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.
Let us point out briefly some of the faults of the present social structure. Though in doing so we shall most frequently refer to social conditions prevalent in Europe, it is not because America has a perfect social system, but because our system being already a great reform over the others, the evils of the old system will thus be made the more apparent. Consider then, –
(1) The Law of Primogeniture – under which among the "Royal" and "Noble" families the eldest son or eldest daughter inherits the honorable station and titles and landed estates, while the younger sons are provided with sinecures, in the way of military or naval office, or a ministry in the Established Church, at good, comfortable salaries.
By this means, the vast land-holdings of Great Britain and other countries of Europe (the basis of all power and wealth) are retained in the hands of the favored families, just as royalty is. And it is by the power and influence of these favored families that the majority of the important and profitable and honorable political and ecclesiastical offices are filled by their faithful relatives and henchmen – often regardless of the value of their services, or even of their capacities for service.
The public, without their consent, directly or indirectly, pay for the maintenance of these "royal" and "noble" families, whose services though sometimes valuable are often useless, because that is and has been the form or arrangement of society there for centuries past; and because to rebel against it would be regarded as treason, and would involve a revolution and probably a civil war. For the grandees of the long-favored class have come to regard it as their God-given right to rule "the common people" and to tax them, for their maintenance above them in every respect.
And while the "noble" and "royal" class is actually a minority, it is a plurality in influence, because there is always a multitude of hangers-on who either as tradesmen, servants, clerks, appointees or tenants have their interests joined with it, and thus share indirectly the fortunes of the favored class. These constitute the large class of "conservatives," whose interests are mixed, and who wisely seek to preserve peace and to bring about gradually a social reform which will clip the wings of royalty and nobility, one feather at a time, and elevate the common people, and give them their rights and privileges as men, piecemeal.
Nowhere in Europe has this conservative reform worked so well as in Great Britain. Gradually the people have sought and very gradually they have been attaining their rights, until now they have a voice and share in the government of themselves. But the more their knowledge increases, the more they realize that the privileges accorded them in the past were forced from the grasp of aristocracy, and were not favors at all, but their just rights. And the more they study the subject, the more they realize (especially in the light of the example of "Liberty enlightening the world," in the great Republic of America) that they have not yet obtained all their God-given rights; for they are gradually learning that the present power, titles, influence and landed estate of the favored class were not obtained as the gifts and favors of God, nor generally by honest industry and frugality; but were "seized" and appropriated in the long-ago by the ancestors of the present holders, – at a time when the motto was, "MIGHT makes RIGHT."
As the people come to see that the land is the basis of power and wealth, they realize that they are largely at the mercy of the aristocratic land-lords upon whose lands they raise their food and upon which they have built their houses. They see that every child born in the land increases the value of the land and thus its rental value, and thus also the wealth of the lords and nobles, and the wealth, the influence and the power of all of the favored class, and decreases proportionately the value of labor and its influence. They see that governmental reform has gone about as far as it possibly can go under the present organization of society. They see that the land-power must in some manner be revolutionized, so that it will be more evenly divided among the sober, industrious, and growingly intelligent people.
All thoughtful men can see that because of the increased light it will be necessary to distribute the power, influence and other advantages accruing from ownership of the soil more generally than at present among the people; otherwise all respect for title to land from possession will soon be lost, and public sentiment will cease to protect by jury-verdicts, or by police and army service, the extravagant claims and titles of the few, as against themselves, the public, the many.
There is in mankind in general a sense of honor and honesty which under favorable circumstances is disposed to respect the rights of each other: (1) To all improvements, representing either mental or physical or machine labor put upon land to the enhancement of its value, such as buildings, fencing, shrubbery, cultivation, etc. (2) To possession of land of which a man is said in law to be "seized;" whether he got first possession by original discovery when the land was wild, unclaimed and unused, or whether it represents by purchase the energy and frugality of one or more generations. (3) Even if it could be proved that the title to property in the remote past came by fraud or by war, during the "dark ages," the majority of public sentiment agrees not to ignore present titles and interests of present innocent and honest holders.
Nevertheless there is a limit to honor, honesty and generosity among the masses of men, beyond which it would be imprudent for the land-holding element to permit their case to go. When it comes to the point, as it has now done in Great Britain, where the population is greater than the soil under tillage will support in later-day decency and comfort, and where the landlords refuse to sell, and where the tenants would be unable to purchase by reason of long paying as rent all that the land would produce over the actual and bare necessities of life, the danger line is reached. There is danger not only of the masses refusing to protect the few in their claimed and hitherto recognized "rights" and wrongs, but there is danger of the sense of honor and respect for vested rights becoming soured into the very vinegar of hatred and envy, which would cancel and abolish forever all present claims and titles to the soil, as well as to royalty and general favoritism.
Ah! laugh the Lords, such a prognostication is contradicted by all history. There have been agitations on the land question and other questions in the past very similar to these now in progress in Ireland and Scotland. History repeats itself. The results of present agitations will be the same as those of the past – the survival of the fittest. Royalty has not only the land, but the money and the brains and the control. We will stick to our colors. The result will favor us. We have conceded to the people all we can or will concede; for the more we concede the more they demand. To concede more than at present, would be to concede and give up all our power and advantage; and we will never do that. The people must learn to respect the law of supply and demand, and must not come whining to us of what they would like and what they do not like. If they do not want to live on our lands and pay the rents we demand, let them emigrate to America or elsewhere. As long as they have oats and potatoes they need not starve. What need have they for more? Ambition and knowledge are curses to the poor; they get dissatisfied with their lot in life and the station in society assigned them by Providence. If their families become too numerous for such portions of the soil as we wish to rent, let them break their families and their family ties and let them remember that they have no rights whatever that we and our families are bound to respect. The facts that for centuries they and their fathers have lived upon the soil and have really given it its value, and that they have paid us and our fathers rents which would amount to hundreds of times the value of the lands, and that upon these rents our families have lived in elegance and luxury, – all this passes for nothing. We have the power; the present organization, its present laws and regulations, recognize our authority under the general law of supply and demand. The supply of people is plentiful and ever increasing, and the demand and value is consequently on the decrease. The supply of land is limited and its proportion of acreage to population decreasing, and the demand and value is consequently increasing. This law of supply and demand suits us, and it cannot be changed under the present organization of society. And we hold the key of power and do not fear a revolution. We have the Church, and the influence and wealth which secures the army and navy, and we have all the intelligent people upon our side, who all see that they would risk much in our overthrow.
But, "when they shall say, 'Peace and safety,' then sudden destruction cometh upon them as travail." They seem to overlook the fact that times are changed; that many are running to and fro, and knowledge is increased greatly among the common people. Superstitions and reverence for men and laws and customs are [R1153 : page 1] fading out fast. History, in its records of the past efforts of the people for liberty and rights, social, financial and political, states the fact that the few could and did gain the victory over the many, because of the greater intelligence of the few which enabled them to use the leverage [R1153 : page 2] of power upon the fulcrum of superstition and thus to control the masses. The conditions are all changed, as we have seen the Prophet Daniel foretold, by the increase of knowledge. "Knowledge is power!" It sets free the slaves of superstition. It tells them that the earth is the Lord's, and that he gave its soil as well as its air and its water to the children of men in common, and not to a favored class; and that each may seize and hold only so much as he can and will use and cultivate; especially after vacant or "wild" lands are all taken up. It tells them that though all men are not equal, (some men having a superiority and fitness, moral, mental or physical, over and above other men, which qualifies them for the more important positions and honors and trusts of the public service,) yet all men are free to do anything that is right or good in the service of their fellow-men that they may be found the most capable of doing. In a word, knowledge shows that class distinctions which make anything else than character and ability the tests of the right to do all the ruling of the world, are not to be tolerated, and are not authorized either by reason or by God's Word.
The fact that we have cited Great Britain as an illustration should not be understood as implying that its aristocracy and its common people exhibit the extremes on this question. Quite to the contrary. The extremes of society are much wider in other countries of Europe, and the injustice practiced upon the common people greater, because, more degraded, they will submit to it. Increase of knowledge is the remedy for all. The following clipping from the Fortnightly Review tells of a much wider difference in Hungary. The correspondent says: –
"Aristocratic traditions still prevail, and a nobleman thinks nothing of flogging a peasant whom he finds straying in his park, or directing his game-keeper to set man-traps for poachers. A friend of mine, who lately rented some shooting from a Hungarian nobleman, was informed by the game-keeper of the latter how he had treated a poacher whom he once found in his master's preserves with some wires in his hand. He twisted the wires into a noose, with which he hung the man to a tree, and waited till his victim's face became black before letting him down. This process he repeated three or four times, until he considered the punishment adequate.
"It is sad to see the wretched peasants, who are requisitioned as 'beaters,' paraded before a battue on a bitterly cold morning, and again paraded in the evening, while their clothing is searched by the gamekeeper before they are given their scanty pay and allowed to return to the villages, sometimes many miles distant, from which they have been summoned."
And the same or even worse conditions prevailed in France until the Revolution, in the end of the last century, when the people arose and confiscated property and abolished the privileges of the aristocratic class. All know of the terrible state of affairs that overthrow of aristocracy and royalty caused. The streets literally ran with blood and for a while anarchy prevailed. And as the Lord shows us through the Prophet Daniel that the knowledge now being shed abroad will bring about the great time of trouble, such as was not since there was a nation, so he shows through the symbols of John the Revelator that the French Revolution was a picture and foretaste of that great trouble coming upon the whole civilized world.
