May 30, 1904


Pastor Russell of Allegheny, Pa., spoke here twice today to thoughtful audiences. His afternoon discourse was on "The Oathbound Covenant," from Heb. 6:17-20. His morning discourse was from the text, "Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people." (Isa. 62:10) He said:

The Lord's messages through His prophets of old were stated in such a form as to be applicable frequently in large measure both to natural Israel, and spiritual Israel. Our text and the entire chapter, of which it forms a part, is of this order. The preceding context refers to trials and difficulties of the [HGL218] Lord's people, and assures them that the unfavorable conditions of the present time shall not always obtain; truth shall not always fall in the streets; error, selfishness and sin shall not always prosper; the time for a change of dispensation is nearing, and the Lord's people are to have strong consolation in this thought. While this applies chiefly to spiritual Israel, it is in some measure true also of natural Israel during its period of relationship to the Lord, from the leaving of Egypt down to the time when Messiah was rejected and crucified. During that period the Lord's favor was with the Hebrew people in one sense, while adversity was with them in consequence of their relationship to Him in another sense. While the nations about them might indulge in idolatry to their hearts' content without special chastisement and correction, Israel, according to the covenant which God made with them, was not suffered to lapse into idolatry and other evil conditions without receiving chastisement upon chastisement time after time. In this sense of the word their being the people of the Lord meant special trials and difficulties to that nation. The advantages offsetting these the apostle mentions, saying "What advantage then hath the Jew?" He answers the question himself, pointing out that their advantages were not of a temporal kind. His words are, "Much advantage every way chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God." Rom. 3:1-2


A proper view of Israel's experiences can only be had from the scriptural standpoint, as follows: That nation was called of God to be His special nation, an instrumentality for blessing all the families of the world by communicating to them the divine laws and establishing with them a righteous covenant. This, indeed, was a high calling, and doubtless appealed to the vanity of many in that nation, rather than excite in them reverence and humility and an appreciation of their unworthiness for so great and honorable a service and the preparing for it. Surrounded by idolatry, which sensuously appealed to the lower and fallen instincts of humanity in the name of religion and worship, it should not surprise us that this was one of Israel's continual besetments.

As we notice the history of the nation we perceive that the various besetments and corrections of the Lord tended to separate the more worthy from the less worthy of that people. Calamities were permitted to come upon them at times, which wiped out thousands of those who were idolatrously inclined; and at other times other thousands of those who were rebellious against the Lord, also suffered, and after the division of the nation into two Israel and Judah the tendency was to still further separate the loyal from the less loyal of that people, the more loyal being gathered to Judah. One national besetment after another followed upon each nation, evidently with a view of discerning those loyal to God and those not loyal. Finally, in the utter overthrow of the ten-tribed kingdom practically all of those loyal to the Lord were gathered into the two-tribed kingdom of Judah. Here trials, difficulties and siftings still further were upon them, until finally Judah was carried into captivity to Babylon for 70 years, at the close of which the Lord, through Cyrus, opened the way back to the promised land for such as maintained their heart-loyalty to Him. These were but few, about 52,000 out of all the twelve tribes that had gone into captivity, whose number had been millions. What a sifting, what a searching for loyalty in that people! Even then, while the Lord's blessings were with them on their return, they still had disadvantages in temporal matters as compared with other nations they were a subject nation.

The effect of all of these disciplines was the utter eradication of idolatry from the Israelites and the better preparation of them as a nation for the coming of Messiah, who, according to divine arrangement, must first offer Himself and the privileges of joint-heirship with Him in His kingdom, "to the Jew first." There is no room for question that the Jews at the time of our Lord's first advent were the most devout people in the world. There were well intentioned people among the Gentiles, as, witness Cornelius, the Syrophenician woman, the widow of Zarephath, etc. ; but as a whole no other nation or people in the world would bear any comparison to the Jew in religious tendency of life. The apostle's words on this subject are forceful when he speaks of "our twelve tribes instantly serving God' and hoping to attain to the great promise made to the fathers." Acts 26:6-7.


In these experiences of fleshly Israel, God was saying to that people, "Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way for the people; cast up, cast up a highway, gather out the stones, lift up a standard for the Gentiles." Mount Sinai, the place of the giving of the law, where Israel entered into covenant relationship with God and became His people, was, so to speak, the first gate, the gate of consecration; and the experiences of that nation, to which we have already adverted, were that nation's steps in the narrow way leading them onward toward the gate of glory. We are not blaming the Jews for not keeping their law covenant; rather we are to sympathize with them and to remember the declaration of the apostle to the effect that they had undertaken an impossibility, "for by the deeds of the law, can no flesh be justified in God's sight." The fact, therefore, that as a nation they failed to come up to the requirements of their covenant is not to be wondered at.

