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.
It is astonishing with what rapidity matters are shaping themselves for the great time of trouble predicted in the Scriptures. When, some fourteen years ago, we presented the Scriptural declaration that the Millennium of peace and blessing would be introduced by forty years of trouble, beginning slightly in 1874 and increasing until social chaos should prevail in 1914 – few believed, some scoffed; for the whole cry then was Peace! Arbitration! Harmony! – hoped for through increasing intelligence.
Gradually the storm-clouds have been gathering since 1874 – so gradually that many have failed to notice the great changes of public sentiment already accomplished. Yet many are now waking up, and the inquiry is heard, "Where will matters end if present conditions continue?" Ah! the answer to this query can be given from no earthly source. The Word of God is the only revelation of what lies behind the vail of futurity. It declares trouble, more general and greater than the earth has ever yet known (Dan. 12:1); that troubles financial, political and religious will fill the earth with distress; that there will be no hire for man nor hire for beast, nor any peace to him that goeth out or to him that cometh in, because every man's hand shall be against his neighbor. (Zech. 8:10.) Yet this is not all; for in connection with these changes, necessary to prepare for the Millennium Kingdom, will come some physical changes to the earth, incidental to its preparation for increased fertility and for rest from storms and cyclones, that it may be more suitable for the race in the "times of restitution."
The irregularity of the seasons begins to show even to infidels that it is altogether within the power of the Creator, when he is ready, to make it warmer at the poles and cooler at the equator. And these irregularities in turn show, by their effect upon the crops of the world, how even a slight change may bring about a general scarcity of food. And when the increasingly general dissatisfaction of mankind under present plenty and prosperity is considered, it is not difficult to see what is likely to be the general sentiment should a real shortage of the necessities of life compel economy.
Discontent is the general malady of the world to-day. Selfishness is harassing the vitals of society, in its every class. The rich are generally grasping for more millions; the comfortably fixed are anxious to be wealthy; the poor and the mechanics are grasping for "rights" and for "hours" and for "more pay." All are having beginnings of trouble already in the strikes, lockouts, etc., and all are finally coming to see that the Peace! Peace! cry is a delusion, and that more trouble instead of less lies ahead of them. Every day seems to spring some new complication. Almost every day's dispatches in the daily press for the past year have brought fresh news of strikes or riots; sometimes near, sometimes far off. It is one time a strike of the London police or letter carriers, again a riot among German miners or Belgian workers, again it is a mutiny among English soldiers; and at home it is a never-ending record of railroad, mining, iron and other labor strikes.
The only safe place for God's children is as far as possible out of all the strife. Remember the statement of the Bible, "Godliness with contentment is great gain," and lay in a large stock of both. These two qualities will serve to separate you and your aims from the worldly and their aims, ambitions and greeds. Rather be willing to be classed as "old fogy" and "lacking ambition," and to earn a humbler living with godliness and contentment and the great gain of peace of heart, communion with the Lord and some more time to spend in his service, doing good unto all as you have opportunity – especially to the household of faith.
Look at the list below and choose which you will have as your experience. You cannot mix them: an attempt to do so will only discomfort yourself and others. Choose the second list and endeavor to shape your course accordingly.
|Ambition for self:||Ambition for God:|
|Hatred, Strife,||Love, Joy, Peace,|
|Bitterness of soul.||Fellowship with God.|
The Lord says to all, even to those who are not saints: "Seek righteousness, seek meekness; it may be that ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger." Leave, in general, most of your grievances and wrongs for the Lord to make right. Trust in the Lord and do good, and verily thou shalt be fed and generally blessed. – Psa. 37:3.
As evidence that those who have long been prophesying Peace and Arbitration! and a gradual moulding over of public opinion in harmony with justice and love are coming to see that the masses have no real conception of justice and love, and cannot think cooly and candidly and unselfishly on both sides of any question where their interests are at stake, note the following from a recent article by Mr. Hugh O. Pentecost. After reviewing the situation as he sees it, he says: –
"What the outcome will be no man can prophesy. Economic education may be so rapid that needful modifications will be made, or stupid indifference may lull the mass of the people into a carelessness that will be punished by complete industrial servitude – a mighty plutocracy living in unparalleled splendor, with millions of human drudges providing them with whatever their vitiated tastes may demand; or an increase of the power and impudence of the capitalists may lash an awakened and outraged people into fury that will express itself in bloody and dreadful war.
"Will there be any considerable change in the situation by which the next generation will benefit? I believe there will. I think the industrial system will not last fifty years longer. It will be peacefully improved or violently overthrown to give place to a better. That our civilization, like some civilizations of the past, will be utterly destroyed is not probable. What changes come are likely to be improvements, and some great accomplishment for the social betterment of men will probably occur within the next fifty years. The only question is whether the improvement will come through evolution or revolution. Through evolution, I hope; through revolution, I fear."
One fault to be found with this statement of the situation is, that while it no doubt honestly expresses its author's convictions, it is only a one-sided statement of the case. True, the light of this nineteenth century has introduced the labor-saving machinery which is so greatly to bless the world in the Millennium, and which has a tendency to compete so with labor that, if permitted, it would crowd the artisan to the wall; and it therefore justifies the combination of labor to preserve itself and secure to itself some of the increased advantages and blessings. But it is not true that this state of things has in any sense come about by combinations of capital for the purpose of oppressing labor.
An unbiased view of the matter shows us (1), that the present situation has come about without intention or premeditation on the part of either capital or labor; (2), that the increase of skill and machinery among muscle-workers or mechanics has been under the lead and guidance of brain-workers, and that without these brain-workers there would, humanly speaking, be no such general increase of intelligence and improvement of condition in society as we see to-day. And since brains are the channel through which these blessings of God have been sent, and since in brains as in muscles selfishness predominates above love, it is not surprising that brain, while dispensing the increased blessings, took to itself the larger share. And in a general way men recognize this law. The coal-wheelers require less intelligence and ability than the coal-diggers, and in proportion as the latter class must have and use more intelligence, in that proportion they are considered as deserving better pay than muscle only, because unskilled labor is more plentiful. The fireman on a railroad has less responsibility and requires less skill and experience, or brain development, than the engineer, and hence, though he may perform more muscular exertion, he receives, justly, less pay. We say justly, because growth in skill and competency tend to the general good, and should, therefore, be encouraged by due reward. If a laborer received the same pay as a skilled brain-worker or a brain and muscle worker, many would be without ambition to improvement and excellence. And all men require some such stimulus. Without it the race as a whole would continually sink lower and lower into ignorance and sin and lack of self-control.
On this principle the railroad engineer receives more compensation than his assistant, the fireman; and the civil engineer capable of surveying the best route for the building of that railroad is and should be much better paid than the laborer who grades the road; and the one competent to oversee the construction, though he may not spike a single rail, is justly paid more than the man who does the spiking, because he exercises a rarer [R1244 : page 1] sagacity which is worth more to his fellowmen. And so it goes on up to the top. The men who have risen from being newsboys or from other humble positions in society to be millionaires and the heads of great works, railroads, etc. (and there are several such here and in all large cities), must have had a mental balance and acumen superior to that of the majority. And instead of jumping to the conclusion that they must have acquired their wealth by fraud, we should rejoice that there are men of so great ability; even though society may deem it necessary to enact some laws to prevent so great wealth and such keen intellects from taking any unjust advantage of those who have not those rarer talents.
Surely such men are a great blessing in some respects, even though without wholesome restraint they might become oppressors and a general evil. What would any great city be without some such men? It is the brain power of such men, their grasp of the needs of the country and their ability to manage men and money wisely and profitably to all concerned, that has in so short a time turned a wilderness into a vast workshop and girdled the earth with railroads, and that in this and a thousand other ways have blessed and are yet blessing us all with conveniences of every sort.
Nor is this a new thing. The world has always had such a class who rise to the top of society and influence just as naturally as cream rises to the top of milk. Mix it over and over again as you may, the distinct quality is there and as soon as circumstances favor it will naturally rise to the top again. What society should desire is not to destroy the cream class, but to keep the cream class stirred in among the milk class of society, among the people and of the people, and to prevent the collection of the cream element as a separate class – a "plutocracy," as Mr. Pentecost calls it. The reason that millionaires are more common to-day than ever is, that we are living in the most favorable age for all classes to improve. Not only are there more whose annual income can be rated at a million, but there is a still larger increase of the number whose income is a thousand dollars a year and still many more whose income is five hundred. The millionaire class has increased much less rapidly than other grades and classes, and we are glad of it.
But does some one suggest that in the present enlightened day the brainy people who have the financiering and managing ability should make no use of their own superior genius that would specially benefit themselves, but should use it for the common benefit of their fellow creatures, and either accept no salary or at most the same pay as a laborer or a machinist? This would be very generous, very self-sacrificing, surely. But if there were just such men do we not all know that mankind would not believe them, but would traduce them as hypocrites and claim that they were secretly taking some advantage? In this men judge others by themselves; and knowing themselves to be too selfish for such a course they could not believe it of others.
Nor is there any reason for expecting such a course of any. Those who ask it are not sharing with their less skilled and less paid neighbors their overplus each week. They are wholly selfish and envious, though they may not realize it; for while grasping every dollar and hour they can get for the reward of their own skill, they would selfishly ask others to unselfishly share the reward of their genius with them. Can it not be seen by all that as an increase of reward is necessary to inspire the apprentice to skill and care to become a mechanic, so some stimulus is necessary for the brain-workers and managers of the world, else great railroads and mills would not be built to the same extent as now, and matters would settle into a rut from which no other class is capable of lifting them? Hence, so long as society is as it is, this dream element of society must not be injured, but merely kept stirred up for the common good of all. And, consequently, while legislation may be good for the purpose of preventing Trusts and Combinations inimical to the general welfare, it would be a great mistake to enact laws which would tend to destroy ambition and competition for wealth. Rather let that ambition operate to stimulate general progress and general improvement, and to cultivate in the same class a greater spirit of generosity to endow Colleges, build Public Libraries, found and endow Asylums and Homes and donate Public Parks, that thus they may have the ambition to carry on great works and enterprises with the desire to use the profits of their energy and genius for the public benefit.
