PUBLISHED MONTHLY. 101 Fifth Ave., PITTSBURGH, PA.
|J. H. PATON||ALMONT, MICH.|
|W. I. MANN||SWISSVALE, PA.|
|B. W. KEITH||DANSVILLE, N.Y.|
|A. D. JONES||PITTSBURGH, PA.|
|L. ALLEN||HONEOYE, N.Y.|
Questioner. – It is some time since we have had a talk together Brother W., and I have called now to make a few inquiries. I want you to give me in a few words, your reasons for believing that Jesus is now present.
Watchman. – I am glad to talk with you upon so interesting a subject, and shall try to answer your queries. You are aware, I presume, that I and all the writers for the WATCH TOWER believe that Jesus has come the second time, and is now present in the world, and for this reason our paper is also called the "Herald of Christ's Presence." If I understand your question, you want me to refresh your memory briefly on the reasons for so believing.
Q. – Exactly. Of course all christians believe that Jesus has been spiritually present with his church during all the Gospel Age, as He said: "Lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world" [age]. In what sense is he now present, as He has not always been, and what are the proofs?
W. – Let us for a moment then drop the idea of time and of His now being present, and see how He will be in His day, whether that day be now or a thousand years hence. First, come back 2,000 years to the time when Jesus "being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God" (when he was in glory.) See Him lay aside the glory which he had with the Father before the world was, and being rich for our sakes become poor. See Him take upon Him the form of a servant for the suffering of death." Notice now the difference between bodily form of God and the form of servants; They are totally different and He must leave the one to take the other.
Secondly, notice why He took the form of a servant. We read – for the suffering of death. God is a spirit, has a spiritual body, and could not die under any circumstances, for a spiritual body is an immortal, [undying] body, (1 Cor. 15). Man being a sinner, condemned to death and unable to release himself, Jesus became his ransom, giving His life a ransom for ours. We were redeemed from death, or justified to life, "by the precious blood [death] of Christ." We see then that Jesus laid aside the form of God and took the form of man, so that He might pay our penalty for us – die for us.
Thirdly, notice that when he had died "even the death of the cross" the purpose or object in taking our form was accomplished, and there is no reason why He should have the form of a servant since He died. And we claim that He is not now a man glorified, that He has not been a man since "the man Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom for all." I claim that these two natures – divine and human – are separate and distinct, that as He left the divine to take the human, so also He left the human when He resumed the divine.
Jesus was put to death in the flesh but quickened [made alive] by the spirit. Let us look at this expression, "made alive by the spirit." To what kind of life? Was it the life of the flesh that was quickened? No, it was spiritual life. Listen; Jesus tells Nicodemus "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, (Jesus as a man was born of a woman and was flesh, thus taking human nature,) and that which is born of the spirit is spirit." Jesus at His resurrection was "born of the spirit," therefore was not flesh but spirit. He is called "the first-born from the dead," and was "quickened by the spirit."
So it will be with us; we shall be satisfied when we awake in His likeness. Not in the likeness of men which He took for a purpose. We have that likeness now, but when "we see Him as He is we shall be like Him" and be satisfied – be like unto Christ's glorious body.
Q. – I see then that you understand the text, "Put to death in the flesh, quickened by the spirit" as being of the same import as the one which speaking of the death and resurrection of the Saints, says: "It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body;" and "as we now bear the image of the earthly, we shall then bear the image of the heavenly."
W. – Yes, very true, but let us not lose our subject. It is Jesus and His new condition after His resurrection, not what we shall be, although the inferential reasoning that our vile and earthly bodies must undergo so great a change, to be like His heavenly, or glorious body before we can see Him as he is, is the very best kind of proof that He is not and has not been, since His resurrection, like us, that is, in the form of a servant.
W. – If Jesus had appeared to them and shown his glory, they would probably have been so alarmed as to be unable to receive instructions; besides if they had gone forth saying the Lord arose and appeared to us in glory, they would have been accused of telling ghost stories. Remember that the object of Jesus appearing to them was to convince them that "He who was dead is alive forevermore;" that they might go forth as "witnesses." Being a spiritual body it was simply a question of expediency – which way could he best appear to them, i.e., in which way would his object in appearing be best accomplished? He could appear as a "flame of fire," as the angel of the Lord (also a spiritual body) had appeared to Moses "in the burning bush." Thus Jesus might have appeared to, and talked with the disciples, or he might have appeared in glory as the angel did to Daniel, or as he afterward did to John and to Saul of Tarsus.
If he had so appeared, they would doubtless also have had "great fear and quaking" and would have fallen to the ground before Him and "become as dead men;" or he could do, as angels had done and as he had done with Abraham (Gen. 18) when he appeared as a man. This last he saw to be the best way and he did appear as a man. But notice he did not appear to them as he had done before His death. First he appeared to Mary as the gardener and she "saw Jesus standing and knew not that it was Jesus." "After that he appeared in another form unto two of them" as they went to Emmaus (Luke 24:13). They knew not that it was Jesus, until he revealed Himself in breaking of bread. Then he vanished from their sight.
Again, some had given up all hope of being any longer fishers of men and had gone again to their nets. They had toiled all night and caught nothing. In the morning Jesus is on the shore within speaking distance but they "knew not that it was Jesus." It was another form. He works a miracle giving them a boat full of fish in a moment; John, the loving disciple, remembers the feeding of the 3,000 and 5,000, the strange days in which they were living, and that Jesus had appeared to them already. He seems at once to discern who gave the draught of fishes; and said: "It is the Lord." He recognized him not by the natural eye but by the eye of faith, and when they were come to shore "none of them dare ask him who art thou, knowing (feeling sure from the miracle for they saw not the print of the nails) that it was the Lord" (John 21). Thus did Jesus appear to his disciples at different times, to make of them witnesses of His resurrection, seemingly he was present but unseen during most of those forty days appearing in all, perhaps, not more than seven times. (John 20:26, 21:14.)
W. – I presume it was to guard against their idea that he was a fleshly body, by appearing in various forms and in miraculous ways, coming into their midst, the doors being shut, and vanishing from their sight. He not only showed that He had undergone a change since death, but He illustrated his own teaching to Nicodemus, that every one born of the spirit (that born of the spirit is spirit) can go and come like the wind. "Thou canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth, so is everyone that is born of the spirit." So did Jesus go and come. "But some doubted" – some wanted to thrust their hand into his side and put their fingers into the print of the nails; and Jesus thus appears, whether it was the same body that had been crucified, or one like it, I know not nor does it make any difference, in any case it was not his body, for he had been "quickened of the spirit" – a spiritual body – "sown a natural body raised a spiritual body," and none of the various forms or bodies in which he appeared were His body. They were only veils of the flesh which hid or covered the glorious spiritual body, just as angels had often used the same human form to veil themselves when appearing to mortals.
Q. – One point which seems to confuse some is, that Jesus ate and drank with the disciples and said, "Handle me, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have." How do you explain this? [R123 : page 1]
W. – It does not need to be explained away. Jesus affirms just what we have claimed, viz: That the body they saw and handled and which ate with them was not his [R123 : page 2] spiritual body for the spirit hath not flesh and bones. Look back to the time when the Lord and two angels appeared to Abraham. (Gen. 18.) Jesus had not then left "the form of God" and taken the form of a servant. He was a spiritual body then, and it had not flesh and bones but he then used the human form as a veil. He ate and drank and talked and could have said to Abraham, "Handle me, this body which you see is 'flesh and bones.'"
Q. – Now with regard to Jesus' second coming, does not this text (Acts 1:11) teach that when he comes he will be seen by his watching disciples? Will he not appear in the flesh to prove that he has come?
W. – No, I think not. There is not a word about the disciple or any one else seeing him. It merely tells us that he will come as he went. How did he go? With trumpet blasts and shouts or wails of the people of earth? No, but quietly and unseen of the world. As he said before he died, "Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more." And the world did not see him after his resurrection. During the forty days he was seldom seen, showing himself only to his disciples. Did he go mid pealing thunder, flashing lightnings and rending rocks? No, quietly, unknown of the world, he "ascended up where he was before." Whenever he comes he will come in the same quiet manner, unknown of the world. We know from other scriptures that his church will not be in darkness.
W. – There is no question as to his ability to appear now as then; but before calling your attention to scriptures which seem to teach that he will be present unseen, let me remind you that while it was necessary that he should then appear to make his disciples eye-witnesses of his resurrection, no such necessity now exists. He comes now not to call out a people to believe on Him, but to glorify a people already separated by his call then issued; to glorify his virgin church and make her His bride; "to make up His jewels."
Thomas, who doubted and must see the print of the nails before he could believe, lived not in the Gospel Age but in the Jewish, not among spiritual children of God, but in the fleshly house (until Pentecost). He was used to seeing things after the flesh, and had not his eye of faith yet opened. Yet in Jesus' words to Thomas it would seem that he had expected even more from him. Jesus said to him: "Because thou hast seen me thou hast believed; happy those who see not and believe." (John 21:29. Diaglott).
