The Editor recognizes a responsibility to the Master, relative to what shall appear in these columns, which he cannot and does not cast aside; yet he should not be understood as endorsing every expression of correspondents, or of articles selected from other periodicals.
Foreign Postage being higher, our terms to foreign subscribers will be 65 cents a year. Please send us no foreign money or postage stamps, as we can make no use of them. Remittances may be made by Foreign Postal Money Orders.
This paper will be sent free to any of the Lord's poor who will send a card yearly requesting it. Freely we have received and freely we would give the truth. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat – yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." And you that have it – "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently – and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness." – ISAIAH 55:1,2.
The year just buried will be one long remembered by quite a number of our readers, as the one in which they first gained a knowledge of God's word and the gracious plan therein revealed. To some it has been full of trial, as the great Refiner and Purifier has had them in the furnace to separate the dross from the gold, and to cause them to reflect his image (Mal. 3:3). Happy are they who, being tried by the fire, have not been found wanting, but have had their hearts more firmly established in the truth, and who have let go of the traditions of men and taken hold more firmly than ever of God's gracious favor in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Looking forward, we can but expect the same work to continue until every part of our faith-building is tried, and the wood, hay and stubble all consumed; for "the day that cometh [is now present] shall try every man's work of what sort it is." (Mal. 4:1; 1 Cor. 3:13-15.) If in the past your building has stood the test and not been destroyed, rejoice; but still with trembling, remembering that the trial is not all over yet. "Be not high-minded, but fear." "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." If there is in your building anywhere that which will not stand the test of fire, it must go – replace it quickly by that which will abide.
If there is anything lacking in your consecration – if in anything you have a will not surrendered to and harmonized with God's will – take heed to it, for he will discover it. If, as one of his jewels, you are being polished to radiate his light, take heed that in you there shall be no self-will, which as a grit might cause a flaw and mar your beauty and acceptableness with him when making up the number of his jewels.
It is not probable, that trials, besetments and difficulties in the "narrow way" will be less in the year begun than in the one ended. The furnace gets hotter rather. Yet, let us remember that the greater our difficulties the greater the supply of "grace to help in every time of need," for which it is our privilege to call at "the throne of the heavenly grace." Call to mind the words: "My grace is sufficient for thee," and, "Count it all joy when ye fall into temptations," knowing that if exercised thereby they will work out for us an exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
The past year has made us acquainted with a larger number of sacrificers (Priests – 1 Pet. 2:9 – the Levites did not offer sacrifices) than we had before known. Men and women who not only hazard but spend, of their consecrated time, money, talent and reputation, in spreading the "glad tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people." Through these consecrated agencies the truth is reaching other sheep of the flock, who were famishing and ready to perish by the way for want of its sustaining power. And these methods and exertions are being abundantly blessed, not alone in feeding and refreshing the hungry, but also in the growth and development of those so engaged. Every exertion in the Lord's service, and done unto the Lord, is sure to bring a compensating reward and blessing upon the heart of the laborer.
The year commenced offers fresh opportunities for sacrificing service. None should feel discouraged at opposition, and because few will believe our report – our Gospel. It is the few who have "an ear to hear" that we should expect to reach. If you at any time feel discouraged, call to mind the Master's experience. If the majority heard his words, you might expect them to hear yours; but if as a mass they rejected his words, they will reject yours also. If they have called the Master Beelzebub, what more should we expect? It is sufficient that the disciple be as his Lord. (Matt. 10:25; John 13:16.) Then, with thanks for the past and present, and earnest prayer and confidence for the future, let us go forth with the whole armor of God girded on yet more securely, with the girdle of truth and trust; and grasping yet more firmly our shield of faith in his protecting care, and with the sword of the Spirit – his own Word – in hand, let us fight a good fight until we finish the work given us, that we may be of those accounted worthy to enter into the joys of their Lord.
"New mercies, new blessings, new light on thy way;
New courage, new hope, and new strength for thy day;
New notes of thanksgiving, new chords of delight;
New songs in the morning, new songs in the night.
New wine in thy chalice, new altars to raise;
New fruit for thy Master, new garments of praise;
New gifts for His treasures, new smiles from His face;
New streams from the fountain of infinite grace.
New stars for thy crown, and new tokens of love;
New gleams of the glory that waits thee above;
New light of His countenance, radiant and dear!
All this be thy joy in the happy New Year!"
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – I called at your place about ten days since, but you were not in, and as I had not time to wait to see you, although I should like very much to have a conversation with you, I scribbled a little note to you on the back of an envelope. I appreciated the November TOWER very highly, especially the revelation regarding Elijah. I can well conceive how this all appears foolishness to the world; but, thank God, my heart is open, and it is sweet to believe. Many antagonize our faith, but this very harsh, angry, blind, antagonism, both of those within and out of the Church, convinces me, or is to me another strong proof, of the correctness of our faith. How blind the world is! Even the educated will not believe. Why are we regarded with such contempt and our paper cast out as an evil thing? Surely it accepts the whole Scriptures, has the most thorough faith in Christ and his work, and only teaches holy living and more entire consecration to God. Thank God for the light he has granted to me, for the increased peace he is granting to me day by day! Not for the whole world would I be back again in the blindness and worse than Egyptian bondage of the church (nominal). I now feel free – as if a great burden had been lifted from me. Oh, that people would open their eyes to see! But God's will be done.
The TOWER is condemned without a thorough reading; this is plain to me from it being classed with the Day Star. Please let it be well known that there is no similarity between them. We build on the rock Christ Jesus, the Son of God, and affiliate with none who do not acknowledge him as such.
It is so lonesome here! There are none with whom we may hold Christian communion and fellowship; with whom we may converse on this glorious theme and plan. God grant us patience till the glorious day when all these crooked things shall be made straight! At present, here as elsewhere, the Church, or image, is engaged in the worship of that certainly good man, Martin Luther, to the exclusion of all else, at the same time giving warning to any other who may attempt to throw off the yoke as he did.
MR. C. T. RUSSELL, Sir: – I have been carefully reading the copies of the WATCH TOWER which you sent me, and have gained much information therefrom, but I am much perplexed as to how I should proceed. In the first place I am not a Christian; and have never made any profession, although I have been desiring to become a Christian for some time. I have listened with great attention to all the preachers who preach in this country, mostly "Cambellites," "Baptists," "Missionaries" and "Methodists," but up to the present time they have failed to convince me of the truth and harmony of their teachings. Since I have seen the TOWER, I have become very much interested, and would like very much to have some preaching from you, or from one of your belief. Yours is entirely a new doctrine in this neighborhood and but very few have read any of your papers. Some, but they are few, say they would not read them if they had them. I would like very much to read your "Food for Thinking Christians," as also would many of my friends. And now I have one question to ask, If I should become convinced that this is the true doctrine, how am I to become a Christian? In other words "What must I do to be saved?" Please answer this by letter for my benefit as I need advice. Awaiting your answer I remain
[We print this to show the effect of these doctrines upon the worldly. – Ed.]
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – For several months I have been corresponding with one of the most zealous opposers of this "nameless sect" as he says they are called. He and his son, as general Bible agents, have traveled extensively over northern Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Southern Dakota. In canvassing for Bibles, they have found the people greatly interested in these new truths and have opposed them with all their might, having gathered and destroyed over 300 copies of "Food for thinking Christians," thinking they were full of error of the most dangerous kind.
Having explained its beautiful harmony in the main, with the Bible, as well as I was able, he promised to study it carefully and prayerfully; he writes me that having studied it faithfully for five months, he now has digested the most of it and believes it to be God's truth. He regrets exceedingly that he has destroyed the books. It is his intention to go to Chicago soon. He is much interested in the "Watch Tower" and says he will subscribe for it when he settles in Chicago.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – I have read THE TOWER from January last with absorbing interest. God bless and speed the good work. I have long believed in a pure consecrated and holy ministry and church. But never have I so fully enjoyed my privilege as for the past few weeks and especially since Aug. 30, 1883. I spent forty years, five months, and ten days in the wilderness; but glory be to God I then entered Canaan. I am an evangelist and have been preaching the truth as I understood it for many years. I intend to keep on doing so. God has been wonderfully opening to me the Scriptures of late. I find a few hungry ones everywhere I go.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – The ZION'S WATCH TOWER was received with a hearty welcome; it is being read and re-read with increasing interest. For the past thirteen years I have been a member of the M.E. Church, adhering strictly to its discipline till within the past year. I read the Bible closely to see if they kept in close connection with the Word, but I found they did not. Then I sought to understand the will of God from his Word. I began to earnestly seek after truth, I compared the teaching of the Bible and the creeds together and I found that they would not stand the test as they are built principally of hay, wood and stubble. I looked to Jesus for help seeing what must be the end of all these man made creeds, yet I saw no way of escape. At last the TOWER was handed me and thank God the mist of darkness has been removed page 2 and rays of light are being thrown upon the work of God, which I now read with more interest and understanding. To-day I stand upon holy ground trusting in God's Word to guide me into all the ways of truth and soberness, believing in Jesus my Saviour, praying for my fellow travelers to be freed from Babylon's captivity, teaching all those I am competent to teach, distributing the TOWER to earnest seekers, wading through trials, bearing patiently the reproach of men, denying myself worldly gains, and trying to follow the footprints of Jesus. I have not language to express my gratitude for the help already received from your stand-point, and stand ready to receive more of the food for which my soul is earnestly hungering.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – My wife and I have been very much interested in reading a second time the articles in June, July and Sept. Nos. of the ZION'S WATCH TOWER on "The Seven Churches" and "The Seven Last Plagues." We have also been reading again Feb. and July Nos. the articles "Before Abraham was I am" and "Hear, O Israel! Jehovah Our God is one God."
Oh how the truth has opened up to our understanding. We cannot help but believe, and accept it, for it is now so clear to our own vision. We don't accept just because our brethren in Christ say – this is so, or that is so – but when we search and examine using God's word as our standard of measure and when we find that the explanations given stand the test, we feel like rejoicing.
I wish we – of this way – were able to have some of the articles, in the Nos. above referred to, published in tract or pamphlet form. But it might be, like many of the other pearls (of truth) which we have scattered – they would be trampled under foot, often by our dearest friends whom we had expected and hoped might appreciate them.
I have felt lately that the Lord has been using me. This affords me great satisfaction. But the Devil has been trying every artifice to hinder me, and obscure my vision, and cause me to stumble. He knows where I am most easily beset. It does take watching. How weak I am. My temper and my pride I find hard to control. When I have fought well and gained a victory for the Lord's cause, even while I rejoice, the devil steals in and before I know it I am puffed up, and therefore I almost fear to rejoice. I try to be meek and humble and to empty myself of "self," of "pride"; but how often I catch myself, even when contending for the truth – even while I rejoice and am feeling thankful to God that he has opened my understanding, revealed to me the truth, and given me ability to use my talents. Even while thus rejoicing and giving God thanks, the adversary steals in and endeavors to puff me up. This has been a great stumbling block to me from the beginning of my Christian experience.
