ZION'S WATCH TOWER AND HERALD OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE.
PUBLISHED TWICE A MONTH.
TOWER PUBLISHING COMPANY,
ARCH STREET, ALLEGHENY, PA., U.S.A.
C. T. RUSSELL, EDITOR; MRS. C. T. RUSSELL, ASSOCIATE.
SUBSCRIPTION PRICE, $1.00 A YEAR, IN ADVANCE, By Express Order, Postal Money Order, Bank Draft, or Registered Letter. Foreign only by Foreign Money Order.
FREE TO THE LORD'S POOR.
N.B.--Those of the interested, who by reason of old age or accidents, or other adversity, are unable to pay, will be supplied FREE, if they will send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper.
SENATOR PEFFER'S FOREVIEW.
Speaking in the United States Senate, on January 21st, Senator Peffer gave evidence of having the eyes of his understanding somewhat open, respecting what is coming. He is reported to have used the following language:
"A day of retribution is coming--a day of reckoning is nigh at hand. The people will smite their enemy. In their wrath this great crime will be avenged. Standing as I do in the night of the Nineteenth century, and looking toward the dawn of the Twentieth, I see coming a wave of fire and blood. I pray God that it may spend its force on the sea. Behind me is Rome, and before, God alone in his infinite wisdom knows." page 34
THE WORK IN ENGLAND.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--In my work at S__________(a town of 30,000 inhabitants) I found some who are likely to be greatly blessed by the truth. I put out about ninety DAWNS in the seven days I had at that place, and sold about 253 of the Old Theology tracts. While my idea in going there was principally to get a better knowledge of the smaller cities of England, the Lord perhaps brought it about in order to send the truth to some of his sheep there, who seemed to be very hungry. And I must say that the Lord's hand can be seen in so many of the movements in connection with the work here that it is very encouraging, although the results in some ways have not been quite what I expected. For instance, in a neighboring city, a little company of "holiness" people had, for a year or more, been working very earnestly in their way till a few months since, when the Lord led them to see that they were not in the right way. For two or three months they had been waiting to know the Lord's will; and about a month or six weeks since they began to feel that the Lord was going to send them the truth through "some man" as one of his messengers. Then, shortly before leaving, entirely unbeknown to these waiting ones, it was arranged to hold two meetings at the home of Brother and Sister Bivens who knew of the attitude of these friends, and afterwards invited them to the meetings.
After the first meeting two or three of these said that, as soon as they heard the voice of the speaker, they felt sure that he had what they had been waiting for. There are six of this little company in particular that I met, and they availed themselves of every opportunity to hear the message. After the second meeting I put the DAWNS in their hands, and trust that they are now entering into the joys of present truth.
I reached the great metropolis on Dec. 26th. At my request the brethren had appointed the evenings of the 28th and 29th for special prayer and communion in the interests of the harvest work in London and Great Britain generally. Together we thanked the Lord for the many favors of the past, and asked for more love and wisdom and strength, both for ourselves and all who have entered into the secret of his presence and the knowledge of the Kingdom to which we are called. The dear brethren here seem rejoiced to see me, and I need hardly say that you and Sister Russell and all the saints in America are much spoken of in their prayers.
Could you tell all the colporteurs through the TOWER of the possibilities and privilege of disposing of the Old Theology tracts at two cents or one penny each, in many places where the DAWNS can not be sold?
S. D. ROGERS.
"Watchman, What of the Night?" "The Morning Cometh, and a Night also!" Isaiah 21:11
VOL. XV. FEBRUARY 1, 1894. NO. 3. "HALLELUJAH! WHAT A SAVIOR!"
CHRIST THE INSTRUCTOR, JUSTIFIER, SANCTIFIER AND DELIVERER OF HIS CHURCH. "Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness [justification], and sanctification, and redemption [deliverance]."--1 Cor. 1:30.
A CANADIAN journal, The Expositor of Holiness, reached our table as we finished this article. We extract a few statements from one of its leading articles which show how blind are both the writer and the Editor respecting true holiness and a gospel faith in Christ. Ignoring the fact of the fall of the race in Adam, and of our consequent imperfection, because we are his offspring, born in sin and shapen in iniquity (Rom. 5:12; Psa. 51:5), the redemption accomplished by Jesus our Lord, and our justification, by faith in his blood, are not seen. This is the seducing spirit and tendency of our times, part of the "doctrine of devils"--no fall, no death, no ransom; Christ merely a pattern; salvation by works, following Christ's example, crucifying your own sins in your own flesh, as he crucified sin in his flesh (?)--"in whom was no sin," who was "holy, harmless, and separate from sinners." We quote:--
"Because Jesus lived right, men imagine that they can substitute his life for theirs when they come to be judged....They have carved out the beautiful fiction that God will look only upon Jesus' life instead of upon theirs. He will see that Jesus' life was very good,--that Jesus' life pleased him, and therefore he will look only upon Jesus.... Therefore they expect to come up for judgment ...with shortcomings, with failures, with infirmities of the flesh, with sins of omission, with sins of commission, and expect God's divine favor, by this substitutionary process,-- God looking upon Jesus....The only atonement God will have anything to do with is based on righteousness,--that we should live right, act right, think right. Jesus did so.-- If a man's deeds be righteous he will escape condemnation."]
CHRIST OUR WISDOM.
Since God's dealings with his creatures recognize their wills, therefore the first step in his dealing with them, is to give them knowledge, or "wisdom," as it is translated in the above Scripture. It is for this reason that preaching was the first command of the Gospel age. To the worldly minded the preaching of forgiveness on account of faith in the crucified Jesus did not seem the wise course. To them it would have seemed better for God to have commanded something to be done by them. But, as Paul says--"It pleased God to save those who believe by [knowledge imparted through what the worldly consider] the foolishness of this preaching."--1 Cor. 1:21.
The first gift of God to our redeemed race, therefore, was knowledge.
(1) Knowledge of the greatness and absolute justice of the God with whom we have to do. This knowledge was prepared for by the Mosaic Law, which was a "schoolmaster," or pedagogue, to lead men to Christ. And Christ, by his obedience to that Law, magnified the [R1616 : page 36] Law and showed its honorableness, its worthiness; and thus honored God, the author of that Law, and showed his character.
(2) Knowledge of his own weakness, of his fallen, sinful and helpless condition, was also needful to man, that he might appreciate his need of a Savior such as God's plan had provided for him.
(3) Knowledge of how the entire race of Adam fell from divine favor and from mental, moral and physical perfection, through him, was also necessary. Without this knowledge we could not have seen how God could be just in accepting the one life, of Christ, as the ransom price for the life of the whole world.
(4) Without knowledge as to what is the penalty for sin--that "the wages of sin is death"--we never should have been able to understand how the death of our Redeemer paid the penalty against Adam and all in him.
(5) Knowledge, in these various respects, was, therefore, absolutely necessary to us, as without it we could have had no proper faith, and could not have availed ourselves of God's provision of justification, sanctification and deliverance through Christ.
Most heartily, therefore, we thank God for knowledge or wisdom concerning his plan. And we see that this wisdom came to us through Christ; because, had it not been for the plan of salvation of which he and his cross are the center, it would have been useless to give the knowledge, useless to preach, because there would have been no salvation to offer.
CHRIST OUR JUSTIFICATION.
That Christ is made unto us righteousness or justification implies,--
(1) That we are unjust, or unrighteous, in the sight of God, and unworthy of his favor.
(2) That, in view of our unworthiness, God had in some manner arranged that Christ's righteousness should stand good for "us," and thus give "us" a standing before God which we could not otherwise have because of our imperfections--our unrighteousness.
(3) This scripture does not imply that Christ's righteousness covers every sinner, so that God now views every sinner as though he were righteous, and treats all as his children. No, it refers merely to a special class of sinners --sinners who, having come to a knowledge of sin and righteousness, and having learned the undesirableness of sin, have repented of sin, and sought to flee from it and to come into harmony with God. This is the particular class referred to in this scripture--"who of God is made unto us justification" or righteousness.
(4) How God has arranged or caused Christ to be our "righteousness," or justification, is not here explained; but what we know of divine law and character assures us that the principle of Justice, the very foundation of divine government, must somehow have been fully satisfied in all of its claims. And other scriptures fully substantiate this conclusion. They assert that God so arranged as to have the price of man's sin paid for him; and that the price paid was an exact equivalent, a ransom or corresponding price, offsetting in every particular the original sin and just penalty, death, as it came upon the original sinner and through him by heredity upon all men. (Rom. 5:12,18-20.) He tells us that this plan of salvation was adopted because by it "God might be [or continue] just, and [yet be] the justifier of him [any sinner] that believeth in Jesus"--that comes unto God under the terms of the New Covenant, of which Christ Jesus is the mediator, having sealed it or made it a covenant by his own precious blood.--Heb. 13:20,21; 10:29.
(5) While the benefits of this gracious arrangement are only for "us," for "believers," for those who come unto God by Christ--under the provisions of the New Covenant-- these benefits are, nevertheless, made applicable to all; for God's special provision for the whole world of sinners is that all shall "come to a knowledge of the truth," that they may, if then they will accept the conditions of God's covenant, be everlastingly saved. A knowledge and a rejection of error--of false doctrines which misrepresent the divine character, even though they be mixed with a little misconstrued truth--will not constitute grounds for condemnation; but a knowledge of the truth and a rejection of it will bring condemnation to the second death. The Greek text states [R1616 : page 37] this much more emphatically than our common English translation. It says, "come to an accurate knowledge of the truth."--1 Tim. 2:4.
(6) The provision made was sufficient for all men. Our Lord gave himself [in death] a ransom--a corresponding price--for all; he was a "propitiation [or sufficient satisfaction] for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2:2.) As a consequence, he is both able and willing "to save unto the uttermost [i.e., to save from sin, and from divine disfavor, and from death, and all these everlastingly] all that come unto God by him." (Heb. 7:25.) And inasmuch as God's provision is so broad, that all shall come to an exact knowledge of the truth respecting these provisions of divine mercy under the terms of the New Covenant;--inasmuch as the provision is that all the sin and prejudice blinded eyes shall be opened, and that the devil, who for long centuries has deceived men with his misrepresentations of the truth, is to be bound for a thousand years, so that he can deceive the nations no more; and that then a highway of holiness shall be cast up in which the most stupid cannot err or be deceived; and in view of all this provision God declares that all men will be saved from the guilt and penalty incurred through Adam's sentence. Because, when all of these blessed arrangements have been carried into effect, there will be no reason for a solitary member of the human family remaining a stranger and alien from God's family except by his own choice or preference for unrighteousness, and that with an accurate knowledge that all unrighteousness is sin. Such as, of their own preference, knowingly choose sin, when the way and means of becoming servants of God are clearly understood by them, are wilful sinners on their own account, and will receive the second-death sentence as the wages of their own opposition to God's righteous arrangements.
The world's salvation will be complete the moment all have come to an accurate knowledge of the truth concerning God's great plan of salvation; because then they will know that by accepting Christ and the New Covenant which God offers to all through Christ, they may have life everlasting--salvation to the uttermost. Whether they will hear (heed) or whether they will forbear (refuse to heed) will not alter the fact that all will thus have been saved from Adamic sin and death--will have had a full salvation tendered to them. Thus, the living God will be the Savior of all men-- especially or everlastingly, however, the Savior of only those who accept his grace and become "his people" under the New Covenant. --1 Tim. 4:10.
(7) It is only to "us" that Christ is made justification or righteousness. Though all men are to be saved in the sense of being brought to the knowledge and opportunity of salvation, none have Christ as their justification, the covering of their imperfections, imputing his righteousness to them, except "us"--the household of faith. "To you who believe he is precious." (1 Pet. 2:7.) He of God is made unto us justification, righteousness, covering and cleansing from the unintentional weaknesses and shortcomings of the present, as well as from the original sin and its sentence. Who is he who condemns us? "Will that Anointed One who died; and still more who has been raised, who also is at the right hand of God, and who intercedes on our behalf?" Nay, he has been made our justification: it is the merit of his great sacrifice that speaks our justification.-- Rom. 8:34.
