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It is a common proverb, and one very generally acted upon to-day, that, "In union there is strength." Both the Church and the world accept the maxim as correct; hence we find men binding themselves together in various unions, both social and religious.
From some standpoints the idea certainly is correct. How could labor resist the encroachments of capital, or capital protect its interests, without their respective unions? How else could Free Masonry and similar institutions have gained present power and influence? How could kingdoms maintain their authority and dominion? How could the churches, both Papal and Protestant, have gained or retained their mighty power, influence and authority, had they not each fortified themselves by a union of hands?
Looking out upon these great civil, social, and religious organizations, all must acknowledge that through their respective unions great strength has been secured. And the strength of each great party has helped to keep the other at bay. In other words, one uplifted arm of flesh has served to protect itself against another arm of flesh, as well as to exchange blows in the struggle for existence. And so the world to-day which has been banding its forces for centuries, and with increased energy during the last century, stands organized in companies of millions on opposite sides of almost every question of general interest.
And what does it mean? Where shall it end? When each great band having united its forces, feeling sure that in its union there would be strength, now turns to look upon the equivalent strength of its opponent, the outlook is truly appalling from every standpoint, and men begin to fear if after all, these unions have given them sufficient strength to withstand the approaching conflict, now so manifest to every reasoning mind.
While we have remarked the expressions and indications of fearful apprehension on the part of the great civil organizations, we also note the same indications on the part of prominent exponents of the great religious systems. While each secretly trembles for its own safety, yet outwardly boasts of its security, they note and delight to point out the elements of disintegration at work in each other.
"With Dr. McCosh, of Princeton, we believe, originated the idea of a Pan-Presbyterian Council. The Church of England people went through the form of holding a Pan-Angelical Convocation some few years ago in London. The Methodists at once followed the example set them by their Episcopalian friends, and attempted to gather together the representatives of Methodism from every land where 'the gospel,' as expounded by Wesley and his followers, had been preached, into a Pan-Methodist Conference. This Pan-Methodist Council was to be a wonderful affair; Methodism was a young, growing and intensely active religious organization; it reckoned its followers by the tens of thousands; it had made serious inroads, both in England and the United States, upon the older and established forms of Protestantism; hence, much was expected from the Pan-Methodist Conference that assembled in London a few years since. But it was the old story of Protestantism re-told. Instead of union and harmony prevailing in the councils of the Methodist body, there was a singular revelation of the lack of both those qualities so essential to the welfare and stability of the organization. There was no authoritive declaration on those important subjects of doctrine and polity which had split Methodism into different and contending sects. In a word, the Pan-Methodist Conference, like the Pan-Anglican Convocations, was a signal failure. It did not impress anyone, it may be questioned if it did Methodists themselves, with the notion that the Wesleyan system was an improvement upon those forms of Protestant belief which it had supplanted in many quarters.
"The idea of a Pan-Presbyterian Council was next taken up at the instigation of the President of Princeton, the able and learned Dr. McCosh. No sooner was the proposition put forward of holding a Pan-Presbyterian meeting, than it was hailed with a "remarkable unanimity and with almost universal interest and joy" by the Calvanistic Churches. What a pleasing spectacle it would be to see the divided followers of Calvin and Knox coming together and holding mutual intercourse and counsel upon their common standards of faith! Outsiders might be somewhat skeptical as to the possibility of a Pan-Presbyterian Council, but a supreme effort should be made, through the leaders of that body, to convince the world of the 'real and effective oneness' of Presbyterians throughout the world.
"Accordingly a call was issued. And the first Pan-Presbyterian meeting was held in Edinburgh in July, 1877; a second in Philadelphia, September, 1880; and the third, and quite likely the last, was opened in the city of Belfast, Ireland, on the 2nd of July past. We have been reading lately some very unfavorable criticisms of this Belfast Pan-Presbyterian Council made by Presbyterians themselves. A paper was read before the United Presbyterian Ministerial Association of Philadelphia on the Belfast meeting by the Rev. Mr. Dales, from which we make some extracts.
"'In looking, however, at the late meeting as we may now after the pleasurable excitements and varied entertaining, social and other interesting things connected with it are over, some matters may be noted which may be considered as grounds of apprehension in regard to it and the whole system of Councils as this one and its predecessors generally have been conducted – and apprehension as to whether any real and lasting good may be expected to flow from them – and apprehension also as to the desirableness, or possibly even the propriety, of their being continued.
"'The freedom and boldness with which, as at the meeting in Philadelphia and possibly in Belfast, speculative views at least were advanced to inspiration, the claims or pretensions of science, ritualism and other topics, and which could not be antagonized or properly controverted at the time or in the place, lest there might be developed some unseemly scene of difference, and, what the outside world might say, of strife among brethren of the same name. Thus more or less of serious error might go uncorrected and unrebuked.'
"Just so. There are most serious grounds of apprehension in the Presbyterian case, as well as in the Anglican and Methodist instances, of any "real and lasting good" likely to flow from such meetings. The elements are too discordant to be harmonized. And this critic goes on to say that 'there has been an unsatisfactory, and perhaps ominous, indefiniteness and uncertainty in those councils from the beginning.'"
From all this we gather that Presbyterians themselves do not believe in the utility or advantages to be derived from the holding of Pan-Presbyterian Councils; that the experiment is a dismal failure; and this for the simple reason: that "unless the Lord build the house, the labor of the builders is in vain." The Protestant fabric the Heavenly Builder certainly did not contemplate when he laid the foundations of the Christian Church."
Thus the "Mother Church" points out to her wayward daughters the error of their course in following the principle for which they parted company with her, viz.: the right of private judgment in the interpretation of the Scriptures.
And in their confusion they are beginning to heed her counsel, and by degrees are looking for the old paths – not the old paths marked by the steppings of Jesus and the Apostles, but for the paths of the great apostate church of Rome.
As evidence of this, mark the spirit of intolerance which increasingly prevails throughout Protestantism: the authority with which they attempt now to silence private judgment, for which right they once contended; the emphasis with which they command their people to "stop thinking and go to work;" the effort to bind the people by fear, and to lead them to render undue reverence to men of like passions and frailties, who have assumed the right to lord it over God's heritage; and the indulgence they offer to men of the world who will advance their financial interests. Like Catholicism, they point to their age, their established clergy, trained and educated for their service, and their dignified presumption, as evidence of their divine authority.
In keeping with this growing disposition to admire and imitate the "Mother Church," was the proposition entertained in the "Protestant Episcopal Congress" recently held in Detroit, Mich., to establish Auricular Confession.
"It must have been a little startling to the majority of Protestants hereabouts, to discover the almost unanimity with which the clergy of the Episcopal Church Congress favored Auricular Confession. Indeed, almost the only arguments urged against it were those of expediency and practicability. Its philosophical [R696 : page 1] basis was heartily approved, and its scriptural authority conceded. The Latin clergy themselves could hardly have spoken more eloquently of the benefits of the practice than did the reverend gentlemen who appeared as its advocates in the Episcopal Congress."
These and similar indications, manifest to every thoughtful mind, show the tendency of human schemes. Men were beginning to think they had built the tower of Babylon high enough to reach unto heaven, but, lo! the confusion of tongues! the discord among the builders! they cannot understand each other, and the various sections of the vast condemned structure are disintegrating, settling, falling. As an evidence that this is beginning to be realized, we quote the following from the Chicago Express which is part of an article written by Bishop Foster, of the Methodist Church. While traveling in Europe, he took occasion to speak of those forms of worship there which are supported by law, and the acts that led to such a state of things. He says: –
"That there is but little real, vital, personal religion in these lands, is among the most patent facts....I know of nothing more sad than the religious condition of Europe, and the saddest part of it is, that it is chargeable to the Church itself, and therefore the more hopeless. If something is not speedily done, the so-called Christian Church will drive Christianity from these ancient lands, if not from the whole world."
"Did Constantine make the Roman mind Christian by abolishing paganism, and proclaiming the religion of the cross in its stead? and did creating the constituted Roman nation into a church, make the nation a Christian church? or did he not rather paganize Christianity?"
"By a false theory, the Church has been taken from the people, and converted into a priestly and political machine, and has ceased to be a Church of Christ, as much as the papal machine at Rome. ...This condition of things is the sad inheritance of the union of Church and State."
"The Church in America has also very largely become a political machine, and has been used as a means of raising a campaign fund to retain and maintain the party in power, and return men to office, who have betrayed the people, and [R696 : page 2] sold them to the giant corporations of the land....How long, we would ask of Bishop Foster, does he imagine it will be before the Church in America, like the Church of Europe, will be forced to seek an alliance with the State in order to sustain itself, because of the indifference of the people, who perceive its iniquitous practices, and scoff at its pretended Christianity? Already a union of the two is a thing openly spoken of as desirable.
"We have before us at this moment a religious journal, the Sabbath Sentinel, which in its leading editorial warns the Church against the tendency. The rich men within the Church, who have taken shelter there against public condemnation of their crimes of extortion, are ready at any time for the union – more than ready. They would do with their taxes to the Church as they have done with their taxes to the State: frame the laws in such a way that the poor shall be forced to pay for them. Every one of the causes which produced the union of Church and State in Europe, exists either in full bloom or in embryo in this country; and here, as there, 'if something is not speedily done, the so-called Christian Church will drive Christianity from the land.' Again we say, with the Bishop, 'Let the Church of God come out from the world; let it be made of followers and disciples of Christ; let it represent righteousness and truth; let it cut loose from false and entangling alliances; let its priests be clothed with salvation, and its citizens be a holy communion; let it demonstrate its divine lineage, – let this be the watch-cry of Zion, and then it will be a power in the earth, and will silence the taunt of its enemies.'"
What then shall we conclude? Is there to be no union among Christians – shall brother forever stand divided against brother? Shall truth forever be so vaguely comprehended that God's children may not have full confidence in it? Is there no common bond of union?
Yes, assuredly there is a common bond of union – the spirit of truth promised – which is able, through the exercise of our free unbiased judgment in the study of God's word, to lead us into all truth, in its due season. And all thus led are united to each other and to Christ, the great invisible head of the church. And in that union there is strength, which no opposing forces can withstand, and before which all must fall.
Therefore, you who thus stand united to Christ, though you may stand alone among men, be of good cheer, contend nobly for the faith once delivered to the saints, though alone you contend against a host. Greater is he that is for us than all they that be against us. Babylon's massive walls shall crumble into dust, but the mountain (kingdom) of the Lord's house shall be established. Isa. 2:2.
As an example of a strong church system or union, Papacy is head and shoulders above all others. Her principle of teaching the infallibility of decrees of Popes and Bishops, and the utter ignorance of truth and subservience in all others, is the tried and most approved method of having union in error. Because of this, Papacy will probably survive the shock of the coming storm longer than any other section of Babylon. For the same reason limited monarchies will probably fall sooner than absolute monarchies in the same conflict between truth and error. Yet truth is mighty and shall prevail.