These good results might be reached by the enactment of a law, that at his death no man could dispose of more than a million dollars worth of money and property; that whatever he possessed in excess of that amount must go into the public treasury and thus lighten the taxes of all his fellow citizens. With such a law in operation, rich men would be more generous during life and great wealth and its great power could not all accumulate in the hands of a few families.
Ah, yes! Love would do instead of ambition and selfishness to push the world along the highway of progress. But how few have pure, unadulterated love. This love is one of the choicest fruits of the spirit of God. It is not, consequently, to be found growing wild in the worldly heart. It is found only very imperfectly developed in Christian people, absolutely perfect in none, and approximately perfect only in a very few – the saints. And of these few we remember that the Lord declares there are not many rich or great or wise. This "little flock" is mainly composed of the poor of this world (both in mind and in purse), whose only riches are riches of faith. The world will not think of these, their words and examples, but will go on blindly, talking about love and practicing selfishness, hatred, malice and envy, and all the unlovely elements of the spirit which is the reverse of the spirit of love, until the great time of trouble, which God's Word predicts, shall be precipitated.
While presenting, above, the only course of peace and blessing under the present condition of society governed by ambition and selfishness, we well know that the moderate course will not be pursued. Selfishness, envy, covetousness and hatred are souring the hearts of all classes, except the few in whom the very spirit of gratitude and love and appreciation of the numberless blessings of our day lead to thankfulness of heart toward God, the giver of every good gift. Mr. Pentecost, as above quoted, is coming to see that his dreams as a Nationalist, that such a new order of things as is sought and as Mr. Bellamy has pictured, will not come about peaceably, but through revolution.
Nor was Mr. Bellamy so blind as to hope for his pictured Millennium while men's hearts are as they are now. He pictures a world of men with changed hearts – hearts in which love rules as the great dominating principle and ambition, and upon that foundation he builds his speculation as to what might be. Ah, yes! make men over into perfect beings – mentally, morally and physically – in whose very beings the law of God – the law of love – will be the ruling, governing motive; alter the climate of the earth and those conditions producing sudden changes and destructive storms and blights; and place the perfect race under such conditions, and the results ought to be glorious – much grander even than Mr. Bellamy's conception.
But who can work this grand and all-important change in mankind, without which all speculation is but a dream? Will the formation of a Nationalist club or party work such a change of heart? Nay, verily. Nationalism is a thought and an effort looking in a right direction, but no more. There is a chasm between where the race stands to-day, mired all over with sin and selfishness, and that ideal plane of holiness, love and purity, which no earthly power can bridge.
Is theirs, therefore, a hopeless glance in the right direction? It is hopeless so far as human power is concerned, but, as usual, man's extremity will be God's opportunity. Their desires are even far less grand than what God has already promised shall be accomplished. "The desire of all nations shall come." (Hag. 2:7.) Righteousness, truth and knowledge shall fill the whole earth. (Isa. 32:1; 11:9.) Love shall be the law; the stony heart of selfishness will be replaced by a tender one of sympathy, on every part of which will be stamped the law of love. (Jer. 31:33,34; Ezek. 11:19.) And this shall be, not only for the fortunates who have not died, but for all those also who fell asleep in death; and it shall be, not only for a few short years, but forever, to as many as shall fully conform themselves to that law of love, others being cut off as thorns and briers whose presence is an injury to the good of God's then great and happy family on earth.
But what lies between the present and that grand perfection for men? The Millennium – a thousand years of discipline under the most just and loving and sympathetic government conceivable; and yet under the strictest rule the world has ever known. This is God's bridge for spanning the chasm between the present state of sin, selfishness and imperfection and that future state of holiness, love and perfection. Its foundations were laid eighteen hundred years ago at Calvary – when "the man Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom for all;" and soon it shall be testified in God's due time to all men, and all shall have the fullest opportunity of crossing [R1245 : page 2] over by obedience and love to perfection and life by the bridge of restitution, and such alone as will not cross will perish in the second death.
But God's word reveals, too, that selfishness will be permitted to bring upon men one more final and to many an everlastingly profitable lesson, before the bridge of restitution is thrown open. This lesson will come in connection with the entrance of the world upon the restitution age, which as a bridge connects the present with the state of final perfection. In their rush for the coveted blessings and liberties God designs to give to all, selfishness is about to cause the great crush – the time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation, nor ever shall be again.
It is toward this bridge or age of judgment and trial, leading to Paradise restored, that all men, though ignorantly, are heading, each determined selfishly that he will get there first and secure the choice portion in the new Canaan. The wealthy and the brainy are in the lead; they have rather the advantage at present; already they are on the smoother way in which progress is less a drudgery, and surroundings are more elegant. They care not who may follow and generally hope that all may get a little, but are looking out for themselves specially. Behind and beside them are the millions of the medium classes of mechanics, etc., and the tens of millions of the poorer classes, laborers, etc., who have tasted some of the overflow blessings and advantages, and who see whither the new era is leading. Excitedly they push and pull for fear that, as the more favored ones pass on, there shall be none of the milk and honey left for them. And the favored ones resist, claiming custom, privilege, and their natural ability to lead. Wise would it be for both parties if they would be less selfish and more generous, insisting less upon their supposed rights wherever principle is not involved.
If they could but see it, there is bounty and blessing and room enough for all, and all will have the fullest opportunity to attain to all those blessings of Paradise restored. But they do not realize that it is God, through Christ, that is opening up the times of restitution of all things. They think that present day inventions and blessings are of men – an increase of human wisdom. They do not see that the flood of light which is now illuminating the world is of God, who has raised the curtain so that, as predicted, men are running to and fro and knowledge is increased. – Dan. 12:4.
A very few scattered here and there understand the real situation. These are God's holy ones, his special friends. He has revealed to them the real situation through his Word. They know what others are ignorant of, that the blessings now beginning are but a foretaste of greater ones yet to come, and long promised by Jehovah "by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." (Acts 3:19-21.) These strive not so anxiously as the others for their full rights and full share of present blessings. They thankfully take what comes, acknowledging that every good and perfect gift comes from their Heavenly Father. And what they do get, even in the present time, thus affords them more pleasure than the greater number of comforts does to others. "The little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked." (Psa. 37:16.) Even their faces distinguish them from others. Whatever their condition, whether sickness or health, whether very poor or in comfortable circumstances, these have peace within and realize that godliness with contentment is a great gain. Theirs is indeed a peace that the world can neither give nor take away. (John 14:27.) These are always rejoicing, and now so much the more as they see the great blessings of the Millennium drawing near. They are content to receive their share of coming blessings in God's way and in God's due time. These, if they cannot obtain their rights under present laws and regulations, will wait for justice, remembering the Apostle's words: "Be patient, brethren; the coming of the Lord draweth nigh" – his Kingdom will give full justice to all; wait for it. (James 5:7.) They remember that it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord;" and again, "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath;" and again, "The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all, apt to teach, forbearing, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves." (2 Tim. 2:24,25.) They remember, too, the outward characteristics of godliness enumerated by the Apostle – sobriety, modesty, hospitality; not strikers, not greedy of filthy lucre, patient; not brawlers, not covetous. (1 Tim. 3:2,3.) They remember, also, that they are to follow in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus, who was the personification of gentleness, humility and love. These may be in the very midst of the trouble and anxiety of the world and yet retain in their hearts the peace of God which passeth all understanding.
God, who alone knows the outcome as well as the process of his plans, reveals the fact that the Millennial blessings will not come in peaceably as they might do if love controlled mankind. Men, believing that they are bringing about the change of dispensation, rejecting God at the helm of affairs, and seeking to gain by force the blessings longed for, must learn their mistake before they are ushered into the blessings. To bless their methods would be to confirm them in their error and to make them arrogant and proud. To enter the Millennium thus would be to their disadvantage. Accordingly, their [R1245 : page 8] own efforts are, under God's supervision, to teach men humility and their own utter inability to establish justice and peace in the world.
Accordingly, from the Scriptures we read the future thus: As inventions increase, men will become more and more vain and boastful as to what human power and ingenuity can accomplish. They will more and more lose sight of God and his provisions and supervisions. Nature will become the god of science and of the masses, and to nature's laws, not God's, they will bow. But nature will deceive them; most unusual and "unnatural" changes will occur; the laws of nature which they thought fixed will be found unsettled and unreliable; for God, knowing the necessities of the time, has arranged that great convulsions and changes of nature's operations (necessary for the betterment of the earth for man in the time of blessing about to begin) shall occur at this time, to humble the pride of men and to teach them their dependence upon nature's God.
These changes of nature will produce famines, pestilences, etc., at a time when men are boasting that such things are impossible because of greater facilities of communication and traffic, and because of the increased knowledge and power over disease. And extravagance and waste and ingratitude, for comforts and blessings now so liberally bestowed by him who sendeth rain and sunshine upon the just and upon the unjust, will receive a severe and lasting rebuke.
Meanwhile the self-assurance of men, which presumes that they need only to put their theories into practice to produce the longed-for Millennium of peace and prosperity, will also receive a severe and lasting rebuke. A haughty spirit leads to a fall. The haughtiness and pride of Capital will be rebuked; and equally the haughtiness of Labor. The pride and self-confidence of both is leading rapidly to that great struggle between them in which both will fall. Capital will fall first, not under peaceful strikes and victories, but in a reign of terror such as visited France a century ago; and it, indeed, is set forth in Scripture as an illustration of the greater and wider conflict now at the door. Both sides will become less and less reasonable. Labor already is so prejudiced that any suggestions offered which differ from its preconceived ideas are attributed to self-interest or other unworthy and bad motives – pandering to Capital, bought up by the money of the rich, etc. That generosity which is willing to see and to hear both sides, and to judge justly, is rapidly giving place to envy, malice and hatred of all and everything which lies in the way of its presumed rights. To what this will lead it is not difficult to forecast. It is a murderous spirit and will lead to bloodshed and general havoc.
