The Editor recognizes a responsibility to the Master, relative to what shall appear in these columns, which he cannot and does not cast aside; yet he should not be understood as endorsing every expression of correspondents, or of articles selected from other periodicals.
TERMS: – Fifty cents a year, postage prepaid. You may send paper money to the amount of two dollars, by mail, at our risk. Larger amounts may be sent by Drafts, P.O. Money Order, or Registered Letter, payable to C. T. RUSSELL.
Foreign Postage being higher, our terms to foreign subscribers will be 65 cents a year. Please send us no foreign money or postage stamps, as we can make no use of them. Remittances may be made by Foreign Postal Money Orders.
This paper will be sent free to any of the Lord's poor who will send a card yearly requesting it. Freely we have received and freely we would give the truth. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat – yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." And you that have it – "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently – and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness." – ISAIAH 55:1,2.
GREAT care should be exercised in writing addresses plainly. Many neglect to sign their letters. Many more neglect to mention name of town or state. Sometimes we can guess by the aid of the postmark, but even then much valuable time is wasted. Please be very particular.
WE offered the TOWER three months on trial, free. Many availed themselves of the offer and others sent us lists of names of friends they thought would be interested by the papers. With this number we complete the three numbers to about ten thousand such trial readers. [Oct., Dec. and January.] All of these who are interested, we hope to hear from at once. The Lord's poor who are interested, but unable to pay, should remember that they are welcome to the TOWER free, but must ask for it. We have extra copies of these three issues.
We take this opportunity of expressing publicly our thanks to our Heavenly Father for the blessings enjoyed during the year just ended. To us it has been a year of growth in grace, knowledge and love toward God. The path – the same path – shines more and more. It is the old path which our Father in love marked out before the world began. And the light is the same, but it, according to His promise, continues to shine "more and more unto the perfect day." We hope that the experience of our readers has been similarly blessed. As under-shepherds, we feel a deep interest in the welfare of every member of the flock of Christ – over whom, circumstances under divine supervision hath made us overseers – to feed the Church of God, which he hath purchased with His own blood. (Acts 20:28.)
The New Year suggests new resolutions. We trust that you have each resolved to do your share toward having the year 1883 bring an increase of spiritual strength and development, by a yet closer study to show yourselves approved unto God. Laying off yet more fully the things of the old nature – self-love, self-esteem, self-gratification, self-exaltation, and the fear of man which bringeth a snare, and putting on the elements of the Spirit of Christ – self-denial, humility, brotherly kindness, charity and boldness for the truth. While we seek God's blessing upon the year commenced, let us remember that "The Lord resisteth the proud, and giveth grace (favors) to the humble." (1 Pet. 5:5.) Let us thus resolve, and thus perform, and we will surely have, our wish both for you and ourselves – a joyous and blessed New Year.
The TOWER appears this month in a new dress – larger size, wider and longer columns, and new type, giving you over a page more matter. We hope it will give general satisfaction. Our printers urge that you will blame them lightly for the delay which these changes have necessitated.
There are two sides to every question, so also there are two views from the TOWER. The one is glorious, bright and encouraging, the other dark, and would be discouraging were it not that "the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are His." (2 Tim. 2:19.)
The dark outlook is that we see from the TOWER that another testing is in progress, and the adversary – Satan – presents errors under the guise of "light," and as his custom (Matt. 4:6) uses Scripture to accomplish his object – wresting it from its proper meaning. We are not surprised at this in one sense, because we have long seen that we are living in the "Evil Day" of which Jesus and apostles and prophets forewarn us, saying "that it will be difficult to stand – and not fall before the attacks of the enemy. (Luke 21:36; Mal. 3:2; Eph. 6:11,14,13.) Paul is very specific, and warns us that we will need the whole armor of God, because the conflict will not be with men (flesh and blood), but with the prince of darkness himself, whose "wiles" or deceptions he carefully mentions. (Eph. 6:11,12.) Thus divinely forewarned of what we might expect in this day, we have been calling attention to the coming storm and dangers for some time, and endeavoring to have all the saints armed with the panoply of God, in order that whatever the test might be, ye might be able to withstand all the wiles and fiery darts of the enemy, and having done all, to stand.
We have not the gift of prophecy, and could not tell you in what form, nor from what quarter the testing would come, for our adversary, the devil, is sure to bring the test from an unexpected quarter. This has ever been his policy.
Our surprise is that some whom we had supposed to be well grounded upon the Rock foundation – our ransom – should be at all assailable from the standpoint of our redemption, and the nature of our Redeemer. Paul expresses the same surprise concerning some in his day, saying: "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel: which is not another, but there be some that trouble you and would pervert the Gospel of Christ." (Gal. 1:6-8; notice also vs. 11,12.)
As we had anticipated, our article, "An Unpleasant Duty," in last issue, was misjudged by some, as three letters received indicate. They hinted that our "DUTY" was too pointedly expressed, and that if we had said that we took a "different view" of matters, in a mild and very gentle way, it would have been more in the spirit of Christ. Our reply is, that our usual method is mild, especially when discussing differences of opinion relative to Christian faith, but when the foundations of all our faith are assailed by some among us attempting to teach, it is, in our judgment, the spirit of Christ to lay aside mildness and cry aloud so as at once to arouse all Israel to the danger of the hour. (Ezek. 33:6.)
Jesus did not hesitate to call doctrines and people by their true names. Please recollect that many of his utterances were far from "mild and gentle." While his utterances are devoid of all malice and hatred, they were often full of force and keenly to the point. Fear to speak the truth finds no place in the spirit of Christ. We feel sure that no candid reader can trace malice or hatred in our article referred to, and subsequent developments prove that we stated the matter none too strongly.
"Best thanks for the WATCH TOWER for December, in which you have performed 'An Unpleasant Duty,' as agreeably as possible, and respecting which it would have involved a serious sin not to have called attention to the present teaching of the 'Day Star' after having recommended it."
"How firm a foundation, ye saint of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word;
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You who unto Jesus for refuge have fled."
It may be that the subjects treated will be very valuable to new readers and help to establish them firmly on the Rock. A testing on first principles seems peculiar at this late hour, yet, from present appearance, it seems to us that this will be the general line of attack in which the entire nominal Church is to be overwhelmed – in which "a thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh thee, because thou has made the Most High thy habitation." We hope that all will take their Bibles and refer to every text quoted in this issue and note the contexts.
But we have very much to encourage and refresh us. Thousands of hungry hearts are upturned to God in thanksgiving for the blessed light now shining on and revealing the precious plan and promises of God. Thousands of letters tell of renewed faith in God and quickened lives resulting from even a first glimpse of "the riches of His grace," and the grandeur of the great plan of God for the salvation of all who die in Adam, based on the grand old rock of truth that we were "redeemed" – that "Christ died for our sins." Yes, praise the Lord, the general prospect was never so encouraging as now. But these new readers will find their love of truth and their reliance on and consecration to the Lord tested also. All must be tested; we are in the testing time; you should know to expect, that though these truths be in your mouths sweet as honey, yet after partaking of them you must expect to encounter bitter opposition from your old nature and your former friends. (Rev. 10:10.) Though you rejoice greatly in the strong meat of God's Word, yet you will find your after experiences with it to be bitter – friends and dear ones will oppose, and "ye shall be hated of all men for my sake and the Gospel's," yet rejoice and be exceeding glad, and
"Bear the cross, endure the shame,page 1
Supported by God's Word."
"Let us, then, stand the storms,
It will not be very long,
We will anchor by and by."
DEAR BRO.: – I have now mastered the "Food" after seven months' hard study, and believe it to be no more nor less than a revelation from our Heavenly Father. Next Sabbath I shall begin to preach for the first, on these blessed truths, regardless of friends or enemies.
Send me 400 TOWERS (Oct. No.) and as many "Food" as you can spare, and I assure you that they will do as much good as any you ever had distributed heretofore. I am satisfied that I can get 500 subscribers in Orange and 500 in Rockland Counties. You shall hear soon.
I shall use six months of my time now, just to distribute tracts and get subscribers for the TOWER. Help me by prayers and prompt returns. The "Food" and TOWER I distribute only to those whom I believe to be zealous Christians.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – The books ("Young's Concordance" and "Diaglott") came duly, and have proved a valuable help to me in studying the Bible. Heretofore I have been without a concordance, and have depended too much on the writings of others as a guide. Now I can judge for myself. I enjoy the study of the Bible more and more as the opportunities are increased for studying, and my love for my Saviour is increased by the knowledge that I may be permitted to prove my following and "help fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ."
DEAR BRO.: – I write this to thank you on behalf of both my wife and myself for the papers sent her, and also for the copies of "Why Evil was Permitted." That little book has done more than anything I ever read to resolve and remove my doubts about page 2 the Old Testament Scriptures, and by its help and the help of the Holy Spirit I am indulging a hope that I may yet come into the kingdom. For thirty years I have been one of those who could see nothing in Christianity but a bone of contention between differing professors and churches, but now, thank God, I am able to look beyond professors and churches, and to believe that "Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost." Thank God for me and pray for us both.
At the commencement of another year it is proper that you should have a report from this fund. It will be found below. We regret that it shows us to be so much in debt. An error in our bank account misled us, else we should not have published the last 100,000 edition of the Oct. Z.W.T. However, they are printed and most of them in the hands of new readers and we have reason to believe, from the letters constantly coming to hand, that they are seeking out and nourishing truth-hungry saints. So what is the fund's loss is their gain. Then, too, perhaps our Father designed testing our faith. In everything let us give thanks.
As will be seen below, the Fund is in debt over $2,500, and of course no further work can be undertaken by the Fund until this debt is paid. We regret this exceedingly, and partly because in our last issue we held out a hope to some, who have long desired it, that we would soon issue the October TOWER in German and in Swedish.
A plan suggested to us is the only way out of the difficulty which we can see. It is this: We can start two sub-funds, one for the German and the other for the Swedish papers, and those desirous of contributing specially to these can thus do so. A Swedish brother has already sent $8.50 for the latter, and a German sister $3 for the former fund. When either of these funds shall amount to $200, we will commence to print and go as far as we can. Meantime we will, by the assistance of brethren, have translations prepared.
Total am't expended up to Jan. 1, 1882..$35,336.18 Am't expended during 1882....$5,945.20 Receipts during 1882......... 3,373.86 --------- Deficiency or am't owing....$2,571.34 Amount expended for year 1882........... 5,945.20 Total amount expended up to Jan. -------- – 1, 1883................................$41,281.38 As the result of this year's expenditure we have to report the publication of "The Tabernacle" pamphlet........... 15,000 copies Extra issues of Z.W.T. for use as tracts............................ 347,000 " Leaflets, "The Minister's Daughter" 100,000 " ------- Total (nearly half a million)..... 462,000 "
When it is remembered that the very large majority of our readers are of the "poor of this world," it will be seen that their interest in spreading the truth extends to their pockets, and of some at least it is true, "She hath done what she could." We hope as you view the above statement you will be able, notwithstanding the fact of our large debt, to thank God and take courage. If you could be in this office but one hour, and read some of the letters received, it would cause a renewal of your zeal and a redoubling of your efforts to spread the glad tidings, and thus preach the Gospel.
