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.|
This exclamation by Pilate (Jno. 19:5) concerning Jesus, seems to express his admiration of the perfect man. Pilate saw that "for envy" the Jews had delivered Jesus up to death, and Roman though he was, and alien and stranger to the covenants and promises – without God – yet he had sufficient justice in his nature to cause him to shrink from taking the life of so noble a specimen of humanity; yet he as governor, must keep the peace of the country, and preserve the good will of the people.
Thinking that by scourging him the clamor would cease, he did so, and declared that he found no cause of death in him, and would let him go. But when the people cried out the more – "Crucify Him!" he brought Jesus forth before them, as though thereby he expected to move to reverence the stony-hearted crowd, and exclaimed, "Behold the Man!" as though he would say to them: Could you really put to death such a man?
And as we look back, every action of his life, from first to last, marks Him as THE man, "one above all others." When first brought before the governor, charged with claiming to be a king, Pilate seems to have been so much impressed with His personal appearance and majesty that for a time he was almost a convert, and inquires: "Art thou a king, then?" Our grandest conceptions, we believe, fall far short of the reality when we try to picture to ourselves what none of us have ever seen – a perfect man. There he stands, the embodiment of physical, mental and moral perfection. – "BEHOLD THE MAN."
But not before Pilate only, does He thus appear to tower above all other men. As a child, when among the Doctors of the Law, He was a marvel. When a man, as a natural leader, He had but to say, "Follow Me," and His disciples forsook their nets and obeyed. As a teacher, the common people and Israelites in whom there was no guile, heard Him gladly, for "He taught them as one having authority," and they said, "Whence hath this man this wisdom?" How His superior mental acumen shone out when the Scribes and Pharisees sought to catch Him in His words, and were defeated with their own argument – "Why tempt ye me? [It is utter folly for imperfect men to seek or expect to entrap the perfect one.] Give me a penny. Whose image and superscription is this upon it?" They answer, "Caesar's." He said, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's." No wonder that they marveled at such an answer, and thousands who have read it since have marveled, and said: "Whence hath this man this wisdom?"
Even the soldiers, when about to take Him in the Garden, were so worked upon by the majesty of His presence, that like as wild beasts shrink from the eye of their keepers, these went backward, and fell to the ground, and could not take Him until "He gave Himself" into their hands. No; they had often, during the three and a half years of His ministry, "sought to take Him, but could not, because His hour was not yet come." This influence and power was not exercised over the poor and unlearned soldiery only, but also over the learned and noble, for when the rulers and Pharisees had sent certain of their number to take Him, they returned without Him. In reply to their question – "Why have ye not brought Him?" – the answer was: "Never man spake like this man." Why was there this difference between Jesus and all other men? Because, we answer, all other men have had their mental, moral and physical power impaired by sin, some more and some less, according as sin has gained more or less control of each.
Adam, the head of our race, was created a perfect man – perfect mentally, morally and physically. Not that he had ever yet tried or used these perfect qualities, but still he possessed them, and could, as time and opportunity presented, make use of them. He was what phrenologists would term a perfectly balanced man. But how sin, which entered so quickly, has marred this perfection! Adam's disobedience brought him under the penalty – "Dying, thou shalt die." And from that moment, Adam, as a whole, mentally, morally and physically, began to grow weak and die. In fact, the physical nature of man is so far the basis of the others that he cannot be either mentally or morally perfect if physically imperfect. Thus death has passed upon all men, and all we can do is to hasten or retard the effect. To this end, men establish medical colleges, hospitals, etc., to inform themselves as to the best way to prolong physical health; schools of learning and science, to prolong and increase mental power or health, and schools of law and theology, to hold in check, as much as possible, immorality and vice, and to develop moral health. And in all these things men are more or less successful, yet none may ever expect to restore the race to perfection in any of these respects. Perfection can and will be accomplished only in "the times of restitution of all things," when Jesus and His Bride, made one with Him, "shall restore all things."
But what does all this prove? It shows "that God hath made man upright, but he has sought out many inventions." The futile efforts of men to bring themselves back to perfection should also prove God's word true: "Thou hast destroyed thyself, but in Me is thy help." God has arranged to help or bring mankind back to the condition of the first man – perfect manhood, mentally, morally and physically. This is restoring what was lost – a restitution of all things through Christ. We are well aware that many of God's dear children differ with us on this matter and regard Adam an imperfect creation, and claim that, when it is declared, "God saw that it was good," He must have been looking down to the "New Creation," and that it was this New Creation that God declared to be in His image and likeness. If this be true, then the spiritual man is but the development of the natural man; i.e., the natural reaching its full proper perfection. But the scriptures teach us that these two natures are distinct and separate: the one, earthly and fleshly; the other, spiritual and heavenly. The one, begotten and born of the flesh; the other, begotten and born of the spirit. The first partakes of the nature of man; the New Creation become "partakers of the Divine nature." As well might we say that God looked upon a grain of corn and called it very good, because it would eventually develop into a man, as to say that God called the natural man very good because He saw that he would develop into a spiritual being. They are totally different natures. The Divine nature is not developed out of the human nature, but was first, and the expressed conditions for the obtaining of the new nature is, not to develop and perfect the old, but to crucify it.
We, on the contrary, hold that while the New Creation will certainly be the express image of God, yet this does not interfere with the fact that the natural man, Adam, was created in God's image also; not physically, for God is a spirit, but in the qualities of mind. God had created the fish, fowl and lower animals, and yet of them all there was none that could appreciate and recognize Him and His great works; none that could comprehend His wisdom and power. "And God said: Let us make man in our own image and in our own likeness. [One upon whom the higher qualities of reason, justice, mercy, love, &c., will be bestowed.] Let him have dominion over every living thing." Let man bear the same relationship to all earthly creatures which God bears to the whole creation; i.e., be its ruler and governor. [R104 : page 2] Thus man, a lord of earth, having dominion, is a type or likeness of the Lord of all, and in his perfection we believe that man was recognized by all the lower animals as their lord. Doubtless his character as well as his personal appearance made him the worthy object of their respect and veneration. Even to-day, notwithstanding the fall, and that all are at least half dead, we find men possessed of sufficient willpower, &c., to command and obtain the obedience of even savage beasts. What power may not have been possessed by the perfect man?
Now to return to our subject – Jesus. Behold the Man! We understand the scriptures to teach that Jesus, having laid aside the glory, took upon himself the form of a servant and was found in fashion as a man; not in the fashion of a sin-blighted man, physically, mentally and morally depraved, but in fashion as a man such as God made Adam – a "very good," a perfect and upright man. We believe that Jesus was as much a direct creation of God when born of Mary as Adam was when born in the womb of the earth, and that He partook no more of a sinful nature by His association with Mary, than Adam did by his previous association with the earth.
Thus God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. All men are said to bear the image of the earthly Adam (1 Cor. 15:49). Although, as a matter of fact, we have lost much of the grandeur and beauty of character, mind and form, yet we are in his likeness. So Jesus, in taking the form of a perfect man, would, of necessity, be in likeness to sinful flesh. We may be sure He was not born with a depraved nature, for He was ever in harmony with the Father. "For the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the laws of God, neither, indeed, can be."
Another thing assures us: "In Him was no sin" – "He knew no sin." And this being true, it follows that He could not know or experience any of the penalties of sin except as He did so voluntarily. For the same justice that says, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die," and that can, by no means, clear the guilty, also guarantees life to the obedient and innocent. Jesus' life, then, was not forfeited, but was guaranteed. All the powers of heaven stood pledged to defend the "Just One." He Himself said: "I lay down My life; none of you taketh it from me. I could ask My Father, and He would give me more than twelve legions of angels to defend it."