Capital, too, is self-confident. It unwisely bases its expectations for the future upon the past. Seeing the attitude of Labor, Capital says there is no use attempting to reason with or to contract with Labor: we must do the best we can to protect ourselves. Labor shows us no quarter and would not hesitate to cause a loss of millions of dollars by a sudden strike for an alleged grievance. To yield would be to place ourselves in the hands of tyrants, not only malicious, but inexperienced, and for that reason, if for no other, incapable of handling great enterprises properly. We cannot submit to this and must conquer Labor effectually. Bad policy, gentlemen! It could be done in times gone by, but not now. You cannot conquer Labor; you will not pursue what would be the wiser course – Condescend to men of low estate, grant everything that is reasonable and a little more, and by meeting with the unreasonable be content to teach them gradually the general principles which you see they but imperfectly comprehend. They are but children in matters of finance and commerce and social science; be patient with them, for Labor is a child so giant-strong that if he be not thus patiently taught and often conceded to while getting his lesson, he will soon, very soon, totally destroy that which he has not fully comprehended is necessary in great part for his own comfort as for yours.
And thus it will be, the Scriptures declare: Society with all its present arrangements, laws, etc., will be utterly overthrown in this strife. Then men in the midst of anarchy will attempt to rear successively the various social structures (Socialism, Nihilism, Nationalism, etc.) which variously they now conceive to be the one thing needful to perfect equality and happiness [R1246 : page 8] and peace and plenty. Each, as it is tried, will but prove a fresh failure, bringing new discouragements and renewals of the general trouble, until it has become apparent to all that Sin is at the foundation of all the trouble, and that no government that could be designed could be expected to operate perfectly in the hands of imperfect officers, and that perfect laws would not be obeyed, even in their spirit by imperfect people more or less dominated by sin and selfishness. Then such of mankind as really love and desire righteousness will be ready to hail Immanuel and his strong government as the only way to peace and prosperity.
While our own views are not prophecy, but interpretations of the holy prophets of old, it may be interesting to our readers to read a brief extract from the pen of one who claims to be a scientific prophet and to note the close agreement of some of his "scientific" opinions and conjectures with the Scriptural presentation above, which we have been presenting for the past fourteen years. The extract below we quote from the daily Press reports.
"In The Arena Professor Joseph Rodes Buchanan writes about 'The Coming Cataclysm of America and Europe,' which he places at nineteen years from the present time, and which 'in its magnitude and horror will surpass anything of which authentic history has preserved a record.' The Professor's paper is a prophecy containing conclusions demonstrated by the sciences which he has 'esoterically cultivated,' and the manner in which he goes into details convinces the reader that whatever there may be in the prophecy the prophet believes in himself. Professor Buchanan says that there will be a civil war in the United States, brought on by labor, race and church troubles, but chiefly the former, and that the aristocracy and money power will be overthrown, and a real democracy established on something like the lines laid down by Nationalism.
"Thousands are to-day impressed with the approaching dangers. The facts that should alarm them are conspicuous. The industrial classes in both city and country are profoundly discontented. The western farmers are not alone in their suffering. The decline in New York has been so great that State Assessor Wood, in 1889, expressed the opinion that in a few decades there will be none but tenant farmers in his state. While the farmers are going down, and nearly four-fifths of the city of New York live in tenement houses, the plutocracy is going up, the gulf is widening between wealth and poverty – between the man who may be arrested as a tramp for being out of work, and the millionaire who spends $700,000 on a stable for his horses.
"But one thing is necessary to insure a conflict. The armies must be gathered and organized into two hostile camps, for mobs do not make war. The organizing is going on now as never before in the world's history. The labor party, the anti-capital party, will soon embrace from one to two millions of men, bound together by common interest, common sympathy and common hatred of everything hostile to their interests, with a strong conviction that they are an oppressed class, and small patience with their oppressors, while the consciousness of their physical power will encourage a defiant and uncompromising attitude. In such a condition the disturbances or mobs, which are usually local and temporary, electrify the mass and become a national convulsion. A single individual may become the immediate cause of a civil war.
"And while man is fighting his battles, while democracy is overthrowing plutocracy in this country, and monarchy is being wiped out in Europe, nature will treat us to a terrible calamity. 'In the midst of our coming civil war the Atlantic coast will be wrecked by submergence and tidal waves.' Cities on the coast will be, according to the Professor, partially submerged and damaged beyond estimation. The loss of life he places at not less than a million persons.
"Professor Buchanan concludes his very interesting article by warning all who have faith in his judgment to leave the lowlands of the Atlantic coast south of New England within fifteen years. He is in the neighborhood of 80 years old, and does not expect to live to witness the fulfilment of his prophecy. 'It is with great hesitation and reluctance,' he says, 'that I have consented to present this horrid panorama; but truth should be our paramount aim, and if there be, as I maintain, any science which can look into the future, its proper presentation is by the statement of the future so far in advance of the event as to constitute a decisive test.'"
He holds the key of all unknown,
And I am glad.
If other hands should hold the key,
Or if he trusted it to me,
I might be sad.
What if to-morrow's cares were here
Without its rest?
I would that he unlock the day,
And, as the hours swing open, say
"My will is best."
The very dimness of my sight
Makes me secure;
For, groping in my misty way,
I feel his hand – I hear him say,
"My help is sure."
I cannot trace my future way,
But this I know:
I have the smilings of his face,
And all the refuge of his grace
While here below.
Enough; this covers all my want,
And so I rest;
For what I can not, he can see,
And in his care I sure shall be
"Jesus, our Lord, was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." – Rom. 4:25.
The term justification implies either one of two thoughts – either the declaring or proving right of a person or thing which is right, or else the making right of a person or thing which is wrong. The term is commonly used in both senses. A man tries to justify himself when falsely accused: that is, tries to make manifest his righteousness and the falsity of the accusation. Again we say we justify an uneven balance when we add sufficient weight to the lighter side to make it an even balance. So the Scriptures speak of justifying God (Luke 7:29; Rom. 3:4; 1 Tim. 3:16), i.e., of making manifest his justice, or righteousness; and again they speak of justifying sinful men by making them righteous. Thus we see that the term justification, as applied to man in his relationship to God, is equivalent to full salvation or restitution to actual perfection. When a man is actually justified (made right) and is so pronounced and accepted of God, he will have reached actual perfection in every sense of the word – mental, moral and physical; he will be fully restored to the lost estate once enjoyed by Adam.
There is a sense, however, in which some are justified now. By faith they accept the promise of God, of full restitution to the divine favor and likeness through Christ their Redeemer and Lord, and thenceforth they are reckoned of God as justified, and owned and treated as sons. All such believers are legally justified now, their deficiency being made up to them by the imputed righteousness of Christ. There are some very great and special advantages to be gained by being thus justified by faith now. But these we must leave for consideration at another time.
This great work of actual justification, salvation, or restitution, is the work which [R1247 : page 3] God purposed to do for the world; and to this end both the death and the resurrection of Christ are all-important.
The Word of God continually points to the death of Christ as the only foundation for the hope of the world's justification or salvation, saying that "When we were yet sinners we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son;" that though "All we like sheep had gone astray, the Lord hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all;" that "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed;" that we are "bought with a price," "redeemed, not with corruptible things, as silver and gold...but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." (Rom. 5:10; Isa. 53:6,5; 1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Pet. 1:18,19.) Our justification, without his death as our ransom-price, would have been legally impossible, since in no other way could God be just, and yet the justifier of fallen and condemned men.
Both the death and the resurrection of Christ were indispensable to God's plan for human salvation or justification; and as we reflect upon the relationship of these marked events we get a glimpse of the philosophy of the wondrous plan which must lead every reverent soul to glorify the wisdom which devised it, and to realize to some extent how God loved the world, even while all were yet sinners.
John speaks of him as being, previous to his human existence, in the bosom of the Father – the Father's only begotten Son (John 1:18). The Revelator says he was the beginning of the creation of God. (Rev. 3:14.) Yes, says John, he was in the beginning (the beginning of creation) with God. (John 1:2.) And Paul adds (Col. 1:15-17), "He is the first born of every creature: he is before all things, and by him all things consist: by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and for him; and by him all things consist." To this John also adds his testimony (John 1:3), saying, "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made."
Thus we see that, previous to his human existence, our blessed Lord was the honored agent of Jehovah in all his mighty works; that he was his only begotten and well beloved Son, his bosom friend and confidential companion, ever in fullest harmony, sympathy and co-operation with him. And whether we contemplate the vastness and grandeur of the physical universe, or the innumerable hosts of intelligent creatures, angelic and human, which, by the power delegated to him, he brought into existence, or the grandeur of the heavenly court and the presence of the divine Father, the great Emperor of the Universe, we are overwhelmed with a sense of the glory that he had with the Father before he humbled himself to the comparatively low estate of manhood. Yet he, that was so rich, for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich. – 2 Cor. 8:9.
Glance now at his poverty: Transformed from a nature and station so exalted to our human nature, which is of the earth, earthly, and the scope of whose powers is limited to its precincts, we see that even as a perfect man, which he was, his humiliation was very great. And though the earth was his, and the fulness thereof, he claimed not a foot of it. And though all the silver and gold were his, and the cattle upon a thousand hills, he claimed nothing. The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. He was born of humble, human parentage – born in a manger, cradled with the beasts of the stall in the little town of Bethlehem and reared in the despised city of Nazareth. And when at thirty years of age he emerged from obscurity and began to declare his mission in the world, he was despised and rejected of men. He came unto his own people (the Jewish nation), but his own received him not. And finally they put him to an ignominious death as a criminal; and none mourned him save a few humble people who had in meekness and simplicity of heart received his teaching, and who hitherto hoped that this was indeed he that should have redeemed Israel. (Luke 24:21.) O! how deep the humiliation of the Son of God, and how keenly he felt it when the bitter dregs of ignominy were added to the cup of death, and in anguish of soul he cried, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup [of ignominy and shame] pass from me. Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done."
