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VOL. IV. PITTSBURGH, PA., MAY, 1883. 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 AT 101 Fifth Avenue, 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 cannot 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 Foreign Postal Money Orders.
This paper will be sent free to any of the Lord's poor who will send a card yearly requesting it. Freely we have received and freely we would give the truth. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat--yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." And you that have it-- "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently--and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness."-- ISAIAH 55:1,2.
VIEW FROM THE TOWER.
It is written in the Word: "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." Students of science expect to study assiduously the scientific textbooks and to put their knowledge in practice. And thus it should be with those who come to the study of the greatest of all sciences--God's Revelation. Our text-book, the Bible, inspired by the Great Creator, should engage our profoundest thought and most diligent study.
While the readers of the TOWER are, perhaps, more studious of the Scriptures than most Christian people, yet we cannot but feel that the special tests and trials of faith in this Day of the Lord, in which we are living, would be much more easily withstood if each saint would study both the Word and plan of God about four times as much. The trial of your faith is much more precious than that of gold, and if you are building with other than truth every such beam or support of error is a real weakness of your faith-structure, and will assist the enemy in his attack upon you. Every error held is weakness, every truth clearly and firmly held is a power--a part of the power of God unto your salvation. Hence when we pray for power and strength to overcome the world and its spirit, we should eat and thoroughly digest the spiritual food which God has provided for this purpose. Thus God answers our prayers. Just as in the natural things we receive strength from God by eating of natural food which he provides.
We desire again to mention the helps to study--the pamphlets Food and Tabernacle--and suggest that if you have not read them within six months, you would, doubtless, be profited by re-reading them--especially chapters 6 and 8 of "Food." We know this, from the many questions contained in your letters which are fully answered in those chapters.
Oh, how needful the panoply provided by our Captain, but we must needs put it on and use it, or it will be useless to us. Bear in mind that "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph. 6:12); and that every effort to veil and obscure the truth, whether done by a willing, or deceived and unwitting agent, is the device of our unseen adversary to retard our progress in the narrow way.
Our adversary not only makes the attack more fiercely in this Day of the Lord, but also increasingly surrounds us with "cares of this life," and presents deceitful views of earthly allurements, that thus he may engage our every moment and talent, and hinder our putting on the armor, and weaken us for the conflict with error. Realizing this, well shall it be with us if we profit by our knowledge.
Truly the hour of his judgment is come--Who shall be able to stand?-- He that hath clean hands and a pure heart. And how can this condition be reached except under the influences of the Word of God and its exceedingly great and precious promises. Hence the indispensableness of a true and well-founded faith to a saintly life.
We almost tremble as we realize that, in this hour of trial, it begins with the house of God. (1 Pet. 4:17.) It has begun with us, and error after error is being promulgated, and our adversary seeks to appear as an angel of light--a messenger of truth. Who shall be able to stand? It shall deceive, if it were possible, the VERY ELECT. But, no; they shall stand, having their loins girt about with truth--having on the breast plate of Christ's righteousness-- the helmet of his salvation--the shield of faith in his blood by which we have redemption, even the remission of sins. They are shod for this narrow path with the preparation which comes from a proper appreciation of the glad tidings. They are, also, armed with the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Yes, these shall stand--the elect through the foreknowledge of God, through sanctification of spirit (mind) and belief of the truth. (1 Pet. 1:2; 2 Thes. 2:13.) This implies that God foreknew and forearranged that those should be chosen to this high calling who, believing the truth, were sanctified by it. This implies the searching for truth as for hid treasures. Let so many of us as would be perfect, be thus minded, and stand complete in Him. [R476 : page 1]
Hold fast that thou hast: let no man take thy crown. If you are one of the sanctified in Christ Jesus, there is a crown laid up for you until you may finish your course; but if any man draw back he shall lose his crown; for the Lord shall have no pleasure in him, neither delight thus to honor him--and the Lord can find another to wear his crown.
We have been struck with this thought recently. There seems to be so many consecrated ones coming into greater knowledge of the truth, and prepared, seemingly, for crowns, we have wondered if any others were in danger of losing theirs through the wiles of our adversary.
Letters are constantly coming to hand, from out of way places, telling how truth has been recognized and appreciated and is feeding the consecrated ones wherever they may be. We cannot doubt that every consecrated child will be brought in contact with the light now shining on the sacred page. During the past month we have heard from two deeply interested Indians, one of them a preacher; also, from a missionary in China. It is glad tidings of great joy to the ends of the earth, wherever God has children unfettered by traditions of men.
There are many inquiries for preaching --many from out of way places where we could not send. All should remember that, the fact of a necessity for preaching, is a call to those who have truth, to freely give what they have freely received of God. It is a call to preach, of the genuine sort, and each child of God is a witness--a light bearer. Let your light so shine as to glorify your Heavenly Father.
There are a number of ways of preaching. Among the most telling methods is private conversation, backed up with well chosen articles marked for their reading and study. One sister writes us from Virginia that she began to tell what she had recently been learning to a few neighbors privately, and so many came that presently a schoolhouse was needed to accommodate them, and it even was crowded. So, each one willing and anxious to labor in the vineyard, will find the master ready to use his service, and a door of some sort will open. Make use of small opportunities, and greater ones will come in due time. Only, be sure you do all in the love of the truth, and not in a spirit of combativeness. Then assuredly you will be blessed while blessing others.
DEAR BROTHER:--The copies of "Food for Thinking Christians," also copy of "The Tabernacle and its Teachings," duly reached me, and I am now endeavoring to feed the "Heavenly Food" to my hungry fellow-christians. Two others and myself are meeting three or four times per week to make ourselves more thoroughly acquainted with these great truths, and to satisfy ourselves that these teachings are based on the Word of God. As soon as we get through this, we intend to begin a systematic course of teaching out of "Food for Thinking Christians" for all in this place whom we can interest and who are hungering and thirsting after the precious truth of God.
EDITOR OF ZION'S WATCH TOWER: DEAR SIR:--A few days ago a number of your paper was brought in to me as a curiosity. I am somewhat out of the orthodox ruts and fancy I may read your paper with profit and pleasure. If you will send me the paper I will try and get the subscription to you in some way--for, though a self-supporting missionary, I cannot quite call myself one of the "Lord's poor" to whom you offer the paper gratuitously, for Our Father has bountifully supplied all my needs, since I gave up my salary, three years ago. I think I can get a few subscribers among my friends in China, for I find not a few who are trying to reconcile the "mercy that endureth forever" with the final irrevocable doom of all who, since the fall, have died without a knowledge of the Redeemer of the world. We have no "Post-Office Order" arrangements here, else I would send the subscription at once.
C. T. RUSSELL, EDITOR--Dear Bro.: The papers I sent for came all right, for which you have my thanks. I have already distributed some of them, but am careful not to place them where they will not be appreciated. I am glad to tell you that I find among church members, when seriously conversing on the matter of the old theology, a growing sentiment of being tired of it, having out-lived it, and thought ahead of it. They boldly say a reformation must come, and soon, or the Church is dead. Several are carefully studying the TOWER, Tabernacle, and Food. I tell them all to test them by the Bible. As a beginning, we are about to start a Bible class, to study with your papers and books. None of us have as yet left the Churches of which we are members (Methodist and Baptist) but shall not hesitate as soon as we can properly master these views of God's plan for man's salvation. For thirty-three years I have been a member of the Methodist Church, and a worker, but for years have been restive. My heart is with you in the work. Yours in Christ,
BRETHREN OF ZION'S WATCH TOWER: I have been a Bible student for many years, and for more than a quarter of a century I have been trying to show my fellow-men the way to life in a public capacity. Many a time I have been at a loss to make one passage of Scripture agree with another. I am done with human creeds forever, for I consider them an unmitigated curse, a greater plague than any that fell upon the Egyptians; but the light begins to dawn. The other day I came across your little book, "Food for Thinking Christians." It is a rich treat and food indeed to my hungry soul.
My only ambition for years has been to know what the Bible teaches--Now, brethren, if so I may call you, as you have set my soul athirst for solid, sober, study of the sacred Word. I look to you to supply the want. You say, "ask and ye shall receive."
I can find a place and use for anything you send me that will illustrate and explain the Scriptures. I leave the matter with you as to what you send-- anything you may think I need the most.Yours in the truth,
Later from the same Brother:
BROTHER RUSSELL:--Your letter of a recent date has been received. To say I thank you for the favors you have sent is poorly to express my feelings. I am learning at the age of sixty what I ought to have learned forty years ago. Well, never mind, the past can't be recalled, and I am thankful that your book fell into my hands even now. I have literally devoured both "Food" and "Tabernacle," and while reading them, find myself exclaiming with wonder and astonishment, "strange," "strange" indeed that I could not have seen all this long ago.
I have been a student of the Bible for more than forty years, can read the Hebrew, Greek and Latin Scriptures, yet the creeds of men blinded me for [R476 : page 2] many years. Well, I will rejoice and be thankful that light and comfort has come at last.
Yours truly, __________.
By appointment in our last issue, the anniversary of the slaying of the Passover lamb, which typified the death of the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world, was celebrated by saints in various places on Saturday evening, April 21st. We have heard from several meetings, and from others whose insolation prevented communion with other saints except in spirit.
The Pittsburgh assembly numbered about one hundred. We had the pleasure of greeting two brethren from New York State, one from Illinois, and one from Missouri, besides seven from different sections of this State. We believe all felt it good to be there; and in our communion with the Master, the lonely and scattered ones--members of the same body and fellow-heirs of the same glorious promises--were all remembered.
We broke and ate the unleavened bread thinking of its antitype--the true and living bread which came down from heaven to give life to the world--the pure and sinless (unleavened) Jesus. As we broke it we thought of his body as broken for us--How "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures." In the cup of wine which we drank, we recognized the blood of Christ shed for many for the remission of sins--the blood of the New Covenant--and we appreciated it as the blood of the covenant wherewith we were sanctified. It was to us no common thing, as we esteemed his death no ordinary death. It was viewed as the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without spot or blemish, whose blood speaketh better things for us than the blood of bulls and goats --even the remission of sins for ever.
And looking further, under direction of the Word, we saw that these emblems meant still more--the sharing of them represents how we as his church, after justification through his blood, are permitted to share his sufferings and his death. It is thus that we have fellowship and communion with him--"filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ."
As we reflected on this symbolism as expressed in Paul's words (1 Cor. 10:16,17): "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, being many, are one bread [loaf] and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread." We rejoiced that the plan of God was such as to enable us, after partaking of the sin-cleansing benefits of Jesus' death, to sacrifice our justified humanity with his, and thus become heirs of the divine nature--joint heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord. Thus we esteemed it our privilege to count the present trials and offense of the cross all joy, knowing that they shall work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory-- if we are rightly exercised thereby.
Brother Sunderlin, who was present, called to mind Jesus' words at the first supper--"Verily one of you which eateth shall betray me"--and remarked, there have been many such betrayers since. Then he asked, and doubtless all questioned, Lord, Is it I? and prayed, Forbid it, Lord. We remembered, too, that to the most earnest disciples that hour of trial was severe. All forsook the Lord, and some denied him. We prayed, "Lead us not into temptation," yet felt that we were really stronger in his power because of our recognized weakness in our own strength.
