No. 151 Robinson St., Allegheny, Pa.
C. T. RUSSELL, EDITOR.
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.
TERMS: – FIFTY CENTS A YEAR, POSTAGE FREE. Including special number (Millennial Dawn, Vol. I., paper bound) seventy five cents. Remit by draft, P.O. Money Order, or Registered Letter, payable to C. T. RUSSELL.
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.
IF ANY who desire the TOWER do not receive it regularly, it is probably the fault of their Post-Master, or their own fault. We gave repeated notice that all who want the TOWER and were unable to pay up arrearages, or to renew their subscription, could have it the same as ever, by sending a card stating the facts and requesting its continuance. Others were dropped as we had warned them and are themselves alone to blame. We shall be glad however to learn from time to time of those who hunger and thirst after truth, and shall be glad to re-enter them on our lists.
While many brethren and sisters are taking hold of the work and pushing DAWN, VOL. I., grandly, none should get the impression that the field is so full of reapers and that their service is not needed. Our Father has so arranged the work, now as in every time, that there not only is need for every member of the "body" to be active in the service, for his own development, but also that there shall be a real need for the labor and sacrifice of each consecrated priest. – 1 Pet. 2:9.
As a matter of fact, if five thousand of our readers could and would use their time entirely in the work, it would require quite a long time to thoroughly introduce DAWN to God's children in every town and city of this land. The present number of laborers, with all their zeal, would not exhaust the field in ten years. One city like New York, Philadelphia, or Brooklyn, would furnish busy work for ten canvassers for nearly a year, and other large cities proportionately. God leaves us without this excuse. We cannot say, that we saw no necessity for our labor, and knew of no way to render it. It will then be simply a matter of whether we loved his truth and our fellows so as to be willing, nay, glad to accept his offer of being his ambassadors, and to leave some of the nets of business ambition and the boats of present worldly custom. We do not mean to say that all can or ought to engage in this crusade – some cannot – ought not, and must do what they can otherwise: but surely many more have this opportunity than have yet improved it.
Neither do we urge any to leave sure situations for an untried work, especially if they have dependent families: such can get "a day off" and take a sample and make a trial to see how many orders they can get, following closely as possible the instructions in "View" of May TOWER. Others, out of employment, can surely find in this the grandest opening, and may afterward thank God that absence of other work forced them into the ministry (service) of God and his church.
We scarcely realize the great revolution of thought now in progress on every subject, on every hand and among all classes. Everything is apparently tending toward unwholesome liberalism and reckless freedom of thought and action. Many whose fears are aroused quiet them by supposing that the present must be only the ordinary course, that it has always been so; or as Peter (2 Pet. 3:4) expressed their sentiments prophetically, they say, "All things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." Only those taking heed to the sure word of prophecy are aware that these things are caused by the parousia of the Son of Man, and are evidences that we are in the "harvest," or end of this age. Others do not realize that every age has its close or "harvest." They remember not that the ark and the flood were the end of a former epoch, and that present and approaching events are as much out of the usual rut of this epoch, as the closing events of that "world" were out of the usual order of that time.
Only those enlightened by the "lamp" of truth, God's Word, can really see the great revolution now in progress and appreciate its immediate and its future results. It is perhaps a blessing for those who cannot see the future grand outworkings of the impending trouble, that they cannot yet see the immediate terrible confusion which the present revolution of thought is rapidly leading to. We can therefore scarcely estimate the amount of good we are doing to the worldly in bringing to their attention the great Millennial reign and times of restitution of all things, which the impending time of trouble serves to introduce, and for which it prepares the way, by leveling classes and overthrowing monopolistic systems, secular and religious, built upon evil principles, errors, in whole or in part. Even if the truth is not now received by all whose attention is called to it, it will be remembered and afterward give comfort, help and light in a dark hour to many who now oppose it.
The more of liberty and truth any system contains, the sooner and the sharper will be the conflict between that truth and liberty and the errors and superstitions held in conjunction. The conflict may at times seem to leave error the victor, but in the end it shall fall. Meantime the conflict serves to judge or test the people, and by causing them to take sides, it accomplishes a sifting and separating work, preparing some for more and some for less stripes and plagues in this day when every evil and wrong shall be uprooted and consumed, root and branch. "The fire of that day shall try every man's work, of what sort it is," is a statement which will prove true of all the world, as well as especially of all in the church. None among us, for instance, need try to be neutral on the great question which is testing us now – the Ransom. You must come to it, and be for or against it sooner or later. [R949 : page 1] We well know that as they get awake the vast majority will forsake this, the foundation of the gospel of Christ, for it is written – "a thousand shall fall at thy side and ten thousand at thy right hand." It has not yet reached this condition, but it is rapidly approaching it, as all must see who keep watch of the so-called liberal utterances of "leading ministers."
Those who discard the long-cherished dogma of the eternal torture of those who die out of Christ, generally do so under the false impression that the Bible teaches the doctrine; hence in rejecting it, they are also rejecting the Bible which they suppose teaches it. Thus they are cutting loose from all anchorage, to be driven about by the changing winds of their own vain imaginings, unguided by the divine chart and compass, whose marks under false instructions they misunderstood, and which now they have ceased to respect and use. Thus they fall an easy prey to the shifting lights of science, falsely so-called, rejecting the ransom and the entire plan of God as revealed, and land on the barren shores of skepticism, saying, If there is a God, I believe he is too loving to punish his creatures, or to require an atonement for sin, a ransom for the sinner. In their effort to be more charitable than God, they not only promise that all shall be everlastingly saved and that the second death is to be a blessing, but apologize for the first death, promising full amends for that injustice which they claim has been done to man. Professing themselves to be wise, they have become so foolish as to charge the great Creator with injustice. But these, with other errors, shall not proceed much further, for the folly of their argument shall be manifested to all in the great time of trouble just before us. It will then be manifested fully that God is not so loving as to be unjust, or to in anywise clear the guilty; for every man shall receive a just recompense of reward for his deeds – though eternal torment is not that just recompense.
Another class – who, as they begin to think, will see that either the doctrine of a ransom, a corresponding price for all, is an error, or else that eternal torment is not the penalty for sin, (because Christ did not suffer eternal torment for us) – will find their attachment to the tradition of eternal torment so strong, and their knowledge of the ransom so slight, that they will speedily reject the ransom and hold to eternal torment, when they find them in conflict. Undoubtedly the statement that a thousand to one will stumble and fall over this truth, is what we should expect. How important, then, is our present work to the real children of God in all branches of the nominal church, showing them the fact, the value, and the grand results, of the ransom – how it is in harmony with the just penalty pronounced against sin – death – and the grand exhibition, in one act, of God's justice and love; how that one act maintained his justice and the dignity and unchangeableness of his law, while at the same time it provided the way for mercy to the condemned. For as many as you can really cause to see the ransom for all, in its true light, and the restitution based upon it, you do an incalculable service, in preparing and helping them to stand and not fall in the day of trial now beginning. It is our confidence that all those who are real servants of God, Israelites indeed, will be "sealed in their foreheads" (Rev. 7:3), i.e., they will obtain an intellectual comprehension of this truth, sufficient to sustain them before the conflict becomes general.
This being our expectation, we are less surprised than some of you at the wide circulation which MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I., is having. It has a mission not only to seek and separate the saints, but also to fortify those who fear God's name, small and great; and it may serve to counsel and prepare many of the poor Godless world. As a sharp threshing instrument of the Lord in the hands of his faithful children, it is already showing large results.
As an illustration of the workings of error in its effort to combat unfolding truths, we give here some utterances of a prominent "orthodox" minister of this city – Rev. W. R. Mackey – regarding a future probation for the heathen. He claimed there could be no possible object in giving the heathen a future probation, because, he asserts, they have all had a knowledge of Christ, – even those who [R949 : page 2] lived and died long before Jesus came into the world, had, he claims, a saving knowledge of Christ. In explanation of this seemingly insane statement, he said, as reported in the Pittsburgh Times: –
"The real Christ (that is the incarnation of God's character,) has been in the heart of every man in every time and land who has loved truth and helped his fellow men. Every heathen who has so lived, goes to heaven, because he belongs to heaven and can't go anywhere else. He has not known Christ as he came in Galilee, but he has known and loved the real Christ, though he never heard his human name."
This serves to illustrate the fact that men professedly the servants of Christ and the truth, are so prejudiced against the Bible and its teaching of "a ransom for all, to be testified in due time" (1 Tim. 2:6), and so prejudiced in favor of their own theories, that when the two come in conflict, they do not hesitate to make a cipher of the man Christ Jesus and his work of redemption, in order to support their own ideas. No one would think it worth while to ask this man, who represents one of the leading denominations, whether he believes that men were redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. We all know that his answer, to fit his theory expressed above, would be, No, the blood of the historic Christ was nothing; it is contrary to advanced thought to suppose that the actual death of the historic Christ did any good, except as an extreme example which none should follow, but which all should admire.
We fancy that we hear him continue (much in the strain of one of our Exchanges), to explain away the teaching of Jesus and the apostles relative to the value of the precious blood wherewith our Lord bought us, made reconciliation for iniquity and passed over our sins, bearing their penalty on our behalf, – saying, The blood of Christ which is of any value is the blood or life of the Christ principle: the vital principle of righteousness is the cleansing power which makes us acceptable with God – if there is a God other than the God principle of Good.
Alas! Where do men land when they throw overboard the God-given compass and attempt to steer by their own wisdom? And ten-fold is the responsibility of such a one who presumes to be a teacher of others, leading astray the sheep from the true shepherd whom he claims to represent. By and by some now following their teaching, will awake to the fact that the shepherds whom they liberally paid, led them away from the fold.
The unreasonableness and unscripturalness of this minister's teachings, it is needless to point out to our readers; for all who have learned of the fact and philosophy of the ransom, and of the atonement of which it was the basis, can see clearly that it was not the Christ principle, but "the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all," and that it is this fact that is "to be testified in due time" to all, and not a "Christ principle" born in the heart of every man.