While a member of the M.E. Church I could never speak nor pray in public on account of this "fear" of what people would think of my remarks or prayer, or that I might make a blunder. My thoughts would get confused as soon as I would begin to anticipate that I might be called on. Thus you see how the devil takes advantage of my natural weakness, want of self confidence, and my fear of making a blunder – the root of which I think is "pride." Oh what a hindrance, what a thorn this weakness has been to me all my life, not only hindering me from publicly speaking for Jesus, but it has hindered me from speaking in public on all subjects.
How can I overcome it? The weakness is perhaps constitutional. Will the Lord remove it?
In the hope of strengthening the children of God, who have placed themselves in the school of Christ, we would offer a few practical suggestions on methods of study and discipline. And first we remark, that none should expect to make progress in the truth who do not devote time and patient, persistent effort to it. Who would expect to become proficient in any branch of mathematics, science, or philosophy, without such study? And how much more important is Bible study.
The Bible seems to be an unfailing mine of wealth, at least none have ever yet exhausted its treasures; and we must give it patient, faithful study, if we would attain that degree of proficiency in it which the great teacher has a right to expect, and which the exigencies of the time in which we live necessitate. If Paul said we should need the whole armor of God to be able to withstand the fiery darts and wily arts of the adversary in this evil day, in all probability we shall not be able to stand, with much less than the whole armor.
We well know the difficulties and disadvantages under which many labor. We know the business, household and family cares that press upon the majority, but did you ever think that this very pressure of seeming necessity, is permitted to give you an opportunity to overcome and to sacrifice? If all the hindrances were taken out of the way your privilege of running the narrow way for the high calling would be gone. The Lord says, Be not overcharged with the cares of this life (Luke 21:34,) and again Paul says, "God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." 1 Cor. 10:13.
If, then, you are strongly tempted to be overcharged with the cares of life, know this, that such is not the will of God, and look out for the way of escape which he indicates. We are all more or less the creatures of habit, and generally we cling to them long after the necessity which first demanded them has passed. The brethren generally have their hours of labor fixed by the prevailing business customs, and have their evenings left free from care for study, but if they should find business demanding all their time and all their effort for any length of time, this is not the Lord's will; they are being overcharged and oppressed of the devil for the very purpose of retarding their spiritual progress; and a way of escape by change of business, or otherwise, should be sought with the Lord's assistance.
With the sisters the case is somewhat different; they have their time and arrangements more at their own command, but habit and early training prompt them to spend all available time in care for many things which ought to be dispensed with. Habits of close economy prompt many to do things which might be done by others, long after the necessity for such economy is past. And so they carry burdens themselves long after their children are able to share them. That daughter will be much better prepared for the after duties of life who early learns to share a mother's cares; and so, also, that son who learns early to feel and share the father's cares. Thus, much valuable time may be gained and utilized in the study of the word of God.
We know also that many have not formed habits of study and consecutive thought, yet all these difficulties may be overcome. It should be borne in mind also, that mere reading is not study. To take a Bible or a paper and sit where we are subject to interruptions, etc., is not study. Your children could never prepare their lessons for school in such a way. How then, you ask, shall we study? First, we would say, have some regular place, and time also, if possible, as free from interruptions as you can make it. Let the helps for study all be there. Then read critically, searching out references, and endeavoring to bring the subject in hand clearly before your mind. Take one subject at a time and master it before you leave it. Keep a file of your old papers on hand and within easy reach, and make an index of subjects. We are sorry to find that some have given away back numbers, which cannot now be replaced, but we hope none will do so in future. If you want sample copies for friends you can send for them.
After studying any subject, take pencil and paper and write out your understanding of it. This will greatly aid you in thinking and searching out all the evidence supplied in the Word on every subject. As you thus study you will be surprised to find how beautifully the Scriptures will fall into harmony on the line of truth, and how lack of harmony will reveal and expose error. Some will think they cannot do this because they have not been used to so studying, but the sooner you get used to it the better. It is possible for all, and your ability will increase with practice. You will then have a certainty of knowledge beyond the painful shiftings of doubt – a full assurance of hope well worth your most careful effort. The Spirit also will help our infirmities and lead such into all truth. "He that seeketh findeth."
Sarah Smiley, in her account of a tour in the Alps, recounts a touching incident and gives a beautiful illustration of Scripture-teaching concerning the generous help of our great burden-bearer. "In the summer of 1879," says the writer, "I descended the Rhigi with one of the most faithful of the old Swiss guides. Beyond the service of the day, he gave me, unconsciously, a lesson for life. His first care was to put my wraps and other burdens upon his shoulder. In doing this he called for all; but I chose to keep back a few for special care. I soon found them no little hindrance to the freedom of my movement, but still I would not give them up until my guide, returning to me where I sat resting for a moment, kindly but firmly demanded that I should give him everything but my alpenstock. Putting them with the utmost care upon his shoulders, with a look of intense satisfaction he led the way. And now, in my freedom, I found that I could make double speed with double safety. Then a voice spoke inwardly: 'O foolish, wilful heart, hast thou indeed given up thy last burden? Thou hast no need to carry them.' I saw it all in a flash; and then, as I leaped lightly from rock to rock down the steep mountain side, I said within myself: 'And even thus will I follow Jesus, my Guide, my burden-bearer. I will rest all my care upon Him, for He careth for me.'"– Selected.
Human nature is a mass of wants. The earliest cry of infancy means want of food, or sleep, or relief from pain. The silent appeal of old age in its arm-chair, is for a daily supply of daily necessaries. Columns of our daily journals are filled with the catalogue of "wants." The chief purpose of all trade, manufactures and commerce, is to supply the various needs of humanity; and God's grandest ministration of love is to supply the endless necessities of his dependent children.
What a glorious promise that is which Paul records in his letter to the generous Phillippians. They had been kind to him, and he writes back to them, "My God will supply all your need according to his riches in glory, by Jesus Christ." That is a divine promise, made to be kept. I can put that away where I put my U.S. bonds, with a comfortable certainly of no defalcation. This passage is one of the "Government Securities" of heaven. It is my God who issued the promise; my own personal Father. He does not bind himself to give me all I may lust after; no, not even all I may pray for. Many of my wants are purely artificial, and born of selfishness. I may crave wealth, and he may see that my soul would be richer if I were poor. I may ask for some promotion, and he may know that my way to holiness lies through a valley of humiliation and disappointment. So he only agrees to give me what I need, which is a very different thing from what I may be craving.– T. L. Cuyler.
You will remember that the first-born in all the houses in Egypt were to be killed, but God was going to pass over every house where the blood was upon the door posts and lintels. What blood? The blood of the lamb. They were to be perfectly safe if the blood was there, for God had said it. (Read carefully the account in Exodus 12.) The lamb's blood pointed to Jesus' blood to be shed long years after, and just as the children of Israel were perfectly safe on the dark night sheltered by the blood of the lamb, so every one sheltered by the blood of God's lamb, Jesus, is just as safe as in the presence of God. As many as received Him, (Jesus) to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.– Selected.
When you can do no more, stand. "Having done all things, stand." But beware how and where you stand. "Stand fast in the faith." Stand on covenant ground. Stand with face to foe. Stand watching, waiting, victorious. "Stand still and see the salvation of God." Stand not in your own caprice, or by human order. Even though Red Sea barriers lie across your way it may be the will of God that you go forward without a halt. It is easier to march than to stand. It is easier to rush forward to the charge than to stand still and receive the fiery assault. The good soldier must be ready for both. They serve well who march and fight for their king. But "they also serve who only stand and wait." Patience and fortitude are precious in the sight of God, and "to obey is better than sacrifice." Where patience can have her perfect work, whether in the stress and strain of conflict, or in the trial of waiting, there it is good to be.– Selected.
"Look at the time of Moses. Every morning, perhaps at 9 o'clock, a sermon was preached, (we may say an object-lesson was given), of which the text was The Lamb slain. And there might be twenty other offerings going on at the same time, and others continuing all day. In the evening the same sermon was preached from the same text. For we may regard the morning and evening sacrifice of the lamb as the same sermon daily repeated for 1500 years. I wonder what people would say if we gave the same sermon, the same heads, the same illustrations, year in and year out? We need not do exactly that, for there is abundant variety in the Bible; but the subject for our preaching is one that never changes – the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world; the Lamb in the midst of the throne."– Dr. A. A. Bonar.
MR. SPURGEON once said to his people: "Many church members think that if they do nothing wrong and make no trouble they are all right. Not at all, sir, not at all. Here is a chariot, and we are all engaged to drag it. Some of you do not put out your hand to pull; well, then, the rest of us have to labor so much the more, and the worst of it is, we have to draw you also. While you do not add to the strength which draws, you increase the weight that is to be drawn. It is all very well for you to say, "I do not hinder you." You do hinder, and you cannot help hindering. If a man's leg does not help him in walking, it certainly hinders him. Oh, I cannot bear to think of it. That I should be a hindrance to my own soul's growth is bad indeed; but that I should stand in the way of the people of God and cool their courage and dampen their ardor – my Master, let it never be! Sooner let me sleep among the clods of the valley than be a hindrance to the meanest work that is done for thy name."
A living Christ, of wondrous birth,
Who trod the dreary paths of earth,
Shedding abroad his holy light
Through the deep gloom of sin's dark night.
A dying Christ, whose precious blood
Seals the poor sinner's peace with God;
And fills the soul with fullest love,
Like to the joy prepared above.
A Christ ascended – all is done,
A world redeemed, a victory won.
With angel hosts, a glorious throng,
We'll sing with joy salvation's song.
A living Christ our spirits need,
A loving Christ our souls to feed;
A dying Christ, our ransom he,
A risen Christ to set us free.
This too our need – a Christ within,
A life with God, afar from sin;
A Christ whose love our hearts shall fill,
And quite subdue our wayward will.
Since it is repeatedly stated in Scripture that Jesus was free from sin, both personal and inherited, that "in him was no sin," (2 Cor. 5:21,) that no cause of death was found in him (Luke 22:23), etc., some have wondered how these statements can be reasonably harmonized with others and with the facts of Jesus' life.
We know well that death and all its accompaniments of pain and sorrow are the direct result of sin, and that if any man were actually free from sin, he would be free also from sin's penalty, death. We know that the same law which guarantees that the disobedient shall die, guarantees also that the obedient shall live. (Rom. 10:5; Gal. 3:12.) The question, then, is not an unreasonable one: If Mary's child did no sin and did not receive the imperfect and condemned Adamic life through a human father, but a perfect, unimpaired and uncondemned life transferred from his pre-existent condition, should he be born an imperfect, blemished, pained and dying human being? We answer, no, he should not, and if Jesus was thus born we should assuredly claim that it was an evidence either that in him was sin, and over him death had power and dominion because of sin dwelling in him, or that God's law had been violated and the innocent compelled to suffer the penalty of guilt. But as either of these views would be opposed to the character and word of God, we reject both as erroneous.
