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This paper will be sent free to any of the Lord's poor who will send a card yearly requesting it. Freely we have received and freely we would give the truth. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat – yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." And you that have it – "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently – and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness." – ISAIAH 55:1,2.
"Thus saith the Lord eternal, Behold, I will be against the shepherds, and I will require [take] my flock from their hand, and I will stop them from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more. And I will deliver my flock out of their mouth that they may not serve them for food.
As a shepherd searcheth for his flock on THE DAY THAT HE IS AMONG his flocks that are scattered, so will I search for my flocks, and I will deliver them out of all places whither they have been scattered, on THE DAY OF CLOUDS and tempestuous darkness." (Ezek. 34:10,12) – Leeser's Trans.
The Good Shepherd who gave his life for the sheep has various flocks as intimated above, and by His own words: "Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd." (John 10:16.)
The above scripture not only relates to "Israel after the flesh," one of the flocks to be gathered and fed by the Shepherd, but it has special reference to the spiritual flock, the saints of the Gospel Age. As represented in Matt. 13:52, the under-shepherds whose duty it was to "feed the flock," bringing forth to them things new and old, have sadly neglected their office and devoted much of their time to feeding themselves upon the husks of science and man-made theology, and in honoring each other with the titles Rabbi, Master, Reverend, and Doctor, seeking not rather the feeding and strengthening of the flock in the knowledge of the truth, and that honor which cometh from God only.
As prophetically foretold in the preceding verses of this chapter: "The fat ye [shepherds] eat, and with the wool ye clothe yourselves; those that are well fed [that despite the neglect of the shepherds find pastures of truth, and feed, these] ye slaughter [not now, as a century or more ago literally slaughter, but slaughter their influence, casting out their names as evil]. But the flock ye feed not. Ver. 3.
"My sheep have to wander about on all the mountains, and upon every high hill; yea, over all the face of the land is my flock scattered." Ver. 6. The Lord's sheep are intermixed with various nations (mountains) and in various high hills (societies of earth – churches) "there is none that inquireth, none seeketh after them." The shepherds sanction the scattered and divided condition of the Lord's sheep, even claiming that it is the Chief-Shepherd's will that they should be separated in various sects.
But the words at the head of this article assert that at a certain time the Lord comes to the rescue of his sheep, and casts aside the unfaithful shepherds. Mark well that this will be when he is present "here" and "among his flocks that are scattered." Notice also that his presence "among his flocks" is in the "day of clouds and darkness" – in the day of trouble. Trouble on the nations and upon the unfaithful shepherds.
Surely we have evidence that we are now in this cloudy day – that the Chief Shepherd is present. If not, whence comes the food upon which we are feeding, and the refreshing rest of faith which we now enjoy. Is it not in fulfillment of what was written – "And I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down. Ver. 15.
The same lesson is expressed through Jeremiah (23:1,4) and Isaiah touchingly refers to the Lord's care for even the weakest of the flock in the day of His presence, saying: "Like a shepherd will he feed his flock: with his arm will he gather the lambs, and in his bosom will he carry them." Isa. 40:11.
The Shepherd has been feeding us wonderfully during the past few years, and all who are being strengthened thereby should be aware that he is collecting his sheep, and though scattered over the hills of sectarianism, he calls His own sheep together into one fold – one church – as it was at first.
How strange it seems that some cannot realize this; but when they hear His call, "Come," "Come out of her, [Babylon – confusion,] they seem loath to leave, and unused to the liberty wherewith Christ makes free, they inquire, If we come out, into what shall we go? They are so used to bondage to systems and forms and rules of men, that they cannot realize the strength of the fold which has no other bars than the Word of God; they cannot realize the ONENESS of that flock which is kept together simply and only by bonds of love one for another and for the Shepherd.
Looking from the TOWER it seems that there are many such sheep now, who, because of weakness of faith in the words of the Shepherd, and holding to the traditions of men, may lose the high honor of membership in the chief flock – a place among the overcomers. Let us take heed.
But the work of the Shepherd will be first directed to the assistance, feeding and gathering of the first or special flock, yet we thank God that this Shepherd will leave none who truly belong to his flocks to starve. "With his arm [power] he will gather the lambs," and lead them and feed them. Yes, when the arm of the Lord is revealed – when his power is manifest in the overturning of all false systems, then some will SEE, and hear, and obey, who have not the overcoming strength now.
It is of this class we read, "These are they which came out of great tribulation," and "The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne [then in exalted power] shall feed them and shall LEAD them." (Rev. 7:14,17.) They will then be ready to be led out of false systems to follow the Shepherd's leading.
Meantime, "Israel after the flesh" will not be neglected; for though of another flock, they are under the same Shepherd. Liberty and restoration to national union and favor will be granted to them, that in due time they may be fitting channels through which the truth of God may pass to refresh, revive and bless all the families of the earth.
FRIEND RUSSELL: – The June number of the TOWER is received; it is a friend anxiously expected and most heartily received. It seems to me like news from home. Since I first saw the "Food for Thinking Christians," I have gained more information from it and WATCH TOWER than from all the works I ever read. I have been quite a Bible reader, and have attempted to teach its doctrines heretofore, but all passages outside of a certain line of doctrine were unintelligible to me. I preached what I supposed to be the Word of God, and I was quite successful, but I became dissatisfied with myself and quit preaching, because I was not sure that I was right; and now I know that I taught the doctrines of men for the commandments of God. I have began to introduce some of the ideas gained from recent reading, and they have produced quite an effect, and some ask, What new doctrine have you got now? I made a chart of the ages, and lectured from that, I am astonished at the result. And now please send me a Wall Chart; I think it is just what I want. I intended to get one painted. Please find the amount enclosed for the Z.W.T. one year, for __________, my friend, he has been a Disciple preacher for 25 years. He mourns to think he has stumbled so long. Please send him a Chart also. May God bless you abundantly now and hereafter. Yours, in hope of eternal life,
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – I received the "Concordance" and the "Emphatic Diaglott" in good condition. Please accept many thanks. I would not be without them for twice the cost of them. It is a real blessing to be able to obtain books of such value at so small a price. By the help of the Concordance, the Diaglott and your own publications, "Food for Thinking Christians," "The Tabernacle and its Teachings," and the WATCH TOWER, the Bible seems almost like a new book.
I would like very much to see the April number of the TOWER for 1883, as I did not have the pleasure of reading your article on the Lord's Supper. Two of us, myself and wife, took the bread and wine in remembrance of the death of our Saviour, but we missed the time, as we did not celebrate it until the evening of the 13th of April, "Easter Sunday"; but I hope the Lord will accept it, as in memory of Him who died for us. I remain yours, very truly,
DEAR BRO.: – Through a good brother I have been permitted to read three numbers of ZION'S WATCH TOWER. I am so much edified I cannot think of doing without it. I am nearly 55 years of age, and have been in the service of our blessed Master nearly 25 years, and through misfortune I am one of the Lord's poor; but I rejoice that you have made me welcome to light and truth through the WATCH TOWER. I cannot pay you now, but will at my earliest convenience. Please send me right away ZION'S WATCH TOWER. I am praying for further knowledge of the truth, and it seems my prayer is about to be answered. I must have your valuable paper. I humbly pray God to bless your labors. Yours, in hope of immortality,
DEAR BROTHER: – I have received a copy of the WATCH TOWER of October, 1883. If it can be had, I want the preceding number....If still published, I desire to become a subscriber to the WATCH TOWER. Acquaintance with the paper through the number I have makes me long for all the back numbers, which I will order if they can be had. I thank God for the providence that has put the number I have into my hands. Yours fraternally,
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – Accept of my heartfelt thanks for the "TOWER." It is a most welcome guest in my family. Although poor in the things of this world, the blessed prospect of immortality, as taught in your paper, enables me much more cheerfully to "endure hardship as a good soldier of Christ." I find the exposition of Scripture so clear and logical in the "TOWER," that strong faith has taken the place of doubt and instability. May the Lord abundantly bless you in your work and labor of love, and may you be permitted for many years to continue in the blessed service of enlightening the minds of those who are groping in moral darkness. Yours affectionately,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – It is with great joy that I write these lines. To say that my Saviour is blessing me is a poor way to express the joy and peace that he gives me, but I know of no other way. He is very near to me now, though the eyes of my flesh cannot behold him, but with the eyes of faith I can see him and hold sweet communion with him. I feel sure you understand this, but if I speak of this even to those who profess to know and love him they would think I was foolish and very peculiar. They keep trying to get me to page 2 join the church and be one with them, but I tell them I do not want any church or creed but the one church whose names are written in heaven. I have lent or given away all the books and papers you sent me. Some say they are very good, and others say they cannot understand them. One old man to whom I gave a Food for Thinking Christians says he cannot part with it, it is so good. He came over from Scotland about a year ago, and is about 87 years of age; his daughter says he will sit and read Food for hours. May the Lord bless this reading to his soul is my prayer. His daughter gave me fifty cents to send for the WATCH TOWER for him and herself. The other mite please add to the Tract Fund. I wish with all my heart it were a hundred dollars, but my Heavenly Father knows all about it. May the Lord continue to bless you and make you a blessing to others is my daily prayer for you and dear Sister Russell, for I never can tell you how much good the paper does me. I am looking forward to the time, which I hope will not be long, when, if we are faithful, we shall meet in our Father's Kingdom, when we can tell one another of all the way the Saviour led us, and when we shall know one another even as we are known. Blessed thought to be ever with the Lord. Your sister,
In an article in June ZION'S WATCH TOWER, page 6, by Bro. Tackabury, showing the advantages of understanding God's plan of the ages, and the importance of knowing the seasons – as seed time and harvest – that we may work in harmony with God's plan, we find this paragraph: "Many laborers, though very anxious to be at work, seem not to know whether they are to sow or reap. Perhaps we should rather say, they want to sow and reap at the same time. Failing to comprehend God's plan, or, more likely, failing to discover any plan at all, they work hap-hazard, as they suppose God is doing."
How true the picture – hap-hazard just expresses it – and the reason, "As they suppose God is doing." As I read, the picture Jesus gave us of these times came up, and the stupid and falsifying answer of the slothful servant: "Lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou didst not sow, and gathering where thou didst not scatter: and I was afraid, and went away and hid thy talent in the earth," etc. (Matt. 25.) Instead of developing the talent confided to his care by the Lord, he buried it. Why? He was ignorant of his Lord's character and will. He imagined that the Lord was selfish and exacting, claiming more than he had any right to. Is it strange that the nominal Church should have the same spirit? Greedy, intolerant, haughty and boastful, she wants to reap without sowing, to gather where she has no right. She would rather fill the Church with the devil's children, (especially if they were rich,) that she might boast of her numbers and influence, than to have a few who are consecrated. In fact, the truly converted are not what she wants at all; they would, by their "old fogy" notions, keep out the very class she wants to have in.
She seeks to reap without sowing. The plough and spade are not suited to her dainty hands. But she has reaping machines, and patent binding machines, and combined threshers and winnowers, that cast out the wheat and save the chaff; and recently she has borrowed from the politicians an elevating machine to store her treasures in the coveted places in her barns.
