This paper will be sent free to the interested of the Lord's poor, who will send a card yearly requesting it. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat – yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." And you who have it – "Wherefore do you spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently – and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness." – ISAIAH 55:1,2.
ANY ONE, who is a subscriber to the Old Theology Quarterly Tracts, is welcome to send in addresses for sample copies of any one of the tracts he considers the most suitable for his friends. Send as many addresses as you please. Write them upon a separate piece of paper from that of your letter.
The increase of the work makes necessary a removal of our office to more commodious and better lighted quarters at the address given above. We praise the Lord for the increased opportunities for usefulness in his service, which this change seems to imply. Unite with us in rendering thanks, and in the prayer that from the new building
"The light – the radiance from the cross,may shine more and more until perfect day; and that
The depth of love revealing,"
"Still new beauties we may see
And still increasing light."
In view of our removal, and in view also of our need of our type in preparing MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. III., we concluded to omit a TOWER issue for December 15th and to send this January issue a little earlier than the middle of the month, so as not to keep our readers too long in suspense. Instead of the December TOWER we sent to all readers samples of the "OLD THEOLOGY" – a tract-pamphlet issued quarterly at the small sum of 5 cents per year. Subscriptions for Old Theology may be sent in with your TOWER subscriptions. See terms for quantities, etc., on second page of sample tract No. 4. In ordering please state whether you wish your subscription to date back to the beginning, or to start with January 1890.
We want to know, at once, how many postoffice boxes there are in every postoffice in the United States and Canada. How many are there in your post office? With what number do they begin and with what number do they stop? Also, if possible, we would like to know how many are vacant and for rent, and what their numbers are. How many of our readers will serve us and the cause to this extent? It will cost you only a postal card and a little time. Or, if you are sending in your subscription for the TOWER, you can enclose the memoranda on a separate slip of paper.
Beloved readers, it is with hearts full of thankfulness that we acknowledge the divine favors of the year just closed. The Twenty-Third Psalm voices our sentiments. The Lord has graciously continued his gentle leading of his sheep beside still waters and into the fresh green pastures of his truth. Our table he has supplied with viands of grace and knowledge, bountifully, even in the presence of our enemies, who sometimes have been those near and dear to us – enemies to the truth because of the blinding of the great adversary, Satan. And we know from your precious letters received during the year that this, our experience, has been yours.
Now, in the dawn of a new year, we feel that we can apply to ourselves and to all God's consecrated ones the words of the last verse of this Psalm: "Surely goodness and mercy shall attend me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell forever in the house of the Lord." Let us, beloved, not only appreciate the bounties of our "table," but more and more feed upon the precious truth; and let us seek more and more to make use of the strength this food imparts, laboring in Christ's service, that we may become more and more "strong in the Lord and in the power of his might."
One of the most important questions with some who will receive this number of the TOWER is, whether or not they will receive the succeeding issues. To many it may be said to be the only channel of communication between them and the remainder of the household of faith; to very many it is the only channel through which the voice of the Chief Shepherd is heard. And yet, because not urged to subscribe, or because they neglect or put off attending to the matter, many every year are dropped from our lists; and often, may be a year or two after, write us that they are lean of soul and starved for lack of the food it bears from the Master to his friends and household each month. We are most firmly convinced that the TOWER is and has been a chosen vessel in the Lord's hands for dispensing "meat in due season," and we pray and labor that it may so continue to be used. For these reasons, and
We explain the matter thus, fully, that you may rightly appreciate our motives in asking you to attend to the matter at once if you have any interest in the truths which the TOWER presents, that your interest may, by the watering of the Lord through our "broken vessel," increase greatly, to his praise and your profit and to our joy in you, through the Redeemer.
1st. The very low price of the paper – 50 cents per year, – less than one cent a week and less than one-seventh of a cent per day; so that but slight sacrifice, if any, will be required to be made to obtain it by any who have any money whatever at their command.
2nd. We have provided that the cloth-bound one dollar edition of DAWN may be had by subscribers at half price; or, to reverse this proposition, We will give the TOWER one year gratis to any who purchase the cloth DAWN at one dollar. And to introduce the TOWER we shall probably sell future volumes of DAWN only upon these terms.
3d. We have provided – See Terms on first column – that any and all of God's children who by reason of age, or sickness, or accident, or by reason of inability to get employment, or who for any other reason are unable to pay the cost of the paper, may have it free, if they will write at the beginning of each year and state their desire for the paper, but their present inability to pay its cost – a postal card will do. But the card or letter must be from the person desiring the TOWER on these terms.
We want to hear from every one of you at least once a year. It does you good to write to us, and it does us good to hear from you and to judge of your growth in grace, knowledge and love of the Truth. But you must not expect us to answer personally all your good letters. Accept, please, of the articles of the monthly TOWERS as our letters to you, and let your letters be your answers back to us – at least one letter each year, to let us know that our preaching is not in vain in your case.
But let none suppose that all need to be urged to write us of their joy and love and growth, or to renew their subscriptions. Ah! no, thank God! Had it been so we, doubtless, should have become discouraged long ago. We receive every year thousands of letters which we prize more, far, than money or worldly honors; and more than any thing else except the blessings of the Master himself. Some of these from time to time we insert in the TOWER for your general joy, but some of the most precious are laid away carefully at home as precious mementos.
We have not the time to give you the particulars of this branch of the work, or of the Tract Fund work, as we should like to do at the beginning of the new year. We have no high-salaried officers whose sole work it is to keep accounts and make reports. We, on the contrary, are going ahead doing with our might (with the resources at our command) what our hands find to do, (and that is a large work, we assure you, and we cannot nearly do it all,) and we leave to the Lord the bookkeeping, accounting and full reporting. Our Accountant is an all-wise and infallible one. He sees and notes the efforts made by every one of you in his service – the service of the truth. By and by – it will not be very long – he shall render his account of our several stewardships, when he shall render to every man according as his work shall be; for every man's works show his faith and his love, according to his ability. And where there is a will to serve the Lord, there is always some way of showing it. [R1172 : page 2]
Briefly, we may say that while we have been somewhat disappointed that so many readers have failed to appreciate and use the Old Theology Quarterly as a method of service, yet a few others have more than made up for this, and have quite exceeded our hopes in their zeal and service – some subscribing for and using as many as three thousand copies of the tracts each quarter. A hasty examination shows that (stating it in the usual manner of stating tract circulation,) over five millions of pages of Old Theology Tracts went out of our office into general circulation during the past year. And from present indications we would not be surprised if the year 1890 would more than double the output of 1889, large as that has been.
This we know is a question often asked among our friends and enemies. Our terms on DAWNS, tracts, etc., to our readers and to colporteurs, made very public, convince all that we are not selling the truth for gain; and as the work keeps on and on, the wonder increases. Strangers surmise that many wealthy folks are interested in the work; but those intimately acquainted know better, that the Apostle's prediction is fully verified, – that among the interested are not many rich, not many great, not many whom the world esteems wise, but chiefly the poor of this world. – See 1 Cor. 1:26-29 and James 2:5.
We can only answer: The work is the Lord's and the workers are his, wherever they may be laboring in the harvest field. He is caring for and providing for his own work. As for ourselves, we do not live out of the work, nor accept any monetary compensation for our service for the Master and his cause, that our time and effort may be an offering of sweet savor unto the Lord, acceptable to him through Christ Jesus, our Redeemer. We mention this, not as a reproof to any whom God has differently situated, but that the friends may know how this part of the Lord's harvest work is conducted.
While our personal accounts and affairs are kept separate from those of the general work – "The Tract Fund" – yet we thank God that we have nothing of our own; that we left all to follow him; that having given ourselves entirely to him, we were enabled to realize that, if we are wholly his, all that we have and are is his also. Hence, though our personal accounts are kept separate and distinct from the general Tract Fund account, yet both are governed and used under the same general principles, of which care and economy are parts, coupled, we trust, with heaven-directed judgment as to how best and most to reach and bless and set free the true sheep, by so dispensing the harvest message as to lead them out of error's bondage and sectarian slavery into the liberty of the truth, and to let all who have an ear hear the voice of the great Shepherd.
Some have said to us (and many have written the same in substance): "If you ever get short and need a little help, be sure to call on me, and I shall be glad to assist." We thank all such, and realize their good intentions and appreciate them, but we never have asked and never will ask money for the Lord's cause. The nearest we ever came to asking money from any convinced us that such a course is wholly contrary to the Lord's will. That instance was in 1881, when over a million copies of "Food for Thinking Christians" were published and circulated. We then remembered a Brother, who was well-to-do, and who had repeatedly shown a deep interest in the cause, and who had said to us, "Brother R__________, whenever you see something good, something specially calculated to spread the light and needing money, something in which you intend to invest, let me know of it – count me in on all such enterprises;" and we merely laid the matter before him, explaining the plan and the amount of money that could be used, without making any direct request. The Brother gave liberally, yet apparently the offering brought him only a partial blessing. And, perhaps from fear that we would call further opportunities to his notice, and from a lack of full appreciation of our motives in the matter or of the light in which we regarded it (as a favor toward him to let him know of the opportunity), that Brother has gone backward and lost much of his former interest. How much the above circumstance had to do with his decline of interest we know not, but it doubly strengthened and guarded us on a point [R1173 : page 2] on which we were already well settled, namely, that no direct and personal appeals should be made to any in our Lord's name. All the gold and silver is his. He neither begged nor commissioned any to beg for him.