Jesus being free from all sin was equally free from all penalties or wages of sin. Were it otherwise he could not have given himself a ransom – an equivalent price – for the sin of the first Adam and its consequences. Had he come into the world under condemnation of death he would have had no life to lay down for ours, as our redemption price. To be an acceptable sacrifice he must have been (as shown in the types also) a "Lamb without blemish and without spot." (1 Pet. 1:19.) And "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29) was without blemish, and was therefore an acceptable sacrifice. And let it not be forgotten that this sacrifice was not made in the change of nature from spiritual to human, but was made after he had become a man – "A body hast thou prepared me" for the suffering of death. (Heb. 10:5.) Hence it should be clear to all, that death in no sense had any claim upon him until he offered himself – a man for men (1 Cor. 15:21), and "became obedient unto death." (Phil. 2:8.)
Doubtless the desire to sacrifice himself and thus redeem men, was in the mind of the youthful Jesus long before he reached manhood, and presented himself in consecration to death in the symbol of baptism. But he could not do so until then, for though he had been coming to manhood all those thirty years, he had not come until thirty years of age according to the Law. There, finding himself a man, "he became [by consecration] obedient unto death," and conducted himself in such a way also as to exhaust and use up his perfect life.
If this reasoning be correct and scriptural, it proves that the man Jesus was a perfect being – a PERFECT MAN; hence he possessed not only vitality, but every other quality of body and mind, in a way not possessed by the Adamic race enslaved for centuries to sin and groaning under the bondage of corruption (death). In a word, Jesus at the time of his consecration must have had that perfection of form and feature, of mind and body, originally possessed by Adam before sin and death blighted and withered his crown of glory and honor. (Psa. 8:5; Heb. 2:7.) And the same glorious perfection must have been in the man Jesus which will be found in all the restored race when in the close of his glorious reign, their Redeemer shall have wiped away all traces and marks of sin and pain and death. (Rev. 21:4.)
We know that Jesus received a special anointing of the Spirit at the time of his baptism, and it may not be possible for us to accurately determine how many of his miracles were the result of this anointing, and how many of his wonderful works were merely the exercise of powers belonging to all perfect men, undegraded and in full fellowship with God. We find to-day progidies among men, some representing to a greater degree than their fellow-men, one or another human quality; yet it must be apparent, that if one man could be imagined, who possessed the great qualities and powers of all great men, he could be no more than a perfect man, and doubtless then would be found very imperfect, if compared with either of the two perfect men, Adam and Jesus.
Let us remember that the first man lost great dominion, glory and honor which belonged to human nature, when he sold himself to sin (Psa. 8:5; Rom. 7:14.) Let us remember, too, that Jesus possessed that same humanity, and all its crown of glory, honor and dominion, when he became a man. (Heb. 2:9.)
Before considering further Jesus' power as a perfect man, let us examine a scripture usually supposed to teach that Jesus was one of the most disfigured and hideous of men, without a trace of beauty or anything to cause men to admire [R574 : page 3] him. This view is the very opposite of the one we are presenting. We claim that the face and form are the very index to the heart and life. So surely and to the extent that dissipation and sin have hold on a man's mind and body, so surely will his face declare it. And as surely as purity and grace reign within, the face will indicate it. If Jesus was a perfect man he must have been as far from physical deformity and imperfection as the east is from the west. Instead of horrible, we believe him to have been "altogether lovely."
The scriptures in question are found in Isa. 52:14 and 53:2. Please refer and read. Concerning these statements we would say, that the translation of Isa. 52:14 in the common King James' version is not as clear as in others. The Douay translation of verse 14 reads: "So shall his visage be inglorious among men and his form among the sons of men." Young's translation has it: "So marred by man, his appearance and his form by sons of men." In all, the passage has evidently one of two meanings: It might refer to the marring of his beauty with the thorns, nails and sorrows. If he had no beauty he could not have it marred, and the more perfect his feature and form, the more it could be marred; hence if he was "altogether lovely" his beauty might be marred more than others because he had more to mar, and yet not be after all inferior to others in appearance.
Or it may refer to his character, as suggested by the Douay translation. He was deficient in those qualities which the world esteems – inglorious and ignoble in their depraved sight. Depraved man has come to admire many things which in his perfection would have seemed horrible, and he has come to despise that which is good and truly grand. The Jewish people looked for the Saviour and deliverer promised, but looked from the depraved standpoint. Their conception was a mighty warrior who, by plunder and butchery, should accumulate a great army, and with carnal weapons should conquer the world, and thus save them from their enemies roundabout. They overlooked the fact that their Saviour must conquer death first, before subduing all things unto himself; in order that his might be an everlasting dominion.
Hence when Jesus and a few humble disciples walked through Palestine declaring "the kingdom" at hand and Jesus the king, and all eyes were attracted to him, they DESPISED him. He was a young man and most of his followers the same. He had no army, and no wealth with which to collect one; neither had he any influence among the great. And when he said, "Love your enemies, do good to them that persecute you," "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth," and, "If thine enemy hunger feed him," they concluded that such a one was the least likely to be the long-looked-for DELIVERER.
Even the purity and love and gentleness, blended with firmness and manly fearlessness, which marked his face and bore witness of his sinlessness, were to their depraved taste marks of effeminacy. They would have much more admired the deep set marks of sin, ferocity, passion, with words of malice and hatred, coupled with boasts and threats against their enemies. So when they beheld him his "visage was inglorious among men, and his form among the sons of men."
This last, is our view of the meaning of this text, and it seems to agree perfectly with the context succeeding, which we will now consider – we give the Douay translation (Isa. 53:2-12) – our comments in brackets.
"And he shall grow up as a tender plant before him, and as a root out of a thirsty ground: [His appearance and surroundings seemed unfavorable; he was an unlikely king.] There is no beauty in him nor comeliness; and we have seen him and there was no sightliness that we should be desirous of him." [We found not in him those qualities generally found in earthly conquerors, and preferred to have a robber and murderer among us – Acts 3:14] v. 2.
"Despised and most abject [shunned] of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with infirmity: and his look was as it were hidden and despised, ["As one hiding the face from us" (as in weeping) – Young's translation,] whereupon we esteemed him not." [Jesus' weariness and sorrow and weeping, etc., were construed by men to result from weakness, instead of as it really was, from that perfection of organism which enabled him to sympathize with the sufferings about him and to alleviate it, at his own loss. The more perfect the organism, the more sympathetic, the finer its quality, the more easily is it pained, and more deeply wounded. You who have never suffered severe privation, but have things comfortable and clean about you, if you will go into some of the garrets and cellars of the large cities, will meet with such squalor, filth and wretchedness, that you would feel that death would be far preferable to life, under such conditions; yet there you will find men, women and children who are so accustomed to such conditions that they can laugh and sing and be merry, even there. The cause, is that their senses and tastes are coarser, more depraved than yours.
Think, then, of how the world must have appeared to the perfect man Jesus, as he saw men grovelling in sin, misery, sickness and death. He had sorrows indeed, but they were ours which his sympathy laid hold of, and by which he was impressed more than others. In his sympathy and love he gave of his own vitality to many of those groaning, dying ones about him. It is a fact coming daily to be more recognized among scientific men, that some persons possess greater vitality than others, and possessing more can communicate it to others who have less; though such are liable to feel for a time the weakness which is cured in the weaker one. Jesus being perfect had an abundance of sympathy; consequently he continued to heal those who came unto him, though each time he was touched with a feeling of THEIR INFIRMITY while they were refreshed and revitalized by his strength.
Few seemingly have noticed; that this is the teaching implied in the Scripture narrative of many of Jesus' miracles. We, therefore, quote some instances. A poor woman, who had been sick twelve years touched his garment and was healed, and "Jesus, immediately knowing in himself, that VIRTUE [power, vitality, strength] HAD GONE OUT OF HIM," said "Who touched me?" (Mark 5:30.) Luke (8:43-46, and 6:19) declares that "The whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went VIRTUE [strength, vitality, power] OUT OF HIM, and healed them all." Matthew 8:17 gives the same testimony: that when Jesus healed the sick it was in fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy which we are now considering, "Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses."
What wonder, then, that such a man is said to have been a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief? But let us never forget that if sorrows and pain left its impress on that noble face and form, it was not because of his own weakness; it was not because pain and sickness and death had hold of him, but that it had hold of our race, and he, full of love and sympathy, was bearing the burdens of others. Oh, how far short of such perfect, boundless love do we find ourselves! It is only when we measure ourselves by such a perfect standard, that we can realize how great was the fall which our race experienced through Adam's disobedience. No wonder we long for the restoration of mankind to such a condition, where each will love his neighbor as himself, and be glad if necessary to share each others' woes; but it will not be necessary then; for when sin and its effects are all removed, its penalty, pain, sickness and death will be removed also.
Our conclusion above, that the sorrow and infirmities which Jesus bore were those of our race, and not his own, is the testimony of the prophet, v. 4, "Surely he hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows; and we have thought him, as it were, A LEPER, and as one struck of God and afflicted." [Leprosy is in Scripture a type of sin. The implication here is, that men considered Jesus one contaminated with sin because he was bearing its penalties, not discerning that it was ours which he carried. They thought him smitten of God, righteously punished, and saw not that in him was no cause of punishment, and that he took the infirmities of his own free will.]
"But he was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins. The chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his bruises we are healed." (verse 5.)
"All we like sheep have gone astray, every one hath turned aside unto his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him [the willing burden-bearer] the iniquity of US ALL." ["Jehovah hath caused to meet on him, the punishment of US ALL." – Young's translation.]
"He was offered because it was His own will, and he opened not his mouth. He shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and he shall not open his mouth." [He shall be nonresisting] verse 7.
"He was taken away from distress and from judgment [wickedness]: who shall declare [to] his generation, because [or why] he is cut off from the land of the living? For the wickedness of my people have I struck [smitten] him." [His death would be of so ignominious a nature, that few could realize that he was suffering the just for the unjust.]
"And he shall give [himself among] the ungodly for his burial, and [be with] the rich for [in] his death; because [or although] he had done no iniquity, neither was there deceit in his mouth; and the Lord [Jehovah] was pleased [willing] to bruise him in infirmity: [For] if he shall lay down his life for sin, he shall see a long-lived seed, and the will of the Lord [Jehovah] shall be prosperous in his hand." [The object [R575 : page 3] of his sacrifice was two-fold. He desired to do the Father's will, and he desired to be the "everlasting Father," and to bring many sons to life in the re-generation; bringing them to freedom, liberty, perfection and honor.] "Because his soul hath labored, he shall see [the [R575 : page 4] good results of his sacrifice] and be filled" [or satisfied]. verses 8-10.
"By his knowledge shall my just servant justify many, and [or while] he shall hear their iniquities. Therefore [because of his faithfulness and sacrifice] will I distribute [or give] to him very many [inheritances; He becomes sole heir of the inheritance of each one whom he purchased with his own precious blood – very many – all men.] And he shall divide the spoils of the strong." [The strong prince of this world has obtained much spoil from mankind, leaving him destitute; but this great deliverer shall not only bind the strong man, but then shall he spoil his house (Matt. 12:29), and during his reign he shall divide or distribute the spoil to mankind, until at its close they shall be very rich in glory, honor, and dominion of earth, as at first. He shall be enabled to do all this] "BECAUSE he hath delivered his soul unto death, and was reputed [reckoned] with the wicked: and he hath borne the sins of many and prayed [interceded] for the transgressors." verses 11-12.
