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This number commences Vol. V., and from the Tower we look backward over the last few years, and as we see the pathway shining more and more, we rejoice, thank God, and take courage.
"Looking back, we praise the way
God hath led us – led us, day by day."
Our confidence in our Leader is strengthened too, in that while we have endeavored to make no paths for ourselves, but to follow his leading implicitly, we can look back and see that he has led us in a straight and progressive course. We have not been blown about by every wind of doctrine, but have been piloted in a course direct toward the light, "as the needle to the pole."
Let us glance backward a few years and trace again, our guided footsteps in this shining way; we all need the encouragement which such manifest leading of the Lord affords.
"Then we'll see what God hath wrought:
Let us PRAISE HIM – praise Him as we ought."
So short a time ago as 1870 we saw, in addition to the first principles of the Gospel, only the two bare facts – the Lord's second coming and the Restitution – and these but vaguely; for though we then saw restitution taught in Scripture, we were much in doubt as to its comprehensiveness, questioning often whether it would include all the billions of the dead whom the god of this world had in the present life blinded. And [R513 : page 1] concerning the Lord's second coming, while we realized that he is no longer a man, but is now the new creature – the express image of the Father's person – a quickening spirit, yet we failed somehow to make a proper application of this to his second coming, and unthinkingly and ignorantly, rather expected his coming to be as a glorified man, than as a spiritual being. It was not until about 1874 that these things became clearer, so that we realized that when Jesus should come, it would be as unobserved by human eyes as though an angel had come; and that it could be known only by some miracle, by some manifestation or demonstration.
About the same time the completeness of the Restitution to be brought about, came clearly to our vision. It was in this way: we had seen the various Scriptures which spoke of the Sodomites' return to a former estate (restitution), and Israel's return at the same time, and how all the families of earth were to be blessed through Christ, when he should take his great power and reign, etc., etc. But all these failed to convince us of restitution for all, because we could see that God could in perfect justice, take away the lives which he had given – could entirely blot men out of existence as easily as he could bring them into being. And we felt much inclined to believe that many of the dead billions would never be brought into existence again, until we came to see more fully the value of the Ransom Price given for our sins, "and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
When we came to scrutinize God's dealings, we found that He showed no mercy on sin, but in justice condemned it and executed the penalty of death against all; that justice must be met and fully satisfied, before mankind could go free from that death penalty; and that God's mercy was displayed, not in opposing and setting aside his justice, but in providing a Redeemer or ransom price which fully met all the claims of His own just laws against us. This convinced us that the various Scriptures which predicted the saving of all men from the curse – death – meant literally all they said: That when Paul said, "He gave himself a ransom [antilutron – equivalent price] for all" (1 Tim. 2:6), it involved the necessity of a release from death of all who were thus bought. It gave a depth and scope to many scriptures, such as Rom. 5:18,19: By one man's sin came death upon all; and by our Lord's righteousness and obedience unto death (our penalty) comes life to the same all; for as through or by Adam all die, even so by or through Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Cor. 15:22.) Thus our faith in the ransom, that it was an equivalent price for ALL, was the rock into which entered as an anchor our hope for a "restitution of all things."
Next our attention was drawn to the subject of the TIME of our Lord's coming. Before this we had strenuously ignored time, partly because of its being made so much of by "Second Adventists," and because of the frequent failures of their expectations. Moreover, the fact that they claimed the destruction of the world to be the impending event, and used the periods of time mentioned in Scripture to mark the time of that destruction, was another reason why we were disposed to ignore the subject of time. Their erroneous theory of the destruction of the world cast discredit on the time which they associated with it.
When, however, the manner of our Lord's coming was seen in the light of what he is – a spiritual, and no longer a human being – then we saw that our Father had provided TIME in the Bible, that thus we might know, or see with the eye of our understanding, what we could not see with our natural eyes – viz., the Lord's presence. A careful study of times and seasons taught in Scripture convinced us that the Lord was due to be present in 1874, and other time teachings of the Word showed that in the spring of 1875 the restitution of all things was due to commence.
This conclusion was rather startling, and surprised us thoroughly. It would have seemed so much easier to believe had the prophecies pointed twenty years ahead and shown us that then Jesus would come – be present and do a separating work in the nominal Church, and during a time of trouble should so order the truth that it, as his word, would smite down evil and error of every form, including "the kingdoms of this world," under "the prince of this world." We re-examined every point carefully, and every part fitted to every other with a completeness that bore the stamp of truth, and with a strength which testified that the calculations came from and were the testimony of God's chronometer.
Very cautiously every expression of Jesus and the Apostles and Prophets was scanned, to see whether their testimony would correspond. Gradually we found them, one after another, to be in fullest accord; for instance, Jesus' words (Matt. 24:37), "As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." Examining this passage we found that the word coming does not convey the proper meaning. The Greek word Parousia signifies PRESENCE – that the person has arrived, and is no longer in the act of coming. Another text we will mention (1 Thes. 5:1-5): "Of the times and seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you, for yourselves know that the Day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night [stealthily, quietly], and when they [the world] shall say peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness that that day should overtake you as a thief; for ye are all children of the light." The children of light walk in the shining path enlightened by the Lamp – the sure word of prophecy, from which the light shines out, showing them that the time is fulfilled, that the harvest and its events are commenced, and that the Reaper is present in his day – the Day of the Lord.
Engaged in searching and teaching thus, time sped on till 1878 had come. While our previous leading into truth was blessed and sweet, yet since 1878, has come the richest feasting and most blessed growth in favor and knowledge – for it is since then, that the Lord has given us to see the deep things of God, at some of which we shall now glance briefly. All having been published, and being fresh in your memory, it is needless to now treat them in detail.
(1). It was there, that our "Lamp" showed us that the nominal church was cast off from favor, spued out from being the Lord's mouthpiece, and from that time the message has been freely given, "Babylon is fallen! Come out of her my people." And as we look at her present condition of decay and falling, looking back we see that she began to fall at the time indicated on the prophetic dial.
(2). Next the rays of divine illumination fell on Rev. 12 and 13, opening up before us, with marked clearness of detail, the history of Papacy – the Beast, and Protestantism its image – and the great control these would possess in the Church, ultimately causing the masses of the Church to mark or name themselves so as to indicate a support of their claims and systems; and prohibiting and forbidding the right of buying and selling – the free exchange of truth – by those who do not recognize these systems. This left no doubt as to the mind of the Spirit toward those systems here termed the "Leopard Beast," "the two horned beast," and the "Image of the Beast," and their ultimate destruction by the bright shining of truth from the present one. This in turn helped us to appreciate more clearly that an important part of the overcoming expected of us, is to get free from the binding and blinding influences of these systems – as shown in Rev. 20:4.
(3). Following this, came light upon the short bed and narrow cover of Isa. 28:20, which we saw was the uncomfortable and unsatisfactory creeds in which a babe in Christ might, but a developed man could not stretch himself or find any rest. All who are "weaned from the breasts" and are no longer babes in Christ (verse 9), to these God will teach his doctrines and then they will speedily get out of the short trundle-bed creeds, and, instead of vexation, find rest in the liberty wherewith Christ makes free.
(4). Then the bed of Luke 17:34 was seen to be the same as the short one mentioned by Isaiah, and the shining of the one cast light upon the other and its surroundings. Thus we saw that the one taken and the other left in the presence of the Son of man, referred not as we had once supposed, to a change from natural to spiritual bodies, but to a translation out of the domain or kingdom of darkness into the light and liberty of the kingdom of light: in short, to the gathering of some out of short creed-beds to follow the Lord, and the leaving of others in their uncomfortable position.
The same ray of light, shining on the connected statements, showed those grinding at the mill to represent teachers seeking to prepare food for the household of faith – some of these will be taken, others left to grind on at the unsatisfying husks and chaff. The taken ones went – where, Lord? Jesus answered, "Wheresoever the body [carcass – food] is, thither will the eagles be gathered together." Thus we see that the class gathered in the presence of the Son of man – in the day when he is being revealed (verse 30) – will be gathered to the real food – to a satisfying portion. And all the saints whom the truth has called out of the short bed and from grinding the husks of human tradition, to the heavenly food now provided for us, can truly say, it is "a feast of fat things."
(5). While it is difficult at such a feast to decide which is the richest food, yet we believe that what we are now about to mention is of all the food the best, viz: The appreciation of the [R514 : page 1] sacrifices of Leviticus – especially of the Day of Atonement for sins, as pictured in Lev. 9 and 16. Nothing ever showed us so clearly the necessity and value of a sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. We feel confident that no one [R514 : page 2] who has a clear understanding of the details of these sacrifices for sin, can ever question the ransom. Here is clearly shown the sacrifice of Jesus as the bullock and the "little flock" who follow him, represented by the Lord's goat. Nowhere else is our share with our Lord in the work of sacrifice "filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ" (Col. 1:24) so clearly shown. But we need not tarry with this topic – you have it in detail in the Tabernacle pamphlet, which we trust you have not only read, but studied in connection with the Scripture.
(6). Shining through this appreciation of the sacrifices for sins, came greater light upon a number of subjects related to the fellowship of the "little flock" in Jesus' sufferings. We saw now a greater depth in Baptism, and as the light from Leviticus shone upon Rom. 6:3-5, we saw that Baptism into Christ, by a baptism into His death, meant much more than an immersion or burial in water, though that is a beautiful figure and symbol; appropriate as an outward sign or symbol of our consecration to death as sacrifices with Christ. And looking through this open door we saw the meaning of being dead WITH Christ that we might also live WITH him – suffering with him that we might also be glorified together – having fellowship (or part) in His death that we might have fellowship also in His resurrection.
(7). Following now in order, came light to discern the difference of natures – that animal or earthly beings, were distinct and separate every way from spiritual or heavenly beings; that while both were bodily conditions, yet as explained by Paul they are distinct and separate, one earthly, the other heavenly. "There is a natural [animal] body and there is a spiritual body." (1 Cor. 15:44.) Thus we saw that as there are various orders or grades of earthly creatures – beasts, birds, fishes and the chief of all these man, yet each is a distinct nature. So also on the spiritual plane there are various orders or degrees, the chief of whom is Jehovah; yet those on the spiritual plane do not blend, hence the angelic nature never will develop into a divine nature, because they are distinct and separate natures, even as man and fish are separate natures.
We were aided in seeing this by the light from Lev. 16; for in it we saw that those who sacrificed surrendered a human nature (represented by the bullock and goat) to partake of a new nature (represented in the Priest); this being in harmony with much of Paul's testimony concerning the same class of sacrifices, that as the natural man perished or was sacrificed, they were developing as "new creatures." The transformation at first being merely a mental one – from a natural or earthly mind to a heavenly or spiritual mind – will at the resurrection be complete, for then the new or spiritual mind will be joined with a new or spiritual body – thus completing the change now begun from animal to spiritual beings. But this change of nature we saw was not designed for all mankind – no, only for those who sacrificed the human nature with Jesus, that they may gain a promised share with HIM, in life as spiritual or heavenly beings – highly exalted, not only above the human nature, but also above angelic nature. For know ye not that when exalted we shall judge or govern angels, and be joined in heirship with him who has been made so much better than the angels?