Seriously, the Churches have plenty of machinery, good facilities and well systemized work by many workers. Why, then, do not the nations fall before her? Some of their blind leaders, looking with pride upon their facilities, boast that it will take but a few years more to convert the world.
Looking from their standpoint, it is not unreasonable that they should think so. Surely such a vast amount of machinery and organized effort ought to accomplish wonders. Think of the Young Men's Christian Association, with its myriads of workers everywhere; the Women's Christian Temperance Union, rapidly spreading its numbers and influence; the Home Missionary enterprises of various kind; the International S.S. [R634 : page 2] system; the sermons, lectures, inquiry meetings, etc., etc.
Why is it that in the presence of this vast army of zealous, tireless workers so little is being accomplished? The accessions to the Church do not keep pace with the population, so that, instead of conquering the world, the Church is actually falling behind, and that rapidly. Secret skepticism and blatant blasphemy are steadily increasing; crime and corruption fill the newspapers, which, in many cases, are eagerly bought for the sake of their filthy record.
Why cannot some see that something must be radically wrong in this matter? Is God unable to give this army the victory? What of Gideon, and Samson, and David, and Nehemiah, and many others who fought the Lord's battles? If a handful working in harmony with God could do so much, what should be done through these millions?
"Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men." Matt. 5:13.
Salt is permeating in its character, and is a well known preservative against decay, and is therefore a fitting symbol of the principles of Christianity and those in whose life those principles are exemplified. The character of a child of God is known and read by those of the world who never think of reading God's written revelation, and it is emphatically true, that these living representatives of the principles of Christianity, are the salt of the earth.
If we would see the effect of this salt we have only to consider the difference between the so-called Christian and heathen nations of the world to-day. The superstition and ignorance of the latter impede progress in every direction. Take, for instance, China. In morality her standard is exceedingly low, and the mass of that vast nation seem to have lost those manly traits of character which distinguish the human from the lower orders of being; its system of education is a mere memorizing and inculcating of the old fables and superstitions of the past. These superstitions forbid any advancement in science, philosophy, art, and what is generally called civilization. Railroads and telegraphs can scarcely be constructed because they come in conflict with these old superstitions. Just so it is in India and in every heathen country.
"Yes," we hear many voices say, "this great progress in civilization in Christian nations is due to the influence of the Church;" and by the Church they mean that great organization, or rather union of diverse organizations which the Scriptures term "Babylon," (Rev. 17:18) – the great development of the "Mystery of Iniquity." But this is a great mistake: Jesus never said, Babylon, or the Mystery of Iniquity is the salt of the earth; but "ye" – the true children of God – "are the salt of the earth."
Let us notice, then, how this salt of the earth has been working. But first, we object to the expression "Christian nations," for there is not a Christian NATION on the face of the earth. If such a nation did exist, it would indeed be the salt of the earth.
What is termed civilization is nothing more than the arrest of those elements of decay which are at work in the human family, and a preservation or salting of the good qualities which have not yet become extinct. And this, in so far as it has progressed, we claim has been done solely through the agency of the children of God, though hindered, not helped, by the great "Mystery of Iniquity." Every truth and principle that has been brought to light from the Divine Revelation, and exemplified in the faith and life of the saints, has made its influence felt to some extent on the world, and the aggregate of that influence is seen in the present development of civilization. Every martyred saint, and every persecuted, despised and rejected faithful one, who bravely defended the truths and principles of Christianity, has done his part in thus salting the earth, although the false or ignorant professors who persecuted them, did so in the name of the Lord, saying, "Let the Lord be glorified." Isa. 66:5.
As thus through the suffering, sacrifice and toil of the faithful few, sufficient truth has dawned upon the world to liberate them from the thraldom of superstition, they have enjoyed a greater degree of liberty. And in that blessed liberty and just to the extent that they have received it, has heart and mind expanded; morality has increased; philanthropic enterprises have been undertaken; and art, science, invention, and every branch of education has flourished. And yet the nations thus favored are not Christian nations; no, they have only been salted a little with the truths and principles of Christianity, though they do not realize from whence they received them, and generally consider these things as the result of their own wisdom.
This salt has, at least to some extent, penetrated all nations with results corresponding to the amount received. Since these who have been the salt of the earth, have grown up largely under the shadow of the Mystery of Iniquity, that great system has not only persecuted them, but it has claimed as the result of its own working, all the benefits which have accrued to the world as the result of their effort. But the real character of the great Babylon system has ever been to becloud the truth, advance error, promote superstition, fetter thought, and retard progress. Whatever progress the saints have made in gaining a knowledge of the truth has ever been against her strong opposition. Yet God permitted the true and the false, the wheat and the tares to grow together until the harvest. (Matt. 13:28-30.) And now, in the harvest time, the saints, the real salt of the earth, are being separated from the false ones in the Church, and shall soon be exalted to power, and through that power they will be enabled to thoroughly salt all nations. The blessed truths and principles of Christianity shall then permeate not only all nations, but all hearts. "The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." Isa. 11:9.
But there is another important thought in the text under consideration. Jesus inquires: If the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? and answers, "It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men." Here is a solemn fact that we should all lay well to heart. That which constitutes the saints, the salt of the earth, is the fact that they have been salted with the truth, and that truth received permeates their being, affecting their actions, thoughts and words.
But if these who are the salt of the earth lose their savor, (saltness,) that is if they lose those truths and principles of the gospel wherewith they were salted, wherewith shall they be salted again? There is no other gospel that can salt them, or preserve them from decay, putrefaction and ultimate death. There is no better gospel; there is no grander plan of salvation than that we have learned, and no better teacher and guide into truth than the Comforter we have received, and who has led us in plain paths since first we submitted implicitly to his leading.
Tell us then, if you can, "If the salt have lost its saltness, wherewith shall it be salted? Jesus said, "It is good for nothing." O, can that be the sad condition of any who once were enlightened and who rejoiced in and were sanctified by the truth? Were such a circumstance not possible, then surely the Master would not have warned of such danger. Let us, therefore, consider well, and beware, and be not too hasty to decide that the solemn warning is unnecessary and called attention to by the mere caprice of a brother who for some selfish end would put the breaks on the wheels of progress.
"It is thenceforth good for nothing." Lord, will it then be worthy of eternal life? Will God perpetuate the existence that is "good for nothing"? NO, it is to be "cast out and trodden under foot" – destroyed. Once esteemed of God as the salt of the earth, afterward "a vessel of wrath fitted to destruction." But while it is possible thus to fall, let us rejoice in the blessed assurance that none can pluck us out of our Father's hand, (John 10:29;) and "He that keepeth Israel shall not slumber" (Ps. 121:4). If the salt loses its savor it will be because we abandon the truth and turn unto fables, and not because God fails to supply it to his saints with abundant and convincing proof.
There is a story of a young man who, having some financial scheme which required a large amount of capital, called on a very wealthy banker to interest him in the enterprise. He declined to advance the funds that were needed for the undertaking, but promised to put him in a way to get them; and so, taking his arm they walked once or twice up and down the Exchange, conversing with him as they went. When they returned, he told him he could go among the bankers and get what he wanted. The young man found that the statement was true. The very fact of his being seen with that wealthy man gave him all the credit he wanted.
What do angels say when they see a weak, helpless, sinful, fallen, mortal taken into fellowship with their Master, and walking with him along earth's desert way? So Enoch walked with God many hundred years ago. Men knew him as one who lived a hidden, secret life, whose mystery they could not penetrate; the demons of darkness knew him as one clothed in armor which they could not pierce, and defended by One into whose presence they dared not intrude; but the angels knew him as a man who walked with God, and were not surprised when at last "he was not, for God took him."
To such fellowship and intimacy as this, Christians are called. We are invited to draw nigh to God, and have fellowship with him, to maintain such intimacy that the world shall know that we have been with Jesus.– Selected.
THE times are critical, not here alone, but all over the world. Prospering in purely material interests, as I fully believe the people at large have never done before, the elements to bring on the gravest moral changes are simultaneously at work everywhere. The problems now lavishly presented for agitation touch the very foundation of religious faith, of moral philosophy, of civil government, and even of human society. New forms of power are developing themselves, seriously menacing the solidity of all established institutions. Even that great conviction, ever cherished as the apple of your eye, and which really is the rock upon which our political edifice rests, the durability of representative government, bids fair to be, sooner or later, drawn into question on solid grounds. The collision between the forces of associated capital and those of associated labor is likely to make itself felt throughout the wide extent of human civilization.– Charles Francis Adams.
"WE would laugh at a man who should suppose his field of grain to be cut simply because he had whetted his scythe. No less absurd is it for a man to think that he can do his whole duty by merely praying."
I'm growing very old. This weary head That hath so often leaned on Jesus' breast, In days long past that seem almost a dream, Is bent and hoary with its weight of years. These limbs that followed Him – my Master – oft From Galilee to Judea! yea, that stood Beneath the cross and trembled with His groans, Refuse to bear me even through the streets To preach unto my children. E'en my lips Refuse to form the words my heart sends forth. My ears are dull, they scarcely hear the sobs Of my dear children gathered round my couch: God lays His hand upon me – yea, His hand, And not His rod – the gentle hand that I Felt those three years, so often pressed in mine, In friendship, such as passeth woman's love. I'm old; so old I cannot recollect The faces of my friends; and I forget The words and deeds that make up daily life; But that dear face, and every word He spoke, Grow more distinct as others fade away, So that I live with Him and holy dead More than with living.
Some seventy years ago I was a fisher by the sacred sea. It was at sunset. How the tranquil tide Bathed dreamily the pebbles! How the light Crept up the distant hills, and in its wake Soft purple shadows wrapped the dewy fields! And then He came and called me. Then I gazed For the first time, on that sweet face. These eyes From out of which, as from a window, shone Divinity, looked on my inmost soul, And lighted it forever. Then his words Broke on the silence of my heart, and made The whole world musical. Incarnate love Took hold of me and claimed me for its own. I followed in the twilight, holding fast His mantle.
O, what holy walks we had Through harvest fields, and desolate, dreary wastes! And oftentimes He leaned upon my arm, Wearied and wayworn, I was young and strong, And so upbore Him. Lord, now I am weak And old, and feeble! Let me rest on Thee! So, put thine arm around me. Closer still! How strong Thou art! The twilight draws space Come let us leave these noisy streets and take The path to Bethany; for Mary's smile Awaits us at the gate, and Martha's hands Have long prepared the cheerful evening meal. Come, James, the Master waits; and Peter, see Has gone some steps before.
What say you, friends? That this is Ephesus, and Christ has gone Back to the heavenly kingdom! Ay, 'tis so, 'tis so, I know it all; and yet, just now, I seemed To stand once more upon my native hills, And touch my Master. O, how oft I've seen The touching of His garments bring back strength To palsied limbs! I feel it has to mine. Up! bear me once more to my flock! Once more There let me tell them of the Saviour's love; For, by the sweetness of my Master's voice Just now, I think He must be very near. Coming, I trust, to break the vail, which time Has worn so thin that I can see beyond, And watch His footsteps.
