The Editor recognizes a responsibility to the Master, relative to what shall appear in these columns, which he cannot and does not cast aside; yet he should not be understood as endorsing every expression of correspondents, or of articles selected from other periodicals.
Foreign Postage being higher, our terms to foreign subscribers will be 65 cents a year. Please send us no foreign money or postage stamps, as we can make no use of them. Remittances may be made by Foreign Postal Money Orders.
This paper will be sent free to any of the Lord's poor who will send a card yearly requesting it. Freely we have received and freely we would give the truth. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat – yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." And you that have it – "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently – and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness." – ISAIAH 55:1,2.
SOME one in P.O. employ has discovered that we often get letters containing money, and has been robbing us lately. The only SAFE way, therefore, will be for you to send by P.O. MONEY ORDERS, or REGISTERED LETTERS, or BANK DRAFTS. Please remember this.
Some time ago we published some charts suitable for hanging on the wall – about twenty-five inches long on rollers – otherwise a copy of the CHART OF THE AGES, found in FOOD FOR THINKING CHRISTIANS, page 105.
We know of no better method of studying the Plan of God, or explaining it to others, than by means of this chart. We have a few copies still on hand, and will furnish them free to any who are willing to pay Express charges on them.
This will include many of the LORD'S POOR LIST. We desire that the TOWER shall not go to those who are not interested in it, and feel sure that none are so poor that they cannot afford a postal card on which to accept of our proposal to put them on the Poor List for another year. Should we by mistake fail to send next month to any who have paid, or who have asked it free, please notify us promptly. Those ordering on FREE LIST will please state that they are the Lord's children and unable to pay. We do not wish to send it FREE to those who can but do not wish to pay.
WE work together, if far apart,
Hands in unison, heart to heart.
We work as having one common aim:
We work as bearing the same good name;
We dare not loiter, but still pursue
The work of the Master, with him in view.
"I will stand upon my watch, and fix my foot upon the Tower: and I will watch, to see what will be said to me, and what I may answer to him [the unbeliever] that reproveth me. And the Lord answered me [or gave me an answer for such] saying: Write the vision and make it plain upon tables that he that readeth it may run over it [be able to prove to himself its correctness.] For, as yet, the vision is for an appointed time, and it shall appear at the end, and shall not lie. If it [appear to] make any delay wait for it: for it shall surely come, and it shall not tarry." Habakuk, 2:1-3. – Douay Translation.
This command has been obeyed. By various means – Charts, Diagrams, Concordances and explanations the vision or revelation of God's word has been placed within the reach of the people; yet they are slow to believe that this Gospel age will ever pass away and give place to another; and they say as was foretold, "Where is the promise of His coming (presence)? for since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning." (2 Pet. 3:4.) This indicates that the class who when the end comes are in darkness concerning it, are unbelievers of God's testimony. This is also further stated by this same prophet (verse 3) "Behold, he that is unbelieving, his soul [understanding or mind] shall not be right in himself; [It will be because he is not right at heart,] but the just shall live in his faith [not slow to believe all that God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets.]
When we and others called attention in 1876 and 1877 to the presence of the Lord, and showed that it was taught by the revelations of God's word, we found few ready to believe our report, and many said, "Where is the promise of His presence?" The only answer we could then give them was, that they should examine the Scriptural evidences offered. But soon outward evidences appeared which corroborate the Scriptures: the railroad riots of 1878 came, and Socialism in Germany, Nihilism in Russia, and Communism in France, began to put on a bold front, and it became evident that the governments of the whole civilized world are resting on the very edge of a smoking volcano, which at any moment might burst forth and destroy them.
In their haste some supposed that all things concerning this day of the Lord, were to transpire immediately, but no, the apostle shows that its trouble will come like spasms, like great waves following each other, each bringing nearer the grand climax stated by the prophet: "I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations." (Hag. 2:22.)
These increasing spasms of trouble are referred to by the apostle under a striking illustration, when he says, it comes "As travail upon a woman," (1 Thes. 5:3, Psa. 48:6.) Indeed, the troubles of the day of the Lord are but the labor pains of the old, as the new dispensation is ushered into existence.
Just when men had almost forgotten the trouble of 1878 and Socialism, comes another pang – a semi-panic – but not as previous panics have been, severest on the poor, but the very opposite, severest on the rich; the millionaires are suffering now.
The prophet proceeds to describe this feature of the day of trouble, saying: "As wine deceiveth him that drinketh it, so shall the proud man be [deceived], and he shall not be honored who enlargeth his desire as the grave and is like DEATH, which cannot be satisfied though he [death] gather unto him all the nations and assemble unto him all the people." (Ver. 5.)
What a photograph of to-day: Once to be extremely wealthy was to be "honored," but we have reached the time mentioned by the prophet when such as have no limit to their greed for gain, but like the grave would endeavor to swallow all yet never be satisfied, "shall not be honored," but rather the reverse.
As knowledge increases throughout the world among the masses, they are coming not only to question the rights of kings, and to inquire how and why one man is supposed to be born with the right to command and rule another, his equal or superior in ability, but they are inquiring also, "How comes it that these millionaires roll in wealth which they not only cannot spend, but cannot even know how to stow away, while so many others, their intellectual, moral and physical equals, barely have life's necessities? Since money stands as the equivalent of service, and since the possessors of vast wealth have never rendered the world extraordinary service, the logical conclusion is that they accumulated the excess of their wealth dishonestly, i.e., without giving an equivalent service to the world for it.
This verdict of the people is expressed by the prophet also, (vs. 6,7,) "Shall not all these take up a parable against him and a dark speech concerning him? And it shall be said, Woe to him that heapeth together that which is not his own. How long also doth he load himself with thick clay? Shall they not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee; and they be stirred up that shall tear thee, and thou shalt be a spoil unto them?"
This calls to mind a New Testament prophecy which corresponds to the above: "Go to, now ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries which shall come upon you. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped have entered into the ears of the Lord of armies....Be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord." (James 5:1-8.)
This trouble upon the rich, it is expressly stated, will be among the events of the last days of this age; and not only so, but the apostle refers to it as taking place in the Day of the Lord – when he has come. And these circumstances now transpiring corroborate exactly the testimony of the Scripture – the vision "written and made plain upon tables," that we are now living (since 1875) in the beginning of the Day of the Lord.
All that is written of this day will not transpire at once, but each convulsive spasm will prepare for another until the climax is reached. The scriptural evidences of the Lord's presence were clear to some of us before these outward evidences commenced, and these only corroborate previous convictions, but as the Day of the Lord advances others who could not see it from the Scriptures will learn it from the transpiring events, until all – the rich men and the mighty men, and the poor men, the bondmen, and the free men, all, shall realize that "the great day of His wrath is come" and shall seek the protection of the great mountains (governments) and rocks (societies) to shield them from its trouble. (Rev. 6:15-17; Luke 23:30.)
Is it asked why the presence of the Prince of Peace should cause so much trouble? We answer that he is not only a peaceful governor, but a King of righteousness and there can be no true and lasting peace or happiness aside from principles of justice. In the establishment of his kingdom it is necessary to overthrow present kingdoms, because they are upheld by injustice and tyranny. For the same reason titles, and honors of birth, based upon fraud and injustice of the past ages, no less than the wealth and honor grasped dishonestly in our own day, must all fall under the condemnation of the new King who declares that the humble and lowly shall be exalted, and the proud and arrogant debased. During his reign, "the meek shall inherit the earth.
The present financial trouble among the rich is probably not yet ended, their weeping and howling will probably be yet greater, and it is not confined to this land alone, but seems to affect all the money centres of the world. Presently it will cease, to be succeeded by a still more severe trouble after another interval of rest.
Nor should we forget that the present prince, our Lord, is no more favorable to religious monopolies and boastful titles, etc., than to financial and political ones, and these shall no more than the others, escape destruction. The same proud and haughty spirit which leads the world to grasp titles and honor and to increase its wealth, has been and is leading the various sects of the nominal church; and the result to both is the same – "Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall." Let us not be deceived; it is the same spirit which boastfully says, Our denomination is building at the rate of one church a day and hopes soon to double this, which during the past month introduced into a conference for the election of Bishops, the trickery and wire-pulling of a political convention, in the endeavor of the various candidates to be greatest while making a show of In honor preferring one another.
Yes all these fraudulent earthly systems, each claiming to be the true church, shall lose the honor and prestige they so much covet. Their falsities and shams shall be disclosed in this day that shall try every man's work of what sort it is. It will be a blessed deliverance from a man-imposed yoke, to many of God's dear children who are now in these sects, and who are influenced and bound by [R622 : page 1] their theories and customs, mistaking the nominal churches of earth for the true church whose names are written in heaven, and whose law is the word of God and not of men.
Yes this liberty, religious, financial, and political, is what mankind needs and longs for. It is a precious boon, but the path by which it shall be gained is steep and thorny. The [R622 : page 2] overturning of present gigantic systems and monopolies, religious, financial, and political, by the new King in this His day, causes "a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation; no nor ever shall be. (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21.)
"Now the world is full of suffering,
Sounds of woe fall on our ears,
Sights of wretchedness and sorrow,
Fill our eyes with pitying tears.
"'Tis the earth's dark night of weeping,
Wrong and evil triumph now;
We can wait, for just before us
Beams the morning's roseate glow.
"We are waiting, hoping, praying,
For Messiah's glorious reign,
For we know He'll reign in justice,
Right and truth shall triumph then.
"Worldly pleasures cannot win us
While we wait for that bright day:
Worldly splendor cannot charm us,
While its light beams on our way."
Lest any should suppose the foregoing to be a forced construction of a portion of Habakkuk's prophecy, we here give below a general review of the preceding and succeeding context, which abundantly corroborates and emphasises the above. Our running comments are in brackets, and the translation is one gleaned from several authorities.
Chap. 1:2-4. "How long, O Lord, have I entreated, and thou wouldst not hear? How long shall I cry out unto thee because of violence, and thou wilt not save? Why hast thou shown me iniquity or grievance, and the robbery and violence that are before me? And there is a judgment, but oppression is more powerful. Therefore the law is powerless and justice cometh not forth victorious; for the wicked compasseth about the righteous: therefore doth justice come forth perverted."
[Certainly these words can well be applied to this "present evil world," when God seems to many to be indifferent as to whether good or evil succeeds, and permits evil to triumph, the godly to suffer persecution, and the wicked to flourish. In view of this, the prophet asks as the representative of all who love righteousness, "How long, O Lord," shall it be thus? When shall the present evil world give place to that wherein dwelleth righteousness?]