Justification signifies to make right or whole or just. And from the word "whole" comes the word "(w)holiness," signifying soundness or perfection or righteousness. None of the fallen race are either actually or reckonedly whole, sound, perfect or just by nature. "There is none righteous [just, sound, holy], no, not one; all have sinned." But all who come unto God by Christ, whom he has accepted as the justification or righteousness of all who accept the New Covenant, are from that moment accepted and treated as sound, perfect, holy. Although we are actually unholy or imperfect, we are made "partakers of God's holiness;" first, reckonedly, in Christ, and, second, more and more actually by the eradication of our sinful tendencies and the development of the fruits and graces of the spirit, through chastisements, experience, etc. (Heb. 12:10.) God not [R1616 : page 38] only begins on the basis of holiness, imputing to us Christ's merit to cover our demerits, but he continues on the same line, and ever urges us to "be holy [to strive after actual soundness and perfection], even as he is holy." (1 Pet. 1:15,16.) And he promises the faithful strivers that they shall ultimately attain absolute holiness, soundness, perfection--in the resurrection, when they shall be made actually like Christ, as now their wills are copies of his. For "without holiness [thus attained] no man shall see the Lord." (Heb. 12:14.) Hence, "Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he [Christ] is pure"-- seeking to be as much like him as possible now, and by and by fully in his image.--1 John 3:3,2.
Justified persons and no others are Christians, in the proper use of that term.
CHRIST OUR SANCTIFICATION.
The term "Sanctification," used in this text, means, set apart, consecrated, devoted to, or marked out for, a holy use or purpose.
Christ by God is made unto us sanctification. That is to say, God through Christ sets apart or marks out for a special share in his great plan "us"--the Church.
Many make the serious error of supposing that God is sanctifying the world,--sanctifying sinners. As a consequence of this error, many are seeking to copy Christ's example, and thus, be sanctified before God, while they repudiate the doctrine of the ransom, or justification by faith. They confound sanctification and justification in their minds, and suppose that if they consecrate or sanctify or set apart their lives to God's service and to deeds of kindness they are thereby justified.
This is a serious error. Justification is entirely separate and distinct from sanctification; and no one can be sanctified in God's sight, and in the Scriptural sense, unless he has first been justified or cleansed from all sin.
Consecrating a person or a thing to God's service does not cleanse that person or thing. On the contrary, God always refuses to accept anything imperfect or unclean. This is distinctly and repeatedly shown in the typical arrangements of the Law given to typical Israel. The priests were obliged to wash themselves and put on new, clean linen garments before consecration to their office and work as God's typically set apart, or sanctified, priesthood. Their cleansing and new clothing represented justification, the appropriation of Christ's righteousness instead of the filthy rags of their own unrighteousness, as members of the fallen race.
The seal or mark of their consecration was a totally different one, and followed the cleansing ceremony, as consecration should in every case follow justification. The sign or mark of consecration or sanctification was the anointing with the holy oil, which symbolized the holy spirit.
The anointing oil or symbol of consecration was poured only upon the head of the High Priest, but the under-priests were represented in the members of his body, even as Christ is the Head over the Church which is his body, and all together constitute the royal priesthood. So the holy spirit given without measure to our Lord and Head applies to us (his body) through him. The Father gave the Spirit to the Son only: all of the anointing oil was poured upon the Head. At Pentecost it ran down from the Head to the body, and has continued with the body ever since, and whoever comes into the "body" comes thereby under the consecrating influence--the spirit of holiness, the spirit of God, the spirit of Christ, the spirit of the Truth.--Acts 2:4.
But in consecrating the typical priests the blood was not ignored. It was put upon all, upon the tip of the right ear, upon the thumb of the right hand and upon the great toe of the right foot, thus showing that the hearing of faith, the work of faith and the walk of faith must all be touched and made holy by an appreciation of the precious blood of atonement --the blood of Christ--the blood of the New Covenant. And then the garments of all the priests--their clean linen garments--were sprinkled with a mixture of the blood and the oil, implying that both justification through the blood and sanctification through the possession of the spirit of holiness are necessary in our consecration. [R1616 : page 39]
To what end or service are God's people, the royal priesthood, consecrated or set apart?
Some would be inclined to answer: To live without sin, to practice the graces of the spirit, to wear plain clothing and in general to live a rather gloomy life now, hoping for greater liberty and pleasure hereafter.
We reply, This is the common but mistaken view. True, God's people do seek to avoid sin; but that is not the object of their consecration. Before consecration, they learned the exceeding sinfulness and undesirableness of sin, and saw Christ Jesus as their sin-bearer and cleanser. Consequently they had fled from sin before consecration. When consecrated they will still loathe and abhor sin, and that more and more as they grow in grace and knowledge; but we repeat that to seek to live free from sin is not a proper definition of consecration or sanctification.
It is true also that all of the consecrated will seek to put on the graces of Christ's spirit and example; but neither is this the object of our call to consecration under the Gospel high-calling.
It is true, also, that our consecration may lead to plainness of dress, and bring upon us sufferings for righteousness' sake, in this present evil world (age); but, we repeat, these are not the objects of our consecration. They are merely incidental results.
The object of God in calling out the Gospel Church, providing for the consecration or sanctification of its members, is a grand and worthy one; and when once clearly seen by the eye of faith it makes all the incidentals which it will cost, such as self-denials in dress, loss of friends and companionships, and even persecution for the truth's sake, etc., to be esteemed but light afflictions, not worthy to be compared to the glorious object of our consecration, which is that we may become "partakers of the divine nature" and "joint heirs with Christ," and together with him bless the world during its day of judgment--the Millennium --as we will show.
God in his wisdom and foreknowledge knew that sin would enter this world and bring its blight,--sorrow, pain and death. He foresaw that after their experience with sin some of his creatures would be, not only willing, but anxious, to forsake sin and return to his fellowship and love and blessing of life everlasting. It was in view of this foreknowledge that God formed his plan for human salvation.
In that plan Christ Jesus our Lord had first place, first honor. As he was the beginning of the creation of God, so he was the chief of all God's creatures thus far brought into being. But God purposed a new creation--the creation of a new order of beings different and higher than men, angels and arch angels-- higher than all others, and of his own divine essence or nature. The worthiness of anyone accepted to that great honor should not only be recognized by God himself, but by all of his intelligent creatures. Hence God, who knew well the character of his first-begotten Son (our Lord Jesus), decided to prove or test his well-beloved Son in a manner that would prove to all of his intelligent creatures, what they all now recognize in the new song, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory and blessing."-- Rev. 5:12.
But the exaltation of our Lord, who already was the chief of all creation, was even less remarkable than another feature of the divine plan, foreordained before the foundation of the world (1 Pet. 1:2; Eph. 1:4); namely, that he would make to some of his human creatures (of the race sentenced as unworthy of any future life but redeemed from that sentence by Christ's sacrifice) an offer of joint-heirship and companionship with his beloved Son, in the order of the new creation (of the divine nature), of which he has made the worthy Lamb the head and chief, next to himself.
This offer is not made to all of the redeemed race, but to many--"Many are called." The called are only those who in this age are justified by faith in Christ's atoning sacrifice. Unbelievers, and scoffers are called to repentance and faith, but none are called to this high calling of participation in the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4) until they have forsaken sin and laid hold upon Christ as their Redeemer. [R1616 : page 40]
If the worthiness of the Lamb was necessary to be shown, the worthiness of these whom he redeemed to be his joint-heirs (called also the bride, the Lamb's wife) would also need to be shown, proved, manifested, before angels as well as before men, that God's ways may be seen to be just and equitable.
It is for this reason that God calls upon those whom he does call to consecrate themselves to him; not in dress or word merely, but in every thing. It is not a consecration to preach merely, although all the consecrated will delight to use every opportunity in telling to others the good tidings of God's love. It is not a consecration to temperance reform, social reform, political reform, or any other work or reform, although we may and should feel a deep interest in anything that would benefit the fallen race. But our attention should be as that of a maid to her mistress, or of soldiers to their officers, or, better yet, as that of a dutiful child toward a beloved parent--swift to hear, quick to obey, not planning or seeking our own wills but the will of our Father in heaven. Just such an attitude is implied in the words sanctified or consecrated to God. It takes hold of the will, and therefore rules the entire being, except where uncontrollable weaknesses or insurmountable obstacles hinder. And since our call and acceptance are based upon the New Covenant, which accepts a perfect will on the part of those trusting in the precious blood, and does not demand perfection of deeds, it follows that all, no matter how degraded by the fall, may be acceptable to God, in the Beloved, and make their calling and election sure.
Nor is this arrangement of the New Covenant (by which those in Christ whose wills and efforts are right toward God are not held responsible for the full letter of God's law, but for the observance of its spirit or meaning, to the extent that they have knowledge, opportunity and ability) a violation of Justice, as some have assumed. God's law was designed for perfect creatures, and not for fallen ones; but under the New Covenant in Christ, God has adapted his law to the condition of the fallen ones without interfering with that law itself or even with its spirit. The perfect law, dealing with the perfect man, demanded a full consecration of his will to the wisdom and will of his Creator, and an obedience to that Creator's Word to the extent of his ability. But since man was created "upright" (and not fallen), in the moral image and likeness of God (and not born in sin and shapen in iniquity), it follows that his perfect will, operating through a perfect body and under favorable conditions, could have rendered perfect obedience; and hence nothing less could be acceptable to God.
How just, how reasonable and how favorable is God's arrangement for us. Yet he assures us that, while he has made all the arrangements favorable for us, he must insist on our wills being just right,--we must be pure in heart, and in this respect exact copies of his Beloved Son, our Lord. (Rom. 8:29--Diaglott.) Of those who learn of and accept God's grace in Christ, in the forgiveness of sins under the New Covenant, all of whom are called to this high calling of joint-heirship with Christ in the divine nature and its honors, only a few will make their calling and election sure (or complete); because the testings of their wills and faith are so exacting--so crucial.
Nor should either of these God-declared facts surprise us: it is not strange, but reasonable, that God should test severely, yea, with "fiery trials" (1 Pet. 4:12), the faith and love of those invited to so high a station. If they be not loyal and trustful to the last degree, they surely are "not fit for the Kingdom," its responsibilities and its divine honors. Nor should it surprise us to be informed by God's Word that only a "few," a "little flock," will gain the prize to which many are called and for which many consecrate. Few are willing to "endure" a great fight of afflictions; partly whilst made a gazing stock, both by reproaches and afflictions, and partly as companions of those who are so abused for Christ's sake and his truth's sake.--Heb. 10:32,33.
In a word, the trial of the justified and consecrated consists in the presenting to them of opportunities to serve God and his cause in this present time, when, because of sin abounding, [R1616 : page 41] whosoever will live godly and hold up the light will suffer persecution. Those whose consecration is complete and of the proper kind will rejoice in their privilege of serving God and his cause, and will count it all joy to be accounted worthy to suffer in such a cause, and thus to attest to God the sincerity of their love and of their consecration to him. Such consecrated ones, pure in heart (in will or intention), realizing the object of present trials, glory in tribulations brought upon them by faithfulness to Christ and his Word, realizing that their experiences are similar to those of the Master, and that thus they have evidence that they are walking in his footsteps who said, "Marvel not if the world hate you; ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own, but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." "Be faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."-- 1 John 3:13; John 15:18,19; Rev. 2:10.
Furthermore, they glory in tribulations because they realize that the Lord will be near them while they endure faithfully, and that he will not permit them to be tempted above what they are able to bear, but will with every temptation provide some way of escape; because they realize the necessity of forming character, and that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope--a hope that maketh not ashamed; and because they realize that all these favorable results of tribulation follow, because of a genuine consecration in which the love of God has been shed abroad in the heart, displacing the spirit of the world, the spirit of selfishness. --Rom. 5:3-5.
"He that committeth sin [wilfully] is of the devil." "He that is begotten of God cannot sin [wilfully]." (1 John 3:3-10; 5:18.) And we have seen that all of those acceptable to God in Christ were obliged to come unto him under the New Covenant, whose first condition is faith in Christ, and whose second condition is an entire consecration of their wills to God's will and service. Hence, any wilful sin would mean that they had repudiated the New Covenant and were no longer recognized as begotten of the truth, but under the influence of sin, and hence begotten of the devil--his children.
If any justified and consecrated child of God commit sin it will be, at most, only partially wilful--largely of weakness or deception. He may feel his shame and weep bitterly, as did Peter; but all such penitence would but prove that his sin was not of the wilful kind that would mark him as "of the devil." No: so long as the seed of the Truth, and of his consecration, remains in him, he cannot sin (wilfully). But if any trespass under deception or weakness, and not wilfully, he has an advocate with the Father,--"Jesus Christ the [absolutely] righteous" one, whose merit is applicable for all such unwilful errors, of such as abide under the shadow of the New Covenant. If he confess his sin, God is just to forgive him--because Christ died. (1 John 1:7,9; 2:1.) But if we should say that we have no sin, no imperfection, we deceive ourselves, make God a liar, and disown the Advocate whom God provided; for we are weak through the fall, and liable to deception and error at the hands of the world, the flesh and the devil.--1 John 1:8,10.