The coming trouble will be a period of divine judgment upon the kingdoms of so-called "Christendom" and upon the nominal church so closely yoked to them, none the less because it comes about in a natural way. It will render vengeance and justice to those who have misrepresented God's character and plans for the upholding of their own false systems political and ecclesiastical; and who in the name of God's church, in the name of Christ's kingdom, and in the name of his law and authority, have abused their power and influence selfishly, and frequently presented more of the spirit and methods of Satan than of Christ.
Beloved, followers of Christ, avenge not yourselves. Wait ye on the Lord. He will establish a righteous administration of government shortly, and is already preparing his implements (unknown to the world) by which the present rule shall be brought to an end and the control of earth given to a truly royal class (Christ and the Church), whose perfection and love shall secure to men every advantage, and shall bring the willing and obedient up by restitution to that grand perfection of Eden, lost by sin. And then the dominion of earth shall again be given to again competent man.
[The following letter from a Brother who is a minister and the editor of a prominent religious journal will be read with interest. As it was not written for publication we withhold the name of the writer and his journal. – EDITOR.]
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – For the first time in my life have I found my own views so forcibly presented as you present them. In so far as I have this day read MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. I., I certainly will want Vol. II. I have with an open Bible figured out substantially the same Plan of Salvation, as set forth by your felicitous pen and warm hearted intelligence. I may write you more fully when I have gone through your entire course. To tell you plainly, I have hesitated about advocating my views, though clear to me, for so great difference exists as compared with the received theology, and the mass of the nominal church, that I have hesitated, needing more light, backbone or perhaps spirit, to declare fully what I believed I saw as the Plan of God.
I have not read enough of your book to really now know that we are together, but such have been my own exercises, yea, I might say, ordeals as this most captivating system beautifully unfolded to my mental, moral and spiritual vision, as I studied Holy Writ. Excuse haste; I am on the eve of leaving home for a few days, but felt I must write you.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – Last winter I read a copy of ZION'S WATCH TOWER and found it so interesting that I at once subscribed for it and sent for a copy of THE PLAN OF THE AGES. I found what I had been seeking for, the truth in regard to the real purpose of God. Now I see that in Adam we lost all and through Christ, the second Adam, we regain "that which was lost." I see the present position and relation of man toward his Creator, the real object of the present dispensation, as well as the time and object of the second advent. Also in regard to eternal torment, the present accountability or free moral agency of man, the fate of those who die in infancy, the insane, the heathen and the unbelievers; also why there is so much indifference manifested in regard to the religion of Jesus Christ, and how to account for the disgraceful, hypocritical and inconsistent conduct of many of those who profess to be Christians. I had long since suspected that there was something wrong in so-called Orthodoxy, but owing to religious impressions inculcated in early days, the opposition manifested by the clergy and professed Christians in general, when explanation was demanded or doubts expressed in regard to the correctness of the doctrines as formulated in their church creeds, and the want on my part of sufficient light on these subjects, I could not find my way out of Babylon, but was left groping in darkness, till it pleased God through your instrumentality to lift up the veil, when, behold! old things of darkness passed away and all things became new.
To-day I feel as a new man, free from the spirit of sectarianism and formalism, emancipated from all bondage to the creeds and traditions of men. Hence all things are looked at from a different standpoint. Society in all its ramifications, whether it be considered in a religious, political or social sense, has an entirely different aspect from what it formerly had. A flood of light has been thrown over the world, and though darkness yet covers the earth, those who are watching can see that "the morning cometh." All who earnestly desire to know the truth and abide therein who read THE PLAN OF THE AGES and THE TIME IS AT HAND, receive such blessings and partake of such joys as tongue cannot express.
May God's blessing rest upon you and your companion. Yours in Christ,
TOWER TRACT SOCIETY: – Fortunately I got hold of the little tract on The Wages of Sin, and I find it contains more good sound sense than I am used to hearing. I wish you would send me something else equally good, and prices. I will order the PLAN OF THE AGES soon.
BRETHREN – THOUGH STRANGERS: – By mere accident, or providentially, I have just met your Tract, "Old Theology," on CALAMITIES, and I hunger for more of this bread. I am an old pastor of the M. E. Church and am packing up for a journey near at hand, being 75 years old. I am sorry I had not met you or your Old Theology years ago. Pray, who are you? Some of like faith I met in London and in Paris a year ago and admired much.
Can you send me your two Tracts (a copy of each) Nos. 1 and 2, with any other short publications that will tell me of your faith? Do you publish a paper? If so send me a sample copy, and I will try to extend your list.
I am delighted with your Tract No. 2, and hope to learn more of Bible truth from your standpoint. By sending more in this line you will cheer and comfort. Yours in the Master,
TOWER TRACT SOCIETY, FRIENDS: – On last Sunday morning as the writer was boarding the street car, a pleasant looking gentleman handed him a little tract – The Old Theology – "CALAMITIES, AND WHY GOD PERMITS THEM." It was read with very much interest; and I drop this line to inquire what particular sect it is that is spreading this interpretation of the Scriptures? I am not a member of any church, unless a birthright in the Hicksite Quaker Church would make me one; but Jesus is the adoration of my soul, and the perfect ideal of my conception. How strange that the Church in main understandeth him not, and how strange that the Bible seems to be a sealed book to most of its members.
Will you kindly send to the above address a copy of the paper mentioned on page 32 of above named tract, and oblige Yours sincerely,
[The above three letters are given as samples of letters continually coming to hand, which show that the Old Theology Tracts are reaching some who have ears to hear the good tidings. Tract No. 2 seems to give the best results with new ears. All who have not seen it should order a sample copy, free. Tract No. 3 – "PROTESTANTS, AWAKE!" will be ready shortly.] page 2
At Frankfort my box on the street (pulpit) was below the level of the side walk and over this high curb which lined the walk one man laughingly remarked, how the people with bright, open eyes and eager manner stretched their necks to hear, not losing a word. Who could hesitate to preach with such listeners? No doubt you would like to be out in this preaching field also – How I wish you could be. It quickens me greatly to see an interest so keen. Some think me a powerful preacher, but I am not; but the truth has made me free, and the poor sheep are so hungry.
I shall make an effort to sell more of DAWN, Vol. II. I see with Bro. Rogers how much we need a few who have the whalebone effect of the two DAWNS. I sold two Vol. II. to-day on the merit of Vol. I., and to such we do a great service, a double service, as Bro. Rogers also says.
I think many might find old or young colporteurs to represent them, and ought to do so. I have one lady agent here who has sold some. If we had many agents and each sold but a few the aggregate would be large.
Mrs. A. wishes to join in kind regards and Christian love to you and Sister Russell. Dear Bro. Russell, much love, and may grace and peace in the Holy Spirit be yours.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – As this is a day of rest, I have a little leisure to write. I must let you know that the words of the holy Scriptures (1 Pet. 4:1-7) which you proclaimed on the first Lord's day of this month [Sept.] are still stimulating me for the service of the Anointed.
I met two brethren at East Liverpool who were at the Passover last April. We had of course an "Emmaus" talk together, conversing about the things which are being brought about through the invisible parousia of the Chief and Head Reaper – the King of kings and Lord of lords – our glorious Spirit-Bridegroom! O what a privilege to be in the great harvest-work that is now going on. I also met a distant relative of yours, a physician, and had a short conversation with him. Before I got through he bought the first and second Vols. He read several chapters of Vol. I. before I left the town. I met him again just before leaving, and he said that he was well pleased with the contents of the work so far. I then recommended the Z.W.T. to him.
I also met a certain Israelite, a God-fearing man, who upon my introduction of MILLENNIAL DAWN was all ear to hear, especially when I told him about the "restitution," and that the God of heaven through their Messiah was about to "set up" the long-promised Kingdom as foretold through Daniel, the prophet, and all through the Holy Writings. I asked him whether he believed what God had declared. He answered very emphatically – "Yes!" He also believed in the restoration of the Jewish race to Palestine, and I was surprised to find him well informed and versed on these topics according to the Law and the Prophets. After the conversation with him, he bought the first and second Vols. and said: "If I like it, I will also get that journal," which I meanwhile had recommended to him. And leaving him he said, "I am glad that I have met you," to which I responded and wished him the Hebrew-departure.
I also met an old soldier who was much taken with name and contents of MILLENNIAL DAWN. He bought the first Vol., and as my lodging-place was near his home I had opportunity to talk to him several times and he was willing to hear.
Monday, the 9th of this month, I left L__________, and arrived safely at Steubenville. I went right to work, beginning at the depot, and sold the remainder of that day 18 copies of DAWN; Tuesday 22; Wednesday __________; Thursday 32; Friday 18; and Saturday 31. On Wednesday I toiled all day, a long day, too, but I "caught nothing." It reminded me of John 21:3. But on Thursday I did well, as you see.
Yours in the service of the Anointed, and with kind regards to all at the office and at home.
We see not, know not; all our way
Is night; with thee alone is day.
From out the torrent's troubled drift,
Above the storm our prayer we lift,
Thy will be done!
The flesh may fail, the heart may faint;
But who are we to make complaint,
Or dare to plead in times like these
The weakness of our love of ease?
Thy will be done!
We take with solemn thankfulness
Our burden up, nor ask it less,
And count it joy that even we
May suffer, serve, or wait on thee,
Whose will be done!
Though dim as yet in tint and line,
We trace thy picture's wise design,
And thank thee that our age supplies
The dark relief of sacrifice,
Thy will be done!
And if in our unworthiness
Thy sacrificial wine we press,
If from thy ordeal's heated bars
Our feet are seamed with crimson scars,
Thy will be done!