As he increases the supply of the means, we will sow the seed of truth the more bountifully and liberally, and yet economically and judiciously as we know how; and if he withholds the funds, we will still be thankful and seek to make what is supplied go as far as possible, by practicing the more rigid economy; and if the supplies stop entirely, instead of asking man or even asking the Lord for more, we shall be content to stop the work entirely, believing that such a course would thus be indicated to be the Lord's will.
Ah! it is a great mistake, dear friends, to hold on to a money-talent, or any other talent of which we may be possessed, and to say, When I see that my talents are needed, when I see that the Lord's work has been crippled and interrupted for lack of what I have, – then I will give and give liberally, if need be to the last dollar or the last breath. Such a love of the Lord, though far better than many have, is not of the sort our Master will accept and honor as worthy to be of his Bride. Such a spirit analyzed means, I am selfish, I love my plans and schemes in which I find use for every dollar. I do not appreciate the privilege of self-denial, but if God should speak from heaven and demand all, I would promptly give all, or if I found God's plan likely to fail utterly for the lack of what I could give, if it took the last dollar, I would rescue the Lord and his cause from failure.
The proper course is, to realize that God is abundantly able to carry out all his plans without our aid at all; and that instead of our gifts of time and energy and money being necessary to help God along, he is favoring us amazingly, by granting us the privilege of co-working with him in using what little we may have. This is a privilege which all may enjoy. The poor widow and the poor laborer of ever so small income, as well as the more highly favored in this world's goods, should appreciate the privilege of bringing some present to the Lord – something that will testify their love, and show what is in their hearts to do, were they possessed of larger talents and opportunities. The two mites or two cents of the poor widow may cost as great self-denial as ten dollars would cost a mechanic or merchant, or as a thousand dollars would cost a wealthy man, or as a hundred thousand dollars would cost a millionaire. One may deny himself a yacht or a new residence, another may deny himself an extra carriage, or a trip to Europe, another may deny himself an extra suit of clothes or a usual "summer outing," and the widow may deny herself an extra table relish. It is self-denial in either case, and when done for the cause of our Redeemer, it is appreciated by him, not according to the amount but according to the self-denial, which gauges the love as truly in one case as in the other.
Could each one fully realize his present privileges, the conduct of each would declare –
"All for Jesus, all for Jesus,
All my being's ransomed powers,
All my thoughts and words and doings,
All my days, and all my hours."
The consecrated condition voiced by the Apostle is, "For me to live is Christ:" and wherever that sentiment is even partially shared by God's people to-day, there is such a desire to tell of his mighty love, that time, talent, voice, purse and every other thing are valued specially because they enable the adorer to show forth the glories of the Adored One who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.
To such, the one-tenth of all increase, which the Law commanded the Jew to consecrate, and which some Christians observe, would seem an offering far too small to satisfy the demands of their love-inspired zeal. Such must and will do more – not of constraint or command, but to testify to the Redeemer their love and devotion. These will take pleasure in cutting short the time previously spent in the reading of light literature and daily news; they will be less careful and less energetic in pushing business so as to lay up treasure on earth for their children or others to quarrel over and be injured by; they will spend less time in foolishly endeavoring to shine on earth by "putting on style," in dress and home and road equipage. And they will not only thus save moments and hours, and dimes and dollars; but they will use them also, which some forget to do who are adepts at saving.
How shall we spend our savings of time and money? becomes an important question. We answer, if you and all that you have are the Lord's, you are God's steward in this matter, and must consult his will and not your own nor another's will. In other words, you must act up to your own conscience and light in this matter, no matter who or how many offer you advice. You will be advised and urged to give time, influence and money to support great Babylon in some or in many forms – as to assist in employing a worldly, unbelieving choir to displease God by praising and chanting with their lips while their hearts are far from him. ("Unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldst take my covenant in thy mouth? seeing that thou hatest instruction and casteth my words behind thee." – Psalm 50:16,17.) Or perhaps you will be asked to contribute toward the support of a minister who, either ignorantly or stupidly or for money, devotes his time to misrepresenting the character and plan of our God, and thus blinding the very eyes that he should be opening with the eyesalve of truth. Or perhaps you will be urged to give money to assist the Foreign Missions in carrying the bad tidings abroad, or to help Home Missions to teach the Indians of the West and the Negroes of the South, directly or indirectly, the very errors from which, thank God, you have gotten free through the truth – to help put upon others the chains of error from which you have just gained freedom.
Can you spend either time or money in those channels, conscientiously believing that thus spent it will most glorify God? If you have come to a knowledge of the truth, you certainly can do nothing of the sort. Better far to waste the time, and waste or destroy the money, than to use it thus to fetter others with error and to dishonor our God.
If your giving and sacrificing are from the right motives, you will need to be just as conscientious as to how you spend your time, influence and means for God and truth, as you are to economize and save these from self and worldly things. The world and the devil are continually begging. Beware of those who beg in Christ's name. Be suspicious of them. Scrutinize their objects closely. God never begs. The most he ever asks you for is your heart – "My son, give me thy heart." When our hearts are fully his, we begin to urge him more and more to accept our little offerings. And as we become anxious to serve him and intelligently seek how we may best do so, he graciously gives us the privilege by letting us see where and how we may co-work with him in the spread of present truth.
"Gone with our yesterdays; folded apart,
Laid by with the treasures we hide in the heart,
The year that hath left us, so silently shod,
Has carried its records of earth unto God.
How strange was its mingling of bitter and sweet,
Its trials how heavy, its pleasures how fleet;
How often its mercies surprised us, unsought;
How frequent the gifts to our hands, which it brought;
Alas! that we shadowed its glory with sin,
Nor battled its beautiful trophies to win;
And thanks unto Him, who gave pardon and rest,
And wrought for His children whatever was best.
"Cometh in winter the year that is new.
Snow-fall, and frost-rime, and star-beam, and dew,
Shine of the daisies, and blush of the clover,
Rose cup and lily for bees to hang over,
Stir of the wind in the waves of the wheat,
Smile of the violet low at our feet,
Fruitage of orchard, and cluster of vine,
Seed-time and harvest, O man! will be thine,
Once more in this year; for what hath been, shall be,
While the rivers of time seek eternity's sea.
"So, a Happy New Year, to the babe and the mother,
To gentle wee sister, and rosy cheeked brother.
A Happy New Year to the aged, who wait
Till the Lord opens wide the Paradise gate.
A Happy New Year unto those who have learned
How rich are the guerdons which labor has earned.
And a Happy New Year to the weary, who cling
Through sorrow and pain, to the cross of the King.
"Far down thy fair vista, blithe New Year, we see
The sun gleam of the beautiful Sabbath to be;
From far o'er the billows we hear the glad swells
Amid people in darkness, of church-going bells.
God speed the full time when idols shall fall,
And the banner of Jesus wave white over all;
When the nations shall walk in the light of the Lord,
And Eden's lost verdure to earth be restored.
"Dear Christ, by Thy passion, Thy grace and Thy power,
Assist us, uplift us, in each clouded hour,
And still by denial, bestowal, delay,
Whatever is needful, oh, give us, we pray!
The year that is far above rubies shall be
The year of our lives that is closest to Thee.
And precious and sacred our changes shall grow,
If heaven-light o'er them in tenderness glow.
Let the burdens of woe, and the conflicts of care,
Alike be relieved by the breathings of prayer;
And happy, or only resigned, let us raise
Each morning and evening the songs of our praise."
God's law is that righteous arrangement which God's unerring wisdom has established for regulating the affairs of his creatures for their good and his pleasure. God's will is his law, which is as unchangeable as he is all-wise and unchangeable. God's law is, therefore, the only covenant or agreement he ever makes with his creatures. When man was created and placed under favorable conditions in Eden, OBEDIENCE (fullest acquiescence with the perfect will of his Creator) was made the condition of his continued enjoyment of life and all its attendant favors and blessings. This was not a covenant but a condition, because a covenant signifies a contract or agreement between two parties, and we know that Adam could not have been consulted about his own creation or asked to agree to any covenant regarding the continuance of his existence. While it would have been neither kind nor just to have so created Adam that life would have been an injury and a burden, or to have brought him into conditions wherein an eternity of misery might have been risked, it was both kind and just for God to do what he did do, viz., to create him perfect in the midst of Eden's perfections and to give him the privilege of perpetual life and blessing under his Creator's favor upon condition of his full and hearty obedience to his benefactor's wise, just, loving and necessary laws, plans and regulations. Otherwise his communion and fellowship with God, his pleasures in Eden and even life itself, were to be withdrawn from him, as one unworthy of them. And his as yet unborn race, in his loins and represented by him, were involved in that penalty with him, when he knowingly and willingly violated the condition of life.