Would we consider it expedient for an earthly teacher after training his class up, up, up to the higher branches of learning to complete their studies by giving them a three months course in the alphabet. But this would be no more unreasonable than to suppose that our education in the school of faith, and growth in grace and knowledge under our Master's instructions, should be finished by illustrations in the flesh; "Having begun in the Spirit are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" (Gal. 3:3.) "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing."
Q. – It does not seem as though much benefit would result to us by merely gratifying our desire to see him, and I remember he said before going: "It is expedient for you that I go away." "Unless I go away the comforter cannot come." Would this involve the thought that when he comes again the comforter will be withdrawn?
W. – No, the reason the comfort of the Holy Spirit could not come was, that all were sinners and God could not recognize and comfort sinners. They must first be justified by Jesus' death. Afterward being justified by his death, we have peace with God. We become His children, and to such, He sends the spirit of adoption whereby we cry "Abba, (our) Father." Before this spirit could be sent to any, Jesus must not only die, but He must also ascend to the Father's presence and present the evidence of our purchase as typified by the High Priest's going into the holy place and sprinkling the blood. The coming out of the holy place (heaven) by our high priest does not undo the work of justification. We are still justified, and shall be forever; still sons and shall always be such, and consequently always possess the spirit as a comforter. It is the spirit of Christ. "Let the Spirit of Christ dwell in you richly."
Q. – If I understand you aright your view is, that though it was expedient that Jesus go from the world and present the proof of our ransom before the Holy Spirit, could come to us, yet the continuance of the Spirit's comforting presence is not dependent on his absence, for once given, it will never be withdrawn from those who abide in Him.
W. – Yes, but let us not leave our subject: We seem to agree then that so far as we can see, there would be nothing to be gained by Jesus' appearing in the flesh to us at his second coming. But another point, if he should so appear, what satisfaction would or could it give any of us. It would not be Him we would see, for He is not flesh and if Jesus should so appear to me I should pray as did Moses, – Lord that I might see thy Glory – that I might see thee really, not an appearance, but thyself, thy glorious body, as Saul and John saw thee, as thou art. Oh no, I never could be satisfied with seeing an appearance of Jesus; I want to see Him as he is. "I shall be satisfied when I awake in thy likeness," not by His appearing in our likeness.
Remember too that he tells us about the time of his presence, before we "are made like Him." He says the world will not know of it but will go on eating, planting, building, marrying, etc., and "know not" of his (parousia) presence. Matt. 24:37-39. Luke 17:26.
Not only does Jesus intimate that his coming and presence will be unknown to the world, but that many of His servants will be so asleep, and overcharged with the things of this world, that the day of the Lord (His presence) will be upon them as a snare, and some will "begin to smite their fellow servants, saying: My Lord (the Bridegroom) delayeth His coming" while the ones smitten evidently are taking the opposite ground, viz: that the bridegroom does not delay, but is present. "Blessed is that servant whom his Lord when he (ako) has come shall find, giving meat in due season to the household of faith. (The meat due when the Lord has come, would unquestionably be, the evidences or proofs of His presence.) Evidently the presence is one not recognized by the natural eye, but by the eye of faith, else there could be no disagreement between the servants as to the fact of His presence. (Matt. 24:44-49.)
Jesus tells us to beware, that false teachers will arise saying, "Lo, here or lo, there, believe them not, I will not come in any such seen manner, but as the "lightning" which cannot be seen (electricity, unseen, can go six to ten times around the earth in one second,) so shall the Son of Man be in His day." (Luke 17:24.) As the lightning when present frequently sends forth light which may be seen by those awake, so Jesus intimates that in His days of presence light will shine.
Q. – That seems a beautiful thought taken in connection with the wonderful amount of spiritual light and truth which has shone on us and to us during the very years you claim as being the days of the presence of the Son of Man – since 1875.
W. – Now we will glance hurriedly at some of the evidences that we are now in "the days of the Son of Man." I will not attempt to prove the points of time. You can get them in full detail in Bro. Paton's new book, "Day Dawn," which you should by all means read.
Q. – I have followed you so far, and can agree with your position fully, but when you come to prove that Jesus is now present and ask me to believe it without any sight evidence, I am afraid I have not strong enough faith to believe it.
W. – I have not asked you to believe it, Bro. Q. I never ask any one to believe, I simply give the evidence; If it is as strong to them as to me they cannot help believing it. Now, you seem to think that if we had a little sight it would help matters. Let me remind you of a word from Peter. He was writing of things he had seen when on the mount of transfiguration; but when he has finished the narrative of the things seen, he adds: "But we have a more sure word of Prophecy whereunto ye do well that ye take heed." (2 Pet. 1:19.) And so I think now, the prophecies are more convincing to me than if Jesus were to appear as a man before me. Nay, more, I should say to such an one Begone, impostor; My Lord left word that if any so appear I was to "believe it not," and "go not after them nor follow them," "for as the lightning (not as a man – so shall the Son of Man be in His day."
The "Jubilee Cycles" prove that the great jubilee or "times of restitution of all things" was due to begin in 1875. It is a clear, strong argument based upon both "the Law" and the Prophets; No one has ever yet been able to overthrow it. I believe that no one can overthrow it, nor even show a weak point in it, because it is of the Lord. Now, remembering this, turn to Acts 3:21, and hear Peter under inspiration, say: The heavens shall receive Jesus until the times of restitution of all things. Now, is it not clear that if the restitution times began in 1875, the heavens do no longer retain Him. He is here present?
W. – Yes; we understand that before the human family are restored or even begin to be blessed the present kingdoms of earth which now bind and oppress mankind will all be overturned and that the kingdom of God will assume control and that the blessing and restitution come through the new kingdom. The work of demolishing human empire is beginning. The power that will overthrow them is now at work. The people are already organizing their forces under the name of Communists, Socialists, Nihilists, etc. True, there have always been Communists, but their work of organization and activity are within recent years, in 1875-6, scarcely any one knew the meaning of communist and nihilist. Now they are household words.
Another prophetic proof is that of the 1335 days (yrs.) of Daniel to the time Jesus was due to be present – "the harvest," or end of this age – during which harvest time, Daniel was told that he should stand in his lot, or be resurrected with his class, the Prophets. The angel adds by way of comment: "Blessed is he that waiteth (remains alive) until (the 1335 days) 1874. Those days surely end there, but what blessing did any of us who live realize? We are blessed by the "Bright shining of the present one." (The literal rendering of last clause of 2 Thes. 2:8.) Jesus as the lightning is present, unseen, and is causing bright light of truth to shine into our minds. Wonderfully bright, and sweet, and precious, indeed, has been this light, on the presence of the Son of Man, separating between wheat and tares and preparing his chaste Virgin for glory. He is making up His jewels, finishing the work by selecting those who are alive and remain, that we may be caught up, together with those who sleep in him, to meet him in the air.
As Jesus said to His disciples at the first advent, "Blessed are your eyes and your ears, etc., for I say unto you many prophets and righteous persons have desired to see these things and have not seen them" – So the angel said to Daniel – Blessed are they who will live to 1874, for they shall see, (not with natural eye, but by faith) and hear (not with natural ear but through the sure word of Prophecy) and know (but not by worldly wisdom to which these things are hid, but by the Spirit of God freely given unto us "that we might know" – (1 Cor. 2:11 and 12,) see, hear and know things which in times past God had not made known. Yes, truly blessed, we have found it –
"To be living is sublime."
Again we have found the word to teach that the Jewish age was given as a pattern, or shadow, or illustration of the Gospel age, and we have found it so. The latter being on a higher plane than the former, but otherwise its exact counterpart. It was 1840½ years from the beginning of the age to their harvest when Jesus was present in the flesh to that fleshly house. And it was 1841½ years from the commencement of our Gospel age at Pentecost (A.D. 33,) to the commencement of our "harvest" in the autumn of 1874, when our "sure word of prophecy" announces him as again present, but now on the higher plane, a spiritual body unseen, reaping, or harvesting the spiritual house. To the fleshly house the harvest work was on the fleshly plane and the chief reaper, Jesus and the other reapers, His disciples, were seen. Now there are under reapers, also, but they are "the angels," [Matt. 13] also spiritual bodies unseen, and so with the afterpart * [R124 : page 7] of the harvest. As Jesus gave up the Nominal church at the close of his 3½ years ministry because they "knew not the time of their visitation, so here too, at the parallel point of time, 1878, we believe the Nominal church to have been given up, and the "spewing out of His mouth" [Rev. 3] to have begun. As the Jewish house was shown some special favor for 3½ years, the latter half of their covenant week so we expect some favor to continue with the Nominal Gospel church for 3½ years, or until the autumn of 1881. As with the Jew, a period of 33 years of trouble followed these 7 years of favor, so we understand there will be upon christendom, so called, a period of 33 years of trouble – making with the preceding 7 years the 40 years of trouble or "Day of wrath" ending with the times of the Gentiles in 1914, when the kingdom of God [soon to be set up or exalted to power] will have broken in pieces and consumed all earthly kingdoms.
