|VOL. XII.||FEBRUARY, 1891.||NO. 2.|
The falling away from the foundation principles of the Gospel of Christ continues. It is not confined to any one denomination, either. It will soon, as the Scriptures predict, affect all classes and sects. The stars [bright ones] shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be mightily shaken before they finally pass away with great confusion, to give place to the new heavens, the spiritual ruling powers of the Millennial age.
The New York Witness seems to be awake to the fact that a great falling away is in progress, but evidently fails to grasp the real situation clearly. In an editorial on Theological Seminaries, it shows that these, instead of being bulwarks for the truth, are hot-beds of error. It deplores all desertions of "Orthodoxy," and evidently fails to see that the large proportion of error held by "Orthodoxy" is the cause for many now stumbling over and rejecting fundamental truths, such as the doctrine of the Atonement.
"A very notable manifestation of this disposition to appeal from the teaching of Scriptures to the bar of human reason was given by Bishop Fowler, of the M.E. Church, at the great Quadrennial Conference of that denomination held in this city in May, 1888. Bishop Fowler delivered a sermon on the Atonement before the Conference which was reported in full in the Christian Advocate, and that report contained the following paragraph:
"'(1) Let me be specific. No debt has been paid. It is not in the field of commercial values. (2) If it were a debt to be paid by the sufferings of Christ, then it would be already paid and there could be no further claim against the sinner. He would need no pardon. His release would be demanded by justice. But such is not the case. (3) No debt has been paid. No penalty has been inflicted. The innocent may suffer for the guilty as a mother suffers for a bad child. But it is the coarsest kind of cruelty to punish, to inflict a penalty upon the innocent for the guilty. (4) If penalty were inflicted it would be all that justice could demand: when one has endured the penalty of a crime, then he is entitled to a discharge. He does not plead for pardon, but demands a discharge. (5) It is not thinkable that guilt can be transferred to the innocent. It inheres in the party sinning. It is monstrous and unthinkable injustice to hold the innocent as guilty. The fiction of substituting a supposed penalty inflicted upon Jesus for a penalty due to the guilty must be revolting to all sense of justice. (6) Guilt could not be transferred. Penalty could not be inflicted upon the innocent. Penalty inflicted at all must be upon the guilty, and then pardon would be impossible. There would be nothing to pardon. (7) No penalty has been inflicted.'
"We called special attention to this paragraph at the time, and doubtless it was observed by many others both in and out of the Methodist communion, yet we have never heard of any special notice having been taken of it by the [R1285 : page 18] authorities of the Methodist Church, or of any determined protest against it on the part of the official organs of that body."
It is certainly astounding to find such a wholesale falling away; for silence on the part of the others present at that great Conference, which [R1286 : page 18] represented every Methodist of the United States, gave the tacit consent of all to this denial of the foundation principles of Christianity. But though astounding, this is only in harmony with the Lord's testimony that in this "evil day" a thousand shall fall to one who will stand.
We have numbered the various propositions in the above declaration by Bishop Fowler of his lack of faith, in order that we may the more conveniently examine and criticize each proposition separately. Let us see how the bishop's statements coincide with "the faith once delivered to the saints."
(1) In this pointed, unmistakable statement of his position the gentleman's candor is to be appreciated. Nowhere does honesty show to better advantage than in a theological discussion, where so many writers and speakers feel free to handle not only the Word of God but also the English language deceitfully in order to gloss and cover a portion of their views.
(2) In his second proposition, while reasoning well, the bishop falls into a difficulty from not being familiar enough with the Scriptural presentation of the subject. He is quite correct in reasoning that if man's debt were paid and canceled, there could be no further just claim against any, and that justice, instead of still following the sinner, demanding repentance, etc., as conditions of life, would be bound to demand that all whose debt was canceled should be set free at once, and unconditionally.
But this is not the Scriptural presentation of the subject. The sinner's debt was not canceled but it was transferred or made over to our Lord Jesus, who assumed our debt, paid our penalty, BOUGHT US. He therefore, instead of freeing us, owns us; by virtue of having paid in full the claims of justice against us. True, he bought us in order to free us, but the purchase and the freeing are entirely distinct and separate transactions.
The transaction between our Lord Jesus and the Heavenly Father, "finished" at Calvary, was indeed a transaction in which mankind was deeply interested, since it had special reference to their release from sin, condemnation and death; but man was not in any sense a party to that transaction. By giving himself a ransom for all, by paying to Justice the full penalty due from Adam – the one original culprit recognized and condemned by Justice, and the one through whom all his posterity suffered loss – the claim of Justice was indeed satisfied, but not as some have assumed by a credit of the sinners' account – thus: "The debt of Adam is hereby canceled, and he and his posterity are set free from all penalty." On the contrary, the transaction on the books of Justice would read thus – "This account against Adam and his race has been sold and assigned in full to the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave therefor the full, corresponding price."
Thus seen, the sinner is not freed from sin or condemnation or death by the work "finished" at Calvary. What there occurred was a satisfaction of Justice which removed the legal barrier which, unless removed, would have prevented and estopped any recovery of man. Justice is the foundation of God's government (Psa. 97:2), and his love could not operate in violation of his justice.
The statement of the Scriptures is that the world still lieth in wickedness, that the original condemnation, which passed upon all men through Adam's transgression, is still upon all except the few, who, accepting forgiveness through Christ, have escaped the condemnation that is on the world. – 1 John 5:19; 2 Pet. 1:4; Rom. 8:1.
If we knew no more than this of God's plan we would have little cause to rejoice; but, thank God, he has revealed to us the object of the transfer of our debt to the great Messiah who [R1286 : page 19] by his sacrifice redeemed us and transferred our cause from the tribunal of Justice to the tribunal of Grace. That transaction, in which we had no part, was to open up the way, by which God could be just and yet justify and restore to his favor those whom he had justly sentenced as unworthy of life or other favors. The case is thus put into such a state that God may justly show mercy to the sinners.
