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|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.|
Paul in 1 Cor. 15 has given us the clearest and most explicit account of the resurrection to be found anywhere in scripture. He commences with Jesus and His resurrection and shows that we have many and reliable witnesses "that Christ died for our sins, and that he was buried and was raised the third day, (after his death,) &c. He thus proves Christ's resurrection as an evidence of the power of God to raise the dead in general, for remember this was the general proclamation of the Apostles – viz: "They preached through Jesus, (the value of his death as our redemption price) the resurrection of the dead;" With close argument Paul reaches the conclusions of verses 20-22. (Diaglott,) – "But now Christ has been raised from the dead a first fruit of those having fallen asleep. For since through a man there is death, through a man also there is a resurrection of the dead; for as by Adam all die so by the Anointed, also, will all be restored to LIFE." Not merely to the measure of life now possessed by men, but gradually to the "perfect" human life as illustrated in first Adam before sin and death began their work.
"But each one in his own rank, Christ, a first fruit." God has time and order for everything, and He has wisely arranged for various ranks or orders or companies in the resurrection. All are to be raised, but each in his own rank: Christ first, afterward, they who are Christ's in (or during) his presence. Only these two are specifically mentioned, and yet that the others will be raised afterward in their own orders is certain, since it is positively stated, (vs. 22,) "All will be restored to life." This work of restoring progresses during the millennial age which is called "the times of restitution of all things," and when the work of restoring to life and all that was lost through sin and death is complete, then the end of that age will come. "Then cometh the end when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father," Jesus, during that age having put down all enemies. "Even death, the last enemy will be rendered powerless."
This concludes Paul's argument, but he pauses to answer some questions, (vs. 35) – "But some one will say: How are the dead raised up, and in what body do they come?" Will it be the same particles of matter that once constituted their bodies? Hear Paul's answer: You have illustrations before you in nature; the grain you plant never comes up again; it dies and wastes away, but God gives another grain just like it, of the same kind and likeness. If you sow wheat you will get wheat; if you sow tares you will get tares. God will give "to every seed his own body." Now apply this same principle to the resurrection. What body you will have depends upon what seed you are of when buried. If you are "of the earth, earthy," when you die you will be raised up to the standard of the head of your kind – the perfect natural man. But if with Jesus you have given up the flesh life, crucified the flesh, and through him become a new creature, a "partaker of the Divine Nature, you are no longer of the natural seed but of the Spiritual." "THE seed of Abraham," (Gal. 3:29.) And if in the resurrection God gives "to every seed his own body," then all who are of the spiritual seed will get a spiritual body, just as surely as the natural seed will have its own body. "Of what kind the earthy one, (Adam) such, also, (will be) the earthy ones, (when raised) and of what kind the heavenly one, (Christ,) such, also, (will be) the heavenly ones" (when raised). ["Diaglott."] "There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body," and which you will have, depends on which seed you are of when buried.
Vs. 39: – This need not seem strange to you, for though you have never seen a spiritual body, yet, you can see this to be reasonable, and in harmony with God's dealings generally as you see them every day – even of fleshly bodies, there are different sorts and grades – the fowl, fish, beasts, &c., different, yet all flesh; so God has diversities, and you have no reason to dispute, when I, Paul, say that there is a grander body than any of these, a spiritual or heavenly.
Vs. 40: – Man, when restored to the glory of the earthly again, brought back to perfection, though he will then be a truly glorious being, will yet be far different from a heavenly body. Both will have glory, but the glory of the heavenly is one thing, and the glory of the earthly is quite another thing, just as the glory of a star is beautiful, yet different and less than the glory of the sun. When our change takes place, we shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of our Father. (Matt. 13:43.)
While it doth not yet appear what we shall be, for we have never seen the glory of the heavenly, yet Paul gives us certain general characteristics of those who will have part in THE resurrection, (the chief or first.) The Greek language has a peculiar way of expressing emphasis by the use of the article the. It is used here by Paul to distinguish between the resurrection of the "little flock," the "blessed and holy" who have part in the "first resurrection," and the resurrection of the natural seed. He says, (vs. 42-43. Diaglott.) – "Thus is THE resurrection of THE dead: It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown an animal body, it is raised a spiritual body."
Thus closes Paul's argument regarding the resurrection; but lest some should be perplexed and wonder how any could become spiritual bodies, if they should be alive when their Lord comes, he explains: "Behold, I show you a mystery, we shall not all sleep, but we must all be changed."
The overcomers – church of the first born – are represented as becoming "dead to sin," "crucifying the flesh," even during the present life, and yet though dead to sin, alive toward God through Jesus Christ. Here, the figure used represents the body dead, but the spirit (will or mind,) alive. Thus every overcoming christian has a germ of spiritual life in a dead body. "I live, yet not I, (I am dead,) but Christ liveth in me." If such an one loses the present life, is it his death? No, that took place before. Was it the death of the spiritual life within? No, it cannot die. "He that believeth on (into) the Son, hath everlasting life." Such only "sleep," but we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment," (vs. 53,) and instead of living in this dead body, fast decaying away, we shall have it changed, for this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." Thus our death takes place before we enter the grave, and our life begins and grows for a while before we get the body which God has designed for us, "like unto Christ's glorious body."
The succeeding verses, as before considered, show the grand work upon which we enter when our seed gets its own body: and, the prophecies which will then begin to be fulfilled.
As we found in Lev. 16, a detailed account of the work of atonement, (March No.) so in chapter 9, we have a brief outline of the same which shows some of the features of the work quite prominently. Chap. 8, closes with an account of the seven days (or complete) consecration of the priests, (Feb. No.) and this ninth chapter pictures the work which follows the consecration of each individual priest. It began with the Head, and continues until it is true of every member of "the body" – i.e. after complete consecration comes sacrifice.
In this scene the entire work of the Gospel Age (the sacrificing,) as well as the beginning of the work of [R95 : page 2] the Millennial Age (the showing of God's glory) are represented as though accomplished in a few hours.
Let us now consider the sin offering, omitting the Peace and Burnt offerings. Vs's. 2 and 3. Moses said unto Aaron: "Take thee a calf for a sin offering," and unto the children of Israel, "Take ye a kid of the goats for a sin offering." "And Moses said, this is the thing which the Lord commanded that ye should do and the glory of the Lord shall appear unto you." Ver. 6. That is this work of sacrificing, &c., must be done before God can reveal himself to you in glory. The sinless pair in Eden could and did commune with God, but sin entered and God broke off the intercourse of the sinner, and as long as man is thus a sinner it cannot be restored, consequently it became necessary to introduce the Gospel Age as a "Day of Atonement" – a time during which Jesus Christ, by death, is made a propitiation – mercy seat – for our sins, and through the death of His thus ransomed body (the church), he is a propitiation "also for the sins of the whole world."
When the sacrifice of Head and body is complete, God will recognize the whole world as justified freely, as he now recognizes the church, and then as at first, "The glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together." When the sacrifice for the world is ended, the results of harmony with God will flow to them. Just as when the sacrifice of the "head" for the church was complete, the Holy Spirit was given to all the church at Pentecost, so when the work of "atonement," sacrifice for the world is over, they will be similarly blessed, [R96 : page 2] as it is written – "After those days I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh. Pentecost was merely a first fruit of the Spirit, the remainder will be like it, but more general. Pentecost was the early rain, but God has promised – "I will give you the early and the latter rain.