Q. – Wonderfully clear all this seems and how connected; my loss has been in not having a thorough knowledge of these time evidences of which you speak. I must study them up and make them my own that, as Paul says my faith may not stand in the wisdom of men but in the power of God – His word. (1 Cor. 2:5.)
W. – I am glad to hear you say so. In no other way can you fully make them yours, or have in them such a basis for faith. Remember as Peter says the word is to be a "lamp to our feet," "a light shining in a dark place until the day dawn and the day-star arise in your hearts." It is evident then that no period of walking by sight comes to us here. We shall need the lamp all the way for "we walk by faith, not by sight."
Q. – It speaks elsewhere of the "Sun of Righteousness arising with healing in his wings." When sunrise has come we do not need lamps. Does not this seem to indicate that we shall reach a condition whether by sight or not, where there will be no need of the light of "the lamp?" Does not this involve the thought of faith giving place to sight?
W. – I think not. It is not we but the Jews who see the "Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings;" and they are told in connection with it to "remember the Law of Moses." (Malachi 4.) On the contrary, we, with Jesus our head will constitute that "Sun of Righteousness," as Jesus said (Matt. 13:43) speaking of the "harvest" or end of this age, when the wheat of the church should be completely separated from the tares of the same: "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the Sun in the kingdom of their Father."
It is the same thought that is expressed in Rev. 21:24 of the New Jerusalem shining and the Nations walking in the light of it. Yes it is a grand thought, that the day so long expected is near at hand. Not only natural Israel but as Paul says: "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth together in pain until now," and "waiteth for the manifestation of the Sons of God." (Rom. 8:19 and 22.) All are now passing through a dark night of experience with sin, woe and death; all creation is sick; they groan in pain and soon they shall be delivered. Soon the "Great Physician" – "the Elijah" – "The Sun of righteousness (the Christ, head and body) shall arise with healing in his wings."
Yes, Bro. Q., "when He shall appear we shall appear with Him in glory." We will not be here when the "Sun" rises. True we are now in the dawn, but there is quite a while between first dawn of day and the Sun rise, and that is what Peter means. "We have a more sure word of prophecy – as a light in a dark place until the day dawn and the day star arise in your hearts." Jesus is the day star – "The bright and morning star." He must come first to us before we shine with Him as "the sun." And, dear Bro. Q., do you not see that this very thing is now being fulfilled? To all who recognize Jesus as present it is a fountain of joy to realize in Him the sure forerunner of our own glory with Him, and the great millennial day of restitution for the world.
W. – We could not aspire to such things. God has crowded these exceeding great and precious promises upon us; and while I urge that if interested in this great hope, you should make it yours, by personal investigation of the proofs, and recommend to you the "Day Dawn," yet let me suggest that the very object of our heavenly Father in giving us these exceeding great and precious promises, is "that by these ye might be partakers of the Divine nature." (2 Peter 1:4.) If we have put on Christ, let us walk in Him, and walk not after our own will, but according to the will of our head, Christ Jesus.
In the October number (1879) of the WATCH TOWER in the article headed "The Day of the Lord" – and in the November number in article headed "Babylon is Fallen," we gave expression to our view of the "time of trouble" and endeavored to prove scripturally that it began with the church and would first result in the complete overthrow of the nominal church, Protestant and Catholic, by infidelity and spiritualism, and afterward, it would reach and overthrow national governments. Many were inclined to make light of our statements, etc., and expressed themselves as believing that the trouble upon the nations was the only thing to be looked for by us. Our views then expressed are confirmed in us daily, and we are more than ever convinced of their truth; that around us in the nominal church, "a thousand shall fall at (our) side and ten thousand at (our) right hand;" that Infidelity's "arrows" and spiritualism's "pestilence," will for a short time sweep through the church – "and who shall be able to stand?" – "They who have made the most High their habitation and who have His truth for their shield and buckler." Psa. 91.
An anonymous writer in the North American Review affirms that the thinking minds of to-day are "drifting away from the religious belief and dogmatic theology of the past," and that "the wave of skepticism affects the orthodox church itself." He says: "The great body of orthodox religious doctrines known as systematic theology... is about to go to wreck with the mythology of Greece and the belief in witchcraft." He also marks "the temporizing attitude of theology towards such modern doctrines as evolution."
Says Rev. Dr. Kittredge (Congregationalist) of Chicago: "It matters not in what direction you look, sin is on the increase, but the church is losing ground in her conflict with sin; she has almost ceased to be felt as a power. If a majority of our church organizations were to-day to become extinct, the world would hardly know it.– World's Crisis.
Professor Von Oosterzee, the well-known evangelical teacher of Holland, said recently that a wave of infidelity is steadily advancing over Protestant Europe which the most favored country will not escape. "They have had it in Germany, and now we have it in Holland. They are beginning to get it in Scotland. In twenty years they will have it to the full, and all their theology will not save them."– Messiah's Herald.
The Christian Advocate (New York) writes: "The Congregationalist has received answers from twenty-nine ministers, to a circular sent out making inquiry as to the observance of Sabbath in New England. All testify to degeneracy and deplore results. Desecration has increased, and morality also decreases. Religion is losing its authority and the state of the community is becoming worse."
The N.Y. Herald quotes the veteran editor of the Observer as saying: "A great spiritual drought is prevailing, such as has not been known in the present century. We do not remember the time," says Dr. Prime, "when revivals of religion were so few and far between; when so few accessions to the churches were reported, and when the church seemed so much in danger of receding before the world." "A somber but true picture," says the Herald.
Rev. Dr. Cuyler in the Evangelist, in a mournful article, asserts that Presbyterianism is on the decline; in 1875 there were 70,500 members added to the churches; in 1877 there were 63,700 added; but in 1878 there were only 53,000 additions, while in 1879 only 49,000 were added – the real increase being only 7,000 and perhaps not even that. What is true of the Presbyterian, is true, he says, of all the other evangelical bodies.– Montreal Witness.
Rev. Dr. B. F. Campbell, of East Boston, in a lecture on "The Dangers of the Republic," said: "The world as a whole is undoubtedly growing more intelligent, but not moral. Moral power is on the decline in New England. The pendulum of religious belief has swung away from the rigid orthodoxy of Puritan times, has already passed the center, and is on its way to a heartless Nihilism."– East Boston Advocate.
Rev. Henry Morgan says: "The cause of Boston's religious decline is Liberalism. It has broken down the Sabbath; paralyzed the arm of the law; opened Sunday theaters, concerts, excursions; emptied the churches; killed the public conscience; sown the seeds of distrust; sown to the wind, and we are now reaping the whirlwind."– Boston Herald.
The Church Union quotes a circular issued by most of the ministers of Baltimore, which urges all to prayer, and speaks of the forces of evil, general corruption, Sabbath-breaking, the thickening snares for the young, and adds: "The growing skepticism, as well as the intensely secular spirit of the age, are enough to awaken apprehension for our institutions and for the social fabric itself."– Bible Banner.
Should we expect to be exempted from the fire (trial) that is to try all? No, rather if we have the most advanced light we should expect to be the first and most severely tried. And we have been; and are now being, so tried.
Your faith could not perhaps be tried by the same errors of infidelity, etc. Your knowledge of the plan of the ages and the work of restitution of all things renders powerless the arrows of infidelity, as also your knowledge of the condition of the dead protects you against the pestilence of "spiritualism." But for all this God is not without means of proving and sifting us. Our trial, which we hope is now almost over, has arisen mainly from the teachings scattered amongst us by some who walked with us and with whom we took sweet council together, who, denying the redemption and forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ, have claimed it as possible for every man to pay his own penalty and climb his way up, and win for himself eternal life. Thus denying that the Lord bought them, thus seeming to fulfill to some extent, 2 Pet. 2:1, and thus have brought upon themselves by laying aside Christ's robe of righteousness – the wedding garment – and appearing in their own "filthy rags," the destruction of their light.
"Light is sown for the righteous," but "there are none righteous, no not one," except as covered by Christ's righteousness as with a garment. "Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, whose sins are covered." Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth righteousness. These are the righteous for whom light was sown in God's word. Should we wonder if these brethren who have thus laid aside the imputed righteousness of Christ should be deprived of the light which was intended only for "the path of the just," – those justified by faith in the ransom, and not by their own works.
Such has been the result; these who once rejoiced in the light of "The sure word of Prophecy" which shows us the presence of our Lord as the "Bridegroom," "Reaper" and "King," that proves to us that the "times of restitution of all things began in 1874," and that consequently "the heavens" which were to receive Him until that time, now no longer receive him, but that He is present, and that soon when the separation of wheat and tares is complete, "we shall be changed to His glorious likeness and see Him as He is. All, all this light they have lost, and have now reached the condition of outer-darkness, the condition of darkness on the subject of the Lord's presence [R126 : page 3] that the world and a worldly church have always occupied. The parable says "there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth," meaning, we suppose, that such shall go through the time of trouble upon the world.