Our communion was very sweet indeed, and long to be remembered. Then we sang a hymn and went out thinking of the scenes and circumstances attending and succeeding the first supper --the garden of Gethsemane, Pilate's judgment hall, Herod's soldiers, Calvary.
It will not be out of place to remark that what we celebrate is not the feast of the Passover, which, with the Israelite, lasted seven days, but we celebrate the killing of the lamb which precedes the feast. The church feasts daily and page 2 hourly during the Gospel dispensation on the blessings resulting from the death of Christ. Such feasting was not possible before the Lamb was slain: at Pentecost this antitypical feast began. Hence, too, it was that our celebration was on the evening preceding the Feast of Passover season as observed by the Hebrews.
"LET HIM BE UNJUST STILL."
"He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy let him be holy still." (Rev. 22:11.)
To some minds the text here quoted is considered strong evidence against the position taken by the WATCH TOWER favoring a future probation for the world.
Indeed, it seemed to us so, for a long time after we saw from other Scripture (1 Tim. 2:4; Ezek. 16:48 to the end of the chap; Matt. 11:24,25; 12:32; Eph. 2:7; John 11:9; 1 John 3:8, and many others) that a future probation was a doctrine of the Bible.
Although so many Scripture texts seemed plainly and unmistakably to establish the doctrine of a future probation, still this one seemed to be an unyielding argument against the position; and yet we did not feel satisfied, for the stronger reason that as an argument against future probation (or judgment, trial, for the world, John 1:24--R.V.) it would be out of harmony with the teachings in the Scripture texts referred to. The thought that God would give permission to be unjust under any circumstances, is out of harmony with his past dealings with men, and out of harmony with his own character as well as his word. Ever since we saw clearly that God is "of purer eyes than to behold evil" (with allowance) we have been convinced that he will not forever permit the vile thing to pollute his universe.
He will not "let" nor consent to endless transgression of his law. But what is meant, then, in the text we have called attention to? That we may understand it better, let us go back to the first verse, and find, if we can, what events are to transpire at the same time, which may help to an understanding of this.
In connection with the scenes spoken of in the first and second verses, it is said (in the third verse) "there shall be no more curse" (the Adamic death having been destroyed); this, then, is at a time when, if a man dies, it will be for his own sin; now all die on account of Adam's sin. "By one man sin entered into the world and death by sin" (Rom. 5:12). "By one man's disobedience the many were made sinners" (19th verse), though a man may shorten his life by violating the laws of the physical nature. At the time spoken of here, too, the truth of God (1st verse), "clear as crystal," is flowing to the nations without obstruction directly from "the throne." It is, moreover, at a time when "the leaves of the tree (wood, or trees, plural--Young's trans.) are for the healing of the nations." As the nations are not yet healed, and will not have been healed when Christ takes the kingdom (Rev. 11:15,18,) it must be at the time spoken of here, which is after Christ comes to judge (give trial, probation to) the world. And notice that "the time ("for the healing of the nations," "and [when] there shall be no more curse") is at hand:" and just at this time "he that is unjust, let him be unjust still," etc.
We ask would the popular construction put upon it, namely, that it signifies that the condition of the wicked when Christ comes, is to eternally remain the same, i.e., that as they were found in that condition at his coming, they are forever to remain in it with his decree of "let"; we say would that be in harmony with the preceding part of the chapter, saying nothing about the Scriptures referred to above? How very inconsistent it would seem in connection with the statement, "There shall be no more curse;" but with the generally received opinion regarding it, there would be an unspeakable, indescribably awful curse still resting upon the world of mankind.
But perhaps some one is ready to say "that is a description of the city of the New Jerusalem, and it is in the city that there is to be no more curse." Well, let us read on a little; leaving the 11th verse we will begin with the 14th: "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city"; the city (kingdom of our Lord) will finally absorb all except the "death and hell" element of the 15th verse, including whosoever loveth and maketh a lie, which dregs shall finally be disposed of in the "second death" (chap. 20:14). 16th verse: "I, Jesus, have sent mine angel to testify unto you (John) these things in the churches."
Now, we submit this understanding of he 11th verse. During this Gospel age, he standard of judgment concerning our acts is God's revealed word; by it the saints (God's children, the elect) judge themselves, and when the righteous rule of the next age is inaugurated, and the curse removed, even with so great a change in some important respects, "still" the same law will continue in force, and will be the standard of judgment.
He that is unjust by the standard of judgment in this age, will ("let him") be unjust still. Justice being one of the attributes of God, there can be no other standard, and he who is unjust must, by his holy law, i.e., according to it, forever be declared unjust. Not that he must remain unjust; but that while he is unjust he will always be declared, or judged so, by this standard. And he that is judged holy by that law now will then (in the age or "ages to come") be holy still. Mark well now, that when the statement in 11th verse is in force, the 17th verse is also. "And the Spirit and the Bride say come (this must be after the marriage of the Lamb): And let him that heareth, say come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."--J. C. Sunderlin.
THE THEOCRATIC KINGDOM.
Brother G. N. H. Peters, of Springfield, Ohio, is an old acquaintance and friend. He is a believer in the redemptive work of Christ, and hence a Christian brother. He is a believer in the future reign of Christ and the saints, for which cause sake he has suffered the loss of some things--some of the esteem of the nominal church. We regret to have it to state, however, that he is not free from Babylon's shackles, being yet identified with the Lutheran sect--hence has been hindered from a fuller development in grace and knowledge of the word and plan of God than if he stood in the full liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.
Our brother has spent a large part of the past thirty years in preparing a very comprehensive work on Eschatology, entitled --"THE THEOCRATIC KINGDOM." It treats of the kingdom of God to be established, from the standpoint known as "Pre-millenarian." It gives voluminous reports of the hundreds of views entertained on this subject--advocating in the main the so-called "Pre-millenarian" view. While the author does not ignore the teachings of the Apostles, he lays greater stress and value on the opinions of the "Fathers" (the Christian teachers of the first five centuries) than we could acknowledge as proper.
The work will comprise three volumes of about 600 pages each. The publisher says that the price should be $5 per volume, but if sufficient orders--or promises at $3 per volume--are received in advance to justify, then that will be the price.
While we cannot recommend it to you more than as above, to briefly state the facts and circumstances, yet if you should conclude to order it or a prospectus of it you should address our brother and friend as above.
THE VARIORUM TESTAMENT.
As already announced, we made considerable effort and inquiry to procure for our readers the readings of the Sinaitic MS. of the New Testament as a basis of knowledge of what was originally the accepted Scriptures, and showing the few errors and interpolations which crept into the volume during Papal dominion. Its readings are most valuable because, 1st, it is complete, without a missing page; 2nd, because it is the very oldest MS., written about 325 A.D., before Papacy or any other sect had reached dominant influence, which would enable them to tamper with or alter the text. Thus its superior value is apparent.
We procured and supplied some with an American edition, paper bound, but have at last found what we take pleasure in offering you--"THE VARIORUM TESTAMENT"--A New Testament with the ordinary "King James'" text, with marginal references, and containing as FOOT NOTES any variations in readings made by the five most authentic Manuscripts extant, chief among these being the Sinaitic.
The Testament is printed from the plates of the Variorum Bible, which retails at $9.00 in best binding. It is cloth bound, and retails for $1.25. Such a work is little appreciated except by careful and earnest Bible students, such as are many of our readers; hence the work has not met with ready sale, and the Importers closed out all they had of them to us at much less than cost. We bought them for your benefit, and can furnish them for 50 cts. each. (This pays for postage also.) They are now ready for mailing.
GOD KNOWS WHAT IS BEST.
Things are not what they seem. God alone perceives their true value and lasting results. He is infinitely wise, and cannot err; infinitely strong and cannot fail; infinitely kind and cannot neglect. He will keep back nothing that is good, however we may depreciate it; nor give us what would injure, though we beg for it with outstretched arms.
If the vine were sensitive and could speak it might utter a cry at the stroke of the pruning-knife; but, if it were wise and gloried in its fruitfulness, it would acknowledge that if the vine-dresser had cut it less, he would have withheld a good thing. If the cornfield were sensitive and could speak, it would not, if wise, ask to be spared the plunging plow and the torturing harrow. This is our culture time, in view of the great harvest. That is best which promotes the fruitfulness in which God delights, and which will be our true glory by his grace. Christians must not judge of things as men do whose possessions and hopes are limited by the present. We are pilgrims, and must estimate circumstances in view of their influence, not so much in making us comfortable on our way as in helping us home. Nobler aims involve severer toil, fiercer conflicts, costlier sacrifice. If we seek a nobler goal, let us not envy others their smoother path. If we would win a richer prize, we must fight a sterner battle. If we would attain a loftier height we must clamber up sharper crags."The easy path of the lowland hath little of grand or new;
But a toilsome ascent leads on to a wide and glorious view.
Peopled and warm is the valley, lonely and chill the height;
But the peak that is nearer the storm cloud is nearer the stars of light."
WAS IT AN ERROR.
In our February issue the argument of a contemporary, that Paul made mistakes and misquoted, we answered by quoting and properly punctuating the Psalm referred to. Our contemporary, in its last issue, effects to treat the argument lightly, and pretends to quote our argument. It appears to do so, but strangely enough omits the very pith of the quotation, upon which our argument rested. Was this a mistake--an accident--or did our contemporary think it would be more like a misquotation thus? Charity bids us hope it was a mistake.
THE DIVINE WORD.
BY MRS. LIZZIE FENNER BAKER.
"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."Dearer with every passing hour
Is God's sweet word to me,
To its blest truths as to a tower,
In troubled times I flee!
For while the heavens and earth shall last
Its promises are sure--
Yea! when they both are with the past
Its glories shall endure.
The word of Him who cannot lie,
Who by His own will stand,
When the swift whirlwind sweepeth by,
And in the desert land,
Who sendeth out his angel guard
Above his loved ones' way,
And turneth, by his rod of power,
Their darkness into day.
Whose blessings, promised to the meek,
About their pathway rise,
Like blossoms in a wintry-waste,
Or stars in storm-tossed skies.
O, I have proved each word of thine,
My God, as gold is tried--
Never to tear or prayer of mine
Was thy strong help denied.
I bless thee for each step I've trod
By the dark waves of woe;
With faith and peace my feet were shod
Through the wild flood to go!
Hast thou not said, "But for a night
The weeping shall endure--
Joy cometh with the morning light"!
O, promise sweet and sure!
Where is my joy?--to dwell apart
From earth's poor bonds set free,
Hidden within thy faithful heart,
To find my all in Thee.
--Guide to Holiness.
"THIS ONE THING I DO."
Human experience, as well as the divine word, attest the importance of concentrating energy upon some one thing if we would achieve the best results.
It was Jesus who said, "No man can serve two masters."--"Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." It was James who said, "A double minded man is unstable in all his ways."
To-day the keenest business men of the world are endorsing this teaching of Scripture by applying the principle in their business. In the various trades as now conducted, one man does a part of the work. In the making of shoes, watches, pianos; in fact in everything it is found expedient to subdivide the work, so that each man may do a certain part only and thus become more proficient. This one thing he does and thus becomes proficient in it.
The same principle is becoming recognized in the higher walks of life. A successful business man not unfrequently fails utterly when he attempts to branch out into politics. Where two prizes are aimed at, neither will be fully achieved. The man who seeks the top-most round of both wealth and politics will fail of one and most likely of both. --No man can serve two masters. Recognizing this, we find the successful men pursuing some one object or aim in life.