Having seen what Sanctification is, its object or result and its present cost, we note that Christ by God is made unto us Sanctification --in that we could have no such call and could experience no such work of grace, under the divine plan except for Christ and the work he did for us;--justifying us before the Law of God, sealing for us the New Covenant and making us fit for this call to "glory, honor and immortality."
CHRIST OUR REDEMPTION OR DELIVERANCE.
Many readers confound the words redemption and redeem found in the New Testament, whereas they refer to different features of the work of Christ. The word redeem in its every use in the New Testament signifies to acquire by the payment of a price, while the word redemption in its every New Testament use signifies the deliverance or setting free of that which was acquired by the payment of a price. "We were redeemed [purchased] with the precious [R1616 : page 42] blood [the sacrificed life, the death] of Christ." We wait for "the redemption [the deliverance] of our body" [the Church] from present imperfections and death. We wait for "the redemption [deliverance] of the purchased possession.--1 Pet. 1:18,19; Rom. 8:23; Eph. 1:14.
In Christ is our redemption or deliverance; for so God has ordained. He who redeemed or bought us with the sacrifice of his own life gives us, as our Prophet or Teacher, wisdom by his gospel, to see our fallen state and himself as our helper; as our Priest, he first justifies us and then sanctifies or consecrates us, as his under priesthood; and, finally, as King, he will fully deliver the faithful from the dominion of sin and death, to the glory, honor and immortality of the divine nature;--for "God will raise up [from the dead] us also, by Jesus." If faithful to our call and covenant, even unto death, we shall, at the second coming of our Redeemer, "Receive a crown of life that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us who are kept by the power of God [His Word and Providence] through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time."--1 Pet. 1:5; Rom. 1:16; 2 Cor. 4:14.
"Hallelujah! What a Savior!"
WHOM GOD DID PREDESTINATE.
In the light of the foregoing, now read a hitherto obscure passage of Scripture: "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate must be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first born among many brethren. Moreover, [the class] whom he did predestinate [must be copies of his Son], he also called [or invited to that honor through the gospel]; and whom he called he also [previously] justified [because he could not consistently call to honor and glory, those who were under his own sentence of death as sinners]; and whom he justified those he also [previously] honored [by sending to them the gospel message]."-- Rom. 8:29,30.
Thus the Apostle continues his argument concerning the favor of God toward the Church, asserting that God has a purpose to fulfil, and that the call of the Church is in accordance with that purpose. (Peter declares the same thing. 1 Pet. 1:2.) And he asserts that all of God's dealings and arrangements correspond with that purpose, and co-operate for its accomplishment. God's predestination was, (1) that he would have a class of beings of the divine nature; (2) that each one of that class must have a fixed character, like that of his ever faithful, Beloved Son. To get such a class the Apostle reasons and declares, God must call or invite some (just as we see he is doing), because "no man taketh this honor to himself." (Heb. 5:4.) But whom would God call or invite? None were worthy; all had gone out of the way; none were righteous, no not one. Hence it was necessary that God provide for the justification of those he would call. But he could justify only such as believed in Jesus; and how could they believe on him of whom they had not heard, and without a preacher sent of God? (Rom. 10:14.) Hence it was necessary that these be honored with the gospel message in this age, in advance of its general revealing, to every creature, during the Millennial age.--Rom. 1:16; 2 Cor. 4:6; 1 Cor. 15:1.
True, many more were called than will be acceptable --many more than will acquire the likeness of the Beloved Son; and many were justified who did not, after believing, consecrate themselves, and whose justification consequently lapsed; and many were honored with a hearing of the gospel who, after hearing a little of it, rejected the message of mercy and favor. But all the preaching, justifying and calling of this Gospel age has been to the intent that the foreknown class of the predestinated character might be selected and made joint-heirs with Christ.--See also 2 Tim. 1:8-10.
What shall we [who have been so highly favored by God, and for whose successful running of the race every necessary arrangement and provision has been made] say to these things? [R1616 : page 43] "If God be for us, who can be against us?" And in view of this let each say,--"What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows [fulfil my covenant of consecration] unto the Lord, now, in the presence of all his people. [This will mean, as in our Lord's case, faithfulness (dying daily--1 Cor. 15:31), even unto death, but] Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his holy ones."-- Psa. 116:12-15.
THE BOOK OF GENESIS. II. ITS OBJECT, AND ITS RELATION TO THE DIVINE CANON.
THE object of the book is to reveal to us the material universe; man's origin and relation to God the Creator, and the equality of all men before him; the divinely constituted relation of the sexes; the origin of moral and physical evil; the primaeval history of the human race, and the origin of nations; the selection of one as the depository of the sacred records, and of the divine purpose and method for man's redemption; the history of its ancestral founders, and their relation to its subsequent history, etc.
Of these truths, to the knowledge of which we owe the present advancement in civilization, it is the object of the book to furnish a divinely accredited record. Its value is apparent on the face of the above statement, and is attested by the history of civilization. In these truths, and the divine attestation of them, lies the only basis of popular progress, and of permanent national prosperity; and on all these we should be in the profoundest ignorance, without the revelations contained in this book.
Auberlen, in his defense of the Scriptures as a divine revelation, has the following just thoughts on the historical value of these eleven chapters: "If we had not the first eleven chapters of Genesis, if we had, on the beginnings of the world and of humanity, only the myths of the heathen, or the speculations of philosophers, or the observations of naturalists, we should be in the profoundest darkness concerning the origin and nature of the world and of man. It is with these chapters on the one side, as with the prophecies of Scripture on the other. There we get the true light on the first, here on the last things; there on the foundation principles, here on the ultimate tendencies of history; there on the first cause, here on the object of the world; without which a universal history, or a philosophy of history, is impossible. But prophecy itself also has its roots in these chapters, on which all later revelation plants itself. Happily, these primeval records of our race, far more widely than we are aware, have penetrated our whole mode of thinking, and sway even those who believe they must reject the historical character of these accounts. These chapters maintain the consciousness, in humanity, of its own God-related nature, of its original nobility and its eternal destination."
From this results its relation to the divine canon. Its teachings are presupposed in all subsequent revelations, and are assumed to be known to the reader. Passing allusions are made to them, in which they are recognized as known; but no formal, full and connected statement of them is elsewhere made, as though it were not already done and familiar to the reader. The ground-truths, on which the whole structure of religious teaching rests, are assumed to have been already taught; such, for example, as the relation of the material world to the Supreme Being, who created it out of nothing, and who therefore controls all the forces of its elements, brought into existence by him, and hence subject to his will; the relation of man to the Being who created him, and who therefore has a sovereign right to control the use of the powers which he created; a right paramount to that of the creature himself, who possesses these powers by the gift of Him who brought them into being; the cause of the moral and physical evils that universally prevail, throughout the world and among all races and generations of men; the inviolable sanctity of human life in every individual, until forfeited by his own violation of it in another; the initiatory steps for perpetuating the knowledge of the true God, and for carrying into effect the divine plan for the redemption of the race.
These are the ground-work of all subsequent teachings, and in all of them are assumed as known.
Moreover, the histories of various personages, treated of here in their minutest details, are often referred to as already known; so that no part of subsequent revelation could be [R1616 : page 44] understood, without a familiar acquaintance with this book.
UNITY OF PLAN IN THE BOOK.
The book first reveals God's relation to the universe, and to its sentient and intelligent occupants, as the Creator and rightful Proprietor and Sovereign of all.
It then records the early history and universal corruption of man, and the interposition of divine justice in the destruction of the guilty race.
It then proceeds with the general history of the new race of man, till it becomes manifest that the original lesson is without effect, that the tendency to evil is innate and universal, and that there is no power of self-renovation.
It then records the initiatory steps of the divine arrangement for the renovation of man, and for perpetuating the knowledge and worship of the true God.
Thenceforward it is occupied with the personal history of the family, in whom and their descendants the divine purpose was to be carried into effect. In the details of their history, as in the subsequent history of the nation, it is made evident that the wonderful truths of which they were the depository did not originate from themselves, but were divinely communicated. If an intellectual and philosophic people, such as the Greeks for example, with a capacity for acute and metaphysical speculation, had been selected as the depository of these truths, it might with more show for reason be maintained that they originated in the tendencies of the national mind. But how should the pure monotheism of the Hebrew Scriptures, the doctrine of the One Eternal God, have originated with a people ever prone to idolatry? And whence was that light which illuminated Palestine, a mere patch on the earth's surface, while all other nations, the world around, were enveloped in darkness? And whence were those conceptions of God and his attributes sung by Psalmists and Prophets, and now the ground-work of the highest civilization to which man has ever attained, while Homer and Hesiod were singing of the gods of Olympus and the mythic fables of the Theogony? He who believes that the unphilosophical and unlearned Hebrews outstripped the most intellectual and wisest nations of antiquity, put to shame their learning and philosophy, and have become the instructors of the most enlightened nations of modern times, believes a greater wonder than the divine inspiration of the Hebrew Scriptures.
In this plan of the book there is a manifest unity of design, indicating a special purpose and aim in its composition.
It should be observed of this, as of every other part of the divine volume, that it is not [R1617 : page 44] a declaration of abstract principles, or of abstract truths, which convince without moving. It takes hold on the life, through its details of life, and influences action by showing the power and tendencies of principles in action. The minuteness of its details of every-day life is therefore in harmony with its spirit and purpose, as it is with all other parts of the divine Word; and on these depend its power, instrumentally, as an element in progressive civilization.
--T. J. Conant.
STUDIES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT. --INTERNATIONAL S.S. LESSONS.--
SUGGESTIVE THOUGHTS DESIGNED TO ASSIST THOSE OF OUR READERS WHO ATTEND BIBLE CLASSES WHERE THESE LESSONS ARE USED; THAT THEY MAY BE ENABLED TO LEAD OTHERS INTO THE FULNESS OF THE GOSPEL.
GOD'S COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM.
I. QUAR., LESSON VI., FEB. 11, GEN. 17:1-9.
Golden Text--"He believed in the Lord, and he counted it to him for righteousness."--Gen. 15:6.
God had promised to make a definite covenant with Abram before he left his native land, Haran. (Gen. 12:1-4.) He actually made that covenant after Abram had complied with the conditions and come into the land of Canaan. (Gen. 12:6,7.) And now, in the words of this lesson, we find God encouraging Abram's faith by amplifying and explaining that covenant, and counseling him to continue to keep his heart in the proper attitude to receive such favors, saying, "I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will perform my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly."
The covenant was to give all "the land of Canaan" to Abram and to his seed for an everlasting possession. The terms of the covenant clearly indicate an earthly inheritance, an inheritance of that which Abram actually saw with his natural eyes. And Abraham (for his name was here changed as a confirmation of the covenant) [R1617 : page 45] believed the word of the Lord, and never relaxed his faith, even to his dying day; for, says Paul, he "died in faith, not having received the promises; but, having seen them afar off, he was persuaded of them and embraced them" (Heb. 11:13), although, during his past life, as Stephen said, "God gave him none inheritance in the land; no, not so much as to set his foot on; yet he promised that he would give it to him and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child."--Acts 7:5.
That was indeed a remarkable covenant, and a wonderful manifestation of the favor of God toward his faithful servant Abraham; and it was a remarkable faith on the part of Abraham which was able to grasp and appreciate a promise whose realization must be beyond the floods of death; and extending to a posterity so numerous as to be beyond all hope of reckoning.
But, great as was Abraham's faith, there was a feature of that covenant of which it was impossible for him to have the slightest conception; for it was to have both a literal and an anti-typical fulfilment. This we are enabled to see from subsequent divine revelations through the Apostle Paul, who shows that the seed of Abraham was to be understood in two senses: that there was to be a natural seed, an Israel after the flesh (1 Cor. 10:18), and a spiritual seed, "which seed is Christ" (Head and body): "and if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's [antitypical] seed and heirs of the [antitypical] promise" (Gal. 3:7,29), which includes a much more glorious inheritance than the earthly possessions of the fleshly seed, rich indeed though their portion will be; for Christ is the heir of all things, and those who are Christ's are heirs together with him of all things. All things are yours, for ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's, who created all things by and for his well beloved Son.--Heb. 1:2; Rom. 8:17; 1 Cor. 3:21-23; Col. 1:16.
