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Many new laborers have recently entered the ranks of the Dawn colporteurs, and we are glad to be able to announce that they are generally doing excellent service. One sister who gave up a good situation as a school-teacher reports that she has been able to average twenty books a day, even during the recent extremely hot weather.
Whilst there is still plenty of room for more workers in this part of the harvest work, which our Master is so abundantly blessing, we are impressed with the necessity of making the work done more thorough than heretofore. And we desire to impress this thought upon all the Colporteurs. Make thorough work of every town you touch and pass by no town of one thousand or more population. Indeed, experience is proving that the small places are amongst the best, except where affected by some local labor-strike.
In the interest of all and of the work we are now laying out specific routes for the colporteurs instead of allowing a promiscuous running about. Any colporteur not having received such an outline route will please correspond with us some days before ready to leave his present field.
In view of the fact that we sometimes refer to the Colporteur work as the "harvest work" some have inquired whether we mean that it alone is "harvest work." We answer, No. Although it seems to be the work that the Master is chiefly blessing and using, in gathering his saints into oneness and harmony with himself and each other through the knowledge of the truth, and therefore the work that all desire to engage in who can do so, it is not the only way of serving. Some are using their voices publicly, some privately. Some are using their pens publicly, some privately. Some are using the tracts and some the DAWNS – some publicly, some privately. Any way that you can best serve the Lord and his true sheep by circulating the present truth, "meat in due season," is harvest work; and if done with a pure, unselfish desire, in the name of the Redeemer, it is acceptable service. God bless all the co-laborers. Go on and on, from grace to grace and from service to service! His grace is sufficient for you, – each and all.
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Tract No. 1, "Do the Scriptures Teach that Eternal Torment is the Wages of Sin?" has been translated into Swedish, which is Tract No. 9; and into Norwegian, which is Tract No. 13. We do not send these out except when specially ordered. Any who can use these judiciously are welcome to order them – freely. These, as well as Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10 and 14, are supplied in quantities without charge – out of the Tract Fund.
|VOL. XIII.||AUGUST 1, 1892.||NO. 15.|
"He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou find shelter." – Psa. 91:4.
In the midst of the "perilous times" of this "evil day," and of the warning voices of prophets and apostles pointing out snares and pestilences and subtle dangers on every hand – and in the midst, too, of a realizing sense of the actual existence of such evil besetments and perils – how precious to the saints are the assurances of divine protection and care and personal love.
We call to mind the gracious promises of our Lord – "The Father himself loveth you;" "Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom;" and "He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him and will manifest myself to him;...and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him....Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." – John 16:27; 14:21,23,27; Luke 12:32.
But warning voices and wholesome counsel are also necessary; and he is not wise who turns a deaf ear to them, and takes cognizance alone of the comforting assurances which are designed only for those who faithfully "watch and pray lest they enter into temptation." Every soldier of the cross needs to heed the Apostle's warnings – "Take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand;" and again, "Let us fear lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it;" and fear also "lest, as the serpent [Satan] beguiled Eve, through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ;" "for grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them." "Behold," said our Lord, "I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves." – Eph. 6:13; Heb. 4:1; 2 Cor. 11:3; Acts 20:29,30; Matt. 10:16.
It is necessary for the discipline, trial and final proving of the Church of God that they should be subjected to these adverse influences; for to him that overcometh them is the promise of the great reward. If we would reign with Christ, we must prove our worthiness to reign by the same tests of loyalty to God, of faith in his Word, of zeal for the truth, of patient endurance of reproach and persecution, even unto death, and of unwavering trust in the power and purpose of God to deliver and exalt his Church in due time. To such faithful ones are the blessed consolations of Psa. 91. Hearken –
Verse 1. "He who abideth in the secret place of the Most High [typified by the Most Holy or Sanctuary] shall rest under the shadow of the Almighty." We thus place ourselves under the divine protection when, having come to a knowledge of God's willingness to accept [R1432 : page 228] us as his children, we gratefully accept the invitation and approach in his appointed way, through Christ our Redeemer, and consecrate ourselves fully to his service. Such may sweetly rest in the precious promises of God, all of which are yea and amen in Christ Jesus. (2 Cor. 1:20.) The world does not see the overshadowing wings of divine protection, but the faithful have a blessed secret realization of it. Praise the Lord!
Verse 2. "I [Christ Jesus, whom David here, as elsewhere, personifies, and who thus addresses his body, his Church] will say of Jehovah, who is my refuge and my stronghold, my God in whom I ever trust" (John 20:17) –
Verse 3. "That he will surely deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, [From the deceptions of Satan, in which all those not protected shall stumble; for our Lord said that so subtle and deceptive will they be that, if it were possible, they would deceive the very elect. But this is not possible, for those who are making their calling and election sure abide under the protection of the Almighty.] and from the pestilence of destruction." [Not from the destructive pestilences of physical disease, but from the moral and spiritual pestilences of destruction – from the sinful propensities of the old nature which in unguarded moments are liable to assert their mastery and overwhelm the souls of those who are not abiding under the secret protection of the Most High; and from the spiritual pestilences of false doctrine which, with subtle sophistry, destroy the faith of the unwatchful. Such pestilences are already abroad in the shape of so-called Christian Science, Spiritualism and the various no-ransom theories which take the name of The Larger Hope, and which bid fair, both from present prospects and from the prophetic outlook, ere long to become epidemic. From all these pestilences the Lord's elect shall be protected, resting sweetly under the shadow of the Almighty.]
Verse 4. "He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou find shelter. [So close to his heart does Jehovah gather his loyal and faithful children that they feel the warmth of his love, and the responsive language of their hearts is, "I will abide in thy tabernacle" – under thy protection – "forever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings; for thou hast been a shelter for me and a strong tower from the enemy; for thou hast heard my vows" – my consecration – "thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name." – Psa. 61:4,3,5.] His truth shall be thy shield and buckler" – thy protection. Yes, his truth – that grand system of truth comprised in the divine plan of the ages – is an ample shield and buckler to all who in simplicity of heart receive it and prove faithful to it. It is the armor of God which the Apostle urges all the faithful to put on – to appropriate, to meditate upon and to store up the truth in mind and heart – that they may be able, by its use, to withstand error and evil in every form presented to them in this evil day.
Verse 5. "Thou shalt not be afraid of the terror of the night [the dark night of which the Prophet Isaiah and also the Lord spoke, saying, "The morning" – the Millennial morning – "cometh, and also the night" – the great time of trouble which shall immediately precede it, the night "wherein no man can labor" for the dissemination of divine truth: so great will be "the terror," the tumult and trouble and persecution of that night – Isa. 21:12; John 9:4]; nor for the arrow ["even bitter words" of the opponents of the truth – Psa. 64:3] that flieth by day" [at the present time, which, in comparison with the dark night that is coming, is called day];
Verse 6. "Nor for the pestilence [moral and spiritual] that walketh in darkness [that spreads and makes its victims among those who are ignorant of the truth, or who are unfaithful to it and hence unworthy of it, and who therefore lack the divine protection and are subject to the "strong delusions" of error – 2 Thes. 2:11]; nor for the destruction [caused by these pestilences] that wasteth at noon-day [that subverts the faith and hope of many, just when the light of divine truth is shining clearest upon the faithful, as it is shining upon us to-day].
Verse 7. "A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand [so great [R1432 : page 229] will be the falling away from the truth, even among those who, like ourselves, received it once with joy and who did for a time run well]; but it shall not come nigh thee." – Because of thy loyalty and uncompromising faithfulness and because of the ample armor of truth and righteousness, thou shalt stand and not fall.
Verse 8. "Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the recompense of the wrongdoers" – who reject the truth or who prove unfaithful to it.
Verses 9,10. "Because thou hast said, 'The Lord is my protection;' because the Most High thou hast made thy refuge, no evil shall befall thee" [no evils of the kind above referred to; and any other seeming evils shall, under divine providence, work together for your good – Rom. 8:28].
Verse 11. "For he shall give his angels [his messengers] a charge concerning thee, to guard thee in all thy ways. [That is, God will raise up some faithful pastors and teachers who will "watch for your souls as they that must give an account." True, there shall arise false teachers, perverting the Word of the Lord and seeking by cunning sophistries to subvert your souls; but if in simplicity of heart God's children require a "Thus saith the Lord" for every element of their faith, and carefully prove all things by the Word, they will be able to distinguish readily the true from the false. And having done so, the Apostle Paul (Heb. 13:17) counsels us to have confidence. The Lord our Shepherd will care for the true sheep.
Verse 12. "They shall bear thee [all the members of the body of Christ, individually and collectively] up in their hands [using their strength], lest thou dash thy foot against a stone" – any stumbling-stone of false doctrine, and especially that great fundamental rock-doctrine of the redemption through the precious blood of Christ; – that "rock of offence and stone of stumbling" to both the houses of nominal Israel (fleshly and spiritual). (Isa. 8:14.) The "feet" of the body are its last members: the saints now living are members of the "feet of Him" (Christ), the ones who are now in danger of being stumbled, as the feet of the Jewish house of servants were in danger in the end or harvest of the Jewish age.
How do such messengers of the Lord bear up the feet of Christ? By helping them to a clear understanding of the truth, and teaching and encouraging them by word and example how to be faithful to the truth, and how to run so as to obtain the prize of our high calling.
Verse 13. "Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet." – Thus borne up in the hands of the Lord's faithful messengers and guarded by their vigilant watchfulness, and under the constant protection of the Most High, God's trusting, faithful children shall triumph over every device of Satan either to overpower or to beguile them – whether he boisterously goes about as a roaring lion, or, whether, serpent-like, he stealthily lurks about to insert his venomous poison.
Verse 14. "Because he hath set his love upon me [saith Jehovah], therefore will I deliver him [from the pestilence, etc.]: I will set him on high [exalt him to joint-heirship with Christ, make him a member of the "Royal Priesthood," and a "partaker of the divine nature"], because he hath known [appreciated] my name."
Verses 15,16. "He shall call upon me and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life [eternal life – John 10:28,29; Rom. 2:1] will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation" – make him understand my plan.
The great Infidel-Philosopher Herbert Spencer sees the trouble coming and helps fulfil our Lord's prediction, Luke 21:26. He says: –
"Since I began to write there has been a clear reaction against individual liberty. We are certainly tending toward State Socialism, which will be a worse form of tyranny than that of any government now recognized in civilization. At present the State is absorbing the individual activity of men. It is intermeddling in all manner of ways in what should be private enterprise. Gradually the State will usurp the functions of private enterprise to such an extent that the people will one day awake to it; but it will be long before they will make an effective resistance. I can not but think that the trouble will be severe – something terrible to contemplate; but I do not begin to set a date for the catastrophe, or to anticipate its horrors."