Christ's deliverance for our offences was his deliverance to death, and all his previous humiliation from the spiritual to the human nature was only preparatory to the offering of the great sacrifice which was to accomplish our redemption. This our Lord declared when he said, "A body hast thou prepared me for the suffering of death," and "Lo, I come [being thus prepared] to do thy will, O God;" "In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin [the typical sacrifices under the Mosaic law] thou hast no pleasure." They were not sufficient, but were only typical of the great sacrifice which he was about to make; for, says the Apostle, "It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins." – Heb. 10:4-9.
We thus see that it was impossible for any creature, either higher or lower than the human nature, to release man from the condemnation to death. The blood of bulls and goats could not do it; and even the Son of God could not do it until first changed to the human nature. And since all men were under condemnation, no man (of Adamic posterity) could redeem his brother, or give to God a ransom for him. (Psa. 49:7.) A man had sinned and was under the just condemnation to death, having forfeited his right to life; and since the word of Jehovah had gone forth, "Dying thou shalt die," there was no power in heaven or in earth that could release him from that condemnation unless another man could be found, who, himself free from sin and condemnation, would willingly offer his own life as a substitute for the condemned one, thus giving an equivalent or corresponding price for the condemned, and redeeming him from the curse of death.
Such a man could never come into the world as the seed of Adam, since all of Adam's posterity inherited his condemnation; but such a one was promised as the seed of the woman. (Gen. 3:15.) And the Son of God was that one. Begotten of God and born of a woman, he thus partook of the human nature without its condemnation. This was indicated in the angel's message to Mary – "That holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:35.) Since by man (Adam) came death, by man also (the man Christ Jesus) must come the redemption and consequent resurrection from the dead. – 1 Cor. 15:21.
What was it, then, that Jesus gave for our redemption? It was his life, as he said – "I lay down my life for the sheep." (John 10:15.) When any being gives his life, he is giving all that he has. No being can have more than one life at a time; when he has given his life he has passed out of existence, and can never exist again unless some higher power restores his life. But when did Jesus give his life? When he was a spiritual being, or when he was a human being? The Scriptures declare that it was after he became a man, and that for this purpose he became a man. His life as a man, his life in the flesh, his humanity, therefore, was what he gave for the life of the world, as the world's sin-offering. This he very clearly stated when he said, "My flesh I will give for the life of the world." (John 6:51.) And this price of our redemption he never took back; for when he was raised from the dead he was no longer human, but of the divine nature, being thus highly exalted, even above his former spiritual glory. He was put to death in the flesh, but quickened [made alive] in the spirit nature, and is henceforth the divine Christ. – 1 Pet. 3:18.
Since all men inherited imperfection and consequent condemnation from Adam, when the life of Adam was thus redeemed by the death of the man Christ Jesus, they also share in the redemption, just as they had shared in the condemnation; as it is written (Rom. 4:19), "As by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." Thus the Son of God was delivered for our offences. And this expression "delivered for our offences" is a weighty suggestion of the love of God, who thus freely gave him up for us all. When Christians think of the sacrifice of Christ in giving his life for us, too often they seem to forget our heavenly Father's sacrifice in thus delivering up the precious Son of his love to such abject humiliation, suffering and death for our redemption. Surely herein is manifested the love of God to man, in that he gave his only begotten Son to die for us. You who have realized some measure of parental love may be able thus to gain some idea of the costly sacrifice on the part of our heavenly Father as well as of our Lord Jesus.
It is manifest that though we were redeemed from death by the precious blood of Christ, the purpose of God was not to perpetuate the life of the race in sin, but on the contrary to deliver them both from sin and from its legitimate penalty, death. And while the legal right to do this was under God's arrangement secured through Christ's death, the process of its accomplishment [R1248 : page 3] will require considerable time. It is written that for this purpose "God hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained (Jesus Christ), whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead" (Acts 17:31); and that "He hath committed all judgment unto the Son." – John 5:22.
This day appointed for the world's judgment under Christ, the great Prophet, Priest and King, is to be the Millennium, or thousand years' reign of Christ. It will be the world's great judgment day. In the sense of sentencing merely, a judgment would be utterly useless and certainly in no sense a blessing. But in the full sense of the term judgment, which includes the thought of trial, we see a great work to be accomplished during the thousand years of Christ's reign – a work of first awakening from death, and then of teaching, reforming and disciplining the race until they are actually justified, made right, acceptable to God and worthy of everlasting life. This great work of Christ, during the thousand years of his reign, will be accomplished in all who willingly submit to his righteous authority, and all others shall be cut off in the second death. "Then cometh the end, when he shall [R1248 : page 4] have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power; for he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet." – 1 Cor. 15:24,25.
Many of the special features of this great work of restitution or justification are clearly pointed out by the sacred writers. Our Lord speaks of the awakening of all from death in that day, saying, "The hour cometh in which all that are in their graves shall come forth." (John 5:28.) "There shall be a resurrection of the just and of the unjust." (Acts 24:15.) They tell us that the knowledge of the Lord shall be made to fill the whole earth as the waters cover the sea (Hab. 2:14), showing that great enlightening and educational influences will be set to work; that the world will be ruled with a rod of iron (Rev. 2:27), with unbending justice, from the power of which none can escape; that a grand highway of holiness (a public thoroughfare) shall be cast up, and that the redeemed of the Lord shall walk thereon (Isa. 35:8,9; 40:3), showing a grand reversal of public sentiment in favor of righteousness, a glorious revival of religion that shall sweep over the whole world. They tell us further how all the stumbling-stones of temptation to evil shall be gathered out (Isa. 62:10), showing that none of the licensed evils of the present day will find a place under that glorious reign of righteousness. And thus the way of life shall be made so plain that the wayfaring man, though unlearned, shall not stumble therein. (Isa. 35:8.) How difficult it is to find the way of life now! "Straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it," now; but then all shall find it. There will not be a thousand contradictory religious creeds to confuse the mind, but the books of divine revelation shall be opened, made plain, so that all can understand.
Such an opening of the books is even now begun; not, however, before the blind eyes of the world, but before the anointed eyes of the household of faith; for already we perceive that we are in the gray dawn of that glorious day which God hath appointed. And much more we are told, of how the physical earth shall be made glorious, how the wilderness shall bloom and streams shall break forth in the deserts, and how the earth shall yield her increase instead of the brier and the thorn (Isa. 35:1,2,6; Psa. 67:6; 85:11-13; Ezek. 34:25-27; Zech. 8:12), and how wholesome restraints and wise rulings and righteous discipline of rewards and punishments, as the individual cases may require, shall finally bring forth the peaceable fruits of righteousness in all the earth, until the whole earth shall smile as the garden of Eden and break forth into singing.
In the resurrection of Christ, as the Apostle states, we have the assurance that this great work shall be accomplished. If his sacrifice had not been acceptable, had he in any way incurred condemnation to death by failure to meet the requirements of the law, he never could have had a resurrection and our hope would have perished. But his resurrection accomplished is the assurance and pledge that the great work of the world's resurrection and restitution shall also in due time be accomplished. The preparations for it are made; the legal barrier to it was removed by the death of Christ for our redemption; the resurrection of Christ and his endowment with all power in heaven and in earth for its accomplishment is also an established fact; and, thank God! the appointed time is not far distant when the long-promised blessings shall be poured forth.
For this great work of justification, salvation or restitution, how necessary the resurrection of Christ; for man's receiving of the thing purchased awaits his glorious appearing as the great Prophet, Priest and King whom Jehovah promised to raise up. (Deut. 18:15.) This is the theme of the whole gospel – of its types and prophecies and all its glowing inspirations. It was the hope of the early church, and it is our hope. This is the blessing implied in the promise to Abraham – "In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed," "Which seed," says Paul, "is Christ." (Gal. 3:16.) It is the blessing, too, prefigured in that eloquent type of the Day of Atonement, when the high priest, after making the typical atonement for the sins of Israel, came out to the door of the Tabernacle, arrayed in robes typical of glory and beauty, prefiguring the dignity and glory of the office and work of the risen Christ, the world's High Priest, and lifting up his hands blessed the people who lay prostrate in the dust, in symbol of the world's prostration in death. It is the blessing referred to by the Psalmist when he calls upon the heavens and the earth to rejoice greatly, saying, "Let the heavens rejoice and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar and the fulness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord; for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness and the people with his truth." – Psa. 96:11-13.
It is the blessing referred to by Isaiah (14:7), when he says, "The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet; they break forth into singing." It is that for which the church has long prayed, saying, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven." Yes, those years of blessing under Christ's reign are the "times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord," "the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." – Acts 3:19-21.
But we seem to hear some inquire, How can these things be? Does not death end all? and is not the doom of each one sealed at death? Do not the righteous then go to heaven and the unrighteous to everlasting woe and merciless torture? It is not our purpose now to dwell at length on that question, but you will readily see that those ideas are out of harmony with the teachings of the scriptures to which attention has just been called. Why would God appoint a thousand years to judge the race if their trial is already past and their doom eternally sealed? There is a class whose trial ends with this life, whose judgment day is now, and who, therefore, will "not come into judgment with the world" during the Millennium, but now we are considering God's provision for the world in general. Whatever may be thought of the condition of man in death, all Christian's agree that the full reward or penalty of each is reserved to the second coming of the Lord and the resurrection then due to take place. (Those who desire to inquire further are respectfully referred to Old Theology Tract, No. 1.)
We see, then, the importance both of the death and of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, to the accomplishment of the divine plan of salvation. And Christ's resurrection, Paul shows us, is the pledge of our resurrection, saying, "Now is Christ risen from the dead and become the firstfruits of them that slept." (See 1 Cor. 15:12-20.) If Christ died and rose again for the purpose of giving life to the world; if he removed the great legal barrier by his costly sacrifice; if his sacrifice was acceptable, in that God raised him from the dead, and gave him all power in heaven and in earth, and appointed a day for the great work, then as surely as that day shall dawn upon the world, so surely shall the prison-house of death yield up its captives (Isa. 61:1) and the justification of the world shall be accomplished. Praise the Lord! "Blessing and honor and glory and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne [of universal dominion] and unto the Lamb forever and ever."
"There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it [to ask its forgiveness]. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death." – 1 John 5:16,17.
