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VOL. III. PITTSBURGH, PA., APRIL, 1882. NO. 10.
ZION'S WATCH TOWER and Herald of Christ's Presence
ROCK OF AGES
Other foundation can
no man lay
A RANSOM FOR ALL
"Watchman, What of the Night?" "The Morning Cometh, and a Night also!" Isaiah 21:11
PUBLISHED MONTHLY.101 Fifth Ave., PITTSBURGH, PA.
C. T. RUSSELL, Editor and Publisher.
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.
TERMS OF SUBSCRIPTION.
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Foreign Postage being higher, our terms to foreign subscribers will be 65 cents a year. Please send us no foreign money or postage stamps as we can make no use of them. Remittances may be made by Postal Money Orders.
N.B.--This paper will be sent free to any of the Lord's poor who will send a card yearly requesting it.
VIEW FROM THE TOWER.
Everywhere the knowledge of the love of God and the grandeur of his plans seems to be spreading and deepening among his truly consecrated children. We think we rightly express the causes of its spread, when we say that not only has increase of civilization been gradually preparing mankind for a less heathenish understanding of the teachings of God's Word; but, as we recently informed a Methodist minister--all of our people are preachers, from the least to the greatest of them. They make the preaching of the "glad tidings" the chief business of life--all other business being considered secondary. Women as well as men, each according to his or her ability, preach Christ and him crucified, and the blessed results accruing to every man, for whom he died. Their preaching, though often in a humble way, shows the inestimable value of the ransom from death, far better than the flowery essays of three-fourths of the "clergy." We preach because we cannot keep the glorious news. It fires our own hearts with so much love and praise to our great God of love, that we must tell it."I love to tell the story,
It did so much for me,
And that is just the reason
I tell it now to thee."
On the other hand, those who preach the bad tidings of everlasting misery to the race in general, can only be induced to do it by larger salaries than they could otherwise make with the same outlay of service.
We hope we did not overstate the matter when we said that all who believe "this way" make preaching the chief object of life--preaching by [R335 : page 1] word, preaching by letter, preaching by dress, and manner, and looks, and deeds. We know that as we were "all called in one hope," so we were all given the same commission: "Go ye into all the world and preach this glad tidings to every creature." We were all anointed by the same spirit, for the same work as our Head-- "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the glad tidings to the meek." (Isa. 61:1.)
The glad tidings we preach is, that Jesus hath died, and there is remission; that Him hath God highly exalted "to be a PRINCE and a SAVIOUR"; and that this Prince and Saviour whose kingdom and work are soon to be recognized over all the earth, has all power in heaven and earth. He will, during his reign, exalt the meek, and bless the world by saving it out of death and sin. It is a message so grand that its opponents dare never state it fairly, lest all the world might see that, truly, "God is love"--that God's ways are not as men's ways, nor his thoughts (plans) as theirs.
Neither need you fear the influence of truth upon the worldly minded. Some delight to tell of God's plan to His children, but fear to mention it to worldly people, lest they, being freed from the fear of eternal torment, might be made worse. We believe that these things are mainly due to the saints, but have no fear of injuring any class with the truth. In the first place, people don't believe in such a place, and are seldom restrained by it. Secondly, the reason so few, except Sunday School children, become Christians now, is because they see through the shallowness of the teachings of the sects, much better than the unthinking members of those sects. They see that to claim that God possessed all WISDOM, all POWER, and all LOVE, and also to claim that nine-tenths of the race (or even one-tenth) will to all eternity wail in agony and anguish beyond all reach of God's WISDOM, POWER, and LOVE, is not only contradictory, but extremely absurd. The very thing that such need, is a glimpse at the real plan, and perfect harmony now unfolding from the Word of God. In fact, this is the only thing which can set at rest a reasonable and reasoning mind. God wants us to use our reason, and says, "Come, let us reason together."
An illustration of what we here mention occurred in this city, which we will relate. A Christian mother who had been attending our meetings and had become interested, had a son who felt little interest in Christianity. The mother endeavored to conceal from her son one of our pamphlets, which she had been reading; to her surprise and alarm, she one day found him reading it. She feared that if he got an idea that eternal torment was not a doctrine of the Scriptures, it might make him yet more careless of religion. Judge of her surprise when he remarked that this book was the most sensible thing he had ever read, and if that is what the Bible teaches, he thought he would like to be a Christian.
Again, remember the effect of these "glad tidings" upon your own heart, when first you came to KNOW the Lord in his true character of love; when first you tasted that the Lord was gracious. Then neither be ashamed of it, nor fear its effects. Truth cannot produce bad effects, as a good tree cannot bear bad fruit.
As seen from the WATCH TOWER, a book setting forth our present positions is needed, and will be ready as soon as possible. See notice of "Millennial Day Dawn," in another column. The announcement of the "Emphatic Diaglott," in this paper, at about one-third the regular price, will gladden some who need and desire this valuable work, but have been deterred from its purchase heretofore by reason of its cost.
The public laborers generally report progress. Meetings are being held in various localities. Bro. A. D. Jones is now giving a series of discourses in Newark, N.J., and is arranging for the same in New York City and in Brooklyn--The "Day Star" shines brightly and increasingly. Bro. Tackabury will travel some through western New York, holding meetings, commencing this month. We may also count among the public preachers Bro. Graves, who for many years has been not only a "commercial traveler," but a railroad train preacher and tract distributor. He is rejoicing in the shining present truth, and has done good in preaching it, distributing "Food" during the past six months. Bro. Boyer will, for the present, remain in Pittsburgh, where he will do some mission work among his numerous friends and former co-laborers in the temperance work, meantime giving much time to the study of the Word which is able to make us wise; preparing himself thus for more public work.
Bro. Keith, after having spent a pleasant and, we trust, profitable time with the saints at Lynn, Newark, and Chambersburg, and visited us at Pittsburgh a few days, started west for Elyria and Norwalk, O., Argos, Ind., and sundry towns in Mich. We are requested to announce his coming to the following places at the dates specified, where he will be happy to meet and commune with those joint-heirs who "seek for glory, honor, and immortality." He will be in season, for meetings on the dates below specified.
Buchanan, Mich., April 2d; Hartford, Mich., April 7th; Lapeer, Mich., April 15th; Almont, Mich., April 21st; Brockway Centre, Mich., April 26th; Detroit, Mich., May 2d.
Bro. K. will be in season to commemorate our passover Lamb's death with the Buchanan friends on Sunday night, April 2d. May the Lord bless and prosper his visit among you and cause that it work for your nourishment in spiritual things--your growth in grace, knowledge, and faith. We pray similar blessings upon the labors of the other brethren mentioned, as well as upon others who publicly minister, and upon the thousands who are in a more private way, as "living epistles" letting their light so shine as to glorify their Father in heaven.
We have many inquiries from England, relative to preaching--if there are among those interested in these things there, some who can declare them publicly, they have a great and grand field. Let us hear from you. Some one or two should be in London.
We are in possession of many refreshing and encouraging letters, but owing to a lack of space, we are unable to publish them in this issue.
MILLENNIAL DAY DAWN.
This is the title of a new book we are about to publish. It will contain some matter already published, and much that will be new. It will contain a statement of what we understand to be the plan of God, an explanation of the most prominent symbols of the book of Revelation, together with comments on many of the "parables and dark sayings" of Jesus and the Apostles, and the Scriptural time proofs showing our present whereabouts on the stream of time, written in a clear and pointed, yet as condensed a manner as possible.
It will not only be such a book as you would desire to loan to interested ones, and would want to study yourself, but it will be arranged with a view to making it a
BOOK OF REFERENCEon almost all theological subjects.
It will contain matter from the pens of several brethren well known to the readers of the WATCH TOWER, yet the work will not mention the name of any writer. We have thus arranged for several reasons: First, we shall thus have the benefit of the ability of several writers, each of whom may excel in his own peculiar channel; Second, such a method will serve to restrain personal pride and egotism, so often lamentably noticeable among men who have "written a book"; Third, it will be advantageous to you as readers, teaching you [R335 : page 2] to lean not on the words or opinions of any man, but to test all things solely and only by the Word of God --"that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." Lastly and chiefly, we hope that by thus veiling humanity, the glory of truth's Divine Author may the more appear.
The price will be fixed at such a sum as will place it within the reach of all--just about cost and postage, probably 50 cents for cloth bound.
This work is made necessary, not only by reason of the edition of "Day Dawn," published in 1880, being about exhausted, but also from the fact that since its publication, many precious and brilliant jewels of truth have been found. By reason of our being in "The path of the just which shineth more and more unto the perfect day," no book could be written which would long be a fresh and full expression of the ever unfolding beauties of our Father's Word and plan."And still new beauties shall we see,
And still increasing light."
The name which we have selected will distinguish it from the old "Day Dawn," and yet is sufficiently like it to identify it with the edition which we have advertised the world over in the "Food." However, after the present edition of Day Dawn is exhausted, you may, for abbreviation and convenience, use the same name for the new work, and it will be understood by us. We have on hand about 100 COPIES OF "DAY DAWN," cloth bound, the price of which, we will reduce to 50 cents each to close them out before the new work appears. Address, C. T. RUSSELL,
No. 101 5th Ave., Pittsburgh, Pa.
THE SEVEN CHURCHES. "The Revelation of Jesus Christ,"which God gave to him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass, is a book of pen-pictures of events and of periods of earth's history--from Christ's first advent onward--usually in groups of seven succeeding stages; several of the groups running more or less synchronous, or parallel in time, with each other.
The seven messages to the seven churches, to be in harmony with the rest of the book, must also mark or be directed to seven succeeding periods in the history of the church. The remarkable harmony between the prophecy and that history not only leaves no doubt of this interpretation, but is an unanswerable proof of the inspiration of the book, and a pledge to our faith in what remains unfulfilled.
