|VOL. XII.||OCTOBER, 1891.||NO. 10.|
"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another. As I have loved you, love ye also one another." – John 13:34,35.
The law of love is the golden rule which, if in operation, would settle all disputes and controversies, and wipe out all bickerings, jealousies, strife and contention. In the world it does not prevail, though all men acknowledge that it should. Yet the world is not wholly loveless. In the midst of all its suffering and woe and sin we often hear of brave, heroic deeds, even by those who know not God; while abroad in the world there is a very general effort for the general good of mankind, prompted to a considerable extent by the somewhat latent principle of love which is a part of our common inheritance from our father Adam's original perfection not yet wholly lost.
How often have men risked their own lives to rescue their fellow-men from drowning, or burning, or shipwreck, or railroad disasters. How often has the benevolent hand contributed freely to the necessities of suffering neighbors, or suffering communities. And while much of the more public charity is often ministered with ostentation which betrays an undue love of approbation, it is but just to conclude that there is at least a mixture of the higher motives. And to that extent is such a one blessed in his deed.
At the present time, as never before in the history of the world, men are studying, if not very generally practicing, the golden rule of love. They see that if it were in general operation the whole world would be greatly blessed by it. But how would it operate? How should it operate? – that is the perplexing question. One of the most popular suggestions among the masses of the people is what is commonly termed socialism. And just here we wish to introduce [R1326 : page 129] a brief article on the subject clipped from a recent issue of a secular journal. The article is as follows: –
SOCIALISM AND PROGRESS.
"All readers and thinkers are watching with interest the struggle of the civilized world with Socialism – a product evolved from the conditions and thoughts of the masses, peculiar to the closing years of the Nineteenth Century. In different nations it assumes different names, but all its aims and objects tend to a re-organization of society and the distribution of wealth. The masses read and think and reason something like this: 'Well, here I am, a poor man, doomed to labor the year in and out; and, do the best I can, I am only able to pay my rent, keep body and soul together, get few luxuries and much misery, and no prospect to better my condition.
"'What matters it to me what becomes of the princes, dukes and generals who wear fine linen and fare sumptuously every day? Let revolution come; my condition can not be any worse, and might be bettered by killing off our oppressors.' In this frame of mind he is an easy prey to the wily agitator, and thus the ball rolls [R1326 : page 130] on, gathering force as it goes, in all the European countries.
"In the United States, only the extreme agitators are prominent, and work under the name of Anarchists, but they are few in number and are not gaining much ground. In Germany the social agitators are gaining rapidly, but there the Socialists must not be confounded with the Anarchists, for the latter have all been expelled from the Socialists' clubs. The Socialists there really represent the progressive ideas of the nation; and, with some slight modifications, their platform is almost identical with modern republicanism. They have become so powerful in that country as to force the resignation of Bismarck.
"In Russia we have the Nihilists, who represent the advanced thought of that despotic nation; in France are the Radicals; in England the Liberals; and so on, in every nation, the social leaven is at work. The toiling millions are endowed with all the natural faculties of those who 'toil not, neither do they spin.'
"The poor man reasons that if this world was made for man to enjoy, it is self-evident that all the enjoyment was not intended for a few individuals; that if a man inherits a fortune and title, he deserves no credit for the accident of birth, and there would be just as much reason and justice in making the rich man divide with his less fortunate neighbor as to let him spend it in riotous living or hoard it up.
"The average toiler also can not see why he should be heavily taxed to support an army of cut-throats, whose sole business was to fight for the glory of a few kings and generals, posing as figure-heads. And so the peasant comes to the conclusion that the people would be all the better off if the armies were disbanded, the titled rulers abolished, and the rich made to disgorge. A settled conviction soon becomes a duty, and the agitators who have nothing to lose and everything to gain by revolution have little difficulty in wielding the toilers in battalions and leading them to vote and work for the overthrow of the government under which they chance to live; for it is a well known fact that, in every nation, this class of people saddle all their woes upon the government, no matter what its form.
"England groans under the oppression of landlords, dukes, titles, lords, etc., and the masses see no reason why they should be taxed to support a royal house which is, at best, only a figure-head; and so social democracy grows apace.
"But while the poor man always is entitled to be heard, the question arises: Suppose property were divided equally, how long would it be before those who have it now would get it back again? The extreme Socialist says, We'll remedy that matter by making an equal division every ten years. But if you do this you destroy the spirit of competition and the desire for improvement, and with all the human aspirations put under this sort of a ban, man would relapse into a semi-savage state, and all law and order be hurled into chaos. To share equally in property unequally earned is contrary to all political economy. The best thing for a man to do is to do the best he can under the circumstances.
"With Russia on the east with her barbaric millions, and a half million soldiers who are veritable heathen, and France on the west with her desire for revenge, the Kaiser's country must always be on the alert and ready to defend herself. France is more favorably situated, and, if the conservative element keeps the ascendency, may continue a moderate Republic. England will never be what she ought to be, until the masses own the soil. Great reforms are necessary in all the nations, and can only be brought about by reforming existing institutions, and not by adopting the views and impracticable theories of the socialistic agitators."
Here is some sound logic, and some not so sound. The reforming of existing institutions, for instance, would be a hopeless task. The fact is, they are so imperfect that nothing but revolution will reform them. And such a revolution, we are forewarned, is coming; the signs of the times also clearly indicate its rapid approach; and the outcome of that revolution will be the utter wreck of existing institutions – civil, social and ecclesiastical.
