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VOL. V. PITTSBURGH, PA., APRIL AND MAY, 1884. NO. 9.
ZION'S WATCH TOWER and Herald of Christ's Presence
ROCK OF AGES
Other foundation can
no man lay
A RANSOM FOR ALL
"Watchman, What of the Night?" "The Morning Cometh, and a Night also!" Isaiah 21:11
PUBLISHED MONTHLY AT
101 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pa.
C. T. RUSSELL, Editor and Publisher.
The Editor recognizes a responsibility to the Master, relative to what shall appear in these columns, which he cannot and does not cast aside; yet he should not be understood as endorsing every expression of correspondents, or of articles selected from other periodicals.
TERMS OF SUBSCRIPTION.
TERMS:--Fifty cents a year, postage prepaid. You may send by Draft, P.O. Money Order, or Registered Letter, payable to C. T. RUSSELL.
Foreign Postage being higher, our terms to foreign subscribers will be 65 cents a year. Please send us no foreign money or postage stamps, as we can make no use of them. Remittances may be made by Foreign Postal Money Orders.
This paper will be sent free to any of the Lord's poor who will send a card yearly requesting it. Freely we have received and freely we would give the truth. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat--yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." And you that have it-- "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently--and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness."-- ISAIAH 55:1,2.
THE DELAY of the last two issues has been unavoidable; a variety of circumstances rendered it so. We hope the readers will excuse it. The same circumstances will still further delay the long-promised book, MILLENNIAL DAY DAWN, but we are doing the best we can.
CHANGE OF ADDRESS.
We have removed our business office to NO. 44 FEDERAL ST., ALLEGHENY CITY, PA. Hereafter all mail matter should be directed to the new office, but MONEY ORDERS should be made payable at Pittsburgh, Pa.
ROBBING THE MAILS.
Some one in P.O. employ has discovered that we often get letters containing money, and has been robbing us lately. The only SAFE way, therefore, will be for you to send by P.O. MONEY ORDERS, or REGISTERED LETTERS, or BANK DRAFTS. Please remember this.
APRIL AND MAY.
Our removal and other circumstances have so far delayed us, that we think it prudent to omit one number and let this one do for the two months. This will help to get matters straight in our office, and each subscriber can reckon his subscription as paying for one month ahead so that it will be no pecuniary loss to any of you.
VIEW FROM THE TOWER.
The central point of interest during this month was the commemoration on the night of the 8th inst., of the death of Christ our Passover--slain for us. This has always been an interesting occasion, and this last was no exception, as indicated by our own experience here and the letters received from every direction from those of like precious faith.
In some places only two or three assembled, in others more, and some isolated individuals alone, but the general testimony is that the Master was present at least in spirit; and for aught we know was personally present. All seem to have felt, "It is good for us to be here."
The church at this place had a precious season, several from other parts making it convenient to be with us. The little company numbered about a hundred, and while we partook of the symbols of the body and blood of the Lamb of God--"our Passover"--we called to remembrance the import of the ceremony --the necessity that whoever would be of the first-born must be under the blood and must eat or appropriate the slain Lamb. The thought was impressive, too, that we not only partake of Christ Jesus' merit, but that, as shown in the supper, we commune with or share with him as members of the body broken, being made members or parts of the same loaf. We heard his words to those who asked for a place in the kingdom, "Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of?" And with them we answered, By the help of God we are able; and we heard the Master's response, "Ye shall indeed drink of the cup"--ye shall indeed share in my sufferings and be privileged to fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ: "Drink ye all of it."
We tried to realize the privilege we enjoy during this Gospel age, in that we are permitted to share in the sacrifice without which we could not hope to be accounted worthy to sit with him in his throne. (Rom. 8:17.) After supper we sang a hymn and went to our homes remembering the scenes and incidents of the night and following day over eighteen hundred years ago, and rejoiced to realize that the sufferings of Christ are nearly ended and the glory to follow almost begun.
Many letters recently received ask for preaching, and truly the laborers are few. Pray ye the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into his vineyard, and as you earnestly pray you will come to the point where you will say, Lord cannot I do something?--Lord send me. Whoever seeks will find, and to those who knock a door of opportunity will open. Unwillingness to serve in an obscure and small way is the trouble with many. In the Lord's army as in earthly ones there are more privates than captains and corporals needed. Let us fall into line, put on the uniform of a Christian life, and engage in whatever branch of the service we find opportunity. If faithful in lesser things we may be advanced to service requiring still greater self-denial and sacrifice. Let each seek to put into active service whatever talents he possess; thus he will prove himself a good and faithful servant, and enter the joys of his Lord. page 1
Peoria, Ills., April 11, 1884.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--Your welcome letter received. I lecture twice Sunday and expect large audiences. Have made more visits and acquaintances than usual, and as usual found a few willing to listen, if not to hear.
Mrs. A. celebrated the Passover with me, using the elements, bread and wine. Although such a celebration had always greatly affected both of us as used in the nominal church, yet the two alone using Christ's words and symbols on the anniversary, enjoyed the feast as never before. We are so glad you suggested the observance even to the ones or twos. Our experience is, that upon proper preparation so as not to partake "unworthily" (not discerning the Lord's body) great benefit is received. For a day previous we read the proper Scriptures and ZION'S WATCH TOWER comments, and while communing we read, gave thanks, and conversed on the subjects connected. I hope none of the saints are so poorly instructed that they cannot think the thoughts, utter the thanks, and speak of Christ's work and glory in proper words. We are strengthened and rejoiced, having partaken of the bread--truth; and of the wine--the cup the Lord offers us.
As a result of the examination that the celebration calls up, I shall endeavor to be more fully alive to every opportunity to preach the gospel--even to the ones or twos. I thank God that I am willing to use the talents entrusted to me. A minuter search for the few grains of wheat in the mass of chaff I have often resolved to make. I must do more visiting and feeding of saints. It cannot be so very hard to part with the deaf and sightless, saying, "Nevertheless the kingdom of heaven has drawn near unto you." A few more rebuffs daily I can bear and I MUST.Requesting your prayers, I am
Yours in Christ, J. B. ADANSON.
March 5, 1884.
EDITOR OF ZION'S WATCH TOWER: --Dear Sir--I am learning more and more of the plan of our Creator for the redemption of the world, and I am so glad that you sent us "Food for Thinking Christians," for it was what I wanted. I was a member of the Congregationalist church but not in sympathy with its teachings. I longed for something better. I thank God that I have it now. I am resting in Jesus and I am trying to let others know of the better way. My little book has been out a good share of the time, and it has been the means of setting some to thinking. I am all alone in this way of thinking, not even my husband sympathizes with me, and I suppose that I am considered very singular, but I am willing to suffer for the truth's sake. The papers that I received for distribution I have sent to those I thought would read and think too. Being an invalid, I seldom get away from home, so I do not know what effect they had. After having done all that lies in my power I am willing to let it rest in God's hand. I am nearly sixty years old, and am glad that I have found the truth even at this late hour. I ask an interest in the prayers of God's people, for I do believe in prayer. I want to be found among the faithful, not only on account of a future reward, but for the joy it gives me here to know that I am doing God's will.
Passaic Co., N.J., March 31, 1884.
DEAR BRO.:--The WATCH TOWER for this month has not reached me, and I think the subscription may have expired. Sister__________ paid it last year, I think, and it seems I ought not to be among "the Lord's poor" when I have the comforts of home, etc.; but I am flatly refused the amount for a paper that has been the means of my withdrawal from the M.E. Church, and even my postage and change are watched so closely that I have not been able to save even the small price of the subscription. However, I have the prospect of some change by washing, which I will send as soon as accumulated, with that of an acquaintance who is reading my "Food" and will be a new subscriber. Meanwhile please continue sending the paper, for it furnishes me more food than any reading matter I can get, explaining to me Scripture, and increasing continually my interest in God's Word. And in almost every case where I become puzzled or troubled over some text, the next paper (by direction of God I am sure, not chance,) furnishes the solution. I was troubled about "Let not your hearts be overcharged with the cares of this life." My cares are so numerous, my hands so busy, my head in such a state of confusion often, that Satan vexed me with the text; but your paper emphasizing "hearts" brought me such comfort that I was filled with praise that my heart is not in these things, though I find I have great need to watch. I am compelled to suffer much because of my non-relation to the nominal church, being accused of self-righteousness, etc., but I endeavor to count it all joy, treading alone, like Jesus, the wine-press. Pray that God may keep me in all humility, making my calling and election sure.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I thank God that you sent or rather that he sent me your publications. Through studying them God has shown me my position before him. I can look back on my past life and see how he has been preparing me for this very day, and O how my heart does swell in loving gratitude to him for his loving kindness towards me. I have not been connected with any church for the last twenty-five years, but when your publications came along I recognized the Good Shepherd's voice and you know how sweet that voice is to them that love him. I rejoice to know that he counted me worthy to be numbered with the flock; and this was a great surprise to me that he should call on one seemingly so unworthy. It was a long time before I could get to understand how I had consecrated before 1881 but it was made clear to me at last, and when I had this settled then I found that I had oil enough in my lamp to go to look for the Lord's second coming, and I have found him....
Your Bro. in Christ, __________.
WATCH YE THEREFORE.
The careless, indifferent, and lukewarm may lightly heed the words of warning, and scarcely discern the necessity which prompted them; but the faithful saints earnestly aspiring to attain that whereunto they are called, realize the necessity and thankfully heed them.
We should bear in mind that our foes are unseen, wily, and deceptive, and that if there is a weak or unfortified place that is where the enemy will make the attack. We need therefore to study well our position, and to know every avenue by which the enemy may approach. First, last and all the time we need to watch that the spirit of Christ in us is not displaced by the spirit of the world which so continually surrounds and allures us from our chosen course. We need to watch that [R609 : page 2] we be not entangled with the cares of this life; we need to watch that no root of bitterness springing up may trouble us. We need to watch that the fruit of the spirit of God is manifest in all our actions. Have we got them, and are they being cultivated and developed in us daily? Let us read slowly and bring not our neighbors, but our own hearts to the test of God's word--"The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance....And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
What a glorious character yours must be if you have all these fruits in their perfection! But that I know you have not. The soil of your heart and mine is too poor to expect so much from it, but are we pulling up the weeds and doing the necessary pruning and cultivating; and in consequence are these fruits developing toward perfection? Is our love broad enough to make us patient with those whose Christian graces have not developed so rapidly as ours may have done? O how we need to watch here, and to guard against the roots of bitterness which may spring up!
Has our love for God and our desire for that goodness which so shines in his character, drawn us often to his word? and has our faith so laid hold upon its precious promises as to fill our hearts with joy and peace. We know this is the case with many, but this joy and peace may grow yet more by constant feeding on the word of truth. Watch here that you do not neglect to feed upon the word, and watch that in coming to it you may come with meekness, a simple childlike desire to learn God's ways, and not to establish your own.
While thus exhorted to set a vigilant watch over our Christian character lest it be dwarfed, withered or utterly destroyed, we are also told to "stand fast in the faith"; and in order that we may so stand fast, to equip ourselves and be strong, as men arm and prepare themselves for the battle.
Many make a great mistake in supposing that it is not a very important matter to stand fast in the faith; but Paul esteemed it of utmost importance. It is possible for every student of the Scriptures to have a clear, definite, positive faith, symmetrical and harmonious; and to be able to give to every one that asketh, a reason for the hope that is in him. If our faith is not thus definite and clear, we are just in condition to be blown about by every wind of doctrine. O how we need to watch here. Only those strongly supported by the truth will be able to stand in this evil day.