(8.) Then came – "The narrow way to Life," and we saw as never before the meaning of Life – Immortality – and the narrowness of the way which leads to it. It is narrow; there is no room to lug along worldly hopes and ambitions; it is steep and rugged, and every step is a denial and sacrifice of the rights and comforts of the human nature. The steps in this narrow way are not merely conflicts with sin. No, that may be done anywhere by the justified only, as well as by the sanctified, and all who enter this "narrow way" have already been justified from all sin in God's sight by the ransom price given by Jesus. On the contrary, the steps are of sacrifice: sacrificing those things to which as men they have a right.
As the steps are very difficult ones, which few would ever find, and fewer yet would care to walk in if they did find them, so it is but reasonable to infer that the prize at its further end is of wondrous value. The prize is Life – not merely existence, but Life in the superlative degree – i.e., independent of all conditions, as God has "life in himself," and not dependent on surrounding circumstances and elements. Life in this degree belongs not to angelic or human nature, but to the Divine nature only. And the fact that the narrow way which few find, leads to this Life, proves that on it is the class who seek for "glory, honor and immortality," and to whom are given "exceeding great and precious promises, that by these they might become partakers of the Divine nature." (2 Pet. 1:4.) With joy we saw too, that though few find this "narrow way," and few would gain that prize of life – immortality – yet these few were to be the instruments of God in the restitution of human existence to the WORLD, which, if used in harmony with God's will, may be everlasting existence.
(9.) With the light shining from a better appreciation of the distinctness and separateness of human and spiritual natures, we soon began to see clearly the two phases or parts of the kingdom of God – the spiritual phase composed of Jesus and His Church over all and above all, and the earthly phase composed at first of Israel after the flesh, restored to favor and ruling and teaching men as the earthly representatives of the spiritual kingdom, and gradually gathering into union and harmony with it all the families of the earth, except a few incorrigible ones who shall be destroyed.
(10.) In turn, this discernment of the two parts or elements of the one kingdom, led to the appreciation of many Scriptures previously obscure, and enabled us to see how Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets, would be in the kingdom of God (human phase), though having lived and died before the Spirit-dispensation began – before the narrow way to LIFE was opened up by Jesus our Guide and Forerunner in it.
(11). Next light flashed out upon the words of Jesus (Rev. 2:11). "He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death." Never before had we realized that we are called to go into the second death, but promised that it should not be a permanent injury or "hurt." Now we saw that what is termed the first death is the Adamic death, which would have been the utter end except for the ransom given, which bought all out of its grasp and control. The actual recovery of mankind out of death (i.e., restitution) awaits for its accomplishment the glorious reign of Him who "bought us with his precious blood." But now we are told to reckon ourselves, free from sin and pure, and to reckon ourselves freed from Adamic death, which is the penalty of sin. Thus one death is in the past to us, and this reckoned-restored life we present to God asking that our justified humanity be permitted to share death with Jesus' spotless sacrifice. This would be our second death. First we were under and in Adamic death, but were lifted (by faith) out of that death that we might become dead with Christ.
Hence though death came to Jesus but once and was his first death, to those who become dead with him it is the second death, because Jesus was not in the Adamic death while we were. But the overcomers shall not be hurt of the second death. Ah, no; they will be greatly blessed by it, for if they thus become dead with Him they shall also live and be glorified with Him (Rom. 6:8 and 8:17).
But to all who enter the second death as a punishment for their own wilful sins, after being enlightened by the Spirit of truth and not as justified sacrificers with Jesus, it will be a great hurt, a severe loss, the loss of all hope, the extinction of all life, in which there is no hope of a resurrection; for Christ dieth no more; and for such there remains no further share in the sacrifice for Adamic sin, and which released from Adamic death (Heb. 10:26).
(12). Next we saw that the living members of Christ – those that are alive and remain in the presence of Christ – these have a special work to do, in introducing the present King. We had long since seen that among the many figures used to represent the union and fellowship which exist between Jesus and his Church, one of the most forcible is that which represents all as one person, Jesus the head, and the Church the joints and members of the body. In this figure the last members would be the feet; and while there has been a hand and foot class all along in every age of the Church, yet of the Church, as a whole, the last members are the feet. Hence if we have the right appreciation of the Word, the living members are the feet of the anointed body – the Christ.
And just in harmony, we here found the Prophet testifying, "How beautiful are the FEET of Him that bringeth good tidings of good...that saith unto Zion thy God REIGNETH (Isa. 52:7). We found not only that the living saints were the feet class, but that we were making this very proclamation to Zion as foretold by the Prophet, saying, "Thy God reigneth" – the Lord is present – the kingdom is being set up and is beginning, in its own quiet way, the breaking in pieces and consuming of every opposing thing.
(13). About next in order came, "The blessed dying," mentioned in Rev. 14:13, and we saw for the first time that the evidence is clear, that all who become sacrifices must die. The difference between those who remain unto the presence of the Lord and those who "fell asleep in Jesus" previously, being [R515 : page 2] that we shall not sleep. The overcomers in these days of his presence will not sleep, for in the very moment of death they "shall be changed" from human to spiritual beings. Hence, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from HENCEFORTH; yea, saith the Spirit, they shall rest from their labors, but their works follow with them."
This in turn led to the appreciation of Psa. 82:6,8: "I have said ye are GOD'S; all of you children of the Highest: but ye shall all die like MEN." This was very confirmatory of what we had seen of the distinctness of nature between men and the "new creatures," between human nature which we have from Adam, and the divine nature promised to those who follow the captain in sacrificing the human nature.
Of the light shining during the past year – on Revelation, on the invisible things of God, the increasing evidence of the presence of Christ both in the condition of the Church, and the continued preparation of the world for a conflict, by uniting into societies, are fresh in your memory. Also the evidence presented of the credibility and authenticity of the New Testament Scriptures, called out by the claim of some that they were as competent, and better able to understand and express truth than the Apostles. Also the discussion in all its phases of that important question, "Whose Son is He?" We found no lack of evidence that he was the Anointed Son of the living God, and that his life was "from above," and came not through the sin and death-tainted line of Adam. We thus disproved the claims of some who asserted that he was the son of Joseph; and not only so, but proved that, if a son of Joseph, he would have been of the line of Solomon and hence not the heir to "David's throne," since the promise to Solomon was on condition of loyalty to God, and he was cast off, that the true heir should come by another of David's sons – Nathan – from whom Mary descended. And with many truths has the Lord fed us, making very clear, we trust, to all the little flock that the basis of all hope to the Church or the world is the favor of God exercised by and through a Redeemer and a ransom price. Lastly, we have seen that the "Arch-angel" – the chief messenger of Jehovah – is now our highly exalted Lord of all, the Redeemer of the world, the Head or Bridegroom of the Church.
And now, commencing another year, we trust that it will refresh and strengthen you all, to look back at the way that God hath led us.
"He leadeth us; oh, blessed thought"!
What better evidence could we have that we are on the shining way to perfect Day, than by glancing back. Ours has truly been a shining path – shining more and more. Each new ray of light has added to, instead of contradicting that previously received; and thus we may expect it to continue until the full blaze is reached – when we shall know as we are known – if we continue to follow humbly the Master's leading.
Truly, this is not only an evidence of the Lord's leading but His presence, for thus he told us it should be, when he would come and knock; blessed would be those servants who would be watching and open unto him immediately – He would come in to them and cause them to sit down to meat (food – refreshing and strengthening truth) and come forth and serve them (Luke 12:37 and Rev. 3:20).
We would not presume on past leading as a proof of leading during another year now beginning, but would keep in mind that as the natural branches were broken off because of boastfulness and unbelief, so we should be in danger if we ceased to "hold the head" in proper reverence. But by the grace of God we start upon another year trusting the same promises, that "He that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." We shall expect more meat in due season from the Master who is feeding us – yet doubtless there will be trials and testings of courage and faith, to see whether we have made proper use of the meat already given us. Beloved, let us give more earnest heed, lest at any time we should let those things slip; but, laying aside every hindrance and weight, let us, afresh with vigor, lay hold upon the great hopes set before us in the Gospel – glory, honor and immortality – the divine nature.
Let us bear in mind that the Presence of Christ, and Whose son is he? were the tests at the first advent, and over that stone the fleshy house of Israel stumbled, as now in His presence a second time, the same questions are asked and discussed, and over the same stone now present in the path many are falling, for "He shall be for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel" (Isa. 8:14. and 1 Pet. 2:5-8).
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – The Emphatic Diaglott received this morning, for which many thanks. I have now pleasure in forwarding my yearly subscription and a small contribution to the Tract Fund; should rejoice if it were more.
For twenty years, and indeed until the advent of "Food" twelve months ago, the United States was of all places in the world the last that I should have thought of for receiving spiritual instruction and consolation from; and the smile of pity, or amazement, or incredulity with which the mention of these glad tidings, or the presentation of "Food," is received by the image worshipers here, appears to indicate that it is the last place they wish to receive it from.
The good news appears to be most acceptable to "Dissenters," and still more so to those who are sectarians in name only, but to the "Orthodox" ones it is most objectionable....A great stumbling block to many is the fact that we have no sectarian badge, and while seeing but little truth in many so fettered, they cannot realize any in those who are absolutely free. I thank my Lord that this great light has shone upon me, and I pray that I may be enabled steadfastly and faithfully to walk in the light until death.
Your article in January WATCH TOWER, as to the solitariness and loneliness [R515 : page 3] of individual believers has, doubtless been felt by many besides myself, but though sometimes wishing for kindred companionship, I rejoice in the deliverance from the bondage of the multitude; and although I should be glad to meet with others for instruction and communion, I often think this severance is preferable, lest a sectarian spirit should spring up.
O how clear is the Word from the new teaching, and how harmonious; how vividly at times is the truth revealed, and what a comforting change from the doubts and misgivings, and the continual unrest and disquietude of former days! I thank the Lord for all these mercies, and pray that he will bless and prosper and enlighten and keep steadfast in his truth those who are disseminating his Word.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – Many warm thanks for your publications, which besides the "Concordance," reached me in due time. I think they are inestimable in value, as they explain the blessed Word so that all that "have an ear to hear" ought to hear.
I have thrown aside all literature except the Bible, and even that single book would now take more time to study than I really can get. While in the past I never studied so much as now, and while the reading of other books occupied most of my time, yet I thought to know the doctrine of the Bible by heart. Whenever I read a chapter, it seemed to me so old and indifferent that I never could delight myself in reading it. But now everything is new, all is full of life and fire, which warms my heart up to devotion and praise, so I can thank God now that I ever was born. Especially I adore Him that I have the privilege to live in this grand time, when knowledge is increased, and that I am found worthy to suffer with our Lord, that I also may be exalted with him.
I have observed through your paper the sound position which you hold, and my constant prayer is, that the God of all grace might give you more wisdom, and build you up more and more. Surely you have a very difficult position, which requires constant watchfulness, and especially prayerfulness, in order to escape the snares of the adversary.