In Ch. 1:11 we are given the names of the cities to whom the messages are sent. Seven cities then existing, and which remain (some in ruins) until the present. Whether the condition of these local churches in John's time was such as would be specially and respectively blessed by these messages, we know not; but it seems evident that these cities were chosen from a peculiarity in their names which fitted God's purpose. We will notice this in due time. In verse 12 and onward we have a description of the appearance of the glorified Saviour and his surroundings, some feature of which seems to be peculiarly fitted to each church; and is quoted in the message to it, as if saying, remember who it is that speaks.
These churches are placed in Asia. The Roman province of Asia was a part of that district which we now call Asia Minor, and embraced only the southwest half of the peninsula.
The word Asia means muddy or boggy. Any one doomed to a long journey through a wild bog would, we think, before he got through, have a tolerably correct idea of the pathway of the church during the past 1800 years; especially if the greater part was traveled in comparative darkness--what with pitfalls and treacherous ground, with will o' the wisps and fog, it would prove a hard journey. True, the church has always had a polar star, but the mists of the Babylonian mystery had nearly hidden it.
Ephesus was the capital or chief city of the province of Asia. Being the first or chief city of the province, and from or through which the laws, proclamations, etc., would go forth, it fitly represents the first period of the church. The church of Christ and his apostles. We believe implicitly the records left and the proclamations made by the messengers of that first church--Matthew and his three co-laborers, Peter, James, John, and Paul. But why? "These things saith he who is holding the seven stars in his right hand, who is walking in the midst of the seven lampstands --the golden." [Young's trans.] These, who were to be messengers to all the churches, were so held in the grasp of Christ that they could not waver or deviate. We accept the fact of their inspiration, and receive their writings as from the right hand of him who guided their pens.
We accept another fact, that only the spirit of him who in Spirit has walked with his church all the way down, can make clear the messages given in the Word. Moreover, we believe it is only because he is again personally present in his church, that such an abundance of light is now given--such as the church never had during his absence.
The Lord commends this church for its works, toil, and patience; and because "thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars."
Why, in apparent opposition to the general command, "Judge not," are they commended at this and only this time for trying these false teachers? Because to the first church (and to her only) was given the supernatural power of discerning of spirits. The cases of Ananias and Sapphira, of Simon and Elymas the sorcerers, and others, reveal this power.
After those gifted ones fell asleep, the enemy, without hindrance, came and sowed tares among the wheat; and then the command was not to pull them up, but to let both grow together until the harvest. In opposition to Christ's command, the servants have, all the way down, been trying to pull tares; but of course they pulled wheat, just as our Lord had foretold. Now, in the harvest, the tares are being revealed and bound in sectarian bundles preparatory to the fire. Verses 4 and 5 show us that the "Ephesus" period reaches down to where the church began to lose her first love.
"Thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate." Nicolans, in Greek, has the same meaning as Balaam, in Hebrew; and means a conqueror or lord of the people.
In the Ephesus, and also in the Pergamos periods, there were those who loved to lord it over the Lord's heritage. It was the old contention --who should be greatest in the kingdom? "Which thing I hate," emphatically says Christ. Those whom God makes leaders will be the last to boast of it.
"Him that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith unto the churches." Jesus often used these words, evidently to show us that there are some messages sent which are not for all, but to those (overcomers) who are prepared to receive them. Our Lord recognizes two classes in the church all the way down--the nominal Christian, and the overcomer. To these last, who had gladly yielded up the pleasures of life for the truth's sake; who, like Paul, had spent their lives in hardship, even unto death, spreading the good news, there is a blessed promise of rest, a feast of life, and unending joy "in the Paradise of God."
[To be continued.]
BIBLE STUDENTS' HELPER.
Many inquiries come relative to helps to Bible study, and doubtless many desire information on the subject who have not written.
To all such we would say that the most valuable publication of the kind known to us is the Emphatic Diaglott. It contains the New Testament in the Greek by Griesbach; also a word-for-word English translation of the same, placed directly under the Greek text, so as to be of greatest service to the student; it contains also an arranged version based on the readings of three very old Greek MSS. Altogether, we can say for it, that in our estimation it is the most valuable translation of the N.T., extant, for both the English and Greek student.
We have for some time felt that our readers would be much benefited by its aid, and have furnished them to you at the wholesale price, $2.95 (cloth bound), the retail price being $4.
Many, especially of the poorer of our readers, will be glad to learn, that we have come across a lot, new and fresh in every particular, and but slightly damaged in the fly-leaves. To all intents and purposes they are the regular $4 books--in no respect do they differ, except in the front "fly-leaves."
We have purchased the 83 copies of the above described, and will furnish them to our readers at $1.50 per copy (this includes postage). Those desiring should send at once as we are confident this number will not half supply the wants of subscribers. Orders will be filled in rotation.
Let us add a word: It is important that we should each provide ourselves with helps in study; better deny yourselves some of the luxuries of food or clothing (sometimes almost considered necessities), and be possessed of needed assistants for direction in the heavenly course.
THE INVISIBLE LINE.
The restraint of the Gospel is the most perfect liberty. A divine hand holds us from evil that we may be free to do good.
When I was a child my nearest neighbor had occasion to repair some breaks in the roof of one of his barns. So he sent his "hired man" aloft to do the work. There was not a sign of any staging built nor so much as a cleat nailed on to steady himself by. But, catching a glimpse of the man, from our place, I saw him walking up and down the old fashioned roof as erect and unconcerned as if he were only pacing a parlor floor. So I was naturally curious to learn how he did it. But coming a little nearer, I saw a long, tough cord securely tied about his waist and extending over the ridge of the roof, while down in the rear of the barn stood the proprietor holding the cord very firmly with both hands. When the man wanted to walk down toward the eaves, he would sing out, "More rope, more rope!" Instantly the proprietor would hear him, though out of sight, and would begin cautiously paying out the cord, a few inches at a time. When the workman wished to return and ascend the steep roof, he again called out the proper signal, the rope would tighten, and he would walk up as leisurely as he would have mounted a broad stairway. Now this man was bound with the cord and firmly held by the power of another. But who can fail to see that this restraint was really what gave him liberty. The more carefully the cord was grasped and handled the [R337 : page 2] more complete the liberty of the workman--not to fall and to break his neck, but to go up and down and do the repairs in safety. The bond made him free.
So God gives men liberty, through the restraints of the Gospel. He throws the cords of his protection around the believer, allowing him to go up and down at will, scaling heights, treading paths of danger, passing securely anywhere in response to the call of duty. His bonds always, draw upward, never downward. The freedom which sin gives, of which so many boast, is the freedom which the breaking or the loosening of that cord would have given to the man upon the roof-- perfect freedom to loose his footing and to plunge into remediless ruin. He who is willing to submit his erring nature to the divine restraints of the Gospel, will forever "walk at liberty," unhampered by self, untouched by sin, and carry with him a witness of safety and of peace that armed guards and castle walls and munitions of rocks could not assure. --N.E. Methodist.
MISTAKES will occur from various causes, and some of our subscribers fail to receive their papers. If you have subscribed and paid for the paper, or if you have asked to be put on "the Lord's poor" list, within a year, and do not receive it, be assured that if the fault is ours, it is unintentional.
All such will oblige us by sending a postal card, stating their case, and we will attend to it. The trouble is often caused by irregularity in country post-offices, and many times by incompleteness of address furnished us. Please be very particular, and on every letter or card give your full address. Write it very plainly; we have a number of letters, the addresses of which we cannot decipher, and on which much valuable time has been wasted.
IN consequence of our decision to publish the "Millennial Day Dawn," the Oct., Nov., and Dec., 1881, numbers of the WATCH TOWER will not be re-published as once proposed. The three leading articles of those numbers will appear in the book.
SUNDAY evening, April 2d, after 6 P.M., will be the anniversary of the "Lord's Supper"--that date corresponding to the time of its institution as mentioned in our last issue. We again remind you of it, and suggest the appropriateness of its celebration on that occasion. We would be glad of a card from all companies of three or more who meet and celebrate it.
WE'RE DEAR TO GOD.O, when Christians meet and part,
This thought is graved on every heart--
We're dear to God!
The future Princes in disguise
Each look on each with loving eyes,
All dear to God.
O, wonder! to the Eternal One,
Dear as His first beloved Son;
Dearer to Jesus than His blood,
Dear, since the Spirits fixed abode,
Yes, dear to God.
Though frailties cause each other pain,
Still does this thought our love retain--
We're dear to God!
When truth compels us to contend,
What love with earnest searchings blend,
Since filled with God.
When any glance from pilgrim's lot,
Back to earth's charms, forget them not,
But win them back with love and prayer;
And leave them not to perish there--
Those dear to God.
Shall we be there so near, so dear,
And be estranged and cold whilst here
If dear to God?
No, though by cares and toils oppress'd
We've found in God our perfect rest,
Love binds our hearts and heals our woes;
We cannot do enough for those
So dear to God!
WEALTH OF THE SAINTS.
While in this body of flesh accompanied with the frailties of our first parents, with our heritage of death ever present in mind, and a law in our members waring against the law of our mind, how easy it is for us to fall into the spirit of the world, and under value or fail to appreciate the riches which the "little flock" have as an inheritance through Christ, our head. The inestimable value of our riches through Him was aptly illustrated by a friend in a letter lately received. The illustration was something as follows:
Not long since, having become involved in debt, our creditor secured a judgment against us, and we were cast into prison. A friend of ours understanding the situation we were in, bought the claim against us and set us at liberty. Not long after he informed us, that having become acquainted with the location of a certain rich gold mine, and on inquiry finding that it could be purchased for one hundred thousand dollars, and he having just that amount, purchased it, knowing that when developed it would be worth as many and more millions, offered to make us (there were several of us), equal partners with himself, except that he would manage and be at the head of the concern, if we would put in all we had.
