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"What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?" – Psa. 8:4.
What is man? is an important question in view of his possible destiny; and the question in its widest scope refers to his past, his present and his possible future state. What, then, we may inquire, was he? what is he? and what is he to be in the future?
As to what he was originally we have no knowledge whatever, and can gain no information, save from the sacred writings of God's inspired prophets and witnesses. Some would-be philosophers, who have more faith in their own surmises than in the inspired records, tell us that originally man was much inferior to his present state, and that from a very low beginning he has been gradually progressing toward a state of perfection. Progression, or evolution, is the term which describes the theory, though none of its advocates will attempt to define either the beginning or the ultimate terminus of such progression.
But, discarding the vain philosophies of mere human reasoning, let us inquire of the divine oracles, the only reliable testimony. [R1266 : page 1] The Bible tells us that man is of the earth, earthy; that out of the ground he was taken; that God formed him of the dust of the ground and then breathed or infused into him the breath of life – i.e., instituted the breathing process – and that thus man became a living soul or being. And not only so, but unlike all the other living souls of the earth which God had created, this soul was in the image of his Maker. Now an image of any thing is a representation or copy of it, though of inferior substance. So man was an earthy or clay copy of his heavenly, spiritual Maker – a copy of God! yes, a manifestation of God in flesh. Truly, then, he must have been a noble creature. And what shall we say of the implied reflection against the Creator in the claim of some, that man was originally far inferior even to his present state of degradation? for however high or low was his condition, the fact clearly stated is that he was an "image," a copy, of God. "O," say they, "but the statement reads, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness' (Gen. 1:26), and the process of making him was only begun in Eden and it still continues, and must, until he has reached the image of God. Thus far he is "a cake only half baked."
But let such observe the reading of the following verse, also verse 31, which show that God not only purposed the work and proposed it to his Son, his agent in the creation of all things (John 1:3; Col. 1:16), and that he not only began the work, but that he also completed it: – "So God created man [past tense] in his own image; in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." (Compare Gen. 1:27,31; 5:1; 9:6; Eccl. 7:29; 1 Cor. 11:7; Jas. 3:9.) And this creature which God "had made," completed, and declared to be a copy, an image of himself, a manifestation of himself in flesh, he was also pleased to own as his son (Luke 3:38), and as Paul says – "If a son, then an heir;" for God brings no son into existence for whom he has not made ample provision. And as a son he had the rich token of his Father's loving providence in the vast domain of earth which he was to subdue and take possession of as his posterity would increase and require it; and all its products – animal, vegetable and mineral – were subject to his control and use: – "And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat." – Gen. 1:28,29.
And not only did God thus give to Adam the whole earth as an inheritance for himself and his posterity, telling them to appropriate it and cultivate it as their increasing necessities should require, but he had already prepared a choice portion of it as a fit home for the perfect pair, and a sample of what the whole domain of earth would become under the process of industrious cultivation with his added blessing. – "And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.... And the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it." – Gen. 2:8,15.
How like a wise and loving father! How bountiful the provision, yet how wisely bestowed! – not in a way to cultivate indolence and undue dependence upon paternal care, but in a way to stimulate industry and thrift and to cultivate a spirit of appreciation and thankfulness for the blessings and advantages received. When we thus view the newly created man in the light in which the Bible presents him, as a son and an heir of God, beloved and owned of God and so richly blessed with such lavish tokens of the divine favor, we must conclude that he was indeed a creditable "image" of God, and one that God was not ashamed to own – a perfect creature, therefore, filled with grace and crowned with glory, as the Scriptures declare. – Psa. 8:5-8.
Would a man take pleasure in sending out a blurred and defaced painting, and widely announce it as an image of himself? or would he take delight in owning and blessing a simple or an idiotic son? No; such a painting would be a disgrace to the original, and such a son a reproach to a parent.
But let us consider further this copy of God; for even defaced as it now is, and therefore no longer owned of God, some traces of the original likeness still remain, and to view the original, we have only to supply in imagination the shortcomings of our various powers from the standard of an ideal perfection suggested in the Scriptures. The physical nature of man may, or may not, constitute a part of the likeness of God. Of this we cannot judge, since "it does not yet appear" what a spirit body is, excepting negatively, that it is not flesh and blood, though it is a reality, a glorious body – "There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body." (1 Cor. 15:44.) But the intellectual and moral qualities in man are the exact counterparts of God's own intellectual and moral qualities. Man has perception, imagination, the power of original suggestion, memory, reason, judgment and will, corresponding to these various intellectual qualities in God. He has also the Godlike moral quality of conscience, which enables him to discern the right and the wrong, to distinguish one from the other and to estimate them properly. As originally created, all of these powers worked together perfectly and harmoniously, all being subject to that supreme mental faculty, the will, which, being free to act independently, though aided by the suggestions of all the other mental and moral faculties, determines the course and constitutes the character of the man.
This Godlike endowment of a free will constituted the crowning glory of God's human creature. Had he been left without this one, though possessed of all the other noble faculties, he would have been a mere machine, without character, either meritorious or blameworthy. So, then, the perfect man was this free moral and intellectual creature, with a perfect physical organism, giving full and free exercise to, and in no way interfering with, his noble powers; with surroundings which continually stimulated and rewarded their cultivation and use; and with the promise of lasting continuance of these favors on condition of the right course of his will – his choice of righteousness as manifested in the expressed will of God. To prove his worthiness of lasting life, a test of character must of necessity be applied. The first test was a very simple one, merely the prohibition of the fruit of a single tree in the midst of the garden of Eden. But under this first simple test, though knowing the Creator's will and perfectly able to obey it, he willed to do wrong, to disobey God, and hence brought upon himself the just penalty, death.
But, says the objector, does not the fact that Adam fell under the very first test prove that he was not perfect, and, therefore, could not stand? By no means; it simply proves that his will was not fixed, was not settled in its determination to do right, to do the will of God, as it might and should have been. Being perfect, in the image of God, and free to act out his own will, he had power to obey or disobey, and in his choice of the course of disobedience he was therefore culpable. He alone was responsible, and God was in no sense responsible. God had richly endowed him with every blessing, both personal and in his surroundings, had forewarned him of the sure rewards of righteousness and sin, and in his command of obedience to him as to a wise and loving Father, he had provided his wisdom and care as their protection and safeguard in lieu of their inexperience. And the testing of their obedience was his righteous act to prove their worthiness or unworthiness of eternal life. Consequently, the responsibility was all on man's part, and when he sinned God was just in condemning him to death.
It is plain, therefore, that the salvation which God has provided is purely an act of his free grace – an act to which he was in no sense obligated, and to which he was impelled only by his abounding love: "For God so loved the world [even while [R1266 : page 2] we were yet sinners] that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." – John 3:16; Rom. 5:8.
Thus we see from the Bible testimony that man was originally perfect, an image or copy of God in flesh. Of the fall from that original perfection and the results to the entire race of Adam, we also have the clear testimony of the Scriptures, showing just how it came about – that it was a wilful transgression of known righteous law, in the face of a distinct warning of the penalty of such a course. It was a sin on man's part only, and from which God is fully exonerated in that man was left under no necessity of want and with full instruction as to the right course and as to the results of a wrong course of action. The only cause of man's fall, then, which is traceable to the Creator, lies in the fact that he created him in his own image – with a free will of his own. But this endowment, we see, was the crowning act of God's favor to man, and man's choicest blessing. And so it was the lack of appreciation, and an abuse of God's abounding favor and goodness, and not any lack on God's part, which led to the fall.
As a consequence of that fall from original perfection and favor on the part [R1267 : page 2] of the head and representative of the race, another law of our being, designed for our highest good – the law of heredity – has brought upon all Adam's posterity its entailment of imperfection and proneness to evil. And thus all the race is in the same wretched plight. An evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit, nor a bitter fountain send forth sweet waters. The present state, therefore, of the entire race is a degenerating and dying one.
But what of the future condition of man? The future condition, as implied in the penalty, would have been everlasting extinction of being, had not the mercy, wisdom and love of God provided another opportunity for the race, in which the bitter experience gained during the six thousand years of the reign of sin and death will furnish a valuable lesson, which experience will prove that obedience to God is the only right and safe course for any of his creatures. This second trial of the race, under conditions which were impossible in the first trial, we thus see is another favor of God, and a favor, too, which could never be claimed on the score of justice. Though man was justly condemned as unworthy of life, God saw in his inexperience and youth an extenuating circumstance, though not a release from moral obligation; and, therefore, coupled with the enunciation of the penalty, came the merciful promise of final deliverance from it. The sacrifice of our Lord, the man Christ Jesus, as the ransom for all, to satisfy the claims of justice against all, makes manifest both to angels and to men that this salvation, this recovery out of sin and its penalty, death, could not be hoped for on the score of justice, but only on the score of pity and love. The atoning sacrifice for sins was demanded by justice and was furnished by Jehovah, that he might be just, and yet the justifier of men already justly condemned to death. – Rom. 3:26.
This favor of a new trial for the condemned race was provided by God in the gift of his Son, our Lord Jesus, who left his former glory and took our human nature, and then, as a man, freely gave himself as our ransom or corresponding price. Wherefore, says the Apostle, God has now highly exalted him, even to the divine nature, that he might have power to justify or restore the redeemed race to the perfection and glory and dominion of earth lost in Eden; for the Son of man came to seek and to recover that which was lost. – Luke 19:10.
In looking back, therefore, to the original condition of man and the dominion given him in Eden, we see to what the human race is to be restored in the times of restitution promised by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began. (Acts 3:19-21. See also Gen. 1:26-28; Psa. 8:4-8.) He is to be restored to his original perfection and to the lordship of the whole earth. (See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. I., Chap. XIV.)
Ah, says one, "I do not see much glory or honor in being made lords over sheep and oxen and fishes and creeping things." Well, my friend, that is only because your ideas of honor and dominion are borrowed from the selfish emulations that prevail among the ruling classes of the present time. See how the kings and lords of the past have loved to flaunt their authority and presumed superiority before the world; how they loved to live in palaces, to array themselves in the finest fabrics and to glut their appetites with the choicest viands of earth's good things, selfishly disregarding the woes of the masses, whose want of the common necessities of life supplied that abundant fulness and whose ignorance crouched in humility before their assumed greatness. If such gratification of the lusts of the flesh and the pride of life and the meanness of selfish love of display be your ideas of glory and honor (and such are the ideas of the sinful world), then no wonder if you see no special honor and glory in man's future dominion over the cattle and beasts and fish and fowl.
But take the standpoint of truth and soberness and of a sound mind, and the glory and dignity of the future lord of earth will be very apparent. He will not need to tax his fellow men to gain for himself the luxuries of ease and elegance, and then seek selfishly to enjoy them in the midst of the poverty and distress of his impoverished fellow men; for all men will be lords and kings, enjoying the same wealth and ease and elegance. His glory of person will not, as now, be dependent on gold and gems and costly array, but will have for its foundation the dignity and true beauty of character. Gems of intellectual beauty will sparkle in the eyes; the chisel of thought and the mallet of experience will fashion the features to forms of beauty such as art has never yet dreamed of; and the mantle of an established character of purity and righteousness and true holiness will clothe it more gloriously and royally than purple and scarlet and fine linen. One will have nothing to boast of over his fellow-men, for all will be alike glorious when all have been restored.