But what of socialism? will it survive the world-wide wreck and bring men to a realization of their common brotherhood and to the actual practice of the law of love? No: socialism, however moderate its principles and course in the beginning, must and will degenerate into [R1326 : page 131] wild and ungovernable anarchy, which, as this writer claims, places every man at the mercy of the desperado and the cut-throat. The writer truly claims that, "To share equally in property unequally earned is contrary to all political economy." Why? Because it would crush out individuality and enterprise, and rob the worthy individual of his just need of credit and remuneration, and encourage the unworthy in a shiftless and ignoble dependence. The general tendency of such a course, it is easily seen, would be toward national, as well as individual, imbecility. Any system of political economy which would subordinate the individual to community interests is imperfect and unjust; for the individual has rights, as well as the nation, and the real interests of the nation can only be properly considered as the accumulated rights and interests of every individual of the nation.
When the Kingdom of God, which is to displace all present institutions, is set up, it will have respect, not only to national or community interest, but to every legitimate individual interest as well. At first, in the great time of trouble, there will be a great and very necessary leveling process; for the pride of man must be humbled and his dependence upon God must be realized before he can be exalted to the true dignity of manhood. That the individual right of property will be respected is manifest from the promise that "they shall build houses and inhabit them, and they shall plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat...and they shall long enjoy the work of their hands." – Isa. 65:21,22.
The promise here is not that every man must build his house and plant his vineyard according to a fixed common idea, so that every one will be exactly equal in convenience, elegance or tastefulness. Each man may work out his own ideas and enjoy the results, and also the approbation of God and of his fellow-men for his commendable progress. Will it seem selfish for a man thus to build and plant for his own enjoyment? No. Will it be in strict accord with the golden rule of loving his neighbor as himself? Yes. The golden rule is not to love your neighbor more than yourself, but simply as yourself. If this man works out his own ideas and carefully guards against any infringement upon his neighbor's right to work out his ideas; and if he is pleased with his neighbor's prosperity as he is pleased with his own, and is pleased under proper circumstances to lend a helping hand if needed and desired, then he is loving his neighbor as himself, and doing unto his neighbor as he would have his neighbor do unto him. And God's great storehouse of blessing is large enough and full enough to supply all their need when justice rightly balances the affairs of men. There will be an abundance, not only of comfort, but of luxury, too, for every man; but men will have to learn by degrees how to acquire it. God will not put money into the pockets, nor grand ideas into the minds, of the slothful. Success and approbation and ease and luxury and honor and glory and blessing will reward the righteous and persevering effort of each individual. And the law of God, re-written upon the human heart, will strictly forbid the coveting of another man's lawful right; but every man may rejoice in his neighbor's achievements and prosperity and may be stimulated thereby to greater attainments on his own part: not, however, from a selfish, ignoble ambition to outdo his [R1327 : page 131] neighbor, but from a healthful and pleasurable ambition to develop his own powers and to enjoy the added comfort, etc. While individual interests will be thus conserved to the finest point and to the high purposes of development, thrift and culture, community interests will also be adjusted to the highest degree of national prosperity.
Socialism, therefore, is not God's ideal condition for the human race, but it will be the last attempted experiment of fallible, fallen men to adjust their own affairs; and its predicted result is world-wide anarchy and dire confusion.
But though socialism is not God's ideal for man's future happiness, says one somewhat influenced by the infection in the air of these times, would not such a condition be the proper one for the Church of God now? Should they not have all things common, so that there could be no difference in the body of Christ? and would not unfeigned love surely [R1327 : page 132] lead to such a course? Well, let us see; but let us bear in mind that God acts and would have us act upon established and well founded principles. Where God does not directly express his will concerning the details of our course, he has left them to be gathered from observation of his dealings. So when we discover, as above, that socialism is not according to his purpose, and that such a scheme would be detrimental to man's highest interests of development and happiness, we know, or ought to know, that it would be similarly detrimental now to the highest interests of the body of Christ.
Let us see how. Suppose, for instance, that all who claim to be fully consecrated to the Lord, and therefore members of his body, the Church, were to decide to-day to have all things common – what would be the effect? Well, in the first place, it would necessitate an organization; not merely a small organization here and there, but a world-wide organization, including all such professors, so that all could be on an equal footing. Secondly, It would impose upon each one entering the organization the obligation of placing all his possessions at the disposal of the whole company, or rather of some representatives of the whole company, notwithstanding the obligations or the opposition of friends and relatives; and therefore it would relieve him of all personal responsibility as a steward over those possessions. Then there would be differences of judgment among those thus opposed as to the reasonableness of the opposition, and as to how far it should be heeded; and these individual differences of opinion would have to be decided by the representatives of the company in order to avoid general dissatisfaction. And in time these representatives would assume the dignity of a clerical class with despotic power over all the interests of the Church.
Then, again, some of those thus entering the Church might, as they often do, fall away from the faith and desire to withdraw from the organization; when, if they could not reclaim some or all of the means put into it, they would feel that they had been deceived and cheated, and the whole Church would be scandalized. Then, if it were possible for the Church to claim and thus actually to confiscate all the property of its individual members and to re-distribute it in equal measure amongst them all, such a course would gather into it many who, having nothing to lose but all to gain, would come merely for "the loaves and fishes," and the acquisitiveness of many of those already in would be apt to make them anxious to interest others who would add to their financial welfare. And very soon this would be generally understood to be the spur to all efforts of the Church to preach the gospel. Thus such an organization would rapidly fill up with poor tares; it would be a scene of contention, bickering, strife and evil-speaking, and a reproach to the cause of Christ. In other words, it would result in the Church, as its attempt will in the world, in anarchy and ruin.
In the Church, therefore, as in the world, we must recognize individual rights and responsibilities, and also the fact that the accountability of each member is to God alone; and that to our Master, who is able to read the heart, to measure the circumstances, and to judge righteous judgment, we must each severally stand or fall. The Lord never commissioned the Church to consume its precious time and energy in thus looking after temporal affairs and minding earthly things. The Church's talents are consecrated to a higher service – to the service of heralding the good tidings, by the voice, the press and the pen, and in endeavoring to build one another up in the most holy faith – mutually to stimulate zeal, faith, love and the spirit of sacrifice and of patient endurance of hardness as good soldiers for the truth's sake.