This was an offer of such uncommon, unheard of liberality, that it was almost bewildering in its nature, and with embarrassment we cast about to see if we could find anything of value to offer.
Finally we were compelled to admit that we were actually penniless, and all we had, (and that was not worth mentioning) was a few filthy rags, and that it was because of our extreme destitution that we were unable to pay the debt that caused the imprisonment, from which he had gained our release; whereupon he informed us that our riches consisted in our personal worth.
That he had paid for the mine, and now what was needed was willing, capable persons, who would put in their all of time and talent, and sacrifice every other interest to the development of the resources of this mine; that none would be more likely to be faithful and true than those who felt that they owed a debt of gratitude to the head of the concern, and none more capable, nor more acceptable.
At first it seemed too good to be true, and it was with some difficulty that we could bring ourselves to believe that he was really in earnest. We plead that we were indeed so poor that we could not clothe ourselves in proper attire to associate with a person of such wealth and dignity as himself.
In reply he said, that as for wealth, we should be wealthy like himself, and as for the apparel, he would clothe us with proper garments from his own wardrobe when the time came for us to be recognized as partners.
But an important pre-requisite was that we were first to go through a systematic course of education and training in order to fit us to be partners in a concern of such magnitude and significance, adding that the training would involve an acquaintance with the various elements of nature, earth, air, fire, water, &c., and that becoming acquainted with these, great danger and suffering would be incurred; but after that, the whole business would be to superintend the work, and would be most pleasant and profitable. We agreed to the terms and they were signed and sealed in the presence of witnesses.
In this parable, as it may be called, we can see the picture of man's poverty, bankrupt and in prison. Christ's love and sympathy for a lost race, and the price he paid for the mine, all he had, and the conditions of co-partnership with him; a giving up and sacrificing all we have.
In the offer of partnership, though to be preceded by disciplinary education and trial, even so as by fire, we see the conditions of our high calling held out to view.
But few will accept such conditions; but few will share in such glory.
But we are persuaded that the "sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us, For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God." Rom. 8:18,19.
J. C. SUNDERLIN.
THE WORD OF GOD.
The Greek word, logos, translated word in vss. 1 and 14 of this chapter, would be properly translated by the words, intention, plan, purpose, or expression. Apply this definition to the following passages where the same word (logos) occurs: Acts 10:29. "I ask therefor for what intent (logos) ye have sent for me." Acts 4:29. "Grant unto thy servants that with all boldness they may speak thy word"--declare thy plan, purpose, or intention. Acts 8:4. "They that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word," plan or purpose of God. Acts 18:11. "Teaching the word (intention, plan or purpose) of God among them." Mark 4:20. "Such as hear the word (intention, plan or purpose of God) and receive it." Matt. 24:35. "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words (plans or purposes) shall not pass away."
With this understanding then, we may thus read John 1:1. "In the beginning," before anything was created, and when none existed, but Jehovah, "was the word"--plan, intention, or purpose of God. Yes, God had a well defined, and matured plan, formed in his own mind before it found expression in the slightest development. The great Architect of the universe and Author of all life, first counted the cost, and reckoned that all should culminate to his honor and glory. (Luke 14:28-31; Rev. 4:11.)
"And the word (plan or purpose) was with God." So far, it existed only in his own conception; it was his own thought, intention, plan, purpose, not yet expressed.
"And the word was God." The term logos, not only applied to the plan existing only in the mind, but also to the expression of that plan. We understand this text then, to mean that the word--plan or purpose of God found its first expression in the creation of him, who was "The beginning of the creation of God"-- "The first born of every creature" (who afterward became the man, Jesus). Rev. 3:14 and 1:5. Col. 1:15; and who is now fully exalted to the divine nature, and still "His name is called the "Word of God." Rev. 19:13.
This being, in whose creation, Jehovah's plan began to find expression, is here called a God--"And the Word [expression of the plan] was God." The word God signifies mighty one; but not always the All-mighty One. It is the translation of each of four Hebrew words--el, elah, elohim, and adonai, all signifying the mighty, or great. It is a general name, often and properly applied to our Heavenly Father, as well as to Jesus, angels, and men. (Deut. 10:17. Gen. 32:24,30; Judges 13:21,22; Jer. 16:13, 10:11; Exod. 7:1.) In Psa. 82 the distinction of beings translated by the word God is very marked: "God (elohim) standeth in the congregation of the mighty (el); he judgeth among the Gods" (elohim). Here the first word, God, evidently refers to Jehovah, the All-mighty one, while the others evidently refer to other mighty ones--the church, the sons of God, of whom Jesus is the head or chief. Again vs. 6, "I have said ye are Gods (elohim); and all of you are children of the Most High (el yon, the highest God), yet ye shall all die like men." We, now, though sons of the Most High die and appear to men nothing more than the others. In us, as in our Leader and Head, God is manifest in our mortal flesh. (See John 10:35 and 2 Cor. 4:11.)
The Hebrew word Jehovah, is the distinctive name of the Almighty Father and is never applied to any other being--"I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac and unto Jacob, as God Almighty, (el--God shaddai-- almighty) but by my name JEHOVAH, was I not known to them." Exod. 6:3. In our common version (O.T.) its distinctiveness as a name is lost, being generally rendered the Lord.
"And the word was God." The Son of God (afterward called Jesus,) is here called THE WORD, because Jehovah revealed his word--plan or purpose, through him. It was an eastern custom for kings to have an officer, called the King's Word or Voice, who stood upon the steps of the throne, at the side of a lattice window, where there was a hole covered with a curtain. Behind this curtain the king sat and expressed his commands to this officer, who communicated them to the officers, judges and attendants. It is from this custom we presume, that the phraseology of the text is derived.
Primarily then, the word refers to the plan of God, and it is afterwards applied to the messenger of that plan --the Son of God.
Vss. 2 and 3, "The same (being) was in the beginning (of creation) with God. All things were made by him, (as the agent of Jehovah) and without him was not anything made that was made." He then, as here plainly stated, being the first and chiefest of Jehovah's creatures, was honored by him, as the agent through whom all things, both animate and inanimate were afterwards created-- "Without him was not anything made."
Jehovah had no beginning but is "from everlasting to everlasting;" (Psa. 90:2) hence that which is here called the "beginning" must refer to the beginning of creation.
"In him was life." How brief this expression, and at first sight how simple and seemingly absurd. If the surface meaning were taken, the statement of such a self-evident truth would indeed be absurd--that in the Son of God, who was Jehovah's agent in the works of creation, was life. But let us look deeper, and we will see that it is just like God's grand and eloquent brevity. Since the accomplishment of the work narrated in verse 3, the Son of God had laid aside the glory of his pre-existent condition, and become a man. As a man, he had lived 30 years--the maturity of manhood, and had consecrated his human being to death. Here he received the earnest of his after, high exaltation--the begetting of the Spirit, to the Divine nature, to which he was born in the resurrection, when the consecration of the human being to death, was actually accomplished. In the Son of God--the Word--Jesus, then, from 30 years of age, was this Divine life which he never before possessed. (See "Narrow way to Life," page 134, of "Food for Thinking Christians.") "And the life (this divine life) was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness apprehendeth it not." (E. Dia.)
Verses 10 and 11. He was in the world and the world was made by him; and the world (of mankind) knew him not. He came unto his own, (people--the Jewish nation) and his own received him not.
But, though the world knew him not, neither did his own receive him, yet, nevertheless--vs. 9, "That was the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." This Light has not yet enlightened every man. It now lights only those referred to in vs. 12--"as many as received him and believed on his name." To this class--believers-- "gave he privilege (margin) to become sons of God" (vs. 13, E. Dia., begotten...of God)--on condition that they follow in his footsteps, sacrificing the human nature. These, throughout the Gospel Age, "walk in the light," and like their Head, Jesus, are "lights in the world." (Phil. 2:15.) But still the world fails to apprehend the light, and will, until Jesus and all the members of his body--followers in his footsteps --constituting the Heavenly City (Rev. 21:2) are as "a city set on a hill (which) cannot be hid." (Matt. 5:14.) Yes, this heavenly city "shall be established in the tops of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it:" (Isa. 2:2.) "And the nations shall walk in the light of it." (Rev. 21:24.) Then this "true light (shining in its strength, from the exalted Divine Christ--head and body, will) lighten every man that cometh into the world." [R338 : page 4]
That this interpretation of vss. 4 and 5 is correct, is proven by vss. 6,7,8, and 15. John came six months before Jesus' baptism, and begetting to the divine nature, bearing witness of the coming light, saying, "There cometh one after me, who is preferred before me."
Jesus had already come as a human being, and had, as John declared, existed before him, not as a man, for John was six months older than Jesus; but in his glorious pre-human condition. In what sense, then, did Jesus come after John's preaching? We answer that at the time of his consecration and typical baptism, he came as the Anointed One, the Christ, the divinely begotten Son of God, and consequent light of the world.
Vs. 14. "And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us."
As in verse 3, we are informed of the glory and power of the pre-existent Word, and in vs. 4, ignoring the subsequent human nature for which he left that glory, we are informed of that divine life which is ultimately to enlighten every man that cometh into the world; so vs. 14 goes back to tell how he left the glory which he had with the Father, gave up his spiritual being, and became a human being.
