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 YOU meet any TOWER readers who do not get their papers, tell all who desire it continued that they should write to us. Those who have not written us for two or three years should remember that we gave due notice that all such would be discontinued until heard from. Many names were stricken from our list. We desire to re-enter them, if they desire the paper on the conditions named above and especially referred to in last March TOWER.
THE APRIL '87 TOWER is the very paper you want, to loan to friends. We have some pink slips prepared for pasting by a narrow margin on the edge of the paper. We (publishers) are not allowed to do this, but you can each do your own. We send as many of these pink slips as of extra copies of April TOWER. Order all you can use judiciously, GRATIS. But do not waste them, by handing them about like "hand bills." Not to the swinish, but to the "meek," are we sent with the glad tidings. Save time and papers by passing by all, except this class, whom alone the Gospel will effectually reach, during this age. (Isa. 61:1.) Who cannot do something for the Lord, the Truth, and his error-blinded brother, who desires to find the "old paths" of Jesus and the Apostles? Such precious opportunities should not be neglected; we may not have them long.
"Blow ye the trumpet, blow
The gladly solemn sound,
Let all the nations know,
To earth's remotest bound,
The year of jubilee is come;
Return, ye ransomed sinners, home."
Observation and experience enable us to offer the following suggestions which, we trust, will be serviceable to all who are endeavoring to spread the truth, which should be with all the consecrated the main object of life.
MILLENNIAL DAWN VOL. I. – The Plan of the Ages – is the ablest Bible teacher and preacher that we know of, and one that can visit every city, town, and farm house and preach incessantly without exhaustion, without expense for food and clothing or need of rest. Hence all who love the glad tidings and desire to spread it should welcome this preacher, seek to open the way before it, and to introduce it to honest hearts and heads everywhere. Or, to state the matter in another way, this book provides the means by which every child of God, no matter what his natural ability as teacher or preacher is, may become an able minister of the glorious gospel.
Though "FOOD FOR THINKING CHRISTIANS" has done, and is still doing a great work, yet being more brief, it necessarily touched only a few of the prominent features of the great plan, and therefore is much inferior to DAWN as a teacher. The latter also, by reason of its wider scope, presents the plan and its orderly arrangement in such a gradual way that the reader actually finds himself basking in the sunlight, before he is fully aware that it is morning. Notice its design and provision to lead even the skeptically inclined by gradually progressive steps to a clear refreshing view and a full assurance of the great Creator's benevolent and glorious plan. It begins by laying a foundation for faith in the Creator and in the Bible as the Creator's revelation to man of his plan. The reader thus has confidence established not only in God and the Bible, but also in the book, "The Plan of the Ages." He will rightly reason that the work which at the very outstart has given him clearer and truer ideas regarding God and the Bible, and has opened up matters never before noticed, and given a foundation for faith and trust, is a safe counsellor to heed in seeking a knowledge of God's plans through His Word.
Thus the first three chapters lay a foundation which subsequent chapters build upon, showing "The Plan of the Ages" to be gloriously and truly the Plan of God, which the Bible reveals. No living teacher and no kind of preaching will so effectually reach the intelligent thinking class of Christians. There are two reasons for this: First, If you attempt to explain the plan orally, the hearer will interrupt you with questions which he cannot have answered to his satisfaction until first other truths are clearly seen. And therefore in a conversation it is almost impossible to keep close to the right line of exposition, not only because of the questions of your hearer, but because of the interruptions, and the further fact that neither you nor your hearer can spend enough time at once, to make the truth clear and convincing. The book on the contrary goes right along and refuses to be interrupted by questions or general conversation. And if business or other matters interrupt and it is laid aside the reader goes back and repeats enough to get the thread of thought or argument where dropped.
Besides, if you possessed the rare gift of oratory, or could in any measure speak and expound the Scriptures in public, you well know, if you have tried it, that it is almost impossible to get a congregation of intelligent people to stand long enough hearing a "street corner preacher" to get even a faint idea of the glorious gospel we proclaim.
Another difficulty which attends such preaching is, that you could not (unless backed by a small fortune) long sustain yourself or perhaps a dependent family by such a course without a miracle, which God does not authorize us to expect. This last is to many an insurmountable obstacle and hindrance preventing them from spending all their time and talent in making known the glad tidings.
Go to a town in which you are not known, – in which misrepresentation has not prejudiced the people against you and the truth. Take with you a lot of the Contents Circulars with pink slip attached and a blank book in which to write the name and addresses of all who subscribe, and take a big heart full of love for God and for those you would lead into the light, full of faith in God and trust in his promises, and full of hope that God will be pleased to use you to his glory now as well as hereafter.
Learn to act quickly upon whatever your judgment dictates. Go first to a store to inquire for a respectable place of lodging; arrange for boarding "a few days" showing your circular and stating that you are there as a colporteur. Next get quickly to work; distribute the circulars, being CAREFUL to say nothing whatever about the doctrines of the book, nor about your own belief regarding God's plan. Ignore all questions on such subjects and merely speak of the one fact – that its object is to furnish a firm foundation for faith in God, and in the Bible as the true revelation of his purposes, touching man's past, present and future. Let your theme be constantly – The TRACT SOCIETY wants me to get this book into every family and specially into the hands of the skeptically inclined, as a guard against the growing skepticism of our day, which is rapidly sapping true piety and reverence for God and the Bible in our Colleges, Theological Seminaries, Business houses, Banks and Homes – everywhere. You cannot well say too much for the book, as one that will show in interesting style that the Bible is a self-interpreter and its teachings grandly harmonious, when viewed in the light of sanctified reason and common sense. You can surely say, too, that the book is not dry musty reading, but truly "meat in due season" to the truth-hungry; and (in the language of a sister) that the light, which this precious volume reflects, has made the Bible a new book, a treasure, a mine of wealth to many as well as to yourself.
But don't stop to talk or argue; be on the move, and let all see that your time is precious, that the King's business demands haste, and that you intend to take their order and the order of every intelligent family in the town. Do not spend more than two or three minutes at each house, and if they do not readily subscribe say to them: I do not accept the money now, but merely take your orders; but be sure to have the money ready by__________? day – fixing a time when your canvass of the town will be complete. Remark also that though they feel no inclination to disbelieve the Bible now, they do not know the day when they or some of their family may come under the influence of that pestilence and need "a helping hand," and the very knowledge of God and his word that this book affords.
You can safely say too, "When this book is in the hands of all your neighbors and they are talking about its contents, you will have more than 25 cts. worth of curiosity to know as well as they, of its teachings and explanations. Then I will be gone and you will feel ashamed to borrow when you can now purchase for the paltry sum of 25 cents. You can sell the book for waste paper after reading it and surely not lose much. But many who have read, would not take ten dollars for the book, if they could not get another copy." Take the name and go on to the next house, and so on. Don't stop long – let them see that you are in haste, and they will decide quicker in favor of having the book.
Large towns and cities you will need to canvass and deliver to in sections, but towns of 5000 to 10,000 inhabitants, you should be able to canvass in from one to two weeks, and make your delivery when through, and ready to go to the next town.
But do you say – This is not preaching! I want to preach. We answer, It is preaching of a most effective sort, and will probably yield a thousand times as much fruit as any other method you could adopt. Besides, you should arrange to revisit the same town about five weeks after leaving it. Go then, to see whether some want DAWN in cloth binding, or whether they want five or ten copies of the paper bound edition to send to their friends, east, west, north and south, throughout the world. The interested ones will also want ZION'S WATCH TOWER, and then will be the time to [R927 : page 2] mention it. Show a sample and take yearly or half-yearly subscriptions. Then the interested will have questions to ask, too, which you may assist them to find answers for in the Bible, or DAWN, or Z.W.T., and at that time hold such public or private meetings as your judgment of your talents, surrounding circumstances, etc., may dictate. [R928 : page 2]
The object of thus canvassing quietly is to avoid the prejudice which many zealous, but blinded and misguided Christian people would be sure to awaken in the minds of each other, which would hinder a candid, honest, earnest study of the great, grand subject, treated in DAWN. And we know that prejudice is one of the strongest foes of the truth.
Very seldom will you be questioned about a license, but should you be, tell your questioner that ZION'S WATCH TOWER TRACT SOCIETY is a chartered, benevolent religious Society; and besides that, the paper bound book represents three numbers of ZION'S WATCH TOWER. This you can show them upon the last page of its cover. It has therefore the same rights for public sale that all newspapers enjoy.
Those who are specially good canvassers may do as well to omit from the above plan the distribution of the circulars. Such might take a clean circular in their hand and perhaps read brief extracts from the "Words of Commendation" on it and then take the order. These would thus save one visit to every house. The first suggestion would make three trips – once with circulars, once to collect circulars and take orders, and once to deliver books upon the day appointed. The last suggestion would save the first of these trips.
This plan of two trips is the one pursued by Brother Adamson, which has worked very successfully with him. His first effort with this plan was on leaving Pittsburgh, after having spent some days with us, after the celebration of the Lord's Supper, April 7th '87. Knowing that we would be interested to know of his success on this plan, Bro. A. wrote us the following letters regarding his first two days' work: –
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – I now give you an account of my success. I think there must be forty names on my book – results of five hours' work yesterday. I am sure in good towns I can average forty names daily. I refer chiefly to the book as an antidote for infidelity and to open the Scriptures to Christians. If I say more, I merely glance at the Chart as an example of "object-teaching," making plain the relationship between God's plan and the history of mankind.
I found some people whose talk showed that those DAWNS will be seed on good ground. With no introduction from me to that line of thought, some began to tell me the confusion of their minds on Bible subjects.
I rode out from Greenville with a young man who, taking me to be a minister, began on Bible subjects. Why, said he, after I answered several of his questions, you talk like ZION'S WATCH TOWER – kind of sensible. You will find, said he, that such views are beginning to influence this whole country.
