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VOL. V. PITTSBURGH, PA., OCTOBER, 1883. NO. 3.
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
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C. T. RUSSELL, Editor and Publisher.
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DARKNESS COVERS THE EARTH.
"Behold the darkness shall cover the earth and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles (heathen) shall come to thy light."--Isa. 60:2.
DIAGRAM Exhibiting the Actual and Relative Numbers of Mankind Classified According to Religion
The above diagram is powerfully suggestive of the statement of the prophet: "Darkness shall cover the earth." It was published here by the "WOMEN'S PRESBYTERIAN BOARD OF MISSIONS" and is termed "A Mute Appeal" on behalf of foreign missions, and was first issued by the "LONDON MISSIONARY SOCIETY."
Each square of this diagram represents ten hundred thousand human beings. The lights, shades and blackness tell of the darkness and blindness which has overspread the earth, while sin and evil have ruled mankind, and cause us to look longingly for the bright Millennial Day when the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings, causing the knowledge of the Lord to fill the whole earth and to bless all mankind.
The Watchman--the "Y.M.C.A." journal of Chicago--published this same diagram, and commenting on it, says: "The ideas of some are very misty and indefinite in regard to the world's spiritual condition. We hear of glorious revival work at home and abroad, of fresh missionary efforts in various directions, of one country after another opening to the gospel, and of large sums being devoted to its spread; and we get the idea that adequate efforts are being made for the evangelization of the nations of the earth. It is estimated to-day that the world's population is 1,424,000,000, and by studying the diagram we will see that considerably more than one-half--nearly two-thirds--are still total heathen, and the remainder are mostly either followers of Mohammed or members of those great apostate churches whose religion is practically a Christianized idolatry, and who can scarcely be said to hold or teach the gospel of Christ. Even as to the 116 millions of nominal Protestants, we must remember how large a proportion in Germany, England and this country have lapsed into infidelity--a darkness, if possible, deeper even than that of heathenism, and how many are blinded by superstition or buried in extreme ignorance. So that while eight millions of Jews still reject Jesus of Nazareth, and while more than 300 millions who hear His name have apostatized from His faith, 170 millions more bow before Mahomet; and the vast remainder of mankind are to this day worshipers of stocks and stones, of their own ancestors, of dead heroes, or of the devil himself; all in one way or other worshiping and serving the creature instead of the Creator, who is God over all, blessed forever. Is there not enough here to sadden the heart of thoughtful Christians?"
Some might suppose at first that the view is too dark and rather overdrawn, but we think the reverse of this. It shows nominal Christianity in the brightest colors possible. For instance, the 116,000,000 put down as Protestant is far in excess of the true number. Sixteen millions would be fully sufficient, we believe, to include every professing church member, and ONE MILLION would, we fear, be far too liberal an estimate for the "sanctified in Christ Jesus," who "walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit."
It is, indeed, a sorrowful picture of ignorance and darkness and sin from any standpoint; but, viewed from the so-called "ORTHODOX" standpoint, it is truly
AN AWFUL PICTURE.
If we hold "Orthodoxy" to its own creeds, it believes that all of these billions of humanity, ignorant of the only name under heaven by which we must be saved, are on the straight road to everlasting torment. And not only so, but all of those 116,000,000 Protestants, except the very few saints, are sure of the same fate. No wonder, then, that those who believe such awful things of Jehovah's plans and purposes should be zealous in forwarding missionary enterprises--the wonder is that they are not frenzied by it. If we believed such things it would rob life of every pleasure and shroud in gloom every bright prospect of nature.
That we have not misstated "Orthodoxy" on the subject of the fate of the heathen, we quote from their pamphlet --"A mute appeal on behalf of Foreign Missions"--in which the diagram was published. Its concluding sentence is: "Evangelize the mighty generations abroad--the ONE THOUSAND MILLION SOULS who are dying in CHRISTLESS DESPAIR at the rate of 100,000 a day." The peculiarity is that a denomination which in its creed declares its faith to be, that God did from all eternity predestinate some to knowledge and salvation, and all others to ignorance and damnation, should so disregard their "old landmarks" and prejudices as to attempt to change the arrangement which they declare was predestinated.
But, really, we rejoice at this as an evidence that creeds of the darker centuries are losing their power over thinking people of every sect. We are glad, too, that their hearts are better than their creeds, and that they are superior to their estimate of God; for while they think that God looks calmly and unmoved upon this mass of humanity going down to hell at the rate of 100,000 a day, and never exercising His power to give them the needed knowledge, they are superior in that they are moved to pity and to benevolent action by the sight.
The great difficulty with "Orthodoxy" is, that they fail to recognize plan and method in God's word and dealings. Such will, perhaps, gather from our foregoing criticism, that we have no care for, nor interest in the heathen; but we can most heartily assure them that this is not the case. The reason why they would thus judge us, would be the same if they applied their judgment to the actions and teachings of Jesus. He went not to the Gentiles (heathen), and commanded the disciples likewise. (Matt. 10:5.) He did not cry aloud nor "lift up his voice in the streets," shouting to and exhorting sinners or heathens to beware of eternal torture; neither did any of the apostles.
In his preaching, Jesus said of some, "No man can come unto me except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him." (John 6:44.) The disciples he [R536 : page 1] taught specially, saying, "Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, but, unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables, that seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand, lest at any time [R536 : page 2] they should be converted." (Mark 4:11,12.) But when we
RECOGNIZE THE PLAN AND ORDERrevealed in God's word all is clear, beautiful, reasonable and harmonious.
We claim that, as Jesus said, the Gospel in this age is a WITNESS to the world and not designed to now convert all. All must agree with us that if God intended it to be a converting power to the world in this age, his plans have most signally failed, as the above diagram proves. But let us take God's plan as he presents it, viz: to elect or select a church--a "little flock"--who shall be taught, tried, tested, polished and made ready for his service in an age to follow this; when through this spiritual seed of Abraham, all the families of the earth shall be blessed and enlightened. (Gal. 3:29.)
How strange it does seem that these dear Christian brethren and sisters who issue the "MUTE APPEAL," and others who seem so zealous and anxious for the salvation of men and the spread of the knowledge of the "only name" as a means to that end, should feel such an opposition to the teaching of the Apostles concerning the coming TIMES OF RESTITUTION of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets.
Can they not see that God's missionary enterprise is much grander and more comprehensive than theirs? Theirs, even if their prayers and desires were to be answered this very year, by the conversion of every living being on earth to the love and service of our Lord; this surely would not answer the cravings of sympathizing, loving hearts, and they would still pray: O, Lord, extend thy mercy and thy love to those in everlasting torment; and they would plead that those billions of the dead far outnumbered the millions of the living.
How strange that they will not allow the Lord to tell them of HIS WAY of carrying on mission work, and how much comfort and peace they lose, and how many burdens they bear, because they have no ear to hear when He speaks through his word.
God's plan is to first select a "Royal Priesthood" during this age and have that priesthood teach and rule and bless the world in the next age.
Now we are just at the threshold of the age of glory. The midnight shadows of the diagram are just beginning to flee before the "Sun of Righteousness," and the printing and scattering of millions of Bibles in the past 87 years is one means toward the great work. In a word, then, these dear friends stand at our side in hope of the spread of truth, the great difference being that they expect to do it in their present weak, humble, mortal condition; and we expect to be glorified and clothed upon with heavenly form and power, as a means to the desired end.
One of the great stumbling blocks which hinders "Orthodoxy's" reception of God's grand missionary plan, of a special age in which the world (including those in their graves) will be taught and blessed by the knowledge and merit of the ransom, is their false idea of what constitutes DEATH. They have accepted Satan's first lie, "Thou shalt not surely die," instead of God's statement that men do die; hence they do all in their power to convince themselves that Satan was the truth-teller, and will not believe that when men die they lose life. They will not believe the Scriptural testimony. (Rom. 6:23; Eccl. 9:10; Psa. 6:5; Job 14: specially vs. 1,10 and 21; 2 Tim. 4:8.) Hence they are forced by their adherence to Satan's theory, to claim that when men die they go to a place of woe or happiness and continue really to live, though they admit they seemed to die.
If they would take God's word simply and lay aside traditions, they would see that all men go to ("sheol," "hades") the condition of death, and that the power is with God to bring them to life again, to bring them up out of their GRAVES. (Ezek. 37:12.) Then they would see the reasonableness of death as the penalty of sin and of the RANSOM from it, by the death of our Redeemer, who substituted his life for ours and died the just for the unjust. Thus he bought for all the right to a return to life (resurrection--restitution) when at the hands of the Royal Priesthood it shall be testified to every man that Christ died for ALL. (1 Tim. 2:6.)
While God has foretold the gross darkness now covering the world, let none overlook the fact that he also foretells by the same prophet that when the government shall be upon the shoulders of Him called "Wonderful," the rod of the oppressor (Satan) shall be broken, and the people who walked in darkness shall see a GREAT LIGHT. (Isa. 9:2,4,6.)
By the same prophet the Lord again says of Christ (head and body), "I will preserve thee and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish (order, rule) the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; that thou mayest say to the prisoners (in death--in hades) Go forth; to them that are in darkness, show yourselves." (Come to the light--the truth.) (Isa. 49:8,9.)
Soon it shall be manifested that not in name only, but in deed and in truth, Jesus is "the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." (John 1:9.) "And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the Book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness. The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord." (Isa. 29:18.) Surely we are now entering "that day," and for it thank God.
The article in a back issue of the TOWER (Vol. 4, No. 4), entitled "The Ecclesia," furnishes our understanding of what constitutes the Church of Christ and the spirit of love and truth which binds and unites the saints of all ages. But we have inquiries from a number of ministers and others who are coming back from sectarianism to the original and only true church which includes all SANCTIFIED believers in the ransom, asking whether we recognize local organizations such as the Apostles established in every city (Titus 1:5), having elders and deacons, etc.; and if we do not have such, Why? Is such organization not as proper now as in the Apostles' days? And if there are no such organizations, how is the work of the ministry and teaching conducted successfully?
We reply, that the circumstances now differ from those of the Apostles' day in that their work was more to organize and lay the foundation for an age of work just beginning, while our work is the reverse almost of this; it is the ending or harvesting of this age; and the methods of then and now might be as different as are the methods of a farmer and the implements he uses in sowing seed and in reaping his harvest.
The methods of Jesus, in harvesting the Jewish age, furnish a better guide to present work. It is with us much as it was with him: His mission was not to bring peace but a sword--division (Matt. 10:34.) In some respects, dividing and tearing down are not as agreeable employment as building up; but if we are anxious to do the Master's will we have no other wish, and especially if he has shown us the necessity of the separation in order to the glorifying of the saints and the bringing in through them of an age of blessing to the world in general. Seeing this, harvesting becomes the most enjoyable work in the vineyard.
