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.
For some years past it has been our custom to meet on the anniversary of the typical "Passover," to commemorate the real Passing over of the Church of the First-Born because of the death, the shedding of the blood of the real Paschal Lamb – Jesus.
Reckoned according to Jewish time, Lord's day, April 22d, is the Passover, the anniversary of Jesus' death. It will be celebrated by the Church here, and, we doubt not, that the twos and threes scattered abroad will suitably commemorate it by meeting and considering Him, while they use the bread and wine which emblemize his broken body and shed blood – the price of our ransom – "shed for the remission of sins."
This work is the common version of the New Testament, with the various readings of the three oldest Greek MSS. at the foot of each page. Its value, in determining the reliability of any disputed passage of Scripture, will be recognized at a glance. The Sinaitic MS. is beyond all question the very oldest and most correct of all MSS. It is the highest authority for the genuineness of every passage which it contains, and its comparison with others more recently written, shows that while our commonly received text is wonderfully free from corruption, it, nevertheless, contains many trifling errors, as well as a few important interpolations. This work contains as well, a history of the finding, etc., of these old MSS.
As promised, we have made arrangements by which we can furnish you with this valuable work at a reduced price. We can mail to you, post-paid, a complete copy, in paper covers, on receipt of 35 cents – at once. We have written to the foreign publishers of a cloth edition, and will be ready to report the price of cloth bound in a month or so more.
His servants ye are to whom ye render service. (Rom. 6:16.) If a man shall say I am a servant of God and a laborer in His vineyard, yet, if he be engaged in sowing error, in teaching traditions of men, etc., he is really serving the adversary – the Devil.
Thus it was with Saul: He verily thought that he did God service in persecuting Christianity, yet, when he came to know better, he found that he was one of Satan's foremost servants in opposing truth and the Lord and His Church.
So with Peter; when he began to dissuade Jesus from complete sacrifice, saying, "Be it far from thee, Lord," Jesus recognized Peter as the agent or servant of Satan, tempting him, and hence replied to him, "Get thee behind me, Satan; for thou savorest not the things that be of God but those that be of men." (Matt. 16:23.)
So with us: let us remember that not every one that saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. How important, then, that we not only feel favorable to the cause of truth – the cause of God – but that we let our good feelings influence our actions and words, so that we shall not merely not oppose truth, but make sure that we are servants of truth, else we may be really servants of error.
Would that all would awake fully to a realization of the importance of guarding every little deed of life, and not only know that they are busily engaged in the vineyard, but make sure that [R451 : page 1] their labor is such as the Master will approve. Beware, then, that Satan does not get possession of your talents, and, under the guise of working for Jesus, really use your powers against the truth. This is the position of many in the nominal systems, called churches, and of many also who have become measurably free from them. Do you speak of the unfolding truths of God's word? – then seek to have it as pure and free from error as possible – only wheat. Do you seek to scatter reading matter to give enlightenment? – then be sure as possible that it is clean seed – not largely mixed with error; for while truth sown will bring forth good fruit, error sown will bring forth very evil fruit. To the extent that we sow truth we are God's servants, and to the extent we spread error, we are the devil's servants. His servants ye are to whom ye render service. Let us keep this in mind – it will double our usefulness as servants of God; for, as seen from the TOWER, many to-day verily think they do God service, who really are opposing God's way, plan and truth; though with Peter we might say, "I wot that through ignorance ye did it." (Acts 3:17.)
Most of our readers have read the pamphlet issued from this office over a year ago, entitled, "The Tabernacle and its Teachings"; but reading on this subject is not enough: it requires study. If all could see the force and meaning of the typical sacrifices for sins, they would be much better able to appreciate the anti-typical sacrifices which really put away sin. If all would fully equip themselves with the armor of God, they would be much better able to withstand all the fiery darts of the adversary, and would be in no danger of having their faith in our ransom overthrown.
Let us, then, urge upon all the absolute necessity of devoting time to the study of those types, which we are able to understand and appreciate, by reason of the light thrown on them by the Apostles' writings. All who have not had the "Tabernacle" should order it. (It is Free.) And be not content with reading it once or twice, but study till you do comprehend the lessons of the Tabernacle. You will find that every feature of the glorious plan of God is very clearly presented in these Tabernacle types; in fact, the minuteness of the portrayal must astonish all. We know of no more strengthening and nourishing spiritual food than is afforded us in the study of these wonderful pictures.
Instead of remarking on the condition of the work, we herewith present to you more than the usual number of letters from various sections, which tend to show the interest and progress of the truth better than we could otherwise express it. These are but a few of many of similar expression:
BRO. RUSSELL: – I am thankful for sample copy of Z.W.T., which I received a few days ago. I am a minister of the M.E. Church. For years I have believed denominationalism was a positive disadvantage to the work of Christ in our own midst, much more so in heathen lands. In fact, I cannot see how they succeed among them at all with so many advocates of such a diversity of creeds. Surely there is a more excellent way. The positions you take are certainly tenable; the elucidations of Scripture are clear and forcible. I think you have struck the key-note, and all the truly pious will hear. Those who like their creeds better than they do their Lord, will surely feel and lament.
DEAR FRIENDS: – I write this morning to thank you for your part in bringing to me precious words of life and encouragement through your publications. Yes, "the truth has become very bitter," though exceeding sweet at first. I am utterly alone here, having nothing for my portion but God's truth. But a rich portion it is, embracing, as it does, a mighty and a perfect Saviour, who is able and graciously willing to break the bands of slavery and set the captive free; yet, as the fires are being kindled around me, I feel that I still need encouragement that my faith, under the heavy trials, may not grow weak or fail. The prospect is, that there will be none with whom I may worship (unless, perhaps, my wife), and that my name will be cast out as evil and my words as a snare. But the Lord hath comforted me; and I write more particularly for your encouragement, that you may the more effectually labor in the blessed work of feeding the hungry, comforting the depressed, setting free the captive, giving light to those sitting in darkness, and saving the perishing, by publishing the glad tidings of salvation to all. My dear wife is yet in darkness, but I hope that, by the tender mercies of God, she, too, may be released from bondage. She says it is "getting light." Let us thank God.
C. T. RUSSELL: – Dear Bro.: – Many thanks for the WATCH TOWER. I am among those who, having come out of Babylon, (confusion) are trying to proclaim the "glad tidings." Called of God to the ministry in my boyhood, studying with that object in view, lack of means, failing health, disappointment, years of doubt and conflict, constant conviction of duty – "Go, preach the word" ringing in my ears day and night – I said, "Lord, I cannot preach in connection with sectarian creeds or churches." O, how at that point I cried to God for light! and, praise his dear name, the light came. Like the breaking of a summer morning, it illuminated my soul. The Bible became a new book to me. In the light of its truths, I saw God, a being worthy of worship. Then came the TOWER and other publications – God sent them – and more and more the way of salvation opened to my understanding. I had been like a lost child, wandering in the forest at night, hearing Father's voice, but not knowing which way to go. Now I can better understand why God has thus led me. The way has been dark, but morning cometh! With the same divine commission, free, thank God, from the mazes of theology and sectarian influence, and with a gospel of which I am NOT ashamed, how the future glows before me! For the light of PRESENT TRUTH, thank God! thank God!!
Believing that the Master has work for me in the great harvest-field of the gospel age, I do desire to work in harmony with him, along the line of "present truth." Should like to become better informed regarding your methods of work, etc., for "in union there is strength."
DEAR SIR AND BROTHER: – I have carefully read and re-read "Food for Thinking Christians," and I have become deeply interested in the soundness of your position. I am a "converted Jewish teacher," and have been laboring independently among my "brethren of the flesh." I certainly believe that "much good" may be done among the people with whom I daily have to do by a judicious circulation of such wonderfully clear Bible truth among them. Please send me, if convenient, "The Tabernacle and its Teachings." I hope soon to introduce publicly these teachings among the people, and will earnestly endeavor to interest them in these clear and telling facts.
May God bless your every effort to propagate Bible truths.
DEAR SIR: – I have just been reading your "Food for Thinking Christians," and am delighted to see therein the mysteries of God's Word so lucidly explained, as to be clearly understood by an average, careful reader. The book was put into my hands last winter as I page 2 passed up a main thoroughfare in the above town, on my way home from work, and just scanned over and put aside to make way for more interesting literature as I then thought. But, the other day, having no other book handy, I picked it up and had not read two pages before I was convinced it was no ordinary book. Indeed, for the last fortnight, I have been absorbed in its contents at every spare moment. Seeing your generous offer to forward a few, if they can be judiciously disposed of, I would request you to kindly forward me a few of this, or "The Tabernacle and its Teaching," which I would like to distribute among my friends.
Thanking you for this first one and any others you may send, I remain, Yours very gratefully,
DEAR BROTHER: – I have received and read the little work, "Food for Thinking Christians." I am perfectly astonished. Can it indeed be true? I am trying to read my Bible as I never have read it before. I have been a Christian forty-one years, and a Baptist all that time. I never heard of such a gospel before. It causes my heart to rejoice in gratitude to the great Father for his love, with my eyes only partially open.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – I now send you another week's work – lists for the TOWER. The interest of the people here at the reading of Z.W.T. is great. I feel like going from county to county the coming year, and scattering "God's truth." As I cannot afford to buy a horse, which I much need, I have to go on foot; but I am no better to go thus than the Lord was. I meet with the best results and the worst together. I have set my face like flint to the world, and shall keep on until I reach the prize (immortality). I expect every issue of our county paper to have some express themselves against the WATCH TOWER; but I have looked in vain so far. More speak well of it than I expected would. I am trying to get one hundred yearly subscribers here soon. I am out of "FOOD," but shall wait until it can be sent me. Some here are so much interested with the reading matter that they send word by mail to have me call and explain the blessed truth more fully. Last night two families met, where they sent for me, and when I opened my mouth the Lord filled it with the restitution of all things. Night before last I was at Bro.__________'s for the first time. He said he was so glad that God's plan was now so plain; that he wished to make my acquaintance, and hear from human lips the blessed truths; and when the time came to part, he said, O, glory to God, we could talk about this until morning and would not get weary. It is good news! To-morrow I have three calls to make upon anxious inquirers for the truth. So, you see, I work both day and night. I had better tell you how it is with me. I am, or was, a Baptist preacher. My name still appears on the list of ministers of their Association. But when I got the "Food," I began to read it, and it was food; and so I kept on eating, and am never done. My name will undoubtedly soon be erased from the Association. My brethren begin to lament my fall; but, glory to God, I rejoice in my rise. Yes, I am much higher than I ever was. I see God's love, and not hatred. Above all you do, Brother Russell, "keep little and humble," and to God be all the praise. I pray for you. Pray that God will open the way that I can scatter the truth more abundantly. With much love and prayer, I am
DEAR BRO.: – "Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness and for his wonderful works to the children of men!" Having been much given to fasting and prayer for divine illumination, and for wisdom to more fully understand the blessed word, God is wonderfully answering our prayers through the Z.W.T. publications. I never shall be able to sufficiently praise God for the light we have received. Three days ago I received five more "Foods," which are being fed to hungry souls, some being sent to Minnesota, Montana, Iowa, &c., to those who will prize them, read and distribute to others. Some we have heard from are bearing glorious fruit. How quickly holy souls receive and believe when they see the precious truth of God! How ashamed we are and abased before God to think we have dishonored his word all these long years; but glory, honor and praise to Him who, in answer to prayer, has enlightened our minds with the truth. Our hearts are full of praise day and night that it has reached our ears. And now we want everybody to know the truth. Let us keep humble and fully consecrated.