Since God and his law and regulations, which represent his character, are unchangeable, a careful scrutiny and study of this first transaction between God and man reveals clearly the fact that as God did not prepare Eden and its favors for his enemies, nor even for one who without enmity would refuse or neglect to comply with his perfect, righteous laws, so he need not be expected, either, to prepare the earth as the Paradise of God and to redeem and restore and grant everlasting life to any who, when fully informed, would have a disposition to oppose him or to infract or evade the least of his wise, benevolent and just laws and regulations. In a word, whatever favors God ever has, or shall extend are for his loyal friends; and none of them are for his enemies.
But, while thus clearly noting that the enemies of God are the enemies of his righteous laws and regulations and the friends of God are those who do whatsoever he commands (John 15:14); and while noticing also that his desire toward his friends is that they may have everlasting life in the enjoyment of his fellowship and favor, and his determination and decree toward his enemies is that they shall be cut off from life and from all his favors as mere cumberers of the ground; let us not make the too common mistake of supposing that the friends of righteousness – friends of God – can all be easily recognized now. By no means; under the present reign of Sin and evil the service of Sin brings at least a transient reward of pleasure or gratification, while the service of Truth and Righteousness brings at least a transient pain or reproach. Doubtless many now serve Sin because of its present gratification of inherited weaknesses, who really detest it and would rejoice in righteousness, if they were as favorably circumstanced as Adam was. Such, therefore, are not really the enemies of righteousness and of God.
Many now stand with the open wilful enemies of righteousness and sit in the seat of the scornful, because of ignorance of God's plan and character; because blinded by Satan (2 Cor. 4:4; Psa. 1:1); [R1175 : page 3] and because their ideas of right and wrong are badly warped and twisted, through various false doctrines and theories. We might not always be able to tell which of our fellow-men are friends of righteousness and unwilling sinners, and which the willing ones – which under favorable circumstances would prove to be friends of righteousness, friends of God, and which would prove to be enemies of righteousness, enemies of God. But God, who reads the thoughts and intents of the heart, knoweth well. Yea, he foreknew that there would be such, before he created Adam; and in his wonderful plan, arranged before the foundation of the world, the Lamb slain had a place, and was his provision, – not for those whom he foresaw would, under full light and opportunity, be wilful sinners, enemies of himself and his righteous government, but for those whom he foresaw would, when they would have full opportunity, become his friends, because at heart always willing and preferring righteousness rather than sin. It was for such ultimate "friends" that God provided the sacrifice of his Son, the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, and not for those who shall ultimately prove themselves enemies.
All mankind are enemies or opposers of God and righteousness, so far as their imperfect conduct or works are concerned, though all are not such at heart. Thus Christ died only for his friends (those at heart the friends of righteousness) while in fact those friends were all, more or less, opposing righteousness (unintentional enemies) by reason of the weaknesses and imperfections of their fallen state. Thus seen, two texts seemingly contradictory are in perfect accord: "While we were yet enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son," and "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends – ye are my friends" – whoever will render heart-obedience to God's perfect, righteous law. – Rom. 5:10; John 15:13.
Returning to Adam and his family, outcasts from Eden and from all that it represented of divine favor and communion and the conditionally-promised life everlasting, let us study for a moment their mental attitudes toward God. Were they friends or enemies?
Legally they were all enemies – violators of God's just and good laws, condemned to death therefor by their good and just Creator. But if their wills, their hearts, be examined to see whether they were still wilfully and maliciously opposed to God and righteousness, determinedly wilful opposers, as Satan for instance, we find some of each sort – some who would rejoice in iniquity and feel and act maliciously toward the right, and others who would fain be back again in full fellowship and communion with God, desiring and delighting to do his will and sorrowful for the past.
Everything connected with the narrative in Genesis tends to show that both Adam and Eve were deeply penitent and looked longingly to the Lord for the reconciliation and restoration to his favor hinted at in the statement that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head – crush evil. Seemingly this hope was associated with the birth of each of Eve's sons. Their names seem to indicate this. The name of her first-born son, Cain, in the Hebrew much resembles in meaning the word Eureka – "I have found it" – or I have got the expected one. Abel, the name of the second son, indicates doubt or uncertainty; Cain in the meantime, no doubt, having manifested the evil disposition, afterward so clearly marked in his history. The godly character of Abel seems to have revived her hope, that of her offspring one should arise who would somehow vanquish Satan and evil, and bring back the fellowship and blessing of God; consequently when her third son was born Eve named him Instead (i.e., Seth), for she said, "God hath appointed me another seed INSTEAD of Abel whom Cain slew." (Gen. 4:25.) And, indeed, the hope that she might be the mother of the long promised "seed of the woman" seems to have filled the heart of Eve's daughters through the line of the family of godly Seth, all the way down to and including Mary, our Lord's mother. – Luke 1:41-55.
In Adam and Eve and their first three sons we have a clearly marked showing of the human will, and the fact that God does not give us our wills but that each individual is accountable for his own will; while God only influences our wills to the extent of setting before us certain information, upon which each one's will must decide or act for himself. (Thus God works or operates in us, the church, who have already willed to serve and obey him, by continued unfoldings of his Word and plan, so that we, already right-willed, may continue to will and continue to do his good pleasure, more and more. – Phil. 2:13.) As increasing light shows the propriety of increasing zeal and sacrifice, it also shows with increasing clearness the grandeur of the things which God hath in reservation for them that love him – his "friends, who do whatsoever he commands." We need not question God's power; we know that he could have created man without a will; but he did not do so; he created him in this as well as in some other respects in his own likeness or image – with ability to will for himself. And we have never found a member of the human family fallen so low that he had no will of his own – except idiots, who are clearly not accountable. Even those who are fallen so low that they seem to have no power to control their conduct by their wills, still have the will. "To will is present with me, but how to perform I find not," not only represented the Jew's condition but that of all fallen men. A thief may have the organ of acquisitiveness large and the organ of conscientiousness small and may therefore by reason of this mental unbalance have a predisposition to steal. Yet he has, at least, some conception of the wrong he commits, and he steals with a certain amount of wilfulness or unwillingness. A will in the matter he must have, even though it be so weak (because unsupported by good elements of organization and because opposed by bad elements of organization) that he cannot carry out his will but is continually falling into sins which, when out of the heat of temptation, he may mourn over. Hence, we repeat, there is in every man a will.
That God delights in the freedom of will in all his creatures is evident, also, from the fact that he has given this faculty to them all, even to the very smallest insects. Go to the ant – consider her ways, and see how much will power she evidences. Take a drop of water and examine with a microscope its living creatures; that even they have wills of their own, must be apparent to all. Much more man, made to be God's representative in the earth, and its king, – man has a will, and to it God appeals; and in harmony with its laws and liberties, which he gave it, God and his laws always operate.
While Adam and Eve and their second son Abel, and their third son Seth, developed wills which desired righteousness and reconciliation with God, Cain, their first-born son, developed a will opposed to righteousness; proud and self-willed, he had no desire to submit his will to God's will, and did not aspire to the reconciliation promised to be provided; he, no doubt, regretted the loss of Eden and would have liked to be restored to it, but not upon God's conditions of absolute obedience to God's righteous will and arrangements. He would have loved the reward of obedience and righteousness, but was unwilling to accept the terms; he did not will to be God's friend upon the only conditions God offered, or ever will offer, his friendship and communion. He consequently opened his heart to unbounded ambition and selfishness which brought in envy, hatred and malice, and led him to murder his brother Abel, because his life and his offering, submitted more fully to the will of God, were more acceptable to God than his own. Not [R1175 : page 4] having submitted his own will to God's will and righteous plan, Cain hated his brother, and from envy deliberately planned and executed his murder.
It cannot be claimed that Cain's will was weakened and depraved by heredity, for he was Adam's first-born. He had plenty of will-power, as much as his brother Abel, but he misdirected his will. He willingly copied Satan, while Abel was copying God. Yielding himself to evil, he allowed an evil or sinful will to be begotten in him and then nursed it into a murderous, devilish will or disposition, hating good and loving and doing evil. And so, as those who pattern and conform their wills to God's will are children of God, of Cain it is written that he, willingly copying Satan's disposition, became a son "of that wicked one." – 1 John 3:12.
Likewise, our Lord spoke to some of the malicious Pharisees, whose wills were set in opposition to the truth, who, instead of seeking God's will and way, were Satan-like, seeking their own exaltation and hating the right and the light, saying: "Ye are [children] of your father the devil." So the Apostle once spoke to a similar character, a wilful evil-doer, saying, "O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil; wilt thou not cease to pervert the right way of the Lord?" – Acts 13:10.
Notice now that God has never purposed or promised blessings upon wilful enemies. Eternal life and kingdom favors are not for such. Had all the race been such characters, no redemption and no restitution would have been provided. God foresaw, however, that many (the vast majority, we doubt not) would, after seeing clearly and in some degree experiencing both good and evil, right and wrong, and their respective consequences under God's law, be glad to recognize and serve God and the right – with all their heart, mind, soul and strength; [R1176 : page 4] and to observe the same law in their dealings with their fellow-creatures – loving their neighbors as themselves. It was because God foresaw these would-be friends in the Adamic race that for such he provided redemption and reconciliation through the blood of the crucified one. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his FRIENDS. Ye are my FRIENDS, if ye do whatsoever I command you. – Love one another as I have loved you."
