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N.B. – Those of the interested, who by reason of old age or accidents, or other adversity, are unable to pay, will be supplied FREE, if they will send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper.
We still have plenty of the gilt-stamped, cloth edition of MILLENNIAL DAWN, with slight mismatch in color, stamping and paper, but otherwise perfect. As previously announced, we will close these out at twenty-five cents per volume by express, or the set of three volumes for one dollar postage paid by us.
In order to permit the friends of the truth to circulate them freely, we supply the DAWNS in paper binding in packs of 5, 10 or 20 of any one volume to one address at the rate of fifteen cents per volume, including postage. Less than five copies of any one volume we supply at twenty-five cents per volume. Colporteurs are authorized to sell these at thirty-five cents per volume. No books of the kind were ever supplied on such liberal terms. What opportunities are thus afforded to all who have a heart for harvest work! And that many are improving the opportunity is evidenced by the fact that the four hundredth thousand of the first volume is now in course of publication.
Many new readers do not know about our gospel envelopes, which have the gospel message printed on their face, leaving room for stamps and addressing, and on the back mention VOL. I. of MILLENNIAL DAWN. There is no better way than this to call to the attention of your friends the glad tidings of great joy, and the book which will make the gospel so plain that a wayfaring and unlearned reader need not err therein.
Friends who are in business, and who send out circulars and bills, and who could use these envelopes (with their business address printed at the corner) in lots of five or ten thousand at a time will be supplied, regardless of cost, at the rate of one dollar a thousand. – We want these to go everywhere, preaching the Word. [R1585 : page 290]
Do you need a counselor? "Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory." Psa. 73:24.
Do you want a friend? "There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother." Prov. 18:24.
Are you discouraged? "Be of good courage and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord." Psa. 31:24.
Have you been wronged? "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you." Matt. 5:44.
Do you suffer for well doing? "But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God." 1 Pet. 2:20.
Are you heavy laden? "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matt. 11:28.
Are you ignorant? "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." James 1:5.
Are you tempted to do wrong? "If sinners entice thee, consent thou not." Prov. 1:10.
Do you hunger after righteousness? "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." Matt. 5:6.
Are you fearful? "O Israel, trust thou in the Lord: he is their help and their shield. Psa. 115:9.
Do you want sympathy? "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that reverence him." Psa. 103:13.
|VOL. XIV.||OCTOBER 1, 1893.||NO. 19.|
"WHERE are we?" is the significant question now troubling the thinking portion of Christendom, and occasionally propounded through the religious and secular press. The question has been suggested by the manifest absurdities of the old creeds and the clash of new speculative philosophies, producing such confusion that it is impossible for many to determine just where they stand.
"And so the drift goes on, until little by little the question: 'Where are we?' becomes a pregnant religious one. Professors sit in the chairs of seminaries teaching doctrines far enough removed from the originals to make the ancient benefactors turn in their graves; clergymen sign pledges on ordination which they probably know the administrator does not believe himself; the standards are in many cases only the buoys which show how far the ships of the churches have got away from the mapped-out channels. It is the age of go as you please, of every man for himself, and all that. Nobody knows where it is all to end, and those who are interested most seem to care least."
This may be regarded by some as merely a pessimistic view of the case; but it is not. The writer has not expressed it nearly so strong as the facts would warrant. Within the past three years the tendency toward open infidelity has been amazingly on the increase in both the pulpits and pews of Christendom; and now the boldest strike is being made, not only against the doctrines of the Bible, and against the doctrines set forth in the various creeds, but against the Bible itself as a divinely inspired revelation.
Failing to see in it God's plan of the ages and all its varied corroborative testimony as one harmonious whole, and seeing its inharmony on every other line of interpretation, the conclusion is rapidly being reached, and that by eminent clergymen, too, that the Bible is not a divinely inspired book; and with great boldness they are so openly declaring it that thinking people in amazement are inquiring, Whither are we drifting?
The recent controversy in the case of Dr. Briggs has done much to accelerate the movement toward infidelity: for, though the Presbyterian General Assembly has declared against him, he is regarded by many as a very martyr for truth. The Rev. Lyman Abbott, successor to Henry Ward Beecher, ranks him as a prophet, and a worthy successor of the prophets of old. But for this it is not at all necessary in his estimation that he should be in harmony with the prophets of the Bible; for Dr. Abbott has no more respect for the Bible than for many other books. Quoting the common [R1584 : page 291] belief – "The Bible is the Word of God!" he replies, "Oh, I beg your pardon, the Bible is not the Word of God. I challenge any man who calls the Bible the Word of God to find that phrase, the Word of God, ever used in the Bible." "The Bible [he says] is itself the product of the church, and the church is the product of the individual experience. [R1584 : page 292] First comes the individual consciousness of God, and then out of all the gathered consciousness of God there comes the institution of religion, the church; and then out of the life of the church and its ministry comes the literature of religion, the Bible." His order of authority would therefore be (1) the individual consciousness of God, (2) the church, and (3) the Bible.
But Dr. Abbott is not the only one who thus boldly repudiates the Word of God: others, too, are gaining courage by such examples, and these sentiments bid fair to be the popular ones in a very short time. The Rev. Dr. Campbell, a professor in the Presbyterian college of Montreal, Canada, recently delivered a lecture before the students on "The perfect book, or the perfect Father," in which he boldly assailed the Bible as a mass of contradictions, not fairly or truthfully representing the character and plan of God, and consequently not an infallible rule of faith. And now this gentleman's course is likely to raise as stiff a breeze in Canada as that of Dr. Briggs has raised in this country, the matter having been already referred to the General Assembly there.
Another reverend (?) gentleman, Mr. Horton, who has written a volume on "The Inspiration of the Bible," and another on "Revelation and the Bible," said recently, in a lecture to the divinity students of Yale College, that he objected to the current practice of preachers calling the Bible the Word of God. He had no toleration for what he termed a strange birth of time, "the cult of Bibliolatry." He said it was due to truth and honesty for preachers "to deliver the church from the confusion and mischief and error which have been incurred by this one baseless notion, that a book written by human pens and handed down by human methods, transcribed, translated and compiled by fallible human minds, is, or can be as such, the Word of God."
It matters little how presbyteries, synods and assemblies deal with these men and their views: they cannot silence them. The rising generation of theological students is under their influence, and many who have quietly held such views are now encouraged to give expression to them. But the most notable outgrowth of these sentiments is what is called The New American Bible, now in course of preparation under the direction of Prof. Haupt of the Johns Hopkins University, the contributors (Prof. Briggs being among them) all representing the school of the so-called higher criticism, which repudiates the commonly accepted view of divine inspiration; and the attempt is to reconstruct the Scriptures from their standpoint.
Thus the authority of the Scriptures is assailed in high places, and the question, Whither are we drifting? is indeed a pregnant one in Christendom. The drift is unmistakable. The rapids of skepticism are fast hurrying on toward the final plunge into open infidelity; and "who shall be able to stand?" This is the day when "the fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is;" and it behooves every child of God to fortify his faith with all the evidences which the Lord has graciously supplied to enable us to stand in this evil day.
We would therefore commend to our readers a careful review of the first three chapters of MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I., and the articles in the TOWER on "The Law of God" (Nov. 1, '92) and "The Calling, Office and Authority of the Twelve Apostles" (May 1, '93). And let us notice further that the Scriptures do claim to be the Word of God, though their authority by no means depends upon the finding of that expression in the Scriptures, as Dr. Abbott seems to intimate. See Luke 4:4; 5:1; 8:21; Acts 4:31; 8:14; 11:1; 13:44; Rom. 9:6; 10:17; 2 Cor. 2:17; 4:2; Eph. 6:17; 2 Tim. 2:9; Titus 2:5; Heb. 4:12; 6:5; 13:7; Rev. 1:2; 11:3.
It is a great mistake to affirm that the Bible is the product of the Church; and those who make this claim do not know where to look for the Church. The Scriptures declare that Jesus Christ was the head and forerunner of [R1584 : page 293] the Church; and if he was the forerunner it is plain that none of the members of the Church preceded him, and, therefore, that the Old Testament Scriptures – which Paul says "were written aforetime (before Christ's advent) for our instruction that we through patience and the consolation of the Scriptures might possess the hope" (of the gospel – Rom. 15:4) – were not the product of the Church. And if, as we have shown, the writings of the Apostles were divinely inspired, then the New Testament Scriptures are not the product of the Church. But consecrated human agencies were used in both cases as God's honored instruments. The word of the Lord through the Apostles is not the product of the Church, but of divine revelation. And never since those inspired apostles fell asleep has the church been able to add one iota to the heavenly wisdom revealed through them; and to whatever extent she has wandered from their teachings, she has manifested her folly by vain philosophies which expose her ignorance and egotism.
Nor is the Church, as Dr. Abbott claims, the product of individual experience or consciousness of God; for, apart from the Word of God, we have no acquaintance with him. We are sanctified by the truth of God's Word, is the way the Lord expresses it (John 17:17), not that the Word of God is the product of our previous sanctification without the truth. The Word of God, therefore, is the only real authority of divine truth; and neither the Church collectively, nor church councils, nor the individual members of it, except the twelve divinely inspired ones, are any authorities.
It is claimed by some that the Church has exercised the authority of deciding and declaring which of the various ancient writings properly belong to the sacred code as we now possess it. But the claim is utterly fallacious. Concerning this claim let us observe how the facts stand, and note how manifestly the great Head of the Church has supervised this matter. The same divine providence which communicated the truth to the prophets, both by natural and supernatural means, was just as capable of preserving and, later, of compiling those documents; and in both cases the human agents were only the instruments in his hands, whether knowingly and willingly or not.
The Old Testament Scriptures were all carefully and religiously preserved by the Jews down to the inauguration of the Christian dispensation, and then their testimony was carefully interwoven by Christ and his inspired apostles with the further developments of divine truth due in the new dispensation of the Gospel age. And they are freely quoted and referred to by them as of divine authority, while the New Testament writings are presented as supplemental to them and of equal authority and divine inspiration; and all bear the one harmonious testimony.
The various books being thus linked together, so that if one were lost others would indicate the loss, and if a false one were supplied it would lack such indorsements and its inharmony would be manifest, it is easily seen that no human authority was necessary to make up the canon of Scripture. It is divinely indicated; and we would be very obtuse not to be able to recognize it, even if those writings were lying around loosely and separately. Those who compiled the Scriptures merely did what we could do to-day without their aid: they read the mutual indorsements of the Lord and the apostles and prophets. But while we do not accord to them any authority or special wisdom in the matter, we do gratefully accept the compilation as a providential aid to our study of the complete Scriptures, in the same way that we also accept the still more recent helps of concordances, etc.
