|J. H. PATON||ALMONT, MICH.|
|W. I. MANN||BRADDOCK, PA.|
|B. W. KEITH||DANSVILLE, N.Y.|
|A. D. JONES||PITTSBURGH, PA.|
|L. ALLEN||HONEOYE, N.Y.|
The word gospel signifies good news. There are parts or elements to the good news however; there are first principles of the gospel of Christ (Heb. 6:1.) and there are more advanced doctrines also. For instance, when you became aware that you were a sinner, and learned that Jesus had become you ransom, and that as a result you might now, approach God as a perfect man and not as a sinner, and that by and by in God's due time (the Millennial Age) all marks of sin would be removed and you would then be actually perfect (still a man), that was good news to you; it was the basis of your harmony and friendship with God. It was the same thing which centuries ago was good news to Abraham. Paul tells us: "Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness." Rom. 4:3. What good news did God communicate which he believed? "The gospel...saying: In thee shall all nations be blessed." The process by which all nations were to be blessed was not understood by Abraham except that it should be through his offspring, but he believed the fact without knowing how. We are made acquainted with the manner in which the blessing comes, viz: that Jesus was (through Mary) the seed of Abraham, and as such gave his life a ransom for all men; that as a consequence, in due time all men will be justified, and released from all the ills which come through sin.
Yes, the restitution from Adam's sin – the justification of humanity by Christ's sacrifice, was the good news to Abraham, to us of the gospel age, and is to be good news to the whole world in the Millennial Age, for it is "to be testified in due time." 1 Tim. 2:6. It is this message that is called "the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth and to every nation and kindred and tongue and people," (during the coming age). Rev. 14:6.
But there is another phase of the good news (gospel) which belongs exclusively to this Gospel Age. Something "which in other ages was not made known unto the Sons of men, as it is now (during this Gospel Age) revealed unto his saints (n.t.) and prophets (public expounders,) by the Spirit." Eph. 3:5.
This special good news is, that since Jesus' sacrifice, God is calling out from the world of humanity, some to become "the Bride, the Lamb's wife" – to "become partakers of the divine nature," (2 Pet. 1:4) to cease to be men and become "new creatures in Christ Jesus," (2 Cor. 5:17.) and as such to be "Heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord." This is "our high calling" of God, which we are to make sure of, by crucifying and sacrificing the human nature. This is the prize for which we seek – "Glory, Honor and Immortality."
But these prizes were not offered to Abraham; he was not told about the joint-heirship, nor about sitting in the throne, nor about Immortality. No, these were not made known in past ages. "Jesus Christ...brought Life and Immortality to light through the gospel." 2 Tim. 1:10. Nor will this high calling be made during the future ages, for the "body of Christ" will be completed in this age. The Bride will be developed, and the marriage of the Lamb will come when "his wife hath made herself ready." Rev. 19:7.
So we see that we get all that Abraham got, viz: justification by faith from all Adamic sin, and in addition are invited to become a part of "The Seed which is Christ." Gal. 3:29. Abraham was the father of this Seed in a certain sense, but certainly not a part of his own Seed. But more on this again.
Jesus was anointed of the Spirit – "the Lord's anointed" – and this we have seen is the meaning of his title, Christ; and all who become members of the Christ, must be made partakers of the Holy Ghost – anointed. Now we want to show that none were ever thus anointed before Jesus, and if this be the case none ever were members of his body before this age.
David is called the Lord's anointed, but he was anointed of Samuel with the anointing oil to the office of King; but both David and the oil were types: The oil a type of the Holy Spirit, and David a type of Christ in his office of King. Aaron was the Lord's anointed also, but he too was anointed only with the typical oil and was himself a type of Christ in his office of Priest. The Spirit of God [Holy Spirit] came upon the Prophets during the Jewish age, but in a different way entirely and for a different purpose than its operation on the church during this age. Then, it was simply a power, which took possession of the Prophet; over which he had little or no control, which simply used him as a machine. (See Num. 22:38.) Never before Jesus, did the Holy Spirit act as "a comforter" and guide into an understanding of truth, and this is the special work of the Spirit now. It is given to the new creature as a seal or evidence of his being begotten to the divine nature and as an earnest of his final deliverance, or birth into the Spiritual form.
The Spirit had written the mysteries through the Prophets, but had not revealed them. These mysteries were written for the church; (Jesus and his [R218 : page 1] body) and no one else could know them, nor will any one else understand them until the church is complete and "the mystery of God... finished."
Many of the Prophets were good men who loved God and whom God loved; yet, Daniel called the "greatly beloved" prayed for weeks, to God, desiring an understanding of some of the prophecies which he himself had uttered. But the Spirit gave him no understanding of it: finally in pity God sent an angel, gave him all the understanding possible (but evidently not satisfactory) and finished by telling him that the thing was closed up and sealed for a time, but would be understood when due. See Dan. 12:9.
For the same reason that prophets though beloved could not understand, the angels also beloved could not understand, viz: God had not revealed his plan, hence it is written, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man (nor angel; we might add, on the strength of Peter's statement) the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us (the church) by His Spirit;... Now we have received...the Spirit of God, that we might know, the things freely given to us of God." 1 Cor. 2:9,13.
Peter evidently refers to Daniel's interest above referred to, when he says: (1:10.) "Of which salvation (our high calling) the prophets have enquired and searched diligently who prophesied of the GRACE THAT SHOULD COME UNTO YOU: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was (speaking) in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed (by the angel, no revelations were made to them by the Spirit) that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister, the things which are now reported unto you, by them which have preached the gospel (good news) unto you, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, [to be your guide in understanding the preaching] which things the angels desire to look into." Now we ask, could Peter express more pointedly than he here does the view which we are advocating. They prophesied of the grace (favor – high calling) which is come unto you – the gospel church. Now notice another point made strong by Peter's expression; the prophets testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ. To all who see how the church or "body" of Christ has fellowship with the "head" both in sufferings and glory, this statement is full of meaning. Our hope is to be accounted worthy to suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together; (Rom. 8:17.) but the Prophets spoke of the sufferings as all future; they spoke of them "beforehand," so we may be sure that no matter how much the prophets may have suffered as witnesses for God, their sufferings were not like those of the gospel church reckoned a part of the sufferings of the Christ.
Now again, to his body the church, Jesus is called the "Head," "Leader," "Captain of our Salvation," and how proper it is that a leader should precede the followers. How could Abraham and the Prophets walk in His footsteps as he hath set us an EXAMPLE? (1 Pet. 2:21). If Abraham and the Prophets be counted as a part of the Christ, then Jesus was their follower; if their sufferings be a part of the afflictions of Christ, then Jesus was merely filling up their afflictions. But not so – the Head suffered first and then the body follows – "considers him" and his example. This is our privilege to "Fill up that which is BEHIND of the afflictions of Christ." (Col. 1:24).
But we have already shown that one reason why we are called the Christ, is that we are like our Leader, anointed of the Spirit or power of God. The Father gave it without measure to Jesus the head; and Jesus when glorified gave of the same to his body, the church at Pentecost, as Peter explains: "He being by the right hand of God exalted, hath shed forth this." (Acts 2:33.) The Spirit in this sense as a witness of our sonship (on the spiritual plane), as a guide into all truth (as it becomes "meat in due season") came to the church first at Pentecost, as we read that The Holy Ghost was not yet [R218 : page 2] given because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:39.) Jesus must first make his sacrifice and be accepted of the Father, before any could be received as spiritual, new creatures and recognized by the Spirit's adoption as such. Jesus' words bear the same import; He said: "It is expedient for you that I go away, for if I go not away the comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart I will send him unto you" – "even the Spirit of truth." (John 15:7, 15:26). Hence it is evident that the Spirit in this sense of enlightening and anointing is given only to the body of Christ (anointed).
But some one enquires, Is it ever stated that the church is anointed? Yes, we read (1 John 2:27): "The anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need that any one should teach you [Ye are not dependent upon human wisdom and science.] but the same anointing teaches you concerning all things." [Diaglott]. Again let Paul tell us of our anointing (2 Cor. 1:21) "Now he which establisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us in God; who also hath sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts."
We conclude then, that whatever God may have in his plan, as the reward of Abraham, the Prophets, and all ancient worthies, it is not the same thing which is promised to the Christ, which began with the head and will end with the last member – in this age. Thus we see that while there was good news to Abraham, and is to be everlasting good news in future ages, yet our Father hath bestowed "the exceeding riches of his grace, in his loving kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."
"Art thou greater than our father Abraham which is dead and the prophets are dead? Whom makest thou thyself?" John 8:53.
In being born of a virgin, Jesus had taken "the seed of Abraham" and so continued until he was 30 years of age when, in baptism he consecrated his being to God a living sacrifice. He was accepted, and from that moment, being begotten of the Spirit and sealed as a new creature, he is a partaker of the divine nature, the human nature (Abrahamic seed) being the thing sacrificed.