The Apostle here clearly teaches that there are two sorts of sins: one that may be repented of and reformed from, and for which forgiveness and reconciliation may be prayed for and expected, the other a sin that "hath never forgiveness" (Mark 3:29), while those who commit it, "it is impossible to renew again unto repentance." (Heb. 6:4,6; 10:26.) It is a sin unto death, and none need pray for or expect its forgiveness. The latter is sometimes called a death-sin, or "mortal sin," while the former is termed a "venial sin," or one which may be forgiven.
These distinct sins are recognized by these names by Roman Catholics. But this should be no reason why we or others should reject a thought which we see to be Scriptural. The ideas lying at the foundation of the distinctions we shall find not only reasonable, but older than Roman Catholicism, which had no existence as a system prior to the third century. The distinctions themselves, though not the names of those distinctions, Romanists received from the early, undenominational church. We must beware, however, of Papacy's definitions of what would constitute a venial and what a mortal sin. She classes as mortal sins such as require [they say] confession to a priest and his preparation and offering of a special sacrifice of mass as a cancellation of such sins; while under the term venial she classes all those unintentional sins which Christ's sacrifice covers, which need no confession to the priest, nor his sacrifice of the mass for their cancellation. It is not difficult to see that love of money as payment for masses had much to do with this classification of mortal and venial sins. When we, then, Scripturally divide sins into two classes, death-sins or mortal sins, and forgivable or venial sins, let us leave Papacy's classification of these and seek the Scriptural classification.
First, then, let us see that there could be no such division of sins into two kinds aside from the New Covenant. Under God's law (aside from the New Covenant) any transgression of his law is sin, whether intended or not intended. God's law calls for right and nothing less, in deed as well as in thought; and every human being is sentenced to death, as unworthy of life, by that perfect law, because all (by reason of inherited weaknesses through the fall) are sinners, i.e., not perfect in deed and in thought. Under that absolutely just, perfect and good law of God, all sins, no matter how slight, would be sins unto death – mortal sins.
The fact that God's law is thus strict, exacting perfection and depriving all imperfect beings of life, might seem cruelly severe to us fallen ones who find weaknesses within and temptations without, until we see that this very strictness and severity of God's law is designed for the benefit of his creatures who desire harmony with him. God's perfect law is suited exactly to perfect beings, and he never made and placed under it any others than perfect creatures – creatures in his own likeness – except Israel, typically. Thus we see that God did not create us imperfect and sinful and weak in mind and body and morals. The man whom God created was our father Adam. It was our fallen progenitors that brought us into being in their likenesses after they had long lost the god-likeness of perfection.
But God had benevolent designs with reference to the race of Adam. He saw beforehand that some of us would gladly be his children, and servants of righteousness, if permitted. But his just, perfect law, so proper for his perfect creatures, stood firm. To change that law to suit the fallen creatures would be to recognize a lower standard than perfection, would make God a party to sin and imperfection, and would unsettle the principles and precedents of a government designed to be lasting and unchangeable and a universal blessing. So God provided for his fallen creatures in another way.
In his plan Christ Jesus became the redeemer or purchaser of Adam and all his family and effects, by paying the full penalty that stood against him, which was – death. Then, still working through this Redeemer, on whom he bestowed the gift of a higher nature, even the divine, God, without dealing directly with the sinners, and without allowing them to come under the judgment of his perfect law made for perfect beings, but dealing only with Christ who bought them, in him establishes a court of justice and a new trial for the fallen race.
In this special trial of those whom he bought, by the Redeemer, he will be the judge, and the perfect law of God will be the standard of judgment or trial. But this trial will be more merciful and lenient than if conducted otherwise, (not because Christ Jesus is more loving than Jehovah, for he is merely the co-operating agent in the development of Jehovah's plan, but) because during the trial of each the Judge can make allowance for all the weaknesses and errors of men which result from the degradations traceable by him directly or indirectly to the fall of Adam. And he will have the legal right to make such allowances because he himself paid the penalty for that whole transgression and its direct and indirect results in satisfaction of this very perfect law of God.
So, then, the right by which the Lord Jesus, during his Millennial reign and judgment of the world, will pass over and forgive, and not impute as sins, such violations of God's perfect law as are the results of ignorance, inherited weaknesses and temptation, lies in the fact that he has already paid the penalty for the sin which led to all those weaknesses. And as that age advances and the work of enlightening all men progresses, and as they are gradually restored, step by step, nearer to perfection, the allowances for actual transgressions on the score of the redemptive work will grow less and less; until, at the close of the Millennial age, those who have progressed to actual perfection, physical, mental and moral, with full knowledge of right and wrong, will be subject to the same exact requirements at the hands of Christ as at the hands of Jehovah under the same perfect law of God, because then there would be no longer room for the imputation, to such, of the merits of the ransom to cover future sins, since any sins they would then commit would be wilful, and entirely independent of the fall and its consequent imperfections, all of which (Adamic death) would by that time be [R1249 : page 5] swallowed up – destroyed, removed. The work of the Mediatorial Kingdom thus ending by the completion of God's intentions, those who shall have been under discipline and restitution will be tested (Rev. 20:7-15); the unworthy will be destroyed, and such as prove fully obedient will be turned over to the full administration of the Father, that he may be seen to be the great All in all – the head of Christ and of all things; and then the work of mediation will be at an end, having accomplished God's purposes to the full – the testing and perfecting of all of the fallen race who are friends of God. Now look again, this time more critically, at the sins which will be forgiven by our Redeemer when he sits as Judge of the world, associating his church in that work with him. There will be then as now three sorts of sins, but only two of them recognized as sins.
First, there will be the actual imperfections or errors of thought, word and deed, entirely unintentional. This class of sins would be worthy of death under the one and only law of God which condemns everything that is imperfect; but such ARE NOT COUNTED SINS AT ALL under the New Covenant, because the Judge's sacrifice for the culprit family covers these unavoidable weaknesses and transgressions fully and completely.
Second, there will be sins in which the elements of weakness and ignorance will be but a partial excuse, because a measure [R1250 : page 5] of wilfulness blends with the weakness. Such sins will be excusable only to the extent that they are of ignorance, weakness and temptation. To whatever degree they were wilful, to that extent they are not forgivable, but must be punished – with many or few "stripes," as the Judge sees the degree of wilfulness to be. Our Lord Jesus applies in such cases the merit of his own sacrifice to cover the criminal, to the extent that the crime is the result of inherited weakness from the Adamic fall and the consequent depravity of the race since.
Third, "there is a sin unto death," and those who go so far as to commit it need not be hoped for, nor prayed for, because it will be impossible to renew again by bringing to repentance those who thus sin. – Heb. 6:4-6; 1 John 5:16.
This sin is one, though it may be committed in a variety of ways. Whenever a wrong course is adopted intentionally, with a full desire to have it so, against a clear knowledge of the right and wrong in the matter, and not from weakness – physical or moral – such, to our understanding, is the one sin that is unto death; it is wilful, intentional sin against clear knowledge. It is unto death and not subject to forgiveness because not covered by Christ's ransom-price. It is not covered by the ransom because it is not in any sense traceable to Adam's transgression and its consequences. Christ as Mediator stands between men and God's perfect and exact requirements, to shield them from the exactness of that law to the extent of their weaknesses, ignorances and evil besetments, and to instruct them until they shall come to a clear knowledge of the truth. But Christ's object and God's object, in this mediation, is not to spare and shield wilful sinners from God's just law and its penalty, but to recover the unwilling captives of sin and to release and restore them out of their weaknesses. The mediation is extended to all, but permanently benefits only those who accept and conform to it. Wilful sinners are condemned to death – second death – by the Mediator's law as well as by Jehovah's law, for they are identical except that the Mediator applies the merit of his own sacrifice to compensate for the Adamic weaknesses of those seeking to obey him, while they are coming up to perfection, under his instruction and aid.
The Apostle teaches that this sin unto death can be committed now by the church, if, after clearly recognizing Christ as their Redeemer and Mediator, and enjoying the blessings of his ransom-sacrifice, they knowingly turn from this, God's plan, to commend themselves to him aside from that sin-offering which Christ presented once for all who would come unto the Father. Those who have been once enlightened and who have tasted of the heavenly gift [forgiveness of sins through Christ], and have been made partakers of the spirit of holiness, who have tasted of the good word of God and the powers of the coming age, and who then sin wilfully, are sinning on their own account, and intelligently, after having enjoyed their full share of the redemption and release from Adamic or "original sin" secured by God for all through Christ's atoning work. By such a wilful course of opposition they clearly say to God, Thy great plan of redemption and reconciliation of the world through Christ is a failure so far as we are concerned; we do not appreciate Christ's work as Redeemer, nor recognize his blood (death) as the seal of the New Covenant, though we recognize him as a very good man whose example is worthy of imitation; we see no purchasing power in his blood for us; he died for himself and we die for ourselves; he commended himself to God as worthy of life, and we shall commend ourselves to God as worthy of life by doing the same as he did – following his example. They say, Our case is in God's hands; he will bring us through; we needed no purchase or ransom-price for our sins, and we recognize none.
Thus, they do despite to the one and only plan of salvation provided by God – the salvation which is in Christ Jesus through faith in his blood (death) – and fall into the hands of the living God; and by their rejection of the mediation for sin secured in Christ's death they expose themselves to the full blaze of the perfect law which surely condemns any of the fallen race of Adam not under cover of the one and only ransom. And as Paul declares, their position then, without a Mediator, is a fearful one. (Heb. 10:31.) For as in the type all who despised Moses, the typical Mediator, and attempted to offer to God incense for themselves and not through Moses, the Mediator of their typical covenant, and his appointed channel, which recognized the sin-offering as the basis of forgiveness, were dealt with without mercy, so those who despise the blood and the Mediator of the New Covenant and place their case thus in the hands of God direct, and not through his recognized channel, the Mediator, will be dealt with upon lines of strictest justice, without mercy (Heb. 10:26-31); God's mercy for sinners all being provided in Christ, so that there is none other name than his in heaven or in earth whereby we must be saved. And under that strict justice the verdict would be, Imperfect, unworthy of life; sentence, Death.
