The Editor recognizes a responsibility to the Master, relative to what shall appear in these columns, which he can not and does not cast aside; yet he should not be understood as endorsing every expression of correspondents, or of articles selected from other periodicals.
TERMS: – Fifty cents a year, postage prepaid. You may send paper-money or three cent stamps to the amount of two dollars by mail at our risk. Larger amounts by Check, P.O. Money Order or Registered Letter, payable to C. T. RUSSELL.
Foreign Postage being higher, our terms to foreign subscribers will be sixty-five cents a year. Please send us no foreign money or postage stamps, as we can make no use of them. Remittances may be made by Postal Money Orders.
Inasmuch as this number of ZION'S WATCH TOWER will go to each of the ninety thousand Sunday School Superintendents of all denominations in the United States, it is proper for us to introduce our paper to them specially.
The special mission of ZION'S WATCH TOWER is to clearly and forcibly elucidate and present truth on all religious topics, without fear or favor of any except our heavenly Master. It is strictly unsectarian and follows no formulated creed. Its method – comparing Scripture with Scripture, we believe to be the correct one for the elucidation of truth. Thus getting God's own explanation of His will and plan, we realize that
"God is his own interpreter,
And He will make it plain."
While desirous of the esteem and fellowship of every child of God and loath to offend any, we yet stand ready to offend all, if a clear and forcible presentation of any Scriptural teaching shall have that effect. We discuss all Bible doctrines, not shunning the most abstruse – an uncommon thing among Christian journals. This feature makes our paper valuable to Sunday School Superintendents and Bible teachers, and advanced Bible scholars, in this day when infidelity is challenging nearly every doctrine held by the churches. Surely there never was a time when an open and fearless examination of every point of doctrine was so much more needed than practiced. An intelligent understanding of Scripture was never more necessary than now.
We desire to assist in this great work, and with others to raise up the standard of truth against error in every form. We make no claim to defend every theory and creed of Christendom – this would be impossible, since many of them contradict each other – but we endeavor to draw direct from Scripture its uncolored and unbiased teaching on all questions. Believing that the true basis of Christian Union is a correct understanding of God's Word, rather than an ignoring of differences, we seek for this.
"The Jewish nation, though under a cloud, will eventually resume their ancient territory, which is so evidently kept waiting for them. The prophecies are clear as day on two points: That the Jews are to repossess Palestine, and indeed, to rule from Lebanon to Euphrates; and that this event is to be the first of a great series of changes leading to a vast improvement in the condition of poor suffering mankind and of creation in general. Now, we have here in prospect a glorious event as sure as the sun will rise to-morrow. The only difference is that the sun will rise at a certain hour, and the Jews will occupy Syria and resume their national glory at an uncertain day. No doubt it is the foible of mankind to assume that an uncertain date must be a distant one. But that is unreasonable. Surely it is the duty of wise and sober men to watch precursory signs and lend their humble cooperation, should so great a privilege be accorded to us.
"This sudden persecution of the Jews in the very nation where they are most numerous – may it not be a precursory sign, and a reminder from Providence that their abiding city is not in European Tartary? I almost think some such reminder was needed; for when I was a boy, the pious Jews still longed for the Holy Land. They prayed, like Daniel, with their windows open toward Jerusalem.
Yet now that the broken and impoverished Saracen would cede them territory at one-tenth of its agricultural and commercial value, a cold indifference seems to have come over them. I often wonder at this change of sentiment about so great a matter, and in so short a period, comparatively speaking, and puzzle myself, as to the reason.
Two solutions occur to me. 1. Dispersed in various nations, whose average inhabitants are inferior in intelligence and forethought to themselves, they thrive as individual aliens more than they may think so great a multitude of Jews could thrive in a land of their own, where blockheads would be scarce. 2. They have for centuries contracted their abilities to a limited number of peaceful arts and trades; they may distrust their power to diversify their abilities, and be suddenly a complete nation, with soldiers, sailors, merchants, husbandmen, as well as financiers and artists.
But it is now proved that sojourning among inferior nations has more drawbacks than living at home. True, the Russian yokel has for years been selling to the Jews his summer labor in winter, and at a heavy discount; but the improvident Russians have turned like wild beasts upon them, and outwitted lawfully, have massacred them contrary to law. Palestine can be colonized effectually from Russia alone, where there are three millions of Jews trembling for life and property; and the rest would follow. As to the second objection, history is a looking-glass at our backs. Whatever Jews have done Jews may do. They are a people [R400 : page 1] of genius; and genius is not confined by nature, but by will, by habit or by accident. What have these people tried and failed in? Warriors, writers, builders, merchants, lawgivers, husbandmen; and supreme in all! In this history repeats itself.
"They shall be great in the arts of peace and war, and their enemies melt away before them like snow off a dyke. Should they seem to require help from any other nation at starting, blessed will be the nation that proffers it; and the nation that persecutes them will be made an example of in some way or other. Therefore, if by any chance this recent outrage should decide the Jewish leaders to colonize Palestine from Russia, let us freely offer ships, seamen, money – whatever we are asked for. It will be a better national investment than Egyptian, Brazilian or Peruvian bonds."
Thus we see that from every quarter thoughtful minds are beginning to note the evidences of another great dispensational change. It is to be a gradual change from the Gospel Age into the Millennial Age. The former closes with a night, the latter commences as a dawning day. It is the day foretold by prophets when the earth and groaning creation shall be blessed and liberated from the effects of sin-blight, and death. It is the day in which "the Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings" – when the great physician shall heal and revive sin-bitten humanity. In him shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
"A thousand years, Earth's coming glory,
'Tis the glad time so long foretold;
'Tis the glad day of promise given,
Prophets foresaw in times of old."
The Gospel Age ends, not because it has failed, but because it has accomplished its object. It's object was to call out, select and perfect a small fragment of Earth's people – a "little flock" of overcomers of the world, accounted worthy to be exalted to a spiritual plane of existence and to share as the Bride of the Lamb of God, in his glorious work of blessing mankind in general during the incoming age.
Fleshly Israel was cast off from all special favor of God when this age began, and Paul assures us that when the work of selecting the spiritual church is complete, God's favor will again cover them as a people. (See Rom. 11:25-32.) The fact that favor is now beginning to come to them, is therefore an incidental proof of our position – that we are in the lapping time of the two ages.
Encouraging reports of the progress of truth come to us from every quarter. Infidels and backsliders, and wholly consecrated saints are studying the Bible more than ever before, to see if these things in which we rejoice are the teachings of the Word of God, and are coming to say of the beauty and grandeur of God's plan and word, as the Queen of Sheba said of Solomon – The half had not been told me. No, dear friends, we do not pretend to have told you half of the goodness and love and power of our infinite Father, the God of all grace. We merely try to point you to the Word as the inexhaustible fountain of truth and knowledge, that together we might be able to some extent, to comprehend with all saints, the love of God which passeth knowledge. The more of our Father's character we see, the more we feel like exclaiming with Paul, "O, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God."
And the more we come to appreciate God, and His Word and plan, the more our hearts burn with a desire to make it known to all men; especially to those dear children of our Father, who are yet as we ourselves once were, blinded by ignorance of the true teachings of His Word, and dwarfed and fettered by the traditions of men, the creeds and theories of the sects. Praise God that the light is shining more and more, and others as well as we are being blessed by it.
As we each come to see the truth, if it has its legitimate and intended effect upon our hearts and lives, it will be our delight to use all possible effort in making known the glad tidings to others: Blessed is that servant whom his Lord when he cometh shall find giving meat in due season to the household. (Matt. 24:45,46.) We should be specially interested in making it known to every consecrated child of God, many of whom are almost starved. You may have for the asking abundance of reading matter for free distribution.
A very large edition of this issue has been sent out in hope of awakening thinking Christians from the lethargy and worldliness which has so largely overspread Christendom. The topics presented will be new to many of them, and we trust that all thoroughly consecrated readers will test it, and decide on its truthfulness, not by their prejudices, not by any sectarian creed, but by the Word of God, the only proper and infallible test; remembering, that the cause of divisions or sects is, that each party defends its creed, instead of laying aside tradition or accepting the harmonious testimony of Scripture.
We subjoin a few of the many letters constantly coming to hand, that you may know of the deep interest being felt among thinking Christians.
MY DEAR SIR – Permit me, though a stranger, to assure you that I can never feel sufficiently thankful that out of the thousands of copies of your book, "Food for Thinking Christians," distributed in this town, a copy fell into my hands; apparently it was the merest accident; but really I regard it as a direct providence. It has thrown light upon subjects which have perplexed me for years, and has made me feel more than ever what a glorious book the Bible is, how worthy of our profoundest study. At the same time, I came from the study of your book with the conviction that a very large proportion of the theology of our churches and schools is the merest scraps of human notions, and that our huge systems of theology, upon the study of which some of us have spent so many laborious years – only to be the worse confused and perplexed – are infinitely more the work of mistaken men, than the inspiration of the allwise God.
However I may differ from the book in a few minor details, I found the main argument to be resistless, commending itself to both my head and my heart. Again let me thank you on my own behalf for the good I have received.
I find at the close of it you make an offer to send copies to any who have reason to believe they can make a good use of them. In my church and congregation there is a number of intelligent persons who are interested in the second coming, and who would be only too glad to read your book. I could distribute seventy copies with advantage. You say, "Ask and ye shall receive." I have faith in your generosity. Believe me to remain
GENTLEMEN – Having read with the most profound interest your publication entitled, "Food for Thinking Christians," and being fairly dazzled by the wonderful light it reveals on the great subject, I find myself thirsting for more knowledge from this seemingly inspired pen.
With reference to the first-named book, permit me to say that I have never yet read or heard anything equal to that little volume in its influence upon my heart and life; and, to my mind, it answers most grandly and conclusively the great question, "Is life worth living?" Such views as it sets forth are bound to find response in the minds and hearts of all unbiased thinking Christians, for they bear the stamp of something greater than mere human conception. I only wish we could hear it from the pulpits; but I think this must shortly follow. It is good seed, and in its "due time" will come forth.
"ZION'S WATCH TOWER" – My dear good friends: – Your kind favor, "Food for Thinking Christians," reached me in due time. To say that it is an exceeding welcome gift but feebly expresses my appreciation and gratitude. I have learned what I never knew before, and it has brought to me such a flood of light that I am amazed at the grandeur of the scheme and plan of redemption. To allow the phrase, I have literally devoured it, and my soul is ravished with the indescribable excellency and magnitude of God's plan of salvation. Oh, how dull and blunted does now appear the common method of Christian instruction. Who can read these things and longer doubt and waver about the truth, beauty and inspiration of the Bible, or the manner in which its glorious truths should be inculcated and demonstrated. I trust and believe that the great Author of the Word will prosper and bless you abundantly. Whatever else you have of like nature for grateful hearts I trust you will favor your present correspondent with.
