THE Editor recognizes a responsibility to the Master, relative to what shall appear in these columns, which he can not and does not cast aside; yet he should not be understood as endorsing every expression of correspondents, or of articles selected from other periodicals.
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THE interest still continues over the entire Zion. Letters expressive of very deep interest come in daily in great numbers, and show that the people are being stirred to an examination of the Scripture as never before. We append a few letters for your benefit. Many of the best are too personal to admit of publication.
These expressions of gratitude to God for heavenly food and spiritual strength, received through a discernment of his plan and better understanding of His Word, are from consecrated children of God in various social stations, but not many, though some from the ministers of churches. It is strange indeed, that the ministers and people do not seize the joyful tidings and carry it with one glad shout of praise to God, o'er all the earth – wherever christians dwell.
But while they are well aware that the various sectarian creeds contradict each other, and that many parts of Scripture are not in harmony with any of them, yet they are unwilling to examine these things which God is now opening up – because it is now due time for his plan to be understood by his children – and shun them as though they were poison instead of FOOD. [R325 : page 1]
Poor things, they are afraid to read lest they should be unsettled; but the whole difficulty is, that they are already unsettled and their faith being built on the sandy foundations of human traditions instead of on the rock, they are in constant danger of the floods of skepticism and infidelity sweeping their little all, away.
Meanwhile, ministers seem to become alarmed, because the best elements in their flocks, give heed to and relish the "Food" now being provided the sheep by the chief Shepherd. Many of these ministers seeking "honor one of another" and the approbation of the worldly element of their churches, are far less prepared for this "meat in due season" than some – more humble – of their flocks. Even some good men in the ministry feel so confident that the Great "Babylon" that they have builded is all right, that they, without giving the subject study, join with others in saying: "Stop thinking," "Don't read it," ("Food for Thinking Christians,") "Burn the book." How strange – how pitiable, that men – christian men – ministers of the Word of God, should treat thus, anything based solely on the Word of God and manifesting only the spirit of Christ.
Those who read and think are convinced, not by any confidence in the teachers of the "TOWER," but by the Word of God; and when such meet the Doctors of Divinity, their Scriptural knowledge is more than a match for the earthly learning of the latter. And thus "a little one may chase a thousand." See how fully Isa. 29:9,14, is being fulfilled in this, our day.
How much the present methods remind us of the way in which Papacy treated all Protestants and their writings. As the priests once claimed that none should have the Bible, because only the priests could understand or expound it; so Protestants now say: yes, read the Bible but you can understand only such small parts as we can expound. And even that small part each denomination construes differently, to the amusement of infidels and dismay of all thinking christians. Yet so great is the reverence for CREEDS and traditions of men, that each party would prefer to see an opposing creed succeed rather than that truth should step in and furnish the connecting link, which would not only harmonize the creeds with each other, but also with the Bible.
Why this opposition? As seen from the TOWER, it appears to be because of a love of sectarianism. All are sectarian who love a christian specially or more, because a member of their sect or division of the church, and whose time and interest is in the upbuilding of their division and not in the cause of truth. Such oppose our teachings because they realize that it opposes some features of their creed. And it is for this cause that we are hated of all men, (not new creatures) for Christ's sake, because our teachings are in opposition to some features of every sect. THE world also hates us, because we are still more separate from it than the nominal church. But this is our work – "To bear witness to the truth." And blessed are those who are beheaded for the witness of Jesus and the Word of God, and who worship not the BEAST neither his IMAGE, but God only.
Another laborer goes into the vineyard this month, a Bro. Tackabury, of Ohio, a member until now of the M.E. Conference. Should he come your way bid him God-speed. God grant to use him much in his service and for the blessing of the household. We may expect occasional notes from his pen in the TOWER.
Bro. Sunderlin is nearly well again. (He has been laid up for nearly five months, by reason of over-exertion, incident to the arrangements for the distribution of the "Food" in Great Britain and Ireland.) He is busy in the vicinity of his home, to the extent of his present ability. page 1
"ZION'S WATCH TOWER" – Dear Friends: – Sample copies of the "TOWER" received, together with the "Tabernacle," and I assure you their contents pondered over and over, each time with increasing zest and delight. I cannot find language to express my thanks to the gentleman who, apparently in an accidental way, met and handed me a copy of "Food for Thinking Christians," at the same time asking me if I would read it if he gave it me, thereby exciting my curiosity to know its contents. May God bless him and all of you in the holy work of Love. To me it has been a feast – "Food" indeed. So much Bible truth, so many of its precious promises and utterances have been explained and brought into requisition that I never before had any use for, or appreciation of. Enclosed find "TOWER" subscription.
ZION'S W.T. TRACT SOC'Y – Brethren: – I have read with much pleasure the little book, "Food for Thinking Christians." I am indeed grateful to you for the manner in which you have explained several of the most difficult points in theology. God in His infinite goodness must have opened your eyes to see these wonders of His divine plan, and I am thankful that I have lived to see this day. I may say that I fully indorse a great deal of the new teaching, and shall adopt it for the future. I pray God to abundantly bless you for your great philanthropic resolve to bless the world by giving away these pamphlets.
MANCHESTER, KY., Feb. 20th, '82.
ZION'S WATCH TOWER – Dear Brethren: – I received the September No. "Food for Thinking Christians," and read it through four times and loaned it. I am much pleased with it and think the views correct as far as I am capable of judging. Recently, by request, you sent me the same in pamphlet form, which I keep loaned out. I also received a copy of the "Tabernacle and its Teachings," which I have read through three times, and can truly say, that I am more than pleased with it; also WATCH TOWER, for which I subscribe – am waiting to see if I can't get others to send with me. Please send me three copies more of "Food"; I will see that they are placed with those who will read them, and give the contents serious consideration.
Geo. O. Barnes, the Kentucky evangelist, held a series of meetings here last spring; he preached in part your views – "Love of God," first and all the time, and perhaps the mind of this community is better prepared to accept this Food than it otherwise would have been. May the Master speed and help in your work.
I wish to express my appreciation, of the value of the two tracts – both of which I have perused with no little interest and pleasure. Their broad views and clearness on these glorious themes are equally as clear to the simplest understanding, as to the most metaphysical mind.
THE "second coming of our Lord," has been a subject of the deepest interest to me for a long time; and the pamphlets (in their humble guise) contain to me the most Godly and enlightened views I have yet met with.
With the earnest wish that they might fall into the hands of all christians, who may be walking in the narrow way, yet who may be like myself, often in the darkness, and longing for more light – to such I would say, "read, and ye shall find that for which ye seek."
Enclosed please find a contribution of two dollars for the Z.W.T. Society. Please send me two copies of "Food," and two of the "Tabernacle."
"Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us, therefore, let us keep the feast." 1 Cor. 5:7.
From the account of the instituting of the Lord's supper, furnished in Matt. 26:26,28, and Luke 22:7-20, and 1 Cor. 11:23-26; we incline to the view that it was designed to be a yearly remembrancer of our Lord's death, and that it is properly observed on its anniversary. Apparently it was instituted by Christ Jesus "our Passover," "THE lamb of God which taketh away the sins of world," (John 1:29) as a substitute for the Jewish Passover.
We do not quarrel with any who prefer to commemorate more frequently, neither do we regard it as a binding or compulsory observance. We observe it because we rejoice thus to remember our ransom price – "the propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
THE time for the observance of the Lord's death this year will be after 6 P.M. of April 2d, which we believe to be the date corresponding to the time at which Jesus and his disciples ate of it; 3 o'clock P.M., the day following corresponding to the hour of Jesus death. Matt. 27:46-50.
Accordingly, there will be a meeting at the residence of J. L. Russell, No. 80 Cedar avenue, Allegheny City, at 7:45 P.M. of Sunday April 2d, for commemorating the breaking of the body and the shedding of the blood of Christ. Thus, "as oft as we do this, (on its anniversary) we do show the Lord's death till he come" – till the last member of his body being dead with him, shall be like him, glorified and perfected as a new creature. For "the cup of blessing which we bless is it not the communion [sharing by us] of the blood [death] of Christ? THE bread which we break is it not the communion of the body of Christ [in his death]? For we being many are one bread [loaf] and one body." 1 Cor. 10:16. Hence, when we eat and drink, we show not only our interest in his sacrifice, but also express our own covenant to be dead with him, and to drink of his cup. (See, Matt. 20:22,23.)