Finally, not only must we keep a vigilant watch over our faith and character ourselves, but if we would be strong, we must watch unto prayer, and thus keep constant and open communication with the heavenly grace and secure the necessary help in every time of need.
MRS. C. T. R.
WHAT IS IT, AND WHEN AND HOW?
DEAR SIR: Please explain in your next issue the following sentence in the March WATCH TOWER, page 6, middle of second column, viz: "Those reckoned saved now, as though they had already received the perfect human life, are privileged to relinquish their claim and title to it, presenting it as a sacrifice to God, holy and acceptable to him when offered in the acceptable time. And being thus sacrificed with Christ," &c. This relinquishing their claim to salvation, and being sacrificed with Christ, What is it, and when and how?
Dear Sister: It affords us pleasure to endeavor to make still plainer the point referred to. Former ideas of salvation were so vague and indefinite that when now we speak as the Apostle did of a "common" or general salvation, and of a special one, many are confused. The central thought in salvation used to be to us, as with most Christians it yet is--an escape from everlasting torture. But now we have learned that salvation is an escape from death, and that it will be fully accomplished by a resurrection. And we find that while salvation has been purchased for ALL MEN by the precious sacrifice of Jesus, and that consequently all men will be saved out of death [which includes a release from all present imperfections of body and mind], yet we find that there is a special salvation to be shared only by the few, and that the salvation [resurrection] of these is called a chief or first resurrection, and that it is attainable only by a class, who, during this Gospel age follow the example set by Jesus in the beginning of the age --who suffer distress and reproach during this age for Christ's sake.
To come more particularly to your questions: What is this special salvation? we answer it is a salvation from death, and in that respect like the "common" salvation; but it is more, for while mankind in general get back "that which was lost" (Luke 19:10), viz.: human nature (a fleshly image of the divine) in all its beauty and perfection of mind and body, and a right as such to live forever, these esteemed worthy of this chief resurrection, this special salvation, will receive everlasting life as new creatures of the divine nature. Thus it is seen that salvation to both is from death and to everlasting life, but life as human beings to one class, and as divine beings to the other.
To answer your second question: When may this chief salvation be obtained? we answer, In the Gospel age. The invitation to run the race for the prize of our high calling was never made before the gospel age began. In fact Jesus was the first one to run the race. He was the first or fore-runner, and we seek to follow in his footsteps, as he hath set us an example. This is the age in which as a FAVOR some are called to "fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ," and to enter into his glory, which is to follow when the sufferings are all filled up. Since, then, this age fills up or completes the sufferings of Christ, a share in which is the condition on which the new nature is bestowed, it follows that the attainment of divine glory is limited to the Gospel age. Now is the ACCEPTABLE year [or time] of the Lord, i.e., whoever during this time, while the sacrificing is in progress, presents himself a sacrifice to God, will be ACCEPTABLE provided he is one of those "called"; and none are called but those who are JUSTIFIED by faith in Jesus as a propitiation or satisfaction for their sins.
That only justified believers in Christ are acceptable sacrifices, and that only such are "called" or invited to become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ" by suffering with him (Rom. 8:17; 1 Pet. 2:20,21), is proved by many plain statements, and forcibly illustrated in the typical circumstance of Abraham calling a bride and joint-heir for his son. That is unquestionably an illustration for the calling of the Gospel Church as a chaste virgin (2 Cor. 11:2), to be the Bride, help-meet, and joint-heir with the true Isaac--Jesus. It has before been shown that Eliezer, the servant sent to select her, typified the Holy Spirit of God by which the Church is "called" and "led" to her journey's end. But the point to which we now call attention, is the particularity of Abraham about the class of people from whom this bride of Isaac was to be selected. The servant might not go anywhere --"Thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites...but go unto my country, and unto my kindred, and take a wife unto my son." The teaching of this is clear--sinners (typified by Canaanites) are not called to be the Bride of Christ, no, the invitation is sent to those who are by justification esteemed to be related to God. In a word, it is those who by faith in the ransom have become justified as human beings--these are invited to a still closer relationship, to become joint-heirs.
Your third question is: How may this chief salvation be obtained? We answer: it can only be obtained by the sacrifice of the human nature. It must be "worked out," "run for" and "fought for;" we must suffer with Christ if we would reign with him. We must give up, surrender, sacrifice, the human nature and its rights and hopes purchased for us by our Redeemer, if in exchange we would have existence of the same duration, everlasting, but on a higher plane of existence, the divine nature. Though we must work it out and sacrifice to obtain it, yet when it is remembered that the human nature as we inherited it through Adam was forfeited and that the justified human nature which we exchange was a free-gift of God through Jesus, then it would be but proper to esteem that divine nature which we get in exchange for its sacrifice --as a GIFT also.
DON'T UNCHAIN THE TIGER.
"Don't Unchain the Tiger!" was the trumpet blast that terrified triflers at a perilous period of the late war. It was the title of a fly sheet of warning which was not unheeded in those days.
The warning has again been heard: Don't unchain the tiger!
A warning to the fools of fortune, squatted on their golden piles amid the surging hordes of starvelings: Don't unchain the tiger!
A warning to the ruck of millionaires whose millions have been racked out of the men by whose muscle they were created: Don't unchain the tiger!
A warning to the huge, grinding, swindling corporations, which disregard all right and every man's rights in their vampirish lust: Don't unchain the tiger!
A warning to the gamblers in men's food, men's toil, men's land, and men's lives, who grind the faces of the people that fall in their tracks: Don't unchain the tiger!
A warning to all who live by the organized brigandage of the times: Don't unchain the tiger!
The tiger is gaunt and hungry, as he restlessly trails his chain.
The tiger got loose for a moment in New York, in the summer of '63, and we who remember the week of the draft riots are not likely to ever forget it.
The tiger got loose again in the summer of 1877--the year of the continental railroad strike--and it took a hundred thousand armed men to scare him back to his lair in the jungle. Don't unchain the tiger!
The tiger is not mankind, though he may lurk in the heart of the community. He is bred there by wrong; raised to life by it, and is stirred to action; he would have no being but for it.
The right thing to say to the wrong doers now under warning, is not, "Don't unchain the tiger," but don't breed the tiger; don't raise him to life; don't stir the hot-bed out of which he grows; don't let us have a tiger among us that needs to be chained; let us have neither tiger nor chains; away with the wrongs by which he is generated. Sure as death, in the long run, he will be here if they are not put away.
But what of the men who, in the interest of mankind, ought to put them away? Congress and the Legislatures are full of schemers who reck not of aught but their own ends, and think of naught but the bribe-giving corporations upon which they fatten.
The above words by a well known representative of the labor interest, contains much truth. The Cincinnati riots during the past month have added another illustration to the ferocity of the "Tiger" when brought to life.
But though wise men and good men may cry aloud and warn of the dangers ahead, yet the warnings will not be heeded. The love of money will still further grind and the love of power will lead to still greater frauds until the Tiger, bred of almost despair, will devour and destroy his adversaries.
Yet this, with other evils, will work out for mankind a deliverance and under the guiding hand of the New King will prepare the way for the rule of righteousness, when Justice shall be recognized and the GOLDEN RULE govern among men.
That present governments will be overturned by this "Tiger" is the united testimony of the prophets. Thus God often causes the wrath of man to praise Him.--EDITOR.
A good story is told of a little blind child who once had a surgical operation performed that resulted in restoring her to sight. The oculist had skilfully pared off the integument which had prevented the light from passing through to the retina, and then the eyes were bandaged for awhile, until the wounded parts should be somewhat healed. At length the hour arrived when the bandage, which had from time to time been partially and temporarily removed, was to be removed altogether. Ah! what a moment of supreme interest and anxiety to all her friends, but more especially to the little patient herself, who as yet had never seen. This child, when her eyes could bear the light, and she was permitted by her kind physician to open them, and for the first time to look out upon all the beauty there was around her, realizing indeed as no words could ever show "that the light is truly sweet, and that it is a pleasant thing for the eyes to behold the sun," cried out with delight, "O, mother, why did you not tell me it was so beautiful?" The mother, bursting into tears, replied: "I tried to tell you, my dear, but the words wouldn't make you understand." Precisely; and so, withal, is it with the Christian when he attempts to tell what is the joy unspeakable and full of glory, the peace of God that passeth understanding, the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost, and what is the excellency of the knowledge of that Christ for whom he would, if necessary, joyfully suffer the loss of all things.--Sel.
INFIDELS AND THE BIBLE.
A German writer relates that at a literary gathering at the home of Baron von Holbach, where the most celebrated infidels of the age used to assemble, the gentlemen present were one day commenting on the absurd, foolish and childish things with which the Holy Scriptures, as they maintained, abound. But the French philosopher and infidel, Diderot, who had himself taken no small part in the conversation, suddenly put a period to it by saying, "But it is wonderful, gentlemen, it is wonderful! I know no man in France who can write and speak with such ability. In spite of all the evil which we have said, and undoubtedly with good reason, of this book, I do not believe that you, any of you, could compose a narrative so simple, and at the same time so elevated and so affecting, as the narrative of the sufferings and death of Christ--a narrative exerting so wide an influence and awakening so deep and universal feeling, and the power of which after so many hundred years would still be the same." This unlooked for remark filled every one with astonishment, and was followed by a protracted silence.-- Selected.
THE times are critical, not here alone, but all over the world. Prospering in purely material interests, as I fully believe the people at large have never done before, the elements to bring on the gravest moral changes are simultaneously at work everywhere. The problems now lavishly presented for agitation touch the very foundation of religious faith, of moral philosophy, of civil government, and even of human society. New forms of power are developing themselves, seriously menacing the solidity of all established institutions. Even that great conviction, ever cherished as the apple of your eye, and which really is the rock upon which our political edifice rests, the durability of representative government, bids fair to be sooner or later drawn into question on solid grounds. The collision between the forces of associated capital and those of associated labor is likely to make itself felt throughout the wide extent of human civilization.--Charles Francis Adams.
CUMBERED WITH MUCH SERVING.Christ never asks of us such busy labor
As leaves no time for resting at his feet;
This waiting attitude of expectation
He oft'times counts a service most complete.
He sometimes wants our ear, our rapt attention,
That he some sweetest secret may impart;
'Tis always in the time of deepest silence
That heart finds deepest fellowship with heart.
We sometimes wonder why the Lord has placed us
Within a place so narrow, so obscure,
That nothing we call work can find an entrance;
There's only room to suffer--to endure.
Well, God loves patience; souls that dwell in stillness,
Doing the little things, or resting quite,
May just as perfectly fulfill their mission,
Be just as useful in the Father's sight,
As they who grapple with some giant evil,
Clearing a part that every eye may see;
Our Saviour cares for cheerful acquiescence
Rather than for a busy ministry.
And yet he does love service, where 'tis given
By grateful love that clothes itself in deed;
But work that's done beneath the scourge of duty
Be sure to such he gives but little heed.
Then seek to please him, whatsoe'r he bids thee,
Whether to do, to suffer, to lie still;
'Twill matter little by what path he leads us,
If in it all we sought to do his will.
FLESH AND BLOOD.
"Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life." "The words that I speak unto you are spirit and are life." "It is the spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing." Jno. 6:53,54,63.