Source of my life's refreshing springs,
Whose presence in my heart sustains me,
Thy love appoints me pleasant things,
Thy mercy orders all that pains me.
If loving hearts were never lonely,
If all they wish might always be,
Accepting what they look for only,
They might be glad, but not in Thee.
Well may Thine own beloved, who see
In all their lot their Father's pleasure,
Bear loss of all they love, save Thee,
Their living, everlasting treasure.
Well may Thy happy children cease
From restless wishes prone to sin,
And, in Thine own exceeding peace,
Yield to Thy daily discipline.
We need as much the cross we bear
As air we breathe – as light we see:
It draws us to Thy side in prayer,
It binds us to our strength in Thee.
"Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light....Ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious, to whom coming as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God and precious, ye also as living stones are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up sacrifices* acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." – 1 Pet. 2:9,3-5.
At no time in the Church's history has our great adversary been so active in multiplying false doctrines and in diverting attention from the truth by introducing unprofitable and irrelevant questions as at present. Just when the exaltation and glory of the Church are soon to be accomplished, and when the faithful are about to be received into the joy of their Lord, every device is resorted to to beguile them of their reward and to frustrate this feature of the divine plan. To really frustrate any part of the divine plan is impossible: God has purposed to take out from among men a "little flock," "a people for his name," a royal priesthood; and such a company is assuredly being gathered; but whether all those now in the race for the prize will surely be of that company, is still an open question. Take heed, beloved, that no man take thy crown. (Rev. 3:11.) If any come short of their privileges and prove unworthy of the rich inheritance, there are others who will quickly fill their places.
We beseech you, brethren, as you value the glorious hope set before you in the gospel, that you give no heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, as the Apostle terms them (1 Tim. 4:1), but that, with fixedness of purpose, you apply yourselves to the one thing which you are called and privileged to do as members prospectively of that Royal Priesthood. Let us never forget that we are a "peculiar people," separate from the great body of nominal Christians as well as from the world, having higher hopes, aims and ambitions and favored with a clearer insight into the deep things of God, having been called out of our former darkness into his marvelous light. And if thus separate from the world and from Christians who partake largely of the worldly spirit, what wonder if we find them all out of harmony with us and either ignoring or opposing us.
Such opposition is to be expected and will doubtless continue until we finish our course in death. To submit patiently to this opposition is to sacrifice our own natural preferments for the friendship and the pleasures of the present life and to endure hardness as good soldiers for the truth's sake, in whatever shape that hardness may come, in our effort to do the Lord's will and work of advancing the interests of his Kingdom. This is what is meant by the presenting of our bodies living sacrifices in the divine service. To be really in this service involves first, the careful and continual study of God's plan; second, the imbibing of its spirit; leading, thirdly, to an enthusiastic zeal for its accomplishment, and to activity to the extent [R1432 : page 231] of ability in its service, at whatever cost or sacrifice it may require.
If we are faithful in this service we have no time, nor have we the disposition, to give heed either to false doctrines or to other themes which have no bearing on the one thing to which we have solemnly dedicated our lives. Our time is not our own if we have consecrated all to God; and consequently we have none to spare for the investigation of fanciful false theories, built upon other foundations than that laid down in the Scriptures; nor have we time to devote to the ideas and pursuits which engross the world's attention, many of which are harmless in themselves, but would be harmful to us if we were to allow them to occupy consecrated time and to divert our attention from the one thing we ought to be doing. The Apostle warns us "to shun profane babblings, for they will increase unto more ungodliness;" but adds, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth." "Teach no other doctrine: neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions rather than godly edifying which is in faith." – 2 Tim. 2:16; 1 Tim. 1:3,4.
Each consecrated believer should ask himself, How carefully have I studied that which I have clearly recognized as divine truth? and how fully capable am I, therefore, of handling the sword of the spirit? Few indeed are those who can say they have fully digested and assimilated all they have received; that they have let none of these things slip from memory; that they have so treasured it up in their hearts that it is their meditation by day and by night; that they have a ready answer – a "Thus saith the Lord" – for every man that asks them a reason for the hope that is in them, concerning any point of doctrine; that they can clearly and intelligently portray the divine plan, quote the divine authority for each successive step of it, and, if need be, point out its place in the divine system of types. To gain such proficiency in the Word is indeed the work of a lifetime, but every day should see a closer approximation to that proficiency, and will, indeed, if we are faithful students and faithful servants of the truth.
If all the consecrated were thus busily engaged putting on the armor of God, and in proving it by actual use in zealous endeavors to herald the truth and to help others to stand, there would indeed be no time left for disputings on the Anglo-Israel question, or whether the earth is a plane instead of a globe, or whether the principles of socialism would be advisable among Christians in their management of their temporal affairs. Nor would there be time for politics, nor even for the good temperance-reform work, nor the work among fallen women, nor among the slums of the great cities, nor even for preaching the doctrine of divine healing. All this is work which can and will be effectually accomplished in "the Times of Restitution," now in the near future; and, besides, there are others interested in these works (and we are glad of it and bid them God-speed) while we recognize and seek to accomplish the work set before us in the divine plan. And if indeed we have no consecrated time for these things, which are only side issues and not harmful in themselves, except as they divert attention and consume valuable time which has been consecrated to another and higher use, surely there is none whatever for giving heed to false doctrines such as so-called Christian Science, and the various no-ransom or Evolution theories, all of which are attempts to show men how to climb up to everlasting life by some other way than that which the Scriptures point out, viz.: by faith in the precious blood of Christ shed on Calvary for our redemption. He that climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber (John 10:1); and we are commanded to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather to reprove them. – Eph. 5:11.
How narrow this way! say some contemptuously of those who, like Paul, devote their energies to the one thing – the service of the truth. Yes, that will be the verdict against you, of all except the few who, like yourself, have carefully sought out this "narrow way," and who are determined to walk in it regardless of the reproach it brings. The way to the prize of our high calling is not wide enough to admit all the vain philosophies and foolish [R1432 : page 232] questions and babblings and speculations of science, falsely so called. It is only wide enough to admit the Lord's plan and those who are willing to discard all other plans and projects and questionings and to devote themselves fully and entirely to its service, and who are quite willing to bear any reproach it may bring.
Consider your calling, brethren, for ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood to offer sacrifices acceptable to God; a holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. The very object of our being called into this light is that we may let it shine. If we do not let it shine we are unworthy of it, and the treasure will be taken away and we will be left in darkness. If indeed we have received the light and have consecrated ourselves fully to God, let us ask ourselves, What am I doing to show forth the praises of him who hath called me out of darkness? Am I going forth with these tidings to my neighbors near and far? am I busy from day to day in seeking to vindicate the divine character, and to make known God's righteous ways? am I economizing time and means, and so arranging my temporal affairs as to give as much time as possible to the work? and, then, am I diligently studying to make myself thoroughly familiar with the truth, so that I may indeed be a living epistle known and read of all men within the circle of my influence? – a workman indeed that needeth not be ashamed? Can I truly affirm that I am
"All for Jesus, all for Jesus –
All my being's ransomed powers;
All my thoughts, and words, and doings,
All my days, and all my hours?"
If so, then we are just narrow minded enough to say, This one thing I do; and I make every thing else bend to this one thing of showing forth God's praises and helping others into his marvelous light. And to this end I cultivate and use what talents I possess, as a wise steward of my heavenly Master.
Dearly beloved, we impose no vows or bondage upon each other, but the call has its own limitations: the Master has directed us, saying, "Go ye and teach all nations [for the gospel is no longer confined to the Jewish nation], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all things" – concerning our (questionable) Anglo-Israelitish origin? No. – All things concerning the shape of the earth? No. – All the vain philosophies of men who have erred from the truth, and all the subtle sophistries by which they made void the Word of God? No; preach "all things whatsoever I have commanded you." – Matt. 28:19,20.
This is just what the apostles did. There were plenty of errors and side issues in their day; but, ignoring them, they resolutely devoted themselves to the promulgation of the truth. Paul paid no attention to his fleshly genealogy, because he recognized himself as a new creature in Christ Jesus. It was easier for him to prove his fleshly origin as an Israelite than for any of us to do it; but he cared nothing for that. He did not care whether he was of the ten tribes or of the two tribes; for he had on none of the tribal righteousness of the law. His only ambition was to be found "in Christ, not having on his own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ – the righteousness which is of God by faith." (Phil. 3:9.) He says (verses 3-7), "We [new creatures in Christ] are the [real] circumcision, which worship God in spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh [or the fleshly relationships], though indeed I have had confidence also in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I had more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the Church; touching the righteousness which is of the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ."
Hear him again in his zeal for this one thing to which he had devoted his life: "And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the mystery of God; for I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified. [I riveted your attention [R1432 : page 233] on this one thing! I kept this one thing continually before you]. And my speech and my preaching were not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the spirit and power [of the truth], that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." – 1 Cor. 2:1-5.
Paul was a plain, uncompromising teacher. When he knew he had the truth, he spoke it with confidence, and boldly declared that everything contrary to it was false doctrine; and he taught his disciples that it was not only their privilege, but their duty also, to be established in the faith and to know, on the evidence of God's Word, why they believed, and to be able to give to every man that inquired for it a reason for the hope that was in them.
There is among Christians to-day a great lack of established faith on any point of doctrine. They say, "I think, I hope," or "Perhaps it may be so; but this is only my opinion, and it may be right or it may be wrong. I have charity, however, for your opposing opinion and for every man's opinion; for who knows which is right? I'm sure I cannot say; but, nevertheless, I have great faith and charity (?). I shake hands with every body and call him brother if he claims to be a Christian, no matter what he believes and teaches, whether he is pointing to Christ as the door to the sheepfold, or whether he is trying to teach men how to climb up some other way. In Christian love I bid them all God-speed and pray for the success of all their teachings, no matter how antagonistic they may be to each other or to the Scriptures as I read them."
All this passes among Christians generally for large-hearted benevolence and personal humility, while in fact it is an ignoble, compromising spirit that is unwilling to forego the friendship of those who oppose the Lord by opposing the truth; and which would rather see the truth suffer, and those weak in the faith stumbled, than that they should bear the reproach of Christ. Those who have real and sincere faith in God are willing to take him at his word; and with these the first principles of the doctrine should long ago have been established, much of the superstructure of gold and silver and precious stones should already be erected, and the work steadily progressing. Such are able, if they are loyal and true to God, to discern between truth and error. The Apostle John, recognizing this ability, says, "If there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God-speed; for he that biddeth him God-speed is partaker of his evil deeds." (2 John 10.) We ought to know what we believe and why we believe it, and then should be bold and uncompromising in declaring it; "For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound who shall prepare himself to the battle?"