I find your directions as to promptness very valuable, and very few cases need to be urged to take DAWN at the paltry 25 cts. If workers could all get the spirit of your directions and use the method you propose, all could succeed and could readily clear their personal expenses and even support a family.
I speak of the circular which I carry in my hand as being an array of commendation from every side – sometimes pointing out one or two of them. As old Satan introduced the deceptive errors insidiously, let us use this method to uproot them. I will write often and report. Most kind expressions of regard and love from us both.
A later letter from Bro. Adamson says:
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – I find my average of 40 names per day still holds good and as I have nearly names enough for the 80 DAWNS with me, I think best to arrange for 300 DAWNS to be sent by freight, so as to reach here by the close of next week. I will need nearly 300 for this town alone.
You may count on my selling at least 5,000 of the books this year and as many more as possible. In this way, I expect to do much more preaching than ever before, though for years, as you know, I have given my time almost entirely to it.
A still later letter says: – I take a simple, easy course, generally like this, "I am taking subscriptions for a book of 350 pages at 25 cts. – will deliver it in two weeks. If you like the subject, you want it." Then I say that the various ages and their work, when clearly seen, give a clue to the meaning of every Scripture passage as commentaries do not and cannot.
I mention the chapters that do this – those antidoting infidelity – the permission of evil – the three ways – the Ransom vs. New Theology – the clear distinctions of the following chapter and Jehovah's Day – so acceptable to business men of THE WORLD etc. Price on back, 50 cts., calls out the fact that about 10,000 were sold at that price, before the TRACT SOCIETY lowered the price to 25 cts. – about cost.
I had an excellent offer to take agency of a Cyclopedia at about $150. per month. The man opened his eyes, when I told him $500 per month would be no inducement whatever to leave my present engagement.
Yours in fellowship and service, with kindest regards, love and remembrance,
The pay referred to in Bro. A.'s letters is the "Expense money" allowance of 10 cents each on paper bound DAWN, mentioned in VIEW FROM TOWER of March '87, – which see. Having explained this plan fully, we trust, let us suggest a plan for another class.
A PLAN FOR THOSE WHO CANNOT GIVE ALL THEIR TIME AND CANNOT LEAVE HOME.
This plan is as follows: Write to us and we will send you a lot of April '87 TOWERS, and a lot of pink slips, which you can attach to the edge of the TOWER by pasting a very narrow edge of the slip. These you can take around town in a basket: leave them for a few days, and when you call for them, try to sell DAWN in paper covers at 25 cts. as above suggested. Take the order only and the next day deliver the book. You cannot sell as many, but you can thus reach many of the truth-hungry. Those who cannot go themselves, could send a child of 12 to 15 or any suitable person.
But all must not expect to sell 40 copies per day as Bro. A. is doing. Only persons with experience and ability can do so well as this; but many with the same effort they spend in other enterprises, yet with more zeal and love, because this is the service of the truth, can sell readily half as many and clear expenses.
Now who wishes to engage in this Crusade against error? Who wishes thus to call the attention of Christians to the Dawn of the Millennial day? Who wishes to help "Lift up a standard for the people" that they be not swept wholesale before the great tidal wave of infidelity already advancing?
"Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
Ye soldiers of the Cross;
Lift high his royal banner,
It must not suffer loss."
Take Notice. Those who engage in this work will need an outfit – a sample of the cloth bound as well as of the paper bound M. DAWN. You will need circulars also, or April TOWERS, depending on which of the above methods suits your circumstances. And you will need to order books as soon as you have made a start and know about how many you will be able to sell in the town you canvass. It will save time and trouble for you and us, for us especially, for you to pay cash in advance on each order, and hence we require it. If you have not the means at first to send for a large supply, as a wise steward begin small and increase your work gradually and as rapidly as possible. In writing to us, keep your order and all business matters, separate from your letter; and in your order figure it out plainly; thus for instance,
25 copies of Paper bound DAWN Vol. I. @ 25 cts. . . . . . . . $6.25 Less 10 cts. per copy TRACT FUND Credit for Expenses. . . . $2.50 Money order enclosed for ----- balance . . . . . . . . . . . . $3.75
We wish however to provide for those who cannot at first pay in advance. To these we would say: If you have been a regular subscriber to the Z.W. TOWER for one year or more you can have outfit and books for delivery on credit for the first time, after which the "expense money" allowed you, will enable you to pay in advance. [R929 : page 2]
All books must be sold at the fixed price – cloth bound $1.00; paper bound 25 cts. – no more and no less, except that in each town you may make a reduction in price of your soiled samples, to some who may be glad to get them. Thus in starting each town you can have a clean sample. Though you should have a cloth bound DAWN with you do not try to push or sell it; for you can sell probably ten of the paper covered in the time you would spend selling one cloth bound. Use the cloth bound book merely as a contrast to make them see how very cheap the paper book is at 25 cts. You will remember how and why the paper edition is reduced from 50 to 25 cts. as explained in "View" in March 1887 TOWER.
We are glad to say to you that the present prospect is that by the united effort of all those now in the light, we shall be able to more than accomplish our first hope of putting 50,000 copies of DAWN into circulation before January 1888. Possibly we shall double that estimate.
Pray ye the Master of the harvest to send forth more laborers and then begin to use your own talents in the service. The Master says "Go ye also into the vineyard and whatsoever is right I will give you" – full pay to every laborer of whatever class, he guarantees.
DEAR BRO. AND SR. ADAMSON: – Your postal card received. I am so glad that you had so profitable a meeting. I shall hope that I may have the blessed privilege of meeting with the brethren at Pittsburg in another year. I think it would not have been right for me to leave our small company here, this Passover; for it was the first of the kind, I think, that ever met in this city, as we did – seven in all. Our Lord was in our midst. Sr. Baker read the article on "The Lord's Supper," from the February Tower; and among us was an old German lady, who has been a member of the Methodist church a long time, who, after listening attentively, said "There! That is the first time I have ever understood! I never saw it so plain before." And we all felt that we were celebrating the Lord's Supper truly for the first time. It was a happy season.
Give my love to Bro. and Sr. Russell. I long for the good time coming, when I shall see them face to face – if not in the flesh, when the race has been run, if worthy. O the thought! How grand! It is worthy of all sacrifices made now. Like Paul, I have "an earnest desire for the returning, and being with Christ." Love to Sister Adamson, and will be glad to welcome you back again. H. R. M.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – At the appointed time, four of us commemorated the Lord's death by partaking of the emblems, bread and wine. We had a refreshing season. We were with you in spirit, and were blessed.
Your brother in Christ,
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – Some of the seed sown is already up; and I think the happiest I have ever been was when Bro. Dickinson and his wife said to me that they had found more happiness in this than in all else in life. Some others are interested, and perhaps after a little there may be a half-dozen or so meeting once or twice a week, to talk these things over. I find more happiness in it than in any thing else. In fellowship your brother,
MY DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – Some time has elapsed since I last wrote you a letter, but it is not because I have forgotten you, or become cold toward the cause of Truth. To-day I am as free from the trammels of sectarianism as the winds that play about me. I have bid a long, long adieu to the nominal church; I have stepped out of "Babylon;" I am feeding in the valleys of God and on the hill-lands of truth. Oh! how sweet those rich pastures! The flesh-pots of Egypt are not to be compared to the rich viands of promise. Their savor has become a nauseating stench in my nostrils. Let those who cling to the sluggish streams of tradition drink of their foul waters and feed on the garbage they accumulate; but for me, the cool, refreshing waters of truth only can make glad the waste places of my existence.
I am still preaching in New Lebanon every Sunday night. My preaching is troubling a good many people. They fear it will undermine sectarianism, and their fear is well founded. The truth is slowly spreading, and not infrequently in directions unlooked for. I set no stakes as to what I will do, but go on unpretentiously in the discharge of my duty, little concerning myself as to where it may place me.
Yours in hope,
BRO. AND SR. RUSSELL: – Greeting to you: Bound by the same cord, rejoicing in the same truth, we did not forget our privilege of celebrating our Redeemer's death, realizing our right to life, being purchased with his blood (life), and our right to his perfection by eating the bread, and also the glorious privilege of sharing the sufferings of our Head, that we may be also glorified together. Hoping to see you face to face when suffering is ended, pray the Lord that our faith fail not.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – We, a few, did not forget to assemble ourselves together to keep the feast. It was a blessed time; we felt it the more so, as it was at the same time that our dear Lord partook of the same supper. We remembered and spoke about you, and I have no doubt you remembered us and all of the household of faith. Love to all, from us all.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – I have the great pleasure to report a very interesting and profitable meeting, on the evening of the 7th inst., of a little company, sixteen in number, who "kept the feast" in remembrance of "our Passover, slain for us." We remembered the more isolated ones, who were not so privileged; also the little bands of twos and threes, and companies like our own, here and there all over the earth. We prayed also for the dear brothers and sisters in Allegheny; and we doubted not that we were also remembered, and the assurance gave us courage and strengthened us in our glorious privilege.
We all join in sending our love and sympathy to you and Sister Russell, and to all the dear household that are privileged to see you face to face. Yours in fellowship of the Master,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – About 8 o'clock, p.m., April 7th, self and wife alone, except with our Master, celebrated the Lord's Supper. After reading the record of Matthew, Mark, Luke and Paul, and praying, and blessing bread and wine, breaking the bread, we partook of these emblems in commemoration of the Lord's death and sacrifice for the redemption and salvation of all that was lost in Adam. And especially for the called, and those selected, elected, chosen by consecration – the saints, for his bride. We did this in harmony with the command of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ, given to his disciples at the time when they met with him to celebrate his last Passover, before he suffered death, and thus paid the ransom price (antilutron).