It was a custom with Jesus to express truth under cover, in "dark sayings," and to many this is one of the darkest. When they heard it the Jews wondered, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" and many of the disciples murmured, and said, "This is a hard saying, who can hear it?" And to-day, while it is generally recognized that Jesus did not mean that they were to eat his literal flesh, few have a clear idea of what he did mean.
Some have hastily concluded that because the Master said his words were spirit or spiritual, that therefore to appreciate them they must seek the very opposite of the literal meaning of the words; and such have concluded that the expression "flesh and blood" means a spiritual nature. They overlook the fact that Jesus did not say that the flesh was spiritual, but the words.
That the Lord did not refer to a spiritual nature when he used the words "flesh and blood," is easily seen when all of his words are remembered. Did he not say, "My flesh...I will give for the life of the world"? (ver. 51.) Did he mean that he would give his spiritual nature? If so, if he gave that for us, then he has not a spiritual nature now; for we remember that he "gave all that he had." (Matt. 13:44.) It cannot be that he gave away all that he had of the divine nature for the life of the world. Speaking of the same thing again he said, "This is my body broken for you...and my blood shed for many for the remission of sins." Who can for a moment suppose that the divine nature is here meant? Was it the spiritual that was broken and shed, or was it the human--the "body prepared" for sacrifice (Heb. 10:5) and taken for the suffering of death (Heb. 2:9)? Which think you?
In view of these and other statements of Scripture, let none interpret these words of Jesus to mean that his spiritual nature was broken, and that all are to eat it. Better far confess as did some of the Jews, "We cannot tell what he saith" [meaneth].
But some one else suggests that, possibly "flesh and blood" here is used as referring to MORAL PERFECTION, and that all must eat or receive moral perfection from Jesus or they have no life. This is as far from the import of Jesus' words as the other suggestion, for while it is true that to have everlasting life all must have moral quality, yet such is not the meaning of the words of our Lord now under consideration. Let us test it and see. Was Jesus' MORAL PERFECTION "laid down," "given," or "broken" for us? Assuredly not; to "break," or give up, or lay down moral perfection, would be to become MORALLY IMPERFECT. Hence it is clear that the "spirit" or MEANING of Jesus' words was not that we are to eat his divine nature nor yet his moral qualities.
What, then, is the spirit or import of the words "blood and flesh" here used? We answer, The same spirit or significance should be attached to these words here as elsewhere. Flesh and blood uniformly represents HUMAN NATURE as many Scriptures prove.*
*Matt. 16:17; Jno. 1:14; Col. 1:22; Phn. 16; 1 Cor. 15:50; 1 Pet. 1:24, and 3:18, and 4:1.
Now, let us try this definition of "flesh and blood," and see whether it will fit and fill all the conditions. Was Jesus' human nature "laid down," "given" and "broken" for the life of the world? Yes, verily; he took our human nature, which is a "little lower" than the nature of angels, that he might give it as a ransom for all. He gave his human nature as a ransom for our human nature; he bought us with his own precious blood; he "gave all that he had" (Matt. 13:44) for us. And thus "as by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead." (1 Cor. 15:21.) It was the man Christ Jesus that became our substitute or representative, giving his human nature a ransom for ours.
If, then, this definition is found to meet all the conditions under which the expression is used, it is thus proved to be the correct meaning or spirit of the Master's teaching.
But we inquire: In what sense can we eat Jesus' human nature? We must still remember to look for the spirit or meaning of the words, for the EATING is as much a symbol as the flesh and blood. To eat is to appropriate to one's self the life-giving properties of the thing eaten. Now, let us see, how does it harmonize to say, Unless you appropriate to yourself Jesus' human nature given, broken, and laid down for that very purpose, you have no life in you. This is in perfect harmony. Humanity lost all right to life through Adam, hence are now dying and dead, having in them no right to life; and though the ransom has been given, though the body has been broken, it is a part of God's plan that no man shall ever reach human perfection (life) again, except by a full recognition of the ransom price and an appropriation by faith of those rights which the man Christ Jesus secured by giving his flesh (human nature) for all. And as fast as we appropriate, God imputes; and thus the righteousness of Christ, and its right of life everlasting, are imputed to us.
Thus by faith we eat or appropriate to ourselves that which was sacrificed for us. Unless we thus eat or appropriate to ourselves the rights and merits of the man Christ Jesus, who was sacrificed FOR us, it is evident that we would have no life, nor right to life in us. It is in or by or through him that we obtain back again the life lost for us by the first Adam--neither is there salvation (life) in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved [from death]. Acts 4:12. How dangerous, then, is the position of those who deny the ransom and its necessity and value as the life-restoring power given for the whole world. Neither they nor any shall ever have life until they do eat or appropriate that which was sacrificed. Hence the Apostle marks as one of the most serious offences any attempt to depreciate that sacrifice, or deny its necessity, saying, "Of how much sorer punishment suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an UNHOLY [common or ordinary] thing."
So, then, the eating or appropriating to ourselves of the "flesh and blood" [human nature] of Jesus, JUSTIFIES us from sin and its penalty death--justifies us to human life and its privileges. (Rom. 5:18,19.) This is the "common," that is to say, general salvation. (Jude 3.) But to the "little flock" being selected or elected out from among the saved world--called to be saints, joint-heirs of God with Jesus Christ, there is a special salvation mentioned by the Apostle. (1 Tim. 4:10.)
These called to this "high calling," and to become "partakers of the divine nature," not only eat or appropriate life by appropriating the value of Jesus' sacrifice, but THEY do more. Having been justified to life as men, i.e., having obtained back again (in faith) the rights lost for them by Adam, the call or privilege of this class during THIS AGE is that they may sacrifice or "break themselves, laying down their lives as Jesus did, thus becoming "dead with him" in hope that thereby they shall be accounted worthy of the promise made to them, that they shall live with him, and partake of the divine nature bestowed on him as a reward for the sacrifice of the human nature.
It is thus that the Apostle refers to this class, not only as having eaten or appropriated Jesus' sacrifice to themselves, but also as having become associated with him in the sacrifice. He says of the Lord's Supper: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion [sharing] of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion [sharing] of the body of Christ? [Is it not thus that we illustrate the "filling up of the afflictions of Christ"? Col. 1:24.] "For we being many are one bread [loaf] and one body [the body anointed] 1 Cor. 10:16,17.
So, then, in a word--one loaf of life-giving bread has been provided from heaven for all mankind, and during the Gospel age an opportunity has been offered to some of joining the body of Christ and sharing with him in sacrificing the human nature and inheriting with him the divine nature.
Thus we see that while to have eaten Jesus' flesh literally would have profited nothing, yet to appropriate the rights which he possessed and laid down for men, is to have a right to perfect human life and all its privileges. "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you."
"WHO ART THOU THAT REPLIEST AGAINST GOD?" ROM. 9:20.
It is the mistaken idea of some that justice requires that God should make no difference in bestowing his favors among his creatures; that if he exalts one to a high position, in justice he must do the same for all, unless it can be shown that some have forfeited their rights, in which case such might justly be assigned to a lower position.
If this principle be a correct one, it would show that God had no right to create Jesus higher than angels and then to exalt him to the divine nature, unless he intended to do the same for all the angels and for all men. And to carry the principle still further, if some men are to be highly exalted to be partakers of the divine nature, all men must eventually be elevated to the same position. And why not carry the principle to its extreme limit, and apply the same law of progression to the brute and insect creation, and say that since they are all God's creatures they must all eventually attain unto the very highest plane of existence--the DIVINE NATURE.
Perhaps none would be inclined to carry the principle--if principle it is--so far. Yet if it is a principle founded in simple justice, where could it stop short and still be just? And if such were indeed the plan of God, where would be the pleasing variety in all his works? All nature, both animate and inanimate, exhibits the glory and diversity of divine power and wisdom. The modest violet does not develop into a rose, the blade of grass does not develop into a tree, a bird does not develop into some other creature. But if progression from lower to higher natures were a part of God's plan, how inferior that plan would be to what it really is! If every blade of grass were to become a tree, or every flower a rose, and every forest warbler had ceased its song, what a weary, monotonous picture we should have!
But such is not God's plan; for as "the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork" in wonderful variety and glory, much more shall his intelligent creation exhibit the variety and superior glory of his power. So we conclude from reason, from the analogies of nature, and from the express teaching of the Word of God.
It is very important that we should have right ideas of justice. A favor should never be esteemed as a justly-merited recompense. If you bestow a favor, and it is received as an act of simple justice, as nothing more than you ought to do, you feel disappointed. An act of simple justice is no occasion for special gratitude, nor is it any proof of love; but God commendeth his great love to his creatures in an endless train of unmerited favors, which call forth their love and praise in return.
God had a right, if he chose, to make us merely the creatures of a brief space of time, even if we had never sinned. Thus he has made some of his creatures. He might have permitted us to enjoy his blessings for a season, and then blot us out of existence. It is only of his favor that we have an existence at all, but how much greater favor is the redemption of the existence once forfeited by sin.
And further, it is purely of God's favor that you are a man and not a beast; it is purely of favor that angels are angels, a little higher than men; and it is purely of God's favor that Jesus is made a partaker of the divine nature. It becomes all his intelligent creatures, then, to receive with humble gratitude whatever God may bestow. Any other spirit justly merits condemnation, and if indulged will end in abasement and destruction. It is a mark of gross ingratitude to say, My favor is of less value than my neighbors, and to aspire to attain a favor not promised. A man has no right to aspire to be an angel, never having been invited to that position; nor has an angel a right to aspire to the divine nature, that never having been offered to them. This was the crime of Satan which brought his abasement, and will end in his destruction. (Isa. 14:14.) "Whoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted," (Luke 14:11), but not necessarily to the highest position.
Partly from this false idea of justice, and partly from other reasons, the subject of election as taught in the Scriptures has been the occasion of much dispute and misunderstanding. That the Scriptures teach election few would deny, but on just what principle the election or selection is based is a matter of considerable difference of opinion, some claiming that the election is an arbitrary, unconditional one, and others that it is conditional. There is a measure of truth we believe in both of these views.
An election on God's part is the expression of his choice for a certain purpose, office, or condition. We have just seen that God has elected or chosen that some of his creatures should be angels, that some should be men, that some should be beasts, birds, insects, etc., and that some should be of his own divine nature. We also see that their election to these conditions is not because of their own merit or demerit, but that it is purely of favor that they have existence in any condition.
But let us confine ourselves to God's elections among men. None, we presume, would question the fact that the election of Isaac rather than Ishmael, of Jacob rather than Esau, and of Israel rather than other nations of the world, to enjoy the special favors of God, were unconditional elections. And Rom. 9:11 makes the very plain and positive statement that the election of Jacob over Esau was made before the children were born, so that it might be evident that the election was not because of the merit or demerit of either, but of God's unconditional choice. So also Isaac, and the nation of Israel, were chosen before they were born.
"So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy," or favor. (Rom. 9:16.) It was not because these chosen ones were better than others that God selected them, but it was because God had a [R612 : page 4] right to do as he pleased with his own, and because he chose to exercise that right for the accomplishment of his plans. If you owned a number of buildings, and chose to use one as a dwelling, to turn another into a store, and another into a factory, who could dispute your right to do so, since the buildings are your own property? So God asserts his right to do what he pleases with his various creatures. And "Who art thou, O man, that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say unto him who formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay to make one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor [without honor]?" Rom. 9:21. From original nothingness all were created by the same divine power.
"Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, his [man's] maker: ASK me of things to come. Concerning my children, and concerning the work of my hands, command ye me? I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded." "Thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited. I am the Lord, and there is none else." (Isa. 45:10-12,18.) None have a right to dictate to him.
If God has established the earth, and if he formed it not in vain, but made it to be inhabited by restored, perfect men, who are we that we should reply against God and say that it is unjust not to change their nature and make them all partakers of a spiritual nature like unto the angels, or like unto his own divine nature? How much more becoming to come humbly to God's Word and "ASK concerning things to come," than to "command" or assert that he must carry out our ideas?
"Lord, keep back thy servants from presumptuous sins: let them not have dominion over us." None of God's children, we believe, would knowingly dictate to the Lord; yet how easily and almost unconsciously we may fall into such an error. We need to look into the glass frequently, lest such dispositions remain undiscovered.
The human race are God's children by creation--the work of his hands-- and God's plan with reference to them is clearly revealed in his Word. Paul says that the first man (who was a sample of what the race will be when perfect) was of the earth, earthy; and his posterity, with the exception of the Gospel Church, will in the resurrection still be earthy-- human--adapted to the earth. (1 Cor. 15:38,44.) David says that he was made only a little lower than the angels, and crowned with glory and honor, dominion, etc. (Psa. 8:4-8.) And Peter, and Jesus, and all the Prophets since the world began, declare that the human race is to be RESTORED to that glorious perfection, and are again to have dominion over earth as their representative, Adam, had.
This is what God has elected, or chosen, the human race for. And what a glorious portion! Close your eyes for a moment, if you can, to the scenes of misery and woe, degradation and sorrow, that yet prevail on account of sin, and picture before your mental vision the glory of the perfect earth. Not a stain of sin mars the harmony and peace of a perfect society; not a bitter thought, not an unkind look or word, but love welling up from every heart to meet a kindred response in every other heart; benevolence marking every act. Then there shall be no more sickness, not an ache, nor a pain, nor any evidence of decay--not even a fear of any such thing. Think of all the pictures of comparative health and beauty, of human form and feature, that you have ever seen, and know that perfect men and women will be of still surpassing loveliness. The inward purity and mental and moral perfection will stamp and glorify every radiant countenance. Such will earth's society be; and weeping, bereaved ones will have their tears all wiped away when thus they realize the resurrection work complete. [R613 : page 4]
And this is only the change in human society. We call to mind also that the earth which was "made to be inhabited" by such a race of beings, is to be a fit and becoming abode for man. It shall no more bring forth thorns and briers, and require the sweat of man's face to yield his bread, but "the earth shall" easily and naturally "yield her increase." "The desert shall blossom as the rose," and the lower animal creation will be perfect, willing and obedient servants. All the grasses will not develop into trees, nor every modest flower into one monotonous form of beauty. No; nature with its pleasing variety will call to men from every direction to seek and know the glory and power and love of God, and mind and heart will rejoice in him.
Think you that with ungrateful heart man will turn from such loving favor to envy an angel's estate? No, not for an instant. We call to mind the expression of gratitude from an only child when Christmas morning displayed the special evidences of a mother's love. Viewing his treasures with childish delight, he said, "Mamma, did you do all this for one little boy?" Such will be the gratitude of perfect human hearts. Men will not then, as they now do, with restless, feverish pulse and morbid desire, crave and long for exciting change or greater variety. No, they will have learned and proven that "Godliness [God-likeness] with contentment is great gain." (1 Tim. 6:6.) This restless desire for something new, that now prevails, is not a natural, but an abnormal condition, due to our imperfection and to our present unsatisfactory condition. It is not God-like to restlessly crave something new. Most things are old to God, and he rejoices most in those things which are old, and have attained their perfection. So will it be with man, when restored to the image of God.
Well, says some one, will not Abraham and the Prophets, and others of past ages, who were so faithful to God, and who suffered so much for conscience sake, have a right to feel envious of the Gospel Church some of whom have not suffered half so much, and yet will be so much more highly exalted? Not at all. They will recognize God's right to do what he will with his own, and they shall be satisfied when they awake with God's likeness as Adam had it. (Psa. 17:15; 36:8; 63:5; 104:13; Jer. 31:12-14.) The perfect man will not know or understand the spiritual glory, that being wisely hidden from him; and he will be so absorbed and enraptured with the glory that surrounds him on the human plane, that he will have no aspirations for things unseen and not revealed. A glance at present experience will illustrate this--for how hardly, with what difficulty do those who are rich in this world's goods enter into the kingdom of God. The few good things possessed even under the present reign of evil and death so captivate the human nature that we need special help from God to keep our eye and purpose fixed on the spiritual promises.
We notice also that the election of the Gospel Church is in a sense an unconditional election; for we read (Eph. 1:4,5) that it was chosen or elected "before the foundation of the world"--long enough before they were born, to prove that it was not of merit, but of favor. And moreover we read that "Whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son;...and whom he did predestinate them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified."
This shows that the election or choice of the Church was a pre-determined thing on God's part; but mark, it is not an unconditional election of the individual members of the Church. Before the foundation of the world God determined that within a specific time (the Gospel Age) he would offer a special favor to those living during that time. And the class he then intended to favor (and no others) he also determined to conform to the image of His Son, who is "the express image of the Father's person"--that is, he determined to change the nature of this class from human to spiritual, and the highest form of the spiritual, the "divine nature." (2 Pet. 1:4.)
And whom he thus determined to favor he called; but all who receive the call do not appreciate it. Some fail to make their calling and election sure, and therefore of the many called only a few are chosen. The class who actually receive the great favor offered "are called, and faithful, and chosen." (Rev. 17:14.) Their being called or invited to the high position is mentioned to show that they do not presumptuously aspire to it without invitation.
"And whom he called, them he also justified." The class whom God calls to this high position he first redeemed and justified through Christ. Such believers as appreciate and accept the invitation to the high position, were first JUSTIFIED through faith in the Redeemer--reckoned free from sin, sin being no longer imputed to them. Being thus divested of all condemnation, they are free to so run that they may make their calling and election sure. As long as we were in bondage to sin and death we could not move; but having by faith passed from death unto life, we are reckoned as free from sin as the world will be when actually made perfect, and therefore we may strive lawfully for the prize of our high calling. Since the privilege of running for the great prize was the only advantage to be gained by being justified during the Gospel Age, those who disregarded and did not appreciate the call are not reckoned justified.
"And whom he justified, them he also glorified" (Gr. doxazo, honored.) They are honored now by being set apart for this special position, separated from the world, and marked or sealed with his Spirit; and in due time they will be more highly honored in the full realization of the "exceeding great and precious promises."
All this wealth of favor predetermined on the Gospel Church was wholly unconditional --of God's own free will and choice. We never should have thought of seeking such a thing, nor dared to claim it on the strength of merit, nor to aspire to it without invitation.
But as to whether you and I shall be of that favored class is quite another matter. That is conditional, and if we would be counted in this class we must fulfill those conditions, all of which are well known to us. "Let us therefore fear lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it." (Heb. 4:1.) While the great favor is not of him that willeth, and of him that runneth," it is to him that willeth, and to him that runneth.
Having thus, we trust, clearly vindicated God's absolute right and purpose to do what he will with his own, we would call attention to the fact that the principle which characterizes the bestowment of all his favors is the design of each for the general good of all. The highest exaltation is for the greatest service and blessing of all. Let meekness, humility and benevolence make ready the sons of God for their high service.
WHAT SIN WILL DO.
There was but one crack in the lantern, and the wind has found it out and blown out the candle. How great a mischief one unguarded point of character may cause us! One spark blew the magazine and shook the whole country for miles around. One leak sank the vessel and drowned all on board. One wound may kill the body. One sin destroys the soul. It matters little how carefully the rest of the lantern is protected, the one point which is damaged is quite sufficient to admit the wind; and so it little matters how zealous a man may be in a thousand things, if he tolerate one darling sin. Satan will find out the flaw and destroy all of his hopes. The strength of a chain is to be measured, not by the strongest, but by the weakest link, for if the weakest snaps what is the use of the rest? Satan is a close observer, and knows exactly where our weak points are; we have need of very much watchfulness, and we have great cause to bless our merciful Lord who prayed for us that our faith fail not. Either our pride our sloth, our ignorance, our anger, or our lust would prove our ruin, unless grace interposed; any one of our senses or faculties might admit the foe, our virtues and graces might be the gates of entrance to our enemies. Oh, Jesus, if thou hadst indeed bought me with thy blood, be pleased to keep me by thy power even unto the end.--
C. H. Spurgeon.
"THE LETTER KILLETH, BUT THE SPIRIT GIVETH LIFE."
A reckless application of Scripture without due consideration of the context has ever been a fruitful source of error among Christians, and not unfrequently proves a stumbling block even to those considerably advanced in the knowledge of the truth. A single expression of any writer or speaker, when isolated from his line of thought or argument, might be construed to prove the very opposite of what he intended. This if done intentionally would be dishonest. But as a general thing it is merely the result of a reckless habit. A single text occurs to the mind from memory, and a meaning is attached to it without consulting the context to see if the line of thought there pursued will bear it out.
For this reason, a peculiar, and we think hurtful conclusion, has been drawn by many from the above words of the Apostle Paul. We would therefore inquire --the letter of what, killeth? and the spirit of what, giveth life?
Many presume that it is the letter of God's word and are therefore inclined to esteem the word lightly, while they attach all importance to the spirit. But the word is the voice of the spirit. An esteemed Christian friend expressed the sentiment of this class as follows: I look for divine guidance in three ways: through God's spirit, his providences, and his word, which I esteem in the order named. And some evidently mistaken leadings, entirely out of harmony with the Word, gave sad evidence that the supposed leadings of God's spirit were merely the fancies of the human spirit. "Sanctify them through thy truth, thy Word is truth," was Jesus' prayer; and his command, "Search the Scriptures...for they are they which testify of me." Again he says, The spirit shall receive of mine [those things written in the Scriptures] and shall show them unto you. John 16:14.
We have no intimation in the Scriptures that the Spirit of God leads his children through any other medium than that of his Word. In fact we have the express statement of our Lord to this effect, in John 16:13--"He will not speak from himself; he will speak whatever he may hear." (See Diaglott, R.V., Rotherham and Young.)
To speak from himself, would be to speak independently of the Scriptures and to render them of only secondary importance. God could speak to his children now in visions and dreams, as he did before the Scriptures were completed, but since these, his "two witnesses," the Old and New Testaments were prepared, he has honored them as the medium for the communication of his will.
We do not doubt that God sometimes impresses some scriptural truth or principle upon the mind both in our waking and sleeping hours, to thus arouse and quicken us; but if we have any strong impression that is not in harmony with the Word of God, we may be sure that it comes from another spirit, and not from the Spirit of God. To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." Isa. 8:20.
Just so we would also scrutinize the circumstances of life, lest that which is only a device of Satan, might be mistaken for the providence of God, and an indication of his will. We should call to mind the fact that in this age "the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence," that we are opposed by the powers of darkness at every step. How [R614 : page 5] often for instance when we would make some special effort to advance the truth, do we find one or a variety of circumstances conspiring against us. And if the adversary can only delude us into the idea that these circumstances are the providences of God indicating his will, how easily will he accomplish his purpose and our hindrance; whereas if we recognize their true source, as soldiers of Christ we will battle against adverse circumstances, and plant the standard of the heavenly kingdom in view of the world.
