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|J. H. PATON||ALMONT, MICH.|
|W. I. MANN||SWISSVALE, PA.|
|B. W. KEITH||DANSVILLE, N.Y.|
|H. B. RICE||W. OAKLAND, CAL.|
|A. D. JONES||PITTSBURGH, PA.|
The numerous sacrifices and observances of the Mosaic Law as recorded in the first five books of our bible were given in minute detail and observed with scrupulous exactness; not because there was really any good in them, "for by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in God's sight," and "the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sin," but these were used as pictures or shadows of realities which were future. (Heb. 1:10) The amount of reliance which can be placed in the accuracy of these pictures can be judged from the strictness with which the Jews were obliged to obey them, and the severe penalties (generally death) administered in case of violation; and also from the words of our Lord; "One jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law until all be fulfilled" (Matt. 5:18).
This being true, how anxious should we be to closely read the meaning of these pictures which required years for their execution, and which shadow forth minutely all the various features of the work of at-one-ment between God and all sinners.
It is not all one picture but there are quite a number. We find them, so to speak, all grouped together. There are usually three or four pictures to each group, related to each other as being views of the same subject from various standpoints of observation; and then all the various groups of subjects are related to each other, and when all are properly arranged before our mental vision, each shows some special feature of the work of atonement and each adds value to the other. But why the mixture – why not told in plain words that all might understand? For the same reason has the spirit chosen to cover and hide beauties of truth under these types that he has in the book of Revelation and elsewhere hidden truth under symbols, i.e., that it might be known only as it becomes due, and then only to those "to whom it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom, but to those that are without (not disciples) all these things are spoken in parables" and symbols and types. Luke 8:10. Let us, asking wisdom of Him who giveth liberally, endeavor to arrange before our minds some of these pictures and try to drink in their true meaning and thereby be refreshed.
This, under the "Law," was the ceremony for the installation to God's service as high-priest. The form is described in Exod. 29 and Lev. 8. Aaron was anointed to his office with a peculiar oil not used on any one except the high-priest, and not lawful for any to have or to make under penalty of death. Exod. 30:25-32. This doubtless typified the Holy Spirit.
For this service Aaron was washed and attired in the holy garments of "glory and of beauty." Exod. 28. Then the anointing oil was poured upon his head. Thus was Jesus, our High-Priest, robed and anointed. He needed not the washing as did the type, for he was "holy, harmless, undefiled." The linen "coat" represents him as pure and righteous; the girdle is the symbol of a servant; the linen girdle showing him to be a "righteous servant." The robe of blue of one piece shows his heavenly nature (blue is the color of the peaceful heavens). The Ephod, made of two separate pieces, suspended the one before and the other behind him by two golden clasps which rested upon his shoulders, representing, we think, the two great covenants, the front one the Abrahamic and the back one the "new" covenant. These, though separate and distinct, are both seen to be dependent on him for their support and accomplishment. (It should be remembered that we are in him heirs of glory, not under the "new covenant," which is still future, but in the "Abrahamic covenant.") They were made of "gold, blue, purple, scarlet and fine twined linen," representing the blessings contained in those covenants: gold – spiritual blessings; blue – heavenly peace; purple – royalty of earth; scarlet – the unchangeable character of the covenant (scarlet was regarded as the most enduring of all colors); and linen – that righteousness was one of the conditions. As there was "none righteous" but Jesus, humanity would have failed to be benefited by these glorious covenants had not God "laid help upon one who was mighty." Both covenants would have fallen to the ground had not the golden clasp given them a resting on him.
There was a "curious girdle" of the same materials as the ephod, which bound these two pieces (covenants) to him around the waist. This designates him a servant of a "curious" or peculiar kind; a servant combining the various qualities expressed by the gold, blue, purple, scarlet and linen. Yes, he was the Royal servant the "messenger (servant) of the covenant."
Over the front part of the ephod was the breastplate; It was suspended by a golden chain from the gold clasp of his shoulders and was fastened to the ephod below by a lacer through golden rings – this fastening being so concealed underneath, that to the observer it might appear to be part of the ephod. This breastplate represents beautifully The Mosaic Law. It is not a part of the Abrahamic covenant "It was added." Gal. 3:18. As the Jew regarded them, not seeing the hidden connection, the covenant to Abraham and "the law which was 430 years after" were all one. But Paul shows that God according to the covenant intended to justify all in his "seed." The Law emblem, was one of the most beautiful of the High Priests garments, made of the same materials as the ephod. It had in it, set in gold, twelve precious jewels, in which were engraved the names of the twelve tribes. It was bound on his heart, indicating that he was able to carry the Law as a covering of his inmost affections and that as a breastplate of righteousness," it covered him. "The Law of his God was in his heart." Psa. 37:31. That which condemned all others was his pleasure, "I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea thy law is within my heart." Psa. 40:8.
This breastplate was two spans long and one wide folded in the middle so it really was a span long and a span wide double. The size – a span indicating that the law was the full measure of a perfect man – his ability. Jesus was the only perfect man who ever kept "The Law." Being double, of the same size and same measure represents the Jewish and Gospel ages. Fastened at the fold or centre to the golden clasps illustrates how his cross – his death – was the dividing point and how we are "justified in him from all things." So that borne by him we are in God's sight justified. It illustrates too what we have found frequently elsewhere taught, viz: That the two ages are of equal size and equal measure." The Jewish, a perfect type or picture of this age.
The breastplate was studded with jewels set in gold representative of the true Israel. "They shall be mine saith the Lord in the day that I come to make up my Jewels." Thus fastened in gold – imbedded spiritually in Jesus we his jewels, have "The righteousness of the Law fulfilled in us." Rom. 8:4. Aaron as he stood forth clothed in these "garments of beauty and glory" was a beautiful figure of our High-Priest who appeared among men clothed by the Father with power and authority, as his representative to carry out his covenant promises.
As he stood there, beside him stood the animals for sacrifice showing that the sacrifices were as much a part of God's pre-arranged plan as the covenants or any other feature. He was anointed with oil as Jesus was "Anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows." "He giveth not the spirit by measure unto him." John saw and bore record that Our [R72 : page 2] High-Priest was thus anointed. (Jno. 1:32, Luke 4:1.) The holy oil was poured upon the head but "ran down even to the skirts of his garments." (Psa. 133:2.) – thus representing how we, the members of his body, are all to be partakers of the same anointing after our head. This oil began to reach the body on the day of Pentecost and flows on down the ages anointing all who are truly his – covered by his robes.
The sons of Aaron – "his house" represents us – "whose house are we" – as they were washed and clothed in a linen coat and girdled, we are taught that if we be of his house we are justified thereby and reckoned of God – Righteous. They had bonnets while Aaron had none, (He wore a mitre on his forehead and a gold crown inscribed "Holiness to the Lord.") Their heads were covered to illustrate that they were not the head, but "under authority;" illustrating how God gave Christ "to be the head over all things to the church which is his body." 1 Cor. 1:22 and 4:15.
Aaron as he stood robed and anointed represented the entire church, head and body – Jesus and his church. "The seed" in whom "all the families of the Earth shall be blessed." They are covered with the covenants and authority of their position and anointed for their work. But remember, – the anointing oil must flow down and cover every member of the body and this requires the entire gospel age for its accomplishment.
This work under the Law (Lev. 8:14-35.) was typical of a work done for and by our High Priest and those who are members of his body or family. It illustrates our entire consecration – how Jesus was obedient, even unto death and how all who are his must be crucified with him.
The bullock for the sin offering was brought "and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head" of it. Thus saying, this sacrifice represents us. From that moment, all that happened to the bullock – represents what was to be done to Jesus, and his body – the church. The bullock is delivered up to "the Law" – (represented by Moses) to meet its demands. To thus meet the demands of the law it must be slain. "And Moses slew it." Then he applies the blood to the horns of the altar. The "finger" of the "Law" thus pointed out that the altar of earthly sacrifices was acceptable to God by reason of the shed blood (the life given), and that all who realize the power of the altar (horns are symbols of power), must recognize first the blood which sanctified it.
