The Editor recognizes a responsibility to the Master, relative to what shall appear in these columns, which he can not and does not cast aside; yet he should not be understood as endorsing every expression of correspondents, or of articles selected from other periodicals.
TERMS: – Fifty cents a year, postage prepaid. You may send paper-money or three cent stamps to the amount of two dollars by mail at our risk. Larger amounts by Check, P.O. Money Order or Registered Letter, payable to C. T. RUSSELL.
Foreign Postage being higher, our terms to foreign subscribers will be 65 cents a year. Please send us no foreign money or postage stamps as we can make no use of them. Remittances may be made by Postal Money Orders.
All persons who have not written to us for the last eighteen months, requesting the continuance of ZION'S WATCH TOWER, will find a red & besides their address, on the wrapper of their paper this month. This signifies that their names will be dropped from our list, unless heard from at once. This will include many of the poor list; but we desire to hear from all once a year, as we do not wish to send the TOWER where not valued enough to ask for it. Attend to this at once. Should an error occur please inform us immediately.
We read in 1 Tim. 6:20, "O Timothy, ...babblings and oppositions of science, falsely so called." This passage the church nominal has ever been ready to quote when an investigation of nature's laws seemed to develop ideas or theories at variance with her cherished opinions; forgetting sometimes to obey the equal injunction. "Prove all things, hold fast that which is good." Paul did not blow hot and cold. In the first place he did not say "science." The word he used means knowledge or wisdom in a more general sense. Secondly, he clearly indicates that it must first be proved to be a vain babbling under the name of wisdom before it is rejected.
Strange to say the church [falsely so called] professing to walk in the light and in the knowledge of God instead of being a leader in the advancement of true science and philanthropy, has not only been a dead load dragging behind, but has often bitterly opposed every advancing step.
The telescope and microscope were denounced as instruments of unholy prying into God's secrets. Astronomy, Geology and whatever truths there may be in the Evolution theory, have been violently assailed; while religious intolerance, human slavery and the divine right (?) of kings has been defended supported and duly prayed for.
Scientists however, have but little room for boasting as regards intolerance. They have denounced each other and frequently claimed what was afterwards proved untrue. The study of nature without a knowledge of nature's God frequently leads to the wildest conceptions. We must first see light in his light to see clearly. Then, a looking down through nature – after having looked up to nature's God – expands the heart and mind; and fills us not only with admiration, but with adoration as we catch the panoramic glimpse of the glory, majesty and power of our transcendent Creator. The God of the Bible is also the God of nature; and if we do not see perfect harmony we may set it down that we misunderstand either the word of inspiration, or the lesson of creation.
We wish at this time to look into the subject of Cosmogony; or the science of the origin and formation of the earth. Many suppose, that the history of creation as given in the first chapter of Genesis, is utterly at variance with the teachings of Geology. This is not the case. Some of the most eminent Geologists believe "that the word of God, properly interpreted, is in harmony with the teachings of their science...also, that the divine word explains the divine work, while the divine work confirms the divine word." Prof. Silliman says, "Every great feature in the structure of the planet corresponds with the order of events narrated in the sacred history." "This history furnishes a record important alike to philosophy and religion; and we find in the planet itself, the proof that the record is true." Prof. Dana declares, "In this succession, we observe not merely an order of events, like that deduced from science; but there is a system in the arrangement, and a far reaching prophecy, to which philosophy could not have obtained, however instructed." He further says, "No human mind was witness of the events; and no such mind in the early age of the world, unless gifted with superhuman intelligence, could have contrived such a scheme, or would have placed the creation of the Sun, the source of light to the earth, so long after the creation of light, even on the fourth day, and, what is equally singular, between the creation of plants and that of animals, when so important to both; and none could have reached to the depths of philosophy exhibited in the whole plan."
Most geologists reckon time only in millions of years; while many Bible students as devotedly claim for the Mosaic account six literal – or 24 hour – days. As to the latter theory, while we do not doubt God's ability to create the earth and its inhabitants in that very short period, yet we do know that such unnatural haste has not been, in other things, his practice. Those who understand the plan of the ages will see this.
Besides, the scriptural use of the word "day" will not support such a conclusion. It is used there as we often use it now, in an accommodated sense. For instance; "The day of temptation in the wilderness;" (forty years.) Heb. 3:8. "In that day;" "The day of the Lord;" (1000 years); and many others. As if the Lord would guard his people against such an error he ends the description of creation in these words: "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth...in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens." Here the whole period is called "the day." So indeed the period of re-generation under the second Adam is called "the day of Christ."
The length of the day of creation is a question which heretofore no one has been able satisfactorily to answer. Many Bible students think that because Peter says "One day is with the Lord as a thousand years" that each day of creation must be of that duration. Peter however was speaking of the period between the day of creation and the day of the Lord; his language can fully apply, only to that period; and is without doubt very strong inferential proof of the theory that the period from the dominion of the first Adam to that of the second will be six thousand years, to be followed by the "Millennium" or the seventh thousand as the antitype of the Jewish Sabbath.
There are good reasons why we should expect the creative days to be different from the thousand year days, which Peter speaks of. Let us not forget however, that Peter links them together; but we will refer to this again.
While we do not see evidence to warrant the need of such enormous periods as some geologists claim, yet we do think that six thousand years (a thousand years to each day) are altogether too short for the amount of change, development, &c., accomplished in the preparation of the earth for man.
Some geologists have claimed thousands of millions of years since life began. "Sir Wm. Thomson has reduced the estimate on physical grounds, to one hundred millions of years as a maximum." [Dana]. As a few hundred millions is only a difference of opinion among these savans, it might be well to leave about that much off from some of their calculations (?). The mode of reckoning used, and the reliability of the data will be understood from the following remarks of Prof. Dana. "In calculations of elapsed time, from the thickness of formations, there is always great uncertainty, arising from the dependance of this thickness on a progressing subsidence, [regular sinking of the land.] In estimates made from alluvial deposits, [soil, etc., washed ashore or deposited by a stream] when the data are based on the thickness of the accumulations in a given number of years – say the last 2000 years – this source of doubt affects the whole calculation, from its foundation, and renders it almost, if not quite, worthless....When the estimate detritus [fine scourings] discharged by a stream, it is of more value. But even here there is a source of great doubt, &c."
A question of the first importance in our investigation is this: At what point in past history did the six days work of Gen. 1 begin? Was it at the beginning of the creation of the universe, as some have conjectured? Was it at the moment of origin of our earth as a distinct planet? Or was it when God began the special work of preparing it for the habitation of man? A work which we believe has not been done as yet in any other sphere. We think it was the latter period. We have no knowledge of the time occupied in creating or evolving the untold myriads of Suns with their satellites; some of them so far away that light (moving 191,000 miles per second) takes millions of years to come to us; thus proving that they were flaming suns millions of years ago.
Scientists claim, without seeming objection, that our earth was once a globe of molten material of which only the crust has yet cooled. That [R299 : page 2] as the cooling process went on the vapors condensed, completely covering the earth in an ocean of water which was mixed with, or held in solution and suspension, much that now forms the surface of our earth. In the course of time by earthquake upheavals (caused by the cooling and contraction of the earth's crust) the land appeared above the ocean's surface. The work of assorting the different layers or strata of minerals and rocks had now begun and has evidently been going on ever since. The dashing of the waves of that turbid ocean against the upheaved continents, assisted by the acids, &c., believed to be in the water, evidently wore down the original rocks, forming boulders, pebbles, sand, &c., depositing each in layers, to be again upheaved and worked over until satisfactory [R300 : page 2] to the plan of the great Architect. It is not known how soon plant life began, as the earliest was probably not fitted to survive and was evidently destroyed in the grinding of the great mill.
We think the beginning of the six days work was at a point when the earth was so far cooled that it was covered with an ocean of water, but before the first continent appeared above the surface of the shoreless sea. While the scriptures clearly teach that God is the Creator of all things we think that Gen. 1, describes only the preparation of the earth from this period onward; and does not even allude to the creation of the starry heavens; so that previous time, either geological or astronomical, is not included in the six days.
This is in harmony with Ex. 20:11. "In six days the Lord made heaven and earth the sea and all that in them is." The latter clause means birds, beasts, fish, &c. On the first day, only the sea appeared; on the second, the heavens were formed; and on the third, the earth or dry land was brought to view. It is claimed that the word "create" in Gen. 1:1, rather means to shape, form or make, out of that previously created, (as in Ex. 20:11, above).
Vs. 2. "Now the earth was waste and empty; and darkness was over the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God was brooding over the face of the waters." This verse shows us the condition of the globe when this special work began, and it evidently corresponds to the earliest geological era; (the Azoic). As the hen broods over her nest of eggs, developing the life by the imparted warmth, so the Spirit is represented as vivifying the inanimate waters. This impartation of new life or energy would undoubtedly affect the electric conditions of the earth and LIGHT would be the seeming result.