As the representative of the Father and his plan, our Lord Jesus, the purchaser of the claims of Justice, will offer pardon, reconciliation and restoration to all that was lost, to all the race whose ransom-price he paid. He bought them for the very purpose of setting them free; but he has a time and an order and a method for presenting his gracious offer to all. And he will offer it to none unconditionally. The conditions, always the same, are faith and loving obedience. These are the conditions of the New Covenant which he sealed for all with his precious blood [his sacrificed life] – that any of the race who will to do so may through him return to fellowship with God and to everlasting life.
This same principle of dealing with a debtor is in vogue to-day. If a man has a judgment against him for a thousand dollars, and a friend step forward and purchase that judgment, the debtor is not thereby freed from the debt; but after the purchase he owes the sum to the friend who bought the judgment; and it is for that friend to say upon what terms the debt may be forgiven or canceled. To this agree the words of the Apostles. "Ye are not your own – ye are bought with a price, even the precious blood of Christ." "The man Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom [a corresponding price] for all, to be testified in due time." But he did not release all: on the contrary, he arranged that there should be but one way for any to get free, and that is by faith in his sacrifice, and under the terms of the New Covenant which he made and sealed and ratified with his blood [his sacrificed life]. Yes, declares the Apostle, For to this end Christ both died and rose again, that he might be Lord [master, owner] both of the dead and living. – Rom. 14:9.
But he did not desire to own and to rule mankind for any selfish purpose, but for their good – that he might discipline, instruct and ultimately restore all who, under his discipline, will come into harmony with the will of Jehovah. Such he will restore to the full liberty proper to sons of God [on whatever plane of being], but never granted to any rebellious creatures.
"If the Son make you free, ye shall be free indeed," is a statement which shows at once that all were not made free by the death of Christ, but that by his death he legally purchased us, so that he can righteously bestow life and freedom upon all who apply for these blessings on his reasonable terms.
(3) Proposition third we dispute. The debt has been paid so far as Justice is concerned; for though we are still debtors, our obligation is toward our Redeemer, who, by reason of the claims of Justice being settled, is now in position to forgive or pardon all who come unto God by him. The legal barrier to our emancipation has been removed, though the great work of emancipation has not been effected, as it will be, for all those who will accept of freedom on the terms dictated by the wise and loving Judge who bought the right to free us with his own precious blood. The love of God has arranged a way by which he who justly sentenced mankind to destruction can maintain his justice and yet grant them reconciliation and eternal life through the Redeemer – "to all those who obey him." The very penalty that had been pronounced against the human family, namely, "death," "destruction," has been paid by our Redeemer: "He died for our sins." "He died, the just for the unjust." "Jehovah hath let fall upon him the chastisement of us all." He became a man for the very purpose of giving this, our only ransom-price, and he gave it once and forever. The man Christ Jesus is dead forever: he gave himself a ransom for all. Though put to death in the flesh, he was not quickened (resurrected) in the flesh, but in spirit; he was sown a natural body, he was raised a spiritual body. Though we have known Christ after the flesh, henceforth [R1286 : page 20] we know him so no more. We now know him as the (quickening) life-giving Spirit, the express image of the Father's person and of the divine nature. Our ransom-price, the man Christ Jesus is in destruction, in death, as our substitute before Justice, in order that all that are in their graves and under the sentence of death may, in God's due time, go free, under the terms of the New Covenant. He gave himself as a man, and, thank God, never took back the price. His resurrection by the Father, on a higher plane of being, in no way invalidates the ransom given. The innocent did suffer for the guilty, voluntarily, freely, lovingly, just as a mother sometimes suffers and denies herself proper comforts to pay the fine of a law-breaking son. And it is a gross injustice to fair argument as well as a libel upon God's Word to infer that he compelled our sinless Lord to suffer for man the penalty of man's sin. Justice could not and did not compel; but it did permit and it did immensely reward (Phil. 2:9) the Lord's willing sacrifice.
(4) The fourth proposition is conceded so far as our Lord Jesus, our substitute, is concerned. He paid the full price and no more can be required of him. But this argument does not apply to men at all, because Justice was not dealing with men but with Christ Jesus, our substitute, who, having paid the price, now owns us, and may do what he will with his own. God accepted of Jesus' death as the full, equivalent or corresponding price for Adam's guilt; and the case is no longer under the control of inexorable justice. If absolute justice had jurisdiction, it would condemn all, because all are imperfect and actually unworthy of life everlasting. But God's purpose in the [R1287 : page 20] work of redemption was to transfer man's case from the bar of justice and to provide for all another trial additional to the one lost for all by father Adam. And thus it is written, that though the Father had tried and sentenced Adam, and had now provided for the redemption in Christ, all future trial of the imperfect fallen race shall be conducted by the Son, our Lord Jesus, who bought all with his own precious blood. – John 5:22.
(5) Proposition fifth is an uncandid, unfair statement. No theologian is excusable for ignorance of the fact that the Scriptures everywhere teach that, instead of the penalty of sin being "inflicted" upon our Redeemer, our Lord Jesus gladly and freely gave himself as our ransom, in harmony with the Father's gracious plan, with which he was most fully in accord. "Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses." He truly declared, "No man taketh my life from me; I lay it down of myself." – John 10:18.
(6) Proposition sixth we dispute upon the strength of the decision of the supreme court and highest standard of Justice. The Judge of all judges, Jehovah himself, has rendered his decision upon the question at issue. He has decided that both guilt and righteousness can be transferred under certain conditions. True, God has not decided that an unrepentant rebel and wilful sinner can be declared and accepted as righteous, when he is unrighteous to the core, not subject to the law of God, etc.; but he has decided that, inasmuch as the ransom-price for all hereditary sin has been paid by the Redeemer, any of the redeemed who have only this entailed or hereditary sin in them, and are not at heart antagonists of God and righteousness, may be considered to have had their sins imputed to the great Sin-bearer, and, receiving the imputation of the merit of their Redeemer's sacrifice, may be released from condemnation as sinners and receive the favor of God as sons. He who knew no sin was made sin for us [a sin-sacrifice or sin-offering], that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Cor. 5:21.) In consequence we are told that we may reckon the righteousness of Christ as imputed to us, though our present attainment is not to righteousness; we are reckoned as though we possessed the full, complete righteousness which is offered us in Christ and to which we shall fully attain in the resurrection, if we follow on to know and to obey our Redeemer. Our sins were laid upon him and his righteousness is by faith imputed to us.