If this be true as regards earthly things, how much emphasis it places upon the words of Jesus and the Apostles as relating to spiritual things. And not only their words but their lives attest the principle. The words of Paul-- "This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:13,14)--has only an empty sound until we thoughtfully consider what things he had left behind, and what was now the aim or prize for which he was running. And since we are exhorted to follow his example in the race, it may be well for each to examine himself to see how like, or unlike, his course is to that of Paul (Phil. 3:17).
Looking back we find that Paul had superior advantages and prospects as a man. He had "much learning," having been educated under one of the best teachers of that day, "Gamaliel." Education was more rare then than now and more costly. Consequently the opportunities and influence of educated men were proportionately greater.
Paul was a Doctor of Divinity, or, as they were then called, "Doctor of the Law" --a member of the Sanhedrin. Being thus a "Master in Israel," all may see that he occupied a place of great influence and dignity among his fellow countrymen. Add to these honors the fact that by birth, he inherited "Roman citizenship," and we find a man with brighter prospects than one in ten thousand of his countrymen for gaining a place of pre-eminent distinction either in the State government or in the nominal Jewish Church.
But, summing up all these possessions, the ambitions which they stimulated and the prizes which they pointed out, Paul turned his back on them all when his eye caught sight of the heavenly prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus. He counted them all but as dross when compared to the true jewel. It is when reviewing this course of action that he uses the words of our text.
Whatever things were gain to me, these I have, on account of the Anointed One, esteemed as a loss. But then, indeed, I esteem all things to be a loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of the Anointed Jesus my Lord; on whose account I suffered the loss of all things and consider them to be vile refuse, so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in him:...to know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship [sharing] of his sufferings, being conformed to his death.
Not that I have already received it, or have been already perfected, but I pursue, if, indeed, I may lay hold on that for which I was laid hold on by Christ. Brethren, I do not reckon myself to have attained it, but one thing I do--even forgetting the things BEHIND and stretching forth towards the things BEFORE, I press along the line towards the PRIZE OF THE HIGH CALLING of God by Christ Jesus.
Though Paul had sacrificed so much, there is no evidence that he ever regretted it, or desired to have those things back. On the contrary, his ambition seems to have been such that he could have wished that his possessions and hopes had been yet larger in order that his sacrifice might thus have been the greater. In his case there was no "looking back" like Lot's wife, but a forgetting of those things which he had sacrificed. He thus avoided a temptation common to many to-day, who, though they have left very little, comparatively, continually look back at it and recount to themselves how much they have suffered and lost, thus hindering a completion of the sacrifice and race begun. Let us take a lesson from this, and forget, too, the things behind-- forget our old hopes and earthly aims and ambitions, and fill our minds only with those aims and hopes which are before--laid up, in reservation for us. But what was the one thing which Paul did? We are apt to forget that Paul and the other Apostles were men much like ourselves. And though the common affairs of life are scarcely mentioned, but only the more public ministrations, nevertheless all of these entered into their life experiences much as with us. Remembering this will enable us the better to appreciate their examples. Hence we answer that the one thing which Paul was doing was not preaching, [R479 : page 3] nor writing, nor singing hymns, nor traveling, but the one thing he did was, as Jesus expressed it--doing the will of God. It was in harmony with this will of God that Paul traveled, preached, made tents, was persecuted, imprisoned, etc.; and it was necessary, as Paul knew, to lay aside and forget all the aims and masters in order to render acceptable service to him who declared, "No man can serve two masters."
Looked at thus, beloved, if we would be acceptable to our Master and win the prize of our high-calling, we must determine also--"This one thing I do." Did you once have an ambition for wealth and luxury? You must forget that, as one of the things that were, but are not. Were you ambitious for fame, worldly honor, or office? Let these all fade away in the light of the greater honor and glories now before you in prospect, for which you are now running and striving--"A far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." This is the one thing to be sought now, and all our doings must be with reference to it if we would win it. To divide our attention would be to lose it.
But, does some brother or sister say, Alas! then I can never win this great prize? I cannot give all my attention to doing this one thing; I must spend time and strength daily, laboring for the meat that perisheth. Ah, brother, I am glad you mention it. I can encourage you on this point I hope. Let me remind you that Paul made tents for a living--"labored, working with his hands." Now, I ask you, was he not as truly in the service of God while making tents as while preaching? Was he not as really doing the one thing? The fact that you have less time, and doubtless less talent to spend in declaring the unsearchable riches of Christ, does not change the matter. God knows your circumstances and necessities, and he declares it to be his will that you care for those whom his providence has placed under your care. Hence, in thus caring for them, you are doing his will who declares, That "if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own household, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel" (1 Tim. 5:8).
But, on the other hand, let us see that our attention to earthly things is limited by necessity. There is danger that our necessities be too liberally considered, thus tending to cultivate pride and desire, and to hold us back and hinder our race. There is always danger lest the needful affairs of this life develop into matters of aim and object which would interfere and conflict with the one aim before us.
In a word, then, whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do, let us do all to the glory of God. If we find certain food to incapacitate us and interfere with--this one thing we do--then we should deny ourselves of it. Can we glorify our Father more by great plainness of dress, or great plainness of speech? Then that alone and not our convenience or will, but His will be done. This is doing the same one thing and seeking the same prize in the same way exactly as did Paul. This, too, is what Jesus meant when he said, "Seek ye first (chiefly) the kingdom of God." All other seeking must be subordinate to this if we would win this prize.
It will be noticed in Paul's argument, as above quoted (Phil. 3:15), that he concludes that as many as are standing complete in Christ, should have "this mind" to seek the one thing--the prize before and to forget those behind. And when he adds, "And if in any [other] thing you think differently, God will also reveal this unto you," it seems that he meant to have us understand, that wherever this entire consecration to the will of God exists, based on the ransom as expressed in verse 9, such consecrated ones are in the right way; and though they might, perhaps, hold minor errors, it was only a question of time when they would come to appreciate the truth. Beloved, let us who claim to stand complete and perfect in Christ Jesus, be thus minded, and thus, in all we do, press along the line, keeping in view only the one aim and prize of our high calling.
CONFIRMATIONS OF THE TRUTH OF THE BIBLE.
In Deut. 27:11-13, and Josh. 8:32-35 we are told of the blessings pronounced on the children of Israel from Mount Gerizim, and the curses from Mount Ebal; the full record of which may be found in the 28th chapter of Deuteronomy. It has doubtless seemed strange to many how these utterances could be heard from one mountain to the other; but here we have an explanation of it.
"Dr. Faunce said that he stood on Gerizim and his travelling companion, G. W. Gardner, now of Iowa, stood on Ebal, and alternately read these blessings and cursings, while others stood in the valley and responded 'amen'; and that all could hear every word distinctly, although the readers were a mile apart."
These mountains or peaks are eight hundred feet high, and are separated by a green, well-watered valley of five hundred yards wide. What a grand auditorium this valley was; and how admirably arranged by nature's great Architect, that "blessings" and "cursings" could be heard from cliff to cliff and from the valley below. How impressive the scene must have been!-- Selected.
"THE INVISIBLE THINGS OF HIM."
While it is true that the child of God must walk by faith and not by sight, it is blessed to find that the wisdom and love of our Father has provided crutches for us to lean upon when faith is weak or lame; for, "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him," even though they may be weak and lame, as we all are, more or less, owing to the hereditary taint of sin. We need help according to the exigencies of the hour and the times in which we live.
Under the Jewish dispensation men had to contend against flesh and blood; and though that is still true to a certain extent, yet our chief warfare now, during the Gospel age, is "not with blood and flesh," but "with the potentates of this darkness, with the spiritual things of wickedness in the heavenlies." (Eph. 6:12. --Dia.) This began to be the case when Paul made this statement, and it is growing more emphatic every hour.
The time was when the foe of man was visible, and, though some forms of evil are still visible, yet, as we said, the great conflict of the Christian is with an invisible power. The foe is growing more subtle and more intangible, but not the less real, for he knows "he has a short season" (Rev. 12:12); therefore, those who conquer must do so "through the BLOOD of the LAMB and through the word of their testimony" and "love not their life to death" (11th verse). Anciently, when God communicated with man he made use of some visible means, and when he sent the Redeemer into the world he took the form of man, having "a body prepared" for him. But now, though some of his agencies are still visible, yet the mighty powers are invisible, and the visible agencies have but little power, comparatively, and would have none, were it not communicated by the invisible.
Some men have no faith in the invisible, and can look only at the things which are seen. They have but little faith in an invisible, intelligent, Almighty personality called God, and none in an invisible, intelligent, mighty personality called Satan; and yet the invisible things of both are "clearly seen, being perceived by the things which are made."
Some who have a little faith in the invisible occasionally look away to the unseen, and feebly believe in them, while their principal interest and faith centers in the seen, the material, the temporal.
Man has always had some helps for his faith in the invisible, but our Father has graciously provided more of such helps as the time approaches for us to enter the unseen "house not made with hands."
We are already beginning to live, to a goodly extent, in the invisible. We do not now refer to our thoughts of God and invisible things in the sense in which it is said by the Apostle--"Our conversation is in heaven"--nor to supposed intercourse with spirits, but to the fact that we are standing not only where the "ends of the world" (ages) meet and blend, but where two domains, the visible and the invisible, mingle. The door of the invisible stands ajar, and we peer into the domain of unseen things. Many of the affairs of this [R479 : page 4] life are now being conducted by means of invisible powers.
It is but little more than a century since invisible forces came into practical use in the ordinary affairs of life, if we except the unseen power called life, which animates all living beings. But now these unseen powers have become such constant companions that we seem to be familiar with them, and they are so intimately associated with visible things that we almost forget that they are invisible, having never been seen by mortal eye, and probably never will be. [R480 : page 4]
When we are rapidly drawn from place to place by the power of steam, we hardly realize that it is an invisible and silent power. We think we see and hear it; but when we see it, it is dead, and what we hear is its dying groan. Its effects may be seen and heard, but the power is silent and invisible.
The mysterious power of electricity which is supposed to pervade space, and is thought by some to be the secret principle of life, has lately been our newsboy, is now our speaking-trumpet, by which we hold a pleasant conversation with our friends a thousand miles away, and the aged and infirm may, at home, listen to the church services in a distant city. This same power now gives us almost the light of day in our streets and dwellings, and proposes to be general house servant and detective.
Who can step up to the telephone for the first time and converse with a friend a hundred miles away as easily and pleasantly as though he stood by his side, hearing all the modulations of his voice and his subdued laugh in such a manner that he recognizes that it is his friend, and not feel as though he stood in the open door-way leading to the "unknown land?" Though we cannot demonstrate the connection between these wonderful developments and the stately steppings of our God, yet there are so many things which so strongly indicate the connection that it is easier for us to believe it than to disbelieve it.
There seems to be a striking coincidence between the words of Jesus in Matt. 24:27 and what has and is taking place at this time, when those who are looking for the fulfillment of his words discern that "the time is at hand." "For, as the lightning cometh out of the East and shineth even unto the West, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."
Father Miller, upon whom so much reproach has fallen (but who was a devoted Christian man of irreproachable Christian character), saw that there was an important, prophetic point in about 1843, and supposed that Christ was to personally and visibly appear to the world at that time, and that it would be the closing up of earthly affairs; but, when disappointment came, unlike many of his followers, he was not despondent, but believed that the Lord would lead his people to a further understanding of his word and designs, and that in the fullness of time he would come.