The first sacrifice was Aaron's – typical of how Christ's must precede all others and his blood must consecrate the altar. Aaron therefore went unto the altar and slew the calf of the sin offering which was for himself, (Ver. 8.) i.e., which represented himself. Our high priest did not offer a calf for himself, but actually "offered up himself." Lev. 16. (March No.) showed us that this offering of himself was as a sin-offering for himself – the body, the little flock – and his house – the Levites, the great company. "And the sons of Aaron brought the blood unto him and he dipped his finger in the blood and put it upon the horns of the altar and poured out the blood at the bottom of the altar." (Vs. 9.) The horns are typical of the power of the altar; their being covered with blood, seems to say that none can fully appreciate the power of this altar of sacrifice, without first recognizing the blood. Thus seen, all the power of the altar was attained only through the blood. The horns of the altar reached in every direction – north, south, east and west; so God's power to all men is unlimited, but he chooses to cover all the power with the blood of atonement. And if we understand the type aright, it teaches that God's power toward all men to save them, is exercised only through the sacrificed life – the death of Jesus Christ our Lord, and "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, (that Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man,) for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth."
The blood poured at the bottom of the altar, shows that there was an abundance; it covered the altar and plenty to spare. The action of the Priests in bringing the blood, seems to show that all who will be priests, will, as an individual matter, recognize the value of the blood of Jesus, and personally realize the power of God in Christ, (the horns under the blood.)
The fat and kidneys were not offered upon the altar, probably representing the inward and outward affections of Jesus. These affections were not things condemned in man, and consequently, were not given as a part of the ransom. The gall was added, possibly, representing some of his bitter experiences in connection with the sacrifice; these, God accepts as a Burnt offering, or sweet savor, but the flesh and blood, (man's fleshly nature and life,) being forfeited by sin, Jesus gave his natural life and fleshly nature, upon which sin had no claim, with it to redeem from the condemnation of sin, man's natural body and life.
These things, the fleshly nature represented by the flesh and hide – were burnt, destroyed – without the camp. All mankind was under condemnation of complete destruction of life and body, when Jesus came forward and gave his life for ours, and his body for ours – the Father giving him another life and body, viz: spiritual, when he raised him up. And now we preach through His name, that because He thus gave himself a ransom, man will be released from the condition of death, and that in God's "due time," there will be "a resurrection, both of the just and unjust" – and that the merit of his obedience, "even unto death," is as far-reaching in its effects upon the human family for its release from death, (and all that word means,) and the restoration of life, as it was before sin and death were known. As far-reaching, we believe, as was the disobedience of Adam to destroy that life and produce this death. And as through the disobedience of one man, many were constituted sinners, so, also, through the obedience of one, many will be constituted righteous, i.e., justified. Rom. 5:19, "Diaglott."
Vs. 15: "And he brought the peoples' offering and took the goat which was the sin-offering for the people, and slew it and offered it for sin as the first," (the calf.) This goat of the sin offering, we think, represents the church, which, by faith and obedience even unto the crucifying of the fleshly nature, becomes "His body." (See March No.) Vs. 22: "And Aaron lifted up his hand toward the people and blessed them, and came down from offering of the sin-offering, &c." "And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation and came out and blessed the people." Jesus, our head, entered the holy of holies, 1800 years ago as "our fore-runner," and this word fore-runner, indicates that we are to follow him there; that he went in first with the blood (evidence of death,) of the bullock and sprinkled, then came out and took in the blood of the goat, representing our entrance with him, we saw illustrated in Lev. 16, but the picture we now consider, shows not the separate entering of the head and body, but their entrance when united – made one. Aaron stands at the altar and slays both bullock and goat, and when all sacrifices are ended, (the close of the gospel age,) he goes into the tabernacle representing head and body complete. When our sacrifices are ended, and head and body are complete, we shall come into the presence of our Father, and the work being accepted of him, He authorizes us to go forth and bless the people – "In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed, which seed is Christ, and if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs" – of this promise to bless all the people.
Here it is that the Aaronic priesthood ends and the Melchizedek priesthood begins, the one typical of our career of suffering and death, the other represents our exalted condition as, with Jesus, "a King upon His throne," blessing all people. "And the glory of the Lord appeared unto all the people." ("The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.") Vs. 24: "And there came a fire out from before the Lord and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat, which, when all the people saw, they shouted and fell on their faces." A fire from the Lord indicates his acceptance and perfect satisfaction with all the work of atonement as done, and no wonder all the people prostrated themselves before God. We believe it will be so in the next age when the world can –
Moses directs in all the affairs of this type; probably representing "the law" which indicates to us, God's will. What in the other picture was indicated by the taking in of the blood, is here represented by Moses' going in with Aaron. So to speak, "The Law" goes into the presence of God with us, declaring: The sacrifice is complete, the price paid, the full ransom of the world. "The righteousness of The Law is fulfilled in us." It would seem further to teach that when the church leaves the world and enters the presence of God, (the holy of holies,) law and order leave also, which would of necessity produce anarchy and confusion, and this part of the type seems to agree with the statements elsewhere made of the "time of trouble" and reign of terror which will be upon the earth after the Bride leaves it. When "the salt of the earth" is removed, the mass become greatly corrupted, but when the glory of the Lord shall be revealed at the close of this day of wrath – when "He shall appear," and "we also appear with him," the blessing will commence and with us comes law and order, (as typified by Moses, appearing again,) and assists in blessing the people.
But while thinking of our glorious work of blessing the world in the future, we should not forget, nor neglect our present privileges in this direction, for remember, Aaron blessed the people before he went into the holy place: So all who, as members of that body, have crucified themselves, should seek, so far as they have ability, to "Do good unto all men, especially unto those of the household of faith." Let us bless now, as in the future, temporally and spiritually, as we may be able. We can all certainly bless some, spiritually. May not "the deep things of God" be equally as blessed to others as to you? Be not selfish, be not negligent, be not slothful servants. Freely we have received, freely let us give.
The editor purposes making a trip east from Pittsburgh as far as Lynn, Mass. It will afford him pleasure to stop off at different points not too far from the main roads and meet with the "two's and three's" in a private way; or if deemed advisable, would be glad to address public meetings on "Things pertaining to the kingdom of God."
Our readers are much scattered, some places 2 and 3, and on up to 50. Many places they are totally unacquainted with each other, and thus lose the sympathy and comfort which our Father designed should come to them by "The assembling of themselves together as the manner of some is." It is His design that we should "Edify one another," and build each other up in the most holy faith. The proposed meetings we would hope, might conduce to personal acquaintance.
In the thirteenth chapter of Matthew, are given two parables, in which the Son of Man is represented as a sower. The first of them is usually called the parable of the sower, and the second the parable of the tares and the wheat. These parables are related to each other, but should not be confounded. We may learn something by comparing them; and in the application of these two parables, we have the advantage of the fact that the Saviour explained them both. We must regard it as a fundamental principle in the interpretation of parables, that when the Lord explained them they need no further explanation. It is probably true that no two parables teach, or illustrate, exactly the same thing. So, after having given the parable of the sower, and explained it, when the word says, "Another parable put He forth unto them" (Ver. 24.), we may safely conclude He had something more to communicate – that some additional truths were to be illustrated.