(7) "No penalty has been inflicted" says the bishop. Ah! where has he lived on this sin-cursed [R1287 : page 21] earth that he has never seen evidences of the infliction of the penalty. "The wrath of God is revealed against all unrighteousness," says the Apostle; how can the bishop have escaped it? Possibly he has gotten his theological ideas so confused that he does not recognize the evidences of God's wrath, the evidences of the infliction of the penalty? Let us suggest to him that whenever he sees a funeral procession he is a witness of the infliction of the penalty which God pronounced against sin: "The wages of sin is death." Whenever we witness a death, or pain and suffering, which are but parts of the dying process, we have seen the wrath of God revealed in the very way and of the very kind the Scriptures describe.
The trouble lies with a false theology which makes void the word of God by its false theories and philosophies; which declares that death is not death but a more abundant entrance into life. Having thus disposed of the real enemy and the real manifestation of God's wrath, and having pronounced it their friend, despite every instinct of sense and reason, and in opposition to God's Word, many feel called upon to make some other wrath and some other penalty for sin, and so turn and twist out of symbolic passages and parables a doctrine of an everlasting torment, either physical in flames, or what some declare worse, an endless mental torment.
It is this "orthodox" penalty for sin for which the bishop has failed to find a place, either in reason or in Scripture; and failing to recognize the real, just and reasonable penalty, he declares that no penalty has been inflicted. The fact is that the bishop, like many others, is drifting into Infidelity.
The only cure for this is the truth. Let death, the real penalty, be recognized, and it will soon be seen that this is just what our Redeemer paid for Adam and his race; and that it was a corresponding price, and met fully the penalty against the race. Let this be recognized and the light will soon stream in, showing that the due time must come when all shall be brought in contact with the privileges of reconciliation to God and restitution to human perfection in his likeness. Let this be seen, and the necessity for the resurrection will be recognized, and the Kingdom of God will be recognized as God's agency for bringing all the promised blessings to his redeemed creatures, to afford all a full opportunity to attain life everlasting. Then, too, the selection of the Kingdom class will be seen – how God is now bringing, through much tribulation and trial of faith, obedience and love, the "little flock" of saints who, as the bride of Christ, will be his joint-heirs in the Millennial Kingdom.
Well, the bishops are not generally so ready or willing to hear as some of the humbler ones of God's people. But let those who see the light, like Gideon's faithful band, blow the trumpet and break their vessels, and let the light shine out. The victory is not so very near, but it is sure. Press nobly on, ye soldiers of the cross: –
"The heavenly race demands thy zeal,
And an immortal crown."
The Anniversary of our Lord's "Last Supper," as reckoned by Jewish method of calculation, will this year fall on Tuesday evening, April 21st. It will be more fully announced in our next issue. All who can do so are cordially invited to meet and celebrate with us in Allegheny. A few days of conference and Bible study will precede and follow the supper. Railroads will give two-thirds rates. Particulars in March TOWER.
Our meetings are held in Bible House Chapel, Arch Street, Allegheny, Pa. Readers and friends will be warmly welcomed. Preaching every Lord's-day afternoon at 3 o'clock. A Social Meeting at 7:15 p.m. is followed by a Question Meeting at 8 o'clock, at which all reverent Bible questions are entertained.
Once I heard a sweet voice say,
"Come to me: I am the way;"
Then I was a sheep astray,
Fainting in the heat of day.
Mountains high my vision bound;
Desert sands lay all around;
Drink, nor food, could there be found!
Naught sprang from the parched ground.
Wearily I turned my head
O'er the way my path had led.
Surely, 'twas a voice, I said,
Yet of feet I heard no tread.
Like the mocking of a dream
When the thoughts with fancies teem,
Making things that are not seem
Pleasant as a cooling stream: –
So, the voice I heard behind,
More than gentle, more than kind,
Seemed to float upon the wind –
Bringing solace to my mind.
Soft again, and low and clear
As the accents seraphs hear,
Came the whisper to my ear,
"I will help thee, do not fear."
Look! the bread; the water springs!
All the barren desert sings!
Haste thee! on love's wide-spread wings
Tell the grace my message brings.
Gird on thee thine armor bright!
I, thy Captain, lead the fight;
Up, and battle with thy might!
God will guard and keep thee right.
Gather to my fold the sheep;
Gather lambs, that I may keep;
Let them sing for joy and leap:
None shall hunger more, nor weep.
Beasts of prey, nor serpent's charm,
Ne'er my homeward flocks shall harm,
Nor my tender lambs alarm;
All their foes will I disarm.
From the hills shall rivers flow
Through the verdant vales below;
From Mount Zion light shall go;
All the flock one Shepherd know.
In and out his voice shall lead,
Able to supply each need;
In the pastures green to feed,
Or to rest in blooming mead.
"The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." – John 14:30.
Our Lord's reference here is to the great adversary of God and deceiver of men who for six thousand years past has pursued a course of systematic opposition to, and defiance of, the Almighty Jehovah, the great Emperor of the universe. He is elsewhere called the prince of the power of the air, and that old serpent which is the devil and Satan. He is also called Beelzebub, the prince of devils. – Matt. 12:24.
Every reference to him represents him as an intelligent being of great power and influence, and as an ambitious leader. Yet in the beginning of his existence he was pure and perfect, an intelligent creature of God, created through the agency of his only begotten Son, without whom nothing was made that was made. (John 1:3.) Previous to his fall into sin he is spoken of as Lucifer, a morning star [a glorious being of creation's early morning].