Consequently in this conversation with the Pharisees Jesus calls Abraham their father and God his Father. (Vs. 54,56). We answer for Jesus then, that he at that time was greater than Abraham and the prophets, in as much as they were only justified men – human nature – while he (since baptism) was begotten of the Spirit and a "partaker of the Divine nature." He was then, as much better and greater than them, as the divine nature is superior to the human.
Abraham became heir to the righteousness which is by faith; that is, he was "justified freely from all things," but this did not change his nature; no, it left him still a man – but a righteous man. Those who become heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, follow Abraham thus far: They also believe God and are justified as men, and then, they go further than he; being called of God they present themselves living sacrifices, as Jesus did and are accepted in the beloved and thus (by making their calling and selection sure), they become as Jesus did – "partakers of the divine nature." These exceeding great and precious promises Abraham and the prophets heard not of and therefore were not called, to run for the prize we seek.
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob while in some respects noble characters receive much of their lustre and grandeur from their being used as types of spiritual things. We have often noticed many ways in which Abraham was a type of our heavenly Father and Isaac the son of promise a type of God's Son, our Lord: Rebecca, Isaac's wife, was a type of Jesus' bride – the church, who soon will become joint-heirs with him to our Father's inheritance.
The promises to Abraham were all seemingly, of an earthly sort, and until the Spirit through Paul unfolded them, it was impossible to see anything but earthly promises to a human seed; but now thank God we see how all of those promises made to Abraham will have a fulfillment, just as they were made to him and much as he understood them; and we also see beyond Abraham the type, to him whom he typified – the true Father of the true Isaac – in the fullest sense, "The Father of the faithful" who is himself calling us to be the Bride of His only Son and heir of all things. And when we apply to our Father, God; instead of to the type, Abraham, the words: "In Thee and in Thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed," we see a strength and depth of meaning never discerned when we applied them to the type. No, Abraham is no part of "The Seed"; neither is he in any but a typical sense, its father for, "One is your Father even God."
What shall we say then, is there unrighteousness with God? Did he make promises to Abraham, which he never intended to fulfill and in which he was only a type? No, the promises which God made to Abraham were all of an earthly kind and so Abraham must have understood them; but, God foreknowing his own great plans, so arranged those earthly promises that the higher – spiritual blessings and spiritual seed, would be hid in earthly promises, until in his own due time, His spirit should, through Paul, reveal it to the church. This mystery of the spiritual seed [R219 : page 2] was kept secret in past ages, but is now revealed. Eph. 3:9.
Now let us look at any of the promises made to Abraham or expressed by the apostles, and we find them all susceptible of earthly fulfillment. We will examine some of them shortly, first stating the reward we expect Abraham to get and then seeing how the promises accord.
To Abraham and the prophets God will give, "a just recompense of reward" undoubtedly – all that was ever promised them and probably much more than they ever expected; yet they, may never receive the spiritual gifts promised only to Jesus and his Bride. We repeat, that the prophets knew nothing of "our high calling" to be joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Jesus said of John the Baptist, the prophet – "there hath not risen a greater;" (Matt. 11:11.) yet this greatest prophet did not claim the honor of being a part of the Bride but said: "He that hath the Bride is the Bridegroom: but the friends of the Bridegroom which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the Bridegroom's voice: this my joy, therefore is fulfilled." John 3:29. Thus does John tell us that his joy and privilege was not to be of the Bride, but to be a friend of the Bridegroom and to introduce him. Moses also was a great prophet, yet Paul does not class him with the spiritual house of sons, for he says, "Moses verily was faithful in all his house as a servant...but Christ as a son over his own house, whose house are WE?" Heb. 3:5,6.
Since (as shown in the preceding article) the anointing or begetting of the Spirit to a new nature (the spiritual) began with our Head, Jesus, we conclude that none of the patriarchs or prophets were thus begotten; and if not begotten they never can reach birth or a perfection of spiritual being (like unto the angels and like unto Christ's glorious body). How then will they be resurrected we enquire – with what body will they come? They belonged to the human family and will be raised human (earthly) beings. By their faith, they were justified as men; (reckoned free from sin and its penalty, sickness and death), and in the resurrection they will we believe be raised perfect men.
Herein will be the value of their faith, viz: that while the world in general will be raised to a measure of life only, and require faith and works during the Millennial age to prove their harmony and test their obedience to God and thus come gradually to perfection, these ancient worthies will, because tried and found worthy and justified by faith, be raised in the glory and perfection of earthly being.
Let no one forget that there is a "glory" attaching to the earthly. There are "celestial (spiritual) bodies and bodies terrestrial (earthly): but the glory of the celestial is one (thing) and the glory of the terrestrial is another." 1 Cor. 15:40.
Raised in the perfection of being, how they would tower above others on earth, degraded as all humanity is by sin. How naturally would come to them the homage and respect of the whole race. They would naturally assume the place first given to Adam
As we have already seen, the real rulers of earth will be the Lord and His Bride, invisible to humanity because of a new and different nature – spiritual beings – the new "powers of the air:" but there will be earthly agencies, made use of in ruling and blessing and restoring mankind – just as the present "Prince of the power of the air" now makes use of human agencies (governments and men), in oppressing and degrading.
There will then be true "civil service reform," and none but perfect beings will be allowed to hold office, or be identified with the government; and each earthly one as soon as he learns of the goodness and love of God, will seek and be assisted, to approach the kingdom (New Jerusalem). "They shall bring the honor and glory of the nations into it: And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth (sinful) neither whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life." (Rev. 21:26.)
The whole world will be on trial for life, [life as human beings – as Adam had it] and the conditions will be their coming into full harmony with the Kingdom (New Jerusalem) and its laws of love to God and men. None other, shall enter the kingdom or be enrolled of the Lamb as worthy of life. In the end of the age all who have not entered (the symbolic city) will be destroyed. (Rev. 20:14,15.)
We see then, that the kingdom (dominion – recognized authority) of God, "cometh not with observation, neither shall men say, lo, here! or lo, there!" for the kingdom when it cometh, will be in their midst, a spiritual unseen power; but as it proceeds and conquers, it begins to have human representatives (who can be seen) who continue to increase until the kingdom shall be, "Under the whole heavens" and shall "Fill the whole EARTH." (Dan. 2:35).
Now, in this kingdom there will be a work for spiritual beings to do, viz: to overrule, oversee and reward with perfection of being and continuous life, all who shall prove themselves worthy of it – who will thus be delivered from the bondage of corruption [sickness and dying] into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. [Adam was thus gloriously free, before sin bound him to death]. And there will be work for humanity in the glorious restitution of all things, for they will be co-workers with the Lamb, the Spirit and the Bride.
Now we can perhaps understand why it is, that "without holiness no man shall see the Lord," ("we shall see him as he is" for "we shall be like him," – also spiritual beings) and yet, men shall see the Patriarchs, for we read:
It was this (earthly) kingdom they sought and which had been promised them – the dominion over all nations to rule and to bless all others. It was this earthly phase of the kingdom which had been established in a small way under David, and this the Jews in Jesus' day claimed still to represent; and now notice Jesus' words – "You yourselves (shall be) thrust out." – They could not be thrust out of a thing which they were not in, in some sense; and they were in the earthly kingdom, in the sense that they as a nation had all been typically cleansed by typical sacrifices, and thus constituted a figure of the future earthly kingdom, into which will enter none but those absolutely cleansed from all sin by virtue of the "better sacrifices."
If then Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets, justified by faith, shall be raised perfect men, and as such will be in perfect harmony with God, we see how they would be the first of the earthly element of the kingdom. With this thought of the spiritual and human parts of the kingdom of God, and the necessity of the spiritual, being first perfected before the human would be possible, let us remember Jesus' words, "There [R219 : page 7] are last (the Gospel church) which shall be first (or chief), and there are first (Abraham, the prophets, etc.) which shall be last" (or under). Luke 13:28-30.
But, can the promises to Abraham be thus fulfilled? We think so – let us see. We read (Gen. 12:1-3), "Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country [Chaldea] and from thy kindred and from thy father's house, unto a land which I will shew thee, and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." If Abraham be placed at the head of the (earthly) kingdom, all this can be accomplished.
Again we read (Gen. 13:15,16): "All the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it and to thy seed forever; and I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth, so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered." [There is not much need of urging that this does not refer to the "little flock."]
Again (Gen. 17:7,8): "I will give to thee and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger – all the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession."
Again (Gen. 22:17): "In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is by the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed."
Now unless we can see more seeds than one in these promises, we will [R220 : page 7] have confusion: but if we can see that the earthly is to be as the sand, and that the blessing seed is Christ and the little flock under him, we may see how Abraham might suppose it all to belong to the natural seed. And indeed we should not know of the distinction were it not revealed through Paul. (Gal. 3:29).