Again, says the Apostle (1 Cor. 2:6-10), "However we speak wisdom among them that are perfect [developed – We are not to cast our pearls before swine]; yet not the wisdom of the world, nor of the princes [the popular leaders and teachers] of this world that come to naught. But we speak the wisdom of God, which was hidden in a mystery, which God ordained before the world unto our glory; which none of the princes of this world knew....Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his spirit; for the spirit [or mind of God in us, is so anxious to know his truth, that it] searcheth all things; yea, the deep things of God."
The princes of this world do know something of Astronomy and Geology, and have their ideas of the shape of the earth, etc., but they have not known this hidden wisdom of the divine plan, which maps out a destiny so glorious to the faithful saints who will constitute the royalty of the age to come. Let the world speculate as it may about its own themes of interest, but let us devote ourselves to the one thing in hand, avoiding foolish questions and genealogies and contentions,...for they are unprofitable and vain. (Titus 3:9.) Let us be faithful to our commission to preach this gospel to the meek who are ready to hear it (Isa. 61:1). Let the bride of Christ be diligent in making herself ready (Rev. 19:7), for the marriage of the Lamb is the event of the very near future.
Stephen was one of the seven deacons chosen by the early Church to manage some of its temporal affairs, and thus relieve the burden of the apostles, that they might give their whole attention to its spiritual oversight – to prayer and to the ministry of the word. (Chapter 6.) But the early Church were all ministers according to their ability and opportunity, and so while Stephen thus endeavored to relieve the apostles of temporal cares, that the Church might have the full benefit of their superior service, he was active also in declaring the truth in harmony with the apostles.
And the Lord was with Stephen and corroborated his teaching by granting him power to work "great wonders and miracles among the people." The rapid growth of the Church under the spur of its early zeal and faith, and the clear testimony of the Lord working with them by miracles and signs, excited and greatly increased the hatred and opposition of a conservative class, who were determined to perpetuate the old institutions of Judaism at any cost; and this hatred ripened into bitter persecution, of which Stephen was the first martyred victim.
The charges brought against Stephen were (1) that he spoke blasphemous words against the holy place [the temple], saying that Jesus of Nazareth would destroy it; and (2) that he would change the customs of Moses. – Acts 6:13,14.
These accusations were likely partial statements of the truth. Stephen had probably been telling the people how that material temple must pass away, and how God was about to rear a more enduring spiritual temple in which it was their privilege to become living stones; and that their temple and in fact the whole system of Judaism was only a shadow or type of the glorious spiritual favors of the new dispensation which it was now their privilege to enjoy, and that their typical system must now pass away, since the antitypical spiritual dispensation had come. We can easily see how these blessed truths would be misunderstood and misrepresented by those who were blinded and excited by prejudice and bitter hatred of the crucified Lord and his followers.
Being unable to resist the wisdom of the spirit by which he spoke, they were the more infuriated against him, and finally they seized him and brought him before the council, the Sanhedrim, and preferred the above charges against him. Stephen doubtless realized the dangers of the hour, but he was so filled with the spirit of God, and so enthusiastic over the glorious gospel he had to proclaim, that he seemed to lose all fear and all concern as to what they would do to him in his eagerness to improve this opportunity of testifying for the Lord before the assembled elders of Israel; and the peace and joy of his heart shone from his eyes, and so illuminated his whole countenance that his face is said to have been like the face of an angel.
In his reply to the charges he briefly rehearsed the whole history of Israel, showing most clearly his faith in the fact that God had marked out the whole economy of that dispensation and that he accepted the teaching of Moses and the prophets, and honored them as God's chosen witnesses of that dispensation. (Acts 7:1-50.) In verses 48-50 he began to show the difference between the material temple in Jerusalem and the glorious temple which God was about to build, and how the former must therefore pass away. But here he seems to have been interrupted; for there is a sudden break in the discourse. They had heard enough, and probably his voice was for a time drowned in the din of many voices to the effect that his last statements were sufficient proof against him.
VERSES 51-53 were probably spoken above the clamor of many excited and angry voices – "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One, of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers; who have received the law by the disposition of angels [through the agency of God's messengers] and have not kept it."
VERSES 54-56. This was enough: they could endure no more. They knew the accusations were only too true, but being far from penitent [R1432 : page 235] and excited to the more desperate and determined opposition, they ground their teeth with rage, and doubtless looked one upon another to see who would make the first move to lay violent hands upon him; and in the interval before the storm broke forth, Stephen, "being full of the holy Spirit [full of a holy enthusiasm for the Lord and the truth] looked up steadfastly toward heaven" [a prayerful look heavenward for grace to help in this time of need, just when the storm cloud was about to burst in its fury].
As he thus looked heavenward a picture of the glory of the Lord floated before his mental vision, and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." His mind was carried forward to the glorious Millennial reign of Christ – the new heavens and the new earth – where he saw Christ stand at the right hand of God [the chief place of power and dominion]. He saw it just as we see it to-day – by faith "in the sure word of prophecy" – and in his mental vision of that future glory caught by the eye of faith, he was refreshed and strengthened in spirit while the merciless stones crushed out his consecrated life.
VERSES 59,60. In the midst of his dying agonies his persecutors heard him commending his spirit, his new life to the Lord, and then praying that this sin might not be laid to their charge.
CHAPTER 8:2 shows again the brotherly love of the early Church: how devout men – men who were not afraid to be counted among the friends and brethren of the faithful martyr – carried [R1433 : page 235] him to his burial and mourned over him.
VERSES 1,3 show the zeal of one, Saul of Tarsus, in the persecution of the early Christians and his part in the persecution of Stephen, even unto death. He consented to his death and took charge of the cast off outer garments of those who stoned him; and he made havoc of the Church: entering into every house and haling men and women, he committed them to prison. Yet Saul's was not a hopeless case, and Stephen's prayer for his persecutors did not go unanswered; for from their midst this one was shortly after raised up to be a most efficient and devoted servant of the truth.
VERSES 1,4 show how the persecution spread to all the Church, causing all except the apostles to leave Jerusalem and remove to other parts. The apostles bravely determined to stand their ground there, doubtless in order to give courage to the scattered flock who might still look to them at Jerusalem as representatives, overseers and counsellors of the Church. Had they gone it would have seemed as if the Church were broken up. But as the others went forth they went everywhere preaching the word, and so the persecution did not really hinder, but it actually helped to spread the truth more and more. They all recognized their commission from God to preach the truth as soon as they received it.
There was no such false idea of preaching then as we find in the churches of to-day. Now chiefly those who are ordained of men, and who have gone through a certain course of human training in so-called theological schools (all of which greatly pervert the Word of God), and who wear broadcloth suits and white neck-ties, and stand in the pulpit of a fine church building, are regarded as preachers of the gospel. But then every member of the Church recognized his obligations, and his divine ordination to the work of the ministry. And so it should be to-day; for, says the Apostle Peter (1 Pet. 2:9), "Ye are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."
This is the work of the whole Church, every member of which is a priest, and every member of which should therefore diligently proclaim the word "in season and out of season" (whether at his own convenience or not) whenever and wherever he can, and by whatsoever means he is able to command – by word of mouth, by the pen or by the press, or by all the agencies he can employ.
LESSON X., SEPT. 4, ACTS 8:5-25.
VERSE 5. This Philip was another of the seven deacons chosen to relieve the apostles of the temporal affairs of the Church; and, like Stephen, he not only helped in this way, but did good service also in preaching Christ in Samaria when driven out of Jerusalem by the persecution.
VERSES 6-8 show how the Lord worked with him and endorsed his teaching, and how the people believed and were blessed and filled with great joy.
VERSES 9-13 mention the admission into the Church, on profession of faith in Christ and by baptism, of one who was not a true convert to Christianity and who was not really consecrated to God, as his symbolic baptism implied. Nevertheless he floated along with the Church and companied with Philip and for a time was [R1433 : page 236] not recognized. Thus, even in those days, we see that there was a nominal church which comprised both the wheat and the tare element. On the contrary, the real Church, "whose names are written in heaven," has never included any but true and consecrated believers – the wheat. As time advanced and the Church increased in numbers, and the mystery of iniquity continued to work, and especially when persecution abated, the numbers of the tares greatly multiplied, until to-day the whole field of "Christendom" is so overrun with tares that the wheat can only be found by careful searching.
The tare element in the Church is not a vicious element: as in the illustration, they are, in general conduct and appearance, like the true wheat class, and can scarcely be distinguished from them until some test of character reveals the unregenerate heart, as in the case of Simon. The truth due and revealed in the harvest or end of this age is the sickle in the Lord's hand for the separation now in progress.
VERSES 14-17 show how the Lord marked the apostles above all others of the Church as his specially chosen and empowered witnesses. While he endorsed the faithful testimony of Philip, Stephen and others, by miraculous signs and wonders in them, the power of conferring spiritual gifts on others by the laying on of hands was reserved for the apostles only. Accordingly, we read that, as soon as the information reached the apostles at Jerusalem that Samaria had received the Word of God and been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, they sent the apostles Peter and John, to lay their hands on them, to communicate the gifts of the spirit which at that time were tokens of fellowship as well as of the Apostolic office.
It is clear, then, from this necessity of sending for the apostles in order that these might receive the holy Spirit, that none could communicate spiritual gifts except the apostles. We remember also that Paul, the Lord's choice for the place of Judas, had this seal to his apostleship. – See 2 Tim. 1:6.
The expression, "received the holy Spirit," we understand to refer specially to the outward manifestation of their acceptance with God in the receiving of the gifts of the Spirit, then conferred upon every member of the Church. This is clear from the fact that every one, even the unconverted, such as Simon Magus, could at once recognize it. Simon evidently looked upon this new and strange power from a mercenary standpoint, and therefore he desired, not only the gifts which all members of the Church received, but also the apostolic power of conferring those gifts upon others by the laying on of hands. – Verses 18,19.
The possession of these gifts of the spirit did not always indicate saintship: they were evidently given to all professed Christians in order to distinguish the Church of that day from the world by these marks of divine recognition of the Church as a whole. And yet, as the apostle Paul affirms, one might possess any one, or even all of them, and be but as a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal – a mere empty professor, lacking the chief and all-important gift of the holy Spirit, which is love; for without this chief gift the others profited nothing to the individual possessing them. – See 1 Cor. 13:1-3.
It is no loss to the Church of to-day that she is not possessed of many of the gifts of the Spirit which have passed away, as the apostle predicted they would. (1 Cor. 13:8.) But three essential gifts of the Spirit were always to remain in the Church; and, thank God, they have not passed away; for still "abideth faith, hope and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." – 1 Cor. 13:13.