How nonsensical is this last claim, how opposed to the Bible teaching, and to every experience and observation of thinking people, to talk about the Christ principle being in men in every time, and to argue therefrom that all have such an innate knowledge of Christ as to be a sufficient ground for deciding their everlasting future! Does not the experience and observation of every sane man prove, that the Bible is correct in the statement that, There is none righteous, no not one, and that all are born in sin and shapen in iniquity, because of inherited weaknesses and imperfections started and caused by Adam's disobedience when on trial as our representative?
Had the apostle Paul interviewed this gentleman, he would probably have talked to him much as he wrote to the Romans (10:14), "How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? How shall they hear without a preacher?" No wonder people are coming to believe that a curse and blindness attends the laying on of the "holy" (?) hands of the Apostolic succession" (?), rather than any special blessing or ability to discern and teach the truth. As a further illustration of this teacher's ability as an expounder of the Word of God, we note the fact that this is the same gentleman who a year before drew upon him the encomiums of the liberalist press for his skillful manipulation of the miracles of the Bible, showing that there was little or nothing miraculous about them. Especially did he attack and to his own satisfaction overturn the story of Balaam's speaking ass, declaring that the jaw bone of an ass is so formed that it is impossible that it could have spoken. Poor man, he probably knew not that the Scriptures are so interwoven that it is not so easy to get rid of even so small a miracle. He should remember that our Lord (Rev. 2:14) and Jude (11) refer to Balaam's mission at that time; and that Peter (2 Pet. 2:15,16), referring to the same, adds, "The dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbade the madness of the prophet."
But let no one mistake our object in calling attention to such teachings: We accord to this gentleman or Mr. Ingersol the same rights, to think and teach as they please, that under the laws of this land we claim and exercise ourselves. We are merely using this as one illustration among many, of the tendency of our day. We note, too, the fact that though the Episcopal Church covers with the mantle of her approval this teacher and his unscriptural doctrines, she would be arrayed against any who would present the Bible doctrine of ransom and restitution, as her church papers have denounced DAWN. What a commentary, too, upon the membership of the church over which this gentleman presides as teacher, that they [R950 : page 2] are so ignorant of the Bible that they did not know, or so indifferent and asleep that they did not notice and protest against such "another gospel." What wonder if we question whether there be any "men" in Christ, in that and similar congregations? Probably there are some "babes in Christ" among them, who for the time spent ought to be teachers, but have need of milk, have need to be yet taught the first principles of the gospel of Christ. But alas! how poor their chance of getting even one drop of "the sincere milk of the word that they may grow thereby" to become able to use strong meat in due time, while such a man, devoid of even the first principles of the doctrine of Christ, is their teacher and shepherd.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I enclose $1.00 for four paper covered DAWNS. Will you please send me also a few copies of the WATCH TOWER. I thank God for the TOWER and especially the March number. I am so thankful for your explanation of the "no ransom theory." I have been taking the World's Hope nearly a year, and I know that it claims that the Second Death brings life and salvation to all. I am so glad now to be fully armed on this subject by the article "As the Serpent Beguiled Eve," in March TOWER.
The Emphatic Diaglott and cloth bound DAWN came promptly. May the Lord bless the work which I shall try to do. Oh! how I wish I might be one who would be consumed with the zeal of the Lord's house. Yours in the Work and Love of the Master.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – As my TOWER did not come yet this month, I did not dare to wait for fear of missing it altogether, and that I should not like. I do not want to miss one number as long as I live. I am fifty-three years old, and I have learned more about the Bible and God's plan of salvation in the last three years, through the TOWER, than I did in all the fifty years before, though born, cradled, reared and educated in the Methodist church by a father who was a Methodist minister and whom I have many times assisted in his labor of love. How strange, how wondrous strange, this marvelous work of God's! We are lost in wonder, and have to accept the prophecy, that in the time of the end knowledge shall be increased, as the explanation. O how grand, how glorious, how full of hope is that increasing knowledge: how it proclaims with the sound of the trumpet, "God is love."
Yours waiting for The resurrection,
BRO. ADAMSON writes: – I am having grand experiences every day. It seems impossible to get through New Castle. Yesterday took 46 names and left in afternoon train for home. In no other town have I got in so many books to the square, and I have excellent talks. Some careful thinkers are investigating, and awakened sleepers by the dozen. Of course there are bitter opposers, but as far as noted people are willing to investigate for themselves, and I have fruit already and expect much fruit. You may increase the order to here to 300 copies.
Since April 15th (the time I began this canvass) I have sold fifteen hundred copies of MILL. DAWN, and the greater part are delivered; and counting at same rate I shall easily sell 500 more – or 2,000 in all, by July 15th – 3 months' work.
DAWNS on hand, April 15th, . . . 70 " taken from Allegheny, Pa. . 80 " ordered to Greenville, " . 300 " " " Sharon, " . 200 " " " New Castle, " . 300 " " " Youngstown, O. . 500 Total: – 1,450 Please ship now, To Youngstown, O., 250 " Warren, O. . . 300 Total: – 2,000
This is selling at the rate of 8,000 a year, but I think I will increase my sales after the cool weather sets in. I think I can see where I can improve my sales. But if I see I am to fall short of the number I expected to sell this year ending April 15, 1888, which is 10,000 copies, I shall hire the delivery part done by other parties. So you may depend on me for the sale of the 10,000 DAWNS in a year.
The "Lord of the Harvest" is greatly blessing DAWN, which greatly strengthens me, since my only desire is to be a co-worker with God in his way. My Father worketh hitherto (to this glorious end) and (now) I work (to this end).
In Christian love and kind remembrance, joined by Mrs. A., ever in Him.
MY DEAR FRIEND: – The DAWN was duly received. I have read it once and have begun it the second time. Before I tell you, what I think of the book, I would like to make a little confession. I had heard of the same views last winter, but could not believe it, and if you had mentioned the name of the book, I never would have sent for it; and if I had not promised I would not have read it anyhow; for in my ignorance I thought, if the Bible did not teach eternal torment for the wicked, it did not teach eternal happiness for the righteous. And so I read it carefully with my Bible to examine the references, praying if it was a work approved of God I might receive it, if not, that I reject it. And as I read, God showed me that it was the truth, and I could have cried for joy. I could not part with it. How I thank you, my dear friend. But for you I might never have seen it, or read it if I had. May God bless you in your effort to spread the glorious truth. I will do what I can with my one volume. At first I thought I could read it, but that I would never tell such doctrine as that to others, but praise the Lord it is a joy to tell it.
As to your teaching I cannot express myself now, for I am all torn up. I have quit preaching. My friends know not the cause. I cannot preach. I sometimes regret that I ever gave your teaching any notice. But some how I devour the contents of "Z.W.T." as soon as it comes, and now that I will have some leisure, I will review the DAWN. One thing I must say here: If the spirit of the Editor of the DAWN and Z.W.T. is not of Christ, then I know not the spirit of my Master.
Please let me have a few April TOWERS to loan to friends whom I think will study them. With an earnest desire for the truth of the Gospel of Christ in its beauty and simplicity, I remain your student and friend,
[We know your difficulty, dear Brother, and fully sympathize and so does our Master. It is indeed a severe trial, to come out boldly and acknowledge former errors and advocate the truth in the face of so much organized opposition as we find to day. The meekness of a little child is indeed requisite and the Lord brings the test just to this point as at His first advent. Others are not fit for the Kingdom. The trial falls most severely upon those who by reason of education, and time, and study are best able also to receive the truth; and this is but reasonable also. Surely the truth is sweet as honey to every saint who tastes, and the after bitter experiences as a test, were foretold, and should be expected from the first. (See Rev. 10:8-11.)
DEAR SISTER IN CHRIST: – I have not been able to do much work for the Master, as my mother has been very feeble and needed all my attention. But my heart's desire to do has not diminished in the least. And I do know that God is blessing me more and more with a more perfect knowledge of the Scriptures, and with it a desire to tell it to others, which I do, wherever I can get "an ear to hear." I find that prejudice is a great hindrance to the reception of the truth, I think that if I am ever so situated as to get away from my own town, I could with the blessing of God, do better.
My desire is, to see M. DAWN, in the hands of every thinking Christian, and not only them but every thinking person. For it is destined to work a great revolution; in the establishing of truth and the demolishing of error. My dear mother to all appearance cannot survive many months, and my work must be mostly to care for her now, but if I discharge that duty faithfully, our Father will give me something else to do. I try to keep the DAWNS preaching where I can find a hearer. I have a promise from the M.E. Minister that he will read it when he has sufficient leisure and I pray that God will open his eyes to see the beauty and harmony of his plan of salvation.
Yours in Christ.
The storm has broken, and the heavy blast
That stifled morn's free breath, and shook its dew,
Is dying into sunshine; and the last
Dull cloud has vanished from yon arch of blue.
I know it is but for a day; the war
Must soon be waged again 'twixt earth and heaven;
Another tempest will arise to mar
The tranquil beauty of the fragrant even.
And yet I joy as storm on storm awakes; –
Not that I love the uproar or the gloom;
But in each tempest over earth that breaks,
I count one fewer outburst yet to come.
No groan Creation heaves is heaved in vain,
Nor e'er shall be repeated; it is done,
Once heaved it never shall be heaved again;
Earth's pangs and throes are lessening one by one.
So falls the stroke of sorrow, and so springs
Strange joy and comfort from the very grief,
Even to the weariest sufferer; so brings
Each heavy burden its own sweet relief.
One cross the less remains for me to bear;
Already borne is that of yesterday;
That of to-day shall no to-morrow share;
To-morrow's with itself shall pass away.
That which is added to the troubled past
Is taken from the future, whose sad store
Grows less and less each day, till soon the last
Dull wave of woe shall break upon our shore.
The storm that yesterday ploughed up the sea,
Is buried now beneath its level blue;
One storm the fewer now remains for me,
Ere sky and earth are made forever new.– Bonar.
In all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God – to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." – Heb. 2:17.