BRO. C. T. RUSSELL: – I have once before – last year – received a number of "the Watch Tower," and a tract, "Food for Thinking Christians;" but at that time I could not appreciate the truth and cast them away; now I love it, as far as I can see it and know it.
I had entered the Theological Seminary in this city to prepare myself for the ministry; but to-day I make up my mind to leave it: I feel constrained now as before, to drop Theology and turn to the Word of God alone. I will rather be a simple servant of God than a minister, though that has been my ambition since my youth. God bless your labors.
MY DEAR BROTHER: – You are so overburdened with letters that I scarcely know whether I ought to write you at all. I have been a regular minister for more than thirty years. Ever since I heard Bro. Wm. Miller (I was quite young then) I have been deeply interested in the blessed idea, "Our dear Lord will soon come again." Some years ago, before you commenced the publication of the WATCH TOWER, I was among those who were looking and hoping. And now I want to say my heart is in deep and happy sympathy with the doctrines so ably advocated in the paper you publish. Though when I came to this place but very few here knew or cared anything about these things. I may say the most spiritual-minded of my people have come to hold the "like precious truth," and I freely teach and preach our glorious belief.
The bundle of the October issue you sent me has been distributed to those who seem hungry for the truth. I could easily dispose of more than twice as many more to good advantage. May God most abundantly bless and reward you! For the past few years I have had a great many more calls than I could possibly fill, and often get letters of inquiry to which I can best reply by sending some of your papers or tracts.
Yours in the Master's service,
MR. C. T. RUSSELL: – My Brother in Christ: – I would not have you regret that you published so many good tidings that it caused you to come out in debt. God will surely provide a way out of the difficulty. If you had published less, perhaps I might have been one that would have received less. With this I send my mite as expressive of the deep gratitude I feel; and if I could send the whole amount of the indebtedness, that could not express the thankfulness I feel that I have been brought into a knowledge of the truth. If you could know how low in the slough of despond I was, through sickness and the loss of loved friends, and then know the ecstasy of joy I now feel, you could then realize the value of this truth to me. I cannot describe to you the darkness I was in when I first took up the "Food." I read a little while and then said it could not be true. I laid it aside but only to take it up again, and as at last the beauty and symmetry of God's plan dawned upon me, I was filled with love and praise to him. I have been a professed Christian for many years, but now I feel as if I had all my life been wandering through a rubbish heap, searching for something I hardly knew what. At last I have found it. My treasure that was lost is found, and it is free from rubbish. And, as though to make my joy complete, my loved companion has also been brought to a knowledge of the truth, and, together, we study God's blessed Word and praise His name. Our Bible is a new book. Only last night my husband said, "Well, if I did not know we had the same old family Bible, I should think we had a different translation." But I could not tell you the half if I wrote all day. I can only say,
"Praise God from whom all blessings flow."
We carefully distribute and loan all extra papers and tracts we receive, and pray that they may fall on good ground and bring forth abundantly to the glory of God. May His blessing rest continually on you and your work.
We have received some questions relative to statements made in an article in the December number under the above heading, which it will be a pleasure to answer, that we may remove misapprehension, though we had hoped that the pointed Scriptures referred to would have been sufficient to meet all objections to the position taken. It seems to be thought by some that the position taken by us leaves our destiny, and the destiny of our children, irrevocably in the hands of the enemy, which, of course, would be an awful thought, and as far from the belief of the writer as it evidently is from the teachings of the Scriptures. Our friends who object to the statement "that he (Satan) is our enemy, and that he is the cause of sickness, pain and death, and ought always to have the credit (?) of it" (blame of it), say nothing about the plain statement in Heb. 2:14, to which we referred, and which we think there is no possibility of explaining away.
If he (Satan) "has the power of death," as the Apostle declares, no amount of cavil will change it, and we must seek for its harmony with other Scriptures without changing it, and must conclude, we think, that sickness and pain are also in his power. Now, let us briefly ask our friends to carefully re-read the article referred to, and compare Scripture with Scripture, bearing in mind the following thoughts: The account in Job to which our attention has been called, beginning with the first chapter, is a statement of a conversation between the Lord and Satan. (Job 1:7-12.) The writer of the book of Job, whoever he was, tells us what the LORD said, what Satan said, and what Job (2nd chap., 10th verse) [R452 : page 2] said. Now, Job evidently knew nothing about the conversation between the LORD and Satan, else he would have known that Satan was afflicting him, and that God had consented to let Satan and the world, through succeeding generations, know of his (Job's) integrity and faithfulness. Not knowing of the arrangement to prove him, Job attributes it (the evil) to the Lord, though in his devotion he is assured it is for good. His three friends also attribute it to the LORD, but consider it a judgment upon him, while Job claims his justification before the LORD.
Now, the first thing for us to do, in deciding as to the correctness of the position, is to decide as to who afflicted Job. Did not Satan ask the Lord to? (1st chap., 11th verse.) Did the LORD consent to it? Is the 12th verse of the 1st chapter obscure or plain when it says, "ALL that he hath is in thy power"? Then in the 2d chapter, 4th to the 6th verse, Satan is permitted to lay his hand upon Job's person, but, during this transaction, to spare his life. Now, the conclusion, and the only one we can arrive at from the evidence, is that this whole transaction was for the especial purpose of showing the integrity of Job, and of displaying to the world his faithfulness to God. The conviction was rooted deep in the mind of Job that God was his friend, and would in the end protect him, though evil might for a time seem to prevail over him. In this Job was right, and did "not charge God foolishly."
We conclude, also, that Satan cannot afflict God's children beyond what is the penalty for sin, except by especial permission, and that permission will not be given except where it will result in greater good to the subject and greater glory to God, as was this case with Job.
But the good result is not of Satan, but of God, who "will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able." We understand these Scriptures, in harmony with others, to teach that the LORD, in his general dealings with mankind, has permitted or allowed Satan, the adversary, to be the willing medium through which the penalty of sin should be meted out; that, while he "has the power of death" (Heb. 2:14), it is an under or subordinate power which he has grasped as an usurper – just such a power as Jefferson Davis had during the Rebellion; that in due time God will "destroy him that hath the power of death"; that is, the devil, and deliver them who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
Then our children shall come again from the land of "the enemy." (Jer. 31:16.) "Blessed be the name of the LORD."
But that which is freedom to one, is bondage to another, as men are bound, some to one thing, and some to another. Is there a remedy for this evil, and what is the cause? We are what we are by education, being governed to a greater or less degree by our surroundings; imbibing both truth and error with equal zeal, according to the faith reposed by us in our guides and teachers. And while in many instances these divers opinions may not be of vital importance, it is a question of truth and error, and where two differ, one must be wrong, and sometimes both; we are not accountable for having imbibed errors from our teachers, but we are accountable for rejecting a truth when it is properly presented.
Dear reader, to what age, or class of men, or code of tenets, have you obligated yourself in your religious or irreligious opinions? Wisdom did not die with any particular age or class of men. To-day we have the same Bible, and with it, revisions by the ablest scholars. It is not only our privilege, but absolute duty, to read it; not "as through a glass darkly," where all seems mystical and uncertain, but by the light of the noon-day sun, which is free as the blessed Word itself. No longer is the Bible chained as Luther found it; no longer should our conscience or affections be chained to any creed, written or unwritten. Who is our master? To whom are we bound? Is freedom, then, a myth, a mockery? Can we, with an open Bible before us, shift our religious responsibilities upon our would-be teacher, and sit dreaming under the sound of his monotonous discourse, just as a man will buy a through ticket and take passage on a train for a strange country, consigning himself wholely to the care of the conductor? Is this freedom? Is it "fighting the good fight of faith?" Is this you? Wake up.
"Do the editors of The Independent and the Mirror and any other Congregationalist ministers hold the need of a probation in the future for those who die in infancy? We Presbyterians believe in the salvation of the infant dead, though often charged with the contrary view."
We believe that, if any infants die without having come in this life to an age of moral accountability, they will be held to moral accountability as soon as they begin to distinguish good from evil in the next world. If then they choose good, as we believe they will, with the light of eternity upon them, they will be saved; if they choose evil, they will be lost. If that is future probation, we are willing to have it called so.– The Independent.
O thou of little faith! why dost thou fear?
Didst thou forget that Jesus was so near?
And hast thou thought that thou must walk alone,
Forgetting that His arm was round thee thrown?
Aye, more than this, thou'rt held within His hand,
And 'twas Himself that hath thy trial planned!
There was a need be seen by Eye Divine,
Although, perchance, not visible to thine.
And wherefore would'st thou see? Thou canst not tell
If what thy heart contends for would be well;
Perhaps thy hopes fruition would be vain,
Or prove a life-long discipline of pain!
Hast thou not seen in retrospective life,
That will of God, which caused thee bitterest strife,
Hath turned to sweetness – while the thing He gave
To suit thy will, grew darker than the grave?
There's rest supreme for souls that choose His will;
A blest security from every ill;
The things God chooses for us never fail!
They have their anchorage within the veil.
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder:....Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end: upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth even forever." – Isa. 9:6,7.
This prophesy seems to be a continuation of that in Isa. 7:14 – "A virgin shall conceive and bear a son." And thus we read, Matt. 1:21-23; also, in Luke 1:27-35. "Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: [R453 : page 3] and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end." "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the highest shall overshadow thee, therefore, also, that holy (sinless – undefiled – pure) thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." Peter asserts that David knew "That God swore to him, with an oath, that of the fruit of his loins he would cause one to sit upon his throne." (Acts 2:30. – Diaglott.)
We answer, No! The propounding of this question shows a misunderstanding of the laws of generation which any physiologist or the most illiterate physician should be able to explain. Inheritance and royalty to-day, as always, is reckoned through a mother as well as through a father. Thus it was with Jesus; his mother was a daughter of David – of the seed and loins of David – hence her offspring was not only her son, but through her the son of David.
A good illustration of this principle of inherited royalty through a mother, is furnished in the heir apparent to the throne of Great Britain – the Prince of Wales. He is heir of all that inheritance not through his father, but through his mother, the present queen.
In Jewish genealogies it was customary to reckon lineage through either parent. According to their custom, and indeed, among all civilized people to-day, at marriage the wife becomes a sharer in the interests of the husband; she leaves her father's house and name to share that of her husband. Mary was thus a sharer with Joseph when Jesus was born (though not when he was conceived – Matt. 1:18) hence, the genealogy of Joseph is given in Matt. 1:1-16 – the son of Solomon the son of David.
Another custom of that day was to reckon the genealogy through the wife's ancestry and treat her husband as in her stead the son of her father. (To-day we would call such – a son-in-law.) The seed of Abraham and David is thus traced, through Mary's ancestry, in Luke 3:23; and here Joseph is called the son of Heli, Mary's father, who was the son of Nathan the son of David.
We answer, No! "Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more" thus. (2 Cor. 5:16.)