In the body of Christ there must of necessity in the present time be different degrees of prosperity in temporal things. We are not all equally endowed either mentally, morally or physically, nor by circumstances nor by education. Some have five talents and some have only one. The question with each consecrated believer, as he comes into the body of Christ, should be, not How can I better my temporal condition? but, on the contrary, How can I sacrifice some of the things which I already have? In some cases the earthly store is very [R1327 : page 133] small and yet the spirit of sacrifice finds many a little love-token to present to the Lord; and the Lord, though he is rich and could well spare the trifles thus received, accepts them and commends the deed. But being rich in grace and plenteous in mercy he gives to such due credit on the bank of heaven, and in due time they will receive their own with compound interest. Every act of sacrifice here is thus laying up treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal.
The manner in which each member of the body of Christ shall exercise his stewardship of the consecrated talents entrusted to his care is left by the Lord with each individual member. He may use either good or bad judgment in their use, but the Lord will commend and reward according to the motives and not according to actual results. The poor widow was commended for casting her last two mites into the Jewish treasury, because her evident motive was devotion to God and a desire to serve him; though actually she might have made better use of the money than in further supporting that system of worship which was then being displaced by the teachings of Christ. Good judgment, even when prompted by the most zealous spirit of sacrifice, would seldom prompt to the immediate surrender of all one's money talent. The poor widow probably still had, however, a surplus of health and strength and knew she could earn more for her immediate wants; and probably neither she nor a family of starving children lacked the necessities of life on account of it.
If we have families dependent on us, the Lord has made the necessary provision for them our first duty. Children must be clothed and fed and sheltered and trained; and each consecrated parent can use only his own best judgment as to how it shall be done, remembering to do all as unto the Lord, and not as unto the world. If he does so, they will come up ready for the Master's use and will be trained in his love and in his service; the spirit of the world will be pointed out to them in contrast with the spirit of Christ; and they will learn to see the deformity of the one and the grace of the other.
As much, therefore, of the money talent as in the judgment of any individual member is necessary to this work is properly used in it, if so used with an eye single to the glory of God, and without any reference to the spirit of the world.
In view of this individual responsibility of the various members of the Church to God direct, we are also told not to judge one another. Each consecrated child of God is made a steward of the talents in his keeping – whether they be talents of money, of time, of influence or of intellect; and no brother or sister has any thing to do with those talents, either by way of management or of adverse criticism; nor can he covet them and stand before God guiltless. But he may observe their right use in any case, may emulate the example furnished, and may rejoice in their value to the Church at large.
The question now arises as to how that love among the body of Christ, which should make them manifest to the world as the Lord's disciples, is to be manifested, if not by a socialistic community of goods. There are many ways. In the first place, this love will work no ill to its brother: it will neither slander his character, nor cheat, nor envy, nor in any way wrong him. And it will not only be thus negatively good to him, but it will be active to do him service. It will think as favorably of his motives of action as possible and decline to pronounce judgment against them; it will speak kindly and cordially to him and of him; it will sympathize in his afflictions and rejoice in his prosperity; it will, when desired, counsel with him in perplexity and assist him when possible and when needed in adversity; it will rejoice with him in the blessings of divine truth and engage heartily with him in its service. Indeed, all who thus love each other will stand shoulder to shoulder in the great work to which their united talents are consecrated, not coveting the talents of any for their temporal use, but anxious to see as much as possible directed into the great channel of the service of the truth. So the Lord loved the disciples, and so they loved each other and worked together in the common cause.
Renew a right spirit within me,
O Lord, is my prayer;
That only the perfect and holy
May find echo there.
The spirit of faith's adoration –
Devotion to Thee.
No more should the world's senseless idols
Hold sway over me.
A spirit of humble submission;
Of sweet, lasting peace –
That warrings of earthly ambition
Forever may cease.
The spirit of Christ and His teaching –
Thy spirit divine –
Which finds in Thy service its duty,
Its pleasure in Thine.
A spirit of deep understanding,
Of wisdom and love;
As wise as the serpent, and harmless
And pure as the dove.
Renew a right spirit within me –
All gifts of Thy grace;
That all who my character study
Thy likeness may trace.
Oh! make me a living epistle –
Inscribed with Thy name,
And sealed with the blood of the Savior –
Thy love to proclaim.
This subject forms part of a memorable discourse preached by Jesus of Nazareth to Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. The words, "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," must be understood in the light of their context, or they will be largely robbed of their beauty and power. It rarely happens that every element of this brief passage is taken into account; and yet, if anyone is left out the others become comparatively meaningless. It is necessary to consider each element in detail.
This is expressed by a very familiar phrase, "the world." "The earth" is not "the world," nor is "the age." Both the words and their ideas are different. The world here contains many ages, but it is itself a unit. The primary idea of it appears to be that of "an arrangement," the human race under an arrangement. Of "the Word," who "was in the beginning with God," the Apostle says, "He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not" (John 1:10). The world here, which was made by "the Word," must include every individual of the human race, from the first man to the very last of his posterity. So with the world which God so loved, no individual who has descended from Adam can be beyond its scope. This is corroborated by another phrase in the immediate context – "That which is born of flesh is flesh." That which is born of the flesh is born into the world. "The flesh" and "the world," here, are co-extensive; and as these phrases cover every human being, so the love of God covers every human being. If the love of God does not extend to every man, the man to whom it does not extend cannot be part of "the flesh" spoken of here.
