BUSINESS OFFICE: NO. 40 FEDERAL ST. ALLEGHENY, PA.
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.
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.
We take pleasure in announcing to our German friends, that we have commenced a German edition of the TOWER, the first number of which goes forth this month. It will be a monthly, of eight pages, smaller than the English edition: price, 25 cents per year. The Lord seemed to set before us an open door in this direction, and to the extent of our ability we go forward to enter it by starting this paper. You also have a privilege in connection with this work. It is for you to scatter sample copies, and to awaken an interest in it among earnest German Christians. Do your part well, and while you pray, labor also and sacrifice in the spread of the "glad tidings." Send in subscriptions and orders for sample copies at once.
The outlook at the opening of the New Year has some very encouraging features. The outward evidences are that the marshalling of the hosts for the battle of the great day of God Almighty, is in progress while the skirmishing is commencing. While the Protestant (?) sects are coming daily into closer sympathy with the "Mother Church," as they rightly call the Church of Rome, the governments are doing likewise. The latest proof of this is found in dispatches dated January 1, 1886, in which it is announced that the Prussian government, which for several years past has been at enmity with the Church of Rome, proscribing many of her priests and bishops, declaring that the influence of Papacy is contrary to the peace and prosperity of the Empire, is now come into perfect harmony; and the Pope has decorated Prince Bismarck with the "Order of Christ," the badge of which is richly set in diamonds. This present was accompanied by an autograph letter from the Pope, and in return Emperor William of Prussia has decorated the Pope's chief secretary, Cardinal Jacobini, with the "Order of the Black Eagle," the most honorable decoration of the Prussians.
What of this you ask? A fulfilling of prophecy we reply. In the battle already beginning, we are clearly told that there will be a general division of the world into two contending parties. The kings, chief men, and mighty or influential men, the wealthy and the worldly great, are all on one side the battle, and with them the symbolic beast (Papacy) and Protestantism. All these unite their efforts, realizing that they must stand or fall together. (Rev. 19:18-20.) On the other side is the now present Lord, who, having taken his great power, begins the work of blessing the world by smiting down the oppressors – oppressive errors, and those influenced by the spirit of those errors, who attempt to monopolize the favors of God both temporal and spiritual, and to oppress the people in their own advancement.
But who are with the Lord in this great work of smiting down error and oppression? The kings of earth? No. Financiers and capitalists? No; their interests are on the other side the question also. And where will the professed ministers of Christ stand who were sent to declare the good tidings of the deliverance which the King of kings is now bringing about? Where will the dignitaries and the influence of the Nominal Church be found? With the Lord? Ah, no; they have become so identified with the world that their interests will be bound up together, and their influence will be given on the side of error and oppression, on the side of kings and capitalists from whom they receive their support and upon whom they have become dependent.
Who then are with the King of kings in this conflict? Those close to him, his "regular army" are few – a little flock. Among these his followers, all faithful and true, are not many great, or rich, or mighty, according to the course of this world; but they are all rich in faith – chosen and faithful. (Rev. 18:14.) But the new and rightful King has an immense army of "irregulars" in every kind of uniform (except the white of the "regulars") Communists, Infidels, Socialists, Anarchists, Nihilists; all these fight in the battle of the great day, though ignorant of him whose kingdom they help to establish. These are the vultures of Rev. 19:17,18,21, who battle for plunder and get their fill in the overturning of earth's kingdoms; because the time is come for the Messiah to take the dominion of earth and to overthrow the oppressors and corrupters of the earth, (Rev. 19:15 and 11:17,18) preparatory to the establishment of everlasting peace upon the only firm foundation of righteousness and truth.
Meantime, while those who are in opposition to the kingdom of God and its scepter of righteousness, impartiality and justice, are being gathered to the great slaughter referred to above, (See Luke 19:27) the Lord's professed Church is having its trial completed. Its testing "so as by fire" is being accomplished, and the stewards are being heard as to the faithfulness or slothfulness of their stewardship. (Luke 19:15.) We see and feel this daily also, another evidence that the time for the glorifying of the Church, the body of Christ, is nigh at hand, after which they will shortly be manifested for the joy and blessing of the groaning creation. Rom. 8:19-23.
From the TOWER it seems evident that the deeply interested are daily becoming more so, as inspired by the truth they are making effort at the cost of inconvenience and sacrifices of various kinds to spread the glad tidings; while others who love the present world and its honors and comforts are becoming more and more cold and indifferent. This, too, is what we should expect. We are in the testing time, and must take our stand on one side or the other.
Many who inquired for the "suggestions" offered in our issue of September last, and engaged more actively in the work, are finding it a favorable opportunity for reaching hearing ears; and more than that we notice that their own hearts are being enkindled with the flame of the heavenly love in the message which they bear to those who sit in gross darkness all around them.
Financially also the outlook is more favorable than last year. The receipts of the "Tract Fund," from the sale of the Florida Lands donated a year ago, together with the voluntary donations received during the year past, have enabled considerable work to be done besides well nigh wiping out the debt that was upon us for some years previous. See statement of Secretary in another column.
All this is encouraging, and in the name of the Master, we bid his faithful ones be of good cheer, and of thankful heart; while we trust that we all shall be more faithful and more used in the blessed service during the year begun, and that it shall be yet more rich in grace, knowledge, love, and good works of faithful stewardship, let us render thanks for the favors and blessings past; for by the grace of God we are what and where we are.
To all the readers of the TOWER the Editor sends greeting and best wishes for the year 1886. May it be to all of you "A Happy New Year." Happy may ye be because of God's favors, realizing them in all the affairs of life, especially in the increasing knowledge of His plan and word of truth; in the privilege of suffering reproach and dishonor for the truth's sake, rejoicing and being exceeding glad that He counts you worthy to thus share the sufferings of Christ. (Acts 5:41.) May you have abundant and well improved opportunity for suffering reproach for the name of Christ and in suffering for well doing. (1 Pet. 4:14-16.) And being thus proved worthy of the everlasting glory reserved in heaven for such as thus follow in the Master's footsteps, may you have at the same time the joy of the Lord, rejoicing with an unwavering hope in "the glory that shall be revealed in us." Rom. 8:18.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: I take this opportunity of writing to you, being requested by Bro.__________ to send you the enclosed one dollar in payment for the WATCH TOWER. To use his own language, it supplies a long-felt want and furnishes him with the food most necessary to him. Bro.__________ was baptised according to appointment stated in my last letter to you. Quite a crowd gathered on the beach of Lake Michigan where the ceremony was performed. We had a good time, and the Lord was present, we believe, to own and accept the ratification of the covenant of sacrifice.
Though compelled to labor six days in the week for support of self and family, I am still able to do a little for the Master on the Lord's day. I am engaged at present in preaching and Bible reading at a neighboring school-house. The interest, I am encouraged to hope is increasing. Since the baptism of Bro. __________ I find myself denounced from the pulpits of the nominal Church. The different sects here, while disagreeing with each other, all unite in denouncing me, but "great is my boldness of speech." I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in tribulation." It is a sign to me that I am walking in the light as God is in the light. Praise the Lord O my soul and all that is within me praise his holy name. The church here unite with me in sending greetings, with love to all in the faith and hope of the gospel.
Your Brother in Christ,
MR. C. T. RUSSELL, MY DEAR SIR AND BROTHER: – I desire to become more familiar with the truth as expounded by you in your publications. Some time ago I received a WATCH TOWER and your Food for Thinking Christians, and I confess it has disturbed my old beliefs wonderfully. As a Methodist preacher for sixteen years, now acting pastor of a little Congregational church here, I have of course imbibed and upheld [R808 : page 2] what is called orthodoxy. But I am disgusted with sectarianism; with its narrowness and domineering, titled ministry, who lord it over God's heritage, and I am now drinking at the fountain of all truth, and henceforth am a New Testament theologian independent of philosophy and church creeds and antiquated scholasticism. The doctrine of the "restitution" is very attractive to me and explains away many difficulties that have burdened my mind. But I desire more light. I am in a little child attitude, teachable and hungry for the truth.
I have not reached the point and never shall when I shall say, "My mind is all made up," and henceforth there is no more investigation. No! This is a dangerous state to be in. Let me range the fields of truth and glean what I can from every source. I am a firm believer in conditioned immortality and the soul-ical nature of man as taught in the Bible. I now see that death is not eternal life in misery. I can see that the final end of sin and sinners is destruction, ceasing to be of all vital existence or being. There are some texts that seem to contradict at present the doctrine of Restitution, and your comments and explanations will aid me very much.
I have lived on ordained dignity long enough. It is the driest bone I ever picked, and I am ready to throw up the whole thing and become one of the Lord's little ones and preach Jesus and the Resurrection as never before.
My TOWER is an old one, and I don't know where your present address is, so I hesitate in this to send you much money till I hear from you. Then I will enclose some money to help in this good cause.
BROTHER RUSSELL: – Please present the enclosed amount, $5.00 in the name of our dear Lord and Master, to our brother, Otto Von Zech, who has left all to follow Him. "For all things come of Thee, and of Thine own have we given Thee."
I am still striving for the mastery, through many trials and temptations. Remember me in earnest supplications to Him. Your sister in Christ,
DEAR SIR AND BROTHER: – Your reminiscences in the October number of the TOWER set me to thinking if there was not some sacrifice I could make to help replenish the Lord's treasury, and as a result I send you an express package (a gold watch and chain) with this, which you may put to what use you think best. It was a gift from my (earthly) father and required a struggle to part with it, but I reasoned that if I had consecrated my all to God that this was his, and I had no right to keep it to myself. I may have erred in sending it to you instead of first converting it into cash, but I thought that you could probably dispose of it to better advantage than I could. I have felt for some time that I must be a member of the feet class, not seemingly possessing other talents, and my inability to do much in this way has troubled me a great deal. But I leave it all with God. If I do my best I know that he will be satisfied. I have had no success with others yet. Our city is called the City of Churches, and verily it is filled with the worshipers of the Beast and his Image.
