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The October number of ZION'S WATCH TOWER will partake of a missionary character. We will be sending out a very large issue to new readers – about two hundred thousand in all. If you desire you may share in the work of scattering the "good tidings of great joy," by sending copies of this missionary number to your Christian friends. Order as many as you can use judiciously, or send us their addresses and we will supply them.
The battle between truth and error still rages fiercely. Time-honored errors are worshiped, and earnestly defended, while new unfoldings of truth, as well as the old foundation principles of true faith, are being attacked on every hand, not only by the enemies of God, but by those who verily think they are doing God service. Surely we are in the "evil day," of which we were forewarned that it would be very difficult to withstand the assaults of error. (Read Eph. 6:11-18.) This should forearm and prepare us. The prophet Malachi says (chap. 3:2) of this "Day of the Lord" in which we are living – "But who may abide the day of his coming (presence, after arrival), and who shall stand when he appeareth (a presence made known, but not necessarily by natural sight. Thus, Jehovah appeared to Abram; i.e., made known his presence, the same Heb. word, raah, Gen. 17:1), for he is like a refiner's fire and like fuller's soap. And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver (symbol of truth – he shall purge out error from truth dross from silver) and he shall purify the sons of Levi" (typical of believers).
Seeing from the TOWER how the enemy endeavors to lull some to sleep with ease, comfort, and prosperity, in the matters of this life; how he perplexes and overcharges others in this world's busy cares; and how he seeks to draw others from the truth by error, we lift up the voice and cry aloud to those who have an ear to hear, saying: "We ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip." Let us renew our vigilance, lest even now, when the "goal" is almost won, we should be deceived and allured from our racecourse. Let us, dear brethren, lay aside every weight and hindrance of earthly kind, and run with patience for the heavenly prize – unseen but eternal. What manner of persons ought we to be who have so much light on God's Word and plan, and such grand anticipations for the future; how separate from the world and its aims and ambitions?
To stand – to maintain our standing – to keep on the armor of God – we need to have much and close communion with God, not only in the way of talking to him (prayer), but also and especially by listening to what he says to us (through his Word).
We would suggest the following plan to you all, viz: that during the next six weeks you take up the following important subjects, both for your private study and more public discussion at your meetings: –
Our view of the Scripture teaching on the above subjects you will find in your back numbers of ZION'S WATCH TOWER. "The Lord will bless each in proportion as he earnestly and candidly seeks to know what saith the Scriptures. "He that seeketh findeth."
It is claimed that the name Thyatira means "sweet savor of labor." We think it applies to the first part of the period during which the church was said to be in the wilderness; the time also in which the papacy was in power. It would thus cover the period during which the true church, purified by persecution, relieved of its ordinary load of lazy dead-heads, and untrammeled by the class who always choose the popular side, was fully harnessed and faithfully laboring in the Lord's work. Many evidently had more zeal than knowledge, but they were faithful to the light they had. "These things sayeth the Son of God."
This is a more emphatic declaration of who the speaker is, than in any previous message. It was necessary. A usurper had arisen, who, as foretold by Daniel, had "a mouth speaking great things." Claiming to be the Vicar of Christ, he assumed to speak as the mouth-piece of God.
Our Lord here announces himself as speaking through his written Word – his only authorized authority. This declaration would call to mind the words of Paul: "If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."
"Eyes as a flame of fire." Expressive of their piercing brightness. Despised and persecuted for the truth, as the little faithful company were, by those who claimed to be the church of God, it was a cheering thought to know that their exalted head "seeth not as man seeth"; but "the Lord knoweth them that are his." "His feet are like to polished brass." The description here is very like that of the spiritual being seen by Daniel [10:6]: "Eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in color to polished brass." This metal was perhaps the most useful and enduring known to the ancients. It seems as if he would say to them: Fear not in [R389 : page 1] all your terrible journey of 1260 years in the wilderness, lo! I am with you; we shall walk together; I will be your companion and guide. "I know thy works, and thy love and faith and service and patience, and thy last works are more than the first." This is generous praise, and shows the Lord's appreciation of the faithful labors of the true church of this period. The language is quite similar to that used in addressing the first church, with the apparent recognition that works of Thyatira were even more abundant than those of Ephesus. "But I have against thee that thou sufferest the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and seduces my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things offered to idols."
The Bible is a wonderful book. We find in it a faithful record of human history, and many curious events, sometimes so strange as to be almost or quite disbelieved by the natural man. Various attempts have been made to prove the Bible unhistorical; that while it taught spiritual truths, it was not intended to teach history, science, etc., and was in those directions entirely unreliable. The light of modern research and criticism is fast scattering such infidelity, and proving, day by day, the antiquity and reliability of the Book of books. Not only is its historical and scientific truthfulness shining out clearly, but there also appears a strangely deeper vein of truth which seals its supernatural origin, by revealing the astonishing fact, that that history was a living, speaking, prophetic pantomime – a prophecy acted out in type by living characters. Even their faults and misdeeds faithfully noted (to the disgust of some over-particular people) being apparently necessary to fill up the anti-type.
The history of Elijah, and his relations with Ahab and Jezebel, is one of these prophetic pictures, seen not in vision, but in real characters. As this type is familiar to many of our readers, and will be treated fully soon for the benefit of all, we only take space to note a few of the prophetic features.
Jezebel, as the nourisher and protector of the prophets of Baal, is the type of the Papal Church, the mother of abominations. 1 Kings 18:19; 2 Kings 9:22. Ahab, her husband, the king of Israel, represents the kings or kingdoms of Europe who committed spiritual fornication with the "mother church."
The Elijah of Malachi 4, is evidently the Gospel church in its militant condition, and which must be fully come – filled up. Rom. 11:25 – before the trouble spoken of can fairly begin, seeing that they assist in pouring out the plagues. The three-and- a-half years of drouth and famine foretold by Elijah (during which he was miraculously fed) were typical of the three-and-a-half "times" or symbolic years of spiritual drouth and famine foretold by Amos (8:11), during the combined reign of the Babylonian Jezebel and her kingly paramours. [R389 : page 2]
If we compare Dan. 7:25; 12:7, with Rev. 11:2,3,9,12, and 12:6,14, we will find that they measure the same length of time. In symbolic language a "time" is composed of twelve months, of thirty years each (a day thus symbolizing a year). A symbolic year is 360 literal years, and 3½ of these years, or 3½ times 360 is 1260. Also 42 months multiplied by 30 days to a month is 1260 symbolic years. There is abundant proof that this is the way God intended us to calculate symbolic time.
We thus see that the flight of the true children into the wilderness, from the face of the false church during 1260 years, while the harlot reigned a queen, and lived deliciously with the kings of earth, was clearly foretold in Elijah's flight from the face of Jezebel, and the 3½ years of famine. 1 Kings 19:3, also 17:1 – with Luke 4:25.
The description of Jezebel in this message exactly fits the teaching of Rome. "To eat things offered to idols." How could the Pagan ideas taught by the Papacy, and clung to by Protestantism, be better described? The natural immortality of all men, as first taught by the most beastly of idolaters – the Egyptians – the eternity of sin; and, worst of all, the character of God so degraded that no heathen monstrosity ever invented by pagan priest-craft could compare with it. Instead of a loving Father, a vindictive Giant, kind indeed to his followers [are not the heathen so?], but infinitely cruel to, not his enemies alone, but also to those who, never having heard of him, could neither like nor dislike him. True, we were told that he – or rather his Son – was love personified; but this idea was so mixed up with the hideous doctrine of "eternal torment" that the result was Babylon [confusion]. "She teaches and seduces my servants to commit fornication."
Churches are continually typified in the Scriptures by women, so the teaching alluded to is the following and union with some of the daughters of Babylon. So successful has been this seduction that Protestants generally would rather associate with an immoral member of an orthodox church, or a member of the body of anti-Christ, than a faithful and consistent Christian, who has thrown off the fetters of sectarianism.
"And I gave her TIME that she might repent; and she willeth not to repent of her fornication. Behold, I cast her into a bed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation [see Rev. 2:21,22] if they repent not of HER works." [Sinaitic, Vatican, and Ephraim MSS., and other best authorities: "HER WORKS."]
The time given for repentance must date, we think, from the dawn of the light of the Reformation. Strange to say, just about 365 years have passed away since Luther began to preach against the errors of Rome. On the 31st day of October, 1517, he placed his ninety-five theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg. In a few weeks the theses were known throughout Christendom, having been translated into several languages. This is considered the beginning of the Reformation in Germany. Now, we see the force of the language of our Lord in this message.
"I gave her [a] time that she might repent." A "time," 360 years from the first clear rays of light through Bro. Luther, brings us to the hour when our Lord said to the nominal Gospel Church – as shown by the parallels – "Your house is left unto you desolate." If we read the signs of the times aright they have already entered the "affliction" promised. "And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he who searcheth the reins and hearts; and I will give to you every one according to your works."
Rome, in the days of Thyatira, endeavored to kill Thyatira's children with literal death; and the Lord cheers them by the assurance that the reverse would finally take place; and that while those who had imbibed that persecuting spirit of Jezebel would be stricken with spiritual death [the anti-type of the 450 priests of Baal whom Jezebel fed, and whom Elijah destroyed], she (all having the spirit of Thyatira) would receive the glorious reward according to your works. This changed condition of things will also reveal to "all the churches" who it is that is doing the sifting work. "But to you I say: to the rest which are in Thyatira, as many as have not this teaching; who know not the deep things of Satan (as they say); I put upon you no other burden; but that which ye have, hold fast till I come."
It will be noticed that there is a peculiarity in the use of the expression "deep things." There are apparently certain ideas which "they" call deep things [of God] which our Lord calls by their proper name: "deep things of Satan."