For the same reasons that Jesus did not organize congregations while present with his disciples in the Jewish harvest, we do not consider expedient or necessary organizations even simple and unsectarian as those established by the Apostles. Our Lord is again present, not again in the "form of a servant," in the flesh, but a spiritual being; and he, being present, is in all things the guide and director of every laborer.
But, though no earthly organization is attempted, yet we are as one--all united to the one head and following the leadings of his Word and Spirit. If we see any among us turn aside and "err from the truth," each other member will feel a loving duty to do what he can to restore such a one to the truth; yet we feel that the further responsibility of disciplining, etc., is with our present Lord, who also will do it. We labor to do his will and leave results to him.
Our ministers, if assembled, would contrast nearly as strongly with those of the nominal "church" as did Jesus' followers at the first advent contrast with the Scribes and Pharisees.
The ministers of the nominal Church seek for and receive the popular approval; and for their labor they have their reward, being abundantly supported and honored. In fact, a young man of talent finds no easier or more direct road to the honors, ease and comforts of life than to enter the ministry of the Nominal Church. But far different is it with those who, for the love of the truth and the glory of God, go forth to declare the whole counsel of God whether men will hear or forbear. These are by no means salaried lords of God's heritage, but, like their Master, they are despised and rejected of men; but they esteem it a privilege to receive the wages of persecution, hardship, and trial of the present time, while joyfully looking forward to the glory to be revealed. They use whatever talents they possess to the best advantage, whether they be many or few. [R537 : page 2] Some, through the columns of the "TOWER," are stirring up the gift that is in them; and some, who have the opportunity, travel from place to place preaching by word and printed matter, while others, whose field is not so wide, are thus engaged in their own immediate neighborhood. Few can give all their time directly in the Gospel work: the mass of them, in order to "provide things honest in the sight of all men," are obliged to "labor, working with their hands."
The majority of these ministers [servants] of Christ do their work by searching out the "saints," for whom present truths are meat in due season, and by conversation on these subjects and the loaning of a paper containing some article which they have marked, they endeavor to build them up in the most holy faith, helping them to understand the word of God more perfectly, as did Aquilla and Priscilla with Apollos (Acts 18:26), and each doing with his might what his hand finds to do, using whatever talents he possesses, seeks thus to glorify God in body and spirit which are his. It is the mistake of very many Christians, however, and one which all should guard against, to suppose that they are serving the Lord's cause when they are indiscriminately distributing anything which claims to be a religious tract or paper. The careful servant will be judicious and discriminating in this and in everything he undertakes. Such are the simple methods of the majority, and their work, under God's direction, is mighty in the pulling down of strongholds. Here a little and there a little, Babylon and her wall of errors is crumbling before the truth. Another question in connection with this subject is:
WHAT CONSTITUTES "A CALL TO THE MINISTRY?"
All who consecrate are led of the Spirit (if they will follow) into more and more of an appreciation of God's goodness and loving plans; and as they become filled with the spirit of love and see those about them needing the precious truth which they so freely received of God, and which so blessed and helped them, they realize that this very condition of things is a call from God to declare it to them, using their best talents in their heart-work, and letting their light so shine as to glorify their Father in heaven.
The Master is saying even now to every consecrated one: Go ye also into my vineyard--why stand ye idle? Reading matter for judicious use we will supply free. Sample copies of the TOWER will be sent free to those you think might be interested if you send us their addresses. We consider this one of the means in our hands for spreading the good news.
WHERE DID MOSES GET THAT LAW?
An infidel, wishing to examine into the truth of the Christian religion, inquired of an elder of the Presbyterian church as follows: "What books, sir, would you advise me to read?" "The Bible," said the elder. "I believe you do not understand me," resumed the unbeliever, surprised in his turn; "I wish to investigate the truth of the Bible." "I would advise you, sir," repeated the elder, "to read the Bible; and," he continued, "I will give you my reasons: Most infidels are very ignorant of the Scriptures. Now, to reason on any subject with correctness, we must understand what it is, about which we reason. In the next place, I consider the internal evidence of the truth of the Scriptures stronger than the external." "And where shall I begin?" inquired the unbeliever, "at the New Testament?" "No," said the elder, "at the beginning--at Genesis."
One evening the elder called and found the unbeliever at his house or office, walking the room, with a dejected look, his mind apparently absorbed in thought. He continued, not noticing that any one had come in, busily to trace and retrace his steps. The elder at length spoke: "You seem, sir," said he, "to be in a brown study; of what are you thinking?" "I have been reading," replied the infidel, "the moral law." "Well, what do you think of it?" asked the elder. "I will tell you what I used to think," answered the infidel. "I supposed that Moses was the leader of a horde of banditti; that, having a strong mind, he acquired great influence over a superstitious people; and that on Mount Sinai he played off some sort of fireworks, to the amazement of his ignorant followers, who imagined, in their mingled fear and superstition, that the exhibition was supernatural." "But what do you think now?" interposed the elder. "I have been looking," said the infidel, "into the nature of that law. I have been trying to see whether I can add anything to it, or take anything from it, so as to make it better. Sir, I cannot. It is perfect."
"I have been thinking," he proceeded "where did Moses get that law? I have read history; the Egyptians and the adjacent nations were idolaters; so were the Greeks and Romans; and the wisest and best Greeks or Romans never gave a code of morals like this. Where did Moses get this law, which surpasses the wisdom and philosophy of the most enlightened ages? He lived at a period comparatively barbarous; but he has given a law in which the learning and sagacity of all subsequent time can detect no flaw. Where did he get it? He could not have soared so far above his age as to have devised it himself. I am satisfied where he obtained it. It came down from Heaven. I am convinced of the truth of the religion of the Bible."--Selected.
IMMOVABLE FOR CHRIST.
The old Lollards were called "Holdfasts," not only because of their firmness under persecution, but of their strong grasp of the truth. Coleridge said, with a practical aptness unusual with him: "What does not withstand has no standing-ground." "Hold fast, then, the form of sound words, in faith and love, which is in Christ Jesus." Be modest, unostentatious in all that is your own, willing to concede everything you have a right to yield, but be scrupulous and immovable about all that is Christ's.--Selected.
SINCE three cent stamps are less useful than formerly, if you have more on hand than you know how to use otherwise, we will accept such during this month in payment of subscriptions.
HOW TO LIVE.He liveth long who liveth well!
All other life is short and vain;
He liveth longest, who can tell
Of living most for heavenly gain.
He liveth long who liveth well!
All else is being thrown away;
He liveth longest who can tell
Of true things truly done each day.
Waste not thy being; back to Him
Who freely gave it, freely give;
Else is that being but a dream:
'Tis but to be, and not to live.
Be what thou seemest! live thy creed!
Hold up to earth the torch divine;
Be what thou prayest to be made,
Let the great Master's steps be thine.
Fill up each hour with what will last;
Buy up the moments as they go;
The life above, when this is past,
Is the ripe food of life below.
Sow truth, if thou the truth wouldst reap;
Sow peace, and reap its harvest bright;
Erect and sound thy conscience keep;
From hollow words and deeds refrain.
Sow love, and taste its fruitage pure;
Sow peace, and reap its harvests bright;
Sow sunbeams on the rock and moor,
And reap a harvest home of light.
Webster defines sect to mean "A part cut off," "Hence a body of persons who have separated from others by virtue of some special doctrine, or set of doctrines, which they hold in common."
Since we hold to a set of doctrines delivered to the saints by Jesus and the Apostles, and since we separate and cut ourselves off from all other religious jurisdiction and control, therefore it follows that we are a SECT. We "separate from sinners" and "have no [R538 : page 3] fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness." (Eph. 5:11; 2 Cor. 6:17). Because there is no concord between Christ and Satan, nor between a believer in Christ and an unbeliever in his ransom and Lordship, therefore we obey the Lord's command, "Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." (2 Cor. 6:17,18).
In doctrine we hold firmly to the glad tidings preached by Jesus and explained by the Apostles, and will receive none other, even though it should be delivered by an angel from heaven. It is briefly stated by Paul thus: "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). This is the basis; and built upon it, is our realization that we are justified and cleansed from all sin in God's sight, by his offering or sin-sacrifice who "died the just for the unjust." Realizing this, "we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins." (Eph. 1:7). All who accept of their share in this atoning sacrifice are properly termed Christians.
This was the faith of the early church. True, they progressed beyond these first principles to the use of the "strong meat," and to a comprehension, with all saints, of the deep things of God; but the "babes in Christ," and those "who, by reason of use, had their senses exercised," were all one family--"all one in Christ Jesus." The more advanced in grace and doctrine bore the infirmities of the weak, each and all seeking to grow in grace and knowledge more and more. Where this apostolic rule was observed there could be no sect, no division in the body. It was only when error began to develop in the congregations that Paul wrote to some: I hear that there are divisions (sects) among you, and I partly believe it; for it is evident from what I learn of the worldliness and error coming in among you, that there would of necessity be divisions; for those true to the Lord could not have fellowship with such unfruitful works of darkness, but must rather reprove them. (1 Cor. 11:18,19).
But while divisions were objected to in the true church, while all the apostles taught that there was one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one body-- church of Christ--yet this church was a sect itself--a split off from the Jewish church--which was cast off and left desolate, and it was also separated from the world. It was "the sect everywhere spoken against." (Acts 28:22). Thus, we see, that Christians are a sect or separated class--separate from the world--separate from sinners--separate from all others, in that they accept of Jesus, and salvation through his blood. But there should be no schism or division of this sect; all who are of it should be one. There is one fold and one Shepherd. (1 Cor. 12:25).
It is not remarkable that Satan should seek to divide and separate the sheep and to put up fences, such as the denominational creeds prove to be, which would hinder some of the sheep from following the Shepherd into green pastures of fresh and living truth. This would be but wisdom on his part. But it is strange that he should be able to fetter the reason of so many, that they should think it a mark of spirituality to say, I am of Luther, a Lutheran; I of Calvin and Knox, a Presbyterian; I of Wesley, a Methodist, and so on; while Paul, on the contrary, to some of his day, who were in danger of this spirit of sectarianism, said: While one saith, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Peter, are ye not carnal? Is it not in direct opposition to the spirit of Christ to think or act thus? "Is Christ divided?" Did Paul or Peter or Knox or Calvin or Wesley or anyone else than Christ die for your sins and redeem you? They, as servants of Christ and the church, should be esteemed very highly for their works' sake, but to name the Bride after any other than the Bridegroom is manifestly improper.
Oh, that all could see that in God's sight there is but one church--whose names are written in heaven--and that God cannot and does not sympathize with or recognize any split in the real church. He does not recognize the narrow creeds in which so many of the sheep are confined and starving. As we have shown, he has placed but one fence around his fold. Inside of it there is plenty of room, both for the lambs and the fully matured sheep of Christ, to feed and grow continually.