Yet we should carefully discriminate between the second and the third form of sins, as explained; even in judging of ourselves, our judgment might be too severe. The extent to which ignorance and wilfulness may blend is very great. By far the greater number who will accurately judge of themselves will find themselves sinners under the second class described, though all should strive to avoid even the first. Such are not counted sinners under the favor of God in Christ, under the New Covenant, though actually imperfect.
By far the smallest number, we believe, come under the third class as having committed wilful sin, unmitigated by ignorance or weakness – the sin unto death. Though the Apostle intimates that the "holy brethren" should be able to discern those cases in which wilful sin has been committed, so that they will not pray for such, yet there is evidently great room for patient forbearance and generous judgment in such cases. Many are blinded by sophistries and misled by the Adversary through false teachers to the rejection of the ransom covering, who are merely confused and bewildered by false teachings. Some who loudly deny that the Lord bought them, and that the Lord as the man Christ substituted his life for Adam's forfeited life (that thus he might justly set free from death by a resurrection all of Adam's race who will accept of the gift of life upon the conditions of the New Covenant), do nevertheless trust (though unintelligently) that somehow Christ did do something which they do not comprehend, which under God's arrangement secures a release from condemnation to everlasting death. Such are really trusting in Christ as a Redeemer, though the eyes of their understanding are sadly blinded by errors which may hinder them from winning the prize of the high calling, but which will be fully corrected and removed when the Millennial age is fully ushered in – when "the blind shall see out of obscurity."
Of these three grades of sins, then, we thus comment: Those who commit the first, if they should say, We are without sin, would be deceiving themselves and making God a liar; for he has declared that all are sinners, that there is none righteous – no, not one. Yet these who are subject to this first class of sins, when they accept of Christ's work as Redeemer or Ransomer, so that he is made unto them wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30), are so fully cleared by the imputation to them of the merit of Christ's sin-offering on their behalf, that of such it can then be truly said, "Whosoever is begotten of God sinneth not." [Such do not sin wilfully, intentionally, and other imperfections are not reckoned sins to such]. "Whosoever abideth in him [Christ, the Mediator] sinneth not [maintains his justified standing before God]; whosoever sinneth [wilfully] hath not seen him, neither known him. He that committeth [wilful] sin is of the devil." So long as the begetting seed of the new nature abides, so long as the spirit of the truth rules in the heart, there can be no love of sin and no wilful sinning there. Where wilful opposition to God or to righteousness exists, it is an evidence either that the person never had been begotten of the spirit of the truth to newness of life, or else that he has become alienated. If the alienation and sin were but partly wilful it is "venial sin," and there is hope through repentance and chastisement of the recovery of such; but if the alienation and sin are wholly wilful, against full light and ability, it is "mortal sin;" and there is no hope of repentance or recovery; it is unto death, the second death – destruction without hope of recovery.
"Paul, to the faithful in Christ Jesus:" – "After I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and love unto all the saints, [I] cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places – far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and hath put all things under his feet, and given him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." – Eph. 1:1,15-23.
The high calling of the Gospel church is always referred to by the apostles as a mystery, as something hard to understand, and as a secret thing. Not so is it with the hope and calling of the world in general. It is to the glory of human perfection, and to all the blessings of divine favor designed for the perfect man. Such a restitution is clearly predicted and described by all of the apostles and prophets, as well as by the Lord Jesus. They show that all of the past condemnation against the race is canceled by the death of "the man Christ Jesus;" that every soul that accepts of his provision may go on to perfection and everlasting life; and that the earth itself will be brought to glorious perfection and made the fit abode for the redeemed and perfect race, so that even the deserts shall rejoice and blossom as the rose, and throughout its length and breadth there shall be nothing to hurt nor to offend. Of all this glory the human mind can form a tolerably clear idea. We can conceive of the perfection of the human body and of the human mind. Such a body would have complete exemption from sickness, pain and death; it would be in perfect health, with all the bloom and beauty and the freshness and elasticity of youth coupled with the vigor and dignity and glory of maturity. Such a mind would have all its powers of memory, reason, judgment, etc., perfect; and with the education and discipline of centuries it would be a living and accurate [R1252 : page 5] encyclopaedia, an authentic and voluminous history, and a master in the realms of science, philosophy, mathematics, art and every avenue of mental activity.
Such is the grand calling of the human race in general, yet in comparison with this, grand as it is, the call of the Gospel church is termed a high calling. What, then, is the hope of our calling? O! says the Apostle, feeling his inability to describe it, I pray "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints."
To understand the hope of this calling, he here intimates, requires something more than ordinary human ability. It is a call to a station higher than human; it is a call to joint-heirship with Christ, who has been made the "heir of all things," who is even at the right hand of the glorious Father – far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come. What human mind can grasp the full meaning of such "exceeding great and precious promises?" To the natural man it is simply incomprehensible, and therefore foolishness; but to those who have received the spirit of wisdom and revelation – who have received the spirit of Christ – this mystery is made known. To all others it is, and will remain, a mystery.
You, therefore, who have received the spirit of Christ, give ear; to you God would make known the fellowship of this mystery. We have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and of your love unto all [R1252 : page 6] the saints, and by this we recognize you as fellow-heirs with all the saints of this age and joint-heirs with the Lord Jesus Christ; for every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. – 1 John 5:1.
By faith behold now the Lord Jesus, who, though he was made flesh (human) for the suffering of death, is now no longer "the man Christ Jesus," but who is now the divine Christ, unto whom is given "all power in heaven and in earth." Aye! hast thou read those words again and again without observing their weight? Consider now their breadth and scope. He is now so "highly exalted" above even his pre-human condition – which was the chief of all created beings, both angelic and human – that he is now seated with Jehovah in his throne, the throne of universal dominion and glory and power (Rev. 3:21), a partaker of Jehovah's own divine nature and "the express image of his [glorious] person," whom all creatures are now commanded to honor "even as they honor the Father."
What a height of glory is this to which this Heir of all divine things has been exalted, and in which the Gospel church is called to joint-heirship! How marvelous the favor of God in calling even one of his creatures to such fellowship and intimacy with himself, and endowing him with such power and glory and honor throughout all the realm of his own dominion. What if such a one should some time become puffed up with pride and turn traitor? with such unlimited power and influence what a rival he might become.
Ah! no; there is no danger of that. Before the Lord Jesus was thus exalted he was put to the severest possible test; and that test proved that there was no pride or self-emulation in him; that, on the contrary, he was so loyal and obedient to God and so confident of his superior wisdom and his love that he humbly submitted his own will and followed God's command even where he could not trace his wisdom – even unto death – even unto full surrender of his being. To thus prove him, as well as to give to the human race an actual experience with evil, and to angels and men an illustration of its effects and its penalty, God placed upon the human race the extreme penalty of his law, which penalty could only be set aside by a sacrifice of equivalent value. And the privilege of thus redeeming men by the sacrifice of himself – first by lowering him to the human nature and then by the sacrifice even unto death – was offered to the Son of God together with a promise of recovery out of death, which hope he could receive by faith only. This he did, and thereby proved his loyalty and his faithfulness – "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name [his own of course excepted – 1 Cor. 15:27], that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things in earth." (Phil. 2:10.) Divine wisdom foresaw that such a character, so like his own, would stand eternally.
This is the high calling of God; this the glorious inheritance into which Christ Jesus has already entered; this transformation to the divine nature is "the mighty power which God wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead." And now, beloved, hearken! "He gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body." And this constitutes "the full development of him who is filling all things with all." That is, the divine Father, his divine Son, our Lord Jesus, and his bride and joint-heir, the Gospel church, will constitute the full development of the divine family whose grand, united, future work will be to fill all things (the universe) with all the blessings that the Father's eternal wisdom has planned. And when this divine family has thus reached its "full development" there can not be another member added to it.
This, O ye faithful saints, is the glory and wealth of your high calling. Do you long for power – not for self-emulation, or pride, or vain glory, but for the blessed privilege of filling the universe with blessing, and peace, and praise, and love, and happiness, and never failing joy? – here then is your marvelous opportunity. But before the crown must come the cross. We must prove our loyalty and faithfulness as the Master proved his; we must take his yoke upon us and learn of him, cheerfully, lovingly and faithfully submitting to the humiliations and afflictions of the present time – even unto death – confidently remembering that faithful is he who hath called us, who also will exalt us in due time, after that we have endured sufficiently to establish our character and prove our worthiness.
If it is marvelous that the Son of God should be thus exalted, how much more so that we, who were once sinners and under condemnation of death, should be called to be partakers of the same divine nature. Yet it is God who hath called us, and who is he who shall judge us unworthy if God counts us among "the called, and chosen, and faithful?" And what wonder if others fail to comprehend these exceeding great and precious promises, and think those very presumptuous who claim them. Yet they are ours to be received with meekness and fear; and no man can receive them save through the divine revelation, the Word of God, and in the spirit of that revelation – the spirit of Christ – in meekness, and holiness, and faith. May the called ones give great diligence to make their calling and election sure.
This is the title of a four-page tract being circulated by some who we feel confident would not circulate it if they had critically examined it. Its first paragraph contains sufficient error for the purpose of our criticism. We quote:
"READER, whoever you may be, and whatever your condition, God loves you, and Christ is your Savior. Those who have taught you that "God will love you if you will be good," and that "Christ died for you if you will believe it," have meant well, but they were mistaken. Believing anything never makes it true, nor can disbelieving make it false. Those who have so taught have not only dishonored God by misrepresenting him, but have also thus put a stumbling-block in the way of sinners being drawn to the Savior. Love that depends on an if has no drawing power in it. It really does not exist, and so cannot be gospel. The truth is, that 'God is Love;' that is his nature; and therefore his love for all mankind, which includes you and me, had no beginning and can have no end."
Here we have a strange mixture of truth and error, a refutation of one set of errors common to "orthodoxy" and a running into error on the opposite side of the question. It is a lamentable fact that, while teaching the Bible truth, that God is love, many have erroneously presented certain doctrines in such a light as to give ground for the inference that God had no love for his creatures and that the Lord Jesus alone sympathized with men. We have nothing to say in favor of such an unreasonable and unscriptural view of the matter.