So, raise up my head, How dark it is! I cannot seem to see The faces of my flock. Is that the sea That murmurs so, or is it weeping? Hush, My little children. God so loved the world He gave His Son: So, love ye one another. Love God and man. Amen. Now bear me back My legacy unto an angry world is this. I feel my work is finished. Are the streets so full? What, call the folk my name? The holy John; Nay, write me rather, Jesus Christ's beloved, And lover of my children.
Lay me down Once more upon my couch, and open wide The eastern window. See, there comes a light Like that which broke upon my soul at eve, When in the dreary isle of Patmos, Gabriel came And touched me. See, it grows! And hark! It is the song the ransomed sang Of glory to the Lamb! How loud it sounds! And that unwritten one! Methinks my soul Can join it now. But who are those who crowd The shining way? Say! – joy! 'tis the eleven, With Peter first! How eagerly he looks! How bright the smile on James' face! I am the last. Once more we are complete To gather round the paschal feast. My place Is next my Master. O, my Lord, my Lord! How bright Thou art! and yet the very same I loved in Galilee. 'Tis worth the hundred years To feel this bliss! So, lift me up, dear Lord, Unto Thy bosom. There shall I abide.– Sel.
The Law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. – ROM. 7:14.
The ideas associated with the words carnal, natural and spiritual are various and generally confused. And before defining the above Scripture let us glance briefly at the meaning and scope of these words. Natural signifies according to nature. Nature has two principal definitions – "The sum of qualities and attributes which make a thing what it is as distinct from others"; also, "the regular course of things, the usual order of events." – Webster. The first of these is the primary or strict meaning of the word, but from custom the latter is generally understood and used.
Using the word natural in connection with mankind in its primary sense, the strict meaning of the expression, the natural man, would be a man possessed of the sum of qualities and attributes which belong to human nature, i.e., a perfect man. According to this strict definition, there is not a natural man living in the world to-day; for there is not one who possesses in perfect measure all the qualities and attributes which belong to human nature. But the general use of the word natural, would define the expression, "the natural man," thus: a man in harmony with the regular, course of things, and after the usual order of mankind as it exists at present, which Scripture asserts is a fallen or depraved condition, and not the condition which belonged to, and was enjoyed by, the first of the race.
The word spiritual is used in two ways also. The strict or primary meaning is, "Consisting of spirit – a spiritual substance or being." A secondary meaning, and the one generally used, is, "Pertaining to the intellectual and higher endowments of the mind – as influenced by the spirit, controlled and inspired by the Divine Spirit." According to the primary meaning of the word, to become spiritual would be to become a spiritual substance or being. According to the second definition, it would be to have the intellect under the guidance of God's spirit.
The expression, "the law is spiritual," cannot be understood according to the first definition – the law is not a spiritual being – but according to the second. The Law appeals to the intellectual or higher endowments of men and represents the Divine mind or spirit.
In answer, then, to the question: "Can a natural man keep a spiritual law?" we answer, It depends upon what you mean by a natural man. If you use natural according to the second definition, your question would in substance be, "Can a man after the usual order of men [fallen and imperfect] as we see them about us to-day, keep the Law of God which is spiritual and represents his perfect will? And our answer to this question would be, No; the race has become imperfect in mind and body, and has lost the original likeness to such an extent that it is impossible for them either to fully appreciate that law, or to keep it. "There is none righteous; no, not one."
But if the question be changed so as to give the word natural its primary meaning, it in substance would be: "Could a man possessing all the qualities and attributes which BELONG to the human nature keep a spiritual law?" To this question we would say, Yes: God made man in his own image [endowed with like mental and moral qualities, though of less scope] for the very purpose of having him able to appreciate his law – which is spiritual, or which represents his mind. It is in this particular that man differs from, and is superior to the lower animals. He was made capable of appreciating fully the will of his Creator.
Sin and its consequences have warped and twisted man's intellect and judgment by which he was intended to apprehend God's dealings and laws, to such an extent, that now, with somewhat perverted judgment, he, in his present fallen state, is unable often to discern the righteousness of God's rulings, and cannot ever fully keep the requirements of His perfect law.
This agrees with Paul's argument in the connection in which this text occurs. He reasons that the Law was just and good – in fact, was spiritual, or represented the mind or judgment of the perfect Creator, hence, could not be wrong; and since he and others by nature (second meaning, i.e., in the condition usual or common to all) were out of harmony with that Law, and were condemned by it, it proved that they were imperfect and sinful. He then explains how it comes that man is out of harmony with the perfect law, saying: "I am carnal, [have a fleshly mind, or a mind conformed to the ordinary or depraved course of this world], sold under sin" – sold by the first Adam, for a momentary gratification, into slavery to sin and its train of consequent evils, terminating in death.
This is the reason that a variance exists between the perfect law and man as he is – under sin. Not that man, as originally created in the image of God, was at variance with the law of God and unable to keep it, but that, having lost much of God's image in the fall, and having become depraved through sin, he is unable to keep the Law now, because he is carnal – sold under sin.
The perfect man of God's creation – Adam – had the full range of mental and moral faculties which constituted him God's image, but of practical knowledge he of course had none, the design of the Creator being that His (God's) knowledge should be accessible to the man. And so long as Adam was content to follow his Maker's instructions perfectly, that is, to be controlled by God's spirit, or mind, or will, so long he prospered and was happy. The fall was occasioned by his leaning to his own understanding or judgment, which, from lack of experience, was defective.
Losing the mind or spirit of God, he not only was condemned by the Law of God, which represents or expresses God's mind, but the race soon began to lose even that perfection of organism and mental balance, which at first enabled Adam to see and appreciate things from the standpoint of the Creator. Hence it is said that the mind which men now have is carnal – made up according to their earthly circumstances and surroundings – and not the mind of God.
Believers in Christ, who realize through his sacrifice the forgiveness of sins, are exhorted to make a full surrender of their will (which in all, is carnal) to the will of God: that is, to cease to look at matters from the depraved standpoint, and to use every effort to look at things from God's standpoint. This is a much more difficult matter for us now, than it was for Adam, because of the bent which sin has given us constitutionally, which is offset to some extent by our knowledge of the circumstances as revealed in God's Word.
As we may become acquainted with the mind or spirit of our fellow creatures by attention to their words, so God has given us His Word that thereby those who desire to do so, may ascertain his mind or spirit. If we consecrate ourselves fully, and ignore our own will, to accept of God's will, then we are said to be spiritually minded. Then we stand in precisely the position which Adam occupied before disobedience – controlled by the mind of God. "To be carnally minded is death, [to be controlled by any other will than God's will, brings distress, misery, trouble, and eventually death, according to the perfect and unalterable law of God]; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." (Rom. 8:6.) To have a mind in perfect harmony with that which is perfect and which is working all things according to the counsel of his own will, is the way not only to insure peace and happiness, but the only way to insure everlasting life; for God declares that all who will not be subject to his perfect will or law, may not live forever, since such lives would be an injury, both to themselves and others.
Since this condition of spiritual mindedness was one of the things lost by mankind in the fall, it would surely be one of the things restored to men by the Redeemer and Restorer in the times of restitution of all things. Mankind may again come into God's likeness, and being freed from sin by the Redeemer, will in due time be freed from the carnal mind, (of opposition to God,) which is the result of sin.
This is expressed forcibly by the prophet, who says of the work of the Times of Restitution: "I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh." That is: I will remove the caloused and depraved elements of disposition – your carnal mind – and give you a mind such as you should have as men, such as belongs to perfect manhood, a heart of flesh. Again: "I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them." "After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people." (Ezek. 36:26,27, and Jer. 31:33,34.)
"It shall come to pass AFTERWARD, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh." [After the Gospel age is ended, the spiritual mind is to be restored to all flesh, during the Millennial reign.] "And in those days I will pour out my spirit upon the servants and upon the handmaidens." (Joel 2:28,29.) [During the Gospel age none can receive God's spirit except they first become his servants by consecration, while in the next age, the carnal mind being removed by the process of restoration, the acquirement of the mind of the spirit will be without difficulty.] [R637 : page 3]
Since, then, the Spirit of God is one Spirit, and is to be in the world in the next age, as it is in the Church in this age, the question arises, Will it not produce the same effects in them (the world) that it now produces in the Church, and will not the results be the same? if the possession of the Spirit by the world gives evidence as with Adam, of perfect MANHOOD, does it not indicate that the highest aspirations of the Church under the same Spirit should be perfect MANHOOD? or, on the other hand, if the hope is well founded that the Church through the possession of the Spirit and as a result of it, becomes changed from human to SPIRITUAL NATURE (a spiritual body as well as mind), does it not prove that if the world comes under the influence of the same Spirit the result will be the same to them?
From a surface view one might answer, Yes. But we think we can give the best of logical, as well as Scriptural reasons for answering, No, the possession of the same Spirit or mind will not lead to exactly the same results because of the difference of circumstances during the two ages. The same Spirit, or mind of God, under the same circumstances, would produce the same results, but under opposite circumstances would produce different results.
The mind of God is always in harmony with justice and love, hence if we possess that Spirit now, during "this present evil world," while in contact with sorrow, trouble, pain, injustice, etc., we must of necessity oppose them, and use our influence against them, and this Spirit of God will lead us not only to sympathize, but to sacrifice, in our endeavor to bless and alleviate. As the apostles saw the dreary darkness of those about them, and knew the joy and comfort and peace of heart it would give them to know of a Ransom by Jesus and a coming blessing upon all through him, they sacrificed much to
"Tell the whole world the blessed tidings,"Because led of the same Spirit or mind of God which prompted the Father to send the only begotten that the world through him might live, and which inspired our Lord when he "gave himself a ransom for all," therefore the apostle could exclaim even in the midst of tribulation, "Woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel." (1 Cor. 9:16.) Under the influence of that Spirit he could take pleasure in nothing else. Possessed of that Spirit, his own comfort, ease, pleasure, honor or wealth appeared as loss and dross, to be gladly abandoned for the privilege of being a co-worker with God, and joining his life in sacrifice to the Master's. And in proportion as WE possess the Spirit or mind of God, we will so view matters and so act, so long as ignorance, blindness, trouble and sin exist.
If the miseries, etc., of the present should continue during the coming age, the Spirit of God would ever prompt in the same way to its alleviation, and the results would still be sacrifice among all possessing the Spirit: but it will not be so. With the end of this age the predominance of evil will cease; and with it the [R637 : page 4] necessity and opportunity of suffering by opposing it, will cease. The time of suffering will have given place to the time of rejoicing and glory. Glory to God in the highest, glory to Christ and the Church, and on earth peace and good will toward men, with naught to molest or make them afraid. The Scripture will be fulfilled: "In His day the righteous [right-doer – those possessing God's Spirit] shall flourish." Whereas, now, "Whosoever will live Godly [according to the Spirit of God] shall suffer persecution."