Referring to his fall, the Lord, who declares that he has no pleasure in the death of him that falleth into sin and the condemnation to death (Ezek. 18:32), says, "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!" Then he shows that undue ambition was the cause of his fall, saying, "For thou hast said in thine heart, Into heaven [the position of power] will I ascend; above the stars of God [other sons of the morning] will I exalt my throne; and I will sit also upon the mount of the assembly in the farthest end of the north [universal dominion]; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be equal to the Most High." – Isa. 14:12-14.
Thus, instead of humbly and thankfully appreciating the favor of God which brought him [R1288 : page 23] into existence and crowned him with glory and honor as a bright star of creation's early morning, and, instead of returning due filial reverence, love and submission to his righteous will, this being cultivated a spirit of pride until his rising ambition aspired first to be a leader and chief of the other stars of the morning (the position already filled by the only begotten Son of God – John 1:1-3; Col. 1:15-17), and finally to outrival the Most High himself, as king of the universe.
How different was the course of him who was actually above the morning stars – the only begotten Son from the bosom of the Father, and his honored and exalted agent in the creation of all things – not only of all the physical universe, but of all the intelligences as well. Of him we read that, "though being in a form of God [a mighty one], yet he did not meditate a usurpation, but [on the contrary] divested himself [of his glory], taking a bondman's form, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself [yet more] and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
"Wherefore," says the Apostle, [because of his humility] "God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, both of things in heaven and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Phil. 2:6-11.) Thus, in accordance with a principle which God has laid down – that he will abase the proud and exalt the humble (Matt. 23:12; Jas. 4:6) – we see our Lord Jesus now exalted to the very position to which Satan through pride and ambition aspired and which he sought to attain, while Satan has been degraded, "cut down [or limited] to the earth" (Isa. 14:12), and sentenced to final destruction.
Satan evidently had no faith in God's power, or perhaps in his willingness, to destroy him under any circumstances. Reasoning from the facts of his long continued existence and his unimpaired powers without any evidence of approaching dissolution, he concluded that his life could not be terminated. Consequently his ambitious schemes for power and dominion were deep laid and far reaching, having, as he supposed, ample time for full development.
His ambitious policy seems to have begun to take shape immediately after the creation of man, through whose posterity, as they should multiply and attain the grand possibilities which he saw before them, he thought he saw his opportunity for the gratification of his hopes – for laying the foundation of his future dominion. And when he realized the restraint placed upon him which limited the sphere of his influence to the earth, he seems to have determined to make the most of his opportunities among men.
From the promise of deliverance to mankind through the coming deliverer, he learned that a plan was already formed, the intended outcome of which was to be the triumph of the Son of God, whom he regarded with jealous hatred as a mighty rival. It surely was no part of his original policy to prostrate the race in death; and when to Eve he contradicted the threat of Jehovah, and declared, "Ye shall not surely die," he probably believed the lie, having first deceived himself, as most deceivers do. His object, seemingly, was to transfer man's allegiance from God to himself; and the death-penalty pronounced and executed upon the race was, we believe, an unlooked-for frustration of his plans. With this thought in mind, we see a continuation of the same line of policy, and an effort to outwit the Almighty, on the part of Satan, in the introduction of a new element among men, when some of the angels, under his seductive influence, were induced to leave their first estate and to assume and retain the human form and take to themselves wives of the daughters of men (Gen. 6:1,2,4; Jude 6,7), thus imparting a new life principle to the Adamic stock, the result of which was a race of "mighty men of renown," who, presumably, might live forever. This was a desperate and masterly stroke of policy; but again God put forth his power and frustrated the scheme, destroying with a flood the whole mongrel race, and preserving [R1288 : page 24] only Noah with his family, who was "perfect in his generation;" that is, he was of pure, unmixed Adamic stock. – Gen. 6:9.
But, nothing daunted, the defiant rebel began his work among the sons of Noah after the flood, and with varying success has pursued his policy among the kingdoms of this world. And God has not specially interfered, and will not, until the end of this present evil world, when his time will have come for the setting up of Christ's kingdom. Then, he declares, Satan shall be firmly fettered and imprisoned for a thousand years. His policy during the period termed "this present evil world" – from the flood to the dawn of the Millennium – has been on the same line of scheming for power. Ever working in the hearts of the children of disobedience, he has always kept a majority in power who were not lovers of God and righteousness, as the pages of history fully attest; and working through the ambitions and selfishness of men, he has overturned kingdoms and revolutionized society with reckless indifference to the woes and miseries of men, in establishing his own dominion as "the prince of this world."
To this our Lord referred when, just previous to his crucifixion, he said to his disciples, "Hereafter I will not talk much with you, for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." All along he had been in the world, and had been plotting and scheming and manipulating the affairs of men; but soon he was to come in the power of his kingdom, which we have seen to be the counterfeit kingdom of Christ, which was actually set up in the year 800 of the Christian era under the name of "The Holy Roman Empire." "Hereafter" – after his death and resurrection – earth's rightful prince would have little to say; he would not interfere with the workings of the mystery of iniquity; he would permit the prince of this world to plot and scheme and develop his plans for setting up his counterfeit kingdom and do what he could to frustrate the plan of the Almighty for the establishment of Christ's Kingdom.
From the pages of history we see how his kingdom was set up on a foundation of error, and how it was established on the basest principles of unrighteousness, with fire and fagot and sword and every device of torture wherewith to crush out truth and righteousness. And on the other hand, we see with what cunning craft he has endeavored to ensnare, entrap and lead astray; or, failing in this, to persecute the embryo kingdom of God, the Christian Church, both the Head, Christ Jesus, and all the members of his body. But when God's time for the establishment of Christ's kingdom has come, Satan's kingdom will be brought to naught as suddenly and as effectually as was his former purpose at the time of the flood.