That awakening set many Christians to examining the Word with extreme care, the result of which is that many interesting parallels between the Jewish and Gospel ages have been discovered, and it is now convincingly known that the first step toward the second advent did take place at or about that time, but not in the manner that Father Miller had expected. If he had understood "the plan of the ages," he would have known better why Christ was to come again, and that God's first lesson to the world, that of making known the exceeding sinfulness of sin, had not yet been finished.
That which was "finished" upon the cross being the reconciling of the world "to God by the death of his Son," after which, "being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." If he had understood that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, and that from among the reconciled ones he was "taking out a people for his name," and that when taken out he would "come again and receive them unto himself," and that this had all been done for a purpose, which would be made known "in the ages to come, showing forth the exceeding riches of his grace; we say if he had known this (not then due, as we understand), he could have had a better understanding of the manner of his coming, and would not have expected him to come in a manner which would make it proper for men to say "lo, here is Christ or lo, there." (See "Food," pages 27 and 56: "Why will there be a second advent," and "How will Christ come.") In connection with what has been said above, including the words of Jesus referred to (Matt. 24:27), let us see if any notable events mark the time of expectation.
In 1833 "Father Miller" began to lecture upon the second coming of Christ, and premised that it would take place in the fall of 1843. In 1832 the electro-magnetic telegraph was conceived by Morse while on a transatlantic voyage, and it was born in 1835, "when he put up a half mile of wire in coils around a room and exhibited a telegraph in operation."
"In the morning of March 4th, 1843, he was startled with the announcement that the desired aid of Congress had been obtained in the midnight hour of the expiring session, and thirty thousand dollars placed at his disposal for his experimental essay between Washington and Baltimore. In 1844 the work was completed and demonstrated to the world.
In 1843, it is believed, occurs the first suggestion of the project of the Atlantic Telegraph (American Cyclopedia, Vol. II, page 850), and a few years after was realized the fact (whatever bearing it may have upon the subject) that real lightning, conveying intelligence, shone from "the East" to "the West," and vice versa.
While we would not be fanciful nor morbidly imaginative, we would not be too slow to mark the striking coincidence of events which seem to indicate the fulfillment of prophecy. Could any one who is most familiar with the railroads of the present day give, in so few words, so clear and vivid a description of locomotives and railroad carriages as is given in the second chapter of the prophecy of Nahum in these words? "The chariots shall be with flaming torches in the day of his preparation, and the fir-trees shall be terribly shaken. The chariots shall rage in the streets, they shall jostle one against another in the broadways: they shall seem like torches, they shall run like the lightnings." But, says one, that is a prophecy concerning Nineveh. Very true, but like most or all of the prophecies, it doubtless has a two-fold significance.
Like the prophecy concerning Babylon, which is generally understood to refer to the apostate Church of Rome as well as to the ancient city of that name, so this prophecy is understood by some, and with good reason, we think, to refer to the world, and to conditions affecting both the church and the world, and has an application in this time. But whatever may be thought concerning it, one thing is evident, that no carriages or chariots in Nineveh, nor anywhere in the history of the world, would so well answer to the description here given.
See how they "rage in the streets"; notice how, at their "couplings," they "jostle one against another in the broad ways"; and how, in the night time, they "seem like torches," and the very same forceful, though exaggerating term, is used by the prophet to convey an idea of their speed: "They shall run like the lightnings." So the modern term has been applied to a fast train, "the lightning train."
But, is some one saying, "How about the 'fir-trees,' are they not as symbolical as the rest?" Certainly. In Rev. 2:7 there is an evident reference to Jesus Christ as being "the tree of life," harmonizing with the statement which he made in John 6:55: "My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed." So these fir-trees, referred to by the prophet, we understand to be a class of people, and as the fir-tree is spoken of in scripture as a "goodly" tree and "choice," and is evergreen, and as the Lord's people are spoken of in Isaiah 14:8 as "fir-trees," we conclude that in this prophecy his people are represented by the fir-trees; and, we ask, are not these "fir-trees terribly shaken" just now?
Ye "trees of righteousness," who are being bent and "terribly shaken" before the storm blast, begin the 61st chapter of Isaiah and dwell with loving gratitude and joy upon the 3d verse. In harmony with this, we find in Daniel 12:4 the statement that in "the time of the end many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall be increased."
But, some say, that is only a general statement; men have always run to and fro, and knowledge has been increasing from the beginning. Very good, but do not events particularly emphasize that statement just now? You know very well that men never could run to and fro as they can now; in comparison, they had to crawl to and fro.
No longer ago than when "Father Miller" and his contemporaries were boys it would have taken a man as long to travel from New York to Ohio and back as it does now to travel around the world; and only one decade ago, with all the helps for faith in unseen things which were in the world then, if any man had soberly stated that within ten years we could sit in our easy chair in New York City and talk, not by signs, but by word of mouth, to friends in Cleveland, Ohio, it would have been said that he was extravagant in thought, or deprived of reason.
The telephone, substantially as it is now, was first practically introduced in the fall of 1877, and the following spring of 1878 was the time when, we understand, favor to Israel was due to begin, and, according to the Berlin treaty, actually did begin.
Three thoughts are (to "the watcher") noticeable here, whether significant or not. The Jewish year commences in October, and in the same year and at the time which marks the ending of the age, according to our understanding of the chronology, two noted events took place, whether they have any connection or not, they are historical events; the introduction of the Electric Telephone and the Berlin Treaty. Those at least who love his appearing are pleased to note in these things the fulfillment of at [R481 : page 4] least one prophecy: "Many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall be increased." ..."Many shall be purified and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand." They see, also, that these things have been "closed up and sealed until the time of the end."
In conclusion, we would say with another (H. Grattan Guiness), that we "would strongly deprecate the false and foolish popular notion, that all study of prophecy is unpracticable--a notion too often propagated by passing, but mischievously influential allusions to the subject, from pulpit, platform and press, made by those who know little either of it or of its effects.
It ought to be a sufficient rebuke to the levity that hazards such an assertion, or admits such an idea, to recall the facts, that one-third of the Bible consists of prophecy, and that our Lord and Master said, "Search the Scriptures"-- not a portion of them only.
The apostle Peter expressly tells us that we do well to take heed to the "More sure word of prophecy, as unto a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawn and the day star arise."
Is it unpractical to make use of a good lantern in a pitch-dark night in traversing a dangerous road? Or is it not rather unpractical and unreasonable to attempt to dispense with it? Noah was a student of unfulfilled prophecy, and Scripture presents no more practical preacher of righteousness than he was. All the prophets were students, too, of their own and of each other's predictions, and especially of their chronological predictions.
"The prophets inquired and searched diligently, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify" (1 Peter 1:10). Daniel was a student of unfulfilled prophecy, yet he was not only a practical statesman, but a man of singular holiness, classed with Noah and Job as one of the most righteous of men. There is everything in the nature of the study to make those who pursue it both practical and holy. It imbues the mind with the counsels and judgment of God about the affairs and the events of earth; it reveals what shall be, and thereby lessons the inordinate power of that which is now, bringing the spirit under the influence of things unseen and eternal, and thereby weakening that of things seen and temporal. It affords to hope much needed food, lacking which we must languish and grow feeble, and to faith and love peculiar stimulus and enjoyment.
Without intelligent acquaintance with the teaching of the prophetic word, no man of God is or can be thoroughly furnished to all good works, for it is a part of the "all Scripture" given by inspiration, and is profitable for the purpose of rendering him so.
Perhaps one reason for the prevailing neglect of prophetic exposition and preaching will be found, on reflection, to lie, not in the fact that it is unpractical, but rather in the fact that it is so peculiarly practical that few have the boldness and courage to face the ridicule, opposition and contempt it is sure to incur in the world. So far from the study and exposition of the prophetic word being profitless and vain, we believe it is impossible to estimate the loss sustained by the church, or the injury done to the world, by the very general and unjustifiable neglect of it. Is it not our duty to declare the whole counsel of God? Those who have carefully looked into this subject, solemnly and with good ground, believe that the word we are commanded to preach is full of evidence that the long predicted and long delayed judgments on all the powers of evil which are not only already begun, but are fast accomplishing before our eyes, are to issue, and that speedily, in such a burning of Babylon the Great as will light up all Christendom with the lurid glow, the accompaniment of the glorious advent of the King of kings; yet multitudes of Christian teachers, without even taking the trouble of examining into the subject, still preach the contrary, or imply it in their preaching, not from well-grounded convictions of its truth, but from educational prejudice or mere force of habit.
Is this right? Ought not every minister of the Word to study for himself the teachings of Scripture until he is satisfied that he has attained the truth on this momentous theme?
For, if we are right, if there be unequivocal evidence in the inspired volume, evidence that no previous generation of Christians was in a position to appreciate, as Christians can now, that the day of Christ is at hand--if we be right in believing that scarcely a single prophecy in the whole Bible, relating to events prior to the second advent of Christ, remains unfulfilled--if we be right, then surely every pulpit in the land should be ringing with timely testimony to these truths; surely these solemn and momentous facts ought not, in the preaching of any of God's faithful ministers throughout the world, to be passed by in silence. And who, that has not studied the subject, can be in a position to say that we are not right-- that these things are not so?
May such a spirit, as the Bereans of old had, be granted to the Christians of this generation, that they may diligently search the "more sure word of prophecy," and draw direct from that sacred fountain the truth as to the fast approaching future which God has graciously revealed.
It seems hardly necessary for us to add that no faint and feeble efforts in the study of the Word will be sufficient to "thoroughly furnish" us, for many will and do seek it in that way, and no man who shall "strive to enter in at the straight gate," who does not take pains to understand his "Master's will" so as to "strive lawfully," can expect to be crowned (2 Tim. 2:5).
J. C. SUNDERLIN.
The "World's Hope" is at hand, and complains that we misstated its teachings. It finds it easier to cry "unfair" than to answer a few pointed questions regarding the very fundamental principles of Christianity, which we presented as a test of its faith or unbelief in the death of Jesus as the ransom for our guilt and penalty. Our contemporary, if it still belongs to the household of faith, seems to have forgotten the exhortation of the Apostle to be able to give a reason for the hope that is in it, with meekness. Whether it has forgotten this injunction, or had no reasons to give, or was not able to give them, we are yet in doubt; for instead of offering even now an answer to the questions, which would have set at rest all "mis-representation," and what it terms "unfair" statement, it raises a dust of mixed and confusing statements, some of which we quote below:
We are sincerely glad to note, however, that even though it be under great pressure, yet it seems to be getting nearer the truth on the subject of ransom, bought, etc., and seems reluctantly to admit now that Jesus was man's representative IN DEATH, which is just what we claim in the fullest sense. It says: "Let the full light of His representative relation to the race be seen, and it all becomes plain. If he STOOD FOR--or was reckoned to be the world of mankind-- then the sin, all the sin of the world, must have been on Him." And again, "That Christ was thus made the sin-bearer is shown by many scriptures; and, in order to bear the sins of the world, he had to become the world-- the man."