[N.B. – In this connection we would remark that the supply of "Food for Thinking Christians" and "The Tabernacle" pamphlet is nearly exhausted. We urge, therefore, that you use the October TOWER when giving reading matter to truth seekers, and if after reading it, they are anxious for more, loan them "Food," and afterward, "Tabernacle." Beware of choking "babes in Christ," therefore give only one tract or paper at a time. Remember Jesus' example in this respect – "I have many things to tell you, but you cannot bear them now."]
"A writer in an eastern publication, who is not supposed to aim at a support of heterodoxy, in his work, attempts, in an elaborate manner, to show that of all religions, Christianity to-day is most assailed, and most in danger of overthrow, though it be not subject to the religious wars which afflict some nations professing other religions.
The writer points to the fact that while Buddhism, Mohammedanism, and Judaism hold a firm grasp upon the nations which profess them, Christianity is assailed by the ablest minds of the world in its very midst, and atheism, or rather agnosticism, is rapidly increasing in every so-called Christian country. He points to heterodox rule in France, atheism in Italy, the almost general unbelief among the educated classes of Russia, the skepticism of Germany, increasing liberality of England and Scotland, and the remarkable latitude allowed to infidels in America, where the laws make no distinction on account of religious belief. And he concludes from this that Christianity is likely to fail and die sooner than the older faiths whose devotees hold to them blindly and unquestioningly."
We clip the above from a recent issue of the Pittsburgh Dispatch, as showing that thinking Christians, though unacquainted with the fact that the nominal Gospel church is rejected of the Lord, and therefore failing to discern the cause, are nevertheless noting its rapid decline. The world sees it; thinking Christians see it; and only the blind worshipers of these gigantic and corrupt systems fail to see it.
The Editor, commenting on the above, remarks that, "The very fact that infidelity has so rapid a growth among Christians, where it could so easily be crushed out by law or force, is evidence that the devotees of Christianity are conscious of the strength of their belief, and that its ultimate destiny is to conquer the world – not by arms, but by gentle means. A religion which cannot tolerate opposition that pretends to be founded on reason, is a miserable faith, and can only be maintained by the grossest illiberality and persecution. Buddhism and Mohammedanism are like the old Inquisition. The infidel is hunted out of society or murdered outright. Christianity invites all fair and sensible opposition and reasoning. That Christian theologian who does his whole duty will never flinch from intelligent disputation; and if there is one fault to be still found with Christianity in its most liberal form, it is that it is yet too liable to apply opprobrious epithets to antagonists, instead of inviting them into the pulpit, there to give them an equal hearing. Too many Christian ministers act as though they fear the infidel speaker – fear that he can offer a more [R427 : page 2] specious argument than they, and fear that he will commend himself to a Christian audience more strongly than they. This is a deplorable weakness." He then adds, "Nothing is plainer than that liberal Christianity has itself brought forth infidelity, and that Christians will yet be compelled to abandon portions of their creed. Sectarianism will have to melt away. And when that point of development is reached where the simplest reason cannot see anything left that does the plainest violence to reason, the goal of Christianity will be reached. Then atheists and infidels in all guises will have to give up their extreme position and the factions can clasp hands in the common cause of advocating precisely those things that were taught by CHRIST, and not the forms and follies that are attributed to him by so-called Christians, who have no comprehension whatever of the real character of Jesus."
We agree with this Editor that the clergymen who try to defend their creeds fear and tremble before the infidel, whose reason leads to conclusions so opposite to their time-honored traditions, for which no basis can be found, either in reason or in the word of God. An infidel is an unbeliever. It is one thing to be an infidel to the nominal Church, and quite another to be an infidel to Christianity. Many so-called infidels are much nearer to both the truth of Christianity and the practice of its principles than so-called Christians.
All are really infidels who attempt to set up their own theories, and to twist some portions of the word of God to support them while they bury its plain statements to the contrary. The effort to do this has given rise to the Babylonish confusion in the Churches, all of which, though most opposite in doctrine, claim the Bible as their support. And finding that in order to gain a position of influence and respectability before the world, it is necessary to present an imposing appearance, they unitedly agree to term themselves the exponents of Christianity, and as far as possible to ignore doctrine.
It is, indeed, no wonder that this so-called Christianity, with its mass of contradictions, and its hideous misrepresentations of the glorious character of the blessed God, has made so many thinking people infidels. Neither is it surprising that this house, divided against itself, is about to fall.
Infidels conclude that as these are the exponents of Bible Christianity they want nothing to do either with Christianity or the Bible; and that any book which will support such gross contradictions, and whose teachings produce characters little or no better, and often worse than the world, must be a worthless, if not a positively harmful book, unworthily carrying an influence with it, because of its claim to be a revelation from God. And so, many conclude to discard the Bible entirely, and, as Mr. Ingersoll expresses it, to make the best of this world, and if they light on another, to likewise make the best of it, and to be happy and enjoy themselves as best they can, and let others do the same.
The whole nominal system claiming the name of Christianity is out of harmony with Scripture teaching, and her creed-worshipers are all infidels to the Bible. They dare not open the book before a candid searcher after truth, to whom God says – "Come, let us reason together" – lest it reveal truth which will overturn their cherished creed. Shame and confusion of face is coming upon, and will cover, such God-dishonoring hypocrisy. No wonder that those "who teach for doctrines the commandments of men" tremble and cower before the reasoning infidel, as well as before the earnest truth-seeker, who persistently demands a "Thus saith the Lord" for his faith. Opprobrious epithets and denunciations become their only stronghold, while they warn others of the danger of using their reason and diligently searching the Scriptures lest they become infidels. Infidels to the Bible? No – infidels to church creeds.
We praise God that by his grace we have been able to shake off the shackles that bind so many. Yes, we dare stand erect "in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free," and, defying the anathemas of a lifeless Church, we declare to the world that the Bible is indeed the revelation of a glorious plan, well worthy of an infinite God, that the nominal Christianity of to-day is a gross misrepresentation of its teachings, and that the ideal character of the Bible is never even approximately illustrated by any, except those who are truly students of its sacred pages, and imitators of its grand example. Let all true children of God search the Scriptures, and be able to give a reason for their hope. Then the goal of true Christianity will be reached.
To the Bible student, we can scarcely speak too highly of this work. It certainly ranks next to the Diaglott as a help to Bible study. In fact the help which these two works afford to persons possessing an ordinary knowledge of the English language is more valuable than two years spent in the study of Greek and Hebrew.
This Concordance gives every English word in our Bible under its proper Greek or Hebrew heading, together with its literal meaning. Mr. Young, the author, is acknowledged to be one of the ripest Greek and Hebrew scholars living.
We wish that all Bible students who read the TOWER might have this work, and thus be able to convince themselves of the significance of Bible terms in the original. To this end we have for some time been endeavoring to procure for you this work at a low price. Within the past week we have succeeded far beyond our expectation, and are glad to state that we can now furnish you "The Students' Edition" – the latest revised and most complete edition of this work published – (white paper, cloth bound, regular price $3.50) at half price, viz., $1.75, by express. If sent by mail, 51 cents extra, for postage. Those living at greater distance than 800 miles from Pittsburgh, or in places not very accessible for express, would probably find the mail the cheapest method.
In due time. After that ye have suffered awhile. In due season the Lord trieth the righteous. Hereby qualities are produced and brought out that otherwise were hidden and non-existent. The process is severe, afflictive, terrible sometimes, but the fruits, if we endure faithfully, are precious, grand, glorious – worth all they may cost, and how much more only eternity will reveal. We should not know all the pity and tenderness of the Saviour, did we not suffer in the furnace. Are not our most exquisite religious enjoyments born of, or at least administered during severe trial? It was during Jacob's flight from his murderous brother – and himself was by no means blameless – that he had the vision of the ladder and angels. It was when Elijah was so distressed and disheartened that he wished to die, that the angels repeatedly awakened and fed him, and then the wonderful vision at the cave was added. It was right in the hottest possible furnace that the Hebrew children found the form of the fourth beside them. And Daniel, did it not pay for him to pass a night with the lions to find them turned into lambs by the power of a heavenly keeper? I judge Paul and Silas never regretted the inner prison and stocks after their miraculous deliverance.
But have we not an experience of our own to tell us that it is in time of greatest extremity that heaven's richest grace is vouchsafed? We may have waited for the due time and become somewhat exhausted and disheartened, but the time of the singing of birds did come, and they sang never so sweetly!
Fighting, waiting, struggling, trusting,
Is He sure to bless?
Prophets, fathers, martyrs, Christians,
Fearest sometimes that thy Father
Though the clouds around thee gather,
Doubt him not!
Always hath the daylight broken,
Always hath He spoken!
Better hath He been for years,
Than thy fears.
On learning of the benefit derived from its use by Bro. S., we at once sought reduced prices with a view to introducing it to your attention cheaper than the regular rate. The above firm would make no concession (their price being $15), while with Messrs. Feltwell & Co. we were able to make arrangements so as to offer it to you at one-half the above price ($7.50).
"THY KINGDOM COME."[R428 : page 3]
There's a work to be accomplished,
Such as earth has never known;
There are mighty forces gathering,
And their power will soon be shown.
They are choosing such material,
As will serve their purpose true;
And when this shall be perfected,
Glorious work on earth they'll do.
They'll beat back the powers of darkness,
They will overturn false creeds;
They will work for truth and justice,
Human rights and human needs.
Tyrant rule they will abolish,
And oppression's galling chain
Will be broken once forever;
For the Christ on earth will reign.
His an everlasting kingdom
Which shall never pass away;
And its principles eternal
Must o'er all the earth bear sway.
Mighty minds, through all the ages,
Have been working for the plan
Surely to be consummated;
"Peace on earth, good will to man."
Yes, there dawns a brighter era;
We can see the rising day,
When man, freed from error's teachings,
Soon will learn the better way.
Superstition's darkening forces,
Which so long have forged their chains,
Every day are losing power;
Only seeming strength remains.
Not the work of worldly wisdom,
Not the selfish schemes of man,
E'er will execute this purpose;
'Tis a higher, nobler plan;
Supervised by the immortals,
Who can clearly see the true,
And who know the wiser methods,
And the time, their work to do.
You who see the day-star rising
And can read the passing signs,
Watch, and ready stand for action;
Follow wisdom's high designs.
Trust no selfish, vain pretension,
For the work is all divine;
And the kingdom, power and glory,
Are, O Lord, forever Thine.
"Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid which is Jesus Christ." "But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon." "Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest, for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." (1 Cor. 3:9,11,10-15.)
The individual Christian faith is a building, and as such must have both foundation and superstructure. Every principle of truth or error adopted becomes a part of our faith-building. A building made of wood, and thatched with straw, may look well and for a time protect, but it will not endure like a better and more costly structure. So a faith building, constructed of men's traditions, may for a time look passably well, be less costly and more quickly finished than one built of the precious truths patiently quarried from God's Word. The former is easily swept away with the storm of infidelity which does not even shake the latter. The one will stand the test of fire and protect its owner, the other will but feed the flame and endanger the owner.