DEAR BRO. – The publication entitled "Food for Thinking Christians," was duly received a few weeks ago, and I have carefully distributed the greater portion of them among such as would appreciate such teachings; and they all speak volumes of praise. It is indeed food for Christians – rich food. Would to God we could only have the whole world read and fully understand. May God bless the work, and may the blessed seed sown sink deep in each and every heart, and bear much fruit to the honor and glory of God.
MY DEAR BROTHER – I have long felt a desire for some communication in reference to those blessed matters that make us one in our Supreme Head. I have been made better acquainted with the way of life recently. The new food has revived my slumbering spirit and given me a keener desire for a knowledge of the Word of God, and better understanding of his ways and dealings. I have been so absorbed with these delightful matters that the things of this present life sink into comparative insignificance. I can now comprehend the Apostle's exclamation, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are his righteous acts and his ways past tracing out." How privileged and responsible are those who are made watchmen upon the towers of Zion, to give warning, guidance and instruction to those who are seeking and willing to accept truth at all hazards; pointing out to us the dangerous reefs and rocks, and the hidden shoals and sandbars.
O that all would search for and receive present truth, with all its joyful satisfaction and the comforting assurances and instructions constantly afforded – the near or full completion of the Body of Christ to spread universally the "good tidings of great joy;" the presence of the glorious Head of the Church, the grand parousia, the returning. Blessed thought, can anything be more exhilarating than these and other kindred blessed assurances, and the ineffable glory of the whole church which is to follow. Haste, haste, thou blessed time of glory, when the anointed one shall reign and all powers but his shall end....
Because of the shortness of human life, we act quickly ourselves and expect others to act so, and we can scarcely avoid carrying the same thought with us when we go to the investigation of God's Word.
We read – "Yet a little while, and He that shall come, will come." Heb. 10:37, We think, as we look back at the eighteen centuries which have elapsed since our Lord's first advent, that it is not a "little while." No, to us it is a long while. Our ideas of long and short periods are drawn from our experience. When you were a child you thought as a child; you impatiently looked at an hour as a long time, and a year seemed an age if it intervened between you and some coveted object or enjoyment. Since you have grown to manhood or womanhood years are short; how quickly they fly. Your plans and arrangements reach out and embrace numbers of them.
We see then that a long time and a "little while" are accommodative terms, to be understood in harmony with the standpoint of the one using them. When Paul used these words he was God's mouthpiece, therefore the word is God's – and it is from His standpoint, in whose sight "a thousand years are but as yesterday," and "as a watch in the night." If we remember that He is from everlasting to everlasting, we can readily see, that eighteen hundred years are but "a little while" to Him. In His sight it is only "a little while" since He created Adam. Let us not be so impatient; there is plenty of time in eternity.
If we can get this standpoint of time – God's standpoint – it will assist us to see how "the Lord is not slack concerning His promises." When God promised Eve that her seed should bruise the serpent's head, she doubtless supposed that God's promise had failed when one of her sons was slain and the other had become a branded murderer; and when Seth was born, as his name indicates, she thought him the promised seed. She came to death, and yet saw not God's promise fulfilled. Ages rolled on, generations came and went, Moses and Israel read the promise, but saw no fulfillment. Had it failed? No, four thousand years after Jesus appeared on earth; suffered, died, arose, ascended. Was the promise fulfilled? No, only in part. Satan's head (vital part) is not yet crushed; he rears it higher than ever; his control is greater perhaps than ever before. Does God's promise mean less than it says? No, give Him more time; it is only "a little while" since he promised, and "in due time" it will all be fulfilled. Because He saw that we would wonder whether He is "slack concerning His promises;" and because Jesus counts us His friends ("I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." Jno. 15:15), therefore He kindly gives us through Paul, a clue as to how and when this promise will be fulfilled. Rom. 16:20, reads: "The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly."
But God has not forgotten his promise; He will perform, but when? "Shortly." Ah, God's "little while" again. But why say under your feet? What had the Christians at Rome to do with bruising Satan? Had God's Word not said the seed should do it? And was not Christ this seed? Yes, Jesus is the head over this seed, but we are members of the body under this head, as we read: "The God of our Lord Jesus Christ...gave Him to be the head over all things to the Church, which is His body." Eph. 1:17-22. He is the head...that in all things He might have the pre-eminence. Col. 1:18.
Satan was permitted to bruise Jesus, the head. "He was bruised for our iniquity." He was made perfect through suffering, and we, the members of the body, must suffer with Him if we would be made perfect. We must "fill up the measure of the afflictions of Christ." The head suffered most, but we must be sharers of the suffering, if we would be glorified together.
Therefore, "count it all joy," and "think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that when ("a little while," "shortly") His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad, also, with exceeding joy." 1 Pet. 4:12,13. Yes, we shall share in the "glory that shall follow," and part of that glory shall be to crush the serpent. Now he bruises our heel. (Ours are not vital wounds, they will all heal.) We shall crush his head (a vital part, indicating the utter extinction of evil – when death shall be destroyed, and "him that hath the power of death, that is the devil.") As this has required time for its accomplishment, so have almost all the promises of God. Take
God had promised and sworn to Abraham that his seed should be as the sand of the sea – innumerable – and Abraham believed it; but as years rolled on he and Sarah thought it a long time. They were getting old, and yet had no child. Finally, they concluded to help God to fulfill his promise. How many Christians want to FORCE a construction on prophecy, in order to help God out of a supposed dilemma, and help him to fulfill his word. Let us rather wait on the Lord.
"God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain."
Yes, they would help God to keep his word, and as Sarah was too old, her maid must bear the promised seed. This was a human way to fulfill, but God waited fifteen years until they were both old, so that both Abraham and Sarah laughed when they were told that they should yet have a son Isaac. "After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure my lord, being old also?" But the answer was: "Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the time APPOINTED... Sarah shall have a son."
O, that we could learn that –
"It may not be my time,
It may not be thy time,
And yet in His own time,
The Lord will perform."
"I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee." "And I will give unto thee and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession."
But Paul shows us that there was a deeper meaning than the surface promise couched in the utterances of God to the seed of Abraham. Not only the fleshly children, but the children of faith have a share.
"Now, to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds as of many; but as of one, 'And to thy seed' – which is Christ."...And if ye be Christ's (if you have been "baptised into Christ, put on Christ," become "members of His body," if ye be the antitypical bride of the Lamb"), then (and only then, no other way), are ye Abraham's SEED and HEIRS; according to promise." Gal. 3:14 and 29. Jesus individually is the heir of all, and we by nature have no claims of heirship, but by our union (marriage) with Him we become heirs – joint-heirs (united) with Jesus Christ our Lord or husband.
Here again we realize that God's "little while" is to man a great while; but surely and steadily the members of the body of Christ are being developed, and in due time they will be united to their Head, and with Him glorified – constituting in the complete sense "the seed" – and then, never fully until then, can it be true of Abraham and his seed: – "In thee shall all nations be blessed." (Gal. 3:8.) Then "A king shall reign in righteousness and princes shall rule in judgment and under that righteous reign and rule "all the families of the earth shall be blessed," for then "the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth." But there, are
James shows that these promises lacked fulfillment. Acts 15:16. After showing the object of the Gospel age to be the taking out of the Gentiles, a people for His name – the Bride – His body, the seed, after recounting this, James says: "To this agree the words of the prophets [or this is in harmony with prophecy."] "As it is written, 'After this' [after the seed is taken from among the Gentiles] 'I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David which is fallen down, and I will build again the ruins thereof.'" Yes, God has good things in reserve for his ancient people, and as Paul says, though they were "blinded" and "cut off" from the first position of heirs of those promises, yet, "God hath not cast away His people whom He foreknew." "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel." How long, Paul? "Until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in." [That is, until the entire Church, which James says God is taking out of the Gentiles, have all been taken out and gathered into full sonship, as the seed of promise.] And if they are blinded only until that time, it is evident that at that time the blindness will be removed. But Paul continues, "and so all Israel shall be saved," [not saved eternally as individuals, but saved – rescued nationally – brought back to power and grandeur.] But Paul goes to the prophets as his authority. "As it is written, there shall come out of Zion the Deliverer [the seed, the Christ, head and body], and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob [fleshly Israel] for this is my covenant unto them." Paul then gives us his reasons for speaking so confidently, "For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." God's giving us the high calling, and the promises on the higher plane, does not interfere with or hinder His keeping His promise to the fleshly seed, but all the more guarantees it.
Then he explains how it is that we, who were once Gentiles, had God's mercy and truth revealed to us, when and because natural Israel was blinded; so we obtained mercy through their unbelief; so these have not believed that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. Through whose mercy? Yours, the Church's, when the Church is all taken out and glorified, she is with Christ, her head, her husband, to mercifully and justly rule the world; then Israel shall obtain your mercy. Rom. 11:2-25.
O, that we could realize that every promise of God is sure, in His own due time; it would give us childlike trust and confidence for everything; and not to accept them as all sure is to make God a liar.
Paul, as he looked forward and realized how in due time every jot and tittle should be fulfilled, and saw the greatness and majesty of God's plan, breaks forth in ecstasy and exclaims, "O, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" "Who hath known the mind of the Lord?" [Who knew that God's plan was so comprehensive and full?] And our hearts can say, Amen.
God knows the end from the beginning, and looking at the great clock of the ages, declares to us that the things we so much desire shall be "shortly," "yet a little while," and the glory, power and blessing of the promised Seed will be revealed to all. Let us look at things from his standpoint, and so
"Let the little while between
In its golden light be seen."
When Luther discovered how fully Papacy filled the picture given by Paul in 2 Thes. 2:3-8, and the symbols of Rev. 17, he felt justified by that knowledge in publicly denouncing that system. The knowledge gave him the liberty to thunder the truth of God with all its power against the Vatican. God gave the liberty by giving the knowledge, and Luther would have been unworthy the knowledge and the honor of being the Lord's mouthpiece, had he been too cowardly to speak, though Papacy was the system then recognized and respected by the world.
Knowledge of the truth and law, was the ground of Jesus' liberty in denouncing the doctors of divinity in his day as "blind guides," etc. It was Paul's knowledge of Christ's having made an end of the law, that gave him liberty to announce the end of the necessity of circumcision in the flesh, and that authorized him to say of the Jewish holy days and Sabbaths that they were merely shadows. (Col. 2:17.)
And some wonder at our liberty in speaking of many things similar to the above, viz., that as an organization the nominal Gospel church is rejected of the Lord, as was her type, the Jewish church; that we speak so confidently of the tribulation coming upon her, and apply the words "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and receive not of her plagues"; that we apply some of the symbols of Revelation without a question to her; that we so unhesitatingly and fully accept the exceeding great and precious promises of Glory, Honor, Immortality and Divinity. They wonder that we brethren are not in darkness, as most are, relative to "the day of the Lord" in which we live (1 Thes. 5:4); that we lay any claim to a knowledge of "things to come" which Jesus told us would be an evidence of our being sons, led by the Spirit of God. (John 16:13.)