If, for the age to come, this hour
Of trial hath vicarious power,
And, blest by thee, our present pain
Be liberty's eternal gain,
Thy will be done!
Strike, thou the Master, we thy keys,
The anthem of thy destinies!
The minor of thy loftier strain,
Our hearts shall beat the old refrain,
Thy will be done!
In the midst of the great revolutions of thought in this wonderfully revolutionary period which the Scriptures term "The Day of Jehovah" – "the day of his preparation" for the Millennial reign of Christ, it is refreshing to observe that the dim outlines of God's real purpose are already beginning to dawn upon the minds of sincere thinkers who are not yet prepared for such a radical transformation of their theological views as God's plan of the ages makes manifest to others of God's believing watchmen on the towers of Zion.
While echoes from the pulpits of eminent theologians in the great cities savor strongly of the rankest infidelity, which strikes at the very foundation doctrine of Christianity – the atonement through the precious blood of Christ – we see that a few are beginning to get their eyes open to the real truth. They begin to see "men as trees walking;" and as the signs of the Master's presence become more and more manifest in the events of this day of his presence, all who preserve the attitude of disciples will be led into clearer light more or less rapidly, according to the measure of their earnestness, diligence and freedom from sectarian and other prejudices. Below we give some extracts from Mr. Talmage's discourse of Sunday, Sept. 8th, on the above text – "The day is at hand" – which we consider quite remarkable.
They give evidence that Mr. Talmage is getting awake, though he has not yet arisen from the old creed bed which is evidently too short for him and its coverings uncomfortably narrow. (Isa. 28:20.) Yet, rubbing his eyes, he recollects the divine promise of coming day as he hears the great clock of the ages strike the hours of early morning, and sincere faith and the noble impulses of a generous nature catch the inspiration of the prophet-apostle, and he re-echoes his words – "The night is far spent; the day is at hand!" While we cannot endorse all that this eminent Christian brother says on the subject, but must here and there offer criticism, yet we rejoice that the gentleman and his thousands of hearers and readers have been brought face to face with so much truth so forcibly and so widely promulgated. Mr. Talmage said: –
"I find a ray of the dawn in the compression of the world's distances. What a slow, snail-like, almost impossible thing would have been the world's rectification with 1,400,000,000 of population and no facile means of communication; but now, through telegraphy for the eye and telephonic intimacy for the ear, and through steamboating and railroading, the 25,000 miles of the world's circumference are shriveling up into insignificant brevity. Hong Kong is nearer to New York than a few years ago New Haven was; Bombay, Moscow, Madras, Melbourne within speaking distance. Purchase a telegraph chart, and by the blue lines see the telegraphs of the land, and by the red lines the cables under the ocean. You see what opportunity this is going to give for the final movements of Christianity. A fortress may be months or years in building, but after it is constructed it may do all its work in twenty minutes. Christianity has been planting its batteries for nineteen centuries, and may go on in the work through other centuries; but when those batteries are thoroughly planted, and those fortresses are fully built, they may do all their work in twenty-four hours.
"The world sometimes derides the Church for slowness of movement. Is science any quicker? Did it not take science 5,652 years to find out so simple a thing as the circulation of the human blood? With the earth and the sky full of electricity, science took 5,800 years before it even guessed that there was any practical use that might be made of this subtle and mighty element. When good men take possession of all these scientific forces, and all these agencies of invention, I do not know that the redemption of the world will be more than the work of half a day. Do we not read the queen's speech at the proroguing of Parliament the day before in London? If that be so, is it anything marvelous to believe that in twenty-four hours a divine communication can reach the whole earth? Suppose Christ should descend on the nations – many expect that Christ will come among the nations personally – suppose that tomorrow morning the Son of God from a hovering cloud should descend upon these cities. Would not that fact be known all the world over in twenty-four hours.
"Suppose he should present his Gospel in a few words saying: 'I am the Son of God. I come to pardon all your sins and to heal all your sorrow; to prove that I am a supernatural being, I have just descended from the clouds; do you believe me, and do you believe me now?' Why, all the telegraph stations of the earth would be crowded as none of them were ever crowded, just after a shipwreck. I tell you all these things to show it is not among the impossibilities or even the improbabilities that Christ will conquer the whole earth, and do it instanter, when the time comes."
Here, after drawing an excellent lesson, Brother Talmage greatly mars it by one of his astounding suppositions. His difficulty is, that he is depending too much upon his own imagination and has not noted that God's Word reveals exactly what his great work is, and how it will be done when his "due time" shall have arrived, and that he has not left us to our various and imperfect suppositions.
It is a fact abundantly supported by Scripture as well as by common sense, as Mr. T. intimates, that the past six thousand years have been God's time for preparing the world (by many sad disappointments) for his blessing and kingdom, and also for preparing those who shall be God's agents and instruments in that work of general blessing. The first 1656 years of earth's history, down to the Deluge – the period of the ministration of angels – showed to angels and to men the inability of angels to recover fallen man. In fact, by the fall there of some of the angels (Compare Heb. 2:5; Jude 6; and 2 Pet. 2:4,5, with Gen. 6:2-4.) it became manifest that evil was very contaminating and demoralizing even to the pure, and could only be dealt with as a plague – stamped out. During the Jewish age, God illustrated through Israel and the Law that by the deeds of the law no flesh could be justified in God's sight and that the blood of bulls and goats can never take away sin, but were at the very most types or illustrations pointing forward to the "better sacrifices" which God had intended from the very first. Thus 4000 years elapsed before even a basis of reconciliation between God and his condemned human creatures had been provided. And yet, the delay had not been too long, for the record is that it was "in due time God sent forth his Son" to redeem the world and thus to lay the foundation for their reconciliation with God. Now over 1800 years more have elapsed, and God's Word declares that his work during this period has been the electing or selecting of a very choice class from among men – a worthy remnant of Israel who received Messiah at his first advent (including the apostles) and a similarly faithful and tried class from among all nations since – in all a "little flock," "a peculiar people," "a royal [R1155 : page 3] priest-hood." And these have been "called" under the express promise that when a fore-ordained number shall have been selected and tried and found worthy, then this select company shall be made glorious spiritual beings and be united with Christ Jesus their Lord, in order that as joint-heirs with him they may be the promised "Seed" (Gen. 12:2,3; compare Gal. 3:16,29) in which all the families of the earth shall be blessed. These are "called" to suffer with Christ in the present time (to thus show their love and devotion to him and the truth) and to reign with him in an age to follow this, in which, they are told, they are to judge [grant trial to] the world and also angels. (See 1 Cor. 6:2,3.) And it is to the end that they may be very sympathetic judges and teachers (kings and priests unto God and for men) that, as their leader was, they now are required to be tempted in all points.
But while agreeing that the past 6000 years have gotten fully ready for the conquest of the world for God, we must dissent from the view expressed by Brother Talmage, that this conquest will be accomplished in a day of twenty-four hours. That Immanuel, the new king, who is to take his great power and reign, establishing that Kingdom of God, for which he taught us to pray, "Thy Kingdom come," could, if he desired, introduce it by a marvelous demonstration in the sky that would affright the world and convince all men of his "all power in heaven and in earth," we do not for one moment question. And that by such a process he could wring from every throat the cry, "I believe," we do not dispute. But such is not the work which our Lord comes to do, is our objection. The Scriptures declare a different object and a different method. To bend the knee and cry, "I believe," is not the sum of God's requirements. If so, Christ's reign might indeed terminate quickly – in a day of twenty-four hours. But if it is to be thus sudden and by an outward display of power, where was the use of the long preparation? Why spend 1800 years selecting and educating and disciplining the elect church for that oft declared work of reigning with Christ and judging the world in righteousness, if the entire period of reigning and judging is to be twenty-four hours? And if the plan should be carried out as Mr. Talmage suggests, wherein would be found the usefulness of the great preparations God has been making for this coming work? – the telegraphs and telephones and printing presses, etc.: would they not be next to useless for such a conquest? If this be the method, it might have been carried out without any of these latter-day preparations and long ago. Had such been his method our Lord could have appeared in such a cloud and waiting there for 24 hours, he could in thunder tones have spoken to and been seen by every living creature of earth far more forcibly than by descending to one of the great cities, to telegraph and telephone his arrival all over the world, or to have newspaper Extras of his proclamation gotten out on lightning presses and sent by Limited Mail trains.
But no; with no such unseemly haste will God's great plan, for which the past six thousand years have been only the preparatory steps, be consummated. How apt we are to get into a hurry and to expect God to do so too. How apt we are to forget what the prophet declared and the apostle repeated that a thousand years in God's sight are but as yesterday, a day with the Lord as a thousand years with men. Christ comes to reign; "he must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet;" and he shall reign, and the church of the first resurrection with him, for "a thousand years." – 1 Cor. 15:25; Rev. 20:2,4.
When he who redeemed all in due time, shall likewise in due time set up his kingdom, it will be so ordered that it will afford ample opportunity for the overcoming saints, as his joint-heirs, to put fully into exercise in dealing with the sick, deaf and blind world all the preparatory lessons which they have received in the present age; – restoring the willing ones back to all the favors and blessings lost in Adam and redeemed for them by Christ's all-sufficient ransom-sacrifice.
The telegraph, telephone, improved printing presses and rapid mail service will each and all, too, have their part to do in that great work of carrying the "good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people" (Luke 2:10); in testifying in due time, to all, the ransom accomplished, the reconciliation possible, and the conditions of the new covenant; in causing the knowledge of the Lord to fill the earth as the waters cover the sea. – 1 Tim. 2:5,6; Isa. 11:9; Hab. 2:14.