[The Lord answers the cry, declaring]: "Look ye about among the nations, and behold and be astonished and astounded, for I will fulfill a work in your days ye would not believe if it were only told you. [If you did not see some evidences you would consider the things impossibilities.] For lo, I will raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation [people], which shall march through the breadth of the land to possess the dwelling places that are not theirs (vs. 5,6). [The people who are to do the astounding work among the nations are here called Chaldeans, and represent, we believe, the masses of the peoples of earth who, under the names Communists, Nihilists, Socialists, etc., are organizing with the avowed intention of overturning present governments. Chaldeans is a fitting name. Literal Babylon was the capital city of literal Chaldea, a vast country, so symbolical Babylon reigns over the people of the civilized world, who, therefore, might in symbol be fitly termed the Chaldeans.]
"Swifter than leopards are their horses, and fiercer than the evening wolves; their horsemen spread themselves abroad, for their horsemen shall come from afar; they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat. They will all come for violence." [Horses represent doctrines in symbol, and horsemen teachers of those doctrines. The ferocity of the doctrines is here shown, and the rapidity with which they will spread, and the fact that the teachers of these doctrines will be foreigners.]
"Their faces will be set in opposition to the east." [The east is the direction of the sunrising, and here represents the dawn of the Millennial Day. Hence, the language here indicates that though these shall cause a measure of judgment to come upon evil institutions, yet they will not be in harmony with the true light, but in opposition to it; their mission is violence.] "And they gather the bounden ones as the sand."
"And they will make sport with kings and princes will be a play unto them: at every stronghold will they laugh, and they will cast up earth mounds and capture it. Then [by reason of their success] doth their spirit become arrogant and they are surpassingly proud, and offend, imputing this their power unto their God. [Not realizing that they have been used as the Lord's great army to overthrow oppression and to bring down the proud and to thresh the mountains (kingdoms), they shall boast themselves of the victory of Liberalism.]
"Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord, my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O Lord, thou hast ORDAINED THEM for judgment; and, O Protector, THOU hast appointed them to CORRECT NATIONS. [This is the confidence of the saints, as here expressed by the prophet.]
In the third chapter of this same prophecy the standpoint is changed, and the prophet rehearses the trouble coming upon the world during the day of the Lord, from the Lord's standpoint, showing whose power it is that shall really shake the kingdoms and bring in everlasting righteousness. Primarily reference is made to the marvelous display of God's power on behalf of Israel in their deliverance from Egypt, but we must not forget that Israel's deliverance from the darkness and bondage of Egypt into fruitful Canaan, was but an illustration of the world's deliverance, to be accomplished in the establishment of earth's new kingdom.
Chap. 3:2. "O Lord! I have heard thy fame, and was afraid: O Lord! thy work – in the midst of the years of sorrow [or time of trouble] revive thou it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy."
"God came from Teman, the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and of his praise the earth was full. His kingdom was like the sunlight; rays streamed forth out of his hand unto them, and there was the hiding [or secret] of his power." In truth, when realized properly, the Lord's coming and kingdom are blessings; for as the Sun of Righteousness he brings light and blessing and joy; when properly seen his every act (hands in symbol) sheds light and blessing. This is for a time kept secret and not recognized by men, though it is the object of his taking his great power.] Pestilence shall go before his face [moral pestilence shall flee, as darkness does when the sun rises] and burning coals went forth at his steps [dross and stubble shall be consumed as righteousness steps in.]
"He stood and measured [judged] the earth; He looked and melted the nations and the ancient mountains [governments] were crushed to pieces; there sunk the perpetual hills: his ways are everlasting. I saw the tents of Cushan [dwellings of darkness or blackness, symbolizing iniquity] in affliction: they trembled – the curtains [those who caused obscurity or darkness] in the land of Midian [strife].
"Thy bow was made quite bare; like severe rods of punishment goeth forth thy word. Selah: thou didst cleave [open] the rivers [truth-channels] of the earth"...."In indignation thou wilt tread the earth under foot; in thy wrath thou wilt astonish the nations. Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people: for salvation with thy Christ. Thou struckest the head of the house of the wicked [Satan] and destroyed the foundation with the high towering walls." [It is a complete overthrow.] "Thou didst strike through with his own spears the chief of his warriors – them that came out as a whirlwind to scatter me."..."But thou didst pass along over the sea with thy horses, over the piled up billows of great waters." [The Lord's doctrines were enforced and conquered the great multitude – the "raging waves of the sea."]
In this "Day of the Lord" those only can REST who are built upon the rock foundation, who are strengthened by the heavenly manna, continually refreshed by the living water of truth, and in obedience to their covenant are following in the footsteps of Jesus. Such shall know the truth and the truth shall make them free. Such shall walk in the light and not be in darkness that that day should come upon them as a thief and a snare. (1 Thes. 5:1-5.) Such may rest in the remembrance that the trouble brings the chariots of salvation for the deliverance of the just.
FRIEND C. T. RUSSELL: – I have received the WATCH TOWER and the TABERNACLE which you sent me, and have gained more information from them than from all I have ever read before. I have been quite a Bible student; but very much of it was a sealed book to me. But since I have read the TOWER and your tracts, those very much perplexed questions are clear. Now I wonder why I did not see it before.
Since I have read Z.W.T. works, I have introduced some of the ideas gained therefrom into our Bible class, and it has produced a startling effect, and it has caused many to search the word of God. The doctrine is new, yet many are very much interested; but some few think it is heresy. I once preached what I supposed to be the Word of God, but I find that I did not understand the book then. I had not a proper idea of the plan of salvation. But thanks be to God, I begin to see its beauty and harmony. What was meaningless to me once, now prove to be a jewel of the rarest beauty and value. I cannot help thinking how blind the churches are; even the educated will not believe. I thank God for the light he has granted to me. I now see the truth of the expression, "God so loved the world," &c. I would be very much pleased to read your "Food for Thinking Christians," and I think that if it is equal to your WATCH TOWER it will prove a power to convince very many that are now in the wilderness of error.
Yours in hope of eternal life.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – I was buying some notions of a peddler, the other day, and they were wrapped with ZION'S WATCH TOWER. Wife and I took a liking to the wrapper – it has the right ring. Enclosed you will find our subscription. Please send the WATCH TOWER. From an old soldier – both spiritual and temporal, and if the TOWER don't slack its hold on the truth, you will hear from me again.
DEAR BROTHER: – We have the privilege of sending you a little mite for the Lord's work, hoping that God will bless it to the feeding of other hungry souls as we have been fed. The question has been asked, How much will you give? For our part we can give but little, only ourselves to the Lord, and then one another, but if the question were reversed – What would you take? it would be unanswerable. We would not exchange what we have learned for the world. We are not public speakers, but we tell the glad tidings to those around us, if it is only to one person at a time. Though we meet with persecution on the right hand and on the left, the Lord gives us more strength and boldness to stand up for his Word. I think we could use some extra papers, will you please send us some.
Yours truly in Christ,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I send along with this letter my subscription for Z.W.T. The brethren and sisters in Glasgow met in my house on the evening of April 8th to celebrate the Passover; there were present altogether seven, and we had an evening precious to me, and I think they all could say the same. We thought of the upper room in Jerusalem, where our Lord met with his disciples, and the words he spoke to them. We also read the TOWER'S comments on the supper, and sang a hymn altogether. I have two new subscribers for the TOWER, to send along with mine.
Yours in Christ,
DEAR BROTHER: – Having accidentally met with the little pamphlet published by you, entitled "Food for Thinking Christians," and having carefully read it more than once, I am deeply interested in it, believing I get through it a clearer and more correct knowledge of the teaching of God's holy word than I ever had before. I am constrained to avail myself of your very liberal offer, and ask you to send to my address some copies for distribution among some of my friends and neighbors, who I think will make a judicious and profitable use of them. I should be also very thankful for a few of the tracts, entitled "The Tabernacle and Its Teachings." Wishing you abundant success in your efforts for the good of mankind, I beg to remain, with assurance of high esteem, yours very respectfully,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – It is with pleasure I write you these lines, to let you know how much I appreciate the new (?) teaching. I have read several copies of the Z.W.T., the Tabernacle Teachings and the Food for Thinking Christians, and I am glad to say that they are the best expositions of the Teachings of the Spirit I ever met with. Surely, the Lord is with you, for this is the Lord's doings, and it is marvelous in our eyes. Thanks be to God for this unspeakable gift. I am a teacher in the Christian Church at present, but a sincere lover of Bible truth, and am willing to forsake all for it. And for this purpose I write you these few lines: I want to know the truth, and nothing but the truth. I am an invalid, and as for this world's goods is concerned may not be able to compensate you, but will endeavor to make the best use of myself for the Master. I am, your brother in the one hope,
I have shown your paper; some like it and some don't; some say Infidel and some say Universalist, but I want to try it one year, if no more. I have been asked what denomination you belong to, and I tell them I can't tell by reading your paper; they must read and judge for themselves. I want you to send me your articles of faith, so they can all see who you are. As for myself, I think the TOWER explains the Scriptures more fully than any thing I ever read before.
Such testimony as the above has brought joy and comfort many times, when other circumstances conspired to discourage our efforts. And we thank God that human imperfection can stand unseen behind his truth and hold it up for the comfort and blessing of his dear children.
These words of our brother remind us of the words of another under similar circumstances. "Whether this man be a sinner or no I know not, but one thing I know, that whereas once I was blind, now I see." Our articles of faith are found in the Word of God. If you would know them, we invite you to study it with us. Whatever we can find taught therein we believe.
To play through life a perfect part,
Unnoticed and unknown;
To seek no rest in any heart
Save only God's alone;
In little things to own no will,
To have no share in great,
To find the labor ready still,
And for the crown to wait.
Upon the brow to bear no trace
Of more than common care,
To write no secret in the face
For men to read it there.
The daily cross to clasp and bless,
With such familiar zeal,
As hides from all that not the less
The daily weight you feel.
In toils that praise will never pay,
To see your life go past,
To meet in every coming day
Twin sister of the last;
To hear of high, heroic things,
And yield them reverence due,
But feel life's daily offerings
Are far more fit for you.
To woo no secret soft disguise
To which self-love is prone,
Unnoticed by all other eyes,
Unworthy in your own;
To yield with such a happy art,
That no one thinks you care,
And say to your poor bleeding heart,
"How little you can bear."