I am enabled, by God's grace, to say that I am leaning on God's Word, feeding in the pleasant pasture of peace, drawing water out of the wells of salvation, and rejoicing in hope of glory. My faith is unwavering, my prayers fervent, and I have the assurance that God the Father accepts my sacrifice. Though only five years in this country, only 20 years of age, I have seen hard times, experienced many things, and have been led wondrously by the hand of my heavenly Father; and my will in the future is to live only for our Redeemer's cause, come what will.
I have a perfect knowledge of the German language, and I am meditating upon what I could do. When the German people are won, they are faithful. I am assured there will be a way opened to them by our divine Lord somehow. To Him be praise, honor and glory, both now and forever.
C. T. RUSSELL, DEAR SIR: – Last October I received a copy of "ZION'S WATCH TOWER." I do not know what I thought of it then, but recently I came across it in looking over old papers, and for two days I have been reading and re-reading it very attentively.
I am a Presbyterian greatly interested in Bible study, but for years I have felt that I was barely clinging to the verge of the true light yet to be revealed. And yet, enough has been graciously vouchsafed to me by breaking away from denominational theories, and comparing scripture with scripture, to satisfy me that richer, greener pastures are within reach of every Christian than the great majority are ready or willing to feed in. With the slight advance I have made by striving to sink self-will in the Divine will, and trusting and believing in the Holy Spirit's power to enlighten my mind in the study of the Word, I find many, in pulpit and pew, whom I know have little sympathy in what they deem departure from "old landmarks." But that is all nothing to me. I have exulted in the restfulness and joy that certain new unfoldings have brought to me, and from the remaining restlessness and discontent, I know I am not yet fully anchored upon the solid foundation, cleared of the "hay, wood and stubble" of human building, and am looking, fully expecting the clearer understanding of "things to come" which Christ has promised to his "friends." Will you please send me "Food for Thinking Christians."
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – Last week I made two hundred calls here; and after exhorting each one to "test" the "WATCH TOWER" by God's own word, and not by old sectarian ideas, I left them the Oct. number, with the understanding that should they become interested in the themes of that number, they should have more truth on the same line. I see that God has set me right in the very best channel for doing good. I find it to be very humiliating to the natural man to thus suffer as I do, but to the spiritual it is a holy highway in which I walk, carrying armfuls of "FOOD" to starving saints. I think if every city could have a true, suffering and competent saint to go from house to house with this "BREAD," that many of the enslaved ones would soon see deliverance coming, and thus be lifted out of the fearful snare of the devil, from which I have been picked and set at liberty.
I have stood in the pulpits of different denominations, exhorting sinners to escape eternal torment, and I thus scared many into the church. Thus I went from town to town and city to city telling the people of the eternal pain and anguish they must surely expect except they took my advice. And all that time I did not know whether eternal torment, or heaven would be my everlasting abode. I used to say these very words to my hearers: "A moment's space removes me to that heavenly place, or shuts me up in hell." But where are my scared hearers now? Their religion turned out to be a forced profession through fear of hell, and not LOVE to God. And nearly as soon (and sometime before), I left them they got back again as before. But now, how changed is all this! I have now spent nearly a year going from town to town scattering the real truth – this blessed Gospel. I now no longer wonder why Jesus came 4,000 years too late. Thank God he has tasted death for all; and, as Peter said, in the TIME of restitution he will set the captive free. O how I long to see it come!
DEAR FRIENDS: – Paper and Tabernacle Tract at hand, for which accept my thanks. O what joy thrills my heart at the receipt of anything from your office! I never had anything like it in all my life. When I read in TOWER about your celebration of the Lord's Supper, I was overcome with an inexpressible joy that I couldn't read the article for tears for some time. When I reached the point where Bro. Sunderlin called to mind Jesus' words, "Verily one of you which eateth shall betray me," I thought, O how often I had denied the dear Lord in the past through ignorance of the true teaching of His Word. O, what a Gospel feast now!
"Wonderful things in the Bible I see."
The ground seems very hard and sterile here. I see so little fruits of my labors that sometimes I feel lonely and sad; but when the WATCH TOWER comes, I seem to be on an oasis for a while, and I dive afresh into the great mine of truth; and I know not how many times I say, "Glory to God," before I get through my feast; but I sow in great hope, for I know it is good seed and must take root somewhere.
DEAR BROTHER: – The time is come when a remittance is due. I enclose $15. Last year I took ten papers in the hope of interesting and doing good to some. I find some actually refuse them; others refused to be interested; and as I do not believe in forcing men, nor think it proper to cast pearls in an unseemly place, this year you may send me five copies. It would give me pleasure to increase rather than decrease the number, but when Jesus says, "Let them alone," I obey. Please send me a Variorum Bible, and, if you can, send me two more of "Food for Thinking Christians," and two more "Tabernacle Teachings," as a reserve for opportunity to do good. I know that the others I got have done good. What remains of the remittance place where you think best. I think the claim of the Swedes is good.
Perhaps you would like to know who I am or what I am. I am over seventy years of age; what the world would call a poor man, a shoemaker, or rather a shoemender. But I bless God for his goodness to me. I was brought up a Presbyterian; came to this country forty-four years ago. From conviction I became a Baptist; afterwards in 1845 or '46 George Storr's sermons were the means of a great theological revolution with me. The hand of fellowship was withdrawn from me, because I believed I had no immortality now, but rejoiced I had it as a PRIZE BEFORE ME, and also because I believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. The Bible then seemed to me like a new book, and I bless God it has been brighter and brighter all along.
As proof texts for the restitution of the human race, although I have no remembrance of seeing them alluded to, I would quote Ps. 90:3. "Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men," I used to look upon the word return, as to return to dust, but I was forcibly impressed by noticing that word marked by a capital R as being an emphatic word – and the reason assigned in the following verse, "For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night." God is not limited by years nor ages for the accomplishment for his gracious purposes.
Again, Jeremiah 12:15-17: "And it shall come to pass, after that I have plucked them out I will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them again every man to his heritage, and every man to his land. And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of, my people to swear by my name the Lord liveth; (as they taught my people to swear by Baal;) then shall they be built up in the midst of my people. But if they will not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation, saith the Lord." By carefully reading the preceding part of the chapter, I came to the conclusion these promises are yet in the future. "Oh, that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men." Yours in love,
DEAR BRETHREN: – I have read the "Food" in connection with the "Tower" and, owing to the clearer light obtained, find much pleasure therein. Thanks to Bro. G. A. Rose, who introduced them in this section. In response to the statement, that you have other reading matter for earnest inquirers, I write in the hope of obtaining.
It seems as if the dense night that has enshrouded us is at last dissolving, and the glorious light of the Word is slowly but surely breaking upon our benighted minds. We open our eyes in a convulsion of fear, just as the horrid nightmare is about to crush us with eternal torment, and lo, we are surrounded with the full radiance of day! A sweet sense of relief fills us with unutterable joy. But millions more are still blindly agonizing with their dreams, fearing to open their eyes lest they should find the awful vision real. This view is sad enough, but the break of day is near.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – ... The Food and Tabernacle have been at work. We have been calling the attention of our neighbors and friends to read, but have only found one or two that want to learn. As for me and my house we are fully determined to follow after the truth, and lay aside our church creeds and rely on the Word of God. I am over sixty years of age; and have been very active in the cause of Christ for 40 years, but my light was dim until I got the WATCH TOWER and pamphlets. I held the office of deacon of the Baptist church here one year ago, but have come out of her, and, with one or two more, we stand alone. I have but very little of this world's goods, but I feel truly rich to think that I have found the light and truth even in my old age. It is more pleasure to me now to read God's Word than it was before.
Your brother in the Lord,
"We hear so much said of this suspected text, and that doubtful passage; of this probable interpolation from the margin, and of the long quarrel which scholars have waged over that Greek letter, mark, or accent, that we sometime forget that God, in his constitution of the Bible, has made it impossible to seriously pervert it. Of course there will be erroneous transcriptions. The hand of the scribe is not inspired. Of course there may be, here and there, insertions, or marginal note written into the text. Of course there may be a word dropped out, or a vowel omitted, in one passage or another. The eye of the scribe will sometimes fail to discern distinctly what it sees or what it omits; and there must be of necessity more or less liability to minute error in making of so many writings. But the great course of doctrine cannot be eliminated from the Scriptures, except as you tear the whole fabric into tatters. It is interwoven, each part with every other – story, law, precept, proverb, the biographies of Christ by the evangelist, and the argument of Christ by the Apostles, and the vision of Christ in Apocalypse; until, if you throw away one part, you must equally throw away many others. You may get rid of the story of Balaam; though, if you do, you will miss one of the most picturesque and impressive stories in all the Old Testament. But, what then will you do with the reference to him in Micah, in Peter, and in Revelation? You may get rid, perhaps, of the miracle of the passage of the Red Sea, and suppose a mere shift of the wind when Pharaoh's army was divinely destroyed. But, what then are you to do with the Song of Moses and of Miriam? and what with the seventy-sixth Psalm, and the one hundred and fourteenth? and what with the Song of Moses and the Lamb, in the crowning book of the Apocalypse? They are inter-braided, like threads that have been woven so closely together that you cannot tear them apart without destroying the fabric. You cannot extract one and leave the rest, with any ingenuity or by any force.– H. L. Hastings.
"LOVING words will cost but little,
Journeying up the hill of life;
But they make the weak and weary
Stronger, braver for the strife.
Do you count them only trifles?
What to earth are sun and rain?
Never was a kind word wasted,
Never one was said in vain."
"Who loved me, and gave himself for me." – Gal. 2:10.
Three little sunbeams, gilding all I see:
Three little chords, each full of melody;
Three little leaves, balm for my agony.
HE loved me, the Father's only Son;
He gave himself, the precious spotless One;
He shed his blood, and thus the work was done.
He LOVED, not merely pitied, here I rest;
Sorrow may come – I to his heart am pressed;
What should I fear while sheltered on his breast!
Wonder of wonders, Jesus loved ME!
Wretched – lest – ruined – sunk in misery.
He sought me – found me – raised me – set me free.
My soul, the order of the words approves –
Christ FIRST, me LAST, nothing between but LOVE!
Lord, keep me always down, thyself above!
Trusting in thee, not struggling restlessly,
So shall I daily gain the victory.
I – "yet not I" – but "Christ" – "WHO LOVED ME."
"But I say, Have they not heard? Yes, verily their sound went into all the earth and their words to the ends of the world." Rom. 10:18.
By many, this scripture is understood to mean, that in Paul's day the Gospel had been preached everywhere and heard by everyone. This is a mistake, as we shall see. To make such a statement, would not only contradict Paul's utterance in the fourteenth verse of this same chapter and elsewhere, but it would also contradict facts, for we know that the Gospel was not preached before Jesus came, and that, since then – during the few years after, when Paul wrote this epistle – it never reached in the remotest sense, one-tenth of all the world. It could not have reached the vast countries then undiscovered and unknown – America, Lower Africa, Further Asia, Australia, etc.
The Apostle's meaning will be clear when his discourse is considered as a whole. The ninth, tenth and eleventh chapters should be taken together, and studied as one subject. Then it will be seen that the apostle, by reasoning from the Old Testament Scriptures, is showing that the Gospel is to be preached to all the world, and not to Israel only, as some had imagined. To support his argument he repeatedly quotes from the Prophets. This is not clearly shown by the ordinary translation, in reading which it is difficult to discern which are Paul's words and which the statements of the Prophets.
