|VOL. XXIII.||MARCH 1, 1902.||No. 5.|
|Views from the Watch Tower||67|
|Hermogenes to Titus||67|
|Progress in Church Federation Abroad and at Home||68|
|Madame Guyon's Full Surrender to the Lord||69|
|God's Providences Cooperate||69|
|Awake Thou that Sleepest and Arise||73|
|Sanctified Through a Knowledge of the Truth||76|
|Letters of Interest||79|
|Volunteer Work for 1902||66|
'I will stand upon my watch, and set my foot upon the Tower, and will watch to see what He shall say unto me, and what answer I shall make to them that oppose me.' Hab. 2:1
Upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity: the sea and the waves (the restless, discontented) roaring: men's hearts failing them for fear and for looking forward to the things coming upon the earth (society): for the powers of the heavens (ecclestiasticism) shall be shaken. . . .When ye see these things come to pass, then know that the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Look up, lift up your heads, rejoice, for your redemption draweth nigh. – Luke 21:25-28, 32.
It stands free from all parties, sects and creeds of men, while it seeks more and more to bring its every utterance into fullest subjection to the will of God in Christ, as expressed in the Holy Scriptures. It is thus free to declare boldly whatsoever the Lord hath spoken; – according to the divine wisdom granted unto us, to understand. Its attitude is not dogmatical, but confident; for we know whereof we affirm, treading with implicit faith upon the sure promises of God. It is held as a trust, to be used only in his service; hence our decisions relative to what may and what may not appear in its columns must be according to our judgment of his good pleasure, the teaching of his Word, for the upbuilding of his people in grace and knowledge. And we not only invite but urge our readers to prove all its utterances by the infallible Word to which reference is constantly made, to facilitate such testing.
Those of the interested who, by reason of old age, or other infirmity or adversity, are unable to pay for the TOWER, will be supplied FREE, if they send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper. We are not only willing, but anxious, that all such be on our list continually.
On January 1st we received word from all Bible-publishers that the prices were thereafter advanced. We had a good supply on hand then, but now, as we are obliged to re-order, we must also advance prices, as our Bibles are sold at cost prices.
Notice price list in December 15th issue, and add five cents each on all prices under 70 cents, ten cents to all between 70 cents and $1.15, and twenty cents to all above $1.15, except the India Paper Bibles, which are unchanged.
In the interest of friends in far off lands – China, Australia, Alaska, etc. – we give early notice that the anniversary memorial of our Lord's death this year falls on Sunday evening, April 20th, – after 6 p.m.
The Post Office Department is considering whether or not they will deprive us of the cheap mail rate on the "Old Theology Tracts." If you have not a good supply we advise that you send your orders at once.
Many of the dear friends are still doing splendid service in the circulating of the pamphlet "Food for Thinking Christians," on Sundays, near church entrances. The weather this winter has been quite favorable. The Washington City friends, having finished their own territory, have been going to nearby cities and towns. The same is true of the Boston friends: recently forty-six of them went to Lawrence, Mass., and served forty-two churches; – taking some as they assembled and others as they dismissed.
We advise that those who have not completed the distribution of "Food" shall do so; we hope to be able to supply all the ammunition requisite. Meantime, for those who have finished the distribution, we are preparing other literature which we hope to have ready for announcement in April. Meantime, let us get ready for an active campaign – choose captains and lieutenants, and so far as possible get all the friends interested. Our experience is that those who can and do engage in this volunteer work are proportionally blessed.
PERHAPS the best article which has yet appeared in the religious press bearing upon the higher criticism, came out in the last number of The Wesleyan Christian Advocate over the title of "The Epistle of Hermogenes to Titus," written in archaic style, belonging to the apostolic days and purporting to explain many passages of Scriptures which have furnished the bones of contention in recent controversies. Every Bible student will enjoy reading it. In part, the article reads as follows:
"Hermogenes, a servant of God, and a minister of Christ, and a teacher of the true faith of the Gospel, according to the ripe judgment of the present age; to Titus, mine own brother, whom I greatly love in the truth: Grace, mercy and peace unto thee.
"Thou hast heard, beloved, of our aged brother Paul, that he hath written epistles to Timotheus; and I hear, also to thee; in the which he hath set forth many things in exhortations unto each one of you. In some of these he hath sought to hinder my usefulness with thee, and with many others. Remember, brother, that he is old and hath divers infirmities, and hath little knowledge of sound philosophy which edifieth. Therefore, I bear no malice toward him. But I write to set in order for thine instruction a more reasonable Gospel, which will make thee wise and will enable thee to instruct others also.
"Thou hast heard how our brother Demas hath written Timotheus, to teach him how he may gain favor with them that be somewhat in authority above us; and, moreover, with high esteem among them that will not endure the hard doctrines declared by Paul in his preaching and epistles. I know thee, thy promise and great talent, and earnestly desire that thou mayest rise above this Timotheus. Thou hast gifts many, and I would that thou mightest be a bishop over the Church. Give heed, therefore, to my counsel.
"This Paul hath a lively imagination, such as maketh him exceedingly superstitious concerning the Scriptures, and an unsafe guide for such as would be wise; whilst I am yet young and have had long training in the schools of men skilled in reasoning concerning divine things, being in their company no less than sixty and seven days. Those great men instructed me fully in the approved laws, by the which we may know of the things which cannot be taken; wherefore, I think myself able to lead thee in a broad way. I will now set in order unto thee that which I have learned.
"The fathers did teach that Moses hath written how God made the heaven and the earth, having been instructed in this of God. Know thou, therefore, that Moses did beguile them. He obtained many accounts of a tradition of creation among several ancient peoples, and did patch them together for the Hebrews. That Paul accepteth this book of Moses as true history, doth show him to lack sound judgment.
"Thou knowest also that it hath been taught that the law and the prophets were given by inspiration of God. Herein is grievous error. The priests of the people of Israel, greatly desiring to lead our fathers into righteousness and to make of them a great nation, devised those great books. It is true, I cannot make known unto thee by which way this is proved; but beware of questioning my knowledge in this thing; thou wilt show thyself ignorant shouldest thou at all call in question our judgment. None but the instructed can fully understand these matters. The simple and unlearned must needs believe what we teach. If they fail to hearken, they are blind and cannot see into the deep things of our wisdom.
"We now conclude that at the least one thousand scribes were required to devise the law and the prophets; and peradventure, if that number doth not appear sufficient we can enlarge it to be even five thousand. It was a great work of imagination, and God must needs have many men to imagine each a little. Moreover, in these books the wise find many things contrary to sound reason. I will inform thee concerning some of them, in order that thou mayest be able to explain them to thy people. The writing [R2963 : page 68] which beareth the name of Moses doth declare that God did feed our fathers in the wilderness with manna from heaven. It is most confidently taught among us who are wise that they did lick with their tongues a honey, which is found on the leaves of the trees in the wilderness, and named it manna. The rock which gave forth water when this Moses did strike it flowed from a deep well, which he and his servants bored through a great rock by night while the people slept. The great pillar of cloud by day and fire by night which followed the people was produced by cunningly mixed powders. Moreover, this Moses was a wise magician, and did charm these people into a deep sleep, and while they slept, with his chosen helpers, he prepared many vessels into which, when full of water, they did cast a fine powder. After this they soaked the garments of all the people in the vessels of water, and it was so that they could no more wear out. Give heed concerning what we declare to be the truth of the record of the walls of Jericho, how they fell. They that be searchers after truth set forth that the horns and trumpets which the men of Israel did blow mightily made a great commotion in the air, insomuch that the walls began to tremble greatly, which continuing many days they were shaken down and did fall. Know thou also that Joshua did, by cunning magic, cause the ignorant people to imagine that the sun obeyed him to stand still. They were deceived, for their own good, that it might profit them withal. Joshua did cause their memory to stand still. But we are wiser than to teach men that reason that this record is more than a fable.
"I will instruct thee, moreover, concerning the book which beareth the name of Esaias. The learned now show unto us that many men did bear that name, and every one a little part hath written; how many it doth not yet appear. When the searching in the matter hath ended, it may be shown that peradventure a score of scribes had part in making the book as it now is. We are now assured that Esaias prophesied nothing concerning the sufferings and glory of Christ. He spake only of the sufferings of all Israel for the sins of King Ahaz. (Why Israel should be called to suffer because of wicked Ahaz's sins, or why Esaias did write of this, it doth not concern us.) The book speaketh nothing of Jesus Christ. This we say, and if any teach otherwise, he is thereby shown to be in ignorant company, with Paul and Peter and John, who have fallen into error, and teach old wives' fables, which the instructed reject.
"We have, also, a deep knowledge of the truth of Daniel and his prophecy, which will greatly edify thee, and will satisfy those who doubt concerning the miracles. Daniel was a man acquainted with many strange secrets. He knew how to charm the lions that they should not devour him when he should be cast into their den. So he feared not to pray; and when he was thrown to the lions, he cast a spell over them, that they could not bite or hurt him. Thou seest he saved himself, and gave God the praise. The record of the three Hebrew children and their trial in the fiery furnace hath also been shown to be according to reason. It hath been made known unto us by the teachers of science at whom Paul doth only sneer, that at the center of the hottest fire there doth always remain a cool place which will neither burn nor scorch garments, nor flesh. These Hebrew children were aforetime instructed regarding this; and therefore they feared not the wrath or power of the king; and when cast into the fire they knew immediately the place of safety and so were protected. See how reason doth make clear things hard to be believed, brother....
"Finally, I declare unto thee the true explanation of the record of Jonah. He fled before the Lord that he might not perish at Nineveh. He had not sought that appointment and rebelled against going. When he took ship, the Lord ordered a vessel bearing the name "Great Fish" to follow Jonah's ship. So when the sailors did throw Jonah overboard he was picked up by the crew of the "Great Fish" and tarried with them three days. These earnestly persuaded him to accept his appointment, and had such weight with him that he consented, and so went to Nineveh.
"Thou seest, brother, how our views do appeal to reason and sound judgment. I am assured that thou wilt gladly accept them, and assist us in spreading them, especially since Paul hath proven himself unable to lead the thinking classes of this great age. Thou mayest now be a leader in our school and get unto thyself a great name, for much learning, if thou dost act with us in this great warfare of the wise against the dull and ignorant. Paul hath had the help of Peter, John, James and Jude in this contention against us, but we faint not and continue to teach the people everywhere this doctrine, which maketh faith an easy matter. Meditate on these things I have written, and thy profiting will appear to all. When thou hast fully understood this, I will instruct thee in the correct knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ in another epistle. The salutation of me, Hermogenes, by mine own hand. Farewell."
English Journals are noting and commenting upon the unusual conduct of the Rev. R. C. Fillingham of the Episcopal Church. He has recently been exchanging pulpits with Baptist and Congregational ministers. This is contrary, not only to usage, but [R2964 : page 68] to Episcopal law on the subject, and the query is respecting what action may be taken by the Episcopal authorities, – whether his course will be ignored, and thus indirectly sanctioned as being in the interest of Christian unity and fellowship, or whether he will be reproved, or dismissed, and thus the separating fence be kept intact. In his sermon in the Carleton Hill Baptist Church, Mr. Fillingham is reported by the English Journals, as follows: –
"Mr. Fillingham took his text from Revelation, 5th chapter, and part of the 10th verse: 'And hast made us unto our God kings and priests.' There had always, he said, been an ugly sound about priestcraft; it was a word of evil associations. It was connected with persecution and with human misery. If a number of men got hold of the idea that they alone had the truth, it was not unlikely but that they would persecute. But, again, it was an unwarrantable attempt to rule over the consciences of men. Every little curate, who had but just scraped through his theological college, claimed to have the [R2964 : page 69] keys of heaven and hell in his waistcoat pocket, whereas a Spurgeon and a Clifford were to be outside altogether.
"After dwelling on these points, Mr. Fillingham declared such claims to be contemptible as well as dangerous. The truth was their Orders were no better than those of the Nonconformists. Their claims were preposterous. The first Archbishop of the Church of England was Archbishop Parker, and he was consecrated by Barlow. But all the evidence went to show that Barlow himself was never a bishop at all. He was appointed in 1536 to the bishopric of St. Asaph, and then to St. David's. But there was only one consecration of Bishops in that year – namely, on June 11th, and Barlow's name did not appear among them. Still further, Cromwell, the Vicar-General, addressed him as Bishop-Elect. Henry VIII, therefore, apparently made Barlow a Bishop by his mere word. Therefore, even from a sacramentarian point of view, Ritualism was a mere imposture. Priestcraft must be fought, and one of the best ways of fighting it was a union of Protestants of all denominations."
Church federation is progressing in Great Britain. All the large Nonconformist bodies – all denominations of Protestants outside of the Episcopal Church – have effected a general union or co-operative arrangement as respects mission work, etc. This is supposed to be the forerunner of a still closer federation of interests. Local federations of Protestant denominations have been formed in this country, and seven or eight State Federations, but, so far as we are informed, the movement has not yet attained a general or national scope. Evidently the complete federation, which surely is to come, is still a few years in advance of us. The nearest approach to it, thus far, is represented in the "Second Annual Conference of the National Federation of Churches and Christian Workers," held in Washington City, February 4 and 5, in Y.M.C.A. Hall.
Madame Jeanne De La Mothe Guyon was educated in convents, saved at the foot of the cross in 1668, sanctified in Notre Dame, witnessed for Jesus in the Court of Louis XIV., in France, Switzerland, and Italy, to bishops, priests, nuns and common people; was imprisoned for seven years, and died.
Of her conversion day she said: "I bade farewell forever to assemblies which I had visited, to plays and diversions, dancing, unprofitable walks and parties of pleasure. The pleasures and amusements so much prized and esteemed by the world now appeared to me dull and insipid – so much so that I wondered how I ever could have enjoyed them."
After making a full consecration she wrote: "I henceforth take Jesus Christ to be mine. I promise to receive him as a husband to me. And I give myself to him, unworthy though I am, to be his spouse. I ask of him, in this marriage of spirit, that I may be of the same mind with him – meek, pure, nothing in myself, and united in God's will. And, pledged as I am to be his, I accept, as a part of my marriage portion, the temptations and sorrows, the crosses and contempt which fell to him." Concerning her imprisonment, she wrote as follows: "I passed my time in great peace, content to spend the remainder of my life there, if such should be the will of God. I employed part of my time in writing religious songs. I and my maid, La Gautiere, who was with me in prison, committed them to heart as fast as I made them. Together we sang praises to Thee, O, our God! It sometimes seemed to me as if I were a little bird whom the Lord had placed in a cage, and that I had nothing to do now but to sing. The joy of my heart gave a brightness to the objects around me. The stones of my prison looked in my eyes like rubies. I esteemed them more than all the gaudy brilliancies of a vain world. My heart was full of that joy which thou givest to them who love Thee in the midst of their greatest crosses."
Deacon Philip, the instrument of divine providence in starting the Ethiopian eunuch in the narrow way of discipleship – and through him possibly introducing the good tidings into Africa – we have already seen was just such a man as the Lord is pleased to use as his mouthpiece in the service of the truth. Having proven himself faithful in the inferior work of serving tables, he had been advanced, and been made an ambassador for God in the preaching of the Gospel at Samaria; and the present lesson shows him still further guided and used of the Lord in his blessed service. There is an encouraging lesson here for all who have the same spirit – the same desire to serve the Lord and his cause. Faithfulness in little things is sure to bring larger opportunities.
We are not informed by what means the Lord "spake to Philip," sending him to the road in which he would find the eunuch's chariot. We may be sure however, that the indication was sufficiently clear to Philip to be more than a mere guess or impression. We are to remember, too, that it was at a time when the Lord used miraculous means of communication, more than at present – doubtless for [R2964 : page 70] the very purpose of establishing the faith of his servants as well as their work. Today we walk more by faith, less by sight and miracle. Yet so bright is the light of truth now shining upon the divine plan and Word that we may safely say that we have much advantage every way, even over those of that time. We are to remember that up to the time of this lesson there were no New Testament writings; nothing, therefore, aside from the Law and the Prophets to assist and guide the apostles and early evangelists except the more or less miraculous interpositions of God's providence.
Even after we have learned of God's particular care for all of his people, we are inclined to surprise that a solitary individual should be so particularly cared for as was this eunuch; – that a special messenger should be sent to him for his instruction in righteousness. Very evidently divine providence does not guard the going of all mankind to this same degree. Very evidently there was something in the character of this eunuch, something in his heart-attitude toward God, that was pleasing and acceptable to the Lord, and caused the working of this miracle on his behalf – that he might have needed instruction in the truth.
The eunuch belonged to the kingdom of Meroe, which lay on the right bank of the Nile River, from its junction with the Atbara – as far south as Khartoum, and thence to the east of the Blue Nile to the mountains of Abyssinia. He was a court officer, evidently deeply religious, who had come in contact with, and been impressed by, the Jewish religion; and in his religious fervor he had gone up to Jerusalem to worship, and to gain additional knowledge of the true God. His case, like that of the Samaritans and of Cornelius, indicates that this occurrence was after the close of Israel's "seventy weeks," of special favor, for this eunuch was not a Jew in the fullest sense, – eunuchs not being fully accepted as proselytes, nor granted the privileges of the congregation. (Deut. 23:1.) Up to this time the eunuch, like Cornelius and the believing Samaritans, had been a part of the Lazarus class, lying at the gate of Dives, desiring to be fed with some of the crumbs from the bountiful table of blessing and promises which God had spread for Israel. Now the change had come. The house of Israel had been cast off; the end of Israel's special favor as respects the Gospel had [R2965 : page 70] come; and the time for receiving the Lazarus class to Abraham's bosom had arrived. Philip, as an angel or messenger of the Lord, was sent to carry this representative of the Lazarus class to the arms of father Abraham, as a true child of Abraham, through faith.
The eunuch had been to the head centre of the religion which he esteemed to be the true one. He had come away from Jerusalem with a manuscript copy of one of the holy prophets – Isaiah – a treasure in those times, costly. That his manuscript was written in the Greek language, and not in the Hebrew, seems to be indicated by the word Esaias, which is the Greek form of Isaiah. He was hungering and thirsting for the truth, and making his best possible endeavor to obtain it, as is evidenced by his purchase of the manuscript, and his long journey, and his reading. That he was doing more than simply reading, – that he was studying, is evidenced by his language to Philip. Can we wonder that God's special providences would be manifested toward such an one – toward a person in such a condition of heart, hungering and thirsting for the truth? We cannot wonder at it. It is in full accord with the Lord's promise, that such shall be filled; that such seekers shall find; that such knockers shall have the door of truth opened to them. Let us remember that we are under the care of the same God, and that he changes not; and let us learn the lesson that he is as well able today as ever to assist the sincere truth-seeker.
Another lesson connected with this matter pertains to times and seasons. God could have directed the eunuch to the meeting of the Church at Jerusalem, and to the instructions of the apostles there. But this probably would not have been so favorable for the eunuch. After receiving the apostolic instruction he might have referred the matter to the scribes and Pharisees, and have received in return explanations more or less confusing. In the Lord's providence he quite likely heard something of the Christians, and their claims that Messiah had come and had been crucified, and he quite probably knew the other side of the story, that the chief priests and teachers claimed that the whole matter was a fraud, an imposition. Possibly these very thoughts had led him to procure the manuscript he was reading, and had brought him into the attitude of mind favorable for the reception of the truth when Philip expounded it.