The blood poured at the bottom of the altar doubtless represents that through his blood spilt, (life given) even the Earth was purchased back from the curse which sin brought upon it. (See Eph. 1:14. "Unto the redemption of the purchased possession.")
And Moses took the bullock, his hide, flesh, &c., and burnt them with fire without the Camp. (Ver. 17.) Thus Jesus freely gave himself up and submitted to entire destruction of the flesh. Though his flesh was holy, harmless, undefiled, yet he was "made a sin offering on our behalf," (2 Cor. 5:21. "Diaglott") and his flesh suffered the destruction, which otherwise would have come upon all men. And we, if we would be indeed members of his body must share with him the ignominy.
But while the flesh, &c., was destroyed for sin, God accepts of, first, the blood (life), and second, parts of the inward life-producing organism and the fat, representative of love. In the sacrifice God recognizes the love that prompts the sacrifice and though the law took a part and burnt it, yet it must offer the balance as unto the Lord. It shows too that love and obedience to God were the motives that prompted the sacrifice "Lo, I come to do thy will O God, I delight to do thy will O my God."
First as a burnt offering: Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon its head; it represents them. It is killed, its blood sprinkles the altar, and Moses "cut the ram into pieces, and washed the inwards and legs in water," and "burnt the head and the pieces and the fat." Thus Jesus and his church – head and body are being presented during the entire Gospel Age before God on the altar – the head was laid there first, and since all who are "dead with him," (Col. 2:20, and 2 Tim. 2:2) are "cleaned by the washing of water through the word," and are reckoned as with him on the altar before God; its being burnt on the altar shows how God accepts this "as a sweet smelling savor" or perfume.
The second ram – "of consecration" – shows what effect the sacrifice will have upon us, as the first showed how God received it. Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon its head – it represented them. And Moses slew it, and took its blood – (consecrated life) and put it upon each separately – (Consecration is an individual work – we must each stand forth and be consecrated to God.) And he put it upon the tip of the right ear, thumb of right hand and great toe of right foot. Thus by our consecration, we are enabled to have the "hearing of faith" and appreciate God's promises as none but the consecrated can. Our hands are consecrated so that whatsoever our hands find to do, we do it with our might right as unto the Lord. Our feet are consecrated so that henceforth we "walk not as other gentiles," but "walk in newness of life," "walk in the light," and even "as ye received Christ, so walk in him."
The choice portions of the ram, inwards and fat, representing our best powers and all our inward and outward (fat) affections, are taken in our hands, and waved, passed to and fro, before the Lord, representing the fact that a consecrated offering is not given the Lord for the moment, or day, or year, but continually we keep our affections and powers uplifted before our Father never ceasing until accepted of him as having finished our course. And Moses took them off their hands, God's acceptance being shown by fire. Fat probably typifies Love. When the love of our inmost being is laid upon the altar, it helps to increase the fire of God's acceptance. The more love (fat) there is connected with our consecration to God, the more quickly will it be accepted by Him as entire consecration.
Upon this wave offering, while in their hands, was laid three cakes from a basketful which they were to eat (representative of all their bread.) It was necessary that these three – the unleavened cake, the cake mingled with oil, and the wafer made of flour and honey and anointed with oil – should be upon and thus recognized as rendering acceptable our offering. By these we acknowledge Christ, as we present ourselves to the Father; by the first we acknowledge the purity (no leaven) of "The man, Christ Jesus." The second cake mingled with oil shows him as our High-priest, "filled with the Spirit" (oil). The third wafer shows our appreciation of Him as our Glorified Lord. (Wafer made of fine flour mingled with honey, sweets of paradise.)
And upon him as our heavenly food – manna we his priests feed during the gospel age. The cakes were only warmed but not burned – living bread, "of which a man may eat." (God never allowed honey to be used in sacrifice. [Lev. 2:2] There was no leaven in any of these cakes – "He knew no sin.")
The anointing oil mingled with the blood of consecration was sprinkled over them [Ver. 30], showing how we may know that our consecration is accepted. 1 Jno. 5:8, says: "There are three that bear record [witness]: the spirit and the water and the blood, and these three agree in one" [testimony]. And here are the three in the type bearing harmonious testimony that these consecrated ones are accepted in the beloved. Water is the symbol of the "word" ["washing of water by the word."] And in the type Moses takes the place of water as representing "The Law," the oil representing The Spirit, and the blood representing "the price of our peace. So through the word's testimony the blood is applied and with it comes the Spirit – sealing us sons of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord.
The boiling [Ver. 31] of the flesh of consecration was no part of the sacrifice, it was merely the preparing of the portion which they ate. It was all to be disposed of [Ver. 32] showing how we are entirely consecrated and none of our time or powers wasted – all used as consecrated.
The seven days of consecration [Ver. 33 and 35,] shows again that we are consecrated to God's service, not a part of our time only, but all of it, for seven is the complete number in scripture and signifies all or the whole of whatever it is applied to ("Seven Seals," "Trumpets," "Plagues," "Stars," &c.) Vs. 36 shows the completion of the work of consecration.
There never was, perhaps, a time when it was more necessary than the present, for seeing to it that we "be dead with him," and our every ability waved before Him that he may accept and make use of our talents to His glory. Especially is it of interest to us to examine if it be true (as we believe) that very soon all the members of the body will be accepted with the head – a sweet savor, and all the members be consecrated and the work finished. And if we fail to be among the priests now during the time of consecration, we cannot expect to be one with them when they begin their service for the people in the "ages to come" – when these same Priests (now despised of men but a "sweet savor to God.") shall have the title of King added, and with their head – Jesus, rule and bless all nations. Do you wish to be amongst those who shall sing to the praise of our great High Priest? "Thou hast made us unto our God Kings and Priests and we shall reign on the Earth." If so, be fully consecrated now, for "If we suffer with him we shall also reign with him." 2 Tim. 2:12.
Here is a sentiment from a man of God, who was never thought to be either fanatical or heterodoxical: "Any man who does not desire Christian perfection, and who does not constantly make it his aim to attain it, may set it down as demonstrably certain that he has no true religion."
These are the words of Albert Barnes. We hardly know of any more emphatic or radical statement concerning Christian perfection than this. Had it come from some modern preacher of holiness, or "high priest of sanctification," it would have been thought extremely ultra, and inexcusably uncharitable.
The province of faith is to apprehend truth. Truth is independent; error is a perversion of truth. To believe a lie, never makes it true, but is a fraud on one's self. To believe a truth, does not make it true; to disbelieve it, cannot destroy it. It is independent of us, but we are dependent on it.
Truth is the proper food of man (Matt. 4:4.), and a large share of it must be received by faith, whether it pertains to the past, present or future. Thus it is true that we must live by faith. Faith is to truth, as eating is to bread. Without eating, man will die; but if he would have good health, he must do more than eat. Exercise is essential to life. So while we live by faith, it is not by faith alone. All faith and no work, will kill spiritually, as truly as all eating and no work will kill naturally. We greatly value faith, "For without it, it is impossible to please God; he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him," (Heb. 11:6.) We please God when we obey him, and by this means we form a character like His own. In an important sense it is the Christian's life-work to come to God, and success is to the diligent seeker. He is revealed in one sense in the statements of His word, but he is revealed to the heart, when his statements are understood, and the spirit of obedience is essential to understanding. (John 7:17.) We are to grow in grace and in knowledge.
Faith is fundamental; it is the basis of character and life, and also of hope. The death and resurrection of Christ are primary facts of the gospel, and, rightly understood, are a key to the plan of salvation. He was put to death in the flesh and quickened by the Spirit into a new and immortal life. The cross was to him the turning point between the natural and the spiritual. It was thus the key of hope for the world. When He died He met man's legal necessities, or removed all legal encumbrances. He destroyed the enmity between the world and God's law, which enmity was represented in the typical dispensation by the law of carnal ordinances. That law was the "middle wall" between Jew and Gentile – a typical distinction which is not recognized under the gospel. As soon as it is out of the way, the Jew and Gentile are alike before God, and both are reconciled to God by the cross. (Eph. 2:16.) The death of Christ thus met the legal claim on universal man, and secured his deliverance from the legal curse, which was death. Christ arose a conqueror, leading captivity captive. He brought life and immortality to light, as He had also made both possible for man. When He rose, it was the dawn of light on our dark world, the key of hope, a glimpse of immortality. These great facts of the past we receive by faith, and the past and the future are linked together. What has been done for Jesus is God's promise unto us. "He that raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also, by Jesus." (2 Cor. 4:14.) He has given him the key – the power over death, and in addition, "the power of an endless life." (Heb. 7:16.)