We do not forget that the same great Teacher said, "Love your enemies" and "If thine enemy hunger feed him" – help to keep him alive. This command to us is very different from what God reveals concerning his own plan of procedure toward his wilful enemies, of whom he caused it to be written: – "The enemies of the Lord shall lick the dust;" – shall fall in death – they "shall die;" they "shall be cut off" from life; "all the wicked will he destroy." [He will not feed them and continue their lives everlastingly.] "They shall be punished with an everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints and to be admired by all them that believe in that [Millennial] day." – Psa. 72:9; Ezek. 18:4; Num. 15:31; Psa. 145:20; 2 Thes. 1:9,10.
And his reason for thus giving us a different rule from that which he himself will follow is readily seen. The enmities and oppositions of the present time among men are mostly attributable to mutual weaknesses and imperfections and misunderstandings; and we who are totally incapable of reading and judging the hearts, the underlying motives, the wills of our fellow-men, could not unerringly judge which are the few real enemies of righteousness and which, its many blinded, deceived or only partly informed or over-tempted friends. Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him; he is probably a deceived friend of God and hence of yours. As for the few times when by feeding our starving enemy we should really help perpetuate a being unworthy of life and whom God has declared should be and shall be destroyed, the Lord tells us to leave that to him, that he has not yet made us the representatives and executors of his laws. But he does tell us also that no real enemy of his and ours, no informed and really wilful enemy of righteousness, shall escape just punishment because of our exercise of leniency. He declares, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord." Therefore, dearly beloved "avenge not yourselves" – follow instructions, feed all enemies and trust to the Lord who can and will, in his due time, render "vengeance to his enemies." – Rom. 12:19; Jas. 5:1-6.
And God, indeed, for a time follows the very rule thus laid down for us. He does not now destroy his enemies, but feeds them; sending rain upon the just and upon the unjust and causing the sun to shine upon the evil as well as the good. God waits, as he tells us to do, until his due time arrives, when (during the Millennial age) he shall cause the knowledge of his character, his plan and his laws to be clearly and fully made known to all men. Then the real enemies, the wilful evildoers, shall be manifested; and the multitude of present enemies, through inherited weaknesses, deceptions, and misconceptions, whom he foresees will become his friends, shall be manifested also. Then the "friends," the "sheep," shall enter into life – the second life, the non-ending life; while the "enemies," the "goats," shall be cut off from life – enter into death, the second death, non-ending death; – an "everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord" and from all further opposition to his glory and power. Self-willed Satan, and all his children, all who willingly prefer his course of enmity to God and righteousness, shall go into destruction (symbolized by the lake of fire) "the second death." (Rev. 20:14.) God seeketh not to bend the unwilling, but is pleased to receive and help and restore the willing ones. He does not propose to use his power to chain unwilling devils to his throne, but to open through Christ a way to life by which whosoever wills may come and partake freely. Neither will God destroy the wills of the unwilling and make them mere machines; rather than have such children he could and would, as our Lord declared, create men out of stones. (Matt. 3:9.) No; God "seeketh such to worship him [and to enjoy his favors] as worship him [willingly] in spirit and in truth." All the good things which God hath in reservation are for those who love him. – 1 Cor. 2:9.
For this purpose of proving and manifesting who are the friends of God, "God hath appointed a day [a time – the Millennial day] in the which he will judge [grant a trial to] the world, in righteousness [It will be a just, fair trial, full, complete, final], by that man whom he hath afore ordained – Jesus Christ, the righteous one." He must reign [and judge, and the Church shall reign and judge with him – 1 Cor. 15:25; 2 Tim. 2:12] until he hath put all enemies under his feet" ( – not upon thrones of honor), and until he has liberated all the groaning, travailing and sin-sick creation from the bondage of corruption and death into that freedom from pain, sorrow and dying which is the divine provision for all the sons of God. (Rom. 8:21.) Yea, God's Anointed shall not only reign, but reign in righteousness. He will lay justice to the line and righteousness to the plummet, and the hail shall sweep away the refuge and delusions of lies, and he will stamp out evil and wilful evil-doers forever. (Isa. 28:17.) The God of peace will introduce lasting peace and blessing by crushing Satan and all his wilful children (his wilful followers, who in spite of full knowledge, will, like him and with his spirit, love evil rather than good) under the feet of the Christ – shortly. – Rom. 16:20.
Then, having finished his work, having bought the sheep and having found all of this sheep class of mankind who had all been lost in the wilderness of sin, the Good Shepherd, who knows all his sheep (and who will be known by all of them, when once they clearly and distinctly hear his voice), having destroyed the wolves of sin and the wilful goats, will bring all the sheep safely and happily back to the Eden fold of God, and shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father, that God and his law and his fold may be to such henceforth, forever, their all in all. Thenceforth, there shall be no more pain, nor sorrow, nor sickness, nor dying, nor cause for these; for sin and they that loved sin, and all the former things shall have passed away forever. Thenceforth, all things are new and perfect and right and good.
Having looked at the class whom God desired to restore to his favor, his "friends" (including all those who will ever become his friends, obedient to his righteous regulations), let us look now at the method adopted by divine wisdom for effecting reconciliation or atonement between God and these.
That a number of the patriarchs were quite willing to be reconciled again to God, to be at-one with him and repossess themselves of the blessings of Eden, which he had prepared for those at-one with him, is very evident. It is also evident that God would not and did not permit that full, complete reconciliation; that though he did permit those who longed for his friendship and who desired to know and to do his will, to have a measure of his friendship, what he granted was far from full and complete fellowship. He never restored them either to the comforts or the everlasting-life conditions of Eden. Whatever fellowship was granted came to them as they were given to Adam, as loving provisions. And even the limited fellowship, the limited at-one-ment permitted, was so hedged about with typical sacrifices for sins as to clearly indicate to these would-be-friends of God that they were unclean – unfit to be recognized by God, or to be at-one with him, or to have his favors. To appreciate the reason why God thus held aloof from men, and how full and complete reconciliation has since been accomplished between God and those who are desirous of being at-one with him, and how, ultimately, all the "friends" of God shall be sought and found, and brought to one-ness with him, is to appreciate the philosophy of the plan of Salvation, conceived by God before the foundation of the world, begun at our Redeemer's first advent, and to be completed with the close of his Millennial reign.
Obedience to his Creator is not only the proper and reasonable course for man, but it is the course essential to his happiness; for disobedience is not only sinful ingratitude, but it is injurious to man, who has not the experience and wisdom essential to a proper guidance of his own affairs. God's regulation, therefore, is that his wisdom, his power, his care and his love, must be trusted in implicitly by all; and his will must be the only law, if harmony, peace and blessing to all would prevail. He will have nothing short of this; hence he would not countenance the slightest disobedience on the part of the perfect Adam and would not excuse disobedience. He would, instead, illustrate, to all his intelligent creatures, how imperative and unalterable are his laws, how disastrous and far-reaching are the consequences of disobedience, and how necessary his laws are to the general well-being of all his creatures.
Notwithstanding, therefore, God's loving sympathy for Adam, and his foreknowledge of all the dreadful consequences upon his posterity, God determined to make an example of the sinner and of the natural consequences of sin, and so the penalty of sin went into effect. He cast Adam out from the garden of Eden and all its favors; he no longer treated him as his loved creature and friend but as one who had rebelled; he virtually said, [R1177 : page 4] you have chosen your own path, now walk in it, take the consequences, use your own will and see where it will land you, and how much more joy and liberty you will have than if you had remained under my easy yoke and light burden – my easy requirement of obedience.
Yet, while treating mankind thus, on the lines of justice, God had already planned for the recovery of all such of the human family as would desire to render full obedience to his just laws and arrangements. He could not change his laws to suit the imperfect, fallen, weak condition of such as desired to return to full obedience and favor; he could not accept as perfect that which was far from perfection. To do so would bring confusion into God's kingdom, and for him to recognize sin and affiliate with sinners and in any degree countenance their sins and weaknesses would be to partake of sin and be a partner in it with sinners.
It is asked, Why did God not restore men from death – from sickness, pain and mental and moral imperfection, and from the tomb – and then let them show their harmony and obedience? We answer, that was impossible! It is impossible for God to lie or to deny himself, or his own sentence against sin. (Heb. 6:18; 2 Tim. 2:13.) God's sentence against sin was that "the soul that sinneth, it shall die;" and even God himself could not now change that sentence; hence God could not restore the condemned and dying and dead race and offer them another trial: Adam had been tried and had failed, and the sentence was passed and could never be altered, because God's law, like himself, changes not, forever.
But some will inquire, Did not the death of Adam meet the penalty? and could not God justly have made him alive and perfect again the next moment after life had become extinct – the next moment after the penalty had been fully inflicted? No; you misunderstand the penalty of sin. You seem to think of the matter as though the penalty of sin read, The being who sins shall cease to exist for a moment, or more, as a penalty for his sin: or, The wages of sin is a temporary suspension of existence: or, The body of [R1177 : page 5] the person who sins shall die. But none of these properly represent the penalty, which was that the soul should die – the being should cease to exist. When this penalty is fully studied and realized, it will be seen that utter extinction of being was the penalty, and that a merely temporary suspension of animation would not be a fulfillment of it.