The building of our faith God leaves largely with us. He furnishes a mine of truth, places the tools within our reach, and urges us to build well of enduring materials, adding faith to faith, virtue to virtue, knowledge to knowledge. Thus he would have us grow in grace and knowledge and love, following examples of building which he has furnished.
"Other foundation can no man lay than that (which) is laid – JESUS CHRIST." This statement of the importance of Jesus as the foundation of all faith toward God, is in full accord with the statement that "There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." No other basis of faith will do – "Other foundation can no man lay."
Those who are building on this foundation rock are Christians no matter how poor a faith they build thereupon. Even though they build entirely with the wood, hay, and stubble of men's traditions, yet as builders upon the Rock they are Christians. Though in this DAY OF THE LORD into which we have now entered their works shall suffer loss, yet such themselves shall be saved so as by fire. That is, though God has arranged that a fierce trial of faith is coming upon all who profess to be on the Rock, Christ Jesus, which will burn up, eradicate, destroy every vestige of error, every thing which is of man and not from God's Word, yet all who truly recognize the Rock and are built on it shall be saved.
Those who build on the rock with the gold, silver, and precious stones of God's revelation by reason of this good and proper faith-building, are enabled to overcome the world and carry out their consecration acceptably to God through Jesus Christ. "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith." These overcomers who now "follow the Lamb" shall in due time be everlastingly united to Him whom "God hath appointed heir of all things." As such they are sometimes called Jesus' brethren, and sometimes by that close and endearing name – "The Bride, the Lamb's Wife," and as such we are to be heirs of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord.
Those who build with poor stuff, the wood, hay, and stubble of human traditions, we understand to be those who do not overcome the world, but who are ensnared and bound by the spirit of the world and hindered from carrying out their consecration. Having only the traditions of men, they lack protection against error, and the strength necessary to overcome the world which is obtainable only from the truth. All, then, should recognize the value of truth in enabling us to carry out our consecration vows of death to the world and its ambitions.
The class who, though consecrated, are building a flimsy faith of man's wisdom, we understand to be the "great company" (Rev. 19:6; 7:9-17) who will come to spiritual conditions, but through great tribulation brought on them by their erroneous faith, all of which dross of error must be consumed. Thus they will be saved by that fire or purification. This is the class which follows the Bride company (Psa. 45:14,15) as Rebecca's maids followed her (Gen. 24:61). This is called the servant class in distinction from the royal class which reigns. These shall "serve God in His temple" and be "before the throne." Thus in symbol we see a distinction represented between this class and the overcomers, the royal bride who shall reign with Jesus in the throne. Notice that the different rewards of these two classes (both spiritual) are shown by many scriptures (see Rev. 7:9,10,13-17; 19:6,7; Psa. 45:10-15). Therefore let all who seek the prize of our high calling take heed how (with what material) they build their faith even though on the sure foundation.
What we have just seen regarding faith structures is important, but our present question is yet more so, because if not on the rock foundation, Jesus Christ, all our faith is vain and all our hope delusive.
To believe that Mohammed once lived and died on earth does not constitute us Mohammedans, nor give a basis for faith and hope of a future life; neither does the simple belief that Jesus once lived and died on earth constitute us Christians, nor give a basis of faith or hope of a future life. But the belief that Jesus died as our Redeemer – "died for our sins according to the Scriptures," "gave himself a ransom for all;" that "the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all, and that by his stripes we are healed," does constitute us Christians and give a firm foundation for faith that our sins are cancelled, and that in his due time all may be released from sin's penalty – death.
Some build on right doing as a basis of hope that God will grant them eternal life. These build not on the Rock, Christ Jesus, but upon their own works. Of this class were the Jews, who sought to justify themselves. But Paul assures us that they had not a good foundation; for "By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified. (Rom. 3:20.)
Others build their hope of salvation on the love of God. They feel sure that because God is very pitiful and of tender mercy, therefore he will ultimately, eternally save every one from death. Such seem to forget that God had the same love for mankind for the past six thousand years, yet he has permitted mankind to go down lower and lower into misery and death. We suggest to these that if God has so long kept love subservient to justice, and never overruled his original sentence of death, their hope rests on a sandy foundation; for his word declares "With him is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" and "He will by no means clear the guilty." (James 1:17; Exod. 34:7.) Such are not Christians because they build hope and faith on the love of God and not on the only foundation, CHRIST JESUS. The LOVE of God provided the foundation, but the love of God is not the foundation of Christian faith.
Others build on the justice of God and boldly declare that God is bound by principles of justice, to save all men out of Adamic death. Their argument is that God placed man in his present condition of sin and misery and death, and that in justice to his creatures he must restore them. To those who thus reason and build their hopes of future life on God's JUSTICE, we would suggest that if this reasoning is correct, the many Scriptures which tell us that by grace (God's favor) we are saved, are all untrue, because if He is compelled to save men on principles of justice, then salvation is not of grace, but of justice. We suggest further, that if God is bound in justice to save all men out of death, it is proper to infer that God has [R429 : page 3] been unjust toward man for six thousand years. The inference, then, would be that God will sooner or later be compelled in justice to change his methods and do right – do justly by his creatures.
You never said it thus? We presume not. Perhaps you never thought of the God-dishonoring conclusions to which your false, though seemingly plausible, premise would lead. If you had, doubtless you would not be building your hopes on God's justice – outside of his plan to redeem through Christ Jesus – for if he has been unjust for six thousand years, he might continue to be unjust indefinitely.
None of these theories are scriptural, hence none of them are proper foundations for faith, and any building reared thereon is doomed to destruction. We ask the question, Can those who build on these sandy foundations be properly termed Christians? Is not a Christian one whose hopes of future life are built solely and only, on the rock foundation which God has laid – Jesus Christ? "Thus saith Jehovah, Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation." (Isa. 28:16.)
Paul also declares the foundation of all Christian faith, saying, "I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received (first of all), how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures." (1 Cor. 15:3.) In the two preceding verses Paul tells us that this was the Gospel which he preached, which they had received, and by which they might reckon themselves saved. This is not all of the Gospel – good tidings – no, there is much more, but it all comes as a consequence of this fundamental or foundation truth; and without this faith in Jesus as our Redeemer, who died and gave his life a ransom for our lives, which were forfeited through Adam's sin, we must see that we are still guilty and condemned before God's law and could have no scriptural grounds for expecting future life.
It is in vain that any tell us that they are building on Christ because they acknowledge Him as a leader and noble pattern. All men – yes, and devils too must acknowledge the grandeur and perfectness of Jesus' life; all must admit that he is a noble example, but to acknowledge Jesus as the foundation of faith in a future life, is to recognize the fact that all men are sinners, and as such JUSTLY condemned to death, and that Jesus is "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world;" and that thus, by paying the penalty of man's sins – death – he procured for all a release from death, a right to life. He justifies them, or makes them worthy of life, which in His due time he will give them.
The plan of God, looked at from the standpoint of the inspired Word of God, recognizes the impartially just trial of Adam, his deliberate violation of God's just and easy requirement, and the justice of enforcing the penalty which God had threatened, viz., DEATH (not life in torment, but a loss of life totally). "In the day that thou eatest thereof – dying thou shalt die" (Gen. 2:17, Margin). God's foreknowledge of the consequence of Adam's sin cannot be urged against the justice of his trial, as the trial was the same and had the same results, as though God had not foreknown its result.
God is not responsible for all the mental and physical imperfections of our race. These are traceable as results of sin to Adam their progenitor. Here is a thought not generally recognized, that God creates only perfect beings such as Adam was before sin; and all fallen, mentally and physically imperfect men and women, are not God's creation, but the offspring of the fallen Adam. These imperfections, therefore, are not chargeable to God, but to Adam's sin. All die, therefore, as a result of Adam's unrighteousness and not of God's injustice. If, then, God was just in condemning Adam, and in no way responsible to Adam's offspring, it must have been as Scripture states, "By God's grace (unmerited favor) we are saved." Yes, while we were in just condemnation as enemies and sinners, God so loved and pitied us that he gave his Son, that he "by the grace of God should taste death for every man." To this agree the words of Scripture – 1 Cor. 15:22; Rom. 5:12,17,19, and 11:32,33. If, then, the Scriptures are true, the theory that Jehovah has dealt unjustly by the race in condemning all to death, and the argument that he is bound in justice to restore them to life, falls.
Looking from the standpoint of divine revelation, instead of purely human reasoning, we see that while love is a prominent factor in all God's plans and an element of the divine nature, yet his foreknowledge and omnipotence make it unnecessary for his love to come into conflict with his justice. God having justly condemned man as unworthy of life, love could not step in and reverse the decision and set the prisoner free without first satisfying the claims of justice. Should God do so we should properly consider him changeable; and not only so, but we should all see that either the first or the last decision was unjust, for if the first decision was just, then the reversing of it was unjust, and if the last decision be just, the first must have been unjust. God is just and true; in him is no variableness; He will by no means clear the guilty. The guilt of all our race was laid on Jesus, and the claims of justice were satisfied in his sacrifice. If we say we have no sin (and hence no need of a Saviour to redeem from the consequence of it – death), "we make him a liar," for he declares, "There is none righteous; no, not one."
When all were in this condition of sin and condemnation in which we could neither help ourselves nor each other, because all being from Adam were under the same condemnation, then God's love carried out a plan (already conceived) by which he could clear the guilty race and restore them to life and at the same time do it justly. He so loved the sinner, whom he had justly [R429 : page 4] condemned, that he gave his Son that he should taste death (our penalty) for every man; that he should be a propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins (the Church's), and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2.) Thus God's love and wisdom, operating in harmony with his justice, succeed in clearing the guilty without any injustice. Thus only can God be just and the justifier of sinners who accept of the ransom "when brought to a full knowledge of it." (Rom. 3:26; 1 Tim. 2:4.) An earthly judge, before whom a criminal had been convicted and justly sentenced, could not justly set the prisoner free, nor declare him guiltless in the eyes of the law. But if some one came forward and paid the imposed penalty for the prisoner, the Judge could be just in justifying (declaring right in the eyes of the law) him whom he had formerly been just in condemning.
We feel satisfied that few have seen into the "depths of the riches both of the knowledge and wisdom of God." In wisdom and love all were judged according to the one representative whose example nearly all would undoubtedly have followed if they had been individually tried. If each of the one hundred and forty billions of human beings estimated to have been born into the world had been individually tried, and had yielded and been condemned as Adam was, it would have required as many perfect human beings to die for them, and thus pay their penalty and redeem them.
But looking at it from God's statement, we see a depth of divine wisdom and economy in the plan adopted – the condemning of all through one man's disobedience, that he might have mercy on all through the sacrifice of another one as a sin offering. Note the force of the following Scriptures from this standpoint and their meaninglessness when otherwise viewed: "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." "As by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous....Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, by a sacrifice (see margin) condemned sin in the flesh." "God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all."
"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God: how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!... Who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor? Of him, and through him, and to him are all things; to whom be glory forever." (1 Cor. 15:22; Rom. 5:18-21; 8:3; 11:32-36.)
In conclusion: On what are you building your faith, my brother, my sister? On the sands of men's opinions and theories, or on the one rock foundation which God himself has laid? – Jesus Christ, "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world" – who "died for our sins."
"My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name.