And even after the Millennial reign of Christ, notwithstanding the manifest futility of all his past endeavors, his ambition, even then, will lead to an attempt to establish some measure of authority and influence among men. When, under the reign of Christ, the resurrection of the dead is accomplished, and when Satan is loosed for a little season (Rev. 20:7), he will see a new avenue to the success of his long-cherished ambition, and be inspired with a fresh hope that his original purpose may yet be accomplished and that victory may very shortly be his. Then he will see not merely a perfect human pair with power to produce a mighty race destined to live forever, but the race completed and restored to life and vigor. His thought will be, If I can win this mighty race to my standard, my triumph and exaltation will be speedily accomplished. Again, therefore, he will figure as a leader, though, as now, unrecognized by men. Doubtless the temptation will again rest upon his old doctrine – that they shall not surely die, even if they do disregard and oppose the will of God. And those among men in whom the goodness of God has not wrought the spirit of humility and filial submission to his acknowledged superior wisdom, but, on the contrary, in whom pride has asserted itself, will easily be deceived and led into this error of believing that God either cannot or will not destroy them in a second death. And God will let him work for a little season, and no doubt he will work with all the zeal which a hope of speedy victory would naturally inspire. But he shall not succeed beyond [R1288 : page 25] the point which God permits for the final testing of mankind to prove who are worthy and who are unworthy of everlasting life. When this is accomplished, then follows the destruction of Satan and all who follow his leading.
Thus discerning the general policy of our great adversary, we are enabled the better to understand his various devices and to discover his secret workings, and hence we should be the better guarded against his influence. In all his plottings and workings we see the evidence of an intellectuality which, though like the human, is far superior to it in power and scope, and with resources upon which to draw which are beyond the range of the human powers. Before the mind's eye, as represented in the Word of God, he stands out as a great intellectual giant, with an accumulation of at least more than six thousand years of knowledge and experience. What a mighty foe for poor fallen humanity to combat, with our present brief experience of threescore years and ten, and that in a degenerating and dying condition.
He is full of ambition for self-exaltation, puffed up with arrogant pride which so over-estimates his own greatness that he considers himself worthy of the honor, power and glory of the God who gave him being, and is moved with merciless and continuous envy and hatred of the Son of God, as well as of the Heavenly Father who exalted him; and his whole career is untiringly devoted to his own ambitions and to the frustration of the divine plans, which he vainly presumes to accomplish. In the pursuance of his policy he is utterly reckless of its cost to humanity. Men in whose hearts he can work are so many tools in his hands whom he uses to oppose the principles of righteousness and truth. (Eph. 2:2.) For the accomplishment of his purposes there is no measure of hypocrisy which he would spurn (2 Cor. 11:14), no depth of iniquity to which he would not descend (John 13:27; 2 Thes. 2:9,10), no measure of cruelty that he would spare, and no height of folly to which he would not lead his deluded victims. He is a hypocrite, a deceiver, a tyrant and a merciless enemy of all who stand in the way of his ambitions. Look out for him! He will dog your steps; he will blind your eyes; he will stop your ears; he will fetter and handcuff and mentally chain you to his chariot-wheels, if you beware not of him. He it is who now "has the dominion of death" – whose power is manifest throughout the earth among those under condemnation to death. Here he goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Pet. 5:8.) In the great papal system, the most complete representative of his policy, his lionlike strength has most fully appeared, and his lionlike jaws have greedily devoured every interest of his deluded victims, while with the fires of persecution he has sought to devour in another sense the faithful few, who, despite his roaring anathemas, have bravely withstood his power. But nevertheless his days are numbered and his end is sure; for it is written that God will destroy him "holding the dominion of death" [not the eternal dominion and glory and power to which he aspired, but an ignominious dominion amid sin and death over poor fallen humanity], that is, the devil. – Heb. 2:14. – Rotherham.
As children of God, therefore, in the midst of Satan's dominion and in opposition to his power, let us beware "lest Satan should get an advantage of us [through one or another of the numerous snares he has set for our feet]; for we are not ignorant of his devices." (2 Cor. 2:11.) "Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil; for we wrestle not against flesh and blood. [There are mighty invisible powers under the leadership of the prince of this world plotting to accomplish the stumbling of the feet of the body of Christ, and flesh and blood are only used as tools for that purpose by the great adversary], but [we wrestle] against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" [in places of authority and power]. (Eph. 6:12.) Yet, if well armed with the whole armor which God supplies, and following our Captain's leading, we are safe; for greater is he that is for us than all that are against us.
"Ye are the light of the world;...let your light shine....Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled."
"Whosoever therefore shall break one of these commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
"For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." – Matt. 5:14-20.
Our Lord's sermon on the mount, from which these words are chosen for our present consideration, was a most remarkable discourse for its simplicity and its weighty import. From beginning to end there are in it no attempts at literary embellishment, nor oratory, nor flights of fancy to please and entertain. His object was to instruct; and he did so in the most simple and forcible language. It will be observed, too, that he did not on this occasion seek a public place where the largest audience could be gathered; but, on the contrary, he chose a place of retirement where he could be alone with his disciples. The multitudes had thronged about him to witness his miracles and to hear his words, and he had healed their sicknesses and taught them many things, but this discourse was one specially designed for the disciples, the household of faith. And here it has been faithfully recorded, that its instructions may extend to the entire household, even to the end of the age. So while we consider these words of our Lord, we may almost realize that in company with Peter and James and John, and many of the brethren and sisters of the early church, we, too, are sitting on the grassy slopes of the mountain side and hearing the words as they fall from the lips of the greatest preacher the world has ever known. And as we turn away from the hallowed spot, let us not be forgetful hearers, but let us treasure up the words of life; let them sink deep into our hearts and bring forth their rich fruitage unto eternal life.
This fragment of our Lord's discourse indicates a responsibility toward the truth received which it is feared many Christians do not carefully observe and consider. Mark the expression, "Ye are the light of the world;...let your light shine." And again he said, "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world;"..."he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 9:5; 8:12.) And now, instructed and enlightened from his Word, he would have us remember that we, as his representatives, are the light of the world, and that we should keep our light constantly trimmed and burning – that we must let our light shine so that those following us may not walk in darkness.