But the liberty which we exercise is inspired by a knowledge of and belief in the word of God. "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you FREE." (John 8:32.) And as in Luther's and Paul's day, so now those too indolent or too cowardly to express truth which they see, prove both by word and act that they are unworthy of the knowledge, and consequently they are left in darkness. Jesus says, "Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the son of man be ashamed when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." (Mark 8:38.)
'Tis one thing now to read the Bible through,
Another thing to read, to learn and do;
'Tis one thing now to read it with delight,
And quite another thing to read it right.
Some read it with design to learn to read,
But to the subject pay but little heed;
Some read it as their duty once a week,
But no instruction from the Bible seek.
Whilst others read it without common care,
With no regard to how they read nor where.
Some read it as a history to know
How people lived three thousand years ago.
Some read to bring themselves repute,
By showing others how they can dispute;
Whilst others read because their neighbors do,
To see how long 'twill take to read it through.
Some read it for the wonders that are there,
How David killed a lion and a bear;
Whilst others read – or rather in it look,
Because, perhaps, they have no other book.
Some read the blessed Book – they don't know why,
It somehow happens in the way to lie;
Whilst others read it with uncommon care,
But all to find some contradictions there.
One reads with father's specs upon his head,
And sees the thing just as his father did;
Another reads through Campbell or through Scott,
And thinks it means exactly what they thought.
Some read to prove a pre-adopted creed,
Thus understand but little what they read;
And every passage in the book they bend
To make it suit that all important end.
Some people read as I have often thought
To teach the Book instead of being taught.
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, and 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 [R403 : page 3] 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 absolution, the state of the dead in purgatory, etc., can we suppose that he would indorse 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," etc., 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," etc., 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 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.
This has its good features. It shows God's omniscience. This would be our ideal of a great God were it not that it lacks three essential qualities of greatness, viz.: mercy, love, and justice. None of these qualities would be manifested in bringing into the world billions of creatures irrecoverably damned before they were born and mocked with protestations of 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 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 they 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 Brother 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? Then 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?
Well, 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 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 (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, and 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 we fully believe, (vs. 13). 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 whispers 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 specific 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 his conception of God's Love overrides that of His Justice.
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 so, 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 [R404 : page 3] Paul was ashamed of these brethren, but of the doctrines or creeds that have come to be considered the gospel.
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 by Adam? To answer it correctly, first conclude how all lived by Adam. Not spiritual life, was it? Human life and its continuance CONDITIONED on obedience, was it not? Then he (and all represented in him) lost no more than that, and "even so" he (and "all" represented in him) will be made alive by 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 something more, but if any wish to stop there, God has predestinated to let them, but if they have heard of the higher life, and 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." (ver. 48).
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," (verses 8 and 9). 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. 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 [R404 : page 4] 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.
"Unto him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever." Rev. 1:5,6.
"And hast made us unto our God kings and priests; and we shall reign on the earth." Rev. 5:10.
"Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years." Rev. 20:6.
The above scriptures clearly teach that a part, at least, of our work in the future will be to officiate as the priests of God. As the work of a priest is one of intercession and of instruction in righteousness, they clearly prove that the glorious work of evangelization will go on after the resurrection has taken place. The fact that these offices of "king" and "priest" will exist, logically implies that there will be subjects to rule and learners to teach; otherwise the names would be meaningless and the titles an empty sound.
It is held by some that the reign of the saints will consist of a very brief "reign of terror," during which – with Jesus at their head – they will trample their enemies into the dust and utterly destroy them. We thank our dear Lord for a better hope. Our work will not be one of destruction, but of salvation. We shall rule as kings, even with a rod of iron; but the grand object will be to humble the nations, and so fit them for the reception of truth. "For, when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness." Isa. 26:9.
Who that is imbued with the spirit of the Master; who that has but tasted that the Lord is gracious, could desire more agreeable employment than to show forth the praises of our Saviour King, to those sitting in darkness? to bind up the brokenhearted? to proclaim liberty to the captive? to give beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for mourning?
"To tell the old, old story[R405 : page 4]
Of Jesus and His love?"
To fit us for such an exalted and responsible position we require a peculiar training, and we feel warranted in claiming that the trials, temptations and discipline of this present life are for that very purpose.
Many a struggling believer, trying hard to overcome, buffeted by the enemy, tried by friends, weighed down by hereditary weaknesses in self, discouraged and faint, has cried out, from the depths of a loving heart: "Why, O! why this suffering? why this severe chastisement?" Let us glance for a moment at the pathway trod by the Master – our forerunner – and we shall find the answer.
"So, also, Christ glorified not Himself to be made a high priest; but He that said unto Him, Thou art my son...Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that He feared: Though He were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which He suffered, and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him." Heb. 5:5-9.
"For it became Him, for whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. Wherefore in all things it behooveth Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted." Heb. 2:10,17-18.
"For we have not a High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Heb. 4:15,16.
The reason, then, that the Church is called on to fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ is, that all the body, in like manner to the Head, may be trained to perfect sympathy and to perfect obedience through suffering. In this present time, we in all our troubles come to our compassionate High Priest with boldness, realizing that He, having been partaker of flesh and blood, can truly feel for us and pity us; so in the age to come, we, the promised seed of Abraham, through whom all the families of the earth shall be blessed (compare Gen. 12:3; Gal. 3:14,16,29;) shall go forth a royal priesthood, according to the order of Melchisedec, fully prepared to sympathize with the nations, to lead them to the paths of righteousness, and to encourage them in the way of life.
Shall we shrink then from our cross? Shall we seek to put away the bitter cup that is sometimes pressed to our lips? Surely not. 'Tis a loving hand that presents it, 'tis a loving heart (infinitely loving) that sees the need of it. It is but the Master fitting us for His work; training us for the priesthood; teaching us to rule ourselves that we may know how to rule others; opening our eyes to the weakness of our own flesh, that we may have patience with those over whom we shall be given authority. (Luke 19:17,19.)
Courage, then, my Christian brother or sister, seeking with weary step to run the narrow way. Heed not the rugged course; it is all hallowed and sanctified by the blessed feet of the Master. Count every thorn a flower; every sharp rock a milestone, hurrying you onward to the goal. Let every advancing step be a "Nearer to Thee": every hillock in the road an "upward toward heaven." Keep your eye fixed on the prize. Soon – very soon – you may wear the Crown.
"It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with him; if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him."
Some are consecrated and are living sacrifices to business, some to their families, some to the temperance work, some to building up a denominational church or Sunday school, some to ministering to the poor and the sick. Some of these works are good enough in their way, but none of them are the proper consecration for a follower of Jesus.
Our consecration, like that of Jesus, should be to do the will of our Father in Heaven. Jesus says he came not to do his own will, but the will of Him that sent him. (John 6:38.) The fact that you have any choice or preference as to what you shall do, is an evidence in itself, that your will is not dead – that your consecration to God is not complete.
Consecration to a work of our own choosing merely, will never bring us to the great reward. "I beseech you, brethren, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable UNTO GOD." Then, if He sends you into the "temperance work," or into any other work, it will be acceptable as unto the Lord.
If seeking only to do his will it will bring us to His Word much and often, to learn that will, and "He that seeketh findeth." We leave the subject here, merely suggesting that thus seeking, after thus consecrating, some who are now – laboring chiefly for "the meat that perisheth" or Temperance and moral reforms in the world, or for the extension of sectarian church influence, would find directions something like the following:
This is the will of God even YOUR sanctification. (1 Thes. 4:3.) Do good unto all men [in any way] as you have opportunity especially to the household of faith. (Gal. 6:10.) The great harvest field of the Gospel Age is white to harvest. This is the "special" work of the hour, and every one who realizes it fully, will rejoice in the privilege of being numbered among the reapers as well as among the reaped. Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together (Heb. 10:25.) but meet for the purpose of "BUILDING UP YOURSELVES on your most holy faith." (Jude 20.)
Is this true? Orthodoxy says it was Jesus that so loved the world. The Father did not love them; no, he was angry, very angry with them, because Satan was too smart for him [We feel ashamed to have to write such an idea]; but Jesus loved us, and threw himself between us and his angry Father, and thus received the fatal blow; at least it would have been fatal to us, but Jesus being God, could not really die, and so arose when he wished to.
How much better to believe that "God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners [enemies, verse 10] Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8.) "Herein is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 4:10.)
What! the world? the whole world? This would be blessed news indeed, if true. How is it? The nominal church teaches that only those who believe before the second coming of Christ – probably not one in one thousand of the world's inhabitants so far – can be saved. God's Word tells us that through the Abrahamic seed shall "all the families of the earth be blessed." (Gen. 12:3.) What if the promise has not been fulfilled as yet? Can we not wait God's time? Paul tells us that God "will have ALL men to be saved [from the Adamic death] and to come unto a knowledge of the truth." What truth? That Christ Jesus "gave himself a ransom for ALL, to be testified in due time." (1 Tim. 2:4,6.)
This phraseology brings us into conflict with an old theory, viz., Trinitarianism. If that doctrine is true, how could there be any Son to give? A begotten Son, too? Impossible. If these three are one, did God send himself? And how could Jesus say: "My Father is greater than I." (John 14:28.)
Whatsoever is not of faith is sin; and the promises are only to believers. But does it seem reasonable that God so loved the world and yet made provision for only one out of a thousand, allowing the rest to remain in heathenism to perish? The Word says: "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Rom. 10:14.) They could not, but our loving Father has provided a teacher in that glorious Anointed One – Head and body – who is the true Light which lighteth EVERY MAN that cometh into the world." And thus shall all men "come unto a knowledge of the truth." Understanding this, Paul could say: "The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached [R406 : page 4] before the gospel [good news] unto Abraham, saying: "In thee shall all nations be blessed." (Gal. 3:8.)
So-called orthodoxy would paraphrase this sentence thus: Should not live forever in hell, but have everlasting life in heaven. Webster gives the primary meaning of "perish" as "to die, to lose life in any manner." But, says some one, Jesus did not speak English, and the translators may not have given us a good equivalent for the Greek. Well, Liddell and Scott define the original word "to destroy utterly, kill, slay, murder." The text really defines its own meaning by placing "perish" as the opposite of "life." Life, everlasting or eternal, is promised only to the pure. Our Father intends to have a clean universe, and has commissioned the Son to do the work for him. This he will do, throwing light into every dark corner, washing, scouring, and polishing every vessel that can be made available for the Master's use, hanging every one in its proper place, sweeping out and "utterly destroying" the rubbish, but evidently saving and blessing with life everlasting by far the greater portion of mankind, so that the saved will be the rule, and the lost the exception – else would Satan triumph over God, which is impossible.
I was lately passing along the streets of a large city, when my attention was attracted to a fine large engraving hanging in one of the shop windows. (It was in Fleet street, London.) It represented a scene in one of the ancient Isthmian games. Two persons nearly divested of apparel, with distended muscles, occupied the course, stretching every nerve, while around, evidently excited with deep interest, was the "great crowd of witnesses."