Paul, in Rom. 4:16, seems to mention both of these seeds (natural and spiritual) when he says, that God's promise was "of faith, to the end that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not to that only which is of the Law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham who is the father of us all (...) like unto Him whom he believed, even God." [We give the marginal reading which conveys the true idea, viz: that Abraham was the actual father to one of the seeds and a likeness of the Father of the other – "even God."]
Let us next read from the sermon of Stephen, the second Christian martyr, (Jesus being the first) about God's promise to Abraham. He says (Acts 7:1-6): "The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham... and said unto him, 'Get thee out of thy country and from thy kindred and come into the land which I will show thee.' Then came he out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Charran: and from thence...he removed and came into this land wherein ye now dwell. And he gave him none inheritance in it, no not so much as to set his foot on, yet He promised that He would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him....And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land and that they should bring them into bondage and entreat them evil four hundred years."
Let no one question therefore that there is an earthly seed to be blessed with earthly blessings as men, and that the promise to Abraham associates him especially with that seed, and not with the higher one whose father is God.
Paul speaks of Abraham's hopes, saying (Heb. 11:8-17): "By faith Abraham when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance obeyed; and went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise...dwelling with Isaac and Jacob heirs of the same promise: For he looked for the city which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God." "These all died in faith, not having received the promises (the things promised – the land wherein they dwelt, etc.), but having seen them afar off...and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on earth. For they that say such things declare that they seek a country, and truly if they had (wished) been mindful of that country from whence they came out [Chaldea], they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now, [instead of returning] they desire a better (the promised) country, that is an heavenly, (Canaan in the heavenly kingdom). Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city." The city to which we have seen Abraham and the Prophets are coming, is the Millennial Kingdom into which they shall be the first to come on the earthly plane, and whose earthly seat of government will probably be Canaan the very land here mentioned, in which they sojourned as strangers.
Paul proceeds to add to his list of ancient worthies David, Samson, Rahab and the prophets who succeeded in various undertakings because of faith in God: and he suggests the thought that these faithful ones will also get a reward in "the city" being prepared. But after mentioning all these Paul adds: "These all having obtained a good report through faith received not the promise [the chief or "high calling"] God having provided
And now methinks, some one would say, "Art thou greater than our father Abraham...and the prophets? Whom makest thou thyself?" To which we answer in Jesus' words, "If I honor myself my honor is nothing: it is my Father that honoreth me." No, dear brethren and sisters, none of us could have imagined such a "high calling" as we have received; but as we read his promises we should be unworthy of them did we not believe and confess and accept them, with grateful hearts.
As we see the exclusive character of the call to be joint heirs of "Glory, Honor and Immortality" let us lay aside every weight and run for it. The prize given to the patriarchs is almost beyond human comprehension, and yet God has PROVIDED some better thing for us. I shall praise him eternally for the opportunity provided even if I should not "so run as to obtain" it. But why should I not attain it – why should you not obtain it? Our justification is complete – it is Christ that died. Our call is official, it is "of God in Christ Jesus." True, we are weak, but He who invites us says, "My grace is sufficient for thee." Haste then to perform your covenant; to present your bodies living sacrifices. The time of sacrifice will soon be over – haste to make your calling and election sure by submitting yourself to God, who will work in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
"I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first and also to the Greek." Rom. 1:16.
These words like all of Paul's words, in general, are fitly spoken and are like "apples of gold in pictures of silver." Gospel signifies good tell, good news, glad tidings, something to make one rejoice and be glad; it must have been something of very great importance, something far-reaching in its nature, something supremely grand and glorious, for it had wrought a most wonderful change in Paul. He had not always been of the opinion which he now expresses, for he had persecuted those of "this way" even unto strange cities, and when they were put to death, he gave his voice against them.
Surely the gospel had not changed in its character; no, but he had become better acquainted with it. That is the way it ever is with the world: the better they are acquainted with the gospel of Christ, the better opinion they have of it, the higher they value it. Paul was expecting soon to visit Rome, that imperial city, the mistress of the world, and of course if he spoke in public he wished to talk about something which he was not ashamed of, and this he declared was the thing: "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ." Paul proved the truth of his assertion not only by his words, but by his actions as well.
The mighty mind of Paul, in its natural sweep immense, saw THAT in the gospel of Christ which was infinitely above and beyond everything else. If he could have seen how man, through the blinding effects of pride, and superstition, would have finally come to consider the gospel of Christ – if he could have stood upon the orthodox platform of our day and have looked out upon the pile of "wood, hay, stubble," which is built on the foundation, Christ, can any one suppose he would have been able to say he was not ashamed of it? If the "mother church," which is proud of calling him her patron saint, and after whom many of her churches are named, should through some of her dignitaries expound to him the doctrines of penance, papal succession, confession of sins to the priest and obsolution, the state of the dead in purgatory, &c., can we suppose that he would endorse them and say of them, "I am not ashamed?" If some one were to represent to him the doctrine of predestination as held by our Calvinistic brethren, and undertake to prove it by Paul's own writings in Rom. 8:29,33: "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his son," &c., and again in Rom. 9:15,24: "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion," &c., and conclude from it that God from all eternity planned to bring into being a few, favored with advantages of every sort – birth in a christian land, surrounded by christian influences and upheld by christian associations and the particular favor of God; but the large majority by the same eternal decree were born in the darkness of moral night and bound by the strong cords of corrupt hereditary taint and association, and although they may have dim perceptions of God and truth, and may desire to know him, yet, though they may groan and strive, and turn their tear-dimmed eyes toward heaven, with untold longings, yet they shall go into a night of eternal anguish, "without one cheering ray of hope, or star of glimmering day," and the righteous from their exalted seats in glory shall look on this display of God's wisdom, and justice, and power and praise him for this manifestation of his love.
Is it possible that any thinking man can suppose that Paul would endorse this? That this was what he was not ashamed of? But would he look with more favor upon the view of our Arminian brother, who should say to him: that although the decree was made as our Calvinistic brother has stated, yet the provision was for all to be saved, the ransom was provided [R221 : page 3] for all, but the secret of it is in the words of Jesus, "ye will not come unto me that ye might have life." The table was spread and bountifully provided for all, but they "would not and made light of it;" not taking into account the fact that more than nine-tenths of them never knew that there was any supper provided for them, that is to say, that infinite wisdom decreed that a certain number only should be informed of it, and be at the table, but had it set for ten times as many as he knew would be there to sup, and because they were not there, consigned them to eternal torment. Acting upon this basis of reasoning, if such it is, our Arminian brethren have sent as many missionaries as possible to tell the starving millions that there is a supper provided so that the poor creatures who are fortunate enough to hear of it may come and welcome, but those who do not must starve. But this when looked at squarely, our Arminian brethren cannot see to be very good news, and so sometimes conclude, (though not in a very orthodox way) that these unfortunate millions who never heard of the gospel, will be provided for "in SOME way or other," (a good conviction). Can we think this is the gospel which Paul had in mind when he said, "I am not ashamed of the gospel? Nay, verily!
But there is still another view that has seemingly strong scriptural support, and this includes all men; this surely is a free gospel and universal, and Paul is supposed to be its strong supporter, for he has given that which is the key note in the promulgation of it, viz: "As in Adam ALL die, EVEN SO in Christ shall ALL be made alive." 1 Cor. 15:22. So our Universalist brother infers from this that in some way, in the hour of death, or before, or after, by some means, whether sinful or holy, everybody, everywhere shall be saved; and why not? He says, did not Christ by the grace of God taste death "for every man?" And if so did he die in vain for any man? But our brother of this opinion would not probably dwell with as much satisfaction upon the passage "without holiness no man shall see the Lord," Heb. 12:14, and would prefer that murderers and pickpockets should occupy a separate apartment in the many mansions." (Here again conviction almost arrives at truth.) Now, candidly, can we suppose that these views, which we think, in a plain-spoken way, we have fairly represented as being the views held by the churches in general, regarding the gospel, are the views held by saint Paul when he uttered the words we have referred to?
We cannot think so, and we do think that few, if any, who reflect are perfectly satisfied that either of these were the views which he held. Then do you stand back aghast and say: Can it be possible that all this is error that we have been taught so long, and that has so much seeming support from the Bible? Do you say, impossible? If these are errors, which is your choice, and which is good news to you? Can you walk out beneath the starry heavens at night and looking up into illimitable space among the exhibitions of infinite wisdom and power, and there alone in the presence of God lay your hand upon either one of these dogmas and say, I believe THIS is the gospel of Christ, of which Paul was not ashamed?
No, my dear brother or friend these dogmas are not all errors, neither are they all truth. Like the confederation of states, to which has been proudly attached the term "E Pluribus Unum," so the truths of the gospel of which Paul was not ashamed are "E Pluribus Unum," i.e. one composed of many. We understand then that the gospel, of which Paul spoke, embraces in its scope many of the ideas held by each of our brethren to whom reference has been made, and for whose opinions we have respect, but we cannot think that either of them is complete alone, and we believe that either of the churches who think that its plan or creed is the only and true one, while so much at variance with the others, has done much to make the man of the world who is uninformed, reject the instrument (the Bible) upon which he thinks so many variant tunes can be played. With force then the question recurs to us; what was the gospel or good news of which Paul was not ashamed? What was the great and glorious thought connected with the gospel that he had in mind?
