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This paper will be sent free to any of the Lord's poor who will send a card yearly requesting it. Freely we have received and freely we would give the truth. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat – yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." And you that have it – "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently – and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness." – ISAIAH 55:1,2.
Accounts of the widespread and destructive floods of this past month, with their accompanying distress, have ere this reached you through the daily press. Such like events as floods, fires, earthquakes, tornadoes, pestilences, cyclones, etc., have always elicited much comment both from press and pulpit regarding their cause. The most commonly attributed cause is, that God has sent the calamity as a special punishment for supposed greater wickedness of the people of the suffering districts, and as a warning to others.
"The flood, which lapped the doorsteps of a number of churches last week, overflowed into several of the pulpits yesterday. Quite a number of preachers found texts for their sermons in different phases of the disaster. The lessons they drew from it were various. Rev. Mr. Eaton rejoiced that the worst is past without involving us in total destruction; pictured man's impotence to combat the pitiless force of natural elements, and drew a parallel with the floods of temptation which threaten all of us and overwhelm many. Rev. Mr. Prugh dwelt upon it as a proclamation of God's personal presence and power. Rev. Mr. Sands, while giving due recognition to the potency of a heavy rain, combined with the sudden thawing of a deep snow, as flood-creating factors in their way, maintained that God was back of it all, with a purpose of his own in the calamity. The exact design of Providence he did not presume to fathom. Rev. Mr. McCrory took altogether a sterner view of it. He saw in it a visitation of Divine wrath for our multiplied sins, and called upon us to take comfort in the thought that we have not been given nearly the chastisement we deserve.
"There is no question but this last will be the most popular view of it – in the hill wards. To those who dwelt upon the high ground, and so escaped the flood, it will be positive satisfaction to know that the deluge was a punishment sent upon the lowlanders on account of their desperately wicked hearts. The folks who have water in their cellars, however, will probably cling to a more materialistic view – that the high-water line was drawn in accordance with natural topography rather than comparative depravity."
The reasons which lead people in general to suppose these calamities to be "special judgments" are founded, we believe, mainly on the dealings of God with Israel, upon whom he sent calamities, captivities, etc., as national punishments for national sins. But let us remember that Israel was a peculiar people, chosen of God for a special purpose, and, like the saints of the Gospel age, dealt with in a peculiar manner, different from the world. To them he said, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth." (Amos 3:2.) Israel was the only nation which Jehovah directly governed: therefore he chastised their sins, and made his promises to them, while other nations were left under the dominion of Satan, the prince of this world, until he whose right it is, shall have come and established the kingdom of God under the whole heavens.
While remembering that God has used calamities, such as the Deluge and the destruction of Sodom, as punishments and examples of an overthrow of the ungodly, it should not be forgotten that those were examples of those who should afterward live ungodly. And these examples are not examples of God's dealings in the present time, but are examples of the punishment or destruction awaiting the finally incorrigible during or at the close of the Millennial judgment period, or day. That Peter so applies those calamities as examples of the future, see 2 Pet. 2:4-9.
In Jesus' day some had the same impression, that great disasters indicated God's special displeasure; but Jesus corrected them, saying: "Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans because they suffered such things? Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay; but except ye repent ye shall all likewise PERISH."
These words of Jesus contain the key to what we believe is the correct view of this subject in the last word, perish. The fact is that the great calamity, DEATH, of which pestilences, earthquakes, floods, etc., are only incidentals, has passed upon ALL MEN, because all are sinners. (Rom. 5:12.) We have become so accustomed to death, the great calamity which is rapidly swallowing up the whole race, that it, the greatest of all losses, and the cause of all others, is looked upon as a proper and natural matter. If, however, things were properly considered, death as a whole would be seen as the great calamity, and the floods, etc., which only hasten it to a few, would be of comparatively little importance.
As death, the great calamity and curse, was caused by sin, so all of these calamities spring from the same cause, and are under the control of him that has the power of death, that is the devil (Heb. 2:14), whose dominion and power, thank God, is soon to be taken away and given to the Prince of Peace. As death is the result of sin, so are pestilences, tornadoes, etc.
This will be apparent when we remember that when Adam became a sinner, not only did the curse of death fall upon him, but the entire dominion of his kingdom – the earth – suffered, and is in a cursed condition. (Gen. 3:17.) For a time Satan is permitted to usurp the dominion of earth, and while seemingly working out his own plans, he at the same time acts as the agent of justice, to execute the penalty of sin. This being true, he is the one who by permission exercises the destructive power upon the earth; and Jehovah does not interfere because mankind has justly come under the curse of a violated law, death; and because man is gaining a valuable lesson under the present dominion of evil and death, which will benefit him when the curse is lifted not only legally, but actually, by the Redeemer who for this cause was manifested, "that he [R584 : page 1] might destroy DEATH [the great catastrophe in all its forms] and him that hath the power of death, [and who brings to pass the various calamities] that is, the devil."
As soon as the new prince, Immanuel, takes possession of the kingdom a great change will begin, both in the world of nature and of mankind. The curse being cancelled will be removed, and the blessings purchased by the "precious blood of Christ" will be bestowed. So great will be the change under the new administration, that in symbol it is called a new heavens [new spiritual ruling power]. Behold he will make all things new: he will re-new or restore all things to harmony with God, and to a condition which from God's standpoint, is "very good."
Hence we regard those disasters, not as special punishments, but as parts of the general curse, results of sin; but all working out in harmony with God's design an ultimate good to those rightly exercised thereby. We have heretofore seen that the prophet Job was made a type of mankind; that the disaster and trouble and losses which befell him illustrated the losses sustained by mankind, and that his restoration to favor and after-blessing, foreshadowed the "restitution of all things" to mankind. (Acts 3:19). And we call to mind that the source of his trouble was Satan (Job 1:12), whom God in wisdom permitted to have power over him. As then the whirlwind, etc., was the agent of Satan, so we claim it is to-day. So, too, it was in Jesus' day. Jesus did not go about opposing the Father's will. If the Father had caused the death of Lazarus, would Jesus have opposed him by undoing his work? If Jehovah had caused the storm on the Sea of Galilee, which nearly overwhelmed the Lord and his disciples, would Jesus have been justified in stilling that tempest? But if the sickness and death and storms which Jesus counteracted were the work of Satan, the present "prince of the world," then all is clear, and we and all creation groan and travail and wait for the glorious reign of the new prince, whose relief was foreshadowed by the acts of his earthly ministry, praying, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth."
When the night of sin and suffering and weeping is over, and the Son of Righteousness arises with healing in his wings for the various troubles of man and of earth, the mists of ignorance will be dispelled, and it will be seen that not Jehovah, but man's sin and his present prince, Satan, has been the direct cause of earth's woe and sorrow.
MR. C. T. RUSSELL – Dear Brother: The papers and pamphlets received all right; to say we thank you for your kindness in ministering to our necessities but feebly expresses our feelings, we know your reward is sure, but it is not now. We are free, pray that we may have strength to walk according to our light. Our appetites increase with the use of the strong meat we receive and we feel deeply the responsibility of walking according to his will.
May you have all knowledge and boldness to do His will.
Your sister in the Lord,
BRO. RUSSELL – Dear Friend: There is a great inquiry after "Food" and I have loaned and given away all I have and hope they are doing good. We find considerable opposition to some of the interpretations given to the Bible texts, but we find as a rule, that consecrated Christians, who are "hungering and thirsting" after righteousness, hail it as a blessing, and grow in the light that it gives.
Can you send us more copies?
[We send some sample papers for new readers and only two of "Food;" we are sparing them for those whose interest is awakened by the tract papers. "Food" and "Tabernacle" are not so plentiful as they used to be, hence our carefulness, but the papers sent are even better adapted to new readers. The Lord give you grace and wisdom to preach the glad tidings both by the papers and your words and by your lives the living epistles known and read soonest by your friends and neighbors. – EDITOR.]
In spite of the opposition I have encountered, I am happy to state that my labors have not been in vain. Occasionally I have been encouraged by meeting a hungry soul, one willing and even anxious to partake of the bread of life.
As to the "Tabernacle," it gives me great pleasure to state that God in his mercy has allowed me the privilege of accepting, understanding and fully enjoying its teachings. Studying the Word in connection with this pamphlet surpasses any pleasure I have yet known. Every part of the Word becomes pregnant with new significance. No human policy mars its splendor, but it becomes as a mirror, in which God [R583 : page 2] and his attributes are distinctly discerned by the "eye of faith." While, under this new influence, the sinner is startled into the consciousness that God is a pitying friend.
Surely the luminary of truth is at last shedding its rays on the sleeping masses of mankind. But how shall men be enabled to comprehend it? And how, except by divine interpretation, can the scales of prejudice be taken from their eyes, in order that the pure light of the gospel may shine in?
Truly it is an important time. The wonders of God's word are being revealed. The prophecies that have held the world in awe for centuries, are at last being fulfilled; but, alas! how few realize that it is the "fulness of time." Let us continue to proclaim the "glad tidings of great joy...unto all people, and trust the results with the common Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.
MRS. C. T. RUSSELL – Dear Sister: I have some precious names to place before you, to whom please send samples of the TOWER. Yes, I think truly God sent me here to break the chains of poor captives. About two weeks ago I heard of a lady in this place who was a great Bible student. I called, found a plain, quiet, middle-aged woman in the midst of her family. In the corner of the chief room was a stand with a large Bible and some histories, showing me instantly that mind and heart were at work. I cautiously introduced the burden, I should say joy, of my life – the better way – and found she was of the Christadelphian flock. I did not in any way condemn them, but after gaining her heart by my appreciation of her student life in the midst of cares I took up her Bible, well marked in the direction of a night of eternal darkness from a material standpoint, and I quickly found some dawning light and sunshine. I brought smiles to her face, and tears, not of sorrow, but of joy, to her eyes – Oh how gladly she drank in the goodness of God. Love is so much better a master than fear.
Since then she comes to see me, and we feast from the deep unfailing fountain in the great storehouse. I have loaned and given away most of my WATCH TOWERS. This lady wants to study these things now, and she is a rapid student for she is so earnest. She wishes now to go to her brethren, some fifty miles away, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for her – God willing I will go with her. In my weakness my Master will show his power.
Yesterday a farmer brought us some produce and took dinner with us. I found him quite scholarly, but without faith in the God of resurrection. Nature is his book. I improved the time in showing the goodness of the God whom we love and serve. He was surprised that I did not get angry or defend popular theology, and said he had not read the Bible for twenty years. I know he must be earnestly seeking truth, but how far he goes away from it. When he got his team ready, he came in and asked me if I could go out to his place and stay a few days and teach them in our way. He said he would bring his wife and the hack and take my boy Robbie and I out if my husband could not leave. Oh how earnestly I pray that my words may be blessed. Oh, to bring joy and gladness into the regions of darkness.