The papers and ten books, M. DAWN, came all right. We suffer reproach from some of whom we expected better things. I expect to leave here on next Monday for a trip to the southwest, and will trust the Lord for success. Hoping to hear from you soon, with kind regards to Sister R. and yourself,
Yours in Christ,
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – Seven of us met on the evening of April 7th, and after a short social meeting we commemorated the Lord's supper. Your brother in Christ,
C. T. RUSSELL, DEAR BROTHER: – I drop a few lines to let you hear from this part of the Master's vineyard. The Church at Huggen's Creek met and celebrated our Passover on the evening of the 7th inst. This is our first attempt. A devoted little company of ten assembled at the place appointed. After prayer and a few appropriate remarks we partook of the emblems in remembrance of the death and sufferings of our Lord. We enjoyed the presence of the Lord and felt that it was good for us to be there. Yours in Fellowship and Love,
DEAR BRO: – I have read your book, "MILLENNIAL DAWN," VOL. I., with deep interest, and wish to express to you my hearty thanks for it. While not ready to give unqualified consent to all its contents, I can see no reason for rejecting the main tenor of its teachings. Some time ago I was led to the investigation of the dogma of eternal torment, as the destiny of all who die without the saving knowledge of Christ, and was obliged to confess that it lacked scriptural foundation; and so was constrained to change my manner of preaching, to conform more to the infallible Word – "the only rule," according to the standards of our church, Presbyterian. With the discovery that I did not know as much as I had supposed, I was led also to see more clearly that I am to call no man master.
While reading your book, I thought of some of the brethren – wishing that they might give it a careful perusal. There is so much in it that all true Christians must agree upon – the redemption from sin by Christ, the supreme authority of the Word. Dr. J. H. Brooks, of St. Louis, editor of 'The Truth,' is an old friend, an honest, sincere man, and fearless in defence of what he believes to be truth; but his articles on "Future Punishment" and "Annihilation" some months ago, I thought marked by a spirit of intolerance, bigotry and unfairness – tending rather to demolish than establish his own doctrines.
Spurgeon's sermons I have delighted to read, as of a man taught much by the Spirit, but, I have noted occasional hellfire utterances of the old stamp, with sneers at those who did not believe in them, yet without proof from holy Scripture. Yet he is not too bigoted to read a book advocating different views from his own, and hails as a brother one who holds the cardinal doctrines of Christianity. I wish both these brethren might read your book, and if they would only look into it a little, I think, they would not be satisfied to leave it unread. Praying that the Spirit of truth may guide you and me into all truth, Fraternally,
A raveled rain-bow overhead
Lets down to earth its varying thread.
Love's blue, joy's gold; and fair between
Hope's shifting light of emerald green.
On either side in deep relief
A crimson pain, a violet grief.
Wouldst thou amid their gleaming hues
Snatch after those, and these refuse?
Believe, could thine anointed eyes
Follow their lines, and sound the skies,
There where the fadeless glories shine
Thine unseen Savior twists the twine!
And be thou sure what tint soe'er
The broken ray beneath may wear
It needs them all that fair and white
His love may weave the perfect light.
AN Exchange asks: "When Paul says, 'Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be destroyed' (Rom. 6:6), what force could there be in such a crucifixion with Christ unless his crucifixion had reference to the same end – the death of sin? Or what meaning could there be in the next verse which says 'For he that is dead is freed from sin.' Was Christ freed from sin by death? In some sense he must have been, or the words would be without meaning. And this idea is not gained by mere inference. The tenth verse asserts it, 'For in that he died he died unto sin once, but in that he liveth he liveth unto God.' Some have endeavored to modify, we might say weaken this statement by translating it, 'In that he died he died by sin etc.' But the whole passage shows that the old translation is correct, as for instance the question 'How can we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?' This shows that the point is leaving the sin state. This is confirmed by the eleventh and following verses, the exhortation of which is based on the statement of the tenth verse that Christ died TO SIN: 'Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body that ye should obey it.'" – World's Hope.
Though, at the first glance, the above seems to fit as it is applied, upon closer examination we will find it seriously out of joint in several particulars, chief among which is its unavoidable implication that our Lord, the holy, harmless, undefiled, was a sinner and died to sin as our example, to show us how to die to it. The writer of the above extract evidently saw the conflict between other Scriptures and the construction he was putting upon Rom. 6:6-11, and attempts to shield himself and his theory by saying "If the above position, based on Rom. 6, teaches that Christ was a sinner, it is the Apostle that so taught. We simply quoted his words. To some it may seem that the apostle contradicted himself [Heb. 4:15], but we do not so regard it."
Assuredly, we answer, If the Apostle at one time (and the entire Scripture as well), teaches that our Lord was never anything else than holy and undefiled, and if in Rom. 6 he declares that he died to sin, that is, ceased from sin, he certainly did contradict himself. And if our contemporary is correct, its discovery of this contradiction would amount to a proof that Paul was not inspired, and lead to the expurgation of all his writings from the Bible. But there stands the word if, and we venture the assertion that the discord and contradiction is all in our contemporary's theory and the construction it forces upon the apostle's words in Rom. 6, in its endeavor to use those words to support its theory. Note carefully, then, the following exegesis of the Apostle's words, in harmony with the unanimous testimony of Scripture that our Lord had no sin to die to, or cease from.
To pick up a fragment of a discourse on any deep subject and attempt to apply it, without being aware of the underlying principle and fact upon which it is based, would more than likely lead to a false interpretation of it; and so with the apostle Paul's deep reasoning on the greatest of all sciences. We must first get his bearings and understand something of what he discourses upon, before we can know assuredly his meaning when he uses figures of speech as in this discourse.
That the epistle to the Romans was written to all the Church of believers in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints, and was intended as a vindication of the plan of God and his dealings with the world, Israel, and the gospel Church, past, present and future, is evident from the first chapter. In its conclusion he shows that God cannot be held responsible for the ignorance and degradation of the world, especially the heathen, for they had degraded themselves, and blotting out the image of God, had come to resemble more the beasts. God simply gave them over, or did not interfere with them. Paul shows that God is not guilty of producing the sin and degradation, but that the entire responsibility rests upon man: upon Adam the representative first, and upon all since who wilfully departed further and further from God. He lays this broad premise in order to show afterward that God was just, and that man has no claim upon him for recovery (salvation or restitution) from this fallen and degraded state of condemnation and death.
Having shown up thus the state of the heathen world, Paul turns to the Jews, and in chapter 2, shows that they have no ground for claiming anything from God, – they could no more claim that they had a right to life everlasting, and salvation (restitution) to original perfection than the heathen. The giving of a perfect law to a man does not justify him – if he would be justified to life under the law given him he must keep it perfectly (ver. 13). And if he violated but one of its precepts he could claim nothing under it, but must be condemned as a violator, unworthy of life. (Jas. 2:10.) Hence the Apostle argues that while the Jew had a special Law on stones given him, which the heathen world did not have, yet they were not so much advantaged thereby as they had supposed; for if a man, not a Jew, could do perfectly the will of God, he would be acceptable with God (v. 26), and this and no more the Law offered to the Jew. God knew from the first what experience has since demonstrated to all men, namely, that because of our weakness and fallen dispositions inherited, none can live up to God's perfect law, no, nor even up to his own warped idea of RIGHT.
Chapter 3 shows how the Law given to the Jew, though of no advantage in the way of justifying them to salvation (restitution) from death, was of great benefit as an educator to show them their own weakness and their need of salvation, by grace (favor) and not by law and merit. He on the other hand shows that the Jew is in no worse case than the Gentile, for all are under sin, all are condemned, all are unworthy of life; as it is expressed by the prophet, "There is none righteous, no, not one." – See Rom. 3:9,10.
So then he argues, the Law, written to the Jew and unwritten to the heathen, condemns all the world as guilty and unworthy of life, and silences them from any reply as appeal from this eminently just verdict. – Verses 19 and 20.
The Apostle then introduces faith in Christ as a door of hope for all, both Jews and Gentiles. He says, But now, aside from the Law [though in perfect harmony with it], God has provided a plan [for man's recovery] in perfect harmony with justice; and under this plan it is, that favor and recovery is offered, conditioned on faith in Jesus Christ – to all that believe; for there is no distinction, all are fallen sinners. And this plan which God has adopted and put into operation, aside from the Law, but in perfect harmony with its spirit, is this: He will justify, clear from guilt, freely, by his divine favor [not because of their merit, but] THROUGH THE REDEMPTION accomplished in Christ Jesus; whom he set forth as the one in whom satisfaction was made, for all who exercise faith in his blood (verses 24-26). Thus God not only exhibits his love for his condemned creatures, but He makes it at the same time an exhibition of his own unswerving justice, while enabling him justly to forgive sins that are past as well as those that are present. This plan was so arranged that in releasing the sinner from the penalty justly upon him, and giving him another, an individual trial for life or death, God might still be just, and his law be manifested to all as unchangeable and perfect, even when pardoning the sinners he had once condemned, who by faith laid hold of Jesus as their justifier from their guilt and condemnation.
Ah! who can boast now? (ver. 27.) All boasting of works of charity, all boasting of the slaying of sin in one's self, is shut out; for by the terms of this plan of God, each must confess at the outstart that he is a sinner and POWERLESS to justify himself [R930 : page 3] before God, in any sense, or by any works: he must fling from him, all hope of self-justification in order to grasp with both hands, life, favor, forgiveness and reconciliation as an unmerited favor of God, obtainable through faith in the merit and sacrifice of Christ, and in no other way.
In Chapter 4 Paul shows that favor in response to faith and not as a reward for works, has in all the past been foreshadowed as being God's plan for reconciling the world to himself. David attests this when he says, "Happy are they whose iniquities are forgiven and whose sins are covered; happy the man to whom the Lord shall not impute his sins." Our sins by the arrangement of God are imputed to the Lamb of God, who "bore our sins in his own body on the tree" – "died for our sins."