Christ is the sower in both parables. It is stated so of the second parable (Ver. 37.), but we learn that He is the sower of the first parable by the nature of the seed sown. We think all admit this.
In the first parable the seed sown is the "word of the kingdom" (Ver. 19), and in the second "the good seed are the children of the kingdom." (Verse 38.) In the first it is truth, and in the second, persons. Some one has called this distinction a foolish one, and said that the Son of Man does not sow persons. This only proves that such an one does not understand the parables. Whoever calls the distinction foolish charges the Saviour with folly, for it is His own explanation. The reasonableness of the distinction between the two kinds of seed will be seen when we consider the distinction in the fields.
We, be it remembered, are not responsible for this distinction – these are the Lord's own words. The word "world," above quoted, is not aion, as in the next verse – "The harvest is the end of the world" (aion – age), but it is translated from the Greek word, "kosmos." This word is used when the general order of things is meant, as when the "world that then was" (before the flood) is referred to. (2 Pet. 3:6.) It is also used when the people are meant, as "God so loved the world;" "Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world;" and all similar passages. There is another shade of meaning in the word, as used in several places, as: "God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world." Jno. 3:17. "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. (1 Tim. 1:15.) "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world." 1 Jno. 2:15. Any thoughtful reader will readily see the difference between the world as a place, as used in these several scriptures, and the world of mankind who live in that place, and whom Jesus came to save.
Any one might see that there is a clear difference between sowing the word of the kingdom in the hearts of men, which work began where the personal ministry of Christ began, and the planting of the church in the world, which did not take place until the day of Pentecost. As the church of Christ was to be composed of converted sinners, it was necessary that the word of the kingdom, as a converting power, should be preached, for a time, before the founding of the church. For proof that the word, understood, is the converting power, see verse 15. The sowing of the word, in parables, and the explaining of them to some, went on during the ministry of Jesus, but He spoke of the building of the church as future. "On this rock I will build my church." Matt. 16:18. The foundation was not even laid until Christ was risen – a spiritual being. The building is a spiritual house, and is built on a spiritual rock. The true church has always recognized and worshiped a living spiritual Christ – there is no other. Keeping in mind the above facts, we will see that the parable of the sower must have begun to be fulfilled three years and a half sooner than that of the tares and wheat, and we may see why it is never said, "The kingdom of heaven is likened to a sower." It is simply, "Behold, a sower went forth to sow." In the other parables it is "the kingdom of heaven" that is represented. The reason is obvious: there was no church of Christ, or kingdom of heaven, until the day of Pentecost. The work of sowing the word was to prepare for the establishment of the church in its due time, and the "holding forth the word of life," or preaching to the unconverted, has been carried on through the whole dispensation, for the purpose of converting them, and so preparing them for a place in the kingdom. The relation and harmony between the two parables can be seen far more clearly by preserving the distinctions made by the Saviour, between the two kinds of seed, and the two fields, than by confounding them. The first parable prepares the way for the other. The first deals with the individual; the second, with the church collectively. The first parable has only one kind of seed – the world. Three out of four classes of hearers brought forth no fruit. In the one class that received the word in good ground ("an honest and good heart;" Luke 8:15), there is a variety in the amount of fruit – "Some an hundred fold, some sixty fold, and some thirty fold." Ver. 8. All who bear fruit in any degree, are evidently "the children of the kingdom" – the branches, weak or strong, of the living Vine, for "Every branch in me [says Jesus] that beareth not fruit, He taketh away." Jno. 15:2.
In the parable of the tares and wheat there are two sowers and two kinds of seed, both explained by the Saviour. The Son of Man sowed the good seed – "the children of the kingdom," as we have seen, and the devil sowed the tares – "the children of the wicked one." There is a clear contrast between the "children of God" and "the children of the devil." There is, as we have admitted, a variety among the children of God – some are babes, and some are more fully developed, but the Bible recognizes no such absurdity as that the children of the devil are at the same time Christians, and it is passing strange that any Christian ever should have invented or promulgated such an idea.
The apostle John speaks of the variety among Christians – little children, young men and fathers – (1 Jno. 2:12-13), but makes a contrast between the Church and the world. "We know that we are of God, but the whole world lieth in wickedness," (literally "in the Wicked One"). 1 Jno. 5:19. "In this the children of God are manifested, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother." 1 Jno. 3:10.
It is true that Paul recognizes the fact that Christians have the old man – the flesh – to contend with, and hence the warfare spoken of in Rom. 7. But Paul clearly shows that whoever has the Spirit of Christ is a son of God, and "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. Rom. 8:9-14. "Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you." Those in whom the good work of the Spirit is ever begun, are counted on the living side – "risen with Christ," – and not on the side of death and the devil. This is our encouragement, and also makes us debtors, not to live after the flesh but after the Spirit. Ver. 12-13.
When Jesus says, "the tares are the children of the wicked one," let no one say, the tares are errors, sown in the hearts of Christians, or that the tares are carnal Christians – "babes in Christ." If the tares are errors, then the tares are not persons at all; so if the wheat be truths, they are not persons at all. But again, if the wheat mean truths in the heart and the tares mean errors in the same heart, then the harvest is not a separation of persons at all, but simply a cleansing of the hearts of Christians from error; but this would neither agree with the teachings of Jesus nor with the theories of men who make such applications. The harvest is a separation of two classes of persons, who were permitted to "grow together until the harvest." Ver. 30. But if the tares are of the world, are all the world tares? No; only men of the world, who get so far out of their place as to profess to be Christians, are tares. The tares are the unconverted men in the Church – sown among the wheat. Ver. 25. If a farmer sows a field with chess, the chess is not then a weed, but it is a weed when sown among the wheat. It has always been the duty of Christians, to grow in grace and in knowledge, and no person can advance in knowledge [R98 : page 3] without discarding some error or mistaken ideas. The Apostles were constantly exhorting and warning the early Christians against errors, and those who advanced them. "Prove all things, and hold fast that which is good," has always been both the duty and privilege of Christians. But if wheat be truth, and tares, errors then these Apostles contradicted the Saviour. How would his words sound thus paraphrased: "Shall we root up the error? He said nay, lest while ye root up the error, ye root up the truth also. Let both truth and error grow together until the harvest, and then I will say to the angels, gather ye together first the errors, and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the truth into my barn." And the errors are to be cast into a furnace of fire, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. If we would escape such absurd conclusions, let us cling to the Saviour's own explanation of wheat and tares. But, it may be asked, has it not always been the duty of the Church to cast out unconverted men? I answer, no. Men who committed outrageous sins, could be known, and were to be dealt with; but merely for not being Christians, they could not be dealt with. An unconverted man, a man who loves not our Lord Jesus, might be outwardly consistent in conduct, and yet give no real evidence of being spiritual. But man is not competent to judge in such cases. Hence Paul says: "Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the [R98 : page 4] hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the councils of the hearts." 1 Cor. 4:5. And yet, in the next chapter, he tells them to deal with the fornicator, "To deliversuch an one to Satan for the destructionof the flesh," &c. Man could deal with sinners, but when it was a heart work, a question of motive, they could not deal with it. They might make a mistake, and men have often made such mistakes. Of such Jesus said: "Nay, lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up the wheat also. Let both grow together till the harvest." Then the angels, of superior power and wisdom, will do the work of separation. In harmony with this, Paul says, "If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema maranatha," that is: Let him be cut off. The Lord cometh. 1 Cor. 16:21.