Vs. 3. "And God said, Let there be light; and there was light." What Prof. Dana predicates of the beginning of activity in matter would, we think, be true in the beginning of a special moving. He says, "In such a beginning, the activity would show itself instantly, by a manifestation of light, since light is a resultant of molecular activity. A flash of light... would therefore be the first announcement of the work begun." This would of course be some kind of electric light, earthly, not heavenly, as the globe was then wrapped in dense clouds of steam from the heated waters. It may have been like the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) or the Zodiacal light.
On the second day the watery vapors were lifted above the firmament or expanse which was called heaven. That might occur in this way. In that early period the ocean contained a large quantity of carbon, phosphorous and other elements in solution. As formations took place gases combined from these elements would escape into the air, saturating it with carbonic and other acids. This very heavy (carbonic acid) gas would make the air so buoyant that the lighter clouds would rise far up into it; probably much higher than they are now, as the most of the carbonic acid has since been absorbed by the wonderful plant life that afterwards formed our vast coal beds.
The objection is reasonable, but it is based on a misconception of the Scriptural statement. The earth had been revolving around the sun for ages and Moses is evidently alluding simply to their first appearance to the earth, and their appointment as the recorders of passing days and years.
Apparently God had another reason for now revealing the Sun. Plant life as then existent could live without light, but animals have eyes, and God is about to introduce these. Why had not the Sun given light to earth before? The ocean was once a boiling sea. Still earlier all the water of Old Ocean was in a state of vapor; and the clouds enveloping the earth must have been simply immense. Not until the earth had so far cooled that the larger part of these clouds had disappeared by condensation in the sea could the heavenly bodies possibly be seen; and this was evidently not until the fourth day.
About this time it is thought the great coal beds were formed. Coal is made from dense forests of trees and plants which grew ages ago, and which after having formed a thick bed was broken down and covered by the sea with a layer of stones, sand, clay, etc. Above this a new forest sprang up to be again covered and laid away safely to cake into coal for the use of generations of men who existed then, only in the plan of God.
This would seem to have taken a long time, and so we think it did, (In Nova Scotia no less than seventy-six successive forests have grown after and above each other,) but not so long as it would now require. The earth was then one vast hot-bed. (These deposits are found in the Arctic regions.) Plants which now grow only a few inches or a few feet high, even at the equator, grew then forty, sixty and eighty feet high, and two or three feet in diameter. Probably in that warm virgin soil and moist and richer atmosphere these forests had an almost mushroom-like growth. Evidently then, there can be no just comparison made between the far past and the present, neither can we measure past ages by present rates of development.
Is there then no way of measuring these days of creation? Yes! we think there is. We believe we have found the key. There are seven days: Each must be of the same length: If we can find the length of one we will know the length of all.
We have just found, that we do not know the duration of the first six: How is it with the seventh? We know when it began, can we find where it ends? At the close of the creation God made one who, in the likeness of himself, should have dominion over all, – an image or miniature of God. Then God began his rest. Adam fell and the power passed into the hands of "the Adversary." (In accordance with Jehovah's original plan) Jesus has purchased the "Inheritance" and is preparing for the overthrow of the usurper. When he takes his great power he will reign until he has put all enemies under his feet. This is the work of the Millennial age. When he has restored all things, he delivers up the kingdom to God the Father who again resumes the reins of government. How long does God rest – as to the affairs of this world? Seven thousand years. ["The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son."]
We turn again to the words of Peter. His subject is the history of the period of time from "the generation of the heavens and the earth to their re-generation. He says: "One day is with the Lord as a thousand years." He teaches then, that the week of the law, was typical of the grand period of 7000 years of man's allotted history. Six thousand years of toil under the bondage of sin and Satan, to be followed by one thousand years of peace, rest and heavenly communion. But when this Sabbath shall end – as it must – is there another weary week of toil to begin again? No! thank God the cycle is complete. The Jewish week was a glorious type; gracious even in its keeping, for man and beast: and it has a worthy antitype. But what of that grander cycle, of which the seven days was but a typical part – the seven times seven, that ushered in the Jubilee?
If the seventh period of creation in which the Father rested is seven thousand years long – as shown above – so are the other six periods; and so we have seven times seven thousand years, even forty-nine thousand years, bringing us to the fiftieth thousand the antitype of all chronological antitypes, the great grand JUBILEE.
The work of the Lord still prospers – favorable and encouraging reports from all parts of the field. All the workers are well, etc., except our dear brother Sunderlin, who still suffers intense pain, confined to his bed.
The letters keep pouring in from all parts of the U.S. and Great Britain, and give evidence that the Lord has been using the little books as His agent to awaken his children to fresh interest in His plans and work.
The letters average about 40 to 50 a day, and nearly all represent true hearts overflowing with love and gratitude for God's goodness, in permitting them and us, to see so much of His grandly unfolding plan of love, for man's salvation.
NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND, November 8th, 1881.
MY DEAR SIR – Permit me though a stranger to assure you, that I can never feel sufficiently thankful that out of the thousands of copies of your book, "Food for Thinking Christians" distributed in this town – a copy fell into my hands: apparently it was the merest accident; but really I regard it as a direct providence. It has thrown light upon subjects which have perplexed me for years; and has made me feel more than ever, what a glorious book the Bible is, how worthy of our profoundest study. At the same time, I came from the study of your book with the conviction that a very large proportion of the Theology of our Churches and Schools, is the merest scraps of human notions, and that our huge systems of Theology upon the study of which, some of us have spent so many laborious years – only to be the worse confused and perplexed – are infinitely more the work of mistaken men, than the inspiration of the all-wise God.
However, I may differ from the book in a few minor details, I found the main argument to be resistless, commending itself to both my head and my heart. Again let me thank you on my own behalf, for the good I have received.
I find at the close of it, you make an offer to send copies to any who have reason to believe they can make a good use of them. In my church and congregation, there is a number of intelligent persons who are interested in the second coming, and who would be only too glad to read your book, I could distribute 60 or 70 copies with advantage, you say, "ask and ye shall receive" – I have faith in your generosity. Believe me to remain yours, Most faithfully__________.
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY, November 22, 1881.
GENTLEMEN – Having read with the most profound interest your publication entitled; "Food for Thinking Christians," and being fairly dazzled by the wonderful light it reveals on the great "subject," I find myself thirsting for more knowledge from this seemingly inspired pen.
With reference to the first named book, permit me to say, that I have never yet read or heard anything equal to that little volume in its influence upon my heart and life; and to my mind, it answers most grandly and conclusively the great question, "Is life worth living." Such views as it sets forth, are bound to find response in the minds and hearts of all unbiased thinking christians, for they bear the stamp of something greater than mere human conception. I only wish we could hear it from the pulpits; but I think this must shortly follow. It is good seed and in its "due time" will come forth. Believe me, I am
"I have said ye are Gods; and all of you are children of the Most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes" [literally heads]. Psa. 82:6.
Our high calling is so great, so much above the comprehension of men, that they feel that we are guilty of blasphemy when we speak of being "new creatures" – not any longer human, but "partakers of the divine nature." When we claim on the scriptural warrant, that we are begotten of a divine nature and that Jehovah is thus our father, it is claiming that we are divine beings – hence all such are Gods. Thus we have a family of Gods, Jehovah being our father, and all his sons being brethren and joint-heirs: Jesus being the chief, or first-born.
Nor should we wonder that so few discern this grand relationship, into the full membership of which, we so soon hope to come. The apostle tells us that "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God ...neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Cor. 2:14). Just so it was, when our great Head and Lord was among men: He, having consecrated the human at 30 years of age was baptized of the spirit, and became a part-taker of the divine nature. When Jesus said he was a son of God the Jews were about to stone him, reasoning thus, that if a son of God, he was making himself to be also a God, or of the God family. [Just what we claim "Beloved now are we the sons of God" – "The God and Father of our Lord Jesus hath begotten us."] (1 John 3:2 and 1 Pet. 1:3).
Jesus does not deny that when he said he was a son, it implied that he was of the divine nature, but he quotes to them the above passage from the Psalms as being good authority and it seems as though it satisfied them, for they did not stone him. Jesus said, "Is it not written in your law, I said ye are Gods?" Then he proceeds to show that the "Gods" there mentioned, are the ones who receive obediently his words and example, and concludes his argument by asking whether if God calls such ones as receive his (Jesus') teachings, Gods, whether they think that he the teacher, whom the Father had specially set apart as the head of those Gods could be properly said to blaspheme, when he claimed the same relationship as a son of God. (John 10:35).
These sons of God, like him from whom they heard the word of truth by which they are begotten, are yet in disguise; the world knoweth us not for the same reason that it knew him not. Our Father puts no outward badge or mark of our high relationship, but leaves each to walk by faith and not by sight all through the earthly pilgrimage – down into death. His favor and love and the Glory and Honor which belong to our station, we can now see by the eye of faith, but soon it will be realized in fact. Now we appear like men, and all die naturally like men, but in the resurrection we will rise in our true character as Gods.