Light is a symbol of truth both in the Scriptures and in common parlance. So the expression, "Ye are the light of the world;...let your light shine," is equivalent to saying – "You are now so illuminated by the truth that you yourself have become a living representative of the truth. So do not in any way obscure it, but let it shine out more and more, that others may be similarly blessed by it." This truth is "the light of life;" it is what the world needs – what all must have before they can attain unto everlasting life. Men must know the truth before the truth can make them free from the bondage of sin and death; they must know the truth before the truth can cleanse and sanctify them. It is the will of God, therefore, that all men shall come to an accurate knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim. 2:4.) And therefore it is the duty of every child of God to be very active in the dissemination of the truth – in letting his light shine, and in keeping it trimmed and burning.
"'Trimmed and burning!' 'trimmed and burning!'" says some thoughtful soul. "I have often sung with fervor those words, 'Let the lower lights be burning,' 'Trim your lamps,' [R1287 : page 27] etc., but what does it mean?" It means that we must give very close attention to the words of life that we may come to an exact knowledge of the truth, and that we must carefully and faithfully trim away every vestige of error as fast as it becomes apparent to us – whether it be an error in doctrine or in our daily walk and conversation – so that the pure light of divine truth may shine out with as little obstruction as possible through the medium of a clear and transparent character.
It is a lamentable fact that many of the Lord's children seem very indifferent to this matter of trimming their lights. They get some truth and with it a great deal of error, and instead of trying to eliminate the error, they hold and teach the two together, so that the light they shed is not a pure light, but is colored and distorted by the error with which it is mixed. And again, even when much pure truth is held, there are those who fail to let it have its cleansing effect upon the character, and so the light is obscured and misrepresented by the unclean medium through which it passes. Any who continue thus to hold the sacred trust of truth are really unworthy of it, and must eventually lose it; for it is written, "Light [truth] is sown for the righteous;" and such indifference to the claims of the truth is unrighteous.
In our Lord's day there were those who openly professed to be teachers and representatives of divine truth. The scribes and pharisees professed to be very zealous for the truth, and thought themselves very creditable manifestations of its cleansing power. They claimed to have the light and to be letting it shine. "God," said the pharisee, "I thank thee that I am not as other men....I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all I possess." But the Lord said, "Woe unto you;...ye outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and deceit." So they appeared in the Lord's sight; but they were reverenced and honored of men and esteemed as holy and as guides in the way of truth and holiness. To God's law they presumed to add their own vain and foolish traditions which made void the law of God, and they were very zealous in teaching those traditions to the people.
In so doing those teachers were inexcusable. The law of God was open before them, and it was their privilege and their duty to be correctly informed with reference to it. And especially after Christ had come, and by his teaching had made the truth so manifest, and the absurdity of their vain traditions so apparent, they were without excuse. And our Lord's accusation of hypocrisy well fitted their case when they resolutely determined to hold and teach the traditions of the elders and to oppose the increasing light of truth which made their absurdity so manifest.
The scribes and pharisees had much truth: they had the whole law of God and claimed to believe and teach it, but they miserably colored and distorted it by their traditions and their really ignoble though whitewashed characters. And consequently their efforts, professedly to convert men to God, resulted only in making more hypocrites like themselves.
Let us beware of that kind of righteousness which to men may indeed appear fair and praiseworthy, but which, in God's estimation, is mere sham and hypocrisy. God, who reads the heart, quickly discerns the motives with which we receive or disseminate the truth; and foolish indeed is the man who attempts to make merchandise of this divine treasure for the paltry gains of this fleeting life, who prefers to hold and to teach error and becloud or oppose the truth of God, or to sell it after having once accepted it, for money, or influence, or popularity among his dying fellow-travelers on the way to the tomb, or for any consideration whatever.
And yet there are some who, though they do not thus hypocritically make merchandise of the truth, do in a measure undervalue it, and who, both in the present and in the future, will be the losers thereby. If we permit prejudice, or [R1287 : page 28] some measure of self-emulation, or of pride, or of combativeness, or any other thing, to interrupt the freedom of artless candor and simplicity and that spirit of meekness which alone befits the searchers after truth, we will find ourselves approaching the pharisaical spirit which, when fully ripe, is glaring hypocrisy. Those who avoid such a disposition and who therefore in meekness and sincerity fully accept the truth and zealously teach it at any cost or sacrifice, the Lord says, shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven; while those who hold and teach a measure of error when it was their privilege to have clear truth, had they been in the right condition of heart to receive it, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven. – Matt. 5:19.
Prejudices and various old deformities of disposition often greatly retard the progress of some of God's sincerely consecrated children; and in consequence, their efforts, which are verily meant to be in God's service, are misdirected, and they are found both believing and teaching contrary to the truth on points where God's Word is very explicit. Let us beware of these things, and, diligently casting behind us every hindrance to our personal progress in the way of truth and to our usefulness in the Master's service, let us run with patience, with meekness and diligence the race set before us, looking unto Jesus, who has said, "My grace is sufficient for thee. My strength is made perfect in weakness."
DEAR BROTHER: – Your favor of the 19th ult. was duly received and read with care. I see that we are entirely apart on our bases of interpretation of the Scriptures, you evidently endorsing what is known as the "Futurist System" in reading the Apocalypse.
You state that you have examined Volume I. of MILLENNIAL DAWN very carefully, and yet you say that "one fundamental error which runs through the whole system of interpretation of the Scriptures in this volume is the denial of eternal punishment." If by eternal punishment you mean "everlasting torture in both mind and body forever," you are correct. And permit me to say right here that I believe no system of Bible interpretation can more completely and thoroughly "deny the Father and the Son" than such a one as this, which has been the foundation for all the horrible doings of Papacy. By ascribing to our loving, wise, just and powerful God and to his beloved Son, Jesus Christ, the qualities and attributes of the devil, this system has thoroughly and completely "denied the Father, and the Son," and no other teachings so thoroughly make void the glories of the ransom, in which Christ "tasted death for every man." Permit me to say further, that while these writings do deny such an interpretation of the Bible, they clearly and logically set forth that "the wages of sin is death," and that those who will not be subservient to the Lord when they understand him and his work in their "due time" – which for his "body" is during the reign of evil now closing, and for the world is when he comes to reign and when he establishes his Millennial Kingdom – will "be punished with everlasting destruction" – annihilation.