We are glad to note this approach toward a full confession of truth, and pray that it may go on. At the same time we must criticize a little, and say that the expression relative to Jesus becoming the world is certainly very ambiguous. We, and doubtless most of its readers, will understand this to mean that Jesus was a representative, substitute, or ransom for all the world. But if our contemporary meant this, why did it not state itself plainly? We wonder if it has anything to hide under this ambiguous expression, or, if it did not like to use words so nearly the expressions of the TOWER, which it seems to regard as an enemy, which it is not. Like Paul, when such momentous questions are in dispute, we must for the good and safety of each other, and all the flock, use great "plainness of speech." Let us remember, that without a child-like and humble spirit we are not well pleasing to our Father, and that the spirit of truth is to acknowledge an error if we find that we had fallen into one.
Again, it says: "A most clear prophecy of this sin-bearing relation of Christ to us, is given in Isa. 53. "Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows:...He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we (sinners, 'every man,' Heb. 2:9) like sheep have gone astray: we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." This Scripture is surely in fullest harmony with the thought of Jesus being our ransom, substitute, or representative, in receiving for us the wages of our sins--death.
But, stop! we read further: Some "may think because we believe he is the World's Sin-bearer, that we are virtually maintaining the doctrine of Substitution-- the punishing of the innocent instead of the guilty." Why, of course, we would--who could think otherwise? Does it fear that its readers will draw this legitimate conclusion? It seems so, for it continues: "But nothing is [R482 : page 5] further from our thought if we understand the meaning of words or have any idea of justice. We place Representation AGAINST Substitution."
We must confess that we are puzzled. Our contemporary has evidently some private meaning for words, and when, in the above quotations, we hoped we were getting at agreement, supposing it used the word representative the way other people use it; but now we are entirely lost as to its meaning, for, by its Dictionary, representation and substitution are opposites--or against each other in meaning.
If every writer should adopt a special meaning for his words, it would be useless to read at all, for the reader would never know what the writer meant. It is for this reason that people adopt some general standard by which to determine the meaning of words. We suggest Webster's Dictionary as a standard, and here give its definition of the words our contemporary understands to be opposites, or against each other in meaning, that all may see how very closely the words are related in meaning, and how far from being opposites.
REPRESENTATIVE.--An agent, deputy or substitute, who supplies the place of another.
SUBSTITUTE.--One who, or that which is substituted, or put in the place of another.
SUBSTITUTION.--The act of substituting or putting one person or thing in the place of another; as the substitution of an agent, attorney, or representative.
Now, we ask, what two words in the English language could more nearly mean the same thing? If our contemporary is so astray on this point, may it not be equally in error as to what constitutes a proper idea of Justice? Who can show that God was unjust in permitting Jesus to become man's substitute, ransom, or representative, or that, in laying upon Jesus--the willing Ransom--the iniquity of us all, there was anything cruel, unkind, or contrary to Justice or Love.
Again, arguing against Substitution, it says: "If the premises were correct, Christ, being the substitute for man, should not have been raised at all." We answer, that it is important to keep in mind the distinction between the man Christ Jesus who died, and the new creature Christ Jesus who was raised and ever lives. It was the man that was substituted for mankind, as Paul tells it: "Through a man (Adam) there is death, through a man also (Jesus) there is a resurrection of the dead." (1 Cor. 15:21--Diaglott).
Again, our contemporary says: "We admit that Jesus was not raised in the same, but in a much higher condition than that in which he lived before; but, to say that he was a substitute for man because he laid down a condition, and was then raised to a higher, is to make the condition and not Christ himself the substitute for man." We reply that this is just exactly the Scripture teaching and our claim, viz: That the pre-existent one who was in a spiritual-- mighty--form, took upon him the form or CONDITION of a man--became a man--that he, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man-- (Phil. 2:7,8). In due time he gave that human condition (with all its rights) a RANSOM for all--as the price for all-- and thus a right to perfect human conditions, was bought for every man. Now, did he in the resurrection take back again the human condition--human nature? We answer, no. He was "put to death in the flesh--quickened in Spirit" (1 Pet. 3:18). "Sown an animal body, raised a spiritual body." (1 Cor. 15:44-- Diaglott.) Hence our contemporary admits our position exactly, if the expression last quoted conveys its real meaning. We do not claim, and never have claimed, that Christ Jesus the new creature, the Spiritual being, was our substitute, but the reverse; it was the man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom for all, and who, because of this work, was highly exalted by the Father to his present divine nature and excellent glory (Phil. 2:8,9--Diaglott).
Does any one suggest that our last position, being true, proves that the leaving of the spiritual condition for the human condition was a death or a sacrifice also? We answer that Paul shows that the leaving of the previous condition and becoming a man was a part of the "humbling" connected with the sacrifice. But recall, that life was not given up or lost there, or "laid down" even for a moment, but was transferred to the Babe of Bethlehem; hence, that was not the sacrifice or death, but only an incidental preparation for death as a man. On the contrary, when he died--at Calvary--life was given up, lost, laid down completely, for he was dead three days--all existence was at an end--He gave "all that he had" (Matt. 13:44). After three days he received life as a new creature, as a "gift of God," as a reward of obedience; but he took not again the human nature or CONDITION, and never can do so. For if he were to take that back, it would be taking back the price, with which he bought us.
From some of the foregoing quotations it will be seen that our contemporary is either really, or seemingly, again approaching the truth on this very important doctrine, and we would not in the slightest hinder the work of reformation, but rather bid it God-speed, and welcome back again to the sure foundation him who, in times past, was a true "yoke-fellow." But, true reformation should be accompanied by repentance and a very plain, correct restatement of things misstated.
Lest some should think that we were, as it claims, unfair and misstated its teachings, on the subject of the ransom, in our last issue, we will below give some quotations showing that we were not.
It will be seen by the following quotations from our contemporary's January issue, page 59, that, referring to the sacrifice which atones for our sins and reconciles to God, it teaches that by the destruction of sin by each individual in himself, each thus RECONCILES himself to God by the destruction of the enmity [sin, or curse] in himself. Each sinner thus reaching a condition of at-one-ment with God, instead of as Paul states it: We were reconciled to God by the death of His Son--while we were yet sinners (Rom. 5:10). We quote:
"The shedding of the blood of the beast represented the killing of the life principle of the lower nature--the enmity, the carnal mind, the will of the flesh--and was required, because nothing but the complete RECONCILIATION, which the destruction of the enmity involves, could satisfy law or justice and yet save the man." Again: "As the carnal mind cannot be subject to God's law (Rom. 8:7), ITS destruction is a necessity to man's salvation, so this killing sacrifice is the RECONCILING ACT." If this does not directly deny, it does entirely ignore the reconciling act mentioned in Scripture, viz: "While we were sinners, we were reconciled to God by the DEATH OF HIS SON." Again, it says: "What the Law could not do,--set man right--the GOSPEL of Christ accomplishes."
Here is just the point. It claims that man's salvation is a moral reformation, hence, whatever leads men to reform, saves. We claim, on the contrary, that before reformation could be of any value to men, they must be redeemed, ransomed, bought. The Adamic sin must be canceled, and the condemnation too, and death must be lifted by the sacrifice of man's ransom, substitute, or representative --the man Christ Jesus. Then comes the gospel--the good news--that man is ransomed, and it is the love of God thus manifested in our redemption which leadeth men to repentance and reformation. Yes, the gospel is that which Paul preached, saying: "I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received [first of all], how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures" (1 Cor. 15:3).
In our contemporary's issue of Dec. last it says, speaking of the death of Christ: "The real death which he died, and which gave him such power to draw men to himself, was that of which the physical death on the cross was but a shadow." "He died out of the old dispensation of law into the dispensation of grace. Being the first, He established that dispensation. He died out of the Adamic LIFE (?) and rose into the perfect life of the second Adam."... "He will, therefore, draw men out of law into grace; out of the life (?) of the first Adam into that of the second Adam." Again, page 42: "Christ died to the old relation which he had COME INTO by Adam's sin." And again, "The blood which must be shed, without which there is no remission of sins, IS that which is the evidence of the death of the ENMITY WITHIN US --death to sin."
These quotations, we think, can be construed only as we did construe them in our last issue--"WE ANSWER FOR THEM." However, we will say this: If our contemporary does attach a proper weight to the death of Jesus as our ransom, it is not well expressed in the above quotations from its columns; and we further suggest, that it can set at rest the entire question by clear and straightforward answers to the six questions on the subject, proposed in our February issue, which we answered in our last. Let the truth be known.
As in contrast with the utterances of our contemporary, we wish to present to its readers and ours, an article from the pen of its Editor when he was a "true yoke-fellow," a valued correspondent of the TOWER, and defender of the value of the ransom as the price of man's release from death.
The article is on this very topic, and it should be noticed that it is a clear, straight-forward statement of the scriptural views as still held and presented by the WATCH TOWER. It does not abound with ambiguities and non-understandable expressions, as present theories of this writer seem to make necessary--such as "He became the world," etc. The article below is a reprint from "ZION'S WATCH TOWER," October, 1879. Would to God that he might return to this foundation. For this we most earnestly seek and pray.
One of the prominent features of God's plan, by which his love is manifested, is Christ's death.
Perhaps no other feature has been opposed so much as the idea that the death of Christ should have anything to do with man's salvation; and much effort has been made by some to explain it away, or so modify the teachings of the Bible on this subject as to make it palatable to the natural mind.
The bold and reckless spirit that declares, by word or action, that we will believe nothing unless it accords with our reason, may be characteristic of the age in which we live, but it does not savor of the meek and quiet spirit that trembles at the word of the Lord. We do not oppose the searching and comparing of the Scriptures to ascertain what they teach. That is really the disciple's work. And it is right also to bring all theories to the test of God's word--to "prove all things [by that standard] and hold fast that which is good." And in all this we shall find room for the exercise of the faculty of reason; but if in our searching we find a fact stated, the philosophy of which we cannot see, it is hardly becoming in a Christian, to ignore or belittle the fact.
We may fail of seeing for two reasons --either because God has withheld his reason, or because we are still ignorant of some other revealed fact which in due time will be made plain. Better, if need be, to say, "I do not understand," than to deny the facts.
No careful student can fail to be impressed with the stress that is laid on the death of Christ. That some have overlooked other truths, and so laid too much stress on the death, we will not deny; but that is no excuse for our belittling the death by overexalting other features. A morbid desire for something new and peculiar, should be checked by a careful reading of the context before using a verse, or a small part of it, in proof of a new theory.
"When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. Scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet, peradventure, for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died [R483 : page 6] for us" (Rom. 5:6-8). How can Christ's death show or commend God's love to us unless that death meets a necessity in the sinner's case?
To do for us what we could or must do for ourselves would not be an expression of benevolence. To say that he died to meet our necessity would be a strange thing indeed, if it were only his life that could help us. But verse 10 shows us the value of both the death and the life, and should forever prevent us from confounding the two or ignoring either one. "Reconciled [atoned] to God by the death of his Son,...saved by his life."
That there is an atonement by the death of Christ the above passage clearly teaches, and is so translated in verse 11. And even if the salvation by his life is elsewhere called reconciliation, or if there should be discovered a dozen other reconciliations, still it remains true that we are "reconciled to God by the death of his Son," and it is an expression of God's great love for the world of sinners.
That this atonement, by the death of Christ, has no reference to the breaking down of the middle wall between the Jew and Gentile, is clear, because the apostle goes on to explain, and shows as plain as words could make it, that the atonement secures to mankind what was lost through Adam.