When we speak to a certain class about God's dealings with mankind, and of the justice [?] of consigning the ignorant to everlasting misery, as imputed to our heavenly Father, we are at once told that we cannot fathom God's purpose in allowing all this sin and misery; that he has not revealed his plans; that our reasonings are mere speculation, the whole matter belongs to the "deep things" of God, which he has not revealed. "Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard," etc.; not knowing that Paul continues: "but God hath revealed them unto us by his spirit."
Although knowing that anti-Christ has loaded "Our Father's" name with odium, and his character with infamy, they still persist in asserting that it is not our business to attempt to clear him; he will do that himself on the day of judgment, when, according to their theology, it will be too late to do anybody any good.
We, who see the plan of the ages, might be content to wait; but we have a right to expect that those who believe that the world is now on probation should do all in their power to place God's character and dealings in a proper light before the world. We would be ashamed to treat an earthly friend so, how much more the "friend above all others"? Thank God we have not learned this "voluntary humility."
"I love to tell the story,[R390 : page 2]
Because I know it's true."
To the faithful laborers in Thyatira he lays no other "burden." He began his message by commending them for their "works" and "service." He ends by telling them to patiently carry this burden, holding fast what they have "till I come." We think we know some still living who have the Thyatira spirit. "And he that overcomes, and he that to him will I give authority over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of a potter are they dashed to pieces, as I also have received of my Father."
The promise to the overcomers of the Thyatira age is peculiarly appropriate. Rome, the false church, was at this time in the height of her glory, claiming to be the kingdom of God; that Christ's reign had begun – through his vice-gerent, the Pope. Claiming, of course, the promises given to those who reign with Christ, she did literally rule the nations with a rod of iron, dashing in pieces whom she would.
The type (in a sense) of the iron rule and great power of the true kingdom was thus signified [made signs of – shown by signs – Rev. 1:1] before their eyes; making even their terrible persecution a reminder of the glory and power they were called to inherit. "And I will give him the morning star."
These who would continue to "work" in harmony with God's plan (which they could only do by walking in the light of present truth), are promised not only increasing light, but advanced light – as if before it was due; also the first sure proof of "Day Dawn," and of the approach of the glorious Sun of Righteousness who shall rise – not to bring DARKNESS, (Is John 1:9 fulfilled?) – not to destroy, but with healing in his wings. "The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."
Some statements of the Bible seem as startling and impossible as the dream of the philosopher's stone. Surely, it is as easy to turn all things into gold as to verify the promise that "no good thing will God withhold from them that walk uprightly." Where are the people who possess all good things? Not the adherents of any favored sect, for then all controversy would cease, and faith give place to sight. Shall we take refuge in the limitation of the promise to those who walk uprightly, and reply that until we find persons who never waver, stoop, or stumble, it cannot be said the promise has failed? But it is addressed to fallible mortals, and by the upright must be meant those who, in spite of failing, honestly and habitually try to be right with God. Do persons enjoy all things generally regarded as good? This is not the teaching of the Bible. It is unfair to interpret any book or document by the meaning we choose to place on some sentence opposed to the general tenor of it. The Bible in all its teachings and narratives shows that "many are the afflictions of the righteous." No one is invited to be a Christian by the bribe of receiving all the things the world accounts "good."
What then, is the meaning of the promise? That is good which is for our complete and lasting advantage. A bed in a garden may be cultivated, a wing of a house decorated, a member of the body cared for, so as to entail injury on the whole. It would not, therefore, be a good thing. A child may be gratified by a berry or a toy, which may prove a fatal injury. Bitter medicine, a painful operation, a difficult task, though regarded by the child as very evil, may be good things, no wise parent would withhold. As the physical nature is developed by exercise, and the mental by education, so the spiritual by the discipline of trial. If thus, we are trained to the conquest of self-will, to filial submission, and confidence toward God, it is a good thing of supreme value.
The present life is the childhood, the training time of eternity. If, then, a transitory grief helps to fit us for everlasting bliss, it must be good, and not evil. But who can tell what is thus good? We feel present pain and pleasure, but cannot see their spiritual results. It is not necessary, it is not possible that we should. God does, and he has the power so to overrule all things as to secure the desired end. We do not argue the matter with unbelievers. They point to our poverty, sickness, disappointments, desires unsatisfied, prayers apparently refused; and in the faith God's Word warrants and his Spirit produces, we reply with Faber:"Ills that God blesses are my good –
All unblessed good is ill;
And all is right that seems most wrong,
If it be His dear will."
This is the alchemy that turns sorrow into joy, sickness into health, death into life. It is illustrated in the history of God's children. We see it in the case of Joseph, Moses, David, and Asaph. (Psa. 73.) St. Paul learned to glory in the thorn in the flesh.
Things are not what they seem. God alone perceives their true value and lasting results. He is infinitely wise, and cannot err; infinitely strong, and cannot fail; infinitely kind, and cannot neglect. He will keep back nothing that is good, nor give us what would injure. This is our culture time.
That is best which promotes the fruitfulness in which God delights, and which will be our own true glory by his grace. Christians must not judge of things as men do whose possessions and hopes are limited by the present. We are pilgrims, and must estimate circumstances in view of their influence, not so much in making us comfortable on our way as in helping us home. Nobler aims involve severer toil; fiercer conflicts, costlier sacrifice. If we seek a nobler goal, let us not envy others their smoother path. If we would win a richer prize, we must fight a sterner battle. If we would attain a loftier height, we must clamber up sharper crags.– Newman Hall.
Many despotic and evil governments have tried to hold themselves in power by misrepresenting what would result from a change of government. Thus Satan – "the prince of this world" – has deluded mankind in general, teaching that, though they indeed have a hard lot now, it would be a thousand-fold worse if Jesus were to come and establish his kingdom. Hence, not only the worldly fear the coming into power of earth's rightful Ruler, but many of God's children, too, fear, instead of love, that for which they pray – "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as in heaven."
Thus, in everything it has been the deceivers' policy to misrepresent our loving Father's works and plans. It is astonishing, too, how much more readily even Christians receive Satan's lie than God's truth. And God allows his character to be traduced – probably designing that when, in coming ages, "the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth," then the magnitude of his love shall shine with increased splendor by contrast with Satan's slanders.
Wait, O thou weary one, a little longer,
A few more years – it may be only days;
Thy patient waiting makes thee all the stronger;
Eternity will balance all delays.
Wait, O thou suffering one, thy days of sorrow
Bring to thy soul its richest gain.
If thou a Christian art, a brighter morrow
Will give thee ten-fold joy for all thy pain.
Wait, O thou anxious one, the cloud that hovers
In gathering gloom above thy aching head
Is sent of God in mercy, and He covers
Thee with His heavenly mantle overspread.
Be patient and submissive; each disaster
Will bring thee nearer to thy loving Lord.
These trials make thee like thy blessed Master,
Who knows them all, and will his grace afford.
Be patient and submissive; strength is given
For every step along the weary way,
And for it all thou'lt render praise in heaven,
When dreary night gives place to perfect day.
Yes, perfect day, the day of God, eternal,
When not a shadow shall flit o'er the scene;
In that fair land where all is bright and vernal,
And we will be with Christ, and naught
Wait, then, dear heart, control thy sad emotion,
God will subdue each angry wind and wave,
And when the voyage ends across life's ocean,
Into the haven of sweet rest will save.
"Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom. 5:1.)
Though a familiar text, we would that its full import were grasped more clearly by all God's children. It would be a source of pleasure and continual rejoicing to them all. It would be a firm foundation upon which the other teachings of God's Word would rest immovable, secure – a foundation which could not be moved, and from which our faith-building could not be shaken by every wind of doctrine.
What is a justified condition, but a condition of guiltlessness? The act of justifying is the clearing or purifying or cleansing from sin. Any one who is pure, clean, perfect, or righteous needs not a justifier, for such are just of themselves.
There has been but one "Just One" among men – our Lord Jesus. All others were sinners by nature, having inherited condemnation through Adam. All were unjust. Being unjust, they were all under condemnation to death. Being unclean, all are cut off from fellowship and communion with the holy and righteous God. The whole world lieth in condemnation – condemned to death. (Rom. 5:16,18.)
Christ died the just (one) for the unjust (many) that he might bring us to God. (1 Pet. 3:18.) He brings us into harmony and fellowship with God by restoring us to the just or sinless condition, which Adam, our representative, lost for himself and us. Thus, Jesus becomes our Justifier, and justifies us from all things. (Acts 13:39.) Thus "being made free from sin," we may have communion with God, and can do works acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 2:5.)
But it is objected – the text says we are justified by FAITH, and it does not say that our justification from sin required anything but FAITH. The text says nothing about the Just One, Jesus, dying to justify the unjust many.
We reply that if any single text contained all the truth, the balance of Scripture would be useless – that one text would contain all the value. No single text contains all the truth. It is one of the fruitful causes of grievous errors that the Bible is not read more as a connected whole. But you are mistaken, our text does teach the necessity of a Redeemer to justify the unjust. Read the last clause: "justified...through our Lord Jesus Christ." Yes, we were all sinners – we could not justify ourselves. We could only be justified by one who would pay our penalty for us; then we might go free. It was for this cause that Jesus died, "the just for the unjust."
Do you inquire then, What has faith to do with the justification? We reply: Faith is the acceptance or belief of something. To be a proper faith, the thing believed must have proper and substantial reasons as a ground or basis of faith. A sound basis of faith is the Word of God. In our text, faith is the handle by which we accept of justification. We know that we are justified – or cleared from all Adamic condemnation – and reckoned of God as perfect, because he says so. He says, "There is, therefore, now, no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." There was, and still is, condemnation to death resting on all others. We escape the condemnation, by reason of Jesus having paid the penalty of sin; and his redemption becomes applicable to every man as he comes to a knowledge of it, and accepts of it. That is, as soon as we accept of Jesus' death as our ransom price, that soon we realize or believe ourselves "justified from all things"; that soon we may know ourselves as no longer condemned sinners and aliens from God, but as his children, freed from condemnation by the full and sufficient ransom.
