BUSINESS OFFICE: No. 40 Federal Street, Allegheny, Pa.
The Editor recognizes a responsibility to the Master, relative to what shall appear in these columns, which he cannot and does not cast aside; yet he should not be understood as endorsing every expression of correspondents, or of articles selected from other periodicals.
This paper will be sent free to any of the Lord's poor who will send a card yearly requesting it. Freely we have received and freely we would give the truth. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat – yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." And you that have it – "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently – and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness." – ISAIAH 55:1,2.
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.
Some few got the wrong idea and gave away the "Packets" instead of loaning them to be read, and then collecting them for further use. Read again carefully the suggestions of the "View" in TOWER of last February. They are more apt to be read when loaned than if given.
We desire to place the truth before our religious German neighbors. Our plan is to have sample copies of our German TOWER distributed at the door of every Protestant German church in cities and towns where our English readers reside.
We want your assistance in this work; the more sacrifice it costs you, the greater it will prove your love of the truth to be, and the greater will be your blessing and joy in the service. We want those who will, to superintend the distribution, either doing it themselves or engaging and superintending others whom they may see fit to employ to assist them.
Those glad to thus spend and be spent in the service of the truth, will please send us a Postal Card at once, stating the name and the probable number attending the morning service of each German church. Then wait until you receive the sample papers which will be supplied FREE, and which must be printed after we learn the quantity required. Let the work be thorough.
Among the deeply interesting events of the present life, to some at least, was the gathering at this place last month to remember our Redeemer, to celebrate our ransom, and look forward to our deliverance and that of the whole creation from the bondage of death, and to remember our covenant to share Christ's sufferings. The celebration of the Lord's Supper on its anniversary, the night of the 18th of April, was followed by three days of continued conference on precious things of God.
Quite a number of brethren and sisters were present from various parts of this state, as well as some from adjoining states – Ohio, New York, West Virginia, Iowa, Tennessee, Missouri and Canada being represented. The meeting in the morning, Sunday, April 18, was of a social character, and after opening with praise and worship, was devoted mainly to short accounts from some of those laboring abroad in a more or less public way, relating how they each found the work to progress in their hands, and the methods they found most successful in their efforts to "preach the Gospel to the meek." (Isa. 61:1.) Among others who thus interested and profited us, were Brothers Bryan, Blundin, Brookman, Myers, Adamson, Mann, Chilcoate and Tavender. The meeting adjourned with prayer by Brother Clowes, after singing with the spirit and with the understanding also, that grand old hymn,
"Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love."
Lunch was served in a room adjoining our public hall by the sisters, who thus "washed the saints' feet" (1 Tim. 5:10. See last Tower, page 3). Thus opportunity for private intercourse was abundant and well improved; for these lunches were thus supplied between all the meetings, which were thus continuous.
In the afternoon Bro. Zech's German meeting and our usual Bible Class were set aside and the time given to Bro. Adamson, who from a chart, such as that in "Food," gave a discourse on The Plan of the Ages, illustrating his method of treating this topic in his public discourses. All felt the sentiment of the hymn with which we closed the meeting.
"I love to tell the story,
'Tis pleasant to repeat
What seems each time I tell it,
More wonderfully sweet."
We adjourned this meeting to a Baptism service, at which the ordinance was explained, and five persons immersed – four of them thus symbolizing their covenant of consecration unto death with Christ, and their faith that they will be in his likeness in the resurrection; and one symbolized, as in "John's baptism," his repentance of sin and reformation of life.
The eight o'clock Sunday evening meeting was the solemn season of commemoration of the Lord's Supper, and a larger number were present than on any such previous occasion. It was good to be there! We had communion and fellowship one with another, and with our Father, and with our Head. We realized afresh that the blood of Jesus Christ our Lord cleanseth us from all sin; and that all our hopes of future life and glory, as well as our present blessings of communion with the King of kings, were secured to us by him whose ransom for all, took away the sin of the world, and justified us freely from all things.
Gratefully we thought of and acknowledged this, as we handled and partook of the unleavened bread, and the wine, which emblemized the holy, harmless, undefiled one – "the man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom for all." In accepting in our hearts of his purity, and rights freely sacrificed for us, and appropriating to ourselves those rights and that purity, we were eating him – his flesh and blood. We thus ate in our hearts while we at the same time literally partook of the emblems, and thus symbolized the same, according to the Master's wish, "Do this in remembrance of me." It was a solemn and impressive hour, and we endeavored to make clear the fact that our Father's love and mercy were manifested and extended to us in and by this sacrifice for our sins which he provided, and not in any other way. We saw that the serving of Jesus' ministry and the example of obedience and self-denial which he displayed, though blessed to those of his day, and to others since, was not all by any means; for all this would have been of no practical avail to the condemned, groaning, dying creation, unless he had also given his life [being, existence] a ransom, [a price] for ours condemned and forfeited. The Son of Man came to serve "and to give his life [psuche, being] a ransom for many." – Mark 10:45, Matt. 20:28.
Meditating upon his night of sorrow in the garden, intensified by his perfectness and purity, as well as by the shame of being put to death as a felon, and by the absence of appreciation and sympathy [R852 : page 1] from his beloved disciples – considering him who endured such opposition of sinners, lest we should be weary or faint as we should continue to follow his footsteps, we sang a hymn and went to our homes.
Monday following, all day was spent in an examination of the prophetic time proofs, which show that we are living in the Day of the Lord's presence since 1874 – that there, the times of restitution, the Millennial Age, began – that the forepart of that age is the "day of vengeance" or "day of trouble," a period of forty years from 1874 to 1914, and that the grand blessings of restitution are really begun in this trouble, which is a blessing in disguise, breaking in pieces and removing the present governments and systems represented in Nebuchadnezzar's image (Dan. 2:31-33), as incidental to the establishment of the Kingdom of God for which we have long prayed, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven." The matter was illustrated by charts, and will be given in full in Millennial Day Dawn (not yet ready; but of which notice will be given in the TOWER).
Tuesday. – In the morning we were interested and edified by a discourse from Brother Brookman on the Ransom. He dealt particularly with the Greek words which our word for is used to translate; showing conclusively, and by many Scriptural references, that "FOR" in many instances signifies instead of, and repeatedly teaches that our Lord Jesus became man's substitute in death, in order that there might be a resurrection of the dead. The afternoon session was also full of interest, a number of points relative to the Ransom being examined, including the statement made by Peter (2 Peter 2:1) that false teachers would privily bring in damnable heresies, even denying that the Lord bought them. This was shown to be the correct rendering of the Greek text.
Wednesday. – Both forenoon and afternoon sessions were spent in considering How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? As this subject is treated on pages 3 and onward, we need not refer to it here particularly.
The subject of the evening meeting was Joel 2:28,29. We saw that God had hidden in this a blessed promise of future blessing to the world, which has been covered until the last few years, by the construction of the statement. We saw that the real intent and meaning of the passage was apparent when once its statement was transposed; thus, "Upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days [the Christian age] will I pour out my spirit." "And it shall come to pass afterward [during the Millennium] that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams and your young men shall see visions."
Here we noted the great difference between the "narrow way" of the present time and the "highway" of the future age. The narrow way, has its stumbling stones, snares and devouring lions, preventing any but the "little flock," the "overcomers," from reaching the prize at its farther end, the "crown of life;" while the highway of the next age shall be made one of easy travel, in which "those unacquainted therewith shall not go astray." – Isa. 35:8. Leeser.
We saw that now, the Holy Spirit could be received only by the few servants and handmaids of Jehovah willingly following their Leader in the "narrow way," but that when this select company – the body of Christ, has been completed and glorified, then afterward God will pour out of the spirit of truth upon all flesh. We saw that, wide as [R852 : page 2] the difference will be between the abundant and favorable opportunity of the next age, as contrasted with the present time, when error abounds and Satan is permitted to blind many, and to oppose the truth, yet the rewards at the close of the two ways, are just as different as the ways themselves. Both paths lead to honor and life everlasting, but the "little flock," who overcome the severe besetments of the present time, are to be the bride and joint-heir of the King of glory, and to share his nature and to be with him and like him, while those under the less severe trials of the "highway" shall ultimately receive the Kingdom [of earth] prepared for them from the foundation of the world. (Matt. 25). All will be divinely blessed, but the one class – the Christ, head and body, will be blest as "new creatures" with the express image of the Father's person; the other class blessed by being restored to the earthly likeness lost by Adam – the image of God in clay – "very good" and very grand. – Gen. 1:31. Psa. 8:5,6.
We saw that the pouring of the Holy Spirit of truth upon all flesh would by no means insure the same result to them as to the little flock of the Gospel Age; and that the spirit of truth in the age to come will not point to the narrow way of sacrifice of human rights and privileges, but on the contrary to their opportunity of laying hold of those earthly rights and privileges more fully. The time of sacrifice will then be past, and the spirit will no longer witness that whosoever will live Godly, shall suffer persecution. When all things are favorable – Satan bound and truth triumphant – how could any suffer for the truth's sake as now? The spirit of truth will not then invite any to aspire to or strive for the divine nature, as the Bride of Christ; but on the contrary the spirit of truth then poured upon all flesh will witness to them that the marriage of the Lamb is accomplished, his wife having made herself ready under severe trial, during the Gospel Age. It will witness that the "elect" "little flock," chosen during the acceptable time, through sanctification of the spirit [mind] and obedience to the truth, has been enthroned in power.
The spirit will then witness that these were thus highly honored for trusting and obeying God in the dark, along the rugged narrow way, and that though that high heavenly class so much better than angels (Heb. 1:4) is complete, other precious blessings are for "all flesh," and that whosoever will, may come to the water of life; and accepting of God's favor through Christ, and walking the easy highway of holiness, may be everlastingly blessed of God.