Fix in your mind a picture of a fine large pasture surrounded by a strong and high fence--the Law of God-- which surrounds and keeps all the sheep within, but which recognizes no means of access to that fold--justified condition--except Christ, the door, faith in whose sacrifice for sin is the only way into the fold. All climbing into the fold by any other way are thieves and robbers. This is the pasture provided by the Good Shepherd for his sheep, for whom he once laid down his life. Into the true fold of Christ quite a flock of sheep have entered. They belong to the true Shepherd; but as we look before us at the grassy slopes, only a few sheep, a little flock indeed, seem to be enjoying the liberty of the fold--the liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free. Where are the others? We look and see inside the door, on either side of the pathway, small enclosures. Over each is written its peculiar name--Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Second Adventist, Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, Episcopalian, Lutheran, etc. Looking at these pens we find them to differ. Some are built like prisons with iron frames and bars and chains, others less strong, and some are merely marked out "dead lines" over which the sheep understand that they must not go.
These pens are full of sheep, but they are weak, delicate and sickly for lack of proper exercise and fresh, nourishing food. They are regularly fed, but only upon husks, with occasionally a little milk, but they eat without relish and get no good from it. Many of them are leaner and poorer than when first they entered the fold, and some have become blind. Strange to say all seem to be perfectly satisfied, each with his own pen, and very seldom does one attempt to escape.
Perplexed to know why these should thus submit to be penned, we watched to see how they were induced to enter the various enclosures. As the sheep entered by faith the fold of Christ through the only door, under-shepherds who had been appointed to help the sheep to find and appreciate the pastures of the entire fold, had conceived that they knew better than the Chief Shepherd how to manage the flock, and accordingly they had constructed these various pens. Each class stood at the door of his own, and as the new sheep came in, they tried to impress upon each, both by manner and voice, first of all the necessity of getting into some of the many pens; and secondly, each one tried to show the superiority of the one he represented. As a consequence, nearly all the sheep which entered got penned, and only a few passed on to enjoy all the liberty of the fold. The under-shepherds sought continually to impress upon their sheep that the free sheep were heretics and en route to destruction.
We watched to see what would be the end of this matter, for we learned that the Chief Shepherd was expected by some, and we knew that his coming would soon demonstrate whether he approved of this dividing and imprisoning His flock. The under-shepherds mostly claimed that he would not come for a long time yet.
Presently among the free sheep we heard great rejoicing. We looked and found that the Chief-shepherd had come quietly, unobservedly ("as a thief"), and was now recognized by some of the sheep, and hence the rejoicing. Some of those imprisoned heard the Shepherd's voice; they looked and listened, yet could scarce believe. It was indeed, the voice of the shepherd as he tended and ordered his flock. All who were his true sheep seemed to hear his voice condemning the penning process and saying unto his sheep: "Come out, my people."
Some leaped the fences and gained liberty and food from the Shepherd's hand. But some were so weak and faint for lack of nourishment that they trembled with fear and dreaded the under-shepherds too much to come out. We noticed outside the fences that some of the free sheep brought food to the bars, and thus some of the weak ones were strengthened and then came out. The under-shepherds, meanwhile, were alert with redoubled vigilance, and by varying policies sought to keep the control of their (?) flocks. Some denounced and scoffed at those without, and threatened the sheep within; and others redoubled the customary exercises, the "forms of godliness."
We waited to see the outcome, and saw the unfaithful under-shepherds bound and beaten with stripes, the prison pens all destroyed, and the fold used as designed --the flock one, its name one, and its head Christ Jesus.
"LEARN WHAT THIS MEANETH."
This injunction is just as pertinent now as it was when Jesus gave it, yet we cannot but think, according to our experience and observation, that if he were to make the same remark now to those who, "after the most straitest sect" of their religion, live Pharisees, it would be met by some such words as the following: "Why, Lord, do you ask us to learn the meaning of those old sayings of the prophets? They are expressed in language that is highly figurative and are so full of symbols [R539 : page 3] and metaphors that it is impossible for us to understand them; indeed we think we ought not to pry into such things."
But this was an important lesson, and Jesus wished to call their attention to it. His friendship with publicans and sinners seemed to them to be out of order and so they were questioning the disciples, doubtfully, regarding it, and this called forth the statement of Jesus quoted above.
It is doubtful if they ever learned that God's work in Christ was not to sacrifice the world, but to save it, for, says Jesus, "The Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." (Luke 9:56). When Christ Jesus speaks we may see at the time but one phase of what is meant, while he causes the word spoken to span the everlasting relations of the subject.
When Jesus, in Matt. 12:7, referred to these same words of the prophet (Hosea 6:6), he did so in connection with the question of the observance of the Sabbath, saying, "If ye had known what this meaneth, I desire mercy and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless." This was equivalent to saying that they did not know its meaning. Then, rather peculiarly comes in the words, "For the Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath."
In both these cases it was the lovingkindness of Jesus that disturbed their pharisaical natures and called forth their opposition. It is the mercy of God in Christ toward the world that distressed the Pharisees of Jesus' time, and distresses the same generation now; for "this generation" of vipers (this kind or class) has not yet passed away and will not have passed away until all the prophecy of the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew is fulfilled. (Matt. 24:34).
Those who are not in spirit with Christ Jesus have ever been opposed to having mercy shown to the world in a limited way and time, professing to believe that Christ came to save the world, but yet that only a small proportion of them will be saved in any sense; that Jesus came to save men from the calamity which befel the race in Adam, but will only half, or not half, succeed.
They think that when men die in Adam they pass a line beyond which mercy and the power of Christ to save, cannot go, thus limiting the wisdom and the power of God, "who will have all men to be saved and come to the KNOWLEDGE of the truth." (1 Tim. 2:4).
It is "a thing incredible" with them that God should raise the dead, though they profess to believe in a "resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust," but still if one talks about the real resurrection of all men to actual life and hope again, "this generation," like their fathers who so beset Jesus, cry out in disgust, and act as though they thought of us as they did of Paul when he spoke of being sent "far hence unto the Gentiles," "away with such a fellow from the earth, for it is not fit that he should live." (Acts 22:22.)
How strange it seems to us, that the love of God so strikingly manifest in the gift of his Son, should be so buried up under papal rubbish as to make it seem to have no existence.
That the restitution of all things, spoken of by the mouth of all the holy prophets," should be entirely dropped out of the teaching of the nominal church, and the destruction of most things substituted, shows the need of their "learning what this meaneth, I desire mercy and not sacrifice: for the Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath." But it also shows, as Jesus said, that these things are hid from the wise and prudent and revealed unto babes. In the Sabbath just now approaching, that mercy will shine forth in "the exceeding riches of his grace." But many do not wish to "learn what this meaneth." How full of meaning were Jesus' words!
J. C. S.
Some whose attention is drawn to the clearer light now shining on the word of God, fear as they say, to leave old landmarks. This is a false veneration, bred of fear, and it requires only a moments reflection to show this.
We asked such an objector, recently, how much he meant by old. Did he mean creeds formulated fifty years ago? Would he go further back to the Wesleyan movement? Even that is but recent. Perhaps he had better go further back to the "Presbyterian" movement, or to the "Lutheran" or "Episcopalian," to find old landmarks. Still there is the same difficulty. All of these are but comparatively recent landmarks, and if a really old creed is wanted, the Roman Catholic certainly should have the preference on the score of age.
He saw, finally, his mistake and acknowledged [R539 : page 4] that he had been looking at matters from a false standpoint, and that the only OLD LANDMARKS worthy of confidence, are the inspired teachings of our Lord and the Apostles--the very ones to which we always appeal as the only True Standards of the Church whose names are written in heaven.
In this connection we take occasion to make some extracts from a recent number of "The Scotsman" (published in Edinburgh, Scotland,) in which it reviews a lecture by Dr. A. F. Mitchell, Prof. of Ecclesiastical History. It serves well to show how the thinkers of even old, slow Scotland are awakening to the absurdity of some of the doctrines which have separated the children of God into sects and denominations, and have largely succeeded in substituting the creeds and traditions of men for the Word of God. The extracts are as follows: "THE WESTMINSTER ASSEMBLY; ITS HISTORY AND STANDARDS: BEING THE BAIRD LECTURES FOR 1882.
Readers will find in Dr. Mitchell's lectures an intelligent and exceedingly well informed account of the origin, purpose, history and results of the famous Westminster Assembly, by one who has made a special study of the subject.
The intrinsic importance of the Westminster Confession, and its position as a test for our University Theological Chairs, cause us just now to turn with more interest and curiosity to its origin and authorship. In June, 1643, an ordinance was issued by Parliament calling that Assembly which met to settle a pure faith for England and framed those Standards which were adopted in Scotland. The principle on which representative divines were chosen was, that two should be elected from each English county, each University, and the Channel Islands, one for each county in Wales, and four for the city of London; while Scottish Commissioners were only invited to be present. In all, about 160 divines and laymen were appointed, each member who attended receiving four shillings a day for expenses. Although in the list of those called we find a few names of reputation for learning and ability, it is impossible to say that they represented the best scholarship and most cultured views of the age. We miss in the roll several men, famous still for ripe learning, high theological attainments and grasp of intellect, who would have been fittest to join in this memorable Synod, though they would have opposed many of its decisions; while in the number are a host of estimable but utterly obscure men, whose support gives no weight and adds no value to one dogmatic conclusion of the meeting.
It is evident that the orthodox see nothing absurd, nothing humorous in the opinions of these men being binding on after generations of clergy and all future theological Professors in our universities, centuries after these respectable gentlemen themselves, having quitted their fleshy tabernacles, have peradventure discovered, to their surprise, in another and better world, that they have been quite mistaken, and the General Assembly of the firstborn does not hold or enforce any Calvinistic creeds on its elect members. Even when they were deliberating on most weighty articles, the attendance was so small that the three committees were reduced to a quorum of six each; and we find in full Assembly only forty out of a hundred and fifty voting on a dogma, which has henceforth been imposed on the minds and consciences of millions of Presbyterians. Yet these worthy members confidently discover the hidden decrees of God and decide the fate of men, of angels, of devils and of infants: they interpret the most debatable parts of Scripture, and the most perplexing parts of Pauline dialects and simile; they formulate the most mysterious purposes of Providence.
It is marvelous to think that these decisions by men whose opinions on the simplest points of politics, agriculture and physics, we would not listen to, should be binding on the nineteenth century, though the whole tide of thought has left them dry behind. Criticism has shown that it supports conclusions on corrupt texts, and on misinterpreted passages. Science has proved that it makes assertions which are profoundly erroneous. Advancing civilizations and higher cultivation have shown that its views of the purpose of God can be contrary to the true humanity on which we base our elementary ideas of the nature of the Deity. If the Assembly, whose views were discarded by the English Church a few years after, had been held a hundred years earlier, it would have been Roman Catholic; if it had been held fifty years later it would have been Arminian; what, then, gives perpetual authority in Scotland to this Calvinistic parenthesis in ecclesiastical history and doctrine? It is difficult to see why the theological views of the seventeenth century should be taught in our university chairs any more than the scientific opinions of that age.
