BUSINESS OFFICE: No. 40 Federal Street, 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 have called attention at various times recently to the changed attitude of Protestantism toward Roman Catholicism, noting the fact that not only have the echoes of protest died away in the distance, but that the very grounds of protest are fast disappearing, and that, not because of any change in the principles of the Church of Rome, but of so-called Protestantism. And so changed is its attitude toward Rome that from various Protestant pulpits, and presses, and prominent leaders, we now quite commonly hear expressions which sound strangely out of harmony with the name Protestant. The deadly wound given to the Papacy at the Reformation, is fast being healed (Rev. 17:5) and "mother" and "daughters" are coming to realize more and more their mutual relations.
This changed attitude of the daughters is quite marked, and Catholicism is noting the trend and taking advantage of it, although Protestantism is scarcely aware of the long backward slips she is making. She is too drowsy to realize the situation. While noting these facts the following, clipped from "The Catholic" of Pittsburgh will be of special interest. It says: –
"For centuries Protestant writers in every land drew up the most terrifying pictures of Catholicity. The adoption of downright infidelity was preferable according to Protestantism, to affiliation with Catholicity. In European countries wherever Protestantism grasped the secular power, persecution and exile became the lot of Catholics. The change of religion in England was effected by the Mormon wife slayer Henry VIII. and bloody Queen Bess, by the confiscation of all Church property, and dire persecution and expulsion of Catholics. Churches were destroyed, or perverted to the use of the established pet, which, by the way, the English people are now tired of maintaining, as was made evident in the late elections.
"All this is now changed, and the "horrors of Rome," is no longer a "taking" subject to dwell upon, except by some ignoramus, who confines his abilities to the backwoods. Henry Ward Beecher advises one of his flock who approached him for information to go and become a Catholic, and she would be safe in doing so. Sam Jones calls long and loud for heavenly benedictions upon the work of the Catholic Church, and many other distinguished divines pay the Church [R854 : page 1] marked respect, though following different doctrines.
"As an evidence of the change of Protestant opinion in this matter, witness the fact that lately occurred in a Presbyterian church when they sang the "Ave Maria," and when the attention of the Presbyterian Observer was drawn to it, that paper said it was all right. This, like the elections in England, as Gladstone said, 'is wonderful;' Presbyterians honoring the Blessed Virgin by singing this most Catholic hymn, 'Ave Maria,' is a 'wonderful change.' Soon we will have them calling out with Catholics, 'O clement, O pious, O sweet Virgin Mary, pray for us, oh Holy Mother of God.'
"All these are good omens of the progress of our holy religion, while if we look across the garden wall of Catholicity, and view the turmoil in which the rest of Christianity is engaged, having abandoned all dogmatic religion, and 'carried about by every wind and doctrine,' 'reading Scripture to their own destruction;' their churches falling into decay, or sold for other purposes; their congregations failing to worship, or bear the expenses, their press calling upon the people to pay the preachers, otherwise they will not be able to meet the expenses of their families. All these omens are sad in the extreme, and portend speedy dissolution at the hands of infidelity, which is fast filling up its ranks from the disorganized condition of our Protestant citizens. We do not rejoice because of this exhibition of failing religion on the part of our separated fellow-citizens, but we would invite them to study the claims of Catholicity."
Very nice, kind, conciliatory things are now being said by each party about the other, and each wants to smooth over the old difficulties and be friends again. The main points of difference and grounds of protest of the Reformation, against the Church of Rome were two. First, that while the Church of Rome gives to tradition the same force as to the Scriptures, Protestantism recognized in tradition only the fallible judgment of men, and declared the individual right to interpret the Scriptures each for himself. Second, that justification (acquittal) from original sin is secured not by works (of morality or of penance) but by faith in the finished sacrifice of Jesus our Lord. But both of these points of original protest, are now fast being ignored by Protestants. The death of Jesus as man's ransom is being ignored and faith in that as the ground of acceptance with God is little preached and little realized by the "popular preachers" and the rising generation of so-called Protestants; and instead sectarian zeal with morality and benevolence – good works – are the implied ground of acceptance with God and atonement for original sin – where such a thing as original guilt is acknowledged at all. And, too, individual right of Bible interpretation is fast being ignored by Protestants, though not generally denied; and in their anxiety for union at any cost, all denominations of Protestantism are abandoning Scripture doctrines and ignoring differences. And to swell their number, they are counting in Roman Catholics as well.
In this peculiar day the claims of the Protestant Church to be the power which is to accomplish the world's conversion are being severely and questioningly pressed upon her, and in order to maintain her old position she finds it incumbent upon her to count up and display her numbers as evidence of her power, and of the future possibilities to be expected from it. Hence her eagerness to count in as many as possible to show her numerical strength. But alas! for her moral and spiritual strength; for when she gathers her vast numbers and we view the whole from this standpoint, there is not the shadow of a chance of the world's conversion to God by that means.
Hopeless indeed must be the outlook to thoughtful Christians who are not yet enlightened from God's Word concerning his glorious and all-sufficient plan for the world's conversion – a plan which does not ignore a single member of our dead and dying race, nor yet save one in any other than one appointed way – through repentance and faith in the redemption freely provided for all.
While the Church of Rome kindly invites thinking Protestants to re-examine her claims and compare them with Protestantism and see how much stronger they are, we would suggest to such that before they do so, they would do well to turn to the Bible itself, and they will find that though Protestantism has ceased to enter its protest against her false methods and doctrines, the Bible protests against her in no uncertain language; and they will find too that Protestantism comes in for her share of its denunciations, and that the course and end of both are clearly shown: that Great Babylon – Papal mother and Protestant daughters are to fall, and as a great millstone are to be cast into the sea, never again to rise, while the plan of God, as presented in the Scriptures, will move grandly forward to the full accomplishment of his purpose of restoring the redeemed world to its original perfection as represented in Adam, and to the blessings prefigured in his Eden home.
EDITOR Z.W.T.: I happened to get Food for Thinking Christians, and it has done for me what I have been trying to have done for fifty years, till I was weary of trying, and almost weary of myself. Now you may know why I could not sit still after reading that blessed little book. Though very poor, I would be willing to spend fifty years more, if it were the Lord's will, in circulating the good news; and I would consider myself well paid if I could find a few to whom it would do as much good as it has done for me. I have placed four copies of Z.W.T. in one Baptist church, and there are more wishing to read in that church, but they are afraid of being turned out of the synagogue. I send a list of names; please send me more samples.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – As I know you must receive and answer many letters, I thought best not to trouble you unless I had somewhat to write. For the last sixteen years I have been an elder in the Christian Church here. About three years ago, seemingly providentially, my attention was called to a paper published by you, in which you clearly set forth the plan of God. I read it carefully and tried it by the only infallible rule, and have found it as far as I am able to decide, equal to the measure, and none have been able to prove the contrary. These truths have done my soul good. They seem to have become a part of my being. I have circulated them among all who would receive them, and to-day I find myself standing with a little flock of about fourteen, who are not ashamed to own their Lord nor to defend his cause, maintain the honor of his Word, the glory of his cross.
A few months ago some of them proposed to withdraw from the Church. I advised not, in-as-much as our brethren, the disciples, had neither name nor creed to which we could object. But as they claim the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible as their creed, it is our duty to speak the truth with boldness, and if they object let them act accordingly. I made an appointment to speak on the subject of the ransom, but owing to sickness I could not attend. A large crowd met to hear myself and brethren of like faith denounced as heretics and disturbers of the peace of the community. On the following Sunday we renewed our appointment and filled it; but the opposing brethren engaged the resident Baptist preacher to meet me and reply. The fire was kindled; the next Sunday we met to search the Scriptures to see if these things were so. The Baptist preacher was present, and the search did not lead in the right direction for one who had been preaching the immortality of the soul and eternal torment for forty years, therefore he objected to the results, but failed to offer any proof, though we gave him an opportunity.
The Church was next called together by my brother Elders to put a stop to this business. We complied with the summons and when arraigned we stated our position as plainly and simply as we could, and then asked them to prove us guilty before they condemned us. Finding themselves powerless to act, they deferred the case until the fourth Sunday in June, at which time we are told we will be tried by six Disciple preachers. [R697 : page 2] In the meantime the community was called together at the Disciples Church to hear the Baptist preacher preach our funeral and bury our doctrine beyond the power of a resurrection. The decision, so far as I have been able to learn is, that there is danger in preaching live men's funerals. He proceeded first, by throwing a stone at my character; second, by reading from a secular paper the horrible crimes and the dreadful threats attributed to the Nihilists, Socialists and Communists, and tried to fasten them with an iron bolt of slander, to what he was pleased to call Russellism, and as a result of their teaching; third, he found it more easy to misstate and misrepresent our position than to make the least attempt to prove it false.
When he closed, he found we were ready to help him prove false all he had attempted to prove false, and it only remained for us to restate our position, fortify it with Scripture, and ask him to prove that false, before he condemned it. Now, Brother Russell, a man may slander my character, but he shall not slander the truth of God and go entirely without rebuke.
Am I correct when I assert that you have never in any of your writings alluded to the crimes committed by Socialists, Communists, and Nihilists in any other light than that they are the works of Satan and the result of his unrighteous reign, save that you refer to them as an unmistakable prophetic sign, of the presence of the heavenly king? Please state in the next issue of the TOWER, that all who desire to know, may know how to render under unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's (though he may be ashamed of them) and to God the things that are God's. [R698 : page 2]
Now Brother, I have a request to make of you – Although the truth has suffered no loss in all the fiery trials through which it has passed, but has come out pure and brighter, and we have been made stronger in each attack thus far, and while we are sure that the Lion of the tribe of Judah being present will defend his cause, yet we are compelled to look upon the fourth Sunday as a time of much interest to the cause of truth in this community, and knowing that those six preachers before whom our brethren would like to have us tried (though they have another object in coming) are all college students, and as I have not had the benefit even of a common school, I would like you to advise us as to the best course to pursue; and if you think best state for us our position as clearly, strongly, and simply, as possible, that we may compel them to prove us guilty of violating their creed (the Bible) before they condemn us; for from what you have already shown us, we have full confidence in you and will follow as closely as the occasion will allow, any advice you may think proper to give.