The present time is meant by the Apostle when he speaks of the "Evil day" in which it will be difficult to stand. When he says, Take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand, it implies a defensive rather than an aggressive fight – a necessity for defending the faith once delivered unto the saints, from assailants. This is the case now, and the attack upon the truth is daily becoming more pronounced. The fact that errors have long been so mixed with truths in the minds of men, affords the enemy a grand opportunity for assailing the truth, now that the time for the fall of error has come. The armor must be put on before the attack comes; for during the attack we will be kept so busily engaged meeting and parrying the cuts and thrusts of error that we will have little time for the adjusting or polishing of the armor. The attack is already commencing, and the unarmed are beginning to fall; and surely in the end none of that great host will be able to stand – "A thousand shall fall at thy side." But while the necessity of a defence hinders the progress of the armed, yet every blow and every thrust will but prove the strength of their armor, and give the greater confidence in it.
Such an attack is now being made on the advance picket line, in the claim that our Lord Jesus was a sinner like the rest of mankind. The above text is cited in proof of this, and the argument deduced is like this: Our Lord was made like unto his brethren in order that he might be a faithful High Priest, able to sympathize with tempted, fallen men, because made like them a sinner. If not a sinner how could he sympathize with sinners? they confidently ask. Their theory that our Lord did not come to ransom the world, needs in some way to show some reason for our Lord's first advent, and hence their claim that it was merely and only to be an example to men that he then came. And if it was needful for our Lord to come down to manhood in order to furnish an example to sinners, the same logic would demand the admission that he must have been a sinner in order to be able fully to sympathize with them, or to be really the example as they claim.
This is a very delusive and ensnaring argument to all who are not firmly grounded on the rock foundation, to all who do not see the necessity for a ransom. Those who have seen clearly the ransom doctrine taught in the Bible, know that a ransom (1 Tim. 2:6) means a corresponding price, and such see that our Lord became a man in order to give this ransom for Adam and all represented in his trial and fall. Such see at once that in order to be a ransom for the perfect Adam, who sinned, our Lord must be a perfect, spotless, sinless, undefiled, holy man; for nothing else would be a corresponding price. And God, foreknowing the character of the present attack, has been arming us upon this very subject for years. See articles: "Perfecting the New Nature," March, '83; "Himself took our Infirmities," January, '84; "The Undefiled One," September, '85. But some have not put on the armor and are now liable to fall under such attacks as the one we now mention.
But let us help these opposers to a further logical conclusion, by suggesting, that if their theory be correct, if it be true that our Lord's mission was to gain a practical experience with sin in himself, in order to be able to SYMPATHIZE with sinners, and to be able to ILLUSTRATE how they should each put away his own sin, then the logical conclusion must be, that he tasted of every kind of sin, in order to be able to sympathize with and succor every sinner. If their theory be correct, there is no escape from such a conclusion, and some of the more candid promptly acknowledge it and quote in support of it the statement, "He was tempted in all points like as we are."
But what does such a theory and such an interpretation of Scripture imply? It implies a contradiction and setting aside of all those other scriptures which teach that our Lord was pure, holy, undefiled, in mind and body. Let us see that this is so. Imagine the besotted drunkard, so weak as to be unable to resist even the smell of liquor, or frenzied by it to recklessness and crime; imagine the opium user enslaved to his habit; imagine the miser worshipping his money and ready to sell life, health, and every comfort for money; imagine the spendthrift with his inglorious failing; imagine the proud and haughty in their contemptible weakness; imagine the libertine and prostitute whose every thought becomes inflamed with impurity so as to continually beset them with temptations; imagine all these vices and degradations and temptations and then reflect, that if the theory we are opposing be true, that our Lord came to be tempted in all points to the extent that all sinners are tempted in order to fully sympathize with each, and to be an example to each how to put away his sin, then our Lord must have had as unholy, ungodly, unmanly, impure, degrading thoughts and feelings as we have above described. And furthermore, as a pure fountain cannot send forth impure waters and a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, it would follow that to have such thoughts and feelings our Lord must have had a very depraved mental and physical organism. And our Lord then must have been not only as low and degraded in mind, body, thought and feeling as any man, as any sinner, but must have been the worst and most degraded of all, possessing all the bad qualities and weaknesses of all men of his own and every day, before and since. Sodomites and Antediluvians were filthy sinners, but [R952 : page 3] our Lord, according to this theory which we are opposing, was as bad as the worst of them, and as bad in addition as the worst of other sinners in other ages and in other crimes – the vilest of the vile.
How absurd and blasphemous this error thus carried to its logical conclusions. For be it noted carefully, that if it be admitted that it was not needful for our Lord to go into the depths of sin to be able to sympathize and set an example, then it must be admitted that it was not needful that he should be a sinner at all, nor have a single imperfection, which is just what we claim and the Scriptures everywhere teach.
But if our opponents should grant this, their no ransom theory would fall, for they would be forced to admit that our Lord being a perfect man corresponded with the first perfect man (Adam) who sinned; and they would also be forced to admit that when the uncondemned perfect man Christ Jesus died, he gave the very price or penalty that was against Adam – exactly a ransom or corresponding price. Thus our opponents would be forced to admit that the ransom and no other work (no example) was accomplished for the world.
We do not stop to consider all the reasons why divine favors were extended to the Jew first, before his Gentile brother: we will only consider one reason, and that to draw some conclusions therefrom. One of the main reasons for preaching the gospel of the high calling to the Jew first, was, that they as a people were already justified from sin and consecrated to God typically. Typically they were in embryo the holy nation, the royal priesthood (Exod. 19:6), through whom as his kingdom God had promised blessings upon the world. They were therefore better prepared to accept of the realities of which they already possessed the types or shadows, than would be the Gentiles, who even typically were without God and without any knowledge of his plan, or hope of sharing in it.
While typical justification, and consecration based upon it, would not serve the purpose of the true, it was but a short step for the Jew, who realized himself justified and harmonized with God yearly, by an atonement made with the blood of bulls and goats, to accept of the better sacrifices of which those were but types, and to realize a lasting atonement not requiring yearly repetition. And if he, trusting in the typical atonement for his sin, had come into harmony with God and consecrated himself, he would not need to re-consecrate when accepting of Christ: having already consecrated to God under Moses the typical Leader and Commander of the people, the Jew needed merely to accept of Christ Jesus as the true prophet, priest and king promised. (Acts 3:22.) The same consecration would serve – the better foundation of real justification being substituted under it, instead of typical justification.
It was for this reason that Peter made a difference with the Jews in speaking of baptism. He did not tell them to be baptized as a symbol of consecration, as Paul, the apostle to the uncircumcision, tells the Gentiles (Rom. 6:2-4), because as a people they were already consecrated to God, and the whole trouble was that they had been and were still neglecting their consecration – sinning against the covenant they had made. Hence Peter said to them, "Repent [of having violated your covenant, repent of having rejected and crucified the real King and Mediator sent of God of whom Moses was only a type – turn back to covenant relations with God, accept of Christ Jesus, his son, the true Mediator who by the sacrifice of himself, the antitype of the bulls and goats sacrificed by Moses, has sealed and ratified the "new covenant" promised by the prophets, and is now, highly exalted by God, ready and willing to fulfill all the promises] and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ...for the remission of sins."
The entire nation consecrated to God's will, departed from its covenant so far, that when God sent the long looked for Messiah and true Mediator, all but a few were blinded by their sinful pride, so that they saw not in him the clear fulfillment of the prophetic record. Instead of receiving him, and crowning him, and obeying him, the consecrated nation rejected and crucified him; fulfilling the prophecies ignorantly. And of all this sin, says Peter, you as a nation are guilty and we urge you to repent. And with many other words did he exhort them saying: "Save yourselves from this untoward generation," by faith in Christ, repenting for your sin in once rejecting and crucifying him, and show your repentance and faith by being immersed in his name. This will testify to your faith in Christ as the real Messiah, the real King whom God has sent to rule and bless you, and your entire submission to his rule, his will; and at the same time it will signify before God and men your repentance of once rejecting him, and your return to all the original covenants and blessings – For the promises are still open to you; you may yet become the joint-heirs of the kingdom, though our nation has been cut off from those promises as a nation: "For the promise [the 'high calling' etc.] is unto you and your children" [as well as to others afar off, not yet called], you are already in covenant relationship, therefore have every advantage, if you will realize it fully and return to it, believing in Christ Jesus, in whom all God's promises are to be fulfilled. You are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers.... "Unto you first [therefore] God having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning every one of you from his iniquities" – back to his covenant relationship, which now is established on a better basis, sealed by "the blood of the covenant" – everlasting. – Acts 2:38,39; 3:25,26.
Gentiles on the contrary had never been in covenant relations with God, and had no such sin of covenant-breaking to repent of, or symbolically wash away, and when after believing in Christ and coming into fellowship with him through faith in the ransom, they learned of the high calling or covenant, it then was proper for them to make a covenant of obedience to God and his Anointed Son, and to symbolize it by baptism, signifying the burial of their wills and their complete submission to God, in Christ, as taught by the apostle Paul in Rom. 6:2-4. It is for this reason that baptism never signified repentance to a Gentile, but did to the Jew. Baptism in water is the symbol of entire consecration, and Gentiles never having been consecrated, could not repent of having broken a covenant with God, and thus re-consecrate. But to as many Jews as had violated the covenant, it would imply a regret for that violation and a return to the original covenant. Our Lord though a Jew was not a covenant breaker, but as he was to take the place of the covenant breakers and suffer as a covenant breaker, it became him to [R952 : page 4] show his own consecration to God individually, hence his immersion.
The point however which we wish to have particularly noticed is that first stated: that the Jew already consecrated to obedience and service to God, needed merely to repent of his transgression of that covenant and accept of Christ, the true, as instead of Moses, the typical Leader and Head, in order to make his covenant valid. And thus his immersion signified this repentance or re-consecration.
