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VOL. IX. ALLEGHENY, PA., JUNE, 1888. NO. 10.
ZION'S WATCH TOWER and Herald of Christ's Presence
ROCK OF AGES
Other foundation can
no man lay
A RANSOM FOR ALL
"Watchman, What of the Night?" "The Morning Cometh, and a Night also!" Isaiah 21:11
TOWER PUBLISHING COMPANY.
No. 151 Robinson St., Allegheny, Pa.
C. T. RUSSELL, EDITOR.
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 FREE. Including special number (Millennial Dawn, Vol. I., paper bound) seventy five cents. Remit by draft, P.O. Money Order, or Registered Letter, payable to C. T. RUSSELL.
Three shillings per year. Including "Special Number," four shillings. Remit by Foreign Postal Money Order.
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.
Entered as SECOND CLASS MAIL MATTER, at the P.O., Allegheny, Pa.
PLENTY of Missionary Envelopes now: 25 for 10cts. or 100 for 35cts. or 300 for $1.00. "Tell the whole world the blessed tidings."
"ARP TRACTS" FREE, in any quantity, postage paid by us, to those who will promise a proper distribution of them. In ordering say what quantity you can judiciously use.
THE CHURCH at Allegheny City, still meets every Lord's-day in the "upper room" No. 101 Federal St. We have a general class for Bible study at 2:30 P.M. and preaching at 3:30 P.M. Brother Zech addresses the German friends in the same place at 10:30 A.M. Friends of the cause are always very welcome and are requested to make themselves known before or after service.
DAWN TO COLPORTEURS.
By the name Colporteurs, we designate those noble Brethren and Sisters, who leaving other pursuits, and other forms of ministry, are devoting all their time to spreading the truth, in that form which has been most successful--namely selling the paper bound edition of MILLENNIAL DAWN Vol. I. To enable this work to go on largely, it was found necessary to reduce the price of the book to the popular price of 25cts. per copy--for any quantity.
In order to provide for the expenses of these Colporteurs an allowance of 10cts. per copy was made to them as "expense money" from the TOWER TRACT FUND. (A general fund consisting of voluntary donations of those who have themselves been blessed by the truth, for the spread of the same in any and every way). And this allowance or discount of 10cts. for expense was afterward extended to others who do not and cannot give all their time to this kind of preaching but who give some one day each week or an hour or so each day; and also to some whose special opportunities are favorable to loaning and giving away the books, but not for selling.
Experience has proved that many of those who give all their time to the work and depend on the expense money entirely, cannot make it meet all their expenses of travel, lodging, clothing, food, etc. Some, very desirous of rendering this service of the truth and who tried it, have been obliged, in order to "provide things honest in the sight of all," to go at other work on this account and give but the fragments of their time, instead of all, to the work with which their hearts are filled. For this reason the TRACT SOCIETY has decided to hereafter allow all those Colporteurs (who are devoting all of their time to the work) to have 12-1/2cts. per copy, but others not devoting all their time, 15cts. per copy. These special terms are however restricted to such persons as are subscribers to Z.W. TOWER, as it costs us extra postage to all who are not subscribers.
We trust that this arrangement will enable a larger number than ever to give all their time in the work. The harvest is truly great, but the laborers are comparatively few. While praying the Lord of the harvest for more laborers, let us all do with our might what our hands find to do.
We receive many suggestions about tracts. Many readers wish that they had something that in few words would state clearly the truth on all subjects. We attempt no such brief statement of so large a subject, knowing it would be unwise. Because with the many errors and prejudices filling the hearts and minds of God's children, such condensed food would be too strong. So long as prejudice remains the truth seems ungainly and unreasonable, and only a gradual meeting of the objections and a gradual showing of the beauty and reasonableness of the truth, can bring conviction and overthrow the power of prejudices favoring papal errors received in early training and supported by popular sentiment.
For this reason we purposely avoid all such condensed statements, knowing from experience that they never convert any from error to the truth. They would appear strong and incontrovertible and convincing to you, because your eyes are opened, but to others whose eyes are closed they would merely seem to be another creed--your opinion added to the general confusion already existing.
We believe, and to us experience proves, that the plan we do pursue is the best; namely to treat God's Plan of the Ages comprehensively and connectedly, as for instance in DAWN VOL. I., and to use something brief and pointed like the "Arp Tracts," which implies much but does not attempt to present the proofs, to call attention to and introduce DAWN to such as have an ear to hear.
Those whose interest is not awakened by reading this little tract, are too fast asleep to do anything with at present-- the political, financial and ecclesiastical thunderings of the "day of wrath" and the crashing and falling of Great Babylon will awaken them and liberate them by and by,--then they will be interested.
Those whose interest is sufficiently awakened and who are honest enough to concede the inconsistency of their own and other so-called "orthodox" views, will get DAWN and read it and be blessed and comforted, and truly turned from the darkness of error to God's light of truth. The dishonest, who like the Pharisees of old, say that they see, when in their hearts they know that they are "blind, and cannot see afar off" and can neither understand nor apologize for the character and plan of God which they profess to believe and call great and grand,--these are not now worthy of the truth which is only for the truth-hungry. By and by they will get honest enough to receive the truth or else be cut off in the second death as those who make and love a lie.--Rev. 21:27; 22:15.
In this matter of tracts, as well as in all things, our zeal should be according to knowledge, and we should as our Lord said, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Wise in our doing of good, as the serpent is crafty for evil.
For similar reasons we prefer to use special numbers of the TOWER, and thus introduce the reader to several phases of truth, rather than publish special articles as tracts as some occasionally suggest.
VIEW FROM THE TOWER.
Some of our readers may have felt that the View in last month's TOWER was too severe an arraignment of the land-lord system of the old world, that we should not have intimated that the majority at least of the present aristocratic land-holding class are the descendants of robbers who took the land from the people.
We feel however that we did not draw too dark a picture of the injustice; and in fact that the truth on the subject is rarely stated for fear of offending those high in influence, or their friends. It may be claimed by some that the peasantry were more happy years ago when they were without educational advantages, ignorant, etc., and virtually bought and sold with the land. This may be true in many instances, and so too, no doubt, many of the negroes once slaves in the United States were happier and better provided for in slavery, than now that they are their own masters. But the principle involved is that the freedom is needful to the development of the human mind and of self-control and progress in general toward the true ends of human existence.
We were reasoning of righteousness, not of temporary expediency as viewed by narrow minds from a selfish standpoint. We reasoned too, of "judgment to come," and that speedily now, for we are in the beginning of the great Day of Judgment --the Millennial age, in which judgment shall be laid to the line, and righteousness to the plummet (Isa. 28:17); in which, too, the unjust shall receive a just recompense there-for. Though it may be claimed for the masses, that "ignorance was bliss," it can be claimed no longer. Soon this and similar wrongs will bring the great time of trouble foretold in Scripture. Let all the saints scrutinize closely, every act of dealing and relationship with each other and with the world; let us make certain that justice prevails in every instance--that we do to others not differently from what we would wish them to do to us if our places were changed--making sure to err, if at all, on the side of benevolence. And if we are among those suffering injustice, we, above all others, must be patient and forbearing, not seeking to recompense evil for evil, but call to mind the words of the Apostle --Avenge not yourselves dearly beloved but rather let your wrath give place to sympathy and pity, remembering that it is written, "Vengeance is mine I will repay saith the Lord." Our condition is far different from that of the poor world. If we suffer losses or injustice in earthly matters, let us remember that to us those things are already counted "loss and dross." (Phil. 3:8.) We have our real [R1038 : page 1] heart-treasures, grand and precious reserved in heaven for us; we have the comfort of the Scriptures, while they have naught but earthly joys and comforts in the present life, and often few of them (and often fears for the everlasting future) and no wonder if they cling to their little all, and sometimes try and get yours and feel restless. We can well afford to be patient indeed. And patience in earthly matters on the part of the consecrated, will go far toward impressing the hearts and watering the seeds of truth concerning God's glorious Plan of the Ages, which from time to time we may be able to drop into aching hearts.
Our statement of last month that the few hold the titles to the lands of the old world is amply borne out, by an exhaustive and able article entitled "Landed Income and Landed Estate," in the London [R1038 : page 2] Quarterly Review. It gives very full statistics relative to the ownership of the soil of Great Britain and Ireland, showing that three-fourths of the land is owned by 58,170 persons, showing an average of 6,576 acres to each person. These figures include none with a less acreage than 380 acres, and twelve thousand of them average over 16,000 acres each. And from such facts the writer draws the sensible conclusion:--"It is of importance to the country, and of pressing importance to landlords, if they wish to be secure from confiscation and pillage in the future, that the land-owning class should be increased."
We print below a clipping from the Pittsburgh Times, referring to the eviction of some of the poor of Scotland, which is valuable, as showing that worldly men no less than ourselves see these wrongs and are bold enough to speak the truth on the subject. Alas! that self-interest should close the eyes and mouths of so many. [R1038 : page 2]
MEN WHO HAVE NO RIGHTS.
"Twenty-five families of honest Scotch people, escorted by Highland pipers, playing funeral dirges, to the ships which were to take them into exile! That was a picture presented at a port in the Hebrides, and is a striking example of the workings of the British land system. These people were not sent into exile for any crime, but simply because they could not pay the rent demanded for the land stolen from their ancestors.
"In the Scotch Highlands we see the system of a landed aristocracy in its worst forms. Under the old clan system the land belonged to the tribe and was divided afresh at the accession of each new chief, the chief taking his share like the other members, but exacting nothing from his subjects but civil obedience and military service. After the second Jacobite rebellion in 1745 the process of dissolution of the old clans, which had already begun, was completed. The chief was transformed into the landlord, the land of the clan into his property, and the members of the clan into his tenants. Under the old system a man who was disabled from personal service in war paid for exemption in cash or in kind. These payments under the new system became the rule and were called rent. Thus the landlord system was established.
"The old independent chieftains, living in simplicity with their clans as with a big family, were now transformed into bewigged autocrats, fluttering around the court in London and only going to their Scotch estates to hunt in the autumn. Those estates were left in charge of stewards, whose fidelity was measured by the amount of rent they could grind out of the tenants. As the rage for hunting increased the landlords came to consider their Scotch estates valuable only as shooting preserves, and they frequently leased their shooting rights to rich Englishmen.