"His oath, his cov'nant and His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
"On Christ the Solid Rock I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand."
IT IS a good deal better to live holy than to talk about it. We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won't need to tell anybody that it does. The light will be its own witness. Lighthouses don't ring bells and fire cannons to call attention to their shining – they just shine.– Moody.
In a recent issue we called attention to Mr. B.'s theology, criticizing it sharply, but not unkindly. A reader of the TOWER thinks we were misinformed through the meagre press reports of Mr. B.'s recent utterances before the Congregational Association, and has kindly sent us a full report of the same, revised and corrected by Mr. B. himself. It is our desire to do justice to all. We have examined said reports and here make some extracts and comments.
Mr. B. says: "I believe miracles are possible now; they were not only possible, but real, in the times gone by – especially the two great miracles – the miraculous conception of Christ and his resurrection from the dead. When I give those up, the two columns on which the house stands will have to fall to the ground."
On the subject of the atonement he says: "I am accustomed to say that Christ is in himself the Atonement; that he is set forth in his life, teaching, suffering, death, resurrection and heavenly glory as empowered to FORGIVE SIN, and to transform men into a new and nobler life who know sin, and accept him in full and loving trust." "The Scriptures declare that the sufferings of Christ SECURED the remission of sins." "The Apostles continually point to Christ's sufferings. They inspire hope because Christ has suffered. They include in their commission that their joyful errand is to announce remission of sins BECAUSE of Christ's work." "I regard the statement in Rom. 3:20-26 as covering the ground which I hold, and as including all that is known." [Please read.]
If we consider Mr. B. from the standpoint of these remarks alone, we should have some reason to say that he is sound on the subject of redemption through the blood of Christ. But when we notice that throughout the whole statement of his views, the oft repeated Scriptural terms – ransom, bought, redeemed, propitiation (satisfaction) – are conspicuously absent from his confession of faith; that in the statement quoted he refers to the sufferings and work of Christ as the cause of the remission of sins; and that he says that nowhere does he find in Scripture statements of why the sufferings of Christ were necessary, or how they opened a way for sinners, it causes us still to doubt whether he appreciates the value of Christ's death as a satisfaction for sins, and causes the less wonder that reporters never correctly represent his views.
We are still in doubt as to whether Mr. B. believes that "Christ died for our sins;" that he "gave himself a ransom for all;" that we were "bought with a price, even the precious blood of Christ." We wonder from his own expression whether he believes the text he quoted (Rom. 3:20-26) as covering the ground which he holds. Does it cover all and more than he believes, when it says of Jesus, "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (appeasement or satisfaction) through FAITH IN HIS BLOOD to declare his righteousness for (in) the remission of sins that are past"?
Again, Mr. B. says: "Man is a being created in imperfection, and seeking a full development. Second, I believe him to be sinful." "No man ever lived, and no man ever will live, that is only a man that was not a sinner." Thus he charges the sin to the Creator and not to Adam, through whom the Scriptures affirm all were made sinners, and on account of whose disobedience all were condemned. (Rom. 5:18,19.) This Scripture doctrine of hereditary taint and condemnation he characterizes as "spiritual barbarism" (page 5), while on page 20 he makes what seems to our mind a complete contradiction of this when he says, "It is far easier for some to rise than others. Heredity has a powerful influence."
We think we see the cause of this stumbling in Mr. B.'s case. As a man he is noble, fearless, reasonable and benevolent. We see him struggling manfully with the theology of to-day, vainly endeavoring to patch it up, and make it conform to his sense of justice and benevolence. Personally we can but admire and love such a character, but we would that he, and all such, would lay aside all theological creeds and begin afresh the study of these subjects, using God's Word as the only standard.
We suggest that he might find, as we have, that God CREATED only our first parents, and that they were perfect and sinless as narrated in Scripture. That our imperfection, and consequent sin through inability to observe God's perfect law, is chargeable, not to God's having imperfectly created our first parents or ourselves, but to the fact that we derive our existence in a natural way from Adam and Eve since their fall by God's arrangement, and hence we have the hereditary taint and imperfection originally from Adam, increased or decreased by each generation, but without hope of ever being able to extricate ourselves from this condition of sin and death.
With this view it is easy to see why Christ died. It is easy to see that he came into the world, not to patch up God's imperfect creation and help to get it into good shape, but he came into the world to redeem from sin and its specified punishment – death – the race which, in its progenitor, God had created perfect and upright in his own moral likeness, but which, through sin, had lost all right to life. Since Jesus paid the very penalty which was against all – death, the sacrificing of his perfect humanity – how clear it is that all men are redeemed, or bought back from death, and re-established in a right to life (resurrection) through the ransom price given by our substitute, even the precious (valuable) blood (life) of Christ, which was "shed for the remission of sins that are past" – Adamic sins.
How much in harmony with this are the statements of Rom. 5:12,18,19. "By one man sin entered into the world and death by (as a result of) sin; and so death passed upon all men for that all have sinned." "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation (condemning them as unworthy of life), EVEN SO by the righteousness of one (Jesus) the free gift came upon (to) all men, unto justification of life. (Life became a free gift because we had as a race forfeited our right to the life originally given to Adam.) For as by one man's disobedience many (all) were made sinners, so by the obedience (even unto death – Phil. 2:8) of one shall many be made righteous." Paul regarded this fact that God had condemned all in Adam and justified all in Christ as a master piece of wisdom, and we should so mould our faith according to God's Word as to have it so in our estimation. If our theology does not make it appear so, we should conclude that something is wrong with our theology, and at once set about the prayerful closet study of the Bible to have it made right. God will reveal his gloriously harmonious plan to every diligent and fully consecrated searcher. "Light is sown for the righteous."
If Mr. B. considers himself misstated, and desires to correct our present understanding of his views, we shall be glad to furnish him as much space in a future issue as this article occupies. "Let God be true."
The day of the Lord, in the beginning of which we are now living, is everywhere throughout the Scriptures referred to as a time of special trouble – beginning first on the Church. But why should it begin with the Church? or rather, why should not the Church be entirely exempt from it? Let us look first to see what is the cause of the trouble, and the question may be readily answered.
The day of the Lord is the day when Jesus takes to himself his kingly power. The first work of the new king is the binding of Satan, the present "prince of this world," for "how can one enter into a strong man's house and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? then he will spoil his house" (Matt. 12:29); and "For this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil." (1 John 3:8.) Satan's reign has been one of terror under cover of the darkness (ignorance) of this world. But the present domination of evil is to end, and the prince of darkness (Satan) is to be bound. The kingdom of Christ is to bring joy and peace, and the nations shall walk in the light of it. (Rev. 21:24.)
As the light of truth increases darkness (ignorance) must flee away, and Satan to that extent must lose his power. Light – truth, will be the chain which will bind evil in the coming age under the reign of Christ. And when the knowledge of the Lord fills the whole earth as the waters cover the sea, then Satan will be completely bound. Now, it will be clearly seen that the Church – those walking by the light of the lamp of truth – are the first to escape from the kingdom of darkness. Over them Satan first begins to lose his power, and he here discovers that the binding influence is at work. Since our Lord and King has come, the light of truth has been shining as never before. [R431 : page 4]
It is not a supposable case that Satan will give up his dominion without a struggle, and this terrible struggle between light and darkness, truth and error, is now going on specially in the Church. Every new truth is confronted by some seemingly plausible error, and every old truth is assailed and unsettled in the minds of those not fully equipped for the fearful contest. Lukewarm and merely nominal Christians are little troubled about these things, and as long as they sleep on, ignoring the light that has come into the world, Satan can afford to let them alone.
One of the devices of the adversary now, so closely resembles his policy in Eden, that if God's children will note it, they can but indignantly repulse his audacity. He first presented a temptation to Eve, attempted to prove the advantages of partaking of the forbidden fruit; reasoned that God was unjust in depriving them of it, etc. Eve replied, "God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die." But Satan said, "Ye shall not surely die." The act of disobedience in eating that fruit was sufficient to accomplish the work of death. Obedience was the rock on which they stood in harmony with God, having the promise of everlasting life, but they left the rock and thus lost life and all claim to it.
Death to all eternity, was the result of that act had not deliverance been provided through a Redeemer, who became man's substitute in death, thus ransoming him from the power of the grave. Faith in the efficacy of our ransom price – the precious blood of Christ – is now the only means of access to God's favor, the only sure foundation, the rock on which we may now stand. Those who come to a full knowledge of the truth in this age, may now be justified and at peace with God, standing on this rock by faith. All the world shall in the next age come to the knowledge of the truth, and can find favor with God only through acknowledging and resting on the merit of the Redeemer. And now Satan is again at work seeking by every means in his power to undermine and unsettle this foundation of our faith, trying to show that we need no Redeemer, and that he who claimed to be our Redeemer was a sinful man even as we; that his life was a forfeited life coming down from Adam through Joseph, instead of a new creation, perfect, from God his Father. Ah! but we reply, "God hath said," "There is no name given under heaven, or among men, whereby we must be saved, but the name of Jesus." "In him was no sin," and we are redeemed "with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."
Oh, says the adversary, that is not to be taken literally; those are only figurative expressions, and do not mean what they appear to. If you were only spiritually minded you would see that they mean the very opposite. Here is a sly appeal to the old pride which we had covenanted to crucify. Again, we reply, but God hath said, that if those who were once enlightened count the blood of [R431 : page 5] the covenant wherewith they were sanctified an unholy (common) thing, such draw back unto perdition (destruction), there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins (Heb. 10:26-29) – such shall surely die. No, says the deceiver, ye shall not surely die, and then he quotes a text where it does not belong, saying, "God will have all men to be saved." This is true of the Adamic death – "God will have all men to be saved" from the first or Adamic death, and then to be brought "to a knowledge of the truth;" and after that, if they sin wilfully, etc., they die a second time, and there remaineth for such no more a sacrifice for sins. The ransom given was for Adamic sin, and releases only from the death which came by Adam. There is no ransom given and no redemption promised from the "Second death," which is the punishment for wilful sin after justification and enlightenment.
The world is not thus enlightened yet, only God's children are. We, are already reckoned of God as having passed from death unto life, since justified by faith in the precious blood of Christ. And not only so, but being thus justified, and having presented ourselves as living sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ, we have access into this grace wherein we stand as "new creatures." Thus all our hope will be seen to depend entirely on our acceptance of Jesus as our Redeemer, Ransom, Substitute, his payment of our penalty. And, therefore, to all the dear household of faith we would say, Beware of the deceiver! This is his old battle-plan, and all should be able to recognize it. He still claims that the wages of sin is not death – "Ye shall not surely die." And be assured that if this policy does not accomplish your overthrow, some other device will be tried.
Let not the storm of his wrath sweep you off the Rock; keep your building on this foundation, and continue to build with the gold and silver and precious stones of truth. Most of those in the nominal Church have been building on this rock, but the material they have used was mainly the wood, hay and stubble of men's traditions. But the trial of this day shall try every man's work of what sort it is. The storms, and the floods, and the winds, and the hail shall beat upon your house, and the fiery trial shall prove all. "Who shall be able to stand?" All on the rock shall stand, though any whose building is of wood, hay and stubble shall suffer loss, and they shall be saved, yet so as by fire. Remember, "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Eph. 6:12.)
