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Premier Crispi inaugurated in Naples to-day the memorial erected in honor of King Humbert's visit to the city during the cholera epidemic of 1884. He made a notable speech, beginning with a historical review of recent Italian politics, and closing with a declaration as to the social problems of to-day, especially the revolutionary movement. The social system was now passing, he said, through a momentous crisis. The situation had become so acute that it seemed absolutely necessary for civil and religious authority to unite and work harmoniously against that infamous band on whose flag were inscribed the words, "No God, no King." This band had declared war on society. Let society accept the declaration and shout back the battle-cry, "For God, King and Country!"
The politicians and clergy here regard this speech as the weightiest utterance of years. Its whole letter and spirit, they say, suggest the approach to an understanding between the Government and the church.
The above foreshadows what we have for some time pointed out as the tendency of civilization – to retrace its steps toward a fuller recognition of ecclesiasticism in politics. This change of front is not because of a growth of religion or of religious superstition, but from a fear that unless the church controls the people through superstition, etc., the entire social fabric will go to wreck. This calls our attention afresh to our Lord's prophecy of present conditions – "Men's hearts failing them for fear and for looking after the things coming upon the earth [society]; for the powers of the heavens [ecclesiasticism] shall be shaken."
Ecclesiasticism will be given an increasingly prominent place in politics and will become a branch of or element in civil government, throughout "Christendom," until finally when one falls both will fall, in the great time of trouble, predicted in the Scriptures, whose shadow is already stealing over the world.
|VOL. XV.||OCTOBER 1, 1894.||NO. 19.|
ON Sunday, September 23rd, Bishop Foster preached before the Pittsburg Annual Conference of the M.E. Church, over whose sessions he has presided. We give extracts from his discourse as reported by two of Pittsburg's daily papers, as follows: –
"If I could concede for a moment that the world as I know it, and I know it from rim to rim, having traveled in all its lands, having seen its dissolute, despicable millions, having seen it in shame and filth, and if I were compelled to think that my God, whom I worship, would by any possible method of condemnation send down to hades 1,200,000,000 of my brothers, that know not their right hand from their left, and save a few of us who are a little better perhaps in our morals, I would not go into heaven if I could. I could not worship such a God as that. I would join the hosts of hades in rebelling against such a God. Our God is not a God of that kind. God is love, and is trying to save men."
"If I believed that God would send down to a hopeless eternity 1,200,000,000 of my brothers who are little worse than I am, I would not worship him. I have seen the world all over, know it from rim to rim, have seen its desolate and despicable people, and these I speak of hardly know their right hand from their left. God won't condemn all these. He's saving all men that he can. If I thought he would condemn all these, I would join the forces of the devil in hell, in rebellion against such an act." – Pittsburg Post.
The accounts of the two reporters are sufficiently alike to insure us that no serious mistake has been made as to the tenor of the Bishop's expression. But surely it is a remarkable expression, coming as it does from the foremost bishop of the M. E. Church. The bishop is, as he declares, well posted upon the condition of the vast heathen world – four-fifths of the living human family. He is well posted also respecting the missionary machinery for the civilization and conversion of these millions. He knows that while it was never before so complete as at present, yet, even now, the natural increase is proportionately far greater than the ratio of conversion. The bishop sees no hope for the heathen through the preaching of the gospel, and hence "flies the track," and leaves the Bible plan of salvation, – faith in Christ's redemptive work, a faith that comes by hearing of the word of God, the Gospel of salvation, a [R1710 : page 307] gospel which is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. – Rom. 10:17; 1:16.
Why should this intelligent man, a leader of thought amongst a very intelligent class of Christians, thus leave the gospel of the Bible? a gospel which declares: "Without faith it is impossible to please God;" "He that believeth shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be condemned;" "He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him;" "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved;" etc., etc. Why should he, as above, preach another gospel – the gospel of the merit of ignorance? The gospel of salvation without faith? – the gospel of salvation by works? – the gospel of a salvation without a Redeemer? for, if the heathen are to be saved because God could not do otherwise than save those who "know not [R1710 : page 308] their right hand from their left," or to keep the bishop from joining "the forces of the devil in hell in rebellion against such an act," then Christ's death was in vain: it certainly is no factor in the gospel which the bishop is preaching (of a general heathen salvation in ignorance of the only "name given under heaven or amongst men whereby we must be saved,") even though his text was, "When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son."
The reason is that the bishop's intelligence has outgrown his theology. He has spent more time and honest mental effort in viewing the world from rim to rim and studying its social and moral questions than he has spent in studying his Bible from cover to cover with an honest desire to learn God's explanation, in it, of his purposes for the blessing, of the world of mankind through faith in Christ!
The bishop's new gospel will strike a responsive chord in many hearts – in the hearts of missionaries who know better than others how little they really accomplish; – in the hearts of worldly people, who will say, That is what I always believed; faith never saves anybody; it is works or nothing; – in the hearts of worldly Christians, who will say, that relieves me greatly; I believe that our great religious leaders are advancing far beyond the old-fogy faith ideas of the past, to see that it is not what we know or believe merely, but what we do, or God's free grace, that saves us. The modern agnostic and higher-critic will say, That is the way to talk; it is time people were being taught to cut loose from those narrow expressions of the Bible which so evidence the narrowness of the minds of the Lord and the apostles. Indeed, almost all classes will be prepared to welcome the bishop's new gospel.
How strange that all of these are so averse to the Scriptural explanations of these questions which trouble the bishop and all men who are even beginning to think! How strange that those who will applaud the bishop's new gospel will entirely overlook one feature of it, which, if true, would certainly stamp it as bad tidings to all the holy ones who through patient perseverance in well doing have cultivated faith, trust, hope and love, and developed character from grace to grace and from glory to glory! What would these, who, through the faith that overcometh the world and by much tribulation, enter the Kingdom of Heaven, think of it, if within the pearly gates, where they had anticipated so much of love and pleasure, they were to find the hundreds of millions and billions of ignorant, degraded, depraved and characterless of heathendom pouring in upon them and outnumbering them to such an extent that a saint would be a hundred times harder to find in heaven than now on earth! To say the least, they would be astounded; and if an explanation were asked, and Bishop Foster were given the opportunity to reply, and had not changed his opinion, he doubtless would say that, after having done all he could for them on earth without success, and fearing that the bishop would join the forces of the devil and thus make a bad matter worse, God did not know what else to do with the heathen than take them to heaven.
Would that the good-hearted, but benighted, bishop would face about and see the Millennial dawn, the increasing light of the Sun of Righteousness now shining forth! He then would see what he does not see now, that God's plan as presented in the Bible is transcendently more reasonable, more benevolent, more just and more practicable than any which he or other human beings could possibly concoct or outline.
What would he see? Briefly this: That God's time for giving the heathen to Christ (Psa. 2:8) is in the Millennial age and not in this Gospel age; that when God undertakes the work of causing the knowledge of himself to fill the whole earth, it will be done; for his Word shall not return unto him void, it shall accomplish that which he pleases and prosper in the thing whereto he sent it. (Isa. 55:11.) He would see that this knowledge of God is to reach, not only the very ignorant heathen of foreign lands, but, as well, the very ignorant of civilized lands; for "all shall know God from the least to the greatest." He would learn that the Millennial age will not only be a time for gaining knowledge of God, but a time when the obedient will be blessed with restitution to all the privileges and qualities and powers of mind and body lost by disobedience by Adam for himself and all [R1710 : page 309] his posterity; – redeemed by the Second Adam's sacrifice for sin, once for all. He would thus see that the Millennial age will be the great purgatory time in which the world in general will be permitted, if they will, to wash at the fountain opened in the House of David for sin and uncleanness (Zech. 13:1); – by faith in the blood of Christ to be made every whit whole, and fit for the fellowship of angels and saints.
The bishop would learn, moreover, that nothing unclean or unholy can enter God's presence and be acceptable with him, and that, as the Church is now called to be saints and to practice holiness ("without which no man shall see the Lord"), so it must be with the heathen when, during the Millennium, they are called, taught and released from the blinding influences of Satan. Only the pure in heart shall ever see God or enjoy the bountiful provisions prepared for those who love him.
Then Bishop Foster would be prepared to learn something respecting God's purpose in the call of the Church, and what is the hope of her calling. (Eph. 1:18.) Soon he would see that as God selected one class of servants during previous ages, to be used in his great plan for the future blessing of the world, so during the Gospel age he has been selecting a household of sons to be joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, the Lord and Head and Redeemer, in the Millennial Kingdom and its work of binding Satan and opening the eyes of the world so long blinded by Satan. – Gen. 12:3; Heb. 11:40; Acts 15:14; Rev. 20:1-4.
Soon the Bishop would be not only studying this blessed gospel of the Bible, but circulating these truths amongst his friends, and in every way preaching the old gospel, the old theology – that "Christ Jesus by the grace of God tasted death for every man," that he "gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time;" and that eventually the "true Light" will lighten "every man that cometh into the world." – Heb. 2:9; 1 Tim. 2:4-6; John 1:9.
"From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? "Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life." – John 6:66-68. –
Why then, did his words express sadness at the loss of a number from his company? It was because he was true and noble and sympathetic, and loved his friends, and seeing the hour approaching when the Shepherd would be smitten and all the sheep be scattered (as it was afterward fulfilled when "all forsook him and fled"), the lonely sadness crept over him and found expression in the words, Will ye also go away? Love of sympathy, fellowship of friends, etc., are not weaknesses, but, on the contrary, are elements of a true character. But it would have shown weakness had our Lord allowed the turning back of his disciples to have influenced or swerved his course from the path of sacrifice marked out for him in the Father's plan. No such weakness ever manifested itself. On the contrary, but a few days after, when Peter who here spoke so nobly, attempted to dissuade our Lord from sacrifice, he promptly [R1710 : page 310] answered, Get thee behind me, adversary, thou savorest not the things of God, but of men. [R1711 : page 310]
The Apostle Peter's words, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life," are full of meaning. He had known what it meant to seek God's favor and everlasting life through keeping the Law, and, like most of the Jews of the humbler class, had been discouraged, finding himself condemned both by the doctrines of the Pharisees and by his own conscience. Doubtless, also, he knew something of the various heathen philosophies respecting a future life; and, if so, he knew them to be merely human speculations or guesses.
But for three years he had known Jesus and heard his words on this subject of eternal life. His teaching was not speculative guessing as to what might be. "He taught them with authority, and not as the scribes." Nor did he teach them to hope for eternal life through the keeping of the Law (which they knew to be an impossibility). His teaching, on the contrary, was different from that of every other teacher. He taught them that he had come into the world, not to be served or honored and titled, but to serve men and to finally give his life a ransom or purchase-price for the forfeited lives of all who lost the right to life in Adam's trial and disobedience. (Matt. 20:28.) His teaching was that as a result of this ransom-sacrifice, which, by divine love and arrangement, he was about to give for all, all shall have the opportunity of everlasting life through obedience under the gracious terms of the New Covenant; and that to this end not only they, but also, "All that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man, and come forth, and they that hear [obey] shall live" – attain perfect life. (John 5:25,28,29.) Peter had heard this simple and beautiful gospel – this, the only real good tidings of everlasting life; he recognized Jesus as the Messiah sent of God to be the Life-giver to the world, the true light that shall ultimately lighten every man that cometh into the world. – John 1:9.