We differ from you, not on the duration of the punishment, but its character. I believe that God's gift is life, and that those who will not accept it upon his condition of obedience to his righteous will, will have it withdrawn and will enter into death – utter loss of life. I further believe that Christ is the Mediator between God and men, and that the man Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified (to all) in due time. There is no fact plainer in history than that but a very small portion of the human race has ever yet heard of the name of Christ, and hence I believe that the "due time" for the great majority of mankind to hear and to act on the glad tidings must be after the resurrection. In a word, I believe Christ's death to be the foundation on which, through resurrection, God will establish a kingdom on earth "in which will dwell righteousness," and that the time for this kingdom is during the Millennium.
As a believer in our Lord Jesus and the import of his death, you cannot afford, my dear [R1287 : page 29] Brother, not to lay aside every prejudice and carefully consider, Bible in hand, the line of teaching set forth in the volumes which I sent you.
I have looked over the tract, entitled "Eternal Punishment," which you sent me, and must confess that I have never seen so much twisting, warping and stretching of the Scriptures in so small a space before.
Hoping that you will accept my views in the same spirit of love in which they are presented, and that you will give the truths set forth in "MILLENNIAL DAWN" careful, prayerful study, Bible in hand, proving all things, holding fast that which is good,
I am yours in the service of Christ,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I take the liberty of writing a few words to you to tell you how we are getting along here in the far west. We are a little flock here of four families, or nine members, which meet together every Sunday and try to build us up in the most holy truth. And, thank the Lord, we can say that we have been greatly blessed, and he has been in the midst of us as he has promised his disciples, and the TOWER is a great help to us to bring us to many facts; and as some of us cannot read English, we translate for each other, and we have the Bible by the side of the TOWER, and we have not found anything yet that has been contrary to the Bible. Thank the Lord! And thanks to him that he has considered us worthy to show us such important truth. But how sorry we are that we cannot do more in helping to spread the truth.
We are farmers, and we had a total failure of crops this year, and we have all we can do to get along over the winter. But God is rich in grace and mercy. And we hope he will have forbearance with us as he can see to the heart, and see our willingness. The only thing we can do is to pray to God and the Lord Jesus Christ that he will bless your work and open willing hearts who have the money to help spread the truth. There were a good many that walked with us for a while, but they "stumbled on that stumbling-stone" which Paul speaks about. But we shall not wander. Jesus had seventy disciples once, but when he spoke about the bread of life they said, "Hard is this saying; who can hear it?" And from that time many of his disciples withdrew and walked no longer with him. Many say and do the same now-a-day when they hear the blessed truth. God help us all!
I must close for this time. I am a poor writer in the English language, and I don't know whether you can understand me. Please find inclosed $1.25 as payment for the TOWER for 1891, and one copy of MILLENNIAL DAWN Vol. I., and one hundred missionary envelopes.
May God's grace be on us forever. Amen. I am your brother in the salvation,
I received January number last night and quickly noticed the new suit in which the TOWER is clothed. I feel sure that the improvement will be greatly appreciated by its readers. The emblem of the cross and crown is an appropriate and beautiful design to be worn by the TOWER. Its presence should ever encourage, sustain and comfort the household of faith. It should also be a warning or reminder; for as the cross and crown are inseparable in the design, so the two are to be inseparably associated in the experience of the overcomers. If we would wear the crown we must bear the cross.
I saw in the New York World a few days ago an article called "In behalf of the Hebrews." It stated that a movement had been inaugurated in Chicago in behalf of the Russian Hebrews, by W. F. Blackstone, who was chairman of the conference between Christians and Jews recently held in that city. It is to get up a petition to President Harrison and Secretary Blaine, asking them to use their good offices to secure the holding of an international conference, to consider the condition of the Hebrews, and to give them Palestine on the same principle that Bulgaria and other Turkish provinces have been given to their national owners. And it stated that the petition had already been signed by hundreds of representive citizens, including Protestants, Catholics, Jews, business men, city and government officials. It is endorsed by the entire secular and religious press of Chicago. It is stated that Mr. Blackstone will soon come east, to give New York and other eastern cities an opportunity to join the undertaking. [R1288 : page 30]
This movement seems to fulfil the prophecy of Jer. 16:14-21. And I think that Mr. Blackstone is one of the fishers, and that the Czar of Russia is one of the hunters spoken of. This movement should cause much rejoicing to the watchmen. Let us lift up our heads, for our redemption draweth nigh. Yours cordially,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I don't know just when my subscription ends, but will send the money now so as not to miss a number, as I should much rather miss a Thanksgiving dinner than a TOWER. I often wish it were a weekly, and yet I think it is far too rich food to be partaken of too often. I find spiritual food needs time for digestion as well as bodily food; and I read them over and over, and get more benefit from them the second or third time than the first. I have read 1st and 2nd Vols. of DAWN, I think about six times, and if I could not get others I would not take ten dollars apiece for them; but as much as I prize them I have not succeeded in getting any one interested in them. They look it over a little and throw it aside as indifferently as they would a last year's almanac.
Although I have but little of this world's goods I can truly say if all the wealth of the United States were poured at my feet as the purchase price of the glorious truth I have learned in the last two years from reading DAWN and TOWER and study of the Bible, it would be no temptation as I have learned that truly man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Sometimes when reading passages that I have read a hundred times and thought I understood perfectly, such a flood of new light will break in upon me that I clap my hands and shout for joy while the glad tears run down my cheeks.