The inquirer should candidly ask himself, What is meant by the "throne of David"? Does it mean the seat or bench upon which David sat, and which ages since has crumbled into dust? Assuredly not. While the royal seat is often called a throne, yet in reality it only represents the sovereign power and dignity of office, which is really the throne. Thus, we say that Queen Victoria is on the throne of England, referring to her office of power and rulership as the head of the government.
Thus, Christ Jesus shall become, not only the recognized ruler and governor of Israel (over which David's throne extended), but more – over all the nations and families of earth. Hence, we read of "the increase of his government" over that of David; and his government, unlike David's, shall not be disturbed by rebellions, etc., but it shall be at peace and in control of all. In all the increased government he shall have lasting peace, and his government not come to an end forever, (to the age) i.e., until he shall put down all opposition and subdue all things to his will. Then, in the end of the Millennial age, he shall deliver up the kingdom (control) to God, even the Father – presenting to him the justified and perfectly restored of the human race, who thereafter shall be directly amenable to the Father. (See 1 Cor. 15:24,25.)
The dominion or rulership of earth was first bestowed on Adam. Jehovah crowned him with glory and honor and set him over the works of his hands, saying: "HAVE DOMINION over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth" (Gen. 1:28 and Psa. 8:5,6). The father of lies seduced Adam into disobedience and death, and robbed mankind of the DOMINION, and he thus became "the prince (ruler) of this world," making the once rightful monarchs of earth his slaves and emissaries – led captive at his will.
But the great Jehovah had foreseen all this, and was not taken unawares. Although he has permitted the usurpation of earth's dominion for 6000 years, his design is to "set at liberty the captives," breaking the chains of sin and death in which "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together," DESTROYING (in a legal manner) the great captor – death – and him that has the power of death, that is, the Devil. (1 John 3:8; Heb. 2:14.) To this end a Saviour – a Mighty Deliverer – was provided who, in the days of his FLESH, gave his flesh – his human nature – a ransom for the condemned human race, that thus the captives might legally be set free (from sin's wages – death). Having thus redeemed (bought back) the inheritance (earth) and the inheritor (mankind), this mighty Saviour is about to put those whom he bought with his own precious blood into possession of their lost dominion – this will be the salvation of the world. The deliverance only tarries until the appointed limit of evil has been reached, which was necessary to discipline the world and develop a peculiar people for his name, to be the Bride, the Lamb's wife, and, by union with him, joint-heirs of His inheritance.
When thus exalted, Will they be visible to men? We reply, that, to be a ruler, does not imply being seen. The Queen is Empress of India – she rules it through the agents of her government. Millions of her subjects respect and recognize her authority that have never seen her. Could it not be thus with Christ's kingdom? They who will receive Christ's representatives will be receiving him, even as those who received him received the Father who sent him. (Matt. 10:40.)
The word see has a fuller meaning than eyesight. It is to know – to recognize; thus Jesus told the disciples of the Father, "whom no man hath seen nor can see," (1 Tim. 6:16) saying: "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father," and "from henceforth ye know him and have seen him." (John 14:7,9.) The disciples could come to a knowledge – recognition – of the Father by a recognition of his attributes in Jesus. So the world will all come to see or recognize Christ and his government as exemplified through the earthly agents of the kingdom. Thus it is that even the blind can see – recognize; thus we now endure as seeing (recognizing) him who is invisible to our natural eyes.
We have heretofore shown that Jesus is not a glorified man now. If we want to see a glorified man and a sample of what all men may become in the restitution, we must look back to Eden and see Adam before the fall, crowned with glory and honor, and only "a little lower than the angels" (Psa. 8:5); or, look back about 1800 years, and we see another perfect, – sinless, – glorious man: "We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man." (Heb. 2:9.)
He was a glorious man when on earth, having left a higher glory thus to redeem us. But, though put to death in the flesh – a glorious man, – he was raised to life by the Father – a quickening spirit – a spiritual and not a human or fleshly being. [See "FOOD," page 56.] Now he is a new creature, and instead of having the glory of a man, (which is a little lower than the angels) as before, he now is a sharer in the glory of the Divine nature, "Being made so much BETTER than angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they." (Compare Heb. 1:4 and Phil. 2:7-9.)
The present prince of the world – Satan – is a spiritual being; hence his kingdom is invisible, except as it operates through earthly governments and individuals as its agents. So, also, is the new empire, the kingdom of God.
The differences between the two empires we need scarcely mention. One presents temptations, and leads into sin, misery, degradation and death; the other will deliver, enlighten, elevate and restore men to happiness, life and glorious manhood's first estate and dominion.
David's throne or dominion over Israel was a type of Christ's subjugation of the world and his dominion over it. We have seen that the dominion of earth was given to Adam, who was robbed of it by the present usurper – Satan. While it was yet in Satan's control, God separated one small nation from others. Of Israel he made many types. Their Levites typified the justified; their priests typified the little flock or royal priesthood; and Israel itself is often used to represent the world of mankind.
God established his kingdom in the hand of David, first over Judah (type of all fleshly Israel), and secondly over Israel as a whole (type of the whole world); for thus shall it be in the establishment of the real kingdom of God which David's shadowed forth. It will be over Judah first (over Israel according to the flesh), and afterward the whole world shall receive and own him Lord of all.
Many Christians to-day are waiting for Jesus' coming. A similar class lived at the first advent who, nevertheless, when he had come, could not believe it. They received him not, but rejected and slew him, because he came not in accordance with their earthly ideas.
Similar earthly ideas blind the eyes of most Christians now. They, like the Jews, are looking for an earthly king. It seems strange that they cannot realize that, since his resurrection, he is "the express image of the Father's person" – "whom no man hath seen nor can see" – for "God is a Spirit," (spiritual being) and "a spirit hath not flesh and bones." You could not see an angel (spiritual being) without the performance of a miracle to reveal him, though he might be personally present unseen. Then, why claim that Jesus could not be personally present, yet unseen? The difficulty arises from the confused ideas held on the subject of animal (human) and spiritual bodies. "If there is an animal body, there is also a spiritual body," says Paul (1 Cor. 15:44 – Diaglott), and we wish that all could realize this. They are distinct and separate. You cannot have both at the same time; they belong to two different natures. The one body and nature is the earthly; the other, the heavenly, is promised to the overcomers; and the promise of it is properly called a "heavenly calling." (Heb. 3:1.) We do know what the earthly is, while we do not know what a heavenly, or spiritual body, is. "It doth not yet appear what we shall be" – hence it must be very different from our present animal body. (1 Cor. 15:38-44; and 1 John 3:2.) Jesus and angels are spiritual beings, and it is by reason of the difference between their nature and ours that we cannot see them with our natural eyes unless they appear to us (manifest their presence by a miracle.)
It is, or should be, well known to all of our readers, that "ZION'S WATCH TOWER" is a HERALD OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE. We do not mean in any mythical sense; we do not mean that he is present by his spirit or will, as exercised in and over his Church, as throughout the entire age; but we mean that he is present now in the manner and sense promised throughout Scripture; present not without a body, but a spiritual being.
We know of his presence, not by the light of human science, but by the light of God's Word. We know of his presence, not as men recognizing a man, but as new creatures recognizing our Head, our Captain, our Bridegroom. We see him not by human sight, but the eyes of our understanding, being opened and enlightened by the light of our lamp, we see him, whom we love and adore, present to test those who claim to be his, and to select his "faithful," "undefiled," "chaste virgin" – to "make up his jewels": those who are accounted worthy to "follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth," and to be his joint-heirs, glorified together with him "the Bride, the Lamb's wife." (Comp. Rev. 14:4,5 and 21:9.)
He is present, not only to establish his kingdom and glorify his saints, but also to break in pieces and consume all earthly kingdoms, and to bind Satan by overthrowing his power. Thus he will liberate mankind – the Jew first and also the Gentile – and bless all the families of the earth.
None, familiar with Scripture, will question that this is the order of the Lord's work as therein revealed. By a parable he showed that he would first reward his faithful ones, and then proceed to deal with the world. In the establishment of his kingdom he first comes, secondly organizes his own kingdom, thirdly uses his kingdom power to overthrow evil and error and present kingdoms of earth, at the same time beginning the restitution of Israel as a first step in "the restitution of all things spoken."
But while this is plainly the Scriptural order of Christ's work, and while we see Israel's restitution commencing, and the nations on the brink of overthrow, while the nominal Church has been passing through the time of trial and testing, which is rapidly sifting out the true and ripe wheat, gathering the jewels – the virgin of Christ – yet many are hoping that Jesus will come soon. "Ye fools and blind," can ye not discern his presence by these things transpiring all around you? These are the signs (evidences, indications) of the Son of man. They indicate that he has come and has already commenced his work.
Though the signs of the times add increased light, yet, by the light of the Word, we discerned his presence years [R454 : page 4] before any of these outward signs corroborated its teachings. Thank God that we have a more sure word of prophecy (surer even than these outward signs), whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a lamp that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn. (2 Pet. 1:19.)
"For what was impossible for the Law in that it was weak through the flesh, God having sent his own Son in a form of the flesh of sin – even by an offering for sin – condemned sin in the flesh; so that the righteousness of the Law may be fulfilled by us who are walking, not according to flesh, but according to spirit." – ROM. 8:3 – Diaglott.
The common version of this text is frequently misconstrued by some. It reads: "God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh," etc. Some, who have a theory to support, would have us understand this – God sent his Son in the sinful likeness of flesh – and have us draw the inference that he took a sinful nature and was with us under the same condemnation. That this is not the teaching of the Apostle should be obvious to every intelligent and candid reader. The imperfections of mind and body, now so common to our race, are the direct traces and marks of either personal or inherited sin; while we know that Jesus had neither. In him was no sin, hence no evidence or marks of it.
The likeness (or form) of sinful flesh simply means not angelic or divine, but the human form. Among the imperfect representatives of human likeness to-day there is much variety; there are many degrees of imperfection; the perfect human being is the standard; yet all are said to have the same likeness as Adam, who was perfect before sin. Adam had the human likeness – the same likeness that sinful flesh yet has: hence Jesus, also, as a perfect man, had the same likeness or form as sinful flesh – the human.
Jesus experienced the woes and sufferings of humanity without sharing in the imperfections and sins. He suffered for and with those around him, and made use of his own vitality in healing their diseases. Doubtless, on many an occasion, it might have been recorded, as in Mark 5:30; Luke 6:19 and 8:46, that the power or virtue which healed the sick "went out of him." Thus, he "himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses." (Matt. 8:17.) It is the most refined and perfect organisms which can suffer most.
To appreciate the drift and force of the Apostle's teaching in this passage, we must remember that he is explaining the value and use of the Law given to Israel, through Moses, and its relation to Christians. He handles it fully, for he writes to those who know the Law. (Chap. 7:1.)
Glancing back we find his argument to be that the slightest command of God is a Law, and the smallest violation of Law is sin; and the wages of the smallest sin is death – the extinction of existence. (Ch. 6:23.) Thus, it will be seen, that to be imperfect in the smallest degree meant inability to keep God's Law, which meant sin and its punishment. Hence only one man was tried, and that on only one point of Law. When he disobeyed in a very small thing – his was not a flagrant crime – he was a violator of Law – a sinner – under condemnation of death. All his offspring would, of course, partake of his imperfection, sin and death. (Ch. 5:18.)