"And we beheld his glory (the glory of his perfect humanity), the glory as of the only begotten of a father." His perfect human nature shone with such lustre in contrast with all other imperfect men, that he seemed not to be a son of the fallen race, but the only begotten of some perfect being--and such he was, a new creation of God, the second direct human creation of God, just as Adam was the first, though Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, while Adam was formed from the dust of the earth.
Vs. 16. "And of his fullness have all we (believers) received." Yes, of that same fullness of favor with God, which Jesus enjoyed because of his sinless perfection, have all we received because of our justification through faith in his blood. Thus Jesus lifts believers up to the plane which he occupied, into fullness of favor and communion with God--"justified freely from all things."
"And grace for grace," or favor on account of favor: that is, being lifted from the condition of rebels and sinners to that of justification by faith, was one act of favor; then that favor opened the way for another favor-- viz., the call to become partakers of the Divine nature, to become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus by suffering with him.
Yes, with Paul, because of this grace (of justification) wherein we stand, we rejoice in hope of the glory of God (Rom. 5:2); reckoning that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Rom. 8:18.)
Vs. 17. "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." Here a contrast is drawn between the Jewish and Gospel Ages: In the former, only the Law (the shadow of good things to come in and after the Gospel Age) was given. But it could never give life, because none were able to measure up to its requirements. "But grace"--the payment of our ransom price, and not only so, but also the additional favor--"truth," or the knowledge of God's plan, and our high-calling as revealed through it-- both these favors came by Jesus Christ. "The appearing of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, brought life (the 'restitution' to perfection of humanity) and immortality (believers' high-calling) to light." (2 Tim. 1:10.) This special favor ("grace"), and this wonderful knowledge ("truth") then, are peculiar only to the Gospel Age.
In the brief space here considered what a glorious biography we have presented to us, of the once glorious spiritual, subsequent perfect human, and now "highly exalted" Divine, Immortal WORD. Here it stands on the sacred page in its simple, eloquent brevity as dictated by the spirit of Jehovah. Behold what grace the Father bestowed upon him--"That all men (and all created beings) should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.""If all the world my Saviour knew,
Then all the world would love Him too."
Thank God the happy day will soon dawn when this knowledge shall fill the whole earth.
Beloved followers in his footsteps, "behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we, (as partakers with him, and joint-heirs of the same things) should (also) be called the sons of God."
At a meeting of the local Evangelical Association held in the First Presbyterian Church of this city, March 6th, Dr. Bittinger, of Sewickly, read an able essay on the "Eschatology of St. Paul," or the Apostle's teachings relative to death and judgment. The paper required more than an hour for its delivery. The last paragraph, which we quote below, gives the gist of the argument, and in our opinion shows a marked step toward truth, by an able and seemingly fearless man.
We would be glad to see more men of nerve, and of intelligent, untrammeled interest in the teachings of Paul and all the Scriptures. But so surely as they step upon the Word of God as a basis of faith, they will find, as did this essayist, that the traditions of men are sadly out of joint under the present rule of anti-christ. Mark and ponder well the force of the argument of this brother just awakening to a realization of the shortness of the "bed" (creed) in which he has been resting. (Isa. 28:20.)
"In conclusion, accept a few remarks and reflections. I have been struck with the prominence which Paul gives to the coming of Christ, in his epistles, speeches, and sermons; the many direct statements of the dogma, and the still more numerous allusions and references to it. I am struck and startled by the practical value of this doctrine for exhortation, encouragement, comfort, warning, and vigilance. It is the farthest goal set for this life, and to appear blameless at Christ's coming is the highest aim of Christian living. It is evident that with Paul and the primitive Christians, Christ's coming took the place of our popular conception of heaven. We are refugees fleeing from a pursuing wrath; they were pursuers of hope, looking for a deliverer. We think, speak, and sing of going to heaven; the Apostles wrote and spoke of Christ's coming from heaven, and to this expectant King all David's psalms were set. We think of the judgment, with fear, trembling, and horror; they thought of it with solemn joy. I might mention other things, but these are enough to show that the modern Church does not conceive of Christ's second coming as the Apostolic Church did. As a practical doctrine, it has no place in our theology, no influence in our lives. Has the virtue all gone out of it, or have we fallen away from the faith once delivered to the saints?"
Truly a wonderful awakening of the people, relative to what is taught in the Bible is in progress. Thousands of letters from all parts of this country and Great Britain, give abundant evidence that people will no longer "stop thinking," or "burn the book" at the behest of self-satisfied sectarians, interested only in the upbuilding of their party and its views, and not in the elucidation of Bible truth.
Oh, how sad it is, that the so-called pastors care only to have their flocks asleep and dreaming, and will not lead them to the beautiful, fresh fields of living truth, and streams of living water. On the contrary, they seek by every means to prevent the sheep from eating Food by raising the cry of POISON. Their flocks may drink deeply into pleasure of the world, or satiate themselves with worldly business, and it is all "very natural"; but let them seek to acquaint themselves with the teachings of their Father's Word, and they are the subjects of prayers, entreaties, expostulations, and threatenings. They are told that they are on the road to infidelity and hell, and that the only cure is to "stop thinking, and get at church work." If it is true that to be a christian to-day means that we must "stop thinking," and be mere MACHINES, controlled by the theological schools, then is that Scripture out of place in which God says: "Come, let us reason together"--and again, "Search the Scriptures"--and again, the Scriptures "are able to make thee wise."
Yes, it seems to be one of the snares which Satan sets for the saints' feet: He gets them to work at holding fairs, festivals, and church lotteries, in the belief that that is working for Jesus. Perhaps it is to cancel a church debt which Satan prompted them to incur, to minister to religious pride. And we might add, much of the other church work seems to us conducive to evil results, and hence attributable to evil. For instance, it has become fashionable for nearly all churches to have three meetings on Sunday, and four or five during the week. This absorbs all the spare time of many, and leaves them weary of religious things, and without any time for Bible study, or thought on the "deep things of God."
The meetings do not give spiritual nourishment and strength, but merely soothe the minds of some who think that thus, they please God, work for Jesus and bear the cross, while instead, much of it is the merest nonsense, conducive to self satisfaction.
True christians see through the hollowness, and endeavor to have their hearts fed by secret worship and communion, and conclude that because all christians and ministers do and sanction this system, it must be right. Thus, this which is called work for Jesus, is in reality an arrangement with Satan to make people "stop thinking"--He puts them to work; since he cannot get them to do evil, he does get them to work so hard and so much that they can get little good and no truth.
We were struck with the operation of this plan as practiced by a minister of Allegheny city, recently. An elder of the church came twice to our afternoon meetings to get some "Food." He was spotted as a sheep likely to jump from the fold, and being a sheep of some means and influence, he must be penned again. Accordingly the minister was informed, and he visited the elder, who candidly said that he had gone to our meetings to hear for himself, and so far he had heard nothing which he thought was unchristian or unscriptural. He excused himself by saying, that he had gone because they happened to have no afternoon meetings in their church. Before the next Sunday a meeting was appointed for the afternoon hour and this poor sheep was made its leader.
If we are correct in judging, that much of the work, is arranged by and in the interest of Satan, and he has able helpers in many of the under-shepherds.
How does the chief shepherd regard such tenders of the flock, think you? As there are kinds of work owned and accepted of God, so there are exceptions among the ministers.
To any who doubt our conclusions we say, "Come, let us reason together," test your preacher and see whether he is able to show you how and where our Bible based teachings are wrong. But if he says "stop thinking," "burn the book," or any [R340 : page 4] other unchristlike or unreasonable thing, conclude that he cannot meet it fairly. If they offer theory, or if they speak disparagingly of those "of this way," remember that ours is only a repetition of the experience of Jesus, the Apostles, and of the reformers--Knox, Wesley, Luther and all who ever proclaimed advanced truth. Answer all opponents with a "Thus saith the Lord," or a "Thus it is written," and ask them for Scriptural proofs for their utterances. To this end, study to show yourselves workmen approved unto God, that you may be able to give to every man that asketh you, a reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. (2 Tim. 2:15, and 1 Pet. 3:15.)
You will be sure to find that their titles and knowledge of their own line of theology, is the extent of their stock; and of Bible knowledge, they have very little--next to none. (Isa. 29:10-14.) Then, too, if ever so well posted in the Scriptures, there is very little which can be applied in harmony with their creeds.
Then, with charity for them, and love for all the sheep, go to the storehouse of the chief shepherd; there drink in the truth and give to others, fearless of infringement upon any theological patent, and God will bless you with refreshing draughts.
"Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, (right and truth) they shall be filled," if they know the voice of the shepherd and follow him.
LET THE SAME MIND BE IN YOU WHICH WAS ALSO IN CHRIST JESUS.
Guard against impatience when any deny this doctrine, or call in question your experience of its blessings. There are very good men who do not understand this doctrine as we understand it. They have been led by education and training to look at it from a different standpoint, and consequently have arrived at different and opposite conclusions. To [R340 : page 5] betray impatience when conversing with them, will help to confirm them in their unscriptural views and their opposition. Let this grace dwell in you so richly that nothing shall move you. Let the opposers of the doctrine see in your spirit a manifestation of its fruit.
Holiness and truth will not long exist without opposition; and the most perfect holiness, purest truth, will provoke the greatest opposition. Birds, when they can, generally peck at the choicest and ripest fruit; so the beak of slander generally strikes the holiest and ripest Christians. No matter how closely we may walk with God, or how blamelessly we may walk before men, some will charge us with imperfection, or perhaps with sin. To the blinded Jews and Pharisees, Christ himself was guilty of great imperfection and even blasphemy. And strange as it may seem, this opposition will come chiefly from professors of religion. "Those who love God with all their hearts," says Wesley, "must expect most opposition from professors who have gone on for twenty years in an old beaten track, and fancy they are wiser than all the world; these always oppose sanctification most." But opposition to the doctrine of entire sanctification, if the friends of it take care to exhibit it in their lives, will tend to spread it. Opposition should not be courted, but it should never be feared, and it should always be borne in a meek, sweet spirit. If we retaliate when an injury is done us, it shows that self is not dead.