[A watch being almost a necessity we felt it to be the Lord's will that we should return it, and we did so. The sister can now prize it yet more, as a gift from her heavenly as well as her earthly father. The chain we disposed of as requested.] page 2
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I again drop you a few lines to let you know how the work of the Lord is progressing in this part of the field. I promised when I accepted the offer to work in the harvest of the Master, that I would set apart one day of each week to that work. I engaged in the work in earnest, and I became so used to telling the story of what great things the Lord has done for us, and I loved to tell that story so well that I find I have given at least half of my time; and the field of labor seems to open larger before me; so the Lord only knows where my labor will end... I have acted in good faith and with an eye to the promise that is to the faithful.
Yours in fellowship and love,
DEAR BROTHER: – We are rejoicing with you that you are encouraged by seeing some fruit of your labors; and tender through you, to our brother and sister Zech, heartfelt Christian greetings. Thousands of miles away we are rejoicing as if present. Shall be very glad to have two dozen copies of the German tract.
It is a trial – must be a necessary one or I would not have it – not to be able to send substantial aid to Brother von Zech. It is impossible at present. In the path of duty "The Lord will provide."
I have the honor to report the matters of Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society financially and otherwise, for the year ending December 21, 1885, as follows:
Indebtedness January 1, 1885............. $2446.01 Expended during the year 1885 in publications, etc., etc................. 2531.76 -------- Total................................... $4977.77 Voluntary contributions for the year: " to English Fund...... $2535.16 " to Swedish " ...... 34.19 " to German " ...... 46.00 -------- Total......................... $2615.35 Receipts from sale of Florida Lands donated to Society...... 1846.25 -------- Total Receipts 1885........... $4461.60 Deduct Receipts from Expenditures........ $4461.60 -------- Balance of debt still owing............. $ 516.17
Thus seen we have cancelled our debt to the extent of $1929.84, besides expending $2531.76 in the work. The results of these donations cannot be correctly estimated yet; we may be enabled to judge of it more fully and more correctly when the Master makes up the accounts of the Stewards, and makes known the results obtained in his name by the use of his "talents" entrusted to us for use in his service. But we can give some basis for calculating when we say, that from this fund we published during the year 1885, reading matter explanatory of our blessed hopes aggregating 3,086,000 pages of the usual tract or book size. Of these 160,000 were German the remainder in the English language – mostly "Food" and special numbers of the TOWER adapted to new readers.
At present there are about three hundred colporteurs at work in the vineyard earnestly laboring for the good of their fellow beings and for the "well done" of the Master, disseminating these publications. The only wonder is that more do not appreciate their privilege of being co-workers together with God in this way. We each should ask himself – What am I doing to herald the blessed gospel which did so much for my own heart? How am I manifesting to God my appreciation of his grace bestowed upon me? Very truly your servant in Christ.
The "Higher Criticism" which has undertaken to reconstruct all ancient records, which re-wrote the History of Rome for the first five centuries, pronounced Troy a myth, and has sought to invalidate or correct the Bible history, frequently makes such blunders and mistakes that all but the critics themselves will soon doubt its infallibility. The Troy of Priam, that they decided had never existed, has been unearthed by Schliemann, with its Scaean gates and Pergamos. At Mykenae he has found probably the very bones of Agamemnon, and the golden masks in which he and his friends were buried. The libraries of old Assyrian and Babylonian kings have also been brought to light by recent discoveries, and found to be rich in confirmations of the Bible story. They contain accounts of the confusion of tongues at Babel and of the flood, as well as many other illustrations of the sacred history. To two of these we invite the attention of our readers.
The prophet Isaiah (chapter 20:1) names an Assyrian king called Sargon. He was, as far as we know, mentioned by no other historian. Berosus and Herodotus were silent concerning him. Not another voice out of all the history of the past was raised to tell that he had ever lived. The critics did not hesitate to declare that this silence proved that he never had an existence. They held that it convicted Isaiah of a mistake and a want of inspired guidance. For twenty-five centuries the only intimation the world had that Sargon had ever lived was found in this passage of the Hebrew prophet.
But the Bible was right and the critics were wrong. The Assyrian discoveries have given us his full history. We are even permitted to study the royal archives of his reign. He was a founder of a dynasty, the father of Sennacherib, and one of the greatest monarchs that ever occupied the Assyrian throne.
Another example. The Bible makes the Hittites a great people in the earliest ages. They are contemporaries of Abraham, Moses and Joshua. A recent writer says: "We see their serried lines of chariots opposing Joshua on his entrance into the Promised Land, and in the decisive battle by Lake Merom. We see their soldiers of fortune leading the hosts of David and Solomon, and their women in the harems of the same powerful monarchs; and finally we see the Syrian army flying in panic from the siege of Samaria for fear of the kings of the Hittites." The Scriptural writers make them a great and powerful people. But no trace of the Hittites has been found in classical history. In fact, of all known records, the Bible excepted, not one had one word in regard to this people. So the destructive critics on the Continent and their imitators in England, with various degrees of emphasis, asserted that these Scriptural recognitions of the Hittites had no foundation in fact, that no such people had existed during Old Testament times; that this part of the Jewish history was indisputably not true, and that this want of accuracy destroyed the theory of inspiration as well as credibility of the record.
For a long time no answer could be given that would silence objections. Not a line had been preserved elsewhere concerning this people in all the history of the ancient world. It was held to be impossible that a race of such prominence could have lived, flourished and passed away without leaving traces elsewhere. "The critical method had proved the Bible to be wrong." So the critics said.
But the march of modern discovery has proved that it was the critics who were wrong. In 1872 there were found at Hamath, not far from Damascus, inscriptions that were of Hittite origin. Soon after additional testimony came from Egypt. As the monuments there are more carefully examined, and as the work of deciphering inscriptions proceeded, behold the Hittites appear as one of the enemies most feared by the [R819 : page 2] Egyptians, as a great people, occupying a vast territory, and as one of the chief of then existing peoples. Nor was this all; the Assyrian tablets and cylinders added their testimony, and carried the history of the Hittites back to nineteen hundred years before Christ, declaring that at that remote period they were a mighty people. Their remains have been found from the borders of Egypt to the Euphrates and northward to Asia Minor, proving that they occupied a large part of Western Asia and were a mighty race.
Thus are the critics put to shame. So will it always be. We may sometimes have to wait for further light in order to silence them, but in due time it will come. "We have not followed cunningly-devised fables," but the word of eternal truth. The storms of error may beat upon it and seem for a time to prevail, but it will stand, for "it is founded upon a rock."– Evangelist.
For pleasure or pain, for weal or for woe,
'Tis the law of our being – we reap as we sow:
We may try to evade them; may do what we will,
But our acts, like our shadows, will follow us still.
The world is a wonderful chemist, be sure,
And detects in a moment the base or the pure:
We may boast of our claims to genius or birth,
But the world takes a man for just what he is worth.
Are you wearied and worn in this hard earthly strife?
Do you yearn for affection to sweeten your life?
Remember this great truth has often been proved –
We must make ourselves lovable would we be loved.
Though life may appear a desolate track,
Yet the bread we cast on the water comes back.
This law was enacted by heaven above –
That like begets like and love begets love,
We are proud of our mansions of mortar and stone;
In our gardens are flowers from every zone;
But the beautiful graces which blossom within,
Grow shriveled and die in the Upas of sin.
We make ourselves heroes and martyrs for gold,
'Till health becomes broken and youth becomes old:
Ah! did we the same for a beautiful love,
Our lives might be music for angels above.
We reap what we sow – oh, wonderful truth! –
A truth hard to learn in the days of our youth;
But it shines out at last, as the "hand on the wall,"
For the world has its "debit" and "credit" for all.
1. In righteousness begin the year.
2. Be strong; believe; cast out thy fear.
3. Trust thou in God, He will thee save.
4. Fight the good fight of faith, be brave.
5. With energy pursue life's race.
6. Soon thou may'st see the Saviour's face.
7. The Morning dawns! Thy blessed Lord is here.
8. As Steward, now, unto the King give an account.
9. Error and sin, twin monsters, cast ye down.
10. To overcomers there's a crown.
11. By grace we conquer in the strife.
12. The gift of God – eternal life.
13. Turn not the wand'rer from thy door –
14. Blessed are they who feed the poor.
15. This be thy prayer, "Thy kingdom come."
16. O Father, lead thy people home!
17. Forgive as we forgive, O Lord.
18. My trust will I put in thy word.
19. No longer in sin's by-ways roam.
20. The Spirit and the Bride say come.
21. The harvest passes, summer ends.
22. Some spurn the mercy heaven sends.
23. Drink deep the heavenly waters bright.
24. Flee from the darkness, walk in light.
25. Lo! "Rock of Ages cleft for thee."
26. Into the sacred shelter flee!
27. Swift passeth moments, hours and days.
28. Forget not to give God due praise.
29. Above all things, keep thyself pure.
30. God's promises are ever sure.
31. They're saved who to the end endure.
"So account of us, as of the servants of Christ, and stewards of the manifold mysteries of God. Moreover it is required of stewards that a man be found faithful." 1 Cor. 4:1,2.