To some extent the same principle is seen to apply to the children of believing parents during the Gospel age. From earliest infancy such may come to God in prayer as fully reconciled through the death of Christ, even before they are able to comprehend the redemption through his blood for the remission of sins. Such are born in a justified, reconciled or forgiven state, as relates to God, and hence as they come to years of judgment, may ratify their parents' consecration and give themselves to God's service without becoming "converted" (turned), unless they have first turned from God, and from their early state of reconciliation. This is the significance of the Apostle's statement in 1 Cor. 7:14 – "Else were your children unclean [sinners, unacceptable with God], but now are they holy" [justified, reconciled, acceptable with God]. This will account to some for their not having experienced the special change or conversion that some do. Those born in this justified state, being the children of justified parents, and from earliest recollection endeavoring to live in harmony with God, never needed to be converted – turned from their course. Their course was a right one, and to be converted or turned from that, would be a turning from God.
But another point is now due in this connection, and is therefore seen clearly: We have seen the Lord's arrangement – that with the close of the Gospel age the call of the justified to joint-heirship with Christ in the divine nature ceases. The call to consecration and its propriety does not cease, but the offer of the great prize as a reward ceases, that class being about complete – enough having already consecrated to fill the elect number of the body of Christ, as prearranged in God's plan before the foundation of the world.
We have seen too, that the calling ceases before all the consecrated ones are tested and proved worthy, and that the Lord warns these to take heed, lest others take their crowns (Rev. 3:11), showing that the number of crowns are limited, and [R953 : page 4] that there is danger that some of these who are written in heaven, as (probationary) crown-wearers, may come short and their names be blotted out. The question then arises, If the number is fixed and the members of that "body" can be neither more nor less, and if no more are "called" from among the justified ones, and if all those called and consecrated, should they all so run as to obtain the prize, would make just the correct number – where would God find any to take the places of any who in the present trial should prove themselves unworthy of a crown? It will not do to say that God could make the truth clearer to some of the indifferent runners among the consecrated, so as to stimulate them to run effectually, for his arrangements already make the truth as clear and stimulating, as the runner is sincere and faithful to his consecration. And to do more would be to measurably force them. It is not a question as to whether God can force us, but as to whether his "call" will so stimulate us, as to lead us to force and crucify ourselves. God is seeking those who love to do his will, and who delight in it, and not to see whom he could force; for he could force all. The prize is a favor, which none will be forced to accept. So then the question stands – Who would take our crowns, if we should prove unfaithful, seeing there are not too many to fill the elect number, and no more are to be called?
We answer: God could fill the deficiency from among the Jews without violating any law or principle, and without forcing any will, in any degree. Suppose that an earnest Jew, desirous of doing God's will, had consecrated during the acceptable time – what barrier would there have been to his being received? We answer, one barrier only – his consecration was all right, but it had not a good foundation. It was BASED on a typical justification, made by typical sacrifices, instead of on the real justification accomplished by the sacrifice of Christ. If, then, the blindness of such, relative to Christ Jesus, were removed and their consecration moved from the typical to the real justification – from the sandy foundation to the rock – the same consecration would still hold good: it, if sincerely made, to God was always good, but unacceptable with God, because not made acceptable by an acceptance of Christ's death as the satisfaction for sins.
So, then, if a Jew should accept of the real Lamb of God, as instead of the typical, his consecration would stand firm and date back to its beginning, notwithstanding its originally unsafe foundation; and if made in season – during the "call" – an acceptance of Christ would bring him fully into every favor enjoyed by Gentiles. And thus, as Paul declares, the broken-off branches may be grafted in again. (Read carefully Rom. 11:17-23.)
Here, then, is a reserve from which the Lord may select crown-wearers to take the places of such as prove unworthy among those already "written," whose names must be blotted out. But here again, none can be selected, but those consecrated before the end of the call.
Some may object, that the Jews are so blinded that it would require a special and almost miraculous interposition of divine providence to bring such to see Christ as their Redeemer, and that if we object to forcing Gentiles as being contrary to God's method, we must also object to the forcing of the Jews. We answer, that there is a wide difference between the two: The one would be forcing a man who has seen and consecrated, to fulfill his vows, while the other would be, forcing a man who has consecrated himself and is earnestly living up to his consecration, to see the real basis upon which his consecration should stand. The latter is no violation of the man's will, nor of God's law and arrangement in the matter. Paul, for instance, was consecrated and very zealous for God, but he was blind to the true foundation of consecrated service – redemption through the blood of Christ. God could and did miraculously open his eyes to this truth, because of his honesty in consecration. But had Paul ignored or despised his consecration, God would not have miraculously stimulated it, but as Paul himself declares, would have permitted him to take his course and become "a castaway;" for if he would not be influenced and inspired by the exceeding great and precious promises, he was unfit to be a member of the select, anointed body – all of whom must be overcomers.
Another point needs notice in this connection, lest any should be discouraged who are called and faithfully running in this race, for this grand prize. It is this: If you are able to see this prize (with the eye of faith) and able to endure the reproaches of Christ and his truth and social and financial losses for the same, gladly, then, you may recognize yourself as having the spirit of the priesthood, and you thus have good evidence both of your consecration and acceptance. Your zeal and sacrifice prove your consecration, while the fact that you can see the "deep things of God" and prize them above all else, is sure evidence of your being priests in the "holy," enlightened by the light of the golden candlestick and strengthened by the holy shew-bread of deep spiritual truth. Such, as called ones, should go on faithfully to the end of the course, that their names be not blotted out, and that no man shall be given their crown. Thus make your calling and election sure; work out your own salvation to this high calling with fear and trembling, letting God by his truth work in you, both to will and to do his good pleasure.
Many doubtless were consecrated long before they are now inclined to think, because they never saw until recently the fulness it implied. Our consecration dates from the moment we first sought to please God and do his will. We appreciate it more now, because of the morning light now shining upon our way. Remember too, that some of God's consecrated children, in their honest search for truth, got away among the swine, and would fain have eaten of the husks of Infidelity to their full, but could not, and finally by this route, because they were honest children of God, they were brought to see the truth they sought ignorantly in other channels. Remember that Paul, the persecutor for a time, was even then a consecrated child of God. It was because he was consecrated and earnest that he got the light. This was proved by the fact that as soon as he received the light he walked in it with the same zeal and consecration. In his case the light did not make him a child of God, but being a child of God was the reason for giving him the light, that thereby he might walk more perfectly; and so it is with us all.
"The new Testament, which was translated into Hebrew by the late Rev. Isaac Salkinson, missionary among the Jews of Vienna, of the British Jews' Society in London, has been reprinted here in a second edition of 110,000 copies. Of this number 100,000 have been bought by the subscription of one generous Scotch donor, who requested that they might be distributed gratis among Hebrew-reading Jews all over the Continent. Two missionaries lately came from England to make a distribution from Vienna, and they have been sending copies to about 2300 Rabbis, many of whom have undertaken to circulate these Scriptures among their co-religionists. Very few have stated that they had any objection to read the New Testament.
"In connection with this movement it may be mentioned that one of the most learned and respected of Hungarian Rabbis, Dr. J. Lichtenstein, who has been 35 years Rabbi of Tapio-Szele, has lately startled his co-religionists by two pamphlets in which he affirms the divinity of Christ. The pamphlets being very ably written, have been noticed by all the leading newspapers, and have raised much controversy, for Dr. Lichtenstein professes to remain obedient to the Mosaic dispensation while recognizing that Christ was the Messiah."– Telegram to London Times.
Some who are not fully aware of the perfect organization of the Church of Christ, seem to think that there is not, neither can be, any such thing as discipline in it. They see its members scattered all over the world, many of them standing alone, and some in little companies, often numbering only two or three, and meeting from house to house. They see no record of membership, hear no talk of church building, church debts, collections, etc., and see no salaried and titled ministry. Their ideas of church discipline are drawn from what they see in the various sects of the nominal church, where they occasionally see some of the saints judged by the standard of human creeds and cast out, but very rarely one of the "disorderly."
The organization and discipline of the church of Christ is, however, most perfect. Its invisible Lord is fully recognized, as its only and infallible Head; His Word is authority for the settlement of every question; his plan of work is studied and acted upon by the various members; his spirit is fostered and cultivated in the hearts of all; and his disciplinary punishments are applied when necessary.
It is not our purpose at present to enter into the details of the organization and effectual working of the true church; this we have done before. (TOWER of Sept. '84.) We now merely call attention to the discipline of the church – what is the appointed method of dealing with offenders, etc. That the church has important duties in the direction of discipline is clearly indicated by many expressions of the Lord and the Apostles.
Discipline includes not only the dealing with offenders, but it includes the entire process of education by instruction, exercise, correction and punishment; and in cases where these methods fail and meet with defiant opposition from those who still claim to be members of the church, and associate themselves with it, it includes the cutting off of such members from the church.
All discipline in the church is properly under the direction of the Head of the church only, and the object of such discipline is stated to be – "that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:26,27). No member of the church has any authority in matters of discipline except in carrying out the directions of the Head, though each member has a duty in so doing. The talents of each must be used for the benefit of all as far as possible. Not only are our talents to be used in widely proclaiming the blessed gospel, but they are to be used for the upbuilding, protection, and perfecting, of those who accept it and by consecration have become members of the church, the body of Christ.
This important work requires carefulness both in our judgment of each other and in our study of the Word of God. But there is much misunderstanding with reference to the church's duty in the matter [R954 : page 4] of judging, from a failure to understand clearly the teaching of the Scriptures on the subject.
Jesus said, "Judge not, that ye be not judged." (Matt. 7:1.) And Paul said, "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?" – 1 Cor. 6:2.
A superficial glance at these two expressions might lead some to suppose that the Apostle was not in harmony with the Lord's teaching here. But when rightly understood, there is no lack of harmony. [R954 : page 5] Our Lord addressed those who had not yet received the spirit of adoption, for the spirit had not yet been given (John 7:39); while Paul addressed the church – consecrated believers, who had received the spirit, who had heard and accepted the call to be partakers of the divine nature and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ as rulers and judges of both angels and men.