They were well along in the course, but the attention of the one somewhat in advance of the other is diverted for a moment by a flower or some shining object that has been thrown into the arena by some one of the many witnesses, by which they are "compassed about."
An effort is made to grasp it; evidently the prize for which they are running is lost by this one, and no trace of sympathy is noticeable on the countenances of the spectators, but great rejoicing is apparent among the multitude, at the persistency with which the victor has reached the goal: Ignoring everything else, keeping the prize only in view he finally won it. I thought, that is a true picture of the Christian race which Paul has so faithfully and vividly painted in words, and which we see acted upon the stage of life. But how appropriately and timely the emphasizing of the thought just now. How faithfully that little shining object, whatever it may be, represents the besetments in the path of the one who is running for the prize of our high calling.
How insignificant compared with the prize and the honor at the end of the course. But unless watchful we shall hesitate; one moment may cost all, and may make delay sufficient to reach the Judge's stand too late.
What's that in your path? A little worldly praise? Disdain to notice it, it is of no value whatever; you are worse off with it than without it. At another point do you see an avenue to wealth? Never mind; it would not be abiding if you had it. Press on.
Again; do you begin to think of some of the "weights" of value (?) left behind, fearing you will never see them again? Don't think of them, only to hope you will never be encumbered with them more. Do you say or think: "I fear this race will be the ruination of all my worldly prospects?" Of course it will so far as having any pleasure in them is concerned.
But do you say: "Why there's my reputation right there in the dust." Poor fellow! how sorry I am you noticed it; but it's only the reputation you once had. Don't you know that none of those who are noted racers on this course have any reputation? The greatest racer who ever stepped on it "made himself of no reputation."
But do you say: "This awful run will be the death of me? Yes; of course it will; but you are a poor culprit under sentence of death anyway, and if you undertake to save your life you will lose it, but run yourself to death and you'll have a life that is life everlasting, and more – immortal. Don't be foolish now. Press on.
"A heavenly race demands thy zeal
And an immortal crown."
The Church and the World walked far apart
On the changing shores of time,
The World was singing a giddy song,
And the Church a hymn sublime.
"Come, give me your hand," said the merry World,
"And walk with me this way";
But the good Church hid her snowy hands
And solemnly answered "Nay,
I will not give you my hand at all,
And I will not walk with you;
Your way is the way that leads to death;
Your words are all untrue."
"Nay, walk with me but a little space,"
Said the World, with a kindly air;
"The road I walk is a pleasant road,
And the sun shines always there;
Your path is thorny and rough and rude,
But mine is broad and plain;
My way is paved with flowers and dews,
And yours with tears and pain;
The sky to me is always blue,
No want, no toil I know;
The sky above you is always dark,
Your lot is a lot of woe;
There's room enough for you and me
To travel side by side."
Half shyly the Church approached the World
And gave him her hand of snow;
And the old World grasped it and walked along,
Saying in accents low,
"Your dress is too simple to please my taste;
I will give you pearls to wear,
Rich velvets and silks for your graceful form,
And diamonds to deck your hair."
The Church looked down at her plain white robes,
And then at the dazzling World,
And blushed as she saw his handsome lip
With a smile contemptuous curled.
"I will change my dress for a costlier one,"
Said the Church, with a smile of grace;
Then her pure, white garments drifted away,
And the World gave, in their place,
Beautiful satins and shining silks,
Roses and gems and costly pearls;
While over her forehead her bright hair fell
Crisped in a thousand curls.
"Your house is too plain," said the proud old World,
"I'll build you one like mine;
Carpets of Brussels and curtains of lace,
And furniture ever so fine."
So he built her a costly and beautiful house;
Most splendid it was to behold;
Her sons and her beautiful daughters dwelt there.
Gleaming in purple and gold;
Rich fairs and shows in the halls were held,
And the World and his children were there.
Laughter and music and feasts were heard
In the place that was meant for prayer.
There were cushioned pews for the rich and the gay,
To sit in their pomp and pride;
But the poor, who were clad in shabby array,
Sat meekly down outside.
"You give too much to the poor," said the World,
"Far more than you ought to do;
If they are in need of shelter and food,
Why need it trouble you?
Go take your money and buy rich robes,
Buy horses and carriages fine,
Buy pearls and jewels and dainty food;
Buy the rarest and costliest wines;
My children they dote on all these things,
And if you their love would win,
You must do as they do, and walk in the ways
That they are walking in."
[R407 : page 5]
Then the Church held fast the strings of her purse,
And modestly lowered her head,
And simpered, "Without doubt you are right, sir;
Henceforth I will do as you've said."
So the poor were turned from her door in scorn,
And she heard not the orphan's cry;
But she drew her beautiful robes aside,
As the widows went weeping by.
Then the sons of the World and sons of the Church
Walked closely hand and heart,
And only the Master, who knoweth all,
Could tell the two apart.
Then the Church sat down at her ease and said
"I am rich and my goods increase;
I have need of nothing, or aught to do,
But to laugh, and dance, and feast."
The sly World heard, and he laughed in his sleeve,
And mocking said, aside –
"The Church is fallen, the beautiful Church,
And her shame is her boast and her pride."
The angel drew near to the mercy-seat,
And whispered in sighs her name,
Then the loud anthems of rapture were hushed,
And heads were covered with shame.
And a voice was heard at last by the Church
From Him who sat on the Throne,
"I know thy works, and how thou hast said,
'I am rich;' and hast not known
That thou art naked, poor and blind,
And wretched before My face;
Therefore I from My presence, cast thee out.
And blot thy name from its place."– SELECTED.
To-day there are many organizations claiming to be the church, and having various bonds of union; but we wish to know, upon the authority of God's Word, what ekklesia, body, or church, Jesus established, and what are its bonds of union; secondly, we wish to show that every Christian should belong to that church; thirdly, the injurious effects of joining the wrong ekklesia or church; and fourthly, having joined the right church, what are the results of losing our membership.
First then, the church which Jesus began to gather during his ministry, and which was recognized by the Father at Pentecost after their ransom price was paid, was the little company of disciples who had consecrated earthly time, talents and life a sacrifice to God. They were organized and bound together as members of one society, and as such had laws and government, and consequently a head or recognized ruling authority. The bonds were bonds of love and common interest. Since all were enlisted under the captaincy of Jesus, the hopes and fears, joys and sorrows, and aims of one were those of the other; and thus they had a far more perfect union of heart than could possibly be had from a union on the basis of any man-made creed. Thus their organization was of the Spirit; their law for the government of each was love, and all as a whole were put under obedience to the "law of the Spirit" as it was expressed in the life, actions, and words of their Lord. Their government was the will of him who said, "If ye love me keep my commandments."
Thus we see the early church organized, governed, and in perfect unity and harmony under the rulership or headship of Jesus. Contrast this church organization with what now affects to be a continuance of the same – viz.: the various denominational organizations, each of which binds its members to a mental union on the basis of some creed or dogma of its own (many of them anything but love-ly) and each having its own laws.
These laws emanate from their heads, or rulers and law-givers; so it is clearly seen that these present day churches, have and recognize as heads, or directing, ruling powers over them, the ancient founders of their various creeds, each contradicting the other, while their clergy, in conferences, councils, synods and presbyteries, variously interpret and enforce the "traditions of the elders" which "make void the Word of God." These take the place of the true head of the church – Jesus – and the true teacher and guide into all truth, the Holy Spirit. Hear the Prophet Isaiah express it. (chap. 9:15.) "The ancient and honorable, he is the head, and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail." And the whole nominal system is described in the Revelation as "Babylon" – confusion – Papal mother and Protestant daughters.
Will they own this to be so? No, for the lukewarm nominal church of today believes herself to be rich and increased with goods, having need of nothing; not knowing that she is wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. (Rev. 3:17.)
"These are hard sayings, who can receive them?" But these are not our sayings: it is the warning voice of the "sure word of prophecy...whereunto ye do well that ye take heed." And it is a loving voice for again our Lord declares: "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten."
There are two senses in which the true church of Christ may be considered: All who like the early church were fully consecrated to the doing of our Father's will, amenable only to Christ's will and government, recognizing and obeying none other – these saints, from the beginning of the Gospel Age down to its close, when all of this class are sealed, constitute the "CHURCH OF THE FIRST BORN," whose names are written in Heaven. These are all one in aim, hope and suffering, and in due time will be joint-heirs with Jesus Christ to the great inheritance – heirs of the kingdom which God hath promised for them that love him.
The other sense in which this same class is recognized, is by counting a part for the whole; thus all the living of this class may be spoken of as the church; or, again, any part of this class of living followers who may meet together may properly be called the church; for, by the word of Jesus we know that wherever two or three are assembled he will be among them, consequently that would be a church meeting – an assembly of the "church of the First Born." The general assembly will be, when all the church are made like, and glorified with, their head – Jesus.
Such, then, is our definition of the church of Christ; it is perfectly illustrated by Paul (Rom. 12:4,5) when he compares the church to a human body. In this figure Jesus represents the head, and all who are his constitute the body, over and through which the head rules. Jesus has been and always will be the head over his church as a whole; he is likewise the head and ruler of the entire living church, and in every assembly where two or three meet in his name he is the head, ruler, and teacher.
If it be asked, in what sense does he teach? we answer, by exercising the qualities of the head, or teacher; by using one or more of those present as His mouthpiece in unfolding truth, strengthening faith, encouraging hope, inspiring zeal, etc., just as the head of your body can call upon one member to minister to another. But here a word of caution: If one becomes as useful an instrument as a right hand, he should take care that he aspire not to become the head. Be not puffed up; pride will paralyze and render useless. "Be not ye called Rabbi (master, teacher) for one is your master (head) even Christ, and all ye are brethren." And let not the least member despise his office, "for if all were one member, where were the body?" "Nay, those members of the body which seem to be more feeble are necessary" – "God hath set the members every one of them, in the body as it hath pleased him."
This brings us to our second proposition, viz.: that all Christians should be joined to this organization. In the light of what has just been said as to the class constituting the church which Jesus organized, it is evident that if you have given up all your will, talent, time, etc., you are recognized by Jesus as a follower, and member of the ekklesia, or body of which he is the head, whose names are written in heaven. Thus we join Jesus' church and have our names recorded as members by consecration. But says one: Must I not join some organization on earth, assent to some creed, and have my name written on earth? No; remember that Jesus is your pattern and teacher, and neither in his words nor acts will you find any authority for binding yourselves with creeds and traditions of the elders, which all tend to make the word of God of none effect, and bring you under a bondage which will hinder your growth in grace and knowledge, and against which Paul warned you, saying, "Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." (Gal. 5:1.)
But say some: If it is not proper to unite with any of the present nominal churches, would it not be well to form a visible organization of our own? Yes, this is what we have – an organization modeled after that of the early church. We think we have come back to primitive simplicity. The Lord Jesus alone is our head or lawgiver; the Holy Spirit is our interpreter and guide into truth; our names are all written in heaven; we are bound together by love and common interest.