"Wherefore," in the 12th verse, relates back to the atonement of verse 11, and it is stated that as by one man all men were condemned to death, so by the atonement all men are justified to life. To overlook this is to ignore the "wherefore" and "therefore" of the apostle, verses 12-18. We do not overlook the fact or value of Christ's obedience any more than we overlook Adam's sin. Sin brought death, and righteousness brings life. But that the death of Christ, the righteous one, was a necessity, is the idea for which we here plead.
Now, if any one can read carefully the whole passage and not see that Christ's death secures to man recovery from DEATH, it will prove that the human mind is greatly biased by its own determinations.
It is not an isolated text, however, that teaches the recovery from death by the death of Christ.
ATONEMENT IS THE BASIS OF RESURRECTION.
The apostle has shown us that Christ's death is the atoning act. We shall, therefore, expect to find the death of Christ associated with man's recovery from death.
We are not forgetting the resurrection of Christ, nor overlooking its value as the entrance of the Head into endless life, and, therefore, as the key of immortality for mankind; but we are seeking to give his death its place as the PRICE of redemption or recovery.
Certainly man's recovery from death is one thing, and the gift of immortality is another, and they should be so considered, though they are intimately related to each other. The former is the basis of the latter, and the latter is the object for which the former is accomplished; hence it is said, "Reconciled by his death, saved by his life."
"He died for our sins." It is not said that he rose for our sins. He is the Lamb that taketh away the sin of the world. The world's sin is Adam's sin. "In whom all have sinned" (Rom. 5:12-- marg). "He bore our sins in his own body on the tree." He became a curse for us." "Wounded for our transgressions." "By his stripes we are healed." "Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel--not with the wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect" (1 Cor. 1:17). If Christ's death in itself does nothing, then it is of no effect. The cross must refer to the death and not to the after life. "The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but to us that are saved it is the power of God" (verse 18).
"The Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified" (verses 22,23). "I determined to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified" (Chapter 2:2). From what he said in the first chapter, we know Paul made a specialty of the death in his preaching.
The cross is the basis of all the glory. He laid down his life for the sheep. "No man taketh it from me. I lay it down of myself." To Pilate he said, "Ye could have no power at all were it not given you from above."
After the hour for the Passover (he being the antitype, and it must be fulfilled on time) he no longer sought to protect himself, nor allowed others to protect him, but gave himself into their hands. His hour had come; then and not till then "they killed the Prince of life." "He gave his life a ransom for many"--"A ransom for all, to be testified in due time." Hence, being redeemed-- "bought with a price"--we are not our own.
That Christ died in the same sense in which men die, and in which men are counted dead before they die, must be true, or there would be no relation between his death and theirs. Here, again, the love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge that if one died for all, then were all dead (not all actually dead, but counted dead)--"death (sentence) passed on all." His death was of the same kind, MET THE CLAIM AS A RANSOM, so that all are his, and counted alive, for the object as stated, "that he died for all, that they who live should no longer live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them and rose again." The idea is here suggested that he gained the right to control all for whom he died....
This work of redeeming by death, is not to be confounded with the work of the second Adam, which is to impart spiritual life.
CHRIST DID NOT BECOME THE SECOND ADAM UNTIL HE WAS MADE A QUICKENING SPIRIT.
That our Lord Jesus is the antitype of Adam, as Head of a new race, is true, but he is more than that. Adam, besides being head of a race, was lord of all [the earthly] creation. So, too, Jesus died and rose again that he might be Lord both of the dead and the living (Rom. 14:9). So, too, the uttermost parts of the earth are to be his possession (Psalm 2). That this is not a baseless assumption is shown in Heb. 2. There we learn that the very purpose for which Christ took our nature was, that "by the grace of God he might taste death for every man."--"That through death he might destroy him that had the power over death, i.e., the devil, and deliver them who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage." He binds the strong man, the prison-keeper, and delivers the captives. He delivers them from the death of which they were afraid during their lifetime. They never had a spiritual lifetime, and never dreaded a spiritual death. Christ took the natural that he might redeem the natural, and possesses the spiritual that he may impart the spiritual, is the evident teaching of the Bible. The same thought of his having power over the dead is brought to view in Rev. 1:18. "I am he that liveth and was dead: and behold I am alive forevermore; Amen; and have the keys of Hades and of death."...
This is in keeping with all the rest. Christ died that we might live, and lives that we might live forever. This view of the subject does not shut God out of the work and plan, for it is his plan to work in and by the Lord Jesus. That the terms death and life are used figuratively, sometimes, we freely admit, and the context will determine it; but when speaking of the penalty of sin and resurrection from it, the death of Christ must serve as the key. Thus, as well as page 6 otherwise, we can glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Brethren, let us beware of anything that belittles or sets aside the death of Christ as the offering and PROPITIATION FOR SIN, not ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. The simplicity, nature, object and extent of this RANSOM will be testified--made known in due time.
J. H. P.
THE COUNCIL OF NICE AND THE CANON OF SCRIPTURE.
BY H. L. HASTINGS.
A portion of the skeptical class of the community are intelligent and somewhat candid, but unfortunately are not familiar with the subjects about which they talk, and hence are led into most egregious errors.
There is, perhaps, no statement more current among infidels at large, whether of high or low degree, than that the canon of New Testament Scripture was defined and settled by a vote of the bishops assembled at the Council of Nice, in the year A.D. 325. Over and over has this assertion been made and reiterated. And many infidels have settled it as one of the articles of their faith, and upon this basis proceed to deride Christians for their folly and superstition.
I recollect meeting this story in Marlboro', Mass., where it had been written out by a leading infidel, and printed in a newspaper. The writer declared that this account of the origin of the New Testament rested upon the authority of Papias, an early Christian bishop. I replied that there was one little difficulty about that story, namely, that Papias had been dead and buried 150 years or more before the Council of Nice was ever heard of; but suggested that, as they might have obtained their information from "the spirits," the fact of his death was no insuperable difficulty in the way of their theory. The skeptic arose to explain, and said the person alluded to was not the right Papias, but that the one he referred to was an "obscure Christian bishop of the fourth century." The writer replied that he was no doubt very "obscure," so obscure that no one had ever heard of him before or since.
It seemed desirable, however, that this statement about Papias should be looked up, and so, turning to a well-known infidel book written by an English author, and published at the office of what has long been the leading infidel paper of America, these words were found:
"The following fact, mentioned by Pappius in his 'Synodicum of the Council of Nice,' is however, worth all the preceding, valuable and curious though they be. Pappius informs us of the manner in which the true Gospels were selected from the false at that memorable council: 'This was done,' says he, 'by placing all the books under a communion table, and upon the prayers of the council, the inspired books jumped upon the table! while the false ones remained under!' What a test of truth! What a proof of inspiration! It is quite a stirring argument. Who, after this, will venture to doubt the authenticity of the Scriptures?.... And if these councils are not to be depended upon, we have no means of ascertaining which of the immense numbers of Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Revelations, are really genuine, or if any are so. All is confusion, doubt, and uncertainty. A curious state of things when a book is said to be of divine origin."
Similar statements are found in numerous infidel publications, and are received with unquestioning confidence by infidels who taunt Christians with their credulity in believing the Bible. This story, as quoted above, was referred to as "an historical record translated from the Greek," in an article published in a Boston infidel paper.
Briefly stated, the Council of Nice did nothing of the kind during its sessions, as this question did not come up for consideration there. This foolish story occurs in a book entitled "Synodikon," which was printed from an old Greek manuscript, first discovered by John Pappus, a German theologian, but written no one knows when, where, or by whom; but as it refers to events which occurred in the year A.D. 869, we know it must have been written at least 544 years after the Council of Nice was held. Pappus probably discovered this romancing old document in some library, and printed it as a curiosity; and infidels have swallowed it whole, as if it were the authentic history of an eye-witness.
We propose now to show briefly, the absurdity and falsity of the assertion that the New Testament was concocted by a pack of priests, or an ecclesiastical council.
Robert Phillip's "Life, Times, and Missionary Enterprises of John Campbell," the African Missionary traveler, contains (pp. 215-216) the following anecdote by Mr. Campbell:
I remember distinctly an interesting anecdote referring to the late Sir David Dalrymple, better known to literary men abroad by his title of Lord Hailes, a Scottish judge. I had it from the late Rev. W. Buchanan, one of the ministers of Edinburgh. I took such interest in it that, though it must be about fifty years ago since he told it, I think I can almost relate it in Mr. Buchanan's words:
"I was dining sometime ago with a literary party at old Mr. Abercrombie's, father of General Abercrombie who was slain in Egypt at the head of the British army, and spending the evening together. A gentleman present put a question which puzzled the whole company. It was this: 'Supposing all the New Testaments in the world had been destroyed at the end of the third century, could their contents have been recovered from the writings of the first three centuries?'
"The question was novel to all, and no one even hazarded a guess in answer to the inquiry. About two months after this meeting, I received a note from Lord Hailes, inviting me to breakfast with him next morning. He had been one of the party. During breakfast he asked me if I recollected the curious question about the possibility of recovering the contents of the New Testament from the writings of the first three centuries.
"'I remember it well,' said I, 'and have thought of it often, without being able to form any opinion of conjecture on the subject.'
"'Well,' said Lord Hailes, 'that question quite accorded with the turn or taste of my antiquarian mind. On returning home, as I knew I had all the writings of those centuries, I began immediately to collect them, that I might set to work on the arduous task as soon as possible.' Pointing to a table covered with papers, he said, 'There have I been busy for these two months, searching for chapters, half-chapters, and sentences of the New Testament, and have marked down what I have found, and where I found it, so that any person may examine and see for himself. I have actually discovered the whole New Testament from those writings, except seven (or eleven) verses, (I forgot which,) which satisfied me that I could discover them also. 'Now,' said he, 'here was a way in which God concealed or hid the treasure of his Word, that Julian, the apostate emperor, and other enemies of Christ who tried to extirpate the gospel from the world, never would have thought of; and though they had, they never could have effected their destruction.'
"The labor of effecting this feat must have been immense; for the gospels and epistles would not be divided into chapters and verses as they are now. Much must have been effected by help of a concordance. And having been judge for many years, a habit of minute investigation must have been formed in his mind."
The Ante-Nicene Library, published by T. & T. Clark, of Edinburgh, comprises some twenty-four octavo volumes, averaging about five hundred pages each. In these 12,000 octavo pages of printed matter, which stand on a shelf by my side as I write, are comprised nearly all the extant writings of some fifteen or twenty of the most eminent Christian authors who lived before the year A.D. 325, when the Council of Nice was convened. One of these volumes also contains such remains of those spurious, uncanonical and fictitious Gospels, Acts, etc., as have come down to us from early ages. In these twelve thousand pages, all of which are accessible to skeptics in the English translations, and which can be compared with the originals by those who are [R484 : page 7] competent to do so, will be found an avalanche of evidence upon the question of the origin of the New Testament Scriptures.
These men, some of whom were contemporary with the Apostles, and others who, as their immediate successors, were well acquainted with their associates and contemporaries, give in these writings the most positive and unmistakable evidence as to the New Testament books which they received, and as to the estimation in which those books were held. They quote passage after passage and page after page of the same Scriptures that are quoted to-day and read in every Christian assembly. They quoted the books which we quote; they quoted them as we quote them; they received them as we receive them, and this, long before the Council of Nice or any other council had anything to say about the canon of the Scriptures.