"Ne'er think the victory won,
Nor once at ease sit down;
The work of faith will not be done,
Till thou hast gained thy crown."
Since our sins were laid upon Jesus, and we by faith accepted him as our Redeemer, his righteousness has been laid upon us. Yes, his righteousness is our glorious dress. "Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments."
In our last issue, in the article headed "An Unpleasant Duty," we called attention to the "Day Star," a paper which we once warmly commended to our readers, and which we were pleased to recognize as a co-laborer in the spread of divine truth.
We called attention to the fact that the "Day Star" had recently left the basis of Christian hope, viz.: Redemption from sin and death by the ransom price – Jesus' death – and that it was evidently seeking to lead in a race for open infidelity by endeavoring (without cause) to throw discredit on the first chapters of Matthew and Luke, in order to support the erroneous claim that Jesus was the son of Joseph, and altogether born in sin and shapen in iniquity as much as any other man, having descended from the fallen Adam.
As we stated then, we repeat now, that this has been to us a very unpleasant duty. We are sorry to lose the company of the "Day Star," which for nearly a year gave promise of being a faithful co-worker in the spread of "good tidings of great joy."
Our grief is two-fold, however, for we not only mourn the loss of a fellow laborer, but we behold in it an "enemy of the cross of Christ," whose spread and increase means opposition to truth and increase of error. Nor have we any hesitation in saying that the fact that it still retains some of the truths of restitution will but aid in the overthrow of the faith of some, by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. (2 Pet. 2:2.) Restitution will be the bait, error will be the hook, and sophistry the line by which the unwary will be drawn into infidelity. Sadly we mourn our loss.
We called attention to the "Day Star" because we wanted to put all on guard, for we well knew that all would not at once recognize the deadly mixture which is being presented to them under the cover of some truth.
We knew, too, that many had been so long starved in Babylon, that having come to taste and see the goodness of God and the beauty of His plan for the restitution of all things, their appetite for truth was so sharpened that they could easily be poisoned if not shown the error – hence our word of caution.
Arsenic is white and resembles sugar. If it were presented to you by a friend marked sugar, you would perhaps use it and be poisoned. The "Watch Tower" was the friend which handed you sample copies of the "Day Star" marked sugar, and now we find that it is changed to poison, though mixed with the sweets of restitution. Surely, then, if we did not cry aloud and properly label it poison, we should be guilty before God. (Ezek. 33:6.)
Druggists are accustomed to put the label, "POISON," on all poisonous drugs, not to prohibit their use, but to prevent any from using them in ignorance of this true character. So with us, we do not seek to prohibit our readers from reading the works of Paine, Voltaire or Ingersol, or the "Day Star," but we want the latter as well as the rest labeled infidel. All except the latter claim to be [R432 : page 5] infidel, i.e., rejecters of the Bible's teachings. The latter, claiming to be a believer, is "privately" (i.e., under cover) denying the redemption, seeking to undermine the nature of the Redeemer, and to overthrow confidence in the value of the New Testament generally.
In its last issue the "Day Star" takes notice of our "Unpleasant Duty." It affects a tone of injured innocence, and claims that our saying that it was seeking to "lead in a race for open infidelity" is unjust; but in the same paper it shows that our statement had the best of foundation, for in another column we find that it not only rejects those chapters of Matthew and Luke which teach that Jesus was born of a virgin – conceived in her by the power of Jehovah – but rejects the inspiration and value of the New Testament Scriptures totally. We quote the following sentences from it: "We feel confident that the acceptance of the Old Testament writings and the rejection of those of the New Testament, not in accord with it, will free us absolutely from Babylon's isms." "We have more confidence in the authority of the Old Testament writings taken as a whole, and of their importance in arriving at the truth, than we have in the reliability of all the New Testament Scriptures." "We repeat, that all who would GROW must rid themselves of the childish idea that it is wrong to question the sense or application of a Scripture, even though it be made by an apostle."
Why, this is just what Ingersol and all other infidels would say of the New Testament; the only difference is that they would say the same of the Old Testament. And at the present rate of progress, the "Day Star" will soon pronounce the Old Testament as unreliable as the New Testament. Already we regret to learn its Editor scoffs at the narrative of Noah and the Ark as recorded in Genesis.
And yet the "Day Star" states that it is misrepresented by us when we say it is on the race for open infidelity. Does our contemporary know the meaning of the word infidel? It signifies unbeliever – one who rejects the special inspiration of the New Testament – or one who denies that the man Jesus had Jehovah for a father. Since this is the unbelief of the "Day Star," why object to calling it by its true name, infidelity. It is those errors which are brought in "privately" (secretly under cover of truth) which the Scriptures call "damnable heresies."
But we are not satisfied fully yet. The "Day Star" tells its readers that we misrepresent it when we say it denies that the Lord bought us; and it contends that it does believe and teach that "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures."
The "Day Star" has fallen into a habit common to some other publications, of quoting certain passages of Scripture and claiming that they believe them, and giving the impression that those Scriptures are favorable to their theories, when such is not the case. For instance, such texts as the following are often quoted: "Who gave himself a ransom for all" (1 Tim. 2:6). "Christ died for our sins" (1 Cor. 15:3). "Ye are bought with a price" (1 Cor. 6:20). "Ye were redeemed ...with the precious blood of Christ" (1 Pet. 1:18). Then, in the very same paper, the idea of our being "bought" will be scouted as ridiculous.
This conduct attempts to excuse itself by saying, "We do not believe that Christ died for any man's sins according to men's theories." Now, we ask, has any one the right to use the words ransom, redeem, bought, etc., and put a private interpretation on the meaning of those words in order to say he believes them? We think not. The "Day Star" is published in the English language, and common honesty demands that those words be used according to their true meaning and not according to the convenience of any theory. There are standard authorities on the meaning of both Greek and English words, and according to these the "Day Star" does not believe, nor teach, that Jesus was our "ransom," our "Redeemer," nor that we were "bought with a price."
It has been shown heretofore in these columns, not only that these English words (ransom, bought, redeem) mean the giving of one thing instead of, or as a substitute for another, but also that the Greek words which these are used to translate are, if possible, still stronger expressions of the same idea. We have shown scripturally that Jesus was a perfect man, and though born of a woman, his life came not from man, but from God. "The angel said unto Mary (Luke 1:35), The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: THEREFORE also that HOLY THING which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." He is here and elsewhere declared holy, undefiled and separate from sinners, even from his birth. Then he did not partake of the condemned or forfeited life of Adam through Joseph, but of a life as directly from God as was the first Adam's. We have shown that because thus born "holy," or sinless, he had an unforfeited life which he could give for the life of Adam and all who died in him. This he did. "He came to give his LIFE a ransom (exchange) for many" lives. (Matt. 20:28.) (See Rom. 5:18,19.)
Of course when the "Day Star" claims that Jesus got his life from Joseph, and was as much born in Adamic sin as any other man, it must needs deny the meaning of the word ransom, because one sinner cannot ransom another.
Now, we wish the "Day Star" to tell us, not what it does not believe, but what it does believe on this subject: Why did Jesus die? How does it effect our sins? How did he put away sin by the sacrifice of himself? In what way did he give "himself a ransom (Gr. antilutron – an equivalent price) for all?" In what sense was he a propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins? In what sense were we "bought with a price"? We desire an answer to these questions full and explicit for the truth's sake, and any evasion of them we will regard as an admission of the "Day Star's" inability to answer. These questions relate to the very foundation of Christianity.
We have put these questions so pointedly that we hope the "Day Star's" private and peculiar and new use of English words will hereafter be understood. We esteem that method which attempts to palm off error under guise and cover of scriptural words and phrases, while ignoring their meaning, as the most insidious and injurious form of infidelity. We do not like to see the label "sugar" put on arsenic and handed to God's children without our emphatic protest and exposure of its true character. We are glad to know that some by use, have had their senses so exercised as to be able at once to distinguish between the truth concerning the restitution and the deadly error handed with it, which takes away the very and only basis of restitution – the ransom price. Put on the proper label, and then let every man who wants to use it do so, but so far as possible keep it out of the reach of babes.
At the dawn of the Gospel dispensation, when the star of Bethlehem had arisen, and was about to be manifested to Israel, John cried: "Reform, (change your minds), because the Royal Majesty of the heavens has approached." (Diaglott). His audience was made up of all classes dwelling in and about Jerusalem at that time, and doubtless all, or nearly all, were more or less under the influence of the teaching of the Jewish church.
True they had the law given by God to Moses, and it was "holy, just and good," but those Jewish doctors had, by their traditions, added to and taken from to such an extent that the minds of the people were corrupted, being taught "for doctrines the commandments of men."
The nominal Christian church of to-day occupies, in many respects, a position similar to the nominal Jewish church at that time. The idea that "salvation is of the Jews," was a deeply rooted one, but lacking the grand and glorious significance which attached to it in the mind of Jesus, when he gave utterance to the words. (John 4:22.) There is no doubt that the Jewish teachers of that time had taken great pains to instill into the minds of the people at large the idea that if they would enjoy a blissful hereafter they must attach themselves to the Jewish church; in fact, Jesus said they "compassed sea and land to make one proselyte." (Matt. 23:15.) But that their teaching was not of a nature to greatly improve their morals, we infer from the remainder of the passage just quoted.
Briefly, we may say, among other things, the Pharisees believed in the immortality of the soul, and in the eternal suffering of the wicked. The Sadducees, another class, disbelieved in the resurrection; neither did they believe in angel or spirit. How striking the similarity and effect of the teaching of these fundamental doctrines by the nominal church then and now!
Both classes of Jews, by their traditional teaching, did away with the need of a resurrection; and though the Pharisees professed to believe it, yet they practically denied it; and the Sadducees, denying a future life, of course had no use for the doctrine of the resurrection.
The tradition of the Pharisees that man does "not surely (really) die," but [R433 : page 5] only changes his mode of existence, could claim great antiquity, having been promulgated in the garden of Eden. (Gen. 3:4.) That our blessed Lord, when warning the disciples against the "doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees" (Matt. 16:6-12,) had especial reference to the state of the dead, we cannot doubt, for it is primary.
If, to use the language of orthodoxy, "the soul lives after the body dies," then Satan's statement would not have [R433 : page 6] been a very killing thing, and the worst we could say of it would be, that he did not tell the whole truth; but Jesus said he was a murderer from the beginning, and that he is the father of lies. (John 8:44.) What was the first lie, if this was not it? We conclude, therefore, that he did a killing thing, that he told a murderous lie when he said "thou shalt not surely die," and this in flat contradiction to God's words: "In the day thou eatest thereof dying thou shalt die." One thing is noticeable; let the statements mean what you will, they do not agree. Which will you believe?
Upon the capital which this statement furnishes, Satan has done business for thousands of years; but the light shines, day dawns, "the Royal Majesty of the heavens has approached," blessed be his name, and though man dies, he shall live again. Glory be to God!