Oh! 'tis a pathway hard to choose,
A struggle hard to share,
For human pride would still refuse
The nameless trials there;
But since we know the gate is low
That leads to heavenly bliss,
What higher life could God bestow
Than such a life as this?
It is well known that for years past I have opposed the popular, or Calvinistic view, of election. That view is essentially this: "God did, from all eternity, unconditionally, elect a certain number of persons to be saved, and these cannot be lost; and, at the same time, did pass by all the rest of the human family and left them to eternal damnation"; i.e., He reprobated them to eternal torments, or death, leaving them in a helpless and hopeless condition.
Such an idea of election I have opposed for fifty years past, and shall probably oppose it to the end of life, as unharmonious with the character of God and his professions of "love to the world," and the fact that Christ "tasted death for every man," and "gave himself a ransom for all," and that "God will have all men to be saved [to live] and come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:4-6; Heb. 2:9).
With this statement before my readers, I trust they will not mistake nor misconstrue what I am about to say on election. That there is a Scripture doctrine of election it is useless to deny; and that it is a "Sovereign" one must also be admitted. God, of his own sovereign pleasure, elected the first Adam before he was created to be the head and representative of the human race in its animal nature. The same Sovereign will elected, "before the foundation of the world" (Eph. 1:4), the second Adam – the Christ – to be the head and representative of a spiritual race, to be developed in due time.
These elections are necessarily followed by a harmless reprobation, i.e., no other man can take either the first or second Adam's place in the plan of God relating to our race. Neither of these elections are designed to exclude any of the race from the favor or love of God, but both are ordained for the benefit of the non-elected, to bring life and well-being to the entire race. The first Adam was elected to the office or work of multiplying and replenishing the earth, by filling it with inhabitants and subduing it (Gen. 1:28). The second Adam was elected to the office or work of bringing out a spiritual element in men and subjecting them to the will of God, so that they should find their happiness and joy in "communion and fellowship with the Father and Jesus Christ," the second or spiritual Adam (1 John 1:1-3).*
These two heads (the first and second Adam) were each elected, in distinction from all others, for these special offices or works; but it was for the benefit of others in both cases, though all others were reprobated in the sense these were elected.
The sovereign right of the Creator to elect whom he will to certain offices, or to perform a particular work, is undeniable. To deny this would be to deny that he is God, the MAKER of all things; and to such the language of Paul is applicable – "Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?" (Rom. 9:20). Without variety in the human family, what would society be, even in this life? If all were rulers, who would be the subjects? If all were subjects, who would be the rulers? It is evident to all that some men by nature are endowed with five talents, some with two, and some with only one; and each was thus endowed, not by his own choice or will, but by the will of the Creator. Each was elected, before he was born, to this capacity found in him by nature; improvement may increase this capacity in them all; but I speak now only of the election which gives them their place, at first, in the race – all ordered in infinite wisdom for the highest good, improvement and happiness of the whole race.
Men claim the right to elect their own rulers; and the act of doing it is called "Election" – that is, certain persons are elected to fill particular offices, not for their own benefit or aggrandizement, but for the good of the whole community. From the offices thus filled all others, for the time being, are reprobated or rejected; but the reprobation is a harmless one; the election was designed to benefit all the reprobated; to watch over their interests and see that all were protected in their lawful pursuits, and to punish the disturbers of the peace. The elect rulers are armed with authority to enforce law and order, and under such a well-ordered administration the greatest amount of good will be possessed by all well disposed, both of rulers and the ruled. In this view election is stripped of its hateful aspects.
Let us now see if we can look calmly on the Scripture doctrine of election. In the first place, suppose it is an election of individuals, though that view may be modified as the investigation proceeds. For what are they elected, or to what? Is it to be saved, while all others are to be damned? Preposterous assumption! as unfounded in the Word of God as it is blasphemous. They are "chosen in Christ" and for Christ, to aid him in his work of blessing the race of Adam, for whom Christ "tasted death;" that is, "every man" – "every creature" – the "all" for whom Christ "gave himself a ransom," which will "be testified in due time" (Mark 16:15; 1 Tim. 2:6; Heb. 2:9). The elect are to become the "Bride of the LAMB" – his "joint-heirs" – to reign with him (Rev. 19:7,8; Rom. 8:17; 2 Tim. 2:12); and will sit with Christ on his throne in the regeneration (Rev. 3:21). Shall He not have the right to select his own Bride? May not He and His Father elect whom they will for the Bride of Christ? How can that be doubted? Her office is not to exalt herself, nor for herself. It is to exalt the Bridegroom and be workers together with him in blessing the race and carrying out God's great purpose of blessing "the world" – the whole human family.
Viewed in this light, what Christian's heart can object to the doctrine of election? No one is harmed by it; no one [R624 : page 3] is excluded from salvation or eternal life by it; but their ultimate possession of those blessings is more likely to be secured by it. There is greater hope for those who are not of this elect Bride than there would have been but for her being thus elected and prepared to bless the others of the human race. This election need not and should not cause any jealousy in the minds of the non-elect; for, first, it is for the benefit of the non-elect that this election has been made; and, second, these elected ones have, in this life, to "drink of Christ's cup, and be baptized with his baptism" of sufferings, sorrows and reproach, be despised, reviled, have their names cast out as evil, their motives misconstrued, endure persecution in some form; many of them even unto death, having "had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, harrassed, maltreated, (of whom the world was not worthy): they wandered in deserts and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth" (Heb. 11:36-38). Such, in some sort or some measure, is the lot of the Elect Church of Christ, who, having been made partakers of His sufferings, will be sharers in his glory, having been fitted therefor by being perfected by sufferings like their Elect Head, Christ Jesus. They do not and cannot live as other men do in this present life. They are called out from the world, and live not for this world, but live above it, looking for a "kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world" (Matt. 25:34). Christ is not only their Redeemer, but their great Exemplar: to be Christ-like is the grand ruling motive; and this makes them separate from all other men in this life. They have taken Christ's yoke upon them, and are now learning of him who was "meek and lowly in heart."
These remarks lead to another branch of the subject. That the elect I have spoken of are a definite number, which can neither be increased nor diminished, is highly probable. But I shall not argue that point at this time, another question being of more importance – that is –
Thus it appears that election, though it may be of individuals, is not absolute; it may be forfeited by "transgression." Paul is clear on this point when he says, "It is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance, seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh and put him to an open shame" (Heb. 6:4-6). Again Paul says, "If we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries" (Heb. 10:26,27). Such testimonies go to show that individuals may be elected to run in the race for the offices of "kings and priests" unto God and the Lamb, and yet may "come short of" a confirmation or inauguration into those offices by failing to obtain that maturity and perfectness which God calls them to, and by non-improvement of the grace bestowed on them; hence, the apostle exhorts on this wise, "We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain" (2 Cor. 6:6).
The Scriptures are full of cautions against carelessness in the use of God's grace, and against quenching the Spirit, and admonitions not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God, all of which go to show that there is a danger, at least a possibility, of failing to "make our calling and election sure." Too many persons, while writing or speaking of election, fail to make the distinction between being elected to run a race, and being elected to receive the prize. All who believe in Jesus have been elected (from the foundation of the world, if you please,) to run in the race for the kingly and priestly offices of the Kingdom of God; but none have been absolutely elected to the possession of those offices; this last election is suspended on conditions to be performed; hence, says the apostle, "So run that ye may obtain" (1 Cor. 9:24): obtain what? "An incorruptible crown." This belongs "to him that overcometh" (Rev. 3:21).
This view of election, while it acknowledges the sovereignty of God and his right to bestow his gifts according to his will, shows that all is done with the design to benefit the race of men, as a whole; so that while some are exalted to rule and teach, the others are blessed under and by their rule and instruction, thus uniting the whole family of man in a perfect harmony, diffusing perfect happiness and joy: "every man," ultimately, sitting "under his own vine and fig-tree," having none to molest or make them afraid, "for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it" (Micah 4:4).
Such an election as here set forth, is a most powerful stimulus to holy living, deadness to the world, self-denial, patience in tribulation, watchfulness, constant reliance on God for help and support in all the conflicts to which we are exposed in this life: in short, it leads to that spirit of consecration to God and the Lamb which few professed Christians seem to have any idea of in these days, for most of them appear to be tolerably satisfied to be saved from hell or death; and a deep communion with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ, seems of no great importance to them if they can only be saved. Saved they may be; but never gain a part in the company composing the Bride of Christ: they have not made that "calling and election sure," and hence, fail of being kings and priests unto God and the Lamb; though saved with an inferior salvation through the abounding love of God, they may be subjects but not rulers in the Kingdom of God; they are not heirs of the Kingdom, but they may share in the blessings which flow from the reign of Christ and his Bride in the Kingdom, when that reign is established over all the earth. How great their gain or loss will be, by their neglect to make "sure" their election, is a matter at present impossible to tell. Let each believer in Jesus see and feel that he or she is called, yea, elected to something more than to be saved; they are chosen to put on Christ; i.e., to become Christ-like, so as to be of his Bride, and occupy the place of kings and priests to God and the Lamb. Not to live for this end and office; to be satisfied with the idea of merely being saved somehow, is to undervalue their high calling and lightly esteem the exalted honor of being joint-heirs to Christ's throne, and possessing the intimate relation of Bride of the Lamb. It is too much like despising the birth-right, like Esau; or selling it for a mess of pottage. What are all the charms of this present age – its honors, its luxuries, its wealth and grandeur – compared with the eternal honor and pleasure of being of the number that "follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth" (Rev. 14:4), and associated with him in all the wondrous works and glories of the "ages to come?"
Let all believers in Jesus "strive to enter in at the strait gate," and walk in "the narrow way," if they would make "sure" their "calling and election," and [R624 : page 4] not rest in the bare idea of being saved. The prize is before us: let us "so run that we may obtain" it.
"The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair, and they took them wives of all, which they chose...And they bare children to them, the same became mighty men, which were of old men of renown." (Gen. 6:2,4.)
The Scriptures not only point us to the future age and call the spiritual government of Christ which shall then exist a "new heavens," and earthly society and institutions under it a "new earth;" but the present spiritual rulership [under Satan, "the prince of this world,"] and earthly institutions under it are termed "The present evil world," dispensation or epoch. Moreover, we are informed that the present dominion of evil has not lasted forever, but that it was preceded by a still different dispensation or epoch spoken of as "the world that was before the flood," which also had a heavens or spiritual ruling power, and an earth, or condition of men subject to that spiritual dominion.