Polycarp, who was martyred A.D. 155 or 156, after having served Christ eighty-six years, and who was, during some thirty years of his long Christian life, contemporary with the Apostle John, whose disciple he was, quotes in his epistle to the Philippians, nearly forty passages from our New Testament; Justin Martyr, who wrote about A.D. 140, or some forty years after the decease of the Apostle John, quotes again and again the very words which we now read in the New Testament; and in the writings of Irenaeus, A.D. 178; Clement A.D. 194; Tertullian, A.D. 200; and Origen, A.D. 230, are to be found 8,728 quotations from the New Testament, including every book which we accept as canonical.*
*TERTULLIAN, in the thirty-sixth chapter of his work, "Against Heretics," written about A.D. 200, when the parchment writings of the apostles, being less than one hundred and fifty years old, should, with ordinary care, have been in perfect preservation, thus speaks concerning the authentic writings of the apostles, then read in the churches: "Come, now, you who would indulge a better curiosity, if you would apply it to the business of your salvation, run over the apostolic churches, in which the very chairs of the apostles are still pre-eminent in their places, in which their own authentic writings are read, uttering the voice and representing the face of each of them severally. Achaia is very near you, in which you find Corinth. Since you are not far from Macedonia, you have Philippi, you have the Thessalonians. Since you are able to cross to Asia, you get Ephesus. Since, moreover, you are close upon Italy, you have Rome, from whence comes, even into our hands, the very authority" [of the apostles].
[R485 : page 7]
Dr. Alexander Keith, in the sixth chapter of his "Demonstration of the Truth of the Christian Religion," records the number of quotations from the New Testament which can be found in works which are still extant, by the writer whom we have named. He reports seven hundred and sixty-seven (767) passages quoted by Irenaeus, from every book in the New Testament except the third epistle of John and the epistle of Jude; three hundred and eighty-nine (389) passages quoted by Clement from every book except the epistle of James and the second and third epistles of John, and the epistle of Jude; eighteen hundred and two (1802) passages, or, if repetitions are included, more than three thousand passages, quoted by Tertullian, from every book in the New Testament except the epistle to James, the third of John, the second of Peter, and the epistle of Jude; while the works of Origen yet extant, contain five thousand seven hundred and sixty-five (5,765) quotations from the New Testament, including every book contained therein, and excluding all of the so-called apocryphal books, about which infidels sometimes talk so freely. Many works of Origen and other authors of those times have perished, but it is probable that if Origen's entire writings had been preserved, if the New Testament had been lost, it could have been reconstructed from them alone.
These authors which we have named comprise but a portion of the authors who wrote before the Council of Nice; but these are sufficient to settle forever this question of the authenticity of the New Testament Scriptures.
The fact that councils, at a later date, published to the world lists of books which they received as of divine authority, may be important to the council, but is of no importance to the books themselves. A town meeting or a village caucus might publish to the world the volumes they receive as the statutes of the state or the general laws of the nation, but their publication of the fact has no possible connection with the authority of those laws. If they receive them as authoritative, well and good; if they do not receive them, other people do; and the government is abundantly able to enforce them. So this talk about councils and priests concocting the New Testament out of a jumbled-up lot of doubtful and questionable books, is an evidence of that skeptical credulity which is so abundant among infidels as a class.--The Armory.
QUESTIONS ON SUBSTITUTION.
Ques. If Jesus was man's substitute in death, why should men continue to die since his substitution of his life for ours? Is it not an argument against his view that men continue to die? For, if God be just, he could not hold both the sinner and his substitute for the same Adamic sin.
Ans. It is not only a scriptural statement that Jesus "died for our sins" as our representative or substitute, but also that "He bought us;" and, to appreciate the matter fully, we must give this its weight also.
Jesus was man's substitute in the sense that he met in his own person the penalty which God's broken law had charged against us. Consequently, God no longer CONDEMNS, because Christ died (See Rom. 8:34). This much, then, is settled--the condemnation. But now comes the question, if the Law is satisfied why is not the executioner, who has the power of death (the devil--Heb. 2:14), stopped at once? To solve this question, we must remember that while all the work and will of Christ is that of the Father, yet, in the legal aspect of the case now being considered, we see that men are not now amenable to the Father, but to His Son who bought them. The fact, then, that the enemy is not interrupted in his work is in no way chargeable to injustice of Jehovah; and as to the purchaser, Jesus, while he has announced his intention to exercise his authority and release all in his own due time, yet, who shall find fault with Him who bought for us a right to life, if he does not bestow it immediately. Surely we may know that he has some good reason for the delay, even if we cannot know the reason; for we remember that he loved and pitied us; for "greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend."
But while we could trust his wisdom and love in ignorance of the wherefore, as thousands of our brethren in past ages have done, yet, we thank God that we are living in the time when it is pleasing him to reveal to us more of his plans, and to show us why death is permitted still to reign, even after Jesus has legally conquered it, and has "the keys (power to open) of death and hades" (Rev. 1:18).
It is because God has purposed, not only the restitution of mankind to the perfection of their nature as it existed before marred by death and its cause-- sin--but also the selecting out from among men of a "little flock," who, by a change of nature from human to divine, should be "new creatures," like unto Christ Jesus the Lord in his exaltation, and sharers of his work and glory-- especially in that of restoring mankind.
Now, all can see that this little flock --the Bride, who shall share his throne and work--must be selected FIRST, before "the times of restitution" begin, else she could not share. And if Jesus, immediately on having redeemed men, had begun to restore them--as soon as he had (the keys) "all power given unto him," (Matt. 28:18)--then it would have precluded the selection of the chaste virgin to be his Bride and helpmeet in the work.
We are glad, very glad, that it was in the plan of God that Jesus should delay using his great power, trusting that, by the grace of God, when he shall take to himself his great power and reign, we too shall be glorified together with him and share in the exercise of his power as he has promised, saying, "Greater things than these shall ye do," referring to his miracles which were mere shadows of the coming restitution of all things.
It might be asked, Why did Jesus not delay his first coming until the Bride had been selected and the restitution work had become due? As it is closely connected with our previous question under discussion, we here answer it:
Not only was it needful that we should sacrifice with Jesus the human nature, in order to share with him the divine nature and glory, but our human nature, being imperfect and already condemned through Adam, it was necessary that it should be redeemed, or bought from the condition of condemnation, before it could be an acceptable sacrifice for Jehovah's altar--upon which must come no blemished offering. It will be seen, then, at a glance, that the sacrifice of Jesus, as our ransom from sin, was necessary BEFORE the call could come to the Church to share his sacrifice and glory.
Notice further, that it was not only needful that time should elapse between the ransom and restitution, in which time the little flock may share in his sacrifice, but it was necessary that, during this time, EVIL should rule. Consider for a moment, that if our Prince were ruling now, and right-doing were rewarded and evil-doing punished, etc., it would be impossible for the little flock to be tried and tempted by evil, hence impossible for them to sacrifice themselves for truth and right. So, too, with Jesus' sacrifice; had it not been for the reign of evil, his witnessing for truth would have needed and brought no reproach, rejection, thorns, or cross, or death.
In the Millennial age, under the reign of Christ, it will be no longer possible to "overcome evil with good," for the dominion of evil will be ended and the reign of righteousness begun.
Those who regard the putting away of sins as the sacrifice (the discontinuance of evil practices, drunkenness, profanity, etc.,) will not appreciate our position. But those who see sacrifice to be something far beyond--the surrender and sacrifice of human rights, privileges, comforts and welfare--will appreciate the statement that such sacrifice can only be accomplished while there are evil conditions making them possible.
It is thus that the Gospel age is termed "The acceptable year of the Lord." It is the time during which God will accept of all sacrifices properly presented. No such opportunity was offered before this age except in type. It was not possible, because the ransom was not yet given; all were yet legally under condemnation of death as sinners. True, some believing God's plan of favor, looked forward, discerning the better sacrifices for sins, and in faith accepted the results. But that God did not treat sin as actually cancelled until Jesus had finished his sacrifice for sins, and presented it as the ransom price of our sins, is evident from the fact, that even the disciples of Jesus were not accepted by Jehovah as sacrifices until then--until Pentecost.
Jesus was an acceptable sacrifice, because in him was no sin. Those during this age, who accept of his ransom, share now in the benefits of his sacrifice, and are reckoned free from sin and its condemnation. Such, being made free from sin, may also become acceptable sacrifices--acceptable through the beloved--so long as the "Acceptable year of the Lord" lasts. When the "little flock"--the Bride, the Lamb's wife--has been selected according to this law of purifying and sacrificing (or justification and sanctification), then the special call to change nature by sacrifice, termed our high-calling, heavenly-calling, etc.--will cease.
The conditions of trial during the next age will be much easier than now, and the crown, though gloriously grand, will be less so than the one for which [R486 : page 7] we are running. Their aim, the perfection of the human nature; ours, the perfection of the divine--one a heavenly, and the other a glorious, earthly image of it. For the glory of the heavenly is one thing, and the glory of the earthly is another thing. The glory and dominion given to the first man (and his Bride), which is to be restored, placing him again but a little lower than the angels (Psa. 8:5), will but feebly illustrate the superior glory of our Lord-- the second Adam (and his Bride)-- made so much superior to angels, that to him every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. (Compare Psa. 8:5; Phil. 2:9,10; Heb. 1:4 and 1 Cor. 6:3.)
FOREKNOWLEDGE AND PREDESTINATION.
These two words have been the cause of a great deal of controversy among various classes of religionists, and many strange positions have been taken in regard to their Biblical meaning. Generally speaking foreknowledge is made to mean that unlimited wisdom of God which he possessed before the world was. We do not question but what God knew all things from eternity, but does the word foreknowledge, as used in the Scripture, refer to that unbounded intelligence which characterizes the infinite, or does it refer to that system which is revealed to us in the prophets? To us it appears plain that the two words foreknowledge and predestination, have no reference to the infinity of God's wisdom, but have specific reference to the plan of redemption made known in the promise, in type and in prophecy. In other words, the things written in the prophets. Foreknowledge refers to the things foretold. In order to make this point plain, we will refer to the Bible proofs:
Take for example Peter's words on the day of Pentecost. "Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain." (Acts 2:23.) The above text seems to be well explained in the next chapter. "But those things which God before had showed by the mouth of all his holy prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled." In strict harmony with the above, see Luke 24:44. "And he said unto them, these are the words which I spake unto you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets and in the Psalms concerning me."
The reader will notice that Jesus does not refer to any pre-arranged plan beyond that mentioned in the Holy Writings. Indeed, all that is said upon the subject of foreknowledge of God seems to refer to that which was written. It is a matter of relief to feel that the things revealed in the promises, types and prophecies of the Scriptures are referred to by the word foreknowledge. Now, as knowledge precedes plans or actions, it therefore follows that predestination and election merely refer to that pre-arranged system or plan by which God will save all who conform to the image of his Son through the gospel. We do not offer the above in a dogmatic spirit, but as suggestive of a possible solution of a much abused and misunderstood subject.--Our Rest.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
We clip the following item from a daily paper of recent date:
"The Pope will attend the coronation of the Czar. The coming together of these two heads of the different wings of the Catholic church, one of which recognizes the Pope as the supreme authority, and the other the Czar, is one of the most important religious events in the history of this century. It indicates a radical change in the prejudices of these two great religious bodies, the Roman and the Greek Church, that has been accomplished in the Protestant Church by the Evangelical Alliance."