"Then began the "clearing" of these estates, in which the Duke of Sutherland was the first. Wide valleys and hillsides dotted with the dwellings of the humble crofters were cleared of their human habitations and again made into a wilderness whose only inhabitants were deer and grouse, pheasants and foxes. The most productive use to which the land was put was sheep raising. The human inhabitants were driven off to America and the colonies, or to the sea-port towns, where they gained a miserable subsistence by fishing. Some refused to leave the homes where their ancestors had dwelt for centuries. Their dwellings were burned from over their heads and the bailiff drove them out. Thus, while the American backwoodsman was clearing away the forest from the fertile plains and bringing them under the domain of man, the British landlord was clearing away the human inhabitants of the Highland valleys and making them again a howling wilderness, where only the wild beasts roamed.
"Of late years the growth of population has created such a demand for the small patches of lands which the lords still left their tenants to live on, that their rents have steadily risen until the crofters could not force a subsistence from the soil. Then they refused to pay the rent, resisted those who came to exact payment and were only dragooned into submission by military force. But popular sympathy had been aroused on their behalf throughout the British Empire, and their few champions in Parliament demanded that the law should be changed so that such abominations might cease. The Tory Government said it could not do this, but admitted that the case of the crofters was a hard one and made an appropriation to enable them to emigrate to Manitoba. Those twenty-five families who left the Hebrides to the mournful music of the bag-pipes were the first of the exiles. They leave the homes of their ancestors to carve out new homes in the wilderness and leave the land, which, according to their old laws belongs to them, in possession of the robbers whom the English Government protects.
"What feelings towards the English Government will these people carry into exile? Will their hearts be burning with loyalty to Queen Victoria because her Government paid their expenses, or will they be burning with hatred against the country which exiles the poor and industrious to feed the vices of the rich and lazy?"
EXTRACTS FROM INTERESTING LETTERS.
Macedonia European Turkey.
MY DEAR BRO. IN CHRIST:--My hands are filled with work. Many here are interested in the truth. Am preaching now in Bulgarian, which is a Turkish language. During the three weeks that passed, I had from 150 to 200 hearers, and many others came while there was no room to receive them. I rented a larger house for meetings and I expect to have three more houses where I can preach the truth.
Turks, Jews, Bulgarians and Macedonians are much interested in the truth. Pray for us in Macedonia.
From Bulgaria I had calls to go and preach the "one faith," with the "one hope." In Sophia, the Capital city of Bulgaria, I have baptized two.
Reynolds Co., Mo.
MY DEAR BROTHER:--Please indulge me, a little. I had a copy of "ZION'S WATCH TOWER" (Oct. 1886) handed me the other day by Mr. Cobb. I am wonderfully well pleased with it. It has brought certain strange things to my eyes, that I have been for years desiring to look into. I have toiled many long years as a minister under the Baptist banner. The more I study the Scriptures, and the better I understand Baptist Theology and discipline, the less I esteem them.
For years I have fought the palpable, absurd and inconsistent doctrine of eternal punishment. I am now 71 years old and unable to work; but thank God, I can talk yet, if I can't work; and when I speak, I wish to speak the truth; but feel confident I cannot do it under my confused conditions. I need a kind hand to lead me out. If you please send me the TOWER, I will use it to the best of my ability, and will undertake to pay you for it during the year.
D. M. Lee.
DEAR BRO. IN CHRIST:--I have long desired to write to you, and I can no longer refrain, feeling assured that you will be glad to hear from those who have participated in the celebration of the Passover of the Lamb. There were only three of us--and three others were present.
A solemn awe seemed to pervade every soul present, and the intervals of silence seemed audible with the words--God is here. I never felt before how deep the significance of this ordinance. One gentleman, who was present, afterwards remarked he had never witnessed such an impressive service of the Lord's supper. I am told, he seems awakening to a knowledge of the Truth.
I have absented myself from the Christian church of which I am a member, for many months, and shall soon ask that my name be erased from its books. The "FOOD" and "TOWERS" supplied me by my friend, Mrs. Foster, and the "DAWN" presented me by Mrs. Turner, came to a hungry, thirsty, and deeply bereaved soul. I had already turned from the world, from whence all I loved best, seemed to have been rudely taken away. I was reaching out in the darkness, trying to trust in the terrible God which Orthodoxy had presented; and I think I did trust. But these precious books discovered to me such perfect harmony in the sacred Record, such beauty in God's great Plan, such boundless love for all his creatures, having actually planned to bring every soul into the full light of the Gospel--if not in this age, then in the next, when Christ and his saints will come in power and glory to "perfect" them. My poor father, clinging to human traditions, is much perplexed, when I ask him, to whom the call is given? and why God made the promise to Abraham, that "in his seed, all the families of the earth should be blessed," without making any exception or qualification?
He makes much ado about my "fatal mistakes," but he will not always be thus blind, and I can wait, feeling sure it will not now be long,"When the shadows, weary shadows,
Shall forever pass away."
MRS. S. C. H__________.
BRO. RUSSELL:--Please send 80 DAWNS as soon as convenient. Send all the Arp slips you can spare. I inclose twelve dollars ($12.00). I have sold 73 of the 120 sent. Among the buyers are three men who represent their counties in the state capitol, two M.D.'s, two Lawyers, three or four Infidels, one General and Ex-Governor, two Baptist ministers, two Methodist ministers and one Presbyterian minister. One of the Methodist preachers told me he would not part with his book for fifty dollars and be forced to do without. Although he has read from his boyhood days until he is a white haired man, he never saw or read a book so full of information. Some of the Infidels have said, that it is the clearest and most powerful reasoning they ever saw. They have been close readers and had been for a time close students of Ingersol's lectures. I take each name and address carefully so that I may know who to visit specially when VOL. II. is ready. The Lord bless you my brother.
J. C. G__________.
C. T. RUSSELL. DEAR SIR:--A year has passed since I had the joy of reading the first No. of the Z.W. TOWER, and ever since I have desired to write you a few lines, and more so after reading "MILLENNIAL DAWN." I was born in Iceland, but came to Copenhagen [Denmark] when a boy , and to America 1880. I was brought up a Lutheran, but was converted in 1884, and ever since I have been an honest seeker of the truth. I prayed the dear Lord to send me light, that I might know his way; and I thank God, my eyes have been opened, to behold his wondrous truth. All the glory and praise be to him. I am not able to pen the feelings of my heart, but I am glad to say that I am at the Master's feet learning from him.
I had the pleasure of being at two of Bro. Blundin's meetings in Brooklyn. It was a feast to my soul. I feel that God wants me to tell the "good tidings of great joy" to all whom I know, but so few will [R1039 : page 2] accept of it.
[It refreshes our hearts to get such letters of rejoicing in the light of truth. How surely the truth is reaching the truth-hungry of every nationality! The Master's words (Matt. 5:6) are proved true by almost every mail. We cannot tell you how much we should enjoy answering every such letter, if time and the general welfare of the Lord's work permitted. We are glad to read your letters, though we cannot answer each separately. Accept the TOWER articles as our answers to your welcome letters please.--EDITOR.] page 2
Oceana Co., Mich.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--I have just finished the canvass of the village of Hart, and I write this to let you know the result. I sold 32 copies of paper bound MILL. DAWN. I am not proud of my success as a canvasser. I expected to make a better showing, but at the same time I am thankful to be able to do something, be it ever so little, for the Master. I am in hopes it may be the means of bringing into the field some more laborers who will be more and better fitted than I am to perform harvest work. I have been greatly cheered while going from house to house, by realizing more clearly that in this way I am privileged to preach the glad tidings to the meek, "to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound," etc.
Glory to Jesus, this is indeed the everlasting Gospel that is to be preached under the whole heaven.
At Hart I discovered that another laborer had been in the field before me. I learned that he was a peddler by trade. He had only a cloth bound sample with him, and took some orders to be delivered in June. When I got back to M. I met him and introduced myself, and the acquaintance was pleasurable to us both. He told me that he had got the book from a friend in New Buffalo, and becoming convinced of its truth, he, in connection with his regular business, takes what orders he can. He apologized for working on my territory, but I assured him I was glad to know that the Lord had sent another laborer in this part of the field, and wished him God speed in his labors. He impressed me as being a true brother in Christ. He has his book well marked and underlined, and says it is worth its weight in gold. I advised him to procure some of the paper bound DAWN, and I hope he will.
Praise the Lord his work is bound to increase and multiply. When a man becomes filled with the true spirit of the Gospel, he cannot keep still about it, but wherever he goes he tells the grand old story. I enclose order for $4.50 for 30 more books less expense money.
TOWER PUBLISHING CO.--Gentlemen: For a quarter of a century I have looked with no very limited degree of apprehension to the coming of the present social troubles, as the inevitable result of cause and effect; and have long believed that this turmoil and strife would be the birth-throes of the good time coming. With an anxious desire to look into these things, I have threaded the meanderings of various not well defined theories, broken here and there by the inconsistent and absurd; but the labyrinthian mysteries of God's plan in its beauty of conception, wisdom of design, harmony of operation, and grandeur of results, are followed and mapped out in the "Plan of the Ages," as set forth in "MILLENNIAL DAWN," more in accord with the inspired writings, and more consistent with that plan's component parts, than in any work I have read.
THE CHURCH OF GOD."Zion, arise, break forth in songs
Of everlasting joy;
To God eternal praise belongs,
Who doth thy foes destroy.
Thou Church of God, awake, awake,
For light beams from on high;
From earth and dust thy garments shake,
The glory's drawing nigh.
"To raise thee high above the earth,
God will his power employ;
He'll turn thy mourning into mirth,
Thy sorrow into joy.
In shining robes thyself array,
Put on thy garments pure;
Thy king shall lead thee in the way,
That's holy, safe and sure.
"In thee, the Lord shall place his name,
And make thee his delight,
And place on thee a diadem,
Divinely fair and bright;
And thou shalt be the dwelling place
Of him that reigns above.
Yes, thou shalt be adorn'd with grace
And everlasting love.