It should also be borne in mind that the Prophets seldom speak of things as future, but instead, they take a future standpoint and speak of things future as though they were accomplished in the past. Thus Isaiah, in referring to the birth of Jesus – a thing then future – spoke of it as though already accomplished, saying, "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given." (Isa. 9:6.) Thus also "went," in the above text, should be understood; and the real meaning of the passage is seen to be "Verily their sound shall go into all the earth." In harmony with this custom of the Prophets, our translators should have rendered Paul's expression as future also. It would then read: "But I say, Shall they not hear? Yea, verily their sound shall go into all the earth." The same Greek word here translated heard (past tense) is in Acts 3:22,23, and elsewhere translated shall hear (future tense).
[Rom. 9:30-33.] What must we conclude, then, concerning God's dealings with Israel and the Gentiles? We conclude that though Israel has been seeking to be right and justified before God for over 1800 years, and the heathen nations were indifferent to and ignorant of it, yet now that it is offered, Israel will reject and the heathen accept the Gospel. Why? Israel, as a nation, is really hindered because they expect it by works, while the heathen will be better prepared to accept it by faith in Christ's finished work. Israel, feeling so confident that she can approve herself to God by works of obedience, stumbles at the simplicity of the Gospel and cannot believe that
"Jesus died and paid it all,Therefore, instead of accepting of Christ's ransom, they stumbled over and rejected the only way to God. This was foreshown by the prophet's words: "Behold I lay in Sion a stumbling stone, and rock of offence; and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed."
All the debt we owe."
[Chap. 10:1-4.] Though I speak thus plainly about Israel and their stumbling, do not understand me to rejoice in their fall, for I desire and pray that they might be saved. I do not accuse them of indifference and willful unbelief; nay, they have great zeal for God, but they have a plan and way of their own, and are thus blinded and cannot see God's way and plan of justifying through a ransom. Hence they are striving to keep the Law in every particular, which in their degenerate condition is an impossibility, and are rejecting Christ, who before the tribunal of justice became the ransom, substitute, or representative of all who will accept of his service; and for all such he met and fulfilled the claims of the Law – DEATH.
[Vs. 5-10.] Moses explains (Lev. 18:5) that the man who does right according to the Law shall continue to live, and not die; but in all the time since Moses thus wrote, none have succeeded in meriting life – death claimed all. It is therefore useless to longer look to works. We are proclaiming that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. Jesus' death settled the claims of the law upon all who accept his ransom, and this is the glad tidings which we now proclaim, that a right to life may be had by accepting of the redemption provided through Christ's sacrifice for our sins.
But, my brethren, as Moses also said (Deut. 30:11-14), this thing is not hidden from them, neither is it far off, difficult to understand, and those who banish prejudice and exercise faith will not say, Who ascended into heaven to bring Christ down from above, or who descended into the grave to bring Christ back from the dead? But what will faith say? Faith will say just what Moses said (Deut. 30:14). The word (that is, the truth which we preach), is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart – it is reasonable and plain that you may understand. Faith accepts of the coming of Christ from above, his death, his resurrection and ascension, and finds abundant foundation in the words of Jesus, the Prophets and Apostles – unimpeachable witnesses. Unless you believe this, you of course cannot accept of his sacrifice as being the end of the law and the cancelling of its death-penalty against you as a violator of it.
But if you would lay hold of this great salvation, you must publicly and openly confess that Jesus is Lord – your Master; that by his death he purchased you and thus became your owner; for "To this end Christ both died and revived, that he might be LORD [owner, master] both of the dead and living." (Rom. 14:9) And you must not only own and believe that he is your purchaser, Redeemer and LORD, but also that he is a living LORD – that God raised him from death and highly exalted him to a higher nature than that which he gave as our ransom. To believe and thus confess is acceptable with God, and to such believers it will be plain that Christ settled all the condemnation of the Law against them, and such may have joy and peace in thus believing. After all, it is with the heart that men believe. No matter how much their minds may be convinced of the truth, if their hearts are stubborn they will not believe. Brethren, get your hearts right, and then you will be able both to believe on and confess Jesus as your Lord.
[Vs. 11-13.] This general principle of faith and release from condemnation in God's sight, is proved by the prophet's words to apply not only to Israel but to all mankind, viz: "WHOSOEVER believeth on him shall not be ashamed." This shows that no matter how much preference was shown the Jew under the Law, there is to be no difference shown under the Gospel, for the same Lord over all is rich enough to settle the claims of all that come unto him and ask for a share in his ransom. We have proof of this in the prophecy which says: "WHOSOEVER shall call upon the name of the LORD shall be saved."
[Vs. 14-17.] And this brings us to another question, namely: Is it not very proper to preach the glad tidings of ransom and salvation through Christ to the Gentiles or heathen, as well as to Israel? Certainly, the quotation last made implies this; for how could all call on Christ as Lord without believing? and how could they believe on him except they should hear? and how could they hear without a preacher? and how can preachers go forth truly unless commissioned and sent of God. Hence it is evident that God meant this glad tidings to be preached to the Gentiles and to every creature. Not only can we reason it out logically thus, but we find a positive statement that the glad tidings will be preached, which implies that the Law will be at an end to every one who heareth and believeth. The prophets Isaiah and Nahum testify of this preaching, saying: "How beautiful the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace [reconciliation through his blood – the remission of sins] and bring good tidings of good things," which come as a result.
But we must not hastily suppose that when preached all will receive the glad tidings; for the Prophet, speaking of things future as though they were past, again testifies of the result of the preaching, saying: "Lord, who hath believed our report?" Which implies that the real believers and confessors would be few, at least for awhile. But this proves that faith is to be the result of hearing – hearing God's truth.
[Vs. 18-21.] Now we inquire, Will the fact that few will believe prove that the testimony will reach all, in proof of which I again quote from the Prophet. He says: "Their sound went [shall go] into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world." This proves that the Gentiles shall yet have this Gospel preached to them. Now how about Israel? Shall not they as a people come to know – understand and appreciate – the glad tidings? Yes, but not for a long time; they are yet a stiff-necked and stubborn people. As Moses said, God will (have to) provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation will anger you.
But Isaiah speaks yet more pointedly of Israel's rejection of the message and the acceptance of it by the heathen, saying: "I was found of them that sought me not, I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me." And speaking of Israel he says, "All day long I have stretched out my hands to a disobedient and gainsaying [or self-willed] people."
[Chap. 11:1-5.] In view of these declarations of the Prophets showing that Israel will have to be thus dealt with and disciplined, I ask: Hath God utterly cast away his people Israel? God forbid; for I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not utterly cast away his people whom he formerly recognized and favored. Call to mind Elijah's prayer against Israel, saying: "Lord, they have killed thy prophets and digged down thine altars, and I am left alone, and they seek my life." But what was God's answer? "I have reserved to myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal." Even so at this present time there is a remnant who through God's favor will accept the glad tidings and will not stumble. I, Paul, rejoice that I am of that favored remnant.
[Vs. 6-8.] But now another point; this remnant is not saved by the works of the Law, nor because they almost kept it, but by accepting of God's favor through Christ. While Israel as a nation fails to receive the blessing sought by works of the Law, the chosen ones, the remnant of Israel and those of the heathen who receive the glad tidings – these get the blessing. These being justified, not by works, but by faith in Christ as their Redeemer (substitute), thereby gain the privilege of becoming sons of God in the divine plan and joint heirs with Jesus Christ in the coming kingdom. The rest, both of Israel and the nations, will be blinded to the Gospel glories. The God of this world will blind them all except those who by faithfulness make their selection sure – a "little flock."
[Vs. 9,10.] David also foretold Israel's stumbling, saying: "Let their table be made a snare and a trap and a stumbling-block and a recompense unto them" [i.e., their downfall shall be over the very blessings which God gave them; over their blessings they shall stumble. God had given them food such as he gave to no other people – to them God had committed the oracles of truth, the prophecies and the types which shadowed forth the sacrifice for sin, and the blessings following that atoning sacrifice; yet becoming proud and vain of the honors conferred; they thereby stumbled over the very graciousness of God's plan shown to them in types.] Thus their eyes were darkened, and they were bowed down to see only the earthly promises.
[Vs. 11-14.] But now we come to another question – admitting that Israel will and is stumbling as foretold – I ask: Have they stumbled to fall irrevocably – will they ever again come into fellowship with God? God forbid that they should forever remain cast off; the significance of their fall is rather to be a blessing to the Gentiles than a permanent injury to Israel. And we may reason that if their fall from favor results in riches to the world – the Gentiles – then their restoration to favor, which God's promises guarantee, will imply an abundance of divine favor both to Jew and Gentile. I speak to you Gentiles thus, because being the apostle to the Gentiles I desire to show the importance of the Gentiles in God's plan, and to stimulate my countrymen to emulation, and thus recover some of them from blindness.
[Vs. 15-21.] Thus is seen the breadth of God's plans. We know that there are certain promises made to Israel which must yet be fulfilled; and if they be temporarily postponed and a blessing unexpectedly given to the Gentiles, it argues that God's plans, as we now see them, are broader than we had at first supposed, and include Gentiles as well as Jews; for if the casting away of them opens a door of favor to the Gentiles, what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead. That is to say, God's promises to Israel are such as imply their resurrection from death – their restitution – and now that we learn that the World in general is reconciled to God and their sin atoned for by the ransom, we may reasonably conclude that "life from the dead" – restitution – will come to all the heathen as well as to Israel. We see Israel to be merely a first-fruit of the world, the first favored; and if God has a blessing for them as promised, it follows that he has the same blessing for other nations, for if the first-fruit, or sample, be holy – acceptable and blessed of God – so also the mass which it represents.
If the root or original promise of God made to Abraham and Israel retain its life, it must bring forth the promised fruit – the blessing of all the families of the earth. The root of these promises is Abrahamic and Israelitish, and though some of the natural branches or offspring were broken off, and wild heathen branches grafted in instead, with them to partake of the life from the root – yea, the very fatness of the promise – yet they should not be puffed up against the broken off branches, but humbly and thankfully remember that they are occupying the place originally belonging to the natural descendants. Walk humbly, for if because of pride and unbelief they failed and were cast off, God would be as likely to cut off the wild [R516 : page 5] branches under similar circumstances.*
[Vs. 22-24.] Here we find two prominent characteristics of our Heavenly Father illustrated – his love and his justice – his goodness and severity. He is abundant in mercy and goodness, but will by no means clear the guilty. His goodness is manifest by the promise and the blessings it contains and his severity or justice in the cutting off from those favors of all the unfaithful. But even in cutting Israel off, God is merciful and kind; and even though cut off they may be re-engrafted, if they exercise the needful faith.