It will not be sufficient that men shall cry out, "I believe;" for devils also believe and tremble. The reign of Christ will not be for the purpose of showing how many can be brought to believe; but for the purpose of testing and trying the world, after they have come to a knowledge of the truth – after they have "believed," to prove whether they shall will to be in harmony with God and obedient to him and his perfect law of love. God proposes to give back through Christ perfect life and all that man lost through disobedience, but only to such as accept of Christ, as Redeemer and King, and who, surrendering self-will, shall come so fully into harmony with God that they will hate sin and love righteousness. And before giving everlasting life to any, God proposes to take more than a mere profession; hence the coming age is called an age of judgment – an age of trial and testing, in which all mankind (except the few who have full knowledge, and hence full trial, now) will be tried fully, justly, impartially, with every favorable opportunity, before Christ, the Judge of all. (Acts 17:31.) Then these who love sin and will to serve it will be separated as [R1155 : page 4] goats from those "sheep" whose delight is in the law of the Lord (love). The one class shall receive the blessing and gift of God – everlasting life – while the other shall receive the penalty of sin – death – this time "the second death," the result of the second trial, as the first death was the result of the first trial of our race representatively in Adam. But, because an individual condemnation, the result of a full, complete, individual trial, under full knowledge and with every advantage, it is a finality with them – an everlasting cessation of life, from which there will be no awakening, from which none will ever be redeemed – for "Christ dieth no more." (Rom. 6:9.) His work is to be so thorough and complete as to need no patching. He will reign until all enemies are put under his feet – subdued, destroyed. (1 Cor. 15:25.) Let us note, however, that the word enemies here applies not to the ignorant millions who have never known the Lord, but only to those who, when brought to a full knowledge and full ability, are willingly and knowingly the opponents of righteousness. So then, the great work, just at hand, is not the work of a twenty-four hour day, but the great, grand, God-like work of the Millennial day. It is this great "Day of Christ" that is at hand; announced by the great clock of the ages. Look further, look closer, Brother Talmage!
"There are foretokenings in the air. Something great is going to happen. I do not think that Jupiter is going to run us down or that the axle of the world is going to break, but I mean something great for the world's blessing, and not for the world's damage, is going to happen. I think the world has had it hard enough. Enough, the London plagues. Enough, the Asiatic choleras. Enough, the wars. Enough, the shipwrecks. Enough, the conflagrations. I think our world could stand right well a procession of prosperities and triumphs."
Ah yes! Men should begin to see that the imperfections of climate, and disturbances and irregularities of air, sea and land are not the best that God has power to do for man, and would not be good enough for the friends of God; but they are parts of the curse, parts of the penalty of sin, which are to be done away under the glorious reign of Immanuel, when, through him, God shall wipe away all tears, and when there shall be no more curse. But Brother Talmage is in error, when he says, "Enough" of these has been already experienced. God's Word declares that there is yet a great and final shaking up of church and world to take place. (Heb. 12:26-28.) Daniel's prophecy speaks of it and locates it right here, saying, "At that time shall Michael [Christ] stand up [assume control], and there shall be a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation." (Dan. 12:1.) The apostle James (5:1-7) also foretold this trouble. Thank God that, though a severe lesson, it will be a final one, bringing the world to its senses. After it the peoples will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning-hooks and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain [kingdom] of the Lord. He will teach us his ways and we will walk in his paths." – Isa. 2:2-4.
"Better be on the lookout. Better have your observatories open toward the heavens, and the lenses of your most powerful telescopes well polished. Better have all your Leyden jars ready for some new pulsation of mighty influence. Better have new fonts of type in your printing-offices to set up some astounding good news. Better have some new banner that has never been carried, ready for sudden processions. Better have the bells in your church towers well hung, and the rope within reach, that you may ring out the marriage of the King's Son."
Good! Brother Talmage. We are glad to see that you with us are looking for the union of the Bridegroom to his long-espoused bride, the church. Yes, then the marriage bells, the joyous bells, may well be rung! for then the Spirit and the Bride shall say, Come, and whosoever will may come and take of the water of life freely. – Rev. 22:17. [R1156 : page 4]
"Cleanse all your court-houses, for the Judge of all the earth may appear. Let all your legislative halls be gilded, for the great Lawgiver may be about to come. Drive off the thrones of despotism all the occupants, for the King of heaven and earth may be about to reign."
What is this we hear? Has Mr. Talmage turned "Socialist?" Hear him: "Drive off the thrones of despotism all the occupants; for the King of heaven and earth may be about to reign." Aye, this is socialism – of the heavenly, Bible sort, however. Surely the utterer of these words remembered that it was written by the prophet, "In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall break in pieces and consume all these." (Dan. 2:44.) It is a mistake to suppose that the great ones of earth, now in power, will recognize the principles of the new era, the Day at hand, and voluntarily resign the power and offices which at so great cost they have so long held on to. No; as Mr. Talmage puts it, they will have to be driven off their thrones. [The saints, however, fight not with carnal weapons and will have nothing to do with this driving.] It is this necessary driving of the political kings and money kings of the world out of power, this cleansing of legislation and the courts of justice, that must come so surely as the new King comes, and the new Day, that will cause the great time of trouble foretold by the apostles and prophets. He continues: –
"One more ray of the Dawn I see in facts chronological and mathematical. Come now, do not let us do another stroke of work until we have settled one matter. What is going to be the final issue of this great conquest between sin and righteousness? Which is going to prove himself the stronger, God or Diabolus? Is this world going to be all garden or all desert? Now let us have that matter settled. If we believe Isaiah and Ezekiel and Hosea, and Micah and Malachi, and John and Peter, and Paul and Christ, we believe that it is going to be all garden."
Hark! That is the Restitution note, Vox Jubilante! Praise the Lord! Brother Talmage must have been studying as well as resting during his summer vacation. He has found a stop in the Grand Organ of divine harmonies that he never found before. Praise the Lord! we are delighted to know that he has an ear and a voice for this restitution music – the new song. He has, no doubt, given attention to the Apostle Peter's announcement; for in his words above, he almost quotes Peter's expression in Acts 3:19-21: "Times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you, whom the heaven must retain until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." Well begun, go on, Brother Talmage and, as promised, let us hear from you this vox jubilante of restitution frequently hereafter.*
"But let us have it settled. Let us know whether we are working on toward a success or toward a dead failure. If you are in a cyclone off the Florida coast, and the captain assures you the vessel is staunch and the winds are changing for a better quarter, and he is sure he will bring you safe into the harbor, you patiently submit to present distress with the thought of safe arrival. Now I want to know whether we are coming on toward dismay, darkness and defeat, or on toward light and blessedness. [Surely one or the other.] You and I believe the latter, and if so, every year we spend is one year subtracted from the world's woe, and every event that passes, whether bright or dark, brings us one event nearer a happy consummation: and by all that is inexorable in chronology and mathematics I commend you to good cheer and courage. If there is anything in arithmetic, if you subtract two from five and leave three, then by every rolling sun we are going on toward a magnificent terminus. Then, every winter passed is one severity less for our poor world. Then, every summer gone by brings us nearer unfading arborescence. Put your algebra down on the top of your Bible and rejoice."
No; no, Brother Talmage, it is the Bible, not the algebra, that is fulfilling. Let us, then, keep the Bible on top – and let us keep it open. It is the light to our path, the lantern to our footsteps; therefore we are not in darkness that that day should overtake us as a thief. (1 Thes. 5:4.) Let us lift up the lamp and keep it uncovered. Let the light shine. He proceeds:
"It is nearer morning at three o'clock than it is at two; if it is nearer morning at 4 o'clock than it is at three, then we are nearer the dawn of the world's deliverance. God's clock seems to go very slowly, but the pendulum swings and the hands move, and it will yet strike noon.
"There is a class of phenomena which makes me think that the spiritual and the heavenly world may, after a while, make a demonstration in this world which will bring all moral and spiritual things to a climax. Now, I am no spiritualist; but every intelligent man has noticed that there are strange and mysterious things which indicate to him that perhaps the spiritual world is not so far off as sometimes we conjecture, and that after a while from the spiritual and heavenly world there may be a demonstration upon our world for its betterment. We call it magnetism, or we call it mesmerism, or we call it electricity, because we want some term to cover up our ignorance. I do not know what that is. I never heard an audible voice from the other world. I am persuaded of this, however, that the veil between this world and the next is getting thinner and thinner, and that perhaps, after a while, at the call of God – not at the call of the Davenport Brothers, or Andrew Jackson Davis – some of the old spiritual warriors, some of the spirits of other days, mighty for God – a Joshua, or a Caleb, or a David, or a Paul – may come down and help us in this battle against unrighteousness.
"Oh, how I would like to have them here – him of the Red Sea, him of the valley of Ajalon, him of Mars Hill. History says that Robert Clayton, of the English cavalry, at the close of a war, bought up the old cavalry horses, lest they be turned to drudgery and hard work, and bought a piece of ground at Navesmire heath and turned those old war horses into the thickest and richest pasture to spend the rest of their days for what they had done in other days. One day a thunderstorm came up, and these war horses mistook the thunder of the skies for the thunder of battle, and they wheeled into line – no riders on their backs – they wheeled into line ready for the fray. And I doubt me whether, when the last thunder of this battle for God and truth goes booming through the heavens, the old Scriptural warriors can keep their places on their thrones. Methinks they will spring into the fight and exchange crown for helmet, and palm branch for weapon, and come down out of the King's galleries into the arena, crying: 'Make room! I must fight in this great Armageddon.'"