Sickness and pain are as much a part of the penalty of sin as death [R105 : page 2] itself; in fact, they are the beginning, and therefore a part of death. And if Jesus, being free from sin, was, as we have seen, free from death, by the same law of justice He must also have been created free from sickness and pain. But is it not written, "Himself took our infirmities and bear our sicknesses?" Was He not "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief?" Yes, truly, He was, and let me say that if, while on earth, He had been unmoved by the sorrow and pain which surrounded Him, it would have proved that He was not a perfect man, for that being who can live in a world of sorrow, wrapped up in self and oblivious to the sufferings of his fellows, has lost the first and grandest distinction between a man and inferior animals. Yes, Jesus did take our infirmities; but how? Were they laid upon Him from His birth? Did He grow up afflicted with the various maladies and loathsome diseases which beset sinful men, especially men on the lowest round of the ladder, covered with moral and physical pollution? Was He thus corrupt? No; our minds revolt at such a thought, as we consider Him who was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners." No, they were not laid upon Him, but "Himself took our infirmities and bear our sicknesses." When we read, "He hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all," we understand it to mean that when Jesus voluntarily became our ransom, the Father accepted it, and laid upon Him the chastisement of our sin. But did that chastisement consist in sufferings? By no means. Thousands of the human family have suffered intensely, and the sufferings and groanings of the whole creation from Adam down would make amends for a vast amount of sin if suffering could expiate sin, but it cannot. The wages of sin is death, not suffering. Therefore, "Christ died for our sins,...even the death of the cross." But "Himself took our infirmities and bear our sicknesses." Let me illustrate how I think He, being perfect, could take of our ailments: Brother M., living in Vermont, a man of great faith, and an earnest, loving child of God, moved by strong sympathy for a brother who had been crippled with a lame back for a long time, made him a subject of prayer, and feeling convinced that it was the Lord's pleasure to heal through his instrumentality, he went to him and laid his hands upon the lame back. The man was instantly cured, but so great had been Brother M.'s sympathy for him that the lameness went to his own back, and it was several days before he fully recovered from it. Brother M. has not unlimited power of healing, but has been used several times since the above, which was his first. And he informed me that at each time it is accompanied by intense sympathy for the afflicted and some pain to himself, but that as he learned to govern and control his sympathy it has the less effect upon himself. This first started the thought in my mind – May not the miracles of Jesus have had such effect upon his grandly sympathetic and loving nature? We remember well the case of the poor woman with an issue of blood, how that coming near the Saviour and touching the hem of his garment, she was immediately made whole. And Jesus turned him about, and said: "Who touched me, for I perceive that virtue (power, strength) is gone out of me." (Luke 8:46.)
Yes, we believe that every cure performed by Jesus served to exhaust, to some extent, his very life forces, yet He gave Himself – spent His life in acts of love and kindness to poor fallen humanity. Thus, He shared our sorrows, sickness and pain. Weeping with those who wept, He was touched with a feeling of our infirmities. Already perfect as a man, He was, by these self-imposed sufferings, "made perfect" as our High Priest.
Think of Him – nobly grand in character, form and deed, and both Christian and infidel to-day will agree with the decision of God and of Pilate 1800 years ago, viz.: "I find no cause of death in Him." Having proved Himself entitled to life, "He gave Himself a ransom for all," "He tasted death for every man, even the death of the cross." "BEHOLD THE MAN." "He hath set us an example that we should walk in His footsteps."
"We did esteem Him, smitten, stricken of God and afflicted" (Isa. 53:4), just as the prophet declared many would do, but now, examining carefully the record, we find that God created Him perfect, and "Himself took our infirmities and bear our sicknesses."
The Law is a great measuring line which God has let down to humanity. In the pride of the natural heart, many lay hold of it and think they measure pretty nearly what God wants. The Jew thus took the letter of the law and found it a difficult matter to commend himself to God even by that, but when the great teacher, Jesus, showed us the spirit of the Law, all who understood his teaching, saw that they were far too imperfect ever to measure themselves with it. According to Jesus' definition, it is murder to hate a brother, and adultery to desire. In a word, "The Law," as Jesus defined it, is the full measure of a perfect man's ability. And as since sin entered the world, all men are under its penalty, "There is none righteous, no, not one." Then, since all are imperfect, surely none can keep the perfect law, and so Jesus declared: "None of you keepeth the Law;" and Paul says that if the law could have been kept, Christ would not have died. Gal. 2:21. Again: "That no man is justified by the law is evident." Gal. 3:11. None can keep it, because sin has blemished all whom it has touched; all are imperfect.
Does some one say that he can keep the Law? Come with me to Palestine and see perhaps a copy of yourself. A certain young man came to Jesus, saying: "Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus takes advantage of the words "Good Master," to show him that he has acknowledged His authority, so that when he should afterward tell him what to do, he could not make the excuse that he doubted his authority to so instruct. Jesus then said to him: "Thou knowest the commandments" – That is to say, you know that God has arranged and promised that those who keep the commandments may live forever. "They that do those things shall live by them." This young man evidently had expected this answer, for with joy he replied: "All these have I kept from my youth up." He was indeed an exemplary man. "And Jesus beholding him loved him." And he answered him, "One thing thou lackest." He was almost perfect says some one. He almost kept the whole law. No, we think not; the one thing he lacked, was, in Jesus' estimation, the chief commandment of all; – viz: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength." This chief commandment he had not kept. Instead of loving the Lord with all his powers, he was loving his wealth with a part of his heart; and with a larger part too, it would seem, since he was willing rather to cling to it than to obtain eternal life. His heart divided its attention between God and earthly riches, and Jesus gave him such a command as would most quickly show him where his heart's affection centered. Another might have no riches to divide his heart, but he might have instead, a good name, or worldly fame, and either of these might be sharer of much of the love of the heart so as to prevent his loving the Lord with all his strength. This young man concluded that the Law, as Jesus interpreted it, was more than he could keep. Let any one who thinks he is keeping the whole law, begin with this first commandment, repeat it slowly and apply it to himself. – "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength." A perfect man can do no more; an imperfect or sinful man cannot live up to this perfect standard of love and obedience. A man even on the upper rounds of the ladder, and nearest perfect, could not keep this perfect law, to say nothing of the poor degraded beings pushed by sin down to the lowest round.
No, there is but one who ever kept it or could keep it. Think you, was he a perfect man, or a degraded one on the lowest round of the ladder as some have claimed? O, he was the perfect one of whom the all wise Father could, and did say: "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." And as we scan his words, his acts, his character, we exclaim,
For some time past, by letter and otherwise, questions have been asked me like the following: "Brother Paton, do you, or the other writers for ZION'S WATCH TOWER, deny the conscious pre-existence of Christ?" I would answer all such queries through the paper.