MY DEAR BROTHER: – A copy of the WATCH TOWER of October, 1883, has just fallen into my hands. There are several articles in that issue of such a character that, should the tone of the paper for 1884 be similar, I want to take it and circulate it as far and wide as possible. I am Pastor of the Christian Church of this place. Our people are liberal in sentiment and love the Holy Scriptures. Hence any paper containing so much candid research and Biblical exegesis as the above mentioned number, will find willing readers.
Please send me a sample copy.
SIR: – In the goodness of God I have got a look at your pamphlet, "Why Evil was Permitted." I have been deeply interested in the subjects therein presented for some time. Please to favor me with a copy of ZION'S WATCH TOWER with the supplement already mentioned, and any others of a like description. Christians cannot but note to what an extent the power of God is being put forth in the calling of one here and another there. In striking contrast is the way in which the devil, knowing that his time is short, is using every effort in his power, and so the conflict is going on, while the so-called Church of God is sound asleep. Let us realize our position. By faith having received the blessed Christ and realizing the guiding and teaching of the Holy Ghost, may we grow in grace and in the love of God.
Yours, most respectfully,
A few weeks ago, on a pleasant Sabbath afternoon, I went for the first time in my life across the Ohio river here, to Wheeling. While visiting churches and other places of interest, I passed, it seemed by chance, the State House, where Elder J. B. Adamson was preaching to a group on the pavement. I staid so long to hear him that I saw little more of the city that day. I heard the Bible explained – I heard him "vindicate the ways of God to man," as Pollock says. I got the little book, "Food," etc. I felt then, and more ever since, that that day was a great crisis in my life.
Mr. Adamson was in this town afterward, and I "heard him gladly." He came, at my earnest request, to my room, and talked to me of this mystery – now made clear. Besides, the little volume is satisfying my mind wonderfully.
Please read the enclosed card, and then address it so that it will reach Mr. Adamson, if you know where he is.
J. B. ADAMSON: – Dear Sir: – I now send a few lines to tell you how fully I believe I have found the truth. I have not quite finished the little book "Food," and I have not read much of the paper yet, but everything is like the breaking of sunlight on a dark day. The darkest problems of my mind, that have confronted me for many years, are being clearly solved – so many of them. I tell my associates quietly but gladly, that I have found that for which I have longed. And I tell my near friends – the dear ones at a distance – that I have found peace with God. It was such a revelation to me: The Bible, the Saviour, the Church, and the world, all appear to me in such a different light from that in which I looked at them before. Yet truly my life's experiences have been preparing me for the immediate acceptance of these things. I feel that I have long known what self-denial is – indeed I have tried hard. Now though I feel how unworthy my powers of body and mind, are, I consecrate them to God. I am so anxious to attain to the highest and feel sorry to think of failing in that. How glad I am that my feet were led that day, past the Wheeling State House. May God bless you and your companion in your work – Mrs. A.
The brother need not conclude that he is too late to attain to the "High Calling." Thousands of God's children have given themselves to the Lord long ago, who are now being led to more fully realize the full import of their covenant. They have learned and practiced self-denial, self-sacrifice, and are now being quickened by the truth to renewed energy in sacrifice and devotedness to God. And it is the privilege of all such to so run to obtain. How many sincere hearts have in solemn song or words or prayer declared to God –
"My all is on the altar."
"And the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And (unless they should forsake or despise their covenant John 8:31) they shall be mine saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels." Mal. 3:16,17. None of us understood fully the extent of our sacrifice when first we made it. Each added day brings its opportunities for sacrifice, and God's word is now making clear to inquiring minds that it must be even unto death; and as we daily realize the death struggles of the old nature, glorious visions of the new burst upon our spiritual visions through the precious word. And thus we are impelled and helped in the way of sacrifice – even unto death.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – My wife has been receiving THE WATCH TOWER for several years past, and I have occasionally read an article in them without awakening any particular interest in my mind until about two months ago. Then my attention was especially called to them, and since that time I have read them eagerly and with very great delight.
I was in the Methodist ministry seven years previous to the last four years, and should probably be there now but for the different and changing views of my wife, as she has been a nominal (though not a real) Baptist till within a few years past, and now neither of us find a resting place in either of these or any of the other churches. We find ourselves in sympathy with the most of your writings, though I am unable, as yet, to measure fully up to some views you put forth. Nevertheless, the doctrines you hold wherein I cannot go with you do not concern particularly your main teachings, as I understand them.
My mind is in lively exercise just now as to what my work in the Master's vineyard shall be, and how it shall be done. That this "Plan of God" for the restoration of the race should be placed before those that are prepared to receive it, as also before the probably much larger company that would accept it if properly explained, I am fully convinced. But it is not so clear in my mind in what way this can be done with the best promise of success. "He that winneth souls is wise;" and this same wisdom is required in sowing the seed. Scarcely elsewhere than in the churches are there any prepared for such meat as this, and even there but few; and how even may they be best approached is a question.
I am inclined to start out to teach or in some way to proclaim this doctrine. My wife has been pondering this matter for several years, and is fully persuaded that it is the genuine teaching of Scripture. So she is ready to go out; but I am not so taught as to be confident of a qualification for the task.
Then my wife, calling attention to the great consolation she had received from your writings, I began to see the harmony existing between your teachings and the Bible, and forthwith the wondrous wisdom and love of God became astonishingly grand and glorious beyond any former conception. "O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men." Your brother in Christ,
C. T. RUSSELL: – Dear Brother: – You have been giving me considerable of your thought and time lately, and I appreciate this. Your last letter is very strong but perfectly clear to me, and accepted, as I know it is according to the spirit of scripture teaching.
Rejoice! I have entered into a new consecration. I have been drawing nearer to this for nearly four years, and had given up time that according to human foresight belonged to my business, and on which my future prosperity very much depends. I have long realized that nothing in the world is of much value to me and have truly realized all worldly employment or position or name as unworthy to be compared with the joy to be revealed to us through our Lord.
I am deeply impressed. I am a thinking man and from past experience (in my advancement toward full consecration) know the trials and sorrows that will encompass me, and no one with whom I am connected or personally acquainted to give sympathy – My family opposed. But these things do not hinder me. I have been led to look only unto the Lord God Almighty for guidance and sympathy and from thence it is unfailing.
I have given up my business – that is, I am where I am, it seems to me, by the will of the Lord, and I see no possibility of change that I could advantageously make at present, and I am convinced that when a change is to be made the Lord will give me a conviction of mind and opportunity to that effect. I have given up my family – that is they, as well as everything, stand second to the will of God and to his love.
The impression on my mind is that he will give me a greater knowledge of his truth and then open a way for me to use it yet more fully. I really count my life as nothing if I may win Christ. My question or thought is not how to avoid trouble or pain, but "what is thy will O! God?"
Yours in fellowship and service,
The following epistle it is claimed was taken by Napoleon from the records of Rome, when he deprived that city of so many valuable manuscripts. It purports to have been written at the time and on the spot where Jesus commenced his ministry, by Publius Lentelus, governor of Judea, to the senate at Rome – Caesar, Emperor. It was the custom in those days for the governor to write home any event of importance transpiring during his term of office.
"Conscript Fathers: – There appeared, in these our days, a man named Jesus Christ, who is yet living among us, and, of the Gentiles, is accepted as a prophet of great truth; but his own disciples call him the son of God. He hath raised the dead, and cured all manner of diseases. He is a man of stature somewhat tall and comely; with a very ruddy countenance, such as the beholder may both love and fear. His hair is of the color of the filbert when fully ripe, plain to his ear, whence downward, it is of more oriental color, curling and waving on his shoulders. In the middle of his head there is a seam of long hair, after the manner of the Nazarites. His forehead is plain and delicate; his face, without spot or wrinkle, beautiful, with a comely red; his nose and mouth are exactly formed; his beard is the color of his hair, and thick; not of any length, but forked. In reproving he is terrible; in admonishing courteous; in speaking, very modest and wise; in proportion of body, well shaped. None have seen him laugh, many have seen him weep. A man for his surpassing beauty excelling the children of men."
"Across the sea I heard the groan
Of nations in the intervals
Of wind and wave. Their blood and bones
Cried out in torture, crushed by thrones,
And sucked by priestly cannibals.
I dreamed of freedom slowly gained
By martyr meekness, patience, faith,
And lo! an athlete grimly stained,
With corded muscles battle-strained
Shouting it from the fields of death.
I turn me, awe-struck, from the sight
Among the clamoring thousands mute.
I only know that God is right,
And that the children of the light
Shall tread the darkness under foot.
I know the pent fire heaves its crust,
That sultry skies the bolt will form
To smite them clear; that Nature must
The balance of her powers adjust,
Though with the earthquake and the storm.
God reigns, and let the earth rejoice!
I bow before His sterner plan.
Dumb are the organs of my choice;
He speaks in battle's stormy voice,
His praise is in the wrath of man.
Yet, surely as He lives, the day
Of peace He promised shall be ours,
To fold the flags of war, and lay
Its sword and spear to rust away,
And sow its ghastly fields with flowers."
"Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring US to God, being put to death in the flesh but quickened [in] spirit. By which also, [in addition to this work done for US] he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah." – 1 Pet. 3:18-20.
A satisfactory interpretation of this Scripture has long been sought, and but few have found a solution perfectly consistent and satisfying to themselves. Under the increasing light of the Lamp it is now becoming clear, to us at least.
The most common view is, that during the time that Jesus was entombed he was off on a missionary tour preaching to the antediluvians. It is part of this view that the antediluvian sinners were suffering torture in a place they call hell.
If its advocates would consider it, they would find that their interpretation favors a view of future probation for the antediluvians, a thing which they strenuously oppose. For if Christ preached to them it must have been for some purpose, and surely it was not to merely mock and deride them; his preaching must have been a message of hope – a part of his blessed "good tidings of great joy." And if there is a future probation for the antediluvians, why may not our position be correct, that in Christ all the families of the earth shall be blessed?
This is the objection which consistency would urge against this view from the standpoint of those who hold it. But if we view it from the scriptural standpoint, and with the correct idea of death, we must reason that if Jesus was really dead during those three days, as the Apostles declare, then he could do no preaching, for "the dead know not anything," (Eccl. 9:5), and "there is no work, nor devices, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave." (Eccl. 9:10.) Secondly, if Jesus had been an exception to the rule and could have preached, the antediluvians could not have heard, for certainly they have no wisdom, nor knowledge, in the grave. Hence this view is found generally unsatisfactory and out of harmony with the Scriptures.
The second view, and the one which seemed most reasonable to us until recently, is to refer the preaching to that which Noah did under the direction of the Spirit of God to the antediluvians, who at this time are imprisoned in death. The objection to this view is that the preaching was not done to men, nor to the spirits of men, but to spirits, spiritual beings; and the preaching was not done by Noah, nor by the Spirit of God, but by the death and resurrection of Jesus.