In a word, – the holy spirit of truth which testifies to the "little flock" called with the "high calling" that except we forsake all and suffer with Christ, we cannot reign with him and partake of the divine nature, will then testify or witness to "all flesh" very differently, viz., that only sins must be put away, that the righteous shall flourish, and only the evil doer shall suffer and be finally cut off from life.
Thus the word of his grace comforted us and strengthened us to endure hardness as good soldiers, for we heard the voice of our Captain and Forerunner on the narrow way saying to us – Fear not, I have overcome the world – my grace is sufficient for you – to him that overcometh I will grant to sit with me in my throne and I will give him to eat of the hidden manna.
Our meeting closed with prayer and the sentiment expressed by the hymn –
"Truth how sacred is the treasure
Teach us Lord its worth to know."
Our meeting will long be remembered and we hope that at the anniversary next year, even more of the laborers will be able to arrange their affairs even at this busy season of the year, to thus turn aside to celebrate this solemn occasion, and thus build each other up.
We have received many interesting letters from the scattered saints showing how, singly and in little groups they remembered and complied with the Lord's last request, Do this in remembrance of me. Below we give a few brief page 2
A Brother in New Jersey writes: – Dear Bro. Russell: You may be sure that in spirit your kind invitation to meet with the saints at your place on next Lord's day is fully accepted. I should be delighted to meet with you and the dear ones who may visit you on that occasion, but at this time it is not in our Lord's order that I should go. We have arranged to celebrate the Supper in unison with you in the evening at eight, and no doubt we shall all partake of the "one Spirit," while with solemn reverence, yet with gladness of heart, we eat the bread and drink the cup which symbolizes at once the living bread, which was given for "the life of the world," and the precious blood, by which only is the remission and washing away of sin. It cleanseth! tell it to the people, "the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth from all unrighteousness." How loving and kind is our heavenly Father; and in this surely, the Father and Son are one, for the Son loved us, and gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Even in Jehovah's sight we are accepted in the Beloved. Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.
I was led to send cards of invitation to a meeting of those who love our Lord's appearing, and are desirous of mutual edification in our most holy faith; and in response a goodly company gathered on Sunday morning. This was Sunday before last. I explained to them the reason why I invited them, that the object I had in view was the building up of the Church in the things of the Spirit. A number spoke, there was a general feeling of the need of such a meeting, and at a second one, held last Sunday morning, it was agreed to hold the meetings permanently. We have kept up our regular meetings at Bro.__________ house Sunday afternoons, where we try to get down into the very depths of the deep things of God, and our adorable Lord honors us with his presence and blessing. In our public meetings we shall need grace and wisdom from on high to rightly divide the word of truth, that "meat in due season" may be given to all. Pray for us. Love to all the saints, and especially to yourself, dear Brother, and dear Sister Russell, beloved in the Lord. Yours in Him.
A Brother in Michigan writes – "Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." Our desire to be present with you in Allegheny, at the General Assembly, on the day of remembrance, could not be gratified. Yet our uniting together here on that day, was most richly blessed by our common Master; and as we partook of the blessed symbols of his precious body and blood, we had a realizing sense of the presence of our Redeemer, all being filled with the hope of participating in that glorious triumph of "the General Assembly and Church of the First-born, whose names are written in heaven." Thirteen of us united in celebrating the anniversary of the slaying of our Passover Lamb, a few not yet free from denominational shackles partaking with us, and the occasion will, I trust, be remembered by all, as one of the most blessed in their Christian experience. I believe the truth is finding its way to the hearts of several who are closely reading the TOWER, which will, I trust, bring forth fruit in its season.
Brother Adamson, who attended the anniversary meeting here, left here for Bethel, Pa., from which he writes as follows: – Dear Bro. R.: I stayed overnight at Wilmington and walked here (6 miles) Sunday morning. In the afternoon I had conferences with brethren who are slowly but surely coming to full favor and knowledge. I preached to a full house at the hall, and have an appointment to-night about a mile distant. Great hopes of a good house and hearing ears, for the brethren here have loaned "Towers" and "Food" until a spirit of inquiry is manifest among the thinking class. Nothing could be kinder than the treatment of the brethren. How they love you and sister Russell. Grace and peace. In Christ.
A sister in Palmyra, Ill., writes: – My husband and I send Christian greeting to all them of like precious faith who, in one hope of their calling, shall gather with you around the table of our Lord to remember his love for us, and to glorify God for his great love wherewith he hath loved us. Would that I could shake hands with all the loved brethren and sisters, and join with you in singing –
"Praise God from whom all blessings flow."
Hoping that some time I may meet some of you, and trusting that you will remember the lone ones, I am
A Brother in Florida writes: – Six of us remembered the Lord by celebrating the Supper, and we found it a precious time. The Lord was with us. The conflict is sharp but it will not last long. May we be able to endure unto the end.
Another Brother in Michigan writes: – I have been a reader of the TOWER for about four months through the instrumentality of your colporteur in this place, and it has been indeed meat in due season to me. I am rejoicing in the increasing light from the Gospel. The more I see of the harmony and glory of God's plan of salvation, the more anxious I am that others should be lead out of bondage into the liberty of Christ. I will do the best I can towards scattering the good seed judiciously. I expect soon to go to Mayville and Lapeer, and if you can spare me about fifty samples I will make good use of them. Seven or eight of us here intend to meet together and celebrate the death of Christ our passover.
A Brother in Guildford, England, writes: – I shall remember the Lord's death this year, perhaps with one more, in fellowship with you all at the same time. We shall all be together when we drink the wine new with Christ in our Father's kingdom.
A Brother in Dayton, Ohio, writes: – On the evening of the anniversary of our Lord's last supper, I partook of the blessed emblems alone. God was with me and I had a refreshing time. I would like to have been with you brethren and sisters, but I could not make it suit. May God bless you and all the household of faith.
A Sister in Elk Creek, Mo., writes: – We did not receive the April TOWER until after the 18th but observed the remembrance. Your desire was that all study well the meaning of what they were about to do. This we did. How important the lesson and how much needed.
We joyfully anticipate the hour when the sacrifice of the Christ being ended the glory shall follow. We long for the time when all God's creatures shall be perfected, each on his own plane, rank or order, under the King of Peace, who bought the right to restore, teach, rule and bless all with his own life.
A sister in Lawrence, Kansas, writes: – I celebrated the Passover Supper alone with the Lord, as I have done two years before. I meditated upon the suffering and death of Him, and our privilege of sharing the same.
A brother in New Orleans writes: – I rejoice to tell you that the Lord is giving me much encouragement by the way, and that when I most needed it. I wrote some days ago that I would try to reach the ministers with these truths. I have been busy doing so, and the Lord has been with me in the work. Yesterday from many pulpits sounded forth things out of harmony with old orthodox preaching. Last Saturday three Methodist ministers had a meeting discussing the contents of the book "Food." The same day a Presbyterian pastor up town sent me a note to come and see him. I went. He had heard of and seen a little of the book "Food," where I had left a "packet," at the house of one of his congregation. I found the truth had taken firm hold. We had a nice talk together. At his request I left a packet containing "Food," with back numbers. He is now at work to see if these things are so. I was at another pastor's house this evening and was much edified, finding one, in earnest, as well as trusting entirely the teaching of God's Word and dissatisfied with other standards. He told me that yesterday he preached from Isaiah. "I will send my messenger before thy face," &c., comparing the work of John the Baptist with a similar work now, preparing the way before him. I believe this man has a great deal of light. He is reading "Food."
I have now only about four copies of "Food" left, which are out being read. Please send some more.
A sister wrote from Ellisville, Mo. – Through God's loving providence five of us were permitted to assemble on the 18th ultimo to commemorate the Lord's Supper. All present seemed to fully appreciate their privilege. We also remembered our covenant to sacrifice and be broken for others in the cause of truth, to patiently and cheerfully bear persecutions and reproaches for Christ's sake, knowing that if we suffer with him, we shall also share in his glory.
MY DEAR BROTHER. – Just a line of greeting to tell you that nine of the readers of the TOWER, all believers in the "Ransom," met at my brother's house on Sunday the 18th and partook of the emblems of our Lord's death, and we all found it a season of much blessing. Those who have had ears to hear have received the good news with gladness of heart in the face of much opposition. In the name of the brethren and sisters here I send you our affectionate greeting.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL. – I am waiting anxiously for the May number of the TOWER so that I may get the account of the meetings. The Lord knows how I desired to be present at the celebration of our Lord's Supper and the other meetings, but circumstances prevented me from coming. On the night of the 18th I read carefully the account of the Lord's Supper and agony in the garden, and his crucifixion; and also Paul's account in 1 Cor. 11th chapter, and I had a feast all to myself. And it did me good, although I should very much like to have been present at Allegheny to have met with the dear brothers and sisters. I have no doubt that you had a glorious and blessed time. May God bless his church and fit her for her high position. I will do what I can to spread the blessed truth in this community. I desire to be a worker together with Christ. I am almost alone, and I long for Christian fellowship. God's word is very dear to me; it is my chief study, and I pray God to fill me with his truth that I may be able to declare it to others.
"If I in thy likeness, O Lord, may awake,
And shine a pure image of thee,
Then I shall be satisfied when I can break
The fetters of flesh and be free.
"I know this stained tablet must first be washed white,
To let thy bright features be drawn;
I know I must suffer the darkness of night,
To welcome the coming of dawn.
"And O! the blest morning already is here;
The shadows of nature do fade;
And soon in thy likeness I'll with thee appear,
In glory and beauty arrayed.