Your brother in Christ.
DEAR BROTHER: – Yours of June 1 came duly and gave us much pleasure, as it always does, to hear of the spread of the truth and the blessing of the Lord's children with the liberty and joy which the truth affords.
I am glad to see that you and the brethren with you, so fully appreciate the truth, and that for the time you have enjoyed it, you have been so strengthened and faithful as to be able to take the bold, firm stand your letter outlines.
Your position is a correct one, in my judgment. The so-called Baptist and Christian denominations claim the Bible as the only standard of faith and practice, and in by-gone years laid great stress upon this in their discussions with other denominations. But the spirit of the world has crowded down their simplicity and spirit of Bible study about as with others to-day. It is now a freedom of name more than anything else, I think.
Your faithfulness in not keeping your light under a bushel is bringing some of them face to face with the truth and with their claim to the Bible as their only creed. The responsibility is thus upon them. Let us hope that the meeting for the examination of your views may be marked by candor and honesty on their part, with a sincere desire to ascertain from a Bible standpoint what is truth. Let me suggest that, so far as possible, you allow this view of the matter to control your feelings toward them, and your utterances. A danger under such circumstances is to feel that it is a battle. Should they treat it thus, let your words be seasoned with grace. (Col. 4:6.) Let the spirit of the glorious truths you now see, so fill your heart that out of its fullness your mouths may speak to the Lord's praise, and to the enlightenment and profit of your opposers as well as the hearers.
It would not be well that I should attempt to give you details. These must be found at the time, and must depend somewhat upon the course of your opposers. While preparing, as much as possible, by studying the subject and arranging plans of thought, for it is our duty to have the sword of the Spirit – the Word of God, which is able to make us wise – well in hand, so that we shall be able to give to him that asketh us a reason for the hopes that are within us, yet back of all this, our strength and confidence should be in him who declares, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." The TRUTH is his and you are his – his ambassadors. He will give you a mouth and wisdom which none of your adversaries shall be able to gainsay or resist. (Luke 21:15.)
I will venture a brief outline of the ground of our belief and confidence, which we believe gives absolutely no room for opposers of our faith to stand upon. They must either reject the Bible or accept its truth, or else evade the issue by sophistry, cutting short further Bible investigation.
Protestant denominations generally still hold, at least in theory, to the Bible doctrine of the fall and condemnation of the entire race through the sin of their representative Adam and the redemption of all through the obedience and sacrifice of Christ. In this we rejoice, for while they cling to this sure foundation, there is good basis for scriptural reasoning; and for hope that they may be led into further and fuller truth. That the remedy will be co-extensive in its results with the evil, is clearly stated in 1 Cor. 15:22, – "As through Adam all die, even so through Christ shall all be made alive."
Adam's one representative disobedience, brought the condemnation of God upon all. That condemnation was not to torment, but to DEATH. (Gen. 2:17.) Sin forfeited the right to life God had given mankind, and brought the actual literal death, no matter how many figurative deaths may be conceived of as attending it. By one man's disobedience death passed upon all, in that all partook of his imperfection and sin. (Rom. 5:12.)
Christ Jesus (by the favor of God) gave himself a ransom for ALL, (1 Tim. 2:6,) so that as through Adam's disobedience, all were condemned to death, so through Christ's obedience unto DEATH all are redeemed, all are justified to have life.
The only condition upon which any may ever have everlasting life, is obedient faith – faith in Christ's work as Redeemer, and obedience to God's law which his redemption and aid will make possible to all. Hence to be saved through Christ, each human being must hear in the sense of understanding or appreciating perfectly God's plan, and his responsibility toward it. And hence, also, unless all thus "hear" (John 5:25), all would not receive the benefit which Christ died to secure for them. And this God guarantees shall not be.
Since many who occasionally see a Bible or hear a church bell are blinded and bound by "the god of this world" – Satan, so that they cannot hear and see (understand or appreciate) the truth, it follows that unless there be a future age in God's plan in which Satan's power to deceive will be restrained, and the knowledge of the Lord caused to fill the whole earth, the ransom secured by Jesus will never be co-extensive with the evil and condemnation upon all through Adam's fall.
But God's Word declares that Christ's sacrifice was the full equivalent of Adam's sin, and that the blessings flowing from his obedience will be co-extensive with the evil flowing from Adam's disobedience. It recognizes the necessity of another age to come, and promises that the Redeemer shall reign and bless all, and fill the earth with knowledge and bind the deceiver. Thus God's plan provides every condition necessary to the saving of all – knowledge and ability – and declares not only that Jesus gave himself a ransom for all, but also that it shall be testified in due time. – 1 Tim. 2:6. The Scriptures never intimate that the Gospel age is the due time for the world to hear, and be blessed by Christ. They teach that now only a "little flock" is sought by the Lord, and these are promised explicitly that they, as the Bride of Christ, or the members of his body, shall reign on the earth to bless all the families of the earth. And in the last revelation of God's plan, given by our Lord Jesus himself, he points us in symbol to the new order of affairs, and tells us that there and then, the Spirit and the Bride – the Church – shall say, "Come! and that whosoever will, may come" and partake of life as of a fountain of water, and by obedience live forever.
For six thousand years God has permitted evil to reign and triumph; in the seventh, he will give power and dominion to Christ and the Church as his own representatives in the earth, to cleanse and bless all, and bring all, or as many as will, into perfect harmony with himself, whom to thus know will be life eternal. The basis of this plan is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ our Lord, begun at his consecration at baptism in Jordan, and completed on Calvary.
Regarding Anarchism: No well-balanced mind could favor it, or conceive it an advantage to any class. Nevertheless God's Word clearly reveals the fact that this extreme of evil will be the means by which present empires will fall. Hence these will, in a measure, be God's instrumentality, even as he has often caused the wrath of man, as well as of Satan, to work out his plans. Another side of the question would show that there is a measure of right on the part of Labor, the ignoring of which is leading on to Anarchism. But this we must leave for a fuller consideration at another time. page 2
DEAR FRIENDS: – I hope your list of workers in the vineyard have reported success so frequently that mine has not been missed. I have been working as all must every day and hour, wherever they are, but not in the wide field I would choose if it were mine to make choice. As I am not mine own, I accept all as the ordering of my never erring – Master. My dear parents are becoming feeble with age, and have been sick, lingering along and gaining strength slowly, till now they are able to go around, but cannot be left alone long. I am losing none of my interest, but watch the opportunities, and have used with care the precious "FOODS." I am intending to gather them in, to use again as soon as possible. Most of them were given to persons I met at different times, who seemed to be ready for the feast and were going to various parts. With this explanation, you will understand why my apparent success is small, and yet I am needing a fresh supply. I found a Swede who is a constant student of the Word. He comes around once a week with fish. The first time he came I gave him a Swedish TOWER, and next time he said he found it taught Bible doctrines all through, and I gave him a FOOD and some English TOWERS.
Yesterday a physician's wife came here for the first time, and she said at once, and boldly, she had come to see what there was in the strange doctrine we taught, and she left with the promise to come often, and said she thought she was ready for the truth as never before, and would make it her study. She took my very last FOOD and two TOWERS.
As soon as I can leave home I want to go to Sacramento to work as you have suggested. So please send me what is necessary, that I may be prepared to improve time on short notice, and I shall be grateful.
I have no better way to give you an idea of how little time I've had than to say it took me three days to read the last precious TOWER, when usually I "literally devour" it almost without stopping, after which I leisurely re-read and turn to all the references.
I had hoped that by examining the subjects carefully with my parents, they would be ready to "keep the feast" as commanded with me, but they could not see that it was an anniversary, and I kept it again alone, and yet not alone. One fully consecrated need never feel lonely. I knew the ones and twos would be remembered by the loved ones in congregated capacity.
I am so anxious to contribute to the Tract Fund, but strange to say I have not a half-dollar, nor have I purchased an article of that value for six months. Yet I am perfectly contented – yes, so happy. God bless you. Good-bye.
I am trying to hold myself in readiness to go especially with German TOWERS to San Francisco when the way is clear. I should have no other business only to "to do good and communicate," and would not be able to do much in short time without FOODS, TOWERS, etc. It only costs one dollar to go to San Francisco, over one hundred miles. Opposition steamer on now. I can rent a room and take meals at a restaurant cheap. May the Lord bless you is my constant prayer. Your sister,
DEAR FRIENDS: In your last TOWER we notice your method for distributing the German Tracts. We are willing to do all we can for the spread of the "glad tidings", happy if we can help in the great work, but how to go to work we hardly knew – this being a large town, and with many churches. We went to one German minister to find the number, but naturally he wanted to read the work before having it distributed. Now would it be right to distribute them at church doors without permission? and if we ask permission, will they not invariably want to read it first? and if they read it, will they not refuse?
Please tell us what is right. It seems as though we were greatly hindered in doing any work in this way. Perhaps we yield to hindrances too easily. Pray for us that we may be upheld in this trying hour, only in the strength of the Lord can we stand. [R699 : page 2]
Spiritism is at work in our neighborhood. One of my friends has turned that way, and she fain would have me go too, but I thank God that it has been made clear to me from whence this power is. Therefore I have had strength to resist it as well as to whisper a word of warning to others that perhaps would have been taken in the snare.
Yours, in hope of eternal life.