I took none of your statements for granted, but kept my Bible beside me and looked up all passages referred to, so that I knew I had God's Word and not fallible man's; and while it has taken all Methodism and creed-doctrine out of me, I feel that I am a hundred-fold more a child of God than ever before.
May you be spared many years to carry on the Master's work.
EDITOR ZION'S WATCH TOWER. DEAR SIR: – I have read with pleasure and profit MILLENNIAL DAWN, Volumes I. and II. I can now read my Bible understandingly and contemplate the loving kindness and masterly wisdom of the great Jehovah. All the doubts that hovered over my mind in years gone by have vanished, and I live in a new light that is more than all the world to me. Two years have passed since I read your first Volume, but I have read and re-read it, and it grows and expands the more I study it.
I was a soldier of the "lost cause" in the days of "the Great Rebellion," was badly wounded at the fearful struggle at the "Wilderness," and I returned to my home that had been ruined, at the close of the war, and found myself a cripple for life with a life-struggle before me. I felt that my lot was a hard one, but I determined to honor God and keep up a resolute will. Sometimes dark and threatening clouds gathered about me, almost despair settled over my mind and fears almost paralyzed my hopes for the future.
A kind friend lent me MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. I. I read it, and poverty vanished into the marvelous light of a bright and glorious hope that grows brighter and brighter until by faith I see the glorious day of the Lord God Almighty.
I want some time to come to your city, enjoy one of your annual meetings and take you by the hand and thank you for the cheer that in the name of the eternal Father you have administered to your Brethren.
May eternal sunshine gild your pathway. Go on in your magnificent work – the God of Israel is with you.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – We received January TOWER and rejoice much in its new shape as well as in the matter. You mention in the article about the "talents" that the servant of one talent was an "idler," but the only motive or reason given when judged was "afraid" – fear of earthly loss, that would result from using the talent, is prominent. God judges this servant "out of his own mouth" – confession of slavish fear. I would like the parable of the "pounds" explained in connection with that of the "talents." We had another excellent meeting today. After reading and commenting on Eph. 5 and Zech. 8, the meeting was open and we had good stirring testimonies – about six or eight. Dr. A__________ said nothing had ever taken hold on him and wife like this truth, and he might have to give up his practice of surgery and circulate DAWN and preach. I sold several DAWNS and took two subscriptions for the TOWER. Next Sunday I lecture again.
I add a few figures from Sadler's Catholic Directory, to show what a place Cincinnati is for Catholicism. Churches 196, chapels 35, priests page 31 288, beside 10 ladies' academies, also colleges, convents, etc. Covington, with about 50,000 souls, has 42 churches, 25 chapels, 19 convents, 35 stations visited, 1 monastery, etc. Even Lower Canada can scarce beat that for "Mother" power. Jews are also plentiful, and "isms" abound: Swedenborgianism, Christian Science, Spiritualism, etc. Much love in Christ,
DEAR BRO. AND SISTER RUSSELL: – I wish I could tell you how much help and comfort Poems and Hymns of Dawn have been to me. But if I should try I could not tell you. Only this I may say, that my faith has been quickened, and my spiritual strength has been renewed by their perusal. My husband, too, is delighted with them. We have just finished reading the December TOWER, and I want to say that the articles entitled "Christ in you the Hope of Glory," "The Easy Yoke" and "The Blood" seemed just suited to my present need.
This morning I seemed so weak and unworthy, so incapable of doing anything to the glory of God, and the dear Christ, whom I do so want to honor. The tempter assaulted my faith so severely, that I cried out in my anguish, O Lord! can I ever be an overcomer? Then I seemed to hear some one ask, "Do you want to go back?" Quick as a flash, there arose before my mind recent victories and blessings, and from my full heart the answer sprang to my lips, No, Lord, no! O, what a sense of relief I felt; what a sudden peace came over my troubled spirit. It seemed to me I could almost see my King and Redeemer reach out his loving hands toward me, saying, Well then, child, come on.
One thing I do know, that in all my Orthodox experience – and I believe I have been sincere and earnest in my Christian life – I have never felt such a sense of the presence of my Savior, as I have within the last few weeks. I humbly trust I am one of those who are looking for and hasting unto the appearing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
My husband wishes to continue his subscription for the TOWER. He has not the money just now, but if you will kindly send the paper, he will appreciate the favor, and will forward the money as soon as he can get it. He is a firm believer in the doctrine of the Millennium and Restitution as taught by you. He often wishes he could attend some of your meetings, especially your annual meeting.
Very sincerely yours,
God has wonderfully led me into the higher life, and I have surrendered to have his will worked in me to the highest, though it has cost me already my church and family and dear earthly companions – everything that I held dear in this world; but how little it is compared with what Christ can give and does give. I count every trial a joy; "my cup runneth over."
Please send two more "Tabernacle" TOWERS. God bless you and teach you ever more of the truth. Yours in the blessed fellowship of Jesus Christ,
We are both well and are doing as well as can be expected for this time of the year. Dear sister Boehmer comes in every evening with glowing countenance, telling how she has found some who were ready to receive the truth. Her whole heart is in the work. Thus we all find some encouragement every day. I realize more fully every day that it is the work for the saints, and with Bro. West I wonder why more are not engaged in it. I hope I may be permitted to remain in the work. Pray for me.
Yours in Christian love,
The interest in the truth here is growing steadily, and we hope and trust that the meetings will be productive of much good. I think that you may expect audiences of from five to eight hundred in the morning and afternoon. But of course the opposition is growing also.
Bro. Utley is with us now, and Bro. Eyres, Thompson and some others from outside the city will be with us at the meetings. The "Plymouth Brethren" held a meeting last night at which the small audience was advised to burn DAWN, and to give a wide berth to those who are circulating it. Yours in Christ,
At the urgent solicitation of friends in and near Toronto, the Editor of this journal has arranged to speak three times at Toronto on Sunday, Feb'y 22nd next. The hour and place will be announced in Toronto papers. TOWER subscribers present are urgently requested to make themselves known to the Editor.