Suppose it had been laid down that every Professor of Medicine and Surgery [R540 : page 4] in future should conform to the standard of an association of doctors of 1643, we should find them now teaching the most ghastly methods of therapeutics, insisting on drugs which ruin the carnal constitution, and practicing phlebotomy, which drains the human being of his blood, increasing insanity by the means taken to cure it, and denouncing the circulation of the blood as a flagrant heresy. If, in our Chairs of science, the opinions of the Royal Society, founded in 1660, were still binding we should find in natural philosophy, in geology, in chemistry, opinions taught, as in Roman Catholic institutions, as purest science and undoubted facts, which research has exploded and sent long ago into the limbo of extinct notions and curiosities of by-gone credulity and ignorance. Why, then, should the notions, on far more difficult, obsolete points, by this Assembly, be held as sacred and imperative, and entitled to hold the minds of posterity under the fatal law of intellectual mortmain?
Still, must each Professor teach, under the yoke of their "dead hand," the inspiriting doctrine of total depravity, which holds that man is so corrupt that he can do no good thing, and yet that he will be damned if he does not do it; that he deserves eternal torments for sin; that millions are doomed for not accepting a gospel which they never heard; that it is the duty of the civil power to punish and extirpate heresy; that the world was made in six days, although the geological Professor in the same college will tell his students that the world was millions of years without a human being. That it is the "elect infants" only who are saved; that "God as a righteous judge doth blind and harden" the wicked. Such doctrines are denied by the vast majority of civilized people, and discarded by the highest, clearest minds and hearts in Christendom; yet still Professors of Theology are bound by these standards, are forced to shut their eyes and mouths to all that speculation, learning, science have taught for centuries, and are endowed by the State to teach the opinions of a few estimable but erroneous gentlemen, who, after much prayer and contention, agreed upon them more than two hundred years ago.
Dr. Mitchell, whose views are interesting only as specimens of other admirers of the Confession of Faith, is not unconscious of some difficulties in maintaining some dogmas which are contrary to fact, science and humanity; and he has his "answers to objections," which he gives with an air of profound satisfaction and with complete unsuccess. The Confession says the creation of the world took place in six days, "which now almost all orthodox divines grant it did not." We therefore naturally conclude that these "orthodox divines," as regards the Confession, are heretics. Not at all, says Dr. Mitchell, who is in the same case; these words, he argues, are almost identical with those in Scripture, and therefore must be interpreted in the same non-literal, non-natural sense, as divines conveniently, but uncritically, put on those in Genesis. Now, can the lecturer deny that the Westminster Assembly meant them as six literal twenty-four hour days? Can the lecturer deny that these words are given as the statement of an historical fact, and are not a quotation which may be accepted as metaphorical or poetic, if we please? It is nothing to the point to show that some writers--Dean Colet or Philo--had previously regarded the "days" in a figurative sense; and it is ridiculous to say that the Assembly showed their intention not to exclude such a fanciful interpretation because they did not write "six natural or literal days."
If we are allowed to treat the standards when we choose as metaphorical, on the ground that the Scripture passages they paraphrase are figurative, we shall be led into a delightful chaos, and have a most comprehensive Church. The phrase, "Son of God" is figurative; "redemption" is a Pauline metaphor from Greek law; "adoption" a metaphor from Roman law; "everlasting" and "eternal" punishment have been interpreted in various ways in Scripture; may we, therefore, explain them for ourselves with corresponding variety in the Confession? and if not, on Dr. Mitchell's theory, why not? What is allowed to the Calvinist may be allowed to the Universalist and the Unitarian.
But, in fact, the whole notion is absurd. The Standard is a formal, prosaic, legal document, to be interpreted by what it says. The lecturer, further, in argumentive despair maintains that when it is said, "elect infants dying in infancy are saved," it is not to be inferred from these words that there are any who are not elect! If so, we would have fancied these divines, so shrewd as not to say "literal days," would have been equally shrewd to omit "elect," in order to prevent a misconception, seeing that the opinion was so prevalent that there were infants non-elect, and therefore lost. Besides, this notion that all dying infants were humanely elected to life because they should die before they have power and time to sin, is contradictory of the article in the Confession, which says that when God elects to salvation it is without any foresight of good works,... or any other thing in the creature, as conditions or causes moving him thereto." We greatly fear that Dr. Mitchell should be looked after. If he had lived in the Puritan age, he would have been violently denounced as a heretic, denied Church privileges by the ministers he reveres so deeply, or put in jail by the civil magistrate whose authority he respects so highly, and reduced to be an "ambassador in bonds."
How is it that with so many disputable and denied doctrines in a Standard containing about 16,000 propositions, that in successive generations ministers accept and sign it without any hesitation, though ordinary men cannot agree together on twelve questions? It is a curious problem which we can only explain by supposing that perfect belief is required only when we swear to one or two articles, but that a reduction is allowed, as by grocers, on taking a quantity. Dr. Mitchell has issued a useful work, proving the urgent necessity for the abolition of tests in our Universities if we desire to see freedom of thought, honesty of assertion, and progress of religious opinion and theological knowledge.
The restoration of the world to their "former estate" (life on earth) is a doctrine held by few Christians to-day through lack of seeing the glorious "plan" of salvation" God has revealed to us in his word. When once you get hold of restitution as a starting-point, you will soon find that God has a "plan", and diligent study of Scripture will open your eyes to see God's love and wisdom, if you will only believe what God says, and not "human traditions." "Seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."
We read in Acts 3:21 of the times (years) of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. And in Rom. 8:21, "The creature itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." Yes; the man Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom for all (1 Tim. 2:6). By the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life" (Rom. 5:18). "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22.)
All praise be to God, Christ has bought the "world," and in due time will deliver them all from the prison-house of death, for he says, I have the keys of hades and of death (Rev. 1:18.) But every man in his own order: Christ (the first-born from the dead,) the Head, then his body--the Church--after the Church has been glorified--the "world"--to their "former estate." For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God (Rom. 8:19). Waiting and groaning (though ignorantly) for the Son of Righteousness to arise with healing in his wings. Then the promise to Abraham will be fulfilled: "In thee and in thy seed (The Christ) shall all the families of the earth be blessed." (Gen. 28:14.)
Let us look at what the Prophets say about this glorious day (one thousand years.) Please read carefully the following: Ps. 96:10-13; Isa. 11:1-10; 61:4-11; 65:17-25; Jer. 31:31-40; Ezek. 16:48 to end; 28:25 and 26; 34:24-31; Hos. 2:14-23; Rev. 21:3-5. After the world has been restored to their "former estate" under the righteous reign of "The Christ," it will be their "Judgment Day" (before the great "White Throne" of Truth), on trial for Eternal Life, having had a complete experience of good and evil in this present age, and then having full knowledge and power to obey. If they then willfully sin, they will die the second death--die for their own sin. (Jer. 31:30; Acts 3:23; Rev. 21:8.)
Truly we who see God's plan can sing, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of nations. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: For all nations shall come and worship before thee--for thy judgments are made manifest. Amen. Thy Kingdom come. (Rev. 15:3 and 4.)
HIS WILL, OUR MEAT AND DRINK.
The language of very many grateful hearts, who have realized their sins forgiven through the precious blood of Christ, has been, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. But very few, perhaps none at first, actually realized the full meaning of that covenant or promise; nevertheless the Master declares, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out." (John 6:37). But he would have us understand that it is no easy thing to follow him, for his was a thorny, difficult way, promising no gratification to the natural man.
When on one occasion one came to Jesus, saying, "Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest," he replied: "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." (Luke 9:57,58.) That is to say, Are you willing, if need be, to be thus homeless and comfortless that thereby you may render greater service to our heavenly Father. It is my meat and drink to do his will. Shall it be yours also? It might be and sometimes is the case, that some can serve the Lord better by having a home and using its hospitality in the service. When, as was generally the case, the work in which Jesus was engaged called him about from place to place to preach in public, heal the sick, etc., he went, regardless of personal comfort. When near the homes of his disciples he often tarried with them; thus the home of Martha and Mary and Lazarus was often blessed with his presence; but most frequently after the toil of the day he sought repose for the night in the wilderness or on the mountains. Sometimes, however, when the interests of the work required it, he chose a regular dwelling place, for we read (John 1:38,39) that on one occasion two men were following Jesus, and [R540 : page 5] he, turning and seeing them follow him, said to them, "What seek ye?" And they said unto him, Master, "Where dwellest thou?" They wanted to have a personal interview with him, and therefore sought the retirement of his dwelling. Jesus said unto them, "Come and see. They went and saw where he dwelt and abode with him that day."
We find the same principle governing the actions of the Apostles. As the work generally required them to be traveling, they not only gave up the comforts, but bravely endured the hardships, dangers and fierce persecutions that everywhere awaited them. At times now it might be expedient for the truths' sake that the disciple have a home, as Paul found it expedient for the work, to abide in his own hired house for two years, where he received all that came unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, etc. (Acts 28:30). It should likewise, be our meat and drink to do our Father's will, as the necessities of the work may require it, homeless and friendless, to follow Jesus; or, if expedient to have a dwelling place, to use it in his service, having it entirely consecrated to his work.
Another desiring to follow Jesus, even though, as he had just explained, it would be at the expense of great self-denial, said, "But suffer me first to go and bury my father." And "Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead, but go thou and preach the kingdom of God." Doubtless this young disciple dreaded to realize what was so generally the result with those who left all to follow Jesus, that their foes were they of their own household. He dreaded to incur his father's displeasure and [R541 : page 5] thought to wait till his father was dead. Possibly his otherwise praiseworthy ambition was to add to the comfort and perhaps to the support and luxury of his declining years.
Such an ambition would seem plausible and has proved a snare to many. They have permitted earthly ties to fetter and hinder them, saying, my family or my parents--those dear to me by human ties--shall have all the comfort, ease and luxury that my time and labor can supply. This has been my ambition in the past, and should I now withhold any part of that which they have come to expect at my hand, in order that I might follow the Master, my motive, my love would be misinterpreted.
Under this pressure, many come to the conclusion that they will wait until these hindrances are removed, until such no longer need their care; but this is only a device of the adversary, who well knows that procrastination is not only the thief of time, but also of interest and inclination to heavenly things. Now, while our Lord would not have us ignore our natural responsibilities, and teaches that he who does not provide for those naturally dependent upon him is worse than an infidel, an unbeliever, he does teach that our consecration should be to God, and whatever of human responsibility devolves upon us should be discharged as unto him.