While the class thus addressed were not at all perfect, as his reproof to them indicates, they were able, by reason of their understanding of the mind of God expressed in his Word, to judge righteous judgment and to act upon it. As imperfect men, our judgment is generally warped and biased by prejudice and false ideas of justice, etc., but as "new creatures," we are able to judge from God's standpoint if we let the mind of God dwell in us richly, if we freely imbibe his spirit through his Word.
In the extreme case of immoral conduct referred to by Paul (1 Cor. 5:1), he was reproving the Corinthian church for not judging such a one unworthy to be counted one of their number. With their understanding of the general principles of God's plan they should have needed no such instructions from him, but should have acted promptly on their convictions. And the fact that they did not do so, gave evidence of a cool indifference to the will of God which needed reproof.
Imperfect human judgment might greatly err in dealing with such a case. Some would say that the crime was so glaring and so base that the offender had justly merited eternal torment, while others would say, Well, he has some good traits of character yet; he is kind, or benevolent, or gives largely of his means to support the church, and the good must balance the evil. But those acquainted with the principles of God's government know that eternal torment has no place in God's plan, and also that the sin committed was not the sin unto death, but that it was by no means excusable; nor could it be considered as balanced by other good qualities. They know also that such a one, though he may have made a full and entire consecration of himself to God, has shamefully violated his covenant and brought reproach upon the cause of Christ, which must be resented by every loyal member of the church, that he may feel their righteous indignation and his own degradation. And not until there is evidence of sincere repentance should such a one ever again receive the hand of fellowship.
To thus judge and deal in such a case, is to deliver such a one over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 5:5). When thus cast off by the saints as unworthy and unfit for their society, and entirely deprived of their fellowship, the adversary to whose temptations he gave way, will buffet him yet more; the blows of adversity will come heavy in some shape or form; and God's object in permitting it will be his reformation. How painful is such a measure of discipline; yet had such measures been pursued the church would not have been overrun with tares as it has been, and great Babylon, with her millions of professors merely, would not have come into existence.
The necessity of judging in such matters will thus be seen to be most necessary to the purity and growth of the church, and to the honor of her name as the virgin of Christ. In difficulties or disputes between brethren, the church should find in its own members some at least who could point out the course of justice as viewed from God's standpoint. If in the future they are to be the judges of angels and men, they should at present be able to judge in such small matters without appealing to civil courts to settle their disputes. For brother to go to law with brother would not indicate that either has much of the spirit of Christ, or much love for the cause they represent. If they had real love for the cause, they would prefer, as Paul says (1 Cor. 6:7), to suffer injustice rather than bring upon it this reproach.
But some of the saints seem to misinterpret Paul here and think they are forbidden to go to law with a worldly person at whose hands they have suffered injustice. This is quite a different matter and in a case of real injustice brings no reproach upon the cause. The church has nothing to do with such a case, because the man of the world is not at the present time accountable to the church. Paul more than once appealed to the law for justice and protection from his enemies. – Acts 16:37; 22:25-28; 23:17; 25:10-13; 26:32.
In the church there are also the necessary duties of reproof, exhortation, encouragement, and teaching, and the various members must judge when each is necessary and perform them in the spirit of the Lord and Head of the church, who directs and guides the church through the ministry of its faithful members, imbued with his spirit and instructed through his Word. And every member of the church should be ready at all times to receive as well as to give assistance, in the spirit of meekness, whether it be in the way of reproof, exhortation, or teaching, recognizing the Lord's object in all discipline, whether painful or otherwise, to be to present to himself a glorious church without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.
There is another feature of church discipline in which also the Head of the church acts through the agency of its faithful and loyal members. Our Lord foretold that in the end of the age, the time of harvest, certain of those in the church would secretly become its most subtle enemies, and thereby not only bring reproach upon the church and dishonor to her Lord, but spread a snare for the unwary feet of some of the saints. The matter is referred to in the parable of Matt. 22:1-13. When the King came in to inspect those called to the wedding, he saw one there not having on a wedding garment. As in the illustration wedding robes were provided for all the guests by the host, the fact of one appearing without the robe provided, showed great disrespect to the host. It indicated that though the robe was given him he preferred his own clothing and considered it better than that provided.
The illustration is a striking one. Its location just prior to the marriage, points to the exact time in which we are living, the harvest of the Gospel age, just preceding the marriage of the Lamb, the exaltation of the church as the Bride of Christ. The robe of Christ's righteousness, purchased for all by his precious blood, is the wedding garment. And to appear in this church company without this robe, is to appear in the filthy rags of our own righteousness and to do despite unto the spirit of grace in despising the robe provided by the Lord by his ransom. And to so appear in his own garments is a practical invitation for others to do likewise.
Such an insult to our Lord, the King, should be promptly resented by every loyal member of the body of Christ, and those members who are strong and able should promptly follow the King's directions – "Bind him hand and foot and cast him into outer darkness."
Such is part of the painful duty of the present hour. Some who once walked with us in the light of truth, clothed in the righteousness of Christ imputed to them "through faith in his blood," have since taken off that robe and appeared in their own filthy rags, boldly inviting others to do likewise. While it is the duty of the stronger members of the body of Christ to protect the weaker, in every way possible against these baneful influences, it is their duty to bind the offenders and cast them out – in other words, to disfellowship them – to show up their true standing, and thus bind them hand and foot by putting others on their guard, thus restraining their influence upon the church. Sooner or later they will either put on the robe or withdraw from the light which reveals the filthy rags of their own righteousness.
Thus the church must maintain her integrity and loyalty – "The King said to his servants, Bind him hand and foot and cast him into outer darkness." The darkness is that in which the whole world is enveloped with reference to God's plan. Light is sown for the righteous, and only the righteous may enjoy it. Though these once had the light, it is for them no longer; and such as sympathize with them and do not firmly reprove their course are in danger of being drawn by their influence into outer darkness with them. Take heed that ye, brethren, be not deceived or ensnared, or hindered in the race for the prize of our high calling. Watch and pray, and be firmly established in the truth; be fully imbued with its spirit, that you may be counted worthy to be of that glorious church without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.
"Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do, in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily, I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth."
"And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues, and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily, they have their reward. But when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."
"Moreover when ye fast, be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance; for they disfigure their faces that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily, they have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face, that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly."
With what tender care every weakness of our fallen nature is pointed out in the Scriptures, that they may be guarded against, and not become occasions of stumbling to those endeavoring to walk the narrow way. When we realize that the Christian life is a life of sacrifice, and decide upon that as our course, a temptation is ready for us at the very outstart. It requires no little determination to come to that decision, and to solemnly covenant with God to faithfully sacrifice all our human will, interests, hopes, and aims, henceforth to be led only by his will. With the firm decision to thus follow in the Master's footprints, comes the blessed consciousness of the divine approval – a joy which the world cannot give, neither can it take away, except with our consent, or through subsequent unfaithfulness in the performance of our covenant.
Having fully decided upon this course, and having begun to offer ourselves as sacrifices, our Lord warns us to take heed, lest while we continue to sacrifice, or to do any good work, we get to looking for human, instead of the divine approval. How unconsciously and almost imperceptibly we fall into this snare, if not taking heed. And therefore, just at the door of this temptation, we are cautioned to set a guard. If you have just done a good work, do not go and tell your neighbor about it. Do it with as little ostentation and display as the circumstances of the case will admit of, without any if possible. If you do good deeds for the approval of men, you will very soon get to doing only such deeds as are likely to bring their approval. And if you study to meet their approval, verily you will get your reward. But what a mean reward it is in comparison to the Lord's approval. The subtilty of this temptation lies in the fact that those drawn into it imagine that while they seek and obtain the praise of men, they also merit and obtain the favor of God.
But this is only a delusion. He who searcheth the heart, reads our motives, and judges and rewards us accordingly. If we do good, benevolent deeds to court the approval of men; if we prefer to make long and devout prayers in public, rather than to commune with God in secret, and to search his word to know his will; if we make a show of our fasting that we may appear unto men to fast, then we may be sure that we have no reward of our Father which is in heaven. If done skillfully for men's approval, we will likely get the approval of some men, at least; but such need not expect any reward from God. They get the reward they seek, as our Lord said. God is not blind to our motives, and will not credit and reward us for services not done unto him.
Fasting, under the Jewish dispensation, was a symbol of self-denial and sacrificing under the Christian dispensation. It was a common thing among those who desired a reputation among men for special sanctity, to fast often and to make as much capital out of it as possible by advertising their fasting, disfiguring their faces, that they might appear to men to be very self-denying and very devout.
Against such a spirit the Lord cautions us. If you would present yourself, your time, your means, your efforts and all your talents as a sacrifice, see that you are presenting them to God and not to men. Do not go about with a sad countenance, telling every one as you have opportunity that you are carrying a very heavy cross, that it is almost crushing you, that you cannot stand it much longer. Do not tell them that you are starved and pinched on every side, and ground down by the iron heel of oppression; that the Lord's service is a hard service and his yoke a very heavy yoke. That is not presenting your sacrifice unto the Lord. That is representing a sacrifice before men to gain their sympathy and perhaps their pity. And such a course will bring its reward. Some will say, It's a pity of the poor things; they have a miserable time of it; they must serve a hard master, but they are fools for doing it. Why don't they act sensibly, quit fasting (sacrificing) and take all the comfort and pleasure they can get out of life. There is nothing to be gained as we can see by living in such a way. And very soon their kindly sympathy finds expression in efforts to dissuade you from the course of sacrifice, and in temptations to walk with them in their way. And the probabilities are very strong that such a one will ere long turn back, or at least turn aside from the narrow way. Looking back at the things behind prepares the [R955 : page 6] way for turning back, and makes the onward progress in the narrow way more and more difficult, and finally impossible. "No man, having put his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." – Luke 9:62.
How carefully, then, should we heed the Lord's counsel – When thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face, that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which seeth in secret. Bear the cross cheerfully, with a hearty good will; rejoice in the privilege of being counted worthy to share in the blessed work of proclaiming the glorious gospel of the blessed God at any sacrifice – at the sacrifice of time and money which might be otherwise employed in selfish gratification; at the sacrifice of reputation, ease, comfort, convenience, friends, health, and finally of life itself.
