No. 151 Robinson St., Allegheny, Pa.
C. T. RUSSELL, EDITOR.
This paper will be sent free to the interested of the Lord's poor, who will send a card yearly requesting it. "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 who 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.
Old readers will recall that, long ago, we drew attention to the prophets Elijah and Elisha as being types of the Gospel church in its closing stages; – not types of the nominal church, but of God's true children. True, God's children will not be entirely separate and distinct from the nominal mass, until the close of the present "harvest;" but these prophets represent at first a nucleus of the true class, led into the light, to which all the faithful in Christ will be gathered; and from which will be sifted and separated all who lose the spirit of humility and true discipleship.
We saw that these two prophets typified two classes of the true children of God: that Elijah represented, so to speak, the cream of God's true church, the class called overcomers, who are to be granted the kingdom honors, at the first resurrection, – the specially holy and specially blessed of the Lord (Rev. 20:6) who will be caught up to spiritual power and glory in the time of our Lord's presence at his second advent, in the close of the harvest of this age; and that Elisha represented a class which would not be counted worthy of so great honor, because less faithful, – though the difference in faithfulness, as the reason for his exaltation, is not shown in the type.
As shown in DAWN, Vol. II., Elijah was the representative or type of the "overcomers" of the Gospel church, in their present earthly career, as the fore-runner of the glorified church, of which they shall compose a part when changed, glorified and in kingdom power; and Elisha represented a company of believers, the companions of the Elijah class and co-laborers together with them, though more on the natural plane. They too love God and are consecrated to his service, to the extent of striving to abstain from sin and to live holy lives, but not to the extent of sacrificing present rights and privileges even unto death. While they love God and love righteousness and admire the spirit of self-sacrifice and to some extent practice it, yet they are not fully on the altar as "burnt offerings" (Lev. 9:7), as all who would be of the Elijah class must be.
As the time for the "change" of the Elijah class draws nearer, the tests as to who of the living are worthy to be of the Elijah class become more and more stringent, as the import of entire consecration is more and more clearly seen. Already this fiery chariot begins to separate the classes, and it will continue to do so, more and more, during coming years, until complete. The Elisha class catches a view of the coming glory and exaltation for the overcomers, yet will not walk up to their privilege of sharing in it – will not walk worthy of that high vocation by making complete sacrifices of themselves in the service of the Lord and the Truth.
The fact that the two prophets walked side by side, and had personal acquaintance, does not imply that the two classes they represent are all personally acquainted: they may or may not know each other individually and specially; but they both walk the same road, progressing in knowledge and experience under God's leading and instruction, which, however, comes more directly and clearly to the Elijah class.
In every gathering of true children of God both classes may be found, and with many hopes and experiences similar. Both classes are consecrated, but to different degrees; and consequently to somewhat different services, and with proportionately varying degrees of spiritual insight into the Lord's plan. In some companies the Elijah class may predominate, but usually the Elisha will be the more numerous, and growingly so; for, evidently, though both classes are to be delivered from Babylon's bondage, the large majority of the "overcomers," being stronger, are already free.
The various stops made by Elijah, on his journey, while expecting exaltation, (at each of which Elisha, typifying all not overcomers, was invited to stop and go no further – see, 2 Kings 2:2,4,6), represented trials, and siftings, and separatings, here. Those who were sifted out on those various occasions do not belong to either the Elijah or the Elisha classes. To such as were sifted out, it is proper to apply the Apostle's words, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." – 1 John 2:19.
These two constantly growing classes of children of God, sifted and tried and proved honest, though with different ideas and degrees of consecration, like the two typical prophets, go on together (i.e., in sympathy and interest) talking of the fact that one class is to be taken away to other scenes of joy and service, and a remaining class to continue in the world and start the work of restitution – healings of mind and body, abstaining from sin, etc. Thank God for the companionship of these two classes of his children, and for the sympathy and friendship, so profitable and encouraging to both.
But, we recently notice that a separation between these companion classes must take place. It will not, however, be in bitterness, nor in anger, nor as a result of error, we believe; but nevertheless it will be a marked division and separation of these two classes, which will continue to love and respect and fellowship each other. Each of God's true children will, according to his standing and degree of consecration and of faithfulness, be drawn into fullest sympathy with the class to which he belongs.
This conclusion, which we consider a reasonable one, is daily being forced upon us by facts which corroborate it, – by letters, etc. And we find this separation noted in the narrative of the typical prophets, where a chariot of fire parted or separated the two. We need not infer that the horses and chariot of fire which separated Elijah from Elisha will at once convey Elijah away. This we find is not the statement, – but that the fiery chariot "parted them both asunder," and after being thus parted from Elisha, Elijah was taken up "by a whirl-wind." – 2 Kings 2:11.
As Elisha loved and respected and clung to Elijah to the last, and even after the separation cried after him, My father! my father!! and as he sought for and obtained (after Elijah was taken) an extra share of his spirit of consecration and power, and became his successor in the world as a teacher, – so, we may expect, will be the separation of these classes which they typified, and the results to them.
This separating is not to be esteemed a mark of divine disfavor, or an injury even, to the Elisha class: it leaves the individuals of the two classes as they were before, and assigns to each class the work for which its degree of consecration fits it. It will be in the end a blessing to both, for the sooner the Elijah class is completed and exalted, the sooner the fuller blessing of their mantle, the power and spirit of fuller consecration, will come to the Elisha class. God is testing the present probationary members of his church, by their faithfulness in following the example of their Redeemer in sacrificing their little all of earthly advantage, etc., and this test shall prove who are worthy of a place in the glorified "little flock" to whom is promised joint-heirship with the Lord Jesus. According to this crucial test, each one of the true servants must be tested. It will be for each of us to take his place, according to the depth or completeness of our consecration and the consequent fulness of our sacrifice, with either the one or the other of these classes.
If you are very faithful in walking up to the light you have, self-sacrificingly, you are one of the "overcomers," one of those represented in Elijah, and will find yourself continually in closest and growing sympathy and fellowship with others similarly desirous of sacrificing earthly advantages and plans for heavenly ones. If you are not so fully consecrated, yet one who loves God and who desires to please him in well-doing – yet not to the extent of complete self-sacrifice to his will, his plan and way – you will find yourself drawn toward other good people who love right, but who like yourself are unwilling to serve it to the extent of complete self-sacrifice. You will find yourself and them gradually becoming more interested in human restitution, faith-healing, reforms, etc., than in the prize of the high calling. And this Elisha class will have a great work of this sort to do after the Elijah class is exalted.
The time for choosing our place is rapidly passing. In fact, the choice is made almost imperceptibly; almost unconsciously some, the Elisha class, draw away from the searching, bright, spiritual, truths which are approaching more and more near, and which prove and show clearly what manner of persons we should be, sacrificing all for the great prize. Thus the Lord's fiery or spiritual, chariot, drawn by spiritual doctrines, is to do a final, separating work. But the weakest and humblest of the consecrated ones need not fear this chariot. It is your privilege to be of the Elijah class, if you will. God has invited you to this class and has made it possible for you to walk with and be of it, no matter how deficient you may be, naturally, of those sterling qualities which "overcomers" must possess. It is for us to will, and for us to lay aside every weight and hindrance and to so run as to obtain this great prize; then God will work in us to do his good pleasure. But, thank God, our overcoming is not judged by the [R1133 : page 1] amount of service we shall be able to render to our Lord, nor by the amount of honor we shall bring to our great Redeemer, but by our willingness and the earnestness of our endeavors to do and to suffer all we can in his cause.
Be our sacrifice ever so lame and imperfect, it is reckoned holy and without blemish, if we presented it to: the Father in and through the merit of our Redeemer; and if "holy and acceptable" through him (Rom. 12:1; 1 Pet. 2:5), the reward of sacrifice is ours, be our offering ever so small. But it must be a free-will offering, and it must be a whole burnt-offering; [R1133 : page 2] not the smallest piece can be kept back from the consuming fire of the altar. And none who have the spirit of the Master will seek to keep back a part of their little all; they will feel, indeed, on the contrary, that at most it is but as offering dross for a jewel, for a pearl of great value. They will rather truthfully say: –
"Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small:
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my life, my powers, my all."
Consecrated parents, after seeing the truth, should not only let the light shine out upon neighbors and grown folks, but also and especially upon their children. And as the children come more and more to love the Lord and his truth, it is well to teach them to appreciate the privilege of rendering little sacrifices of play, etc., in his service. We should not force them, but teach them both by word and example to appreciate such opportunities as great privileges; nor should we expect them to sacrifice all their play-time. Endeavor to have their services like your own, freewill offerings.
It has been suggested that children can do little in the way of preaching the good tidings, and this has been true until now. Now, a way has opened up by which the children may be a mighty power, a way in which the parental influence may reach out through the children to whole neighborhoods. Thus many who have regretted that they were so circumstanced that they could not go forth to preach the truth by selling DAWN, find a door opened to them now through their own and other children.
The plan is, to have children all over the country in every city and town, act as colporteurs in selling the OLD THEOLOGY TRACTS for the Tract Society. Tracts Nos. I. and II. are now ready, and a new one may be expected each quarter. The first one is, Do the Scriptures Teach that Eternal Torment is the Wages of Sin? The second is entitled, The Scripture Teaching on Calamities, and Why God Permits Them.
It is proposed that these Child-Colporteurs shall sell these tracts at one cent each, wherever parental judgment may direct – on the cars, in the markets, in stores, depots, etc., etc. – everywhere. Thousands can be sold thus, and will be more surely read than if given away gratis.