A hint of this double significance of the promise to Abraham was given for our benefit in the illustrations which God gave of his numerous posterity. They were to be as the sand by the sea-shore and as the stars of heaven (Gen. 22:17)--the former an apt illustration of the fleshly, and the latter of the spiritual seed.
Let all those who are of the faith of Abraham mark these precious promises and follow them up until, the eyes of their understanding being opened, they see by faith the city established for which Abraham looked, the city which hath foundations, the glorious Kingdom of God in both its earthly and heavenly phases. (Heb. 11:9,10. See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I., Chap. xiv.) The prophet Micah describes its coming glory (Micah 4:1-7) and says that, when the children of Abraham do thus come into possession of the land, they shall rest there in peace; for the nations shall have beaten their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks, and nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they have war any more. Then "they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it." And we believe it, because we are of the faith of Abraham, and know that all that the Lord has promised he is able to perform.
And not only so, but to-day we stand upon the very threshold of that new dispensation --the Millennial reign of Christ, when all of these things are shortly to be fulfilled --when Abraham himself shall return from the captivity of death (Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:18), when his natural seed also shall return and possess the land; and when God will take away their stony hearts and give them a heart of flesh and enable them to keep his covenant and to walk before him with a perfect heart and make them indeed a channel of blessing to all the families of the earth. (Ezek. 11:19,20.) See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOLS. I & II. [R1617 : page 45]
GOD'S JUDGMENT ON SODOM.
I. QUAR., LESSON VII., FEB. 18, GEN. 18:22-33.
Golden Text--"Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"--Gen. 18:25.
The subject of this lesson is an important one, though the limits assigned do not cover the event, which includes all of chapter 18, and chapter 19:1-28. Though the narrative is familiar to every Bible reader, its lessons have been very generally overlooked.
Before considering these it is well to note, in corroboration of our observations on lesson iv., concerning the ministration of angels prior to the beginning of the law dispensation, (1) how promptly they were recognized by those to whom they appeared. Although these appeared in human form, Abraham very quickly recognized them as [R1617 : page 46] more than human, and honored them accordingly. So also Lot recognized them; and, because he honored them as the messengers of the Lord, he sought to protect them from the Sodomite mob, even at the expense of his virgin daughters if need be. But while Abraham and Lot recognized them as the angels of God, the men of Sodom thought them to be only men. Nor were Abraham and Lot excited, or in the least disconcerted by the honor of such a visit. They received their remarkable guests with becoming dignity and grace, and with great composure; not with superstitious fear, nor as if it were a thing hitherto unknown; but as a rare occurrence and a special honor.
(2) Note also the expression of one of these heavenly visitants--one of the three representatives of Jehovah, possibly his beloved Son, afterward our Savior. Speaking for Jehovah, he said, (verse 17), "Shall I conceal from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation," etc.? "The secret of the Lord is with them that reverence him," says the Psalmist. (Psa. 25:14.) Thus it was in Abraham's day, and thus it is still. The Lord does not honor the world, nor the worldly wise, with a knowledge of his secret purposes.--Dan. 12:10; 1 Cor. 1:19,20; 3:18,19.
In verses 22-33 we have the account of Abraham's pleading with the Lord for the possible righteous souls that might yet remain in Sodom, and an illustration of the promise that the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (Jas. 5:16.) But when not even ten righteous persons were found in Sodom, the four that were found were first gathered out before the visitation of wrath descended on the condemned city; for "the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry."
Coming now to consider the severe judgment upon Sodom, let us note its prominent lessons carefully--(1) We see that the city was wholly given up to wickedness and the basest immoralities. Not even a strange man was safe in coming among them. Sin had there reached that dreadful enormity to which the Apostle Paul seems to have reference in Rom. 1:18-32. See also Jude 7 and Ezek. 16:49,50. They were sinning, too, against sufficient knowledge from the light of nature, as Paul indicates, so that they were, as he affirms, "without excuse."
(3) We observe next that the penalty inflicted upon them was not eternal torment, but a cutting short of the present life with its privileges and advantages: "I took them away as I saw good, saith the Lord." (Ezek. 16:50.) And by the same prophet he declares [R1618 : page 46] his intention to bring them back, together with wayward Israel, the children of the covenant, saying, "When I shall bring again the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them....I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant. Then thou shalt remember thy ways and be ashamed when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger [Samaria and Sodom--Verse 46]. And I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant. And I will establish my covenant with thee; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord: That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more, because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done [which he declares to be worse than Sodom had done--Verses 47,48], saith the Lord Jehovah."
When the Lord thus declares his purposes, and that in full view and statement of all the circumstances, and signs his name to the document, there is no room left for cavil or doubt. Wicked Sodom and Samaria and Israel and all the families of the earth shall be brought back from the captivity of death --the only captivity which could possibly be referred to here; for this was spoken long after Sodom was laid in ashes. Nor was there a single Sodomite left to perpetuate the name; for it is written that, "the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all." (Luke 17:29; Gen. 19:24,25.) Our Lord also adds his testimony saying, "Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming in which all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of man and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of judgment"*--trial. (John 5:27-29.)
*The Greek word krisis, rendered damnation in the common version, does not mean damnation, but a trial or judgment, and is so translated thirty-nine times in the New Testament.
[R1618 : page 47] And the Apostle Paul states, "There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust."--Acts 24:15.
The statement of Jude 7 that "Sodom and Gomorrah are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire," may be thought by some to be at variance with the above quoted scriptures. But not so. The word of the Lord spoken by prophets and apostles and by the Lord Jesus himself must of necessity be harmonious; and any interpretation which does not manifest that harmony must be erroneous. The word "fire" is here used as a symbol of destruction, and the word eternal is from the Greek word aionios, which signifies age-lasting. Thus Sodom and Gomorrah are represented as suffering the vengeance of age-lasting destruction. They were destroyed, says Luke (17:29), and they have remained so ever since, and will so remain until the appointed time for bringing them again from the captivity of death, as declared by the Prophet Ezekiel.
Mark also the statement that these were set forth for an example of God's treatment of the evil doers (See also 2 Pet. 2:6)--an example both of his vengeance and of his mercy. His vengeance was manifested in their destruction; and his mercy is specially manifest in their promised deliverance. God will punish the evil doers, but he will have mercy also. Those who have sinned against a measure of light shall be punished accordingly (Luke 12:48); and those who, during this Gospel age, have been fully enlightened, and who have tasted of the heavenly gift of justification, and been made partakers of the holy spirit, and who have tasted of the good word of God (not its perversion), and the powers (advantages) of the coming age, and have spurned these, and counted the blood of the covenant wherewith they were sanctified a common thing (Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26-31), will be cut off from life in the second death.
However, the Sodomites and others, though great and shameful sinners, and worthy of many and severe stripes, some of which, at least, were received in their past life, as, for instance, in their fearful overthrow and destruction, were not thus fully enlightened, and consequently were not condemned to the second death, from which there will be no resurrection. And, therefore, even the wicked Sodomites will hear the voice of the Son of man and come forth in due time; for "God our Savior will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one [just and merciful] God, and one mediator between [that just and holy] God [who cannot tolerate sin] and [fallen, sinful] men, the man Christ Jesus [the only begotten and well beloved Son of God, whom God gave to redeem us, because he so loved the world even while they were yet sinners, and] who gave himself [in accordance with the Father's plan] a ransom for all [the Sodomites and all other sinners included], --to be testified in due time." (1 Tim. 2:3-6.) And while this testimony was not given to the Sodomites in their day, it is just as sure that they shall have it in the coming age under the Millennial reign of Christ, when they shall come forth to judgment-- to a shameful realization of their guilt, and to an opportunity for repentance and reformation.
Our Lord's statement with reference to their future judgment (Matt. 10:14,15) is also worthy of special note. In sending out his disciples to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of heaven (verse 7), he said it would be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for the city or house that would not receive their message--"And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily, I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city." The implication is that it will be tolerable for both classes, but less tolerable for those who wilfully reject the light of divinely revealed truth, and thus prefer the darkness to the light, because their deeds are evil (John 3:19,20), than for those who even sinned egregiously against the dimmer and waning light of nature.
Hear again the Lord's warning to the caviling Jews who had seen his mighty works, but who wilfully refused to admit their testimony of his Messiahship--"Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, it shall be more [R1618 : page 48] tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hades [the grave]; for if the mighty works which have been done in thee had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for thee." (Matt. 11:21-24.)
Tyre and Sidon had suffered a terrible overthrow in the midst of carnage, pestilence and blood, and Sodom had perished under a deluge of fire and brimstone*; but the more guilty (because more enlightened) Judean cities remained. Why? Because the great day of judgment had not yet come, and except in a very few instances--of which those cited are in point, which were summarily judged and punished before the appointed time for the world's judgment, for examples, as stated--the punishment of evil doers tarries until the appointed time, the Millennial age. Thus it is written, "The sins of some men are previously manifested, leading on to judgment, but in some [instances] indeed they follow after." (1 Tim. 5:24. See also Luke 13:1-5.) The Lord points forward to the day of judgment when all the guilty shall receive their just desserts, and when chastened and penitent sinners may return to God.
*The whole region about Sodom abounds with slime or bitumen pits (Gen. 14:10), sulphur and salt; and the fire was probably from lightning. Thus God used the natural elements with which they were surrounded in accomplishing their destruction.
The judgments of that day will be tolerable for all; and the special revelations of divine truth and the helpful discipline and instruction which were not due in the days of Tyre and Sidon and Sodom, but which our Lord says would have led them to repentance, will be given in the coming day of judgment, both to those wicked cities and also to the cities of Judea.
How plainly all these scriptures point to the coming "times of restitution of all things" of which Peter speaks in Acts 3:19-21, saying, "Times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you, whom the heaven must retain until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began."
Then these times of restitution are the times of Christ's second presence; and this work of restitution is the grand object of his predicted thousand years reign on earth; and that must be the day of judgment to which the Lord referred as the time for the "tolerable" discipline and final settlements with Tyre and Sidon and Sodom and Chorazin and Bethsaida and all the rest of mankind --the day spoken of by the Apostle Paul (Acts 17:31), saying, "God hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained [Jesus Christ], whereof he hath given assurance unto all men in that he hath raised him from the dead." [R1619 : page 48] We rejoice in the blessed testimony thus assured to all men that God, who so loved the world, even while they were yet sinners, that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life, hath also appointed a day--a period of a thousand years --in which he will grant to them all a righteous judgment, trial, by him--by that same Son, now risen from the dead--who also so loved us that he freely laid down his life for us all, that thus by the merit of his vicarious sacrifice he might remove the legal disability to our restoration. And we rejoice, too, in the mercy and love and helpfulness vouchsafed to our sin-sick race by the character of the Judge who has given such ample proof of his love.
He will be a just Judge, laying "justice to the line and righteousness to the plummet;" "a merciful High Priest touched with the feeling of our infirmities;" a wise and good physician able to apply the healing balm of the tree of life which is for the healing of the nations; and indeed the blessed seed of Abraham in whom "ALL the families of the earth (from Adam to the end) shall be blessed."
With such blessed assurances, who could doubt that the Judge of all the earth will do right?
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THE EUROPEAN OUTLOOK--YET THERE IS TIME.
Washington Diplomats and others are calling attention to the fact that European armies were increased fully one hundred thousand men during 1893. They assert that the long feared, general European war involving all nations is sure to begin during 1894. They expect that a movement in Norway, looking to a separation of that country from Sweden and its conversion into a Republic, is likely to be the beginning of a war between Norway and Sweden; that this will be followed by an attempt on the part of Russia to acquire certain winter ports for ships of war and commerce on the coast of Norway, said ports being desirable because, being warmed by the Gulf Stream, they are open the year round. This action on the part of Russia, it is asserted, would provoke Germany and England to opposition, and thus speedily the dreaded, greatest conflict of the old world be speedily precipitated.
All this looks probable; but we nevertheless do not expect a general war, the great trouble of Scripture, for some years yet. We feel confident that the winds of war are being held, under our Lord's direction, until the "harvest" message shall have sealed in their foreheads (intellectually) all of God's saints in those lands; be they few or many, we know not.--Rev. 7:3.