"When on thine own image in me thou hast smiled,
Within thy blest mansion, and when
The arms of my Father encircle his child,
O! I shall be satisfied then."
During our general meeting following the anniversary celebration, Brother Brookman received the following letter from one of the Toronto brethren; and we now answer it through the TOWER, thinking it may be of interest and profit to others of our readers. It was answered at our public meeting when received, and as we were then engaged somewhat in the examination of the Prophetic Time Proofs which show that we are in "the harvest" of this age, and that the chief reaper, the Lord Jesus, is now present, it came with special force, and we trust was seen very clearly by all present. The letter runs thus:
Dear Sir and Brother. – Now that you are on a visit to Brother Russell, I take this opportunity of sending you the enclosed extracts from an article by Mrs. R. in last TOWER, entitled, "We Shall Not All Sleep." Already I know the TOWER'S views concerning the Lord's presence, and it appears that now they have accepted the "orthodox" view of going to heaven when you die – at least this article seems to so teach.
Can one instance be given of the body of any one now dying in the Lord, disappearing at death? After the resurrection of our Lord his body was not found in the tomb. Should we not therefore, look for the same proofs to-day of a resurrection? Then too, according to this view, the living saints are left behind instead of being caught away together.
"Those [saints] who die in this day of the Lord's presence do not sleep, but the instant that the human body sinks into death, the new spiritual body is received, and according to Paul's words, not an instant of unconsciousness intervenes. Because the spiritual body is invisible to humanity, none can know of the change except by faith in the promise of God. The work of the new Kingdom is now in progress, and the body of Christ whether in the flesh or in the spirit (resurrected) are actively engaged as co-workers together with our Lord and head. What a blessed privilege to realize that such is the case.
Trusting your mission will be blessed, I am,
The Brother errs in supposing this to be a new departure; and if he will examine some back numbers of the Tower, he will see that we have so taught for several years – since 1878, at which time we believe it became true as expressed in Revelation 14:13. – "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; yea saith the spirit that they may rest from their labors [from the toil and weariness] and their works follow with them." – without interruption or hindrance. See particularly the articles "Who can hear it?" in the Tower of October, 1881, and "Ye are Gods" in December, 1881, and "The Blessed Dying" in the same issue.
The fact that so called "orthodoxy" teaches something resembling what the Scriptures teach, should not be considered an argument against the view referred to. On the contrary, it is more reasonable to suppose that the more pleasing part of what the early church believed on this subject, had been held to, to the neglect and ignoring of the less palatable truths. For instance, the hope of each generation of the church in early times, was, that they would be of those mentioned by Paul (1 Cor. 15:51,52), of those who would be alive when the Lord the life-giver would return; and hence they hoped that they might not be obliged to sleep in death.
That the coming of the Lord, and the resurrection of the saints, and the bestowment of the crown of life at that time, were continually before their mind, is manifest from the various epistles of the Apostles which direct the faith and hope of all thither.
Of all the religions of the world, Christianity and Judaism are the only ones which teach that a man is really dead when he expires, and that a resurrection is the only hope of a future life. But when the church began to covet influence and power, when Papacy was "set up" in power, and the chief aim came to be, to make Christianity popular with the heathen, when thousands of heathen claimed to be converted, Papacy to bring these pagans into her bosom and to gain the support and strength of their influence, paganized Christianity, introducing gaudy ceremonies, incense burning, and the images of the apostles and saints to take the place in their hearts and superstitions of their idols and heathen customs. Can we wonder that then the cold and rather repulsive doctrine of the sleep of the dead, came to be generally ignored? and that the other thought should be made prominent and, even distorted to make it more palatable, until "We which are alive and remain shall not sleep, but shall be changed in a moment," came to be applied to all Christians without reference to the Lord's coming? During the darkness of the ages following that degrading of the doctrines of Christianity, and that great influx of tares among the wheat, the Bible was almost abandoned and its teachings on the subject were lost sight of.
One thing sure, is that the same Apostle who teaches that the dead all sleep until the Life-giver comes, and that they will then be awakened, teaches also that those living in that time will not sleep.
To some already instructed on this subject of the change of the living in the Day of the Lord's presence, Paul wrote, "Yourselves know perfectly that the DAY OF THE LORD so cometh as a thief in the night."..."Ye brethren are not in darkness that that DAY should overtake you as a thief."..."For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thess. 5:2,4,9; see also chap. 2:19,20 and 3:13 and 4:17.) From this the Thessalonian brethren seem to have drawn a wrong conclusion, supposing the Apostle to intimate that the day of the Lord would surely come in their day. And certain teachers of that day, led by their own imaginations, began to proclaim that the Day of the Lord had commenced; that the Lord was then present, and that the dead had been resurrected. (See 2 Tim. 2:17,18.) And the Thessalonian church knowing that Paul's teachings were not out of harmony with this proclamation, were much exercised and troubled to know whether it was true that the Day of the Lord had come.
To meet their difficulty, Paul wrote them the second epistle in which the main thought is the correcting of this error. And inasmuch as we are now making very similar claims to those which the Apostle guarded them against, it is well that we note carefully his words and see whether they disprove our teachings on the subject. If they do, we must abandon the view, no matter how pleasing it may seem; but if it is in harmony, it will be an additional confirmation of our position.
The Apostle wrote: (2 Thes. 2.) "But we entreat you brethren, concerning the coming [presence – Greek parousia] of the Lord Jesus Christ, and our assembling to him, that you be not quickly agitated, in mind, nor alarmed; neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter, as from us – as though the Day of the Lord was present. Let no man delude you by any means." Had the Apostle stopped here, it would not only have proved our teachings as erroneous as those he was refuting, but it would have done more; it would have proved his own teachings in the first epistle to the Thessalonians, as well as those to the Corinthians, to be erroneous also. It would be saying, The day of the Lord never will be present; whereas he had taught them plainly that "The day of the Lord so cometh [and that too unawares, secretly] as a thief in the night." – 1 Thes. 5:2.
But the Apostle is not controverting his previous teachings that such a day of the Lord's presence would come, and secretly; he was merely showing that it had not yet come; for he continues – "Let no man delude you by any means, BECAUSE the apostasy must come first, and must be revealed, that MAN OF SIN, that SON OF DESTRUCTION, the OPPONENT; who indeed lifts himself above everything called a god or that is reverenced – so as to seat himself in the TEMPLE of God exhibiting himself that he is a god. Do you not remember that while I was with you I said these things to you?" And now you know, what withholdeth [prevents, hinders, comes between] that he [Christ Jesus] should be revealed in his own season. [Now you know why I so positively declare that we are not yet in the Day of the Lord.]
Paul knew of the Man of Sin, from the prophecies of Daniel, as well no doubt as from visions and revelations given him specially; (Dan. 7:24,25. 2 Cor. 12:1-7), and hence said with assurance that the Day of the Lord had not yet come. But it must strike many as peculiar that he used this argument alone. As they suppose it, he might have said, O foolish Thessalonians do you not know that when the Lord comes you will see him in the sky in great splendor? Do you not know that you would see the tomb-stones shake and fall, and the graves opening, and the risen saints about you, if the Lord, and the Day of the Lord had come? If this would be a true argument, it certainly would have been one of the most convincing to the troubled Thessalonians. And the fact that Paul used none of those arguments is strong evidence that they are not true. On the contrary the fact that they had received the doctrine of the Lord's presence, etc., proves that the Apostle's previous teaching had in no way led them to suppose that the Lord would be visible in the sky in his day, but that it would be "as a thief in the night," stealthily and quietly; and that to discern it would require them to watch and not be overcharged and asleep with the world. And even in controverting this error, Paul offers no objection to the theory that the Day of the Lord had commenced, except that above noticed – that another event, the development and revealing of Anti-Christ must come FIRST.
It is then, proper to say that Paul's statement here, favors OUR VIEW entirely, if it can be clearly seen that the apostasy he mentions did since take place, and that the "Man of Sin," or mystery of iniquity, has been revealed. This we have time and again shown to be the case, and pointed to the unquestionable fulfilment in Papacy of every item mentioned by Daniel and Paul – hence so far as Paul knew, or as we know, nothing now hinders.
Since then, nothing now prevents, the question is, What proofs are there to show that we are now in the day of the Lord's presence? We cannot here give the prophetic proofs, but hope to soon lay before you these Scriptural demonstrations that we are in the day of the Lord since 1874, and that his taking of his great power as King to judge and break in pieces present unrighteous systems, as well as to exalt to honor and glory the faithful members of his "body" – the true church – dates from 1878; at which time we understand that the sleeping members of his body were due to awake to immortality. And since that date those of this class alive, need not sleep even a moment; but in the instant of dying are changed to spiritual beings – swallowed up of life.
Even to those who had strong hopes of resurrection to spiritual being, the Adamic death or sleep, was not a desirable thing, hence the Apostle says that he desired not to be unclothed, but rather to be clothed upon with the heavenly spiritual house or body. But only to those alive in this day of the Lord, has it been possible to have this instant transfer of existence or being, from the earthly to the heavenly body, without sleep – without being unclothed for a moment.
We do not here cite you proof from the daily history of our times, that the judgment and overthrow of all imperfect civil and religious systems is in progress, as a proof that we are in the Day of the Lord's presence and power, as we have noticed this before.
We now come directly to the consideration of the question asked above, viz.: Has the body of any saint dying now [for we claim this only of the body of Christ – "in the Lord"] disappeared at death, as our Lord's did? No, we answer; nor have we any reason so to expect.