There is a sense in which all men are stewards. Every good gift comes from the Creator, either directly or indirectly, and every man possessing means or talents should recognize them as trust loans under his temporary control. But in a much more particular sense the consecrated, the saints, are God's stewards, and of such Paul is here writing.
Once we were under condemnation, even as the world still is. We, through faith, are reckoned as having escaped the condemnation; we are cleansed; we are justified freely from all things through faith in the blood of atonement. Thus (reckonedly) made free from sin and death – and (reckonedly) restored to the perfect manhood and its rights, enjoyed before sin and condemnation, we had something which we could offer to God – something (reckonedly) clean and pure and acceptable to God, viz., our justified selves. When we gave our ALL to God, it included mind, body, time, talents, money, influence, reputation – all.
Paul informs us that all such sacrifices (previously justified, i.e., reckoned clean and fit through faith in the ransom) are "acceptable to God" (1 Pet. 2:5). But how does God accept of them? We answer, By making us the stewards of all those talents, etc., which we consecrated to him. So then, our stewardship is a very special one. If we consecrated all to God, we have nothing, and should not once think of the things consecrated as ours; they are no more ours than the possessions, time, talents or money of another man are ours. When you consecrated all – even unto death – you became reckonedly dead, as a human being and to earthly ambitions, and reckonedly alive, as a "new creature," of a new, a spiritual nature, so that really, considered from this standpoint, we should think and act thus: I am now (reckonedly) a spiritual or heavenly being; my riches, my home, my honor, my every interest is now in heaven; but I am now here on earth, as a messenger or servant of God, entrusted with the responsibility of disposing of the earthly things once mine, (redeemed by Jesus, and then by me consecrated to God,) to the best possible advantage for the advancement of the Lord's cause – His children and His truth.
O that all the consecrated may more fully realize themselves as the Lord's Stewards, or Executors, appointed to administer upon their own Wills. How it would destroy the I, my, mine spirit, to realize that the I that once was is no more, but is dead; that "I live, yet not I," my former self; that I is dead; but Christ liveth in me; that I, as a member of the Christ, a spiritual creature, now live. The feeling, then, should be, I want to spend, fully and promptly, yet wisely as possible, the Master's goods, time, talent, money, influence, etc., put into my hands for disposal, anxious only that every farthing of it shall be so spent as the Master's Word directs, and as His example illustrated.
Ah, if it were thus, what an earnest offering, and what a zeal to dispose of the "goods" in their hands there would be on the part of the stewards. They would be earnestly seeking and watching for good opportunities to dispose of the consecrated "stuff." Soon influence would lose its present high premium, and time, and talent, and money, in the Lord's work would be more abundant.
Some get the mistaken idea that a steward is not expected to spend that committed to his care unless circumstances demand it of him. This is a great mistake; it is part of a steward's business to look up opportunities for using the "goods" committed to his charge. This is the clear teaching of Matt. 25:27: "Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with interest." Such diligence in seeking and finding ways and means to dispose of our consecrated talents to God's glory, and to the advancement of His truth, is essential to faithful stewardship, (Matt. 25:21) and any other course is a violation of covenant; and he who does so, is an "unprofitable servant" (25:29). It is thus that Paul reasoned when he wrote, It is required of stewards that they be found faithful, and it was thus that he practiced, also. He was a faithful steward indeed ever seeking new and greater opportunities to spend and be spent in the heavenly service. And as always, "He that seeketh findeth."
But says one, Can it be that God demanded this of us? Ah, no dear friend, you seem not to understand the matter at all. The sacrifices which we make are not to meet the demands of God's justice; those demands were all fully met more than eighteen centuries ago and there are no such demands now against those who come unto God by way of faith in the redemption. But, God has purposed the selection of a "little flock" to be the Bride and joint heir with Christ Jesus of the eternal glory and tells us that He seeketh such to be conformed to the divine image of His Son, as prove themselves earnestly desirous and worthy of that honor by freely and gladly surrendering their little all of earthly valuables (?) a sacrifice to His cause.
It is because you declared it your desire to thus sacrifice, that he appointed you a steward of your own gifts and talents. If now you regret the consecration, and desire to be excused from faithful service as the Lord's steward, nothing is more evident than that you are "not fit for the kingdom" honors, "No man having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62). Such are unworthy to be of the Bride and joint heir with Christ, whatever else they might be fitted for. This is evident because the very TEST which the Lord applies, by which to select the "little flock" proves those unfaithful and unworthy who desire to shirk the opportunities for service.
Peter tells us that we are stewards of the many and various favors of God (1 Pet. 4:10) and should so use them as to be "good stewards." And not only [R820 : page 3] are we stewards of the consecrated money, goods, time and talents in our hands be they little or much; but in the text at the head of this article Paul mentions specially, the fact that we are stewards of the mysteries of God's plan. In addition to our own consecrated powers to use, God gives us a glad glorious message to the world the "good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people" ultimately, but which now is vailed, from the world and is to them mysteries or hidden secrets. To receive the "good news" is to become a steward of it, and brings the opportunity and the incentive also for carrying out the original stewardship. It furnishes a reason as well as an opportunity, for wise and diligent use of every talent under the steward's charge.
It is required of a steward that a man be found faithful to his trust, and if unfaithful in administering upon the poor little valuables (?) which we ourselves consecrated, should we expect to have entrusted to us the greater authority and stewardship of the future? If we would rob God of the things we ourselves gave him in consecration; if we are unfaithful as stewards and appropriate to ourselves the "loss and dross," the gilded trinkets of the present, can we expect him who knoweth the heart to entrust to such care the true riches of his glory and kingdom.
Every steward should speedily look up his accounts and see to it that however the past has been, in the future he will be faithful. All such will hear the Master's voice say, "Well done! good and faithful servant enter into the joys of thy Lord."
"For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labor; yet what I shall choose, I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt the two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ: which is far better." – Phil. 1:21-23.
There are few passages of Scripture more frequently quoted, or, rather, misquoted and misapplied, than this. It is the favorite text for funeral discourses, and is inscribed upon innumerable tombstones, and repeated by religious teachers as the devout wish of Paul's heart, and the appropriate sentiment of every Christian heart, in view of death. These are the words that are attributed to the apostle Paul; and when taken in the sense in which they were evidently uttered they are every way creditable to his unselfish heart, and his supreme devotion to the service of Christ. But it may well be questioned whether the sentiment that has been put into them, in our version, and the sense in which they are generally taken, ever entered his mind, much less ever found any expression in any of his writings.
He is supposed to be considering the question, Whether it would be better for himself, to continue his self-denying labors for Christ till he should be called to his reward in heaven, or to die now, and go at once to glory; and though perplexed in view of these two alternatives, he feels that it would be real gain to himself and far better, to die now and go immediately to his reward in heaven, and he actually most earnestly desired this.
It is true, our English version seems to sustain this view, and, no doubt, the translators had this thought in their own minds, and so they put it into the rendering of this passage. But I am persuaded that a more careful examination of the text in the original, and of the context, will show that the "gain" he is here speaking of is not gain to himself, but to the cause of Christ, and the "departure" he is represented as desiring so earnestly is not his own departure from life, but the departure, or, rather, the return – for this is what the word really signifies – of Christ; for this rendering is quite as close to the original Greek, and in accord with the grammar of the language, and it harmonizes infinitely better with what he has just been saying, and with the character of the man, and, indeed, with the letter and spirit of all his teachings, and with the teaching of the Scriptures generally.
This most affectionate and tender epistle to the Philippians was written while he was a prisoner at Rome. His life was in jeopardy, depending on the caprice of the Emperor. He knew not what would be the issue. But, instead of repining and complaining of his hard lot, he even exults and rejoices that his bonds have been the occasion of making Christ more widely known throughout the palace, and elsewhere, and that the disciples of Christ, by his example, had been confirmed in their faith, and emboldened "to speak the word without fear."
Again: He rejoices that even the contentions which had sprung up among them had contributed to the spread of the knowledge of the gospel, and though his enemies had desired "to add affliction to his bonds" by their manner of preaching Christ, he still rejoiced, and would rejoice that Christ was preached. Indeed, he was so devoted to this one object of making Christ known to others that he had utterly lost sight of every other interest. He had entirely gone out of himself, and had centered all his thoughts, hopes, desires and efforts in Christ. He was determined to know nothing else, nor did he, but Christ and him crucified. He was full of joy in the assurance that whatever might be his own lot, Christ would be honored, and in this he rejoiced. Hence he says, in the verse immediately preceding the passage under consideration, "According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also, Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or death." Mark the expression whether it be by life or death. Then follows this utterance, which is but the repetition of the same sentiment in another form – Emoi gar to zen Christos, kai to apothanen, kerdos: which literally translated is, "For me therefore to live, Christ, and to die, gain." This last word, kerdos which is here translated "gain" would better have been translated, benefit, advantage, profit. This is what it means; and then the idea would have been more clearly expressed. But as it is, there is [R820 : page 4] nothing in the text itself to show whether this gain or advantage or benefit is to accrue to himself, or to the cause of Christ; for the passage is very elliptical; but the context, and especially the preceding verse, most evidently shows that he is speaking of the benefit or gain, which his death by martyrdom would bring the cause of Christ. For if his imprisonment and ill treatment had been made to contribute to this end, inasmuch as he had endured them with so much Christian fortitude and patience, how much more his heroic death as a martyr for Christ? Indeed this is his joyful assurance, as he just said – "Christ shall be magnified in my body whether it be by life or death." Then he goes on to say: For or rather "therefore," – for this little word, gar connects the two sentences – therefore for me to live, and for me to die, in either case for Christ would be gain or benefit. It is impossible that Paul should drop down so suddenly from his supreme devotion to the cause in which he had so entirely lost sight of himself, as to speak of his own personal gain by dying, and to contrast this with what he might accomplish by continuing to live and labor for Christ. This would not be at all like this great apostle, indeed, it would be entirely out of harmony with what he had just been saying, nor can this selfish sentiment be found in the language he used, unless it be first injected into the passage by the reader: much less can we believe that after confessing that the advantages to the cause of Christ were so nearly balanced in his own mind, that he did not know which to choose, he actually did earnestly desire one of these same alternatives, because it would be gain to himself.