This fact of inherited sin and imperfection, and the necessity of an atoning sacrifice to God on account of it, and as a clearing from its condemnation and punishment, is recognized in every sacrifice offered by the Patriarchs.
But mankind did not really recognize the depth of degradation into which they had been plunged by sin working in their nature; and lest any should say, Would that Jehovah would clear me from the guilt of Adam's sin, for then would I show myself approved unto God worthy of life; therefore God gave an exhibition of the perfection of His Law, and showed before angels and men that it is impossible for any imperfect being to keep a perfect Law. He gave Israel a typical "Day of Atonement," and a typical justification from Adamic sin, by typical sacrifices for sin, which could never (really) take away sin; and then, at the hands of Moses, he delivered to them the Law at Sinai, declaring that "whosoever doeth these things shall live" – by reason of their obedience would never die. (Chap. 10:5; Gal. 3:12; Lev. 18:5.) Israel was jubilant, and eagerly promised – "All that the Lord hath spoken we will do." (Exod. 19:7,8.)
But, alas, for poor humanity's self-confidence; that which they thought would be a means of gaining life, was found to emphatically condemn all under it to death, as transgressors unworthy of life. (Chap. 7:10-13.) As throughout that Jewish age, hundreds and thousands attempted to keep the "Law ordained unto life," but were unable, it proved either one of two things: either that the man was as God claimed, unable to help himself back to [R455 : page 4] perfection, even if justified from Adam's sin, or else that the Law given was too severe.
Paul's argument is to show that the Law was not too severe. He claims that the Law is holy – the commandments of the Lord holy, and just, and good for man: that the trouble is that man is imperfect – depraved – sold under (into slavery to) sin by his forefather's transgression. (Ch. 7:12-18.) The question was, then, Would God modify his just, holy and good Law, so as to excuse a certain amount of sin, and let those live who were imperfect? We answer, No; this would have been a violation by God of his own Law – such a Law would have been imperfect – such a course would have been to justify sin instead of justifying the sinner from the sin. And thus Paul argues, "If a Law could have been given which would have given life" back to man, then undoubtedly God would have provided man with that Law, and not have sent his Son to be our ransom and the propitiation for our sins. (See Gal. 3:21.) But God is the author of only right and perfect Laws. He cannot look upon sin with any degree of allowance; hence the Law still remains, and will to all eternity – "The soul (being) that sinneth it shall die" – be cut off from life.
But, seeing how many had tried to justify themselves before God, by attempting to keep His Law, and, realizing that some of these were indeed excellent men, it would not be surprising if men should feel that their natural depravity was not so very great, and surely the Law must be too severe. To give man unquestionable proof of the justness of his Law, and the possibility of a perfect man's keeping it, was a part of Jehovah's plan in connection with the redemption of sinners.
Hence, when Jesus came to redeem men, he was tempted (tested) in all points – by the world, the flesh and the devil. He was born under the same Law which had been condemning others for over 1,800 years. And the fact that he as a man – a perfect man – did keep the perfect Law, is a part of the proof Jehovah offers us that the Law was not too severe, but the fault had been that all were under the curse – imperfect – and therefore could not keep it.
This is exactly Paul's argument where our text is found. Jesus' life, instead of proving that the Law is imperfect, and that, therefore, God should cast it aside, proved the very contrary – it set the seal or mark of approval and righteousness to the Law, and of condemnation to the race of sinners. But notice, Jesus not only sanctioned the Law and met its requirements by his own obedience to it; but more, he met its requirements upon the condemned race by giving himself (as a spotless human being) a ransom for them. Thus he purchased the Law's claims upon the entire race. And it is elsewhere declared to be his plan – in due time to assume control of his "purchased possession," and to subdue and restore whosoever will of the race to the original perfection, where they shall be able to keep God's perfect Law perfectly, and have a right to life as a result. When he shall have done this, he shall deliver up the kingdom (dominion) to God, even the Father.
Now, note the fullness and power of our text. What was impossible for the Law [to do for us, viz., give us a right to life] in that it was [powerless, owing to the weakness and imperfection of our sin-stricken flesh,] God accomplished in another way – not by giving another, an imperfect Law, but, on the contrary, proving the Law given to be just and holy – by sending his Son in a human form – the same form as that of the sinners who had been condemned – a second MAN. He not only proved the Law to be just and good, but then, by an offering FOR our sins, condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteousness of the Law may be fulfilled in us [who accept of his sacrifice for our sins,] who walk not after [in pursuit of] the flesh, but after [in pursuit of] the spirit [meaning or intent] of the Law.
Those who accept of Christ's teachings and follow him in entire consecration of every power and talent to God's service, become infused with the same desire to do the will of their Father in heaven. These have the same mind as Jesus – a mind, or will, to sacrifice self in the carrying out of God's plans – a spirit, or mind, dead to the praises and scoffs, the hopes and fears of the world, but alive and active to the heavenly smiles or frowns, prizes or losses.
The spirit or mind of Christ thus received, bears fruit in every action, word and thought; some of which are mentioned by Paul – love, joy, peace, gentleness, meekness, patience, godliness (God-like-ness).
These graces, these fruits grow gradually – the rapidity of the growth depending upon the nature of the soil, the purity of the seed, (example followed) and the amount of moisture and sunlight of truth (the Word) with which the ground and seed are supplied.
If we would have increase of the spirit of Christ and bear much fruit, how important that we be particular to have pure seed – following only our Master – and that we keep out from the shadow and shelter of all human creeds and let the sunlight of heaven and the refreshing dew of truth into our hearts, by lifting them to heaven for these, as do the flowers for the natural. Such shall receive from the heavenly store – the Word.
This continual and increasing growth of the fruits is not only expressed by Jesus as above, but the Apostles urge the "increase of the fruits of your righteousness," and that we be "filled with the fruits of righteousness." (2 Cor. 9:10; Phil. 1:11.)
As it is natural for a good tree to bring forth good fruits; so all who have received really of the spirit of Christ will ultimately show it. It was Jesus who said, "By their fruits ye shall know them."
Christianity is much misunderstood to-day, and many that bear thistles are members of the nominal Church and thus pretend to be members of the "true Vine"; but by their fruits ye shall know them. "If any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his." (Rom. 8:9.) This is a searching test for all; let us each apply it to ourselves. Do I, as Jesus, "do not mine own will," but God's? Do I seek to please not myself, nor my fellows, but God only? Do I present myself daily and hourly a living sacrifice, for right and truth, and in just the way God's Word (not my feeling) directs? If so, this is Christ in me, and is a good basis for the "hope of glory" promised to those who walk in his footprints.
This spirit of Christ – or renewed mind – is the anointing which ye have received, and it is an evidence to you and to others that your consecration is complete; that you are begotten to the higher (divine) nature which God has promised to those who so walk in the Spirit; that you are members of the Christ (the anointed body, of which Jesus is the head).
So, then, Christ is manifest in your mortal body. (2 Cor. 4:11.) When the world sees you it sees a member of the Christ, not in glory, but in the flesh; and in us as in our Head, only to a less degree, it is still true – God is manifest in the flesh. (1 Tim. 3:16.)
Thus, for "me to live is Christ" (Phil. 1:21). In this sense, Christ in the flesh is still in the world as its teacher and reprover – illustrating the word and love of God. All the body following the Leader have been "despised and rejected of men." There is no beauty in any of them that they should be desired of the world. Soon, when manifested with the Head, as the agency for blessing the world, they will desire them. They desire deliverance from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of sons of God, and will soon come to know him whom, for 1800 years, they ignorantly rejected, thinking him weak and powerless. Then, "The Desire of all nations shall come" into power and glory for their deliverance.
During all the ages we find it true, and an evidence that we are in the Leader's footsteps, that the world loveth us not. Jesus said, "Marvel not if the world hate you: ye know that it hated me before it hated you." "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own." "In the world ye shall have tribulation." And "Whosoever will live godly shall suffer persecution."
Any who think they are being carried to glory on "flowery beds of ease," should awake to the fact that our Master trod the narrow, thorny way. Now is not the time to glory in ease in the lap of the world, but a time to "fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ."
To him that overcometh – self, ease, the world – even unto death,
"Shall be the victor's crown."
"Our light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen."
Our afflictions do not work out for us this glory, because we are continually looking at our business, our family, the world and its pleasures, and the many other things the enemy places about us, on purpose to keep us from looking at the things unseen by mortal eyes. When our Father permits the enemy to try us by unusual suffering, whether in mind or body, then we are compelled to cease our anxious chase after the things seen. When fever racks our brain, and Satan assaults us with doubt as to the character of our living Father, then our spirits are drawn by unusual power to cry out: Lord save from the evil – raise thy standard against him who hindereth me.
What are these unseen things we are to look at, which have such charming power, such a quieting and peaceful influence over the whole man? – "Looking unto Jesus" the author and finisher of our faith. This passage answers the question. He is unseen by the man dead in trespasses and sins, but clear to the eye of the new creature, begotten by God through the operation of the Holy Spirit. Wonderful begottenment – life in death – growing daily by looking at the things unseen.
Lord Jesus, whom have we in heaven but thee, and there is none on earth we desire beside thee. Sweet belief. We may lay all our loves, all our gifts, at the feet of such a giver, and worship Him. Looking at the things he does for us compensates even now for all the suffering we endure. We look at Him and think of his declaration: "Where I am, ye may be also." He is our Prophet. "If I be lifted up I will draw all men unto me."
I think of him thus as my High Priest, not taking the blood of others, but presenting his own life as a sacrifice – a ransom – a propitiation – which [R456 : page 5] unites fallen man with heaven – a glorified being, unblamable, complete, wanting nothing, and perfectly holy, in the presence of our Father.
I think of Him as King, having left our Father's throne, and about to sit on his own throne, conducting us, his bride, to share in regal glory, all the Father hath given him, from the rising of the sun to the setting of the same.
And surely every earthly good, every earthly love, fades into insignificance while WE look thus at the things unseen by mortal powers, and we sigh for the hours to speed on to that One, so near, when we shall see Him as He is, and be satisfied.
"We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; – and sanctified affliction, in late serious sickness, has enabled us to write our testimony with that of our Bro. Sunderlin, to wit: Our Father ordered it for good, while Satan meant it for evil. "Looking unto Jesus," we rejoice in tribulation, when it worketh such weights of glory.
"For it became him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." – Heb. 2:10.
Jesus was not made perfect as a man; for as such he was perfect, else he could not have been our ransom. One imperfect being could not redeem other imperfect beings. As shown in the typical sacrifices for sin under the law, the sacrifice must be without blemish. So, too, with the antitype – the real sin-offering – the Lamb of God, that took away the sin of the world, was perfect – without a single blemish – "a lamb without spot."
God only created two men – the first man Adam; and the second man, the Lord from heaven – the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all. Both men were perfect. The first lost his perfection through disobedience, and involved his race in ruin. The second retained his perfection and right to life by obedience – but laid down or sacrificed those rights as a ransom for the life of the first man and his race – thus justifying the Adamic race to the human life and perfection lost.