In the case of our Lord's resurrection, we must remember that the circumstances were peculiar and different from those of our resurrection. First, he wanted his disciples to realize that he was no longer dead; secondly, that he was changed, and no longer the human Jesus, but a spirit being; thirdly, that he had paid our ransom price and had not taken it back, yet, was alive and able to bestow upon all the blessings purchased with His own blood. Added to this comprehensive [R853 : page 4] object of proving his resurrection, was the difficulty that those to whom he must prove all this, were still only natural men, not yet begotten of the spirit; for "the Holy Spirit was not yet given because that Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:39), and "The natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." Hence in giving natural men a first lesson relating to spiritual things, it was needful to make the lesson so plain that the least of them might be fully convinced.
Accordingly it was necessary, not only that Jesus should show himself alive by many infallible proofs after his resurrection (Acts 1:3), but that this should be shown in such a way as to convince them that he had been "changed," and was of a higher nature than before; and it was also needful to remove his body from Joseph's tomb, as its presence there, would to them as natural men, have been a serious obstacle to implicit faith. It was for this reason that the body of Jesus was removed from the tomb, and not because the atoms of matter contained in it were needed or used in the organization of his spirit body. And the fact that the body would vanish, be dissipated or dissolved without corrupting or decaying, was mentioned by the prophet – "His flesh saw not corruption."
A very common mistake in reference to the resurrection as expressed in the words of the various creeds is, "I believe in the resurrection of the body." This is a serious mistake; the Scriptures never teach the resurrection of the body, but of the individual – the being. A body is necessary to existence or being, but the body and atoms once used in that capacity are not essential. Science tells us on seemingly good authority that the matter composing our bodies is constantly changing, and that a complete change of every part is effected in seven years. Consequently a man of seventy years would have ten bodies if all the atoms which ever composed his flesh were restored.
But not so, one atom is no better than another; and so even in the case of the world who will be restored to existence as human flesh-beings, we must not expect that necessarily the same atoms will be used again in restoring them to being. Consequently though God could and might make some outward demonstration, such as opening of tombs for the purpose of showing to the world his power, yet we must not conclude that such a demonstration is necessary, nor that the old and scattered and transformed dust, is needful to God as a basis on which to work in restoring or resurrecting mankind. It requires equally creative power to resurrect or recreate a man from one heap of dust as from another.
And if the same dust is not needful in the case of restoring humanity, how much less needful for the "new creatures," the church, no longer human, no longer flesh, but spirit – a new nature, not of the dust, not of the earth earthly, but heavenly. And consequently we need neither expect an opening of tombs for those that sleep, nor a transforming of present fleshly bodies for the living in their "change."
Consequently the non-disappearance of bodies is not a valid objection, if the Scriptures prove and events corroborate the fact that we are now in the day of the Lord, and in consequence that those members of the body of Christ who slept are now due to be awakened, and that those members yet alive should not sleep, but be blessed in the instant of dying by being "changed." Rather, it is in harmony, as we shall show, with Paul's statements regarding this subject, as stated below.
"Thou sowest not that body which shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat or some other grain: but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him; and to every seed his own [kind of] body." 1 Cor. 15:37,38.
The Apostle uses this illustration from nature to teach the church regarding – what? Not regarding the living, but those dead. He is answering the question (verse 35), "How are the dead raised up, and with what [kind of] body do they come" [forth] in the resurrection. We must keep this in memory to get the force of the Apostle's argument.
He shows that there are varieties of earthly nature – men, fish, fowl, beasts, etc., and also variety in the heavens, sun, moon and stars; and he adds these two illustrations of variety and differences, to his first illustration of grain. As the dying and living again of the grain best illustrated THE FACT of the dead coming forth to life, so the varieties and differences of fish, fowl, etc., and of sun, moon and stars illustrate the DIFFERENCES which should be expected in the resurrection. Some (the body or bride of Christ) will be like him and will come forth spirit beings – celestial, while the mass of mankind will come forth human beings – terrestrial. There will be glory to both classes, though differing as the glory and beauty of fish, fowl, etc., differ from the glory of sun and stars in KIND.
And that there will be grades or degrees of glory on each plane, is also shown, even as the moon is beautiful but less majestic than the sun, so some of those who come forth spiritual will, though glorious and perfect, be less grand than others; and on the earthly plane there will be variety in perfection and glory also.
After stating thus the general principles, the Apostle proceeds to explain particularly "THE" chief resurrection, in which as prospective members of the body of Christ, the Corinthian Church and all saints would have special interest. And keeping in mind the original question, "How are the DEAD raised up and with what body do they come" forth, he applies his answer now to the class DEAD in Christ – dead "members" of Christ's body, and says: –
"So also is THE [chief] resurrection OF THE DEAD." [Remember that he is not talking about the living as some have erroneously supposed, but of those who were already dead.] "It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural [animal] body, it is raised a spiritual body." – Verses 42-44.
What is sown thus and raised thus? The being – the individuality sown in death thus, is raised from it thus. The Apostle is holding to his original illustration. The germ of life in the grain of wheat which will produce the new stalk, is not the entire grain planted, for all decays and dies except this germ. So with the being entering death, or sown in death. Being cannot be considered apart from a body, and hence being is reckoned as still associated with the body which is sown in the corruption of death. It is not the corrupted body but the being, which God will raise up in a new appropriate body, even as in the grain, it is not the old grain but the germ or vitality from it which comes forth in a new grain.
But says some one a grain of wheat has a germ which lives while the grain decomposes, which germ may be seen in some seeds; but man has no such germ. No, we answer; the germ of life in man and in grain differs, and so does also the process of resurrection; man does not sprout forth as a shoot of grain, nor does the Apostle use the illustration for such purpose. Nevertheless man has a germ of being, though unlike the grain, it is not in himself, but in another. The germ of life through which man shall be restored to being [whether of earthly or heavenly nature] is "hid with Christ in God." (Col. 3:3.) It is in God, in the sense that it is decreed in God's plan and possible through God's power. It is with Christ in the sense that God's plan is being accomplished through Christ who ransomed and justifies all. It is thus that "all live unto him." (Luke 20:38.)
God seeing the end from the beginning thus considers things and men that are not, as though they were. (Rom. 4:17.) Thus death is really extinction, but because of God's plan to ransom and restore all from it through Christ Jesus, he gave his "friends" in all ages to know that Adamic death is merely a sleep, in view of the resurrection waking he had abundantly provided for in his plan; which before the foundation of the world foresaw and provided the Lamb slain, to take away the sins of the world by paying the penalty of Adamic sin for all.
The Greek word psuche is translated soul in some places, and sometimes life in the various translations. For instance, it is translated life in John 12:25, "He that loveth his life shall lose it" and it is translated soul in Acts 2:27 "Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell," [hades – the state of death, or the grave].
This word psuche has rather puzzled scholars for a definition, and the learned translators of the common revision of the New Testament, have translated it four different ways, viz.: heart, mind, life, soul; the last two generally. Prof. Young author of Young's Concordance, defines psuche and the corresponding Hebrew word nephesh to mean "animal soul," thus limiting the word to earthly existence; but we cannot agree to this definition, nor to any definition which would limit these words to earthly existence exclusively, for the word is applied to God who is not an animal or earthly being, but a spirit being. Hence in defining these words we have sought such a definition as could be applied to these words in every instance of their use in the Bible, and that definition we conceive to be being, or existence, without regard to whether heavenly or earthly, animal or spiritual being is meant.
Being, or existence, is not life though there could be no existence without life; neither is it body or organism, though there can be no existence without a body. Heat is an illustration of this principle; coal is not heat, nor is oxygen heat; but when coal and oxygen are properly and favorably united heat is produced; when they are separated heat ceases. So it is with being; when life principle and organism are properly favorably united, being or existence is produced; when they are separated existence or being ceases.
Those who recognize being, as the correct definition of psuche will see that the existence, the being, terminated by Adamic death, may be restored or resurrected either as it was, or in connection with any form or organism God may choose. In resurrecting it God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him – to every kind of seed his own appropriate body.
The original seed was human, "of the earth earthy," and "very good," an image of God in clay. But during the Christian Age under the "high calling," the "heavenly calling" to "become partakers of the divine nature," a little flock has already changed nature and become "new creatures" – new beings. In the resurrection, therefore, God will give to these two classes bodies according to their nature. The human seed will be restored to perfect manhood; and the new seed, the "new beings," will be raised in appropriate bodies – "as it hath pleased him" to give to each seed his own appropriate form or organism. It doth appear to a great degree what form, etc., the earthly race will have, though it is difficult to appreciate the grandeur of the perfect man Adam now. As was the earthy head, so will they be also that are earthy, when fully resurrected.
On the contrary, the change for the others, we cannot so fully grasp; for "It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but...we shall be like him" – Christ Jesus, the head of the new creation. As the heavenly one, such shall they also be that are of the heavenly seed, or new nature. We have borne the earthly image, but by reason of "change" shall bear the heavenly image in our resurrection. See 1 Cor. 15:38,48,49.
"I lay down my life [psuche] that I might take [literally, receive] it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power [privilege, authority] to lay it down, and I have power [privilege] to take [receive] it again. This commandment [word, precept] have I received of my Father." – John 10:17,18.
Here Jesus declares that he laid down his "psuche," or being, for the sheep, and received it back again in his resurrection. When he laid down his being, "poured out his soul [being] unto death," (Isa. 53:12) made "his soul [being] an offering for sin" (Isa. 53:10), it was a human soul, or human being; he having changed from a spirit being to a human being, for the purpose of thus laying down his being (psuche) in death for our sins, as our ransom price.* But when, after his being had been fully laid down in death for three days, he was made alive from the dead, being or existence returned, it was no longer human being; he was made a life-giving spirit – a being psuche of a higher order, of the divine nature.