Furthermore, while your own children might gladly, for a while, engage in this service from interest in you and a desire to serve God, it will be necessary for others to have a money interest in the service; and this will help give stability and continuity to the efforts of the interested children also. Therefore, the TRACT SOCIETY proposes the following special arrangement with all Child-Colporteurs. They will be supplied 50 tracts for 25 cents (Nos. 1 and 2 assorted or separate as desired); and thus even at the small price of one cent each, the children will have half their receipts for profit – for spending in whatever way they please.
To enable any, who may feel uncertain as to their ability in this work, to give it a trial, we will put up packs of ten tracts (5 No. 1 and 5 No. 2) and call them "trial packs," at the same rate – i.e., 5 cents per pack, postage free. And if any are so poor that they cannot purchase one of these packs, we will start them in the work by sending the first pack on credit.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I enclose some clippings regarding Brother __________'s experience which explain themselves. I do not know all the facts in the case, but as reported, it would seem that our Master's cause has suffered from zeal untempered with wisdom. No one realizes more fully than I do how easy it is to be taken captive by our great Adversary for his pleasure, and we must walk very humbly before our Lord to escape these things. Yet we rejoice in the knowledge that it is his good will to deliver us from all these snares, if we commit ourselves fully to him, and diligently pursue the truth. This episode has led me to crystallize a few thoughts which I send you herewith for such use as your good judgment dictates.
In Christian love and fellowship, I am,
"Let all things be done in a becoming manner, and according to order." "For God is not a God of confusion [tumult] but of peace." – 1 Cor. 14:40,33. – Diaglott.
While it is the privilege of the saints to "endure affliction" and make full proof of their ministry, we must be constantly on guard against the Adversary, who specially delights in tripping us up. Nor must we fancy that we are not subject to strong and blinding temptation from this wily foe. Unless we are constantly on the alert we will fall into some snare of his setting.
We must not hesitate at all opportune times, and with the "wisdom of serpents and the harmlessness of doves," to proclaim the truth about these present evil times, and the seductions that are blinding the great ones in Babylon. Yet, the questions of time, place and manner must all be carefully weighed; and when we act, it must be after careful and unprejudiced study to ascertain the right: if we diligently seek for this light in the "sure word of prophecy," we will find it. Babylon, and the world, have their rights and privileges now, which we must respect, or else forfeit for the truth that dignified position to which it is entitled, and which will command for it the respect of its opponents. It is our blessed privilege at all times to proclaim the knowledge we have of passing events in the true Temple of God, and we will there find hearing ears and seeing eyes. When approaching Babylon on any errand, we must be sure that we give no occasion for criticism as evil doers. We must not present the truth through lawless means. Right here socialism, anarchy, etc., commit their greatest error. With many and convincing truths regarding the rights of men (restitution), they go about to establish their hopes through one form or another of lawlessness. Until the completion of "The Times of the Gentiles," we must not expect to reign, and must be subservient to the powers that be, when they are not exercised to make us deny, in word or deed, the "Lord that bought us."
By attentively considering the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus, in his walk in the world, we will gain much information as to how we are to conduct ourselves. He never attempted to force himself or his views upon any one. "According to custom," he spoke the truth in the Jewish Temple (the type of the true one, the Church, which God, not man, builds), or in the wilderness, as occasion fitted, but his cry was, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." "In driving the money changers from the courts of the Temple, he simply did what any Jew under the law could do: it was no form of lawlessness. In studying the Acts of the apostles, we find that they conformed to custom in their manner, time and place of publishing glad tidings, and where propriety required, gained proper license before speaking. – Acts 21:37-40.
Justice and fairness require that if we desire to address any sect on the truth, and especially if we select the time and place which they control, we first gain their consent; if we cannot do this it behooves us to await other times and places. If we are faithful, full opportunity will be given us to complete our consecration, and to fully do our Lord's will, and carry out his purposes for us. He will use every empty vessel that presents itself. We must be careful not to interpose our ways, and insist on doing the Lord's work our way. Such a course can only bring confusion upon the cause, and distress upon us. We must, sometimes, patiently wait to be used in the Lord's way and at his time. The test of waiting in the armor will not be without its fruit. "Having done all, stand!"
ZION'S WATCH TOWER: – I have read The Plan of the Ages, with great interest. It fell into my hands while attending our annual Conference of the M.E. Church. I was so much pleased with it that I purchased seven, and at once on my return home sent them out on a mission. They are now being read by six of our ministers of this city, and I will keep them going from house to house.
Send me six more, and I will send them out on the same mission. There are 50 preachers, teachers, lawyers, and others, into whose hands I wish to place them.
On coming home to see my parents I find them so situated that they need my services for a short time, and I hardly feel [R1134 : page 2] it right to go away for a week or two. I trust the short change I shall make will not be any loss to the service. Next month I hope will find me in the field with renewed strength.
I hope to be able to sell the two volumes of DAWN together mostly in the future. I do hope and pray that the Lord may grant you sufficient time and strength and knowledge that the third volume of DAWN shall be a suitable climax to the grand and God-like prelude. If the Lord permits us to continue our work for the coming ten years I hope and trust to dispose of fifty thousand copies of DAWN, and we can hope that many others will do accordingly, as the Master hath given unto them. If you can find time to write, I shall be greatly pleased to hear from you.
I am glad to acknowledge the strength and grace received from reading last TOWER. I know it will be a rich feast to all the dear saints to whom it goes. You may think it queer that we do not secure some subscribers to the TOWER, while working with DAWN. If so, I might say that I think the reading and circulating of the book to be so important that I do not think it well to try to take orders for the paper. [We fully endorse this course. The DAWN is much better suited to new readers than the TOWER. Mention the latter only where you find some interest already. – ED.] The way things are now going, it seems quite possible that the TOWER may be suppressed in the near future; and though the printing of DAWN might also be stopped it would be difficult to stop the reading of the thousands of copies now being circulated.
[The TOWER would, probably, have been suppressed long ago in Europe. But thank God for this land of liberty, where thus far, and probably for some years, we may boldly declare His Word, with none to molest and make us afraid. But blinded sectarians are very bitter. They hate the "good tidings" and would think that they served God as well as their sects by injuring or stopping our influence. – EDITOR.]
Does not the teaching of our Master indicate that we should find and help to "seal" as many as possible with the truth, before doing anything which would be pretty sure to invite decided opposition to our work? I think, if your judgment on this could be given in the TOWER, it would be important to the service.
ZION'S WATCH TOWER: – I wish to add one more voice from this distant corner, because light is breaking and creed shackles are loosening. We are falling into battle line. We need more of the TOWER literature. I enclose five dollars. Please send the Diaglott and M. DAWN, Vol. II. Also some DAWNS, Vol. I., and anything you have at hand.
Yours for the truth,
Mr. C. T. RUSSELL, DEAR SIR: – I have read Volume I. of your MILLENNIAL DAWN and am now reading Vol. II. This work seems to me to open up the Scriptures in a manner which no other works ever did. I am more than delighted with it. To me it is the very truth of God, and I cannot but exclaim: "O! the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" Now from the depth of my heart I can say: "Even so, come Lord Jesus."
I am a Cadet in the Salvation Army. I was a member of the Presbyterian Church for seven years before joining the army, but I could not help thinking Jehovah had sadly failed in accomplishing the redemption of man. And much did I wonder at such passages as: "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me." And, "God is the Savior of all men, especially of them that believe," etc. The prophecies were a complete mystery. Now, praise God, all is clear and harmonious. God is love. He is the very God poor, fallen humanity needs. Bless his name!
I am at present passing through a severe trial. Being convinced of the truth, I could no longer preach or uphold the doctrines of the army; so I at once sent word to headquarters of the new light I had received on the Scriptures and that, as I no longer believed the doctrines of the army, I could stay in it no longer. I have not yet had time for a reply. I am thousands of miles from home, and do not know what I shall turn my hands to, but I trust the Lord will open a door for me at the proper time. I love the army and it will go hard with me to leave it. Besides, I shall be looked upon as a backslider and a hindrance to the cause of God. But where the Lord leads I must follow at any cost. I sacrificed home and friends and good employment, as a teacher, to come into the army, as I believed, at the call of God; and I believe so still. I have learned many precious lessons in the army, and would not injure it in any way – but I must walk in the light. There are several other officers whom I expect to see leave for the same reasons.
I see that you wish to spread the news of the "harvest" as much as possible. I long to do so, too, but until I am released from the army I can do nothing, and I know not what then to do. I can no doubt find employment of some sort. If you can in any way advise me, as to what I should do and what course I should pursue, I shall be much obliged. I can easily go back to teaching again if I wish, but if there is any way in which I could be more directly engaged in the Lord's work I would prefer it. The reading of the "Plan of the Ages" gave me much joy in the Lord, and what I have read of Volume II. is equally good and profitable.
Wishing you God's speed, I am Yours in Christ,
[The fields are ripe, and we advised this sister to proceed at once in the harvest work by canvassing with DAWN. The Lord blesses those who are faithful in few things by calling them to higher service, and will doubtless continue to test and prove, until he sees it is enough and calls them up to the higher fellowship and service with himself in glory. – EDITOR.] page 2
No one, I think, can take greater interest in the subject matter of the DAWNS, Vols. I. and II., than I do. The Truth is wonderful, glorious, grand. And the overjoying feature of the whole matter is, that it is "at hand." Surely, you have "ciphered" the matter out about right. Looking at it, as I do, I see no chance for a doubt.