Do you inquire – how shall we know one another? We reply, how could we help knowing one another when the Spirit of our Master is made manifest in word and act, and manner and look? Yes, the living faith, the unfeigned love, the long-suffering meekness, the childlike simplicity coupled with the constancy and zeal of maturity, make manifest the sons of God, and we need no earthly record, for the names of all such are written in the Lamb's book of life.
Do the sick need visiting or assistance? – these stand ready with consecrated time. Does the Lord's work require money? – these stand ready with consecrated means. Does his work bring upon them the reproach of the world, and of a degenerate nominal church – these have also sacrificed reputation – all – all to God.
But again, do you inquire how shall we deal with one who walks disorderly in our midst; if we have no organization such as we see about us, how can we free ourselves from such, as the Lord requires us to do? We answer: Do just as Jesus and Paul directed.
Now, as in the early church, there are various degrees of advancement among the individual members, and Paul says (1 Thes. 5:14,) some are feeble-minded, comfort them; some are weak, support them; but while you should be patient toward all, warn the disorderly (those who are drifting away from the true spirit of Christ). Don't mistake the disorderly for the weak, and comfort them; nor for the feebleminded, and support them, but patiently, lovingly, warn the disorderly. Whom does he call disorderly? Doubtless there are many ways of walking disorderly, but in 2 Thes. 3:11, he speaks of some who work not at all, but are busy-bodies, and says they should do as he did – work that they be not chargeable to any; and if any will not work, neither should he eat. Thus he said he did, that he might be an example to others. He warns us also against immoral and unjust persons and those who wrest (twist) the Scriptures and thus turn the truth of God into a lie. Then again, vs. 14: After you have warned such a one, if he "obey not...note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. "Yet, count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother."
Again Jesus gives explicit directions where there is a matter of offence between two brethren, Matt. 18:15,17: "If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother; but if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: (the company of brethren who assemble together), but if he neglects to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican." If, under the organization of our Head, we heed his commands, which we will do if we love him, how few will be the misunderstandings and difficulties among the brethren.
This organization has its evangelists, pastors and teachers appointed and directed by the Lord. They need no laying on of hands by the so-called Apostolic succession; for the "Spirit of the Lord hath anointed" all the members of the body "to preach," etc. (Isa. 61:1), and it is the duty of every member of the body to exercise his office for the edification of the other members. How complete is the organization of the church of Christ with its heaven-written, love-bound and Spirit-ruled membership, and how sad the error of mistaking the nominal for the real church!
The importance of our fourth proposition need not be urged. It would indeed, be a dreadful calamity to lose our membership in the true church or body of Christ. And no member is out of this danger except when keeping a vigilant watch over the old nature, counted dead, lest it come to life again, and assert itself in the form of pride, selfishness, envy, evil-speaking – or what not? But if filled with love (the love that prompts to sacrifice) and clothed with humility, and under cover of the redeeming blood, we are safe in the church (body), having the assurance that it is our "Father's good pleasure to give us the kingdom."
Yes, the kingdom is the glorious destiny of the true church – the "little flock" – now treading the pathway of humiliation and drinking the bitter cup of death. The glory that shall be revealed in us, doth not yet appear except to the eye of faith, but the temptations and trials are very apparent on every hand. "Let us, therefore, fear lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it." (Heb. 4:1.)
Thus Paul warned others and thus he feared, lest (even after) having preached to others, he himself should be a castaway. (1 Cor. 9:27.) We may have our names cast out as evil by those of the nominal church, and yet "rejoice and be exceeding glad because our names are written in heaven." They may frown upon you and despitefully use you and say all manner of evil against you falsely, or they may seek to win you back by flattery, saying they cannot afford to lose your influence – you could do so much good by remaining among them. Oh, how necessary in this "evil day" is the faith –
"That bears unmoved the world's dread frown,
Nor heeds its flattering smile;
That seas of trouble cannot drown,
Nor Satan's arts beguile."
Dearly beloved, let us again repeat the warning: "Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free, and be not again entangled with the yoke of bondage" – not even in the slightest degree.
The word judgment sometimes signifies merely the execution of a verdict, or decision reached, but it means in a fuller sense the process of trial, including also the decision or result of trial. The human race represented in its head, Adam, once stood on trial before God. It failed to prove itself worthy of life, and in Adam all were condemned, the penalty or verdict being death. – "Dying thou shalt die." (Gen. 2:17 – margin.)
Seemingly, Jehovah had forever sealed the final doom of his creatures, the trial being ended and they all condemned to death. But not so; he had thus condemned all through one representative (Adam), that he might have mercy upon all through another representative – Christ Jesus (Rom. 5:19).
In due time Jesus was placed on trial as a second representative man. He was in all points tempted (tried) like as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15). In his trial Jesus was a victor; he was thus proved [R408 : page 6] worthy of life according to his Father's law. Then by giving himself (his humanity) a ransom for all (1 Tim. 2:6), he purchased all of the fallen race from, or out of death. The object of the ransom was not to justify sin, nor to bring back the sinner to continue a life of sin, but to afford each an individual trial for life in hope that all, having had a taste of the bitterness of sin, might return to harmony and communion with God through Jesus, and live. It is for this reason that the world is to be judged again. They were tried and condemned once already through Adam, as we have shown, and a second chance for life comes to all the race through Christ Jesus – an individual chance.
The second judgment or trial of the race, unlike the first, will be an individual trial, when every man who dies shall die for his own sin and not for Adam's (Jer. 31:29,30). This individual trial will be under the most favorable circumstances, and will decide their final everlasting destiny. But before they can have such a trial, they must first be redeemed from the consequences of the first trial.
It should be remembered that the church selected from the world during this Gospel age is not reckoned as a part of the World. Jesus said, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." (John 17:16.) This Gospel age, has not been the World's day of trial or judgment, but the church's only. Only a small part of mankind have yet been blessed with knowledge sufficient for a full, fair trial as individuals. But we thank God that he has "appointed a day (period) in the which he will judge the World in righteousness" – fully and fairly, as our text affirms.
Our hearts rejoice with gratitude and praise as we realize the blessings to come to all mankind, when the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth, for all must have full knowledge in order to a full and righteous trial. God could have had the World's trial-day begin where ours did, (the church's) at Pentecost, but it pleased him to permit six days of evil (six thousand years) to pass, and then to bring in a seventh day of rest from the dominion of evil (the millennium, or seventh thousand years), in which the World should have a more favorable individual trial under the reign of Jesus. All who will, may then have back all that was lost through Adam's sin – human perfection [R409 : page 6] of life and happiness.
As heretofore shown, the trial of the church, now in progress, is not a trial of men to see whether they are worthy of human life and perfection eternally, but it is a trial of new creatures. Certain ones, justified from sin by faith in Christ, have presented themselves as human sacrifices to death – the death of all human aims and hopes and being. Their trial is to see whether they will fulfill this their covenant. If they do it, they will be doing with their humanity what Jesus did with his, and such shall share with Jesus, their Lord, the glory and honor of the divine nature.
The trial of the World when Satan and evil are bound (Rev. 20:2) will be less severe and the prize for which they will be running (a right to existence as perfected human, or earthly beings) will be less glorious than that for which we run. Theirs will be a gloriously satisfying portion, however, since the natural man cannot receive the things of the spirit, for they are spiritually discerned. What a loving and wise provision! All will be perfectly satisfied – they on the earthly plane, we on the heavenly.
When the World is on trial (during the millennial age), not only Jesus will be their Judge, but his Bride – the overcomers now being selected, then made one with him, will sit with him in the throne and judge the world, as we read: "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?" (1 Cor. 6:2.)
"The day of the Lord" is a scriptural name for a period of time, during which the Gospel and Millennial ages lap; the one ending, the other commencing. Concerning it we read – "Shall not the Day of the Lord be darkness and not light, even very dark, and no brightness in it?" (Amos 5:20.) "Ho (improperly translated woe; see Young's translation) you that desire the Day of the Lord: The Day of the Lord is darkness and not light." (vs. 18.)
It is "The great day of His wrath." This dark day is at once the closing scene of the night of weeping, and the dawn of the morning of joy. We desire your attention not merely to the Scripture evidence that there will be such a day, or time, but especially to the events that will transpire during that day, and their chronological order.
This time of trouble comes first upon the nominal church. We read, "The harvest is the end of the world" (age). It includes the sifting of the true wheat from among the tares in the nominal church, and the burning of the tares. This work has been rapidly progressing in our midst during the past seven years. The sickle of truth has been gathering and separating from the world, the truly consecrated children of God who faithfully follow the leading of truth, and such shall be accounted worthy to escape the tribulation coming (Luke 21:36), while lukewarm and merely nominal Christians shall share it with the world.
This separation of truth from error, and of truth-seekers from time honored systems of error, brought about by the unfolding of truth now due to the household of faith, causes great trouble and final overthrow to those systems. The light reveals and condemns the darkness, and the real "children of light" rejoice in it, while those not in the light "weep and lament," as foretold in Rev. 18. The tottering and overthrow of the nominal church is the beginning of the trouble on the world, since the interests of the church and world are so closely linked. The Church, both Papal and Protestant has exerted a mighty influence upon the masses of the people, and has greatly aided governments in controlling them. Therefore the great, the mighty, and the rich, will weep and lament her fall.
The trouble of the nations during "the Day of the Lord," is a natural consequence of the transfer of authority and rulership from the Devil, who is the prince of this world – age (John 14:30), to "Him whose right it is" – Christ – who, in the beginning of the Millennial Age, "takes to himself His great power and reigns;" – "And the nations were angry and thy wrath is come," read along connectedly. Rev. 11:17.
Unquestionably the kingdoms of this world are loyal to their prince. They are mainly controlled by evil, selfish, corrupt men, the agents and representatives of the "Prince of Darkness," who do his will. When the new Prince takes control, the dominion is to be given into new hands, and the Lord proclaims: "I will overthrow the throne of the kingdoms and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the Gentiles." Hag. 2:22.
Thus by "breaking in pieces" – throwing down – "the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ," "and he shall reign forever." Rev. 11:15. Under the new rule there will be new rulers, and we read, "The saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, (dominion) and possess the kingdom forever," Daniel 7:18. "All peoples, nations and languages shall serve Him." At present they do not, and they must be brought to submission by chastisement; and this is accomplished in "The day of the Lord." The overthrow of nations and society will necessarily involve individual trouble. But, when the judgments of the Lord are in the Earth the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. Isa. 26:9.
This trouble is graphically described by the Prophet: "That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess. I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them, in the day of the Lord's wrath." Zeph. 1:15,18. "Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent." Zeph. 3:8,9.
So extreme is the trouble here described, that the world is symbolically said to be burned up by the Lord's anger – yet it has a good effect, for after all the indignation against, and destruction of governments, the people remain [The destruction is that of government life,] and having experienced the misrule of the "Prince of this World" they are prepared to have the Lord take His great power and reign, and to "serve the Lord with one consent."