We should not expect to conquer circumstances without experiencing suffering, deprivation, and loss of earthly things; often we shall be wounded, and sometimes partially defeated and greatly discouraged. But if our purpose is founded in the truth, don't let us be deceived into the idea that the providence of God is against us, but let us look to the Captain for direction as to how we may master the situation. While thus bearing in mind the policy and deceptive arts of our great opposer, we also remember the comforting assurances that "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord," and that "Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand." Psa. 37:23,24.
Yes, circumstances which are now largely in the hand of the enemy--"the prince of the world," such as sickness, business perplexities, loss of friends, strong opposition by the enemies of truth, and many things which may appear merely accidental, may even cause us to fall for a time partially defeated in our purpose to glorify God. But, blessed thought! though we may sometimes thus fall, we shall not be utterly cast down, for "the Lord upholdeth with his hand."
But without a full conviction that we are really doing the Lord's will in that which we strive to accomplish, it would be unwise thus to strive against opposition, and therefore we would inquire, Is there any way by which the soldiers of Christ may know and fully recognize the command of their Captain? In other words, How may we know when our steps are ordered or directed of the Lord, and that we are not being deceived by the enemy? The Psalmist, we think, gives the key to the answer, when he prays, "Order (direct) my steps in thy Word." (119:113. [should be 119:133 - site Eitor]) Yes, just so we find it; the steps of a good man are all ordered or directed in the Word, and with "the law of his God in his heart, none of his steps shall slide." Psa. 37:31.
The Word of God furnishes principles, precepts and examples broad enough to indicate the Lord's will in the minutest affairs of life, but we must have constant recourse to it; and with full purpose of heart we must not only seek to know, but to obey it.
Seeing, then, that God has thus honored his Word as the channel for communicating his will to men, we cannot conclude that it is his Word that kills, while his Spirit, acting independent of it, and as a superior guide gives life. If this were our belief, we should cease to study the Word, and look for the leadings of the Spirit through dreams and visions and circumstances.
But referring again to 2 Cor. 3:6, we notice that Paul is comparing the Jewish dispensation with the Gospel dispensation. He shows that the law given to Israel, which was indeed ordained unto life, i.e., which guaranteed life to the obedient, was found to be unto death, because Israel was totally unable to keep it. The only condition of the law was, Obey! and he who fails in one point is guilty of all. If you can obey it perfectly, then you can have life. But though Israel with united voice said, "All that the Lord hath spoken we will do" (Exod. 19:8), doubtless greatly rejoicing in the prospect of everlasting life, yet not one was able to keep it. Why? Because they had only the letter of the law engraven on the tables of stone, and not the spirit of the law (which is love) written in their hearts. Therefore as death had reigned from Adam to Moses, so it continued to reign, for all were unable because of inherited weakness to keep God's perfect law. And so that glorious law ordained or arranged to perpetuate life, was found to be "the ministration of death."
But since the Son of God took our nature, being born under the law, fulfilling all its requirements, and thus having a right to life, gave his life as a substitute or ransom for ours, we are introduced into a new dispensation. We are no longer under law, but under grace. (Rom. 6:14.) God's requirement is not now do if you would live, but the good news now is, that "there is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit."
In our present imperfect condition, no matter how much we endeavor to keep the law, and thereby merit life, we fail; it is impossible. The letter of the law condemned or killed every man that ever lived, except Jesus; and very many, inspired by its promise of life, tried to keep it in all sincerity. Verily, it has been abundantly proven that the letter of the law killeth.
But since we have been freed from the letter of the law by the death of Christ, he having fulfilled and settled our obligation, we have a new offer of life on a new condition, viz., if we walk after or strive to keep the spirit of the law. To such there is no condemnation. They may thus have life through Christ. The spirit of God's law is love. As Jesus and Paul taught, "Love is the fulfilling of the law." (Matt. 22:37,40, and Rom. 13:10.) We are as unable to fully keep the spirit of the law as Israel was, but we are only required to walk after or strive to keep it, and in so far as in our weakness we fail, the merit of Jesus supplies our deficiency.
It is then the spirit of the law (love) manifested in us, which, through Christ, gives or guarantees life. Even though that spirit be not fully developed, "he that has begun the good work in us is able to complete it." Our desire and effort to keep the very spirit of the law is reckoned as a perfect keeping of it, while our inability to do so is compensated for by the sacrifice of Christ. When men are restored to perfection, the law of God will be written in their hearts (Jer. 31:33), and its spirit of love will permeate their whole being, and its retention will be their guarantee of everlasting life. The letter of the law killeth, but the spirit of the law giveth life. "Thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Cor. 15:57.)
"AS" AND "SO."
NEWELL. W. FIELDS.
"As the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him." Psalm 103:11-13.
"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways. As the rain cometh down and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." Isa. 55:9-11.
"As the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations." Isa. 61:11.
"As by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." Rom. 5:18,19.
THE PRINCE OF THIS WORLD.
When Adam was created it was that he might be the Lord of this world. To him was given "the dominion" [Gen. 1:28] after "the likeness" of God; to be an "image" or miniature representation of the Lord of all. When Adam fell, he, of course, lost his birthright--if we may so express it. His dominion and possessions passed into the hands of the crafty conqueror. Since then Satan has been the Prince and God of this world.
Paul calls him "the god of this world," "the prince of the power of the air," etc. Jesus recognized his position in the words of the title of this article. (John 14:30.) In the great temptation (Matt. 4:1-11), when Satan could neither make our Lord to doubt or tempt the Father, his last desperate stake was "the dominion." He evidently knew that the mission of the Christ was to win back "the kingdom" which he (Satan) now held and ruled through his minions, the blood-thirsty kings of earth. This offer was no farce; it was the climax of the temptations, the last resort of a baffled enemy.
Hades is--not the palace, but--the prison-house of Satan. His castle is in the air, his dungeon is the prison-house of death. Into this he has been packing his victims since Adam's fall. Into this Jesus himself entered, but he captured the kings, and will yet bind "the strong man," "spoil [rob] his house," and lead forth "a multitude of captives."
Sickness, disease, accidents and other mysterious dispensations of Providence (so-called) are but the instruments of Satan; and the messengers--not of light but of darkness--by which he gathers in his harvest.
The grim reaper, death, is Satan's Brigadier-General--not the Lord's. Can a house be divided against itself? Jesus was manifested that he might destroy death, and him that hath the power of death, THAT IS the DEVIL. (Heb. 2:14.)
The arch-deceiver, he who was a liar from the beginning, has carefully instructed his messengers to blame the God of love for all the misery that exists and comes upon the world.
When the cherished little rose-bud baby is secretly stricken by the arrow of the arch-enemy, it is said to be the Lord's hand who has transplanted it in Paradise. A very pretty thought, if there was any truth in it, although even this fiction (as was intended) does not reconcile the parents to the act of the spoiler. Frequently it is just the opposite. The widow and orphan in their anguish doubt the love and goodness of Him whom they blame for robbing them of their loved protector. This is just what the deceiver wanted.
When the prophet of the Lord would comfort the stricken he said, "Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears." Why, Jeremiah? Are they in heaven, transported there as our and the Lord's jewels, to draw our hearts there, and lead us to follow them? Thus putting aside Jesus as our Leader and Desire? No, the prophet of the Lord says: "They shall come again from the land of THE ENEMY."
When the hidden shaft suddenly strikes some one who had been apparently well before, ignorance delivers the verdict, "Died by the hand of God." When a promising and useful member of society falls by the hand of a hell-inspired ruffian, we are told to bow to the decision of the All-wise.
If our Lord set up his kingdom eighteen hundred years ago and has been ruling ever since, would there not be an excuse for the citizens who sent the message: "We will not have this one to reign over us"? Can any one look calmly at the misery of the past six thousand years and not discern who has been the ruler of this world? Surely they would exclaim with Job: "The earth is given into the hand of the wicked one; he covereth the faces of [deceiveth] the judges thereof: if not, where and who is he [the rightful ruler]?
Let those who have the truth stand up for the character and glory of the Father and of His Son, who is about to take to himself His great power and reign.
Then, when the battle is over, we shall see a different order of things; when earth's sons may each sit fearlessly and peacefully under his own vine and fig-tree, rejoicing in the fruit of their own planting. (Micah 4:4.)
Then there will be no more appalling accidents [?] as are now so common-- caused frequently by a refusal to bear the expense of safeguards and preventatives.
Death is everywhere. Carelessness, recklessness, covetousness, drunkenness or devilishness may each be the instrumentalities, but Satan is the director of all. Let us give the Devil his due in the fullest sense, and bravely stand for the honor of the name of our Lord, praying, "THY KINGDOM COME."
W. I. M.
Referring to the future of Palestine and the hopes of the Hebrews centered therein, the N. York Herald says:
"While the great Christian Powers stand with mail-clad hands to grasp the coveted and tempting bit (Palestine) when the moribund Turk lets go his hold, a historic figure steps forward and declares, "The land is mine!" And when the Powers turn to look at the Speaker they recognize the Jew--the child of the patriarch who lived in Palestine when it was first invaded and who would himself fain be present to receive it as his own when its possession is disputed thirty-six centuries after!
What a wonderful coincidence! "Not so," says the Jew, "it is not coincidence, it is my destiny." Let us now briefly glance at the position of the Jew in this question of the future Palestine. Nations are born from ideas. From the idea of German unity grew the German Empire into actual fact, proclaimed to the world in Versailles, with French cannon to answer amen to German prayer for its welfare. From the cry of "Italia irridenta" was born the new Italy of to-day, whose thunder will again wake Mediterranean shores. From the tradition of ancient Greece the modern Greece was created. So Christians understand how the long cherished aspirations of the Jew may yet be realized; and while they fully concede that while to the Jew above all belongs Palestine, while he above all is specially qualified to develop the future of that teeming country, while his possession of it would solve the fears of the jealous Powers, the establishment of the Jew in it would be an act of justice, and a worthy atonement for the fearful wrongs perpetrated upon him--the martyr of history.
THE PROPHECY OF RESTORATION.
As for the Jews themselves, to say how they long for restoration is hardly necessary. On the 9th of their month Ab, they fast for the destruction of their temple and the national calamities attending those events. There is not a morning or evening but what they pray, "Gather us together from the four parts of the earth;" "Restore our peoples as of old;" "Dwell Thou in the midst of Jerusalem," and these words are uttered in every city where the Jew is found-- that means throughout the world. Such constancy is almost beyond belief. Their patriotism is beyond all bounds, and to this day the Spanish Jew in all lands (even in this distant country), put some of the dust of Palestine or "tierra santa," as they call it, on the eyes of their dead--a pathetic evidence of their love for the sacred soil.
"When the railway reaches Jerusalem, [R615 : page 6] Messiah comes," alludes to Isaiah 66:20, where the prophet in his vision sees the exiles returning by all manner of conveyances, among them what he calls "kirkaroth." The English version translates it "swift beasts," which is, of course, too indefinite, or "dromedaries," which is certainly incorrect. Philologists are not wanting who derive the word from kar, "a furnace," and kar-kar "to sway,"--asserting that the prophet sought thus to coin a word for what was shown him in his vision, a train in rapid motion. "When Nicholas reigns redemption comes" is in allusion to Isaiah 63:4, from which verse Hebraists evolve, by what they term "Rashe Teboth," the sentence, "All Judah shall hear and behold the fall of Nicholas, emperor of Muscovy, on account of the oppression of the children of Judah, and after happening our fall will happen our real redemption, and near at hand for the children of Judah will be the good tidings of the Gishbite prophet." These and such as these are important inasmuch as they indicate Jewish thought.