It seemed almost like inviting persecution to introduce the subject of Restitution in the "Disciple" prayer-meeting. I earnestly prayed that if I was to speak there the Lord would open a door for me. Elder__________led, and read Matt. 11:20-30, and spoke somewhat on the subject referred to. Then he very nobly and earnestly invited all present to present their views. I waited until almost all present had done so. Nearly all reflected what the leader had said. Dare I let this rare opportunity go? I did not, and God gave me strength and clearness of expression.
I find Jonah's prototype in preachers of to-day. How offended they get to think God is going to be so good to the great mass of mankind. The East wind is blowing. Thank God it comes from sun-rising and not sunset, and all shades (gourds) will wither and blow away, even though the sun beat on the intellect of these college owls who blink in the sunshine.
Dear lovely Texas (my former home) I pray the truth will find a voice there. I will write to a friend in Brownwood – She is an Episcopalean but not satisfied. Who knoweth if she be come into the kingdom for such a time as this. She is good, strong, and true with a joyful spirit but painful body. I am lovingly your sister in Christ.
New readers in all parts of the country are constantly inquiring: By what name do you call yourselves? Are you "Primitive Baptists"? Are you "Missionary Baptists"? Are you "Universalists"? Are you "Adventists"? Are you "Primitive Methodists"? etc., etc. We have several times tried to make clear our position, and now endeavor in a few words again to do so.
We belong to NO earthly organization; hence, if you should name the entire list of sects, we should answer, No, to each and to all. We adhere only to that heavenly organization – "whose names are written in heaven." (Heb. 12:23; Luke 10:20.) All the saints now living, or that have lived during this age, belonged to OUR CHURCH ORGANIZATION; such are all ONE church, and there is NO OTHER recognized by the Lord. Hence any earthly organization which in the least interferes with this union of saints is contrary to the teachings of Scripture and opposed to the Lord's will – "that they may be ONE." (Jno. 17:11.)
By what name may this Church be called? We answer, By the name of its founder and instituter – Christ. Hence it is the "Church of Christ" or "Church of God," for God founded it on the Rock Christ Jesus; or "Christians," as they were known in early times. (Acts. 11:26; 26:28, and 1 Pet. 4:16.) But because Paul and the other disciples were not followers of Calvin's teachings, therefore they were not called Calvinists; because they were not followers of Luther's teachings and example, therefore they were not called Lutherans; but because they followed the ONE example and teachings of CHRIST only, therefore they gladly acknowledged it when they were called "Christians."
What think you, do we not occupy the only ground of union? Suppose that all man-made creeds, and forms, and prayer-books, and liturgies, and names were laid aside, or that all Christians met in the one name of Christ, and in earnest simplicity studied HIS words under the direction of God's Spirit and the explanations furnished in the Apostle's writings, would there long be serious differences even of opinion in the Church?
Was not that old saint, John Bunyan, who lay for years a prisoner in jail in Bedford, England, because he preached the doctrines of Jesus and the Apostles, in opposition to certain doctrines of the Episcopal Church, right when he said: "Since you would know by what name I would be distinguished from others, I tell you I would be, and hope I am, a Christian; and choose if God should count me worthy, to be called a Christian, a believer, or other such name which is approved by the Holy Ghost. And as for those faction (or sect) titles of Anabaptist, Presbyterian, Independent, or the like, I conclude that they [R585 : page 2] came neither from Antioch, nor from Jerusalem, but from Hell and Babylon, for they tend to divisions: you may know them by their fruits."
But is it asked, Was not Bunyan a Baptist? We answer, yes, in the same manner that we are Baptist. He was a "Christian" and because in God's Word he was taught immersion, or baptism, and not sprinkling, and because he practiced with other humble saints his, faith, therefore by Episcopalians or the worldly such were, in derision, termed "Baptists," &c. So some now say that we are Baptists because we believe in the doctrine of baptism. Some incline to call us Calvinists because we believe what we find taught in Scripture, that the Church is elect according to the foreknowledge of God through sanctification of spirit and belief of the truth. (1 Pet. 1:2; 2 Thes. 2:13.) Some call us Adventists because we find taught in the Scriptures, and therefore believe, that the heavens received Jesus, only until the restitution of all things." And so, by whatsoever names men may call us, it matters not to us; we acknowledge none other name than "the only name given under heaven and among men" – Jesus Christ. We call ourselves simply CHRISTIANS and we raise no fence to separate from us any who believe in the foundation stone of our building mentioned by Paul: "That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures"; and those for whom this is not broad enough have no right to the name Christian.
In the midst of all the cares, vexations and trials of life, how blessed the assurance that some of the saints are bearing our names before a throne of heavenly grace! We should never forget that this is our judgement day, and that we have almost reached its final hour. Let each one ask himself, How do I appear before God? It is comforting to know that we are not being judged by the actual success of our efforts, but by the efforts themselves and the motives which inspire them; the actual fulfilling of the law being accomplished by our Redeemer and Substitute, in whom we trust.
The searching eye of our Judge is now scanning us each, with a view to the final decision, soon to be pronounced – as worthy, or unworthy, of the glorious reward of the faithful. It is a close, just, scrutinizing gaze: who can stand before it? None need fear because their best efforts produce imperfect fruit; but they have abundant cause for fear who discover in themselves a relaxation of effort, or that motives of a worldly character begin to supplant the true. Not one of the saints who is still running for the prize of our high calling should expect to be exempt from the Refiner's testing now. As we each realize our own and each other's position, and the great possibilities that hinge on the present moment, how earnest and unceasing should be our prayers, both for ourselves and for our fellow-pilgrims. Let us watch thereunto with all perseverance, and supplication for all saints.
But not only for our own personal welfare should we pray, but also for the work of spreading the Gospel in the face of the current of opposition brought to bear against it. How strengthening to those laboring in public ways, and thereby facing the full force of the current against the truth, to know that here and there and yonder are saints upon their knees praying for their success – that they be not overcome by the foe in open conflict; that they be not surprised and overcome by sudden and overwhelming forces; that they be not deceived and taken in a snare at some unfortified point.
Do all the saints indeed realize the active conflict now waging with the powers of darkness, and the great issues at stake. If you do not, ask God to help you to realize it; to sleep or be idle at your post of duty is dangerous indeed. Our unseen foe is subtle and wily: therefore let us be sober and vigilant, ever watching unto prayer, but remembering that our prayers, as well as our faith would be vain if accompanied by indolence and inactivity.
Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified; praying also that God would open yet a wider door of utterance, to make known the mystery of Christ. 2 Thes. 3:1; Col. 4:3.
And this we pray: That your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgement. That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence in this day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ unto the glory and praise of God. Phil. 1:9-11.
Be sound in the faith.
Be established with grace.
Be ye doers of the Word.
Be not unfruitful.
Be ready to every good work.
Be filled with the Spirit.
Be a vessel unto honor, sanctified.
Be an example of the believers.
Be holy and without blemish.
Be not conformed to this world.
Be dead indeed unto sin.
Be it unto thee even as thou wilt.
Be not overcome by evil.
Be ye therefore sober.
Be not high-minded, but fear.
Be not entangled again.
Be not as the hypocrites.
Be without dissimulation.
Be not wise in your own conceits.
Be not deceived.
Be led of the Spirit.
Be instant in season and out of season.
Be ye also patient.
Be of good courage.
Be strong in the Lord.
Be not weary in well-doing.
Be gentle unto all.
Be discreet and faithful.
Be diligent and sober.
Be dead with Christ.
Be found of him in peace.
Be ye also ready.
"Now we know that God heareth not sinners; but if any man be a worshiper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. – John 9:31.
"If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." – Ps. 66:18.
Ever labor to live suitably to thy prayers. It is to no purpose to begin the day with God and then spend it with the devil; to be a saint in the morning in thy closet, and then a sinner all day in the world.
Having prayed against sin, be sure you watch against it, avoiding the occasions and temptations thereto; for otherwise you will fall before it. Having prayed for holiness of life, labor to live holily. Having prayed for humility, labor to walk humbly. Having prayed for sobriety and temperance, labor to live soberly and temperately. Having prayed in the Spirit, labor to walk in the Spirit. Ever bear in mind that to pray for one thing and live for another is a contradiction and an impiety. The whole course of one's life should savor of one's prayers. He who hath all his religion in his prayers, hath no religion at all.– Selected.
ONE of the keenest replies ever given by a liberal religious newspaper to a bigoted advocate of future punishment was lately given by the Christian Register to the Examiner. Rev. Joseph Cook, in one of his lectures, declared that no living man knows anything about the theory of probation, and expressed an opinion that the charitable view of the question was, that probation after death would be granted those who failed to accept the gospel in this life. The Examiner denounced this liberal doctrine and declared there was no hope for those who failed in this life to accept the gospel. The Christian Register thereupon, in reply, suggested that the Examiner print its edition on black paper with a small margin of white, that its color might correspond with its theology and doctrine.– Sel.
"THOSE who are weary and are heavy laden in any sense, who are tired of the world, and of false teaching, and long for the truth; they who have consciences burdened by a sense of sin, and are ready to hear glad tidings, can hear them from Him. Only to such can the gospel be glad tidings, or good news. Only to such can it give rest. Rest is what such want, and he can give it to them and will."
The wrath of God is love's severity
In curing sin – the zeal of righteousness
In overcoming wrong – the remedy
Of justice for the world's redress.
The wrath of God is punishment for sin,
In measure unto all transgression due,
Discriminating well and just between
Presumptuous sins and sins of lighter hue.
The wrath of God inflicts no needless pain,
Merely vindictive or himself to please;
But aims the ends of mercy to attain,
Uproot the evil, and the good increase.
The wrath of God is a consuming fire,
That burns while there is evil to destroy
Or good to purify; nor can expire
Till all things are redeemed from sin's alloy.
The wrath of God is love's parental rod,
The disobedient to chastise, subdue
And bend submissive to the will of God
That love may reign when all things are made new.
The wrath of God shall never strike in vain,
Nor cease to strike till sin shall be no more,
Till God his gracious purpose shall attain,
And earth to righteousness and peace restore.
A curse signifies an opposition, an evil, a bitter punishment. Ever since the representative of our race was tried in Eden, and transgressed God's commandment, the curse of that broken law has rested upon him and upon all whom he in trial represented – all the Adamic race. That this is so, we need not stop to prove at length; we merely refer you to the many scriptures which declare it, and the many others which declare that it will be removed.