Nor is there ground for supposing that this favor of forgiveness was to come only to those under the Law (Israel) whose sign was circumcision, for Abraham himself received the promise of a blessing to all nations through his posterity before he was circumcised. No; the plan of God embraces all who believe, for Jesus our Lord was delivered to death for our trespasses and raised from it for our justification (ver. 25).
Having proved the justification (clearing from guilt and condemnation) of all believers, in chapter 4, the Apostle in chapter 5 exhorts all believers to rest upon Christ's finished work on our behalf. Realizing our forgiveness and acceptance through him, let us cease from picking our own characters and those of our fellow saints to pieces by the Law, which we could not keep, but which Christ kept for us. It is our hearts' intentions and best endeavors that we must look to now, and not expect absolute perfection of thought, word and deed. If we grasp God's free favor and forgiveness through Christ, we must let go of the Law entirely and abandon all hope of self-justification, else we will not have full peace with God. Therefore having been justified (cleared, forgiven) by faith, we may have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (verse 1.) And in addition to the peace we obtain through being justified or cleared of guilt before God, we have more, we also then gain access into the additional favor (wherein we now are rejoicing) of hope and opportunity for gaining a share with Christ in the glory soon to be bestowed upon our Lord and Redeemer (verse 2). In other words, we are granted the privilege of walking in his footsteps, following our Lord and being associated with him as joint-sacrifices and joint-sufferers in the present, as well as joint-heirs of future glory. And this enables us to rejoice even in present tribulations. – Verse 3.
This favor of God is so great that we might reasonably doubt it, but reflect, says Paul, how much he loved us and did for us while we were yet sinners: It was while we were enemies that he gave the price of our reconciliation and opened the door to our acceptance with God – much more now that WE ARE RECONCILED we may readily believe and accept of all the marvelous favors promised us as followers of the Lamb who justified us. – Verses 6-11.
In order to see clearly the firm foundation upon which our reconciliation rests, consider the philosophy of the plan of God. Note that all were condemned in one man, Adam, and see now the same principle operating for our release, for all are justified through the obedient sacrifice of Christ, as all were condemned through the disobedient act of Adam (verses 12-20). The law covenant given to the Jew has nothing whatever to do with this plan of free favor extended to all, on condition of their acceptance of Christ as the satisfaction for sin. That law was given (ver. 20,21) that the sin and weakness of the race might be more fully recognized; it did not cure sin, but exposed it, showed it up. But where sin was greatest, because of greatest light to see it, there God's favor was great in proportion, and the light to recognize it was fullest.
What then, shall we say, seeing that God's favor is thus bountiful, and covers sins past and weaknesses present and future? Shall we feel indifferent on the subject, and transgress when we please, trusting to God's provision for our forgiveness in Christ? No, God forbid. Rather, seeing the evil of sin, seeing that it cost the death of our Lord as our substitute, our ransom, we should regard that substitute's death "for our sins" as though it was our former sinful selves that had died. In that Christ has paid our penalty for us, we should regard the sin which caused his death, as though it had caused our death once and we had gotten free from it. We should repulse and oppose sin as our great enemy, which had once caused our death. How could we, under such circumstances, take pleasure in sinning, and thus attempt to take advantage of the favor and forgiveness provided us in Christ, to continue in sin?
While this is a good reason why all believers should abstain from (wilful) sinning, some of us have another and still more powerful reason for abstaining from sin, says Paul (verse 5): I refer to those of us who after being justified from sin by our Lord's sacrifice, advanced another step and consecrated ourselves to walk in his footsteps, to drink of his cup of ignominy, reproach and dishonor; and to be baptized [immersed] into his death, that thus sharing with him his sufferings and death, we might according to God's promise be reckoned overcomers and joint-heirs with him, and [R930 : page 4] granted a share with him in the "divine nature" in his future glory and kingdom. "Know ye not that so many of us as are baptized [immersed] into Jesus Christ [as members of his body] are immersed into his death?" It is by consecrating ourselves entirely to him, [after being cleansed from sin by his blood], reckoning ourselves dead to the world and alive in God's service even unto death, as he did, that we gain a place in his "body" and become joint-heirs with him. And in thus becoming dead with him, we trust the Father's promise of also having a share in his resurrection (see Phil. 3:8-15); a resurrection not to human nature, such as others will enjoy, but to the fulness of the divine nature, "like him" and "with him." And this is illustrated in our water immersion, which to us thus symbolizes our death with Christ: our rising from the water symbolizing our coming resurrection as new creatures. For if we are sharers in his sacrifice, his death, we shall unquestionably share also in his resurrection. – Verses 3-5.
Realizing the matter thus, – that our former selves as justified human beings are delivered up to die (be crucified) with Christ, as the condition upon which we may be associated with him, in the great work of utterly rooting out and destroying Sin, the great Monarch, at present ruling the world, we must see that we can no longer, in any sense, serve Sin, the Destroyer, whom we are pledged to help overthrow. (ver. 6.)* We once were sin's slaves, but we were justified or released from his dominion [by Christ] before we consecrated ourselves to die with Christ [consecrated to death as our baptism showed, v. 4], because we believed we should be granted life with him. – Verse 8.
For Christ, though he had our sins reckoned to him, or "laid upon him," and though he died for our sins, is no longer subject to death since his resurrection. For the death which he died was because of sin [our sins] once for all, while his life since resurrection, as a spiritual being, is a gift of God. And so we must reckon ourselves, though [after being first justified by his sacrifice] we be joined with our Lord in the great sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, like him, our sin-bearing and suffering, is not for our own sins [which were blotted out by his sacrifice] but for the sins of others, even as was his death. And, let us thus keep on reckoning ourselves in our entire course, as represented and illustrated by our Leader, in whose footprints we are walking. Let us reckon ourselves dead to all things earthly, hopes, ambitions, and often comforts; cut off from them all, crucified to them all, by or because of Sin. Thus we will hate Sin, and do our utmost to destroy it.
And reckon your life as a new gift of God, as a life not subject to Sin, and not under bondage to Sin in any sense, but wholly subject to the will of God. And thus viewing Sin as the foe you are dying to destroy, and God as the new Master who promises life, let not Sin REIGN in your mortal body, let it not control you. True, sometimes it may overtake you and stumble you through the weakness of the flesh, but see that you encourage it not. Let not your mortal body, nor any talent or power you possess come into the service of this your enemy, but bring your talents more and more into the active service of the new master – God. – Verses 11-14.
What then shall we say to the original question (verses 1, and 15), Shall we sin because we are not under the Law but under favor through Christ? By no means; for though we claim to have changed over from being the servants of Sin, our former master, to be the servants of God, yet if we are really and willingly serving Sin and forwarding it, we are really its servants, [R931 : page 4] no matter what profession we have made of a change. His servants we are to whom we render service. But, thank God, your change is not merely a change in name or profession, but a change indeed. You obeyed the doctrine delivered to you [laying hold by faith upon Christ's sacrifice for your sins], and were thus set free from sin, and then by consecration ye became the servants of righteousness. Now, remember to be as faithful to your new service, to your new master, as you were formerly to your old master, Sin. As formerly you disregarded the claims of God upon your time and talents, now disregard and ignore the claims of Sin.
You know how much evil fruit you bore while in Sin's service, for the reward of death; see, now, how much fruit you can bring forth in your new service whose end is lasting life. The wages of Sin is death, but God's free gift through the anointed one is lasting life. – Verses 17-23.
Carefully compare the above with the first six chapters of Romans, and then note the gross error of the exposition of Rom. 6 by our Exchange quoted in the beginning of this article. To one who is wholly ignorant of the plan of salvation revealed in the Scriptures, or who forgets all the other testimony of the preceding five chapters, our Exchange's theory might be delusive. To such, its claim that the plan of salvation is, that each sinner shall slay his own sinful nature as Christ slew his sinful nature, and that thus each should commend himself to God or justify himself, might seem to find support in Rom. 6. Such erroneous teaching would indeed be delusive to the worldly, for their ideas always have run in that direction. They always have desired to justify themselves by works of their own, or what they term the sacrificing of their sins, and have disdained or ignored God's favor as a free gift secured to them by Christ's sacrifice. Thus it has ever been – the cross, the sacrifice of Christ for our sins, has been from the first what it is to-day, – "To the Jew a stumblingblock and to the Greek [worldly-wise] foolishness." But to us it still is, what it was to the apostles – "The power of God and the wisdom of God." – 1 Cor. 1:24.
The idea of a sinner sacrificing his sins to God, as our Exchange claims, is too foolish for a heathen mind to entertain. The Bible everywhere declares, in types as well as literal statements, that blemished or imperfect sacrifices are not acceptable to God. Over and over again the Israelites were told that their sacrifices for sin must be without spot or blemish, to typify the perfect sacrifice for our sins, which our Lord gave.
Cannot all see, then, that we could have no share in Christ's sacrifice as members of his "body," until first we had been cleansed or justified by his sacrifice – by his blood, shed for the remission of our sins?
Who is so blinded with prejudice that he cannot see that the apostle, in Romans, sixth chapter, is not addressing sinners, but saints? He is not, therefore, telling them how they should justify themselves by crucifying their sins, but he is telling those who are already justified by faith in the sacrifice of Christ, how they have consecrated to death in God's service their former selves – the "old" or former manhood which Christ had justified fully and freely and made acceptable as a sacrifice. Remembering that our former selves (as human beings – justified) are crucified with Christ, and remembering why we so consecrated – that we as new creatures in Christ might be members of the "body of Christ," whose great work is to destroy the adversary – "the body of Sin," we therefore cannot consent to serve or obey, in any sense, the great enemy, from whose control Christ's redemption has delivered us, and whose empire we are pledged with Christ to destroy.