Nor will he need to set up a puppet show of his greatness before the lower creatures, to awe his subjects into submission to his authority; for naturally and without compulsion the beasts and cattle and fish and fowl will be his willing servants, and all the stores and forces of nature – the winds and waves, the light and heat, the electric currents, the minerals and gases and liquids, and vegetation in all its varied forms – will freely minister to his comfort and blessing. With what easy grace may the commands of such a lord be expressed, and with what delight will his blessings be enjoyed; and how far superior will they be to the plumed and titled mimic lords of to-day, who tremble on their thrones and whose very existence is continually haunted by visions of angry mobs, court intrigues and assassination plots.
Thus we see the grandeur of man as originally created in God's image and can appreciate the significance of God's statement, that he was crowned with dignity and honor as the lord and master of earth, with dominion over the beasts of the field, the fowl of the heavens and the fishes of the sea, in likeness of his Creator, the Lord and Ruler over all things. We have seen, too, how all this arrangement was interrupted by sin. But while God permitted this interruption, he has not permitted, nor does he purpose to permit, a failure of his plans. All his purposes shall be accomplished (Isa. 55:11), because they were all devised in full view of all the circumstances which would attend them – in view of man's free agency, in view of his temptation and fall into sin and of its death penalty, and in view, also, of the possibility of his recovery from that condition through the sacrifice and mediation of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. "Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world;" and therefore he says, "I change not." (Acts 15:18; Mal. 3:6.)
God's original purpose, therefore, has not been changed by reason of Adam's failure, and even its interruption by his non-appreciation and abuse of his free agency, in full view of which the plan was formed, shall in the end be overruled for good, the painful experience under the reign of sin and death acquainting him more thoroughly with the wisdom and righteousness of God, and at the same time exhibiting the exceeding sinfulness of sin to the other intelligent creatures. But after the long interruption of seven thousand years the regeneration of the race and their dominion of the whole earth will be an accomplished fact.
But six thousand years have passed already; and is there any indication that the dominion is soon to be restored? O yes: the same inquiry was raised eighteen hundred years ago, and Paul showed that even then there was a sure indication of it. He said, quoting the Psalmist (Psa. 8:4-8), "Thou madest man a little lower than the angels, thou crownedst him with glory and honor and didst set him over the works of thy hands. Thou has put all things in subjection under his feet. But now [since the fall and forfeiture of the estate, though God purposes to restore mankind to the lost estate] we do not yet see all things [restored again] subjected to him. But" – what do we see? Is there yet any evidence of the long promised restitution? O yes, says Paul – "we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels [a man] for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor [the glory and honor of perfect humanity, in whom inhered all the rights and privileges of a perfect man, and therefore a fit sacrifice – a corresponding price for the man Adam], that he, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man. For it became him [Jehovah] for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons [the human race] unto glory [the glory of the restored perfection and dominion], to make the Captain of their salvation [the glorified divine Christ] perfect [as a divine being – the divine Prophet, Priest and King] through suffering" [through his suffering in the flesh, even unto death]. – Heb. 2:6-10.
This indication of the promised and coming restitution, Paul pointed out to the Church in his day, but now in the close of the Gospel age we see still further indications. We not only recognize, as the early Church did, that the Redeemer has come and has paid our ransom price, and that he has been exalted to power for the accomplishment of the great restitution work, but we see further that the time is close at hand for the establishment of his Kingdom and the beginning of his glorious reign; that the body of Christ, which is to share that reign and work with him, is now almost complete; and that we are now living in the day of Jehovah's preparation for the Millennial reign of Christ, [R1268 : page 2] by means of which the restoration of all the willing and obedient sons of Adam shall be accomplished.
Praise the Lord! we see the beginning of the consummation of the great divine plan of the ages. Lord, what is man that thou art mindful of him, or what are the sons of the fallen man that thou visitest them with thy salvation? Creatures of the dust, indeed, whose breath is in their nostrils! Aye! but more! they are creatures stamped with thine own glorious image, though sadly marred, and they ere long may reflect again thy perfect likeness. "O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!"
"All you have yet seen hath been but the beginning of sorrows to what is yet to come upon the churches of Christ, who will ere long fall under a sharper persecution than ever yet has been upon them. And, therefore, look that you be not found in the outward court, but a worshiper in the temple before the altar; for Christ will measure all those that profess his name and call themselves his people; and the outward worshipers he will leave out, to be trodden down by the Gentiles. The outward court is the formal Christians, whose religion lies in performing the outward duties of Christianity, without having an inward life and power of faith and love, uniting them to Christ. And these God will leave to be trodden down and swept away by the Gentiles. But the worshipers in the temple and before the altar are those who indeed worship God in spirit and in truth, whose souls are made his temples, and he is honored and adored in the inmost thoughts of their hearts, and they sacrifice their own wills, also, to him; and these God will hide in the hollow of his hand, and under the shadow of his wings. And this shall be the great difference between this last and all the preceding persecutions; for, in the former, the most eminent and spiritual ministers and Christians did generally suffer the most, and were most violently fallen upon; but in this last persecution, these shall be preserved by God as a seed, to partake of that glory which shall come upon the Church, as soon as ever this storm shall be over. For as it shall be the sharpest, so it shall be the shortest persecution of them all, and shall only take away the gross hypocrites and formal professors, but the true spiritual believers shall be preserved till the calamity be 'overpast.' See Isa. 26:20,21: 'Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain."
Brighter and brighter, every day!
Better and better, each step of the way!
Fairer and clearer, the sky above!
Nearer and sweeter, the songs of love!
Peace like a river flowing along,
Hiding for ever ages of wrong,
Burying deeply, beneath its calm breast,
The warfare and strife that robbed us of rest.
Oh! what a joy to be living to-day!
Flowers of hope bestrewing our way!
Roses, and lilies of promise, in bloom!
Rainbows encircling the ages to come!
Oh! blessed Lord, what a portion divine
Art thou to the soul who can say Thou art mine;
In utter surrender, and joyful repose,
Thou o'ercomest in him the last of his foes.
Only those who have known thee can guess at the bliss.
Alas! that so many the happiness miss –
Turn away from life's river, and City of Gold,
For poor, broken cisterns, that nothing will hold.
Yet nothing, dear Lord, can rob us of joy –
It is far above anything earth can destroy;
Our treasures all hidden and laid up above,
Secure in our Lord, in his kingdom of love.
The adversary seems continually on the alert to invent some new error or else to revive and revamp some old one, to deceive God's children. And God permits all this, as he has told us, that those being gathered as wheat into his barn may thereby be thoroughly threshed and winnowed or separated from the chaff. God sends, or permits the ambitious ones to bring upon themselves, strong delusions that all who take pleasure in the error may have plenty of it to enjoy and to deceive themselves with, that all such may be condemned, separated from the simple, trusting, humble, non-ambitious, faithful ones whom he is about to glorify in his Millennial Kingdom.
One of the latest phases of error is that which ascribes all sin and crime and wickedness to God; which declares that God inspires every wicked thought, word and deed, and that men in his hands are only tools; that absolutely all things are of God. But while God permits wilful men to fall into such erroneous views and to prosper in spreading them, he does, on the other hand, guide the meek in judgment and teach them his way, and he raises up a standard for them by which they are enabled to see the truth and to distinguish it from error. And though, in this "evil day," a thousand shall fall under those errors, they shall not overthrow the meek ones whom the Lord is pledged to guide and to keep from falling. He will give his messengers a charge concerning them, and in their hands shall they bear up the feet of the body of Christ, lest they should stumble over that stumbling-stone which stumbled all but a small remnant of the fleshly house of Israel, and which is now to stumble all but a small remnant of the nominal spiritual house. (Psa. 91:10-12; Isa. 8:14.) He has given to us a charge or message for the feet upon this subject, a message of truth which will bear them up – the complete and glorious harmony of the divine plan of the ages. "They," the feet class, "shall never fall;" though they stumble, they shall not be utterly cast down. – Psa. 37:24.
"'All things are of God.' (2 Cor. 5:18.) When you think of it seriously it seems that Paul was rather unguarded and careless in his language; it would seem as though he ought to have modified and limited his statement somewhat; say, for instance, all good things are of God. But no, the apostle makes the sweeping, unqualified statement – 'All things are of (literally, out of) God;' and so important did he consider this truth that he repeats it no less than seven distinct times. See Rom. 11:36; 1 Cor. 8:6; 11:12; 2 Cor. 5:18; Eph. 1:11; 4:6; Heb. 2:10.
Now was the apostle careless and a little too bold in these utterances, or did he mean just what he said, and are they true absolutely? I say unhesitatingly, Yes, to the latter questions. The more we learn of God's works and ways the more we shall understand that, in a sense, absolutely all things are of God, or, as some put it, God is in everything. This is the doctrine of God's universal, all-pervading, ever constant Providence. 'His tender mercies are over all his works.' 'He worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.'
"This doctrine of God's Providence is a most positive and important one; there is no doctrine of Scripture that is more plainly supported, by the most emphatic statements, repeated over and over again, as referred to above; and no Christian would think of doubting it, were it not for the fact that its full acceptance leads to some very startling and, to some, even shocking conclusions. 'What!' they say, 'all things are of God? absolutely all things? the bad things as well as the good? all the crime, and sin, and wickedness? surely it is blasphemous to say that such things are "of God." Paul never could have meant that we should take him absolutely; we must use our own judgment and reason in such matters, and correct these sweeping statements, for it cannot mean that absolutely all things are of God.' And yet that is the way the apostle puts it, over and over again. Was he ignorant and careless? NO, HE WAS NEITHER; he was right, and the Scriptures and experience and observation fully bear him out in his statements, as strange and startling as they may seem."
"Startling!" "Shocking!" We should say it would be strange, shocking and startling to find out that God has been the real devil for the past six thousand years. What sane man would not be startled, could it be proved that God has been exerting his power in some men to inspire them to "sin, wickedness and crime" – to robbery, murder, arson, licentiousness, intemperance, profanity, devilishness – and at the same time inspiring other men to write and say that he hates such things, that he is holy and separate from sin and cannot look upon it with any degree of allowance. Meanwhile God has been blaming all the sin upon men and upon Satan, and not only threatening men with punishment, but actually inflicting pain, sickness and death upon them and telling them that they are blame-worthy sinners, when, if this theory be true, God is not merely the only sinner in the case, the cause of "all sin and wickedness and crime," but also a most consummate liar and hypocrite, and unjust to the last degree, in blaming his own work upon his helpless tools.