For myself, I answer, I not only do not deny it, but I most firmly believe it, and have invariably taught and defended it, both in preaching and writing, not only as true, but as a very important fact. Since the doubt has been set in motion in the minds of our readers (I am quite sure it was never caused by anything which has appeared in the WATCH TOWER), it has been my privilege to converse on this subject with all in our list of "Regular Contributors," who have written for the paper, and also with Brother Russell, the editor, and, if I know the meaning of words, there exists among us, on this subject, the most perfect oneness. What puzzles me is, how any one ever originated the thought that we do not believe it. I think that some one must have been very anxious that we should deny it, and that the wish has been father to the thought. I cannot expect to counteract fully the false impression made by such a report, [R106 : page 3] unless those who have circulated it among the people will be fair enough to circulate our correction. When a Christian brother has unintentionally misrepresented another, it should be considered not only a duty, but a privilege to correct the mistake. Should this not be done, and a part of our brethren who do not read this paper, are allowed to think that Brother Paton and other brethren have so far lost their light as to deny the conscious pre-existence of Christ, we will be compelled to ask the Lord for patience and courage to bear it, as we have often done during these months of misrepresentation. If there were no danger of harm to others by such reports, it would be but a small matter to us individually.
That we meet with some whom we believe to be Christians, and in some respects seem to be well advanced, who do not believe in the conscious or personal pre-existence of Christ, is true. Though never having doubted this great truth for a single moment, even when reading the arguments offered against it, yet we have never been disposed to make our opinions on this subject a test of fellowship. We rejoice that it has been our privilege to convince some of the truth of our position. We have often said that the statements of the Bible are on the side of the pre-existence, but the opposite view has been sustained in many minds by unanswered questions as to how this or that could be.
We regard this subject and several others as revealed, but without the philosophy being given. It is not explainable, and yet it is true. "No man knoweth the Son, but the Father" (knoweth). Matt. 11:27. All we can know is what is revealed. "Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh." 1 Tim. 3:16. He is the root of David, as well as his fruit, or "offspring." Rev. 22:16. He is David's Lord, as well as David's son. Matt. 22:42-45. These and other scriptures teach us, that in Christ was combined the Divine and human. He is called both "Son of God" and "Son of Man." Perhaps some one supposed we were denying His personal, conscious pre-existence, when, some time ago, we stated that, so far as we know, He was not called a Son until He came into the flesh, but that He was called the Word. If His being called the Word, in His pre-existent state, proves that He was not a Person, then He is not now and never has been a Person, for He was the Word and Truth when in the flesh, (John 1:14 and 14:6), and in His future glorious manifestation as Conqueror, "His name is called the Word of God." Rev. 19:13. If the statement is unscriptural, we will gladly be corrected. But we believe that Person, who was called the Word, had a conscious existence before "the Word was made flesh" (Jno. 1:14), or before He took on Him the seed of Abraham. Heb. 2:16. He that took our nature, should not be confounded with the nature which He took, though in Him, they were mysteriously blended. We believe His action in taking upon himself human nature and human form was voluntary, and is a grand exhibition of benevolence and love on His part, and therefore used as a motive for the Christian.
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God,...made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men." After which, "being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Phil. 2:5-8.
The reason assigned by some, why we ignore the pre-existence of Christ, is that we might oppose the proposition that Christ's real death was in leaving the glory and becoming a man. We will ignore no such glorious doctrine for the purpose of opposing so absurd a proposition. The above scripture of itself overthrows the assumption, by giving the order of events. He left the glory, took human form, and afterward humbled Himself unto death. Some have supposed, on account of the influence of an assumed human leadership, that the Bible asserts that Christ left the life He had with the Father, instead of the glory. Brethren, no person can be infallibly led of the Spirit who ignores the distinction between the glory of a life and the life itself. Christ did not die by becoming a man, but He became a man that He might die. Hence, "we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death...that He, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man." Heb. 2:9. The incarnation, or coming in the flesh, was before the death. See, also, vs. 14,15. He voluntarily accepted the work. The body was prepared for sacrifice, and He says, "Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God." After which the body, which was prepared for sacrifice, was offered (sacrificed). Heb. 10:5,7,10.
It was not the pre-existent One, but "the man Christ Jesus" that gave Himself a ransom for all (1 Tim. 2:5,6), and yet He left the glory for the purpose of becoming a man, or taking upon himself human nature and form, that He might become a sin offering. The same spirit of benevolence that moved Him to leave the glory controlled Him throughout. So we can say, as did Paul: "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich." 2 Cor. 8:9.
We would neither belittle nor magnify the physical or mental sufferings of Christ's life or death. We know not how much He suffered. That all His sufferings were necessary there can be no doubt. "For in that He Himself hath suffered, being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted." Heb. 2:18 and 4:15. We freely assert, however, that the Bible nowhere teaches that the pain He suffered made atonement. In the type, a perfect beast had to be slain, not tortured. "Christ died for our sins." "Reconciled to God by the death of His Son."
Christ's coming in the flesh and His death are related to each other, but they are not identical. Perhaps we go farther than some by saying we believe in the dual, or double, nature of Christ. In the atonement work (Lev. 16), He was represented by a double type – Priest and Sacrifice. He was both Priest and Sacrifice. As the priest took the beast (a lower being) and offered it as a sacrifice, so we have seen that Christ took our nature and form, a body prepared for sacrifice. The priest killed that which he took; was it not so with Christ? Christ "was made of the seed of David, according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God, with power (or powerfully declared) by the resurrection." Rom. 1:3,4. The resurrection did not make Him the Son of God, but declared the fact. If He was the Son of God, and also Son of Man, He had two natures. He was "put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit." 1 Pet. 3:18. "And you hath He reconciled, in the body of His flesh, through death. Col. 1:21,22.
It was not the blood of the priest that was required, but the blood of what the priest offered. The two being combined in Christ, has made it more difficult to grasp. "Every Spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God." 1 Jno. 4:3.
If the Lord Jesus, when on earth, was nothing but flesh – a mere man – then He could not be truly said to have come down from heaven. His flesh was of the earth, earthly, as much as ours, and yet it is repeatedly stated that He came down from heaven. See Jno. 3:13 and 31. "He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly and speaketh of the earth: He that cometh from heaven is above all. And what He hath seen and heard, that He testifieth."
Christ was the true bread, that came down from heaven. Ch. 6:33,38,50,51,58. "The Second Man is the Lord from heaven." 1 Cor. 15:47. A mere human being, having our fallen nature, as some tell us Christ was and had, should not have received worship, and could not have forgiven sin, both of which Christ did. Having taken our humanity, without its sin, He was in that nature made a sin offering. He then ascended on high to apply the merit of the work He had done, just as the priest, having slain the beast, carried its blood in to secure the object for which it was shed.
He did not make atonement with the priest's blood, but with what was shed. Our object in writing this article is not to oppose new or advanced truth, but to defend long established truth against old error dressed up in a new form. We defend the pre-existence of Christ, and also the relation between His coming in the flesh and His death in the flesh. The first prepared the way for the second; the second was the ransom. Both were necessary, [R106 : page 4] and parts of the same plan, and both express God's great love for man. Take the pre-existence of Christ out of the plan, and there was no condescension on His part, and no motive to benevolence for us, as the apostle presents it. Take the death of Christ out of the plan, and the types of death are useless, and there is no ransom, and therefore no restitution. He came down to die, and having done the work, then He returned to the glory He had with the Father before the world was. Jno. 17:5. Christ is our Redeemer, by the Ransom. His earth life is our Example. He is our Forerunner into the perfect life, and the Regenerator by that life imparted. In Him all fullness dwells. He comes again, but not as a Sin Offering, and hence not in the flesh, but in a spiritual body, and all who, by the Spirit, have fellowship with His sufferings and are made conformable to His death, shall be made like Him and share the glory of His reign. Here, we know in part; there, we shall know as we are known. "When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." 1 Cor. 13:9-12. Meanwhile, let charity prevail.
