry, for two reasons, either of which would kill its claim: it was not made at midnight, and the Bridegroom did not come according to the cry. Now it is all right to give up a position when one finds out he is wrong, but it is neither consistent nor right to claim that the tarrying ended in 1874, and thus prove that 1859 was midnight, and yet for some other reason claim that the coming of the Bridegroom is yet, and may be many years future. Convince me that the "coming" of that parable is future, and I will try to do what it seems every honest and consistent man would do, viz: admit the tarrying is not ended, and therefore the cry we are talking of was not the true midnight cry.
Now brethren, all who can hear me, I want it clearly understood that I have not given up the application of the parable, and can see no sufficient reason for so doing. I believe the going forth ended in 1844, that the tarrying ended in 1874, and therefore the cry pointing to 1874 was the midnight cry, and I believe it was consistent that the name "midnight cry" then disappeared from the publication, because, as stated at the time, it had done its work; but in harmony with that faith I also believe that Christ came in the character of a Bridegroom in 1874.
That John introduced Christ in that character at the beginning of the Jewish harvest, to complete the pattern (John 3:29), is to us an additional evidence of the position that the parallel was due in 1874 at the beginning of the gospel harvest. It does not militate against this as a part of the pattern because it may not have appeared in any of the publications on this subject; truth is our heritage from Father, no matter by whom it comes, and each part of the plan is strengthened after it has past. It has troubled some to accept the legitimate conclusion of the midnight cry arguments because they did not understand the manner of Christ's movements, and because it was supposed that going in to the marriage meant translation. We are not translated, and therefore the coming of the Bridegroom must be future, is the substance of the thought [R40 : page 4] in many minds. But for a long time (ever since the Spring of 1875), it has been a matter of surprise to some of us that any of us ever thought going in to the marriage in that parable was translation. Not a word is said in it about the Bride, nor the consummation of a marriage, nor of translation, but it all evidently relates to a double movement of a part of the church before the marriage takes place.
The "going forth" before the slumbering was not a literal movement from one place to another, but an act of faith, and the "going out" under the midnight cry was also an act of faith, why then should the "going in" be a literal transfer. We believe (as has been expressed in an article on the subject) that the virgins are guests by faith, i.e. by being in the light at a certain stage of development.
Of this more anon, but it must appear evident to many that going in may have been in process from 1874, if going out required years for fulfillment. We suggest that the readiness of the parable consists in the ability, by the Spirit and the Truth, to receive him, during his presence as the Bridegroom, before the marriage is due, just as all who believed Moses and were taught of God were able to receive him when he was present in the flesh. (Compare Jno. 5:45-47 and chap. 6:44-45.)
It is admitted by some that going into the marriage is not translation, but there is a special reason in their minds for placing that going in yet in the future, and the coming of the Bridegroom, also in the future, even though they teach as do we that the tarrying time ended in 1874. That special reason is the basis of the new departure we have mentioned. Since the Autumn of 1878, there has been a very clearly marked difference of opinion on the subjects of Atonement, Resurrection and Restitution. While we have not felt disposed to disfellowship anyone on account of a difference of opinion on these things, or for any other opinion as long as we are satisfied of the christian integrity of brethren, there has been difference enough to prevent the same hearty co-operation as formerly, especially as there has been manifested a disposition to urge these disputed points as test questions. Paul and Barnabas separated in their work for a reason not half so important, but Christ was not divided, and we do not read of either one calling each other hard names or disfellowshipping each other as Christians. But the effort is now put forth to create a division before the Bridegroom comes (which is supposed by them to be future) such as will justify the claim that we are the "Foolish Virgins" of the parable. Now this would not hurt our feelings as much as it would some others, even if it were true, for we believe with some of our brethren that are seeking to make this new application that the loss of the "foolish" is temporal and not eternal, or at least, that in due time they will, when fitted, find an appropriate place in the kingdom. But we are sorry to see the straining of some clear applications of scripture to make this new application. It is not what we have said, but what it is supposed we will say that gives even a shadow of a reason for this new application. "But here is a division," say they, "and as there is a division among the virgins before the Bridegroom comes, this must be it." Wait, brethren, suppose this is the division of that parable, are you sure you are on the side of the "wise"? We might imagine as you have concerning us, that you some time will give up the whole application and confess that your lamps have gone out. If there were to be no trial, or shaking, inspection of guests, and casting out of some who did not have on a "wedding garment," AFTER the Bridegroom comes, and the servants were assembled for the wedding (Matt. 22:10-14) there might be a little show of reason for thinking this division to be the division of that parable; but let it be borne in mind that the midnight cry, the waking up, trimming of lamps, confession of lack and seeking for oil, all takes place before the tarrying time ends "For while they went to buy the Bridegroom came," &c. And it cannot be reasonably claimed that the tarrying ended before the Bridegroom came.