Surely, he would not stultify himself by saying that he did not know which of two alternatives to choose, and then, in the next breath express his earnest preference for one of them? But this is just the inconsistency and folly that our common version of this verse charges upon him, thus: for I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better." The Greek word to analusai, here rendered "to depart," is composed of two words, ana, again or back again, and luo or lusai, "to loosen," "to let go," "to cast off," as a ship the lines that hold her to the wharf – "to leave" either to go or to come; but with the prefix ana it means to leave any place for the purpose of returning or coming back. It may have the meaning of "depart," but the prefix ana gives it the sense of again, or rather to come back or return. Let it be observed also, that the only other place in which this word analusai occurs in the Scriptures, is in Luke 12:36, and here our translators have rendered it "return:" "Let your loins be girded about and your lights be burning: and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord, when he will return (analusai) from the wedding."
There is no reason whatever why this word should not have had the same rendering – "return" in this passage, but that our translators had another idea in their own minds. They thought Paul believed, as they themselves did, that on dying a Christian goes immediately to Christ, and enters at once into heavenly glory, and that this was the gain Paul was thinking of; and hence they make him say he has a "desire to depart and be with Christ which is far better." And so they not only make him contradict himself, – for he has said he did not know which to choose, – but they put a forced meaning into this word analusas, which actually means "return," and which they have so translated in the only other place where it occurs. This word is in the infinitive mood and is used as a noun: (eis, to analusai) and is the object of the preposition (eis) "for," and should be rendered "having a desire for the Return." This was the great object of desire and of expectation of all the early disciples, and of which Paul often speaks – His coming in glory and power to set up his kingdom on the earth, to complete the work which he had only inaugurated by his first coming – his second advent to raise the saints who were sleeping in death, to change those who were living, to judge the world and purify it by the utter destruction of Satan and all his hosts, and to begin the everlasting reign of righteousness and peace, which had been so fully promised to them.
"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others, which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this I say unto you, by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then, we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord." This is what Paul means in the passage we are considering by the return, and the being – (einai, another word in the infinitive used as a noun,) with the Lord, which is far better. Far better than what? Far better than either of the alternatives, between which he did not know which to choose. This is evidently a third object. It is a side thought, introduced by way of parenthesis – a practice so common to the apostle – and then leaving it, he goes on with the main current of his letter, and tells them how confident he is that he will be spared to them "for the furtherance of their joy."
What if the apostles and primitive disciples were in error respecting the time of our Lord's return, and supposed it might occur in their day? It was not an injurious error. Indeed it served to keep them active and vigilant in their Master's service, and to cheer and to comfort them in their trials. Would that the same expectation had been kept alive in every subsequent age – and especially, that this same expectation and hope were more operative at the present day – for surely, everything concurs to assure us that this long expected – long delayed consummation, must be near, very near at hand. But this mistake of these early disciples was not so great a mistake even with regard to its nearness, as may appear to us who look back upon them from this age, and count the generations that have come and gone since their day, for the lapse of time is as nothing to those who are sleeping in their graves. To those who fall asleep in Jesus, the very next event of which they are conscious – if I correctly understand the teachings of the Scripture – is the coming of the Lord, and we shall see him together. We are expressly told in the passage just cited, that those who are alive shall not have any advantage of those who are asleep and conversely those who are asleep shall not prevent these who are alive. We all shall be caught up together in the clouds to meet him in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. "Wherefore comfort one another with these words."
We are not to comfort each other – with the assurance that our friends go immediately into their promised inheritance, and beguile ourselves with the thought that those who have gone before us, are now rejoicing in the full possession of eternal glory, and that death is the gate by which we enter one after another into heavenly bliss, in the presence of our Lord, – or rather that death is the kind of messenger that Jesus sends to call us to him. I find no such teaching in the Scriptures, though our hymn-books are full of it. Death is everywhere represented as an enemy, the king of terrors, the great enemy. But it is indeed the last enemy that we have to encounter. He has been conquered by him in whom we trust, "the sting of death which is sin" is come already. He can do us no real harm, nor when our Lord shall come to call us can he hold us any longer in his power. But it is only when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, that we shall appear with him in glory – not before. "There is, indeed, laid up for us a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge shall give to us at that day, and not to us only, but unto all them that love his appearing."
Safe in his keeping, we can well afford to wait in peaceful unconscious sleep, till the place he has gone to prepare for us, is ready for our occupancy. For he says, "Let not your heart 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. And if I go to prepare a place, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there ye may be also."
In view of these passages, and of others I might quote, and of the reasons I have given, I cannot but think that this is the true understanding of the text under consideration. Indeed, when I see how this construction is required to make it harmonize with the language and sentiment of the context, as well as with the spirit and character of the Apostle, I cannot put any other construction upon it. He writes this epistle to comfort and encourage the hearts of his dear friends at Philippi, who had expressed such concern for him, and had sympathized so deeply with him in the trials that had come upon him, and in the danger to which he was now exposed. He tells them, that, so far from being cast down, he exults and rejoices that all these troubles had been made to contribute to the furtherance of the gospel and the confirmation of the faith of the disciples at Rome; and he felt assured that whatever might be the issue to himself personally, Christ could be magnified in his "body, whether it be by life or by death," and that if his life should be spared, it would be for Christ that he would live and labor; and that if he should be put to death, his martyrdom would still operate to bring gain or advantage to the same cause. So that he really did not know which to choose – nor did he choose – but there was one thing he did earnestly desire – the return of his Lord, which would be far better than either.
I know that those who hold to the very popular notion that dying saints do not wait in sleep for Christ to come and call them, as he promises, but that they go themselves at once, into his presence and to their reward in heaven, will object strenuously to the rendering I have given. For this text, as it is commonly rendered, seems to confirm their view. Indeed it is the one main support of this doctrine. It would be difficult for them to make a plausible argument for their doctrine without it. It is quite natural that they should be loath to give it up.
But if they will for a moment consider how unworthy and inconsistent is the sentiment they attribute to the Apostle Paul, how out of character it is with his whole manner of life, and how it conflicts with what he is saying, and even makes him contradict and stultify himself, by declaring he did not know which of two alternatives to choose, and then immediately expressing his earnest desire for one of them, I think they will be constrained to admit – however reluctant they may be to do it, that the rendering I offer them is, no doubt, the one that should be preferred and accepted.– J. H. Pettingell.
"The watchman said, The morning cometh" (Isa. 21:12), and though, while making this answer, he forewarns us of night, he also assures us of the morning. There is a morning, says he, therefore do not give way to faintness of spirit; but there is a night between, therefore take warning, that you may not be surprised nor dismayed, as if the promise were broken, or some strange thing allowed to befall you.
There may be delay, he intimates, before the morning – a dark delay, for which we should be prepared. During this he calls for watchfulness, for the length of the night is hidden, the time of daybreak is uncertain. We must be on the outlook, with our eyes fixed on the eastern hills. We have nothing wherewith to measure the hours, save the sorrows of the church and the failing of hearts.
During this delay the watchman encourages us to "inquire," to "return," to "come." He expects us to ask "how long," and say "when will the night be done?" He takes for granted that such will be the proceeding of men who really long for the morning. To the hills of Seir they will again and again return, to learn of the watchman what is the promise of the day; for no familiarity with the night can ever reconcile them to darkness, or make morning less desirable and welcome.
It is right for us to desire the morning, to hope for it, to inquire as to the signs of it hour after hour. God has set this joy before us, and it were strange indeed if, when compassed about with so many sorrows, we should forget it, or be heedless as to its arrival; for the coming of the morning is the coming of him whom we long to see. It is the coming of him "who turneth the shadow of death into the morning" (Amos 5:8). It is the return of him whose absence has been night, and whose presence will be day. It is the return of him who is the resurrection and the life, and who brings resurrection with him; the return of him who is creation's Lord, and who brings with him deliverance to creation; the return of him who is the Church's Head, and who brings with him triumph and gladness to his Church.
All the joy, the calm, the revivifying [R820 : page 5] freshness of the morning, are wrapt up in him. When he appears, day appears, life appears, fruitfulness appears. The curse departs. The "bondage of corruption" is no more. Clouds, storms, troubles, sorrows vanish. The face of nature reassumes the smile of unfallen times. It is earth's festival, the world's jubilee. "The heavens rejoice, the earth is glad, the sea roars and the fullness thereof, the fields are joyful and all that is therein, the trees of the wood rejoice, the floods clap their hands, and the hills are joyful together before the Lord; for he has come, for he has come to judge the earth; with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with his truth" (Psa. 96:11; 98:7).
This morning has been long anticipated. Age after age it has attracted the Church's eye, and fixed her hope. On the promise of it her faith has been resting, and towards the hastening of it her prayers have gone forth. Though afar off, it has been described, and rejoiced in as the sure consummation towards which all things are moving forward according to the Father's purpose. "There is a morning" has been the word of consolation brought home to the burdened heart of many a saint when ready to say, with David, "I am desolate!" or with Jeremiah, "He hath set me in dark places as they that be dead of old."