Bible students of the past, as well as those of the present day, have noticed that the dispersion, and ultimate restoration of the Jewish nation – literal Israel – is the subject of considerable portions of both old and new testament prophecies. As prophecy cannot be understood with any great degree of clearness until about the time of its fulfillment; the subject has necessarily been enveloped in a good deal of mystery in the past; and it is still, with those who do not keep pace with the development of prophecy. Various attempts have been made, by those who discard the millennial reign of the kingdom of God, to show that these prophecies would never have a literal, but a mystical fulfillment. Some have taken the position that they were conditional, and that the conditions have not been met; and others affirming that they were all fulfilled at the restoration from the Babylonian captivity. But it will be observed that the prophecies of Haggai and Zachariah were made after that; and those of the new testament, several hundred years after. Jesus, in giving the signs which would precede the complete development of the kingdom of God, says: And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh....For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. ...For there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles [Ethnon Nations] until the times – years – of the Gentiles be fulfilled. Luke 21:20-24.
This prophecy involves the inference that the times – years – of the Gentiles, have been foretold, or they could not be fulfilled; that Jerusalem represents the Jews among the nations; and that the treading down will cease, when the times are fulfilled, and the kingdom established – vs. 31. As has been many times shown, the times of the Gentiles last about thirty-five years from the spring of 1880; and the return of the Jews to Palestine is rapidly becoming an indisputable fact.
It is not designed to enter into an exhaustive argument as to the probability of the complete fulfillment of the large class of prophecies in regard to this wonderful people; but to glance at a few passages which state clearly the reason why God has dealt with them as he has; covering a period of hundreds of years; which will explain what has puzzled so many, why their national identity has been preserved. In the 16th of Jer., where their dispersion and ultimate gathering, after they had been recompensed double for their sins, is foretold; the Lord explains how they will be preserved, for the fulfillment of the prophecy, in the 17th verse: For mine eyes are upon all their ways; they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes. The double, in this connection, gives a positive clue, not only to their dispersion at the 1st Advent, but also to their gathering at the 2d. Advent, and the year when the comforting words of Is. 60:1-2 would begin to be spoken, as has been shown, was fulfilled in 1878. Amos, 9th chapter, speaks of their being sifted among all nations, and of their permanent upbuilding. James, in quoting this prophecy, seems to understand that the rebuilding of the tabernacle of David, which fell after Jesus left their house desolate, would take place at the 2d Advent. There must be a purpose in it all, worthy of an allwise and loving Father, who formed and will carry out the great plan of salvation; and it is stated by Jesus, in part, at least: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles – nations – , upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord who doth all these things – Acts 15:13-18. The work of the gospel age is expressed in the 14th verse: – taking out of the nations a people for his name – the wife of Christ; selecting the kings and priests, to reign with Christ.
The kingdom was taken from them, to be given to a people bringing forth the fruits thereof – Matt. 21:43. The same is expressed by Paul: Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fullness – Rom. 11:12. That their fullness will finally embrace the dead as well as the living, is intimated in verse 15: For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? See, also, Ezek. 37, where it is positively stated that the whole house of Israel will be brought up out of their graves, and placed in their own land.
Paul says further: For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles is come in; and so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, (Ps. 14:7.) There shall come out of Zion the deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes; but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father's sakes; for the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. (He has promised, and He will perform.) For as ye in times past have not believed – obeyed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief; even so have these also now not believed – obeyed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all – Rom. 11:25-32.
That they will remember and turn unto the Lord, after their restoration, is clearly taught in both old and new testament prophecies. The Hebrew word translated heathen; like the Greek word rendered Gentile, means nation.
But I had pity for mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went....And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen nations shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes; for I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then He says He will sprinkle clean water upon them to cleanse them; and give them a new heart; and put his Spirit within them, and cause them to walk in his statutes; then adds: And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
And not only that, but the land which has been so long desolate and unproductive, will return to its former fertility. And I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you; and I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen – Ezek. 36:21 to end of chapter. Read also the 37th chapter. After speaking of the valley of dry bones, which is explained to be the whole house of Israel, to be brought up out of their graves; the prophet is told to take two sticks, and write upon them; and the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes; and say unto them: Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them unto their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all; and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two Kingdoms any more at all....My tabernacle also shall be with them; yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people; and the heathen shall know that I, the Lord, do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.
Also the 38 and 39 chapters of Ezek., after speaking of trouble with God – Russia, after their return, and are dwelling in the mountains of Israel; gives the purpose for which it is all brought about; their own good, and the good of the nations, in clear, positive language.
Daniel 12:1, speaks of their deliverance in a time of trouble, such as there never was since there was a nation.
Zech. 8 teaches of their return; the building of Jerusalem; and a time of trouble, when every man's hand will be against his neighbor; and closes with a thus saith the Lord. In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him, that of him that is a Jew, saying: We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you. Zech. 14 tells us of the gathering of the nations against Jerusalem; that the Lord will come with all the saints, and fight against the nations; that He will be King of all the earth; and that the left of the nations which came against Jerusalem, shall even go up from year to year, to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. In Ezek. 21, we read of their last king – Zedekiah: And thou, profane, wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end; thus saith the Lord God; remove the diadem, and take off the crown....I will overturn, overturn, overturn it; and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is, and I will give it him – 25-28. [R107 : page 5]
They were overturned, 1st at the Babylonish captivity, 606 B.C., where their treading down began; 2nd, at the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70; the 3rd time will be the one spoken of in Zech. 14, and right there he will come whose right it is: or will then complete the conquering of the nations; and the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and his Anointed ones. And so we might quote largely from Is., Jer., Ezek., Amos, Zeph., Zech., and other prophets, showing that the children of Israel will return to their own land. And the united testimony of Prophets and Apostles is that it was [R108 : page 5] designed of the Lord to prove a glorious blessing to themselves and all other nations; bringing them to acknowledge that God is the Lord.
And how could it be otherwise? When such a vast amount of prophecy becomes a fact, it will prove the scriptures true; and when they are proved true by fulfillment, it can but be a terrible blow to scepticism and infidelity. Jesus said: I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he – John 13:19.
And so the result will be to the nations, when they see so much come to pass; and probably on this account Israel were scattered among all nations. Then it will be true that: The wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein – Is. 35:8. The apology for presenting this subject, is, that the return of the Jews, and the time of trouble are becoming apparent facts; and it is believed that the two facts will be the means, in the next 35 years, of the conversion of the 144,000 Jews, and the great multitude of all nations, who will come up out of or after the great tribulation, with their robes washed white in the blood of the Lamb – Rev. 7.
The fact has been noticed that the number seven is made very prominent in the Bible – both Old and New Testaments. It is the basis of reckoning, and nearly everything is complete by sevens. It may be both interesting and profitable to look at the many places where it is used.
We have seen already that seven is the basis of the creation week, the ordinary week and the week of thousands. The wave sheaf, and its antitype, the resurrection of Christ, were "when the Sabbath was past" – the eighth day, or first day of a new week. Lev. 23:11, and Mark 16:2. The wave loaf and its antitype, the descent of the Holy Spirit, were on Pentecost, or the fiftieth day, and hence also on the first day of the week. Lev. 23:15-16, and Acts 2:1. And the perfect new creation is not reached until the week of thousands is past, or the beginning of another cycle.
The types of the old creation are seventh day types, and the types of the new creation are first day types. By observing what is said of these types in Lev. 23, it will be seen that these first days were to be holy convocations and rest days, though not by the fourth commandment, which related exclusively to the seventh day. Those who are more interested in commemorating the old creation, will of course observe the seventh day of the week, and those who are more interested in commemorating the dawn of the new creation will observe the first day of the week. But in the New Testament there is no command to observe either. The Christian has been drawn to the first day of the week by the law of association, which is one phase of the law of the Spirit.