The love of God here does not supersede his justice. There is no genuine love where there is not absolute justice. God so loved the world that he GAVE his only begotten Son. The proof of God's love here is not in what he taught, or felt, or willed, or said, but in what he did: "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." "He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for [R1328 : page 135] ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2:2; 4:9,10.) The same apostolic witness says, "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). "The Word" and "the only begotten of the Father" here refer, of course, to the same person. Being made flesh, the sent of God and the gift of God refer to the same thing. Giving the Son, and sending him into the world, was making him flesh. In other words, these phrases all refer to one change – the change from his pre-human to his human existence. The idea of this change is not so much that from one locality to another, as it is from one nature to another. Being sent to the earth and being sent into the world (kosmos – arrangement) are not necessarily the same. Christ might be on the earth without being in the arrangement. He was sent into the arrangement, and he entered it when he became a factor of it. The chief need of those previously in the arrangement was never met, nor could it be met, until Christ met it. When genuine love gives, and gives wisely, it gives what is most needed. The love of God is real love, it is wise love. He gave that which meets the dire necessities of humanity, the dire necessities of every individual, from the first to the last.
There are those who see in the Son of God taking upon himself our nature, and becoming the propitiation for our sins, no proof of the love of God. They say, That is proof of the Son's love, but where is the proof of the Father's? The answer is, In the Father's gift. A real father would much rather die himself than give a beloved child up to death. There is far more love displayed in God giving his only begotten and well-beloved Son up to death than there would have been in God dying himself, had that been possible. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13); "but God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). The proof of the love of God is not only the most conclusive on record, but it is also the most conclusive conceivable.
In expressing this part of his subject our blessed Lord makes it as unmistakable and as forcible as possible. He says, "God sent not his Son into the world to judge (R.V.) the world." The world had been judged previously. The first life of the world had been judged in its entirety. That judgment was on the representative principle; and in it the whole world was judged in one man – the first Adam. God did not send his Son into the world to do that over again. Men blunder and have to do their work over again. God never blunders, nor has he ever to do his work over again. Christ says twice over that God sent his Son into the world that the world "should not perish." The world was already perishing. It had been perishing over four thousand years. God sent his Son into the world that it might not always perish. The penalty under which the world was perishing is death; and when a man is once really dead he is always dead, unless the penalty is nullified.
On the positive side, Christ says that God sent his Son into the world "that the world through him might be saved" – "might have everlasting life" – "might have eternal life." The word here rendered "everlasting" and "eternal" does not necessarily mean endless. Competent authorities render it "age-lasting;" and the age may be long or short, according to the nature and circumstances of the case. Age-lasting life and salvation here are practically the same thing; and there can be neither soundness nor safety without untainted life. Salvation, of course, pertains to the whole man – physically, mentally, and morally – and when thus saved he continues to live. The purpose of God's love in sending his Son into the world is, in the first place, to nullify death – the first death; and, in the next place, to bring in untainted life – the second life. There could be no further judgment until untainted life was brought in, because the tainted life had previously been judged.
"Now is the judgment of this world." Now the world's crisis has come. Now. Not before. This is the beginning of the second judgment. The second judgment is the judgment of the world individually. There could be no [R1328 : page 136] individual judgment until there was individual untainted life, and there was no individual untainted life until Christ brought it in. Whenever and wherever he has been offered to any man, or will be offered to any man, his testing, trying, or proving has begun, or will begin. In view of this our blessed Lord exclaimed: "Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out: and I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." – John 12:31,32.
The extent of the love of God is the extent of the world; the proof of the love of God is the gift of his Son; and the purpose of the love of God is that the world might have life. These were all matters of fact over eighteen hundred years ago; but that does not put the world into possession of this life. There is a definitely prescribed medium through which this life is communicated to man; and every man has to use this medium for himself. "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." The Israelites sinned against Moses and against God. They were bitten by fiery serpents, and were perishing in consequence. By divine command, Moses made a brazen serpent and set it upon a pole. That brought it within the range of their vision; "and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass he lived." (Num. 21:4-9.) It was not when the serpent was made that the serpent-bitten men lived, nor was it when it was elevated: it was when they looked that they lived. Even so, it was not when "the Word was made flesh" that sin-bitten men lived, nor was it when the Son of Man was exalted, but it is when they look that they live. The serpent-bitten had to look with their physical eyes, and the sin-bitten have to look with their mental eyes. In each case the divinely-appointed medium of communication is looking, and that is indispensable. Looking with the eyes of the understanding is expressed by the word believing; and as this is the indispensable medium of communication it is imperative that there be no vital mistake respecting it. Recklessness will not do, nor will ignorance, nor superstition, nor credulity: it must be genuine faith.
1. The basis of faith is the testimony of God himself. – "If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself; he that believeth not God hath made him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son." "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the word of life." "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." "I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me." "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me [R1329 : page 136] through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." (1 John 5:9,10; 1:1,3; John 17:9,20,21.) The testimony on which faith rests is not man's, it is God's own. Man had no testimony on this matter worth listening to until God spoke. God has made himself responsible for the extension of his testimony; and he who promised is faithful and sure to fulfil his promise. Those who live the life of God, breathe the Spirit of God, conform to the law of God, do the works of God, and speak the words of God, are the agency for the extension of God's testimony. "In due time" he will see that his testimony is extended, not only to "the ends of the earth," but to the uttermost extremities of "the world;" not only to every individual "on the earth," but also to every individual "under the earth."
2. The testimony of God is (a) that Christ is the life of the world. – God sent his Son into the world "that the world through him might be saved," and there is no complete salvation without untainted life. "This is the [R1329 : page 137] record, that God hath given to us age-lasting life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." "The bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world." "The bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (1 John 5:11,12; John 6:33,51.) The testimony of God is (b) that Christ is the light of the world: "In him was life, and the life was the light of men." "That was the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into 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 1:4,9; 8:12.) The testimony of God is (c) that Christ is the love of the world: "He that loveth his brother abideth in the light." "This is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another." "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." "Hereby perceive we love,* because he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." (1 John 2:10; 3:11,14,16.) And the testimony of God is (d) that Christ is the judgment of the world: "This is the judgment, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." "As the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." "As the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of Man." (John 3:19; 5:21-27.) Many talk about the judgment of the world without its love, and the love of the world without its light, and the light of the world without its life; but that completely reverses the divine order. Christ is the judgment of the world because he is its love, and he is its love because he is its light, and he is its light because he is its life. Some still talk about those who never heard the gospel being judged by "the light of nature," "the light of conscience," and so on. They might as well talk about them being judged by the light of darkness or enlightened by the life of death. The divine order is the life, the light, the love, and after that the judgment of the world. It is not enough that we exhort one another to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." It is imperative that we see that it is the faith for which we contend. We may contend for something called "the faith," or for this, that, or the other element of the faith; but none of these will do instead of the faith. We must have the faith, the whole faith, and nothing but the faith, and earnestly contend for that.