[Vs. 25-27.] Here is a point not generally known; it is a secret as yet – a mystery – and will show you that God's plan is more comprehensive than you have yet appreciated; and by showing you that you have not all wisdom, it will enable you to keep humble and to search for the further unfoldings of God's plans. The mystery is this: The blindness and breaking off of Israel will not continue forever, it will only last until the choicest, fittest branches from the Gentiles have been properly engrafted on the root – the Abrahamic promise. Then the broken off branches shall be reunited to the root. The fact is, the root or promise contains a double set of branches first: the select branches (natural and engrafted) the spiritual seed of Abraham – the Christ which is to bless all nations; and secondly, a lower order of re-engrafted branches (Israel restored) – the natural seed of Abraham through which the spiritual seed will principally operate in blessing all nations.
Thus seen, all Israel will be saved FROM THEIR BLINDNESS in due time, and shall yet share in the very blessings they expected when they were broken off, viz.: the natural or earthly part of the blessings – the better or spiritual part of the Abrahamic blessing being conferred upon the elect, the chosen, who through much tribulation and crucifixion of the flesh and following of the Master are counted worthy of the chief honor – the spiritual blessings. In proof of what I state as to the recovery of Israel from her cast-off condition, I quote Jehovah's words by the prophet: "There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them when I shall take away their sins."
[Vs. 28-30.] This prophetic statement shows us, beloved Gentile grafts, that though the natural branches are treated as enemies for the present, and for your exaltation, yet really they are still beloved of God, and he has blessings yet in store for them, as promised to their fathers; for any free gift and promise which God makes is sure of fulfilment. He knew all about this temporary lopping off, before he made his promises concerning them, and knowing the end from the beginning makes it unnecessary for him ever to repent of a promise made to any.
Let us now analyze this prophecy and see that it implies what we have before suggested to be God's plan, viz., to bring the natural branches again into God's favor. Jacob clearly means fleshly Israel, and from these ungodliness is to be turned away – but not until God himself shall "take away," or "put away," or "blot out" their sins. As elsewhere shown, the sins of the world are not put away, until the close of the Gospel age, until the sufferings of the body of Christ are ended. During this age, only the sins of those who now believe are cancelled or put out of sight by God. But he who now justifies believers will then justify them, as believers in the ransom, and he will thus take away their sin through the ransom which he gave for sin – even his Son.
In turning away ungodliness a Deliverer is made use of. This is none other than Christ, the great Deliverer whom Moses promised. He shall deliver from all evil, from death, from pain and sickness, from ignorance and blindness, from every oppression of the Devil. He shall bind Satan and set free his captives, for he is Jehovah's Deliverer. This deliverer is the complete Christ, the members of the body with the Head united, complete – no more twain, but one. This deliverer comes out of Zion; it is the first-born of Zion's offspring – the overcomer and heir of all things. Hence, before the promised blessings come to Jacob (fleshly Israel) the heir of the spiritual blessings must first be developed.
Nor should we suppose that the blessings and deliverances will stop with Jacob, for, as already shown, they are but a first-fruits of restored mankind, and when they are turned to God, they shall become a channel through which the Deliverer will bless and release "all the families of the earth."
[Ver. 31.] Lift up your eyes and take now a comprehensive view of God's dealings with Israel – both spiritual Israel and "Israel after the flesh" – and see how grand and large is the plan of God which as yet is only budding. As for a long while you (Gentiles) were strangers and aliens from God, and seemingly unloved and uncared for, yet now have obtained mercy and favor, while fleshly Israel is cut off, even so these of the fleshly house are now unbelievers and cut off, that by and by they may obtain mercy and find favor through you: that is to say, God is blessing them at the very time he is cutting them off, for in blessing you and preparing the spiritual seed and Deliverer, he is making ready to bless them through you, when you as the body of Christ are complete. (Gal. 3:29.) Thus through the mercy which God now shows you, he is also providing mercy for them, to be manifested in his due time.
[Ver. 32.] God treated Israel as a nation of unbelievers, and cast them aside nationally in order that he might have mercy upon them, and bring them as a people to inherit the earthly promises made to them.
Looking at the deep workings of God's plan thus, in the light of what he tells us is future, as well as past, we can but exclaim: Oh, the rich depths of God's wisdom and knowledge! how useless for us to try to discover his dealings except as he is pleased to reveal his plans to us. His doings are all mysteries to us except as enlightened by his Spirit. Who knew this gracious plan, so much beyond human conception? Who helped the Lord to arrange such a plan, think you? This is not human wisdom and supposition. God only could be its author. A Jew never would have planned to graft in Gentiles to share the chief blessings of the promise! A Gentile never would have arranged the original stock and branches Jewish and himself a favored graft. No, the plan is clearly of God, and illustrates well both his goodness and just severity. Of him is all the plan, through his power it is all brought to pass, and to him be all the glory forever.
When the Spirit of Paul's argument is caught, it can be clearly seen that he quotes from Isaiah the words "Their sound went into all the earth and their words to the end of the world," not to prove that the Gospel had been universally published, but that it would be in due time.
"And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness [testimony] unto all nations, and then shall the end come." – Matt. 24:14.
We have seen from many evidences heretofore pointed out that we are now living in the time of the end of the Gospel Age, and that the special work of the present hour is the reaping of its harvest of ripened wheat under the direction and leading of the Lord of the harvest now present. Realizing this fact, not only from the testimony of the Word, but also from the actual work of harvest progressing before our eyes, and by the clearer light now shining, discerning as never before the blessed import of the glorious Gospel, we inquire, Has this Gospel been preached in all the world? We find that darkness still covers the earth and gross darkness the people; and the great nominal Church, the professed light-bearers and heralds of the Gospel of the Kingdom are also in darkness, and few either preach or realize fully this message of the kingdom. But if we consider for a moment what constitutes the Gospel of the Kingdom we will be assisted in realizing that this Gospel has been preached to every nation.
The work to be accomplished under the Kingdom or reign of Christ, is the restoration of all mankind to perfection of being and consequent eternal life, and this reign and work will be possible, because all have been redeemed from the curse of death by our Ransom or Substitute – because all were bought with a price, even the precious blood of Christ.
Though the Gospel or good news of the kingdom embraces all that can be known of Christ's dominion over evil, and subjection of it, and while but a few have seen the deeper and more secret parts of God's plan, and who therefore have appreciated the "good tidings" more fully than others, yet the central element of the "good news" has been published throughout the world to every nation. Though much beclouded and dimmed by the traditions of men and the deceptions of Satan, and so transformed as to rob it of much of its goodness, yet, we repeat, the central and vital point of the good news of the kingdom has been preached in all the world. That central point is, that "Christ died for our sins"; that by him "we have redemption through his blood, even the remission of sins"; that by the death of the Just One, many are justified freely from all things; that as we were condemned and delivered to the destroyer, now we are bought back with a price, even the precious blood of Christ, and are in His hands who promises to deliver the groaning creation into the liberty of sons of God; and that all accepting of Christ are to be blessed in his kingdom. This central element and first principle of glad tidings has certainly been preached in all the world, and is a fulfilment of this prediction of our Lord.
Whatever of error the nominal Church has held, this kernel of truth – redemption through the precious blood of Christ – has so far been maintained and widely heralded, though its mixture with error has greatly hindered its proper reception. Not only has the living teacher gone forth as a herald to every nation, but the Word of God, printed in every language, has been scattered like autumn leaves.
But though the good news that Messiah has come and paid our ransom price, has been so widely published, the world still shows no signs of being converted to God, and many who looked for this result are greatly disappointed. Such have entirely misapprehended the object of this dispensation in supposing it to be the conversion of the world to God, and therefore, notwithstanding the marked and foretold signs of the end, they cannot believe that we are really in its closing days.
The general object, of the preaching of the Gospel during this age, as expressed in the above text, is "for a witness unto all nations." Our Lord knew beforehand, that under the present reign of evil – under the blinding influences of the "god of this world" – the message would not convert the world, as many of his disciples have erroneously supposed; hence, instead of saying that the Gospel would be preached in all the world for its conversion, he said it would be "for a witness." [As heretofore shown, there is also in addition to this a special object for the preaching of the Gospel, elsewhere, but not here expressed, viz: the selecting of a little flock of consecrated believers, to be joint-heirs of the Kingdom with Jesus.]
But while a witness or testimony has been offered to the nations, it has not been received except by a few. "Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord [Jehovah] revealed?" (Isa. 53:1) (Jesus is Jehovah's arm stretched down to ransom and restore men.) If the Gospel is to be a witness to any, they must be able to see or accept of the testimony, or witness; and we see that though it has been preached to the nations FOR a witness, they were so blinded that they [R517 : page 5] could not receive it. But when their blindness is taken away, as we are told it shall be, then the present testimony will serve its purpose as a part in God's plan; for in due time the good news is to be testified to every individual, and the due time for opening the blind eyes, etc., so that the witness or testimony can be received, is in the Millennial Age, as we have seen.
Next let us see how the preaching of this Gospel during this age will serve as a witness in the coming age: When earth's dead millions are again restored to life, this same Gospel – good news – will be testified to all, viz: that their restoration has been brought about as the direct result of Jesus' death. Thus we read (1 Tim. 2:4-6); "God our Saviour will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."
All the restored nations having heard of this ransom will recognize the fact. Israel will remember how with wicked hands they slew the Lord. They shall remember and be ashamed; they shall look upon him whom they have pierced, and mourn over it as over the only one. (Zech. 12:10 – Young; Ezek. 16:61.) Those who lived in that day will testify that Jesus did come in the fulness of time as foretold by the Prophets, and that he was as a lamb without spot, that he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and that as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. They will also remember his claim of a coming kingdom and great power.
Others down the centuries of the Gospel Age will say, Yes, we heard of that event. Zealous disciples of the Lord went everywhere telling it; it was an unmistakable fact of history; but we heard it so often and yet saw no results from it, that it seemed like an idle tale, and we paid no attention to it.
Still others, all along the centuries preceding the advent and sacrifice, will say: We remember how we were required to offer bloody sacrifices to God for our sins; and that we could not approach him in any other way. We often wondered what it all meant, but as Paul since our day has explained, we now see, that they were all intended as types of the only acceptable sacrifice which should actually "take away the sin of the world," which the blood of bulls and goats typified, but never accomplished. Now we see that our sins have really been cancelled by his sacrifice, for as a result we are actually released from sin's penalty – death.
That marked event will thus stand out in bold prominence before all peoples and nations, and the proclamation now made will thus serve its purpose. Thus all the redeemed millions of earth, as they again step upon the stage of action, will become witnesses to the fact that the precious blood of Christ has accomplished their redemption. Thus will the Gospel – the good news that Christ gave himself a ransom for all – be testified to all and by all, in due time. Thus "the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth." Thus "he shall turn unto the people a pure language, that they may call upon the name of the Lord to serve him with one consent." (Zeph. 3:9.)
Heretofore the word preached has generally fallen upon deaf ears, and the sacred page has been opened before blind eyes, but soon, ignorance and prejudice being removed, the blind eyes shall be opened and the deaf ears shall be unstopped. (Isa. 35:5.)
Men will then recognize that the risen and glorified Christ is again present to restore and bless all the families of the earth, and that he is the great Prophet (teacher) whom Jehovah hath raised up, and they will be ready to hear and obey, as saith the Prophet Isaiah: "And many people shall go and say, Come ye [R517 : page 6] and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord [i.e., let us submit ourselves to the authority of his kingdom], to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths,...and all nations shall flow unto it." (chap. 2:2,3.)