Yours in Christ,
"Since the Father's arm sustains thee,
When a chastening hand restrains thee,
It is he.
Know his love in full completeness
Fills the measure of thy weakness;
If he wounds thy spirit sore,
Trust him more.
"Without measure, uncomplaining,
In his hand
Lay whatever things thou canst not
Though the world thy folly spurneth,
From thy faith in pity turneth,
Peace thy inmost soul shall fill,
"Like an infant, if thou thinkest
Thou canst stand,
Child-like, proudly pushing back
The proffered hand,
Courage soon is changed to fear,
Strength doth feebleness appear;
In his love if thou abide,
He will guide.
"Fearest sometimes that thy Father
When the clouds around thee gather,
Doubt him not.
Always hath the daylight broken,
Always hath he comfort spoken;
Better hath he been for years
Than thy fears.
"Therefore, whatso'er betideth,
Night or day,
Know his love for thee provideth
Crown of sorrow gladly take,
Grateful wear it for his sake,
Sweetly bending to his will,
"To his own thy Savior giveth
To each troubled soul that liveth,
Peace at length;
Weakest lambs have largest share
Of this tender Shepherd's care;
Ask him not, then, 'When?' or 'How?'
The attitude of Rome on the public school question in this country, her increasing power and prestige in places of authority and influence throughout "Christendom," the attention she called to herself in the late celebration of the Papal Jubilee, the flatteries and honors she received from crowned heads and even from this great Republic, together with her renewed claim of temporal power and her manifest determination to regain it, whenever the auspicious moment to strike for it shall come, are facts which should arouse every Protestant, every true Christian, to a sense of the danger to which liberty and truth and righteousness are exposed from their old and wily foe and relentless persecutor, the Church of Rome.
It has been well said that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty: and truly it is the price of every principle of truth and righteousness which we desire to hold; because unceasing vigilance, art, cunning craft, unscrupulous hypocrisy and unblushing impudence are the characteristics of Satan, "the prince of this world" (John 14:30; Eph. 2:2), who, unrecognized by men, is constantly manipulating human affairs, civil and religious, for the accomplishment of his own diabolical purposes in the enslavement of humanity to the dictum of ignoble tyranny.
And yet, it is quite manifest that Protestants, listlessly resting in fancied security, have long since ceased to be vigilant; and the masses of them are almost totally unaware of the present perilous position, or the dangers ahead. But if they will carefully take their bearings, they will soon see that much has been lost already, and hence the present vantage ground of the great enemy to true religion and to civil and religious liberty, concerning which Macaulay the historian remarks truly, that "among all the contrivances which have been devised for deceiving and oppressing mankind, it [the Church of Rome] occupies the highest place."
The underlying principle of the Great Reformation, to which all Protestants look back with pride, was the right of individual judgment in the interpretation of the Scriptures, in opposition to the papal dogma of submission to clerical authority and interpretation. On this very point was the whole issue of the great movement. It was a grand and blessed strike for liberty of conscience, for an open Bible, and the right to believe and obey its teachings regardless of the usurped authority and vain traditions of the self-exalted clergy of Rome. Had not this principle been firmly held by the early Reformers, they never could have effected a reformation, and the wheels of progress would have continued to stick in the mire of papal traditions and perverted interpretation.
To-day, the careful observer may note, and it should be noted with alarm, that the very condition of things which led to the great Papal apostasy, against whose errors and bondage our fore-fathers awoke and protested in the sixteenth century, is gradually, stealthily, yet swiftly, overshadowing Protestantism; and, unchecked, will soon entirely wipe out the idea of the right of individual judgment in the study of God's Word, and bind Protestants as securely as Romanists are bound, to the judgment and religious decrees of a system, instead of leaving faith to the intelligence, study and judgment of each individual.
The foundation of the great Apostasy (Papacy) was laid in the separation of a class, called the "clergy," from the church of believers in general, who, in contradistinction, came to be known as the [R1135 : page 3] "laity." This was not done in a day, but gradually. Those who had been chosen from their own number, by the various congregations, to minister to or serve them in spiritual things, gradually came to consider themselves a superior order or class, above their fellow-Christians who elected them. They gradually came to regard their position as an office rather than a service and sought each other's companionship in councils, etc., as "Clergymen," and order or rank among them followed.
Next they felt it beneath their dignity to be elected by the congregation they were to serve, and to be installed by it as its servant; and to carry out the idea of office and to support the dignity of a "clergyman," they deemed it better policy to abandon the primitive method by which any believer who had the ability had the liberty to teach, and decided that no man could minister to a congregation except a "clergyman," and that no one could become a clergyman except the clergy so decided and installed him in office.
Their councils, at first harmless if not profitable, began gradually to suggest what each individual should believe, and came finally to decreeing what should be considered orthodox and what should be considered heresy, or in other words deciding what each individual must believe. There the right of private judgment by individual Christians was trampled upon, the "clergy" were put in power as the only and official interpreters of God's Word, and the consciences of the "laity" were led into captivity to those errors of doctrine which evil-minded, ambitious, scheming, and often self-deluded men among the clergy were able to establish and false label, Truth. And having thus, gradually and cunningly, secured control of the church's conscience, as the apostles had foretold, they "privily brought in damnable heresies," and palmed them off upon the conscience-fettered laity as truths. – 2 Pet. 2:1.
One result was, that the Bible took second place to the opinions of the clergy in these councils, thus discounting the value of the only true standard of faith. Another result was, that this self-exalted clergy, becoming more and more vain and boastful, finally concluded that they alone constituted the Church, and that the laity bore to the clergy the relationship of children, "children of the Church," and were not to be classed as joint-heirs with the clergy, to the promises of coming glory and honor and association with Christ in the Millennial reign.
When the Roman empire was falling into ruins, these clerical schemers by multitudinous crafty arts and intrigues, too numerous to be here detailed, contrived to work their own advancement to political power and influence until, as the great papal hierarchy, they gained the rulership of the world, electing one of their number king of kings and lord of lords – the pope. Thereafter the church, instead of being "subject to the powers that be," assumed and used power over the world and demanded universal obedience. Instead of suffering at the hands of the ungodly, this corrupt church reigned; instead of being persecuted for righteousness' sake, she was flattered and honored, and became the persecutor of all who differed from her, rejecting the decrees of her Councils, and exercised their right of private judgment in the study of the Bible.
To account for this changed condition of things, the claim was then made that the doctrine that Christ would come and set up his Millennial kingdom and subdue all things to his rule of righteousness, as taught by the apostles and held by Christians in the first and second centuries, had been misunderstood. The claim was set forth that those Scriptures which referred to the Millennial blessedness and reign of Christ and the church, as Kings and Priests to rule and teach and bless the world, was to be fulfilled by the church without Christ Jesus, her Lord and head; that he was represented in reign and glory and power by the successive popes who claimed to be his vicars or representatives, and as such to be infallible, as Christ would be.
This claimed Millennial reign is dated from about A.D. 800, and since then, the line of popes, in Christ's name and stead, have applied to themselves all the titles, promises and predictions of Scripture which relate to Christ and his Millennial glory. And thus the popes, as falsely representing Christ, the Head, and the general clergy, as falsely representing the Body, Bride or Church of Christ, constitute themselves the Antichrist, or false Christ and his false kingdom, predicted by Daniel, Paul and John, as well as by our Lord and others.
This counterfeit of Christ's Millennial Kingdom could not indeed resurrect the dead to glory, power and immortality, as the Scriptures predict (1 Cor. 15:42-44; Rev. 20:6), to live and reign on earth; but as a pope could represent Christ, so bishops, cardinals, etc., could represent the saints of the first resurrection; and though these could not possess the power, glory, etc., promised to all who will have part in the first resurrection, and share in Christ's Millennial reign, yet those glories could be and were counterfeited or represented, in the clothing, etc., of the hierarchical class. And the master-artists of the world were engaged to paint and gild and bestud with blazing precious stones the papal throne, and to so arrange windows and mirrors, lights and shadows, etc., that, on certain occasions, as nearly as possible a supernatural radiance might seem to the people to emanate from the person of the pope as, clad in gorgeous clothing and flashing with jewels, he sat in regal state, the false head of the apostate church, personating and counterfeiting the true head of the true church and his Millennial glory and power.
The terrible state of ignorance, superstition and priestcraft, which prevailed for centuries under this counterfeit kingdom of Christ, known in history as "the dark ages," was broken by the Great Reformation movement of the sixteenth century, – when Luther and his coadjutors, recognizing the true character of Papacy's kingdom, in sermons and tracts and posters boldly denounced and exposed the counterfeit, and pointed out some of the errors and blasphemies of that deceptive system.
And Luther noted, too, that the start of the great Apostasy was in the error that the clergy were a divinely appointed order, distinct and separate from the remainder of the church. He saw that the reign of Christ was not fulfilled by Papacy, and that the promises, that those who suffer with Christ shall reign with him, were not made to a clerical class, but to all the consecrated, faithful church of Christ. Did space permit, we would give samples of some of Luther's forcible utterances on this subject, which show that he had a very clear idea of the relationship which should exist between the church in general and those who minister to or serve it; even though he found it impossible to fully bring his ideas into practice, owing to the gross darkness and superstition of the long priest-ridden people. He clearly points out Peter's words, "Ye are a royal priesthood," as relating to the general church, and not to a clerical class, and denounces the assumptions of the Papacy on this subject, although he himself had been one of the favored "clergy" class.