Let us dwell for a little time on some of these Old Testament allusions to the morning. Let us take first the Thirtieth Psalm.
David had been in sorrow, and in coming out of it he makes known to the saints his consolations: "Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. For there is but a moment in his anger; in his favor is life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning" (Psa. 30:4,5).
The earnest of that morning he hath tasted, but the morning itself he anticipates. Then joy has come. Then he can say, (verse 11) "Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing; thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness." But it is the voice of a greater than David that is heard in this Psalm. It is one of Christ's resurrection Psalms, the 18th and the 16th. He was "lifted up," so that his foes were not made to rejoice over him. He cried and was "healed." His "soul was brought up from the grave." There was anger against him "for a moment," when he bore the sinner's curse. But in Jehovah's favor there was "life." He had a night of weeping, a night of "strong crying and tears," when his soul was "sorrowful even unto death," and when beneath the waves of that sorrow he sunk, commending his spirit into the Father's hands. But it was a night no more. Morning came, and with morning, joy. Coming forth from the tomb, he left all his sorrow behind: his sackcloth was put off, and he arose "girded with gladness." He found morning and joy; and he is "the first fruits of them that slept." His rising was the rising of his saints. – There was a morning for him, therefore there shall be one for us, – a morning bright with resurrection glory.
Let us next take Psalm forty-ninth. These are Christ's words, as is proved from the quotation of verse 4th in Matt. 13:35. He summons the whole world to listen. He "speaks of wisdom," for he is Wisdom. He points to the vanity of riches, and their insufficiency to redeem a soul; and who knew so well as he what a ransom was needed? He sees men going on in their wickedness, self-confidence, and vain-glory. He contrasts the wicked and the righteous. "Over the wicked the righteous shall have dominion in the morning." The morning then brings dominion to the righteous, – redemption from the power of the grave. In this Jesus rejoiced; in this let us rejoice. This joy of the morning was set before him; it is the same joy that is set before us. Dominion in the morning is that to which we look forward, – a share in the first resurrection, of which those who are partakers live and reign with Christ.
Look again at the forty-sixth Psalm. It is the utterance of the faith of Israel's faithful ones, in the time of "Jacob's trouble." The earth is shaken (verse 2, compare with Haggai 2:6; and Heb. 12:26,27;) the sea and the waves roar (v. 3, compare with Luke 21:25;) but there is a river whose streams gladden them. God is in the midst of her. Nay, "God helps her when the morning appeareth, (verse 5, margin,) just as in the morning watch he looked out from the fiery cloud and troubled the Egyptians. Then the heathen are scattered at his voice, – he sweeps off every enemy, he makes wars to cease, and sits himself on high over the nations, as King of kings, "exalted in the earth." From which we gather that the morning brings with it deliverance from danger, – victory over enemies, the renewal of the earth, peace to the nations, the establishment of Messiah's glorious throne. What a morning of joy that must be, for the Church, for Israel, for the whole earth – resurrection for the church, restoration for Israel, restitution for the earth!
Look at the 110th Psalm. We see Jesus at Jehovah's right hand, waiting till his enemies be made his footstool; and then he who said unto him "Sit," shall say, "Arise." (Psa. 82:8.) He is yet to have dominion on earth, and to sit upon the throne of his father David. Willingness, beauty, holiness, brightness, number; these shall mark his people in that morning of joy which his coming shall produce. "The dew," says one, "is deposited in greatest plenty about the breaking of the dawn, and refresheth with its numerous drops the leaves and plants and blades of grass on which it resteth; so shall the saints of God, coming forth from their invisible abodes out of the womb of the morning, refresh the world with their benignant influence; and therefore are they likened to the dew, for all nature is so constituted of God as to bear witness of that day of regeneration which then shall dawn."
Read also "the last words of David," (2 Sam. 22:1-4,) in which, as in the 72d Psalm, "the prayers of David are ended," or summed up. "There shall be a just one ruling in the fear of God; as the light of the morning shall he arise, the Sun of an unclouded morning, shining after a rain upon the tender grass of the earth." Not till that Just One comes is that morning to dawn, for he is its light, and from his countenance is to break forth that light in which all earth is to rejoice. Then the darkness of the long night shall disappear, and the tribulation tasted in the time of absence be forgotten in the abounding blessedness of his everlasting presence.
Let us hear how, in "the Song," the bride refers to this same morning. She rejoices in the Bridegroom's assured love, and her desires and longings are not questionings as to the relationship in which she stands to aim. This is with her a settled thing, for she has tasted that the Lord is gracious. "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine." What directions do her longings take? Her "eyes are towards the hills," over which she expects to behold him coming like a roe. Thus she pleads with him not to tarry: "Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like a roe, or to a young hart on the mountain of spices" (8:14). Thus also she anticipates the morning of fuller joy, even while enjoying present fellowship: "He feedeth among the lilies until the day breaks and the shadows flee away" (2:16,17). And thus the Bridegroom himself, feeling, if one may so speak, the loneliness of the night, and that it is "not good to be alone," longs, like herself, for the day, and resolves to climb the hills, where he may not only be regaled with freshest odors, but may catch the earliest gleams of dawn: "Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense" (4:6). On that hill let us meet him in faith, and watch with him in hope, yet ever remembering that though his joy which faith gives here is unspeakably comforting, it is not the gladness of the marriage supper, – it is not the blessedness of the bridal day. For he himself, while telling his disciples, "Lo, I am with you always," says also this, "I will not henceforth drink of this fruit of the vine until the day that I shall drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." (Matt. 26:29.)
Thus we see all kinds of joy brought within the circle of the morning. It is a morning of joy, because it is the morning introduced by him who said, "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full" (John 15:11); by him "in whose presence there is fullness of joy, and at whose right hand there are pleasures forevermore" (Psa. 16:11). But let us mark the different kinds of joy, and the different figures denoting it:
There is the joy of deliverance from overwhelming danger. This was the joy of the Jews when their adversary perished and Mordecai was exalted: – "The Jews had light, and gladness and joy, and honor,...the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast, and a good day" (Esther 8:16). Such shall be the Church's joy when her long captivity is done. "Then shall her mouth be filled with laughter, and her tongue with singing; having sowed in tears she reaps in joy." – Psa. 66:2. There is the joy of harvest, Isa. 9:3; and such shall be the Church's joy. There is the mother's joy when her pangs are over, and the child is born into the world. – John 16:20. With such joy shall we rejoice, and our joy no man taketh from us. The joy in reserve for us is manifold and large; it will abide and satisfy; it is the joy of the morning; – a long, glad day before us; no evening with its lengthening shadows, no night with its chills and darkness. – "There shall be no night there, and they need no candle, neither light of the sun, for the Lord God giveth them light, and they shall reign for ever and ever." – Rev. 22:5.
The prospect of this morning – this "morning of joy" – nerves and cheers us under all our tribulation. Were this morning an uncertainty, how dark would the night seem! how difficult for us to fight against faintness and despair! But the thought of morning invigorates and braces us. We can set our faces to the storm, for behind it lies the calm. We can bear the parting, for the meeting is not distant. We can afford to weep, for the tears shall soon be wiped away. We can watch the tedious sick bed, for soon "the inhabitants shall not say, I am sick." We can look quietly into the grave of buried love and cherished hope, for resurrection shines behind it. Things may be against us here, but they are for us hereafter. The here is but an hour; the hereafter is a whole eternity.– H. Bonar.
At the M.E. Church Conference Nov. 9th, Bishop Foster addressing the twelve bishops and forty laymen of the Conference with the large audience present, among other things, said, as reported in the daily Press: –
"There are some who too fondly anticipate a millennium. There is a lack of information on the progress of Christianity. The facts are misstated daily in pulpits all over the country. Ministers hesitate to present the worst side for fear of causing discouragement. They create hopes that are never to be realized. We are not at the dawn of the millennium. Compared with the work to be done, the past is nothing. Our children's children for ten generations to come must labor harder than we are doing to accomplish the conversion of the world. The world's population is 1,500,000,000. Of these, Christians number less than a third. Half of that third belong to the Roman Catholic Church. The Protestants number 113,000,000. They are divided into 500 sects. And this number of their strength includes, also, all the thieves, ex-convicts, the debased, besotted, the speckled and streaked in Christendom. The popular idea is that the Church of Rome is anti-Christ. I don't agree with the popular belief. I regard that wonderful institution as a great Christian camp. It may have to be reconstructed, but before us we have the great problem – the 1,100,000,000 of pagans to convert to Christianity. That is the solid rock that looms up in our path. Look at it; see what work has been done in 1800 years, and how much is yet to be accomplished. In India, after more than a hundred years of mission work, we have 600,000 converts [?] and 2,000,000 Christians [?] among 260,000,000 heathen. Can we remove that solid boulder that is as old as the hills?...It is a big loaf to be leavened and it has been a long time working. We have now with us the sunlight of modern thought that is melting superstition. I am tired of the cant from our pulpits of sacred phrases that mean nothing."
This contains some hard truths symbolically called "hail," as it is written, "the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies." (Isa. 28:17) Thus this great Doctor of Divinity is unwittingly serving truth as are Communists, et al., in other directions. Few sensible, thinking people can differ with the bishop as to the facts to which he refers, but we must take exception to his inferences and unscriptural reasonings therefrom.