Our inquiry is answered by Paul in 1 Cor. 15:22. As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive; "but every man in his own order." Ver. 23. This reveals the fact that there are different orders or grades of life. See also 1 Cor. 15:39-42, and "Food" page 134. And the term "salvation" is properly applied to either grade, because before they reach either order, they must have been saved from death. This shows that when speaking of salvation we should use some discrimination, as to what order or rank of salvation we refer to, and leads to the conclusion that those who are not in a given order of life are not necessarily eternally damned, nor cut off from every kind of life, but may be found in some other rank or order. After examining much scripture evidence upon this point carefully, we conclude that all men die, and that all men will live again; and therefore we change our mind as to there being but one order of life among the sons of God, redeemed from Adam's fall, and that only a few share in any manner in the merits of Jesus Christ's death.
We once believed that only a few were brought to blissful life, and that all the rest were consigned to a miserable life, and in this misery were immortal, and this we called death. Now, as God's Royal Majesty has approached again, the darkness is being driven away, and we repent, (change our mind), regarding this doctrine, which has been made the evil instrument of getting money from the poor, who are made to believe that their dead friends are alive, and that a few prayers, paid for with their money; would get them from one rank of miserable life into an order of life more desirable. Into how many multiplied forms of evil this beginning of lies has grown; but we are glad we find space for repentance, and are permitted, "by patient continuance in well doing, to seek for immortality."
First; if men are dead they are not in torment, (this truth would ruin that slander upon God's mercy and justice), neither are they in heaven – hence; second; they would need a resurrection; and third; to have a resurrection there must be some one to raise them (a Saviour), all of which might be dispensed with if man did not die. Thus the adversary has made many believe that they do not need a Saviour, and that they receive communications from their dead friends. But says one: "Our Saviour saves his people from their sins, and when saved from sin, they are saved from death. Ah, no, my orthodox (?) brother, your being saved from sin does not save you from death. Read more carefully, think closely. You are now living, your fathers have been living in an age where men do not die for their own sins. Adam, who lived in "the world that was," died from his own sin, and we have "sprung from the man whose guilty fall corrupts his race and tints us all." "The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge." (Jer. 31:29.) If you were to live a sinless life from the moment your sins were forgiven, you would die, but in the resurrection you would come up in a different order from what you would, if they had not been forgiven in this age. Do you say: "Well, if I am not saved from my sins in this world, I never shall be?" Then we should say, that will depend upon how incorrigible you are under the "many stripes" which you will certainly get, if you do not forsake sin in the coming age, for in that age every man who dies, dies for his own sin. (Jer. 31:30.) Now, as we said, you die on account of Adam's sin, and perhaps a little sooner on account of your own, but you must die anyhow; but in the age to come, if you will be obedient to the heavenly messengers (for then they shall all be taught of God), you may live forever. Perhaps you say: "Well, I don't believe we shall have any second chance for salvation if we are not saved here." My dear brother, "of which salvation" are you speaking? Do you say you do not know but one salvation?
In the sense of there being salvation only through Christ, it is true there is but one salvation, but in the sense of there being degrees or orders of life, it is plain there are more than one. The prize held out to view now, is, that under certain conditions we may be partakers of the divine nature, that prize can only be reached in this world (or age), for the very good reason that a part of the conditions can only be met in this age. Those who wish to be made like Christ, and receive the "great salvation" (become immortal), must suffer with him, must "fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ." (Col. 1:24.) Those who are of this class, are chosen "through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." (2 Thes. 2:13.) May we be "kept by the power of God through faith unto (this) salvation?" Yes, this is the salvation now about to be revealed, of which the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto us, a salvation embracing things which the angels desire to look into. 1 Peter 1:3-12.
Those who would be Christ's, can only become members of his body in this age: members of that anointed company of which Jesus is the chief or head. "Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world?" (1 Cor. 6:2.) Surely they are not judging the world now? Does some one say, "Well, then, what is meant in John 12:31, "Now is the judgment of this world?" Read on a little further, "Now shall the prince of this world be cast out." Who is the prince of the world? He is the one who now rules in the children of disobedience." (Eph. 2:2.) Is he cast out? No. Well, the same "now" that applies to judgment," applies to being "cast out." Then the words of Jesus must have meant this: "now," i.e., by this arrangement of Christ's incarnation and death Satan is to be cast out. By this means will finally be accomplished the judgment of this world. The saints (partakers of the divine nature), are judged now, and will not come into judgment again. "He that heareth my word (they do not all hear who are spoken to), and believeth him that sent me, hath eternal life, and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life." (John 5:24. R.V.) Does our orthodox (?) brother say "There, now stop right there; does that not prove that if we are saved from sin we are saved from death?"
O yes! he is judged out, and cannot have another judgment passed on him. It is a legal proceeding, then, by the highest tribunal, and is a conclusive argument to prove that a judgment day is now in progress, and that this judgment will be executed (realized) when he stands up in the "first resurrection" with Christ's likeness, the conflict being over. He will then be immortal, and "cannot die any more," and will be in a fit condition to judge the world and angels. (1 Cor. 6:2-3.)
"And it shall come to pass in that (judgment) day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people." (Isa. 11:11.) Then Satan will be cast out, obstacles will be removed, "all shall be taught of the Lord" (the judicial body, the complete Christ), and doubtless nearly all will, under such circumstances, obey and accept of life. This will be everlasting human life in harmony, peace and filial obedience to God – the blessed estate which Adam lost – a gloriously satisfying portion to the natural man who cannot now, and never will comprehend spiritual things, because he never is to have them.
Let us earnestly entreat those who by consecration have become "new creatures," (spiritual) and as such, are hoping for the prize, to remember Paul's words (and they may be emphasized now), in this time of worldly pressure and conflict. "This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the HIGH CALLING of God in Christ Jesus." Now is the special time of instruction for earth's future rulers.
Satan's first lie believed, would blind us to the whole line of God's truth and plan. We did believe it, but we now repent.
In our last issue we found fault with a contemporary's desire to set aside the first chapters of Matthew and Luke, and showed that its claim that the authenticity of these chapters was questioned by scholars, was untrue – which we repeat. We said that these chapters were recognized by the very best authority, viz., the three oldest Greek MSS. of the N.T. – the Sinaitic, Vatican and Alexandrine – whose value and age is in the order mentioned; the Sinaitic being the oldest and most complete.
Replying to this, our contemporary, still attempting to set aside Matt. 1, and Luke 1, endeavors to cast discredit on the entire N.T., as well as these chapters. It attempts to show that these three most reliable MSS. are widely at variance, some omitting whole passages and books which others contain, and no two omitting the same chapters, verses and books, giving on the whole the impression that the whole matter is so mixed that it is totally impossible to reach any satisfactory conclusion as to what was, or was not written, by the Apostles. To prove this confusion of testimony, numerous quotations are made from the preface of Tischendorf's New Testament.
We shall not consume our space with extracts from Tischendorf's preface, for, as promised, we shall arrange shortly that all who desire shall have opportunity of procuring these various readings and the explanatory preface complete.* Suffice it for the present for us to say that our contemporary so quotes and so argues as to give a false impression in this matter. If this is done knowingly it is a crime against truth – if done ignorantly it is a shame.
Mr. Tischendorf favors the Sinaitic MSS. His claim is that the Sinaitic MSS. is not only the oldest, but also the only old MS. of the New Test. which is "perfect, without the loss of a single leaf." In proving this he refers to the Vatican MS., and says that from Heb. 9:14 to the end, the N.T. is missing from it. Referring to the next oldest MS., he shows the superiority of the Sinaitic over it, also, by calling attention to the fact that it is imperfect also, parts of the MS. parchment having been lost or destroyed during the twelve hundred years preceding its bringing from Alexandria. He shows that all of Matthew up to chap. 25: verse 6, is missing; also about two chapters in John, and nearly eight chapters in Second Corinthians. But he is not showing that these MSS. contradict each other, which is our contemporary's object, but that these chapters are missing; and hence he proves the Sinaitic most valuable, since not a single leaf of it is missing. It is truly remarkable that MSS. of such an age should be so well preserved.
We repeat, then, that the narrative of Jesus' miraculous conception as recorded in the first chapters of Matthew and Luke, has the very best and oldest Greek MSS. to support it. The Sinaitic and Vatican, the oldest and best, contain both chapters, and the Alexandrine MS. contains the account in Luke; that in Matthew was missing – not omitted.
The doctrine of the "Immaculate Conception," as held by papists, relates not to Jesus, but to Mary, his mother. Papists claim that Mary was immaculate (pure), free from Adamic sin, by reason of her mother's miraculous conception of her. It is one of the strong evidences of the purity of the old N.T. MSS. and of God's care in their preservation, that they are free from the doctrines peculiar to the "Mother of Harlots" – even though unwittingly one of them was hid in the "Vatican Library."
"The prophets" in the Christian Church, speaking themselves, under inspiration, and those having the Spirit's gift, "the discerning of spirits," acted as checks on the transmission of error orally before the completion of the written word. Secondly, it was under their inspired superintendence that the New Testament Scriptures were put forth as they were successively written. (1 Cor. 14:37.) "If any man...be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write... are the commandments of the Lord." Thus, by the two-fold sanction of inspiration, that of the authors and that of the judges, the canonicity of each book is established. By God's gracious providence most of the books of the New Testament were in the Church's possession years before the death of leading apostles, all of them before the death of John. If spurious books had crept into the cycle of professedly inspired books, they would have been at once removed by apostolic authority....The earliest notice of a collection is in 2 Pet. 3:1-6, which speaks of "all the epistles" of Paul as if some collection of them then existed, and was received in the churches as on a par with "the other Scriptures." The earliest uninspired notice is that of the anonymous fragment of "The Canon of the New Testament" attributed to Caius, a Roman presbyter. It recognizes all the books except Ephesians, Hebrews, James, the two epistles of Peter, and perhaps 3 of John. It condemns as spurious "The Shepherd, written very recently in our own times at Rome by Hermas, while his brother Pius was bishop of the see of Rome" – i.e., between A.D. 140 and 150. Thus the canon, in far the greater part, is proved as received in the first half of the second century, whilst some of John's contemporaries were still living. In the same age the Peshito or Syriac version remarkably complements the Muratorian fragment's canon, by including also Hebrews and James. In the latter part of the second century, Clement, of Alexandria, refers to "The Gospel" collection and that of all the epistles of "The Apostles." The anonymous epistle to Diognetus still earlier speaks of the "Law, the Prophets, the Gospels and the Apostles." Ignatius, of Antioch, a hearer of John, terms the written gospel "the flesh of Jesus," and the apostles, i.e., their epistles, "Presbytery of the Church." Theophilus, of Antioch, and Irenaeus term the New Testament writings "the Holy Scriptures." Tertullian uses for the first time the term, "New Testament," and calls the whole Bible "the whole instrument of both Testaments." [R434 : page 7]
Thus there is a continuous chain of evidence from the apostles down to the third century. The quotations by the fathers (of whom, Origen quotes at least two-thirds of the New Testament), and the oldest versions, the Syriac, Latin and Egyptian, prove that their Scriptures were the same as ours. Eusebius, the ecclesiastical historian (A.D. 330), mentions all the 27 books of the New Testament, dividing them into the universally acknowledged and the debated; the latter the Ephesians, James, Jude, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, and Apocalypse "received by the majority," and at last received by all the churches when the evidence had been more fully tested. A third class he calls "the spurious," as the "Shepherd of Hermas," "the Epistle of Barnabas," "the Acts of Paul," which all rejected. Moreover, all our oldest Greek MSS. of the epistles contains those epistles once doubted by some; so do all the versions except the Syriac; see above....The transition from oral to written teaching was gradual. Catechizing, i.e., instructing by word of mouth, was the mode at first, and "faith" then "came by hearing" (Luke 1:4; Romans 10:17), in which, however, there was always an appeal to Old Testament Scriptures (Acts 17:11). But that the orally taught might know more fully "the (unerring) certainty of those things wherein they had been instructed," and to guard against the dangers of oral tradition (illustrated in John 21:23,24), the word was committed to writing by apostles and evangelists, and was accredited publicly by the churches in the lifetime of the writers. The approach of their death, their departure to foreign lands, their imprisonment, and the need of a touchstone to test heretical writings and teachings in their absence, all made a written record needful. The cessation of miracles and personal inspiration was about the same time as the written inspired word was completed. Bishop Kaye (Eccles. Hist. 98-100) observes that Justin Martyr, Theophilus, etc., only make general assertion of miracles still continuing, being loathe to see what seemingly weakened their cause, the cessation of miracles; but they gave no specific instance....With much good that is in the apostolic fathers, their works "remind us what the apostles would have been had not they been inspired, and what we ourselves should be if we had not the written word" (Wordsworth, Canon Scr., page 137).