Would to God, dear ones, that you all could realize yet more fully this "no condemnation," full "justification," this unblamable condition in which we stand who believe that Christ "was delivered (to death) for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." (Rom. 4:25.)
The justified by faith are very few, because for various reasons few believe that they are justified. Some who believe in the reality of sin, that all are sinners, and that Christ died for our sins, and redeemed us from the condemned condition, cannot realize themselves as being now, on that account, free from sin having no condemnation, and as pure and spotless as the snow in God's estimation. The only thing these lack, and it is an important lack, without which they cannot have full peace with God, is faith to realize or accept of the righteousness of Christ as the covering of all sin. Let us remember that "without faith it is impossible to please God," (Heb. 11:6.) or to "have peace (rest) with God." (Rom. 5:1.)
Another class who are not treated of by our text, and who have no right to comfort from it, do not believe that the race is under condemnation, and regard sin as a myth. These cannot be justified, because they do not recognize themselves as unjust.
Another class to whom this text does not apply, includes those who admit that man is a sinner and needs to be justified, but who claim that sinners are justified unconditionally by the Father. That is, that God concluded that he would revoke his original sentence of death, and by his mighty power turn all sinners into saints. But if this were God's plan there would have been no necessity for the death of our Lord Jesus – the Just for the unjust. That this is an unscriptural faith, is readily seen, when we find that nowhere does God say that he will unconditionally pardon sin. Those who hold this view have no need of the last clause of our text – Justified...THROUGH Jesus Christ our Lord.
Another class to whose theory this text would not fit, claim, that while all are sinners, and need to be justified or cleared from their sin; yet that this is effected not by unconditional pardon by Jehovah, nor by a ransom for sin, and the payment of sin's penalty by Jesus, but that each man in the act of dying, will pay his own penalty, and therefore be free from sin. They who hold this view have no right to use our text, for it speaks of justification (cleansing from sin) "through Jesus Christ" – something Jesus has done for us, and not something for us to do for ourselves, is the basis of the hope and peace of our text.
Truly, it has been written that the wisdom of God is foolishness with men, and the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. (1 Cor. 2:14; and 3:19.) Thus it has ever been. Men have been searching for centuries to prove that man is susceptible of a moral training which would bring him into harmony with God; or that he could make satisfaction for his own sins by means of penance now, or by the act of dying, thus restoring himself to favor with his holy Maker who cannot look upon sin with any degree of allowance. Others rely on the love of God, vainly hoping that his infinite love will override his infinite justice, causing him to revoke his own original decree.
All these, while they may lead astray good, candid minds, and, by their human sophistrising, may overthrow the faith of some in Jesus as the Redeemer, who "bought us with his own precious blood," they can never make void the testimony of God's Word, nor permanently lead astray those taught of God through his Word. These see in Jehovah a God infinite both in Justice and in Love – so just that he will "by no means clear (pardon) the guilty," (Exod. 34:7) yet so loving that he gave his only begotten son to die for our sins, and to redeem us from death, the sin penalty.
Let us hold fast to the blessed Bible doctrine of Justification (freeing from condemnation) through our Lord Jesus Christ, accepting of it by faith. As it is written, so we believe that Jesus "put away sin by the sacrifice of himself"; and "without shedding of blood there is no remission (no "putting away," or "justifying"). (Heb. 9:22,26.)
Thus upheld in our faith by Jehovah's Word, we will not be carried about by every wind of doctrine which Satan stirs in this "evil day" to lead us from our anchorage in Christ. Let us now look at the subject from another standpoint of view:
Of so-called Christendom, probably one-half believe that Jesus was merely an imperfect (sinful) man like other men, except that he had more than ordinary ability – a man superior to his day – a man who, as a teacher of morals, properly ranked with Confucius, Socrates, and Plato, though, they think, less philosophical than the two last. His death they regard as remarkable for cruelty and injustice, but aside from the fact that he was a martyr to principles of truth, they recognize no merit in it. He died, say they, as any other man dies, and for the same reason. As a member of the same human family, he would have died as any other man sooner or later, anyhow. They say, the value of Jesus' life and death consists entirely in the moral teaching, influence, and example which it affords mankind, showing to all men that they should lead pure, moral lives, and rather sacrifice life than principle. Of this view are almost all connected with the "Universalist" and "Unitarian" denominations, as well as a large proportion in all other denominations, sometimes called "Liberal" and "Independent" Christians – "advanced thinkers," etc.
These scout the idea that Christ died the just for the unjust; that "Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures"; that "with his stripes we are healed"; that "the Lord (Jehovah)...laid on him the iniquity of us all"; (Isa. 53:5,6.) that "he was delivered (to death) for our offences." They endeavor to explain away these and a hundred [R392 : page 3] other similar Scriptures. Failing in this, they give us plainly their idea; viz.: that such texts and such ideas of the object of Jesus' death, while good enough in past ages, will not stand the "light" and "thought" of this nineteenth century.
With claims of superior wisdom and benevolence, they give us three advanced views on the subject. First, God is too benevolent, too loving, to require a penalty for sin of his poor weak creatures. [They overlook the fact that the God of love has permitted the evils and miseries of the last six thousand years to come upon the race, as part of the "wages of sin."]
The second view is, that the act of dying and being entombed pays the sin penalty – that thus each pays for his own sin, and is then entitled to life, and needs no redeemer to die for his sins, or to ransom him from the power of the grave. (Hos. 13:14.) [An absolute proof of the falsity of this view is furnished in the case of Jairus' daughter (Matt. 9:18,23-25), the widow's son, and Lazarus (Luke 7:11-15; John 11:44), all of whom having died, and thereby, according to this theory, paid their own penalty, should be free from death after Jesus had restored life to them. But they all died again. This is proof that the death of the condemned does not make reconciliation for sin, nor entitle to a release from its penalty. The just must die for the unjust; the Lamb of God must take away the sin of the world ere they can have a right to everlasting life.
The third view, though also incorrect, yet by far the most near to the Scriptural view, is, that the ills of the present life, coupled with a sufficiency of punishment in a future life, to be just and effective, and to reward each, will be the wages of sin.
We wish every reader to note carefully that the "nineteenth century light," of which these so-called "advanced thinkers" boast, is an earthly light. It is such intellectual philosophy and science, falsely so called, against which we are warned. (1 Tim. 6:20.) It not only ignores, but opposes the heavenly light – THE WORD OF GOD. Among the strong advocates of this view are Henry Ward Beecher and many of the great; and adherents with these [R392 : page 4] are the rich and the wise, according to this world; but they cannot boast the words of Jesus, or Paul, or James, or Peter, as proving or harmonizing with their "light." No; but they are the ones to whom we refer for our faith. Their united testimony is, that "There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved" than the name of Jesus. (Acts 4:10-12.) How sad that some who once stood with us in full reliance on the ransom – the precious blood of Christ – as the basis of forgiveness of sins and future RESTITUTION from its penalty, have recently fallen into this grievous error.
The argument of this large class of "advanced thinkers" is completely overthrown by the legitimate conclusions of their own arguments. Assuming that Jesus died, not to pay a penalty for us, they say he simply became our leader and example. They all claim that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and others, who lived and died before Jesus' day, are saved in the same sense, in the same way, and receive as great blessings and rewards as saints who live since Jesus set the example. Do they not thus believe? You answer, yes. Then we inquire, what advantage resulted from Jesus' example? If they of preceding ages got along just as well without it as we who have it, and if his death did not satisfy any penalty or legal claims of justice against us as sinners, we should be forced to the conclusion that Christ died in vain. If God had been as wise as these teachers, and had possessed some of the nineteenth century "light," the inference is that he would not have sent his only begotten Son to become a man, and to "taste death for every man."
The regular and attentive reader will notice that the foregoing is not our view of the teachings of Scripture. We believe that by the death of Christ the human nature of all before and since his day is justified to life; but that we living since his day, have the advantage, that by following his example in sacrificing the human nature, we may become partakers of a higher nature, viz.: a spiritual – even the divine nature. We merely used the argument of the opposition to overthrow their own theory.
But while we oppose, and always expect to oppose, above every other and minor heresy, the views which, as above mentioned, deny that our Lord bought us with his own precious blood (1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Pet. 1:19; 2 Pet. 2:1,2), and every other theory which ascribes salvation from death to any other name than Jesus, and by any other means than that "he died for our sins – the Just for the unjust; yet for very many who hold these views, we have much sympathy; in fact, we admire many of them. Controlled by benevolent reasoning powers, and confronted by the unreasonable and unscriptural doctrines of so-called orthodoxy, they could scarcely avoid an opposite extreme. It is the inclination of our present demoralized human nature to fly from one extreme to another. We only get the golden mean of truth when we let the human will and human wisdom cease, and accept God's word as its own interpreter.
The views from which these generally fled, represent the faith of about the other half of Christendom, and are termed "Orthodox" views. The belief of this class, in a few words, is as follows: Sin is an awful reality, entailing upon all, through Adam, a penalty which must be paid, or not one of the race could ever be restored to life or communion with God. God, foreseeing that none of us could pay the price of our own or of each other's sins (because all were condemned), provided a ransom or substitute (Both words have the same meaning.) in the person of "the man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all," and "redeemed us" by dying "for our sins" – "the Just for the unjust."