We conclude, then, that this very prophecy which was supposed to teach that Jesus had an ungainly, disfigured, and hideous appearance – more than any other man, teaches the very reverse of this, that his perfection was ignoble in the sight of depraved men; and that whatever of care, or sorrow, or pain marked that perfect lovely face, was the self-imposed weight of our infirmities and sin.
And, if we recall the various little incidents of his ministry mentioned by the Apostles, as it were by accident, they all bear witness to the fact that he was a perfect man, and far superior to those about him. In childhood's days he was a prodigy whose questions and answers astonished the Doctors of the Law. As a public teacher he has never had an equal among men. What other teacher ever had five thousand people leave their employment, and negligent of food, follow him three days in the wilderness, marveling at the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth? (Matt. 14:13-21, and 15:29-39.)
Call to mind the testimony of his enemies, when they came back to report – "Never man spake like this man." (John 7:46.) Mark the wisdom of his replies when they sought to entrap him in his words. (Matthew 22:20-22; and 21:24,25.) Recall their remark, "Whence hath this man this wisdom?" (Matt. 13:54.) Remember, too, the loftiness of his teaching: although there have been great teachers in other days, and among the heathen, men who taught morality of a high type, yet never before was heard such perfection of teaching as that of Jesus. The morality which teaches truthfulness and justice, keeping of covenants and obeying of laws, had been taught, and it had been taught, also, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy;" but none had ever gone so far as to say, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you." "If thine enemy hunger, feed him, if he thirst, give him drink." Others had said, "Thou shalt not kill," but none before had taught that to hate a brother without cause was a degree of murder. And, with all his meekness and tenderness, he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
And Jesus' physical form can have been no less perfect and beautiful than were his mental qualities. Crowned with the glory and honor of human nature, he was by reason of his perfection a king among men, whose very look, calm and benevolent, impressed those about him with reverential awe.
Call to mind how the soldiers who came to take him in the Garden of Gethsemane, overpowered for a time by the majesty of his presence, were obliged to retreat before him, though he rebuked them neither in word nor act. (John 18:3-8.) It was much the same with another company sent to take him, who came away without him. (John 7:30,32,44-46.) When Pilate was beset with the Jewish rabble, headed and instigated by the priests, crying, "Crucify him," he tried various methods to restore order and spare the innocent: but as a last resort he brought Jesus himself before the people, and, as though confident that his glorious face and form would captivate the hearts of the multitude, he said, "BEHOLD THE MAN!" As though he would say, Is that the man you would crucify? If so, his blood be upon you. Nor can we suppose that anything short of the blinding of the god of this world – the prince of darkness – could hinder them from realizing that "he is altogether lovely," "the chiefest among ten thousand."
And even then, had he chosen to give them a reproving look – to speak and to rebuke their sin – again the multitude would doubtless have said, "Never man spake like this man," and again they might have determined to "take him by force and make him a king." But he was there, not to clear himself and prove his innocence, but to suffer, to die, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God; hence he did nothing to interfere with his sacrifice of himself. "He answered him never a word." (Matt. 27:12-14.) He chose rather to give himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
Behold the perfect man, Jesus, and reflect that through his ransom mankind in general has been redeemed from the present lost condition of degradation and death, and may again reach perfection through "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world."
If such be the glory of mankind – a little LOWER than the angels – what must be the glory of that high exaltation to which Jesus has attained as a reward for his obedience – the divine nature "so much BETTER than the angels." Then, while trying to grasp God's plan, remember that though we know not what he is and what we shall be, we do know that we shall see him and be like him as he now is – so much exalted above what he then was, grand as we have seen that to have been. Nor would we be understood to teach that all of Jesus' wonderful works were performed by the powers of manhood; many unquestionably were more than human powers – the direct result of his anointing with the Holy Spirit at baptism, the power of Jehovah in him.
In concluding this subject, we desire to lay before you another translation of Isa. 53. It is by a Hebrew, and is the English translation accepted among that people. From such a source one would not unreasonably expect that every item would be turned as far from fitting the general application of it to Jesus as the language would permit: yet it is clear and strong, and it seems wonderful that in its clear delineation the poor Jew cannot read the life of Christ Jesus our Lord. We give a literal quotation:
"Who would have believed our report? And the arm of the Lord – over whom hath it been revealed? Yea, he grew up like a small shoot before him, and as a root out of a dry land: He had no form nor comeliness, so that we should look at him, and no countenance, so that we should desire him. He was despised and shunned by men; a man of pains and acquainted with disease; and as one who hid his face from us was he despised, and we esteemed him not."
"But only OUR diseases did he bear himself, and OUR pains he carried; while we indeed esteemed him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. Yet he was wounded for OUR transgressions, he was bruised for OUR iniquities: the chastisement of OUR peace was upon him; and through his bruising was healing granted to us."
"Through oppression and through judicial punishment was he taken away; but his generation – who could tell, that he was cut away out of the land of life, (that) for the transgressions of my people the plague was laid on him?"
"And he let his grave be made with the wicked and with the (godless) rich at his death. Although he had done no violence and there was no deceit in his mouth, but the Lord was pleased to crush him through disease. When (now) his soul hath brought the trespass-offering, then shall he see (his) seed live many days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand."
"(Freed) from the trouble of his soul shall he see (the good) and be satisfied: through his knowledge shall my righteous servant bring many to righteousness, while he will bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him (a portion) with the many, and with the strong shall he divide the spoil; because he poured out his soul unto death, and with transgressors was he numbered, while he bore the sin of many; and FOR the transgressors he let (evil) befall him." – Isaac Leeser's translation.
"Give ye ear and hear my voice; hearken and hear my speech: Doth the ploughman plough all day [always] to sow? doth he open and break the clods of his ground? When he hath made plain [prepared] the face thereof doth he not cast abroad the fitches and scatter the cummin, and cast in the principal wheat, and the appointed barley, and the rye in their place? For his God doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him."
Because of their short-sightedness, men are apt to think of God's works as aimless, and lacking definite object and time; but the Prophet shows us that God's times and seasons and plans are definite and methodical. Here he presents the familiar scenes of farm life, saying that as God instructs the farmer to observe order in his work, so he also observes the same order in his plans and methods. He first prepares the soil of humanity and breaks it up and makes it ready for the seed of truth. Then follows the sowing of seed and the harvest of each in its season.
This Gospel Age has been a sowing time. He that sowed the good seed is the Son of Man (Matt. 13:37), and his disciples have assisted under his direction. It will be followed by a "harvest," as it was preceded by an age of breaking up and preparing men by the plow and harrow of bitter experiences with sin and Law. So, too, there are as many harvests as there are kinds of seed (1 Cor. 15:38-44), but order governs all.
But while all recognize that there is a proper time to sow, it is generally forgotten that a reaping time, a harvest, shall come. But for the same reason that God did not forever prepare the soil, he will not forever be sowing the seed, but in due time will give his attention to reaping and threshing.
This is the point of the illustration: the time of trouble coming upon the Church should be recognized as the harvest, the threshing time, the time for separating the real grain from the chaff and tares. The harvest represents two general classes, with some variety in each. The fitches and cummin (verse 27) were small aromatic seeds used sometimes for food, but more commonly for medicinal purposes. These grew in little pods very easily crushed, and hence required gentle threshing with a rod or staff to separate them. These, we presume, represent a class of saints who, not being closely wedded to the world and its systems, can be quickly and easily separated from it.
The other grains mentioned, of which much larger quantities are grown, all cling closely to the chaff, some more so than others; and hence it was necessary to use rougher means to thresh it free. Cart wheels were passed over them repeatedly until the separation was effected. So some of the Lord's children cling so closely to the world, its forms and institutions, etc., that they must be put through the severe ordeal; and every true grain shall be saved by some process (1 Cor. 3:15).
This is more clearly shown in another translation: "For the fitches shall not be threshed with a threshing instrument [with saw-like teeth], neither is a cart wheel turned upon the cummin; but the fitches are beaten out with a staff, and the cummin with a rod. But bread-grain [though it ultimately] shall be broken small [or ground]; but [yet] the thresher shall not thresh it forever, neither shall the cart wheel hurt it, nor break it with its [thresher's] teeth. This also cometh forth from the Lord God of hosts to make his council wonderful and magnify justice." (Vs. 28,29.)
This shows us that though the Lord will use severer and stronger measures to separate some of his children than is necessary with others, yet it is not his design that the time of trouble shall destroy them, but rather to bless them by thereby making them fit for his future service.
To realize that such is God's orderly plan enables us to understand the present threshing and sifting among God's children, and thereby to be co-workers with him, rather than to be found fighting against his work, now due and in progress. To realize this, is also, to catch a glimpse of God's goodness and justice.
"Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt! Add ye year to year; let them kill sacrifices." (Ver. 1.) Jerusalem was the city of David; and as Jerusalem is sometimes used to represent the nominal church, so Ariel here and Zion in verse 8 refer to the same thing. The prophet here declares that woe, distress, trouble, is about to come on the nominal church. But though the nominal church, as a system, has become corrupt, the Lord still permits her to add year to year, to prolong her existence a few years, that his truly consecrated children may complete their sacrifice. One important part of their sacrifice is to separate from the nominal systems and to stand connected only with the true.
"Yet," Jehovah declares, "will I distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow." (Verse 2.) Although the Lord will distress Ariel, the nominal church, yet he will remember that many within her are his own dear children; some of them weak, erring and negligent; and the very object of this distress is to awaken them and to liberate them from their bondage and worldly conformity. The fact that God will thus remember his own is clearly taught in various scriptures, and is suggested in the latter clause of this verse – "and [although I will thus distress it] it shall be unto me as Ariel" (Jerusalem or Zion). His own children now held in the bondage of the doomed systems are still dear to him; and he will save them, though with the majority it will be – "so as by fire" – through "great tribulation."
The Lord here describes the overthrow necessary to separate the true Ariel – Jerusalem, or Zion – from the multitude of the worldly and unregenerate which she has received as her children, and because of whose presence in her she is sometimes termed Babylon, or confusion. He says: "I will camp against thee round about [O Babbler – Young], and will lay siege against thee with a mount [camp]; and I will raise forts against thee [bulwarks to hide myself from thee]. And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust."
Already the pride of the nominal church begins to be humbled. Once she loudly and boldly proclaimed her teachings of eternal torment, the damnation of non-elect infants, etc.; but now her voice is low, and she merely whispers these teachings in her writings, or cautiously from the pulpit.
She has been puffed up by what she esteems her success – her wealth and members. Worldliness has filled her [R576 : page 5] heart, and the Spirit of Christ has been choked. Woe to Zion, for she shall find the Lord arrayed against her, and he shall bring down her pride to the earth, that she may be humbled and cry unto him from the dust.