What wonder, then, in view of this, that Peter answered as he did, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life." Peter's faith and hope had found in the doctrines of Christ a foundation and anchorage which they could not find elsewhere.
And the same is true of all intelligent believers to-day, in proportion as they have heard and understood the wonderful words of life, of which Christ's death is the central theme, the hub, whose spokes are the love and favor of God, including all his exceeding great and precious promises reaching to the circumference – everlasting life. Having once seen the truth, having once heard the good tidings – the words of everlasting life – for what would they exchange it?
Looking abroad, we still find the philosophies of Confucius, Buddha, Brahma and Zoroaster, but they satisfy us not. We hear the wisdom of this world speculating about an evolution which it surmises has already progressed from a protoplasm to a tadpole and from a tadpole to a monkey and from a monkey to a man and which it hopes, guesses and tries to assure itself will continue to progress to planes of being still higher than man. It assures us that whether there was or was not an intelligent God at the beginning, there will be millions of wise and powerful gods eventually, when they get evolved. But our hearts turn from such wild speculations back to the wonderful words of life spoken by him who spoke as never man spoke before or since. In those words is the rest and peace which the world can neither give nor take away.
Following the instructions of this same great Teacher, we are learning more and more about this eternal life which he has provided for all. As meat in due season he has taught us that this gift of eternal life is only for those that love him; – that a little flock of the ransomed world, called and proved worthy by their loving obedience during the Gospel age, are to be his joint-heirs in the glory, honor and immortality of the divine nature, and that he with these will in the next age, the Millennium, bless all the families of the earth with the knowledge of and opportunity to attain restitution to human perfection with everlasting life conditioned only upon faith and hearty obedience under the New Covenant, sealed with the blood of the ransom-sacrifice. This is the same gospel as of yore: these are the same words [R1711 : page 311] of everlasting life, only amplified and magnified as we get nearer to their grand consummation.
In the harvest of the Jewish age, it was after our Lord had spoken to his followers the "words of eternal life" that he permitted "offenses" to come to sift them as wheat, saying, "It must needs be that offenses come." Those trials came to prove which were ripe wheat and which chaff and undeveloped wheat. Two classes specially were sifted out – the merely curious and slightly interested class, and a consecrated class which had not much depth of character, represented in our Lord's parable (Matt. 13:5,6,20,21) as the stony ground hearers, which received the message with joy, but not having depth of heart-soil and earnest love and consecration to the truth, when tribulation or persecution arose they were at once offended, and turned back and walked no more with the Lord and the faithful.
The same is true now, in the present harvest of the Gospel age. Blessed have been our eyes, for they have seen many of the "deep things" in the divine plan of the ages; and blessed have been our ears, for they have heard with wonderful clearness the lessons of the great Teacher – the words of glory, honor and immortality – words of eternal life. And now in the Lord's order we are to be ready for trials and siftings. Now, again, offenses must needs come to prove all, and to turn back those who are not consecrated and those who have no depth of character, who are unwilling to bear the reproaches and afflictions of the Christ. So it was with Gideon's typical army. All who shall be owned of the Lord as joint-heirs with Christ must be a select class, a peculiarly zealous people; – and no wonder: Marvel not therefore at the fiery trials which shall try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you. In fact, that is the very purpose of the permission of offenses and divisions: "that they which are approved [by God, because they endure the tests and stand fast in the truth] may be made manifest among you." – 1 Cor. 11:18,19.
Those who will stand the test here will be just like those for whom Peter spoke in the previous harvest testing. Should any feeling of faintness or discouragement come over them, they will also ask, "Lord to whom shall we go?" Looking about them they see the delusions of Spiritism and various doctrines of devils, and the blindness and contradictions of reason as well as of Scripture among agnostics, and in the various denominations of Christendom. The glance is sufficient for the class which the Lord desires to select. They could not go away, they could not be forced to leave the army of the Lord. Truly, where should we go? Our Leader, and he alone, has the words of eternal life. Since we have heard his words, all other gospels have lost their charm. We will abide with and follow the great Captain of our salvation: in his words and in his love and in his service we live and move and have our being as the elect of God.
"How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent Word.
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
You who unto Jesus for refuge have fled."
"Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." – Matt. 7:1,2.
That our Lord referred to this abuse of judgment, and not to the legitimate use of that noble faculty, is very manifest from succeeding verses (3-5), which warn against the hypocrisy of condemning others for faults no greater than those which exist in one's self, but to which self-love is wilfully blind; and also from verses 15-20, which bid us beware of wolves in sheep's clothing, or, in other words, to use sound judgment in discriminating between the truly consecrated and faithful children of God, whose hearts are pure and free from guile, and [R1712 : page 312] those who studiously cover up a wolf-like character with the outward professions of godliness, in order to deceive and lead astray the unwary.
"By their fruits ye shall know them," said the Lord; and to use candid and unbiased judgment in comparing their fruits – of character, conduct or teaching – with their professions and with the Word of God, is necessary to the safety and protection of the Lord's people. This, therefore, is a very legitimate use of judgment; and those who, disregarding the Lord's warning, either recklessly or wilfully, fail so to exercise judgment, expose themselves to the deceitful snares of the great adversary. The wolf is not to be tolerated, nor his sheep's clothing respected: he has no rightful place in the assemblies of the true sheep until his character is changed by repentance and submission to the will of God. His presence can only bring reproach upon all associated with him, and sow the seeds of error and discord; and, learning the shibboleth of the saints, he will deceitfully make merchandise of their holy things and demand that Christian charity should let him alone in his nefarious work.
Alas! many simple ones, ignoring the Lord's counsel, weakly yield to this demand, to their great detriment spiritually. They give that which is holy unto the dogs and cast their pearls before the swine; and the wolf is often tolerated out of respect for his sheep's clothing. It is not real charity to such characters to permit them to pursue their course unmolested; nor is it true loyalty to the cause of Christ. To firmly and candidly let such persons know that we recognize their character and refuse to fellowship or company with them until a change of heart is manifested, and to positively and openly resist their influence, is the noblest and truest charity, both to them and to the cause of Christ in general, though such a course will assuredly bring persecution in some shape.
To deal thus candidly and fairly may in some cases wake up the erring to a sense of their wickedness, and, by making it unprofitable to them, may lessen the temptations to continue the evil course. At all events, it gives the sheep and lambs of the Lord's flock warning of the dangers to be expected from such sources. To encourage or assist such, is to become partakers of their evil deeds. (2 John 11.) Nor would Christian charity demand that the wicked or the profligate should be protected against the natural rewards of their evil course. To thus aid them is only to interfere with the divine arrangement by which sin brings its own retribution for the correction of the sinner. Thus, for instance, if when a profligate son spends his substance in riotous living, an unwise father makes up his loss and starts him anew, not allowing him to realize the evil effects of his course, the son misses the lesson and proceeds to greater lengths in an evil course. The love of God is not thus unwise: if it were, he would not permit the great time of trouble, now impending, to come upon the world. But he will permit it, and when the judgments of the Lord are thus abroad in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. (Isa. 26:9.) It is not our part, however, to bring evil upon the evil-doers; for vengeance belongs to God. Nor would it be contrary to the spirit of the Lord to show pity and to alleviate the dire wants of those in distress from their own folly. This would not interfere with the needed lesson, but, on the contrary, would tend to soften the heart and make it more susceptible to the lesson.
While the legitimate use of judgment for wise and holy ends is plainly taught in this sermon of our Lord, the first verse of this chapter expressly commands that we should not reckon ourselves as the competent judges of men's hearts, to uncharitably condemn them on our own responsibility. But when their course of conduct is in manifest opposition to and defiance of God's law, as in cases of disguised "wolves," "swine" and "dogs," the condemnation of that law, which is God's judgment, not ours merely, should always be recognized.
As a matter of fact, if we have the spirit of the Lord, our judgment will coincide with his – approving what he approves, and condemning what he condemns: we will judge righteous judgment, which makes every possible allowance for the infirmities of the flesh, the strength of temptation and the imperfections of knowledge, and which, ever bearing in mind that we also are far short of perfection, never forgets [R1712 : page 313] the golden rule – "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets." – Verse 12; Lev. 19:18; Matt. 22:40; Rom. 13:8,9,10; Gal. 5:14; 1 Tim. 1:5.
Verse 2 makes very imperative the application of this golden rule in such cases – "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." Oh, if men and women would always consider these things, how much uncharitable judgment and evil-speaking, and how many bitter words, would be spared! If each could recognize in the other the spirit of love and candor, how quickly wrongs could be righted! If reproofs were always expressed in the spirit of the golden rule, how much more effective they would be than when they are colored with the glare of hatred and revenge!
"How wise are God's commands!
How sure his precepts are!"
"If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water." – John 4:10.
No wonder that the woman of Samaria did not recognize him. And, not recognizing him, how could she realize her privilege of service to him as a gift of God. Had she known and been able to appreciate her privilege of giving a cup of cold water to the only begotten and well-beloved Son of God, how gladly would she have rendered the service requested! And not only so, but had she realized who it was that requested the favor, she would have seen her opportunity of applying to him for the water of life, the great salvation.
But the woman did not know the gift of God so close at hand. Thinking of the stranger merely as a Jew, and one of a class who refused to have any dealings with the Samaritans, the request for a drink of water seemed only to arouse a measure of the old animosity of her race against this one, whom she probably thought of as one willing to receive a favor in his extremity, but at other times regarding her and her people as too far beneath him to have any dealings with her.
The Lord recognized the foundation for this feeling of animosity, and did not resent it, but [R1712 : page 313] patiently led her first to suspect, and then to realize, that this was indeed the Christ; and she went forth joyfully to proclaim this truth, and to bring others to him. This woman was a sinful woman, and a type of thousands of others, men and women, who would act very differently if they only knew. If the Jews had only known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Cor. 2:8.) That which prevented them from knowing was the god of this world, who blinded their eyes and prejudiced their minds so that they could not believe. (2 Cor. 4:4.) Consequently they failed to perceive the gift of God in their privilege of service to Christ and of receiving from him the water of life.
The same is true also to-day of the world in regard to the body of Christ, the Church. They do not know that the Lord has his representatives in the world. Like their Lord, these are not invested with the glory of this world, but they are despised and rejected of men, and are not known as the future judges of the earth. But [R1712 : page 314] those who do know them should appreciate the privilege of service, since the Lord has said, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matt. 25:40.) Whatever, therefore, we do for the least of God's people we are doing for him. How this should make us appreciate our privileges of service one to another!