"Blasphemous?" We should say so indeed! If those who said of our Lord Jesus that his works were done by the power of Beelzebub were blasphemers, as he declares, these who unblushingly ascribe to Jehovah himself all the "sin and crime and wickedness" of earth, it seems to us, are blasphemers a hundred-fold more. No wonder the writer of this bold blasphemy thought that some would be startled by such a charge. In our judgment, the man or woman who is not startled – nay, more, whose heart does not burn with righteous indignation at such a blasphemous suggestion – is seriously lacking in either mental or spiritual balance, or both. If, then, any saint feels startled by the bare suggestion of such a doctrine, let him glorify God on this behalf and rejoice that he has some spiritual instinct on the subject.
What inspires such thoughts of God's character? What false theory is it that hesitates not, even to malign the character of the Almighty, and which assumes to prove its blasphemies by a distortion of the divine Word? What theory can require such support to make it appear reasonable?
The object is manifestly two-fold: (1) To uphold the theory that man never was perfect, that he never fell from perfection and righteousness into sin, and hence did not need a ransom-price for his release from what he did not fall into; and also (2) to prove that all men will be everlastingly saved (not saved from a fall or from anything else that they had anything to do with, but saved in the sense of being evolved up to perfection) – a salvation, not from the wages of their sin, but a salvation in the sense of release from the wickedness, crime and sin of which God is the author and instigator, and under which he is now keeping and has for six thousand years kept them. This theory in substance implies that all men will be saved on the score of justice, when God shall cease from causing them to sin and shall favor righteousness.
To sustain this false theory, which the Bible everywhere both directly and inferentially contradicts, is the object of the writer whose words we have quoted above: and because of lack of Scripture to support that which he and others have determined must be so, he is willing thus to malign and blaspheme the character of our God to accomplish it. He reasons it out about as follows: If I can prove that God admits to being the real instigator of all sin and wickedness and crime – that absolutely all things are of God, evil as well as good, wickedness as well as righteousness – then I have proved that man is not really the sinner; and if man is not really the sinner but merely the agent or tool of God, both in good and in evil, why should he need a ransom, or be charged with, or punished for, anything? – if all things are of God? The same line of reasoning, carried further, leads to the inference that when God tires of prompting to sin and wickedness and crime, he will stop it and begin to prompt only to righteousness; and when he does that all men will be righteous, as now, under his control, all are more or less disposed to sin and wickedness [R1269 : page 3] and crime. If thus all the crime and sin and wickedness be of God the problem of doing without a ransom is solved.
But the Scriptures say, "Let no man say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man" (James 1:13). "Woe unto them that call evil good [who say that the evil of man is obedience to God's working in him], and [call] good evil [imputing evil to God who is only good]; that put darkness for light and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight." – Isa. 5:20,21.
Let us now examine the scriptures which are claimed to support the above theory. Does the expression all things mean absolutely all things, as the above writer assumes and insists, or was the Apostle doing what is common to all writers and speakers, leaving something to the general intelligence of his readers in relation to God's character, and also leaving something to be understood from the context as to what is meant by the expression, all things? Paul wrote only to those "that do know their God," who know that "every good and perfect gift cometh down from our Father, with whom there is no variableness [from this rule of sending only good and what will work for good – never sending or causing wickedness, etc.], neither shadow of turning" from that course. And besides, we shall see that every one of these texts quoted had particular things in view, when they stated that all things are of God; and that those particular things were good things, and not sinful things.
First let us show, by quoting from the same Apostle, that, not using words carelessly or unguardedly, but in the usual manner, common to himself and to all writers, he used the same words all things in a way that the most stupid and the most obstinate must acknowledge was not an absolute sense. The following instances are only a few of the many which we might quote, but they will be sufficient to keep the "feet" from stumbling into the idea that Paul's expression, "All things are of God," must be understood as giving sanction to this blasphemy, which charges God with all the wickedness, crime and sin in the world.
"All things are lawful unto me." (1 Cor. 6:12.) Shall we here say absolutely all things were lawful to Paul? Does he mean that it would have been lawful for him to murder, to commit perjury, to lie, to steal and to blaspheme? Does he mean that absolutely all things were lawful to him? Assuredly not: this would be the doctrine of the Jesuits, which led them, in the dark ages, into every conceivable form of evil, under the plea that the end in view would justify the means used – any means that would bring it to pass. Some so misconstrued the Apostle's words at the time, declaring that evil might be done if good would follow. The Apostle resented such a false application of his words, and charges those who said so with slandering or blaspheming him. Very vehemently he protests that their condemnation was just who slanderously reported that he taught, "Let us do evil that good may result." – Rom. 3:8.
Who shall suppose that this Apostle, who so strenuously resented the thought that he would do evil that good might result, would himself blaspheme the Creator by teaching that he was the direct and inspiring cause of all evil – of all sin, crime and wickedness? If their condemnation would be just for thus blasphemously assailing Paul's character, how just would be the condemnation of those who so charge Jehovah our God, we leave for God to determine. We are not incapable of deciding that this is a heinous crime and blasphemy, but we are incapable of judging what weakness of reasoning powers lies behind such blasphemies, and hence what degree of punishment our all-wise and just Creator will pay in due time.
Take another illustration of the Apostle's use of the expression "all things:" "He [Jehovah] hath put all things under his [Christ's] feet." (1 Cor. 15:27.) It does not mean that our Lord Jesus stands with his feet upon all things – earth, sea, angels and men. It does mean that all things are made subject to him, or put under his control, under his power or authority. Yet even in this sense absolutely all things are not understood, for, as the Apostle suggests, an exception to the all things is left for inference to the intelligent mind, and not stated. He says, "It is manifest that He [Jehovah] is excepted, who did put all things under him" [Christ]. And to the same class of minds that could appreciate such an exception to the expression "all things," it is also manifest that in the statement "All things are of God," an exception of sin, crime and wickedness is to be understood, as being [R1269 : page 4] the very opposite of God's character. If it is impossible for God to lie, shall we say that if he compels men to lie for him, he is yet clear from the guilt?
Take two other illustrations together: "All things are for your sakes," and "All things are by Jesus Christ." (2 Cor. 4:15; 1 Cor. 8:6.) Shall we say that the Apostle meant that all murders and robberies and storms, all perjury and lying and every form and act of sin, are for our sakes? and that they all come by or through the Lord Jesus? What nonsense!
Take another illustration: Charity hopeth all things, believeth all things, etc. (1 Cor. 13:7.) Shall we say absolutely all things? Does Love hope and believe that your neighbor or yourself will be drowned or burned or mangled or murdered, or does it believe all the nonsense that somebody says? Surely again the connections show what the expression signifies. We are to believe charitably all that we can believe relative to the honesty of our fellow-creatures, and charitably to hope all that we can in their favor so far as we are ignorant of the matter in question.
Take another illustration: "One believeth that he may eat all things." (Rom. 14:2.) Shall we suppose that some in the Apostle's day believed in eating absolutely all things? – all the cattle and horses and men and houses and trees and mountains? – absolutely all things? Or shall we use a grain of sense and read the connection and find out that the Apostle was speaking by way of contrast of some whom he calls weak brethren, who would eat nothing but vegetables ["herbs"], while others had no such conscientious scruples and, as we would say, "ate any thing and every thing."
With these illustrations of Paul's general use of the expression, "all things" (occurring over eighty times in his epistles), which show that it is not used in the absolute sense, let us proceed to examine the texts to which we are cited as proofs that God is the author and inspirer of all wickedness, sin, crime, etc., remembering this fact and expecting to find in the context that which will indicate which things are all of God, and never forgetting that it is manifest that sin, wickedness and crime are never to be understood as included among the all things that are of God.
"All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ." – 2 Cor. 5:18.
Surely nothing in the context affords ground for the supposition that the Apostle would charge God with all the wickedness and sin of the world. On the contrary, he is showing our new standing in Christ, who "died for all" (verse 14), but would have us note that while the work of redemption was done by our Lord Jesus, it was all planned by the Father himself. All the features of our redemption are of God who himself reconciled us to himself by Christ Jesus.
"To us there is but one God, the Father, OF WHOM are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, BY WHOM are all things, and we by him." (1 Cor. 8:6.) This is a repetition of the same thought as that foregoing.
"For as the woman is [ek, out] of the man, even so is the man also by [through] the woman; but all things [ek, out] of God." – 1 Cor. 11:12.
This is a further showing (see verse 3) of the relationship existing between the church and Christ Jesus, her Lord, and the Heavenly Father, from whom proceedeth every good and perfect gift. – James 1:17.
"In regard to an administration of the fulness of the appointed times, to re-unite all things under one head, even under the Anointed One; – the things in the heavens and the things in the earth – under him." – Eph. 1:10. – Diaglott translation.
This verse points out that though sin has been a rebellion against God, the great Emperor, in which some of his creatures voluntarily and others involuntarily came under the dominion and bondage of sin and death, it is not God's purpose to allow his empire to remain thus shattered forever. On the contrary, he is providing for the recovery to full harmony of whosoever will, and for the destruction of whosoever will not obey his representative – the Anointed – unto whom already, since his resurrection and high exaltation to the divine nature, all power in heaven and on earth is given (Matt. 28:18; Phil. 2:9), and under whom eventually all things shall be subdued, that a state of peace, harmony and bliss may everlastingly prevail.
"By whom also we obtained an inheritance, having been previously marked out according to a design of him who is operating all things agreeably to the counsel of his own will." – Eph. 1:11. – Diaglott translation. [R1270 : page 4]
This verse shows that the Church is not included among the all things of the preceding verse; for it declares that "also we" are already re-united to God, in Christ, in advance of the general re-uniting and subduing of the Millennium. And this plan of first selecting us, the Church, is only a part of the one great plan which he is working out, which he assures us will finally bring order and harmony. All these good things are of God and work out his will. The wrath of man he will not permit to interfere with his plan. – Psa. 76:10.
"For it was becoming in him for the sake of whom [are] the all things, and through means of whom [are] the all things, when many sons to glory he would lead, that the Princely Leader of their salvation he should through suffering make complete." – Heb. 2:10. – Rotherham's translation.
Nothing could be farther from the sense of this passage than to suppose that the Apostle meant "all the sin and crime and wickedness" of the world are for the sake of God and through the means of God. The thought, on the contrary, is that all things as they shall ultimately be re-united under Christ in God are to be so for God's sake, because such has been his purpose, his pleasure; and that all will be thus brought to perfection and harmony by his means – his plan and his power carrying that plan to completeness through Christ Jesus, our Lord. Having such a plan, a part of which was the high exaltation of the Church to the divine nature, it was proper that he should thoroughly test the obedience of all so exalted. Even our Lord Jesus, always loyal and faithful, should be no less an overcomer and no less proved than the sons of glory of whom he is the Princely Leader. Wherefore God's arrangement included him also (as well as the many being brought to glory under his leadership), that all who would attain to the grand perfection of the divine nature must be proved worthy through their endurance of suffering and resistance of sin.