How comparatively weak and ineffectual upon the world are the efforts now put forth, and how few can discern the blessed hope in the joyful message we carry! But when the great Prophet, Priest and King shall fully take to himself his great power and dominion, not only shall the prince of darkness be restrained, but all his works of darkness shall be destroyed by the bright shining of the Sun of Righteousness.
Nevertheless we see that it was necessary and expedient that the message should go unto all nations, though they did not receive it. The few who did receive it thereby received "power to become sons of God" – "partakers of the divine nature" and joint heirs of the kingdom (John 1:12; 2 Peter 1:4; Rom. 8:17), while it also served as a witness to the nations.
"Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out." – JOHN 12:31.
The meaning of this text and a class of parallel texts, has been, like much other Scripture, comparatively obscure until of late. As the seals one after another have been opened, each has cast light upon the others.
We think it is fair to infer that the prophets understood less about what they were writing than the apostles did, because they were inspired more to write than to understand, and had to study their own prophecies after they had written them, in order to understand them, and they were inspired to write them more specially for the benefit of those who live now, than for their own benefit. (1 Peter 1:10,11,12.) [This the regular readers of the WATCH TOWER know, but we repeat it for the possible benefit of those who are not regular readers.] We use the word "now" in the preceding sentence to cover a period of time embracing the entire Gospel age.
We conclude, also, that as the prophets understood less of their own writings than the apostles did of those same writings, so the apostles understood less of what they heard Christ say prophetically than the members of Christ who read them now at the close of the age. This we say of the present living phase of the body and not of any individual.
Not that the members living now are more inspired, nor more consecrated, nor anything of that kind, but they have passed more mile-posts along the way, have seen the fulfillment of much that was foretold by Christ and the apostles, as one after another of their sayings have been verified from that day to this. We (all consecrated Christians, members of the body of Christ) have had the benefit of most of the things which the revelator saw in vision.
We have seen most of the things spoken of by our Lord in Matt. 24th chapter fulfilled. We have seen those magnificent buildings thrown down, and "not one stone left upon another."
We have seen the "falling away" and the man of sin revealed, the son of perdition spoken of by Paul (2 Thes. 2:3) in his waxing and waning power. We have seen Israel scattered among all nations without favor, under the withering, blighting curse of God, a distinct people but not a nation. We have seen "Jerusalem trodden down of the Gentiles," and remember that the condition was to continue "until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (Luke 21:24). We have seen the beginning of their gathering "out of all countries" to their own land. We have seen the gospel "preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations." We have seen the parallels of the ages, and looked with wondering gratitude into the plan of God, and now recognize the dawning of the day of the Lord, the presence of the Master.
Having been permitted to see these things (some of which probably Paul saw but was not permitted to utter plainly then, as it was not then due to the world, neither is yet, our principal work being to "build each other up") we are enabled by the light thrown upon them, to see other things, among which is the statement of our Lord quoted at the beginning of this article.
It will be noticed by the thoughtful reader, that this statement is not in harmony with the popular theology, which places the judgment of all men in the future. For that reason it is a troublesome text to all those who would have all God's purposes regarding the probation of mankind accomplished in this world, age or dispensation.
What can such say to a statement like this, "Now is the judgment of this world," or, as most authorities have it, "Now is a judgment of this world"? But what could our Lord mean by saying that? What kind of judgment is it, who are judged now, and what is meant by the term "now"? How strange and yet how comforting it is, to find many of these passages which have so long been so troublesome, now as the temple approaches completion, are the very stones needed to complete the work.
To appreciate the sentence, let us take a look back and see what had been done for the world, in the way of redemption, at the time these words were spoken. We find upon examination that absolutely nothing had been done except to promise. That was enough, to be sure, to base a hope upon, for God's promises are "yea and amen," but actually there had not been anything done to redeem the race from death, and those who were the chosen people of God, chosen for a purpose, supposed [R518 : page 6] that they were the only people that the Lord cared anything about. The Lord had said so much to them about being his chosen people that they got the idea that he could never choose any other people.
He has said, "Ye are the children of the Lord your God;" "Thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself above all the nations that are upon the earth" (Deut. 14:1,2), and very many times he expressed himself in a similar manner; but if they had known that they were not chosen so much for their own sakes as for God's "holy name sake" (Ezek. 36:22), which means for the sake of love to all men, they would not have arrogated so much to themselves. But with all their perverseness they were a very fit instrument for the purpose for which they were chosen, else they would not have been chosen by infinite wisdom, of course.
"Unto them was committed the oracles of God," and they kept them very well, the same as a son would keep the "last will and testament" of his father written in a language which he did not understand, but which he supposed conveyed the whole estate to himself.
At the time the words were spoken, to which our attention is now directed, they had accomplished about all that was required of them at that time, and the further purposes of God were of such a nature that they were unfit instruments to be used for the accomplishment of them, and as God would not use instruments unadapted to his purpose, of course they had to be set aside. But why were they unfit? Because they had purposes of their own to accomplish which were not in harmony with the further purposes of him who had chosen them to be his people. They had agreed to be his obedient people, and that he should be their God (Josh. 24:22), but they had broken their agreement, they had made another choice, they had elected in their hearts that they would not follow the lead of any except he be a mighty one of earth, a chief among men, one who would lift them up to a condition of grandeur upon the earthly plane; it was earthly glory and honor that they wanted, and as the "prince of life" considered all such things of secondary importance, and made humility and self-denial requirements of the first importance, they chose to be under the leadership of the "prince of this world," who had offered to bestow the kingdoms of this world upon Christ if he would fall down and worship him.
True, the prince of this world was a usurper, but he was nevertheless ruling this world, and for the time being had control. He had usurped the rulership of the world for four thousand years, a long reign, and it would seem claimed it by possession, but the lawful "heir" had come, and was preparing to take it, but until he actually did take it, he would not be its ruler or prince, and he never so styled himself, nor is he so called by the Apostles, but on the contrary he expressly says to Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world" (Kosmo, arrangement); it was to be quite a different arrangement. So, if his kingdom was not of this world, he could not be the "prince of this world," then his language could have no reference to himself as some suppose, thinking perhaps that there is ground for that opinion in Matt. 21:33-45; but though that parable had regard to his lawful heirship, there is no intimation that he was the prince or ruler, and, as we have said, his words to Pilate are in direct contradiction to any such thought.
Then we must seek for the meaning of these words somewhere else. We said there had nothing been done, actually toward redeeming the race. There had been sin-offerings, so-called, and various kinds of sacrifices, but none of them could redeem the race from death, none could make atonement for sin; they were all "shadows of good things to come." All that the house of Israel had and did was typical, and was to be superseded by others. Their sacrifices pointed to "better sacrifices," their promises to "better promises," their covenant to a "better covenant," their hope to a "better hope," and their testament to a better testament." (Heb. 7:19-22; 8:6; 9:23.) But when would these better things be? When the prince of this world should be cast out. But Jesus said "now shall the prince of this world be cast out," and we do not see things very much better yet.
Then we had better examine that little word "now," and perhaps now is as good a time for it as any. Let us first look at some passages of Scripture where the word is used in a similar sense, which will perhaps give us a clue to it, making the sense more readily recognizable.
Paul says (1 Cor. 13:12), "Now we see through a glass darkly." "Now I know in part." That was true then and is still true, though, as it is a little lighter, this much farther along we can see better. Yet we still see through the same glass somewhat darkly; it is still "Now." In Matt. 3:10 we read: "Now also the axe is laid [applied] unto the root of the tree," etc. The same axe of Gospel requirement, reckoning the intention for the act (see Matt. 5:22-28), still lies at the root of the trees. This is the real circumcision, and cuts off the "old man," whose place is supplied by the new creature. The old requirement (or axe) lopped off some of the branches; but "now," throughout the Gospel age, it is applied at the root. There must be an utter destruction of the flesh; there must be a "new lump." The past experience with the old has shown to the world that there must be a "new man," a new house, and that house is now being built up "a spiritual house."
That "now" is not yet quite complete. In Rom. 3:20,21, we read: "By the law is the knowledge of sin; but "now" the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets." The same is still true with regard to the same things; it is still the same "now."
Again, in Rom. 8:22, we read: "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now, and not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruit of the spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body" (the church, which is his body), not bodies. We are still groaning, we are still waiting, the same "now" is not expired.
We understand that our Lord uses the word now in the same sense that it is used in these passages; that is, it applies to the whole time from Christ's first to his second coming at least, and covers the Gospel age up to the time that Christ with his saints takes the kingdom.
As though he had said, the time to begin the work of salvation has come. There is now no further use for "bleeding birds, and bleeding beasts," the reality which these typified is now to take place, the "better sacrifices" now begin to be offered as the head laid next to the body is placed upon the altar. (Lev. 1:12,13.) "Now" the real work commences, and in it is included a judgment of this world, and the overthrow, casting out of its prince.
The result of that which is now beginning, is that the ruler of this world shall be cast out, and it will be at the desire of his own subjects. And even though he may seem to triumph because I am "lifted up from the earth," yet by that very means I will draw all unto me. "Now is the judgment (krisis – accusation, condemnation) of this world; and "judgment (krima, which includes law) must begin at the house of God." What do we see? The old house of God, the house of Israel, was condemned and "left desolate"; and even that was a type, for that which has happened to the second house is the same, and it is from the remnant of both houses that the new house is formed. Compare Isa. 11:11; Rom. 9:27; 11:5; Eph. 2:15. See, also, Isa. 8:14. "The remnant [of both houses] of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth." (Zeph. 3:13.)
This remnant of "both houses of Israel" (how significant is the meaning of Israel: RULING WITH GOD; see Young's Con.) judge themselves; and "when we are [thus] judged we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." (1 Cor. 11:31,32.) He who is among this class "cometh not into [future] judgment, but has passed [legally] out of death into life." (John 5:24, R.V.) "There is therefore now no condemnation [consequently no future judgment] to them that are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and death." (Rom. 8:1,2, R.V.)
While thus judging themselves they judge (condemn) the world the same as Noah did (Heb. 11:7), and their "judgment is just" because they seek not their own will, but the will of their Heavenly Father.
Another sense in which we should consider the words, "Now is the, or a judgment of this world," though a secondary sense, is yet an important one, and though it is not a legal judgment, because rendered by those who are themselves legally dead (under sentence), yet it is a fact that such a judgment is being passed – i.e., this world is now passing judgment upon its rulership and condemning it, and the result will be in harmony with the judgment of the other class. The world (by acclamation) will cast out the prince of this world, and the universal desire will be for a different ruler. There are yet but a few comparatively who desire a righteous ruler, but the oppression of the present power will become so great that the universal desire will be for a king to rule in righteousness. Then the "Desire of all nations shall come," and the glory of this latter house (rulership) shall be greater than the former." (Hag. 2:7-9.) Who, especially among those who are watching, cannot see the discontent prevailing with regard to the rulership of this world? Communism, Nihilism, and all that element, is the result of this judgment of the world, who suppose that they can bring this prince to terms. But, ah! they can neither [R519 : page 7] bring him to terms nor cast him out, because they operate upon the same principles that he does. They can express their judgment and dissatisfaction, but that is all they can do; they cannot even bind him. But the "Prince of life" is getting things ready, and when all is complete Satan will fall from his present position as ruler "like lightning." This Jesus saw in vision (Luke 10:18). But oh, the terrible events connected with his overthrow! What tongue or pen can portray them?