True, Papacy does not now attempt a despotic sway of the world, nor does she loudly and publicly assert her claim to divine authority as God's Kingdom among men. This, she is crafty enough to see, would not be wise policy in this nineteenth century and under present circumstances. Hence, Romanists do not now make these doctrines prominent; but their theological works do present such views, unblushingly, and Papacy's boast is, that she never changes. The same claims to divine authority to rule the world and to punish and torture in the present life and to damn to all eternity, as heretics, all who will not accept her claims and obey her "royal priesthood," would soon be heard again, were ignorance and superstition to again thoroughly enslave the masses.
Now, while cunningly avoiding the question of civil power over the world, she retains her grip upon the minds and consciences of her people, by proclaiming her chief cleric, the pope, infallible; and by having him loudly assert his spiritual power (?) and influence, to compensate for his loss of earthly power. Thus, to display his spiritual authority and power, Pope Leo XIII. recently announced the liberation of millions of souls from the [R1135 : page 4] pains of purgatory, with as much apparent candor as President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation which set free millions of slaves in the South. And strange to say, the masses of Romanists, even to-day, believe this monstrous, wholesale fraud.
Protestants generally, except Episcopalians, admit the fallacy of these claims of Papacy. And yet the habit of centuries, of regard for certain forms and ceremonies and for a certain class of self-exalted fellow-mortals, called the clergy, still clings to the people, and the Protestant clergy consequently receives much of the same homage and reverence against which the reformers of the sixteenth century protested.
Nor can we wonder much that even some very earnest, honest ministers accept this customary submission and reverence of the people, and the title of Reverend, and that superstitious respect which looks up to them as possessed of almost superhuman authority as religious leaders. It is a general weakness of the fallen human nature to take all the respect, honor and authority others are willing to accord. And then, too, many ministers have become possessed of the same ideas, and really believe themselves to be worthy of homage and reverence. Many get the old papal idea that the ruling and teaching of the church belongs to the "clergy" by divine arrangement. We all know how much easier it is to "receive honor one of another" (John 5:44), than to refuse it, and tell the people the plain truth which Peter so clearly enunciated (1 Pet. 2:9), that the entire church of Christ – that is, all fully consecrated and self-sacrificing believers – constitute the [R1136 : page 4] royal priesthood, and not a self-appointed lordly class in it or above it, calling itself the "clergy."
We certainly do not deny, but on the contrary affirm, that the church should have living teachers; and that the Lord has raised up such teachers all through the Gospel age, and will to its close, to instruct the church in general by expounding the Word of God, pointing out and making clear its teachings and bringing forth from the storehouse things both new and old. But all are not teachers. Teaching, Paul declares, is a special gift. (1 Cor. 12:28-30.) A teacher is one who, being fully consecrated and brought into submission to the divine will and enlightened concerning the divine plan, God can and is pleased to use in instructing his church. And the basis of such selection may be a keen, penetrating mind, or other natural or supernaturally imparted endowment and qualification.
But as for a clerical class, God does not recognize it as his elect teachers; nor has he chosen many of his teachers from its ranks. The mere claim of any man to be a teacher is no proof that he is one by divine appointment. That false teachers would arise in the church, who would pervert the truth, was foretold. The church, therefore, is not to blindly accept whatever any teacher may set forth, but should prove the teaching of those whom they have reason to believe to be God's messengers, by the one infallible standard – the Word of God. "If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Isa. 8:20.) Thus while the church needs teachers, and cannot understand God's Word without them, yet the church individually – each by himself and for himself, and himself only – must fill the important office of judge, to decide, according to the infallible standard, God's Word, whether the teaching be true or false, and whether the claimed teacher is a true teacher by divine appointment.
Thus seen, not many special teachers are necessary ("Helps," "pastors," etc., are more numerous – 1 Cor. 12:28) – and they only when old truths may need to be lifted out of the dust of error and human tradition; or when some new unfoldings of God's plan require presentation to the church as "meat in due season." And then, such teacher must offer proofs that he is a teacher, and that his teaching is true, by expounding and harmonizing the Scriptures.
God has in the past raised up teachers who, though befogged by prejudices and errors, nevertheless brought forth parts of truth; for instance, Wycliffe, Huss, Zwingli, Luther, Bunyan, Calvin, Wesley, and others; and God will continue to so raise up the needed teachers. As Paul declares, God himself provides these teachers; they are his gifts to the church. – 1 Cor. 12:28.
Any superior wisdom and ability granted such, is as much for the sake and for the good of the other members of Christ's church as for themselves. And whichever of God's children comes to see some important truth generally disregarded by the church and finds himself possessed of ability to make it clear to others, should do so, should teach it, to whomsoever has an ear to hear. If a new truth, it belongs to the entire household, and he who keeps it from them, for any cause, defrauds the family of God, misuses a great favor, and deprives himself of a ministry (service).
But notice, that these teachers are not the only priests of the royal priesthood; rather, they are merely God's agents or mouthpieces by which he speaks to the general priesthood, his consecrated church; and the entire church or priesthood is blessed of God through such teachers.
Notice, that the self-constituted clergy are not teachers, and do not and cannot appoint teachers; nor can they in any degree qualify them. Our Lord Jesus keeps that part in his own power, and the so-called clergy have nothing to do with it, fortunately, else there never would be any teachers; for the "clergy," both Papal and Protestant, strive constantly to prevent any change from those conditions of thought and ruts of misbelief, in which each sect has settled down. By their course of action they say, Bring us no new unfoldings of truth, however beautiful; and do not disturb the heaps of rubbish and human tradition we call our creeds, by digging down through them and bringing forth the Old Theology of the Lord and the apostles, to contradict us and to disturb our schemes and plans and methods. Let us alone! If you go poking into our old musty creeds, which our people so devoutly and ignorantly reverence and respect, you will stir up a stench such as even we could not endure; then, too, it will make us appear both small and foolish, and as not half-earning our salaries and not half-deserving the reverence we now enjoy. Let us alone! is the cry of the clergy, as a whole, even if a few may be found to dissent from it and to seek for and speak out the truth at any cost. And this cry of the "clergy" is joined in by a large sectarian following.
We exhort all God's true church – the one church, which includes all consecrated believers – to awake to the principles of the Reformation, to a recognition of the right of individual judgment upon religious questions. Demand Scriptural proofs for all you are asked to believe; take neither the decisions of Rome, nor those of Westminster, nor those of any smaller councils or synods, as final settlements of the question, "What is truth?" And be sure that you believe and confess nothing that you do not understand fully and clearly. To subscribe to, or confess, what you do not understand, and therefore cannot truly believe, is solemn lying in the presence of God and witnesses, no matter if it be true that others, by the hundred, have done the same before you. If you did this once, thoughtlessly, even though it were years ago, in joining church, now that your attention is called to it, you are bound to procure a copy of the "covenant," or "articles of faith," the belief of which you confessed publicly, and after careful, prayerful study of it, if you find that you do not so believe, you will be bound to deny it as publicly as you confessed it, or else forfeit in God's sight all claim to honesty.
Require of all who shall attempt to teach in the name of the Lord, the exact words of the Lord or the Apostle which they claim support their teaching. Get the chapter and verse and look the matter up for yourselves, critically, examining the text and the context. Weigh and test every item of teaching which you receive as your faith, regardless of how much you esteem the person who presents it. We know that no fellow-mortal is infallible, and that his word is the only standard by which God wishes us to square and measure and build up our faith.
When you come to apply this rule you will be greatly surprised. You will find that many errors of doctrine, as well as of custom, have been carried over from Romanism into Protestantism. Many doctrines expressed in the catechisms and confessions of faith and in the hymn books and from the various pulpits, you will find no foundation for in the Bible; and many prominent in the Bible, you will find are ignored by one or another, and some of them by all the sects of Christendom. But hold fast to God's Word. Let God be true, if it should make every man a liar. – Rom. 3:4.
The object of Rome in establishing a clerical class, as separate from what she terms the laity, was to gain and to hold full control of the people. Every one admitted to the Romish clergy is bound by vows to submit implicitly to the head of that system, doctrinally and in every way. Not only is such a one held fast to those doctrines and hindered from progress by the strong chain of his vow, but also by innumerable smaller ones – his living, his dignity of position, his title, and his hope of advancement in the same direction; the opinions of his friends, their pride for him, and the fact that should he ever confess to greater light and renounce his position, he would, instead of being honored as an honest thinker, be maligned, despised and misrepresented. In a word, he would be treated as though to search the Scriptures and to think for himself and exercise the liberty wherewith Christ made all his followers free, were the unpardonable sin. And as such he would be treated as an excommunicated person, cut off from the church of Christ, now and to all eternity.
This clergy class, being thus bound hand and foot to the system, are so many live, active agents of the system in binding the people to it; and sectarian pride and rivalry and reverence for the clergy, and an undefinable fear of the future, begotten of ignorance of God's Word and fostered by the arts of priestcraft and superstition, are the cords by which the clergy of Rome bind the people to that great Antichrist system. Nor can it be denied that the Protestant clergy, though in advance of that of Rome, have the same object and many of the same methods; each clergyman being expected to exercise tact and wisdom and to act according to the intellectual status of the people with whom he has to deal.
Rome's method has been to concentrate authority and power in the hands of her priesthood or clergy. Not only are they supposed to have power in their hands to shut or open heaven or hell to whom they please, but even in the present life their authority is impressed. Roman Catholics are expected to address their clergy, "Your Reverence," and to treat them as vastly their superiors in every respect – as holy men, whom to offend might jeopardize eternity. They are taught that every infant must be baptized, every marriage performed, and every funeral service attended, by a clergyman; and that for any one except a clergyman to administer the simple elements of the Lord's memorial supper would be sacrilegious and profane. All of these things are so many more cords to bind the people to reverence and subjection under the clergy, who, by reason of the claim that they have these [R1137 : page 4] special rights above other Christians, are caused to appear to be a special class in God's estimation. And these cords and inferences are applied by Protestants as well as by Roman Catholics.