"Moreover, the multitude of thy strangers shall be like small dust, and the multitude of the terrible ones [tyrants – Leeser's trans.] shall be as chaff that passeth away"; "and this shall be at unawares – suddenly" (verse 5 – Leeser's trans.). The principal cause of nominal Zion's distress is her multitude of strange children – the children of the world, unregenerated, who compose the greater part of her numbers. These she has come to consider her strength, her power. Their wealth, their influence and their standing in the world, she is trusting in; and by these she has been puffed up.
"Thou shalt be visited of the Lord of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and with great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire" (verse 6). These are symbolic expressions of the great storm of trouble now gathering and soon to break with force on nominal Zion. The thunder and noise indicate controversy, and we find infidelity in its most subtle form springing up in the midst of the Church. Its most marked feature is the denial of the ransom given by Christ our Lord. This error, which strikes at the very foundation of God's truth, is boldly proclaimed by some of the most prominent of the nominal church, and many are following their leading. Under the general and widespread spirit of doubt and unbelief, it will soon be discovered that none are able to give a reason for their hope, and that much has been taught which is entirely without support. Dogmas hitherto unquestioned will be brought to the test of reason, which, unguided by the Scriptures, will surely lead to open infidelity, and the nominal church systems, with their clashing creeds, will become more and more lightly esteemed, as men throw off the yoke of superstition, and yet fail to consult the word of God, and to recognize the true Church. A fearful storm and tempest is thus gathering, and the condition of the mass of the nominal church, when it fully breaks upon it, is here fitly symbolized by an "earthquake." The "devouring fire" is an apt symbol of the certain destruction that in the end shall surely consume these false systems.
Before this fearful storm the multitude of strangers – the worldly – who come into the Church for respectability, society, business interests, popularity, etc., shall, as verse 5 shows, be scattered [R577 : page 5] like the fine dust. "And the multitude of the terrible ones [tyrants – Leeser's trans. – the leaders, priests, rulers, or clergy] shall be as chaff that passeth away." Many have entered the ministry of the nominal church for popularity, ease, money and respectability; and these lord it over God's heritage, strengthen the bondage of fear, fetter thought and retard growth in grace and knowledge, while they exact and devour her revenues. But when these systems cease to be popular and financially successful, these too will soon be scattered like chaff. But while many of the clergy are of the stamp here described by the prophet, we rejoice to know that among these, as well as among the laity, some true wheat exists, yet few compared to the whole, and these are rapidly being separated.
Those who are not of the Lord's true children shall be swept away in the coming storm, when the Lord's sharp threshing instruments shall have separated them as chaff from the grain in this day of harvest and separation. The chaff and dust will be speedily removed from the chastened of the Lord, who shall be brought to the lowly and humble condition from which they should never have departed.
"And the multitude of all nations that fight against Ariel, even all that fight against her and her munition [bulwark], and that distress her shall be as a dream of a night vision. It shall even be as when a hungry man dreameth, and behold he eateth; but he waketh and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth and behold he drinketh, but he awaketh and behold he is faint and his soul hath appetite [thirst]: So shall the multitude of all the nations be that fight against mount Zion." (vs. 7,8.)
In the Lord's controversy with Zion the infidel and worldly of all nations will be ready and willing instruments for her chastisement, and for the overthrow of her errors. But though like Satan (another of his agent, whose wrath is made to praise Jehovah), they shall for a time seem to succeed, yet it shall be only seemingly, for out of the nominal Zion arises the true, stronger and better for her visitation and purification. And those who fought against her munition or stronghold – the Bible – and who for a time will think that they have completely destroyed her stronghold, will find only the wood, hay and stubble of human tradition gone, and the original bulwark impregnable. Their victory will prove to be but the delusion of a dream, when they shall have accomplished a work in which they are used as the Lord's instruments.
It is not surprising that in their blindness, the unfaithful children of God in nominal Zion mistake their most faithful friends, for enemies. Through some of his chosen ones "the Lord hath a controversy with his people." (Micah 6:2.); and these must obey his command – "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgressions." (Isa. 58:1.) These faithful reprovers are generally abused as enemies; and to oppose the false systems that blind and fetter the true Zion, is generally looked upon as infidelity.
But the Prophet draws the line clearly and distinctly, showing who are the real enemies referred to. It is the multitude of the nations not even professing to be the children of God, but who boldly, not only fight against Zion (God's children, however strong or weak), but also against her munition, her bulwark, – the Bible. This is just what the hosts of infidelity are endeavoring to do; not only to overthrow the nominal church systems (in which work they are unwittingly the Lord's instruments), but they are also endeavoring to demolish the Bible – the blessed fortress of truth in which even the weakest child of God shall find a sure refuge. To these enemies of Zion and of God, it shall even be, as described in vs. 7 and 8.
The valiant for the truth, have ever been considered enemies by the nominal mass. Thus to Elijah it was said, "Art thou he that troubleth Israel?" (1 Kings 18:17.) He was so considered because of his zeal for Jehovah and his opposition to the worship of the images of Baal. So Jesus was called by those termed "orthodox" of his day, a perverter of the people, Luke 23:2,14; and Paul was esteemed by the same class "a pestilent fellow and a mover of sedition" Acts 24:5. Hence all who endeavor to withstand error in its popular forms must expect to bear the same reproach, and for a time be esteemed the troublers of Israel.
"And it was a cloud and darkness" to the Egyptians, "but it gave light by night" to Israel. Exod. 14:20.
How differently matters appear from different standpoints. That which rejoices us as being evidence of our Lord's presence – the separating of wheat and tares and the falling of some earth's gigantic systems, is to others a dark cloud. That which to us is a token of dawn of the Millennial Day – the unrest of nations – the raging of the tribulant waves of the sea, are to others dark clouds which put the time of blessing afar off. This is well illustrated in the following item clipped from a secular paper. The writer and the world in general look at the cloud from the standpoint of the Egyptians – it is very dark. Our readers we trust can see it from the standpoint of Israel. Since the storm is to scatter the powers of darkness and let in the healing rays of the sun of righteousness the sooner it comes the better. We quote as follows:
Europe at the present time is full of signs and premonitions of a coming crisis. Visibly she is drifting upon another of those cataracts of events which break the course of history; each one of them a series of rapids, down which the past has descended into the present, and the present will plunge into the near future. Far be it from us to dispel the comforting dream of that "Millennial" time when the nations shall rest in amity, cultivating the arts of war no more. Doubtless it will come, but the world is a long way from that happy goal.
"Speaking of the thoughtful classes, it is no exaggeration to say, that all over Europe there is a sensation of disquietude, rising in some quarters into anxiety and serious apprehension. In national as well as individual life, a vague and blind presentiment of evil has at times portended a disastrous conclusion; but at present the presumption is not blind. There are visible grounds for this disquietude; yet no man can tell the exact shape which the present will assume: still less – and this is the worst part of the disquietude – what will be its magnitude, or where will it end. That danger is ahead – danger to the peace of Europe, or more – hardly any intelligent reader of the newspapers can doubt."
"In these days, is not the thought too shocking to be entertained that, despite all our progress, and much vaunted civilization, the closing years of the century may yet witness as bloody and momentous a contest as that by which the century was ushered in? Is it not to be told that Europe is waiting for another Waterloo, ere it can hope to reattain a new epoch of equilibrium and peace?
"How humiliating, too, is the thought that, after all, and when (as it may seem) we have all but perfected Law, Government, and Society, the dangerous classes, and 'dissolving forces' are becoming more formidable than ever, and that the 'social revolution' – Atheistic Communism and Nihilism – may yet shake to its foundations the entire system of civilization which modern Europe has been so slowly perfecting as the highest product of the Aryan Community of nations.
"On the continent it is no exaggeration to say that there is not a Cabinet, nor even a Parliament, that does not sniff gunpowder in the air, or does not quake at the thought of secret plans and machinations of state-craft which are believed to be at work in the dark, slowly or swiftly working to an explosion – Governments are quietly but eagerly keeping watch upon each other, as if on ground which they suspect is undermined.
"It was the 'Palace of Peace' – the 'Palace of all Nations,' a 'World's Fair,' where all peoples and races came together in peace and prosperity, making rivalry. War was to be a thing of the past, and instead of the conquests of monarchies, and the fiery collision of armies, there was to be a brotherhood of nations, and the only rivalry, a series of Great Exhibitions all over the world.
"Nor are the signs of trouble all external, or confined to the attack of State upon State, or of race upon race. Most pitiful of all is not Civilization itself upon its trial? The fabric of society, which under the guidance of Christianity Europe has been slowly building up since our continent emerged from the dark ages, – even it – our boasted and highest achievement – is not exempt from the coming perils – and though we may recoil from the thought, that our modern civilization may perish as utterly as Nineveh and Babylon, of the Pharaohs, and of mighty Rome herself; still he is an ignorant man who does not know that in the garden of the world, there are no plants of perennial growth, – and a blind one, if he does not mark how widely the red fires of destruction [R578 : page 5] already smoulder, – threatening to burst forth and consume our social civilization, the stately fabric of European society.
"Viewed in the most practical of fashions, what does it imply and forebode? An English philosopher has suggested, as a possibility, that a whole nation may become insane at times even as individuals do. And there is not a little in history that supports such a conjecture. Yet hardly a whole continent, or, even, as it now appears, a still larger mass of the varied population of the globe! But even assuming a well-nigh universal insanity among the human race, as the explanation of the present startling phenomena, at least be it remembered that it is an insanity of war, and one which is only too likely to lead to and end in, a stern, and an appalling reality."– Blackwood's Magazine.
The Rev. Robert Laird Collier, formerly a prominent minister in Chicago, but now a resident of England, in a letter to a Chicago daily paper says, "England is panic-stricken. Dynamite, dynamite, dynamite everywhere. The queen dare not move from Windsor Castle, which is doubly guarded, and the public for the first time in years are debarred entrance upon these royal precincts. You have heard of the arrests in Birmingham and London of the men who have been manufacturing nitro-glycerine in such large quantities, and who have been caught just in time to save London from wide-spread and horrible disaster. But you have not heard across 4,000 miles of land and water the echo of the feeling in England. The feeling is very complex. The public press suppresses this feeling, as it deems, in the interest of social order. All sober minded persons look upon this Fenian plot to carry on assassination wide-spread, with detestation and horror. The full power and penalty of the law must be used and enforced. All this goes without saying. But the dominant conviction is that we are just at the beginning of a European political and social revolution. The old regime is drawing to its close. It is given out, that never again will a crown be permitted to be placed upon a head in Europe. Men who are sober and prophetic as was Isaiah, solemn and as pathetic as was Jeremiah, call the world to order. "Halt!" All along the lines these men are shouting "Halt!"
Education, steam, electricity have introduced man to man all over Europe. Man is in solemn conclave. In London – in its streets, its clubs, its galleries, among all sections of society, men are propounding questions in social statics that no philosophy can answer, except just one: Social revolution!
The wrongs of Ireland are venerable and heinous. England has been strong and confident. The wrongs of Ireland have been recognized and redress promised. As far back as 1842 a royal commission reported to parliament in favor of certain reforms in Ireland. Bill after bill has for these forty years been introduced looking to reformatory legislation, and they have either been defeated or dropped.