If that movement from 1859 until 1874, or if you will, to 1878 was the midnight cry movement, then we certainly are not the foolish virgins of that parable, for we had all the light the cry gave, and we obeyed it too, as is admitted, but there is not a ray of evidence that the foolish virgins went out to meet the bridegroom under the midnight cry. The want of light prevented them from having any place in that procession, and so instead of being ready to meet him, their attention was given in another direction entirely, as is stated in the parable itself. Was not the light in the 1844 movement in reference to the Lord's coming? Does not the analogy of the movement require that the light, in that part of the movement which ends with the coming of the Bridegroom, should relate to that coming? It certainly seems so, and that there should be a change in the kind of light in the middle of the second movement seems far fetched. It cannot be claimed that the second movement ends before the Bridegroom comes.
There were some whose attention was called by the midnight cry, who, on examination could not find such light in their bibles, and yet they wanted to have light on the Lord's coming. And while those who could see the light under the midnight cry, were obeying it in looking for the [R40 : page 5] Bridegroom, they were away in the mazes of the "Eastern Question," and in some cases were expecting a direct voice from Heaven to give them what we could see in the prophetic periods, viz: the time for the coming of the Bridegroom. I wonder who among those who are making this new application, and say they have as much confidence in it as in any part of the application, will be honorable enough to confess as publicly as the former application was made that they were mistaken? "We thought that was light, we thought the Lord led us into it, but we were mistaken, and it was all darkness." Certainly if one position is light the other must be darkness. Does the Lord lead his people in opposite directions? Would it not be wise to be less dogmatic, and less severe with those who cannot see as we do? We may all safely learn a lesson from this sad affair. Those who have advanced light can afford to be patient. I hope no one will infer from what is said above that we think that all who were interested in the "Eastern Question" are represented by the Foolish Virgins. Thousands of Christians never heard the midnight cry, and only those who heard it could either obey it or disobey it. The "wise" represent those who heard it and obeyed the cry. The foolish represent those who heard it and for want of sufficient light could not obey the cry.
This seems to us like drawing largely on the imagination, and savors of a lawyer making up a bad case. When the midnight cry is ended, the light needed in order to obey it has done its work, and that is all the light the parable says anything about. It is now evident that the going in of the parable is not the end of the christian journey, for his journey will not end until he is translated. After the going in, comes the inspection of the guests, followed by a casting out of one at least who has not the "wedding garment." This is a subject worthy of present consideration, and is receiving attention by both sides of this supposed division. Some say the wedding garment is a pure theology, i.e. – a right theory of God's plan. We believe that the right theory is not to be despised, but it is a false theory that teaches that theory alone is needed. To obey the truth is certainly as necessary as it is to have the truth. We believe the "wedding garment" is character, – the highest expression of the greatest effect produced in us by the faith and love of Christ.
The fact that this subject of the wedding garment is now agitated, and especially since the Spring of 1878, is to us significant. We regard it as one of the circumstantial evidences that it is due here, and that the midnight cry movement is past as is the cry itself.
The correctness of either theory of what the wedding garment is, is yet to be tested. Each theory will stand or fall on its own merits, and should not be confounded with the light of the parable of the ten virgins that relates exclusively to the coming of the Bridegroom.
We do not wish any one to think that we are judging those who accept of some wrong idea of Atonement and Restitution, as being without the wedding garment. We believe this to be a time of peculiar trial of faith, – that we are in a riddle, and are getting a terrible shaking; and we are fully convinced that all who HAVE not the wedding garment ON will go through the riddle, no matter how correct their theory about it may be.
We regard the object of a test as partly to prove what we are, and at the same time to develop strength. A tree that can stand the storm is made stronger by it, sending its roots deeper and taking a stronger hold. Oh, that all who being in Christ, and subjected to this strange ("think it not strange") trial, may become "rooted and grounded in love," avoiding the "works of the flesh" – "flesh spots" – for a description of which see Gal. 5:19-21 – and bearing the "fruits of the Spirit" which are not a perfect theory, but, "Love, joy, peace, longsufferings, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance," and so ripen into the character of our Head, and be prepared for the "glory soon to be revealed."