Thus we easily and quickly show that the possession of the Spirit of God would have different effects according to the circumstances – one time necessitating and producing suffering, sacrifice and dishonor, and at another the very reverse, blessing and honor.
When the difference of circumstances is kept in mind – the favorable circumstances of those in the coming age, when Satan and evil is bound, and blindness, ignorance, and depravity, are being removed, and when the full knowledge of the Lord is flooding the earth as the waters cover the sea, and the unfavorable circumstances of the present age, when Satan uses his blinding arts and ensnarements, when we must walk by faith and not by sight, when to have and exercise the Spirit of God demands self-crucifixion, self-denial, dishonor and adversity, are kept in mind, who can wonder that God has provided "some better thing for us" than for the world in general. (Heb. 11:40.) Not that the world's portion will not be good, yea PERFECT, but that our portion will be better inasmuch as it will be a perfection on a higher plane of existence than the human, even a partaking of the divine nature. (2 Pet. 1:4.) Do you question how both could be PERFECT yet one better than the other? Let us illustrate: When Jesus was "made so much BETTER than the angels," think you that it implies that they are degraded or imperfect? Nay every creation of God in its perfection is very good, though there are various orders or kinds, and the perfection of each differs from the other. So with the perfect man RESTORED to God's image and controlled by his Spirit, he will still be "a little lower than the angels" in comparison, (Ps. 8:5,) while the glorified Church like her Head and Lord will be "so much better than the angels," inasmuch as with her Lord she becomes partaker of the divine nature, which, though no more perfect than angelic nature, both being perfect, is nevertheless superior as a higher order of nature – above all.
The proof of a different reward for those who during this Gospel Age suffer with Christ is briefly stated thus: All the promises to Israel according to the flesh, and the world, which they in figure represented (the priesthood excepted, who represented the Church,) are earthly promises, adapted to perfect human beings, viz.: the land, fruitful fields, abundance of peace, restoration, etc. (Gen. 13:14,15; Exod. 20:12; Micah 4:4.)
The promises to the Church are the reverse – on earth suffering, poverty, affliction, persecution, self-denial, and in the future, heavenly glory, honor, power and association with and likeness to Christ Jesus. They have the privilege of not only suffering with him, but of sharing with him in the restoration of mankind.
"Ye shall see...all the prophets in the kingdom of God." (Luke 13:28.)
"But what went ye out for to see! A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.... Verily, I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." (Matt. 11:9-11.)
In the above Scripture we have what might appear to many candid students a contradiction in Jesus' teachings. The Jews regarded John as a prophet, and Jesus agreed with them, ("Yea,") showing that he was not only a prophet, but the greatest of them, in that he was the immediate forerunner of the Messiah. And notwithstanding his teaching on another occasion, that all the prophets, (which of course would include John,) would be in the kingdom of God, he now states that the least one in the kingdom would be greater than this greatest prophet. And this statement excludes John, as well as the other prophets, entirely from the kingdom.
One of two things is certainly true – either this is a contradiction, or else Jesus was speaking of the kingdom of God in two different senses. The latter we find to be the case, and so these statements prove to be harmonious. As there was a fleshly house of Israel developed during the Jewish age, so a spiritual Israel has been developing during the Gospel age. (1 Cor. 10:18; Gal. 6:16.) The promises to the former were of an earthly character, while the promises to the latter were "exceeding great" and "better promises" of a heavenly or spiritual character. So the kingdom of God which is to rule the earth in the age to come, is to consist of an earthly, visible phase, and a spiritual phase which is higher and invisible to men. And Jesus affirms that the least one in this higher phase, shall be greater than the greatest in the visible, earthly phase of the kingdom.
Paul shows us further that those who shall have part in the earthly kingdom, shall partake of the earthly or human nature, while those who have part in the heavenly or spiritual kingdom shall partake of the spiritual nature: –
"Some will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?...God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body....There is a natural [human] body, and there is a spiritual body. ...As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly." (1 Cor. 15:35-48.)
This exceeding great and precious promise, the spiritual kingdom, was [R638 : page 4] never made known until Jesus brought it to light, (2 Tim. 1:10,) and he as the head of that spiritual kingdom, was the forerunner of all that "little flock" who shall inherit it. It will be seen also that this high exaltation of the few, is for the blessing of the many subjects of the kingdom.
Upon the recognition of the two natures, human and spiritual, and the two corresponding phases of the kingdom of God, depends to a very great extent our ability to rightly divide the word of truth. If we fail to discern this distinction so clearly set forth in the Scriptures, we fail entirely to discern the high calling of the saints of the Gospel age, and all necessity for this age, as distinguished from the next.
In a recent lecture on the "man of sin" mentioned in 2 Thess. 2:3, we took the ground that the mysterious power there foretold is that of the Papacy, springing up and holding sway in the Christian Church, alleging that this was the view strongly held by the Reformers, and by the best expositors from their time onward.
An honored brother, the editor of The Truth, who is strongly wedded to another view – viz., that the words refer to a future infidel, Antichrist, sitting in the rebuilt Temple at Jerusalem – heard with astonishment that we used the following language, and wondered how any one laying claim to accurate scholarship could make such an assertion: viz., "The Greek for 'the temple of God' in 2 Thessalonians never, in a single instance elsewhere, means the literal Temple, but is always applied to the Church of God, which temple believers are. We used precisely these words, and are most glad to be called upon to reiterate and substantiate them.
Let us say at the outset, that in interpreting difficult passages of Scripture, we know of no sure method of finding their meaning except to give attention to the exact words and phrases employed, and then to collate these with the same expressions in other parts of Scripture; and so, by "comparing spiritual things with spiritual," to find out the teaching of God. Those who hold loose views of inspiration, say that the thought is the main thing; and that this phrase is equivalent to that phrase, provided it contains the same general idea. We do not admit this. We believe that the Bible is written "not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth;" and that the Spirit is infinitely accurate in the use of language. Holding this in view, the interpreter can move forward with confidence; to him the words of Holy Scripture are "nails fastened by the master of assemblies," and he can hang his expositions upon them without fear of their giving away.
Now, in seeking to determine the character and seat of this mysterious "man of sin" predicted in Thessalonians, we use just this method, comparing the words here employed to describe him with the same words used in other parts of Scripture. And we have the uttermost confidence that this will give us the true solution of the secret. Let us seek to determine them,I. – THE SEAT OF THE "MAN OF SIN.""He, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God."The Greek phrase here employed for "temple of God," is "ton naon tou Theou." Now, from Matthew to Revelation this expression occurs seven times only. The following are all the instances:
1. "This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days." (Matt. 26:61.)
2. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you." (1 Cor. 3:16).
3. "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy." (1 Cor. 3:17).
4. "For the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." (1 Cor. 3:17).
5. "And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?" (2 Cor. 6:16).
6. "For ye are the temple of God, the living one." (2 Cor. 2:6).
7. "So that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God." (2 Thess. 2:4).
Of the first six of these passages, not one refers to the Jewish Temple, and, therefore, we believe that the seventh cannot. Our critic quotes the first, indeed, as so referring; but remembering that this was the language which Christ's enemies imputed to him, we have only to turn to his own words as recorded in John 2:19, to find the real meaning of what he uttered. It is there said, "But this he spake of the temple of his body." Thus we see that Christ's meaning corresponds exactly with that of Paul in his letter to the Corinthians – the temple of God being the body of believers, individually and corporately, as "the habitation of God through the Spirit," or, in other words, the Church of God, including the Head and the members, as indwelt by the Holy Spirit. This is the primary and literal usage of the phrase, thus far employed in the New Testament. And can we believe it possible that in this passage in Thessalonians the Holy Spirit uses the expression "the temple of God," with a totally different meaning from that which it bears in every other instance in the Gospels and Epistles? Is it credible that Paul in this place signifies the Jewish temple, when in every other use his language clearly means the body of the believer, or the Church of Christ? And this inquiry is especially pertinent when we remember that Paul, in the same Epistle to the Corinthians, wherein he five times calls the Church, individually and collectively, "the temple of God," has one clear reference to the Jewish Temple (1 Cor. 9:13), but in alluding to it employs a totally different term, simply to heiron, the word constantly used by Christ and his disciples of the Temple in Jerusalem.
If, now, we turn to the Revelation, we find this term three times employed: "Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God," (3:12); "And the temple of God was opened in heaven," (11:19). By general consent, these texts refer to the Church glorified, or the heavenly Jerusalem, and there need be no controversy about them. The other passage is the eleventh chapter, first verse: "Rise, measure the temple of God," etc. This, our critic considers, plainly points to the literal Temple at Jerusalem. But Alford holds that the naos tou Theou is here to be taken symbolically, and that so taken the words "can only bear one meaning, viz., the Church of the elect servants of God." With him agree the most eminent expositors of the Apocalypse, ancient and modern, from Mede to Elliot.
These citations exhaust the list of texts in which this inspired phrase occurs. Admit, if need be, that the last one is doubtful, and can, therefore, throw no certain light upon the significance of the others; then, excepting this as uncertain, the case would stand thus: First, that in applying the phrase naos tou Theou in 2 Thessalonians to the Jewish Temple, we give a name to that Temple which, in every other determinable instance in the New Testament, belongs to the Church of Christ, individual or corporate, on earth or in heaven; and, secondly in so applying language we give a name to the Temple at Jerusalem which the inspired writers of the New Testament, while making scores of allusions to that Temple, never in a single instance, apply to it. Undoubtedly the Jerusalem Temple was and is called "the temple of God," in popular phraseology; but we must interpret by the Spirit's language, not by the peoples language. And so interpreting, we contend that to apply this inspired phrase as our critic and those of his school do to the Hebrew Temple, is an instance of exegetical violence exactly like that of which they complain in those who take the Greek word for "leaven" uniformly meaning corruption in the New Testament, and make it signify, as used in the parable of Matthew 12:33, the gospel in its diffusion through society.
Thus we have measured "the temple" exegetically, as it stands before us in this Epistle to the Thessalonians, and it will be seen that we have not measured it "according to the measure of a man;" that we have not brought the passage to the test of current phraseology, but have tried it by the rule and the plummet of the Spirit's own words – words which are employed, we believe, with more than human accuracy.II. – THE ORIGIN OF THE "MAN OF SIN."
The first stage in the predicted development of the wicked one is that of apostasy. Speaking of the return of Christ, Paul says, "For the day will not come except there come a falling away first." The Greek word for falling away is He apostasia – the apostasy. The word is very clear in its meaning, and, as used in Scripture, invariably signifies a spiritual defection. The exact noun is employed once in the New Testament, Acts 21:21, where Paul is charged with teaching the Jews apostasy from Moses by abandoning circumcision. It would [R639 : page 4] be impossible to find a word to describe more accurately the beginnings of the Papacy, which consisted in a forsaking of the simple faith and worship of primitive Christianity for Jewish rites and Pagan ceremonies. In 1 Tim. 4:1 we have the same words in its verb form: "But the Spirit saith expressly, that in later times some shall fall away from the faith" (R.V.) This refers not to the very last times, but "to the times subsequent to those in which the Apostle was writing." (See Alford.)