THE LIBERTY OF THE SONS OF GOD.
At present none have liberty; the entire human race is under a fearful yoke of bondage. A bitter, relentless and merciless enemy holds the dominion, and leads his unwilling captives along the pathway of suffering down to the prison of death. By reason of this "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth together in pain." [R616 : page 6]
But the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for deliverance. Will it ever come? Six thousand years of tyranny and suffering has not obliterated earnest expectation and longing hope. All do not hope for deliverance because of the promise of God. With many the hope is begotten of desire. From the very earliest ages of history men have hoped for a "good time coming," a "Golden Age," in which a balm for life's various ills should be discovered. Groaning in pain, they waited and hoped, though they knew not, and know not yet, how their earnest expectation shall be more than realized. In some hope has almost died out in despair, or has become vague and uncertain; but believers in the Word of God, clinging to his promise, anxiously inquire, How long, O Lord, how long must we wait for its fulfillment? To this inquiry the inspired Apostle replies, that mankind must wait until the manifestation of the Sons of God; and the saints must wait until the entire "body" of Christ, of which they are members, is complete and adopted to the higher plane.
Again we inquire of Paul, Who are these sons of God, and how will they be manifested? His answer is that all those who are now led by the Spirit of God, and who have consequently received the spirit of adoption, are the sons of God, for whose manifestation the groaning creation waiteth (vs. 14,15). These adopted sons--adopted into the divine family, made partakers of the divine nature, and joint-heirs with Jesus--shall be manifested together with him. When he shall appear, then shall they also appear with him in glory. Col. 3:4.
For this glorious appearing of the divine sons and heirs of God the groaning creation must wait. But, thank God! we have the glorious message to bear that the manifestation and the blessing are just at hand. At present the world does not recognize the sons of God, for now they, in following the footsteps of their Lord, are as he was, despised and rejected of men. But shortly this will be reversed, and mankind will recognise their exaltation and glory. Already their Lord and head has come to gather and glorify his chosen ones.
The deliverance of the groaning creation, we are told, is to be into the same glorious liberty that these sons of God will then be enjoying. It will be a complete deliverance from the bondage of corruption. When all are fully delivered "there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away. Rev. 21:4.
It is the mistaken idea of some that deliverance into the liberty of the divine sons of God means a transforming into the same nature and condition. But deliverance, or liberty, has reference simply to a common bondage, in which both classes had been held, and from which both classes will be released, one class to the perfection of life as human beings, "a little lower than the angels," (Psa. 8:5,6), the other class to perfection of life in the divine nature--"so much better than the angels" (Heb. 1:4; 2 Pet. 1:4)--that is, the bondage of corruption, or death. As Jesus was delivered from the bondage of death, and as the church will be delivered from the bondage of death, so likewise will the whole creation be delivered from death. "Now Christ has been raised from the dead, a first-fruit of those having fallen asleep." And just as sure as the first-fruit came, so surely will all the after-fruits appear. All will enjoy the same liberty from death, and from all its accompanying distress and sorrow. All tears shall be wiped away.
But there is still something more implied in this expression, "the glorious liberty of the sons of God." It carries with it the idea that the liberty which God will grant will not be license to follow the bent of a depraved nature, but that it will be a blessed liberty from that depravity, and full freedom to follow the inclinations of a nature free from sin and in harmony with God, where the good of self and others will receive due and equal consideration. Surely that will be glorious liberty. Men sometimes call that liberty which is only Satan's license to trample on another's rights; but how different will be the glorious liberty of the sons of God! Though Jesus and his bride will be of the divine nature, while the mass of mankind will have a restitution to the perfection of the human nature, all will enjoy the same blessed liberty from the bondage of corruption (death), and the privilege of following the inclinations of their perfect being, which will be in harmony with and well pleasing to God.
One other statement of Paul in this connection--"The creature [mankind] was made subject to vanity [frailty-- Diaglott], not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope." (v. 20.) That is, God, through the penalty of Adam's transgression, placed the entire race under death's dominion and bondage--made them subject to it. Not that man willingly came under the control of his captor, death, but contrary to his will and choice, God put him under it as a penalty for transgression.
Yet it was not a hopeless bondage, for when God condemned and gave mankind into death's control, he planned his redemption and ultimate deliverance again to the former liberty--the liberty or freedom from death and pain which is the common privilege of all God's sons on every plane of being. In hope also that his experience under bondage would be of future benefit, and forever thereafter deter him from evil.
For this very purpose--the delivering of the groaning creation--the sons of God, now being prepared, are shortly to be exalted to that nature and consequent position of power, which will enable them to accomplish the glorious work-- a "RESTITUTION of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began."
MRS. C. T. R.
There is no use in putting up the motto, "God bless our home," if the father is a rough old bear, and the spirit of discourtesy and rudeness is taught by the parents to the children, and by the older to the younger. There is no use in putting up a motto, "The Lord will provide," while the father is shiftless, the mother is shiftless, the boys refuse to work, and the girls busy themselves over gew-gaws and finery. There is no use in putting up the motto, "The greatest of these is charity," while the tongue of the backbiter wags in that family, and silly gossip is dispensed at the tea-table. There is no use in placing up conspicuously the motto, "The liberal man deviseth liberal things," while the money clinks in the pockets of "the head of the household," groaning to get out to see the light of day. In how many homes are these mottoes standing--let us say hanging--sarcasms, which serve only to point a jest and adorn a satire! The beauty of quiet lives, of trustful, hopeful, free-handed, free-hearted, charitable lives, is one of surpassing loveliness, and those lives shed their own incomparable fragrance, and the world knows where to find them. And they shall remain fresh and fadeless when the colors of pigment and the worsted and the floss have faded, and the frames have rotted away in their joints.--Sel.
SPIRITUALISM AND THE CHURCHES.
Dr. Sprecher, while pastor of the First Presbyterian church in Oakland, Cal., preached against Spiritualism, or at least in such a manner that Spiritualists could not claim him as one of their fraternity. But a sermon of his on Sunday evening, February 24th, in Calvary church, San Francisco, of which he is pastor, presents him in quite another aspect. It is true that in this sermon, or lecture, as it was called, he speaks against spirit mediums and materializations; but Spiritualists will care little for that while he endorses and pleads for all that is essential to the existence and growth of Spiritualism. That we are correct in this statement every reader must admit who has any knowledge of Spiritualism and of the claims upon which it is based, when he reads the following, which we clip from the Chronicle's report of his lecture:
"The subject of Dr. Sprecher's lecture last evening was, 'Do the spirits of the departed revisit this world, and do they manifest themselves to men at this day?' There was, he said, an almost universal belief in an intermediate state of spiritual existence between death and the day of resurrection, during which period the soul was conscious, but in a different state from that upon which it would enter after the final judgment. This caused some doubt, but it was difficult to see the reason why. The Scriptures speak of angels and ministering spirits, and there are also instances mentioned therein of the spirits of the departed reappearing, while there is not a word which prevents a belief in the power of a spirit to revisit the earth if it so desired. The probabilities were all one way, and it was not at all unreasonable that if in the spirit world we retain the affection for those we leave behind, which we entertained while on earth, that we should desire to see them again. The speaker believed that the affections did not die with the body, and that our friends, either as disembodied spirits or as spirit bodies, may visit and minister to us. This belief was not Spiritualism, as the term is generally understood, and was not incompatible with Christianity, and a Christian who held such a belief should not fall into the error that he had [R617 : page 6] forsaken his faith and must therefore seek refuge in Spiritualism."
We record our emphatic denial of the assertion that the Scriptures give any instances of "the spirits of the departed reappearing," and we invite any one to point out to us the texts wherein such reappearing is supposed to be given. We will examine them in our columns for the benefit of our readers.
But, aside from this, we remark that the doctor is right in saying that the belief he announces is "not incompatible with Christianity"--as he and his associates understand Christianity. But we insist that it comprises all that is vital to the existence of Spiritualism. And Spiritualists would no doubt rather have the doctor remain in his church and bring up the members to a recognition of spirit intercourse and spirit ministration, than to leave the church and professedly "seek refuge in Spiritualism," where his influence in favor of the assumed facts of that belief would not be so great as it now is, as pastor of a popular orthodox church.
And Spiritualists will not care much for his avowed disbelief in the reliability of mediums. They are always ready to admit that there are impostors among the mediums, and this admission robs the doctor's indictment of its force. But when he claims that his statements will apply to all mediums, then they will confront him with some millions who oppose their observation and experience to his, many of whom have put the mediums to the severest tests, and are fully convinced that there was no collusion or trickery in the manifestations. We give the doctor's position on this point as reported:
"He then turned to the second head of his discourse, and said that whether or not spirits did manifest themselves at the present day, was a question of fact which could be put to the proof. The modern Spiritualists assert that they can materialize spirits, and volumes on the subject have been written by men of science and of no science. If such a thing were true, it was the most stupendous subject of the age. It was a subject to which the speaker had paid a great deal of attention, and after carefully following up the records of all the most celebrated mediums of the world, he was unable to recall one who had not, sooner or later, been proven a fraud. Whenever any one was bold enough to seize the materialized spirit, it had turned out to be either the medium or an accomplice. This had occurred so often that there was no room for doubt in the mind of any one that the whole thing was an imposture. Again, if a medium could call up the spirits of the mighty dead they could tell us something new; but, although the spirits of the great masters of poetry and prose, great scientists and inventors, have been time and again materialized, they seemed to have left all their genius behind them, and know no more than the least gifted of mortals. And this could not be laid to any lack of expression or want of education on the part of the medium, for a great as well as a small thought could be expressed in defective language."
Thousands upon thousands have with him concluded that "if such a thing were true, it was the most stupendous subject of the age." And the great majority, having a greater love for popular error than for unpopular Bible truth, will take the premises assumed and laid down by Dr. Sprecher, and logically conclude that the thing is true. We do not believe that mesmerism, psychology or clairvoyance can be explained upon natural principles. We are aware that professed scientists have their explanations of these things, but, as one said to us when closely questioned on the subject, "That is our theory of the matter; but whether or not it is true we cannot positively say." But the number who have heard inexperienced and illiterate mediums, while entranced, speak in language which they could by no means command in their normal condition, is so large that the last part of the paragraph quoted above will have no effect at this day in overthrowing their claims to "spirit inspiration." The following paragraph concludes the report. As it is a noteworthy discourse on the subject, we thus give the report in full:
"There were many who believed in Spiritualism because they saw wonders which they could not account for on natural principles. But that was simply folly, for no medium had ever performed tricks equal to those of the professional jugglers of India, who disclaimed the agency of any supernatural power. They are simply illusions. Mesmerism and clairvoyance and mind-reading, which are agencies of mediumism, are all explainable upon natural principles, as is also the belief that many persons have that they see spirits. Medical works abound in instances of the latter, and prove that it is the result of an abnormal condition of the system, and that these supposed visions can be produced by mechanical appliances. The speaker had no faith in the habitual appearance of spirits, but there was one case in which it did seem possible for the spirit of one to communicate with another--at the hour of death. Many instances have occurred where a person has been apprised of the death of some dear relative or friend in that manner, and the fact of the death and the very hour and minute has been subsequently [R617 : page 7] confirmed, together with the circumstances as they appeared at the time. The power of the mind and will of one upon another in close sympathy of thought and feeling was very great, and it was possible that the soul in its extreme experience might communicate with a kindred soul. These occurrences could not be coincidences. But this was not Spiritualism. The communications came direct without the aid of a medium. The speaker concluded by warning his hearers against the danger of being led into grave mistakes by listening to the advice of mediums, who are often in collusion with those who sought not their welfare."