But if the Scriptures were silent on the subject, our experience proves that a curse rests upon mankind. The anguish, sorrow, distress, and death which attend us from the cradle to the tomb, all tell us that a curse rests upon us. Surely we would be justified in reasoning, that if man were in full harmony with his Creator, something much better than he has, would be his portion. And looking into God's Word this thought is corroborated. We find that when man was sinless and in harmony with God, there was no curse, no sorrow, no weary laboring, no pain, nor dying, but joy, peace, life and communion with God. All this distress is included in the term death, because they all surely lead to it. And this curse – DEATH – passed upon all men in that all had sinned in the person of their representative Adam.
It was God's law that cursed us. And since the law is the expression of God's mind, or decision, it was God's curse that was on us. Every law, to be of any force, must contain a penalty or curse for its violation. It is the penalty or curse of God's law that is causing so much misery and distress in the world, because all are subject to its curse through its violation by Adam. This curse is elsewhere termed by the Apostle an "ENMITY," which word has much the same meaning as curse. Enmity signifies an opposition to – a resentment.
Let us look at the subject fairly and fully, for not only has God and his law a just and righteous opposition and enmity against sinners, but the sinners have since come to have an opposition or enmity toward God. Cast off from communion and fellowship with his Maker, man went headlong into evil, and the more evil he became, the more opposition and enmity he had toward that which is good and holy and right. "The darkness hateth the light," and the darker the hearts of men became, the more enmity they felt toward God.
Now, if God and man ever again come into harmony, and are made at-one, he who makes the at-one-ment must remove entirely this enmity. The enmity of man toward God and his law can be removed by making known to men the real character of God and of his law. They will then see and admire the righteousness and justice of both. This work toward the world will be accomplished during the next – the Millennial age. The knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth, and all shall know him. And it is of that time that we read: "There shall be no more curse." (Rev. 22:3.)
But what will bring about this abolishment of the curse of the law? What will compensate for man's violation of the Law which brought the curse? Some would have us believe that the only curse is that opposition which man has against God and his law, the only enmity, that which man feels in opposition to God and righteousness; but such surely see but one side of the subject. What about God's opposition to the sinner, which drove him from Eden into sorrow and death? Any theory which fails to recognize this, fails entirely; for there have been some of the race in all ages who felt no enmity toward God, but desired the blessings of his favor – Eden life and joy in his fellowship: yet such never were brought back to the original condition, and any with whom God designed at all to commune, were made to feel that His enmity, his opposition, his curse as a barrier still separated between them as sinners, and himself as holy. This was shown in various ways, but in none more emphatically than in the sacrifice for sin which each must offer before he could have any communion with God.
In these sacrifices there was remembrance or acknowledgment of sins, and since they were repeated it proved that they never really took away sin (Heb. 10:3,4), never really removed the curse; but these were typical of a better sacrifice, which God himself provided in due time, which did once for all and forever, remove the sin, the curse, and the enmity on God's part (vs. 5-10.)
The idea that the enmity is all on man's part, carried to its legitimate end, leads to the very absurd conclusion, that man got angry with God and went out of Eden full of enmity; that he would not commune with God, etc., etc.; God remonstrates and pleads with him to return and have his communion and fellowship; man refuses, and turns his back on his Maker. God sends prophets and teachers, but man spurns them. Finally God concluded to make a great sacrifice to men to appease THEIR wrath and to win their love. This theory would have God say: I have been too severe, if I had it to do again I would not be so strict; I would forgive instead of condemning you; I would bless instead of cursing; my love for you has conquered my justice. Come, now, see what an evidence of my repentance I am willing to give. My son shall die merely to show and assure you that your sins are pardoned, and that I am anxious to have your good will and esteem. What a God that would be! Both men and angels would have in contempt such laws and such a lawgiver.
How different from this is the truth on this subject! Jehovah declares his JUSTICE as unalterable as his LOVE, and that infinite wisdom and power make possible the harmonious operation of both. He assures us that justice is the very foundation of his throne; that the empire of the universe, and the laws for the government of the same are upheld by justice. Righteousness and justice are the prop of thy throne. (Psa. 89:15. Leeser.) While Justice was reading to Adam the penalty of the broken law – THE CURSE – love was telling him that there would be a deliverance. Man might have supposed that God would relent, and not long enforce the penalty; they might have supposed that God's enmity or opposition to sinners expressed by the curse of the law would be forced aside by his love; but if they did thus imagine, the long years of death's reign must have shattered such hopes, and when finally God declared that he changes not, and will never clear the guilty (Mal. 3:6, and Exod. 34:7), such false expectations might well be extinguished. If God's justice could never yield, how could his love help them? they might well have asked.
Infinite WISDOM was equal to the emergency, and God removed the enmity of his own just law by providing a ransom, a representative or substitute to take man's place before the law, to suffer the just for the unjust; and thus while he did not destroy that law which was just and holy and good, Jesus destroyed its enmity or opposition to the Adamic race, by himself enduring its enmity and curse, as it is written: "He was made a curse [i.e., he was cursed or bore the penalty of the curse – death – destruction] for us." (Gal. 3:10-13.)
Because Jesus was our representative or substitute, [See Webster's definition] therefore the curse belonging to us fell on him, and the enmity or opposition against us, was reckoned against him. He was cast off to die out of communion, as an enemy, as a sinner, and we recall his dying words, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me"? Yes – "He is our peace who hath made both (Jew and Gentile) one and hath broken down the middle wall of partition, having abolished IN HIS FLESH the enmity." – "That he might reconcile BOTH unto God [Jew and Gentile needed to have a work done for them which would make them right before God; not to make God right in their eyes; not to atone for an injustice on God's part, but for unrighteousness on man's part] in one body by the cross – having slain the enmity [opposition of the law against both Jew and Gentile] thereby." "For through him we both have access, by one spirit [R587 : page 3] unto the Father." (Eph. 2:14-19.)
There was no "access unto the Father" as long as the enmity (opposition) of his just law barred us out as sinners; but when Jesus became our substitute and suffered the condemnation or enmity for the unjust – absorbed it all – received its full measure on the cross, he thus abolished – destroyed – all claim and enmity of the law against us on account of Adam's disobedience. "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, and outcasts from the Lord and his communion, but are "made nigh BY the blood of Christ." (vs. 13,19.)
Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice, not for God, unto men, to appease their enmity or opposition, but unto God, for men, to remove the righteous enmity and curse of God's law which was against men because of their sin.
But note, the LAW has not been changed; right is still right and wrong is still wrong, and will ever so remain; but mankind has been purchased out from under the dominion and curse of the law. Mankind is reckoned as now belonging to him who bought them with his own precious blood. The claims of the law being all settled by him, the entire control of men is delivered to the Lord who bought them. Whatever now shall be done with them he shall do it. He may do what he will with his own – thenceforth "the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son" – "He is Lord of all." (John 5:22; Acts 10:36.)
Having delivered mankind from the dominion and curse of the perfect law, and abolished the legal opposition – the curse of death which was against them – the next work of Messiah is to men, and not toward God; and for this work he takes to himself great power and will reign. The object of his reign will be to destroy man's enmity to God and his law, and to re-engrave that law upon their consciences. The work of reconciliation toward God for man's sins, was quickly accomplished, for the Lord waited to be gracious, but towards men it will require an age – the Millennium – to accomplish it.
The reason of this is apparent: It will require all of the Millennial age to rewrite the law of God upon the hearts of men. When perfect, before the fall, the law of God was so thoroughly imprinted in man's nature that no written law upon tables of stone was needed. Man, a moral image of God, had a conscience so delicately adjusted that it would decide instantly what was right and what wrong. His difficulty, as we have already seen, was that he did not appreciate the evil or curse or enmity which was the penalty of wrong-doing.
But cast off from the fellowship and communion of God by reason of sin, the law became more or less obliterated, and instead there sprung up an enmity or opposition to the law which they acknowledged as good, but found themselves less and less able to observe. Paul refers to this blotting out of the image and knowledge of God and his law, saying: "When they knew God they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened." "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind." (Rom. 2:21,28.)
About two thousand years after the fall, and when the original law was well nigh erased, God selected a small nation – Israel – and made covenants with them based on their keeping his law, which became so erased from their hearts, was expressed to them in commandments on tables of stone. But, as God foreknew, the law in stone only condemned, for none could render full obedience except with it written in their hearts, as a part of their very being. They must be constitutionally right and just and loving, "else they would be constantly warring against themselves and unable to obey." (Rom. 7:20-25.) But that law served to give them an idea of their need of divine help – the need of having the penalty paid for them, and then having the law rewritten in their hearts. (Gal. 3:23-25 and Gal. 4:5-7.)
Though Satan and sin have done a terribly degrading work in man, putting darkness and error for light and truth, yet we may still find traces of the original law in the most degraded of men, the world over. Even barbarian savages have some ideas concerning right and wrong, justice and injustice, however crude they may be. Paul testifies to this also, saying of the heathen: "These having not the [written] law are a law unto themselves, which show the work [some evidence] of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness." (Rom. 2:14,15.)
It is because this law has been so nearly blotted out of the once perfect human nature, that it will require so long to restore it to perfection. This law must gradually be again interwoven into human nature before it will again be an image of God, and at one with him. When so restored to God's image, all doubts as to what is right and what wrong, and all preference for the wrong, will be at an end. With his whole nature right, the law of God written all over him, as the law of his being, man will be prepared to do right, not from fear, nor from reward, not because some one would see or some one would not see, but because right is right – the very same motive of righteousness and justice which governs all of our Maker's actions.
Then God and men will be entirely at one, in perfect harmony. Then it will be seen that God's laws are only blessings, and the only prevention of evil which is a source of misery. When thus harmonized, Christ the mediator who died to redeem, and reigned to restore men to God, will "deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father." (1 Cor. 15:24.) All enmity and curse will have been destroyed. The enmity of God's law having been met and settled, and man's enmity to the law removed by a restitution to original perfection, the image of God.*
In harmony with this is another Scriptural statement: "While we were enemies, we were reconciled to God [and the opposition and curse of his violated law was lifted] by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled we shall be SAVED [brought back into that condition of perfection and harmony with God and His law where we will be no longer condemned but approved] by his life." (Rom. 5:10.) This is another brief statement of the same glorious truth by the Apostle. When the work of Christ is fully accomplished, "Then there shall be no more curse;" "for the former things [the evil incurred through Adam's transgression] are passed away." (Rev. 22:3; 21:4.) put away legally by the "sacrifice of himself (Christ);" and put away in fact by his glorious reign. "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." For "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us."
"Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night." We have been particularly interested in the first part of the watchman's answer; but is there not also in the second part a message for us?