And when we note the salient features of this predicted falling away – "giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats," etc. – [R639 : page 5] it requires no stretch of ingenuity to discover in them the great outlines of the Roman apostasy. And remembering that "the apostasy" is antecedent to the revelation of the "man of sin," preparing his way, and furnishing the condition out of which he emerges, we feel sure that we are on the right trail in finding the realization of this in the early corruption of the Apostolic faith. No blatant infidelity assailing the Church from without, no development of Jewish Antichristianism, can at all answer to the language. It is evidently a spiritual defection, the germs of which were already planting in secret, and which in later times were to appear in a manifest lapse from the faith. Thus, as a rigid verbal examination of the prophecy gives us the Church of Christ as the seat of the "man of sin," so the same method points, we believe, unerringly, to the Church of Christ as the place of his origin and development. Let us consider further: –III. – THE PERSON OF THE "MAN OF SIN."
As before, we search the Scriptures to learn what use the Spirit has elsewhere made of this phrase, and we find it employed in only a single other instance – John 17:12, where it is applied to Judas Iscariot. But how suggestive again of the character of an apostate, for which we have already been led to look! Judas was a minister of Christ before he became revealed as the "son of perdition." He was not an infidel, denying Christ, but an apostle confessing Christ, to the very end. He communed at his table while meditating his betrayal; he saluted him with "Hail, Master," just at the moment he gave him the traitorous kiss. It is not atheism, but hypocrisy, not the open iniquity that reviles the Lord, but the mystery of iniquity that confesses him while betraying him, which we find in this typical person, whom the Holy Spirit sets before us to describe the predicted "man of sin." We said that he was an apostle; we may add – what may startle the English reader of the New Testament – that he was a bishop. For not only does Peter say in the first chapter of the Acts, that "he was numbered with us, and had obtained part in this ministry," and that one must be chosen "to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas fell," but he quotes the words, "which the Holy Spirit by the mouth of David spake concerning Judas" – "His bishopric let another take." Now, here is wisdom in a mystery. For who does not know that the apostasy – the one before which all others in the history of the Church pale into insignificance – appeared when the Bishop of Rome and his successors began to betray Christ while professing to serve him, perverting his doctrines and ordinances by mixing them with Pagan and Jewish corruptions, while yet formulating and defending much of pure orthodoxy. It was not the apostasy of open denial, but of false profession – exactly that which Paul warns against when setting forth the duties of a bishop, in his epistle to Titus, admonishing him of such as "give heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men that turn from the truth, who profess that they know God, but in their works deny him."
Was Judas grasping for the temporal power of Christ in delivering him up, as so many have conjectured in explaining his conduct? Did he hope thus to bring on a crisis, and force the Lord to assert his kingship, and set up those thrones which he has promised to his disciples, as sharers with him in his reign? Here we have no intimation of Scripture, and can therefore express no opinion. But remembering that Satan has now entered into Judas, and that he was acting under his inspiration, this would not be an improbable conjecture: for this was exactly the temptation which the Devil set before Christ as he was entering upon his public ministry – the temptation to prematurely grasp his temporal power. "The Devil taketh Him into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and he said unto Him, All these things will I give thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me." These kingdoms were Christ's by the Father's promise, but not yet. There must first be the cross, and the rejection by the world.
"The sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow," is the divine order both for the Lord and for his mystical body. "Fear not, little flock," he says; "it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." But to be content to be a little flock in this dispensation, waiting the Father's good pleasure to give us the kingdom in the next, to accept our present calling of preaching the gospel, in order to gather out "a people for his name," and patiently to wait till the Millennium for the universal conquest of the gospel – this has ever been the severest test of the Church's faith. And the constant problem has been to find some way of breaking over the bounds of this divine election. The Ritualist, by his sacrament, would bring all into the Church, without regard to a regenerated heart; the Broad Churchman, by a godless catholicity, would include the Greek and Roman apostacies, the Rationalistic schools, and the Brahma Somaj in one comprehensive Church; and the Evangelical, by his sincere assurance of "the conversion of the world," would prove by his computations that only a brief time is required before every one will become Christian under the preaching of the Gospel. What are all these theories but an unconscious grasping after a present universal dominion and glory for the Church?
Now, when "the Prince of this world" offered all the kingdoms of the earth to Christ, he declined the gift. Instead of receiving a present throne by yielding to the Evil One, He accepted a present cross and a present rejection, by yielding to his Father. But what the son of man refused, the Roman bishop, a few centuries after, accepted from the "princes of this world" and from "the Prince of this world." At the price of the spiritual chastity of the Church, he received the temporal power of the kings of the earth, and that shout of triumph, which belongs only to the Redeemer in his millennial glory, was taken by the apostate Bishop of Rome as early as the third century – "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ." This we believe to be the wicked one of whom Judas was the prototype – a bishop who, while communing with Christ, is consorting with the rulers of this world, enriching himself with their silver and gold at the price of crucifying the Son of God afresh, and putting him to an open shame.– The Watchword.
It is now eighteen months since we proposed six pointed doctrinal questions to three contemporaries who were teaching that Jesus was not our substitute in his death. We claimed that they used the scriptural words, "Ransom," "Redeem," "Bought with a price," etc., unfairly, and put upon them a private interpretation calculated to mislead some who were not well acquainted with the true meaning of these English words, or the Greek words which they translate. We suggested then that the full answer of these six questions would show to all just what our contemporaries did believe on the subject.
One of these journals stated that the questions would be answered in due time, but has not yet answered them. Another (The Millenarian) proposed to answer in a year these questions, which a babe in Christ should be able to answer pointedly and scripturally at once and in brief space; and it has now completed the work, we presume, to its own satisfaction.
The third contemporary contented itself with quoting extracts from the answers of the second. And from the fact that it now seldom uses those texts which mention Ransom, etc., and throws discredit upon the inspiration of all the statements of the New Testament, we infer that it would no longer consider it necessary to answer, or to attempt to harmonize any of these with other New Testament statements. This we certainly think the more reasonable method of dealing with the subject. Either give words their proper import, or deny that they are inspired, and thereby take from them all weight by claiming that the writers of these scriptures had mistaken ideas on the value of Jesus' death.
"When this question is viewed from a physical standpoint, and we see Jesus exposed to crucifixion upon the cross, we are ready to decide at once that his [physical] system was not such as could long survive – death was inevitable. This evidently was the case with Jesus; as much so as it would have been by any other human being, or as it was the case with those crucified with him."
"It is claimed that Jesus had a life free from the penalty of death;...that he could have resisted death with success, but gave his life for his brethren in this sense."[All italics are ours.]
This shows that the writer appreciated the question at issue. It also shows that he was "ready at once to decide" with the Jews on the outward appearances and AGAINST the testimony of Jesus' words; for Jesus declared: "I lay down my life;...No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself." (John 10:17,18.)
"The great object of our Lord's mission was to teach the doctrine of a resurrection.... See the necessity of his own death and resurrection as a proof of his doctrine." "The great object of the mission and death of Christ being to give the fullest PROOF OF A FUTURE LIFE of retribution, in order to supply the strongest motives to virtue."
That Jesus' resurrection confirmed the promise of the resurrection of all, is true, but that the "object" of his death was to prove to mankind the possibility of a future life, is not true, and can find not one text of Scripture to support it. The incongruity of such a view must be apparent to all thinkers. If that was the object, does it not suggest a great waste of effort on God's part? That result could have been as fully accomplished by raising one of the Patriarchs or Prophets from the dead. Could not they, indeed, have served such an object even better, in that they would have presented the "proof" of a future life to millions who died before Jesus came.
"Hence the peculiar propriety of the Divine appointment explained by St. Paul (1 Cor. 15:21) That since by man came death by man should also come the resurrection of the dead."
There can be no question that such a Scripture used as a proof that Jesus died to illustrate the resurrection doctrine is very "peculiar"; so much so, that we cannot see how any reasonable mind could so use it. If Jesus merely gave proof of the possibility of a resurrection, then Paul would be made to mean that Adam merely proved the possibility of death. It would suit the theory of our contemporary if Paul had said, Since by man death was proved, by man also the resurrection was proved.
What the Apostle declares, is, that by a man came death, not an illustration of it, and that by a man came resurrection – not an illustration of it, in one case more than the other. In our opinion that is a miserable theory which in sustaining itself, so blinds the intellect, that the meaning of so plain a Scripture could not be discerned; or else in spite of intellect and reason, would prostitute Scripture and distort the truth.
Is it not very "peculiar," too, that all the sacrificial types which pointed to Christ's work, pointed to and illustrated his death, and in no way illustrated his resurrection? Truly this is "peculiar," if this writer's theory is correct, that the very object of Jesus' coming was to illustrate and "prove" a resurrection. Does this writer conclude that Jehovah was ignorant of the "object" and caused typical shadows to be made which illustrated the wrong thing? We suggest that he go slower, and learn from Bible statements and illustrations, that Jesus "made his soul an offering for sin," and "died for OUR SINS."
"That Jesus did not die in the room and in the stead of humanity, or in his death become a substitute for humanity in any sense, appears to us, in the light of observation and reason, to be a self-evident proposition. But in the minds of some the question may arise, why not upon this point appeal simply to Scripture and to Scriptural language instead of to reason and observation?
Our reply is that we are in doubt of the meaning of certain texts, and to reason and observation we must appeal to learn what they do signify. For instance, when it is said that "He bore our sins in his own body on the tree," (1 Pet. 2:24,) are we to learn that our sins legally and literally were transferred from us to him as is generally supposed? Or are we to learn that as a son and as a descendant of Adam he bore our sinful nature – the Adamic nature – upon the tree?"
Upon the above we offer no comment, but remind our readers of an article in the January, '84, TOWER, under the caption, "HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES, AND BARE OUR SICKNESSES."
In replying to the third question of the series, "How did Jesus put away sin by the sacrifice of himself?" (Heb. 9:26), our contemporary says:
This position [of Z.W.T.] assumes that for, or on account of Adam's transgression, all humanity rests under death. This we consider, without any argument, accepting at once its claims. This position assumes further, which we believe to be correct, that this death is not the mere act of dying,...but the state of death, as the penalty upon Adam reads: "Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return." Then the text under consideration contemplates the putting away of this condition. But...how is this state of death put away, "borne away," or "blotted out?" and "to this work, what relation does the sacrifice of Jesus sustain? (Heb. 9:26).
To the first question no other reply can be made, than that it must be brought about by a resurrection from the dead. To the second question – ...The sacrifice of Jesus was not commercial, was not representative, but moral; therefore it was only a pattern to which persons or the world must conform."
"Peter wrote of this work as the blotting out of sins....He did not here refer to the blotting out or putting away of the act of sin, or the fact of sin,...but to the penalty of sin –the death state."
In the above, mark well how the writer mis-states the question in order to prepare for the answer he wishes to force upon it. After pointing out the consequence of sin to be death, and in this agreeing with us and with Scripture, he attempts to exchange in the mind of his reader the consequence for the sin which produced it, by saying as above, "Then the text under consideration contemplates the putting away of this condition [death.] But how is this state of death put away, &c.?"