SINCE the Turkish authorities removed ten years ago the restrictions which limited the Jewish population in Jerusalem, the Jews have bought up all the land they could in the ancient city and have built outside the walls in some cases entire streets of houses. Synagogues and Jewish hospitals have multiplied and the German Jews have no fewer than sixteen charity associations, and twenty-eight congregations religious houses. Two newspapers have been started. In the Rothschild and other hospitals, 6,000 patients are cared for annually. Baron Rothschild holds a mortgage on the whole of Palestine as security for his loan of 200,000,000 francs to the Turkish government. It is said that the value of the land at the gates of the city has increased more than ten-fold, while building and construction work of all kinds is carried on night and day. It is further reported that the immigrants, who to a large extent are from Russia, "are animated by a religious enthusiasm of a very pronounced type."
What qualification is represented by the garment? This is an important question, and one which is receiving much attention at present from all who have been interested in the "Harvest" message, and who believe that in the Spring of 1878, a point was reached in the history of the gospel church, parallel to that of the Jewish church at the death of Christ. Though the faith of some has been severely tried, and some have perhaps been led to doubt the correctness of the position referred to above, we believe no good reason can be shown why the space of time covered by the "Two Dispensations," – Jewish and Gospel, as represented by the Cherubim, did not end in the Spring of 1878. However much we differ from some of our brethren in regard to the present position or the light that was due; at the end of the Jewish double, we still believe that future events will vindicate that the movement based on such an application of the prophetic periods and parallels was and is of the Lord. Our faith in the movement is deeper than our faith in men. Men may stand or fall, papers may or may not be published, – may or may not be a success; men may give or withhold their money; still the cause of the Lord will not fail, the angels will do their work for the heirs of salvation, prophecy will be fulfilled, and "all things shall work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Moses was called of God to lead his people from Egypt, through the wilderness, but Moses fell within sight of the promised land. The man fell, but the movement went on. Canaan was reached and on that line of march according to the Lord's arrangement. The reason for Moses' fall is most striking, he took the honor to himself, instead of giving God the glory. "Hear now ye rebels; must WE fetch you water out of this rock? Num. 20:10. And the Lord said: "Because ye believed me not, to sanctify ME in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land." (Ver. 12.) May the Lord save all who in any sense are leaders in thought from self conceit, and a similar fall. "We have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us." 2 Cor. 4:7.
That translation was not due in the Spring of 1878 is certain, and yet too many were inclined to treat others as not "in the light" for not expecting it then. Being positive or dogmatic does not make anything true, even if it does make an impression. Shall we not learn wisdom by our mistakes? We felt sure once that the gathering of the wheat into the barn by the angels, was translation, but now we are convinced that Omnipotence alone, in His hands who is higher than the angels, can give immortality, and therefore the angels can only gather into a condition of readiness for the great change. Some are just as positive yet that going in to the marriage is translation, but we are inclined to consider being "in" to the marriage the same as being "in" the barn, and we believe that some – perhaps a very small number – represented by one without the wedding garment – will be cast out after being in. The "going forth" to meet the bridegroom, before the slumbering was not a movement from one place to another, but an act of faith, on account of prophetic light. The slumbering was a lack of the exercise of faith; and the "going out" to meet him under the midnight cry was also a movement of faith. If the going out to meet him was of faith, it seems consistent at least that the going in with him should also be of faith. We are quite sure that there is no reference whatever to translation in the parable of the ten virgins. That the expectation of translation is the proper attitude of those who are gathered in may be true, but it seems that even the angels are not infinite in knowledge. Some things "the angels desire to look into." 1 Pet. 1:12. And the Lord answered them indefinitely. (Dan. 12:7.) I am not sure that the angels are in all respects above mistake. They are sinless, but there is a great difference between purity and infallibility in knowledge. God and Christ can "discern the thoughts and intents of the heart;" but can the angels? We think not. And here seems a key: The angels gather in (let me suggest) those who have the light in theory, but the Lord causes to be put out into "outer darkness" (even what they have is taken from them) those who are not right in spirit. The "outer darkness" seems to be the condition of the world. And the sorrow expressed may be in consequence of the terrible things coming on the earth, from which those who are counted worthy escape, while the left, must pass through it, whatever their after condition may be. It seems that the subject of the wedding garment is that which is receiving special attention, and the inquiry as to what it is, is doubtless a legitimate one, and we have not the least doubt that the word of God is able to give us all needed light on the subject. We believe that this is not so much a doctrinal as a practical test, and also that a sifting out rather than a gathering in is accomplished by it.
We think it probable that this should receive special attention. Oh, that we may stand the test.
The spread of skepticism in Germany has had the effect of diminishing the number of aspirants to the Protestant clerical profession in that empire. In Upper Hesse, for instance, out of 196 places for Protestant clerical aspirants, 36 are vacant; in Rhenish Hesse, out of 88 places 12 are vacant, and in the province of Starkenberg, out of 112 places 12 are vacant. There are 33 out of 93 curacies vacant, and it is impossible to find candidates for them. In the University of Giessen there are at present only seven divinity students, so that the future looks no brighter than the present.