The seventh day finds its antitype in the seventh thousand – the Sabbath that remains. When we have entered the Millennial reign, it will not be as it was in the typical observance, one day in seven, but a continual Sabbath. That will be the fulfillment of the Sabbath, or keeping it in the Spirit. There is a sense in which believers now are keeping that continual Sabbath; the same sense in which we are now the body, or bride of Christ; the same sense in which we are now said to have eternal life, and to be in the kingdom. In this sense the gospel age is the age of fulfillment of the seventh day, and we believe the rule will hold good that no type given in the old dispensation, to be entirely fulfilled in either the gospel or millennial ages is to be observed during the gospel age.
But to come to other features: Enoch, "the seventh from Adam," (Jude 14), was translated. He seems to be a type of the perfect earthly man; and we suggest that this case indicates God's way of disposing of such men, during the seventh thousand years. If not for this, why did it happen to be the seventh, [R109 : page 5] and why tell us anything about it? We would not be too positive on such points.
Clean beasts went into the ark by sevens. Gen. 7:2. Seven days was the period fixed for the entrance into the ark, and on the seventh day the waters began to come on the earth. Verses 4:10. It was in the seventh month the ark rested. Gen. 8:4. Noah sent out a dove which returned to him, because it could find no rest; "And he stayed yet other seven days," and sent her out again. Verse 10. This time she brought the olive leaf, then "he stayed yet other seven days" when he sent her out and she returned no more. Verse 12. And it was with Noah's seventh century the new world began. Verse 13. Do all these things come by chance? Others may see more of their meaning than we do.
Jacob served seven years for each of his two wives, Leah and Rachel. Gen. 29:18-30. Jacob is typical of Christ. He stood at the head of the Jewish dispensation with his twelve sons as Christ with His twelve apostles stands at the head of the gospel dispensation. These two equal periods seem to represent the equality of the two dispensations. Jacob served for a wife and got the one first that he did not want, and afterward the one he really loved.
Some one has said there is not even a type of the Jewish church being the bride of Christ in any sense, or that He came to them as the Bridegroom. Will those who accept of the allegorical character of the writings of Moses repudiate this case of Jacob? The Jewish church is often spoken of as the Lord's wife, and as not being true to Him. Jesus says, "All that the Father hath is mine." "He came to His own and His own received Him not." John introduced Him as the Bridegroom. Jno. 3:29. Jesus speaks of Himself as the Bridegroom with them. Mark 2:19-20. There is as much evidence of Christ being the Bridegroom to that typical church, as that He was the Reaper in the harvest of that typical dispensation.
In Pharaoh's dreams which Joseph was called to interpret, there were "seven well favoured Kine," eaten up by "seven other Kine" ill favored and lean fleshed; and "seven ears of corn" on one stalk, rank and good, devoured by "seven thin ears." The dream, as interpreted and fulfilled, referred to seven years of plenty, followed by seven years of famine, God's mercies and His judgments are complete, but mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
In Leviticus 26, the expression "seven times" is four times repeated in reference to the duration of the rule of its enemies over Jerusalem. It has often been shown that this is the basis and key of the Times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24), or the duration of Gentile rule over Jerusalem. A time is a year; a prophetic year is 360 common years and has been so fulfilled. "A time, times and a half" (i.e., 3½ times) has been fulfilled as 1260 literal years in the Papal dominion over the nations, between A.D. 538 and A.D. 1798.
If three times and a half are 1260 years, seven times are 2520 years. From B.C. 606, where the desolation of Jerusalem began, 2520 years reach to A.D. 1914. According to this application of the number seven, Jerusalem will be free at that time, and thence-forward be a praise in the earth. The application is clearly confirmed by the events of to-day – the trouble brewing among the nations, and the beginning of Jewish restoration.
The prophetic argument on the Two Dispensations shows that favor was due to that people in 1878, and the door was legally opened for their return, by the Anglo-Turkish treaty of that year. From 1878 to 1914, is a period of 37 years for their rise, and is equal to the period of their fall, from the time Jesus left their house desolate in A.D. 33, until their complete destruction in A.D. 70.
Their fall was from natural nationality, and they will rise to the same. "This child is set for the fall and the rising again of many in Israel." Jesus has the work of restoring the natural, and also the work of imparting all manner of spiritual blessings.
The long period of 2520 years and their bitter experience under the dominion of the beasts, (human governments, Dan. 7) is clearly represented in Dan. 4, by the "seven times" of Nebuchadnezzar and his bitter experience among the beasts. This being a type covers only seven literal years. Why, if there is nothing in all these things, can such a harmony be developed on the basis of number seven?
Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for I say unto you, many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. Luke 13:24.
Christ's mission to earth was to save men. It has been truly said that the difference between the anti-Christian and the Christian religions is, that in all of the former, men are seeking after God; in the latter, God is seeking after men. In one sense, Christ has already accomplished the salvation of all. That is, all were lost, and He has found them. More than that, He has purchased them. But His work is not thus finished. He desires to raise them immeasurably above their lost condition, and to render them eternally secure. To do this work, He must have their co-operation. To be saved in the highest sense, men must come to the Saviour. Hence, one important part of His mission was to win followers.
Christianity now is presented to the unbeliever in the most attractive form, and every inducement that can be offered is presented to persuade men to come to Jesus. They are told that it is an easy thing to be a Christian; that they have only to say the word, to make the public confession, join the church, and they are safe. We do not question the benevolence of the motive which prompts this, but we do question both the authority and the wisdom of the plan. Will such work stand in the day that tries by fire?
The Saviour never urged men to come to Him. The truth He taught had sufficient power to draw those who were susceptible to its influence. His words possessed the peculiar property of satisfying the hunger of earth-weary, toil-burdened and desolate hearts. And these are they who are especially [R108 : page 6] invited. The only direct invitations given by Him who came to win ALL, were given to this class. "He that is thirsty, let him come to me and drink." "Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." Only those who feel the need of rest and life can appreciate the invitation. The rich, the popular, those absorbed in business; in brief, all who are content with the things of this life, are scarce likely to leave them for things for which they feel no need. As a rule, the more content we are with earthly things, the less we desire heaven; and God never gives of heavenly things except they are earnestly desired.
When great multitudes followed Him, He turned and said unto them: "If any man come unto me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life, also, he cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first and counteth the cost, whether he hath sufficient to finish it? Lest happily after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build and was not able to finish." Luke 14:25-30.
There are many builders in this day of whom that saying is too true. Thrice better had they never begun. Could I be heard, I would say to all: Do not come without counting the cost. It will cost you all that you have and are or ever can be. "Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." But if you can afford it, the investment will bring good returns. He would not be certain of success in any earthly profession, who did not apply time, means, heart and mind to the acquiring of his object. Can less be expected of him who lives for God, and who expects to be made like Him?
Why did not Christ urge men to be Christians? Did His great heart feel no pity for the careless, the proud, the wise, and prudent, in their conceit? Why was the gate made so strait that only the most determined could win an entrance? Thank God, these questions can now be answered.
God is not limited, in His dealings with us, to our life here. Man's sin consigned him to the grave. Christ's righteousness brings him back from the grave. Men have long advocated the far-reaching power of the Saviour's death. They have taught that his blood could avail for all. Few have realized the revealed truth that His blood does avail for all. He who gave Himself a ransom for all, thereby has ransomed all, and the due time has now come for this to be testified.
"Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world." "God was in Christ reconciling the WORLD unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." The salvation here taught does not depend upon their acceptance of Him. He who laid the foundations of the gospel, laid them broad enough and deep enough to sustain the whole structure of human salvation. Jesus, who worked out His Father's will, had no occasion to be in haste. During the gospel age He is gathering out the jewels for His crown – the church of the first-born. Hereafter, He will take to Himself His great power and reign. Then all the nations whom He has made will come and worship before Him. If our work be guided by a knowledge of His plan, though the results may seem less, they will be more effectual. Above all, let us so live that He may do the work through us, now and hereafter.
It has been suggested by some one as an advanced truth, that the cleansing of our theology is the antitype of the bearing away of sin by the scape-goat, making sin a type of false theology. This is a novel if not a dangerous idea. Novelties are striking; new things are eagerly sought for, and too apt to be received as truth, without careful examination, or to be received as advanced truth because new. But if "faith is counted for righteousness, why is not false theology counted for sin?" we are asked. This seems plausible, and may carry conviction to many trusting, honest souls, but it is sophistical. It is not a proper contrast. If faith were a clean theology, then a false theology would be unbelief. Unbelief is one kind of sin. The Holy Spirit reproves the world of sin because "they believe not on Me," said Christ.
But a personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is not to be confounded with a perfect knowledge of God's plan of salvation. Every babe in Christ has faith in Him. He could not be even a babe without this, but his knowledge of the plan may and should be a growth during his whole life. When Christ said to one who came to Him, "Oh, woman, great is thy faith," he certainly could not mean that she had an extensive knowledge of the plan of the ages. It would be presumption to think so.
It has been the privilege of every Christian to have a strong faith in Christ, but it has never been the privilege of any Christian to have a perfect knowledge of God's plan. We do not underrate the value of knowledge, nor in any sense belittle the responsibility of the Christian to grow in knowledge. God forbid. But we believe, in order to have the right effect, it is best to call things by the right names. Sin is sin – transgression of law, and ignorance is not always sin. Jesus says: "If you were blind, ye should have no sin."
The Holy Spirit was not promised to lead each individual into all the truth, but the church as a whole, as represented by the apostles, was to be led into all truth, and we can not doubt that the Christians of every generation have had all the truth due in their time.
But the holiest and most enlightened Christians, even now living, may well adopt the language of the Apostle Paul, "Now we know in part, but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part will be done away." 1 Cor. 13. That certainly cannot be until after the marriage – the complete union and glory for which Christ prayed (Jno. 17), when "we shall see as we are seen, and know as we are known." The papacy claims infallibility, and therefore sets itself up as the judge of men. Let all beware of imitating the unworthy example. Intercourse with a great variety of Christian people has convinced us that many dear children of God have a strong faith in the Lord Jesus, which enables them to lay hold on many blessings, both temporal and spiritual, though in many cases their knowledge of the plan of God is deficient. Others, wiser in the mysteries of God, seem sometimes to have a weaker faith, less love and a less perfect life.
"They that be wise shall shine as the firmament, but they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars." Dan. 12:3. The stars are brighter than the firmament. Oh, that we might be able to combine wisdom, love and Christian work in our lives.
Faith is one thing; knowledge is quite another. "Add to your faith virtue, and to your virtue knowledge," &c. Sin is one thing, and imperfect theology is another. "Now ye are clean" was spoken to the disciples in an early stage of experience, but it was their life-work to learn. He that is in Christ is counted "complete in Him," faith being counted for righteousness. A perfect theology is never counted for righteousness, though it is one important part of the disciple's work to grow in grace and knowledge. Faith is at the foundation, where but little knowledge is expected, while the knowledge comes gradually, as we advance.
It would do violence to language to introduce the phrase "imperfect theology" where the word "sin" occurs, which would not be the case if they meant the same thing; and it must be an "imperfect theology" indeed, that assumes to confound them. "By one man an imperfect theology entered into the world and death by an imperfect theology." "By the law came the knowledge of an imperfect theology." "Until the law, an imperfect theology was in the world, but it is not imputed where there is no law." "Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the – " No, we will not write it, it is too absurd. But it is no more absurd than the idea that the scape-goat work associated with cleansing the sanctuary in the law, was a type of the cleansing of theology here. The removal of sin from the sanctuary, would, it seems to us, far more fitly represent the cleansing of the church from all the works of the flesh, so that they might bring forth more fully the "fruits of the Spirit." Gal. 5. The tendency seems to be to make too little of character by exalting theology. And the false application of sin as a type of false theology, while it does not lead us to think little of a clean theology, it does lead us more clearly to see that character is the ideal of Christian life – the "wedding garment."
"No truth is vital, nor any error fatal, which, when believed and obeyed, does not affect character."
Major Whittle and P. P. Bliss, while engaged in evangelistic work for the Master, started for a new field of labor on a bitterly cold night. As they passed from the station-house towards the railroad train, they reached a gate before which a man stood, who said to the hurrying passengers, "Show your tickets." Of course the demand was annoying to many who were compelled to unloose their heavy wrappings, and to withdraw their hands from comfortable gloves; and it is not strange that expressions of discontent and of anger were loud and frequent. When the two Evangelists were going through the gate, the Major remarked pleasantly to the keeper, "You are not a very popular man with this crowd tonight." "I don't care a cent for this crowd," was the surly reply; "I just want to be popular with one man." "Ah, my brother," said dear Bliss on entering the train, "that is a lesson for you and for me."
Yes, and it is a lesson for every Christian in these last and perilous days. More men are making shipwreck of their faith on the coast of popular favor than in any other part of life's treacherous sea. They are seen all along the shore like dismasted and rotting hulks, instead of leading and pointing the way to the peaceful haven, that can not be far distant. Of too many who commenced their public ministry as faithful witnesses for Jesus, it can be said, as the lonely apostle wrote of a former friend and companion, "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world." (2 Tim. 4:10).
So in the last state of the professing Christian body described in the epistle to the church of the Laodiceans, [R110 : page 7] where the end and doom of Christendom are graphically portrayed, we have the same subtle and fatal spirit at work. Laodicea means "Justice for the people," and while the Church boasts that she is rich, and increased with goods, and has need of nothing, it is evidently implied that she is governed by popular clamor, and Christ is turned out of his own house, left standing at the door, knocking to catch the ear of any man, before the whole corrupt mass is spued out of his mouth. Rev. 3:14-20.
Are not the evidences of this popular control of the Church increasing every day with frightful rapidity. Custom after custom, and doctrine after doctrine, sanctioned by divine enactment and sacred by the faith and observance of the saints through eighteen centuries, are yielded at the demand of public sentiment, until the pulpit, to a lamentable extent, has become a place for the delivery of popular lectures, and the Church building a place for popular entertainments. Let a preacher openly deny the Lord who bought him, disowning his divinity, ridiculing the necessity of his atoning blood, sneering at the authority of the Scriptures as superior to human reason, and at once the secular press, which in our cities at least is almost wholly in the hands of so-called "free thinkers," lauds him to the skies, as a man of genius, and broad culture, and large charity. Nay, multitudes in the Church unite with the enemies of Christ in celebrating his praise, especially if he increases the pew rentals, and attracts a crowd.
Well, be it so. It is just what the word of God plainly tells us must come to pass in the last day of perilous times, when the church will contain "lovers of their own selves;...lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof." (2 Tim. 3:2-5.) "When they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned into fables," (2 Tim. 4:3-4); when "there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them." (1 Pet. 2:1.)