"The joy of nations thou shalt be;
A bright and shining light;
For God is in the midst of thee,
To keep thee day and night.
He'll bring thy wandering children home,
And gather those without;
And with a wall of jasper stone,
Will guard thee round about.
"Arise, O Zion, praise thy King,
And make his name thy trust;
With joy and triumph loudly sing;
For he is true and just.
O Zion, sing with truthful voice,
Thy great Redeemer's praise;
In his almighty power, rejoice
Throughout eternal days."
One who has read, evidently with care, the articles "About Hell" which appeared in the Jan., Feb. and March TOWERS of this year, and who seems convinced of the falsity of the ideas generally attached to the translations where the word hell occurs in our common versions of the Bible, writes to us thus:--
Suppose that you are right in all that you say about the meaning of the original Greek and Hebrew words translated hell in our English Bibles; suppose that, as you show, those original words never meant, nor were intended to convey the idea of a place of everlasting torment, is there not proof of such a punishment for the wicked in other Scriptures aside from this word hell entirely? For instance, consider the statement of our Lord in Matt. 25:41 and 46. Even if we shall admit that, as you claim, that parable of the Sheep and Goats applies to the Millennial age, "when the Son of man shall come in his glory and sit upon the throne of his glory," and even though we admit your claim, that the separating between the sheep and goats is a gradual work which progresses throughout that thousand-year-day of Judgment, or trial; after admitting all that, as we must, does it not seem evident from verses 41 and 46 that the finally incorrigible will be tormented forever, some place? No matter how much our finer sensibilities might revolt at the thought, must we not in candor admit that our Lord taught this in these verses, and also in Rev. 20:10?
I am acquainted with the Greek, and know that the words rendered "everlasting" and "eternal" in Matt. 25:41,46 are from the Greek root aion, and I admit that it does not always mean never ending like our English word everlasting, but rather has the meaning of lasting without the ever: but, in this case, verse 46 shows the lasting life of the righteous or sheep class in contrast with the lasting punishment of the wicked or goat class; and the contrast seems to teach that the punishment of the one class will be as long lasting as the reward of the other. If I fail to reason correctly in this, I pray you in God's name help me: for I desire the truth and the truth only, and fain would if I could, see that everlasting torture is no part of the divine plan and that it is not taught in the Word of God. Your articles on hell are powerful and almost convincing; and if this my last objection, can be cleared away thoroughly, I shall praise God and worship Him as never before.
It affords great pleasure to answer one so evidently honest; and seeing you are hungering and thirsting after truth, we make no doubt that the answer to your questions will be satisfactory and conclusive, God helping us.
We are glad to note that the Brother has the correct understanding of the Greek word aionios, that it means lasting; but we shall take no advantage of this and for arguments sake shall treat it as meaning everlasting,--unending punishment to the one class and unending life to the other.
The everlastingness of the punishment being thus quickly disposed of, it leaves only one point open for discussion, namely, of what sort or kind will the punishment be? Take your Concordance and search out what saith the great Judge regarding the punishment of willful sinners who despise and reject all his blessed provisions for them through Christ? What do you find? Does God there say,--All sinners shall live in torture forever? We do not find a single text where life in any condition is promised to that class, but on the contrary, we do find scores of passages which in so many words declare that the punishment of this class will consist in the blotting out of their existence in the second death. Those who, after the full opportunities of the Millennial Kingdom, fail to conform themselves to the law of the spirit of life, cannot have life at all. God's declarations assure us that he will have a clean universe, free from the blight of sin and sinners, when the plan of redemption has separated the sheep from the goats.
But while we do not find one verse of the Bible to say that this class can have life in torment or in any other condition, we do find hosts of passages teaching the reverse. Of these we merely give a few as samples--"The wages of sin is death." (Rom. 6:23.) "The soul that sinneth it shall die." (Ezek. 18:4,20.) "All the wicked will God destroy." (Psa. 145:20.) The wicked shall "perish," shall be as though they had not been, etc. (Psa. 37:20; Job 10:19.) Thus God has told us plainly of what sort the everlasting punishment of the wicked shall be--that it will be death, destruction; and He never said one word about a life of punishment.
The false ideas of God's plan of dealing with the incorrigible taught us from our cradles, ever since the great "falling away" came, which culminated in Papacy, is alone responsible for the view generally held, that the punishment provided for willful sinners is a life of torture, in the face of the many clear statements of God's word that their punishment is to be death. Hear Paul state very explicitly what the punishment is to be. Speaking of the same Millennial Day, and of the same class, who despite all the favorable opportunities and the fullness of knowledge then, will not come into harmony with Christ, and hence will know not God and obey not, He says--"Who shall be [R1040 : page 3] punished." Ah yes! but how punished? pray tell us Paul. And Paul does tell us how: They "shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power." --2 Thes. 1:9.
Thus the meaning and reasonableness of this statement concerning everlasting punishment, is readily seen when we look at it from the correct standpoint. The fire of the parable by which the punishment [destruction] is to be accomplished, will not be literal fire, for it is as much a symbol as the sheep and the goats are symbols. Fire here as elsewhere symbolizes destruction, and never in any sense preservation.
We might well leave this subject here and consider that we have fully shown that the everlasting punishment of the goat class will be destruction; but we must not fail to direct attention to one other point which clinches the truth upon this subject. We refer to the Greek word kolasin translated "punishment" in verse 46; its signification is,--to cut off, or prune, or lop off, as in the pruning of trees, and a secondary meaning is--to restrain. Illustrations of the use of kolasin can easily be had from Greek classical writings. The Greek word for torment is basinos, a word totally unrelated to the word kolasin used in this case.
Kolasin the form of the word used in Matt. 25:47, occurs but one other place in the Bible, viz., 1 John 4:18, where it is improperly rendered torment in the common version, whereas it should read, "Fear hath restraint." Those who possess a copy of Prof. Young's Analyt. Concordance will see from it that he [a ripe scholar and a Presbyterian] gives as the definition of the word kolasis (page 995) "pruning, restraining, restraint." And the author of the Emphatic Diaglott, that valuable translation of the New Testament, after in Matt. 25:46 translating kolasin by the words "cutting off," says in a foot note: "The common version and many modern ones render kolasin aionioon, EVERLASTING PUNISHMENT, conveying the idea as generally interpreted of basinos, torment. Kolasin in its various forms only occurs in three other places in the New Testament:--Acts 4:21; 2 Pet. 2:9; 1 John 4:18. It is derived from kolazoo which signifies, 1. To cut off; as lopping off branches of trees, to prune. 2. To restrain, to repress. The Greeks write,--"The charioteer (kalazei) restrains his fiery steeds." 3. To chastize, to punish. To cut off an individual from life, or from society, or even to restrain, is esteemed as a punishment; hence has arisen this third or metaphorical use of the word.
Now consider carefully the text, and note the antithesis or contrast shown between the reward of the sheep and that of the goats, which the correct idea of kolasin shows;--the one class goes into everlasting life while the other is everlastingly cut off from life--forever restrained in death. And this exactly agrees with what the Scriptures everywhere else declare concerning the wages or penalty of willful sin.
Consider for a moment the words of verse 41: "Depart from me ye cursed [redeemed by Christ from the Adamic curse or condemnation to death once, but now condemned or cursed, as worthy of second death, by the one who redeemed them from the first curse]--into everlasting fire [symbol of perpetual destruction] prepared for the devil and his messengers" [servants]. This "everlasting fire" is shown in Rev. 20:14 to be the second death, destruction.
Remember that this is the final sentence at the close of the final trial--at the close of the Millennium. And none will then be servants of Satan ignorantly or unwillingly, as so many now are; for the great Deliverer, Christ, grants a Jubilee, and sets all free from the weaknesses and besetments within and without, which now prevail as a result of Adam's fall,--from which he has redeemed all by his own precious blood. These "goats" who love evil and serve Satan, are the messengers ["angels"] of Satan, for whom with him, and for no others, God has prepared the everlasting destruction--the second death, here symbolized by fire.
Turn next to Rev. 20:8-10. This is another symbolic presentation of the same cutting off from life mentioned above; it applies to the same class of wilfully wicked, at the close of the thousand years of instruction and restitution under Christ's government while evil is bound. At the close of that reign of righteousness evil will be permitted to again break loose in the world in some form, to test* the multitudinous population of that time and to lead into outward opposition all who at heart are rebellious toward God. The fate of these is clearly shown in verse 9: --Fire will come from God out of heaven and consume them. Consuming fire and devouring fire all can appreciate, except their eyes be holden by false doctrine and prejudice; and no one ever knew of a preserving fire; and as fire never preserves but always consumes, God so uses it here as a symbol of utter destruction, the second death.
*The statement of verse 8 should be understood to apply to the testing of all. How many will follow, as servants of Satan, we are not informed, but we may presume they will be comparatively few.
Verse 9 settles the matter concerning the goat class: they will not be preserved, but devoured or consumed in fire. This being the case, verse 10 cannot refer to these human beings. Hence the question narrows down to this, Will Satan and a false prophet and a beast be tortured forever? and does this verse teach this?
We answer in God's own words, "All the wicked will He destroy." Concerning Satan, the arch enemy of God and men, God expressly advises us that he will be destroyed, and not preserved in any sense or condition.--See Heb. 2:14.
About this wonderful Beast, and the False Prophet which wrought miracles before him, the account of whose doings is so prominent in this book of symbols, (Rev. 19:20; 16:13,14; 13:11-18 and 20:14.) we can now only say that they are symbols, and not really a beast and a man.
The Beast and Prophet are symbols of false systems, which during the Gospel age have deceived and led astray. These systems will be cast into a great consuming trouble in the close of this Gospel age. The torment of those systems will be aionoin i.e. LASTING. It will continue as long as they last, until they are utterly consumed. So at the end of the Millennial age the system of error which will then manifest and lead to destruction the "goats" will also be consumed. That deceiving system, (not specified as to kind, but merely called Satan, after its instigator), will be cast into the same sort of trouble and destruction in the end of the Millennial age, as the Beast and False Prophet systems are now being cast into, in the end of the Gospel age.