As we at present see the subject, it seems very clear that the spirits are those spiritual beings whose disobedience took place during the days of Noah, and whom God therefore imprisoned or restrained in some of their former liberties and privileges; even "those angels who kept not their own principality, but left their own habitation [or normal condition] he has kept in perpetual chains, [restraints,] under thick darkness, for the judgment of the great day." Jude 6. – Diaglott.
This interpretation seems to meet all the circumstances of the case thus far. Now we inquire, In what way could Jesus preach to these during the time he was dead? We answer that it is not so stated. It was by the facts that he preached, as we sometimes say that "Actions speak louder than words." It was by his sufferings, death and resurrection that the preaching was done. Thus, as Jesus went from step to step in his work, his course was preaching a grand sermon to those angels who once had been placed in control of man, and had themselves fallen instead of lifting up mankind. In Jesus they saw exemplified obedience even unto death, and its reward – resurrection – to spiritual being of the DIVINE NATURE. Such was the great text, and the lesson from it is stated by the Apostle in verse 22, viz., that Jesus was now highly exalted and given a name [title] above every name was "gone into heaven, and is at the right hand of God [position of highest favor]; ANGELS and authorities and powers being made subject to him." They knew Jesus before he left the glory of the heavenly condition and became a man. They knew the object of his self-sacrifice as a man. They saw him obedient even unto death and then his high exaltation came as a reward (Phil. 2:9). They must have felt keenly their loss through disobedience, cut off from communion with God, restrained as unworthy of former liberty and communion with the purer minded of mankind, and their own future an unsolved mystery. We can but imagine that sorrow and chagrin filled their hearts as they contrasted their course of disobedience and its results with Jesus' obedient course and its majestically grand results. We can fancy them saying, Would that we had realized before as fully as we now do the wide contrast between the results of obedience and disobedience. Would that we might have another trial; with our increased knowledge our course would be very different.
A clear distinction should be borne in mind as between Satan and these angels. Satan evidently sinned against great light, so that infinite wisdom finds no place to do more for him. His was not a temptation to sin from bad example in others, as was the case with the "angels who sinned" in the days of Noah, being led into evil by their contact with fallen man, for Satan is the father of lies and was a sinner prior to man's fall, and was man's tempter. With reference to Satan nothing is stated in Scripture to indicate a future trial; but, to the contrary, it is expressly stated that he is to be "destroyed." Heb. 2:14; Rom. 16:20; Rev. 20:10.
Here we start the inquiry: Is it possible that there may be probation for these spirits in prison who were formerly disobedient in the days of Noah, led into sin through man's bad example? We [R697 : page 3] answer that God's loving care over and for man, while we were yet sinners, and his impartiality would lead us to hope that he might as well have some provision for the spirits imprisoned in death. Though because of the different penalties upon the two classes the means of recovery may not necessarily be the same in all particulars: for instance, these angels not being condemned to death need not to be redeemed from death.
If those angels which sinned are to have a future trial – during the Day or age of judgment [or trial], it follows that there is hope for them. If then under the able instruction and assistance of the glorified church they forsake sin and lay hold upon righteousness, they shall be accounted worthy of everlasting life and happiness.
We find but two statements apparently contradictory; the one is (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34; Matt. 8:29), "Art thou come to destroy us before the time?" This shows us that these imprisoned spirits had in mind destruction or torment as their final doom, but it by no means proves that their suppositions were correct, no more than for some of the so-called Orthodox to believe that nine-tenths of humanity will be everlastingly tormented would be a proof of it. The fact is that we find Satan, the master teacher who has taught men to thus blaspheme God's character through misrepresentation of his plans, was the master and chief over these cast-down spirits, and evidently had misrepresented Jehovah's plans to the imprisoned spirits as he has to men. He is the father of lies.
The second text is (Matt. 25:41), "into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." This cannot be used as an argument against a hope for a probation for the imprisoned spirits, for though by force of circumstances and restraint from any other service, they are now, Satan's angels or messengers or servants, yet they may not always be such, IF an opportunity were granted for them to return to God's service and be angels of God. The passage relates to the "lake of fire" or destruction into which at the close of the Millennial age all are to be cast, who are out of harmony with God. Satan will be of those cast into that everlasting destruction, and with him all who do unrighteousness or have pleasure therein – all of whom, spirits or men, are reckoned to be on his side, his angels or messengers – evil doers shall all be cut off from life. To cut off such, and such only, was God's plan from the beginning, for such only, destruction and cutting off from life forever was designed.
The preceding article naturally suggests the inquiry, Will those "spirits in prison," "those angels which kept not their first estate," and who received such a powerful lesson from the ministry death and resurrection of Jesus, ever have any opportunity to profit by the lesson? will they ever have a chance to repent of their sin, to leave Satan's service, and return to loyalty to God?
If at first we thought that the Scriptures were silent on the subject, we have found that to be a mistake, and when God speaks we may reasonably conclude that there is something profitable for us to learn. Hence let us give ear that we may learn whatever our Father deems expedient to communicate.
Jude informs us that those angels (verse 6) which "committed fornication and went after strange flesh" "also" "in like manner" to the Sodomites (verse 7), God is keeping under restraint, their (penalty or punishment) "unto the judgment of the great day." The great day is the Millennial Day and mankind is also waiting for this judgment [krisis – trial]. Peter's testimony is in harmony 2 Pet. 2:4. And Paul settles the matter that these fallen and now imprisoned spiritual beings will have a trial as well as mankind, under the reign of Christ – the Church, the kingdom of God in exalted power. Speaking of the propriety of their deciding earthly difficulties, he says, "Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world?...Know ye not that we shall judge angels?" 1 Cor. 6:1-4. The Greek word here rendered judge, is krino of the same root as krisis rendered judgment in Jude 6 and signifies, to govern; to test; as to mete out to each individual blessings of stripes according to the merit of their course when brought fully into the light of truth, and under all the blessings of the reign of Christ. Hence it is thus seen that it will be a part of the work of the Christ to rule over and direct both human and angelic sinners, "to judge angels" and "to judge the world" of mankind – fallen men restrained unconscious in death, from which they have been redeemed, and fallen spirits restrained alive until this judgment or trial of the Great Millennial Day, when the saints under the headship of Jesus shall try their cause, giving everlasting life and favor to those who shall then prove themselves worthy of it, and everlasting destruction to those unworthy.
Besides we find frequent references to a work Christ is to do in subjecting heavenly or spiritual as well as human powers, when the church which is his body has been selected and the work of judging and blessing commences. For instance we read, Eph. 1:10 "In the dispensation of the fullness of times, to re-establish [under God's dominion and law] all things in Christ [the disordered] things that are in heaven [spiritual] and on earth [human], in him." – Douay translation. Again, "In him it hath well pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell, and through him to reconcile all things unto himself, making peace by the blood of his cross, both as to the things on earth and the things in heaven." (earthly and spiritual transgressors.) Col. 1:20 – Douay.
In Eph. 3:8-10, it is shown that the length and breath of God's redemptive plan has been hidden by God until the Gospel Age, when the Apostles were commissioned to declare to men, the conditions upon which they might become sharers with Jesus in the execution of Gods' loving plans, and that the intent is, ultimately to have all the heavenly or spiritual beings know, through the instrumentality of the Church, the boundless wealth that is in God's great gift – His Son – and the different methods and steps his wisdom marked out for all his creatures. We quote the passage from the Diaglott translation: –
"To me, the very lowest of the saints, was this favor given – To announce among the nations the glad tidings – the BOUNDLESS WEALTH of the anointed one: even to enlighten all as to what is the [method of] administration [or operation] of that secret [plan] which has been concealed from the ages, by that God who created all things; in order that now [henceforth] may be made known to the governments and the authorities in the heavenlies, through [the instrumentality of] the congregation [church] the much-diversified wisdom of God, according to a plan of the ages," "which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord."
It would appear then, that God's bountiful plan and diversified wisdom, contains something of interest to the angels, and if of interest to any, of a special interest to those confined or restrained, and waiting a trial in the judgment of the great day. They see the saints and seek to look into things revealed by the spirit and Word to these, but in no other way can they learn of their future, or of what provision has been made for them in the boundless wealth and diversified wisdom of God, because it is to be "made known," "through the church."
These condemned angels have been learning much since the first text and sermon, (The lesson of Jesus' obedience and exaltation 1 Pet. 3:18-20 and 1 Tim. 3:16) for we read that we are made a spectacle to the world – both to angels and to men." (1 Cor. 4:9 – Diaglott.) The spectacle and lesson is both to men and angels for the reason that both men and angels will shortly be judged by the church and blessed by it, if found obedient and worthy of life. When the testimony in due time is given, all things, both in heaven (the spiritual condition) and on earth (the human) shall bow to Jehovah's anointed and confess him their Lord and Ruler and those who refuse his righteous authority shall be cut off as unworthy of life. Isa. 45:23; Rom. 14:11; Matt. 25; Acts 3:33. [R697 : page 4]
The angels that sinned in the days of Noah have had a bitter experience since; no doubt death would have been preferable in many respects. Cut off from association with good angels and placed in the companionship of each other and Satan without God and having no hope they must have had a terrible experience, with sin's demoralizing effects, while they have witnessed in man its ultimate penalty – death. Surely many of them will be prepared for a return to their former estate and its privileges and blessings, on whatever terms a just God may prescribe.
We cannot forget too their respectful conduct toward Jesus and the Apostles, and the message they delivered; far more respectful indeed than that of the strictest sect of the Jewish church. While the latter scoffed and said, "Is not this Jesus the son of Joseph?" (John 6:42) The former exclaimed "Thou art the Son of God." Mark 3:11. While the former said thou hast a devil and art mad, the latter said, "I know thee who thou art, the HOLY ONE of God." Mark 1:24.
While they respected the true, they opposed the false saying to some who pretended to exercise power – "Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are ye? And the man in whom was the evil spirit was, leaped on them and overcame them." (Acts 19:15.)
The Jews and Gentiles beat and stoned the messengers of God when they came among them with the glad tidings of salvation, but some of these fallen angels seemed desirous of spreading the glad tidings. One followed the Apostles, saying: "These men are the servants of the most high God which show unto us the way of salvation." Acts 16:17.
But now comes an important question, Scripture shows us that our hope centres in the fact that a ransom price for our sins was given by Jesus, but what is the basis of the hope for these fallen angels? On what ground can they have a trial and hope of future everlasting life? Did Jesus die for them?