After removing much of the rich hyperbole and rhetorical clothing from this mental picture, we find beneath it all something more real perhaps than even Brother Talmage realized in this passage. The Lord, the apostles and all the overcomers of the Gospel age will indeed be present in the earth and take a part in the great conflict, figuratively called "the Battle of the Great Day of God Almighty." But not visibly, nor with carnal weapons, need they be looked for, but as spirit-beings, powerful and yet invisible, like the angels, as we have found the Scriptures to plainly teach. (See DAWN, Vol. II.) There is indeed to be, and that ere long, a great demonstration by the heavenly church and a restoration of olden-time communication between heaven and earth (Gen. 18:1,2; 19:1; Luke 22:43; Matt. 4:11) of which Spiritism's lying wonders and communications are but slanderous counterfeits of Satan, to deceive and lead into error and to the rejection of the Redeemer, if it were possible, the very elect. Thank God, his Word shows clearly and positively that the enemy hath now but a short time and will soon be bound, restrained, that he can deceive no more during the thousand years of Christ's reign.
And there will be others here toward the close of this "battle" – the patriarchs and prophets of old, "until John," will be joining in at the last, after the last members of the body of Christ have been "changed" from human to spiritual beings. And these, though not bloody warriors, will be visible men – perfected MEN. "Ye shall see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom." Not from the skies shall these light down, but from the dust of the earth they shall be awaked perfect men, samples of the grand estate to which all may attain by obedience to the regulations of that Millennial Kingdom – of which these perfect ones will be the earthly representatives and exponents.
As the overcomers of the Gospel age are to be joint-heirs with Christ, sharers of the new spiritual dominion over earth, which is to bless all the families of the earth, so the overcomers of the previous time, though not called to heavenly honors and nature, are to be associated in the Kingdom work of blessing as the earthly seed of Abraham, who shall inherit the earthly portions of the promises made to Abraham (Rom. 4:12-16,17), that the promise might be sure unto all (both parts of) the seed, not to that only which is of the law, but unto that also which is of the faith of Abraham [aside from the Law] – who typified him in whom he believed, even God. [R1157 : page 4]
Of these noble old patriarchs [fathers] in whose genealogy Mary and Jesus are found, it is written: "Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes [rulers, chief ones] in all the earth." (Psa. 45:16.) And this will be literally fulfilled when Christ as King appoints those resurrected and perfected men as the rulers, exemplars, and teachers of men. For they were his fathers in the sense of being Mary's progenitors, and they will become Christ's children and he their everlasting father, and father to all men who shall be restored to the Eden-lost perfection and to everlasting life, in that he who redeemed the world [R1157 : page 5] is to be also the Restorer and Life-giver (Father) to all the willing and obedient. Mr. Talmage closed his discourse thus: –
"Brother! brother! all I am afraid of is, not that Christ will lose the battle, but that you and I will not get into it quick enough to do something worthy of our blood-bought immortality. O Christ! how shall I meet Thee, Thou of the scarred brow, and the scarred back, and the scarred hand, and the scarred foot, and the scarred breast, if I have no scars or wounds gotten in the service? It shall not be so. I step out to-day in front of the battle. Come on, you foes of God, I dare you to the combat. Come on, with pens dipped in malignancy. Come on, with tongues forked and viperine and adderous. Come on, I defy you! Come on! I bare my brow, I uncover my heart. Strike! I cannot see my Lord until I have been hurt for Christ. If we do not suffer with Him on earth we cannot glorify with Him in heaven. Take good heart. On! On! On! See! the skies have brightened! See! the hour is about to come! Pick out all the cheeriest of the anthems. Let the orchestra string their best instruments. "The night is far spent, the day is at hand."
Grand sentiments, noble resolves, which our hearts, one and all, we trust, re-echo – faithfulness to Christ, self-sacrifice in his service, in the service of the truth, at any cost, gladly, heartily, quickly, before "the night cometh, wherein no man can work." For, though the glad morning is drawing close, the prophet warns us that the short, but sharp, terrible time of trouble precedes it, saying: The morning cometh, but a night also.
But heed not the shadows, fear not the trouble, if you are a member of the faithful consecrated, "The King's Own," for he is on your side as well as you on his side. He has promised, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. He has, even when telling us of the troubles impending at the present time, said, "Then lift up your heads and rejoice, for your redemption draweth nigh." And praise God for the light which now shows that the redemption or glorification of the church, the body of Christ, is but the first step in the great Redeemer's saving and restoring work, and that full opportunity of deliverance from sin and death shall yet be granted to every creature by the great Deliverer.
"If the Christian of a century ago were to return to New York he would find almost nothing to remind him of his own time except the creed of the Presbyterian Church, and he would wonder why, in the progressive evolution, visible everywhere else, that alone remains unchanged. If he caught the spirit of our time he would see that we are just as eager for the eternal verities, far broader in our charities, more generous in our bequests, and quite as earnest in our pleas for public and private morality as he and his contemporaries were. For that matter he would discover with mingled surprise and gratitude that the chief reason why young men turn away from a clerical career is that they are too conscientious to subscribe to doctrines which neither brain nor heart will allow them to accept.
"Here, for instance, is an illustrious example of the stern theology of the old school. We take it from Edwards' works, and from a sermon which curdled the blood of the last generation. The preacher singed the sinner with the flames not of an avenging but rather of a revengeful justice. Dr. Edwards says: –
"'The God that holds you sinners over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you. He will crush you under his feet without mercy. He will crush out your blood and make it fly, and it shall be sprinkled on His garments so as to stain all his raiment.'
"After a sermon on that line of thought it would seem to be somewhat difficult to repeat the Lord's Prayer. The Fatherhood of God would not be easily established on that statement, and the parable of the shepherd wandering in the dark over hill and through dale to find the one lost sheep after the ninety nine had been safely folded is robbed of all its significance.
"Imagine, if you can, Dr. John Hall or Dr. Howard Crosby, the soundness of whose faith is beyond question, indorsing such language and pronouncing it a fair description of God's relation to the human race. And yet it is strictly within the limits of the creed of a century ago, a creed which the younger Presbyterians desire to have modified. If it is true, why not emphasize it boldly, and if it is not true, why not revise the dogmas which appear to have raised a revolt in the Church?
"The doctrine of foreordination, with its logical consequences, has broken many a man's head and heart. The picture of a burning lake, where writhing wretches curse the day of their birth and execrate the Deity who doomed them to unending misery 'for His own pleasure,' seals the lips of an ardent man who is filled with the desire to bless and help and save a falling world. His eloquence would be that of despair without a ray of hope. He turns from the pulpit and chooses the profession of the law.
"From a purely secular point of view the picture is simply awful. What kind of a government could we have on earth if an emperor should throw three-quarters of his subjects into a prison house, to be tortured, including your father or mother or sister, and then require you to sing his praises and rejoice at their torments? The direful experiment has never been tried, and if it were tried we should either approach the sovereign with servile sycophancy or rebel with the courage of desperation. It would be as impossible to call him wise as it would be false to call him good.
"It is no more strange, then, that the Assembly should be asked to revise such dogmas than that our fathers should have accepted them as true. That the demand is made in the name of vacant pulpits, only shows that to-day is more reverent than yesterday was, that fear of God is giving place to love, and that the world yearns to think of Him as Our Father, with all the words imply.
"Holmes touches the heart of the new age in "The Chambered Nautilus," and we commend these lines to the Assembly as indicating the changes that should be made in the creed of the Presbyterian Church: –"'Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea!'"
It strikes us as scarcely fair to say that the only reminder of the "eternal torment theory" is to be found to-day in the Presbyterian Church and its creed. It was their candor and honesty to their convictions which led the framers of the Westminster Confession to state themselves so pointedly; and however much we feel their views to be erroneous, we should respect them for their candid statement of them. Other denominations believed as fully as the Presbyterians in the doctrine of eternal torment, and still do, and just as zealously now claim to be "orthodox" on this subject – that they now hold the teachings of the founders of the various sects. It is this very candor, too, no doubt, which prevents many Presbyterians from now changing, to suit the public, a creed which still expresses their honest convictions of the teachings of the Bible. Let us honor and respect their candor, however much we may disrespect their creed.
We wish it were true that all other Christians had outgrown that horrible nightmare conceived by Papacy during the dark ages. But it is not true: the majority of Christian people, including the ministers, still hold to this horrible doctrine though their reasons and hearts rebel against it. The reason is, that they think it to be the teaching of the Bible, and it is their very desire to remain anchored to God's Word, that (through a false interpretation of its parables, dark sayings and symbols,) holds them to a doctrine which they feel keenly is a slander upon the character of any just and holy being.
Under these circumstances doubts and fears take possession of their minds. They doubt the Bible and everything and yet they fear that to let go their hold would plunge them into infidelity, or perhaps atheism. Their next resort is to stand perfectly still, – to go neither forward, nor backward; to neither affirm, nor deny; to neither believe, nor disbelieve anything; and on all doctrinal subjects they say, "Let us alone! We are not [R1158 : page 5] theologians and don't want to bother ourselves on such subjects." And this is the attitude of Christian people in general to-day. They do not really and heartily believe the Bible (being hindered by their erroneous view of its teachings), and hence are uniting more and more upon a social and moral platform as sects, instead of on the grand doctrines of God's inspired revelation.