There is a similarity and yet a contrast between Adam and Christ. Both are first and therefore Head of a race, but the first man is the Head of an earthly race of beings, while the second man, Christ – "the Lord from Heaven" (ver. 47) is the Head of a heavenly race. Natural, and Spiritual, give the contrast between the two Heads; as of the Heads so of the descendants, – each Father imparting his own nature to his children: "As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly such are they also that are heavenly." (Ver. 48.) One important element of our hope is a change from the first family to the second, from the lower to the higher, from the natural to the spiritual: "And as we have borne the image of the earthy we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." (Ver. 49.) "Whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son," (Rom. 8:29) "Who is the image of the invisible God." Col. 1:15.
"We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed." 1 Cor. 15:51. "Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body." Phil. 3:21. "It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." 1 John 3:2.
Of the first, the following terms are characteristic: "corruption," "dishonor," "weakness," "natural body," "living soul," "earthy," and "flesh and blood," on account of all which the first Adam and his children "cannot inherit the kingdom of God." 1 Cor. 15:50.
Of the second Adam and his family, the opposite terms are characteristic: "incorruption," "glory," "power," "spiritual body," "spirit," "from heaven," and "heavenly," on account of all which they are the rightful heirs of the kingdom of God.
The change from the first to the second condition, or entrance into the higher life, is in the bible called a birth, as the entrance into the natural life is also called a birth. Hence the significance of the statements of Christ: "Ye must be born again," and "Except a man be born of water and the spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." John 3:3-7. The first Adam is termed flesh – (human nature), and as the stream cannot rise higher than its source, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh;" and as the stream can rise as high as the source, "That which is born of the spirit is spirit." (Ver. 6.) This entrance or birth into the spiritual life in the case of these who are in Hades – the state of the dead – is at the resurrection. Those however, who are prepared for it, who are "alive and remain," ("left over," Em. Diag.) shall have a corresponding change, for "we shall not all sleep but we shall all be changed." (Comp. 1 Thess. 4:13-18 and 1 Cor. 15:51-54.) A mere resurrection, or living again, is not the birth – as all who die will live again, "both the just and the unjust," while only those who have Christ formed in them, or are possessed of the spirit of Christ, have any promise of a share in the higher life of the Second Adam. Those who have the divine nature will have the divine form or image; (as nature makes form) but while it is true that a mere resurrection is not the birth, God has arranged for Christ and the dead in Christ that the change shall take place at and by the resurrection.
"So also is the resurrection of the dead." 1 Cor. 15:42. Notice! It reads "of the dead," and not "from the dead," though it is speaking of Christians, as the context shows, and yet that resurrection makes them immortal. Paul, or the Spirit by him, anticipates ancient and modern investigations: "But some will say, "How are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come?" (Ver. 35.) If, as some assume, "the dead" means the wicked, then Paul's answer teaches Universalism. We would not regret this if the Holy Spirit in Paul teaches it; but if as again assumed, when "the dead" are raised they are dead still, then the Holy Spirit in Paul contradicts Himself, which is an absurdity, and therefore one or both of the assumptions referred to must be untrue. The bringing to life again of any one, [R42 : page 6] good or bad, is called raising the dead, and the fact is called resurrection of the dead. "How are the dead raised up?" and "So is the resurrection of the dead" certainly refer to the saints, as Paul's answer to the above question shows: "Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die; and that which thou sowest thou sowest not that body which shall be." Ver. 36-37. (Then follow the illustrations of the grain, birds, fishes and stars, and then a direct answer to the question.) "So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption; [not raised corruptible and changed afterward,] it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body." This is as strong language as could be used in proof of the position we take, that the entrance of the sleeping saints upon the higher life is at and by the resurrection. We talk just as Paul does. Paul in his defense said he taught that there would be "a resurrection of the dead both of the just and the unjust." Acts 24:15. And again "Of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question." 23:6. Paul preached through Jesus the resurrection of the dead. "Why should it be thought incredible with you that God should raise the dead?" Acts 26:8. Paul witnessed that Christ should be "the first that should rise from the dead." Ver. 23. And this is the assurance unto all men: Chap. 17:31. "And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked." Ver. 32.
"From the dead" and "of the dead" are used almost interchangeably. He raises the dead [ones] from the dead [state]. When Lazarus was brought back to life he was raised "from the dead." Jno. 12:1. There is no reference here to immortality, but simply the fact that the dead Lazarus was restored to life.