These are always precious seasons here; and letters received from various groups of twos, threes, twenties and fifties last year, indicated that they enjoyed a similar blessing. "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us, therefore, let us keep the feast" – putting away all leaven of malice, envyings, etc., let us be of the unleavened loaf – the body of Christ – each member, not puffed up, but easily broken.
TRUTH, when it is won, is the possession of the whole nature. By the action of the whole nature only can it be gained. THE king must go with his counselors at his side, and his army at his back, or he makes no conquest. THE intellect must be surrounded by the richness of the affections and backed by the power of the will, or it attains no perfect truth. – Phillips Brooks.
It is acknowledged by all unprejudiced persons capable of judging, that infidelity is on the increase. Speaking upon this subject, the Chicago Tribune says: "It is idle for the people of a religious habit, and especially for those who are charged with nursing and promoting piety, to ignore the progress which infidelity has been making during the past few years. THE contrast between the crowded auditorium in which Col. Ingersol delivered his lecture recently, with the sparse attendance which awaited similar appearances a few years ago, furnishes a striking evidence of its progress." THE writer continues his theme, and very truthfully says: "THE progress of infidelity, as signalized by Ingersoll's success, likewise denotes the growth and spread of irreverence. Perhaps this is the worst feature of the new order of things. THE danger of irreverence is its invasive tendency. Beginning with its forms, it soon extends to the essence; starting with dogma, it is apt to proceed at a rapid rate to principle, society, and the family. THE infidel must provide his own morality, and impose his own restraints. No man or sect is his guardian, and his code of ethics is of his own making. THE modern spirit of progress is creating sad havoc with the traditions and precedents which might continue their influence even when the inspiration of Scriptures is doubted."
It is a very sad fact, that at this time, when God, His Christ, and His Holy Book are so ruthlessly assailed [R326 : page 2] by these godless, profane infidels, that the church has very nearly lost its power to withstand the oncoming tide. THE finely written essays of her ministers are blank cartridges, when directed against such batteries. THE pomp and glitter of modern worship, with sensational story-telling for Gospel, is as powerless to resist this overwhelming infidelity, as a shadow would be to stop a cyclone. THE Tribune further says:
"There is naturally great diversity of opinion as to the effect of the palpable growth of infidelity that marks our age. THE aggressive infidel like Ingersoll believes it to be an essential and valuable part of the world's progress. To him it denotes the downfall of superstition and the spread of reason and enlightenment. THE conservative doubter is inclined to deprecate the contagion of infidelity. He believes himself and most of those who have exchanged their doubts with him to be capable of shaping their morals in the right direction, but fears that the removal of restraints will lead the masses to excess and riot of free thought and irresponsible actions. THE churchman condemns without qualification the new departure as sacrilegious and wicked, leading to all the penalties in this life and the future which the strictest construction of the church tenants impose upon the infidel and the scoffer. These various sentiments can find no common ground upon which to meet, and infidelity must take its course, except as it may be restrained by moral and social influences, for the day of the rack and the thumb-screw, the terror of the cross and the stake are gone forever."
It would seem to be a cruel accusation to make, to say that the church has done much to produce this fearful increase of infidelity, but so it appears from what infidels and all unprejudiced writers say. Not that the church had intended any such thing, but many of her dogmas, such as unconditional election, man's inherent immortality, endless torture as punishment for sin, the endlessness of evil and rebellion against God, appear so unreasonable and arbitrary, and present the character of a just and merciful Creator and Ruler in a contradictory light, that these infidels, assuming that the teaching of the church is in harmony with the Bible, have, without critically testing these dogmas by the Scriptures, rejected the Church, the Bible, and its Author. If this be true, then the only antidote for this infidel poison is the presentation and adoption of the true Bible theology, by which God and His revelations shall be presented in their true character.
Brethren, the present period, with all the wonderful circumstances crowded into it, offers the most glorious opportunity to the loyal servants of Christ to defend Deity, Jesus Christ, and the holy Scriptures, that was ever offered to any generation of God's servants since the world began. THE present hours are truly filled with grand opportunities, sublime duties, such as angels and prophets were amazed to see in vision, and such as holy men have desired to enjoy, but died without enjoying the grand privilege. May the God of all grace give us wisdom not to waste these golden opportunities in children's play, striving about personal, carnal things, catching motes, while golden crowns are within reach. – Selected.
"Who then, is a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his Lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing." Matt. 24:45,46.
As some of the times and events spoken of by our Lord have come and gone, and as Christians have marked these passing events with careful anxiety, because they gave corresponding indication of the ending of trial and trouble to the children of God, many of them, for some reason, seem to have come to think that the exact knowledge of the time of our Lord's coming was the most essential thing to attend to.
Far be it from us, in this connection to throw cold water upon the expectations of any who are watching for the revelation of the world's coming King; and far be it from us to join in the cry of objection so often urged: "O, we don't know anything about it; Jesus said, 'no man knoweth the day nor the hour;' I don't think we ought to pry into such things," etc. But, while we would do neither of these, let us carefully consider the words of our Saviour in the text quoted. In the preceding verse he says, "In such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." Notice he is not speaking to the world now, but to the disciples, and doubtless to all those who should afterward "believe on him through their word." As much as to say, I have now answered your questions regarding these important events; you and the succeeding members of the body of Christ, the little flock, can mark by the fulfillment of these signs at different points in this good-news age, something near the time of my coming and presence. (They had been asking when there should not be "one stone left upon another" of these magnificent buildings, and what should be the sign of his presence, and of the end of the age.) See vss. 2,3. Though they were not to be overtaken as a thief (the world would be), nor to be in darkness regarding it (1 Thes. 5:4), yet they were not to know the hour, i.e., the exact time of his coming, yet if they were to watch closely they would not mistake the signs of his presence, viz., that it would be with the world as it was in [R327 : page 3] the days of Noah, careless and thoughtless, the whole attention given to fleshly desires, not understanding nor caring for the spiritual; verses 37,38,39, and saying "where is the promise of his coming." 2 Peter 3:4. But a very striking sign of his presence would be that the evil servant would be smiting his fellow servants and saying, "My Lord delayeth his coming" (presence).
THE nominal church is now doing this, and it is cause for regret that it is not confined to it. But, while he charged them to watch that they might not be like Jerusalem, ignorant of the time of their visitation, and as a consequence unprepared, he follows it up with a question which embodies an exhortation to a still more important duty, which, while being done, should not leave the other undone, viz., "Who is a wise and faithful servant" ...giving "meat in due season" to the household? What household? THE household of faith. Then it is spiritual things he is speaking of, similar to those spoken of in the sixth chapter of John, 53d to 63d verse inclusive. Please read those words, "they are spirit and they are life." Take them in at the expense of being called a spiritualist. If it is spiritual things that are spoken of, what must be the nature of the meat given to the household of faith by the faithful and wise servant? Jesus says 55th verse, "My flesh is meat indeed." But the words which he is speaking are spirit. Then he does not mean that his physical body is the thing spoken of; no, for "the flesh profiteth nothing" (O, that we could keep this in mind when studying the nature of Christ's coming, and his dealings with the household of faith), and yet just before – 53d verse he says, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood ye have no life in you." Then the faithful and wise servant will be feeding the household of faith with the body and blood of Christ. Then, as this is a figure, it must be that somehow we take in, and take on, the nature, the character, and the life of Christ; if we "eat his flesh," is it not a strong mode of saying that we assimilate the essential principles that made up the Christ, and thus become like him?
What was the great work which he proposed to accomplish?
By laying aside the glory which he had with the Father. "Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor." Humility, then, was the first blade that shot forth from the seed which was to become a tree, the leaves of which should be for the healing of the nations.
THE "mighty" came down to man's estate, but the wondrous stoop was within sight, and so far as we have anything to sacrifice we are to imitate him. Then the faithful and wise servant will have the household partake of the humility of Christ. He will not be offering them bones of contention, nor setting them examples of arrogance and self-sufficiency; he will not by example nor precept have them partake of the spirit which on one occasion caused certain ones to contend "who should be greatest," and certain ones at a later date, who should be "leaders." If any are leaders, and Christ appointed, they will be partaking of this humility, and by every means causing the household to partake of it also.
After humbling himself by taking the body prepared for him, his first act (when the body was mature) was to formally deliver it up to death; and this he signified by making a living picture (his baptism) of his submission to death and consequent sufferings preceding it, and of his resurrection. Here is an important element, that the faithful servant will be giving to the members of the household, though some may think that they can live without it.
His next act was to submit to be led (but of the spirit) into the wilderness to be tempted, to be brought directly in contact with the powers of darkness. To stand as a man alone in the presence of the ruler of the darkness of this world to be tempted. But why was he tempted? It would not make him any purer nor better surely; he was without sin already.