We cannot think he has shown his reasoning powers to great advantage, according to this report. First, every probability, and facts of Scripture, he claims as proof in favor of the spirits of the departed reappearing. Then he states his belief that the interest of the departed in the welfare of the living is not lessened by their death. And next he attacks the mediums, clairvoyants and materializers as humbugs, and finally claims the possibility of one spirit communicating with another at the hour of death. But "possible" has no more place in this connection than in the other cases, as phenomena are presented under other circumstances which can be accounted for only by admitting their supernatural origin. And if his premises are correct, then all the phenomena shown by the most pretentious mediums may be true or genuine. To admit his premises is to admit the possibility of every claim of the Spiritualists to be just.
Not long since we saw the belief expressed by a writer that Bishop Bowman is a Spiritualist. We heard the Bishop speak of the presence and ministrations of his departed in such a manner as to lead us to believe that he was a full believer in Spiritualism; and his disclaimer, immediately made, did not change our opinion, if he meant just what his words expressed.
These positions of well-known ministers are the positions of hosts of ministers in the land who are making Spiritualism popular, and preparing the way for its general acceptance by the churches. The churches and the Spiritualists are drawing more closely together. In a "reception" recently given to a Mrs. Lord, in Boston, she said, as reported in the Banner of Light:
"She remembered that in the audience before her were some who had not yet seen their way clearly to accept the light which was shining upon the pathway of mortals to-day. But why should the Christian Church deny the possibility of present as well as past inspiration. Though human tongues fall out of speech, would immortal love send back no echo across the waves of death? Could he who promised the full harvest forget the weeping sower? If such a bridge as that of Brooklyn could be reared by feeble human means across the pulsing tides, could not angel-minds plan and spirit-workers build a bridge of communion over the soundless waters of death? Spiritualism came to take away no one's faith, but to give knowledge to each and all--to make assurance doubly sure that the course of human life is an upward one, and the chain of being stretches through an eternity of progress."
This profession that Spiritualism came to take away no one's Christian faith, but rather to give knowledge of that which before was only belief, is "a new departure" for Spiritualists, but they are all fast advancing to that position. All now claim that Spiritualism is a religion, while very many claim that it is the Christian religion perfected. This is their part of the "compromise," while the churches are admitting the return of the spirits of the dead, and their intercourse with mortals, which is all that Spiritualists ask them to admit, and the members are assured that they need not leave their communions because of their entertaining such belief. If anything more is needed to place the churches and Spiritualists on common ground, we cannot imagine what it is. These main points admitted, minor questions will settle themselves.
These things are not unexpected to us. He who knows "what is man," and "who knows the end from the beginning," has placed on record in the "sure word of prophecy" just such a state of things. Miracles to deceive, yet professing a pious intention, are plainly spoken of in Rev. 13 and 16, as being done in the last days. Our Saviour, in Matt. 24, and Paul in 2 Thess. 2, speak of these things, and all place these deceptions [R618 : page 7] just before the second advent of the Lord. Why, oh why, will not Bible readers and professed Bible believers look at these matters candidly, and accept the warning message which heaven sends for our instruction at this time? If the multitude will follow in the broad way, and choose darkness rather than light, we pray that God will give zeal and power in the proclamation of the message, that a little flock, a remnant, may accept it and receive the kingdom as their reward. (Luke 12:31-37.)--
THE TRADITION OF THE MEHDI.
Oddly enough Mohammedans are the most stubborn of adventists, looking forward with full assurance of faith to the second coming of Christ. Closely connected with this article of Moslem belief is the doctrine of the Mehdi, who is to prepare the way for the coming of Christ and is to assist him in conquering an evil world. The universal acceptance of this doctrine by all Moslems is the source of the attention now paid in the Moslem world to the claims of any adventurer who calls himself a Mehdi.
Since the fame of the rebel chief of the Soudan has extended to the ends of the earth, it may not be amiss to group together the principal traditions accepted among Moslems as to those last days of the earth, of whose approach the coming of the Mehdi is to be a sign.
The Koran forms but a small part of the basis of the Moslem faith. It is explained and extended by a vast array of reputed sayings of the Prophets. These traditional sayings are authenticated by a long chain of evidence, and have among most Moslems equal force with the Koran itself. It is in these traditions that one must look for the full details of the prophecies by which Moslems are taught to forecast the approach of the end of all things. It is true that the traditions are often conflicting and abound in wonders. A Moslem divine once said to me frankly: "I am ashamed to speak of these things; for when men set about making a religion they always forget that their work will be criticised." But the traditions are accepted by the masses in Turkey; and he who should openly reject them would be accounted as worse than a blasphemer. The traditions are the main source of the Moslem religion as expounded in Turkey.
Mohammed is reputed to have said that the world was already in its last period when he entered upon his ministry. "Comparing your times with the times of past revelations," he said, "your epoch is the time between mid-afternoon and sunset." The Jews had the morning, the Christians the noon, and to the Moslems was given the perilous period of the decline of light. The duration of the Moslem era is fixed by tradition at more than one thousand and less than fifteen hundred years.
These signs of the end are to be of gradual development. There will be an increase of ignorance among the people. The exposition of the holy law will decline and cease. Doctors of the law will be wicked and oppressive. The people will drink wine. Ignorant men will sit in high places and be accounted wise. The fool and the son of a fool will become a ruler of the people, and men will give bribes to be delivered from his wickedness. Men will obey their wives and disobey their parents. It can easily be seen that the time of the end cannot be far off if these are its signs. New Yorkers had best look around them as they read among other tokens that "very high houses will be built, and love for musical instruments will increase," in the wicked last days!
There will be so great a scarcity of honest men that every trustworthy man will be famous far and wide, and those who are accounted wise and brilliant will not possess the smallest atom of faith in God. The people will hate, and try to destroy all who speak the truth, and missionaries of Anti-Christ will preach, in all the world, lies acceptable to men. Finally, most terrible of all, women will become rebellious, and will begin to put various sorts of curious things on their heads, and will begin to wear tight-fitting dresses. We may, perhaps, agree with the pious old Moslem who, long years ago, grouped these "signs" together-- "My brethren, the most of these evil customs are already in full vigor among you."
But these lesser tokens only lead up to the greater signs, without which the end of the world will not come. Prominent among these greater signs is the appearance of the Mehdi, or "Guide." He will be of the family of the prophet and his name will be Mohammed, son of Abdulla. He will be a perfect man, full of holy knowledge, and he will come at a time when there is no longer a Caliph. This provision, by the way, the Soudan Mehdi avoids by declaring that the Turks are not true Mohamedans, and that, therefore, their Sultan cannot be recognized as Caliph. The Mehdi will become the center about whom all true believers will be grouped. He will himself believe that which is true in the faith of all religious sects, and all true people of God will be united in him without sectarian differences. All these people he will lead to Jesus Christ. For about the same time with the coming of the Mehdi, Moslems believe that Dejjal (Anti-Christ) will appear. Some seem to regard him as a beast, but the best authorities among the Turks declare that this Dejjal will prove to be a one-eyed Jew from Khorasan. On his forehead will be written the word Kiafir (blasphemer) in letters which all true believers--and they alone--can read. Seventy thousand Jews will follow after him, and he will go through the whole world, visiting all countries, during a space of forty days. It should be remarked, however, that of these forty days the first is to be as long as a year, the second as long as a month, the third as long as a week, and the rest each twenty-four hours long. During the time of this Dejjal Moslems expect that Jesus Christ will descend from heaven for a period of forty years. He will slay Dejjal with a javelin, and then the whole earth will be filled with righteousness. Neither man nor beast will any more know hate, but everywhere happiness and equality will reign. So shall begin the last stage of the earth's existence. Then other great signs and wonders will occur. Gog and Magog will overrun the earth, and by their oppression of the people of God will usher in the last day. Then they will be miraculously destroyed, and God's true people will be translated in the twinkling of an eye, so as to escape the horrors of the age of fire.
Such is the tradition of the Mehdi and its chronological importance to Moslems. In Turkey, pious souls point out that the demoralization of the people is fully up to the mark that has been foretold. Immorality is rife. Men are crushed for speaking the truth. The one fixed rule for business is fraud. Ignorant men are put in high places. Courts of the holy law sell their decrees to the highest bidder. Women are discontented with their state of subjection, and they hate the uncouth envelopes which the law forces upon them in the place of a graceful dress. The year 1300 of the Moslem era has passed. According to the traditions, the world has less than two hundred years to live, and it is high time for the Mehdi to come. With an eagerness that arises from sincere faith in these prophecies, the Moslems of Turkey watch every obscure man who seems inclined to rise up and become a leader of the people. Any such man they are ready to hail as the Mehdi, if they can find for their faith the shadow of an excuse.
There is something pitiful in the sight of these multitudes, conscious of hopeless corruption, so enervated that they have hope of renewal only in a direct intervention of God, and yet so convinced that this intervention can only be through some visible agency that they are content mutely to drift along just as they are rather than risk taking steps which might be disapproved by him that is to come. But pitiful as the spectacle [R619 : page 7] is, there is in it much to stir the Christian's heart.
The followers of the false prophet are at last arriving at an epoch in their history when they are taught to expect enlightenment through Jesus Christ. Discount, because of their wrong idea of Christ, all we choose from this expectation of the Moslems; allow for their supposition that Christ will come to enforce the Koran upon the nations; remember their firm hope that Christ's first act on earth will be to put to the sword all the Christians of the present day; modify the picture of the faith of these people by all such considerations, and still you have the fact that the waiting millions of Islam believe the time to be drawing near when Jesus shall teach them the truth. To the Christian there is something thrilling in the thought that even now the Moslem nations are anxiously watching for a "guide" to lead them to Christ.--H. O. Dwight, of Constantinople, in N.Y. Independent.
TENT-MAKING IN CORINTH.
Among the Jews in early times it was customary to teach all the children the full details of some useful calling.... And here now in a verse we learn that Saul of Tarsus had been reared to the trade of a tent-maker in his early years, and resumed it as an occupation when, as Paul the apostle, some necessities fell upon him to undertake the work of personal support. There will be profit in our contemplating him in this altogether new character as a working-man about his business.
I. Let us begin with a careful examination of the singular artisan life he lived in Corinth.
1. Our earliest point of notice is found in the fact that he chose a decent and reputable calling. This trade was an honorable one for the craft was composed of industrious citizens, and their products were useful and valuable. Now this explicity. Some occupations there are which no one can follow, and keep his Christian profession clean and clear. ...
2. Then we must observe that Paul sought consistent partners in his business. God guided him when he "found" such amiable people as Aquila and Priscilla already established there in the strange city...
3. But most of all, in these degenerate times of ours, we must notice that Paul pursued the work of his calling honestly. ...As this small, tired man sat there, in the midnight and the noon, sewing industriously till his feeble eyes ached with the overstrain, talking meanwhile with Aquila and his bright wife, we have not the slightest doubt that he always knotted his thread when he took up his needle, that he pulled each stitch through conscientiously as in the sight of God, and that he fastened the end of it when he finished the seam. For we do not see how those people could have had family prayers, unless they knew they had been "doing successful business on Christian principles."