The bible clearly teaches the resurrection of all from death, but whether the life gained is natural or spiritual, depends upon the relation of the individual to Christ. In the sacrificial "offering of the body of Jesus Christ" [Heb. 10:10] he was related to all, "tasted death for every man," Heb. 2:9, "gave himself a ransom for all," 1 Tim. 2:6, and therefore will deliver all from the death of which they were afraid while they lived. Heb. 2:15. But we should be careful not to confound Christ's sacrificial, and redemptive work, with his work as the second Adam, – a "quickening spirit." It is true that as Adam the first only gives natural life so the second Adam gives only spiritual life. Adam was a figure or type of Christ, but he was not the only type, but even if he were, Adam was lord of all creation as well as the first and lifegiver of the natural race. So Christ is more than Head of the spiritual race, he is "Lord of all," of Heaven and Earth, angels and men, dead and living.
Christ is the antitype of a multitude of types besides Adam, and many point to his sacrificial and redemptive work while Adam does not. He, the Lord Jesus Christ, must fulfill them all, and if this be remembered there can be no difficulty in harmonizing the fact that Christ will destroy the devil, and deliver the captives from the prison of death, with the fact that he as the Second Adam only gives spiritual life.
Christ, at his resurrection, entered on the higher life and work of the second Adam, as the life-giving spirit. He is the "First Born from the dead." Col. 1:18. When we enter the same condition, that is our new birth, but the basis for that change or entrance into the higher life must be laid in the present life, by the begetting of the spirit, – conversion.
There are seven spirits of God, but the "Spirit of God," which is the "Spirit of Christ" [the anointed ones] must dwell in us, in order that our mortal bodies may be quickened. Rom. 8:11. "There is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus; who walk not after the flesh [the old man] but after the spirit [the new man.] [Ver. 1.] "To be spiritually minded is life and peace." "They that are in the flesh can not please God." But ye are not in the flesh but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the spirit of Christ he is none of his."
Christ in us, the hope of glory, the body dead because of sin, and the spirit life because of righteousness [ver. 9-10] is certainly a high state of Christian life.
The divine nature possessed moves, controls and quickens the mortal body here, and the work begun will be carried on by the same power, until these vile bodies are changed to immortality. It seems as if no one who will carefully read the eighth of Romans would for a moment confound the indwelling spirit of Christ with the mere exercise of power in restoring natural life to be changed afterward; or ignore the fact that the subject of the apostle is the power, process, and final completion of the new creation, which is the work of Christ as the second Adam; and that in this passage there is not a hint of bringing back into mortality and changing afterward.
The two Adams are related to each other as natural and spiritual. The first was all natural, and imparts the same, the antitype is spiritual. First, the natural and afterward the spiritual shuts out the idea that the first had any element of the spiritual, or what could have developed into it. God's plan of giving the spiritual is by the second Adam. I do not say that Adam did not have a spirit: "There is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth him understanding." But it was a human spirit, – the spirit of a natural man. To say that it was an immortal spirit, or that it could have developed into immortality without the second Adam, is to say what the bible does not say, and is therefore pure assumption.
All that God gave Adam was lost under the curse: "Dying thou shalt die." This was not an instantaneous work, but a process as the words imply, and during that process he produced a race of men like himself – under the sentence of death.
In Rom. 5., Paul declares that the Atonement by Christ's death, is what secures man's recovery from that condemnation. "Reconciled to God by the death of his Son." And in Heb. 2, declares that he took the nature of man, for that very purpose. So Christ's work is assuredly double. By the sacrifice he redeems the natural, and as the second Adam, he gives what man never had before – spiritual and immortal life. Let me have an interest in the second Adam, by being partaker of his spirit, and "I shall behold thy face in righteousness, I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness." Ps. 17:15.
"IF we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged of the Lord, for when we are judged we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world."*
An appreciation of God's love to us "while we were yet sinners," must be an important cause – not only of turning men to God, but also of keeping our hearts in the way of righteousness. His love was first; – not created, nor purchased, but original, self-moved and inexhaustible. It can be known only by its fruits. Christ and his work in all its parts are the fruit of the Father's love. To know God, we must know Christ, for "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself." We may not know the philosophy of the incarnation, but we may know the fact. "Hidden things belong to the Lord, but things that are revealed belong to us, &c. An imperfect idea of the fruit of God's love must cause an imperfect idea of the love itself, and the effect produced on our hearts and lives must correspond. We feel drawn to defend the word of the Lord for the purpose of increasing our love to him, and so perfecting holiness in the fear (reverence) of the Lord.