This text says nothing about putting away death, not a word; it treats of "putting away sin." Of course, when sin is put away or blotted out, its consequence, death, will be removed, as shown in OTHER Scriptures; but to remove the consequence of sin would not be the putting away or removal of the sin which produced those consequences. To illustrate: A man condemned as guilty, is imprisoned. If his penalty be paid, his guilt atoned for, he may go free as a consequence; but the settlement of his guilt and the freeing in consequence are entirely distinct: for suppose he were to gain his freedom while still guilty, would he not be liable to reimprisonment? So, with the Great Judge. His "condemnation passed upon all men" – all are guilty, and all are under the penalty of that guilt – death. But should any be released from the penalty of sin without their guilt being canceled, they surely would be liable again to the penalty, if justice could reach them. However none could possibly escape. But "thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift" – "The Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world" – for Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and "gave himself a ransom for all." Thus our release is permanent and final, because it is legally accomplished by the cancelling beforehand of our guilt. In a word, the release from death the penalty, is a CONSEQUENCE of the release from guilt which caused it.
Our contemporary having wrested this Scripture to mean what it does not say, proceeds to use it in its distorted form, saying, "How is this state of death [R640 : page 6] put away?" "To this work what relation does the sacrifice of Jesus sustain?"
But even if its mis-statement of the question were considered, it would demolish his answer; for if the sacrifice of Jesus "was only a pattern to which persons of the world MUST conform," then one of two conclusions must be true: – either all "persons" who lived before the pattern was made, are lost in death forever, or else the sacrifice of Jesus as a pattern was entirely unnecessary.
We now come to the question answered last in the Millenarian, and with which it concludes its answer to the series. The question is number five in the list, viz: – In what way was Jesus "a propitiation for our sins"? (1 Jno. 2:2 and 4:10.)
We are at a loss for fitting words whereby to express our righteous indignation at the shameful deception attempted [R641 : page 6] in the answer of this question. We say attempted, because we hope that at least some of the readers of that journal were sufficiently critical to notice it.
The Greek word hilasterion rendered "propitiation" in Rom. 3:25, is not a good translation. It should rather have been rendered Propitiatory. It signifies The COVERING on which propitiation is accomplished.
This Greek word occurs but one other time (Heb. 9:5) and is there more correctly translated "Mercy Seat," and refers to the golden lid which covered the Law, in the Ark, in the Tabernacle of the wilderness, (Ex. 26:34,) which was the propitiatory covering, in type – that on which satisfaction was presented to God, and where, as a consequence, mercy was dispensed. Really, however, the word signifies no more a mercy-seat than a justice-seat; it was both. We here quote both the texts in which this word hilasterion occurs, from Rotherham's translation.
"The ark of the covenant covered around on every side with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and the rod of Aaron that sprouted, and the tables of the covenant [Law]; but over-above it the cherubim of glory overshadowing the propitiatory." (Heb. 9:5.)
"Whom [Jesus] God set forth as a propitiatory – covering through faith in his BLOOD." (Rom. 3:25.)
In a foot-note to the last quotation of Scripture, Rotherham says: "This complex idea we get partly from the word hilasterion itself, partly (as used in the Septuagint) from its association in Hebrew legislation. The mind of an Israelite would be carried back to the central word Kopher: the living, covered, shielded, saved by the dying. Substitution is there [i.e., suggested in the word]; appropriation also, and acquittal – all emanating from the propitiousness of Jehovah."
Our question contained words from 1 Jno. 2:2 and 4:10, which were in quotation marks. "A propitiation [satisfaction] for our sins," and our contemporary started out with the correct words. But after a roundabout reference to popular opinions, he befogs his readers by saying of propitiation:
Thus in a manner well calculated to mislead the unsuspecting, the writer starts out to discuss Rom. 3:25, saying: –
And does the writer omit entirely the statement of the different Greek words in the two other places that the word "propitiation" occurs – the very text which he pretends to be answering? He does; and the only reference to them is at the close of the article, where he says:
And he does not write of THEM at all. What perfidity is this, what deception and misleading, to attempt to confuse the English reader who has no knowledge of the Greek, by AN explanation of one word as a sample of a totally different one, and then, to make the deception complete, adding, "this prepares us for an easy comprehension of the other occurrences." Such treatment of Scripture is worthy of the Church of Rome. All should be on their guard against a theory which needs to resort to such false statements for support.
It is truly wonderful – the lengths to which men will go in support of this false doctrine – denying that the Lord bought them (2 Pet. 2:1.)
From what we have above shown of the real meaning of these two words hilasmos and hilasterion, we trust that all may clearly see that Jesus was our "hilasterion" or propitiatory covering (Rom. 3:25); that is to say, he is set forth by Jehovah as the expression of his propitiousness (his favor) in the forgiveness or covering of sins through faith in his blood – faith in his sin-offering.
And in order to be thus set forth as the one through which Jehovah's propitiousness is shown, it was necessary that he should first become our "hilasmos," our substitute, the satisfaction for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
In a word, then, "hilasmos" refers to that part of Jesus' work which is finished, (the sacrifice of himself,) while "hilasterion" refers to that work which results from the sacrifice. He now and ever will be the personal centre through and from whom, Jehovah's favor will be obtainable, because he became the [hilasmos] propitiation or satisfaction for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. [R641 : page 6]
It will be remembered that when two months after our questions were suggested, no answers were offered by our contemporaries, we answered them for them, from what we believed to be their standpoint. It was then, however, thought by some that we did not fairly represent their views. So now we repeat our answers FOR THEM, putting them side by side with our gleanings from the only one of the number which even attempted an answer. We hope you will carefully compare. We believe in a few words we did fully and fairly represent their ideas on this subject. We quote from our issue of April, 1883:
|Question||The Millenarian||Zion's Watch Tower|
|(1) Why did Jesus die?||Their answer: Because he was an imperfect man, and hence as liable to death as any other member of the Adamic race, and death passed upon all." (See Rom. 5:12.)||We object and answer, that no cause of death was in him – "in him was life" and not death. In him was no sin, hence on him the punishment of sin – death – could have no power. His death was a free-will sacrifice as our redemption price. He could have sustained life as a perfect and sinless man forever, but he "gave his life a ransom for many."
Paul substantiates our position, saying:
|(2) "How does Jesus' death affect our sins?"||Their answer: It has no direct effect upon our sins. We die for our own sins and thus pay our own penalty. Jesus died for himself and thus paid for his imperfection (which they do not care to openly call sin.) The indirect effect of his death was, that he furnished us an example, or illustration of fortitude and endurance, etc., and thus his death was valuable to us only as an example of how we should suffer and die for truth and right.||We object and answer, that while it is true that Jesus' life and death were valuable examples, yet they were more – much more than this, or else scores of Scriptures are meaningless and false. The prophets, who, because of their witness for and loyalty to truth, were sawn asunder, stoned to death, etc., and the Apostles, who were crucified and beheaded, etc., these all were valiant for truth, and full of faith, and are all good examples, and are so recognized in Scripture (Phil. 3:17). But where is it claimed that by their examples they redeemed or ransomed or bought us with their blood?
The penalty of our sin was death, and we could never have been freed from that great prison-house – we could never have had a resurrection to life had not some one done more than set us an example. The question would still be, "Oh, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" And the answer points out only the one able to deliver from the condemnation of death. "Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." "For to this end Christ both died, rose and revived that he might be Lord [Master – or have authority over] the living and the dead" (1 Cor. 15:57 and Rom. 14:9). We answer this question then: HE BARE OUR SINS in his own body on the tree" (1 Pet. 2:24).
|(3) How did Jesus put away sin by the sacrifice of himself?||Their answer: – By his example and teaching he taught men to put away sin for themselves, and thus, in a sense, it might be said that he put the sin away.||We object, that Moses and the prophets had taught men to abstain from sin; hence, if Jesus put away sin only by precept and example, he did no more than others. And, if it is true, that "In him was no sin," how could he be an example of how to put away what he did not have? But note, the question is a quotation from Paul (Heb. 9:26), and it reads that he put away sin, not by precept and example of his life, but "by the sacrifice of himself." Read the connections, and try to view the matter from the Apostle's inspired standpoint, and unless you think, as one of these contemporaries does, that Paul often [R642 : page 6] made mistakes and misquotations, you should be convinced of his meaning when penning these words.
Remember, too, that when Moses, as a type of Jesus, taught men to abstain from sin, he, too, did more – he typically made a sin offering – a sacrifice for sin. And the antitype not only taught purity, but did more – made himself a sacrifice for sin – the true sacrifice – "The Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world."
|(4) In what way did he give "himself a ransom (Greek, antilutron – an equivalent or corresponding price) for all"?||To this question they can give no answer except by denying the meaning of the word, which any one may see, by reference to Young's concordance.||The significance of the original is very pointed. Jesus not only gave a price for the ransom of the Adamic race, but Paul says he gave an equivalent price. A perfect man had sinned and forfeited all right to life; Jesus, another perfect man, bought back those forfeited rights by giving his unforfeited human existence a ransom – an equivalent price. Read now Paul's argument (Rom. 5:18,19): "Therefore, as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so, by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous."|
|(5) In what way was he "a propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins?||This is another question which they cannot answer. They would like to declare that he was not a satisfaction in this sense, or not a satisfaction in that sense, or not a satisfaction in some other sense; but the question, "In what sense was he a "satisfaction for our sins?" they cannot answer.||[See above that the Millenarian did not answer this text, but attempted to mislead its readers by substituting another.]
We answer, that this text is in perfect harmony with all Scripture. The Law of life (obedience) was broken by Adam, and both he and his posterity were condemned as unfit for life. Jesus became our ransom by paying our death penalty, and thus justifying us to life, which in due time comes to all, to be again either accepted or rejected. Yes, we are glad that the claims of the Law upon our race were fully satisfied by our Redeemer.
|(6) In what sense were we "bought with a price?"||Their answer: Bought is not a good word; it conveys too much of the "commercial idea"; they would say, rather, Ye were taken, etc.||We object; by such false reasonings the Word of God would be robbed of all its meaning. Words are useless unless they carry some idea. What other meaning is there in the word "bought" than the "commercial idea"? It has no other meaning or idea in it. But Paul was a lawyer, and his teachings, more than any other Apostle's, are hard to twist; and in this instance he guards well his statement, by saying, not only that we were "bought," but he says it was with a price;" and then, lest some one should claim that the price was the ministry and teachings of Jesus, Peter is caused to guard it by adding – "With the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot." (1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Pet. 1:19.)|
In conclusion, let us say in a few words, what they do think of the value and preciousness of the death of Christ. They believe and have privately expressed, and it is the covered import of their public teachings, which they do not yet wish to state boldly – not until they get false premises and conclusions engrafted first, as a basis on which to place it, – that Jesus' death no more paid your ransom price than did Paul's or than my death would; nay, put it stronger, that his death was of no value in redeeming us.