But if the world knows us not, and has not yet learned to appreciate the refreshing water of life we have to bear to them, it is no cause of surprise. If they failed to recognize the Master who was perfect, how could we expect them to recognize us, in whom are many imperfections still, although in God's sight through grace we are reckoned holy? If the god of this world has blinded the eyes of many, it is our privilege, as it was that of the Master, to help remove the blindness and let the glorious light of the gospel of peace shine in upon their minds. Let us offer the water of life to all as opportunities may present themselves. In so doing we also will be blest, as was the Master. – John 4:31-34.
"Agree with thine adversary quickly, while thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily, I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing." – Matt. 5:25,26.
"When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison. I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite." – Luke 12:58,59.
We reply that we cannot so understand them, because such a construction would be in contradiction of the Scripture teachings respecting the wages of sin. Since the penalty, or "wages of sin, is death," to pay that penalty to the uttermost farthing would mean everlasting death, – extinction. And if these Scriptures be so applied they would necessarily mean, Thou shalt never come forth!
But viewing these statements from the standpoint of their contexts, we regard them differently. In Matt. 5:17-20 the Law is held up as the great standard of authority, at that time the accuser of all; for it was the accuser of the Scribes and Pharisees, outwardly the most religious and devout Law-keepers. The attitude of every Jew should have been one of penitence. Realizing that they had all sinned and come far short of the requirements of the Law Covenant, they all should have been in a very contrite state of heart, ready and anxious to confess their shortcomings and to compromise the matter, if possible, whilst yet in the way with their accuser (adversary), the Law, and before final sentence would be pronounced.
Had the Jewish Church realized their condition, thus, they would have been glad, yea, anxious, to hear the message which Christ had for them. Confessing their inability to comply with all the terms of the Law Covenant, they would have been pleading for mercy, and would have been prepared to hear of God's provision for them in "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world."
Those who did thus plead for mercy did receive Christ as the sent of God – the way, the truth and the life, – the deliverer from the condemnation of their Law Covenant. These were delivered into the liberty wherewith Christ makes free, and became sons of God under the New Covenant which Christ sealed with his blood – his death.
But those who did not realize the situation, who discerned not the time of their visitation (Luke 19:44) as a nation, were blinded. Only the "remnant" of that nation, which made peace quickly, in the way to judgment, were delivered. (Rom. 9:27-29; 11:5,7-11.) And upon that nation, except the remnant, which [R1713 : page 315] made peace in the way, the full weight of their judgment fell – they were blinded and cast off from divine favor for a "double," for a period of disfavor equal in length to their previous period of favor, 1845 years. Thus they were forced to pay the "uttermost farthing;" for, as the Apostle Paul states the matter, – "wrath is come upon them to the uttermost." – 1 Thes. 2:16.
The context in Luke's account (12:54-57) strongly supports the foregoing. There our Lord's words reported are, "Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?" – Why do you not know that you are living in the day of visitation and testing, and that you as a people are even now en route to judgment. Why do you not confess that you are unable to keep the Law Covenant, and, instead of boasting in the Law, why do you not seek and obtain the mercy which is just at the door? It is because you are proud and hypocritical, and draw nigh to God with your lips while your hearts are far from him. It is because you are not Israelites indeed without guile or hypocrisy.
In this light the above texts may be briefly explained thus: – Addressing the Jewish nation, our Lord said, "Agree with thine adversary [the divine Law which condemned all to death (Rom. 7:10); i.e., admit the justice of its condemnation, because you have come short of its righteous requirements] quickly, while thou art in the way with him [while the offer of mercy is made to you as a nation, through faith in Christ who by his sacrifice offers an atonement for you], lest at any time the adversary [the Law, whose demands you fail to meet, though you claim to meet them] deliver thee to the judge [to the just judgment of God], and the judge deliver thee to the officer [to some power that would execute the penalty], and thou be cast into prison [into a position of disfavor, – such as that nation has experienced ever since their rejection of Messiah. As a nation they have been cut off, blinded, and imprisoned ever since they rejected Christ and said, 'His blood be upon us and upon our children']. Verily,... Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing [until the privileges of the Gospel age, the high calling, first offered to Israel, shall have ceased, having been bestowed upon the worthy Gentiles, and the worthy remnant of Israel who heeded this counsel. Then their blindness will be turned away; but they will have paid the uttermost farthing in the forfeiture of the chief blessing, which was offered to them first, but which they rejected]."
The parable shows the conduct of an earthly king. He was generous temporarily, and forgave the debtor, allowing him time and opportunity to keep his word and pay the debt in full. But when he heard how ungenerously that debtor had unmercifully abused and refused compassion and extension of time to a still poorer man, who owed him a much less amount, the king was indignant and withdrew his mercy, cancelled the extension, and put the debtor into the hands of exactors until his debt in full should be paid.
This king's conduct does not in all respects represent our Heavenly Father's course; but in some respects it illustrates it. Our Heavenly Father does not forgive us our sins, nor grant us an extension of time in which to pay the price of our transgressions. He, on the contrary, "heareth not sinners;" but, having committed all judgment unto the Son, the Heavenly Father refers all supplicants to him – the way, the truth and the life. The only access and reconciliation to the Heavenly Father will be by the Son, who bought us with his own precious blood, and in whom alone we may have forgiveness, the remission of sins. Those who come unto the Father by him are already acceptable to the Father, in the beloved – i.e., reckonedly – but they will not be fully and actually presented until the Son shall have cleansed and perfected them, that he may present them blameless and unreprovable in love before him. – See Col. 1:22; Phil. 2:15.
The parable does, however, express or illustrate the Heavenly Father's attitude on the point [R1713 : page 316] in question. He also would be indignant that one for whom he has in Christ provided complete forgiveness, and not merely an extension of time for payment, should be unmerciful to a fellow-servant; and he will do to such as did the king in the parable. He will exact the full debt from the unmerciful, showing him no mercy who showed no mercy toward others. – Matt. 7:1,2,12.
Nor should we expect otherwise; for he who is not merciful and sympathetic has not the love of God – has not the spirit of Christ. And "if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his." And only those in whom love instead of selfishness shall become the mastering sentiment have the promise of life everlasting on any plane of being. "Blessed are the merciful – they shall obtain mercy!"
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – As many readers of the WATCH TOWER, like myself, are warm admirers of that renowned champion of the Bible, Alexander Campbell, and are always interested in anything from his pen touching the mysteries of the Book, I beg leave to give below a scrap from his writings on the Prophecies, directly bearing upon the thoughts uppermost in our minds, and showing the drift of his investigations in that line. He says: –
The expectation of Christendom is notorious. It is this: that sometime soon, perhaps in the present century, a new order of things in the political and religious relations of society will commence; that it will pervade the whole human family; that after its full introduction, it will continue a thousand years; and that soon [R1714 : page 316] after its completion, the present state of things will terminate and the multiplication of human beings cease forever. Without going minutely into detail, such is the general expectation of Christendom built upon those writings called prophecies.
Well, now, should we prove by an arithmetical calculation the certainty of such conclusions relative to the final consummation – what will the skeptics say? The premises or data are these: the present population of the earth is estimated, say, at one thousand millions. Now I will leave it to them to furnish the data, or to state what the population was two, three or four thousand years ago. They may even furnish me data from the census of any nation of Europe for two, three, four or five hundred years back. It will give the same result. We shall take the Bible data until they furnish another. According to the Bible data the whole human family, about four thousand years ago, was composed of eight individuals, four males and four females; and to keep our calculations in whole numbers, we shall evacuate Europe and America of all their population and place them in Asia and Africa on the population there, which will fill that half as full of human beings as can subsist upon its surface. We have now got, say, the half of our globe empty and the other half full. Now, the question is, if eight persons in four thousand years fill the one half of the earth as full as it can subsist, how long will one thousand millions be in filling the other half? If in despite of wars, famines, pestilences and all waste of human life, under the corruptions of the last four thousand years, such has been the increase of human beings, what would be the ratio of increase were all these to cease, and peace and health and competence be the order of the day for one thousand years? Why there would not be one half acre of land and water upon the face of the globe for every human being which would live at the completion of the Millennium or the seven-thousandth year from the creation, what I contemplate from these oracles to be about the end of the present state of human existence. Either then some devastation must empty the earth of its inhabitants or the human race be extinguished. Logic and arithmetic compel us to the former conclusions; but when we add to logic and arithmetic the prophecies of holy Scripture, we are compelled to embrace the latter. I think no prophecy ever admitted of so certain a calculation or so exact and definite a computation; in fact no other oracle in the annals of the world is proved by arithmetic so inevitably and unanswerably as I conceive this to be."
Query: Did not Brother Campbell see Restitution at least dimly?
Some have been in doubt whether or not to respond to "Another Branch of the Work," in Sept. 1 TOWER, and "Introducing Tower Tract Society Representatives," in Sept. 15 TOWER; because, while willing and anxious to donate some of their time to special service, and believing that by the grace of God they possess (and are growing in) the eight qualifications for special ministry mentioned, they are so situated, with families dependent upon them, etc., that they could give but little time to the service and could rarely go away from home, – unless the Tract Society could pay their home, as well as their traveling expenses.
We fear that we have been misunderstood by a few. It is not our purpose to start or to encourage a paid ministry. The funds at our command would be but a drop in the bucket for such an enterprise; and even if it were otherwise, we should doubt the wisdom of such a plan. One or two special representatives might be advisable, and they should be persons of remarkable humility and very clear in the truth – otherwise they themselves might be injured as much as others would be benefitted by them; but we would not think it advisable to divert to this branch more than a small part of the limited Tract Fund receipts now being expended in tract work, in the preparation of translations of DAWN in foreign languages, etc.
Voluntary service from all, at the sacrifice of some earthly comforts, conveniences, etc., seems to be the Lord's order of development. Those who do not serve from the love of the Lord, his people and his truth should not serve at all, – their service will do harm. He who serves from love, and according to his opportunities for sacrifice, will have his opportunities enlarged and his talents increased. He who does not so serve will not serve long, but will be speedily gathered out – into outer darkness, error: for he will "gather out of his Kingdom all things that offend, and them that do iniquity."
We had specially in mind certain brethren whose business calls them from place to place, and who we had reason to believe possessed the eight qualifications specified; and several of these have responded, glad to spend their Sundays and many of their evenings in visiting and helping the Lord's "little ones." We have accepted all so offering who have responded satisfactorily; and we trust that this branch of the service will accomplish much good during next year; for it will require some time to prepare lists of TOWER subscribers in so many towns.
But do not forget that the Colporteur work offers an open door to one of the most effective branches of the Lord's service. Those unincumbered can give their entire time thus, and pay their way; while those who can give but a few hours a week can be used also. And for such as are unincumbered, but too diffident and bashful to succeed as regular Colporteurs, we now have a new plan of work to suggest. "Go ye also into the Vineyard!"
It is not our design to supplant the DAWN and tract work, as a means for reaching the Lord's sheep with the "meat in due season;" for we know of no better method, – none nearly so good. The new branch of service is designed to "strengthen the brethren," to help them over difficulties and to lead them more and more to apply the truth and its spirit in their daily lives.
The form of certificate mentioned in our last issue is an old one, and is not quite satisfactory to us. We have gotten up what we believe is a better one, instead, a copy of which will be given in our next issue.
IV. QUAR. LESSON 1., OCT. 7, LUKE 4:16-30.
In this lesson the special point of interest is our Lord's reference to his authority and commission from God, through the Prophet Isaiah, to preach the gospel of his coming Kingdom. This commission is contained in Isa. 61:1-3; but it will be observed that the Lord read only to the middle of verse 2, and then closed the book and sat down, saying, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." It was fulfilled in him, as the Prophet declared, he having received the anointing of the holy spirit. Therefore he had come to them with divine authority to declare unto them the good tidings of great joy unto all people.
The question naturally arises, Why did he not read the entire commission? The answer is obvious: it was because the remainder was not fulfilled in that day. It was time then to preach (1) the good tidings of the Kingdom to all who were meek enough to receive it by faith from the humble [R1714 : page 318] and unpretentious Nazarene; (2) to bind up the broken-hearted; to tell those in trouble that by and by the Kingdom would bring order, peace and joy out of present confusion and trouble; (3) to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound – What captives? Surely not those lawfully detained for criminality in prisons of the state. No, but for all the dead race still lying in the prison-house of death – the grave: The hour is coming when all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of man and shall come forth (John 5:28,29); and (4) it was time then to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord – the year or period of acceptable sacrifices: the "better sacrifices" than bulls and goats, the sacrifices of Christ and his body, the Church. (Heb. 9:23.) That was the beginning of the Gospel age – the time appointed as the great atonement day* for the world, the time of special favor to the called and faithful and chosen who should follow in the footsteps of their leader and head, Christ Jesus, and eventually become joint-heirs with him of the coming Kingdom.
This was all of the commission that was due in the beginning of the age. It was not yet time to proclaim – "the day of vengeance [R1715 : page 318] of our God," nor to comfort all that mourn – the whole "groaning creation" (Rom. 8:22), nor "to grant unto the mourners in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." Had he read the entire commission, he could not have added the words, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." This latter part of the commission was not due until the harvest or end of the age; and while the entire commission belongs to the whole body of the Anointed – the Christ, head and body, – the latter part must of necessity be declared by those members of the body living in the last times – the harvest or end of the age, from A.D. 1874 to A.D. 1915.
It is upon this generation that "the days of vengeance" are coming; and it is this generation therefore, that should hear the voice of warning. It is in the midst of the great afflictions of the now impending time of trouble "such as never was since there was a nation," that the "groaning creation" is to learn that it is the chastening hand of God upon them, who wounds to heal, and that by means of this great affliction he is subduing all things unto himself. And when the judgments of the Lord are abroad in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. (Isa. 26:9.) Thus in due time – the end of the harvest and time of trouble – "all that mourn" will be "comforted." Then the whole world will have learned to be still and to know that the Lord's reign of righteousness is begun – the Kingdom of God established in the earth. – Psa. 46:10.
The last proposition of this commission also belongs to this harvest period. During this time is the gathering together of the elect from the four winds – from all parts of the great nominal Zion, the nominal Christian church. These are they who mourned in nominal Zion, who realized the decline of vital piety in her, who sadly lamented the great discrepancies between her creeds and the divine Word of promise and prophecy, and who hungered and thirsted for righteousness and searched for truth as men search for silver. To all such the Lord now appoints beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for the spirit of heaviness. Within this harvest period he has given us refreshing views of the completeness and beauty of the divine plan: he has given to us the beauty and symmetry of divine truth for the ashes of human creeds, and the oil of joy in consequence, for the spirit of heaviness. And in the end of the harvest all such who prove faithful to the end shall be exalted and glorified: they shall be made heirs of the Kingdom, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. They shall be "trees of the Lord, the planting of the Lord that he might be glorified."
This commission through the Prophet Isaiah is the only divinely authorized commission that was ever given to any man to preach the gospel. And it belongs only to those, and to all those, upon whom the anointing of the holy spirit of God has come – to the Christ, head and body. They all can say, "The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach," etc. Our Lord Jesus received this anointing of the holy spirit immediately after his baptism in water, which symbolized his entire consecration to the will of God, even unto death, when the holy spirit visibly descended upon him and a voice from heaven was heard saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." And as [R1715 : page 319] in the typical anointing of the typical high priest in the service of the typical tabernacle, the anointing oil was poured upon the head only, but from thence ran down even to the skirts of his garments, thus bringing the whole body under the anointing (Lev. 8:12; Psa. 133:2), so all who have come into Christ by faith and full consecration to the will of God have likewise come under the same anointing. It was at Pentecost, after the Lord's ascension, that this spirit of anointing began to descend upon the consecrated body of Christ (Acts 2:1-18); and all who have been added to the body since have likewise received of the anointing, by right of which they can also claim the divine commission to preach the gospel in the use of whatever talents they may possess, be they few or many, or be they humble or brilliant; and for the proper use of their commission they are accountable to him who gave them authority as his ambassadors.
The inference is also plain that no man should be regarded by the saints as a minister of the gospel, or received or heard as such, who cannot claim this commission (which alone grants the divine authority), as conferred upon him by virtue of his anointing as a consecrated child of God and member of the body of Christ. All such are of the "royal priesthood," whose duty and privilege it is to serve in holy things.
Unto those who have not fully submitted themselves unto the Lord, but who would nevertheless pose as leaders and teachers in the Church, the Word of the Lord is very explicit, saying, "What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction and castest my words behind thee?" (Psa. 50:16,17.) "Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets [teachers] that prophecy unto you: they make you vain; they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord....I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied." (Jer. 23:16-21.) Alas! there are many such false teachers who are ambitious to declare the visions of their own heart, and claim that the Lord sent them and that they are teaching his truth. And many, too, there are who, ignoring the command of God, hearken to the words of such false prophets and are thereby deceived and led astray.
Our Lord's sermon from this gospel-laden text must have been one of great power, proclaiming the blessed tidings of redemption and restitution and giving some intimations of the special favor to be granted to the Gospel Church. While he thus spake to them as never man spake, and opened up the Scriptures to their understanding so that the blessed rays of hope and joy penetrated their hearts, the people "wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth." And they said, "Is not this Joseph's son?" It was just as some remarked on other occasions – "Whence hath this man this wisdom?" Ah, it was by reason of the anointing. Being thus brought into close fellowship with the Father, the divine plan was clearly revealed to him through the "sure Word of prophecy," and his lips gave expression to the glorious message of love and grace.
VERSES 23-27 are words of reproof to a heedless and merely curiosity-seeking people. While he spoke to them wonderful words of life, he saw that the hearts of the great majority at least were not prepared to receive them, as evidenced by the fact that instead of looking for the correspondency in the teacher to the prophetic forecast of him to which attention had been called, they were inquiring about his earthly pedigree, and desirous to see some manifestation of his power to work miracles.
This incredulity and idle curiosity the Lord severely rebuked by citing them two historic instances where God through the prophets manifested his saving power, not to the curious and unbelieving, but passing all such by, he showed his great favor and power to the meek and humble who loved and believed God. This was too much for the hot-headed, impetuous pride of the unworthy hearers of that noble sermon. Who was this son of Joseph, one of their humblest citizens, that he should thus brand them as unworthy of the favor of God? And in their wrath and haste they seized him and with violence bore him away toward the brow of the hill, intending to hurl him to death. – Verses 28,29.
VERSE 30 records his escape – "Passing through the midst of them, he went his way." His hour had not yet come, and therefore he seems to have exerted that power which belonged to him as a perfect man over the weaker, imperfect men – the power of his mind alone, we believe, which [R1715 : page 320] overwhelmed and cowed their fierce passions, so that none dared take the responsibility of casting him headlong; and he, therefore, passing through the midst of them, went his way. The same power was also exerted on other similar occasions. (See John 7:30,43-46.) But when his hour was come he opened not his mouth, nor resisted in any degree the throngs that sought his life.
The words of the Golden Text are most appropriate to all that hear the word of life – "this gospel of the Kingdom:" "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh...from heaven." The latter part of the divine commission – the harvest message – now due, and hence now declared, by those members of the body of Christ now living, is just as important to this end of the age as was the former part to the beginning and all through the age: therefore, let him that heareth see that he refuse it not, however humble and unpretentious may seem that member of the body through whom it may be declared to him.
IV. QUAR., LESSON II., OCT. 14, LUKE 5:1-11.
This miracle of our Lord, located thus early in his ministry, prior to the choosing of his apostles and also to the sending out of the seventy, was a prophecy of the future work of all such. They were to be fishers of men. And here also was a prophecy [R1716 : page 320] of their success as fishers of men. They were to catch multitudes. This same lesson was again repeated after our Lord's resurrection (See John 21:1-9), and the prophecy has been amply verified in the long fishing season of the Gospel age.
Using the same illustration, our Lord also spoke a parable (Matt. 13:47-50), saying, "The kingdom of heaven [the embryo kingdom of heaven, the Gospel Church] is like unto a net that was cast into the sea and gathered of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the age: the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."
The gospel net was first cast into the sea (the world, where no distinction was recognized between Jew and Gentile) at Pentecost; and from the day of Pentecost to the present harvest time it has been gathering in all sorts of fish; and together they constitute the great nominal Gospel church, or, as it is sometimes termed, the Christian world, and Christendom. But all of these fish are not of the kind desired of the Lord to constitute the true Christendom – Christ's Kingdom – which is to be set up in glory and power at the end of the Gospel age and dawn of the Millennium. Therefore, in the harvest or end of the age (a period of forty years – from 1874 to 1915, See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I., page 223,224), a separating work is to be accomplished, and those of the kind desired are to be carefully gathered out and preserved, while the remainder are cast away as unworthy of the Kingdom honors to which they were called.
Such a work has been in rapid progress since 1874. The sickle of truth has been the instrument in doing the separating work, and the angels or messengers sent forth to do the gathering are those of the Lord's people whom he has graciously brought to a knowledge of his glorious plan and its appointed times and seasons. This is the harvest message which was not previously due nor known; and it is accomplishing the great harvest work. Those who love the Lord and who partake of his benevolent and gracious spirit readily recognize the divine source from which the harvest message springs, and accept it. Such are the desired kind of fish, but they are few in comparison with the great number in the net.
The catching of the fish in the gospel net, and the sorting of them at the end of the age, are two parts of the one great work of making ready a people prepared for the Lord. This figure corresponds to that of the sower and the reaper; and when the great work is accomplished both the sower and the reaper shall rejoice together. The seed-sowing has been going on all through the age, but those who observe the divinely appointed times and seasons will devote their energies now to the special work of harvest, and not to seed sowing – to gathering the good fish into safety rather than to catching more.
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We have often wondered that Hebrews in general seem to take so little interest in the revival of their own nation in Palestine. But their "double" (M. DAWN, VOL. II., p.218) having ended, and the time for the re-establishment of Israel as a nation being near, it is appropriate that we see signs pointing in that direction, such as the following: –
"The Zion Association of Baltimore was organized on Sunday, September 9th, for the purpose of fostering the national idea among the Jews, and to co-operate with similar societies in Europe and the United States, with the object of colonizing Palestine with Hebrews, who are emigrating from Russia and other countries in Europe.
"The society will, in the near future, publish a declaration of its principles, giving the reason that led to the formation of this Society in Baltimore, and calling upon all Hebrews to unite and assist the great work which is carried on in the land of our fathers."
Rev. E. M. Milligan, of the U. P. Church, Steubenville, O., has caught the anarchistic spirit and adapted it to his ideas of the Sunday question. As reported in the Press dispatches of Oct. 3rd, he said, "If necessary God's people would exchange ballots for bullets to bring about Sabbath reform."
The same gentleman spoke in the evening of the same day upon the "Attitude of the Church toward Labor Problems." With such lawless ideas as we quote above controlling his mind and speech, his advice would almost surely be unsafe.
All of God's people should remember the Apostle's advice, "Let your moderation be known unto all men." The influence of God's people – especially of those whose eyes are opened to see how the present unrest and discontent are injuring the poor world – should speak and act and "so far as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men."
|VOL. XV.||OCTOBER 15, 1894.||NO. 20.|
WE do not find fault with the Bishop's sympathy for heathendom, nor with his rebellion against an injustice which would consign them to an eternity of woe, mental or physical. Nay, we rejoice that he can see that such procedure is so unjust that it cannot possibly be the truth: it cannot possibly be God's plan. We rejoice that the Bishop is so free from the errors of Calvinism that he cannot believe that the 1,200,000,000 of heathen now living, and the fifty times that number who have died without the knowledge of the only name given under heaven and among men whereby they can be saved, were predestinated by God to their present ignorance and to an eternity of woe hereafter.
We rejoice also that he has gotten free from the idea of his own Church, viz., that the power of God for the help of the heathen is confined to this present life and to the present missionary efforts of his children, and that the vast multitudes not so reached and blessed will suffer untold agonies to all eternity; – not because God predestinated that it should be so, but because God and his faithful people are doing all they can for the poor heathen, and can do no more.
All this indicates a breadth and freedom of thought and a sympathy of heart on the part of the Bishop which we greatly appreciate. But we fear for the Bishop and for his flock, because his freedom and sympathy are not begotten by the teachings of God's Word. His lengths and [R1717 : page 323] breadths, and heights and depths of good desire for the heathen are not those inspired by God's revelation of his plan. Consequently, the more the Bishop and his followers progress upon these lines, the farther they will get from the true plan of the ages – the lengths and breadths, the heights and depths of the love of God, which surpasses human understanding. – Rom. 11:33-36.
This tendency to depart from God's Word is markedly manifested in other parts of the same discourse, and cannot fail to lead many of the "blind" "into the ditch." – Matt. 15:14.
"Why did not Christ come immediately after the fall of man? Why was not Revelation made at once? Simply because it could not be.... In Eden language took form, but it was not sufficient for Revelation. Adam probably knew very little, and God treated him accordingly. He did not give him such a law as he gave to Israel at Sinai, but he treated him as you would an infant."
Here we see the effect of the Evolution theory, in which the Bishop is evidently a believer. Since that theory is the very opposite of the Bible theory, conflicts at every point are unavoidable. The Bishop looks at our civilization, then backward along the aisles of history, noting the ignorance of the past upon every subject. He, with all others who lose confidence in the Bible, jumps to the conclusion that Adam was an infant, with whom language began to take form. He, however, states the matter more agreeably and more Scripturally than to say that [R1717 : page 324] Adam was an ape of a high order of development, and that in him the ape chatter began to take form, or to become a language.
The Bishop is right in supposing that his words were more acceptable to his hearers than if he had put the matter bluntly, as Darwin and others have done. The Bishop's language, however, is the more dangerous; for it sugar-coats the doctrine and hides its true unscriptural character from some of God's children who would resent, as unscriptural, the idea that Adam was an ape and that his race has "fallen upward" for the past six thousand years.
The Scriptural position, briefly stated, is that God, instead of creating Adam down at or near the brute level, created him in his own image and likeness, and pronounced him, Very good! God does not, however, pronounce the natural man of to-day, Very good. On the contrary, he declares that all have sinned; all are out of the way; all are fallen; there is none righteous, no, not one; and that only under cover of the imputed righteousness of Christ can any be acceptable with God or have communion with him. But Adam had fellowship and communion with God and was called his "son" (Luke 3:38), up to the time of his transgression and sentence.
The Bishop says that Adam's knowledge of language was so crude that God could not then make a Revelation. The Scriptures tell us, to the contrary, that God did make revelations to Adam – "talked with him" (Gen. 1:28-30; 2:15-17,23; 3:8-20); – but God does not deign to communicate at all with the modern man, except he become a "believer" in Christ. The flood of Noah's day has left no traces of the early civilization, so far as is now known; but we may safely suppose that the man whom God called a very good man and declared to be in his own image – the man who could talk with God and with his wife, and who could not only name the animals, but control them, and that without brute force, was such a specimen of human nature as we do not see to-day. It does not follow that they had a written language in Adam's day, or that they printed books or had the law written upon tables of stone. Perhaps they had conditions which were preferable. Perhaps they had means of communicating thoughts without writing and printing. We believe they had. The necessity for written language may (we believe does) lie in the fact that Adam's race has fallen from the original, perfect state in which he was created.
Our present dependence upon language and books, etc., and the consequent development of these to meet our necessities, may be illustrated as follows: Suppose that a racial weakness of the ankles had set in as the result of the fall, so that none were able to walk without crutches. The crutches at first introduced would probably be very clumsy; but, as time progressed, the shapes and finish and ornamentation of articles so useful would surely progress also. Then men unguided by the Scriptures would probably philosophise thus: "See how crude, compared with ours, were the crutches in use a few centuries ago; – Adam probably lay around unable to walk at all, or merely crawled about, pulling himself by the roots and branches of trees and bushes. The Bishop, philosophising from the same standpoint of thought, might have changed the expression above and said, "Why did not Christ come immediately after the fall of man? Simply because it was in Eden that locomotion began, and that in a crude form of crawling. The helps or crutches of that time would not have been sufficient to enable him to go about to preach the gospel."
Language and books are merely the crutches which partially make good the defects of the human mental powers incident to the fall – lack of mental perception and lack of memory. Does anyone suppose that in heaven God and the angels are dependent solely upon spoken and written language, books, etc., that some of the angels are printers, and others binders? Neither should we suppose that the perfect man needed such helps or crutches, but that these developed to meet his wants, and that as those wants or imperfections of man disappear during the times of restitution – which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets – these will be unnecessary. (Acts 3:19-21.) Undoubtedly, however, language and books will continue among men even after the powers of [R1717 : page 325] mental discernment and expression have been restored to them during the Millennium.
In full harmony with this is the promise of the Lord – "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord: I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them." (Heb. 8:10; 10:16.) Here the law written upon tables of stone, and given at Sinai, under the typical Covenant, is contrasted with the better arrangement of the New Covenant, which will ignore a written language entirely and write upon the hearts. The context shows that when the law has been thus written upon the hearts of all antitypical Israelites, who make this New Covenant with the Lord through Christ, there will no longer be any teaching, for none will be ignorant of the Lord. – Jer. 31:33,34.
And this condition, which is to be ushered in by the Millennial age or "times of restitution," will correspond exactly to the conditions previous to the fall. The law to Adam was not in book form, nor upon tables of stone, but infinitely better: it was written in his heart and brain – in his very nature. He knew right from wrong by the operation of his perfect brain. Being "very good," a likeness of his Creator, he needed no reminders as to God's will. And the law given at Sinai twenty-five centuries later, instead of being a higher expression of the divine will, was a very much inferior expression, when compared with the perfect mind-and-heart-written law bestowed upon Adam.
The Apostle Paul corroborates all this, and tells us that all men have some traces of this original and superior law. Referring to some of the most degraded members of the race, he says, these "show the work [evidences] of the law written in their hearts." (Rom. 2:15.) And in the preceding chapter the Apostle shows how it comes that some of the heathen are so very much more degraded than others, – how the original nature-written law came to be so much more nearly effaced from the hearts and brains of some of earth's families or races than from others. "Because that, when they knew God [in the remote past], they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools;...wherefore, God gave them up to uncleanness....And even as they did not like [prefer] to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind." – Rom. 1:21,22,24,25,28.
The Apostle's explanation of present degradation is a fall down from a height; a failure to retain God in their knowledge – an effacing of the law from their hearts and minds. The Bishop, on the contrary, teaches that the race begun in the infant Adam, one degree above an ape, had not, previous to the coming of Christ, progressed sufficiently to be able to receive a revelation from God, – human language until then being too imperfect. Which is right? the inspired Apostle or the Bishop? Evidently the worldly-wise theory of the latter respecting Evolution is hindering his study of and faith in the Scriptures. But we must accept the consistent theory of the Scriptures, though it separate us entirely from the philosophies of the worldly-wise.
In speaking of the cause of Adam's ejection from Eden, the Bishop says "fall;" but what does he mean? Evidently, from the general tenor of his discourse, he means that Adam and his race have been "falling upward" for six thousand years. The "infant" Adam, one degree superior to an ape, fell up to the present civilized manhood; – as the result of disobedience to God's commands! Surely any who believe this gospel would be justified in saying, Let us do evil that good may follow!
But those who prove the Bishop's words by Scripture, and who seek "to the law and the testimony," will turn from such inconsistency [R1718 : page 325] of human reasoning. Such would ask the Bishop, Where then would be the room for, or necessity, or value of, the ransom for all, given by our Redeemer? From what could he redeem men, if Adam's course were so beneficial? And why should the promise of restitution (restoring to Adam's condition) be held out by God at the mouth of all the holy prophets? (Acts 3:21.) Surely, restitution of even semi-civilized peoples to a babe condition, one degree above the ape, would be a curse, a retrogression, an injury, a most undesirable thing! [R1718 : page 326]
The vast majority of Christian professors would agree with the Bishop, and could scarcely tell why they sometimes have associated death with sin; when they knew all the time that they recognized no relationship. We suggest a reason for this. It is because they sometimes read the Bible, and they find it thus stated therein. But as they get to believe that the race is falling up, and that the Bible was written by well-meaning men far down below present development – by men who never saw an electric car or a bicycle or a telephone – they will get to have less and less care for what the Bible says upon this or any subject. But let us examine the Bible and note how positively it contradicts the Bishop – or, as the Bible existed first, we should say, how positively the Bishop's expression contradicts the Bible. It says: –
"The soul that sinneth, it shall die." – Ezek. 18:4.
"The wages of sin is death." – Rom. 6:23.
"By one man's disobedience sin entered into the world, and death by [or as a result of] sin." – Rom. 5:12.
"By one man's offense death reigned." – Rom. 5:17.
"By the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation [to the wages of sin, death]." – Rom. 5:18.
"Sin hath reigned unto death." – Rom. 5:21.
"Since by man [Adam] came death." – 1 Cor. 15:21.
"In Adam all die." – 1 Cor. 15:22.
"The sting of [or which produces] death is sin." – 1 Cor. 15:56.
"Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." – Jas. 1:15.
In harmony with these words of the apostles and prophets was the declaration of God to Adam when he placed him upon trial, in Eden, "In the day [2 Pet. 3:8] that thou eatest thereof, dying, thou shalt die;" and as expressed by Eve, – "God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die." It was Satan that declared, "Ye shall not surely die," as the result of transgressing God's command. How strange that the Bishop and so many others place themselves on the side of Satan and join in his contradiction of God's declaration, and with him join in deceiving mankind respecting "the wages of sin." – Gen. 2:17; 3:3,4.
The Bishop's confusion respecting the heathen millions is largely because he fails to see clearly the Bible doctrine of the fall of Adam into condemnation of death, and that the terrible ravages of death (with its attendant features, sickness and pain) which for six thousand years have rested so heavily upon the race are God's "curse" – the "wages" or penalty for sin. Failing to see that hades, the grave, is the penalty for sin, and an awfully severe, though just, penalty, the Bishop and millions of others have for years looked for and imagined a place where devils will riot in pleasure to all eternity, enjoying the torments they will, by God's will and providence, or by his inability to prevent, inflict upon billions of the human race. Having misconceived the meaning of the words sheol and hades, rendered "hell" in our common version Bible (Can we really excuse an educated man on the score of ignorance as to the meaning and Scriptural use of these words?), and having outgrown the unscriptural eternal torment theories, the Bishop is wandering about looking amongst the most fallen-up men for some modern theory that will prove that death, and pain and sickness are blessings, and that the heathen as well as the saints enter by this gateway into a heaven where the few developed Christians will be perfectly happy, surrounded by myriads of characterless heathen, idiots, etc.
If the Bishop would find the path of life which God has provided, for there is no other, let him retrace his steps; let him acknowledge that God created man upright, but that he sought out various contrary devices and defiled himself. (Eccl. 7:29.) Then let him admit the fall of man downward – mentally, morally and physically. Then he will find a place for the ransom for all – Christ's death – to redeem man from [R1718 : page 327] the sentence of death. Then he will find a place for the restitution to their "former estate" of human perfection of all who will receive Christ and obey him. (Acts 3:19-21; Ezek. 16:48-63.) Then he will find a use for the Bible doctrine of a resurrection of the dead, which would be an absurdity if there be none dead. Then the Lord's promise that "All that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and come forth," will have a meaning (John 5:25-29); and soon he will see that the hope for the heathen of foreign lands, living and dead, and the only hope for the vast majority of civilized lands, will be the great Kingdom of Christ during the Millennium, for which we were taught to pray, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven;" – a prayer not yet answered. And in connection he will find that the Church is the "little flock" to which it is the Heavenly Father's good pleasure to give this Kingdom – in association with Christ her Head and Bridegroom; – that the Kingdom cannot come until the Church has been completed, – and that not until then can "all the families of the earth be blest" with the promised Millennial blessings and opportunities. – Luke 12:32; Rev. 20:4; Gen. 28:14.
Here the Bishop is driven by the other errors he holds to this almost blasphemous statement that God not only places temptations before men, but that he actually impels or forces them to do sin; for this is the significance of the word "impulse." Webster defines it, "impelling, or driving onward." To say that God impels or impulses or drives mankind to choose "that which we should not have," and then "hedges us about" with contrary commands so as to entrap us in sin, would be to give him the character which properly applies to Satan.
If at the time of his trial Adam was ignorant of right and wrong, or if God impelled him to do the sin, surely that was not a fair trial. And to so teach is to declare God unjust, not only as to the trial, but still more so in respect to the punishment inflicted because of that failure – death, including all sickness, pain and trouble. This view would make God the great and really the only sinner, his penalty a sham, and the Bible doctrine of man's redemption with the precious blood of Christ a farce; for if man did not do the sinning, he was not guilty and needed no redemption, and God, who impulsed or impelled an imperfect creature to sin, was alone blameworthy, properly deserving of punishment.
But how inconsistent all this is when compared with the simple account – the only inspired account. The Bible shows Adam "upright," "very good" in God's sight, an "image of God" in flesh. It shows his fair trial, his just sentence, God's sympathetic love for his creature, even in his fallen condition, and his abundant provision for him in the gift of his Son for his redemption and restitution. The Bible theory is consistent with reason: other theories are not so.
How clearly the Scriptures contradict the Bishop, saying, "Let no man say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil; neither tempteth he any man." – Jas. 1:13.
But the Bishop's argument appears in a still worse light when its different parts are united. For instance, take the suggestion that Adam was an inexperienced "infant," with whom language only began to take form and was "insufficient for revelation;" add to this the statement that God impulsed or impelled him to take the forbidden fruit and thus to break his laws; add, thirdly, the proposition that God falsified to the "babe" Adam, and told him that he would die for his disobedience, while he really meant no such thing (for the Bishop says, sin did not cause death: "Death is the normal [regular, proper] method of the universe"), but intended thus to develop humanity and bring it up to perfection.
Can any one imagine a more nauseating theological compound than this? Verily, as the Lord foretold through the prophet, "The wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be [R1718 : page 328] hid." – Isa. 29:14. Read also verses 9-13, applicable at the present time.
Such teaching, from such a high dignitary, in so popular a church as the Methodist, is sure to have much bad fruit, and that quickly, in the ranks of the ministers, as well as amongst the "laity." Indeed, we were not surprised to learn that within two weeks after this discourse by the Bishop, an M.E. pastor in our city [R1719 : page 328] preached about Adam being a big, ignorant baby, and that his temptation and fall were necessary in order to develop him.
How needful that God's people see the truth, to keep them from following such blind guides and stumbling into the pit of unbelief and agnosticism! Those whose eyes have been anointed by the eye-salve of truth, and who now see the real beauty and harmony of God's Word, should not be satisfied to rest in the truth and to render thanks therefor. They should "preach the Word," the gospel of salvation by the cross and not by a fall upward (evolution), nor as a reward for ignorance. Those who do not get the truth speedily, will get the error; for Satan's time is short and his deceptive theories are many, while the truth is one.
A sure way to test all theories is to square them by the doctrine of the ransom. Every theory which asserts that Adam did not fall from perfection of life into death, or which says or implies that his fall and that of his race has been upward, denies the ransom, whether its advocates so admit or not; for, if nothing was lost, nothing could be redeemed or bought back. If it denies that man's life was forfeited by sin, it cannot claim the sacrifice of Christ's life as "a ransom [a corresponding PRICE] for all." If death be the normal or proper condition, and not the wages of sin, then Christ's death could not pay our penalty; and, indeed, from the evolution standpoint, there is no penalty for disobedience, but, on the contrary, a reward – of civilization and development. There is no necessity, no place, for a ransom in any such theory. All modern theories thus deny the ransom.
The most insidious and dangerous "enemies of the cross of Christ" are those who, professing to be his servants and to preach his gospel, attack it on the inside, by denying that God's work was perfect when he created man (Deut. 32:4); that man fell from that perfection and divine likeness; that the right to recover him out of sin and death, to "that which was lost," was purchased of Justice by "the precious blood [shed, – death] of Christ." By whatever ways any may attempt to climb into the sheep-fold, they are wrong ways, and their advocates are pronounced to be "thieves and robbers." (John 10:9-11,15.) The keystone to the divine plan is that "the man Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom [a corresponding price] for all, to be testified in due time." (1 Tim. 2:6.) Whatever theory does not square with this, absolutely and in every particular, is thus proven to be a false one. – 2 Cor. 11:13-15.
We will supply our readers with plenty of these criticisms of the Bishop's views, and trust they may do good in the way of opening the eyes of some of the Lord's sheep to see where their trusted, but blind, shepherds are leading them. But do not stop with this: sell or loan or give them speedily other reading matter – especially "The Plan of the Ages." (See second page.) We will loan a copy, post free, to any who will promise a careful, prayerful reading, and to return the book post-paid or twenty-five cents instead.
"This is the victory [the conquering power] that overcometh the world, even our faith."– 1 John 5:4. –
What a reward is this which is held out as an incentive and inspiration to urge us on to noble and heroic effort! – to reign with Christ, to be his bride and joint-heir, his beloved and confidential companion through all eternity, and to be partakers of his divine nature and glory. These promises are freighted with an "exceeding and eternal weight of glory," which "eye [R1719 : page 329] hath not seen, nor ear heard; neither hath it entered into the heart of man; but God hath revealed it unto us [brought it within the range of our appreciation] by his spirit." The words sound hollow and meaningless to those who have no appreciation of spiritual things, but to the consecrated children of God who are faithfully striving to meet the conditions upon which the fulfilment depends, and who have therefore a good hope, they are exceeding precious, and fill their hearts with a joy unspeakable and full of glory.
But between the present time and the realization of the promises there lies the necessity of overcoming. The word is strongly suggestive of a great conflict, and calls to mind also the Apostle Paul's expressions – "Fight the good fight of faith;" "Endure hardness as a good soldier of Christ;" "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong." To overcome requires energy, force of character, perseverance and steadfast, patient endurance to the very end of the present life.
In the above text the Apostle John points to the only power which can sufficiently energize our whole being and nerve to patient endurance of tribulation, even to the end. That conquering power is faith. "Now," says the Apostle Paul, "faith is a basis of things hoped for, a conviction of things unseen." Faith is not merely belief or knowledge, but is knowledge applied, assimilated, appropriated – made a part of our habit of thought, a basis for our actions and a spur to all our energies. Such a faith is the overcoming power which all must have who would run successfully the race for the prize of our high calling, and be overcomers.
What is it that is to be overcome? John briefly comprehends it all in the expression, "the world." Then the whole world is against us in this battle. Yes, its spirit, its popular methods, its ambitions, ideas, hopes and aims are all at variance with the elect Church of God, who are not of this world, even as Christ is not of this world. The world is taking its own course, ignoring God, leaning to its own understanding and pursuing its own way. Consequently, our course is in direct opposition to that of the world, and we must pull hard against the current of the world's spirit which is deeply inwrought in our old nature, as well as surrounding us on every side. Yes, it is a hard pull; and we need all the inspiration and energy that faith can impart to accomplish it.
It is important, too, to see that our faith is a correct faith; for if the faith be an erroneous one, inspiring false and delusive hopes built upon sandy foundations, the stronger this impelling power becomes, the more surely and quickly will it drive its deluded victim to shipwreck upon the rocks. Faith, like steam in an engine, is a power either for good or for evil. Hence the importance of a correct faith.
It was because of this importance of faith, and of recognition of it as the motive power, either for good or for evil, that the Apostle Paul was so solicitous for the continuance of his converts in the faith. (See 1 Thes. 3:2,5,6,7,10.) He urged all to examine and prove themselves, whether they were in the faith, grounded and settled, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel, but rooted and built up in Christ and established in the faith; and to beware lest any man spoil them through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Col. 1:23; 2:7,8.) He was deeply solicitous, too, that the faith of the Church should not stand in the wisdom (the vain philosophies) of men, but in the power of God. And, therefore, in his preaching, he did not launch out into foolish speculations or follow his own or any other men's reasonings, and so pander to the popular craving for something new; but he confined himself to the expounding of the sacred Scriptures and to exhortations, inspired, as they were, by the revelations made to himself – a prophet, as well as an apostle. – 1 Cor. 2:4,13; 2 Cor. 12:1-7; Gal. 1:11,12; 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:15,16.
Let us see, then, that we have the faith of Christ – the faith well founded in the Word of God, a faith examined and proved, deeply rooted [R1720 : page 329] in the heart as well as in the head, and therefore established as the motive power of life. Such a faith is not nervously looking about for something new, and always probing the vain philosophies of men to see how skilfully they [R1720 : page 330] can withstand the Word of the Lord; for those who do so show plainly that their faith is not of sufficient influence to be the moving power in them, impelling them onward to full and complete victory over the world.
Faith, to be a conquering power in us, must go deeper than the head: it must go into the heart, and thus permeate and energize the whole being, bringing not only the outward conduct but every thought into subjection to Christ. Then indeed will faith impel to action, to works which clearly manifest it; for "faith without works is dead." A mere intellectual assent to the truth of God, which does not lead to activity in his service, is not faith, and can never overcome the world nor secure the prize of our high calling. But this is the conquering power that overcometh the world, even our faith. Let us examine ourselves and see that we have it pure and simple, and deeply inwrought in the fiber of our character, and that as an energizing principle it is moving us to faithful and persevering activity. Let it be the governor and inspiration of our lives – a living faith which purges and purifies and strengthens to diligence and patience to the end of the narrow way to life.
In our last issue we stated that a different wording for the proposed Introductory Letter for traveling teaching brethren had been decided on; and this we give below. It may be well, however, to guard against any misunderstanding by explaining: –
I. These letters are not authorizations to preach. That cannot be given by man. All true disciples, trusting in the precious blood, and fully consecrated to the Lord's service, are authorized by God's Word to preach the gospel in any and every way they can do so; and according to their talents and opportunities such should be glad to do all the preaching they can do, publicly or privately, by word or pen or printed page. (See Matt. 28:19.) The Apostle Paul, while assuring us that his authorization or ordination as a minister was not of man nor by man, but of and from God only (Gal. 1:1), nevertheless went forth to his ministry with Barnabas under the auspices of the Church at Antioch – as the Lord's representative and as the representative of the Church at Antioch. (Acts 13:3; 14:26,27.) He evidently took just such a letter; for it was the usual custom to give and carry such letters. (Phil. 2:28-30; Rom. 16:1-15,17; 1 Cor. 16:3; Acts 18:27.) This is intimated in his epistle to the Corinthians – "Need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you," etc.? (2 Cor. 3:1.) He did not need such a letter to the Church at Corinth, because, as he there explains, he himself had founded and established that Church and few could know him better than they, or them better than he. But when first he visited the Church at Jerusalem, he did need letters, or more, a personal introduction. (See Acts 9:26,27.) It is this Apostolic custom and safeguarding of the flock that we seek to copy now, for the benefit of all concerned. Individual letters would serve where the individuals are known, or Church letters would serve where the Churches are known; but in this case the Tract Society is known to you all, and we are confident that its introduction will be appreciated by the scattered ones everywhere.
II. ZION'S WATCH TOWER TRACT SOCIETY is not a "religious society" in the ordinary meaning of this term; for it has no creed or Confession of Faith. It is purely a business association, whose mission is to serve in a business manner the wishes of its beneficiaries, who are represented in its officers. How faithfully it has served these purposes thus far, its enemies no less than its friends bear witness.
The design of the organization of the Tract Society is to keep the affairs and moneys, represented by it, quite separate from the individual affairs of its managers. This present convenience, however, is still less than may be enjoyed in the future; for it is hoped that the death of any or all of those now managing the Fund would not destroy the Society nor totally hinder or involve its work, as the representative and servant of the household of faith, in economically providing tracts, etc., etc., for their use, [R1720 : page 331] benefit and assistance in missionary work, since in its Charter provision is made for such contingency.
III. The issuance of these Letters of Introduction means no more than if you or any other individual gave such a letter – except that it represents the judgment of experienced brethren, well informed respecting the character, ability, etc., of those introduced. – See Acts 16:2.
IV. It will be noticed that the eight qualifications named in this Letter of Introduction are not doctrinal, except as to the ransom – the foundation: and we hold that without it none are Christians at all. The other qualifications are those respecting character, and we believe them to be reasonable; and any one who could not confess them to be true of himself by the grace of God, we could not feel free to introduce as a proper person to be a teacher or a qualified servant, in the Church of the living God.
It is not to be understood that those making these professions of qualification claim to be perfected in all those Christian graces and qualifications, but that they believe that they have them to such a degree as they concede a representative of Christ should possess them, in order to be a servant of the Church in holy things. All possessed of the right spirit, however, will desire and strive to continually grow in grace and knowledge and love and in every good work, and expect to be perfected only when they awake in the resurrection, in the likeness of their Lord. – 1 Cor. 15:42,43.
This Introductory Letter expires December 31, 1895, and should be returned at that date, with application for renewal, if a new one is desired. The holder agrees to return this letter to the Society upon demand of the Society through its Board of Directors, at any time.
He is a brother beloved in the Lord, well reported of by brethren who know him, and one whom we recognize as a child of God and follower of Christ (with all that this implies respecting good moral character); and we believe him to possess the following qualifications for SPECIAL SERVICE to the household of faith:
VII. A student of the Word, of cultivated thought, well founded and settled – not a wondering novice; not a teacher of speculations and fancies, nor of Anglo-Israelism, Socialism, Politics, Astronomical theories, or other questions not of spiritual profit, but to the subverting of the hearers (2 Tim. 2:15-17; 1 Tim. 4:7; 6:20,21); but –
VIII. He comes to you seeking to establish the faith and character of the Church, presenting the One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism – the one gospel, authorized by and based upon the one sacrifice, given once for all.
He has affirmed to us, in writing, that, by the grace of God, he already possesses these qualifications, and that he is striving daily to perfect them in his actions, words and thoughts; and, in showing this Letter to others, he thereby makes the same confession to them.
He comes to you under the GENERAL ORDINATION AND COMMISSION of our Lord's Word, applicable to all fully consecrated believers in the precious blood (Matt. 28:19,20; Isa. 61:1-3); but is particularly commended by us to you, because of the above eight special qualifications, – for your upbuilding in knowledge and practice of the truth, to help you over difficulties, and to help you to stand, in this evil day, against all the wiles of Satan and his multiplied, deceptive errors. We hope also that he will be able to water and bring forward to perfection some of the good [R1721 : page 331] seeds of truth which you have been patiently sowing amongst your neighbors for years, by word of mouth, and by the printed page; – answering their remaining questions, and convincing and confirming such in the knowledge of [R1721 : page 332] the truth; and to aid all in the great life-work of "perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord."
He has full authority from the Lord (as above cited) to administer symbolic baptism, according to all and singular the commands and teachings of the Holy Scriptures; and to take a leading part in gatherings of the "household of faith," either for commemorating our Lord's death, or for worship, or for Bible study; but he has no more authority, under the above commission, than has any other consecrated believer, except such authority as special qualifications for this service would give. His coming to you with this our letter of introduction and commendation will, we doubt not, secure to him the leadership of any meetings held during his stay, – even though the local leader should hold a similar letter of commendation. Receive him in the spirit of love and Christian fellowship, and aid him by your prayers and cooperation (Col. 1:7; 4:7-9; Phil. 4:3); nevertheless, PROVE (1 John 4:1-3) critically, by the Word of the Lord, his every presentation. Hold fast that proven to be good. – 1 Thes. 5:21.
"Let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."– Jas. 1:4. –
The Apostle James does not overstate the matter when he intimates that the perfect work of patience will make its subjects perfect and entire, wanting nothing; for the Apostle Paul assures us that God, who has begun the good work of developing character in us, will continue to perform it until the crowning day – the day of Jesus Christ. (Phil. 1:6.) All his children will be subjected to just such discipline as they need for the correction of faults, the implanting and development of virtues, and for their training and establishment in righteousness, so that they cannot be moved. "If ye be without chastisement [discipline and correction], whereof all [true sons of God] are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye [patiently] endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?" – Heb. 12:8,6,7.
This great work of developing and training character is necessarily a slow and tedious one, and not infrequently it is a painful process; and the patience that cheerfully submits to it is begotten of a high appreciation of the ends to be attained by it. It is begotten of a love of righteousness, truth and godliness, and is therefore most noble and praiseworthy.
But how can we let patience have her perfect work? Just by meekly doing the best we can each day, and doing it cheerfully and well; making the best of every thing and going forward daily with true Christian fortitude to act the noble part in every emergency of affliction, pain or loss. To-day's trial may be a light one, perhaps almost imperceptible; or to-day may be one of the sunny days in which God bids our hearts rejoice in his overflowing bounty. To-morrow may bring its cares and its petty vexations that irritate and annoy. Another [R1721 : page 333] to-morrow may witness the clouds gather above our heads, and as the days follow each other the clouds may grow darker and darker until we are forcibly reminded of that strong figure of the Psalmist – "I walk through the valley of the shadow of death." Yet never will the valley grow so dark that the patient, trusting one cannot triumphantly exclaim, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou [my Lord] art with me: thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me." Yes, there is comfort in the "rod" (of chastisement), as well as in the "staff" (of providential care); for both are designed for our ultimate profiting.
The Apostle Paul tells us plainly that tribulation is necessary for the development of patience – "Tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope." (Rom. 5:3,4.) Consider how your own experience has verified this, you who have been for some time under the Lord's special care and leading. How much richer you are for all the lessons of experience, and for the patience that experience has developed in you! Although, like the Apostle, you can say that "no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward, it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." (Heb. 12:11.) In the exercise of patience the lessons of experience have made you stronger. They have increased your faith and drawn you into closer communion and fellowship with the Lord. They have made you feel better acquainted with and to realize more and more his personal interest in you and his care and love for you. And this in turn has awakened a deeper sense of gratitude and an increasing zeal to manifest that gratitude to him. This also deepens the sense of fellowship with God, and gives confidence to the hope of final and full acceptance with him as a son and heir, worthy through Christ.
The Apostle James urges that we take the prophets who have spoken in the name of the Lord for an example of suffering affliction and of patience. Then he cites the example of Job and the manifest end or purpose of the Lord in permitting him to be so sorely tried: how the Lord was really very pitiful and of tender mercy, although the pity and mercy were not manifest except to the confiding faith that said, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him" – until the long and painful discipline had yielded the peaceable fruits and the subsequent rewards of righteousness.
There is little virtue in the patience that endures merely from motives of worldly policy, though even that often has much advantage in it. Men in business dealings with fellow-men well know that an impetuous, turbulent disposition is greatly to their disadvantage, while patient consideration, temperance in judgment, and good self-control are of immense value, even from a worldly, business standpoint. But the patience that is begotten of deep-rooted Christian principle is the kind that will endure all trials and shine the brighter for every affliction through which it may pass.
Job, the servant of God, was accused of selfish policy-motives for his remarkable patience and faithfulness; and it was boldly affirmed that if he were tried by adversity his mean motives would be manifest – that he would curse God to his face. But God knew better; and it was in Job's defence that he permitted him to be tried to the utmost that the loyalty of his heart might be manifest. Some of his poor comforters viewed Job's afflictions only in the light of chastisements, failing utterly to comprehend the divine purpose, and this only added stings to his afflictions; but through them all the Lord brought his servant and most fully vindicated him in the eyes of all the people.
Thus will he ever do with all who patiently maintain their integrity and trust in God under affliction. If any man recognize affliction as a chastisement of the Lord for the correction of some evil way in him, let him be quick to learn the lesson and repent; or if it be refining discipline, let patience under the tedious process have its perfect work.
The Apostle Paul (Heb. 11) calls up a long list of patient, faithful ones who endured cruel [R1721 : page 334] mockings and scourgings, bonds and imprisonment, who were stoned, sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword, who wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented; of whom the world was not worthy; who wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. All this they endured patiently for righteousness' sake, looking by faith to God for the reward of their patience and faithfulness in his own good time. Then again, says the Apostle (Heb. 12:3), "Consider him [Christ] that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." Yea, consider him, "who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously." He left us an example that we should follow his steps.
While we see the great necessity for pruning, cultivating and discipline in the development of character, it is manifest that none will be able to endure it unto the desirable end of final establishment in righteousness who do not from the beginning diligently devote themselves to the exercise of patience. "He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." "In your patience possess ye your souls."
IV. QUAR. LESSON III., OCT. 21, MARK 1:21-34.
The opportunities of the synagogue and the Sabbath day were eagerly embraced by our Lord, affording, as they did, very favorable circumstances for the presentation of the truth. The habit of calling upon suitable persons in the congregation for the reading and expounding of the law and the prophets opened wide this door of usefulness.
Our Lord's dealing with the unclean spirits (verses 23-26,34) shows three things – (1) the actual personal existence of invisible evil spirits. This one manifested his power to act, think, speak, and to hear and obey; and the Lord recognized and addressed him as a person, and commanded his obedience. (2) The power, and limit of power, in such beings. They can do nothing except as God permits them; nor can they invade the mind or heart of any man, save as he submits his will to their power. (3) The circumstances manifested the fact that the Lord's authority and power are known and recognized by the evil spirits. A very similar expression to that of verse 24 is found in Matt. 8:29 – "Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?" – showing that they know of an appointed time for the judgment of angels as well as of men. "Know ye not that ye shall judge angels?" said the Apostle, addressing the Church; and the fallen angels seem to have found it out.*
The Lord's wonderful power and sympathy, manifested in the healing of multitudes of the sick and afflicted, in casting out devils and in preaching the blessed gospel of the coming Kingdom, were but a faint illustration of his mighty power to be exerted at the time appointed, and now at hand, for the blessing of all the families of the earth.
IV. QUAR., LESSON IV., OCT. 28, MARK 2:1-12.
The healing of the sick was one of the distinguishing features of our Lord's earthly ministry – doubtless for several reasons, which are very manifest – (1) It foreshadowed the great work of his Millennial reign – the healing of the nations and the wiping away of all tears from off all faces. (2) His miraculous healing of the sick and raising of the dead attracted wide attention, drew the multitudes to see and hear him, and established his authority as a teacher sent from God. (3) It manifested his love and sympathy for the afflicted and suffering.
Quite a difference will be observed between the work of the Lord during the three and a half years of his ministry and that of [R1722 : page 335] the Apostles. Jesus taught mainly the surface and introductory truths of Christianity, and beyond these he opened his mouth only in parables and dark sayings which could seldom be understood by those who heard, while the Apostles brought forth the deeper things of God and did very little healing, etc.
This was because the time had not yet come for opening up the deep things of God, and consequently the people were not yet prepared to receive them. It was as our Lord said upon one occasion, – "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now: howbeit, when he, the spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth...and he will show you things to come." (John 16:12,13.) At Pentecost the holy spirit came upon the early Church, and has been in the hearts of all God's truly consecrated people ever since, enabling all such to hear the deep things with appreciation and gladness and some to teach it with power and unction.
After the first introduction of Christianity, the miracle-working power gradually left the Church (1 Cor. 13:8), because no more needed as an introduction, and because the times of restitution – of healing and refreshing the world – had not yet come, and were not designed to be inaugurated for eighteen hundred years. But the deep and glorious truths of God's Word, the "exceeding great and precious promises" now made manifest to his saints, are the many things which the Lord had to tell, but which none were able to receive prior to the day of Pentecost.
We understand our Lord's words, "Greater works than these shall he do" (John 14:12), to refer to the spiritual work of the Church during this Gospel age, – opening the eyes of men's understanding and, as God's ambassadors, calling and perfecting the saints for the great work of the Millennial age. We can conceive of no greater or grander work than this: it is certainly far superior to the curing of the physically blind and lame and deaf. Our Lord could not engage in this greater work himself, because the world could not be "called" or accepted to divine favor and anointing with the spirit of adoption until provision had been made for the forgiveness of their sins. That provision was our Lord's death as a "ransom for all" and his ascent "on high, there to appear in the presence of God for us [on our behalf]." Thus the "greater" work was left to his followers under his direction, but made possible for them by his previous work – his sacrifice of himself. The partial offer, favor to fleshly Israel, was by virtue of their typical justification and typical acceptance with God by the typical merit of their typical atonement sacrifices.
When the Lord perceived the faith of the afflicted one and his friends, his reply, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee," implied that restoration to the divine favor which guaranteed healing and full restitution to health and life in God's appointed time. Apparently the Lord was going to let him wait the appointed time, with the simple assurance of the present favor of God, thus to test his faith and the measure of his satisfaction in the assurance.
His object in subsequently granting the immediate cure, as stated in verse 10, was to manifest his authority to forgive sins – "That ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins (he saith to the sick of the palsy), I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. And immediately he arose, took up the bed and went forth before them all." This was the divine testimony to the power of Jesus to forgive sins and to bring to pass in God's own time all the blessings that forgiveness of sins implies; viz., full restitution to human perfection. Praise the Lord for the good tidings illustrated and emphasized in the miracles of our Lord!
DEAR FRIENDS: – Coming out of a gospel meeting, a copy of your publication, entitled "Do You Know?" was handed to me. I have read it eagerly, and fully realize the facts revealed therein to be the real truth, and of the utmost importance for every Christian to know.
In the last paragraph of the above mentioned publication I have noticed your kind solicitude for the poor in spirit and for the hungry after righteousness; and, being one of them, I hasten to write to you and respectfully ask you to supply me with some food.
I am one of the lost sheep of the house [R1722 : page 336] of Israel. Recently the Lord opened my eyes, and I saw my Good Shepherd afar off. I ran to him over cavities and mountains, through thick forests and heavy walls, until I came near him, that I need only stretch my arms to embrace my dear Lord and Savior; and, O Lord! there is still another mighty obstacle obstructing my way: one which I am not able to remove myself, nor know I of a strong friend near me who would offer me aid. I am therefore rejoicing over your proposition, and hasten to apply to you for assistance, and trust that through your superior theological knowledge I will be able to embrace my dear Lord and Savior freely and consciously, and attach myself to him for ever.
I am now reading the New Testament thoughtfully the second time. Every word makes a deep impression upon my mind. I am fully convinced, and heartily believe, that our great Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is the Son of the living God, the authorized ruler of earth and the direct Mediator between the mighty Father and the sinful world, and that only through believing in him, and by his precious blood, can our sins be cleansed away, and we become white as snow. These facts came to me partly from the New Testament, but mostly from the Old Testament and from the fiery Law.
The obstacle that now obstructs my way is Matt. 28:19, and the general Christian doctrine of "Trinity," which conflicts very much with the first and most important commandment of our mighty Father. In the first commandment, the Lord said, I am (perfect in himself) the Lord thy God, and thou shalt have no other gods before me. He also emphasized this very important commandment by placing a heavy punishment upon disobedience to it. (Exod. 20:2,3,5.) Now, if a Christian must believe in "Trinity," that the godhead is composed of three persons, the Father, the Son, and the holy spirit, it is in my judgment (I fear to utter it) a violation of that very commandment. I would therefore be exceedingly grateful to you, dear friends, if you would be so kind as to give me a plain and explicit [R1723 : page 336] explanation on the above subject, that I and my family, and perhaps many others whom the Lord may privilege me to bring under his shelter, may live in the beauty of truth and holiness.
Awaiting your reply, I am, Yours faithfully,
GENTLEMEN: – Please accept heartfelt thanks for the three volumes of DAWN. We pray that their light may be brought unto all people, as they are, veritably speaking, a key to the Bible. Heretofore the Scriptures were very dark to me; but since reading the DAWNS, they are being opened up to me in their true light. May the Father of Heaven add his richest blessings to the effort put forth in their circulation, is the prayer of your humble servant,
DEAR BRETHREN: – About two months before having seen or known of MILLENNIAL DAWN and its wonderful and glorious Bible teachings, I had solemnly given myself to God in consecration, earnestly seeking to know and to do his will. When I began to investigate the DAWN, seeing that it was somewhat different from other religious books, I read critically and prayerfully, going to the Father, through Christ (John 14:6), and leaning on his promise to give wisdom to them who ask, seek and knock; and so I was ready to search its pages according to the will of God – whether it were truth or error, "strong meat" or simply the theory of man.
Hungering and thirsting after truth, I continued to read, searching the Scriptures daily, drinking in the refreshing truths from the eternal fountain of all love – God. With the knowledge of these things in my heart, my experience is one of joy and real satisfaction. Nevertheless, since I began to walk in the path of light, and to appreciate the exceeding great and precious promises, I noticed the way was not smooth and easy, but rough, difficult and narrow, with many obstacles to overcome. I saw I must be tested and tried (to prove my love for, and appreciation of, the truth), not only during my first lessons, but at all times afterward. So I realize that I must overcome, and "press toward the mark for the prize," walking by faith, while the way becomes more narrow and steep, even until the end, when the blessed goal is reached, and the crown of life received.
Yours in the precious faith,