How, then, could any hope of a future and everlasting life be entertained for any? From a human standpoint there was no room for hope, because there could be no room for expecting God to break his word or change his righteous law. But nevertheless, God held out a hope to such as desired and endeavored to return to his favor, though he did not explain the process by which he would recover them, but left that for faith to reason upon. And faith reasoned that if God could not break his word about the penalty, he could not break it with reference to the recovery from it.
Even the shadowy sacrifices and typical services of the Law-Covenant, made with the seed of Abraham, but slightly disclosed what would be God's method of meeting the penalty inflicted upon Adam and his family and canceling it, so far as it would work injury and loss of existence to those of the race whom God loves and calls his "friends" – even all who love righteousness, and God the King of the righteous, and also all who would do so if they fully and clearly understood the truth. We, however, who live since the great Redeemer came and gave his life for "his sheep" [not for the "goats"], and who are of his sheep, are privileged to understand these "mysteries" of Jehovah's plan (Matt. 13:11; John 16:13), so that we may not only fully and clearly comprehend the portion of it already accomplished, viz., the ransom given for the life of Adam and all who lost life through his disobedience, but listening to the great Shepherd's voice, gradually, more and more, the length and breadth and height and depth of that plan are revealed to us; showing us that the results of Christ's obedience to the Father's plan, in the voluntary sacrifice of himself (the man Christ Jesus) as Adam's substitute or ransom-price, will fully and completely offset and cancel the penalty upon Adam and his children.
It merely and only canceled and set aside the penalty upon Adam for that first disobedience; – which penalty, as long as it remained against the race, prohibited their ever returning to perfection and life. Now, they may return to divine fellowship and favor, and thence to perfection and everlasting life, if they can do so.
But men are unable to recover themselves "out of the horrible pit and out of the miry clay" of sin, which has become a great cancer upon the bodies and minds and morals of our race, which, however loathsome and abhorrent to those who long for purity and righteousness, has become a part of our very being and is sapping and drawing the life forces daily and hourly. And these cry out, Oh! wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this corrupt state and set me free so that I might do right and be in harmony with God and have his blessing and favor and gift of everlasting life!
The ransom opened the way for the powerful Mediator to establish the New Covenant with all desirous of reconciliation. Before that sacrifice for Adam's sin was made, God could not enter into covenant relations with those under death-sentence for violating his laws. Nor could Christ as Mediator offer pardon or restore to perfection of life those under divine sentence, without opposing God's perfect law; which he could not and would not do.
As an illustration, Suppose that a bookkeeper in governmental employ had proven dishonest and had been legally sentenced and imprisoned for the offense; and suppose the penalty was one that could be met by the payment of a money fine; suppose that the man had thoroughly repented and reformed and made such restitution as he could for his embezzlements; suppose that a friend of his, a physician, knowing all about the case, should pay the fine and secure his release; suppose, too, that the government officials were willing that he should return to his old position and former salary, but suppose that the man had during his confinement become paralyzed and lost his ability to write and to calculate. All will see that a payment of his fine [his ransom] could not restore him to his former work and pay, if he could not fill the requirements. But if the physician who redeemed him from the condemnation of the law by paying his fine should also be skillful in treating his disease and restoring him to his former condition and thus to his former employ and its wages, the two-fold work of Christ as Redeemer and Restorer would be illustrated in him.
Christ's death as man's ransom sets free from condemnation, fully, entirely; but the effect of sin has paralyzed all mankind, mentally, morally and physically, so that the good that we would we often cannot do. We are, therefore, notwithstanding the ransom, wholly unable to fill the original place in God's service designed for us, and are unable, therefore, to get the wages of righteousness – everlasting life. Mankind must still look to Christ, the Redeemer, and, earnestly desiring it, put themselves under the treatment of this Great Physician for the restoration of all the lost powers. And such as come to him, he will not refuse, but will put them under the strict regimen of the New Covenant, and so long as they continue thereunder he will treat their cases, correcting, instructing, exercising them, etc., until they are fully cured and restored to the lost portion and favors.
Praise God for the all-important work accomplished at the cross, by which the sentence of extinction was lifted from the race! yet it is very evident that since God's law continues the same yesterday, to-day, and forever, and since he still must and does refuse full communion and fellowship with sinners, and since we cannot recover ourselves from the plague of sin, it is very evident, indeed, that some great physician, able to cure our malady and to restore us to mental, moral and physical health and perfection, must be sent to us by our gracious Creator or our case would still be hopeless.
God knew this all along, and so provided that the obedient one who, willingly, for our redemption left the heavenly nature and glory and became a man, that as a man he might give himself a ransom (a corresponding price) for and instead of the first man, the transgressor (1 Tim. 2:6; 1 Cor. 15:21), should be the one who, as the great Physician, Savior and Life-giver, should not only redeem Adam and his children from the sentence and penalty of extinction, but should "save HIS PEOPLE from their sins;" and delivering these, his people, from sin and death, should finally present them perfect, blameless, unreprovable before the Father, fit objects of his love and communion, restored to the divine likeness, in which they will be able, as father Adam was in Eden, to fully comprehend and fully perform all the divine requirements. And in addition to what Adam had, they will have the valuable experiences of the present time, proving to them the love of their Creator and Lord and giving assurance that he and all his laws seek only their permanent blessing and joy.
The hope of the world, then, has a circumference as well as a centre; the centre is the Redemption or Ransom, the circumference the Deliverance, the [R1178 : page 5] Life-giving, the Restitution to the divine favors; and the various provisions and conditions of the New Covenant connect this centre with its circumference as spokes do in a wheel.
Only by following the New Covenant provisions can any of the redeemed reach the grand limits of perfection. Its provisions, however, are ample for the bringing of all the willing ones to a condition, mental, moral and physical, where God can recognize them as worthy of his favor and communion. Those who recognize the sacrifice of Christ as the Ransom-price of the race have it as an assurance of the sincerity of God's promises of deliverance, and as a practical demonstration of his sympathy and love which amounts to a conviction that he will in his own due time do all that he ever promised; – "exceeding abundantly more than we can ask" or at present imagine. – Eph. 3:20.
As the long delay of over 4000 years until the Ransom was given perplexed the Lord's faithful among the Jews, so the long delay of the Great Physician, as the Life-giver, the Restorer, since his giving of the Ransom, since the release from the sentence of extinction (Rom. 4:17-19), has greatly perplexed many of the Lord's faithful ones during the Gospel age. But now, as his due time comes for the further explanation of his plan to his people (Dan. 12:9,10; Luke 12:37), it is all made clear and plain. We now see that the past six thousand years were used in God's plan for the multiplying of the race, sufficient to fill the earth when as a whole it is made a Paradise, fit for perfect men in fellowship with God; and that during this period, long to us as measured by the short measure of present existence, but short to the great Eternal, each generation played its noble or ignoble part and got its lessons and experiences with sin and its consequences, and was laid away in the dust. There they await the coming of the great Deliverer, fully authorized by the satisfaction of the sentence upon us, secured by his own payment of the penalty against us; and fully competent, by reason of his own resurrection and high exaltation to the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4), to "save unto the uttermost" all who will come unto the Father by him. He shall come in power and great dignity, and, opening the prison doors of the tomb, shall call back to being, in orderly succession, the generations of the dead, and offer to each and to all fullest opportunity to demonstrate their willingness to come into full harmony and covenant relationship with God, upon the only conditions which God can or will or ought to make, viz., absolute, prompt and willing obedience to his righteous government, which is wisely instituted for man's eternal happiness.
God's people see, further, that the delay since the payment of the ransom-price has been utilized by God for the call and testing and selecting of a "little flock" of specially zealous and earnest lovers of righteousness; whose testing is specially severe, because accomplished during the period in which error and wrong and sin are permitted to triumph and hold sway in the world; in a time when it costs the sacrifice of much that is convenient and pleasurable. But if called to endure more than will be exacted of the world in general, during the Millennial reign of the great Deliverer, they have also exceeding great and precious promises, of divine favor and honors, far beyond those given to Adam and to be restored to all the willing ones of his posterity.
While the obedient world, in general, will have human life and honors and every earthly good restored to them by the great Mediator of the New Covenant, as the reward of obedience to God's regulations under favorable conditions, the "little flock," selected during the Gospel age, are to have a new nature given to them; they are to be "changed," from human to divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4), and to have correspondingly changed bodies, no longer flesh and blood and bones, but immortal spirit-bodies. Now begotten of God's spirit through his word of promise, they pledge themselves to sacrifice the earthly, human interests, blessings, honors and pleasures (to which they, in common with the lovers of righteousness, friends of God, of the whole world, are heirs according to the New Covenant), that instead they might obtain the still higher favor of joint-heirship with Christ Jesus, the Redeemer, under the Abrahamic Covenant; to be the Seed of blessing, through whom the divine plan of the New Covenant shall be extended to whosoever wills, and shall save all of God's "friends," his "sheep," "his people, from their sins." – Matt. 1:21.