In reply: – We are glad of your zeal for the cause of truth. Persevere, God will bless and help you, though the adversary may seek to hinder and discourage at every step. God's favor is sufficient for us; and he will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able to resist, but will with temptations, difficulties, etc., provide a way of escape if we are in earnest, and will but do what we can. – 1 Cor. 10:13.
Do not ask permission of any one to give the truth to the Lord's sheep – professedly our brethren. God sends the truth to such of them as the "god of this world" has not blinded with prejudice and traditions (2 Cor. 4:3,4), and you are God's messengers or ministers when thus serving him. His permission and approval alone we should expect. We live, thank God, in a land where we have the right – the liberty – to give to the people in their hands, food which they cannot get of the professed pulpits and oracles of truth.
We suggest, then, that by visiting the various German Protestant churches you could judge of the attendance. And, that when ready and supplied with the reading matter by us, you could engage some to assist in the distribution, serving one or more churches each session until all have been served. If the church is a large one, it would probably require two or three to hand to each person without delay, as they dismiss. Take your stand at the curb so as not to be upon the private property of the church, and thus give no occasion for offence.
The weaver at his loom is sitting, –
Throws his shuttle, to and fro –
Foot and treadle, hand and pedal,
Upward, downward, hither, thither,
How the weaver makes them go!
As the weaver wills they go!
Up and down the web is plying,
And across the woof is flying;
What a rattling! What a battling!
What a shuffling! What a scuffling!
As the weaver makes his shuttle
Hither, thither, scud and scuttle.
See, the mystic Weaver sitting
High in heaven – His loom below –
Up and down the treadles go:
Takes, for web, the world's dark ages –
Takes, for woof, the kings and sages –
Takes the nobles and their pages,
Takes all stations and all stages;
Thrones are bobbins in his shuttle,
Armies make them scud and scuttle –
Web into the woof must flow,
Up and down the nations go!
At the Weaver's will they go!
Calmly, see the mystic Weaver,
Throw his shuttle to and fro;
'Mid the noise and wild confusion,
Well the Weaver seems to know
What each motion, and commotion;
What each fusion, and confusion,
In the grand result will show!
Glorious wonder! What a weaving!
To the dull, beyond believing,
Such no fabled ages know.
Only faith can see the mystery;
How, along the aisle of history,
Where the feet of sages go,
Loveliest to the fairest eyes,
Grand the mystic tapet lies!
Soft and smooth, and ever spreading,
As if made for angel's treading –
Tufted circles touching ever:
Every figure has its plaidings,
Brighter forms and softer shadings,
Each illumined – what a riddle! –
From a Cross that gems the middle.
'Tis a saying – some reject it –
That its light is all reflected;
That the tapet's lines are given,
By a sun that shines in heaven!
'Tis believed – by all believing –
That great God, himself, is weaving,
Bringing out the world's dark mystery
In the light of faith and history;
And, as web and woof diminish,
Comes the grand and glorious finish,
When begin the Golden Ages,
Long foretold by seers and sages.
"Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:33.
The question of what is meant by "forsaking all," is seldom given a too literal interpretation by those who have something to forsake. On the contrary, most of the Lord's professed disciples seem to act as though the statement read, He that getteth not all that he can get, cannot be my disciple; for the getting, more than the forsaking, seems to be the aim of life with many, as with the world.
In the preceding verses (25 to 32) the Master shows that he did not deceive any into becoming his followers by assuring them that it would cost little or no sacrifice, as so many of his professed ambassadors do to allure the unconverted into the various sectarian churches. No; he said, "Count the cost" before you take the step. Let the lines between the world and my disciples be clearly drawn. To hastily leave the world and put your hand to the plow as a servant of the truth, and then to look back and prefer the world, would not be well: for it would unfit you for the world, and you would not be fit for the kingdom of heaven. (Luke 9:62.) Count the cost deliberately first, then, if you like the conditions, come, take up your cross and follow me, in dishonor and sacrifice now, and to glory, honor and immortality hereafter, as joint-heirs with me in the kingdom.
We cannot suppose the statement under consideration (which refers back, more or less, directly to the things mentioned in verse 26) to mean that a man should leave his family to starve; nor yet that he should forsake his "own life" in the sense of starving from neglect of the necessities of life; nor yet that he should leave "houses and lands" in the sense of abandoning them to go to wreck and ruin; nor yet in the sense of immediately converting them into money and making a wholesale distribution of the results to the poor. (Matt. 19:21.) To so understand the Master would be to suppose his teachings contrary to common sense, and to other statements of Scripture, his own utterances, and also those of the Apostles.
It was Jesus himself that reproved the Pharisees for making void the Law of God in saying that a son who would make a large present of money to the temple, might thereafter be excused from any responsibility to his parents in their support, (Matt. 15:4-6.) and shall we suppose that he would make void that Law in his doctrine? It was Jesus himself who, in his dying hour, remembered his own mother, and commended her to the care of John (John 19:26,27), and shall we suppose that he taught others to neglect their parents?
It was one of the Apostles under the influence of the Spirit of Christ, elaborating the teachings of Jesus, who said that a man should love his wife and cherish her even as his own body, and as the Lord loves and cherishes the Church (Eph. 5:25), and surely he did not contradict the Master in this. It was the same Apostle who wrote that any professing to be Jesus' disciples who neglect and fail to provide for their own households are worse than infidels, and by such a course deny the true teaching of Jesus. (1 Tim. 5:8.) It is the teaching of the New Testament, that we should "Do good and lend, hoping for nothing" as a reward; that we should "communicate" and "lay by on the first day of the week" for the poor and for the Lord's cause generally; and that a man should labor, working with his hands, that he might have to give to the needy. (Luke 6:34,35; 1 Cor. 16:2; Eph. 4:28.) All these injunctions would be [R855 : page 3] meaningless if we should understand Jesus' teaching to be that we were to give away every farthing to the poor: for then we should be the poorest of all the poor, and have nothing either to lend or to give.
If then we are sure the Master did not mean for us to literally abandon, neglect, and summarily dispose of homes, families, life and means, what did he mean? becomes all the more pertinent and interesting.
What did he mean then by the statement, "Sell that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me"? (Matt. 19:21.) We answer that Jesus put the matter in its fullest, strongest light. The conditions of fellowship with Christ in the heavenly kingdom are nothing less than the sacrifice of every earthly interest, and earthly life as well, in his service. But this service and sacrifice is a reasonable service, and never implies that we must become paupers to make others affluent. Had this young man consecrated himself and determined to give up all and follow Christ, and had he come to Jesus, saying, Master, I have determined to follow your counsel, to sell all and give to the poor, and to follow thee – How and where shall I begin? I have twenty houses and three farms and much cattle – which shall I dispose of first, and how shall I distribute the money?
Jesus probably would have said, Present all these things unreservedly to God, and yield yourself as his servant also, and from that moment reckon yourself God's steward, commissioned by him to use all those goods, as well as all your personal talents, to his glory in serving those about you. As a servant who shall give an account, be neither wasteful nor penurious. Think not of these goods henceforth as your own, and talk not about giving them again to the Lord; for once given, they are his forever. Such portions of that consecrated property as you have need of, he permits you to use for your personal and family necessities; but a full realization of your sacrifice would not only hinder you from treating it [the money] as your own, and from being lavish in your expenditures, as you might have been when the money and property were yours, but should the necessities of the Lord's work require the last dollar, and leave you dependent on daily toil for sustenance, it should be heartily rendered, with the thought, It is the Lord's, and I was entrusted with it, to use it as he should indicate. The young man to whom Jesus spoke was "very rich"; and had he become a consecrated follower he might have been kept busy for many years disposing of his goods. There is no reason whatever for supposing that the Lord meant him to sell his houses at once and throw the money into the street to the multitude. The selling of that which he had would go on proportionately, as he could find uses for the money.
This suggests another thought: It is a steward's place to seek and find places where he can dispose of the talents and moneys consecrated to the Lord, to the best advantage, as his sanctified judgment, under the guidance of the Lord's Word, may dictate. This our Lord's parables indicate (Luke 19:13; Matt. 25:15). He should not wait for the Lord or his cause to be hindered and embarrassed for money before giving it. To do so, would be to never give it; for the Lord never gets embarrassed. – Isa. 55:11; Psa. 50:12.
Had the young man consecrated his wealth to the Lord's service as Jesus suggested, and then waited for Jesus to ask him for some of it, he would have waited and would have kept the money, but he would never have attained the kingdom and the Well done, good and faithful servant, enter the joys of thy Lord; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things and grant thee the handling of greater riches. On the contrary, the message to such will be, Thou unfaithful and indolent servant, thou hast been unfaithful in thy stewardship: take from him that which he would not use as he covenanted to do.
Most of us, as God's consecrated stewards, take greater liberties than we ought with the Lord's money and talents entrusted to us. We should not be less careful than if dealing with fellow-men, but more careful, if possible, to be strictly honest. And while rendering unto every man his dues, we should most faithfully "Render unto God the things that are God's" – which we presented to him.
If those who have forsaken all – consecrated all to the Lord's service – could but realize the matter as all done, as all His, how it would relieve them of battles with the selfishness which continually magnifies every little disposal of time or money to be a great and new sacrifice. Such a proper realization of the original sacrifice of all reverses the tables upon selfishness at once, and no longer treats the daily course as a self-denial, but a joyful service as Jehovah's steward, and accepts as fresh blessings from his hand all of even the commonest of life's favors. page 3
The Sunday School Times reports Prof. Shedd as saying: "No theological tenet is more important than that of eternal retribution, to those modern nations, which, like England, Germany, and the United States, are growing rapidly in riches, luxury, and earthly power. Without it, they will infallibly go down in that vortex of sensuality and wickedness that swallowed up Babylon and Rome."
