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.
For the past eleven years, faithfulness to the Lord and his Word and the welfare of his sheep has necessitated an almost constant contention for the ransom, as the very center and foundation principle of true Christian doctrine.
During this time we have seen and faithfully proclaimed that it is upon this point of doctrine that the great test of the close of this age is to come. It is written, "He shall be for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the [nominal] houses of Israel." (Isa. 8:14.) To the Jews, Christ crucified for our redemption was, as Paul testifies, a cause of offence – "They stumbled at that stumbling-stone." (Rom. 9:32,33.) And so also the nominal spiritual Israel is likewise stumbling. Every year, we might almost say every day, gives increasing evidence of this stumbling. Any one whose attention has been drawn to this subject of the present falling away of Christian people from the true foundation of Christianity must observe that, one after another, ministers and religious journals of all denominations and shades of belief are abandoning this foundation. They claim that the death of Christ was either for himself, or as an exemplification of fidelity to principle which would benefit his disciples and the world, not as a sacrifice for their sins, but as an example of how each must save himself – salvation by works, observe, and not by faith in the precious blood of Christ shed for our redemption.
Thank God for the privilege of being traduced and misrepresented by the world and by "false brethren" for the sake of this cause. All have our witness on the subject. We are not surprised at the sweeping strides the error is making. The Scriptures indicate, too, that the great stumbling and falling away from this all-important doctrine is only beginning. Before the sifting ends a thousand will fall to one who will stand. (Psa. 91:7; Eph. 6:11-13.) Christian people generally hold the doctrine of the ransom, but only in a blind way. They have no clear, definite views as to how or what it was. They are all, therefore, very susceptible to this latter-day snare of the Adversary.
As an evidence of the spread of this false doctrine, which, as another gospel, seeks to displace the true, we cite the case of Dr. Lyman Abbott, from whose gifted pen we have heretofore made quotations. It seems that he, too, has denied the faith. The new views are known as the "New Theology," while ours is the Apostolic, or Old Theology.
We clip the following from the Presbyterian Banner, and must compliment its editor upon his courage as a champion of the now waning cause of the cross of Christ, which is yet to the "orthodox" a stumbling-block, and to the worldly-wise foolishness. The Banner article runs as follows: –
"Dr. Lyman Abbott, successor of the late Rev. Henry Ward Beecher in the pastorate of Plymouth church, Brooklyn, and editor of the Christian Union, has for a time been somewhat noted, as a commentator, preacher and editor, for announcing sentiments and doctrines contrary to what are generally held by orthodox evangelical Christians. His most noted departure appeared in an article in the Andover Review, last November, which has been the occasion of a fraternal correspondence between him and his brother, Dr. Edward Abbott, published in the Christian Union, July 3d. The article in the Andover Review was an effort to set forth that the historic interpretation by the Church that the sacrifice of Christ was an atonement for the sins of his people has been an entire mistake; that we are to be saved, not by what Christ did or suffered eighteen hundred years ago, but by the nature of God transmitted to us and entering into us through Christ; and that the main object of Christ's sacrifice is to keep us from committing sin now, not to save us from the guilt and punishment of sin.
"In his correspondence with his brother, in defense of his position, he says: 'The New Testament does not seem to me to afford ground for the opinion that Christ died either to induce God to pardon, or to enable him to pardon.' 'The question is, How can the suffering of the innocent one avail, not to purchase a pardon for the guilty, but to purify and perfect him?' This is simply to set aside the expiatory character of the sufferings and death of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to deny the plain teachings of the Word of God with respect to it. He appears to go even so far as to admit that parts of the Scriptures must be blotted out in order to meet the view he has presented. And he does not shrink from advising this. For he says that his interpretation of the sacrifice of Christ makes it necessary 'to erase a great deal from the New Testament,' and to 'blot out a great deal from the consciousness of the Christian Church,' and he is confident that this should be done. Surely the wildest latitudinarianism could ask nothing more. This robs the Gospel at once of that which the prophets, the apostles and the saints of all ages have most undoubtedly believed, upon which they have most firmly rested, and which Christ himself most certainly taught.
"The reply of Dr. Edward Abbott is conclusive. He calls attention to the fact that Christ said that he laid down his life for his sheep; that Paul and Peter and John had clearly taught the doctrine of the expiation of sin by the death of Christ; and that it has been the belief of the Church from the beginning, 'that in some way an atonement, an expiatory atonement, a vicarious atonement, was operative,' whatever may have been the difference as to its philosophy. He asks these and other equally pertinent questions:
"'Is, or is not, this plainly the doctrine of Scripture, whatever may be our own opinion about it?' 'Has not the substance of this truth been the very fiber of the Church universal?' 'Can it be possible, if there be a holy Spirit, that the Church should have been so deceived and deceiving?' 'Is it safe to erase as much from the New Testament as it is necessary to erase, and to blot out as much from the consciousness of the Christian Church as it is necessary to blot out, before your theory of the blood of Christ can be accepted?'
"The teachings of the Old and New Testaments, in many forms, that Christ gave himself a sacrifice to save us from the guilt and penalty of sin, are the most precious words God has spoken to us. If Christ did not die for us, then are we indeed without God and without hope in the world. No present obedience and righteousness, even if they were possible, as taught by Dr. Lyman Abbott, could by any means remove the sin that previously had separated us from God and brought us under condemnation. Christ 'hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;' 'was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities;' 'was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification;' and 'being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath [R1256 : page 1] through him.' 'There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.' Dr. Lyman Abbott's gospel is 'another gospel, which is not another,' but is a perversion of the Gospel."
Let no one suppose that we take pleasure in the announcement of the falling from the faith of Dr. Abbott, or any other man. On the contrary, it is a source of painful disappointment to us, that such a one should be lost to the cause of the cross, and become an opponent of the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. Nor would the exercise of that loving sympathy which would hide his fall from public notice be proper; for he is more than a brother fallen from grace – he is a teacher exercising an influence which will affect others and cause them to stumble, also. Our love must be exercised first toward God, in fidelity to his Word, and second, toward those still in harmony with God and his truth, to guard them against the erroneous view. Let God be true, though it show every man to be in error. Let God's character and plan be upheld, no matter who must be shown up as proclaimers of another gospel. This is what is signified by the injunction to "contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints."
We are the more disappointed in Dr. Abbott because his influence heretofore has been growingly in harmony with the Truth. And yet, while we can no longer recognize him as a brother in Christ, because he has abandoned the only foundation upon which Christian brotherhood can stand, we can and do recognize his honest, manly statement of his position, and honor him for it. He is too candid to attempt to quibble and to deny the true and only meaning of the words (ransom, etc.) of our Lord and the apostles, and to continue the use of the word ransom as a blind, merely to deceive people and seek to be in favor with all classes. He comes out honestly and plainly and admits that his theory requires him "to erase a great deal from the New Testament."
Because few are so candid as Mr. Abbott, the Truth has the severer battle, and the deception is the greater. During the past ten years, in discussing this subject and combating the error as the snare of the enemy, we have had the underhanded ones to oppose, who use the words ransom and redeem, and yet deny their true and only meaning, in order to deceive some of the sheep. In Mark 10:45 and Matt. 20:28 the Greek term rendered ransom is lutron anti (a price to offset or to correspond), and in 1 Tim. 2:6 it is the same expression reversed, anti-lutron (a corresponding price).
Those who deny that our Lord Jesus gave himself a ransom (a corresponding price, a substitute) for all deny the gospel of Christ and the apostles, whatever else they may believe. And the clearer it is presented, and the sooner they realize it, the better for such as are being blindly led into the error. The sooner the line of division is clearly drawn, the better it will be for the Lord's sheep. It is a good sign, however, of the real loyalty of the deceived ones, that the false shepherds are obliged to use words (ransom, redeem, etc.) which do not represent their views, in order to deceive and to hold the sheep.
We need not expect that such will confess that they are deniers of the ransom any more than we need expect a staunch Romanist to admit that the Papal system is Antichrist. By their doctrines, and not by their professions, both show their real position.
It is time, dearly beloved, that each for himself shall definitely settle this one question which lies at the foundation of Christian faith: Do you accept the Bible teaching that the death of "the man Christ Jesus" was our ransom, or corresponding price, by which a "propitiation" (satisfaction) of the divine law was effected (1 John 2:2; 4:10; 1 Tim. 2:5,6), or do you not believe it? Be honest [R1256 : page 2] with yourself and with others. Be not ashamed of your honest convictions. If honestly in doubt as to God's teaching on the subject and meekly desirous of being shown the path of life, you are of the sort he is ready and willing to lead into the truth. Such may truly and confidently look to God and say, "Thou wilt show me the path of life," remembering the promises, "The meek will he guide in judgment, and the meek will he teach his way." (Psa. 16:11; 25:9.) "All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies." – Psa. 25:10.
It will not answer to say, Yes, of course I believe in Christ as the ransom – and yet indifferently neglect to give consideration and weight to the meaning of the word ransom. You do not believe, in the true sense, anything of which you are wholly ignorant. We exhort all, therefore, to awake to the importance of the subject, so as to study this foundation doctrine of true Christianity.
To acknowledge the Scripture teaching, that the death of the man Christ Jesus was the corresponding price which sufficed to meet and to cancel the first Adam's sin and penalty, is to acknowledge the following clear line of reasoning from the Scriptures: –
(1) When the beloved Son of God left the glory which he had with the Father before the world was, to become our Savior, he was "made flesh," became "a man," "a little lower than the angels," for the very purpose of tasting death for every man, as the ransom or corresponding price for the first man through whom the loss and condemnation had come. (Heb. 2:9.) Since he was the corresponding price, it proves that the man Christ Jesus corresponded exactly with the first man.
(2) It proves then, that the first man was all that God declares that he made him – a man, an earthly being in the image and likeness of his Creator. – Gen. 1:27.