Faith is thus shown to be the foundation of hope, and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us." (Rom. 5:5.) We can thus see the relation of faith, hope and love; "the greatest of these is love." Without faith, neither hope or love would be possible; but love, by which faith now works, will continue when faith is ended in sight, and hope has been realized. Faith and hope are temporal, but love is eternal. Faith as a foundation is essential, but without love as a working power, a faith that could even remove mountains is worthless. (1 Cor. 13:2.)
"Through faith we understand that the ages (worlds) were framed by the word of God." These and "all things were made by Him (Christ) and for Him." All that God has done is in reference to the plan of the ages, of which, as we have seen, the death and resurrection of Christ is the key. So by faith we grasp the fullness of Christ in the work of the ages, which is a glorious expression of the infinite wisdom, power and love. "Faith is the substance (basis) of things hoped for; the evidence of things unseen." Faith deals with the future and with the invisible. The future is our hope, our reward; the invisible is our strength for the work of life. It makes the invisible as if it were visible, and the future as if it were present. We are enabled to "look not at the things which are seen, but at the unseen." (2 Cor. 4:18.) Faith explains this paradox, and by the presence of the invisible, strengthens us to bear the afflictions of this life, which are but for a moment, and enables us to lay hold upon the eternal. There are given us in the bible and also in the Christian's experience, many illustrations of the action of faith in reference to the unseen, present and future. The examples of faith given in the eleventh of Hebrews show the combination. They acted because they believed in the invisible God, and because they looked forward for the fulfillment of his word. They believed "that God is, and that He is the rewarder." Faith works; work secures reward. We observe that God did not say to the ancients, "believe." but he gave them something to do; and yet their obedience was the best possible evidence that they did believe, and their faith was approved. By faith Abel offered the sacrifice, which was valuable because it pointed forward to the sacrifice of Christ, for which his body was prepared.
Enoch walked with God; he did not stand still, but walked; grasping by faith the presence and companionship of the invisible God, and was rewarded by translation, "that he should not see death." Abraham obeyed God, on account of his faith, both in going out to the unknown land, and in the offering of his son Isaac. In both cases he grasped the future, seeing Christ and the heavenly country. (John 8:56 and Heb. 11:16.) The Lord's appearing to Abraham and others in human form doubtless illustrated the presence of the invisible.
Moses refused royal honor in the court of Pharaoh, choosing to suffer affliction; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he had respect unto the reward, and endured as seeing Him who is invisible. (Heb. 11:23-27.)
The unseen world is the source of wisdom, strength and comfort to the pilgrims as disciples, as soldiers and as afflicted ones. The ministration of angels, under the all-wise and loving care of our Lord, is a great revealed truth, and full of comfort.
We do not believe in the ministration of departed human spirits, but regard that idea as a perversion of the Bible teaching. The angels are not disembodied men. Man, when created, was "made a little lower than the angels." The angels rule in this world; "but unto the angels hath He not put in subjection the world to come...but what is man that thou art mindful of him?" "Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet." (Heb. 2:5-8.) If angels are disembodied men, the above statement cannot be true, for in such a case the "world to come" would, as well as the present, be subject to angels. While we believe Paul, then we must discard the ministration of human spirits. But angelic ministration is a great and important fact in God's plan for the development of the ruling element of the future world. It doubtless deserves more [R75 : page 3] implicit faith than it often receives. When we are permitted from the standpoint of future glory to look back, we may see how much more fully they served us than we realized. In hours of danger and affliction their services are needed, and freely tendered. Their services might be not only more fully realized, but more common, were they expected. Unbelief, self-confidence and self-protection by foul means, doubtless grieve our angels, "which do always behold the face of our Father in heaven." (Matt. 18:10.) We cannot doubt that in hours of deep affliction, comfort and strength are often experienced, coming from the invisible, though not expected and its source not fully acknowledged. Our Saviour himself in his earth life needed and received the help of angels. In His mental agony, in view of the coming ordeal, while he was in the garden praying that if it were possible the cup might pass from him, and sweating, as it were, great drops of blood, "there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him." (Luke 22:43.) It was not possible for the cup to pass. He must drink it to the very dregs. His life was needed, but it was not enough; He must be obedient unto death, even the death of the cross," and he obeyed. (Phil. 2:8.) He could not escape, but He could receive strength to endure; and it seems that as soon as His help was withdrawn, He died. His death, not the pain He endured, met the legal necessities of the race. "The wages of sin is death." Many followers of Christ have found help in time of need by coming to the throne of grace. He who suffered and was supported by angels is now their Lord, and, as His servants, they now minister to the heirs of salvation. (Heb. 1:14.)
The importance of faith cannot be over-estimated, unless other things of importance are in our estimate crowded out. The past, present and future, we grasp by faith; we work by faith; we live by faith; we walk by faith; we endure by faith, as seeing the invisible; and waiting for our reward, are carried forward, so that all we expect to realize in the eternal life is now, by faith, possessed and enjoyed.
Thanks be to God for the earnest of our inheritance.
The ascending grade of the ages is obvious, each having better secular and spiritual facilities than its predecessors. And – strange infatuation – each has been jealous of the next to come, insisting that it had exhausted infinite mercy, grace and skill. What a lift forward the brief visit of Messiah gave the world. Though so humble, what fertility and power of growth in his gospel, infusing inconceivable vigor in every field of human enterprise and all under hostile gentile authority. What may be expected in the next age, when government shall co-operate with grace? The cross and the crown; Jesus condemned as a felon, mocked, spit upon, and crucified, then crowned and adored King of all the earth, suggest the contrast.
The cross as the representative of the death of Christ and plan of redemption, has always been to the Christian the center of attraction, and to glory in the cross the chief mark of the Christian's joy. The estimate in which it has been held by men in general has marked this line between the Church and the world; so that while the Church clings to it as the ground of all its hopes, it has been to the world the stumblingstone or the butt of contempt. What is precious in the sight of God and the hearts of His chosen, is foolishness to men in general. 1 Cor. 1:22-31.
The value of the cross as the center of interest, the basis of hope and the key of truth is beautifully illustrated by the two equal cherubims, looking inward to the Mercy Seat, where God's presence in mercy appeared; representing, as they do, the equality of the Jewish and Gospel dispensations, between which at the "Fullness of time" our Lord came, and, meeting the claims of both, as the great antitypical Offering, was slain for us. Under the former dispensation those who understood the typical offerings, looked forward to the cross, and in the gospel dispensation we, by faith inspired by the Spirit and aided by the simple ordinances of the gospel, look back to the same central point. There, at the cross, the Church, old and new, meet by faith, and, bowing before Christ, our "Mercy Seat," witness the manifestation of the infinite mercy; for in Christ as the "Mercy Seat," God meets with man, and there they taste the sweets of grace and begin to "rejoice in hope of the glory of God."
To remove from the Bible, if it were possible, the cross of Christ, and its relative teachings would virtually destroy it. He is the golden thread extending through it as a web from end to end, giving it strength, beauty and its real worth. Without him it would be an uninteresting arrangement of words, an empty case, a comb without the honey, a shell without the kernel, or the body without the life; and we, poor, sinful, dying men would pass on without one ray of light or hope to the future, dark and all unknown; and the cross is the center of interest and hope, around which, as bees around the honey, God's people have always clustered, drawing from it their joy, strength and life. The cross is also the key of truth in all that pertains to man, his nature, his life, and his relation to God. It is the basis of the atonement, the resurrection and restitution, and, while it does not of itself secure eternal life to any, it makes that life possible to all. God, in the gospel, provides for man's necessities, both as a sinner and a mortal. Because He was mortal, sin killed him, and "so death passed upon all men." Rom. 5:12. Mankind being dead (so counted even before execution), one died for all. 2 Cor. 5:14. The man Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom for all. 1 Tim. 2:5,6, and so receives the right and power to deliver the captives. Heb. 2:14,15. If the gospel did not provide for man's necessities, it would not be what the angels announced: "Glad tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people." "Testified in due time."