"For of him, and through him, and unto him, are all things." – Rom. 11:36.
A glance at the preceding verses will show that the Apostle is not teaching that all sin, wickedness and crime are of and through and unto the Lord; but, on the contrary, he refers to certain blessings and favors which are yet to come upon Israel. (Verses 25-27.) Though they sinned and with wicked hands slew the Lord of life and glory, and brought upon themselves God's "wrath" and "indignation," which were manifest in their national rejection, trouble and overthrow, yet, after all, God has a way for bringing a blessing upon them as well as upon all others of mankind through Christ and his glorified Church (verses 30,31), who, during the Millennium, will extend mercy and full salvation to all, opening the blind eyes and unstopping the deaf ears. Such a view of God's wisdom and goodness leads the Apostle to the exclamation of verses 33 to 36, which concludes with the assertion that this plan is not of human device, nor even by human assistance; for no man would have dreamed of such a wonderful blending of justice and mercy. But all was planned of God and is by him being carried out through Christ, and shall, when completed, be to his praise, to whom belongs the glory.
If, then, we see that the above passages do not teach what the writings we criticize would misrepresent them as teaching, we are bound to conclude that such teaching is by no means the spirit of God's Word; but on the contrary that it is of some other spirit. Whatever the motive and aim of the human instrument, it is evident that only the spirit of gross error could instigate so blasphemous a misrepresentation of God's character and of his Word.
That the eyes of the Lord are in every place beholding the evil and the good, is unquestionable. "The word of God is a discerner of [even] the thoughts and intents of the heart: neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight, but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do." (Prov. 15:3; Heb. 4:12,13.) That God could interfere with and stop all forms of evil is a manifest truth. That he has not yet interfered to stop evil is a clearly recognized fact. That the time will come when all evil shall be fully restrained is his distinct promise. Hence it is as proper to say that God permits sin, wickedness and crime as it would be false and slanderous to say that he causes or instigates such things.
"Let no man say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of the Lord; for God tempteth no man....Every man is tempted when he is led astray of his own desires [for wealth, power, revenge, etc.] and enticed....Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change or the least variation....For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness [right will or mind] of God." – James 1:13-20.
Nevertheless, God has repeatedly shown us how even the wrath of man has been made use of by him to accomplish his good purposes. The declaration of the prophet (Psa. 76:9,10), which assures us that in the great time of trouble, when the Lord shall arise to judgment and to save all the meek of the earth, he will cause the wrath of man to praise him and the remainder which would not praise him shall be restrained, is only the expression, we may believe, of what has been the principle of God's dealing throughout all the past, since sin, wickedness and crime began. The truth is, that so far from creating sin or inciting to wickedness and crimes, God's actions, where he has interfered at all, have been toward the restraint of sin. The deluge was for the restraint of sin; the destruction of Sodom was for the same purpose; the destruction of Korah and his band was to the same end; the destruction of the Canaanites was for the same purpose; the captivities, famines, etc., permitted to come upon Israel were designed to have the same effect.
And in almost every instance the cause is stated. At the time of the deluge the whole world, except Noah and his family, had become corrupt, and their thoughts were evil continually. Of Sodom it is declared that the sin thereof was great, and God "took them away as he saw good." (Ezek. 16:50.) His way was good for two reasons: first, in that it made an example of them for the restraint of those who should afterward live ungodly (contrary to God's will – in sin – Jude 7; 2 Pet. 2:6); and secondly, because God's "due time" for bringing them to a knowledge of his gracious provision for them and for all under the New Covenant (sealed, or made of force, by the precious blood of Christ) had not yet come. Besides, in his due time, during the Millennium, they shall be awakened, when they and all shall be under the restraints of Christ's Kingdom, and have a full opportunity for attaining life everlasting. See Ezek. 16:48-50,53-55,60-63.
In connection with the destruction of the Canaanitish nations (the Amorites, Hittites, Jebusites, etc.), we are told that the Lord would not bring Israel into their land, but left his people in Egypt (where they got valuable lessons in humility), because the iniquity of the Canaanites was not yet come to the full. (Gen. 15:16.) Each nation, seemingly, was permitted to go only so far in sin and there was stopped. And the stopping of sin furnished repeated illustrations, types, suggestions, outline hints, of God's general plan for the final destruction of evil and the permanent establishment of righteousness in the world. Thus the due time for Israel's release from the bondage of Egypt (which fitly typified the bondage of Sin) was also the due time for a chastisement of Egypt, and the Lord made use of the opportunity to show his power both for the deliverance of his covenant people and for the overcoming of all opposition. Hence he "raised up" to the throne of Egypt that member of the royal family who was most bold and defiant, and who would resist God's plan the most and the longest, in order to make of him and his army a type of Satan and his evil servants ever seeking to enslave and hold in bondage God's covenant people. The deliverance of the one class by God's power and the overthrow of the other class were not only in harmony with principles of righteousness then, but they were also exemplifications of a fuller work of division and separation to be made in God's due time between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. – Mal. 3:18.
So, too, the entrance of Canaan by Israel and the overthrow of the Canaanites, whose iniquity was come to the full, was not only a righteous act, but it was also a type of how, when the real land of promise (the Millennial age) is reached, all the old sinful ways and institutions must be eradicated; and it is also a type of the Christian of to-day, of how when he by faith leaves the world, Egypt, and by faith enters into the possession of God's promises, he must wage a war of extermination against the sinful propensities of the old disposition, which have entrenched themselves in the recesses and fastnesses of his fallen nature.
When thinking of God's relationship to sin, in permitting it for a time, we [R1270 : page 5] should remember that the heart of fallen man is prone to sin – malice, envy, pride, strife, hatred, lasciviousness – and that these are ever ready to take advantage of any opportunity. That God has permitted opportunities for evil would, therefore, be all that could be truthfully said of God's dealings – not that he inspires sinful thoughts and desires and deeds. Let us glance at some illustrations cited as proof that God inspires sin, wickedness and crime. [R1271 : page 5]
Joseph's brethren sold him into slavery, and when they afterward found him the lord of all Egypt they feared greatly the punishment of their crime. But to quiet their fears Joseph said, "Be not grieved nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life." (Gen. 45:5.) But, we answer, no ground is found here for charging the crime of Joseph's brethren upon the Almighty. Stephen, filled with the holy spirit, declared (Acts 7:9) that their course was not inspired by God, but by their own envy; which fully agrees with James 1:13,16. Shall we then say that Joseph made a mistake in the statement he made? No; both Joseph's and Stephen's statements are correct. Joseph's brethren were full of envy and they premeditated his murder, but God caused fear to operate upon the mind of one of them, through whose suggestion the envious brethren took a different course of action and sold Joseph for a slave. Thus God's part in no sense altered the moral responsibilities of Joseph's brethren; nor did it inspire an evil thought. It merely turned the evil thought into another channel (to sell instead of to murder him), which would not conflict with God's plan in reference to Joseph, his servant. It is merely an illustration of God's power to overrule without interfering with the moral character of man. So, too, with all the other affairs of Joseph. Because Joseph was taken from prison to Pharaoh's throne, it is not to be argued that God was the inspiring cause of the crime of Potiphar's wife, on account of which Joseph was sent to prison. On the contrary, God could have brought Joseph to the throne of Egypt in a hundred different ways wholly aside from Potiphar's wife and Joseph's envious brethren. The way adopted was the natural course of events which God overruled and turned; so that without interfering with the wills of any, his will for good was carried out.
Thus it is that God causes the wrath of man (the dispositions of the sinful fallen race, not dispositions which he inspires and forces upon men) to praise him, while the remainder which would interfere with his plans he will restrain. When, in the future, it shall be made clearly manifest to all that the efforts of evil men against God and against his children were all overruled and used of God for some testing or other expedient blessing toward those who love and serve him, then the present wrath of men will begin to praise the Lord by showing his wisdom and goodness.
It is claimed, too, that Job's case is another proof that God is the author of sin, wickedness and crime. We fail to see any foundation for the slander there, either. The account given in the first and second chapters of the book of Job, which represents Jehovah and Satan communing together, relative to Job, we regard as a dressing of facts in figurative language for the purpose of giving certain lessons with clearness. God would teach us that we are not to attribute our calamities to him, to evil or viciousness on his part; that they are merely permitted to come upon us for our testing, and ultimately for the good of all whose faithfulness and integrity toward him are proved thereby. How much Satan has to do with calamities of the present time (the storms, earthquakes, etc.), aside from his general precipitation of all these upon man through his leading of mother Eve into sin, is not clearly shown in the Scriptures.* But though it is intimated that he has much to do with all of man's calamities, both indirectly and directly, this lesson furnished in Job's case shows that in the case of God's people at least Satan's power is limited. He cannot destroy them at his will; he cannot touch them with adversity except as their God will permit. And we have the blessed assurance that he will permit only such calamities as will serve to develop us, and to test our trust and obedience.
As Job said (Job 2:10), so may all of God's people say under affliction: Shall we receive blessings of the Lord's hand and by his providence and refuse chastisements and painful experiences if he sees best to permit them? Shall we not rather trust the Lord and patiently accept whatever experiences may come to us, knowing that he could interfere and protect us, and that whatever he permits must be intended for our good if we are exercised rightly under it?
Another text misused to prove that God is the instigator of all things, good and bad, including sin, crime and wickedness, is found in Amos 3:6, which reads: –
(Literally – Shall there be calamity in a city and the Lord have naught to do with it?) Another similar text quoted in evidence is Isa. 45:7. "I make peace and create evil: I the Lord do all these things."
First, the primary signification of the word "evil" is, "Anything that directly or remotely causes suffering." Its synonyms are injury, mischief, harm, calamity. – Webster. "Moral badness" is a secondary definition of the word "evil," by the same authority on language.
This secondary meaning grows out of the first as a matter of course: all badness is evil, whether it implies moral perception and accountability or not. The decay or badness at the heart of an apple is evil, just as truly as the decay of morals at the heart of a man. The one is a physical evil implying no moral quality or responsibility; the other is a moral evil and implies moral responsibility.
Why any one from a good motive should pass by the evident sense of the word "evil" in these texts of Scripture, and attempt to prove that the Almighty inspires all the sin, crime and wickedness of every city and time, is difficult to conjecture. In this text the word "evil" stands in opposition to the word "peace," and hence carries the thought of trouble, war or some similar evil opposed to peace. If moral badness were meant, the contrasting word would be righteousness or goodness.
Second, in considering that these words of the Lord relate specially to Israel, his typical and covenant people, we have a clear light thrown upon them. As God now has a special interest in and care over all his people, Spiritual Israel, bound to him by the ties of the New Covenant, so he had a special care over Israel as a nation under the conditions of their Law Covenant. Under the New Covenant each individual son of God is a subject of special supervision and chastisement and correction, while under their Law Covenant Israel as a nation was corrected and chastised.