The night cometh. For about ten years we have heard the cry, "The night cometh." We see the signs increasing day by day, "On the earth distress of nations, in perplexity for the roaring of the sea (restless and unrestrainable humanity) and the billows (the active and impetuous leaders); men fainting for fear (witness the crowned heads of Europe to-day), and for expectation of the things which are coming on the inhabited earth: for the powers of the heavens (governments) shall be shaken." They are shaking everywhere. Why? They have ruled by oppression. In many cases they trample on human rights. Their subjects are their slaves. If they choose to make war, these slaves must either go out and kill their brothers, or languish in prison – fortunate if they escape with their lives. In peace they must pay to keep up a vain pomp, and a small army of courtiers and useless pensioners. The many must live without life's comforts, and frequently even without its necessities, that the few may live like hogs. Surely only the blind may fail to see that this cannot last long. Already the masses are waking up to their rights; and when fully awake, they will rise like a maddened giant, and woe to the puny arm that will oppose them then!
When the conflict fairly opens, we may expect to see a repetition of the reign of terror which has characterized such outbreaks in the past. In fact, even if prophecy did not clearly portray the terrible scenes, we ought to see that outbreaks in the past would be tame compared with the grand final conflict. Not only will this one be universal, spreading itself over the civilized world, and possibly everywhere, so that there will be no place of refuge, but the destructive agents which will be used will make it seven-fold worse. Dynamite and nitroglycerine are now the favorite agents. To them conflagration, with all its horrors, is as nothing. It is like comparing the electric telegraph with the stagecoach, or the work of the thunder-bolt with the slow toil of the wood-chopper. The recent attempts in Great Britain are only samples of what we may expect, on a grand and successful scale, when the ball opens. [R588 : page 4]
Pittsburghers remember the results of two days of destruction in July, 1877. Scores of locomotives and hundreds of cars were pillaged and burned; travel was suspended and business was demoralized. Imagine this condition in all the great centres – railroad, telegraph and mail communications all cut off. No letters from either friend or foe. No papers – not even ZION'S WATCH TOWER, then. No provisions, except as the Lord may provide for his own. All chaos, tumult and terror.
What opportunity will we then have either to study together or to spread the light already received? Probably nothing to compare with the present. If papers or books could be published, how could they be sent? What we do, we must do quickly. Now we have every facility. Let every one feel the responsibility of the position.
The cause needs help. There are but few who have the light. Let every one earnestly pray, "Lord, what wilt thou have me do?" Keep praying, and keep doing; but see that you are directed of the Lord. Let neither time, talents nor money be uselessly employed. The truth and the time demand sacrifice. The Lord requires a sacrifice. The way to the cross – the only way – means a sacrifice. Are you sacrificing? Is all on the altar? If you have laid it there, have you let go of it, and turned your back upon it? Do you count it no more yours, but the Lord's?
The time to rest is not at the beginning of the work, but at the other end. If these bodies get used up, we have better ones waiting. The present life has duties that cannot and should not be avoided; but let the earthly be subordinate to the spiritual.
Remember, we are now living in the day of the Lord. It has come as a thief in the night. Soon, as Peter describes, "The heavens (governments) will pass away with a great noise (moral as well as physical dynamite), and the elements (component parts and principles of the governments) shall be dissolved with fervent heat (Jer. 23:29; Mal. 3:2; 1 Cor. 3:13-15), and the earth (organized society) and the works that are therein (oppression, fraud, deceit, pride, etc., and probably includes also social institutions and business,) shall be burned up. Seeing that these things are thus to be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in holy living and godliness?"
"That thou doest, do quickly." "The night cometh, when no man can work."
"For the love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge: That if one died for all, then were all dead; and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again." – 2 Cor. 5:14,15.
Paul here offers a reason for his zeal for God. Some thought his mind unbalanced because he endured so much for the sake of preaching Christ and him crucified, but he assures us that from his point of view he did none too much. His reasoning and his ideas of right and justice demanded all that he was doing, and more, if he were able. Then he tells us the process of reasoning from which he judges thus: "Christ died for all"; if so, then all must have been dead, either actually dead and buried, or else under sure sentence of death, which would ultimately be executed. If Christ died to purchase for all the right to return from death, then, argues Paul, it is evident that the purchased life belongs to the purchaser; and I "thus judge" that all such should not henceforth live unto themselves, but should render that life in service to their Redeemer.
Do we agree with Paul? was his reasoning or judgment good? If so, let it be our excuse also for earnestness and sacrifice in the service of our Redeemer. Paul regarded it as a matter of simple justice, and not a favor on his part to render service; he judged it right to do thus.
This scripture shows clearly the doctrine of Christ Jesus being a substitute or representative for all in death. [We might remark that neither substitute nor representative are words which occur in the English translation of the Bible, but let us remember that the Bible was not written in English, and that in translating there is a certain liberty accorded the translator, which permits him to select such English words as he may choose, to express the meaning of the original text. The meaning of substitute and representative is found abundantly in Scripture, though translators have not happened to use these words in translating. The thought is generally conveyed by the words ransom, redeem, bought, etc., and, by this word "FOR"; one of the meanings of which and the principal one is, instead of, as a substitute or representative stands FOR or instead of those whom he represents.]
When the reading of the two oldest Manuscripts (Sinaitic and Vatican) is observed, the force of this word for is clearly manifest. Those MSS. read it thus: "Because we thus judge, that one died FOR all, consequently all were dead."
Nor should we fail to apply the lesson of verse 15, that since Christ died for all, they which live by his purchase should render life-service to him? It is not enough that we call ourselves by his name and say we are his servants, but His servants we are TO WHOM we render service.
Let us remember that faithfulness and obedience are qualities absolutely necessary to a good servant. While we may or should be ambitious to render important service to our Lord, let us ever remember to heartily say, Thy will be done, O Lord. If the Master has placed you in such position that you cannot render great service, do not neglect what he has given you, to do that which he has not given you to do. Remember that his method is, to test us in small things before committing to us greater, on the principle that he that is faithful in that which is least, will be faithful also in that which is greater. To him who improves the talents and opportunities given, comes a blessing and increase of opportunity, and finally the "well done, good and faithful servant thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things."
"Stay but still and wonder; turn your eyes away, and be blinded: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink." (V. 9, Leeser's trans.) With a touch of irony the Lord here addresses nominal Zion. The unfoldings of his truth at the time here referred to (the time in which we are living) are so marked, forcible and clear to faithful students of the Word, and observers of its fulfillment, that only those could be blinded, who deliberately turn their eyes away from the truth, and determine to sit still, enveloped in the darkness of human tradition. And in their darkness they wonder at what they think the strange course of the Lord's dealings.
Their staggering is the staggering of indistinct vision and weakness, the halting and vacillating of bewilderment and confusion. They are not drunken with wine. The wine here referred to is that which symbolizes their consecration – that of which Jesus said, "Drink ye all of it," and "Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of?" (Matt. 26:27; and 20:22.) While this wine of sacrifice exhausts the human nature, it invigorates and makes strong the spiritual nature. It is not because of this wine or strong drink of sacrifice, then, that nominal Zion staggers, but because, as shown in the preceding chapter (verses 3-7), they have partaken of the intoxicating spirit and pleasures of this world.
"For the Lord hath poured out over you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: (over) the prophets, and your chiefs, the seers, hath he cast a vail." (V. 10, Leeser.)
Since they have turned their eyes away from the truth, God permits them to sit in darkness and to be overcome with sleep. Who cannot see the spirit of lethargy and drowsiness regarding spiritual things which pervades nominal Zion. They are not asleep on temporal subjects; they are awake to all worldly ambitions – to the rivalry of numbers, of pulpit oratory, church music, imposing edifices, etc. – but to the teachings of God's Word they are asleep. Over the teachings of the Prophets, and of Jesus and the Apostles, a vail is cast. "And the vision of everything [the revelation of God's truth through these] is become unto you [nominal Zion] as the words of a book that is SEALED." (V. 11, Leeser.) This they themselves admit, and therefore seldom attempt to expound the Scriptures, but merely take an isolated passage, and from it draw some moral lesson. Nominal Zion has discarded the teachings of the true Prophets and Seers of the church, and has taken instead the decrees of human councils and synods, while the decrees of the real Head and teachers of the church are neglected. Hence they know not what to think of the present, and are still more confused if they think of the future. [R589 : page 4]
"Which [book – the Bible] men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I cannot, for it is sealed. And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I am not learned." (Verses 11,12.)
The prophecies of the Old and New Testaments are sealed against their learning, for they have studied only at the feet of science and sectarianism, and have neglected the school of Christ and the study of its text-book, the Bible; hence their learned ones lack the true wisdom, and the true spirit, which alone will enable any to appreciate the deep things of God. (Compare 1 Cor. 2:5-14.) The unlearned, accustomed to look to earthly learning for instruction in heavenly things, and not to the testimony of Prophets and Apostles, will not even attempt to understand.
"Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near to me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: therefore, behold I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid." (Verses 13,14.)
Formality of worship and service has taken the place of heart service. When the service was from the heart, the Lord's plans were searched for, as for hid treasure. His Word was studied that the mystery of God might be appreciated as fast as his ripening and unfolding plans would permit. It was a longing such as Daniel experienced when he searched and fasted and prayed for weeks, that he might know whatever of God's plan he was pleased to reveal. It was the longing desire to comprehend with all saints the length and breadth and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ, and be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:18,19.)
But the worldly spirit soon cast out this thirst for truth and knowledge, as the heart became interested in worldly aims and plans. Though the forms of godliness have continued and increased, the real worship and submission to God has ceased, and interest is bent to man-made plans. While they draw nigh to God with their lips, saying, "Thy kingdom come," and "Thy will be done," they are endeavoring to have their own wills done, and to establish their own sectarian dominions in the world. Their fear of God and their unrest in view of his supposed decrees, is not the result of the study of his Word, but is taught by the precept of men. Alas, how pitiable this condition! Yet they are ignorant of it, and say, We are rich and increased in goods and have need of nothing, and know not that they are poor and blind and miserable and naked. (Rev. 3:17.)
Seeing it is thus, what shall the Lord do with them? Will he utterly cast them off? Will he leave them in their blindness? No. He says, "Therefore, behold I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder; for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid." (V. 14.)
As this already becomes evident to many, what a marvelous thing it seems to those accustomed to look to the professed leaders and teachers of the nominal Church. As the light of truth begins to dawn upon many minds from other sources, how often we hear the remark, "How strange that we do not hear these things from our ministers!" But the Prophet makes answer: "The wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid." The heavenly wisdom is hidden from those who are wise and prudent after the world's fashion, and revealed unto those who are babes in simplicity and meekness. (Matt. 11:25.)
God will not leave his erring children; he will attract their attention back to his plans, causing all their plans to wonderfully miscarry and fail. Thus they shall see the folly of attempting to lay plans for God; and when their plans fail, they will look up, and lo! the Lord's plans, which in their "haste" (Isa. 28:16) they discarded, will, like the century plant, suddenly burst forth in glory and beauty and perfection.