As the parable of the sower begins sooner than that of the tares and wheat, so it ends sooner. The first does not include the harvest work, while the latter does. The harvest of the Jewish age was the beginning of the gospel age; so the harvest of the Gospel age is the beginning of the Millennium.
There was a sense in which the Jewish age ended at the Cross, and another sense in which it was extended 37 years. So, we believe, there is a sense in which the gospel age ended in 1878, and another sense in which it is extended 37 years, or until 1914.
The closing work of the Jewish age included the burning of the chaff; Matt. 3:12, and the closing of the gospel includes the burning of the tares; Matt. 13:40. In this there is a parallelism, but there is one grand event here that had no pattern at the dawn of the gospel – that is, the translation of the saints. "Watch ye, therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape those things that shall come to pass, and stand before the Son of Man." The saints shall execute the judgments written, as did Aaron with Moses. "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the Sun."
The disciples ask, "What shall be the sign of Thy parousia, (presence, Emp. Dia.) and of the end of the world?" (Matt. 24:3.) The first words of the recorded answer show the need of a sign. Take heed, let no man deceive you, for many shall come in My name saying, "I am Christ," and shall deceive many, (Vers. 4-5.) A sign will enable those who obey this injunction to discern between the false and the true.
Again, a sign will be needed because of the obscurity which marks the period of his return. His presence is not to be accompanied by such physical demonstrations as shall make all aware of it. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the presence of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, and knew not until the flood came and took them all away, so shall also the presence of the Son of man be, (Vers. 37-39.) All things will indeed continue as from the beginning. How then will the church be aware of His presence, except by a sign?
This sign will not be given to all. Only those can see it who have obeyed his commands, and these cannot show it to the unfaithful. They are the ones whose hearts are not overcharged with surfeiting and the cares of this life. Their hands are clean and their hearts pure. Paul calls them "children of the light," and says that because they are of the light, that day shall not overtake them as a thief. 1 Thess. 5:4.
We are now prepared to consider the nature of this sign. Christ describes it in answer to the question asked by His disciples, "What shall be the sign of Thy presence." He says: "Then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ, or there, believe it not, for there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, inasmuch, that if it were possible they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before, wherefore if they shall say unto you, behold, He is in the desert, go not forth; behold, He is in the secret chamber, believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the presence of the Son of man be, (Matt. 24:23-28). This "lightning" cannot be natural light, else His presence would not be likened to the days that were before the flood. Spiritual light is divine truth. Hence a great and wonderful unfolding of truth is all that the bible gives us a right to expect during the presence of the Son of man, and before translation. Some teach that He may appear to us before we are made like Him. But we know not where the Bible gives us any warrant for such expectation. On the contrary it is written, "It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is, (1 John 3:2). Again, when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory. (Col. 3:4). Hence, we urge on those who are "looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ," the Saviour's command, "Take heed let no man deceive you." The light of truth made plain by the Spirit, is the only promised guide, while here we wait. And this to us, is far more convincing than any physical manifestation could be.
It is God's purpose to save a lost world. This work is committed into the hands of Jesus Christ, whose work is expressive of the wisdom, power and love of God. The end gained is the fruit of God's love. An imperfect view of the fruit, must cause an imperfect idea of the love itself, and the effect must be an injury to us. "A child is known by its doings," and "A tree is known by its fruit." The Lord says, "Come let us reason together," "are not my ways equal?" An appreciation of His ways and doings is akin to sympathy and fellowship. Knowledge and love are certainly related to each other; – love appreciated, produces love. "We love Him because He first loved us," and love makes obedience cheerful. Gratitude and love are the springs of successful human life. Oh, that we may be in sympathy with God's purpose. That purpose is variously expressed. "Her seed shall bruise thy head." Gen. 3:15. This threatening of death to the serpent means blessing to mankind. He destroys the enemy to deliver the captives. Heb. 2:14-15. The opening chapters of Genesis give the entrance of the curse of sin and death, and the last chapters of Revelations reveal the success of God's plan, – "There shall be no more curse." Rev. 22:3. "There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away." (21:4). The history of the past is in harmony with human experience, and the hope revealed is in harmony with human necessities, and the Bible is thus shown to be in harmony with facts and with itself. What was implied in the threatening against the serpent, was expressed two thousand years later in God's covenant with Abraham: "In thy seed shall all nations – 'kindreds' – 'families' – of the Earth be blessed." From that time dates the promise of God, which the law, given four hundred and thirty years after, could not disannul. Gal. 3:17. The divine nature or spirit is the basis of the success, and is imparted, not by law, which cannot give life (Ver. 21), but by the "exceeding great and precious promises." 2 Pet. 1:4. The going forth of the word of the Lord, in all ages, or in all stages of its development, must have reference to the great end; as when man builds for a home and its comforts, he keeps that in mind when the stones are being quarried, the timbers hewn, the foundation laid, and through all the steps of building. Of His own word the Lord says: "It shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that [R99 : page 4] which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." Isa. 55:11. "When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand, he shall see the travail of his soul and be satisfied." 53:10-11, "He shall not fail or be discouraged, until he shall have set judgment in the Earth, and the isles shall wait for his law." "He shall not quench the smoking flax nor break the bruised reed until He bring forth judgment unto victory." "The Lord shall make bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God." 52:10. "All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before Him, for the kingdom is the Lord's and He is the Governor among the nations." Ps. 22.
"When Thy judgments are in the Earth the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness." Isa. 26:9. These are but a sample of the prophetic utterances dictated by the spirit of Christ, and the New Testament takes up the strain and carries it forward to the glad climax. "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." Jno. 1:29. "That was the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world." "Behold we bring unto you glad tidings of great joy which shall be unto all people." "Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace and good will toward men."
"He must reign until He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." "He gave Himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time." "Because of His humiliation and obedience unto death, even the death of the cross." "Therefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven, in earth, and under the earth," &c. Phil. 2:9-10.
"All nations shall come and worship before Thee, for Thy judgments are made manifest." Rev. 15:4. These broad and sweeping statements are the common utterances of the Bible, in reference to the ultimate result of the work of Christ, and the only exception to the final salvation of all, is in the case of those who sin willfully after they have come to the knowledge of the truth; or who having been begotten of the spirit by the word of truth, fail to come to the second birth, and so are not counted. All who ever come to perfect spiritual manhood, that is, the image of God, will retain it, and when the work is finished sin and death will be unknown.