(3) It proves that a fall occurred, from that perfect manhood, into sin and death, as witnessed by the degradation and dying under which the world in general is groaning and travailing to-day, longing for deliverance. This is also witnessed by the grand superiority of "the man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom" or corresponding price; for as he (aside from the special divine power imparted to him at his baptism) corresponded to Adam, it shows how greatly Adam's race has fallen from that real human perfection.
(4) It shows distinctly what is implied in the promise of a restitution or restoration to that which was lost in Adam and redeemed for all in the ransom-sacrifice given by "the man Christ Jesus." – Acts 3:21; Matt. 18:11; 1 Tim. 2:5,6.
(5) It distinguishes clearly between restitution to the world of the lost earthly possessions and those human perfections which the first Adam possessed but lost by sin, and which the Lord took for a time for the purpose of giving himself as man's ransom (Heb. 10:4-10), and the high calling of the Gospel Church to the divine nature, to which our Lord was exalted at his resurrection, because of his obedience to the Father's plan for our redemption.
(6) It shows, too, how the Gospel Church, the Bride of Christ, though belonging to the condemned race and requiring and receiving a share in the ransom, has been invited to share with the Redeemer in sacrifices which shall fully test her love and devotion and fitness, under God's conditions, to share her Lord's nature and glory; and how she can do no needful work, such as her Lord's, in the way of ransoming others, since his work was the full, complete ransom for the one man in whom all had been sentenced, and hence was, as stated, a "ransom for all."
(7) It shows at once the error of the opposing claim of "another gospel," which affirms that our Lord Jesus never gave himself as a corresponding price (a ransom) for all; that death is not a penalty to be ransomed from, but a step of progress in a plan of evolution, by which the divine nature is to be attained by all; that the fall of man is myth – that "if he fell at all he fell upward;" that man never was perfected as man, but that he began to exist in a very crude and imperfect state; that he never had God's image, and could not, therefore, have lost that or any other good quality, nor in any sense have lost himself, and hence needed no corresponding price, no saving from a lost estate, no redemption from a fall, no restitution to an original perfection and image of God.
The ransom may thus be seen to be the very center of the Word and plan of God, and the most thorough test that can be applied to any theory, to prove at once whether it is of God or of men. Whatever is found out of harmony with this foundation principle of the Gospel, preached by Jesus and the Apostles, should be let severely alone. To tamper with that which you perceive to be off the only foundation for faith, laid in God's Word, is dangerous. To allow either yourself or others for you to devise and arrange another plan of salvation than that which God reveals, is to trust to your own or their blind reasonings and to abandon the lines and points which God has marked for our guidance in his revelation. You cannot trust your own reasoning faculties or those of others outside those lines and points which God has furnished. To go outside them is to get lost in a mental maze in which all is speculation and uncertainty, because outside of the fixed lines provided for our restraint by our loving Creator.
The Lord's invitation, "Come, let us reason together," implies that we are to reason with Him, inside these lines which he has erected for our preservation from error, and not that we should abandon his Word to reason for ourselves. And the subject upon which we reason and the lines which must limit our reasonings are indicated in the words which follow the invitation to reason – "Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be white as wool." Here is an acknowledgement of sin, and of a fall, and of a just condemnation. It is also an admission that the sins are scarlet – [R1257 : page 2] of a deep dyed and fast color – that we cannot wash them away ourselves, and that God proposes to cleanse them away for us through the blood of the Lamb slain for our redemption.
The difficulty with Eve was just this which is now to test the Church, the second Eve. (2 Cor. 11:3.) Eve knew the lines which God had placed, she knew the liberty which the gracious Creator had bestowed, and she knew the limit of that liberty – that she must not partake of the forbidden tree; but she chafed under any restriction. The restrictions would probably have been removed in time, but Eve was not submissive to the Lord's plan, and lent an ear to the suggestion of the tempter that she should assert and use her liberty, and not recognize God's superior wisdom and yield willing obedience. As she forsook all the other trees of the garden, so beautiful and so good, to partake of the forbidden one, so now the Church is tempted to forsake all the exceeding great and precious and harmonious truths of God's Word, our garden of delights, and to seek other wisdom which will as surely carry them away from the true gospel as Eve's disobedience led out of Eden.
If our first parents, with perfect reasoning faculties, needed the Lord's direction, because of their inexperience, how much more necessary it is for us, who not only lack experience, but also lack perfection of mental capacity and balance, to stay close to the Word of the Lord and carefully avoid even an attempt to reason outside of its defined lines, or in opposition to its clearly expressed doctrine on this subject of the ransom, which, like a finger-board, distinguishes the way the Lord planned and directs from all other ways.
A passive interest in this question is not sufficient: an active interest is what the importance of the question, fidelity to God's Word and interest in the saints in the trial now in progress demands. This is no time to shirk the question or half-heartedly to watch the battle between truth and error, content to know that you yourself see the truth clearly and favor it in your heart. This is no time to fear to own the cross, lest its growing unpopularity should rupture some earthly ties and bring you the disapprobation of those you have loved and esteemed. It is a time, on the contrary, to be esteemed and used as a precious occasion for showing our dear Redeemer our loyalty to him and his Word, and our willingness, if need be, to break every tender tie, except that which binds us to him. The present is such an emergency as develops strength and courage in the true soldier of the cross, who appreciates the opportunity of enduring scoffs and misrepresentations for Christ's sake.
In the history of the nation of Israel, which typified the Church of Christ, we find that when a battle raged between Israel and those who typified errorists now, those who "went not up to the help of the Lord against the mighty" were cursed or condemned instead of praised and blessed after the victory had been won (Judges 5:23), even though they took no active part in opposition to God's cause. So in the present conflict: those who fail to lift up heart and pen and voice and every talent possessed, on the Lord's side of the question, will not be reckoned among the overcomers who get the victory under the Lord's direction.
Awake! Put on the whole armor of God and follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. – Rev. 14:4. [R1257 : page 2]
This old proverb seems to find illustration in the subject before us. To those who disregard the Bible account of man's origin and destiny, the Bible doctrine of a fall from an original perfection seems less in harmony with existing conditions in comparison with the past than does the theory of evolution, or gradual progression from a very low beginning.
One cause of this seeming discount of truth, to some minds, lies in the fact that though man has been gradually deteriorating from the original perfection, his surrounding conditions have been gradually improving, the gain of experience compensating to some extent for the loss of native ability. Besides, we should remember that we are considering and comparing the achievements of a comparatively few men in earlier times with those of today, which are the results of the combined experiences of millions of men based upon the record of the experiences and experiments of many more millions now dead, all working together in the same general cause – to overcome surrounding obstacles and disadvantages. Thus considered, we see that it is only reasonable to expect what we do find, that circumstances are so much more favorable to-day, that men of small capacity and greatly fallen from the original image of God can, under present advantageous circumstances, accomplish much more than Adam, who had that image, or than any of his more immediate posterity. To contrast properly the individual ability of to-day with that of the remote past, imagine yourself and wife wrecked upon a desert island, out of reach and out of hope of reaching or communicating with others; imagine every article of commerce lost, and your memory of the past, of your own experiences and reading, etc., all blotted out; and then think how long it would probably take you and your wife and children to formulate language, to establish the arts and sciences and to invent telegraphs, railroads and all the machinery of the present day. The strong probabilities are that, instead of thus rising, you would gradually become more and more degraded, and instead of handing down such a race as Adam's your children within two hundred years would be savages. Had God started our race in such a pair, the earth never would have had the civilization of to-day – aside from some direct interposition of providence. And this brings us to –
The effect of the Lord's restraints upon that nation, Israel, are manifest from the fact that in the zenith of their national existence, in the days of David and Solomon, they excelled all other nations. That people shed a light, and by example arrested to a large degree the downward tendency in the surrounding nations. They set them an example in literature, in the Psalms of David and the Proverbs of Solomon, which the poets and wise men of other nations afterward copied but very imperfectly. From the promises made by the Lord to Israel through the prophets, of future blessings, in which peace and plenty and beauty for ashes should fill the earth, sprang the songs and legends among other nations of a coming golden age, which helped to lift their minds from sensuality. And from a promise that this blessing should come through a great deliverer, Messiah, we can trace the ambition of a Cyrus, an Alexander, the Caesars and others to acquire universal dominion, fulfil the prophecy and organize the strong government promised. [R1257 : page 7]
Thus to the light of God's people, and of God's promises to them, is attributable the fact that all the adjacent nations were superior to those farther away from that influence, who were at that time in barbarism and savagery.
And so, too, since the Gospel began, the light of God's promises and the teachings and example of our Lord and his apostles have exerted an influence in favor of purity, enlightenment and freedom, notwithstanding the gross counterfeit (Papacy) which sprang up and usurped the name and influence of the true Church, endeavoring to throttle freedom, and substituting for it superstition, almost choking the light of truth under forms and ceremonies.
Meanwhile God permitted Antichrist to hinder the influence of the doctrines and example of the true Christ and his true followers, and to becloud the true light for a time, ushering in "the dark ages" from which the reformation movements of the past three centuries have only in part released men. This view of the matter, and no other, is in harmony with the Apostle Paul's explanation of how the Gentile nations came to be so degraded as we find them in various quarters of the heathen world. He says it is "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise they became fools.... Wherefore God gave them up....And [R1258 : page 7] even as they did not care to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind to do those things which are improper; being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, etc." (Rom. 1:21,22,25,28-31.) Thus the Apostle sums up the degradation from the image of God, which more or less we see all about us in civilized as well as in heathen lands. And this brings us to – [R1258 : page 8]
The solution of the riddle that is puzzling men to-day – why our day has produced so much more of invention and discovery than the past – is found only in the Bible. It announced the present period of invention over two thousand years ago. (Dan. 12:4.) It pointed out, that far in advance, that with the year A.D. 1799 "The Time of the End" would begin, and that the present "Time of the End" would be the "Day of God's Preparation" (Nahum 2:3) for the incoming Millennium of blessing. It is, therefore, to the fact that God is now lifting the veil of ignorance and letting in the light, which is of him, and not by human evolution, that present progress is attributable. Those who hold to God's version of the fall and the ransom and the restitution may be laughed to scorn now by the worldly-wise and heady, but they will be kept by the power of God – by the power of his truth – from many injurious errors which will stumble thousands on every hand. Abide in him, and let his Word abide in you.