Who are ready to take the field as colporteurs amongst the Swedes, Danes and Norwegians? The Swedish edition of M. DAWN, VOL. I., is already out, and the Dano-Norwegian edition is nearly ready. These will be furnished to colporteurs at 12-1/2 cents (one-half their actual cost) per copy by freight or 15 cents by mail in packs of five or its multiples.
Here is an excellent opportunity for Brethren and Sisters of those nationalities to serve the Lord and their countrymen--in this country or in their native lands. The books sell at 35 cents, so that those who can sell only a few can cover their expenses.
All should think soberly concerning their circumstances, and all the consecrated who are unencumbered should do what they can to spread the good tidings. Every foreigner in this country who becomes deeply interested is apt to send the truth to friends abroad as well as at home. Brother Larson, a deeply interested Dane, sent an English copy of M. DAWN to a friend in Denmark, who, not being able to appreciate it himself, forwarded it to Prof. Samson, of the Morgan Park University. The latter became deeply interested, and is the translator of the Dano-Norwegian edition now on the press.
So the Truth is spread. Let each be sure that he is doing what he can do; and let all leave the general results to God. Sow the seed broadcast and liberally, wherever you have reason to surmise that it might take root; for thou knowest not which will prosper, this or that.
A CANDID CONFESSION.
On resigning his position as editor of The Review of The Churches, Archdeacon Farrar is quoted as having said--"The whole cause of the Reformation is going by default; and if the alienated laity do not awake in time, and assert their rights as sharers in the common priesthood of all Christians, they will awake, too late, to find themselves nominal members of a church which has become widely popish in all but name."
Commenting on this, Brother Gillis remarks,-- "He thus bewails the very state of things the clergy helped to bring about by suppressing the spirit of reform on all matters of faith and doctrine. In such pitiful straits they cannot contend against popish advances, their own clerical authority being involved. His confession implies that the court is called and Protestantism fails to appear. The case goes by default, and the pride of three hundred years falls in the dust, and defendant must pay the fearful cost."--How true!
[R1619 : page 51]
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
VOL. XV. FEBRUARY 15, 1894. NO. 4. KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN.
SINCE the Lord has so graciously led his consecrated people into the knowledge, not only of his wonderful plan of salvation, but also of its times and seasons, it is important, especially in this eventful period of transition, that we keep our eyes open to observe the accurate fulfilments of prophecy now being brought to pass. Indeed, with open eyes, one can seldom glance over a daily newspaper without seeing some verification of the sure word of prophecy in the direction of a widespread expectation of some great revolutionary change in the social and religious conditions of the whole world.
Even those who have no knowledge of the divine plan of the ages and its systematic and precise times and seasons are now reading the signs of the times so clearly as to approximate the time of their issuance in a new order of things within but a year or two of the time prophetically indicated. They see that a great revolutionary change is not only inevitable, but imminent; though they are quite at sea in their prognostications of the final outcome, believing as they do, that the shaping of the destinies of nations and individuals is in the hands of the present generation of "Christendom," instead of in the hands of him whose right it is to take the kingdom and to possess it forever, and whose time is come.--Ezek. 21:27.
As a single illustration of this, out of many that might be adduced, we present to our readers the following able and significant address of the Rev. Dixon, of New York, on
THE PERIOD OF TRANSITION.
"History seems naturally to divide itself into periods. These periods of history have characteristics which distinguish them from the centuries which precede and the centuries which follow the era of the crusades as clearly and distinctly marked in medieval history. The period of the French revolution in like manner has its special characteristics, and is clearly defined in the history of the world. So in ancient times there were centuries of development which are distinctly marked. There are, upon the other hand, the crises of transition between the great historic centuries of development. These periods of transition are the seed times, while the great centuries of revolution and construction are the harvest times of history.
"The nineteenth century is peculiarly a century of transition. It is a period of preparation. It has been one of tremendous development, and yet it is the development of a promise rather than the fulfillment of that which has gone before. The most marvelous development of the nineteenth century is the prophecy it gives of the twentieth. With all our wonderful achievements there is nothing so wonderful as the universal hope inspired in the human breast that we will do something better in the near future.
"The import of action in a period of transition is of inestimable importance. What is impressed upon the character of this age will constitute the elements of strength or of weakness in the new century that is to be born. That which is now shaping the forces that shall dominate the life of the twentieth century must [R1619 : page 52] partake of permanence. In many respects it will be decisive.
"There are certain elements in our current life which reveal to us the fact that the century before us must be constituted in its social, economic and political life upon a new basis. This must be so,
(1) "Because of the rapidity of material progress during the past generation and its speed in this generation. The elimination of time [R1620 : page 52] and space has been one of the most remarkable developments of our period of invention, and the period of the world's invention is the latter part of the nineteenth century.
"In the eighteenth century the world was divided into isolated continents and isolated nations. There was little intercourse, and what there was came through the slow travel by sail on water and stage on land. The facilities for gathering news and distributing the history of different nations among one another were of the most meager kind.
"All this has been changed in the latter part of the nineteenth century. The world has literally been made a great whispering gallery, and every nation gives its quota to the day's story. There is no longer isolation of any sort. England and America are to-day in closer contact than were Massachusetts and New York in the eighteenth century. It is possible for a man to leave America in one week and visit the dead civilizations of the east in the next. It is possible for a man at his breakfast table to know all the important events that happened the day before in every nation of the world. We cross the ocean in less than six days. We go round the world in two months, and we come in contact with the current of the life of all people and all nations.
"Our civilization is a symposium. The very delicacies of our table are the products of the whole earth. What we eat, what we wear, what we place in our homes are the joint product of the effort of the world.
"The problem of time and space has within a few years been practically annihilated. The use of steam and electricity has brought the world thus in close contact. But the speed with which we are making progress even in annihilating time and space is so great that it is possible within the next generation that the rate of travel will be increased from four to five-fold at least. It may be possible for the children of the next generation to have their suburban homes 500 miles from the place of their daily business. Such an achievement would mean the development of the city until it shall literally cover the whole earth.
"In mechanical developments our rate of progress has been a marvel during the past generation, but it is more marvelous to-day. Armies of men and women now give themselves exclusively to the work of mechanical invention. Our daily life has been literally revolutionized by mechanics. What our ancestors did by hand, we do by machinery. This tremendous force, brought into play by cranks and wheels and levers, is the development of the world's life. The bureau of statistics in Berlin estimated in 1887 that the steam engines at that time at work in the world represented not less than 1,000,000,000 workingmen. That is to say, the steam engines at work in 1887 did more than three times the working force of the entire earth. Their earning capacity at that time was three times greater than the muscle power of the world.
"The advance in the application of mechanical power to the problems of life since 1887 has been most marvelous of all. Since that time electricity has taken in large measure the place of steam in a thousand avenues of life, and where the steam wheel made one revolution the electric motor makes ten. If we increase at this rate during the next generation the working force of the world, it will be possible to do all the work necessary for the production and distribution of economic goods within a few hours of every week, if society can be organized upon the co-operative rather than the competitive basis.
"It can be seen at once that it is impossible for society to receive each day this tremendous army of wheels and levers without causing a radical disturbance in the existing social order within the near future. Labor organizations in their blind ignorance have fought the introduction of machinery in the labor of the world. But as they become educated they will not be slow in seeing that the work of the world can be done by machinery in a few hours when that machinery is harnessed by a co-operative social order.
"The developments of science during the past generation have been so marvelous that we literally live in a new world because of those developments. Each day reveals new wonders. The present rate of progress, if maintained, will give a civilization in the early part of the twentieth century the very outlines of which no prophet can foretell to-day. The only problem is: Can the present rate of progress be maintained in the discovery of nature's secrets by those who are searching for them? The probability is that it will not only be maintained, but accelerated; for where there was [R1620 : page 53] one man in search of the secrets of nature for useful ends twenty years ago, there are 1,000 men to-day searching with might and main for these secrets to give immediately to the world as a practical contribution to its social and economic life. Speculative science has everywhere given way to practical science, and the man of speculative mind cannot refrain from making the application even on the page of his philosophic speculation.
(2) "The growth of cities has been so remarkable within the past generation, and is so rapidly increasing in the present, that it presages a new life in the near future--a new life, social, economic, religious. A glance at the development of the cities within the past decade and a comparison of each decade in the century will reveal that the growth of the city has been one of the marvels of modern life.
"In 1790 the population of the United States was in round numbers 4,000,000. The population of the cities at that time was in round numbers 131,000--3.35 per cent of the whole population, leaving a rural population of 96.65 per cent In 1890 we had a population of 62,000,000. The population of the cities had grown to 18,250,000, about 30 per cent of the entire population as contrasted with 3 per cent in 1790. The city has grown, in short, to dominate the life of the century. The rural district has lost its power. The scepter of import has been transferred to the streets of the great cities, and from the streets it has sunk to the gutters, and the dives, and the sewers.
"The domination of city life over rural life is one that cannot continue long without a radical change in the whole social order. The growth of the city means the growth of the darkest elements of our life, at the expense, for the time being, of the saving elements. The growth of the city means the growth of the active principles of our civilization. The city is the center of activity. It is the center of good and the center of evil. It means, therefore, the necessary intensification of life. It means the intensification of crime. The development of crime within this latter part of our century has been put out of all proportion to the progress of law and order. We have 7,000 murders in America and 100 legal executions.
"The daily record of our crime is something appalling to the heart of those that love their fellow man. The generation of criminals who have served their term in penal institutions is increasing with marvelous rapidity. A penal colony within the body of civilization is something with which we have never before been confronted. The number of convicts of various degrees which are at present adding to the slum population of our cities is something beyond computation. Corruption in society, in government and in commerce has increased in geometrical proportion to the pressure of life.
"We have to-day the most corrupt civilization in some respects that the world has ever seen. If we take our own city of New York as an example in the development of political life in the close of the nineteenth century, we will have food for the philosopher and the philanthropist. In the past generation in this city corruption ruled in municipal life, but it was a corruption so manifest that public indignation could be aroused and the criminals brought to justice. The Tweed regime was routed in short order when once its rascality was made a matter of public comment and public suspicion. But this generation has reached a point of scientific development in public crime of which Mr. Tweed never dreamed. Tweed was a thief who rose from the lowest walks of life to roll in luxury, to sport his diamonds and his carriages out of public plunder. But he was a clumsy thief.
"To-day his successor in office is the boss of our political life. He is the most important factor in our American politics to-day.
"A few years ago he was a prize-fighter, a general sport, and he was poor. To-day he lives in a palace, he owns magnificent rural estates, he sports the finest blood horses in America and his wealth must be estimated by the millions. He holds no public office and has no visible means of support, save as the boss of a political club organized for plunder in a great city.
"Not only have we such corruption before our eyes and absolutely master of our municipal life, but more--they add insult to injury. The people are unmercifully taxed to fill the pockets of these thieves, and the masses of the people in the cities must bear the burdens.
"What is true of New York is true in a smaller degree in nearly all of the great cities of America to-day. This intensification of life has brought us the marvelous increase of wealth and the painful increase of poverty. Our life to-day may be termed the tropics of civilization. It is probable that the Astor estate alone has reached $500,000,000.
"There are single individuals in this city whose income cannot be less than $20,000,000 a year.
"There are 1,000 men in this city whose wealth is vastly over $1,000,000.
"There are a dozen men in this city who can, if they will, both control the financial [R1621 : page 54] development of the nation and dictate its political policies by the use of their money.
"The poverty of the poor is in like manner increasing to the degree of starvation from day to day.
"While 1,000 men in this city estimate their wealth at over $1,000,000, it can be safely said that there are 100,000 people in this city who are hungry for bread every day in the year. The number of people who sleep on boards, and who drift about with nowhere to sleep, approximates 100,000 daily. The children of this generation of paupers seem to increase with greater rapidity than the normal rate of the increase of the average population of the world.
"While the evil elements of life have thus been intensified, we take hope from the fact that the better elements of life are also being intensified. The heroism of this life in its crying wants, its needs, is as brilliant in the individual examples as at any time in the history of the world. While crime and corruption and debauchery have increased in the city, the army of self sacrificing men and women who are willing to give their lives for the betterment of mankind daily increases.