The man who denies that there is life in Christ for the world has no adequate evidence that there is life in Christ for himself. One says, I am one of the "predestinated," or one of the "elected," and therefore believe that there is life in Christ for me. But it requires as much evidence to prove that he is either elected or predestinated as that there is life in Christ for him; and where is that evidence? Another says: The holy Spirit in my heart tells me that there is life in Christ for me. But it requires as much evidence to prove that the holy Spirit says anything in any man's heart differing from what he says in his Word as that there is life in Christ for him; and where is that evidence? And another quite triumphantly quotes the words – "Whosoever believeth," and says, I believe, and therefore there is life in Christ for me. But faith is not the basis of testimony, it is testimony that is the basis of faith. Without testimony, what is called faith is mere credulity; and without adequate testimony there is no genuine faith. Here all men are on one level. No man has had a revelation to himself and for himself alone. Every man has to believe the testimony which is intended for all, or be without faith, because there is no other. This is a vital point for every man and for every mission. It is quite right to discredit all unscriptural theology, but let us see that it is replaced only by what is sound and defensible. The life, the light, the love, and judgment of God are all links of one chain, and pertain to the same individuals. Drop out [R1329 : page 138] any one link of the chain and the others become useless and misleading.
The mere assent to the truthfulness of even all the elements of the faith is not enough. We may advocate the life of God in Christ, and the judgment of God in Christ, while we remain as selfish as sin and as hard as nether millstones. To have unfeigned faith in Christ is to trust him, adhere to him, and be faithful and steadfast in conforming to him. Our perception of the love of God must lead to appreciation, our appreciation to reciprocation, and our reciprocation must never come to an end. This is particularly emphasized by our blessed Lord. He says, "This is the judgment, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth the truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." Here "evil" is the opposition of "truth." He "that doeth evil" is the opposite of he "that doeth truth." He who doeth evil has been begotten of the evil one, and he who doeth the truth has been begotten of the True One. He who has been begotten of the evil one loveth the darkness and hateth the light, and he who has been begotten of the True One loveth the light and hateth the darkness. He who loves the darkness remains in the darkness, and he who loves the light comes to the light. And he who remains in the darkness manifests that his deeds are wrought in Satan, while he who comes to the light manifests that his deeds "are wrought in God." Whenever and wherever God is manifested in the life, the light, and the love of Christ, men are being tested, tried, or proved, and ultimately they either reject or reciprocate the love of God. Those who reject the love of God cannot continue to live; and to those who reciprocate the love of God, the ratio of their reciprocation will always be the extent of their salvation.
Some say, The love of God is omnipotent, and therefore all men will ultimately become pure and good. Were the writer to say, This talk about "omnipotent love" is omnipotent nonsense, the reader might say, and very truly, That is meaningless. Well, there is no more omnipotent love than there is omnipotent nonsense, there being neither the one nor the other. Love is a moral force, and no moral force can be omnipotent. Divine love, though it "passeth knowledge" in "breadth, and length, and depth, and height," is to man no force whatever until it is perceived; and its force is, and always will be, in the ratio of his perception, appreciation, and reciprocation. Man can no more be forced to love anything, or any being, than he can be forced to be free. Everyone will ultimately have an adequate opportunity of partaking of "the water of life freely," and every one who will not partake "shall be destroyed from among the people."
Many admit that all who are "on the earth," at one time or another, will be offered the life that is in Christ, and deny that those who are "under the earth" will ever have an offer of it. That position is utterly untenable. Christ was sent into the world "that the world through him might be saved." Those who were on the earth when those precious words were uttered were not the world, they were a part of it – a small part. Those who were under the earth at that time were not the world, they were a part of it – a large part. Those who are on the earth now are not the world, they are another part of it – comparatively, a smaller part. And those who are under the earth now are not the world; they are another part of it – comparatively a larger part. So has it been ever since these words were uttered. The part which is on the earth at one time becomes a part of the part which is under the earth at another time; and so will it continue to be until all are raised from the dead. But no one can rationally affirm that any part of the world is the whole world. It requires all the parts to make up the whole, whether on the earth or under it; and as sure as Christ is "the life of the world," so sure is it that every individual will have an offer of life. Death itself cannot be any insuperable barrier in the way of this being accomplished: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath age-lasting life, and shall not come into [R1329 : page 139] judgment, but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming* when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live."
Others are ridiculing the idea of "post mortem salvation." "They know not what they do." Do they not teach the resurrection of the dead? If they do, they are ridiculing their own position, because that is certainly post mortem. The fact is this: Salvation, according to the Scriptures, and Resurrection, according to the Scriptures, are substantially one and the same thing. Tell me in what sense and to what extent you are being saved, and I will tell you in what sense and to what extent you are being raised from the dead. During the present age the moral element of salvation is coming first; so is it with resurrection. During the future age the physical element of resurrection will come first; so will it be with salvation. But the order in which their various elements will be fully realized makes no essential difference in either salvation or resurrection; because every element will have to be fully realized before there can be complete resurrection or complete salvation.
"My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
"And above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness." – Col. 3:14.