And all of these providential helps have aided in the discovery in the Scriptures of the divine plan of the ages, which links them all together as parts of one harmonious whole which cannot be broken. Without the aid of the compilation of the Scriptures and its systematic division into chapters and verses for convenience of reference, and the valuable aid of complete concordances in the comparison of scripture with scripture, humanly speaking, we would at least be at great disadvantage, if indeed we could at all have arrived at an exact knowledge of the plan of God. God, who works by means, and who uses human instrumentalities [R1584 : page 294] when adapted to his service, wisely and graciously had all this preparatory work done for us before the due time came for the full discovery and understanding of his plan of the ages. And we rejoice and give thanks to God, and highly esteem every consecrated and honored human instrumentality which has facilitated our progress in the knowledge of the truth, though we recognize them merely as the instruments of a wise over-ruling providence which carefully comprehended, and carefully adjusted, all the various means to the accomplishment of his purpose in the full enlightenment of his elect "in due time," "the time of the end." – Dan. 12:10.
Those who lack the evidence of the plan of the ages to the inspiration of the Bible lack the strongest testimony of all, and the time is very near when none will be able to stand the searching tests of this day of the Lord who are not amply supported by its strength. Praise the Lord for his keeping power: "his truth is our shield and buckler:" it is a network of testimony that cannot be broken.
"I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth." – 2 Pet. 1:12.
To be established in the truth signifies that we have carefully studied and thoroughly proved it by "the law and the testimony" (Isa. 8:20), and that as a consequence we are convinced of its verity, so that our faith is steadfast and immovable: we know in whom we have believed; we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good; we have partaken of the sweets of fellowship with him; we have partaken of his spirit of meekness, faith and godliness to such an extent as to be led into a joyful realization of the fulness of his grace as manifested in the wonderful divine plan of the ages; and we have been permitted to see, not only the various features of that plan, but also the necessity and reasonableness of all its various measures in order to the full accomplishment of its glorious outcome in the fulness of the appointed times. This is what it is to be "established in the present truth." It is indeed a most blessed condition, bringing with it such peace and joy as the world can neither give nor take away.
But though we be thus established in the present truth, we need to bear in mind that our election to the high position to which we are called is not yet made sure. The race for the prize of our high calling is still before us, and we are yet in the enemy's country, surrounded by many subtle and powerful foes, so that if we would be successful we must "fight the good fight of faith," remembering, too, that "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but [God's Truth is] mighty to the pulling down of the strong-holds" of error and superstition and of inbred sin; and remembering, also, that "we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." – 2 Cor. 10:4; Eph. 6:12.
It is in view of these facts – of the warfare before us, of the subtlety of our temptations and of the weaknesses of the flesh – that the faithful Apostle Peter urges all diligence in the cultivation of the Christian graces and a continual calling to remembrance of the precious truths we have learned, that we may be strengthened thereby to make our calling and election sure. Faith is a good thing; but faith without virtuous works is dead; and to hold the truth in unrighteousness is worse than never to have received it. The truth is given to us for its sanctifying effect upon our hearts and lives. Therefore let it have free course and be glorified. [R1585 : page 295] Let its precious fruits appear more and more from day to day. Add to your faith virtue – true excellence of character, such excellence of character as will mark you as separate from the world and its spirit. In all such the world will see those moral qualities which they must approve, however they may oppose our faith. Add sterling honesty, truth and fair dealing in all business relations; moral integrity, in all social relations; manifestly clean hands and a pure heart, and a bridled tongue that works no ill to a neighbor. All of these the world has a right to expect from those who call themselves Christians; and all of these are indispensable features of that virtuous character which must be added to our faith. The clean hands will not dabble in anything that is not virtuous: they will have nothing to do with unrighteous schemes or projects in business. The pure heart will not devise evil things, or harbor evil thoughts, or plot mischief. And the bridled tongue will not be given to evil speaking, but will hold its peace when it cannot speak well and wisely. But the promptings of virtue go further than merely these negative features which refuse to do anything which would work ill to a neighbor; they incite not only to passive, but also to active, goodness – in benevolent charity which seeks to alleviate suffering, to sympathize with sorrow, to comfort those in distress and to elevate and bless others – to assist "all men as we have opportunity."
To such a virtuous character we are counseled to add knowledge – the knowledge of God's character, that we may the more thoroughly imitate it, and of his truth, that we may more fully conform to its teachings: And to knowledge, temperance – moderation, self-restraint, in all things. "Let your moderation be known unto all men." We are not to be hasty and hot-tempered, or rash and thoughtless. But we should strive to be evenly balanced, thoughtful and considerate: our whole manner should be characterized by that carefulness which would indicate that we are ever mindful of the Lord's pleasure, of our responsibility to him as his representatives, and of our influence upon our fellow-men, to see that it always be for good, never for evil.
"And to temperance, patience." "Let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." Yes, this grace smooths the way for every other, because all must be acquired under the process of patient and continuous self-discipline. Not a step of progress can be gained without the exercise of this grace of patience; and not one of the graces more beautifully adorns the Christian character, or wins the approval of the world's conscience, or glorifies the God of all grace whose truth inspires it. It is long-suffering meekness earnestly striving to stem the tide of human imperfection and weakness, and endeavoring with pains-taking care to regain the divine likeness. It is slow to wrath and plenteous in mercy: it is quick to perceive the paths of truth and righteousness, and prompt to walk in them: it is mindful of its own imperfections and sympathetic with the imperfections and shortcomings of others.
"And to brotherly kindness, charity" – love. Kindness may be manifested where but little love exists toward the subject of such kindness; but we cannot long persevere in such acts of kindness before a sympathetic interest is awakened; and by and by that interest, continually exercised, deepens into love. And even though the subject may be unlovely in character, the love of sympathy for the fallen and degraded grows, until it becomes tender and solicitous and akin to that of a parent for an erring son.
Peter indeed describes a most amiable character, but who can consider it without feeling that to attain it will be a life-work. It cannot be accomplished in a day, nor a year, but the whole life must be devoted to it; and day by day, if we are faithful, we should realize a measure of growth in grace and of development of Christian character. It is not enough that we know the truth, nor to be contented to hold it in unrighteousness. We must see to it that the truth is having its legitimate and designed [R1585 : page 296] effect upon the character. And if the truth is thus received into good and honest hearts, we have the assurance of the Apostle that we shall never fall, and that in due time we shall be received into the Kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Hence we see the necessity of ever keeping the instructions and precepts of the Lord fresh in our minds, and of drinking deep into its inspiring spirit, although we are already established in the faith. To be established in the faith is one thing, but to be established in Christian character and in all the graces of the spirit is quite another.
Feeling as we do the necessity of a deeper work of grace, both in our own hearts and in the hearts of all of the dear household of faith, the thought has occurred to us that more special effort in this particular direction on the part of us all would probably be of great benefit. We do not know through what discipline of faith and patience we may yet be called to pass in the approaching dark night of which we are forewarned, but "sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof," and also, thank God, sufficient unto the day is the grace thereof, if we earnestly lay hold of it and patiently continue in it. As each day brings its trials, so, if we have been rightly exercised by the trials, each day should bring its victories – thus leaving us strengthened and more firmly established in character, as well as in faith.
With the end in view of specially promoting the growth of Christian character, our suggestion, which has already been made and adopted by the congregation in Allegheny, is that wherever a few of the consecrated can arrange to meet together, it would be well to appoint a mid-week meeting for this special purpose. Such a meeting should be devoted to worship, prayer and praise, and to brotherly exhortation, conference and counsel, but not to Bible study or controversy. All discussions of doctrinal matters should be eliminated from such a meeting, and such subjects as would elicit controversy avoided, leaving such matters for another meeting, at an appropriate hour on the Lord's day, when all meet together; the object being, not to ignore doctrine, nor to discourage Bible-study; but, while meeting this necessity at the one meeting (on the Lord's day), to devote the other (the mid-week meeting) to the other equal necessity, without distraction.
Our arrangement here in Allegheny and Pittsburg is as follows: As our congregation is much scattered, we have them parcelled into as many neighborhood gatherings as is necessary for the accommodation of all desiring to attend; and a leader is appointed for each meeting, discretion being observed as to capability. They should be brethren established in the faith – sound in doctrine, faithful and pious. These meetings are held on Wednesday evening at the residence of some member of each little group. The meeting is opened with a hymn and prayer, the reading by the leader of an appropriate passage of Scripture, bearing on the subject of practical piety; then each one is asked to give his or her personal experience as to progress in the narrow way – as to how he or she is growing in grace and striving to overcome the world, the flesh and the devil. Here they may humbly tell of their victories, or speak of their trials, or ask for Christian counsel and sympathy in hard places, speaking more freely in such little gatherings than would be possible or proper in larger assemblies. Here they can hear each other's petitions for each other, and Christian love and sympathy flow the more freely from heart to heart.
The object kept in mind at these meetings is a fresh, living, weekly and daily experience with the Lord and in his service, and not merely a stale experience of the remote past. A clear past experience is good, but a clear present experience is better; – much more vitally important. Doctrine is ignored at these meetings except as the word doctrine applies to all Scripture teachings, including hope, trust, obedience, godliness, prayer, etc. Too many, we find, have been contenting themselves with knowing the truth, without making special efforts to live it, daily and hourly. As honesty of heart and faith in the Redeemer's finished work and consecration to his service are necessary to a full entrance into the "holy," [R1585 : page 297] where the deeper features of the divine plan can be discerned and fully appreciated, so these qualities must remain, must abide, or the light will become darkness – you will be cast out of the light into the outer darkness in which the world and the nominal church grope after the phosphorescent glimmerings of error – Spiritism, Christian Science, Theosophy and Universalism.
The leader of such a meeting should study to adapt his counsel, correction or encouragement to the special needs of each of the little group over which he is placed, and his reverent piety and personal interest in each should inspire the confidence of all. We believe that such mid-week meetings would indeed prove steppingstones to higher attainments in the divine life, and that thus all may be greatly blessed and profited; and the whole body will be able the more effectually to minister to one another in spiritual things. At a monthly general meeting of the same character, we hear of the spiritual progress of the various little groups both from the leaders and the various attendants, and quarterly the leaders are transferred to other groups.
"For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish. To the one we are the savor of death unto death; and to the other the savor of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the Word of God, but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ." – 2 Cor. 2:15-17.
The Apostle's words show that many in his day, as in ours, failed to realize this responsibility, and, to answer their own selfish ends, corrupted the Word of God. To wilfully or recklessly corrupt the Word of God – to vitiate its pure and holy doctrines; to add to it the vain philosophies of ambitious men and seek to support their theories by perverting its truths; to underrate its exceeding great and precious promises and mystify the conditions upon which they may be realized; or to minimize or make void the solemn warnings of the Word of God – is indeed dangerous business, in which the faithful saints will never engage, but in which those who fall away from the faith are usually most active – deceiving and being deceived.
To be faithful ambassadors for Christ – faithful representatives of the truth and faithful proclaimers of it – requires great humility and simplicity of heart. It necessitates the complete ignoring of all worldly ambitions and aims, and the cultivation of a brave spirit of endurance which will not shrink from any reproach which fidelity to the truth may bring. And such service, the Apostle here shows, is acceptable to God as sweet incense, no matter what may be the effect upon those to whom we minister, whether they accept or reject the message of divine grace. What God is looking for in us is loyalty to him and devotion to his cause; and this condition of heart he appreciates, regardless of our success or failure to secure large results. What a comfort it is amidst all discouragements to know that under all circumstances the spirit of Christ in us is as [R1585 : page 298] sweet incense to God. And the reward of his constant approval is richer than all the unwholesome sweets of ambition gained by corrupting the Word of God.