With pain and sorrow we part company, but rejoice to know that many who followed them in a measure and were sorely tried are now able to discern between light and "outer darkness." "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us they no doubt would have continued with us; but they went out from us that they might be made manifest, that they were not all of us." But "you have an anointing from the Holy one. You all know it." (1 Jno. 2:19-20.) The Holy Spirit has revealed to us through the word the presence of the Bridegroom and we heard his voice and opened the door of faith and He came in to us and supped with us, and caused us to sit down to meat (truth), and himself has been our teacher and served us, (Rev. 3:20, Luke 12:37). And our faith does not stand in the wisdom of men but in the power and word of God. (1 Cor. 2:5.) And still beloved, there may be other trials for you.
I have read that Benjamin Franklin tried to convince the farmers of his day that plaster enriched the soil. All his philosophical arguments failed to convince the farmers; so he took plaster and formed it into a sentence by the roadside. The wheat coming up through those letters was about twice as rank and green as the other wheat, and the farmers could read for months in letters of living green the sentence: This has been plastered. Arguments and culture, and fine sermons cannot convince sinners; they want to read in pulpit and pew, in our utter separation from the world, in our contentedness of mind and victorious joy, the clean-cut truth: This has been redeemed and sanctified by the Holy Ghost. Ah! brother, sister, the pierced hand of Jesus can pull out the throne of depravity from our heart, and open there a running stream of joy which will flow on through our pain, or poverty, or loneliness, or persecution, or trial, like a cooling river through a desert of sand. It is grand to live in a state where hallelujahs form the normal breathing of the soul. It is the joy of unwavering faith and repose in the blood of Jesus.– Advocate of Holiness.
I purpose visiting brother and sister Paton at Almont, Mich., and the other friends in that vicinity during August, and shall stop enroute at Elyria, on the 9th and 10th, and at Cleveland on the 22d, and be in Bro. Paton's charge from 14th to 16th inst. Elyria meetings are in charge of Sister Avis Hamlin. Those at Cleveland are under Bro. Caleb Davies' control. May the Lord direct to His own praise and to our mutual profit. My dear wife accompanies me on this short trip.
Your servant and editor of your paper.
"It is man's relation to his God that must adjust and determine his relations to his fellow-creatures. The symmetrical position of the points in the circumference arises from their common relation to a common center. Set a man right with God, and he will certainly be set right with his neighbors."
"But to do good and to communicate forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." Heb. 13:16.
Our Heavenly Father is very rich, possessing all things, lacking nothing, yet if we may judge from his dealings with his earthly creatures, his pleasure has been not so much in the possessing of these great riches as in the using of them for the good and blessing of his creatures.
So also as we become more and more like him – "partakers of the Divine nature" – benevolence, kindness and love will become more and more characteristic of us. Few perhaps of the "little flock" have been made stewards of this world's goods. It may be because there are few who could use and not abuse the trust, but such as have it should esteem it a privilege to be imitators of our benevolent Heavenly Father; not wasting it, neither hoarding it, but esteeming it merely as an agent for blessing and "doing good unto all men, especially to the household of faith." And we should be anxious and careful to use whatever God has put into our hands, and to be faithful whether over a few things or many things, remembering that the man with but one dollar may be as really a miser or a philanthropist as he who has a million.
What we should endeavor to possess is true benevolence and breadth of mind, charity, love. "Let the same mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus our Lord," and it will lead you to regard and treat with tenderness and loving kindness, even those with whom you differ. Let us remember in this connection, too, that, "If any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of His."
The spirit or mind of Christ is a meek and quiet and charitable spirit. It "vaunteth not itself, is not easily puffed up." Its fruits are the opposite of the depraved fleshly nature, viz.: love, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, etc. "If we live in the spirit let us also walk in the spirit" and "not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another," but displaying the spirit of our Father in heaven, "and we shall be the children of the Highest, for He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil." "Be ye therefore merciful as your Father also is merciful."
But if it is a joy and privilege to be God's stewards to a greater or less degree in earthly goods, how much more blessed is it to be permitted to dispense the spiritual blessings and thus to be "Stewards of the manifold grace of God." Do we appreciate the fact that each disciple of Christ is a steward, some to a greater, some to a less extent; some with many talents, some with few, yet "To every man (in Christ) is given a measure of the spirit to profit withal" – to make use of. What use are you making of the talents given to you? Before saying to us, have you rule over two cities, five cities or many things, He will ask us to give an account of our stewardship. He will not expect me to give an account of your stewardship, nor you to give an account of mine. To the Master each servant will give an account and stand or fall.
But while it is true that we each have been given special blessings of knowledge and truth and that certain responsibilities come with them, we had rather provoke you to love than fear. If we possess the spirit of Christ, love, we shall esteem it a great privilege to be permitted to carry to others that which has done so much good, which has removed the clouds from our minds and brought us into the clear sunshine of God's love, revealing to us the grandeur of our Heavenly Father's character, the beauties and harmonies of his word, and the "exceeding riches of his grace in his loving kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." If it has set our hearts to ringing in melodious harmony with the heavenly music, "bringing glad tidings of great joy which shall be to all people," may it not produce the same effect upon others? Would that the story filled each of our hearts, that as a flame of fire it would consume all dross from our own hearts and set fire to all with whom we come in contact. Like the widow's cruse of oil, our treasure will fill to overflowing all the earthen vessels ready to receive it. Oh that every word of the beautiful song – "I love to tell the story" – could be the emphatic and truly heartfelt expression of all the readers of the WATCH TOWER:
Again, if we would "do good and communicate," how should we tell the story? Tell it simply, tell it plainly; be entirely swallowed up with the grandeur of your theme. Lose sight of yourself and what you have learned and let it be all "of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love." Too many take pleasure in telling the story only as they can make battle with it. They delight in using the truth as a knock-down argument. This is an element of the old nature which, not yet dead, asserts its right to fight what it terms the Lord's battles or the spiritual warfare. A sad mistake; be not deceived into developing an element of the carnal nature in direct opposition to the fruits of the spirit – meekness, gentleness, patience, love.
Truly we are told that "the word of God is the sword of the spirit," but remember it is not our sword. The spirit does its own smiting and in its own way, but to us it says, "Put up thy sword." The command to us is, Be light bearers. "Let your light so shine" by showing forth the fruits of the Spirit, that men may see your good fruits and glorify your Father in heaven. The word is a lamp, by its light put on Christ's righteousness, and truth as a garment, then lift it up to others that they may see your clean robes and be led to desire the same. Then let the Spirit use his sword upon others as he may see fit to humble them, strip them of pride, and bring them to the rock that is higher than they.
We should not become discouraged if there are but few who love light rather than darkness. We should remember that the God of this world has succeeded in darkening the minds of many that they cannot appreciate the light of truth; that we are as it were, surrounded by men and women blinded totally or partially by sin and ignorance. Some, totally blind, can see and appreciate none of the good news; others can see a little but cannot see afar off. They can only see "the present evil world (age) and are losing much pleasure and joy because they cannot see afar off, how that, "In the ages to come, God will show forth the exceeding riches of his grace in his loving kindness toward us (who are) in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2:7); and how it is his plan that both Jew and Gentile shall obtain mercy through your mercy. Rom. 11:31. Surely as it would afford great pleasure to strengthen and heal physical sight, much more should we rejoice to lead those who are blind spiritually to the Spirit's eye-salve – the word – that they may rejoice with us in singing:
Of many it is as true to-day as when uttered: "Eyes have they but they see not, ears but they hear not." God shows us through the lamp that this age ends the probation of none except those who do see and hear [R127 : page 4] clearly and plainly; that because of Jesus' ransom there is to be an age of Restitution. "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped." "Then all shall come to the knowledge of the truth" and "the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth" and none shall say to his neighbor, "know thou the Lord," for all shall know him, from the least to the greatest of them.
In presenting the good news of the kingdom and the deep things of God, we should seek to follow Jesus' example, that is, while we at all times hold up Christ's righteousness to all men and thereby be to them "living epistles," we should seek to show "the deep things of God" to those who seem to have the spirit of God. (1 Cor. 2:9-16.)
Knowing this, that spiritual or deep things cannot be discerned except by those having the spirit, "He that hath an ear let him hear," saith the Spirit. This must be our method, therefore, when we find any one without an ear to hear, leave off telling such an one. You cannot give him an ear; God will do that in his "due time." Waste not valuable time and energy. Leave them in love and sympathy with God, and put no obstacle in their way.
Whenever you meet what seems to be "an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile," expect in such a one to find "an ear to hear." Commune with him first on Spiritual things familiar to you both, that he may come to recognize you as led of the same spirit – a fellow member of "the body of Christ," and an heir of the same glory. Then present to such the deeper things of God and your communion, instead of being a battle of words, will be profitable and blessed to both. To fully appreciate the meaning of our text, we should do good and communicate until we feel it. It is with such sacrifices God is well pleased. It does not amount to a sacrifice to merely give a dollar, or a moment, or an hour for which we have no other use. Give until you can feel it and then you may expect to feel in your heart that "with such sacrifices God is well pleased."