To such a one the yoke actually becomes easy and the burden light, just as our Lord promised that it should be, saying: "Come unto, me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me [how to bear it], for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls: For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matt. 11:28-30.) Because he was meek and lowly in heart, Jesus could ignore his own will, cease to do it, and take upon him the yoke of the Father's will, and even though it led him to Gethsemane and Calvary, he could say, I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart. It is my meat and drink to do thy will. My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
The more we get of that meek and lowly spirit which treats our own will as dead, and labors with singleness of purpose to accomplish the divine will, desiring and seeking only the divine approbation, the more swiftly we will run the race for the prize of our high calling. Let us take heed then that we do not barter away the heavenly approval and crown and glory, for the mean rewards of this present life.
"How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?" – John 5:44.
The question is so frequently asked by those just coming to a knowledge of the truth – Why is it that the ministers of the various churches do not see these things? The following clipped from the Pittsburgh Commercial, affords so pointed an answer to the question that we insert it here: –
The First Presbyterian Church, Allegheny, was the scene last evening of some very interesting exercises, the occasion being the installation of Rev. Richard D. Wilson into the Chair of Hebrew, Chaldee and Old Testament History at the Western Theological Seminary. Prof. Wilson is a young man, being but 28 years old, and is a student of the Seminary, being the fourth occupant of a professor's chair in that institution who has risen from the ranks of the classes. The salary attached to the professorship is $3,000 per year.
The meeting was presided over by Rev. William Hill, D.D., of Indiana, Pa., President of the Western Theological Seminary. Dr. Hill stated the object of the meeting, after which he called upon Prof. Wilson to come forward, while the Trustees of the Seminary rose to their feet. President Hill read the formula of acceptance, which consists of subscribing to the confession of faith and system of discipline of the Presbyterian Church, and promising not to teach or inculcate anything opposed to the doctrines of the Church. At the conclusion of the [R956 : page 6] reading Prof. Wilson subscribed his name to the above pledge upon the official records of the Seminary.
Dr. Oscar A. Hills, of Wooster, O., delivered the charge to the newly-inaugurated Professor, in which he said: – "You now belong to a picked company of men selected from among six thousand students. You should feel this a great honor, although at first you will feel a great responsibility resting upon you as being selected as a teacher of teachers."
Prof. Wilson then delivered his inaugural address, which treated mainly of the necessity for a thorough study of Hebrew by Presbyterian ministers. He held that a thorough knowledge of the language in which the Scriptures were originally written was necessary for a true comprehension of disputed passages upon which many doctrinal points hinge.
The above will serve to illustrate why they do not see, and to show the manner in which the yokes of bondage are so securely fastened about the necks of those who constitute the "clergy" of the nominal church; and especially of those in positions of special prominence.
First, Everything is done in a manner to cultivate the spirit of pride, and to impress upon the people the idea of the superior learning, dignity, and sanctity of the clergy. For instance, the young gentleman referred to is pointed to the fact that he is the specially chosen one out of a company of six thousand, in a manner to indicate that of the six thousand he is manifestly the superior, the star; and then he is told that he should feel such honor, in other words, that his pride should be puffed up by such a comparison, and by the fact that he had been chosen as a teacher of teachers. An easy, honorable position is then furnished, together with a comfortable salary, and quite naturally such are disposed to let well enough alone, and take no thought for the future, especially if such thought would tend to unsettle present satisfactory conditions.
How different is this from the manner in which the apostles and teachers in the early church were counseled. They were forewarned of the crosses and persecutions they must surely encounter if faithful to their ministry, urged to be faithful unto death, to endure hardness as good soldiers, and to expect nothing else in this life; to make full proof of their ministry, and to look for the reward only at the end of the race – "the reward which cometh from God only."
Under the influence of present favor and flattering prospects, how readily the gentleman signed away his liberty and submitted himself to the yoke of bondage: – "The young gentleman was called upon to come forward, while the Trustees of the Seminary rose to their feet. The President then read the formula of acceptance which consists of subscribing to the confession of faith and system of discipline of the Presbyterian church, and promising not to teach or inculcate anything OPPOSED TO THE DOCTRINES OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH." To this pledge he subscribed his name.
And what does that mean? It means that whatever of truth or error the Presbyterian church holds, he is bound by this covenant with them to believe and teach, or to teach it whether he can believe it or not. It means either that the Presbyterian creed expresses the whole of divine truth and nothing but the truth, or else that he must ignore all Bible truth not contained in that creed. In other words, if true to his covenant with the Presbyterian church, it is impossible for him to grow in the knowledge of divine truth.
And yet professedly the object of his study of Hebrew, Greek, etc., is that he may grow in knowledge, and gain a more perfect understanding of the Scriptures, and teach others to do likewise. This he claims to be his object in accepting the office, and it is the professed object of the Trustees in inviting him to fill the Hebrew Professorship, and yet he is pledged beforehand not to teach what new truths he may discover, before he even enters the office. How absurd and inconsistent! Any man or set of men should be ashamed to make such claims regarding Bible study, in the face of their own public pledge beforehand to repudiate them. They must be sure that the people are sound asleep. We are unable to see how such hypocrisy could gain even self-respect. How could the most thorough knowledge of Greek or Hebrew or Chaldee help one to an understanding of the Bible, if he is pledged not to believe any advanced truth, even if his investigations should point it out?
These are some of the reasons why clergymen as a class cannot see and are either non-committal or denunciatory with reference to present truths. They are pledged not to receive any truth not contained in their creed, and not to reject any error that is contained in it, so long as they stand in that relationship to their church. They are blind leaders of the blind and unless they apply the eye-salve of truth and come out of Babylon they will all fall into the ditch together.
But we rejoice to find some true wheat among the great mass of tares in the nominal church, among the ministers as well as among the people, who recognize the truth and prove their fidelity to God by their willingness to endure hardness for the truth's sake. And upon no class does the trial come with greater force than upon ministers; and in this any who are struggling to be free should have our fullest sympathy. With them it means truly the loss of all things, and very naturally the flesh shrinks even when the spirit is more willing. It means the sacrifice of reputation, friends, and often even those of the family circle; it means the sacrifice of the present means of earning a living, and necessitates the turning to something new and untried. Yes, it is the finding of the cross which, if faithfully borne to the end, secures the eternal crown of glory. Truly, "Straight is the gate and narrow is the way, and few there be that find it." But who in his right mind, who believes the Word of God and the exceeding great and precious promises to the faithful, would barter away the eternal glory for the mean rewards of this present life.
"But I say, Have they not heard? Yes, verily their sound went into all the earth and their words to the ends of the world." – Rom. 10:18.
By many, this scripture is understood to mean, that in Paul's day the gospel had been preached everywhere and heard by everyone. This is a mistake, as we shall see. To make such a statement, would not only contradict Paul's utterance in the fourteenth verse of this same chapter and elsewhere, but it would also contradict facts, for we know that the gospel was not preached before Jesus came, and that since then – during the few years after, when Paul wrote this epistle – it never reached in the remotest sense, one-tenth of all the world. It could not have reached the vast countries then undiscovered and unknown – America, Lower Africa, Eastern Asia, Australia, etc.
The Apostle's meaning will be clear when his discourse is considered as a whole. The ninth, tenth and eleventh chapters should be taken together, and studied as one subject. Then it will be seen that the apostle, reasoning from the Old Testament Scriptures, is showing that the gospel is to be preached to all the world, and not to Israel only, as some had imagined. To support his argument he repeatedly quotes from the Prophets. This is not clearly shown by the ordinary translation, in reading which it is difficult to discern which are Paul's words and which the statements of the Prophets.
It should also be borne in mind that the prophets seldom speak of things as future, but instead, they take a future standpoint and speak of things future as though they were present, or accomplished in the past. Thus Isaiah, in referring to the birth of Jesus, a thing then future, spoke of it as though already accomplished, saying, "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given." (Isa. 9:6.) Thus also "went," in the above text, should be understood; and the real meaning of the passage is seen to be Verily, their sound goeth, or shall go into all the earth.
[Rom. 9:30-33.] What must we conclude, then, concerning God's dealings with Israel and the Gentiles? We conclude that though Israel has been seeking to be right and justified before God, for over 1800 years, and the heathen nations were indifferent to and ignorant of needed justification, yet now that it is offered, Israel will reject and the heathen accept the gospel of justification and reconciliation. Why? Because Israel, as a nation, is really hindered, for they expect it by works, while the heathen will be better prepared to accept it by faith in Christ's finished work. Israel, feeling so confident that she can approve herself to God by works of obedience, stumbles at the simplicity of the Gospel and cannot believe that Jesus was the propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins, and paid it all. Therefore, instead of accepting of Christ's ransom, they stumbled over and rejected the only way to God. This was foreshown by the prophet's words: "Behold I lay in Sion a stumbling stone, and rock of offence; and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed."
[Chap. 10:1-4.] Though I speak thus plainly about Israel and their stumbling, do not understand me to rejoice in their fall, for I desire and pray that they might be saved. I do not accuse them of indifference and wilful unbelief; nay, they have great zeal for God, but they have a plan and way of their own, and are thus blinded and cannot see God's way and plan of justifying through a ransom. Hence they hope for salvation through the keeping of the Law in every particular, which in their degenerate condition is an impossibility, and reject Christ, who before the tribunal of justice became the ransom, substitute, or representative, of all who will accept of his service; and for all such he met and fulfilled the penalty of the Law – DEATH.
[Vs. 5-10.] Moses explains (Lev. 18:5) that the man who does right according to the Law shall continue to live, and not die; but in all the time since Moses thus wrote, none have succeeded in meriting life; death claimed all. It is therefore useless to longer look to works. We are proclaiming that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. Jesus' death settled the claims of the law upon all who accept of his ransom, and this is the good tidings which we now proclaim – that a right to life may be had by accepting of the redemption provided through Christ's sacrifice for our sins.