These three worlds mentioned by Peter (2 Pet. 3:6,7,13) designate these three great epochs of time, in each of which, God's plan with reference to men has a distinct and separate outline, yet each is but a part of the one great plan which, when complete, will exhibit the divine wisdom, though considered separately these parts would fail to show their deep design.
Since that first "world" (heavens and earth," or that order of things) passed away at the time of the flood, it follows that it must have been a different order from the present, and hence the prince of this present evil world was not the prince of that which preceded this – not the prince of the world or dispensation before the flood.
Just what was God's plan and method under that first dispensation has not hitherto been so clearly understood. Recently, however, several scriptures have been brought to our attention which seem to throw light on God's dealings during that time, and we think give a further and clearer insight into his plan and purpose as a whole. The thought suggested by these is that the first world (the dispensation before the flood) was under the supervision and special ministration of the angels; that these were man's governors and overseers commissioned to communicate God's will and to rule over the fallen and degenerating race, which, because of sin needed this government.
That angels were the rulers of that epoch is not only indicated by all references to that period, but may be reasonably inferred from the Apostle's remark when contrasting the present dispensation with the past and the future. He endeavors to show both the righteous and the enduring character of the future rulership of the world, saying, "The world to come hath He not put in subjection to the angels" – no, it is put under the control of Jesus and his joint heirs, and hence it shall not only be more righteous than the present, but it shall be more successful than that of the angels was. (See Heb. 2:2,5.)
In their original estate all the angels seemed to possess the ability to appear in earthly forms – Satan appeared to Eve as a serpent, other angels frequently appeared as men, thus performing their ministry, appearing or disappearing as the work demanded.
It was at this time, we believe, that the fall of some of the angels occurred. It is a common supposition, though we think without foundation, that the fall of Satan and his angels occurred before man's creation. We are told that Satan was a murderer [man killer] from the beginning (Jno. 8:44.) Certainly not from the beginning of his own existence, for every creation coming from God's hand is perfect, nor can we think any other beginning referred to than man's beginning in Eden.
The ambition of Satan to become a ruler seems to have developed as he beheld the first human pair with their procreative powers. He probably reasoned that if he could obtain the control of this man he should have the dominion over all his offspring, and be in power and influence above others, a rival of Jehovah, and his growing ambition said, "I will be like the Most High." (Isa. 14:14.)
Measurably successful, Satan gained a great influence over the race, but not complete, for in competition with him was the great company of angels who as guardians, instructed and ruled mankind for a time in harmony with the will of God. But presently came a great degeneracy among those rulers of men. Man's corruption was contagious, and some of the angels left their own habitation or condition as spiritual beings, keeping not their first or original estate. They misused the powers which they possessed of assuming a human form and became of a reprobate and licentious mind, copying after the degenerate man, and according to our text started a new race of men in the world.
Some have endeavored to apply the Scripture at the beginning of this article to two classes of men – one class more righteous than the other, called "Sons of God," but such a position is utterly untenable, for why should it be considered a grievous sin for one man to take for a wife another man's daughter. Marriage among men is never condemned as sinful in the Scriptures. Again, if it were merely a union of two classes of the same race why should the offspring be "GIANTS" and specially "MEN OF RENOWN." If the righteous and the wicked marry to-day are their children therefore giants or renowned men?
Through the deterioration of several hundred years, mankind had lost much of its original vigor and perfection of mind and body, but with the angels it is different. Their powers were still perfect and unimpaired, hence it is clear that their children would partake of that vitality and much more resemble the first perfect man than those around them, among whom they would be giants both in physical and mental strength.
Those angels which kept not their first condition but sought the level of sinful men and left their own habitation or spiritual condition God placed in age-lasting chains. That is, God restrained or limited their powers, taking from them the power and privilege of appearing in any earthly form, human or brute. Hence, though we know that they did thus appear before the flood, there is not one instance recorded in which they have been able to free themselves from this restraint or chain since. On the contrary, the angels who left not their first estate are not so restrained, and have appeared frequently as men, as a flame of fire and as a pillar of cloud, etc., as recorded in both the old and new testament Scriptures.
Having become depraved in their tastes and given over to a reprobate mind, and being debarred from all association with God and his works and plans, these fallen angels have no longer any pleasure in things on the spiritual plane, but crave association with depraved mankind and a participation with him in every form of evil. How wise and kind the Almighty hand which has restrained their power and influence over men by preventing their personal intercourse! Now they may indeed enter and act through any who invite their companionship, but no more can they do. Thus far shalt thou go, saith the Almighty, but no farther.
Some of this class, possessed by devils, Jesus and his disciples met in their ministry. Out of one he cast a legion of devils (Mark 5:1-15). Anxious in some manner to be associated with humanity, yet unable to assume human form because of their restraints, (chains), when they found a man willing to have such company, a legion crowded into him, making him thereby a maniac. Even when they perceived that Jesus would release the man from their possession, they in despair requested as a favor that they might be permitted to inhabit and use the bodies of a herd of swine near by. But the swine were crazed thereby, and madly rushed into the sea.
But our subject would be incomplete if we should omit the testimony of Jude (vs. 6,7.) After mentioning the angels who sinned, he says, Even as Sodom and Gomorrah....IN LIKE MANNER giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh." Is not this conclusive evidence on the subject?
That God deprecates any mixture or blending of human and spiritual natures, and designs that each should keep its own original or first estate, we need scarcely remark is clearly taught here. (See also Lev. 18:23, and 20:15,16.) And that our race as it exists to-day, coming through Noah, is purely Adamic stock, and contains no mixture, is shown by the expression – "These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generation, i.e., not contaminated in the manner before described (Gen. 6:9.)
Glancing back then we see the first epoch under angelic control, and the result, man's continued degradation, and its degrading influence upon some of the angels. The angels were utterly unable to accomplish the great work of man's recovery. Doubtless they were anxious to do it, for they sang and shouted for joy at his creation. And God let them try it, but sadly they failed. Some joined the ranks of evil and the rest stood by and witnessed the terrible course of sin. Later we find them still interested and desiring to look into the plan which God has since been working out, and ever ready to do his bidding in our service. (1 Peter 1:12.) Thus was proven both to men and angels the futility of angelic power to save men.
In the beginning of this present evil world, notwithstanding Noah's endeavor to serve God and to teach his posterity to follow his example, and the exhibition of God's anger at the deluge, the tendency was still downward, and soon the wickedness of a Sodom brought its destruction. Mankind was bent on an evil course, and God permitted them to take it. Then the ministration of angels, except to the few of God's children, was withdrawn. In this second dispensation God permits the world to select and obey the prince of its own choosing, to feel his galling yoke and to realize the real character of evil while he is selecting from among them a little flock, whose desire to do the will of God has led them to sacrifice the human interests and present things to share as joint heirs with Christ, the glories and honors of the new ruling power (new heavens). And when the prince of this world is cast out, and he whose right it is shall take his power and reign, then in him shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
God has now demonstrated to all his creatures that his plan was the only one which could accomplish the great work; and his plan has ever since the fall been gradually and quietly developing, and in due time will bear abundant fruit unto eternal life.
If, then, we are candidates for so high an honor, is it not fitting that the Gospel church must be carefully tried and tested now to insure their fitness for the new dominion? Let us then with the Apostles rejoice that we are accounted worthy of being tested and tried, and laying aside every weight and every besetment, let us run with joy and patience the race set before us, looking unto Jesus our forerunner, the author and finisher of our faith.
"Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." – Rom. 12:2.
It should be noticed here that these words of the Apostle are not addressed to the unbelieving world, but to those whom he recognizes as brethren, as shown by the preceding verse – "I beseech you therefore, brethren,...that ye present your bodies living sacrifices, holy and acceptable unto God."
It is the prevailing idea among Christians that when a man is converted or turned from sin to righteousness, and from unbelief and opposition to God to faith, obedience and reliance upon him, that is the transforming Paul meant. Truly it is a great change – a transformation, but not the transformation that Paul here refers to. That is a transformation of character; but Paul refers to a transformation of nature promised to believers during the Gospel Age, on certain conditions, and was urging believers to fulfill those conditions. Had such a transformation of character not already taken place in those whom he addressed, he could not have termed them brethren – brethren, too, who had something "holy and acceptable unto God" to offer in sacrifice. Only those who are justified by faith in the ransom are reckoned of God as holy and acceptable.
This transformation of nature will result to those who during the Gospel Age present their justified humanity a living sacrifice, as Jesus presented his perfect humanity a sacrifice – laying down all right and claim to future human existence, as well as ignoring present human gratification.
The first thing to be sacrificed is our human will; and henceforth we may not be guided either by our own or by any other human will, but only by the divine will. Gradually then the divine will becomes our will, and we reckon the human will as not ours, but as the will of another, to be ignored and sacrificed. The divine will now having become our will, we begin to reason, to judge, to think, from the divine standpoint: God's plan is our plan, and God's purposes and ways are ours.
None can understand this transformation who have not in good faith presented themselves as sacrifices, and in consequence come to experience it. Hitherto we might enjoy anything that was not sinful, for the world and all its good things were made for man's enjoyment; the only difficulty was to subdue the sinful propensities. But the consecrated, in addition to the effort to subdue sin, must sacrifice the present good things and devote all their energies to the service of God. As through sacrifice we daily realize that this is not our rest, that here we have no continuing city, our hearts and hopes are turned to that "rest that remaineth for the people of God." And that blessed hope in turn quickens and inspires to continued sacrifice.
Thus through a sanctified will the mind is renewed, transformed; and the desires, hopes and aims begin to gravitate toward the spiritual and unseen things promised, while the human hopes, etc., die. Those thus transformed are reckoned as "new creatures," begotten of God and partakers to that extent of the divine nature.
Mark well the difference between these new creatures and those who are only justified. The latter class is still of the earth earthy, and their hopes, ambitions and aims are such as will be fully gratified in the promised restitution of all things. But the former class is not of this world, even as Christ is not of this world, and their hopes center in the things unseen, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. The prospect [R626 : page 5] of earthly glory, so enchanting to the natural man, would not now be a satisfying portion to those begotten of this heavenly hope – to those who are now sharers of the divine mind.