He came down to the condition of the perfect man; he was the second Adam. THE first Adam with no preference for evil, but having no knowledge of its terrible nature, was tempted and fell, the second Adam, with no preference for evil, but with a knowledge of its awful results, and of the power of God (By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many. Isaiah 53:11), was as really tempted, and triumphed. He evidently was free and could have yielded; in fact, he was tempted TO yield, but gloriously resisted and vanquished his foe.
Now again we ask, why did he pass through this ordeal? To show us how to overcome. Being the Captain of our salvation, the Leader of a little band of conquerors, his example was necessary, for through them "all the families of the earth" are to be blessed. "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made"...and that seed "is Christ." Gal. 3:16. Now, if we "be Christ's (if we feed on him and partake of his life), then are we Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." Gal. 3:29.
Then here is a choice principle for the household to feed on; the knowledge of Christ, or Christ's knowledge. But, says one, his knowledge was divine, and though he was tempted, he knew he would not be overcome. THAT is just the point we wish to make prominent right here. He has opened for us the way to the same source of knowledge, divine word and spirit, and Christ's example to feed on. But, says one, if I could know, as he did, that I would come out of the conflict all right I could endure it too. But you would know that just as surely as he, if you would feed on his knowledge. Here is a bit of it, take it and let it strengthen thine heart when trial comes, as it did his: "God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." 1 Cor. 10:13. This is divine knowledge, and just the knowledge that he had. If you believe it and appropriate it, (feed on it) you will triumph just as he did.
These portions may be summarized under the general term of God's plan for the salvation of the world. O, how it fired him with love and zeal, and by parable and figure he held it up to the view of those whom he wished to have see it.
But, says one, did he not wish to have all see it? No, not then; he only wished to have those see it who would accept the blessed truth. See Matt. 13:13,14,15, and Matt. 7:6. It was for those referred to by Paul (Acts 13:26), when he said, "Whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent." There are yet many persons whose ears are dull of hearing, and such ones would and do trample upon these pearls. This bread of life they reject. Like the Pharisees of old, publicans and harlots will enter the kingdom before them.
This knowledge which so supported him will so support us. Modern Pharisees would withhold from us this love-begotten plan of God; but let the faithful servant give it plentifully to the household of faith.
We said he passed through this ordeal of temptation and suffering to show us how to overcome, giving us the same facilities for overcoming, i.e., knowledge of God's will and plan, and his Spirit to give us an understanding and to support us.
But his mission was twofold, to redeem the whole human race from death by his death (the forfeit of sin), and to be the Leader of a "peculiar people" by his life, and through this "peculiar people" in the "ages to come," he is to show to the world "the exceeding riches of his grace." (Eph. 2:7.) His death for the world (including those who became heirs) entitles them all to life; the same kind of life lost in Adam; this is the "common salvation," Jude 1:3, and 1 Cor. 15:22, and his life vitalizes and raises to a high and glorious condition those who hear and believe (the little flock), those who feed on him, those who appropriate the divine which was in him, and thus are "made partakers of the divine nature." 2 Peter 1:3,4; Rom. 5:10; 2 Cor. 4:11.
We apprehend that the life of Christ by which we are saved (have life MORE abundantly) is the life principle which manifested itself in a series of loving labors and sacrifices for the good of others, that such a life taken in, lived (eaten), is the begetting (through the spirit) of a higher life – the pledge of immortality. This we understand to be "the faith once delivered to the saints." Jude 1:3. This is "the meat that endureth." Jesus said, John 4:34, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me." THAT was his life, and if we partake of his life on earth, we shall be partakers of his resurrection life – made "like unto Christ's glorious body." [R327 : page 4]
Then let the humility, the sufferings, the trials, the labors, and the knowledge, which, by the spirit, supported him – in short, the CHRIST be our daily food; and the faithful and wise servant will be found giving it to the household in due season, and receive the approval of his Lord.
Most of ZION'S WATCH TOWER readers will remember, that some time ago we took the position that it was more than probable that the "dead in Christ" were raised, or were then being raised, and we yet believe that the position was a true one. One thing is certain, that if Rev. 14:13, is now due [and it seems to be], then the other is true; for we will not be changed until the dead are raised.
We believe that the words, "from henceforth," are applicable at the present time. This being understood now, is strong evidence that the time of favor to come into the "little flock" ended this last fall. In harmony with the thought that the dead saints are raised, we refer our readers to Rev. 19:5-16 "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and true, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war." This verse introduces Jesus as present in power; and by reading Rev. 3:14 it will be observed that he is the "Faithful and true witness," as John spoke of him in addressing the Laodicean Church.
This will help us in fixing the time of the above scene, because the nominal churches not having been true witnesses were given up by him, spewed out of his mouth in the spring of 1878. While Jesus is represented in that spiritual condition of power, there are also others with him. "And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean." Verse 14. This company must be the risen dead, for the "fine linen" "represents the righteous acts of the saints;" (verse 8: E, D,) so that if Jesus is now present in the spiritual body [judging and making war in righteousness, verse 11], they must be also, for both are represented in the same spiritual [heavenly] condition.
According to the parallel, Jesus was due to enter on his Kingly office in the spring of 1878, and so when seen in power with his armies, "He hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of kings, and Lord of lords." Verse 16.
While Jesus and the dead saints are shown as in the heavenly, spiritual condition, the living saints who are not yet changed, are used as his mouthpiece. "And a voice came out of the throne [through them], saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great." Verse 5. Is it not significant that the teachings are now to the servants, believing, as we do, that the door is shut to the high calling? "And out of his mouth (the saints his mouthpiece) goeth a sharp sword, the word of truth, that with it he should smite the nations." Verse 15. And again, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him [the living saints his feet] that bringeth good tidings [restitution], that publisheth peace;...that saith unto Zion, thy God reigneth." Isa. 52:7.
"And his name is called the word of God," so we would proclaim no other word. Our teachings are not the "doctrines of men," but God's Word. Some may say we are not right in our teachings, for "he had a name written that no man knew but he himself." Verse 12.
No man [unregenerated] does know, but we (his body) may know, for the name written is "King of kings and Lord of lords." Do we not proclaim Jesus as now in this position, having entered on his Kingly office – and moreover, that the dead saints are risen, "kings and priests" unto God, so that Jesus is King of heavenly kings?
But no man knew "but he himself." True, but we are of him, we are the members of his body: his "feet," therefore a part of himself. Dear saints, what a glorious position is ours. THE nominal churches have been spewed out of his mouth, they are in darkness, and know not that Jesus has entered on his reign as King; and hence they know not the name written; nor do the servants yet know, for they are not of his body, not reckoned as part of Himself. What could more clearly set forth our relationship to him than those words which reveal to us that name? It also indicates that we shall soon enter on our reign with him and his armies.
BELOVED IN CHRIST: – After several months engaged in distributing and preaching the Gospel, you will doubtless be glad to hear from me again. I have had good opportunities for observing how this Gospel of the grace of God is received by the different classes in and out of the nominal churches. Only those who go forth into the world, with the real Gospel of gladness, can have a full idea of the joy and rejoicing of God's true people, when presented with these truths. And only such can realize how bitter is the opposition of many of the clergy (Scribes) and false religionists (Pharisees) who abound in the churches now, as they did in the Jewish.
I worked in nearly all the large towns of twenty states, being present also at nearly all the leading Camp Meetings, Conferences, and Assemblies of the year: distributing thousands of books, and addressing many people. At Camp Meetings it was impossible to give away books with much discrimination, but after the season for such gatherings ended, I found time and place for seasonable words about our hope, joy, heirship, and the restitution of the world at "the manifestation of the sons of God." I soon began to realize what a blessed work I was engaged in, and the glorious privilege of being a mouthpiece for the Lord.
THE true people of God who are really making good their promises of entire consecration of all to the Lord, received me with every sign of gratitude and love, and praise to God for this message of grace and love, expressing surprise that the "Food" had reached them, and gratitude to God for "meat in due season." Limited in time, I devoted it principally to those who seemed to "have an ear to hear" – the truth hungry, passing by those who seemed to think themselves rich and increased in goods and needing nothing; thus following the example of our Forerunner – convinced that now, as then, no man can come into the light except the Father draw him by his Word and Spirit of truth. There is no inducement of a worldly character to lead one of the world-conforming, Babylon people into the narrow way and race for glory. On the contrary, this teaching is most repulsive to the larger portion of the nominal church, and those who deliver them are continually subject to contempt, reproach, and dishonor. Those who for years have been carrying the honors of the world with the name of Christ in self-indulgence, feel outraged by the teaching that glory, honor, and immortality will only be given to those who take up their cross, deny self, and follow their Leader in a life separate from the world.