Paul's was a critical and calculating mind, and his inspired thoughts were stamped with that peculiarity. He "reckons" about his sufferings; he "counted all things loss," etc., etc. In this case he is "not ashamed of the gospel for, i.e. for the reason that it is "the power of God," something above and beyond all human institutions, something that the world, the mind of the natural man never would have thought of, something supernatural, yes and something from which the mind of man (if left to itself) would soon wander; and that is evidently why these truths have been torn asunder, and the different parties in the church have each taken a piece, and upon it built a superstructure of its own, much of it, the "wood, hay, stubble," to which Paul refers in 1 Cor. 3:12. Each of these, according to our understanding, has already begun to be swept away or to be burned up, and "the day" which "shall declare it" is even now begun, (vs. 13) we fully believe. We feel convinced that the fire which is to consume the world (of error) is even "now kindled."
But says one, where is the disagreement? Do we not all believe that this gospel is the power of God unto salvation? (to every one that believeth, our Arminian brother breaks in – but he must wait a little). Well they say so, but in practice deny it. Our Calvinistic brother says "unto salvation" and adds, (in creed) of a few, and unto damnation of the many, i.e. power to save all, will to save a few. Our Arminian brother can emphasize the will of God to save, but whisper the power, for O! man opposes his will. Our Universalist brother can declare aloud both will and power and take all into glory.
Let us illustrate the difference between our brethren, and suppose three natives of some foreign land, who were totally unacquainted with the design or nature of the national emblem "the stars and stripes," were to call at different times upon the American Consul in that land, and he was to present to one a portion of the flag as a memento, having only the red, at another time, to another one, a portion having only the white, and still another having only the blue, each might suppose that his portion represented in color the whole and contend that because the representative of the nation gave it to him, he was sure that was the true color, and so of each of the others, while the fact would be that each was right in supposing that he had the true color, but erred in the supposition that he had the only color, when it was composed of "red, white, and blue," and that in a specified proportion.
Now our Calvinistic brother, sees so clearly that predestination is taught in the scriptures, that he cannot see that there is a universal salvation; and our Arminian brother sees so clearly that there is salvation provided for all, that he cannot see that there is clearly taught the doctrine of predestination and election; and our Universalist brother sees so clearly that all will be saved, that he cannot see either of the others.
But says one, you seem to agree with each, and disagree with each; how is this? They cannot all be right and wrong at the same time. Well not altogether right, but partly right, as in the illustration. We are glad to see that each has enough ground for his belief to awaken our sympathy and respect. Respect for what Paul would have been ashamed of? No, we did not say that Paul was ashamed of these brethren, but of the doctrines or creeds that have come to be called the gospel, or are considered as representing the gospel. [R221 : page 4]
Perhaps all of these brethren, including the Papist brother, cares to hear no more; if so, perhaps some "fool for Christ's sake" will, so we will say on and consider the last question first. We consider our Universalist brother's text "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive," 1 Cor. 15:22, as unanswerable as regards the universality of salvation; if there were not another text in the bible to teach it, that would. It seems to us that nothing can be plainer, and for this reason other scripture somewhat obscure must in some way harmonize with it, and so of each of the other texts quoted by our brethren as teaching the doctrines of "Election," and "Free will," or Arminianism. In the above text we think no one would undertake to make the word "all" in the second place mean less than in the first, especially when the first is followed and the latter preceded by the words "even so." The misunderstanding seems to be as to the kind or mode of life. "As in Adam all die;" how do all die in Adam? To answer it correctly first conclude how all lived in Adam. Not spiritual nor eternal life was it? Natural life and its continuance CONDITIONED on obedience, was it not? Then he (and all in him) lost no more than that, and "even so" he (and "all" in him) will be made alive in Christ, the second Adam. But, says one, is that all the life we get through Christ? That is all the universal salvation we can find held out to mankind in the Bible, and that we think is "very good;" God said it was, but thank God there is more, but if any wish to stop there, God has predestinated to let them, but if they have heard of the higher life and [R222 : page 4] neglected "so great salvation," theirs will be an irreparable loss.
Then you think, says one, that there are different degrees of salvation? O, yes; let us read on a little further (23d ver.): "But every man in his own order, Christ the first fruits, afterward they that are Christ's at his coming."
Having seen that there are orders or ranks of being, as is also shown by the apostle in the 39th verse and onward, we can see that it does not follow that because all are made alive through Christ, they will therefore come finally to the same kind of being, but are brought to life and take position according to "order," for "As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly" (48 ver.).
With this view, that there are different orders, and that all are brought to the restoration of what was lost in Adam, we can see how there may be a will in man to gain a position in any given order, and how there may be a selection, "Election" or "Predestination," (whichever you choose to call it) of God from among his creatures of those who are qualified or fitted for the different grades, orders, or ranks of being. He has predestinated, or established a law, that, "to those who by patient continuance in well doing SEEK for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life" shall be given. Rom. 2:7. "But unto them that are contentious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish to every soul of man that doeth evil," (8 and 9 verses). Now who disobey? Those who know the truth surely. You do not consider your child as disobedient until it transgresses a known command; neither does God, for "like as a father pitieth his children so the Lord pitieth them that fear him." Many fear him who do not know much about him, and do not know what is commanded, or whether he has commanded anything or not. Such cannot, of course, obey the truth, nor come under wrath, but will come to life (not eternal), the life lost in Adam without any will or choice of theirs, and restored to that measure, through the second Adam without will or choice of theirs. It was for this purpose that "He by the grace of God should taste death for every man." Heb. 2:9. And God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Yes "WHEN we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his son." Rom. 5:8-10.
Ah, but brother, now you are reaching that point in the mind and teaching of the apostle in which is embraced another rank or "order:" the power of God UNTO; we do not imagine that the power of God is staid at all when man is brought back to the Adamic condition, that is, to a reconciled condition; he lost that life without previously knowing the nature of sin or death; true, God told him, but like children without experience, they disobeyed, and his posterity die for it, or because of it; whether they sin or not they all go down in death because of the sin of Adam which "taints us all," and come up because of the righteousness of Christ that restores us all. We die on Adam's account, and live again on Christ's account. Now brought back to the Adamic condition we are reconciled to God. Well, is there anything more for us? Yes, hear the apostle again, "Much more being reconciled we shall be saved by his life." 10th verse. What! Saved more? Yes, much more by the power of God unto salvation. Will all men be saved much more? We are sorry to part company with any, but though this is a blessed restored condition, yet we shall have to leave on this plane those who do not believe, for this much more salvation is to every one that believeth. Now my Calvinistic and Arminian brothers stand by and see the beauty of those texts which you have had to stretch and twist so. You need not stretch them now; they are all right and true. "Whom he did foreknow" would be fitted by desire, and faith, and continuance in well doing, each and severally for the different orders, "He predestinated" them to, and so this gospel, GOOD news is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first and also to the Greek." Why to the Jew first? ("He is not a Jew which is one outwardly," "but he is a Jew which is one inwardly." Rom. 2:28-29), because he believes first, here, in time to reach the great salvation. Dear brethren, let us desire more, study God's word more, believe more, and have the "much more" salvation. "Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit, for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God." 1 Cor. 2:9-10.
Though Greek, like English words, have different meanings; the Bible student frequently finds it extremely interesting to learn that many Greek words were used by Christ and the Apostles with a certain and fixed signification. The literal rendering of the three words above, is end, harvest, and presence respectively; and we would briefly call attention to them, [R223 : page 4] as they are intensely interesting terms to us, who believe that they all are used with reference to the period of time, in which we are living.
Suntelia, end occurs six times; once in Heb. 9:26. "But now once in the Suntelia (end) of the aionon (ages) hath he (Jesus) appeared to put away sin, by the sacrifice of himself."
The harvest is the end of the age, and Matt. 13:30, gives us to understand that it is a space of time, in which a work is to be done.
It will be noticed that it refers to the gospel harvest four times; Rev. 14 speaking of the two facts, that for the little flock and afterward for the great multitude. The Heb. qatsir is the equivalent of Therismos; and Joel 3:18, and onward, refers to the same harvest mentioned in Rev. 14, though perhaps first to the Jewish harvest.