Probably no more vivid description could be given than is given in the Book of Zephaniah. You should read it all carefully; and let those who are not familiar with these things, and yet desire to have truth and righteousness prevail in the earth, dwell upon the third verse of the second chapter; and let all those who have sacrificed with Christ rejoice in what is said in the third chapter, from the 16th to the 20th verses, inclusive.
There are some (they are "a solemn assembly") who see many of these things, but they follow afar off, for "the reproach is a burden" to them; but when the tribulation gets heavy enough they will be separated and gathered; this is reason for our comfort concerning them (18th verse).
Another argument which we would present against the thought that the words "prince of this world" might refer to Christ himself and "the judgment of this world" refer to his trial before the Sanhedrim and Pilate, is this: Paul says (1 Cor. 2:7,8): "The hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory, none of the princes of this world knew, for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory."
This would preclude his being either the, or a prince of this world. Jesus made the announcement, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand," and authorized his disciples to proclaim the same, but soon after said to Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world."
These terms are all of similar import and were true then; indeed, that work of Jesus and his disciples was the beginning of the end, it was the first part of the period embraced in the word "now," and we are in the last part of the same period.
Some persons who are not Christians, and some who are, now think that because Christ said, and the disciples proclaimed, the kingdom of heaven at hand, the disciples thought it was to be set up during their life-time. There might be such a seeming to one not familiar with the Scriptures bearing upon this point, but to the careful Bible student, who compares scripture with scripture, there would be no trouble, for Paul says: (2 Thes. 2:1,2) "Now we beseech you, brethren, touching the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him, to the end ye be not quickly shaken from your mind, nor yet be troubled, either by spirit or by word, or by epistle as from us, as that the day of the Lord is just at hand ("has set in"; Rotherham's trans.) Let no man beguile you in anywise, for it will not be, except the falling away come first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition." (R.V.)
Peter understood what our true guide about this was, when he said, "We would do well to take heed to the more sure word of prophecy, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn" (2 Peter 1:19). So we see the day had not dawned then, although it was at hand, but not "just at hand," that is, not as near as the dawning. The night is far spent when we have past midnight, but the dawning is the beginning of day.
We understand that we are in the last part of the period embraced in the word "now," in the text. The "more sure word of prophecy" assures us that this period is nearly filled up. We understand that the servants of God are being "sealed in their foreheads"; the last thing before the "four angels" "hurt the earth and the sea" (Rev. 7:2,3); that we are just about entering the time of trouble, of which the destruction of Jerusalem was but a type.
Many are being "purified and made white and tried." A judgment is in progress now, and there is still another to come, and the associate judges for that tribunal are being prepared (1 Cor. 6:2,3); and when the prince of this world is cast out, they will enter upon their further work of judging the world. One thought more. How much this class need to study and become familiar with "the books," according to which the judgment both now and then is to be given (Rev. 20:12). Yea, and how much we need to have the testimony of Jesus, for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."
"That one of the first countries which must be affected by an independent Egypt, is Palestine, which lies on its borders, is certain; that it must of necessity become the first upon which the destinies of the adjoining countries must turn is no less self-evident. As our (England's) policy in Egypt develops – as, under the pressure of circumstances it is inevitably bound to develop, the assurances of the government notwithstanding – with the virtual administration of the country by England, the national susceptibilities of France, Russia, and Italy, already strained almost beyond bearing, will find active expression. Compensations will be demanded, which must infallibly be the prelude to conferences, or wars, or both, when the Europeans will have to consider French claims in regard to Syria, Italian claims to Tripoli, Russian claims to Armenia, and the problem of Palestine and the holy places will present itself as the first for solution. We shall not, therefore, have long to wait before the fate of Palestine will become a burning question."
On October 24th, 1884, Sir Moses will, if he should live, have reached the hundredth year of his age. The comparatively near approach of an epoch so interesting to all friends and co-religionists of the still hale and hearty philanthropist has attracted attention abroad as well as at home. A movement is on foot among the Hebrews of New York to prepare a suitable testimonial to Sir Moses Montefiore on the expected centennial of his birthday. An ardent advocate of the old faith, he did not let the toils of money-getting blind him to the unjust political disabilities under which the British Jews labored in his early days nor to the benighted and unfortunate condition of his brethren abroad, particularly in Palestine. In 1827 he made the first of a series of trips to Palestine with a view to personally investigate the cause of the abject state of his brethren in that land. The result of the first visit was the founding of the Palestine fund, of which he has since constantly been the administrator. In 1862 his beloved wife and helpmeet died. Her death marked an epoch of princely charities and donations by Sir Moses. Though grief burdened his soul and physical debility bowed his whitened head, it did not prevent him from immediately proceeding to Morocco in the following year, 1863, to plead the cause of the prosecuted Jews of Port Saafi, who were being massacred and tortured by the Spanish on a trumped-up pretext that the Spanish council had been murdered by the really inoffensive and innocent Jews. The venerable man succeeded once more in throwing oil on the troubled waters and restoring peace and happiness to his persecuted brethren, and also securing valuable privileges for resident Christians there from the Grand Shereef of Morocco. In 1875 he made his seventh and last visit to the Holy Land, the land of his love. Upon his coat of arms is a flag staff, and therefrom flowing a banner, on which, inscribed in Hebrew characters of gold, is the word Jerusalem. To see Palestine the seat of a Jewish state, with Jerusalem as its capital, is and has been the fond ambition and dream of his life – never to be personally realized in his time, as he himself is fully aware. But to the consummation of this wished-for end he has bent the best efforts of a longer life than is usually allotted to man.– London Christian Herald.
"The latest proposition is to build a maritime canal through Palestine, and an English company, with the Duke of Marlborough at its head, has been formed for the purpose of making investigations and preliminary surveys.
So far as at present proposed, the work will include, in the first instance, a canal twenty-five miles in length, from Halifax, in the Bay of Acre, through the plain of Esdraelon to the valley of the river Jordan. The depth of the proposed canal is to be forty feet, and its width 200 feet. This work will bring the Mediterranean into the heart of Palestine, and go far toward making a seaport of Jerusalem. It is further proposed to construct a canal 100 miles in length from the head of the Gulf of Akaboan to the Dead Sea, and thus unite the waters of the latter with the Red Sea. If these things were successfully performed it is expected that an inland sea about 300 miles long, varying in width from three to ten miles, and deep enough to float vessels of the largest size, would extend from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. There are some matters besides engineering difficulties which may hinder the execution of this project. The consent of the porte is indispensable, and certain European Powers would undoubtedly oppose the granting of a firman conferring upon England the exclusive right of way by water through Palestine. The Holy Land also has sacred associations for Christians throughout the world, and a wide-spread sentiment among all churches and sects would doubtless be raised in opposition to the innovation."– London R.R. News.
Thinking men are coming to place a higher estimate upon the value of Scripture history than formerly. It was fashionable, a few years since, for the literati of Europe to talk of myths of the Bible, and to speculate largely as to their probable origin "on the hazy horizon of the morning of time." But these morning fog-banks of antiquity have been lifting, and to the astonishment of these philosophers, these fancied myths are fossil facts. The same research and marvelous developments in the East that have done so much for the credibility of Herodotus, have also riveted man's faith to the Bible.
The uncovering of Nineveh alone has wrought wonders. Nineveh, that great city. Nineveh, buried so long ago that Herodotus, the Father of History, knew nothing of it, not even its name; so long ago that Xenophon led his immortal ten thousand over its very site, utterly unconscious of the fact that a vast city was smouldering beneath their tread; so long ago that Volair dissolved the name into a mere film of mythology – Nineveh suddenly looms up into the gaze of the world with its vast palaces, its massive mausoleums, its gorgeous galleries of art, and libraries whose rock volumes and historic scrolls are but the faithful duplicates of many of the Scripture annals. The Nineveh of the Bible is there, and from her tomb of Jonah, from her place of Sennacherib, from her very stone archives, there comes a thousand voices attesting the authenticity of Bible history. In the library of the royal palace, besides the numerous treatises on ancient science, and grammars of Assyrian dialects, there are the annals of the empire, giving minute details of extended conquests, and siege and capture of walled cities, the fate of captives, the levying of tribute, and, in fact, all the concomitants of successful war.
Among other campaigns, those into Judea are given with a carefulness of detail that is surprising. The names of Jerusalem, Samaria, Libnah, Lachish, Gaza, Ascalon, and others – of Jehu, king of Israel, of Hazael, Menahem, Hezekiah, Rezin, Omri, Hiram, king of Tyre, Illulous of Sidon, were evidently as familiar to the students of Assyrian history as they have ever been to Jewish or Christian readers of any age. They are perpetually recurring in many of the inscriptions. In a lengthy document is given the Assyrian history of "The Battle of the Kings," recorded in Genesis 14. The names of most of the kings who took part in this first important raid are given, together with the names of many of the cities of the plain.
Corresponding to the Bible account (2 Kings 18), is the siege and capture of Lachish, which is amply illustrated on the walls of the palaces, and full particulars given. Over the head of the king, in one of the illustrations, is the following inscription in the cuniform or wedge shaped characters: "Sennacherib, the mighty king, king of the country of Assyria, sitting on the throne of judgment, before the city of Lachish. I give permission for its slaughter." In immediate connection with this inscribed on a massive cylinder of stone, is a confirmation remarkable indeed. The inspired record says: "Sennacherib came up against all the fenced cities of Judea and took them," (2 Kings 18:13), and that when Hezekiah desired to purchase a peace, the invader demanded of him thirty talents of gold and three hundred talents of silver. The Bible also informs us that Hezekiah gave all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord and of the royal treasury, and that he also cut off all the gold from the doors and pillars of the temple, and sent to the haughty monarch. But only emboldened by this submissive spirit of Hezekiah, the scripture says that after repeated insults, Sennacherib advanced for the destruction of Jerusalem, but was discomfitted by the angel of the Lord, who slew in one night 185,000 men, compelling the haughty Assyrian to return to Nineveh.
The two histories discovered are paralleled in a remarkable degree. The inscription on the monuments make Sennacherib to say: "Because Hezekiah, king of Judah, did not submit to my yoke, forty six of his strong fenced cities and innumerable smaller ones which depended upon them, I took and plundered, but I left to him Jerusalem his capital." The scripture account is a sufficient explanation for this fact. (2 Kings 19:32.) "And because Hezekiah still refused to do me homage I attacked and carried off the whole population, fixed and nomadic, which dwelt around Jerusalem with thirty talents of gold and eight hundred talents of silver – the accumulated wealth of Hezekiah's court, and of his daughters, with the officers of his palace. I returned to Nineveh and I accounted their spoil for the tribute which he refused to pay me."