I am looking beyond this abode of strife,
With its burden of tears and sighs,
To the radiant realms of eternal life
Where the summits of glory rise;
Where the fields of Paradise open to view
As humanity's lasting home,
And the higher bliss of a faithful few
Assuredly shall have come.
I am looking away to mansions fair,
Prepared for the bride of the Lamb;
For those who the cross now faithfully bear
Shall soon share the crown and the palm.
O! the rapturous bliss of Bridegroom and bride,
When the long waiting season is o'er,
When hearts so faithful and loyal and tried
Are united to sever no more.
I am looking away, for the day-star brings
Its promise of glory rare –
Till the rose-tipped finger of morning flings
Her banner upon the air.
I heed not the scourge of the tempests breath,
I reck not the surges foam,
For beyond the sad vistas of sin and death
I am looking for home – sweet home!
No subject occupies a more important place in God's Word than the resurrection, except those two other doctrines so closely identified with it – the ransom, which is the basis of all hope in a resurrection, and the second coming of the Lord to establish his kingdom, under which the fruit of the ransom (resurrection) shall be extended to Adam and his race in general. Yet, while these doctrines are given such prominence in the divine plan, how strange it seems that Christian people generally almost ignore these topics which the spirit of God indicates to be of greatest importance. The cause of this neglect lies in the fact that in the period from the third to the sixth centuries the idea of a coming kingdom for the blessing of the world, with Christ and his glorified spiritual church at its head, was dropped and exchanged for the idea that it would be a kingdom composed of the notables of the earthly church in earthly glory and honor, and with one of their number as chief or pope to represent Christ on earth. This thought tended to undermine and make void the apostles' doctrine of glory and blessing and a crown of life to the church at Christ's appearing and kingdom. (1 Pet. 1:5; 2 Tim. 4:8.) And gradually the idea was introduced, which is totally foreign to the Scriptures, that the resurrection is really a matter of no necessity – that the dying saints pass immediately into the fullest of life and glory and blessing, irrespective of Christ's second advent and a resurrection. And surely if this were the case, if fulness of life and blessing can be obtained without a resurrection, the term would represent nothing of value to be hoped for or expected; and the doctrine of the resurrection, like the doctrine of the Lord's coming, would be gradually lost sight of and at last cease to be specially cherished and hoped for. And so we find it.
As we have already seen that the study of the subject of the ransom and of the second coming of the Lord, and the kingdom then to be established and to bless all the families of the earth, reveals much valuable truth that was previously unseen, so the study of the subject of resurrection gives clearer views of the divine plan.
It was not until the year 1881 that our attention was drawn critically to the subject of resurrection; and shortly after, under the same caption as above we presented the subject in the TOWER of June 1882. Further study, aided by increasing light shining from other features of the divine plan, has served to confirm the views there expressed and to amplify them, so that the entire subject of the resurrection is now very clear, and harmonious with itself, as well as with other features of the plan.
We find that while men use the word resurrection in a very general way, the Bible uses the Greek word anastasis, represented by our English word resurrection, in a very particular manner. The common view of the doctrine of resurrection is shown by Webster's definition of the term, as follows: "Resurrection. (1) A rising again; the resumption of vigor. (2) Especially, the rising again from the dead; the resumption of life."
As examples of resurrection, our Lord's notable miracles, in the case of Lazarus, and of the son of the widow of Nain, of Jairus' daughter, etc., are often cited; the idea being that the restoration of any degree of vigor or life to one who has passed into the unconsciousness of [R1259 : page 3] death is a resurrection.
The Scriptural use of the original Greek word anastasis is, however, quite different from this. The Scriptures never speak of the above cases of the awakening of the dead as a resurrection. Anastasis means much more than merely awakening out of death; it signifies to raise again, and this means all that the word restitution means, and all that the word saved means, to the lost and ruined race of Adam. As restitution means full restitution to all that was lost by Adam, and as saved means full salvation from all the penalty and loss incurred under God's sentence by Adam's disobedience, so resurrection (anastasis) signifies a full and complete raising up again to all that was lost; not a partial raising to a part of what was lost, but a full raising again, clear up to the position and condition of perfect manhood, mentally, morally and physically, whence the fall hurled father Adam and all in him – his posterity. This is the blessed fulness implied in the word resurrection as God uses it. Let us rejoice in it hereafter, and use the word resurrection as God uses it. Hereafter let us not speak of such cases as the awakening of Lazarus as resurrection; for Lazarus neither came perfect from the tomb, nor did he from that time begin to progress to perfection. He was merely awakened, as our Lord said: "I go that I may awake him." And when Lazarus died again, that could not be considered his second death, for he never was fully freed from the Adamic death. If one were awakened a dozen times from Adamic death, he would still be in it, and could not die the Second Death (the wages of individual, wilful sin) until some how released from the first or Adamic death-sentence.
Writing particularly on this subject (1 Cor. 15), the Apostle tells us several important things:
(1) That the doctrine of a resurrection is an all-important one, because if there be no resurrection, those who have already fallen asleep in death are perished, and we who are hoping and seeking for a future life are deceived and will be sadly disappointed (verses 18,19); but he assures us that there is the best of ground for faith in God's power and purpose to have a resurrection, and that the resurrection of our Lord Jesus is the proof of this. – Verse 20.
(2) He further declares our Lord to be the first one ever resurrected; thus showing that Lazarus and others were not resurrected in the sense that God uses that word – Christ was "the first-fruits of them that slept." – Verse 20 and Acts 26:23.
(3) Building upon the foundation he had already laid down (chap. 1:18,23,24,30) – that Christ's death as our ransom is the basis of our hope of the resurrection to life, which he thus redeemed for us and for all, the Apostle proceeds to declare (verses 21,22) that as death came as a result of something done by man (Adam) so the resurrection comes as a result of something done by another man ("the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all"); and that as all who were in Adam shared his sentence and as a consequence die, even so, all who are in Christ will be made alive – made to share the blessing which the man Christ Jesus merited, but which he laid down in death on behalf of all those who will obey him when brought to a full knowledge of the truth. – Heb. 5:9.
(4) But even among those made alive in Christ there will be a difference: there will be two orders, or classes, or grades; and all brought to perfection by resurrection, all lifted completely out of death, will belong to one or the other of these orders. They will either belong to the spiritual order of which the "body of Christ" under Jesus its head, represented in Israel's priesthood, is the first-fruits unto God of his creatures (verse 23 and James 1:18), and of which the second company, represented in the Levites, will be the blessed servants or assistants, or else they will come up in the human order to human perfection as members of the great restitution class to be developed during the Lord's presence – during the Millennial reign.
(5) But, says the Apostle (verse 35), some will unthinkingly ask, How can the dead be raised up? Where are their bodies? O thoughtless person, to suppose that the decay of the body to dust could hinder the fulfilment of God's promise! Do you not see that in nature God teaches this very lesson? that though the seed planted does not come up, another seed of the same sort comes forth – a new grain of the same nature as that planted. (Verses 35-37.) And so it will be in the resurrection: it will not be the same body, composed of the same solids and liquids as the one which was buried, but it will be the same being who died that will be resurrected.
(6) Is it asked, What sort of a body will the resurrection body be? We answer, There will be different kinds of resurrection bodies – just as with the different sorts of grain when planted, the new grain which springs up is of the same kind, or nature, as that which is sown; so it will be in the resurrection. What kind of a perfect body one will have in the resurrection depends upon what nature he belongs to. But are not all who died in Adam of the same nature as Adam – human nature? No; the vast majority are, and all were such at one time; but a few, a "little flock," have changed their nature and are human no longer. (These, and the method by which their change of nature was effected, are specially pointed out in the August TOWER.) From the time they consecrated their justified human natures as sacrifices, they were reckoned of God as "new creatures in Christ," "partakers of the divine nature." In the resurrection, God, according to his plan, will give to each one such a body as it hath pleased him to provide – namely, to each kind of seed his own appropriate body. Concerning mankind in general, we know the kind of bodies they will have, for we all have imperfect human bodies now, and can form fairly good conceptions of what will be the grandeur and powers of such bodies when perfected, when fully raised up to the perfection lost in Adam. But of the bodies which God hath prepared for the little flock of his chosen saints, the "royal priesthood," who are to be changed to the divine nature, we can now know but little. We can merely know that they will have divine bodies when they are perfected. And so the Apostle declares, "It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we shall be like Him" who is "the express image of the Father's person."
And this fact is in accord with what we see of God's general plan. If we look beyond the earth we see variety in God's creation, and if we look about us on earth we see great variety in plant and animal life. – Verses 38-41.
(7) We will be specially interested in the resurrection bodies of the saints, because (a) that is the prize for which we are running, and (b) because we have a tolerably clear idea of what a restitution body will be. And while it doth not yet appear what we shall be, I can suggest some contrasts between what we now are and what we shall be then, though it will afford but a meager view. "Thus is * THE RESURRECTION of THE DEAD [the chief resurrection or the resurrection of the chief class, the sacrificing overcomers]. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural [human] body, it is raised a spiritual body." As surely as there are natural, human or earthly bodies, so surely also there is such a thing as a heavenly or spirit body.
In harmony with this is the statement – The first man, Adam, became a living soul (i.e., an animal or earthly being), the last Adam (became – by resurrection) a life-giving spirit. The spiritual, however, was not first, but the natural, afterwards the spiritual, so that the race in general inherited not the divine nature, but the earthly or human nature; hence it is only the few, only such as now experience the change of nature, that in the resurrection or revivifying out of death will have the divine bodies.