Parousia, signifies presence, invariably. Liddell and Scott, standard authority, give it that signification; and Young's Analytical Concordance renders it the same. Whedon's Commentary, page 277 says: "The word Parousia, never in the whole New Testament, signifies anything else." It never means the act of coming, but presence. It is twenty times improperly translated coming, in the common version; in fourteen cases, at least, when referring to the presence of Christ at the end of the age. We give the passages in which it occurs. Matt. 24:3,27,37,39; 1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1,8,9; James 5:7,8; 2 Pet. 1:16; 3:4; 1 John 1:28. The question, Matt. 24:3, is: What will be the sign of thy Parousia (presence) and the Suntelia (end) of the aion (age)? And we must believe that the answer had direct reference to the question. He not only gave a series of events which would precede his presence; but also events or signs which would be due, during the presence, as will be noticed by those who will read carefully the passages indicated above; and it would seem that all might see that not alone the passages involved in the answer to the question; but all the others, where parousia occurs, appeal, like everything else in the gospel, to the "eyes of the understanding," (Eph. 1:18,) rather than to the natural eyes, as has been so many times shown. The Therismos (harvest) is the Suntelia (end) of the age; and the Parousia (presence) is in the Suntelia (end) of the age; and the evidence seems conclusive that it is the same Suntelia in both cases; not one preceding the other; the evidence is so abundant and clear, that we must believe it until compelled by facts, not by any amount of scoffing, to discard the position. The same evidence which caused us to believe in the one, made us believe in the other; and any one who doubts that we are living in the time of the Parousia, ought to be consistent, to question the Therismos (harvest) also. The work of separation due to be done in the first part of the harvest, has evidently been going on, and is about complete. What was the special prophetic argument which proved the harvest and presence to begin in the autumn of 1874? The Jubilee, we answer. The writer has been studying the time question since 1867, and has been associated with the movement in connection with the fulfillment of all the prophetic measurements since the above date; and still accepts all the legitimate conclusions to be drawn from them, as he understands them.
Those who would study the Jubilee argument, will find it in the "Day Dawn." It is not the design to give it in this connection; but we reiterate that it was the main argument used to prove that we had come to the "harvest" or end of the age. The 1335 days of Dan. 12 were prolonged to their utmost, to harmonize with this. We would recommend all who are interested, to carefully study all the arguments; and caution all not to be ready to give up old "land marks" too easily; and to be careful lest haply you may be found among those referred to in 2 Pet. 3:4.
We would suggest that those who have never had the "eyes of the understanding enlightened" on the subject, as well as those who once understood, but have gone out into darkness in regard to it, do not comprehend the presence. Whatever others have thought, or may now think, the writer has never believed nor taught, that Christ was walking the earth during the period of his presence; it is called presence, because he has assumed a new character, to do a new work, superintending the harvest. The Son of Man sowed the seed (Matt. 13:37), and he sends forth the reapers. Vs. 41. He employs agents in both sowing and reaping; yet it can be said that he does both, and during this period of reaping, he has appeared especially near to those who have understood it, and they have enjoyed the time of his Parousia. Some who once expressed the same enjoyment of it, are now asking: Where is the evidence promise: if not fulfilling the other part of Peter's prediction? Those who understand the teaching of the Law in regard to "the day of atonement," (Lev. 16) we think, will not expect to see Christ in the flesh, nor while they are in the flesh. If our understanding of the prophetic arguments be correct, we are nearing the close of that part of the harvest which pertains to the little flock. If there shall be found any mistake about what may be expected here, we know that the conditions, upon which we may attain to the Brideship are not affected: We must count ourselves dead indeed unto sin, Satan, self and the world, and alive unto God.
This year would be indeed a notable one, if the predictions and expectations of all men could be realized. "Second adventists," whose applications of the prophetic periods (The "2300 days," the "1335 days" and the "1260 days,") have all run out, and who because they are looking for Jesus to again become a man and appear to them in the flesh, cannot discern that he is now present a spiritual being. They have not "the eyes of their understanding" opened, else they could realize that those prophetic periods were fulfilled and the "harvest" of the age has come – "the day of the Lord."
With only a little spiritual discernment they might see the harvest work in progress – the ripened grains of wheat being separated from the "Babylon" mixture. But they see not: they, as well as the church in general stand in the same relation to the second advent that the nominal Jewish church did to the first advent. Jesus was then present, but they could not believe it – "they knew not the time of their visitation." Only "Israelites indeed in whom was no guile," then received him and believed on him, and the others "stumbled" – Thus the separating of that harvest was accomplished.
And now, how fully we seem to have the parallel here. This movement based upon the statements of the prophets, claims that the Lord is present – that those prophetic periods did not fail of fulfillment, and some of the best and holiest people of all denominations are coming to a realization of these truths.
They find spiritual food for which they have long been hungering; they come to the enjoyment of the liberty wherein we stand and rejoice, knowing no name but that of our Bridegroom, and recognizing each other only by the spirit of Christ; needing not the shackles of creeds to unite, since the only bonds of union are the bonds of love and of the Spirit.
Yes, the sifting work goes on, and serves to prove every man, whether he loves truth and liberty, or error and bondage; let each one take his choice. The bondage is the most honorable and brings the approval of the highly respected among men, while to step out, brings much the same results as at the first advent. Then the frown and displeasure of the Chief Priests and Pharisees – the church – came upon all who received the words of the Master, and their names were cast out as evil. That was the test by which it was ascertained, who were "Israelites indeed" – so now the same class are being gathered in much the same way.
"The Second Advent Church" people, and many in other denominations, interested in the Lord's coming and expecting him in the flesh, have turned their attention to 1881, and feel confident that they will see Jesus with their natural eyes this year. Their hopes are based partly upon an old rhyme called "Mother Shipton's prophecy," which concludes thus:
The interest felt and expressed relative to this year by most of those [R224 : page 5] interested in the Lord's coming, and the fact that we expect SOMETHING, has perhaps led some people, who do not understand our position, to suppose that we are looking for much the same things as others. We would like to correct this misapprehension once for all, by stating that we do not expect Jesus to come this year, nor any other year, for we believe that all time prophecies (bearing upon Jesus' coming) ended at and before the fall of 1874, and that He came there, and the second advent is now in progress and will continue during the entire Millennial age. We believe that his presence will be revealed to the eyes of men's understandings gradually, during this "Day of the Lord," (forty years – from 1874 to 1914,) as it now is to ours; except that we, discern it through the word of prophecy revealed by the Spirit, and they will recognize his presence by His judgments upon Nominal Zion, and the World – for the Father "hath committed all judgment unto the Son."
The WATCH TOWER never claimed that the body of Christ will be changed to spiritual beings during this year. There is such a change due sometime. We have not attempted to say when, but have repeatedly said that it could not take place before the fall of 1881.
Now let us state briefly what we do expect in the fall of this year and why. We find that the entire Jewish age was a prophetic "shadow" of this Gospel Age in every respect: Its Israel and his twelve sons, a shadow of the true Israel of God (Jesus) and his twelve disciples; their sacrifices, typical of the "better sacrifices" for sin, offered during this age; the length of their age the same as ours; the end of their age "a harvest" the same as ours: Jesus present as the Reaper in their harvest as in ours. The unexpected manner of his coming caused him to be "a stone of stumbling" to the nominal church there, and it is proving the same here: He is to be "a stone of stumbling and rock of offense to both the houses of Israel." Isa. 8:14. (The nominal house of servants, of which Moses was the head, and the nominal house of sons, of which Christ is the head. Heb. 3:5-6). The harvest of the Jewish house was of two parts, viz: Seven years of favor to the church, and thirty-three years of wrath and trouble upon the then rejected and desolate one, from which the wheat was gathered. These parallels being prophetic and in harmony with the prophecies already fulfilled, give reason for believing that the harvest to this age which began in 1874, will be like the shadow, viz: Seven years of favor to the church, to be followed by thirty-three years of falling and destruction upon the "Babylon" company which will completely separate all grains of wheat from tares.
The seven years of favor to the church, commencing with 1874, will end in 1881 – about the 2nd of October. Now what special favor did the church enjoy during these seven years? We can get an answer best by looking at the prophetic shadow – What favor did fleshly Israel enjoy during the seventieth week? Jesus was present – "He came to his own, and his own received him not" – yet it was a favor to have the offer, even though the nominal church rejected him. This special part of the work, offering himself to the nominal house, lasted three and one-half years (until five days before his death) when He addressed them, saying, "How often would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her brood under her wings, but ye would not: Behold your house (the nominal church) is left unto you desolate." (Matt. 23:38.) Yet for the remainder of their covenant week (three and one-half years) he showed them favor. It was not in the same way – it was no longer an appeal to the nominal house "left desolate," but to the pure and true individuals in that house to come out of it. (The preaching of the gospel by apostles was confined to Jews, for three and one-half years after Pentecost). The gospel call was to come out on the Lord's side, separate from Judaism, and "stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free."
Now what would be the parallel, or meaning of this prophetic "shadow" here? We answer that during the three and one-half years from 1874 the proclamation of Jesus, the present Bridegroom was made to the church as a whole, that the spirit addressed nominal Zion as a whole, saying: "I counsel thee buy of me gold tried in the fire, and white raiment,...as many as I love I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore and repent. Behold I stand at the door and knock." (Rev. 3:18).