VERSES 20-23. Peter's rebuke to Simon was a severe one, indicating that death is the legitimate reward of hypocrisy, if it be persisted in. Peter was very plain in his denunciation of the man's character – and that to his face, and not indirectly or behind his back – saying, "Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter; for thy heart is not right in the sight of God, for I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity." Some of the worldly-wise of the present day would be inclined to complain of Peter's straightforward course and to say that he was uncharitable in thus endeavoring to rid the Church of a hypocritical impostor. In their desire to be all things to all men – not indeed that they may win them to Christ, but that they may increase the numerical and financial strength and prestige of the nominal church – they willingly fellowship all forms of iniquity if it is hidden under an outer robe of Christian profession.
But Peter was not uncharitable: while he thus threw off the mask and unveiled the really unregenerate heart and the hypocrisy which sought to make merchandise of the Lord's favors, he also kindly urged the sinner to repentance that he might become truly a child of God. And in so doing, he at least saved the Church of Samaria from the imposition of one whom otherwise they would have esteemed as a brother, and whose erroneous teaching might have led many astray from the truth.
VERSE 24 indicates at least some measure of repentance on the part of Simon which was due only to Peter's plain rebuke.
VERSE 25 shows the zeal of the apostles.
DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER RUSSELL: – I enclose $10.00, our regular donation to Tract Fund. Am sorry I could not remit sooner, but we have been rather pressed for ready money. We will try to send more as we find ourselves able to do so.
Next Sunday afternoon I shall bring a Methodist friend to the chapel. I have been working with him for ten years, and though he is beginning to give an intellectual assent to the truth, he will not yet accept it, for prudential reasons. I have given him the three volumes of DAWN, a few TOWERS and all the Tracts, and I wish him now to hear one of your restitution sermons.
The great topic among us here is the conversion – his own term – of Brother Rogers. I gave him up three or four years ago, and so did Brother West during his canvass here; and now the dear old man can scarce contain his joy. He has spent the last few Sabbaths at our home, and they are love-feasts indeed.
At the last M.E. Quarterly Conference, charges were preferred against him and he supported his new position right nobly and at considerable length. He concluded by resigning his offices and membership in the M.E. church, and now is a free man in the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord. Hallelujah!
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I give below extracts from a letter recently received from my own dear sister in the flesh. Undoubtedly it will be of interest to the readers of the TOWER, as it was exceedingly so to Sister W. and myself.
Dear Brother and Sister: – Your welcome letter of the 11th received. We were indeed glad to hear from you, and thank you for your gift, "The Wonderful Story." It is beautiful – a wonderful story indeed! I can see its beauty as I never saw it before. It now has a new meaning to me. We would like to have the second volume of MILLENNIAL DAWN. Please send it as soon as possible. I can hardly wait for it.
I have just finished reading the first volume for the second time. It has done more for me than any other book in helping me to understand God's Word. And I am only beginning to see the truth. I enjoy greatly the new light which I received through the reading of "The Wonderful Story" and "THE PLAN OF THE AGES." The truth has indeed made me very happy, and I am hungry for more such Bible truth. Now I am beginning to understand why you left the pulpit and the Baptist church, and what you spoke of when on your last visit, although at that time I could not comprehend it on account of the muddy waters of tradition. But thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus for "the shining light" upon the sacred pages of the Word of God, which "light" has now shone into my heart. I realize that I am only a babe in faith, but with the help of God I desire to grow in knowledge, love and grace. I also feel very thankful that he has permitted me to see his harmonious and reasonable plan before "the day of trouble" comes.
Dear Brother and Sister, what I have written is my own experience. We have loaned the books to friends, and trust they will perform their mission. There are some who do not believe this wonderful truth, but that does not discourage us.
The above letter verifies the words of the Scriptures, "Your labor is not in vain in the Lord." What a comfort lies in such a promise! It was a comfort to us in times past, and is now still more so; for after we had been so highly favored as to receive the truth ourselves, our desire went out for those who were connected with us by the ties of flesh and blood. The majority, however, did not seem able to see the truth – Matt. 7:14; but it seems my trip four years ago to Maryland, where my sister and her husband resided at that time, was not in vain, although for about two and a half years it seemed as if she had forgotten the testimony. From her letter, however, we see that she still remembered the tidings of great joy which shall be unto all people (Luke 2:11.); and when "The Wonderful Story" reached her it refreshed her mind and heart. Praise the Lord! It became, indeed, a wonderful story to our sister.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – Your kind favor is at hand, and I thank you very much for it. I think your expressions regarding Prof. Totten and his writings are quite correct. I have read his views, and while I have found some Scripturally supported arguments, I have found much that is merely assertion, for which I can see no proof. Certainly only the very learned (?) can page 238 understand him all the way through: I cannot. But not so with the DAWNS. They are plainly written, easily understood by application, and to my mind well supported by the Scriptures, else I would not try to place them in the hands of others.
I have nearly finished Volume II., and it is my purpose to re-read both volumes and know every argument and point and have them all ready for use. I hope I can use them to the glory of God and the good of others.
Kindly let me know how far back you can furnish copies of the ZION'S WATCH TOWER, and at what cost? [Old TOWERS are supplied at the rate of five cents each. We can supply about two-thirds of the issues as far back as 1884. – PUBLISHERS.] I have already received much help from a few back numbers and desire to get more copies of other numbers. Also please name price of Old Theology Tracts in assorted lots of 50 or 100. [Since January 1st the O.T. Tracts, Nos. 1 to 6, 9, 10, 12 to 14 are supplied free for gratuitous distribution, and the expense is met by voluntary donations to the Tract Fund. – PUBLISHERS.]
I thank you very much for your kind wishes, and earnestly pray that I may "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ." I thank God for the DAWNS and the light they have given me; and may his blessing rest on you and the able work you are doing for his name.
Yours in Christ and seeking to do his will,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – Please accept the inclosed P.O. order for $35.00 as my ministration to the public service for the saints, for the past three months. It is short of my proposed "hope," but this on account of obedience to the commandment, "Give to every one that asketh of thee, and him that would borrow from thee turn not away." Indeed, I have found the saying verified, viz.: "It is more blessed to give than to receive." And I know that the Lord is abundantly able to make all things abound unto such as take heed unto his Word, walking by faith and not by sight, having laid hold of the glorious hope, which we have as an anchor of life, both sure and firm, and entering the place within the vail.
The Norwegian Tract was quite a glad surprise. It will be used to supply many Norwegian vessels that come into port. I have sent samples to Norway, and – if you can afford it – you may send one hundred of them to my father in Norway. As a good many people go to his place of business, it will be convenient for him to distribute the same.
With much Christian love, your brother,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – While examining Zech. 11:8, I came across Hosea 5:7. The clear, emphatic context of the latter adds force to the exact thirty years [one month] of [R1434 : page 238] the prophet as the divinely set time during which the "false shepherds" with their "portion" or "possessions [Leeser's trans.] shall be devoured." "Now" (see preceding verse, noting that Israel, Ephraim and Judah, with their flocks, "go to seek the Lord, but they shall not find him, he hath withdrawn himself from them"), "Now," while in that rejected, spewed-out condition – "Now shall one month devour them with their possessions." The devouring of these is the last thing mentioned in this paragraph. Benjamin and Ephraim are next made desolate, "broken through punishment." Previous to this time God said, "Ephraim is joined to his idols, let him alone." It is in their afflictions – in the great time of trouble – that they will come to acknowledge their guilt, and to seek the Lord and his presence, saying, "Come, and let us return unto the Lord, for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind up our wounds." Another thought: In Hosea 2:21,22 the Lord says he will answer prayer [Leeser], and the way or channel through which he will answer is indicated. He says, "I will answer the heavens and they shall answer the earth," etc. The thought is that the Anointed Christ (head and body), as a royal (heavenly) priesthood, shall make successful intercession for the earth (represented through its princes), and these princes answer the people, and so the great antitypical day of Jezreel is to be realized. – Hosea 1:11; 2:2. – Leeser.
So we are to look for the existence of the "false," "foolish," "idol" shepherds, whose "arm" of power shall not be "clean dried up," and whose "right eye" (mind's eye or right understanding) shall not be "utterly darkened" till the end of the thirty years, 1908. – Zech. 11:17.
That the overthrow of the present nominal ecclesiastical systems shall precede the overthrow of the civil powers is thus indicated – the former continuing only until A.D. 1908 and the latter until A.D. 1914. [We differ slightly here. The Editor expects from Rev. 19:20 that the final overthrow of present governments [R1434 : page 239] will be at the same time as the fall of ecclesiasticism and will be followed by from five to seven years of socialism and anarchy, to end with 1914 by the establishment of Christ's Millennial government.]
The union of the two systems [political and ecclesiastical], now so generally suggested, will be only partial, for the present "shaking" is preparatory to their destruction. "General creed smashing" is on time. The two ends of the ecclesiastical heaven – Protestantism and Romanism – shall roll together, come closer and closer together, for the purpose of more effectually opposing free thought and action. The fate of these powers has thus a little while to tremble in the balance before the ever darkening war clouds will burst in all their destructive fury. The three chapters of Zephaniah and thirteen of the fourteen chapters of Zechariah seem to apply in the Millennial age, including the "lapping period." How new and blessed the Bible of to-day – God's holy Word!
I rejoice that I can share with the Chief Reaper in the present harvest. 'Tis mine to thrust in the sickle of truth every day, though not by a set form of words, in a snug, well-arranged, lengthy discourse; but we know that the spirit of the message, accompanying the word fitly spoken to a fellow-toiler, is the most effective means of preaching. Then the judicious distribution of the TOWER, Old Theology Tracts and the Dawns enables us each to preach many sermons in a comparatively short time.
How many of us, who are now rejoicing in the present glorious harvest truth, came into possession of it by reading! How few by the sermons we have heard preached! I might say that in my own experience I never have heard a sermon on any Millennial-dawn theme (though it has been mine to make and fill a goodly number of appointments for public meetings), yet I have read and re-read all that Brother Russell and those laboring with him have published for several years past, with ever increasing interest. Nearly all that the prophets have written has, during the past, been sealed – not understood – having been written for us who are living in the present "due time" for its fulfilment. Thus enlightened, we shall not walk in darkness, nor fail of our share in the work and its reward.
How unmistakably we witness the sealing effect of the harvest truth we preach. We witness the wheat, the consecrated, one by one, with zeal embracing it, and soon in the love of it joining the reapers, while the tares are gathered in bundles. Praise the Lord! Thus the work goes on.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – Yours of the 17th at hand. Thank you for your advice. In the last lot of books you sent me there was a copy of TOWER for July '88, and I can not tell you the joy it has given me. Although an old one, it was new to me, and contained just what I needed, viz.: "Ask What Ye Will" and "The Prayer of Faith." I freely admit that I had altogether erroneous views on these subjects. Your explanation under the latter heading, of sickness and how we should receive it, was needed, for I had never understood the difference between chastisement and rebuke. Thank God for his wondrous gifts to the Church!