We hope at some time to present the interpretation of these symbols of Revelation so that all may see clearly that the systems represented by the Beast and False [R1040 : page 4] Prophet, are now going into the fire of trouble which shall torment and ultimately destroy them. But, meantime let us say to those who cavil, that it illy becomes them, after the whole Bible is shown to be against them, to attempt to support the doctrine of everlasting torture by a few words in a verse, the remainder of which they do not pretend to understand, and in a chapter whose other verses are confessedly dark to them, and in a book of symbols, which they claim is so sealed by God, that they cannot understand it.
Our Brother does not mention Rev. 14:9-11, but concerning it we here incidentally remark, that all will at once concede that if a literal worshipping of a beast and his image are meant in verse 9, then few if any in civilized lands are liable to the penalty of verse 11; and if the beast and image, and worship, and wine, and cup are symbols, so also are the torments, and smoke, and fire, and brimstone.
Permit us to express the hope that our Brother may be freed from the bondage of fear, and more fully acquainted with the gracious designs of our Heavenly Father as portrayed in his Plan of the Ages: and that he may not only be brought into closer fellowship and sympathy and love, but also quickened and energized as an ambassador for him, realizing the grandeur of the "ministry of reconciliation" which he hath committed unto us.--2 Cor. 5:18,19.
FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT.
If we are naturally combative, we may see, or think we see cause for a continual warfare from the cradle to the grave, and a little warping of sound judgment may give this disposition a seeming religious turn and deceive such a one into the idea that he is fighting the good fight above referred to, when in reality he is only cultivating a quarrelsome disposition, out of harmony with that spirit of meekness and temperance which is a most essential feature of the Christian character. Again, many of an opposite disposition are inclined to ignore the fact that the Christian life is to be a warfare, and to regard only those scriptures which counsel meekness, forbearance, patience, gentleness, etc.
Here are two extremes, both of which must be guarded against; and in order to help us to rightly judge and balance ourselves, [R1041 : page 4] the Apostle recommends us to mark, to observe closely, those who walk circumspectly, according to the rules laid down in the Scriptures, and counsels us to beware of the influence of those who do not so walk: "For," he says, "many walk of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is their shame, who mind earthly things," which they covenanted to sacrifice.--Phil. 3:17-19.
Let us then mark some worthy examples that we may see how they ran for the prize and notice if there is any indication that they ran successfully. First, we mark the perfect example of our Lord, our leader and forerunner, in whose footprints we are invited to follow. We notice that his course in the "narrow way" of sacrifice, began with an entire consecration of himself to the will of God. His consecration was made with simplicity and sincerity, and included all that he had--"Lo I come to do thy will O God." (Heb. 10:7.)
He did not say, Father, I will give thee a tithe of my time, my service, and my means, and retain the remainder for myself and for the pursuit of my own ambitions and plans. He did not say, Father, I have chosen this or that special work, and I trust thy blessing will attend it. He did not say, As far as I understand thy will, Father, I am willing to do it--with the implication that if the Father should ever ask anything too severe, or seemingly unreasonable, he might change his mind. No, his consecration was simply to the doing of the Father's will, whatever that will might prove to be. And then he earnestly applied himself to the study of the Law and the Prophets, that he might know the will of God concerning him. When tempted to change his course he replied, "How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be"..."The cup which my Father hath given me to drink shall I not drink it?" (Matt. 26:54; John 18:11.) He laid aside his own will and carried out the will of God, though it cost him privation at every step and finally a death most painful and ignominious. From this course of sacrifice he never wavered even for a moment.
That was a grand character for our imitation. Yes, but, says one, Our Lord was perfect and therefore could do the Father's will perfectly. Very true; we are thankful and rejoice in this, for had he not been perfect he could never have redeemed us; yet we needed also just such an example; for however imperfectly we, like school children, may succeed in imitating the copy, we need to have a perfect copy.
But while Christ was much more to us than a perfect example for our imitation, which under our present infirmities we cannot fully duplicate, we have other examples furnished among brethren of similar infirmities with ourselves. Let us mark them, and see how they followed the Master. There was Peter with his quick impulsive nature, always loving, yet so vacillating--now defending his Master at his own peril, and again disclaiming and denying him; now boldly contending for the faith, and again compromising with Jewish prejudices, calling forth and justly meriting Paul's faithful reproof. Yet rightly exercised by reproof and discipline, and endeavoring to rule himself, his Christian character ripened and beautified from year to year as evidenced by his grand and noble epistles to the church, written by inspiration and handed down from generation to generation for nineteen centuries; and he had many evident marks of the Lord's loving approval. Before he had time to express in words his regret of his denial of the Lord, he was assured of his acceptance with him and of the continued favor of feeding his sheep; for the Lord knew the sincerity of his love and that through weakness and fear he had sinned. Mark too, Peter's affection for his "beloved brother Paul" (2 Pet. 3:15,16) who had so plainly reproved and rebuked him; and for the Lord, who had said "Get thee behind me Satan (adversary): thou art an offence unto me; for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but of men. (Matt. 16:23.) Poor Peter; it was an up-hill road for him, but he seemed to consider and appreciate his own weakness and to put his shoulder to the wheel in a more determined effort to overcome the propensities of his old nature, and to cultivate the graces of the Christian character.
But did he finally overcome? and was he accepted as one of that glorious company which shall constitute the Bride of Christ? Yes truly; for the risen Lord himself declared that his name is written with the others of the twelve apostles in the very foundations of the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, the Kingdom of God. (Rev. 21:14.) See what poor weak Peter gained by his meekness and patience under painful discipline.
Paul was a stronger character by nature. He had evidently made a life-business of ruling himself, though he was naturally positive and firm; and when the truth reached Paul he had a great advantage at once, both in his natural disposition, and in his early culture, so that he could walk more firmly and steadily; and using all his energy in this direction he furnishes a noble example for our imitation of steadfastness and endurance, of untiring zeal and sincerest devotion. See and ponder well, 2 Cor. 11:23-33 and 12:10,15.
John was loving, gentle, and meek naturally and that very disposition would make it difficult for him to sever the many ties of human friendship which such dispositions always draw about them. Yet John was faithful to his Master regardless of the human ties. He was a patient faithful teacher of the doctrines of Christ, and willingly suffered banishment to the lonely isle of Patmos for his faithful witnessing to the truth.
And similar was the course of all the apostles: they were bold faithful advocates of the truth, and examples of its power to sanctify them wholly, as they gradually grew in grace submitting themselves to its transforming influence. They were men of similar and varied dispositions like ourselves. Mark those who so run and do likewise. Our Lord marked these, and kept a careful record of their course judging them by their motives and endeavors; and he shows us that their course thus judged, all their imperfections being covered by the imputed righteousness of their Leader, was acceptable to him. They left all and followed Christ. Their all was not so very much, not any more in many cases than we have to leave, but it was their all, and so was acceptable. Peter had left his fishing business, and his friends, to travel with the Master and learn and teach the truth; he had thus given up his own will and present interests to do the will of God. And when he said to the Lord "Lo we have left all and have followed thee," the Lord did not say his little all was not worth mentioning, but he recognized it and encouraged Peter to continue to sacrifice all, with the assurance that in due time he would be rewarded. (Mark 10:28-30.) And so shall we all be, if we faint not; for faithful is he that hath called us, who also will exalt us in due time.
As we thus mark the course of the faithful ones, we see that their warfare was one largely with themselves. It was their endeavor to keep their own human wills down while they carried out the divine will. And even in the one case of our Lord, where the human will was perfect, it was a hard thing to do, as evidenced by his words, "Father if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless not my will, but thine be done."
But there is another side of this warfare which we have not yet considered, and which we dare not overlook if we would be faithful overcomers. The truth has its enemies now, as well as in the days of the Apostles, and we are set for the defence of the truth; hence the forces against which we must contend are not only those within, but also those without. To be listless and indifferent under such circumstances as surround us, is certainly no evidence that we are fighting the good fight of faith.
To fight the good fight of faith, implies, first, that we have a faith to fight for. No man can fight this good fight therefore who has not come to some knowledge of the truth--a knowledge sufficient to awaken his sympathies and enlist his energies in its propagation and defence.
Now look at the warfare on this side and see how the faithful soldiers of the cross from the beginning of the age to the present time have contended for the faith delivered to the saints. Did they calmly and comfortably rest in luxurious ease, enjoy what they knew of the truth themselves, and say nothing about it where it would cause a ripple of opposition, and then flatter themselves with the idea that their lazy do-nothing tranquility was an evidence of their growth in grace? By no means. They endured hardness as good soldiers for the truth's sake. They proclaimed it boldly, and took the consequences of public scorn and contempt, the loss of earthly friends, the sacrifice of business interests and earthly prospects, together with stripes, imprisonments, and perils to life on every hand, and met violent deaths in many cases. They not only enjoyed the glorious prospect of future blessedness, but they became active to the extent of their ability in carrying out God's plan for securing that end. Had they done otherwise they would have been proving themselves unworthy of the high honors to which they were called. And so it has been throughout the entire age, and is still.
When the great Mystery of Iniquity, or Papal system had reached the height of its power and the very depths of its corruption, and the eyes of a few faithful children of God were opened to see its [R1042 : page 4] true character, noble reformers stepped out and boldly declared their convictions in the face of most violent persecution. And many other noble souls encouraged by their example, braved the same dangers and endured great hardships while contending for the truth, and gave evidence of their zeal and consecration by their faithfulness even unto death by violent hands, and unto persecution and torture of the most revolting and fiendish character.
It is well that we should consider frequently such examples, that they may serve to spur our own zeal, and that we may the more lightly esteem the comparatively light afflictions which we are now called upon to endure, in our efforts to disseminate and defend the truth to-day. We have now no bloody persecutions, though it is still true that they who will live Godly shall suffer persecution. To live Godly however, implies earnestness and consequent activity in God's service.
Remember too, that the Apostle refers to these last days of the age as the most perilous times of all. Why? Because the errors and temptations of this day come in more subtle forms than heretofore. This is emphatically the age of reason; an age of advancement in almost every direction; many are running to and fro and knowledge is increasing on every hand. And yet, human conceit and presumption is running vastly ahead of knowledge; and reason, unguided by the Divine Revelation, is falling into many foolish and hurtful errors, which are passing current among those who profess to be the children of God, who are deceived by these errors and are falling away from the faith once delivered to the saints. And though the great Babylon system is crumbling into decay, multitudinous errors, far more injurious than the formalism and slumber of Babylon, are at work, to build upon its ruins other systems of iniquity in which even the foundation principles of Christianity find no place whatever.