How forcibly this is expressed by the prophet and how sure it is too, Jesus says – It cannot be broken: "I have said ye are Gods, all of you sons of the Most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes." [lit. heads – Adam and Jesus are the two heads.]
Then the whole family – head and body are addressed as one, as they will be under Christ their head, saying – "Arise O God, judge [rule, bless] the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations." The Mighty God, the everlasting Father of the nations, is Christ whose members in particular we are. He it is that shall inherit all things and He it is that promised his body that they too should have power over the nations, and of whom Paul says "Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?"
How forcible this scripture in connection with the thought that all must die like men – like the (last) one of the heads. [See article "Who Can Hear It." – November Number, 1881, Z.W.T.]
Before considering what constitutes Scriptural baptism, let us inquire whether it is essential. We have no hesitation in saying that it is indispensable, and that no one will have a part in the "little flock" or will be of "The bride, the Lamb's wife" who has not been baptized. Further, we have scriptural proof that all who are baptized shall be saved, that all such shall be in the "first resurrection." Let us hear Jesus' words – "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." But Paul is yet more explicit and says: [Rom. 6:3-8.] "For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection." Notice that the subject is baptism; and that there is not an if, nor a but, nor any other contingency mentioned than baptism. How important then that we know what it is and understand how it should be performed.
The meaning of the Greek word Baptizo is to bury, immerse, cover up, submerge. Now apply this significance to the word baptized; then associate it with yourself and you find that you are to be buried or submerged. But into what are we to be immersed – into water? No, we answer: Paul tells us that those who are really baptized "were baptized into Jesus Christ." The true baptism then is to be submerged, covered up, or immersed into Christ. If immersed into Christ we lose ourselves; we will no longer do our own will or way, for that will is buried. We have a new will or mind; it is the mind of Christ. "Let the same mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." If we have been baptized into Christ it is that we may be members of His body, the church. And since "He is the head of the body, the church," [Col. 1:18] it follows that the only controlling authority for those who are members of that body is the will of Christ Jesus the head. This is complete immersion into Christ, and who will doubt that if thus dead to self and the world and alive only as a member of his body, obeying no will but that of "the head," we say who can doubt, that if thus immersed we shall be in his likeness in the resurrection; that if we thus know him, we shall also know the power of his resurrection. [Phil. 3:10.]
The baptism of which Paul speaks then, cannot mean water baptism. No, thousands are so immersed who will not be in his likeness in the resurrection. But baptism into water is a beautifully expressive type of the real baptism into death. By it we emphasize our covenant to die to the world and earthly conditions, to rise to "walk not after the flesh but after the spirit." Jesus so used it and it is so beautifully expressive of our hope and covenant, that if there was no divine injunction as to its performance, as there is, we should still feel it a privilege to show forth our planting (burying) together, in the likeness of his death and our expectation of being in his likeness in the resurrection.
When Cornelius had received the Holy Spirit Peter inquired. Can any man forbid water that these should be immersed? And so we ask, who can say aught against water being thus used as a type of our death and resurrection? And we might put the question in another form for some: Can any man refuse to thus show forth his death if he has indeed died to the world? We think not. That which hinders many in the public illustration of the death they profess is we fear, generally pride, fear of mental or uttered reproach of fellow disciples and of the world. But dear fellow disciple reflect that these objections to water baptism indicate that the true essential baptism has never fully taken place. You may be partly dead, and may have given up part of your own will, but when fully crucified you will say with Jesus, "I delight to do thy will, O Lord." I count all things but loss and dross that I may win Christ – the great prize.
The true baptism then, is to be submerged, covered up, or immersed into death; to which every member of the Christ is appointed – i.e. the eternal death of the human nature. And thus by this voluntary baptism into this eternal death, we as new creatures begotten again of God (1 Pet. 1:3) become members of the body of The Christ – the body anointed, dedicated or set apart for the work of redeeming and restoring a fallen race. From the moment we covenant to be thus baptized, until the human body is laid in the dust and the death of the human completed, the work of baptism is in process. The "new creature" is to reckon the old creature dead; so, completely ignoring its will, and letting the holy spirit – mind – will of our Father bring even these mortal bodies, into active service to his glory. "Let (this) same mind (spirit, disposition, will of our Father) be in you, which was also in (the head of the) Christ – Jesus our Lord." If thus as human beings, we die daily until ultimately dead, and if as "new creatures" we are begotten again of God and are daily growing up into his likeness, can we doubt the truth of Paul's statement, that in the resurrection we shall be born in the likeness of our head and fore-runner – Jesus, who is the brightness of our Father's glory and the express image of his person. [Rom. 6:5; Heb. 1:3.]
It is a difficult matter to attain to the prize of our high calling. While many – "a great company" (Rev. 7:15) shall stand before the throne in glory, only "the body" of overcomers are to sit with him "in the throne." Rev. 3:21. It is only Him that overcometh that "shall inherit all things" and be "joint-heir with Jesus." Not to the "great company" of "the household of faith" is the promise of the kingdom given, but to the "first-born" of the heavenly family – Jesus the head, the "church of the first-born" the body. To this first-born is the promise made: "Fear not little flock it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
This is the prize and all christians are in the race course. The overcomers will all ultimately reach the completeness of the "Divine nature," but it requires the putting forth of every effort in the race if we would win that prize and be found in Him as members of the body of the first-born and "heirs of all things." Therefore Paul exhorts [not the world, but christians] to "so run that we may obtain" [the prize of our high calling.] "Let us lay aside every weight and the sin that doth so easily beset and run with patience the race set before us." They that run but do not so run as to win, "suffer loss," the loss of the prize which they would have obtained had they been willing to "lay aside every weight." They shall suffer loss but themselves shall be saved so as by fire. [By coming through "the great tribulation."] Their lives shall be saved but that for which they were working shall be lost.
Yes, beloved, it is a prize such as never before has been and never again will be offered and what wonder if it is very difficult of attainment – if it be "Through much tribulation (even unto death) ye shall enter the kingdom." Dying (being baptized into Christ's death) is not simply "putting away the filth of the flesh," denying ourselves only such things as are sinful? No, that would not be "being made conformable to his death." "In Him [Jesus] was no sin," consequently he could not put to death a sinful nature. But while his nature was pure and his every desire was to do things right and proper for him as a perfect man, yet he yielded his rights and will as a natural man for us. For instance as a holy undefiled one, he had a right to seek his own ease and pleasure but instead of so doing, being filled with the holy spirit of the Father, he was moved with the Father's compassion toward the people and went about spending his life for the sinner's benefit, taking our infirmities and bearing our sicknesses, and on more than one occasion he might have said: "Virtue [power, vitality] is gone out of me."
Yes, he went about doing good, spending his perfect life powers for the good of sinners, because he was full to overflowing of the perfect love. Finally after having thus shared our sorrows and our griefs, He bought us and paid the price of sin [death] for us, that we sinners might be accounted righteous, and therefore have again the right to live. His righteousness was laid on them and their sins were laid on him. He bore the heavy load which sunk his human [R302 : page 4] nature in eternal death. This was the great, grand, culminating expression he gave of his love. Surely he might have kept this life which he gave. It was not like ours, forfeited; as he himself testified: "No man taketh it from me; I lay it down of myself" – Even now I could ask the Father and he would give me more than twelve legions of angels; but these things to which he had a perfect right he gave up freely.
Now it is his death, that we are to be conformed to. True, it will include the giving up of the sins or "filth of the flesh," and the "denying of ungodly lusts," etc., but, thus far it is simply duty. You only give up things you never had a right to, there is no sacrifice in that. If we would be made conformable unto his death, it must be by the giving up of things not sinful, and to which we have a right, as justified men. Jesus did not his own will, but the will of him that sent him, and we must "Let the same mind be in us which was also in Christ Jesus our Lord." Sin and suffering are still in the world and the disciple of Jesus most willing to "spend and be spent," to "labor and suffer reproach," making "himself of no reputation," most closely follows him "who has set us an example that we should walk in His footsteps."
When asked of the two disciples whether they might sit on the right and left hand in the kingdom he answered: "Ye know not what ye ask; are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am [to be] baptized with?" Jesus shows what cup he meant when in the garden he exclaimed, "Father, if possible, let this cup pass from me." He shows the baptism referred to also, that it was not the baptism of John in Jordan, but of death when he says, "I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straightened till it be accomplished!" (Luke 12:50.)
Such, baptized into Christ's death will not make earthly ease and comfort their aim, but will seek to "do good unto all men as they have opportunity especially to the household of faith." Their self-denial and God-likeness will seek to benefit and lift up the physical man; and how much more will it lead to self-sacrifice in order that others may be helped on to the divine life. Thus it was that the apostles spent themselves that they might declare "the unsearchable riches of Christ." It was for this cause that Paul says: "I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church." Jesus left a measure of suffering, for his church as his body to complete, or fill up, and Paul was zealous to bear as much of it as possible. Glorious ambition to spend his life in bearing the glad tidings of the "High calling" to those who would receive it. This is the ambition which Jesus both exemplified and commended, saying, "He that would be greatest among you let him become servant of all."