We challenge any one to produce a solitary passage of Scripture giving one member of the Church of Christ more liberty or authority than another in these respects. In fact, in the matter of baptism, the true idea of the general priesthood of all Christ's followers is tacitly admitted by the "clergy" – though in a rather pinched manner, it is true – for the regulations of the various denominations provide that in the case of any unbaptized person about to die, and desiring baptism, or in the case of any infant about to die, if no clergyman can be found in time, any layman may perform the service. [With some in such a case when death does not ensue a sanctioning by a cleric is required to follow to make it valid.] And the only reason why the clergy yielded this privilege to the laity was, that having taught the people that sprinkling is necessary to salvation from eternal torment, it became necessary to grant the laity this privilege, in order to keep the people from reasoning too carefully upon the matter; lest they should thus force the subservient laity to exercise common sense and reject the absurd idea that a few drops of water and a few mumbled words could prove a charm to procure God's interest in the dying one and to cause him to change his purpose and not to consign it to an eternity of torture.
It is true that the more advanced both of clergy and laity are becoming too intelligent to attach such an awful importance to baby-sprinkling; and in proportion as they do, the emergency in which the laity may be permitted to officiate is lost sight of, so that to-day few of them know that so great a privilege was ever conferred on them by the clergy. The authority to baptize is now fully in the hands of the clergy, though the rules still permit the laity to use it. [R1137 : page 5]
But, notwithstanding the fact that the teaching, that there are unbaptized infants in hell not a span long, is no longer heard from the pulpit, and would no longer be tolerated in civilized lands, yet there is in almost every mother's head a caution, and in her heart a love and a fear for her child's eternal welfare, which leads her to have it sprinkled as a precaution. Indeed a case in this very city of Allegheny, in which we write, came under our notice, not long since, which shows that the papal error, both on baptism and on the authority of the clergy, has a very strong hold yet, even in this land of liberty and general intelligence. The case was that of a man and his wife who had been members of a Lutheran church, but who, through irregularity of attendance at church services and irregularity of payment of church dues, had fallen under the displeasure of the clergyman there officiating. One of their children took sick and was about to die; and as it had never been sprinkled, the parents were in great distress; and conquering his pride for the sake of his child's eternal welfare, the father went time and again, and finally accompanied by his sick and weeping wife, to entreat the clergyman to come and save the child by baptizing it; but he refused to come, telling them that it was what their conduct deserved; and possibly he superstitiously believed that these parents being no longer in good and regular standing in his church, the child must be counted as a child of unbelieving parents which could not be brought to God's favor even by the sprinkling of water. But no matter what we should say about the efficacy or non-efficacy of the drops of water, the incident shows the power of the clergy and the authority they are supposed to have, even among Protestants.
The Roman Catholic clergy add other cords to bind the people, such as the confessional, the use of "holy candles," "holy water," "holy burying grounds," etc., which the greater intelligence of Protestants would not generally submit to.
But in showing that the Scriptures recognize no separate clergy class, but that the entire Church of Christ is the Priesthood, and that they each and all have the same authority to do anything that the Lord and the apostles enjoined, as they find they have the ability, let no one suppose that we urge disorder. It is proper that each congregation should select or elect some of their number, best qualified, for these services. But it should always be remembered that the one who thus serves belongs to no higher class or caste than his brethren who chose him to thus minister or serve. "All ye are brethren, and one is your Master." Such a servant of the church is no more reverend or sacred than others, though if he be a very faithful and Christ-like servant he should be esteemed very highly "for his work's sake," because of loving, faithful service, but for no other reason. (1 Thes. 5:13.) He is not a "clergyman" in God's sight; for God recognizes no such class, and his Word authorizes no such distinction.
Whatever "authority" such a minister or servant of the church possesses, is given him; he possesses no more "authority" than the humblest of his "brethren," the entire church, any of whom has the authority of God's Word (Matt. 28:19,20) to declare and to do any or every thing which it enjoins, according to his talents and opportunities and the desires of his fellow-believers to be served by him. Authority to preach or otherwise minister cannot therefore be given by other ministers, or by conferences, synods, etc. Each royal priest is the peer of each other one in authority and dignity of priesthood, though in talents, intelligence, etc., and therefore in fitness, they are not all equals. The choice of one or more to specially represent and serve all, as ministers, implies, or should imply, that those so chosen have some qualifications for such service superior to others; which should be willingly and freely used for the service and benefit of all.
The tendency of intelligence has been gradually toward the recognition of this common priesthood of the church. "Baptists," "Congregationalists," and "Disciples" have recognized it more fully and more clearly than others; though some other denominations have been gradually forced by growing intelligence to permit what they term "lay-representation" at conferences, etc., though in such a manner as to make the laity feel that between them and the clergy there is a great gulf fixed.
While glad to acknowledge that Baptists, Congregationalists and Disciples approach the true idea, that the entire church is the royal priesthood and that each congregation stands independent of the jurisdiction and authority of all others, yet we beg them to consider that their theory is not fully carried out; and, still worse, that the tendency among them is backward toward centralization, clericism, denominationalism; and far worse still, that the people "love to have it so" (Jer. 5:31), and take pride in their growing denominational strength, which means their growing loss of individual freedom.
It is only of late that these could be called sects or denominations. Formerly each congregation stood independently, like the churches of the apostles' times, and would have resented any attempt on the part of other congregations to dictate regulations or faith, and would have scorned to be known as in any sense bound into a sect or denomination. But the example of others, and pride to be parts or members of a large and influential band of churches known by one name, and all confessing to one faith, and ruled over by a council of ministers resembling the assemblies and conferences and councils of other denominations, has led these generally into similar bondage. But above all other influences leading them backward to bondage has been the false idea concerning the authority of the clergy. The people, not Scripturally informed on the subject, are swayed much by the customs and forms of others. Their unlearned "clergymen" follow carefully and scrupulously every form and ceremony and detail suggested by their more learned clerical brethren, lest they should be thought "irregular." And their more learned clergymen are shrewd enough to see how they can take advantage of the ignorance of the others to gradually create a denominational power in which they shall be able to shine as chief lights. First, it is suggested that certain doctrines or customs are not according to Baptist or Congregational usage, and the next step is to boycott such a congregation or minister as does not harmonize with the General Association, by dropping it or him from representation in the association. This is regarded as a punishment and disgrace, and most congregations and ministers will submit rather than incur it; whereas the fact is, that there should be no such association formed. Each individual and congregation should stand free.
A careful survey and study of the field will show that the spirit of reform on this subject of clerical authority, which was in progress for some time, has really ceased; and their present movement is backward, toward the assumption of greater authority on the part of the clergy. The reason for this retrogression lies in the fact that the spirit of freedom and independence in religious thought, on the part of the masses of professed Christians, is being swallowed up by worldliness and money-getting and pleasure-seeking; consequently they have neither time nor desire for matters of faith and doctrine, and permit themselves to be tightly bridled by the clergy. And this decline in individual liberty and equality is regarded by the clergy as desirable, as a supposed necessity, because here and there in their congregations are a few "peculiar people," who partially appreciate their rights and liberties, and who are growing both in grace and knowledge beyond the clergy. These are causing trouble to the [R1138 : page 5] creed-bound clergy by questioning doctrines long unquestioned, and by demanding reasons and Scriptural proofs for them. Since they cannot be answered Scripturally or reasonably the only way to meet them and to settle them is, by brow-beating and a show and claim of clerical authority and superiority, which holds itself bound to account in doctrinal matters only to fellow-clergymen and not to laymen.
But some in the pews are to-day as well or better educated than the occupant of the pulpit, and it will no longer do to claim that the laity are so ignorant that they could not comprehend; and the people have learned that the big words of technical, clerical phraseology are used to hide and not to teach the truth. Hence the individual and educational superiority of the clergy can no longer be given as an excuse for arbitrary definitions of Scriptural statements and doctrines.
The doctrine of "apostolic succession" – the claim that the laying on of the hands of a bishop conveys to a man an ability to teach and expound the Scriptures – still holds Romanists and Episcopalians, who fail to see that the very men thus said to be qualified to teach are among the least able; none of them indeed seems to be any more able either to comprehend or to teach the Scriptures than before being thus authorized; and many certainly are decidedly injured by the arrogance, self-conceit and assumed authority to lord it over their brethren, which seems to be the only thing they do receive from the "holy hands." However, Catholics and Episcopalians are making the most of this Papal error, and are more successful in smothering the spirit of inquiry than others.
Recently, however, in view of the growing intelligence of the people, the tendency among clergymen is to disclaim personal superiority or authority and to place the authority in the hands of conferences, synods, etc. Some ministers even disclaim any responsibility for their doctrinal faith, placing the whole responsibility for what they teach upon these councils. Some even admit that their personal views differ from those they preach, and are endeavoring to have their conferences and synods allow them to preach what they conceive to be truth and to desist from preaching what they believe to be error. Dishonorable, ignoble, hypocritical and slavish though such a course is, yet it is the natural result of the false view of the "call" and "authority" of the ministers of Christ. If "called" to the ministry, and granted "authority to preach" and "supported" by and according to the rulings of a conference or synod, what is more reasonable than to look to such bodies for doctrines also; for each denomination grants "authority" to preach its doctrines only. How needful then that all should recognize only the authority of God's Word and go to it for the doctrines it authorizes.