As a treasure-house containing all we need – resurrection from death, pardon for sin, and immortality for our mortality – the gospel becomes a glorious expression of the Father's love. The wisdom, power and love of God are all engaged for man's salvation, and all find expression in the gospel of Christ, the center of which is the cross. We do not take the ground that a perfect knowledge of the relation the cross sustains to the other elements of the gospel is necessary in order to have a share in the benefits of the atoning sacrifice. The primary benefits are universal and unconditional, as was the curse through Adam. "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." It is doubtful, too, if one in ten of the saints of God have even understood that much, and yet they have secured and enjoyed a share in the great and special salvation, by the impartation of the Holy Spirit, the salvation which the atonement makes possible for all. It is not necessary to understand the philosophy of atonement in order to be reconciled to God, any more than it is necessary to understand the science of astronomy in order to enjoy the benefit of the light of the sun. It is, however, the privilege of a child of God to learn all he can of what the Father has revealed. And we freely take the ground that no theory of man's nature, loss in Adam, restitution, hope and destiny, can be true, that ignores or belittles the doctrine of the cross. Such theories dishonor Christ, though not always purposely, and by casting into the shade certain comforting truths of God's great plan, they certainly hide many rays of Father's love, and therefore greatly mar the enjoyment of the Christian's life. As God has revealed nothing in vain, the more perfectly we can see the relation of His various truths, the better we will understand Him, and thus, by sympathy with Him, or rather fellowship of His Spirit, we shall be enabled to cultivate and grow up into the qualities of character most pleasing to Him, and which will best fit us for His purposes here and hereafter.
The doctrine of the cross underlies the doctrine of atonement, or loss in Adam and gain in Christ, both being unconditional, and hence the price or ransom paid by the man Christ Jesus, must determine both the nature and extent of the loss to mankind by Adam. More than was needed would have been useless, and that God's wisdom would not give; less than was needed would not redeem, and God's love could not withhold.
The darkness of the theological dogmas of the Church has doubtless for many reasons cast a mist over the simplicity of the teachings of the cross. Life was the nature and extent of the forfeit of Adam, and in him of all. "For the wages of sin is death." "Dying thou shalt die," was a process culminating in death. "Sin, when it is finished (not when it commences) bringeth forth death." But what kind of death, natural or spiritual? we are asked. The mother church and nearly all, if not all, her daughters answer, spiritual death. The theological writings are full of such teachings. That is nothing new, and for some of us to accept it would be to take a long stride backward.
But to answer the question, "What kind of life," we resort to the Divine key – the cross, and ask, what kind of life did the "man Christ Jesus" lose? That must settle it, and the fog will clear away from all minds who will look at the facts. Mark, it is not, "what kind of life did the pre-existent Word lose (if He lost any) in becoming a man?" for it was the "man Christ Jesus" that gave His life a ransom for all. "He died for our sins." He took man's nature for the express purpose "that He, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man," "Even the death on the cross."
This gives us clearly to understand that it was human life he gave as a [R76 : page 4] ransom. Hence it was the same kind of life that required redemption. It was not in Christ's case a necessity as in the case of a sinner, but by voluntary offering as a Redeemer. Spiritual death is a state of sin. "You hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sin." But Christ was not a sinner, and could not therefore die a spiritual death. In his obedience lay the divine efficacy of the price. Sinners need conversion, but Christ did not, and "As in Adam all die so in Christ shall all be made alive, Christ the firstfruits" &c.
This is evident also from the further statement, "They that are Christ's at his presence" [parousia] Christ's are not then counted but raised to immortality, hence this passage can have no reference to conversion, but is a positive declaration that all mankind will be restored to life by the Lord Jesus Christ.
The ransom paid secures to Christ the power to raise the dead. Life restored is the proper basis of hope, the ground on which man must build, hence the cross is the basis of man's hope of glory. No wonder then that Paul should say: "God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
If Christians are represented as running a race, it is that degree of swiftness which enables them to secure the prize, if, as fighting a battle, it is that ability which secures to them the victory. It is, in short, that preparation which renders them fit for the kingdom.
Some teach that it is the creed, written or otherwise, the articles of faith to which men subscribe, that constitutes that covering. Hence the degree of purity of a man's belief would be the index to his fitness for the kingdom. But it is written, "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord." Such teachers must then define holiness as a perfect theology.
Both sides must agree that the wedding garment is righteousness. The Bible so defines it. Rev. 19:7-8. What then is righteousness? The word means a condition of being right. Humanity naturally is in a condition of being wrong, and because faith has power to change that condition and make them right, it is accounted for righteousness. Thus Abraham was justified by faith, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness. Although, perhaps, not blameless in character at the time, yet Abraham possessed that which would result in holiness, and God counted the work begun in him, as already finished. "To him that worketh not, but believeth in Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted to him for righteousness." Rom. 4:5. That is, the seed sown is viewed in the light of its unfailing results, and the possessor is thus freed from guilt.
Articles of belief differ from faith, In that faith describes a condition of heart as well as mind. The one may produce fruit; the other must. If truth be believed and obeyed, it becomes faith, and is therefore a means of obtaining righteousness. Truth sanctifies, Truth cleanses. It does not cleanse itself, but us. "Now ye are clean through the words I have spoken unto you," said Christ. Hence the cleansing of the church is not the cleansing of its theology, [R76 : page 5] but of its members by means, perhaps, of its theology.
I think the statement not too broad, that the entire purpose of Revelation is to purify, elevate and establish the character of God's children. Truth is the great means used in the attainment of righteousness. The word of God is profitable... that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Tim. 3:17. Thus holiness is still the object and must not be confounded with the means; for truth must be obeyed to make us righteous, and it is not the amount we believe, but the amount we obey that benefits us. Hence we cannot make a man's creed the index to his character, for God above can read the heart.
Christ came to illustrate to our bedimmed conscience the Father's perfection, and in Him is fulfilled all righteousness. Does not His life thus amply define and illustrate the subject? It gives us an idea of what Godliness is, of what God is, of His relations toward us and of what our relations are toward Him and toward our fellow-beings. Righteousness, however, is more than right doing. It is right being, which includes the other, and this is the wedding garment, for "to her it was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints."
This scene is very evidently laid at the end of the gospel dispensation, as it is when the wrath of God is being completed, by the pouring out of the seven last plagues. Without discussing the merits of different views in regard to the Sea of Glass, as it were; and the condition of those who are said to stand on it; I would call attention briefly, to the song.
Some think that by the song of Moses, is meant the song of deliverance, sung by the children of Israel, after crossing the Red Sea, in coming out of Egypt. But notice that the song is as here given. Does it not evidently refer to the harmonious teaching of Moses and Christ, as found in the scriptures; and those who have attained to the condition represented, having learned, they sing to, or teach others? The song, as given in the "Emphatic Diaglott," reads: "Great and wonderful are thy works, O Lord God, the omnipotent! Righteous and true are thy ways, O King of the nations." (Ethnon means nations; not saints, as in the authorized version.)
Who shall not fear, O Lord, and glorify thy name since thou alone art bountiful? for all the nations shall come and worship in thy presence; because thy righteous acts were made manifest. The Greek word rendered judgments, in the fourth verse, by King James' translators, is not Krisis nor Krima, which are rightly rendered Judgment; but Di-Kaiomata, properly rendered, righteous acts.
It occurs in Rev. 19:8. "The fine linen is, or represents the righteous acts of the saints. The force and beauty of the expression: For his righteous acts are made manifest, is seen, when we remember that the great mass of the gospel church, for centuries have taught, and the majority are teaching that the nations, except a comparatively few individuals, have been "turned into hell," in a condition of hopeless misery, without even having the gospel preached to them, giving them an opportunity to repent, and thus escape the awful doom.