A reference to the terms of the covenant between God and the nation of Israel will show this. The Lord's declaration or promise to them was that, if they as a nation would observe the laws which he gave them, he would bless them with peace, prosperity and plenty, and would be with them, their God, a shield and defender from all evils, wars, pestilences, famines, etc. But if they should neglect God's statutes, and should become idolaters and promoters of evil like the nations about them, God declared, as a part of his covenant with them, that they should be afflicted with sicknesses, famines and pestilences, and be delivered into the hand of their enemies. See the particular description of the blessings promised and the evils threatened in Lev. 26:3-25; Deut. 11:13-28; 28:1-8,15-23,36-49,58-61.
Although the Lord had so particularly warned Israel what to expect, they seem to have gotten the idea that their blessings and calamities were matters of chance and circumstance, as with the godless nations about them; and in the above text (Amos 3:6) God points out to them that their calamities could not come without his knowledge, nor without his permission, according to his covenant with them. This is clear also from the context (verses 1-3): "Hear this word that the Lord hath spoken against you, O children of Israel – against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying, You only have I known [recognized, covenanted with] of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities."
Instead, therefore, of this passage teaching that Jehovah is the great sinner, the inspirer of "all wickedness, crime and sin" in every city, it teaches the very reverse of this – that the evils mentioned were calamities which God would bring or permit to come upon Israel because of their iniquities.
The lesson of Isa. 45:7 is similar. The Lord, having chastened Israel by seventy years captivity in Babylon, points out that the circumstances leading to their return to their own land are no less remarkable, none the less of him and by him, because accomplished through Cyrus, the heathen warrior. The spirit of war, the lust for power and gold which holds sway among men and nations, are not inspired of God; but when the time for Israel's deliverance came, God permitted the hosts of the Medes and Persians to come against Babylon and prospered the way of the noble, benevolent [R1272 : page 5] Cyrus to the seat of power at the proper time to permit him to decree the restoration of Israel to their own land at the termination of the predicted seventy years of its desolation.
In this case as in the others no room is found for charging the Almighty with sin, crime and wickedness. He in no degree interfered with the moral sense of Cyrus or of Israel, but, as always, merely took advantage of the aims and desires of carnal men and overruled their courses (not their motives) to the accomplishment of his plans to bless and heal his people, whom he had previously, according to his covenant, permitted Babylon to conquer and captivate.
In conclusion, we assert on the foregoing evidence that God's Word conscientiously interpreted is a full vindication of the divine character; that even the texts cited to sustain the blasphemy clearly and emphatically contradict it. And we warn all to beware of theories – their own or other men's – which make necessary a defamation of the divine character for their support; that charge God with being the instigator and author of "all the sin and wickedness and crime" of the world, in order to prove that he must by and by retract and work righteousness in all, and preserve all everlastingly. Let God be true though it make every man a liar. [R1272 : page 5]
They ask: (1) Is not God all-wise? Certainly, we answer. (2) Is he not all-powerful? Assuredly, we reply. Well, then, say they, if he be all-wise and all-powerful, can any thing occur in the world contrary to his will or contrary to his power? Must we not settle down to the conviction, held these long centuries back by people called Fatalists, that whatever happens, from a mosquito bite to an epidemic plague of death, or from a snowflake's fall to an earthquake or a tornado, is of God, and that all nature is fulfilling his will? Must we not surmise, too, that all the thoughts and deeds of men, both good and bad, are inspired of God? And if these arguments be admitted, are not all mankind like so much clay in God's hands, which he can and does fashion one way for good or the other way for evil? And if so, are not all our efforts for good or for evil futile? Since God is all powerful, who can resist his will for good or for ill? Is it not, therefore, the only wise course to stop all effort for good or evil, and merely follow the good or bad impulses which arise within us?
We answer that all such reasoning is nonsensical – the vain imaginations of a foolish head and heart. It is simply reasoning around in a circle, without God and his revelation of his will and plan. Such reasoning merely lands where it started – with the proposition, Whatever is, is, because it is and must be so.
While it is true that God has all power, and that none can resist his will or battle with the Almighty, yet it is also true that he is not now exercising this power in every matter, nor compelling his will to be done in all things. To take such a view as the one we are criticizing was bad enough in the darkness of the remote past for those to whom God had offered no revelation concerning his will and plan, and his attitude toward sin and righteousness; but such a leaning to pure conjecture, and totally ignoring God's own statement of his exercise of his power, is inexcusable among Christians of to-day.
God assures us that sin is a rebellion against him and his just provisions for our good; that though he has the power to destroy the sinners, he has a more gracious plan with reference to them through Christ; that though he could have made them otherwise, he preferred to make all animals, from the worm, the ant and the gnat, up to man, the highest of the animal creation, of such organisms that each [R1272 : page 6] should have a will of his own – the power of mind to hope and to fear, to love and to hate, to obey and to disobey. He tells us his plans as they relate to man made in his own image. He shows us that he purposed a test for man in Eden, that even though from the first he knew what the result would be, yet he wished man to learn the lesson, that the only path to happiness is the one of obedience to God and righteousness and love. In permitting sin and its consequences, pain and death, for a time, God is subordinating his love of righteousness, his good pleasure, for our experience and instruction in the principles of righteousness which underlie his government.
During the present time, that we may see how the course of sin would result, the Lord ignores very much that is unholy, hateful and abominable in his sight and does not swiftly mete out the deserved punishments. But he declares that "He will not always chide [reprove], neither will he keep [back, restrain] his anger forever." (Psa. 103:9.) Though it may at present appear as though the Lord is slack in the fulfilment of his promises, both in regard to well-doers and to evil-doers, it would be a mistake to suppose thus. The Lord is not slack, as men count slackness, says the Apostle (2 Pet. 3:9), but is plenteous in mercy, not desiring that any should perish, but that all should turn unto him and live. Nevertheless, every good deed shall in due time be remembered and rewarded, and every malicious deed likewise: "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord." God is merely biding his time, letting his will and word and character be misunderstood by some and misrepresented by others, letting men have an experience with doing their own wills and trying their own plans and theories, that thus the lesson of sin and its tendencies and results may be clearly seen and appreciated by both angels and men. Then the Lord will arise and through his Anointed Son will display his power and make known his will. He will proceed to lay righteousness to the line and justice to the plummet and will sweep away every refuge of lies. (Isa. 28:17.) His will then shall be done on earth as it is done in heaven. (Matt. 6:10.) A knowledge of righteousness and an experience with righteousness shall be forced upon men through Christ's Millennial reign; all shall come to a knowledge of the truth; all shall see the effects of righteousness and love and peace, and the will and law of God, clearly contrasted with their own former experiences under sin and selfishness.
God's object in all this – in thus permitting man now to try rebellion and selfishness, and under the Millennial reign of Christ forcing all to have an experience with the different results when his will is done – is to select from among his creatures such as, after full knowledge of evil and of good, love the good, the right, the pure, the holy, and abhor the evil.
He seeketh such to worship him; for they can and will worship him in spirit and in truth. After they are fully proved to be such, it is his good pleasure that they shall live forever, and he promises them everlasting life and communion with himself. All others he will cut off from life in the second death, because he has no pleasure in them that love evil: "Evil doers shall be cut off, but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth; for yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be; yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place and it shall not be: But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace." – Psa. 37:9-11.
Thus we see the fallacy of the circle-reasoning of those who would judge of the Lord merely by their own weaknesses and not by his Word. How grand the view which the Scriptures present – that God and his will and all his works are wholly on the side of purity and justice and truth, and that he is in no sense practicing or endorsing sin, or causing others to practice it, or in the slightest degree favoring it; but on the contrary, while reproving it and explaining its tendency and results, he merely restrains his indignation and justice and permits man to work out his wilful, sinful plans, and to learn from experience the lesson that sin is ever an evil and is to be shunned.
God has pleasure in uprightness. – 1 Chron. 29:17.
He has pleasure in the prosperity of his servants. – Psa. 35:27.
It is his good pleasure to give the kingdom to his little flock. – Luke 12:32.
He called them to this kingdom honor according to the good pleasure of his will. – Eph. 1:5.
It is his good pleasure to work in those who are fully consecrated to him, to guide them both in willing and in doing his will. – Phil. 2:13. [R1273 : page 6]
In such as he counts worthy he will fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness. – 2 Thes. 1:11.
The words, deeds and character of our Lord Jesus illustrated to us what pleases God. In him he was well pleased. – Matt. 3:17.
He was an example for all who would please God. – 1 Thes. 4:1.
The testimony to those who have loved and served him in righteousness and truth is, that they pleased God. – Heb. 11:5.
God is pleased with all the painful though joyous sacrifices which his "little flock" makes in his service, following in the footsteps of their Redeemer and Lord. With such sacrifices God is well pleased. – Heb. 13:12-16.
Of his own will begat he us by the Word of truth. – James 1:18.
Our Master declares that whosoever shall do the will of the Father is his brother. – Mark 3:35.
And this is the will of God, even our sanctification. – 1 Thes. 5:14-23.
Through the fall, we have lost our keen appreciation of God's will, and hence are exhorted to study to prove what is that good, acceptable, perfect will of God. – Rom. 12:2.
This is needful if we would stand complete in the will of God. – Col. 4:12.
That we might be willing, if the will of God be so, to suffer for righteousness sake. – 1 Pet. 3:17.
It is also the will of God that by well-doing ye should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. – 1 Pet. 2:15.
This to the intent that we should not live henceforth according to the desires of men, but to the will of God. – 1 Pet. 4:2.
Because he (and only he) that doeth the will of God abideth forever. – 1 John 2:17.
Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God [for righteousness sake] commit the keeping of their souls in well-doing unto him, as unto a faithful Creator. – 1 Pet. 4:19.
And ye have need of patience [during this period in which God permits sin and opposition to his will to flourish], that after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. – Heb. 10:36.
That we may have confidence in him, and respect and trust him, he hath made known to us the mystery of his will [plan] concerning his good pleasure which he purposed in himself – that in his due, full time he will subdue all things by and under Christ; that evil and sin are permitted to oppose his will only for a little season; that shortly the lessons because of which evil is now permitted to triumph will be finished; and that throughout all the ages to come, righteousness, his will, shall be done. – Eph. 1:9,10; 2:7.
This mystery of God's will, though still hidden from the world, was to be fully appreciated by his saints during this evil day and was to be the ground for their faith and patience and endurance. They were to wait for the Lord from heaven and to expect deliverance from evil both for themselves and the world through him who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from the evil of this present period, according to the will of God our Father. – Gal. 1:4.
Not only were the saints to have this knowledge of the coming triumph of God and righteousness, but they were to confess to the Lord in prayer their appreciation of the fact that present evil is not of his will, nor of his government, and their faith to the contrary that all holy desires will be fulfilled when his kingdom has come and when his will is done on earth as it is now done in heaven. – Matt. 6:10.
God, our Savior, desires all men to be saved and to come to an accurate knowledge of the [this] truth. – 1 Tim. 2:4. – Diaglott.