(8) If we would think of the two orders of beings, we should consider the change that took place in one of those who became divine and how the change was effected. For "the first man was from the ground, earthly; the second man from heaven." Of the kind or nature of the earthly one, in his highest attainment, will be the kind or nature of all the earthly ones who by resurrection attain fulness of life and perfection; and of the kind or nature attained by the one from heaven is to be the kind and nature of the heavenly ones. Yes, even as we have borne the likeness of the earthly we shall also bear the likeness of the heavenly. We shall be like him and shall see him as he is. And this I say, brethren, because I would have you understand that such a change from human to divine nature and organism is necessary, because flesh and blood [human nature] cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor can we so long as corruptible inherit that incorruptible glory and kingdom promised us. Therefore, such a resurrection, such a perfecting, completing us as divine beings, is absolutely necessary. – Vs. 47-50.
But I will reveal a mystery to you, a point not clearly seen heretofore (verse 51) – We shall not all need to sleep; for when the time for the establishment of God's kingdom has come it will no longer be necessary to wait in the unconscious sleep of death. Yet, though we will not need to wait in sleep, the same change from flesh and blood [the earthly, human nature] [R1259 : page 4] to the divine nature will be as needful to such as to those who are required to sleep and to wait for the kingdom. The change to such will be of the same sort, but instantaneous; the moment of death will be to them the moment of change, [R1260 : page 4] and hence no sleep will intervene. The change will be instantaneous to all these, to those who sleep and to those who shall not sleep, but it will be at the instant of dying to those only who are alive when the Lord is present a second time establishing his kingdom. It will be a full resurrection change, to all of these, a full, complete lifting out of death into perfection and fulness of life – the perfecting in each of the divine nature.
This resurrection to divine existence is the First Resurrection – the chief or most important and most wonderful. It is most wonderful in that it fulfils the most wonderful promises of God – exceeding great and precious promises. It is most important, as well as first in order of time, in that all other promises of restitution or resurrection are dependent upon it – because this resurrection completes the Christ, the "Seed," in and through whom all the families of the earth shall be blessed; because they [the restitution class] without us [the Church of the First Resurrection] shall not be made perfect. – Heb. 11:40.
And be it noted that our Lord Jesus shared in this first resurrection; or rather, this first resurrection is his resurrection, in which we, by the grace of God, are privileged to share. He alone was sinless, he alone gave the legal ransom for man, he trod the winepress alone, and of the people there was none with him; and as a result THE resurrection, to the divine nature, came to him alone as the full reward of service. Our share with him in this chief resurrection (his resurrection) comes indirectly through him; for his work first justified us, and made it possible for us not only to receive this "high-calling," but also to attain it by helping our infirmities and strengthening and encouraging us on the way with grace and help in every time of need.
Thus the Apostle understood the matter and wrote: "That I might know him and the power of his resurrection, [by] being made conformable unto his death," and "attain unto the [chief] resurrection of the dead" (Phil. 3:10,11); and again, "If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him," be with him where he is and behold his glory and be like him, which can be only by the same resurrection change which he experienced. (2 Tim. 2:11; Rom. 6:8.) And again he says, "For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [sharers] in the likeness of his resurrection." – Rom. 6:5.
This "change" or resurrection from flesh to spirit, from human to divine nature, which must come to all who will inherit the Kingdom, will be in a moment, an instantaneous change to each; it will not be a protracted or gradual changing from a little life to an abundant fulness, but in an instant they shall be "like him" and see him as he is. This change will not be at the same instant to all, however. A long period of over eighteen hundred years elapsed between the instantaneous resurrection change of our Lord and the change of those who have slept and waited for the Kingdom to come that they might be changed and granted a share in it. Though possibly the moment of change may be the same for all who slept less, it is not God's plan that those who will be changed without sleep should be changed at the same moment; for it is written, "The dead in Christ shall rise first, then we, the remainder [or ones left over of the same class] appointed unto life, shall be caught away in clouds [into obscurity] to meet the Lord in the air."*
This change, or resurrection, or perfecting, will take place in the end or close of the Gospel age, at or during the sounding of the last trumpet – the seventh trumpet. (Rev. 11:15,18; 1 Thes. 4:16,17.) For the trumpet will sound and THE dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we [of the same order or class who remain] shall be changed. Because that [part of the body of Christ] which is corrupted shall put on incorruption, and that which is now dying shall put on immortality.
And (verses 54,55) when this mortal [or dying part of the "body of Christ" which is not to be changed until the dead members of the same body have first been made incorruptible] shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to fulfilment that saying [prophecy] which is written:
"Death is swallowed up victoriously.
"O death, where is thy victory?
"O death, where is thy sting?"+
Our Lord's resurrection was a step toward this victory: it was the all-important foundation for it. The resurrection change of his Church – the corruptible and mortal to incorruptible and immortal conditions – will be a further step toward the victory over death, but still only preparatory, because when Christ and the Church are glorified, death's dominion will be nearly as extensive as ever, the Church being in all only a "little flock."
The thought of the passage is that after the change of the Church, then the destruction of Adamic death, by the release of all mankind from its control, will begin – the long promised release (Gen. 3:15; Jer. 31:29-34), when the children shall no longer be held in the bondage of Adamic death for their fathers' transgressions, but, released from condemnation under it, may live forever, unless they come individually under sentence again through wilful, individual sin.
And the strength of sin is the law. It was God's law behind sin that determined what should constitute sin and what its sting or penalty should be. But, thank God! while he was just in his law, and while the terrible penalty of that law, the sting of death, was merited by the race, he has graciously arranged for our victory over death and our escape from his just sentence through Christ Jesus, our Lord. [R1260 : page 4]
In the light of the foregoing statement of the true significance of the word resurrection, as indicated by the Greek word anastasis which it translates, we need not stop to show particularly again that by the term general resurrection, we do not mean merely a general awakening of the sleeping billions of earth, but much more; namely, a general bringing of all mankind to perfection of being – to full freedom from the Adamic death penalty and all its hindering weaknesses.
This delivering of men out of Adamic death to full perfection and restitution of being, and into all the rights and privileges lost through Adam, may be done in either one of two ways: namely, (1) by actual restitution to physical, mental and moral perfection of manhood, to full harmony and communion with God and to the actual dominion of the earth and all the lower animals, as Adam possessed all these in the beginning, before sin entered, and then testing each to see whether worthy or not to retain those favors everlastingly; or (2) by granting to each individual a release by faith from Adamic death and condemnation, and a restitution by faith to divine favor and communion, and an actual restitution to all the earthly advantages of Adam, so far and so soon as, by obedience under testing, they shall be found worthy of those blessings. Let us notice carefully and particularly the fact that such a release from Adamic death by faith (through a full knowledge of the ransom that was given and the forgiveness and reconciliation and restitution thus provided for all who will accept these favors) is not only as good and as favorable for men, during their trial, but that it is better and more favorable than would be the actual restitution first and a trial afterward.
Let us suppose it both ways, and note the advantages of God's plan of justifying by faith. Suppose that the hour had come in the divine arrangement for the restitution work to begin. Imagine all the millions of earth changed instantly to perfect human beings – perfect mentally, morally and physically. How strange it would all be: no man would know his neighbor, either by appearance, or by speech, or by manner, or by former weaknesses. Worse yet, few would know their own fathers and mothers, or their own children, for the same reason. Still worse, but few could recognize themselves, for the same reason. And the few who could in any degree appreciate such a radical change would be those few only who in the present life have by faith, to some extent, from communion with God, learned as justified persons to think and will from the perfect standpoint, even though not always able because of inherited weaknesses to do as perfect men. The few overcomers of the past – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and all the holy prophets – can and will as justified ones carry over their identity when instantly perfected as men; and the little flock of overcomers of this Gospel age, for a similar reason (because already living the new resurrection life by faith), will also carry their identity, notwithstanding their great and instantaneous change to the perfection of the divine nature. But these two classes are exceptions to the generality of the race – not only as to their instantaneous resurrections or perfectings, but also as to their experiences in the present life. [R1261 : page 4]
But let us for a moment imagine the resurrection of the billions who have died, coming forth actually perfect in mind and in body. Imagine Nero coming forth perfect – free from his terrible passions, great depravity, love of rapine and cruelty, a pure, simple-hearted, benevolent man. He would neither be known by any, nor would he know himself. Imagine wild, ignorant cannibals, who had never had any but the most debased sentiments and experiences, coming forth with every power of mind and body perfect. Imagine all the billions past and present thus perfected, and then think over the following points carefully:
If such were God's plan, how could the permission of the trouble and sorrowful experiences of the past six thousand years be accounted for? Surely it is only because present woes of earth have served as lessons, as beneficial experiences to prepare men for the future trial, that God has at all permitted them.
Consider, too, that if men were thus perfected instantly, so that present experiences would not be appreciated, they would all be as liable to fail as was Adam, and for the same reason – namely, from lack of experience. The distinction between perfection of being and perfection of experience should ever be kept in mind: Adam had the perfection of being implied in the declaration that he was made in the image of God; but at the time of his trial he had far less experience than his fallen, imperfect sons of to-day. But he knew enough for his trial upon the simple test of obedience applied: he knew that God was his Creator and benefactor who had done everything for him; and he knew, when he wilfully disobeyed, that implicit obedience was his duty.
So, then, if it were God's plan to instantly raise the world of mankind up out of death to full perfection and trial, as Adam enjoyed these before the fall, it would be a very doubtful blessing – with the strong probability that many, if not all, would make some mistake and fall under the just sentence of God's perfect law. Nor would it do to suppose that after being made perfect by an instantaneous anastasis, they might be kept for a time free from trial until they had acquired experience and knowledge; for perfection of being implies responsibility to God's law from the moment it begins.