Thus seen, "our old man" which is crucified (consecrated to death) with Christ is not the "body of Sin" (verse 6). Far from it, the "Body of Sin" is a figurative personification of Evil or Sin, the great enslaver and destroyer of our race, while our old man represents our justified manhood, which we consecrated to death, in order that thus sharing with Christ in his death as a ransom for all, (to deliver all from Sin, the Destroyer) we might share also with Christ as the great Deliverer and Restorer of the race. Such should no longer be slaves of Sin (ver. 2); for he that hath died with Christ (as symbolized in baptism, verses 4 and 5) was first released or justified from Sin by Christ, and should now seek life with Christ, and not again to Sin for its wages of death. He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear.
"When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." – John 19:30.
Down to his very latest breath his mind was clear, as shown by every expression during those hours of agony on the cross. There he preached the gospel to the dying thief – "Verily...thou shalt be with me in Paradise;" he commended his weeping mother to the care of the beloved John; and when in the last agonies of death he cried, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" And then again his clearness of intellect, and his complete submission to, and trust in God, and his desire to utter a last word of instruction to his followers is manifested in his very last words, "It is finished; Father into thy hands I commend my spirit."
If such was our Lord's dying effort to make this last announcement, how carefully should we consider his words. What was finished there? Taking the standpoint of this dreadful moment we find him in prayer referring to the same thing a few days before, saying, "I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do" (John 17:11,4). Referring again to his death (John 12:27) he said, "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? But for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name."
Then it was for this cause – viz., death, as the world's sin-bearer, for the world's redemption – that he came to that hour; and this was what he finished when he bowed his head and gave up the spirit of life – existence. There it was finished; the substitute, the corresponding or equivalent price for the life of Adam and all who lost life through him, was paid. The death penalty which could not be annulled, was thus assumed and paid by another, and henceforth that glorious fact was to be made known to all. Our dying Lord with his latest breath was the first one to proclaim the glorious message – "It is finished;" and after his resurrection he sent his disciples forth to tell to every nation the same blessed truth.
The other side of the great work of atonement yet remains to be accomplished, viz., the converting of the world to God. By this sacrifice which was finished on Calvary, the way of access to God was opened up; the claims of justice were fully met, "That God might be just and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus." (Rom. 3:36.) And now God can receive all who come unto him acknowledging the merit of the sacrifice and trusting for acceptance through it. The promise that the Redeemer will shortly take control of the world, open the sin and prejudice blinded eyes and bind or restrain their great deceiver, is but another way of assuring us that this great truth – the ransom – so necessary to be believed, shall be testified to all in due time (1 Tim. 2:6), when all shall have full opportunity of accepting it.
It was not often that Paul turned aside from what he considered the work of first importance – viz., the care and teaching of the church – to exhort those of the world to righteousness and temperance. But whenever a favorable opportunity offered, to instruct those of the world without interfering with his special work, Paul was quick to see and to improve it, and did it with all the fervor of his earnest soul. The rule which he gave to us – "Do good unto all men as you have opportunity, ESPECIALLY to the household of faith" – he strictly observed in his own course. His care and labor for the church were constant and untiring, literally wearing out his life.
Seeing the breadth and scope of God's plan, Paul realized that the church developed during this age, is to be the instrumentality for the conversion and blessing of the world in the next age, and that therefore the great and all-important work of the present time is the teaching, training and developing of the meek of the earth, who gladly receive the truth and constitute [R932 : page 4] the church of God. It was this same knowledge of the order and arrangement of God's great plan of the ages, which enabled our Lord to devote his attention almost entirely to the meek, to whom he said he was called to preach. (Luke 4:18.) Though he loved the balance of the world still enveloped in darkness and steeped in sin, he also knew that his Father so loved the world, while they were yet sinners, as to devise a plan broad enough to bless every son and daughter of Adam with a full opportunity to regain the right and title to everlasting life, in his own due time.
Both Paul and Jesus worked in harmony with that plan, and the results of the labors of each during his lifetime looked small. Jesus had gathered about him and spent the greater part of his time, in instructing a few disciples, all of whom forsook him and fled in the hour of his sorest trial. And Paul's labors for the church were often misunderstood even by those for whom he was sacrificing every earthly good. And so with the labors of all the [R932 : page 5] saints: the glorious fruitage of their sacrifice and toil will only be manifested, when the rich harvests of both the Gospel and Millennial ages have been gathered in.
But we want here to notice particularly Paul's preaching to Felix, a Roman Governor before whom he stood to be judged. Felix was not a Christian in any sense and therefore Paul had nothing to say of the Christian's higher hopes and privileges, nor did he even present the foundation truth of the gospel – Redemption through the crucified Christ. For none of these things was Felix yet prepared. Paul realized this, and concluded to give only such truths as he was prepared to understand and appreciate. There was no attempt on this or any other occasion to scare the unbeliever with threats of eternal torment, if he did not embrace the doctrine of Christianity; for this was not true. This base blasphemy against God found no place in the theology of Paul's day; he knew nothing about it.
Paul took the most sensible and proper course with Felix. He took his standpoint of observation, and showed how even from his standpoint righteousness and temperance was the wisest course for any man to pursue. He took what truth Felix already admitted and showed the reasonable deductions which should be drawn therefrom by every thinking man. For instance, any man, whether he believes in Christ or not, unless he is a fool (Psa. 14:1), which probably Felix was not, believes there is a God, wise and good and powerful, the Creator of all things. This much nature alone teaches. And if this be true it follows that he is the rightful Sovereign over all his works, and that all beings are subject to his control. These being the plain inferences even from the light of nature, it follows that at some time, God will call men to account for their present course of action; and a righteous God will surely punish evil deeds. And therefore righteousness, and temperance in all things, at the present time, is the wisest course even if the future be but very vaguely and indefinitely seen.
But Paul had something more than mere reasonings from the light of nature on this subject: he had positive proof of a coming judgment, when all of the wrongs of the present time must be accounted for and righted, and fearful, he knew, would be the penalty of those who heaped iniquity upon iniquity and added crime to crime; for every man must receive a just recompence of reward for his deeds, whether they be good or evil.
It is a very common thing to hear the defenders of the old dogmas about human destiny upbraiding those who dare to call them in question, as if they were not satisfied to leave the future of the heathen, and all such questions, where the Bible leaves them, when it asks, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" Such critics ought to know that this question is a very different one from the inquiry. Are our standards right in their precise definitions of what the Judge of the earth intends to do? If the standards left this whole question on this ground of absolute faith in God, no one would have the right to say a word against them. But they do not. They define in precise terms that he will raise up the wicked, whose souls are in hell, and send them back to hell to be punished with unspeakable torments of soul and body, without intermission, in hell fire with the devil and his angels forever. It is a dishonest evasion of the issue to charge one who raises the question, whether these words perfectly represent the whole teaching of Scripture upon this subject, with an unwillingness to submit to its teaching, or, still worse, to impugn his motives, as if he were distrustful of the righteousness of God. And the men who bring this accusation may well inquire whether this show of zeal for a principle which no one questions may not be a pretence behind which they hide from themselves and others the inconsistency of standing by doctrinal formulas which they no longer preach.– Words of Reconciliation.
"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." – Heb. 12:14.
Seeing the cold, lifeless formality that increasingly prevails in the nominal church, the evident lack of growth in grace, and its growing disposition to imbibe the spirit and conform to the customs, ideas, etc., of the world, many of God's children, still fettered in a measure by her supposed divine authority, are becoming interested in what is generally termed the holiness movement. Holiness meetings, holiness camp-meetings, conventions, etc., as well as holiness periodicals are becoming quite common.
That the movement is one actuated by right motives, and measurably in the right direction, we do not question; yet, were these courageous enough to cast off the slavish fetters of Babylon, and to walk out fearlessly into the liberty wherewith Christ has made them free, trusting in him alone, they would come much nearer the true idea of holiness. Holiness means a setting apart, sanctifying, separating from the world, by divine authority, and for the accomplishment of the divine purposes. That holiness means separation from the world all will agree, though few consult the Scriptures sufficiently to know to what intent the Lord would have them separate.
May we not be separate from the world and still be far from the narrow path to which we have been called? The class termed holiness people, generally believe, that their single aim should be to so subdue sin in themselves as to be able to stand approved of God, being in complete conformity to all his requirements in thought, word and deed. Some claim to have reached this desirable perfection, while others, painfully conscious of their weakness and discouraged by their repeated efforts and failures, are almost in despair of ever reaching it. And not discerning the Lord's purpose in calling them to separation from the world, they fall into the error of looking upon these efforts as a means to their salvation. Many become self-righteous and boastful of their attainments, and consequent hopes of salvation, while the more humble, discouraged, almost lose faith in God and entertain but a faint, indefinite hope of salvation.
After all the lessons given, it should be plain to all, that no imperfect man is able to keep blamelessly God's perfect law. The law is the full measure of a perfect man's ability, and Adam and Jesus were the only perfect men, and hence the only two, who could keep it. Israel tried it for nearly two thousand years, and though that people have furnished us many worthy examples, not one of them was able to merit life by keeping the law, save Jesus only. The very object of the giving of the law to men, who were unable to keep it, was to convince of shortcomings, and to lead to trust in Christ, alone, for salvation. It is only self-deception to claim actual perfection, though the weakest child of God, clothed with the imputed merit of Christ, is reckoned perfect by our Father.
This trusting in the merit of Christ, and striving to live in exact harmony with his revealed will, implies the diligent searching of the Scriptures to know what that will is, and this is the true life of holiness – of separation from the world – and of union and communion with God. Such cannot help bearing fruit.
It should be borne in mind, that the statement of Heb. 12:14 is addressed to the Church. The Church were taught to look for the Lord's appearing, which Paul explained would be in a manner unobserved by the world, and as a thief in the night. When his presence is due, only those will be able to see (Gr., horao – discern) it, who are separate from the world in spirit, and who are searching the Scriptures to know the signs of his presence. Without holiness [separation, setting apart to God's service] no man shall see [discern] the Lord.