To all this we agree; thus far we have Scripture; but we can go no further with "Orthodoxy," for when they come to explain the nature of the penalty which Jesus paid for us, they leave both divine and human wisdom. They claim, unscripturally, that the wages of sin is everlasting torture and misery; some believing that it will be mental torture, and others that it will be physical – that God, before he had created man, had, in some distant locality, fitted up a place where the sinner may be tortured throughout eternity in surging billows of fire and flame.
Somewhat less awful is the view of Papacy – that purgatory is a place of dreadful torture, which will end when the culprit has had sufficient punishment. Papacy found it necessary to use strong and forcible arguments when she undertook to convert the whole world; and Protestantism sought to make the inducements of Christianity still more striking by preaching an endless torture.
Any benevolent mind, unbiased by prejudice, even though unenlightened by revelation, must see that there is something wrong in this theory; and positive proof of its falsity is furnished, when the fruitless attempt is made to harmonize this endless torture theory of men, with the substitution or ransom teaching of Scripture. By holding and mixing this truth (substitution) with this error (eternal torment), the truth is made to appear untrue. Thus, if the wages due to sinners was eternal torture in hell, and if Jesus became the sinners' substitute or ransom – then what? Then Christ is in hell suffering that torture, and must forever thus suffer to all eternity. Then he is not in heaven, at the right hand of God. (Mark 16:19.)
This conclusion is, of course, preposterous and unscriptural; every logical mind sees this, and to escape the dilemma, some claim that Jesus suffered more agony in the few hours of his crucifixion than all men (over a hundred and forty billions) would be capable of suffering unitedly throughout eternity. Others seeing that this is as absurd as the former view, discard both the eternal torment and the substitution or ransom, and become disbelievers in the Bible as God's revelation.
Still others, to compromise with reason, discard substitution, but roll the human tradition of eternal torment and purgatory as a sweet morsel under their tongue, determined to hold it at all hazards. A few, of whom we thank our Father it is our privilege to be, let go of the human tradition of eternal torture, but hold fast to the Bible teaching of Substitution, viz.: That Jesus "gave himself a ransom (Greek – antilutron – an equivalent price. See also "Webster's Dictionary.") for all" mankind. (1 Tim. 2:6.)
Now, briefly, let us see why Christ died. We see that others either make out that his death was in vain, or, by tacking on eternal torment as the penalty he paid for us, they make void the Word of God by their traditions.
First, then, we accept of substitution in its fullest sense, and claim that when "Christ died for our sins" – "the Just for the unjust" – when "the chastisement of our peace was upon him" – when "he was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities," he took the place of the sinner before God, and suffered exactly the penalty of our Adamic sin – exactly what otherwise the entire race must have suffered. But now comes the question, What are the wages of sin which he must meet for us, in order to be our ransom or substitute? The Scriptures reply, "The wages of sin is DEATH." (Rom. 6:23.) Not life in torment, but the extinction of life is death.
To this conclusion all Scripture harmonizes, viz.: that his death was the ransom which justifies all mankind to life, and makes possible (in God's due time) the resurrection of all that are in their graves. (John 5:28.) It was not the sufferings of Gethsemane, nor the weariness of his three-and-a-half years' ministry that [R393 : page 4] redeemed us – it was his death. "The Son of man came to give his life a ransom for many." (Matt. 20:28.)
The Just one might have suffered ten times as much as he did, yet had it not culminated in death, it all would not have redeemed the unjust. The wages of sin was not torture, but death; hence to be our substitute, he must die, thus paying exactly our penalty. For this cause Christ died, the just for the unjust.
The death of Jesus might have been accomplished in a less painful way, and it would have been equally our ransom price; but it pleased the Father that he should be not only the Redeemer, but also the Restorer of men. Hence, he must have an experience in our sufferings, in order to be able to sympathize with us, "For it became him (Jehovah)...in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation (Jesus) perfect (on the spiritual plane) through sufferings." (Heb. 2:10.)
Beloved, let no one take from you, by any means, this fundamental teaching of Scripture, this basis of all our hopes, as well as the basis of the world's hope of restitution. If Jesus did not become our ransom – our substitute – if the sacrifice of his humanity was not the "equivalent price" necessary to recover Adam and all who lost life through him as their representative head, none need expect to go free from death: Then our hope of a resurrection of the dead is vain. If the penalty of our sins is eternal torment, then Jesus did not pay it, and we must each expect to suffer it. But if, as the Scriptures teach, though so few believe it, the wages of sin is death, then we know that Jesus did pay our penalty. He died, or was cut off from life, "not for himself," but for us, to give his life a ransom for many. (See Dan. 9:26.)
This is Paul's argument, and when he would mention the very fundamentals of Christian faith, he says: "I delivered unto you first of all... how that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures." (1 Cor. 15:3.)
Referring to the preceding article, we would remark that no one can have a proper or full comprehension of Justification, unless he sees that as a race, we were in a condemned condition – condemned to death, not to torment; and now we are made happy by the Gospel (glad tidings) that Jesus was delivered (to death) for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." (Rom. 4:25.) We now know that since our penalty has been paid by our Redeemer, "God (the Father) is just to forgive us." He will not be unjust to withhold that right to life which has been purchased for us according to his own plan.
Notice how firmly Paul stood on this doctrine of a full release or justification, and notice that he bases it, not on Jehovah's rescinding the penalty, but on the fact that Christ died. Paul's argument is that it is the same Jehovah who once condemned us, that now declares us freed from sin – justified – and he accomplished our justification by not sparing his own Son, but freely delivering him up for us all. He says "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. [Consequently, if God justifies, no one has a right to condemn us.] Who is he that condemneth? [Tell such an one that] It is Christ that died." Tell such that we are redeemed from death – the penalty of sin – because "Christ died for our sins." (Read Rom. 8:32-34,1.)
Our Constantinople correspondent sends the following: – Since the days when Sultan Bajazet offered an asylum to the Spanish Jews flying from the stakes and scaffolds of Ferdinand II., there never has been promise of such a wholesale migration into the Ottoman dominions as there is at present. Already upward of a thousand Russian Jewish refugees are wandering homeless in the streets of Constantinople, and this, in spite of all efforts to stem, or rather to delay, the stampede until proper arrangements can be made to receive them. The two pilot fish of the exodus – Mr. Lawrence Oliphant and Mr. James Alexander – have made Constantinople their headquarters. As to the sincerity, and as to the disinterestedness, both pecuniary and personal, of these two gentlemen in their efforts to repatriate the Jews, there is not the slightest doubt. But as to the method of realizing the philanthropic object that both have at heart, Mr. Oliphant, and Mr. Alexander hold somewhat different views. It will be remembered that two years ago Mr. Oliphant in his work, "The Land of Gilead," advocated a beginning of the repatriation of the Jews by a settlement, under the auspices of a sort of joint-stock company, of a number of Jews from Eastern Europe and Asia in an agricultural colony situated in the territory which formerly belonged to the tribes of Reuben and Gad – a district comprising about a million and a half acres of rich alluvial soil, and bounded on the west by the Jordan and the Dead Sea. This most favored portion of Palestine is scarcely inhabited. It was once a portion of the great Hittite Empire of Western Asia, whose very existence had already been forgotten as far back as the days of classical antiquity, and whose greatness is only now just beginning to be revealed by modern research. Comparatively recent relics may also be found in the isolated eminences of this region, which contain reservoirs and cisterns constructed in Scriptural times, and which have fallen but slightly out of repair.ISLAM'S OPPORTUNITY.
Mr. Oliphant's scheme warmly commended itself to the Sultan as an opportunity for proving that Islam could be more tolerant to a persecuted race, and hence more compatible with modern civilization, than some of the foremost nations of Christendom; and also as a means of obtaining a well secured and increasing revenue from [R393 : page 5] a province that from time beyond memory had yielded nothing to the imperial exchequer. Mr. Oliphant was even feted at Yildiz Kiosque, and the signature of the Sultan to the firman repatriating the Jews was hourly expected. At this promising stage of the negotiation Mr. Oliphant's work, "The Land of Gilead," unfortunately appeared. The Sultan at once thought that he saw the germs of Jewish autonomy, backed by England and France, springing up in his already dwindling dominions. Naturally suspicious, and prone to see a "nigger on every fence," Abdul Hamid remembered that Mr. Oliphant was an Englishman, strongly backed by the late Lord Beaconsfield, by the Marquis of Salisbury, and by M. Waddington. Moreover, one of the numerous orthodox Moslem habitues of Yildiz Kiosque, singularly enough, translated to the Sultan various stirring passages from George Eliot's "Daniel Deronda," where the hopes and possibilities of a great Hebrew kingdom are so vividly portrayed. The wily sheik could have hit upon no better device to arouse the suspicions of the mystic, visionary mind of his imperial master. There was no longer any question at Yildiz of the repatriation of the Jews in Palestine; and Mr. Oliphant was henceforth regarded as a wolf in sheep's clothing, whose real mission was to insert an additional wedge in the already strained fabric of Ottoman autonomy. Three weeks ago Mr. Oliphant again appeared upon the scene. English influence being at the lowest known ebb at Constantinople, he is now urging the United States Minister – who is at present a persona gratissima at Yildiz Kiosque – to advocate the colonization scheme to Palestine; whither the Jews, for sentimental reasons, much prefer to go, and whither they can be transported at much cheaper rates than to America.MR. ALEXANDER'S VIEWS.