His good desires and plan, however, are all centred in Christ; hence he has appointed no other name by which we must be saved, and no other condition than faith in his blood (in his ransom-sacrifice) and obedience to his precepts of righteousness – love. No man can come unto the Father except by him. He that hath the Son hath life, and he that not the Son of God hath not life. – John 14:6; 1 John 5:12; John 3:36; 5:24.
For the same reason, as a part of the same will of God concerning men, he hath appointed to establish his kingdom on earth, and that his King and representative shall reign to bless men, to bring them to a knowledge of his goodness, his perfection, his hatred of sin and his desire toward all that they might be saved from death and come fully back into harmony with him, and of his provision through Christ for them all to do so. – 1 Tim. 2:3-6.
Yet God is not pleased to accept men without testing and proving them as to whether, after full knowledge, ability and choice, they will sincerely love the right and hate the wrong. Therefore he has been pleased to appoint a day [the Millennial Day] in the which he will judge the world in [try and prove men with reference to] righteousness. The Judge of all is to be Christ – Jesus and his Church; and the work shall be so thoroughly done that no lover of righteousness shall be sentenced to the second death, and no lover of evil shall escape that sentence. – Acts 3:23.
This trial-test of all, after full knowledge of good and evil, is because our God hates sin and every evil way. He is not a God that has pleasure in wickedness. – Psa. 5:4.
"Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should turn from his ways and live?" "I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn and live ye." "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live." – Ezek. 18:23,32; 33:11.
"My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now and to change my tone; for I stand in doubt of you." – Gal. 4:19,20.
The wealth of God's wonderful favor to the church of Christ is briefly comprehended in that one expression of the Apostle Paul, "Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Col. 1:27.) Christ in you, dear ones, is the only Scriptural foundation for that good hope of the prize of our high calling of God in Christ Jesus. If Christ be not formed in you, then indeed is your hope vain, no matter how much truth or how many advantages you may possess. The object of giving the truth is not to satisfy mere idle curiosity, but to sanctify us wholly; and if it does not accomplish this result, the knowledge of it is only the stronger condemnation against us.
In writing to the congregation of believers at Colosse who had received the truth from Paul with gladness and all readiness of mind, the Apostle, as the above text indicates, was obliged to change his tone or manner of expression toward them, because their vacillating course since receiving the truth proved to him that the spirit of Christ, the spirit of the truth, was not yet formed in them. And therefore he here represents his work among and for them as that of a mother in the first stages of gestation, travailing in painful and laborious effort until the new being is formed. When the "new creature" is once definitely formed, the process of development, as illustrated in the development of the natural fetus, is less laborious and distressing; yet there is labor and anxiety all the way to those whose care over the church, like Paul's, is akin to that of motherhood, until the new creature is actually born at the resurrection. After the new creature is formed, if there be no mishap, no miscarriage, there will in due time be the birth of a glorious being, of the divine nature, in the likeness of our glorious Head; and great will be the joy then of all such as have taken the motherly interest in the formation and development of the Christian character of these called and faithful and chosen.
There comes a time during the period of natural gestation, shortly after the formation of the new creature, when life begins to manifest itself in activity. This manifestation of activity is called the quickening. If this quickening never takes place, the sure indication is that whatever of dormant life there may have been is becoming or has already become extinct, and the birth of the new living creature will therefore never take place unless the dying embryo can in some way be resuscitated and brought to the quickening stage.
This is precisely what Paul was endeavoring with much carefulness and painstaking to do for the church at Colosse. They had received the truth with gladness, and Paul was for a time greatly beloved among them as a messenger of the truth. But very soon after they lost confidence in the truth and were speedily [R1274 : page 7] drifting into error – the error of trusting to the law Covenant of God for salvation instead of humbly depending on Christ alone, who is "the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth" – that trusteth in him.
The cause of this instability and sudden turning away from the truth on the part of the Colossian church is clearly intimated in the above text. It was because Christ was not formed in them. Although they had been begotten by the word of truth, the new germ of spiritual being had not yet progressed even to the definite formation of Christian character which manifests its existence and life in activity; they had not reached the quickening stage, although it was high time that such indications of life should appear in them. Therefore said the Apostle, "I desire to be present with you now, and to change my tone; for I stand in doubt of you." Ah! instead of the joyful tone, proclaiming the good tidings of the grace of God to them, as formerly, it must now be the tone of reproof, of warning and of exhortation.
But let us inquire more particularly what it is to have Christ formed in us. It is not merely to have a knowledge of Christ and of the divine plan which God is working out through him; it is not merely to have an admiration for his character and glory, or a desire to share his glory in the day of his manifestation; it is not merely to talk loudly of the truth, nor to make long prayers, nor to wear solemn faces and make loud professions of holiness. This is the negative answer to the question, but what is the affirmative? We answer, It is to have a Christ-like character distinctly formed in us as a result of the begetting power of the truth and of the exceeding great and precious promises, inspiring in us love to God and to all his creatures; faith in his sure Word of promise and in his ability and willingness to accomplish all his purposes; obedience, or full consecration to the will of God at any cost to self, and a fixed determination ever to abide by his expressed will; and zeal, which makes manifest this disposition of heart in activity for the accomplishment of the purposes of God, in so far as the Scriptures inform us that human agency can affect them. These fundamental principles of Christian character – love, faith, obedience and zeal – must be established before the new creature can be said to exist at all. And if they are thus established, God has provided the conditions necessary to their gradual growth and development until, in due time, the new creature is born into the full perfection and glory of the divine nature.
If these principles of the Christian character are not definitely formed, or fixed in us, we will always be vacillating in our faith and obedience, and lacking in love and devotedness to God; and we can therefore have no good hope of the reward of the faithful. If we have merely a little love for God which appreciates but slightly his blessings and promises, and a little faith which indolently says – This good news seems to be true, but I do not exactly know; many smart men read the Bible quite differently and arrive at opposite conclusions; it is difficult to discover which is right and I shall not trouble myself trying to find out, so I have a general charity for all and am no bigot; – and if we are willing to obey God only so far as it suits our convenience, to trust him as far as we can trace him, and to advance his truth only so far as our indolence will permit us to discover it, and as our temporal interests may be served by it – if such be our condition of heart, then the Christ character is not formed in us. And though we may have been begotten by the exceeding great and precious promises to a good hope of life in Christ, the germ of the new life is in a dying condition and will never come to the birth unless it can be resuscitated and developed to the actual formation of the Christ character, which always manifests itself in loving zeal for the Lord's cause – for the advancement of his truth and the upbuilding of his consecrated ones.
How important, then, that each of those who hope to have a share with Christ in his kingdom sees to it that his hope is founded upon the fact that Christ is now actually formed in him, and that as evidence of this he has manifestly reached the quickening stage in the process of development, when love, faith and obedience are all full of activity and zealous in seeking and improving every opportunity for the service of God. If we hear the truth and merely say that we consecrate ourselves to God, and then go on living just like the rest of the world, spending all or nearly all of our time and our means merely for our stomachs, our backs and the temporal interests of our families and the business pursuits of the present life, what evidence have we that we are quickened, that the Christ character is formed in us, or that the hope of glory is ours? Many seem to make this mistake, and the evidences of the shipwrecked faith of many such lie all about us; but, thank God! the evidence of faithfulness – of the actual formation and development of Christian character – is also apparent in the quickened zeal of many. And it is a noteworthy fact that those whose mortal bodies are thus quickened in the service of the truth have the clearest perception and discernment of truth, and the evil one is unable to touch them with the shafts of error.
Let all who aspire to the inheritance of the saints make sure that they have the Christ character formed in them, that the principles so notable in Christ's character are established in them. Let us each see that we do not hinder the development of this character by giving our time, our vitality, our means, etc., to the pursuit of the things of this world. Have you love? Is it manifested in fervent zeal for the honor of God, the spread of his truth and the blessing of his children? Are you seeking and finding opportunities for thus showing the Lord how much you love? Have you faith? Is it unmistakably manifested, not merely in profession, but in bold and definite acts of faith? If a million dollars were promised to any man who would walk from Pittsburgh to Buffalo, and a dozen men professed faith in the promise, and yet only one actually started out and walked, the natural and correct inference would be that the other eleven did not have the faith. If they had the faith in such a promise it would rouse them to activity. And just so, any man who appreciates fully and believes the exceeding great and precious promises of God to the church, will make haste and run for them; and he will closely observe the directions, too, that he may not run in vain.
And if Christ be formed in him, those established principles of Christian character will hold him firm and steady in the midst of temptations and error, and he will not be easily moved either from the practice of righteousness or from sound Scriptural doctrine. He will demand a "Thus saith the Lord" for every doctrine, and on that sure word he will dare depend. And the language of his heart as expressed in his daily life will be, "My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed. I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people." "Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage forever; for they are the rejoicing of my heart." "Thy words were found and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart; for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts." – Psa. 57:7,9; 119:111; Jer. 15:16.
While such must be the personal condition of every heir of the Kingdom, the special work of every such one should be to help those begotten by the Word of truth to arrive at this condition of fixed and quickened Christian character. Be not satisfied, beloved fellow laborers, when those within the range of your influence are merely begotten by the Word of truth, but, by instruction, example and assistance, labor diligently to have Christ formed in them, the hope of glory; and then, so far as possible, minister also to their further development, that they may eventually be born in the glorious, divine nature.
Though love and justice stand very closely related to each other, they are nevertheless distinct and separate elements of moral character. Justice is the exact weight and measure of righteousness, but love is the overwhelming measure of benevolence, pressed down, shaken together, heaped up and running over.
Justice may be dealt out without love's overwhelming measure, but love cannot be dealt out without justice. The measure cannot overflow until it is first filled. Justice, therefore, is the foundation on which love is established. If we make professions of love which are not backed by justice, our conduct is open to either one of two adverse criticisms, either that we are ignorant of the operations of justice in certain particulars, or else that we are unfaithful in our professions. The former probably is most generally the case where the profession lacks the substantial foundation.
This principle of justice, the Scriptures declare, is the very foundation of God's throne – "Justice and judgment are the prop of thy throne." (Psa. 89:14.) And the great value which God placed upon this principle was manifested in the great expense at which he maintained it inviolate, notwithstanding his overwhelming love for the race which it condemned to death and which he planned to redeem. Though it cost the sacrifice of his only begotten Son, he freely gave him up for us all – as a satisfaction to the claims of justice against his human children. If God is so scrupulously careful to maintain justice, how careful we should be to study and apply the same principle in all our dealings. As justice is the very foundation of all God's dealings with his creatures, so it should be the foundation of all our dealings – in our business relations, in the family and in society.
In the life of every Christian strict justice should be manifest. He should be fair in his judgment of values, willing to pay the just equivalent for that which he receives if he is making a purchase, willing also to give to his employer a just equivalent in labor for wages received. If a competitor in business with others, he should not seek to undersell his fellow tradesman below a living price for his commodities. If a parent, he should recognize the individual rights of his children, male and female, when they come to maturity. Parental control is a necessity until that time, but is an injustice when insisted upon beyond it; and if yielded to, becomes a fetter to future usefulness and interferes with their individual relationship and responsibility to God.