Most bitter in their opposition are the clergy who doubtless feel their craft endangered – some of whom obtained the books from their people when I was gone and burned them. This was especially true among the sect calling themselves "Second Adventists," strange as it may seem. They greatly fear, that which they cannot gainsay.
I now gladly recur to the effect of the truths we hold, upon the dear sainted people of God who only are the church – yet for the present much mixed up in Babylon except to God's clear vision. These were glad to get out of her, and hailed the message and the result, as a deliverance from sin. Many infidels and worldly people got to hear the message also, and often spoke of God's plan in the ages, as something reasonable, and as demonstrating his Wisdom, Justice, and Love.
Being a willing instrument in God's hand, subject to any use I can be fitted to, I now try a preaching tour, and expect to meet many of the brethren and labor together with them. Again desiring your prayers, I remain your brother and fellow worker in Christ Jesus.
I entreat you, therefore, brethren, by the tender compassions of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, well-pleasing, to God – your rational religious service – Rom. 12:1. – Diaglott.
There is very much involved in the above quotation. In fact all that precedes it, to which the word therefore refers, as a reason why a certain thing should be done; but we will call especial attention to the term sacrifice.
We have natural – animal – bodies now – 1 Cor. 15:44-46; and if we have accepted of Jesus as our ransom, they are not our own, but have been bought with a price; and we are exhorted to present them a living sacrifice, to be slaughtered – killed. But why give them?
There must certainly be a reason for so doing. THE term bodies seems to include all there is of our earthly existence. Jesus gave his life a ransom for many – Matt. 20:28 – and he gave his body – Heb. 10:10. All there was of the man Jesus, was given as ransom – 1 Tim. 2:5,6. – and we are exhorted to have the same mind that was in him. Phil. 2:5.
As he became obedient unto death, so ought we. Hereby have we known love, that as he laid down his life for us, we ought to lay down our life for the brethren. 1 John 3:16.
For the bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the High Priest, for sin, are BURNED without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing the reproach – Heb. 13:11-13.
THE proclamations of Rev. 14:6-11 having been given; Paul's mystery, "we shall not all sleep," is now due. And from this time, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord," they shall not sleep – become inactive – but be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and while they will have ended the toil and weariness of this present condition of corruption, of dishonor and weakness, they will be changed to a condition of incorruption; glory and power; and "their works follow with them."
"Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant by sacrifice." Ps. 50:2-5.
Many seem to get the idea that all that is required, is to give a certain portion of our time and substance. Cain came with such a sacrifice, and it was not received. Abel offered an animal to be killed, typifying the better sacrifice, and it was accepted. If we present ourselves we will surely present all we have also.
"What is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou visiteth him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hand; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field." (Psa. 8:4-8.)
We believe that a failure to rightly understand what constitutes A PERFECT MAN, is a fruitful source of error among christians, and tends to shroud in mystery, many Scriptures otherwise easily understood.
It is the common view, but we think unsupported by a single text of Scripture, that a perfect man has never been seen on earth – in fact that all that is seen of man on earth is only the embryo, imperfect, undeveloped man; that to reach the perfection of his nature (perfect manhood) he must become a spiritual being like unto angels, etc. This view, we think, sadly mixes Scriptures, (as well as students) instead of developing harmony and beauty, by "rightly dividing the word of truth."
We understand the Scriptures to teach that there have been only two perfect men – Adam and Jesus – Adam was created in the image of God: A fleshly image of a spiritual being; an image, in the sense that he possessed capacity for reasoning, planing, ruling, and protecting – for Benevolence, Justice, and Love, and ability to execute these, in earthly matters: characteristics which resembled his Creator. To such an extent he is an image, that God can say "Come, let us reason together."
As Jehovah is ruler over all things, so, man was made a ruler over all (earthly) things – "In our likeness, let him have dominion" – over the beast, foul, fish, etc. Thus as our text declares, God crowned him with [R329 : page 5] glory and honor and placed him (in dominion) over earth. Thus David agrees with the account in Genesis, as to man's high honors originally – with all earthly) things under his feet, or subject to him.
Genesis tells us, that God recognized the man whom he had made (not merely commenced to make, but completed) and God considered his creature "Very good." David in our text expresses the same thought when he says: "Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels." (Not a little while, as if a matter of time, but clearly and distinctly a little lower in degree.) Should we say then, that because man was a little lower, it means that he was a little less perfect than angels? Nay, but they were totally different kinds of beings; the one a lower degree of spiritual being, of which Jehovah is the highest; the other, the highest degree of animal (or earthly – fleshly) being, of which beasts, fouls, etc., are the lower degrees. Yet the highest of these earthly creatures was "a little lower than the angels," or lowest order of spiritual beings – Yet both were perfect, each according to his nature. Yes, God created man perfect and upright but he sought out many inventions through sin, by which he has woefully degenerated.
Ah yes, there is a wonderful contrast between man as we now see him, degraded by sin, and the perfect creature God called "very good." Sin has gradually exchanged the expression and features. Hundreds of generations of ignorance, licentiousness, and general depravity, have so changed humanity, that it is no longer an IMAGE of the Divine. THE moral and intellectual qualities are dwarfed and the animal propensities overgrown. He has lost physical strength to such an extent, that with all the aid of medical science, his average of life is about thirty years, whereas, at first, he survived nine hundred and thirty years under the same penalty.
Man, who was thus degraded and defiled by sin and its penalty death, working in him, is to be restored to his original perfection of mind and body, and to glory, honor, and dominion, during, and by, the Millennial reign of Christ; because his ransom has been found in the person of Christ; and "as in (or by) Adam all die, even so, in (or by) Christ shall all be made alive." (1 Cor. 15:22.) THE things to be restored by and through Christ, are those things which were lost through Adam's sin. (Rom. 5:18,19.) Man did not lose a heavenly, but an earthly paradise. Under the death penalty, he did not lose a spiritual, but a human existence; and all that was lost is purchased back by his REDEEMER.
Jesus in his pre-human existence, was, we are told, "in a form of God," i.e., he was a spiritual form or being, but since to be a ransom for mankind, he must be a MAN, and of the same nature as the sinner whose substitute in death he was to become, therefore it was necessary, for him to change his nature; and Paul tells us that he took not, or changed not, to the nature of angels, but to the nature of men – he became a man. (Heb. 2:16.) Now notice, that this teaches not only that angelic nature is not the only one on the spiritual plane of being, but that it is a lower plane or nature than that which Jesus was before he became a man. And Jesus was not then so high as he is now, for – Him hath God highly exalted: (Phil. 2:9), because of his becoming our RANSOM. He is now of the highest form of spiritual being – a partaker of the divine (Jehovah's) nature.
But, not only do we thus find that the Divine, Angelic, and Human natures are separate, distinct, and totally different; but this proves that to be a perfect MAN, is not to be an angel, any more than to be a perfect angel implies that they must become equal with Jehovah, for Jesus took not the nature of angels, but a different NATURE – the nature and form of men; not the imperfect human nature as we possess it now, degraded and marked by sin, but – A PERFECT HUMAN NATURE.
Jesus must have been a perfect man, else he could not have kept a perfect Law, which was the full measure of a perfect man's ability. He must have been a perfect man, else he could not have given a ransom for imperfect, sinful MEN; for since by MAN came death, by MAN also came the (right to a) resurrection of the dead." (1 Cor. 15:21.)
Now we have the question fairly, in another form, viz.: If Jesus in the FLESH was a perfect MAN, does it not prove that a perfect man is a human and fleshly being, full of the glorious IMAGE of his Creator, and crowned with glory and honor – "a little lower than the angels," and not an angel, not like angels, nor in any sense a being of their order and nature? Paul so teaches in Heb. 2:9. [I know your questions and texts and will answer quickly.] Let me go further, and say that if Adam was a perfect man, any subtraction or addition (except of knowledge) must render the manhood IMPERFECT, for perfection cannot be made MORE perfect.
Again, look at the second perfect man, Jesus: Possessed of all the qualities of perfect manhood, he could not be made more perfect as a man. He possessed all those qualities of perfection (shown but slightly in his sacrificial life), which could have commanded obedience of all imperfect men.