The tendency of Protestants in this respect is to follow the method and practice of Rome. With Papacy, the councils declare the doctrine to be believed; and the people, denied the right of private judgment, are required to believe whatever these councils decree to be the truth. The same tendency is observable in all denominations of Protestantism; and we predict, what is even now suggested by prominent Protestant clergymen, that ere long Protestants will unite in a General Council which will decree and settle what shall, and what shall not, be received as divine truth.
Not only do the current tendencies indicate this, but that wonderful symbolic prophecy, the Book of Revelation, clearly points it out as coming. The only difference between these and Papal councils will be, that there will be no chief pope to execute the decrees of the Protestant council. The council will be its pope, and each recognized clergyman its tongue.
In view of these facts and tendencies, we sound an alarm to all who hold to the original doctrine of the Reformation – the right of individual judgment. You and I cannot hope to stem the current and to prevent what is coming, but we can by the grace of God, imparted through his truth, be overcomers and get the victory over these errors (Rev. 20:4,6), and as overcomers be granted a place in the glorified priesthood of the incoming Millennial age. (See, Rev. 1:6; 5:10.) The words of the Apostle (Acts 2:40) are as applicable now, in the harvest or end of the gospel age, as they were in the harvest or end of this Jewish age: "Save yourselves from the perverse generation!" Let all who are Protestants at heart flee priestcraft, flee clericism, its errors, delusions and false doctrines. Hold to God's Word and demand a "Thus saith the Lord" for all you accept as your faith.
In view of all his experience, and his companionship with the Lord when in the flesh, how the beloved disciple must have longed for the realization of "this hope," – to be like Jesus and to see him as he is. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." What glory and joy in the assurance! We shall see him: our Comforter in all our disciplining, when the way was narrow and steep; our Refuge when all around were indifferent, or cold and cynical; our Lord who calls us "friend" and "brother;" our Shepherd who died for us, sought us out so tenderly (John 15:16), and who leads us so carefully in our present rich pasturage! Aye, more! We shall then know him; for "then shall we know, even as also we are known." Do not "our hearts burn within us" as we contemplate these glorious prospects?
And then, "every one that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." Quickened by "this hope," how we are strengthened to lay at the foot of the cross all our worldly desires, realizing that "the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." "So then they that are in the flesh [of sin] [R1138 : page 6] cannot please God." But we "who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit," having received "the mind of the Spirit," [R1139 : page 6] have the inspiring realization that we are "Sons of God," and wait with patience, yet in eagerness, the grand consummation.
Purify ourselves! How carefully we must guard our every thought and act. To "be like" our dear Lord, we must rid ourselves not only of the grossness of the flesh, but also of every desire of the flesh, for "if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." Does any one say, it is not natural to lay down all desire of the flesh! No, it is not, but it is Divine!! We who are "new creatures in Christ Jesus" are seekers after the "Divine Nature," hoping "to escape the corruption that is in the world through lust." How inspiring the hope! "True is the word: If we died with him, we shall also live with him; if we endure patiently, we shall also reign with him; if we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful: for he cannot deny himself." "But faithful is the Lord, who will establish and guard you from the evil one." (2 Tim. 2:11-13 and 2 Thes. 3:3, Diaglott.) With "our beloved brother Paul," let us "do this one thing," "forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth to those things which are before, press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
With us, as with the apostles in their writings, the word saint is used to designate the truly consecrated among professing Christians. See the use of the word in Rom. 12:13; 15:25,26,31; 16:15; 1 Cor. 14:33; 16:1; 2 Cor. 8:4; 13:33; Eph. 3:8; 4:12; 6:18; Phil. 1:1; Jude 3. But as the early church began to grow popular with the world, this Scriptural use of the word ceased very generally. Really the great mass of those who then came to profess Christianity because of its popularity were heathens and not truly converted to Christianity; and generally they were far from claiming full consecration of thought and word and deed to Christ's teachings and example.
It was at that time that the papal system was gradually shaped. And taking advantage of the idolatrous tendencies of the heathens then claiming to be Christians for the sake of worldly advantage and favor with the emperor, the idea was conceived and acted upon, of designating certain notably good or zealous persons of the past as saints, worthy of adoration and privileged to be meritorious intercessors between God and men, who might therefore be prayed to by the people. Thus Papacy presented to the heathen mind something very closely resembling the heathen worship to which they had long been accustomed. Their many gods found correspondence in the so-called trinity, the worship and images' shrines, etc., of Diana and other heathen goddesses were supplanted by those of the virgin Mary, styled The Holy Mother of God and Queen of Heaven; and the dead heroes, the demi-gods [lesser gods] of Greece and Rome were supplanted by the dead saints whom the Papacy specially authorized the people to make pictures and images of and to pray to. The work of formally declaring any man thus a "saint" is called canonizing, and is usually deferred until several hundred years after his death, when his sins and sometimes crimes were generally forgotten, and his virtues and graces then multiplied and garnished with accounts of wonderful fastings, miracles, etc., performed by him. Such, by Papacy's decree, suddenly became saints to be adored and reverenced.
One might suppose that such nonsense would be discontinued now; and that persistence in it would only expose Papacy to the contempt of the civilized people. For quite a long period indeed they were discontinued, and no new saints were canonized, but the present pope is a keen reader of human nature and sees that people of to-day "like to be humbugged," as Barnum expresses it, and he is reviving many of the old customs, and among others the canonizing of more saints.
It is not necessary to directly criticize this procedure; our readers, acquainted with God's Word, well know that all the true saints will be heralded and canonized in a much grander manner when the due time shall come; and by the true Christ, and not by a representative of Antichrist.
We present below a description of a recent canonization in the city of Rome, as given by a Protestant missionary there
"The Hall of Canonization is over the vestibule as you enter St. Peter's. It is about 300 feet long, 90 feet in width and 75 feet to the ceiling, in the center of which is a golden halo with a dove descending through atmosphere such as veils Mount Blanc on a clear summer day. It was spanned by luminous arches of marvelous beauty and the place was flooded by the soft light of thousands of wax candles. At the far end where the pope was enthroned, stood his altar. Behind and above this was an indescribable 'glory,' the bright soft golden rays of which melted away in a pure atmosphere. In the midst of this halo was a silver ground, with nothing upon it, so far as we could see, but at the appointed moment figures began to develop until we had the Trinity in this 'glory,' surrounded by cherubim. The Father appeared like a monk; the Son as a little baby in his mother's arms, smiling as if pleased to see so many pretty things; the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove, but the virgin Mary was the great object of adoration. As represented there and accepted by the Pope, the Trinity was merely to 'fill up the picture.'
"Separated from the people were the reserved seats on either side, raised one above the other, covered with costly damask with golden cord and fringe. These were occupied by the various orders, viz.: Cardinals, archbishops, bishops, diplomatic corps, Roman nobility, the Pope's relatives, the representatives of various ecclesiastical orders, the Cardinal Secretary of State, with his officers, the major-domo of the apostolic palace, the pope's singers, etc. The Swiss and Palatine Guards, in their fantastic costumes, were the guards of honor. The galleries were occupied by distinguished visitors from all parts of the world.
"As early as 5 o'clock the people began to assemble in the square in front of St. Peter's, though the ceremonies were not to begin until 9 o'clock, and they knew they could see nothing until that hour. At least 50,000 people stood from three to six hours and looked at the building in which such mysterious work was being performed. This was the order within. First, congregation of the orders, procurators of the college of cardinals, lawyers of the consistory, private chaplains, cross-bearers, priests in chasubles (long gowns), two hundred bishops with white mitres and capes of silver cloth, embroidered with gold, archbishops, among whom were many Armenians, Syrians and Greeks, dressed with a richness and magnificence beyond description. After these came forty cardinals in their official robes, preceded by vergers, followed by their 'tail bearers' and 'gentlemen in waiting.'
"When all were seated, there was for a few moments the silence of the tomb. Then the Pope in his sacerdotal chair, under a golden canopy and flabelli, or immense fans, of ostrich and peacock feathers, surrounded by the pontifical court, was carried into the hall and seated upon the 'throne of God!' Extending his foot from under his royal robe, cardinals, archbishops and the others, in their order, came and kissed his hand, knee or toe, according to their rank. When this disgusting performance was ended the lawyers read the petitions for the canonization of these people, to which the Pope replied. Then he sang, 'Veni Creator,' placed the miter upon his head, and pronounced them saints! At this moment the great bell of St. Peter's was rung and in a moment the thousands of bells in the city were rung wildly. The telegraph, by arrangement, told the news in other cities, and thus, all over the land, bells were rung to tell the people that now there were others in heaven to plead for them.
"The Pope then signed the papers testifying that they were real saints and could be prayed to. Then he said mass and received the offerings for the occasion, consisting of a large historical candle, on which were painted historical scenes in the life of the saint, a silver cage with turtle doves, wild pigeons, canaries, and a box of bread and wine. He then bestowed the papal benediction and was borne out, and all retired in the order of their entrance. Thus ended this blasphemous demonstration of paganized Christianity."
This is the idolatrous and blasphemous system to which so many leading Protestants (so-called) are again turning with flatteries and compromises to gain her favor. This is the church which a Methodist bishop proclaims as a "great Christian camp;" which a Presbyterian minister affectionately owns as the Mother church to which he feels indebted for every doctrine he holds dear (Yea, verily!); which others declare must be conciliated by repeated concessions, until she is willing to own them as co-workers together with her.