God's work is one of order as well as love, overlooking which the love is obscured. The consummation is to be reached by the various steps, called ages, each age having its own [R99 : page 5] part of the work to do. No age has been too short for its purpose. The succession of ages indicates the progressive character of the plan. Before the flood but little law or light was given, and men were left to work out the natural life of sinful flesh to its legitimate consequence – death. The great fact must be proved that "All flesh is as grass." Until man has learned this lesson he knows not how truly to lay hold on the arm of the Lord extended to help. Sin existed, but was not imputed, nevertheless death reigned, even over the irresponsible. Rom. 5:13-14. Sin was not properly known, as "exceeding sinful," but was counted as in a dormant or "dead state." The sinner was conceited, until the law came. Says Paul: "I had not known sin but by the law, for I had not known lust unless the law had said: 'Thou shalt not covet.' But sin taking occasion by the commandment wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin (existed but) was dead. For I was alive, without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived (lived again) and I died." Rom. 7:7-9.
It is clear that Paul is not speaking of the original entrance of sin and death, for sin revived but of the effect of the "law that was added because of transgression," to give the "knowledge of sin" and show it in its true character as "exceeding sinful." Ver. 13.
In the Patriarchal age the Promise of a Deliverer was given, and in the Jewish age, in addition to the giving of the law, which condemns man and cannot save, there was developed by types and prophecy much light in reference to the coming Saviour. God only dealt with the Jewish nation during that age, and they gained the impression that He cared little or nothing for the other nations. They were as the literal descendants of Abraham through Isaac, the "seed according to the flesh." But "the children of the flesh," says Paul, "are not the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted for the seed;" Rom. 9:8, and adds: "We, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of the promise." Gal. 4:28. From all of which it is evident that the church of Christ is the Seed, that the gospel dispensation is the period for its development, and therefore the real work of bruising the serpent and blessing the nations belongs to an age after Christ comes and gathers His church to Himself and to a share of His glory. During this gospel dispensation the church has quite naturally fallen into a similar error as that of the Jews, that their dispensation was final, and that none could be blessed beyond. While the truth is that God, in the gospel age, has been "taking out a people for His name," for the very purpose of sharing with Him in the greater work of saving the world. That the church have been objects of His special care and love is true, and all the angels of heaven have been to the "heirs of salvation" ministers of mercy. Heb. 1. We can, with these facts before us, more fully appreciate what it is to be "called according to His purpose." That purpose is to bless the world in the ages to come. Eph. 2:7. Here is the High Calling of God in Jesus Christ. And to fit us for our work, we are called unto holiness, and called to pass through trials and peculiar difficulties, as fire to refine and purify us. "These light afflictions work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." "And all things shall work together for good to them that love God; – to them that are the called according to His purpose."
Oh, that we may forget the things that are behind, and keeping the eye on the mark, press on for the heavenly prize. Phil. 3:13-14.
"I Beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." Rom. 12:1.
This is Paul's exhortation to the church – a comprehensive sermon in one verse. They were "brethren" in Christ, having been "planted together in the likeness of his death" (6:5), and yet had not made a complete sacrifice. They had not yet apprehended that for which Christ had apprehended them. Phil. 3:12.
This is attainable, but a sacrifice is demanded – the crucifixion and death of the "sinful affections and lusts." Death by crucifixion is a painful process. "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh," – "the old man," "that the body of sin might be destroyed." Rom. 6:6; Gal. 5:24. This is Christ's object in reference to us, and we are urged to keep this object ever in view. "He that is dead is freed from sin." Now if we be dead with Christ we believe that we shall also live with Him:
"Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more, death hath no more dominion over Him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once, but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye yourselves also to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God."
"Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof." Rom. 6:7-12. The practical import of all this is, that we sin not, keeping the body under subjection to the law of the spirit, the new nature in Christ Jesus, and so bring forth fruit unto holiness. This kind of dying is indeed a painful process, but it is a voluntary sacrifice which is required. This is not the curse which was pronounced on Adam: "Dying thou shalt die." That death "passed upon all men," "even upon those who had not sinned, after the similitude of Adam's transgression." Rom. 5:12-14. From that curse reconciliation is effected by the death of Christ, who gave Himself a ransom for all. Rom. 5:10. It is the voluntary offering of redeemed life which God seeks and which is pleasing to Him. He, by the price paid, had become rightfully possessor. "Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are His." He is Lord and Master we are called upon to admit his claims, and thus be at agreement with God. "Be ye reconciled to God," may be applicable to the unconverted, but it was addressed to Christians. See 2 Cor. 5:20.
It is not to be inferred that because Christ's death is presented as an example of voluntary obedience to the will of God, which we are to follow, that therefore this was the only feature or object of his death. His death is as a ransom, meritorious, but it is none the less exemplary on this account. He gave His life, on which the law had no claim, to redeem man's life, on which the law had a claim, and thus made it possible for man to make a willing sacrifice to God, as He Himself had made, [R100 : page 5] and hence it is that "if we suffer we shall also reign with Him."
The service which the Lord requires is "reasonable," because He is Lord. He claims but His own when He asks all. The process of mortifying the deeds of the body involves a separation from the world. "Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of the mind." (Ver. 2). "Though the outward man perish, the inward man is renewed day by day." "Daily bread" is provided by the word of God to enable us to grow, and to overcome self and the world. The maxims and pleasures of the world are not friendly to grace to help us on to God, and the command to be separate is not so unimportant as it seems to be estimated by many professed followers of Christ. Non-conformity is the safeguard against shipwreck of faith.
The motive to make the sacrifice is "The mercies of God." There is reference by the word "therefore" to the merciful dealing of God with Israel, recorded in the eleventh chapter. Oh, that all knew something of the plan of the ages, by which God's love and mercy is manifested, but now we deal with the principle that the goodness of God leadeth to repentance. Rom. 2:4.
That goodness is revealed in Christ. The plan of ages is the work of Christ. He is indeed the Rock of Ages. The Cross of Christ – His sacrifice – is central and from it emanates the world's life and hope. Hence Paul could say: "God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." In referring to the mercies, Paul appeals to gratitude and love, and these are the springs of true human life. His love shed abroad in our hearts – known and appreciated – is the cause of the greatest victories.
We know only in part, but the little we know is great. What He has done for us, is the reason of the call for return. His sacrifice is both the reason and the pattern for ours. Both His and ours look to God and then to man. His satisfies justice; ours is a grateful offering, giving evidence of His success and the power of the gospel over us. The object of his, humanward was to save mankind. Ours should be the same – He is the Way; while we point the way to others. His was complete, no reserve; we must withhold nothing. Have we not lived for self long enough. Let the time past suffice in that direction.
The condition of the surrendered heart is: "Lord what wilt Thou have me to do?" "Present your bodies" – All powers; talents, time and property. We are stewards for the Lord. Where? On the altar of God's appointing, and as he may direct. The good Samaritan feature of Christ's life may indicate the altar of human hearts. God will give the willing worker something to do. The spirit of the Gospel both in this age and that to come, is to give light and to bless mankind. The spirit of the present should be as the spirit of our hope: to save mankind. Here we have but the earnest of grace and power. "Then shall the righteous shine." With all consecrated to Christ and exercised in his service we may reasonably expect his smile and fellowship. The fellowship of Christ is the fellowship of the sons of God.