To use the words nephesh and psuche otherwise, to suppose that they merely refer to present earthly existence, would be not only to prove that God is an earthly or animal being, but that Jesus, after his resurrection, was of the earth earthy, whereas the statement is clear that "God is a spirit," and that the "second Adam was made a quickening spirit."
The Greek word for life is not psuche, but zoe; and so it is uniformly translated throughout the New Testament; and it was a serious mistake on the part of the translators of the Bible to ever render psuche life, as in the text above. In consequence of the translation, some have supposed that our Lord Jesus took back the price he paid as our ransom. This could never be; for if the price paid were taken back, we are not redeemed, and have no ground for hope of coming blessings.
But when the real significance of psuche is noticed, how clear it all becomes. The man Christ Jesus laid down his psuche – being, existence, as a ransom for ours – for all. That existence he can never take again – he can never again be a human being. He surrendered all those earthly and human rights as a ransom for mankind, and thereby secures to mankind all those blessings and rights lost by their first representative's failure. Then being, existence, [psuche] was bestowed upon Jesus as a gift of God's favor, a reward of obedience; and while it could not be the same order of being, it could be a higher one. And so it was; and thus it is written, "Wherefore [as a reward, because of obedience even unto death – verse 8.] God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name," – next to the Father; of the divine nature; "that all men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father also." – Phil. 2:9,10.
The Lord applies this principle to us, as well as to himself. Of those who covenant to be dead with him that they may also live with him and share his divine nature and glory, he declares, "He that loveth [supremely] his life [psuche – being] in this world shall keep it unto life [zoe] eternal." – John 12:25,26.
Those who would be the followers of, and sharers with, Jesus, must during this world willingly lay down existence, in his service. Thus only can these preserve their [psuche] existence unto eternal [zoe] life. But with them as with him, it will not be the same kind of existence, for whereas they lay down being or existence as human beings, they, like their head, shall receive it [psuche, existence] again as new creatures; "partakers of the divine nature." It is of these that Paul said, "It [the being] is sown a natural body, in weakness and corruption and dishonor; it is raised a spiritual body in power, glory, and incorruption. 1 Cor. 15:42-44.
If you could change the nature of a grain of wheat to that of barley, it would come up barley. So these having become (through obedience to the special high calling of this Gospel Age) changed from the human to the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4) will, in the resurrection, come forth like Jesus, "the express image of the Father's person" – psuche of the divine form and nature.
In view of the Apostle's statement of the order of events in the day of the Lord's presence; namely that "The dead in Christ shall rise first, then we which are alive and remain shall be caught away together with them in clouds to a meeting of the Lord in the air," it may be asked, Does not the view presented above, namely, that since 1878 the dead in Christ have been raised spiritual beings, and that since then those who are alive are "changed," each at the moment of his death – does not this view conflict with the apostle's statement?
We answer no; though at first glance it may appear to do so. We should remember that the apostles were not only expounders of the prophetic utterances of holy men of old whom God moved upon by his Spirit to declare things to come in figures and dark sayings, but they were themselves prophets also, and in foretelling events not then due, they also used figures, symbols, and dark sayings, to be understood by the Church when they would become meat in due season. This was true also of Jesus' teaching. He not only expounded the prophets, but he opened his mouth in parables, prophecies and dark sayings. – Matt. 13:34,35; Psa. 78:2; Matt. 24.
Among the prophecies by the apostles clothed in figurative or symbolic language, is that of James 5 relating to the present time, verses 2 and 3 are highly figurative. Peter's prophecy covering the same period is even more strikingly figurative. (2 Pet. 3:7,10,13.) John's prophecy, the book of Revelations, is full of symbols. And in considering the apostle Paul's writings, we should expect that prophetic references to this notable "Day of the Lord" would be more or less symbolic also. Peter assures us that it is so; and that Paul's writings are liable to be misunderstood by some. – See 2 Pet. 3:16.
As a matter of fact in this very portion of Paul's prophecy touching the events of the Day of the Lord (1 Thes. 4:16,17), we find the same symbols used by the others. Paul introduces these symbols but does not interpret them, leaving that for the Spirit of truth to do for those of the Church who may be watching and searching at the due time.
Paul's "shout" and "trumpet" of verse 16 corresponds in every way with those used by John (Rev. 11:15), and the same even in Daniel's prophecy (12:1) is called the standing up of the arch-angel Michael; for the same results are described as following, viz., the angry nations and time of trouble which Peter and Zephaniah and Paul call the melting of the earth [the social fabric] and flaming fire. – Compare 2 Pet. 3:10; Psa. 97:5; Zeph. 3:8; Rev. 11:17; and 2 Thes. 1:8.
Paul's "clouds" (verse 17) in which the living are to be caught away, coincide exactly with the "clouds and thick darkness" of trouble, by which all the prophets so often represent the troubles of this Day of the Lord. And the "air" into which they are caught, and in which they are to ever be with the Lord, we apprehend to be no less a symbol than the others. A symbol of what? – Of power and dominion. And if we are to be "changed" and are to enter into and share this dominion, how appropriate to say in symbol that we will be caught into the "air" power, and be forever in it, with the Lord.
Thus the same word is used elsewhere by the same apostle. In Eph. 2:2, he speaks of the "power of the air," and declares that Satan now holds that "power" which the "air" symbolizes. And when we remember that "sea" in symbol represents the lawless and unruly classes of men, that "earth" represents organized society, and that "mountains" represent earthly governments, what is more reasonable than that the "air" or "heavens" should be used to symbolize the invisible yet all-pervading power and influence of spirit beings.
And if "air" is thus used to represent the present evil spiritual control, how appropriate that the same symbol should be used in describing the new spiritual empire of the Prince of light who becomes the new Prince of the air, and deposes and binds the present usurper.
As to the word "caught away in clouds together"; we should remember that all prophecies looking down to this little period called the "Day of the Lord" and the "Day of Trouble," state the many great events of this time as though they would all take place together; and so they do, for nothing intervenes to break the chain of events; link follows link, and they go all together, clouds of trouble follow one another closely, the one fading away where the next is beginning. Like the cars in a train, they all go together, and yet one is first and another is last. So likewise the living will be caught away in these clouds to the new power of the air, together – just as when a school is dismissed the pupils leave it together, yet they do not all pass through the doorway at once.
Paul explaining the same matter to the church at Corinth (1 Cor. 15:51,52), calls it a mystery – a matter not yet made fully plain and clear of which he could only give them a glimpse. And he declares of the living, "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, AT [Greek en, during, or in] the last trump." Here the symbolic trumpet is again introduced, which covers the period of forty years called The Day of the Lord; and it is during, or in this time, that the dead saints shall be raised and the living members "changed." For the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed. While, therefore, all must be changed, and the change of each will be "in a moment," all will not be raised and changed in the same moment – the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we – continuously, without interruption or anything to prevent, together will be caught with them into the power of the air.
While during the sounding of the Great or Seventh Trumpet, the Day of the Lord, the gathering and rewarding of his faithful followers will be accomplished, other great events will occur simultaneously. The earth is to melt [society is to disintegrate], the sea and waves are to roar [the lawless element will become furious], and mountains will be removed and carried into the midst of the sea – [governments will be swallowed up by the lawless element] – the heavens [present ruling powers] are to pass away with great commotion. These all shall pass away, that the "new heavens," "air," or ruling powers of which Christ is the Prince, may gradually assume control and reorganize society on better principles. All these things will be in progress simultaneously, during the seventh trump – the day of vengeance – the day of binding the strong man and spoiling and overturning his arrangements in order to establish a better. – Matt. 12:29.
Or take another view of the same period given by other prophets: the gathering of the dead and living members of the body of Christ will proceed during the time when the rich men will weep and howl for the miseries upon them (Jas. 5:1-3; Zeph. 1:18); during the time when the nations are angry and the wrath comes upon them (Rev. 11:18, and Dan. 12:1); during the time that the fiery stream of trouble issues forth, and the Son of man is invested with authority and dominion (Dan. 7:10); during the time that the stone is smiting the feet of the image – present earthly governments (Dan. 2:34); during the time that earthly empires become as chaff and are swept away completely (verse 35); during the time mentioned by the Revelator (19:11-21), in which the kings of the earth and their armies will be making war with the Lamb and his army unconsciously – not recognizing him.
When these various events of "that day" are put together, it must be evident to the most slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have written, that during that entire period, not only the Lord will be invisible to men, but that the resurrection of his saints, and the change of those living, will make no outward demonstration. Surely if the world saw Jesus and the saints in glory in the sky, with the natural eyes, can any one suppose that they would openly war with the Lamb and his army? Nay, verily; the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night, and the fact of the Lord's presence, etc., will only be revealed or made known to the world in the "flaming fire" of judgments, though those of his close followers whom he calls "friends" are not to be in darkness as others, for they have a sure word of prophecy to which they take heed.
Though the Church of Christ is a little flock, it is of priceless value. It has been purchased with blood. It is the flock of God, however divided and distracted; and though scattered in the dark and cloudy day, yet it will be gathered together at last by "our Lord Jesus Christ, that Great Shepherd of the sheep."
But even now it is under his care, his supervision, his control, and no grievous wolves can devour those who listen to God and to the word of his grace. No one can pluck even the feeblest lamb in all that flock from the hands of the Heavenly Father. The Great Shepherd cares for his little ones; and as there are flowers that bloom in desert wastes and in lonely valleys, which are seen by no human eye and watered by no human hand, but are as fair and as fragrant as those which share the most costly culture, so the Good Shepherd feeds his own flock in the wilderness, in green pastures, and by the side of still waters, restores, and guides, and comforts, and protects them, even to the end.