If we thus live a divine life and crucify and ignore the human life, we shall be considered "a peculiar people zealous of good works," and we will thus be so very different from the ideas of the natural man, that we must needs remember Jesus words – "Marvel not if the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you." "The disciple is not above his Lord." "If any man will be my disciple let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Self-denial means much, and will never be experienced except as we crucify the human nature with its affections and desires.
When we first come to God through Jesus we covenant with Him that we will take up our cross and follow him through evil and good report, whether it brings the favor or frown of our fellows. Jesus tells us it means, the loss of the friendship of the world, the gain of the friendship of God, the loss of worldly honor, the gain of heavenly honor, the loss of earthly life and earthly nature, the gain of the divine nature and the divine image – a spiritual body like unto his glorious body. He illustrated his teaching on the night he was betrayed. He took bread and brake, saying, this is my body broken for you, eat ye all of it. The bread symbolized Jesus as the truth. "I am the truth" – "the heavenly manna." After supper he took the cup of wine saying, This is my blood of the new covenant shed for many for the remission of sins; drink ye all of it. The wine symbolizes the blood and after we have tasted of the truth (bread) and seen that the Lord is gracious he says, Here is the cup of my sufferings and death, drink ye all of it – you must share this cup of suffering if you would share my glory. Yes, says Paul, if we suffer with him we shall also be glorified together. (Rom. 8:17.)
This covenant of death we make with God when we first come to him and He says He will, from the moment of covenant forward, reckon us dead indeed to the world and sin, although the entire life is to be a time of crucifying, or putting to death up to the time we die actually. God's part of the covenant is, that these who thus die shall have part of the divine nature, and from the moment we make this covenant, He seals it by giving us the Holy Spirit as a guide and comforter; which is an earnest of our inheritance. The full inheritance we shall receive when all the "little flock" have crucified themselves. Notice then, that we first covenant to die, etc., and then receive of the Spirit's begetting power giving us spiritual life, whereby we can carry out our part of the covenant.
But as crucifying is a lingering death, so our dying is well expressed thus. It is hard to die in any sense, but it is especially hard to be dead to the world, its opinions, pleasures and wishes, while still in it – in the world but not of it – separate from sinners. Often will we need to "look unto Jesus the author (and soon to be) the finisher of our faith." We will often need, as Paul said, to "consider Him who endured such contradiction (opposition) of sinners against himself lest (we) be weary and faint in (our) mind." "Be not weary in well-doing, for in due time we shall reap if we faint not."
No words that we can use can express so forcibly as do Paul's, the necessity of this immersion into Christ's death. "What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. [Paul was fitted for a high social and political position, both by birth and education.] Yea, doubtless I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung that I may win [a position in the body of] Christ, and be found in him" – "That I may know him and the power of his resurrection – (experience the same resurrection as Jesus to a spiritual body and immortal life – the first resurrection) and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death, if by any means I might attain unto THE (first) resurrection." (Phil. 3:8-11.) "For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection." (Rom. 6:5.)
Let us, dearly beloved, see to it, that we not only bury ourselves and our wills in Christ's, but also keep our bodies under – dying daily until fully delivered into the blessed kingdom – which deliverance we believe to be so very nigh at hand.
"Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; for their works follow with them." Rev. 14:13.
Uniformly throughout the Bible, except in this one instance death is represented as a dreadful disaster, a terrible enemy, a devouring monster, and the grave as a great prison, permitted of our loving Heavenly Father, only because men had become sinners and must be destroyed. And the great hope held out before the world has been, that Christ having given himself a ransom for the sinners – having "tasted death for every man – the just for the unjust, will soon commence the great work of destroying death by restoring all mankind to life. Thus will he "swallow up death victoriously." (1 Cor. 15:54.)
When he has exalted his church to the glory of kingdom (symbol, mountain,) power, then, he will spread before all people a great feast, and through this kingdom (mountain) he will destroy the vail of ignorance and the covering of death – i.e. "He will swallow up death in victory." Isa. 25:6-8. Then, he will break open and abolish the great prison house of death and set at liberty all the captives. Of this deliverance to the captives and opening of the prison doors to them that are bound Jesus preached, saying, "The day is coming in the which all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the son of man and come forth." (John 5:28.)
Paul recognizes death as the greatest of all enemies, and speaking of Christ's millennial reign he says, "He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet: The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. (1 Cor. 15:25,26.) It is the same apostle who, speaking of the object of Jesus coming into the world and dying for our sins, says that he took the human nature that "through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil." (Heb. 2:14.) It is also affirmed that he will open the prison doors of them that are bound (captives of death) and proclaim liberty to the captives. (Isa. 61:1.)
In view of the general expression of enmity to death, in the Scriptures, the above solitary text speaking of it as a blessing, is rather peculiar until we notice, that the application is limited by the word "henceforth." Not always, but henceforth death may be a blessing. But notice another limitation; it will not henceforth be a blessing to all mankind, but only to those in the Lord – members in particular of the body of Christ, the little flock to whom it is the Father's good pleasure to give the kingdom – to all others death will continue to be an enemy until its final destruction in the Millennial reign. (Hos. 13:14.)
Again, it is unusual to speak of those already dead as dying; but the spirit uses this seemingly incongruous expression, evidently desiring to limit the application of the death blessing to a certain class "Blessed are the dead (dead to the world – crucified with Christ – "ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God,") who die in the Lord from henceforth."
Now, we are full of interest to know when, from what time forward, will it be blessed for the special class mentioned, to die. These words were written for our edification and we should be able to know when they apply: especially if we are in the Lord and dead to the world; for it was part of our Master's promise, that the spirit should guide us into an understanding of the truth and show us things to come. (John 16:13.) If as we believe the last members of the body of Christ are now living – "The feet of him" – it is time that we had an understanding of this passage which clearly refers to the feet. [R304 : page 4]
We look backward at the context, to ascertain if possible when this blessing is due. The seven preceding verses give, we think, very clear testimony on the subject. They mention three specific messages which must be proclaimed in the church (symbol, heaven) which, we believe, have been in process, during the first seven years of harvest just ended, from 1874 to 1881. The first message embodies not only the agelasting good news (Gospel) but also the time element. "The HOUR of his judgment is come." This is precisely what was preached by quite a goodly number of us, viz: that the glad tidings of great joy should yet be unto all people, and that the "harvest" or time of trial (judgment) commenced with 1874, and would last for forty years, the first seven years being specially devoted to the church for the harvesting of the first-fruits.
You will recall that up to 1878, though Restitution was the key note, and entire consecration was always urged, yet the time element was one of the most prominent features always. Since 1878, however, though the same time element is recognized in all our preaching and teaching, and is repeatedly referred to as a proof of our position, yet the direct teaching of time has almost stopped among all the preaching brethren – and this too, without any preconcerted arrangement, and without any other reason, than that other elements of truth came into greater prominence.
It was in the spring of 1879, that seeing clearly the parallelism between the nominal Jewish church and the nominal Gospel church, we were enabled to know just where the latter was finally rejected of the Lord and spewed out of His mouth (Rev. 3:16) no longer to be his mouthpiece. We saw that this was due in 1878, as the parallel of the rejection of the Jewish church, when Jesus just prior to his crucifixion, wept over them and said, "Your house is left unto you desolate" – The Jewish church was there likewise cast off, or spewed from his mouth.
We were led to see very clearly that the nominal church of the Gospel Age, is the Babylon (confused, mixed condition, of worldly-mindedness and luke warm christianity) described in Rev. 18:2-4.
This spewing out, or casting off, of [R304 : page 5] the nominal church, as an organization in 1878 – we then understood, and still proclaim to be the date of the commencement of Babylon's fall, as recorded there. And since then we feel ourselves led of the spirit, through the unfolding of this portion of the word of truth to say in the name of the Lord, to all God's true children in Babylon: "Come out of her my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and receive not of her plagues." (vs. 4.) This seems to accord wonderfully with the second message – "Babylon is fallen." (Rev. 14:8.)
The third message (vs. 9-11) concerning the worshipers of the Beast and his Image – showing the nominal church in the colors in which the Word of God paints it, pointing out, how all who remain in her either in spirit or name, in opposition to the word of God, saying, "Come out of her" will be subject to torment and vexation so long as they are worshiping creeds and doctrines and organizations of men. The remembrance of which distress (smoke of torment) will never be forgotten.
As with the preceding two, so with this third message – it could not have been more accurately fulfilled than it was. [And here we would remark, that the resemblance of the teachings of our company, to the descriptions now being considered, was only noticed about six months ago.] The meaning of the symbols of Rev. 13. The beasts and image we first published in the January 1880 number of this paper [We will republish it for the benefit of new readers – in our next number.] All three of these messages yet continue, and will doubtless continue to be repeated by others so long as they contain truth due to the Lord's children; but as special messages in the sense referred to in the prediction of the Revelator they have all been given, and we are in the time of patient waiting for our "change" described in vs. 12 [vs. 13? - site Editor]. And here it is, just now – 1881, that for the first time we are able to read understandingly the words "Blessed are the dead, who die in the Lord from henceforth." Evidently the blessing is to the members of the Christ now living.