Everything considered, that nation made good progress from the degraded depths into which they had fallen, first as a slave nation and secondly as surrounded by perverse influences continually. When, therefore, we point out that as a nation Israel failed to attain the gracious purposes for which she was called, we are not speaking disrespectfully of the Jews, for the same would undoubtedly have been true of any other nation. God foreknew their failure and His plan was arranged accordingly. He foretold through the prophets that the nation would stumble and fall from divine favor, and that the fall of them would mean the throwing open of the riches of God's kingdom proposition to all nations.

Faithful, noble ones there were in Israel throughout all its history Abraham, Isaac, Moses, David, Hezekiah, Josiah, Daniel, Elijah, and all the prophets, besides less notable ones than these, whose faith in God was abundantly attested by their works, and whose approved faith is yet to [HGL219] be rewarded, as the apostle points out in Heb. 11:38-40. These faithful ones have specially profited by God's favor to that nation yet the entire nation profited largely by its experiences. And not only so, but a light from the promises of God and from the earnest ones of the Hebrew people went abroad through the heathen nations round about, and exercised a beneficial influence upon reverential souls such as Cornelius, Jairus and others, preparing them for the great blessing that in due time was thrown open. However, Israel as a nation failed to obtain the glorious things proffered them as a nation. They entered into the first gate of consecration, they walked for centuries the narrow way of discipline, they were benefited by the experiences of that discipline, yet as a nation they were not ready for the grand and glorious things at the farther end, and so the Lord indicated through the prophet, saying "They shall not enter into my rest."


The apostle calls attention to this prophecy of Israel's failure to get the blessings promised, saying: It is evident, therefore, that God intended the giving of a great blessing or rest or refreshment, and they to whom it was at first made known failed to enter in because of unbelief. On the strength of this the apostle urges us, who have turned to God from amongst the Gentiles, that we should seek to enter into that rest which Israel after the flesh failed to attain that we by the grace of God should seek to make our calling and election sure. The apostle again refers to the same thing, saying, "Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded." Of that specially favored nation, fleshly Israel, a few were Israelites indeed in whom there was no guile, These received the Lord, these entered into His rest, these became the nucleus of the elect Israel to whom God purposes to give the promised kingdom, and through whom He proposes to bless all the families of the earth. The Apostle John mentions this same matter, saying of our Lord, "He came unto His own (people) and his own (people) received Him not; but to as many as received Him (the Israelites indeed) to them gave He power (privilege) to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name which were begotten not of blood, neither of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." John 1:12-13


We have just seen how God's selective and refining processes made ready and gathered together to Jesus the Israelites indeed at the close of an experience of over eighteen centuries from the time the original promise was made to Abraham. After the gathering out of nominal Israel all the Israelites indeed, and after the experiences of these at Pentecost as the spiritual Israel, the house of sons begotten of the Spirit, we find that the door was thrown open that henceforth from all nations, peoples, kindred and tongues, the Lord might gather into this one company, spiritual Israel, all those who at heart reverence and serve Him, loving righteousness and hating iniquity. It is not surprising to us that the whole number of this class should be stated in the Scriptures to be a "little flock." Neither does it surprise us to note the declaration that it will contain not many great, not many wise, not many learned according to the course of this world, but chiefly the poor of this world, rich in faith, to be heirs of the kingdom.

Our text, while applying to natural Israel in a general way for a time, evidently applies specially to spiritual Israel since natural Israel failed to attain the glorious ends of their call, as the Lord had foreseen and foretold. It is to spiritual Israel that the prophet's words have special force, "Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the peoples."

The gates through which spiritual Israel is called to pass, corresponds much to those through which the typical people were called to pass. The first gate is consecration the second gate is glorification, the intermediate way is the "narrow way." Our Lord speaks of this gateway through which all must pass who would be heirs of the kingdom, who would attain to the wonderful things to which God has called His people, spiritual Israel, whose calling is declared specifically to be a "high calling" a "heavenly calling." Our Lord declares: "Straight (difficult) is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." The majority are still walking on the broad road for selfishness and sin, and only a very few have any heart for the suggestion that they should love righteousness and hate iniquity and walk separate from mankind in general, in the footsteps of Jesus. It will be seen from our remarks, as well as from the quotations we have made, that neither the Scriptures nor we imply a great multitude in this "narrow way."