Among the facts agreed to, one is, that few in Christian lands have any adequate conception of the smallness of even nominal Christianity as compared to the world as a whole, even when the reckoning is carried to the extreme of reckoning the entire population of the United States as "Christian," i.e., not barbarous, and including in this calculation all the infidels and unbelievers and the children. If this be reduced to ordinary limits it is an indisputable fact that not one third of these are even professors of [R820 : page 6] religion; and of the professors, who can estimate rightly the smallness of the "little flock" of wholly consecrated ones, but the searcher of the thoughts and intents of the heart?
But while the Bishop sees this fact, it is in a very limited measure, for he proceeds to reckon the great mass of people living in civilization, including as he says, all the thieves, ex-convicts, the debased, and besotted, and he might have added the Infidels and Atheists in Christendom, and lumping them and all their evils together, the Bishop asks how long it will take to convert the balance of the world to this same state. We question if any but a very few would be bettered by such a conversion. When they are all thus converted the Millennium will be here, the Bishop's argument would imply. Alas! it will be indeed a sad Millennium of war, murder, suicide, want, oppression and misery, if we judge from the Millennium now being enjoyed by the nations taking the highest rank among the so-called converted nations or Christian kingdoms (Christ-en-dom).
The Bishop's blindness to the Scriptural teaching concerning the Millennium and its object, and how it will be brought about, is another illustration of the truth of prophecy by its fulfillment. (See Isa. 29:10-12.) He is blind and cannot see afar off, and his argument is based wholly upon human reasoning devoid of and opposed to Scripture. He reasons exactly as the worldly man reasons, and neglects to seek wisdom concerning the future at the fountain of wisdom, God's Word.
We wonder whether he remembers that the Scriptures state that the worldly will be in darkness as to God's purposes and methods, and that the child of God has the more sure word of prophecy, to which he does well to take heed as a light shining in a dark place. (2 Pet. 1:19.) Does he forget that God is working the matter in such a way that it will be a surprise to the world, and come upon them as a snare – covertly, when not expected – and that they only who have the supernatural light of God's Word shall not be in darkness, that it should come upon them thus? for these will be guided by it into an understanding of "things to come," not discernable from the worldly standpoint. (John 16:13.)
As the Bishop looks out he sees the comparative smallness even of nominal Christianity, and under the false idea that the world must be converted to this Babylon condition, in which over five hundred sects contradict each other, before Christ comes, he is led to relax the strictness with which Christian character should be measured, so as to include under the name of Christ all who make any pretensions toward morality, in order to swell the number of the five hundred sects. And because the Church of Rome and the Greek Catholic Church would help on the count and number more than all the others, these must all be counted to the "Christian Union" in order to swell the pride of Christendom and carry out their theory – that the world is being rapidly converted to Christ.
But God will laugh at their calamity, and mock when their fear cometh – when this seemingly great structure of Babel falls to pieces in the day of the Lord; for "the Lord knoweth them that are his"; and his description of that "little flock," of whom he says, "They shall be mine in that day when I make up my jewels" (Mal. 3:17), leaves no question that it is a very different flock from the "speckled and streaked" of which the Bishop speaks. It is to the "pure in heart" who have "made a covenant by sacrifice," a "little flock" that it is the Father's good pleasure to give the Millennial kingdom. When this elect company is selected, and thus exalted to power with Christ their head, they shall break in pieces the shackles and fetters, religious and political, by which Satan, the "god of this world," has so long oppressed the world and humanity. Thus he shall make "wars to cease unto the ends of the earth" (Psa. 46:9 and Rev. 11:17,18). Then "He shall speak peace to the heathen" [R821 : page 6] (Zech. 9:10). He will turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent (Zeph. 3:9). Then the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth.
This error that the Church, in her present condition, is to conquer and convert the world before the Lord comes, has misled many in every stage of the Church in this Christian age. It has been Satan's snare by which he has diverted the attention and service of many away from the work given them by the Lord, viz.: to witness to the world, and to feed and build up the Church, and prepare her as his joint-heir to accomplish with him in the next age the subduing of all things unto himself.
The Bishop's hopes for the success of his plans for the future lie, not in Church creeds which cause a jargon, or in the power of the truth as conveyed to us through God's Word, originally accepted as the sword of the Spirit; these for eighteen hundred years have failed to accomplish the Bishop's plans, though the Word of God has not failed to accomplish God's plans (Isaiah 55:8-11), but now his hope grasps a new lever of power, which above he terms "the sunlight of modern thought."
In his last sentence the Bishop voices the sentiment of the world and the devil, as well as the saints, for all are tiring of "the cant from our pulpits, of sacred phrases that mean nothing." See Isa. 29:15,14.
Before his crucifixion, Jesus taught the early disciples, and through them all the church, to earnestly watch for his second coming. He did not tell them how long they must wait, nor did he leave them in doubt as to how they should watch. If we had no idea or means of knowing when, where or in what manner he should appear, our watching would be a very indefinite thing, and we might not be able to recognize him, even when again present.
When the disciples inquired "What shall be the sign of thy presence, and of the end of the age," Jesus told them plainly just what that sign should be (Matt. 24:3,15. See TOWER of January, 1885) that would positively declare his presence. And though we now see that sign, as well as various other indications which mark that important and glorious event as now at hand, we would fail to discern his presence, and would be disappointed, if we were not informed as to the manner of his appearing.
Many of God's children are expecting to see the Lord Jesus appear again in the flesh, as a man, forgetting that his flesh (his humanity) he gave for the life of the world; that that was the body of his humiliation, which he took only for the suffering of death, and that he was raised a spiritual body, the express image of his Father's person, and was invisible to men during the forty days of his presence after his resurrection, except when he for a time assumed a human form, and thus appeared to them to instruct them concerning the fulfilment of the Scriptures, and the fact of his resurrection. And he taught them that the assumed body was not his glorious body, saying, "Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have." (Luke 24:39, and 1 Pet. 3:18, R.V.) He would not have us think that when we are raised in "the likeness of his resurrection" we shall still be of the earth earthy. It doth not yet appear what we shall be like, but we know that we shall be in his glorious likeness – the express image of the Father's person – of the divine nature which is not of the earth earthy.
"Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not." "If they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold he is in the secret chambers; believe it not." (Matt. 24:23,26.) But why not? If he should come again in the flesh, would it not be reasonable to expect to find him now here and now there among the little scattered companies of his faithful "little flock?" Would he not mysteriously appear in our midst at times when worshipping together in his name, to manifest his second presence, even as he appeared to the early church to convince them of his presence after his resurrection.
Such expectation would certainly not be unreasonable if we were not otherwise informed; but being informed, we know not to expect him in that way – "Behold I have told you before," said Jesus. (Matt. 24:25.) Then he tells us how he will be seen or recognized in his day, saying, "For as the lightning cometh out of the east and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the (Gr. parousia) presence of the Son of man be" (verse 27). The lightning, or electricity, is everywhere present, yet unseen except when manifested by a sudden flash. So is our Lord's presence. The Scriptures use light as a symbol of truth; and the lightning, or electric fluid, is here used to symbolize the unseen presence of Christ, and the flashes of the lightning to represent the sudden, bright, clear, almost dazzling revelations of divine truth, heretofore unknown to us, but now made manifest by his presence to those who are awake and watching. Never before were such glorious revelations of truth flashed upon the church. The faithful little flock has, during all the age, walked in a measure of light, but not in the light of his actual presence. They had all that was necessary for their day and trial, but how much more glorious is the light of his presence. Not only is this light true to the symbol, in that it comes suddenly, and is of dazzling brightness, but in that it shines from the east even unto the west, revealing God's plan as never before seen, as one grand harmonious whole spanning the ages past and reaching its glorious culmination in the end of the incoming Millennial Age. And the various parts of this stupendous plan are shown in their beautiful and harmonious relationship to each other, and to the grand end to be accomplished during the reign of Christ. As the storm continues to gather over the world, and the sleeping Nominal Church, the Bride of Christ who is awake and watching, thus recognizes and is made to rejoice in the presence of the Lord. And the flashes of light have been increasing so constantly in this day of his presence that it is becoming one continuous blaze of light.
Understanding the fact that though for a few years, and for a special purpose, the Lord was "made flesh," but that now being "highly exalted," he is no longer a human or flesh being, but a spirit (John 1:14, and Phil. 2:9, Acts 5:31, 1 Pet. 3:18, R.V.), we see the force of the Lord's words of caution, and know not to expect to see a glorious spirit-being, except by the eye of faith, until "changed" (1 Cor. 15:51), and made like him (Phil. 3:21). Hence we look not for him as if he were a man. If as a man he had come to gather his church, before making known his presence to the world, it would be by calling them to his standard in desert wilds or in secret chamber meetings in the cities and towns. But not so; he is no longer a man, but a spirit-being, and the Master cautions us against fleshly expectations. We should learn to recognize all the flashings forth of truth on every subject – religious, political and scientific, as so many manifestations giving evidence of the presence of the New Ruler. The young nobleman returned, having received the kingdom, begins to reckon with the unfaithful stewards. Soon these evidences of the Lord's presence and rule will become so marked that every eye shall see him, every enlightened understanding shall discern his presence. And by and by we, who now see the sign or indication of his presence, will see him as he is, for we shall be like him. (1 John 3:2.)