To suppose imperfection in Jesus, as a man, is to suppose sin in him, because imperfections are marks of sin. And, on the contrary, if he was perfect as a man, he could not be made perfect as a man; hence, we say, he was not thus perfected.
To appreciate how he was perfected, we must recognize the fact that there are various planes of being in God's universe, and perfection on each plane. Thus, there is a perfection of the Divine nature, another perfection of the angelic nature, another of the human nature, another of the dog's nature, and another of the fish, etc. These various natures are sometimes divided into two general classes: All earthly natures are called "animal," though each animal has a perfection of its own; all heavenly natures are called spiritual, though each grade of spiritual being has a perfection of its own.
The lowest grade of spiritual beings known to us – angels – is superior to the highest grade of earthly beings – man. (Psalm 8:5.) The highest plane of spiritual existence – the Divine nature – is superior to all other grades of spiritual nature, as the highest grade of animal nature – the human – is superior to other animal or earthly natures. (See "Food" – page 134.)
Jesus, before he became a man, was a spiritual being, of a nature superior to angels, because, when he was about to humble himself and lay aside his glory to become man's ransom, "he took not on him the nature of angels," but came still lower, and "was found in fashion as a man." We know, too, that though he had "a form of God" (a spiritual form), yet he could not have possessed the Divine nature then, because the divine or immortal nature is deathless – death-proof. It is an impossibility for an immortal being to die. Jehovah cannot die, and we know, therefore, that had Jesus been a partaker of that nature he need not have come into the world to die for our sins; for, if immortal, the most he could have done would have been to pretend to die and pretend to be raised to life again. Such an idea would be charging Jehovah and our Lord with hypocrisy and deception.
The divine nature was part of the reward for our Lord's sacrifice. His gaining the divine nature depended on the sacrificing of his human nature. As the sacrificing of the human rights and privileges progressed, his right to the divine was increased; when the sacrifice ended at Calvary, the full right to the divine nature was secured. To this agree the words of the Apostle: He was obedient even unto death – "Wherefore, God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name above every name." (Phil. 2:9.) Here we see the perfecting – it was the divine nature being perfected by the obedience of the already perfect human nature. See also, "Jesus Made Perfect" – Z.W.T., Jan., 1882, page 3.
Let us add, that such, also, is the perfecting now in progress in the "Church which is his body." We are called in him, as joint-heirs, to share this high calling – the divine nature. (2 Pet. 1:4.) We seek not and expect not the perfecting of the human nature, but, realizing its justification by our ransom price – Jesus – we sacrifice it to obtain the other: We are new creatures in Christ Jesus, and, as such, labor and wait for that divine – immortal – perfection promised us, when we shall be like him who is "the express image of the Father's person."
DEAR BROTHER IN CHRIST: – I presume you have but little time to read letters of a personal character. I will, therefore, beg pardon for this intrusion and ask your attention for a few moments. First of all, many thanks for the TOWER. Personally, you are unknown to me, yet known as I see you in your words – asking our Lord daily to guide your pen and lead you by His Spirit into all truth.
About two years ago I was lead to seek earnestly for a higher type of Christian life. I sought, through study of His Word, asking for the teachings of the Holy Spirit. I was not disappointed. When the "Food" was distributed in Erie, I found a copy which had been thrown aside, and, I bless God, it met the exact wants of my soul. The book harmonized with views held for years, but held under proscription. Yet I have still maintained my Church relations.
This brings me to the point: Shall those whom God thus enlightens, and brings out of the bondage of creeds and confessions, remain in these cold, lifeless organizations? While in the [R457 : page 5] Church we must study its peace and harmony – here is the rub; if these advance views are touched, a ripple is started which runs through the body, and Bro. A. is disturbed and Sister B. is disquieted. Finally it gets to the preacher's ears; he thinks he sees the wolf coming, so he takes his gun (discipline of his Church) and starts out to quiet the restless one. All this can be borne, but what is duty? Shall we remain and drop down to their level; for as sure as face answereth to face in water, just so sure "like priest like people."
But, says one, The Church is a mighty power for good in the world, stand by her. Yes, but consider God's dealings with the Jews – the charge of Moses and Joshua – that the perpetuity of the Jewish nation was conditioned upon its devotion to God. They forsook Him and He abandoned them. Other cases might be cited from His Word, but space forbids. Evidences of national decay were apparent for years with the Jews; and in the Church now, certainly if anything is visible it is spiritual dearth – decay – a pale, sickly light shed from a lamp obscured by creeds and catechisms, devoid of spirit and power. It is a fact that the Church is falling off in membership, to say nothing of spirituality. If I were to say she has a name to live and is dead, would it be too strong? Now, shall the man or woman whose heart God has aroused to leave past experiences, and press forward after new attainments in the divine life, be entangled and tied to this dead body in hope of awakening it to life? Or shall he step out into the liberty of a son of God? Please give me your opinion, and may the Spirit direct your words.
First, we would say, that we would never have any feel that their correspondence is an intrusion. Though time will not permit prompt replies, and some must remain unanswered personally, every letter is carefully read in order that we may know the necessities of our fellow-travelers in this difficult way, and, by the grace of God, be enabled to reach a helping hand where most needed. The assurance, also, of your prayers and sympathies, and that the truth is building you up and making you free, as well as the many suggestions and queries received, which send us to dig deeper into the wonderful mine of truth – all working together – tend to strengthen and cheer us and to edify the Church. Therefore, let us hear from you, but let love and patience have their perfect work.
In answer to the above question we would say: To all who realize the Babylon (confusion) condition of the nominal Church, give earnest heed to the words of our glorified Lord, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." (Rev. 18:4.)
Rev. 3:15-17 is an exact pen picture of this last phase of the Gospel Church. Their lukewarm condition is the most undesirable, because most dangerous. If the mass of the nominal church were "hot" – full of warm and loving devotion to God – she would be a delight to the Lord and a power in the world. Or, if she were "cold" – making no pretensions whatever to be exponents of his truth – she would not dishonor and misrepresent him. But, alas! she is lukewarm, and therefore she is spued out of his mouth.
Some tell us they cannot understand how the organizations formed by such good men as Wesley, Calvin, Luther, Knox and others can be properly considered parts of Babylon. "Were these not earnest and devoted followers of the Master?" Yes, we reply, we esteem all those our brethren who fearlessly stemmed the tide of popular opinion and braved persecution on every hand for the truth's sake. We believe they received and walked in the light due in their day. And so far as we are able to judge, the Reformers as well as many in humbler stations, whose names have not come down to us, were overcomers – part of the "little flock" whose names are written in heaven. But in the vast organizations who now call themselves their followers, how much do we find of their spirit of sacrifice, of love of truth, of humility and separation from the world? Alas, it takes little discernment to see that only a form of godliness remains.
We call attention to this fact as foretold in our Lord's Revelation to John (Chaps 2 and 3.) Notice, that to every stage of the Church except the last, the Master has some word of commendation, but in this – the Laodicean stage – he finds nothing to commend. Do they point to their mighty works? Yes, says the Lord, "I know thy works;" nevertheless, "I will spue thee out of my mouth." They say they are "rich and increased in goods and have need of nothing," and know not that they are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked." She is counseled to "buy" (at the expense of reputation and worldly interests) "gold tried in the fire" (divine treasure) "and white raiment," (justification by an intelligent faith in Christ as the Redeemer) and to anoint her eyes with eyesalve (the spirit of humility and teachableness) that she may see. And he says, "Behold I stand at the door and knock:" (I am present) "If any man" (in this great system so completely joined to the world and overcome by "the abundance of her delicacies") "hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him and sup with him and he with me."
Notice, that this is an individual matter now. It is not the church nominal which is to be fed; they are not hungry. But it is the individual Christians of the true Church, the eyes of whose understanding have been opened by the eyesalve. Such only hear – recognize the knock which indicates the Master's presence. Such only open to him, and such only he feeds.
Though, as a system, the nominal Church is cast out as was her type, the Jewish Church, in the harvest of their age (Matt. 23:38), here as there our Lord recognizes the true wheat which he has permitted to grow together with the tares until now. (Matt. 13:30.) And just as surely as we are in the harvest, so surely is separation now due and is taking place. The command, "Come out of her," was not given until after the announcement, "Babylon is fallen."
Look again at Babylon. As you suggest, if you remain there you must submit to its fetters. Your very presence binds your influence to its systems. You dare not declare the whole counsel of God, lest it condemn them and call you out from among them. But this is just what he would have us do – "Declare the whole counsel of God," and "come out from among them and be separate." (2 Cor. 6:14-18.)
When our Lord says, "Come out of her, my people," who are we, that we should enter our protest, and say, It is expedient for the good of others that we should stay in? We cannot stay in after we have heard the Master's voice calling us out, without partaking of her sins – specially that one of rejecting His truth. It is not enough that we come out in spirit, while personally we remain there, giving it our influence and support. Obedience to his command, both in spirit and in letter, is well pleasing in his sight. And not only so, but prompt obedience. We note our Brother Paul's noble example in this respect: "Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood, but went," etc.
It would be useless, indeed, to attempt to prop an institution which God has doomed to destruction. And just as surely as we now see the marked evidences of her spiritual dearth and decay, so surely shall Babylon fall into utter ruin. Let us rather trust the Lord's judgment as to expediency, and boldly step out into "the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free."
"Trusting him we cannot stray,You were right in answering we belong to the Church of Christ. His espoused virgin Church should own no other name than his.
We can never, never lose our way."
One brother says, I don't exactly see how you can get along and accomplish good without organization. Why, our dear friends, we have the most complete organization, in perfect working order. It is fully under the direction of our present Lord and Head. (See article, "The Ecclesia" in October issue.) And it is accomplishing grand results. Saints are being cheered, strengthened and inspired with new zeal in running the heavenly race and in proclaiming the good tidings; thousands of Christians are searching the Word of God as never before. Helps to Bible study are in increasing demand. Many infidels are looking with astonishment at the book they so long discarded and saying, After all it must be true. And already the light is beginning to shine out on the world, and many are saying, This God of love shall have our love and service in return.
"Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face."
"His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour:
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower."
Your sister in patient waiting,
A. Angels are spiritual bodies; but "unto which of the angels said God at any time, Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee?" (Heb. 1:5.) But "when he bringeth the first-born (Jesus) into the world (first-born from the dead, to the divine nature, at his resurrection) he saith, "Let all the angels of God worship him" – render the homage due to his nature and office. (Heb. 1:5,6.) He became a partaker of the divine nature, and it is fitting that all other forms of life should worship divinity. "God hath highly exalted him (Jesus) and given him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven (heavenly beings – angels) and things in earth, (men) and things under the earth, (the dead when raised to life) and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (master, ruler) to the glory of God the Father." (Phil. 2:9-11.) From 1 Cor. 15:40,41 we learn that there are different degrees of glory on the celestial, or spiritual plane, illustrated by sun, moon, and different stars, just as verse 39 calls attention to the fact there are different degrees of glory on the terrestrial, or earthly plane.
Though both companies will be spiritual beings, the Bride is joint-heir with her Lord, who is "appointed heir of all things; being made so much better than the angels, (other spiritual beings), as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they." (Heb. 1:2-4.) Thus, though the "great company" will be the companions of the Bride, spiritual beings, (Psa. 45:14; Rev. 7:15) there will be a very great difference in the degrees of glory. (See "Food," page 134 and 121.)