Under promise of an after high exaltation, from the human to the divine nature; to glory, honor, and immortality, he consecrated all human (earthly) hopes, aims, interests, pleasures, and with them human NATURE, too, to death. Because it is impossible to possess two natures at the same time, the human nature was given up to death before the divine nature could be received. THE human ("form of a servant") was only taken for the purpose of becoming our ransom – "that he by the grace of God, might taste death for every man." (Heb. 2:9.)
He received the divine nature fully, when, having been put to death in the flesh, he was quickened, raised to life, in the Spirit. He received an earnest, or foretaste of this birth to the divine (Jehovah's) nature, when he was begotten of the Spirit. When 30 years of age, he commenced his ministry by consecration, typified in baptism, and was sealed as accepted to the divine nature, by the Holy Spirit of promise. (John 6:27; Eph. 1:13.)
And now, he who paid our ransom, and is to bless and restore man to perfection, and then to restore the dominion of earth to him – blessed with knowledge of good and evil to such an extent that he will be able always thereafter, to choose the good; this one, now highly exalted above angels and men, and of a higher nature than either, sharing the perfection of the divine nature, is selecting a "little flock" to share with him those honors, and to partake of that same divine nature. (2 Pet. 1:4.) They, as joint heirs, are, with him, to be engaged in blessing and restoring mankind to the perfection of their nature – the human, with all the earthly glory and dominion as at first, but with knowledge and appreciation increased.
Because the present age is devoted exclusively to the development of those who shall change their nature – Christ and his Bride; and because the epistles of the apostles are devoted to the description of the interests of the "little flock" and the prize for which they are now running a race, it should not be inferred that God's plans end with the completion of that choice company. Nor, on the other hand, should we go to the opposite extreme, and suppose that these choice things – divine nature, spiritual bodies, etc., are God's design for ALL mankind. No, to rightly divide the word of truth, we should see that the Scriptures recognize the perfection of the divine nature in the little flock, and of the human nature in the restored world, as two separate things.
THE same Word of God contains earthly promises and "heavenly promises"; and it symbolically likens the earthly class to the "sands of the sea," and the heavenly class to "the stars of heaven." (Gen. 22:17.) Of the one class it is said: All the LAND which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever. (Gen. 13:15.) "And they shall build houses and inhabit them; plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them and long enjoy the work of their hands." (Isa. 65:21,22.) To the other class, who will change their nature from human to spiritual – divine promises are made – "EXCEEDING GREAT and precious promises" (2 Pet. 1:4.) – "heavenly promises." Theirs is a "heavenly calling," a calling to a heavenly or spiritual condition; it is a call to become joint heirs with Jesus, and to sit with him "in his throne." This heavenly calling is confined to the Gospel age; was never made before it, and will, as the Scriptures inform us, never be made after this age. THE earthly call, was made before the high calling, and we are Scripturally told will follow after, the Gospel age. It is during the Millennial age that mankind will have the glorious opportunity of reaching human perfection, and earthly glory, honor, and dominion; their right to that restoration having been purchased by the sacrifice of the humanity of the Christ.
Now, who cannot see a distinction between these natures, and that, though both will finally reach perfection (except those who are "cast away" as unworthy), yet, because of different natures, the perfected creatures will be totally dissimilar, except that in common they will have dispositions to do the Creator's will. We know that they will be thus alike – in harmony – one, because the perfect human was made an image of the perfect divine.
THE ancient worthies obtained a good report (record) through faith, [R330 : page 5] but received not the things God promised them, viz.: the land, peace, etc., "God having provided some BETTER thing, for us [the Gospel Church], that they [the faithful-Abraham, Samson, Moses, Isaac, Jacob, and Rahab, whose faith amounted to the hiding of the spies, etc.], without us, should not be made perfect:" (Heb. 11:40) i.e., These, to whom the earthly promises are made, cannot obtain their fulfillment until the Gospel Church is finished, and receives the spiritual things promised to it; then, through it, the earthly promises will be grandly fulfilled.
Beloved, it will help you amazingly to keep clearly in view these differences of calling and of nature. It will enable you to see why, we who would attain the high, spiritual promises should not look to Samson, Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob as illustrations of – crucifying the flesh – or following in the footsteps of Jesus; they were running for the earthly prize, we for the heavenly. Look unto Jesus as the pattern and illustration of how we ought to so run as to win the spiritual prize. He was the first to run for the spiritual prize, the "forerunner," the Leader. Look, too, to others who ran in his footsteps, Peter, Paul, James, John, etc. These are illustrious examples, of those who crucify the human nature and sacrifice it, if by so doing they might attain the new nature offered – the prize of our high-calling.
While your steps and mine may not shine so brightly as the mentioned apostles', yet the only difference in our sacrifices and work, should be those of ability and opportunity. Our wills should be as thoroughly sanctified as theirs; and if so, we may feel assured that our sacrifice is as well pleasing and acceptable to our Father by Jesus Christ, as was theirs.
But fall not into the error of supposing that crucifying the flesh means the putting away of sin. No, Jehovah would never accept sins as a sacrifice. Sins should be put away, shunned, exterminated to the best of your ability; but you sacrifice, when you deny yourself personal ease, comfort, pleasures lawful to the natural man, but which you relinquish, to do something which you recognize as the will of God. In our crucifying, etc., we are to follow in Jesus' footsteps. Did his sacrifice consist in forsaking sins? No, in Him was no sin to forsake; but he denied himself things lawful and proper to him as a man, even life itself – and thus sacrificed.
To show the contrast, we will look at Paul as compared with modern preachers. Many preachers of this day, choose the ministry as "a profession" which is honorable, has the respect of the world, and a comfortable and easy living, etc. Paul was called to the ministry by the grandeur of the "glad tidings of great joy" – he could not help preaching it, so overwhelmed was he by the "high calling," so anxious to obtain it for himself and to enable others to attain the same. He preached it despite the persecution, disgrace, and frown of the world – at the sacrifice of earthly opportunities, honors, ease, pleasures; and accounted it a pleasure to be permitted to preach, even though, instead of luxury, he was obliged to "labor, working with his hands" at very humble employment, and was often in hunger and poverty and danger. He was willing to endure all this, because he had a correct appreciation of the good tidings he preached, and of the prize it presented. And it is from a failure to apprehend either of these that the clergy of to-day deserve the severe [R330 : page 6] words applied to them by the prophet: "His watchmen are blind; they are all ignorant; they are all dumb dogs; they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber: yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough – and they are shepherds that cannot understand; they all look to their own way [self-interest], every one for his gain from his quarter." Isa. 56:10,11. Because they hold the traditions of men, they cannot see the great prize of our calling. They have not "good news," but very BAD NEWS to tell – the very worst and most awful news that could be imagined, viz.: THAT the God of love, possessed of all power and all wisdom, prearranged for the eternal misery of nine-tenths of his human creatures.
Oh, when will God's children learn that their fear toward Him is taught by the precepts and traditions of men (read Isa. 29:10-14), and that his true character is Love? When will they learn that it is because "His mercy endureth forever" that he has provided for human restitution in the next age, and for the development of the little flock in the present age, through whom to communicate the coming blessings to earth.
"THE spiritual barrenness in our local churches has been the cause of great anxiety to the official and leading men in them, and has led to some prayer and efforts for the betterment of this condition of things. THE net addition to the Presbyterian churches of the North during the last ecclesiastical year was a fraction of one convert to each church. In some parts of the country the Congregationalists have not had a dozen additions to their churches in the same number of years. Baptists and Methodists do a little better but not much. THE net addition of Baptists to the 874 churches of their faith, in this State for the last ecclesiastical year, for instance, is only 286, which is about one-third of a member for each church. More than one-half of the churches had not a single convert. THE proportion of Methodists is between two and three new members to each church of their order. In view of these facts and figures the Presbytery of New York, the Baptists' Association and the Ministers' Conference of both Baptists and Methodists have endeavored to increase the number and improve the quality of their church members and converts, by special efforts begun with the new year and continued with much regularity and interest since. Days of special prayer have been held and evangelists, male and female, have been brought hither from other cities and states."– New Yew Herald.
It might be added that nearly all of the additions above mentioned, few though they be, are from the Sunday schools; and many of them, so young as to be incapable of intelligent action. Few, very few, are converts in the true sense of the word.
Yes, the church is losing the worldly respect which for some years has been the great attraction for the worldly element. They, as well as the most pious of God's true children are getting ashamed of the hollowness of Churchianity. Nominal Zion, is beginning to lament her inability to bring forth children – "Woe unto them that are with child in those days."