Thus, too, Adam was not given an uncounted experience with sin, but for his first transgression was sentenced so completely that nothing short of a ransom could release him from his sin and its penalty, death. So it will be with the world of mankind: when perfected by the Mediator, Christ Jesus, his work for them will be at an end – they will then be in the hands of God and subject to that law of his which shows no mercy. For imperfect beings to be exposed to the test of that perfect law would mean failure, sure; and hence, as the Apostle declares, it would be a fearful thing for us if we should reject Christ from being our Mediator and attempt to stand trial before God in the filthy rags of our own righteousness (Isa. 64:6; Heb. 10:31); and for perfect beings lacking in experience to be tried by that same law would be almost as certain of failure.
God's gracious provision in Christ is, however, abundant. His arrangement is that the whole race, having been purchased by our Lord Jesus, shall be fully in his hands: "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son" (John 5:22); and he hath appointed the Millennial day for that work of trial or judgment. (Acts 17:31.) He who redeemed or purchased back Adam and his race from the sentence of death will offer to each one full restitution to all that Adam possessed and lost, upon conditions which even in their fallen condition they will be fully able to accept. Obedience of will or intent shall be the first requirement; and as this is obeyed restitution will commence. As gradually, during the Millennium, imperfection and weakness shall give place to strength and perfection, correspondingly less allowance will be made for transgressions by the Mediator-Judge; his chastisements and corrections proportioned to the ability and wilfulness of the transgressors being meanwhile most valuable experience to those upon trial.
Starting upon the highway of holiness (toward full restitution to the perfection [R1261 : page 5] and all the blessings lost in Adam) at a point corresponding to their present state of imperfection, their own identity and the identity of each other will be maintained, and all the experiences in sin and degradation will be fresh and vivid, and will carry with them the full weight and value, in contrast with the experiences with righteousness in active operation, to which they will then be subjected. The difference at first will be not in the hearts of men, nor in their bodies (except that the sleeping ones will be awakened), but in the outward conditions of men, under the rule of the Kingdom of God. The earthly representatives of that kingdom will be Abraham and the prophets, whose trials are already passed and who will then be perfect men and samples of what all the race may become by hearty obedience to the kingdom and laws then, and for that very purpose, in control. The outward changes of that age will be very distasteful to many. Men will have less liberty than at present – they will have liberty to do right and to do good, but no license whatever to do evil, or to pursue any vocation which would in any degree injure or demoralize others morally, or financially, or physically. Thus (by the binding of Satan) more than one-half of the temptations of the present will be cut off, and only those which belong to the weakness of man's fallen flesh will be upon him. And these, as we have seen, he is to be permitted to outgrow and overcome by the great Mediator's assistance and discipline, and in consequence of having been redeemed by him from the sentence of death, of which those weaknesses are a part. This plan of restoring men and testing them at the same time, and giving them the blessings only as they shall learn to appreciate them, is for man's benefit, that he may then have the fullest knowledge and experience, so as to be fully able to make his choice between sin and its penalty and righteousness and its reward.
From the time men are brought to a clear knowledge of God's plan for their salvation from sin and death, under those favorable conditions, they will be reckoned as having received the gift of God, everlasting life; because from that moment they will have it within their reach and power. If they fail to eat the bread of life thus placed in their hands, they will fail to receive the strength and the life it contains. But none shall refuse it ignorantly – all will have proofs on every hand that actual restitution to full human perfection is possible and in progress; and none will be left to doubt that the sacrifice for sins once offered by the Lamb of God is efficacious for his full restitution, under the arrangement and law of the New Covenant – "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thy self."
Those who, under those favorable conditions, resist and oppose that law will be permitted to enjoy its blessings for a hundred years, restrained of power to injure others; but if by the end of that period (which is four times the period of mature experience of the present time) they have not conformed to the new arrangement so as to make some progress, they will be cut off and die for their own sin – the second death.
Even after a hundred years of such favor, they will be but "children," partly developed; but their wilful rejection of the gift of life, the anastasis, or full raising out of death, tendered them and fully understood by them, is reckoned as the very same to them as though they had gradually progressed toward perfection and had reached it, and then, despising God's goodness, had rebelled against his laws and arrangements, as we are informed some will do. – Rev. 20:10,14,15; 21:8.
"I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people: and there shall not be heard in her, any more, the voice of weeping nor the voice of complaint. There shall no more come thence an infant of few days nor an old man that shall not have the full length of his days; for as a lad shall one die a hundred years old – and as a sinner shall be accursed who (dieth) at a hundred years old." (Isa. 65:19,20. Leeser's translation.) That this refers to the Millennial age and to the restitution or earthly class is further attested by the succeeding verses of the same chapter.
"Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom, also, we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." – Rom. 5:1,2.
In the October issue of the TOWER we took a hasty view of God's great favor, which all the world may enjoy, of justification through Christ. We saw what a blessed, full salvation, full restitution to all that was lost in Adam, is implied in that term justification. And while we do not now experience that justification in the actual restoration to perfection – mental, moral and physical; while we still suffer, from the fall, many weaknesses and sad deformities of character and person, while we are still subject to death and must sooner or later sink under its power; nevertheless, having by faith accepted the promise of actual justification, through Christ, we have peace with God; for we hold in our possession, so to speak, a check on the bank of heaven for full salvation, justification or restitution, payable to the bearer in God's due time – the Millennial age. And, therefore, we reckon ourselves, as God reckons us, justified freely from all things, our shortcomings being no longer imputed to us, being atoned for by the precious blood wherein we trust, and the righteousness of Christ counted to us.
Our sins were laid upon Christ, our Redeemer, and his righteousness is transferred correspondingly to our account. O how we have rejoiced over these checks when by faith we received them and began to realize their import! How often we have opened the blessed book of God and read that check over and over again – "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him [Ah! that includes me, we said] should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16.) Some of us shouted over it, and some of us wept over it tears of joy and gratitude. And for this grace we will never cease to praise God through all eternity.
But now we want to consider this additional favor or grace of which the Apostle speaks, into which, also, we have access by faith in Christ, and in which those who have received it rejoice in hope of the glory of God – this, which some Christians call "the second blessing," but which we regret to say many such but vaguely comprehend. What is it? Can there be anything grander than what we have seen the grace of justification to be? anything more desirable than the pardon of our sins and our reconciliation and peace with God? Can there be anything more desirable than the outcome of this reconciliation in the perfection of every physical, mental and moral power? than a body in the glow of health and beauty of form and feature, forever decked with the bloom of eternal youth? than a mind in full possession of all its powers, and trained, educated and disciplined beyond the range even of all the intellectual prodigies we have ever known? and a moral refinement gloriously reflecting the divine likeness and perfectly acceptable to God? Can there be any desirable grace beyond this and the perfect condition of the glorious earth whose now desert places shall then blossom as the rose?
From a human standpoint it would seem not. Surely this is all the human heart could wish for or aspire to. And when "God shall wipe away all tears, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain," surely all who love righteousness will be satisfied, and, as Isaiah says, "the whole earth shall break forth into singing." (Isa. 14:7.) Praise the Lord! the prospect even now puts a new song into our mouths. But notwithstanding all this we learn that God has provided "some better thing" for the Gospel church. Paul speaks of this when, after recounting the faith and good works of the ancient worthies who lived previous to the Gospel age, and hence previous to the special call of this age, he says, "These all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not [yet] the promise, God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect." – Heb. 11:40.
And it is concerning this that we read the expressions, "favor upon favor" (John 1:16. Diaglott), "exceeding great and precious promises," "the prize of our high calling," "the heavenly calling," etc. This high calling is a call to joint-heirship with Christ as his bride, to be partakers of his divine nature, to share his likeness, and glory, and honor, and to be associated as co-workers together with him in his high office, when, at the appointed time, his Kingdom shall come – even to sit with him in his throne as kings and priests unto God. See Rom. 8:17; 2 Pet. 1:4; 1 John 3:2; Rev. 3:21; 1:6.
The human mind staggers in its endeavor to comprehend such a height of glory; yet those whose hearts are deeply in love with the Lord can appreciate the exceeding favor of the invitation to be the beloved bride of Christ, to be made like him and to be in his glorious presence forever. Amazing grace! and the wonder grows when we reflect upon the high exaltation of Christ, even beyond the glory which he had with the Father before the world was – a glory of person which is "the express image of the Father's person" (Heb. 1:3), a glory of wealth which places the whole universe at his feet as "the Heir of all things" (Heb. 1:2), a glory of power, of "all power in heaven and on earth," a glory of office, too, which is second only to that of Jehovah, the great Emperor of the Universe (1 Cor. 15:27,28), and a glory of character which shines with all the luster of unsullied purity.
To aspire to such a height of glory without invitation would indeed be the height of presumption and folly. But when invited to it, it is our privilege to accept the favor with thanksgiving and humble endeavor to fulfill the conditions of the call. This is the high privilege of the saints of the Gospel age; but strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto it, and few there be that find it. – Matt. 7:14.
Paul shows us that through Christ we have access by faith into this grace, even as through him also we by faith had access to the grace of justification. He also shows that before we have access to this grace we must have received the grace of justification. Then, believing that "faithful is he that hath called us, who also will do it," and fully relying on his grace, we earnestly seek to know and fulfill the conditions. These conditions, those especially who are fully consecrated to God, are anxious to learn. And such have already taken the first steps, at least, in fulfilment of the conditions. We have already accepted thankfully the grace of justification, by faith in Christ our Redeemer; and this gives us a reckoned standing in God's sight. That is, we are henceforth reckoned as holy, as though actually justified, and treated from that standpoint. The Apostle says we are "holy and acceptable to God." (Rom. 12:1.) And being thus justified, holy (through Christ's imputed righteousness), and therefore acceptable to God, he says: "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God [manifested in the grace which justified you], that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice,...which is your reasonable service." (Rom. 12:1.) There is the condition of the high calling, briefly stated – That we present our bodies, our justified humanity, a living sacrifice. And you will remember that this is just what our Lord Jesus did, saying, "A body hast thou prepared me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God." (Heb. 10:5-7.) As he offered his life a sacrifice for sin, so we are invited to sacrifice our life faithfully, unto death, as he did; and in so doing we are counted in with him as part of the sin-offering, though our sacrifice would have no merit whatever of itself, because apart from him we ourselves would be under condemnation. But being first justified by faith in him, we are acceptable sacrifices to God, as the Apostle states. And in this privilege of sacrificing ourselves now consists the special advantage of justification by faith during the present age, rather than in the future.