4. Once more: we must observe that Paul held his business cautiously in hand. No doubt his tents brought excellent prices, and it is likely the trade increased. But he looked on tent-making as a means to an end; and he did not set himself just to gain money. He never let his business run away with him, or interfere with his religious life.
5. Hence, we are not surprised to discover that Paul used his opportunities wisely even when hardest at work. We do not suppose that Aquila and Priscilla were Christians previous to Paul's arrival at Corinth....Probably Paul was the instrument in their conversion. Think of the glorious talks they had together!
II. So now we reach a second question: What was the effect of this apostle's working at his trade upon his profession as a Christian preacher? We answer, It gave vast force to it.
1. For one thing, it illustrated his often-repeated maxims concerning the [R619 : page 8] dignity of honest labor. If an able-bodied follower of Jesus Christ refused to work, he had no right to eat. 2 Thess. 3:7-13. This vigorous and busy apostle evidently believed that there remained no room whatsoever for drones in a Christian hive....If any further illustration is needed than is furnished in these words already quoted, think of his address down there by the lonely seashore, when he bade farewell to the elders of Ephesus. Oh, how that scene rises on our minds! See the worn man as he stands there on the sands; every line on his face shows labor and care: he is true and genuine, and can be trusted. Acts 20:32-35.
2. But now let us lay alongside of this another consideration: Paul's tent-work in the shop of Aquila added immeasurable force to his ministry, because it removed all ground of cavil as to his making a gain out of godliness. There was some reason for his peculiar solitude in this vain and fastidious city; we know he did not refuse money sent him from other places. It is worth our while to ascertain exactly what was Paul's whole doctrine on this subject. 1 Cor. 9:4-14. We understand from a passage so extensive and so explicit as this that Paul never intended to prejudice the rights of others, or surrender his own. He instructed his young friend Timothy to preach on this point. 1 Tim. 5:17,18. But when indiscreet men caviled, Christians must avoid the very appearance of evil. So this cheerful-hearted preacher laid hold of his needle, pulled the silesia up over his knee, and went on sewing tent-coverings five days in each week. He afterwards told them frankly that he used some of the Philippians' gifts to him to help out that season. 2 Cor. 11:7-12. And he seems rather proud and glad as he tells them so.--
Chas. S. Robinson.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS.
April 13, 1884.
"DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--...The Apostle, in writing about the Lord's Supper, says: 'Ye shew the Lord's death till he come' (1 Cor. 11:26). And the Lord said: 'Do this in remembrance of me,' evidently meaning, Remember me in my absence. To me the inference seems strong that the commemoration should now cease, because the Lord is now present. What think you?"
Answer. A careful reading of Paul's words quoted above, with the context, fails to indicate to us any prohibition of the observance after the Lord has come and is present. On the contrary, the Apostle's argument here is, that when we break the loaf, etc., we show our communion or participation with Christ in death, as members of the one loaf, the one body. Hence it is quite proper that we should, so long as we are in the flesh, and so long therefore as the sufferings of the body of Christ are not ended, and the measure of his afflictions not filled, it is both proper for us to fill them up and share the cup, and also to symbolize it.
Concerning our Lord's words, "Do this in remembrance of me," we do not think he meant, remember me during my absence. He was present at the first supper, and if it be improper to remember his death except during his absence, it was equally improper to remember it before his absence.
What Jesus did mean we think was this: The Passover as a type and a part of the law shall surely have a fulfillment. The fulfilling of it is now commencing. I am the anti-type of the lamb that was slain and eaten, and every other feature must be fulfilled--the entire type will be fulfilled when the kingdom of God shall have fully been established; when you, all my disciples who follow me, as parts of the first-born, shall be passed over, delivered from death, in the resurrection. Therefore, as oft as you eat this-- commemorate the Passover--look beyond the type and realize in me the anti-type of the lamb. Do this in remembrance of me, and no longer in remembrance of the typical lamb.
Q. Are Enoch and Elijah dead or living?
A. Of Enoch very little is told us, except that he walked with God (Gen. 5:24), and that God revealed to him some things relative to the kingdom of God, will be seen by reference to Jude 14:15. Gen. 5:24 tells us that "he was not [found], for God took him;" and Heb. 11:5 proves that he did not die. How, or where, God took him, or for what purpose, is not revealed. This seems to be one of the secret things which Moses says belong unto God. Deut. 29:29.
Elijah, we are told, went up by a whirlwind into heaven. The word here translated heaven is shamayim, meaning "heaved up," or "high things." It is sometimes applied to the firmament or region of the air (Gen. 1:8), and sometimes to the throne of God. When the latter is referred to, the term "heaven of heavens" is frequently used. (1 Kings 8:27.) We must judge of its meaning in this case by its harmony with other Scriptures. Jesus, after his resurrection, went to heaven, the throne of God; but John says (chap. 3:13), "No man hath ascended up to heaven but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man." Hence we must conclude that the atmospheric heavens were the heavens into which Elijah ascended.
It is nowhere stated that Elijah did not die; and that he ascended into the air until lost to sight does not prove that [R620 : page 8] he did die. Neither does the vision on the mount of transfiguration prove that he is, or was then alive, since that was only a vision--as Jesus said, "See thou tell the vision to no man." As Elijah was a type of the Church, his ascension was also typical of the ascending bride, soon to meet her Lord in the air--not the literal air: air is symbolic of the universal kingdom. Heretofore Satan has been the prince of the power of the air; now Christ has come to reign, and Satan will shortly be dethroned. Soon the overcoming Church, being changed from human to spiritual conditions, will meet her Lord in the kingdom.
What became of Elijah's body we do not know, neither do we know what became of the body of Moses. Things not revealed belong to God.
Q. A class of people called Sabbath or Seventh-day keepers, claim that the Roman Catholic Church established the First day of the week as a substitute for the seventh. Is this true?
A. The claim of Romanists in this matter as in others, stands or falls with their other claim, that their Church was established in the first century by the Apostles--Peter being their first Pope. All this we deny, and claim that the Church whose "names were written in heaven," was the original and only Church established or recognized by the Apostles, and that is OUR CHURCH. Romanism was an apostasy from OUR CHURCH, as are also all other sects. As to the observance of the first day by our Church in early days and the teachings of the Apostles on the subject (who are the STANDARDS of our Church,) see article "The Ten Commandments," in the October, 1883, issue. So, then, if the early Church was the Church of Rome, then they say truly, but if not, the claim that SHE instituted the change from the Seventh to the First day, Sabbath, is false like many others she puts forth.
LIFE AT HOME.
For all of us our life at home must constitute a great part of that life in which, by patient continuance in well-doing, we have to seek for glory, honor and immortality; for many of us it practically constitutes the whole.
There are millions of women, millions of girls, to say nothing of little children, who have no life worth speaking of beyond the boundaries of the family. Whatever fidelity to God, whatever love for Christ, whatever justice, whatever kindness, generosity and gentleness they are to illustrate in their spirit and conduct must be illustrated there. And even men who have their business and their profession to follow during the greater part of the day find occasion in their home-life for forms of well-doing and ill-doing that are not possible elsewhere. I like a broad and rich life for myself--full of varied interests; and I should like to see the lives of most men, and of most women too, animated by the inspiration and refreshed by the free air of activities and interests outside their own home. But no shining achievements elsewhere can palliate the guilt of coldness, injustice, ill-temper in the family; and the noblest public virtues have roots in the gentleness, the industry, of self-sacrifice and the truthfulness of which only those who are nearest to us have any knowledge.
IMPORTANCE OF BEING ABLE TO DESPISE RIDICULE.
I know of no principle which it is of more importance to fix in the mind than that of the most determined resistance to the encroachments of ridicule. Give up to the world, and to the ridicule with which the world enforces its dominion, every trifling question of manner and appearance? It is to toss courage and firmness to the winds to combat with the mass upon such subjects as these. But learn from the earliest days to insure your principles against the perils of ridicule; you can no more exercise your reason, if you live in the constant dread of laughter, than you can enjoy your life if you are in the constant terror of death. If you think it right to differ from the times, and to make a stand for any valuable point of morals, do it, however rustic, however antiquated, however pedantic it may appear; do it, not for insolence, but seriously and grandly, as a man who wore a soul of his own in his bosom, and did not wait till it was breathed into him by the breath of fashion. Let men call you mean, if you know you are just; hypocritical, if you are honestly religious; pusillanimous, if you feel you are firm; resistance soon converts unprincipled wit into sincere respect; and no aftertime can tear from you those feelings which every man carries with him who has made a noble and successful exertion in a virtuous cause.--Bible Banner.
WESLEY ON DRESS.
If you could be as humble when you chose rich apparel (which I flatly deny) yet you could not be as beneficent, as plenteous in good works. Therefore every shilling which you needlessly spend on your apparel, is in effect stolen from the poor! For what end did you want these ornaments? To please God? No!--but to please your own fancy or to gain the admiration and applause of those who were no wiser than yourself. If so, what you wear you are in effect tearing from the back of the naked; and the costly and delicate food you eat, you are snatching from the mouth of the hungry. For mercy, for pity, for Christ's sake, for the honor of His Gospel, stay your hand! Do not throw this money away. Do not lay out on nothing, yea, worse than nothing, what may clothe your poor, naked, shivering fellow-creatures.
Many years ago, when I was at Oxford, on a cold winter's day, a young maid (one of those we keep at school), called upon me. I said, "You seem half-starved. Have you nothing to cover you but that thin gown?" She said, "Sir, this is all I have." I put my hand in my pocket, but found no money left, having just paid away what I had. It struck me, "Will thy Master say, 'Well done good and faithful steward. Thou hast adorned thy walls with the money which might have screened this poor creature from the cold.' O justice! O, mercy! are not these pictures the blood of the poor maid? See their expensive apparel in the same light; thy gown, hat, head-dress!"
Everything about thee which costs more than Christian duty required thee to lay out, is the blood of the poor! O! be wise for the time to come. Be more merciful; more faithful to God and man; more abundantly clad (like men and women professing godliness) with good works. I conjure you all who have any regard for me, before I go hence, that I have not labored, even in this respect, in vain, for near half a century.
Let me see, before I die, a Methodist congregation full as plainly dressed as a Quaker congregation; only be more consistent with yourselves. Let your dress be cheap as well as plain. Otherwise you do but trifle with God and me, and your own souls. I pray let there be no costly silks among you, how grave soever they may be. Let not any of you who are rich in this world endeavor to excuse yourself from this by talking nonsense.
It is stark, staring nonsense to say, "Oh, I can afford this or that!" If you have regard to common sense, let that silly word never come into your mouth. No man living can afford to throw away any part of that food or raiment into the sea, which was lodged with him on purpose to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. And it is far worse than simple waste to spend any part of it in gay or costly apparel.
For this is no less than to turn wholesome food into deadly poison. It is giving so much money to poison both yourself and others as far as your example spreads, with pride, vanity, anger, lust, love of the world, and a thousand "foolish and hurtful desires" which tend to "pierce them through with many sorrows." O God, arise and maintain thy own cause! Let not men and devils any longer put out our eyes and lead us blindfold into the pit of destruction.-- Sermon by John Wesley.
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