What does it mean? Is it possible that this is to be the first open step toward a re-union of the Greek and Catholic churches? Is the breach of such long standing about to be closed? Originally, as is well known, the Church was one, with Constantinople as the residence of the Emperor, and the recognized [R486 : page 8] center of religious power. Afterward, a breach occurred, the Church became divided, the Bishops of Constantinople and Rome antagonized each other, and all attempts to heal the wounds and close the breach were fruitless. From that day to this the two have been apart. Rome maintained its supremacy, while Constantinople was wrested from its Greek professors, and has been held by the Mohammedans to this day. It is confidently expected, however, that it will ere long pass into the hands of Russia, and again become the recognized center of the religion of the Greek Church, of which the Czar is at present the recognized head.
In view of the marvelous changes through which the Roman Church has passed during the last twenty-five years, and the recent experiences of the Czar in his own dominions, may we not expect that the differences of the past will be buried, concessions made, and a reunion of the two Churches effected so as to give united strength to the work of restoring order, and checking, if possible, the dreaded opposition so rapidly coming to the front in all parts of Europe. That some change must take place, and that right early, is manifest.-- Our Rest. [Ans. See Isa. 8:12-16.--ED.]
Many Christians there are, both in and out of the Churches, who cannot endorse the doctrine of eternal torment. They reason, if God, as the Scriptures teach, is the source or fountain of love; if love is his chief characteristic, he little shows it by consigning thousands to endless pain, and thus exercising his unlimited power over helpless humanity. The doctrine, too, though formerly, and even yet by many, considered fundamental, is quite neglected in the pulpit, there being comparatively few who now defend it. Nevertheless, there are some apparently direct assertions of the Word of God which somewhat stagger earnest seekers after truth. A few of these passages will engage our attention at this time.
Among the most prominent, cited in support of this doctrine, is Mark 9:43-50. We think our Lord had in mind, while speaking these words, the literal Hell or Gehenna, which was located in one of the valleys near Jerusalem. Into this were cast all kinds of refuse and unburied bodies of animals and criminals. This mass was consumed by fires which were kept burning continually. It does not require a very vivid imagination to picture the place as one to be shunned. The ignominious end of the wicked is likened to this place of destruction. The language here used is figurative. A literal eye, or hand, or foot could not cause one to stumble in such a way as to affect his eternal welfare. Christ was addressing his disciples, not the world, and when they covenanted to follow him they were to have an eye to his glory, to the coming of his kingdom. There are eyes of the understanding as well as natural eyes. Eye is used as a representative of design or purpose--"Is thine eye evil because I am good?"--"If, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light; but if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness."
The eye is the director of the hand and foot, and whatever these latter represent, is under the control of the former. It is not an uncommon thing for many who have professed to have an eye for the glory of God, to have a much larger eye for business, for literature, for fame, etc. This larger eye is causing many to stumble, and the consequence will be, loss of the prize, the God-life. Better, indeed, would it be for such were they to pluck this eye out entirely, that they might have a single eye to the glory. Christ sought to teach his disciples that things most highly esteemed, those thought by mankind to be necessary, should be given up if they in the least hindered our progress. Paul echoed the same spirit when he said, "I count all things but loss," etc. "Let us lay aside every weight--and run."
Another scripture, misunderstood by many, is Matt. 25:46. A proper understanding of this is dependent, we think, upon the context. When the event occurs is all important. In verse 31 we are told, it is "When the Son of man shall come in his glory." This is at the coming of Christ, after the exaltation of the Church, when the glory reign has begun. During that reign those who have suffered with him in this age are to sit with him in his throne, while the sheep and the goats represent the world--the nations-- whose trial will then be due. With us in this age the test is faith, but with them the test will be works. "Inasmuch as ye have done," or "have not done." The separation of men into the two classes, symbolized by sheep and goats, will be the work of that age, and, by its close, all shall have come to a knowledge of truth, and had opportunity to come to favor, or right hand position, as sheep. Those wilfully wicked, represented by the goats, will go down into destruction, symbolized by fire. All should see that fire is as [R487 : page 8] much a figure as sheep and goats. The interest centres in verse 46. "These shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal." The words everlasting and eternal here are the same in the original, and are used to express the continuousness of both reward and punishment. The reward is life, and will continue forever; the punishment is what--torment? No, it does not mention here what the punishment is, except in the symbol fire, which represents destruction. Other scriptures inform us that "the wages of sin is death." "The soul that sinneth it shall die." This is everlasting destruction, or a destruction or death from which there shall be no resurrection. Thus, we see, the reward and punishment are opposites--life or death, and the trial being over, these conditions are endless or everlasting.
Again, Rev. 14:10,11 is a cause of stumbling. In the study of Revelation we should always bear in mind that it is a book of symbols. The "things which were shortly to come to pass" were signified unto John. A red light on a railroad is not in its self dangerous, but it is the signal of danger, and so of the signals in Revelation. The smoke and noise, the fire and water, etc., are not dangers but indicators. In the passage under consideration fire and brimstone signify destruction. It is no secret that the fumes of brimstone are destructive to life. It is frequently used as a disinfectant. The mention of it here, in connection with fire, is positive proof of utter destruction.
But "the smoke of their torment ascendeth forever." Anything annoying is tormenting. Individuals, with a desire to cling to the "traditions of the elders," are to-day annoyed by unfolding truth, and the same is true of all systems of religion. The confusion already existing in and among these systems and individuals, because of their departure from truth, is well symbolized by smoke which will become more and more dense. All those who are finally brought out of these systems will forever remember how they (the systems-- "Beast," etc.) were tormented.
The parable of the rich man and Lazarus, recorded in Luke 15, may be thought by some to have a bearing upon this subject. Our Lord spake in parables, "that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand." Had they understood them his design would have been frustrated. If a literal interpretation were allowed it would not have been difficult for those who heard to understand, and Christ would have had no occasion to explain even the few that he did.
The general view of this parable breathes so much of the spirit of his satanic majesty that we would marvel at its almost universal acceptation, were it not for the fact that he who was a liar from the beginning remains so to this day, and seeks above all things to deceive the very elect. We think the proper view of this parable is that found in "Food," page 154, to which we refer any who may desire information. The above selections are probably the strongest cited in defense of this doctrine of eternal torment. Others there are, of similar import, to which the foregoing can be applied.
J. F. SMITH.
THE MOSLEM UPRISING.
A telegram from London says: "The report of the capture of El Obeid excites uneasiness here. The fall of that post will probably be followed by an attack on Khartoum, and as the Egyptian government has neither money nor men for carrying hostilities on a large scale in the Soudan, it is feared that England may find herself drawn into an expedition to save Southern Egypt from being overrun."
The Editor of the Boston Herald, in commenting upon the news, says: "There is good reason for apprehension. If El Obeid has really fallen, the false prophet is master of the province of Kordofan. Only a few days back the capture of Bara by his forces was reported. The surrender of Bara and El Obeid is a heavy blow to Egypt, for the garrisons of the two posts numbered 5,000 men. Nor is that the worst of the situation. There is another Egyptian force, some 4,000 strong, in Darfur, to the west of Kordofan and, as the victorious army of the false prophet commands the communications between Darfur and Khartoum, it appears probable that this body will also be compelled to surrender. In that event the Egyptians may count upon having to fight, not for the reconquest of Kordofan, but for the maintenance of the Soudan."
Why does this news produce a sensation in London? Because the English government has undertaken to support the feeble and bankrupt government of Egypt; and if the Egyptian forces in Upper Egypt are not able to stop the onward march of the false prophet in Soudan, it is perfectly evident that he intends to march his army into Lower Egypt, where it is known that a large majority of the people are Moslems and would be ready under favorable circumstances to join the prophet's forces and fight the English as infidel invaders of their country. But this is not the most alarming feature of the subject to England. She understands that, if her army is brought into collision with the army of the false prophet, all the Moslem world will be excited to mortal revenge; for it would be considered a direct war between the Mohammedans and Christians.
Such a conflict coming at this particular time, when all the Moslem nations, according to their accredited prophecy, are looking for just such a war, could not, we think, fail to produce more religious antagonism than any which has been experienced for a thousand years. It would doubtless produce a formidable uprising in India, and would so involve Turkey as to cause the Christian nations of Europe to strike for a partition and final settlement of the "sick man's" estates.
The present position of all the Great Powers is certainly very ominous, and indicative of a rapid progress towards a final collapse, when Christ will appear on the scene to grind into powder human kingdoms and establish his glorious eternal kingdom under the whole heaven. This is heart-cheering news to all the followers of the adorable Jesus. Our heart cries out Come, blessed Saviour! Come and stop this cruel strife! Come and gather thy lambs to thy bosom, and let thy Bride stand at thy side in thy heavenly palace!
The entire Roman Catholic world has been taught that the present period is the time especially designed by God for that Church to crush all obstacles to its triumph and full restitution of the Papal prerogatives. The Russian nation and entire Greek Church also have been in high expectation since the predictions of Peter the Great, that about the present time the Russian sword will drive the Grand Turk from St. Sophia, and give the Greek High Priest once more the opportunity to celebrate mass at the ancient Christian altar.
It is no secret that the Republicans of all nations believe that the present period is the fore-ordained time for monarchical governments to give place to universal republics. Communists declare that the set time has come for all governments, civil and religious, to fall before the imperious demands of Communism.
The Protestant pulpit and press publishes the tidings that the prophetic time has come for the evangelization of the nations and the commencement of a "golden age." The Atheistical world adds its testimony to the universal proclamation that this is a specific transition period, during which the Bible and religion must cease to be, and the godship of nature and man must henceforth rule the universe.
Amidst these varied expectations of coming change the Hebrew proclaims the present time as the period for the appearing of his Messiah.
Among the loud voices of this jargon surpassing Babel, a shrill voice is heard from the Arabian deserts and African wilds, from the Turk's dominions and the vast fields of India, sounding a fearfully prophetic note, commanding the millions of Islam to rally to the standard of their coming prophet, who, according to their faith, will appear at the head of a conquering army the present calendar year. This announcement is produced by an interpretation of a prediction of the Koran, and contains no divine authority, and is unimportant only as it is believed by a hundred and seventy-five millions of Mohammedans. This faith is certainly likely, and has already commenced to produce a formidable movement, which certainly is very threatening to the peace of the world.--Prophetic Times.
The latest news from Mehdi is that he has been defeated in battle and is a prisoner.
THE BATTLE HOT.
The warfare between good and evil waxes intense. Right and wrong are struggling for the mastery. Every individual child of God is beset with countless snares and dangers. Temptations and lusts surround them on every side, and--"The meanest foe of all the trainAnd yet we need not despair. The Captain of our salvation is able to deliver us, for he himself has met and vanquished every foe. In him we are safe, under him we shall be victorious. He maketh us always to triumph in him. He subdueth our enemies under us. "Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ." Without him we shall surely die, but trusting him we shall never perish, and no one can pluck us out of our Father's hand.
Has thousands and ten thousands slain."
"Fear not, brethren, joyful stand
On the borders of your land.
Jesus Christ, our Father's Son,
Bids us undismayed go on."
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