True, we live in a day when hundreds of millions are called Christians, just as in our Lord's day millions were called Jews, Israelites; but as He said of many of that time that they were of their father the devil; because his works they did, and that they belonged to the synagogue of Satan rather than to the church of God, so we believe it would be true of many who today bear the name of Christian. The Scriptures speak of these as tares, imitation wheat, and explain to us that they draw nigh to the Lord with their lips, while their hearts are far from Him, and, again, that they have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof.

We are not in any measure charging others, we are merely calling attention to the landmarks which the word of God points out, which delimit the narrow way, and those who walk therein and apart from the general world. If there is to be objection found with our statements on the subject, the objection should be studied against the Scriptures which we quote, and they should be shown to be false or their testimony should be accepted. But when we consider the straightness of the gate the elect of God are invited to enter, when we consider that it means a consecration of time and talents and influence and reputation, all that we have, all that we are, to the Lord and to His service even unto death; when we see that, in our Lord's own words, walking in this pathway in His footsteps, as His disciples, means bearing the cross after Him, we are not surprised to find that few care to look for this gate, few find it, few enter [HGL220] it, few walk in the narrow way, and consequently few will be found emerging from the narrow way at the farther gate of glory, honor and immortality.

These travelers in the narrow way by the front gate of consecration to the gate of glory have a special mission under a special commission from the Lord. His words are: "Ye are my witnesses!" "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify the Father in heaven." "We are to show forth the praises of Him who hath called us from darkness into His marvelous light." This part of our service is represented in our text by the words, "Lift up a standard for the people." The Lord's people, the little flock, the body of Christ, are to let their lights shine out in the darkness of this world which surrounds them, that they may thus bear witness to the light a witness which will in the present time attract some, in all a little flock, to the narrow way and its straight gate. But more, their lights are to bear a witness which will be profitable to the world of mankind in general eventually, when the world's great trial day, the Millennial age, shall come. The apostle declares of this faithful little flock, bearing their crosses in the footsteps of their Lord Jesus, "We are made a spectacle to men and to angels." Laboring for the right, laboring for the truth, laying down our lives for the brethren, without regard to party or sect or denomination, in the name of the Great Captain of our salvation, we are a spectacle to angels respecting the power of God to sanctify and transform the hearts of those who were sinners, children of wrath even as others. We are a spectacle to men in that, as the apostle says, they shall behold your godly lives in attestation of the glorious message of God's grace which you bear. The standard that is set up is God's standard of righteousness- "Be ye holy even as your Father in heaven is holy." We would set up this standard before the world, even though obliged to admit that, because of weaknesses of the flesh, we are unable to measure up to the standard ourselves. Even though we are obliged to admit that there is none righteous, no, not one, still we are to raise up the standard. The standard is higher than we, the standard is to be seen by all people, and, whether in the present life or in the life to come, this standard is sure to have its beneficent effects.


The highway mentioned in our text is not yet built. It is in process of construction, however. It is the grand highway of holiness which, during the coming age, the Millennium, will be the world's opportunity for return to divine favor. The world when its due time shall come to receive the blessing of the Lord at the hands of the little flock, Christ, the Head, and the faithful ones the body of Christ will not be required to walk in the same narrow way and through the same straight gate by which the elect of this present time are being disciplined and brought forward; for they are being prepared for a special service that they may be the kings and priests, the rulers and teachers of the world of mankind in the Millennial kingdom. The Lord mentions the highway of holiness through the same prophet elsewhere (Isa. 35:8, 9), saying, "A highway shall be there (not here under present conditions, but there under Millennial conditions) and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it but it shall be for those, the wayfaring men though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed of the Lord shall walk there."

We rejoice that the poor world, which at present has no desire for the narrow way, will be blessed eventually with an opportunity for going up on this highway of holiness. It will be totally different from the present downward road of sin in which the world is traveling; it will be an upward road instead of a downward road, but it will be equally broad the opportunities for righteousness, for the blessing of righteousness will be then proportionately as strong as are the present inducements to sin and unrighteousness. Now, because of the reign of the prince of darkness, the "god of this world," the course of righteousness is a costly one. It costs the loss of many earthly good things- "Yea, whoever would live godly in this present time shall suffer persecution;" but in the coming age, when the highway of holiness shall take the place of the highway of sin, whosoever will live godly shall receive a blessing, and a mental, moral and physical uplift proportionate to his progress in the way of righteousness; and, on the contrary, whoever shall live ungodly in that time will suffer stripes and punishments.