But they heeded not his presence and call, as the "shadow" showed they would not, (the "Doctors of Divinity" mostly opposing it, as the "Doctors of the Law" had done in the "shadow"). After three and one-half years (in 1878) he rejected or left desolate the nominal church here, as he had done in the "shadow," saying, "Because thou are neither cold nor hot I will spew thee out of my mouth." (Rev. 3:16). The Jewish church was God's mouthpiece until "left desolate," but from that time forward God's truth came through another channel. So here the gospel church has been God's recognized channel of truth, or mouthpiece, but are such, we believe, no longer. Truth will now come through other channels.
Since 1878 (and never before that) we have felt at liberty to call God's children out of the nominal churches to a position of freedom and liberty, where they would be free to serve Him fully, as well as to study his word and be taught of Him: saying, "Babylon... is fallen and become the habitation of devils and a hold of every foul spirit and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird." (This falling of the nominal church and receiving into her bosom the corruptions of earth has been in process for some time). Now comes the message: "And I heard another voice saying, Come out of her my people that ye be not partakers of her sins and receive not of her plagues." (Rev. 18:2-4). The favor of the present (and which we believe will end in October, 1881) is not to the nominal church but to individuals in her, that they may come out and receive the present Lord. He says: "If any man (not church) hear my voice, and open the door I will come in to him and will sup with him and he with me." (Rev. 3:20).
We have no desire to dogmatize nor to keep any one out, but we believe (and therefore speak) that the favor which ends this fall, is that of entering the Bride company. We believe the door of favor is now open and any who consecrate all and give up all, can come in to the wedding and become members of the Bride, but that with this year the company will be reckoned complete and the door to that high calling (not the door of mercy) closed forever.
In one of His parables pointing to the end of this age Jesus says, "The Bridegroom came and they that were ready, went in with him to the marriage and the door was shut." (Matt. 25:10). Our understanding of this is, that the Bridegroom came in 1874 and since then the ready (consecrated) ones have been going into a condition of light with reference to his presence, and preparation for marriage, and that this fall, the door of opportunity to join this company will close.
Another of Jesus' discourses seems to bear upon this point – He said: (Luke 13:24) "Strive to enter in at the straight gate; for many I say unto you will seek to enter in, and will not be able, when once the Master of the house (church) is risen up and hath shut to the door (to the "Narrow way" – see supplement tract No. 5), and ye begin to stand without and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; (Let us also become a part of your Bride.) And he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not, whence ye are." (I do not recognize you as the ones I promised to make my Bride – she has come in).
Now, it was on the strength of this prophetic "shadow" which shows that the "door" would not close until this fall, that we said, the living would not be changed before that time. As to when our change is due we can only say: To our understanding it will be due at any time after October 2nd, 1881, but we know of no scriptural evidence as to what time we will be changed from natural to spiritual, from mortal to immortal. We have the testimony that we shall "execute the judgments written" (seven last plagues) and we expect our change before those last plagues begin. We should be glad to go sooner if it were the Bridegroom's will, but we will be equally glad to remain here in earthly conditions if it is His will.
Our expectations then, relative to this year, are very different from those of others interested in it. As to "Mother Shipton's prophecy" we of course give no heed to such "old wives' fables." But the teachings of
It has an entrance passage downward to a pit representing the "broad road to destruction." From this a passage starts upward – representing the Law dispensation. This in due time enlarges and becomes a "grand gallery," seven times as high, still leading upward, representing the Gospel Age. Thirty-three inches from the beginning of the grand gallery [R224 : page 6] is a well, representing the death and resurrection of Jesus. From this well there is another downward passage-way which connects with the entrance passage near the pit, and seems to teach the restoration of all [R225 : page 6] men from the "horrible pit" of death, through and on account of Jesus' death.
The "grand gallery" measures 1874 inches long at the top, 1878 inches long at a groove cut in its sides about midway between bottom and top and 1881 inches, at the bottom. (The upper end wall impends or slants forward).
Now notice how aptly these three distinct dates (1874, 1878, 1881,) are marked by the pyramid, in ending the grand gallery, and see how ably it supports the teaching of the Bible, viz: that the gospel favors and privileges have been ending during these seven years – and will entirely cease this year.
Two other ways, in which the Pyramid corroborates scripture, are these: At the top of the "grand gallery" – just where it measures 1874 inches, there is an opening or passage-way which seems to say, something might go out or come in here. For some time we thought this might represent the "change," or catching away of the church as spiritual beings; but it would have been due in 1874 and no translation took place; then it must mean something else. It seems very plain and clear to us now that that opening can mean nothing else than what the Prophets have taught us, viz: that there the Bridegroom came a spiritual being. It fits, as all the other parts of that wonderful structure fit and harmonize with the Word.
Secondly, we are claiming that our Lord's presence here, is to be to many in the nominal church "a stone of stumbling," and this too finds its illustration in the Pyramid, for at the upper end of the "Grand gallery" a huge block of stone juts out into the pathway and further progress becomes impossible, unless the traveler climbs with difficulty to its level. So we find it; many are stumbling, and the progress of all seems to depend on their recognizing the present one.
There seems to be a disposition on the part of some to say – now if you could only assure me positively that we will be changed this fall, I should be willing to endure anything: I could then take up any cross, deny myself, and do God's will only.
Now dear brother, sister, this is not the right way; it is not the correct thought: God called you to the "high calling" on condition, not that you would do his will and not your own, for a few months only, but for all eternity. And this you promised to do, did you not? Well, if so, what right have you to any will in the matter? Should you not the rather say, "Not my will, but thine be done?" His will regarding our present life and its circumstances – its joys and its sorrows and its labors; and His will as to the time the present kind of labor in His service shall give place to the more perfect service, when we shall be "changed" into likeness of Him who is the express image of the Father's person.
The Lord's grace (favor) he says, "is sufficient" for us and we should ask no more. It has proved sufficient in the past and we trust Him for the future. He gives his favor – gives us strength by showing us more and more of his plan and our part in it, etc., and how much in this way we have enjoyed during the past three years, especially our daily feasting on the heavenly food. I trust we all feel stronger spiritually than ever before. If any do not, let them fear that they are not walking up to the light, in the full consecration of their all.
But does some one say: I would consecrate all – my means, my time, my talents, and my reputation, if I knew surely that I would get the prize; but I fear to lose my little stock of earthly treasure and perhaps not be accounted worthy of a place in the Bride company? To such we say, "Oh thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" "Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it." (Will keep his promise.) 1 Thes. 5:24. We are absolutely sure of obtaining what God, who cannot lie, hath promised, if we do sacrifice all. The very object of the present age is to develop from among others those who will –
"Trust in His unchanging grace."
If you think the prize too dear – not worth your little all, don't exchange; but if you see it to be worth a million times what you are asked to give for it, sell "all that you have and purchase it." If our understanding of the matter be correct, the opportunity for making this exchange which is so favorable to us, will end with this fall.
Those who do not exchange, will soon have reason to regret it, as they will find their all melting from their grasp during the time of trouble. Those who come knocking afterward, desiring admittance would apparently be glad then to give all for an opportunity to enter, but it will be too late "when once the Master...hath shut to the door." Luke 13:25.
Just what we should look for from October 1881 onward we can scarcely say, but expect that as these seven years of the harvest (which altogether is forty years) have been a time of favor to the church, the succeeding years will show a lack of favor, and that consequently the nominal church will rapidly fall to pieces, and as a consequence, many who have heard of these things but dared not brave the frown of a popular and flourishing church organization, will then be set free and begin to knock and inquire. But while we shall be glad to greet them and to help them in every way in our power, we believe that they will not be recognized of the Lord as a part of the Bride. It is not for us to judge, however; we understand this to be the teaching of His word, but will wait for him to tell them that they are a part of the "great company" and not of the "little flock" to whom "it is the Father's good pleasure to give...the kingdom."
In different churches there are dear saints of God – consecrated to Him – sanctified yet ignorant of his presence, the harvest, etc. They are out of harmony with the spirit of the world, and the money influence which rules the church, but do not yet hear the voice of the Lord saying, "Come out of her my people that ye be not partakers of her sins and receive not of her plagues." Such will, we believe, be brought to recognize the Lord's presence, and that the "harvest" or separating time has come, before the door closes and it will test their consecration, and all who are fully consecrated will follow the voice of the Shepherd and come out.
To those who are seeking to sacrifice all, we would suggest that the spreading of this light and these truths which God has given us, is the important work of these times. When God gives light it is not to be put under a bushel – not to be hid in your own heart for fear, or for any other cause; it is given you that you may let it shine. Now, "pray ye the Lord of the harvest that he will send forth laborers into his harvest" – pray him to send you to tell the glad and cheering tidings to others of his dear ones who as yet know it not. Then realizing that he heareth us and is willing to let us do our little part with him, go forward day by day doing with your might what your hand finds to do, and you will doubtless find your prayer richly and abundantly answered.
Thus while looking forward to the future glory, you will also enjoy present privileges of suffering and self-denial as a member of His body, for other fellow members. O, how much work there is in this direction, how much opportunity for all who will lay aside all unnecessary earthly hindrances.