In fulfilling the condition of the high calling, then, we will be doing just what Jesus did, remembering that he left us an example that we should follow his steps. (1 Pet. 2:21.) Remember, too, the Apostle's words – "If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him; if we suffer, we shall reign with him." "If we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection." – 2 Tim. 2:11,12; Rom. 6:5.
Call to mind now what was the likeness of his resurrection. It was an exceeding high exaltation (Phil. 2:9), far above the human nature, "far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named." (Eph. 1:21.) It was an exaltation even to the divine nature, of which, says Peter, we also, who follow his steps as he set us an example, may become partakers. (2 Pet. 1:4.) To follow in the Lord's steps of humiliation and sacrifice, even unto death, is no light undertaking. It means the giving up of our will for the accomplishment of the divine will. Our sacrifice is not the giving up of our sins: those we fully renounced when we received the grace of justification, before we were acceptable as sacrifices. Our sacrifice must, therefore, consist in our self-denial of those things to which as natural men we have a right. Our first consideration in all that we do must be, What will be most to the glory of God and the advancement of his cause. If we realize that we can glorify God somewhat by one course at slight inconvenience or expense of our own will, and yet more by another course of greater expense [R1262 : page 6] or humiliation, then the latter is the one to which we are committed by our consecration. [R1263 : page 6]
Amidst the noisy clamorings of our old (human) nature, insisting on its own will and way, to some extent, at least, it is often difficult to even discover the right course in view of our consecration. But persistently to silence the old nature, and studiously to search and determine the will of the Lord in all that we do, is the finding of the "narrow way" that leads to life – to that divine life to which the saints of this age are called. "And few there be that find it," says the Lord. How few even of those who made the covenant seem thus to studiously search for the way and humbly to walk in it.
"Oh! 'tis a pathway rough to choose,
A struggle hard to share,
For human pride would still refuse
The nameless trials there.
"But though we know the gate is low
That leads to heavenly bliss,
What higher grace could God bestow
Than such a hope as this?"
There is only one way for any to do who would keep in this narrow way of sacrifice even unto death, and that is what Paul directs, "Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" – "lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith," and considering him, how he endured, lest we be wearied and faint in our minds. (Phil. 3:13; Heb. 12:1-3.) If we keep looking at the things behind, we lose sight of the heavenly things and begin to over-estimate the earthly, and to correspondingly discount the heavenly. In other words, we begin to be conformed to this world. The Apostle says, "Be ye not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed;" let your minds be continually turned heavenward.
However difficult and thorny the path may be, forget not the privilege of walking in it. We may not repine and wish it were otherwise; for he that putteth his hand to the plow, and looketh back, is not fit for the kingdom. (Luke 9:62.) If our Lord had to be so severely tested to prove his worthiness of high exaltation, we should not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try us, as though some strange thing had happened unto us. (1 Pet. 4:12.) We must "endure hardness as good soldiers," and wait patiently for "the glory which shall be revealed in us." And for our encouragement let us bear in mind the exceeding great and precious promises: – "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I overcame and am set down with my Father in his throne;" "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life;" "Fear not, little flock; it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom;" "Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it." Glorious, indeed, will be that second blessing when fully realized; and even now, as by faith the prospect of its inheritance looms up before us, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, reckoning that the sufferings of this present time, for Christ's sake, are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
"I am he that liveth and was dead." – Rev. 1:18.
Here the risen Lord identifies himself with the crucified One; yet how different from the crucified One. Now he is a divine being, while previous to his crucifixion he was human. Yet the identity is clearly established, though it is written that as the heavens are higher than the earth, so is the one higher than the other. (Isa. 55:9.) The Son of God experienced existence in three different natures – first, a very high order of spiritual nature, higher than angels; secondly, the human nature, a little lower than the angels; and thirdly, the divine nature, which is superior to all others. And in the last two of these states, or natures, he clearly affirmed his personal identity from first to last. As a man, he freely spoke of the glory which he had with the Father before the world was. (John 17:5; 8:42,58.) And as a divine being, he tells how he recognizes himself as the same one who was a man, and who as such died, became extinct. The identity, therefore, of the Son of God is clearly stated by himself. And while, therefore, not for a moment doubting it, it may be profitable to inquire, How can this be? for some fail to see how a being could know himself under such radical transformations.
The philosophy of this fact is clearly seen, however, when we remember the statement that man was created in the image of God (which is true also of angels as well as of our Lord before he became a man – all of God's intelligent and responsible creatures are made in God's mental and moral likeness): that is, their mental and moral faculties are facsimiles of the divine nature. The difference, then, between them is in the range and scope of these corresponding faculties: the one is finite, the other is infinite. The range of the human nature is confined to the earth, while the range and scope of the divine is wider than the universe, boundless as space and unlimited as eternity. The divine nature is immortal, incorruptible, and could not become infirm, or die, since of itself it is above all those conditions upon which other natures must depend. All other natures are mortal, corruptible – not that they must of necessity corrupt, or die, but that they could die and would die if God did not continually supply to them the necessary sustenance. Thus the Divine Being holds the reigns of universal government as an Absolute Monarch, having the life and property and every interest of every creature in his hands – under his providence and complete control.
The wonderful favor of a share in this divine nature, originally pertaining only to the Emperor and Lord of the Universe – Jehovah God – was, as we have heretofore seen, granted to our Lord Jesus as a reward for his humiliation and sacrifice for our redemption; and we are assured that it shall also, in due time, be granted to a chosen little flock of redeemed men who follow in his footsteps of sacrifice, even unto death. We also, therefore, if counted worthy, shall, in the resurrection, experience a change similar to that of the Lord at his resurrection. Shall we, therefore, know ourselves and each other? Assuredly, yes! We will recognize in ourselves the same personality – the mental and moral character – that now exists; but these same reasoning faculties will then be able to grapple successfully and promptly with the weightiest, deepest and most intricate problems; these perceptive faculties, now sometimes so dull, but then expanded immeasurably, will quickly take in at a glance all the varied conditions of every creature and all the minutiae of the great work of establishing universal order and peace. And so it will be with all our faculties which constitute us now an image (though greatly marred) of the divine nature – of what we shall be then.
And yet the same will, the same character, now possessed will then be ours; that is, the same aims and ambitions will actuate us then as now. The plan of God, which is now the theme of our constant thought and the motive power of all our efforts, will then also be our theme and motive power. It will be our pleasure and privilege, then, to carry on to completion the great work begun now, in which all the faithful are heartily and zealously engaged. But then we will find ourselves perfectly free and unfettered by any infirmities or adverse circumstances.
What a glorious change! Think you, brethren, that when changed to that glorious likeness of our Lord and Head, with all these present interests of the great work still the absorbing theme of our thought, but with increased ability and power to carry it on, with all these same hopes, ambitions and aims still keen and active, shall we not recognize ourselves and each other? Will your glowing zeal, your confident faith, your ardent love and your present knowledge of truth not be recognizable again? Yea, verily! The personal identity, the character, of each of us will be clearly recognizable both by ourselves and by others.
And the same may be said of every human being, as well as of those changed to the divine nature. The individual character* is that which we call our identity. It is the character of an individual, not his flesh and bones, which we love or hate, and which God loves or hates and counts either worthy or unworthy of continued existence. Flesh and blood is only associated with our ideas of character or personality, just as a coat habitually worn is associated with our mental pictures of a human form. The character of our Heavenly Father and of our Lord Jesus is what we know and love, though we have never seen their glorious bodies under any conditions; and the same may be said of many of our human friends.
It is plain, therefore, that though an individual may die, become extinct, pass out of actual existence, his character still exists in the memory, the mind of God, even the very minutest features of it. And, therefore, when in his own time God creates another body, either of the earthly or of the spiritual nature, and stamps it with all the lines of that character just as it exists in his memory, and awakens it to life, instantly that character, that identity, will recognize itself. And not only so, but it will be recognized again by former friends and acquaintances from whose memory it had not perished. Thus the Lord Jesus recognized himself when his character was transferred from a spiritual body to a body of clay; and again, when he died and his identity was completely lost to himself for three days, it still existed in the memory of God, and as soon as God transferred, from the tablet of his mind to an actual, glorious, divine body, those mental characteristics, our Lord Jesus recognized himself again – with the same ardent love for God, the same devotion to the accomplishment of his great work, the same pitying love for the fallen human race, the same tender love and solicitude for his precious elect ones, every one of whom then living he remembered personally and distinctly. And with all this knowledge of himself and his great work came the glorious realization of "all power in heaven and in earth" for its accomplishment. And so will it be with us, praise the Lord! While we are reckoned dead already, and must sooner or later pass under the dominion of death actually, it matters little; for our life is hid with Christ [as associate members of his body] in God. (Col. 3:3.) The character of man receives impressions from his thoughts and actions like as the wax cylinder of a phonograph receives and preserves an impression from every sound; and the mind of God, the book of his remembrance, is like a great cabinet in which are preserved the exact record of the thoughts and sentiments or characters of all the world (as in the wax cylinders), and from which each character can at his will be reproduced. He keeps the record of every soul that passes out of the present existence until it is reproduced in the resurrection morning. His mind is the great "book of life," in which the names of the consecrated ones are all written in a special list as worthy of lasting life, and from which, if we are faithful, they will not be blotted out. – Rev. 3:5.