Beware of disputes and quarrels with fellow-christians. If any use sharpness of speech with you, and try to breed a quarrel, it is even better to answer nothing and suffer wrong than to become angry. There is an excellent antidote for this evil disposition in keeping fully employed in the Lord's work. "Work, full work for God," says Collins, "would leave us little time for quarrelling; and devotion, full devotion, would leave us no inclination." It is a great mistake, when evil is spoken of you, to be anxious to vindicate yourselves, "As they, who for every slight infirmity take physic to repair their health," says one writer, "do rather impair it; so they, who for every trifle are eager to vindicate their character, do rather weaken it." "Take care of your spirit and conduct," says another, "and your reputation will take care of itself."
We often need charity exercised toward ourselves; let us not be slow in exercising it toward others. We do not think it just or fair towards us when our fellow-christians overlook our general character, and pick out some imperfection and hold it up, and perhaps magnify it to our disadvantage; let us not do so in respect to them. Let us get completely under the sweet influence of the love of Jesus. With a heavenly unction constantly dwelling in the soul, we shall shrink from a censorious spirit, and shall have other work than to be constantly hunting after failings in our brethren. Those who find or profess to find, the most faults in others have generally the greatest number in themselves; and those who are loudest in trumpeting their own praise have usually the least in them deserving of praise.
Do not let your mind run much on opposers of the doctrine except it be to pray for them, or to consider how you may best present to them the truth. To think too much of their opposition may foster unkind feeling. To converse too much with others about it may beget evil speaking. You may thus loose your sweetness of spirit and your mind may become sour. Remember you were once standing on the same ground that others are standing on now. The light that now illumines your mind did not always shine upon you. The opposition you now meet with from others you once manifested yourself. You were as slow in coming to the truth as many around you are. These things should teach you charity, forbearance, clemency, and mildness.
Watch against any omission of the privilege and comfort of prayer and fellowship with the Father of spirits. The life of faith and holiness cannot be maintained without much prayer. Regular habits of secret devotion are indispensable. Each day should be begun with a season of close communion with God, that the heart may obtain new strength for new conflicts. The business of the day should not be entered upon without the clear sunshine of the Divine presence. There should be a deep consciousness that Jehovah is with us, and that He will abide with us through the day to sustain and protect us.
The purified believer, in his seasons of closet prayer, has not daily to begin such seasons with confession of sin, and intercession for pardon, but living in constant acceptance with God, the intercourse between him and God is always open. Dwelling in Christ, and Christ abiding in him, he realizes no condemnation. United to Christ, there will flow into his soul heavenly life-currents, and his life will be a Christ-life; it will be a life of health and strength, a life of fruit-bearing to the glory of the Father, a life of constant victory over the tempter, a life of calm and peace, and joy and hope. To pray, therefore, will be as natural as to breathe, and through the one Mediator he will be able to draw near to God at once.
THIS SAME JESUS.
Probably no passage of Scripture has been the subject of more discussion and less understood, than Acts 1:11. "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking towards the heavens? This Jesus, who is taken up from among you into the heavens, shall so come in the manner in which you saw him go into the heavens." (Emphatic Diaglott.)
It will not be necessary, for the benefit of those who are in the light, in regard to the "Tabernacle and Its Teachings," to say very much upon this subject. Those who understand the sacrifices, will certainly not be looking up into the heavens, expecting to see, with their fleshly eyes, Jesus coming in the flesh. They have learned that the eyes, with which we see in this age are the eyes of the understanding --Eph. 1:18; which are certainly the very best kind of eyes. And they have learned, also, that even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know him so no more. 2 Cor. 5:16. rev. ver. So we see that what is true of the members of his body, is true of him, as the head. Having given his (animal) body as a sacrifice for us, it must be dissolved, and to him was given a new body, a house not made with hands, etc.--2 Cor. 5:1.
Having sacrificed his human nature, there was given to him a new nature--the Divine.
Paul says: But some will say, how are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come? Oh, senseless man, that which thou sowest is not quickened--made alive--except it die; and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not the body that shall be, etc., but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed its own body.
The world at large have been sown with the natural seed--human nature --and will be raised with the natural bodies; while the new--divine--nature, becomes a new seed, and requires a new body; and God giveth to every seed its own body, etc., 1 Cor. 15:35,38. Before his crucifixion, Jesus had that treasure--the divine nature in an earthen vessel--body-- 2 Cor. 4:7; in him dwelt all the fullness of the divine nature, in a body [R341 : page 5] --Col. 2:9 (Rotherham); so that new seed was sown in a natural body (earthen vessel); and raised in a spiritual body.
It should be noticed that the word same is left out of the passage under consideration, by the Em. Diaglott-- it not being in the Greek.
The blinding phrase is, in like manner. Let us examine the Greek term, hon tropon, rendered like manner, in Acts 1:11; giving all the passages where it occurs, and putting the English translation in italics; then let those who are so tenacious about the exact manner, be just as tenacious in all the passages where it occurs. Now as (hon tropon) James and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these resist the truth. 2 Tim. 3:8. Read Exodus, 7th and 8th chapters in regard to those magicians--Satan's mediums. Wilt thou kill me, as (hon tropon) thou didst the Egyptian yesterday? Acts 7:28.
Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem...how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as (hon tropon --like manner) a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not. Matt. 23:37 and Luke 13:34.
Will anybody claim the exact manner in any of the references given, especially the last? Is not the true idea that just as certainly as one thing has been done, another will be done?
As certainly as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, so Jesus would have gathered Jerusalem's children; but we think no one would insist upon the exact way. Jesus said, If I go and prepare a place-- official position, by preparing us for it--for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, etc.--John 14:3. All the Angels could mean in Acts 1:11 (the only remaining passage where hon tropon occurs), is: ye men of Galilee why do you stand looking up into heaven? This Jesus has gone away as he said he would, and he will as surely come again, as he said he would.
Really there is nothing in the passage as to the manner of coming, but a positive declaration that he would come.
Other Scriptures teach the manner and time. We have taken heed in our hearts, to the sure word of prophecy; and the eyes of our understanding have been enlightened; because, as we see the "day star" --(phosphorus--light-bringer--E.D.) has arisen. 2 Pet. 1:19. It is contrary to the teachings of the types of the old and the positive statements of the new Testament, to expect that Jesus will come again in the flesh.
B. W. KEITH.
A VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WATCH TOWER.
A few years ago the watchmen who were in the light, proclaimed that the "Day of the Lord" had come; that the King of kings and Ruler of rulers had arrived and is present; that he had taken unto him his great power, and had begun his reign. At that time there was little or no outward signs of any such stupendous event; and very naturally, as clearly foretold, there arose scoffers, walking after their own desires, who sneeringly asked, "Where is the promise of his presence? (See margin of New Revision)...all things continue as they were," etc. Walking by faith, and not by sight; trusting the infallible Word of God, the watchmen proclaimed further as to what means would be used by the Stone Kingdom in striking the kingdoms of earth; that oppressed peoples would rise against the governments and throw them down. It was announced that the "Times of Restitution" had begun; and the faithless asked, Where? It was also clearly taught that the time had come when God's ancient people, the Jews, (beloved for the Father's sake) would be stirred up to begin to return to their own land. Lastly, the proclamation went forth, "Babylon has fallen," "Come out of her, my people, that ye partake not of her sins, that ye receive not of her plagues."
As we said when these announcements began to be made, there were but few outward signs. It required implicit faith in the Word to believe that these things were to be fulfilled in "our day." Any believer almost was willing to assent to their being due two or three generations in the future.
While the world and a worldly church still lie in darkness, to those in the watch tower there has been increasing light. Already to any who have eyes to see, the outward signs are multiplying. Day by day we see all about us increased proof of our position. Compare 2 Tim. 3:1-7 with the days we live in, and see if the picture is not a faithful one. But such things have always been, says some one. True, to a certain extent, in accordance with verse 13; but are we not reaching a climax in wickedness? Judges, grand juries, and others who have opportunity to see and to know these things are alarmed at the prospect. The land is flooded with the vilest literature. The artist and the writer vie with each other in dishing up the horrid feast to the hungry army. And who compose this insatiate and ever-increasing multitude? Old and young, rich and poor--we had almost said saints [?] and sinners--we will simply say, church members. It is not in novels, story papers, etc., alone that the poison is found. If it were, we could easily keep it out of our homes. The reporters of the daily press have caught the infection, and news items that the briefest note of would be quite enough, are spiced and seasoned and served up steaming hot. If the facts are few, the reporter draws, without stint, on his morbid imagination for the balance. What kind of men and women will the rising generation make, fed on such slops? It is not difficult to see the result; it is already showing itself. Boys not yet in their teens are getting quite familiar with the revolver; a spirit of independence and lawlessness is revealing itself everywhere. [R341 : page 6]
Enough of this picture; let us look at something else. It has been announced that the times of restitution have begun; and that Christ's kingdom now established, is about to overthrow the beastly kingdoms of earth. Be patient, it will take time. The forces are at work; see all over the earth the people are waking up and clamoring for their rights as never before.
Ireland is not alone. The Irish are only a little more demonstrative than some others: the feeling is universal.
The Czar of Russia has obtained the title of the Emperor Recluse, because he is afraid to go out amongst his beloved [?] subjects. He has not yet been crowned (it is a year since he became emperor). Plots have been discovered to blow up both him and his guests at the coronation, and it has been postponed. Failing to kill him, the Russians have been amusing themselves robbing and slaughtering the Jews.