We answer that Jesus did not die for the angels – the ransom-sacrifice was human, a ransom for men. "Verily he took not on him the nature of angels," etc. (Heb. 2:16.) Furthermore they were not under condemnation of death, hence have never lost their life in any measure and would need no ransom from death, when they were not in, nor condemned to it. It was because DEATH had passed upon all men and they never could obtain life without, that Jesus' ransom was necessary in order that we might regain life. Those angels which kept not their first estate, were condemned, not to death, but to restraint and confinement, until a day of trial, when God will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained. (Acts 17:31.) They are therefore undergoing their penalty as truly as man is suffering his, though they be very different in kind – "according to the much diversified wisdom of God."
And yet they had a great interest in Jesus' work, for though they were not being redeemed or bought by the precious blood, as was man, yet it was this Jesus, the Redeemer of men, who on account of this work, would be accounted worthy of high exaltation to the divine nature, and given all power in heaven as well as in earth. In the exercise of which power in heaven (or among spiritual beings) they may hope for their day of trial to come, when they as well as men may be released from the dominion of Satan.
Again, if we have the correct view of the matter, that these angels cast down, had been tempted and seduced by evil in men, which had become very great (Gen. 6:5) then we see how the reconciliation accomplished by the blood of the cross would apply to and cancel all guilt, both direct and indirect, which resulted from the one man's disobedience. So that now, in the words of the Apostle, "It pleased the Father...having made peace [propitiation-satisfaction] by the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself, by him, whether things [out of harmony] in earth, or things in heaven." Col. 1:20.
God's wisdom, and love, and justice decide on what is best, and that decision is his will or law. But strictly speaking only so much of God's will as he expressed to his creatures is law to them. Hence while his laws never conflict, they may be more or less fully expressed on one occasion than on another.
All of God's intelligent creatures are under instruction, being taught those laws which his infinite love, wisdom and justice have enacted for the well-being of all. Though created perfect, each in his plane of being, yet they all lack that scope of knowledge and wisdom which belongs in full measure only to the divine nature of which they are but images. They all lacked experience, hence in giving them instruction in the wisdom and propriety of his laws, it has pleased Jehovah to make an illustration which would manifest and practically exemplify his own character and prove to his creatures the wisdom and righteousness of his laws.
It is evident that the spirit of his law is not to take advantage of some transgressive slip occasioned by lack of experience on the part of his creatures, but that he intends it to apply to the thoughts and intents of the hearts. That this is the real intent of God, we shall see illustrated by his dealings with those who have from lack of knowledge become sinners.
His law in full, as we now see it in the light of His Word, is, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die"; that no being shall be permitted to live, who, when fully informed of God's righteous will, and enabled to obey it, shall not conform thereto; that all such shall be cut off from life. But this is as it may be seen NOW; once it was not so clearly expressed, nor so clearly seen.
To exemplify this law fully, God caused man to be used as an illustration before the extreme penalty was placed upon the angels. So he placed upon him the full extreme penalty of his law – death, KNOWING that through inexperience he would violate that law and come under its penalty. But God purposed to make an illustration to all his creatures of the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the sure consequences, while at the same time his love and wisdom so marked out the plan, that man, the illustration, might not suffer loss, but be fully recovered from the penalty, and be himself blessed by being everlastingly guarded against sin by the lessons learned.
Nor should we forget that God's dealing with man was perfectly just. He had a perfect right to demand perfect obedience from a perfect creature, and the fact that he has not required it at first of the angels, was a FAVOR toward them, permitting them to acquire by observation of mankind, a knowledge of sin and its dire results, before being placed liable to its extreme penalty – death; even as toward man he has displayed his FAVOR also, though in a different manner, viz., through a ransom, and Saviour, and restitution, and future trial for life, more favorable than the first, because of the knowledge of sin and its effects, meanwhile acquired by experience. Let us briefly
Before man was created, the justice, wisdom, love, and power of God held conference on the subject, and devised the plan which has since been developing. The plan was suggested by wisdom and concurred in by the other qualities, the arrangement and execution of it being left in Wisdom's hands.
Wisdom designed to have the largest returns of experience and benefit to man, and the most valuable illustration of God's character to all his creatures, on every plane of being. Accordingly Wisdom said, Let the man come under the control of Justice, Love, and Power, separately, that the force and operation of each may be the more forcibly illustrated. Let Justice first have complete control, let the man be dealt with by the strict law, "Thou shalt not – " "In the day that thou dost...dying thou shalt die." And it was so.
The lesson under Justice has been long and severe, but the lesson must be thorough, so that it shall never need repeating. Men and angels must learn that Justice is relentless, irrevocable and unalterable. Then, too, before it could be realized that the remedy for man lay only in Jehovah and nowhere else, an opportunity was offered for the trial of other methods for his recovery. First, the angels were given rulership, (during the age before the flood), and made a miserable failure, for while man became more and more corrupt himself, his evil influence led to the fall of some of those who had attempted his assistance – "those angels which kept not their first estate."
With the Deluge that order of affairs passed away. Then, under the law, given to one selected nation, another and a different opportunity was offered, to prove to man that even if God should cancel all enmity, or resentment, and receive the world into covenant relations, yet they would require a Restorer so that they could continue in harmony with God, even after being brought back. Hence sacrifices and offerings for sin were instituted, and God treated that nation AS THOUGH original sin and guilt had been removed, and then placed them under law to prove to them their inability (as degenerate creatures) to keep his law without a restitution to perfection – his likeness.
Meanwhile Love stood ready to act at the moment Wisdom should give the word. It would have acted at once but for two reasons; First, it could not oppose or interfere with the action of Justice in condemning man and delivering him over for the execution of the prescribed penalty – death. Secondly, Love might have acknowledged Justice and approved its action by promptly providing a ransom [an equivalent price], but Wisdom objected and would not permit this course at that time, because it saw best to make the lesson complete and thorough.
Hence for over four thousand years Love was not permitted to act, and might only speak in shadowy sacrifices and ceremonies, and more or less obscure promises. But finally when the right time had come, "in due time," "in the fullness of time," Wisdom gave the word and Love began to act in man's relief. The first act was to produce a perfect and sinless man to be a suitable "ransom for all," and it must be one not under the Adamic curse, who would lay down his life for the race, and whose sacrifice would meet all the requirements of justice, and therefore be acceptable as a ransom and propitiation for our sins. And Love's great exhibition was seen in the gift of the grandest, and greatest, and first of all God's creation, who became a man to redeem men, and "they called his name Jesus" when he became a man.
Ah! says one who judges by his own habits and feelings, Now comes Love's victory over Justice. We shall see that God is more loving than severe. Not so, my brother; God is not more loving than severely just, he is perfect in both respects. It will be indeed a victory for Love, but not over Justice. It will be much grander than that. It will prove a victory for both Justice and Love; for it will be gained by Love's paying the price demanded by Justice – a RANSOM, "an equivalent price."
Thus did the love of God magnify the justice and law of God, and "make it honorable," by acknowledging its claims in the payment of the very penalty demanded – man's death (Rom. 5:19).
We need scarcely say, that the love of God so long veiled from sight, was manifested in the gift of his Son to be our Redeemer and Saviour. The record is: "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation [satisfaction or appeasement] for our sins." "IN THIS WAS MANIFESTED THE LOVE OF GOD toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might LIVE through him." (1 Jno. 4:9,10.)
When Love had RANSOMED man, and was ready to reveal itself by restoring mankind to perfection and harmony with God, Wisdom forbade it and declared that a further development of its plan would ultimately enhance Love's glory, and perfect the work: that an interlude must occur [the Gospel age] in which should be selected some from among the redeemed; some sharers in Christ's sufferings and reproach, who should be counted worthy to share his glory, and be his associates in the execution of LOVE'S TRIUMPH in "the restitution of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets."
Power thus far has done almost nothing directly in man's relief. Wisdom forbade it until its due time, hence we see it but feebly expressed save in the resurrection of our Lord and in the miracles, which but shadow forth its coming work.
Now we are living in the day when Power begins to act, not in opposition to Justice, but in harmony with Wisdom, Justice, and Love, in crushing out sin and evil, and in legally removing the penalty of sin and the dominion of evil, cancelled through the ransom paid by Jesus. Oh, blessed day! The Lamb that was slain and redeemed us by his blood is now invested with POWER to restore and bless all whom he bought, and he is now about to take unto himself his great power and shall reign until he hath put all enemies in subjection (Rev. 20:6; and 1 Cor. 15:25).
"A thousand years earth's coming glory,
'Tis the glad time so long foretold,
'Tis the bright morn of Zion's glory
Prophets foresaw in times of old."
Thus God has chosen the plan which most fully and grandly exemplified his unalterable justice and exhibited the exceeding riches of his grace – his love; and in the restoration of man from destruction and death to life and perfection will God's power be illustrated far more forcibly than in man's creation. And as men and angels come to recognize the full fruition of God's plan in the ages to come will they not with one consent exclaim with our brother Paul, as he caught a glimpse of it: O the depths of the riches both of the WISDOM and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind [plan] of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? ....Because out of him, and through him, and for him are all things. To him be the GLORY for ever." (Rom. 11:34,36.)
"NEARNESS of life to the Savior will necessarily involve greatness of love to him. As nearness to the sun increases the temperature of the various planets, so near and intimate communion with Jesus raises the heat of the soul's affections towards him."
"The much-diversified wisdom of God" (Eph. 3:10. Diaglott) which selected one course with reference to men, chose another course with reference to the angels and did not first deliver them over to Justice under the extreme penalty of the law, but pronounced a lesser penalty until they should have learned of evil and its consequences from the example or "spectacle" furnished them in mankind.
But the result of wisdom's course in either case is the same – The angels being perfect, and having had an example of the extreme penalty of the law will be able and doubtless glad to conform to God's law when again offered the opportunity. Man, who experienced the extreme penalty of the law, when restored will be able to appreciate forever good and evil, and to rightly choose that which is good. While both will then be liable to the extreme penalty – death – neither need come under it because of a perfect appreciation. They will then, as God does, love righteousness because it is good and hate unrighteousness because it is wrong.
Though the experience of angels might at first appear less severe than man's, yet when it is remembered that man's dying experience was limited to an average of three-score years and ten, while the angels who sinned experienced over four thousand years of living restraint under Satan's rule, it will generally be conceded that their experience was not less severe than man's.
In view of the great work to be accomplished, how necessary is the elevation of the Christ (head and body) to the DIVINE nature, since his mission is to govern, direct, and bring to perfection, "whosoever will," both of spiritual and human beings. And does not the selection of this class, made different both from angels and men – of the divine nature – illustrate yet further the much diversified wisdom of God, whereby he is able to work all things according to the counsel of his own will?
This parable cannot with any consistency be applied to anything which occurred at the first advent of our Lord. Its location is fixed by the introductory sentence – "When the Son of Man shall come in His GLORY."
Its location is further fixed by the rule of judgment or trial prescribed, viz., works. The positions assigned on the right hand or left, are expressly stated to be because (or inasmuch as) certain works were done or not done. The test of the trial or judgment of the church during the Gospel age is "not works, but faith." By grace are ye saved through FAITH. "Not of works lest any man should boast." "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Mark 16:16.