We expect that this distress and trouble, will all come about in a very natural way. Very many Scriptures seem to teach that the kingdoms of the earth will be overthrown by a rising of the people, goaded to desperation by the oppression of unjust governments. Such a rising and overturning, Socialists, Communists, and Nihilists of to-day are organizing for, and will gladly bring about when they can.
Now, while Scripture recognizes wrong and oppression as existing in the nations, and foretells this as the way in which they will be overthrown, and says: "Go to now ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you; ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold the hire of the laborers, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth." Jas. 5:1. – yet it does not recognize this Communism as right, but the contrary, rather instructing believers to "obey the powers that be" as long as they last, saying to us – be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming (presence) of the Lord."
Rev. 6:15, figuratively describes that time of falling of kingdoms when every mountain (kingdom) and island shall be moved. The kings and chief ones as well as bondmen will recognize in this trouble that "The great day of his wrath is come," and will seek to be covered and protected by the great mountains (kingdoms) of earth, and to be hid in the great rocks of this world (secret societies). But they shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord's anger, for all the kingdoms of the world shall be thrown down, and instead of these mountains (kingdoms) "the kingdom of the Lord becomes a great mountain, and fills the whole earth." Daniel 2:35,45.
Malachi 4:1, describes the coming day of trouble and sees the anger of the Lord there displayed – "the fire of God's jealousy." "Behold the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall be stubble, and the day that cometh shall burn them up." Here the wicked are symbolized by stubble, God's wrath by fire, and the righteous by "calves of the stall." vs. 2.
Peter (3:10,12) describes this "Day of the Lord," and under symbol of heavens, refers to the governments. "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, [overthrow of governments with great confusion] and the elements shall melt with fervent heat. The earth also, and the works that are therein shall be burned up." [The elements of the (heavens) governments as well as of (earth) society in general, will be dissolved in the great trouble (fire) of that day. The word here translated elements is the same that Paul uses in speaking of "the beggarly elements" of this world. [Gal. 4:9.] [R410 : page 6]
Scripture teaches that in the Millennial age fleshly Israel will be the chief nation, "the joy of the whole earth." And we find that whilst other nations fall during the day of the Lord, they gradually come into prominence until in the latter part of that "day of wrath;" when "the battle of the great day" is fought, we find Jerusalem safely inhabited, her people having much cattle and goods. (Ezek. 38:12.) They will doubtless go to Palestine, not through respect to promises of God, nor with the expectation of restoration to national power, but with true Jewish perception they will realize before others the dangers to which property, etc., will be exposed during this overthrow of order; and they will choose to be far away from the strongholds of communism. Yet even there they will not be entirely secure, for God and his bands say, "Come, let us go up to take a spoil and prey," and they come against Jerusalem a great company to pillage and rob the wealthy Jews there gathered from all quarters of the globe. (Ezek. 38:8,12.)
Zech. (14:1,4) describes the battle then fought. "Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken and the houses rifled, and half of the city shall go forth into captivity." Here God interposes and defends them, and here they come to recognize Jesus as the Son of God, for "the Lord my God shall come, and all thy saints with thee."
In Zech. 12:3, God declares that he will deliver them, "though all the people of the earth be gathered against them." Verse 10 describes the recognition of him whom they have pierced, and their sorrow when, in that day, God "pours upon them the spirit of grace and supplication."
Here are a number of events: The "time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation," – the return of the Jews to Palestine and the reorganization of the Jewish nation, though not independent – the gathering of great wealth to Jerusalem, which tempts the hordes of Gog, Togomar, and many peoples, to go up "to take a spoil" – "the battle of the great day of God Almighty," fought at Jerusalem – the partial success of the invaders, and in the hour of darkness to the Jew, the power of Messiah manifested, in some way effecting their deliverance and their recognition of the long waited for Messiah, with the cry, "Lo, this is our God, we have waited for him and he will save us." Then they will recognize him as the one whom they had once rejected, and as they look upon him "whom they have pierced" when God will "pour upon them the spirit of grace and supplication," and they shall mourn for their sin, and be accepted again into fellowship with God. The Day of the Lord is "the day of Jacob's trouble, but he (Israel) shall be saved out of it." These events we expect in about the order mentioned. We believe that the word of God furnishes us with indubitable proof that we are now living in this "Day of the Lord," that it began in 1874, and is a day of forty years' duration, as was "the day of temptation in the wilderness," when Israel proved God, and saw his works "forty years." (Heb. 3:9.)
And it is astonishing how very rapidly these things, once looked at as absurd and impossible, are becoming realities. When we, with a few others, declared these things a few years ago, and called attention to the fact that Scripture taught that this trouble would be occasioned by a rising of the people and the overthrow of governments – Communism – the idea was ridiculed. Communism was at that time little known or felt; but to-day every nation is in dread, and Nihilism, Communism, and Socialism are household words, and we see "men's hearts failing for fear and for looking after those things coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven (governments) shall be shaken." (Luke 21:26.)
Of recent years the Jew has been coming into prominence, furnishing the world as capitalists and statesmen, such names as Rothschild, Disraeli, Gambetta, and Montefiero, while yet more recently, complications of other nations are placing the control of Palestine in the hands of Hebrews, and opening it to them as a people for their home, whither the poorer classes are now flocking in great numbers from Russia, where one-third of the race are said to reside. And what can be more probable than that the wealthy ones, as already suggested, should flee there to escape the anarchy and insecurity of earth's falling empires?
Thus there is abundant evidence for all who will "take heed to the sure word of prophecy," and who are found watching for its fulfillment, that the Day of the Lord is indeed upon us – "Who shall be able to stand?" "Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments."
Christians are in the habit of looking at "the law" as a great enemy. Why? Because it does not countenance the least sin. It says, "walk before me and be thou perfect." Is that not right – could a perfect God recognize or make a law in any way imperfect? Surely not. The reason men count the law their enemy is that all have sinned, and ever since the disobedience of Adam they have been in the condition known as "sinful flesh." Prior to sin's entrance, the law was Adam's friend, and justified him; but the condition of death obtained after sin had entered, and man in this fallen condition of death finds it utterly impossible to so live and act in harmony with his Maker, that God's perfect law would not condemn him. And since all are sinners, of course none but a defective law could recognize such persons as perfect. The law of God has condemned all, and every one who has reasoning faculties seems to recognize that he is not perfect.
God has always had a law; even before the giving of it at Mount Sinai. Since God always has been perfect, His laws always have been perfect and condemned and opposed even the slightest sin. Abel, Noah, Abraham and all the patriarchs recognized the fact that they were sinners when they made altars and sacrificed thereon, before attempting to hold communion. Thus they acknowledged themselves sinners and unable of themselves to approach God. How different from the way Adam and God walked and talked in the Garden! No sacrifices or offerings for sin were there needed, for Adam was justified, or recognized as right by God's law. Thus we see that what the patriarchs knew of God's law condemned them.
The giving of the full law from Sinai did not take away man's sin. No, it only showed it the more fully. Did the keeping of it ever justify any of them? No; "By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified [R410 : page 7] in His (God's) sight." Was the fault in the law, or in the people? "The law is holy," and God's commands "holy and just and good." (Rom. 7:12.) The imperfection was with mankind. Since, then, the law did not justify them, it must have condemned them, even as it had condemned the patriarchs. Not any more really (for there is only one penalty – death) but more loudly. They were no greater sinners than those of the Patriarchal Age who had not had the full law given them, but they were shown their condition as sinners more clearly. Why? That they might see their own fallen and imperfect condition and learn the exceeding sinfulness of SIN. (Rom. 7:13), and by this knowledge be prepared for the Redeemer.
We have seen that God always has had a perfect law which condemned every sin in every being, and how it was shown in different degrees to the patriarchs and Israel, yet that the effect was the same – condemnation – only more fully realized by those who saw the law most clearly. Now, how about the great heathen world? Surely a righteous law could not say: The heathen are RIGHTEOUS; unless they live in harmony with God. And if you thought they were living in harmony with God you would not send missionaries to them. No, they too, are condemned by God's law. And as Paul says: These that have not the law (the full written law as given to Israel) "show the work of the law written in their hearts," a spark of that principle of justice and knowledge of right and wrong which must have been an important part of the natural organization of the first perfect man, Adam; a spark merely, not quite extinguished by the degrading effects of sin.
What did this spark of conscience do for them? It sometimes justified, and sometimes condemned. But if their spark of conscience condemned them only ONCE during their lifetime, it showed that they were imperfect – sinners – hence subject to the sin penalty, death.
Now, "all unrighteousness is sin," and "sin is the transgression of the law," and "the wages of sin is death." So we see that the only voice of the law of God to any who hear it, is: You cannot live. "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God": Therefore must "every mouth be stopped and all the world become guilty before God." (Rom. 3:9,19.)
There lay the whole human family dead and dying through sin, the law hanging up before them, they admit, is grand, "just" and "holy." They were told that "The man that doeth these things shall live." (Rom. 10:5, Gal. 3:12.) But O, they could not do them. Some tried hard, as Paul describes, Rom. 7:14-24. When with their minds they resolved to "do those things and live," they found sin in their members hindering and preventing. When the striving ones found they could not deliver [R411 : page 7] themselves from death, they exclaimed: "Wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Diaglott) or, from the sin and death which has gotten possession of me. When he so cries out, he has reached the place God wanted to bring him to, i.e., to realize that he can NEVER deliver himself from death and sin. But some one asks: If he dies does not the act of dying fill all the requirements of the law, and could he not, after thus dying, be raised up by God? No, you err in supposing that the act of dying is the penalty. Man has been dying ever since sin entered the world, but the penalty will not be entirely inflicted until all are dead. The penalty is, that sinners shall have life no longer; they forfeit their right to live.
But when will the law of God release the sinner from the bondage of death? Never; if he could not obey the law while partially dead, he certainly cannot when completely so. Ever since the "fall" from perfect manhood through sin, man has been in a dying condition, sometimes spoken of as already dead (see Matt. 8:22). And none but a perfect man could keep a perfect law. But, says one, did not God send his Son into the world to show us how we could work our way up to spiritual life – appearing among us on the lowest round of the ladder, did He not point out to us the way; he being thus "our forerunner?"
This view in many respects is held by a great many, mostly "Unitarians" and "Universalists" and like many other views has a mixture of truth in it; but as a whole is far from being "the truth" on this subject. Jesus did indeed "lay aside the glory which he had with the Father, before the world;" He did appear to "set us an example that we should follow in his footsteps" and to be "our forerunner," but more, he is also our "Redeemer" from the curse of the Law. The curse of the law upon us as sinners is death. How did he redeem us from death? To redeem is to purchase back. He therefore is said to have "bought us with his own precious blood." Blood represents life – "The life of the flesh is in the blood" (Lev. 17:11), therefore shed blood represents death or sacrificed life. "He gave his life;" "He shed his blood;" "He tasted death;" all have the same meaning. But how could his life purchase or redeem or buy ours? He as a man, a perfect man, kept the perfect law; and was therefore uncondemned by it. Therefore the same law which was the sinners' enemy condemning us to death, was his friend and guaranteed life to him. But was he not born into the world under condemnation of death, as much as any other son of Adam? No, he was a direct creation of God – "made in the likeness of sinful flesh," but "in him was no sin." If he had done sin or been born a sinner, his life would have been forfeited as was ours.