And herein we find a good illustration of the difference between Adamic death and the Second death. The Adamic death is well illustrated by the removal and preservation of the wax cylinder, with a view to the reproduction of the thoughts thus preserved. So the dissolution in Adamic death stops the making and expressing of character; but through the ransom God has made provision for, and has promised the preservation of, our characters – and a resurrection or reproduction of them in his due time, in such instruments or cases (bodies) as it pleases him – as the same cylinder can be fitted to any sort of phonograph instrument, of wood, iron or other case. But the Second death is one in which there is no preservation of the character, and from which there will never more be a reproduction – just as when the wax cylinders are done with, all the impressions are obliterated – as though they had not been.
It is plain, therefore, that though in death the human soul loses its own identity, yet never, excepting in the case of those who die the second death, is the identity of a single soul lost to God – blotted out of his book of remembrance. There they all live unto him, though they are actually dead. When the death sentence passed and was executed upon Adam, his identity was not lost to God; for in God's purpose he was redeemed by Christ and must in due time be restored. And when our Lord Jesus died, his identity, his personality or character, which included all his powers, was completely lost to himself, though it was never lost to God, in whose mind every feature of his character was clearly legible; and in due time it was reproduced in a glorious body of the divine nature and "the express image of the Father's person."
The humanity which he took for the suffering of death, and which he accordingly laid down in death, remains, therefore, a sacrifice forever – it was the price laid down for our redemption, and never taken back; but that glorious character, the ego, the identity of the blessed Son of God, "who was before all things," and by whom all things were created, who in loving obedience to the Father's will gave himself as a man for our redemption, still existed in the book of God's remembrance and in due time was reproduced or raised to life again for our justification – not to a human existence again, which was laid down forever as our ransom price, but to a higher nature, through the instrumentality of which he will be able to bring to us [R1264 : page 7] actually all the blessings purchased by his great sacrifice for us. And so he still lives, our great high Priest and King, our adorable Lord Jesus, Jehovah's Anointed; and if we be dead with him, in due time we also shall live with him, as his bride and joint-heir, and shall reign with him who liveth and was dead. Amen; and is alive forevermore.
Some, when they read that the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10), at once get the impression that the word lost signifies doomed to everlasting torment, and that the word save means to secure everlasting bliss, whereas no such thing is even hinted at. To understand what is to be saved or recovered, we must first learn what was lost. For information on this subject we are wholly dependent upon God's revelation. Whatever our father Adam possessed before he sinned, that he and his race do not now possess, has been lost, and that is what the Son of Man came to save or restore.
God's Word informs us that, as originally created, father Adam was a mental and moral image of his Creator. How quickly the race fell from that noble state! How far from this are men to-day! Originally, because pure and good, our father Adam had intimate communion with his God; he was God's son, as well as his image. (Luke 3:38.) So grandly perfect was he in physical constitution that even under the sentence of death he lasted nine hundred and thirty years; and his physical strength but illustrates his mental and moral perfection, which must have corresponded. How great has been the loss experienced by all who in his loins shared his disobedience and its penalty, death! Now, even with the aid of six thousand years of experience in seeking for remedies and panaceas, the average of human life is only about thirty years, while the mental and moral powers are similarly vitiated, though this deterioration is less appreciated because perfection is now a thing unknown, because education has become more general, and especially because the light of the incoming age, which God is letting in, to prepare the way of the Lord, is now elevating men above former conditions. (See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. I., pages 157-167.) How much we have lost none can appreciate, except as we occasionally meet with prodigies whose wonderful powers in one direction or another so far transcend our own as to excite our astonishment. We can scarcely imagine a man possessed of all the wonderful powers and abilities of all these prodigies, nor think how, even then, such would probably be far short of the original capacities of our father Adam, and what might have been our powers had they not been lost.
But, thank God, all that was lost is to be saved. Our Lord Jesus came into the world on this very mission. Carrying out the Father's plan, he became a man for this very purpose and gave his life as our ransom-price; he redeemed, or bought back from the penalty and loss, Adam and all who suffered the loss in him. Thus the arrangement to save the world of mankind is complete; but they are not yet saved. It will be the great work of Christ's Millennial Kingdom to save them. They will be saved by a restitution process, a resurrection (anastasis), or lifting up to the condition and powers and blessings and opportunities lost in Adam.
God had this plan of salvation in mind long before he took the first step toward it in sending his Son to redeem us. He even made known his plan to some extent before he began to execute it. Abraham and the holy prophets were made slightly acquainted with it by his declarations and by the types and illustrations which were given them. Such as believed and proved their faith by acting accordingly were granted a measure of the restoration from the loss, in the privilege of fellowship and communion with God which had been lost; and these were assured that in due time they would have back full life and vigor, mental and physical, and all that was lost, through a great Messiah, who would have all power to bless and to lift them up. This was before the ransom had been actually given. [R1265 : page 7]
Since the ransom has been given (during the Gospel age), God has revealed himself and his plans yet more fully to those who are seeking communion and fellowship with him through obedience. He shows them how broad a foundation he has laid in the ransom of all by the second perfect man, even as all had come under sentence through the first perfect man. (Rom. 5:17-19.) Those who have believed God and accepted of the Messiah, during this age, have not only been granted a restitution of heavenly communion and a realization of joy and peace through faith in the pardon extended to them through the Redeemer, and hopes of full restitution to all that was lost, but they have been granted something more – an additional favor. This additional favor is in the offer that if they will now consecrate themselves fully to the Lord and give up present and future earthly or restitution rights, privileges and blessings, and sacrifice these in his service now, God will give them in exchange for these sacrifices something that will be still grander and higher. Instead of a perfect earthly body with its full measure of perfect powers, which, though very grand are still a little lower than the powers of angels, God proposes to give them a divine nature and body – far superior in power and glory to those of angels. (2 Pet. 1:4; 1 Cor. 6:3.) In a word, if these who have ears (willingness) to hear of God's gracious plan now, and who believe and receive restitution to human perfection by faith, will present themselves as sacrifices in the service of the Lord as his agents and ambassadors, God will reckon these in as Christ's bride, and make this "little flock" joint-heirs with Christ and partakers of his nature and glory and Millennial work and honors. This work is about complete; the last members of the "bride" will soon be fully tested and proved worthy of his love and of the promised blessing; and then all, glorified with and like their Lord, will begin the
All are to be saved, as all were ransomed. "The man Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (1 Tim. 2:5,6.) As this salvation reaches now those who "have an ear to hear," so it will in the Millennial age reach all – for the deaf ears shall be unstopped and the sin-blinded shall see, out of obscurity (Rev. 2:7; Isa. 29:18), the gracious provision God has made for all. And for all to be thus reached by the knowledge, ability and opportunity of salvation is for all to be saved: whether they make a good or a bad use of God's gift after it has reached them is another matter.
This salvation from what was lost is a gift from God through Christ Jesus, our Lord. We do not merit it, and could not demand or secure it for ourselves in any way: it is a loving gift in the fullest sense. But whether or not men shall everlastingly retain and enjoy the things saved depends on the men and not on God, he having arranged that all who receive his gift shall be tested. Those who delight to do his will may keep the gift forever, but those who then sin wilfully shall lose it just as father Adam lost it. But such will be more culpable than Adam, because of more intimate acquaintance with God's justice and love, gained during their experience with sin and during their recovery from it. Thus a blessing, a recovery of what was lost (Adam's perfections and opportunities), comes to all, but God's gift of everlasting life through Jesus Christ, our Lord, is only to those who obey him. – John 3:36; Heb. 5:9; Jude 5.
In every case where the second death is represented as being inflicted, whether in symbols, parables or literal statements, there is something associated which shows that the persons mentioned as condemned to the second death have been saved from the condemnation of Adamic sin and death and have had a full opportunity for life everlasting, and that they lose it a second time only by their own known and wilful disobedience to God.
No, none; because none are perfect, and under God's law no imperfect being is fit to have the boon of lasting life. Our only hope of lasting life, then, is to be made perfect. When made perfect all will depend on our worthiness; that is, when perfect we will be on the same footing as father Adam – permitted to live so long as we remain in harmony with our Creator's wise and good laws and regulations.
But now we are not only imperfect, and hence unworthy of life everlasting, but still worse, we have no hope of ever being able to make ourselves perfect and worthy; for our tendency is in the opposite direction – toward greater imperfection of mind and body. We find ourselves under a sentence of death and subject to a weakness which started in our father Adam. What must men do to be saved – from this degradation and weakness and death which is upon us? We can do nothing except to look to God and trust that his mercy and love can find a way to help us.
Looking, we find that our just Creator, who sentenced us, is pitiful toward us – disposed to help us – that while he could not justly ignore and pass over and forgive the violation of his law under which we were sentenced, he could do and has done what amounts to the same so far as we are concerned – he has paid our penalty for us, through his Son, our Lord Jesus, who gladly carried out the gracious plan and has himself been highly exalted as a reward for that obedience and loving sacrifice, which was our ransom-price.
What remains for us to do is to accept the gracious offer of forgiveness through our Redeemer, and to put ourselves heartily into his hands for repairs – for restitution back to the original condition lost through Adam. This is necessary; for while it was necessary that the original sin should be canceled first, its cancellation would still leave us weak, imperfect and unworthy of life everlasting. Hence God's gracious plan not only includes the death of Christ as the ransom, or corresponding price, or substitute, for Adam and his race, to relieve us from the sentence of death against Adam and all who were in his loins, but it does more: it has made a provision for restoring the race through the same one who paid the ransom price. And as our Lord's death is an assurance that our ransom price is paid, so his resurrection is God's pledge that the opportunity for restitution will be extended to all, even as the ransom was for all.