These errors must be met by the faithful [R1042 : page 5] few who are armed with the truth,-- others cannot detect or defeat them. It is for these armed with the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, to show by its profound reasonings the difference between truth and error, and that God's plan in God's way is superior to all the plans and ways of human arrangement. To escape falling into these errors, and being deceived by their subtle sophistries, and by the professions of loyalty to God on the part of the deceived deceivers who advance them, the children of God must keep close to their Father's Word, and be filled with his spirit; and when they see the truth they must be bold and fearless in its defence regardless of all consequences.
This is fighting the good fight of faith whether you are severely wounded in the conflict or not. And those who, sacrificing home comforts, etc., to scatter the truth, which read and pondered over by those who receive it, gives light and scatters darkness, are just as surely fighting the good fight of faith as if by word of mouth they were arguing with those they meet. They do it thus, much more effectually often. And such shall just as surely receive their reward and lay hold on eternal life as will Peter and Paul and other faithful soldiers of the cross,--if they faint not.
This little army of faithful soldiers, all told, is but a handful, "a little flock;" but though in numbers they are so insignificant that the hosts of the opposers of the truth fear little from their efforts, the final victory shall be theirs; and God's power will be glorified and manifested in them proportionately more. Like Gideon's three hundred picked men who feared not to face the hosts of Midian because the Lord was with them, these have but to go forth likewise, strong in faith, sounding the trumpet of truth and breaking their earthen vessels (sacrificing their human nature) that the blessed light of God's spirit may shine out; and at the appointed hour the hosts of the enemy shall take the alarm and flee. Systems of error new and old shall be turned to destruction, and, as in the case of the Midianites, each shall turn upon the other to accomplish the work of their destruction.
To have the privilege of fighting this good fight of faith and of being the Lord's chosen ones for the great work now to be done, God's children, like Gideon's army, must first be proved--tested. At first there was a host of thirty thousand with Gideon; and when all that were fearful were told to return to their homes, only ten thousand remained, and when God further tested these, only three hundred remained; a little insignificant company truly they must have appeared, not only to the Midianites, but also to themselves. Yet, God's power was made the more manifest by their smallness and weakness.
Just so it is now. No one is compelled or urged into this service. All who are fearful, whose faith in God's ability and intention to carry out his plan is not strong enough to make them bold and courageous, and in haste to go forth, anxious to sound the trumpet tones of truth, and willing to break their earthen vessels (to sacrifice themselves) in the service, have the privilege of retiring from the scene: but of course such shall have no part in the honors of the victory with the greater Captain than Gideon.
Previous to Paul's exhortation to the faithful few, to fight the good fight of faith, he gives the very wholesome advice that we lay entirely aside from us the weights of our former earthly cares etc.,--pride, ambition, discontent, money-loving, etc. We cannot grasp or hold the treasures of this life, and at the same time run successfully for the heavenly prize--"Ye cannot serve God and Mammon," and "A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. Let us then take Paul's counsel--flee these earthly things, and following after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness, fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life as joint-heirs with Christ in the glory of victory shortly to be granted. If after we have consecrated our all to God, we turn to mind and seek earthly things, and glory in their possession, we are really glorying in our shame; and the end of such glory if pursued to the end, is destruction. See that ye walk circumspectly, not minding earthly but heavenly things, and not yielding to the temptations of those who walk otherwise. Thus we also shall be setting an example to others worthy of their imitation.
THE GULF AND TORMENT.
A Brother who read the exposition of the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Jan'y. TOWER, would like to have an explanation of the statement, "In hell he lifted up his eyes being in torment:" also of the meaning of the gulf between them.
We thought the explanation full enough to cover these points, but perhaps it was not sufficient. We therefore answer this query publicly.
Please read the explanation given in January TOWER again very carefully. Then note that the gulf is the wide difference between the Gospel church and the Jew; the former enjoying free grace, joy, comfort and peace, as true sons of God,-- and the latter holding to the Law, which condemns and torments him. Prejudice, pride and error, from the Jewish side form the bulwarks of this gulf which hinders the Jew from coming into the condition of true sons of God by accepting of Christ and the gospel of his grace. The bulwark of this gulf which hinders true sons of God from going into the bondage with the Jew--the Law--is their knowledge, that by the deeds of the Law none can be justified before God, and that if any man keep the law (put himself under it to try to commend himself to God by reason of obedience to the Law) Christ shall profit him nothing. (Gal. 5:2-4.) So then we who are of the Lazarus class will not attempt to mix law and gospel, knowing they cannot be mixed and that we can do no good to those who still cling to the Law and reject the sacrifice for sins given by our Lord. And they, not seeing the change of dispensation which took place, argue, that to deny the Law as the power to save, would be to deny all the past history of their race, and to deny all of God's special dealings with the "fathers" (promises and dealings which through pride and selfishness they failed to rightly apprehend and use), hence they cannot come over to the bosom of Abraham into the true rest and peace--the portion of all the true children of faith.--John 8:39; Rom. 4:16 and Gal. 3:29.
True, a few Jews probably came into the Christian faith all the way down the Gospel age, but so few as to be ignored in a parable which represented the Jewish people as a whole. With the end of the Gospel age, comes the end of this parable. It is now ending, and the Jew therefore is getting out of the TORMENT in which he has been for eighteen-hundred years. The torment has not only been as above described,--the torment of a law which none of them ever did, or ever could keep perfectly (except the one perfect man), but they are getting out of another kind of torment, viz., persecution. The Jew has been bitterly persecuted by Pagans, Mohammedans and professed Christians for centuries, but is now--rising to political freedom and influence gradually. And as a people they will be very prominent among the nations in the beginning of the Millennium. The vail of prejudice is being taken away as the [R1043 : page 5] light of the Millennial morning gradually dawns, and we hear of great awakenings among the Jews, and many coming to acknowledge Christ. They are thus leaving their hadean state of torment and coming, the first of the nations, to be blessed by the true seed of Abraham which is Christ. Their bulwark of race-prejudice and pride is falling in some places and the humble, the poor in spirit are beginning already to look unto him whom they pierced, and to inquire, Is this not the Christ? And as they look the Lord pours upon them the spirit of favor and supplication.-- Zech. 12:10.
We are thus enabled to look beyond the limits of this parable and to read the future as foretold by the prophets, the apostles and by our Lord himself. Therefore, "Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem and cry unto her that her appointed time is accomplished."--Isa. 40:1,2, marginal reading.
LETTERS TO OUR CHILDREN.--NO. 1.
BY W. I. M.
DEAR PAPA:--We have for next Sunday's lesson "The Ten Talents." One of the questions is, "Will those be saved who die in childhood, before they know good and evil?" The answer given is, "They will, for Jesus said, 'Of such is the kingdom of heaven.'" It doesn't seem to me that this is what Jesus meant; please explain this as soon as you have time.
MY DEAR MARION:--When you have read Millennial Dawn through carefully you will understand God's plan of salvation for both young and old, better than I can explain it in letters, but if you will follow me closely, I will try to make your question plain to you.
If the whole world were now--in this life--being tried for their own sins, and were not affected by the sin of Adam, and if they came into the world with a pure nature, then babies and lunatics and very ignorant people (heathen, etc.,) not being responsible for their actions,--therefore not sinners strictly--would not be condemned; and so might, in God's loving kindness be saved. If this were God's plan then heaven (as the popular idea is expressed) would be filled with babies and idiots and the most ignorant people of the world; while the other place (if orthodoxy were true) would receive nearly all the intelligent people, and all who were simply good, moral and kind hearted, but not Christians. Do you think God, who is infinitely wise and intelligent, and who made man originally in his own likeness as to intelligence, wants to have all the knownothings, and to give all the wise to Satan? In this age very few of the wise (as to the world's wisdom) are converted to God. The simplicity of the Gospel is foolishness to them. It was so intended. Paul said "Behold your calling, brethren, how that not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called; but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put to shame the things that are strong, --that no flesh should glory before God." Read 1 Cor. 1:18-31; 2:1-10,13,14.
God intends also to save the wise, and will in the coming age reveal to them his saving plan in all the richness of its wisdom and glory. But in this Gospel age, he has a special message adapted to the simple and CHILDLIKE, (the teachable, believing, trusting ones) "Of such [not babies] is the kingdom of heaven"--now. God's children are those who love, obey and trust their Heavenly Father, as good, loving girls and boys do a faithful earthly father. Through God's plan these simple, faithful children of our Father, who learn his truth now, and search and study his wonderful "Plan of Salvation" will in the age to come be the teachers of "all men;" (1 Tim. 2:4-6; 4:6-10) the "Royal Priesthood" (1 Pet. 2:5) who will be God's instruments in filling the earth with the knowledge of God as the waters fill the depths of the sea.-- Habak. 2:14.
Perhaps you are ready to ask Why do you call the way of salvation a plan? Because it is a systematic arrangement; a design prepared beforehand, and followed out to the end for a certain result, also seen and intended from the beginning.
Briefly, God's plan is this: Adam--a perfect man--was created and placed on trial in Eden as the representative of the whole race of mankind, who were to follow. He sinned and the penalty of sin-- death--passed upon him, and through him upon all his descendants. He had a perfect mind--being a perfect man. He was capable of being taught wonderful things, but was really untaught, being without experience. God foresaw the Fall and had the remedy also provided. In due time He sent Jesus our Lord to earth to become a man; (a perfect one,) just like Adam--so he is called the Second Adam, (1 Cor. 15:45) to preach, and to show us an example, and then to die, TO GIVE HIS LIFE FOR THAT OF THE FIRST ADAM, and all those who had been represented in Adam--ALL HIS DESCENDANTS.
Suppose you were at a party where they had parlor games. One game had forfeits. That is if you failed to pass some test agreed on, your penalty was either to pay ten cents or go to jail--jail being a corner or another room. Now if you failed and had no money you would be put in jail. But suppose some one wanted you out to help them play, they might pay the ten cents for you, and you would go free.