But the people so unbalanced in judgment as to get so false an idea of God are of the very class most likely to take the other extreme if helped out of this. And we cannot say that such are greatly to be censured, for as ability for sound reasoning is partly inherited, so a predisposition to extremes and unsound reasoning is more or less the result also of heredity.
The fact, then, that the writer of the foregoing had once so extremely false a conception [R1253 : page 6] of God's character and plan as he portrays, and that a very few other men have gone to the same extreme, should lead all who never were so unbalanced in judgment to be on their guard, and to expect such a one to err correspondingly in the opposite direction when he comes to see that error. We are glad that the writer of the above got rid of that false, God-dishonoring view, but we regret that he has taken the other extreme.
While the quotation above contains an element of truth – and what error is so false as to be totally devoid of elements of truth? – yet, taken as a whole, it is misleading and consequently untrue. It is brim full of glaring inconsistencies and errors, put in that defiant, positive and sophistical manner which is calculated to mislead those who rely upon their own and other men's reasonings, and who neglect the Word of the Lord.
Take the first sentence: it does not at all limit the class, except that they must be able to read and must see that tract. If the reader be the most blatant atheist, whom God calls a "fool" (Psa. 14:1), or one of those wilfully wicked whom God declares are an abomination unto him, and that on such his wrath still abides (John 3:36), or if the reader be Satan himself, whom God repeatedly declares shall be destroyed as the enemy of God and righteousness (Heb. 2:14), all such are told that God loves them and that Christ is their Savior. Surely God has given no authority to any man to contradict him thus. We will show more at length hereafter the true character of God's love, but now we want briefly to expose other errors of this statement.
If Christ is the Savior of such as we have mentioned – the wilfully wicked, atheists, Satan – then as a matter of course they are saved. What are they saved from? From sin? from unbelief? from opposition to God and righteousness? Surely not. Every one knows that all, "whoever they may be and whatever their condition," are not thus saved. Well, then, are all saved from the penalty of sin and yet left to revel in it? God's Word declares, "The wages of sin is death." "The soul that sinneth it shall die." Have all been saved from this sentence which passed upon all men? (Rom. 5:12.) Surely atheists die, and all are dying; none are yet saved actually from that penalty. The resurrection will be the only actual salvation from death.
Ah, yes! we, all who have faith, can thus reckon ourselves saved from death by faith, "saved by hope," looking forward to the reality, future. We can likewise also by faith reckon ourselves saved from sin; realizing that Christ's righteousness, the merit of his ransom-sacrifice, covers the unintentional sins and weaknesses of all in Christ – of all who "believe into him." Such can by faith think of themselves as saved, not only from the sins of the past and their penalty, but also from sins future; grace to help in every time of need being promised to such – grace to make gradually stronger to resist sin and weaknesses; and the grace of his own meritorious sacrifice for sins, to cover all their unintentional errors and weaknesses.
There is indeed, then, a class of whom we may speak, and who may properly speak of themselves, as saved (by faith and hope) now; and Christ is therefore their Savior. But does this include all, whatever their condition, as this tract asserts? Are not these at present but a small class, and therefore a peculiar people? Is it not then a serious error and a totally false statement to say as above quoted, "Whoever you may be and whatever your condition," Christ is your Savior? It is totally false in every particular. It is inconsistent with reason as well as with Scripture.
The passage of Scripture which might readily be misconstrued to support the fallacious assertion in question is 1 Tim. 4:10, and it does not refer to Christ as the Savior at all. It reads, "We trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, specially of them that believe." This passage declares that God is the Savior. He was back of all and the cause or mainspring of all that our Lord Jesus has done and will do as his agent and representative in saving men. The passage as a whole teaches that in an especial sense God is the Savior of believers, and consequently only believers are specially or lastingly saved; while in a general way God is the Savior of all unbelievers also. In what sense the unbelievers are saved is not shown in this passage; but this is clearly told in the preceding chapter. (1 Tim. 2:4.) "He desires [wills] that all men shall be saved and come into an exact knowledge of the truth." (Diaglott.) The saving here referred to is one that will enable all to come to a full appreciation of good and evil and a full opportunity of making their salvation a special and everlasting one, by becoming an obedient believer in the Mediator. As far as God is concerned, he provided for all, while all were yet sinners, that sacrifice for sins which saves all from the original sentence of death – extinction – and has, so to speak, turned it into a sleep – a sleep of death, from which Christ will awaken all who are in their graves and bring all to the full knowledge and opportunity of salvation.
It is because the death of Christ will save none but believers, specially and everlastingly, that God wills that all shall come to a knowledge of the facts, and that a Millennial age has been arranged for by God, during which ("due time") the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth, when it shall be testified to all, that "the man Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom for all," and that all may be specially or everlastingly saved by believing in and obeying him.
It was because belief and obedience are necessary to a share in the merit of Christ's death, that the apostle wrote, "With the heart man believeth unto justification and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation....Whosoever shall petition the name of the Lord shall be saved." But he asks (showing that he had not taken his lessons from the little tract we criticize), "How shall they petition him in whom they have not believed?" for faith must precede trust and prayers, and faith comes by hearing the good tidings.
Thus, the tract is wrong again when it says, "Believing anything never makes it true," for, as we have just seen, believing in Christ, and that so fully as to accept of the proffered salvation or recovery out of sin and its penalty, is NECESSARY before the individual has any share in the salvation or the Savior. Again, "If we suffer with him we shall also reign with him;" how often has the believing of that statement made it a fact to the saints? [R1253 : page 7]
Such misleading tracts and sermons not infrequently becloud the minds of God's saints and incapacitate them for presenting the truth, and at the same time become stumbling blocks to sinners, who might conclude that if they are as much saved and as much loved as the saints, while yet in their sins and rebellion against God, they may as well continue thus in his love and salvation. "Woe unto them that call evil good and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter, saith the Lord." – Isa. 5:20.
Consider another of this tract's statements: "Love that depends on an if has no drawing power in it." Is this teaching of heaven, or merely earthly talk, unauthorized by Scripture and unfounded so far as reason and experience are concerned? We assert that it is the latter and will prove it: first, by Scripture, then by facts and reason. Love with an if in it means love that is conditional or because of something. Now note the conditions of God's love and Christ's love as asserted in the Scriptures, and remember that this conditional love of Christ constraineth (or draweth) us who are now his followers. – See John 10:17; 14:15,21,23; 15:10,14.
Now, for a word of reason on the subject: What is it that calls forth real, noble love? Is it not real merit which begets appreciation, esteem, pleasure and delight? Sometimes love is awakened by a hope or desire that such noble, beautiful, admirable qualities can be awakened or produced in a person who may have but few of these at the time – but the basis of the real love is always centered somehow upon real merit. That unreasonable, selfish, animal passion called love, which is blind to character and quality, and which has no if or because or reason, is not the real love, and is not at all similar to the love of God. That blind love with no if is what we see in the lower animals. It is displayed by the tigress, the lioness, the cat, the cow, the horse, the hen, as well as by the lowest grades of savage human beings toward their offspring. They love blindly and without an if, because they love selfishly – not from quality and character, but because "it is mine!" And thus we see that even in that sort of love, the lowest, there is a because and an if, but a selfish one. If it were some one else's offspring there would be no love, perhaps envy; but because it is theirs they hold for it this lowest form of love.
How different God's love is from this cannot be appreciated by all. Those who have only the selfish form of love are apt to think of God's love as like their own. Their reasoning is after this style: God is the creator of all mankind; he must therefore feel a selfish love for them, similar to that which fallen earthly beings feel for their offspring. As the mother would love and defend her child at the risk of her own life, no matter how undutiful, bad natured or otherwise ungainly, and as a tigress would defend her cubs, no matter how ugly and vicious, so they think God feels a selfish love for his creatures, which, because he created them, will and must save every last one of them. These ask, Could God be happy if even one of his creatures [R1254 : page 7] should die the second death?
Others, again, attributing to God the unreasoning pride, ambition and combativeness, which are still unconquered in their own hearts, ask, Do you think that the Almighty God would let himself be beaten? Can he not and will he not coerce all into obedience and everlasting life?
It is not difficult for some to see the mistake which lies back of these questions – the mistaken view of the divine character. It is difficult for others to get any other view than that which these questions represent. They have merely the selfish or depraved-human view of love and other motives, and cannot comprehend what is above their level of thought. Only such as have the mind (spirit, disposition) of Christ can truly appreciate the motives and principles upon which the divine plan is being worked out; and they are greatly in the minority. Nor should we blame or despise the majority who take the depraved, earthly, selfish view, though it is our duty to point out their errors for the sake of those who have sufficiently received the mind of Christ to be able to appreciate matters from God's standpoint. A few of the humbler ones may yet learn in the present life, but for the vast majority it will require the longer and more explicit instructions of the Millennial age.
If God were moved by selfish love and ambition, as some suppose, it would extend also to the lower animals, as the same selfish spirit in depraved men embraces not only their children but all things that are theirs. They love their horses and cows and dogs and cats, and many a human life has been lost in defence of a favorite dog or horse – the selfish love for these leading sometimes to quarrels, feuds, brawls, fights and murders. If God were influenced by this selfish love it would have plenty of room for exercise, for we must remember that he is the creator of the lower animals as truly as of man. Let us inquire then,
First. Is it true that God loves everybody, "whatever his condition," whether of wilful obedience or wilful disobedience, of sin or of righteousness, of pride or of meekness? Is this true? or is it merely the extreme view of an extreme mind, and radically untrue – a misrepresentation of the truth?