"The number of women that have poured their lives into the current stream of active endeavor has been, within the last twenty years, increasing as never before in the history of the human race. According to the report of the census of 1880 there were in America among women who earned their daily bread outside of domestic service the following numbers in different professions: 110 lawyers, 165 ministers, 320 authors, 588 journalists, 2,061 artists, 2,136 architects, chemists, pharmacists; 2,106 stock raisers and ranchers, 5,145 government clerks, 2,438 physicians and surgeons, 13,182 professional musicians, 56,800 farmers and planters, 21,071 clerks and bookkeepers, 14,465 heads of commercial houses, 155,000 public school teachers.
"This was by the census of 1880; but by the report of the last census of 1890 there is recorded the remarkable fact that in these ten years the army of women who earn their daily bread outside of their homes now reaches the enormous total of 2,700,000.
"For the first time in the history of economics woman has entered as an active factor. Her influence in developing the history of the next generation can but be marvelous. Her influence in molding and fashioning the life of society when thus brought in active contact with its working force cannot be less than it has been in other spheres where woman's influence has been felt when woman's position is recognized as it should be in the world of economics.
"We stand upon the threshold of an economic evolution, of a new social order. It means, sooner or later, that woman will be emancipated from the slavery in which she has labored in the past, in an unequal struggle with man, and that society in its working force will be elevated, refined and humanized by her touch, her sympathies and her life.
(3) "The rise of the common people to political equality in government with the traditional ruling classes has been accomplished within this century, and is but the beginning of a revolution that is not yet accomplished. Robert Mackenzie says: 'Sixty years ago Europe was an aggregate of despotic powers, disposing at their own pleasure of the lives and property of their subjects. To-day the men of western Europe govern themselves.' Popular suffrage, more or less closely approaching universal, chooses the governing power, and by methods more or less effective dictates its policy.
"One hundred and eighty million Europeans have risen from a degraded and ever dissatisfied vassalage to the rank of free and self-governing men. This has been an accomplishment which has simply put into the hands of the common people the weapons with which they will fight their battles in the twentieth century. The battles are yet to be fought, the revolution is yet to be accomplished. They have simply been given the ballot, and the consciousness of their power has only begun to dawn upon them.
"In the early part of the twentieth century we may surely look for a sufficient diffusion of intelligence to bring this tremendous mass into the aggressive assertion of the fullest rights of manhood. Hitherto they have been dominated by bosses, by tricky politicians, and they have followed skillful leaders blindly.
"So intense are becoming these elements that they cannot continue longer without an explosion. The lamp has been lit and has been left burning. A woman in a western home during the war sent a servant into the cellar with a lighted candle to look for some object. The servant returned without the candle. The housewife asked where she had left it. She said she had left it in a barrel of sand in the cellar. The housewife remembered that there was a barrel of powder standing open in the cellar. Without a moment's hesitation she rushed below and found that the ignorant girl had thrust the candle down into the loose powder and left it burning. [R1621 : page 55] She carefully lifted it out and extinguished it.
"The movement for universal suffrage in this century has placed the candle of knowledge, without a candlestick, in the loose powder of the common people. This light of knowledge is burning closer and closer, and the heat is becoming more and more intense with each moment. There is no power on earth, under the earth or above the earth that can remove that candle from its position. By a law as sure as the law of gravitation, the flame is approaching the powder, nearer and nearer every day. When it reaches the end, that is, the point of actual, conscious contact with their mind-- there will be an explosion that will unsettle thrones and traditions, whether occupied by the Czar of Russia or Richard Croker I. of New York.
(4) "The universality of education is a factor in the closing of the nineteenth century which must make a new world in the twentieth.
"We have now entered upon the democracy of letters. Hitherto in the history of mankind knowledge was confined to the few. The higher professions were open only to the sons of distinguished men. Now they are opened to the child of the state born and reared in obscurity and disgrace and poverty. There is no limitation to the possibilities of human endeavor, because education has been brought within the reach of all. In America we have 13,000,000 children in our public schools. This means that the next generation will be a new people. With this wide diffusion of knowledge has come the scientific spirit of inquiry.
"New blood has been brought into our world of science, our world of philosophy. Men no longer reason by the standards of Aristotle and Plato. They do not ask what has been taught by the great men of the past and stop there. They do not seek authority for action. They search for truth itself. They refuse to be bound by the traditions of the past. The time was when knowledge was confined to a certain clique in society. They had their own peculiar ideas. They were educated in their own peculiar schools. They thought in ruts. Their minds never traveled beyond certain well-defined limitations, and in consequence they traveled in a circle continuously.
"With the universal diffusion of knowledge and the introduction of new spirits in the field of investigation all this has been changed. Nothing is now settled save that which is settled upon the basis of proved fact. Every tradition, every theory, every creed must stand the test of this investigation. Every theory of State, every notion of society, every theory of religion must be resubmitted to this court of last adjustment--the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
"For the first time in the history of the world this spirit dominates the educated mind. Hitherto we have simply clung to the past with passionate and blind devotion. Now all things are being made new. All things are being brought in question. Nothing is accepted as authoritative because it is ancient. The creeds of Christendom are all undergoing radical revision. The traditionalists may resist with all their power--they fight against the stars.
"The creeds of the world within the next generation will be fixed on facts, not fancies. Superstition and tradition are being destroyed with a rapidity that will give the world a new religion within the next twenty years, and that religion will be the Christianity of Jesus Christ in its simplicity as Jesus lived it and preached it.
"The barriers of national lines and prejudice have all been broken down. The heathen world is now in vital contact with the Christian world and the Christian world's civilization.
"A hundred years ago Japan was utterly isolated from the rest of mankind. There was a law in force providing that 'no ship or native of Japan should quit the country under pain of forfeiture and death; that any Japanese returning from a foreign country should be put to death; that no nobleman or soldier should be suffered to purchase anything from a foreigner; that any person bringing a letter from abroad should die, together with all his family and any who might presume to intercede for him.'
"Every heathen nation has been opened to Christian influences and to the advance of the civilization of Christian nations. Not only this, but they have of necessity been compelled to study modern science. Japan stands to-day practically within the pale of modern civilization. I took my seat in the Johns Hopkins University around the seminary table, in the study of political and social science, with young Japanese students from the capital of Japan. China is studying the methods of the modern world and introducing of necessity [R1622 : page 55] modern inventions. The whole human race is thus of necessity being brought into vital contact, and this for the first time in the history of mankind.
"Thus the universal spread of education among all people ushers us immediately upon a new era in the history of mankind. We are not satisfied with the present attainment. The workingman's child who receives the same education as the millionaire will not be content [R1622 : page 56] to be his slave in the next generation, and there is no power of Church or State or society that can hold him so, for there are no traditions that can bind him.
"President Andrews, of Brown University, says: 'If anything has been made certain by the economic revolution of the last 25 years, it is that society cannot much longer get on upon the old libertarian, competitive, go-as-you-please system to which so many sensible persons seem addicted. The population of the great nations is becoming too condensed for that.'
"Bishop Westcost, of Cambridge University, says: 'On every side imperious voices trouble the repose which our indolence would wish to keep undisturbed. We can no longer dwell apart in secure isolation. The main interests of men are once again passing through a great change. They are most surely turning from the individual to the society.'
"Another writer says: 'We are now approaching a crisis. No human wisdom can predict its shaping any more than it can prevent the issue. The air is full of auguries; even our fiction has become very precisely apocalyptic. It is theoretic prophecy, anticipating the realization of perfect scientific and social economics --the paradise of outward comfortableness.'
"William T. Stead says: 'Everywhere the old order is changing and giving place to the new. The human race is now at one of the critical periods in its history, when the fountains of the great deep are broken up, and the flood of change submerges all the old established institutions, in the midst of which preceding generations have lived and died.'
"It is impossible to educate the human race without at the same time lifting it into the consciousness of the resistless power of numbers. We are now about to enter upon the period of activity which will be the result of this universal consciousness of the inherent power of manhood. Who can foretell its results?
"The child of the hodcarrier to-day is better trained than kings and princes in the not very far past. All the dishes placed on the table of Louis XIV. were tasted in presence of the king before he would touch them, and each guest was supplied with a spoon for the purpose of helping himself from a common dish. Anne of Austria, the queen who was celebrated for her beautiful hands, it is said, once gave a piece of meat to her neighbor, which she had just taken from her plate with her fingers, and allowed him (and this was the point which the historian recorded) as a special favor to lick off what remained on the hand.
"The child, of the commonest workingman, that attends our public school is more cultured in all the essentials of real civilization than were kings and queens and princes in the eighteenth century. When the common herd are thus lifted to the position of kings, they will not be long in fitting themselves with a crown."
A SERIOUS QUESTION.
"Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness."--2 Pet. 3:11.
IF this was a serious consideration in the Apostle's day, how much more weighty does it seem to-day, when we stand at the threshold of the new dispensation, and in the very midst of all the disintegrating influences of the old. A few more years will wind up the present order of things, and then the chastened world will stand face to face with the actual conditions of the established Kingdom of God. And yet the course of the Church is to be finished within the brief space of time that intervenes.
Seeing, then, that all these things--present political, social, religious and financial arrangements --are to be dissolved, and that so soon, and also how apart from these things are the real interests of the saints, how comparatively unimportant should the things of this present order seem to us: they are not worthy our time or words, which should go to the things which alone will survive. And, having such hopes as are set before us, and so clear a knowledge of the grand outcome, as well as of the minutiae of the divine plan, what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness? And yet with what carefulness we need to guard against being overcharged with the petty cares of this present time, and against imbibing the spirit of the world, which is all about us, and mixed with every question of the hour.
Only by constant watchfulness and prayer can we keep ourselves unspotted from the [R1622 : page 57] world. We need to keep a vigilant watch over our general character to see that it bears the divine likeness: that meekness, sincerity, moderation, temperance and truth are always manifest in us. And then we should see that all our conversation is such as becometh saints.
FAITHFUL OVER FEW.
--MRS. F. G. BURROUGHS.--O BLESSED Lord, how much I long
To do some noble work for thee!
To lift thee up before the world
Till every eye thy grace shall see;
But not to me didst thou intrust
The talents five or talents two,
Yet, in my round of daily tasks,
Lord, make me faithful over few.
I may not stand and break the bread
To those who hunger for thy Word,
And midst the throngs that sing thy praise
My feeble voice may ne'er be heard;
And, still, for me thou hast a place,
Some little corner I may fill,
Where I can pray, "Thy Kingdom Come!"
And seek to do thy blessed will.
A cup of water, in thy name,
May prove a comfort to the faint:
For thou wilt own each effort made
To soothe a child or aid a saint;
And thou wilt not despise, dear Lord,
My day of small things, if I try
To do the little I can do,
Nor pass the least endeavor by.
To teach the wise and mighty ones
The weak and foolish thou dost choose,
And even things despised and base
For thy great glory thou canst use:
So, Lord, tho' humble be my sphere,
In faith I bring to thee my all;
For thine own glory bless and break
My barley loaves and fishes small.
THE WORK FOR A CONVERTED WILL.
"The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness. He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city."--Prov. 16:31,32.
TO besiege and capture a city is a great undertaking, because every city has its massive defences of law and force, and is built with all the probable contingencies of attacks from enemies in view. In olden times the defences were walls and gates; but now they are of the improved order of governmental arrangements. Cities and communities of immense proportions are now banded together into great nations for mutual co-operation and defense, so that to attack a city now is to attack a nation, and to be withstood with all the defensive armory of the nation; and in no instance can one undertake it single-handed and alone. He who would undertake it must be backed by other powers equal, or at least apparently equal, to the emergency. And the victory of such a general will depend on his superior skill and ingenuity in utilizing the various forces and advantages in his possession against those employed by the defenders of the city.
Such ability as is thus required in a great general is quite rare. It indicates indomitable purpose, methodical planning and skill in execution, though these good qualities are often exercised in a bad cause. Such ability has always been highly esteemed among men, and the aspirants for fame have, therefore, in times past, sought it chiefly along this line, though they gained their laurels at the expense of the blood and groans of millions of their fellow-men.