The stories that come to us of these atrocities read like Indian massacres, or something worse. We clip the following: "In Southern Russia alone L16,000,000 ($80,000,000) in property have been lost, 100,000 Jews rendered homeless, and in 45 places where reliable statistics could be collected there have been 40 murders and 225 women subjected to torture." We hope, and rather think that the reports are, as usual, exaggerated, yet there may have been much that we have not heard of. Many are fleeing to America, but many more are destitute, and piteously appeal for help to come.
What does this mean in the light of prophecy? It means that we have reached the period spoken of in Jer. 30:7. "It is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it [read the context]. Their coming to America is, of course, not returning to their own land; neither will they go there in any such multitude at the first gathering. The prophecy says, "Ye shall be gathered one by one, O, ye children of Israel." Isa. 27:12. It is well to remember that there are over 30 years yet to accomplish this work. The recent developments and proposed improvements in Palestine, and all this trouble shows plainly that the present Lord has begun this work also.
What of Babylon? Are there any outward signs of her fall? Very many. People are waking up to investigate as never before. Reverence for old creeds is rapidly passing away. Among some this causes a searching to know the truth. (Blessed are those seekers.) Among others it brings nothing but skepticism, carelessness, and hypocrisy. Among the masses it produces infidelity --an utter disregard for many of God's laws, and contempt for all who profess his name. The trial of Guiteau has evidently been an instrument used to bring odium upon the Christian profession. The church is losing its power and falling into disrespect. The stars are falling: some one way, some another. Soon the lights will be all out--not even a candle left. Rev. 18:23. Already the merchants (priests) complain that "no man buyeth their merchandise any more." Read the clip from the New York Herald, in this paper, which shows that some of the denominations did not average one new member per church during the past year. The membership completely fails to keep pace with the growth of the population. One hopeful mission statistician is so pleased with the success amongst the heathen [where a chief commands and all his people are numbered in at once], that he asserts that if Christianity can only hold its own at home the world will in a few years be converted. What an [R342 : page 6] idea! It sounds like the derision of an enemy. It looks like an acknowledgment that what is now preached, though easily foisted upon and suited to the ignorant savage, is repudiated by the intelligent and civilized. And is there not much truth in this thought? Is it not a fact that the most intelligent and best of the people have outgrown the creeds? Some, unfortunately, failing to see the whole truth, have drifted off to sea; others are boldly attacking error with all the light they have. [See article "Liberty of Protestantism," in Zion's Day Star for Jan.]
One recent event should demonstrate to all that the house has been left desolate. Where in all the records of the past did a whole nation, almost as with one voice, cry to God in prayer without being answered? Did God ever do so with his chosen people? And did not all the orthodox churches in the United States pray that President Garfield's life might be spared? Even the infallible [?] Pope mingled his prayers with those of Ingersoll and the Protestant churches; and one proved as potent as the other.
If God has proved unfaithful it is the first time. Something is wrong. It evidently never happened before. One of two has become unfaithful. Is it the Unchangeable One? or rather, has not the hand appeared and written on the walls of Babylon, NUMBERED! NUMBERED! WEIGHED! DIVIDED! and above all in letters of fire, ICHABOD!
W. I. MANN.
This passage has puzzled us many times, and our experience may be the same as some others with regard to it, but we think we have the solution of it now. It may not be new to some, but it is to us. However, it is not because it is new, but because it is true (as we believe) that it satisfies us.
The disciples had been asking Jesus (ver. 3) about the destruction of Jerusalem, what should be the sign of his coming, and of the end of the world (age), and after answering their questions with regard to it, he adds the words referred to above. We understand some to think that this prophecy was fulfilled at the transfiguration; and a careless reading of Mark 9:1, with 2 Peter 1:17,18, might seem to justify that conclusion; but when we reflect that not alone was his coming inquired after, but the end of the age ("what shall be the sign of the presence and of the end of the age" [Emphatic Diaglott]) and in accordance with their questions he gave the signs all along up to the end of the age, and then says, "Verily I say unto you this generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled." This could not be fulfilled by any events recorded in the above scriptures, but Mark 9:1 was fulfilled "six days after," and is referred to by Peter.
We think Jesus, as he was not talking to the multitude, used plain language, no figure nor symbol, but that the whole difficulty centres in the meaning of the word generation. We think the key to it is found in Matt. 19:28. "Verily I say unto you that ye who have followed me--in the re-generation when the son of man shall sit upon the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
We understand that he used the word generation in distinction from the word regeneration; in other words, that he gave them to understand that he would be present before the regeneration, and before the people of this age should pass away ("this generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled") for (ver. 38) "as in those days, those before the deluge...thus will be the presence of the Son of man." E. Diaglott.
We consider this, in harmony with other scriptures, is clearly opposed to the post millennial view, and strongly in confirmation of the pre-millennial view.
Now, then, are "all these things" fulfilled? Are they nearly all fulfilled? This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations." Has that been done? Yes.
"Then shall the end (of the age-- The harvest is the end of the age. Matt. 13:39,) come." HEKO, have come, be here; (see Young's Analytical Concordance.) "Therefore let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, for he is faithful that promised, and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another, and so much the more as ye see the day approaching." Heb. 10:23,24,25.
The end of one day (Gospel day) having come, "another day," Heb. 4:8, is approaching. "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."
J. C. SUNDERLIN.
THE GREAT FEAST.
"A certain man made a great supper and invited many. And he sent his servant at the hour of the supper to say to those who had been invited, 'Come, for it is now ready.' And they all began with one accord to excuse themselves....And that servant, having returned, related all to his Master. Then the householder, being angry, said to his servant, 'Go out quickly (at once) into the open squares and streets of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and crippled, and blind, and lame.' And the servant said, 'Sir, I have done what thou didst command, and yet there is room." Luke 14:16-22. Diaglott.
Our Heavenly Father, kind, bountiful, and rich, is ever pleased to dispense of his bounties to those requiring and appreciating them. He tells us of a feast he will soon spread for all the world, when he will not only feast them on fat things, refined joys and pleasures, but he will "wipe away all tears from off all faces"--destroy death and remove the vail of ignorance from all nations. In the day of that feast it shall be said: "Lo, this is our God, we have waited for him, and he will save us;...we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation" (Isa. 25:6-9.) A salvation from the vail of ignorance, and from Adamic death. That will be a delightful feast, a blessed season for poor, wretched humanity. But before that feast can be spread, the MOUNTAIN or KINGDOM of the Lord must first be established (see vss. 6,7), that from and through it may come this blessed feast "unto all people."
The feast described by Jesus, though made by the same kind, rich Heavenly Father, is not the same feast above viewed. It applies, we believe, not to the next, but to the present age. It is not for all people, but for the "few selected" from among the "many invited" in the present age. (Matt. 22:14.) Those first invited were the leading representatives of the Jewish nation. "What advantage had the Jew? Much every way"--they being typically justified by typical sacrifices, were reckoned as being on a plane of friendship with God--having intercourse with him. To these, through the prophets, he had long ago intimated his intention of spreading a great feast, and when the time for it was come, he sent Jesus (who in turn sent others) "to those who had been invited," saying, it is now ready,--"The kingdom of God is at hand."
The call first reached the Priests, Scribes, Pharisees, and Doctors of the Law who sat in Moses' seat (Matt. 23:2), and were acquainted with the Law of the Prophets, and who knew that such a feast was proposed. "And the Pharisees also who were covetous, heard all these things, and they derided him." (Luke 16:14.) They had a plan and system of their own arrangement; they were busy and could not heed the message; they had no desire to have their own plans superceded by God's plans, or, in the language of the parable, to taste of his supper.
He said to those who were originally invited, "Verily I say unto you, that the Publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you." (Matt. 21:31.) "Ye shall see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and ye yourselves thrust out." (Luke 13:28) --You shall not taste of the supper.
"The common people (who knew not the Law, and had not heretofore heard the invitation) heard him gladly." (Mark 12:37.) But those first invited, who rejected, were grieved that he and his disciples taught the people (Acts 4:2), and invited them to the feast. Jesus therefore said, "Ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in." (Matt. 23:13.)
This application of the first two calls, is in harmony with the parable --first the merest mention to those already invited, then quickly, when they refused, an invitation was given to the morally blind, lame, and halt, of the same CITY (or government). Thus Jesus came to his own, and his own people received him not; but as many as received him (believed his message), to them (publicans, harlots, etc.) gave he power (liberty) to (come [R343 : page 6] to the feast) become sons of God. (John 1:12.) This second feature of the call to the Gospel feast, continued to be the only one, for some years, but there were not enough of the worthy ones there in Jewery to complete the number of guests--yet there was room.
Hence the servant (the body of Christ) was commissioned to go outside the CITY (outside Judea) to the highways and hedges--to the Gentiles, and constrain*--urge enough [R343 : page 7] to come in, to furnish this feast. "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15.) The servant that calls the world is always the Christ, either head or body, while the servant that guides the Christ is always the Holy Spirit.
We, then, are of those blessed under the third call. We Gentiles were children of wrath--strangers from the commonwealth of Israel; but now, by the blood of Christ, we are made nigh to God and hear the call, Being justified freely from all things by faith, we are clothed with the robes of Christ's righteousness, and invited to come to the feast now spread. Here is food to satisfy every longing--more and better than we could ask or think.
The feast to which we are invited is a spiritual feast of future good things--joys and pleasures in the presence of the Lord. It has a beginning just as soon as we accept the call and come to it. We at once begin to enjoy and feast upon God's bounteous provision; by hope, by faith, we have a joyful anticipation and rich feast on the promises of God.