But a time is coming, when many who are not holy, will discern the Lord's presence; for we are told, that "every eye shall see him." The world will see – recognize him, when his judgments make his presence manifest to all. – Isa. 26:9.
This text (Heb. 12:14.) has very frequently been misused in urging the world to become Christians. Christian people who have not carefully considered its meaning, tell the world that without holiness they shall not see the Lord; and then, when controverting the truth as to the manner of Christ's coming, the very same class will confidently quote, "Every eye shall see him." Do they believe that all shall become holy? No; this is far from their thought. Where then is the harmony? Is there discord in the statements of God's Word? To believe so is to believe the Scriptures unsound and unworthy of confidence. But such is the sad confusion into which the teaching of the nominal church has led, and such the results which its too careless handling of the word of God has brought about. The confusion is fast ripening into open infidelity.
May God help his children to see the confusion, and then courageously to come out of it and pursue holiness, without which no man shall be able to discern the Lord's second presence, until it is manifested in judgement and retribution.
This is a very common proverb, and one very generally admitted to be correct; and it is correct, if we consider the ultimate consequences; but if we consider the immediate consequences it is not always true. It is the immediate consequences that are generally considered, however, and therefore a dishonest course is very often decided upon by worldly people, who seldom look far beyond the present.
But strange to say, the ultimate consequences are not always considered even by some of the consecrated children of God, and almost unconsciously, they sometimes pursue a dishonest course, considering it the best policy in view of the immediate consequences. We do not believe for a moment, that any sincere Christian would knowingly and deliberately act dishonestly, and yet it is necessary that we should specially guard ourselves on this point. There are many ways of acting dishonestly, deceptively, aside from business matters, in which dollars and cents are concerned. It is just as blameworthy to deal dishonestly with the truth, as to do so with dollars and cents; and yet with many there seems to be a great temptation to do it. It generally arises from a tendency towards approbativeness, a desire to be thought well of; and it is a great hindrance to real progress in the knowledge of the truth. When several are met together for Bible study, the tempter often whispers to one and another, Now, here is the place to win your laurels in Bible exegesis; now state your opinion and stick to it; don't let that insignificant little brother or sister there change your mind and prove your mental caliber inferior; if you are even driven to the wall in argument, don't own up to it, gloss it over with a few ecstatic expressions to divert attention from the real issue of the argument, and thus make your doubtful position appear more plausible at least.
The temptation is a severe one to some, and almost before they have time to recognize it as a temptation, or to hear the voice of conscience protesting against it, they have yielded to it; and a few repetitions of the same thing soon confirms the habit. Thus erroneous ideas become stereotyped, and no reasoning, however forcible and scriptural, can change them. Beyond these barriers of self-deception we cannot grow. We may have grown rapidly, before we set up these barriers, but further growth in the direction thus blocked up, is impossible.
This is not the teachable, humble, childlike spirit, which can be led step by step along the narrow way. The narrow way is too narrow to admit of pride and vain-glory. Every child of God should strive against these, especially where self-examination reveals an inherited or acquired tendency in that direction.
Aside from personal considerations, the effect upon others of this double dealing with God's truth, is dangerous. Some will quickly discern the selfish principle which vaunts itself at the expense of the truth, and will begin to lose confidence in the Christian character and integrity of the erring brother or sister, while others will be confused and hindered in their efforts to comprehend the truth. Few have keen perceptive powers and the majority need to be helped, not hindered in the way.
"Let saints be on their guard,
Ten thousand foes arise.
The hosts of sin are pressing hard
To draw them from the prize.
"O! watch and fight and pray.
The battle ne'er give o'er,
Renew it boldly every day,
And help divine implore."
"I have the best lot of people in my church I have ever met with. They get up entertainments, suppers and dinners which are models of their kind. They pay their bills with more promptness than any people I ever saw. In fact, they do everything in the world except the things for which the church was legitimately designed. And what can I do about it?"
The church certainly was never intended to be a restaurant or a place for fashionable entertainments.– Presbyter. Banner.
There is one fact which is beyond all controversy; and that is, that in the early ages of the church, the hope, the principal hope, of the church was the return of her Lord. It is an equally incontestible fact that this faith faded and died; and it is only in our own days that it has risen to any great extent. For ages the church slumbered and slept, and was not aware of any such hope as the return of the Lord. What was the reason that this hope sank and disappeared? There is no effect without a cause. It is an unquestionable fact that this hope, which was so bright, the hope of the church, disappeared. What was the cause? This I think is a legitimate inquiry, one which we are bound to face. Can we suppose that the blessed hope died from inanition, that it was insufficient to comfort the church? I think it is not possible to take such a view as that. It has always been a living hope, one that has been able to purify the affections, and support the Christian in the midst of his trials. It could not sink for that reason. It is also equally impossible to suppose it would have been dropped unless some other hope had taken its place. The Church could not land itself in a hopeless position. It must always have a hope. What was it, then? I speak a fact that is incontestible, that the cause of the disappearance of this hope of the Church was the introduction of the doctrine of natural immortality. There is no question of the fact. It is sometimes said that the reason was that, when Constantine became a Christian, the idea got abroad that the Church and the world were to be one, and that with the spread of the Christian Empire with a Christian Emperor at its head, a triumphant Church would become universal. That no doubt, had its effect upon Christian truth. But we must go further back than that, if we wish to trace the source of this error. It goes back to the third century. Men – philosophers of the Greek school – were not willing to give up their heathen philosophies. Therefore they made a sort of compromise between heathenism and Christianity; and the man who thus signalized himself was Origen, who, of all the early Fathers, did most to mystify and degrade Christian truth.
This philosophy taught that instead of receiving the gift of life from Christ alone, we have the element of it within us already, that we have the Divine essence, that cannot go out, and that we live, whether we accept God's offer or not, as long as God lives. It is false. It is not taught in the Book of God. But it was the introduction of this that did havoc with that grand and glorious hope of the return of the Lord. Just think of it. It worked its own natural result. Men could not possibly believe that they themselves possessed natural immortality, and yet look with anxious hope for a return of the Life-giver. The two positions are irreconcilable. And here you have the cause and the effect. I put it to you to consider it.
Further, we find that the resurrection suffered the same process of being put away as an active and definite hope of the Christian. The two things are inseparable. A man believes that he possesses life in himself; and it is all one to him whether the resurrection takes place sooner or later. But let a man be fully persuaded that on the return of Christ and on the resurrection of the dead depends all; that unless the Lord come, then there is no hope for him, I say it is impossible for him to put off to an indefinite future the return of his Lord.
In 1 Cor. 15 the apostle Paul speaks of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He supposes for a moment that Christ had not risen, and the consequences that would have followed; and he sums up a telling argument in these words, concerning those who had fallen asleep in Christ, that if Christ be not risen, then their faith was [R934 : page 6] vain, they were yet in their sins, and "then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished;" and he concludes with saying, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." Therefore, surely, on this is built the whole of the Christian's hopes, that Christ is risen and become the first fruits of them that slept; that on the resurrection of the Christian himself depends the hope of what he looks forward for in the future life.
If you wish to see the danger of the false theology in all its virulence, go to the Church of Rome. There you will find worshipers offering prayer to the dead, to dead men and to dead women, offering perpetually to the Lord of glory as a babe in its mother's arms or as transfixed to the cross. They have forgotten that the Lord is risen from the dead and become the first fruits of them that slept. But, my friends, this whole Roman system is based on the dogma of immortality of the soul. Take away the coming of the Lord from Roman Catholics, and it makes no great difference; but take away the immortal-soul-ism and you sap its existence, you cut off the stream from its source.– Sel.
The Protestant Church repudiates the Pope. It has much to say of the right of private judgement. And yet while it dismisses the Pope at the front door, it admits the Papal principle at the back door. Not content with framing its creeds out of the facts of Christianity, which no true Christian will dispute, the Reformed churches constructed systems of theology into creeds, and substituted for the rule of the Spirit, which is the only true substitute for that of the Pope, the domination of the system. Hence, in them all, there is more or less of this papacy of creed. If any one discovers some new truth out of harmony with its statements, or error inwrought at some point, he must either be silent, or run the risk of loss of standing and preferment, and perhaps of excision. It is amazing, when one reflects upon it, how the Protestant Church has thus abandoned the principles of private judgement, and the liberty of the Spirit, upon which it was based. One need not go far to find churches where honest thought and high aspiration are repressed, where the gates of free inquiry are closed, and new light from the Word of God, and from other sources in Nature and Providence, is barred out. A fatal domination of recognized leaders, keeps the body within the strict lines of its tradition, and puts its ban upon any who dare transcend them; unless, indeed; it be done in some such covert way as not to excite suspicion that the integrity of the system is to be endangered.
To illustrate what we mean. A member of a prominent Presbyterian church remarked that his pastor, in conversing with him upon these themes, told him that he believed a great many things which gave him comfort which, as a Presbyterian minister, he could not preach. The admission has more than once been made to us by brethren of the highest standing that they found relief in the belief that God's ways in redemption were not exhausted in this world, and that sinners who proved irreclaimable under them finally suffer extinction of being. And yet none of these men would dare give public utterance to such convictions. They regard themselves as under a sort of bond not to do so. And certainly their standing in the church would be jeopardized if they did. This is what we mean by Protestant Papacy. How, we would ask, can there be honest progress in the knowledge of the truth, if honest convictions must thus be concealed?– Words of Reconciliation.
Canon Farrar, who is as liberal minded as he is fearless and able, in a recent sermon declared that where England made one Christian in heathen lands, she made a hundred drunkards. This was a bold assertion – almost too bold to at first seem true, but the more one examines into it and reads the authorities upon the conditions and recent history of the uncivilized countries where missionary effort has been directed, the more painfully truthful does the statement become. Of course, the reports sent out by missionaries give a more sanguine coloring, but with all due respect to the zeal and self-sacrifice of these worthy gentlemen, the way to arrive at a true appreciation of the situation is to examine all the evidence. When that is done it will be found that what Canon Farrar has said was not a false alarm, but a great evil that the mission work must face squarely and endeavor to remedy.