The modus operandi of Mr. Alexander is somewhat different. Mr. Alexander – himself an Israelite – represents Mr. Cazelet and other well known Jewish capitalists in England, Germany, and France, who believe that all purely humanitarian efforts must fail unless established upon a sound commercial basis. Mr. Alexander demands of the Sultan a concession, allowing him to construct a railway, tramways, and ordinary roads within the vilayets of Aleppo, Tripoli, and Damascus. The length of the railway from the ancient port of Tripoli to Damascus would be about two hundred miles; and it is proposed to obtain a grant of the uncultivated land along the entire length of the line for a distance extending two miles on each side of it, whenever such land belongs to the government. The whole of the profits accruing from the proposed railways are to go to the government. The opening up of such a route would speedily develop the wonderful resources of the country. The estimated cost of the line is about $50,000 per mile; $10,000,000 for the whole distance. For the construction of the railway, and the occupation of the conceded territory, which would amount to eight hundred square miles, employment and a resting place would be found for a large number of Jewish refugees. Should the government refuse to grant land in the above named vilayets, then the promoters of this scheme would take any other concession of land suitable for colonization purposes. M. Alexander and his backers are practical business men, and they are fully aware that any wholesale migration of Jews into Asia [R394 : page 5] Minor or Syria would involve the greatest misery and privation, unless immediate employment be provided for them beforehand. M. Alexander and his agents have lists containing several thousand names of Russian Jewish artisans and mechanics who desire to emigrate to Turkey. The moment that the concession is granted these men and their families will be transported by special steamers to Syria, and upon their arrival will at once receive their wages. The Grand Vizier sent a few days ago a most favorable report upon M. Alexander's scheme to the Sultan, and last Sunday the Minister of Foreign Affairs received the delegates of the Jewish artisans and mechanics of Odessa, and assured them that a peaceful home denied them in Russia would be accorded to them in Turkey.AN OFFER OF REFUGE.
The following is the translation of the letter of instructions written by the Porte to the Turkish Consuls: – "In all cases when Russian Jews express a desire to establish themselves in Turkey, the following conditions, which the Ottoman government imposes upon this immigration, shall be made known to them: – 1. The immigrants must be established in separate groups, and they are at liberty to settle anywhere in the Ottoman dominions with the exception of Palestine. 2. Without any exception or reserve whatever, they shall be subject to the laws of Turkey, and shall become Ottoman subjects." It should be remembered that the legal status of the Jews in Turkey is exactly the same as that of all other Ottoman subjects, whether Moslem or Christian. They have their own hakam bachi, or chief rabbi, who is the head of their nation in the whole Empire, and its official representative at the Porte. The hakam bachi enjoys the same rank and privileges as the Greek and Armenian patriarchs. It is a curious fact, that whenever the Jews have been oppressed in Turkey, the oppression has come, not from the Moslems, but from Christians; and then not from rivalry in commerce, but from fanaticism. Jews cannot remain in Greece on account of bad treatment; and thus far the Turkish government has proved itself to be the only Oriental government capable of maintaining order between the Christians and the Jews. During Easter week at Jerusalem, the Turkish authorities are obliged every year to send two regiments of infantry to prevent the Catholics and the Greeks from tormenting and killing the Jews, and in all Turkish towns the Jews are specially placed under the protection of municipal councils. In Constantinople it is by no means rare to find Jews intrusted with high official functions, and many of them form part of the Sultan's Privy Council; and of all other subjects of the Porte, the Jews have always been the most peaceful and easily governed.
THE JEWS IN RUSSIA. – The vast populations here now, for the most part, have but one word on their lips, and that word is – Palestine. Newspapers and pamphlets are issued daily, not only in pure Hebrew, but also in the Jewish dialect, so everyone may be able to get information on this all-absorbing topic. Books are offered for sale to learn the Arabic language; Hebrew maps of Palestine are hung up in shops, and Jews study them with great avidity. I have visited Russia on several previous occasions, but never have I witnessed before such a yearning for the land of their forefathers.
My friend, Dr. Benzion, agent of the British Society for the Jews, who is esteemed and beloved by many out of the 70,000 Jews that know him in this town, is rendering me invaluable assistance in my work. We have Jews with us from morning till evening; some come for the Gospel, others for information about Palestine, willing to place themselves under our leadership.
With reference to the persecution my brethren have suffered, it is difficult for human pen to describe the awful things that have taken place. I visited Balta, accompanied by my friend, Mr. Benzion; we were most cordially received by the leading Jews of the town. The Rabbi and principal members of the community called upon us, and gave us the names of the persons who have suffered so dreadfully. It was the hand of Providence alone that saved the Jews in that town from utter destruction. In their deeds of darkness, the persecutors spared neither age nor sex, and to give instances of the foul wrongs committed would only be revolting to humanity. I trust the authorities will bring the perpetrators of these crimes to condign punishment.A. STERNBERG.
Hotel du Nord, Odessa, Russia, June 5.
A private letter from one who has recently visited the persecuted Jews in Russia, whose numbers are counted there by millions, tells not only of their suffering, but of their deep desire to return to the land given to Abraham and his seed forever, and from which they have been long strangers because of their sins. We would fain hope that these sorrows are part of the plan of their tender, faithful God, of "alluring them into the wilderness and speaking to their hearts." (Hos. 2:14.) Truly, the ways of our God are past finding out.
OBSTACLE IN THE WAY OF THEIR GOING TO PALESTINE. – A letter in the Times of May 31, by Mr. Lawrence Oliphant, on the emigration of Russian Jews, is of much interest at the present critical juncture in the history of the "nation scattered and peeled." Writing from Constantinople, after having visited Gallicia and Roumania, he testifies to the strong and prevalent desire cherished by the mass of Russian Jews in favor of "wholesale emigration to Palestine." This desire is not confined to the poor, but is equally shared by the wealthy Hebrews, some of whom are prepared to subscribe largely towards the expense of transfer to the land of ancient promise.
An unexpected obstacle, however, has arisen, which, for the present, is likely to paralyze the national movement toward Palestine. Russian Jewish refugees are permitted to enter the Ottoman Empire only on condition that they will become Turkish subjects, and that they will not settle in that "province to which they are most strongly attached by religious association." Mr. Oliphant, after deploring this restriction, thus concludes his letter: –
Meanwhile, whether owing to unfounded suspicions, or to some still more occult reasons, the fact remains that no Jew is allowed by the Turkish Government to enter Palestine from Russia. In what manner the British nation can come to the relief of at least a million of people prepared for an exodus, but who are trembling in panic-stricken suspense till the way is opened for its accomplishment, it is for them to consider.
EMIGRATION TO SYRIA. – The terrible outrages upon the Jews in Russia have led to the formation of a Society for their relief, specially for the purpose of assisting them to North Syria. Of this Society the Earl of Shaftsbury is President, and the Viscountess Strangford, Lady President.
Mrs. Finn, widow of H. B. M., Consul at Jerusalem, said in a recent address: "Now, what is to be done for this persecuted people? We know that the Mansion House Fund was established for their immediate relief, and to send to America, but families are returning because they are obliged to eat forbidden food; and they say, we would rather die of persecution in Russia than disobey God's laws. Now, we have opened a fund with the purpose of sending them to Syria. The Sultan will not allow them to go to Palestine, by which he means Jerusalem and a little of the adjacent countries, so we may still send them to Syria and fields further abroad. But we want the money to buy this land. The other day I was offered £500 to buy land, and £200 extra to build houses on it; but we want (and can we not have?) at once £10,000 for this purpose. The Christians of England have only contributed one-ninth of the Mansion House Fund; is that what is expected of us? I entreat you all, the Christian women of England especially, to give something, be it ever so small."
England, resting securely in her island home, a republic in fact, a monarchy in form, and an empire in the vast extent of her possessions, is rocking with internal agitation. Ireland is almost a unit in determined aim and desperate plans to disfranchise the owners of her soil, and to free herself from British rule. Distress, terror, and pauperism mark her whole population, and assassinations, the most atrocious, are the exhibition of her weakness and her hate. The "no rent" cry is to some extent echoed through England, and communism is ripe through all the British realms.
France is constantly changing her cabinets, and her Republican Government is hated by rival claimants to the crown, of Napoleon, of Orleans, [R395 : page 5] or of the Bourbon. Communism, crushed out a few years since in seas of blood, is lifting again its defiant head, while the national revenge is nursed against Germany, and the determination fostered, to wipe out the disgrace of Sedan, and recover Alsace and Lorraine. At the same time, her designs on Tunis, and her precarious hold on Algiers, awaken the suspicions of Italy and Turkey, and cause divisions amongst her people.
Germany, under the rule of Bismarck, the man of "Iron and Blood," is restive. His tendency to absolute government, his disregard of the political and civil rights of the people, his far-reached policy, and almost satanic WILL, make him hated and feared by his countrymen, and to a great extent by the surrounding nations. Old Kaiser William is in his eighty-fourth year. His throne, in the nature of things, must soon become vacant. It is doubtful [R395 : page 6] whether either in Germany or in England, another monarch will occupy the throne. Republicanism, if not communism, abide their time in both countries, to assert their rights and show their power.
Russia is a dark waste where terror reigns. The crushed worms turn on the iron-heeled oppressors, and plot in secret and stab in darkness, and drive the tyrant and his minions into their guarded palaces, haunted by horrors.
Italy has a dread skeleton in the midst of her capital. The Pope is a continual menace to her stability as a nation, and the security of her government. At any hour papal fanaticism may burst forth like a cyclone and spread desolation through all his domain. The votaries of the Pope, in almost all Catholic countries, are ready at the call of the "Holy Father" to rush to his rescue – or, in other words, drive out the Italian king and government, and place the Pope on the throne of his predecessors.
In the meantime, Egypt, the most ancient of kingdoms, and, as predicted of her when at the height of her power, "the meanest of nations" starts to the forefront and arrests the attention of the world. The Khedive, a foreign prince, under the nominal sovereignty of the Sultan of Constantinople, trembles on his throne, and "bows to the will of the nation." That will is the exaltation of Arabi Bey, his enemy, to the control of all the citadels and forces of Egypt. "Egypt for the Egyptians," is the war cry of the natives, and for once in thousands of years the foreigner is flying from the Egyptian.