Let us learn from this, not only in respect to our own affairs, but also in respect to the general service of the truth, to trust implicitly in divine wisdom and power – to remember that the Lord knoweth them that are his, and that he knoweth how best to bring them in contact with the truth. Properly learned, this lesson will not slack our hands in the divine service; for true servants will still be anxious and ready to serve, as was Philip; but it will serve to strengthen our hearts and to take from us that fearfulness that is a hindrance to the peace of many of God's children. Let us not fear for the Lord's Word, but remember his declaration, through the Prophet, "My word, that goeth forth out of my mouth, shall not return unto me void; it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." – Isa. 55:11.
The chariot probably overtook and passed Philip in the road, the eunuch driving leisurely, in order that he might read. He was reading aloud, after the custom of that time and country, and according to the injunctions laid upon the people by the Jewish teachers. Indeed, it was one of the Jewish rules that the faithful, in traveling, should read if they had no companionship. We are not informed how the spirit told Philip to hail the eunuch; possibly in the same miraculous way in which he was sent to this road, or possibly having been sent to this road he was on the look-out for the object of his mission, and hearing the eunuch reading from the prophecy, Philip may have understood at once that this was the favored person, [R2965 : page 71] and a favorable time for delivering the message to the service of which his life had been consecrated. This gives us a suggestion – all of the Lord's people, in proportion as they desire to be the servants of the truth, should be continually on the alert to note opportunities for service, and should expect to be guided and used of the Lord. All of the Lord's people are ministers, servants, of the truth; and each should seek to use every opportunity presenting itself, knowing not which may be specially prospered of the Lord. Wherever we see evidences of devotion to the Lord and to his Word, we should be on the alert to extend a helping hand. We should, as Philip did, seek an opportunity for conversing with such, with a view to giving them the help which they need, the very assistance which the Lord has extended to us through some channel. We are to be on the alert to pass along the blessing which we have received, and to esteem that this is the chief business of life with those who have consecrated themselves to the service of the King of kings.
Philip's inquiry, "Understandest thou what thou readest?" may not always be well received; but it was a very direct way of approaching his errand. It is well to use tact, but we have the thought that many of the Lord's people are inclined to use rather too much tact, and are not sufficiently direct in their endeavors to present the Gospel message. Had Philip been too much under the control of this wrong sentiment respecting tact, he might have talked to the eunuch quite a while about the weather and the crops; about his home in Ethiopia; the peace and prosperity of that country; its exports and imports; and the religious status of the people; and might thus gradually have gotten his hearer's mind quite off the most important of all subjects. Considering that he heard him and knew the subject of his study, we cannot think of a better introduction to his message than the method and language which Philip adopted: "Understandest thou what thou readest?"
This was a test question, so to speak. If the eunuch did have an understanding of what he was reading he would take no offence at this, but would gladly have said, "Yes, friend, I thank God that I do, and the knowledge is very precious to me. Do you also understand it?" But had he been of the wrong condition of heart his answer might have been, with more or less manifestation of offence, "What is that to you? Mind your own business." Or had he been of a hypocritical cast of mind, like the Pharisees to whom Jesus spoke, he would have professed a knowledge of the subject, and then, to cover his own ignorance of it, he would have made some general remarks and have turned the subject into another channel. We are not to expect those who are in the Pharisaical condition to receive the truth from us, any more than from the Lord. We are to know, according to the Lord's Word, that the truth is purposely hidden from all not in the right attitude of heart to receive it – it is indefinite, indistinct, unintelligible to them. This is one difficulty with the teachers of churchianity today; like the Pharisees and scribes and chief priests of old, they say, "Are we blind also?" They claim to know; but we know that they know that they don't know. Therefore, as our Lord said to their prototypes, their blindness continues; for no one can expect to be taught of God while in that self-sufficient and dishonest condition of mind which boasts of knowledge and the faith which it lacks. – John 5:40,41.
All those to whom the Lord specially sends the message of his grace during this Gospel age are in considerable degree like this eunuch of our lesson – earnest, honest, truth-seekers, not afraid to acknowledge that they do not know, and not afraid nor ashamed to receive whatever assistance the Lord may provide. The eunuch did not stop to inquire of Philip, "Are you a priest? or a Pharisee? or a Doctor of the Law?" It was sufficient to him that he held in his hand what he believed to be a message from God, and that he knew it contained various statements, promises, etc., which he did not understand. He believed that the God who gave this prophecy was both able and willing to furnish an interpretation of it, and he was seeking that interpretation; and whoever could give such an interpretation as would shed light upon his questions would by that means be proven a teacher of God, a servant of the truth, a light-bearer.
The eunuch's answer implied this, when he said, "How can I understand, unless some man should guide me?" So earnest was he in his quest of the truth that the bare suggestion of assistance implied in Philip's question was sufficient to arouse fully his interest; and he entreated Philip to have a seat with him in his chariot, and thus grant him the benefit of whatever information could be given. We are not surprised that a heart so noble, and yet so humble and teachable, should be specially favored of the Lord, and have a messenger sent specially to him for his instruction, while others by the million were passed by – not esteemed worthy. It is the same today; and while the Lord does not generally direct his people in the miraculous manner in which he directed Philip to the eunuch, we nevertheless have general instructions along the same line; viz., "Preach the Gospel to the meek." "He that hath an ear, let him hear." – Isa. 61:1; Matt. 13:9; Rev. 2:7.
Our message, as the Prophet declares, is to bind up broken hearts, and not to break hearts: we are to preach to the meek, and not to the froward, the Gospel of Christ. The hard hearts, and the froward, God will deal with in another way. He will break them upon the anvil of affliction and trouble and discipline in his own due time and manner. Meantime, in this Gospel age, he is seeking for the Bride amongst those who are already broken, and already to some extent meek and teachable. We should not waste our time in futile efforts, contrary to this Scriptural rule. Let those who have not the Gospel, but who have merely a message of reformation, preach political reforms, social reforms, moral reforms. The Lord's Word to his consecrated servants, the Royal Priesthood, is, "Preach the good tidings to the meek, bind up the broken hearted!"
It was evidently not of chance, but of providence that the eunuch had under consideration the particular part of Isaiah's prophecy which refers to our Lord as the Lamb before his shearers opening not his [R2966 : page 72] mouth in protest; telling about his humiliation, and how his life would be taken from the earth; and instituting a query respecting his posterity. No wonder the poor eunuch was mystified; no wonder the Jews were all mystified. Unquestionably this prophecy, like the majority of prophecies, could be but imperfectly comprehended until fulfilled – could be understood only in the light of its fulfilment, and then only by those in a proper attitude of heart and under the instruction, the guidance, of the holy spirit.
We should notice in this connection, (1) that while the Scriptures are "the sword of the spirit, the Word of God," able to make wise, they cannot be understood until the Lord's due time. (2) They can only be understood under the leading and instruction of the holy spirit, and yet (3) the holy spirit was not exercised upon the truth-seeker either through the Scriptures nor through any mental process, but through the living representative of the spirit, – through the Gospel message, delivered by a fellow-servant. The true child of God, the real truth-seeker, following the proper lines, and properly trusting to the Lord, according to his Word, will neither ignore nor reject the assistance which God has been pleased to render through teachers in the Church. He will merely seek to find such teachers as God shall raise up, and the distinction between these and sectarian teachers; and one of his best, safest and surest methods of knowing the teachers whom the Lord will raise up, will be by their ability to make simple, clear, plain, the Word of God, – "written aforetime for our admonition." This was the only credential offered by Philip in his ministry of the truth. He had been taught of God through the apostles, and was now able, in turn, to communicate to the hearing ear of the eunuch the simple story of how Christ had come into the world to redeem the world, had died for man's sins, had arisen, and ascended up to glory: that now, meantime, before blessing the world through Christ according to promise, God was calling out an elect "little flock" to be joint-heirs with Jesus in the Kingdom; and that as soon as this election should be completed the Messiah (Jesus, the Head, and the Church, his body) would be manifested in glory and in ruling and blessing power to the world of mankind, – the long looked-for Messiah, whose work had been foretold by all the holy prophets since the world began.
Philip undoubtedly further explained to the eunuch, that those who accepted Christ as their Savior, and who desired to become his disciples, taking up their cross to follow him, should give their assent to this matter by baptism. Apparently it did not take the eunuch long to decide what his course should be, and his readiness of heart to follow the Lamb, whithersoever he would lead, is indicated by his promptness to be baptized.
Philip was ready to receive him as a fellow-member of the Church of Christ, and ready to give him the symbol of introduction into the body of Christ – baptism – as soon as he gave evidence of having accepted the Lord, and having made consecration to him. He made no request that the eunuch learn the catechism, nor that he confess something else such as well-meaning but mistaken men in the dark ages promulgated as necessary, and as explanatory of the Bible. Neither did he say, "Now I will write your name, and you will be considered a member of the Church on that account, and I will procure for you some authority to preach the Gospel in Ethiopia." No; at that time the subject had not been confused and befogged as now. Philip preached the Gospel in its simplicity, and the eunuch received it in like manner; and with the Gospel itself went the right and authority to declare it. "He that hath my word let him speak my word." (Jer. 23:28.) All who have received the anointing of the spirit, the unction from the holy one, are thus recognized as members of the "royal priesthood," and fully commissioned to tell forth the good tidings.
This is in full accord with our Golden Text which does not say, "With the mouth a creed is confessed," which is neither understood by the head nor believed in the heart, and thus a membership is gained in a nominal church of human establishment, and without divine sanction or authority as to name or methods. It does state, on the contrary, most simply and beautifully, that whatever is believed that has any force or weight in the Lord's estimation is that which is believed by the individual himself, in his own heart, and he can believe nothing in his heart that he does not to some extent comprehend. It is not a belief of mysteries, but a belief of facts, and subsequently coming to a comprehension of things which are still mysteries to "those that are without," – outside the true Church.
The second part of the text is evidently as important as the first part: "With the mouth confession is made unto salvation." This implies that a dumb believer will never make his calling and his election sure. We do not refer to those who are naturally dumb; but understand the word "mouth" in the same sense that we speak of the "ears" of our heart, and the "eyes of our understanding." A heart that sees and hears the grace of God, and that truly accepts the same, must in due time become so enthused with the things heard and seen, that it cannot refrain from some outward manifestation of its joy and peace and hope and trust and thankfulness. As the apostles declared, "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." All Christians who, having received the light of truth, having seen the grace of God in the divine plan, having tasted that the Lord is gracious, having heard the wonders of "so great salvation, which began to be spoken by our Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him" – these must not, cannot, keep silence nor put their light under a bushel. If they do, it means the extinguishment of their light, the stoppage of their growth; and persevered in this would ultimately mean to them destruction in the Second Death; – for those who are ashamed of the Lord and of his Word, after they have discerned clearly, not only are not fit for the Kingdom, but of such the Lord would be ashamed under any and all conditions. – Luke 9:26.
Today, as in the Apostle's day, those who have become the Lord's people through faith and consecration need to be informed respecting the possibilities of their new life, else they may permit it to lie comparatively dormant – permit it to be covered up, and finally to be extinguished, smothered by the old nature – the will of the flesh, its affections, its ambitions, its cravings. While, therefore, it is important that conversion should take place – a turning of the will, the intention, from sin to holiness, from self to God, – it is very important that conversion be not esteemed to be the end, but merely the beginning of the Christian's course. It is, of course, important that the begetting should be of the truth, and not of error, so that the new mind may be of the proper kind; but even when properly begotten of the truth, as a child of the Kingdom, it is essential that the new creature shall be nourished first with the "milk," subsequently with the "meat" of the truth, which God has provided for this very purpose.
New converts, like new-born babes, are much inclined to sleep; but while this in nature is profitable, in grace it is dangerous; for the new creature to sleep in self-satisfaction means death; the begetting of the spirit has been for the very purpose of energizing; and hence, the Apostle here calls upon such "babes in Christ," fallen asleep under the spirit of the world and of the nominal church, and thus in danger of complete failure in the way of character development, saying, – "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee." (R.V.) The "new creature" is to recognize the fact, that the whole world is dead; – not merely under a death sentence, nor merely figuratively dead – but in a death condition, as respects the highest and noblest things of righteousness and truth. Our begetting of the holy spirit of truth gives us merely a first suggestion of our own condition by nature, and the condition of the whole world, in trespasses and sin – in thought, word, and deed. It is necessary that the mind should first be awakened to seek for other things; it is necessary that the ear should hear the voice of him who now speaks unto us from above – the anointed Head of the anointed body; it is necessary that the eyes of our understanding should be opened that we may see the true situation of things; and all this is well represented in the Apostle's figure of awakening.
We regret to say that the general tendency in Christendom is not to awaken the sleepers, but rather to lull them to sleep. This, however, is not always, nor generally, done with a view to serving the adversary, [R2967 : page 73] and permitting the new life to become extinct, just as not many nurses and mothers wilfully contribute to the weaknesses, diseases, and death of the infants under their charge. In both cases good intentions are often thwarted by ignorance of the governing laws. Those who occupy the position of teachers in the various denominations, while not devoid of good intentions as respects the babe in Christ, lack the theoretical and practical knowledge which they should inculcate – they are babes in spiritual matters themselves, as the Apostle wrote in one of his epistles, – "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles [rudiments] of the oracles of God." – Heb. 5:12.
When the believing, converted, consecrated, begotten, sleeping, "new creature" has been awakened – when the eyes and ears of his understanding have been opened, as above suggested, to see the true conditions of the world, and to realize himself as a "new creature" in Christ, – his next duty is to arise. His arising from the dead signifies the activity of the new mind, the new will, in directing and controlling his mortal body. This implies effort; the putting forth of all the energy of the new creature. It requires no effort to sleep, or to lie after one gets awake; but to rise requires the exercise of every muscle. Arising is not an instantaneous act, but a process requiring one movement after another, until it is fully accomplished; so also is the arising of the "new creature" from the dead conditions of sin and trespass against the laws of righteousness and truth and purity; it requires his every effort, and is a work of time. Indeed all experienced Christians who have followed the Apostle's injunction to arise from the dead, have found that it requires days, months, years, of energetic effort to rise up above, superior to the fallen tendencies of his own flesh, – common to the world of mankind. He finds that even after he has risen fully up, so that he does not wilfully practice sin, nor countenance it in any sense or degree, he still must be on his guard lest he be entrapped by the weaknesses of his mortal body; or by the allurements of the world; or by the temptations of the adversary; and thus stumble again over some of the things of sin and death from which he had arisen by the Lord's grace.
The Apostle in the previous verses has explained some of these things of sin and death to which the Lord's people should become thoroughly awake, and from which they should arise completely. In verse 3, he mentions some evils which should be "not so much as named among you – as becometh saints." In vs. 4, he mentions "foolish talking" as among the things of sin and death from which the Lord's people must arise. While we believe that the saints will make most progress themselves, and be most helpful to others, by avoiding all kinds of light and unedifying conversation, and while we strongly recommend this course to all, nevertheless, we do not understand the Apostle here to refer to what might be designated as harmless jokes or levity. From the text we understand him to refer to coarse, lascivious talking, and to [R2967 : page 74] a more refined jesting with half-suggestions of profanity or vice, sometimes practiced by the educated and witty.
We are to arise from all such low conditions of thought, word, and deed as we find prevalent about us; because as children of God, begotten by his spirit, we can have no fellowship with these things. We must regard them as the Apostle suggests, as "unfruitful works of darkness." The Apostle by this word, unfruitful, no doubt intended to give us the thought that sin is destructive instead of productive – that its tendency is toward death. On the contrary, the tendency of the new mind of Christ is toward fruit-bearing, development, blessing, uplifting, refreshment. Not only is this true in the individual Christian, but as our Lord's words suggest, the individual Christian exercises a preservative influence on others; wherever he may live he is a shining light dispelling the darkness of sin; he is the salt of the earth, preserving the mass from corruption. The moral standing of the civilized world today, is unquestionably largely due to the indirect influence of the holy spirit in God's people; – which as the Apostle declares, reproves the world. Our reproof of sin may always be through the living epistles of our daily lives which, as bright and shining lights, should ever reprove by manner, look, act, and tone, everything tending toward darkness and sin, – "Let your light so shine before men that they seeing your good works may glorify your Father in Heaven." Occasionally it may be proper, and still more occasionally it may be duty, for us to speak or to act in opposition to darkness; but the light of a godly life, testifying for the truth and exhibiting the holy spirit, is certainly one of the most forceful reproofs of sin that can be administered.
While passing, we might have in mind the Apostle's words, "unfruitful works of darkness," laying emphasis upon the last word. Sin is figuratively represented by darkness; and, additionally, it generally prefers literal darkness for the accomplishment of its purposes. The Lord's children are children of the light, and are to walk in the light of truth; they are to have their hearts enlightened and their minds so illuminated as to make them burning and shining lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, blinded and darkened by the Prince of Darkness. And all such while endeavoring to arise from the dead and to live separate from the world are recommended to walk in the light of truth; and so far as possible to live in the light actually, – to see that their homes are well lighted, – recognizing that even the natural light is a foe to the darkness of sin.
The Apostle suggests the necessity of taking the various steps above outlined, before the Christian will get fully into the light himself. It is after he has arisen from the dead by the Lord's help, by the help of the brethren, by the assistance of the exceeding great and precious promises of the Word, by the indwelling spirit of the Word; – after he has arisen from the dead and indeed while he is arising from the state of sin and death, while he is attempting to bring his members into subjection to the new life, a new light is shining upon him – his light is increasing, his knowledge of the Lord, his knowledge of sin, his knowledge of righteousness, his appreciation of truth and righteousness "in the inward parts," as the prophet expresses it. The light shining upon him, and deep into the recesses of his heart, may sometimes cause distress, as he finds that his own natural weaknesses and imperfections are even greater than he had at first been aware of; nevertheless, as a child of the light, begotten by the Father of lights, he loves the right, and hates the sin; and the more clearly the light shines upon him and shows him the blemishes of his own mortal body, the more he runs for and strives for the perfection which the Lord assures him he shall attain to in the actual resurrection – of which the present "rising to walk in newness of life," is but the figure.
The Apostle, progressing with the thought before us, declares that the one who thus arises from the dead is not even then to stand still. He must walk – not after or toward the flesh and its standard, but after and toward the spirit and its standard. And he will need to walk circumspectly – with careful scrutiny of each footstep. The Apostle suggests that any other course than this would be foolish. We are to remember that our adversary was more disposed to let us alone while we were asleep, but that now, when we are awake and seeking to walk after the spirit, he will be on the alert to ensnare and entrap us; – hence the need of our circumspection. The Lord gives us light, not only on our own characters, and upon sin and righteousness in general, but, additionally, he gives us light upon the road we are to travel. This light upon our pathway is the light shining from the Scriptures of which the Prophet declares, "Thy Word is a lamp to my feet, a lantern to my footsteps." He who neglects the lamp, neglects one of the very important means of walking circumspectly. And alas, how many Christian people today, with the Bible in their homes, are neglecting to trim and use it as a lamp; – if not standing in the dark they are walking in the darkness, stumbling, or in danger of stumbling, continually. Let us remember the importance of this lamp, and use it; to the intent that ours may be the "path of the just, shining more and more unto the perfect day."