Thus, in all we do, whether it be in "providing things honest in the sight of all men" for those of necessity depending upon us, and thus honoring our Master, and improving every available opportunity which, by economy of time and means, may be gained for spreading the good news--the Gospel of the Kingdom; or whether it be possible, by self-denial, to gain all our time, and utilize all our efforts in directly and widely proclaiming the Gospel, if we would follow our Lord it will be our meat and drink to do our Father's will. "Let the dead bury their dead." All the world is reckoned of God as dead, being still under condemnation. Let them attend to their own affairs, work out their own ideas and think what they will of our peculiar ways. We must expect to be misunderstood, misrepresented, and to bear the reproach of Christ. But don't let that hinder us; it is our business to preach the gospel by every talent and opportunity we can command.
"Another also said, Lord, I will follow thee, but let me first go and bid them farewell which are at home at my house. But Jesus said, No man having put his hand to the plough and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God." This one, though also desiring to follow Jesus, cast a lingering look behind to the things and friends once dearest. He thought he was willing to sacrifice earthly comforts and endure hardness as a good soldier; he did not desire to procrastinate and not begin to follow Jesus until his Father was dead, or the prejudices of his earthly friends were overcome. No; he only wanted to bid them farewell, to confer with them, and to gain their approval of his course. To follow Jesus was not yet the chief and all-absorbing thought.
Jesus does not say it will be impossible for such a one to reach the kingdom, but that in that condition of mind he is unfit. And the strong probabilities are, that unless such a one takes a prompt, firm and decided stand, turning his back entirely to present allurements, and setting his face resolutely towards the prize of the high calling, he will soon become permanently unfit for the kingdom.
May those who have consecrated all, and thus put their hand to the plough, be enabled to keep their eye on the heavenly prize, that its glory may keep them from looking back, and that the fascination of former human ties may not hold them in bondage. Like our Lord, may it be our meat and drink to do Jehovah's will.
MRS. C. T. R.
"SALVATION UNTO THE END OF THE EARTH."
Before leaving his disciples our Lord said, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth"...and will show you things to come;...he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you." (John 16:12-14.)
After his death and resurrection, when the waiting Church were baptized with the Spirit, at once the things which the prophets had written and which they had hitherto been unable to understand, began to be made plain to them.
Peter did the opening work and called attention to the glad tidings as shown by the Prophets. He first quoted the prophecy of Joel (chap. 2:28,29) concerning the promise of the outpouring of the Spirit upon God's servants and handmaids and upon all flesh. His next reference was to David's prophecy of our Lord's exaltation. And the Spirit calling to mind the glowing language of the various Prophets, he boldly proclaimed the restitution of all things, declaring that it was "spoken by all the holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:21).
This was the work of the Spirit as the comforter, bringing to their remembrance the statements of the prophets, and revealing the significance of those statements, thus instructing and comforting them by showing them things to come. We would naturally expect that joy would fill all hearts at the sound of such blessed tidings; but it was not so. The religious teachers of that day were grieved at this teaching and sought to silence them, but Peter and John, being filled with the Spirit, replied: "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye: for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard"--what we know of God's plan.
We find exactly the same condition of things to-day. While those who are filled with the Spirit rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, the lukewarm professors turn a deaf ear to the truth and are grieved that the people are being taught these things.
Since Peter has called our attention to all the prophets as heralds of the good news, we have been noticing particularly some of those uttered by Isaiah. Some will reluctantly admit that some time in the distant future there will be a restoration of Israel to their own land--that is, of all those living in that day; but for what purpose or advantage, either to themselves or [R542 : page 5] others, they seem to have no idea. But Isaiah makes it very plain that the great restitution refers to nothing so insignificant. In the following text Jehovah is addressing our Lord Jesus, saying, that to raise up or restore Israel is "a light thing," only a small part of the work. The restitution spoken by the mouth of all the prophets since the world began, means "salvation unto the end of the earth." "And now, said Jehovah, it hath been a light thing that thou art to me for a servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and the preserved of Israel to bring back; and I have given thee for a light of nations, to be my salvation unto the end of the earth" (Isa. 49:6-- Young).
This implies a resurrection--restitution --of all the living and dead ones as Peter preached. In the light of this declaration from the mouth of Jehovah himself--that Christ shall be for salvation to the end of the earth--we read in Isa. 35 the glowing description of that time, now near at hand, when "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them." "They (earth's redeemed millions) shall see the glory of the Lord and the excellency of our God," then made so manifest to all. In chap. 26, verse 19, God emphatically declares: "Thy dead men shall live...Awake and sing ye that dwell in dust...and the earth shall cast out the dead." And Jeremiah adds his testimony, saying: "They shall come again from the land of the enemy" --death (Jer. 31:16). Such tidings seem almost too good to believe, but the Lord reminds us that it is He who has declared this, saying: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts [plans] than your thoughts [plans]....For ye shall go out [of the prison of death] with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands" (Isa. 55:8-12).
Those whose faith staggers not at the promises of God, are commissioned to encourage those of weaker faith (Isa. 35:3,4): "Strengthen ye the weak hands and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold your God will come with vengeance (to bind the adversary--Satan--and destroy his works--Rev. 20:2; 1 John 3:8), even God with a recompence; he will come and save you." Verse 5: "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped," for "The knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth as the waters cover the sea" (Isa. 11:9), and all will be able to see and hear the truth. Streams of water (truth) shall break forth in the desert, "And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water. In the habitation of dragons where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes." When, under the reign of Christ, truth shall thus refresh the earth, error and vice (symbolized by dragons) shall give place to the rapid and healthy growth of virtue.
Verses 8 to 10 show the particularly favorable circumstances under which the world, during the next age, will be disciplined and restored. The way by which they will be led back to human perfection, is here called a high way, not a narrow way, such as that in which the consecrated of this age walk to gain the prize of the high calling to immortality, the Divine nature. We who are running for this prize find ourselves hedged about continually and sorely pressed by the adversary who, during the next age, will be bound. The easy and gradual ascent of the high way will be clear and plain to all, so that "the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein," for all the stones--stumbling blocks-- shall be gathered out (Isa. 62:10). Present temptations to evil will be removed when Satan is bound and men will be saying, Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths (Isa. 2:3).
The work of restitution will be a gradual work, the awakening from death being only the beginning of it; it will require the whole thousand years to fully complete it. Those years are therefore called "the times (years) of restitution" (Acts 3:21). Only those who flee from the defilements of sin shall go on this high way of everlasting continuance of life. Verse 9: "No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon; it shall not be found there." All obstacles to growth and development of perfect manhood shall be removed, but the redeemed --all mankind ransomed from death by the precious blood of Christ-- shall walk up to perfection if willing to forsake their sins.
Verse 10: "And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." When we realize that this salvation extends to all the families of the earth, we see the force of Jehovah's statement: "It hath been a light thing that thou art to me for a servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and the preserved of Israel to bring back." Not only shall that work be accomplished, but, in addition to that, Christ is also given for a light to all nations, and for "salvation to the end of the earth."
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.
A correspondent writes: I understand you teach obedience to the commandments of God. Do you wish us to understand the Ten Commandments written on stone, delivered to Moses at Horeb?
We reply, No; we are not under the law of commandments written on stone, in the sense of hoping to justify ourselves before God in keeping them. Israel's experience when they were put under that Law is sufficient to prove to us, as Paul expresses, that, "By the deeds of the Law shall no flesh be justified in God's sight." (Rom. 3:20.) Hence we are very glad that we are "not under the Law, but under Grace" --favor. (Rom. 6:14; 11:6; Gal. 5:4; Rom. 3:19-26.) We are glad that the Gentiles were never put under that Law as the Israelites were, for in man's present imperfect condition it must and does condemn every one under it and justifies none. We are glad for Israel too, that when Christ Jesus died and thus fulfilled the claims of the Law against all under it, that he thus became "the end of the Law for righteousness (or rightly terminated its dominion) to every one that believeth." (Rom. 10:4, and Gal. 3:23,24.)
But lest some should claim that these scriptures quoted, refer to what some designate the "ceremonial" law, we will give Scripture proof that it included the laws written on tables of stone--the Ten Commandments. These were given at Horeb or Mt. Sinai. (See Exod. 19:20 and 34) and are termed the "covenant" of the Law. (See Deut. 5.) Paul tells us that that covenant justified only Jesus, who, by his sacrifice, justified believers, bringing them under a new covenant, not of law, but of favor, by his blood, and, being thus justified, enables us [the Gospel Church] to inherit the first covenant--the one made to Abraham's seed--which Paul declares the Law (covenant), made four hundred and thirty years after (at Sinai), did not disannul, but merely hindered until removed and fulfilled by Jesus. (See Gal. 3:17-19.)
Romans 7:7 proves that the Ten Commandments were part of the Law, which Paul in the preceding verse and the entire chapter shows that we are delivered from. There can be no question that THE LAW which said, "Thou shalt not covet," is that contained in the Ten Commandments, and this is the very law which Christ made Paul free from--by fulfilling its claims for him. (See Rom. 8:1-4.)
"Do we then make the Law of God of none effect [useless] through [the doctrine of] faith, [which we are now preaching]? Nay, "we establish the Law." (Rom. 3:31.) First, we are proving that God's law is nothing short [R542 : page 6] of perfection, and that none but a perfect person could keep it, and that it was given to prove to Israel their imperfection, and thus as pedagogue to lead them to Christ, from whom to receive as a gift, by faith in his blood, that life and perfection which they found they could not claim or obtain under the LAW. (Gal. 3:24-29.)
Secondly, our Head Christ Jesus who made us free from that Law under which Israel was placed, gave us another instead, saying, "A new commandment I give unto you that ye LOVE one another." (John 13:34.) This law of LOVE under which we are placed, contains the spirit of the Law to Israel--the Ten Commandments, and even more. This, the Apostle James terms the "royal law." (Chap. 2:8.) And the same apostle who wrote that we are "delivered from the Law," (Rom. 7:6), and called it "Moses' Law," (Heb. 10:28), and that "Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to every one that believeth," (Rom. 10:4), and that now "we are not under the Law," (Rom. 6:15), said also that he was not without law to God, BUT UNDER THE LAW to Christ, (1 Cor. 9:21) [i.e., our responsibility is transferred from the Father to our Lord Jesus who bought us, hence we are no longer under Jehovah's Law given at Sinai, but under a new law or arrangement --"under Law TO CHRIST." Yet, since Christ is Jehovah's agent in making the new arrangement, and since his law is in harmony with and built on our Father's law, as a temporary help for us, until we are restored to perfection; therefore, we may say with Paul, that we are not without law to God, even though "the Father judgeth no man but hath committed all judgment unto the Son."] [R543 : page 6]
The Law under which we come through Christ differs from "Moses' Law" in this--that the latter judges men by the deeds of the flesh, while the former (Christ's Law) judges by the intents of the mind or will. Under Moses' law, all men being imperfect through Adamic sin, none could DO perfectly, however much they might desire; hence, by deeds, no flesh was ever justified by that Law--all were condemned. (Rom. 3:20.) But now, under the new law of love, we walk by spirit or mind after this new law. We may not always succeed perfectly in doing all which we wish or will to do, but under this law the will is judged and not the deed. Hence all believers consecrated to God can fulfill this "Royal law," even though the new mind is in an imperfect "earthen vessel."