The Apostle says love is the bond of perfectness; and Jesus said love is the fulfilling of the divine law. Every intelligent being, from the humblest to the most exalted, craves love. The dog craves his master's affection and expresses his delight at every indication of it; a horse and even a cat will return your caresses; the birds reward your love with notes of joy; the lisping infant rewards your love with smiles and caresses. The young want to be loved; the middle aged, in the heat and strife of life's great battle, want the soothing solace of loving sympathy; the aged, weary and worn with the strife of years, want to lean upon the strong arm of love. The angels in all the glory of their higher state want it; our Lord Jesus wants it; and our heavenly Father wants it. We never grow weary of it; nor can we get too much of it.
It is not merely weakness that craves love; but strength and glory want it, too. What is this desirable thing so universally craved by every grade of intelligent being? It is one of those things which pen cannot describe. People may sing about it, and talk about it, and read about it, and write about it, and yet have but a faint idea of its reality. But stop reading and writing and talking for a moment, and call to mind the few living illustrations of love that have chanced to cross your pathway. In the long past years of sunny childhood can you recall the tenderness of Mother's love that covered [R1330 : page 140] your dimpled cheeks with showers of kisses that could not half express the wealth of her affection? And do you not recall the tenderness of Father's care, who patiently toiled and sacrificed, and then delighted to see in you the fruit of his labor? Or perhaps you have tasted the sweets of conjugal love, and have realized in the chosen partner of your life one ready always to rejoice in your prosperity, to share your burdens and to cheer and urge you on to life's truest and highest attainments.
Or in a dark hour of sorrow and tears some tender hand has soothed your throbbing brow, some kindly ministry has strengthened your weakness, or some timely word of cheer, of counsel and encouragement has inspired you with new zeal for the stern conflict of life. What life has been so barren and drear that no such gleam of sunshine has ever brightened the pathway? Such illustrations give us some idea of what it is to be loved.
Then again consider for a moment the joy of loving – the joy of loving your own sweet child, or the manly glory of your noble husband, or the womanly grace of your devoted wife, or the tender sweetness of your sainted mother, or the ripened glory of your aged father, or the blessed communion of tried and faithful friends – the communion of saints. Then, rising above these earthly loves, some have tasted the sweets of that divine love that surpasseth all other loves. As yet, however, that divine love is only manifest to those who have faith in the divine promises and who walk in obedience to the divine commandments.
Now with these illustrations of what it is to love and to be loved, let our imaginations widen the sphere of this noble virtue, and do we not see that, when it reigns in all hearts, it will prove to be just what the Apostle says it is – viz.: "the bond of perfectness," and the greatest of all the Christian virtues? Indeed he shows that, though we might have all the other virtues combined, yet, lacking this one, we would be as sounding brass and as tinkling cymbals. In fact, the putting on of the other virtues, except as prompted by this virtue, would be mere sham and hypocrisy. Yet with this, though lacking the others to some extent, the heart would prove itself loyal, though the flesh might be weak to perform the dictates of love.
The Lord is saying a great deal for this virtue when he declares that love is the fulfilling of the law; or in other words, that if we had perfect love, we could easily and naturally keep the whole law of God. But here is our difficulty: we cannot love perfectly. Well, the Lord knows that we cannot, but he wants to see us endeavoring to love more and more, and making actual progress in this direction. Paul, too, shows us how love in the heart manifests itself in the outward life. We scarcely need to be told this, for the language of love is natural and its impulses are spontaneous; and yet, because we are not yet perfect in love, Paul's description makes manifest the absurdity of calling that love which is unworthy of the name. He says, "Love suffereth long and is kind. [It is kind even to the unthankful and the unholy, endeavoring to show them by example a more excellent way.] Love envieth not. [It is pleased rather to see another's success.] Love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up. [There is no pride in love, delighting in display and vain glory: it is rather humble and retiring.] Love doth not behave itself unbecomingly [It is consistent with its profession in all its actions]; seeketh not its own [is not on the alert for self-interest, but more for the interest and blessing of others]; is not easily provoked [endeavors to make due allowance for the weaknesses of others]; thinketh no evil [is slow to impute evil motives, and anxious to see and to foster every good intent]; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth [has no pleasure in either hearing or telling evil tidings, or in evil of any kind, but delights in God's truth and in its fruitage of developed holiness]."
"Love covers all things [makes due allowance for the weaknesses of the flesh]; believes all things [believes in the conquering power of love to help the weak and erring in the struggle against sin]; endures all things" [endures the necessary reproach and trials of faith and patience in the careful endeavor to build up and strengthen the weak].
The child of God who is studiously endeavoring thus to manifest and cultivate the spirit [R1330 : page 141] of love will indeed become more and more like his blessed Master. What contradiction of sinners against himself did he bear! How patiently he bore with the weaknesses and the short-comings of his disciples! And how faithfully he taught them and led them to follow in his steps! There was the perfect pattern of that self-sacrificing love which was set for our imitation.
Well, says one, as he looks into this beautiful law of love, I would like to be fully actuated by such a noble principle, but some people are so despicably mean that I cannot love them. But are you sure you cannot love such people? Is it not rather the sins that you dislike and which ought to be despised by every heart that is truly loyal to God and righteousness? You say it is hard to distinguish between the two; and so it is sometimes, when inherited deformities of character have been fostered and cultivated and even gloried in, as they often are. But here is a way to examine the real disposition of your own heart toward such. Would you cheerfully do them kindness and help them to the extent of your ability to see the error of their way and to overcome it; can you tenderly pray for them and patiently bear with their weaknesses, their ignorance and their lack of development, and try by a noble example to show them a more excellent way? If such be [R1331 : page 141] the case, then it is the sin that you despise, and not the sinner. The sin you should hate, but the sinner, never. Not until God's unerring judgment declares that the sin and the sinner are inseparably linked may love let go its hold upon a brother man.