The reason for this may be readily seen: To test men by works in the Gospel age while under the dominion of the Prince of this world, and greatly crippled by the imperfections of our fallen nature, would be a very unfair standard. Hence, though now works according to our ability must naturally follow faith, our justification and reward are according to our faith, and not according to our works.
In the coming age the circumstances will be very different. With Satan bound, evil and error restrained, the clear light of truth shining, driving away all obscurity, mist, darkness and error, and consequently driving away all room and opportunity for doubt, faith will become the possession of all mankind: all will know the Lord from the least to the greatest. Therefore we may see the reasonableness of the Scripture teaching that the test in the next age will not be faith, which none could then avoid, but works, which under those favorable circumstances should result from the knowledge and opportunities then afforded.
We know of no statement of Scripture relative to the world's trial during the Millennial age, which mentions any other test of approval than that of works. Of course, this will imply and include a previous faith in the ransom. Works will be the test of judgment in that age as faith is the test in this.
Works was the basis of the Law covenant, which with its mediator – Moses, was a shadow or type of the good things coming – the New Covenant and its mediator – Christ. And thus Moses wrote of Christ, saying: "A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren like unto me. Him shall ye hear in all things: and it shall come to pass that every soul [person] that will not hear [heed] that prophet shall be destroyed from among the people. (Acts 3:22,23.) This shows obedience (works) to be the basis of the antitypical covenant – the "New."
The Apocalypse teaches the same lesson regarding the world's trial in the Millennial age, when the present thrones [R701 : page 5] are cast down and the rulership of earth is handed over to the saints, (Rev. 20:4;) when Satan is restrained (ver. 2); when the glorious New Jerusalem (heavenly kingdom) has come to rule the earth in harmony with the laws of heaven; and when the nations are being guided and directed by the light of truth shed abroad from it, (Rev. 21:23,24.) When the books (of Scripture) are opened, and their teachings made clear and plain to all, and another book or record of those worthy of life-everlasting is open for recording the names of those who then shall be the Lord's "sheep," and worthy, as shown in the parable, to enjoy his favor and everlasting life;* when the GREAT WHITE THRONE, representative of purity, justice, fairness and impartiality of the TRIAL, when all the world – small and great shall be tried by Him that sitteth upon the throne, the basis of that judgment or trial is expressly stated in these words, "And they were judged every man according to their works." Rev. 20:13.
In perfect harmony then, is the teaching of Jesus in the parable under consideration. Love and its fruit, good works, will be the ground upon which the sheep of that age will be rewarded; and failure to develop and exercise these, under such favorable circumstances, is the peculiarity of the wayward "goat" class, condemned as unworthy of life – to be cut off – to die. God deems them unworthy of life, and our hearts and minds bow to his all-wise decision, "Every soul which will not hear that prophet shall be destroyed from among the people." Acts 3:23.
Let it not be forgotten that the Millennial trial according to works, and ability of those being tried to render works of merit and approval, is based upon their redemption from the Adamic curse, by Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all. Had it not been for that redemption there never would be a Millennial age of blessing and trial for the dead race. There could have been neither awakening or trial had we not been bought with His precious blood.
Does not the reading of Matt. 25:41, indicate torture in literal fire as the merit of the "goat" class? No, not a word is mentioned about torture. The thought of torture has been added to the statement by some whose theories it fitted, without any authority, except that they infer torture as a result of contact with fire. But fire is not used as a symbol of torture, but of destruction. God under the Law shadows never permitted Israel to torture any creature, though he frequently commanded things and dead carcasses to be burned with fire as a symbol of utter DESTRUCTION. It is this significance that we attach to fire in this verse – destruction. To apply it literally would be out of harmony with the entire parable – the fire is not more literal fire than are the goats literal goats. Everlasting fire then would signify everlasting or non-ending destruction.
Is it true that this fire or DESTRUCTION which will take place at the close of the Millennial age and in which the "goat" class will share – was prepared or designed, for the Devil and his angels? Yes, thus it is written, and so we believe. It is stated in so many words. 1 John 3:8; Heb. 2:14.
"His angels" – the word here translated angels signifies messengers, and the Diaglott so translates it. We do not understand it to refer to those fallen angels now associated with Satan – "Those angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation," etc., (Jude 6) but we apply the word on a more general principle. Satan will be bound at the close of the Gospel age, and all under his control will be released. But those who during the trial of the Millennial age will not become willing and obedient servants of the Lord, are reckoned His adversaries – the messengers and accomplices [angels] of the great adversary, Satan; and into destruction such are cast – the devil and his angels. It was prepared for them. Such, and such only, did God from all eternity design to blot from existence as unworthy the boon of life.
Does the word everlasting in verse 46 indicate that the punishment will last forever? It certainly does. When some one told you that the Greek word aionian, here rendered everlasting, had not such a meaning, but always meant a limited period of time, they misinformed you, and merely applied a definition common to a sect called "Adventists," but nevertheless an error. It is true that the words aion and aionian sometimes are used to refer to a limited period of time – an age, epoch, or lifetime, but it is equally a fact that these words are used sometimes to represent an unlimited or "everlasting" time, and that it is so used in this verse there is no room for question or controversy. It is settled by the use of the same word to the righteous – they go into life EVERLASTING or "aionian" – the same Greek word being used. This fact is obscured in the common version by reason of the translators having used a different English word – eternal. The passage declares the same length of punishment (destruction, as shown above) to the goat class, as of reward to the righteous sheep, and if Adventists and Universalists claim that aionian here always means a limited period, they should, to be consistent, hope only for a life of limited duration for the righteous, since the same Greek word is used in reference to both.
Is it true that the word "cursed" in verse 41 in the original Greek means merely unblessed or less blessed?
By no means; the Greek word here translated cursed is kataraomai. It signifies the very opposite of blessing; it signifies a curse in the sense usually understood in the English. Webster defines cursed thus: Deserving a curse; execrable; hateful; detestable; abominable. Apply any of these synonyms in the place of cursed in the language of the text and see what kind of a blessing it would be. The same Greek word is used with reference to the cursed fig tree in Mark 11:21. Also in Luke 6:28, Rom. 12:14 and James 3:9. And the same root word, katara, is used three times with reference to the original curse or condemnation resting upon all who failed to keep perfectly the requirements of the law of God in Gal. 3:10-13. If the curse lifted by Jesus' death was severe, then the curse imposed by him upon those called "goats" in the parable, is severe, and in no sense a blessing. As a matter of fact, the first curse which came upon all men through Adam's disobedience was death – cutting off from life – and to purchase for man a right to live again, Jesus needed to be and was "made a curse for us" – cut off from life, treated as the sinner, as our substitute, that we might be restored to life and made the righteousness of God through him. (2 Cor. 5:21.) If, then, the Adamic death was a curse from which none could be released without a Redeemer, what must it imply to receive the curse again, and from the lips of the Redeemer? It implies, what other Scriptures state, that those who shall refuse to hear and heed that Prophet shall be cut off. The fact that he who redeemed and will bless by bringing all to a knowledge of the truth, with full opportunity for life everlasting, will be the one to say "Depart ye cursed" declares plainly that their trial will then be ended. He redeemed from the curse once, but "Christ dieth no more." (Rom. 6:9.)
"I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." John 11:26.
These were Jesus' words of consolation to Martha. They state briefly man's future hopes in, and because of the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Let us analyze the statement, and, if possible, gain its full import.
The first statement – "He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live," teaches that only believers shall be resurrected – made to "LIVE." This may appear out of harmony with other statements of our Lord to the effect that ALL in their graves shall "come forth," until we recognize the full force of the words, RESURRECTION and LIVE. We have heretofore shown that the word resurrect signifies to lift or raise up again to perfection, and that since man's fall was from perfection, as represented in Adam, his resurrection would imply a bringing to perfection again. But many Scriptures indicate that while the gospel Church will be lifted to the perfection of the new nature in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the world will be resurrected, or brought to perfection of their human nature, gradually, the entire Millennial age being the times of resurrection, or restoration.
Now, we shall find in the scripture under consideration, that by recognizing a similar fullness of meaning in the word "LIVE," we have the statement clear and easily understood, and in harmony with all other Scriptures.
To LIVE means a great deal, in its full import. Adam and Eve lived, i.e., had life in perfect measure, before sin entered. When death entered and the dying commenced, it was a process of ceasing to live – so death, the opposite of life passed upon all men. Hence, looked at from God's standpoint, all are dead, and none alive. (2 Cor. 5:14; Matt. 8:22.) So then though it is true that all in their graves shall "come forth," they will come forth with a small measure of life, such as men now have, still measurably in death. [The most hale of the race today, enjoy but a fragment of perfect life,] in which condition all shall come to a knowledge of the truth, and whosoever believeth in the Ransomer though dead, "yet shall he LIVE." Belief in the ransom being necessary to the full acquirement of the favor purchased – LIFE.
In perfect accord with this view (and no other) is that peculiar statement of John 5:25: Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall LIVE." [Sinaitic MS. omits "and now is" in this text.] According to the general conception this should read, they that live shall hear, but this would not have been in harmony with the plan, – not true; hence the peculiar and guarded expression used, only appreciable as we come to see more deeply into God's plans for that coming age. All are dead – under death's dominion – it has passed upon all. The Redeemer has come, the ransom has been paid, and in due time all the dead shall hear [be brought to a clear conception of it] and they that hear [receive, or grasp it] shall [in due time] LIVE, reach perfection of life – being. A few who were of the dead class, have heard more or less distinctly in this age of the ransom price given for our release. Those who have heard it, could also AFTERWARD HEAR, of a prize or high calling [R697 : page 6] being offered during the Gospel age to believing sacrificers, and thus have "access into THIS GRACE, wherein we stand and rejoice in hope of the GLORY of God." But the due time in which the great mass of the dead shall hear, will be when the "little flock" has attained the glory, and as Members of the great Prophet shall teach and bless the people, bringing them out of their graves or opening sin-blinded eyes and prejudice-stopped ears, as it is written. (Isa. 35:5.)
In the light of the previous statement, this one becomes very clear and simple. It is the Lord's assurance that any who reach the condition of LIFE, may retain it forever, if they shall forever continue believers. It is the promise of Everlasting Life.
"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." – 2 Cor. 5:1.
This is a blessed and comforting assurance to those consecrated saints who in fulfilling their covenant of self-sacrifice, realize daily that the "earthly house," or "earthen vessel" is dissolving. Such have a building of God [a new or spiritual body prepared for them] eternal in the heavens. But, this Scripture is only applicable to those who by sacrifice of the human nature have become "new creatures" – partakers of the divine nature.