"He shall feed his flock like a shepherd," and while he feeds them, how blessed to know that "He that keepeth Israel shall never slumber nor sleep.""The Lord is our shepherd, our guardian and guide,
Whatever we need, he will kindly provide;
To the sheep of his pasture his mercies abound,
His care and protection his flock will surround."
That little English book, "Mister Horn," contains some interesting things, showing how a very plain and simple man looked at the system of weekly giving. One evening he sat with his Bible open before him, at the 16th chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians. His finger passed slowly over the second verse, as he whispered the words to himself: "Now upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him." Then he sat and looked into the fire, turning it over in his mind for some time, as his thoughts slowly shaped themselves into principles of giving. Then he broke the silence with these quaint utterances: "It seems to me there's one thing as plain as can be, for all I am no scholar – a man ought to manage about giving. He is to lay by for it just as he does for his house-rent, and for half a score of things besides, for everything almost except for giving. Very many folks can't give anything upon the spur of the moment; and they think that it is all right if they don't. But it seems to me it is all wrong. They could not pay their rent upon the spur of the moment either; but for all that the landlord expects to get his money. A man is to lay by and arrange for it; whether folks hold with doing on the first day of the week or the last, they are in a bad way who don't do it at all."
This plain man nodded his head with considerable satisfaction, and then resumed his discourse. "Now, the next thing is how much to lay by." (He took up his paper and bit the end of his pencil, as he turned over the question.) "I can make thirty shillings a week (about $7.50), taking one week with another," said he slowly. "Well, suppose I say three shilling a week." (And he figured a large three at the top of the paper. Holding it out at arm's length, he looked at the figure with an air of satisfaction.) "I don't see how it can, anyhow, be less than that, as Mr. Horn says that the Jews gave a tenth, and I'm not going to be behind a Jew. No, no. They don't know anything about what Paul said," and he turned over three or four pages of his Bible and read, "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye, through his poverty, might be rich." "No," said he, "I can't give less than a tenth, and I'm almost thinking that I ought to give more." Wetting his pencil, he went over the large three again, and broke out, "Why religion saved me more than the whole of it. Three shillings! that was not half enough sometimes to pay for the week's beer. And then religion made me sober and steady, and that brought me in three times as much. Besides, what else is there that's so well worth paying for? House rent and doctor's bill should not be mentioned in the same breath with it. And butcher's meat and bread are not such good cheer as I get out of religion. And for a Master like mine – bless His holy name! – how can I ever do enough?" Here his whole soul burst forth in the song: –"See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?"
Nor could he pause there –
"Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all."
He put up his pencil and paper, and exclaimed, "I'll never believe anybody again as long as I live, when they say they can't afford to give. They can afford sixpence a day in beer and tobacco very often; and they can foolishly spend their money in a score of ways. There's only one reason why folks can't afford to give, and that is because they afford so much for everything else. Why, if a man would put by sixpence a week, he'd very likely be able to give six times as much as he does, and he'd be able to do it as the Book says; not grudgingly or of necessity, but as a cheerful giver such as the Lord loves."– Selected.
"Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong." – 1 Cor. 16:13.
A babe could never engage in the active duties of mature manhood. It must first develop far beyond the stage of infancy. A babe is a bud of promise, and in due time it must fulfill its promises, else it will be justly despised and dishonored, and will never enjoy the privileges, the respect, and honor of manhood.
So it is in the spiritual family. A babe in Christ is a child of interest, a bud of wonderful promise, beloved of God and of his maturer children, and tended with special loving care. Think what promises of future glory and grandeur center in a babe in Christ. In time, if he continues to grow in grace, knowledge and love, he will be received into the everlasting kingdom, and will be engaged with Jesus Christ in the great work of restoring all things. You of maturer growth in Christ, neglect not therefore to feed the babes with the sincere milk of the word; but not the strong meat until they are able to bear it. Neither offer to them milk which is not pure; nor afterward, meat which is not meat indeed, expecting them to discriminate between the true and the false before their senses have been sufficiently exercised to discern clearly. We should not expect those who have grown but little beyond the infant stage, to be able to grapple successfully with all the arts and wiles of the adversary. Hence we should always be on the alert to find times and ways and means for helping a weaker or younger brother in Christ, and never by any means place mixtures of error or other stumbling blocks in his way.
The privilege of building one another up in the faith, is not appreciated and improved among the children of God as it should be, many excusing themselves on the ground of inability. But in this none are altogether excusable. As soon as we find the storehouse of truth we should begin in earnest to feed on it that we may grow thereby. And as we grow and develop strength in the use of God's appointed means, we should begin to use what strength we have for the benefit of others; and the result to our spiritual nature will be precisely the same as a similar process would result to our human nature. Exercise gives an appetite for food, and food gives strength for exercise. Thus the human being comes to the full stature of a man, and thus we grow as new creatures.
When God supplies the food so bountifully and invites us to feast at his table, and then clearly indicates the manner in which he would have us use the strength thereby gained, we are not excusable in remaining either babes or children. We should be constantly growing in knowledge, in grace, and in usefulness in the Master's service. Recognizing our privilege and duty in this matter, Paul exhorts us saying, "Quit you like men, be strong."
As to whether we grow up into Christ, or become dwarfs and useless in his service, depends upon ourselves; for God who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light, is able and willing to carry on the good work in us, and he will do it if we follow his leading.
In writing to the Hebrew Christians, the Apostle reprovingly says to them, "We have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat." – Heb. 5:11,12.
Such a condition is a dangerous one, especially in this evil day when the sophistries and snares of the adversary are more subtile than ever before. There are many deep truths of God's plan difficult to express; and impossible to be understood by those who have not a clear understanding of and implicit faith in the foundation principles of the doctrines of Christ.
The first principles of the doctrine – Redemption through the precious blood of Christ, and remission of sins through faith in his blood, is the only solid foundation on which our faith can rest; and until that foundation is firmly settled in our minds, it is impossible to go on unto perfection of knowledge. But if we spend all our time examining the foundation, we will never be able to rear a superstructure upon it. If a man has laid the foundation for his house with care and with proper material, it is not necessary to dig it up and relay it over and over. With full confidence in the foundation, he should go on with his building.
In the science of divine revelation as in other sciences, advanced truths cannot be received until other truths upon which they are based have first been received and understood. Imagine a student making progress in mathematics who never learned the multiplication table, or who has no faith in it, even after he has proved it true. Such a one could never make progress in mathematics; neither could the builder make progress with his building who spends all his time examining the foundation, and who never arrives at sufficient confidence in it, to build upon it. So a babe in Christ who never progresses beyond first principles, or is never settled upon them, can never reach maturity, and moreover he is in great danger of having his faith overthrown; for a babe is unskillful in the word of righteousness, not having his senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Therefore, Paul urges our leaving the elementary principles of the doctrine of Christ – not in the sense of abandoning them, but of allowing them to stand as tried and proved foundation stones – and going on unto perfection, going on to complete the building of our faith, not halting to tear up and lay again the foundation or to try a different one. – Heb. 6:1.
Wherefore let us be no more children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, growing up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ. – Eph. 4:14,15.
The promise of the Lord is sure to all who claim it – "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go; I will counsel thee; mine eye shall be upon thee." But "be ye not as the horse, or as the mule [stubborn], which have no understanding, whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle." (Psa. 32:8,9) God would lead us, not by force or constraint, nor in a blind or superstitious way, but as intelligent reasoning beings, ready to use our reason so far as it will avail, and accepting in faith such statements of his Word as our reason cannot grasp, and refusing all teaching of men contrary to that Word.
It is said that Beethoven when he had completed one of his grand musical compositions, was accustomed to test it on an old harpsichord, lest a more perfect instrument might flatter it or hide its defects. Many are unwilling to put the results of their labors to any such test as this, preferring to be deceived and to deceive others with outward appearances. With reference to human character it may be observed that those traits that most entitle us to the love and esteem of men, and which honor us most in the sight of God, are not always revealed on notable occasions and by extraordinary events, but manifest themselves in the quiet course of every-day life. This is the old harpsichord that tries the character on its real merits. It is one thing to appear in the midst of popular favor and worldly success, and another to carry a noble, generous and magnanimous spirit amid the worries and anxieties and trials that spring up along the path hour by hour and day by day. Ruskin has truly said that "greatness is the aggregation of minuteness." It is the sum of little things well done that constitutes, as a whole, a really useful and noble life. It is not those who wait in idleness for some chance opportunity to distinguish themselves and do the world a great service who are likely to be the benefactors of the race, but rather those who proceed earnestly about their daily duties "doing with their might what their hands find to do." There are but few to whom it is given to discover new continents, to do an act that frees a race from bondage, to utter thoughts that stir the heart of mankind, but it is given to each and to all to pass each day of life so well, so nobly, so truly, so faithfully, so near to God, that all life is lifted up, and all the world made better by such living and doing.– N.Y. Observer.
There are very few who are not at some time brought under the shadow of a false accusation. The natural way to meet it is by denial and self-defense. But that is not the New Testament way. There is a better, surer, higher way. It is to give the false accusation a plain, simple, square denial, and then leave the life and the truth to do the rest. It is not my business to take care of my reputation; it is all I can do to take care of my character. If that is clean and pure and luminous, the light that is in me will shine on and out, and by and by will pierce the clouds and dispel them.
Do not run after accusers; do not trouble yourself about false accusations. Only be sure to make them false; then leave the falsehood to die. Go on with your life work; and accept the position in which false accusation, and consequent scandal and reproach, place you, only as a new opportunity to bear witness to the truth and the life by your own manifest and glorious possession of them.– Lyman Abbott.
"Now is the krisis of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out." – John 12:31.