Meantime, while the "marvelous work" (v. 14) of overthrowing the present great systems of men (which, like the tower of Babel, is an attempt on the part of men to work their plans regardless of the Lord's) is in progress, the Lord's warning is, "Woe to them that seek deep to hide their counsel [schemes, plans,] from the Lord, and their works [R588 : page 5] are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us, and who knoweth us?" (V. 15.)
It is possible to deceive fellow-men, and to convince them that certain plans are not different from, but in harmony with, the Lord's plans. Yea, a man may also deceive even himself thus (2 Tim. 3:13); but he cannot deceive God. He knows that the controlling principles of sectarianism are earthly and selfish. He knows of the dark works and secret conspiracies in wrong, not only of the Jesuits, but also, in a less degree, of Protestants, who to accomplish their plans are willing to, and do resort, to many schemes and devices to raise money and to have their systems seem to flourish, which they would not care to have generally known among men, and which they seem to think God seeth not. How often reports are doctored to make a good impression. How often subscription lists are headed with prominent names and large sums of money only for effect, and never expected to be paid. (This not infrequent custom was illustrated recently by the course of the officials of a prominent Brooklyn church, freely criticised by the public press.) All this is ostensibly to forward the Lord's work, but really to accomplish their own plans.
"Who seeth it? Who knoweth it?" The Lord seeth in secret; in vain do they hide it, and tell him that they are laboring for him. Woe unto these, for their counsel shall come to naught; their cherished plans shall fail, and their pride will be humbled in the dust. The woe, distress and trouble coming upon the nominal Church will be in reality a blessing in disguise to the individuals that compose it; but it will be considered as calamity and trouble, until they are brought to understand and to come into harmony with God's plans.
But all this scheming will not succeed; for the Lord says, "Surely your turning of things upside down [perverting of the Lord's plans and doctrines] shall be esteemed as the [effort of the] potter's clay [to oppose the potter]. For shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? Or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He hath no understanding?" Surely the Church is God's creation; it is "his workmanship" (Eph. 2:10), but the spirit of the nominal Church is to look to other framers. Some look to Peter, some to Luther, some to Calvin, Knox and Wesley. And indeed, as they at present stand, this is true, for while THE CHURCH is God's workmanship, the division of that Church into fragments is the work of men, and may say to God, Thou hast not made me. And the fact that men to-day argue that the division (sectarianism) of the Church is an advantage, and to the advancement of the truth, is the equivalent of the thing framed saying to God, "Thou hast no understanding"; we know better how to frame and organize; you said that we all should be one, and that there should be no division among us (John 17:11,22; 1 Cor. 12:25); but we have learned better – that divisions are a great blessing and advantage.
Verily the great Potter shall have the schemes of the clay in derision, and shall break in pieces their workmanship [the systems or organizations, not the people] as vessels of wrath fitted for destruction, and shall show forth in glory of kingdom power his vessels of more and of less honor. What if God, willing to show his wrath and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction; and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy which he had afore prepared unto glory? Surely the present overturning of the Lord's arrangements shall be brought to naught.
"Is it not yet a very little while, and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field; and the fruitful field shall be esteemed a forest." (Verse 17.) Mount Lebanon, with its tall and stately cedar trees, will here represent the majesty and dignity of the nominal Church, and the reverential esteem with which its ministry is regarded. The fruitful field might well represent the humble and lowly saints. In "a very little while" things shall be reversed; that which is now proud and majestic shall be cut down and plowed, and become humble and fruitful, while that which is now humble will be exalted as Lebanon to heavenly conditions, majesty and power.
This change, and this overthrow of the present systems, is at the time of the exaltation of the saints to spiritual glory and power, at the introduction of the Millennium. In harmony with this we read: "In that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness." What a blessed prospect is this for those who at present are so stumbled by Babylon's confusing traditions! Not only will it bring blessing to those whose vision is obscured, but also to those totally blind and deaf and utterly ignorant of the precious information of God's Word. "The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel; for the terrible one [Satan] is brought to naught, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch [R590 : page 5] for iniquity are cut off: that make a man an offender for a word [spoken contrary to them], and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate [publicly], and turn aside the just [the righteous] for [or, as] a thing of naught." (V. 21.)
This is in that same "DAY" that fleshly Israel shall be restored to favor under the direction of glorified spiritual Israel, their holy one. "Therefore, thus saith the Lord who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: Jacob shall not now [at that time] be ashamed, neither shall his face wax pale. But when he seeth his children, the work of my hands [the Christ, the spiritual seed] in the midst of him, they [fleshly Israel] shall sanctify my name [Jehovah], and sanctify the holy one of Jacob [Christ], and shall fear the God of Israel." (Verses 22,23.)
"They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine." (V. 24.)
Has He not said, "Acknowledge Him in all thy ways, and He shall direct thy paths." – Prov. 3:6.
"The Lord will guide thee continually." – Isaiah 11:58.
"He will be our guide, even unto death." – Psalm 48:14.
"Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel." – Psalm 73:24.
"The meek will He guide in judgment." – Psalm 25:9.
This guidance in judgment will be God's guidance for the knowing of His will. As we honor him by perfect obedience and submission of spirit, he takes into his own hand the direction of our way, and calls on us only to follow the leader, who will make plain paths for our feet through all the journey.
As well ask, how know the voice of a most intimate friend or companion? Has not intimacy with that friend in familiar converse, as you have walked in companionship together, made the voice to be as well known as your own? Cultivate, then, like intimacy with God; walk with him and talk with him hour by hour, and in the freedom you have with a personal friend. Cultivate such a sense of His living presence that you will learn to speak to Him, as well as of Him, most freely and without embarrassment. Living thus in companionship with God, for companionship implies converse, you will learn to know God's voice when he speaks; and as you bring all your thoughts into captivity to the obedience of Christ, habituating yourself to speak to him of all that you do, holding nothing back, you will find it most easy to lay down the task in which you may be engaged, at any moment, to hold intercourse with Jesus as your loving friend. Living thus, you will not fail to know God's voice when he speaks to you.
Then, again, with your soul baptized in love – in the love of the Lord Jesus – you will live in such an assurance of God's love to you, that there will be no questioning in your mind as to his responding to the longing desire of your heart to know his will. Thus, thus, you will be at rest, assured He will no more fail in this than in giving you your daily bread. As well may you question your receiving salvation as divine guidance, and that up to the full measure of your faith in His own words of promise, for they are as full and complete.
Again. How recognize the voice as God's voice amid the confusion that comes from another spirit than the good Spirit of God. John bids us "try the spirits, whether they are of God," and in referring us, in the trying, to the Word itself, we are told that the Spirit's confession of Christ – exaltation of Christ – in the exhibitions of His love, unerringly declare it to be of God's good Spirit, so moving the heart that the voice will be known as God's voice. God speaks, then, not only by His Spirit, but by His Word, and with the eye single and the heart fixed on knowing His will, it will be revealed as His voice through the light the blessed Spirit sheds upon the Word.
If, then, there be in the heart a desire for guidance in any of the relative duties of life, divine light will be shed upon every step of the way through the Word, under the illuminating power of the Spirit. God's words are made living words, and will be spoken afresh as His voice expressing His will, as certainly as we ask, expecting to know it. In singleness of eye for God's glory the Holy Spirit purifies the vision; the scales fall; we see clearly; we know God's will, for the voice is His to us, and in the consciousness our steps are ordered of the Lord we testify that "He leadeth us."
The result, then, of carrying "everything to God in prayer," everything pertaining to this life, that you may know His will, desiring obediently to do it, will beget such a susceptibility to hear the slightest whisper that you will learn to know it as clearly as the father of our race knew God's voice, spoken to him in the cool of the evening, as he walked in the garden of Eden.
And then, in the depth of your consciousness, you will find yourself learning to catch the reverberation of His voice in every sound of nature, in the intervals of thought, as they come in the occupations of life. If you have the first lessons to learn in divine guidance, read the eighth and tenth verses of the 143d Psalm, and with those on your lips take the matter on which you would have light to God. Ask Him to guide you; and with no will of your own, no choice as to the pathway, trusting everything to God, while silently waiting to hear his voice, as God is true it will be given you to know His will. You will hear it saying, "This is the way; walk ye in it." As you enter upon the doing of it, opposing obstacles will disappear, for the voice of God's providence is in unison with that of the Spirit and the Word.
Jesus, when speaking to the disciples concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, says, "Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter." The careful and unprejudiced Bible student sees that the destruction of ancient Jerusalem is a type of the dissolution of the nominal Christian Church; that the latter is due at the end of this age, according to prophecy, even as the destruction of Jerusalem was due at the close of the Jewish age: that what was an historical fact regarding the former, is a spiritual fact, further on, concerning the latter; that the latter is the counterpart of the former, and so treated by Jesus in the 24th of Matthew; so much so that many have found it difficult to tell where his predictions concerning the one ended and the other began.
How many, recognizing that the summer of "the Church's" prosperity is ended, and the "harvest past," are getting uneasy as the winter approaches and the love of many waxes cold; and their unrest is increased in proportion as they come to realize the shortness of the bed, and the narrowness of the covering.
Then again the contraction of these necessary comforts of a cold winter's night become the more apparent as they come to "understand doctrine." (See Isa. 28:19,20. margin.) However strange and unreasonable this dissolution of the nominal Church system may seem to some, the Lord will "bring to pass his act, his strange act. Now therefore be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong." (Isa. 28:21,22.)
There has come to be so much "vain worship," because "teaching for doctrine the commandments of men," (Matt. 15:9), that the removal of the "candle-stick out of his place," has become a necessity. (Rev. 2:5.) "The light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee." (Rev. 18:23.)
Who are they that get uneasy in the churches? Are they those who do not study their Bibles much? Mind, we say study; not look over the S.S. lesson and prepare one's self to answer the geographical and historical questions, but who wish to know what is "between the lines," and "under the letter." Are not the uneasy "troublers of Israel" the ones who "inquire and search diligently"? "Searching what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them (the prophets) did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow"?
Is it not plain enough to all of us, that anyone who, in the Church, shall persistently [R591 : page 5] make such inquiries will be reproved for "prying into things which are not for us to know"? Now it is not for us to tell individuals what is their personal duty. It is our place to speak of principles in their general application and each must judge about the particular application to himself. Jesus spoke very plainly about the condition of the Jewish Church in that time, and of a certain class, but seldom or never of any one individual in it. His condemnation was of corrupt principles and corrupt classes, and was in public.