Justice in parents recognizes the right of a matured son to leave the home nest and carve out his future course for himself; and likewise of the daughter. Justice on the children's part also recognizes the claims of filial obligation – of reverence, love, the grateful consideration of the maturer wisdom of parents, and the tender care for their age and infirmities and declining years.
When justice is thus established in these various relations of life, there is little room left for the weeds of hatred, malice, envy, evil-speaking, etc., to spring up. On the contrary, the conditions are ripe for the development of every virtue and every grace, especially if love's overflowing measure of benevolence overleaps the bounds of simple justice in its desires and efforts to bless.
Let us then see to it that we are always just before we attempt to be generous, and when sure that all our actions are squared by justice, then let us manifest the love unfeigned, not necessarily by showers of professions, but rather by the loving ministry of kindly deeds, deeds of self-sacrifice and self-forgetfulness. Such love should be markedly manifest among the consecrated sons of God – not a love which merely worketh no ill to his neighbor, but a love which worketh good. And let no one deceive himself into the idea that his heart is filled with the love of God while he is unjustly depriving another of his rights, either of property, or reputation, or aught else.
But love will go still further: it will not only spare a neighbor's property or reputation, but it will seek to protect them. Love will cover a multitude of sins, even, from the eyes of others, though it will endeavor to show them up to the offender. Let justice with love's overflowing measure abound in all the saints.
Go into some religious meetings, and presently you hear some one get up and tell that he is saved by the blood; and then another one says that he rejoices to know he is living under the blood, and another says that the blood cleanses him from all sin; and so they continue all through the meeting; and they really seem to enjoy it. Whenever any one mentions the blood, you see the faces of the others light up with joyful emotion, and hear words of gladness come from their lips. What is it all about? Are they lunatics? No; on the contrary, they are the most sensible and moral people in the community, whose testimony would be received as good in any court of justice. Then surely they must have some reason for their language about the blood. Let us ask one of them about it.
Friend, will you explain why you people are always talking about blood and seem to find so much comfort in doing so? Yes, gladly; it is the precious blood of Christ, the Son of God, who is called the Lamb of God, about which we talk and sing. But why is that blood so precious to you? Because it continually reminds us that our sins are all forgiven and put away, in perfect accordance with God's infinite justice and righteousness, as well as mercy; so that trusting in the blood we have actually no more consciousness of sins. [R1276 : page 8]
But how does Christ's blood do away with your sinfulness? I can best answer you by pointing you to the record of Scripture concerning the penalty of sin, which is everywhere declared to be death. Under the Mosaic and Patriarchal dispensations this was also taught by a series of object lessons. Animals were killed, and their blood was carried in by the priest and presented before God as the evidence that death had really taken place, as the broken law required. In accordance with this God told the Israelites, "The blood is the life...and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls, for it is the blood which maketh an atonement for the soul." The blood, being no longer in the victim's veins, was the positive evidence that the life was taken.
But could the life blood of animals satisfy divine justice on behalf of sinful man? No; "the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sins," but it could shadow forth the truth that if human guilt was ever removed, some way must be found by which divine justice as well as mercy could be magnified, and sin be seen in all its awfulness through the terrible consequences it entailed. The doctrine of Scripture is, that Christ, by offering up himself, or shedding his life's blood, or pouring out his soul unto death, put away our sins. We read that "he died for our sins" – "put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" – "offered one sacrifice for sins forever:" in fact, did what the Levitical sacrifices had pointed to but never accomplished. But how could Christ become legally responsible for the guilt of others, so that his death would meet the requirements of justice on their behalf? By identifying himself with them, and offering himself as a sacrifice for their redemption, he became a new federal head to the human race, with power and authority to bestow upon those previously under sentence of death a new life from himself, over which death should have no power. Making himself thus a shelter for sinners, he became responsible for their sins. Justice, being unable to reach the sinner, demanded and received satisfaction at the place where the sinner thus legally escaped it.
Adam, the old life-giving head, entailed death on his seed. Christ, the new life-giving head, undertook to carry the race safely through the death which otherwise would have completely and eternally overwhelmed it. So in order to make a way out of death, he was obliged to go down into death, bearing in his own person the legal responsibility for the sins of the world; and so the shedding of his blood became the evidence that he really and truly died. By offering new life to man he burdened himself with the debt which attached to the old life, and therefore he laid down forever the natural or creature life, that he might rise again in the divine, spiritual life, and become the source of life to all who would come into union with himself. Thus, the blood of Christ, his death, stands as an evidence before God and before the conscience of believers that the law's demands have been met and fully satisfied by our great federal Head. Do you wonder that we make much of the precious blood of Christ; and that we feel and know that it cleanseth us from all sin?– Selected.
MISSIONARY ENVELOPES. – The price of these is reduced to 25 cents per hundred, or $2.00 per thousand. (This includes expressage or mail charges of delivering them to you.) We want these messengers to go everywhere, bearing testimony to the Truth, and calling attention to God's gracious Plan of the Ages.
"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." – Matt. 11:28-30.
To take Christ's yoke upon us is to become a yoke-fellow with him, and to patiently walk with him. The yoke is a symbol of servitude, and he who submits to the yoke thereby submits to the will and directing of another and quietly plods on for the accomplishment of an appointed task. This our Lord Jesus did in willingly submitting his will to the will of the Heavenly Father. God did not impose the yoke upon him, nor does he upon any; but he cheerfully took it and patiently bore it, not esteeming it a menial service, though it cost him the deepest humiliation, but delighting to do God's will.
The invitation to us, then, is to be yoked in together with Christ in the same service and under the same Master. The yoke, he says, is an easy one, and the burden light. But we cannot be yoked in with Christ unless we have his spirit. Two that are yoked together must of necessity be of one mind; and that which makes the yoke set lightly upon us is the fixedness of purpose which does not chafe under it or try to get away from it, but which delights to bear it in view of the end to be gained, as well as in the communion and fellowship of a kindred mind, a true yoke-fellow.
What a blessed invitation, to come under the same yoke with Christ! and what an excellent opportunity to learn the way in which our Heavenly Father would have us walk! How, indeed, could we miss the way when yoked in with such a leader? From him we learn the way; in company with him we catch his blessed spirit; we learn of that meekness which despises no humiliation, however great; which is not only contented and happy in any situation, but which is always rejoicing in the privilege of treading the way, as well as in hope of the glorious end to which it tends. And thus we find rest unto our souls – rest from the vain ambitions and fruitless works and plans which other task-masters would force upon us. O! that all who labor under other yokes and are heavily burdened would cast them off and learn with what ease and delight they can wear the yoke of Christ.
All of the greatest toilers in God's service gave the same testimony. Jesus said, It is easy and light; Paul said, "These light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." James said, "Brethren, count it all joy, for the trying of your faith [under this yoke] worketh patience," etc.; Peter said, "We rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." And all the true yoke-fellows of the Lord in the present day also bear the same testimony. They can rejoice in all circumstances, and in everything give thanks.
Anger is wrong when it is fired by the lower passions. Most men are angry when their own interests are assailed, but bear with great patience wrongs inflicted upon others. Anger fired by self-love, or self-conceit, or self-will, is always despicable. But anger fired by the higher impulses is noble, manly, divine. The ancient prophets were angered when they heard the name of God blasphemed. "I count the enemies of God my enemies," said David; "I hate them with a perfect hatred." The spirit which flushes with resentment at an oath is better by far than the spirit which listens with indifference, or which laughs with pleasure. "Abhor that which is evil" says the divine command; and no man is safe unless he does. Every child should have such a chivalric sense of the purity of true womanhood that the salacious story, the illicit jest, the noisome scandal, should arouse his wrath against the teller of it. A moral discord should awaken resentment in a well-educated conscience, as a musical discord awakens resentment in a well educated ear. The wrath of self-esteem, of approbativeness, of acquisitiveness, is dangerous and degrading. But it is both dangerous and degrading to be without a wrath of conscience, of reverence, of faith and of love. The wrath of love? Aye! the wrath of love. This is the divinest and hottest wrath of all. This is the wrath of the Lamb which will consume the world's dross in the day when it is purified so as by fire. Do not teach your children never to be angry; but teach them how to "be angry and sin not." – Eph. 4:26.Selected.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – It is now nearly ten months since you heard from me last. The reason for this long delay has been my recent sickness for nearly three months, and I have been still disabled to write even after my partial recovery. The books, papers, tracts, etc., you sent me came to hand and are doing their intended work. Enclosed please find another order for more books. I am heartily gratified to hear of the book of "POEMS AND HYMNS OF DAWN." You may recollect that I called your attention, some two years ago, to the necessity of having such hymns, so we might "sing with the spirit and with the understanding;" hence I am greatly rejoiced to know that you have felt the same need and have prepared such a book for our use.
I am also glad to advise you that the harvest work here is still going on with unabated zeal and perseverance amidst opposition and persecution from the nominal church and the world. We feel assured that the presence of the Lord is with us, which in great measure stimulates and cheers our otherwise drooping hearts. The circle of interested ones is gradually becoming wider in Africa. A recent letter from Bro. C. J. George to me, in reference to the Church of Christ, as a proof of this fact, says: "When you communicate to America you will not fail to remind Bro. Russell of the interest that is being awakened at L__________, and also to send me a few more of his tracts (assorted), missionary envelopes, and a copy of the Emphatic Diaglott."
Thus you see how the truth is gaining ground, and must eventually prevail over errors and sophistries of the devil, and traditions of long standing. May the good Lord still bless your labor for his own glory! With best regards, very truly your brother in the harvest work.
TOWER PUBLISHING CO. GENTLEMEN: – Enclosed find $1.50, and send MILLENNIAL DAWNS to addresses given. We have just read this most remarkable book with great interest. Should it strike others as it has me, it will certainly meet a long felt want, and prove to be a wonderful power for good. I always felt restrained in my allegiance to a God with no moral attributes above man.
This book brushes away all the narrow views of a half century's gathering, and sets forth the wisdom, justice, and mercy of God in a far more exalted light. The Bible is all a new revelation to me now, and is wonderfully interesting.
I send for these volumes to pass around, and should they give others the pleasure they have brought to me and mine, I will further continue the orders. Personally thanking the author of the book for the blessing and comfort it has brought to me through its vindication of the character of our God, I am sincerely and truly yours,
MY DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – Very many thanks for your gracious letters and postal card. I rejoice that you give me permission to translate the beautiful DAWN into French, and I note very carefully the instructions you give, which I wish to comply with to the letter. I find I must be in Paris to carry them out as you desire. I intend to win, with the Lord's help, many Frenchmen to the cause of this truth. I have been particularly blessed by reading recent numbers of the WATCH TOWER.