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The law being a shadow of good things to come, it is necessary, if we would grasp the substance, to trace very closely the outline there given. While our Father has granted us, as a part of his children, a great deal of light we believe there are mines of wealth in His precious word, that are, as yet, but little known. We think The Law is a whole mining district. Paul has opened some large crevices in it, through the letter to the Hebrews and in other places, and we can see the gems sparkling brightly as he lets the light in upon them; but these are given only, it would seem, to lead us on, to incite us to search as men search for hidden treasures.
We wish, at this time, to look at the Tabernacle and its contents, and before entering into details, will first glance at its general appearance. The outer inclosure was called the court of the tabernacle. It was surrounded by posts or pillars, evidently of wood, with bases of copper, [incorrectly brass in A.V.] and caps, hooks, &c., of silver, from which hung a continuous curtain of fine twined linen. Within this was the tent or tabernacle, constructed of gold-covered boards on three sides, with posts and a curtain on the front or east end. Ex. 26:18-27, covered above with curtains of goats' hair, of rams' skins dyed red, and uppermost, of badgers' skins. The inside of the tent was hung with curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet adorned with cherubim.
This beautiful curtain evidently formed the ceiling and hung down each side within the tabernacle. The tent was divided into two compartments by a vail of the same description as the curtains. We are not given the position of the vail, but probably, as in the temple, [1 Kings 6:2,17,20,] the holy place was twice the size of the most holy.
In the holy place were: the table of show-bread, upon the north or right hand side; the golden lampstand opposite on the south, and the altar of incense directly in front, close to the separating vail. Ex. 40:5-30. Within the vail stood alone the ark of the covenant, hidden in the secret place, unseen by the common priest, and shrouded in impenetrable darkness. Even when approached by the high priest once a year, although then probably illuminated with the shekinah of glory, it must still be covered from him by a cloud of incense. Lev. 16:12-13.
What has been the work of the church in the past ages, what can it be in the future, but simply to hold up to the view of the world without, the spotless righteousness of Christ? Hidden behind that snowy curtain, covered by that seamless robe, standing alone by divine power, linked together by the truth, they form a long united row, reaching down the stream of time.
"A glittering host in bright array," or, as Peter says: "A chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people," living for what purpose? to "show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." Truly, as Paul says, we are surrounded by a "cloud of witnesses." Within the court there were solemn mysteries transpiring, and many beautiful sights which it was not lawful for those without to even catch a glimpse of. They must first see and appreciate the righteousness of Christ. "For he who cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him."
Being drawn toward Christ by what we have already seen, we come to the gate of the court. "And for the gate of the court shall be a hanging of twenty cubits, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework." Ex. 27:16.
Here we behold Christ as the Door, and as we draw near, we find him radiant with beauty. What mean these colors? "A True Blue" is the synonym for a faithful one. The blue of the national flag of many countries stands for fidelity. We think the symbol is of divine origin. In Num. 15:37-41, we find that the Lord commanded Moses to make a ribbon of blue on a fringe for their garments. They were to look upon it and remember their duty to God. It was to inspire their fidelity by recalling his faithfulness. Purple is the badge of royalty. The purple robe that the mocking soldiers placed on Christ, was an emblem that had its origin in very early times. In Judges 8:26, we find the kings of Median robed in this color. Scarlet was also worn by kings, but we think it spoke of blood when used under the law. Thus the beautiful gate of the court pointed to Christ, as the "Faithful and True," as the "King of Kings," and as the great "High Priest," the "Redeemer" and "Saviour" of the world. [R101 : page 6]
The altar of Burnt Offering was made of shittim wood covered with plates of brass [copper]. It was a beautiful type of Christ. Christ as the man of sorrows, as the Lamb of God. Christ in his human nature [corruptible wood] clothed with power divine [the copper plates]. The wood alone must have burnt up – Adam fell.
It was four-sided, presenting a full breadth of side to every quarter of the earth. Being square it typified the perfection of Christ. It was five cubits long, five wide, and only three cubits high. Its dimensions speak chiefly of length and breadth as a Saviour of all men, who saves to the uttermost. It was comparatively low, typifying one easy of access, and a free salvation.
It had four horns to which the victims could be tied that were to be sacrificed, and to which persons in danger of being slain might flee for safety. Ps. 118:27, 1 Kings 2:28. These evidently pointed to Christ as our Refuge, and to his abundance of power and grace to all who should come to him. The fire continually burning upon it, and never allowed to go out (Lev. 6:13) speaks of consecration complete and continuous.
Fire is used as a symbol of love. Here it would be love unceasing and unchangeable. Not that we first loved him, but that he first loved us. Not that he loves us because we are good, or since we began to be good, but "God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Oh that not only the world, but the church might understand the meaning of the words, "GOD IS LOVE." The words by the last prophet ring down through the ages. "For I am Jehovah, I change not, therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." As the altar of burnt offering, consuming whatever was laid upon it, it points to the absolute devotedness of Christ to his Father's will; and also to what is required of his followers who profess to lay themselves upon that altar. "Whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy." "The altar sanctifieth the gift."
Fire is a purifying agent, but it purifies by destruction. Jesus came in a body prepared, and offered himself a whole burnt offering. His sacrifice was not the stepping down temporarily from a higher to a lower plane. That was necessary as a part of the preparation for the sacrifice, as was the presentation of the victim to the priest at the door of the tabernacle. Or as Paul says: "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. "For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham." 2:19 [should be 2:16 - site Editor]. Why? For the simple reason that angels cannot die. Luke 20:36. "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver them, who, through fear of death [same kind of death] were all their lifetime subject to bondage." The son of Mary – not the pre-incarnate word, as such – was called Jesus; not because he had, but because "he shall save his people from their sins." Jesus came to die. "He is brought as a lamb [dumb] to the slaughter." He made his "soul [life] an offering for sin. ....He hath poured out his soul unto death." What death? After "being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, [not humbled himself to be a man] and became obedient unto death, EVEN THE DEATH OF THE CROSS." Phil. 2:8. We pity those who profess to be christians and despise "the death of the cross." Yes! the altar spoke of death; and when the high priest went into the holy of holies he did not carry in the restored life of the victim by any means; he rather took in the sure proof of its utter destruction; so, "though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more."
From the golden altar inside the tabernacle, every morning and evening there floated heavenward a cloud of sweet incense – making acceptable the prayers of the saints – but that altar itself was only acceptable because it had been sprinkled with the atoning blood taken from the side of the altar of burnt offering. In other words, the risen Saviour – the golden altar – was only acceptable because of the work [obedience unto death] of the man Christ Jesus – the altar of wood and brass." Woe to those who despise "a dead Christ" in their prayers. We do pray in the [R101 : page 7] name of him who was dead, but now ever liveth to make intercession for us. Christ was our forerunner, and we too must lay ourselves upon this altar; our old nature is doomed to death; while we are separated, delivered from this body of death through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Christ by the pouring out of "his own blood" has redeemed us from the condition in which Adam's sin placed us and so a resurrection is assured us. "For as in [or through] Adam all die, even so in [or through] Christ shall all be made alive." If any would attain to the Divine nature and life, they must take their sinning nature – the old man – and bring it to this altar, Jesus, and put it to death: crucify it with the affections and lusts. Gal. 5:24. "Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon." Exod. 20:26.