No one believes more strongly in the certainty of divine retribution for sin than do we, and that the end of incorrigible sinners will be "the lake of fire which is the second death." But by "eternal retribution" Dr. Shedd means the doctrine of endless torment in hell for all who die out of this life unsaved, in the defence of which he has recently published a book. And his argument is for the expediency of holding on to that doctrine as a defence against threatening destruction. To this we reply: –
4. Perhaps the false view of God involved in this doctrine is largely responsible for this "departing from him, desiring not the knowledge of his ways." The current doctrine in the church on this subject, in hiding from men any hope for any class of mankind in any of his administrations beyond the grave, has concealed a part of his gospel, and denied his fatherhood. Wrong views of his relation to the race necessitate wrong views of his relation to individual men, and so sour and harden them against God. What the world is perishing for is the lack of the knowledge of God.
5. If Dr. Shedd's doctrine is therefore now needful for the defence of society against ruin, it is so because it has helped to bring society into this state of danger by drawing a frowning mask over the face of God, and so repelling them from him.
6. There are intimations in Scripture that there were to be larger unfoldings of the grace of God to mankind, as they were able to bear it. "Who gave himself a ransom for all; to be testified to in its own times" (1 Tim. 2:6).
7. In the general decay of the old [R855 : page 4] doctrine of future punishment, which was doubtless a great restraint in ruder times, the world now needs a new presentation of the majesty and certainty of God's law of punishment. The church needs to be warned anew that "The Lord shall judge his people," and that "Our God is a consuming fire." The world needs a doctrine of punishment, not so vast and vague and inconceivable that both reason and conscience reject it, but one that shall convince them that, in all the laws of nature and of life and of human society, the eyes of the Lord are now "open upon all the ways of the sons of men; to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings," and that his great harvest law is surer than the motions of the stars, for this world and for all worlds. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap." God's great love has provided a ransom for all from death; but even resurrection, which is to all a boon, must proceed according to this great law of harvest, and bring with it "judgment" for those "that have done evil."
In this connection we refer to a letter of Dr. A. E. Kittredge in the Independent of January 28, describing Mr. Moody's late visit to Chicago, in which he indicates that the power of his preaching is largely due to his ability to impress men's minds with the conviction that God loves them. He quotes these as characteristic sentences from one of his sermons:
These sentences illustrate how Mr. Moody, although holding theoretically the orthodox doctrine of an eternal hell, keeps it in the background, where he has no right to keep it, if true, and how he moves men by a fresh revelation to them of the fact that God's love for them is deeper than their sins. If God's love is "stronger than a mother's," if "death cannot conquer it," if it continues "right on, through all our sorrows and sins," and if even his anger is the dark side of his love, we may well ask what room is left for the creed doctrine that, for the sins of this life he will first torment the soul of the sinner in hell, and then raise him in body, in order to thrust him back to be punished "in body and soul, with unspeakable torments, with the devil and his angels, in hell-fire forever." (See questions 29 and 89, Larger Catechism.)
There is immense power in the long-concealed doctrine of God's love to men. And the proof that death cannot conquer it, as Mr. Moody affirms, is found in the fact that he gave his Son to effect the ransom of all from death, and that its conquests extend through the realms of the dead. The redemptive character of resurrection is the proof out of Scripture that men need, that God's love is stronger than death. Knowing this, there will be no longer any temptation to conceal from them the other side of truth, which is too much absent from Mr. Moody's sermons, that "he will render to every man according to his works," and that the atonement is not a makeshift, by which any man may escape the just consequences of his sins, but a wonderful alembic of love by which these necessary judgments are for us converted into the way of life.
– To admit that God and his just laws change not, is to admit that man, when fully restored, will be again subject to the same laws, with their same blessing for obedience (life), or penalty for disobedience (death), which penalty upon such would be the "second death."
– To admit that God's law was just, and man's trial full and fair at first, and that that law and its Author are the same forever, and that man will return to his former estate, is to admit that the same law will test the restored man, and that his will will be as free as at the first to choose obedience and life, or disobedience and the second death; and that the only difference will be the experience undergone in the present existence.
– To admit the ransom and its necessity, and that the MAN Christ Jesus was that ransom, is to admit that he is no longer a man, unless he took back the price he paid for our recovery, which would hinder man's recovery from death.
– To admit that Jesus was highly exalted in his resurrection to the express image of the Father's person, that he was made "a quickening Spirit" in his resurrection – raised a spiritual body – and that his conduct after his resurrection, and his appearance to Paul, who saw him "as he is," were wholly different from human nature or appearance, is to admit that he did not take back the ransom price laid down, but that he was in his resurrection made better than angels, as he had in becoming a man been made a little lower than the angels. – Heb. 1:4 and 2:7,9.
– To admit that the true gospel Church of overcomers are called "the body" – "the bride" of Christ, and that they are being called and selected or elected from out of the world under "heavenly promises" of being made "partakers of the divine nature," like and with their Lord and head, is to admit that these promises are not for all, but are exclusively for the class called, and none other.
– To admit that a "house of servants" of God was selected prior to this "heavenly calling" to "divine nature," and that not heavenly things but earthly things were promised them, is to admit that they are elected or selected for some good purpose in the divine plan, but not for the same purpose as the Church, nor under the same conditions.
– To admit that the plan of God is one grand, harmonious whole, consistent in every part, is to admit all of these propositions, and to say that God, in the work of restoring the world, and giving each his individual trial for everlasting life, intends to use the two classes elected meantime, as the earthly and the heavenly "seed," in whom all the families of earth are to be blessed.
Bishop R. S. Foster, who is at present the central light of the Methodist Episcopal Church, is certainly getting his eyes open in some directions, though he is still in gross darkness. His utterances of late are calculated to startle Methodism, if not too sound asleep. In our January issue we noted his utterances relative to Roman Catholicism, in which, in an endeavor to show up as favorably as possible the progress of Christianity in converting the world, he closely hugged the Church of Rome, whose numbers are almost double those of the five hundred sects of Protestantism, and claimed that to make any showing at all, the Church of Rome must be counted in, because larger than all her daughters combined.
After counting in as many as possible, the bishop reckons that there are in all 350,000,000 of nominal Christians, and 1,100,000,000 heathen in the world: and of these Christians he says: – "And this number of their strength includes also all the thieves, ex-convicts, the debased, besotted, the speckled, and streaked in Christendom." And now his awakening mind goes out after the condition of the masses, and in the following words, clipped from his recent articles in the Independent, he tells us what their outlook seems to be from his standpoint. He says: –
"The problem I deal with relates to this world. Have you ever visited heathen lands? Have you ever formed in your mind an idea of their actual condition? Any idea you may have formed will be inadequate, I am sure. It will take an effort if you have no experience to guide you, and even to reproduce it would be almost impossible.
"Call to your aid all the images of poverty and degradation you have ever seen in solitary places of the extremest wretchedness – those sad cases which haunted you with horror after you passed from them, those dreary abodes of filth and gaunt squalor – crowd them into one picture, unrelieved by a single shade of tempered darkness or colored light, and hang it over one-half the globe; it will still fail to equal the reality. You must put into it the dreary prospect of hopeless continuance; you must take out of it all hope, all aspiration even. The conspicuous feature of heathenism is poverty. You have never seen poverty. It is a word the meaning of which you do not know. What you call poverty is wealth, luxury. Think of it not as occasional, not as in purlieus, not as exceptional in places of deeper misery, but as universal, continent-wide. Put in it hunger, nakedness, bestiality; take out of it expectation of something better to-morrow; fill Africa with it, fill Asia with it; crowd the vision with men, women and children in multitude more than twenty times the population of all your great cities, towns, villages and rural districts, twenty for every one in all your states and territories – the picture then fails to reach the reality.
"Put now into the picture the moral shading of no God, no hope; these miserable millions, living like beasts in this world and anticipating nothing better for the world to come. Put into the picture the remembrance that they are beings who have the same humanity that we have, that are in this case; that there are no hearts among all these millions that do not have human cravings, and that might not be purified and ennobled; that these lands, under the doom of such wretchedness, might equal, and many of them even surpass, the land in which we dwell, had they what we could give them. Paint a starless sky, hang your picture with night, drape the mountains with long, far-reaching vistas of darkness, hang the curtains deep along every shore and landscape, darken all the past, let the future be draped in deeper and yet deeper night, fill the awful gloom with hungry, sad-faced and sorrow-driven women and hopeless children – it is the heathen world – the people seen in vision by the ancient prophet, who sit in the region and shadow of death, to whom no light has yet come, sitting there still, through the long, long night, waiting and watching for the morning."
As he looks back at the fruitage of the past eighteen hundred years, the Bishop sees little hope for the dying millions, and finally seems to catch the thought expressed in the closing sentence above, that their hope lies not in the bringing to them of the Lamp of God's Word, but in the dawn of the morning. Would that the Bishop and others, could realize the logical force of his own admission. They would not then be forced into counting the "speckled and streaked" to make up a respectable showing of power to convert the heathen, but would realize that the present age is only designed to select a "little flock" to whom the Father will give the dominion and power to bless the world; and that when this little flock is selected, they with their Lord shall be the Sun of Righteousness, as it is written, "Then (after this age and after its harvest) shall the righteous shine forth as the Sun in the kingdom of their Father." Matt. 13:43.