A. The Bride, as we have seen, is a company composed of many members. Paul says, "Ye are the body of Christ and members in particular"; and again, "Ye are members one of another"; and one is not to say to another, I have no need of you: The foot member must minister to the hand and the hand to the foot, and all, by a mutual and vital union of spirit with the Head, are to build each other up. (Jude, verse 20.) All the members have one aim, one joyful hope, one work of preparation – adorning for the marriage. She is to put on the spotless robe of Christ's righteousness (imputed to her by faith in the ransom) and to keep the same "unspotted from the world." And not only so, but she is to adorn it with fine "needle work." (Psa. 45:14.) The Christ-like character is to be wrought out in her life. As Paul expresses it, she is to "add to her faith" the various Christian graces. We must help one another in this important work.
Each member has a work to do in the making ready: Some may travel and preach, some may write, some publish the grace of God by printing it, some may teach more privately, some may publish it by furnishing of the Lord's funds entrusted to their care, some may seek out the "meek" (see Isa. 61:1) and put words in their ears and reading into their hands, and the work of all is thus to build up yourselves in the most holy faith. It is thus that the "Bride makes herself ready." It was by the faithfulness of some of the other members that these "glad tidings" ever reached your ears and gladdened and sanctified your heart; and now you, if a member of that company, are doing what you can to "make ready" others. To be ready to help each other, we must diligently hearken and incline our ear to the word of truth, forget the world and worldly associations. (Psa. 45:10.) "So shall the King greatly desire thy beauty; for he is thy Lord." (verse 11.)
Q. Please explain 1 Pet. 3:19,20. I have not gotten clearly in mind what becomes of the spirits of men from death until the resurrection.
A. (By Bro. Smith.) Does not the Scripture you quote state the condition of "spirits in prison"? The first question that would naturally occur, in examining this passage, would be, When did Christ preach to them? We find the answer in verse 20: "When once the patience of God waited in the days of Noah." Gen. 6:3 refers to Noah's days: "The Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man." It is not unreasonable, then, to say he was at that time striving with man.
None knew better than Jesus that Scripture: "There is no knowledge nor device in the grave;" hence he would never go there to preach. Isa. 42:7; 49:9 and 61:1 state that Christ is to deliver death's prisoners. He did not do so at his first advent (excepting the temporary deliverance of Lazarus and a few others), but will in due time set at liberty all the captives and open the prison doors of hades (the tomb) to all captives.
Our understanding, then, of 1 Pet. 3:19,20 is this: Those of Noah's day who were disobedient, and to whom Christ preached by Noah, are NOW in prison. If any Scripture teaches otherwise, we shall be glad to have our attention called to it.
Q. "Would not an earnest, aggressive organization (or sect), built upon scriptural lines, be the best means of spreading and publishing the real Good Tidings? We must have fellowship and sympathy. Union is strength. It is not the skirmishers that win the battle, but the disciplined and solid battalions."
A. We believe that a visible organization, and the adopting of some particular name, would tend to increase our numbers and make us appear more respectable in the estimation of the world. The natural man can see that a visibly organized body, with a definite purpose, is a thing of more or less power; therefore, they esteem the various organizations, from which we have come out, in obedience to the Master's call. But the natural man cannot understand how a company of people, with no organization which they can see, is ever going to accomplish anything. As they look upon us, they regard us simply as a few scattered skirmishers – a "peculiar people" – with very peculiar ideas and hopes, but not worthy of special notice.
But, though it is impossible for the natural man to see our organization, because he cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God, we trust that you can see that the true Church is most effectually organized, and in the best possible working order. (See the plan of our organization, as stated in October issue, under the caption "The Ekklesia.") The Apostle Paul urges all to unity of faith and purpose (Phil. 3:15,16 – Diaglott.) All led by the same Spirit may and do come to a knowledge of the same truth. Under our Captain, all the truly sanctified, however few or far separated in person, are closely united by the Spirit of Christ, in faith, hope and love; and, in following the Master's command, are moving in solid battalions for the accomplishment of his purposes. But, bear in mind, God is not dependent upon numbers (See Judges 7, as an illustration).
Recognizing this organization, which is of the Spirit, and desiring no assimilation whatever with the worldly, who cannot see or understand it, we are quite willing to bear the reproach of a peculiar people. We always refuse to be called by any other name than that of our Head – Christians – continually claiming that their can be no division among those continually led by his Spirit and example as made known through his Word.
We disown none of our Lord's dear children. The weakest child of the household of faith (in Christ, our Redeemer) we gladly recognize as our brother. Some, in ignorance of their privilege of the communion of saints, are mixed with the various worldly organizations, to their great detriment. Though we cannot follow them there, we gladly welcome them when they come among us. Wherever we have hope of finding any such, in the various nominal Churches, etc., we tell them the "good tidings of great joy," and, by word and example, say, "Come out from among them (the worldly, though professing Christians) and be ye separate." How could we deliver this message if we were not obeying it? We have unbounded faith in our Captain; and this perfect organization, invisible to the world, marches on to certain and glorious victory.
"From victory unto victory,
His army he shall lead;
'Till every foe is vanquished,
And Christ is Lord indeed."
MY DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: I am hungry, not, however, for the carnal things of this life – for I have no pleasure in these now and rejoice not in them – but rejoice in the truth, for I have tasted of the Good Word of God and have found it rich food. Oh, so rich that I cannot but hunger for more! and our beloved Father continues to give me the blessing promised to those that "hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled." Join me in saying, Glory to his name, for he hath revealed unto us, who are not the great men nor the wise men of this world, his purposes in Christ, hid from the ages, but now made manifest unto us who are living in the end of this Gospel age. To him be the glory and the honor for the power of that grace given unto me, to "Comprehend, with all saints, what is the length and breadth, and know the love of God which passeth all knowledge," and, by the power of his grace working in me, every thought and every action of my being is being wrought on and brought into subjection to his will – for "Whatever is not of faith is sin."
He has captivated my being, and day and night (when awake) I adore and bless him, and rejoice in the hope set before me, which is so supremely grand that I can now thank God that I was ever born, and that it is my privilege to walk in the footsteps of my Lord Jesus, that I may be partaker with him in bringing the world into unison with the mind of our God. And, by the strength of the grace given unto me, I am ready to bear all things that I may attain to that grace (favor) that shall be brought unto us at the revelation of our Lord Jesus; for "his reward is with him (for us who shall reign with him) and his work before him;" (Isaiah 60:10) "for all the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord." (Psa. 22:27.)
I not only constantly pray, but earnestly seek, that the will of God may be wrought in me to the uttermost, that his name may be glorified in me, and he does graciously grant unto me opportunities of manifesting his name, by unfolding these beautiful truths that we have been feeding on for sometime past, to those who have an ear to hear; and the word is received gladly by those who intimate, by their manner or express themselves in words, as desirous of receiving more instruction in these good things "God hath revealed... unto us by his Spirit;...yea, the deep things of God" (1 Cor. 2:10) – The eyes of our understanding being enlightened ...(we) know what is the hope of our calling. (Eph. 1:18.) And I "lay aside every weight"... and "run with patience the race set before me;" and I seek not the praise of men like myself, but I do earnestly desire the approval of the incorruptible God, and I know that I have passed from death (in Adam) unto life, (in Christ), because I love the brethren" with an unfeigned love: Beholding my Lord in his Word, I am being "changed into the same image;" "I shall be satisfied when I awake in his likeness;" when I shall have received the end of my faith, the salvation of my soul (being). Unto him that hath washed me be the glory and the honor and dominion forever.
The question as to the inspiration of the Bible is not a question raised by me. It is a question that is already up for discussion through the length and breadth of this land. What are we to do with this book? How are we to regard it? Is it the best book in the world, or the worst? Is it a true book, or is it a false one? Is it God's book, or is it man's book?
Over and over again this Book says, "Hear ye the word of the Lord." Now, the message is the word of the Lord, or it is a lie. It is the word of the Lord, as it professes to be, or else it is a cheat, a swindle, a humbug, a fraud. [R459 : page 6]
But while you say, "He was simply one of many remarkable men," He says, "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world;" and again, "I leave the world, and go to the Father." He says, "O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." Now, do you say he was a good man and yet he told lies? What is your idea of a good man? I do not believe that a good man lies; and I do not believe that a man who lies is a good man. Perhaps you do, and if so, you were brought up in a different way from that in which my father brought me up. So I do not believe that a book packed with lies from one end to the other, is a good book; and I do not want any one to come and tell me that Jesus Christ was a good man, and the Bible is a good book, but neither of them tell the truth. I join issue there. This book is what it professes to be, or it is a swindle; Jesus of Nazareth was what he professed to be, or he was an impostor.
Suppose a man comes to town and represents himself as the son of a British nobleman. He is well-dressed and has plenty of money; but after a while they find out that he is the son of a blacksmith, down in the next town. Now I do not want you to tell me how well he behaves, what fine broadcloth he wears, or what a perfect gentleman he is in all his deportment. The fact is that he is a liar, a fraud, and a scamp. He has come under false colors, and palmed himself off on the community under false pretenses; and the more good things you may say about him the less I think of him; because if he is such a well-educated gentleman, he knows better than to be going around as a fraud, and deceiving the people. So we must accept Jesus of Nazareth and his claims entirely, or else we must reject the whole gospel as an imposture, and as the grandest, most stupendous fraud the world has ever known.
Here is one: The Bible is a book which has been refuted, demolished, overthrown, and exploded more times than any other book you ever heard of. Every little while somebody starts up and upsets this book; and it is like upsetting a solid cube of granite. It is just as big one way as the other; and when you overturn it again, it is right side up still. They overthrew the Bible a century ago, in Voltaire's time – entirely demolished the whole thing. "In less than a hundred years," said Voltaire, "Christianity will be swept from existence, and have passed into history." Infidelity ran riot through France, red-handed and impious. A [R459 : page 7] century has passed away. Voltaire's old printing-press, it is said, has since been used to print the word of God; and the very house where he lived has been packed with Bibles from garret to cellar, as a depot for the Bible Society. Up to the year 1800, from four to six million copies of the Scriptures, in some thirty different languages, comprised all that had been produced since the world began. Eighty years later, in 1880, the statistics of eighty different Bible societies which are now in existence with their unnumbered agencies and auxiliaries, report more than 165,000,000 Bibles, Testaments, and portions of Scripture, with two hundred and six new translations, distributed by Bible societies alone since 1804; to say nothing of the unknown millions of Bibles and Testaments which have been issued and circulated by private publishers throughout the world. For a book that has been exploded so many times, this book yet shows signs of considerable life.
I hear of a man traveling around the country exploding this Book and showing up "The Mistakes of Moses," at about two hundred dollars a night. It would be worth something after hearing the infidel on "The Mistakes of Moses," to hear Moses on the mistakes of the infidel. When Moses could talk back, he was rather a difficult man to deal with. Pharaoh tried it, and sank like lead beneath the waves. Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, and it is said were buried in the Red sea. Korah, Dathan, and Abiram tried it, and went down so deep that they have not yet got back. But now Moses is dead, and it is easy to abuse him. It does not take a very brave beast to kick a dead lion.**It would be interesting to hear a military leader and legislator, like "Moses the man of God," who, after he was eighty years old, commanded for forty years an army of six hundred thousand men, emancipating, organizing, and giving laws to a nation which has maintained its existence for more than thirty stormy centuries, give his candid opinion concerning "the mistakes" of a "Colonel" of cavalry, whose military career is said to have included one single engagement.