Love, however, properly differs, both in kind and in degree, according to the worthiness of the object upon which it centers. There is a love of admiration, a love of sympathy and a love of pity. The former is the highest type of love, and is properly bestowed only upon that which is truly lovely and worthy of admiration. On this line our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus claim our supreme and most ardent affection; and all the good and noble and true of our fellow men, in proportion as they approximate the glorious likeness of God, may also share this love of admiration. Of this same kind is the love of childish innocence; and of this same kind should be the love of conjugal felicity. The chosen life partner should be one beloved in this highest sense; and parental and filial affection should also be established on the same basis, and then the dearest earthly relationship would be akin to the heavenly.
The love of sympathy we can extend to the weakest one that is painfully toiling up the hill of difficulty toward a better life; and affectionately we may reach the sympathizing, helpful hand to such. If we are a step or two in advance of some such on the way, and if we realize a little less difficulty in making the ascent, let us thank God and use our superior vantage ground for the assistance of the weaker ones.
Then there is the love of pity for those so steeped in ignorance and sin as to be unable even to raise their eyes heavenward to catch the first inspiration toward a better life. Would we indeed scorn the degraded, or add another pang to those already so bruised by the fall? Ah, no: love pities the vilest, sympathizes with the weakest and glories in the truest and purest and loveliest of earth and of heaven. Thus our blessed Lord loved supremely our all-glorious Heavenly Father; thus he loved with tenderest sympathy his devoted disciples; and thus he loved with wondrous pity all the fallen sons and daughters of Adam's race, even to the extent of giving his life to redeem them. Let us emulate his example and walk in his footsteps.
WATCH TOWER readers will be glad to learn of the safe arrival of the Editor and his wife, just as we go to press. They report a pleasant and successful trip through the most civilized portions of Europe, Asia, Africa and America, and promise an account in the next and succeeding TOWERS. An article intended for this issue miscarried en route.
Dr. Reville, professor in the College of France, in his "Prolegomena to the History of Religions," 1884, questioned the correctness of what Mr. Gladstone had said some time before in support of "a primitive revelation in the testimony of the Holy Scriptures." Dr. Reville disputed the accuracy of the account of the creation and of the beginning of religious worship. In the Nineteenth Century of November last, Mr. Gladstone defends his position with signal ability, and completely demolishes his critic in regard to the dawn of worship. The article is entitled "Dawn of Creation and of Worship," and concludes with these sentences:
"But none of these circumstances discredit or impair the proof that in the book, of which Genesis is the opening section, there is conveyed special knowledge to meet the special need everywhere so palpable in the state and history of our race. Far, indeed, am I from asserting that this precious gift, or that any process known to me, disposes of all the problems, either insoluble or unsolved, by which we are surrounded; of'The burden and the mystery
Of all this unintelligible world.'
"But I own my surprise, not only at the fact, but at the manner in which in this day, writers, whose name is legion, unimpeached in character and abounding in talent, put away from them, cast into shadow, or into the very gulf of negation itself, the conception of a Deity, an acting and a ruling Deity. Of this belief, which has satisfied the doubts, and wiped away the tears and found guidance for the footsteps of so many a weary wanderer on earth; which among the best and greatest of our race has been so cherished by those who had it, and so longed and sought for by those who had it not, we might suppose that if, at length, we had discovered that it was in the light of truth untenable, that the accumulated testimony of man was worthless, and that his wisdom was but folly, yet, at least, the decencies of mourning would be vouchsafed to this irreparable loss. Instead of this, it is with a joy and exultation that might almost recall the frantic orgies of the Commune, that this, at least at first sight, terrific and overwhelming calamity is accepted, and recorded as a gain.
"Evolution, that is, physical evolution, which alone is in view, may be true (like the solar theory), may be delightful and wonderful in its right place; but are we really to understand that varieties of animals brought about through domestication, the wasting of organs (for instance, the tails of men) by disuse, that natural selection and the survival of the fittest, all in the physical order, exhibit to us the great arcanum of creation, the sum and centre of life, so that mind and spirit are dethroned from their old supremacy, are no longer sovereign by right, but may find somewhere by charity a place assigned them, as appendages, perhaps only as excrescences of the material creation?
"I contend that evolution in its highest form has not been a thing heretofore unknown to history, to philosophy, or to theology. I contend that it was before the mind of Paul when he taught that in the fulness of time God sent forth his Son, and of Eusebius when he wrote the 'Preparation for the Gospel,' and of Augustine when he composed the 'City of God;' and, beautiful and splendid as are the lessons taught by natural objects, they are, for Christendom at least, infinitely beneath the sublime unfolding of the great drama of human action, in which, through long ages, Greece was making ready a language and an intellectual type, and Rome a framework of order and an idea of law, such that in them were to be shaped and fashioned the destinies of a regenerated world.
"For those who believe that the old foundations are unshaken still, and that the fabric built upon them will look down for ages upon the floating wreck of many a modern and boastful theory, it is difficult to see anything but infatuation in the destructive temperament which leads to the notion that to substitute a blind mechanism for the hand of God in the affairs of life is to enlarge the scope of remedial agency; that to dismiss the highest of all inspirations is to [R1331 : page 143] elevate the strain of human thought and life; and that each of us is to rejoice that our several units are to be disintegrated at death into 'countless millions of organisms;' for such, it seems, is the latest 'revelation' delivered from the fragile tripod of a modern Delphi. Assuredly, on the minds of those who believe, or else on the minds of those who after this fashion disbelieve, there lies some deep judicial darkness, a darkness that may be felt. While disbelief in the eyes of faith is a sore calamity, this kind of disbelief, which renounces and repudiates with more than satisfaction what is brightest and best in the inheritance of man, is astounding, and might be deemed incredible."
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – Receiving Volume Three, paper cover, Friday evening, answers my inquiry in regard to the same; so I will have some special circulars printed to put out with the Arp slips, and see if I cannot sell more DAWNS than I have of late.