But we inquire, in what respect will death be a blessing to us now, that it has not always been to other members of the body. We answer, the difference is that we shall not sleep, but we will be instantly invested with our heavenly – spiritual bodies, being changed in a moment dropping all that is human and earthly and being clothed upon with our heavenly condition. In the case of Jesus, there were nearly three days of sleep – the unclothed condition between the times when the earthly body was resigned and the heavenly body was received – Paul and others have been nearly two thousand years waiting "unclothed" or "asleep in Jesus" and this is one of the principle reasons why death was undesirable even to christians: We don't wish to be unclothed even for a moment, but we do desire to be clothed upon or to have the change an instantaneous one. (1 Cor. 15:52.)
Herein consists the blessing to those of the body now taken. Death of the human will be instantaneous with the perfecting of the divine nature, hence it will be a blessed "change." "Yea, saith the spirit that they may rest from their labors; for their works follow with them."
To the class thus "blessed," there will be no interruption of work. Already dead to the world and alive toward God, their work is in harmony with the kingdom work now going on, and they merely step to their higher plane of "divine" perfection and power and there continue the same work. It is only the labor (toil,) incident to the mortal body – the frail "earthen vessel" which ceases. Not so highly favored in this regard was the lot of any of the members of "the body" which preceded us. Quite a period elapsed in Paul's case between sufferings and glory. When he had fought a good fight and finished his course he looked forward, not to a change in a moment, but to a sleep from which he would be wakened to receive his reward in the kingdom. So he expresses his hope, "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of life which the Lord, the Righteous Judge shall give me at that day." (2 Tim. 4:8.)
"How beautiful are the feet of Him," how many favors and blessings are for us. Truly, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the spirit, that they may rest from their labors and their works follow with them." Rejoice and be exceeding glad – but
The human must be entirely sacrificed before the divine is perfected – "Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life," are the words of our Lord and Forerunner in whose footsteps on the narrow way, we must follow to gain the prize of our high calling – "Glory Honor and Immortality."
What harmony there now appears in this text when thus explained in harmony with the article "Who can hear it?" in our last number.
"You created us by the power of your own aptitude for religion; we didn't make ourselves, we didn't call ourselves; the laity, the world, humanity called for priests and for ministers, ...and will have them."
Paul says, "For there will be a time when they will not endure wholesome teaching, but having itching ears, they will, according to their own lusts, heap to themselves teachers; and from the truth indeed they will turn away their ears, and be turned aside to fables." 2 Tim. 4:3,4. (MacKnight's translation.)
This prophecy expresses exactly the same condition of the Christian Church in the "last days" or closing of this age as was expressed by this D.D., who truthfully represented the present condition of the great body of all the professed church. The gospel makes provision for a class of teachers called and qualified of God to teach the people revealed truths, and by this mould their character and form their religious tastes. But instead of this, the carnal and unregenerate, by their fleshy lusts or "itching ears," reject gospel truth which condemns their self-indulgence and demand quieting teaching. By the gospel rule the people will be lead and their characters moulded by inspired truth taught them by God's true servants; but in the latter case the unregenerate people will control the teachers, so that none will be allowed to teach religion only such as the people shall select, and they will teach such things and only such as the people shall approve.
In this case a man will be allowed to preach only what the public sentiment approves, which will become the standard by which the preacher will be accepted or rejected, instead of his conformity to the Word of God and a holy life.– Selected.
A. – I shall enjoy a conversation with you on this subject; it is one deserving of careful thought and is mentioned by Jesus himself, as well as by his apostles and prophets. I presume I need not make mention of the various theories held by Bible students on the subject. Many believe that Jerusalem and the temple will be rebuilt soon, and that some literal man will oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he, as God, will sit in the temple of God showing himself that he is God. (2 Thes. 2:4.) He is expected to be able to perform "signs and lying wonders" – to deceive all the world into the idea that HE is God, and to have them give homage and worship to him.
There are various conjectures as to who may be, this "Man of Sin." It has been claimed for Napoleon Boneparte, and each of his successors to the title to the throne of France, and now for Prince Jerome Boneparte. Others quite recently have given up expecting so much of a development of power from a broken down dynasty, and claim, with positiveness, that it is the present Pope.
B. – It would be a very remarkable thing to have occur in this nineteenth century. It might have been possible in some heathen land, hundreds of years ago, but I could not make myself believe that such things are even possible now. No, the tendency of the press and of science is to ignore God altogether, and in the face of the wonderful evidences of His creative power might, to deny, entirely, the Lord, in whose praise "Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge." Ps. 19:2. [R305 : page 5]
A. – I fully agree with you. It would be much easier to turn the world to Atheism than to Idolatry, especially the worshiping of a man the tendency is the very reverse. This is one reason why I could not look for a personal "Man of Sin."
Paul had always exhorted the church to look and wait for "The day of the Lord," yet in 2 Thes. 2:3, he tells them "That day shall not come except there come a falling away first, and that Man of Sin be revealed." As I believe the Word to teach that we are now living in "the day of the Lord," you see it is both natural and consistent in me to look backward for the "Man of Sin" and to expect to be able to recognize him, for Paul says he must be revealed, or his real character shown and seen, before the "Day of the Lord," by those in the church who sleep not as do others. We understand Paul to refer to a false system which would develop in the church. As one error after another crept into the church, they gradually brought about the "falling away." The church fell from her position of trust in, and support on the promises of her absent Lord, and began to love the world and the things of the world. She began to look to the world for the fulfillment of the precious promises of kingdom, glory and honor. The narrow path was too steep and rough; she coveted the world's ease and abundance, and the more bold element formed the plan of so arranging church customs and laws, that the world's affections were captured, and instead of persecuting, the Roman Empire embraced the church and seated her in power. Doubtless she thought to use the power and influence of her new friend – Rome – to the honor of the Lord to whom she was betrothed, but soon she began to "glorify herself and to live deliciously with the kings of the earth" and "her sins reached unto heaven." Rev. 18:5-7.
A. – It requires two to make one as Adam and Eve became one and "God called their name Adam:" And as Jesus and his bride are to become one and together be known as "The Christ" – the one seed in whom all the families of the earth shall be blessed, (Gal. 3:29), so in this case of Anti-Christ: They would be virgin (church) of Christ, became united to the world in unholy love – they twain became one – "The Man of Sin."
From little to much the hold of the church on the Roman Empire increased
They claimed the various titles and honors due to the true Christ. Surely that system – Papacy – being a usurper which sought and appropriated the titles and honors of the true anointed – the true Christ, is emphatically His opponent as signified by the name Anti – (against) Christ.
A. – Yes, as Paul said of some: "They profess that they know God but in works they deny him." Their words say that they are the true and only kingdom of God; but their works show that they have always been in opposition to the real kingdom, of which it is but a base though skillful counterfeit, by attracting attention to the false as the kingdom already come. We refer to the Papal system, not to individual Roman Catholics.
Do the scriptures declare the reign of Christ over the nations for a thousand years, and that he must reign until he shall put all enemies under him? Papacy claims that when exalted to power it did put down all enemies and that for a thousand years it did reign over the kingdoms of earth. (Generally dated I believe from A.D. 792 to 1792. They claim that the Millennial reign of Christ and his saints, Rev. 20, there took place and that the period since the overthrow of Papacy's dominion (1798,) is the little season mentioned in verses 3,7 and 8 during which the "devil is loosed," viz: Protestantism and all infidelity to Papacy.
During her reign over earth's king's she did "rule with a rod of iron," claiming that it was the fulfillment of Psalm 2:6-12. [Read it.] Special emphasis was given to verses 10-12, "Be wise now therefore O ye kings....Kiss the Son lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little."
To fulfill this, the kings of earth were obliged to kneel before the Pope and kiss his great toe to receive his blessing and their crowns. (On one occasion, to show the superiority of the Pope – that he was indeed "King of Kings," the crown after being placed on the head of the prostrate king by the Pope's hand, was kicked off with his foot, then lifted between his feet and thus put on the king.) For centuries no king reigned in Europe without this appointment and blessing of the Popes. To offend was to forfeit their titles and thrones.
It was the boast of Gregory II. that "all the kings of the west reverence the Pope as a God on earth." An oft accepted title was "Our Lord God the Pope." At the Lateran council, the Pope was addressed thus: "Thou art another God on earth."