But, after all, this book seems to stand abuse, and thrive upon refutation. A few months ago some learned men, after working for a number of years on the revision of the New Testament, finished their work. Having inserted a few modern words instead of others which had become obsolete, made some slight corrections of errors in translation, and rectified from ancient manuscripts some little errors which had been made by copyists in transcribing the book, at last the book was announced as ready to be issued on a certain day. What was the result? Why, men offered five hundred dollars to get a copy of that Book a little in advance of its publication; and the morning it was published the streets of New York were blockaded with express wagons backed up and waiting for copies of that Book which had been refuted, exploded, and dead and buried for so many years. Millions of copies of that Book were sold as fast as they could be delivered. They telegraphed the whole of that Book from New York to Chicago, for the sake of getting it there to print in a newspaper twenty four hours in advance of the mail.
It outlives its foes. If you could gather all the books written against it, you could build a pyramid higher than Bunker Hill Monument. Now and then a man goes to work to refute the Bible; and every time it is done, it has to be done over again the next day or the next year. And then after its enemies have done their worst, some of its professed friends torture and twist and misrepresent it. It lives through all that. Infidels have been at work for nearly eighteen hundred years, firing away at it, and making about as much impression upon it as you would shooting boiled peas at Gibraltar.
The fact is, this book has come into the world, and it seems to have come to stay. It is in the world, and I do not know how you are to get it out. One hundred years ago you might have found that book in twenty or thirty translations; but now you can find it in from between two and three hundred different versions, most of which have been made in this last progressive, intellectual, nineteenth century. All over the globe it goes; touch any shore and you will find the Book there before you.
Every one knows that where this Book has influence it makes things safe. Why is this? If it were a bad book, we should expect to find it in the hands of the worst men. If it were a bad book, you would expect a man to have a revolver in one pocket and a New Testament tucked away in another.
What makes the book so different from all other books? Whose book is it? Who made it? Infidels have the strangest ideas of that subject. I recollect in Marlboro, Mass., I read in a paper an article written by an infidel, which stated that the Council of Nice in the year 325, compiled the New Testament. They had a lot of Gospels and Epistles, genuine and spurious, and no one could distinguish between the two; so they put them all on the floor, and prayed that the good ones might get up on the communion table and the bad ones stay on the floor; and that was the way the present New Testament was compiled.
And that very statement can be found in infidel books now published in Boston. This writer said that this account rested on the authority of Papias, an early Christian Bishop. I replied in a lecture, that there was one difficulty about that story – that Papias was dead and buried a hundred and fifty years before the Council of Nice was held. The man rose to explain, and said that this was not the right Papias, but that it was another Papias, an obscure Christian Bishop of the fourth century. I told him I thought he was obscure, so obscure that no one ever heard of him before or since. On investigation it was learned that a German dominie, named John Pappus, preacher in Strausburg, and a professor at Munster, who died in 1610, discovered this story in an old Greek manuscript entitled "Synodikon," which was written by some one down in the dark ages, about the year 900; for it relates things which occurred as late as 869, or five hundred years after the Council of Nice was dead and buried. And this story, written nobody knows when, where, or by whom, has been swallowed, believed, and published by infidels far and near, as an account of the origin of the New Testament.
I have on one of my library shelves, between twenty and thirty volumes, containing about twelve thousand pages of the writings of different Christian authors who wrote before A.D. 325, when the Council of Nice was held. These books are full of Scripture. Those writers had the same books which we have; they quoted the same passages which we quote; they quoted from the same books from which we quote.
Origen, who wrote a hundred years before the Council of Nice, quotes five thousand seven hundred and forty-five passages from all the books in the New Testament; Tertullian, A.D. 200, [R460 : page 7] makes more than three thousand quotations from the New Testament books; Clement, A.D. 194, quotes three hundred and eighty passages; Irenaeus, A.D. 178, quotes seven hundred and sixty-seven passages; Polycarp, who was martyred A.D. 165, after having served Christ eighty six years, in a single epistle quoted thirty-six passages; Justin Martyr, A.D. 140, also quotes from the New Testament; to say nothing of heathen and infidel writers like Celsus, A.D. 150, and Porphyry, A.D. 304, who referred to and quoted multitudes of the very passages now found in the Scriptures which we have. Indeed, Lord Hailes, of Scotland, having searched the writings of the Christian Fathers to the end of the third century actually found the whole of the New Testament, with the exception of less than a dozen verses, scattered through their writings which are still extant; so that, if at the time of the Council of Nice every copy of the New Testament had been annihilated, the book could have been reproduced from the writings of the early Christian Fathers, who quoted the book as we quote it, and who believed it. And now infidels talk about the Council of Nice getting up the New Testament. You might as well talk about a town-meeting getting up the Revised Statutes of the State of Massachusetts, because they happened to say they accepted or received them. The Council of Nice did nothing of the kind. The books of the New Testament were received from the Apostles who wrote them, and were carefully preserved, and publicly read in the churches of Christ long before the Council of Nice was held.
Says Tertullian, A.D. 200, "If you are willing to exercise your curiosity profitably in the business of your salvation, visit the apostolic churches, in which the very chairs of the apostles still preside in their places; in which their very authentic letters are recited, sounding forth the voice and representing the countenance of every one of them. Is Achaia near you? You have Corinth. If you are not far from Macedonia you have Phillippi and Thessalonica; if you can go to Asia you have Ephesus, but if you are near to Italy we have Rome."
These apostolic churches received the Gospel at the hands of men who wrote them; and the epistles were given and signed by men whom they well knew. Paul wrote, "The salutation of me, Paul, by mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle, so I write."
Now, what did these writers testify? They testified things which they knew. The Apostle John did not say, "That which we have dreamed, imagined, or guessed at, that thing do we declare unto you;" but "that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the word of Life." (1 John 1:1.) This was their testimony. They testified that they saw Christ in his life and in his death; that they saw him after his resurrection, and they knew these things and testified of them. They preached Christ, who had died and risen again. These Apostles suffered the loss of all things, and imperilled their very lives in proclaiming truth; and they left their testimony on record in this Book. Then, the apostles quote from the prophets, and the prophets quote from the Psalms, and refer to the law which was given on Mount Sinai; and so we go back from book to book, until we reach the book of Genesis, and that does not quote from anybody or anything. You have then reached the fountain head.
"But," says one, "I think the Bible may be a true history." So you think it an easy matter to tell the truth, do you? I wish you could make other people think so. Suppose you go and read a file of the newspapers published just before the last election, and see if you do not think it requires divine inspiration to tell the truth, or even to find it out after it is told. Truth is mighty hard to get at, as you can see by perusing the daily papers on the eve of an election.
There are certain things in the Bible which, to my mind, bear the impress of divinity. A skeptic will tell you what a race of sinners we read about in the Bible! Do you suppose that if the Bible had been revised by a committee of eminent divines, and published by some great religious society, we should ever have heard of Noah's drunkenness, of Jacob's cheating, or of Peter's lying, cursing, or dissembling? Not at all. The good men, when they came to such an incident, would have said, "There is no use in saying anything about that. It is all past and gone; it will not help anything, and it will only hurt the cause." If a committee of such eminent divines had prepared the Bible, you would have got a biography of men whose characters were patterns of piety and propriety. Sometimes a man writes his own diary, and happens to leave it for some one to print after he is dead; but he leaves out all the mean tricks he ever did, and puts in all the good acts he can ever think of; and you read the pages, filled with astonishment, and think, "What a wonderfully good man he was!" But when the Almighty writes a man's life he tells the truth about him; and there are not many who would want their lives printed if the Almighty wrote them.
When the Lord undertakes to tell his story of a sinful man he does not select a poor, miserable beggar, and show him up; he does not give even the name of the guilty woman who bathed the Saviour's feet with her tears; but he takes King David from the throne and sets him down in sackcloth and ashes, and wrings from his heart the cry, "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving-kindness; according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out all my transgressions." And then when he is pardoned, forgiven, cleansed, and made whiter than snow, the pen of inspiration writes down the dark, damning record of his crimes, and the king on his throne has not power nor wealth or influence enough to blot the page; and it goes into history for infidels to scoff at for three thousand years. Who wrote that?
You find a man who will tell the truth about kings, warriors, princes and presidents to-day, and you may be quite sure that he has within him the power of the Holy Spirit. And a book which tells the faults of those who wrote it, and which tells you that "there is none righteous, no, not one," bears in it the marks of a true book; for we all know that men have faults and failings and sins, and among all the men described in that Book, every man whose life is recorded has some defect, some blot, save one, and that is "the man Christ Jesus."
Men say there are difficulties and absurdities and errors and contradictions in the Bible. After speaking once in the city of Boston, an infidel came to me and told me that the Bible was not true, for there was that story which Moses told about the quails. Israel lusted after flesh, and the Lord sent them quails to eat, and they fell by the camp a day's journey on each side, or over a territory forty miles across, and they were two cubits deep on the ground, and the Israelites ate them for about a month. I have in my possession an infidel paper which was published in Boston, in which there is about a column of arguments and figures on this "quail story;" giving an estimate of the number of bushels of quails that were piled up over the country, and showing that when they were divided among the six million Israelites, each Jew would have 2,888,643 bushels of quails, which they were to eat during the month, giving each poor Israelite 69,620 bushels of quail to eat at each meal during the month; and therefore the Bible was not true! I answered that the Bible did not say any such thing. He insisted that it did. "Well," said I, "find it!" He could not find the place; so I turned over to the eleventh chapter of Numbers, and there read that instead of the birds being packed like cordwood on the ground, three feet deep, the account says that the Lord brought the quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp, as it were "two cubits high," or about three feet high upon or above the face of the earth. That is, instead of flying overhead and out of reach, they were brought in about three feet high, where any one could take as many of them as he chose. And this skeptical friend had got the birds packed solid, three feet deep, over a territory forty miles across. As if some one should say that a flock of geese flew as high as Bunker Hill Monument, and we should insist that they were packed solid from the ground up, two hundred and twenty-one feet high! This is a sample of the arguments to prove that the Bible is not true!
The book, to my mind, bears the marks of inspiration in the foresight which it exhibits. This Book foretells things. You cannot do that. You cannot tell what will be next year, or next week. "The spirits" cannot tell who will be the next President. They may tell a great many things that are past. They may tell you who your grandmother was, and may copy the inscriptions on your grandfather's grave-stone, and may tell things which were written in the family record. They may reveal many things in the past – for the devil knows about the past – but they cannot foretell the future.
The revelations of prophecy are facts [R460 : page 8] which exhibit the divine omniscience. So long as Babylon is in heaps, so long as Nineveh lies empty, void, and waste; so long as Egypt is the basest of kingdoms; so long as Tyre is a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea; so long as Israel is scattered among all nations; so long as Jerusalem is trodden under foot of the Gentiles; so long as the great empires of the world march on in their predicted course – so long we have proof that one omniscient mind dictated that Book, and "prophecy came not in old time by the will of man."