He says concerning his teaching, "In secret have I said nothing." (John 18:20.) But why should Jesus, or we, condemn the Church, either Jewish or Christian? Did not God institute the Jewish Church? Yes, and for a purpose. That purpose was to shadow forth, through the law, which was committed unto them, "good things to come"; for they "could never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect: for then would they not have ceased to be offered ...for it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins." (Heb. 10:1,2,4.) "The way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices that could not make him that did the service perfect as pertaining to the conscience." Heb. 9:8.
But there came a time when the Jewish Church should have known that its mission in that particular phase was ended; but, owing to its pride, love of self, having an imposing ceremonial service and love of the "applause of men," it overlooked God's purposes, and "knew not the time" of its "visitation," and Jesus, in sorrow, said, "If thou hadst known, even THOU (mark well the words, "even THOU") at LEAST in this THY DAY, the things that belong unto thy peace, but now they are hid from thine eyes." Luke 19:42,44.
She has purposes of her own, and thinks, or supposes they are God's purposes, [R591 : page 6] but so intent is she upon self-aggrandizement, that she cares not to review the lessons of the great teacher, lest she should be under the necessity of modifying her views, and that would wound her pride. SHE modify her views!! Is she not infallible? "As is the mother, so are the daughters."
They are not slow to speak of a certain aged woman as a "mother of harlots," while everybody knows that that same old lady is their mother. The same record that tells us of the disreputable character of the aged matron, gives us no intimation that she had any daughters of a different character. And while they are thus traducing the character of their mother and expatiating upon their own purity, the gay world turns its face aside to avoid the corrupt breath, and takes a furtive glance at the scanty garments that scarce hide the shame of their nakedness. (See Rev. 3:18.)
Some may say as they read these lines, "O what bitterness and hate of the Church," to which we answer: not at all: far from it. We are saying, in the same way, in the same spirit, and for the same purpose, that which the Spirit said through John "unto the churches." In fact, we believe the same Spirit prompts us to repeat the same things, and though plain and straight, they are in love. Rev. 3:19,20,21,22.
The same "head of the corner" is present and being "rejected" by the builders now, that was rejected by the builders before. To be sure, they did not know that they were rejecting Him, (Luke 23:34) but they did not want to know. They "desired none of his ways." If anyone who is still in fellowship with any of the "daughters" referred to, and are becoming aware of "the presence" of him in whom their "soul delighteth," think we are in error about the churches rejecting him, just let them announce that he is present, "at the door"; let them offer to "open the door," and their uncertainty will soon vanish. They will soon discover not only what is duty, but what is necessity, for they would have to hold their peace or change their relation, that is, if the fact is an example for the future.
The question, "What is my duty?" resolves itself into this: Do I love more the one who stands at the door knocking, or the Church who is refusing him admission, and who is saying, "My Lord delayeth his coming, and shall begin to beat the men-servants and maidens, and to eat and drink and to be drunken?" "The lord of that servant will come (HEKO, BE HERE) [will have come. Rotherham's trans.] in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not AWARE." (Luke 12:45,46.)
The drunkenness referred to is of the spirit and mind, and its effects are described in Isaiah 29:9-16.
However "the Church" may question "the presence" of Christ, if you who are inquiring as to duty have studied the Old and New Testament prophecies carefully, you have a strong conviction of what is truth.
You understand that the word come in Matt. 23:36; 24:14; 24:50; Luke 12:46; Heb. 10:37; Rev. 3:3, and some others, is in the Greek heko, and signifies "to have come, be here," not future tense, but present. And in Matt. 24:3, "Parousia, a being alongside, presence.
What shall be the sign of thy coming (presence.) "WHERE is the promise of his coming?" (presence.) This very inquiry, prophetically given by Peter (2 Peter 3:4), is most literally fulfilled; almost the exact words being used by those who sneer at his presence.
They see no evidence of his presence; "all things continue as they were." They profess to be spiritually-minded, but reason according to the fleshly mind. Professing spiritual sight, they reason (?) about seeing Jesus with their physical sight.
"If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." Do not imagine that the winter is over, because we have had some cold weather (do not forget that we are speaking of spiritual things); for be ye assured it is just coming on; and though you may have put off "your flight," yet the longer you defer it, the harder it will be for you.
One of the greatest trials will be the desire, augmented by the exhortation, to look after spiritual children (proselytes to "the Church"); but Jesus said, "Woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days. A failure to observe God's orderly method brings disaster, even if it is a desire to make a nice sacrifice to him. See Sam. 15:15-17,22, "To obey is better than sacrifice."
Our choice was, that as he could not come in, we would "go out to meet him," for we loved him best. It cost us a hard struggle, but it was a struggle once for all, and we have not seen an hour in which we would undo it if we could. How much we see now in connection with him, which we never could have seen but for nearness to him. We had no ill-will for any individual in "the Church," and that made it all the harder. But "the Church" was "making the Word of God of no effect" through their tradition, and we knew it. Should we stay, and by staying say to the world that we endorsed its teaching?
In conclusion we would say to any who are inquiring, "What is my duty?" that if you believe "the Church" is teaching "present truth," and is approved of the Lord, we would advise you to remain in it; for under such circumstances you would be as well in it as out of it, and temporally, probably better. If you belong to the Church in spirit, there is no reason for leaving it. It all depends upon which life you are most desirous to save. If you desire, above all things, to save your present social and ecclesiastical life, including reputation, then by all means stay where you are, for that is the way to do it (Matt. 16:25), but should you count these as Paul did, "but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus," you must expect to have your name cast out as evil, but with this will be connected a blessing. (Matt. 16:22.) Then you can fulfill, as we do, the following verse, 23d.
In connection with this subject let us study carefully the 18th chapter of Revelations, with parallel Scriptures, and see that we get an understanding of them. "After these things." (1st verse.) What things? After all the things related up to that point had been accomplished. Now, study the whole chapter, and be sure to get the "mind of the Spirit." But should some one say to you, "There is no use studying Revelation, no one understands that; there is no use reading it," then read to them the third verse of the first chapter of the book, and tell them that by the grace of God you will at least TRY to get an understanding of it, for you are after that blessing.
The Christian Church as a witness for God in the world has failed, like the Jewish nation, and became apostate. There is a little flock, there is a true Church, but its members are scattered abroad and almost invisible in the great Babylon; they are the seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal; they are called, and chosen and faithful, who follow the Lamb; they are those who have turned to God, from idols, to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven; they are those who have not the form only, but the power of godliness; those who keep themselves unspotted from the world, and overcome through faith. They are found in every section of the professing church, and the Lord knoweth those that are His – "They shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my jewels."
But for the rest – for the vast professing body which bears the name of Christ, it has not continued in the goodness of God; it has turned his grace into licentiousness; its sentence is gone forth, it must be "cut off." The longsuffering of God has been abundantly manifested; it is right that his holy severity should be again revealed. The professing church has long been unworthy of the sacred name it bears, and of the high and holy responsibility of becoming God's witness on earth, which belongs to it. It is time it should cease to hold the position it has so fearfully forfeited. Instead of being the instrument of spreading the truth of the Gospel among men, it is the worst hindrance to their attaining that knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ whom he has sent, in which life eternal lies. Like the Pharisees of old, it stands as the great obstruction, neither itself entering the kingdom, nor suffering those who would to enter in. The name of God is blasphemed among the nations, by reason of the corruption of the professing church; the light that should have been in it is become darkness, and great is that darkness! The Church is confounded with the world, and the true saints are strangers in its society. It is no longer the pillar and ground of the truth – it is the hot-bed of heresy, false doctrine, and corruption of every kind. What contrast can be more complete than that between the Church as Christ intended it to be, and the Church as it now exists in the world! An end must come to all this! Not only does the Word of God predict it, not only does our own sense of righteousness demand it, but the solemn analogies of history distinctly intimate it. Let the undeniable fact that past apostasies brought down the judgment they deserved, forewarn men what must be the end of existing apostasy of the professing people of God. Babylon must fall! Great Babylon must come in remembrance before God, who will give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath, for her sins have reached unto heaven and God hath remembered her iniquities.
"The great day of His wrath is come; who shall be able to stand?" (Rev. 6:17.)
The "Day of the Lord" is a term which, strictly speaking, refers to the whole period during which Christ will be present, or the entire Millennial Age. But it is generally applied in the Scriptures to the coming or beginning of that day; to the period of time during which the Gospel and Millennial Ages lap, the one ending and the other commencing.
Concerning it we read, "The day of the Lord is darkness, and not light." (Amos 5:18.) It is "the great day of his wrath." This dark day is at once the closing scene of the night of weeping and the dawn of the morning of joy. And we would invite your attention, not merely to the scriptural evidence that there will be such a day, but especially to the events that will transpire during that day, and their chronological order.
This time of trouble comes first upon the Church, and afterward upon the world; but in our examination we will consider first the trouble of the nations during the day of the Lord. This trouble will be the natural consequence of the transfer of rulership from the Devil, who is the prince of this world, (John 14:30) to "him whose right it is" – Christ. (Ezek. 21:27.) And referring to that time, it is said, "And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come." (Rev. 11:18.)
Unquestionably the kingdoms of this world are loyal to their prince. They are mainly controlled by selfish, and frequently by corrupt men, who, though unconsciously, have become the representatives of the prince of darkness, working his will. But when the rightful King takes control, he declares, "I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdom of the nations." (Hag. 2:22.) And thus "the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ." (Rev. 11:15.) First they must be brought to submission by chastisement, and then we read that all people, nations and languages shall serve him. (Daniel 7:14,27.)
The trouble is graphically described by the Prophet: "That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess....I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord....Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord's wrath." (Zeph. 1:15-18.) "Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger; for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent." (Zeph. 3:8,9.) So extreme is the trouble here described that the world is figuratively said to be burned up by the Lord's anger. Yet the effect is good, for after this indignation against and destruction of kingdoms, the people remain, and are so affected by the trouble that "they serve the Lord with one consent."
We expect that this distress and trouble will all come about in a very natural way. Very many Scriptures seem to teach that the kingdoms of the earth will be overthrown by an uprising of the people, goaded to desperation from a sense of injustice, and seeking relief from oppression. Such an uprising and overturning, Socialists, Nihilists and Communists of to-day would gladly bring about if they could. Though the Scriptures recognize wrong and oppression as existing in the governments of the nations, and foretell this to be the means of their overthrow, yet they do not authorize God's children to oppose them. They show us that some agencies not in themselves good, will be made use of in destroying present evil governments, thus accomplishing the Lord's purpose, though they will not be aware that they are being so used. "Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain." (Psalm 76:10.)
In harmony with this are the words of the Apostle James (5:1-4, Diaglott) – "Come now, ye rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are approaching. Your riches have decayed, and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have become rusted, and the rust of them will be for a testimony against you, and will eat your bodies as fire. [The rich will share in the trouble of the nations because so closely identified with them]. You have laid up treasures for the Last Days. Behold! that hire which you fraudulently withheld from those laborers who harvested your fields, cries out; and the loud cries of the reapers have entered into the ears of the Lord of Armies."