Pope Martin said: "The greatness of Priesthood began in Melchisedec, was solemnized in Aaron, continued in the children of Aaron, perfectionated in Christ, represented in Peter, exalted in the universal jurisdiction and manifested in the Pope. So that through this pre-eminence of my priesthood – having all things subject to me, it may seem well verified in me, that was spoken of Christ, 'Thou hast subdued all things under his feet.'...I am all in all and above all, so that God himself and I the vicar of God have both one consistory [co-equal, or on the same footing.]...Wherefore, if those things that I do be said not to be done of man but of God, WHAT CAN YOU MAKE OF ME BUT GOD? Again, if prelates of the church be called and counted of Constantine for Gods, I then being above all prelates seem by this reason to be ABOVE ALL GODS. Wherefore no marvel if it be in my power to change time and times, to alter and abrogate laws, to dispense with all things, yea with the precepts of Christ."
B. – It would appear that in olden times the Popes had made great pretensions. I confess that I could not expect to ever find a greater or more blasphemous system to call the Man of Sin or Anti-Christ.
A. – Yes; and brother, though less outspoken, because they have less power and the people have more knowledge, they make the same claims still. You will remember that the late Pious IX. promulgated the dogma of his own Infallibility. And the present Pope, Leo XIII. claims to be "The Lion of the tribe of Judah." This, like other titles belonging to the true Christ, is claimed by the Anti-Christ, as you will see by this extract from the Pittsburgh Dispatch of June 14, 1879: "A rich American, now residing at Rome, desiring to possess the bust of Leo XIII., engaged the services of the celebrated sculptor, Tadolini. The latter, not content with the simple portrait of the Holy Father, went to the Vatican and asked permission of Leo XIII., to reproduce his features from the original. The Pope consented. When the work was finished, Leo congratulated the artist, who asked him to trace a word on the still fresh clay. His Holiness took the burin from the sculptor, and wrote with a smile, 'Leo de tribu Juda.'" ["The Lion of the tribe of Judah."] What blasphemous assumption!
B. – It does seem very clear when so put together; but how about the remainder of the verse? – "Who sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God." How could Papacy fulfill this? The temple at Jerusalem had been destroyed hundreds of years before Papacy's rule.
A. – The temple of God is the dwelling or abode of God. Once He dwelt in the Jewish temple, but at the death of Jesus the vail of the temple was rent in twain and the glory of the Lord departed, and from that time it ceased to be, really, the temple of God. For fifty days there was no temple on earth; but, "When Pentecost was fully come," the Lord descended by his spirit, and his glory and presence filled His New Temple, the gospel church. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God?" 1 Cor. 3:16; Eph. 2:21,22. There has been no other temple since, and there never will be another, for this [R306 : page 6] one is an everlasting habitation. Any building which men may put up at Jerusalem might be called a temple, but it would not be THE temple of God. The "Man of Sin," – Papacy – did take his seat in God's church (temple), and used in a blasphemous manner the titles and honors of the "King of Kings."
Paul tells us that the errors which led to this falling away from the truth, had begun to operate in the church even in his day. (2 Thes. 2:7). It increased more rapidly when the church's "candlestick" was removed, – when the special "gifts of the Spirit" in healing, discerning of spirits, etc., ceased. These let, or hindered the more rapid development of error in the Apostolic days. Another hindrance was the pagan empire, and not until its decline could Papacy be exalted.
B. – It does seem to be a wonderful counterfeit of the true Kingdom of God, and I see some force in the Spirit's calling it (vs. 11) strong delusion that they should believe a lie.
A. – This chapter is quite peculiar, and is generally thought to be a picture of the establishment of the true kingdom – some claiming that the "manchild" mentioned, is Jesus, others that it is the church at the time of translation. But the first view involves an absurdity; for then the woman must be the Jewish church: The last view is inconsistent because of the 1260 years mentioned. I shall be glad of a clearer understanding of this symbolic picture.
"The woman clothed with the Sun" represents the Gospel church covered with the precious promises of God and the glorious light of truth. "The moon under her feet," is the reflection of the Sun's brightness: so "The Law" was a shadow or reflection of the Gospel light. It was light, but not the real – only reflected light. The woman was "not under the Law (Moon) but under Grace" (Sunlight); yet she was supported by the teachings of The Law and rested on the foundations of the apostles and prophets."
The great red dragon – represents the Pagan Roman Empire [The seven heads, representing Rome's successive and distinct forms of government, and the ten horns, the divisions of power – these being mentioned to identify it (Rome) as the same beast, or government described by Daniel, and elsewhere in Revelation.
"In heaven," symbolizes the place of control or rulership. Both woman and dragon are said to be in heaven – the woman, or church in spiritual control – the dragon, or empire in political control of the world.
If we locate it aright, the woman is seen in this vision about 308 A.D., and has been in the "Smyrna" stage as described in Rev. 2:8-10. It has just been passing through a long series of persecutions from the "dragon" (Roman Empire). The continued persecution causes some to relax their vigilance for the truth, and a spirit or desire to please and get into favor with the persecuting "dragon" comes over some of the bright ones in the church. So we read, the tail of the dragon drew the one third of the stars; they became his followers or servants which of course tended to degrade them. The long desired favor of Rome came at last by the conversion of Constantine, A.D. 313, and there we believe the labor pangs of tribulation ceased and Papacy was born; i.e. there the blending of church and state commenced. It was not yet the "Man of Sin," in the same sense that a child is not a man; but it was the beginning, of what resulted in Papacy – "The Man of Sin," the man-child was born.
Roman favor was so sweet to the church after so many years of persecution, that they were ready to make religion any and everything to suit the views of their new half-pagan friend Constantine. With his favor, the open opposition of others measurably ceased. Thousands, yes millions were brought into the church from Paganism. But the change was mostly in name, for the pagan priests became christian priests and the pagan holidays came to be called by christian names – Christmas being one of these holidays kept sacred to the memory of a great Goddess – since called the celebration of Jesus' birth though actually nearly three months astray.
The church knew that the promise of her Lord was, that he would end her persecutions by delivering her and that she should be exalted to the control of all the kingdoms of the world. And some were so rejoiced at the favors of Rome, that no doubt they fancied that in this way God would give them the kingdoms of the world promised.
Persecuted and reviled, she was pained to be delivered, and longed for the completion of the promised "Seed of the woman which should bruise the serpent's head." Her anxiety and desire in this direction produced a pre-mature birth – "The Man of Sin" (the papal hierarchy) being the offspring. This "male child," at first a weak one (A.D. 314), was gradually "caught up unto God and to his throne," or exalted to the position and titles, homage and praise of the true "seed," so that "He as God sat in the temple (church) of God, showing himself that he is God." And within three hundred years he did "Rule the nations with a rod of iron." "And there was war in heaven;" there was a conflict or controversy between the two elements – the church and the empire – when this son of the church attempted to take the ruling position. This conflict and casting down of the dragon or civil power, continued for several hundred years, or until about A.D. 752, when "In the pontificate of Zachary, the German court decided that no Metropolitan could enter upon his functions without the approval of the Pontiff." "In the same year, Pepin asked the sanction of the Pope to ascend the throne of France."
"Michael and his angels" – the Papacy and its supporters – fought against the dragon – pagan rulers, etc., – and the great dragon was cast out of heaven. This conflict between Papal and Pagan power resulted, as we have seen, in the gradual overthrow of the latter.
B. – But does it not seem a forced construction to suppose Michael to symbolize the "Man of Sin?" Is not this the same Michael referred to in Dan. 12? If it is a symbol in one case, is it not in the other?
A. – No; the account in Dan. 12 is a literal statement. The resurrection and other matters there mentioned are literal, but not so Rev. 12. The woman, dragon, tail, stars, horns, etc., are all symbols, and it would be out of order to have a real Michael fight a symbolic dragon. However, it seemed puzzling at first to know why this name should be given to Antichrist, but on turning to a dictionary we find that the meaning of the word Michael is – "Who as God." It is quite remarkable that the meaning should be in such close accord with Paul's description – "He as God sitteth in the temple of God," (2 Thes. 2:4.) When the dragon was cast out of heaven (out of the ruling position) it left this one ("Who as God,") in control, or in the heavens, and from him issues the "loud voice" (great proclamation) of verses 10 to 12. That is, Papacy claimed that when it assumed control – "The kingdom of God and the power of his anointed," had come to the world. They claimed that they had overcome by the blood [R306 : page 7] of the Lamb, their lives and testimonies. They claim that their victory was the result of the firm stand of the ("Smyrna") church, which just previously had suffered so much persecution. "Therefore, rejoice ye heavens." (Let Papacy and all connected therewith rejoice.) "Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, etc." As the church had once been persecuted when Paganism reigned, so now when she reigns she makes the Pagans and heretics suffer. This, Papacy claims as the Millennial reign, during which it broke in pieces the kingdoms with the rod of iron.