Their attitude calls for sympathy and pity and tender help over their misunderstandings, rather than for abuse and cutting and lashing sarcasm, from those who have escaped from the horrible nightmare which still enthrals them. But we must not let them alone as they desire us to do; love for them, and for our Master's honor, and for the Truth, compels us to cry aloud and spare not, but show God's people their errors (Isa. 58:1), and cause such as really are earnest and honest and seeking for the truth, to see the beauty and grandeur of God's Word and his gracious plan therein revealed.
Nor must those who have the harmonizing truth be slack in this work: the time for labor is short. If not soon convinced of the true teachings of the Bible, which so fully satisfies and convinces the sanctified reason, they will soon openly reject it. The opportunity for convincing them of the real grandeur of the Scriptures is while they yet hold on to them and to some extent respect them. They cannot stand still; for if those who have the truth should, as they so much desire, let them alone, the devil and the world and awakening reason will not let them alone, but will upset all their faith in the Bible and leave them naught but faith in men and in sects of human organization.
"What advantage, my brethren, has anyone, though he say he has faith, but have not works? This faith is not able to save him." – James 2:14.
We are taught that "without faith it is impossible to please God," and if faith without works is of no advantage, the inference is plain, that without works it is equally impossible to please God. And yet, we may have both faith and works and not be pleasing or acceptable to God. It is all-important that we have the right kind of faith and that our works should be the development and outgrowth of that faith.
What, then, is faith? We answer, True faith is the reasonable and accepted conclusion of a logical argument based on a reasonable premise or foundation. And more, it is the only reasonable conclusion to which such a logical argument could lead. Thus, reasoning on the principle of cause and effect, a principle firmly established in all the operations of natural and moral law, we see in the whole realm of nature the evidences of an intelligent Creator. We know that such effects as appear in the order of nature – as for instance the order of the spheres, the succession of the seasons, and of day and night, the growth of vegetation, etc., etc., – could not be produced without an intelligent first cause. And so undeniable is the basis of fact thus furnished in nature's testimony, and so logical the reasoning from cause to effect, that the conclusion – that there is an intelligent, wise and powerful Creator – is so palpable and irresistible that the Scriptures declare the man a fool who does not accept it. – Psa. 14:1.
And yet no man has ever seen God, nor can see him. (John 1:18; 1 Tim. 6:16.) From these data alone we should have faith in God, even if he had given us no written revelation of himself. In a similar manner our faith in his written revelation and in all that it contains is established. For all that God expects us to believe beyond the realm of our senses and observation, he has given us an undeniable foundation of tangible fact, upon which he invites us to use our reasoning powers to arrive at conclusions of which we would otherwise be ignorant. Thus faith is a conviction of things unseen, based on the logical deductions from known facts – a most reasonable thing.
There is nothing more common or necessary among men than faith. We exercise faith in the laws of nature and act upon it constantly. We till the soil and sow the seed in full faith in a future harvest to be brought forth by the continued operation of natural law, reasoning that the sun which shines to-day will shine again to-morrow, that the showers of yesterday will be repeated, and that vegetation will still be true to the old law of development and growth under these favorable conditions. Who thinks of questioning these things? No one. Why? Because we have become thoroughly acquainted with these methods in the past, and faith in them for the future is reasonable; while, on the other hand, doubt and unbelief would be unreasonable and foolish. The man who would refuse to plant for fear the sun would not rise again or the rain fall, would be rightly considered a fool. Why? Because faith is the only reasonable thing where the ground of faith is so well established. Even a child would laugh at another child who could not trust his parents for to-morrow's necessities when to-day's and yesterday's [R1158 : page 6] were abundantly provided for. His lack of faith would be so unreasonable. And just so when we have become acquainted with God, as all may who will study his works and ways in nature and revelation, to doubt is foolish, and full, perfect confidence in his wisdom, justice, love and power, is the only reasonable conclusion.
Therefore it is that "without faith it is impossible to please God." Thus faith, being a reasonable conviction of things unseen, becomes a basis of hope for the things which God has promised. As Paul expresses it, "Faith is a basis of things hoped for, a conviction of things unseen." (Heb. 11:1.) With the same confidence, therefore, with which we look for an autumnal harvest from our spring-time seed-sowing, before we see any sign of it, we should also look for the fulfillment of all God's promises in due season, even before we see the slightest indication of their fulfilment.
There is no difficulty in exercising faith in God and in any and all of his promises if we acquaint ourselves with his character. It should be as unwavering as our confidence that to-morrow's sun will rise. Thus it was in the cases of some commendable example to which the Apostle Paul refers (Heb. 11) – of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David and Samuel, and the prophets, who by faith in the promises and directions of God subdued kingdoms, shut lion's mouths, quenched the power of fire, raised dead ones to life, and in hope of a better resurrection submitted to privations, persecutions and ignominious deaths, having faith in the promise of God to reward their loyalty to him and the grand principles of truth and righteousness, in due time. If God declares that a flood is coming and commands the building of an ark, the reasonable course is to build and to warn men, though the flood and every indication of it should tarry for a hundred and twenty years. When God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son, it was reasonable for Abraham to comply, and to leave the fulfilment of the promises, which centered in that son, to God. When he commanded Lot to flee out of Sodom, it was reasonable for Lot to make haste and depart, though the morning was gloriously fair.
These were commendable acts of simple, child-like, implicit faith. But observe that in every instance of faith commended in the Bible, there was good ground for faith: there was a clear command of God, a well defined principle of truth and righteousness; and no foolish imaginations or vague impressions were blindly followed. How foolish Noah would have been to spend a hundred and twenty years building an ark and warning the people, if he had only imagined that a flood was coming. How culpable Abraham would have been in laying his son on the altar of sacrifice, had he only imagined God desired him to do so. And how simple Lot would have been to run out of Sodom that bright morning declaring that the city would be destroyed, if he had no positive information of it.
But notice that in each instance of unusual requirement God gave clear evidence of his will, either by an angel, a vision, or some remarkable circumstance – ways, however, which are not now necessary since the completed Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments form a perfect guide to faith (2 Tim. 3:15-17), and which, therefore, are not now resorted to. And in the instances of suffering and martyrdom cited, God's will was clearly expressed in the principles of truth and righteousness which he ordained. These illustrations should be specially marked by very many who claim wonderful faith in God, when the chief wonderment about it is their ability to believe so much on so slight a foundation.
In many enterprises, too, undertaken under the name of works of faith, and successfully carried on financially, faith has a better foundation in the sympathies of philanthropic people, than in the plan, methods and promises of God. If Christian people make public statements that they are starting a benevolent enterprise for the amelioration of the present woes of suffering humanity, they may do it with a large degree of faith in the support of benevolent people; even the worldly are often fully as active in these directions as Christians – for instance, mark the responses to calls for help in great calamities and disasters.
Success in these directions of popular benevolence we do not regard as proofs [R1159 : page 6] of remarkable faith in God, though those so engaged are doing good works, and public appeals for assistance in such work are right and proper, under some circumstances at least. A far more remarkable manifestation of faith in God is that humble confidence which espouses his unpopular cause, which perseveres in pursuing it in the face of all opposition and without human encouragement, and which patiently endures whatever of reproach, discouragement, privation, and even persecution it may bring, assured of ultimate triumph according to his promise, and finding in his blessed truth and in his approval all the present reward and incentive desired.
One expression of the Apostle Paul should not be forgotten among us: It reads, "Hast thou faith? have it to thyself." (Rom. 14:22.) If we advertise our faith and our needs and thus make capital out of them by eliciting the sympathies and assistance of men, it is not resting in God to a very great extent; and such soon make manifest to observing Christians that they are endeavoring to be pleasers of men. There is much in the way of profession of great faith and in the relating of really improper proceedings and their results as wonderful feats of faith, which often does great harm to both speakers and hearers.
While a true faith is pleasing to God, what often passes for faith among Christians must be correspondingly displeasing to him. Many, without careful observation and study of God's ways, jump at hasty conclusions, often greatly out of harmony with the spirit of divine truth, and acting and teaching accordingly, dishonor the Lord and bring reproach upon his cause. Among such, too, are often found the loudest boasters of faith. Their faith is so strong, so rooted and grounded and established in what God did not say, that they have no inclination to hear or heed what he did say. In such instances God would be honored far more by the sealing of the lips. Rather let our faith be expressed to God, and let our confidence be manifest to him; and to our brethren let it be manifested more by faithfulness in his service than by words. Thus was the faith of the ancient worthies attested. Where is boasting then? It is excluded by the law of faith. (Rom. 3:27.) The very nature of pure, true faith is opposed to boastfulness. In fact, a humble, faithful walking with God excludes every mean disposition, and elevates the character far beyond them.
Let us endeavor to have more of that pure, true faith
"Which bears unmoved the world's dark frown,the faith which overcomes the world, and the spirit of the world in us, which will remove mountains of difficulty, and secure all that our hearts desire, since it is written, "Ye shall ask what ye will [our wills being in harmony with the will of God], and it shall be granted unto you."
Nor heeds its scornful smile;
Which seas of trouble cannot drown,
Nor Satan's arts beguile" –
When we see, thus, how reasonable a thing faith is, how God through his natural and written revelation of himself appeals to the highest faculty of our nature and bids us follow its leading and rest in and act upon its proper conclusions in studying his works and ways, we realize truly that without faith in him and in his reasonable revelation of himself, in nature and through his apostles and prophets, it is impossible to please him; because we have here a broad and firm foundation for faith.