Rev. 6:15-17 describes the distress of that time, saying, "The kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bond man, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?" The powers of earth will seek to make alliances with one another for self-protection, and to hide themselves from the sure-coming storm. And individuals will seek to be covered and protected by the great mountains (kingdoms) of earth, and to be hid in the great ROCKS (protective secret societies). But they shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord's anger; for all the kingdoms of the world shall be thrown down, and instead of these the kingdom of the Lord becomes a great kingdom, and fills the whole earth. (Dan. 2:35-45.)
Malachi (4:1) describes the coming day of trouble, and sees the anger of the Lord there displayed – the fire of God's jealousy: "Behold the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be [R592 : page 7] stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up." Here the wicked are symbolized by stubble, God's wrath by fire, and the righteous by calves of the stall (verse 2). [R593 : page 7]
Peter describes this day of the Lord (2 Peter 3:10), and under the symbol of heavens refers to the governments – the higher or ruling powers. "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise [overthrow of governments, with great confusion] and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also, and the works that are therein shall be burned up." The elements of the (heavens) governments, as well as of (earth) society in general, will be dissolved in the great trouble (fire) of that day.
The Scriptures also teach that while other nations fall during the day of the Lord, the long cast off nation of Israel will gradually come into prominence and be established in the land promised to their forefathers. They will doubtless go to Palestine, not through respect to promises of God of national restoration, but with true Jewish perception they will realize before others the danger to which property, &c., will be exposed, and choose to be far away from the strongholds of communism. Persecution and various other circumstances will also serve to drive them thither.
Yet even there they will not long remain secure, for the Lord shows us through the Prophet Ezekiel (chap. 38) that when gathered out of all nations and dwelling safely, having silver and gold and cattle and goods, many nations shall come up against them to take a spoil and a prey; but the Lord shall deliver them with a marked deliverance, as in the day of battle in former times. And in this deliverance they shall recognize his hand and the Messiah, their deliverer.
Zech. 14:1-4 describes the battle then fought. "Behold the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoils shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken and the houses rifled, and half of the city shall go forth into captivity." Here God interposes and defends them, and here they come to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. "Then shall the Lord go forth and fight against those nations as when he fought in the day of battle" – as he fought for them in olden times. They will recognize the Lord in their miraculous deliverance from their enemies. He shall be revealed in flaming fire taking vengeance. (2 Thes. 1:8.)
In Zech. 12:3, God declares that he will deliver them, though all the people of the earth be gathered against them. Verse 10 describes their recognition of Him whom they have pierced, and their sorrow when, in that day, God "pours upon them the spirit of grace and supplication."
The Church's trial or judgment, which has been going on during this age, ends in this day of the Lord. Paul points to this day as the time for the consummation of the Church's hope, saying: "He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Phil. 1:6.) He expected to rejoice in the day of Jesus Christ that he had not run in vain, neither labored in vain; and he urged the Church also to so labor and so run, that they might share in the same rejoicing in that day. (Phil. 2:14-18.) And when about to die he pointed forward to the day of the Lord as the time when he might expect his reward, saying: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."
Again this is called the Day of Redemption, and the saints are said to be sealed unto the day of redemption. (Eph. 4:30.) And the Holy Spirit of promise which we received after that we believed, is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession unto the praise of his glory. (Eph. 1:13,14.)
What is the purchased possession? It is all that Christ bought with his blood; it includes the world of nature – "I will give thee the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." (Psa. 2:8.)
But evidently the purchased possession here referred to is the Bride of Christ – "Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for it, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing." (Eph. 5:27.) This is the special possession, which he purchased, which still awaits redemption – for "we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit: the redemption of our body" – the body of which Christ is the head. (Rom. 8:23.)
The parable of the wheat and tares (Matt. 13) gives us a sketch of the Church's history from beginning to end. Jesus and the Apostles planted the good seed (truth), which sprang up and brought forth wheat. But while men slept the enemy brought in tares, until now the Church nominal abounds with tares, and a great separation becomes necessary, that the true wheat may be separated from the false. And this separating and gathering time is termed a harvest.
The Lord foresaw and intended that wheat and tares should grow together, for he said, "Let both grow together until the harvest." In the time of harvest the separating work is to be accomplished. When the division is accomplished, the wheat alone will represent the kingdom or Church of Christ, while the Church nominal will fall and be broken.
We are led to believe from various Scriptures that this fall of the great mass of the Church nominal, will be caused by the spread of infidelity, which seems to be described, in Psalm 91, as a great pestilence. There will be but one class that will be exempt from its evil influence, and that will be those Christians who have made the Most High their habitation, and who are acquainted with the Word of God. A thousand shall fall at their side, and ten thousand at their right hand; but the pestilence shall not come nigh them, because they have taken HIS TRUTH, and not human tradition, as their shield and buckler.
This answers the question of our text – "Who shall be able to stand?" This is the company, but it is only a little flock, as our Lord foretold it would be. These shall be accounted worthy to escape all those things coming on the world, and shall STAND in the presence of the Son of Man. (Luke 21:36.) "And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him." (Mal. 3:17.)
But there is a class mentioned, and I fear they are not few, who, while servants, are not faithful servants, waiting for the Lord, but who are engaged in revelry, eating and drinking with the world. "The Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of the teeth." (Matt. 24:51.)
These are not hypocrites, but unfaithful servants, who thereby lose the reward to which the faithful attain; but through the Lord's mercy they may come up out of great tribulation by washing their robes (Rev. 7:14); and though not privileged to be the bride of Christ, to which high office they were called, they are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. (Rev. 19:9.) Alas! it would seem that there are many such virgins, but not wise – wheat, but not ripe wheat, not ready to be garnered. They are living far below their privilege, and will suffer great loss.
Unlike these will be the "little flock" who obey the Master's injunction to "watch," and who follow his example of self-sacrifice. He did not tell us just when the dawn of the day would come, for he wanted to keep us continually on the watch. But when the time should come, he shows that such watching ones would know it. Referring to the signs of his coming and the end of the age, he said, "When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors." Matt. 24:33.
Paul says, in 1 Thes. 5:1,2, "Of the times and seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you, for yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night" – to the world, as the next verse shows. The world will know nothing of what is coming, and will be taken unawares; and many of the Lord's servants having fallen asleep, are not watching as commanded. Some are overcharged with the cares of this life, and some are intoxicated with the spirit of the world; only a few are watching. Will these know? Yes, "Ye brethren are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are the children of light, and the children of the day; we are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as do others; but let us watch and be sober." (1 Thes. 5:4-6.)
We have a steady lamp to guide our feet, a sure word of prophecy unto which we do well to take heed as unto a light shining in a dark place until the day dawn. Let us keep our lamp trimmed and burning, and ourselves awake and watching. Our lamp shows that the great day of the Lord has already come, that the harvest work is progressing under the direction of the Lord of the harvest, now present. The faithful bride is even now making herself ready, and soon will enter into the joys of her Lord.
The invisible, the supernatural, the divine, seem to be unloosing themselves from our grasp, dissolving into unrealities and uncertainties, which we are fain to call mysteries in order to persuade ourselves that we have not quite lost all, or at least that we have got something in their place! Invisible personalities lose all reality, and Him who is infinitely personal, the King eternal, immortal, and invisible, we often find the most difficult of all to realize.
Faith thus ceases to be faith, even when retaining the name; for faith is the recognition of truth as certainty, not as probability. It is no longer the substance of things hoped for, or the evidence of things not seen. At the best it is but a struggle to believe, a struggle against some adverse power that is unconsciously drawing us backward. With many it seems rather a desire not to believe, a secret preference for doubt, as nobler and more independent than faith. We grope, and pray, and strive, and weep, but the reality comes not; nay it seems to recede farther from us every day.
The age tosses, like a fevered man upon his sick-bed, seeking rest but finding none. It tries variety, as men in quest of health try change of air. It rejects finality or completeness, as associated with mental weakness, boasts are into the region of uncertainty, not of certainty; into the domain of hypothesis, not of induction and demonstration. They vanish successively in vapor, and leave only pestilence behind them. The guesses at truth, numerous as they are, often plausible, sometimes beautiful, are the results more of fermentation than of life or growth.
Along with the believing heart the desire for its return has gone out with many, and the materials for faith are silently disappearing. Faith itself is regarded rather as a prison-house than a palace – a restraint upon thought, not an instrument for its development – linked with bondage, not with liberty. We see, and hear, and touch, and taste, but do we believe. We deal in make-believes, and fill up the hollowness thus created with pleasant dreams, for thorough believing would be limitation and finality, unworthy of intelligent humanity – subjection to a superhuman will and a mind outside of our own. The recognition of anything as true beyond the circle of our senses would land us in the supernatural; and the supernatural is fast becoming to multitudes but a wondrous day-dream – a fable of the mystic ages, like Homer's Olympus, or Virgil's Elysium.
The believing faculty of the age seems to be undergoing a change, or as our modern thinkers would say, "undergoing repairs." Its sphere is considered to have been too wide on some sides, and too narrow on others. Is it safe to credit what lies beyond the sweep of scientific vision? is the question that has broken in upon us with much earnestness. To deliver oppressed humanity from the trammels with which the faith of centuries has fettered it, is reckoned the chief mission of modern culture. This deliverance is to be achieved by first landing us in doubt, that out of that or unbelief a truer, nobler faith may grow. The Christendom of the past has been, it is supposed the Christendom of credulity; the Christendom of faith is now dawning. The credulity of the middle ages accepted miracles in thousands without evidence. Will the new faith of the nineteenth or twentieth century signalize itself by rejecting miracles, though certified by all the proof that the most trusted history has to rest upon? The founder of the new Christianity, the introducers of the Christ that is to be, think the supernatural a defect or blot upon the Bible. The defenders of the old Christianity, the believers in the Christ that is, cannot conceive of a Bible without the supernatural, and would deem the absence of the supernatural from any professed revelation a sufficient proof that it could not have come from God.
Modern infidelity waxes eloquent over the Romish and sectarian persecutions. We have no objections to this when the transactions are properly located, and duly credited where they belong. But there is a wholesale way of throwing all the iniquity in one direction, and quietly appropriating all the honors of martyrdom, which is not only unjust, but absolutely untruthful.
How quietly, for instance, the French revolution with its unparalleled horrors is slipped over by infidel orators and writers. The evident reason for this is that it was solely the work of infidelity. The infidel legislature of France declared, "There is no God but reason." They wrote upon the church-yard gates, "Death is an eternal sleep," and proclaimed liberty of conscience to all; but, inside of forty-eight hours, with genuine infidel consistency, they began to lead to the rack or the guillotine every man or woman who dared to assert that liberty.