A. – Remember that the dragon represents Rome, and that the same dragon has various heads. (See Rev. 17.) Here it had fully taken on its fifth head – Papacy. It was the same Rome under a new rulership, or head, and the same power which had previously persecuted the church, – the Empire and its army – under the new ruler it persecuted pagans and heretics. Remember, therefore, that hereafter the dragon represents the empire or military power under the control of its ecclesiastical head. This military power must be made use of by its new head, and its force was directed against the woman and against the remnant of her seed, [who joined not in the apostasy], which keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus." ["The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."] Among those of the church who did not join, were some, whose descendants in after years were known as Waldenses, Huguenots, etc. These doubtless knew from the prophetic word, not only that the "same Jesus" would come again "to be glorified in his saints," but also that there should "first come a great falling away, and That Man of Sin be revealed – the son of perdition," – before [R307 : page 7] the day of the Lord. And they probably recognized Papacy in its true light as Antichrist.
To the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness [lit., the place deserted] – into her place. (Verse 14.)
The Wilderness, symbolizes disrespect – outcast condition, while "City" represents the reverse viz: popularity, honor, respect, dominion, kingdom. The Lord Jesus left his church in the Wilderness condition, saying; "In the world ye shall have tribulation" – "Marvel not if the world hate you," etc., but promised that in due time he would come again, take her out of the ignoble condition, and exalt her to honor, respect, dominion in the kingdom with himself, i.e. he would take the church out of the Wilderness into the City condition. This city condition, is beautifully represented by a symbol of a glorious New Jerusalem City. (Rev. 21:2.)
It was not wrong for the church to long for the coming bliss of the New Jerusalem condition, but becoming impatient she left the Wilderness and wandered off toward the World's city and had joined with them. Thus leaving "her (our) place." She succeeded in getting a footing and in partly remodelling the city, but she merely made it a "Babylon" (confusion – mixture of church and world) city and of course could not make it a "New Jerusalem" government.
When the apostasy got under way some of the church realized it, as, but a Babylon condition and to such the "two wings" were given to help them back to their proper wilderness condition separate from the world and from Babylon – "Without the camp" (city).
The two wings we understand to be the same as the two witnesses elsewhere mentioned, viz: The Word of God – Old and New Testament Scriptures. The Scriptures showed them that the present is the time to suffer with Him, if we would (future) reign with Him – the real Bridegroom and King of nations.
She was nourished during the long reign of Papacy from A.D. 538 to 1798 or 1260 years, [three and a half times or years – symbolic time]. The true church though so much smaller – always a little flock – was scarcely worthy of the historian's notice as compared with Papacy, yet God knew all the true ones and fed them and they became so strong as to be willing to seal their faith with their blood – thousands, yes millions being put to death by Papacy – so that she is represented symbolically as being "drunk with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus." (Rev. 17:6.)
"The dragon (Empire, under its Papal head) cast out a flood of waters (people – army) after the woman to destroy her, but the "earth (the world in general) helped the woman" by absorbing the waters (army). The army formerly used in conquest was used in hunting down "dissenters" and "heretics" and had it not been that frequent troubles from other sources, (earth) demanded attention, the army might have exterminated the true church.
B. – Yes, yes! It seems very clear and plain now. But what does Paul mean by saying "Then shall that wicked (system) be revealed." (2 Thes. 2:8)
A. – The Greek word here translated "revealed" is apo-calupto and signifies to uncover, to remove a disguise. Papacy had deceived the whole world into the belief that it was the kingdom of God; and the counterfeit was so perfect that only the few in the wilderness knew its real (Anti-Christ) character: but bye and bye the Lord raised up Luther and others of his time, who pulled off the mask – uncovered – "revealed" Papacy in its true light as The Anti-Christ – the "Man of Sin" a base counterfeit of the real kingdom and reign of the true Christ. This was the point and edge of Luther's and in fact of all the preaching of the Reformation times, and resulted in the "taking away of his (Papacy's) dominion to consume and to destroy it unto the end." (Dan. 7:25-27.)
The most of the church, have again left the wilderness condition since 1798, and are mingling with the world and therefore find less fault with Papacy than heretofore. Such must get out of Babylon themselves into the separate or wilderness condition before they can get a good view of the harlot or her daughters. (Rev. 17:3,5.)
A. – No, Paul says: "Whom the Lord will consume with the Spirit of His mouth." To consume is to waste gradually. The Spirit of His mouth is His Word – the truth. This agency for the consuming of Papacy has progressed for about three hundred years, or since God's Word began to be published – A.D. 1526, and particularly since 1801, when it (God's Word – the "two witnesses") was exalted to heaven – the place of esteem or reverence: about which time also, the "dominion" or temporal power began to be taken away.
Papacy has ever realized that "The Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God" would be its destroyer and has sought in every way to keep it from the people, and would to-day, as in past ages, burn every Bible if it could.
Its civil power has long been wasting or consuming, but ecclesiastically it still lives and must yet, with Protestantism and the kingdoms of earth, play an important part in the opposing of the establishment of the real Kingdom of God: But it shall be destroyed, and Paul tells us it will be during the presence of the Lord – "Whom the Lord shall...destroy by the Epiphania [light revealing] of the parousia [presence] of himself."
A. – Yes; Papacy has been losing its power gradually: The Spanish Inquisition – the last of its kind was abolished in 1870. We understand from Scripture that the Lord is now present gathering or separating from the nominal mass of christians, the Bride – some from the sleeping and some from the living generation of the church. These will soon all be associated with him in kingdom work, the first part of which will be the overthrow of all injustice, oppression, and error and consequently the overthrow of all the systems and institutions which uphold these.
The setting up of this kingdom will of course, involve the overthrow of all the kingdoms of earth, as they are all – even the best of them – founded on injustice and unequal rights and the oppression of many and favor of the few – as we read: "It shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms and it shall stand forever.
This will involve the various sectarian churches (Babylon) for all are bound and committed to the support of these kingdoms upon which they lean; and which they have claimed to be – "Christian governments" and have recognized as of divine appointment, instead of as Beastly governments permitted of God only until Christ's time for taking his great power and exercising the control of earth – the fifth universal Empire. (Dan. 7:17,18,23,27.)
The marshalling of the Lord's army, is even now (in his presence) in progress. The light shining from his presence is not only preparing the living of the "little flock" for joint heirship in the kingdom, but it is awakening and gathering other classes totally different in character, hopes and aims – the Lord's great army for the destruction of wrong and oppression, viz: The Communists, Nihilists, etc., now organizing for the overthrow of despotism. Light – knowledge – is the agency used to enlist these, and it will continue to shine out until every dark and wicked system is shown in its true light. Thus will mankind be prepared for the reign of righteousness when "a king (Christ) shall reign in righteousness and Princes (the Saints) shall execute judgment (justice) in the earth." (Isa. 32:1.)
B. – Thank God for His Word. How we should prize it. It is the light which dispels error and scatters the power of darkness. I have noticed of late that while the nominal Christian professor becomes the more skeptical, the more matured and most earnest children of God are searching as they never did before.
Ours is indeed a glorious hope and it behooves us to "so run that we may obtain" the prize of our high calling; overcoming the world ("dragon") by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of His testimony, that it may be ours to share in the real kingdom of the real Christ, of which Papacy has been an abominable counterfeit – Anti-Christ.
A. – Yes, and brother we have now two, far more subtle enemies than the "dragon" (world) to overcome they are mentioned in the succeeding chapter, Rev. 13, viz: "The Beast and His Image" – both, of course symbols. Should you desire, we will sometime again examine that chapter of symbols together.
B. – Let us have that at our next meeting. I notice that in Rev. 20:4, we are told that those who will have part in the kingdom of Christ and its Millennial reign "did not worship the Beast or his Image, or receive his mark or the number of his name."
Some time since, Abdul Aziz, the then ruler of the Turkish Empire, at the instance of Emperor Francis Joseph, of Austria, began the work of restoring the ruins of "Solomon's Temple," in Palestine. The work moved but slowly however, and was finally discontinued some five years ago. Probably from lack of funds.
The recent pilgrimage of the Austrin Archduke Randolph to the Holy Land, has however, given the enterprise a fresh impulse, and the present Sultan Abdul Hamid, has given the necessary orders for the resumption of the work.
Along with precious truth, they mix so much error received through Papacy – they have so much human dross and alloy mixed in with the Gold of God's word, that "the fine gold is become dimmed." The spectacles through which every consistent member must look at God's character and plans, are so colored as to misrepresent him. Its creeds and doctrines – like the iron shoes of China, hinder the growth and strength of those members confined.
Come out into full freedom from all such shackles – into the liberty of conscience, liberty not only to study, but to believe God's word though it overthrows all the creeds and traditions of men – your rightful liberty as sons of God – the "liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free" and be not again entangled with any yoke of bondage. We are scarcely aware, of the slavery into which long years of [R309 : page 8] obedience to man's traditions has brought us. Slavery both of thought and action. We desire to see all free, not to do evil, nor to neglect God's service and worship, but free to engage in it more fully, and as he directs in His Word.