This new divine mind is now the earnest of our inheritance of the complete divine nature – mind and body. Some may be a little startled by this expression, a divine body; but we are told that Jesus is the express image of his Father's person, and that the overcomers shall be made like unto his glorious body. "There is a natural [human] body, and there is a spiritual body," and we have no idea that either our divine Father or our Lord Jesus are only great minds without bodies. They are glorious spiritual bodies, though it doth not yet appear how great the glory, and shall not until we also shall share the divine likeness.
While this transforming of the mind from human to spiritual is a gradual work, the change from a human to a spiritual body will not be gradual, but instantaneous. (1 Cor. 15:52.)
It may be difficult for some to see in this change of mind the beginning of a change of nature; but a little consideration, we think, makes it very clear. That there is a change of nature for the church is scriptural truth; and it is also as clearly taught that the change of this class begins here and is completed in the resurrection. (2 Cor. 1:20-22; 1 Cor. 15:52.)
The Scriptures show us that the human nature is a likeness of the spiritual (Gen. 5:1). For instance, man has will, so have God and angels; man has reason, so have they; man has memory, so have they. The character of the mental operations of each is the same. With the same data for reasoning, and under the same circumstances these different natures are able to arrive at the same conclusions: hence God can say to men, "Come, let us reason together."
Though the mental faculties of both natures are similar, yet we know that the spiritual nature has powers beyond and above the human – powers, we think, which result, not from different faculties, but from the wider range of the same faculties, and the different circumstances under which they operate.
From all that we can gather, we conclude that the human nature is a perfect earthly image of the spiritual nature, with the same faculties, only confined to the earthly sphere, with ability and disposition to discern only so much beyond it as God sees fit to reveal for man's benefit and happiness.
The divine is the highest order of the spiritual nature; and how immeasurable is the distance between God and his creatures! We are only able to catch a glimpse of the glory of the divine wisdom, power and goodness as in panoramic view he causes some of his mighty works to pass before us. But we can measure and comprehend the glory of perfect humanity. Truly there is a vast difference between the divine and the human nature; but, as the Scriptures teach, there is a likeness, else God and man could have no communion, no fellowship. It is because there is not a likeness of God in the lower animals that they cannot know or commune with him.
With these thoughts clearly in mind, we are able to more fully understand how the change from the human to the spiritual nature is effected – viz., by carrying the same mental powers over to higher conditions. When clothed with the heavenly body we shall have the heavenly powers which belong to that glorious body. We shall also have the range of thought and scope of power which belongs to it. The change of mind from human to spiritual which we experience here we see is the beginning of that change of nature. True it is but a very small beginning, but the begetting, as this is termed, is always but a faint, a small beginning; yet it is the earnest or assurance of the finished work. (Eph. 1:13,14.)
Some have said, How shall we know ourselves when changed? How shall we then know that we are the same beings that lived and suffered and sacrificed that we might be partakers of this glory? Will we be the same conscious beings? Yes, most assuredly. The Scriptures declare that if WE be dead with Christ, WE shall also live with him. (Rom. 6:8.)
Changes which daily occur to our human bodies do not cause us to forget the past nor to lose our identity, so the promised change from human to spiritual bodies will not destroy either memory or identity, but will increase their power and range. The same divine mind that now is ours, with the same memory, the same reasoning powers, etc., will then find its powers expanded to immeasurable heights and depths, in harmony with its new immortal or incorruptible body, and memory will trace all its career from earliest human infancy, and we will be able by contrast to fully realize the glorious reward of our sacrifice. But this could not be the case if the human were not a likeness of the spiritual.
These thoughts may help us also to understand how Jesus, when changed from spiritual to human conditions, viz., a human body and earthly limitations, was a man; and though it was the same being in both cases, under the first conditions it was spiritual; under the second condition it was human.
Because the two natures are separate and distinct, yet the one is a likeness of the other, therefore the same mental faculties (memory, etc.) being common to both, Jesus could remember his former glory which he had before becoming a man, but which he had not when he had become a man, as his words prove – [R627 : page 5] "Father, glorify me with the glory I HAD with thee before the world was" (John 17:5), the glory of the spiritual nature. And that prayer is more than answered in his present exaltation to the highest form of the spiritual, viz., the divine nature.
Referring again to the words of our text, we notice that Paul does not say, Do not conform yourselves to this world, but transform yourselves into the divine likeness; but he says, "Be not conformed...but be transformed." That is well expressed, for we do not either conform or transform ourselves; but we do submit ourselves either to be conformed to the world by the worldly influences around us, or else we submit ourselves to the will of God, to be transformed by the heavenly influences exercised through his word and his spirit.
You that are consecrated, what influence are you submitting to? The transforming influences lead to present sacrifice and suffering, but the end is glorious. If you are developing under these transforming influences, you are proving daily what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. To such the will of God is made plain. May grace divine enable us to walk according to the will of God through suffering, until ushered into the promised glory – until fully transformed into his glorious image!
Not long since, many who are now rejoicing in the light of present truth were under the cover of darkness, uneasily seeking rest in the short bed and narrow covering of Babylon's creeds. Some loved the darkness, but a few anxiously longed for the dawn of day.
To such a voice has come, saying: "Arise, shine; for thy light is come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee." This light that has come is none other than the glorious light of our Lord's presence, for the long-promised second advent is due. At his first advent Jesus said, "I am the light of the world," and the early disciples were bidden to arise and shine, their light having come. But since he has come in the glory of power the Church is now bidden to arise and shine with increasing glory, her glorious light having come.
Few at our Lord's first advent discerned his light because the majority preferred darkness; the few gladly received the light, and through them it has been reflected all through the gospel age. Thus they in turn became light-bearers as Jesus said – "Ye are the light of the world....Let your light shine." (Matt. 5:14-16.) Had not the mystery of iniquity begun to work that light would long since have flooded the world with its glory. But it was a part of the plan of God to let the mystery of iniquity work, interposing its clouds of error and superstition, thus obscuring the light, that the world might not see until the "due time" had come for binding Satan and ushering in the reign of righteousness. (Rev. 20:2.)
So great has been the deception and darkness brought about through this agency of Satan, that but feebly have even the children of light been able to discern and follow it. In fact, as the mystery of iniquity increased in power, the whole heavens have been overspread with clouds and thick darkness, and nearly all of God's children have submitted more or less to the drowsy influence. But to the few who, feeling the discomfort and longing for the day have escaped from the short beds, the message, Let your light shine has increasing significance now that the great light, the glorious head of the Church, has come.
Yes, we have seen the light; we have felt its blessed influence; our drowsy sensibilities have been quickened into new life, and our hearts leap for joy as we recognize present truth and by faith discern the glory of the coming day.
Well, say some, If the Lord were indeed present would not the whole earth be filled with his glory? Yes, in due time it will be, but we remember that he comes as a thief, and for a time is unobserved by the world. The world will not see his light, neither will unfaithful, sleeping children of God discern it. The gross darkness of ignorance and unbelief will everywhere prevail and only the faithful few will discern Christ's second advent, until the day of the Lord is well advanced and the Sun of righteousness and truth shall have scattered the vail of gross darkness which now covers the earth. And to this the prophet's words agree – "Behold the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee." Seeing, then, that these things are so, what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness?
Paul exhorted those who enjoyed the light of our Lord's first advent to be followers of God as dear children... "to walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time [securing the opportunity] because the days are evil." With still greater emphasis would the Apostle's words apply to those now enjoying the light of his second presence.
To walk circumspectly is to walk cautiously, with watchfulness every way, with attention to guard against surprise or danger, and not as fools or those destitute of understanding. In this evil day it is important that, having escaped from the former darkness, we be not again deceived and led back. Once started on the backward track, it is only a question of time how soon we reach the former, or a worse darkness.
We have for some time noticed, and called attention to the destructive tendency of the errors advanced in this day of the Church's final trial, as well as to the superior light which should enable her to contend against it. Every departure from the straight course of truth seems now to lead with unerring certainty and haste to a denial of the whole system of truth, even to its very centre.
There is special need now to heed Paul's warning to walk cautiously, with a constant guard against surprise or danger, and not as those destitute of understanding, or as those who have never been enlightened. To some, under the delusive snares of the adversary, we have noticed that the most unreasonable and most unscriptural assertions were received and held to with a tenacity which baffled all efforts for their rescue, while that which they once hailed with delight as the truth of God, seemed but an idle tale. To such we would again repeat Paul's exhortation, "Be not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." The glory of the Lord has risen upon thee; arise, and let it shine through thee! That is not truth, by whatsoever route it may lead, if its course leads away from the very center of our hope – redemption through the precious blood of Christ.
This blessed truth, on which hangs all our hope, has, like a well-grounded anchor, held God's children all through the gospel age. Other truths have been either mutilated or destroyed, but God has not permitted the devil in his wrath to throw away the Christian's anchor. Once let go your anchor and you find yourself drifting on an unknown sea. Thank God the anchor will never be destroyed, but you may lose your hold on it. Above the stormy billows of a tempestuous sea let our brother's words be heard – "Cast not away therefore your confidence which hath great recompense of reward." Hold fast to the anchor.
See that ye walk circumspectly, securing, or making sure, the present opportunity because the present evil day makes increased vigilance and steadfastness necessary.
"Order," it is said, "is heaven's first law." Certain it is that the great designer and framer of all things had regard to order in all his works. "He spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast." How sublime the utterance: how worthy its divine source. Not less sublime the progressive steps in creation, extending, perhaps, through thousands and tens of thousands of years, until the completed universe in all its perfection appeared.
Notice the order observed in the various organizations endowed with life. Whatever department in nature we select, we pursue the same intricate pathway through various gradations, till we reach the highest order in the class. The variety and perfection in both the vegetable and animal kingdoms excite our wonder and admiration. But, however great may be the interest in the lower orders, man, the crowning act of creation: man, made only a little lower than the angels, endowed with reason, privileged with communion with his Maker, absorbs all our attention.
God having foreseen all that would befall his creature, devised a plan of redemption [R628 : page 5] which could by no possibility fail to accomplish the purposes intended. Just here is where many well meaning people are at fault. It seems to be a common belief among Christians that God's plans are not only liable to defeat, but that they usually are defeated.
In the light that now shines on the sacred page, God's children are enabled to more fully comprehend his wonderful plan than was formerly their privilege. The faith of the just is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. (Prov. 4:18.) This light shining on the Word discovers in God's method a well-defined plan, embracing various steps or stages. It has been termed by some the "plan of the ages," because it embraces within its scope several different ages or dispensations, in each of which a special work was accomplished. We notice the patriarchal in which the knowledge of God was confined principally to one man at a time. The Jewish age during which this knowledge was confined principally to the Jewish nation; and the gospel age during which Christ is selecting a Church or bride to be associated with him finally in the work of blessing all the families of the earth. (Gen. 12:3.)