The Greek word rendered judgment, in this text, is the word krisis from which our English word crisis is derived, and to which the same exact meaning is given, viz., The point of time when any course of action must terminate or take a new course, the decisive moment, the turning point; as the crisis of a disease, when the turning point for life or death is reached. Compare Liddell and Scott's Greek Lexicon and Webster's Dictionary. The word judgment, does not improperly translate the word; for there is a crisis, a sharply defined decisive turning point in every trial or judgment. The crisis, the decisive point of judgment was that to which Jesus referred in the above quotation.
It was just a few days before his crucifixion that he uttered these words, in full view of the terrible experiences which must shortly follow. Not long before this he had raised to life Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary, who were then living in Bethany about two miles from Jerusalem, whither the Jews from all parts assembled to keep the Passover. The sisters had arranged for the entertainment of Jesus and the disciples on this occasion. The wonderful miracle had been noised abroad among the Jews, and as they came up to Jerusalem multitudes made it a point to see Lazarus, and Jesus who had raised him from the dead. And when they had seen, the people were convinced that this must be the Messiah, the king long foretold by the prophets; and upon the spur of their convictions they determined to acknowledge him publicly as their king. And "when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna, Blessed is the king of Israel, that cometh in the name of the Lord." – John 12:12,13.
But while the hearts of his disciples bounded high with glowing anticipations as they saw these evidences of public favor, Jesus was sorrowful, knowing that his hour was come. He knew that the prophecy of Isaiah was about to be fulfilled – that he was about to be wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities; that the chastisement of our peace was about to be upon him; that it would please the Lord to bruise him, to put him to grief, to make his soul an offering for sin, to permit him to pour out his soul unto death, and be numbered with the transgressors. – Isa. 53.
Knowing the bitter disappointment that must soon overtake the hopes of his disciples, Jesus sought to prepare them in a measure to receive it. He talked to them of the necessity of entire consecration to the will of God, even if he should require them to lay down life itself in his cause; and then he assured them that the Father would assuredly honor and reward such service.
As he approached the last dreadful conflict, in full view of it, and with a fixed determination to submit his will fully to the will of God, even unto death, he said: "Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? But [no], for this cause came I unto this hour: Father, glorify thy name." (vs. 27,28.) Yes, he had come to this dread hour for the very purpose of suffering death, that thereby he might redeem the world from the condemnation of death.
It was in reference to this fact that Jesus said, "Now is the crisis of this world." Yet the world was entirely unaware of its critical situation at that moment. The world's salvation was in the balance then. All depended upon the faithfulness of him who was about to redeem them with his own precious blood. No wonder that when in Gethsemane's garden, realizing the awful responsibility upon him, and the agony of bearing it, Jesus sweat great drops of blood; no wonder that weary and faint and longing for human sympathy, he came time and again to his disciples who could not realize the situation, longing for their sympathy and saying, Can ye not watch with me one hour? (Mark 14:34,37.) Little did they realize that at that critical hour their own and the whole world's salvation hung upon the shoulders of their trembling, suffering Lord. Yes, it was the dark hour of the world's crisis.
The world was being judged again, in its second representative, the man Christ Jesus, who then took upon himself the penalty which had fallen upon Adam and the race represented in him, thereby substituting his human being, psuche, for that of the man Adam and those represented in him.
From the moment that Jesus said, "It is finished," and died, the crisis was past. That was the great turning point, the decisive act which legally released man from the bondage of death and secured for him the right to live again. (Rom. 3:25,26.) That was the decisive act which made Christ the rightful Lord of the human race which he thus purchased by his death. (Rom. 14:9.) And in that it gave to Christ the right to rule, it fixed the doom of Satan the usurper. "Now," from that moment it was a settled thing that the present "prince of this world," Satan, who has the power of death and reigns only to deceive, oppress and destroy mankind, shall be cast out. Thus through death Jesus spoiled the principalities and powers of darkness, and openly showed it in his resurrection, thus triumphing over them through death. – Col. 2:14,15. Satan's present sway is only permitted until the time appointed of the Father. His sentence of ejectment was sealed at Calvary.
That the decisive act which determined this change of rulership, and turned the condemnation from the world, was the death of Christ, is clearly seen from the following verses (32,33). "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." "This he said, signifying what death he should die." Jesus had spoken before of his being lifted up, referring to his crucifixion (John 3:14,15 and 8:28), and the people whom he now addressed rightly understood him to refer to his death. But ignoring the prophecies which foretold the death of Christ, they reasoned, If this be the Christ, how can this be; for the Scripture saith, Christ abideth forever. Blinded by prejudice, they overlooked or ignored the prophecies which foretold the sufferings, and saw only the glory that should follow. – 1 Pet. 1:11.
The only reply which Jesus made was to not deceive themselves thus. (Vs. 35,36.)
The world's crisis came and passed, yet the world was totally unaware of it. As in the crisis of a disease, the patient may be entirely unaware of the change which takes place at the critical moment, yet it may be clearly discerned by the skilled physician, so the world was unconscious of the change which the death of Christ secured for all – the privilege of restitution to perfection, to harmony with God, and consequently thorough obedience to everlasting life.
And although nearly two thousand years have elapsed since the crisis was passed, the mass of mankind are still unaware of the good tidings of great joy which shall in due time be to all people. Those however who have been students of the divine Word, know that the time now draws very near when the world shall all see and experience the blessed results which must flow from that decisive act of our Lord at the moment of the world's crisis.
The world has passed through two crises in its two representatives Adam and Jesus, though unaware of both. The decisive instant, the crisis, came in each case which determined certain results to the world. In the first instance the crisis was followed by the "krima" or sentence; sentence came by the one man Adam upon all his race unto condemnation to death. In the second instance also the crisis was followed by "krima" or sentence which came by the one man Christ Jesus, unto justification to life (Rom. 5:17-19) giving all the right to live again because "redeemed," "bought," "purchased by the precious blood of Christ," who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified to all in due time.
While the right to live again which was purchased for all mankind by the death of Christ, is an everlasting right which never can nor will be disputed nor ignored by God, it yet remains for man to individually claim the everlasting continuance of that right, by compliance with the conditions upon which it is offered; for this right, thus purchased at so great a cost may be again forfeited by men. But it can never again be forfeited by a representative, as in the first instance. Each individual redeemed in the second representative crisis, must stand trial for himself, and prove his own claim to an everlasting continuance of life by obedience, or else by disobedience forfeit life for himself – but not for another.
There is then, a coming individual trial or judgment and there will therefore be a crisis, a turning point, a decisive moment and act to each individual, upon which will hinge the issues of the everlasting future for life or death, in his individual case. If he gratefully accepts of life and its privileges and future possibilities as the purchase of the precious blood of Christ, and if he fully and from the heart complies with the conditions of its everlasting continuance, viz., obedience to God, then the crisis is past, and the "krima" or sentence, is in his favor – to life everlasting: otherwise it is against him – to the second death. Nor will the life once redeemed, and then again individually forfeited, ever be redeemed again – "Christ dieth no more;" "there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins." Such ungrateful, willful, deliberate sinners justly merit and shall die the second death.
But while the church with all the world has passed through the first two crises as represented in Adam and Jesus, the church shall not come into judgment with the world – John 5:24. Krisis is here translated condemnation.
The church will be receiving her reward, when the world's individual crisis or judgment is in process. But the church is not exempt from individual judgment; her crisis takes place before the Millennial Age, during the Gospel Age now closing. Each member of the church therefore in the present life is standing on trial for himself, and at some time during the judgment there comes a critical decisive point to each individual of the church – a time which proves to be the crisis of our course, where a standstill is not possible, but where we must go forward either in the right or the wrong direction, either to the fulfilling of our covenant or the ignoring of it.
In fact, every test that is applied to us, places us in a critical situation, so that we need to watch and pray that we may have strength to overcome. And to each there will come a final test, as in our Lord's case. While the world's representative crisis was reached at the time appointed for Jesus to lay down his life in sacrifice, it was also a crisis to him as an individual. As an individual he was being tested, and proved worthy of the glory to be revealed in him.
The final test in our individual cases may not always be at death. If we have been faithful in the preceding tests, or if we have been rightly exercised by the discipline of the Lord, the closing scene of life will be the last test. It is possible, however, for a consecrated one to ignore and despise his covenant and to refuse further compliance with it and to ignore and despise the discipline of the Lord, or to despise the means by which God brought this salvation to men – even the precious blood of Christ. Such reach the crisis and turn it unfavorably before death. But to those who continue faithful and obedient, the final moment of crisis is at death, even as with the Master – "faithful unto death."
With thankfulness for the grace which carried us through the crisis of our redemption through the death of Christ, may each individual of those now on trial, watch and pray that he may successfully pass through the crisis of his own individual trial.
It is probable that at no time since the early centuries of the Church has this subject been lifted into such prominence as during our own generation; so that the remark made some years ago by the eminent German theologian, John Frederick Meyer, is clearly verified. He says: "With the Lord's second advent will begin the real reign of God upon earth. A kingdom of righteousness, holiness and peace....It is called the reign of a thousand years. Modern times have again paid attention to this doctrine of the millennium, thus coinciding with the ancient fathers. It is resounding, as it were, a new call: The Lord cometh!' Among believers, this doctrine, far removed from carnal conceptions, should no more be considered an error."