We have no idea that the mass of nominal Christians will be able to discern the hypocrisy, idolatry and blasphemy of this imposing and deceitful counterfeit of the true church glorified; but the Lord's true sheep, who know the voice of the true Shepherd and will not follow another, need only to be informed of facts, to see plainly the steps they should take – that if they are in any district of Great Babylon, either Papal or Protestant, they should obey the call, "Come out of her, my people."
"What, then, shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?" "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." – Rom. 8:31,28.
The early churches, whether composed of Jews or Gentiles, although they had accepted of Christ and had become his disciples, were still largely influenced by their former Jewish ideas and prejudices. The Jews, particularly, were slow to believe that now they merely stood on a common level with their Gentile brethren, having no pre-eminence whatever over the Gentiles; their only special favor, and a great one, though they failed to realize it as such, being in the fact that the gospel of the new dispensation was offered to them first. On the other hand, the Gentile converts, long accustomed to regard the Jews as the chosen people of God, were still disposed to grant them supremacy, and to be influenced by their prejudices. And until these prejudices were overcome, growth in grace, in the knowledge of the truth, and in the full assurance of faith, was greatly hindered. In order to fully appreciate the generous scope and breadth of the divine plan, the contracted views they had gained from God's dealings with Israel as a typical people must be dropped.
It was with this thought in mind, and that he might assist the Jews to a humble recognition of their position, as well as to encourage and strengthen the Gentile believers, that Paul wrote his remarkable letter to the church (the company of believers) at Rome, as well as various portions of his other epistles to other congregations. The Jews were all strong believers in election. They knew and gloried in the fact that God had chosen them for his people, and made promises with reference to them to their father Abraham, long before they were born, and that while he paid no attention to other nations, he gave to them continual evidences of his favor and care. He superintended their affairs as a nation, gave them his law, appointed their judges, overcame their enemies, chastised them for their sins, and comforted and blessed them when they turned from their sins back to righteousness; and finally he sent his Son to them to be their Prophet, Priest and King. Thus God was a father to them, and owned them as his children, while for the time he seemed to ignore all other nations. And his promise was, that through them, in due time, the other nations should be blessed.
But this favor of God to Israel did not have the effect of bringing them to loving, filial obedience and a hearty co-operation in God's plan, with a humble and grateful recognition of their constant dependence upon him. On the contrary, they were "a stiff-necked, rebellious house," puffed up with pride, as though they were worthy, and almost continually required the rod of correction. They were proud, and boastful of being the children of Abraham, concerning whom God had made so many wonderful promises; and though unworthy of any of God's favors, they were disposed to claim his favor on the ground of worthiness – as if they had merited it by keeping his law.
They thought they were "the elect" to whom pertained the adoption, and all the promises, and all the glory. And truly, they were the elect, and heirs of the promise to Abraham, in the only sense in which either they or Abraham could understand it; but there was a grander significance to that promise, intended for the spiritual seed of Abraham, which was entirely concealed until the dawning of the Gospel age, when it was brought to light and made manifest through the apostles – to the Jews first, and afterward to the Gentiles.
Paul's letter to the Romans was part of his effort to free both Jews and Gentiles from the former yoke of Judaism, and to lead them to implicit confidence in Christ as the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth, whether Jew or Gentile, as well as to give them a clear appreciation of the chief favor of God now offered, and the conditions on which it might be obtained.
Even among those Jews who had believed on Christ, there was still the disposition to put upon Gentile believers the yoke of Judaism, and to trust at least measurably in the Law for the favors now [R1140 : page 7] promised only through faith in Christ. Their experience for nearly two thousand years past should have proved to them, beyond a doubt, their inability to keep the law and thereby merit God's favor; and had they not been so stiff-necked and proud, they would have been glad to realize their release from the condemnation of the Law, and to accept of God's favor in Christ on precisely the same terms offered to the Gentiles – the only terms on which they could receive it.
Paul's argument in this letter to the Romans is not to prove or disprove the doctrine of election: that doctrine was already accepted. But his effort was to prove from the Scriptures, that although God had elected or chosen them as a people in the past, that was no proof that they would always be the people of his special favor. They were not in their pride and hardness of heart to console themselves with the thought that they had Abraham for their father; "for I say unto you," said John the immerser, "that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." (Matt. 3:9.) God never meant to make such as they were at heart the heirs of his choicest favors. Israelites as a nation had proved their unworthiness, and had thereby forfeited the chief place of favor with God; for the promise that they should be the chief favorites was conditional – "If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine. And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." – Exod. 19:5,6.
The chief favor had been blindly forfeited by Israel as a nation, though it was still within the reach of any individuals of that nation who might yet comply with the conditions and become joint-heirs of this chief favor, together with their Gentile brethren. Paul declared (Rom. 9:1-5) that he had great heaviness and continual sorrow of heart, because Israelites, his brethren according to the flesh, were so foolish and blind as not to perceive the great favor offered to them, and to them first, as another and their last mark of special favor.
Then he adds (verse 6) that their failure as a nation to obtain the chief favor implied in the Abrahamic promise does not make the promise of God a failure. The fact that God could not own and use them, as a nation, to accomplish his work of the future, to bless all the families of the earth, would not thwart God's plan. On the contrary, Paul shows (verse 8) that the two sons of Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac, illustrated the fact that the natural seed of Abraham (Israel according to the flesh) would not inherit the chief blessings: for Ishmael was born in the ordinary course of nature, but Isaac, who typified the true heirs, was not so born, but on the contrary came by the exercise of divine power – not of the will of the flesh, but of God, for Sarah was not only barren but aged. (Heb. 11:11,12; John 1:13.) The Apostle's argument is, that this fact of passing by of the first-born and natural offspring, in the type, and the giving of the blessing to one not naturally born, to one subsequently born by divine interposition and in fulfilment of the original promise, showed that the natural or fleshly descendants of Abraham would not obtain the great, promised favor, but that another seed, a spiritual seed, would be developed, begotten of God by the word of truth, which would inherit all the privileges and honors contained in those promises.
This fact, that the natural heirs would be set aside as unworthy, and a later-born be granted the more honorable place, was illustrated also in the two children of Isaac – Esau being passed by and Jacob being accepted as the heir of the Abrahamic promises.
The rejection of Ishmael and Esau was not an injustice; it in no sense or degree related to their future, everlasting welfare. God had a great blessing to bestow, and Ishmael and Esau were made types of, to illustrate the unworthiness of fleshly Israel to inherit this great blessing, while Isaac and Jacob were made types of, to illustrate the selection of Christ and the Gospel Church to be God's instrumentalities for blessing all the world, in due time. The rejection of Ishmael and Esau, and natural Israel whom they typified, leaves them under no disadvantage, but on the common general footing with all men and all nations, aside from the "heirs of the kingdom." In fact, they have an advantage over others by reason of the closeness of their natural relationship to the "heirs;" and they will be among the first to be blessed, when the true seed is completed and given the power to bless and restore the world.
The promise made to Abraham will have its fulfilment, not only in this higher sense to the children of God – Christ Jesus and the church, typified by Isaac and Rebecca who became his joint-heir, – but also to Abraham personally and those of his natural seed who have come, or shall come, into harmony with the divine plan; for there will be two phases of the Kingdom of God which is to bless all nations, an earthly and a heavenly phase. (See, MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. I., chapter xiv.) Thus the promise made to Abraham will "be sure to all his seed; not to that only which is of the Law [the natural seed], but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who [as a figure or type of God] is the father of us all...like unto Him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and declareth those things which be not, as though they were." (Rom. 4:16,17.) And this intention on God's part to recognize more than Israel in the covenant blessing is shown also in the declaration to Abraham, – "I have constituted thee a father for many nations." This proves, conclusively, that God had in mind, originally, the selection of the promised seed of blessing, of which Christ is Head and Lord, as well as Redeemer. [R1141 : page 7] – Gal. 3:16,29.
In the clearer light of the then dawning dispensation, Paul showed that Israel had nothing whereof to glory over Gentile believers in Christ; that though they had been the called and favored people of God from the very beginning of their history, their continuance in that favor beyond the limit of their special dispensation was contingent upon their worthiness – in other words, upon their meekness and faith in the Messiah, and in the advanced truths of the new dispensation, then being declared by his faithful apostles.
Israel as a nation had already forfeited its privileges as God's favorites, but to individuals of that nation who were in the right condition of heart, this highest favor was first offered, yet on precisely the same terms that it was shortly after offered to the Gentiles: "For" he adds (chap. 10:12), "there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him." The class which God had fore-ordained should receive this chief favor was to be composed of those who should be "conformed to the image of his Son." (Rom. 8:29.) They must all have his likeness, be meek and lowly in heart, desiring only to know and to do the will of God at any cost or any sacrifice of their own will. This class God fore-knew or fore-ordained to receive "the fatness of the Abrahamic promise;" and to all of this class, whether found among Jews or Gentiles, the promise is sure. They shall be joint-heirs with his Son in the glory of his kingdom, and among them all distinctions of Jew and Gentile are obliterated; for unto this honor these were fore-ordained before the foundation of the world. These are the antitypical seed of Abraham, the children of God, "the elect according to the fore-knowledge of God," not as individuals but as a class, to whom belong the promises of eternal glory.