Since God is best able to speak for himself on this as on other subjects, we would best inquire of him through his Word. And first let us notice that there is a general love as well as a special love. Love of the general sort we sometimes speak of as kindness or generosity, and it is properly exercised toward even the wretched and unlovely, if they are in such a state through misfortune or ignorance, and unwillingly. General love, then, is large-hearted generosity. And since, so far as we are now competent to judge, all men are in sin and trouble unwillingly, it becomes us to have and to use and to cultivate this quality of general love of all mankind; this universal good will, and readiness to do good to all men, which is signified by the word Philanthropy. We need not add that a special love of the lovely and good and true, as of God and Christ and brethren, is also proper. What we would have all notice is, that there are two kinds of love: the intense, particular love, and the general love, or kindness. And these two sorts of love (affectionate love and loving kindness) can be traced throughout the Scriptures in reference to the love of our Lord Jesus and also of the Heavenly Father. Let us note first a few of the many statements which show the special love or affection: – Mark in the following passage God's special love (affection) for Christ Jesus and for those who come unto him through Jesus, and Christ's special love (affection) for all who have his spirit and who are truly his followers: –
"The Father loveth the Son and hath given all things into his hand." – John 3:35.
"Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life." – John 10:17.
"When Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of the world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end" (John 13:1), and sent out Judas, who had a different spirit, which he did not love. Then he said to the loved ones remaining:
"A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." (John 13:31-34.) Then promising these loved ones the Comforter, even the spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, he adds:
"He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him....If a man love me he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him." – John 14:15,21,23.
[From these words of our Lord it would appear that he is the one whose words are contradicted by the words of the tract in question – "Those who have taught you that God will love you if you will be good have meant well, but they are mistaken." What teacher is this who undertakes to criticize the great Teacher who spake as never man spake?]
"As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you; continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments ye shall continue in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love." – John 15:9,10.
"This is my commandment, That ye love one another as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants...but friends.....I have chosen you out of the world." – John 15:12-19.
Before leaving them our Lord prayed for those who had received God's word (John 17:14), and whom he called his friends, specially and affectionately loved, saying: –
"I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine....Neither pray I for these [present disciples] alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word,...that the world may believe that thou hast sent me; and hast loved them as thou hast loved me." – John 17:9-11,20-23.
Perhaps the above citations are sufficient to show, to the critical, the special or affectionate love of God for those in harmony with him; likewise the special love of Christ for the same class of "friends," and the special love that should prevail among God's children for each other in proportion as they see in each other the likeness of their Lord. For further evidence on this line see the following texts, which we will not occupy space to quote. That disciple whom Jesus [specially] loved. – John 19:26; 21:7,20.
Aside from the special love or affection for those who have characters and principles of life worthy of love, there is the general love of sympathy and pity which God and Christ exercise toward all the fallen race of men as well as toward the lower creation; and this, too, God's people are to have and to exercise. While we are to love righteousness and hate iniquity and oppose it, even to the extent of refusing to fellowship with those who continue not in the doctrine of Christ. (2 John 9-11 ), yet we should be full of sympathy toward the ignorant as well as of pity toward the wanderers. To such an extent should we exercise this sympathy and pity, that if one who is an enemy to us, or who has done or would do us harm should come under our power, we not only should do him no harm, but if in want, we should feed him. And if he be even an enemy of the cross of Christ, whose life is spent in tearing down the faith of the Gospel, we must beware that we attempt to punish such, though we should be very zealous for the truth in showing up their errors – "contending earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints." While, as the Apostle directs, such should not be treated as brethren, nor granted the affectionate love and demonstration of hospitality due to brethren, yet it is not for us to bring railing accusations, against even such, nor to attempt to say what shall be their just punishment; but if these hungered we should feed them also, and if naked we should assist in clothing them.
We are ever to remember, in dealing with others and in considering their failings and errors, that we are not now competent to judge to what extent theirs may be wilful transgressions against knowledge and ability, and to what extent they may be due to the imperfections and unbalance of mind and body inherited through the fall. Therefore, says the Apostle, judge (decide) nothing before the time, because it is written: "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord;" and therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him, because thou art not competent to decide now what measure of sentence he really deserves. We are, however, competent to decide whether or [R1255 : page 7] not his conduct is moral or immoral and we should not fellowship the immoral, even though they profess to be brethren. (1 Cor. 5:11.) And we are also competent to decide whether a teacher is leaving the doctrine of Christ and preaching another gospel, or whether he is abiding in and teaching the gospel of the cross of Christ. And such as do not abide in the doctrines of Christ and the Apostles, though they be angels from heaven, we are not to recognize longer as brothers in Christ, lest our fellowshiping of them as such cause our influence to oppose the truth and favor the error and thus make us sharers in the evil being done. But we are not to harm a hair of their heads, nor even to attempt to decide what punishment will be their due. That is God's part, not ours. While we are standing staunch for the truth, we can pity the erring, hope that their error is not wilful, and leave the matter of their future reward or punishment in the hands of him who reads the motives. Our treatment of such cases is prescribed by our Lord – "Let him be unto thee as an heathen man and as a publican." (Matt. 18:15-17.) As we would treat a heathen man with justice and kindness and the love of pity, but not with the love of affection due to a brother in Christ, so we are to treat such a one as has departed from the good tidings once delivered to the saints by our Lord and the Apostles, after doing our best to correct his error.
All who accept of Christ's atoning work are reckoned justified and at-one with God – freed from condemnation, freed from the [R1255 : page 8] curse. Such God owns as his children, and such we are to own and affectionately love as brethren. But when such reject the gospel of Christ and the Apostles – the gospel of forgiveness of sins by virtue of Christ's sacrifice – those who thus pervert the true Gospel, and attempt to put forth in its stead another gospel, are no longer to be affectionately loved as God's children but are to be pitied, as all others are to be pitied who have not escaped the condemnation that is on the world. This is Paul's doctrine clearly stated in Gal. 1:4,7,9. [R1250 : page 8]
That God's love and our love copied after his, as they relate to the world, are a different sort of love from what he and we bear toward the saints and all the household of faith, is very evident. Not that the love is of a different kind exactly, but that they are different degrees of intensity of the same quality. This is not only evident from the foregoing citations in which the special love of God for his children, those adopted into his family, is clearly specified, but it is manifest to [R1251 : page 8] all by their own experiences also. You love the whole world in the sense of pitying them all and wishing them all a better state of mind and body; but your pitying love for murderers and thieves, for the morally and physically unclean, is, or ought to be, very different from your higher and deeper love of affection for those who are well intentioned – the pure in heart.
It would as truly be an indication of your own moral uncleanness for you to love affectionately the morally polluted as for you not to love affectionately all those brethren who love righteousness. – 1 John 2:15.
God not only tells us that he loved the world, but how much he loved it, and in what way his love took shape. He did not love the sin of the world; nor were the sinful qualities of the world lovely in his sight. On the contrary, he tells us that he is angry with the wicked and that he hates evil doers. (Psa. 7:10-17; 139:21,22; Amos 5:14,15; Heb. 1:9.) He tells us to be like him in our loves and hates – to hate sin and love righteousness. He says, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." And again, "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." – 1 John 2:15; Eph. 5:11.
This testimony is perfectly harmonious – we must, as lovers of God and righteousness, have no affectionate love for evil doers, though we should charitably hope that much of the evil is the result of misinformation and inherited weaknesses, and accordingly should feel and act kindly, with pitying love toward such as are out of the way, endeavoring to bring them to righteousness. Such is God's love for the world. He saw man's distress in sin and under its penalty, death; and his pitying love provided the ransom and opened up the way for all to return unto God and be abundantly pardoned and received back into his family and helped out of sin and death to righteousness and life. So then
But in order to be just and to keep his word – that the wages of sin is death, something was needed to be done to meet the penalty that was against Adam of which all men shared the affects in that all are sinners, none being perfect or worthy of life. Would God permit his Word to be broken? Would he restore to life and favor Adam, whom he had justly sentenced to death? No. But God had taken all this into account beforehand; knowing the end from the beginning, his plans were all perfected before man's creation. He would do two things at once – he had a dearly beloved Son on the spiritual plane of existence, who was "the beginning of his creation," and the chief of all his creatures. He wanted to advance him to still higher honors and the divine nature. He would make an open display to all his intelligent creatures of how he shows favor to the obedient and humble, by testing Christ's obedience to the extremist point and then rewarding him highly – just as he had already manifested his disfavor to one (Satan) who in pride had attempted to usurp divine honors.
The redemption of man from the sentence of death would furnish an opportunity wonderfully favorable to several things: 1st, For the manifestation of the obedience of Christ and its great reward; 2nd, For the giving of another trial of life to Adam and an individual opportunity to each of his posterity; 3d, It would vindicate the law of God; and while showing his great love for men, would still maintain untarnished his absolute justice and truthfulness.
In God's due time Christ humbled himself from his higher nature and became a man, simply to carry out God's plan – to prove his full obedience and to pay man's penalty – to be a ransom or corresponding price for Adam, and by dying as his substitute to make it possible for Adam to come out of death, relieving him from the sentence of death.
Remember that the death of Christ did not change God's law. It merely removed the sentence of that law from Adam and his race, and put them under the control of Christ, the purchaser, who will discipline them and select the worthy. Thus Christ became a hope of salvation to all men, but the author of eternal salvation to those only who obey him. (Heb. 5:9.) And when his Bride, the Gospel church, has been selected, and he has taken his great power, he will begin the great work of giving knowledge and discipline to all the race, and selecting those who, by hearty obedience, shall be commended as lovers of righteousness, worthy of life everlasting.
Therefore, we see that the real good news for any and for all dates from the cross – everything before that was typical, and based on the coming reality. The good news is that, in God's goodness or grace, Christ Jesus tasted death for us, that we might be released from our death sentence and might have a chance to obtain life everlasting, by accepting of Christ as our Redeemer, and by obeying him and forsaking sin. It is for all, in the sense that no limitations are placed upon it – none are debarred from the privilege. So far as God's part is concerned, all will be done (during the Millennial reign of Christ) that justice and love can do. The knowledge of this salvation and of its conditions will be clearly and fully made known to all, and whoever fails of it will have himself to blame. There would be no means of knowing whether few or many, or none, would pass the trial of the Millennial age successfully, except for God's foreknowledge. He shows that there will be some found worthy of life and some unworthy, but does not tell us the proportions of each class; nor is it necessary for us to know this. Each for himself should, as soon as he hears it, embrace the good news of salvation from sin and death, and by faith and obedience make the blessing his.