I sat down in my arm-chair, weary with my work; my toil had been severe and protracted. The church wore an aspect of thrift and prosperity; and joy and hope and courage were the prevailing sentiments on every hand. As for myself, I was joyous in my work; my brethren were united; my sermons and exhortations were evidently telling on my hearers; my church was crowded with listeners; the whole community was more or less moved with the prevailing excitement; and so the work went on. I had been led into exhausting labors for its promotion.
Tired with my work, I soon lost myself in a sort of half forgetful state, though I seemed fully aware of my place and surroundings. Seemingly a stranger entered the room, without any preliminary tap, or "Come in." I saw in his face benignity, intelligence and weight of character; but though he was passably well attired, he carried suspended about his person measures and chemical agents and implements, which gave him a very strange appearance.
I supposed, when he began his question, that the query was to be for my health; but was pleased to hear his final word; for I was quite well pleased with my zeal, and doubted not the stranger would smile when he should know its proportions. Instinctively I conceived of it as a physical quantity, and putting my hand into my bosom, brought it forth and presented it to him for inspection.
I could scarce suppress an audible note of satisfaction; but I caught his earnest look as he noted down the weight; and I saw at once that he had drawn no final conclusion, but was intent on pushing his investigation.
He broke the mass to atoms, put it in his crucible, and put the crucible into the fire. When the mass was thoroughly fused, he took it out, and set it down to cool. It congealed in cooling, and when turned out on the hearth, exhibited a series of layers or strata; which all at the touch of the hammer fell apart, and were severally tested and weighed; the stranger making minute notes, as the process went on.
"Analysis of the zeal of Junius, a candidate for a crown of glory: weight, in mass, 100 lbs., of which, on analysis, there proves to be, viz.: –Bigotry 10 parts. Personal ambition 23 " Pride of talent 14 " Love of praise 19 " Pride of denomination 15 " Love of authority 12 " Love of God 4 " Love of man 3 "
I had become troubled at the peculiar manner of the stranger, and especially, at his parting look and words; but when I looked at the figures my heart sank as lead within me. I made a mental effort to dispute the correctness of the record, but was suddenly startled into a more honest mood by an audible sigh, almost a groan, from the stranger, who had paused in the hall, and by a sudden darkness falling upon me, by which the record became at once obscured and nearly illegible. I suddenly cried out, "Lord, save me!"
I knelt down at my chair, with the paper in my hand, and my eyes fixed upon it. At once it became a mirror, and I saw my heart reflected in it: – The record is true! – I saw it; I felt it; I confessed it; I deplored it; and I besought God, with many tears, to save me from myself: and, at length, with a loud and irrepressible cry of anguish, I awoke.– Selected.
Since all of God's consecrated saints are his ambassadors, ministers of his truth, and members of the royal priesthood, this allegory may be of profit to all. Love of God and love of our fellow-men are the only elements of real zeal in the above analysis. All the other parts are detestable dross in God's sight and will be in ours, as we take God's standpoint of criticism. Let each servant who desires to stand approved of God, examine his own heart, analyze his own zeal, his own motives.
I have often remarked to my friends on the wonderful change that took place in my mind immediately after hearing the "good tidings" – after being shown the narrow way to life in the gospel age, and the restitution of all things in the age now dawning. To compare great things with small, I will illustrate it by another life-experience.
It was my lot to be endowed with power of vision far from perfect – with eyes that were "near-sighted." How much pleasure I lost because of this, I could not tell. I knew there were distant beauties spread before me which from this cause I could but poorly appreciate, and that the delicate features, the intricate combinations and the nice details of nearer objects were lost to my eyes.
But there came a change. A few years ago for the first time I used glasses to aid the eyes. What a transformation! O happy change! That which was beautiful before had now an added charm, and [R1160 : page 6] what was gloomy, dim, obscure, now stood out in such clearness that it seemed a new world was around me, or I a new being, that I could thus behold it.
Now, all these years, what was mental vision showing me? Oh! some perplexing scenes. I looked across the way and saw a family whose future lot I vainly tried to trace. The father was profane, passionate, unkind. The mother was uncultured, overburdened with cares, little inclined and almost wholly unfit to train the children under her care. They were wayward and disobedient. Anger, contention, unkindness, marked their daily life; and self-denial, peace, gentleness, were virtues unknown. Observation taught that likely these children would come to dishonor, unhappy marriage, law-breaking – some of the many forms of sin or [R1160 : page 7] crime, with all their bitterness and pain. I could not see further, but many whose vision was thought clear declared that for this earthly life of evil there was a fearful condemnation – that for these who were reared in ignorance, lived in misery, and died in shame, there was punishment inexpressible and endless, prepared by their Creator, and awaiting them. I could not see, but many told me this.
Down the street, in a home of elegance, lived a very different family. Pride, haughtiness, love of wealth and honors pervaded all things there. The daughter gave herself up to the frivolities of fashion, and was found in the ball-room rather than in the house of worship. The son chose the pleasures of the gaming table, the race course and the club room. Finally he brought woe and shame upon all, for in his passion he slew a man. For the crime he died on the scaffold, and thus two lives went out early, in darkness and unfitness for future happiness.
An aged widow, whose life was one of faith and good works, ceased not to plead with God that some of her children who were unconverted might be brought into the fold before death came to them, lest while part of her dear ones attained the endless bliss of heaven some would be consigned to unutterable, endless anguish.
All things showed that humanity was borne down by an awful burden of sin, while it was required of them, "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord." The most thoughtful might well ask, "Is life worth living? Oh! who shall deliver us from this death?"
The zeal which once warmed my heart to serve the Lord had given way to stoical determination to try to do right and abide the consequences. Not only "I craved what the world never gave," but I sought for what the churches had not to offer. To me a guiding hand was sent by God, lifting the veil that had shrouded the pages of His Word, pointing me to the "good tidings of great joy."
I saw how the world is learning the exceeding sinfulness of sin; that being saved from the prison of death by Him who "gave himself a ransom for all," when they "come again from the land of the enemy" they may know, and fear and shun the way of evil; that "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive;" and that the dark problem of human misery finds solution in the day now being ushered in by the dark hour before the dawn – the day when "the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."
Now, for the first time, I saw not only that justification by faith in the ransom of Jesus saves from the penalty in the coming age, but that to consecrate and sacrifice our justified lives to do the will of God leads, during the Gospel age, to a higher life, spiritual, divine, immortal.
O reader, rejoice with me that having gained the standpoint of belief in "the restitution of all things," the providence of God in the past and his written plan for the coming age are seen in matchless harmony. Rejoice with me that He has "opened our eyes, that we may behold wondrous things out of His law."
There is no preaching of the truth more forcible than the silent influence of a consistent Christian character, bearing in richness and luxuriousness the fruits of the Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, fidelity, meekness, and self-control. And no preaching of the truth, however eloquent, reasonable, and logical, is likely to be productive of results to the glory of God, if not backed by the silent yet potent influence of a consistent Christian life.
Here is a way of preaching the gospel which may be measurably overlooked by some who are anxious to do more active service in the cause we love. Let us not forget that golden opportunities lie all about us. Ye are indeed living epistles, known and read of all men. Our families, our relatives, our neighbors, are judging of the truth by its effects upon us. Let us not forget this for a moment. We must be transparent and let the light of God's truth shine through all our doings.
BRO. C. T. RUSSELL; – In MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., on page 66, I find the following – "Which was at thirty years, according to the Law, under which he was born and to which he and every Jew was subject." Please show me – where the law is recorded that required Jesus or any prophet, priest, or Levite, to submit to the rite of immersion before beginning his office work.
Again, on page 107, last paragraph and ending on page 108, "Was made flesh." If Jesus of Nazareth was a pre-existent being, personally present with the Father ages before the creation of the world, how can he be the promised seed of the woman, who is to crush the serpent's head?
Perhaps you will answer through the TOWER. Yours in hope of speedy redemption, bought by the Woman's Seed.
DEAR BROTHER: – I see that you do not get the idea in the sentence to which you refer, on page 66, Vol. II. The passage reads thus: – "He was anointed with the holy spirit immediately on coming out of the water. This was when he had attained manhood's estate, which was at thirty years, according to the Law, under which he was born, and to which he and every Jew was subject, until he ended its dominion by fulfilling its conditions – nailing it to his cross." The claim here is simply that at the age of thirty years a man was considered of age, according to the law of God under which all Israel was placed.
No Levite was permitted to engage in the work of the tabernacle under thirty. (See Num. 4:3.) And so Christ did not begin the work of the antitypical tabernacle (the work of atonement) until he was thirty. (Luke 3:23.) Our Lord then symbolized his consecration by immersion, but not because he or any other Jew was commanded to do so. He there instituted this simple ceremony as a fitting symbol of his consecration even unto death, and his faith in Jehovah's power to raise him out of death.
It is uncertain at just what time immersion was instituted as a symbol of repentance and reform. John the Baptist used it thus, and it is claimed followed a custom, for some time in vogue among Jewish reformers. Our Lord Jesus, however, gave immersion a wider and a deeper meaning than any other teacher when he, with no sins to repent of or to reform from, was immersed. It there came to be the symbol of entire consecration to God's will; a symbol of death in God's service and of a resurrection reward – a symbol of the death of human self-will and of the beginning of a life entirely conformed to the will of God.
With reference to your last question – "How could the pre-existent one be the promised seed of the woman?" – permit me to suggest that whether you or I can understand how, or not, if we have faith in God's Word, we must admit the fact. There are many facts the philosophy of which we cannot understand, as for instance, the growth and development of plant and animal life. We cannot understand the philosophy of the first creation, nor of the resurrection, the new creation. There are some facts, you see, which are beyond the scope of human reasoning. That our Lord had a pre-existence, we are most positively assured by the following scriptures: – John 6:38, "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." Verse 51, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven." Verses 61,62, "Jesus said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?" John 8:14,23,42,54,55, "I know whence I came and whither I go....I am from above, I am not of this world;...I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. ...It is my Father that honoreth me, and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar."