All this is done for men while wholly unworthy – it is a free gift of God. Their part is simply to accept the forgiveness through Christ by faith, and to show their appreciation of the opportunity for restitution which it affords by obedient conformity, so far as they are able, to the laws and arrangements of the Lord through the Mediator, designed for their perfecting.
After this perfecting shall be accomplished (or when upon full knowledge it is refused) the individual must thereafter stand in his own merit – in his own righteousness presented to him through Christ's work for and in him, or must fall under condemnation into the second death because of his lack of worthiness of lasting life; and his worthiness of lasting life or of lasting death will be then decided by his obedience or disobedience.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – Truly the Lord blesses me greatly in my work, not indicated so much in the number of DAWNS sold and delivered as in the great number of comments which even go ahead of my arrival while I canvass between those towns I visit. I deliver one or two discourses of 1¼ hours each, every Sunday; never failing to have a full house of deeply interested hearers. These flock around me at the close of each service with scores of proper questions suggested by the sermon. Brief answers to these are listened to by other honest inquirers. At the close of the evening discourse the remark is often made that it answered many questions suggested by that of the morning.
The deep interest is also manifested by the fact that a goodly number walk miles from one appointment to the next in the adjoining district. Others volunteer to go with carriage, taking me to and from appointments, and many seem to vie with each other in hearty invitations to accompany them to their homes to share their hospitality – many more than I can accept. It is very cheering to notice how quickly and effectually the cobwebs of tradition and musty creeds disappear when the present truth is presented. I sell a goodly number of MILLENNIAL DAWNS in connection with each appointment. From it appropriate selections are made for singing.
As must be expected, a would-be numerous opposition is apparent; yet it is shy and lacks all the boldness of righteousness. Last Sunday I was politely invited by a "Drew theologian," the M.E. minister in charge here, to his parsonage studio, where were congregated a council of "shepherds" of different "flocks" who were intent upon devising ways and means to crush "this man and his book," which were scattering their flocks from their folds, doing more to disintegrate and lead away than they all had the power to resist. They had concluded that something must be done and were willing to unite to oppose the "common enemy." They wanted to advise and warn as to my doctrine and my book.
I inquired, "Have you read the book?" "No." "Have you heard the man preach?" "No." Then in turn, gentlemen, let me advise and admonish you first to read the book carefully, then hear the man candidly, then bear the truth thus obtained to your congregations. They will see the light and follow; but failing to do this, you will but blow smoke and dust into the eyes of those saying to you, "Help us to see." Should you tell them the man and the book teach Adventism or Universalism they will quickly tell you they know better. The M.E. minister suggested his unwillingness to have the book in his library. Both the eyes and ears of each were resolutely closed.
Yet how blessed the sight of scores of honest, truth-hungry seekers in every neighborhood gladly grasping the "white bread of heaven," borne to them from the Master's table. How surely, as soon as they get the light, they will refuse to be led by their blind leaders.
At the close of my last discourse a tall, fine looking young man, chorister and leader in the singing, came to me and inquired what I called the doctrine I preached. I replied that it was the doctrine of the restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began – that I knew no other and wanted no other name. Well, said he, in the hearing of many who were listening, "They may call it what they please, it is just my belief. I have never heard my doctrine so clearly and fully expressed before." He wanted both volumes of the DAWN. How plenteous the harvest! How few the laborers! Yours in the blessed service,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I am glad you invited your readers to write to you, else I should have hesitated to do so. I can not begin to tell you what joy and comfort I have found in reading the DAWN and WATCH TOWER. I have been a member of the Methodist church for more than twenty years, but long before I read your works it seemed to me to be not so much a house of prayer as a temple of fashion.
My precious boy, whom I buried last year, saw these things and held aloof from the church, and he took sick and died out of the church – he whom I had dedicated to God in baptism and prayed for all his life. He was nineteen years of age. According to my own belief as a Methodist, I must think him unsaved, though I could not believe it; for a better, more God-fearing if not God-loving boy I never saw. But I could not harmonize Methodist faith and God's providence, his promises and my awful loss. Of myself I could have found no solution of the mystery. In speaking to the pastor about it, he said, "Sister, you know what the terms of salvation are."
I will not attempt to tell you of the consolation I have found in reading your works. Before I read them, after my son's death, I could not pray; I tried, but words froze on my lips. But, thanks to you and the dear Lord, I see light through the cloud, and my soul is filled with joy while I sing:
"What if the clouds do, for a moment,
Hide the blue sky where morn appears?
Soon the glad sun of promise given
Rises to shine a thousand years."
But I have written upon the very subject I thought I would not attempt, lest my letter be too long. You need not take the trouble to reply, as I shall find it in the DAWN and in the TOWER. I am anxious for the next volume and wait impatiently for every number of the TOWER.
I close, subscribing myself your sister in Christ, in hope of a glorious resurrection and a reunion with loved and buried ones, through Him who hath loved us and given Himself a ransom for us.
As I anticipated, I find plenty of opportunity for serving the truth in Canada. The harvest is plentiful, and so is the ground for sowing. In the short time we have been here we have sold nearly 500 DAWNS, and there seem to be many that are ripe and ready for the sickle of truth.
The last TOWER has been read and much appreciated, as usual, though I have not had opportunity to read it as carefully as I desire to do yet. With love in Christ, your brother,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – Yours of 20th inst. to hand, and contents read, as usual, with great pleasure, and I trust with profit. I thank you very much for the tracts and papers. Although I never know, in many cases, what effect the distribution of such literature has upon the minds and hearts of the recipients, and in fact whether they are all even read, yet I have seen enough to convince me that there can be no more efficient way to preach the truth.
These messengers of truth appeal to the individual when all alone, and he has time to think, and when, perhaps, he is less combative. Many, I am satisfied, believe, and, like Nicodemus, "are afraid of the Jews." I encounter some who, while they are unable to overcome these Bible facts, are yet proud and conceited, and will not believe though they be convinced.
May God bless you and yours. Yours in Christian bonds,
DEAR BROTHER: – Enclosed please find $5.00, which I believe will cover expenses for the DAWNS and envelopes of the enclosed order, and also for sending the WATCH TOWER to my brother__________in China, for the ensuing year. Anything over and above these expenses, retain for God's work in your hands.
I have been much blessed in reading the article on the history of the development of the present truth in the May number, and I do praise God for your faithful word of warning at the close, that a pure heart and single eye to the glory of God is the only safeguard against false doctrine. I see around me here the danger of being carried away in seeking more knowledge of these blessed truths before being truly sanctified to God by a complete surrender at the foot of the cross. Truly, "knowledge puffeth up," if it is not based on the love of God as an actual heart experience.
We started a little meeting last Lord's Day in a laundry here, for those who love these blessed truths. It was a humble gathering, but the Lord blessed us. I pray that his spirit may be present in power with us as we meet from time to time. Pray for us.
I am very much pleased with Leeser's translation, and have got some blessed thoughts and helps from it. Specially do I appreciate the rendering of Isaiah 53, bringing out so clearly as it does how our Lord has borne our sicknesses, and how, through his substitutionary sufferings in this line, healing is granted to us.
Yours in the Lord,
MY DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I have not written you sooner because I really had nothing to write. My life has been so uneventful of late, and so full of physical suffering, that I am nearly lost to life and its busy scenes. In another sense, however, my dear brother, I have been feasting upon the fat things of a better life, and my soul rejoices in the promises of God. For whereas I was once blind, now I see, and whereas I was once a bond-slave, now I rejoice in the liberty of the gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. O what a glorious liberty it is! What a blessed privilege to be the servant of Christ.
When I get able I too expect to do some work for Christ, but so far I have had a hard battle to fight, and am not settled yet. How I would like to see you all and join you in anthems of praise to "him who hath redeemed us." I often think of you and the delightful meetings at your house.
I want two of your Hymn Books, and for the balance of the within money send me all the No. 2 Tracts you can. I am entirely out of them. Wishing you and Sister Russell, and all our dear brethren and sisters in Allegheny, all God's good and perfect gifts, I am most sincerely yours,
VERY DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – Yours of the 18th inst. duly received. In reply I would say that I feel very humble, yet blessed, at the inspiring thought of being privileged to thrust the sickle into the great harvest-field of England. May I receive the merciful assistance of the Master, and the prayers of all the brethren.
Enclosed you will find L15, or 75 dollars, for which please send five hundred DAWNS, Vol. I., and a complete outfit. Shall be glad to receive the Arp slips and memoranda and some Tracts, especially the one treating on the wages of sin. Please forward the books at once.
I have a great field before me, and a great work to do; but am overwhelmed with gratitude at thought of being permitted to engage in the great work. I feel my weakness; but the consolation of being convinced that I am called to the work is a guaranty that I shall be divinely sustained; and of this I had some experience at Henderson, N. C., in opposition to both lay and clerical influence of that town, which I take it was but a small drilling school to prepare me for my future work. Am blessed with the precious consolation that the foundation of the Master's work is laid there, and an impression made that will never be effaced. To God be all the glory. Amen! Yours in love, and in the Master's cause,
READERS WILL PLEASE NOTICE that this issue constitutes Number 12 of Vol. XI. The next issue will be an Extra, so that Vol. XII. can begin with the new year. As we intend using printed address slips hereafter, we are revising our lists now, and desire to hear at once from all whose subscriptions expire with this volume or year – whether they desire to renew or to have their paper stopped. The same notice applies to all who, because of infirmities, etc., are in the habit of receiving the TOWER free as the Lord's poor. ALL such are expected to notify us now if they desire our visits for the coming year. See terms on first page, and remember that the interested ones, too poor to pay, are supplied as willingly as any. Attend to this at once, please.
PLEASE DO NOT ask us for credit on Bibles and other books. We have not the means to grant such requests, much as we love and would like to accommodate you all. The small credit allowed to MILLENNIAL DAWN colporteurs is an exception to this rule.