So God, to show that finally only the good and obedient would be permitted to live, told Adam he would lose his life if he failed to obey. He failed and God sent him away from the tree of life so that his life would not be sustained by it, and he began to die that day, and finally reached death. Jesus came, and after proving himself a perfect man, gave his life as the forfeit for Adam's, thus PURCHASING for Adam (and for us in Adam) a resurrection back to life again. Jesus left his human nature (which was like Adam's) in the tomb. His Father took him out of death as a different being--that is a DIVINE, a spiritual being.
For this reason (Christ's redemption) all will have a resurrection. (Acts 24:15.) You may ask "If ALL have been redeemed by Christ, will not ALL be saved?" So Universalists think, and they quote 1 Cor. 15:22, but the verse before tells us that the resurrection is what is referred to. All are brought up again in a resurrection by Christ Jesus, but all do not live forever, unless they submit themselves to him. If they remain willful after the opportunities of that glorious day, they die for their own [R1043 : page 6] sins. We do not die now for our own sins, else Christians would not die--having been forgiven. All--good and bad--die "in Adam," because we are sharers in his fallen nature. Or to be more exact, because we were in him--in the sense that he was the father of the whole human family --when he sinned and was put under the dominion of death.
When we have been freed from Adam's penalty (death) by the resurrection, we will be ready to be tried for ourselves. Now see the advantage the world will have in their trial, over Adam in his. I now say "the world" because "we" of the Gospel church "are not of the world" (John 17:16), and we are an exception to the rule. Adam when tried having had no previous experience with sin, did not know how dangerous, how exceedingly sinful sin was. The world having had a life experience (longer or shorter) with sin will after their resurrection, and under Christ's righteous rule (for he will reign then) be PREPARED, by experience, to go on trial for themselves. And this is God's plan,--that all mankind (except the exception, the Gospel Church), should first experience the bitterness of sin and death, and after that rise to be put on trial for themselves; after they have found out how strong sin is; how weak they are; and how much they need a Saviour to redeem and lead them out of sin and death. Out of death he has already ransomed them and will lift them, and then stand ready with a "Whosoever will," (Rev. 22:17) the call of the Bride (the Gospel church AFTER the marriage with Christ), from the New Jerusalem to all the nations of earth. Then, in the Millennial age, ALL babies, little and big; the foolish, both by nature and by false teaching and reasoning; the blind, both naturally and spiritually; the lame and dumb and the deaf shall all be restored and brought to a knowledge of the truth. It is a foundation doctrine of the Bible that there is "no other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we may be saved." (Acts 4:12.) Neither innocence nor ignorance, nor any other natural condition will save. Jesus is "the WAY, the truth, and the LIFE." Again, "without FAITH it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God." (Heb. 11:6.) So neither babies, nor the ignorant can be saved until they learn the way of faith--to Christ. This will all be done in God's "due time." He is not in such a hurry as we sometimes are.
Let us not remain "Babes in Christ," for there are such; (1 Cor. 3:1) but while always retaining the childlike-- trusting--spirit, let us grow in the favor and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18), "unto a full grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, ...but speaking truth in love, may grow up in all things into... Christ."--Eph. 4:13-15. Papa.
THE HEBREWS IN GERMANY.
It is reported that when the Emperor Frederick of Germany drops off, a crusade against the Jews will begin. In the respite which they are at present enjoying the leading Hebrews of Germany are consulting with their brethren in England and France concerning the best course to pursue in the event of the succession to power of their enemies. Of course, the interests of the great majority are so identified with the land which is their home that they cannot leave it without making ruinous sacrifices of their business, and others are too proud to fly before the threatening storm, but it has been determined to assist those who wish to emigrate, and who are qualified to earn their living in other countries.--Selected.
CHICAGOANS IN JERUSALEM. CHANGES THAT HAVE TAKEN PLACE IN SIX YEARS--A GREAT DAY COMING.
A letter from Jerusalem dated Nov. 23d, published in a Chicago paper, bears remarkable testimony to the gradual progress of restitution in that land and God's preparation for promised future blessing upon it and its people. By the time the "little flock," the Body of Christ, is fully completed and perfected, Jerusalem and the fleshly house will be ready for the great things foretold concerning them. Indications of both are multiplying. The following is an extract from said letter:--
I am very glad to tell you of the glorious things that we have been witnesses of during the six years we have lived here. When we arrived here, six years ago, the 26th of September, we numbered fourteen adults and five children. As we drove up from Jaffa we were deeply impressed with the desolation of the land. Not a spear of green could be seen anywhere; the olive trees and vines were so covered with the gray dust of a hot, dry summer, that you never could imagine there could be any green underneath, and the whole earth seemed dried to its foundations. We realized to the full, that it was a land under the curse of God still, for sin. But we have never seen it look like that since that time. Every year it looks greener and greener, and now, so many of those barren hill-sides are covered with vineyards, and olive yards, quite changing the appearance of everything.
You will ask, what is the cause of this great change? God has promised that like as He brought all this evil upon this land, so He will bring great blessings unto it, and it has evidently begun by God's sending more rain than for many thousand years. He sends beautiful showers and heavy dews, where there used not to be any, and He sends clouds in summer, which were never known even twenty years ago. This tempers the heat, so that it does not dry up the ground so. Five years ago He sent, in July and August (months in which it never used to rain), three hours of rain in Jaffa, and sixteen hours in Damascus, and much all around, so that the American papers remarked upon it as a proof that the climate of Palestine is changing. Also, when we came here, there were very few Jews coming back to this land, but the persecutions in Russia and Germany and other places began to drive them out, and, in spite of the edicts of the Sultan, they began returning to this land, buying land, planting and building, and getting possession of the trade of the city; and so to-day there are many thousands more than when we came.
Jerusalem is in reality now in the hands of the Jews, so far as trade is concerned, and the Jew is no longer under the heel of the Mohammedan as he once was. They are also rapidly building up a new city, exactly on the line of the description in Jer. 31:38-40 and 32:43-44, so that even the Turks, who are in power, are taking notice of it, and are saying one to the other, 'It is God, and what can we do?' And, dear friend, what can we say to all this, but that God is rapidly fulfilling in our day His word and the covenant He made with Abraham, and we are witnesses of these things."
In this connection let us remember the prophecies which read:--
"The Lord hath comforted Zion; he hath comforted all her waste places, and hath made her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving and the voice of melody. Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem, for the Lord hath comforted his people. He hath redeemed Jerusalem. And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the stubbornness of their evil heart."--Isaiah 51:3; 52:9; 61:4; Jeremiah 3:17-- Revised Version.
A HINDU CHRISTIAN'S CREED.
The following, indicates that some of the long darkened heathen minds, grasp the principles of Christianity much more clearly and truthfully than many born in civilized lands and educated in colleges and theological seminaries.
"Pundita Ramabai, who visited Boston, and who has more recently been with Miss Willard, at Evanston, Ill., and who is preparing to return to India to engage in teaching high caste Indian women, does not find it easy here to tell what denomination she belongs to. A reporter asked the question, and she answered: "I belong to the universal Church of Christ. I meet good Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians and Presbyterians, and each one tells me something different about the Bible. So it seems to me better to go there myself and find the best I can. And there I find Christ the Saviour of the world, and to him I give my heart. I was baptized when in England, and I commune with all Christian people who will allow me to do so. I do not profess to be of any particular denomination, for I would go back to India simply as a Christian. To my mind it appears that the New Testament, and especially the words of our Saviour, are a sufficiently elaborate creed. I believe as the Saviour has told us, and His message through John has come to us, that God is a Spirit, is light and love; in his threefold nature He creates, illuminates and pervades the universe; that Jesus His Son and Servant, the Apostle of our faith, was sent by Him to be the Saviour and leader of His children; that as many as believe on Him have the right to be the sons of God; and that the Holy Spirit is our guide and comforter, the great gift of God through Christ; that there is but one Church, and that all who acknowledge Jesus as their Saviour are members of that Church. I believe that whatever is needed for my salvation will be given me, and I pray earnestly that God may grant me the grace to be a seeker and follower of truth and a doer of His will. In Boston they said I was a Unitarian; I told them I was not. Neither am I a Trinitarian. I do not understand those modern inventions at all. I am simply a Christian, and the New Testament teaches me my religion."
In the Chautauquan Miss Frances E. Willard writes interestingly of this young Hindu woman, from which we quote the following incident:
"I heard the voice of Jesus say Come unto me and rest."
But the regulation missionary hymn was given out, "From Greenland's Icy Mountains." Standing beside her I wrote the words, "Take notice, this is none of my selecting." Just then the audience was rolling forth, "Where every prospect pleases and only man is vile"--a comment not specially delightful to one whose relatives were "heathens." Volumes were spoken in her swift, half-indignant, half-pathetic smile.
In the speech she made that day she responded to my earnest persuasion that she should "tell us of herself." She spoke in glowing language of her parents, saying, "If any one wishes to say my father, so eager to learn of God, and my mother so tender and sweet, have gone to hell because no Christian ever reached them with the glad tidings of Christ, I have only to tell you: Never say so in my presence, for I will not hear it."
AN EXAMPLE FROM JAPAN.
A missionary of one of the Evangelical denominations writes from Japan as follows, to a friend:--
"One of the things which most of all pains and torments these Japanese is that we teach them the prison of hell is irrevocably shut, so that there is no egress. They grieve over the fate of their departed children, parents and relatives, and often show their grief by tears. They ask us if there is any hope; any way to free them by prayer from that eternal misery, and I am obliged to answer there is absolutely none. Their grief at this, affects and torments them wonderfully; they almost pine away with sorrow. They often ask if God cannot take their father out of hell? and why their punishment must never be at an end? They do not cease to grieve and I can hardly restrain my tears at seeing men so dear to my heart suffer such intense pain. Such thoughts have, I imagine, risen in the hearts of missionary teachers of all churches. Again and again, I and my brother missionaries were questioned by people about their dead parents and fore-fathers who had not heard the gospel. These distressed hearts ask if they could pray for their ancestors. I have had most painful scenes, and I think many American church missionaries have had."