"Infidelity is liberty;" yes, liberty to destroy, liberty to defame, liberty to crush all true religion; and when it holds the reins of power here as it held them in France, the purest blood of the nation will run through our streets as it ran through the streets of Paris in 1792 and 1794. History declares that 2,730 murders were committed in the name and for the sake of infidelity, during the space of sixteen months.
Nero was an infidel, and we commend the history of his reign to the attention of every man and woman. Tacitus tells us that Nero inflicted the most exquisite torture upon the Christians. He says they "died in torments, and their torments were imbittered by insult. Some were nailed upon crosses, others were sewed up in the skins of wild animals and exposed to the fury of dogs, others again were smeared over with combustible material and used as torches to illuminate the darkness of night." Says Gibbon, "The most skeptical criticism is obliged to respect the truth of this most extraordinary fact, and the integrity of this celebrated passage from Tacitus."
Domitian and Caligula were infidels, and every historian is aware of the fact that panoramic views of their reigns are [R594 : page 8] horrible companion pieces to the reign of Nero. Says Prof. Tyndall, "The sufferings of the early Christians and the extraordinary exaltation of mind which enabled them to triumph over the diabolical tortures to which they were subjected, must have left traces not easily effaced."
And yet a prominent skeptic declares in the face of an intelligent public, "You have burned us at the stake, roasted us upon slow fires, torn our flesh with irons; you have covered us with chains, you have filled the world with fear, you have taken our wives and children from our arms," etc.
We ask in the name of simple truth and common justice. Who is it that have suffered these things? The answer comes from every page of history, that it is the followers of Christ who have clung to him through the fires of persecution and floods of misfortune. They were believers in the Bible who went to the stake, else why were Bibles burned with them in the flames? Men do not go to the rack, the stake, or the guillotine rather than renounce their faith when they have no faith to renounce. Men and women do not choose to be placed in red hot iron chains, rather than to deny a Lord on whom they have never believed. Men do not submit to have their tongues cut out, to be thrown to wild beasts, or to perish in slow fires, in preference to recanting from a position which they have never assumed.
Celsus was not crucified. Porphyry was not banished. Julian did not suffer, save at the hands of his own conscience. Voltaire was not thrown into a caldron of boiling oil. Paine was not burned at the stake, and modern skeptics are not placed in stocks or whipped in the streets.
It was men, women, yes, and children, who clung to the written word, when fire and flame and irons and lash were the reward for their fidelity. They have been driven to mountains and caverns, to wander in sheep skins and goat skins, they of whom the world is not worthy.
The same hands burned Christians that burned Bibles. They sought to crush the book and its believers by the same means. But the old book lives on unmindful of the waves that beat against the unfailing foundations.
It is still the "pillar of cloud" by day, and the "pillar of fire" in the nighttime of persecution, and thus it will ever be until the weary feet of God's little ones find rest upon the evergreen shores of eternal life.
BISMARCK has taken many a long step toward practical socialism; France has tried more than one fearful experience to save herself from the dangers of communism; American cities are trembling in the presence of a growling imperative proletaire. We may now close our eyes and ears against the claim of the laboring man, but we cannot do so long. Laborers may be unreasonable, may "strike" and fail as signally as the telegraphers did a few weeks ago, nevertheless they will yet force capital or State to hear them and to hear very thoughtfully, too. The property of the country is passing increasingly into the hands of the few; the voting power is in control of the many. The time will probably yet come when either the State or the parties themselves will determine that labor shall have a larger share of business profits than it now receives, or the laborers will take it by force!
This is one of the initial problems of the present; it will be the dangerous problem of the future, unless we begin to study it and to solve it at once. The pledge given in the Republican platform to labor that "the American workingmen shall have a fair day's wages for a fair day's work" is as essential as any other in that platform, and it will be as faithfully kept. It is a point of honor and of safety on which there will soon be but a single voice and purpose among the American people. We are now in the period of discussion, we shall soon be in the midst of experiment and of action.– Sel.
Being perplexed, I say,
Lord, make it right!
Night is as day to Thee,
Darkness is light.
I am afraid to touch
Things that involve so much.
My trembling hand may shake,
My unskilled hand may break;
Thine can make no mistake.
Being in doubt, I say,
Lord, make it plain!
Which is the true, safe way,
Which would be vain?
I am not wise to know,
Nor sure of foot to go;
My blind eyes cannot see
What is so clear to Thee –
Lord, make it clear to me.
In the February number of the Century magazine, just published, there is a suggestive article in the editorial department discussing the possibilities and probabilities "of a reunion in the future between the Roman Catholic and Protestant bodies."
The discussion of that subject in such a place is peculiarly significant, because the Century, though a secular periodical, has always been conducted with special reference to meeting the tastes and steering clear of the prejudices of the average Protestant public. Its original editor, Dr. Holland, was a strict Calvinist, and its chief owner and manager, Mr. Roswell Smith, is a prominent and pronounced Presbyterian.
The Century takes for its text the celebration of the four hundredth anniversary of Luther's birth, which, it says, brought to view the fact that "the religious reformation of the last four centuries has not been confined to the churches of the Reformers. A constant reformation in discipline, if not in doctrine," it thinks, "has been going on in the Church assailed by Luther."
So premising, this Protestant exponent shows that bonds of sympathy are now joining Catholics and Protestants to a degree which twenty-five years ago could not have been anticipated. It sees especially the growth of a feeling that these two great bodies of Christians need to be united to resist the onset of modern infidelity.
"As the conflict with Materialism and Agnosticism has been waxing hotter and hotter," to use the words of the Century, "it must have become evident to intelligent Protestants that they have in the Roman Catholic theologians a strong body of allies, with whom they ought to maintain friendly relations. It is not the Papacy, nor Calvinism, nor Trinitarianism, nor any other secondary Christian dogma, that is now on its trial," it says further, "but whether there is any such thing as religion – whether there is a conscious God and a life beyond the grave, and a free will, and a moral law."
The Century also renders just tribute to the exalted ethical standards of the Roman Church, and also to its courage and consistency in maintaining them against all efforts at compromise. It acknowledges, for instance, that "the Roman Catholic doctrine and practice regarding divorce are much closer to the law of the New Testament than those of the Protestant Churches have been." It speaks also of the "earnest effort at the present time to bring the practice of the Protestant Churches a little nearer to the Roman Catholic standard."
All this is in line with what we have repeatedly said. It becomes more and more evident every day that the civilized world is dividing into two classes, the believers and the unbelievers, the Christians and the Agnostics. The separation between them is not like that between Catholics and Protestants, which is caused by difference of dogma and ecclesiastical practice, while both agree on fundamental points of theology. It is total; for modern unbelief does not attack portions of the faith only, but rejects the whole, abandoning faith altogether. In its view, Christianity has no more supernatural basis than the mythologies which it has succeeded.
The ultimate union of all the forces of faith and theology to meet such an enemy, steadily increasing in numbers and audacity, seems therefore to be inevitable. Protestantism needs an alliance with Roman Catholicism to enable it to stand up against the current of modern skeptical thought. It requires the aid of the more steadfast and uncompromising body the more because many of its leading exponents and some of its chiefs who have hitherto been most trusted, are opening the gates of the fortress of faith to the hosts of infidelity. Even if they are not doing that, they are parleying with them, when there can only be war to the knife between the two.
There is no possible compromise between theology and modern infidelity. The Church must understand that, at the beginning. One or the other must triumph, and its victory will mean the utter destruction of the conquered. While the great contest is going on, intestine divisions must weaken the arm of faith, and we are not surprised that intelligent Protestants desire to heal them.– N.Y. Sun.
The above we clip from The Catholic, of this city. It goes to substantiate the teachings of the TOWER that the difference between the various daughters and the "mother" is more in forms, ceremonies and interests rather than in real differences of faith. The daughters have adhered so closely to the general plans, precepts and methods of the "mother" in their housekeeping that you can readily recognize her "marks" throughout. (Rev. 13:16.)
As for reform, while there has been some moral reform and advancement in the nominal Church, as well as in the world, yet so far as doctrinal reform goes, there has been practically none. The creeds of the daughters, as well as of the mother, are cast-iron – they cannot bend: they must break, or else those held by them continue in bondage to the views of the sixteenth century. Under such circumstances a doctrinal reformation is impossible, both to Protestants and Roman Catholics. That which is absolutely true and perfect cannot be reformed; and is not every creed of every sect held up as being the truth in full? If not, why make it a test of fellowship at all? Why subscribe to and bind yourself to believe and sustain that which does not claim to be the truth?
It is for this reason that we (and God's Word also) are opposed to formulated creeds. They fetter and bind the children of God, preventing growth "in grace and knowledge," and thereby hinder the reformation of doctrine, which should continue until we all come to a full appreciation of the revelation of God to man. Thus alone can we walk in the path of "the just," which "shineth more and more unto the PERFECT DAY."
On the contrary, as heretofore shown, the doctrines taught by Luther on many subjects were far in advance of those held by the body of Christians calling themselves by his name. Unknown to the majority of Lutherans, several points of Luther's original PROTEST nailed to the church door of Wittemburg are intentionally omitted by the "authorities" in that sect from the articles now handed them as the original teachings of the HEAD of their Church.
Doctrinally and practically, Protestantism has been drawing closer and closer every year to the parent system. They have made "an image" (Rev. 13:14) which so closely resembles the original that few points of difference are discernable, either by themselves or by the world. But what a wide difference exists between both these systems and the doctrines and practices of the Apostles' day!
We doubt whether any change in the training of clergymen will enable them to take that position of authority among men which would have been accorded to them unsought fifty years ago. People have learned in the meantime to prove all things and all men; to look through all fictitious claims; to go below costumes and office and rank, to the human soul underneath. They will not learn the lesson. The man in the pulpit will be to them always, as now, a fellow-sinner with the man in the pew. Presumably the clergyman is struggling to find the right road upward. If he has found it he is accepted as a guide. If he has solved any problem of the day his words will be listened to with respect and gratitude. But it will be because he has solved the problem, not because he stands in the pulpit. Authority has largely left the office, but it has descended with double force upon the man.– Exchange.
CLARKE says in his comment on 1 Cor. 15: "One remark I cannot help making; the doctrine of the resurrection appears to have been thought of much more consequence among the primitive Christians than it is now!" How is this? The apostles were continually insisting on it, and exciting the followers of God to diligence, obedience, and cheerfulness through it. And their successors in the present day seldom mention it! So the apostles preached, and so primitive Christians believed; so we preach, and so our hearers believe. There is not a doctrine in the gospel on which more stress is laid; and there is not a doctrine in the present system of preaching which is treated with more neglect.– Sel.
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