This repetition of the same things from different standpoints, and with other details, is a principle which applies especially to this last book of the Bible. A failure to recognize this, is, we think one of the reasons why so many of those who study this book, fail to get sense from it.
THE portion of Scripture we are about to consider, is frequently read as though it were one connected narrative, instead of several repetitions of the first statement. Because of failure to rightly divide, some get the thought, that the "great white throne" is to be established after the Millennial age, and after Satan is destroyed; consequently, are at a loss to know why the dead are raised at that time, or how they could have a probation after the Millennial Age, and are much confused generally.[R331 : page 6]
Let us more particularly examine these pictures, all of which clearly pertain to the same period, the Millennial Age. THE first, shows us that a restraint will be put upon evil, during that age of peace and blessing. This naturally commends itself to us, as the order for a reign of righteousness presupposes a restraint of unrighteousness. Satan is the best representative of evil principles, practices and persons, being the chief and leader in wickedness.
An angel is seen, with the key of the abyss, (covered, secret, hidden place,) and a chain. THE key represents authority, and the chain represents strength. THE word angel signifies messenger, and this picture shows us, that God will send some messenger with authority and power to subdue Evil – the adversary of truth and right. In this work of binding, many agencies will doubtless take a part – an increase of knowledge probably being one of the strongest. Yet all of these agents, are typified by the one messenger. There is that about this figure, which seems to indicate that Christ Jesus, and his body, the church of the first born, is the one in whose hand is the power and authority to bind and control Evil – "To bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgments written – this honor have all his saints." (Ps. 149:8,9.) THE language, too, reminds us of one who declares that he has the keys. (Rev. 1:18.)
THE binding or suppression of evil during the Millennial Age, will result from the exercise of authority and power, by our Lord, when he shall take unto himself his great power and reign. (Rev. 11:17.) But we have reason to think that the manner in which our Lord takes his great power, and binds Evil, will differ much from the general conception of it. We believe that truth binds error, and error binds truth: like light and darkness, they are constantly opposed to each other. During this Age the powers of darkness and error hold control; but light and truth will come with the new rulership.
We believe that this New Ruler has already come, (visible only, as are all the glorious and spiritual things, to the eye of faith enlightened by the Word of God,) and that the binding is already commenced. As is God's rule – "Judgment [trial] must begin at the House of God." (1 Pet. 4:17.) Errors and evils – the devil in the church, must be bound first, and truth set free, among those who profess to be children of the light; and then it will progress, overturning errors, injustice and bad government among the World's people – thus blessing both nominal church and world, though the experience may for a time, seem a curse to both.
Many may be the instruments used in this work; some fine and polished tools from the Lord's laboratory; some moral and upright Infidels, honest in their unbelief; and some God-dishonoring and defiant unbelievers; to displace errors and prepare a place for truth. So too, among the nations, he may make the wrath of man to praise him, and perhaps use bloody-handed Communists, as advocates of civil rights, and for the overthrow of evil and oppressive governments. But the result will be, that Satan shall be bound for a thousand years. THE loosing for a little season, we will examine presently.
"I saw thrones and they sat upon them and judgment [Rotherham – judicial sentence] was given unto them." THE thrones are those of earthly kingdoms at the present time, and all under the "prince of this world." (John 14:30) These are all condemned as unfit, and are to be overthrown, to give place to the kingdom of Christ. [THE Greek word rendered judgment here, is the same rendered condemnation in the following passages: Luke 23:40; Jas. 3:1; Jude 4.]
"And I saw the persons of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God." We believe that a few of this class are now living. It is not a literal beheading, but in keeping with other figures; it is a symbolic beheading. [Some suppose this to refer to all the martyrs of past ages – but of them the fewest number were beheaded.]
Beheading, is to cut off from a head. There are many so called bodies of Christ: the Methodist body, Presbyterian body, etc., are common expressions. (THE Scriptures, of course, recognize no such division into sects; but assure us that there is only one body and one head.) Of course, each body must have a head or authority, from whence comes its government and laws. These are Conferences, Assemblies, etc., and we predict that any one connected with any of these who will "witness for Jesus," as the only head of the church, and for the "Word of God," as the only standard of doctrine, will very quickly be treated as described – beheaded – cut off from those church heads. This is in harmony with the next clause [R331 : page 7] which says they worshiped not the Beast, neither his Image, neither received his mark. These, we saw in our last number, represent sectarian systems.
This Scripture shows that such as are of this bounden class, not separated – beheaded – cut off – from others than the true head, are not overcomers, while the class described, of all ages, who will live and reign with Christ a thousand years, are. "This is the first resurrection." (Vs. 5. – We omit the first clause of the verse, which, as heretofore explained, is wanting in several of the oldest MSS.)
This reference to the first resurrection, seems to indicate that it includes all of the first fruits company – both those who "sleep in Jesus," and the living who shall not sleep, but be changed at the moment of death.*
"Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the (chief perfecting) first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."
This seems scarcely to require comment. It shows the holiness, as well as blessedness of all that reigning company. Another thought is suggested, by the fact that these shall be priests to teach, as well as kings to reign. They will not only see to the execution of God's laws, but will give instruction and assistance to mankind, such as will enable them to render obedience. Yes, it is a blessed thought, that we will be both kings and priests, (Rev. 5:10) and reign with him a thousand years.
During this reign of the Christ, all will have been brought to a knowledge of the truth, (1 Tim. 2:4) the true light will have enlightened every man, ever born into the world. (Jno. 1:9.) All will have been brought to a recognition of Christ; those in heaven, (angels) those on earth (living men) and those under the earth, (those now in their graves who must be brought to life). All will have been brought to recognize the power of Jehovah's anointed; and unto him every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess. (Phil. 2:10,11.) And all nations that God ever made (Sodomites and all) shall come and worship before him. (Rev. 15:4.) All people shall be blessed by having an opportunity to reach human perfection, and consequent perfect happiness, and life ever-lasting. This kingdom over earth, after subduing all evil, will cease by being delivered up to God, even the Father (Jehovah), as Paul tells us: "He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet: [in subjection] THE last enemy that shall be destroyed, is death." [THE destruction of death implies the raising of mankind out of it, to perfection of humanity: abolishing death and all of its incipient stages of sickness, pain, etc. This will be a gradual process, requiring all of "the times (1,000 years) of restitution" for its complete accomplishment.]
It should be remembered, that to humanity the Millennial Age is not the perfect, but the perfecting age, to be followed by that which is perfect; even as to the Bride of Christ, the Gospel Age is not the perfect, but the perfecting period, to be followed by ages of glory and perfection, of which the Millennial is the first.
And when all things shall be put under him, then shall the Son, also, himself be subject unto him (Jehovah) that put all things under him [that gave him the power]; that God may be all in all." (1 Cor. 15:25,28.)
But since all things before presentation to Jehovah must be perfect, whatever their nature; and since no sin is to go beyond the Millennial Age; therefore, it would seem but proper, that those who had experienced the blessings of knowledge and restitution, should be proved or tested, before they should be considered sin-proof. Having then reached, perfection of being and having had a previous knowledge of sin and its results, perfect obedience should be expected. Therefore Satan – evil – will be loosed a little season, in order that it may be manifested, [R332 : page 7] whether their obedience results from a fear of the punishment of evil doing, or from a heart love of God, and a desire to do those things well pleasing to him.
As evil will be bound by the infliction of punishment on the evil doer, so we may presume, it will be loosed by allowing evil deeds for a time to go unpunished; much as it is during this age. (See Mal. 3:15-18.) With full liberty to do good or evil, the actions of each individual, will show his true disposition. Some will remain faithful, called holy ones (saints) others from among all nations. (THE world will then be very populous – "as the sand of the sea"), will join the insurrection of evil; and the two classes will thus be manifested. (Vs. 7-10.) Then fire – judgments – will come upon them, and they will all be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone, [fire representing judgment, trouble, and brimstone representing extinction of life – no life is proof against the fumes of brimstone – hence the force of the symbol, as a representative of extinction.]
THE trouble and judgment into which the devil and those followers will be cast, is of the same sort as that into which the symbolic BEAST AND FALSE PROPHET, (image) are cast at the end of this Gospel Age. These we have seen to be symbols, representing, not persons but systems: and these systems are said to go alive (while they are yet active and powerful systems) into the same lake of fire or gehenna fire of trouble and destruction. This fire, is already burning we think; beginning to torment those systems and to cause pain to all who do not recognize their true characters, and the end God has marked out for them – destruction.