And seeing a single fig tree by the road he went to it but finding nothing on it except leaves, he said, "May no fruit grow on thee to the age," and the fig tree instantly withered. (E.D.) Matt. 21:19. That Christ used the fig tree to represent the destruction of the Jewish nation seems evident. This event occurred about the time Christ rode into Jerusalem (verses 2,5) at which time he pronounced the curse (Luke 19:30,41). This is further evident when we notice the parable given in Luke 13:6,9. The three years he came seeking fruit, likely refers to the time of Christ's ministry during which time he confined himself almost entirely to the Jewish people (Matt. 10:5,6). Some may say however that Christ's ministry was 3½ years and this would not apply, but while it was 3½ years from the baptism of Christ until His crucifixion it seems there was no special work done until about the passover, which was about six months after his baptism, and so commencing in A.D. 30 would end in A.D. 33, time parable was given according to the year in the margin of your Bible. The dresser of the vineyard says let it alone this year, which of course would make it four and extend favor one year beyond the crucifixion, but I do not think it was allowed to remain another year, for the latter part of the chapter shows that Jerusalem was left desolate and as he came searching fruit and found none we know from the connection in Matt. 21:19, it was at that point it withered. Some however have thought it unreasonable to suppose that the fig tree represents the Jews, for Mark 11:13 informs us, that the time of figs was not yet, which of course implies that the time for the Jews to bear fruit was not then, and if so why should Christ curse them?
But I think the objection vanishes when we remember that they were only a typical people and that the time they will bear fruit is after the fullness of the Gentiles have come in. [Rom. 11:25-27].
It is also necessary to bear in mind that the curse did not seal their eternal doom, for blindness only happened to them for a time, says Paul, and the same thought is intimated by Christ when he left their house desolate, (Luke 13:35) for they are yet to say: "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." This being true we find how appropriate is the rendering given in the Emphatic Diaglott, viz.: "Cursed to the age." And 'tis true that during the Gospel age, as a nation, they have borne no fruit, but when the bride is taken out from the Gentiles they will receive favor. [Acts 15:14,16.] We find that the cursed fig tree is to bud again according to Christ's own words in a parable given in connection with the signs of His coming in Matt. 24:32,33, and if the curse pronounced on it at the first advent shows us the blinding of the Jews, does not its putting forth leaves reveal to us the fact that they are in a fair way to bear fruit? So we understand it at least, and as there are unmistakable signs among the Jews to-day as a people, we recognize Christ's words and know "that summer is nigh." And not only do we recognize that the restoration of the Jews is at hand but also that the kingdom of God is nigh. [Luke 21:29,31]. And as the kingdom of God is due at some time to be set up, we rejoice and lift up our heads because our redemption is nigh. [verse 28]. For the setting up of the kingdom implies nothing less than the resurrection of the dead in Christ and change of the living, and knowing that the restoration [R127 : page 5] of the Jews takes place in the midst of great trouble and during the pruning out of the seven last plagues according to the type, [Micah 7:14 to end], and having the promise that we are to be counted worthy to escape all these things, [Luke 21:34,36,] we patiently wait for our gathering together unto Christ.
The redemption we understand to be the redemption of the body, [Rom. 8:23,] being caught away to meet Christ, and so to be forever with Him. This same idea seems to be brought out in Cant. 2:10,13, when Christ addresses the Church, saying: "Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away...the fig tree putteth forth the green figs;...Arise my love, my fair one, and come away."
We here find the fig tree maintained again and like Christ's words it is connected with our redemption. Surely we who recognize the signs of the times in connection with the prophetic measures, have great reason for rejoicing in hope of our speedy deliverance, and may we also give thanks to our Heavenly Father for the light shining on our path. May the truth have the designed effect, viz.: to sanctify us, separate us from the world, make us holy, for "without holiness no man shall see the Lord," [Heb. 12:14]. While in the presence of Christ we wait for our gathering together unto Him, and may the trial of our faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, be found to the praise of His glory, whom having not seen we love, in whom, though now we see him not, yet believing, we rejoice...receiving the end of our faith, won the salvation of our souls, (1 Pet. 1:7,9). So here we find that we are not to see Christ until our salvation, when we shall be like Him and see Him as He is, (1 John 3:2), and then and not until then will faith end, and we will not longer need signs, not even that of the fig tree, but until then we expect to watch by faith.
Growth in knowledge of truth is not only the privilege but also the duty of the Christian; so the education of the saints will not be complete until they have laid off the flesh, and been made like Christ.
Then we ought to understand more fully the deep things of God now than at any other time in the past; and so we should comprehend more clearly what it is to suffer with Christ, as well as the glory which is to follow.
Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances; after the commandments and ordinances of men? Touch not, taste not, handle not the unclean thing. Col. 2:20,22.
The conscience must be purged from dead works to serve the living God, (Heb. 9:14). For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God (Gal. 2:19). It is a faithful saying: "For if we be dead with Him we shall also reign with Him," (2 Tim. 2:11). Yea, doubtless and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them as vile refuse that I may win Christ and be found in him; not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; if by any means I may attain unto the resurrection of the dead, (Phil. 3:8,11). Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered [R128 : page 5] unto death for Jesus sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. (2 Cor. 4:10,11.)
These passages seem to teach more than a crucifixion of the flesh simply; i.e., an actual giving of ourselves, as did our head, for the purpose of completing the sacrifice for the world; to fill up that which is behind of the sufferings of Christ. He gave His flesh for the life of the world (John 6:51). Hereby perceive we love, because he laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren, [1 Jno. 3:16].
If we are still under the death penalty entailed upon us by Adam, how we can be counted as dead, crucified with Christ, I can not conceive; but if He redeemed us from that penalty, by His death, I can see how we can give ourselves a voluntary sacrifice for the world in Him. He could give Himself because of His own righteousness; His body can do it only by having His righteousness imputed to them. There were two sacrifices for atonement under the law Lev. 16; one for the priesthood or high priest's house, and the other for the people. Jesus, our high priest, gave himself a propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:2) or his house, whose are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end, Heb. 3:6.
Then again Christ, our passover is sacrificed for us [the church of the first-born.] 1 Cor. 5:7. Whom God has set forth to be a mercyseat, by his own blood, through the faith; for an exhibition of His righteousness in passing by the sins formerly committed, during the forbearance of God; and for an exhibition of His righteousness at the present time, in order that he may be righteous while justifying him who is the faith of Jesus [Rom. 3:25,26]. [Diaglott.] So faith in Christ, or the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus hath made us free from the law of sin and death [Rom. 8:2].
If the death of Christ releases us from the Adamic penalty, then why do we die? To complete the sacrifice. Presenting our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service, [Rom. 12].
Dead with him. Not only dead to the world, to the law, to sin, to the flesh, but really dead with Him. Baptized into his death; for if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin; for he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Him, we believe that we shall also live with Him [Rom. 6]. The completion of the individual sufferings of the head was his laying off the flesh; so with the body.
The atonement was for the purpose of cleansing. That Jesus gave himself for the church – the church of the first-born – that they might be partakers with Him in making atonement for the world, seems to be clearly taught in Numbers 8. "Take the Levites from among the children of Israel and cleanse them."
"And Aaron shall offer the Levites before the Lord for an offering of the children of Israel, that they may execute the service of the Lord. And the Levites shall lay their hands upon the heads of the bullocks; and thou shalt offer the one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering unto the Lord, to make an atonement for the Levites.
"Thus shalt thou separate the Levites from among the children of Israel; and the Levites shall be mine. For they are wholly given unto me from among the children of Israel; Instead of the first-born of all the children of Israel have I taken them unto me. For all the first-born of the children of Israel are mine. And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and to his sons among the children of Israel to do the service of the children of Israel in the tabernacle of the congregation, and to make atonement for the children of Israel."
Do not the first-born represent the church? And has not God chosen them out from among the nations and given them to Christ for a purpose? By virtue of Jesus having given Himself a propitiation for our sins; and as our passover having been slain for us, our sins go beforehand to judgment. We are first on trial, and do not come into Judgment [trial] with the world. We escape the things that are coming upon the world, and having suffered with Him, crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts; completed the sacrifice, we shall be exalted with Him to the throne, as kings and priests, to reign over, judge and bless the nations. When the sacrifice for the world shall have been completed, the ransom fully paid, and the perfected Christ exercises authority, not another individual will die on account of Adam's transgression; nor indeed for mere sins of the flesh, but for sins against the knowledge of the truth.