Such teaching makes God appear very unrighteous; and has driven the multitudes of those who have heard it away from God; and the Bible. Even if the sentence be eternal death, as many believe, still it has been without a knowledge of truth. But now many have learned, and many more will learn, and teach, the glorious song of Moses and Christ: That all nations shall come and worship in the presence of God; thus manifesting the righteousness of him: "Who so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." Before they can believe they must hear. Rom. 10. The billions who have died in ignorance must be made alive before they can hear; hence God will have all men to be saved made alive, and to come to a knowledge of the truth: For there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 1 Tim. 2:4,6.
"Perfect love is gentle and teachable, kind, and easy to be entreated. It enters the school of Christ, as a pupil, not as a master, realizing how much is yet to be learned, rather than how much has been attained. Perfect love shows us our ignorance and begets the inextinguishable desire to dissipate that darkness, and to enter the realm of real and reliable knowledge. If you find yourself growing wise above all your teachers, inclined to become dogmatic, to criticise your fellow disciples and set yourself up as a standard for the whole church, you have no little reason to fear that you are not controlled by the Spirit of God. Self-wisdom may easily assume the place of divine wisdom; and Satan may appear as an angel of light even in one who concerns himself with the most holy things. In no way are his ends more effectually secured than by inducing people to promote the subject of holiness by exceptional methods, and in an unteachable and arrogant spirit."
"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Rom. 5:8.
That "God is love" and unchangeable we believe to be prime facts of the gospel; and that man alone is alienated and needs reconciliation. The death of Christ was not for the purpose of purchasing God's love: it is above price; nor for the purpose of appeasing – quieting, pacifying, or cooling down – God's wrath, as though he were excited and hated man, but by meeting a necessity of man, in his relation to a broken law, to express God's love for man. It is a great mistake to think that God ever did, or ever will hate man. God devised the plan, provided the Ransom, and sent his Son to die for us, because he loved us. [John 3:16.] This is one great fact the world needs to know.
Love appreciated will produce love in return. "We love him because he first loved us." Then God loved us when we knew him not and even though we hated him. Parents and teachers, beware! If you tell those under your care, that God will love them if they are good, you make the impression on their minds that he will hate them if they are bad, which is false. By such means you make the wall higher, or the gulf deeper between them and the Lord, and though, you may, through fear, succeed in driving them to outward obedience, or gather them into the nominal church, by a "profession of religion," they may be as far from God as before, for only the goodness of God leadeth to repentance. Had we the power of ten thousand voices, we would proclaim, that God loved us while we were yet sinners, and Christ died to commend that love.
"But," it is sometimes said, "you must believe it, Christ died for you, if you will believe." Indeed! Believe what? Believe that Christ died for you, of course. But if it is not true, I have no right to believe it, and my believing would not make it true. On the other hand, its being a fact that Christ died for me, is the best possible reason for believing it, and all the unbelief possible could not make it untrue. Truth is entirely independent of man's faith or unbelief, Faith in or knowledge of, a fact cannot make, or change, the fact, but it changes the man.
God loves us whether we believe it or not, and Christ died for us whether we believe it or not, but the knowledge of these truths must exist, before gratitude and love can spring up in our hearts, and loving obedience result. Whatever facts or changes were produced by the death of Christ, are real, and not dependent on our believing, any more than is the fact that Christ died. If it be true, [as some teach, but which we do not believe] that the death of Christ secures spiritual life for some, we think it would follow of necessity that it would secure it for all, because Christ died for all. 2 Cor. 5:14,15. Heb. 2:9 and 1 Tim. 2:6.
While the death of Christ does not secure spiritual life for any, it makes it possible for all, and on account of man's relation to the law, as dead, without Christ's death spiritual life would not be attainable.
Repentance is a necessity in order to gain spiritual life, and without the motive of love, as presented to us in the death of Christ, repentance toward God would be impossible. But neither God's love, nor Christ's death, produce repentance in man, until man believes in the love and death. Hence God's love would be fruitless, were men allowed to remain in ignorance of the truth. God's love does not exhaust itself in the death of Christ, though that death commends it, for God has constituted Christ not only the Redeemer but the Light of the world. He engaged not only to save man from death by a Ransom, but to bring man to the knowledge of that truth. 1 Tim. 2:4. Hence Christ is the "True light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world." John 1:9. Not all at once nor in one age, but, it is "to be testified in due time." 1 Tim. 2:6.
Now it is evident, that man cannot repent, because of a truth, until he knows that truth, and yet when known, the truth is the "Foundation of repentance from dead works." The greatest possible sin is to "sin willfully, after we have received the knowledge of the truth;" and for this there remaineth no more sacrifice." Heb. 10:26, and it is impossible "to renew them again unto repentance; seeing, they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame." Heb. 6:4,6.
But how does the death of Christ show, or commend, God's love? It will not do to say it shows it because it shows it. That would be about equal to saying, God hates sin because he hates it, which is no reason at all. God hates sin because he loves his creatures; sin being their destroyer. If the death of Christ shows God's love to us, there must be something accomplished by that death which is adapted to man's necessities. Paul is talking of Christ's death on the cross, which was in "due time," i.e. the appointed time – "After the 62 weeks." Dan. 9:26.
Christ did not die twice. His becoming a man, was not by laying down, as in death, his preexistent life. He gave up the glory, and afterward prayed: "Glorify thou me, [R77 : page 6] with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." John 17:5.
We assert freely that Christ's death must have been; in some way adapted to the necessity of human nature, or it would not have been, what Paul asserts, an expression, or proof of God's love. What man does not need, even if it were provided, would not be gospel. If a man is hungry, bread alone would satisfy the want. If he thirsts, a cup of water from the hand of a friend would be an expression of love. And so of any want; but to say that God would seek to show his love by anything which was of no use to man, would be to ignore every idea of the harmony between God's wisdom and goodness.
There can be no doubt in any reasonable Christian mind, that the Gospel, in all its parts, takes man's need into account. Christ's life was necessary, as an example of loyalty, of patience in suffering, of devotion to his Father, of the principle of love even to enemies, and of overcoming evil with good. It was by his earth life and experience, that he learned to sympathize with man in temptations, in poverty and other afflictions, and so he was fitted to be a merciful and faithful Highpriest; having been tempted in all points as we are, and yet without sin. Heb. 4:15. And one feature of his work since his resurrection, clearly is, to give us the benefit of his former experience, by giving aid to the tempted. (Heb. 2:18.) He is not only a sympathizing friend, but also the giver and sustainer of spiritual life until it culminates in immortality. We wish it distinctly understood that we value the life of Christ, both before his death and after his resurrection as necessarily adapted to the wants of human nature. But why should any one ignore or belittle his death because of the value of his life? One link in the chain of provisions for man would thus be destroyed.
But we are told by some, that Christ "gave his life (not his death) a ransom." But this is equivalent to the statement, "Christ died for our sins." The Greek word, Psuchee, rendered "life" in the above passage, never, unless we are greatly mistaken, refers to a period of existence, but to the nature of man as represented and sustained by the blood. Many other statements of the word agree with these in showing that Christ's death meets a necessity of man. "Behold the Lamb of God, (lamb led to the slaughter. Isa. 53:7.) which taketh away the sin of the world." John 1:29.
The sin of the world is the sin of Adam, for "in him all have sinned." Rom. 5:12 Margin. This left man "without strength." (Ver. 6.) "And in due time Christ died for the ungodly." The sin made mankind "enemies," and we were "reconciled to God by the death of his Son." Ver. 10. "God laid on him the iniquity of us all." Isa. 53:6. And he "bore our sins on his own body [R78 : page 6] on the tree." 1 Pet. 2:24. He did not "lead" our sins, but is our Leader, or "Forerunner," into the heavenlies, and "he put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." Heb. 9:26. "And I, if I be lifted up from the Earth, will draw all men unto me." And, as if to anticipate, and answer criticisms, it is added: "This he said, signifying what death he should die." John 12:32,33. It seems clear, that the sacrifice of Christ, covers all sin, except what Paul calls the willful sin. Heb. 10:26. And doubtless this is why the Saviour could say: "All manner of sin and blasphemy SHALL BE FORGIVEN unto men, but the blasphemy, against the Spirit, shall not be forgiven unto men." Matt. 12:31. It does not say may be forgiven, but shall be. What! Without repentance? No, but God, as has been shown, by his goodness leadeth men to repentance. The death of Christ commends his love, Christ as the Light brings men to the knowledge of the truth, and thus the goodness secures repentance.