While the exercise of these successful qualities along the lines of human ambitions is required of earthly heroes, the exercise of the similar qualities along the lines of God's appointment is required of those who would be heroes in his estimation. If there were not a similarity in the kind of the effort and success, the comparison would not be instituted. Let us first notice the similarity, and then the difference, that we may see clearly what the Lord here commends. [R1622 : page 58]
To rule one's spirit (mind, disposition) implies a conflict similar to that of taking a city; for, no matter when we begin, we find intrenched therein many armed and opposing powers. They have possession by heredity,-- they are there as the result of the fall. And, if we have passed the days of youth, they are the more intrenched, and require the greater skill and generalship to rout them. But, whether he begin early or late, he that would rule his own spirit must war a good warfare-- he must "fight the good fight" of faith down to the very end of the present existence. If a man would rule his own spirit, he must not only storm all the fortresses of inherited evils which seem to be almost a part of his nature, but, having gained possession and taken his seat upon the throne of this symbolic city (viz., the will), he must thereafter be continually on the defensive; for the old enemies are constantly on the alert, and ever and anon seeking to regain possession, so that he that continues to rule his own spirit is one who not only has routed the enemy, Sin, from the throne of his being, but who continues to keep him at bay.
To rule one's own spirit is by no means an easy task; and, as in the illustration, it cannot be done single handed and alone. Consequently, the wise general will invoke all the assistance at his command, remembering the words of the Apostle--"We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the powers of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." These powers of the world, the flesh, and the devil are all closely allied; and, therefore, he who plans for conquest and an established reign thereafter must seek alliance with another and a stronger power; which power is tendered to all who earnestly undertake the great work. This power is none other than the almighty arm of our God, who says to all who accept his strength, "Greater is he that is for you than all they that be against you;" gird yourselves like men, fear not, be strong.
The ruling of this symbolic city--one's own spirit--never will be done until first the commanding general, the Will, has decided to change his allegiance from Sin to God, and to rout the rebels who resist the change. But, in the words of a trite saying, "Where there is a will there is a way;"--for good or for evil. God will assist, through various agencies, toward good; Satan, with various agencies, toward evil. If the Will says, It must be done, it calls in the needed and available help, and forthwith it sets all the other faculties of the mind at work, first to subjugate and then to rule and regulate the entire being. The Conscience is commanded to keep a vigilant watch over all the mental operations; and the Judgment, under the influence of the Conscience, must decide as to righteousness or unrighteousness and report to the Will, which is under the same moral influence. Thus we have the three departments of government established --the legislative, which should always be the Conscience; the judicial, the Judgment; and the executive, the Will. And in every well regulated or righteously ruled mind all the other faculties must make their appeal to this Congress, and that, as the Will insists, in due and proper order. Their appeal to the Will to execute their desires before submitting them first to Conscience and Judgment should never be tolerated; but, when approved there, they may freely urge their claims upon the executive power, the Will. But the Will governs; and, if it be weak, the government is slack, and the whole man's appetites and passions and unholy ambitions take advantage of the situation: they seek to overbalance Judgment and to silence Conscience, and loudly clamor to the Will to have their own wild way. If the Will be weak, yet striving to keep under the influence of Conscience and sound Judgment, it will be fitful and irregular in its rulings, and the government will be unstable and ultimately wholly at the mercy of the appetites, passions and ambitions. The condition of such a soul is one of anarchy, which, unless its wild course be speedily arrested, hurriedly sweeps the whole being toward destruction.
It is all important, therefore, that the Will be consecrated to God and righteousness; and, secondly, that it strengthen itself with the Lord, and in his name and strength rule with a [R1622 : page 59] firm hand, cultivating as its assistants Conscience and Judgment, in determining the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, as expressed in his Word.
The Will has the most difficult office to fill; and the Lord's commendation is to the man of resolute Will, under the influence of a divinely enlightened Conscience and Judgment. Blessed is the man who sets his house in order, and who maintains that order to the end of his days. Truly, to such a one the hoary head is a crown of glory. The warring elements of his nature having been brought into subjection, the arts of peace have been cultivated, and now they flourish and adorn his character; and as Mr. Whittier beautifully expressed it--"All the jarring notes of life
Seem blending in a psalm;
And all the angles of the strife,
Now rounding into calm."
THE BOOK OF GENESIS. III.
DIVINE AUTHORITY AND INSPIRATION OF THE BOOK.
THE claim of this book, to be regarded as a part of divine revelation, is established beyond question by the authority of Christ and his apostles. It was a part of that collection of sacred writings, the Oracles of God, which were committed to the care and guardianship of the Jewish people. (Rom. 3:2.) Of these writings, collectively, the Savior and his apostles often speak as the Word of God; recognizing, and directly asserting, their divine authority and inspiration. See such passages, for example, as Matt. 5:17-19; John 5:39; Rom. 3:2; Matt. 22:43; Mark 12:36; 2 Tim. 3:16; 1 Pet. 1:10-12; 2 Pet. 1:21. This book, was, therefore, as a part of these divine writings (called in the New Testament the Scriptures, the Holy Scriptures, the Oracles of God), expressly recognized by the Savior and his apostles as of divine authority, and was declared to be "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." --2 Tim. 3:16.
The genuineness of the book (in other words, that it is a DIVINE BOOK; that, in this sense, it is not a spurious production) is thus established by the highest authority. It is a question of less importance by whom the book was written. In regard to many books of the Old Testament, this can not be determined with certainty. Nor is this necessary to be known; nor would it by itself prove their inspiration and divine authority, which must rest on other grounds. The authority of a writing, claimed to be divine, does not in any case rest on the particular writer or human instrumentality, but on the divine attestation given to it; and this attestation can be given, as in many cases it has been, to writings which have come to us anonymously, and of which the particular writer cannot be determined with certainty.
COMPOSITION OF THE BOOK.
The attentive reader will observe very marked peculiarities in the composition of the book.
There are striking variations of style and manner, not only in treating of subjects differing in their nature, where it might be expected, but also where the subjects are of the same general character. These variations are observable even in a translation, and still more so in the original text, where words and forms of expression, familiar to some portions, are never found in others. With these variations in the general manner of the writer are connected certain other peculiarities, which mark the transition from one portion to another. In the first subdivision of the book, for example, embracing the first chapter and the first three verses of the second, the name of the Divine Being is uniformly GOD. In the second, extending from the fourth verse of the second chapter to the end of the third, it is uniformly JEHOVAH GOD, except in the quoted words of the tempter's address to Eve, and of her reply (chap. 3:1-5), which are not the language of the narrator. In the third, contained in the fourth chapter, it is uniformly JEHOVAH, except in the quoted language of Eve, verse 25. In the fourth, contained in the fifth chapter, it is again uniformly GOD, except in verse 29 in the words quoted from Lamech.
For the object of this section it is not necessary to add further illustrations on this point. But the careful reader will also observe that there are portions where the name GOD is chiefly employed, with the occasional use of the name JEHOVAH, in which the sense is complete, [R1623 : page 60] and the connection clear, without the passages containing the latter name. Take, for example, chaps. 6-10. If the reader will inclose in brackets the passages containing the name JEHOVAH, namely, verse 3 and verses 6-8 in chap. 6, verses 1-6 and the last clause of verse 16 in chap. 7, verses 20-22 in chap. 8, verses 20-29 in chap. 9, and verse 9 in chap. 10, he will find that the thread of the narrative is unbroken, and the sense complete, when this portion is read without these passages. They make additional statements which are important in themselves, but are not necessary to the coherency of the narrative.
The natural inference is, that the Book of Genesis consists of different revelations, made at different times, anterior to the age of the inspired writer to whom we owe its present form; and that he embodied them in a connected narrative, supplying what was wanting in one from the others and adding himself what was necessary for its completion. This in no degree detracts from the divine authority of the book, which (as already remarked) depends not on the human writer, or on our knowledge of him, but on the divine attestation; and this is given to the book itself, irrespective of the human instrumentality through which it was communicated.
This conclusion is strengthened by the character of large portions of its contents, consisting of genealogies, or accounts of births and other incidents of family history, anterior to the age of Moses, the writer of the book.
Of the date of the earliest of these divine communications there is no intimation. But it would be unreasonable to suppose that the ancient patriarchs, Enoch and Noah, who "walked with God," Abraham the "Friend of God," had no authentic and divinely attested record of these truths, on which their own relation to the Divine Being depended, and without the knowledge of which it could not be understood. We have therefore reason for holding that these earliest revelations come to us from the inspiration of the remote and unknown past, beyond the date of the writings of Moses himself.
THE WRITER OF THE BOOK.
The truths recorded in the Book of Genesis are pre-supposed as known in the books which follow it in the Pentateuch, and in all the subsequent books of the Hebrew Scriptures. The Book of Exodus takes up and continues history, from the point where it is left in Genesis, with an express reference to what had been related in that book. (Compare Exodus 1:1-8.) It recognizes incidentally, as known facts, God's "covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob" (chap. 2:24), his relation to them as "the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" (ch. 3:6), and their posterity as "his people" (verse 7), styling him "the God of their fathers" (verses 13,15,16), and "Jehovah, God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" (chap. 4:5); his "appearing to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob," and his "covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their sojournings" (chap. 6:3-5 and 8); the charge given by Joseph (Gen. 50:25) respecting his remains (chap. 13:19); the six days of creation and the rest on the seventh.--Chap. 20:11.
These are only incidental allusions to things known, and necessarily presuppose the revelations and historical details in this book, to which they refer.
Without these revelations, the Hebrews would have had no knowledge of the God whom they were required to worship and obey, as the Creator and Supreme Lawgiver, or of the guilt of idolatry as a sin against him. Without these historical details, the frequent allusions to their connection with the early patriarchs, and with the promises made to them, would have been an unintelligible enigma.
The Book of Genesis was therefore an integral and necessary part of that divine code, which, under the name Law (Deut. 31:9,24), Law of Jehovah (Ex. 13:9), Book of the Law of God (Josh. 24:26), Book of the Law of Moses (Josh. 23:6), Law of Moses (1 Kings 2:3), is ascribed to him as the writer. This is claimed by himself, in the body of the code. It is there said, that "Moses wrote this law" (Deut. 31:9), that he "made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished."--Deut. 31:24.
That the writings which bore this general name, including Genesis, were from the hand of Moses, is thus proved by his own assertion, and by the uniform testimony of the writers nearest to his own age.
The Book of Genesis comes to us, therefore, with the authority of the inspired Lawgiver, having the same divine attestation as the writings first communicated through him.
ITS DIVISIONS AND CONTENTS.
The general divisions and contents of the book are as follows:
Second division, chapters 4-9. Account of sinful man, and of the prevalence of irreligion and immorality, from the fall to the first universal manifestation of divine justice in the destruction of the guilty race.
Third division, chapters 10,11. Continued development of its history and proof of its alienation from the true God, and of the want of a self-renovating power.
Fourth division, chapters 12-50. Initiation, and progressive steps, of the divine arrangement for the renovation of the race.
STUDIES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT. --INTERNATIONAL S.S. LESSONS.--
SUGGESTIVE THOUGHTS DESIGNED TO ASSIST THOSE OF OUR READERS WHO ATTEND BIBLE CLASSES WHERE THESE LESSONS ARE USED; THAT THEY MAY BE ENABLED TO LEAD OTHERS INTO THE FULNESS OF THE GOSPEL.
TRIAL OF ABRAHAM'S FAITH.
I. QUAR., LESSON VIII., FEB. 25, GEN. 22:1-13.
Golden Text--"By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac."--Heb. 11:17.
VERSE 1. "God did tempt Abraham." This statement must be considered together with that of James 1:13,14. "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man. But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own desires and enticed."
The words rendered "tempt" and "tempted" in both cases signify to try, to prove; and the statements seem contradictory until we consider the full statement of the Apostle James. He is referring to the fact that that which makes any applied test of character a temptation to evil is either the weakness of an undisciplined character, or else an inherent disposition to evil which has an affinity for the evil alternative before him, for neither of which things is God responsible. If the character were established in righteousness, no presentation of known evil could awaken a desire for it. Thus it is with God: he is so confirmed, so established, in righteousness, and he so fully recognizes the nature of evil, that "he cannot be tempted with evil:" no presentation of any evil could possibly induce him to turn from righteousness. In the sense, therefore, of inclining or inducing a man to evil, God never tempts any man, although he does frequently apply the tests of character by causing or permitting the alternatives of good and evil to be placed before the individual, the results of which trial or proving makes manifest the good or evil tendencies of the man's character and their strength or weakness.
In the test applied to Abraham, God proved his servant under a fiery ordeal which manifested a character which he could approve and highly reward, and Abraham was called the friend of God.--James 2:23.
VERSES 2,3. The test which God applied to Abraham was not an arbitrary one: the whole incident was designed to be a type of a subsequent transaction in the interests of the whole world. It was a typical prophecy of God's great gift of his only begotten and well beloved Son.