Remarkable testimony of the correctness of Canon Farrar's assertion comes from an unexpected quarter. Mr. Joseph Thomson is a distinguished African traveller. He has conducted three expeditions in East Central Africa. He is a Christian, thoroughly imbued with the spirit and interests of his religion. He goes further than Canon Farrar, and says: "For every African who is influenced for good by Christianity, a thousand are driven into deeper degradation by the gin trade." He declares that four hundred years of contact with Europeans have only succeeded, along the greater part of the coast, in raising a taste for gin, rum, gunpowder and guns. Mr. Thomson says he had seen so much of this sort of thing that he began to believe that the negro was not capable of development. But when he reached the heart of Africa, his pessimism suffered a severe shock. These are his words:
"I could hardly believe I was not dreaming when I looked around me and found large, well-built cities, many of them containing 10,000 to 30,000 inhabitants. The people themselves, picturesquely and voluminously dressed, moved about with that self-possessed, sober dignity which bespeaks the man who has a proper respect for himself. I saw on all sides the signs of an industrious community, differentiated into numerous crafts – evidence sufficient to show, how far advanced they were on the road to civilization. I heard the rattle, the tinkle, and the musical clang of the workers in iron, in brass, and in copper. I could see cloth being made in one place, and dyed, or sewn into gowns or other articles of dress in other places. In the markets crowded with eager thousands, I could see how varied were the wants of these negro people, how manifold the productions of their industry, and how keen their business instincts. Almost more remarkable than anything else, no native beer or spirits, nor European gin and rum, found place in their markets. Clearly there were no buyers, and therefore no sellers."
What had caused this? Christianity? No, it was Mohammedanism; and not only had it done that, but it had established schools, built churches and made the people as devout as they are prosperous.– Baltimore American.
All this teaches three important lessons. First, It shows the folly of calling any of the "kingdoms of this world" Christian kingdoms. These kingdoms and the masses of the people would do anything for money and power. Whatever good is done is not to be credited to these kingdoms, but to the "Salt of the earth" in them.
Secondly, It blasts the hope which so many seem to cherish, that the missionary and civilizing progress of the present century, if kept up, would in a few thousand years bring about the Millennium of peace. It shows that vice is spreading more rapidly than Christianity and the same is attested in other ways. It proves that, if God is waiting for the church militant to bring about the Millennium, we need not expect it ever. Thank God, that we see his plan more clearly – that by making bare the arm of his power, He is even now about to overthrow, (in a great time of trouble) every agency of evil and corruption, degradation and sin, and to give "the dominion under the whole heavens" to the saints – the anointed Church triumphant, of which Christ Jesus is the head and Lord.
Thirdly, We should draw the lesson that morality and Christianity are not the same thing, as so many seem to suppose. While all true Christians practice morality, all who live a moral life are not Christians. These moral, temperate Mohammedan negroes of Africa, described above, have daily and hourly in their pleasures, comforts, etc., a reward for their morality and obedience to laws of nature, but they are not Christians. A Christian is one who after believing in and accepting of the RANSOM provided for him, in the death of the perfect "man Christ Jesus," comes into harmony and communion with God. Strictly speaking no others are Christians. Many others however are nominal Christians, or Christians in name only.
Now that skepticism, in so many varied forms, is assailing our Christian religion, it is eminently proper for all mankind to inquire, – is there anything more certain and sure in which to trust? The wish to trust something or some power outside of and apart from itself, is inherent in the human heart. To throw aside all trust is to blot out any hope in the future, and limit existence to mere mortality. Few will be satisfied by so doing. Almost every individual's future, self-sketched, has in it something beyond mortality's boundary, and is contingent upon some kind of religious belief. That belief which promises most certain fulfilment is the one most earnestly desired.
And while the enemies of Christ seek to do away with all faith in him as the personal Saviour of humanity, and sneer at that grand plan of salvation which has the Crucified Son of God as its central figure, do they offer any faith better and more desirable, any scheme which shall hold a surer guarantee of redemption? Claiming Jesus the Nazarene to have been but the carpenter's son, though a man of exceeding cleverness, do they present for our consideration any other mediator between the All-Father and ourselves? Is there, in the whole range of skeptical philosophy, any theory, promise or hope to which, turning away from God and the Redeemer we believe he sent into the world, the soul can cling with more satisfaction and peace? [R935 : page 7]
These questions cannot be easily answered in the affirmative. Skepticism, trying to tear down the truest and most vital part of Christian faith, has never offered to build up a truer and worthier one, – has never developed any rock upon which mankind may rest with the assurance that it will prove more solid and enduring. Skepticism, atheism, deism, pantheism, infidelism, and all other isms preaching aught beside Christ and him crucified, have as yet failed to do what the simple Christian faith has done, – hold out a hope of eternal life and sustain the believer through manifold afflictions until the hope loses itself in fruition.– Restitution.
The heart that is truly in love with the Master, and which from his word has partaken of his spirit, cannot be either indifferent or idle, and the magnitude of his great work will be the continual spur to activity. The prayer of every such one will be, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? A proper zeal will not engage in mere hap-hazard work, but will diligently study the Lord's plans and methods.
Paul says, "As we have opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." – Gal. 6:10.
Here are three points to be specially observed: First, our obligations are limited to our opportunities. Secondly, our best energies should be devoted as far as possible to the household of faith, while any incidental opportunities for benefiting the world may also be improved, in so far as they may not interfere with the work of special and prime importance. Thirdly, if we can find no opportunities to do good to the household of faith, then all our energies may be devoted to others.
This teaching through Paul thus points out the work for each one, however obscure, or however limited may be his talents. You may be a mother surrounded with the many necessary cares of a large family, or a father whose small earnings by hard toil and long hours are constantly required by the necessities of a family. And these cares may have gathered about you, so as to almost overwhelm you, before you realized your higher calling and work, and they cannot and must not now be cast aside; hence these things are now a part of your duty, and if faithfully performed, as unto the Lord, will be acceptable to him as a token of your love and devotion.
Some mothers may be so constantly and necessarily engaged in their homes as to find very little opportunity for working outside, yet there may be a few neighbors similarly situated with whom they may speak quite frequently. Then here and in your own home is your work. Perhaps not one of them is of the household of faith, and you say, It is of no use to talk to them about these things. They pay no attention and will only think me peculiar. But that will depend in some measure on how wisely you deal with them. To those who have no interest in spiritual things, it would be unwise to talk of spiritual things; for the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit, neither indeed can he, for they are spiritually discerned. But they can understand natural things, such [R935 : page 7] things for instance as relate to the restitution of natural men. Nor can your young children understand beyond this, for they are on the natural plane; but whatever of instruction or discipline they receive now, will be but a part of that general schooling which must ultimately bring them up to perfection. Your work will not be lost, even though death may interrupt it. If it does not make a very large showing in this age, it will appear in the next.
The weary father's evening hours may aid in this delightful and blessed work both in his family and neighborhood; and if on the alert for every opportunity to honor the Master, he may find some either of the household of faith, or of the worldly class, with whom he comes in daily contact, to whom he can communicate some truth, or at least before whom he can let the light of a consistent Christian character shine.
To these opportunities may sometimes be added the writing of letters to distant friends, bearing some portion of the glorious message. And here is a way in which many an invalid even, who is otherwise shut in to a very narrow sphere, may find some opportunity for spreading the good news. And such can often glorify God in the midst of suffering, by patient endurance and unwavering faith, or a word of counsel and cheer to those who attend to their wants. O how many ways there are for letting our light shine, when we begin to recount them; and there are just as many ways of hiding it under a bushel. And perhaps you can think of many other ways of enlarging your sphere of usefulness. It is a part of our privilege and duty to study how we may best invest our talents in order to secure the largest results. This duty is plainly set forth in the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30), and is just as necessary in investing for the Lord, as in investing money for financial profit.
But the classes we have mentioned are some of those of most limited opportunities; and while these, if their devotion to the Lord is very strong, will put their one or two talents to the best use, some may have many more talents and opportunities. Some may have small sized or grown up families, or none, and these with economy of time and arrangements, may find many hours for outside work. You may think before you make the effort that it is of no use, as the people in your community are all wedded to sectarian churches. But is it really so? Have you tested the matter, and proved beyond doubt that there is not one of the real household of faith in your town or village or within reach of you? Have you tested the matter wisely, too?
If so, then you have at least done your part faithfully, and that fact will not escape the Master's notice; be assured of that. But even if this is the case, in all probability there is still a field of usefulness for you in that very neighborhood yet. There are some of the world's children, perhaps very poor, perhaps very ignorant or even degraded. None have ever thought of looking after or caring for them. What an oasis it would seem to them in their desert life, if you, a person of acknowledged respectability would call on them as a friend or neighbor, and not with the air of a charity call.
Many such heard our Master gladly. In all probability they would hear you gladly. Possibly in some localities all of the wheat is gathered out of the nominal church, and you may find no result of your labor or opportunity for further labor in that direction, as they resolutely refuse to hear, though often some of those who oppose for a time, are merely doing so to find the strength of our position. Glorify God, then, by letting them see it. In due time the fruit will appear though it may be very slow. But at least the poor of this world you have always with you. And just here we are reminded of the words of Paul to some of the blinded Jews who wilfully rejected the truth – "It was necessary [a part of God's arrangement] that the Word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth." – Acts 13:46,47.
The anointed ones are set for a light to all the world. Let it shine as much as possible now. If those who claim to be of the household of faith reject the truth, it is your privilege to turn your light upon the world around you. No faithful consecrated one can be idle where so many avenues of usefulness are open, and where there is so much need of service, unless he should forget his calling and become lukewarm and indifferent.