It is strange that any person, thus saved from the curse of sin and death, should sin willfully and be lost, but we believe that facts as well as scripture sustain the idea that men fall away after being enlightened.
Dead men need a Redeemer; Christ gave his life a Ransom. (The reason that men die, though Christ's natural life was given as a Substitute, is because men in the plan were counted dead already, and Christ did not give his life to prevent men from dying but to prevent them from remaining dead, or to redeem them from death.) Man is a sinner; Christ saves from sin. Man is mortal, even when redeemed; (except the church, who are raised a spiritual body.) Christ is the Author and Giver of immortality. Man is ignorant – in darkness: Christ is the true light, both as Teacher and our great Example. Man is weak and readily discouraged: Christ is a sympathizing friend. All fullness we find in him, just what men need is provided and no more; more would not be gospel, though provided. An appreciation of his fullness, tends to humility and to dependence on him, but whoever ignores any feature of Christ's work, in that particular overestimates himself and is in danger.
Oh, that God's love may speedily win many from sin unto holiness, and lead them to seek, by a patient continuance in well doing, for glory and honor and immortality. To such the reward of eternal life is promised. Rom. 2:7.
"How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?" – HEB. 2:3.
This question is addressed to Christians, and not to the unconverted, as is often supposed. This the context proves. Paul, or whoever wrote this epistle, addressed it to the church. It seems peculiarly adapted to converted Jews, who were familiar with the writings of the Old Testament. We have in this epistle some of the most earnest exhortations to be faithful to the Lord, and the very best reasons and motives given for our encouragement. The text and context are of this character. If we are Christians we will find much applicable to us. It is important that we should, in order to get the benefit of the exhortation, remember that it means us. "How shall we escape, if we neglect?" On account of certain facts referred to in the first chapter, the second opens with: "Therefore, we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip." This certainly must refer to Christians; and there is danger of losing what we have received, unless we do give heed.
The idea is suggested that neglect of the truths would cause them gradually to slip away from us. Backsliding is a gradual process, caused by neglect of truth and neglect of duty in obeying the truth. These are related to each other, and it seems that either may come as the cause of the other. The only safeguard against back-sliding and consequent falling away if persisted in, is to advance. Standing still seems to be impossible. In the sixth chapter the apostle seems to make falling away the alternative of going on to perfection. The Lord has arranged our life as a current against which we must row if we would go up, and he has placed the reward, the Great Salvation, at the head of the stream. If we would gain the prize, we must "run," "strive," "fight," or "overcome." If we fold our arms, we shall glide downward. It is easy to go with the multitude, but it is difficult to stem the flood, and we may be sure, "This vile world is not a friend to grace; to help us on to God." What is worth having is worth striving for, and God has in both natural and spiritual things placed the valuable out of sight, or where it can be gained with difficulty. Our appreciation of the value of anything is shown by the earnestness with which we strive for it. We should be constantly seeking to know more of the truth of God for the purpose of obeying it. If we seek for truth merely as a theory to gratify our own curiosity, or for the purpose of showing our ability to cope with those who hold error, our intellect may be stuffed at the expense of our affections. Religion without love to both God and man, is as the body without the spirit – dead.
Charity or love is the crowning excellency of Christianity, and is necessary to fit for the Great Salvation. "Add to your faith; virtue, and to virtue, knowledge; to knowledge, temperance; to temperance, patience; to patience, godliness; to godliness, brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness, CHARITY." 2 Pet. 1:5-7. Love is last, and greatest. These additions secure the abundant entrance into the Kingdom of God. (Ver. 11.) Without the last all is vain. "Though I speak with the tongue of men and angels and have not love I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have (the gift of) prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains and have not love, I AM NOTHING." 1 Cor. 13:1,2. There is a kind of knowledge that cannot be gained from books, but comes by experience as a fruit of the indwelling of the spirit of God. "He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love."
Love is an experience, and includes in it an earnest desire for the well-being of the object loved. Until we have sympathy and love for mankind, such as would prompt us to do all in our power for their salvation, we cannot know God. To know him thus is to be in unison or fellowship with him, and hence is eternal life. page 6
"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days (gospel dispensation) spoken unto us by His Son." Heb. 1:1,2. God spoke then, and the same God speaks now, but there is a contrast in the agencies – Then by the prophets, now by His Son. Moses the prophet and law giver of the old dispensation, and who was "faithful in all his house as a servant" (3:5) "received the law by the disposition of angels." Acts 7:53. It was "ordained by angels in the hand of a Mediator." (Moses, type of Christ.) Gal. 3:19. But Christ, the Prophet and Law Giver of this dispensation, is higher than the angels, "as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they." Ver. 4. His official position is "Lord of all," dead and living, Heavens and Earth, angels and men. He has been "appointed" by his Father, "heir of all things" – Creator, Upholder and Saviour. Ver. 2,3. He has the brightness of his Father's glory and the express image of his person, and hence is in a peculiar and emphatic sense, God's power, page 7 Wisdom, Love and Word, the embodiment of all the fullness of the Godhead. His superiority to the angels is well established and is the basis of the superiority of the gospel dispensation. While Moses was faithful as a servant over the house of servants, Christ was faithful as a Son over the house of sons. Ch. 3:5,6.
"For unto which of the angels said he at any time, thou art my Son;...And again I will be to him a Father and he shall be to me a Son;" And again he saith, "Let all the angels of God worship him." Ch. 1:5,6.
Of the angels he saith; "Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire." "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister to the heirs of Salvation?" Ver. 7,14. But unto the Son he saith, "Thy throne, Oh God is forever and ever."...And "Thou Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundations of the Earth, and the Heavens are the work of thy hands; they shall perish, but thou remainest, &c." This certainly refers to the old creation, as it was "in the beginning" or first stage of its existence, and is to be changed also by his power and put on its beautiful garments of the perfect state. The work of Creation in all its parts is of God through Christ. "In the beginning was the Word" and by him God spake and it was done commanded and it stood fast.
The same Word was made flesh Jno. 1 but was still "God – manifest in the flesh" and in the body prepared became a sacrifice for sin. And the same mysterious Name "which no man knoweth but he himself" – "The Word of God," goeth forth conquering and to conquer, when his army of assistants are with him, "Kings and Priests" to reign on the Earth." Rev. 5:10 and 19:11-15.
The value of the Great Salvation which is offered in the gospel can be appreciated when we remember that all the Father gives his son, the Son will share with his Bride. And in view of the superiority of the Lord Jesus the question of the apostle can be appreciated; "If the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward, how shall we (under Christ) escape if we neglect so Great Salvation?
Make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way: but let it rather be healed." – HEB. 12:13.
Such is the command of the apostle; but there is evidently a careless disregard of it among many of the professed Christians of to-day, as is shown by their lives and testimony. When we see those who profess to be followers of Jesus joining in the world's pleasures, and clad in the world's garments, we are led to believe that they have little care as to the paths they are making, and whether younger Christians coming after them will be turned out of the way, or established in the way, by their example. 'Tis true they are often heard to confess their sinfulness – their wanderings and short-comings; but seldom are they heard to warn others of the dangers that lurk by the way. They are never heard to tell the new-born soul to beware; that they should not love the world, but should come out, and be forever separate from it – from its sinful fashions and pleasures. No, we do not hear this; but we do hear these worldly-conformed professors ridiculing the very idea of plain dress for Christians; and with all their might do they uphold church fairs, festivals, parties, etc., laughing to scorn any who desire to lift their voices against them. Thus the crooked paths are being made, and scores of precious souls are being turned out of the way by those who should be "lights in the world."