[No other scripture or type shows so fully perhaps, the intimate relationship between Jesus, the head, and "the little flock" as members of His body as this. [Lev. 16.] The head was a sacrifice and the body follows in His footsteps. The Head died for all the household of faith; the body fills up the measure of the sufferings of Christ, and dies for all "the people" not of the household. We may learn better to appreciate the apostle's expression concerning the prophets when he says that "they spake before of the sufferings of Christ [head and body] and of the glory that should follow. Have patience, brethren, until the sufferings are full then we shall have the glory. "For if we suffer with Him we shall also be glorified together." "If we suffer we shall also reign with Him." And as when the suffering of death was accomplished for "His house" by the head they were recognized by the Father no longer as enemies and aliens, but as sons were given the spirit of adoption, [at Pentecost] so when all the sufferings are completed and filled up the Father will recognize all the world as free from Adam's transgression and justified to life, and the great work of the millennial age, "Restitution," will begin when the sufferings are complete for the world God will send the spirit upon them as he did upon the church when its redemption was finished as it is written: "It shall come to pass in the last days saith the Lord, I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh." The first installment or "early rain" came upon us at Pentecost, the promise will be completed when we are glorified.
But, another point shown by this atonement type is, that all believers constitute a part of the household, they are represented by the Levites and are a part of "the church of the first-born." Though apparently none except the willing living sacrifices – "The Lord's Goat," those who suffer and shall reign, are counted overcomers – His bride – the members of his body. Typified by the priests all other members of the household will be wonderfully blest but will lose much. It rejoices us however to think that many who through fear of death (afraid of the scoffs of the world, afraid though longing to crucify themselves,) and therefore subject to bondage. That these dear loved ones will not be suffered to have part with the world, but during the time of trouble "the rod and staff" of our shepherd will lead them through great tribulation to our Father's house and family. Thus they may become palm bearers even though they are not part of the "little flock" of crown wearers. It is the Lord's plan, and marvelous in our eyes. How wonderfully good our Father is and how His plan shows it. "Let me love Thee more and more."]
In ordinary times it is the privilege and duty of the children of God to shine as "the light of the world." As in nature, the energies of every thing that is germinated are directed to the building up and perfecting its own organizations, and thereby fulfilling its own mission in the realms of animated creations; so in the spiritual sphere of existence, the great business of "the begotten again" is to grow, develop and mature, and in the accomplishment of these processes to shine as "the lights of the world." That which shines commands the observation and reflects its own light upon all its surroundings, and is as a consequence as "a city set upon a hill," it cannot be hid. This is the duty the christian owes to the world, the filling of the perfect development of his character as a son of God. It is not teaching, instruction. His knowledge is imperfect and only gained by the slow process of his spiritual discipline as it displaces his natural ideas and makes revealed truth comprehensible to him. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned," and discipline alone makes them comprehensible to the "begotten again." All that christians can do for the world, is to shine before it, that is illumine and illustrate by their luminous conduct, the principles their profession recognizes.
When the Father sends teachers into the world they speak to it by inspiration, as in the case of the Prophets, the Son of God and His Apostles. But the revelation being [R128 : page 6] completed for the preliminary age of the Gospel, the Father is pleased to complete the education of His sons before He sends them forth as teachers of His truth, for every one whom He sends forth gives utterance to no uncertain sound. Hence at present we are left under the guidance of the Holy Ghost to be led into all truth. We are not at liberty to rely upon human wisdom, learning or capacity to discover the meaning of the revelation which was given to us by the power of the Holy Ghost. Nor is there any promise that the [R129 : page 6] Holy Ghost will "endow any of us with power from on high" to speak by inspiration before the blessed Lord our living head is manifested in His glory. These being the normal conditions of christian life. It may become our duty when abnormal conditions supervene, as we think they do at present, to lift up our voice of warning when those who would be recognized as the faithful teachers of the household seek to impress the household with the idea that they have been the recipients of a divine preparation to be its leader and teacher in these last days. When you read such utterances as this – "I felt and knew that it was a baptism for the work," stop and ask yourselves whether you recollect any utterances of the revealed word that leads to the expectation that the Holy Ghost's functions are to be supplemented by human agency? No, my Brethren, the agency that follows the invisible agency of the Holy Ghost is that of the manifested Lord and His Bride. It is true that prior to His manifestation He may, and undoubtedly is, personally directing the angels in their gathering work, but it is manifest that His presence and action now are kept in this, the limits of the Holy Ghost's sphere of invisibility.
As long as we are in the flesh we are liable to be led astray, and we think our brother errs egregiously in his extraordinary efforts to be recognized as a special missionary of the Lord in these last days. It seems possible "the elect" may deceive themselves as well as others.
I wish the brethren would take their Concordance and find under the head of Holy Ghost what is judicated of Him, and having studied each passage where His offices and services are spoken of, ask themselves if there be left any possible avenue through which the man agency can supplement His work?
I could say more on this subject. "A word to the wise is sufficient."
[Remarks by the Editor: We presume that Bro. S. – would not wish us to understand him as ignoring the fact that God always has, and perhaps always will use, special agents for special work, as for instance Abraham, Moses, Samson and Paul, the "chosen vessel." These were used as long as they kept humble – "kept their body under," but if even a Moses, allowed pride to overcome him, he would cease to be the leader of the Lord's hosts.
We heartily endorse this sentiment. "To the Law and to the testimony if they speak not according to these it is because there is no light in them," no matter if they had a thousand visions. We should not take an angel's word unless it could be sustained as in harmony with the Bible. If any man be used of the Spirit as a special vessel he need not tell anyone of it. It will manifest itself through his exposition of "the word."]
That faculty of our moral nature by which we judge of the quality of our own acts and the acts of others, and which we call conscience, was given to us of God. Its judgment is immediate and decisive when occasion occurs. We cannot avoid it. The character, the law, and the acts of our Creator are passed upon before this personal tribunal in our heart. We cannot avoid doing this. God knows we must form these judgments, for he has given to us this moral nature. We cannot call that right, because it is a divine act, which really shocks our conscience. The fact of its being found in the Bible, if it is abhorrent to our moral sense, cannot give it any different ethical coloring to us. It is wrong there and everywhere – to us. God has given us this faculty, in order that we should make these judgments. We cannot help them. We are not responsible for them. They flash out their decisions involuntarily to us.
In accordance with this common law of our natures, men freely express their judgments in reference to the divine government over us, and especially in regard to the sanctions revealed in the Bible as following a persistent breach of the law of God. They judge of the divine conduct towards themselves, as they would of their own towards their children. They would not justify themselves in an exacting, persistent, absolutely strict demand of entire obedience at the hand of the latter, but would be lenient, forgiving, patient, forbearing, hopeful and helpful until the last. This is what their moral nature exacts of them towards their children. Have they not a right to demand the same at the hand of the Great Heavenly Father? No human mind could endure the thought of the absolute and eternal ruin – the protracted, conscious, exquisite, and hopeless suffering of thousands upon thousands of intelligent immortals; the moral sense of no saved person could enjoy, it is affirmed, the bliss of heaven, to know that related and heretofore greatly beloved friends were enduring the unmitigated woes of an unlimited wretchedness. Our ethical natures must be of the same character as that of our Creator, for God has given us ours. He would not bestow upon us a moral sense which would apprehend that to be right which is in itself wrong, and conversely. He knows that all His acts and threatenings must pass in review before our own inward apprehensions of justice and righteousness. Can He expect that we will believe in reference to Himself that, that which shocks beyond expression our moral apprehension, is right simply because He has ordained it?
We present the question quite boldly and without qualification in order that any suggestion that is made may cover, if possible, the strongest aspect of the case. We hear, in these days, in our religious discussions, expressions that would have been thought blasphemous a few years since. The divine Lawgiver and Creator is unceremoniously summoned before the tribunal of our lower human courts, and His character and acts are submitted to a summary judgment. If He treats His creatures as many believers in the Bible think He does, He is affirmed to be worse than a devil. If He permits them to enter upon such a life as ours, the character and circumstances of their birth largely deciding their moral conditions in spite of themselves, and then condemns them, after a life of frightful temptation, with small or no fair opportunities for moral recovery, to a fearful and hopeless retribution in a life to come, He is, as these modern religious philosophers say, simply a monster. Our own moral natures rise up involuntarily within us, it is urged, and repel such an idea of the infinite Creator and Father of the universe.
Now, while a reverent and Christian believer would hesitate to use such language as this, every one may safely affirm that some time and somewhere every act of God, to every intelligent soul, will be made to appear, as it relates to the individual or universe, absolutely righteous. We may not be able to adjust all the questions involved, here and now, but some time God will justify himself before the moral sense He has Himself created within us. It is just as safe and proper, also, to say that at some point in the history of every soul, God's economy over him and all other souls will be made to appear as the reign of infinite and unqualified love. God expects this judgment at the hand of every person, for He has given to all this wonderful faculty of sitting upon His own acts, and He has revealed Himself both as holy and as a God of love; not simply merciful and forgiving, but essential love itself.
We cannot look back upon the history of the race, or even read the Bible, or gather up the results of our own observation, and feel that, judged by our standard, the government of the world has seemed exactly just to individuals and nations. We cannot reconcile divine impartiality, with the special favor shown to some peoples and some individuals....