To this class, the human body has become, as it were, a house or temporary dwelling place for the new mind, the begotten new creature. Of the world this is not true; they are not new creatures, and the body is part of themselves and not a house. They have no new nature to maintain in the human conditions for a time, nor are they ever to be clothed with a heavenly, the spiritual body.
The world is in due time to be delivered from its present bondage to sin and death, into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, i.e., into freedom from corruption (death), but not to the spiritual nature and body. Their hope is restitution to human perfection, while that of the Church is the completion of our change of nature from human to spiritual. Our new nature, is burdened by the frailties and imperfections of the human and longs for full perfection as a new creature, remembering that the full fellowship of the Lord cannot be obtained before that change. Hence walking by faith we long for the house from heaven, a spiritual body adapted to the desires, etc., of the new mind. "In this tabernacle [or house] we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven."
"For, we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life." The unclothed or death condition, [R702 : page 6] is not desirable though the majority of the Church had to remain in that condition for many years. Paul, when ready to be offered, must wait for the crown laid up for him, but not to be received until the day of Christ's appearing. (2 Tim. 4:8.)
"Now he that hath wrought us for this self-same thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the spirit." We are begotten of God for the very purpose of being developed and born into the spiritual likeness, and the fact that we now realize that we have his spirit [leading us to sacrifice the earthly] is evidence that in due time we shall be born in the spiritual likeness – made like unto Christ's glorious body.
It is now, the privilege of the saints to be ushered into the presence of the Lord as soon as the earthly body is laid down, as we read, "Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord from henceforth." (Rev. 14:13. See TOWER for April 1883.)
Though this was the thing desired by all the saints during this age, it was not the privilege of any until this time of the Lord's presence. But it was the privilege of all to be always confident, knowing that after the earthly house should be dissolved – in God's due time, they should be clothed upon with the heavenly house, the spiritual body, swallowed up of life. Amen, so let it be.
"And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force." Matt. 11:12.
There is to-day more of what is commonly considered Gospel preaching than at any previous time in the world's history. From thousands of pulpits it is heard twice every Lord's day, and again at the mid-week meetings, while thousands of printing presses are preaching through weekly and monthly periodicals, and millions of tracts, pamphlets, and books. And added to all this, there are the extra efforts of what are termed lay-evangelists, Christian associations, salvation armies, etc.
But as we listen to the many, many voices, we hear sounds strangely out of harmony with the commission of the great Head of the church, whose leading these all profess to follow. It would seem that if the commission was ever heard by this great army of preachers, it must have been forgotten. What was it? Hearken again to the Master's voice: "Go...and as ye go, preach, saying, The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." (Matt. 10:6,7.) And again "Let the dead bury their dead; but go thou and preach the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:60). And the Lord's disciples are taught also not only to preach – to publicly proclaim the coming of the kingdom of God, but to pray for it, saying: "Thy kingdom come – thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven."
If that prayer is ever to be answered – and it certainly will be, since he who dictated it could not err, and would not teach us to ask for anything out of harmony with Jehovah's will – then there will come a time, when the kingdom of God will be actually SET UP in the earth, and when as a consequence of the setting up of that kingdom, His will shall be done ON EARTH, even as it is done in heaven. You who have so frequently declared your firm belief in answer to prayer, do you believe this? Shall not this united prayer of all the saints for nearly nineteen centuries past, dictated by the unerring wisdom of our Lord, be answered? Most assuredly it will.
The coming of the kingdom of God, and the things pertaining to that kingdom – the death of Christ as the necessary preliminary work to its introduction, and the resurrection of Christ, the assurance and pledge of it, was the great theme of the Apostles' preaching, and the inspiring hope of the early church.
When John the Baptist came preaching repentance, it was with the strong incentive, never before offered, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." Jesus preached the same truth, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." And this was the spirit of the teaching of all the Apostles. Men generally desire to be in favor with the ruling power, and the coming kingdom of heaven meant a coming reign of righteousness, wherein the righteous would prosper and the wicked would be punished. If the kingdom was at hand, then how natural and proper to urge it as an incentive to repentance and righteousness.
Ever since the fall repentance had been preached: but none before John were commissioned to preach the kingdom of God at hand, and other truths relative to it. This is the Gospel, the good news not made known in other ages. As Jesus said, "The law and the prophets were until John; since that time the kingdom of God is preached" [Sinaitic MS. omits with evident propriety the words "and every man presseth into it."] But the law and the prophets though shadowing forth and foretelling the coming kingdom, could never be clearly understood until the Gospel unraveled their mysteries.
Was it in any sense a fact, that the kingdom of heaven was at hand in John's day? Nearly nineteen centuries have passed since, and still the powers of darkness reign and the kingdom of heaven is not yet SET UP. Still the wicked flourish and the righteous are oppressed. If we consider the expression as referring to the setting up of the kingdom in power and glory, it was true, and Jesus' words in John 16:16 will help us to understand the statement. To his disciples, when about to leave them, he said, "A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while and ye shall see me;" and the little while has been the entire Gospel age.
Ah yes, it is a little while from God's standpoint, with whom a thousand years is but as one day. (2 Pet. 3:8). From God's standpoint, and we are invited to take the same position of observation, it was but a "little while" to the second advent of Christ and the establishment of his kingdom. The kingdom was just at hand, and the king about to be anointed for his glorious reign. And if this was true in John's day, how emphatically true is it at the present time to which the prophecies point as the hour that just precedes the dawn of the glorious day of that reign! Jesus did not explain to the early Church just how long God's "little while" should be, as it would have seemed a very long time to them.
But it would seem that in some sense, the kingdom of heaven had an existence in John's day; for Jesus said, "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force." Since the kingdom when set up cannot suffer, but must reign triumphantly, we conclude that the text refers to those elements of the kingdom in existence, and being developed during this age.
In John's day, Jesus, the Lord's anointed, was present, and he and the few disciples who then received him as their Lord, were then the only elements of the kingdom; but during the Gospel age others have become subject to him; and his reign of righteousness has been over them to mould and fashion them according to the divine will. So far as the imperfections of the flesh permit, God's will is done by these as it is done in heaven. It should be clearly manifest that none but those who are entirely consecrated to God, are of this kingdom, though many claim to be and think they are of it, who do not claim entire consecration.
The subjects of Christ, the heavenly king, hearken to, and obey his voice. They do not turn every man to his own way and plan regardless of the Commander's instructions, though the command is to march through danger, privations, loss and suffering. But to those who recognize Jesus as king and become subject to him before his glory and power are manifested, there are exceeding great and precious promises, to be realized when his kingdom is set up. They shall be accounted worthy to reign with him. It was to give to this class the privilege of suffering and as a result, of reigning with Christ, that the kingdom began to be preached so long before it was to be actually SET UP or established in power.
Of this class only, are our Lord's words first quoted true. These suffer violence at the hands of the present reigning power of this world – Satan, and the subjects of his kingdom, and the pages of history from the days of John the Baptist until now, present the dark record of the violence suffered by those who are of the kingdom of heaven.
Violence persecuted and crucified our King, stoned Stephen his faithful martyr, beheaded Paul, crucified Peter, roasted others by fire, tossed them on piercing forks, and heaped upon them every indignity that fiendish wickedness could devise. And even in these days, when the "salt of the earth" (See July issue) has to some extent purified human society, and counteracted the terrible influence of Satan's reign, still the kingdom of heaven suffers violence. Their names are cast out as evil, they are despised and rejected; their business interests suffer, and they are counted as fools and fanatics. The violent take the kingdom by force – With overwhelming force of numbers and wealth they subdue the little handful of the saints, trample and crush their influence, and hinder the progress and spread of the heavenly kingdom. Thus by the dominion of evil, is made possible for the Church, a baptism into suffering, even unto death. [R703 : page 6]
But is this all so, because the Heavenly King lacks the power, and is unable to bring victory to his faithful followers? This reminds us of the words of Jesus when about to perform the symbol of his death – "Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us [himself and his church] to fulfill all righteousness" – the righteousness of God's law which required this sacrifice.
God is able, and will bring victory to the tried and faithful few who have been loyal subjects of his kingdom in these stormy times. These we are told are to be kings, and priests, and joint-heirs of the throne with Jesus Christ, when in due time the kingdom of heaven is SET UP – placed in control. Though the violent prince of this world lays them all low in death, the power of the Almighty will bring them forth to certain victory.
Other children of God, preceding the day of John the Baptist, suffered in like manner as those who have suffered since. But notice, Jesus does not say, From the days of John the Baptist the children of God suffer violence, but the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence. Then those children of God who lived before that time were not of that kingdom to which Jesus referred – the kingdom of Christ. How could they be, when as yet there was no king anointed?
The kingdom of heaven then began to have an existence when Jesus was anointed to be the King – at the time of his Baptism – "in the days of John the Baptist," after which time as John said, he began to decrease (in influence) and Christ to increase. Though ever since then, his kingdom has been in existence, yet this has been the time of its humiliation and affliction; its littleness and poverty have made it the subject of contempt and ridicule, while its unwavering opposition to the spirit of the world, has incurred their hatred and persecution.
So it was also true in John's day that the kingdom of heaven was then at hand – about to come in the sense mentioned. But to-day it is true in a still more glorious sense; for the time for the setting up and exaltation of the kingdom is at hand. The prayer of these loyal subjects henceforth to be joint-heirs of the throne with Jesus, the king, is about to be answered. His kingdom is just about to come, in its glory and power, and the blessed outcome of the victory of that kingdom, will be, that God's will shall be done in earth as it is done in heaven.
If then, we would be faithful to him who has called us to preach, let us see to it that we preach the Gospel (good news) of the kingdom, and that we be not diverted from it by any side issues. The kingdom, and things pertaining to the kingdom – its character, its permanence, its sure foundation, its blessed influence, and the cheering and inspiring fact that its setting up in glory and power is just at hand, should be the theme of every true servant of God. And if we have been faithful disciples of the Master we cannot be ignorant of these things, and if we know them how can we refrain from telling them. "Go ...and as ye go preach, saying, the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN is at hand."
A most remarkable religious movement is in progress among the Jews in Southern Russia. It is nothing more nor less than the establishment of Jewish-Christian congregations among the Jews, which are to be in connection with none of the Christian religious communions as at present existing, but are to constitute a peculiar Christian association in close connection with Jewish customs and manners, and with the rejection of all Gentile-Christian dogmas. The soul of the movement is a Jewish [R703 : page 7] lawyer, Joseph Rabinowitz, a man of high reputation among his people. For many years the social and religious status of his people has been an object of deep concern to him, and in 1880 he published a program in which he advocated a complete reorganization of the Rabbinical system. He was further active in the work of a society for the promotion of agriculture among the Jews of Southern Russia; and during the days of persecution in 1882 earnestly advocated the return of his people to Palestine. During that period the change in his religious convictions took place. It was not the result of Christian mission work, nor is he a convert in the ordinary sense of the word. The change was gradually effected, and only after long deliberation did the thought of organizing Christian congregations of the Jewish nationality assume maturity in his mind. After his return from Palestine his conviction was: "The key to the Holy Land lies in the hands of our brother Jesus." In the words "Jesus our Brother" lies the kernel of his religious views. His work has been successful, and now there are no less than two hundred families adhering to this new Jewish Christianity, and recently the Pesach festival was celebrated in accordance with the liturgy drawn up by Rabinowitz.