Englishmen own Ireland. These few thousand land owners have, up to now, exacted every farthing of rent in good years and bad years, and have spent their money in England. Ireland has been villainously governed and socially ill-used. So to the end, would Ireland have been governed and ill-used had she not made her voice heard in the land. But really the Irish question, momentous as dynamite is causing it to be, is but a small factor in this general European revolution.
Within gun's shot of Buckingham palace men and women are dying – not figuratively, but actually – of starvation. What redress have the people? How can they make themselves heard? Parliament is the legislature of the rich, and men who oppose these venerable wickednesses are counted as eccentric, as agitators, as dangerous.
There is no newspaper of influence in London, if in England, that raises its power against these legislative wrongs. The tongues of the platform, and the [R578 : page 6] press, and the pulpit are bribed by social considerations.
To all who love and look for our Lord's appearing, it is of utmost importance to be acquainted with the Scripture teaching as to the manner of his coming, that we may know how to expect him, remembering that Israel after the flesh stumbled over his first advent, because they had false ideas of the manner of his coming. Briefly stated, we believe the Scriptures to teach that Christ will not again as at the first advent appear in the flesh; for says Paul, (2 Cor. 5:16) "Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him [so] no more." He is now the highly exalted spiritual being – a spiritual body (Phil. 2:9; 1 Cor. 15:44) the express image of the Father's person." (Heb. 1:3.) We must not expect him then to reappear in the body which he took for sacrifice, but in his glorious body.
As a basis then for further investigation, we will inquire, what is a spiritual body – what powers are theirs, and by what laws are they governed? We are here met by the objections – We have no right to pry into the hidden things of God; and, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard; neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." To both of these propositions we assent, but believe we cannot find out by studying God's Word – and our investigation will be confined to it – what he has not revealed. The above quotation of scripture (1 Cor. 2:9) refers to the natural or carnal man, and by reading it, in connection with the three verses following, the objection vanishes; for, says the apostle, "God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit," which was given to us "that we might know the things that are freely given unto us of God;" and in the last clause of v. 13, he gives us the rule by which we may know, viz: "Comparing spiritual things with spiritual." We are very apt to change this rule and compare spiritual things with natural, and thus get darkness instead of light. Let us, then, use the Apostle's rule.
There is a spiritual body as well as a natural body; a heavenly as well as an earthly body, a celestial as well as a terrestrial. They are distinct and separate. (1 Cor. 15:38-48.) We know what the fleshly – natural body is, for we now have such; it is flesh, blood and bones. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh," and since there are two kinds of bodies, we know that the spiritual must be different, and Jesus said that a spiritual body is not composed of flesh, and bones. (Luke 24:39.) It is a spiritual body, and "that which is born of the spirit is spirit." But as to what a spiritual body is made of, we know not. "It doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we shall be like him," Christ. (1 John 3:2.)
Angels are spiritual bodies. Christ was raised from the dead a spiritual body. This was his second birth. First, he was born of the flesh a fleshly body – for, "as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also himself likewise took part of the same." (Heb. 2:14.) He was "Put to death in the flesh but quickened [made alive] in the Spirit." He was raised a spiritual body. This resurrection was his second birth. He was the "first-born from the dead," "the first-born among many brethren." The church are those brethren and will have a second birth of the same kind as his – to spiritual bodies by the resurrection, when we shall arise in his likeness – being made "Like unto Christ's glorious body." But, this second birth must be preceded by a begetting of the spirit – conversion – just as surely as a birth of the flesh is preceded by a begetting of the flesh. When begotten of the flesh we are born of the flesh in the likeness of the first Adam, the earthly; but when begotten of the spirit at conversion, and born of the spirit in the resurrection, we shall be in the likeness of the heavenly, the second Adam. "As we have borne the image of the earthy we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." (1 Cor. 15:49.)
By examining facts recorded of angels, and of Christ after his resurrection we may gain some general information with regard to spiritual bodies: First we learn that angels can be, and frequently are present, yet invisible: "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that are his, and delivereth them;" and "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation" (Heb. 1:14.) Baalam's ass saw the angel on the way. (Num. 22:23.)
Second, angels can and have appeared as men. The Lord and two angels appeared as men to Abraham, who had supper prepared for them, of which they ate. (Gen. 18.) An angel appeared to Gideon as a man, but afterward made himself known. (Judges 6:12,22.) An angel appeared to Samson's mother and father; they thought him a man until he ascended up to [R579 : page 6] heaven in the flame of the altar. (Judges 13:20,21.)
Third, spiritual bodies are really bright and glorious in their normal condition: The countenance of the angel who rolled away the stone from the sepulchre "was like lightning." (Matt. 28:3.) Daniel in a vision saw a spiritual body whose eyes were as lamps of fire, his countenance as the lightning, his arms and feet like in color to polished brass, his voice as the voice of a multitude; before him Daniel fell as a dead man. (Daniel 10:6.) Saul of Tarsus saw Christ's glorious body. It shone above the brightness of the sun at noonday. Saul lost his sight and fell to the ground. (Acts 26:13; 1 Cor. 15:8.)
Thus we find spiritual bodies truly glorious; yet without a miracle, either by the opening of our eyes to see them, or their appearing in the flesh as men, they are invisible. This conclusion is further confirmed when we examine the more minute details connected with these manifestations. The Lord was seen of Saul alone, "the men that journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man." (Acts 9:7.) The men that were with Daniel did not see the glorious being he describes, but a great fear fell on them and they ran and hid themselves. (Dan. 10:7.) Again, this same glorious being declares: (Daniel 10:13) "The prince of Persia withstood me one and twenty days." "Daniel, the man greatly beloved" of the Lord, falls as dead before this one whom Persia's prince withstands one and twenty days! How is this? Surely he did not appear in glory to the prince. No, either he was invisibly present with him, or else he appeared as a man.
Christ is a spiritual body since his resurrection. During the forty days of his presence before ascension, he appeared some seven or eight times to his disciples; where was he the remainder of the time? Present, but invisible. Notice, also, that in each instance he is said to have appeared, or he showed himself, language never used of him before his change from a natural to a spiritual body; now, as angels had done, he appeared. Not only so, but he appeared in different bodies; as the gardener to Mary; "after that, he appeared to the two disciples as they went into the country" (Mark 16:12.); afterwards he appeared in a body, either the same or like the one crucified, having the marks of the spear and the nails. "He came and stood in their midst, the doors being shut." On these various occasions he appeared and talked with them, then vanished out of their sight. He came and went, as invisibly as the wind; and they could not tell whence he came nor whither he went. "So is every one that is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8.) When we are born of the Spirit (at the resurrection) we can do so also. All spiritual beings exhibit this same power. But Jesus said: "handle me, for a spirit [pneuma] hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have," and he ate with them. True, I believe it. So did the angels [pneuma Heb. 1:7] appear as men in flesh and bones, and they ate also; their spiritual bodies did not eat, nor were they flesh and bones, but the body in which they appeared was flesh and bones, and it ate. The disciples did not see Christ's glorious spiritual body, but they saw him as he appeared in a fleshly body.
Paul teaches us distinctly that Christ was raised from the dead a life-giving spirit [pneuma, the same word used by our Lord.] (1 Cor. 15:44,45.) But where did he get the various bodies in which he appeared? I cannot tell you; but I believe, and you do also, other things which we cannot understand. I cannot understand how that grain of wheat grows. Yet I know that it grows. I know not how Christ turned the water into wine, or raised the dead, yet I believe that he did these things. Can you tell me where he got the clothes he wore after his resurrection? "They parted his raiment among them, and for his vesture they cast lots" – the old were gone, and the linen clothes lay in the sepulchre. Is it more difficult for spiritual beings, with their powers, to create a covering of flesh than a covering of cloth? No; the same power can and did do both.
Thus we have found Christ's spiritual body like those of angels, glorious, yet invisible to mortals, with power to manifest the glory, or appear as a man, or in any form he may choose. In the resurrection we shall be like the angels in this respect, and "like unto Christ's glorious body." Now bearing in mind that "though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more," after the flesh, with what we have learned of the powers of that spiritual body, we are now prepared to understand other statements relating to the manner of the second advent.
To John, on Patmos, Jesus said, "Behold I come as a thief; blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments" etc. (Rev. 16:15.) He comes secretly and unknown to the world, but those believers who are taking heed to the sure word of prophecy which shines as a light in a dark place (2 Pet. 1:19), shall, because of its light, not be in darkness that that day should overtake them as a thief. (1 Thes. 5:2-4.)
He comes "as a thief" for the church – the waiting virgins; both them "that sleep in Jesus" and those "who are alive and remain." This gathering time at his appearing is the harvest time of the Gospel Age, and as in the harvest of the Jewish Age, the prepared ones were gathered out to become co-workers with the Lord in introducing the new dispensation of the Gospel Age, so those who are found ready and watching at his second appearing, shall likewise discern his presence and become co-workers with him in introducing the new dispensation of the Millennial Age. And not only are these to be co-workers in introducing the new dispensation, but as soon as they learn of the special work of the hour, they are engaged with him in completing the harvest work.
But in all this change of dispensation the world will go on as usual. They will say, "Where is the promise of his coming (Greek – parousia – presence); for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning." (2 Pet. 3:4.)
The second advent, like the first, covers a period of time, and is not the event of a moment. The first lasted nearly thirty-four years. The second advent, as we have seen, lasts much longer. It includes the millennial reign, and as prophecy foretold the object, manner, etc., of the first advent, so it also covers all the prominent features of the second advent and reign. Christ comes to reign – must reign until he has put down all enemies; the last being death. (1 Cor. 15:25,26.)
In the application of prophecy to the events of the first advent, we recognize order. Christ must be the "child-born and son given," before "the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." He must die before he could rise from the dead, etc. So also in studying prophecy referring to the second advent we must recognize order, we must judge of the order somewhat by the character of the event. As the wife is the glory of the husband, so the Bride is the glory of Christ, for we are to be "partakers of the glory that shall be revealed, (1 Pet. 5:1,10); and as the "glory shall be revealed in us," (Rom. 8:18), we know that Christ could not come in the glory of his kingdom [church] until he has first gathered it from the world. And in harmony with this thought, we read – "When he shall appear, we also shall appear with him in glory." (Col. 3:4.)
The Prophets foretold the sufferings of Christ [head and body] and the glory that should follow. If the sufferings were of the whole body, so is the glory; we suffer with him that we may be also "glorified together." (Rom. 8:17.) "Enoch prophesied, saying – The Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints." (Jude 14.) Again, we read – "The Lord my God shall come and all the saints with thee." (Zech. 14:5). Thus we learn that when he appears in glory we are with him, and of course, we must be gathered to meet him before that.