And while thus excused from the letter of the law, all "believers"--united to and one with Jesus--have fulfilled it, i.e., so long as we in heart observe Jesus' law, so long we may abide in him; and abiding in him, we have share in the actual fulfillment of the LETTER OF THE LAW as accomplished by him. Thus the righteousness of the Law is fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.
It can readily be seen that two laws would be useless. And, since all in Christ are under the law of Love, they cannot also be under the Law of Moses. The law under which we are makes allowance for all the imperfections of each, whereas "Moses' Law" required actual obedience and made no allowance; for it does not read, he that willeth and trieth to do, but "The man that doeth these things shall live," and "cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the Law to DO them." (Gal. 3:10,12.)
Where LOVE is the law of the mind, it influences and, to a great extent, controls the imperfect and weak body. None thus actuated by love have any desire to violate the law of commandments. It is useless to say to such a one, "Thou shalt not steal"; "thou shalt not kill"; "thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." He has no desire to do those things, for love prompts to an opposite course. And if, through weakness of the flesh, such a one realizes that on some occasion he has failed to exemplify the law of love, no one is more grieved than himself.
But some man will say: What is there in the "Ten Commandments" which any one cannot keep perfectly? That you so regard them proves that you, like the Pharisees, look not at the full measure or spirit of those commandments. If we will take the Master's teaching on the subject, we find that these Ten Commandments demand absolute perfection of thought and deed for their fulfillment. Jesus summarized their teaching, saying: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment, and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law. (Matt. 22:37-40.) Now let us see, is this a hard commandment? Yea, verily; none but perfect men could keep it. To love God thus is to subject every other thing and interest to his pleasure. To love a neighbor thus would insure that you would neither kill him, nor steal from him, nor covet his goods. Besides, look at Jesus' definition of the sixth and seventh commandments. (Matt. 5:22,28.)
Viewed from this standpoint, we see why none of the Jews ever could keep the Law and why we need to get into Christ, in order that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us.
THE THIRD COMMANDMENT.
Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work: but the Seventh Day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God, in it thou shalt not do any work, etc. (Exod. 20:8-11.)
If this is a part of the Law whose control over us was removed by Jesus' death, and which never was given to the gospel church, but whose righteousness (or right-meaning) is fulfilled in us, then all may see that, to any recognizing the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, there can be no bondage to the observance of any day. And in harmony with this thought is Paul's statement that "one man esteemeth one day above another; another esteemeth every day alike: Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." (Rom. 14:5.) And if he shall make up his mind on this subject, from the foregoing statements of the Apostle relative to the Law, he will, doubtless, be persuaded with Paul and with us, that since Jesus has blotted out the handwriting of ordinances which was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way nailing it to his cross; therefore, henceforth, no man should judge us in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days, which are a shadow of things to come. Wherefore, if we are dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances? (Col. 2:14,16,17,20.) To those in Christ there is no law on the subject except that of LOVE. They may celebrate any or no day as their love to God and man, and their judgment of what would glorify God and bless men may direct.
The fact that the Law compelled a rest every seven days, and that mankind seemed to require it, is an excellent reason why such a day should be observed. And love to God and a desire to worship him and to commune with his children is one of the best reasons for observing such a day. As to which of the seven days should be the best to observe, the church very early in its history decided that the first day of the week would be very appropriate, since on it Jesus arose from the dead and met with them and caused their hearts to burn as he expounded unto them the Scriptures. (Luke 24:27,32.) Accordingly, we find that to meet on that day was very common among them, even before they came to appreciate fully their liberty, and while they still, to a great extent, observed the seventh day also. (Acts 2:1, Pentecost came on the first day of the week. Acts 20:7 and 1 Cor. 16:2.) Paul was the Lord's special agency in leading the other apostles and the Church in general into true liberty, and as he taught that every day was alike, so he practiced; and we find that sometimes he met with the Church on the first day, and sometimes went into the synagogues on the Sabbath, or seventh day.
The question of Sabbath-keeping, like that of circumcision, is one that depends on the spirit or intent of the observer. As Paul testified to those who practiced circumcision in his day, so we testify to Sabbath (or seventh day) keepers now, viz.: If they keep the seventh day or any other day as under "Moses's Law," and in hope of keeping that Law and gaining its promised blessings, they are fallen from grace, and at present Christ is profiting them nothing, for the Jew did just so before Christ came. (Gal. 5:2-4.)
We cannot gain life by keeping the Law, for none can keep it perfectly, and to keep the third commandment and to fail in any other point, deprives of life and condemns to death under the Law covenant just as surely as though the whole law were violated, for "whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." (James 2:10.) Hence that entire covenant was set aside on account of human imperfection, and the "new covenant," written and sealed with the blood of Christ, takes its place--the covenant which speaks of favor, life and peace through the righteousness of him who bought us with his own precious blood.
Let us remember that under the Law the seventh day was commanded for rest only, and Paul gives us the key when he declares that "WE WHICH HAVE BELIEVED do enter into REST"; for he who trusts in Jesus as his justifier RESTS from attempting to do the work for himself and accepts it as a finished work--a gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Those who thus rest in Jesus, do as God the Father did; for having created man, whose sin and fall he foresaw, Jehovah rested the entire matter in the hands of Christ to redeem men and destroy sin and death during the seventh day. (Seven thousand years from Adam till the end of the Millennium.) [See article "Creative Week" in back issue--of which we have no more on hand.] (Heb. 4:3-10.) Whosoever thus believes in Jesus, as the propitiation for his sins, has "joy and peace (rest) in believing" (Rom. 15:13)--a rest not transitory but permanent; not partial, but complete; not of one day, but of all, and which was well illustrated in the seventh day which typified it; for seven is the symbol of completeness. Since this REST is the gift of God's love, and since we enter it when we come under the "royal law," is it not, therefore, fulfilled in love? for love is the fulfilling of the Law--to all in Christ Jesus who appreciate their standing and walk as becometh saints. page 6 (Rom. 8:1.)
THE OBJECT OF OUR LORD'S RETURN.
DISCOURSE NO. 2.
We continue to-day our subject of last Sunday--"The object of our Lord's return." To briefly review: We found that past ages and the present Gospel age have been but steps which God is taking toward the conversion of the world; that although He has not sought directly to bring all men to a knowledge of Himself (which is essential to salvation) but has confined that knowledge to a small proportion of His creatures who were thus elect, or chosen; as for instance the patriarchs of early ages, fleshly Israel of the last or law dispensation, and until the present century to but a small number of earth's millions, even during this Gospel age. Yet, all of this was but a means toward the desired end-- "The reconciling of the world unto Himself."
We see that all God's promises center in this Church, now being selected; that she is now as "the body of Christ" filling up the measure of His sufferings, and that when all the members have been selected from the world, and have been "made perfect through suffering," the Church will be joined to Christ Jesus, "whom God gave to be head over the Church, which is His body," or, as expressed in another simile, the "chaste virgin," will be united to the heavenly Bridegroom, and they twain become one, and this one--the Christ complete --is to be the heir of all things.
This new creation (the Christ) we found to be the promised seed which is to "bruise the serpent's head"--crush and destroy evil. So we read, "The very God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet [under Jesus and his church] shortly. This same "seed of Abraham" (which seed is Christ) is the seed "in whom all the families of the earth shall be blessed." "And if ye be Christ's, then are YE Abraham's seed and heirs." (Gal. 3:29). We found that the end of this age does not close the Church's mission; that though now, while wheat and tares grow together until the harvest, the end of the world (age), her light shines but feebly, yet, when separated from the tares, and exalted with her Lord, then, with him she shall "shine forth as the Sun in the kingdom." This is the "Sun of Righteousness" which "shall arise with healing in his wings."
We glanced at the glory of that Millennial day, wherein "there shall be no more curse," and "the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth," scattering the darkness of sin and ignorance and causing "wars to cease unto the ends of the earth." These are the "times of restitution," of which Peter speaks (Acts 3:17,19), which are due to begin when Christ comes. "For this, the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God." (Rom. 8:22,19)
But let us leave this bright and pleasant picture of the coming day, of which, with the poet, we could say:"Haste thee along, ages of glory,and turning look at a dark picture. While it will be so favorable to those who may live in the "Millennial Age," what about those who have died before the plan of God has thus reached its fulness? During the 6,000 years since creation, there have lived on the earth about 143 billions of human beings. Of these the very broadest estimate that could be made with reason, would be that less than one billion were Saints of God. What of the 142 billions who died out of Christ--what is their condition?
Haste the glad time when Christ appears,"
The Atheist answers: They are eternally dead. There is no hereafter; they will never live again.
Calvinism answers: They were not elected to be saved. God foreordained and predestinated them to be lost, to go to hell, and they are there now, writhing in agony, where they will ever remain without hope.
Arminianism answers: We believe that God excuses them on account of ignorance, and that if they did the best they knew how, they are as sure of being a part of the "church of the first born" as is Paul himself.
To this last view the great majority of Christians of all denominations hold from a feeling that any other view would be irreconcilable with justice on God's part.
But, we inquire, What do the Scriptures teach on this last point?--that ignorance is a ground of salvation? No; the only condition known in Scripture is FAITH. "By grace are ye saved through FAITH." Justification by faith is the ground-rock of the whole system of Christianity. When, on the day of Pentecost, Peter was asked, "What must we do to be saved?" He answered: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and be baptized, and thou shalt be saved."
Paul reasons that a man must hear the Gospel before he can believe: "How shall they believe on Him of whom they have not heard?" This, God's plan--that men shall be saved on account of faith--Paul says was to the Jew a stumbling block (because they expected salvation as a reward of keeping [R544 : page 7] the law), and to the Greeks (the worldly wise) foolishness; but, nevertheless, it has "pleased God by the foolishness (in the eyes of men) of preaching to save them WHICH BELIEVE."