One of the prominent features of God's plan by which his love is manifested is Christ's death. Perhaps no other feature has been opposed as much as the idea that the death of Christ should have anything to do with man's salvation; and much effort has been made by some to explain it away or so modify the teachings of the bible on this subject as to make it palatable to the natural mind. The bold and reckless spirit that declares by word or action that we will believe nothing unless it accords with our reason, may be characteristic of the age in which we live, but it does not savor of the meek and quiet spirit that trembles at the word of the Lord. We do not oppose the searching and comparing of the scriptures to ascertain what they teach. That is really the disciple's work. And it is right also to bring all theories to the test of God's word, – to "prove all things (by that standard) and hold fast that which is good." And in all this we shall find room for the exercise of the faculty of reason; but if in our searching we find a fact stated, the philosophy of which we can not see, it is hardly becoming in a Christian to ignore or belittle the fact. We may fail of seeing for two reasons, either because God has withheld his reason, or because we are still ignorant of some other revealed fact which in due time will make it plain. Better if need be to say "I do not understand," than to deny the facts.
No careful student of the bible can fail to be impressed with the stress that is laid on the death of Christ. That some may have overlooked other truths, and so laid too much stress on the death, we will not deny, but that is no excuse for our belittling the death, by overexalting other features. A morbid desire for something new and peculiar should be checked by a careful reading of the context, before using a verse or a small part of it in proof of a new theory. [R43 : page 7]
"When we were yet without strength in due time Christ died for the ungodly. Scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." Rom. 5:6-8. How can Christ's death show or commend God's love to us, unless that death meets a necessity in the sinner's case?
To do for us what we could or must do for ourselves would not be an expression of benevolence. To say that he died to meet our necessity would be a strange thing indeed, if it were only his life that could help us. But verse 10 shows us the value of both the death and the life, and should forever prevent us from confounding the two or ignoring either one. "Reconciled (atoned) to God by the death of his Son,...saved by his life." That there is an atonement by the death of Christ the above passage clearly teaches, and it is so translated in verse 11. And even if the salvation by his life is elsewhere called reconciliation, or if there should be discovered a dozen other reconciliations, still it remains true that we are "reconciled to God by the death of his Son," and it is an expression of God's great love for the world of sinners.
That this atonement by the death of Christ has no reference to the breaking down of the middle wall between the Jew and Gentile, is clear, because the apostle goes on to explain, and shows as plain as words could make it, that the atonement secures to mankind what was lost through Adam.
"Wherefore" in 12th verse relates back to the atonement of verse 11, and it is stated that as by one man all men were condemned to death, so by the atonement all men are justified to life. To overlook this is to ignore the "Wherefore" and "Therefore" of the apostle, verse 12-18.
We do not overlook the fact or value of Christ's obedience any more than we overlook Adam's sin. Sin brought death and righteousness brings life. But that the death of Christ, the righteous one, was a necessity is the idea for which we here plead. Now if any one can read carefully the whole passage and not see that Christ's death secures to man the recovery from death, it will prove that the human mind is greatly biased, by its own determinations.
Atonement is the basis of Resurrection. The apostle has shown us that Christ's death is the atoning act. We shall therefore expect to find the death of Christ associated with man's recovery from death.
We are not forgetting the resurrection of Christ, nor overlooking its value as the entrance of the Head into endless life, and therefore as the key of immortality for mankind; but we are seeking to give his death its place as the price of redemption or recovery. Certainly man's recovery from death is one thing, and the gift of immortality is another, and they should be so considered though they are intimately related to each other. The former is the basis of the latter, and the latter is the object for which the former is accomplished. Hence it is said, "Reconciled by his death, saved by his life."
"He died for our sins." It is not said that he rose for our sins. He is the Lamb that taketh away the sin of the World. The world's sin is Adam's sin. "In whom all have sinned." (Rom. 5:12 marg.) "He bore our sins on his own body on the tree." "He became a curse for us." "Wounded for our transgressions." "By his stripes we are healed." "Christ sent me not to baptize but to preach the gospel – not with wisdom of words lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect." 1 Cor. 1:17. If Christ's death in itself does nothing, then it is of no effect. The cross must refer to the death and not to the after life.
"The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but to us that are saved it is the power of God." (Ver. 18.)
"The Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified." (Ver. 22-23.)
"I determined to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." Ch. 2:2. From what he said in the first chapter, we know Paul made a specialty of the death in his preaching. The cross is the basis of all the glory. He laid down his life for the sheep. "No man taketh it from me. I lay it down of myself." To Pilate he said, "ye could have no power at all were it not given you from above."
After the hour for the Passover (he being the Antitype, and it must be fulfilled on time) he no longer sought to protect himself, nor allowed others to protect him, but gave himself into their hands. His hour had come; then and not till then "they killed the Prince of life." "He gave his life a Ransom for many," – "A Ransom [R43 : page 8] for all, to be testified in due time." Hence, being redeemed, – "bought with a price," we are not our own.