It is important that we should see, clearly, that in God's arrangement for the reconciling to himself of the world, i.e., of such of the world as do or shall, after fuller knowledge of the Lord, earnestly desire a reconciliation, he in no degree compromises the matter of sin; he in no way lifts one particle of the penalty first pronounced against sin. His proposition, first and last, is to "save HIS PEOPLE from their sins," not in them. And it is only "his people" that he will save (deliver, clear, release) from the power and consequences of their sins. While all are released from the condemnation of Adam's sin, each has a varying quantity and variety of sins and imperfections of his own, only partially the results of inherited weaknesses, to be gotten rid of before he can be perfected and fit for the favors and covenant-relationship of Jehovah. This is the work which Christ Jesus now does for his church, the consecrated, and this is the work which, in a little different form, Christ and his church, his Bride, are to do for "whosoever wills" of all the race, during the Millennial age.
The Lord's method in dealing with his Church, the "little flock" of the Gospel age, is as follows: He assures us that if we fully accept of him, first as our Redeemer who bought us with his own precious blood, and secondly, if we desire to avail ourselves of the privileges, thus afforded us, of returning to obedience and harmony and fellowship with God, and to the lasting life and blessings which these conditions secure, he will own us as [R1178 : page 6] friends of God, for whom the New Covenant was made; and that under the conditions of that covenant all such may reckon forgiven all the sins of the past (and all the sins and errors of future days which they may unwillingly commit). And this state of reckoned forgiveness, reckoned purity, reckoned soundness and sinlessness, is termed "justification by faith," because it is not an actual righting and perfecting of the sinner. If he abides in covenant-relationship with God, that is, if he continues to trust in the redeeming blood of Christ, and continues to despise sin and to desire and seek fellowship with God – so long he is reckoned and treated as "justified freely from all things." And if he should ignorantly and unintentionally do a wrong, which knowingly and realizingly he would not have done, his justification continues; such a transgression is not reckoned to be a sin under the favorable conditions of the New Covenant. Even though, under strong temptation, such an one should stumble and commit a sin, yet his heart remain true to the Lord, so that reflection upon the act or word shall cause sorrow and contrite repentance and so far as possible a correction of the wrong – this shall not be treated as a violation and cancellation of his justification under the New Covenant (though he may receive "stripes," "chastisements," for his correction); because his heart, his will, is still loyal toward God, so that he would not have committed the transgression had he been strong and able to resist the temptation. The corrective dealings of the Lord with such will, however, teach them that they must go to him for strength for every weakness, that his strength may be perfectly manifested, even through their weaknesses.
But if the individual should turn from righteousness to love sin, or if he should reject the precious blood (sacrifice) of Christ, by which the New Covenant came into operation, and by which he had once been sanctified (Heb. 6:4-8; 10:26-31), his justification is canceled, he is no longer reckoned justified, perfect, but his sin remains. He is yet in his sins; in the very gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. To such the special favors of God are closed, though with the whole world they share the general bounties – rain, sunshine, food, etc., and perhaps may prosper beyond many of the Lord's "friends," the covenant-keepers, during the present time, while evil is permitted to rule the earth.
We would have it clearly seen that earnest desire after righteousness and reconciliation with God, and the recognition of Christ's ransom-sacrifice as the only way by which this desire can be accomplished, are the only conditions upon which the Lord God will enter into any covenant with the condemned and imperfect children of Adam, now or in the coming age. And the moment these conditions are complied with by any, that moment they are reckoned and treated as though they were perfect and sinless, as the happy objects of divine love and favor, except that they are not released at once from the aches and pains and imperfections which sin brought on them.
But, why are not all such "friends" of righteousness at once released from the encumbrances and penalties of sin? Because divine wisdom (which, as we grow in grace, we are more and more able to appreciate) sees best to test and prove the sincerity of our professed love and promised obedience to his arrangements. Our everlasting fidelity must be assured; it must be demonstrated that our turning to God is more than a fancy, a whim, an experiment on our part. All experimenting must all be done in the present or in the Millennial age, and the real, final, fixed preference of each must be ascertained; whether he chooses righteousness (and thus chooses everlasting life, its reward) or whether he prefers sin (and thus chooses [R1179 : page 6] everlasting destruction, extinction – its reward). Because, God's purpose, as he declares it, is that sin and imperfection shall not be permitted to go beyond the close of the Millennium; that all who do not prefer and rejoice in righteousness shall be cut off; and that sin and its consequences, pain, sorrow and dying, shall never more be permitted to mar the perfect bliss of eternity among any of his creatures. So, then, it is for our everlasting good as well as for the good of all God's creatures that he does not at once actually justify (make perfect) all who profess to accept the New Covenant conditions. The reckoned justification, or justification by faith, answers every purpose best; it permits the return to favor and fellowship and introduces the sin-sick soul to the great Physician and Life-giver, who sees to it that the wounds do not heal merely on the surface to break out afresh, but keeps them open at the surface until they heal thoroughly from the heart outward.
In general, as thus far considered, the New Covenant has the same effects upon the contrite believers of the Gospel age that it will have upon the same class of the coming Millennial age. But now we will notice some differences. During the Millennium, while each one who desires reconciliation and accepts of the Redeemer as the way, the truth, and the life, will thereby come under the conditions of the New Covenant and by faith may instantly realize his justification, his pardon, and his at-one-ment with God, though still actually imperfect (just as the same class now do), he will not, as we do, continue on in imperfection down to the tomb, but will gradually (more or less rapidly, in proportion to his love of righteousness and trust in the Redeemer, who will then also be his King) make progress toward perfection – mentally, morally and physically, until at the close of that age of trial ("judgment") all mankind shall have had fullest knowledge of the wages of sin and of the wages of righteousness, and under fullest opportunity each will have made his choice (as well all who will have fallen into the Adamic death, which Christ's ransom-sacrifice has changed into a limited "sleep," as those who will be awake at the time that reign of righteousness begins); and each one worthy of everlasting life will by that time have attained perfection. Thus, the general perfecting of God's "friends," "his people," Christ's followers or "sheep," will be gradual. This is the general resurrection [raising up] which shall, inch by inch, during Christ's reign, lift up, up, up, out of death and all its imperfections, all whom the Lord, their Judge, shall find worthy of life; so that all that was lost in Adam shall be restored by Christ, the Second Adam – perfection of organism and perfection of life (vitality) and perfection of joy in fellowship with God.
This difference, however, in the method of dealing with them and with us, is not owing to a difference in the operation of the New Covenant, as might at first appear, but to the change of administration – to the fact that the development of another feature of the divine plan makes the change of dealing expedient.
The New Covenant relates not to the method, by which restitution will come to those who come into this covenant-relationship, but to the restoration of harmony or at-one-ment between God and "his people." His people, being degraded in sin, and imperfect, are unfit for at-one-ment with their holy Creator, and the New Covenant is the name of the new arrangement God is willing to enter into with these, through the merit of Christ's death, reckoning them and treating with them as though perfect, until the Great Teacher and Restorer shall have perfected them actually. Then, the New Covenant will be at an end; and there will be no further use for it, since there will no longer be any creature to bring into harmony with God, all then being in a condition of fullest harmony and obedience. And then, too, the special work of Christ as Mediator of the New Covenant will be at an end, for the same reasons. – 1 Cor. 15:25-28.
The Millennial period is the proper time in God's arrangement for the Lord Jesus, as Judge and Law-giver, to try or judge the world, to prove which are worthy of life and to raise them up to it; and to prove which are unworthy, and to cut them off forever in the second death, as unworthy cumberers of the ground. So, then, the offer of the New Covenant conditions and privileges to any is the offer of life everlasting upon God's conditions; it is the offer of a resurrection; for, as we have heretofore shown, the mere awakening of mankind from the sleep of the tomb is not, by a great deal, all that is meant by the word resurrection (Greek, anastasis). The awakening is merely the first or preliminary step which, under the beneficent arrangement of the New Covenant, will furnish opportunity to all to come to a full knowledge of God's love and gracious provision. Then, by coming into willing harmony with the provisions and conditions of the New Covenant, Life, in the full, true sense of the word, may be gradually attained by whosoever wills.
But let us not for one moment lose sight of the one fact, made so prominent in God's Word, that all of God's provisions for future blessing are in and through the terms and conditions of the New Covenant, which contains no hope, or blessing, or provision, for any who love unrighteousness, when they see its character and results fully. Its provisions are all and only for the friends of God, the lovers of righteousness. No provision is made for the everlasting life of wilful sinners, but, as it is written: "He that believeth into the Son hath life [Provision has been made through Christ, whereby all such shall, by resurrection, attain to perfect LIFE. At present, like all other New Covenant favors, this LIFE is possessed by faith and hope only; – it is hid with Christ in God. – Rom. 8:24; Gal. 2:20; Col. 3:3]; but he that disobeyeth the Son [when he and the New Covenant are made fully known – 1 Tim. 2:4; Isa. 11:9; Acts 3:22,23] shall not see LIFE; but the wrath of God abideth on him." – 1 John 3:36.