Scripture also mentions "ages to come," in which God will show the exceeding riches of his grace. (Eph. 2:7.) [R628 : page 6] These ages each have a definite time appointed them, and a definite work to perform. In each there is a seed time and a harvest. Christ came to harvest the fruit of the Jewish age. He sent his disciples forth, not to preach to the Gentiles, but only to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." In this harvest he burned the chaff, but the wheat he gathered into the garner. As many as received him, to them gave he the power to become sons of God. (Jno. 1:12.)
The disciples were sent forth to reap where others had sown. The prophets were God's messengers to the people; they sowed the seed. When a sufficient time had elapsed, the reapers came to do their part of the work.
The gospel age, Christ informs us, is also to have a seed time and a harvest. After the resurrection he sent his disciples into all the world to preach the gospel of the kingdom. At the end of the world (age, dispensation), the Son of man will send the reapers, who will gather the wheat into his barn. (Matt. 13:30.)
Many laborers, though very anxious to be at work, seem not to know whether they are to sow or to 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.
Wheat and tares have been growing together in the field. To the casual observer it promised an abundant harvest, but to him who needs not that any should testify of man, because he knows what it is in man, it presented a very different view. The harvest is now in progress, and to all appearances the tares far outnumber the wheat.
As stated above, many who seem anxious to labor for the Master, have no conception of God's plan. They work on human plans, and as a consequence those whom they endeavor to instruct are confused rather than enlightened.
"If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch." It seems to be true of this harvest, as of that of which Jesus spake, "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest."
You may have inherited a disposition which more or less continually wars against your efforts to please God, but that need not interfere with your acceptableness. The Apostle Peter was afflicted with two perverse elements of character, which doubtless often led to great discouragement and almost to doubt of his acceptance. He was naturally very desirous of the approval of men, and also very impulsive.
That Peter loved the Lord, is evident from the fact that he so far overcame these tendencies as to become an open and constant follower, thus sharing the reproach of Christ. But when the dreadful hour came that to the popular mind proved Jesus an imposter, and his disciples despised and blinded fanatics, that was too much for Peter, and pride and impulse, coupled with fear, led to an emphatic denial that he ever knew the Lord. Just a little before this, the same impulsiveness had led Peter to draw the sword in the Lord's defence.
Notwithstanding Peter's denial of the Lord when under severe trial, he sadly remembered Jesus' words and repented, as his actions show. He still kept in company with the other disciples, all of whom were greatly perplexed and disappointed. Love still cherished the blessed memory of the past, though sadly they said, "We trusted that it had been he who should have redeemed Israel."
When the Lord had met the few disciples and Peter, after ministering to their temporal wants in the old familiar way, which led all to recognize him, he addressed Peter, saying, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs." A second and a third repetition of the Lord's question brought a second and a third assurance and emphasis of Peter's love and a second and a third repetition of the commission to feed the Lord's children – to preach the Gospel.
It should be noticed, however, that though Peter was thus commissioned to preach the Gospel, he and all the disciples were told to tarry first at Jerusalem until endued with power from on high. And in due time – on the day of Pentecost, they received the anointing which was the earnest of their inheritance of the divine nature and the pledge of their acceptance as members of the prospective Bride of Christ.
There is much encouragement for weak, yet earnest and loving, saints in the Lord's dealings with Peter. His impetuous, ardent temperament, while it yet overflowed with love for the Master, and could truthfully say, "Thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love," was yet constantly a great disadvantage to him, even after he had received the spirit of adoption into the divine family.
The one most praiseworthy trait in Peter's character was his perseverence inspired by his ardent love. If he made a misstep, he was just as quick to realize it and to retrace it. He never deliberately and entirely turned away from the Lord or admitted another as a sharer of that supreme affection. If asked, "Lovest thou me more than these"? could you say with Peter, "Yea, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee"? Then, to the best of your ability, show your love by your works. Then, though you may fall or stumble, you shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholdeth with his hand, (Psa. 37:24,) and in due time, by constant effort, you will be able at least measurably, to overcome the weaknesses of your nature.
But, lest we should become so discouraged with our repeated failures or only partial victories over old tendencies, we should ever bear in mind that all this imperfection of our old (Adamic) natures was imputed to Jesus Christ, and that his death canceled it, and that now his righteousness is imputed to us; and, therefore, through faith in him, and not in our own actual righteousness, we are acceptable and may have a well grounded hope of acceptance.
To him that overcometh is the blessed promise of eternal union with Christ – but not to him that overcometh every perverted tendency of his human nature, and is able to present himself actually perfect. If that were the requirement, not one of us could meet it. But "this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." (1 John 5:4.) If we have that love for the Lord which leads us to persevere in our efforts to show ourselves approved unto him, even though we persevere through great difficulty, and if our unwavering confidence abides in his finished work of our redemption, then we are overcoming, and in the end will be reckoned of God as having overcome, even though we and those about us will realize our human imperfection.
Courage, then, disheartened one! Go feed my sheep. I would not send thee on such important mission did I not know thy love supreme for me and mine. And all thus sent I will endue with power from on high – the spirit of adoption, which is the pledge of your great inheritance with me.
THE only perfect friendship subsists among those who resemble each other in virtue, because those who love their friends for their virtue, love them for what is not a temporary appendage, but a permanent essential in their character.
"Art thou he that should come, or look we for another?" Matt. 11:3.
John the Baptist was a brave, devoted, faithful servant of God. He counted no privation or suffering too great if thereby he might serve and honor God. And the experience of John was very much like the experience of very many of God's children.
When he first started out on his mission full of zeal and enthusiasm, doubtless he had high hopes of great success – not success as it is often measured today, by popularity and fame for oratory, or a great salary, for he was content to live on locusts and wild honey and he wore no soft clothing. No, his great anxiety was to have men repent of sin and to be ready to recognize and receive the promised Messiah of whom he was the forerunner. To know that he was chosen of God to actually introduce to the world the Messiah, the great deliverer promised away back in Eden and expected for four thousand years must indeed have inspired him with deepest enthusiasm and zeal.
For a time John met with great success and great multitudes repented of sin and were baptized. And after six months of such effort John was permitted to point his disciples to the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. But it proved to be only Jesus of Nazareth, John's cousin. And many said, "Is this not Jesus the son of Joseph the carpenter, whose father and mother we know? and others said, "What good thing can come out of Nazareth?" Jewish expectation was indeed greatly disappointed.
John was not so popular after that; his influence began to wane and his bold faithful course soon led to prison. This was a severe test of faith. Doubtless John in common with other Jews had failed to comprehend the object of Christ's first advent, and began to think how strange it seemed that his own cousin, of humble birth and without worldly honor should be pointed out as the Messiah in whom the hope of the world should center.
In his discouragement and loneliness John's faith began to waver – had he indeed been deceived in this matter? Instead of this prison and this reproach among men, he might have been enjoying the honors and comforts of the world: had he in his enthusiasm made a great mistake?
At this time Jesus was publicly preaching and calling attention to the fact that according to the prophets the time was fulfilled and the kingdom of heaven was at hand. Mark 1:14,15. But in answer to John's question Jesus did not say, Go and tell John that we are now living in the beginning of the 70th week of Daniel's prophecy, (Dan. 9:24-27,) though that was true; nor did he furnish all the other prophetic evidence that pointed to him for fulfillment: But Jesus said, "Go and show John again, those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me." (Matt. 11:3-6.)
Notice that the things they could plainly see and hear were evidence sufficient that this was indeed the Christ. When God would make known to us any great truth he does not confine himself to any one method of proving it, but gives evidence in various ways.
Just so it is that the great fact of our Lord's second presence is now made known. To those saints who now like John inquire, "Art thou he that should come, or look we for another?" our Lord sends answer, saying, "Go tell them again the things which ye do see and hear. And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me."
At his first advent the people not only heard the proclamation, "The time is fulfilled," but they could see the actual fulfillment of those prophecies concerning Christ which were then due. The Prophet had said, referring to Christ, "The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." (Isa. 61:1).
It was to the fulfillment of this prophecy of his mission that Jesus called John's attention. He could not then say, This day is all prophecy concerning me fulfilled; but he could and did call attention to certain marked features of prophecy then being fulfilled which afforded sufficient evidence that he was indeed the Messiah: For instance – his preaching was especially to the meek, the poor. Unlike the professed teachers of the day, he did not court the favor and flattery of the rich and neglect the poor, but the very reverse. The poor had the good news preached to them, and if the rich desired to hear they had the privilege of coming on the same conditions and on the same footing, which would certainly incur the reproach of their rich neighbors and of popular religious sentiment.
Jesus also began to proclaim liberty to the captives of death, to teach that a time was coming when death should be no more, and to illustrate his power to liberate all by loosing a few from the bands of death: "These things did Jesus and manifested forth [before] his glory." (John 2:11.) Go and tell John again these things, said Jesus. He knows them, but needs to be reminded of them again. This was but a small part of the long line of prophetic evidence since made manifest to the Church, but it was evidence sufficient for strong, unwavering faith.
The same thing is true to-day. While all that is prophesied concerning the second coming of Christ is not yet due to transpire, yet we see that those things due in the beginning of his day are actually coming to pass before our eyes. Nominal Zion now, as at the time of the first advent, is proud, popular and corrupt, and it is only those who have come to realize this – those who mourn in Zion – who are comforted by the good tidings now brought by the great Head of the Church, whose promised presence was to bring new light. Now, as then, it is the poor – the meek, who receive him gladly and to whom his special attention is directed; these are receiving the exceeding beauty and glory of God's unfolding plan for the ashes of old human traditions, the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.
The prophecy of Isa. 61:1-3 was only due to have a partial fulfilment at our Lord's first advent; its complete fulfillment is due in this, his day. But we should not expect all of its fulfillment in the first dawn of the day. The opening of the prison doors of death to those that are bound by it is not yet due, but will follow in its order. The "day of vengeance" foretold is now due, and every student of the signs of the times is able to recognize the gathering storm. As Jesus said, "Ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?" (Matt. 16:3.)
Doubtless the principal cause of John's doubts was the disappointment of his Jewish expectations as to the manner of Christ's coming, and this, we see, is a cause of stumbling to many to-day. Let us ever bear in mind Jesus' words – "The kingdom of God comes not with outward show, nor shall they say, Behold here or there, for behold God's royal majesty is among you" – unseen by the natural eye, and at first undiscovered by the world. (Luke 17:20. Diaglott.)