But this furnishes all the stronger reason why those "who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time," should more and more make it their single aim "to be popular with one man." Let them not care a cent for the crowd out of the church, or in the church, but each say like the Apostle, with lofty and unswerving consecration: "None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God." (Acts 20:24.)
Q. If I understand you aright in your article on the "Ten Virgins" of last number, your view is that while overcoming christians of all ages are virgins and will be joined to the Heavenly Bridegroom, yet the parable of Matt. 25, refers to those of that class living in our day, and who here and now as parts of the company have been used to represent the whole in the fulfillment of the parable. Am I correct?
A. You are correct, we do not limit the virgins of all ages, but believe this parable to refer to virgins at the close of this age. We cannot say however that every christian shall have the high honor of being united with Jesus as his bride and joint heir. The word, only authorizes us to say that "He that overcometh shall inherit all things." We will not judge who are "overcomers" – the King has come in, he will judge righteous judgment.
Q. Your article in March No. "Three Covenants" states that the words covenant and testament are the same and from the same Greek word, and that the "New Covenant" is a thing of the future. To which covenant then does Jesus refer when He says: "This is my blood of the New Testament?" Matt. 26:28.
A. In the article referred to we found that the Abrahamic Covenant was an unconditional promise and for that reason it needed and had no medium. God simply confirming it by oath. "For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could sware by no greater, He swore by himself" that by these "two immutable things" – the promise and oath – in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation." Heb. 6:13-18. We found also that the Law Covenant which was 430 years after did not disannul this one, that it was separate and distinct. "The Law" was not unconditional, but – "Whosoever doeth those things shall live by them." And because it had these conditions binding on God on the one part, and Israel on the other, it required and had Moses as its mediator. Paul is intent on proving this distinction between the Law and the Abrahamic covenant and in Gal. 3:20, points out to us that the distinction between the unconditional and conditional is apparent from the fact that to the latter, God gave a mediator, while to the former none was given. – "For a mediator is not of one (or when there is but one party to the contract) but God is one." Therefore a mediator being given with the Law, proves that it had bindings upon Israel as well as upon God. [R111 : page 7]
Then we looked at the New Covenant and found that it has conditions binding upon God and the world, therefore it should have a mediator. God binds himself to "restore all things," to save men from death and to bring them to a knowledge of the truth, (1 Tim. 2:4), to "pour out His Spirit upon all flesh" (Joel 2:28) and to put a new spirit within them (as it was in Adam before sin entered) (Ezek. 36:26) and to write his law in their hearts (more than Adam had) Jer. 31:33, and he will set his sanctuary (dwelling – the Church) in the midst of them forevermore. (Ezek. 37:26.) And the conditions upon the World are, that then, they shall obey the Lord's prophet or be cut off from life, (the second death). "Every soul shall die for his own sin." Jer. 31:30. "It shall come to pass that every soul that will not hear that prophet, shall be cut off from among the people. Acts 3:23. But who shall be the mediator of so great a covenant? Paul assures us that "Jesus (is) the mediator of the New Covenant." Jesus accepted the high position and sealed or ratified that New Covenant with his own blood (death) just as Moses had ratified the Law Covenant, which was a shadow of this, with the blood of a bullock and a goat sprinkling (cleansing) all the people; so Jesus died but instead of sprinkling all the people at once, he waits 1800 years to "take out a people for his name" – His "bride" – "His body" – to be associated with him in the work of sprinkling or cleansing all the people.
He said to his disciples of old and to us now: "Take up your cross and follow me" – crucify the flesh – and the same thought is suggested when Jesus took the cup saying: "This is my blood of the New Covenant shed for many (the world in general) for the remission of sins." By passing it to each of us and saying, "Drink ye all of it," he virtually invites us to drink into his death, to "be made conformable unto his death." – "Are ye able to drink of the cup (death) that I shall drink of, and to be baptised with the baptism (death) that I am baptised with?...Ye shall drink indeed of the cup that I shall drink of, and be baptised with the baptism that I am baptised with." Matt. 20:22. "We know that as many of us as were baptised into Jesus Christ were baptised into his death," (Rom. 6:2) and we know just as well what "the cup" signified when we find Jesus in the garden praying: "Father if it be possible, let this cup (death) pass from me." So when Jesus passes us "the cup," he says to us: Die with me, I will thus permit you to join with me in sealing the New Covenant and by and by when the body is complete, associate you with me in the glorious work of sprinkling (cleansing) "all the people," as parts or members of the "one mediator between God and men," when the New Covenant comes into operation.
How very forcibly every feature of the law seems to shadow forth the fact that, "If we suffer with him we shall also be glorified together." We believe "that if we be dead with Him we shall also live with Him." Let us then reckon ourselves dead indeed unto sin, and though in the world be not of it.
Q. What are the two immutable things of Heb. 6:18?
A. We know of no reason for so thinking but many reasons to the contrary. Brother Paton's article – "EXPEDIENT FOR YOU" – in this No. is so much to the point that we will not answer you further. If it does not fully satisfy you, we shall be glad to know of any points of difficulty and answer them.
The present number of the WATCH TOWER ends the first volume, the first year of its existence. From the numerous letters containing kind and encouraging words, speaking of the light thrown on various scriptures through its teaching, we have reason to hope that our labor is not in vain in the Lord. While we labor not for human praise and thanks, but to receive, of the Master, "well done, good and faithful servant," yet these kind words from our fellow pilgrims are not to be despised. Like a cup of cold water, they greatly cheer and refresh us.
We have felt called to a defense of the truth. During this harvest-time of shaking and sifting in which we are living, there is danger of throwing away with the rubbish some of the very foundation pillars of truth. Many of these fundamental truths are being attacked by the great enemy of truth, and the more of God's children he can enlist with him the more successful is he. It was needful, therefore, that we should exhort you to take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand (stand against the evil attacks) in (this) the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Eph. 6:13.) Our lamp shining on the Tabernacle service and types of the law has had the effect of confirming these old truths and establishing our hearts in the faith. As we have seen Jesus' death typified by the Paschal Lamb and the bullock of sin-offering, so we have learned that we (the church) have been filling, and must continue to fill, the type of the goat of sin-offering, thus being made "conformable unto his death" and "filling up the measure of the sufferings of Christ which are behind."
Many tell us by letter, and some by word, that we are in their prayers, and we now request that [R110 : page 8] during the coming year ZION'S WATCH TOWER may be the special subject of your prayers, and in the words of Paul, that you pray for us that God may open unto us a door of utterance to speak the mystery of Christ. (Col. 4:3).
To those who wish the paper, but who cannot afford to pay, the terms for the next year are the same as for the past one – "Ask that ye may receive." A postal card will do. If you send us the names of any you think would be interested and benefited thereby, we will send them sample copies free. You might, thus, to some extent, "do good and communicate."
The first copy of this work has just been received from the printer, and the entire edition of 4,000 copies will be ready for delivery by the time this paper reaches you. It is a more exhaustive and elaborate work than we had at first expected; more so by far than anything ever presented on the above topics, from our standpoint. It contains 334 pages in clear and distinct type. To give an idea of its size, we would say that it contains about three times as much matter as the "Three Worlds," a book familiar to most of our readers, now out of print.