All that are in their graves shall come forth to consciousness, to a measure of life as at present (which, however, is really a dying condition); but none shall ever see LIFE, in the true, proper, full sense of the term, except upon hearty compliance with all the conditions of the New Covenant. Thus the friends of God, the lovers of righteousness, will be manifested and raised up, while all others shall be cut off in the second death, without ever having really and fully experienced perfect life; – having, however, possessed and understood and wilfully rejected the conditions upon which they might have attained to that life.
"The wrath of God," his condemnation to extinction, will abide or continue upon all who, when fully aware of its blessed provisions, reject the New Covenant conditions of reconciliation with him. As already shown, it was not for such that the Lord provided redemption and salvation; and had divine wisdom, seeing the hearts of men, foreseen that all would reject the New Covenant opportunity for reconciliation, we cannot doubt that no such covenant of salvation would have been provided; on the contrary, infinite wisdom and love would long ago have blotted out the race as a brood of vipers. The New Covenant is the city of refuge to which all who hate their sins and who would escape the avenging sword of justice may flee and be saved from destruction. We who are under its protection can sing of our deliverance, "We have escaped the condemnation that is on the world." Many, very many more, thank God, will similarly escape by coming within the gates of the same covenant – under the influence and control of the great Mediator of that New Covenant who bridged the chasm of condemnation and opened the way into it, at the cost of the sacrifice of himself. But whoever, knowing all, shall refuse and neglect to come under this refuge provided, continues in condemnation still; is still under the wrath of God; still deserves the wages of sin – death, extinction.
We have heretofore shown that the "little flock" of the Gospel age is to constitute the First Resurrection, i.e., the chief or choice resurrection; it is thus designated, because it is to be not only a raising up to perfect life but to perfect life on a higher plane or nature – to the divine instead of the human nature. For the same reason the Apostle Paul calls it the out-resurrection (exanastasis), or the resurrection of the selected-out ones. (See Phil. 3:11.) However, the word first is appropriate also as describing the order; for the resurrection of the "little flock" comes first in order, too. It began with Christ the head – it will be finished at his second advent in the perfecting of "the church, which is his body."
We have seen, too, that in the past ages some valiantly overcame obstacles, and would not compromise their conscience to procure deliverance, that they might obtain a better, more favorable, resurrection. (Heb. 11:35.) And we have seen, too, that the "better" or favorable feature of their resurrection (though they will not have part in the First Resurrection, which will include none but the Bride, the Lamb's wife, whose call and selection did not begin until our Lord came to redeem and to call them) consists in the fact that they will not be obliged to come to perfection slowly, step by step during the Millennial age of trial. Their trial was completed under severely trying conditions; and this is evident, for "they had this testimony, that they pleased God and that God is not ashamed to be called their God." Hence they, like the Gospel age little flock, are counted as having passed from condemnation to death into justification of life. And when God's due time shall come, both of these classes will get the reward of Life – perfect life – instantly; though not in the same instant, because the Gospel church as the body of Christ will have precedence, "God having provided a still better thing [a still [R1180 : page 6] better resurrection] for us, that they without us should not be made perfect." – Heb. 11:40.
They who see clearly how the justified ones of the Gospel age, the "Bride," and the justified ones of the preceding time, [R1180 : page 7] whom the Christ shall "make princes [rulers] in all the earth," are to have each a resurrection to LIFE [the one to spiritual and the other to human perfection], can see, as no others can see, the meaning of the Prophet's words (Dan. 12:2) that some shall awake to everlasting Life and some awake still in the same condition of condemnation, imperfection and shame, in which they fell asleep in death. Some (two small classes) will come forth already acquitted, justified to life; while the many who will come up to perfection, will come during the age of trial and be of the resurrection of trial or resurrection of condemnation. And some – we have every reason to believe they will be few – shall never come up to life at all, shall never escape the condemnation or "wrath," and "shall not see LIFE;" because of wilful, intelligent opposition to God. Such adversaries of God and of righteousness are called the servants [angels] of Satan (Matt. 25:41), the children of the devil (1 John 3:10), and such like names, because they pattern after his character and partake willingly of his spirit. And such shall be destroyed with Satan in the second death, symbolized by the lake of fire. (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:14.) And this their punishment (extinction in second death) is to be an everlasting punishment. There will be no ransom and restitution from the second death, because it will be inflicted only upon the wilfully evil, who first will have had and rejected all the abundant opportunity of reconciliation afforded by the New Covenant. The rewards and punishments at the close of the Millennial age are, both, final and everlasting. The one class the Judge decides to be worthy of life everlasting and the other worthy of death everlasting – extinction. – Matt. 25:46.
So, also, is the statement that there shall be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. The just are those of the Gospel age and of the preceding times who are justified to life and rise perfect, in "the resurrection of the just." The resurrection (raising up, up to perfection) of the unjust should not be understood to mean that unjust persons will reach perfection (for the Lord's words, and the New Covenant's conditions, forbid the thought that any except the just shall ever see LIFE); but should be understood to mean that not only the few, who now through faith and obedience are recognized by God as the just, but others, many others, now unjust, shall have the opportunity of being lifted up to perfection. And, indeed, it might be said, truly, that any who have the means or opportunity of resurrection placed within their grasp, really receive a resurrection.
The Apostle Peter expressed a general truth when he said: "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth him and worketh righteousness is accepted of him." (Acts 10:34.) Of a truth we see, too, that all not of this character described will be rejected. But, as God for a time recognized only Israel, his typically holy people, and left others unrecognized, treating them as strangers and aliens until the Gospel age opened a door of favors to the few who have ears to hear the present call; so there are throughout the world to-day millions whom God regards as his "friends," though he has not yet revealed himself and his plan of salvation, under the New Covenant, to them. These, as yet, are blinded by Satan with false representations of God's character and plan and often deluded as to what is right and what is wrong, and are thus hindered now by weaknesses within and by errors without. They reverence the Creator and ignorantly worship him, and prefer and make some effort for righteousness, as far as they can appreciate it. These all, of every age, among them such noble, shining heathen lights as Aristotle, Plato, Confucius and others, are the "sheep" whom our Lord came to seek and to save; such are the "friends" for whom he laid down his life; such are "his people" whom he came to save from their sins (John 10:16; 15:13,14; Matt. 1:21); though as yet the vast majority know not of the Redeemer or the precious ransom-price he gave or of the gracious conditions of the New Covenant sealed and ratified by his blood.
Nor can even such "friends" ever be saved, ever reach everlasting life, except under the conditions of that New Covenant – faith and obedience. That is God's way and his only way. Therefore, the Millennial age is appointed to be the period in which these who constitute the vast majority of God's "friends" shall be raised to perfection; and it is called the resurrection of the [now] unjustified, because they are as yet unbelievers who have not yet come to a sufficiency of knowledge. How could they become believers without hearing of Christ – without a full, clear understanding of God's character and plan and covenant? And how could such as have fallen into the Adamic sleep come to a knowledge of the truth (Eccl. 9:10) without being awakened? Therefore it is appointed of God that all that are in their graves shall hear the summons of the Son of man and come forth. And the ransom and its precious opportunities for reconciliation shall be testified to all; all shall come to an accurate knowledge of the Truth; the blinded eyes shall be opened and the deaf ears shall be unstopped; "and they that hear [obey] shall LIVE," and the soul that shall not hear [obey] that Teacher shall be cut off from among his people, shall die the second death. – 1 Tim. 2:4,6; Isa. 35:5; John 5:25; Acts 3:23.
The fact that the New Covenant is spoken of as being made only with God's people has confused many; because (1) they have failed to note that God recognizes as "his people" all who fear him and work righteousness, including all who under fuller light than they now have would do so; and because (2) in reading the Old Testament prophecies, which promise the New Covenant, they apply all its promises to the Jews or to the Gospel church, or to both of these exclusively; and failing to see the true lengths and breadths of the expression, "God's people," fail also to see that Israel and its Covenant were largely typical of the New Covenant and the millions on millions, who shall ultimately come unto God under its provisions, more ample than that of the Jewish Covenant, and under its Mediator, more powerful than Moses, and able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him. In order that they may come, all shall be called, "all shall hear his voice." In order that they may come, he "will draw all;" all shall be drawn by the fullest, clearest presentation of the truth. Yet "if any man [thus drawn] draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him;" the soul [being] that will not hear [obey] that Teacher shall be cut off as unworthy of LIFE. But all such as hear and come to an appreciation of the truth and love it and enter a covenant of obedience then, shall sing, with spirit and with the understanding also, as we do now –
"He drew me and I followed on,
Charmed to confess the voice divine."
Hallelujah! What a Savior! And what a grand, glorious, comprehensive and yet exclusive salvation he is working out: comprehensive in that none are debarred from its privileges in any sense or degree; exclusive in that it will exclude all that would tend to mar true joy and pleasure and will admit only such as will possess the mental and moral likeness of God – his people, his children. Verily, God will "call those his people who were not his people, and her beloved who was not beloved." Israel not only represented the beloved, the true Bride, the "little flock," the "royal priesthood," in her typical priesthood, but also represented typically all of God's people as they shall all yet be blessed under the grand antitypical priesthood of Christ and the Gospel church, who not only render "better sacrifices, but by and by shall be established as a kingdom of priests after the order of Melchizedeck. But as the sacrifices for sin under Israel's covenant and by her High Priest were for Israel only, and yet only typical of the true High Priest's mediatorial sacrifice of atonement, for the sins of the whole world, so it is evident that the New Covenant ratified by his blood [death] applies not to Israel only but to all whom Israel represented, viz., all who ever shall become God's covenant people under the New Covenant.