"Then said the Pharisees, Art thou greater than our father Abraham? Jesus answered, Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? (who had been dead 2000 years). Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." John 8:53,56-58. See also John 17:5, "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." Here he only asked to be restored to what he was before; but the Father, in rewarding his obedience even unto death, "highly exalted him," far beyond that previous glory. See also 2 Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2:7; Rev. 1:8; 3:14; 21:6; 22:13 and Col. 1:15-17.
The Scriptures are also clear in their testimony that he was "the seed of the woman," of which you are convinced. And since the facts are established on God's authority, the how is to us a minor matter. If you have the TOWER for Sept. 1885 notice article "The Undefiled One." I think it will help you. Our supply of this number is exhausted, but we hope to treat the subject in all its revealed and its reasonable phases in DAWN, Vol. IV.
A Brother who has been reading DAWN, VOL. II., and who sees clearly that much of the strength of the argument in Chapter VII. – Parallel Dispensations – lies in the word "double," raises a question the answer to which may interest and strengthen others. We, therefore, give below the question and our answer to it.
He asks: "Is there any danger of mistake in your method of applying the word 'double.' Perhaps we should begin to count Israel's favor at the time of their deliverance from Egypt. Can it be said that Israel was in favor while suffering under the task-masters of Egypt? If not, would not this cut short their dispensation of favor 198 years (the period from Jacob's death to the coming of Israel out of bondage – out of Egypt, as you show it, vol. ii., p. 231), and leave it only 1647 years long instead of 1845? But then, if we begin Israel's national career and favor at the Exodus, we must still admit the turning point of their history was at the rejection of Christ, and as you so clearly show (vol. ii., p. 225) the very day that he rode to Jerusalem on the ass, five days before the crucifixion, is marked by the prophet as the date when the second part of their 'double' began. And if the first half of their 'double' was only 1647 years long, the other half must be the same; which would make their double end 1647 years after A.D. 33, that is, in A.D. 1680. But here I meet the difficulty that nothing in the nature of events to be expected at the end of their double occurred in 1680. Divine favor did not return to Israel and the fulness of the Gentiles (the end of the Gospel call) did not occur there.
"In a word, I am all mixed up. I have nothing regarding the 'double' to suggest myself – no reasonable or Scriptural solution to offer. And I have no fault to find with your applications and deductions, except the one point first stated, viz.: I cannot see how the first half of Israel's national experience from the death of Jacob to the death of Christ, 1845 years, was wholly either a period of chastisement or a period of favor. Can you straighten me out and show me where my difficulty lies? If you can, I will be thankful, as I prize the forcible and blessed conclusions of this chapter on the Parallel Dispensations greatly, and wish to have the subject clear."
Our reply may be brief; not much is necessary. The question is well stated and shows that the Brother has well digested the subject. We wish that all readers were as earnest and as thorough in their examination of these great subjects, that their faith might rest in the Word of God. We can help the Brother. We see just where he misses his footing, and it is an error very common to God's children against which all should studiously guard. The Brother has erred in reading into the Word of God, and into the DAWN account, something about the "double" which neither the DAWN nor God's Word say about it. Neither the DAWN nor the Bible anywhere say that the "double" was either a double of chastisement or a double of favor, nor that one half was of favor and the other half of chastisement. It is merely a time "double," regardless of the favors and disfavors, the chastisements and blessings they experience during their "double" time.
Get the thought: Israel as a nation at the death of Jacob became heirs of a promise, the Abrahamic promise; and under its provisions they expected a great personage to arise among them who, under special, divine favor, would become the great ruler of earth; who would more or less use them, his own nation, in subduing all things unto himself; and they expected thus, also, a share in his glory and influence as his special family nation. They clung more or less to this hope through centuries, and as Moses arose and did great things for them and yet died telling them that the great one was yet to come, and that his achievements for them were merely typical representations of the greater work of the coming Messiah (Deut. 18:15); as Joshua and Samuel and Saul and David and Solomon in turn passed away, we can see that the question with them must have been a question of time. When will God's time come for the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom so long promised and hoped for? This time came at the first advent, in one sense, when Messiah offered himself to his own nation and sent his disciples among them with the message, "The Time is at Hand – believe the good news [gospel] and repent." And when their national trial and sifting ended unfavorably to them, and the Master, as their King mounted on the ass, exclaimed, "Your house is left unto you desolate" – [R1160 : page 8] there the opportunity of furnishing the Messiah with a Bride class of joint-heirs, a complete Cabinet for the promised kingdom, passed from that nation; their worthy ones were accepted, but did not fill the fore-ordained number which God has since been completing by selections from among all nations.
Since Israel was unprepared to furnish Messiah a complete cabinet of faithful ones, and since he would not set up his kingdom until his cabinet or Bride is complete, therefore Israel as a nation must wait for its promised and longed-for share of work and honor, under Messiah. How long a time must they wait because of their failure to have ready a prepared people, fit for joint-heirship with Messiah? God through the prophet answers, I will render unto you double because of your sins. Shout O daughter of Zion, behold thy King cometh unto thee – (but God, foreseeing his rejection, except by the few, causes the prophet to continue) Even to-day do I declare it – I will render unto you double: You must now wait as long again. [R1161 : page 8]
With this thought of the "double" referring to nothing but duration, time, waiting, read again carefully the chapter entitled Parallel Dispensations, and you will have no difficulty. The fact that God has shown Israel no favor during the last half of their "double," and the fact that he foretold that it should be so, has nothing to do with the double of time. It is not a double time of favor, nor a double time of disfavor, but simply and only a double of time; – waiting for the promised kingdom.
"Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt." – Amos 9:13.
What a wonderful day is this Day of the Lord. During the long centuries of the Gospel age the appointed work of the age has been steadily and quietly progressing; the message of salvation and the high calling have gone forth; the called who have heeded and answered the call have been tried, disciplined, developed and tested, and one by one laid to rest until the appointed time for the gathering and rewarding of the whole body of the Anointed. And while in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation the body of the Anointed has been developing, evil has been permitted to flourish and to exalt and spread itself, while the (embryo) kingdom of heaven has suffered violence. Tares have been permitted to overrun and almost take possession of the wheat-field, and the mystery of iniquity has wonderfully developed and prospered. By sure and steady steps, and unhindered by divine interference, the powers of darkness have strongly entrenched themselves, and have long been regarded, both by themselves and all mankind, as immovably fixed.
But now the Day of the Lord has come. Earth's rightful King takes his great power and begins his reign, while yet the powers of darkness hold their places – "In the days of these kings, shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom" (Dan. 2:44) – and the two cannot long stand together. Already the thrones of earth tremble to their very foundations; the kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together, and statesmen and thinking men in general begin to realize that a strange, strong power is at work in every direction. All organizations, whether civil, social, or religious, however old, or wealthy, or formerly esteemed among men, feel the disturbing shock of a mighty tread hitherto unknown. It is none other than the Son of God, under whose power all must shortly fall, and above their ruins shall be established his own glorious kingdom.
True to every jot of prophecy concerning this day are the events as they now transpire. The harvesting began with the presence of the Lord of the harvest (in 1874), who at once began to appoint and direct the reapers, sending them forth with the sharp sickle of truth. Wonderful has been the work since that time. While the church nominal has been sinking lower and lower in the mire of worldliness, the saints, the true wheat, are being gathered out of her and fed and strengthened and set to work among the harvesters; and thus the Lord of the harvest is daily sending forth more laborers into his vineyard. The saints are seeing their privilege, hearing and heeding the Master's directions, and taking hold with a hearty good will, and the results of their labors are even now largely apparent.
As a result of the united labors of the consecrated ones in hundreds of ways, as varied as are their circumstances and talents, hundreds of cases come under our own observation, of saints who are encouraged, strengthened and stimulated to make their election sure, of backsliders reclaimed, of worldly people turned to God, and of honest skeptics now established in the true faith of the gospel.
While the harvest work goes steadily forward, we need but to cast our eyes about us, when we see another portion of the work going on preparatory to the speedy establishment of the Redeemer's kingdom. Not only is the harvesting of the fruit of the Gospel age being accomplished, [R1162 : page 8] but the plowing and seed sowing for the Millennial season is already begun, as foretold by the prophet – "Behold the days come that the plowman shall overtake the reaper."
Various agencies are now at work plowing the field – which is the world – and preparing men's hearts for the reception of the truth. And many of the poor, distracted world, even now, show a willingness to receive a little of the balm and consolation which the truth affords.
The troubles coming upon the world and upon the nominal church, the distracting questions that are stirring up thought, and the opposing forces that are everywhere developing, are already doing the plowing; and these plowers are close upon the heels of the reapers now reaping the harvest of the Gospel age – gathering God's elect together; and soon the treader of grapes (the forces engaged in the final combat) shall overtake the sowers of the seed of truth; and the great trouble will close the door of all opportunity for either seed-sowing or harvesting.
But though such is the calamitous outlook for the near future, there will be a blessed outcome to its short work; for in the midst of it the mountain (kingdom) of the Lord's house shall be established and shall be exalted above the melting hills (kingdoms) of the old dominions; and its blessed re-invigorating influence is significantly referred to in the prophet's statement – the mountains shall drop sweet wine.