This is the same old experience coming to the front again in a new place. Over and over again have we presented examples of these same sad results of preaching the orthodox (?) doctrine of irrevocable punishment. The Evangelical missionary world is receiving constant notifications that the religion of Christ, as interpreted by their standards, is not a welcome message [R1045 : page 6] even to the pagan world. It is not good news, or the gospel, for the heathen to be informed that their ancestors who died without the light, so called, have sunk into an eternal abyss of suffering in the future world; that the condition of the vast multitudes of the dead of their race is irrevocably fixed in despair when they pass out of this life. The missionary experiences of "Orthodoxy" are undoubtedly more full of testimony in this respect than has been heretofore made known. Much has been told, but more undoubtedly has been concealed. From the instances in which we are permitted by correspondence to get glimpses of the unrest of the heathen under the teaching of this faith, we may well conclude that there is a larger amount of the same kind [R1045 : page 7] of suffering which is not allowed to pass into current missionary history.
It is remarkable with such instances as above constantly brought to attention, that the American Board cannot see the propriety of sending out ministers who cherish the larger hope and who could conscientiously carry to the pagan world a Gospel that would give comfort and satisfaction to those anxious and suffering souls. But instead of this they refuse to send out such ministers, and insist that only those who believe the repellant doctrines are fit for the foreign field. The time is coming, and rapidly coming, when this action will be reversed; when missionaries will be authorized to carry their own enlarged faith and hope to those who are waiting anxiously for the comfort and blessing of a true gospel.--Selected.
ONE TENTH OR ALL?
One who believes that every dollar belongs to God, and is to be used for Him, will not imagine that he has discharged all obligation by "giving a tenth to the Lord." One who talks about the "Lord's tenth," probably thinks about "his own" nine-tenths. The question is not what proportion belongs to God, but having given all to Him, what proportion will best honor Him by being applied to the uses of myself and family, and what proportion will best honor Him by being applied to benevolent uses. Because necessities differ, this proportion will differ. One man has a small income and a large family; another has a large income and no family at all. Manifestly, the proportion which will best honor God by being applied to benevolence is much larger in the one case than in the other. If men's needs varied directly as their incomes, it might, perhaps, be practicable and reasonable to fix on some definite proportion as due from all to Christian and benevolent work. But while men's wants are quite apt to grow with their income, their needs do not. When John Wesley's income was L.30, he lived on L.28, and gave two; and when his income rose to L.60, and afterwards to L.120, he still lived on L.28 and gave all the remainder.
There are multitudes in the land who, after having given one-tenth of their increase, might fare sumptuously every day, gratifying every whim, and live with the most lavish expenditure. Would that fulfill the law of Christ?--self sacrifice.
There is always a tendency to substitute form for spirit, rules for principles. It is so much easier to conform the conduct to a rule than to make a principle inform the whole life. Moses prescribed rules; Christ inculcated principles--rules are for children, principles for men.
The law of tithes was given when the race was in its childhood, and the relations of money to the kingdom of God were radically different from what they are now. Money had no such spiritual equivalents then as now. The Jew was required simply to make provision for his own worship; and this might appropriately be met by levying upon a certain portion of his increase. But, under the Christian dispensation, the world is our country, and the race our kindred. The needs of the world to-day are boundless; hence, every man's obligation to supply that need is the full measure of his ability; not one tenth or any other fraction of it.
The principle that every dollar is to be used in the way that will best honor God is as applicable to capital as to increase or income, and in many cases requires that a portion of capital be applied directly to benevolent uses. "But," says one, "I must not give of my capital, because that would impair my ability to give in the future. I must not kill the goose that lays the golden egg." The objection is of weight, especially in ordinary times; but these are times wholly extraordinary; and this is the world's emergency. It may be quite true that giving one dollar now out of your capital would prevent your giving five dollars fifteen years hence. But one dollar now may be worth ten dollars fifteen years later.
Money, like corn, has a two-fold power --that of ministering to want, and that of reproduction. If there were a famine in the land, no matter how sore it might be, it would be folly to grind up all the seed-corn for food. But, on the other hand, suppose, in the midst of the famine, after feeding their families and doling out a handful in charity, the farmers were to put all the increase back into the ground, and do it year after year, while the world was starving! That would be worse than foolish. It would be criminal. Yet that is what multitudes of men are doing. Instead of applying the power in money to the end for which it was intrusted to them, they use it almost wholly to accumulate more power. A miller might as well spend his life building his dam higher and higher, and never turn the water on to his wheel.
Bishop Butler said to his secretary: "I should be ashamed of myself, if I could leave ten thousand pounds behind me." Many professed Christians die "disgracefully and wickedly rich." The shame and sin, however, lie not in the fact that the power was gathered, but that it was unwielded.
It is every man's duty to wield the widest possible power for righteousness. But let a man beware! This power in money is something awful. It is more dangerous than dynamite. The victims of "saint-seducing gold" are numberless. If a Christian grows rich, it should be with fear and trembling, lest the "deceitfulness of riches" undo him; for Christ spoke of the salvation of a rich man as something miraculous.--Luke 18:24-27.
Let no man deceive himself by saying: "I will give when I have amassed wealth. I desire money that I may do good with it; but I will not give now, that I may give the more largely in the future." That is the pit into which many have fallen. If a man is growing large in wealth, nothing but constant and generous giving can save him from growing small in soul. In determining the amount of his gifts, and the question whether he should impair the capital, or to what extent, a man should never lose sight of a distinct and intelligent aim to do the greatest possible good in a life-time. Each must decide for himself what is the wisest, the highest use of money; and we need often to remind ourselves of the constant tendency of human nature to selfishness and self-deception. --Selected.
AN APPRECIATIVE EDITOR.
The editor of a Missouri newspaper received and read Millennial Dawn Vol. I., and then published in his journal a reprint of the "Arp Tract" with the following additional comment:--
"I could add many words to the above, and have attempted to write them, but none satisfy me because the effect of "Millennial Dawn" upon my inner nature is beyond words. I have read, and have found that light which for years I had been reaching out after. No longer are the "gates ajar" but the "portals are wide open." Professing Christians of any denomination will receive it almost in the light of a "new revelation," and yet 'tis nothing but the "same old truth" made plain. Honest skeptics and so-called infidels will treat it with respect, and as their minds become illuminated with new light they will "Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow." I feel it my duty to become a medium for its distribution among all classes and if the "Home Seeker and Farmer" has no other mission than to put it into the hands of but one seeker after truth, whose soul has been narrowed by the Orthodoxy of generations, I shall feel that it has not been in vain."
VAN B. WISKER.
AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL.
Thinking our Master might use the enclosed, though it is but a feeble and halting effort, I enclose it to you for such use as the Spirit guides you to make of it.
There are some awakenings occurring out here; just enough now to show that the seed is sprouting--here and there a little blade thrusting itself up. How blessed the assurance is that in every such case, "His word shall accomplish that for which it is sent.
Just received May Tower and am reading it with much edification. Oh! that all God's truly consecrated children might see these new things coming so richly from the store house. In His good time (then due time) they will, and my greatest desire is, to be an instrument in His hands in leading some to the "True Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world."
What a hero the Bishop of London proved. Surely our God is abundantly blessing him in all good things. His example will encourage all of the saints, sure.
Yours, W. E. PAGE.
We who are consciously receiving "Meat in due season" are especially called to proclaim the Glad Tidings of reconciliation, and the necessarily consequent "restitution of all things." The translation in the Diaglott emphasizes the meaning of this verse, so that it is worth while in this connection to repeat it, "On behalf of Christ, therefore, we are ambassadors; as if God were inviting through us, we entreat on behalf of Christ, be you reconciled to God." As we realize, the apostolic writings were to the saints, and their true meaning "is veiled to those that are perishing: to those unbelievers whose minds the God of this age blinded, in [R1046 : page 7] order that they might not see clearly the effulgence of the Glad Tidings of the Glory of the Anointed one, who is in the likeness of God." (2 Cor. 4:3-4, Diaglott.) Realizing this and having the "ministry of reconciliation" entrusted to us, we must eagerly, "in season and out of season," proclaim it; relying on our God for wisdom and strength. We must bear in mind that, with Paul, we "can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth us;" and as we see more and more clearly that "the day of the Lord is at hand," and realize that "it shall come as a day of destruction from the Almighty," let us make haste to publish the more the sure mercies of our God, through Christ.
We must be on the alert to use every opportunity presented, not only as messengers to call forth from Babylon the consecrated children who are "Heirs of Glory," but also to proclaim the fact that "God is in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them" (2 Cor. 5:19), to all who will hear. If we are thus enabled to lead some to a knowledge of God now, and thus help them to prepare for the time that shall be "a day of destruction from the Almighty," what joy and comfort will be ours!! Though we "sow in tears, we shall reap in joy." We may often wonder why God does not with his spirit give us more freedom from our bodily infirmities, not only of health, but of mind and will. It is his pleasure "that we have this treasure in earthen vessels, in order that the excellence of the power may be of God, and not from us." (2 Cor. 4:6 and 7, Diaglott.) We can thus rejoice that our infirmities will cause God's power to shine forth the more brightly; we realize fully now that our ability "to will and to do of his good pleasure" is from his favor, (Phil. 2:13). And hereafter it will be equally apparent to all people.
With the favors of knowledge and love given us now, we have only ourselves and the enemy to blame if we remain long cast down. We can "come boldly to the throne of Grace" at all times. We must not expect to see the fruit of our labor to any extent now, only let us, in Christ, "add to our faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge temperance, to temperance patience, to patience Godliness, to Godliness, brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity," knowing "that if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 1:5-8). Our forerunner did not see of the "travail of His soul," until he entered within the second veil. So shall we then "know, even as we are known."
Some of us who have come into light during this eleventh hour, may be inclined to worry and wonder about our destiny; whether we shall be "crown wearers," or "palm bearers." We can cast all this anxiety on Christ. He will do for us "even more abundantly than we can think or ask." He will be all in all, and we shall be satisfied. Until then let us "Be not anxious about anything; but in everything let our petitions be made known to God, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving: and that peace of God which surpasses all conception shall guard your hearts and minds by Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6 and 7, Diaglott. Also read John 14:27). The peace of God keeping guard over our hearts and minds. Think of it!