So far from there being a gradual waning of inspiration from the writings of the Apostles and Evangelists to those of succeeding Christian writers, there is so wide a chasm (the more remarkable as the early fathers had the apostolic writings to guide them) that this alone is a strong proof that the Scripture writers were guided by an extraordinary Divine power. Their previous habits (as being some of them illiterate, and all bigoted Jews) prove that nothing but Divine power could have so changed them from their former selves as to be founders of a spiritual and worldwide dispensation (see Luke 24:25-49), utterly alien to their Jewish prejudices. Their style accords with their supposed position, simple and unlearned (except Paul's), yet free from aught offensive to the polished. If it be asked why we do not receive the epistles of Barnabas and of Clement, the Acts of Paul and Thecla (one of the earliest apocryphal writings), [R435 : page 7] etc., we answer, not because (as Rome would have us say) the Churches could not err in judgment in rejecting them, but because, as a matter of evidence, we believe they did not err. These works were not received by contemporary Christians who had the best of opportunity of knowing evidences of authenticity and inspiration. If one or two cite them, it is an exception, not invalidating the otherwise uniform testimony against them. The internal evidence of their style is fatal to their pretentions. So "the Acts of Paul", Tertullian testifies its author was excluded by John from the office of presbyter for having written it. The New Testament is a complete organic whole, so that even one book could not be omitted without loss to the completeness of the Christian cycle of truth.
From quotations given in another column from a contemporary, it will be seen that it boldly advances the teaching that the New Testament will not compare with the Old Testament as an authority; that if it be received as sacred Scripture at all, it is to be completely subordinated to the Old Testament, and that any doctrine or statement of the New Testament not supported by a similar statement in the Old Testament is unworthy of acceptance and belief.
If this be true, if this be new light, then we have all along been in darkness, and the poor Jew which Paul says was blinded was really in the light all the time, and the Christian Church, instead of walking in the path of light, has been in darkness from the Apostles down. Why, this is the exact teaching of Judaism. From such new light (?) we pray to be delivered.
We wish to reply to the above, and to show that the basis is false, and the deductions consequently erroneous. First, however, let us remark, that if the above be true, if we are to believe only what is taught in the Old Testament, then our faith is vain, for in the Old Testament we find nothing concerning our HEAVENLY hopes. There is not in it a promise of a heavenly crown, not a promise of a spiritual body, not a promise to the "Royal Priesthood," not a mention of the "new creature." No, its choicest promises are all earthly, like that given to Abraham – "Lift up now thine eyes and look...for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed after thee." (Gen. 13:14,15.)
No, nothing was seen of the spiritual blessings in reservation for you (the gospel Church) until "our Saviour Jesus Christ brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel." (2 Tim. 1:10.) These are not found in the Law nor in the Prophets' writings, but only in the New Testament. No, the very most we can say of the teaching of the Old Testament relative to "our high calling," is that it gave fleshly shadows of some of our blessed hopes. And these we should never have been able to understand any more than did they, but for the keys furnished by the Holy Spirit through the Apostles.
Paul tells us that he had special revelations from the Lord (2 Cor. 12:1-7; Gal. 1:12, and 2:2; Eph. 3:3), and claims for his writings that they are specially inspired. (1 Cor. 14:37.) He even mentions those items of his teachings which were not "by commandment of the Lord." (1 Cor. 7:6.)
The book of Revelation opens with the statement, that it is a revelation which God gave, not to the Prophets, but "to Jesus Christ." Such a revelation would have been superfluous if the Old Testament contained all needful information. Peter also claims special inspiration, power and knowledge as an Apostle over and above the Prophets. (See Acts 5:2-5; 1 Pet. 1:10-12.)
We claim, furthermore, that the operation of God's power – Spirit – on the Prophets was so different from the operation of the same Spirit upon the Gospel Church, that the humblest Christian may know more of God's plan than could the greatest prophet. Though there had not arisen a greater prophet than John the Baptist, yet the "least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." (Matt. 11:11.) The prophets belonged to the fleshly house, we to the spiritual. "Moses (a prophet) verily was faithful as a servant over all his house (of servants), but Christ as a Son over his own house (of sons), whose house are ye – if, etc." (Heb. 3:5,6.) Jesus tells us of our special privileges over the prophets and others, saying, "To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven," and "Verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them, and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them." (Matt. 13:11,17.)
Paul tells the same story of how God had revealed to the Gospel Church that which had not been known previously. He says: "If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward; how that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery (as I wrote afore in few words, whereby when ye read ye may understand my knowledge of the mystery of Christ) which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto the holy apostles and prophets (teachers) by the Spirit." (See Eph. 3:2-10.) Peter adds his testimony, saying: "Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace (favor, knowledge) that should come unto you. Searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. Unto whom (the prophets) it was revealed that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the Gospel unto you with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven." (1 Pet. 1:10-12.)
If we reject the foregoing testimony of the apostles regarding the special revelation made to them, whereby they were able to give us a knowledge of the mystery hid from other ages, we should reject all of their teachings on every subject, since men who will lie are not to be trusted at all.
Furthermore, we claim that though this favor of greater knowledge and revelation is to the humblest member of the Church, yet it came to us directly through the Apostles; and their writings are the basis of proper Christian faith to-day. We read that God hath set in his Church various members with various gifts for the edifying of the body of Christ, but first (chiefly) Apostles. (1 Cor. 12:28.)
The Spirit has raised up in the Church evangelists, pastors, teachers, for the edifying of itself; but it never gave more than one head – Jesus – nor more than the original twelve Apostles. These are enough, they are still with us; we have their words of reproof, correction and instruction to-day, even better understood now than by those whom they more directly addressed.
True, Paul was not of the original twelve, neither was he the one the eleven mistakenly appointed to Judas' place (They did it before the Pentecostal blessing); yet he not only informs us that he was specially appointed to be an apostle, but his teachings prove it.
Paul, who had more abundant revelations than all the apostles, knew more about the "mystery" of the Gospel than he was permitted plainly to express to the Church then living – it being meat not then in due season. This he himself expresses, saying that he had learned "things not lawful to be uttered." But though he was not permitted to utter all of "the deep things of God," nevertheless the fact of his possessing a knowledge of those deep things cast such a reflection upon all that he did write, that his words have been the basis of almost all the "meat in due season" furnished to the Church since. He himself tells us that an affliction was permitted (a thorn in the flesh) lest he should be exalted above measure by God's revelations to him. (2 Cor. 12:7.)
As it has been affirmed that the Apostles evidently made mistakes of quotation, and misapplied prophetic statements, we want to consider that feature of the subject. For this purpose let us have a careful
We want to refer you to a number of prophetic statements, and have you note the connections closely and see that the statements which met a fulfillment in Jesus were so mixed up with other statements not specially applicable to him, that you or I or the Jew might have readily stumbled over them and never have thought of applying them to Messiah, had not the Holy Spirit brought these things to the attention of the Apostles. In fact, we know that the disciples understood not these things and saw not their true application until after Jesus was risen. (See John 12:16.)
Turn to Micah 5:2, and see how obscurely the birthplace (Bethlehem) is mentioned. The birthplace is mentioned, and the humiliation, yet in so [R436 : page 7] disconnected a manner that though the Scribes and Chief Priests understood of his birthplace (Matt. 2:4-6), yet they could not see that as the Judge of Israel he would be smitten "with a rod upon the cheek." (Matt. 27:30.)
Take another. Turn to Hosea 11:1 and find the record: "I have called my Son out of Egypt." Nothing about the context would ever lead you to suppose this to apply to Jesus. It altogether seems to relate to Israel as an infant nation brought from Egypt. But when our attention is once called to it, we can see how the name Israel (prevailer) applied well to Jesus; and not only so, but that the coming of the nation Israel out of literal Egypt and the coming of Jesus out of literal Egypt (Matt. 2:20) are types of the coming of the entire Israel (the Church) out of the antitype of Egypt, viz., the world.
Jer. 31:15 introduces Rachel weeping for her children in an entirely disconnected manner, and it could not be understood until fulfilled (Matt. 2:17). Rachel was the mother of two of the tribes – Joseph and Benjamin. Bethlehem was in the country apportioned to Benjamin, which tribe, with Judah, occupied Palestine at the time of the first advent.
Look at Psalm 22. Any one might read that Psalm throughout and not doubt but that David was speaking of himself. And we doubt not that David thought the same; but Jehovah guided his utterance and made him thus to represent Messiah.
Read Psalm 118:22,23,26, about the stone which the builders rejected, etc., which our Lord applied to himself (Matt. 21:42); yet these prophetic statements of Messiah evidently stand mixed up with David's own experiences.
Look, also, at Isaiah 61. Here the prophet personates Christ, saying: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach," etc. To all appearance the prophet was the person meant, yet when Jesus points out its fulfillment in himself (Luke 4:18) we see that in him its conditions were fully met.
See Zech. 11:12. Here Zechariah was sold for thirty pieces of silver, and nothing in the connection indicates that he was a type or representative of Jesus, who was afterward sold for thirty pieces.
But we must notice one Scripture which has been cited as specially misapplied by Matthew in chap. 1:23, viz., Isaiah 7:14, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." The objection is made that because this promise had a typical fulfillment at that time, as mentioned in chap. 8:3, therefore it could not have a reference to Mary and her son Jesus. We reply that its partial fulfillment at the time is no argument against its application to Mary as made by the Apostle. It would be equally consistent to argue that because thirty pieces were actually weighed out for Zechariah, therefore that prophecy could have no reference to Judas' sale of Jesus.