The only apparent discrepancy (for it is apparent, not real,) in the whole of both accounts is in regard to the number of the talents in silver. The Bible states the amount demanded – the rock-records the amount carried off. The Bible gives the amount demanded of Jerusalem alone – the Assyrian the amount obtained from the whole of Judea.
A confirmation still more remarkable is given in reference to the humiliation of Nebuchadnezzar – his being driven forth to dwell with the beasts for a season – an event which least of all we should expect to find recorded in the annals of an Eastern satrap. On a tablet now in the East India House, in London, is an inscription which may be regarded as the official report of that amazing calamity. Breaking off abruptly in the midst of the narration of the king's achievements in the architectural decoration of Babylon and Borsipa, the historian suddenly denounces the Chaldeans and astrologers, and then goes on to say: "The king's heart was hardened against them. He would grant them no benefactions for religious purposes. He intermitted the worship of Merodach, and put an end to the [R520 : page 8] sacrifice of victims. He labored under the effects of enchantment." There is much more that is obscure in this episode, and yet at its close the architectural narration is as abruptly closed. What clearer account of that awful visitation could be expected from a nation pre-eminent for haughty pride and vain-glorious pomp.
So deeply was one of the infidel editors of the Boston Investigator impressed with the evidence of Layard, that he said in his columns in 1859: "Hereafter, whatever we freethinkers may have to say of the divinity of the old Book, not one of us shall ever question the genuineness of its history."– Extracts from Chautauqua Lectures.
Ques. If our debt is paid, Why is it said in Scripture that we are forgiven our trespasses? Ans. It would be useless for a sinner to approach God asking to be forgiven, because he also forgives trespassers against him. This would be no ground for forgiveness and is never held out thus in Scripture. The prayer referred to – "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us" – is not for sinners. Jesus said, "After this manner pray YE. Ye who recognize in Jesus, "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world" – ye who were once aliens, but are now made nigh by the blood of Christ – Ye may say to Jehovah, "Our Father who art in heaven." And having made a covenant of self-sacrifice, if ye, through temptation, sometimes fail of perfectly keeping it, ye may pray to your Father forgive; and "whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you (John 16:23). The world may not call God Father, but we "have received the spirit of adoption whereby we cry Abba, Father" (Rom. 8:15.) "He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ hath [R521 : page 8] the Father" (2 John 9).
Ans. We cannot speak from personal experience, never having been a member of any such society. But if we should even take for granted that they are in no way opposed to the doctrines of Christ, and that they cultivate morality (which is at least questionable), still we should feel that we were out of place in them. We believe that neither consecrated time, money, nor influence could be thus devoted without interference with the saints' consecration vow to use all their time, all their money, all their influence, not only not against the Lord but in his service. Since this Journal addresses specially the consecrated class, we feel it unnecessary to do more than point out this confliction with the consecration vow. The same argument holds true exactly against every sectarian society called churches. Consecrated time, money and influence, cannot be thus wasted without injury to the cause, and violence to the vow, in our opinion. The wide scope of our consecration should, to the thoughtful saint, settle all the minor details of its fulfilment.
Ans. It is certainly a teaching of Scripture that we should "do good unto all men," and that, if even an enemy hunger, we should feed him. Insurance of life or property, like poor-houses and hospitals, is merely the putting of the teachings of Christ into a business form. It is the creating of a general fund by a large number, for the assistance of any one of their company in an extremity.
We see nothing in this out of harmony with the Master's teachings. Life Insurance is equivalent to the laying aside in a savings bank of a small sum, regularly, for the benefit of some dependent ones. We believe that such a provision by a father for a dependent family is not contrary to the spirit of Jesus' words, when he said, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth." A treasure is that upon which the heart is set, and many people make treasures of things of less use and value than money quite frequently – reputation, dress, pleasure, relics, etc.
To the truly consecrated no earthly thing should be treasured, all must be counted as dross in comparison with the heavenly things promised. All must be lightly esteemed, so that, at a moment's notice, we shall be ready and willing to sacrifice them to the will of the Lord or, heavenly interests. Some statements by Paul should be understood to be in harmony with our Lord's words. He exhorts the Church to lay up money every week for the Lord's family – the Church (1 Cor. 16:2); and if right to lay up for this, would it be wrong to use reasonable precaution in laying aside whatever might be reasonably spared from the demands of the present for the future necessities or emergencies of an earthly family entrusted to your care by the same Lord?
But while remembering the words, that "He who provideth not for his own household, hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel" (1 Tim. 5:8), let us also beware of the much more common error, of grasping miserliness which hoards, denying the necessities of the present in their families, and robbing them of the privilege of sharing in the furtherance of the Lord's work – one of the greatest privileges we can deprive ourselves of.
Ans. The import of this text evidently is: Of such like is the kingdom. This will be better seen by reading the next verse (Mark 10:15): "Verily, I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God AS a little child, HE shall not enter therein." See also Matthew's account of this, ch. 18:1-6.
This shows that Jesus is representing the gentle, teachable, guileless, humble disciple by a little child. How beautiful the thought – "children of God!" "Howbeit, in malice be ye children, (having none) but in understanding be men." (1 Cor. 14:20).
Ques. Please explain Heb. 12:8?
Ans. The Diaglott renders this passage thus: "But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then truly you are spurious and not sons." The apostle shows that during the present time those who are called of God to the new nature, must anticipate trials and temptations and oppositions, such things being necessary to their preparation for the grand and glorious future work for which God designs them; the overcoming of evil being a proper test of all who are designed to be sharers of God's kingdom power.
Paul in the context shows, that to be a follower of Jesus, is not to be carried to glory on flowery beds of ease; not to reign, but to seek to win a right to the kingdom; not to put on the dress of a racer merely, but to so run as to obtain the prize, which implies weariness, difficulties and obstacles to be encountered. He points out that thus it was with the first runner of this course – Jesus, our leader, captain and forerunner – who opened up this "narrow way" to us by giving himself a ransom for us. Paul argues that we should look to Jesus as a pattern: if his was a race of trial, discouragement and conflicts with evil, we should expect the same, and not be surprised at fiery trials. Was his name cast out as evil – was he hated without cause – did his brethren disown him – was he cast out of the synagogue because he told the truth – and were all these things grievous rather than joyous – discipline rather than pleasure? If so it was with the example and pattern, so it will be with every true follower. Instead, then, of regarding such sufferings of the present time as evidences of disownment by the Lord, we should look for and receive them as evidences that we are accepted as sons, and in training for the promised royal honors. To be without such evidences would indicate that we had never been "begotten by the word of truth." (James 1:18.)
Ans. We would say first, that many are supposed to hear the Gospel who really never do hear it. Jesus said, "Him that hath an ear let him hear." But the God of this world (Satan) has stopped many ears and blinded many eyes, so that they cannot recognize the joyful message we bear. We have the promise, however, that in due time all these deaf ears shall be unstopped, and the blind eyes shall be opened, and then this Gospel in its fulness shall be "testified to all."
If you do not refer to this class (which includes the great mass of the world), but to a class who have actually heard and received the fundamental truth of the Gospel, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and who were actually justified by faith, but who never consecrated themselves as living sacrifices to God, and thus rejected the good news of high calling, we would say of these that they lose their privilege of joint-heirship and reign with Christ.
But if you refer to still another class, viz., those who having heard the Gospel, and having been justified by faith in it, have also covenanted to become living sacrifices, and who afterwards reject the Gospel and become the enemies of the cross of Christ, counting the blood of the covenant wherewith they were sanctified a common thing; for such the Scripture says there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sin. Such are, indeed, in a sad condition. In their justification, such had received by faith the benefits from Jesus' death which the world in general will actually receive soon; then they gave up that justified human hope for a hope of sharing the divine nature. Now if they cast aside the only anchor, and "count the blood of the covenant wherewith they were sanctified, an unholy [common, ordinary] thing;" such having had the full benefits of the ransom, and having then cast it aside, for such there remaineth no more an interest in that sacrifice, and, since Christ dieth no more, they are without hope. For such, death will be the second death, i.e., not the one on account of Adam's sin, but for their own.
Q. Please explain Matt. 23:33.
A. This expression was addressed to the Pharisees as a class, and to the scribes or theologians among them, who zealously promulgated the traditions of the elders. They were looking for a future life as a reward for keeping the Law – or rather the traditions of the elders. Jesus, denouncing their hypocrisy, points out their real character, and, expressing his just indignation, exclaims: "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation (judgment) of hell (Gehenna). That is, how can ye escape the judgment to destruction. Gehenna was a place, outside the city of Jerusalem, for the burning or destruction of offal and the bodies of criminals. Jesus here uses it as a symbol of destruction, to which they were justly condemned.
Think not, however, that they were the poor degraded outcasts of society. I tell you, nay. They were the most strict religionists and the most popular and refined theologians of their day – having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. But, though they shall not have a resurrection to life as a reward, as they expected it, and though they were justly condemned to destruction, with all the rest of mankind, they shall have a resurrection, because he whom they rejected and slew bought them with his own precious blood.
A brother who was at one time pastor of the "Christian Church" in Boston, and whose attention had been directed to the doctrine of eternal torment, thus writes of the sympathetic view of that doctrine. We give you extracts:
"In pursuing the subject [eternal torment] I found no relief from the arguments or considerations advanced by the advocates of eternal woe respecting the sympathies of the righteous. Take for example the sentiments uttered by Jonathan Edwards:
"The woes of sinners in hell will not be a cause of grief to the saints in heaven – but of rejoicing. This rejoicing will be the fruit of an amiable disposition, and a perfect holiness, and a conformity to Christ. At the judgment you may be ready to fly to some godly friend, but you will see them unconcerned for you, with joy ascending to meet the Lord, and not less joyful for the horror in which they see you. When THEY HEAR YOU GROAN and SIGH and GNASH YOUR TEETH, these things will not MOVE them to pity you. After your godly parents shall have seen you lie in hell millions of years, or ages, in torment day and night, they will not begin to pity you then. They will praise God that his justice appears in the eternity of your misery. The torments in hell will be immeasurably greater than being in a GLOWING OVEN, A BRICK KILN, OR FIERY FURNACE.'"
"My soul sickened at such sentiments. It seemed to me that none but a monomaniac upon the subject could so write or believe. Scholastic theology may calmly reason of eternal woe; but when we examine the subject in the light of the fact that we, our families, friends, and fellow-men, as beings of sensitive natures, keenly alive to mental and physical suffering, are exposed to such a peril as the dogma of eternal misery asserts, one may indeed attempt to receive, or imagine it as true; but as Bp. Newton has well said, "Seriously believe it you cannot!" It would be a perversion of human nature to do so, to say nothing of the spirit of Christianity.
"Our Heavenly Father has taught us by both precept and example to be "kind to the unthankful and unholy" in this life, and our hearts are easily roused by the sufferings of our common humanity. But we are told, in the world to come we shall behold countless myriads of the lost in the torments of hell, as 'in an unfathomable sea of liquid fire, where the wicked must drink in everlasting torture,' and not feel one sympathetic emotion, or our happiness be for a moment marred by the terrible scene!"