We call this Bible a book, but here are sixty different books, written by [R461 : page 8] thirty or forty different men. A man may say, "I do not believe in the book of Esther." Well, what of that? We have sixty-five others left. What will you do with them? A man says, "I find fault with this chapter or with that." Suppose you do? If you were on trial for murder and had sixty-six witnesses against you, suppose you impeach one of them, there are sixty-five left; impeach another, and you still have sixty-four left; impeach another, and you have sixty-three – enough to hang you up if you are guilty. Do you not see that you cannot impeach this Book unless you do it in detail? Each book bears its own witness, and stands by itself on its own merits; and yet each book is linked with all the rest. Blot out one, if you can. I am inclined to think it would be difficult to do this. This book is built to stay together; it is inspired by one Spirit.
The authorship of this Book is wonderful. Here are words written by kings, by emperors, by princes, by poets, by sages, by philosophers, by fishermen, by statesmen; by men learned in the wisdom of Egypt, educated in the schools of Babylon, trained up at the feet of rabbis in Jerusalem. It was written by men in exile, in the desert, and in shepherd's tents, in "green pastures" and beside "still waters." Among its authors we find the fishermen, the tax-gatherer, the herdsman, the gatherer of sycamore fruit; we find poor men, rich men, statesmen, preachers, exiles, captains, legislators, judges – men of every grade and class. The authorship of this Book is wonderful beyond all other books.
And what a book it is – filled with law, ethics, prophecy, poetry, history, genealogy, sanitary science, political economy. It contains all kinds of writing; but what a jumble it would be if sixty-six books were written in this way by ordinary men. Suppose, for instance, that we get sixty-six medical books written by thirty or forty different doctors of various schools, believers in allopathy, homeopathy, hydropathy, and all the other opathies, bind them all together, and then undertake to doctor a man according to that book! What man would be fool enough to risk the results of practicing such a system of medicine? Or, suppose you get thirty-five editors at work writing treatises on politics, and then see if you can find any leather strong enough to hold the books together when they have got through.
But again, it took fifteen hundred years to write this Book, and the man who wrote the closing pages of it had no communication with the man who commenced it. How did these men, writing independently, produce such a book? Other books get out of date when they are ten or twenty years old: but this book lives on through the ages, and keeps abreast of the mightiest thought and intellect of every age.
Suppose that thirty or forty men should walk in through that door. One man comes from Maine, another from New Hampshire another from Massachusetts, and so on from each state, each bearing a block of marble of peculiar shape. Suppose I pile up these blocks in order until I have the figure of a man, perfectly symmetrical and beautifully chiseled, and I say, "How did these men, who had never seen each other, chisel out that beautiful statue?" You say, "That is easily explained. One man planned that whole statue, made the patterns, gave the directions, distributed them around; and so, each man working by the pattern, the work fits accurately when completed." Very well. Here is a book coming from all quarters, written by men of all classes, scattered through a period of fifteen hundred years; and yet this book is fitted together as a wondrous and harmonious whole. How was it done? "Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." One mind inspires the whole Book, one voice speaks in it all, and it is the voice of God.
Again, I conclude that this book has in it the very breath of God, from the effect that it produces upon men. There are men who study philosophy, astronomy, geology, geography, and mathematics, but did you ever hear a man say, "I was an out-cast, a wretched inebriate, a disgrace to my race, and a nuisance in the world, until I began to study mathematics, and learned the multiplication table, and then turned my attention to geology, got me a little hammer, and knocked off the corners of the rocks and studied the formation of the earth; but since that time I have been as happy as the day is long; I feel like singing all the time, my soul is full of triumph and peace; and health and blessing have come to my desolate home once more." Did you ever hear a man ascribe his redemption and salvation from intemperance and sin and vice to the multiplication table, or the science of mathematics or geology? But I can bring you, not one man, or two, or ten, but men by the thousand who will tell you, "I was wretched; I was lost; I broke my poor old mother's heart; I beggared my family; my wife was broken hearted and dejected; my children fled from the sound of their father's footstep; I was ruined, reckless, helpless, homeless, hopeless until I heard the words of that Book!" And since that word entered his heart he will tell you that hope has dawned upon his vision; that joy has inspired his heart; and that his mouth is filled with grateful song. He will tell you that the blush of health has come back to his poor wife's faded cheek; that the old hats have vanished from the windows of his desolate home; that his rags have been exchanged for good clothes; that his children run to meet him when he comes; that there is bread on his table, fire on his hearth, and comfort in his dwelling. He will tell you all that, and he will tell you that the Book has done the work. Now, this Book is working just such miracles, and is doing it every day. If you have any other book that will do such work as this, bring it along. The work needs to be done; if you have the book that will do it, bring it out. But for the present, while we are waiting for you, as we know this Book will do the work, we propose to use it until we can get something better.
Christians sometimes try to defend the word of God, but it is its own best witness and defender. The best thing for us to do is to bring out the word of God, and let "the word of the Spirit" prove its own power, as it pierces "even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit."
The Book is its own witness. It bears its own fruits and tells its own story. It is a sorrowful fact that you can hardly go into a prayer-meeting but you are likely to hear a quotation from Scripture that is not in the Bible and never was. You may hear, "In the midst of life we are in death," from the Prayer-book; "He tempers the wind to the shorn lamb," from an old romance; "God unchangeably ordains whatsoever comes to pass," from the Catechism; accompanied by passages misquoted, misunderstood, and misapplied, which show that the people do not study their Bibles and do not understand them. We need to read the Bible, to search it, study it, believe it, and obey it, and we shall find that it is the word of salvation to the perishing, and that it is filled with sanctifying power.
But, says one, "I do not understand the Bible. I read it, but I cannot make anything of it." "How do you read your Bible?" "Oh, I read a chapter now and then; I read it here and there." Suppose your boy comes home from school and says, "I can't make anything of this arithmetic; it is all dark to me." You say to him, "How did you study it?" "Oh, I read a little at the beginning, and then I turned to the middle and read a little here and there, and skipped backward and forward. But I don't understand it; I can't see into it."
You say to him, "My son, that is not the way to understand arithmetic. You must begin with the simplest elements, and master every principle, learn every rule, solve every problem, and thus the whole book will open to you as you go on."
Take the Bible, and read it from beginning to end, and see how it comes out? You will find it the grandest and most thrilling story the world has ever known. Begin at the beginning, and read until you find out who is the hero of the story. You will find that the presence of one person pervades the whole book. If you go into the British navy-yard, or on board a British vessel, and pick up a piece of rope, you will find that there is one little colored thread which runs through the whole of it – through every foot of cordage which belongs to the British government – so, if a piece of rope is stolen, it may be cut into inch pieces, but every piece has the mark which tells where it belongs. It is so with the Bible. You may separate it into a thousand parts, and yet you will find one thought – one great fact running through the whole of it. You will find it constantly pointing and referring to one great Personage – "the seed of the woman" that shall crush the serpent's head; the seed of Abraham, in whom all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; the seed of David, who shall sit on David's throne, and reign forever; the despised and rejected sufferer, the "man of sorrows," "the Christ of God," born in Bethlehem, crucified on Calvary, rising triumphant from Joseph's tomb, ascending to sit at God's right hand, and coming again to judge the world and reign as King and Lord of all forever. Around this one mighty Personage this whole book revolves. "To him give all the prophets witness;" and this Book, which predicts his coming in its earliest pages, which forshadows his person and his ministry through all its observances, types, and sacred prophecies, reveals in its closing lines the eternal splendors which shall crown and consummate his mighty work.
God's Word declares the end from the beginning. It is not only the chart which guides every weary wanderer to his own eternal rest, but it is the record of the great plan and purpose of the Almighty. It unfolds God's everlasting purpose, as manifested in Jesus Christ; and if one will read three chapters at [R462 : page 8] the first of the Bible and three at the end, he will be struck with the correspondence which there exists.
At the beginning of the Bible we find a new world: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." At the end of the Bible we find a new world: "I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away." At the beginning, we find Satan entering to deceive and destroy; at the end we find Satan cast out, "that he should deceive the nations no more." At the beginning, sin and pain and sorrow and sighing and death find entrance to the world; at the end, there shall be no more pain nor sorrow, no sighing, and no more death. At the beginning, the earth, for man's transgression, is cursed with thorns and thistles; at the end, "there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it." At the beginning, we find the tree of life in paradise, from which the sinner is shut away by a flaming sword, lest he eat and live forever; at the end, we find the tree of life again "in the midst of the paradise of God," and the blessed and the blood-washed ones have a right to the tree of life, and "enter in through the gates into the city." At the beginning, man was beneath the dominion of death and the grave; at the end, "the dead, small and great, stand before God," the sea gives up its dead, and death and hell are destroyed in the lake of fire. At the beginning, the first Adam lost his dominion over earth, and was driven out of the garden of Eden in shame and sorrow; at the end, we find the second Adam, victorious over sin and death, enthroned as King and Lord of all, and reigning in triumph and glory forever.
Now, when you get the plan of this Book, you find that it is something more than a book of detached sentences, good maxims, and comforting words. It is a Book which unfolds the divine purpose, and reveals not only the way of salvation, but it marks the pathway of the people of God through this wilderness, and reveals the destiny of the world and the church.
When we look at these facts we see that this is no man-made book. When Columbus discovered the river Orinoco, some one said he had found an island. He replied: "No such river as that flows from an island. That mighty torrent must drain the waters of a continent." So this Book comes, not from the empty hearts of impostors, liars and deceivers; it springs from the eternal depths of divine wisdom, love and grace. It is the transcript of the Divine Mind, the unfolding of the divine purpose, the revelation of the divine will. God help us to receive it, to believe it, and be saved through Christ our Lord!
YOUNG'S CONCORDANCE: We wish that all our readers had this very valuable work while we can furnish them at the reduced rate, (i.e., half the usual price; $1.75 by express, or 51c extra for postage, if sent by mail – the latter is cheapest for those at a distance from Pittsburgh). The price at which we furnish them is less than wholesale price. This is the latest revised and most complete edition published – the "Students' Edition." This work is at once a Greek and Hebrew Lexicon, giving the meaning of the original terms in English, and also a Concordance giving each word of Scripture and the words which they translate. The value of such a work is becoming more apparent daily, as theorisers attempt to palm off a private interpretation under guise of "a better definition of the original."
A similar work, "Englishman's Greek and Hebrew Concordance," (3 vols.) sold at $22, in cloth binding, only seven years ago, and usually reached only the hands of scholars; but the present work, by one of the ripest scholars of the age, (Prof. Young, of Edinburgh, Scotland) has been printed in immense quantities, and at a price bringing it within the reach of all students. Indeed, it seems providential that it should be provided so cheaply at a time when it can be of so great service to truth seekers. At the price at which we furnish it, even our English and Scotch readers can save considerable by ordering them at this office. No Bible student can afford to be without a copy. It is of more value than two years' study of the Greek and Hebrew languages.
We still have some of these pamphlets for those who have not yet read them. We desire, however, to keep them for those whose appetite has been sharpened by first reading the October number of Z.W.T. Let such order them, but for loaning or giving to uninterested ones the October paper is best. We can send you as many of the latter as you can use.