The doctrine of the substitution of Jesus, in settlement of the sinner's guilt and punishment, is being scoffed at among the "great preachers"; and the doctrine, so plainly taught by the Apostles, that the death of Jesus was the price of our release from death, is falling into discredit and disrepute among the "worldly great," and hence also among some who would like to be of that class.
The reason of this is evident: it is the story of the two extremes over again. Satan had engrafted on the Church the doctrine of eternal torment, and, to be consistent, led on to the thought that Jesus bore eternal torment for every man. This involved eternity of suffering by Jesus. This evidently was untrue; so it was explained, that when in Gethsemane and at Calvary, Jesus suffered as much agony in a few hours as all humanity would have suffered in an eternity of torture. Now, it does not take a very smart man to see that something is surely wrong in such a view of Jesus' substitution. [Either the penalty of sin is not eternal torture, or else Jesus was not man's substitute. One or the other is wrong, for Jesus is not suffering eternal torment.] It seems to be Satan's policy now to lead to the opposite extreme and deny substitution entirely.
Instead of casting away Satan's libel on our Heavenly Father's government – the doctrine of eternal torment – most men seem to hold on to it, and roll it as a sweet morsel under their tongues, and discard the teachings of the Apostles relative to Jesus' death being our ransom price – the price or substitute for our forfeited lives.
Would that all might see the beauties and harmonies of God's Word. Man condemned to death – extinction; Jesus, man's substitute or ransom, died for our sins and thus redeemed or bought us back to life, which redemption will be accomplished by a resurrection to life. Jesus, as a man, is dead eternally; his humanity stayed in death as our ransom, and he arose a new creature – a spiritual [R642 : page 7] instead of a human being – put to death in the flesh, but quickened (made alive) in spirit. "Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him (so) no more."
Beloved, let us stand firm on the foundation of all hope – the ransom – and now, when the enemy comes in like a flood, be not afraid to act and speak for truth boldly if you would be recognized by him who lifts up a standard for the people. (Isa. 59:19.)
We ask now the question: Did we answer correctly for them, or are they able to answer these questions in as few words differently? Or can they object to our answers, and taking each up singly, can they show that it is not their view plainly stated, so that all may understand?
But we must remember that one of our contemporaries, "The World's Hope," though it has never yet answered these questions as it proposed to do "in due time," claimed that in the above we had not presented its view fairly. On that account we published an article in which we made extracts from its columns, and answered them, showing that it either used words in an improper sense, or else denied its own teachings. As we are repeating the answers, we repeat, in the article below, our criticism of its denial, that our answers may be seen to be entirely fair and applicable; and further, because the subject increases in importance as we see that in these closing hours of the Gospel age, our adversary is using every effort to remove the faith of God's children from the rock foundation – the only foundation upon which any faith-building can stand, without destruction, the storms of this Day of the Lord.
The "World's Hope" is at hand, and complains that we misstated its teachings. It finds it easier to cry "unfair" than to answer a few pointed questions regarding the very fundamental principles of Christianity, which we presented as a test of its faith or unbelief in the death of Jesus as the ransom for our guilt and penalty. Our contemporary, if it still belongs to the household of faith, seems to have forgotten the exhortation of the Apostle to be able to give a reason for the hope that is in it, with meekness. Whether it has forgotten this injunction, or had no reasons to give, or was not able to give them, we are yet in doubt; for instead of offering even now an answer to the questions, which would have set at rest all "mis-representation," and what it terms "unfair" statement, it raises a dust of mixed and confusing statements, some of which we quote below.
We are sincerely glad to note, however, that even though it be under great pressure, yet it seems to be getting nearer the truth on the subject of ransom, bought, etc., and seems reluctantly to admit now that Jesus was man's representative IN DEATH, which is just what we claim in the fullest sense. It says: "Let the full light of His representative relation to the race be seen, and it all becomes plain. If He STOOD FOR – or was reckoned to be the world of mankind – then the sin, all the sin of the world, must have been on Him." And again, "That Christ was thus made the sin-bearer is shown by many Scriptures; and, in order to bear the sins of the world, he had to become the world – the man."
We are glad to note this approach toward a full confession of truth, and pray that it may go on. At the same time we must criticize a little, and say that the expression relative to Jesus becoming the world is certainly very ambiguous. We, and doubtless most of its readers, will understand this to mean that Jesus was a representative, substitute, or ransom for all the world. But if our contemporary meant this, why did it not state itself plainly? We wonder if it has anything to hide under this ambiguous expression, or, if it did not like to use words so nearly the expression of the TOWER, which it seems to regard as an enemy, which it is not. Like Paul, when such momentous questions are in dispute, we must, for the good and safety of each other, and all the flock, use great "plainness of speech." Let us remember, that without a childlike and humble spirit we are not well pleasing to our Father, and that the spirit of truth is to acknowledge an error if we find that we had fallen into one.
Again, it says: "A most clear prophecy of this sin-bearing relation of Christ to us, is given in Isa. 53. "Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: ...He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we (sinners, 'every man,' Heb. 2:9) like sheep have gone astray: we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." This Scripture is surely in fullest harmony with the thought of Jesus being our ransom, substitute or representative, in receiving for us the wages of our sins – death.
But, stop! we read further: Some "may think because we believe he is the World's Sin-bearer, that we are virtually maintaining the doctrine of Substitution – the punishing of the innocent instead of the guilty." Why, of course, we would – who could think otherwise? Does it fear that its readers will draw this legitimate conclusion? It seems so, for it continues: "But nothing is further from our thought if we understand the meaning of words or have any idea of justice. We place Representation AGAINST Substitution."
In the above quotations, we hoped we were getting at agreement, supposing it used the word representative the way other people use it; but now we are entirely lost as to its meaning, for, by its Dictionary, representation and substitution are opposites – or against each other in meaning.
If every writer should adopt a special meaning for his words, it would be useless to read at all, for the reader would never know what the writer meant. It is for this reason that people adopt some general standard by which to determine the meaning of words. We suggest Webster's Dictionary as a standard, and here give its definition of the words our contemporary understands to be opposites, or against each other in meaning, that all may see how very closely the words are related in meaning, and how far from opposites.
Now, we ask, what two words in the English language could more nearly mean the same thing? If our contemporary is so astray on this point, may it not be equally in error as to what constitutes a proper idea of Justice? Who can show that God was unjust in permitting Jesus to become man's substitute, ransom or representative, or that, in laying upon Jesus – the willing Ransom – the iniquity of us all, there was anything cruel, unkind or contrary to Justice or Love.
Again, arguing against Substitution, it says: "If the premises were correct, Christ, being the substitute for man, should not have been raised at all." We answer, that it is important to keep in mind the distinction between the man Christ Jesus who died, and the new creature Christ Jesus who was raised and ever lives. It was the man that was substituted for mankind, as Paul tells it: "Through a man (Adam) there is death, through a man also (Jesus) there is a resurrection of the dead." (1 Cor. 15:21 – Diaglott.)
Again, our contemporary says: "We admit that Jesus was not raised in the same, but in a much higher condition than that in which he lived before; but, to say that he was a substitute for man because he laid down a condition, and was then raised to a higher, is to make the condition and not Christ himself the substitute for man." We reply that this is just exactly the Scripture teaching and our claim, viz: That the pre-existent one who was in a spiritual – mighty – form, took upon him the form or CONDITION of a man – became a man – that he, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man. (Phil. 2:7,8.) In due time he gave that human condition (with all its rights) a RANSOM for all – as the price for all – and thus a right to perfect human conditions, was bought for every man. Now, did he in the resurrection take back again the human condition – human nature?
We answer, no. He was "put to death in the flesh – quickened in Spirit" (1 Pet. 3:18.) "Sown an animal body, raised a spiritual body." (1 Cor. 15:44 – Diaglott.) Hence our contemporary admits our position exactly, if the expression last quoted conveys its real meaning. We do not claim, and never have claimed, that Christ Jesus the new creature, the spiritual being, was our substitute, but the reverse; it was the man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom for all, and who, because of this work, was highly exalted by the Father to his present divine nature and excellent glory. (Phil. 2:8,9 – Diaglott.)
Does any one suggest that our last position, being true, proves that the leaving of the spiritual condition for the human condition was a death or a sacrifice also? We answer that Paul shows that the leaving of the previous condition and becoming a man was a part of the "humbling" connected with the sacrifice. But remember, that life was not given up or lost there, or "laid down" even for a moment, but was transferred to the Babe of Bethlehem; hence, that was not the sacrifice or death, but only an incidental preparation for death as a man. On the contrary, when he died – at Calvary – life was given up, lost, laid down completely, for he was dead three days – all existence was at an end – He gave "all that he had" (Matt. 13:44). After three days he received life as a new creature, as a "gift of God," as a reward of obedience; but he took it not again under human nature or CONDITION, and never can do so. For if he were to take that back, it would be taking back the price, with which he bought us.
From some of the foregoing quotations it will be seen that our contemporary is either really, or seemingly, again approaching the truth on this very important doctrine, and we would not, in the slightest, hinder the work of reformation, but rather bid it God-speed, and welcome back again to the sure foundation him who, in times past, was a true "yoke-fellow." But, true reformation should be accompanied by repentance and a very plain, correct restatement of things misstated.
It will be seen by the following quotations from our contemporary's January issue, page 59, that, referring to the sacrifice which atones for our sins and reconciles to God, it teaches that by the destruction of sin by each individual in himself, each thus RECONCILES himself to God by the destruction of the enmity [sin, or curse] in himself. Each sinner thus reaching a condition of at-one-ment with God, instead of, as Paul states it: We were reconciled to God by the death of His Son – while we were yet sinners (Rom. 5:10.) We quote:
"The shedding of the blood of the beast represented the killing of the life principle of the lower nature – the enmity, the carnal mind, the will of the flesh – and was required, because nothing but the complete RECONCILIATION, which the destruction of the enmity involves, could satisfy law or justice and yet save the man." Again: "As the carnal mind cannot be subject to God's law, (Rom. 8:7), ITS destruction is a necessity to man's salvation, so this killing sacrifice is the RECONCILING ACT." If this does not directly deny, it does entirely ignore the reconciling act mentioned in Scripture, viz.: "While we were sinners, we were reconciled to God by the DEATH OF HIS SON." Again, it says: "What the Law could not do, – set man right – the GOSPEL of Christ accomplishes."
Here is just the point. It claims that man's salvation is a moral reformation, hence, whatever leads men to reform, saves. We claim, on the contrary, that before reformation could be of any value to men, they must be redeemed, ransomed, bought. The Adamic sin must be canceled, and the condemnation too, and death must be lifted by the sacrifice of man's ransom, substitute, or representative – the man Christ Jesus. Then comes the gospel – the good news – that man is ransomed, and it is the love of God thus manifested in our redemption which leadeth men to repentance and reformation. Yea, the gospel is that which Paul preached, saying: "I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received [first of all], how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures." (1 Cor. 15:3.)