To come to this feast in any sense, either to the real feast of the future, or to the feast of hopes and promises of the present time, involves a leaving of worldly hopes, aims, and pursuits. In proportion as earthly things are abandoned, each may feast now. So the coming in and the feasting by faith and hope has continued during the entire age, until the door of opportunity closed Oct. 2d, 1881, since which time we do not understand that any may enter to the spiritual feast (--be begotten of the Spirit, and thus enabled to know and understand spiritual things). But there is still time for those in the guest-chamber to continue their preparation for the marriage. We rejoice to know, however, that, though the door to the marriage feast is closed, there is another feast in preparation for all people.
Because coming to this feast involves the leaving or sacrificing of earthly aims and pleasures, the world counts those who come, foolish, and it causes such the loss of the esteem of men. This is a mingling of bitter experience and sweet hope, and they are proportionate. As we eat his words --feast on his promises--we are strengthened, and will as surely have the cup of trial, death, presented after. Thus it was with our Head and Leader, and thus it must be with all his followers. After supper, he gives also the cup, saying: "Drink ye all of it," and again he said, "Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of, and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized." (Mark 10:39.)
To our understanding since, this third call ceased, it is no longer proper to invite to this feast. Those who have heard, and have accepted the call, came in and the door was shut--the opportunity of entering has ceased forever. Since all have come in, we know that the actual feast, the realization of the things we have long hoped for, is at hand.
THE MARRIAGE FEAST.
"Jesus continuing to discourse to them in parables, said: The kingdom of the heavens may be compared to a royal person who prepared a marriage festival for his son; and he sent his servants to call those who had been invited to the festivities, and they refused to come. Again, he sent other servants, saying, 'Inform those who are invited--Behold I have prepared my entertainment; my oxen and fatlings are killed and all is ready; come to the festival. But they disregarding it, went away, one to his own farm and one to his merchandise, and the rest seizing his servants, insulted and killed them. And the king was indignant, and having sent his military forces destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.'" (Matt. 22:1-7. Diaglott.)
Some have questioned whether or not this parable is the same which Luke furnishes in very similar language, but with other details, previously narrated. But whether exactly the same or not, there seems to be no doubt that it covers the same period of time, viz: the Gospel Age. God has indeed prepared royal blessings for his Son, and has invited some to share these glorious blessings with him. (Eph. 1:4.) Jesus first invited Israel as a nation--as represented in the rulers and chief priests of his day, and in this work he employed his disciples but these servants were disregarded--they refused to come. A second message was sent them at Pentecost through other servants; (The disciples at first were simply justified men, but on and after Pentecost they were NEW creatures begotten of God. 1 Pet. 1:3.) but this message also they disregarded, and insulted and killed many of the Apostles. No wonder, then, that their polity (city) was subjected to (fire) wrath to the uttermost, and entirely overthrown--Titus' army desolating it in A.D. 70. In this view, as in Luke's parable, two invitations were given to the Jews; and here, as in that we shall find the third message to be to the gentiles-- the Gospel call during this Gospel Age.
The king said to his servants, the entertainment indeed is ready but those who have been invited were unworthy. Go therefore into the PUBLIC ROADS and whoever you may find invite to the marriage-feasts. And those servants went into the road and brought together all that they met, good and bad, and the feast was well supplied with guests." (Vss. 8-10 Diaglott.)
Here the public roads in which the call is made, represent the Gentile world, in which, for over 1800 years, the invitation to come to the spiritual feast has been made. All who hear and accept the invitation, may come to the banquet. The call does not come solely to the good, but all who have an ear may hear and come-- "good and bad." Since all guests are furnished a robe (Christ's righteousness) it matters not how poor or ragged they were when they were called; at the feast all stand on an equality, so far as their previous condition is concerned. All are acceptable at the feast if clothed by faith with the righteousness of Christ."Just as I am without one plea.
But that thy blood was shed for me,
And that thou bid'st me come to thee;
O lamb of God, I come, I come."
As in Luke's parable, the feast is both a present one of hope and joy mingled with earthly bitterness, and also a future real feasting, or sharing of eternal joys with Jesus our Lord. In this account it is called a marriage feast. The King's Son--our Lord Jesus Christ is to be married, and the bride is found among those invited to the festivities. Yes, those who sacrificed much in proportion to what they had, in order to come to this banquet--these are the ones termed overcomers, who are to be united to the King's Son who was also an overcomer.
The full control of the feast is given to the Bridegroom, who has become the "heir of all things" and at this time enters office as a King. Before the marriage (union) he appears as King, and inspects or judges of the guests, and selects the overcomers (Rev. 3:21). Among those assembled there as guests, he discovers three classes, the overcomers or bride, the guests or friends, and one who had not on a wedding garment-- some who did not realize the necessity of having on Christ's righteousness, who did not recognize the necessity of being bought, redeemed, clothed with Christ's merit only, as a pre-requisite to a participation of the feast.
When the King arrives, he makes the two selections: The one (small class) not having on the wedding garment, is deprived of the privilege of guests--bound, and cast into the outer darkness of the world. To the overcoming class he gives his name and a share in all that he hath, by uniting them to himself. They thus become heirs of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ, their Lord. After the marriage, in joyful praise a "great company" of the bride's loved companions shall say, "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to (God), for the marriage of the Lamb is come and his wife hath made herself ready." Rev. 19:7.
These, though not of the overcomers, not of the Bride, are nevertheless beloved of both Bridegroom and Bride. They are the great company of Rev. 7:9, and in Psa. 45:14, are called, "the virgins, her companions which followed her," who also shall come into the palace of the King with gladness and rejoicing. (Vs. 15.) These will be the guests at the great supper, and after the marriage is accomplished, they shall enjoy the feast with the Royal Family, as it has been written to them, "Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb." (Rev. 19:9.)
Matt. 25:1-10, seems to show this closing end of the age, when some having gone in during the entire age, the Bridegroom King comes, and they of the living that were ready to go to the supper went in [R344 : page 7] with him and this ended the admittance --"The door was shut." Since the King came in we believe that the inspection of the guests has been in process. Now is an important time --a testing time. Who will be cast "into outer darkness"--the world's condition, on account of denying the Lord's having bought them--taking off the wedding garment? "Who shall be able to stand?"--be accounted worthy, as his bride to "stand before the Son of Man." Take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand."
In answer to questions of those anxious to be at the Marriage Supper, we would say: If you heard the call, i.e., the gospel invitation to the feast of good things God has prepared, and having heard, if you accepted and commenced to feast upon the promises before the call ceased by the shutting of the door (Oct. 2d, 1881), then, we understand the Scriptures to teach that you have yet opportunity to make your calling and election sure--even to the highest position as the Bride of the Lamb. Even now in the hour of inspection, let us lay aside every weight, and every besetment of earth, and run with patience the race for the prize of our high calling.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS.
Ques. Please let me know by what name you people call yourselves? What denomination?
Ans. We are strictly unsectarian, and consequently recognize no sectarian name, believing with Paul, (read 1 Cor. 3:1-4) that where one saith I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, or I am a Baptist, or I a Methodist, etc., it is an evidence of carnality, and consequently in opposition to the Spirit of Christ. Did Paul or Apollos die for us? If so, let us call ourselves theirs. Were we baptized into the Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, or other denominational churches? If so, we are members of it, and should be properly recognized by those names. But if we were baptized into the one body or church of which Jesus is the one and only Head, then we are members in particular of his body, and the only name appropriate would be his; Scripturally called the "Church of Christ," "Christians," "Church of the first born," and such like general names. Again we would remark that ours is the only Scriptural basis of Christian union, viz.: We have no creed (fence) to bind us together or to keep others out of our company. The Bible is our only standard, and its teachings our only creed, and recognizing the progressive character of the unfolding of Scriptural truths, we are ready and prepared to add to or modify our creed (faith--belief) as we get increase of light from our Standard.
We are in fellowship with all Christians in whom we can recognize the Spirit of Christ, and especially with those who recognize the Bible as the only standard. We do not require, therefore, that all shall see, just as we do in order to be called Christians; realizing that growth in both grace and knowledge is a gradual process. Nor do we see reason to expect that any but the watchmen of Zion will "see eye to eye" (Isa. 52:8) until that which is perfect is come, when that which is in part shall be done away. (1 Cor. 13:10.)
If all Christians were to thus free themselves of prescribed creeds, and study the Word of God without denominational bias, truth and knowledge and real Christian fellowship and unity, would result. The Spirit of the Head would pervade the unfettered members of the body, and sectarian pride would vanish. Thus we believe, thus we practice, and thus we teach. It becomes our duty to denounce sectarianism and the God-dishonoring creeds of men which, while contradicting each other, unite in misrepresenting God's Word and character. Because these are bonds which hinder God's children from rendering him the homage due unto his name, hinder their knowing him, hinder their worshiping in spirit and in truth, and also hinder them from enjoying that joy and peace which their Father designed they should have. We "cry aloud and spare not."
Because we believe sectarianism to be a snare of the devil, and in opposition both to God and his saints, therefore we labor to set them free, and bring them into the liberty of Christ. That this has been so accounted before the present day by holy men of God, we quote you from the words of JOHN BUNYAN, whose [R344 : page 8] name is a household word, and one of whose books has been more read than any other ever written except the Bible--"Pilgrim's Progress." He wrote:--
"Since you would know by what name I would be distinguished from others, I tell you I would be, and hope I am, a Christian; and choose, if God should count me worthy, to be called a Christian, a believer, or other such name which is approved by the Holy Ghost. And as for those factious (or sect) titles of Anabaptist, Presbyterian, Independent, or the like, I conclude that they came neither from Antioch nor from Jerusalem, but from Hell and Babylon, for they tend to divisions: you may know them by their fruits."