Prof. Franz Delitzsch, of Leipzig, the leader of Jewish missions in Germany and editor of the Saat auf Hofnung, a quarterly devoted to this work, has just published a pamphlet of about seventy-five pages on this new religious development, the largest space in which is occupied by original documents, in both the Hebrew and the German translation, on this movement. These documents embrace thirteen theses: a confession of Faith of the National Jewish Church of the New Testaments; an Explanation of the Faith in the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, in the sense of this congregation; a Haggada for the Israelites believing on the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth; and, finally, an Order of the Lord's Supper. As appendices are added a declaration of a teacher, Friedmann, to the Jewish believers in Christ, and a declaration adopted by a conference of the latter, held in March of the present year in Kischinew. The little pamphlet thus contains all the materials for a study of the new movement, as these are all original documents by its advocates.
The theses, which are to be regarded as the basis of the new faith, start out with the deplorable state of the Jews in Russia, and maintain that the endeavors at improvement on the part of the Jews themselves have proved futile. "There is need of a deep and inner moral renewal, of a spiritual regeneration. We must cast aside our false gods, the love of money as such, and in the room thereof must establish in our hearts a home for the love of truth as such, and for the fear of evil as such." For this, however, a leader is necessary. Who is he to be? In Israel none can be found. "The man who possesses all the qualifications of a leader – love of Israel, sacrificing of life, pureness, deep knowledge of human nature, earnestness in the exposal of the sins and evils of his people – we have, after careful research in all the books of the history of our people, found only in one man, in Jesus of Nazareth." The wise Israelites in his day could not understand him; "but we, in the present year (5644) can say with a certainty that he, Jesus, he alone has sought the welfare of his brethren. Therefore we should sanctify the name of our brother Jesus." "We should receive the gospel books into our houses as a blessing, and unite them with all the Holy Scriptures which were handed down to us by our wise men." The last thesis reads: "We hope confidently that the words of our brother Jesus will bring us, as fruit, righteousness and salvation; and then the hearts of the people and the government will be turned to us in friendship, we shall have life and prosperity like other nations who live in safety under the shadow of European laws, framed in the spirit of our brother, who has given his life in order to make the world happy and remove evil from the earth! Amen."
The rest of these documents are in the same vein, and all show that the movement is, as yet, guided by an undefined and crude idea. The Jewish character is stamped on its brow; but who will deny that great possibilities lie, in germ, in it? It will, doubtless, be wise to heed Delitzsch's admonition to withhold judgment for the present and await further developments. He closes his preface to his pamphlet with the words, "Spoil it not. There is a blessing in it." – N.Y. Independent.
Bishop Titcomb, of the English church in Northern and Central Europe, in a letter to the London Times, mentions this same movement, and gives the following as one of the most noteworthy of a series of articles of faith which they have drawn up:
"According to the decree of the inscrutable wisdom of God, our fathers were filled with hardness of heart, and the Lord punished them with the spirit of deep sleep, so that they opposed Jesus Christ and sinned against him until the present day. But by their unbelief they led other nations to greater zeal, and they thus contributed to the propitiation of mankind, who have believed in Jesus Christ, the son of David, our king, when they heard the good tidings through the peace-promising messengers (Isaiah 52:7), who had been disgracefully expelled from communion with Israel. In consequence, however, of this our sin against the Christ of God, the world has grown rich by its faith in Christ, and the nations in fullness have entered the kingdom of God. Now, too, the time of our fullness has also come, and we, the seed of Abraham, are to be blessed by our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; and the God of our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, will take pity upon us and replant the branches which have been torn out, into our own Holy Root – Jesus. And thus all Israel shall share the eternal salvation, and Jerusalem, our Holy City, shall be rebuilt and the throne of David be reestablished forever and evermore."
For the time past...may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles...wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them ...speaking evil of you....For this cause the gospel was preached also, to them that are dead, that they might be judged, according to men – in the flesh, but according to God in the Spirit. – 1 Pet. 4:3-6.
Our explanation of the above Scripture is asked. We understand verse 5 to be a parenthesis, and hence in arriving at the direct chain of the Apostle's argument, it should be for the time ignored. To bring the important points of the argument closer together, we have arranged the quotation as above.
The consecrated child of God has not only realized justification from sin through Jesus' imputed righteousness, but in his consecration he has given up – sacrificed – his justified human nature, and henceforth, according to God's instruction, he reckons himself no longer of the human nature, but a "new creature in Christ Jesus," a partaker "of the divine nature." And God so reckons him.
Hence God judges of such, not according to the flesh, but according to their spirit or mind, and as new creatures, spiritual; while by men this class is misunderstood, for they think of you as of other men – in the flesh – and hence think strange that you are not controlled by the same desires and ambition as themselves.
It was to produce this very distinction in you that the gospel was preached to you, who are dead to the world, that you might have Christ formed within you – his mind and principles, and that thus you might be so different from the world, that they, not appreciating the real cause of the change, but still regarding you as "of the fleshy nature," may think strange of you and misconstrue your motives, and hate you, and buffet you, and thus try you and make you meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. Nevertheless, remember that God recognizes you as a new creature, and will judge of all your course accordingly. You may know then, that your faith and patience he will appreciate, and that "your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
A subscriber sends us the following extract from a paper, which attempts to demolish Peter's statement, that following our Lord's second advent there will be "times of RESTITUTION of all things, spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began, (Acts 3:21). It says:
"Now the trouble about all this is found in the fact that such teachers as John the Baptist and our Lord appear to have known nothing about this "second chance." John's text was "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." He spoke of the ax being laid at the root of the tree. He referred to One coming with a fan in his hand, gathering the wheat into his garner, but burning the chaff. Jesus took the same text, and indorsed the doctrines of John most positively. In his parable about Dives and Lazarus nothing appears looking to a "second chance": and, in the sentence pronounced in the Judgment scene, nothing favors the theory in question. One of two things is very certain: either Jesus and John knew nothing of probation after death, or if they did, they trifled with their hearers; for nobody who heard them preach, had any other impression than that now was the accepted time, and to-day the day of salvation."
If a man should pick up an almanac and read throughout, its description of the weather to be expected from January to December, and should apply all its predictions of frost, hail, snow, rain, and thunderstorms to a single July day he would obtain but an imperfect idea of the kind of weather to be expected. Yet not more mixed than this seems the indiscriminate use of Scripture statements by the writer of the above and others. Truths concerning the next age are mixed with those of the past and present, and the result is great confusion, and a selection of such parts from all as will best suit preconceived ideas. We cannot suppose that a man who had the first idea of what the symbols – ax, tree, garner, chaff, wheat, fan, etc., mean would apply them as they are used above, or blend them in any way with the parable of Dives and the Judgment scene of Matt. 25.
Both our Lord and John were speaking of the Jewish polity, when they compared it to a tree at whose root lay an ax. The end of special favor to that nation had about come, and if in the little while of Jesus' ministry they should fail to bring forth good fruit, they would be cut off from the root of promise, and believers from the Gentiles would be grafted in instead, (Rom. 11:17). It was the harvest time; for their age had reached its full. Jesus was present to select with his "fan" of truth, the wheat from among the chaff and "garner" it in the Gospel age, while a time of "fire" or tribulation came upon the chaff remainder of the nation, and as a nation, burned them up.
Dives, a representative, in parable, of that people, so long peculiarly favored of God, faring sumptuously every day of God's special favors, has for some time been looking longingly for aid to the Gentile whom once he despised, but who now has been exalted to favor – Abraham's Bosom – and though once wild and ungoverned, has become the favored branch out of the Abrahamic olive root of promise.
The Judgment scene referred to (Matt. 25), is the only point which bears at all upon the question of "second chance." It applies to the Millennial age, and is clearly described as being after the Lord has come the second time and established his kingdom (church) in power and great glory. Then the nations shall be judged or tried and rewarded, (Matt. 25:32.) When that scene has transpired, there will assuredly be no hope of further trial – no further chance.
Our Lord certainly knew that because of one man's transgression, sin and death had passed upon all men (Rom. 5:16,18), consequently man's FIRST CHANCE in Eden had resulted in total loss. He failed and lost all in the first chance, being tried representatively in Adam. All were condemned. That Jesus knew this, and came into the world to redeem all men in order that all men might have a SECOND CHANCE, is clear, from his statement that he came "to seek and to save that which was lost."
Who can reasonably dispute that the opportunity which comes through Jesus is a second chance? You and I had nothing whatever to do in the first chance of life offered to the race; we have to do only with the second. If then, you and I, fellow-believers, got our present or second chance of life through the ransom that Jesus gave for our sins, redeeming us from the first loss, shall we say that he was a ransom only for the small minority of mankind who have thus far heard of it and believed? or shall we conclude that "He is the propitiation [satisfaction or covering] for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the WHOLE WORLD"? (1 Jno. 2:2.)
Accepting this as the truth, is it not absolutely certain that the nine-tenths who have not yet heard, and hence not yet had the "second chance" Jesus' death was designed to provide, will surely have it in God's due time? Is not this fact clearly stated by the Apostle Paul when he says that Jesus "gave himself a RANSOM [equivalent price] for ALL, to be testified in due time"?
The gospel age now closing is not the world's due time; it is the time appointed for the selection or election of a little flock out from the world, who, with Jesus, shall soon take (the "purchased possession") the dominion of earth out of the hands of Satan, the present "Prince," and give judgment or trial to the world – its second trial – the great blessing so long promised. The great Prophet shall, in that Millennial day, speak to the people, and "they that hear shall live," becoming his sheep and coming to his right hand of favor; all others, as willful goats, being cut off, (Acts 3:22,23.) And none claim more strenuously than we, that now is the acceptable time. That the Gospel Age is a special season, during which the Christ – the world's deliverer shall be selected, proved and fitted for their great work as the Seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:29) to bless all the families of the earth. Now is the only time to secure this high calling. Now is the time of sacrifice, the only time when such sacrifices are acceptable to the Lord.
If our charter is granted in a few days as we expect, voting certificates will at once be issued to all whose donations to the Society's funds shall aggregate Ten Dollars or more. Each ten dollar donation representing one voting share according to our charter.
A few have evidently misunderstood the matter of obtaining a Charter and feared it was either an attempt to obtain protection or recognition, from a government of this world; or an evidence of lack of trust that God could and would carry forward his own work no matter who lived or died.