We have further evidence to offer, proving that he comes unknown to the world; but attempt to answer the two supposed objections first, viz: "This same Jesus shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven," (Acts 1:11), and "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise." (1 Thes. 4:16.) These texts are supposed to teach that Christ will come in a manner visible to every eye, while the air is rent with the blast of the archangel's trumpet; at which, amid reeling tombstones and opening graves the dead will come forth. It certainly has that appearance on the surface, and doubtless was not intended to be rightly understood until due; but look at it again; would that be coming in like manner as they saw him go? He did not go with the sounding of a trumpet and outward demonstration. It does not say you shall see him coming, nor that any one would see, but – he shall so come. When he arrives it will be privately. He comes to gather and to set up his kingdom. He comes to be glorified in his saints in that day. (2 Thes. 1:10.) The world saw him not, after his resurrection; they did not see him ascend. And we remember that Jesus said, "Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more, but ye see me." (John 14:19.)
What, then, does the trumpet mean, if there is to be no open demonstration? Let us see. The church is to be rewarded "at the resurrection"; it surely will not be rewarded or resurrected more than once; hence we conclude that the "Trump of God" (1 Thes. 4:16) and the "Last Trump" (1 Cor. 15:52), are the same, differently expressed; the same events are mentioned as occurring at each, viz: the resurrection and reward of the saints. And for the same reason we believe the "Trump of God" and "Last Trump" to be the "Seventh Trump" of Rev. 11:15-18. Under it also the dead are judged [R580 : page 6] and the prophets and saints rewarded. Then the "Seventh Trump" is the "Trump of God," and the "Last Trump."
There is a series of these trumpets evidently the same in kind, but what? "The seventh angel sounded." A sound on the air? No, no more than the six which preceded it. They are each said to sound, and Sir Isaac Newton, Clark, and all commentators of note agree that five or six of these trumpets are in the past. They have been fulfilled in events upon the earth, each covering a period of time. They certainly must all sound before the resurrection, for that is under the seventh.
If the seventh trump were to make a sound on the air, it would be out of harmony with the other six of the series. That it covers "the great day of his wrath," the time of judgments upon the kingdoms of the world and of the pouring out of the "seven vials" of God's wrath, and the "time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation" seems more than probable, for we are told in the same sentence of the wrath of God coming on the nations.
We see, then, that the sounding of the [R580 : page 7] trumpets, and so coming in like manner, do not conflict but rather add force to the fact that he comes "unawares," "as a thief" and steals away from the world his treasure, his jewels. Remember too that this is Christ, the spiritual body, that could not be seen without a miracle, that was present yet unseen during thirty-three days after his resurrection.
The world will not see the saints when gathered or gathering. When changed (in the twinkling of an eye) to spiritual bodies, like unto Christ's glorious body, they will be as invisible as he and as angels. The world will not see the graves open and the tombstones thrown down, for a spiritual body is not of the earth, earthy. But do not forget that only the church is to be raised spiritual bodies. All others are to have a restitution, a restoration to the original human perfection.
Christ's personal presence and ministry of three and a half years at the first advent, he called a harvest. It was the harvesting of the Jewish age. Christ was present as the chief reaper, and his disciples as under-reapers. Their work was the gathering of wheat into the higher or Gospel dispensation. That harvest was the end of that age. Jesus said to his disciples, "Lift up your eyes and look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest." "I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labor; other men have labored [the prophets] and ye are entered into their labors" (John 4:38). That work was not general, nor for the world. Jesus confined their labors to Judea, and the work to them did not entirely cease until the end of their harvest A.D. 70. But after his resurrection Jesus sent the disciples to "preach the Gospel to every nation." But this was no longer a harvesting but a seed sowing: Paul plants, Apollos waters, God gives increase, etc. But there is to be a harvest in the end of this age, as illustrated in the parable of the tares and wheat, and taught in the explanation of the same. Notice that both wheat and tares are in the kingdom of heaven – the church – and that this parable, as also the other six of the series, refers not to the non-professing world, but to two classes in the church.
The Son of Man planted the church pure, good seed. During the days of the Apostles there were special "gifts of the Spirit" such as "discerning of spirits," etc., by which they were able to prevent tares getting in among the wheat – hypocrites getting into the church, (Instance 1 Cor. 5:3. – "Simon Magus" – "Ananias and Sapphira," etc.), but when the Apostles were dead, "while men slept" – the enemy began to sow tares among the wheat. Paul declares that the mystery of iniquity had begun to work even in his day. Now they grow side by side in all churches. Shall we separate them, Lord? No; we might make some mistakes and pull up wheat and leave tares. "Let both grow together until the Harvest." (Matt. 13.) "The harvest is the end of the world." [aion, age]. "In the time of harvest I will say unto the reapers, 'gather together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn."
Notice, this harvest is the end of this age, yet, like the one ending, the Jewish age, it is a period of time, – "In the time of harvest." Secondly, there is order – "gather first the tares." There must come a time, then, in the end of this age, when the reapers will be doing some sort of a separating work in the church. That we are now in this harvest we have abundant proof, and yet, as in the harvest of the Jewish age, the mass of the church and the world are wholly unconscious of it. The separating work is accomplished in both cases by the sharp sickle of truth and the spirit of sacrifice.
Some may have confounded these remarks concerning the presence of Christ as a spiritual being with the presence of the Spirit of Christ; but they are quite distinct. The latter never left the church: consequently in that sense he could not "come again." Of his presence by his spirit he said: "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." We refer to the personal presence, which did go away, and will come again, – a spiritual body. (John 14:3.)
The Greek word parousia frequently translated coming – invariably signifies personal presence, as having come, arrived, and never signifies to be on the way, as we use the word coming. This fact is recognized by many who are looking for the Lord, but the error under which the Church in general is laboring, is that of supposing that presence implies sight – manifestation – appearance. In the Greek, however, other words are used to express revelation, appearing, and manifestation, viz.: phaneroo – rendered shall appear in "when he shall appear" – and apokalupsis – rendered, shall be revealed. (2 Thes. 1:7.) "When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed." But we have Christ's own words to prove that he will be present in the world, and the world will know not of it. In Matt. 24:37, we read: "As the days of Noah were, so shall also the parousia (presence) of the Son of Man be." The presence of Christ is not compared to the flood, but to the days of Noah, the days that were before the flood, as verse 38 shows; as then they ate, drank, married, etc., and knew not, so shall also the presence of the Son of Man be. The resemblance here mentioned is that of not knowing – they will not know of the presence of Christ. They may have been wicked then, doubtless were, and may be similarly wicked now, in his presence, but wickedness is not the point of comparison. As then they ate, drank, married – proper enough things to be doing, not sinful, so shall it be in Christ's presence, they will attend to the usual avocations of life unconscious of his presence, the harvest and change of dispensation. Now, look at Luke 17:26. "As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man." Verse 27 tells how it was in the days of Noah; they were eating, drinking, marrying, etc. "So shall it be in the days of the Son of Man." Surely the days of the Son of Man are not before his days any more than the days of Henry Clay could be days before he was born. No, the more we examine, the more we are convinced that the world will go on as usual, and know not, until "the harvest is past, the summer ended," and they are not in the ark, nor with the little flock "accounted worthy to escape the great tribulation." Watch therefore and take heed to the sure word of prophecy as unto a light in a dark place, that knowing of his presence and the changes then due, you may be found in harmony with the king, working wisely in his vineyard, that you and your labor may be approved of him.
Forget not the Master's words: "Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unaware. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man." (Luke 21:34-36.)
Men and women sing, "My body, soul and spirit, Jesus, I give to thee," and yet we see them living to themselves; they sing, "Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small," and yet the offering which they make to God is the merest fraction of their possessions. Reader, how much do you give to the Lord? Have you ever taken the position of being yourself the Lord's, and therefore all you have His property? Then how much is it consistent for you to appropriate to the Lord? Is your business the Lord's, do you conduct it for Him or for the making of a name and a position for yourself? Do you train your children for the Lord, and care that their education shall be such as shall most serve the purpose of your God? Are your household arrangements such that they are elastic when the work of God calls for a change of meal-times, etc.? Is God first in the house? Is He considered above all others? Is your position in society the Lord's to be used or neglected just as it serves God's purpose? Do you make a practice of being faithful to those in your own position in life, letting them clearly see that God is first with you, caring nothing for the contempt in which they hold you? Is your money the Lord's, so that you practice the strictest economy in board, lodging, clothing and traveling, that you may have all the rest for Jesus? If not, are you not keeping back "part of the price?"
Ques. Please explain Luke 12:4,5.
Ans. These words are addressed to the "friends" of Jesus, to those who believe in a future existence secured through Jesus, the life-giver. The killing of the body represents the loss of the present measure of life, but casting into Gehenna (translated hell) represents utter destruction and extinction. Because of God's favor all are redeemed from the first or Adamic death, and those who believe and appreciate this will realize that the present spark of existence is as nothing compared to the future life made possible through our Lord and Redeemer. Therefore such should lightly esteem the present life and fear not to lose it in any righteous cause. Should such circumstances arise, as they do, where the favor of men and the welfare of this present life on the one side, stand opposed to the will of God on the other, we should seek God's favor at any cost, knowing that "in his favor is life" (Psa. 30:5), the future existence, and that in his hands is the power of utter extinction, the "second death" represented here by Gehenna.
Ques. A brother writes saying, "I find so few who can or will receive the truth, or what seems such to me, that I am left to do my thinking and studying almost alone. Orthodoxy, so called, has leveled its guns at me, and in the church where I was honored and looked after my name has been cast out. But there is something of more importance to me than this. It is the question, Is my experience as an outcast in this present evil world fitting me for the Master's service? I can bear this, if sure that I will not be rejected also by the Master in the gathering of his jewels. Fears sometimes arise within me that I have caught at the shadow and missed the substance, and that would be loss indeed. Help me, if you can, to an answer to this question in harmony with Scripture. Another question, Think you that the world can see the beauties set forth in the Scriptures?
Ans. Unquestionably the world will in the coming age see much beauty in Scripture; for much of it is devoted to natural or earthly things, and it abounds in glorious earthly promises; and even now some who are not consecrated see much beauty in God's grand and benevolent plans. So, then, the fact that you see in God's character and plan that which is grand and good is not a sufficient evidence that you will be among his jewels. Not all who believe in him and pray to him – "Not every one that saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21.) God's will for this Gospel age is to select such as believe his promises for the future so fully that they will give up the present in sacrifice to obtain it.
The fact that you have already sacrificed one of your dearest treasures – "a good name" – for the sake of your love of the Lord and of his word marks you as having become a partaker of the Master's spirit; for no man will sacrifice for such things without assistance from on high. Peter said, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you as though some strange thing happened unto you. But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that when his glory shall be revealed ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye, for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you....But let none of you suffer as an evil doer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian [for his adherence to the doctrines of Christ] let him glorify God on this behalf." (1 Peter 4:12-16.)
We hope that the Spirit of God may thus rest upon you to such an extent as to cause you to suffer the loss of many other things once counted precious, when you looked at the things that are seen. Remember when the Lord marked out Paul for special favor and special service how he said of him, "I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake." (Acts 9:16.) May the Lord also show both you and I and all that are in Christ Jesus daily how much more it is our privilege to suffer for his sake!