THE throne or kingdom of Christ will be a pure – a righteous one, here symbolized by white, the symbol of peace and purity. "A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom." (Heb. 1:8.)
THE one who sat in the throne represents THE Christ – primarily Jesus, the head, but also the overcomers who sit with him or share his glory and power (Rev. 3:21) – yet all one.
Now call to mind the definitions of the symbols, earth, heaven, and sea, given in our last issue; you will find them of service here: heaven – spiritual control; earth – organized society; sea – the turbulent masses without religious restraint. From before, or at the presence of, this enthroned Christ, all forms of evil oppression and injustice must flee – no place is found for them, indicating that they will be driven from one place after another, but can remain nowhere.
Earth – society – as at present organized, is a series of layers, or strata, or classes, each holding its position by oppressing those below it. (This class oppression is less in degree, in this land than in any other; yet even here, social caste is easily discernable.) THE "lower classes" and "upper crust" are recognizable in the entire social fabric; both in the nominal church, and in the world. THE upper classes are usually proud and haughty – the meek are oftenest found in the under strata, among the oppressed. THE present system of society will pass away – not be permitted anywhere, when the throne of Justice is established in the earth; and a new earth (system of society) will take its place; viz.: the recognition of merit, not of pride and power. Then, love to God and mankind will be the ruling principle.
This change of (earth) society begins immediately on the commencement of the dominion of Christ's kingdom. (This, we understand the Word of God to teach, was due in the spring of 1878. If correct, the elements for the overturning should already be in preparation – and we believe they are.)
A symbolic statement by the prophet (Isa. 24:1,2) is in keeping with the above exposition, God says he will turn the earth up-side-down – the "upper crust" – the proud, will be debased and the humble and meek will be exalted.
Another prophecy, often mis-applied by "Second Adventists," and others, and supposed to mean that the earth will be melted by fire, and when cooled off, be a perfectly flat surface, without hills or mountains, and thus a new earth, is found in Isa. 40:4. "Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: the crooked (perverse) shall be made straight, and the rough places plain." This we understand to be but another way of showing that society (earth) is to be reconstructed and equality of classes obtain, in which individual merit will be recognized, blended with humility and benevolence.
But, not only does the present ("earth") society pass away, but also the present "heavens" or spiritual powers of control. Satan is declared to be "the prince of the power of the air" (heavens) who "now worketh (operates or rules) in the children of disobedience." (Eph. 2:2) This one called at present, "THE prince of this world" (John 14:30), we have seen, is to be bound; consequently his control, or spiritual power, now exercised in favor of evil doing, etc., will cease, or pass away; gradually, because his binding, as shown by some prophecies, will not be fully accomplished for some 33 years.
THE fact that the present "earth" and "heaven," are to be succeeded by, or give place to, a "new earth" (society), and a "new heaven" (new spiritual powers of control also unseen, good and not evil – of Christ and not of Satan), is not here mentioned, but is afterward.
"And I saw the dead, small and great (high and low – humble and proud) stand before God; and the books were opened – and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works."
THAT this will not be a marshaling of mankind in ranks, and rows, before a literal Judgment-bench, we have heretofore shown. We believe that the world of mankind, during their day (age) for trial of worthiness or unworthiness of perfect human life, will be tried in a similar way to that in which certain ones are now being tried and tested in this day (Gospel age), to prove whether worthy or unworthy of the perfection of the DIVINE nature. THE Greek word here rendered judged, has the significance of tried or tested. Paul's use of the same word will prove this. We here give a quotation, in which he uses the same word (krino) three times: (We italicize the words translated from this Greek word.) "Dare any of you, having a matter against another, (1) go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints (2) shall judge the world? and if the world (3) shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?" (1 Cor. 6:1,2.)
Here Paul refers to the coming trial of the world, when the overcomers of the present trial, shall be their judges – judges, who like their Head, Jesus, will not only be able to assist the world as the kings, but also to sympathize with them – having been themselves tempted, in all points.
"THE dead," includes all of the Adamic race, who, during this Gospel age do not escape from the condemnation that is on the world – DEATH – by becoming partakers of spiritual life through Jesus. "By the offence of one [Adam] judgment came upon all men to condemnation," but there is "now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus;" for the law of life in Christ made such free from the condemnation of death. (Rom. 5:18; and 8:1,2.)
As during this age a little fragment of humanity escapes condemnation (death), by obtaining spiritual life offered on certain conditions, so we understand the world are to be privileged to escape from the death condemnation, by obedience to certain laws of natural life. Their right to this privilege of running for life comes as a consequence of Jesus having ransomed them.
This verse relative to the dead, [R332 : page 8] shows us how all those death condemned ones, will be on trial before the White Throne. And so surely as it is a throne of purity and Justice, their trial, as ours now, will be full, fair and impartial. THE Judge himself, has already become their bail, so that they shall have a full and sufficient trial before himself, to attain perfection of human life.
THE books opened, according to the rulings of which they will be tried, we understand to be the books of the Bible. THE church, now on trial, is being judged according to these same books – and none now are on trial, to whom those books are not to some degree opened (understood). This too, accords with Jesus' words: "My words shall judge you in the last day (period) – the Millennial day. John 12:48. (THE word here translated judge is the same word as in our text and in 1 Cor. 6:1. And the same word is rendered "sue at the law" in Matt. 5:40.)
THE words of Jesus will no longer be hidden under parables and dark sayings, that hearing the people might hear and not understand; but the secret things will be uncovered ("THE mystery of God" – the church – being finished) the books will be opened, and the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth. For God "will have all men to be saved, [redeemed] and [then] to come unto the knowledge of the truth." 1 Tim. 2:4. [R333 : page 8]
THE succeeding verse is in harmony, and says that "the sea (masses of mankind not under religious restraint) delivered up the dead which were in it:" i.e. mankind will be taken out of that condition, and brought under the restraints of the White Throne. (Consequently, when all are restrained there will be "no more sea" – see Jude 13, Jas. 1:6.) "And death and the tomb delivered up the dead which were in them, and they were judged every man according to their works." (During that age or day.)
This trial includes all the world, (but, not the saints – John 5:24,) and is indeed the grand prospect held out before them. By means of that trial, the entire groaning creation, may be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty (freedom from death) of the sons of God. Rom. 8:21,22.
Another book – of life, was opened. This suggests to us that as there is a book (record), of life, in which the names of all the Gospel Age overcomers are recorded, who are worthy of divine life, so there will be a book or record kept in the next age of those worthy of perfect human life.
THE book of life now about finished, will not be opened – the results or record will not be known until the full end of this age; then we will see those deemed worthy to be of the Bride the Lamb's wife: so too, the records of the next age, will not be opened until the end of that age, when those worthy of receiving back the dominion of earth, lost by Adam, will receive it.
Another feature of difference between the world's judgment of that age and ours of this, is, that though they will be required to have faith, yet their trial will be based on works – "judged according to their works." We, on the contrary, live in an age when perfect works are impossible, and our judgment depends largely on faith: According to thy faith be it unto thee, and works only according to our ability.
In the end of that age of trial, death and the tomb, and all not found written in their book of life, will be cast into the lake of fire – already described as representing wrath and destruction. THAT the lake of fire is symbolic, is readily seen, because death and the tomb are represented as going into the same – the tomb will be no more, and the Adamic death will be no more. (Isa. 25:7,8.) All men who are then judged unworthy of life, die: but it is the second death, and is attributable to willful sin on their own part; for the Adamic death and all its results will have been destroyed.
This brings the glory side of this glorious Millennial Age to view. THE former heaven and earth and sea passed away entirely, and the new are fully inaugurated at the opening of this scene. THE new heavens (the spiritual dominion of Christ) and the new earth, (the reconstructed condition of society) being now established; as a matter of course there will be no more sea – people unrestrained.
As the false system, or church (anti-Christ) has during this age attempted to govern the nations of the earth, so the real church – made one with the true Christ, will possess the true kingdom over earth's nations. THE one, is in Scripture called "that great City (government) that reigneth over the kings of the earth," and is also called "Babylon"; (confusion) so the other is to be a strong City called Zion and THE New Jerusalem (or "the city of the Great King" – King of kings and Lord of lords.) "God is in the midst of her, she shall not be (re-) moved."
Being the dwelling place of God – it will be the place from which he will operate in blessing all the world; for "reconciliation for iniquity" having brought mankind into harmony, and having blotted out sin, it will be meet that God's power should be engaged in lifting up and blessing all – "as God has spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets." (Acts 3:21.)