If born under condemnation as other human beings he would have been as much a sinner as we, and as such would have been obliged to die for himself and consequently would have nothing to give as a ransom for our life. But he was perfect, kept the law, had a right to perfect human life forever; "But for the joy set before him," by the promise of the Father to raise him from the dead a spiritual body, he renounced the natural, human life, and gave it for our ransom.
But when he arose from death, was not that a taking back of the price? Yes, if he had taken back the same life which he had laid down; but he did not take back the human; he was quickened by the Spirit – "made a quickening Spirit," raised a "spiritual body." There is a natural, human body and there is a spiritual body.
Thus "by his precious (valuable) blood" (life), we were "redeemed from the curse of the law" – death. To what kind of life were we redeemed? The same which man had before death (the curse) came; the same kind that Jesus gave for us, i.e., human life. But we are promised spiritual life, and that we shall be made like unto Christ's glorious body? Yes; it is a part of God's offer to us (during the Gospel age), that if we die to earthly and fleshly – natural – life, we may be reckoned as "members of his body," and partake of the same kind of life as our Head. If we leave our Father's house (the human) we may become espoused to the Lord of glory as His Bride. In this arrangement, we are reckoned as being justified to the perfect natural life first, else we could not give our lives. Being justified to life, Jesus says to us, you can either have this natural life, or, if you will renounce this natural, as I did, and become dead to the world, you shall have instead, the spiritual life and body. "If we be dead with Christ, we shall live with him." Rom. 6:4-8. "It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him; if we suffer, we shall also reign with him." 2 Tim. 2:11. "Ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings." 1 Pet. 4:13. "Joint heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." Rom. 8:17.
And it is because God thus waits until the elect number, the bride, the body, the Church, has "filled up the measure of the afflictions of Christ, which are behind," that the "restitution of all things," purchased for the world by the blood of Christ, is delayed and yet future. The Head suffered and died over eighteen hundred years ago; but all of the suffering and death of the body are not yet completed. Not noticing this, has caused wonder on the part of almost all, that the benefits and results of the ransom have not sooner come. (See typical sacrifices, in the Tabernacle Tract.)
But would it be right for God to reckon the one righteous life given, as a full payment for the lives of the millions of sinners who have died? Does not the price – one, for a billion or more – seem like a short payment?
This is a reasonable question, and we will allow Paul to give it a reasonable answer. He is a logical reasoner, as well as an inspired Apostle, and argues that, as God had seen proper to condemn all men to death on account of Adam's disobedience, so he had a right to reckon the second Adam a representative man, and justify to life all the race, in return for the sacrifice of this one perfect life. "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. "Therefore as by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation," (condemned to suffer the penalty of sin, death,))"even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification to life." Remember that none now enjoy life; our condition is a dying one. "Dying thou shalt die" was the penalty pronounced on Adam.
"For as in Adam (or by Adam's sin) all die," so "in Christ (or by Christ's obedience, etc.) shall all be made alive." As the first Adam's bride was a party to the sin, so we see the second Adam's bride is made a party with her Lord in the removing of the curse. Oh glorious plan, of our all wise and loving Father, and the exceeding riches of his grace toward us, in Christ Jesus.
But says one, I thought that Jesus had nullified, set aside and destroyed the law; and that therefore mankind could approach God. Oh no, that was a great mistake. Would it not be strange indeed if the Father made a law, which we have seen was "just" and "holy," and in fact the only one he could give because perfect and holy himself, would it seem proper even to think of Jesus as setting aside and destroying that "just" and "holy" law or in any way making a league with sin or sinners? No, no. He came to do the Father's will and the law is the record of that will. Jesus kept it himself and taught the true meaning of it to be higher than the letter, and that to be "angry with a brother without a cause" was to violate the command "Thou shalt not kill." No, says Paul: "Christ magnified the law (made it larger and more minute) and made it honorable," showed in fact that, that law could not be set aside or broken. He showed too, by keeping it perfectly himself, that God's law was just, and not beyond a perfect man's ability.
But we read, "Christ is the end of the law." What can that mean? The trouble is you have not quoted the connections. The text reads: "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." (Rom. 10:4.) To whom is he this? To believers. How? Righteously, not by breaking it, but by righteously fulfilling its requirements, and we in him are just before the law. Because we in Him are reckoned dead to the world and alive toward God through Him – our new life, another similar text reads: "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are IN Christ Jesus." Why are those in Christ not condemned? Because, since coming into Him by faith they have received of His spirit, and with Him can say, "I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart." (Ps. 11:8.) They are then alive spiritually though yet living in the dead body of sinful flesh which they are supposed to, and which by the holy spirit given they are enabled to "crucify." These walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit, and to all so walking in Christ, there is no condemnation from the law.
And in the glorious millennial age, when all shall know God from least to greatest, when, "the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth;" – "the times of restitution" – there will be the same "holy and just" law, and under the "Royal Priesthood" after the order of Melchisedec (the order of an endless life) poor fallen humanity will be helped back again, to that perfect condition from whence Adam fell; a condition in harmony with God's law, and therefore in harmony with God.
But will they receive no punishment for misdeeds of the present life? They will [R412 : page 7] receive punishment, "stripes" in proportion as they had light and lived contrary to it. As our Master explained, "It shall be more tolerable for Sodom," in the day of judgment (in the age of trial) than for the Jews to whom He spoke, because the Sodomites had sinned against less light. (Matt. 11:24.) There will be many or few "stripes," in proportion to the amount of light they have had, and the use made of it.
There will be rewards given to some during that age also; "for whosoever shall give to one of these little ones (of the little flock) a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, shall in no wise lose his reward." (Matt. 10:42.) And when the King shall sit "on the throne of his glory" (during the Millennial age), some will be rewarded for having ministered to the members of his body. "Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these" (in the throne) "ye did it unto me." Matt. 25:40.
WHEN we announce, as a part of God's plan of salvation, now due to be understood, that the Sodomites (Ezek. 16:48-63) and all men who have never yet come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4) are to be saved out of Adamic-death, brought to life again by reason of Jesus' ransom; and that they may then be made acquainted with the truth and have an opportunity by obedience to that knowledge, to reach perfection as men, and live forever, it seems as strange to those who hear it, as did the announcement of the apostles in the end of the Jewish age, that from that time God would call and accept of Gentiles as his spiritual sons – Gentiles who but shortly before, had been treated as strangers and aliens and children of wrath.
As in the Jewish age, so it is in the end of this Gospel age of which it was a shadow or type. It was not until the ending of the Jewish age that God sent light upon the Gospel age and its broader work. Thus it is now also; not until the very closing hours of the Gospel age does light shine out clear and strong upon the now dawning Millennial age and its work for mankind in general.
The end of Jesus' earthly ministry was come. During those three and a half years he had uttered truths which served to test his followers, which proved to some a cause of stumbling – to all who were not "Israelites indeed:" – truths which had brought the opposition of the nominal Jewish church, and of which, even some of his followers, had said: "This is an hard saying; who can hear it? and walked no more with him." But now this work of separation was all over; even Judas had gone out, and Jesus and the eleven are alone. He has been telling them some things regarding their new and high privileges, their new relationship toward God about to be purchased by his death, into the enjoyment of which they should enter after he should ascend to the Father, and His work of redemption be recognized as perfect. Then would come the "power from on high" – the Spirit which would endue them with ability to understand spiritual, or heavenly things.
It may have escaped the attention of some that at this time the disciples were not begotten of the spirit, (John 7:39) though they were justified by faith. They were justified human beings, but not begotten new creatures, consequently Jesus' teachings contain little reference to the highest things, except in parables; he explained little concerning the "high calling" of the Bride, but said: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when he the spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth." How this corroborates Paul's statement: "The natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God,...neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned." 1 Cor. 2:14. Though justified men, they must be begotten of the Spirit to comprehend things above the human plane.
After telling them of the future unfolding of truth and of his words, he tells them why his revelations are for them, viz.: because he will henceforth treat them as friends and reveal all things to them.
There are two important lessons conveyed in these words of the Master, as applicable to us as to the eleven Apostles: first, the rule by which He judges who are his friends – "Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you." If we submit our wills completely to his will, thus becoming dead to the world and alive toward God – then he reckons us friends; second, the rule by which we may judge whether he reckons us among this class of special "friends," viz.: If he reveals his work and plans to us, even all things which he has heard of the Father.
Now apply these rules to yourself. If you can say, "Not my will but thine be done;" not my plan of saving the world; not my plan relative to the preaching of the Gospel; not my will regarding the nominal church; not my will regarding myself and what I shall do or be, but "Thy will be done" in all these things, then you are a "friend" in this special sense spoken of by Jesus. Now try the other rule: Have you evidence that you are a special friend? Is the Spirit leading you daily into more and more of an understanding of his words and plan – revealing more and more of the "mystery" kept hid in former ages, and showing you "things to come?" Do you say yes? Very good, then yours is the blessed experience of heavenly wisdom, which at the same time is a proof that you are a special "friend." Continue your consecration, [R412 : page 8] continue your sacrifice, and you shall continue to abide in his love and to have fresh evidences of his friendship by growth "in grace and in knowledge."
If the Word and plan of God are not opening before you: If you are not being led of the Spirit into all truth – if he is not showing you "things to come," (John 16:13.) then it looks indeed as though you were not of the special friends, and it should be your first work to gain this divine friendship by self-surrender – consecration.
Yours of the 18th came to hand Monday evening, 21st inst. I accept with gratitude the sympathy and love expressed, and I know that you will rejoice with me on account of returning health; in the Lord's good time I have been directed to the remedy ("Compound Oxygen") that is now working great good to me.
I always feel like chiding myself when I begin to be lavish of special praises to God for health, or any of those things that men regard as blessings. It is "Our Father," and sick or well, pain or ease, his infinite all abounding love is the same, and by each and every means, and all his dealing with me, he is "treasuring up his bright designs."
This has sustained me, and though he let me down, down, DOWN, to a lone dreary waste of mind and spirit, where I had no strength, I was able by his grace always to gasp "Thy will be done." Amen! It must be best; proceed O Lord with thy good pleasure in me, and burn up all the dross.
I thank you and appreciate the kindness that prompted you to send me the medical formula, and the doctor from whom it came also; but it so happened (?) that just before it came I had written to doctors in Philadelphia, regarding my case, and though they gave me no particular encouragement, but said: "We don't see how you live," I had confidence in the OXYGEN, and though I felt as though I could not afford the price, I sent for it. Before it came, I was much worse, and it found me in a direful condition; but it has just raised me right up – no guess-work about it.