The most desperate shift to avoid the force of all the scriptures which speak of Christ's shedding his blood as a ransom, is that which says the life he gave to redeem us was his preexistent life, – that he died twice, once when the word was made flesh, and then his death on the cross. It hardly seems possible that any could believe that the incarnation was by death. It is, to say the least, a hypothesis without any scriptural support, and a little scripture is worth more than a good deal of reasoning. We might as well call translation death, but "Enoch was translated that he should not see death."
But Paul shows us that instead of taking the body being the sacrifice, the body was prepared to be a sacrifice. (Heb. 10:5-12.)
The preexistent Word is not presented in the character of a Lamb. The offerings under the law foreshadowed not the coming in the flesh, but the death of the flesh, "the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all." (Ver. 10.) The same thought as: "Who gave himself a ransom for all." "He died for our sins according to the scriptures, (the types and shadows) and rose again the third day" (from the time he died, and not thirty-three years after he died).
That Christ died in the same sense in which men die, and in which men are counted dead before they die, must be true or there would be no relation between his death and theirs. Here again the love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge that if one died for all then were all dead (not all actually dead, but counted dead, "death (sentence) passed on all." His death was of the same kind, met the claim as a Ransom, so that all are his, and counted alive, for the object as stated, "that he died for all that they who live, should no longer live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them and rose again."
The idea is here suggested that he gained the right to control all for whom he died. This work of redeeming by death, is not to be confounded with the work of the second Adam, which is to impart spiritual life. Christ did not become the second Adam until he was made a "quickening spirit." That our Lord Jesus is the antitype of Adam as Head of a new race is true, but he is more than that. Adam, besides being head of a race, was lord of all creation. So too Jesus died and rose again that he might be Lord both of the dead and the living. (Rom. 14:9.) So too, the uttermost parts of the earth are to be his possession. Ps. 2.
Lord does not mean Head in the sense of Father alone, but refers to the fact of his having power to control. "All power is given unto me both in Heaven and Earth." Angels and men, the dead and living alike, are his to command.
That this is not a baseless assumption is shown in Heb. 2. There we learn that the very purpose for which Christ took our nature was, that "by the grace of God he might taste death for every man." "That through death he might destroy him that had the power of death – i.e. the Devil, and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." He binds the strong man, the prison keeper, and delivers the captives. He delivers them from the death of which they were afraid during their lifetime. They never had a spiritual lifetime, and never dreaded spiritual death. Christ took the natural that he might redeem the natural, and possesses the spiritual that he may impart the spiritual, is the evident teaching of the Bible. The same thought of his having power over the dead is brought to view in Rev. 1:18. "I am he that liveth and was dead; and behold I am alive forevermore; Amen; and have the keys of Hades and of death."
The undeveloped, preexistent Word was with God in the old creation, and without him was not anything made that was made. The Word made flesh, was, in the body prepared, the sacrifice, the ransom for all, and the Word glorified, with his army will go forth conquering. Rev. 19. God in man is man's hope. "God in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them."
That the terms death and life are used figuratively sometimes we freely admit, and the context will determine it, but when speaking of the penalty of sin and resurrection from it, the death of Christ must serve as the key. Thus as well as otherwise we can glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Brethren let us beware of anything that belittles, or sets aside the death of Christ, as the offering and propitiation for sin, not ours only but also for the sins of he whole world. The simplicity, nature, object and extent of this ransom will be testified – made known in due time.
QUES. Do you think all willful rejecters who do not now, accept of Jesus as their savior, though having the opportunity of hearing the gospel preached, will have a chance to gain eternal life in the "ages to come?"
ANS. Our humanity has become so depraved that many cannot hear the gospel, or see its beauty. Their eyes are blinded by sin and their ears are dull of hearing – "He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear."
Then too, even those who can hear and see some little, hear such confused sounds, all called Gospel – good news (some of it terribly bad news) that we cannot wonder if they stray. Unless they follow the Shepherd closely, they are sure to lose their way. The only ones who have no hope in the future are such as have come to "a knowledge of the truth" (not error) and have "tasted of the good word of God (not a bad word said to be God's word) and been made partakers of the Holy Ghost." – Heb. 6:4 and 10:26. With but few professing christians is the case such, and only such commit the unpardonable sin. They become open apostates, (are not merely "overtaken in a fault.") Such do despite to the "Spirit of Grace," and by their act or word "count the blood of the covenant wherewith they were sanctified an unholy thing." For such there is no hope. This sin "shall never be forgiven, neither in this world, (age) neither in the world (age) to come." Matt. 12:32. "I do not say that ye should pray for it." 1 Jno. 5:16. "Christ died for our sins" once "but he dieth no more." Those who do not accept when once they have a full opportunity, die the second death from which we are told of no recovery – no ransom.