England and France have sent their war ships to the mouth of the Nile. But menace has had no effect on the leaders of the Egyptian army. Torpedoes have been laid along the channel of the harbor of Alexandria, and resistance to all foreign intervention has been fiercely avowed.
But while England and France have undertaken to settle the affairs of Egypt, the Sultan of Turkey has been playing a double game. He has given public assurances to the Khedive of support, while he has secretly encouraged the insurgents. And then Russia, Germany, Austria, and Italy, claim to have a voice and a part in the settlement of Egyptian affairs as a European question – indeed a world-wide one.
What the outcome of all this will be, no human foresight can determine. But a half million of soldiers, armed with breech-loading rifles, in each of the countries named – all ready for action – the rulers of those countries anxious to divert the discontented peoples by forcing wars – the mutual jealousies of these rival powers, and the difficulties of adjusting the "Eastern Question," now centered in the Egyptian crisis – all are portentous. The world is in arms. A crisis is impending. Lord, haste the day when he whose right to reign shall come, and peace and joy and righteousness shall clothe the earth in beauty.– Christian Repository.
"Let us remember that all our safety depends upon our cleaving, with full purpose of heart, to the slightest manifestation of Christ's wishes. Thus the many voices there are in the world will not move us from our steadfastness, nor will the unstable sea of deceitful, carnal interest be permitted to overwhelm our bark, nor hide from our eyes the light of heaven."
"And I saw another sign in heaven, great and wonderful, seven angels having the seven last plagues; [last] because by them the wrath of God was to be completed." Rev. 15:1. DIAGLOTT.
Among the pictures of this wonderful book of symbols, this one of the pouring out of the "seven vials of wrath" stands out in marked prominence. As its name indicates, it is understood to be the closing act in the drama of this age. An important difference exists between our view and that of many others, however, in that they suppose the end of the age to be accompanied by the destruction of the people, and of the earth itself; while we understand that it is the ending of the present reign of evil, and a necessary preparation of mankind for the reign of righteousness. The connections in which we find the vials mentioned in the record, are in harmony with our views, and contradictory to theirs: it is followed by the symbolic pictures of the new age – new Heaven and Earth, binding of Satan, and reign of Christ.
The great source of error in understanding these, as all of Revelation's symbols, is a too literal interpretation. It is read as though it were a statement of facts, instead of a statement of symbols. Before proceeding to the account of the plagues, the inspired penman records another symbol – the "sea of glass." This indicates that it stands related to the plagues, hence we will consider it first. From all the connections, we understand that it immediately precedes the plagues. "And I saw as it were a glassy sea, mingled with fire, and the conquerors of the Beast, and of his Image, and the number of his name, standing on the glassy sea, having harps of God."
Who these are, is shown by what they overcome – viz., the Beast, Image, and Number. Here we see the importance of an understanding of the symbols of chapter thirteen; for unless we understood what those symbols meant, we could not understand who is overcoming their influence. In this way God has made his Word self-interpreting. The understanding of one part or symbol is the key to an understanding of another. In harmony, then, with Rev. 13, we understand the overcomers here referred to, to be those Christians who are free from Papacy – the Beast – and from organized sectarian Protestantism – the Image – and from all who bear the characteristics of the number – that is, free, to the extent that these have not the slightest influence over our actions, professions, or thoughts – free indeed.
This serves, too, to show about when the plagues are due, and when this sea of glass condition may be reached; for, if, as seems clear, the Image was formed by the organization of the "Evangelical Alliance," in 1846, then it is equally clear, that the overcomers of the "Image" could not occupy this position of favor and exaltation prior to that date. This furnishes a general reason for believing that the plagues must commence this side of the date mentioned, since it is during the pouring out of the plagues that the overcomers occupy this "sea of glass" condition.
Having, then, ascertained who these overcomers are, and about when they thus stand, we pass on to consider the sea of glass mingled with fire, on which they stand. Sea, as heretofore explained, we understand to symbolize the masses of the people, and fire to symbolize judgments, or trouble. We therefore interpret this to mean – the people in trouble, under the judgments of God. Above the troubled people are the overcomers – calm, serene, untroubled. Their position shows that their standing is by faith. (Matt. 14:29.) To the eye of faith all is transparent.
These overcomers sing a song. A song is a beautiful and harmonious expression. It is the song of Moses and the Lamb. That is, the song or preaching of these overcomers is in perfect accord with the Law and the Gospel. It is the same which Jesus (the "Lamb") taught, and which Moses taught in the Law and types. Not only does the description of the overcomers indicate that they are but a little fragment of the nominal church, but the words of this song teach us the same – that the class who proclaim these things are few. The words of the song are given, or the leading points of the preaching which will be done by the overcomers – "saying, Great and wonderful are thy works, O Lord God, the omnipotent."
Alas! how few are sufficiently acquainted with God's plans to recognize the fact that they are great and wonderful. Very few can sing this first note of the song, and fewer yet can sing it to its close. The second note is, "Righteous and true are thy ways, O King of the nations." [Diaglott.] Look at this; we can sing of the righteousness and justice of God's dealing with the nations, since we have come to see how he has permitted evil and death to come upon all, as a lesson to teach us to appreciate life and righteousness. We can see righteousness, justice, mercy, and love in God's dealings, since we see in his Word that there is to be "a restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy Prophets since the world began." (Acts 3:21.) Who, but those who see the restitution to be accomplished in the next age, could sing this part of the song? Not one; Christendom in general fears to think of God's justice in dealing with the nations in general, the great majority of whom have gone down into death without any knowledge of the only name whereby we must be saved. The righteousness, and justice, and love of God's dealing, can only be seen by looking at the work of the next, as well as at that of present and past ages. Yes indeed, we rejoice to proclaim to all who have an "ear to hear" – Just and true are Jehovah's ways in ruling the nations.
The next note is in perfect harmony with the last – "Who shall not fear, O Lord, and glorify thy name? Since thou alone art bountiful." Our great Creator's every dealing is an act of favor – even the evil which man was permitted to bring upon himself is to be overruled for good; and we ask ourselves the question, Who shall not fear and glorify God when, in the coming age, his wonderful goodness is manifested, and when the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth. We would be inclined to believe that every one should praise his love everlastingly, were it not that Scripture clearly discloses a second death, which tells of some who will be accounted worthy of it.
"For all the nations shall come and worship in thy presence, because thy righteous acts are manifested." This is the last note of the song, and is full of force and meaning. How few are proclaiming, either publicly or privately, this part of the song. Some believe that many of the nations now dead are in a place of mental or physical torture, there to remain to all eternity. Others claim that they are dead, and will never again have life; others that those who are dead, will be raised from death to pass a mock trial, and be destroyed. But how few can sing this song of restitution, declaring that all nations shall yet come from death, and shall worship their Lord and Redeemer, when brought to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim. 2:4.) Even Sodom, a nation long since destroyed, shall come and worship. (Ezek. 16:48-63.)
Another symbol is the "harp of God." The song is sung in tune and harmony with the harps. The harp of God we believe to be the Bible, its many strings or chords are the Law, the Prophets, the Psalms, the Gospels, and Revelation. Many Christians have the "harp," but few have it so strung and tuned that they can bring forth harmony enough to accompany the song of Moses and the Lamb. The overcomers have the harp well in hand – in fact, without it and the inspiration of its music, they never could have been overcomers. They have them tuned, too. How forcible this picture! Truly, it would have been incomplete without the harp of God.
Another thought is suggested – the overcomers not only have the harp, and know how to sing this song of restitution, but they do sing it. There are some of God's children who have their harp considerably in tune, and who know the song, but who do not proclaim the glad tidings of coming restitution; they fear to face the opposition which this course would bring – the unpopularity which would attach to anything outside the religious rut of so called orthodoxy. These are not among the overcomers; they have not yet got a victory over the influence of the Beast and Image; they are yet in some bondage. All of the overcomers sing the song. Each of us should inquire of our own hearts whether we are tuning our harps and singing this song – Now is the time.
Many of the Lord's dear children in mystic Babylon's captivity, have sat down beside her rivers so defiled by the mire of worldliness, and wept when they remembered God's favor to Zion in times past. They laid aside the harps of God, hanging them on the willows that weep over the grave of truth in Babylon. They that carried them away captive (the Babylon system) require of them a song and mirth, saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion." Yes, Babylon would like to see Zion's captives happy beside her muddy streams; and in the midst of her worldliness, would like to hear an occasional song of Zion, that she might boast of the Lord's favor. But "how shall the captive daughters of Zion sing the Lord's song in a strange land?" (Psa. 137:1-6.) To all such we cry: Take down your harps from the willows; flee out of Babylon into full liberty of thought and expression; tune your harps and sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. Sing of God's mighty love and the "restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets."
The next thing shown to John is the coming of the seven messengers out of the temple to pour out the plagues. Since it is the saints who are "to execute the judgments written," (Psa. 149:9), we interpret this "seven angels" to mean the saints. The living saints being the representatives or active agents of the entire anointed company – as "the [R395 : page 7] feet of Him." It is the feet, or last part, who sing the restitution song of Moses and the Lamb, upon the glassy sea mingled with fire. How beautiful are the feet of Him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth. (Isa. 52:7.) These same feet, as representatives on earth of the entire body, are to pour out the seven vials, or be associated more or less directly with the judgments coming. These are clothed with white linen; these have kept their wedding garments; they are robed in the righteousness of Christ – "justified by his blood." They are the servants of God; the girdle representing a servant, and the gold of it representing divinity. They, as the servants of God, have a divine service to accomplish.