Our celebration of the death of "Christ our Passover" on its anniversary, the 14th of April, announced in last paper, was, as the occasion has always been, a "blessed season:" a time for remembering our Lord's agony for our sins, and also of our "redemption through His blood." As we looked at the acceptableness of our ransom we realized the completeness of our forgiveness, and said with Paul: If God be for us who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. [God by his own arrangement has purged us of sin – who shall say it was not fully and properly done?] Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died. [Who says we are yet sinners? Let him remember who it was that paid our debt – it was Christ, and surely his was an acceptable sacrifice.] (Rom. 8:31-34.)
Seeing our justification, we reflected on what Paul said to all justified persons: "I beseech you brethren by the mercies of God [His daily mercies and especially his mercy in providing Jesus as your ransom and thus justifying you] that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, your reasonable service." We looked at the significance of the memorials of his death which Jesus had provided – the bread and the wine – and found that they taught the same lesson – consecration and sacrifice. First the body was broken and the blood shed for our sin – to justify us – then the bread (truth – "I am the truth") is offered us to give strength for the sacrifice which we are asked to make. God first gives the exceeding great and precious promises of becoming joint heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord to the "Divine nature" and kingdom, and then tells us how we may claim and attain those promises, viz: "If so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." Rom. 8:17. This is all expressed [R226 : page 6] in the symbol, as Jesus first handed the "bread," and after supper the "cup" (wine), so during this age to all that come to him as disciples he offers first the nourishment and preparation of truth, and when they have eaten it and discerned the prize of their high calling, he offers them the cup of – death. Wine is a symbol of two things – first, in appearance it is like blood, and is called "the blood of grapes," in this way it symbolizes death; second, it symbolizes the spirit, the effect being to cheer, refresh and enliven.
When we have been enlightened and strengthened by the heavenly food, Jesus passes us each the cup, saying, "Drink ye all of it" – drink unto my death – take up your cross and follow me, and at the same time you will be drinking unto my spirit and have a joy and refreshing which the world can neither give nor take away – and finally with me, inherit all things.
We remembered the two disciples who had asked Jesus about their positions in his throne, to whom he answered, "Ye know not what ye ask. Are you able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, [death – "Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me."] and to be baptized with the baptism that I shall be baptized with" – death? ["I have a baptism to be baptized with" – water was its symbol – "and how am I straightened until it be accomplished."] The disciples answered him, "We are able," and he said "Ye shall indeed." So we have been begotten to the hope of sitting with him in his throne, and how his words apply to us: "Are you able to drink of my cup?" We asked ourselves, are we willing to share the sufferings as well as the glory? Then we said – Lord by thy word we know that we may have "Grace to help in time of need;" and that "Thy grace is sufficient for us." We have given our all to Thee – "Work in us both to will and to do of thy good pleasure." Thus having his strength made perfect in our weakness – we are able. Amen.
Brother A. D. Jones reports a very interesting and profitable meeting at Newark, New Jersey, among the friends there and some from neighboring towns, with whom he celebrated "Our Passover" – between fifty and sixty taking part.
A number of letters received seem to indicate that the occasion was very generally celebrated among the scattered "twos and threes" "of this way." We presume that it was celebrated in about twenty places. All who wrote expressed the feeling of solemnity and appropriateness, attaching to the celebration on the anniversary, rather than at any other time.
One or two brethren questioned the date announced – suggesting that by the almanac it would fall on the 12th instead of the 14th of April. To these we reply that the calendars in most almanacs are arranged upon astronomical calculations and are seldom exactly in harmony with the Jewish methods, which seem to be based on the eyesight. Some almanacs publish the Jewish calendar, and we used it in ascertaining when the "14th day of the first month," Jewish time, would come.
The moon is used to symbolize The Law or Jewish nation, which reached its full at the time of Jesus' presence, but began to wane when he gave them up and died. The moon was at its full on the 14th of April and began to wane; this seems to agree with the Jewish calendars and therefore we observed that time.
One sister wrote expressing disapproval, and asks, Why not go back to the Law in everything as well as [R226 : page 7] in keeping the Passover? Our sister is in haste; we did not suggest the observance of the Passover as instituted by The Law, but the observance of "The Lord's Supper" instead of it. Nor did we suggest this as a law, believing that "Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to every one that believeth." (Rom. 10:4, and 7:6). But who will say that we may not celebrate the death of our Lamb on the anniversary, for, "as often as ye do this, ye do show forth the Lord's death."
We are in receipt of information relative to some remarkable cures being performed in answer to prayers of faith in different sections of the country, among others, one recently received refers to several such cures at "Pink Cottage" Faith Cure. The writer (a brother) inquires our view of these cures – are they of God, or by Satan's power? We answer: "He that hath the power of death, that is the devil," very seldom uses it to restore life and health, and never, we think, in answer to the earnest prayers of God's children. Unquestionably then we would regard every case of curing in which the instruments are the prayers of saints, as being of God.
Many have been led to question whether the power were of God, because many of those thus used are wonderfully in the dark regarding God's plan, the time of "harvest" and the presence of the Lord, but to thus judge would be much like the disciples, who said to Jesus: "We found one casting out devils in thy name and we forbade him because he followed not with us." But Jesus answered them, "Forbid him not, for he that is not against us is for us." Luke 9:50.
We must learn that in the school of Christ, there are various classes, and the exercises and instruction of each is under the direction of the principal teacher, Christ, who will lead each class as it may be able and willing to advance.
Seeing these classes we should earnestly desire the best gifts – the higher class, for though it be honorable to be used of the Lord in opening blind natural eyes, it is more honorable to be used in giving the spiritual sight and insight into God's word and plan and love. It is grand indeed to be an instrument in restoring and perfecting the old human body, but it is yet more grand to be used in building up and perfecting the new nature – showing them how they may sacrifice the human and obtain a divine nature and form. Both branches of service are well pleasing to God. Choose which you think the "most excellent," but "forbid no man because he follows not with us."
It is a little remarkable that very few of those who are used thus of the Lord in physical healing, are in any way identified with the nominal church; and they are generally out of all harmony and sympathy with its degenerated worldliness and faithlessness.
In this connection we might add that we have been agreeably surprised within the last six months to learn by meeting with some, and hearing from others, that in many cities and towns little companies of men and women meet regularly for the study of God's word. Though not so fully instructed in the plan of God and the times in which we live and the "harvest" separating, as we are, yet they have felt the cold deadness of the nominal church; they have felt that in it they were starving for "meat in due season," while the under shepherds acted like hirelings whose own the sheep are not, and preached to the "itching ears" of largely unconverted congregations.
These sheep are gathering in little bands to have the "chief Shepherd" himself feed them. Thus already consecrated and following his leadings, they are already out of Babylon and in this respect are in advance of some who have had more knowledge. These, so far as we have met them, seemed prepared for the very things we had to present – the presence of the Reaper and the "harvest" work of separation now going on. Among such we are finding many of the faith-prayer-cure people.
In this connection, we are reminded of the prophecy by Joel which Peter quoted at Pentecost, viz: "It shall come to pass in the last days saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit and they shall prophesy."
Few perhaps have noted the double character of this prophecy, that one part relates to the servants and handmaidens [The literal rendering of the Greek here would be male and female slaves – bounden persons – those who are bound to the Lord by a covenant.] and the other part of the same prophecy relates to all flesh: and again, one part is to take place in certain days [Gospel days] and the other part is to be fulfilled after those days.
By referring to the prophecy (Joel 2:28,29) you will see this distinction much more clearly. This prophecy began to have its fulfillment at Pentecost, where the servants and handmaids began to prophesy (or instruct) and all through this age it has continued to be so, and those who partake of the Spirit of truth are particularly the channels through whom truth and knowledge flows. As Jesus had said: "When he the Spirit of truth is come he shall guide you into all truth." [R227 : page 7]
A further part of it will not have its fulfillment until the little flock is complete – the sacrifice over and the full atonement price paid for all men. Then, the whole world of mankind will be no longer treated as sinners, but as forgiven human sons. [For remember that as the Bride of Adam was a sharer in the fall and curse, so the Bride of Christ is permitted to share in the redemption sacrifice, and blessing of all mankind.]
God usually does things gradually and we regard these powers of faith now being given to some, as a sort of preparation for the giving of such power to any one and every one who will use it – "all flesh."
We doubt not that in this way, or in some such way, the healing of human ills will be performed during the Millennial age; a way which would [R227 : page 8] seem too, to show God's special favor and power, and teach men to exercise faith in Him.