Revival and sanctification meetings seem to be the order of the day here. Sanctification, as taught by some, is not the pure white garment of Christ's imputed righteousness, but the filthy rags of their own righteousness, claiming that it is impossible for them to sin, and that they stand before God pure and holy. Some claim that they have not sinned for a year and some for a longer period of time. None seem to understand the Bible view, that sanctification is through the imputed righteousness of Christ supplying all our unwilling deficiencies.
Your servant in Christ,
VERY DEAR BROTHER: – I still feel grieved that I was under the necessity of quitting the Colporteur field, and am hoping that my providential wheel may yet turn again in that direction. I do feel that I never can do enough for the Master, and often ask myself the question, Why am I so highly favored as to receive the message and to behold the light of the unfolding Word now due to be made known, while the world is permitted to see and not perceive, to hear and not understand.
The field here is rather limited; and what with a non-reading people under powerful pulpit influence, the good work progresses slowly; yet there are a few precious sheaves already garnered, and an impression made that I feel sure will not be effaced.
Am pleased with the last WATCH TOWER. Yes, the blind leading the blind; for many years I have been groping in the rear, but the scales have fallen, the bands are broken and I am free.
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[R1434 : page 243]
|VOL. XIII.||AUGUST 15, 1892.||NO. 16.|
"Since 'death passed upon all men,' because of Adam's sin, and since all had to be redeemed before they could escape from that death sentence, how came it that Enoch and Elijah escaped from it before the redemption-price was paid?"
We answer, that they did not escape, but were still under the sentence of death until the ransom was paid. The execution of the sentence was deferred in their cases, and their lives prolonged; but they would eventually have died had they not been redeemed. After father Adam was sentenced he lived nearly a thousand years, but under his particular sentence he could not have lived more than a thousand years; because the sentence read "In the day that thou eatest thereof, dying thou shalt die." And since "a day with the Lord is as a thousand years" (2 Pet. 3:8), his death was fixed to take place within that "day." But God left the way open to make types of Enoch and Elijah, and hence, so far as they and the remainder of the human family were concerned, no limit of time for the execution of the sentence was fixed. If, therefore, it pleased God to have it so, they might have continued to live for thousands of years, under the death sentence, without dying. In Elijah's case, although he was translated, it is not said that he did not die afterward. His translation made a type, as we have seen (MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., Chapter viii.), and he may have died and been buried afterward, unknown to men, as was Moses. – Deut. 34:6.
But with Enoch the case was different, as we are expressly told that he did not die. In his case, therefore, it is evident that the execution of the sentence was deferred, but there is no evidence that it was annulled. He, therefore, remained under that sentence of death until he was ransomed by our Lord's death. As a member of the fallen race, he was an imperfect man, and although redeemed, and although a restitution to human perfection is provided for him in the divine plan, we are not certain that he is yet a perfect man. For the Apostle seems to teach that none of those whose faithfulness was attested before the Gospel call was made will be made perfect until after Christ and his Bride are made perfect. He says (Heb. 11:39,40), after enumerating many of the ancient worthies, Enoch included, verse 5, "These all, having obtained witness through faith, received not the promise [everlasting life, etc.], God having provided some better thing [priority of time as well as of honor and position] for us [the Gospel Church], that they [the ancient worthies] without us [apart from us] should not be MADE PERFECT." And since the Church, the body of Christ, has not yet been perfected in glory, it is but a reasonable inference that wherever Enoch is and however happy and comfortable he may be he is not yet made a perfect man, and will not be until all the members of the body of Christ have first been made perfect in the divine nature. [R1434 : page 244]
As to where God took Enoch, we may not know, since God has not revealed that. Should we speculate as to whether God took him to some other world, and for what purpose, it would be but an idle speculation. We may not be wise above what is written. We may be certain, however, that Enoch did not go to heaven – the spiritual state or condition – for such is the record: "No man hath ascended up to heaven but he that came down from heaven – even the Son of Man." (John 3:13.) Elijah is said to have ascended to heaven; but, from our Lord's statement above quoted, that must be understood to refer to the air – as, when it is said that "the fowl fly in the midst of heaven," it certainly can not refer to the heavenly condition, which flesh and blood cannot enter nor even see without a change of nature, which has been promised only to the Gospel Church.
Understanding, as above shown, that Enoch was preserved from actual dissolution in death – although, already under that sentence, legally dead (Rom. 5:12; Matt. 8:22) until the ransom price for all was paid by our Lord's death – we can see that there will now be no necessity for his dissolution, but that when the due time shall have come he may be fully and completely restored from even the measure of human imperfection he had inherited, to full, perfect manhood.
So, too, it will be with those of the world who will be living when the "times of restitution" are fully ushered in: it will not be necessary for them to go into the tomb. For although they are already legally dead, in that condemnation [or sentence] to "death passed upon all men," yet their penalty has also been legally met by another, Christ. He now holds the judgment against all, but graciously offers to cancel it entirely for each one who will accept restitution to life and perfection on the conditions of the New Covenant.
As during this Gospel age the Church, although once, under sentence, they were dead in trespasses and sins, are reckoned as freed from condemnation, as justified, and as having passed from death unto life when they accept Christ's merit under the New Covenant, so it will be in the Millennial age with those of the world who, upon learning it, accept God's offer of life. They also will be reckoned as having passed from death unto life – as though they had been utterly dead and then been awakened. So complete is the reckoning that those who then sin wilfully, and forfeit their reckoned life, die the second death, although they all may not actually have died before. And indeed so, too, it is now with the Gospel Church – if after we, through faith in Christ, are reckoned as no longer dead, but alive toward God through Jesus Christ, we were to sin wilfully, intentionally, we would thus bring upon ourselves again (a second time) the full penalty of sin, death, and this would be the second death.
But while there are such similarities between the Lord's methods now and in the next age for justification to life, or passing from death unto life reckonedly, there are very different arrangements for the two ages for the actual passing out of death into life, when the trial of each is finished. The Church of the Gospel age walks by faith entirely, and not by sight. Her trial occurs before the actual setting up of the Kingdom, and hence each one, as he finishes his course, must wait for the crown of life. They "all die like men," and the world recognizes no difference. But while they actually die the same as other men, God keeps up the reckoned difference between those who have accepted his offer of life and become his children and others who have not done so. Hence in Scripture believers are not said to be dead, but to be sleeping until the "morning," when, according to God's pre-arranged plan, such shall have actually and in full measure the life now reckoned as theirs under God's covenant in Christ. Thus our Lord spoke of Lazarus and others as sleeping, and the Apostles' writings refer to "those who sleep in Jesus." And the Scriptures, throughout, preserve the same sentiment, saying: "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning;" "I shall be satisfied when I awake in thy likeness," etc. The only exceptions to this "sleeping" are particularly mentioned by the Apostle when he says, "We shall not all sleep, although we must all be changed." Those living in the [R1434 : page 245] time when our Lord begins to take his great power and reign, although they all must die, because consecrated even unto death, yet they will not "sleep," their "change" to spirit-being coming in the moment of dying. And in this blessed time (according to the evidences presented in Millennial Dawn, Vols. II. and III.) we believe we have been living since April, 1878 A.D. What a blessing this is we find stated by our Lord, saying, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth – yea, saith the Spirit, they rest from their labors [from weariness, etc.], but their works [not discontinued in the sleep of death] follow with them." – Rev. 14:13.
But during the Millennial age it will be somewhat different. While then, as now, all who accept the New Covenant will at once be reckoned as having passed from death unto life, they will no more get the perfect life instantly than we do now. They will get it at the end of the Millennial age, as we get it in the end of the Gospel age. Yet not just the same; for the Gospel Church, as we have seen, has waited in the sleep of death for the close of the age and the reward of the perfect life, while the faithful of the Millennial age, instead of dying, will gradually improve in health – mental, moral and physical – until perfection will be reached by all such, at the close of the Millennial age. Meantime, those who sin wilfully against full light and full ability will be accounted to have committed the sin unto death; and death to such, even if born in the Millennium, will be the second death, because they will be reckoned as having passed out of Adamic death when brought to a knowledge of the ransom and of their probation for life through the New Covenant.
There has been a great deal said and written on hope; there is being a great deal said and written on it; and yet what constitutes the "One Hope" seems to be, to many minds, as vague as ever. Some claim "the large hope," others "the larger hope," and others again "the largest hope." Anything more vague than such phrases is scarcely conceivable. In the same way, some seem to prefer the small hope, others the smaller hope, and others again the smallest hope, as though they had concluded that the smaller their hope the more certain would be its genuineness. The extent of the hope, whether it be large or small, does not constitute its genuineness. It may be the largest conceivable and yet be a counterfeit, and it may be the smallest conceivable and still be no better. All depends upon the elements of the hope being right and its foundation [R1435 : page 245] adequate. There is much to be learned by considering the phrases which inspired men have used regarding hope.
In writing to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul reminded them of a time when they had no hope: "Remember [said he] that ye, being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision in the flesh made by hands: that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world." (Eph. 2:11,12.) The Apostle did not mean that they had no hope of anything. Like other men, those Ephesians had hope of a great many things, but at the time referred to they had no hope of the things in question. The things in question are "the unsearchable riches of Christ," and at the time referred to they were "without Christ." Before Christ came the descendants of Israel, called "the Circumcision," had a polity or citizenship of their own, but the other nations of the earth, called "the Uncircumcision," had neither part nor lot in the matter. Before Christ came the Circumcision were under "covenants of promise," but the Uncircumcision were "strangers and foreigners" to all that they contained. The Ephesians were a fair sample of the Gentiles generally. Without the Christ all men are without "the hope" in the world. [R1435 : page 246]
The one hope is designated "the hope of the gospel" (Col. 1:23), "the hope of eternal life" (Tit. 3:7), "the hope of salvation" (1 Thes. 5:8), "the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27), etc. Nothing could be more specific. It is not a hope, but the hope. It is not some general hope, but this particular one – the hope comprising the specified elements. The specific character of the hope is emphasized by all the apostles, but by none more so than the Apostle Paul. Take another example. Referring to the Gentiles in Christ being built upon the same foundation as the Israelites in Christ, he says: "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God: and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone." "For this cause I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: how that by revelation he made known to me the mystery, which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel." "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (Eph. 2:19 to 4:6.) "The household of God" is no longer composed exclusively of Israelites, but of those out of every nation; and its one foundation is occupied by Israelites and non-Israelites alike. The anxiety of the apostle is that "the unity of the Spirit" may be kept in the bond of peace. He enumerates the elements of that unity. They are seven units; and one of those units is the "one hope." There can no more be two hopes in "the unity of the Spirit" than there can be two Lords or two Gods in it.