W. E. P.
[For our encouragement we should remember, that the only "call" yet made is to membership in the little flock. We are all called in one hope of our calling. (Eph. 4:4.) God has not during the Gospel age called some to the human plane and others to the "little flock of crown wearers," and others to the second class or "great company of palm bearers."
Only to the one class were any of us called, and all who have seen the prize, and accepted the invitation can, if they will, make their calling and election sure, by obedience to the conditions--full, complete self-sacrifice in the service of the Lord and under his direction. Those who shall compose the "great company" of palm bearers are those who have not done what they could--who after having consecrated all, even while they love righteousness and desire to see the truth prosper, are unwilling to sacrifice present comforts and interests by an open warfare on behalf of the truth and against error. These, while they love the Lord and the truth, do not love ardently enough to be acknowledged and crowned as overcoming soldiers of the cross. Surely our [R1046 : page 8] actions speak as loudly as our words, and it is in vain that any profess great love, if when the Master and the truth are assailed and misrepresented, they specially recognized agents and ambassadors shall keep quiet and fail to protest against the error for fear of some earthly disadvantage resulting.
Whoever then is begotten of the Spirit, and therefore able to appreciate and run for the prize of the "high calling" of the Gospel age, may know that he is called by the only call yet issued: and if willingly he shall sacrifice his all, he may be as sure of the prize as any other one running the same race. Such a disposition is an evidence of a timely consecration and acceptance and therefore of a begetting of the Spirit. Press nobly on, then, dear fellow-laborers, whether you have entered the harvest field recently or earlier: we serve the one Lord, in the one Faith, and by the one Baptism into his death; and for all such he has the crown of life reserved. "Hold fast that which thou hast, let no man take thy crown." Be strong in the Lord; be valiant; yea, be also of good courage.--EDITOR.]
THE FOUR GOSPELS.
In the attempt to unify by harmonies, much of the true scope of the Gospels is lost sight of. The evangelists differ, but do not disagree. Dean Stanley says that few persons have any idea of the distinct features of any one of these four records. The opinions of some men are that these differences are to be accounted for by the apostles' copying from one another, by each one's supplying the omission of the preceding writers, or by the fertility of their memories, or the fact that accounts were obtained at second hand. But these opinions entirely deny the divinity of the Gospels.
In the beginning we must rest on the foundation that God is their author. They stand in their right order, in the right relation to each other, beginning the canon of the New Testament. Matthew, Mark, and Luke give the outward and earthly work of Christ, and John his inward and heavenly works. The four great countries of that time, Palestine, Italy, Greece, and Asia Minor, were the places where the Gospels were written. Matthew is the Jewish Gospel, connecting the Old Testament with the New Testament, and is written to prove the Messiahship of Christ. Mark is written to the Gentiles, and its theme is Christ's ministry, his works. Luke applies universally to both Jew and Gentile, and brings out Christ's humanity; while John's is an essentially spiritual Gospel, dealing wholly with the divinity of our Lord.
The first speaks of Christ as the Son of David, hence his genealogy is complete (1:1-16); in Mark there is no genealogy, for there he is spoken of not as a son at all, but as a servant. Luke calls Christ the Son of man, and gives so comprehensive an account of his birth as to defer the genealogy to chapter 3:23-38, while John begins with it and calls Christ the Son of God. In Matthew he is said to have been born king of the Jews; in Luke the good tidings are of a birth of a Saviour, and John proclaims him pre-existent. The key to each Gospel, giving its theme, may be found in Matthew 1:1, Mark 10:44,45, Luke 19:10, Jno. 20:31. In the first Gospel, Christ is described as a king, in the second as a worker, and in the other two as a philanthropist and as God manifested, respectively.
The central truth emphasized in Matthew is righteousness, in Mark power, in Luke sympathy, and in John divine glories. [R1047 : page 8] The great discourse of Matthew is the Sermon on the Mount, and that of Luke is the sermon on the plain, and that of John the gospel in the upper room, which extends through chapters 13-17. This very fact shows the inspiration of the Scriptures. All four evangelists heard this discourse, but it was left to John to describe it. The great subjects of the Gospels are respectively law, labor, love, and life. Matthew always introduces a quotation with "that it might be fulfilled;" Mark, with "as it is written;" and John, with "as said Esaias." Luke seldom makes any introductory references.
Matthew prefaces the parables with reference to the kingdom of heaven; Mark, to the kingdom of God; Luke makes it impersonal by beginning, "A certain man;" while John emphasizes their importance by saying, "Verily, verily, I say unto you." The parables are grouped in Matthew, and given in order in Luke. In Mark only two are recorded, and in John new parables not mentioned by the others are recorded. The character of Matthew as a writer is topical, that of Mark is chronological, of Luke biographical, and of John metaphorical. The ministries of Matthew and Mark were Galilean; that of John, Judean; and that of Luke partook of the characteristics of both. Christ is said to have come to save the lost sheep of the house of Israel in Matthew; in Luke, it is "all flesh," and in John, "whosoever will."
The most important of all is the conclusion. Here is seen the development in the Gospels as they are arranged in the New Testament. Matthew announces that Jesus is risen; Mark, that he is risen and ascended; but Luke goes further and adds the promise of the Holy Spirit; while John is beyond them all in declaring Christ's promise to come again.-- W. W. Clark.
Our stewardship is over what we have and not at all over what we have not. Many failing to see this clearly let talents they do possess lie idle, while they make unprofitable endeavors to create and use others not given them by the Master, only to find in the end that they have been unwise stewards.
Quite a great many, seeing the necessity for money in carrying forward the work, ignore many opportunities (talents) and abilities (talents) for using time, hands, feet, and tongues to serve the truth, and endeavor to make money, generously saying that when they once get a good start, then, the truth will be liberally provided for, and in fact that the needs of the truth and not ambition or selfishness are the motives which prompt them to attempt money making. Alas, unwise stewards! Nearly all such efforts are failures, snares by which the adversary gets your hands and heads so full that all other talents are choked. And the very few who do "get a good start" financially are so injured by the greedy strife for gold, that they never use it as they honestly thought they would.
If when you consecrated yourself to God you had wealth--the money talent, then it should be your delight to use that talent with whatever others you possess, but never think of burying in a napkin the talent you have, to seek one you have not got. The talents which were added in the parable were the increase from the use of the talents first given the stewards.
The talents of oratory and sermonizing are evidently possessed by few, and hence we may well reason that sermons are not the things the Lord most wants. He is well able to give such talents when and where he sees their exercise needful, and it is the height of presumption for a steward to seek to use talents which the Master has not given him to use. Note carefully the exhortation of Rom. 12:1-3-9.
It is our old, not our new natures that would lead us to ignore little, humble matters which we can do, to waste our time in trying to do something "great" and "grand" which we as well as others know we have not the talents for. Let us not forget that if we were great, grand, influential orators, we would probably not be fit for the Master's use, for it is not the great he is now seeking, but the humble. If you have an eloquent tongue or other such gift, be sure to use it zealously, but always remember that it is written, "Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the powerful; and the lowly-born of the world and things which are despised God hath selected, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are." (1 Cor. 1:26-31.) Yea, God hath chosen generally those not richest in talents or opportunities, but the poor of this world rich in faith, to be heirs of the kingdom and co-workers with him now. God has arranged his plans thus that he might hinder human pride and vain-glory --the very thing so many are disposed to cultivate. See the context above cited.
Be honest, earnest, unpretentious; and if you speak in public, or whatever you do, seek not to make self prominent and impressive, but seek to show forth the truth, relying upon its impressiveness as God intended. Remember that it is written, concerning the Gospel age and God's ambassadors, ministers of the truth, "Out of the lips of babes and sucklings thou [Lord] hast perfected praise." So then, even if the mighty and grand of this world have to some extent honored the Lord, his assurance that his praise is most perfect in those the world does not count great and grand--in His "little ones," should cause us to rejoice in humility and even to avoid imitating the style, tones and methods of the worldly great.
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Other stewards need a caution in an opposite direction; they do not quickly enough note talents which might be utilized in the Lord's service. These should remember that our commission does not limit us in the use of all, even the smallest talents, but reads, "Go ye into all the world and preach the good tidings." (Matt. 28:19,20.) It is not necessary to preach in the usual formal manner: Preach, as the twelve disciples preached, by the way side, or wherever you find a hearing ear. If you have a good voice for public speaking and lack the talent for preparing a discourse be not ashamed of it, and do not try to memorize some one else's words. By so doing you will fail of good results. Better far, if opportunity offers and you possess a suitable voice etc., read forcibly and clearly something touching the subject you consider most needful to your hearers.
What we all want first of all is honesty with ourselves as well as with others; and a few words honestly spoken even though rough and brokenly expressed will carry more weight to your hearer than a parrot-like repeating of more polished sentences. To be an acceptable minister of the truth, pride and vain-glory must be cast out and trampled upon. Those whose object in preaching is to appear great, wise and profound are not working with the right motive and will not get the great prize.
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Do not be ashamed to acknowledge it if you received your first introduction to the truth from the humblest man or woman of your town. Those who are ashamed of the humblest member of the body of Christ are dishonoring also the head of that body who used that member as his honored ambassador to bear his message.
All truth is of God and not of our fellow-men; it is ours when it comes to us and we receive it into good and honest hearts, no matter by which or how many channels or agencies it reached us; it all came from the one great fountain of truth. But while thanking God for the refreshing draught, let none despise, dishonor or ignore the humblest of the instruments by which the truth reached him. Remember God loves most and uses oftenest the humble. "The Lord abhoreth the proud, but giveth favors to the humble! Pride goeth before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." Beloved, let us flee these snares of the adversary! Let us as wise stewards use the talents given us faithfully, and not only will they be increased, but to such stewards the Master will say, Well done good faithful servant: Thou hast been faithful over a few things [I gave thee], I will make thee ruler over many things. Our Lord wants great, grand co-laborers in the glorious work of the next age, but he is choosing the humble and unpretentious of the present for that honor, and when the right time comes to make us rulers over many things (talents) we shall be "changed"--made "like him" and be with him and share his glory and power. "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted."
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