"If anyone should say to you then, Behold here is Messiah, or there, believe it not....If they say to you, Behold he is in the desert! go not forth; or, Behold he is in secret apartments! believe it not. For as the lightning emerges from the east and shines to the west, so will be the presence of the Son of man. (Matt. 24:23,26-28.) The evidence of the kingdom being come is the fulfillment of the last part of this [R629 : page 7] prophecy of Isaiah, the former part of which Jesus gave as evidence of the first presence. (Luke 3:18-20.) The day of vengeance upon every form of evil, oppression, and sin, is here, and the evidences are ever thickening. We recognize his presence by these very evidences – the lightning flashes of truth. And where the truth – the food – is found there the eagle-eyed, far-seeing, hungry saints are gathering and are being fed and enlightened. (v. 28.) Yes, we see the flashes of light which attend and attest our Master's presence, and we are being richly fed at his table (Luke 12:37); but though Christ has been seen and known in the flesh, we expect to see him so no more, (2 Cor. 5:16), but we shall see him as he is when made like him.
"Father, thou knowest best,
This thought is all my stay;
I see but just the step ahead,
Thou knowest all the way.
To me, as on I walk,
The way seems all obscure,
But thou wilt guide my trembling feet,
And make my footsteps sure.
E'en though the darkness falls,
And hides the path from view,
Thy rod and staff direct me still,
And will my strength renew.
Father, the way seems long,
My strength is very weak,
Support me still by Thy right hand,
And words of comfort speak."
"Who will have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth." – 1 Tim. 2:4.
The term "saved," in general signifies to deliver. What the nature of the deliverance is must be determined by the circumstances. It may be from dangers of any kind; it may be from enemies temporal or spiritual; from sin; from temptations; from death, temporal, spiritual, or eternal; it may be from ignorance, or a helpless state that prevents our attainment of good that our Creator has prepared for His creatures. In this case it is the removal of these disabilities, etc. These uses of the terms save, saved, and salvation, it is presumed will not be questioned by any one.
Two facts are stated in the text above: 1. God "will have all men to be saved," 2. God will have all men come to the knowledge of the truth." On these two facts rest the sum of the gospel. Without controverting the truth that the terms save, saved, etc., are used often in a restricted sense, or are applied to a deliverance which is conditional, I proceed to notice the first fact stated in the text:
1. "God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved." Here is a salvation which is clearly unconditional, and depends alone on the will of God. It is equally clear that an ultimate or final salvation is conditional, based on the "belief of the truth" as well as through "sanctification of the Spirit," (2 Thes. 2:13). Texts need not be multiplied on this point. The salvation in the text under consideration admits of no conditions, as we shall see; it depends entirely on the "will" of "God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved;" not desires them to be saved: but has willed or determined they shall be saved.
The question then is, What is the nature of this salvation which is unconditional and certain? Paul answers: "As by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation" [to death]; "even so, by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto the justification of life: for as by one man's disobedience the many [all men] were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall the many be made righteous" (Rom. 5:18,19). That is, as all men die by one man's sin – Adam's – so by one man's righteousness – Christ's – shall all men be made alive from the dead. This revival from the dead is to all men unconditional: but a revival to immortality and eternal life is conditional. The universal revival restores all men from the death that came upon them as the result of Adam's sin. In this respect, Christ has "abolished death" – annulled it; made it void, or powerless to hold one of Adam's race. This is the salvation "God will have all men" receive, irrespective of any will of their own. This will further appear as the examination of the second fact in the text proceeds.
2. "God our Saviour, who will have all men...come to the knowledge of the truth." This second fact shows why God will have all men revived from the dead. How else can innumerable millions ever come to the knowledge of the truth? They have died without such knowledge; but Paul, who received his commission and his message directly from the Saviour's personal manifestation, declares, "God our Saviour, will have all men come to the knowledge of the truth;" and in order to this, He "will have all men to be saved." Observe, the salvation is placed before coming to the knowledge of the truth, and in order that they shall have that knowledge; for, no man's final state is fixed till he has first had it. When I say "the salvation is placed before coming to the knowledge of the truth," I do not mean that in the order of the work all men must actually be saved or made alive from the dead before they receive that knowledge; but, that God's will to revive all men is based on the fact that in no other way can the mass of the race ever come to the knowledge of the truth, the reception or rejection of which is to determine their final state: and God's impartial "love of the world" is a pledge that "every man" shall come to the knowledge of that love in the gift of "His only begotten Son" to bestow life eternal on all who will receive him when made known to them.
It is a fact the gospel is to be preached "to every creature"; the gospel of God's love to the world, and of Christ as the LIFE-GIVER for all men: and until it is proclaimed to "every man," or, to each individual, that individual has not the proper probation and his final state cannot be fixed according to the gospel preached to Abraham and confirmed in Christ. Then, saith Paul, "If we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin" (Heb. 10:26). Thus the Apostle keeps the two facts of the text in view, and shows that death must be abolished and all men saved from it or God's will would be defeated, and all men could not have the knowledge of the truth. But God's will shall be accomplished, and death cannot prevent it; he has taken care to see that that "last enemy shall be destroyed" (1 Cor. 15:26), so that no man who has died in ignorance of God's love and his provisions for their ultimate redemption from sin and all its final consequences, shall fail of eternal life except by a wilful rejection of the truth, when, or after, he has come to the knowledge of it.
Such is "God our Saviour's will"; and who or what can defeat his counsel so as to make his word void? Has he not said, "My counsel shall stand, and I will do my pleasure" (Isa. 46:10)?
That I have taken the correct view of the text the context shows. The Apostle says: "I exhort that first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men ...for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved," etc.; "for there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (1 Tim. 2:1-6). Hence the absolute necessity that all men be saved from death, else God's will, that they shall "come to the knowledge of the truth," is defeated, and his "due time" will never be reached. The death by Adam is annulled, so that no man can be held by it. If held in death at all, it is because he has sinned "willfully after that" he has received the knowledge of the truth. Such exceptions no more affect the general truth of the salvation of all men from death, than the general truth that "death passed upon all men" is affected by the translation of Enoch and Elijah, or that of saints alive at Christ's return from heaven. The word all embraces the mass of the race; the exceptions are the few. Some may never be released from death, because, personally they have involved themselves in its dominion by a wilful rejection of the DELIVERER after he was made known to them.
Question. Your explanation as to how death is to be destroyed in the next age seems most reasonable, but there has ever seemed to be one scripture in the way, viz., "The child shall die a hundred years old." (Isa. 65:20.) This child must be one in process of restoration; how, then, can it die?
Answer. By reading the entire verse, especially as given in Leeser's translation, the thought will be more clearly understood. Verse 17 shows that the time referred to is under the new heavens (new ruling powers) and the new earth (mankind regenerated or brought to life again). Verse 20 reads: "There shall no more come thence an infant of few days, nor an old man that shall not have the full length of his days; for as a lad shall one die a hundred years old; and as a sinner shall be accursed he who dieth at a hundred years old."
The inference is plain. No infant shall be born to die in a few days, as many now do, but every one born in that time shall come to years of maturity. Now they die because the fathers have eaten the sour grape of sin, but if any die in that age it will be on account of their own sins, and not of their father's sins. (Jer. 31:29,30.) If he dies at all in that age, it will not be until he has reached the age of one hundred years; but he need not die if he will comply with the conditions for retaining life. If he dies at a hundred years, it will be because he is a sinner, because he will not submit to the easy yoke and light burden which is necessary for his development and perfecting. It will be his own fault, and cannot be attributed to any other. He dies for his own sin, not Adam's, and as Adamic sin has been cancelled so has Adamic death, and when he dies it is not Adamic death, but the Second death from which there is no redemption promised.
The shortest period of probation in the next age will be one hundred years. And such as refuse to make progress under those favorable conditions, will be cut off from life after one hundred years trial, but even then he would be but a lad comparatively.
But some might inquire, How will it be with those born in this age and regenerated or brought to life again in the age to come? Would the time they lived here count as part of their probation there? No, for the Prophet says, Neither shall there be an old man that shall not have the full length of his days, i.e., the full length of his days of probation, a hundred years. The old man who died, and who will be brought to life again, will have just the same chance as the infant in that age. He shall have the full length of his probation, and all who improve it may have everlasting life.
Q. Is it anywhere stated how long a time will intervene between the coming of Christ for his saints, and his coming with them to judge the world; and what will be the moral aspect of the Church and world during this period?
A. We have learned, as heretofore shown, that the coming of Christ for his saints was in the fall of 1874, and that the first work before him was the glorifying of the saints. There, the harvest time began – the separation of wheat from tares, etc. Since the fall of 1881 we learn that "Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord from henceforth" – blessed because they would not have to sleep, for to them the instant of death is the instant of change.
At that time we believe that the resurrection of the dead saints was due, because the living were not to be changed until first the dead are raised. (1 Thes. 4:16.) Rev. 14:13 (Diaglott) also informs us that those who thus find it blessed to die, "rest from their labors, and their works follow with them." That is, the labor and toil incident to the work here will cease, and they will continue their work untrammeled by earthly hindrances.
Of course, as soon as they are changed they are with the Lord, and like him are present but unseen, and engaged with him in the present work. This being true those engaged in the work on the earthly plane are co-workers together with them. The condition of the Church and world during this period, observation will show. "Behold," even now "the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints." (Jude 14.) Just how long it will be before the whole body of Christ is changed is wisely hidden from us to prove our faithfulness. It may be a very brief time, or it may be some years yet. Blessed is he that endureth to the end.
The theory that Jesus would divide the second advent into two parts, first to gather his saints and afterward to with them judge the world in righteousness, is a misleading theory which has gained some prominence of late years, being advanced by some people called PLYMOUTH BRETHREN. It seemed to them a necessary theory because of one truth and one error which they attempted to unite. They saw from Scripture that the Lord's coming would be as a thief unobservedly. They saw, too, that a separation of the true from the lukewarm and cold in the Church must take place, and the little flock be exalted to power before the world's trial commenced. These considerations and others led them to the correct thought, that Jesus would be present and accomplish a work for and in the Church before it would be glorified.