Brother Cooper, who but recently came to see the light through the first volume, which I loaned to him, is in quite a glory season. He has been forbidden to preach any more among the Wesleyans so long as he spreads this light. With respect and love to Sister Russell, ever yours in heavenly love.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – Yours received, and as usual read with pleasure and profit. I thank you sincerely for your kind reply and advice. God bless you, and the saints at Allegheny. I felt that I had the assistance of your prayers last Sunday. I had the pleasure of meeting the pastor of my old congregation. He undertook a very unfair arrangement, all in his favor, but was met and completely routed, and actually fled the field. The Lord be praised! He compared me to "Judas Iscariot," and "Benedict Arnold." When I got up to reply, he tried to dismiss the congregation, failing in which, he left with precipitation, although I gave him a kind invitation to remain.
A small number of his friends undertook to create some confusion by laughing and talking, even after I had kneeled down in prayer. I prayed the Lord to forgive them, for it was evident they were ignorant and knew not what they did. They finally subsided and fled with their leader, leaving me a large, orderly and interested company. It seemed to me that my understanding and lips were opened. I felt liberated and inspired, and like a flash the thought occurred to me, "The brethren and sisters of Allegheny are praying for me."
I can't help thinking, good was done that day. I preached at 11 o'clock, A.M., also, and distributed a lot of tracts, and all the Z.W.T.'s you sent me, and then all that wanted could not be supplied. I am to preach there again soon. Dear friends, pray for us. And oh! pray the Lord to bless me with a meek and quiet spirit. I expect to be attacked furiously in all kinds of ways.
God bless you and sister R. Long may you be spared to instruct and encourage the Church. Yours in the one faith,
These tracts are published quarterly, at a very low price, by the Tower Tract Society. They are designed for general circulation among Christian people. They are on live topics, calculated to awaken interest in the study of God's Word and plan.
All of God's children, interested, are welcome to assist in this work in any way they may choose. These as pebbles from the brook may do more sometimes in the hands of God's faithful than can greater institutions. (1 Sam. 17:40.) Let this "hail" be freely scattered – not to injure but to liberate and bless God's people and to bring them out of the short beds of human tradition, whose narrow hopes expose them ever to the chills of fear and hinder true rest and confidence and trust. (Isa. 28:19-21.) These tracts we believe are helping many, delivering them from the torment of fear (which must be "a vexation unto them, until He shall make them to understand doctrine") into the light and liberty and love of a fuller appreciation of their Father's character and plan.
TOPICS TREATED. No. 1 – Do the Scriptures Teach that Eternal
Torment is the Wages of Sin?
No. 2 – Calamities, – Why God Permits Them.
No. 3 – Protestants, Awake! – How Priestcraft
No. 4 – Dr. Talmage's View of the Millennium
– With Friendly Comments.
No. 5 – Bible Study and Students' Helps.
No. 6 – The Hope of the Groaning Creation.
TERMS ON OLD THEOLOGY TRACTS.
The Tract Society offers as follows: – It will supply five tracts, quarterly, free, to each of the Lord's Poor of the Watch Tower List, or one tract, quarterly, to any poor person who may write mentioning this offer.
This work is specially designed to make plain the divine plan. It begins at the beginning of the subject, by establishing the faith of the reader in God and the Bible as his revelation, and proceeds to trace the glorious plan therein revealed, and to show which parts of that plan are already accomplished, and which will be accomplished during the Millennial age, the manner of its introduction, and its objects and methods.
We know of nothing to compare with this book, as a "Bible Key" – "A Helping Hand for Bible Students." The One Hundred and Twentieth Thousand is now on the press, and many who have read it carefully and prayerfully, declare that if they could not obtain another they would not part with their copy, and the hopes it has enkindled, for millions.
It contains 352 pages, clear type, good paper, etc. Price in cloth covers $1.00 (or together with one year's subscription to this journal, Zion's Watch Tower, $1.25). Price in paper covers 25 cents, reduced from 50 cents to bring it within reach of all. These prices include postage.
Only Watch Tower subscribers are desired to act as colporteurs or agents for this book, and to thus preach with each book sixteen sermons more effectively than in any other way, and to classes not otherwise accessible. Some loan these books in quantities, others give them to their friends, and others sell them. The latter plan is often best, because people will more surely read what they have paid something for.
Some of our readers, who can afford it, pay the above low prices by the hundred copies, and some do more and contribute to the TOWER TRACT FUND, enabling us to make the following terms on the paper covered books to those whose circumstances are such that they can greatly increase their time and labor in this work by taking advantage of the allowance, as all subscribers are at liberty and welcome to do, each according to his own judgment.
The terms to Colporteurs are as follows: – To such as desire these books for loaning or giving away, and to those who can spend more of their time in selling them by reason of this arrangement, the Tract Fund grants an allowance of 10 cents per book, in lots of not less than 10 books AT A TIME – that is $1.50 for 10 books, $3.00 for 20, etc. This allowance is made to enable those of limited means to do more in the work of spreading the truth than they could otherwise do.
To such as give their entire time to this ministry of the truth, traveling from town to town and engaging in no other business for support, the Tract Fund grants an allowance of 12½ cents per copy (called "Expense Money" to pay the traveling and living expenses of colporteurs), – in lots of not less than 20 books AT A TIME, – that is $2.50 for 20 books, $5.00 for 40, etc.
When ordering state plainly which terms you accept, otherwise we shall reckon 25 cents each.
A GERMAN TRANSLATION OF THE ABOVE AT SAME PRICES AND ON SAME TERMS, except that colporteurs will be permitted to order one half the minimum quantities, – 5 for 75 cents, etc., or to regular colporteurs 10 for $1.25.
Prices are terms same as Vol. I. This volume is intended only for those who have carefully and thoroughly studied Vol. I. All such whose interest is awakened, will surely want this volume and succeeding ones which are in course of preparation, as well as the regular issues of the WATCH TOWER.
Though foreign postage is higher, we must not increase the price; for money elsewhere is more scarce among the poor than here, and the poor we want specially to reach, since we know that "not many rich or great" are among the Lord's chosen.
Our foreign friends may, therefore, hereafter, reckon our terms in English money, thus: –
25 cents = 1 shilling. 50 cents = 2 shillings. $1.00 " 4 " $1.25 " 5 " 1.50 " 6 " 2.50 " 10 " 3.00 " 12 " 5.00 " 20 "
All who would engage in the work of ministering as colporteurs, but who lack the means to purchase the quantities mentioned above, can take their sample book and begin by taking orders, payable on delivery. If you can write us that you have secured orders for 5 we will let you have 10 books on credit; if you get orders for 10 we are willing to let you have 20; if you get 20 we will let you have 40 books on credit.
Write your order on a separate piece of paper from that upon which your letter is written. Write very plainly – especially your name and address. The name of the town is not always the same as the name of the post office: be sure to give the name of the Post Office to which you wish books sent. Give us plenty of time by ordering several days before you want the books, as we are very busy. Address orders to
MISSIONARY ENVELOPES. – The price of these is reduced to 25 cents per hundred, or $2.00 per thousand. (This includes expressage or mail charges of delivering them to you.) We want these messengers to go everywhere, bearing testimony to the Truth, and calling attention to God's gracious Plan of the Ages.
We are in receipt of many letters asking, whether this work is of any value to English readers who have no knowledge of the Greek. We answer, Yes; it is specially designed for such: and the Diaglott, together with Young's Analytical Concordance, are worth more than a year's study of the Greek. Both should be in the hands of every Bible student; but if you cannot afford both, the Diaglott is the most valuable – indeed almost indispensable.
Many orders come for the Diaglott from persons not subscribers to the TOWER, and for extra copies for friends from those who are subscribers. Hence, we must explain particularly, why we can supply this work to TOWER subscribers only, and to these only one copy each, at the special price $1.50. The reasons are as follows:
Some years ago a Brother, who is a great friend to the TOWER, and a great admirer of the Emphatic Diaglott also, suggested that, Every student of God's plan, as presented in the TOWER, ought to have the aid which the Diaglott affords. The difficulty which seemed to stand in the way was, that it is of necessity an expensive work (Retail price in cloth binding $4.00, postage 16 cts. = $4.16.) and the great majority of our readers are far from wealthy, like the majority of the saints in all ages. To meet this difficulty, the Brother proposed to the TOWER PUB. CO., that, if they would be at the trouble and expense of mailing the books, he would supply one copy each to all TOWER subscribers, at a price to bring the book with the reach of all, viz. $1.50, including postage.
This was begun when our subscription list was much smaller than now, and is still continued: New readers of either DIAGLOTT or TOWER need both. Subscribers will please save us the annoyance of refusing, and returning their money, by ordering only one copy of the Diaglott: unless your first copy has worn out, – in which case, in ordering another, mention this fact. The only way for others to get the book at this special price is to subscribe for the TOWER: and the Diaglott must be mailed direct to the subscriber and not to another person.
Our supply of this valuable work, at $3.50, is now exhausted. Hereafter, we can give our subscribers the benefit of a wholesale price only, as competitive editions are about exhausted, and the "Author's Edition" is able to command its price, – which, the value of the work considered, is very cheap. The retail price of the book is $5.00, with postage 55 cents added – $5.55. Our price to our readers will hereafter be $4.25 by mail, postage prepaid by us; or $3.70, if sent by express at your charges. As it is quite a large volume (weight seven pounds), it will be cheapest for most purchasers, to get it by mail.
This is a translation of the Old Testament Scriptures into the English language by a Hebrew. It is chiefly valuable for comparison in studying. This lot we can supply – postage paid by us – at $1.50, in sheep binding.
Quite a number of Brethren and Sisters (among them some who have filled pulpits in various denominations), feeling that the spread of MILLENNIAL DAWN is the best method of preaching the truth, are giving their entire time to this work, going from city to city and from village to village. They are thus doing a reaping or harvesting work – garnering the ripe "wheat" and sowing seeds for the great Restitution crop.
There is room for more, although the number at present is greater and their work more effective than ever before. The way is open for many of our readers thus to go forth in the Master's name and service. He has opened the way for this; for though the paper covered books re sold so cheaply – 25 cents – nevertheless allowance is made for the expense of Colporteurs by suppling them at a reduced price. Those who give their entire time to the work will be supplied with Vol. I. in paper covers in lots of twenty or more at a time at 12½ cents per copy; Vol. II. in lots of five or more at a time at 15 cents per copy. Colporteurs are also allowed to take new subscriptions for the WATCH TOWER and are allowed one-half of the first year's subscription price on such new names, to assist in paying their expenses.
SOME WHO CANNOT BECOME COLPORTEURS – but who nevertheless can give some time from other work, and who need the discount to enable them to give the more time to this work – will be supplied with either volume in packages of not less than 5 of a kind at 15 cents each. This offer is also open to those who follow the plan of loaning and giving away the books. The loaning plan we believe to be better than giving gratis, as the books are more likely to be read. One sister has over 80 copies in constant circulation and uses her spare time collecting and taking them to new readers, and in talking to the interested, who often become purchasers. The selling of books is, however, the better plan generally.