The Spirit of God (God's power) operates differently at different times and for different works. Through the Prophets upon whom it came, its effects were to give utterance to truths not understood. During the Gospel Age, its object is to give us evidence through the Word, of our call to be spiritual beings like unto Christ's glorious body – to be his Bride; causing us to understand "what is the fellowship of the mystery which from the beginning of the world hath been hid;" (the sharing of the body with the Head both in the sufferings of this Gospel Age and also in the glory to follow) – "This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the church." Eph. 3:9, & 5:32. And when this mysterious work of the present age is ended and the Bride of Christ (and also the "great company" – "the virgins, her companions which follow her,") completed, then the Spirit is to do another and still different work. Being poured out "upon all flesh" it will lead the world to know of their justification as men; they shall dream dreams and see visions and prophesy (teach). They will come to understand the truths of God, and His plan concerning them – their restitution to the perfection of humanity. And as already suggested, we doubt not, that the healing of earth's woes and pains will then be done in answer to prayers of faith; thus tending to bring the world into union, harmony and love with their Creator. In this work of restoration, the Bride will have some important part – perhaps as yet, not fully understood – for the Spirit and the Bride will give the invitation to "come" and then they that hear will say "come," until all who will may come to the fountain of life and drink freely and forever of life to which they are justified by the death of Christ.
We think then, that these healings are probably a beginning of the Millennial blessings to mankind, and that they will rather increase – that they will be mostly among the "poor of this world rich in faith," and probably after this fall, will only be granted through those who are outside of the nominal church; thus giving additional evidence that she is no longer recognized of God, and that those within her are "partakers of her sins" (Rev. 18:4) and cannot please him.
QUESTION. I was much interested in the article, "The Resurrection," in last paper, and would like to enquire – when we read of the resurrection of the Prophets and Saints and those that fear God's name small and great, (Rev. 11:18.) are we to conclude that these are the orders Paul mentions in 1 Cor. 15:23, "Every man in his own order" – or rank? If so, does the mention of the prophets first, imply that they constitute "The first resurrection?"
If it meant first in point of time then Jesus was not the beginning of the first resurrection (as declared, Acts 26:23.) for the prophets had raised the dead and so had Jesus. [Lazarus was dead for a longer time than Jesus]. But, none of these were raised spiritual bodies, Jesus being the first of that order and all others who are raised in his likeness – spiritual, immortal beings – are sharers in the chief – most excellent – or first resurrection. It does not follow then that because mentioned or raised first, that the prophets would be in the first resurrection.
QUES. Bro. Russell: How do you interpret Phil. 4:3. "I entreat thee with me in the gospel...whose names are in the book of life." And Acts 1:14: "All continued with one accord in prayer and supplication with the women." And 1 Cor. 11:5: "Every woman that prayeth or prophesieth (teaches)?"
ANS. We understand these scriptures to teach, that women did a work in the apostles' days which was approved and appreciated by them and by the Lord. Yet we believe that women usually spoke only at the smaller gatherings, and that when Paul said "Let the women keep silence in the [congregations,] he probably had reference to the public gatherings, at which it was the custom to have more or less of a debate. In these public debatings, Paul thought a woman's voice would be out of place, and this is the opinion of most thinking men and women to-day, though we think that it has by many been carried to an extreme, forbidding them to pray or teach on any occasion, even in more private assemblies of christians, and this we regard as an error.
God has arranged that the man and woman are representative of Christ and his Bride the church, and this rule by which the husband is the head of the wife is always maintained in scriptures. (Though there are exceptions to the rule in nature.) And probably this is one reason, that men have always been given the more active and public work of the ministry and women more the work of assisting and more private teaching, yet equally as acceptable to God. So Christ is the active agent in carrying out his own plan. He is the great minister of all, and we as His church do a lesser part and yet an acceptable part, well pleasing to God.
QUES. Bro. Russell: Please explain 2 Cor. 6:17.
ANS. Paul makes a quotation from the Old Testament to support his teaching of the preceding verses, that Christians should be separate from unbelievers. We are to be a temple of God; and what association is proper between God's Temple and Idols? None. The quotation is as follows: "I will dwell among them and walk among them, and I will be their God and they shall be to me a people – Depart from the midst of them and be ye separated, and touch not the impure; and I will receive you, and will be to you for a Father, and you shall be to me for sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
In person we are to be separate from sin – pure – clean in mind (and in body, for cleanliness of person is almost always associated with purity of thought. Sometimes the impure within, will clothe and cleanse the outward form to purity; but the pure within, clothing the outward form in filth can scarce be imagined), and we are to live separate from sinners. (See 1 Cor. 5:10.)
But we think that the pith of the apostle's reasoning is directed against association with false religious systems. Paganism claimed to be a religion then, and there was danger that Christians should come to look with favor upon moral pagans and treat them as though they were Christians and thus countenance their evils. In a word, whatever God condemns and disapproves we are to condemn and discountenance both in word and in deed – not even to encourage or countenance with our presence.
The circumstances are different now from then, here Paganism does not require resistance, but it has its equivalent in modern "Spiritualism," "Freelovism" and "Infidelity." And more dangerous because associated with more light, are the worldly practices and customs of the nominal church of Christ to-day, which constitute her the Babylon of God's word. As we have already seen there is a message to us, to leave Babylon and thus discountenance the worldly corruptions which have of late years been brought into God's Temple as idols to distract and divide the worshiper's attention. Therefore, "Come out of her my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and receive not of her plagues." And this voice must be obeyed at any cost, or you become one of the idol worshipers. "What agreement hath the temple of God with idols?"
In our last paper we had an article headed "1,000 Preachers Wanted," which brought many good responses and we trust started some into the Vineyard who had been anxiously looking for some way in which they could give their time to teaching and preaching from house to house; making known to their fellow Christians "The good word of God," the gospel of which Paul was not ashamed. This was the meaning we wished to convey: if there are others such, we will be glad to hear from them and we continue to such the same offer.
But some seem to have misapprehended us and thought we wanted everybody – regular canvassers and book agents, and called the attention of their friends to it as a nice chance to obtain some employment, etc. This is a misapprehension of our proposition. We want laborers (and so does the Lord) who will be working for heavenly wages, rather than for the price of a paper or book, be that ever so needful. No, we want those only who can explain the paper and book and plan, who as they go will preach, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is at hand, repent ye." (Matt. 3:2).
DR. CHALMERS beautifully said: "The little I have seen in the world and known of the history of mankind, teaches me to look at their errors in sorrow, and not in anger. When I take the history of one poor heart, that has sinned and suffered, and represent to myself the struggles and temptations it has passed through – the brief pulsations of joy; the tears of regret; the feebleness of purpose; the scorn of the world that has little charity; the desolation of the soul's sanctuary, and threatening voices within; health gone; happiness gone – I would fain leave the erring soul of my fellow-man with him from whose hands it came."
WHAT pleases only for the moment, whether poetry, or oratory, or policy, will die with the moment. What looks beyond the moment will live beyond the moment. What speaks to the intelligent few will at last make a conquest of the unintelligent many; what speaks only to the unintelligent many will never reach the intelligent few, and will soon be forgotten by the unintelligent many also.– Dean Stanley.
This tract we hope will be acceptable to you all. We hope that its general distribution will be productive of good results and that it may be used of the Lord as an eye salve to many to enable them to see "the exceeding riches of His grace in His loving kindness toward us."
And for you, brethren, we pray that the viewing of the narrow way to life, may bless you, and that "The Father of Glory may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him (that) the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; ye may know, what is the hope of his calling; and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the Saints; and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us." Eph. 1:17.
We published very large editions of Tracts 1,2,3, and 4, but not enough for the demand. The supply is about exhausted. We are having them prepared again however, and next time will issue them all together with some additional matter under one cover. But we cannot expect this before July or August.
LOVE to Christ smooths the path of duty, and wings the feet to travel it; it is the bow which impels the arrow of obedience; it is the mainspring moving the wheels of duty; it is the strong arm tugging the oar of diligence. Love is the marrow of the bones of fidelity, the blood in the veins of piety, the sinews of spiritual strength; yea, the life of sincere devotion. He that hath love can no more be motionless than the aspen in the gale, the sear leaf in the hurricane, or the spray in the tempest. As well may hearts cease to beat, as love to labor. Love is instinct with activity, it cannot be idle; it is full of energy, it cannot content itself with littles; it is the well-spring of heroism, and great deeds are the gushings of its fountain; it is a giant – it heapeth mountains upon mountains, and thinks the pile but little; it is a mighty mystery, for it changes bitter into sweet; it calls death life, and life death; and it makes pain less painful than enjoyment.– Spurgeon.
ROME AND JERUSALEM. – The Roman Church maintains a steady attention to the Holy Land. At Jattha they have erected a new hospital, they have established a branch nunnery at Ramleh, and a nunnery and schools at Bethlehem. It would appear that the Franciscans have a new establishment at Emmaus, in addition to the large hospice at Jerusalem. On the Mount of Olives a grand sanctuary and an extensive nunnery have been erected and endowed by the Princess de la Tour d'Auvergne, who, with great devotion, spent several years on the spot, in order personally to superintend the work.
THE block of granite which was an obstacle in the pathway of the weak, becomes a stepping-stone in the pathway of the strong.– Carlyle.