A. We think that few have a full chance now. If they have and reject, they crucify the Son of God afresh &c., and are without hope. The chance of the present time – Gospel dispensation – is to become a part of the Bride company, "joint heirs with Jesus" and members of the God family. The chance or opportunity for this high calling closes when the Bride is complete. (Probably very soon.) In the future men will have a chance to become perfect men, in harmony with God – reconciled – but still MEN; perfect natural bodies but not spiritual beings. Can this then be called a second chance, since the offers are entirely different?
A. There are many who argue that the word devil, is always used as a synonym of evil and is merely the personifying of a principle. The many scriptures which speak of him as a person, they explain away to their own satisfaction. Their principle objection to believing in a personal devil, is that they think it a slur on God's character to suppose that he permitted such a being to interrupt his plans and bring sin among his creatures. This reason for wishing to figure away a personal devil vanishes if our views of "Why evil was permitted" (Aug. No.) be received as correct. God is justified in permitting evil or devil, if He so arranges that it finally results in the creature's good.
That the word devil is sometimes, used to personify evil principles and evil governments, none can gainsay. (The Roman Empire is called the dragon and the devil. Rev. 12:3,9 and 13:2, also 20:2.) But the same argument which would permit the word devil to be always interpreted as a principle, and not a person, could be used with equal force to prove that there is no personal God, and that when the word God is used the principle of good is personified. I do not believe him to be immortal however. God never gave any being a life which He (God) could not take away when the end of its being and usefulness has been attained. God only has that life which never had a beginning and can never end. 1 Tim. 6:16. Ultimately God will have a clean universe. No more death and consequently no more sin to require that penalty. "For this purpose Christ was manifest, that He might destroy death and Him that has the power of death, that is the Devil." Heb. 2:14.
Q. Do you think that 2 Pet. 2:1 refers to some teachers of our day who deny that Jesus bought our right to life by taking our place in death, as our substitute? It reads: "There shall be false teachers among you who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them." Is there anything in the Greek which would properly transpose this so as to make it read – denying that the Lord bought them. If there is, it seems to me that this text would apply very aptly to some teachers of our day.
A. I find that the words "that bought" in this text are from the Greek word – agorazo, which word is properly translated "having bought." This is the word for word translation of this in the "Emphatic Diaglott." So corrected the text would read – "Even denying the Lord having bought them." There is certainly similarity enough to justify the question. "Many shall follow their pernicious ways by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of."
Q. (Continued.) If it will bear this rendering, do you think – denying that the Lord bought them – would be a parallel to or the equivalent of "counting the blood of the covenant wherewith they were sanctified an unholy (or invaluable) thing," (Heb. 10:29), which Paul describes as a part of the unpardonable sin?
A. Far be it from us to judge of the hearts of our fellows: God only knoweth the heart. We each should judge our own hearts, however, and very carefully. Do I deny the purchase value of the blood of Christ, as my ransom and the ransom of the world from death? Am I still under "the blood of sprinkling, which speaketh better things than the blood of Abel." [It speaks pardon and life.]
I once counted myself as justified from all things by the blood of Christ (the covenant) as sealed, marked, sprinkled by that blood. Shall I give up the sealing of the blood and the justifying by the blood and take instead somebody's theory? Will the first-born be passed over unless the blood of Christ, our passover, is sprinkled on the lintels and door posts of our hearts? Is the blood an unvaluable thing? No. Jesus took upon him the likeness of sinful flesh, and the weaknesses of sinful flesh; therefore, "The flesh profited nothing." All the power expressed through his fleshly body was power of "The Father," as he claims. But his life was unsullied, He knew no sin, and death had no dominion over him. Therefore, Jesus had something to offer viz: a pure, unspotted life. He gave it for the flesh life of the world which was forfeited. His leaving the heavenly courts was not the sacrifice which put away sin, but as Paul says: (Heb. 9:26.) "He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." Since He appeared to make the sacrifice, the sacrifice for sin must be made after he had appeared and was not the act of appearing.
Yes friends, count as a very valuable and holy thing, the blood (life) of the covenant, wherewith ye were sanctified. As to the sin which hath never forgiveness, let each of us be careful that we do not commit it. I have long believed that only the little company, far advanced in truth could commit it.
An apparent approach to such a position would come in the denying that "He bore our sins in his own body on the tree." After having once proclaimed to the world that it was all powerful and justified, to turn about and say – No, he bore nobody's sins there, would, before the world be denying the crucified one, and saying "He saved others, himself, he cannot save." He was obliged to die on his own account.