On the contrary, it was not uncommon for Jehovah to deal in this very way – causing a typical fulfillment of a prophecy to transpire, and thus attract attention for a time away from the actual fulfillment. In this case of typical fulfillment we suggest that the prophet represented Jehovah, the prophetess represented the Virgin Mary, and their child represented Jesus. But is it objected that Mary's son was called Jesus, and not Immanuel? We reply that such shortsighted reasoning would make nonsense of both Old and New Testaments. How about the names given in Isaiah 9:6? "His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." Must we set aside this prophecy also, because the child was called Jesus, or shall we recognize the fact that many names, as well as many offices, are his? In answer we would say – his name has been called Immanuel. We [R436 : page 8] call him Immanuel (God with us), and the Church in general has recognized him by that name for eighteen hundred years. And in the incoming Millennial Age, when the knowledge of him shall fill the earth, all shall recognize him by his various and significant titles.
In closing, we want to give one more illustration of a prophecy which has had one literal fulfillment, and is about to have its second or higher fulfillment – just as Isaiah's prophecy, above referred to, had one fulfillment in his day and another hundreds of years after at the birth of Jesus. Our illustration is Babylon. It was the chief empire of earth in Jeremiah's day, and his prophecy records in strong language its overthrow. It has been overthrown as foretold; but were it not that we see that there is a mystical, "Babylon the great, the mother of harlots," for whom the severest language applied to literal Babylon is intended, we should wonder indeed.
Those who saw the fulfillment of Jeremiah's prophecy in the fall of the city of Babylon, doubtless concluded that a very strong description had been given of so commonplace an event as the overthrow of a nation; and having seen that one fulfillment, few realize that the real force of the prophecy is to mystic Babylon.
We refer you to but one chapter out of many, in which statements once fulfilled are to have a second and larger fulfillment, just as Isaiah's prophecy of Immanuel had a second and complete fulfillment in Jesus' birth. Compare the following:
Jeremiah 51:6 with Rev. 18:4.
Verse 7 with Rev. 17:4 and 14:8.
Verse 8 with Rev. 14:8 and 18:2,9,11,19.
Verse 9 with Rev. 18:5.
Verse 13 with Rev. 17:1,15.
Verses 48,63,64 with Rev. 18:20,21.
There is nothing strange in the fact that men of the world, people who have not become new creatures (by faith) in Christ Jesus, should doubt the power of God to heal diseases without any visible agency; but that any who have been "chosen through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth," should doubt it, is strange.
We can hardly believe that any who are thus chosen do doubt, either God's power or willingness to heal in answer to the prayer of faith, without any visible remedial agent. Why should the child of God limit the power of Him "in whom we live, and move, and have our being?" But perhaps some who do not doubt the power of God, doubt that He has the will, or that He does in these days heal the sick in answer to the "prayer of faith."
But as it is very desirable to be healed when suffering with diseases, the question naturally arises, "May all be thus healed?" We think we may safely answer, that if all men were thus inspired with faith, they might. By the term "inspired with faith," we mean, to be animated by the Spirit of God with faith.
Confidence or faith in what? In God's word. But, says one, "faith cometh by hearing." Yes, and "hearing by the word of God," and when the Spirit of God speaks the word to us, as it does sometimes, it inspires us with faith.
How shall I then obtain that much to be desired object, inspiration of faith for healing? Find out if possible if it is God's will to heal you. But, says one who is very enthusiastic, surely it is his will to heal us, if we only will to have him, for "whatsoever things ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." (Mark 11:24.) But notice, it is as if he had said, "whatsoever things ye desire when ye pray," see that those desires are in accord with the Spirit and word of God, so that ye may have a foundation to "believe that ye (are entitled to) receive them, and ye shall have them." If one were desiring to offer a petition to some earthly potentate, the proper thing would be to find how it could be done in harmony with His laws; and it is fully as important when offering a petition to the "King of kings."
The apostle says, "Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss." (James 4:3.) This is what Jesus wanted those to whom he was speaking to guard against, viz., careless asking; that whatsoever they desired there should be sufficient ground for believing they would receive, and when such was the case they would receive it. An all-sufficient ground for believing would be to know that it is His will.
The leper offered a very good prayer (Matt. 8:2.) when he said, "Lord, if thou wilt thou canst make me clean." He was inspired with faith as far as his knowledge went, and Jesus graciously supplied the missing link by saying, "I will."
Now, let us suppose we are diseased and suffering. We wish to be healed. But are we sure that we do? The confiding child of God, he who has faith in His wisdom and love says, "If it is His will; He knows better than I do what evils I am exposed to, understands my [R437 : page 8] nature better than I do myself, knows what influence I would exert in whatever condition. If it is His will to rebuke the enemy now, Amen."
But shall I try to find out what His will is in the matter? Certainly, for how can I ask "according to His will" (1 John 5:14,15) unless I do?
Then I will inquire if it is God's will that all diseases, and death even, should be removed now in this age? Manifestly not, for they are the penalty of sin, and the penalty must be executed (Gen. 3:16,19.) All the descendants of Adam must die, all must become acquainted with the exceeding sinfulness of sin by experiencing the sorrowful effects of it. Then only in exceptional cases can it be asked "according to His will." What are those cases then, those exceptions? Under what circumstances may I ask my Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus, to heal or cure? Under the same circumstances that Jesus did.
He was invested with the power of God (John 5:30), and used it to do miracles and thus attest His divine commission and glorify God in the fulfillment of the Scriptures (Matt. 8:17), giving to the world the assurance that in the fulness of time (Eph. 1:10), this same power manifested in the sons of God (Rom. 8:19), complete in him, should restore fallen humanity to its sinless, painless, physically and morally perfect condition.
But does He not heal for any other purpose now? None that we know of. What is done now we understand to be done to attest to divinity and give assurance that He will "show the exceeding riches of His grace in the ages to come." (Eph. 2:7.)
What, attest to divinity now? Yes, divinity operating through the chosen members of the body of Christ. (Eph. 1:22,23.) Then, shall we expect that every member will be invested with the power of healing, and that this is an only evidence of membership in the body? Oh, no, certainly not, that which should be satisfying to us is that the gift of healing is retained in the body.
We have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office, so we being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another." "Having, then, gifts differing according to the grace given unto us." (Rom. 12:4,5,6.) "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. For to one (member) is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom: to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit." (1 Cor. 12:4,8,9.)
But do you ask, "Will my prayer of faith heal the sick, either myself or others"? Yes, your "prayer of faith" would, if you are an individual belonging to that member to whom the gift of healing is given. But if I am not, then how? In that case the Apostle James gives the best advice we know of: "Call for the elders of the church (congregation) and let them pray over him anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up."
As in the physical body we would not make use of the foot, to perform the work of the hand, so now; send for those elders who have the "gift of healing" if you know of any such, if you do not, you might as well not send for any. Those having the "word of knowledge," or the "word of wisdom," or the "discerning of spirits," though imparted "by the same spirit," would be of no service to you for healing, and you should not feel like chiding them for not possessing that gift, or for not being an individual belonging to that member whose office it is to heal.
We have reason to believe that when the Lord is about to do through any member of the body, a supernatural work, he will make it known beforehand to that member through whom the work is to be accomplished. (Amos 3:7.)
"The Spirit of truth will declare to you the coming things." (John 16:13. E.D.) We understand by this and other Scriptures, that the Spirit of truth shows, not only the things of the coming age, referred to in God's Word, but impresses the member or members through whom God would do a work, that he is about to do it; and this is what we mean by being inspired with faith; and it is this inspired prayer, we think, which the Apostle James calls "the prayer of faith."
Let us not fall into the error of thinking that any individual constitutes a complete member of the body of Christ, for it cannot be that there are so many members as there are individuals; but all those having "the same office" constitute one member, and those having another office another member, and so on, and herein we see the significance of the provision made in the promise that two (or more) shall receive what they are agreed in asking (according to His will of course). (Matt. 18:9.) We see the beauty of many members constituting one body, let us not lose sight of the beauty of many individuals constituting one member; as there are in the natural body individual muscles, tendons, nerves, veins, &c., constituting one member. If we should bear this in mind, we should not feel any uneasiness because certain individuals of some member had not the qualities belonging to the individuals of some other member, but would allow the mind to dwell with delight upon the necessary difference between the individuals constituting the members, and the difference between the members themselves, and yet the beautiful oneness of the whole. One individual may sometimes represent a member, but it requires more than one to constitute a member. Therefore we can see that the different individuals in a member should be united in their petitions, and because the greater share of our spiritual wants are in common.
It is no cause for discouragement, that we can see, because more have not the gift of healing, any more than it would be, that one person does not have more than two eyes, or a greater number of any members in the natural body. But it is blessed to know that the body of Christ is thus in connection with the throne of God. It is blessed also to know that there is yet an active member in the body, having "the word of wisdom," and another having "the word of knowledge" imparted by the same Spirit, and so of other gifts and graces, and to each (member) is given the manifestation of the Spirit, for the benefit of all" (the members.) (1 Cor. 12:7 E.D.)
So if one member, or individual of a member, has not a certain gift, for instance, the gift of healing, it may be benefited by some member that has. If one has not the word of knowledge it may be benefited by some member that has, and so on.
Neither should we despise our own gifts, and thus undervalue what God has given us. "If the foot should say because I am not of the hand, I am not of the body. Is it, therefore, not of the body?" We are glad and rejoice that the gifts of this Spirit are still manifested in the body, and among them, "the gifts of healing," but let us not all desire the gifts of healing, nor find fault with those who have them not, for "now hath God set the members, every one of them, in the body as it hath pleased him," and "if they were all one member where were the body?"
So we see the need of a diversity of gifts. Hence "he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ."
This is the work of the members now, "till we all come in (into) the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."
We are sorry to think that any should doubt that the gift of healing is still an office belonging to a member of the body of Christ, and we are somewhat surprised to see that some individuals of that member should think that any, or all of the other members, might, or should, have the same office.
"But you earnestly desire (are we not too apt to?) the more eminent gifts, and yet a much more excellent way I point out to you," (in the thirteenth chapter of 1 Cor.)
It may be that you do not have advantage of attending meetings where special and definite instruction is given upon holiness, it may be there is no one near you to whom you can open your heart fully and freely as to your religious experience, and thus your heart-longings and spiritual problems are kept in your own heart and closet. When you read or hear of the clear instruction and victorious experience that others have you feel like pining. Remember that this very solitude of soul may in the end work out for you a deeper and stronger experience in Divine things. page 8 You are shut away from human help, God compels you to draw very near the original fountain of light; His loving voice penetrates your heart, calling you to be holy; the luke-warm souls about you have little or no interest in that which engrosses your thoughts; yet God's providence has put you in your present locality and sphere; He has His finger upon all your circumstances, and in answer to your tears and prayers He is making your deprivations and perplexities work out for your good. [R437 : page 8]
Do not try to run away from your circumstances; some other place or surroundings may seem enchanting to your mind, and you fancy you could be holy much easier were your lot cast there or yonder. You forget that wherever you fly you must carry your poor self along with you, and those fancied circumstances of easy piety might prove your utter ruin. In your solitariness of soul you are drawn away from human aid that you may more truly be as a little babe with God and learn directly from His Spirit. Oh, lonely seeker after holiness, let nothing deter you; give yourself and your present surroundings utterly into God's hand; spend every hour in doing His will as it is revealed to you, and He can turn your apparent disadvantages into a throne of triumph.