If you want to know the character of a house, ask the servants – especially the old servants. If you want to know what sort of a condition the public services are in, sometimes you will hear various accounts of them. But it is different with the service of our Lord. Ask the old servants and you will get the best account of it. There may be servants who have tried it for a little while and have become froward and willful. Those who have been at it longest have the best things to say about it. Ask such an one as Paul, the aged. Observe the cheerfulness of the latest epistles of Paul. You have a good deal about his trouble and suffering in the midtime, but when he came to be Paul the aged, when he is writing to Timothy and Titus, he is extremely cheerful and consolatory. He has been long in the service. Ask the apostle John, who began in earliest life and lasted longest in earthly service. You will hear how he had not found it an easy service – nobody does who goes thoroughly through with the Lord. John had, after the Master left, been arrested and threatened along with his friend at Jerusalem. Afterwards he had been exiled, as we know, to Patmos, for the Word of God. He had lost his own brother, James, and his dearest friend, Simon Peter, by martyrdom in the service of Jesus Christ. But what does he say of it at the end? Look at his epistle: "His commandments are not grievous." He came more and more to see, as all aged Christians do see more than they saw it in youth, how thoroughly reasonable is this service; how good it [R821 : page 7] is, how right it is – nay, how blessed it is.
John heard his Master saying, and put his "Amen" to it at the end of his service, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." It may be a question having regard to the context, whether, when our Lord says "Take my yoke upon you," he just meant the yoke assigned to us, or the yoke that he had borne, and which he called us to share. Take the latter meaning. Just as when he says to his disciples, "My peace I give unto you." He intends not merely a peace that he can confer, but the very peace that possessed his own soul in the midst of his tribulation, and says, "That peace I give unto you. In the world ye shall have tribulation, but in Me you will have peace." So in regard to those obligations of duty. He calls those who come to him to follow him in the way, and to bear the yoke with the courage and the burden he endured when he was here as the Father's elect Servant. So we are not merely commanded, by the thought that God has a right to give his orders, and we cannot take a higher place than to be his servant, but we have, as has been again and again pointed out, to follow the Master, who himself has served, and knows all the difficulties of the service.
It gives a master great power over his workmen when they know quite well that he is not a mere amateur in the thing itself; not merely master because he has money enough to employ them, but is a master who has done the work himself, and knows it better than they do; has done it well, has done it thoroughly, and joins them in the work, and says, "Come and work with me; what you do not know how to do, I will show you." It is such a Master whom we serve. – Donald Fraser.
"Art thou he that should come, or look we for another?" – Luke 7:19.
Almost 1900 years ago the Jewish Church was left desolate. Matt. 23:38. Before that time they were God's people as distinguished from all other peoples or nations; for "unto them were committed the oracles of God."
They were the "believers" of that age or day. They believed in the true God, in the Scriptures, and, of course, in the coming of the promised Messiah. As a nation they were God's nominal people, or "household of faith," yet among them were only a few "Israelites indeed." ("For they are not all Israel which are of Israel; neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children," etc. Rom. 9:6,7.)
When Jesus came, only a few became his disciples. Only a few discovered that the events of his birth, life, death, and resurrection were a fulfillment of their own Scriptures. John the Baptist preached his coming, and afterwards received and baptized him, and no doubt saw the Spirit descending upon him, and heard the voice from heaven saying: "Thou art my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased," yet when in prison John heard of the works of Christ, he sent by his disciples and said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or are we to look for another? Jesus answering, said, "Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached, and blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me."
Thus Jesus called attention to transpiring events, the fulfillment of their own Scriptures, as proof that he was the Messiah. He might have replied: "I am he." An impostor might have made the same claim, and given the same answer; but mark, the answer Jesus gave called their attention to evidence such as would convince them of the truth of his claim, provided they had been sufficiently interested in the Scriptures to make them capable of apprehending them, and of discerning the unfolding of truth then due, i.e., the fulfilling of prophecy, etc.
Notice also the significance of the last part of the answer, "Blessed is he," etc. Many, many were they who were offended (made to stumble) in him, believing not that he was the Messiah, because, perhaps, they looked for him to come in a manner different from that foretold in the Scriptures concerning him.
He came to his own and they received him not. His own people then, were Israel after the flesh, the nominal household of faith; and now he comes to their antitype, the nominal Christian Church or household of faith. But now as then they receive him not. They say, He has not come, "All things continue as they were," etc. Only a few of the Jewish "household" received him at his first coming, and only a few receive him now. They receive him because of the evidence, evidence too, of the same character as that given to John – transpiring events; the fulfillment of the signs of his presence bearing witness to the fact.
Such as desire his appearing, and know the object of his coming, are not only rejoicing in, but heralding his presence, and preaching that the harvest is come, the fields ripe, and the separating work begun; that the Gospel day or age is ending, and the Millennial day is dawning. "Today, if ye will HEAR HIS VOICE, harden not your hearts." Let not prejudice hinder you.
Blessed are they who do not stumble over him, for they shall be made rulers over all his goods. We cannot force others to receive him, neither could John the Baptist, but we can bear witness to the truth as the Scriptures reveal it to us, and "He that is able to receive it, let him receive it." "Who hath ears to hear let him hear." Think of the class who rejected Jesus at his first coming. They were members "in good and regular standing" in the Jewish Church; they reverenced the Scriptures as a whole but neglected to search them in particular, giving more earnest heed to the traditions of the elders which made void the Word of God. They were looking for a Messiah to come, yet not according to the Scriptures which declared the manner and object of his coming. Therefore they failed to recognize him when present. And just so their antitype, the nominal [R822 : page 7] Christian Church is to-day stumbling, and failing to discern him at his second advent; and for the same reason. But even this is in fulfillment of prophecy; for it is written, "He shall be for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel." (Isa. 8:14.) Let us take heed, and neither be found "asleep" nor "drunken" with false doctrines and traditions, nor so "overcharged with the cares of life," as not to discern the signs of his presence.
If any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not: or behold he is in the desert; go ye not forth: or behold he is in the secret chamber, believe it not; for Christ is a spiritual being and the eye of flesh can no more see him than it can see Satan, the god or ruler of this present evil world, the end of which is so near, "even at the doors."
Brethren, Jesus has come, and found the "household of faith," the Church nominal, as a body, lukewarm, indifferent and proud of their riches and increase in goods, but he knows their works, and says, "I will spue thee out of my mouth." (Rev. 3:15-19.) As a nominal system it shall no longer be God's mouthpiece to expound his word. He is choosing out from her his fit vessels. Because she is wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, he counsels her, "Buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve that thou mayest see," and "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."
Who hath ears to hear, should hear the counsel, and also heed the command now due, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues."
Under the mask of friendship, and as a bearer of good news, Satan, filled with jealousy at sight of the newly created beings, struck the blow for their destruction. He meant the murder of the race (John 8:44), and he was successful. While all who accept the Scriptures admit the authorship of the cunning lie, comparatively few are ready to believe that it is the only text in all the inspired writings that intimates that man is immortal, or that when dead he is at all different from the lower orders of the animal creation. They everywhere recognize just what scientific research reveals, i.e. that life is not a created element at all, but a principle or force from some incorruptible and immortal fountain, transmitted into different organisms. That it is the same principle in all, the difference of its manifestations consisting in the endless variety of organism, and not in the principle itself. (See "Food for Thinking Christians," page 134 – Eccl. 18:20 – 1 Tim. 6:16.)
All life is the same whether in fish, fowl, beast, man or angel, and can be withdrawn by Him in whom all "live and have their being." (Psalm 36:9.)
God subjected the creation to frailty in hope, (Rom. 8:20), and mankind in endeavoring to find a basis of hope for the future, believed it lay in an inherent immortality; that death is not really death, but a condition of some kind through which he passes into another sphere of existence. And upon this idea are built all the theories and philosophies of a future state, that man has conceived.
God's dealings with the Jew and with the world were not of a kind to enlighten mankind upon the real hope if he chose Satan's lie. He manifested no love toward his creature, but was a "jealous God, visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate him." (Exo. 20:5.) And he was so dreadful that man could not but excessively fear him. "Every transgression received a just recompense of reward." No love was shown, and mercy was only granted that the whole Jewish race be not destroyed. (2 Sam. 24:16.)
There was no manifestation of love from God through all the long ages of man's experience with Justice. The first public choir that sang of "Peace and Good Will to Man" pointed to the infant in the manger, the real basis of hope for the world; not affirming that man does not die, but that an "off-spring" from the dying stem has been vitalized from the fountain of life and will become the "root" and life giver to the dying race. See articles "David's Son and Lord," Dec. 1885 TOWER, and "Except a Corn of Wheat Die." Feb. 1885, TOWER.
Here then is the hope for the world of mankind; and on that central fact the doctrine of Jesus, from the "pure milk" to the "strong meat," must be built, as the only true hope for the future destiny of man.
He who rids himself of these doctrines, who leaves this central fact at any point, at once wanders off into darkness, and must build again to some extent on the lie that murdered the race. (Jno. 8:44.)
We regret to say that not a few are thus, wandering, and multiplying theories are to-day advanced which practically ignore the doctrine of Christ, and while they are less repugnant than the heathenish idea of eternal torment, they are no less obnoxious to the fires that will burn up his enemies round about.
The value of a gift lies in the appreciation of it, and life is a gift that will not be forced upon any. It is the synonym of existence, the principle that man lost, and without which there can be no sensation of either pain or pleasure. It is the one essence that man found it impossible to retain. It is not heaven, or hell, or any other place, or condition, that was held out through the law for man to seek for or to avoid, but life itself that renders any condition possible, is the promise everywhere held out by the law, or spoken of by the prophets. (Gen. 2:7. Deut. 30. Mal. 2:5 and all between.)