Such going forth to preach the Gospel will bring the reproaches of many of your former friends upon you. You know it will; but you took that into consideration long ago, when you covenanted to lay your all upon the altar. Do not think of reconsidering the question now. "No man having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62). You will meet with many rebuffs, if not violent opposition, but you will lightly esteem these, if your chief and only concern is to spread the good tidings. Be not discouraged if your efforts now seem fruitless, for "He that goeth forth and weepeth [is touched with sympathy for the blinded and suffering ones], bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." – Psa. 126:6.
"He that findeth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." – Matt. 10:39.
Some of our Lord's teachings were addressed to the mixed companies of worldly people around him, but the most of his attention and teachings were specially given to his disciples. And to them he said many things which they were not able to comprehend at the time, but which he promised should be brought to their remembrance and made clear to the church afterward.
Among these was the statement of the above text. To the disciples at that time it was simply incomprehensible, but in the light of the fuller teaching under the spirit dispensation it is quite clear and plain. The statement is applicable to those who have consecrated their life, who have presented themselves to God as living sacrifices. Their consecration implies their intended faithfulness in spending their life in the divine service even unto death.
Having made this solemn covenant with God, and therefore been accepted of him through Christ, it is not in either our right or power to take back that which we thus relinquished all right to, viz., our life as human beings with the hopes and blessings etc., which belong to it. We are now (reckonedly) new creatures, begotten of God to a new nature, the divine, which we cannot fully possess, until the human nature is entirely dissolved – dead. To take up our cross and follow after the Master, thus dying daily, until the last spark is spent in His service, is no light thing, and some may limp and falter and hesitate, and yet press on through all their weaknesses looking to the Lord and accepting his proffered assistance.
But to turn entirely back from our purpose, and to lay hold on what remains of our earthly life and begin again to live after the flesh, is to lose all claim upon the spiritual life, the only life to which such now hold a title. To such then, how forcibly the statement, He who keeps hold of the life already consecrated to sacrifice, thereby loses all life, while he who is obedient to his covenant, shall find life much more abundantly, than now possessed – in God's due time.
A Brother wants to know whether these two texts are not contrary to our teaching. We answer, No, they are in exact harmony with our teachings, and in opposition to the general views of Christians. We teach that no man will be saved without faith in Christ as his ransom; but with Paul we believe that our Lord Jesus Christ gave himself a ransom for ALL, and that it must consequently be testified to all in "due time." To some the testimony is given in this age, but they, compared to all, are only a few. The vast majority must therefore hear the testimony in the coming age during which God declares, The knowledge of the Lord shall fill the earth, and all shall know him from the least to the greatest. Those who in "due time" [in this or a coming age] hear, believe and accept of our Lord, shall be saved; and all who reject, will perish.
It is those who claim that all infants and the mass of the heathen will be saved without believing, that do violence to these texts and not we. Sticking to a theory, a tradition of men, that probation is limited to the present existence and ends with death, they are blinded from seeing the plain scriptural teaching of a blessed age to come. And in order to satisfy reason and yet hold to their traditions, they are forced to their position in contradiction to the Master's words quoted above, claiming that babes and heathen can be saved without believing in the only name given under heaven and among men.
But will faith be possible for the world, when it sees its salvation actually beginning? We answer, Yes, they must believe the testimony then given, that this salvation which they will then see begun (for the awakening from death is only the beginning of the salvation or restitution which will be completed within the limits of that age – a thousand years,) has been brought about, not by any merit of their own, but as the result of the ransom – the death of Christ – which secured for all, the right and privilege of a second, an individual trial.
Napoleon standing on the brow of St. Helena, said to Montholon: "Can you tell me who Jesus Christ was?" Without waiting for an answer he continued: "There is something about him which I cannot understand. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself have founded great empires. But on what did these creations of our genius rest? Upon force. But Jesus founded his upon love; and this very day millions would die for him. I have inspired multitudes with an enthusiastic devotion, such that they would have died for me; but to do this it was necessary that I should be present with the electric influence of my looks, my words, and my voice. When I saw men, and spoke to them, I lighted up the flame of devotion in their hearts. But Jesus by some mysterious influence, reaching down through a lapse of eighteen hundred [R926 : page 8] years, so draws the hearts of men toward him that thousands, at a word, would rush through fire and flood for him, counting not their lives dear unto them."
On the evening of April 7th, the anniversary of the institution of the bread and wine as symbols of our Lord's broken body and shed blood, as the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world, the Church at Pittsburgh celebrated the same. The company numbered about one hundred and fifty, and included probably forty from neighboring towns, and a few from distant points – New York, Ohio and Wisconsin. We need scarcely say that it was, as usual, a very impressive occasion.
We briefly reconsidered the significance of the bread and wine as emblems, and the importance and value of that which they symbolize – the broken body and shed blood of our Redeemer. We saw that the eating of the flesh signified our acceptance and appropriation of the perfect humanity and all its rights, which our Lord sacrificed for Adam and all his race. We saw that when our Lord said, "My flesh...I will give for the life of the world" (Jno. 6:51), he meant, I give up, or sacrifice my perfect (unleavened) human nature that the world may have perfect human nature ("that which was lost"), by accepting of my sacrifice and appropriating (eating) my rights and perfections, freely given on their behalf.
We saw that thus the bread is for all who would be restored, and must be accepted and digested (appreciated), before it will benefit any, either in this, the Gospel age, or in the Millennial age. All who would recover that which was lost must accept of the ransom, and thus obtain restitution (actually or reckonedly) as its result. We saw that all who eat of the flesh of the Lamb, do not drink of his blood. In the type – the Passover – the doorposts and lintels of the house were sprinkled with the blood of the Lamb; and so, too, with all who would "eat the flesh" of the "Son of Man" (partake of his merits and justification); they must all recognize and own the blood – the precious life shed for all, for the remission of the sins of the whole world.
But the privilege of drinking of "the cup" – Mark 10:38 – (sharing in the sacrifice of life) is offered only during the Gospel age. It is the favor or privilege of this age, to "fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ," and to get the reward with him of sharing also his glory to follow. So, then, as the eating of the flesh (bread) signifies justification to all human rights and privileges, so the drinking of the blood (wine) signifies our sharing with our Lord in his sacrifice, our becoming "dead with him," our participation in his sufferings – crucified with him.
This being true, how appropriate that the giving of the wine was after the eating of the bread, and to those only who had eaten it. This teaches, in harmony with all the Scriptures, that only those who are justified from all sin by faith in the merit and sacrifice of the Lamb of God (and no others) are invited to crucify their (justified) humanity and share in the afflictions of Christ in this age, and in his glories which shall follow in the Millennial age and the eternity beyond.
Only those who both eat his flesh (appropriate his merits – justification) and drink his blood (share with him in his sacrifice by rendering their justified humanity a sacrifice to his service) dwell in him, and he in them, as members of the one "body of Christ," as members of the "true vine." (Jno. 6:56). Only such (verse 53) can have inherent life: that is, life independent of all conditions – Immortality. (See MILL. DAWN, VOL. I., Chap. X.)
The balance of mankind, however, may by eating (appropriating) the sacrificed rights of the "man Christ Jesus" obtain a dependent life, which will be supplied to the willing and obedient everlastingly.
These must all be first brought to a knowledge of the Lord, of the sacrifice which he gave, and of the justification and restitution provided in it, and may then partake of it freely and live. Of such it is written, "He that eateth of this bread (without sharing "the cup") shall live forever," and "He that eateth me, even he shall live by me" – a dependent life, but surely supplied to all who rely upon Christ, the life-giver, for it. The distinction is, that the Gospel church now being selected – the body of Christ – will, with the head, have immortality, have inherent life, and will be the source of supply to the world, who will come continuously to the fountain for life, and live thereby.
We noticed particularly also the statement of the apostle that "He that eateth and drinketh unworthily – not discerning the Lord's body – eateth and drinketh condemnation to himself." (1 Cor. 11:27-29.) We saw the import of this to be, that to all who fail to recognize Christ's sacrifice for their sins, the eating of those emblems implies their guilt as his murderers, in the same sense that the Jews cried out, "His blood be upon us and on our children." As the Jews made themselves guilty of innocent blood (death), so do all who now by eating the emblems say, his blood is upon us – unless they discern the Lord's body and blood as their ransom. To all who do not recognize it as their ransom – it must signify an increase of their condemnation as sharers of the guilt of the breaking of his body and shedding of his blood, seeing that to them it speaks no forgiveness – no remission of sins.
The succeeding four days were wholly given up to meetings in which were discussed various topics of interest which we cannot here recast. These meetings seemed to be specially and deeply interesting to the visiting friends who, we trust, went back to their respective fields of service refreshed and strengthened by the strong meat of God's Word, and the new wine of joy and hope, distilled from the exceeding great and precious promises examined.
During their visit the following nine brethren and sisters embraced the opportunity to symbolize their consecration "even unto death" (Rom. 6:3,4), to be immersed in water in the likeness of the real immersion into death, as per our Lord's request (Mark 16:16), and the apostles' command (Acts 10:48). Their names are as follows. Brother and Sister A. Bowen, Bro. J. W. Mason, Bro. Thos. R. Jackson, Sister J. Vero, Sister M. J. Wagner, Sister M. Thompson, and Sisters Carson and Mitchell.
Many letters received show that the Brethren and Sisters in every direction remembered the Master's words, "This do in remembrance of me." In some places the gatherings were of a considerable number, while in others only one or two. We know that all who did "do this" from the right motives, discerning the Lord's sacrifice for their sins and their consecration with him, were surely blessed greatly. Many letters received bear the same testimony. You were not forgotten by us, as we assembled here, and your letters assure us, that we were not forgotten by you. This mutual interest of the "body" in all of its members is right, and rejoices our hearts often.