We want to scripturally close you in to the thought, that all who have not heard could not believe, and not believing, could not be a part of the Bride of Christ. And this is not out of harmony with those first two chapters of Romans where Paul teaches that the heathen, having not the law, are a law unto themselves, etc. Many seem to misunderstand Paul, and represent him as teaching that the law which their conscience furnishes is sufficient in some cases to justify them. But this is a great mistake and far from Paul's meaning. Paul's argument everywhere is that "all the world is guilty before God," and that had he not known the law, he had not known sin. For by the law is the knowledge of sin." The law given to the Jew revealed his weakness, and was intended to show him that he was unable to justify himself before God. "For by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his (God's) sight." As the written law thus condemned the Jews, so Paul says it is with the Gentiles also. Though ignorant of The Law they had light enough of conscience to condemn them--not to justify them--and so every mouth is stopped and all the world is proved guilty before God. (Romans 3:19). And when this is realized, eternal life is seen to be "the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord," to every one that believeth.
Well, say some, the Bible to the contrary, I believe and insist that God won't damn the world for ignorance. Now, let us see. Do you practice what you declare? Why do you assist in sending missionaries to the heathen at a cost of thousands of valuable lives and millions of money? If they will all be saved, or even half of them, through ignorance, you do them a positive injury in sending a preacher to tell them of Christ when you know that only about one in a thousand believe when the missionary does go to them. If your idea be correct, it were far better that no missionaries should ever be sent. Before, as you believe, nearly all would have been saved on account of ignorance, but now because of knowledge nearly all will be lost. In the same way we might reason, that if God had left all in ignorance ALL would have been saved. Then, instead of the gospel being good news, it would be more properly named bad news.
But when this theory is carried to its legitimate consequences, you do not believe it. No, my brethren, you do believe that there is no other name given whereby we must be saved. Your actions speak the loudest--and speak rightly.
Now, suppose we look at things just as God tells us of them and leave the clearing of His character to Himself.
WHAT HAS BECOME OF THE 142 BILLIONS.
First, we answer that you may be sure they are not now in hell suffering, because the Scriptures teach that full and complete reward is not given to any until Christ comes, and He shall reward every man, and the unjust are to receive their deserts then also. Whatever may be their present condition, it cannot be their full reward, for Peter says: "The Lord knoweth how to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished," and He is doing so. But the thought of so many of our fellow creatures at any time, being lost, without having had the knowledge which is necessary to salvation, seems terrible indeed to all who have a spark of love or pity. Then, too, there are a number of Scriptures which seem hard to harmonize with all this. Let us see. In the light of his dealings, How shall we understand the statement, "God is Love," or "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him might not perish?"
Ah, Lord, it seems to poor, frail humanity that if you loved the world so much, you might have made provision not only that unbelievers might be saved, but also that all might hear and thus have a chance to believe.
Again, we read: "This is the true light, that lighteth every man that cometh into the world." (John 1:9). Lord, all our reason seems to say, not so, we cannot see how Jesus lighted more than a few of earth's billions. Yonder Hottentot gives no evidence of having been so enlightened, neither did the Sodomites and myriads of others.
Once more we read that Jesus, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man. (Heb. 2:9) How, Lord, we ask? If he tasted death for the one hundred and forty-three billions; and from other causes it becomes efficacious to only one billion, is not his death comparatively a failure?
Again: "Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to ALL people." (Luke 2:10). Surely it is to but few that it has been glad tidings and not to all people.
Another is: "There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, [R545 : page 7] the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all." (1 Tim. 2:5). A ransom, then why should not all have some benefit from Christ's death?
Oh, how dark, how inconsistent do these statements appear, when we remember that the Gospel church is a "little flock." Oh, how we wish it would please God to open our eyes that we might understand the Scriptures, for we feel sure that did we but understand, it must all seem clear. It must all declare in thunder tone "God is Love." Oh, that we had the key! Do you want it?--are you sure you do? It is in the last text we quoted, "Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (1 Tim. 2:6). Due time, ah, now we see; God has a due time for everything. He could have testified it to this 142 billions in their life time; then that would have been their due time; but as it was not so, their due time must be future. We know that now is your due time and mine, because it is testified to us now. Christ was a ransom for you before you were born, but it was not due time for you to hear it until years after; so with the Hottentot; Christ was his ransom at the same time that he was yours. He has not heard it yet and may not in this life; but in God's due time he will.
But does not death end probation? one inquires. We answer there is no Scripture which says so, and all the above and many more Scriptures would be meaningless or worse, if death ends all hope to the ignorant masses of the world. A Scripture often quoted to prove this generally entertained view, is: "Where the tree falleth, there it shall be." (Eccl. 11:3). If this has any relation to man and his future it indicates that in whatever condition of knowledge or ignorance he enters death, he remains the same, until he is raised up again.
But, how can knowledge ever reach these billions in their graves? It never will, "for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest." (Eccl. 9:10.) "For in death there is no remembrance of thee (God): in the grave who shall give thee thanks." (Psa. 6:5.) God has provided for the resurrection of them all. For "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (1 Cor. 15:22.) As death came by the first Adam, so life comes by the second Adam. Everything that mankind lost in the first Adam is to be restored in the second: hence the age following Christ's second coming is spoken of as "The times of restitution."
Life is one of the things lost, and is to be one of the things restored. Mark, I do not say eternal life is given them; no, Adam never had eternal life to lose. The continuance of his life was conditioned on his obedience. Life as a human being was lost and this will be restored by the second Adam, and with it the ability to render obedience. This is the general salvation that Christ accomplishes for all, but the "great salvation" which believers receive is entirely different. This enables us to use another text, which is little used except by Universalists, and although we are not Universalists, yet we claim the right to use all Scripture. It reads: "We trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe." (1 Tim. 4:10.) All men are saved or rescued from the loss entailed on us through Adam, by having all those lost things, including natural life, restored to them. He is also the "especial Saviour of them that believe now--during this age--for they are privileged to become sons of God on a higher than human plane, even to be partakers of the divine nature.
Now we see that "the testimony in due time" explains all of those hitherto troublesome texts. In due time it shall be "good tidings of great joy to all people." In due time that "True Light shall lighten every man that cometh into the world." And in no other way can these Scriptures be used without wresting; we take them to mean just what they say. Paul carries out the line of argument with emphasis in Romans 5:18,19. He reasons that as all men were condemned to death and suffered it, because of Adam's transgression, so also Christ's righteousness justifies all to life again. All lost life, not of our own will or choice, in the first Adam, and all receive life at the hands of the second Adam equally without their will or choice, with the privilege of forever retaining it on specified conditions.
When thus brought to life, and having the love of God testified to them, their probation, their first chance begins, for we do not preach a second chance for any.
But Peter tells us that the restitution is spoken by the mouth of all the holy Prophets. They do all teach it. Ezekiel tells us of the valley of dry bones, "These bones are the whole house of Israel," and God says to them: "I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves and bring you into the land of Israel," (Ezek. 37:11,12.) This agrees with Paul's statement, Rom. 11:25,26. "Blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles, (the Gospel Church, the elect company "taken out of the Gentiles") be come in, and so all Israel shall be saved," or brought back from their cast-off condition. For "God hath not cast away His people which he foreknew." (Rom. 11:2). They were cut off from His favor while the bride of Christ was being selected, but will return to favor when that work is accomplished--vs. 28 to 33. The prophets are full of statements of how God will plant them again, and they shall be no more plucked up. This does not refer to restorations from former captivities in Babylon, Syria, &c., for the Lord says: In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape and the children's teeth are set on edge; but every man shall die for his own iniquity; every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge." (Jer. 31:29,30.) This is not the case now. You do not die for your own sin but for Adam's. "In Adam all die." He ate the sour grape and our fathers continued to eat them, entailing more sickness and misery upon us all. The day in which "every man shall die for his own iniquity," is this Millennial or Restitution day. But, when restored to the same conditions as Adam, will they not be as liable to sin and fall again as he was? No, they will have learned the lesson which God designed to teach to all during the first 6,000 years, viz: "The exceeding sinfulness of sin." They will be prepared to appreciate the good and shun the evil; and the Gospel church then glorified will be "The kings (rulers) and priests" (teachers) of that new age, for "Unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come; whereof we speak." (Heb. 2:5.)
But are we sure that God intends these blessings for any but the "people whom he foreknew"--the Jews? Yes. He mentions other nations also by name and speaks of their restitution. Let me give you an illustration that will be forcible--the Sodomites. Surely, if I find their restitution mentioned you will be satisfied. But why should they not have an opportunity as well as you, or the Jew, to obtain eternal life? True, they were not righteous, but neither were you when God gave you your opportunity. Christ's own words tell us that they are not as guilty in His sight as the Jews who had more knowledge: "Woe unto thee...Capernaum, for if the mighty works which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained unto this day." (Matt. 11:21,23.) Thus Christ's own words teach us that they had not had their full opportunity. Remember Christ says of the Sodomites that "it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all." (Luke 17:29.) So, if their restoration is spoken of, it implies their resurrection. Let us look at the prophecy of Ezek. 16:48 to close. Read it carefully. God here speaks to Israel and compares her with her neighbor Samaria, and also with the Sodomites, whom he says, "I took away as I saw good." (Ezek. 16:50.) Why did God see good to take away these people without giving them a chance of eternal life through the knowledge of "the only name"? Because it was not their due time; they will come to a knowledge of the truth when restored. He will save them from death's bondage first, and then give them knowledge, as it is written: "God will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim. 2:4.) When brought to the knowledge, then, and not until then, are the preparations for Eternal life. With this thought, and with no other, I can understand the dealings of the God of love with those Amalekites and other nations, whom he not only permitted, but commanded Israel to destroy utterly, and leave neither man, woman or child, sparing not even the little ones. How often my heart has ached and yours too, as we sought to reconcile this seeming wantonness on God's part, with the teachings of the new dispensation --"God is love," "Love your enemies," &c. Now we see that the entire Jewish age was a type of the higher Gospel age; Israel's victories and conquests merely pictures of the Christian's battles with sin, etc. These Amalekites and Sodomites and others might just as well die so, as of disease and plague, and it mattered little to them, as they were merely learning to know evil, that when on trial "in due time" they might learn good and be able to discriminate and choose good.
But let us read the prophecy further. After comparing Israel with Sodom and Samaria, and pronouncing them worse, v. 53, says, "When I bring again the captivity (In death all are captives; and Christ came to set at liberty the captives and to open the prison doors of the grave) of Sodom and Samaria, then will I bring thy captives in the midst of them." These will be raised together. In verse 55 this is called a "return to their former estate"--restitution. But some one, who cannot imagine that God really could be so good or just, suggests: God must be speaking ironically to Israel, and saying, He would just as soon bring back the Sodomites as them; but has no notion of either. Let us see; read vs. 60-63: "Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee; I will establish it [R546 : page 7] to thee." Yes; says Paul, "This is God's covenant unto them--they are beloved for the fathers' sake. For the gifts and callings of God are without repentance." (Romans 11:27-29.) The 63d verse concludes the argument, showing that the promised restitution is not based on the merits of either Israel, the Samaritans, or the Sodomites --"That thou mayest remember and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee, for all that thou hast done, SAITH THE LORD GOD." When God signs his name to a statement in this way, I must believe it. And no wonder if they are confounded, when "In the ages to come He shows forth the exceeding riches of his grace." (Eph. 2:7.) And many of God's children will be confounded, and amazed also, when they see how "God [R546 : page 8] so loved THE WORLD." They will be ready to exclaim with brother Paul: "Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" (Romans 11:33.)