The Bishop in the above has drawn a dark picture of the present life of the heathen, but when he comes to contemplate the teachings of his own school of theology with reference to these miserable creatures, which claims that their future will be one of unutterable anguish and pain, to last not for a few years like their present troubles, but to be perpetuated throughout eternity by the special arrangement of their Creator, he allows his sense of right to overleap many of the barriers of his theology, and says: –
"If the awful thought could once take possession of my mind, that the whole heathen world must of necessity be lost forever, simply because they are heathen, I would not send them a Gospel which reveals such a God. That grim thought alone would shut out all hope for the world, and make eternity itself a dungeon, no difference who might be saved. For how could any rational creature enjoy even a heaven with a God whose government would permit such a stain of shame and dishonor, of cruelty and injustice? It is dreadful enough to be compelled to accept the thought that an immortal being can by his own free guilt, work out a destiny of changeless evil. Convince men that there is a God at the head of the universe who, without fault of theirs or any chance of escape, will damn the dead, the living and the yet-to-live millions of heathenism, and you will make it forever impossible that he should be worshipped by any but devils, (and by them only because he becomes their chief,) and at the same time turn earth into a gigantic terror, whose ghastly horrors will admit of no relief."
The Bishop is in a very dangerous condition. Mankind is always in danger of error in thinking unless their impaired reasoning powers and lack of knowledge are guided and assisted by divine revelation. The Bishop, in holding tenaciously to the traditions of Methodism (not the Scripture), and endeavoring to use his reason at the same time, is in great danger of infidelity. This very course has made all the great infidels – [R857 : page 5] they held to certain preconceived but erroneous theories as the teachings of Scripture, and then used their reason as the Bishop does above. But it is unsafe to reason except in the light from God's Word.
The Bishop above evidently attaches to the words lost and damn, not the Bible definition but that of the nominal church. In his use, these words mean – endless pain and woe, awful beyond description. Here is the Bishops danger: some one will sooner or later point out to him the fact that the Bible does teach that all men were lost and damned [condemned] back in Eden, because of the transgression of their representative Adam. Or he may of himself sometime lay down the standards of Methodism for a moment and open his Bible to some such texts as these, which teach that all men are lost until found or recovered – "The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10.), "If our gospel be hid it is hid to them that ARE lost" [not yet found] (2 Cor. 4:3.); or he might learn that condemn in the following texts is from the same Greek word as damn and hence that all men were damned through Adam's disobedience and all must stay damned [condemned], unless they escape from the condemnation that is upon the world, by faith in Christ's ransom (Rom. 8:1). This he might see from any of the following texts: – "By the offense of one [Adam] judgment came upon all men to condemnation [damnation];" "for the judgment was through one to condemnation [damnation]" (Rom. 5:16,18.) "God sent not His Son into the world to condemn [damn] the world [they were already condemned] but that the world through him might be saved" [from the damnation or condemnation under which they already were through Adam's sin]; "He that believeth on him is not [longer] condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned [damned] already." (John 3:17,18.)
If Brother Foster should find out that this (which he has long believed) is true, and really taught in the Bible, without first finding out in what way they were lost, and to what they were condemned [or damned] in Adam, with his old erroneous ideas of the significance of lost and damned and his new reasonings begotten of reflection, he would surely be in great danger of making total shipwreck of his faith, and of throwing aside the Bible and its teachings totally. As he himself says, above, he would find it "impossible" to worship God. And what is true of the Bishop is true of all who can and will think.
Our hope and desire is, that finding his reason and his theology out of harmony, he may give his theology a thorough examination in the light of the Bible only. He has reached a crisis in his career, and by his bold utterance he has brought all that are awake in Methodism to the same crisis. Would to God that we might help them and keep them [R858 : page 5] from falling into the ditch of Infidelity, by calling their attention to the real facts with reference to the loss and condemnation entailed upon all through Adam, and to the full recovery of all from it by the ransom which Jesus gave for all.
Existence, with its every privilege, was forfeited – lost, through Adam's sin. Death, extinction, passed as God's sentence [his condemnation or damnation] upon ALL. This extinction would have been the everlasting punishment of all, had God not come to man's relief, and because of his love provided that his Son should be our ransom [corresponding price or substitute], that whosoever believeth on him might not perish [be hopelessly lost in death], but have everlasting life, being thus recovered and released from the condemnation. If the loss be not rightly seen, the salvation from the loss cannot be rightly appreciated; neither can the price of our redemption – the substitution – be clearly seen and rightly appreciated.
But we quote again from the Bishop: "I raise no question about whether these countless millions can be saved in the world to come." We wish that he would raise the question, and never rest until he finds what the Scriptures teach with reference to it, and then declare to the world his findings on so important a subject. As one whose life is professedly consecrated to this very object, he should speedily raise and Scripturally solve this question, and then not shun to declare the whole counsel of God, which is able to make him and all wise on the very question before us. – 2 Tim. 3:15.
We are glad to note that the Bishop recognizes "a world [aion or age] to come" – an age to follow the present one; and while thinking of whether the countless millions can be saved in that age to come, we suggest the Master's words and Paul's (Matt. 12:31,32; Rev. 2:26, and 3:21; Rom. 6:3). Jesus says that all manner of sins shall be forgiven men except one kind [anytime], but that one can neither be forgiven in this world [age] nor in that which is to come; and that the little flock of faithful followers in this age shall, in the world to come, sit upon thrones judging. And Paul tells us that the world will be on trial during that age, saying, "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?"
Brother Foster continues: "I do not affirm that giving them [the heathen] the gospel will improve their prospects [of salvation in the world to come], or at all increase their chances in that direction." Here we see the brother's unsettled mind on the subject. From his standpoint, the prospects of the 1,100,000,000 heathen of to-day, and the billions of the past, hangs on the thread of "chances." Would that he, and all, could see the firm foundation laid for our faith in God's excellent word – that as surely as Jesus Christ by the grace of God "tasted death for every man," so surely it shall "be testified in due time" to every man whom he thus redeemed, purchased, with his own precious blood. Thus all must be brought to a knowledge of the truth, and be enabled to fully appropriate everlasting life.
And now for our last quotation from this wonderful acknowledgment by the Bishop of his doubts and fears, hopes and uncertainties. He says: "Possibly as many of them [the heathen] will be saved without the gospel as with it." This is a dangerous statement. It indicates that the Bishop is cutting loose from whatever anchorage he has had in the word of God, and letting himself adrift on the sea of uncertainty, driven before the winds of his unruddered reason, which would surely wreck him upon the rocks of No Ransom and Evolution. When Brother Foster penned those words he surely forgot Peter's statement, "There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved" than the name of Jesus. (Acts 4:12.) He surely forgot Paul's statement of the necessity of faith, saying that by the seemingly peculiar means of preaching it has pleased God "to save them which believe." (1 Cor. 1:21.) He surely forgot the apostle's argument on what constitutes hearing and faith (Rom. 10:13,14), saying, "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How, then, shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?" etc. It is not only unscriptural, but unreasonable, to say that ignorance is a ground of salvation; if so, why do we preach the gospel to any? why not leave all in ignorance, that all might be saved thus? If this view be correct, the gospel is the power of God unto damnation, instead of unto salvation – if without it, and in ignorance of it, all may be saved, while with its light the more will be lost.
But here is the brother's mistake, he fails to see that the gospel belongs to the "world [age] to come" as truly as to the present dispensation. Gospel signifies good tidings, and consists of two main facts (though there are conjunctive ones), namely: I. Christ died for our sins; II. In him, through the merit of his death, all may have forgiveness – remission of sins, and full return to the lost favor of God, including life. During this age the gospel selects the bride of Christ and witnesses to the world. It selects the faithful from among those who have "an ear to hear." The gospel in this age is foolishness to many whom the god of this world hath blinded by error, etc. (2 Cor. 4:4.) But this same gospel is to do a great work for the poor blinded world in "the world [age] to come;" for it must yet be testified to ALL. It will then be proclaimed in power. Satan, who now blinds those that believe not, will be bound, that he may deceive the people no more, and the blind eyes and deaf ears shall see and hear, and the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth as the waters cover the sea. Then it will not be as now true, that three-fourths of the race are ignorant of the "only name," and the other fourth "speckled and streaked;" for it is written, all shall know him from the least to the greatest. And none shall need to say unto his neighbor, Know the Lord – for all shall know him. Jer. 31:34.
Ah! yes; the world is full of misery and suffering, groaning for the morning, and thank God the light now due and shining from God's Word points us to the fact that the night in which the Christ head and body is developed is about past, and the Sun-rise at hand – the manifestation of the sons of God for the deliverance of the groaning creation. Rom. 8:19,21,22.
The precious blood will never lose its power till all whom it purchased – all the ransomed of the Lord, shall have heard the voice of their Redeemer calling them to everlasting life. All that are alive, and all that are in their graves, shall thus hear the voice of the Son of Man, and they that hear [obey] shall live – attain perfect and everlasting life. – John 5:25,28.
"We may live to see men calling themselves Christians and differing in no sense from Mohammedans; in fact even now there are religionists among us who are not so near the truth as the followers of the false prophet. Oak has given place to willow; everybody has grown limp. Out of the generality of limpness has come an admiration of it. A man cannot speak a plain word without being accused of bitterness, and if he denounces error he is narrow-minded, for all must join the Universal Admiration Company or be placed under ban and be bowled down."– Spurgeon.
These words of the Apostle, quoted from the Prophet Isaiah, are generally understood to be a call to the world to improve the present opportunity of accepting Christ by faith in order to salvation, with the warning that the present time furnishes the only opportunity, this being the day of salvation.
But this is not the meaning of the text. Neither the Apostle nor the Prophet addresses the world. Both address justified, consecrated believers. The class addressed is plainly seen from Isaiah's prophecy, to be consecrated believers of the Gospel Age – the Christ head and body. It thus reads, "Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time I heard THEE, and in a day of salvation have I helped THEE: and I will preserve THEE, and give THEE for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; that THOU mayst say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves." – Isa. 49:8,9.
It is the anointed, the Christ, head and body, selected and developed during the Gospel Age, which is to accomplish the great work here pointed out – the work of the resurrection, or restitution, in the next age, saying to the prisoners in death, "Go forth," and to those in the darkness or shadow of death, "Show yourselves." "Now," the Gospel Age now closing, has been the acceptable time for justified believers to offer themselves as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable unto God; because this age was specially set apart by God for the calling and development of this class of sacrificers whose sacrifices are now acceptable.
"Now," or the accepted time, did not commence until the Gospel Age began, at Pentecost; or rather in the fullest sense it began with Jesus' sacrifice, dating from his consecration at baptism. The sacrifice of Christ, which actually takes away sin, was THE ACCEPTABLE sacrifice; and it must be an accomplished fact, before any of the condemned sinners could be actually legally justified, so as to be accepted as joint sacrificers and joint heirs with him. When the sacrifice had been made, any who trusted in it were legally justified, their sins being canceled, and the righteousness of Christ imputed to them by faith.
Though justified thus by faith in Christ's redemptive work, none of those [R859 : page 5] justified in this age have been permitted to reach actual restitution to human perfection, that being the privilege not of this, but of the coming Millennial Age. But that right to human perfection and lasting life, having been secured for all, those who now by faith accept it, are reckoned as now possessing that perfection – as though now perfect men. Such during the Gospel Age have been invited to present themselves as living sacrifices to be used up in God's service, and the assurance is given that whoever thus sacrifices "NOW" during the acceptable time, is accepted of God, and shall in due time receive the reward of the crown, the throne, and the divine nature, as joint-heirs with Jesus Christ whose example they thus follow – after being justified by faith in his sacrifice for their sins.
Those who before the death of Jesus our ransom, trusted in God's promises, and walked in obedience to God, were not actually justified until the only sacrifice which could take away sin, was actually [R859 : page 6] offered. Nevertheless their faith shall receive a reward in the times of restitution. But living before the "acceptable" time, they were not informed of the "high-calling" of the divine nature and joint-heirship, and therefore were not invited to thus offer themselves as members of the body of Christ and joint-sacrificers with him. "Now [the Gospel Age] is the accepted time." "Now is THE day of [the "great"] salvation."
The class thus called and accepted, the Prophet declares is called and chosen for the special work of accomplishing the salvation of the world – their restitution from death to perfect life in the next age. Then that will also be a day of salvation, – a day of salvation for all the world. In that day men will neither be called nor permitted to offer themselves as living sacrifices, nor to deny themselves the comforts, joys and righteous liberties then provided for all, but simply to forsake sin and pursue righteousness.
Paul, in referring to these words of the Prophet, urges those who have received this grace [favor] of justification, to see that they receive not this grace in vain – (2 Cor. 6:2). This leads us to consider how we could receive the grace of justification in vain.
Since we may not in this age have an actual restitution to perfection, the only special advantage of being justified now, is that it affords us the opportunity of presenting ourselves as acceptable sacrifices, and candidates for the divine nature and joint-heirship with Jesus. Those therefore who have received the grace (favor) of justification through faith in the ransom, who realize that though still imperfect, they are reckoned of God as perfect so long as they rely upon the ransom, and who yet neglect to USE this reckoned perfection, and to present themselves covered by it, as acceptable sacrifices to God's service within the acceptable time, have received the favor of justification in vain; and consequently they are little, if any better off than the world, whose day of acceptance to favor is in the age coming.
But those who have been justified, and who have also consecrated themselves as sacrifices, may also have received the grace of God in vain, if they turn back to the world and to the gratification of the flesh, despising or ignoring their covenant.
Paul had a very clear idea of what a life of consecration meant. He did not have the idea which many now seem to have, that it simply meant an easy-going tranquility of disposition which might win friends in every direction and be at peace with all the world. No, such is not the experience of those who are faithful at the post of duty; for those who will live Godly in this evil time, shall suffer persecution in some shape or form, and generally in many forms.
Our consecration is to active service for the Master, and a patient uncomplaining endurance of whatever it may cost in the way of sacrifice. Faithfulness to our covenant will not shrink from any service because of the cost, and he that endureth unto the end shall receive the crown of life. Let us mark well the example and counsel of Jesus and the Apostles, that we may gain courage and strength by the way.
Paul gives a vivid picture of the true Christian life which we cannot ponder too carefully: – "Giving no offence in anything [against the principles of truth and righteousness] that the ministry be not blamed. But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonment, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in fastings; by pureness, by knowledge, by long-suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left; by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers and yet true; as unknown and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things." – 2 Cor. 6:3-10.
What a nondescript is such a life before the world; yet how perfectly this marks out the course of the truly consecrated. It is not a life of easy lethargy; it is not a course that secures the approval and friendship of the worldly minded; it is not a course which secures present temporal advantage; nor is it a course agreeable to the flesh; yet in it, the "new creature" rejoices with joy unspeakable and full of glory, and in every condition gives thanks for the privilege of fellowship in the sacrifices and self-denials with Christ Jesus our Lord and Redeemer.
In the little time which remains before the glorification of the remainder of the Body – the church, let us endeavor to make our calling and election sure, and thus prove that we have not received the grace of God in vain. If you have made the covenant of sacrifice, even at the eleventh hour, your sacrifice should be on the altar and the fire of zeal under it consuming your time, talents, reputation and all in the heavenly service. Let it be burning briskly, that the odor of sweet incense may ascend to God, that you may be fully accepted in the Beloved in this acceptable time, and be made partaker of the glory to follow – now at hand.
While we walk now entirely by faith, and have no actual realization of the blessings promised through the redemption, it may be difficult for some to realize the full value of that which they now possess by faith. As the result of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we have redemption and remission of sins. That is, we are redeemed or purchased from under the penalty of sin – death, and all our sins are canceled, and are no longer counted against us. Thus we, who accept of this, God's arrangement for our release, have a clear title to lasting life as human beings. If not again forfeited, it is ours to all eternity; and with it will come all the blessings of perfect health, and everything which can conduce to perfect happiness. But we by no means enjoy any part of that inheritance now; it is all in the future, and at present we hold only our title to it. But the title is good; it has been thoroughly examined, and no claims can possibly be brought against it. It is as sure as though we were now in actual possession of it. This title is secured to us by the oath and covenant of God; and it will pass current in the bank of heaven at any time. God tells us that if we have full confidence in it, within a specified time (the Gospel Age), it can be exchanged for another – a title to a nature and glory grander even than the perfect human nature, namely, the divine nature; that we may be joint-heirs with his only begotten Son. We receive the title to this divine, spiritual inheritance, in exchange for the former title to the human inheritance. Yet the whole transaction is by faith. As yet we have not the actual possession of either.
Those who have made this transaction are told to reckon themselves now, as "new creatures," partakers of the divine nature. Though as yet we are actually human, our human nature must soon terminate in death, after which our title to the new nature will be made good. How wonderful are the ways of God. How little the world dreams that God is so surely and silently working out his deep designs. But those who realize it by full and implicit faith, built upon the exceeding great and precious promises, rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Those who now hold this new title to the divine nature, have of course relinquished all former claims to the perfect human nature. All that earthly, human title passed from them when they exchanged it for the title to the new nature. The right to a restitution to human perfection was therefore given up forever by the consecrated ones, who have received the spirit of adoption to the spiritual nature. Whosoever, therefore, of this class, shall seek to save his human life, shall lose life – the spiritual life, which is all he now holds a title to. But whosoever, according to his covenant, shall lose, willingly sacrifice his life for the Lord's sake, shall find it. – Luke 17:33.
Let all who have it, hold on to the new title by faith and patience firm unto the end.
Now consider the subject of the signs of the times. Remarks on this subject are too often made which betray a want of intelligent comprehension of the natures of the signs that are according to Scripture to indicate the "time of the end." A careless reading of our Lord's prophetic discourse on the Mount of Olives seems to be the cause of much of this misapprehension. His predictions of wars and rumors of wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes, are quoted as if they and such like things were to be the signs of the end of the age. A little accurate attention to the order of his statements would at once show that, so far from this being the case, he mentions these as the characteristic and common events of the entire interval prior to his coming. Wars and calamities, persecution and apostasy, martyrdom, treachery, abounding iniquity, Gospel preaching, the fall of Jerusalem, the great tribulation of Israel, which has, as we know, extended over 1,800 years; all these things were to fill the interval, not to be signs of the immediate proximity of the second advent. How could things of common, constant occurrence be in themselves signs of any uncommon and unique crisis? What commoner all through the ages than wars and rumors of wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes? These, as marking the course of the age, can never indicate its close. What, then, are the signs we should expect?
Many who perceive the folly of thus looking at every great natural calamity as a sign go to an opposite extreme, and expect wonderful, unprecedented, supernatural and impossible signs, basing their expectations on a literal interpretation of the symbolic hieroglyphics of the Apocalypse. Such signs would be so grotesque and absurd in character that it is an insult to human intelligence, not to say to divine revelation, to assert that they are to be expected. There is one simple and all-sufficient answer to this childish conception of the signs of the last days. Our Lord and his Apostles alike furnish the reply.
Our Lord says: "And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot, they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed." (Luke 17:26-30.) And the Apostle continues thus: "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night; for when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape." (1 Thess. 5:2,3.)
If any such signs, as are imagined by some, were to precede the advent, the state of society predicted in these passages could not by any possibility exist. If monstrous, unheard-of, supernatural, portentous events were to transpire, would they not be telegraphed the same day all over a startled world, and produce such a sense of alarm and expectation that buying and selling, planting and building, and marrying and giving in marriage, would all be arrested together, and "peace and safety" would be far from any one's lips or thoughts? And if one of the Apocalyptical prodigies is to be thus fulfilled, all of course must be so. Conceive a succession of such supernatural prodigies, and a world asleep in fancied security, and overtaken by sudden destruction. No, there was nothing special to alarm the antediluvians before the day that Noah entered into the ark; nothing special to startle the men of Sodom ere the fire from heaven fell; and like as it was in those days, so will it be in these. All going on just as usual, no single sign to attract the world's attention. "None of the wicked shall understand" the true state of affairs, only the "wise" enlightened by the word of prophecy.
It will be objected, perhaps, but if the signs of the times, which we are expected to recognize, are neither ordinary natural events nor extraordinary unnatural ones, what are they? Scripture abundantly answers this inquiry. They are special, but perfectly natural events, occurring in a predicted order and at a predicted time, and various and widely differing events occurring in combination. They are not sudden, startling, newly-produced phenomena, but definite stages in long progressing movements, whose history was written twenty-five centuries ago.
As to political signs, allow me to make a few simple suggestions. I met a gentleman who has long been a Christian, a student of God's Word, a worker in his service, and he said he had bestowed little time on the subject of prophecy. Now there may be many such: let me refer, for the sake of such, to a great political chart of the world's history contained in Dan. 2, and especially as compared with Dan. 7. There [R860 : page 7] we have in brief the history of the last twenty-five centuries.
Let me suggest that Daniel is the introduction to John, the book of John the completion of Daniel. Daniel is first John; John is second Daniel. They are two parts of the same book, they treat of one subject, use the same symbols, employ the same hieroglyphics, and speak of the same course of events. These two books contain a series of visions in which the same ground is to a certain extent traversed again and again. The first vision in these two books is the simplest and most comprehensive. In that well-known vision, the fourfold image, representing the course of four great world-empires, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome, we have a chart of Gentile history.
And using the word chart reminds me of a very simple illustration that may be of value to some on the question of signs, and the point we have reached in the history of the world. Suppose you cross the ocean, and, traveling for many days or weeks, you reach a certain point of the voyage still out of sight of land, when one day you hear a rumor that the ship is approaching the port to which you are bound. You go to the captain, and inquire. "Yes, it is; we should sight the land at three o'clock this afternoon." "How do you know?" The captain unrolls his chart, and says, "There is the port; there is our present position." He lays his finger on the exact point reached by the ship. "How do you know we are there?" "Do you see that line drawn across the chart? that is our course: we have followed it; we are just there, and will sight land at three o'clock." You ask for evidence to reassure yourself and strengthen your expectation it shall be as he says. You ask for further light on the subject, for you cannot understand how he can be so sure. "Well, our voyage has run along such and such a course, we have come so many miles, the ship has kept the track marked there; on the way we have passed certain points, certain headlands, indicated there, as Ceylon, Adent and so forth, just as they are marked in the chart. Now the distance from Ceylon to the port we are making is so and so many miles; we have just run within twenty miles of it, and by three o'clock we will make the rest. The chart with the reckoning of time and distance shows exactly where we are." As he predicts so it comes to pass.
It seems to me that in a somewhat similar way God's servants and saints are guided by His wondrous and infallible Word. He has been pleased in the Book to give us a chart of history, not merely history still future, but history now past; and it has been unfolded to us, not in dim light, but in a broad, clear light, and part of the light, a most important part of it, is prophecy with reference to the political history of the world, with reference to the political history of the great Gentile powers. What a marvellous thing it is when we consider that twenty-five centuries ago, when the times of the Gentiles were beginning, when the Jewish subjection had commenced – for God has cast down the throne of David for a time, and set up the Gentile powers – that at that time, twenty-five centuries ago, the course of Gentile power should be clearly foreseen and distinctly foretold, written and marked out in God's holy Word! It is written and rewritten, prediction multiplied on prediction, and the whole thing laid bear and unfolded; and all history itself has run on these lines exactly as foretold.
I can only add on these signs, that each power has run its appointed course: the Babylonian empire rose, reached a certain point, and fell; the Medo-Persian empire succeeded, and reached a certain development, and also fell; the Grecian empire followed, and ruled and perished; then rose the Roman empire, passed through the course foretold, first united, then divided, just as indicated. Compare, I say, the Old Testament and New Testament predictions with the whole course of recorded history, and what do you see? History has run on the lines laid down; the predictions have been fulfilled, we know their fulfilment is sure. Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome Pagan, and Rome Papal and persecuting all have come and gone, and here we are at the close of the last four empires; the next thing therefore to be expected is the manifestation, the shining forth of the kingdom of God which shall never end.
Of course the history of the Gentile world is a different thing from the history of the Christian Church. Take then the latter: a great deal is foretold with regard to the history of the Christian Church. That church was to grow, according to prophecy. Beginning with small things it was to attain to a wonderful extent. From a small seed it was to spring into a great tree, spreading out its branches in which the birds of the air were to come and build. This wonderful change is foretold by the Lord Himself, by Paul again and again, and by John in still greater detail: all this has taken place.
Now observe, further, the bearing of this on this signs of the times. As the Church in her infancy was told of her extension; as she at length reached maturity; as she who was so small became a great spreading tree, and as the birds of the air came and built in her branches; as all this has become history, as all has been fulfilled; so another event foretold has taken place. In the history of the Church there has been a great falling away from the faith, and that apostasy was distinctly foretold. I suggest, then, that this word of Paul to the Thessalonians, "That day shall not come except there come the falling away first" (the apostasy), is a most important sentence in connection with the question of ecclesiastical signs of our times. The subject there is ecclesiastical; the apostasy was to take place, not in the world, but in the Christian Church. Paul is writing of what is to take place in the Church, and of that pure and practical hope; and he is writing just there and then with reference to our gathering together to Him. And Paul says, "That day shall not come except there come the falling away first." I believe that just as I accept any other statement of inspiration. Therefore I am forced to take this position; if that predicted falling away in the Christian Church has not taken place, it lies between us and our gathering together to Him.
But if, on the other hand, that predicted falling away has taken place, it does not lie between us and the coming of the Lord. If we compare this falling away in the Church with the passage with which you are familiar, "In the latter times some shall depart from the faith," the word in the original Greek is the same as in the passage in Thessalonians. When we compare the two together, surely we cannot evade the conclusion that they refer to the same thing. Now, the falling away in 1 Tim. 4, is described as "Giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons...forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats." Reading that, we cannot fail to recognize the portrait.
Time would fail to do more than add this one thought by way of suggestion, that after the declaration that the day shall not come except there come first the apostasy, there is added a very solemn declaration indeed, with reference to the one whom the Reformers recognized as the man of sin, whose manifestation is described. I rejoice I have learned to look, as I have done for thirty years, on Scripture in the light of history, and on history in the light of Scripture. And that doing so I can see the fulfillment of this prediction in accurate accordance with prophecy, a fulfillment recognized by the Reformers, though denied by the Papacy. And this very prophecy led to the Reformation, as they recognized the necessity of separating from the foretold apostasy. There is no time for further details, but let us search and see. Do not let us imagine we have reached a termination in the study of such things, but let us seek to advance in the understanding of them.– H. G. Guinness.
"And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God (R.V. "the Lord"), and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep." – Acts 7:59,60.
As usually understood, the "spirit" referred to by the persecuted saint, is an immortal part in man, which, in the case of the pious, is borne aloft to the nightless world at the final hour. About to die, it is assumed that the martyr committed himself, or his spirit, to the Savior, in hope of enduring happiness as soon as liberated from the tenement of clay. A pleasing representation, no doubt; but one encompassed with difficulties we dare not overlook.
This common view it is diametrically opposed to our Lord's testimony in the hearing of his Apostles immediately before his crucifixion: – "I go to prepare a place for you." – John 14:2. At the conclusion of their toils and pains were they appointed to go thither – as orthodoxy assures its disciples now? It seems not (v. 3) – "And if I go, and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there ye may be also:" words which may be regarded as explanatory of 13:33-36. When he rose in sublime majesty from the mountain top, the attending angels said to those who were spectators of his removal: – "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner" – that is, quietly and unknown to the world – "as ye have seen him go into heaven;" – Acts 1:11. The doctrine of Scripture then is, there is no such thing as going to him at death; not one saint will be privileged to behold his face till he revisits this world, according to his promise.
The Apostle Paul understood the Divine plan and ordination perfectly, and therefore anticipated neither reward nor inheritance till the Lord should be manifested a second time without a sin-offering unto salvation: – "I am now ready to be offered," he says, "and the time of my departure," – that is, from life – "is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me" – at death? No! – "At that day" – when he returns; "and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." – 2 Tim. 4:6-8. Was not Stephen educated in the same grand, errorless, spiritual school? Knew he not that the Deliverer in whom he trusted had spoken in this manner: – "I will come again and receive you unto myself?"
Following his hours of agony on the hill of shame, and when the last moment had arrived, the Man of Sorrows, after crying with a loud voice, closed his utterances with these words: – "Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit; and having said thus, he gave up the ghost" (literally, out-breathed); that is – died. – Luke 23:46. According to Matthew 27:50, He "yielded up the ghost" (literally, dismissed his spirit); i.e., drew his last breath, or ceased to live. Stephen, the earliest martyr among the disciples, appears to have imitated his Master in the closing scene. Jesus said, "Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit." When the stones were cruelly battering his quivering form, Stephen appealed thus: – "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
The original word used by the dying Lord, and by his dying servant, is pneuma, translated "spirit," and both passages are given in Robinson's Greek Lexicon of the New Testament as illustrations of the term, when indicating "the principle of life residing in the breath;" turning our thoughts back to the old record: – The Lord God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul. – Gen. 2:7.
Taking this as undoubtedly correct, the right interpretation of this expiring witness' devout language is not hard to find. He called on his exalted Lord to receive back the life-giving breath, or to accept his life which he rendered up as a sacrifice on the altar of Christianity. Very different from the popular view, but quite in accord with the general teachings of Scripture, and the rest of this narrative itself. After exclaiming, – "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" – did he pass upward to the heavenly abode? As a spirit, winged he his flight to the Redeemer's presence? No, verily: "He kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, – Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep." He was stoned to death, he returned to the dust. For him there was no release till the "dead in Christ," during his presence and by his power, burst forth in the bloom and blessedness of immortality.
The Boston Recorder relates the following: "Miss Fiske, while in the Nestorian Mission, was at one time in feeble health, and much depressed in spirits. One hot Sabbath afternoon she sat on her mat on the chapel floor, longing for support and rest, feeling unable to maintain her trying position until the close of worship. Presently she felt a woman's form seated at her back, and heard the whisper, 'Lean on me.'
"Scarcely yielding to the request, she heard it repeated, 'Lean on me.' Then she divided her weight with the gentle pleader, but that did not suffice. In earnest, almost reproachful tones, the voice again urged, 'If you love me, lean hard.' This incident is worth a whole volume of commentary on the nature of true love, which is happiest when it can do most for the loved one."– Sel.
Ans. We think not. See the definition of love in our September, 1884, issue. When God finally destroys any of his creatures, it will be because they have irrecoverably lost those traits of character which command respect, esteem, and affection; and because such a life, if prolonged, would only be productive of misery both to itself and others. In mercy, therefore, and not in love, God will finally destroy those who will not be recovered to virtue and purity.
Ans. By finding in yourself the mind of God controlling your life in its every particular. What is the mind of God? It is revealed through his Word to be a mind or will to suffer for truth even unto death, rather than to have, hold, or in any way assist error: It is a mind to learn and "know the truth": It is a mind to be free completely from the influence and power of error – "free indeed": It is a mind to obey the truth under all circumstances and at any cost. It will be in you if of the body of Christ, what it was in the head and early members, a mind to do the Father's will and to sacrifice all things of an earthly character to gain the heavenly riches and glories promised to the overcomers and joint-heirs.
During the Christian Age the Spirit begets to heavenly hopes, by holding out in Scripture heavenly or spiritual rewards – life everlasting as spiritual beings. In the next age it will beget (hope and aspiration) to earthly life and human perfection, by holding out such, as the reward of obedience. The way during the Gospel Age has been difficult, and few have found it – few, comparatively, have been begotten to the new nature, but in the Millennial Age the spirit of truth and knowledge will be so diffused among "all flesh," that all may be begotten of it, to the grand hope of human perfection and life everlasting; and though not so grand as the spiritual, the conditions will be easier to comply with, as the same degree of sacrifice and self-denial will not be necessary under the favorable conditions of that age.
Ques. If I understand you, you maintain that the number of those going to destruction finally will be small in proportion to those who will attain to everlasting life. The reverse appears to be taught in Matt. 7:13,14: "Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
Ans. This Scripture is applicable only in the Gospel Age. The only way of life that has been open during the Gospel Age has been the narrow way of sacrifice, in which few have cared to walk. The mass of mankind have preferred to walk in the easy way of self-gratification – the broad way which leadeth to destruction. In the age to come this will all be changed: those who are now walking the narrow way, will then have gained the great prize offered to them – immortality – the divine nature. A highway shall then be opened up for the world, and it shall be called the way of holiness. The stones (stumbling stones) shall all be gathered out, and the standard of truth lifted up for the people, and made so plain that the wayfaring man, and those acquainted therewith, shall not err therein. Isa. 35:8; 62:10. That highway will lead to the perfection of human nature. See "FOOD," page 127.
Ans. Those who will be in the kingdom of God will not be the subjects of it, but the rulers in it. When the kingdom of God is fully set up, all men, whether good or bad, willing or unwilling will be the subjects of it; for the kingdom will be over all the earth. As every man within the limits of British territory is subject to the control of the British government, and is entitled to its protection and favors if obedient to its laws, or to its penalties if a violater of its laws: so every man will be a subject of the heavenly kingdom when it is established over all the earth.
If by being in the Kingdom of God, you mean within its territory, and therefore a subject of it, then, in this sense, all men will be in it as soon as it is established. And to be thrust out of the kingdom, would mean to be thrust out of the earth – to die.
But surely, this is not what Jesus meant when he said to the prejudiced and unbelieving Jews, "Ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the Kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out." (Luke 13:28.) The hitherto unbelieving Jews will not be in power, and will not occupy the ruling positions of that kingdom (reserved for faithful Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the prophets); but they will not be deprived of the blessings of that kingdom, which are for "all the families of the earth." In whatever way divine wisdom shall appoint, all will share its blessings. In some cases it will be severe discipline, in others less severe, until fully restored to perfection.
Therefore if these subjects of the kingdom shall see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob IN the kingdom, and realize that they themselves are not in it, it is plain that only those in the ruling positions of the kingdom, were spoken of by Jesus as IN the kingdom.
The subjects therefore will not be in the kingdom, in the sense in which Jesus used the expression; but will be under its authority and control. And under its dominion the obedient will be richly blessed. All who will fully and cheerfully submit themselves, will in the end, enjoy a full restitution to perfection; and in the end of the age when Christ gives up the kingdom to God the Father, the original dominion over the earth will be restored to the whole restored human race. – Matt. 25:34.
The dominion given to them will be the same as at first given to Adam, and lost by him. It is now exercised by Satan who uses fallen man as his tool. It will be reclaimed and retaken by Christ who purchased it, ("the purchased possession") at the same time, and by the same precious blood which bought all, in order to restore all things (man and earth) to the original design of the Father, illustrated in Adam and his dominion. – Gen. 1:28. Psa. 8:6-8.
"There is a man," said his neighbor, speaking of the village carpenter, "who has done more good, I really believe, in this community than any other person who ever lived in it. He cannot talk very well in prayer-meeting, and he does not often try. He isn't worth two thousand dollars, and it's but little that he can put down on subscription paper for any object. But a new family never moves into the village that he does not find them out, to give them a neighborly welcome, and offer any little service he can render. He is usually on the lookout to give strangers a seat in his pew at church. He is always ready to watch with a sick neighbor and look after his affairs for him, and I've sometimes thought he and his wife kept house plants in winter just for the sake of being able to send little bouquets to invalids. He finds time for a pleasant word for every child he meets, and you'll always see them climbing into his one-horse wagon when he has no other load. He really seems to have a genius for helping folks in all sorts of common ways, and it does me good every day just to meet him on the street."– Selected.
The image of Christ, drawn by the pencil of the Spirit, to which Scripture directs our aim, is painted in such colors that it is impossible often to contemplate it without its irresistibly affecting the heart. As the bodily eye that has looked long at the sun retains a bright image of it, so the spiritual eye that gazes steadfastly on the face of Christ is filled with light. We carry this image with us wherever we go, and it blends with all our thoughts and actions. It never ceases to be a study to us, ever growing more bright and beautiful as we gaze upon it, revealing in contrast, more and more, every darkness of our own hearts. I have said, it is with us at conversion as it is in spring, when the sun melts the snow in the fields and on the mountain side; but upon the highest peaks, and in the deepest valleys, patches of it still remain. So the rays of the spiritual sun may penetrate our souls, and still there remains in each heart heights and depths where yet all is cold and hard. How much must yet be melted away, he is first aware who conscientiously yields himself up to the discipline of Scripture. The longer we contemplate Christ, the more do we discover how unlike him we are, how selfishness has penetrated our inmost nature, how poor we are in humanity, in love. When we enter this school of discipline, it does not seem so. This beholding ourselves in the image of Christ has the peculiarity, that whilst we more and more discover the darkness in us, upon us all the while unconscious, it is pouring its light. Paul has expressed this in a particularly rich passage in his letter to the Corinthians. He says: "But we all, with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." A wonderfully rich saying indeed. Just as when we behold ourselves in a metallic mirror, he would say, it spreads over us its own effulgence; so we Christians, looking with unveiled face at Christ, as into the mirror of humanity, are adorned with his light, made partakers of his Spirit, changed, as from glory to glory, into the same resplendent image.– Tholuck.
"He that followeth me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life." – John 8:12.
My friend had some plants which had been all winter in a south window, where they had the sun. They looked bright and flourishing, and already blooming in the early spring. It was cheering to see the rich verdure and luxuriant bloom, and in my warm admiration I exclaimed, "How lovely! how charming!"
But there was one which was unlike the others. It was withered and leafless. I remarked, "That one appears to be dead." She replied, "No, it is not dead. I have just brought it up out of the cellar. It was there all winter, shut out from the sun and air. Plants may live a long time in the dark and in an ungenial atmosphere, though they lose their foliage and their beauty; but it is wonderful how soon the sun will revive them and restore their verdure."
Just so, I said, it is in regard to Christians. If deprived of the light of his face who is called the Sun of Righteousness – the joy of earth and heaven – how sad and forlorn they appear, no indications of spiritual life, no flowers of Christian experience, no fruits of grace, no beauty, no attraction. The secret is, they have been living down in the cellar, away from the bright sun, and in an unhealthy atmosphere.
Poor, drooping soul, hast thou been down in that gloomy place, and has thy spiritual vigor died out? Now, stripped of thy sweet comforts, art thou despondently saying, "There is no hope for me"? Be not discouraged. Come right up in the sunlight, and the pure air of love, where Jesus lives, and where he wants us all to live.
"Rise, he calleth thee!" This is the spring time. He would array thee in thy vernal robes, and deck thee with glory and beauty. Dost thou seem dead? no vitality left? Be not dismayed, for Jesus says, "He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." His life-giving beams can vivify thy soul much more speedily than the natural sun can revive withered plants.
'Tis only to place thy poor, drooping heart beneath his blessed rays, and soon thou wilt feel new life and fresh vigor start through thy whole being, and thus in the garden of the Lord, thou wilt become a tree of righteousness whose lovely bloom and rich fruits will abound to the glory and praise of God. Come! Oh, come quickly into the sunlight!– M. D. James.