The one hope is the hope of Israel. The Jews accused the Apostle Paul of heresy, and he was under examination before Felix. When Festus succeeded Felix, Paul was in prison at Caesarea. The Jews wanted Paul sent to Jerusalem for trial, Paul appealed unto Caesar, and Festus sent him to Rome. At Rome Paul called the chief of the Jews together, and having explained to them his position he declared: "For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you, because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain." They expressed their desire to hear him concerning the "sect" which was everywhere spoken against, "and when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not." Then Paul applied to those who believed not the words of "the Holy Spirit by Esaias the prophet" (Isa. 6:9,10), and concluded with this emphatic announcement: "Be it known therefore unto you, that the Salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it." (Acts 28:16-31.) There are three phrases here – "the Salvation of God," "the kingdom of God," and "the hope of Israel." They are practically the equivalents of each other, and cover "those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ." Israel, of course, is the nation composed of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their descendants; and the hope of Israel is the blessedness promised to that nation, and through it to all the nations of the earth. The Salvation of God is another way of expressing the blessedness promised in the Abrahamic covenant, and the Kingdom of God is the medium through which that blessedness is to be realized; so that whatever [R1435 : page 247] there is in the Kingdom of God, and in the salvation of God, there is also in the hope of Israel, and vice versa.
The hope of Israel is the hope of the promise. Before the Apostle Paul was sent to Rome, and while under examination at Caesarea, he testified, saying: "My manner of life from my youth, which was at first among my own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope's sake, King Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead?" (Acts 26:4-8.) Hope is impossible without a promise. Genuine hope is impossible without an adequate promise. The one hope is impossible without the Divine promise. The Divine promise is the foundation upon which the one hope rests. The foundation of the one hope is not any Divine promise, nor every Divine promise, but the Divine promise – "the promise made of God unto our fathers." The particulars of the promise can be easily traced. To Abraham the Lord said: "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee, and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing; and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee, and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed." "And I will establish My covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting (age-lasting) covenant, to be a God unto thee and thy seed after thee." To Isaac the Lord said: "Go not down unto Egypt, dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of; sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I swore unto Abraham thy father; and I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of Heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." And to Jacob the Lord said: "I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shall spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south; and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." (Gen. 12:2-3; 17:1-7; 26:1-4; 28:10-15.) In these particulars of the promise there are several elements, some of which require special attention.
1. – The Blessedness promised. The root of the blessedness is the resurrection of the dead. Hence the interrogation which the Apostle Paul addressed to King Agrippa touching the hope of the promise: "Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead?" (Acts 26:8.) It is the fact that the resurrection of the dead is the root of blessedness promised which gives to the interrogation its point. Were the resurrection of the dead not the root of the blessedness promised, Paul's question in such a connection would be senseless. But Paul did not indulge in senseless questions; and this one is most pertinent. The blessedness promised is the removal of the curse which is resting upon man and his entire environment, and that curse cannot be removed without his resurrection from the dead. Resurrection is a re-standing or standing again, not in some stage of a fallen or lapsed state or condition, but in Adam's original state and condition, which was in every respect "very good." (Gen. 1:31.) Resurrection is complete restoration to the state and condition in which Adam left the hands of his Creator. The resurrection of a "blind" man is complete when he sees as clearly as Adam ever saw; the resurrection of a "deaf" man is complete when he hears as acutely as Adam ever heard; the resurrection of a "dumb" man is complete when he speaks as fluently as Adam ever spoke; the resurrection of a "leper" is complete when he is as clean as Adam ever was; and the resurrection [R1435 : page 248] of a "lunatic" is complete when he is as sane as Adam ever was. In like manner every element of every disease, defect, deformity, [R1436 : page 248] weakness, etc., physical and mental, might be enumerated, and whatever it may be the resurrection of its subject is complete when he is delivered from it. The resurrection of the dead varies as to time, order, manner, etc. That is only of secondary importance. It is of first importance, however, to see that the resurrection is re-standing in man's original state and condition; and that that is the root of the blessedness promised by Jehovah.
2. The Extent of the blessedness promised. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their seed are to be blessed. That is the Israelitish part of the promise. All the nations of the earth are to be blessed. That is the non-Israelitish part of the promise. It is not Abraham alone, nor Isaac alone, nor Jacob alone who is to be blessed, but all three individually. Nor is it merely those three fathers who are to be blessed, but the whole of their children as well. It is not some particular generation or generations of the patriarchal seed who are to be blessed, but the whole of their generations. Nor is it some particular generation or generations of all the nations of the earth who are to be blessed, but the whole of their generations. This, that, or the other generation or generations of one nation is not the equivalent of one nation, nor is this, that, or the other generation or generations of all nations the equivalent of "all nations;" in each case it is only a part, and a part is not the equivalent of the whole. The one part of the promise covers every individual of the Israelitish nation, and the other part of the promise covers every individual of all the other nations of the earth without exception, past, present, or future.
To have "The hope of the promise" in its integrity it is necessary to have the promise in its integrity, and to have the promise in its integrity it is necessary to have at least its two major parts in their integrity. To limit or emasculate either of these parts is suicidal. If the Israelite limits or emasculates the Israelitish part of the Abrahamic Covenant he excludes himself from it, and if the non-Israelite limits or emasculates the non-Israelitish part of it he does the same. Neither the one nor the other can then show that he is included in it. Wish, desire, or expectation, ill or well-founded, he may have, but "The hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers" he cannot have.
3. The Medium of the blessedness promised. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their seed are the medium. Not the whole of Abraham's seed, but his seed in that particular line: – "And God said to Abraham, As for Sarai, thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her." "Sarah, thy wife, shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac, and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting (age-lasting) covenant, and with his seed after him." (Gen. 17:15-19.) Referring to this election, the Apostle Paul wrote: – "They are not all Israel which are of Israel; neither because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children; but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for the seed." (Rom. 9:6-8.) Abraham's wife was "barren," and they were both "old and well-stricken in age." What could Abraham do under such circumstances? He could believe "God who quickeneth (maketh alive) the dead;" and that was exactly what he eventually did: "Being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about a hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb; he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that what He hath promised He was able to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness." (Rom. 4:13-22.) Thus Isaac was brought forth. In reference to this son of promise, God afterwards said to Abraham: "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering." (Gen. 22:2.) [R1436 : page 249] What could Abraham do now? He could obey God; and that was exactly what he did: "By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac, and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said that In Isaac shall thy seed be called, accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure." (Heb. 11:17-19.) Thus Isaac was brought forth the second time. The elect seed is the seed of "promise" throughout. The elect seed in "figure" was the seed of promise, and the elect seed in reality is also the seed of promise. The Apostle Paul identifies the real seed most unmistakably: "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." Not the Christ in one person merely, but the Christ in many persons: "For ye are all the children of God, by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." – Gal. 3:16-29.
The medium of the blessedness was incomplete while it was merely "according to the flesh:" it required to be "according to the Spirit" also. Hence in writing respecting its Root, the Apostle Paul describes Him as having been "made of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." "Whose are the fathers, and of whom concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen." (Rom. 1:1-4; 9:5.) It was necessary that Christ should come according to the flesh in order that man might be redeemed; and He redeemed man from the curse by becoming a curse for him: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." (Gal. 3:13,14.) The death of Christ was necessary, but the death of Christ in itself is not the medium of blessedness. There is no blessedness in death, but the death of Christ prepared the way for untainted life. Untainted life is the cardinal element of blessedness; and the Root of it is the Christ – "the Resurrection and the Life." In resurrection, in life, in incorruptibility, in immortality, and having all authority and power in heaven and on earth, Christ is the Root of the medium of blessedness for all the nations of the earth. In the complete medium of blessedness there are natures both human and divine. In those natures there are many ranks, and from the lowest to the highest of them Christ "is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen."
The Apostle Paul had often to defend his position. Sometimes his defence was before a sacred and at other times before a secular tribunal, but the ground-work of it was always substantially the same. When at Jerusalem, Paul was accused of polluting the Temple. This caused a great tumult, and some of the Jews "went about to kill him." The captain took him in charge, and "carried him into the castle." The next day, "because he would have known the certainty whereof he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them." In his defence, "when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question." (Acts 21 to 23.) "The Hope," "the Hope of Israel," "the Hope of the promise," and "the Hope and resurrection" are not so many different Hopes, but the "One Hope" presented under different phases. The hope was given to Israel, and is phrased "the hope of Israel;" the hope rests upon the promise of Jehovah, and is phrased "the hope of the promise;" and the hope in realization is the [R1436 : page 250] resurrection of the dead, and is phrased, "The hope and resurrection." When the phraseology of inspired men is ascertained and remembered their ideas may be apprehended, but without their phraseology their ideas are impossible of apprehension. In connection with no subject is it more important to bear this in mind than in connection with the present one, it being fundamental to every Christian. In his day, the Apostle Paul raised the One Hope as his rallying cry: "Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day" (Acts 24:21); and from that day to this it has been the only adequate rallying cry for the Church of the living God.
Because all men will eventually be raised from the first death to the second life, and that with all of life's original concomitants, it does not follow that all men will always live. They may, or they may not, according to each individual case. That was Adam's position at the beginning. He refused to conform to the law of the first life, and he incurred its penalty – the first death; and any man who may refuse to conform to the law of the second life will incur its penalty – "the second death." The promise made of God unto our fathers guarantees to every man the second life, but it guarantees no man against the second death. It is not God's purpose to unman any man. In voluntary obedience the second life is to be perpetuated, and in wilful disobedience it is to be terminated.
"The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us, to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world; looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ." – Tit. 2:11,12.
"We trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those that believe." – 1 Tim. 4:10.
It is very generally conceded among Christians that Universalists are the only class of people who have any claim upon, or use for, this text of Scripture; but although we are not Universalists, we also, with Paul, trust in the living God [Jehovah], who is the Savior of all men, especially of those that believe. Thus the Apostle declares that in one sense the salvation which God has promised is to be universal, while in another sense it is to be restricted to believers.
A little reflection upon the general teaching of the Scriptures makes the Apostle's meaning here very evident. Nowhere in the Scriptures is eternal life promised to any except on conditions of faith in Christ the Redeemer, and repentance, or change of heart from sin to righteousness – "For there is no other name under heaven which has been given among men, by which we can be saved;" and "Now God commandeth all men, every where, to repent, because he hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead." (Acts 4:12; 17:30,31.) And the numerous exhortations to faith and repentance, as the prerequisites on man's part to salvation, are too familiar to every Christian to need repetition here. We merely cite a few. See John 3:15,36; 6:47; Acts 13:39; Mark 6:12; Luke 13:3,5; Acts 3:19.
In harmony with this teaching of the Scriptures, we therefore understand the Apostle's statement to signify that God is the Savior of all men from the Adamic death, or the death into which all were precipitated by Adamic transgression, in that he hath provided a redemption for all. In thus providing salvation and ultimately offering it to all men as a free gift of his grace, through Jesus Christ, who is "the propitiation for the sins of the whole world," God stands in the attitude of a savior toward all men. He is the Savior whether all men accept the proffered salvation or not.
But, while thus the Savior of all, there is a particular or special sense in which God is the Savior of those that believe and accept this reconciliation [R1437 : page 251] and the opportunity offered of making it everlasting salvation. This salvation is conditional: "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." (Acts 16:31.) This is an unequivocal promise of actual and permanent salvation to every individual who believes, i.e., heartily accepts. To such an one, God not only stands in the attitude of a savior, ready and willing to save, but he will go farther and actually accomplish his salvation; and this is the special sense in which he is the Savior of them that believe. Between the general sense in which he is the Savior of all men, and this special sense in which he is the Savior of them that believe, there is, therefore, all the difference between a possible and an actual, a proffered and an accepted salvation.
The general difficulty with Christian people on this subject is, that they do not admit that God is the Savior of all men – that he stands ready and willing to deliver all from sin and death into life and liberty of righteousness. Some declare that he stands ready to be the Savior of all "the elect." Others, while claiming that God is willing and ready to save all, practically deny it by claiming that the necessary believing must be done in the present life – which practically excludes three-fourths of the race from any opportunity of sharing in it, since more than that proportion have died without any knowledge of the only name given under heaven or among men, whereby we must be saved. This view contradicts God's Word; because for even one member of the human race to be left unprovided for – to be left without the needful information and opportunity – would render false the statement which God makes, that he stands as a Savior to all men. The entire matter is clear, however, when viewed from the standpoint of the Plan of the Ages – which shows that through the redemptive work of Christ God has provided salvation for all from all that "was lost" in Adam; and that the knowledge necessary to the acceptance of this provided gift, while it has reached only the few in the present life, is to be testified to all in due time – in the coming age, in which Christ and his Church shall reign over and bless, with his gracious offer, all the families of the earth.
God has appointed means of salvation, of which every one who is sick of sin and desirous of a return to his love and service will gladly avail himself. At great cost it was purchased – even at the sacrifice of the "only-begotten" and well-beloved Son, who freely gave himself for us all. (John 3:16.) Condemnation unto death passed upon us through our father Adam, while we were yet in his loins and were therefore represented in him; but the death of the Son of God, "the man Christ Jesus," as a ransom or substitute for Adam, taking his place in death, legally released, not only Adam, but also all his posterity, from death. Thus, legally, the salvation of the race was secured – made possible – possible for God to be "just and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus" (Rom. 3:26) – when the sacrifice of Christ Jesus was finished on the cross: and this is what our Lord meant when, dying, he bowed his head and said, "It is finished." And of its actual accomplishment toward all them that believe, "God hath" as the Apostle states, "given full assurance in that he hath raised him from the dead;" not indeed again in the flesh [The body of his humiliation was taken by him merely for the suffering of death, because, as by man (Adam) came death, by man also (the perfect man and therefore the acceptable sacrifice, Christ Jesus) must come the resurrection or salvation from the dead.] – but to the divine nature, a spirit being, endued with all power in heaven and in earth. He is therefore abundantly able to accomplish the great work of restitution of the dead – of whosoever wills to accept everlasting life on the terms and conditions of the New Covenant.
But before this provided salvation can become actual or special to any individual, such an one must believe the testimony of God with reference to the matter, as expressed in his Word. He must realize (1) that he is imperfect, a sinner, unworthy of everlasting life; (2) he must recognize the man Christ Jesus as his personal redeemer, as the one through whose meritorious sacrifice for human sins comes the privilege of reconciliation with God and the [R1438 : page 251] consequent return to perfection and lasting life. All who thus believe and who act accordingly, [R1438 : page 252] i.e., who accept the proffered salvation as the free and unmerited "gift of God our Savior," secured for us by him through the Atonement for sins provided in the sacrifice at Calvary – and who, in accordance with this faith, reform their lives, submitting themselves thereafter to the will of God – these shall in due time fully realize the special or actual salvation promised in the above text.
In accepting Christ as the Redeemer, the believing one is reckoned as no longer a dying son of the dead Adam, but as a living son of the "last Adam" (1 Cor. 15:45), having a new life in Christ. "Therefore if any man be in Christ [i.e., represented in Christ instead of in Adam, as formerly], he is a new creature" [newly "created in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:10) – reckonedly; and in due time, if he "abide in him," he will be a new creature actually]. – 2 Cor. 5:17. Such have, in God's estimation and in their own, "passed from death unto life:" being justified by faith they are no longer under condemnation. – Rom. 8:1.
Thus (by faith) we are transferred from the dead head of the race, Adam, to the living head of the redeemed race, Christ Jesus. And if any man be thus in Christ he is a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17): old things – the old love of sin, the old disposition to do evil, and the old worldly and selfish ambitions, strifes, etc. – no longer please and satisfy his new mind. Their power of control has passed away, and behold, all things have become new. He begins to realize a new spirit, a new disposition within him; and therefore he has new hopes, new joys, new ambitions, a new heart [will] for love and joy and peace, and a blessed sense of the divine approval; and he looks forward with joyful anticipation, realizing that his destiny is eternal life. But out of Christ there is no life, no hope; and those who have not come into him by faith still abide under the Adamic condemnation. However, as already shown, it is the purpose of God that in "due time" these truths shall be so clearly testified to every man that all will have the fullest opportunity to believe and thus to come into Christ and through him inherit eternal life. See 1 Tim. 2:4-6.
The time for fully realizing the special, actual salvation is the Millennial age: the sense in which any possess it now is by faith; for "we walk by faith and not by sight" until the appointed time – the Millennial age. Then the faithful Bride class will be perfected as spirit-beings like their Lord; and thenceforth the reconciliation of the world will be accompanied by gradual restitution to human perfection, which salvation, if they are worthy, at the close of the Millennium will become everlasting salvation.
"As all in Adam die, even so all in Christ shall be made alive. But every man [of those in Christ to be made alive will get life] in his own order [company or band]: the first fruits, Christ [The head, Jesus; the body, the faithful "Church, which is his body"], afterward those who are Christ's at [during] his presence" [Greek, parousia.] – 1 Cor. 15:22,23.
We thus correct the translation of a passage very frequently misused to prove the everlasting salvation of all men irrespective of their acceptance of Christ as their Redeemer and King. But as here translated this passage is in perfect accord with the remainder of the Bible, which everywhere declares that, "He that hath the Son hath life; he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." – 1 John 5:12; John 3:36.
But, aside from the testimony of other scriptures, we call attention to the facts that the Greek text supports the above translation and that no other view of verse 22 could be reconciled with the context, verses 23,24. Note carefully that the expression, "But every man in his own company," refers to the all who are to be made alive. Then notice that but two companies are specified. The chief of these is mentioned first, and includes the Redeemer and all of the Gospel age overcomers who are now having fellowship in "his sufferings" – "his death" – and who shall be accounted worthy also to have share in "his resurrection," a resurrection to the immortal glories of the divine [R1437 : page 253] nature. (Compare 2 Pet. 1:4; Phil. 3:10,11.) The second company includes, specifically, "those who are Christ's in [the time of] his presence." And these two companies are the "all" of verse 22, who are to be made alive in Christ. Could language show more clearly than this does that none are to be made alive (in the full, complete sense in which the word "alive" is here used) except those who in this age become the Redeemer's Bride or in the next age become his children – begotten through faith and developed through obedience?
The difficulty with many, however, is that they have never noticed the full sense of the words life and made alive in the Scriptures. The whole world is reckoned as already dead – because under sentence of death through Adam – and unless they eat [assimilate and appropriate by faith] the flesh [sacrificed humanity] of the Son of Man, they have no life and can have no life. And those who do so "eat" are said to pass from death unto life now, reckonedly; but the actual making alive of such, as stated in our text, will be in the Resurrection morning. And so it will be with the world in general during the Millennium: when awakened from the sleep of death they will still be unjustified, condemned, dead. But they will be awakened by the great Redeemer in order that each may have the offer of everlasting life, on condition of becoming Christ's, accepting his gracious work for them in the past and his regulations for their future. Thus they may "eat" his flesh – appropriating his merit and receiving thereby his strength and life. They will be accounted or reckoned as living from the time that they begin to "eat," but they will not be made alive, perfect, until the close of the Millennial age of trial or testing.
LESSON XI., SEPT. 11, ACTS 8:26-40.
In this lesson we have a beautiful illustration of God's supervision of his own work – a supervision which has been exercised throughout the entire age, and which the faithful of today, as well as of the past, may take comfort in considering. The great plan, both for the salvation of the world and for the selection of the Church as Christ's joint-heirs, is his work; and therefore in its minutest particulars and in its widest scope we see the evidences of his wisdom and grace. Mark in this lesson the special direction and leading of his servant Philip, and the careful providence over a sincere inquirer after truth, the Ethiopian eunuch.
VERSE 26 shows that an angel was sent so to direct Philip's course that he might come in contact with one who was an earnest inquirer after the truth. And Philip promptly followed the angel's leading, though it took him away from a seemingly prosperous work, where the multitudes heard him gladly, to preach the gospel in the wilderness to a single individual. Just how the angel of the Lord conveyed his message to Philip is not stated, but possibly it was by a vision or a dream.
VERSES 27,28 show with what care this man was seeking the truth. He had traveled alone a long distance at considerable expense in order to join in the worship of God at Jerusalem, and now, on his way homeward, he was carefully pondering the words of the Prophet.
VERSES 29,30. As he journeyed through the desert and observed the stranger slowly riding in his chariot and reading, Philip was prompted by the spirit of God, which filled him with zeal in his service, to run and overtake him, and, when drawing near, he heard him read from the Prophet Isaiah, and inquired, saying, "Understandest thou what thou readest?"
VERSE 31. The stranger replied, "How can I, except some man should guide me?" and he invited him to sit with him in his chariot.
Here we have another evidence that the eunuch was one of "the meek," whom alone the Lord has taught us to make special effort to reach with the truth, and who alone are hungering and thirsting for it. The same spirit of meekness that led the eunuch to desire a knowledge of God's Word – the heavenly wisdom – [R1438 : page 254] prompted him also to confess his ignorance of the meaning when asked. Had he been proud he would have resented such a question, and answered either that he did understand it, or else that what he, a man of wealth and education, could not understand he need not expect to have explained by anyone of Philip's appearance and social standing.
But, on the contrary, having a meek and teachable spirit, the bare hint of Philip's words was sufficient. He was anxious to learn the truth anywhere and from any person, and invited the humble looking teacher into his carriage to teach him. And we are safe in supposing that the great Shepherd is always on the lookout for such truth-hungry sheep – to feed them meat in due season – now as well as then; and whenever special providences are necessary in order to reach such they will be exercised.
Another lesson here taught is respecting God's methods. Many believe and teach that God by impressions on the mind teaches the truth-seeker without the written Word – the Bible; others that God teaches by impressions, illuminating the Bible to each student individually. But this lesson, agreeing with all the teachings of the Scriptures on the subject, shows God's usual method: he uses his inspired Word as the text, and sends his specially qualified representatives to expound it, as it becomes due to be understood.
VERSES 32,33. The hand of divine providence is here again manifested in the choice of the Scripture reading so that Philip might begin his teaching at the very foundation principle of the doctrine of Christ – how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.
VERSES 34,35. "And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee of whom speaketh the Prophet this? of himself or some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth and began at the same Scripture and preached unto him Jesus," showing how his sacrifice was the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, and how in deep and voluntary humiliation on account of our sins, his judgment – his right to life – was taken away; how that because he took the sinner's place as a substitute he was counted as a sinner, worthy of death, although he had no sin. "And who," says the Prophet, "shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth?" The question is a suggestive one, and one which Philip was probably able to explain. The underlying thought is that though in the dawn and vigor of his manhood he was cut off from life without any posterity to perpetuate his name, yet he is to have a numerous posterity; for God would raise him from the dead and he should be, as elsewhere stated (Isa. 9:6), "a mighty God, an everlasting Father, a Prince of peace."
VERSES 36,38 show that the teaching of Philip must have been very comprehensive: he had evidently progressed from the foundation doctrine of justification (by faith in Christ the Redeemer) to the doctrines of the resurrection and the restitution of all things and then to the special privilege of the fully consecrated during the Gospel age, of becoming joint-heirs with Christ and in due time sharing his crown, if now they are willing to bear his cross. This seems evident from the fact that the man was anxious to be baptized at once in this faith – another evidence, too, of his prompt acquiescence in the will of God, and his desire to be in fullest accord and co-operation with him.
VERSE 37, though true in sentiment, does not seem to be a part of the original text, as it does not occur in any of the three oldest and most reliable Greek manuscripts – the Sinaitic, the Vatican and the Alexandrian. See foot notes of the Tischendorf New Testament, which gives all the variations of these oldest MSS. from the common English version.
VERSES 39,40. Just how the Spirit of God caught away Philip is not stated: it was evidently a miraculous transportation which Philip himself did not understand, and probably did not realize until he found himself at Azotus, where, and thence on his way to Caesarea, he made use of numerous opportunities to preach the Word. Doubtless Philip, as well as the Ethiopian, went on his way rejoicing.
What cause for rejoicing both had – the one in the blessed new-found hope in the Gospel, the other in the additional joy of being recognized of God as a chosen vessel to bear his name to one of his beloved children. May we also have many such occasions for rejoicing in God and in his power and providences manifested toward and in and through us. Praise his dear name for many such favors in the past. [R1439 : page 254]
CHRIST. – Once in all history we meet a being who never did an injury, and never resented one done to him, never uttered an untruth, never practiced a deception, and never lost an opportunity of doing good; generous in the midst of the selfish, upright in the midst of the sensual, and wise far above the wisest of earth's sages and prophets, loving and gentle, yet immovably resolute; and whose illimitable meekness and patience never once forsook him in a vexatious, ungrateful, and cruel world.– Sel.
DEAR BROTHER: – I have refrained from expressing to you the joy and gratitude that I have felt for the light thrown upon the Scriptures by your writings, through fear that I would appear to give glory to man rather than to God, from whom I am sensible that the light really comes. Still I realize that it is due you, as God's willing agent in distributing the light, to know something of the joy it has brought me.
I had long been an earnest student of the Word, but because of the many false doctrines that I had been taught from infancy to believe were supported by the Bible, I was like one groping in darkness. About four and a half years ago, through the merest accident (as some would say), I saw a reference to Millennial Dawn in a secular paper. I at once ordered the book and shall always thank God for that accident. It "opened my eyes to behold wondrous things out of his law." Since then I have eagerly read every thing I could get from your pen: I subscribed at once for the TOWER, and could scarcely wait for volumes two and three to be out of press before ordering – in fact ordered them before they were out. Oh, the joy and delight they have given me! Words cannot express it!
But with the sweet has also come the bitter. It has compelled me publicly, in the church in which I was a member, to renounce the false doctrines that I had previously held in common with others. This, of course, brought upon me much that was painful in the sundering of pleasant associations and in misunderstandings and isolation. But through it all I have been wonderfully supported and strengthened, and have verified the promise, "I will give you a mouth and wisdom that none of your adversaries can gainsay or resist." I have tried earnestly and faithfully to present the truth to others, and have distributed much of your writings among my friends; but have been greatly disappointed as to results, as few have shown any special interest, none have confessed a belief in the new (old) truths, and some of my nearest and dearest friends have been greatly shocked and grieved by my heresy.
But I leave all in the hands of the Lord and accept every trial and disappointment as a part of my testing, and, by the grace of God, I will be faithful to the end. But enough of this. You are familiar with all the trials that are common to those who would, in this evil day, be faithful to the truth. I have not accepted the truth as presented by you without questions, but have diligently searched the Scriptures upon every point; and in almost every instance I have been able to agree heartily with you. And oh, the joy of believing! It has changed the whole tenor of my life and thoughts. It has made the study of the Scriptures my chief delight. I truly meditate upon them day and night. Like one of old, I feel like saying, "I have esteemed the words of thy mouth more than my necessary food."
Hoping that you may, in the future as in the past, be blessed and honored of God as his mouthpiece, I remain, yours in the glorious hope,
DEAR FRIENDS IN CHRIST: – I cannot tell you how much benefit my mother and myself have derived from MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vols. I., II. and III. I have found that in whatever company I have mentioned our faith it attracts attention. So many have grown restless under the old creeds that they hail with delight any reasonable explanation of God's dealings with the race. For myself, I am thankful that I have a God who is both to be loved and to be respected. As long as I believed in a Calvinistic hell, there lurked in my heart a feeling that a more effective and a less cruel way of dealing with humanity would be perfectly consistent with the idea of a just judge. I thank you for showing me the way. The chapter on the Pyramid in Volume III. will eventually attract the attention of many scientists. A consistent explanation like yours will be appreciated in time.
The fact that the doctrine of the inherent immortality of the soul is not true was a new idea to me. But I traced it back carefully and found that it was the foundation doctrine of the religions of Egypt and Babylon. Then, and not till then, did I realize how the Jewish faith differed from the esoteric religion of the priests, and why the Jews were prone to wander into idolatry. Truly, all Buddhism, Theosophy, etc., originated in Eden. "Thou shalt not surely die" has been believed, not by Eve alone, but by most of her descendants. Pardon me for taking your time, but you do not seem other than friends to me.
Yours in Christ,
I know that the time to reap has come, for in obedience to him who gave the command, I have lifted up mine eyes (of discernment), and page 256 behold, the fields are white for harvesting. And I know that he that reapeth receiveth wages and gathereth fruit unto life eternal. I pray the Lord of the harvest that I may be among that favored number; and that I may have such success in this last harvest reaping of earth as will redound to his honor and glory.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I have read all three volumes of DAWNS three times through, my interest increasing with each reading, and have found it a means of opening up the Scriptures to my understanding. I was brought up by Methodist parents, and was consecrated twenty years ago, and joined that church. Since I have been out in this country, I have labored hard for the upbuilding of Methodism in this place, and have watched the growth of the church here with pride and pleasure; and it was with a good deal of hesitancy on my part that I withdrew my name and membership from the church. It is causing a great deal of talk among my brethren with whom I have worshiped for the past eight years. But I have never enjoyed so much of the presence of the Master, or had such peace and joy in the spirit of truth, which leadeth into all truth and teaches me things to come, as I am now enjoying.
Reading the Scriptures with the thought in mind of the Coming Kingdom seems to open up to the light many passages that I never could understand; and I cannot begin to express my thankfulness for the benefit I have received in studying the Word of God from the standpoint which you have pointed out in your messages.
Yours in Christ and the truth,
C. T. RUSSELL, DEAR SIR: – You will no doubt think me very slow in acknowledging the generous bundle of Tracts sent me. Sickness has prevented my writing before, but I wish to thank you very much for sending them, and thus giving me an opportunity to do a very little in the good work. I had them distributed quite thoroughly, although I was unable to superintend the distribution personally. I pray the Lord will bless some of the seed thus sown.
For myself I would like to say that the past three years have been years of great trial, and I have been so overburdened with household cares and ill-health that my spiritual nature would have been utterly crushed were it not for the blessed TOWER, that always comes with food just suited to my needs.
That God may bless you greatly in your work is the prayer of your friend in Christ,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – To-night I do say with all my heart, "Praise the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, praise his holy name," for the grand and, I trust, saving blessing he has bestowed upon me through the MILLENNIAL DAWN series.
I have more or less, ever since I was about fifteen or sixteen years of age, been trying to serve God and to walk uprightly, but found so often that I had most terribly back-slidden. When I tried to reason with myself as to why I had so fallen, I could not explain it, but felt that I needed some stronger meat than I had been to that date receiving. I never thought of not believing the Word of God; but the explanations I listened to from different ministers of my own church, as well as of other churches, never seemed to be logical or satisfactory. No doubt I have been very prone to wander from the narrow path and too weak to live before the increased light and knowledge of the present day. Thank God! however, I do believe that I am now in the right company to serve him more faithfully. It has always been a mystery to me how so different creeds as are advanced by our many nominal Christian churches could be recognized by our Lord.
The theory of the Methodist church, of which I have been at least in name a member, the eternal torment of the unjustified soul and the utter hopelessness of those who pass out of this life stained with sin, seemed to destroy the idea of the endless love of God and the justice of judgment; but as I come more and more fully into the knowledge of the plan of the ages as set forth by God in his Word my heart fills with joy.
I am distributing the fifteen sets of Vols. I., II. and III. which I received a few weeks ago. Hoping I have not taken too much of your valuable time in this expression of my thankfulness to you, as God's agent (through another believer in MILLENNIAL DAWN), for the meat in season, Yours in God's cause,