These quotations, we think, can be construed only as we did construe them in our article – "WE ANSWER FOR THEM." However, we will say this: If our contemporary does attach a proper weight to the death of Jesus as our ransom, it is not well expressed in the above quotations from its columns; and we further suggest, that it can set at rest the entire question by clear and straightforward answers to the six questions. Let the truth be known.
MESSRS. PUTNAM'S SONS, of New York, have published "The Sacred Scriptures of the World," in which the author omits what he calls "objectionable" and "unnecessary" parts of the Bible, retaining such as are worthy of use for devotional and practical purposes. His alterations are bold enough. Thus, instead of "A man is not justified by the works of the law," he puts, "A man is not justified by formalistic piety." "Without shedding of blood there is no remission," gives place to "Without the life completely consecrated there is no remission." The expurgated Bible is said to be "designed for common use in pulpits and Sunday schools and homes," but it is not likely to be accepted. The author is the Rev. M. K. Schermerhorn.
The late Dr. Maitland, in an ingenious essay on impediments to the right understanding of the Scripture, introduces a man of business, who, with a sort of self-satisfaction, apologizes for his own shortcomings thus: "I am a plain Christian, worried with the cares of my business and family, and glad to catch half an hour to read my Bible. I must make the most of it. I must employ the little leisure I can match at intervals in devotional reading, and my object must be my own edification."
The reply made to him is: "To be sure you must read for your edification, but what is the distinction which you seem to draw between reading for your edification and reading with a view to learn all that God offers to teach?"
He answers: "Why, I mean that I must read the Scriptures with application to myself, to my own circumstances, to my own soul. If I come to a part which I do not understand, I have not time and learning to investigate its meaning; and when I attempt it I often find that the time which should have been employed in devotion has been wasted in turning over commentators, from whom, after all, I get, perhaps, no satisfaction as to the real meaning of the passage, though some of the more pious and practical among them may assist me in applying it to myself. Now, if I do not thus derive a personal application to myself, what use is there in my reading such a portion of Scripture at all?"
"The rejoinder which follows – and it [R644 : page 8] expresses the one great lesson we are anxious to impress – is this: "To speak plainly, I do not know that with your ideas there is much use in your reading such a part of Scripture, because, as soon as you have found that you cannot understand it, or make it apply to yourself as it stands, you set to work to make some meaning, which you do not yourself believe to be the real meaning, and to fetch out some doctrine or precept which the text does not contain; and this habit is so prejudicial that I believe it would be better for you only to read such parts as you cannot doubt do really apply to your own circumstances. It is not likely that you will reap any benefit from reading the rest of the Scriptures sufficient to counterbalance the injury which must arise from the habit of setting aside all inquiry as to the real meaning of the Word of God, and fancying that any imaginations of your own are more profitable than the mind of the Spirit."
If this method of treating Scripture, so graphically described, be common, and we fear it is, we may cease to wonder that so much of God's Word is unintelligible to the general reader. Any book, thus handled, must necessarily become so; for, the moment we allow ourselves to read with any other aim than to understand the meaning of the writer, we darken that which is before us so thoroughly that it is all but hopeless to expect it can ever become clear.
In reading Scripture, we are bound, and that most emphatically – no less by reverence for its Author than by integrity of heart, – to ask but one question: "What does it say?" And if, to get this question answered, it is necessary to ascertain, not only what the precise words are, but when and to whom they were spoken, to observe the connection in which they stand, and to note the circumstances under which they were uttered, we must neither grudge the labor that may be involved, nor imagine that we can evade its necessity by indulging in our own fancies, however ingenious they may be, or by prolonging meditation, however devout. When the true meaning of a passage is made out, and not till then, shall we be able to apply it with simplicity of purpose, or receive and realize as living words that which has been written.
In doing this, a thoughtful and intelligent reader will gladly avail himself of such helps as he can obtain. The Bible always takes for granted that readers are possessed of common sense – that they will give the same kind and amount of attention to inspired statements that they are in the habit of bestowing on ordinary writings; and that they will read its communications continuously, and as a whole.
No one who has not tried the experiment can imagine what a flood of light falls upon a Pauline Epistle when it is read through at one sitting, with quickened attention to its scope and purpose. In no other way can we perceive its lights and shadows, its tone and perspective, or get above the one-sided interpretations which are continually thrust upon us. And that which is true of the Epistles is true also in relation to other parts of the Divine Record.
Instead of treating Scripture in this way – supplicating the Holy Spirit for a right state of heart, and in harmony with that supplication struggling manfully against the impulses of prejudice and pride – too many never read the Bible at all, excepting under the limitations of chapter and verse; and thus, for the most part, with an utter disregard of the connection subsisting between that which they peruse and that which they omit. Prayer for Divine light seems to such persons all that is required in order to arrive at truth, however idle, or uncandid, or bigoted they may be.
In relation to private reading of the Word, we say deliberately that, if we would be honest before God, if we would shrink from sacrificing a true thought, in order to gain thereby the use of mere words in favor of some doctrine or practice to which they were never intended to apply, we shall feel that nothing can justify the use of any portion of God's Word apart from the consideration of the context, or in a sense different from that which it bears in the portion of the record from which it is taken.
It is this carelessness about Truth in the application of Scripture that has made "the fathers," with all their eloquence and piety, such untrustworthy interpreters. It is this which compels us, in perusing their writings, to pause and doubt, since passing events, party interests or the hope of polemical triumphs were to them a continual excuse for the most outrageous violations of the original meaning of the inspired volume.
Hence it is that patristic writers so often support a great cause "in a spirit alien to its own," sometimes adopting arguments that are unchristian in their ultimate grounds; sometimes resting upon errors the refutation of errors; and sometimes drawing upon the armories of darkness for weapons that, to be durable, ought to have been of celestial temper; now, it may be, trespassing against affections which furnish to Christianity its moving powers; and now against truths which furnish to Christianity its guiding lights. On behalf of God, they often seem determined to be wiser than God; and in demonstration of spiritual power, they do not scruple to advance doctrines which the Scriptures have nowhere warranted. The issue of it all was – THE ROMISH APOSTACY.
Such is unquestionably the case when texts intended for one purpose, are applied to another; when warnings of temporal character are silently changed into threatenings of eternal woe; when promises of earthly good are transformed into predictions of spiritual blessing; and when Christ is supposed to be referred to in passages which clearly indicate that no such thought was in the mind of the inspired writer.
The habit of quoting passages of Scripture in ways which imply a meaning and application exceedingly remote from their genuine design, is not a trifling evil. It is pregnant with injuries to the cause of Scriptural knowledge and practical edification. It encourages among Christians a widely-prevailing practice of reading the Scriptures with little attention, and of applying detached passages in sentences entirely foreign to their proper meaning. [R645 : page 8]
Let the object we have in view be steadily kept in mind – the promotion of a more intelligent reading of Holy Scripture, by pointing out and seeking to remove the various hindrances, and it will be seen at once that the "accommodations of which we complain, whatever may be the intention of those who make and defend them, do really "darken counsel," and so far tend to destroy the Divine testimony. Read with the impressions produced by careless expositions, the Bible, instead of being felt to be, as it really is, the most interesting book ever penned, becomes to the reader dull, because made dark; and hard to understand because treated as if it were a mere collection of disjointed fragments, to be interpreted by the aid of devout fancy.
By the exaggeration of Scripture we understand the use of passages in a sense stronger than that they were originally intended to bear, whether such "adding to" the Divine Testimony – for it is nothing less – arise from mistranslation, from the erroneous interpretation of imagery, or from general misconception as to the limits under which any given statement is to be received.
The misfortune is that these exaggerations prevail most on subjects in relation to which it is of all others important that the exact line of Truth should not be overstepped; that they are often winked at, if not encouraged, from an undue anxiety to produce immediate and salutary impression; and that commonly all discussion in relation to them is deprecated, on the ground that, as men are already far too little affected by the evil of sin, and far too careless respecting its consequences, anything which seems to lessen the terribleness of disobedience, even though it should be by the removal of error, must be practically injurious.
The result, in accordance with that great law of retribution which operates as surely in religion as in everything else, is that at the present time Infidelity plants its foot on these very exaggerations as the first step to confirmed unbelief; insinuates that truth, both in books and sermons, is commonly sacrificed to effect; that things are not exactly as they are represented; and that the most alarming appeals may be divested of much of their power by a careful examination of the texts by which they are enforced. So true is it that exaggeration, whatever may be its immediate effect, invariably weakens the cause it is intended to support.
Therefore, we warn all honest students of Holy Scripture to "take heed how they read"; to beware of interpretations which, however popular, can neither be sustained by the scholar nor justified by the devout; to dread especially those forms of unbelief which disguise themselves under the robe of earnestness, but which are really nothing better than expressions of that want of faith in Scripture as it is which is the curse of the Church.
"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." – James 1:12.
For some years past we have been led to see by faith, with increasing clearness, the great reward promised to the overcoming Church of Christ. When first its glory began to dawn upon our minds, inspired by it, many of us said, Yes Lord, we will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. Soon we found that the way leads through opposition, persecution and great self-denial. But, nothing daunted, we said, Yes, we know it and are ready for it; esteeming the glory to follow as worthy of all it might cost.
Under the inspiration of a living faith in the glorious promises, it was comparatively easy to strike off the fetters that bound us to the former customs and ideas, and to take the first steps in the race set before us.
All this was well – a good start. Our hearts were light and buoyant; God's Word was full of a new and blessed import; our sky was all aglow with glorious promise, and we scarcely heeded the thorns that began sharply to prick our feet. But how is it to-day? Some have been one, two, five, or ten years in the narrow way. Has a reaction followed the glowing enthusiasm of your first love? As yet the glory does not appear, except to the eye of faith, but the way grows more and more narrow, the feeble flesh grows weary in the difficult journey, and temptations all around call us away from the course of sacrifice to present gratification.
To those thus tried and weary with the burden and heat of the day comes the encouraging assurance of the Apostle James: "Blessed is the man that endureth." Everything now depends upon your power of endurance. Can you hold out to the end? It is not so hard to run well for a day, a week, a month or a year; but when the years lengthen and the end is indefinite, here is the test of endurance, of faithfulness; but O! with what joy shall that one meet his Lord who has for a long time patiently endured.
These daily trials that you meet are your testing; you stand every moment before the judgment seat of Christ. Every little victory, as well as every great one, will be in your favor in the final decision, as to whether you are worthy or unworthy of the high position to which you are called. And when you are tried, when your trial is complete, you shall receive the promised crown of life.
That we may be strengthened for continued endurance, the Apostle directs our attention to the word of truth by which we first received this glorious hope, (v. 18,) adding, "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any man be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass; for he beholdeth himself and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth [to do so], he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed."
It is only by continual looking into God's word, and the continual putting in practice of that which we thus learn and keep fresh in mind, that we can hope to endure unto the end. If we keep continually looking and doing we will find that the same blessed hope will continually inspire fresh zeal in the way. It will strike its roots deep down in our hearts and its fruit will daily appear in our lives. "Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured." (Heb. 12:2.) "Faithful is he that calleth you who also will do it." (1 Thes. 5:24.)