But the impatient question will be raised, "What practical value has this doctrine? True, it has been very dear to martyrs and confessors in the times of the Church's suffering and trial. But in these days, when the heavens are all ablaze with evangelical light, and all nations are illumined with its brightness, it seems an impertinence for you to begin to trim the wicks and relight the lamps of prophecy." So I thought, as on one cloudless day I was journeying toward the hills which form the western boundary of our State, and a porter came in and began to light the lamps in the car. "What is the need of lamps," I thought, "in such a cloudless and sunlit day as this?" But the next moment there was a shrill alarm from the whistle, and we instantly plunged into the dark and sulphurous darkness of the Hoosac Tunnel. It was clear enough now why the lamps had been lighted. And does not Scripture say something about "a [R853 : page 8] more sure word of prophecy unto which we do well to give heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn and the day-star arise in our hearts"? The dark places may be just before us; – who knows? The black hand of Socialism, armed with the most fatal weapons, and throwing its ominous shadow over almost every civilized nation; – the smoke of the pit ascending up in the form of modern Spiritualism – ten millions of adherents gathered within less than fifty years – making such an outbreak of demoniacal agency as the world has not seen since the days just preceding the flood, – even thoughtful men of the world are beginning to be afraid at these tokens, and to question what they portend. But they who have lighted the lamp of prophecy think that they read the meaning of these things by its clear shining; and they surmise that this may be the reason why they have been called to light their candles at midday. God never makes half a providence, any more than man makes half a pair of shears. If he moves some in the Church to see clearly, and assert strongly a seemingly unpractical doctrine, it may be because he intends to match that doctrine to a certain exigency of error yet to arise.
"Fossil sunlight" is what Herschel named anthracite coal. The vast stores of sunlight poured out upon the globe during the old geological ages were consolidated and packed away in the bowels of the earth because this busy nineteenth century, with its myriads of railways and ocean steamers and manufactories, would need it. And have you thought how large a proportion of the Old Testament is prediction? And is it, therefore, of no use to the practical working Church of to-day? Nay. This vast profusion of prophetic light falling upon the minds of Isaiah and Ezekiel and Jeremiah and David, and the minor prophets, and treasured up in their inspired pages, may soon be needed. And they who are delving in these mines of eschatology, instead of being engaged in an aimless and profitless toil, may be providing the Church with the needed warmth for that predicted time when "iniquity shall abound, and the love of many wax cold," and light for the day foretold by the watchman of Idumea, "The morning cometh, and also the night."
And now we come to ask the question whether there is any faulty tendency in our current eschatology which this powerful reassertion of the primitive doctrine of our Lord's second coming is likely to correct? Here I speak with the utmost caution and with the sincerest deference to the views of others. But I am strongly persuaded that such a tendency does exist.
By a ghastly anachronism, death has been substituted for the coming of Christ in the common teaching; and thus a false centre has been set up in our eschatology, by which the doctrines pertaining to the last things have been thrown into eccentric relation. Ask the question, "When does sanctification end?" and the common answer is, "At death." Ask the question, "When do the rewards of the righteous accrue?" and still the answer generally comes, from evangelical theology, "At death." Ask the question, "When does the resurrection take place?" and the answer comes from Liberals and New Departurists, and from a considerable company of the orthodox, "At death." Thus death has been erected into such importance as to constitute the terminus ad quem of the life which now is, and the terminus a quo of that which is to come. Joseph Cook in his valiant defence of orthodoxy is thundering out the question, "Does death end all?" and often piling up such post-mortem conclusions as to compel us in defence of the Scriptures to ask, "Does death begin all?" To us it seems incontestably clear that the Bible makes the Advent, and not the grave, the supreme goal of the Church's hope. And lest you should accuse me of speaking presumptuously, I wish you would search the Bible for yourselves, and note how constantly the soul's progress towards perfection is inspired and bounded by that one divine event, the coming of our Lord. You can collate scores of texts to this effect, all finding a fitting climax and summary in that grand utterance of Paul as it stands in the Revised Version: "And may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." The same may be said of the divine rewards; the promise of them is almost without exception timed by this great event.– A. J. Gordon.
J. G. Townsend, well known as a former talented Methodist minister, recently severed his connection with the M.E. Church, and has since been preaching to an Independent Congregation at Jamestown, N.Y. In one of his sermons he gave the following picture of hell: –
"Suppose a tube, so long that it would take a drop of water a million years to get to the bottom of it. Pass all the water in Chautauqua lake, drop by drop through that tube, and that would be a computable period. By and by the water would all pass through the tube. Pour all the waters of the Atlantic ocean and the Pacific ocean, drop by drop through that tube, and eternity would only have begun. Turn the great suns yonder into oceans of water and put them all through the tube, a drop in a million years, and yet the eternal punishment would only have begun. Do you think the Heavenly Father would put that punishment on any of his children for the sins of this transient life? It is atrocious to think of it. I believe that this doctrine of eternal hell is a lie against man – is a lie against God, and sooner than preach it, I would let my tongue rot in my mouth. I deny that the Bible teaches it. Suppose you were to take out of the Bible the word damnation, the word hell, the word everlasting as applied to punishment; would you not think that it would mitigate the idea of punishment, soften it, ameliorate it? Certainly it would. Now I want to state upon the authority of eminent scholars, and upon my own authority, after a careful examination of the words of the original, that not one of these words, neither damnation, nor hell, nor everlasting, has any right whatever within the lids of the Bible. All of them are imported words, mistranslations. They have no critical, or just, or moral right to remain in the Bible."
We can agree in part with the above statement of facts, and fully with the speaker's spirit. Those who claim that God will everlastingly torture his children for the sin of Adam with their own sins of a few short years, full of trouble and weakness inherited and encountered from the moment of birth, are often possessed of more tender affection than their theology would seem to indicate. In a word, they though fallen and imperfect, are nobler, more just and more loving, than their narrow theological views permit them to think the God of love and justice to be.
They excuse this and attempt to give it the appearance of justice, by saying that a sin committed against an infinite being is an infinite sin, and therefore in justice must receive an infinite (unlimited) punishment. While it is true that in judging of the enormity of sin the standpoint of God and of perfect manhood should be recognized, and not our standpoint as fallen and depraved beings, yet to make the penalty depend upon the infinity of God is so manifestly unjust, that naught but dire necessity to give an appearance of justice to their theological dogma can have invented such a theory. On the contrary, the degree of heinousness of a sin depends upon the state and capacity of the transgressor. If an infinite being were to commit sin, it might be termed an "infinite sin," but for a finite being to sin could only be a finite sin.
The full penalty of sin is death – destruction – extinction; and if each individual of the world were to be individually tried under this penalty, each would of necessity have to be perfect, possessing full ability and under favorable circumstances to resist sin. But such opportunity none but Adam has yet enjoyed, all being tried representatively in him, and thus condemned to the full penalty righteously, though they had no individual trial. For it cannot be gainsaid that the Creator had a perfect right, if he had so chosen, to have withheld his power and not created us at all, or having created us, he could righteously have blotted us out of existence even if obedient, had he not graciously purposed and promised life everlasting upon condition of obedience.
And now while he has exhibited to us all, and to angels as well, his thorough and relentless determination that sin shall not be permitted, and that its wages is death, he exhibits also his love by providing in Jesus a ransom price for all; arranging that through this Saviour all shall ultimately be released from Adamic sin (and all sins growing out of the fallen disposition inherited, and the evil surroundings incident to and resulting from Adam's fall and from the penalty of sin,) in order that in an appointed season the whole world should be judged or tried again by the Christ of God (1 Cor. 6:2; Matt. 19:28); not again representatively but individually.
This trial as yet has reached and developed only two small elect classes – the overcomers of this age and those preceding – tried beforehand in the midst of evil surroundings for special purposes and positions. But ultimately each individual of the race will have as full and fair an opportunity as had their representative Adam in the first trial, and in addition to this will have the benefit of present experience in sin and its penalty. Thus each shall decide his own case by his own conduct. Those obedient shall live forever; those who will not conform to God's will are condemned as unworthy of life and shall be cut off from it – shall die for their own disobedience, as before they were under death for Adam's disobedience. Hence it is called the second death. It will be everlasting. No ransom will be given for it and there will be no resurrection from it. Justice, Mercy and Love unite with one will, in this everlasting penalty for wilful sin. It is here, that we agree only in part with the above statement of brother Townsend.
The Greek language seems to lack a word corresponding exactly to our word everlasting. The Greek word aionios translated "everlasting" signifies literally unlimited, i.e., a period upon which no limit is expressed. Hence when it is used with reference to the disposition of the sheep and goats of Matt. 25:46 it is evidently not improper to translate it everlasting as applying to the penalty as well as the reward; everlasting or unlimited death to one class, and everlasting or unlimited life to the other. The words everlasting and eternal in this verse are from the same Greek word aionion. The reward to obedience is life, and of sin the punishment is not torture, nor life in any condition, but death, (Rom. 6:23); and this verse (46) declares that the results of the trial described and illustrated in this parable, are not transient, but lasting – unlimited.
The word damnation as generally understood to mean endless woe, is, we agree with brother T., totally without a Scripture basis. Its strongest significance is condemnation or rejection. Jesus applies the same word krima in John 9:39, where it is translated "judgment." "For judgment am I come into the world;" yet that he did not there use the word in its usual signification is clear from his other statement that he came not to condemn [krino sentence] the world, but that the world through him might be saved. – John 3:17.
Again, we agree with brother T. that the word hell (with the meaning at present attached to the word) is an improper translation of either sheol, hades or gehenna and it is unauthorized by the meaning or use of these words. The first two simply refer to the condition or state of death, as the penalty of Adam's sin, which would have been everlasting had God not mercifully provided "a ransom for all," in Christ our Lord, by reason of which it may be considered merely a long sleep.
Gehenna (the name of a valley outside of Jerusalem where fires were kept burning to destroy the offal of the city, and never used as a place of torture,) is used in Scripture to represent in a symbolic manner the utter and hopeless destruction (not torment) of the second death, from which there is no hope of recovery.