We cannot come to Christ by steps. We must come as we are and come at once. When we realize our degradation and sin, human nature says: do not present yourself in that condition, tone up, break off bad habits, try to be good, and after climbing up a few steps, come to Christ. Vain resolve! ending only in broken vows and bitter disappointment; and as the pure light of Heaven streams upon us, we realize our own weakness and nakedness and poverty; that our righteousness is but filthy rags, and that our great want is the spotless robe of Christ's righteousness to cover us completely, that the shame of our nakedness do not appear.
In antitype, the fire of this altar has not yet gone out. We see a groaning creation loaded down with sin and sorrow, waiting, hoping for a better day. We expect to see the dross all burned up, with every vestige of miasma and taint of sin: and to rejoice in the joy of a purified world even though purged by "the fire of his jealousy," for "our God is a consuming fire."
The recent elections in England which involve a change in the ministry and the removal from office of the world-renowned Hebrew, Lord Beaconsfield, might at first sight appear to be a hindrance to the restoration of Israel to Palestine. For several years have things seemed particularly favorable to the Jew, and one of the principal aids in this direction seemed to be the interest, statesmanship, and political opportunity afforded by the high standing of this celebrated man. Now but a short time after he has procured for his race much relief from persecution, &c., in Palestine and Turkey, and caused Great Britain to be appointed Protector of the Holy Land, and while he seemed in a fair way to be more useful to them, he is removed from power. At first this may appear disastrous, but perhaps it is not so after all.
Mr. Gladstone, who succeeds Lord Beaconsfield, gave utterance some time since to his sentiments regarding Turkey – viz: That if the Turks cannot and do not, carry out the reforms demanded by the Berlin Treaty, they and their government should be turned out of Europe, bag and baggage. Since the probability of his coming into power, these sentiments are being discussed considerably in diplomatic circles, and it is generally understood that he will put the "Bag and baggage policy" into force. The simple announcement of the drift of the elections is said to have produced almost a panic at Constantinople. While this does not bear directly upon the Jew, it may do so indirectly by placing Palestine more directly under England's control. We may rest assured, however, that God is working all things after the counsel of his own will, and
The restoration comes first; afterward, the Lord will "pour upon them the spirit of grace and supplication, and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and shall all mourn for their sins and turn unto the Lord." "In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness." (Zech. 12:10. and 13.1.) Yes, says Paul, (Rom. 11:26.) "There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, (the Christ, head and body,) and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant (agreement,) unto them when I shall take away their sins." Their sins will not be taken away until the gospel age of sacrifice for sin, (Day of atonement,) is ended and we with our "head" – Jesus come forth to bless the people.
"Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you." Jno. 16:7.
The speaker is Jesus. The disciples are addressed. The circumstances are peculiar and interesting. They were sad, because He had said He was going away. "Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me; and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you." Ch. 13:33. The time for His departure was drawing near. They were gathered to eat their last Passover. After the supper, He had broken the bread and poured the wine, for them to eat and drink, and had said "This is my body;" and "This is my blood;" and "Do this in remembrance of me." True, He had said, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me." He also had said, "I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." Ch. 14:1-3. But while it remained to them an unsolved mystery, is it any wonder that sorrow filled their hearts? Ch. 16:6. Until after He had risen, they knew not, often as He had told them, what even the rising from the dead should mean. How then could they understand His going away and His coming again? He sought not needlessly to make them mourn, but as the time drew near, He sought to prepare them for the ordeal. Not only was He going away, but they were to suffer persecution and be put to death. Ch. 16:2. This was so much different from what they had expected, in a kingdom of earthly glory, no wonder they were despondent and silent. Vs. 5-6. "But," He says, "these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you." Ver. 4. What a blending of tenderness and wisdom, in His dealings with them! There were, it will be seen, several very natural reasons for their sadness. They were to all human appearance about to lose by death, a friend whom they had learned to love. We can all, on account of our own experience, sympathize with them in this. But their grief was intensified by a terrible disappointment. "We trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel." Luke 24:21. They expected earthly glory, and instead of this, He whom they loved and trusted now spoke to them of suffering and death. It was not merely the disappointment, as of those who bury their hopes in a premature grave, but there must have been coupled with it a terrible fear that He had deceived them; that they had loved and trusted an imposter. Most terrible of all fears! And while it remained unexplained, the language of our text only deepens the mystery. Not only going to die and leave us, they might have thought, but He goes so far as to say it is all for our good: "It is expedient for you that I go away." The Comforter will come. You will have Him, instead of me, says Jesus, and it is better for you. He had been their Teacher, and thus their Comforter, for He says, "I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth." Jno. 14:16-17. The Spirit is a Comforter, because He is a Teacher, as was Jesus Himself. Ch. 16:12-15. But Jesus gives them to understand that the other Comforter would be better for them than was He, and not merely a help, partly to make up their loss. Their loss of His presence and teaching was to be their gain. There were doubtless other reasons, not here expressed, why He should go away, but the reason He gives for its being better for them that He should go is: "For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come." The disciples probably did not comprehend this until after the Spirit came, and it may not be understood by all yet, but it is only using our own words to express His statements, when we say that the church is better off under the teachings and comforting influences of the Holy Spirit than they could have been under the instructions, and enjoying the presence of Jesus in the flesh. His going away included the fact of His entrance on the higher life. He was put to death in the flesh, and quickened by the Spirit, and "That which is born of the Spirit is Spirit." 1 Pet. 3:18 and Jno. 3:6. The Holy Spirit is the representative of Himself and His power in that spiritual [R102 : page 8] life. Hence He could say "Lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Matt. 28:20. He is absent in body yet present in Spirit.
The work of the Spirit is two-fold neither part of which could have been done as well by Jesus in the flesh. The two objects to be gained, were the teaching and comforting of the church, and the reproving and enlightening of the world. Ch. 16:8-15.
He was limited, as a man in the flesh, to the ordinary means of travel, and could only be in one place at a time, but the Spirit can be everywhere, and with any number of people at once. However great the seeming loss, and the sorrow of the embryo church must have been, when He was taken from them, certainly the wants of the church in all succeeding generations have been far more fully met by the presence of the Spirit than they could have been by His presence in the flesh. Thousands upon thousands, all through these centuries, and all over the world, have been blessed according to the promise: "Where two or three are met in my name, there I am in the midst."
It was necessary that Christ, as our great High Priest, (having shed His own blood, as represented by the High Priest under the law shedding the blood of the beast – the lower nature,) should enter into the Holiest in virtue of what He had done, in order to secure the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. But this is not the only reason that it was expedient that He should go away. What has been said above, shows the greater value of the Spirit as Teacher and Comforter, than He could have been. Here arises a question: If it was expedient that He should go away, on account of the superiority of the Spirit as Teacher, Comforter and Guide, would the same law of expediency not require that He should remain away? This thought, based upon our text, has been urged by many against the doctrine of the return of Christ, and against the quite popular view, among those looking for the Lord, that He is coming the second time in the flesh. We regard the objection as unanswerable. Should He so come at Jerusalem, He would not be in Europe or in America. He would be limited as before. When the work in the Most Holy is done, it is true He comes into the Holy place, but not in the flesh. "Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him (so) no more." 2 Cor. 5:16. The Sanctuary or holy place, represents the church, not in its fleshly phase, but in its spiritual state, in which we are counted on account of the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us. Rom. 8:9. We are still actually in the flesh, however, (and hence the warfare,) and we can only discern the presence of Christ in the spiritual body, by faith. The only light in the typical holy place, was from the lamp; so we walk in the light of the lamp, by faith. This walking by faith must continue until we cease to be in the flesh actually, as we are now counted; or in other words, until we are changed, and made like Him, and then we shall see Him as He is. 1 Jno. 3:2. When He appears to the world, we shall appear with Him.