John Bunyan was a Christian whose creed was the Bible (He was commonly called a "Baptist," though, then, and in a few Baptist churches now, the Bible is the only written confession of faith.) He was imprisoned in Bedford Jail by the English Church in 1660, because he thus believed. It was while there imprisoned that he wrote of "Pilgrim."
Ques. Was not the typical perfection of the Jews the perfecting of the human, to which their sacrifices pointed?
Ans. The sacrifices and people and reconciliation, were all alike typical of the real sacrifices, all people, and the reconciling of the world. To re-concile is to harmonize again. It of course means a reconciling of two already existent beings--God and man. Because of the ransom and reconciliation, man is to be liberated from death and restored to perfection. This certainly involves no change of either God's or man's nature. Hence, we argue that the benefits of Christ's ransom is to men, restitution of what was once possessed--perfect manhood. The change of nature (to become new creatures) is only made during this age, and results from self-sacrifice after justification.
Dear Brother R. I have not been a reader long and cannot understand how you harmonize, the article in the Dec. No., "The Blessed Dead," with "The Door Was Shut," article which appeared in a previous number of the Tower. Please explain.
Ans. To our understanding, all who died previously to Oct. 2d, '81, passed into a "sleep" or "unclothed" condition to wait for this time, when the sleeping should be awakened in resurrection by their Lord, or the unclothed be clothed upon of their spiritual body--their house from heaven. It has not been a blessing to die and thus fall asleep; but now since we live to the time when we may step from the earthly tabernacle into the heavenly (spiritual) body, without a moment's sleep, it is a blessing. To be thus "changed in a moment"--not unclothed for an instant, but translated from the natural to the spiritual condition instantly, is a privilege never before enjoyed. Since this glorious time is come, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth," (Rev. 14:13,) because as Paul expresses it, they may now be "clothed upon with their house which is from heaven." (2 Cor. 5:1-4.)
The human is to die--the earthly form must be laid off, as Jesus our pattern showed us, (2 Pet. 1:14) but the new life hid with Christ will not die, though it slept until now. Now we understand that the exaltation of the members of the Christ who were asleep has taken place, and the exaltation of those who are alive and remain, is due; and the remaining members of the body will, each in his turn soon experience that glorious change, from this sleep to the perfection of life as immortal spiritual beings like himself--by investing or clothing them with their house from heaven. Thus it may readily be seen that we the living, left over unto the presence do not precede the sleeping ones, but they rise first: Then we shall be changed in a moment to the same immortal condition--like unto Christ's glorious body. As did Jesus so must we all, fully lose humanity, putting off this "tabernacle even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed." (2 Pet. 1:14.) This tabernacle--the flesh. It was consecrated to death and must fully die, but we, the new creatures who inhabit these bodies, do not die and will not need even to sleep, but instantly we shall become more alive than ever; or as Paul says, have "mortality swallowed up of life."
We tarry only as the mouth-pieces --Priests of God, to sound the trumpet notes of truth until the white robed Levites (advanced justified believers) learn to sing the song of restitution and the fullness of salvation, purchased through the precious blood of Christ. (2 Chron. 5:12-14.)
The door which shut was not the door into the kingdom, but the door into the guest-chamber--to the feast. (See article on Feasts.) We understand that though the marriage is not yet accomplished, it is just about to be. The present moments are occupied by the Bride in making herself ready, and no more guests are now admitted.
Ques. If the door to the "high calling" is now closed what should we say to any who now say, "Lord what wouldst thou have me to do?" If we are mouth-pieces of the spirit, we should have a word of the Lord for them--what?
Ans. If it be one who had already consecrated himself as a sacrifice and [R345 : page 8] entered covenant relationship as a new creature, we would say, proceed as before only more zealously to carry out your covenant and become dead to the world, that in the inspection by our King, he may be approved as one who has been faithful unto death.
If it be one who has never before covenanted, he stands in exactly the position of Abraham. He has the gospel or glad tidings of coming earthly blessings to all who love and obey God. This is the "Everlasting Gospel"--that sin's penalty has been paid, and all men may come into harmony with their creator and live. This was the very Gospel which God preached unto Abraham, saying, "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be BLESSED." (Gen. 22:18; Acts 3:25.) In this Gospel Age--as we speak of it, there is an addition made to the glad tidings which did not apply before it, and does not apply now, since the door is shut. We now know not only that all nations of the earth are soon to be blessed with opportunities of everlasting life and happiness, but during the Gospel age we have been privileged or invited to become members of that spiritual seed of him whom Abraham typified (Jehovah), and as such to be the cause or instruments of the coming blessing. (See Gal. 3:29, and Rom. 11:31,32.) This last call properly ends, when all the members of that seed have been selected from the world, and then the Gospel message stands just as it did to Abraham-- the privilege of joining the blessing seed being ended by accomplishment.
We would say then to such, Live good moral lives--lives of communion with God, engaging in, and promoting every good word or work according to your ability. But you are not now called upon to sacrifice yourselves nor your sinless pleasures and comforts. It is proper that they should abstain from sins to the extent of their ability, and realize that their ransom price covered all the unavoidable weaknesses which arise from the Adamic transgression. Let them thus trust in the Lord and do good, and soon they will share in the blessings of the reign of righteousness.
The glad tidings of justification and redemption, and the call to faith, repentance, and obedience, which we thus proclaim, is the same which the nominal church has been proclaiming all along, though so greatly mixed with error and superstition as not to be discernible to many as glad tidings. Very few have realized their privilege to sacrifice things, to which, as men, they have a legitimate right; very few have realized a begetting to a new nature. One prominent point of difference however, should be remembered: Our God is not a demon with a heart of stone, unjust, unmerciful, unkind; but a God of LOVE, plenteous in MERCY, who so loved the world, that he gave his Son that all might come to a knowledge of the truth, and be brought back to perfection of being and happiness. "And for this purpose are the ages to come," in which, to show the exceeding riches of his grace and his loving kindness. Eph. 2:7.
Ans. The punishment and reward are of equal duration. We are here told that the reward will be life, but in this passage the nature of the punishment is not specified. Readers generally take for granted that it means everlasting misery and torment. They infer this from some symbolic expressions used in the book of Revelations, which they confess they do not understand. But God's Word nowhere says that the punishment of sin is torment. If we admit what is here stated that their punishment will be equal in duration with the reward promised, and will then inquire of the Word--What is the nature of the punishment?--we shall soon have light. We read, "The soul (person) that sinneth, it shall die;"--"The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life." So we find it quite harmonious. "These shall go away into eternal punishment death, from which there will be no release --no resurrection); but the righteous into life eternal.
The power to live comes from God, and he promises it only to the righteous. God has an unquestionable right to deprive all his creatures of life, if they will not use it in harmony with his righteous will. But none but a devil of worst stamp could perpetrate eternal hopeless torment and agony upon any creature. Satan has, from the first, been a misrepresenter of God's character and word, and in this matter seems to have succeeded in deceiving many of God's dear saints. Oh, that all might learn to study God's Word in the light which it throws upon itself, and not allow the creeds and traditions of men to twist and warp their minds, destroy their peace and their trust in God, by turning the Word of God into a lie.
To what extent the minds of men may be twisted, is illustrated by the teachings of New England's great preacher of former years--Jonathan Edwards. In preaching upon the eternal punishment of the wicked, which he said was misery and torture, he pictured it so frightfully, that some in the congregation sprang from their seats screaming, and caught hold of the pillars of the church as though fearful of being dropped into the yawning chasm. We quote his sentiments, and, as nearly as we can recall, his words.
Addressing the Christians present, he said: Your hearts then will not ache for, and throb in sympathy with your friends and children; you will look over the battlements of heaven and see them in that awful everlasting torture, and turn round and praise God the louder.
What a terrible, strong delusion possessed that child of God, that he could utter such blasphemy. It was a blasphemy against men as well as against the God of love, for if there is or ever was in all the universe of God, so awfully degraded a being that he could have everlasting joy at the expense of another's everlasting misery, that one is too miserable a wretch to be worthy even of the name of devil. If being made like our glorious and perfect Head would annihilate in this manner every spark of love, pity, and mercy, then should we earnestly pray and hope that we to his likeness should never attain. Take it home to your own heart, thinking Christian--Have you by death lost a loved and cherished son or daughter, brother, sister, father, or mother, or friend, whom you feel sure walked not "the narrow way to life"? Think, then, of what a change must come ere you could blend with their cries of anguish, your shouts of joy and pleasure.
But no longer will such preaching frighten the people; the picture is so wide of the truth that the unprejudiced thinker, both in and out of the church, sees it to be the very opposite to the character of a God of love. For this reason, though the Bible has not changed, nor their creeds, theologians have generally abandoned the fire theory, and now say the punishment will be a gnawing of conscience. Yet when wanting to alarm some one into love for God, they will add that the lashings of conscience will be even more terrible than flames.
No wonder that many sectarians, imitating their conception of a God, become loveless and hard, and in their families exalt the rule of fear, rather than the rule of love. No one knows how bad an effect is produced on civilized society by the monstrous ideas of God's character, as instilled by the traditions of men.
All heathen nations have horrible images of their Gods. All picture them horrible, with malicious power; and though Christians ignore pictures and images, yet they draw a mental picture of their God as dreadful. It surely needs much help to love a being such as they are taught he is. The wonder is that every intelligent person has not been driven into infidelity by it, and we verily believe that many more are skeptical than openly profess it: their actions speak loudly of it.
In God's Word we see how evil was permitted for good reasons, and that the "little flock" now being developed, instead of rejoicing in the misery of ninety nine one hundredths of their fellows, will be praising God and manifesting the exceeding riches of his grace in the ages to come, by blessing all the families of the earth.
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