When they had all gone forth from the temple it was filled with smoke, so that none could enter it. The temple symbolizes the church. The coming of the messengers out of the temple, symbolizes the coming of the overcomers out of the nominal church. When all such have come out, the temple (church) will be so full of smoke, (confusion) that no man would care to go into it. The messengers are now nearly all out, and already the smoke, or confusion, in the church, is considerable. Few care to enter even now, and recent reports of various sects show that the increase has been very slight for the past year. When we remember that the large proportion of new members received is from the Sunday School, we can realize how, even now, very few men (persons of mature thought) enter the nominal temple. The nominal church will be in this confusion until the seven plagues are poured out; during that time the Babylon, or confusion element, will be destroyed, and the cleansed temple of truth be again opened to receive justified believers – then as heirs of the earthly promises.
[TO BE CONTINUED IN NOVEMBER NUMBER.]
An article recently published in a contemporary magazine, is sent us by a reader of the TOWER for an answer and criticism. The article in question claims to find a great deal of "Dispensational difference" between the expressions "kingdom of heaven" and "kingdom of God."
The writer endeavors, but signally fails, to prove that "kingdom of God" means a kingdom in men's hearts, and that the "kingdom of heaven" means the Millennial kingdom. While a great mistake made by Christians in general, undoubtedly is to ignore "dispensational statements" of truth, yet we believe it to be equally erroneous to go to an opposite extreme, and make differences where none really exist. It is difficult to estimate which of these extremes are the most injurious to truth. To sustain this theory, the writer is led to claim that Matthew's is "the Jew gospel," while the others, especially John's, are "the Christian's gospel."
What absurdity – were not those writers – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – merely historians? Do they not witness merely, or record the things which Jesus said and did? How, then, could one write a Jewish, and another a Christian gospel? The usual view is that each of these evangelists wrote independently of the others, except John, whose gospel is supposed to have been written partly to supply points remembered by him, which had been omitted by the other writers. Each writer evidently has used some license in the use of words, hence no two give their accounts in exactly the same words.
In the matter in question, Matthew uses the terms, "kingdom of heaven" and "kingdom of God" interchangeably, while the other writers use only the one, the last term. The word heavens signifies high, hence the kingdom of heaven is the high kingdom – higher than earthly dominions, and of course that is the "kingdom of God." We give more space to the consideration of this subject than we really think it worthy of, because quite a good many called "Brethren" hold tenaciously to it, and because we would like to prove to all that a theory based on a twist or turn of a word, and not on a general principle of Bible teaching, is unworthy of our consideration.
In Luke 19:11,12; and 21:31. The kingdom of God is mentioned in such an unequivocal manner, that none can doubt that the Millennial Reign is referred to. This of itself would destroy the theory quoted; but we will give some unquestionable proof that the expressions are interchangeable ones. In the following Scriptures, Matthew uses the words "kingdom of heaven," while other evangelists use "kingdom of God."
Matt. 4:17: "Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Mark 1:14,15 reads, "Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand." [R397 : page 7]
Matt. 13:11: "It is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven."
Mark 4:11: "Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God."
Matt. 19:23. "A rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven." In verse 24, we have proof that Matthew uses the expressions interchangeably, for he there says "kingdom of God." The same language is quoted in both cases, kingdom of God, in Mark 10:24,25, and Luke 18:24 and 25.
Matt. 13:31: "The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed." Mark 4:30,31: "Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God...it is like a grain of mustard seed." Luke 13:18: "Unto what is the kingdom of God like?...It is like a grain of mustard seed."
The theory which the foregoing view is required to support may be shown: How else, they inquire, can the church now be the kingdom of God in its present time of suffering; and be the kingdom in a still different sense during the Millennial reign, unless the present condition be called the kingdom of God, and the future the kingdom of heaven? We answer, no such distinction is needed. The church is the kingdom now, only in the prospective sense that a babe is a man. The kingdom is now ours by faith, in the same way that we have every other heavenly blessing. When we are exalted and glorified with our Head and Bridegroom, Jesus – that will be our exaltation, or the kingdom of God, the heavenly kingdom, "set up." (Dan. 2:44.)
But they question – How is it that Luke says of the kingdom of God, it shall be within you, and cometh not with observation? We reply, you misread Luke 17:20. It speaks not of a kingdom present within those "Scribes and Pharisees – hypocrites," but of the manner in which the kingdom would come – It "cometh not with observation, neither shall ye say, lo, here! nor lo, there!" for it will be among men – a present, but invisible, power or government.
In due time it will bring mankind into harmony with itself. Then the kingdom of God will be "among men"; then men will be visible representatives of the invisible or spiritual kingdom. To this agree the words of John 3:3,5, and 1 Cor. 15:50. Thus considered, the record is harmonious, without straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel, as our brother whom we criticize has done.
We are always sorry to differ with those we love; yet, when necessary for the truth's sake, we must do it in the spirit of meekness – the spirit of love – the spirit of Christ. We believe that it is our Lord's wish that we "contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints"; therefore we "have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." We find that among the Apostles there were differences. (Acts 15; Gal. 2:11; 1 Tim. 1:19-20; 2 Tim. 2:16-18.) Hence, we need not be surprised if such should be the case in this day. But should the faithful servant ignore doctrinal differences to maintain peace? Did Paul do so? No; as faithful servants, we should contend earnestly, at the same time striving to maintain unity of spirit in the bonds of peace, yet never sacrificing truth for either unity or peace, else we should not be able to grow in grace and knowledge – up to a stature of perfection in Christ.
In its last two issues, Zion's Day Star presents, as new light, the idea that the body of Christ – the church – is different from the Bride of Christ – the church. They claim that the "body" means those who overcome the world following the example of Jesus, their Head (which we always held); but deny that the bride is the same class of overcomers. They claim that the body, with the head, constitute the Bridegroom, who, in due time, will be united to the Bride; and they claim that the Bride company, through weakness of the flesh, are not overcomers of the world, but are overcome by the world [the class whom both they and we have always heretofore recognized as the servant company of Rev. 7:9-17].
The question arises, is this true – have we heretofore labored under a misapprehension? We are not to conclude that because it is different from what we had thought, therefore it is erroneous; neither are we to conclude that because it is new, therefore it is new light. It might be new error. It might be darkness. Neither should we judge of its truth or falsity by the measure of our love for those who advocate or oppose the view. This is a lesson which all need to learn: that while human teachers are necessary, and should be esteemed very highly for their work's sake (1 Thes. 5:13), yet they are to be respected and heeded only so far as they can show us a thus saith the Lord, for their teachings. Let us, then, inquire of the Lord what is truth on this subject, and receive his reply from his Word.
When Jesus would teach the nature of the kingdom of God, he gives a number of parables or illustrations: – The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a merchantman seeking pearls; it is like to a man seeking a treasure in a field; it is like a young nobleman going into a far country to receive a kingdom; it is like to a grain of mustard seed; it is like to leaven hid in meal, etc., etc. Shall we conclude that each of these pen-pictures represents a different kingdom? If so, how many kingdoms of heaven there are, and how different from each other! But no; we all recognize the fact that these are different views of the same kingdom; that different illustrations are given to show more clearly different features of that one kingdom.
Again, in Rev. 20 and 21 we have seven different pen-pictures of the operation and results of the kingdom established – (1) Satan bound for a thousand years (vss. 1-3); (2) Earthly thrones cast down, and the Overcomers reign with Christ a thousand years (vs. 4); (3) The holy and blessed of the first resurrection live and reign a thousand years with Christ (vss. 6-10); (4) The great white throne – Heaven and Earth flee – The dead judged from open books (vss. 11-15); (5) New Heaven and Earth – Holy City – its blessings to mankind (chap. 21:1-8); (6) The Bride, the Holy City – the kingdom of God come to earth (vss. 10-27); (7) The water of life flows freely – the world's troubles healed – the curse destroyed (chap. 22:1-3).
Should we conclude that these are seven different kingdoms in operation, or, that they picture seven different thousand years? No; these views present to us from various standpoints the work of the one kingdom during the one thousand years. The saints live and reign at the same time that Satan is bound; and the dead, small and great, are brought to a full trial before the great white throne of justice during the same time, etc.
When we read the many different titles of Jesus – the Prophet, Priest, King, the Son of God, Son of man, Man of sorrows, the Lamb of God, etc., should we conclude that these titles belong to different beings? Or, do they not belong to the same, and do they not all represent, from different standpoints the "Son of God"?
So, if we look at the various names given by inspiration to the church of Christ, we find them many; we find, too, that each of these illustrative names serves to show some feature of our work, or of our relationship to Jesus better than any other title.
The church is a company of soldiers fighting a good fight – overcoming the world under the leadership of the "Captain of our salvation." It is also a "royal priesthood"; each overcomer is a priest, and all regard Jesus as the High or Chief Priest of our profession. This shows the life of sacrifice. Another illustration is that of pupils or disciples learning and copying from their Master's example and precept, for "He hath left us an example that we should follow in his steps." (1 Pet. 2:21.)
Another illustration of the church's position and relationship to Jesus, is furnished in the figure – the body of Christ. This illustration does not show the sacrifice, as does the priest illustration; it does not show the battle with the world, as does the soldier illustration; it does not show the following of Christ as our pattern and example; but it does show a feature which does not appear in any [R397 : page 8] of the other illustrations, viz.: the very intimate and close relationship which exists between Jesus and his church, and among all the members of the church. As every member of the human body moves under the control of the head, so every member of Christ is controlled by the will or spirit of our Lord, the Head of the church. As every pain or suffering of each member of the human body is known and shared by each other member, and especially by the head, so each member of the body of Christ is in sympathy with the other, and the Head, Jesus – "knows our every weakness."