How grievously, then, they err who misunderstand us to teach that the just and the unjust, the holy and the evil disposed, shall be compelled to keep each other's distasteful company throughout eternity. Above we have shown that God's plan is to give eternal life to none but the righteous, but that he has made the most abundant provision, through Christ and the New Covenant, for all to become righteous.
And how foolish and unscriptural is the view of those ("orthodox"?) Christian friends, who, stumbling over the New Covenant, narrowly see only the selection of the present (really only a work preliminary to the coming work of blessing). This leads some on the one hand to so narrow down their ideas of the provisions of the New Covenant that they see only the very few saints of the present time blessed under it, and the masses entirely ignored and not even brought to a knowledge of its provisions that they might accept or reject them. And it leads others to the other extreme, of holding that all the ignorant heathen, and the "so-so" majority of mankind (including all except the foulest murderers, and even such of them as shall breathe a prayer for mercy before they die), will all, though still morally filthy, untaught of God, undisciplined and untried, be hustled together into the society of the Lord, the saints and the holy angels, to constitute the family of God. Surely, sane Christian people who have no love for such companionship now can only picture it for the future from two causes: (1) their false ideas of the divine [R1181 : page 7] plan, which they suppose has provided only heaven or eternal torture for all at the close of the present life, and (2) they are too generous of heart to consign the vast majority, or any but the vilest of the vile, to such a penalty as eternal torment, and would rather spend a portion of eternity in such uncongenial society and trust to improving them, than to think of their agonies. Such generous souls should learn the way of the Lord more perfectly. They should see that their plan of saving the masses is, to say the least, very crude and imperfect. They should see that their view of results would make it appear that the New Covenant is really a compromise with sin on God's part, instead of an arrangement by which sinners might be saved from their sins and brought into harmony with God and to perfection. It would be strange, indeed, if divine wisdom could not devise a better plan.
On the other hand, our views of the divine plan should not be confounded with those of Universalists, which represent God as so unjustly weak and loving that he cannot execute the laws of his kingdom; or so untruthful as to have declared a falsehood, which he never meant to execute, when he said, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." What wonder, if these find no place for the New Covenant and no use for "the blood of the New Covenant," nor for "the Mediator of the Covenant," in their theory touching the World's Hope.
Their hope, built upon the assumed weakness of God's character and his inability to execute the penalty he prescribed against sin, or upon his change of mind, or his deception of mankind in naming a penalty which he never intended to execute against any, is surely a hope built upon a sandy foundation and not upon the rock foundation of the New Covenant, sealed with the precious blood.
Neither should the views we present be confounded with the views of what we might term Irresponsible-Universalism, which claims that man has no responsibility, and merely acts and thinks as acted upon by divine power and providence, which places the responsibility for sin all upon God, and which, consistently with that false premise, holds that a ransom for man's sin, and a New Covenant based upon it, would be but a farce; since, if man is not responsible for sin, he needed no atonement to be made for him, and since God caused the sin, he alone is responsible and is bound by his own justice to release all men from the penalties of sin (which, according to their view, are undeserved) and bring all to everlasting life and joy.
This view is a shamefully weak, unreasonable and unjust one. It is a calumny upon man as well as a blasphemy against the great Creator. It is a calumny upon men in that it represents them as so many living machines without will for evil or for good; which, therefore, no amount of experience could either benefit or injure; and which would be as unworthy of reward for right-doing as undeserving of punishment for evil-doing. It is a blasphemy against God in that it represents him as using his power for evil. Worse than that, it represents him as using his power to produce an unmitigated evil, in bringing sin, pain and death upon a creature which, it claims, was not only not responsible, but by nature incapable of being in any way benefited or exercised by the evil; having no will of his own to be exercised, but being merely a tool, and a toy, in the hands of the Creator. And, still worse, this view would make it appear that, after doing all these great wrongs to man, God had added insult to injury by charging his own sin to the man, and calling man a sinner when he was not; and providing typical sacrifices for sin first and then pretending to love the sinners so as to give his Son to be their Redeemer, making a farce of the death of Christ and keeping up the delusion and deception through the apostles and the Gospel church since, until some of these wise men found out the fraud God was perpetrating, and exposed him – calling the exposition The Spirit of the Word.
The spirit of a very unsound reason, much rather, are such teachings. The spirit of a heart going about to establish [R1181 : page 8] its own uprightness and sinlessness at the expense of slandering the character of the great Creator. The spirit of a man who is seeking hopelessly, vainly, for a firm footing upon his own reasonings, and who has not submitted his reasonings to the divine testimony. We have no use for such a spirit: it is not worthy even to be called the spirit of the world; for that is more true, more noble, more reasonable.
But the weakness of this latter, irrational, "Irresponsible-Universalism" is shown in its claim, that God will save all men, eternally, because his justice demands that his wrong against man shall be righted. The reasoning, here, is on a par with the rest; it is unreasonable nonsense to claim that justice would demand anything or be a moving consideration at all in such a being as this theory would make out God to be. If so unjust as to perpetrate all this wrong for six thousand years, there certainly is no ground for any faith in his justice. If he has lied and deceived in the past, as this theory would imply, there could be no better reason asked for rejecting and disbelieving any and all promises for the future. This theory builds upon the shifting sands of human speculation only (and very poor sand even), and not upon the New Covenant, sealed with the precious blood of Christ.
On the contrary, the view we here present is harmonious; it is consistent with reason and with all that God has revealed of his own character. It recognizes man's responsibility for his own will. It recognizes God's justice and man's guilt. It does not excuse sin but applies God's remedy for its healing. It does not offer to heal wilful sinners, but repentant ones. It does not heal ignorant ones, because of ignorance, nor wiser ones on account of knowledge, but provides that all must come to a clear, full knowledge of the truth, and that then, only such as fully and heartily accept of Christ's atoning work, and make use of it, to obtain access to God, and restoration to harmony with him, and shall prove themselves willingly so, under a trial, shall ever see LIFE in its fulness, or go beyond the Millennial age to enter the portals of that blessed eternity beyond, which God hath provided only for those who love him.
We have heretofore called attention to the great improvement of late years in the climate of Palestine from the increase of rain-falls and the consequent increased productiveness of its soil; and we have remarked that similar and other changes will be in order gradually throughout the earth to fit and prepare it for the Millennial reign of Christ and for the support of the millions of the dead as they shall be gradually awakened, "every man in his own order."
"A paper called The Iron comes forward with the remark that what were supposed to be deserts are rapidly vanishing before the advance of civilization. There was a time when the United States had one of no small size, when it was considered that all the land west of the Missouri River was a barren waste. The farmers of Kansas, Nebraska and Dakota have disposed of much of the great American Desert. Once upon a time large portions of the interior of Africa were believed to be arid and uncultivable. Now we learn that they are fruitful and well populated. The interior of Australia has been held up as an awful example of a howling wilderness, destitute of water and of animal or vegetable life. That illusion is now being rapidly dispelled. Recent explorers report that inner Australia is no Saharan waste, and that, though uninhabited, it can support a large population. There are grassy plains, large lakes, and also traces of gold and precious stones. A north and south railway is now being made through the center of Australia, and doubtless with its completion the last trace of desert will vanish. The iron horse is a wonderful dispeller of illusions of that kind. The truth is that there are vast regions in America, Asia and Australia, which are barren from the standpoint of primitive and ignorant agriculture, but which when taken in hand by the educated farmer of the present day, with his implements, develop into fertile fields and pastures."
And as with the natural changes, so with many of the moral and political reforms also: Many of these are coming in [R1174 : page 8] gradually. It would be a mistake, however, to expect that all would glide in smoothly. The words of the Lord and the apostles and the prophets most clearly indicate that the progress of nature's new birth will be marked by grievous spasms and throes in the old order of things, – cloudbursts, storms, earthquakes, etc., in nature, in politics, in religion, in everything. All the selfish and evil arrangements of the present shall be thoroughly shaken out, so that nothing but good shall remain. – Heb. 12:26-29; Jas. 5:1-8.
"The British Consular Agent at Jaffa, in the last report of the trade of his district, states that a concession for a railway from Jaffa to Jerusalem has been granted by the Sultan to Mr. Joseph Navon, an Ottoman subject, for 71 years. It is stated that a company has been formed in England and France to carry out the scheme, and that the engineers are soon expected to undertake the work. The carriage road between Jaffa and Jerusalem has been greatly improved. The Government sold last year the income from the toll of the road for L.2,085, as compared with L.1,812 the year before last, which shows an increase in the traffic. The Jewish colonies in Palestine are greatly improving; one of them, which is called Richon le Zion, has planted about 2,000,000 vines, and is promising well. The colonists are good laborers, nearly all their land is cultivated. The greater part of them are Turkish subjects, and all are subject to the laws of the country."– Sel.