But we think that in holding to a visible fleshly coming of Jesus they erred, and to have a place for both thoughts they concluded that Jesus would go away with his Church all unseen to the world, and then all come together in the flesh visible to human sight – with observation or demonstration to establish a visible dominion in some spot of earth – probably Palestine. (Luke 17:20.)
To our understanding there is only one second coming. He comes to do a variety of work, and shall not leave it nor return until he hath accomplished to put down all power and authority. "He shall not fail nor be discouraged till he hath set judgment in the earth" (Isa. 42:4), having first selected and glorified his saints.
A. Since "there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest" (Eccl. 9:10), we believe that infants and all will be raised just as they went down, excepting infirmity and disease.
Life is not entirely made up of great evils or heavy trials; but the perpetual recurrence of petty evils and small trials is the ordinary and appointed exercise of the Christian graces. To bear with the failings of those about us – with their infirmities, their bad judgment, their ill-breeding, their perverse tempers – to endure neglect when we feel we deserve attention, and ingratitude where we expected thanks; to bear with the company of disagreeable people whom Providence has placed in our way and whom he has provided on purpose for the trial of our virtue, these are the best exercises of patience and self-denial, and the better because not chosen by ourselves. To bear with vexation in business, with disappointment in our expectations, with interruptions of our retirement, with folly, intrusions, disturbance – in short, with whatever opposes our will or contradicts our humor – this habitual acquiescence appears to be more of the essence of self-denial than any little rigors or afflictions of our own imposing. These constant, inevitable, but inferior evils properly improved, furnish a good moral discipline.
They do the least
Who talk the most:
Whose good designs
Are all their boast!
For words are dew.
They do the most
Whose lives possess
The sterling stamp
For deeds are true.
And if the heart
Be pure and good,
The life will be
Just what it should –
Not dew, but true.
"Let not your hearts be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." (Jno. 14:1,2.)
He, therefore, boldly presented himself, and proposed a compromise, which would avoid the necessity of suffering and death on the part of Jesus, and enable him in another way to accomplish the purpose for which God sent him into the world, viz.: "that the world through him might be saved" (Jno. 3:17.)
Jesus, however, had the necessary knowledge to enable him to see that this suggestion was only to oppose the plan of God. He knew that as all human life had been forfeited by Adam's transgression, to purchase back – redeem that life – his own must be given, as written by the prophet (Isa. 53:11.) "By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities." In harmony with this, Peter says, (1 Pet. 2:24,) "Who his own self bear our sins in his own body on the tree."
There is no evidence that the adversary ever renewed the encounter of the wilderness. The "Forerunner" had given evidence that all Satan's arts were exercised on him in vain. But there was still hope; for the "followers" could be met one by one, and might he not be more successful with them?
Jesus knew what the plan of Satan would be, for God had given him a revelation of the things that must shortly come to pass "to his servants." Jesus foreknew that taking a new departure, the wily foe of God and man would henceforth seek to turn the "followers" [R632 : page 8] aside from the path-way, by transforming himself into an angel of light, and causing errors to be substituted for truth.
To acquaint the disciples with these "wiles of the devil," Jesus uttered the parable recorded in Matt. 13:24-43. He knew the enemy's subtle power, and that he would "deceive the very elect if possible." He foresaw the "falling away" foretold by Paul, (2 Thes. 2:3), and that man of sin revealed, and knew the artifice by which it would be accomplished.
He, therefore, affectionately warned his followers against giving heed to doctrines of devils, (so termed by Paul, 1 Tim. 4:1), assuring them that error could lead only into trouble and darkness.
The more effectually to fortify their minds against doctrines of seducing spirits, he explains that part of God's plan necessary to refute them, and says in the words quoted at the head of this article, "Let not your hearts be troubled." We now inquire briefly, what are these errors that were so surely to cause trouble to such as should be deceived thereby, and how a belief in Jesus could save from this trouble?
The first we name is that which Satan found so effectual in Eden – "Thou shalt not surely die." Out of this falsehood Satan has made more capital, seemingly, than out of all others combined. On it he has founded all those horrible systems of religion among heathen nations, the bare mention of which shocks the sensibilities of every human being. By this he has kept his seat firmly as the ruler of this world, and relentlessly caused his cruel mandates to be obeyed.
In Christian communities, with an open Bible where it is written, "Only God hath immortality," (1 Tim. 6:16,) this has been scarcely less prevalent; and may we not add, hardly less baneful in its effects. On it has been built the awful and God-dishonoring dogma of eternal torment, which teaches that the wicked are assigned, immediately at death, to endless torture, without a ray of hope that the wrath of God will ever permit them to relent. Strangely enough, those who teach this doctrine fix a day somewhere in the dim future, in which these millions of beings, with those who also, at the moment of death, entered the bliss of heaven, shall be summoned forth to judgment, to be rewarded or condemned to the very condition in which they have existed, some of them for thousands of years.
We can now see how necessary to Jesus' followers the many assurances of word, that all rule and all authority opposed to his will shall finally be subdued. Into what trouble, what anguish of heart, has a contrary belief cast multitudes of God's children.
To the mother who looks for the last time on the lifeless form of her wayward boy, believing him already enduring the torment of a world of woe, how like mockery seem Jesus' words, "Let not your heart be troubled."
Ask her to be joyful when one she loves better than life, is doomed to endless despair! It is impossible, and all the sophistry which theologians have made use of to reconcile Orthodoxy (so called) with the teachings of Jesus has signally failed. Happy they, who "come to Jesus" and find rest. Happy they, who so fully believe in Him as to be able to cast on Him every burden and every care.
We answer, a belief in Jesus comprehends a belief in Him as sufficient to accomplish the purpose of God, in sending Him into the world. A belief that He is stronger than the "strong man armed," and competent to bind and destroy him. (Matt. 12:29; Heb. 2:14.) That "He gave His life a ransom for all to be testified (to them) in due time." (1 Tim. 2:6.)
Finally, to believe the words quoted at the head of this article, that in his Father's house (Kingdom) are many mansions (conditions of being) and that what he was going to prepare for his church was not all that is to be attained by God's creatures.
On the contrary, a kingdom had been prepared from the foundation of the world (Matt. 25:34) for the human sons, and though forfeited by man on account of disobedience, is to be restored as taught by all God's prophets, (Acts, 3:21) and all mankind brought back to life, (Jno. 5:28), and given an opportunity to come into harmony with God's laws and need no more.
Thus, as God's children come to a knowledge of his glorious plan, and are enabled to realize that his work is surely going forward to success, doubts and fears give way, rejoicing takes the place of despondency, and with the angelic choir they sing, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and good will to men." – (Luke 2:14.)
So saith the Apostle. Some Christians are paralyzed for life by the monomania of fear. They fear to pray in public. They fear to be singular for right. They are afraid to give to the Lord's cause lest they come to want. They fear to rebuke a brother for his fault. They fear to confess Christ before men. They are afraid to leave an old church or party that has left the truth. They are afraid to espouse a good cause where it is not popular. They fear shadows and fail to secure the substance. They are like the invalid afflicted with the delusion that he was made of brittle clay and if struck would snap into fragments. He was cured by a friend deliberately upsetting him from his carriage, when he arose from the ground sound in mind as well as body. The cure for a foolish fear is faith and a forced obedience of duty. Just as there is one cure for selfishness – self-sacrifice; as there is one cure for spiritual laziness – work, there is one cure for timidity and that is to plunge into a disagreeable duty before the ague shiver has time to come on. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.
Our Lord says, "I will guide thee with mine eye." The eye is very expressive of every emotion of pleasure or pain, and a loving nature, whose delight is in the favor of another, will carefully note the look of approval or disapproval, before a word of commendation or reproof is uttered. Thus our Lord would guide us, but only those whose DELIGHT is in the law of the Lord can be so led. To such loving ones reproof and exhortation are scarcely necessary; they may walk from day to day in delightful communion with God, and even while their human nature is being crucified daily, the new nature may rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
That there is to be a struggle, and a hard one, for the control in our Republic between the people constituting the State, and the ecclesiastics who represent the Romish Church, no rational man who understands the situation can for a moment doubt. In the light of history and reason it seems equally clear, either that the struggle is now to be decided by maintaining against the opposition the supremacy of the State in its right of educator, intellectual and moral, in its administration of justice, in the safety of elections from priestly control, and in every other legitimate exercise of sovereignty – or that if these be yielded through treachery or indifference, the struggle will sooner or later be transferred to the battle-field, and decided in the most terrible of conflicts, a religious war.
"Another indication of the conscious weakness and apprehension of danger in the nominal church, is seen in the effort of the High Church section of the Established Church of England to ingratiate itself with the leading disciples of British Socialism – doubtless desiring to hold the guiding reins of what it astutely imagines to be the force of the future. To this end a series of meetings has been organized in London, under the auspices of the "English Church Union," for the purpose of public discussion and advocacy of what it terms "Christian Socialism." The term is misleading, for the only true Christian Socialism is that union of Christian Believers in love and good works, and natural help and sympathy, taught and enforced by the Word of God, upon the basis of union with Christ. This, however, is very different from what is meant by the two parties it seeks to bring into alliance."
"BIGNESS is not greatness; and he who judges of value by bulk will find himself seriously mistaken. A boulder is larger than a diamond, but is it as valuable? The passion for bigness is found in connection with public assemblies for divine worship. Meetings are held, and a great effort is made to increase their size. Men go for the "big meeting." They publish accounts of crowds which attend, until at last religious interest deteriorates, being overwhelmed by the tide of worldliness. A man who prefers to drink out of a big horse-pond rather than a little spring, might be pleased with such results, but spiritual and discerning Christians have very different thoughts."
AN EXCHANGE says: A man crossed the Mississippi river on the ice, and fearing it was too thin, began to crawl over on his hands and knees in great terror, but just as he gained the opposite shore, all tired out, another man drove past him gayly sitting upon a sled loaded with pig-iron. And for all the world that is just the way most of Christians go to the heavenly Canaan, trembling at every step, lest the promises shall break under our feet, when really they are secure enough for us to hold up our heads and sing with confidence as we march to the better land.
THE STOUTEST TIMBER stands on Norwegian rocks, where tempests rage, and long hard winters reign. The muscles are seen most fully developed in the brawny arm that plies the blacksmith's hammer. Even so the most vigorous and healthy piety is that which is the busiest, which has difficulties to battle with, which has its hands full of good works, which has neither time nor room for evil, but, aiming at great things both for God and man, promptly and summarily dismisses temptations with Nehemiah's answer, "I have a great work to do, therefore I cannot come down."