To this typical feature of the transaction the Apostle refers, saying, "Abraham is the father of us all [who are of the faith of Abraham], like unto him whom he believed, even God, who...calleth those things which be not as though they were [using them as types]." (Rom. 4:17--margin.) In the type, as the Apostle suggests, Abraham represented God; and with this suggestion it is not difficult to see the significance of the whole event. If Abraham represented God, then Isaac his son represented the Son of God, and his offering up by Abraham was a symbol of God's sacrifice of his Son for the sins of the world, as the Apostle also indicates in Heb. 11:17-19, saying that Abraham offered up his only son in whom centered all his promises, and that in a figure he received him from the dead. And, looking still further, it is not difficult to see that Isaac's wife, Rebecca, was also a type of the true Church, the bride of Christ. A full consideration of these types would go beyond our present limits of space as well as lead away from the main feature of this lesson, viz., the faith of Abraham and its worthy example for our imitation.
We observe, first, that Abraham's faith was a childlike faith. He trusted God's love and believed his wisdom superior to his own, and accepted his authority as paramount to every other consideration. The severest possible test of such a faith was the command to slay his son with his own hand and to offer him upon the altar of sacrifice. [R1623 : page 62] This, too, was his only son (for Ishmael was not counted in the full sense a son, but rather a servant): the son in whom centered all the great anticipation of his life, the son [R1624 : page 62] of promise and received in a miraculous way, the son of his old age, and the one through whom all the promises of God were to be fulfilled. Doubtless, too, he was a dutiful son and well instructed in the right ways of the Lord, and a joy and comfort to Abraham and Sarah. But all these considerations of head and heart were set aside, and with unquestioning promptness Abraham prepared to fulfil the Lord's command, to sacrifice his son, Isaac.
VERSES 4-6. When they came in sight of the place of sacrifice, Abraham felt the need of renewed strength from on high that his courage might not fail; so, with Isaac, he withdrew from the servants that they might have a season of communion with God. This drawing near to God in private prayer and communion was the secret of Abraham's steady unwavering faith and obedience. He became personally acquainted with God; and the knowledge of God's works and ways and promises heretofore had been handed down through faithful patriarchs and were believed and trusted in by Abraham. And this knowledge of and acquaintance with God gave the faith and love and courage to obey. Thus it must be with all God's children who would be pleasing and acceptable to him. First let them make sure that it is God who speaks, and then let obedience be prompt and unquestioning. Then he sometimes spoke to his people by an audible voice, or by an angel, but in these last days he speaks to us through his inspired apostles and prophets; and their testimony he declares sufficient for our guidance into the doing of his will. (2 Tim. 3:17.) That upon which our faith should rest is not, therefore, voices from heaven, either real or imaginary, nor the whisperings of a diseased imagination, but the sure Word of prophecy unto which we do well to take heed, as did faithful Abraham to the voice of God as he then spoke.
A faith thus rooted and grounded in a knowledge of God's works and ways and an intimate personal acquaintance with him is one which cannot be tossed about by every wind of doctrine, and which is pleasing and acceptable to God."How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,[R1624 : page 62]
Is laid for your faith in his excellent Word!"
SELLING THE BIRTHRIGHT.
I. QUAR., LESSON IX., MARCH 4, GEN. 25:27-34.
Golden Text--"The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment."--Luke 12:23.
The incident of this lesson, which should be considered together with chapters 27 and 28, is one which is generally viewed as casting great reproach upon Jacob, while Esau is regarded with sympathy and pity. Jacob is regarded as an unprincipled sharper and deceiver, and Esau as an innocent dupe, overpowered by unfortunate circumstances and his brother's ambitious cunning. But, since the special favor of God attended the transaction, it is evidently wise to reconsider the matter, lest haply our conclusions may be found to be against God as well as against Jacob. Since God seems to approve Jacob's course, we ought to expect to find some evidence of Jacob's integrity in the matter. And so we do. We find that which God could commend and reward, and which, properly viewed, was entirely right.
The birthright, the chief inheritance in estate and authority, in patriarchal times belonged naturally to the eldest son of a family. And in the case of Isaac, the father of Jacob and Esau, it included not only personal possessions, but also the covenant blessing of God specially promised to Abraham and inherited by Isaac; and, as Isaac had reached advanced age, he began to realize that the covenant blessing was not to be realized in himself personally, but was to be transmitted to his posterity. This was also indicated to Rebekah, Isaac's wife, when she was told that "the elder should serve the younger." Thus Jacob was shown to be the divinely chosen line through whom the covenant blessings should be realized. The words of Isaac in blessing Jacob (chapter 27:28,29) indicate the transmitting of the Abrahamic covenant blessing to him-- that in him and in his seed should all the nations of the earth be blessed;--and the blessing was further emphasized when Jacob was about to depart to seek a wife in Padan-aram, when he said, "God Almighty bless thee and make thee fruitful and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; and give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee and to thy seed with thee, that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham." (Chapter 28:3,4; Heb. 11:20.) And this covenant was confirmed to Jacob by [R1624 : page 63] a special message from God, as our next lesson indicates. See Chapter 28:13-15; 1 Chron. 16:17.
Now for the integrity of Jacob's course. Observe (1) that Esau manifested but very little appreciation of his birthright, in that he was willing to sell it for the small price of a mess of pottage; (2) that he only regarded so much of it as pertained to the present life, and that its chief feature, the Abrahamic covenant, was quite overlooked, showing that he had little or no faith in it and no appreciation of it. (See verse 32.) (3) We remember the line of descent of the covenant favor was hinted to Rebekah in the promise that the elder should serve the younger (Gen. 25:23), which promise was treasured up by Rebekah, and doubtless communicated to Jacob, who was inspired by it to look for some honorable way to acquire it from his brother to whom it pertained by natural descent, he being the first-born. The occasion above referred to was such an opening; and Jacob, who had faith in the promise of God to Abraham and its future fulfilment and also in the Word of the Lord to his mother, seeing his brother's lack of faith and appreciation, embraced the opportunity to lawfully purchase the birthright at the price freely agreed upon by Esau. Thus lawfully he came into the inheritance to which God had called him.
(4) Some years after (25:27,31; 26:34,35; 27:1-10), Isaac, feeling that his course of life was nearing the end, determined to bestow his blessing, the birthright, upon Esau; or, in other words, to make or declare his last will and testament. (27:1-4.) Here Esau should have reminded his father that he had sold his prospective birthright to Jacob; but this he evidently failed to do, as he prepared to disregard the contract entirely. But, providentially, Rebekah overheard the father's expressed intention, and, fearing that his preference for Esau would lead him also to disregard the contract, if he indeed knew of it, she planned the artifice by which Isaac was misled and caused to bestow the blessing upon Jacob.
That Jacob lied to Isaac in claiming to be Esau we do not understand, since in the lawful purchase of the birthright he stood in the place of Esau as the representative of the first-born. Even so the Levites were called the first-born of Israel because they represented the first-born. Esau, in selling his birthright, actually made Jacob his attorney in fact to receive, hold and exercise at any time and forever all of his (Esau's) rights and privileges pertaining to the birthright in every way and manner. So Jacob had a perfect right to appear as Esau, name and all; and Rebekah did no wrong in aiding in the transaction, she too being actuated by faith in the promise of God and by a due appreciation of it. And God showed his valuation of the faith which thus trusted and appreciated his promise.
In this view of the matter we see a reason for God's approval and rewarding of Jacob. Jacob was a man of faith who had respect unto the promises of God, although, like Abraham, he might have to die in faith and to wait in the grave for the realization. This great favor he earnestly sought; and, having obtained the promise, he never bartered it away, nor walked unworthy of an heir of such a hope. He loved and worshiped God, and diligently sought to know and to do his will.
Esau, on the contrary, steadily pursued a wayward course. He married heathen wives who were a cause of grief to Isaac and Rebekah (26:34,35); and he hated his brother, and determined to slay him.
But, if we read this incident as a mere scrap of history, we fail to receive the special benefit which its recital was designed to teach, as indicated by the Apostle Paul, who refers to it as a type of God's purpose as to election, the two sons of Isaac representing the Jewish and Gospel dispensations of peoples--Esau the Jewish and Jacob the Gospel dispensation and house.
The two boys were twins, and so were these two dispensations. (See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II., chap. vii.) And as it was foretold of these that the elder should serve the younger, so also the Gospel Church, though younger, is to take precedence to the Jewish house or church. The younger or Gospel house is to partake of the root and fatness of the Abrahamic covenant, while the elder is to receive mercy and favor through its mercy.--Rom. 11:31.
So God's purposes according to election stand (Rom. 9:11-16); and it is his will that all who in this acceptable day of the Lord make their calling and election sure shall have the chief blessing as the Church of the first-born (Heb. 12:23), though actually the Jewish house was first developed. The latter will constitute the earthly phase of the Kingdom, while the former will be the [R1624 : page 64] higher spiritual phase in power and authority.
Those who in the Gospel dispensation make their calling and election sure, being counted the worthy seed of Abraham and heirs of the promise of God, will be such as have too high a valuation of it to part with it for a mess of pottage. Yet many who were called to this high office, like Esau and fleshly Israel, fail to appreciate the calling and, lacking faith and perseverance, ignominiously sell their high privilege as the prospective heirs of God and joint-heirs of Jesus Christ. Israel after the flesh, the natural descendants of Abraham and heirs of the promise, fell through unbelief and through failure to appreciate the goodness of God in the gift of his Son and in the blessings offered first to them through him. They preferred, instead, to pursue the course which their own pride and self-will dictated. Thus, as Esau, they profaned their birthright. (Heb. 12:16.) And so also many of the Gentiles, since favored with the call, have likewise fallen from this grace.
Let those who appreciate their privileges in Christ take heed lest they also in some unguarded moment sell their privileges for the paltry recompenses of this present life.
ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM FAITHFUL WORKERS.
OUR DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER RUSSELL:-- Subjoined you will find list of subscribers, so that we may have the remainder of the sheet for personal chat. First allow us to send our most affectionate greeting, and to wish you all the joy of the season. But this, as you well know, is backed by our earnest prayers on your behalf, that you may not only be preserved from all evil but led into all truth. Truly, we need to bear each other up before the throne of grace in prayer, for the powers of evil are even now most malignant and manifest; and well need we take warning and comfort from our Father's message--"if possible, they shall deceive the very elect." Ah! thank him, we know that it is impossible; for he will never leave, never forsake; and "no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." We are finding it a very trying time. The wheat is being sifted, and so, instead of increasing, our numbers are getting rather less; but this brings out a point that it is more and more needful we should keep to the front, and that is, real conversion and consecration, not to a particular work, but to Christ. This is forced upon us when we see some very eager for the "truth," and who seem most promising for a time; but the novelty wears off, the trials come and they stumble because they have not realized their greatest need; i.e., that they are only sinners at best, until they are wholly given up to and begotten again of Christ. Then, too, Spiritism is spreading so rapidly as to be almost a fashion, and the church nominal is most rapidly rushing to destruction. Here we thank God and you for the help received from TOWER, both on "Higher Criticism" and Parliament of Religions.
But let us always be kept humble by remembering that we are acceptable only in Christ our Lord. I feel there is much danger of thinking that we are acceptable for our works' sake; and oh! I do pray, my dear Brother and Sister, that you, who have such a mighty responsibility upon you, may be kept from all evil.
Brother Rogers will possibly tell you of my visit to and meeting him and the dear ones in London during my Christmas holiday. But I cannot help feeling uncomfortable and somewhat grieved that the meetings in London are likely to be more disputatious than is compatible with loving and gentle helpfulness. There are some such loving and dear souls amongst them; but some seem to manifest more of the contentious than the Christ-like Spirit. Perhaps it is that they are "freshmen." But we must pray the Lord to touch them, to search their hearts before them, to teach them and to keep them from divisions.
A. P. AND P. C. RILEY.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I have felt very sorry that I could seemingly do so little, but God knows best. Now I am going to make a proposition to you. I own two forty-acre plots in Orange County, Florida. The town of Apopka lies between them, and there is a railroad depot near each. There are no improvements on either. Now, as I cannot do much any other way, if you will accept them for the Tract Fund, I thought you might sell them in five or ten-acre lots, and make more out of them than I could. Your Sister in Christ,
MRS. M. TURNER.
[We have accepted the Sister's kind donation, and now offer the land in plots of five acres each, to anyone desiring a Florida home. Price, $100. Five acres in Florida make a good sized orange grove.--W.T. Tract Society.]
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