Amid all these conflicting moral elements, we readily hold our faith in both the divine wisdom and love. The Judge of all flesh will do right. And God is love. It becomes us, therefore, to be both modest and reverent in our expressions of opinion in reference to divine acts to occur on the other side of the vail. We only see now in part. God will be true to Himself and to our purified moral sense. Let us not dare summarily to express, in our ignorance and moral infirmity, a judgment upon His possible government hereafter, beyond the sure word of prophecy.
The above is evidently the expression of a noble, honest heart, yearning and longing for the bright light of truth to prove to him what the scriptures claim, that "God is love," and "His mercy endureth forever." We are glad to think that this brother is one of many who are beginning to awake to the fact that there must be something in God's plan which they have not yet seen, which will harmonize His word and show its claim, that God is just and merciful and loving, to be borne out and proved by his dealings with his creatures. This Brother, while not alone in his unrest and disquiet, is comparatively alone in his utterances. Others think, but seldom speak, and the above utterances seem to indicate either a bolder or a larger heart than the majority of his colleagues possess.
When we read such heart throbs how we wish we could give some of [R130 : page 6] the consolations of the "sure word of prophecy." How we wish for opportunity to sing to them "The Song of Moses and the Lamb," and to show to them that only the few – that have "come to the knowledge of truth" and have "been made partakers of the Holy Ghost" (the church), only these have yet had their trial, or judgment, and that it is a blessed truth, and eventually will be "glad tidings of great joy to all people, that God hath appointed a day (age) in the which He will judge (Put on trial by giving them the clear knowledge of the truth) the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath afore ordained – Jesus Christ," the new man – the "anointed Saviour" – head and body. ("Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?" If they could but see what is meant by Peter in Acts 3:21. ("The heavens must retain (Jesus) until the times of restitution of all things.") and that the very object of His coming is to glorify His Bride and "the Virgins, her companions that follow her," and then through them to "bless all the families of earth" and "restore all things" – restore poor fallen humanity to its original human perfectness which God declared "very good," freeing them from all the evils of Adam's transgression and placing them again where it is possible for them to keep a perfect law. Oh, would that they could see that this "time [these years] of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy Prophets since the world began," is the magic key which unlocks God's goodness, love, mercy, and justice and discloses to our enraptured vision not only "the exceeding riches of His grace and loving kindness toward us in Christ Jesus," but that it also gives us a glimpse of "the depth of the riches, both of the knowledge and wisdom of God," that we might "comprehend with all saints the height and depth, length and breadth, and know the LOVE of God which passeth knowledge."
But why is it that souls expressing such longings for truth as the above, are unwilling [generally] to hear or investigate our sweet story? Alas, they are bound! Creeds made by fallible men in the Fifteenth to Seventeenth centuries, who, though honest, had much of the error, tradition and darkness of old Papacy clinging to them. These are the shackles and chains which bind men's consciences and prevent the reception of truth, or so dilute and mix it with error as to destroy much of its power and almost all of its beauty. Oh, that christians could realize the liberty whereunto they are called, and that they would not be held in bondage to any man nor to any written creed, nor to any preconceived opinions of their own (an unwritten creed.) Let us put down no stakes, saying, thus far will I believe and no farther, but realize that the Lord is our shepherd and that he will lead His sheep day by day and arrange ways by which things both new and old shall be brought [R130 : page 7] out of the great treasure-house of His word as meat in due season for the household of faith. Let us remember that it is as much our work to follow as it is the Spirit's work to lead us into all truth. "Then shall we know if we follow on to know the Lord," [Hos. 6:3]. "Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free, and be not again entangled with the YOKE OF BONDAGE."
And I saw as it were a sea of glass, mingled with fire: And them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, [Omit: "and over his mark"] and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass having the harps of God.
And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying – Great and marvellous are thy works Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways thou King of Nations [margin] who shall not fear thee O Lord and glorify thy name, for thou alone art holy? For all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments [righteous acts] are made manifest. Rev. 15:2-4.
The question has often been asked: who sing this song and when? The most commonly received answer perhaps has been: This is the second or great company who come up through the great tribulation and they sing this song during the time of trouble. We think this incorrect and wish to express a different view.
First. It cannot be the second company because these have gotten the Victory over the Beast and Image, etc. (As to what these symbolize, see first article in WATCH TOWER January 1880.) The trouble with the mass of Christians is that they are in bondage to this beast and image.
The second company never get the Victory over them and apparently do not recognize their true character until they are overthrown by the judgments of the "day of wrath," when the "Beast and false prophet are cast into the lake of fire," they still worship them and it is not until their power is gone that they recognize their overthrow as of God and say: "True and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great harlot." (Rev. 19:2.) Not these are the Victors, but they who now stand out free while The Beast and Image are ruling and enslaving all who profess the name of Christ with their man-made creeds, and are Lording it over God's heritage.
Secondly. This scene occurs before the pouring out of the vials of wrath for the angels are seen with the "seven vials full" (vs. 7).
As we proceed to analyze the song, I think you will recognize it as the very song of Restitution which we sing. Then too you will see how none who bow to the decrees of orthodoxy, so called, can sing it being hindered and chained by their creeds, until they get the Victory over them.
"I saw a sea as it were of glass" – Sea symbolizes people of the world, as it were of glass, shows that their condition is easily recognized by those who stand on or above them. The Victors, we and all who can sing this song, we believe to be the Victors. We see the sea (people) mingled with fire, [judgments]. We believe that this fire [trouble] has been mingling or coming among the people since 1873, and that it is to continue until 1914. Though pitying them we cannot stop to weep for our hearts are filled with joy by the unfolding before us of the Word and plan of God, and our mouths are filled with the song of Restitution saying: "Great and marvellous are thy works Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways thou King of Nations." Who but those seeing, that there is to be a "restitution of all things" can say or think God's ways with the Nations "just and true?" Look back to the slaughter of great nations – The Amorites, Amelekites, Hitites, Jebuzites, etc., without ever giving them a chance to know Him, whom to know is life eternal. Consider these dealings of God and none can do more than try in a feeble way to excuse God's action by saying that those were wicked people, forgetting that wickedness can only exist where there is law and a knowledge of good.
Who could do more than attempt an excuse for the destruction of Sodom, when Jesus says that if His mighty works done among the Jews had been done in Sodom "it would have remained until this day." [Matt. 11:23.] It could not be excused – God doesn't want us to excuse Him.
Again, as we sing our song we say "Who shall not fear Thee, O, Lord, and glorify thy name, for thou only art holy?" and our christian brethren hold up their hands in horror saying, "That's almost universalism!" "According to orthodox belief nine out of every ten shall not, either in this life, or hereafter glorify God's name." But we reply: "There is one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all men, to be testified in due time." When in the millennial age, God's due time for testifying it to the world – to every man – shall have come, we believe that almost all will fear and glorify Him and love Him, too. What they lack is knowledge:
Who but ourselves, believes the next clause? "All nations shall come and worship before Thee." Not, those who think that all but a very few are gone to hell torment forever. Not those, either, who believe that all are annihilated except the saints. Nor yet, those who believe in a partial restitution, and that the living nations only are to come and worship God in the next age. No, none of these can or do sing this song. Only we, can sing it in full – a "Restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets." Even the Sodomites of whom no remnant was left when "fire came down from heaven and destroyed them all." "All nations shall come and worship before Thee." "Thy judgments [righteous acts] are made manifest." We can see in the unfolding of the great plan that God's dealings are all [R131 : page 7] righteous, and just, and we can make it manifest to all who are not so blinded by traditions of men that the word of God is made to them of none effect.
Yes, dear brethren and sisters, we have to some extent at least gotten the victory over the Beast and his image, etc. The song is ours and we are singing it. But you say where are our "Harps of God" – We haven't got the harps yet? Yes, we have; it is called "The word of God" and Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, David, Job, Moses and all the Prophecies are but strings to our harp; they only require keying up and they will produce the sweetest harmony to this "Song of Moses and the Lamb," for as Peter says God hath spoken of the restitution by the mouth of all these holy Prophets. (Acts 3:21.)
Then tune up your harps, dearly beloved, and sing aloud our glad song of "Jubilee." Sing to your dear friends who love God, despite what seems to them his injustice. But if they will not hear sing to the world. It will be a "Bow of promise" to them when they go further down into the time of trouble. And if you cannot do this sing it loudly in your own heart. It will joy and comfort bring you, to think of our Father's love and realize that "His mercy endureth forever." (Ps. 136.) It will open and warm your heart and enrich it with love, both for your Father and for those who are the objects of His care and love.
Restitution signifies the restoring of a thing which was lost. You might give a person anything, whether he had once possessed it or not; but it would be quite improper to call it restoring unless he had once possessed and then lost it. The human family once possessed a perfect mental, moral and physical nature as represented in the person of Adam their head. Beautiful and majestic in form, God-like in the mental and moral qualities of his being (in God's image) and commissioned to be the King or God over all earthly creatures ("In our likeness let him have dominion over the beasts, foul, fish," etc.) he stands before us the picture of human perfection. He passes the inspection of the great Jehovah and is pronounced a "very good" man. He was not a God – no it had not been God's purpose to make another God, but a man: "Let us make man in our image." We should not suppose that to be mentally and morally in God's image means that we will have the same mental and moral capacity; but, our justice, mercy, love, truth, and powers of reasoning, deciding, etc., while limited in capacity are the same in kind, as the justice, love, etc., of God, so that he can say to us: "Come let us reason together."