Many are the letters coming to us touching this point and asking how, they should withdraw – "take a letter," or what? We answer, take no [R310 : page 8] letter, the desire to hold a name in good and regular standing is the trouble of many. They have some reputation at stake and they fear to lose it. They want to carry before the world, the honor attaching to a nominal church membership, that they may be respected instead of despised and rejected of men. Yet they sing lustily: –
They talk and sing about freedom and many believe themselves free, but like children used to an apron string they fear to stand alone; they must have some sectarian yoke of bondage – or they would not feel comfortable. Poor creatures, many of us were born into the bondage of creeds and cannot appreciate liberty.
"Search the Scriptures" said Jesus, come out, follow me and ye shall not walk in darkness – nor lack for food. Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you FREE. (John 8:32.)
We append a copy of a letter handed recently by a sister of this city to the church with which she had been for some 16 years connected. It is well enough worded to be used as a model for others. It may assist some, hence we publish it here.
BRETHREN: – Believing that we are in the harvest of the Gospel Age as spoken of in Matt. 13:30, when the reapers are separating the wheat from the tares, which the Lord has permitted to grow together during the age, and also that the nominal church of all denominations is represented by the wheat and tares in the field – in which both have been growing, and that its mixed condition of worldly-mindedness and lukewarm christianity is displeasing in the sight of our Lord, I have heeded the counsel of his Word (Rev. 3:18) to buy of him "GOLD tried in the fire" – truth that will stand the test of all opposition, and for it have concluded to sell all that I once found dear – my reputation and my friends if need be – my time, my talents, my means, my all.
This mixed condition of truth and error, worldliness and lukewarmness, etc., I believe to be the Babylon described in Rev. 18, in which are still some of the Lord's dear children. To all such he says, (vs. 4) "Come out of her MY PEOPLE that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues."
In withdrawing my name I do not withdraw my affections from you, but would if I could have you all "as ripened wheat," gathered into the barn – condition of safety, rather than bound with the bundles of tares for the burning – with the "fire of God's jealousy."
Though in this step I may be misunderstood, I am nevertheless
When Luther discovered how fully Papacy filled the picture given by Paul, in 2 Thes. 2:3-8, and the symbols of Rev. 17, he felt justified by that knowledge, in publicly denouncing that system. The knowledge gave him the liberty to thunder the truth of God with all its power against the Vatican. God gave the liberty by giving the knowledge and Luther would have been unworthy the knowledge and the honor of being the Lord's mouthpiece, had he been too cowardly to speak, though Papacy was the only system then recognized and respected by the world.
Knowledge of the truth and Law was the ground of Jesus' liberty in denouncing the Doctors of divinity in his day, as "blind guides," etc. When Paul was before the council and High priest on trial, (Acts 23:3,) though he might have known the title from the robes of office which all high priests wore, yet he answers that he did not know that he was God's high priest. And it is evident that he was right, for when Jesus became the anti-typical High Priest (Heb. 7:26,28) the type must have ceased in God's estimation, just as when the true Lamb of God became our Passover (1 Cor. 5:7) the typical lamb ceased to be so esteemed by God or any of His children who recognized its fulfillment. So too, it was Paul's knowledge of Christ's having made an end of the Law, that gave him liberty to announce the end of the necessity of circumcision in the flesh, and that authorized him to say of the Jewish holy days and Sabbaths that they were merely shadows. (Col. 2:17.)
And some wonder at our liberty in speaking of many things similar to the above, viz: That as an organization, the nominal Gospel church is rejected of the Lord as was her type the Jewish church; that we speak so confidently of the tribulation coming upon her and apply the words "Come out of her my people that ye be not partakers of her sins and receive not of her plagues;" that we apply some of the symbols of Revelation without a question to her; that we so unhesitatingly and fully accept the exceeding great and precious promises of Glory, Honor, Immortality and Divinity. They wonder that we brethren, are not in darkness as most are, relative to "the day of the Lord" in which we live (1 Thes. 5:4); that we lay any claim to a knowledge of "things to come" (John 16:13) which Jesus told us would be an evidence of our being sons, led by the Spirit of God.
But the liberty which we exercise is inspired by a knowledge of, and belief in the word of God. "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you FREE." (John 8:32.) And as in Luther's and Paul's day, so now, those too indolent or too cowardly to express truth which they see, prove both by word and act that they are unworthy of the knowledge and consequently they are left in darkness. Jesus says "Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the son of man be ashamed when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." (Mark 8:38.)
A. No. We have never seen any Scripture which teaches that those who become new creatures will ever be restored to the perfection of the old or human nature. By nature we are depraved human beings. Since Jesus has paid our ransom price, he that believeth is justified – or imputed to be perfect; in this reckoned or imputed perfect condition, he is invited to present his "body a living sacrifice" to God's service and will, and is assured that it (though actually imperfect) will be "acceptable to God," who reckons us as justified. Now if we accept this invitation and sacrifice the human (will and body) what shall we have? A perfect human being restored to us? Oh no; something far better is promised, viz: In the resurrection such shall be like unto the angels – Like unto Christ's glorious body.
Restitution, is promised to the world, and we rejoice that the time for their receiving it is even now at hand and that they shall have so grand a blessing as to be made perfect men, but to those who can walk by faith (not by sight) and can during this Gospel Age realize their justification by the precious blood of Christ and who then consecrate and crucify the human, (with all its prospects here and hereafter) to such, God has promised the divine nature and image, which is a prize so much greater, as not to be comparable.
Such as have started on the "narrow way" for the divine are going in exactly the opposite direction to the perfecting of the human. The divine can only be obtained by the death of the human. But "few there be that find it." Alas, too many are striving for the perfecting of the flesh, hoping thereby to reach the divine nature; but just as soon might a man living in Utica, N.Y., expect to reach Albany by walking toward Chicago – it is the opposite direction.
When we covenanted that we would suffer with Jesus that we might reign with him – become dead with him that we might live with him on the higher spiritual plane, we started by reckoning the flesh dead and the Spirit alive as a new creature. This was right and must be fully carried out until the death is no longer reckoned but actual and until the SPIRITUAL LIFE is perfected.
We that are in this (earthly) tabernacle do groan, not that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon with our house which is from heaven (our spiritual body). But we don't want and have no need of a perfect house of earth and none is mentioned as being for us.
"Having begun in the Spirit are ye now made perfect in the flesh?" (Gal. 3:3.) Having begun to reckon ourselves new creatures shall we change our hope and be perfected as human beings? God forbid.
To your second question, "What will be the power of the perfect church and how exercised? – we answer, that being begotten of the Spirit we shall if we follow on be born of the Spirit. The spiritual seed will have "a spiritual body," the natural seed "a natural (human) body" – "To every seed his own body." Speaking of the change coming to those who have part in the (first) resurrection, Paul says, It is sown mortal, in dishonor, and weakness, a natural body; it is raised in the power of glory, honor, and Immortality – a spiritual body. (1 Cor. 15:38,42-44) So giving us a faint glimpse only, of the perfected spiritual church's power.
Their work as members of the spiritual "seed" is to bless all the families of the earth. (Gal. 3:29.)
Q. Bro. R., If your exposition in last number, of the passage – "We shall not all sleep" – is correct wherein consists the mystery mentioned? (1 Cor. 15:51.)
A. It is so great a mystery, that few seem able to realize, that if a member of the body of Christ die now, instead of sleeping even for a moment, he is changed to a spiritual body in an instant – in the twinkling of an eye.
It is of these only, that the words "O! death where is thy sting? O! grave where is thy victory?" (1 Cor. 15:55) are fully applicable.
In the case of Jesus even, the grave had a victory for nearly three days, and death had a sting which made our dear Lord cry in agony – "My God My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" And death has had a sting and the grave a victory all down through the age until now. Now the grave will get no victory over us, for into it, will merely be dropped the robe of flesh – the used up "earthly house," while we (as spiritual new creatures) shall not sleep, but will be "changed in a moment."
The whole church and finally the world get "victory" over the grave by a resurrection. And all will have the sting of death withdrawn "through our Lord Jesus Christ." But behold I show you a mystery – over us "who are alive and remain" the grave will not have any victory, no not so long as "a moment" or "a twinkling of an eye."
Dear Bro. Russell, I want to make an inquiry relative to the thought advanced in last number of the paper, viz: That all the members of the body of Christ must die physically; and that the translation takes place in the "moment" of death. [And I must say, that it seems reasonable, and in general harmony with the Scriptures so far as I have studied.]
My question is, Does not this application interfere with the Elijah type, at which, for some time we have looked with interest? Elijah did not die; and if he is a type and we the antitype, it would seem to teach that we should not die.
A. "Ye, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit;" and if Elijah is a type (as we feel sure he is) his actions, translation, story, etc., must be typical of us as spiritual – new creatures (and not of the old human creature).
Thus considered, you will find the type in perfect harmony with our deductions. We as new creatures, are to be "caught away" from earthly conditions, earthly body and all – "changed" to perfect spiritual bodies "in a moment." Elijah was certainly not in any sense a type of the natural man. We must not forget to count ourselves as God counts us, viz: New creatures, partakers of the divine nature (already dead as human beings and already alive toward God and only waiting to have our existence perfected as spiritual beings by being clothed upon with our heavenly body.