Take the evil of fashionable dress – that great and deadly evil, which is so fatal to spiritual life, and which is a ruling passion, and especially the besetting sin of the female heart. Oh, for a voice like a trumpet, to sound forth words of warning to my sisters in the churches. Are we adorned with the "modest apparel which becometh women professing godliness?" Let us look well to the paths we are making in this matter. It is so easy for some new-born soul to be turned out of the way by our examples. Some weak one who has just begun to look to us to see what we do, and how we dress.
It is only since his divine form has arisen before my soul, that I have learned to know the true condition of man. Formerly, by comparing myself with what was small, I appeared great in my own eyes; but since I have compared myself with him, how insignificant have I become. When we hear a man whom we feel to be truthful and humble speaking great things of himself, it has a humiliating effect upon us. And when the Savior utters such words as, "I do always those things that please him" and I do believe it to be in very truth that he utters this – I then become conscious of what man, who is created in the image of God, ought to be.
When I see how, in all things, he sought not his own glory, but that of his heavenly Father, I am ashamed of my ambition; when I see how he came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, I am ashamed of my pride; when I see how he took the cup which his Father gave him and drank it, I am ashamed of my disobedience; when I see how he bore the contradiction of sinners against himself, and when he was reviled, reviled not again, I am ashamed of my impatience and my passion. Nothing has so subduing an influence as my Savior's example. – A. Tholuck.
The news of Bro. Storrs death (Dec. 28th, 1879,) reached us too late for insertion in last issue. As then stated our brother had just entered his 84th year and was quite ill. He was we believe a "faithful servant," and will soon "enter into the joys of our Lord." We mourn the loss of a friend and brother in Christ yet, "not as those who have no hope." The great Deliverer, is at hand and assures us "I have the keys, of death and Hades."
"There are three that bear record in Heaven; the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one." – 1 John 5:7.
In Lange's Critical Commentary, in reference to this passage we read: Said words are wanting in ALL THE GREEK CODICES; also in the CODEX SINAITICUS [the oldest existing MSS] AND IN ALL THE ANCIENT VERSIONS, INCLUDING THE LATIN, as late as the 8th century; and since that time they are found in three variations. Notwithstanding the Trinitarian controversies they are NOT REFERRED TO BY A SINGLE GREEK FATHER OR BY ANY OF THE OLD LATIN CHURCH FATHERS.
In Hudson's Greek and English concordance we read: "The words are found in no Greek MSS. before the 15th or 16th century, and in no early version, unless, says Alford, pure caprice is to be followed in the criticism of the sacred text; there is not a shadow of reason for supposing them genuine. Tischendorf says, that this spurious addition should continue to be published as a part of the epistle, I regard as an impiety, etc.; and President T. B. Woolsey: "Do not truth and honesty require that such a passage should be struck out of our English Bibles; a passage which Luther would not express in his translation, and which did not creep into the German Bible until nearly fifty years after his death?"
Dr. Adam Clarke, the learned Methodist commentator, in his notes on this passage, says: "It is likely this verse is not genuine. It is wanting in every MS. of this epistle written before the invention of printing, one excepted – condex motfortii, in Trinity College, Dublin; the others which omit this verse amount to one hundred and twelve. It is wanting in both the Syriac, all the Arabic, Ethiopic, the Coptic, Sahidic, Armenian, Slavonian, &c.; in a word, in all the ancient versions but the Vulgate; and even of this version many of the most ancient and correct MSS. have it not. It is wanting, also, in all the ancient Greek Fathers; and in most even of the Latin....To make the whole more clear, that every reader may see what has been added, I shall set down these verses, with the inserted words in brackets:
"6. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7. For there are three that bore record [in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one. 8. And there are three that bear witness on earth.] the Spirit, and the water, and the blood, and these three agree in one. 9. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater," &c. Any man may see on examining the words that if those included in brackets, which are wanting in the MSS., and versions be omitted, there is no want of connection; and as to the sense, it is complete and perfect without them, and, indeed, much more so than with them. I shall conclude this part of the note with observing, with Dr. Dodd, "That there are some intervals and accidental remarks which may render the passage suspected, for the sentence is complete, and the sense more clear and better preserved without it. Besides, the Spirit is mentioned, both as a witness in heaven and on earth; so that the six witnesses are thereby reduced to five, and the equality in number or antithesis between the witnesses in heaven and on earth is quite taken away. Besides, what need of witnesses in heaven? No one there doubts that Jesus is the Messiah, and if it be said that Father, Son, and Spirit are witnesses on earth, then there are five witnesses on earth, and none in heaven; not to say that there is a little difficulty in interpreting how the Word or the Son can be a witness to him.
Christians are in the habit of looking at "the law" as a great enemy. Why? Because it does not countenance the least sin. It says, "walk before me and be thou perfect." Is that not right – could a perfect God recognize or make a law in any way imperfect? Surely not. The reason men count the law their enemy is that all have sinned, and ever since the disobedience of Adam they have been in the condition known as "sinful flesh." Prior to sin's entrance, the law was Adam's friend, and justified him; but the condition of death obtained after "sin had entered," and man in this fallen condition of death finds it utterly impossible to so live and act in harmony with his maker, that God's perfect law would not condemn him. And since all are sinners, of course none but a defective law could recognize such persons as perfect. The law of God has condemned all, and every one who has reasoning faculties seems to recognize that he is not perfect.
God has always had a law; even before the giving of it in full form to mankind at Mt. Sinai. (Exod. 20.) And since He always has been perfect, His laws always have been perfect and condemned and opposed even the slightest sin. Abel, Noah, Abraham and all the patriarchs recognized the fact that they were sinners when they made altars and sacrificed thereon, before attempting to hold communion. Thus they acknowledged themselves sinners and unable of themselves to approach God. How different from the way Adam and God walked and talked in the Garden! No sacrifices or offerings for sin were there needed, for Adam was justified by God's law. Thus we see that what the patriarchs knew of God's law condemned them. The giving of the full law from Sinai did not take away man's sin. No, it only showed it the more fully. Did the keeping of it ever justify any of them? No; "By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in His (God's) sight." Was the fault in the law, or in the people? "The law is holy," and God's commandments holy and just and good." (Rom. 7:12.) Since, then, the law did not justify them, it must have condemned them, even as it had condemned the patriarchs. Not any more really (for there is only one penalty – death) but more loudly. They were no more sinners than the patriarchs and others who had not had the full law given them, but they were shown their condition as sinners more clearly. Why? That they might see their own fallen and imperfect condition and learn the exceeding sinfulness of SIN. (Vs. 13.)
We have seen that God always has had a perfect law which condemned every sin in every being, and how it was shown in different degrees to the patriarchs and Israel, yet that the effect was the same – condemnation – only more fully realized by those who saw the law most clearly. Now, how about the great heathen world? Surely a righteous law could not say: The heathen are RIGHTEOUS; unless they live in harmony with God. And if you thought they were living in harmony with God you would not send missionaries to them. No. Then they, too, are condemned by God's law. And as Paul says: "These that have not the law" (the full written law as given to Israel) "show the work of the law written in their hearts," a spark of that principle if justice and knowledge of right and wrong which must have been an important part of the natural organization of the first perfect man, Adam; a spark merely, not quite extinguished by the degrading effects of sin. And what did this spark of conscience do for them? It sometimes justified, and sometimes condemned. But if their spark of conscience condemned them only ONCE during their lifetime, it showed that they were imperfect.
Now, "all unrighteousness is sin," and "sin is the transgression of the law," and "the wages of sin is death." So we see that the only voice of the law of God to any who hear it, is: You cannot live. "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Therefore must "every mouth be stopped and all the world become guilty before God." (Rom. 3:9.)