But, my brethren, as Moses also said (Deut. 30:11-14), this thing is not hidden from them, neither is it far off, difficult to understand. And those who banish prejudice and exercise faith will not say, Who ascended into heaven to bring Christ down [R956 : page 7] from above, or who descended into the grave to bring Christ back from the dead? But what will faith say? Faith will say just what Moses said (Deut. 30:14). The word (that is, the truth which we preach,) is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart – it is reasonable and plain, that you may understand. Faith accepts the fact of the coming of Christ from above, his death, his resurrection and ascension, and finds abundant foundation in the words of Jesus, the Prophets and Apostles – unimpeachable witnesses. Unless you believe this, you of course cannot accept of his sacrifice as being the end of the law and the canceling of its death-penalty against you as a violator of it.
But if you would lay hold of this great salvation, you must publicly and openly confess that Jesus is Lord – your Master; that by his death he purchased you and thus became your owner; for "To this end Christ both died and revived, that he might be LORD [owner, master] both of the dead and living" (Rom. 14:9). And you must not only own and believe that he is your purchaser, Redeemer and LORD, but also that he is a living LORD, that God raised him from death and highly exalted him to a higher nature than that which he gave as our Ransom. To believe and thus confess is acceptable with God, and to such believers it will be plain that Christ settled all the condemnation of the Law against them, and such may have joy and peace in thus believing. After all, it is with the heart that men believe. No matter how much their minds may be convinced of the truth, if their hearts are stubborn they will not believe. Brethren, get your hearts right, and then you will be able both to believe on and confess Jesus as your Lord.
[Vs. 11-13.] This general principle, that faith is the condition of release from condemnation before God, is proved by the Prophet's words to apply not only to Israel but to all mankind, for the Prophet declared: "WHOSOEVER believeth on him shall not be ashamed." This shows that no matter how much preference was shown the Jew under the Law, there is to be no difference shown under the gospel, for the same Lord over all is rich enough to settle the claims of all that come unto him and ask for a share in the benefits of his ransom sacrifice. We have proof of this also in the prophecy which says: "WHOSOEVER shall call upon the name of the LORD shall be saved."
[Vs. 14-17.] And this brings us to another question, namely: Is it not very proper to preach the good tidings of ransom and salvation through Christ to the Gentiles, as well as to Israel? Certainly; the quotation last made implies this; for how could they call on Christ as Lord without believing? and how could they believe on him except they should hear? and how could they hear without a preacher? and how can preachers go forth with this message unless authorized of God? Hence it is evident that God meant this good news to be preached to all the Gentiles as well as to Israel – to every creature. Not only can we reason it out logically thus, but we find a positive statement that the good tidings will be preached, which implies that the Law will be at an end, to every one who heareth and believeth. The prophets Isaiah and Nahum testify of this preaching, saying; "How beautiful the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace [reconciliation through his blood – the remission of sins] and bring good tidings of good things," which come as a result.
But we must not hastily suppose that when preached all will receive the good tidings; for the Prophet, speaking of things future as though they were past, again testifies of the result of the preaching, saying: "Lord, who hath believed our report," or preaching? This implies that the real believers and confessors would be few, at least for a while. But this proves that faith is to be the result of hearing – of hearing God's truth – and not a result of keeping perfectly the Law.
[Vs. 18-21.] Now we inquire, Will the fact that few will believe, prove that the testimony will reach only a few? No, it is bound to reach all, in proof of which I again quote from the Prophet. He says, speaking from a future standpoint: Their sound went [i.e. shall go] into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world." This proves that all the Gentiles shall yet have this gospel preached to them. But what about Israel? Shall not they as a people come to know – understand and appreciate – the good tidings? Yes, but not for a long time; they are yet a stiff-necked stubborn people. As Moses said, God will [have to] provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation will He anger you. Isaiah speaks yet more pointedly of Israel's rejection of the message and the acceptance of it by the heathen, saying: "I was found of them that sought me not, I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me." And speaking of Israel he says, "All day long I have stretched out my hands to a disobedient and gainsaying [self-willed] people."
[Chap. 11:1-5.] In view of these declarations of the Prophets showing that Israel will have to be thus dealt with and disciplined, I ask: Hath God utterly cast away his people Israel? God forbid; for I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not utterly cast away his people whom he formerly recognized and favored. Call to mind Elijah's prayer against Israel, saying: "Lord, they have killed thy prophets and digged down thine altars, and I am left alone, and they seek my life." But mark God's answer: "I have reserved to myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal." Even so at this present time there is a remnant who through God's favor will accept the good tidings and will not stumble. I Paul, rejoice, that I am of that favored remnant.
[Vs. 6-8.] But now another point: this remnant is not saved by works of the Law, nor because they almost kept it, but by accepting of salvation as God's free favor through Christ. While Israel as a nation fails to receive the blessing sought by works of the Law, the chosen ones, the remnant of Israel, and those of the heathen who receive the gospel, will obtain a special blessing far higher than Israel ever dreamed of. These being justified, not by works, but by faith in Christ as their Redeemer (substitute), thereby gain the privilege of becoming sons of God on the divine plane and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, in the coming kingdom. The rest, both of Israel and the nations, will be blinded to this privilege. The God of this world will blind all except those who by faithfulness make their calling and selection sure – a "little flock."
[Vs. 9-10.] David also foretold Israel's stumbling saying: "Let their table be made a snare and a trap and a stumbling-block and a recompense unto them" [i.e., their downfall shall be over the very blessings which God gave them; over their blessings they shall stumble. God had given them food such as he gave to no other people. To them God had committed the oracles of truth, the prophecies, and the types which shadowed forth the sacrifice for sin and the blessings following that atoning sacrifice; yet becoming proud and vain of the honors conferred, they thereby stumbled over the very graciousness of God's plan shown to them in types]. Thus their eyes were darkened, and they were bowed down to see only the earthly promises.
[Vs. 11-14.] But now we come to another question – admitting that Israel will stumble and is stumbling as foretold – I ask: Have they stumbled to fall irrecoverably? will they never again come into fellowship with God? God forbid that they should forever remain cast off. The significance of their fall is rather to be a blessing to the Gentiles, than a permanent injury to Israel. And we may reason, that if their fall from favor results in riches to the world (the Gentiles), then their restoration to favor, which God's promises guarantee, will imply an abundance of divine favor both to Jew and Gentile. I speak to you Gentiles thus, because being the apostle to the Gentiles I desire to show the importance of the Gentiles in God's plan, and to stimulate my countrymen to emulation, and thus recover some of them from blindness.
[Vs. 15-21.] Thus is seen the breadth of God's plans. We know that there are certain promises made to Israel which must yet be fulfilled; and if they be temporarily postponed and a blessing unexpectedly given to the Gentiles, it argues that God's plans, as we now see them, are broader than we had at first supposed, and include Gentiles as well as Jews; for if the casting away of them opens a door of favor to the Gentiles, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead. That is to say, God's promises to Israel are such as imply their resurrection from death, their restitution; and now that we learn that the world in general is reconciled to God and their sin atoned for by the ransom, we may reasonably conclude that "life from the dead" – restitution – will come to all the heathen as well as to Israel. We see Israel to be merely a first-fruit of the world, the first favored; and if God has a blessing for them, as promised, it follows that he has the same blessing for other nations; for if the first-fruit, or sample, be holy – acceptable and blessed of God – so also the mass which it represents, (the world in general) will be.
The covenant promise of God out of which the kingdom classes are being developed is the root, and fleshly Israel as branches were first developed. But because of unbelief and pride, most of these were broken off, and wild heathen branches grafted in instead, with them to partake of the life of the root, yea, the very fatness of the promise; yet they should not be puffed up against the broken-off branches, but humbly and thankfully remember that they are occupying the place originally belonging to the natural descendants. Walk humbly, for if because of pride and unbelief they failed and were cast off, God would be as likely to cut off the wild branches under similar circumstances.*
[Vs. 22-24.] Here we find two prominent characteristics of our Heavenly Father, illustrated – his love and his justice – his goodness and severity. He is abundant in mercy and goodness, but will by no means clear the guilty. His goodness is manifested by the promise and the blessings it contains, and his just severity in the cutting off from those favors of all the unfaithful. But even in cutting Israel off, God is merciful and kind; for even though cut off as a people from the chief favor, they still have every advantage as individuals, and as such, any may be re-engrafted, if they exercise the needful faith, though as we have already seen, their hearts are hardened by the past favors of God, so that most of them are less ready to accept of the gospel than the Gentiles.
[Vs. 25-27.] Here is a fact not generally known; it is a secret as yet – a mystery – and will show you that God's plan is more comprehensive than you have yet appreciated; and by showing you that you have not all wisdom, it will enable you to keep humble and to search for the further unfoldings of God's plans. The mystery is this: The blindness and breaking off of Israel will not continue forever, it will only last until the choicest, fittest branches from the Gentiles have been properly engrafted on the root – the Abrahamic promise. Then the broken off branches shall be reunited to the root. The fact is, the root or promise contains a double set of branches, first, the select branches, natural and engrafted, the spiritual seed of Abraham, the Christ which is to bless all nations; and secondly, a lower order of re-engrafted branches – Israel restored – the natural seed of Abraham through which the spiritual seed will principally operate in blessing all nations.
Thus seen, Israel as a whole will be saved FROM THEIR BLINDNESS in due time, and will yet share in the very blessings they expected when they were broken off, viz.: the natural or earthly part of the blessings – the better or spiritual part of the Abrahamic blessing being conferred upon the elect, the chosen, who through much tribulation and crucifixion of the flesh and following of the Master are counted worthy of the chief honor, the spiritual blessings. In proof of what I state as to the recovery of Israel from her cast-off condition, I quote Jehovah's words by the prophet: "There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them when I shall take away their sins."
[Vs. 28-30.] This prophetic statement shows us, beloved Gentile grafts, that though the natural branches are treated as enemies for the present, for your exaltation, yet really they are still beloved of God, and he has blessings yet in store for them, as promised to their fathers; for any free gift and promise which God makes is sure of fulfillment. He knew all about this temporary lopping off, before he made his promises concerning them, and knowing the end from the beginning makes it unnecessary for him ever to repent of a promise.