Then, dear reader, if you are of this class thus conformed to the image of God's dear Son, if like him your will and effort is simply to know and do the will of God, if you are meek and lowly of heart, ready to receive instruction and profit by it at any cost, then take courage: you may thus be sure that you are one of those called to be of this elect class, and that you have accepted the call and are accepted in God's plan as a probationary member of the class fore-ordained to receive this divine honor of the kingdom. But if you have not this image of Christ, do not deceive yourself, you are not of the elect class; for "if any man hath not the spirit [this mind or likeness] of Christ, he is none of his." – Rom. 8:9.
That may be very true, yet if you have the likeness above referred to, the prize is open to you. God knows your weaknesses and short-comings; he knew it before he called you; he knew you could not keep his law perfectly, though you would greatly desire and try to do so; and so before he called you he made abundant provision for your justification. You were justified freely from all things by the death of Christ, your Redeemer. (Rom. 3:24.) "Whom God called, them he also justified." Not one was ever "called," i.e., invited to run for this kingdom prize, who was not first justified; and moreover, all "whom he justified, them he also honored" [doxazo, honored; "glorified" is a poor translation] with a "call." (Rom. 8:30.) Therefore, every called one is justified, and every justified one is honored with a call. It is for this purpose – that they might be eligible to the high calling – that any are justified (reckoned righteous through the imputed righteousness of Christ) in this age. And no one is thus justified by God through Christ, who has not repented of sin, believed on Christ as his Redeemer, and who does not humbly desire and endeavor to do the will of God.
And if those thus justified and called heed the call and comply with its conditions – presenting themselves living sacrifices to God, with the same meek, obedient and teachable spirit, resolutely endeavoring to fulfil those conditions – they are sure of the great reward, the grandest favor in the gift of God, even though to other eyes than God's they may seem very unworthy, because of unavoidable weaknesses and imperfections of the flesh.
What a full provision is this for us: that, though you be Jew or Gentile, bond or free, rich or poor, learned or ignorant, weak or strong, the promise, the very fatness of the Abrahamic promise, is for you, if you are Christ's, and being conformed to his image. Make your calling and election sure by continuing to conform to his image, faithfully, unto death.
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." We are not promised the luxuries of this life – ease, comfort, health, friends, etc., etc. On the contrary, we are fore-warned to expect the very opposite – enemies, persecutions, and the loss of all things, though we are promised that these ills of the present time, patiently and faithfully borne for the truth's sake, shall work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, and that all of them shall work together for our good.
What then shall we say to these things? If God, with all his power, and wisdom, and love, be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Could he manifest his love in any stronger way than that? Could he show us by any stronger evidence, how freely he will give us all the glorious things which his exceeding great and precious promises lead us to hope for? If we would yet more fully assure our faith, let us remember our dear Lord's words – "Fear not, little flock, it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom;" "for the Father himself loveth you." – Luke 12:32; John 16:27.
Well may we then ask, If God be for us, who can be against us? Puny indeed is the arm of flesh that is raised against the saints in defiance of the Almighty. Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God himself that justifieth. The supreme Judge of the supreme court has acquitted, once forever, all that are in Christ.
Who is he that condemneth? Surely not our Lord Jesus, for he also commended his love toward us in freely giving his life for our redemption. Yea, more, he is even now at the right hand of God, making intercession for us, – not in the sense of pleading with the Father to do for us what he already planned and arranged to do, but his very presence at the right hand of power is the constant and availing plea for our salvation, proof that God's law was satisfied, that the claims of justice, which were against us, are fully met and forever canceled. Who, then, is he that condemneth, and seeketh to convince us that we are still condemned, that we are not justified freely from all things by the precious blood of Christ? It is the adversary! Beware of his deceptions, whether from within or without, or whether saint or sinner be his mouth-piece.
If such be the love of Christ, who shall separate us from his love? You may have no charms in the eyes of the world; you may be old, deformed, awkward, crippled, blind, deaf, unlearned, illiterate, sick, despised, ridiculed, hated, friendless, poor, and persecuted; but no matter, these things cannot separate us from the love of Christ, or from the love of our Father, if we have the image of his Son. "Hearken, O daughter," says the Psalmist (45:10,11), "consider and incline thine ear, forget also thine own people and thy father's house" – forget the world in the sense of any cravings or desires for its approval or favors, and let your interests and affections be bound up with Christ's, and let your rejoicing be in the fact that you are called to be his bride. "So shall the King greatly desire thy beauty." Thou art beautiful already in his eyes; for he looks upon the heart and reads its loyalty to him.
Yes, says the Apostle, and "I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." – Rom. 8:39.
When you have bitter persecution and affliction, and worldly professors of Christianity look on and say, He is an evildoer and therefore the Lord will not permit him to prosper, heed it not, but keep on your way rejoicing in the Lord and in the privilege of bearing some of the reproaches that were heaped upon him, and let his word comfort you: "In the world ye shall have tribulation, but in me ye shall have peace." Then forget the world and its opinions, that you may the more fully enjoy the peace of God which passeth the understanding of all others than this elect class.
Call to mind also, for your comfort, how God's elect ones, to whatever position he had called them, were always thus tried. Paul in Rom. 9 cites the cases of Jacob and Esau. Jacob was the chosen, the beloved one, and Esau was loved less and not chosen; yet it was Jacob that suffered tribulation, while Esau flourished and increased in goods. So also the chosen nation of Israel was disciplined under suffering, while other nations took their own course and received no discipline. The present is the time of discipline to the chosen ones. What son is he whom the Father chasteneth not? If we receive no chastisement, then we may be sure we are not sons.
Then what shall we say to these things? Is there any space left for doubts and fears? May we not have the full assurance of faith, in proportion as we are faithfully conformed to the image of God's dear Son, in meekness and entire consecration to the will of God? The promise of God is not to the fearful and unbelieving, but to those who like Joshua and Caleb say, Since God has called us, we be fully able to go up and possess the land of promise. [R1142 : page 7] What God has promised, he is able also to perform: "Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it." (1 Thes. 5:24.) The promise is to the called and chosen [accepted] and faithful. Let us prove faithful! – Rev. 17:14.
"What more can he say
Than to you he hath said:
You who unto Jesus
For refuge have fled?"
We have no reading matter specially designed for children, and we cannot refer you to any papers or books setting forth God's plan in a manner suited to the comprehension of children. Nor would such a thing be possible. Though children's minds, unprejudiced, are specially susceptible to the truth, and they seem to drink in the beautiful story of Jesus and his love, his redemptive work and work of restitution, yet children need personal teaching and living example. As you study the divine plan, and come to understand it more and more clearly, live it and teach it, step by step, simplifying it and diluting it, so as to bring it down to the comprehension of each of your children – even little tot whose eyes will open wide with wonder as she will question you regarding the wonders of restitution in the Millennium.
Study the principles of the divine will and show your children, by word and example, how to apply them in the everyday affairs of life. The parent is the very best instructor for children, and it is a very mistaken idea to hand them over for religious training to the Sunday Schools, where they actually receive little to profit, but very much to engender and to cultivate pride and love of display.
There are some children's papers and books which, if carefully selected, would be aids to moral culture. But as a general thing light literature is placed in the hands of children on the supposition that they are not capable of appreciating books of merit and usefulness, until the taste for light reading is formed, to the exclusion of that which is wholesome and good. When they are able to read well, they are able to appreciate something worth reading.
The parents, then, should be the TOWERS of strength for their children, their teachers both in morals and theology, and God will add his blessing to your earnest efforts. Not only will the children be blessed, but you will be blessed also by faithfulness in this matter. You cannot transfer to a Sunday School teacher, or any one else, the responsibilities which as a parent you owe to your children, to train them in doctrine and practice conformably to the spirit of God's Word. If you have brought children into the world, you have an obligation toward them in God's sight, until they reach years of discretion, which must not be set aside, even to take part in the glorious and important work of preaching and teaching the truth to the more matured.
A brother recently confessed sorrowfully, that before he came to see the truth regarding God's plan of the ages, he used to spend his Sundays in church (sectarian) work and Y.M.C.A. work from morning till night, and paid almost no attention to his own family's spiritual matters, the very duty which should have taken precedence to all others. He was led astray in this, as many others have been, by a false theology, by the mistaken idea that God had sent him to "save souls" from eternal torment.
This brother, no less zealous now, has his judgment more correctly guided, has received "the spirit of a sound mind" from an unprejudiced study of God's Word. Now he sees that Christ's death redeemed all from death, and that in God's "due time," in the Millennial age, –
"He comes to make his blessings flowAnd he sees that now it is his privilege as one who has found Christ and tasted of his favor, to tell these good tidings to all who have ears to hear, beginning with his own household; and as for those who have no ear for the good tidings, he now sees that he need not agonize for them, because God has already arranged that they all must come to a knowledge of the truth, concerning his goodness and abundant provision for them, that all may be saved, if they will, not from torments, but from the second death – from extinction – and have everlasting life. His is now a reasonable joy and peace and a reasonable service – based upon the reasonable teachings of the good word of the good God.
Far as the curse is found."
God bless the dear children; and may the consecrated parents, instructed and equipped of God and invested with a just and love-inspired authority over their children until the years of maturity are reached, be indeed their towers of strength, training them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, until through their instrumentality young manhood and blooming womanhood shall come forth with strong hearts and ready hands and consecrated wills to take part in the Master's great work.
We are pleased to learn, from several quarters, that children of the saints are receiving the truth and catching its spirit, and that some at the early ages of ten and twelve are active missionaries to the extent of their ability. Elsewhere in this TOWER you will find a suggestion as to a way in which the children may do effective harvest service; and a way, therefore, in which busy mothers can do some harvest work by proxy.