There lay the whole human family dead and dying through sin, the law hanging up before them, they admit, is grand, "just" and "holy." They were told that "The man that doeth these things shall live." (Rom. 10:5. Gal. 3:12.) But O, they could not do them. Some tried hard, as Paul describes, Rom. 7:14-24. When with their minds they resolved to "do those things and live," they found sin in their members hindering and preventing. When the striving ones found they could not deliver themselves from death, they exclaimed: "Wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Diaglott) or, from the sin and death which has gotten possession of my body. When he so cries out, he has reached the place God wanted to bring him to, i.e., to realize that he can NEVER deliver himself from death and sin. But some one asks: If he dies does not the act of dying fill all the requirements of the law, and could he not, after thus dying, be raised up by God? No, you err in supposing that the act of dying is the penalty. Man has been dying ever since sin entered the world, but the penalty will not be entirely inflicted until all are dead. But when will the law of God release the sinner from the bondage of death? Never; if he could not obey the law while partially dead he certainly cannot when completely so. Ever since the "fall" from perfect manhood through sin, man has been in a dying condition, sometimes spoken of as already dead (see Matt. 8:22.) And none but a perfect man could keep a perfect law. But, says one, did not God send his Son into the world to show us how we could work our way up to spiritual life – appearing among us on the lowest round of the ladder, did He not point out to us the way; he being thus "our forerunner?"
This view in many respects is held by a great many, mostly "Unitarians" and "Universalists" and like many other views has a mixture of truth in it; but as a whole is far from being "the truth" on this subject. Jesus did indeed "lay aside the glory which he had with the Father, before the world;" He did appear to "set us an example that we should follow in his footsteps" and to be "our forerunner," but more, he is also our "Redeemer" from the curse of the Law – the curse of the law upon us as sinners is death. How did he redeem us from death? To redeem us to purchase back. He therefore is said to have "bought us with his own precious blood." Blood represents life – "The life of the flesh is in the blood" (Lev. 17:11) therefore shed blood represents death or sacrificed life. "He gave his life," "He shed his blood;" "He tasted death;" all have the same meaning. But how could his life purchase or redeem or buy ours? He as a man, was a perfect man, kept the perfect law perfectly; therefore the same law which was the sinners enemy condemning us to death, was his friend and guaranteed to him life. But was he not born into the world under condemnation of death, as much as any other son of Adam? No, he was not the son of Adam, but a direct creation of God – "made in the likeness of sinful flesh," but "in him was no sin." If he had done sin or been born a sinner, his life would have been forfeited as was the first Adam's and ours. If a sinner he would be obliged to die for himself and consequently would have nothing to give as a ransom for ours. But he was perfect, kept the law, had a right to perfect natural life forever; "But for the joy set before him," by the promise of the Father to raise him from the dead a spiritual body, he renounced the natural life and gave it for our ransom.
But when he arose from death, was not that a taking back of the price? It would, if he had taken back the same life (perfect-natural) which he laid down; but he did not take back the natural; he was quickened by the Spirit – "made a quickening spirit," raised a spiritual body." There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body.
Thus "by his precious (valuable) blood" (life), we were "redeemed from the curse of the law" – death. To what kind of life were we redeemed? The same which man had before death (the curse) came; the same kind that he gave for us, i.e., perfect natural life. But we are promised spiritual life, and that we shall be made like unto Christ's glorious body? Yes; it is a part of God's offer to us (during the Gospel age), that if we die to earthly and fleshly – natural – life, we may be reckoned as "members of his body," and partake of the same kind of life as our Head. In this arrangement, we are reckoned as being (with all the rest of mankind) justified to the perfect natural life first, else we could not give our lives; but being justified to life, Jesus says to us, you can either have this natural life, or, if you will renounce this natural, as I did, and become dead to the world, you shall have instead, the spiritual life and body. "If we be dead with Christ, we shall live with him." Rom. 6:4-8. It is a faithful saying: "For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him; if we suffer, we shall also reign with him." 2 Tim. 2:11. "Ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings." 1 Pet. 4:13. "Joint heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." Rom. 8:17.
And it is because God thus waits until the elect number, the bride, the body, the Church, has "filled up the measure of the sufferings of Christ, which are behind," that the times of "restitution of all things," purchased for the world by the blood of Christ, are delayed and yet future. The Head suffered and died 1800 years ago; but all of the suffering and death of the body are not yet completed. Not noticing this, has caused wonder on the part of almost all, that the benefits and results of the ransom have not sooner come. (See type, "Scape Goat," &c., in next Number.)
But would it be right for God to reckon the one righteous life given, as a full payment for the lives of the millions of sinners who have died? Does not the price – one, for a billion or more – seem like a short payment? This is a reasonable question, and we will allow Paul to give it a reasonable answer. He is a logical reasoner, as well as an inspired Apostle, and argues that, as God had seen proper to condemn all men to death on account of Adam's disobedience, so he had a right to reckon the second Adam a representative man, and justify to life all the race, in return for the sacrifice of this one perfect life.
"For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." "Therefore as by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation," (condemned to suffer the penalty of sin – death,) "even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification to life." (Remember that we do not now enjoy life; our condition is a dying one.) "Dying thou shalt die" was the penalty pronounced on Adam (margin). The condition of perfect life as it was enjoyed before death came, is what all men are justified to, by the obedience of "Jesus Christ who, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man."
"For as in Adam (or by Adam's sin) all die, so "in Christ (or by Christ's obedience, &c.) shall all be made alive. As the first Adam's bride was a party to the sin, so we see the second Adam's bride is made a party with her Lord in the removing of the curse. Oh glorious plan, of our all wise and loving Father, and "the exceeding riches of his grace toward us, in Christ Jesus."
But says one, I thought that Jesus had nullified, set aside and destroyed the law; and that therefore mankind could approach God. Oh no, that was a great mistake. Would it not be strange indeed if the Father made a law, which we have seen was "just" and "holy" and in fact the only one he could give because he could not make an imperfect law; would it seem proper even to think of Jesus as setting aside and destroying that "just" and "holy" law, or in any way making a league with sin or sinners? No, no. He came to do the Father's will and the law was the record of it. He kept it himself and taught the true meaning of it to be higher than the letter, and that to be "angry with a brother without a cause" was to violate the command "Thou shalt not kill." No, says Paul: "Christ magnified the law (made it larger and more minute) and made it honorable," showed in fact that, that law could not be set aside nor broken.
But we read, "Christ is the end of the law." What can that mean? The trouble is you have not quoted the connections. The text reads: "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." (Rom. 10:5.) To whom is he this? To the believers – the members of his body. How? Righteously, not by breaking it, but by righteously fulfilling its requirements (and we in Him are just before the law.) Another similar text reads: "There is therefore" (because we in Him are reckoned dead to the world and alive toward God through Him – our new life) "now no condemnation to them which are IN Christ Jesus." Why are those in Christ not condemned? Because, since coming into Him by faith they have received of His spirit, and with Him can say "I delight to do thy will O, my God: yea, thy law is within my heart." (Ps. 11:8.) They are then alive spiritually though yet living in the dead body of sinful flesh which they are opposed to, and which by the holy spirit given they are enabled to "crucify," &c. These walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit, and to all so walking in Christ there is no condemnation from the law. And we may add none can so live and walk except they have recognized their ransom, come into Christ and received of His spirit.
And in the glorious millennial age, when all shall know God from least to greatest, when "The knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth;" – "The times of restitution" – there will be the same "holy and just" law, and under the "Royal Priesthood" after the order of Melchisedec (the order of an endless life,) poor fallen humanity will be helped back again to that perfect condition from whence Adam fell; a condition in harmony with God's law, and therefore in harmony with God.
But will they receive no punishment for misdeeds of the present life? They will receive punishment, "stripes, &c.," in proportion as they had light and lived contrary to it. As our Master explained: "It shall be more tolerable for Sodom, &c.," in the day of judgment (in the age of trial) than for the Jews, to whom He spoke, because the Sodomites had less light. (Matt. 2:24.) There will be many or few "stripes," in proportion to the amount of light they have had and the use made of it.
There will be rewards given to some during that age also; "for whosoever shall give to one of these little ones (of 'little flock') a cup of cold water, only in the name of a disciple, shall in no wise lose his reward." (Matt. 10:42.) And when the King shall sit "on the throne of his glory," (during the millennial age), some will be rewarded for having ministered to the members of His body. "Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these," (in the throne) "ye did it unto me." (Matt. 15:40 [Matt. 25:40 - site Editor].)