But some will inquire, how comes it that this has not been seen long ago? We answer, God gives light and knowledge to his people just as it is due. The world was left in almost entire ignorance of God's plan until the Gospel age, when Christ came, bringing life and immortality TO LIGHT through the Gospel. The Jews up to that time supposed that all the promises of God were to and for them alone, but in due time God showed favor to the Gentiles also. Christians, generally, have supposed that God's blessings are to the church, but we begin to see that God is better than all our fears, and though he has given us the "exceeding great and precious promises," He has made some to the world also.
"The path of the just is as a shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day," and the fact that it now shines so brightly; and that we are able to see more of the beauty and harmony of God's word, is to me a strong presumptive evidence that we are nearing that glorious Millennial Day when we shall know even as we are known. (1 Cor. 13:12.)
But we promised to harmonize those doctrines of the Church generally supposed to be opposed to each other, viz: CALVINISM, or Election; and ARMINIANISM, or Free Grace. Perhaps you already see how they harmonize themselves, by simply recognizing the order of the ages, and applying each text to the place and time to which it belongs. Let me then point out to you
THE INCONSISTENCY OF EITHER CALVINISM OR ARMINIANISM.
when separated from each other. In doing so, I do not wish to reflect on those who hold these doctrines. I shall merely call your attention to features which their warmest advocates must confess to be their weak points.
First--Calvinism says: God is all-wise; He knew the end from the beginning; and as "all his purposes shall be accomplished," He never could have intended to save any but a few--the true Church, the little flock. These He elected, and predestinated to be eternally saved; all others were equally predestined and elected to go to hell, for, "known unto the Lord are all His works from the foundation of the world."
This has its good features; it shows, and properly, God's Omniscience. This would be our idea of a GREAT God were it not that the three great essential qualities of greatness, viz., MERCY, LOVE and JUSTICE are lacking, for none of these qualities find place in bringing into the world 142 billions of creatures damned before they were born, and mocked by protestations of love. No, no; "God is Love," "God is Just," "God is Merciful."
Second--Arminianism says: Yes, God is love, and in bringing humanity into the world He meant them no harm; only good. But Satan succeeded in tempting Adam; thus "Sin entered into the world and death by sin." And ever since, God has been doing all he can to deliver man from his enemy, even to the giving of His Son. And though now, six thousand years after, the gospel has only reached a very small portion of those creatures, yet, we do hope and trust, that within six thousand years more, through the energy and liberality of the Church, God will have so far remedied the evil introduced by Satan, that all may at least know of his love, and the knowledge of God be co-extensive with the knowledge of evil.
The commendable feature of this view is, that it accepts the statement that "God is Love." But, while full of loving and benevolent designs for His creatures, He lacks ability and foreknowledge adequate to the accomplishment of those designs.
While God was busy arranging and devising for the good of his newly created children, Satan slipped in, and by one stroke, upset all God's plans, and in one moment brought sin and evil among men to such an extent that even by exhausting all his power, God must spend twelve thousand years to even reinstate righteousness to such a degree that man will have an opportunity to choose good as readily as evil; and the one hundred and forty-two billions of the past six thousand years, and as many more of the next, are lost to all eternity, in spite of God's love for them, because Satan interfered with his plans as God had not foreseen. Thus Satan gets, in spite of God, one hundred into hell to one God gets to glory. This view must exalt men's ideas of Satan, and lower their estimation of Him who "spake and it was done; commanded and it stood fast."
But how refreshing it is for us to turn from these fragments of truth, as separately considered, and see how harmonious and beautiful they are when united; how, during the present and past ages, God is electing, or gathering, by the preaching of His word the Gospel church; how he wisely permitted evil to come into the world in order that He might develop His church, which, thus being made perfect through suffering, might be prepared for her gracious work in the future; and how the mass of mankind, though not now on probation, are nevertheless getting a knowledge and experience, by contact with sin, which he foresaw they would be the better of. And, furthermore, how he took occasion, in connection with this, His plan, to show us His great love, by so arranging that the death of Christ was necessary to our recovery from sin, and then freely giving Him to be "the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world," and then in the next dispensation--"The new heavens and earth," (Rev. 21:1-9-10 and 22:17.) "The spirit and the bride say come, and whosoever will may come and take of the water of life freely." Then "Free Grace" will be shown in the fullest measure. This is the teaching of God's word. Men would not have thought of such a glorious plan of salvation. Truly God has said: "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways: For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isa. 55:8,9.) Hereafter when we address "Our Father," may it call to our mind that His love and compassion are far greater than the pity of earthly parents; and while we study His word more and more, and seek to "grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of God, let us ever remember that"Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter
And He will make it plain."
Having seen how much of the great plan of God awaits the coming of Christ for its accomplishment, and having, we trust, found why Christ comes, we will next Sunday take up another branch of truth connected therewith, and inquire the teaching of Scripture as to the judgment of the Church, and of the World, the reward of Faith and that of Works.
Why has Christian influence so little effect upon the unconverted? Can it be for want of knowledge of Christian duties, or why is it such a barren and fruitless thing to be a Christian? Truly we need not expect that the whole world will be converted because they see beauty in the confession of Christians, for Christ himself has said, "If they will not hear my words, they will not hear you." Yet the Spirit of God is fruitful, and will multiply when it has free access into the hearts of his Spirit-born people.
There is, indeed, a great fault in Christian professors in our day. The motive is not pure. Either from love of the world, or from lack of true repentance, the heart is not wholly given to God, and for this reason God cannot use it for his purpose, namely, for his temple; therefore old things remain, and the creature is not renewed in spirit and mind, and knows not how to adorn his profession, and remains only a stumbling block in the eyes of the world, because he professes to have the spirit of God, and has it not, or walks not according to it. Oh, Christians! let us be careful how we profess Christ, lest not only the sin of hypocrisy be required at our hands, but also the blood of our fellow creatures, who turn away from Christians, and say there is no reality in religion. It is truly good to be a Christian, to enjoy the Spirit of God, the love of Christ, and the many blessings that are manifested through the Spirit as well as the promised glory and blessings.
Ques. Are there any other papers than the TOWER which teach as it does that Jesus is now present?
Ans. We know of none other which teaches the personal presence of Christ Jesus. Most of those whose attention has been given to the subject of the second advent, fail to see the distinction between the human nature which Jesus laid down in death as our ransom, and the new nature given him by the Father as a reward for so doing. (Phil. 2:9.) Therefore, such generally expect that Jesus will be a human or fleshly being at his second coming. But though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now, henceforth, know we him no more after the flesh but as a spiritual being-- the express image of the Father's person, and consequently as invisible to human eyes (without a miracle) as the angels, and as the Father "whom no man hath seen nor can see." (2 Cor. 5:16; Heb. 1:3; 1 Tim. 6:16.)
The fact is, that to be consistent with their theories, none could teach Christ Jesus' presence who do not recognize the distinction and total difference between the perfect human and the divine natures. (Study very carefully the Chart and its explanation in "Food," p. 105.) If Jesus is now merely a glorified man, then when he comes he would be seen by the natural eye, and there would be no special necessity for taking heed to the sure word of prophecy; nor would those Scriptures be true, which represent his presence to be "as a thief," discernable only by those watching. If he is now merely a perfect, glorified man, then those who claim this, to be consistent, should also claim that at his first advent, before he was "highly exalted," [R547 : page 8] he was an imperfect man. But, on the contrary, Scripture teaches that at the first advent, Jesus was undefiled, sinless, perfect--a man FIT to be a ransom for other men--and at his resurrection perfected as a new creature and again a spiritual being.
If change of nature is impossible, as some seem to claim, how did Jesus change from a form of God (a spiritual form) and become a form of flesh, or a human being? And if he changed thus to take our lower nature (Phil. 2:7), why should any deny that he could be given a nature, not only higher than men (the human), but higher than that he laid aside to become a man. If any have theories that would compel Jesus forever to be a man, we think such theories had better be sacrificed than the Scriptures which teach that human and spiritual beings are dissimilar, though on certain conditions some during this age are offered a change of nature.
From the standpoint of those who recognize the distinction between human and spiritual beings, the invisible, personal presence of Christ is not unreasonable. Such realize that, "Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more" after the flesh. The human being, restored, will be a glorious and perfect man; while the "new creature," perfected, will be entirely different--a perfect spiritual being--and it doth not yet appear what such shall be like. Of Jesus we read that he is now "the express image of the Father's person, whom no MAN hath seen NOR CAN SEE. He was put to death in the flesh (as a man) and quickened in spirit (as a new creature).
It is this Jesus, raised in glory and power, a spiritual body and not an animal or human body--perfect as a new creature--that we teach is present, and whose power and presence is now exercising so marked an effect upon the affairs of both the Church and the world. It is his glorious presence as a reaper (Rev. 14:14) of his ripening harvest, whose sharp sickle of truth is now separating the true from the false, and the matured from the immature wheat. Yes, the Lord has come to make up his chosen and polished jewels. We are living even now in the presence of the invisible Lord, whose lightning flashes of truth are even now enlightening the world (Matt. 24:27; Psa. 97:4). The first flashes are bringing terror and dismay to the world, disclosing also the gigantic proportions of evil and oppression; but shortly the full glory, the bright shining of his presence, will be recognized by all (seen by the eye of their understanding) and will bring healing and blessing.
The present, invisible, spiritual prince of this world (Satan--John 14:30) will then be fully cast out, when the new, invisible, spiritual Prince (Christ) shall fully take to himself his great power and dominion.
MAKING US WHITE.
"What have I done that I must suffer so?" "Must I always bear such humiliation?" We answer that God puts a high estimate upon "the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints." A proprietor pulls down his old house and tears up the lilacs and cherry trees, and plows and seeds his ground anew, to make a fitting place for a better home. But how would the green grass sob, and the shrubbery shriek, could its story be heard. Suffering is not always a penalty. It is often corrective. It is educative. Purifying, training and glorifying, in its nature, it must go forward until the end. An old captain on an ocean steamer says, "A little head wind is good; it makes the furnace draw." Patience is beautiful and useful, but it means something to be patient about. It is like the night blooming cereus; it comes only to perfection in darkness, and when midnight is densest. At one end of yonder paper machine is a pile of beautiful white paper. How the rags would scream at their scouring, and grinding, and pressing, and crushing. But see the result! So, Christian, see what blessed things are intended to reward your trials.--American Wesleyan.
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