Let us now analyze this prophecy and see that it implies what we have before suggested to be God's plan, viz., to bring the natural branches again into God's favor. Jacob clearly means fleshly Israel, and from these, ungodliness is to be turned away – but not until God himself shall "take away," or "put away," or "blot out" their sins. As elsewhere shown, the sins of the world are not put away, until the close of the Gospel age, until the sufferings of the body of Christ are ended. During this age, only the sins of those who now believe are canceled or put out of sight by God. But he who now justifies believers, will then justify them also, as believers in the ransom, and he will thus take away their sin through the same ransom which he gave for sin – even his Son.
In turning away ungodliness a Deliverer is made use of. This is none other than Christ, the great Deliverer whom Moses promised. He shall deliver from all evil, [R956 : page 8] from death, from pain and sickness, from ignorance and blindness, from every oppression of the devil. He shall bind Satan and set free his captives, for he is Jehovah's Deliverer. This Deliverer is the complete Christ, the members of the body with the head united, complete, no more twain, but one. This deliverer comes out of Zion; it is the first-born of Zion, the overcomer and heir of all things. Hence, before the promised blessings come to Jacob (fleshly Israel) the heir of the spiritual blessings must first be developed.
Nor should we suppose that the blessings and deliverances will stop with Jacob, for, as already shown, they are but a first-fruits of restored mankind, and when they are turned to God, they shall become a channel through which the Deliverer will bless and release "all the families of the earth."
[Ver. 31.] Lift up your eyes and take now a comprehensive view of God's dealings with Israel – both spiritual Israel and "Israel after the flesh" – and see how grand and large is the plan of God which as yet is only budding. As for a long while you (Gentiles) were strangers and aliens from God, and seemingly unloved and uncared for, yet now you have obtained mercy and favor, while fleshly Israel is cut off, even so these of the fleshly house are now unbelievers and cut off, that by and by they may obtain mercy and find favor through you: that is to say, God is blessing them at the very time he is cutting them off, for in blessing you and preparing the spiritual seed and Deliverer, he is making ready to bless them through you, when you as the body of Christ are complete (Gal. 3:29). Thus through the mercy which God now shows you, he is also providing mercy for them, to be manifested in his due time.
[Ver. 32.] God treated Israel as a nation of unbelievers, and cast them aside nationally in order that he might have mercy upon them, and bring them as a people to inherit the earthly promises made to them.
Looking at the deep workings of God's plan thus, in the light of what he tells us is future, as well as past, how wonderful it is! Oh, the rich depths of God's wisdom and knowledge! how useless for us to try to discover his dealings except as he is pleased to reveal his plans to us. His doings are all mysteries to us except as enlightened by his Spirit. Who knew this gracious plan, so much beyond human conception? Who helped the Lord to arrange such a plan, think you? This is not human wisdom. God only could be its author. A Jew never would have planned to graft in Gentiles to share the chief blessings of the promise! A Gentile never would have arranged the original stock and branches Jewish and himself a favored graft. No, the plan is clearly of God, and well illustrates both his goodness and just severity. Of him is all the plan, through his power it is all brought to pass, and to him be the glory forever.
When the Spirit of Paul's argument is caught, it can be clearly seen that he quotes Isaiah's words "Their sound went into all the earth and their words to the end of the world," AS PROPHECY yet to be fulfilled, not to prove that the gospel had been universally published, but that it would be in due time.
Some ask: How shall we answer those who reproach us with self-conceit and presumption in daring to believe and teach what Wesley, Whitefield and Knox did not, and great men of to-day do not believe or teach? They reproachfully inquire, Are you better or wiser than they?
We answer, The path of the just is indeed the shining light, which shineth more and more, unto the perfect day. Consequently, those who walked even very closely with God could only have the light due in their day – instance, Daniel and all the prophets. (Dan. 12:9,10; 1 Pet. 1:10-13.) Were Wesley and Whitefield and Knox, etc., better than Moses, and Daniel, and all the prophets?
And if some of to-day, who stand before the people as the exponents of Christianity, do not really walk in the shining light, or at most walk very slowly, should the humblest child of God stumble over them? Not at all. We have God's own word by which to prove all things, and if we do not do it, we alone as individuals are to blame for it. God's word assures us that it is not possible to deceive the elect – the faithful, who ignore all prejudice, and pride, and ambitions for human praise, etc., and simply follow the divine word, testing all things by it, though others great or small might reject it.
We cannot judge the hearts of others in these matters, but we can judge our own. And by the grace of God we can stand firmly by our convictions, and boldly contend for the faith of which we cannot be ashamed.
We can heartily concur in our Master's expression of gratitude to God when he said – "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight." – Matt. 11:25,26.
The Lord and the Apostles seemed to regard the gospel message and the privilege of hearing it as marks of great favor. Our Lord, when sending the disciples out to proclaim to Israel the kingdom of heaven at hand, told them to seek for the worthy ones, when going into any city. (Matt. 10:11.) He told them that they had pearls of truth which the swinish would not appreciate, and upon whom it would be useless to waste valuable time, and that even when sowing seed on good ground, much would be wasted – choked with the cares of life and the deceitfulness of riches. Our Lord followed this course in his own teaching, also. With what a disregard of their favor or following he upbraided the Pharisees, How can you believe who receive honor one of another [who are puffed up with pride], and seek not that honor only which cometh from above. In contrast, note how patient he was, and how careful to make clear his Messiahship to the meek ones who, like Nathaniel, were Israelites and truth-seekers indeed and without guile. See how much time he spent in preaching to a congregation of one, and that a Samaritan woman who in sincerity desired to know the truth, and was willing to confess it.
Nor should we regard this as merely our Lord's preference: it was more, it was his mission (as it is ours as his followers,) to preach the glad tidings to the MEEK, as it is written; "The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek." – Isa. 61:1.
But some one, misinformed as to the object for which the gospel is preached in this age, and perhaps as to what the gospel is, may suggest, Why to the meek? Why should not our Lord, and we, preach especially to those who are not meek? Why not preach to the proud, and to the wise and great, who professing to be much and highly esteemed among men, are abominable in the sight of God – blind leaders of the blind? Why not preach to such? Because it would be useless. The gospel, the real gospel, has no attraction for such, and time is always wasted, when thus spent. "Have any of the Scribes or Pharisees believed on him?" was asked at the close of our Lord's ministry; and had he confined his labors to that class, he perhaps would have made no disciples.
The truth, the gospel, affects and influences any heart into which it enters, but it can only find root in a good, deep and prepared soil. If doubts and hopes have alternately plowed and harrowed the heart, so that the desire for the truth is deep and strong, and if the mind is free from the crust of prejudice and open to receive the seed of truth, there is good ground for the gospel message; for such a one has reached the point of meekness, and is ready to receive the Word of God, whoever may [R957 : page 8] scatter the seed. The Gospel appeals to such to-day, as well as at the first advent. It satisfies the longings of such, as nothing else could. But now, as then also, the bigoted self-satisfied ones who are at ease in Zion, who say, We are rich in learning and increased in good works and have need of nothing; let us alone that we may enjoy our ease, and glory, and honor of men – these are not "the meek"; and the true gospel will not be received by such. Seek those who are worthy, those who hunger after righteousness – truth.
And, beloved, as we seek to teach the meek the glad tidings which we have received, let us see to it that we maintain always the meek childlike spirit, without which we would not have been worthy of the truth either. Let us remember the meekness of our Master, though Master and Teacher above all. The promise is, "The meek will he guide in judgment, and the meek will he teach his way," and "The meek shall increase their joy in the Lord." – Psa. 25:9; Isa. 29:19.
"For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister." – Heb. 6:10.
"Can a woman forget her sucking child? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee [Zion, the Church]. Behold I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me." – Isa. 49:15.
As we read these assurances of tenderest love on the part of our heavenly Father, and then consider our low estate, we can scarcely realize that we are indeed the objects of that love. Yet if we are humbly walking in the narrow way, these assurances are for our comfort and consolation.
Your sphere may seem to be a narrow one; your opportunities for engaging in the special work of the present hour may be necessarily very limited: yet if you are lovingly laboring to do all you can under circumstances which you cannot control to improve, and doing that service with your whole heart cheerfully, then be assured that the Lord appreciates it. And he is not unrighteous to forget it because it is small and does not amount to much.
God is not measuring us by the magnitude of the results of our labors, but by the spirit which we develop and manifest in their performance. If we have the spirit of our Master, our constant aim and effort will be not only to do something, but to do all we can in the special work which God has marked out for this special time. In some cases that all is a great deal more than in other cases. We are more likely to under-estimate than to over-estimate our abilities and opportunities, and thus to accomplish much less than we might. But if faithful stewards, we will endeavor to invest our talents to the best possible advantage, according to our best judgment, so as to secure the largest possible results. The efforts of such will also be directed in the exact line which the Lord indicates – first to the saints, to minister to them and build them up in the faith, and to encourage and strengthen the weaker ones among them, and in brief to serve them in any way.
DEAR SIR: – Having a desire to do more in the Master's service, I write to inform you how I am situated, and ask your advice as to how I could serve best. I am a woman, and obtain a livelihood as a servant at the __________ Hotel. I wait on table and make beds, and what spare time I have I use to introduce your paper and book in this town. I conclude that there is not much wheat here to gather, but every kernel must be tested; therefore I write to you for advice as to the best course to pursue. I am free, I have nothing to hold me at one place and think I could do more for the Master to take some work that would require traveling from town to town. I will soon get over this town.
On the evening of April 7th. last I commemorated the Lord's death alone with great joy and peace. This is the second time I have commemorated, this time as a blessed privilege and understandingly, while at the first partaking I thought it a duty and did not understand its import. That was in 1870 while a member of the Christian Church. Yours in fellowship and service,
[Since the above was written, the sister has seen the plan of work suggested in May TOWER and gone heartily into the work taking orders for DAWN. As a result her first order was for fifty copies, and we doubt not, she will soon average one hundred copies per week. – EDITOR.]