To the hearer of this gospel, the message must prove either a savor of life unto (or tending to) life, or a savor of death unto (or tending to) death. His responsibility is great: there is no neutral ground; he either receives it or rejects it. But observe that the statement is not that the rejection of any item of truth inevitably dooms the rejector to death, and vice versa, but that the tendency of such a course is to death, and of the opposite course to life, unless interrupted – changed.
Thus, for instance, the Lord, in reproving the Scribes and Pharisees, who rejected the gospel and yet claimed to be the children of God and leaders and examples of godliness to others, significantly inquired, "How can ye escape the condemnation of gehenna" – the everlasting destruction, the second death? (Matt. 23:33.) In rejecting the truth so plainly brought to their attention, and in pursuing the hypocritical course of claiming to be faithful and devoted children of God, they were forming and establishing such characters that, ere long, repentance would be impossible to them. Few, perhaps, clearly realize how serious a thing it is to be making character, and that every act and every thought leaves its impress upon the soul. Every right thought and act tends to establish the character in righteousness, while every wrong thought and act, and every self-deception tends to confirm and establish an unrighteous character. And when a wrong course is adopted and persistently followed – when conscience is stifled, and when reason and Scripture are perverted to selfish ends, until the heart is deceived and the judgment is overcome – who can predict the repentance of such a one?
Such construct characters or wills so out of harmony with God and righteousness as to be fit only for destruction. (Heb. 6:4-6.) How can such "escape the condemnation of Gehenna"? for God will not permit any one to live whose will is confirmed in unrighteousness. How responsible then is the position of those who are building character in themselves and in others! Remember that our characters are manifested by our habits of life; and each act, even the smallest, tends to form some new habit, or to confirm one already established. How important, then, that our thoughts and actions should not be aimless, but with a purpose (1 Cor. 10:31); and, above all, that our lives should be "transformed [re-formed] by the renewing of our minds;" that, putting aside the evil, and all influences which tend toward evil, we should receive of the Lord, through his Word, the "spirit of a sound mind," the "mind of Christ." In this view of the case, it is indeed a solemn thing to live, a solemn thing to think, and to act; and it behooves us to guard well our words, our thoughts and our actions, and to ever bear in mind our responsibility to God, both for ourselves and for others as ambassadors for Christ.
"And who is sufficient for these things?" Surely none of us in our own strength. We need first of all to give ourselves to the Lord without reserve, and then daily to drink in more and more of his spirit by communion with him through his Word and in prayer; and constantly to watch and pray lest we enter into temptation.
Let all the consecrated endeavor more and more to realize their responsibility, both in the matter of their own character-building and also in that of building up others in the most holy faith and in the character which is the legitimate result of that faith. The issues of eternal life and eternal death are before us, and before those to whom we present this gospel; and therefore it behooves us carefully and prayerfully to present the pure truth of God in all sincerity and in the spirit of Christ before God, ever bearing in mind that it is a savor either of life unto life or of death unto death.
"Grant skill each sacred theme to trace,
With loving voice and glowing tongue,
As when upon thy words of grace
The wondering crowds enraptured hung.
"Give strength, blest Savior, in thy might;
Illuminate our hearts, and we,
Transformed into thine image bright,
Shall teach, and love, and live, like thee."
IV. QUAR., LESSON III., OCT. 15, ROM. 5:1-11.
Thus far this epistle has established (1) the necessity of justification to salvation from sin and death; (2) that the terms of this salvation are alike for both Jews and Gentiles; (3) that faith in the precious blood of Christ as the payment of our ransom, implying a humble, grateful reliance upon the same for salvation, is the one divinely appointed condition of justification and salvation; and (4) in Abraham's case, he has illustrated the nature and promptings of such a true and saving faith. In this lesson the Apostle refers to the blessed influence of faith upon the character, and to its bearings upon the future prospects of those exercising it.
Verse 1 shows that the immediate effect of faith is a blessed realization of peace with God; not through personal worthiness of his favor, but through our Lord Jesus Christ," by whom we have received the atonement, his righteousness being imputed to us by faith. In thus accepting him whom God has appointed for our salvation, as our redeemer and Lord, we thereby acknowledge our own imperfections and sins and the necessity of redemption by the payment of a ransom, a substitute, an equivalent price, for that which was lost through sin.
This first step of faith restores the believer to all the privileges and blessings originally bestowed upon the human son of God, Adam, and afterward forfeited by him, though their full realization does not belong to the present age, viz. – everlasting life, uninterrupted peace and communion with God, and all the blessings of his fatherly providence. But, until the appointed time of Christ's reign, the experiences of the believer are the joys of faith and hope, and of present peace and communion with God in consequence of that faith and hope. In other words he holds a check for full restitution, to be honored and cashed in the due time of God's appointment.
VERSE 2 has reference to a second privileged step of faith, an access by faith into a still higher grace, or position of favor, wherein also we stand by faith and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Elsewhere we have been shown that this higher grace is the privilege of being "transformed" to a higher nature, of being made "partakers of the divine nature," "heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, if so be that we suffer with him," and of being made like him and seeing him "as he is" – "the express image of the Father's person." (Rom. 12:2; 2 Pet. 1:4; Rom. 8:17; 1 John 3:2; Heb. 1:3.) This is the "high calling" (Phil. 3:14) of those who, being justified by faith, have enough faith to go still further and accept and appreciate this great privilege of our high calling and enough of the spirit of Christ to follow in his footsteps of self-sacrifice faithfully, even unto death. The access into this higher grace cannot be obtained except from the standpoint of the previous grace of justification.
This is clearly manifest from the exhortation of the Apostle in Rom. 12:1. "I beseech you therefore, brethren,...that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." Those addressed are "brethren" of the household of faith, justified believers, before they are invited to accept this higher grace. Otherwise, being still under condemnation to death, they would have nothing to offer in sacrifice to God, and certainly nothing which would be holy and acceptable. Of this we have assurance also in the typical sacrifices of the Mosaic law. The sacrifices of the day of atonement which foreshadowed the "better sacrifices" (Heb. 9:23) of Christ Jesus and his body, the Church, must be without blemish (Lev. 1:3; 3:1-6; 4:3,23,28; 22:21-25), and so must the "better sacrifices" be. Christ Jesus, our Head, "the High Priest of our profession," was "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners;" "he knew no sin;" and in him, therefore, the Father was well pleased. (Heb. 7:26; 1 John 3:5; Matt. 3:17.) We, however, have no such actual perfection; but, clothed in his [R1585 : page 300] imputed righteousness by faith in his blood shed for the remission of sins – justified – we also are acceptable to God in the Beloved. (Eph. 1:6.) And thus, being called, we are eligible to the higher grace of sonship on the plane of the divine nature, and to joint-heirship with Christ Jesus of the Father's love and bounty; and to us belong the "exceeding great and precious promises" of God. – 2 Pet. 1:4.
VERSES 3,4. In this confident and glorious hope we rejoice, even in the midst of tribulations, knowing that they constitute the discipline necessary to fit us for our future exalted station. If rightly exercised by these, by a spirit of humility and submission, they will work in us the beautiful grace of patience. And patience in submitting to trial will lead to large and valuable experience – experience of God's love and wisdom and grace and comfort. And this experience will brighten hope and strengthen our confidence in God.
VERSE 5. "And hope maketh not ashamed, because," etc. Those inspired by this hope experience no sense of shame under the discipline and trials they must endure. The world, and merely nominal Christians, may despise and reject and persecute them, as they did their Lord; but, having the love of God shed abroad in their hearts, they glory in tribulations and rejoice to be counted worthy to suffer for his name's sake. And in the glorious message they bear there is nothing to be ashamed of; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. It tells of an election now of a "peculiar people," for an exalted position of service, and of the abounding free grace to all the families of the earth when, in due time" (1 Tim. 2:6), the elect "little flock," the "royal priesthood," the "peculiar people," have been exalted to reign with Christ in his Kingdom.
VERSES 6-8 return to the subject of justification to point out the great love of God in providing for the redemption of sinners at such cost to himself. Rarely, indeed, would human love sacrifice life for another, even for a righteous person; but God commended his love to us, in that while we were yet sinners, he gave his only begotten Son to die for us – a gift which fond parents of an only and dutiful child can perhaps most fully appreciate.
The Apostle also points out our helpless condition – that we were without any strength to help ourselves, and that our salvation is therefore the free gift of God, through Christ, and hence a manifestation of his great love. He further indicates that the time of the payment of our ransom price was definitely prearranged – "In due time, Christ died for the ungodly." This is a marked reference to the fact that time is a special feature in God's great plan of the ages. There was a particular appointed time for the payment of our ransom, as well [R1586 : page 300] as for every other feature of the wondrous plan. Those who wish to consider this important time element, will do well to study MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II., The Time is at Hand.
VERSES 9,10 teach us to build upon this manifestation of God's love in the gift of his Son, and our justification through faith in his blood, the reasonable, as well as Scriptural, hope of final complete salvation through him. When we were enemies, God, by the death of his Son, manifested his sympathy for us by paying our penalty for us; and "much more, being reconciled [being justified and recognized as sons of God], we shall be saved from wrath [restored to the proper condition of sons – liberated from sin and death, the manifestation of God's wrath] through him."
VERSE 11 points out a further cause for rejoicing in the fact that we who believe have now received the atonement – that we are now reckoned of God as perfect through Christ, and as worthy to be called his sons, and to receive the favors of sons. Having this reckoned standing now, we are in position to receive the additional favor of our high calling to be the bride and joint-heir of his dear Son. May all the consecrated duly appreciate their high calling, and strive to make their calling and election sure. "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith." – 1 John 5:4. [R1586 : page 300]
IV. QUAR., LESSON IV., OCT. 22, ROM. 12:1-15.
Having in previous chapters called attention to the marvelous depths of divine wisdom [R1586 : page 301] and grace manifested in the plan of the ages, and having pointed out its strong foundation and its ultimate glorious purpose, the Apostle now (in chapters 12-15) proceeds to draw some very practical lessons, and to exhort the household of faith to fully appreciate and accept the grace of God through Christ, and to be faithful and worthy sons and heirs of God.
VERSE 1 is an exhortation to those already justified by faith in Christ as the Redeemer, and who are therefore "brethren" of the household of faith, to enter into the higher grace of sons of God on the spiritual plane and become joint-heirs with his dear Son and partakers with him of the divine nature. (2 Pet. 1:4.) The way to this exalted position is pointed out as a way of sacrifice – "Present your bodies a living sacrifice." To do so is to do just what our Lord Jesus did, who said, "I came not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." It is to ignore the will of the flesh with all its ambitions, hopes and aims, however proper they may be in themselves, henceforth to devote all our time, our energies and our talents, be they many or few, to the doing of the Master's work, so that we can say with Christ Jesus, it is my meat to do his will and to finish his work. (John 4:34.) And this consecration is even unto death, when, the course being finished, the reward is sure.
Such a sacrifice on the part of justified believers is reckoned of God as "holy," because the merit of our Redeemer is imputed to us through faith; and it is therefore acceptable to God, and is but our reasonable service, and would be so even if no such reward were promised.
VERSE 2. "And be not conformed to [patterned after] this world [its ideas, hopes and aims]; but be ye transformed [remodeled, changed] by the renewing of your mind [by taking the mind of Christ – by endeavoring to think as he thought and to do as he did or would do in your circumstances], that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" – for only by coming into such an attitude of mind can we fully know the will of God. Any other attitude is more or less biased by prejudice, making our discernment of the will of God more or less indistinct.
VERSE 3. Through the grace given unto him Paul foresaw that one of the greatest temptations among Christians would be ambition to be great and highly esteemed, if not by the world, at least among those in the faith, and to do some great thing that would attract attention, rather than the common things that constitute the bulk of actual service. And therefore he counsels every man to take a sober estimate of his talents, neither overrating nor underrating them, so that he may make the best use of them as a wise and faithful steward.
VERSES 4,5 assure us of the important and honorable place of every member of the body of Christ, though all have not the same office. All are useful and needful one to another, and each should seek to know his place and to do his part in it for the edification of the body.
VERSES 6-8 urge faithfulness in the use of our talents in accordance with a sober and just estimate of them. Thus, if we have no talent for public speaking or teaching, we should not waste our energies and misrepresent the truth by poor attempts to use a talent not possessed; but, having found that capacity in which we can do most effectual service for the truth, let us spend our energies along that line with diligence and carefulness. "Having, then, gifts differing," let us use them with diligence, patience, simplicity and cheerfulness, contented to be very humble in the estimation of others that our humble talents may increase the more to the Master's glory.
VERSES 9,10. "Let love be unfeigned" – not hypocritical. And let it always be pure – not a sickly sentimentalism which forgets or ignores the proper bounds of propriety between brethren and sisters in Christ, which even the world recognizes, and which all the saints should the more firmly establish. The pure love of Christ in our hearts knows no man after the flesh, and puts no confidence in the flesh; it recognizes the inherent depravity of the old nature and keeps the flesh under the heel of the new nature. Consequently, its disposition is the very reverse of undue familiarity: it is dignified, simple, pure, and maintains always that proper reserve with the opposite sex which is approved even by the world, and which much more becometh saints. The manifestations of love among the saints should rather be after the manner indicated in verse 10 – by "in honor preferring one another," and by such kindness as is entirely consistent with the most refined modesty and purity. In such a state of mind and [R1586 : page 302] heart, sisters will prefer to exchange their confidences and intimacies with their husbands or with sisters, and brethren; with their wives or with fellow brethren; thus no reproach will be brought upon the cause of Christ.
The Apostle again indicates the disposition of this pure love among the saints in his letter to Timothy (1 Tim. 5:1,3,5), saying, "Rebuke not an elder [an aged brother, even if he has erred; have respect to his years], but entreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; the elder women as mothers; the younger women as sisters, with all purity [with no semblance of undue familiarity]. Honor widows that are widows indeed" – whose trust is in God, and whose conduct is consistent with that trust.
"Abhor that which is evil and cleave to that which is good;" "abstain from all appearance of evil," and "let not your good be evil spoken of" through any careless or imprudent conduct; and, "finally, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report: if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things," and act on them. – 1 Thes. 5:22; Rom. 14:16; Phil. 4:8.
VERSES 11-15 need no comment, but are worthy of careful pondering by all those who are earnestly striving to develop in themselves the likeness of Christ. [R1586 : page 302]
IV. QUAR., LESSON V., OCT. 29, 1 COR. 8:1-13.
The Corinthian Christians were in the midst of an idolatrous people, and had come out from them. They had heard and accepted the gospel of Christ, and now desired to be entirely separate from idolaters. To such an extent was idolatry practiced in Corinth that most of the meat offered for sale in the markets was first offered to idols, and it was not always easy to learn which had and which had not been offered in sacrifice to some heathen deity. Some of the Christians were conscientiously opposed to having anything to do with such meats, while others felt that it made no difference whether they partook of it or not, since the meat suffered no change, and since they had no sympathy with the idolatrous worship. The question was referred to the Apostle Paul, who replied: – [R1587 : page 302]
VERSES 1,4,7. "Now, concerning the idol sacrifices, we know that an image is nothing in the world [that it is only an imaginary god], and that no one is God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be gods many and lords many), yet to us there is but one god, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. But this knowledge is not in all." (The intervening lines are parenthetic. See Diaglott). All men were not enlightened by the gospel and so relieved from superstition; and, consequently, the eating of such meats in their presence might seem to them to be an indorsement of the idol-worship; and thus they might be misled into a partial indorsement of idolatry. Or at least the influence of such Christians might be greatly weakened.
Therefore, while he admits that there would be nothing wrong – no sacrifice of any principle – in the eating of such meat (verse 8), he advises that these Christians forego the use of their liberty in this matter out of deference to the conscience of weaker brethren who might otherwise be made to stumble.
And so clearly did the Apostle realize his responsibility for the weaker brethren, that he said that if his eating of meat would cause his brother to stumble he would never eat meat. – Verse 13.
Nor was he inclined to glory over his weaker brother because of his fuller knowledge and consequent freedom from superstition. Mere knowledge, he said, puffs up, but love builds up. (Verses 1-4.) Therefore he preferred in love to seek to build up the weaker brother's faith and to avoid placing any stumbling block in his way, rather than to boast of his superior knowledge and liberty and to cause his brother for whom Christ died to stumble. The latter course he shows to be sinful (verse 12), while the former is the only one consistent with true Christian love.
The Golden Text from the Apostle's letter to the Romans, with the two succeeding verses, further enforces this same sentiment, which all would do well to consider in every matter. While with us at this day this principle [R1587 : page 303] does not involve the eating of meats, it does touch many other things which should be considered in the light of our responsibilities for our brother's keeping in the faith. It should regulate our general conduct, our conversation, our manners, our dress, our conduct and habits of life, that all may be to the glory of God, to the edification of our brethren, and that our light may shine before the world.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I cannot refrain from writing you, for my heart is full of joy and thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father for this great and glorious knowledge which he has been pleased to give me, and I wish to render unto you my heartfelt thanks for so many encouraging words. I find that many are very ready to receive the truth, and I explain it to the best of my ability; but I cannot lend one book to the many that wish it, and I expect soon to order more. I believe I could sell many. I cannot express in words the enjoyment the TOWER gives us. May God bless it as the means of placing many upon the sure foundation, which is Christ Jesus.
How wonderful is God in his love to us! It seems almost too good to be true, only that it is sealed with his own name and with the blood of his only begotten Son. God will be with you and he will greatly bless you, for he has many hungry souls crying out for the Bread of Life.
Yours in the Lord,
DEAR SIR: – In the good providence of God, your three volumes of MILLENNIAL DAWN were placed in my hands by one of the Lord's "little ones." They have been read carefully and prayerfully, over and over again; and for them I render unceasing praise to our blessed Lord.
KIND SIRS: – "He that desireth knowledge, let him ask of God." I have realized untold blessings from VOL. I. of the MILLENNIAL DAWN series; and, desiring to know more of the truth of God, I send my order for the other two volumes. Find enclosed fifty cents.
May God bless you in the work you are now advancing. Yours with respect,
GENTLEMEN: – About two years ago I read the first volume of MILLENNIAL DAWN, and am well pleased with it. It sheds new light on God's Word. After critical examination I am convinced that it presents the truth. I now desire volumes two and three of the DAWN series.
I joined the Missionary Baptists when about 17 years old, and was a zealous member until about ten years ago, when I began to investigate their teachings. To my great astonishment I discovered they were teaching and following their creed and the doctrines and traditions of men. So about three years ago I earnestly requested them to drop my name from their membership. I almost became an avowed infidel.
After reading The Plan of the Ages (bought of a colporteur) and skimming through volumes two and three (borrowed on short time), I lost that proclivity to infidelity, and again enlisted as a soldier of the cross. I am an earnest seeker after truth. I have had a strong desire to preach the gospel of Christ ever since my youth, and I earnestly hope and pray that the day is fast approaching when, by the grace of God, and careful study, I shall know what I believe, and why I believe it, and shall bear to many the precious news of "good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." Your prayers are earnestly desired.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I praise God for the truth as I now see it. For seventeen years I wandered in darkness, groping, expecting something, I knew not what, and believing all the time that those who did not repent and accept Christ in this life would be lost; but I do thank God that this truth has dawned upon me in its beauty and holiness: that I can see a God of justice, love, mercy and power, and that in Jesus Christ, to whom I hope to be united as one of the Bride, I see that which is altogether lovely. To him may all honor and praise be given. Amen.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – When out collecting for a banquet in the Salvation Army about the first of April, I was introduced to DAWN. Words cannot express the joy and delight which that book and the TOWER lent me by a friend have given me. I acted at once on my honest conviction, gave in my resignation and commenced to spread the truth. A great number have since commenced to read DAWN, but the officer in charge here is shocked at my course. He called a special meeting and denounced me as a heretic, infidel, traitor to the Army and a person to be generally shunned – I suppose to prevent the soldiers visiting me as I was widely known here. He said he did not care what we believed, if we did not teach it. However, I told him I would teach it: that I should, to do my duty to God and my fellow men, proclaim the truth as loudly as I had the falsehood. I ask the prayers of all the faithful that I may be strengthened for my work. As Father Chiniquy says with regard to Rome, you have to live in the Army to understand it. Looking from the outside, one would think it real, and I believe at first it was; but selfish ambition, self-aggrandizement and vain-glory have so crept in that it will overthrow itself.
Your new-found sister,
DEAR SIR: – I have just finished reading MILLENNIAL DAWN, and I am charmed and delighted beyond all expression. I want to thank you for the real joy and heart-gladness the work has afforded me. Everything is so plain and reasonable that I want the whole world to read this work; and if others would receive one hundredth part the light and joy that have come into my life, they would be amply repaid for time and trouble.
With what system and order our Heavenly Father has worked for man's benefit had crossed my mind to a certain extent before; but you have made him more than ever the All-wise. What can I do to help on this glorious work?
EDITOR ZION'S WATCH TOWER: – The papers sent are at hand. I have been greatly interested in the subject of baptism, and have studied considerably the different doctrines taught concerning it, and my mind has been very much unsettled regarding it. I want to say now that your article on "Baptism and its Import," in TOWER of June 15th, is to me the plainest and most convincing exegesis of the subject that I have ever read. That number of the WATCH TOWER alone is worth the year's subscription.
Yours in Christ,
MY DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I have been studying The Plan of the Ages, and desire to say that I am fully with you, heart and head. I know these things are true. The dear Lord is blessing me with the light of truth. Oh, how I rejoice to be thus favored of the dear, loving Master. I cannot keep it. I desire to let these truths go unto others; for I know many are hungering for relief from sectarian thralldom, and would love to be planted on the Rock rather than on shifting sand.
May the dear Lord continue your life and health, and bless you both, is my prayer.
DEAR BROTHER: – I have given up all for the Master's work, and I am all alone. I have had to stand as a witness against the entire city. For the last week my stand was taken in accordance with our Master's teachings as shown me through the WATCH TOWER. I did not force my views on any one, but, when it became necessary, I withstood the entire town. They threatened to boycott me, and many of them have done so; but the Master has quadrupled my business in spite of their opposition. What difference to me how many are against me, when he is for me. The only thing that troubles me is that I cannot do more for him.
I have placed the DAWN before almost every one in this city. Dear brother, pray for me, that I may stand fast and that he may open a way of usefulness for me. It is a great honor to be able to work for our Master. Yours in his love,
DEAR SIR: – Received of your Colporteur MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I., which has been carefully read. Never was a book read with more interest and never was such a flood of light let in by so few pages. I am glad to congratulate you on having, by God's grace, discovered the truth.
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MY DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – It is to me a great pleasure to inform you that the Lord, the Keeper of Israel, brought me back home safely, and that I found all my family well. On Saturday the 19th inst., I was, by the grace of God, able again to bear the name of our precious Lord Jesus before a multitude of Jews, who were very glad to see me again among them at our meeting-house. Blessed be God, which hath not turned away his mercy from me.
I feel very much obliged to you and dear Sister Russell for the Christian love and kindness shown to me by you both during the two days of my stay with you at your house. I am thankful to the Lord for that pleasure, which I never thought to obtain. I believe that our sudden meeting and talking about the Kingdom and the harvest truth shall have a good reward for us both. (Prov. 24:14.) Now, just after all what the Lord gave me to see, to hear and to comprehend in your country, I am holding my peace, to wit, whether the Lord had made my journey prosperous or not; but I can tell you, that the best place of America, and the time when my lungs breathed good fresh Christian air, was the two days of my stay in Allegheny. There I was surrounded by good earnest men, who are happy indeed in their blessed hope to sit down soon with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven. There I was strengthened about the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers, the hope of Israel, much more than in other places. Oh! Our Father which art in heaven, thy Kingdom come. Amen.
John is preparing an answer to your kind letter to him. I, jointly with my wife and children, send to yourself and to your dear wife our Christian love and best wishes. We are every evening praying for you both, that the Lord may preserve you for a long time to serve for his Kingdom and glory.
Believe me, I am yours truly in Jesus Christ,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I arrived in Liverpool on the 4th inst. Had a pleasant voyage; no trouble with seasickness. On the steamer, I formed a little Bible class, and succeeded in stirring up quite an interest on the line of present truth. Sold some DAWNS, and gave out tracts.
When I arrived in Liverpool I found a place for baggage and lodging. In the afternoon called to see a sister and two brethren who seem very noble and zealous for the truth. They each pray earnestly and constantly for you and Sister Russell (and all saints), and have been praying for my coming and the success of the work here. Yesterday noon, I came out to a town of about 30,000 population, and in a day and a half I have taken orders for fifty volumes. Will not say much of the general prospects yet, as I do not know very much but will write you more fully, later. Hope to get Sister G__________started the first of next week.
With kind greetings in our dear Redeemer,
There is now a great railway system in the course of construction, which will girdle the Holy Land from one end to the other. A French company has secured a concession for a line from Beyrout to Damascus, and has already commenced work on a narrow-gauge road. An English syndicate is now building a railway from Haifa to Damascus, which will be about 140 miles long. The road will border on the southern shore of Galilee, and almost without a curve along the famous wheat region, biblically known as the plains of Bashan. This road will undoubtedly prove of the greatest interest to Syria in an agricultural and commercial way, finding a means for placing upon the eastern market the rich products in which that section abounds.
|VOL. XIV.||OCTOBER 15, 1893.||NO. 20.|
"Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial [Deut. 13:13]? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God....Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." – 2 Cor. 6:14-18.
To be "yoked" together with another signifies more than a mere passing friendliness or neighborly kindness. It signifies an intimacy, a companionship, a fellowship of spirit. If two are bound together with the same yoke, they must of necessity walk together; and if they cannot agree to walk together, they must sever the yoke, whether it be a literal wooden yoke, or a yoke of friendship. Friendship is more than a passing kindness, and never exists without some bonds of fellowship. With a loyal and faithful Christian the bonds of fellowship or friendship can be none other than those of a common faith and hope. He has renounced the world with its ambitions and aims, has lost its spirit, and has received instead the spirit of Christ with all its new and heavenly aspirations and hopes; consequently, if he be true to his profession, those earthly things can no longer constitute bonds of fellowship with him: he cannot submit to be yoked with those who are of the world. He has also renounced all the vain philosophies of human invention and has taken for his guide, and has found his delight in, the infallible Word of divine truth; consequently, if he remain true to his profession, the theories and speculations of men can constitute no bond of fellowship with him; for he has no sympathy with them. And, further, his commission as an ambassador for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20) not only precludes the possibility of fellowship on those terms, but it also arrays [R1588 : page 308] him, as a defender of the faith once delivered to the saints by the Lord and the Apostles, in opposition to every other form of doctrine.
The Apostle's questions are therefore significant: "What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?" None whatever: the man who is righteous cannot approve or agree with the unrighteous; they cannot walk together, either under the one yoke or the other, and they naturally drift apart, because there is nothing to hold them together. "And what communion hath light with darkness?" Can the natural light and darkness abide together? No more can the light of truth in one heart and the darkness of error in another draw them together in fellowship and sympathy. They are repellant and not attractive forces. They cannot assimilate. The light may come where darkness reigns and chase it away, and then there can be communion in light; but when the darkness opposes the light, and instead of giving place to it, seeks to overwhelm it, there can be no communion except the light suffer an eclipse and go out in darkness.
And "what concord [what harmony] hath Christ [the body of Christ, the true Church] with Belial [with those who say, "Let us go and serve other gods" – See Deut. 13:13]?" Those who agree with and fellowship such, have not the spirit of Christ, and are none of his, no matter how loudly they profess to be. "Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel," an unbeliever? Is there any bond of fellowship there? "And what agreement hath the temple of God [the Church, the body of Christ] with idols?" Can the spirit of God and the spirit of idolatry dwell in the same heart? God will not share his temple with another. We must be wholly devoted to him, or we are not acceptable to him. Therefore, every other idol must be banished from our hearts, Christ alone enthroned, and only his true and loyal subjects fellowshipped.
"Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
The first word – "Wherefore" – calls up the forceful argument preceding; i.e., in view of the fact that it is impossible to serve two masters or to have the spirit of Christ, and still have fellowship with the opponents of Christ; in view of the fact that we must either be true and loyal to him, or else be none of his – "Wherefore, come out from among them [from among the enemies of Christ, whether the avowed or the deceitfully cloaked, who, although professing to be light-bringers and truth-seekers, love darkness better than light, because their hearts are not right; whose conduct shows that they do not love the Lord and the truth, and who only seek to entice the faithful away from the narrow path which God has marked out]; and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean."
To be separate does not mean to be friends and companions, or to be in fellowship on any grounds. It means that we are to make a clean-cut division between ourselves and all the unclean, the impure in heart, as manifested by their disloyalty to the truth, and thereby to God, its great Author; and that this separation is to be so marked that the disfellowshipped one will be sure to know it, and that none can mistake our obedience and loyalty to the Lord and his truth. There is to be no trifling or half-way obedience in this matter; for we are not only to be separate in spirit from the enemies of the Lord, but we are not to touch the unclean. As the Apostle elsewhere says, we are to "avoid them" – to have no part or lot with them.
It is only on these conditions that we have the Lord's promise – "And I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you; and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." We are thus brought face to face with the alternative of making a definite choice between the Lord and his truth on the one hand, and the enemies of the Lord, whether open or covert, on the other. The command is, "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve." There is no neutral ground; and no half-way [R1588 : page 309] compliance can realize the blessed promise – "And I will receive you," etc.
It is the spirit of the world, and not the spirit of Christ, which considers such a separation from the ungodly and the apostate a hard service. The loyal heart cannot admit to its communion and fellowship those who have not the same loyal disposition. What would be the natural conclusion of a husband, if he saw his wife, who professed loyalty and devotion to him, making a special friend or companion of his enemy, either secret or open? or of the wife whose husband found pleasure in fellowship and communion with one who is an enemy to her, or who in any way treats her with discourtesy or disrespect? And should we not be equally loyal to our heavenly Bridegroom and our heavenly Father? and equally sensitive and quick to discern the opposing spirit which seeks to undermine and destroy the faith and loyalty of God's elect? Would not true loyalty and devotion count the injury or the blessing done to a friend as done unto us? So the Lord views the matter when he says, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matt. 25:40.) And so also the Psalmist teaches, saying, "Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies." – Psa. 139:21,22.
To thus come out from among the unclean, and to be separate from all the deceitful, as well as from the open, workers of iniquity, may often leave us quite alone in the world; but the truly loyal heart will prefer to be alone with God, rather than to have the friendship of those who are untrue to him. Even if the Scriptures had nothing to say on the subject, such would be natural to a devoted heart.
It is therefore all in vain that some testify of their love to God while they keep company with his opponents. Their actions speak louder than their words. It is in vain also that they urge the plea of charity when the Lord says, "Be ye separate, and touch not the unclean." [R1589 : page 309]
Many, and very plain and positive, are the warnings of the Word of God against the "evil communications" that "corrupt good manners." (1 Cor. 15:33.) The Apostle Paul's counsel (Acts 20:28-30) to all the elders of the Church was, "Take heed, therefore, unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the holy Spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood: for I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves 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." And Jude said, "Beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, how that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own desires. These be they who separate themselves [from the truth and its spirit], sensual [minding earthly things, and gratifying the ambitions and tastes of the old nature], having not the spirit. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying with a holy spirit [a spirit of loyalty and devotion to God], keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." – Jude 17-21.
Thus we are put on guard against the enemies of the truth, and it is made obligatory upon all the faithful to be on the alert against them, and to be prompt in discerning and in dealing with them, so that the flock of Christ may be spared. The Apostle Paul grows very earnest in urging this matter, saying, "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them: for they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own desires; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple [of those not on the alert for the encroachment of error]." (Rom. 16:17,18.) Again, says the same Apostle (2 Tim. 2:16), "Shun profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto more ungodliness."
No, says the ungodly policy of this evil day of compromises and of disloyalty to "the faith once delivered to the saints," we cannot walk by this strict rule: we dare not recognize [R1589 : page 310] and admit the real character of a wolf in the sheep-fold, if the wolf be attired in sheep's clothing; we must accept his professions, notwithstanding his words and his actions to the contrary. We cannot believe that of our own selves – right in the midst of the company of the consecrated – any will arise to "pervert the truth" and to "draw disciples after them;" and we dare not "mark" any as such, and "avoid them," or "shun their profane and vain babblings," as the Apostle suggests, for it would be uncharitable, unloving.
Of late we hear a great deal in favor of a broad-minded charity which gives loose rein to the enemies of the doctrines of Christ – a charity which can affiliate with every form of belief or unbelief; that makes no claims of superiority for one religion over another, be it heathen or Christian or antichristian; and that freely fellowships all and bids all God speed, utterly heedless of the Word of the Lord which says, "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God," and "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 9-11.
The warning here is not against those who never knew the truth, but against those who have known it and have been blessed by it, and who have afterward turned away from it; of whom the Apostle Peter speaks, saying, "If, after they escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning [they are worse than those who have always been of the world]. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according the true proverb, "The dog is turned to his own vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire." Why do they do so? Because the dog and the sow nature and disposition are there still, and only wait for opportunities and circumstances to prove it. So also says John: they that go out from us – who desert the truth and its interests – do so because they were not of us (2 Pet. 2:20-22; 1 John 2:19), because the old fleshly mind and disposition are still there.
The love or charity which goes out toward the enemies of the cross of Christ – those who have been once enlightened by the truth and have turned away from it – is not the right kind of love. We are commanded to "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world," and told that "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15); and, again, "This is love, that we walk after his commandments." – 2 John 6.
"And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God." – Gal. 6:16.
IN our September issue we pointed out that many of the Lord's sheep are penned in behind various creeds of men and thus hindered from obtaining the food and exercising the liberty which Christ, the great Shepherd of the sheep, intended they should have. We did not deem it necessary in that article to show that while it is contrary to the will of the great Chief Shepherd that his sheep should be separated from each other by pens, and hindered from the proper liberties of the fold, there is, nevertheless, one general enclosure behind which all the true sheep will be found, and to which the Lord specially informs us that there is but the one door – himself.
We assumed that all knew something about this one fold and its one door; but in this it seems we were mistaken. Some "wolves" are disappointed to find that the Good Shepherd who gave his life for the "sheep" has provided for them certain limitations beyond which they cannot go if they obey his voice (his Word), and beyond which they do not desire to go if they are truly his sheep. [R1589 : page 311]
Let those who like call this true fold, with its well-defined walls, a man-made pen; – those who enjoy its security, enjoy also its liberty. It has one and only one wall, great and high, which so far has kept out the "wolves," except such as pretend to be sheep – who come arrayed in sheep's clothing. This wall is faith in Christ's sacrifice of himself as man's ransom-sacrifice – finished at Calvary.
All whom that fence excludes are not "sheep." And behind that simple, yet strong, creed-fence there is all the liberty proper for the Lord's "sheep;" – though probably not nearly enough for the "goats."
Further, while it is wrong for under-shepherds or anyone else to erect denominational fences inside this true fold, or to entice the "sheep" into these, and thus to restrain their liberties within the fold, – it is not only proper, but a part of the true under-shepherd's duty to protect the flock within the true enclosure, the true fold, from the "wolves in sheep's clothing" wherever found. No doubt it was a type of the true shepherd of the Lord's flock, that David [i.e., the Beloved], while defending his flocks, slew a lion, and a bear, and delivered the sheep of his charge.
Our Lord, the great Chief Shepherd, set an example to the under-shepherds; and all true ones of his appointment must needs have the same spirit or soon lose their office. It was he who forewarned the true sheep, saying, "Beware of false prophets [teachers], which come to you in sheep's clothing [professing to be of the Lord's flock, but in reality not such, because they do not trust in the great sacrifice offered once for all for their sins], but inwardly they are ravening wolves [who would destroy your faith in the ransom, and thus destroy you as "sheep"]. But he that is a hireling and not the shepherd,...seeth the wolf [the false teacher] coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth; and the wolf [the false teacher] catcheth them and scattereth the sheep.... I lay down my life for the sheep." – Matt. 7:15; John 10:12-15.
It is not the approval of the "wolves" in sheep's clothing, or without it, that is to be courted by the true under-shepherd. He will, however, have the approval of the Chief Shepherd, and of all the developed sheep who have their senses exercised by reason of use. The Apostle Paul battled hard against such false teachers, who affected to be believers, "sheep," while they were not such. Speaking on this subject he said to the Elders (under-shepherds) of the Church at Ephesus: –
"I take you to record this day that I am pure from the blood of all....Take heed, therefore, unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the holy Spirit hath made you overseers [shepherds], to feed the Church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood [ – faith in which purchase constitutes them 'sheep']. For I know this, that after my departing grievous wolves shall enter in among you [in sheep's clothing, of course, otherwise they would not be received], not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise speaking contrary things [things different from what I, Paul, have taught] to draw away disciples [followers] after themselves. THEREFORE WATCH, and remember that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears." – Acts 20:26-31.
The Apostle Peter, too, made a similar appeal to the under-shepherds, saying, "The elders which are among you I exhort....Feed the flock of God, as much as in you is, taking oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a willing mind." "But as there were false prophets [in the past – 'wolves in sheep's clothing'] even so there shall be false teachers among you, who privily [deceptively, covering the real purport of their teachings] shall bring in [to the fold] damnable heresies [errors leading to condemnation and rejection] even denying that the Lord bought them....And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of." – 1 Pet. 5:1-4; 2 Pet. 2:1,2.
The Apostle John also cautions us, saying: "Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward....He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ [that the Son of Man [R1589 : page 312] came to give himself a ransom for all. – Matt. 20:28; 1 Tim. 2:6] he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you [as a would-be teacher of the 'sheep'] and bring not this doctrine [of the ransom, taught by Christ], receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed; for he that biddeth him God-speed [or who even indirectly helps to spread the 'damnable heresy' that we were not bought by the Lord] is partaker of the evil work [of him who publicly and openly does so]." – 2 John 8-11.
Thus we see that the duty of under-shepherds to protect the flock from deceptive wolves, as well as to feed them meat in due season, has been recognized from the start; – because from the start there have been such wolves. And since the holy Spirit gave special warnings that in the end of the age "evil men and leaders astray" would wax more and more bold, and that through their instrumentality Satan would propagate error, and affect to be a messenger of light, is it not due time for all the sheep to recognize these facts, and not to be deceived by "feigned words" and "fair speeches"? The true sheep must not judge of fellow sheep by the pelt, for a wolf can wear a sheep's pelt: they must learn to note the Shepherd's voice and manner – directly through his Word, and indirectly through those whom he shall use as his representatives to "feed the flock over which the holy Spirit hath made them overseers [shepherds]."
Not only did the Apostle Paul thus direct the under-shepherds, but he points out the advisability of this to the flock, since it is thus that the Chief Shepherd leads and feeds and keeps his flock. – Heb. 13:17; Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Cor. 12:27-31; Psa. 91:11,12.
Let us stand fast therefore, in that liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free; – allowing no one to pen us up by human creeds; – neither allowing any to lead us out beyond the bounds fixed for us by the Chief-Shepherd, into liberties, licenses and speculations that he never authorized. Let us abide in Him, keeping ourselves in the love of God, as saith the Apostle.
"SUPPOSE that some one held, as a doctrine, that Christ during the Gospel age is giving the ransom for the Church and expiating her sins; and that during the Millennial age he will give a ransom for the world and expiate its sins: Would it be right or truthful if I, in speaking of such a teaching, were to say of it – 'It claims that our Lord is now making the ransom, that ever since his ascension he has been expiating the sins of the world in heaven, and that the work of ransoming will not be finished until the end of the Millennial age?' – Please answer in the TOWER, as it is claimed that I thus misrepresented this latest no-ransom theory."
In reply: It is our judgment that you stated the matter most fairly: more reasonably than the party you mention stated himself. What nonsense it is to talk about ransoming the [R1590 : page 312] Church and expiating her sins during the Gospel age. After we are accepted of God, in Christ, to be his Church, we need no ransoming, having no sins to expiate. It was while we were yet sinners [children of wrath, even as others, – parts of the world] that Christ died for us, and by the one sacrifice of himself once for all, expiated the sins of all the ungodly. (Rom. 5:6,8; Heb. 10:12.) He is a propitiation [satisfaction] for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. – 1 John 2:2.
The suggestion that Christ will be a satisfaction for the sins of the Church during this age, and will be such for the world during the Millennial age is a portion of outer darkness, so thick and dense that it is not likely to mislead any who give ear to the voice of the Shepherd in the Word. He is our propitiation, and the propitiation for all the world besides, ever since the great sacrifice was ended and the Ransomer cried, "IT IS FINISHED."
To this the Apostle also attests, saying: By one sacrifice he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified, – all; and this will include all [R1590 : page 313] that ever will come unto God by him, – whether they come during this age or during the next age. – Heb. 10:14.
But such nonsense is not worthy of the name of "teaching:" it violates logic, contradicts reason, and wrests the Scriptures. Reason and logic would ask, What is Christ doing, during the Gospel age or what will he do throughout the Millennial age to expiate sin? What is he now giving and what will he give during the Millennial age as a ransom for mankind? The Bible answers that it knows of nothing that remains to do, or to be given, to meet man's penalty; – that all has been done; – that the man Christ Jesus [more than eighteen centuries ago] gave himself a RANSOM [a corresponding price, a substitute] for ALL. – 1 Tim. 2:6.
But this correct reasoning will not convince those to whom you refer; because, to suit a theory, they have attached a new meaning to the words ransom and expiate. They use these words, improperly, to mean deliver or release. But only those thoroughly blinded to the commonest kind of common sense, or thoroughly ignorant of the common words of the English language could make such a blunder.
"Ransom. To redeem from captivity, punishment or forfeit, by paying an equivalent; to buy out of servitude or penalty; to rescue [by giving a ransom]; to deliver [by giving a ransom] as, to ransom prisoners from an enemy.
The party to whose teachings you refer claims to be a believer in the ransom; but from this you see he does not believe in it. He is therefore not a Christian Brother – not one of the sheep, in any sense, because it is this faith in Christ's death as our ransom sacrifice, and naught else, that justifies sinners, renders them, at consecration, acceptable as the Lord's sheep. To believe a stone to be bread will not render it nutritious and life-giving: neither will believing deliverance to be the ransom, the expiation of our guilt justify such a believer. God will not be mocked by any such miserable twisting of language; neither will any of the sheep who heed the Shepherd's words and prove all that they receive as truth and hold fast only that which stands the proof. And this subject of the ransom is most important of all, because it is the standard by which all faith and all doctrines are to be proved true or false.
The grand results or effects of the ransom given, once for all, eighteen centuries ago, will be DELIVERANCE: partial deliverance to God's saints, now, from Sin, the great enslaver, – full deliverance to the faithful of the same class at the end of this Gospel age. Its grand results or effects will ultimately be extended to all the families of the earth, in that it will secure to all a full opportunity for deliverance from Sin and Death, upon similar conditions to ours (faith and obedience), but under the more favorable circumstances of the Millennial age. But to have faith in a deliverance and to call it the ransom is not a proper or saving faith: it proves on the contrary that those who so hold do not believe in the real ransom sacrifice finished at Calvary.
Our advice to all readers is that when once they have proved any teacher (or journal, or book) to be wrong on this important doctrine, the foundation of all Christian faith, they need do no more proving there; for if the foundation is bad, the entire structure built thereupon must be pernicious, – dangerous. Have nothing more to do with such teacher (or book or journal). You may be sure that God did not send him to you as his mouth-piece, else he would have seen to it, first, that he had the correct foundation.
EXCEPTION has been taken by several of our friends (who are or were connected with the Baptists) to our statement of Baptist doctrine relative to water immersion. They hold that we are in error in supposing that Baptists lay stress upon water immersion [R1590 : page 314] as essential to salvation. They claim that they never did so believe, even before getting the fuller light of present truth upon this and other subjects; that many able writers amongst the Baptists have held, and clearly stated, that it is not essential; that intelligent Baptists everywhere so hold; and that merely amongst the ignorant does the view prevail that only those immersed in water will be saved; – thus dissenting from other Christians, who hold that it is necessary, and who therefore give attention to the matter with infants.
We are glad to make this statement public. Before doing so we verified it by having a representative interview with five Baptist ministers (three whites and two blacks). The colored ministers understood that salvation and the new birth were secure to those only who, after reaching years of accountability, have been immersed in water; – interpreting thus the statement, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." The other three ministers denied that water-immersion is essential to salvation. Two of these declared that it attests that the mind, the heart, is submissive to the will of the Lord, and is the outward answer of a good conscience toward God. The other one held substantially the views presented in the WATCH TOWER publications – that a full consecration of the will is the true immersion into Christ, – into death with him to self and the world, which is symbolized by the water-immersion. And this one confessed that he had recently read MILLENNIAL DAWN.
These ministers were also sounded as to their faith in Christ, not merely as an Exemplar or model, but also as man's ransom-price before God's law; as the one "who gave himself a ransom [a corresponding price] for all." Two of them (one white and one colored) were clear and strong upon both features of our Lord's work – the ransom and the example; – and both of these had read MILLENNIAL DAWN; two others (one white and one colored) confessed faith only in our Lord's example as his saving power or influence over sinners, and ignored the ransom without specially opposing it. The fifth utterly repudiated the ransom, declaring that to him it was absurd to think of Christ's death paying man's debts in any sense. He scoffed at the sentiment of that precious and Scriptural hymn: –
"Jesus died and paid it all,
Yes, all the debt I owed."
Christ to him was a noble example of how to live. He did not say if he considered that he or others had ever lived or could live according to that example, and thus be justified before God by their own right-doing. When asked, Do not the Scriptures declare that "Christ died for us?" he answered, Yes; but so also did the heroes of the Revolutionary war die for our liberty. But he did not and could not explain how it came (if Christ died for us in the same sense that the Revolutionary heroes died for us) that the death of the latter affected only the present life and welfare, while the Bible clearly states that Christ's death was for our sins and that it affects the future life; and that by his stripes we are healed and have access to God, being no longer reckoned and treated as enemies under wrath and condemnation, but received to God's favor as sons. Surely it does not require a very astute mind to see that Christ died for us in a very different sense from what the Revolutionary heroes died for us.
Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as "Baptist doctrine," because there is at present no such thing as a Baptist Denomination. There are hundreds of congregations calling themselves Baptists, but they profess to be thoroughly independent of each other. Each congregation decides what it believes and what it will require in faith and practice from its members and its minister. As a consequence, for one to tell you that he is a Baptist assures you of nothing respecting his faith, except that he is a believer in water-immersion.
Nevertheless, we have much sympathy with this spirit of independence. But we would carry it farther, and insist that the different congregations should not make doctrines and practices (including water-immersion) tests of membership – except those practices of morality enjoined by our Lord and the apostles, and [R1591 : page 314] the doctrine of faith in Christ as the ransomer [R1591 : page 315] of sinners, and consecration to his will as expressed in the teachings of the Scriptures. But such congregations would have no further use for the name Baptist; for baptism would no longer be the standard and test of fellowship among them. The name Christian would then be preferable; and faith in Christ as the sin-bearer, and full consecration to his service, being the only tests, would be implied by the profession of that only name. Such was and is the Lord's will on this subject, and such is the practice of many WATCH TOWER readers.
While Baptist congregations have for centuries maintained their independence of each other and of the Baptist Ministers' Association, evidence is not lacking that instead of the tendency being toward individual (as well as congregational) liberty of faith (which would be the proper thing, as above pointed out), it is gravitating (as with Congregationalists), year by year, toward denominationalism; and we shall not be surprised to find Baptists a united body before long.
The spirit of the world is in the direction of union and combination. The world is always willing to compromise personal liberties and principles "a little" for the sake of prosperity; and this class is fast becoming the majority, and as such will rule: and the minority, instead of standing fast in the liberty of Christ, and withdrawing so as to preserve their individual freedom, will generally be persuaded that it is their duty to submit and not cause a disturbance. They falsely think that submission to the wrong of the worldly majority is part of the grace of patience enjoined by the Scriptures.
The tendency toward denominationalism and a common confession of faith comes chiefly from the Baptist Ministers' Association, which wields a mighty influence and practically moulds the faith of the Baptist people. Through it Baptists are practically a denomination now; for it is Baptist usage that a congregation desiring a pastor, but unable to fully support him, shall apply to the Association; and, if not yet "ordained," have him "ordained" at the hands of its members. And this Association will not recommend, nor ordain as a pastor, any one not in harmony with its standard of faith, – one therefore who would co-operate with them in teaching the people according to the faith-standard of the Ministerial Association.
These Associations are in themselves an evidence of the tendency toward denominationalism; for they are of recent institution, – beginning about fifteen years ago. Already they exercise great power – a money-power as well as a clerical-power. Their general secretaries collect monies for Home missions: these monies are at the disposal of the Associations. Any new Baptist congregation unable to raise a sufficient salary to support a minister can, by giving its allegiance to the Baptist Ministers' Associations, get a minister. The Association pays the minister, and the congregation contributes what it can to the Association funds. Thus both minister and flock are bound to the Association's rules, etc. Ministers are yet further bound to the Association, because the latter undertakes to care for the widows and orphans of its deceased members.
Nevertheless, Baptists have much of the spirit of true Christian liberty; and generally they are not aware that they are so rapidly drifting into denominationalism, and already they are sectarian in that they make water-baptism a test of Christian fellowship; – that is, they refuse to admit to their communion table Christians who have not been immersed; and frequently they refuse also those who have been immersed, but not by a regularly ordained Baptist minister. As a class of people they are therefore better prepared than others to receive present truth, and should be a fruitful class amongst whom to do harvest work. Let all who have opportunity thrust in the sickle of Truth – and do it quickly, "while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work." – John 9:4.
"Saints of God, the dawn is brightening
With the glory of the Lord;
O'er the earth the field is whitening;
Now recall the Master's word –
Pray for reapers
In the harvest of the Lord."
IV. QUAR., LESSON VI., NOV. 5, 1 COR. 15:12-26.
VERSES 12-19 call attention to the great importance of the doctrine of the resurrection, presenting it as the twin of the other great doctrine which the Apostle set forth "first of all" (verse 3) – "how that Christ DIED for our sins according to the Scriptures," to which fundamental doctrine it stands related as effect to cause. So important is this doctrine in the estimation of the inspired Apostle, that he emphatically declares that, if it be not true, then there is no hope for any man beyond the present life; the preaching of the gospel is in vain, and those who preach it are false witnesses; the death of Christ was for naught; the faith of Christians is vain, and their hope delusive; and their life of sacrifice, in view of the resurrection and its rewards, merely robs them of what little enjoyment and advantage they might gain in the present life, which is all they would ever have; and those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. Such indeed is our sad plight if there be no resurrection. If this, which Christ died to secure, is not guaranteed to us, to be realized in due time, we are yet in our sins and under the death penalty without a ray of hope. And more: if there be no resurrection, although the price was paid to secure it, then God is not fulfilling his part of the contract.
While verses 12-19 declare the great importance of this twin doctrine of the ransom – the resurrection – verses 20-26 emphasize its truthfulness. The resurrection of Christ, attested by many infallible proofs (verses 5-8; Acts 1:3), is the guarantee that all those whom he redeemed by his precious blood shall have not only an awakening from death, but an opportunity to attain a complete resurrection to all the blessings and favors lost in the fall. That was the assurance which God gave to all men (Acts 17:31) that the ransom for the sins of the whole world given at Calvary was acceptable, a full satisfaction of the claims of Justice against our race, so that now he can be just, and the justifier of all that believe in Jesus. – Rom. 3:26.
In verse 20 let Christians observe what the various creeds of Christendom ignore, and what is in direct antagonism to their teachings, viz., that the risen Christ was "the first-fruits of them that slept" – that he was the first one to experience a resurrection in the full sense of the term, viz., to perfection and everlasting life. True, some before him were temporarily awakened, again to relapse into death; for example, Lazarus, Jairus' daughter, the son of the widow of Nain, the Shunammite's son, etc., but those were only partial illustrations of resurrection, to assure men of the divine power to fully accomplish it in due time – in the day which God has appointed. (Acts 17:31.) Now mark the logic of this fact: If Christ was the first one resurrected, none were resurrected before him; and if, as shown in the preceding verses, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished, except they be restored to life by a resurrection; and if those who die in Christ, "sleep in Jesus," until Christ's second coming, it is plain that none of them went to heaven when they died. They were dead, they slept in Jesus, they rested in hope, they were destroyed, and must remain so until the time appointed for their resurrection – at the second advent of Christ when "all those that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. (1 Thes. 4:14.) David hath not ascended into the heavens (Acts 2:34); Daniel must wait, and he shall stand in his lot at the end of the days (Dan. 12:13); Abraham must wait his time for the possession of the promised land of which he never yet owned so much as to set his foot upon (Acts 7:5); Job must tarry until the wrath of this evil day is overpast (Job 14:12-15,21); Stephen must wait the realization of his dying vision (Acts 7:56); and Paul, and with him all those that love the Lord's appearing, must wait the fulness of time when the reward of their faithfulness will be due. – 2 Tim. 4:8.
All this Scripture teaching is in perfect accord; but it is in irreconcilable conflict with the current theology of so-called Christendom, [R1591 : page 317] in whose theories there is no place whatever for the doctrine of the resurrection, logically considered. If a man goes to heaven when he dies, and is glad to shuffle off this mortal coil which some call his prison, although he loves and cherishes it and stays in it as long as possible, why, in the name of reason, should he hope for a reunion with his body? The whole position is illogical, unscriptural and untenable.
VERSE 21 antagonizes the current theology with equal force. It declares that since by man came death, by man – the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all – came also the resurrection of the dead. Current theology says that our redemption is secured by the sacrifice of a God, not a man; but the Scriptures are very explicit in pointing out an exact equivalent, a human substitute for the human head of our race, whose redemption secures the redemption of his posterity, on precisely the same principle that his fall and condemnation entailed sin and death upon us. It was the man Christ Jesus, who, after he had left the glory of his previous spiritual existence and was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, said, "a body hast thou prepared me for the suffering of death," that accomplished our redemption by the sacrifice of himself – his [R1592 : page 317] flesh, his humanity, and that in consequence of that sacrifice has been highly exalted, even to the divine nature – "Wherefore, God also hath highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things in earth, and things under the earth." – Phil. 2:8-11.
It was after the resurrection that he said, "All power in heaven and in earth is given unto me." And if this exaltation and power were granted to him as a reward for his sacrifice, then it is manifest that, however rich he was in spiritual glory and power before he became a man, he was still more bountifully endowed at his resurrection, after he had sacrificed his humanity, being made a partaker of the divine nature and the express image of his Father's person. (Heb. 1:3.) When the man Christ Jesus gave "his flesh [his humanity] for the life of the world" (John 6:51), he gave it up never to take it again; for it was the price paid for our redemption. And consequently, when he was raised again, his existence was in a new nature, that thus our benefits might not be interfered with, and also that the abundant power of the divine nature given unto him might be exercised in actually reclaiming from the thraldom of sin and death those whom he had legally rescued by his death.
VERSES 22,23 show that all who are Christ's – by faith in his sacrifice – are to receive the benefits of his death in full resurrection to the perfection and lasting life forfeited in Eden. The order of resurrection is to be Christ the firstfruits, which includes not only Christ Jesus, the head and high-priest of our profession, but also all the members of his body – "Blessed and holy are all they that have part in the first resurrection." Then, after the resurrection of this glorious body, follows the resurrection of all that are his at [during] his [Christ's] presence" – Greek parousia, presence, not coming.
The time of his presence is the entire thousand years of his reign. During that period all that are in their graves [good and bad, the just and the unjust] shall hear his voice and shall come forth: they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment" – Greek krisis, judgment, not damnation. (John 5:28,29.) The former class enter immediately upon their reward of full resurrection – human perfection, while the latter class awake to a judgment, or trial for everlasting life, which it will be their privilege to gain if they become Christ's by fully submitting themselves to his discipline and control. Otherwise their trial will be cut short at a hundred years and they will die the second death, from which there is no recovery. (Isa. 65:20.) None out of Christ will be made alive, fully resurrected, though all experience the awakening from death, which is the first step in the process of resurrection, and a trial to prove their worthiness or unworthiness of the fulness of resurrection, which is actual perfection and everlasting life. "He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." (1 John 5:12.) "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." – John 3:36.
VERSES 24,25 assure us of the victory of Christ, and in what that victory will consist – that it will consist in the complete subjection of every opposing power and authority, [R1592 : page 318] and in the putting of all the enemies of this, his purpose, under his feet, whether those enemies be evil conditions, principles, powers or individuals. He will banish all evil conditions by permitting first a great time of trouble (Dan. 12:1), and then by causing conditions of righteousness and peace to supplant them. He will forever banish the evil principles by flooding the world with his light and truth and by effectually renewing a right spirit in the hearts of all the willing and obedient. He will completely overcome every opposing power by the exercise of his own almighty power for their complete and final overthrow. And he will put down every opposing individual by cutting him off in the second death, from which there shall be no recovery.
"He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet;" and the limited time of that reign is a thousand years (Rev. 20:6-10), at the expiration of which time all opposing individuals, and the devil who deceived and led them, are to be cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death. (Rev. 20:7-15.) The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death – not the second death into which the opposers have been cast, else the language would be contradictory, but the Adamic death, which Christ came to destroy by liberating all its subjects, which, to fully accomplish, will require all of his Millennial reign.
In the words of our Golden Text, "Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ."
In these "perilous times," when popular religion is pointing, in a great Religious Congress, to its many ways into fellowship with God, how thankful I am, and we all can be, that God has been pleased to reveal his Son to us, and that we know him as "the way, the truth and the life;" the "only name given among men whereby we must be saved." Appreciating that all men attain their present measure of life through procreation from Adam, we also appreciate that re-generation is only in, or through Christ; and every man in his own order. "Their rock is not our Rock, even our enemies [opposers] themselves being judges." And we know, too, that our building, built upon our Rock – Christ Jesus – shall stand in the present storm.
Yours under the Ransom,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I am going to write a few lines, for I know you will be glad to learn how the work is progressing here. I started last week, after taking some lessons from Brother Rogers. I have adopted his method entirely, and think it is so good. Last week I took orders for one hundred and twenty-three DAWNS, and this week for eighty-nine, though not able to work full time.
I do enjoy the work so much, and have been wonderfully blessed in finding many interested ones. I must tell you of one family especially, who had read first volume of DAWN, and said they found it a feast of fat things. We had such a good talk – the lady and her husband and brother – and they were so thankful for my being led to them. They asked if we could have prayer before I left them; and they thanked God for sending his truth to them. They gave me an order for a full set, and I went forth rejoicing to have found some wheat. Two or three others I feel are going to appreciate the truth dearly. I can hardly keep from singing on the street: the "half was never told." Pray for me, dear brother, that I may be faithful, and able to continue in this glorious harvest work. At present I am working in a Jewish part of the city, so you may know I see mostly Jews; but I search out those who will listen.
In our Redeemer, yours,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I address you to let you know that I am still walking in the light. I have to report the truth growing here, and quite a number taking a stand for it. Although the "blind guides" are on the alert to hinder growth in grace page 319 and knowledge, I notice that those of their flocks that are heartily seeking after righteousness and truth generally get filled. The truth is having a wonderful influence over us here, and some of us are still striving to shape our affairs in order to spend and be spent more fully in the service of our blessed Master. As you know, I thought that my expectations would be realized long ere this, but I believe the word that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to the called according to his purpose," and I am content to wait till the Lord shall open up the way. If I can not just now enter the general field, there is no cause for idleness; for I, together with them of like precious faith in this place, can grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We meet every Sunday for study and to talk over these good things, and I am sure that every meeting brings us into more heart union and oneness in Christ. We desire your prayers that we may be found faithful. Yours in Christ,
It seems that I have stirred up a little interest in the DAWN, as well as some opposition. I was much encouraged Saturday evening when a young man called at my room and told me that his mother had concluded to take the book. Before breakfast on Sunday morning I took a walk, and a lady on the opposite side of the street beckoned for me to come over, and told me she had concluded to take the book. About nine o'clock I went to the Post Office, where a gentleman asked me how I was succeeding, and said he had told his wife about the book, and she wanted it. I noticed in Wednesday's paper an advertisement: "Wanted. – Agent of MILLENNIAL DAWN to call at__________soon as possible." As a result I sold two sets in cloth binding.
I think our success as colporteurs depends largely on the spirit we manifest in presenting the book to the people. First we should be careful that our hearts are full of love for the truth, and then we should manifest a very earnest zeal in presenting it – in a quiet way avoiding all strife or combativeness, yet not refraining to speak against error when it is brought up. And I find that it is very important to impress upon their minds the fact that it is meat in due season; that we are living in the "time of the end;" when increase of light is specially due and important; that we are in the "last days" spoken of in the Word, when men are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; that wicked men are waxing worse and worse; that many are now becoming skeptics or being led into delusions such as Evolution, Christian Science, Spiritualism, etc., all of which deny the Ransom, the only foundation for salvation; and that the MILLENNIAL DAWN presents the truth so harmoniously and clearly that it ought to be in every family.
I am still doing fairly well: took eighteen orders to-day. Love to all. Remember me in your prayers. Yours in the Redeemer,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – Just a word to say we arrived back at our corner of the harvest field safe and well from the Convention. We have only begun to digest the many good things we heard while at the meeting, but truly it was good to be there and to meet so many of like precious faith. I hope and trust we shall still be kept humble and faithful, and be allowed to labor for the Master and his truth. I expect to begin the colporteuring again very soon. Find enclosed an order which kindly have filled. With much love to all, yours in Him,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – You will please find enclosed One Dollar for renewal of WATCH TOWER subscription. I want to tell you for your encouragement and joy something of the good accomplished by the circulation of DAWN and TOWER in this place. A little company of eight believers meet as they have opportunity, to fellowship together in the precious truth now due to be understood. It is a source of joy to us all to realize as we do the nearness of the consummation of our joy. We thank God for using you as an instrument for the opening up of present truth, and we earnestly hope and pray he will keep you always right for service, "to the praise of his glory." I might add that much opposition is manifesting itself, especially from the religious teachers. One of the Methodist page 320 ministers preached a special sermon against DAWN, in the course of which he said Christ would never come to earth again; and that Christ's coming means the removal of every Christian at death. One sect had a good-sized circular printed, and distributed it broadcast at the market and over the city.
Yours in love,
DEAR BROTHER: – During the past week I have taken orders for nearly one hundred DAWNS. Would succeed much better, but for hard times; but I am thankful that I have done so well. I have met a few quite sincere people here, and gave a talk from the Chart of the Ages to a small number at the hotel. It was quite well received. Pray for me. In love,
Have been studying the truth, "through the light of MILLENNIAL DAWN" series and WATCH TOWER, for five years, and am as thoroughly convinced of the correctness of the views therein presented, as I am of the present wretched and undone condition of the world.
May the good work of sealing the saints go on. Yours in the truth,
MY DEAR BROTHER: – Yours of recent date duly received, and again I thank you for your kindness in writing me. I have done more thinking on these matters since I read the TOWER, than ever in my life, and think with better understanding.
I like the Diaglott, which was duly received, very much, and think it will be a great help. I enjoy the TOWER also. Think perhaps my great difficulty is to let go of self and trust Christ more. Am sure I want to live pleasing to him; but the flesh seems to be weak. I do indeed feel that there is great indifference and carelessness in the nominal church, and apparently more zeal for keeping the form than the spirit, and have been somewhat inclined that way myself; not that I so wished, but it seems to be the natural tendency of the church now.
It brings more clearly to my mind how God reads our inmost souls. If that power works between man and man, it is but a little indication of the power of Him who knoweth all. I should be glad if you would write on this subject in the TOWER.
Trusting you will pray that I may be truly consecrated to God (I know this is my desire), I remain, very humbly yours,
REPLY. I am glad that you can say that you desire to be consecrated to God; for (with those who are accepting the Lord Jesus as their Redeemer) the desire, the will, is acceptable to God. What remains, then, for you to do is to make a definite contract with God: in the same way that you would complete a business contract. If you had a deed or agreement before you, and a strong desire to sign it, the desire would result in action. Without the desire to sign it, the document would be of no value; – the desire and the action are both necessary to complete it. So in your covenant with God: you have the desire; now take upon you its obligations; tell him of your desire and of your intention, by his grace, of carrying it out, and ask him to accept you and to direct you in such a course as will be pleasing to himself. Thus, having given yourself away, and having no will of your own, save as you have taken his for yours, you may have confidence of his acceptance and that he will perform his part of the covenant. "Faithful is he who has called you, who also will do it."
About mind-reading: I think the achievements of mind readers are of great interest to us, as illustrating the possibilities of a perfect human being. Lightning calculators, snake charmers, horse tamers, mind readers, musical geniuses, etc., are all freaks of nature which permit us to see powers, all of which belong to the perfect man. I would not be surprised if, after the new age has been opened and the capabilities of mankind have become exercised, people could communicate with each other without speech, just as dogs and others of the lower animals now do; though each person will also possess the power of resistance and be able to secrete his thoughts if he choose.