Yes, God himself shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. It was God's plan from the very first – God so loved the world that he sent Jesus: and so, of him and through him and to him are all things and we through him. (2 Cor. 5:18.) Not only do the past features of the plan indicate that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, (paying the ransom exacted by his own Justice,) but now we learn, that the Millennial work is still His. He it is, who will wipe all tears, etc. Yet, as in times past, he will use means and agencies – Christ Jesus and His Bride are to be the agencies; and as it has been all along it will still be, God in Christ and Christ in you.
How blessed the thought that we soon shall share in the wiping away of all tears from humanity. Yet this shall be our glorious mission work during that age, for wiping is a gradual work. And the tears will last so long as their cause – imperfection, pain and death exists; and these will not be fully removed until the end of that age – Then "there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away." All those evils are part of the curse – results of sin; and all being redeemed by him who was made a curse for us it is proper that in due time all should have these blessings, and the curse be forever removed.
Yes, for this cause he became a man, then gave his human life as man's ransom price from sin. And thus having bought him in his low estate, he by his new (divine) life is to bless him with full ability to regain his lost estate, as perfect man – the image of his Creator.
He that sitteth in the heavens has already declared – a "time of restitution" or making new – by the mouth of all his holy prophets, and he now tells John that promise is faithful and sure – "Write, these words are faithful and true." (margin.)
He is the A and Z, the beginner and ender of the great salvation of mankind. He surely will, as he has said, give to all that are ATHIRST of the water of life freely – all men who will, may come into harmony and live forever.
Those who are worthy of the perfect human life then, are called overcomers and "inherit these things" – the earthly kingdom, just as the overcomers of this Gospel Age are called "overcomers" and inherit spiritual things, and the heavenly kingdom.
But those who do not then renounce fully the works of darkness, have their part in the lake of fire and brimstone – are subjects of the second death. This death is for their own sins, and is everlasting; will never be ended or interrupted by a resurrection. No, Christ dieth no more, and there is no ransom from that tomb, as there was from the Adamic death.
This view seems to come back to our day, as its starting point. John representing the living members of the Bride company, is shown the Holy City (government) coming down to earth. But before he could see it, he had to go, in spirit, as high as possible above the earthly level. So we, the anti-type, may now see the kingdom of God coming: – the rule of the Highest commencing to direct and overthrow earthly things, preparatory to the full reception of the will of God on earth as in heaven."
We have here a symbolic description of this glorious government of earth. THE entire city is of pure Gold – divine glory, an untarnishing glory – the glory of God. It has "walls of salvation"; (Isa. 60:18) protection and security abide in it. Its walls will never crumble nor fall, for the foundations are built of precious jewels, and the wall itself of Jasper, clear as crystal – (probably a diamond). THE salvation walls rest securely on the finished redemption – the completed foundations as expressed by Jesus, the Apostles, and Prophets. (Eph. 2:20.)
THE city lieth four square, the height, length, and breadth being equal – a cube, a perfect figure. This is another way of showing its perfection; it is perfect toward God, as well as toward earth. [R334 : page 8]
We have already seen, that when God's kingdom (dominion) is established on earth, mankind will be brought into harmony with it, and the literal earthly city of Jerusalem will be rebuilt upon her old heaps, and will again become the great city of earth and Israel (the children of Abraham according to the flesh), as God promised – the channel through which a blessing will flow to all the nations of earth, from the spiritual seed – Christ. (Gal. 3:16 and 29; compare Rom. 11:25-33.) And when we read that it has gates in every direction, and the names of the twelve tribes of Israel inscribed thereon, it seems in perfect accord, to show Israel's position as channels, gateways, by which the world may approach to the heavenly government, and through which may come the blessings to mankind. At the gates were twelve messengers (angels). This would seem to teach that Israel will in due time be the messengers to communicate the Love and Knowledge of the Lord to all creatures.
THE city had no need of the Sun (Gospel message), neither of the Moon (the Gospel reflection – "THE Mosaic Law") to shine in it; for it is filled with the glory of God. Now we know in part, and see as through a smoked glass dimly; then, we shall know even as we are known, being made perfect as divine beings, having the glory of God.
But the nations of earth will still need the symbolic also the natural) sun and moon. In fact, it is when "the books shall be opened," that the pure and full light of the Gospel and of the Law will shine out and bless mankind. THE prophet says: "THE light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be seven fold (perfect) ...in the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people [caused by sin] and healeth the stroke of their wound." (Isa. 30:26.) But not only will the knowledge of the Lord flow out from the opened books, but the city (government – ruling) will be such as to shed light upon them. (Continued on page 2.) [R334 : page 2] (Continued from page 8.) "And the nations shall walk in the light of it." [THE words – "of them which are saved" – are omitted from the oldest Mss.]
And the kings [saints, Rev. 5:10] shall bring the glory and honor of themselves into the city. And they shall bring the glory and honor (the choice, bright, perfected) of the nations into the city. Thus we see that this government will at first contain the glory of the spiritual kings of earth, and afterward as the Millennial age progresses, the kingdom will embrace or include all of earth's pure and good – but only those counted worthy of life. Among them, will be found none defiled – for all who will, may by that time have been cleansed from all sin and defilement.
A river of water of life is seen, and trees of life whose fruit sustains life, and whose foliage heals the people. How this calls our minds back to the Paradise from whence Adam was driven on account of sin, and to the tree of life in the midst of Eden, from which he was debarred, and from the lack of whose fruit Adam and his race died.
Oh, what a picture of the "restitution of all things, which God hath spoken" – the healing of all the curse, the blotting out of sin, and with it, of misery, pain, and death, because a ransom has been paid; and he who ransomed, is the one who gloriously restores.
THE water of life which will there flow from the throne is a picture of the future; for not yet has the throne been established on the earth. We still pray "Thy kingdom come," and not until that prayer is answered, can that river of water of life flow. THE water of life is knowledge – truth – for which mankind famishes now. It will flow out bountifully when the tabernacle of God is with men. Then thirsty humanity, groaning and in painful bondage to sin and death, will be refreshed and restored.
A type of humanity may be seen in the condition of Israel in the wilderness. Thirsty, they cried to the Lord for water; the rock was smitten, and from it came forth streams in the desert. So now mankind's prayers and groans (Rom. 8:21,22) have been heard of Jehovah and he has permitted the ROCK, Christ Jesus, to be smitten. Yes, and the smiting still continues, for we are permitted to "fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ." (Col. 1:24.) And while one member is being smitten, it is true that the smiting is still in process; but when all the sufferings of Christ (head and body) are ended, then will flow forth streams of water of life, and whosoever will may drink freely and live forever. Typical Israel drank of the typical water from the typical rock; but the substance is of Christ and the whole world – whosoever is athirst may yet come to the river of life and drink freely. (1 Cor. 10:4.)
Knowledge of God (whom to know is life eternal) is now possessed to a limited degree by those now begotten of the word of truth, but it is as Jesus expressed it, in such, "a well of water springing up"; but in the next, the Millennial Age, it will be a full, broad river of truth and of the knowledge of the Lord. Now confined to the few – "a little flock," it will then be free to all. Then the little flock who now walk the narrow way to reach the grand prize of life – "Immortality" – will have reached and won the prize. THE chaste Virgin now espoused to the Son of Heaven's King, will be united to the Bridegroom – no longer the virgin, she will be the Bride, the Lamb's wife and joint heir: and her future work as Bride is shown in verse 17 – "THE Spirit and the Bride say come. And let him that heareth say, come. And let him that is athirst, come. And whosoever will let him take of the water of life freely."
In the present Gospel age we (a) members of the espoused Virgins may be used by the Spirit, in the work of taking out (selecting) the one who shall shortly be the Bride, and share the Bridegroom's name and glory and work, and this is a grand privilege; but what comfort it brings to the heart of every one begotten of the Spirit of God (Love) to know that the very object of our present selection is to enable us to be in the next age co-workers together with the Bridegroom and our Father, in blessing all families of earth by causing the water to flow freely, and inviting them to drink into the knowledge and love of God and live forever.
Trees of life seem to symbolize saints, whose leaves – professions – teachings, will heal men, and whose fruit will be adapted to the changing conditions of men as they are brought upward toward perfection – fruit suitable for each changing season, thus restoring man, to man's estate.
"And there shall be no more curse" – the curse will be gradually removed and man gradually released, under the blessings of that glorious age. There his servants shall serve him, and reign unto the age of ages, when the kingdom shall be delivered to God even the Father.