Thus we are to redeem the time – to purchase opportunities for the new creature and its interests and concerns, at the expense of the old nature. We as new creatures are to exchange the things of darkness for the things of light; the opportunities for sowing to the flesh for the opportunities of sowing to the spirit. The opportunities must be thus purchased else we will have none: if we give way to the inclinations of the flesh, its appetites and desires, it will consume all there is of time and opportunity, strength and influence, and leave nothing for the new creature, – "because the days are evil;" that is because they are unfavorable to spiritual progress. They present thousands of temptations for worldly pleasure and worldly ease and worldly fame and worldly progress; – and thus they multiply the tests which come upon us as "new creatures." We must remember that the Lord desires that these tests shall demonstrate the degree of our love, the degree of our [R2967 : page 75] sincerity, the degree of our consecration to him: the more our love for the Lord and for righteousness, the greater will be our zeal in snatching time, opportunity, influence from the flesh and consecrating it to spiritual things. In so doing we will not be unwise, but will display our understanding of the Lord's will. – Verses 16,17. Unless we are awake we cannot arise to present newness of life; and unless this arising to newness of life is accomplished we cannot share in the First Resurrection.
The Golden Text of the lesson is the 18th verse; in it the Apostle contrasts two spirits. Under present conditions men naturally look for something to exhilarate them, to refresh, to revive – to counteract [R2968 : page 75] life's trials, burdens and sorrows: many of the dead in trespasses and sins find this stimulant and relief from care, in various intoxicating stimulants, – wine, spirituous liquors, opium, etc.; but the child of God is to look in a totally different direction for his stimulant, his exhilaration, his relief from care and trouble – he is to be "filled with the spirit" of the Lord. He is not merely to have a little of it, but is to become intoxicated with it to the extent that it will change the general appearance of all his surroundings and conditions in life. And cannot each advanced Christian, filled with the Lord's spirit testify that this is true? – that all things are changed from the new standpoint and its new hopes, new ambitions, new relationships? Can he not say, "Old things have passed away, all things have become new?" What need has he for the wine cup to drown his troubles, or smother his sorrows? He knows from observation if not from experience that all such exhilaration and oblivion to sorrow brings an after effect of pain: he knows also from experience and observation that to be filled with the Lord's spirit need not be a temporary oblivion to sorrow, but a permanent one – that, – "Earth has no sorrows that Heaven cannot cure;" – that even the deepest pains and sorrows of the heart are more than counterbalanced and cancelled by the joys of the Lord secured through the possession of a fullness of his spirit.
The lightness of heart of the intoxicated "dead in trespasses and sin" often leads to bacchanalian revelry and song, repulsive even to the same person when sober; but the filling of the spirit of the Lord leads to songs and rejoicings, not only with the lips but with the heart, – refreshing, comforting, and uplifting, not only to the singer but also to the hearer. It is this "new song" in the heart that constitutes the Christian a separate and distinct being from all others about him. "Thou hast put a new song in my mouth, even thy loving kindness, O Lord!" Because it is in the heart, therefore, it must be in the mouth also, and must influence all the affairs of life; for we cannot but speak the things which have so wonderfully uplifted and refreshed our souls. And the speaking of these things is the proclamation of the Gospel, – "good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people."
In our new attitude, figuratively risen from the dead and walking in newness of life with the Lord our Redeemer and Head, all of life's affairs have a new coloring. Not only can we sing, –
It may not be amiss here to remind the brethren that the Scriptures show two kinds of symbolic or figurative intoxications: the one above described, filling with the spirit of the Lord and its joys, and peace, and comfort; – the results of the fruitage of the vine which the Heavenly Father planted, of which Christ is the central stock, and of which his followers are all "branches." The other wine is a counterfeit, an illicit wine; it is not produced by the vine of the Father's planting, but from the grapes of the "vine of the earth." It is of this wine that the Lord tells us Great Babylon has made all the nations drunken – the wine of her inconsistency, of her infidelity. This is the wine or spirit of the world, – of Churchianity.
Looking all about us we fear that many, who think they are filled with the holy spirit of the truth, are really filled with this intoxication of Churchianity. Those intoxicated with this wine will shortly be aroused to a realization that it was sadly adulterated, and the effects will be painful. Those who are intoxicated with this wine of Churchianity are rejoicing not in the cup of the world and of devils, not in gross sins, but nevertheless not in the spiritual things. They glory each in the prosperity of his own sect, they are generally intoxicated with love for sectarianism, so that worldly persons, dead in trespasses and sins are often loved and brothered by those intoxicated with this adulterated spirit, while saints are spurned and treated as enemies because of faithfulness to God in rebuking sectarian Churchianity and its doctrinal falsities.
Let us, dear brethren, beware of the natural wine and its drunkenness, – of the cup of devils, gross sins and immoralities; let us beware of the still more deceptive wine of Babylon's cup of mixture which has a form of godliness, in which church and world and lodge combinations tend to stupefy and to give illicit joy; let us, however, having made sure of the Lord's cup, drink thereof and be filled with the spirit of our Master and with his joys. page 75
Saul of Tarsus, the bitter enemy of the Lord Jesus and his followers, was, at the same time, a zealous servant of God; and his persecutions of the truth, as he himself assures us, were undertaken and prosecuted with zeal, because he thought that thus he did God service. He was a good man according to his light – but that light was a dim one. It was because he was at heart honest, sincere, good, loyal to the Lord, that a special miracle was wrought for the opening of the eyes of his understanding – that he might see the truth. His sincerity is amply attested by the promptness of his obedience as soon as his mental eyes were opened. He changed not as respected his zeal for God and his cause, but merely in the direction in which that zeal was exercised, and in the manner of its exercise, after it was subjected to the mind of Christ through the holy spirit received. So today while we have the Scriptural assurance that "None of the wicked shall understand," we have also the assurance that "The wise shall understand." The "wise" are not the "wicked," and we esteem those who have manifested a bitter opposition toward present truth to be not "wicked" at heart, but deceived, blinded.
We confidently expect that many of this class will yet be found amongst the "wise" to whom it shall be granted to understand the glorious things of the divine plan now being revealed through the Scriptures. It will be revealed to them because they are not of the wicked; but are like Saul of Tarsus, true children of God, whose zeal for him has been misdirected, misguided, misused. Some may kick against the pricks of facts, evidence, conscience, etc., longer than others; but eventually the Lord will grant to each of them some experience, or trial, the bitter experience of which will prepare them to see the light, the truth, in the right direction. Thus many of them sing, – "E'en though it be a cross that raiseth me."
Saul's father was a Roman citizen; probably a man of wealth and influence: he was a Jew of the holiness sect called Pharisees – the most exact and rigid in respect to the divine law. His son named after Saul, the first king of Israel, was also given a [R2969 : page 76] Roman name, Paul, because of his father's Roman citizenship. The Apostle's reference to having suffered the loss of all things for Christ's sake, is understood to imply that he had been disinherited by his father because of his acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah. Quite evidently he was poor in the beginning of his ministry, as is evident from his laboring at tent-making while preaching. The fact that subsequently the record represents him as a man of considerable influence, and with one or more servants, is considered by many to justify the inference that at a later date he inherited property, possibly by reason of his father's death. In no other way can his "own hired house" in Rome, and his influence with officials, shipmasters, etc., be accounted for; – little attention and consideration are given to a pauper prisoner.
As to Paul's personal appearance: An iron medal was recently found which purported to give a likeness. There is also a Roman tablet of about the fourth century, which shows Paul seated in a curule chair; both represent him as of fine appearance, somewhat bald, with beard, and a fine open countenance; about medium stature and weight. In the "Acts of Paul and Thecla," the first Christian romance, written about A.D. 150, there is a description of Paul which is probably the best, and a true tradition. In this he is described as "small in size, bald-headed, bandy-legged, well built, with eyebrows meeting; rather long nosed; with motions full of grace, for sometimes he seemed like a man, and sometimes like an angel. His manner was singularly winning." Very evidently his good education and contact with people in the higher walks of life gave him that grace and ease of manner and speech he manifested so conspicuously in the presence of the many high officials with whom he came in contact in various ways, as the representative of the Lord.
Our lesson connects with the narrative of Philip: while the latter was preaching Christ, Saul was breathing out threatenings against all of "this way," and doing all that he could to stamp out Christianity. In-as-much as the persecution had caused the scattering of believers, Saul was pursuing them – going even outside the province of Judea in his zeal to crush out that which he believed to be dangerous heresy. Some may wonder how he could be at heart loyal to the Lord, and yet in mind be so bitter against the Lord's faithful. Let us suggest how the matter probably appeared to Saul's mind: Doubtless he was full of the Jewish sentiment respecting Messiah, respecting his nation, Israel; he considered it a certain and unquestionable fact that the Pharisees represented God and all the glorious prophecies and [R2969 : page 77] traditions of the nation; and that as Jehovah had favored this nation for now these many centuries, his favor, undoubtedly, must still be with it; so that if he had any further revelations to make they would undoubtedly come through the scribes and pharisees who "sit in Moses' seat" – as representatives of God and of the Law. He expected a Messiah of dignity and wealth and social standing in the nation; – if born in the natural way at all to be of one of the best families. He expected him to establish the dignity of Israel upon a plane similar to, but higher than that of Solomon; – that he would be a great leader and commander to his people, who would successfully carry them through every difficulty and opposition like as did Moses, Joshua, David, – but still greater, still grander, still more successful.
It is surely difficult for us to imagine how absurd would be the claims of Jesus, to a mind filled with such expectations. Jesus had neither wealth nor social standing nor influence amongst his own people; he was despised and rejected by the religious chiefs and elders of the nation Moses represented; he could have no power or influence whatever with the Roman Emperor or others – in the way of establishing Israel as the chief nation of the world, whose laws should ultimately extend to every nation, carrying with them the foretold Messianic blessings. No, from Paul's standpoint Jesus was a fraud, a deceiver, a false Messiah, his disciples were crack-brained dupes, and their doctrines were calculated to bring odium upon the religious rulers, who represented Moses in the nation, – calculated to stir up strife and division amongst the people and to mislead them and turn their minds entirely away from Moses and the Law and the hopes of Israel; and thus to hinder the good cause of God which had been gradually developing for centuries.
It was Paul's zeal for God and his cause that made him a persecutor, and not his love for persecution itself, – nor any brutal desires that gloried in the sufferings of others. His impulse was duty – toward God and toward his nation; for if the false doctrines spread it meant to him a spreading of opposition to both, and temporarily, at least, a frustration of the hopes of Israel – putting further off the glorious day of blessing for which all Israel had longed and hoped. Similarly we find today noble Christian people opposing the present truth in the very same spirit. It is not that they love or appreciate persecution, but that they believe they are doing God service, – that the promulgation of present truth means the shaking if not the overthrow of all the religious systems in which they trust – which they believe to be of divine origin, and through which they are hoping to bring about the Kingdom of God condition through missionary efforts, and the conversion of the world. Present truth declares all these efforts to be misdirected and futile; it points out the fall of Babylon and everything pertaining to her; it declares the establishing of God's Kingdom, and the exaltation of the royal priesthood outside of sectarian lines; ignoring sect membership, it acknowledges only "Israelites indeed," personally attached to the Redeemer. The revolution of thought, the conversion necessary now, is almost as great, and almost as difficult as was that which came to Paul and other sectarians of his nation. Let us rejoice then, if by the Lord's grace our eyes are opening to the truth; and let us have more of compassion for others who are still in the condition in which Saul of Tarsus was when he persecuted those of "this way."
The light which shone about Saul and those who went with him, was evidently a supernatural one, because the time of the manifestation was about noon (Acts 22:6) and the light was far brighter than that of the sun which at the same time, no doubt, was shining with great brightness, as is general in that country. The phenomenon was seen by the entire band, but its special features were known only to Saul; the others saw something of the light but they saw not the vision which Saul saw representing the Son of Man in his glorified condition. The others heard a sound but did not distinguish the words which Saul heard. All fell to the ground, but all apparently were able to rise again and to stand wondering, except Saul whose eyes were seriously injured so that he was blind. Similarly Stephen saw a vision while those who were near him saw nothing: similarly John saw the dove descending upon Jesus while the others about saw nothing: similarly Jesus heard certain words of the Father while the multitude said it thundered. It is even mentioned here that the voice spoke in the Hebrew tongue: whereas those who were with Saul probably spoke in the Syriac or the Greek language.
Saul's astonished answer was, "Who art thou Lord?" This was the entire difficulty, he did not know the Lord; and as our Master himself declared, this lack of knowledge of the Son implied a lack of correct knowledge of the Father. We have his further explanation that however others in the past might have known something about God, they could never really know him, in the sense of personal acquaintance and appreciation of his character and spirit, except through the Son – a part of whose object in coming was to reveal the Father. So we might say of all who have persecuted the body of Christ, even when they did it ignorantly, it was because they did not know Jesus – because they had not received of his spirit in sufficient measure. Let us beware that no such spirit of persecution finds any sympathy or lodgment in our hearts, or any expression in our words or deeds. This will not mean, however, that we shall never offer criticism either of persons or doctrines; nor that we shall never reprove or rebuke and that publicly (2 Tim. 4:2); but it surely does mean that our reproving and rebuking, of teachings and of teachers, shall be done from a Scriptural standpoint – giving reasons, giving them plainly but without bitterness, without harshness, without unkindness in any degree.
The statement, "And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" quite probably well explains Paul's condition of body and mind at the time; but these words are not found in the ancient Greek manuscripts: likewise the words, "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks," are omitted.
For three days Saul neither ate nor drank, and was totally blind. What a season for reflection! [R2969 : page 78] What a humiliation to think that he had fought against the truth! What prayers for forgiveness, and what pledges of consecration to Jesus, we may imagine filled his heart during those days! Unquestionably it was a time of good resolution as respected the future, if peradventure, the Lord would graciously forgive him and grant an opportunity to retrieve the past. He had a dream, too, and in it he beheld a man anointing his eyes, restoring his sight. On the fourth day a man, a poor and humble disciple of Jesus, named Ananias, came, not without fear, to visit Saul; – knowing him by reputation, as an enemy of all who believed in "this way;" knowing that he was lodged in the house of one who was not a friend of the truth, but assured of the Lord that Saul was praying and would welcome him, having been informed in a vision: Ananias when sent of the Lord courageously did his part.
There is a lesson here for all of us; the Lord did not send one of the Apostles from Jerusalem, nor [R2970 : page 78] was Ananias one of the elders or deacons, as far as we know; but he was a plain, humble, obedient disciple, "A broken and emptied vessel, for the Master's use made meet." Let all of the Lord's dear people be similarly filled with the Lord's spirit, and on the alert; emptied of self, feeling their own brokenness and littleness, let them be ready and anxious to do God's service; that they may be used of him as opportunity shall occur. What a blessing must have come to Ananias in connection with his service! Ever afterward he could think how he had been a humble instrument in the Lord's hands in carrying a blessing to one who subsequently became such a noble servant of the cross of Christ. Likewise some of the Lord's faithful ones in recent times have taken the Lord's message either by word or tract or pamphlet, and have opened the eyes of some who subsequently have become mighty for the truth and for the pulling down of the strongholds of error. What a rejoicing such have had in the privileges of their service! We know not which will prosper, this or that, therefore let us diligently use every opportunity as it may come to us; praying the while for much wisdom and grace and many opportunities for service.
The Lord's foreknowledge is clearly displayed in verses 15,16; he knew Saul – knew of his honesty and of his zeal; – he knew that this honesty and zeal as soon as they should be rightly directed would make just such an instrument for his service as he desired to use. The Apostle Paul recognized this himself, and even traces divine providence so far back as his birth, declaring that the Lord had chosen him from his mother's womb. He could see in the light of subsequent events how all of his affairs, from earliest childhood, had been tending in a favorable direction to prepare him for his work of ministry, as an apostle; – and even his experiences as a persecutor proved profitable, for they humbled his estimate of himself and undoubtedly gave him a larger degree of sympathy for those suffering from a similar blindness, increasing his helpfulness toward them. This does not signify, however, that God had predetermined that Paul should have a place in the Kingdom: that he determined for himself, – making his calling and election sure by faith and obedience. The Lord providentially guided his steps in childhood and youth, so that he learned certain lessons, and gained certain preparations which might be useful in due time; and in due time he opened the eyes of his understanding, knowing well what would be his own choice thereafter. Nevertheless, this same Apostle declares that even after having preached the gospel to others, he, himself, might have become a castaway; – having borne the Lord's name before the Gentiles and Israelites and kings, and having suffered great things for the Lord's name's sake, he might still fail to maintain, faithfully to the end, the character of an overcomer, and thus fail to become a joint-heir with his Lord.
Ananias coming to Saul introduced himself beautifully – he had the Lord's spirit: he was glad to know Saul as a brother; glad to forget that he had been a persecutor of the Church; he did not upbraid him; he did not say, You deserve eternal torment; nor You deserve a cowhiding; – he made no unkind allusion to the past, but addressed him on the contrary in the light of the information the Lord had given him, saying, "Brother Saul." There is a beautiful lesson here for many of the Lord's people who seem more disposed to chide and upbraid than to commend and rejoice with former persecutors: this is one of the necessary lessons to be learned by all – it is an evidence of the indwelling of the spirit of Christ, the spirit of love, parts of which are brotherly kindness, gentleness, meekness.
Great scales fell from Saul's eyes, and a measure of natural sight was restored; but oh, how much greater was the spiritual sight which he received, – the illumination of his heart, his mind! The darkness and obscurity of tradition upon the Law and the Prophets were now largely dissipated, because he saw Jesus – Jesus as the Redeemer suffering death for the sins of the whole world; – Jesus glorified, directing the election of the Church, his members, his body, his joint-heirs, – and who were, by and by, to be with Jesus the Messiah in glory and majesty to bless, to restore, to uplift Israel and all the families of the earth. True, the evidences are that Paul never fully recovered his eyesight; and he likewise testifies that his spiritual sight never reached perfection, saying, "Now, we see through a glass obscurely, then, face to face."
Having taken his stand for Christ, he acknowledged him in the usual way, by baptism, and not by joining a sectarian system. He joined the body of Christ, and thus became a fellow-member with all who are joined to Christ, the one Head of the one body. Immediately he met with the Lord's people; he was no longer ashamed of them; he could not now do too much for them; any honor and dignity which were his by virtue of his birth, and wealth, and Roman citizenship, were none too good to be sacrificed for the Lord, and having learned that in persecuting the Lord's people he persecuted the Lord himself, so he now understood that in meeting with the Lord's people and honoring them, he was meeting with and honoring the Lord. Forthwith he preached Jesus. He preached him as the Son of God, the one in whom the prophecies of the past were being fulfilled, the Messiah who had redeemed, and who in [R2970 : page 79] God's due time would deliver Israel and the world from the bondage of Satan – sin and death.
This is from Peter's discourse shortly after the day of Pentecost; his words were doubtless in some degree prophecies; they point down to the second coming of our Lord – though Peter may not have comprehended how far distant that event would be. The exhortation to be converted to the Lord was delivered to the Jews who were already his typical people, in covenant relationship, but who needed now to accept the conditions of the New Covenant and to make a corresponding change in their lives – from membership in the house of servants, to membership in the house of sons – from being amongst those for whom atonement sacrifices were made year by year continually, which could never take away sin, to be of those accepting the one sacrifice of Christ and its redeeming merit, – to trust for a present covering for their sins, through faith in the precious blood, and to hope for an ultimate blotting out of them at the second coming of the Lord, as the text declares.
So long as the believer is blemished physically, mentally, morally, by sin, so long he has the evidence that his sins are not blotted out. He may, nevertheless, rejoice greatly as the prophet indicates, saying "Blessed is the man whose sins are covered," but he should look forward longingly to the time when every evidence of the sin, every mark of guilt, will be so completely blotted out as to need no further covering. This to the saints of the gospel age will occur at the second coming of Christ, when they shall be "changed," in an instant, receiving the new spiritual bodies which the Lord has promised them in the first resurrection. To the world this blotting out of sins will come gradually, during the Millennial age. In proportion as each being comes into full harmony with the great Prophet, Priest and King then reigning, each will gradually experience the blessings of restitution – eliminating all traces of evil and sin, and restoring gradually to the original perfection lost in Adam, redeemed by Jesus, and restored by the blotting out of sins under the ministry of his Kingdom.
Dear Editor: –
For some time I have been somewhat puzzled over the present and future problem of the Children of Ham. Our progenitors paid but little or no attention to the study of the "Times of Restitution of all Things" and a "Ransom for all to be testified in due time." And looking at the matter as I do, past, present and future, I must with sorrow confess that the problem, as it now stands, presents one of the darkest pictures known to the Children of Ham. The sons of Japheth have sent out their pilgrim sons all over the United States and in portions of Great Britain. But the poor African race of the United States takes no part in that precious work of trying to set forth or send out her colored pilgrims to work among their own race.
What would be the chance of putting a few colored pilgrims in the field to travel in Texas and other states? It is the opinion of several of my colored brethren of Texas that such a plan, if rightly carried into effect, would do much good in opening the blinded eyes of our colored brethren and friends.
Now Brother, I do not wish to be misunderstood in my request as advocating a division or color line between the white and colored brethren: we want no color division; but, what we do want is to stand together to work up some plan that they may be an aid in this good work of harvest and present truth.
My Dear Brother, I have read the five volumes of Millennial Dawn, and have been studying them for nearly three years with their charts, etc. I have been a minister many years. Pray for us all.
[We are not aware that there are many groups of negro brethren, interested in present truth, altho we have had four offers like the above quite recently. If there are such, they are as welcome as the whites – proportionately to their numbers and intelligent interest – and they should send the Pilgrim-request postal cards mentioned in Jan. 15 issue, page 2, stating that they are colored. Thus we will know and be able to judge. – Ed.]
Dear Friends: – Enclosed you will find order. I wish I could do more, but the dear Lord knows all about it. The Dawns have been such a help to me that I long to have others receive the light on God's word. It is truly a Lamp unto my feet and a Light unto my path, and the path is shining more and more unto the perfect day. The last two years have been wonderful years to me. For years I had a great longing in my heart to have the "eyes of my understanding enlightened," that things which were such a mystery to me might be made plain; and I praise God for answering prayer, through dear Bro. Russell. I would not trespass upon your valuable time in telling in detail how I came into present truth. Suffice it to say, it was through a minister from your own city denouncing the Watch Tower Society. Very soon after a friend asked me if I had ever read the Dawns. I said, "No." As soon as I saw the title, I said, "I want to read them." Oh, how I praise my God for his wonderful leadings! I am reading them over the tenth time, and every time I understand God's words better! and if he needs me I trust by and by to give out some at least of the precious meat now due.
May you increase more and more until the door is shut, is my prayer. I long for the other volumes, but perhaps I have enough to feed upon a little while longer.
Dear Brother Russell: –
I cannot tell how much I am indebted to you for the marvelous light I have received from reading your publications. The whole system of the Christian religion has been transformed to my view, so much so that the common manner of preaching is neither interesting nor helpful. And I feel to pity the ministers because they don't understand and are not willing to learn the truth. I do not condemn them, for my own life is not what I would it should be, either in faith, knowledge, or works; and yet I praise God that through your instrumentality, he has helped me to see some of the riches of his grace toward fallen humanity. I pray that you and your co-workers may be supplied with every needed good, spiritual and temporal, and continue to make you a blessing to as many as may be privileged to hear or read your doctrine, restraining you from every error and unveiling to you every truth.
|VOL. XXIII.||MARCH 15, 1902.||No. 6.|
|Truth "Wounded in the House of its Friends"||83|
|The Parousia of our Lord Jesus and|
|His Subsequent Apokalupsis and|
|Epiphania at His Second Advent||85|
|For What are We Watching?||85|
|Proofs of His Presence||88|
|Israel's Experiences were Prophetic||90|
|The Jubilee Prophecy||90|
|"Behold the Bridegroom"||91|
|Presence Gradually Revealed||92|
|"Cometh not with Observation"||93|
|"Knew not the Time of Their Visitation"||94|
'I will stand upon my watch, and set my foot upon the Tower, and will watch to see what He shall say unto me, and what answer I shall make to them that oppose me.' Hab. 2:1
Upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity: the sea and the waves (the restless, discontented) roaring: men's hearts failing them for fear and for looking forward to the things coming upon the earth (society): for the powers of the heavens (ecclestiasticism) shall be shaken. . . .When ye see these things come to pass, then know that the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Look up, lift up your heads, rejoice, for your redemption draweth nigh. – Luke 21:25-28, 32.
It stands free from all parties, sects and creeds of men, while it seeks more and more to bring its every utterance into fullest subjection to the will of God in Christ, as expressed in the Holy Scriptures. It is thus free to declare boldly whatsoever the Lord hath spoken; – according to the divine wisdom granted unto us, to understand. Its attitude is not dogmatical, but confident; for we know whereof we affirm, treading with implicit faith upon the sure promises of God. It is held as a trust, to be used only in his service; hence our decisions relative to what may and what may not appear in its columns must be according to our judgment of his good pleasure, the teaching of his Word, for the upbuilding of his people in grace and knowledge. And we not only invite but urge our readers to prove all its utterances by the infallible Word to which reference is constantly made, to facilitate such testing.
Those of the interested who, by reason of old age, or other infirmity or adversity, are unable to pay for the TOWER, will be supplied FREE, if they send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper. We are not only willing, but anxious, that all such be on our list continually.
We are preparing a very large edition of this issue, and tender free to each reader as many copies for his friends as he may see fit to order. We trust that as a result of your efforts and ours, under the Lord's guidance, many will read this paper carefully and prayerfully, and receive therefrom a blessing. All such will surely feel a hunger and thirst for more, and we are glad to announce that we have more spiritual food for them; prepared, we trust, under the divine direction and out of divinely prepared ingredients – "meat in due season for the household of faith." We will be glad to have all such as subscribers to this journal, – free, if unable to pay; but we urge upon all as of still greater importance, the reading of the five volumes of the MILLENNIAL DAWN series; "The Plan of the Ages," "The Time Is at Hand," "Thy Kingdom Come," "The Day of Vengeance," "The At-one-ment Between God and Man." These are advertised in the adjoining column. The prices are extremely low – 25c per volume, postpaid. No other books of the kind are sold at the price. Nevertheless, for those who hunger for the truth, and who have not the wherewithal to purchase, we are glad to offer the loan of these books free, one volume at a time, on application. Do not delay! Write to us at once, for our encouragement and for your profit.
The chiefest service we could commend, open to all who are unencumbered and in active use of their faculties, is the colporteur work. It is an honorable form of ministering the truth from house to house, as the apostles served. It is a service which the Lord seems to have blessed as much or more than any other for gathering the "wheat." It is apparent at once to all that to sell such books as the Dawns at 25 cents each, cannot be for money-making; that it is merely another way of preaching the truth. No other religious books are sold at any such price. Indeed few subscription books sell for less than two to three dollars each. Any who can serve in this work are invited to write to us for "Hints to Colporteurs."
VOL. I., The Plan of the Ages, gives an outline of the divine plan revealed in the Bible, relating to man's redemption and restitution: 358 pages, paper bound 25c. (1s.), postpaid; in embossed cloth 35c. (1s.6d.), plus postage 10c. (4d.).
VOL. II., The Time is at Hand, treats of the manner and time of the Lord's second coming, considering the Bible testimony on this subject: 370 pages, paper bound 25c. (1s.), postpaid; in embossed cloth 35c. (1s.6d.), postage 10c. (4d.).
VOL. III., Thy Kingdom Come, considers prophecies which mark events connected with the "Time of the End," the glorification of the Church and the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom; it also contains a chapter on the Great Pyramid, showing its corroboration of the dates and other teachings of the Bible: 384 pages, paper bound 25c. (1s.), postpaid; in embossed cloth 35c. (1s.6d.), plus postage 10c. (4d.).
VOL. IV., The Day of Vengeance, shows that the dissolution of the present order of things is in progress, and that all the panaceas offered are valueless to avert the predicted end. It marks in these events the fulfilment of prophecy, noting specially our Lord's great prophecy of Matt. 24, and Zech. 14:1-9: 660 pp., paper 25c, postpaid; in embossed cloth 35c. (1s.6d.), plus postage 10c. (4d.).
VOL. V., The At-one-ment Between God and Man, treats an all-important subject, – the hub, the center around which all the features of divine grace revolve. Its topic deserves the most careful and prayerful consideration on the part of all true Christians: 507 pages, paper bound 25c. (1s.) postpaid; in embossed cloth 35c. (1s.6d.), postage 10c. (4d.).
MILLENNIAL DAWN is published in foreign languages as follows: in German, four vols.; in Swedish, three vols.; in Dano-Norwegian, two vols.; in French, one vol.; bound in cloth and paper, uniform with the English edition, prices the same.
IN PAPER, 12½c. (6d.) per copy, by express or freight at your charges; ten or more copies in one package, 10c. (5d.) per copy. If by mail, add 8c. per copy for postage. (In Great Britain, add 3d. for one copy, and 1d. for each additional copy included in one parcel.)
Notwithstanding the Scriptural statement that "The earth abideth forever" (Eccl. 1:4), all the creeds of Christendom take the same view of this subject that is entertained by our Second Adventist friends; except that the latter expect the burning of the world soon, while the majority of Christendom presume that it will be in the remote future. We do not charge intentional misrepresentation of the divine plan upon any of our Christian brethren. Rather, we say, in the language of our text, that their conceptions are not God's conceptions, and their plans are not the divine plans – they have misunderstood, unintentionally, to their own detriment, the testimony of God's Word on this subject. They have read of the burning of the world, and have remembered in the same connection the account in the Lord's parable, of the burning of the "tares," and have entirely overlooked the fact that these fires are figurative and symbolical, as are the fiery trials which now try us, as God's people, and the furnaces of affliction in which, by divine permission, we have sometimes been refined. (I Pet. 4:12. Isa. 48:10.) In the brief space at our command we cannot take up this subject thoroughly and discuss every text of Scripture bearing upon it, but we will briefly call attention to one, which will serve as a key to others.
We quote from the Prophet (Zeph. 3:8): "Wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey; for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger; for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy." This is certainly as graphic a picture of the burning day as could be asked for, even by the most zealous advocates of that theory; and they consider that it is quite sufficient to overbalance the other statements of Scripture, to the effect that the "earth abideth forever." They assume, of course, that this burning day will incinerate not only the earth itself, but all of its inhabitants. But a careful reading of the Prophet's succeeding words will make clear to us that this is not the case; but that after the burning day has passed a population will still remain in the earth, and that for a blessing. We read (verse 9): "Then will I turn to the people [not consumed, but alive and capable] a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent." Who could question, in the light of this further statement by the Prophet, that the fire and devastation previously mentioned are figurative – not, however, unreal, but real in another sense, in a figurative sense, instead of in a literal sense.
This burning day, so frequently referred to in the Scriptures, will, to our understanding, be more than a twenty-four-hour day – the day of wrath will be a period of several years' duration, so far as the intensity of its burning is concerned; – a period whose burning will not entirely cease until the close of the Millennial age, by which time it shall have destroyed, root and branch, everything that is evil – everything contrary to righteousness, truth and goodness. This fire of God's jealousy or zeal for righteousness will, we understand, burn in a very natural manner as regards humanity and its affairs. In [R2971 : page 84] the present time God is letting the light of truth shine in the world marvelously; not that light only which is shining upon the path of the just, leading God's people onward to the perfect day, but a light is also being reflected now upon the path of the world, opening its eyes to human rights and prerogatives, liberties and privileges, to which formerly it was blinded through ignorance and superstition. As the light now comes in, the result is unrest; and thus the Lord seems to purpose, that the very blessings of this time, the end of this Gospel age, the very condition of things which, rightly received, should be bringing men happiness, is bringing more and more of discontent, and thus leading them step by step into the great period of anarchy which the Scriptures distinctly show will be the fire of trouble in the end of this age, which will consume church and state, religious, political and financial institutions, and reduce the whole world to a general level – "a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation." – Dan. 12:1.
This trouble is coming as the direct result of the blessings of our day, the increased enlightenment which we enjoy, and which selfishness does not permit to take its proper course and to bring proportional blessing for the world as a whole; but, rather, attempts to corral and to apportion merely to the great, the wise, the efficient, allowing the burdens of life to fall with disproportionate weight upon the masses, until the groaning creation shall not only cry out in despair, but will also arise in despair, bringing in the anarchy and disarrangement foretold, – the fire of God's jealousy, which shall consume the whole earth (society in general, in its every department). After this symbolical fire shall have consumed present institutions, on their ruins shall arise the triumphant Kingdom of God, so long foretold – the same for which the Master himself taught us to pray, "Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven." The Prophet, as we have seen, declares that then the Lord will turn unto the people "a pure language" – literally, a pure word. In the past and at present the people as a whole have been unable to discern the pure Word of God. They have heard various creeds and theories, more or less reasonable, and the effect of so many "voices" has been to them as a Babel in which they were unable to discern the voice of God. But when the promised day shall have come, and present institutions, religious as well as secular, shall have succumbed to the fierce burning wrath of the people, with all of its attendant miseries and injustices, the mists and fogs of prejudice and superstition will clear away, and the bright orb of truth will shine forth to give mankind a clearer and a better comprehension, not only of the divine character and the divine plan, but of the rights of men, and of the proper course of action and dealing one with another. The results will be blessed, however awful will be the cup of divine wrath which the world will have drunk to its dregs previously; figuratively called "the fire of God's jealousy."
Altho, as thus seen, the fire of God's jealousy will burn itself out quickly in the close of this age, other Scriptures give us to understand that it will not entirely cease until the close of the Millennial age – that it will burn against everything that is contrary to the pure, the good, the true, the right, the just. Evil of every kind shall be burned up root and branch, so that ultimately "all the proud, yea, all that do wickedly, shall [figuratively] be as stubble and as ashes under the feet," in full subjection to the righteous, who shall then have been brought into full accord with the Lord, and have his blessing unto eternal life.
If the real object of our Lord's return could be clearly understood by all of his true people, unquestionably every sincere Christian would be longing and waiting for that event, as the glorious realization of their best hopes and desires, the one without which all others would be valueless, meaningless. The second coming of our Lord is closely related to the first advent as respects the divine plan of salvation. The entrance of sin into our world six thousand years ago (commonly called "original sin") brought to us as a race mental, [R2972 : page 84] moral and physical degeneracy (commonly called "the fall"), the culmination of which is death. According to the Scriptures this death would have been an interminable one, an everlasting one, had God not, in his mercy, provided for our succor – provided a ransom-price in the Lord Jesus and his sacrifice. This redemption provision was accomplished by our Lord at his first advent. We were "redeemed with the precious blood of Christ."
But there is a difference between our redemption and our deliverance, as there is a difference between the purchase of any article and the delivery of it. The world has been purchased with the precious blood; but the world has not been delivered; it is still laboring and heavy laden, under the curse, under original sin, under its weights and difficulties and disadvantages of every kind. What is necessary now? We answer, with the Apostle, that "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God" – through whom the deliverance is yet to be accomplished. (Rom. 8:19-22.) And when will these sons of God be manifested? The answer is that these sons of God are the elect Church of this Gospel age, who in the present time are being tried and tested; not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit, according to their will, their desires of heart. These sons of God are such as, after the Lord's disciplines and chastenings are passed, will be found in heart "copies of God's dear Son," however imperfect they may still be respecting their flesh. These are to be the first who will experience deliverance at the second coming of the Lord. They are variously designated in the Scriptures as "the royal priesthood," under the great high priest; as the members of the body of Christ, under Jesus, as their Head; as the "Bride, the Lamb's Wife." These are the "Jewels," whose number the Lord is to make up in the first resurrection, who shall be his, and joint-heirs with him in the Kingdom. It is for the manifestation of these that the world is waiting, as the Apostle declares, – "waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God," and they will not be manifested until the second advent of their Master. "When he shall appear, we also shall appear with him in glory." We see, then, that so far as the Church is concerned she is waiting for the completion of the elect number which constitutes her membership – in all, "a little flock," to whom it is the Father's good pleasure to give the Kingdom. (Luke 12:32.) We see also that the world of mankind, altho redeemed, must wait still longer – a little longer; for it will not be long after the elect Church shall have been glorified with their Lord, and become his joint-heirs in his Kingdom, until they, with him, as the Sun of Righteousness, shall shine forth with healing in his beams, to bless the world, to scatter its night, to dispel its fogs of superstition and its miasms of error.
From this standpoint it will be seen that the second coming of Christ means, not only the blessing of the Lord's faithful in the First Resurrection, but the blessing of all the families of the earth, even as the Lord promised to father Abraham, saying, "In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." The great mass of mankind have gone down into the prison-house of death unblessed – ignorant of God and of the only name given under heaven or amongst men whereby they must be saved. Even of those who are now living, only a small fraction have ever heard of the great Redeemer and of the great redemption which he has already accomplished in the sacrifice of himself, and of the great deliverance which he is about to effect, through the establishment of his Kingdom of righteousness, and the subjugation of evil and sin, and the binding of Satan. Not only the living nations, to earth's remotest bound, must all know, that the Year of Jubilee has come, returning ransomed sinners home, but all those who have gone down into death, the great prison-house which now contains approximately fifty thousand millions of our race – all these also must hear the good tidings, for it is to be, according to the angel's promise, "Good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people." It is to be, according to the promise made to Abraham, a blessing "to all the families of the earth." Thank God for the redemptive feature of his plan; and thanks also to him for the deliverance feature, shortly to be effected, even tho the introduction of that deliverance be accompanied by a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation – a time of fiery indignation which shall eventually devour all the adversaries of righteousness, and bring in that blessed condition respecting which we are assured that every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess, to the glory of God – the disobedient and unwilling being destroyed in the Second Death, from which there will be no recovery. – Isa. 45:23; Phil. 2:10; Acts 3:19-23; 2 Thess. 1:9.
This, the only logical interpretation of our Lord's exhortation, is fully corroborated by several of the apostles. The Apostle Paul urges us, saying: "Yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night; for when they [the world, unbelievers] shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief" (I Thes. 5:2-4); because, being children of the light ye, brethren, will be watching and be enlightened and taught of the Lord. The Apostle Peter suggests the means by which the Lord will teach us, and informs us respecting our location upon the path of "the just which shineth more and more unto the perfect day." He shows that it will not be by miraculous revelations, nor by dreams; but through the Word of testimony, the Bible. He says, "We have a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light which shineth in a dark place, until the Day dawn, and the Day-star arise in your hearts." – 2 Pet. 1:19.
The united testimony of these Scriptures teaches us that, altho it was neither proper nor possible for the Lord's people to know in advance, anything definite, respecting the exact time of the second presence of the Lord Jesus, and the establishment of his Kingdom, yet when the due time would come the faithful ones, the watchers, would be informed, – would not be left in darkness with the world. It is vain to urge, as contradicting this, our Lord's statement, "Of that day and hour knoweth no man; no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." (Mark 13:32.) Those who use this Scripture to prove to themselves and to others that no man will ever know anything respecting the time of the second advent, find it to prove too much, and thus spoil their own argument; for if it means that no man will ever know, it must similarly mean that no angel will ever know, and that the Son himself will never know. This, evidently, would be an absurd construction to place upon the passage. The Son did not know at the time he uttered this statement; the angels did not know then; and no man knew then; but the Son certainly must know of the time of his own second advent, at least a little while before it takes place; the angels also, must know a little while before it takes place; and the true children of God, the "watchers," as we have seen above, are to watch in order that they, too, may know at the proper season and not be in darkness, in ignorance, with the world; and that their watching shall be rewarded is guaranteed: – "None of the wicked shall understand; but the wise [in heavenly wisdom] shall understand." – Dan. 12:10.
This is an important question. Many of God's people have been offended, "stumbled," as respects the doctrine of the second coming of our dear Redeemer, by reason of peculiar, extravagant, unreasonable, illogical and unscriptural views on the subject, presented by some, who professedly love the Lord's appearing, known as Second Adventists. But this is all wrong; we are not to reject one of the grandest and most prominent doctrines of the Scripture, simply because some fellow-Christians have erred egregiously respecting the matter, and brought a certain amount of worldlywise contempt upon everything connected with this subject. On the contrary, this doctrine, as a glorious gem, should be given the first place [R2973 : page 85] among the precious jewels of divine truth, where it can cast its halo and splendor and brilliancy over all connected and related promises and blessings. It should not be left in the imperfect setting which hides its glory and beauty, but should be recovered, remounted, set in its true place, to the glory of God and to the blessing of all who are sincerely and truly his people.
We need offer no apology for the interest which we feel in this grand subject, which is the center upon which all the testimony of divine grace, through all the holy prophets, is focused. Rather do they need to apologize who, knowing that next to the doctrine of the atonement for sin, the second coming of the Lord and the resurrection of the dead hold the most important places in the Scriptures, have nevertheless neglected this, while they have quarreled, skirmished, fought and bled over trifling things of no real importance, doctrinally or otherwise.
Our watching is to be for the second coming of him who redeemed us; who said, "If I go, I will come again and receive you unto myself." The watching is to be specially with the thought that our Lord Jesus comes at his second advent, in the majesty and glory of the Father, King of kings and Lord of lords. The watching includes not only the thought of the second presence of our Lord, as King, but it has attached to it the wonderful results which are promised to flow from the coming of the King; for the coming of the King means the coming of the Kingdom for which he taught us to pray, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven." And the coming of our Master, the King, and the establishment of this glorious Kingdom mean the fulfilment of the long-waited-for promise made to the seed of Abraham; the promise which Israel after the flesh was not found worthy to inherit; the promise for which God has been selecting the members of the Bride of Christ during this Gospel age, to be with the Lord Jesus, and his joint-heir in carrying out his beneficent provisions; the promise which is sure, but which has never yet had, in any sense of the word, a fulfilment; the promise which reads, "In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed."
Watching implies hoping, and it also implies waiting. We are waiting for what the Apostle terms "that blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ," who shall transform his Church to his own spiritual image and likeness, in order that we ("changed") may be like him, see him as he is, and share his glory, and be associated with him in his great work of bringing in the Millennial blessings to the world of mankind. Nevertheless, this waiting time and hoping time is a time of more or less tribulation, not only on the world, which still lies under the yoke of sin, and under the blinding influences of Satan, but also to the waiting, hoping and watching Church, of whom the Apostle says, "We ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the deliverance [from death] of our body" – the body of Christ, of which we are members in particular. – Rom. 8:23.
Our watching consists not in looking up into the sky, – "stargazing;" for those who study the Lord's Word to any purpose soon learn that "the day of the Lord so cometh as [like] a thief in the night," and that its dawning cannot be discerned with the natural eye. If the Lord's people could discern anything by watching the sky with their natural eyes, could not the world discern the same thing? If the second advent of our Lord were to be an open, outward manifestation, would not the world know of it just as soon as the saints, the watchers? In such event it could not be true that the day of the Lord should come as a thief, as a snare, unawares, upon the world, while the Church would have foreknowledge thereof – not be left in darkness. – I Thes. 5:2-4.
We are to watch the signs of the times, in the light of the Lord's Word, our lamp; as the apostle declares, "We have a more sure Word of prophecy,...as a light shining in a dark place, – until the Day dawn." The Gospel age has been a [R2973 : page 86] night-time; and the Lord's people have been waiting for the dawn of the Millennial morning, with the promise ringing in their ears, "God will help her [the Church], and that right early [in the morning]." (Psa. 46:5.) The Word of the Lord, through the prophets, has been the lamplight all through this Gospel age, upon the Church's pathway; as the Lord expressed it through the Prophet David, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, a lantern unto my footsteps." (Psa. 119:105.) The lamp of the truth of revelation has guided all the faithful, watchful pilgrims in their journey toward the Celestial City – the Heavenly Kingdom. Oh, what a comfort it has been, and how dreary would have been our pilgrimage without it!
Those who have taken heed to the landmarks, pointed out by the Lord through Daniel and Isaiah and Jeremiah and all the holy prophets, realize that we have come already a much longer journey than was expected by the Church when first she started out; but we realize also from these landmarks, that we have approached very close to the end of the journey; very near to the time when the great blessing, for which God's people have so long waited and prayed, is at hand. For instance, the Watchers have noted the Lord's testimony through the Prophet Daniel that "the time of the end" would be a period of time (more than a century), and that in this "time of the end" there would be a great increase of travel, running to and fro throughout the earth, and a great increase of general intelligence, increased knowledge, as it is written, "in the time of the end many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." – Dan. 12:4.
Watching carefully respecting our whereabouts, hopeful and solicitous respecting the gracious things which God has promised, none of the Watchers is indifferent to these fulfilments of prophecy, which are to be seen on every hand today. All men discern these things, but not all alike: the faithful, the Watchers, discern them not only as facts, but also as fulfilments of prophecy; as proofs that we are already in the period termed "the time of the end." Further investigations and applications of the prophetic measurements prove to the watchers that we have been in "the time of the end" since 1799, and that it is also termed "the day of his [Jehovah's] preparation." Looking about them, they see the preparation that Jehovah God is making for the Kingdom of his dear Son. They see the lifting of the curtain of ignorance, and the letting in of the light, and that thus God is using mankind at the present time to make ready, in a natural way, the mechanical and other arrangements and conveniences which ultimately shall be so great blessings to the world; – when the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his beams, and the Millennial Day shall be ushered in, with all its multiplied blessings and mercies and opportunities; – "the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." – Acts 3:21.
Watching intently, earnestly, interestedly, because they know of the good things God hath in reservation (I Cor. 2:9-13; I Pet. 1:4), the Watchers note that Daniel's prophecy further points out that, as the increase of travel brings the increase of knowledge, so the increase of knowledge will bring an increase of discontent to the world of mankind in general; and the result will be, as prophetically stated, that "there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation." The Watchers, seeking to note whether these things have yet had a fulfilment or not, look about them and behold on every hand discontent, unhappiness; much more than when the world enjoyed far fewer of the mercies and blessings of heaven. These latter day gifts of Providence (preparations for the Millennial age), instead of provoking thankfulness, gratitude and love to God, and generosity to man, produce in unregenerate hearts ambition, greater avarice, selfishness, envy, hatred, strife, and other works of the flesh and of the devil. Yes; the Watchers can clearly discern the approach of the great climax of human trouble, in which the Scriptures distinctly declare that all the present human institutions shall go down in anarchy, in confusion, in chaos. But the Watchers do not lose sight of God and his providence. They see that the approaching social and ecclesiastical catastrophe will be the natural result of the operation of selfishness under highly favored conditions; nevertheless, they remember that God is at the helm, and that he is able to cause the wrath of man to praise him, and the remainder of man's wrath (which would not praise him) he will restrain. – Psa. 76:10.
The Watchers look not merely at the outward signs, as seen in the world. They scrutinize carefully and repeatedly their "chart," the Bible's prophetic outline of the world's history furnished by the King himself. It is because they see the time of trouble outlined in the prophetic chart that they know that it is sure to come, and are able in advance of others to "discern the signs of the times," and not to be in darkness respecting the "things to come." It was in respect to this that the Lord promised the Watchers that the holy spirit should guide them into all truth, as each feature became due, and would show them things to come – future things – in advance of the world's knowledge, and in advance of the facts themselves. (John 16:13.) But the same chart which shows the downfall of all earthly institutions, political, social and ecclesiastical, shows also that their fall is so timed in the great plan of Jehovah that it shall be the very hour in which he will establish his kingdom in the hands of the elect Church (who then shall be a royal priesthood glorified, – priests upon their [R2974 : page 86] thrones, – the religious as well as the civil rulers of the world), whose exaltation shall be to the glory of God and to the blessing of every creature.
The Watchers remember well that the King gave them an outline of the history of the Gospel age at the very time that he told them to watch; intimating to them that they were to watch for the things which he therein noted. The Watchers are those who are in harmony with the King, and who have respect to his promise, and they, therefore, do not neglect the words which he spoke. And as they note this very prophecy in connection with which he tells them to watch, they see in it clearly that the day of the Lord will be ushered in at the close of this Gospel age, secretly, quietly, unobtrusively, "as a thief in the night," – unawares to the world, and known only to the Watchers.
Because not heedless, careless, indifferent servants of the King, but faithful and earnest ones, the Watchers have scrutinized every little particular which fell from the lips of him who spake as never man spake; and all the messages which he has sent them through his faithful apostles and prophets. And discriminating carefully, they discern that there are three words of distinctly different signification, used in respect to the Lord's second advent; namely, parousia and epiphania and apokalupsis. Parousia is used in respect to the earliest stage of the second advent, while apokalupsis relates to the same advent later; – not that apokalupsis and epiphania relate to another, or a third advent, but merely to a later feature of the second advent. These Greek words, it is true, are somewhat obscure or hidden in the Common Version of the Bible, and undoubtedly for a purpose. The Lord's purpose evidently was to keep the world and the wicked in ignorance of his gracious plan until his due time; nor did he wish the particulars to be understood by the Watchers until near the time of the fulfilment. But now we are "in the time of the end," in "the day of his preparation," in the time in which it was foretold that then "the wise [not the worldlywise, but the humble Watchers who are wise enough to take heed to the Word of the Lord] shall understand." (Dan. 12:10.) And hence, since many of the Watchers are not Greek scholars, God has made gracious provision through valuable helps (such as Young's Analytical Concordance and the Emphatic Diaglott), so that the very humblest of his people may have a clear and discriminate understanding of the meaning of certain features of his Word which, hitherto, have been kept hidden under imperfect translations; and these matters God himself has been bringing to the attention of his people, through MILLENNIAL DAWN, ZION'S WATCH TOWER, and the OLD THEOLOGY TRACTS. The Watchers all over the world are being reached by these "Helping Hands for Bible Students," which the Lord himself is extending to them.
By these helps, the Watchers are rapidly coming to see that the word "parousia," in our Common Version translated "coming," does not mean what our English word signifies; namely, to be on the way, approaching; but that on the contrary it signifies presence, as of one who has already arrived. The Watchers note also that the Scriptures predicate certain things respecting the Lord, and respecting his parousia [R2974 : page 87] (his presence) which clearly intimate that he will be present and doing his work, his great work (of setting up his Kingdom and smiting the nations with the sword of his mouth) wholly unknown to the world, – as a thief in the night. The Watchers also notice that the Scriptures clearly indicate that after the Lord has done certain things during his presence (parousia) and unknown to the world, he will later make a manifestation of his presence; – a manifestation which will be discerned by all mankind: and this outward manifestation is designated his "epiphania" which signifies "shining forth" or "bright shining."
The Watchers keep separate these two thoughts (presence and manifestation) respecting the Lord's second coming; that altho really present a spirit being (like the angels who, we are told, encamp round about them that fear God and deliver them, and who are "all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation," and whose ministry is an invisible one) our Lord, now a glorious spirit being, of the divine nature, will not be manifest to the natural eye during his presence – his parousia. – Psa. 34:7; Heb. 1:14. Hence the necessity that the Lord's faithful ones shall "watch," because they, no more than the world, can discern a spirit being with their natural eyes. The Watchers in due time are to discern the presence (parousia) of their Lord by the eye of faith. The sleepless eye of faith will in due time take note of the "sign of the Son of Man," – the indications of the presence of the King.
During the period of the parousia (presence) preceding the epiphania (shining forth) a certain work will be accomplished, unknown to the world, unknown to the nominal Church, known only to the Watchers. Ah, how important to us the words of our Master, exhorting us to be Watchers! And, by the way, this watching includes a watching of our own hearts as well as of the Lord's Word and the outward signs – to insure our worthiness to be continued in the light, and under the instructions of the great Teacher. "If any man have not the spirit of Christ he is none of his;" therefore if any man lose the spirit of Christ he ceases to be his; and hence we all need to "watch" that we may, as the Scriptures direct, "Keep our garments unspotted from the world;" and "keep ourselves in the love of God, while looking for the grace [aid] of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is able to keep us from falling and to present us faultless in the presence of his glory with exceeding joy." (Jude 21,24). For whoever has the spirit of Christ may be a Watcher, and as a Watcher may know of the gracious things connected with the great "salvation which shall be brought unto us at the revelation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ;" but whoever ceases to have the spirit of Christ must, of necessity, cease also to be a Watcher, and shall be in ignorance of the things of the day of the Lord, like the world, of which he would then probably be a part.
As the light by which the eye of faith may discern the parousia, we have the "more sure word of prophecy to which we do well to take heed." It has shone upon the pathway of the Watchers all along through this night; but now its various prophetic rays have focussed and clearly indicate that we are already living "in the days of the Son of Man," while, as he expressly foretold, the world in general goes on as usual, in utter ignorance of his presence and of his harvest work and of the beginning of the Day of the Lord; it continues as usual – eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, planting and building. It is a mistake to suppose that our Lord, in giving this information respecting the events of the time of his presence, meant us to understand that it would be wicked for the world to eat, drink, plant, build and marry; these are not improper things, and any such interpretation is strained and faulty, and results from an utter misconception of the subject. Our Lord wished merely to show that the world would be in ignorance of his presence "in the days of the Son of Man," and in utter ignorance of the great time of trouble, or "Day of Vengeance" which the inauguration of his Kingdom will signify to the kingdoms of this world, which are to be dashed to pieces as potters' vessels. The ignorance of the impending trouble here will be similar to that of the people who lived in the days of Noah. "As it was in the days of Noah, so also shall it be in the days of the Son of Man." – Luke 17:26.
As "the days of Noah" were not days before Noah's time, neither are "the days of the Son of Man" days before the Son of Man's presence. The days of the Son of Man are the days of his parousia, or presence, – invisible and unknown to the world; known only to the Watchers and seen by them only with the eye of faith. "As in the days that were before the flood they were eating, drinking, marrying,...and knew not,... so shall also the [parousia] (presence) of the Son of Man be:" – the world will simply go on about its usual affairs, and know not of the Lord's presence. – Matt. 24:38.
His work is clearly outlined in various of his parables, which were given that the Watchers might know – might not be in darkness. The parable of the wheat and the tares shows this period of the parousia (presence) preceding the epiphania (manifestation), and represents it as the "harvest" time of this age. The Son of Man sowed the good seed, and his servants followed, doing work in the field down through the age; finally the end of the age comes when the full crop of wheat is ripe, and then the harvest is reaped. The parable shows the separation of the two classes of the nominal church during the "harvest." For be it noted that the wheat-field is not the entire world, but merely the professedly Christian part of the world – Christendom: much of the field is not yet sown. And the parable relates only to the wheat-field, and particularly to the wheat. The tares (spurious Christians) are dealt with only incidentally. The tares choke the wheat, yet, nevertheless, the Master will obtain a sufficiently large crop, for – "All his purposes shall be accomplished."
The separation of the tares from the wheat, and the gathering of the wheat into the garner of heavenly conditions, precedes the work of cleansing the wheat-field of its symbolic tares [R2975 : page 87] by symbolic "fire;" and this entire harvest work is to take place during the parousia (presence) of our Lord, before his epiphania (manifestation). He is the Chief-Reaper, and all the under-reapers will work under his direction and eye; and every kernel of true symbolic "wheat" will be gathered into the glorious symbolic "garner" by resurrection and "change."
The sickle of truth will be the separating medium; and not until the separation is nearly complete and the "wheat" nearly all garnered into the glory of the heavenly nature, will the "fire," the great time of trouble mentioned by the Prophet and by our Lord, burn and consume, symbolically, all the "tares:" so that thereafter none will make false professions of being Christians while really of the world, and possessed of its spirit.
The parables of the Pounds and of the Talents cover this same period of time. In both of these the Lord represents himself as a great householder and heir to a throne, who has gone into a far country to be invested with kingly powers, and to return to use those powers. Departing, he left with his servants various riches of grace and privilege, "to every man according to his several ability," saying to them, "Occupy till I come." The return of the nobleman of the parables, unquestionably, represents the second coming of our Lord and Master. Now note the work due first to take place upon his return as King, as shown by these parables. He does not first deal with the rebellious world, – those who would not have him to rule over them; but, first calls "his own servants," and reckons with them – rejecting some from further service because of unfaithfulness, and accepting others to a participation in the joys of the Kingdom, which he at once establishes.
This reckoning with the servants signifies a reckoning with the Church first, after his return; and corresponds to the separating of the wheat and tares, in the other parable. It is comparatively easy for anyone to realize that this part of the Lord's work at his second advent is the work which precedes the epiphania or manifestation to the world. It is during this period that the Watchers are to be aware of the presence (parousia) of the Lord, and of his scrutiny, or judgment of them, which will then be in progress. Only the faithful will know, however; – only they will be "accounted worthy to stand before the Son of Man" in that judgment; – all found unworthy shall "stumble." "The wicked [and slothful servants] shall not stand in the assembly of the righteous." (See Psa. 1:5.) It is of this period of Christ's presence, and this feature of his work, that the world is to be in total ignorance, and "know not," until, having finished reckoning with his servants, and having glorified the faithful, the judgment of the world shall [R2975 : page 88] begin with "a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation." That trouble is symbolically pictured as a fire, and we are told by the Apostle that our Lord shall be revealed (apokalupto – uncovered, disclosed, made manifest) in flaming fire (judgments), taking vengeance.
All who are Watchers, all who have taken heed to "the more sure word of prophecy," including the Master's description of the events of "the days of the Son of Man," can readily discern that the world would not go on in its usual routine – eating, drinking, planting, building, marrying, etc. – if they knew of the Lord's presence, and the progress of the "harvest" of the Gospel age. If they knew of the Lord's presence, and that the reckoning with the servants had commenced, and that the next thing in order would be judgments upon themselves, they would change their usual order of affairs considerably; they would be in great trepidation; because only those who are in sympathy with the Lord and the righteous government which he is about to establish, when he shall lay judgment to the line, and justice to the plummet – only these can in any degree be ready to welcome him: all others have the spirit of fear, and are under the blinding influences and misrepresentations of Satan. "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the glorious light of the gospel of Christ...should shine unto them." Because of ignorance, therefore, the world would be in great fear, if they knew the fact of the beginning of the day of the Lord, which is to be to them the "day of vengeance."* Very evidently, therefore, this reckoning with the Church and the reward of the faithful will precede our Lord's apokalupsis, or revealing. To use one of his own figures, we might say that his day or time of presence – "the day of the Lord" – will come "as a thief in the night;" and in this time he will gather his virgin Church, discriminatingly, and take her as his Bride to himself, – changing her from earthly nature and conditions to spiritual or heavenly conditions, to be like him, see him as he is, and share his glory. And since the saints have always been "the salt of the earth," we may readily discern that the taking away of the salt of the earth would leave mankind proportionately in a deplorable condition, in which corruption would spread rapidly: and this is exactly what the Scriptures indicate.
We are not, however, to understand that the Lord will take the Church away to heaven, and then come back again, and make his epiphania or apokalupsis; for that would be a third advent, which is nowhere even hinted in Scripture. The "change" of the Church from earthly conditions and nature to heavenly, spirit conditions and nature, will be first in order; and then they twain, the Bridegroom, Christ, and the Church, his bride, thus made one in nature and in heavenly, or spirit power, will commence the work of putting down all rule and authority contrary to the divine rule; – bringing all things into subjection to the heavenly Kingdom, the Millennial Kingdom. Our Lord and his Church will not be absent from the earth during the period of the world's tribulation; but, on the contrary, will continue present, but invisible, bringing upon the world the tribulation foretold in the Scriptures, which will result in the humbling of the hearts of mankind, that they may say, eventually, "Come, let us go up to the mountain [Kingdom] of the house of the Lord, that he may teach us of his ways, that we may walk in his paths." – Isa. 2:3.
This fact is abundantly proved by the Lord's statement of what shall be the reward to the overcomers, a part of which is, "He that overcometh, and keepeth my words to the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken in pieces: even as I have received of my Father." (Rev. 2:26,27.) Again, the same matter is mentioned by the Prophet David, saying, "This honor have all his saints, – to execute the judgments written."
This, however, need not be understood to mean that none of the faithful members of the body of Christ will be in the flesh during the trouble. The majority will have gone beyond the vail – by First Resurrection change to spirit conditions; but others may remain in the flesh for a time, to serve further on this side the vail. True, our Lord has said, "Watch ye; that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass" (Luke 21:36); but we may not be too certain which way he meant we should escape; and we well know that there are two ways. We might escape by avoidance of the trouble, or by being kept from feeling its poignancy, by "grace sufficient" to enable us to rejoice in tribulation. In which ever way it may be the Father's pleasure the Lord will keep his own – out of the furnace of affliction, or in the furnace heated seven times. – Dan. 3:27.
It will doubtless surprise many to learn that there is much Scripture proof that we are already in the time of the presence (parousia) of the Son of Man, – that we are already living "in the days of the Son of Man." At first some will be inclined to say, "Where is the promise of his (parousia) presence, while all things continue as they were from the beginning?" Peter foretold that some would thus question, being surprised at the information that we are living in the days of the Son of Man, while there is as yet no outward manifestation of his presence, but the affairs of the world continue in their ordinary channels. (2 Pet. 3:4.) The answer to the question is, as we have already pointed out, our Lord's own declaration that in the days of his presence the world would be eating, drinking, planting and building, and know not. That is "the promise of his presence" while "all things continue as they were." Could it be more explicit? A totally different question, however, is –
This is a reasonable inquiry. We would not be justified in believing upon any slight evidence that the Lord is present; even tho we know in advance that he is a spirit being, whose presence would be invisible without a miracle; – and even tho we know in advance, from the parables, that he will be present, but invisible, in the harvest time of this age, in the time of reckoning with his servants preparatory to their glorification. We have a right to expect clear, reasonable ground for faith, before accepting any matter which implies so much. We are not, however, to ask or to expect evidences to natural sight: if we are of the Watchers, who have "the eyes of their understanding" opened to see wonderful things in the divine Word, then these eyes of our understanding must also be the eyes of our faith. Hence, the true Watchers are to expect reasonable, satisfactory evidence for faith, and not ocular demonstrations of an invisible parousia. As the Apostle [R2976 : page 88] explains, "We walk by faith, not by sight." – Eph. 1:18; 2 Cor. 5:7.
To our understanding there are strong proofs that our Lord's parousia began in the Autumn of 1874. We have seen nothing with our natural eyes; only with the eyes of the understanding, only in the light of "the more sure word of prophecy," do we know this, which we sincerely believe and affirm, and which is important news to all who claim to be Watchers. The fact that any Watcher should have remained in ignorance of this important event for now more than twenty-seven years, would seem of itself to be an indication that he had not been properly awake to the use of his privileges and opportunities – that he had not been sufficiently watchful of the sure word of prophecy to which he was instructed to take heed; and that therefore he had been left at least partially ignorant of the important things transpiring throughout the world during these years. To this extent, many of the Lord's people have been with the world and are similarly ignorant; and yet we may reasonably assume that the Lord did not expect all of his watching servants to discern the matter at the same instant of time. True, those who saw early have had special blessing for the longer time; but, as we saw above, the preparation for the knowledge of the time lies largely in the right attitude of heart – in its humility and possession of the various graces of the spirit of Christ.
Lest we should get a misapprehension respecting this matter of the discerning the Lord's parousia, we do well to take heed to the parable of the ten virgins, which evidently was given to throw special light upon this point. That parable shows a false announcement of the arrival of the Bridegroom in 1844, which brought to the subject considerable reproach, but which, nevertheless, was of great advantage, as stirring up the "virgin" class (the pure, the consecrated) to fresh trimming of the lamp of truth – investigating the sure word of prophecy. The parable shows, also, that the "virgins" in general fell asleep; yet, nevertheless, in due time all would be reawakened by the prophetic knocking, and the knocking of the signs of the times, which would indicate the Bridegroom's [R2976 : page 89] presence. And the parable shows that the result will depend upon how much oil (holy spirit) the "virgins" may have in their vessels (in their own hearts), as well as in their lamps (the Scriptures). Applying this parable, then, we may reasonably suppose that some of the Lord's true people have temporarily fallen asleep on this subject of his second coming: and that the sleeping ones will include some who have his spirit in their hearts, and who will be fully ready to welcome the Master when they shall awake; and whose lamps will be duly trimmed and burning and ready to enable them to discern the signs of his parousia, when once their attention is brought to the subject. In harmony with this we find that many who now get awake on this subject, come into the clear light of present truth much more rapidly than did some in the past: doubtless partly because present truth can now be presented to them through the printed page more concretely than ever before. It is in the interest of this true "virgin" class that we now write: we have no desire to awaken the worldly; this knocking of the prophecies announcing the parousia is not for them; – besides, the worldly are so sound asleep that it will require the terrific crashing of present institutions, and the earthquake shakings of social revolution to awaken them thoroughly to a realization of the presence of the great Judge – Immanuel. The true Watchers, on the contrary, if they slumber at all, sleep lightly, being on the qui vive of expectancy and hope for the long-waited-for Bridegroom. We would merely whisper in the ears of this class the one word, "Parousia!" assured that all true Watchers (and the Lord alone knoweth them that are his) will be aroused by that word, and trim their lamps on the subject.
Is the question asked, – What portions of the sure word of prophecy indicate that the presence of our Lord began in the Autumn of 1874? We answer that there are several lines of prophecy which interlace and corroborate each other in this testimony; but, as might be expected, since the entire matter was to be hidden from the world, and "none of the wicked," but only the "wise" were to understand (Dan. 12:10), and these wise only to understand when the due time would come, – it must be evident to all that these prophecies, while clear and forcible and positive, are nevertheless somewhat under cover. We cannot here attempt to give a complete and comprehensive statement of these prophecies; that has already been done in five volumes aggregating twenty-three hundred pages.* Here we can only give a very brief resume, leaving it for the true Watchers to seek that they may find; to knock if they would have the door of divine revelation opened to them; to use the keys which God has provided, if they are interested in penetrating into "the deep things" of the divine Word, now due to be understood; to eat of the meat of present truth, "things new and old," if they hunger and thirst after righteousness and true knowledge.
(1) We have a number of general prophecies, indicating that we are living in about the time of the Master's second presence. We have already referred to Daniel's testimony respecting "the time of the end," in which many will run to and fro, and knowledge will be increased, and the wise understand; and later, and as a result, will follow the great time of trouble foretold. Then we have the inspired dream of Nebuchadnezzar, and its inspired interpretation by Daniel, showing the earthly governments which would bear rule over the earth; – during the interim between the overthrow of the typical Kingdom of God, whose last king to sit upon the throne of David was Zedekiah, and the installation of the true King, Immanuel, in his Millennial Kingdom glory. These different governments of earth are there pictured as a great image; Nebuchadnezzar's government, the first universal empire of earth, being represented by the head of gold; the Medo-Persian Empire, which, according to history, was the second universal empire, is there shown as the breast and arms of silver; the Grecian empire, which overthrew the Persian and became the third universal empire, is represented by the belly and thighs of brass; the Roman empire, which succeeded the Grecian and constituted itself the fourth universal empire of earth, was represented in the image by the legs of iron – strong exceedingly; and the later development of the same Roman empire, with the intermixture of papal influence, is represented in the image by the feet, which were partly iron (civil government), and partly of clay (ecclesiastical government – Papacy). These were to constitute the sum total of Gentile dominion; and "in the days of these kings" (represented by the ten toes of the image), Jehovah God himself would establish his Kingdom – the very Kingdom for which we pray, "Thy Kingdom come!"
We are all witnesses that the heavenly Kingdom has not yet come, – that we are still under the dominion of "the prince of this world" – the prince of darkness. All the efforts to prove to us that the greedy and bloody governments of Christendom, so-called, are the Kingdom for which we pray, and were taught to pray, could not prevail; we could never recognize these as Immanuel's Kingdom; they are only the kingdoms established by Antichrist, and recognized by Antichrist, and named by Antichrist "Christendom." The true Kingdom waits for establishment at the hands of him whose right it is; and he has promised that, when he sits upon his throne, all his faithful ones, the "little flock" of the Gospel age, shall sit in that throne with him, and be associates in the work and in the honor of blessing the world.
The Church is not neglected in the picture of earthly dominion given to Nebuchadnezzar, and interpreted by the Prophet Daniel. She is shown therein as a stone taken out of the mountain without hands (by divine power). This stone represents God's Kingdom (Christ and the Church); and the inspired dream and explanation show that the disaster which shall come to the kingdoms of this world, represented in the image and in the toes of its feet, would come through the impact, or smiting of the image by the stone. Daniel says: "A stone was cut out, which, without being in hands, smote the image upon his feet....Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver and the gold broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors, and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain [kingdom], and filled the whole earth." Dan. 2:34,35.
The explanation is that – "The great God hath made known to the king [and indirectly more particularly to the Watchers] what shall come to pass hereafter." "In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, and the kingdom shall not be left to other people [it shall have no successors, for the others will all be destroyed]; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever." Here is a prophecy which gives a full delineation of the empires of earth, to which God granted dominion during the interim between the removal of the typical crown from his typical kingdom, and the institution of the crown of righteousness and glory upon the true King, in the inauguration of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Even the surface evidences are that human empire has nearly run its course, and that heavenly empire is needed to deliver the world from its own selfishness. But the sure word of prophecy, if carefully scrutinized by the Watcher, reveals still more. It shows that the next universal empire will be the Kingdom of God's dear Son; and further the interesting [R2977 : page 89] fact that the total lease of power to the Gentiles is in the Scriptures known as "the times of the Gentiles;" and that these "times" are seven times, and that each of the seven times is a period of three hundred and sixty years, and that consequently the complete period of the seven times is 2520 years. Hence the Watchers may reckon that Gentile rule will terminate and Immanuel's rule be fully set up in 2520 years from the time the Lord removed the diadem from Zedekiah, saying: "Oh thou profane and wicked prince,...take off the diadem, remove the crown; I will overturn, overturn, overturn it, until he comes whose right it is, and I will give it unto him." – Ezek. 21:25-27. The period of overturning of the Lord's typical Kingdom and the removal of the crown must correspond to the period of the lease of empire to the Gentiles and be 2520 years. And measuring this period, we find that 2520 years will expire with the close of the year 1914, A.D. and consequently that by that time Gentile rule will be no more, while God's Kingdom will then hold sway.
But the scrutinizing Watcher will readily perceive that it is one thing to know the time when earthly dominion shall cease, and give place to the completed Kingdom of God, while it would be a totally different matter to know when the "stone" Kingdom would begin to smite the image upon its feet, preparatory to its destruction. This period of smiting of the image, [R2977 : page 90] which precedes its destruction, must also precede the full establishment of God's Kingdom to fill the whole earth. This smiting period is the period of the parousia; the period in which Christ is present, gathering his "jewels," his "elect," and in which he will smite the nations with the rod of iron and with the two-edged sword of his mouth, dashing them in pieces as a potter's vessel, and preparing mankind for the royal majesty of the heavens. Let the Watchers note critically the Prophet Daniel's explanation that it will be "in the days of these kings" (the kingdom represented in the feet and toes of the image – the divisions of Papal Rome) that the God of heaven will set up his Kingdom. God began the selection of his Kingdom class in the days of Civil Rome – represented by the legs of iron: he has continued the selection ever since, and the setting up or bringing of his Church (Kingdom) into power comes toward the close of Gentile power, but before it ends; for it is to be "in the days of these kings" and not after their days. Now note the similarity of the expressions "in the days of the Son of Man" and "in the days of these kings," and give both the same significance and remember that, as we have proven, they will be the same days – days before the lease of Gentile power expires, in which the Son of Man will be present to "set up" his Kingdom, which shall a little later destroy all these Gentile Kingdoms.
(2) Take another line of prophecy, concealed, and yet very simple and easy of appreciation when once the mind grasps it. The Scriptures show us that the fleshly house of Israel and all of its institutions and affairs were typical fore-shadowings of the spiritual house of Israel and its higher institutions, better sacrifices, etc. It need not, therefore, surprise us to find that the length of the Jewish age – the length of the divine favor to fleshly Israel, – was typical also, and that it gives us the exact measurement of the Gospel age, – God's dealings with, and favor toward spiritual Israel.
Jacob's name was changed to Israel, which signifies "A Prince with God," and his descendants were therefore termed Israelites – the people of the Prince with God. But the antitype of Jacob is Christ, the true Prince with God; not after the flesh, but after the spirit; and his house is spiritual Israel. Jacob's twelve sons first inherited his name and blessing, and through them it descended to all the fleshly house of Israel; Christ's twelve Apostles inherited his name and blessing, and through them it has descended to all the spiritual house of Israel. As the typical house had a high priest, Aaron, so the antitypical house has a greater high priest, Christ Jesus our Lord, the high priest of our profession. As the fleshly house had a priesthood under Aaron, so the spiritual house has "a royal priesthood" under Christ, to whom the promise is made that they shall be kings and priests unto God, who shall reign on the earth, after their present time of sacrificing is ended. So we might proceed with everything that fleshly Israel had and find its duplicate on a higher plane, in spiritual Israel, but we will not go into details here: suffice it to notice further that the Jewish age or period of fleshly Israel's favor ended with a "harvest" period of forty years. This began with our Lord's baptism, lasted three and a half years, as a national test, and when that nation was rejected at the time of our Lord's crucifixion, the harvest work proper began – a separation of the wheat from the chaff – a time of gathering out of that rejected nation such as were "Israelites indeed," previous to the great time of trouble which came upon the nation, and which utterly destroyed their national polity A.D. 70. All of this is likened to a "harvest" season, and its first garnering of the wheat, and subsequent burning of the chaff. And our Lord gives instructions to us (Matt. 13) that this Gospel age of spiritual Israel's favor will likewise end with a time of harvest, gathering the wheat together, and ultimately destroying the tares. In the harvesting of the fleshly house our Lord, in the flesh, was the Chief-Reaper, and his Apostles were co-laborers; in the harvesting of the spiritual house our Lord, a spirit being, is to be present as the Chief-Reaper, and members of the spiritual house are also to be reapers, – some on each side of the vail.
Now note the time correspondencies. The Jewish age, from the death of Jacob to the death of Christ, was 1845 years long – to the beginning of our Lord's ministry 1841½ years long, and to the time of the utter destruction of their nation, in A.D. 70, 1881½ years long. Notice how the Gospel age corresponds to this. The Gospel age did not begin with our Lord's birth: it began after our Lord's death and resurrection, when he commissioned his disciples to "preach the Gospel to every creature." (Our Lord's previous work during the three and a half years of his ministry was the offering of the Kingdom to the fleshly house, to test them, and to prove that they were unready to receive the true Kingdom.) Applying the foregoing measurements of the Jewish age to the Gospel age, beginning at the time of our Lord's death and resurrection and the Pentecostal blessing, in the Spring of A.D. 33, we find that the period of 1841½ years from the death of Jacob to the beginning of our Lord's ministry, would measure from the Spring of A.D. 33 to the Autumn of 1874; and the 1845 years of the Jewish age, from the death of Jacob to the rejection of fleshly Israel, applied here, measuring from the Spring of A.D. 33, would reach to the Spring of 1878; and the 1881½ years from the death of Jacob to the full destruction of Israel's polity in A.D. 70, finds its correspondency in this Gospel age, by measuring 1881½ years from the Spring of A.D. 33, which would bring us exactly to (Autumn) 1914 A.D. – the very year and time shown us by Daniel's prophecy to be the full end and limit of the "Gentile times." Can this be accidental? Nay; it is design. What stronger testimony could be asked by the eye and ear of faith? Surely, anything plainer or clearer would be sight, and leave no room for faith.
(3) Note another prophecy, similarly hidden in type in the Mosaic law, – Israel's Jubilee Year. No one is prepared to understand this line of prophecy who has not first learned that the second coming of our Lord is not for the purpose of destroying the world, but for the purpose of blessing it according to the promise made to Abraham, "in thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed," – with the favors lost in Adam. These will be offered to all and will be made perpetual to those who will accept them on the terms of the New Covenant. None can see any beauty or typical significance in Israel's Jubilee, who have not learned that God has provided "times of restitution of all things" which are to begin in connection with the second advent of the Redeemer. – See Acts 3:19-23.
We find that Israel's Jubilee year, in which every person and family had every lost possession and all personal liberties restored to them, was intended to be a type of the coming time of restitution, when a full opportunity for attaining freedom from sin and from Satan, and from the hereditary weakness of the flesh, shall be presented to all, and when the earth shall again revert to the human family in general, for whom it was created, and for whom, after being lost through Adam's transgression, it was redeemed by Christ. We find that the Scriptures indicate, in connection with these jubilees, a system of counting by multiples; and that a Jubilee of Jubilees, or fifty times fifty years (2500 years) constitutes a Great Jubilee cycle and that such a cycle began to count after fleshly Israel had observed her last typical Jubilee. We find from the Scriptures that Israel's nineteenth Jubilee year, – in the year B.C. 626, – was her last. Knowing that the Jubilee was a part of the Law, and that no feature of that Law, not one jot or tittle, can pass away without reaching a fulfilment, or antitype, we measure the cycle of the Great Jubilee 2500 years from the date when the last typical Jubilee was kept (626 B.C.), and find accordingly that the antitypical Jubilee or Great Jubilee of Jubilees should have begun in October, 1874. Thus, – 625 years B.C. plus 1875 years A.D. are 2500 years, which would include the Jubilee year: consequently, with the end of the year 1874 (Jewish time, October), the antitypical Jubilee of 1,000 years, instead [R2978 : page 90] of another typical one year, was due to begin.
Watchers will note carefully the correspondency of this date, and the character of the event to be expected, with the finding of our previous examinations (1 and 2), which showed us this very same date, October, 1874, was the time when the "harvest" of this age was due to begin, and when the Lord himself, as the Chief Reaper, was due to be present. The only thing necessary to connect this Jubilee prophecy with the others, is the statement of the Apostle Peter in Acts 3:21, which shows that our Lord must be present (at his second advent) at the beginning of the times of restitution of all [R2978 : page 91] things, and as already seen, these restitution times are the Antitypical Jubilee times typified by Israel's Jubilees. Thus we have two very simple but clear and very important lines of Scripture testimony which indicate clearly that the parousia of our Lord was due to begin in October, 1874, and both show us the character of the work which we should expect would be in progress during the time of his presence, preceding his open manifestation to the world, his epiphania, his apokalupsis.
(4) Take another line of prophecy: we find that the 1260 days, and the 1290 days, and the 1335 days, so particularly set forth in Daniel's prophecy, and corroborated in Revelation, have had fulfilments; – the 1260 days ending in 1799, the 1290 days ending in 1829 and the 1335 days ending in 1874. Our friends known as "Second Adventists" were wont to use these "days of Daniel," and once applied them as we do here: but they abandoned them after 1874 passed and they failed to see Jesus with their natural eyesight, in a body of flesh and with Calvary's scars. They have dropped these "days of Daniel" entirely, because they find no way of applying them which would prolong them beyond 1874. The fault is not with the days nor with their application as above; but with the wrong things expected. They, in common with others who look for the Second Advent, err in expecting that the Gospel age, which has been a spirit and faith epoch, will end with a flesh and sight deterioration; – in expecting that the spiritual kingdom of Satan will be followed by a fleshly kingdom of Christ. But the Watchers amongst the Adventists as well as in other denominations are getting the eyes of their understanding opened by the anointing of the promised eyesalve. – Rev. 3:18.
It was concerning this last period that the angel declared to the Prophet, "Oh, the blessedness of him that waiteth, and cometh to the 1335 days....Thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days." What blessedness? We answer, a joy of heart and rejoicing to the Watchers is what is here intimated. It is since this date, October, 1874, where Daniel's 1335 days intimated that a great blessing would begin; where the Jubilee types indicated that the restitution of all things would begin (which implies the second presence of the Great Redeemer), and where the parallelism of the two houses of Israel shows that the second presence of our Lord as the Great Reaper is due; – from this date a great blessing has come to the Watchers. Since then the Word of God has opened before us in a most marvelous manner. Since then the sure word of prophecy as a lamp to our feet has shown us many evidences that we are in the end of the age. Since then the day-star has been rising in the hearts of the Watchers, and has illuminated our minds, releasing us from the terrible nightmare of error respecting eternal torment, revealing to us the true character of our heavenly Father, making plain to us the necessity for the great atonement for sin, and showing us distinctly the object of the permission of evil, and revealing, one by one, various features of the divine plan, – the high calling of the Church to the divine nature, and to joint-heirship with Christ in his Millennial Kingdom, and the resulting blessing of restitution to human perfection for the world of mankind in general. Ah, yes! all who have been brought "out of darkness into this marvelous light" can appreciate the words of the angel, and heartily say, Blessed are our ears, for they hear, and our eyes, for they see, for many prophets and many righteous persons have desired to know these things, and have not known them.
(5) We might refer to other prophecies and types in the Scriptures, which show that we are living in the "harvest" times of this age, in the parousia of the Son of Man, but our space forbids. The fact that this world, as he predicted, continues in its usual course, eating, drinking, planting and building, etc., and knows not of his presence, so far from being an evidence against these prophetic testimonies, quite to the contrary, shows us that the fulfilment is coming, just as the Master predicted: that the day of the Lord, the day of his presence, has come upon the world as a thief in the night, secretly, quietly, stealthily, unknown; – the only ones favored with a knowledge of events transpiring on the other side of the vail being the Watchers who, if they have slumbered at all, have, nevertheless, maintained a waiting attitude of readiness for the announcement, –
This is the announcement which we are now giving – Not, Behold, the Bridegroom cometh, but "Behold the Bridegroom!" already here, present, knocking gently with the prophecies to arouse the Virgins, but not to arouse the world. (Rev. 3:20.) This is the reading of the oldest Greek Manuscripts, which omit "cometh." Our Lord says, "If any man hear my voice [knock] and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him." This message to the present Laodicean phase of the Church, intimates very clearly (1) that the "knock" and "voice" will be inaudible to natural ears, and heard only by the ears of the understanding, the hearing of faith; (2) that it will not be a denominational knock or call (as to Adventists, Presbyterians, etc.), but (3) that it will be a knock that must be heard individually, and responded to individually, – "any man" who hears the "knock" or "voice," if he so wills, may exercise faith, open the door of his understanding, and realize his Lord's second presence.
The man who never hears the "knock" is evidently not counted worthy to hear it. But those who hear are just as evidently not compelled to respond and to accept the present, knocking King: hence he says, if the hearing one open the door, I will come in. However, only those who recognize the "knock," and who respond and by faith open to the Lord and receive him as their present King – only these are to have the great blessing of spiritual nourishment – the feast of "meat in due season," "things new and old," which the Master promised to provide at that time to strengthen the faithful for the judgments, trials, testings and siftings which must "begin with the house of God." "I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me." – Compare Rev. 3:20, and Luke 12:37.
As, therefore, we softly whisper – "Behold the Bridegroom!" it is not with any hope of arousing the world to faith in the Lord's presence, etc. They are not worthy to know and would only misuse the knowledge now. By and by, in the Lord's due time, they shall know – in the period of the epiphania and apokalupsis of the Son of Man. They will be awakened by the great crash of the day of trouble. We do, however, promulgate the message, "Behold the Bridegroom [present]!" with the confident expectation that all who are of the "Virgin" class (the pure, the justified and consecrated), will be permitted to hear the message, will be aroused by it, and will trim their lamps (examine the Scriptures, investigate the subject), and find the message true, before the "door is shut" and the great trouble begun. We well know, however, from the Lord's prophetic parable, that among those who will be aroused to investigation, there will be two classes, because there are both wise and foolish "Virgins." The wise are those who have not only consecrated their all to the Lord, but who are living accordingly, – not unto sin, nor unto self, nor unto sectarianism, but unto the Lord: these, as intimated in the parable, will find no difficulty in trimming their lamps and recognizing the presence of the Bridegroom. But the foolish Virgins, overcharged with the cares of this life, or the deceitfulness of riches (wealth, reputation, influence, etc.), will not have within themselves ("in their vessels") a sufficiency of the oil (holy spirit); and consequently they will be unable to get the light in time to go in with the wise virgins before the elect number shall be completed, and the door of opportunity to become part of the Bride of Christ shall forever close. True, they will later obtain the oil, as is shown in the parable, but too late to be of the "little flock" who shall be accounted worthy to share the Kingdom, and to escape the great time of trouble coming upon the world: the foolish virgins will be obliged to pass through the trouble with the world, and will share thus in its distress, represented in the parable by the words, "wailing and gnashing of teeth."
"What shall be the sign of thy presence?" – Matt. 24:3.
"So shall also the presence of the Son of Man be." – Matt. 24:27,37,39.
"They that are Christ's at his presence." – I Cor. 15:23.
"What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are [R2979 : page 92] not even ye, presented before our Lord Jesus Christ at his presence?" – I Thes. 2:19.
That "he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ." – I Thes. 3:13.
"We which are alive and remain unto the presence of the Lord shall not precede them which are asleep." – I Thes. 4:15.
"Be preserved blameless unto the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ." – I Thes. 5:23.
"Now we beseech you, brethren, by [respecting] the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him." – 2 Thes. 2:1.
"Then shall be revealed the lawless one, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth, and bring to nought by the manifestation [epiphania] of his presence." – 2 Thes. 2:8. See R.V.
"Be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the presence of the Lord." – James 5:7.
"Be ye also patient, stablish your hearts; for the presence of the Lord draweth nigh." – James 5:8.
"There shall come in the last days scoffers [in the Church] walking after their own lusts [desires], and saying, Where is the promise of his presence?" – 2 Pet. 3:3,4.
"Keep this commandment without spot unrebukable until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords." – I Tim. 6:14,15.
"I charge thee, therefore, before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his Kingdom." – 2 Tim. 4:1.
"There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." – 2 Tim. 4:8.
"Looking for the blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ." – Titus 2:13.
"Then shall the Wicked One be exposed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness [epiphania – bright shining] of his coming [parousia – presence]." – 2 Thes. 2:8.
The Greek words apokalupsis and apokalupto signify revealment, uncovering, unveiling (as of a thing previously present but hidden). The name of the last book of the Bible is from the same root – Apocalypse or Revelation. Apokalupsis is rendered revealed, revelation, appearing, coming and manifestation, in the following texts which relate to the Lord's second presence and power and glory, as these shall be made known, – uncovered or revealed to the world. Many of these texts also show that when he shall thus be revealed, his Church will be with the Lord and be revealed or manifested at the same time and in the same manner.
"The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." – Rom. 8:18.
"Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." – I Pet. 4:13.
"An inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." – I Pet. 1:4,5.
"A partaker of the glory that shall be revealed." – I Pet. 5:1.
"Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it; because it shall be revealed by fire." (I Cor. 3:13.) Here the reference evidently is to the testings of the Lord's people during the period of his presence in the end of the age. The Apostle's words thus agree with our Lord's prophecy of the same testings, saying that "there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed" – uncovered. – Luke 12:2.
"Hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." – I Pet. 1:13.
"The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven... in flaming fire [judgments against all unrighteousness], taking vengeance." – 2 Thes. 1:7,8.
"So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming [apokalupsis – revealment] of our Lord Jesus Christ." – I Cor. 1:7. [The Lord's people will need to keep active, watching and waiting for the great blessing until the manifestation or revealment of the Lord; but if Watchers, they shall be made aware of his presence (parousia) and the work of "harvest" beforehand, and shall share in the revealment.]
"That the trial of your faith...might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing [apokalupsis – revealment] of Jesus Christ." – I Pet. 1:7.
"For the earnest expectation of the creature [mankind] waiteth for the manifestation [apokalupsis – revealing] of the sons of God [the Church]." – Rom. 8:19.
"The same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed [apokalupsis]." (Luke 17:29,30.) That is to say, the judgments of the coming "time of trouble" as predicted, will begin as soon as the "salt of the earth," the saints, have all been changed; and thus the Son of Man will be revealed a present Judge, who already had for some time been present sealing and gathering his "elect."
Foregoing we drew the line of distinction between the parousia and the epiphania or apokalupsis of our Lord, quite sharply, to assist the reader in noting their difference of signification. As a matter of fact, however, the bright shining of the present One is due to begin shortly after the parousia begins; and again as at the first advent it will be true that "the Light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not." The revealing of the Lord's presence begins with the faithful of the Church speedily, and gradually extends to the world in general. Up to the time when the strength of the trouble breaks forth, only the faithful Watchers discern the parousia, and only by them can the bright-shining of the Lord's presence be appreciated. To these the bright-shining of the Lord's presence, the increased brilliancy of the light of truth respecting the Word and character and plan of God, is an ever increasing joy and pleasure: thus it is that "ye, brethren, are not in darkness," respecting the events of the day of the Lord, but know in advance that its tribulation will come upon the world as travail upon a woman. – I Thes. 5:3,4.
While the revealment of our Lord's presence thus illuminates the hearts of his faithful ones as the Day-star (2 Pet. 1:19) and causes them to understand, and not be in darkness with the world in respect to his plans, present and future, the bright-shining of the Lord's presence shall affect nominal Christians, and the civilized world in general, also, but in a totally different manner; for the character of Christ's "harvest" work, during this period of his presence, is such as to cause a general opening of eyes along the lines of justice and injustice, righteousness and sin, the rights of mankind and the wrongs of mankind. The light which has been shining out for the past twenty years is awakening the world to a realization of its rights and its wrongs; to a realization that the earth belongs to mankind in general and not exclusively to a few who have seized it and fenced it. This same light is exposing the corruption and falsity of many long-venerated theories and institutions, religious, political, social and financial. It was in reference to this light of his presence at the second advent that our Lord declared that this day of his presence would bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the secret counsels of the heart, – for there is nothing hidden that shall not be uncovered. (Luke 8:17.) And in this connection let it not be overlooked that the Apostle declares that Satan's power to deceive the world through Antichrist is to be consumed by "the bright-shining [epiphania] of his presence [parousia]." – 2 Thes. 2:8.
Thus seen, the bright-shining of the present One is causing great joy to the hearts of the faithful, who wait patiently for him and for the deliverance which he has promised; but the bright-shining, as it affects the worldly, has the effect of quickening their selfish propensities, producing discontent, and is thus preparing the world for the great climax of catastrophe, predicted in the Word of the Lord, as the consummation [R2979 : page 93] of this age; – the overthrow of all the governments and institutions of this present order of things, in anarchy, – "a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation."
We noticed that it was predicted 2500 years ago through the Prophet Daniel, that "in the days of these kings" the representatives of the fourth universal empire, Rome (ecclesiastically conglomerated, shown in the feet and toes of the image), the God of heaven would cause the Kingdom of God to smite the image upon its feet, – to utterly crush it; and that it would be after smiting the image that God's Kingdom, represented by the stone, would wax great and fill the whole earth. As we have just shown, we are now in this time in which the Kingdom of God is exerting its force against the kingdoms of this world: the King himself is present, must be present before he could destroy present kingdoms and take their power; he is already exerting the influences which will eventuate in their [R2980 : page 93] destruction; and he is prepared, backed by all the power of God, quickly to establish upon their ruins his own glorious Kingdom, consisting of himself the King, and his faithful ones of the Gospel Church as his Bride and joint-heir.
The influence exerted by our present Lord, the Light, the Truth, is already breaking the power of ignorance and superstition, which for long centuries has held the masses of mankind in subserviency to Papacy; and the same bright-shining is likewise dissolving the lighter shackles of ignorance and error forged for their faithful by the various sects of Protestantism. Ultimately, all superstition and false reverence will be dissolved, and false institutions will fall; then will be manifest the fact that error and falsehood and fear never truly sanctify the heart, – and the world of mankind being released from its servility to fear will speedily manifest its true character of selfishness and ungodliness, and will speedily precipitate the great trouble predicted.
But it would be a mistake to suppose that the parousia of our Lord is merely or chiefly in connection with the world and its preparation for the chaos of the present order of things. On the contrary, the chief work of the Lord during this period of his parousia is for and in connection with his Church. As we saw above, he foretold that on his return he will reckon with his servants, to whom he entrusted the pounds and talents, before manifesting his wrath against evil-doers in the trouble of this "day of vengeance," – in the slaughter of all who would not have him to reign over them. That slaughter time, in which all who will not accept the reign of righteousness will be destroyed from among the people (Acts 3:23), begins with the burning of the "tares" in the end of this age, when there shall be great trouble, "weeping and gnashing of teeth;" and to some extent it will continue throughout the Millennial age, for all the way to the very last (Isa. 65:20; Acts 3:23; Rev. 20:8,9) all who wilfully oppose the Lord will perish.
The Kingdom which we are expecting, and which we believe is now in process of establishment, and is soon to smite the kingdoms of this world and to supplant them, is not an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly one; not a fleshly kingdom, but a spiritual one; not a kingdom which will be visible to the natural eye, but an invisible yet powerful kingdom. We find nothing in the Scriptures to corroborate the thought entertained by some that this Gospel age having begun in the spirit, is to culminate in a reign of Christ and his Church in the flesh with an earthly throne, etc. Quite to the contrary, the King and his joint-heirs, the Church, as spirit beings, will have a spiritual empire, tho their subjects, to whom they will offer the blessings of the restitution purchased at Calvary, will be men in the flesh, whose highest hope and ambition will be restitution to the grand perfection of the human nature lost in Eden, redeemed at Calvary, – an earthly image of the Heavenly Father. We hold that Christ and his saints during the Millennial age will be no more visible to mankind than is the Prince of this world, Satan, whose associates in the misrule of the present evil world, the fallen angels, are likewise invisible.
The Pharisees at the first advent made the mistake of supposing that the Kingdom which Christ proclaimed would be a visible kingdom, composed of himself and his followers in the flesh; and seeing no army or other evidences of temporal power for the establishment of an earthly kingdom, they thought to expose the hollowness of our Lord's claims before his followers, by asking him the question; – When will your Kingdom of God appear? – when will we see it? Mark well our Lord's reply, which, if the Pharisees had understood it, might have been a great revelation to them. He answered: "The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation." How strange they must have thought this answer! The Kingdom of God, then, would be a Kingdom which could not be observed or seen; – an invisible kingdom. But our Lord continued the explanation and increased their perplexity by adding, "Neither shall ye say, Lo here! or, Lo there!" (Luke 17:21.) Then our Lord gave the key to the matter by adding, "Because the Kingdom of Heaven is [to be] in the midst of you." That is to say, when the Kingdom of Heaven shall come it will be amongst mankind, everywhere present, but wholly invisible; so that they cannot observe it with the natural eye, nor can they point it out or locate it, altho it will be everywhere present amongst men; an omnipresent and omnipotent rule, or reign of righteousness. In our Common Version the true thought is obscured by the words "within you," which would better be "among you." Anyone, however, can see that it could not have been our Lord's intention to say that the Kingdom of God was then or ever would be within the hearts of the class addressed, which elsewhere he styled "hypocrites, whited walls and sepulchers, full of all manner of corruption."
We call to mind also our Lord's explanation of spiritual things to Nicodemus, in which he declared plainly that only those who are born again can either enter into, or see the Kingdom of God. (John 3:3,6.) Nor does this refer merely to the begetting of the spirit, as at consecration; it includes also the birth of the spirit in resurrection – "born from the dead." The Apostle Paul gives the same assurance, saying, "Flesh and blood [human nature] cannot inherit the Kingdom of God." Hence he informs us that all those who shall be sharers of that heavenly Kingdom must be "changed" from human, or flesh conditions to spirit conditions, from weakness to power, from animal to spiritual conditions. – I Cor. 15:42-44.
One matter which more than any other seems to hinder the Lord's people from grasping this subject clearly is, the prevalent but mistaken view which is entertained respecting the resurrection of the dead. We shall not attempt to discuss this subject at length here, and we shall omit entirely reference to the world's resurrection, which will be to human conditions, nature, etc.; but it is necessary that we notice something respecting "the first [chief, best, highest] resurrection, which pertains only to Christ Jesus and the Church, which is his body – the Kingdom class. These all are sacrificers, who "present their bodies living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God." In view of this sacrifice of the human nature, the gift of God in exchange is, to these, a spiritual nature, – and hence they are termed "new creatures." Their exaltation in nature is very high: lifted out of the human nature, which is a little lower than that of angels (the lowest order of spirit beings), they are to be exalted to the nature and likeness of their Lord, "far above angels, principalities and powers;" and to be made partakers of the highest form of the spirit nature; namely, the divine nature, with its wonderful peculiarity, – immortality, or inherent life.* – 2 Pet. 1:4.
The one point which more than any other seems to confuse the student of this subject, is our Lord's resurrection. They note the fact that he appeared in a body of flesh and bones, after his resurrection, and they therefore conclude that he still has a body of flesh and bones bearing all the scars of Calvary; hence, in thinking of his second advent they invariably expect it to be another advent as a human being (in flesh and bones), "a little lower than the angels." These expectations are wrong, as we shall show from the Scriptures. Our Lord after his resurrection was a spirit being, and his manifestations of himself to his disciples in various fleshly bodies then, were similar exactly to manifestations made before he became the man Christ Jesus, while he still possessed the glory which he had with the Father before the world was, – the glory of a spirit being. For instance, are we not particularly told that the Lord and two angels appeared as men in bodies of flesh and blood and bones, and in ordinary human garb, to Abraham and Sarah? And the record is that "they did eat and talk with Abraham." On another occasion the Lord appeared to Moses, not in a body of flesh, but "as a flame of fire" in a bush which apparently burned, and from which he spoke to [R2980 : page 94] Moses. We contend that such a power to appear in any kind of a body is a power which in the past was considerably used in communicating the divine will to mankind, and that it is discontinued now, only because the canon of divine revelation is complete, so that in it the man of God is thoroughly furnished unto every good word and work, and needs no special message or revelations. – 2 Tim. 3:17.
In reading the narrative of our Lord's appearance to his disciples after his resurrection, the fact seems generally to be overlooked that he appeared only a few times, in all, and that these visits were always brief, and that between these visits, after the day of his resurrection, there were long periods of days and weeks in which the disciples saw nothing of him. It is generally overlooked, also, that he appeared in various forms, one of which was identical with the body that was crucified, because Thomas had said he would not believe unless he could have such a demonstration. Even then our Lord rather upbraided Thomas, assuring him that there was a still greater blessing in store for those who ask not for such ocular demonstration. It is generally forgotten that none of the world ever saw our Lord after his resurrection, but merely his disciples, to whom, it is said, he "showed himself." This was in harmony with his statement made before his death, "Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more." – John 14:19. [R2981 : page 94]
The change of nature which our Lord experienced in his resurrection was no less a step upward from the earthly to the heavenly condition, than was the change of nature which he experienced at his birth a step downward from the heavenly to the earthly condition, called "humbling himself," laying aside his glory. As he laid aside the glory of his spirit being to become a man, so he, in turn, laid aside his humanity in death in order to assume the glory and dignity of the divine nature, "far above." Concerning the change which he experienced at his resurrection, the Apostle declares, "God hath highly exalted him." It should be manifest to all that, since our Lord left his rich condition as a spirit being, and humbled himself and became comparatively poor in the taking of the human nature, that this was for some particular reason and object, and that, when that object would be accomplished, the riches of the spiritual condition would be fully restored to him. But instead, the general thought is that our Lord Jesus is not only encumbered in heaven with a body of flesh, wholly unsuitable to heavenly conditions, but that, in addition to this, that body of flesh has all the marks of mental and physical suffering which it received through contact with sin and sinners as our ransom price.
Such a view is dishonoring to the Heavenly Father; for it should not be supposed that he would tolerate a loss to all eternity on the part of his well beloved One, because of his faithfulness and obedience to the divine will. The Scripture declaration is to the contrary; namely, that our Lord was "made flesh," took upon him our nature "for the suffering of death;" and not to be encumbered with fleshly conditions to all eternity. Besides, if our Lord must bear the scars of his wounds to all eternity, the implication would be that his people would also bear all their blemishes and scars to all eternity. Surely, if such were the divine arrangement, that which is perfect would never come, – we should be encumbered with the imperfect forever. – I Cor. 13:10.
When we get the correct view of this matter, every difficulty and objection ceases. As the Scriptures declare, so it was: "He was put to death in flesh, he was quickened in spirit." "Tho we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more [so]." (2 Cor. 5:16; I Pet. 3:18.) It was at his resurrection that he became the second Adam – "the last Adam, a quickening spirit." (I Cor. 15:45.) "Now the Lord is that spirit." (2 Cor. 3:17.) After appearing to his disciples under various peculiar conditions after his resurrection, and in various bodies, the Lord invariably vanished, – as soon as he had communicated to them the appropriate lessons, causing, as they declared, their hearts to burn within them. He appeared in these various forms for two reasons: –
(1) They could best receive his instructions under such conditions, for, if he had appeared to them in the glory of his spirit being, and had performed a miracle upon their eyes by which they could have discerned his spiritual glory, they would have been too much affrighted to have benefited by what he would have said.
(2) They were still natural men, not fully begotten of the holy spirit, because Pentecost was not yet come (John 7:39; Acts 2:1-4), and hence they were unprepared to understand spiritual things; "for the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, neither can he know [appreciate] them, because they are spiritually discerned." – I Cor. 2:14.
The Apostle Paul was the only one of the disciples who saw the Lord "as he is." He tells us that the Lord's real spiritual presence, so far from being fleshly, or human-like, shone with a brightness "above the brightness of the sun at noonday." The effect upon Paul's eyes was serious; and, we may readily believe the effects remained with him to his dying day, notwithstanding the miraculous removal of the callous scales, which permitted him to see, tho indistinctly. Very evidently our Lord's design was to educate his apostles up to the thought of his resurrection; and, also, to the thought of his resurrection being not to former conditions, limited by the flesh, but to new conditions, in which he (as he had already explained to Nicodemus) could come and go like the wind, and none could know whence he came nor whither he went; he could appear in one body or in another body, or be present with them without their being aware of it, just as "the angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him," yet is invisible to them, because he is a spirit being.
When the right conception of our Lord in his glorified condition is gained, and when the Apostle's statement is remembered, that his Church shall be like him, and "see him as he is," it is comparatively easy to understand that the entire glorified Church will be as invisible to the world as the Heavenly Father is, and as our Lord Jesus was after his resurrection; and when it is remembered that this Church constitutes the Kingdom of God, the "royal priesthood," which is to rule and bless the world during the Millennial age, our Lord's words to the Pharisees are quite intelligible, – "The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation – neither shall ye say, Lo here! or, Lo there! for behold, the Kingdom of God is in the midst of you" – a present but invisible authority, government, rule of righteousness. – Luke 17:21.
Our Lord reproved the teachers of Israel because they did not discern the signs of the times; because they "knew not the time of their visitation." His words imply that their ignorance was a mark of carelessness and unworthiness, and of divine disfavor. He said: "Ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?" There was a reason, and the realization of that reason might have meant, to some at least, a correction of it – a drawing near to God to be taught of him. So now in the time of our Lord's second presence we find the world largely increasing in wisdom along various lines, and many hearts in perplexity and wonderment looking for those things which are coming upon the world, their hearts failing them for fear of the impending dissolution of the social structure in anarchy, and yet none are so blind respecting the times in which we live and the great changes impending, as the leaders of religious thought.
They are blinded by their false theories. They have declared that the Lord's commission to his Church is that she should convert the world into a Kingdom of God, and thus bring about the reign of righteousness; and they are so determined that their theories must not fail that they cannot see what is rapidly becoming apparent even to the worldly; namely, that the numbers even nominally converted every year are increasing far less, proportionately, than the natural increase of the world's population: so that if they had millions of years before them, the conversion could never be hoped for; but at the end of millions of years, true Christianity could not expect to claim as large a percentage as at present. Their theory also blinds them to the fact that much of the increase of Church membership in civilized lands is merely for popularity's sake, and for the sake of worldly prosperity, social standing, etc., and not the result of love for God and righteousness, nor significant of a consecration to walk in the "narrow way" of self-denial, self-sacrifice, etc.
The worldly, therefore, are really in a better condition to discern the signs of the times than many prejudiced nominal Christians. But none can see these things from the true standpoint except as they take that standpoint, and it is only granted [R2981 : page 95] to those who are fully consecrated to the Lord and who hearken to his Word. These shall not be in darkness, the Lord will not hide from them either his good purposes as respects the blessing of the Church and, subsequently, of the world, or his purposes respecting the chastisement of the world in a great time of trouble, preparatory to its blessing, which will come after it has been humbled.
The chief work of our Lord during this "harvest" time, and especially in the forepart of it (when he calls his faithful servants of the Gospel age and reckons with them and rewards them), respects his Church as a whole, and not merely its living members. And here we should note the Apostle's statement respecting this time and work. He informs us that the Lord's dealings during this harvest will be first with "the dead in Christ," saying, "We which are alive and remain to the coming [presence] of the Lord, shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep [those of the Church already dead],... for the dead in Christ shall rise first." (I Thes. 4:15,16). Taking this statement in connection with our Lord's parable, it means that the faithful sleeping in death will be resurrected, reckoned with, rewarded, before the reckoning with and rewarding of the living members of the Church begins. Accordingly, if it be true, as we have briefly presented it, foregoing, – that we are now living "in the days of the Son of Man," and that his presence began in the Autumn of 1874, then we should also believe that the resurrection of the saints which "were asleep" was due, and took place at some period not long after our Lord's parousia began. And we are able to fix upon a date for this with comparative certainty, altho the entire matter is invisible to natural eyes and can be discerned only with the eye of faith and by the light of our lamp, the Scriptures.
Our lamp, as we have already seen, shows us that the Jewish age was in every particular a pattern, or illustration of this Gospel age; and keeping this in mind, we can judge something respecting the order of the divine arrangement in the [R2982 : page 95] "harvest" of this age, from the order of the divine arrangement in the "harvest" of the Jewish age. Observing the Jewish age, we find that the first three and a half years of their "harvest" were devoted to the simple announcement of the Master's presence, and an offer to the nominal Church then living; and that they ended by the rejection of the nominal Church at the time of our Lord's death; and that afterward while their nominal system, or Church was ignored, the Israelites indeed were called out of it into fellowship with the Lord, through his spirit. We note also, that it was at the very time of the rejection of the Jewish house that our Lord assumed before them, typically, his office of King, and rode upon the ass as the King of the Jews: and looking for the time when our Lord, in the end of the age, should assume his full regal power and authority as the King of kings, we find it should be at the corresponding date in this "harvest;" namely, in the Spring of 1878. And as the first work of our Lord, after taking the kingly office, in the typical "harvest," was to reject the nominal house of Israel, that he might begin the work of gathering out of it the Israelites indeed, so we understand that in the present harvest time the first work of our King is the rejection of the nominal Gospel house of Sons, – to the intent that he may gather out of it the "wheat," his "elect," from one end of the ecclesiastical heavens to the other. (Matt. 24:31.) This rejection of the nominal Church, and the call to his people to "Come out of her," we understand to be symbolically styled the fall of Babylon, and the spewing out of Laodicea. See Rev. 3:16; 18:2-4.
Here, then, we have an indication of the time when the judgment of the Lord's servants was due to begin, represented in the parable by the king's calling to himself his own servants to hear their reports; and in the light of the Apostle's statement just noticed, namely, that the living will not precede those that are asleep, it is clear that at that time, and before the reckoning with the living began, "them that sleep," "the dead in Christ," were awakened, granted a part in the first resurrection – raised in glory, honor, power, spiritual bodies, invisible to mankind. Nor would the resurrection of the spirit bodies necessitate any disturbance of graveyards or tombstones, or anything earthly. "That which is born of the spirit is spirit," and as our Lord after his resurrection was invisible to the world, and invisible also to his Church (except as he miraculously manifested himself), so with these: they are invisible; there is no necessity for miraculous manifestation; none has been made, neither is any expected. "We walk by faith, and not by sight."
To all who understand the necessity for the sleep of the saints (namely, that it was because the call of the Church took place before the time divinely arranged for the establishment of the Kingdom), it will seem eminently proper that the King should, immediately on taking office as King, liberate from the prisonhouse of death his faithful followers, who during his absence manifested their faithfulness, and for whom crowns of righteousness have been set aside, to be given them at his return in power and great glory. Indeed, it would be unreasonable to suppose any prolonged delay of their resurrection, after our Lord takes to himself his great power and begins his reign. We hold, therefore, that the resurrection of the dead in Christ was due to take place in the Spring of 1878.
Furthermore, we note a beautiful analogy here; for, thus considered, our Lord's resurrection a few days after his taking of office as King in typical Israel, corresponds to, or parallels the resurrection of the Church, "the body of Christ" a few days after his taking to himself honor and glory and power as the King of nations, in the Spring of 1878. Not only so, but the Book of Revelation, in a scene which belongs to that particular time, and in a description of the opening of the "harvest" of this Gospel age, shows "one like unto the Son of Man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle," beginning the work of reaping the harvest of this age: and there we find the significant statement, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, for their works follow them." – Rev. 14:13,14,16.
This text has been so frequently misapplied by theologians that its true significance will be apt to elude all who have not their senses exercised by reason of use, and who do not closely discriminate. It signifies that from the time of the beginning of the reaping of the "harvest" of this age by the crowned reaper (the Spring of 1878), there will be a wonderful blessing not previously possible, upon the certain class described. From this particular date onward those of this particular class who die will be favored or blessed in a manner in which none of the preceding members of this same class were blessed; namely, in that their death will not interrupt their works, which will continue right along, the labor and weariness alone ceasing, the work itself continuing under more glorious and more favorable conditions.
This means that since 1878 the fully consecrated of the Lord's people, those who are completely "dead with him," will not sleep in death, as has been necessary with all the preceding members of the body of Christ throughout the Gospel age; it means that from 1878, onward, the dead, who die in the Lord, will in the moment of dying experience their "change," or share in the first resurrection – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, pass from mortality to immortality; from weakness to power; from dishonor to glory; from natural to spiritual condition.
It is to this that the Apostle referred when he said, "Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump." To our understanding, the last trump, the seventh of the series of symbolical trumpets, began in 1874, just before our Lord took to himself his great power and began its exercise – began his reign: its sound is to continue until the close of the Millennial age, a thousand years. This "change" "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye," that is to occur to the living members of the body of Christ, will indeed be a momentary change as respects each individual after he shall have rendered his accounts before the great King, and been accepted of him as a joint-heir in the Kingdom; but it does not imply that all of these will be changed in the same moment. Quite to the contrary, the judging of the living members of the Church, the going in of the wise virgins in the end of this age, will be a gradual work; it has already been in progress for over twenty years, and is not yet finished. It will include the rejection of the "foolish virgins," and the utter casting out of any who may take off the "wedding garment" of Christ's righteousness, as shown in one of the parables.
Thus we see that immediately after this taking of the crown in the Spring of 1878, our Lord gathered to himself those of his saints, "his jewels," who had already been polished and fitted and prepared, and who slept, awaiting the time for the establishment [R2982 : page 96] of the Kingdom; and that since then, one by one, his faithful saints of the same class of "jewels" are being gathered to himself, as they finish their course. But as it was necessary that our Redeemer should not only consecrate his life to death, but that he should actually die, so it is necessary that every member of the body of Christ shall not only consecrate himself to be dead with him, but that each also shall actually die. They are already reckoned dead, but this is not sufficient; our Lord's words are, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life;" and again, "Blessed are the dead in the Lord [reckonedly dead, consecrated unto death], dying from henceforth." So also it had been foretold in other Scriptures, that all who would be of the body of Christ must, like the Head, pass through the portals of death; thus it is written, "I have said, Ye are gods [mighty ones], all of you sons of the Most High; ye shall ALL DIE like men, and fall like one of the princes." The two princes of our race were Adam and Christ Jesus. Adam went into death because of disobedience; Christ as a sacrifice for the sins of others, entered death in obedience; and the Church, the body of Christ, his "brethren," being justified out of the Adamic death by faith in his sacrifice, are reckoned as joint-sacrificers with him in his death of obedience, that they may be accounted also sharers in "his resurrection" – the first resurrection, to the divine nature and glory and joint-heirship. – Psa. 82:6,7; Rom. 5:12,17; 2 Pet. 1:4.
We have given here only the briefest possible summary of the Scriptural evidences that we are living in the parousia, the presence, "the days of the Son of Man," in the "harvest" time of this age, and that the work which he, directly and through his apostles, instructed us to expect, is now in progress; namely, the "sealing" of the saints of the Most High God in their foreheads (Eph. 1:13,14), and giving them a mental appreciation of the divine plan and its times and seasons, together with a judgment, or testing of all who have covenanted themselves to be the Lord's and to lay down their lives in his service. And all who refuse to live up to their covenant, even tho sealed and blessed, and enlightened with present truth, will, we understand, be rejected from it, and cast again "into outer darkness" with the world, to share in the great time of trouble coming upon it. We understand also, that the elect number will soon be completed, and the last one of the class who shall be blessed by the glorious "change" from mortality to immortality, in a moment, in the twinkling of an [R2983 : page 96] eye, shall soon obtain that blessing, and that then the great time of trouble will fully burst upon the world, and speedily bring down the high, the lofty, and the proud, and prepare the world for the reign of the Prince of Peace.
Here we have consistency, at least, and harmony of Scriptures which have never been harmonized in the past, and which cannot now be harmonized from any other standpoint or with any other interpretation. Here we have the spiritual Kingdom of Messiah, with all power, displacing the spiritual kingdom of Satan, and establishing order and righteousness through earthly agents of its own, and overthrowing the earthly agents of the prince of darkness, many of whom are his servants merely because "the god of this world [age] has blinded the minds of them that believe not."
We remark, incidentally, that following the gathering of the Church to glory, as above outlined, will come the resurrection of the holy ones of the past, – "Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and all the holy prophets," whose resurrection will be to perfect earthly conditions, and who shall be the "princes in all the earth," seen of men, and representatives of the invisible but all-powerful spiritual Kingdom – the glorified Christ. Thus, chosen representatives of fleshly Israel will indeed rule the world, and bless it, as the representatives and agencies of the Spiritual Israel, and the nation of Israel will be first to respond to the standard of the Lord thus set up. – Psa. 45:16; Rom. 11:25-31; Zech. 12:10.
Our Lord's parousia (presence in the world) begun in 1874, will continue till the end of the Millennial age. The word is not applicable merely to a little period of presence at the beginning of the Millennial age: Christ's parousia and that of his Church will continue throughout the age. Nor will the epiphania and apokalupsis be a sudden burst of glorious light; nor do these words signify a visible showing to mankind of the Lord's person, or of the persons of his Church. Let us remember his words, "Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more." Let us remember also that, as his Church is to be in his likeness, so his likeness is declared to be an "express image of the Father's person;" it is written that he is the King eternal, immortal, invisible. (I Tim. 1:17.) Nor will it be any more necessary that the world should see with their natural eyes the Lord and his glorified ones, than that they should see the Heavenly Father: the world will see the earthly representatives of God and of Christ and of the Church, when they "see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and all the holy prophets," for they will be samples of perfect manhood, which is the earthly image of the invisible God.
Our Lord's epiphania (bright shining) and his apokalupsis (unveiling) began shortly after his parousia began; the bright shining of his presence is now visible to those who are walking "in the light" – to those who "are not in darkness with the world." It is a mental illumination, an illumination to the eyes of our understanding, and not to our natural eyes. The eyes of our understanding have been opened to see him that is invisible to the natural sight. The epiphania of our Lord is already affecting the world also, tho not through the eyes of the understanding; for they have no eyes for such spiritual things: nevertheless, the bright shining of the Lord's presence is influencing and affecting the whole course of the world, through an increase of knowledge on every subject – specially noticeable since 1878. Eventually, all the blinded shall have opened eyes of understanding, and
Many even who are not of the Watchers are noting the signs of our times and are startled, and led to exclaim, What do these things mean? – this remarkable latter-day advance in science, art and mechanical invention? – this latter-day discontent in the midst of plenty and luxury? – this latter-day growth of millionaires and paupers? – this growth of giant corporations of world-wide power and influence? – Why are national policies and public men and their utterances and doings criticized (judged) by the masses as never before? – And what means it that with an apparent growth in wealth and numbers in all denominations of Christians, there is a growing dissatisfaction, discontent in them all: a growing tendency to criticize the creeds and the preaching and everything? – How comes it that nine-tenths of the preachers in all denominations know that their hearers desire a change, and would gladly "move on," if they knew how to better themselves even at smaller salaries?
The Scriptural answer is, The hour of God's judgment is come; the time when "Christendom," political, financial, social and ecclesiastical is being judged – being tried in the divine balances. And the Scriptures declare that she will be found wanting, and will be adjudged unworthy to further administer the affairs of earth, which will be turned over to the elect "little flock," according to the divine promise. – Luke 12:32.
"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice [knock], and open the door, I will come in to him and sup with him, and he with me." – Rev. 3:20.