These are mistaken ideas. While we trust fully to the Lord's care of His own cause, it is our duty to so arrange our affairs and His, that in case of one death it would not require miraculous interposition to prevent disputes, and law suits from swamping the Society and annoying our successors in its management. So far as the Government is concerned we ask only those rights which it accords to aliens as well as citizens. And a charter such as we are asking for is such a right; it brings us under no obligation whatever.
The doctrine of atonement and reconciliation to God by the death of Christ implies that it was his death which constituted the reconciling act. It must be conceded that if the natural death of Jesus on the cross paid the penalty, then it was natural life only that man forfeited by disobedience. If both of these claims be true, then all men, according to Scripture, were, on the death of Christ, at some time entitled to a resurrection. Now, in the light of these facts, we should desire an explanation by substitutionists of 1 Cor. 15:17-18. There the Apostle is credited with saying: "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished." If the doctrine of substitution be true, these two verses cannot be. If, as is claimed, the death of Christ paid man's penalty, then, whether Christ be raised or not, man could not justly be in his sins. Moreover, if Christ's death entitled man to a resurrection, and this, substitutionists claim, then neither those in Christ nor out of him could have perished because of having previously fallen asleep.– Day Star.
The force of this expression, "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins: then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished," lies in the fact that if Christ was not raised, he was dead, and could have no power to bless the families of earth, as he had purposed. The death of Christ as purchasing mankind, would still be a grand expression of his love, even though he had never arisen from the dead to dispense the blessings which his ransom-sacrifice gave the right to bestow; for "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." But it would have been waste and loss to purchase us had he not had in view a resurrection, which would enable him to bless those bought.
But again, according to the types of the sin-offering, If the High Priest performed his sacrifice in a manner acceptable, so that its sweet perfume filled the Most Holy, then he should LIVE beyond the vail and could come forth to bless those for whose sin he had made sacrifice; and if he lived not, it was an evidence that his sacrifice for sins had not been properly done, and was not acceptable to Jehovah, and no blessing nor remission of sins could come from such a sacrifice.
Thus seen, Paul's argument is this: Christian friends, you occupy an unreasonable, a ridiculous position when you say (verse 12) that a resurrection of the dead is an impossibility. If it is an impossibility, then is Christ not risen: and if so, why do you talk about being forgiven your sins and having hopes through him for the future? A dead Christ – one not raised from death – can never bless you; wherefore, if you accept the good news of redemption and blessing through Christ, be consistent and admit also a resurrection of Christ and the resurrection for all through him.
Jesus' work for mankind is greater and grander than some seem able to grasp. He bought us with his own precious blood – substituting himself as a man for the race of men, tasting death for every man. But this purchase of mankind was only a means to an end – he bought the race that (in due time) he might have the legal right to RESTORE it to perfection. Hence, both the death of Christ was necessary for our purchase, and his resurrection was essential to the carrying out of the blessed plan for our restoration to harmony with Jehovah.
Other statements of the same Apostle prove that he recognized fully the necessity both of the death to purchase and of the resurrection to confer the blessing upon those purchased. He says of Jesus, "Who was delivered [into death] for our offences, and was raised again for our justification" – i.e., in order that he might justify us. (Rom. 4:25.) And again, "If while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the DEATH of his Son, much more [easily believed, is the promise that] being reconciled we shall be saved [recovered fully, from the imperfections and penalties of sin] by his life." (Rom. 5:10.)
It was impossible for the Apostle, as well as for us, to state every feature of the plan at once; hence, in treating of the resurrection in the passage above cited by our contemporary, he does not allude to the value of the death of Christ. But blind indeed must be the reader, if he has not seen that Paul and every other Apostle and prophet laid great stress upon the death of Christ as a ransom for all, the only BASIS of hope for blessings through him.
Here let us remind our readers that those who deny that Jesus "gave himself a ransom for all" should give some reason for his death – an adequate reason for so great an event. To say that he died as we die, because of sin and imperfection, is to deny the testimony of Scripture, that he was holy, harmless and separate from sinners, and had no cause of death in him. To claim that he died merely as our example (to show us how to die?) is to furnish an inadequate reason, for there are many noble examples furnished in Scripture of those who laid down their lives for the truth. (Heb. 11:37,38).
The only adequate reason for Jesus' death is repeated over and over again in Scripture, viz.: that we being condemned to death, he took our nature that he might "taste death for every man." "He died for our sins," "redeemed" us, "purchased" us, "bought us," giving himself "a ransom [equivalent price] for all."
Read the article headed "Col. Ingersoll Catechized." Somehow I can not help feeling an interest in these honest, earnest, truth-seeking men far above what I can for the bigoted and superstitious upholders of orthodoxy. We believe much in common, and I can not help but respect such men as Putman, Ingersoll, and Chainey more than many of the preachers in Babylon. They show more candor, firmness and honesty. They are more noble. They manifest a better spirit, yes, such as Christians might well imitate. Notice Ingersoll's reply to the question, "Do you consider that churches are injurious to the community?"
I don't know whether it would be prudent for you to publish the article referred to in Z.W.T., but I feel as though I would like every one of its readers to see it – knowing how they would appreciate the jewels of truth with which it abounds.
Truly, these are trying times for the Christian blinded by the creeds. I cannot see how any of them who will think, investigate, and read, can escape infidelity. They can't answer it from their standpoint.
How glad I am that my eyes were opened in time, else certainly such men as Ingersoll could have converted me to infidelity. The only safety for the intelligent church member is his bigotry and blindness. It keeps him orthodox, but as WE see orthodoxy, it is little better than infidelity. In fact both are the result of Spiritual blindness. I guess the blindest of the two and the most bigoted, is the stickler for orthodoxy.
Since my return from our pleasant visit with you, I have betimes felt homesick. I long to behold him in glory. I long for the reign of him who will scatter darkness and ignorance, and bless all with truth.
I have written in haste. "Mid scenes of confusion and creature complaints, How sweet to my soul is communion with saints."
We clip the paragraph referred to by our brother from the published interview between Mr. Ingersoll and the Editor of the San Franciscan. This is a fair sample of the spirit of the entire interview: –
Ingersoll: – In the exact proportion that churches teach falsehood; in the exact proportion that they destroy liberty of the thought, free action of the human mind; in the exact proportion that they teach the doctrine of eternal pain, and convince people of its truth – they are injurious. In the proportion that they teach morality and justice and practice kindness and charity – in that proportion they are a benefit. Every church, therefore, is a mixed problem – part good and part bad. In one direction it leads towards and sheds light; in the other direction its influence is entirely bad.
Now I would like to civilize the churches so that they would be able to do good deeds without building bad creeds. In other words, take out the superstitious and the miraculous, and leave the human and the moral."
The following letter from another of this class, shows how the spirit of candor and reasonableness is appreciated. And we rejoice to know that others of doubtful hearts have been and are being led through careful study of the harmonious plan of God, as we now see it, to exclaim with us "My Lord and my God," and to trust in his precious promises. We wait with patience the promised hour when all the doubting Thomases will be given tangible evidence of the truth of God.
Behold we bring good tidings of GREAT JOY which shall be to ALL PEOPLE.
C. T. RUSSELL: – Dear Sir: – My wife is a subscriber to your "Watch Tower." I am a free thinker: But I want to thank you for the impartial way in which you have treated your opponent Col. Ingersoll, in the issue of this month. You have done what I have never before seen in a religious journal – before passing criticism on what Col. Ingersoll said in his lecture on "Orthodoxy," you have squarely, honestly and in a manly way printed what he said, and for this act of fairness, I for one wish to express my thanks. I am sir,
Truth is truth, from whatsoever source it may come; and he who loves and cherishes the fragments which he is able to discern amidst the rubbish of prevailing error, is ever worthy of our respect and esteem. Would that all "Free-thinkers" were free indeed. "The truth shall make you free" – "If the Son shall make free ye shall be free indeed."
Resolved, By the International Working People's Association, that the hungry, naked, and unemployed, should organize and take some action by which they can remove the so-called "overproduction," which subjects them to the evils that make existence precarious and life miserable.
"The ridiculous situation that requires men to freeze because there is too much coal in the country, and starve because there is too much bread in the country, and go naked because there is too much clothing in the country, and lie out-doors because there are too many houses in the country, cannot always continue, especially when we know that the natural ingenuity of invention is constantly and rapidly increasing this over-supply, glutted markets, and forced idleness."– John Swinton's Paper.
Many people, when reproved for an improper word or action, excuse or justify themselves by saying, "It is my way." Is this a proper ground for justification? Let us see what the Scriptures say about it?
The Lord says, "Amend your ways." – Jer. 7:3. If our ways are not right they should be amended, and not justified. The weeping prophet says, "Let us search and try our ways, and turn again unto the Lord." – Lam. 3:40. The Lord calls us to consider our ways. (Hag. 1:5,7.) By careful consideration our ways may not appear excusable.
But the fact that certain ways are our own ways, should be no excuse for retaining them, but rather a reason for rejecting them. If we should honor God, we would not do our own way, (Isa. 58:13). "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord." – Isa. 55:8. Of the wicked he says, "Destruction and misery are in their ways." – Rom. 3:16. In pleading with Israel he says, "Thou shalt remember thy ways and be ashamed." – Ezek. 16:61. The psalmist asks, "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?" and the answer is given, "By taking heed thereto according to thy word." – Ps. 119:9. His own experience is given in verse 104: "Through thy precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way." The law of God is a detector of false ways, therefore we should test all our ways by it. If they are not in harmony with this rule let us not extenuate nor follow them, but "ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein." – Jer. 6:16.– Sel.
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 the work is becoming more apparent daily, as theorists attempt to palm off a private interpretation under a 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 its present price brings it within the reach of almost all self-sacrificing 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. 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.
Knowing beforehand of the advance, we have made such preparation as enables us to offer about 100 copies to our subscribers at $2.25 each. If sent my mail, the postage should be added, viz.: 54c., and 10c. additional if you wish it "registered." This is the latest revision. – "THE AUTHOR'S EDITION."
For the benefit of new readers we would state that this is a Greek Testament. Under each Greek word the corresponding English word. It is thus the most literal translation of the New Testament. Besides this, it has in another column alongside a very clear and emphatic translation, showing the emphasis of the Greek, which is generally lost to the English reader.
The Hebrews have prepared recently an English translation of the Old Testament Scriptures which we commend to those desirous of a critical translation for COMPARISON in studying. We have procured a small lot and can furnish them at $1.65 postpaid, which is less than the usual price.
The place of meeting has been changed and is no longer at "Curry Institute Hall," but has removed to the "Grand Army Hall," No. 101 Federal street, Allegheny City, just across the river. Readers and friends will be warmly welcomed at our new and more comfortable hall. Preaching every Lord's day afternoon at 3.30 o'clock, and Bible Class at 2:30 o'clock of the same day.