So deeply fixed in the human mind has this monologue of Satan become, that the true meaning of death is almost beyond the grasp of the intellect of many. And the theories and conjectures upon the condition in death, (which they call after death,) are as numerous and different as the nations of earth and their difference of knowledge upon other subjects. Having no data for conclusions, and with no evidences from the grave, it is not strange that no two classes have arrived at the same understanding of the matter. Hence we have theories innumerable from the simple "Happy hunting grounds" of the Red man, to the complete and listless swallowing up of the being in "bliss ineffable in the bosom of the Creator," of the Buddhist and, from the refining processes of symbolic fires of advanced theorists, to the more monstrous but equally absurd doctrine of writhings in torture, or shrinking aghast in mental horrors of the heathen and dark ages and, (with shame we add,) of our own day; all traducing the character of God and dishonoring to Christ, the Life-giver.
The condition of death is the antithesis of life; it can only be defined in negatives or in figurative expressions. It is not a road to Paradise nor a passage-way through which a being is evolved into something else. If so, it would be a blessing (1 Cor. 15:26), and Satan would have been telling the truth in intimating that a spark remained that could not die. [R822 : page 8]
It is figuratively called "a land" in Scriptures, but it is the "enemy's land," a "land of darkness" and "obscurity" without "any order." The "land of forgetfulness," "Where no man is," etc. It is also named "Sheol" and "Hades," "hell" etc. It is the place to which all alike go from the sinner of three-score and ten, to the little one of two years old and under. All cease to be, and "are not." (Matt. 2:17,18; Jer. 31:15,16; Ezek. 3:20; Psa. 88:12; Job 14:2.)
The hope for the world lies in a resurrection from the dead, and not in any "ray of divinity" inherent in man. This hope has always been deemed a heresy, even by the systems that "allow" a resurrection (Acts 24:14,15; 26:7,8.) while denying it virtually. And the basis of this hope is Jesus only, who is "The resurrection and the life" (John 11:25) – a more than representative man; to him has been given to have "life in himself" and apart from him all at death perish. (1 Cor. 15.) He only hath the keys of hades and can re-create from nothing the beings that before existed and give them back the boon he purchased for and will again present to every son and daughter of Adam; and as they hear his voice and appreciate the gift he will restore to them all that was lost by the "fall." (Acts 3:21.)
"What think ye of Christ? is the test,
To try both your state and your scheme:
You cannot be right in the rest,
Unless you think rightly of him."
Ques. Matt. 19:21. Why did Jesus tell the young man to "keep the commandments" in order to "enter into life" instead of making faith a ground of salvation? and how does this harmonize with Rom. 3:20? In verse 20 he replies that he has kept all these; but still he lacked, and Jesus says (v. 20 [should be vs 21 - site Editor]): "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come follow me." What is implied in the word perfect more than what is covered by the commandment, and what was the treasure he should have in heaven aside from eternal life?
A. In his answer to the young man, Jesus declares just what Moses had declared (Lev. 18:5), that under God's covenant with them, keeping the Law would insure eternal life to any Jew; but from the days of Moses to Christ not one had merited life by keeping the law. Hence death still reigned even as it had reigned from Adam to Moses, though many prophets and faithful men of the past had tried, in all sincerity, to keep the commandments. Hence every Jew should by this time have been convinced that none were able to keep the law, because of their imperfect, degenerate condition. God's perfect law is the full measure of a perfect man's ability. Had Israel acknowledged this, the law would have answered its purpose to them, for God knew beforehand that they could not keep it, and never expected them to. It was simply given to them to prove to them their shortcomings and their inability to measure up to its requirements, and hence should have prepared them to accept deliverance through Christ.
This young man had not learned this lesson, and therefore Jesus bade him go on trying to keep the law. But a little doubtful lest he might not be any more successful in winning life than had his forefathers, the patriarchs and prophets, although he thought he kept the law perfectly, he inquired, "What lack I yet?" Jesus' answer is designed to convince him that he had not kept the law perfectly – that he did not love God with all his heart, nor his neighbor as himself. He proved to him that he loved himself and his possessions more than either. And the young man evidently understood it, for he went away sorrowful, evidently convinced that he yet fell short of the requirement of the law. To keep the law perfectly in this age requires sacrifice. Who can love his neighbor as himself and see that neighbor suffer while he has enough and to spare? All mankind are suffering under the weight of sin, ignorance and misery, and whensoever we will we may do them good. Natural benevolence sometimes plans and arranges for the comfort and blessing of fellow-creatures, but the Body of Christ, all in whom the Spirit of the Master rules, will be ready and anxious to follow His example of doing good to the extent of self-sacrifice in order to do good to their fellows. In giving they will, above all else, seek to bestow spiritual food and clothing to the hungry and naked.
To keep the law in the next age, while it will still require a measure of restraint and self-denial until perfection is reached, yet will not require sacrifice of things lawful, even unto death, because of the changed condition of mankind and his surroundings.
Had the young man sold all and followed Jesus, he would have obtained more than the law promised. The law promised life everlasting, human existence – restitution, a treasure on earth; but the treasure in heaven to which Jesus referred is a change of nature from human to spiritual, and not only so, but to the highest order of spiritual being, the divine nature, as explained by Peter. (2 Pet. 1:4.)
The treasure in heaven is reserved for all those who, like Jesus, keep the law in this age, when its requirements amount to and imply a sacrifice even unto death. And only those do keep the law who, being justified by faith in the precious blood of Christ, henceforth walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. Such are reckoned of God as perfect, and as having kept the commandments; and are thus joint-sacrifices and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ their Lord.
This is in harmony with Rom. 3:20. By the actual deeds or doing of the law shall no flesh be justified, but by faith in Christ we are reckoned as perfect, and our sacrifice therefore acceptable. The righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. (Rom. 8:4.)
Ques. Bro. R. With the understanding that we have – that death, not dying, is the penalty of sin, how shall we harmonize the statements that Christ gave his life as a ransom (substitute) for many (John 20:28), and the statement, "I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father." John 10:18. Does not it in both cases refer to the same thing? A. That the penalty of sin was death, is most clearly and emphatically stated – "The wages of sin is death" – "Dying, thou shalt die." The imperfect and dying condition which we enter at our birth, is simply the process which culminates in the full penalty – death – cessation of life – extinction of being – non-existence. If death is the penalty, then when will the penalty end? There is no inherent power in us which can ever deliver us from non-existence – death. The only way which the Scriptures disclose for man's restoration to existence is by the payment of his ransom, an equivalent price, a substitute. And this ransom was found in the Son of God who became a man – was "made flesh" [transformed from the spiritual to the human nature,] in order that he might give himself a ransom for all.
That which Jesus laid down for our redemption was his being or existence in the condition he then possessed it – i.e. life or existence as a human being. We must not consider life (vitality) in the abstract without regard to nature the thing referred to, which he had power and commandment both to lay down and to take again. But in the sense of being or personality, the human Jesus gave HIMSELF his LIFE, his BEING, a ransom for all. And likewise he received life, being, or personality, in his resurrection; but it was a new being that arose of a new nature. Jesus arose a spiritual and no longer a human being; existence "it" was recovered, but not under human conditions, not human existence, for he never did and never will take back our ransom price, thank God.
It remains the equivalent price of our condemned race; and because it was laid down forever, we may live forever. It is life in the abstract sense that the pronoun "it" refers to in the text mentioned.
"If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law," and not by a sacrifice. But commanding a man could never make an imperfect man capable of meeting the requirements of justice; and even if able to do so fully, there were penalties against each of us through and because of Adam's sins which must be met, paid, settled by some one, and for each to meet them for himself, would be death – extinction. Hence the need of first a ransom, and secondly a life-giver; both of which needs are supplied to us by God in Christ Jesus our Lord. A thousand or a million years in death would not pay man's penalty, as there is no limitation of time either mentioned or implied, in the terms of the prescribed penalty nor in any scriptural reference to it; there is no escape except through the ransom provided.
The human existence of Jesus, our ransom, our substitute, was surrendered to everlasting death; but thank God he lives as a divine being to claim and restore to its perfection that purchased by his human life – mankind.
When men affirm that something more than membership in the body of Christ is essential to membership in their religious organizations, they make it other than the church of Christ, and make themselves greater than the Lord, for they refuse to receive him whom they admit the Divine Master has accepted.
The only division that is recognized by the divine word is a local division. All the members of this holy church who are found in a given locality, are the church of that place. They ought, indeed, to recognize and receive one another, but only as Christ has received them. In all things they ought to regard it as his church, that he alone can constitute membership, and that all whom he has accepted are for that reason to be recognized as members of his church in that place.
Let all then who regard each other as members of the body of Christ, come together in any given place as the church of that place. Let the great object be in all cases, not the building up of an organization, but growth in grace and knowledge; let such local churches be in true fellowship with all of God's people; not because they hold to certain beliefs or are organized in a peculiar method, but because they belong to our common Lord.– Selected.
We desire the address of some Swedish brother, whose heart is filled with the love of the truth and with a desire to serve it, who has the following qualifications for special service, viz.: one who has no family; one who has a good Swedish education and a fair understanding of the English language. Such a one will please address the Editor at once.
PRINCE BISMARCK recently honored by the Pope with an autograph letter and a medal of the Order of Jesus set in diamonds, is the first "Protestant" ever so honored by the Church of Rome. Does this indicate that the "infallible church," whose doctrines she claims are "unchangeable," has changed? or that Protestants have changed? That Protestants no longer protest has been shown in these columns recently by reference to the course and language of representative Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians.