BUSINESS OFFICE: NO. 40 FEDERAL ST. ALLEGHENY, PA.
The Editor recognizes a responsibility to the Master, relative to what shall appear in these columns, which he cannot and does not cast aside; yet he should not be understood as endorsing every expression of correspondents, or of articles selected from other periodicals.
This paper will be sent free to any of the Lord's poor who will send a card yearly requesting it. Freely we have received and freely we would give the truth. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat – yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." And you that have it – "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently – and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness." – ISAIAH 55:1,2.
AN INDEX to Young's Concordance. We have obtained a lot of these cloth bound, which we can furnish at 25 cents each by mail. They are very useful to those who have learned to appreciate the Concordance.
THE PASSOVER FEAST celebrated by the Hebrews continues seven days, commencing on Tuesday, April 20th, (which is reckoned as commencing Monday evening at 6 P.M.) which is the fifteenth day of the Jewish month Nisan.
We celebrate the killing of the Passover Lamb, which occurred previous to the feast kept by the Jews. It was on the afternoon of the fourteenth of Nisan (corresponding this year to Monday afternoon, April 19th) that Jesus died. According to the law the Passover Lamb must be killed on the fourteenth of Nisan, which this year would be any time between Lord's Day, April 18th, at 6 P.M., and Monday, April 19th, at 6 P.M.
When the Lord and the Apostles celebrated the Passover Supper for the last time together, they partook of it early on the fourteenth – "the same night in which he was betrayed." After the typical supper the Remembrancer, or Lord's Supper, was instituted, and then they went out – to Gethsemane, to Caiphas, to Herod and Pilate, and to Calvary; where Jesus was crucified on the afternoon of that same day, and buried the same afternoon, because the great Feast of Passover began the day following, commencing at 6 P.M. of the same day in which Jesus died. – John 19:32,33.
It was not the Passover Feast then, but the supper, that Jesus observed, and after which he instituted as instead of it a memorial of his death in the bread and wine; saying, "Do this in remembrance of me."
Our celebration of the REMEMBRANCER this year will therefore be in the evening of Lord's Day, April 18th at 8 P.M. Let as many as can, meet together, here or elsewhere, on this occasion; and let not those who are alone fail to comply with the dying Redeemer's words – "DO THIS in remembrance of me" – not feeling it a compulsory duty, but love's privilege.
The feast-week of Passover celebrated by the Jews, to us is fulfilled on a higher plane, in the joy and peace and liberty wherewith Christ makes free from the antitype of Egypt – the world. And we will realize a still grander liberty and joy when our release from bondage is actually complete.
The evidences are increasing on every hand which prove not that the Day of the Lord is near, but that it has come; that we are in it and that onward "it hasteth greatly." We are already in the time of which the Prophet spoke, saying, "The mighty man shall weep there bitterly," – the mighty in every sense of the word, in power, in wealth, and in religious influence. They are getting into the predicted distress, though the pinching process only begun, does not as yet cause them to cry out with bitterness; but surely and increasingly it is coming, as graphically described in Scripture language "as travail upon a woman;" with increasing severity, relieved by intervals of rest.
The stirring events of the past few weeks – riots, strikes, lockouts, boycotts, etc., are known to all, and speak of a power which the mighty men, statesmen, capitalists and clergymen, little imagined or dreamed of a few years ago, when the TOWER in its first issues pointed out from the Scriptures that thus it would be.
Day by day, the forces gather and the trouble increases, yet so gradually have they come, that few are awake to their extent, or appreciate the situation fully; hence the present condition of affairs causes even less uneasiness than it deserves to.
Another point to which we called attention some time since, is being fulfilled. We pointed out that "The Beast" of Revelation 13:4-8 representing the Papacy, would in the struggle between capital and labor already begun, be found on the side of the "kings and mighty," and would with them be overthrown, and along with it the "false Prophet" (representing in symbol the various sects of Protestantism) as portrayed in Revelation 19:19. The fact that the "Two Horned Beast" was not mentioned at all in this final struggle we interpreted as signifying that that system (The State Church of England and Ireland) would pass out of existence as a "beast," or church and state combination.
Looking about us, we see that not only are Papists and Protestants coming closer together to the support of the "mighty," but to the support of each other, feeling that they must all stand or fall together. We see too that Germany, the once bitter foe of Papacy, has surrendered and granted it special rights and privileges in Germany, and honored it by submitting to the Pope state questions for arbitration; and the Pope in turn has honored Bismarck with membership in the so called "Order of Jesus," though as the opponent of Papacy, few ever earned more richly than he, the curses and anathemas of the Pope.
While thus strengthening herself with the "mighty and the chief-captains" on the one hand, on the other Papacy has commenced a crusade against labor organizations; and the public press reports show, that since our last issue a number of their Bishops have issued circular letters denouncing the workmen's association known as "The Knights of Labor," and ordering that their faithful shall not be identified with it.
This would have been a wise stroke of policy in times past, but is not to-day. In thus seeking the favor of the "mighty," Rome will surely lose her hold over the masses, whose intelligence is rapidly growing, and who are learning to think for themselves. The result will be as shown (Rev. 19:20), the governments will fall and these religious institutions will go into destruction.
The ecclesiastical power symbolized by the Two Horned Beast, is rapidly dissolving. The church as a governmental establishment in Ireland, has already passed away, and the ablest statesmen of England concede that it is only the question of a very short time when it will be disestablished in England. In fact a bill to this effect was introduced in Parliament this present month, and was evaded by but a small majority, because some felt that the question was scarcely ripe yet.
Thus we see the Two Horned Beast as such dropping from view, and we can thus account for the fact that it has no part in the struggle at its close as shown in Rev. 19:19,20. A "beast" is the symbol of a kingdom: hence the separating of the English church from the government will neither destroy the beast nor church; but since Revelation is treating of ecclesiastical beasts, it drops from view when it ceases to be an ecclesiastical government. In Rev. 19:19,20 its government appears among the others – among the "kings of the earth," etc., and the English church is represented among the other Protestant systems in the "false prophet."
Thus, the great events of the "great day of God Almighty" are transpiring before our eyes. "The voice of the Chief Messenger" [Jesus] is separating among men and nations and systems, and the result as symbolically stated will follow, and is even now commencing: "He uttered his voice – the earth [society] melted." Even now the "trump of God" the "Seventh Trumpet" is sounding, and the events it introduces (Rev. 11:15-18) are visible to the eyes of the understanding of such as have had their eyes anointed with the eyesalve of truth (Rev. 3:18), and whose senses are exercised by reason of use. (Heb. 5:14.)
Be it remembered too, that we pointed out, that not only must a trial or test pass upon all the systems of Christianity in this hour of trial, but that it must also pass upon every individual in those systems manifesting, and separating the wheat from the tares. This work must be thorough.
The tares are those who profess to be wholly consecrated, but really are not: the wheat are those who are actually, as well as professedly, wholly consecrated to the Lord and his truth. The "harvest" work must separate these. It will in some manner test the sincerity of each individual professing membership in Christ.
Each one will be brought increasingly to the test – "Lovest thou me" – more than the houses, lands, business, friendships, luxuries, etc., of the present life? Lovest thou me so much more, that thou wilt leave the pursuit of these to follow me in the narrow path, using them only to the extent that necessity may compel; seeking chiefly the prize of your high calling – joint heirship with me in the kingdom?
It will be found that the breach will widen if you are not fully consecrated. If you are not rendering to the Lord according to your covenant, and according to your ability, you will more and more come to dislike such reminders of it as this, until, to a large extent, you will lose your interest in everything associated with it, or that reminds you of the greatness of the prize for which we run, or the narrowness of the way which leads to it and in which you are not walking.
On the contrary, if your consecration is full, and your spirit fervent, and your labor of sacrifice abundant, and its perfume constantly ascending before God – acceptable through Jesus Christ our Lord – you will go from strength to strength increasingly, and each additional self-denial, or self-sacrifice on behalf of the truth, will be an added pleasure, and bring you closer to the Master, and cause you to feel a deeper and clearer interest in the "harvest" work now in progress. And you will not only pray the Lord for more laborers in the harvest, but will be one of those to answer your own prayers.
While social and religious systems are falling, and melting in the presence of the Lord, – in this the great day of his wrath – who shall be able to stand? "Who may abide the day of his presence? and who shall stand when he appeareth? For He is like a refiner's fire." Make use of every means of grace for yourselves and others; "abide" in Christ; bring forth much fruit; let your light shine; and have on the whole armour of God that ye may be able to stand in this evil day; and having done all you can, having complied with your covenant, you shall stand complete in Him.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: I have received the "Food for Thinking Christians." I sent one to my father, and the one I wanted to send to my brother-in-law I let a neighbor have. He was here when I received them, and nothing would do but that I might let him read it. He is much interested. So he and others that I have talked with want the paper and book. The poor class of people I can do the most with as a rule. One sister sent me word to-day that she wanted it sure, without fail. Good interest, so far as I have investigated. I am not a public speaker, but I could get as many as twenty-four subscribers without much lost time, I think; though if I had one hundred books, I would try, during this year, to take that many subscribers, although I have to work by the day for my living. Send me some of the books and sample papers, and I will do all I can. Yours in Christ,
DEAR FRIEND AND BROTHER: – I have great encouragement to remain yet a while in this neighborhood as the interest is becoming greater among the people. I shall expect other subscriptions in a few days. The people are becoming awakened and there is no one that is not fearful to tackle the WATCH TOWER. It stands fair and is cutting its way. The interest is among both saints and sinners. O, how it rejoices my heart to see the truth taking the place of error. I am well pleased with the Diaglott, and may expect others to order it soon. Your brother in the harvest work.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: Again I write you. I have taken but one subscriber since I commenced to canvass. I have not done much for the past three or four weeks, on account of injuries received from being thrown from a carriage. Last Monday I collected in and distributed some packages. I thought if I could only secure one each time, I would feel well repaid. As it was, I received encouragement otherwise. Quite a number told me they thought it good. One old lady said, "I find this the old style, or first way of worshiping Christ," and looking up through her spectacles, she said, "I believe you will do a great deal of good distributing these books around, and the Lord will bless you for it, too." This did me good, and I thought, one cannot always tell by outward signs where the seed of truth has been sown in good ground that may in time bring forth fruit to the Lord's glory. When I started out in this work, it was with many fears. I did not know what treatment I should receive, but intended to do whatever was presented to me, which would tend to the carrying out of God's plans, whatever they might be. Although I have not seen any great results as yet attending my efforts, I cannot tell what might grow out of it. There is, I find, a glorious blessing attending this work, and I wish I could put into it all of my time and influence, but as it is, I cannot. A year or so ago I gave "Food" and some of my papers to a minister of this place to distribute among his congregation. He replied, "I have received some of these papers before; it would do for me to read them, but not for them. I would not have them read these for anything." But since I have been canvassing, I have come among some of his people. I should not wonder if more of his people will see and read the very reading he would not have them hear for anything.
A sister in Michigan writes of her effort to spread the truth, and the same mail brings us the following from an evangelist whom she has been instrumental in helping to see the truth more perfectly. This reminds us of the narrative in Acts 18:25,26. The brother writes thus: –
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I have most happily come across a copy of "Food" which I have read with much enjoyment. The thought of the Lord's presence is both beautiful and Scriptural. I received this of Sister S., on whom I called, accidentally some would say, but providentially I believe.
Six months since I dedicated myself specially to the Lord's service as he would be pleased to use me. Four months since I gave up my "license" (?) to preach, and determined to go henceforth in my Lord's name alone and learn by his grace to trust him for means to support my wife and four children. They and my friends fear that I have made a mistake. It has cost considerably in dollars, but I have had much blessing. I go from place to place preaching without charge. I have tried to earn a living by selling books and charts during the day time.
I speak at the Lutheran Meeting House next First Day on "The Lord Jesus Christ our Mediator." How precious is that truth to me now. I hope to be at home next week after two months' absence in Evangelistic work. I little thought to get such a blessing when I left.
Please send me some of the packets; I will use them as suggested in the private printed letter shown me by Sister S.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I have been able to do nothing yet worth speaking of. In this sparsely settled region one can not see many people without traveling from place to place. I cannot travel on horseback or on foot; but when warm weather comes, if I find myself sufficiently strong, and have the means to fit out a wagon and team in which myself and wife can ride (for I am too helpless to go alone), I want to help to spread the truth by extending the circulation of the WATCH TOWER, and by teaching. I am using the few opportunities I have now, talking and trying to induce those who show some desire to learn, to examine the WATCH TOWER and the copies of "Food" you sent me. It is useless to cast pearls before swine. Those who will not study the Scriptures will take no interest in these things.
The Lord increase your usefulness and bless you abundantly.
DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER RUSSELL: – I write you a few lines to tell you what the Lord is doing for us here. Three years ago when I came out of Babylon, I was alone but soon my husband followed; and now nine of us meet to read the TOWER and compare it with the Scriptures. And if it were not at the time it is, it would be strange to see how well we all agree, as we were Presbyterians, Methodists and Baptists. I think there are some others that are almost persuaded. Praise the Lord for his goodness and mercy. Little did I think that I ever would realize in this life so much of his grace; but his word is sure; "He that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
Your sister in Christ
Word comes to us from the East, the West, and the South, of some who intend, if the Lord will, to be present and commemorate the Lord's Supper and death, with us here in Allegheny, on the anniversary, April 18th, 1886. We are glad of this – the more the better. We will endeavor to make ample arrangements, and hope the North also will be liberally represented. The friends here will entertain as many as possible, free of charge; for others we will make special terms at reasonable rates.
The meetings will commence Lord's Day, April 18th, when there will be a Thanksgiving service at 9 A.M.; preaching at 10:30 A.M.; (at 1:30 P.M. in German); and at 3 P.M. At 8 P.M. the Lord's Supper will be celebrated. Special meetings will be held during the evenings of that week, as will then be announced. It has been urged that at these meetings, among other topics, the Time Prophecies, and other proofs which show that we are now living in the period called "the harvest" of the Gospel Age, and that our Lord is now personally present, and the work of the new dispensation commenced, should be given special prominence. We believe that the importance of these truths, especially to those who are teaching in a public manner, can scarcely be overestimated. They are needful to give them confidence to speak with proper boldness and force of things which are now due to the household of faith; and we trust for grace sufficient to make these subjects very clear.
Again we urge so many as have the means to spare, to come; and especially those who are in some measure public teachers of the good tidings, or who have talents which they desire to thus utilize in the "harvest" work. Come; we will do each other good, and be revived, and reinvigorated for the work, "as iron sharpeneth iron." The Master will be with us according to promise, and our hearts shall burn within us as he opens the Scriptures to our understanding, solves our questions and resolves our doubts.
Come with your own heart overflowing with love for the Master and for his brethren and for his truth; and praying for a blessing upon yourself and each other, and "keep yourself in the love of God." Jude 20-25.
Send a Postal Card as soon as you have positively decided to come, that we may know whom to expect; and if possible, so arrange as to arrive here Saturday, April 17th before dark. On arrival come direct to our office, which is centrally located.
As "ambassadors of Christ, as though God did beseech you by us." – (2 Cor. 5:20.)
This is a most high and honorable commission, and we do not wonder that Paul, writing to the Corinthians, declared himself and his fellow-laborers to be workers together with God and Christ, and besought them not to receive the reconciling grace of which they were the messengers, in vain. But not only are ministers workers together for Christ, but every one who is called to life "together with him" is a worker together with him. As the vine does not bear fruit directly, but by means of the branches, so it is with Christ. "Together with him," even as the branch, abiding together in the vine, so we are workers together with Christ. If only we could fully realize and truly take hold on the significance of the word "together," how much more fruit we would bear; how much wasted talent and energy, now lost in self-effort, would be saved; how light and gladsome would the labor be; how that fellowship and union, with power, would lighten labor when it is heavy and wearisome, and sanctify the senses, the afflictions, and the disappointments that are so often met with in the work. Union and fellowship with Christ in spiritual privilege and spiritual service are the whole secret of Christian life.
It has been and still is God's great work to win lost men back to himself, and make ready for the regeneration of the world, and it is also our work. If we would be workers together with Christ, we must study him as the model workman in his Father's business. Let us note some of the more marked characteristics of our Lord as brought out in connection with his work among men.
First. It is recorded of him: "Lo! I come! I delight to do thy will, O, my God! Yea, thy law is written within my heart." This must be the key-note to all service with and for God. It is not first the work, but the will of God that we are to do. The work is not always to our mind or taste; but the will of God, as Faber has it, is always the "sweet will of God." We asked a little boy a few days ago, if he did not want to do something else for us. To which he promptly replied: "No, sir, but if you want me to do it, I will." The work itself is sometimes irksome, especially in many of its details. The reaping is always glad; but the plowing and sowing, the patient waiting, and the careful tending, are not always to our mind. Weariness and perplexity, "bonds, stripes and imprisonments" are in the way; then we must have recourse to the mainspring of action and service: "I delight to do THY WILL, O, my God."
Second. We also note that our Lord said: "For their sakes I sanctify myself." Here, again, we have another principle of action: "For their sakes." Not for ourselves, but for their sakes, we can give ourselves up to work for men. Deep fellowship with Christ is necessary to this. Oftentimes we must go empty-hearted to Christ and get a filling of the divine love.
Even those we love most, are indifferent and ungrateful, and even worse, in the face of our care for them. But more often our work lies among those for whom we have no natural care, and not seldom those who are in themselves uninteresting and repugnant to us. Then it is, that inspired by the love of Christ and moved by the will of God, we can do "all things through Christ which helpeth us." This principle in our work, "together with him," means high consecration, with self-denial, in which we learn not to look at our own things, but on "the things of another." This only can teach us not to be respectors of persons; to love deeper, and beyond a man's clothes, culture and surroundings, even at his soul the broken image of God in him, and on to the end where, by faith, we see him in glory. Christ at the well, talking with the fallen woman of Samaria, is an example of doing the will of God, and at the same time sanctifying [setting apart] himself for the sake of another.
Third. "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me." Here we see such devotion to work that even the natural and ordinary care and comfort of the body is set aside.– The Independent.
IF any one should give me a dish of sand and tell me that there were particles of iron in it, I might look with my eyes for them, and search for them with my clumsy fingers, and be unable to find them; but let me take a magnet and sweep it, and how it would draw to itself the most invisible particles by the mere power of attraction! The unthankful heart, like my finger in the sand, discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day, and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find in every hour some heavenly blessings; only, the iron in God's sand is gold.– O. W. Holmes.
Go labor on; spend, and be spent, –
Thy joy to do the Father's will;
It is the way the Master went,
Should not the servant tread it still?
Go labor on; 'tis not for naught;
Thy earthly loss is heavenly gain;
Men heed thee, love thee, praise thee not;
The Master praises, – what are men?
Go labor on; enough, while here
If he shall praise thee, – if he deign
Thy willing heart to mark and cheer;
No toil for him shall be in vain.
Men sit in darkness at your side,
Without a hope beyond the tomb;
Take up the torch and wave it wide,
The torch that lights the thickest gloom.
Go labor on; your hands are weak,
Your knees are faint, your soul cast down,
Yet falter not; the prize you seek,
Is near, – a kingdom and a crown!
We have heretofore shown that election as taught in the Scriptures is not in opposition to, but in harmony with the free moral agency of the elected classes. We have endeavored to show, that while during the Jewish age there was an election or selection of a "house of servants," as during the present Christian age, an election or selection of a "house of sons" (Heb. 3:5,6) is in progress, yet neither of these selections was arbitrary so far as individuals were concerned. God did arbitrarily foreordain and determine that these two classes should be selected, and arbitrarily set apart a particular and limited period of time for the selection of each, and for aught we know to the contrary, He arbitrarily and unalterably fixed the number of each of these classes, so that not one more, nor one less, shall complete each of these elect classes, foreordained in this plan; but He did not and in harmony with His own justice He could not, arbitrarily foreordain and elect that certain individuals must be of these classes regardless of their wishes and endeavors, and regardless of the operations of His own arrangements and regulations governing these elections.
But before any are able to look at the subject of Election and Reprobation intelligently, they must first of all get rid of the false and blinding idea that election implies "selected to go to heaven" and reprobation, "selected to go to eternal torture." No such significance attaches in any way to the words. God not only applies justice to his creatures in the laws governing them, but He applies the same to himself; hence it would be as unjust and impossible for God to choose, select or elect an unworthy person to heaven as it would be for him to torture a righteous person. Furthermore, to be unchosen to a particular office or position does not imply that the unchosen one is wholly undesirable, but that he is not chosen to the particular office or position for which choice is being made.
Since God is good and all his plans are wise and beneficent, it follows that to be selected by Him to perform any part of His plan, is an honor and a favor. Thus God having purposed in himself the redemption of mankind from the curse, and the consequent lifting up, or restoring of all things, (Acts 3:19,21) not only foretold it, but began preparations for that restitution. Accordingly also having determined that this restitution should be accomplished by means of a "kingdom of God" or a government of earth in harmony with his laws, and having pre-determined that this kingdom should be of two parts, a human and a spiritual, He began His preparation by selecting first the natural or human portion, of the proposed, and as yet future kingdom.
Mark well that God foreordained these two classes, and the work for which he intended them, long before the individuals composing those classes had any existence. But how has this predetermined will of God operated in selecting the predetermined classes for the predetermined service of honor? Infinite wisdom made choice among the families of earth and chose Abraham and his family. Arbitrarily and without reason for such a choice? Probably not; in all probability Abram's family was best suited to the divine purpose, the best adapted to the execution of the plan God had in view.
It was part of Israel's difficulty that they supposed God's election of their nation an arbitrary election and thought it a sufficient guarantee of God's exclusive favor to be able to say, Abraham is our father – we are through him the elect people of God. (Luke 3:8.) But this was a mistake, for though God had chosen Abraham's family for a special service, and separated them by his law and favors from other nations, this was the extent of the favor they enjoyed – "To them were committed the oracles of God."
But by reason of this national favor, each individual of that nation had special knowledge and opportunities beyond those of other nations, and their faithfulness or unfaithfulness, obedience or disobedience to this knowledge and favor, decided which individuals of that called and chosen and favored nation, were worthy of the position of future honor and service as members of the human or earthly phase, of the kingdom of God, which is to be established in ruling and blessing power "under the whole heavens."
Which individuals, because of faith and obedience, were accepted as making their election sure to that future honor and service, we know only in part. The names of some of the most notable only are given by the Apostle (Heb. 11:17-39). These evidenced their worthiness of the favors God held before them, by the sacrifices which they made of present honors and comforts, to obtain the future and lasting honors of heavenly promise. Therefore God will in due time honor them by manifesting them as his elect to the position and service to which he called them; and will give them a portion or share in the "heavenly city," i.e., in the heavenly government or kingdom which he will establish; the portion promised them and to which they and all Israel were called or invited, but for which the great mass were unworthy. The great mass of that nation, unworthy of those honors, shall behold the worthy ones – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom, in the ruling positions of trust and honor, and they themselves cast out, as reprobates unworthy of such honor. Yet they are not to be cast off from all favor of God; rather they will be blessed by and under the righteous dominion which Christ will establish and in which their fellows are granted the earthly portion. They shall see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and be themselves rejected as unworthy of that honor.*
The election of the full number for the human portion of the kingdom ended about the time of Jesus' baptism and anointing, when he began to bring Life and Immortality to light. Then began the selection of the class which God had predetermined he would select from among men for exaltation to the "divine nature," and to constitute the spiritual phase of the kingdom which will restore and bless the world. Of these Jesus was the first, the "forerunner," the chief or captain. In the selection of this spiritual class Abraham's literal descendants, the Hebrews, have not been so exclusively favored as they were in the previous selection, for instead of the light of truth and "oracles of God" through which the call is made, being confined to Israel, it has by God's design and arrangement gone out into all the earth – calling all who have "an ear to hear" to justification, through faith in the blood of Christ as their redemption price, and further to sacrifice and glory – the "high calling." The only pre-eminence given to Hebrews under this last call, is that it commenced with them. (Luke 24:47.) The previous call was confined to them.
Nor should we overlook the fact that though in the process of selecting these two classes, certain individuals were elected or chosen to do a service in connection with the calling of these classes, this in no way implied their election to one of those classes. Thus Jacob like Abram was chosen to be a father of the favored nation and Moses, Samuel and others were chosen to a service in the first selection, as Paul and the other Apostles, and others since, have been chosen and selected for special service as God's agents in the selection of the spiritual class, yet their being elected to this service, was in no way an infringement upon their free moral agency, and in no way decided for them the question of their final election to the classes to which they were called.
Thus Paul, after telling us that God chose him and prepared him for this service in early life, (Gal. 1:15), also assures us, that he knew full well that the call to this service and the fact that he was used as a servant in announcing the "heavenly calling" to others, by no means proved that he would attain to the prize of his high calling.
To be called to such special service as Paul and the other apostles were called to, was a special honor which they must appreciate to use; and to have a call to the heavenly honor and future service is a still greater honor, and the worthiness of the apostles, and of all who will attain it, is, during this age, being tested by the measure of our love and gratitude to God; as shown in our obedience, and proved in our self-denials.
That Paul understood that obedience or unfaithfulness to the present opportunities, was to prove whether he was worthy or unworthy to be a member of the already elect, or predetermined spiritual class – the "body of Christ," is clearly evident from his many statements to this effect. For instance he says: "I keep my body under and bring it into subjection [I do not allow my human appetites, or ambitions, or hopes, to govern my course, but I permit the new mind, begotten of God's promises, to rule], lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, [of the great prize for which we run and sacrifice], I myself should be a castaway+ [rejected as unworthy a place in that choice company which God has predetermined shall be composed of "overcomers"] 1 Cor. 9:27. "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended [or grasped the prize to which God called me, and for which I, with you, am running]; but ...I press along the line towards the mark for the prize of the high calling." – (Phil. 3:11-15.) And in the preceding verses he tells us in what way he was running or pressing along the line to win this great prize which God has already predetermined to give to the class whom he would select for it. He tells us that he was casting away former hopes, and ambitions, and honors, as though they were worthless and vile, and spending every effort to win a place in the body of Christ, and to secure a share in the chief resurrection [to spiritual being].
He well knew that, because redeemed, "all in their graves" would in due time "come forth;" but he knew, too, that only the elect "little flock" would be raised spiritual beings like their Captain and forerunner; and he was willing to sacrifice everything (as Christ also did) to obtain a place in that elect class. The apostle knew also that from the moment of consecration he was reckoned a member of that chosen "body" or "bride" of Christ, and that his name was "written in heaven" (Heb. 12:23); and though he had full assurance of faith each moment, because of full knowledge that he was daily a living sacrifice, yet he also knew that for him to turn back, or even to "look back," (or desire to recover that which he had sacrificed), would prove him unworthy of the kingdom position. He well knew that he who wrote his name in heaven when he consecrated and started to run, could blot it out; and that the condition upon which it would not be blotted out was, faithfulness to the end of the race. (Rev. 3:5.) And not until his faithful course was closing with martyrdom did he write, "I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up [reserved securely] for me, a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." – 2 Tim. 4:7,8.
Yet, while remembering that God has made the deciding of the matter, whether or not we shall be members of the elect company to which he called us, to depend upon our faithfulness to the end – "unto death" – we should ever bear in mind, as Paul did, that the prize is not offered to us because of our worthiness of it, but of God's grace or favor. And that our running is acceptable only because of God's "mercy" in imputing to us the merits of Christ, our Redeemer, as the covering of our inherited weaknesses and imperfections. – Rom. 9:16.
(1) "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." – 1 Cor. 10:12.
(2) "Give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things ye shall never fall." – 2 Peter 1:10.
(3) "Whosoever of you are justified by the law, ye are fallen from favor." "Christ shall profit you nothing." – Gal. 5:2,4.
(4) "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened...if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance." – Heb. 6:4-6.
(a) "Him that is able to keep you from falling [stumbling] and to present you faultless." – Jude 24.
(b) "I am persuaded that neither death, nor life,...nor things present, nor things to come,...shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." – Rom. 8:38,39.
(c) "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me and I give unto them eternal life. And they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. My Father which gave them me is greater than all; and no one is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." – John 10:27-29.
In the light of the foregoing statement of the doctrine of election as deduced from Scripture, the above and similar texts cease to seem contradictory and become clear, harmonious and reasonable. To show the harmony we have [R835 : page 4] selected some of the apparently most contradictory and positive; which will serve to illustrate how all similar statements are in harmony. The first four show the possibility of falling from grace or favor; the three last seem to many to teach that to fall from God's favor is an impossibility.
It is a mistake to suppose that favor and love are synonymous, for though the favor of God always implies his love, yet the withdrawal of favor does not imply hatred. To illustrate: When God created our race representatively in Adam, he placed it in a position of favor, and when it afterwards fell from that favor by disobedience to the conditions, God so loved the race [fallen from his favor] while yet sinners, as to provide a ransom for all; that thereby he might in due time restore all to the original favor, thus giving another or second opportunity to enjoy life as his favor, everlastingly.
Every act must be in harmony with his justice, love and wisdom – not with one alone, but with all of these divine attributes must every act of God conform. Hence in dealing with us, should we fall from his favor, whatever happens to us will be in full harmony with God's character; whatever his justice, wisdom and love indicate to be best. Let us keep this well in mind.
To fall from favor implies that those who fall had first been lifted up, given a vantage ground for present or future possibility and advantage. The seriousness and loss by a fall from favor, depends upon the greatness or amount of the favor spurned or left.
Two of the three of the above-mentioned texts (a,b,c) assure us that God will not withdraw from us any favor he ever bestows; he will never cast us off or cause us to fall. And more than this, his love is so great that he will not permit others to separate us from his favor contrary to our own will. And since his love is so great and his power all mighty, we have full confidence that no power in earth or heaven can forcibly separate us from his love and favors granted us in and through our Redeemer. Here rests our full assurance of faith – none can pluck us from our Father's favor and protection. Here our song is triumphant:
"In God I have found a retreat,
Where I can securely abide;
No refuge nor rest so complete,
And here I intend to reside."
"Oh what comfort it brings,
My soul sweetly sings,
I am safe from all dangers
While under his wings."
But is there then no danger? There is no danger of others plucking or forcibly separating us from God's favor, or turning his love away from us; the only danger is in our own doings; we can despise or lightly esteem the favors of God, and thus forfeit our privileges under those favors, and fall from them; but we cannot forfeit all favor, except by direct and open apostasy. God will not force his favors upon any, but decides that those who do not appreciate the favors when made fully aware of them, are not worthy of them.
The text above, numbered 1, guards us on this very point; our safety is in a vivid realization of our own helplessness and dependence upon God's favor. To realize our own imperfection and inability to justify ourselves, is the safeguard against that self-righteousness which spurns justification as the favor of God, through the ransom given by Jesus. True humility and dependence upon God, accepts his favor of justification in the way he provides it – through Christ's ransom – and thus prevents these from spurning and counting a common or ordinary thing the sacrifice of Christ – "the blood of the covenant." (Heb. 10:26-29.) In harmony with this is the text above, marked a. God is able to keep us from falling or even stumbling over his favors; and he is so willing to aid us and keep us, that he has in his Word made every provision for our assistance, and assures us that the Scriptures are able to make us wise regarding his favors, so that we shall be able to avoid falling from them, and obtain them.
And here text numbered 2 applies, and shows that while God has supplied every necessary aid to keep us from falling, he has left the matter in such a way as to make our earnest desire for the promised blessings, a condition of our not falling from or failing to secure, the favors offered us. We must give diligence and attention to the assistance and directions he has provided.
A difference in the extent of the fall and the seriousness of the consequences is shown in texts numbered 3 and 4. The former shows a Jew who had trusted in his ability to keep the Law, who afterward came to see, in Jesus his Redeemer, and became a follower of him and thus reached and laid hold of justification, God's favor granted through Jesus' ransom, who under false teaching had been led to the erroneous conclusion that though Jesus was a good example of holy living, yet all must still be justified, if at all, by perfect obedience to the Law. Paul addresses this one and all such in this text (3), and assures them that by such conclusions they renounce and reject God's favor, and place themselves again just where they were before they heard of Christ – under the Law which could never justify them. Rom. 8:3, margin.
Their conclusion that Jesus was merely an example and teacher was fallacious. There were, and had been, many noble exemplars and good teachers, and in thus regarding Jesus they were rejecting all that was specially valuable in Him. He was "nothing" if not a Redeemer – a Justifier from sin and its penalty. Regarding Christ as an "example" would be of no profit or advantage; nothing could do them any good until past sins were cancelled and they reckoned justified through the shed blood [the death] of Christ. Rom. 5:9.
This fall, though serious, in that it would hinder their progress and keep them on the level of the Jew and unjustified world, would not be an everlasting loss or fall, because if they perceive not their error sooner, the time will come when "every hidden thing shall be made manifest," and when a correct knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth, and none shall need to say unto his neighbor, Know thou the Lord! (or Understand thou of the ransom for sin) for all shall know him from the least to the greatest; and then if not sooner these and the prejudice blinded Jews and all, shall see clearly and enter gladly upon the favor from which the Apostle tells us these were falling.
But the other text (4) tells of a fall from favor that is a far greater loss, and one which can never be regained in this or any age. The Apostle assures us of those who thus fall away, that "it is impossible to renew [or restore] them again" (verse 4). Why is it thus – why the difference in these fallings? We answer: Because the class here referred to (Heb. 6:4-6) have had fuller knowledge; and by having gone along from favor to favor, their fall is without excuse and indicates a deliberate wilfulness, wholly inconsistent with their knowledge. While the others (text 3) were but deceived "babes," these (text 4) were matured and advanced in knowledge beyond first principles. And any who have not advanced to the point of favor here indicated, could not fall from it, and from such state of favor only, is it possible to fall so utterly as to be beyond hope – in the second death.
But notice carefully the conditions of such a fall – the height of the multiplied favors from which, if any fall, it is impossible to restore or renew them. They must have been "once enlightened," brought to clearly discern sin, its penalty, and its ransom price, Jesus' life. They must have "tasted of the heavenly gift," not merely heard of Christ's sacrifice, etc., but tasted in blessed experience the results of that ransom in realizing sins forgiven, and communion and fellowship with God restored, through "the blood of the Lamb." They must have been "made partakers of the Holy Spirit," coming into heart fellowship with God's plans, and for a time at least being co-workers with him – begotten by the Spirit to fuller appreciation of the truth and to new hopes, aims, etc. They must "have tasted of the good Word of God," by experiencing the pleasures, of the appreciated fulfillment of some of the statements and promises thereof, and recognizing a grandeur and beauty, in the as yet unfulfilled portions. These must also have tasted, experienced, or come to appreciate "the powers of the coming age," realizing from the good Word of God the blessings and powers that will then be brought into exercise for the blessing and restoring of mankind, all as the fruit and result of the ransom.
Should such as have seen, tasted, experienced, and enjoyed all these favors then fall away to the extent of "denying the Lord having bought them" (2 Pet. 2:1 Diaglott) denying the ransom – the very foundation of all those hopes and blessings seen and experienced – thus treading under foot the Son of God, counting the blood of the covenant, wherewith they were sanctified (and in which they had trusted, and on account of which they had been privileged to grow in grace and knowledge); if they then count that blood an unholy [ordinary] thing, and despise the favor of God in providing the sacrifice for our sins, (Heb. 10:26-29). FOR SUCH, there is no forgiveness; no restoring from such a miserable fall from such heights of favor and knowledge. And who, except those who thus "fall away," would dispute the righteousness of this our Father's decision? The expression of his justice and wisdom in full harmony with his character of love is that such shall "be as though they had not been" born. The prolongation of such lives could neither be a profit nor pleasure to God, to themselves, nor to their fellows.
The sentence is manifestly just; it is wise, because if these have thus seen the grand outline of God's plans, and despise and repudiate the divinely-appointed foundation of it all, then moral force, the force of truth, is seen to be unavailing upon them, and God sees that it would be impossible to renew them or to make them recognize the beauty of his way; therefore divine wisdom has decided that all thus out of harmony, without possibility of reformation, shall be utterly destroyed as, and for the same reason, that thorns and briers are destroyed. Heb. 6:7,8.
And this same principle will obtain in the next age as well; when the full opportunities of that age of favors are enjoyed by all the world. Those who wilfully reject and despise the precious blood, spurn forgiveness through IT, and thus crucify Christ afresh, despising his sacrifice for sin, will thereby fall hopelessly; because, after having enjoyed the blessings secured by the ransom, they spurn and reject it. Christ dieth no more; the one sacrifice, once fully appreciated and wilfully rejected, leaves such in the same state as though no ransom had ever been given. It remands them again under the original penalty, DEATH, extinction. And, because they had once been redeemed from it as the adamic penalty, and had thus again come under it of their own will and act, it is called second death.
Thus may not all see clearly, God's election of classes for future service, and of nations and individuals for present service, and yet recognize that God leaves his creatures free to exercise their own wills in accepting or rejecting His arrangements and favors? He seeketh such to worship and serve him as serve from the heart – in spirit and in truth; and such pre-eminently are the classes selected in this age and in the preceding selection for the kingdom's positions and honors.
MR. C. T. RUSSELL – DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD: – I now again send you my subscription for two copies of the TOWER, also the names of two others. I have been thinking that those who get the TOWER here might come together. All that I have seen of the readers seem to be thinking about the same thing. We would like some instructions as to what we had better do. I am at present a Sunday School teacher here in the Church of England....
I shall be very truly thankful to you if you will tell me what we had better do, about holding a service together to study the Word of God.
DEAR BROTHER: – In answer to your inquiry, I would simply repeat the Apostle's counsel: "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, and so much the more as ye see the day approaching." – Heb. 10:25. But don't let any undue stiffness or formality hinder you or others from enjoying the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free. Enjoy your liberty to search the Scriptures, and speak freely one to another, remembering that all ye are brethren, and one only is your Lord.
The main object of such meetings should be to build one another up in the most holy faith, to more firmly unite your hearts in love, and to help bear one another's burdens, by your sympathy and by your common sharing of the same sufferings, in your united efforts to preach the truth according to your ability; and the more actively you are engaged in trying to preach the truth to others, the more interesting will your evening meetings become. The need of such conferences as helps will be felt by all thus engaged.
The only test of Christian brotherhood [R836 : page 5] and fellowship is Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ as the one whom Jehovah set forth to be the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. Any one who accepts this foundation principle of our faith is ready to build a superstructure thereon. And for the purpose of selecting the proper materials – the gold, silver, and precious stones of truth, and properly fitting and locating them, you meet together.
Order is of course necessary to the accomplishment of any definite purpose, and it is therefore well when a number meet together, for some brother or sister to act as a leader or moderator, and if this duty falls upon each in turn, it may be to the mutual advantage.
Organization, as commonly understood, and as illustrated in the various sects to-day, we could in no sense commend; it is a bondage contrary to the spirit of Christ and the apostles, as well as to their words. Such organization prevents growth in knowledge, as well as hinders the rejection of errors of wood, hay and stubble, already received. It selects by purely human election certain men as the only authorized teachers, and so binds them to traditions, that they can neither walk nor teach others to walk in the path of the just, "which shineth more and more unto the perfect day," while they remain in such organizations. Hence, such organizations are not only not of God, but are radically opposed to God's methods.
To have our "names written in heaven" is quite sufficient; Jesus and the apostles counseled and practiced no more. All the members of the family of God will be able to discern the family likeness without a written description, and the world may know us by our fruits. Our union in Christ needs no bondage but love; it will firmly unite all his members to each other as it unites them to him, their head, and to the Father.
Accepting God's word as truth, each believes so much of it as his consecrated mind is able to understand by the aid of the various helps provided, including the assistance of fellow members (Jude 20). This is the only kind of organization or union recognized in Scripture. In this organization God can and does make choice of some more than others for the good of all (1 Cor. 12:18-31, and 14:3-12); and such are recognized by their brethren and fellow-servants by the ability which God giveth them to bring forth treasures and things new and old, from the storehouse – the Bible – which will stand the investigation of all and every Scriptural test which can be reasonably applied to it. Thus the Lord instructs, feeds, builds up in most holy faith, and causes the entire body to grow in grace, knowledge and love unto the full stature of the body of Christ.
The apostles at the first appointed deacons and elders in each city to have charge of the affairs of the Church, and to moderate or rule as chairmen of meetings, etc., but they did not constitute a perpetual clerical hierarchy. True, they appointed and did not elect these officers at first; but this was probably because the churches were not sufficiently instructed, as well as because the apostles were specially authorized and qualified to do it for them. But it is evident that afterward the members of the body at each place, guided by the spirit of truth, were entirely capable of electing successors to the offices of elder and deacon. The Deacons looked after temporal interests, while the Elders (sometimes termed Presbyters or Bishops) attended specially to the spiritual interests; but there is no evidence (except to the contrary) that the Elders monopolized all the time or authority of teaching the brethren and fellow-members. This is evident from 1 Cor. 12:20,24,25,27-31. All are not apostles, all are not orators, all have not the gift of teaching, but each may and should use the gifts possessed as directed in 1 Cor. 14:26,29-31,33,39,40.
But seeing the danger of human organization, and the tendency to follow present illustrations rather than the method of the apostles, we advise that brethren be chosen for the necessary business merely as such emergency may arise, each using his liberty in Christ in the service of others; in honor preferring one another, except where all possess about the same talents. Thus, for the little while that remains, we shall look more directly to the Head of the body for direction, being without other authorities and rulers in the body – as it was in his first presence. Let every member, every disciple, look to the one Lord and Head of all.
A simple prayer at the beginning for the Lord's blessing, or if convenient, a hymn also, would be an appropriate opening of such meetings, to be followed with the earnest, united effort of all to arrive at a clear understanding of His truth, by his own appointed means, comparing scripture with scripture, and accepting its teaching in simple faith, however it may overthrow long cherished errors. This every sincere child of God will do; and if any do not, their lack of faith should not weaken the faith or retard the others from progress – growth in grace, and knowledge, and love.
The time should be given chiefly to this work of searching the Scriptures to prove "whether these things be so." In our prayers we speak to God, but through the Scriptures he speaks to us. Then let him thus speak to your hearts and to your judgments, and be "swift to hear." A simple prayer of thanksgiving and a hymn or two of praise before parting, are appropriate, solemn, and impressive, if from the heart; every hymn should be regarded as a prayer in metre.
You say you are a teacher in the Sunday School. I hope you are letting the light which God has given you shine; out clear and strong. Don't fail to use every opportunity to let your light shine, for this is not a Gospel of which you need be ashamed. But in all probability you will soon find that, with a very few exceptions, they will not want your light, but showing their disapproval, will endeavor to have you keep silence about it. If you are a faithful steward you will not do this. It is your business to let the light shine; and the truth you will preach at any cost. Do it boldly, and it will cost you considerable. It will either lead to the conversion of that congregation to the truth, or it will lead to your separation from them. You will either go out, or they will cast you out. But if the latter course would attract most attention to the truth, and best bring the light to the people's knowledge, that is the way we should prefer, – not to attract attention to yourself, but to the truth, – that even thus you may reach some.
In the case of ministers, the manner of escape from Babylon is necessarily somewhat different. Most ministers are bound by their ordination vows to preach only the doctrines of their particular sect, hence in such cases that relationship must be broken, before they are FREE to proclaim the whole truth, as taught by the Word of God.
That beginning of spiritual existence, which dates from the moment persons believing in Christ as the ransom for their sin, make a full surrender or consecration of themselves to him; stands related to their final existence as actually spiritual beings (when they shall be "like Him" who is their Lord), as in the natural generation begetting stands related to birth. Really there are three steps of development, begetting, quickening, and birth; and so with those who become "new creatures in Christ" there are three steps which correspond in likeness; and to these corresponding names are attached in the Word of God. We are begotten through the truth – the Gospel (1 Cor. 4:15, and 1 John 5:18). In due time the quickening into activity, zeal, and labor, will give evidence to others that we have been begotten of the truth to newness of life; the new hopes and aims, the spirit of Christ in us, will "quicken [or make active in God's service] our mortal bodies." – (Rom. 8:11.) And finally [unless we lose the new life, the spirit, and become "castaways"] we shall in the resurrection come forth, or be born into full spirit-power and being, and be "like him" who is the "express image of the Father's person."
It happens that the same Greek word, gennao, represents the same thought as our two words, beget and born, and in our common translation it is rendered beget, conceive, begotten, as well as born, delivered, bear.
For ordinary purposes it made little difference, as the connecting discourse would generally indicate whether conception or birth was meant. For instance, if the father were spoken of in connection with the word gennao, it would be translated beget, for it would [R837 : page 5] be manifestly improper to speak of a child as born of a person of masculine gender. Likewise, in using the word gennao when referring to a woman, born would be its understood significance, since it would be improper to speak of a female begetting children.
But human begetting and birth are used to illustrate or symbolize spiritual processes, and here it is more difficult to determine when gennao should be understood as referring to begetting, and when to birth. It is safe, however, to say that when God is associated with the matter he is always regarded as of the masculine gender; hence gennao, when used in connection with God, should be always rendered beget or begotten. The translators have so used the word in the following instances: –
"Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee." – Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5; 5:5. "He that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him." – 1 John 5:1. "He that is begotten of God keepeth himself." – 1 John 5:18.
On the contrary, in the following cases gennao is rendered born in the common version; whereas we believe, for the reason named above, God being associated with the action, it should be rendered begotten. These instances occur in John 1:13; 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1,4 and 18.
Our special attention is drawn to the use of the word born, in John 3:3-8. The word rendered born eight times in these six verses is the word gennao; and the question arises, does the word, as here used, signify born or begotten – which? Or should it be some places translated one way and some the other?
It is our opinion that the translation born is correct, except in the first and seventh instances (verses 3 and 7), where we think the significance is begotten. In verse 4 it certainly is correctly rendered born, as the association is feminine. And in verses 5,6, and 8, born is undoubtedly the correct translation, because water, flesh, and spirit, are treated as feminine, the literal rendering of the Greek being born out of water, flesh, and spirit.
Our opinion of the use of the word in verse 7, is that it is a reiteration of our Lord's first statement (v. 3), and verse 3, we think, should be rendered begotten, because to introduce the subject of the second birth (resurrection) so abruptly would be unreasonable, while to introduce the new begetting would be highly proper, as we trust may be seen from the following suppositionary statement of the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, of which evidently but a meagre fragment is given by the apostle in the verses under consideration.
Supposed conversation: – Master, I have heard and seen much of you and your work of late. I am convinced that you are a teacher sent of God, for your miracles attest this; but some of your statements seem very inconsistent to me, and I have called to ask an explanation. For instance, you and your immediate disciples go about proclaiming, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand," but you have neither an army, wealth, nor influence, and to all appearance your claim is a fraud, by which you are deceiving the more ignorant. My fellow-pharisees regard you as an imposter, but as I said before, I am sure there must be some truth in your teachings, for no man can do these miracles that thou doest except God be with him. This, then, is my inquiry – the object of my visit – Of what sort, when and from whence is this kingdom you proclaim, and when and how is it to be established?
Jesus. – Your request to have a full understanding concerning the kingdom of heaven cannot be answered to your satisfaction; not that I do not know about it fully, but that in your present condition you could not understand or appreciate it if I would explain (John 3:3). "Except a man be begotten from above, he cannot see [Greek eidon,* to know or be acquainted with] the kingdom of God."
You rightly say that my most zealous followers have very indistinct ideas of the character, etc., of the kingdom they are proclaiming. I cannot tell them for the same reason that I cannot tell you. They could not understand [R837 : page 6] for the same reason. But, Nicodemus, this is one peculiarity of God's dealings in the present time. He requires obedience to what light is enjoyed before full light is given. In the selection of those who shall be accounted worthy to share the kingdom, a manifestation of faith is required – they must be such as are willing to follow God's leadings step by step, seeing only the next step clearly: they walk by faith and not by sight.
Jesus. – No; let me illustrate what I mean by reminding you of "John the Immerser" and his work. His baptism represented in symbol a change of mind, a beginning of life anew, the sinner rising from the water symbolized a new person. This will at least give you a hint of what I mean by speaking of a new begetting and new birth. John's work was a preparatory one, to prepare men for the kingdom by teaching a change of heart and life as expressed in his baptism. Such a change of heart and life was necessary, but more is necessary; the still higher begetting and birth of which I am now telling you. And except a man have the reform of heart and life, the birth out of water, and be in addition born (out) of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.*
The change to be wrought by this new birth is truly great, Nicodemus, for that which is born (out) of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born (out) of the spirit is spirit. Wonder not then at my first statement, that you must be begotten from above ere you can understand, know and appreciate the things of which you inquire. The difference between your present condition, born of the flesh, and the condition of those who shall enter into and constitute the kingdom I am preaching, is very great. Let me give you an illustration, by which you will gain a feeble idea of the beings who, born of the spirit, shall constitute this kingdom.
Thus is their condition illustrated: The wind blows here and there, you cannot see it though it exerts an influence all about you; you know not from whence it comes nor where it goes. This is as good an illustration as I can give you of those born of the spirit in the resurrection; those who shall constitute the kingdom which I am now preaching; they will all be as invisible as the wind, and men not thus born of the spirit, will neither know whence they come, nor when nor where they go. "So is each one born (out) of the spirit."
Nicodemus. – Your claims seem more unreasonable to me the more I hear of them. I cannot conceive it possible for beings to be present yet invisible, or to go and come unseen, as the wind. How could it possibly be so?
Jesus. – Can it be possible that you, a master in Israel, are ignorant of this simple fact, that spirit beings can be present yet invisible? Have you, who attempt to teach others, never read about Elisha and his servant, nor about Baalam's ass? Furthermore, you are a Pharisee, who professedly believe in angels as spirit beings. But this illustrates what I told you at first, Except a man be begotten from above he cannot see [know, become acquainted with, or understand as reasonable] the kingdom of God and the various things connected with it.
I repeat, that if you would be led of God into all truth, and find a position in the kingdom which I am announcing, you must follow the light, step by step. As you do so, more light will come; and this is as rapidly as you will be prepared for it. I have been preaching things now due which you can understand, and performing miracles, and you acknowledge me a teacher come from God, but you have not acted out your faith and become my disciple and follower publicly. You must not expect to see more, until you act up to all you do see; then God will give you more light and evidence for the next step. Hence it would be useless for me to attempt to tell you heavenly things, for you would be no more convinced thereby; nay, my preaching would seem the more foolish to you. If what I have taught, which has been of earthly sort, or illustrated by earthly things which you could and do understand, has not brought conviction enough to your mind to make you a public follower, it would be no more convincing to you if I were to tell you of heavenly things of which you know nothing, for "no man has ever ascended into heaven," hence none could corroborate such testimony. I, who descended from heaven, alone understand heavenly things.+
There is an object in my coming, and before you or others could be begotten of the spirit I must perform my mission. And as Moses in the wilderness, among the bitten Israelites, lifted up the brass serpent, a symbol of the punishment of their sin, even so must the Son of man be lifted up to the eyes of the world of dying sinners. Bitten by sin, and they must by faith recognize in him their sin-bearer, [R838 : page 6] the one upon whom their penalty was placed, and by whose sin-offering they were redeemed; that believing on him thus, they might have life, enduringly.
A clear apprehension, then, of this lesson to Nicodemus, shows (1), a begetting, and ultimately a birth of the spirit; and (2), that a natural man, not begotten, cannot know or be acquainted with [see] spiritual truths, even though the great Master himself were the instructor; (3), that obedience to the natural things which they can see, is a prerequisite to advancement in knowledge; as during the entire Gospel Age it has been a pre-requisite to begetting to the new nature. (4). Incidentally the Lord here assures us that what the Scriptures uniformly show concerning angels and God, namely: that they, though present with mankind, would be invisible as the wind, though powerful, will be true also of all who during this Christian age become "new creatures," members of the kingdom. (5). This agrees also with Jesus' other statement to a number of the Pharisees, "The kingdom of God cometh not with outward show, neither shall ye say, lo, here! Or lo, there!" as you might do with a visible and earthly government, "for behold the kingdom of God [shall be*] in the midst of you [visibly present on every hand in power, to bless the obedient and to punish the unruly].
In presenting the Scripture proofs that Christ died for all, and that all being thus redeemed, the restitution of all is thus assured, some of our readers have met with opponents who claimed that in these cases the word ALL is not to be understood as signifying every member of the human family, but merely all believers.
Those who love and hold closely to their hearts the Eternal Torment theory, seem to try in every way to belittle the goodness of God and the value of the ransom which he provided in Jesus, to the measure of their own depraved ideas. They shut their own eyes, and try to blind others from seeing the height and depth, the length and breadth, of the love and plan of God for his creatures. Would that they could hear the Lord's reproof, "My thoughts are not your thoughts: neither are your ways [methods] my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isa. 55:9.
What are the facts? The word all in the English language and its equivalent pas in the Greek may be used either to refer to all mankind, or all of a certain specified class; for instance, all the blind, all believers, etc. Hence to merely use the word all would not be definite enough: the class whether large or small to which all is applied must be judged from the other words of the sentence. For instance, when we read, "They did ALL eat and were filled (Matt. 14:20), the sentence clearly indicates that not all the world of mankind is meant, but ALL of the class mentioned. Again, "All that heard him were astonished" (Luke 2:47); here also the all is limited to the class specified, but means ALL of that class. When we read, "My Father ...is greater than all" (John 10:25) the all includes creatures on every plane of being all men and angels, etc.
"Death passed upon all men. (Rom. 5:12.) By one man's offence death reigned; and "Therefore, as by the offense of one sentence came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the act of one righteous one, sentence passed upon all men unto justification of life." Rom. 5:18.
Who will deny that the death sentence passed, and is being executed upon all the human race – every descendant of Adam? Who can deny the statement of the Apostle here that it was through or because of Adam's disobedience? Who that has a pure honest heart can deny then the force of the final argument of the Apostle that even so ALL mankind were justified or cleared from that Adamic penalty or sentence, and granted a right to life again, by the obedient act of the righteous one whom God "set forth to be a propitiation [satisfaction] for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world!" (Rom. 3:25; 1 John 2:2.) The same class is referred to by the words translated ALL in both instances. It means ALL as truly and fully in one case as in the other. The same reasoning applies to the use of the same word in 1 Cor. 15:22: "As in [by, through or on account of] Adam all die, EVEN so in [by, through or on account of] Christ shall all be made alive."
The same word all occurs three times in 1 Cor. 15:28; also 1 Tim. 2:4,6, and 4:10; and in Heb. 1:6 and 2:8; and Rev. 15:4 (which see), besides about five hundred other places. The same Greek word is translated every more than one hundred times, of which see Eph. 1:21; Phil. 2:9; Rev. 5:13, and Col. 1:15.
Some have objected to this, that all – every one – did not pass under the sentence of death through Adam, and refer us to Enoch and Elijah, and those who will be restored to perfection during the Millennial age without having entered the tomb; these, say they, are exceptions to the all who were sentenced in Adam, and it would be appropriate to think of the all justified by Christ's death as likewise meaning not all, but some.
We reply: It should not be forgotten that death takes hold of us before we gasp our last breath; that death swallows up our race gradually; that the dying process may be more slow in some than in others, but is nevertheless progressing; and all are under or in death since the moment the penalty or curse was pronounced and Adam driven from Eden. With Adam the dying process lasted 930 years; but during all that time he was in or under death, both as a sentence and as a fact. Strictly speaking, all are in death – have the dying process operating in them from the moment of birth, though we are accustomed to apply the word dead only to those who are totally dead; speaking of those who yet have a spark of life, as though they were really and fully alive.
Death thus considered as beginning when the dying process began, has been upon all mankind since sentence came upon all through Adam. It was from this standpoint that Jesus spoke of death when he said: "Let the dead bury their dead." – (Matt. 8:22.) Hence Enoch and Elijah were in death, under its penalty, as all others of Adam's sons, from the moment of birth. Where God took them, or why, we are not informed; but that they did not go into the heaven from which Jesus came, and to which he returned, is evident from John 3:13; and it is also evident that they were not made perfect, or delivered completely from death, because the ransom had not yet been paid; and without that sacrifice there could be no actual remission of sins (at most only typical remission through typical sin-offerings), and consequently no actual release from the original death sentence. The same is proved by Heb. 9:22,23, and 11:40, and 1 Cor. 15:20-22.
Consider now, those of the nations not totally dead when restitution times begin. In the light of the foregoing it will be seen that these, with all Adam's children, are in and under death anyhow; even though they be delivered out of it, without going into the great prison house, the grave. Jesus delivers all; ALL are mentioned as "prisoners," some in the prison, and some prisoners in bondage, "captives" not yet barred in. He will both open prison doors and set at liberty the captives. – (Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:18.) Neither have the liberty so long as they are under the bondage of corruption (decay and death), hence the deliverance of the prisoners in the tomb, and the captives not entombed, to perfect life, are equally the work of the Restorer, and both are parts of His great work of swallowing up Adamic death in victory; thus delivering the groaning creation from the bondage of corruption into a condition of incorruption, or life – the liberty of sons of God. – Rom. 8:21,22.
Thus the alls of the Scripture do support ably, the doctrine that as through Adam all die, even so through Christ shall all be justified again to the life lost. Only the desire to overthrow this grand truth, and to support a narrow theory, could lead to a contrary suggestion, which will melt away as the sunlight of God's plan shines forth in greater strength.
"For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast." – 1 Cor. 5:7,8.
Each year as the anniversary of our Lord's death recurs, it seems necessary to re-state the propriety of its commemoration, not only for the sake of new readers, but also to refresh the memory of all, by calling these precious truths to mind.
The ceremony, as originally instituted, is described in Exod. 12. A lamb without blemish was slain, its blood was sprinkled on the door-posts and lintels of the house, while the family within ate the flesh of the lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. On that night (the fourteenth of the First month, Jewish time), because of the sprinkled blood and the eaten lamb the first-born of Israel were passed over, or spared from the plague of death which visited the first-born of the Egyptians. On this account, and because on the next day Israel marched out from Egyptian bondage – free – therefore, by God's command (Exod. 12:14), they commemorated it every year.
The Israelite saw only the letter of this ceremony, and not its typical significance. So, too, might we have been in similar darkness had not God given us the key to its meaning by inspiring the Apostle to write (1st Cor. 5:7): "CHRIST OUR PASSOVER IS SACRIFICED FOR US."
Our attention being thus called to the matter, we find other scriptures which clearly show that Jesus, "the Lamb of God," was the antitype of the Passover lamb, and that his death was as essential to the deliverance of "the Church of the first-born" from death, as was the death of the typical lamb to the first-born of Israel. Thus, led of the Spirit, we come to the words and acts of Jesus at the last Passover which he ate with his disciples.
God is an exact time-keeper and the slaying of the typical lamb, on the fourteenth day of the first month, foreshadowed or typified the fact, that in God's plan Jesus was to die at that time. And God so arranged the reckoning of time among the Jews, that it was possible for Jesus to commemorate the Passover with the disciples and himself be slain as the real "Lamb" on the same day. The Jewish day, instead of reckoning from midnight to midnight as usually reckoned now, commenced at six o'clock in the evening and ended at six the next evening. Thus Jesus and the disciples, by eating the Passover, probably about eight o'clock, ate it "the same night in which he was betrayed," and the same day in which he died. Thus every jot and tittle should be, and was fulfilled.
Just five days before his crucifixion Jesus presented himself to Israel as their king, to be received or rejected, when he rode to the city on the ass, fulfilling the prophecy, "Behold, thy king cometh unto thee" (Matt. 21:5), and fulfilling, at the same time, that feature of the Passover type which provides that the lamb must be received into the houses five days before the time of its killing (Exod. 12:3). Thus Jesus made his last and formal presentation to Israel as a nation, or house, five days before the Passover, as we read: "Then Jesus, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany. ...On the next day [five days before] much people that were come to the feast, when they heard Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,... went forth to meet him (John 12:1,12,13). Then it was that their king came unto them "sitting upon an ass's colt." Then it was that unreceived, he wept over them and declared, "Your house is left unto you desolate." "Ye shall not see me henceforth till ye shall say, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." Matt. 23:38,39.
Jesus knew the import of the Passover, but the disciples knew not. He was alone; none could sympathize, none could encourage him. Even had he explained to the disciples they could not have understood or appreciated his explanation, because they were not yet begotten of the Spirit. Nor could they be thus begotten until justified from Adamic sin – passed over, or reckoned free from sin, by virtue of the slain Lamb, whose shed blood ransomed them from the power of the destroyer – death.
Thus alone, treading the narrow way which none before had trod, and in which he is our Fore-runner and Leader, what wonder that his heart at times was exceedingly sorrowful even unto death. When the hour had come they sat down to eat the Passover, and Jesus said unto the disciples: "With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God." (Luke 22:15,16.) Doubtless he longed to have them understand how it would BEGIN to be fulfilled, a little later on in that very day, by the slaying of the real lamb.
Probably one reason he specially desired to eat this Passover with them was, that he there designed breaking the truth of its significance to them to the extent that they could receive it; for, "As they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed and brake it, and gave to them and said, "Take (eat), this is my body." (Mark 14:22.) "This is my body, which is given for you: This do in remembrance of me." "And he took the cup and gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among yourselves. ...This cup is the new covenant, in my blood, which is shed for you." Luke 22:17-20.
We cannot doubt that the design of the Master was to call their minds from the typical lamb, to himself, the antitype, and to show them that it would be no longer proper to observe a feature of the Law which he was about to fulfill. And the bread and wine were to be to them thereafter the elements which, as remembrancers of him, would take the place of the typical lamb. Thus considered, there is force in his words, "THIS DO in remembrance of ME" – no longer kill a literal lamb in remembrance of a typical deliverance, but, instead, use the bread and wine, representatives of my flesh and life, the basis of the real deliverance, the real passing over. Hence, let as many as receive me and my words henceforth "DO THIS in remembrance of me."
Thus our Lord instituted his Supper as the remembrancer of his death, and as a substitute for the typical Passover Supper as observed by the Jews. Is it asked why Jesus ate of the typical lamb first? We answer that he was born under the Law, and must observe its every requirement. Since he at Calvary fulfilled the Law, that "Covenant" is no longer in force even, upon Hebrews.
It would be difficult to determine just when or why, this impressive season for the commemoration of our Lord's death began to be ignored, but it was, doubtless, as a matter of expediency, resulting from that compromising spirit which early began to mark the great falling away, which Paul foretold. Christian people generally, judging mostly from the varied practice of the Nominal Churches with regard to it, suppose that it really makes little or no difference when the Lord's Supper is celebrated. And under this impression, without much thought or examination, they interpret the words of Paul in 1 Cor. 11:26 ("as often") to mean an indefinite time. It reads, "As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come." But a careful study of the context gives conclusive evidence that this was not the case, but that a definite time was referred to. He tells them (verse 23) that he delivered to them that which he also received of the Lord: "That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, etc." Here notice not only that the time selected by Jesus seemed the most appropriate, but that it was so appropriate that Paul was informed, by a special revelation from the Lord, that this was instituted the night he was betrayed.
How often could the Church break that bread and drink that cup as a proper memorial of the Lord's death? Surely only on its anniversary. When American Independence is celebrated, it is on its anniversary – the Fourth of July. It would be considered peculiar, at least, if some should neglect that day and celebrate it at sundry inappropriate times. And if, speaking of the Fourth of July, we should say, As often as ye thus celebrate ye do show forth the nation's birth; who would understand us to mean several times a year? Likewise, also, the Lord's Supper is only properly a celebration on its anniversary, and once a year would be "as often" as this could be done.
Some think that they find records in Scripture which indicate that the early Church ate the Lord's Supper every First day of the week. To this we answer, that if this were true we should have no more to say on the subject; but where is the record? We are referred to Acts 20:7: "Upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them," etc. But is there any evidence that the bread was broken as a remembrancer of the Lord's death? If so, why was it never called the Lord's Supper, and why was the wine omitted? Was the cup not as important an emblem as the bread? Take a similar expression: Jesus was known to the two disciples at Emmaus in the "breaking of bread" (Luke 24:35). Who will claim that that was more than an ordinary meal? Who will claim that they were eating the Lord's Supper? No one.
So far from being an appropriate time for the commemoration of our Lord's death, the first day of the week would be most inappropriate. Instead of being set apart or used by the early Church to commemorate Jesus' death and the sorrowful scenes of the Lord's Supper, Gethsemane and Calvary, it was to them a glad day, a day of rejoicing, reminding them of the fact that "THE LORD IS RISEN INDEED." Hence the appropriateness of the name Lord's Day, and of its observance by the Church as a day of worship and praise.
The seeming custom of breaking bread on the First day, perhaps, had its rise in the fact that the disciples were few, and came sometimes long distances [R840 : page 7] to meet together, and socially ate their meal together. Perhaps, too, a blessed association of thought and interest lingered round the "breaking of bread" on the First day, when they remembered how repeatedly Jesus manifested himself to them on that day – after his resurrection – and how it was while they were eating that he made himself known. Luke 24:35,43; John 20:19; 21:12.
Even the faint traces of this once established custom in the Church – of celebrating the anniversary of the Lord's death and resurrection – which the Roman Catholic and Episcopal Churches still observe, after an accommodated fashion, on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, has been almost lost sight of by others.
It has been the custom of many of the WATCH TOWER readers to "DO THIS" in remembrance of our Lord's death on its anniversary. Since it properly takes the place of the Jewish type, we reckon it according to the Jewish, or lunar time; and hence generally on a different date from "Good Friday" and Easter, which, following the same method of reckoning, but not exactly, commemorates the Friday and Sunday near the actual lunar date. The Lord's Supper anniversary this year will be on Sunday evening, April 18th, about 8 o'clock; Monday afternoon following being the anniversary of the crucifixion; and the Passover festival week as observed by Hebrews commencing at 6 P.M. of that day.
The teaching of Paul, in 1 Cor. 11:26, is not that we should discontinue this simple and impressive ordinance which commemorates the death of our Paschal Lamb, and symbolizes also our share in his death, as soon as we learn of his glorious advent. Since it is a calling to mind of these facts, and an annual reminder and renewal of our covenant to sacrifice with him, it is proper that it should be observed until, in this time of his presence, we are changed to his glorious likeness – until we drink the new wine of joy with him in the kingdom. Matt. 26:29.
Of the bread Jesus said: "It is my flesh;" that is, it represents his flesh, his humanity which was broken or sacrificed for us. Unless he had sacrificed himself for us, we could never have had a resurrection from death, to future life; as he said, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man...ye have no life in you." John 6:53.
Not only was the breaking of Jesus' body thus to provide bread of life, of which if a man eat he shall never die, but it also opened the "narrow way" to life, and broke or unsealed and gave us access to the truth, as an aid to walk the narrow way which leads to life. And thus we see that it was the breaking of him who said, "I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE; no man cometh unto the Father but by ME." John 14:6.
Hence, when we eat of the broken loaf, we should realize that had he not died – been broken for us – we should never have been able to come to the Father, but would have remained forever under the curse of Adamic sin and in the bondage of death.
Another thought: the bread was unleavened. Leaven is corruption, an element of decay, hence a type of sin, and the decay and death which sin works in mankind. So, then, this symbol declares that Jesus was free from sin, a lamb without spot or blemish, "holy, harmless, undefiled." Had Jesus been of Adamic stock, had he received the life principle in the usual way from an earthly father, he, too, would have been leavened, as are all other men, by Adamic sin; but his life came unblemished from a higher, heavenly nature, changed to earthly conditions, hence he is called the bread from heaven. John 6:41. Let us then appreciate the bread as pure, unleavened, and so let us eat of him; eating and digesting truth, and especially this truth; appropriating by faith his righteousness to ourselves we realize him as both the way and the life.
The Apostle, by divine revelation, communicates to us a further meaning in this remembrancer. He shows that not only did the loaf represent Jesus, individually, but that after we have partaken thus of him, (after we have been justified by appropriating his righteousness), we may, by consecration, be associated with him as parts of one loaf (one body) to be broken for, and in a like manner to become food for the world (1 Cor. 10:16). This same thought, of our privilege as justified believers to share now in the sufferings and death of Christ, and thus become joint-heirs with him of future glories, and associates in the work of blessing and giving life to all the families of the earth, is expressed by the Apostle repeatedly and under various figures; but when he compares the church, as a whole to the "one loaf" now being broken, it furnishes a striking and forcible illustration of our union and fellowship with our Head.
He says, "Because there is one loaf we, the many [persons] are one body; for we all partake of the one loaf." "The loaf which we break, is it not a participation of the body of the Anointed one?" 1 Cor. 10:16,17. – Diaglott.
The wine represents the life given by Jesus the sacrifice – the death. "This is my blood (symbol of LIFE given up in death, of the new covenant, shed for many, FOR THE REMISSION of sins;" "Drink ye all of it" – Matt. 26:27,28.
It is by the giving up of his life as a ransom for the life of the Adamic race, which sin had forfeited, that a right to LIFE comes to men. (Rom. 5:18,19.) Jesus' shed blood was the "ransom for ALL," but his act of handing the cup to the disciples, and asking them to drink of it, was an invitation to them to become partakers of his sufferings, or, as Paul expresses it, to "fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ." (Col. 1:24.) "The cup of blessing, for which we bless God, is it not a participation of the blood [shed blood – death] of the Anointed one?" (1 Cor. 10:16. – Diaglott.) Would that all could realize the value of the cup, and could bless [R840 : page 8] God for an opportunity, sharing it with Christ that we may be also glorified together." – Rom. 8:17.
Jesus attaches this significance to the cup elsewhere, indicating that it is the cup of sacrifice, the death of our humanity. For instance, when asked by two disciples a promise of future glory in his throne, he answered them: "Ye know not what ye ask; are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of?" On their hearty avowal he answered, "Ye shall indeed drink of my cup." Wine is also a symbol of joy and invigoration: so we share Jesus' joys in doing the Father's will now, and shall share also his glories, honors and immortality – when we drink it new with him in the Kingdom.
Let us then, dearly beloved, as we surround the table to commemorate our Lord's death, call to mind the meaning of what we do; and being invigorated with his life, and strengthened by the living bread, let us drink with him into his death and be broken in feeding others. "For if we be dead with him we shall live with him; if we suffer we shall also reign with him." – 2 Tim. 2:11,12.
It is left open for each to decide for himself whether he has or has not the right to partake of this bread and this cup. If he professes to be a disciple, his fellow disciples may not attempt to judge his heart – God alone reads that with positiveness. And though the Master knew beforehand, who would betray him, nevertheless one who had "a devil" was with the twelve.
Because of its symbolism of the death of Christ, therefore let all beware of partaking of it ignorantly, unworthily, improperly – not recognizing through it "the Lord's body" as our ransom, else the breaking of it in his case would be as though he were one of those who murdered the Lord and he in symbol would "be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." – 1 Cor. 11:27-29.
"But let a man examine himself," let him see to it that in partaking of the emblems he realizes them as the ransom price of his life and privileges; and furthermore that he by partaking of them is pledging himself to share in the sufferings of Christ and be broken for others; else, otherwise, his act of commemoration will be a condemnation to his daily life before his own conscience – "condemnation to himself."
Through lack of proper appreciation of this remembrancer which symbolizes not only our justification, but also our consecration to share in the sufferings and death of Christ, the Apostle says "many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep." (1 Cor. 11:30.) The truth of this remark is evident; a failure to appreciate and a losing sight of the truths represented in this supper are the cause of the weak, sickly, and sleepy condition of the church. Nothing so fully awakens and strengthens the saints as a clear appreciation of the ransom sacrifice and of their share with their Lord in his sufferings and sacrifice for the world. "Let a man examine himself and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup."
Pardon implies the removal of guilt. It differs from acquittal. The latter term is applied where guilt is charged but not established. The innocent man, when found to be innocent, is acquitted. He is not pardoned, but justified as an innocent man. But the sinner is not innocent. The dreadful fact of his guilt is established, and cannot be ignored. If he be delivered from guilt it must be by cancellation – by blotting out the record of the guilt – a work which God only can perform. Hence pardon is not an act of acquittal, but the reversal or revocation of the condemnatory sentence of the law. This act takes away the guilt of sin by expiation, and removes its legal results, including the penalty, so that the sinner escapes from punishment as effectually as by acquittal. The sacrifice of Christ expiates the guilt provisionally, and faith in Christ makes the expiation actual, and delivers from condemnation.– Sel.
[R624 : page 8]
The Church of God on earth is not what she seems; nay, is what she seems not. She is not a beggar, yet she seems one; she is a King's bride, yet she seems not. It was so with her Lord while here. He was not what men thought him; he was what they thought him not.
It is in this way that the world is put to shame, its thoughts confounded, its greatness abased before God. And it is in this way that Divine wisdom gets large space over which to spread itself, step by step, and to open out its infinite resources slowly and with care (like one exhibiting his treasures), that no part, no turn in all its windings may be left unobserved. It is not the result only that God desires that we should see and wonder at, but the process by which it is reached, so unlikely to effect it, yet so steadily moving forward to its end, and so strangely successful in bringing about that end.
The tree, in winter, is not what it appears – dead; nay, it is what it appears not – alive; full in every part, root and branch, of vigorous though hidden vitality, which frosts and storms are maturing, not quenching. All summer-life is there; all fruitfulness is there; though neither visible. It wraps up within itself the germs of future verdure, and awaits the coming spring. So is it with the church, in this age of wintry night; for it is both night and winter with her. Her present condition ill accords with her prospects. No one, in looking at her, could guess what she either is or is to be; could conceive what God has in store for her. For eye has nothing to do with the seeing of it, nor ear with the hearing of it. No one, in observing her garb or her deportment, or the treatment she meets with at the hands of men, or the sharp, heavy discipline through which she is passing, could take the measure of her hopes. Faith finds difficulty in realizing her prospects, and she can hardly at times credit the greatness of her heritage, when thinking of what she is and remembering what she has been.
It often seems strange to us, and it must seem much more so to unfallen beings, that saints should be found at all in such a world, – a world of atheists, – a world that from the days of Cain has been the rejector of God's Son, both as the sacrifice for sin and as the heir of all things. It is not on such a spot that we should naturally expect to find sons of God.
If a stranger, traversing the universe in search of God's little flock, his chosen ones, were to put to us the question, "Where are they to be found?" certainly he would be astonished when told that they were in that very world where Satan reigned. Would he not say, "Either this is a mistake and a chance, or else it is the very depth of unfathomable wisdom." For we do not go to the crater's slope for verdure; nor for flowers to the desert. Yet it is so with the Church. It is strange, perhaps, to find a Joseph in Egypt, or a Rahab in Jericho, or an Obadiah in the house of Ahab, but it is more amazing to find saints in the world.
Yet they are here. In spite of everything ungenial in soil and air, they are here. They never seem to become acclimatized, yet they do not die out, but are ever renewed. The enemy labors to uproot them, but they are ineradicable. Nay, they thrive and bear fruit. It is a miracle; but yet so it is. Here the great Husbandman is rearing his plants from generation to generation. Here the great Potter fashions his vessels. Here the great Master-builder hews and polishes the stones for his eternal temple.
Thus, then, one characteristic of the church is the unlikeliness of her present to her future condition. It is this that marks her out, that isolates her, as a gem in the heart of a rock, as a vein of gold in a mine. Originally she belonged to the mass, but she was drawn apart from it, or it fell from her and left her alone, like a pillar among ruins. Outwardly she retains much of her former self; but inwardly she has undergone a change that has assimilated her to "the world to come." Thus her affinities and her sympathies are all with that better world. Her dwelling is still here, and in her external appearance she is much as she used to be; but the internal transformation has made her feel that this is not her home, and filled her with anticipations of the city and the kingdom to come, of which she has been made the heir. Her kindred according to the flesh are here, but she is now allied to Jehovah, and this draws her soul upwards.
Cut off from home and a heritage here, yet assured of both hereafter, she of necessity lives a life of anticipation. Giving credit to the message of grace, and resting on the blood of him through whose cross that grace came to her, she anticipates her judgment.
Realizing her oneness with the risen and ascended Christ, she feels as if already seated with him in heavenly places. Looking forward to the arrival of the King, she anticipates the kingdom. In darkness she anticipates the light; in sorrow she anticipates the joy; in the night she anticipates the morning; in shame she anticipates the glory. "All are mine," she says, "whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are mine; for I am Christ's, and Christ is God's." In these anticipations she lives. They make up a large portion of her daily being. They cheer her onward in spite of the rough wastes she has to pass through. They comfort her; or when they do not quite succeed in this, they at least calm and soothe her. They do not turn midnight into noon, but they make it less oppressive, and take off "the night side of nature."
"I am not what I seem," she says to herself; and this is joy. I am not the beggard outcast that the world takes me for. I am richer far than they. I live in the future; my treasure is in heaven, and my heart has gone up to be where my treasure is. I shall soon be seen to be what I now seem not. My kingdom is at hand; my sun is about to rise; I shall soon see the king in his beauty; I shall soon be keeping festival, and the joy of my promised morning will make me forget that I ever wept."
Thus she lives in the morning ere the morning has come. She takes a wide sweep of vision, round and round, without a limit; for faith has no horizon; it looks beyond life, and earth and the ages, into eternity.
Beyond the death-bed and beyond the grave, she sees resurrection. Beyond the broken hearts and severed bands of time, she realizes and clasps the eternal love-links; beyond the troubles of the hour, and beyond the storm that is to wreck the world, she casts her eye, and feels as if transported into the kingdom that cannot be moved, as if already she had taken up her abode in the New Salem, the city of peace and righteousness. Beyond the region of the falling leaf she passes on to the green pastures and sits under the branches of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God. Losing sight of the bitterness of absence from the beloved of her heart, she enters the bridal chamber and tastes the bridal joy; keeping festival even in the desert, and enjoying the Sabbath rest amid the tumults of a stormy world.– H. Bonar.
"What poor despised company
Of travelers are these,
Who walk in yonder narrow way,
Along the rugged maze?"
"Ah, these are of a royal line,
All children of a king,
Heirs of immortal crowns divine,
And lo, for joy they sing!"
Each night is followed by its day,
Each storm by fairer weather,
While all the works of nature sing
Their psalms of joy together.
Then learn, oh heart, their song of hope!
Cease, soul, thy thankless sorrow;
For though the clouds be dark to-day,
The sun shall shine to-morrow.
Among the Scotch lairds there is one whose father died in a poor house, like a beggar, notwithstanding his possession of the very same riches as his heir at present has at his disposal; but he simply did not know how rich he was. Shortly after his decease, rich metallic ore was discovered on the estate; the mines which were worked at once gave such returns that very soon all mortgages and debts could be paid off, and moreover put the present owner in possession of a nobleman's fortune. His father possessed no less, but he knew it not. Alas, for how many the blessed Word of God is worth no more than waste paper! Therein are contained the richest promises of fullness of grace, of victory over every enemy, of exceeding glory, but because they do not explore these mines they live like beggars, who can hardly obtain a morsel of bread. And lo! There is spread the rich board in the Father's house, with food most exquisite, and the Father himself inviting us to sit down at his table.– Sel.
EVERY act of the man inscribes itself in the memories of his fellows, and in his own manners and face. The air is full of sounds, the sky of tokens, the ground is all memoranda and signatures, and every object covered with hints, which speak to the intelligent.
THE United Presbyterian, discussing the recent elections in England, says: "England is moving on towards – we do not know what. Its democratic development is slow, yet sure; and though the church seems to be strong, its disestablishment is only a matter of time. The tendencies of the age are too strong even for British sturdiness, reinforced by all the power of sacred traditions, and the old things must pass away to make room for the new."