The prophetic argument based on the 2300 days (years,) of Dan. 8:14, and the parallelisms of the Two Dispensations, show that Christ was due to come from the Most Holy place in 1844. Some tell us when He comes through the inner vail, He will and must be visible to men in the flesh, and that He will so appear to them that look for Him in 1881. If the supposition that Christ will be visible to men in the flesh when He leaves the most Holy place be correct, and if the parallelisms are correct, then Christ should have [R103 : page 8] been visible from 1844. And if the parallelism is not correct, then there is certainly no ground for expecting anything in 1881 more than in any other year. The advocates of the 1881 point have never claimed any more in favor of that date than a parallel to the last half of the 70th week of Dan. 9. They know as well as we that there is no prophetic period that ends in 1881.
We do not say that the covenant week will not have a parallel here. As the gospel began to go to the Gentiles at the end of the 70th week or three and one-half years after the cross, so the advanced truth here may begin to reach Israel in 1881. There was no coming of Christ three and one-half years after the cross; why should we expect such an event in 1881, admitting the force of the parallelism? There was no change in the condition of believers three and one-half years after the cross; why then, on such ground, expect a change in the condition of believers here? The only change we can see as taking place three and one-half years after the cross, was in the condition of the nominal Jewish church and the gospel turning to the Gentiles. A corresponding change in 1881 would affect the condition of the nominal Christian church and the gospel turning in some special sense to the Jews again.
To claim that Christ will appear as a man in 1881, on the ground of His coming through the vail between the Holy Places, is to ignore the prophetic arguments and the parallelism on which the claim for 1881 is based. Such claims remind us of the illustration of a man using a ladder to reach an important eminence, and then, throwing the ladder down, exclaiming: "Here I am, and I can now go higher, but no thanks to the ladder."
We are quite well assured that those who wait until they see Christ in the flesh, will not be included among the little flock. He has already appeared to every one who is able to discern His presence, and answer to His knock, and open the door to Him. To such, the feast has been a great blessing. But did He not visibly appear on His way in, i.e., after His resurrection? Yes, He did, because He wanted witnesses of His resurrection. We believe He could appear visibly now, if there were any such reason, but there is no promise that He will. But did He not wash His flesh in the Holy place on His way in, and will He, indeed, must He not do the same on His way out? We think it remains to be proved that there was any place or provision for washing in the typical Holy place. The laver was in the court and not in the sanctuary. Before Christ died, He said to His disciples: "Now ye are clean, through the word which I have spoken unto you." Jno. 15:3. We do not assert that this was the washing of Christ's flesh. We would rather leave it to others to make reckless assertions. It may be that the washing of the typical high priest's flesh was to represent the purity of Him who knew no sin, and yet was made sin (a sin-offering) for us. We do not consider it a reckless assertion, when we say that Christ will never appear in the flesh, for the purpose of completing the education of His church. If He should, it would be a contradiction of His own promise that the Spirit would guide them into all truth. The Spirit's work for us will not be finished until we are born of the Spirit, and then we will be Spirit, (Jno. 3:6,) and being like Him, we shall see Him as He is.
Man says we must believe that He will appear as He did in the upper chamber, or we are foolish virgins, and will be shut out from the High Calling. Jesus says: "If they shall say unto you, behold, He is in the desert; go not forth; behold, in the secret chamber; believe it not." Matt. 24:26. We being forewarned, should not be deceived. We do not expect to see Him until we are like Him.
We have for some time understood the Scriptures to teach that the "early and latter rains" refer to special outpourings of abundant blessings of the Spirit upon the church – the early at Pentecost and since; "the latter" in the close of the present age. This seems to correspond with Peter's remark about the light of Divine revelation being shed "on us upon whom the ends of the (age) world are come." (The beginning and closing end.) This imbuement of the spirit is not upon all professed Christians, but upon a "little flock." While the general church seems to daily become more worldly, it has the effect of more perfectly separating the few who are deeply earnest. In harmony with this thought, we have ever expected increase of light and knowledge upon the pathway of the just, and our expectations are wonderfully realized. We have also felt that it was possible that to some might be given, by the same spirit, gifts of faith and miracles.
Our experience would not lead us to expect "miracles," &c., from those who have other gifts of the spirit, such as "teaching," &c., for it is said to divide to each. While we would be very cautious how we call everything miraculous which is uncommon, yet our expectations in this direction lead us to be cautious how we call anything a "fraud," or of the devil, which might be of God.
"WYTHEVILLE, VA., April 15. – For some weeks past the people of Scott county have been excited over the miracles which have been performed by Richard Miller, of that county. His fame has extended all over that section of the state, and hundreds of the afflicted are daily visiting him. Miller is a middle-aged man, employed as the keeper of McMullen's mill, near Estellville. He is deeply religious, and claims to have had a dream a month ago in which the idea was impressed upon him that with God's help he could perform wonderful cures simply through faith. He states that the next day, after fervent prayer, he healed a sick man by touching him. The intelligence of the miracle went all over the country, and the afflicted of all kinds came to him and were healed simply by the touch of his hand. Yesterday G. N. Wertz, a photographer at Abingdon, visited Miller, in company with a paralytic uncle, the seat of paralysis being in the mouth, which deprived him of both the power of speech and hearing. Miller looked at the afflicted man, and, after a short prayer, touched and told him that before he reached home he would be well. Last night, as Mr. Wertz entered the door of his house on his return his hearing and speech came back to him, and to-day he is apparently hale and hearty. Miss Irene Newton, of Bristol, Tenn., helpless from rheumatism, was brought to Miller last week, and when an attempt was made to lift her in the carriage she rose from the sedan chair and said she was entirely well. One of the most wonderful miracles of Miller's was the cure of Mr. Peter Whitesell, who has been for some years afflicted with cancer. The cancer was touched, and in three days had disappeared. The miracle-worker is an exceedingly modest man, and always declines any compensation for his services, alleging that he is but the humble instrument of God. He takes no credit to himself for the performance of these miracles."
If true, the above is wonderful, but if the church lost some of the "gifts" of the spirit when her candlestick was removed (Rev. 2) by her leaving her first love and its simplicity, would it be unreasonable to suppose that as the little company of separated ones return to primitive simplicity and love, the candlestick may be restored, and, as a result, some of the gifts of the spirit? We certainly do not have a desire to oppose anything of this nature. Neither will we "forbid them because they follow not us." We shall expect, however, that all "gifts of the spirit" shall be (during this gospel age) poured out upon God's servants and handmaids, and prepare the way, so that in the next age the spirit may be dispensed to the world, as it is written, "Afterward that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh." (Joel 2:28)