I have read the third volume to the 10th chapter, and every page is full of interest. It all makes me feel as though I would like to be free from all else except to try and interest others in the light. That does not seem to be the order of things, however, and I must continue, apparently, the local work with my other duties; but I want in some way to do more if I can. With the guidance of our heavenly Father and the wisdom he can give I shall, I trust, be shown the way. So may it be. In Christian fellowship, your brother,
MY DEAR SIR: – I am reading with profound interest your third volume of MILLENNIAL DAWN. I have read and re-read the first and second volumes. I am more than convicted of the correctness of your deductions. The Bible seems to me a new book, and yet it has always been to me a wonderful book.
"Thy Kingdom Come" fills me with wonderful emotions. Blessed be God for the assurance that Babylon is fallen and that Christ is setting up his kingdom. Oh, how I have prayed that it might come, and be established in all the length and breadth of this world, casting down all usurpers. Praise God! It is too good, I sometimes say, to be true. God bless you.
Yours for the kingdom in all the earth,
C. T. RUSSELL, EDITOR: – Having seen, in a copy of your worthy paper, your generous offer to unfortunates – poor and unable to subscribe for your paper – I, as one of those who am not only poor, but separated by prison walls from the world, beg of you, in the name of him who said, "I was in prison and ye visited me," for as many or as few copies as you can find it convenient to send me. Not only myself, but all who have read the ZION'S WATCH TOWER, have expressed an earnest desire to read more and to learn from it the way of life more perfectly.
May the blessing of God rest upon you and yours.
DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER RUSSELL: – I received the third volume of DAWN, and have hurriedly read it through. I shall read it all over again carefully, probably several times. I am much pleased with it all, and especially was I interested in the chapter on the Great Pyramid. It is all wonderful! but like all Jehovah's works. Man could never have planned it. He is scarcely able to comprehend it. Just so with the Bible – when rightly understood it towers far above the ability of any finite mind, and can be comprehended only when the added grace of God is vouchsafed to its assistance.
I am more anxious than ever to send out "this Gospel of the Kingdom" to the hungry and thirsty children of God. I will send you $10. Please send me two copies of Vol. III., in paper, and one package of tracts, and apply the remainder for the spread of the Gospel.
We are doing what we can here. The letters are coming in daily asking for help. May God direct us wherever we may be doing the harvest work. You will, of course, understand what this work is doing for me. When we settle a matter for another by the sure Word, it is fixed in our own minds. Verily it is more blessed to give than to receive. In Christian love,
DEAR BROTHER: – I cannot refrain from writing once more to tell you that I have not lost any interest in the harvest work, but that I am thankful I can say it is steadily increasing, and I desire to engage in it more and more as the way is being gradually opened up to me. From a conversation last spring you know my circumstances, and my decision to continue in my profession till my debts are paid off; and as things look now, it would seem to require several months yet to accomplish this. Meanwhile, I am preparing myself as best circumstances permit, and am stirring up a few of the local preachers, in hopes some one among them may prove an efficient co-laborer in the near future.
Your remark to guard against being blown away by every wind of doctrine, etc., is certainly very timely, and I will carefully heed it as best I can. Let us hope, however, that we will be spared spiritual cyclones, if not hurricanes, or be in the cleft of the rock while they pass over. I will look over the chronology you refer to, so as to get that still clearer in my head. Yesterday it was a stormy day in the New York pulpits, though very deeply significant to me, and all others who know something, at least, of the signs of the times.
I expect ere long to be so busy and burdened with the grand work of the harvest that I will not have time to feel lonely at all. The tremendous importance of the work and the events now so close at hand demands all my zeal, time, attention and talents, so that nothing is left for anybody or anything else. I am pressing towards the mark. Your article on "Strong Delusion" in the April number proved to me strong meat in due season; for I shall need much of it, and trust you will remember me with all the brethren and sisters constantly, that I may be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might, fearless and with a clear insight in the truth now due to be revealed to the heirs of the kingdom.
With best wishes and greetings to sister Russell and all the brethren and sisters, I remain your brother and fellow-servant,
MY DEAR BROTHER IN THE TRUTH: – I have been preaching for the past fifty years (as a lay preacher), but have been blind to God's plan through Jesus Christ, as taught in MILLENNIAL DAWN. But four years ago, through meeting a brother Cattermole, in London, my eyes were opened. He kindly loaned me "Food for Thinking Christians." I read it through once, laid it aside for a year, then took it up again. After reading it three times, the light began to dawn.
I commenced last September and preached from it my first sermon in a Methodist Chapel in the presence of some of their big men, and was kindly asked not to advance such doctrines again – to which I replied I would preach it to my dying day.
I may tell you that I am a gardener by trade. I am now in my seventieth year, but, thank God, I enjoy the best of health and am so situated that I meet with many people, and I always take the opportunity of setting the Truth before them; but I cannot do as much as I would like. You will well understand the uphill work we have in England. The people here are very ignorant in spiritual truths, and the majority are still under the power of the Romanists.
Sister Garrett has been here two Sundays, and together we have held a meeting on the seashore, and the people have behaved very kindly toward us. But as she is going away, I shall have to go alone as far as human help is concerned; yet I know my Father will support and strengthen me, and I hope to do a work, if he spares me this summer. I request your prayers that God will help me to stand firm though all human friends forsake me.
I will not write much for the first time, but close with an earnest prayer that God will bless you and Sister Russell in your noble work. May you long be spared to give out "meat in due season." Yours in a loving Savior,
DEAR TOWER: – A great scheme has been devised within the Farmers' Alliance. It is proposed to withhold the year's crop from market until the farmers can get their own price. The plan is unfolded in a circular, issued to the farmers' organizations. It suggests a great combination of the organizations and has the relative importance and force of an official order for a strike. The circular, which is presumed to be a secret document, will be sent to the five and a half millions of farmers.