But before Adam had ever learned to use his powers fully, sin entered, and death followed, degrading and destroying by its various agencies of sickness and vice the once noble form, and the perfection of his intellectual and moral faculties.
We have seen that God foresaw the necessity of this victory of evil over man, that he might learn forever the lesson, that sin and death go hand in hand and both are his enemies; while obedience to God and life and happiness are indissolubly connected, and that God is his true and best friend. We see God, the loving Father permitting evil for man's good and taking advantage of its presence to prove to man His unalterable character, "the exceeding sinfulness of sin," the Justice of His Laws, The boundlessness of His mercy, "The exceeding riches of His grace," and "the great Love wherewith He loved us," by redeeming us from all sin through Jesus Christ. We have seen too, how that as through one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall the many be made righteous, (just). (Rom. 5:19) and that in His due time God intends to bring all men back to the condition of perfect manhood where they will again be "very good." This is restitution, the restoring to mankind of the power, qualities, and things lost through the first Adam.
We next inquire who will be restored, and answer all of Adam's family except "The Bride" of Christ, "The Virgins her companions follow her," and the few who commit the unpardonable sin, sinning willfully, after that they have received the knowledge of the truth, and who count the blood of the covenant wherewith they were sanctified an unholy thing. [Heb. 10:26-29.] These three classes have made a covenant with God by which they renounced their rights to the benefits of restitution and the perfect fleshly condition. They declare that they will take up their cross and follow Jesus. Instead of living with the world they will become dead to the world. Instead of expecting a restitution of the flesh they agree to crucify the flesh. Why do they make this covenant? Because of the joy set before them in God's part of the covenant, which is, that if they thus die with Jesus to all earthly interests they shall be joint-heirs with him to a heavenly inheritance. If with Him we give up and crucify the human nature, we shall be made partakers with Him of the divine nature. Those who do not enter this covenant to crucify the human nature retain it; and will be raised and restored to human perfection. Another thought is that now is the time to suffer and die with Him. It cannot be done in the next age. For there is no death there, neither sorrow nor suffering – for the former things are passed away. This is the age of sin and evil and crucifying; the next will be for Glory and Restitution. [Rev. 21:4.] True, the restored family may come to the fountain and drink of the river of water of life freely, have an abundant supply of their life, yet it will be different from having immortality as a fountain of life, "springing up in YOU" so that you will never thirst, neither need come to that river to refresh yourself or to continue your life.
So it is written, "If we suffer [death] with Him, we shall also reign with Him." "If we be dead with Him we shall live with Him." "If we suffer with Him, we shall be glorified together." When? – answer – "Being made conformable unto His death; If by any means I might attain unto the [chief or first] resurrection from among the dead." Diag. Phil. 3:10. From the moment we enter into this covenant of death and life – suffering and glory with God, we begin the work of crucifying the human nature and God begins also at the same time to develop in us the divine nature by imparting to us the Holy Spirit. Once entered into, the covenant or agreement is unalterable, the matter is fixed and sealed. "Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." [2 Cor. 1:22.] We can never have part with the world in the restitution because by our covenant we have abandoned the human nature; the question with us now is, shall we continue to develop our new nature [which now is but an embryo condition] until at our birth [resurrection or translation] we come forth "spiritual bodies" like unto Christ's glorious body."
Who will develop, this higher nature – many or few of those who enter the covenant? We answer: All of them, except those who openly ignore the value of the "blood of the covenant wherewith they were sanctified," i.e., set aside and ignore the value of Christ's death – as their ransom or purchase and we believe this will be a small number.
So to speak, Jesus enters the covenant for us. He agrees to guarantee that our part of the contract shall be fulfilled. All such sealed ones are set apart, from the world and dealt with differently; even as our's is a different hope and calling from the world's. We have been begotten of God, are now in our embryo condition; and all will ultimately come to birth in His likeness who abide under the blood of the covenant, but if any of these members of "the household of faith" go forth from their house upon which is the blood of the Paschal Lamb, these will be destroyed. (Ex. 12:22,23.)
We see then, that the only ones who do not reach the birth [resurrection] among all who are begotten and sealed by the Spirit are those who renounce the "blood of the covenant" and withdraw themselves from its protection, they sin against light, knowledge, and against the Spirit's direction and leading therefore it is called "The sin against the Holy Ghost which hath never forgiveness."
Aside from these, the entire household of faith being begotten of the Spirit are all, children of God; and are all ultimately to reach his likeness. "He who begun the good work in us will complete it." But there will be a difference in our positions according to the way in which we "run the race set before us." All who run will ultimately reach the end of the race, but the prize, of our high calling in Christ Jesus will be obtained only by those who "so run that they may obtain." This prize is to be the Bride of Christ, to be made one with Him, and therefore, to "Sit with Him in His throne" and to "inherit all things."
In what way, do we become overcomers and gain the victory, and win the prize of being part of the Bride? By presenting our bodies a living sacrifice, by crucifying our fleshly will and nature, becoming dead, so that our own will, will neither be known nor done by us, but in everything we must seek to know and do the will of Christ. When dead, you will seek to eat, drink, talk and be clothed, not as the world might dictate, nor your own tastes desire, but according to the best information you can obtain of the will of God concerning you. This is a [R132 : page 8] hard work and it involves much pain to the old nature to be thus crucified and ignored. It is so difficult a task that we never could accomplish it unaided. But we hear the voice of Him that saith: "My grace is sufficient for thee." "Seek and ye shall find." "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith." According to our faith in God we draw supplies of strength. We desire to overcome, we seek his grace, we find it and as we become daily more filled with the new divine nature the victory over the old nature becomes more easy. This is the first company, the bride – the body. Like their head, Jesus they have been willing sacrifices.
The second or great company are of the household also. They have made the covenant to die, but poor frail humanity shrinks from becoming a "speckled bird," a target for this world's sneers and ridicule. They love the favor of God and the favor of man also. They restrain themselves from presumptuous sins, and console themselves that they are far better than many others. They have not the power of faith to lay hold of God's promised assistance. "How can ye believe who receive honor one of another and seek not, the honor that cometh from God only." (Matt. 5:44.) Thus "through fear of death they are all their lifetime subject to bondage;" these will be freed from their bondage soon; they are to go into the time of trouble, be "delivered over to Satan (the adversary) for the destruction of the flesh (which they would not willingly crucify) that the spirit may be saved." They love the present world, to some extent, therefore do not overcome it. But Jesus, who became the surety for all believers, will not suffer the Divine nature begun in them to become extinct.
Oh, how great and loving is the plan of God. How grand the prospect of restitution for the world, to the likeness of Perfect Earthly man. But how much grander our hope of being elevated from this to the "new creation." Who would not lay aside every weight, and run with patience for the prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus.
Bro. R. – In what sense do you consider Christ our substitute? Since you believe that when the Saints are made immortal they give up their flesh life as Christ gave up his, they needed no substitute. And since the sinner will die the second death it cannot be that he has a substitute.
Ans. – I seldom use the word substitute now because it does not occur in our English translation of the Bible, I prefer to use the bible words purchase and ransom which mean exactly the same thing. All men were sinners through Adam's disobedience. The seeds of sin and its result death had been sown in our race and we daily became more weak and sinful. All must die, and the process – "dying thou shalt die" is in progress. There is no way by which we can keep ourselves alive, much less make ourselves alive when we become entirely dead. We can never justify ourselves to life, consequently can never live again.
At this juncture Jesus steps in – Does he set aside the Father's law which had condemned all the sinful race to death? No, but recognizing death as the righteous penalty of sin; he paid that penalty for us. Being, "without sin," "holy," "undefiled," he was not liable to the penalty of sin – death. He had a perfect right to continue his earthly life forever; but instead he gave it for, i.e., instead of ours that had been forfeited. So that now God can give back perfect natural life to the whole race, and he declares that he will do so in His "due time." Thus did Jesus make himself "a propitiation – [satisfaction] for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world, so that, as death passed upon all the human race through Adam, life is to be restored to all in "the times of restitution of all things," because Jesus Christ "gave himself a ransom for all men."
Jesus informs His church of the purchase and tells them that soon all will be restored, but offers to admit them to the Spiritual plane of life if they will now freely give up the natural life – make a sacrifice of it. They could not offer a sacrifice of their natural life until it was purchased for them, because they were already dead. Jesus purchased our lives, then hands them to us saying: Do what you wish with them – here is the great prize, if you crucify yourselves. And we do so gladly for the prize set before us in the Gospel – For ye were bought with a price, even the precious blood of Christ.
What about the sinner who will die the second death? We answer, the fact that he dies the second death on account of his own sins is clear proof that he must have been ransomed from the first death which was the result of Adam's sin.