One week ago last Saturday, it came about noon. I was so bad that night that it took five or six doses of morphine to quiet me, the next night one, and none since. The third night after it came I slept sweetly without any anodyne.
One week ago, Monday, I could not sit up to have my bed made, but got to one side to have it stirred and regulated – four days after the "Oxygen treatment" came I rode out. At first getting up I hobbled about on crutch and cane – I now walk about the yard a little thus, and can walk about the house with cane only. Of course it is a new strength, a sort of infantile life; but I am thankful for it, while my dear Lord understands that I do not undervalue my sickness and pain and sorrow and darkness and gloom, which though intended for evil by the enemy, is among the "all things" working for good.
With much love to yourself and dear sister Russell, and wishing to be remembered to all yours and ours, I am as ever,
Our readers will be interested in the above. Brother Sunderlin has been in the furnace of affliction for several months and unable to write for the TOWER. (His articles in this number, were written before his illness.) You will all be glad to know of his recovery, though since he has caught cold and got a set-back.
Regarding the remedy he mentions: It is called "Compound Oxygen treatment," and is prepared by at least two firms in Philadelphia, Pa. Thinking that a remedy which has done our brother so much good might be of benefit to others, we wrote to see what terms we could make for our readers.
We have made arrangements by which you can have what are termed "Home treatments," for seven dollars and fifty cents, the usual price of which is from ten to fifteen dollars. You can either address Drs. Feltwell and Fondey, Philadelphia, Pa., saying that you are a Watch Tower reader; or you can send your order to us and we will attend to it for you.
This remedy is specially recommended for Consumption and Nervous Debility and Spinal Weakness. By enclosing stamp for postage, and addressing as above, some printed descriptive circulars will be sent you.
Q. If I understand your teachings, you claim that God intends to restore all mankind to the original perfection of manhood in which he created Adam. I can see that you have a strong argument in the fact that Jesus tasted death for all, and thus paid our Adamic debt, which was the cause of death and imperfection. Particularly strong is the argument when we remember that only a fragment of the race ever heard of the only name given under heaven or among men whereby we must be saved. I admit, then, that the ideas advanced are consistent with both Justice and Love; that the arguments and inferences are strong, and the entire plan Godlike, but my question is, Is there any positive statement of Scripture to the effect that man will be restored to Edenic perfection and bliss and life?
A. We claim that the teachings on this point are positive, and not merely inferential; that only the strong prejudice of early training hinders Christians from seeing it to be so. Only this prejudice and training leads any one to suppose that God will punish willful sin with a life of torment when he positively declares, "The wages of sin is death" (cessation of life), and that "all the wicked will he destroy." (Psa. 145:20.)
We inquire how else could Jesus be the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world? (John 1:9.) How else could the news of a Saviour be "good tidings of great joy to all people? (Luke 2:10.) If only a few have yet heard the "good tidings" in any sense, must there not be a restitution to life as well as a future proclamation of the only name given? Otherwise, God's plan is a failure. But we have the positive statement that "God will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim. 2:4.) Notice, they are to be saved first, saved from the Adamic death through the efficacy of the ransom price, and afterward brought to a knowledge of the truth under the favoring circumstances of the reign of Christ.
For a pointed text in support of restitution we refer you to Acts 3:19-21. Here Peter not only tells of the "times (years) of restitution of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets," but he points out that this restitution cannot and will not take place until Christ our Lord comes. And he comes when his church or bride has been selected, to receive her unto himself.
This restitution is mentioned by all the Prophets. Some refer to one feature and [R413 : page 8] some to another. Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, tell much of the restoration of fleshly Israel to favor and to their own land. This, which is a part of the general restitution, a slight beginning, is already commencing, and, as we have heretofore shown, was due to commence in 1878. There, in fact, the favor did begin in the decree of the Berlin conference, which placed Palestine under English protection and opened the door for the restoration now beginning. And before long it will be found that the results of the recent Egyptian war will accrue yet more, to Israel's favor, and their repossession of Palestine.
The Prophet Job, in his own experience, is made a type of the restitution. He first lost all earthly blessings – human health, wealth, friends, etc.; then he had all these restored to him exactly as at first, except that the wealth was increased. So humanity was degraded to the dunghill, but is to be restored to its "former estate," and will have increase of pleasure and wealth in the increased blessings of knowledge, invention, etc.
The Prophet Moses taught restitution in type. In the same way (in type) he wrote of Christ as Jesus said: "Moses wrote of me." (John 5:46.) Every fiftieth year was a jubilee year to Israel, in which land and all possessions lost, were fully restored. Thus this Prophet spoke pointedly of the coming restitution of all things, for which, unconsciously and ignorantly, "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now." (Rom. 8:22.) Read Lev. 25.
Ezekiel not only speaks of the restitution of living Jews, but tells of the restoration of the dead ones to their former estate. Among them he mentions the Sodomites, and says they will be restored. We remember Jesus' statement, that "it rained down fire and brimstone, and destroyed them all." (Luke 17:29.) Hence we know that Ezekiel's prophecy is concerning men, dead for nearly a thousand years before he prophecied. Nor need we be surprised at the restitution when we remember that Christ died for their sins as well as for ours, and that in his estimation the Sodomites were far less guilty than some of the Jews of his day who had greater light. (Matt. 11:23.) The time of their restitution will be the time of their trial or judgment; and Jesus says it will be more tolerable for the Sodomites than for some of the Jews, in the day of judgment – the Millennial or judgment (trial) age of the world. [See article – The Day of Judgment – in another column.]
Read very carefully the Lord's words through Ezekiel, on the subject of restoring to a former estate (chap. 16:48-63), remembering that Jesus by the grace of God tasted death for every man, to be testified in DUE time. (1 Tim. 2:6.) It is evident that the due time to receive this "glad tidings" never yet came to the Sodomites and billions of others, but there can be no doubt that it will come "in DUE TIME" – in the times of restitution of all things.
As we saw in the June number of the TOWER, there is a meaning in the word RESURRECTION, little appreciated until recently by any of us. We there saw, that the Greek word anastasis, from which our word resurrection is translated, means to raise, or lift up to perfection. We saw that the saints would be lifted up to the perfection of their nature – the DIVINE (2 Pet. 1:4), while all men who then submit themselves to God will be lifted up to the perfection of their nature – the HUMAN. We saw that Lazarus and others who were raised to a measure of life only, as a consequence, did not experience a resurrection, and that this is never called a resurrection in Scripture. Jesus was the first being, resurrected. (Col. 1:18.) If this, the proper meaning of resurrection, were recognized, how much obscurity would be removed. "There shall be a resurrection (raising up to perfection) both of the just and unjust." (Acts 24:15.)
But understand us clearly, we do not teach everlasting salvation for all men. Our claim is that Scripture teaches a salvation of all men from Adamic-death and its attendant weaknesses, in order that each shall have a full opportunity to secure everlasting life by obedience.
Q. You say that you are not a sect – that you claim no name but that of Christ, and object not to be called Christians, though not of the denomination so called. But are you not as much of a sect as any of the others, only without a name and without a limited and written creed?
A. No, the word sect means a division, or a separation. Every sect separates itself from all other Christians by a doctrinal fence or creed. Any who would be of them must go inside their pen, believe what they believe, deny what they deny, and be called by their sectarian name. This practice has become so common that many suppose it to be God's arrangement; and any one found outside all of these numerous pens, is supposed an enemy of God and of truth.
We are opposed to these pens, but love the many children of God, whose growth in grace, and knowledge, and love, is hindered by these restraints. We are opposed to these sectarian pens, because they are not of Jesus, nor of the apostles, but of Satan and Anti-Christ. They prevent the Lord's sheep from feeding in the green pastures of truth which the true shepherd has provided.
We stand outside of all these fences and recognize the Lord's sheep, whether in or out of the nominal churches, as our brethren and sisters; and we urge all in the name of our Master to come out – jump the fence or break it down, and come out into the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled with any yoke of bondage. Thus free, we find his yoke easy and our burden light. If all denominational lines and fences and names were obliterated, all Christians would stand just where we stand now, each taught of God through his Word, and each one a brother who exhibits the Spirit of the Head.
All of these sects are condemned to destruction, and the hour of their downfall has come. It will cause pain and distress to all who are worshiping and serving these systems of men, instead of God; but it will be a blessing in disguise, for thus they will be liberated and brought to a refreshing knowledge of God. "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins," and that ye receive not of her plagues." Rev. 18:4.
Thus you see we are not a sect, and that if all Christians would do as we do in this matter, all sects (divisions) would disappear, and we would be all one in Christ. Soon under the lead of one Master and Teacher, Jesus, we should all come to see things from his standpoint.
Q. If men are to be restored to perfection, and the earth is to become as the Garden of Eden, I suppose that you teach that men will not go to heaven, but that God created the earth for man, and man for earthly existence?
A. Yes, but do not forget that the church changes its nature, from animal to spiritual, from human to divine. These are called "new creatures" – a new creation. The new creatures when perfected will be like and with Jesus – spiritual beings, and in a heavenly or spiritual condition – a height of glory incomprehensible to the human mind – an exhibition of the exceeding riches of God's grace. The earth then blossoming as the rose, will be all that could be wished for, by those possessing the human nature. See chart in "Food for Thinking Christians," page 105.
In answer to numerous inquiries we would say that this work is progressing, and will issue as soon as possible, though doubtless that will not be for some time. We desire that when issued it may be not only a book for study, but valuable for reference on all Bible topics. We request your patience. page 8
Realizing the necessity of helps in Bible study, as needful as tools to the mechanic, we have for some time past made it our business to seek and negotiate for some of the more indispensable helps at wholesale rates or less, for the benefit of our readers, very many of whom could not afford a large outlay.
We have heretofore mentioned the superior value of The Emphatic Diaglott, a literal translation of the New Testament, which furnishes in addition the Greek text, and a word-for-word English translation of the same – very valuable to a Greek scholar, and doubly so to the student who is not. We still have some copies of this work slightly damaged on inside of cover (scarcely noticeable) which we can mail you for $1.50 per copy, the usual price of which is $4. This we consider superior to all other helps.
"Young's Bible Concordance" gives each word in order under its Hebrew or Greek original, with the literal English meaning of each. A very valuable work for careful students. By express, $1.75; by mail, 51c. extra for postage. Cloth bound.
Oxford Teacher's Bibles. – We can supply you with any of these at the wholesale price. We have one job lot of these at $1.30 per copy. They contain partial concordance, maps, etc. Limp cover, gilt edge, small sized type.
We have a fund which is spent as fast as it accumulates, in printing and distributing tracts, slips, and extra-sized editions of the "TOWER," such as this number, free. We state this in order that if any have a money talent and think favorably of this method, they may have the privilege of sharing with us in these methods of preaching the "good tidings of great joy."
This October number is a little larger than our usual issue. We send out this month 400,000 copies, and as it will be read by many totally unacquainted with the views presented, we desire to give them sufficient mental food to excite an appetite for more, which we will be glad to furnish on application.