From the first hasty examination we should say it is a work which will do an inestimable amount of good, and to many, will be an instructor second only to the Word of God. It is written in a plain, unassuming manner, seeming to indicate that the writer had learned that "great I and little you" are no part of the Good News. Both the I and you are as far as possible dropped from notice, and the subject is made so beautifully plain and clear, that many, we believe, will bless God for having been permitted to read it. It is divided into twenty-nine chapters, and like God's book, contains things "both new and old."
We copy from the book, the following terms which are certainly low:
"Price of Day Dawn, in paper covers... 50 cts. " " " " cloth " ... 75 "
We hope that every reader of the WATCH TOWER will avail himself at once of these liberal terms. The time arguments alone, clearly and plainly stated, should do you fifty dollars worth of good if not more. Those who can afford to do so, should keep a dozen copies on their loan list.
Q. Please explain Mark 9:43-44. "If thy hand offend thee, cut it off: It is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands, to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched; where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched."
A. The English word hell, (in Com. English version of N.T.,) is used to translate three entirely different Greek words: One of these, "tartarus," occurs but once – 2 Pet. 2:4, and signifies, according to best Greek scholars, our atmosphere. (Satan – "the prince of the power of the air.") Another Greek word translated by the word hell, is "hades." This is used eleven times in the N.T., and is ten times improperly translated hell. The word signifies the grave, or a state of death, or the dominion of death. The Author of the Emph. Diag., says: "To translate hades by the word hell, as it is done ten times out of eleven in the N.T., is very improper, unless it has the Saxon meaning of "helan" – to cover – attached to it. The primitive signification of hell only denoting what was secret or concealed. This perfectly corresponds with the Greek word, hades, and the Hebrew equivalent, sheol; but the theological definition given to it at the present day, by no means expresses it. It is said that in some parts of England to-day, it is not uncommon to hear the old Saxon use of this word, as when a man speaks of helling potatoes, (covering them,) and helling his house (shingling or covering it).
The third and only other Greek word translated by our word hell, is "gehenna." It occurs twelve times. The same author quoted above, says of gehenna: "It is the Grecian mode of spelling the Hebrew words which are translated "The valley of Hinnom." This valley was also called "tophet," a detestation, an abomination. Into this place were cast all kinds of filth with the carcasses of beasts and the unburied bodies of criminals who had been executed. To consume these, fires were kept continually burning. Gehenna then, [R112 : page 8] as occuring in the N.T., symbolizes death and utter destruction, but in no place signifies a place of eternal torment.
Kimchi, on Psa. 27:13 says: "It was a place in the land (valley) near to Jerusalem, and was a place contemptible where they did cast things defiled and carcasses, and there was there a continual fire to burn polluted things and bones, (Brimstone was thrown in to continue it) and therefore, the condemnation of the wicked in a parabolic way, is called Gihinnom."
One thing is sure, nothing was ever cast into this "Valley of Hinnom" to be kept in torment. Only dead bodies were cast into it as a mark of special ignominy, and what the fire did not come in contact with, the worms destroyed, so that in any case the result was destruction. See Isa. 66:24. (The Jews were not allowed to torture even dumb animals.) Jesus apparently made a lesson from surroundings, as was his custom. So now, he says: If any of your members – eye, hand, etc., so ensnare you as to endanger your being cast out from men as a criminal, and cast into this Valley of Hinnom, it is too expensive a member to keep, even though it be dear unto you as your eye or right hand. It would be far better to cast off the troublesome member and save your life.
So, too, we can see that every christian is called upon to – "Mortify" (put to death) therefore, your members which are upon the earth – uncleanness, covetousness, &c. (Col. 3:5). These evil members must be lopped off, else they will choke the life of Christ commenced, and prevent your entrance into that everlasting life, and render you a vessel fitted to destruction, symbolized by Gehenna – "Valley of Hinnom."
But it may not be uninteresting to some to know that the following parts of the text of Mark 9 are interpolations, and are not found in the best MSS. Sinaitic and Vatican – viz: vs. 44 and 46 are both entirely omitted; also, in vs. 45, the words "into the fire that never shall be quenched," and in vs. 47, the word "fire" is omitted. See "Emp. Diag." and "Tischendorf."
I read in a friend's book, not long ago, an extract which commenced with the following words: "The longer I live the more profoundly am I convinced that the all-in-all of practical Christianity may be summed up in two words – 'submit and commit.'" Truer words have seldom passed from human pen; and this is the great lesson that grace by her gentle discipline teaches, and that the will of man has to learn. Submit – cease first from thy rebellious self-assertions, and next from thy proud efforts to correct and amend thyself; and then commit – cast thyself into the hands of Omnipotent Love. Claim it of the new Adam that He shall, dwell within thee, accomplish, as He has undertaken, what thou canst not do, and regulate in peace and harmony, under His scepter, the once jarring and conflicting forces of thy nature. So shall there indeed be a great calm, a stillness, a rest within thy consecrated heart, and thou shalt be in a position to make proof of all the wealth of thy promised land – the land that flows with milk and honey – as thou proceedest to live, not only soberly, but righteously and Godly. Only let us take heed lest it should be said of thee or me, reader, "We see that they could not enter in, because of unbelief."– School of Grace.
Invitations to stop and see the little companies at various points en route to and from Lynn, Mass., have been so numerous, that we have been obliged to forego the pleasure of complying with some five requests. In future, however, we hope to be able to see these also.
The entire arrangement of meetings, etc., in each place, will be left in charge of the person mentioned below. Any arrangements they may deem proper will be agreeable to me. They may arrange for one, two or three meetings a day, and, if they choose, select my subjects, or announce the general topic as being "Things Pertaining to the Kingdom of God." The route, committee of arrangement and time of my arrival are as follows:
CHAMBERSBURG, PA.......................H. E. Hoke. Wednesday, noon, June 2d. READING, PA.........J. B. Kine, No. 102 N. 8th st. Saturday night, June 6th. NEWARK, N.J...Mrs. E. M. Deems, 500 Washin't'n st. Tuesday night, June 9th. LYNN, MASS............Amos Hunt, No. 13 Ingols st. Sunday, A.M. (early), June 13th. CLINTON, MASS....................Mrs. M. T. Miner. Wednesday, June 16th. SPRINGFIELD, MASS....R. W. Stearns, 96 Gardner st. Friday, June 18th. FT. EDWARD, N.Y..................J. C. Sunderland. Tuesday, June 22d. MONTROSE, PA........................D. D. Lathrop. Friday, June 25th. BERWICK, PA.........................A. B. MacCrea. Saturday night, June 26th. JERSEY SHORE, PA.......................S. M. Bond. Wednesday, June 30th.
JESUS gave his perfect natural life to redeem fallen, natural men and to restore them to the perfect natural condition, so we, as his bride, members of his body are first by faith reckoned or accounted perfect through his sacrifice, and secondly, permitted to give this justified nature a "living sacrifice." Thus we are associated with Jesus in his death, the expressed conditions being, that if we thus give up all the Adamic, we may become partakers of the "Divine Nature" – be made "New Creatures in Christ Jesus." "For if we be dead with Him, we believe that we shall also live with Him." "If we suffer with Him, we shall also be glorified together."
BROTHER H. B. RICE writes that he, from temporary loss of business and sickness in his family, has been kept quite occupied of late, but has not lost his interest in the WATCH TOWER. He says: "I believe that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin. It was certainly not laying aside immortality. It was shedding his blood – pouring out his soul (or life) unto death." He says he finds time to preach the glad tidings, and recently delivered a series of eleven lectures in Stockton, Cal. He has again obtained a situation in San Francisco, and has removed there.