If, dear brother, you desire evidences of your acceptableness with God, they are found in what he permits you to suffer for his and for his truth's sake. Increase the sacrifice daily, and you increase the proof daily that you are his; and such as are his he gathers.
"Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you FALSELY FOR MY SAKE. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." (Matt. 5:11,12.)
"It is a faithful saying, For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him. If we suffer we shall also reign with him." (2 Tim. 2:11,12.) "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God," and "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God" [i.e., our willingness to suffer with Christ proves our harmony with the Spirit of God, thus proving that we are the children of God.] "And if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For...the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." (Rom. 8:14,16,17,18.)
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose." (v. 28.) "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For...neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (vs. 35-39.) "The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers. And who is he that will harm you if ye be followers of that which is good? But if ye suffer for righteousness sake, happy are ye, and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled. 1 Pet. 3:12-14.
For all the tempted and tried ones – the faithful followers of our Lord – our Father's Word is full of cheering and helpful promises, which we should often call to mind for needed strengthening and encouragement.
Ans. The church of Christ in its widest sense includes all believers in the "redemption through his blood." In a more restricted sense it is such of the above as have made a covenant to sacrifice earthly interests for heavenly interests. And in the most restricted sense it is such only of this last class, as fulfill their covenant and accomplish the sacrifice, who constitute THE CHURCH which is HIS BODY (Col. 1:24) otherwise termed "The Bride the Lamb's wife." (Rev. 21:9.)
Each of us may definitely decide [R581 : page 8] whether we have taken the first two of these steps, and whether we are now taking the third. We may know of each other's position regarding the first two steps, by profession, and fruit; but regarding the last step while we should know absolutely concerning self, we should use great care not to decide without positive proof, that any who have taken the two preceding steps, are not taking the last also: for there may be many circumstances of which we may be ignorant, to obscure from our sight the fruit and evidences of their sacrifice, known only to God and themselves.
During this age those who belong to any of these classes are reckoned as in the church. The church nominal is composed not only of these genuine classes, but also of hypocrites. The harvest is the time for separating and gathering the grain, and then each class of the genuine will be separated. In the day when the Lord shall make up his jewels, he will gather such as have completed the covenant of sacrifice (Psa. 50:5), and these only will constitute "THE CHURCH which is his BODY."
During the Millennial age, there will still be a church in the world – a church of BELIEVERS in "the redemption which is in Christ Jesus"; and under the blessed and enlightening influences of the reign of Christ, that church will spread and increase and bring the entire world under the influence of the truths then due. And the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth.
Ques. When in Rev. 22:9, the angel said to John who was about to worship him: "See thou do it not, for I am thy fellow servant and of thy brethren the prophets," does it not prove that the prophets who died became angels, and that this angel who talked with John was one of them?
Ans. No, the book of Revelation is a symbolic book, and as shown in this journal sometime since, both John and the angel represent classes in the church now living. John represents the disciples living at the time that the scenes of the Millennial age begin to unfold at the second presence of Jesus, as was implied in Jesus' words concerning John, applicable not to John himself, but to the class whom he represents in Revelation – "If I will that he tarry TILL I COME." (Jno. 21:22.)
While John represents the entire company of living saints; the angel (messenger) who showed the things to John, represented those of the John class who are used as God's instruments in drawing attention to the coming glory, and causing all of the John class to see them [R582 : page 8] with the eye of faith. As John fell down to worship the messenger so there is always a danger that human weakness in the John class might lead some of them to over-esteem, and almost worship those through whom God has been pleased to send them a knowledge of his plans.
The action and words of the angel, show the way in which the true messengers of God will treat such honor. They will not be puffed up and receive the homage and praise, but will say, All wisdom comes from God, worship not us but Him. We are your brethren and fellow-servants, and fellow-servants with the prophets, and with all that keep the sayings of God – worship God.
The want of moral honesty is the principal impediment to the progress of religious truth now, as in the days of the Nazarene. Many who heard him speak and beheld his prodigies, were convinced of the truth of his claims as a teacher "sent from God"; but his doctrines so conflicted with the popular customs they could not be accepted, only at the cost of social position. The integrity of his hearers was put to the test; and the honest among them made the requisite sacrifice, and publicly accepted his teaching; but those who loved the praise of men more than the approbation of God, suppressed their convictions, and hypocritically adhered to the popular multitude. It is just so now in regard to all attempts to reform the absurd and conflicting creedal systems of our age. A large majority of modern preachers, and of the intelligent lay members of the churches, are as fully convinced of the fallacy of modern theology, and the impotency of modern pulpits in reforming the world, as the writer; but their love of popularity and ease, and lack of trust in God, cause them to remain through life in a false and hypocritical position – their life a continuous lie.
Christ said to his disciples, "Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its savor, it is fit for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot." Here we have the estimate Jesus placed upon those Christians who suppress their convictions for the sake of popularity – He compares them to a man who lights a candle and puts it under a cover to conceal its light. He says, "Woe unto you when all men speak well of you; so did the fathers of the false prophets." "Ye are they who justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God." (Luke 16:15.) But to those who are ostracised for defending the truth he says, "Blessed are ye when men shall hate and revile you, separate you from their company, and cast out your name as evil for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice, for great is your reward in heaven."
"He shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe." – 2 Thess. 1:10.
"It is necessary to remember the double meaning of that word "glorify." Christ glorifies us by making us glorious. He sheds radiance and lustre from himself upon us. We glorify Christ by the exhibition of that reflected and derived light. If we help any dim eye to apprehend his goodness and truth, his perfect fairness and infinite beauty, then we glorify God. In this latter sense the word is employed here where the apostle is speaking about the wonderful things that are to accompany that great event, the coming of Jesus Christ. Like the eastern sun rising above the horizon, and compassed with rose-tinted clouds that derive all their lustre and color from his brightness, he in the midst of thousands of them that love and serve him, shall pour out a flood of glory upon the waiting and wondering world.
He shall come to be recognized as glorious, and to manifest forth his glory in his saints, and to be wondered at amongst all them that believe. Such shall be the illustrious beauty and strange perfectness of character with which Christ's servants shall be arrayed at his manifestation, that all the universe looking at them will receive a loftier impression of what Christ himself is. That is the thought of the passage put into more modern though far weaker words. The idea that runs all through the New Testament is this – that so absolutely and indissolubly one are Christ and Christian people as that his destiny is their destiny and his character their character. There is a time coming when all who are in Christ shall be manifested in glory before the universe as part of the manifestation of Jesus Christ. When the hidden Christ, that is now lost in the blaze – the privacy of that inaccessible light, is manifested forth, then will all that love him shine forth, too. The light that was hidden below the obscuration and limitations of flesh – the life that was almost smothered by this animal and natural life – the life that was only faint and dim while in the world – that life shall blaze out free from all the obscurity and limitations, and with him be manifested in glory.
The present is like a dark lantern with the slide scarcely up at all, while that to which we are looking forward, is like the same lantern with the slide up. This is a wonderful metaphor in which the Master himself puts it – "Then shall the righteous blaze out like the sun in the kingdom of the Father." You have seen the thing our Lord refers to. Some cloudy and dark day, with no color in the grass and flowers, the birds all silent, everything cold and gloomy, all at once some gust of wind or some thinning of the air canopy comes, and out streams the glad light, and everything awakens, scents and sounds; music of the birds, the grass gleams green again, and the waves of the sea glance in the sun as it blazes out upon it. So says Christ – the hidden light we carry shall gleam out in its true properties.
All that we are in the depths of our desires, and the imperfect but often infinite aspirations of our better selves – all that we are, shall blaze forth before all that are there to look. In the manifestation of the sons of God, the depths of their nature shall be brought visibly to all men, like the depths of some pure sea where you can behold the sun at the bottom sparkling upon every little bit of rock that may lie there."
A well-to-do deacon in Connecticut was one morning accosted by his pastor, who said: "Poor widow Green's wood is out. Can you not take her a cord?" "Well," answered the deacon, "I have the wood and I have the team, but who is to pay me for it?" The pastor, somewhat vexed, replied, "I will pay you for it, on the condition that you will read the first three verses of the forty-first Psalm before you go to bed to-night." The deacon consented, delivered the wood, and at night opened the Word of God and read the passage: "Blessed is he that considereth the poor; the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him and keep him alive, and he shall be blessed upon the earth; and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies. The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing; thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness."
A few days afterward the pastor met him again. "How much do I owe you, deacon, for that cord of wood?" "Oh!" said the now enlightened man, "do not speak of payment; I did not know those promises were in the Bible. I would not take money for supplying the old widow's wants."
When St. Paul appeared so entranced and overmastered by the claims of the Gospel that some accused him of being beside himself, this, you remember, was the only explanation he offered for his spiritual intensity: "For the love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then all died." "If one died for all." Oh, this is the fact in the history of Jesus Christ that touches the heart and draws it to God! The life of Christ inspires us; the example of Christ elevates us; the teachings of Christ convict us; but beyond all things else, it is the death of Christ that draws us. And yet here is a point where evangelical religion finds a sharp issue springing up between itself and other forms of belief. "Divine love we insist on as strongly as you do," says the objector, "as the only true motive-power for drawing souls to God; but in defining that love we take a wider sweep than you do. We find its presence and its inspiration in every flower, in every star, in every mountain and hill and valley, in the purple clouds and in the deep-voiced sea – these are its articulate voices. And if you recall us from nature to the Bible, even there we take a broader range than you do.
In the life and example of Christ, in his works of mercy and beneficence, and in the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth, we find the highest exhibition of divine love. Isn't it somewhat narrow in Paul to shut himself up so closely to the cross for the source of his inspiration and enthusiasm? Isn't it somewhat narrow in you to insist on the death of Christ on Calvary as the great motive to love?" Narrow, I admit. But I remember, also, that sometimes narrow things are the most powerful. I recall a stream with which I am familiar, which at one point broadens out for miles into a wide and beautiful expanse of waters. Nothing could be more lovely than the tranquil flow and calm, majestic sweep of the waters [R583 : page 8] at this place. But a little farther down the stream gathers itself up and plunges through a narrow gorge between the hills. There is far less of beauty here. But here is the place of power; here is where the huge wheels of industry are placed; here is where the factories, with their ponderous machinery, have been reared. So we admit that nothing could be more majestic than the life of Jesus Christ; nothing could be more beautiful and inspiring than his lofty teachings; nothing could be more quickening to our love than the study of his works of mercy. But, after all, it is the cross where the love of Christ culminates and manifests its greatest power. There the current of divine love gathers itself up and pours its mighty tide through one act – the greatest and most powerful which the universe has witnessed. There is where great souls, like Paul, have placed themselves to get the fullest sway and sweep of the love God.
THE Post-office authorities now refuse all papers not properly addressed. This will account for some not getting their papers recently. When the name of your village or town is different from the name of the post-office be sure to send the latter. Write addresses very plainly and thereby save our time and your annoyance.
SEND the names of any to whom you think samples of the TOWER would be a blessing; or we will send you samples for your neighbors – Free. Do not part with your own papers, you will need them for reference.