Our head is quickly touched with a feeling of our infirmities, and applies the relief, using one or another member of the body to bind up and comfort and bear the burdens of the injured member. [R398 : page 8]
The temple is another figure and name given to the church. 1 Cor. 3:16.) At one time each Christian is compared to a temple, in which God, by his spirit, dwells; and again, each Christian is compared to a living stone in the one great temple which God is building during this age, and from which his blessing is to flow to the world during the next age. This last figure shows the growth of the church as the other figures do not show it. Neither the soldier figure, nor the priest figure, nor the disciple figure, nor the body figure, none of these show the growth of the church as a whole; but the temple figure does show it. We, as living stones, are cut, polished, and builded, and so through this age, the temple "groweth," until Jesus, the top-stone, shall crown it. Then it will be perfect and ready for its great Millennial work.
How necessary, then, are all these figures. Consider, for a moment, that if any figure were omitted, much would be lost. If we had only the figure of "the body," how would additions be shown? Suppose a body which received additional members – one joint, one toe, one finger, one eye, one ear, one member, at a time, it would be an absurd figure, and would not illustrate the addition of members to the church, as the temple figure does, though it (the body figure) well illustrates the oneness and perfection of the entire living church at any stage of its existence. It shows the possibility of the perfect thing growing or maturing in perfection. Thus, we are perfect in Christ from the very first, yet we are to grow in grace, etc. "Let as many as are perfect be thus minded." (Phil. 3:15.)
And now we come to another figure of the church, viz.: that of the Bride, the Lamb's wife. This is the figure which our brethren think should be regarded as representing a different company – not the overcomers – not the body of Christ. Their argument is, If we are the body of Christ, we cannot be the Bride, because, say they, the body of Christ is to be married to the Bride of Christ.
At first sight there is a plausibility here, but let us remember that each of these figures stands separate and alone, and the moment we begin to blend any two of them we get confusion. Now, let us see; suppose we were to say, We are to be members of the body of Christ, hence when we read of Jesus as the Captain, we should conclude that we are not the soldiers fighting the good fight, for we are members of the Captain's body. Or, when we read of Jesus as the Master, who set his disciples an example to follow in his footsteps, should we conclude that we are not disciples or followers, because we are of his body; and say we could not walk in his footsteps because we are members of his feet, making the footprints, and therefore could not follow them? Or, should we say that we are not members of the holy temple, because we are members of his body, and reason that a body could live in a temple, but could not be a temple? This would be as wise as to say that we could not be represented by the bride figure, because we are represented in the body figure. Who would disclaim being of the "royal priesthood" because another figure shows that we are members of the body? (1 Pet. 2:9.)
Thus we see that if we try to blend these figures, we get confusion. Yet, who will claim that each of these figures represent different classes? No one; they each represent some special feature of our relationship.
We next pass on, to notice that there is a relationship between Jesus and his church better illustrated by the Bride and Bridegroom figure, than by any other. Jesus went away, saying, "I go to prepare a place (home) for you, and I will come again and receive you unto myself." How beautifully this is illustrated by the earthly marriage relationship. The time for marriage is not yet; the intended husband goes to a far country, promising to return and claim his faithful betrothed, and cause her to share his wealth, his name, his honor, etc., and to make her joint-heir to all his inheritance.
The one condition on which all is promised is love and faithfulness – a love which overcomes the painfulness of lonely waiting, and surmounts the difficulties of the way, ever praying "Come, Lord (husband) Jesus, come quickly."
What other illustration would so clearly and faithfully represent the relationship between the church and her Lord during the time of his absence? The body figure fails entirely to represent this. Suppose a head cut off and separated far from a body, yet both alive and longing for union. It would be an absurdity. But when we take the figure of the church, so repeatedly presented a virgin (pure woman), espoused to Christ, we can see how the absent Bridegroom and the waiting Bride look forward to the time of their union. The loving devotion of each is beautifully pictured here. And, as a true bridegroom desires for his bride, one whose love could overcome the obstacles in the way, so Jesus will claim for his bride only such as overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil, which together conspire to allure her from her absent Lord. The inspiration of the promise – "Faithful is he that calleth you who also will do it" – will keep his faithful Bride "unspotted from the world."
Note how plainly the Scriptures teach that Jesus, personally, is the Bridegroom, and not Jesus and the overcomers. John speaks of Jesus personally as the bridegroom. (John 3:29.) Jesus also speaks of himself individually as the Bridegroom (Matt. 9:15; Mark 2:19; Luke 5:34.) In Matt. 25:1,5,6,10, the Bridegroom is four times mentioned, and who will say that any of them could be applied to other than the individual Bridegroom, Jesus? No virgin went forth in any sense to meet a multitudinous bridegroom. The midnight cry was not, Behold, a multitudinous bridegroom cometh, nor did a multitudinous bridegroom in any sense tarry.
The glory, the honor, the power, all came directly to the man, and the woman obtains joint-heirship by marriage (covenant union with him). So Jesus was the heir of all things (Heb. 1:2) and we inherited none of them, until called by the Father, we become his betrothed, and now we are heirs unitedly with him, for "He (the Father) that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him, also freely give us all things?" Therefore, by union or marriage with him who is the heir, "all things are yours."
To this view all the Old Testament types harmonize: Man was formed first, then woman was developed, and became his companion and joint-heir to the dominion of earth. So Jesus was first perfected, and since then the church is being prepared as a bride for her husband, and hopes to enter the joys of her Lord (husband). Adam's sleep and the rending of his side did not directly produce Eve, but merely the rib from which Eve was formed by God's power. So Jesus' death did not produce the church directly, but it produced a justified humanity (a rib), which, by God's power, is transformed into the glorious divine likeness of the second Adam, and she henceforth becomes his bride and help-meet.
It will not do, to say that Adam was the type of the body (church), as well as of Jesus, for Paul tells us that he was a type of Jesus personally. He says, "The first man was of the earth earthy, the second man was the Lord from heaven." That Paul meant Jesus who had already been perfected on the plane of glory, is evident from his subsequent remark – "As we have born the image of the earthy, (Adam) we shall also bear the image of the heavenly," (Jesus, the anti-type). As Adam alone represented our Lord and Adam and his wife were unitedly called Adam, (Gen. 5:2,) so Jesus alone was the Christ, (anointed) yet when we as his wife are united to him, the one name stands for the united ONE – The Christ of God.
Look too, at the striking type of Isaac and Rebecca. Abraham the type of Jehovah, sends his servant a type of the Spirit, to take a bride for Isaac, who typified Jesus, the Son and heir. Isaac was the rightful heir of Abraham without any bride, but when she was united to him she became a joint-heir. So Jesus was first and individually appointed "heir of all things" by Jehovah (Heb. 1:2); and since then we are invited to be heirs of God, also joint or united heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord.
When we read – "We brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise," we must remember how we became as Isaac. Not that we were created heirs and joint-heirs, but that we become such by reason of our espousal (covenant – marriage) with Jesus. Rebecca was an heir of Abraham and joint-heir with Isaac while journeying to his home, and yet it was by hope and faith, and depended on her completing the journey; so we are now heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus by hope, by faith; but our full realization of it depends on our following on in the narrow way. We are "heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord (husband) if so be that we suffer with him," etc. Rom. 8:17.
Again, if the Bridegroom class, according to the Day Star, was not yet complete, how could Paul, in his day, addressing the church, say, "I have espoused you to one husband that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ"? Since every type of the Bridegroom and Bride shows that the Bridegroom was completed or perfected before the Bride was even called to union and joint-heirship, this is out of harmony with the view presented by our brethren. But it is entirely harmonious with the view we have all heretofore held, for Jesus was perfected in glory before the Spirit at Pentecost began to call the chaste virgin to be the "Bride, the Lamb's Wife."
No one can gainsay the fact that Jesus and Paul and Peter all recognized the calling of the Bride of Christ as in progress during the past eighteen [R399 : page 8] hundred years, and this of itself should be proof that the Bridegroom was Jesus, who alone was perfected on the spiritual plane, before the call of the church to be his bride.
Paul's use of the two figures is clearly shown in Eph. 5. Here he does not blend, but links these illustrations – the body and bride, and shows them to refer to the same class. He is here addressing "the saints which were at Ephesus, and the FAITHFUL (overcoming ones) in Christ Jesus." (Chap. 1:1.) In chap. 1:23, he likens the church to the human body, of which Jesus is the Head; and in chap. 5:22-33, speaking to the same persons, he likens the church to husband and wife, exhorting husbands to love their wives, and wives to reverence their husbands, and thus exemplify the beautiful relationship between Jesus and his church. Verse 28 compares the wife to the body, saying, "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself; for no man ever yet hateth his own flesh, but nourisheth it and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church." "For we (the same company – the church – the prospective bride) are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones." "For this cause (thus representing the heavenly union) shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh (one body). This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church." Could words express more plainly that the figures body and bride are used interchangeably, referring to the same class – the overcomers?
When it is claimed that the title bride belongs to the class who are overcome by the world, and who do not keep their garments, etc., we object; we call attention to the fact that the Bride of Christ is everywhere spoken of as a "chaste virgin," and never as impure or in unholy alliance with the world (a harlot). But it is claimed that she comes out of Babylon! True, and who that is out and free did not come out of the Babylon or confusion? All, just as in the type all of typical Israel went into captivity, into literal Babylon, so here. It is well to read carefully the text, Come out of her (Babylon), my people, that ye be NOT PARTAKERS of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. (Rev. 18:4.) This shows that the class who are called out and obey are not partakers of Babylon's sins, but overcomers.
In conclusion, since the Apostles urged the church as soldiers, as a priesthood, as disciples or imitators, as the body members, as living stones of the temple, and as "a chaste virgin, espoused to one husband – Christ,* we believe that all of these expressions were but variations of the same call, and to the same class, because during this Gospel Age there has been but one – the high calling; and all are "called in ONE HOPE of your calling." Hence these distinctive titles refer, not to different classes, but to the same.