Thus, during the reign of the prince of darkness evil has the smooth and downward course, and righteousness has the rugged and upward way, the disadvantages according to the flesh; but when the new dispensation shall be ushered in, when Satan shall be bound that he shall deceive the nations no more, and when the times of peace and righteousness shall rule the world of mankind to its blessing, the sinner will have the rugged and difficult way, and the redeemed of the Lord, the world of mankind, bought by His precious blood, and willing to accept and use the divine favors, will go up in liberty and joy, from strength to strength, from knowledge to knowledge, from grace to grace and from one degree of perfection to another on the highway of holiness until, continuing therein until its further end, they shall be absolutely perfect and ready for life eternal, the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Our text views this matter from the standpoint of the church, head and body, and their present and future work. In the present time we are to pass through the gate of consecration along the narrow way, and, if faithful, to enter through the gate of glory into the kingdom of God's dear Son; and the experiences of sacrifice and suffering which our Lord underwent and which His church is to participate in, "filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ," is all with a view to the opening up of the grand highway of blessing for the world at the close of this age, the stumbling stones of darkness and error will all be gathered out of the way, the difficulties which now beset the faithful and make their way a narrow one the ravenous beasts of sin and selfishness which beset their pathway and threaten to devour them, and which need to be fought against with faith and determination these shall be no more; "no ravenous beasts shall be there," says the prophet.

In the divine plan this highway is nearly complete at the present time arrangements are under divine supervision [HGL221] and very shortly all of the faithful church will have passed through both gates. The highway shall be without stumbling stones, so that the wayfaring man, though simple, may not err therein, and the standard for the people shall be fully and clearly set forth. The kings and priests shall all have been educated and made ready for their work, and when the great time of trouble with which this present age is to end shall accomplish its purposes for making ready for the kingdom of God's dear Son, and humbling the hearts of men, of mankind, plowing them deep with the plowshares of sorrow, then the new dispensation will open, the Millennial morning will dawn, the highway of holiness will be opened, the curse will be lifted, and the blessing of all the families of the earth through the spiritual seed of Abraham will begin. Gal. 3:16-29.

Dearly beloved friends! I address you as those who ostensibly are walking in the narrow way as those who have already entered the first of these gates, the straight gate of consecration as those who have thus given their lives wholly to the Lord to serve Him and His cause. We are in the narrow way. At times it may seem steep and difficult. The world, the flesh and the adversary may buffet us and oppose us, and we may at times seem to ourselves, as doubtless we seem to the world, to be making very slow progress toward the gate and the farther end the gate of glory. But en route we have the encouragement of our Master's words, assuring us that all things are working together for good to them that love God to those who are called according to His purpose. (Rom. 8:28.) We are thus assured that even the disadvantageous conditions of propositions how encountered are all working out for us, if rightly received, "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." We are assured that we should look not at the things that are seen, that we should not set our hearts upon earthly things, that we should not take too seriously the joys and sorrows of this present time, but that we should look at the things that are unseen, the things that are eternal, the things that God hath in reservation for them that love Him.


We look at these things through the divine Word. We behold them with the eye of faith; they cheer us, they comfort us by the way, they put a new song in our mouths, even the loving kindness of our God. They evidence to us the Lord's love, sympathy and appreciation, assuring us that all of His people's afflictions are the Lord's difficulties (Isa. 63:9); assuring us that "as He was so are we in this world;" assuring us that greater is He who is on our part than all they that be against us, and assuring us that the glory, honor and immortality of the kingdom and its blessed privileges of participation with our Redeemer in the great work of blessing the world of mankind with the helpful influences of the Millennium, will far more than offset the trials and difficulties and sorrowful experiences to us that present experiences are necessary for our discipline and instruction and preparation for the kingdom opportunities.

In view of these things, dear friends, what shall we say? Shall we go through, go through the gates? shall we press along the line toward the mark for the prize of our high calling of God in Christ Jesus? or shall we draw back? I feel confident, dear brethren and sisters, that the apostle voiced well our sentiments when he said, "We are not of those who draw back unto perdition." We are going onward to attain the end of our course. For us to turn back and to take the position of the world would mean a great deal far more than if we had never taken the step far more than if we had never entered the gate of consecration and attempted to walk in the narrow way. In taking that step we consecrated earthly interests, giving them up in exchange for the heavenly opportunities offered us in this call; but if now we should renounce the call and turn to sin and do despite to the spirit of favor, there would remain no more interest for us in the great atonement sacrifice. Hence, as the scriptures declare, it were far better that we had never known the way of life, than having known it, having entered upon it, we should turn back to the things of sin and its service.

The apostle urges that we who are upon the narrow way and who feel our own weaknesses and are continually beset by the world and the adversary, should look away from these and should look away from the world, from its allurements, from its false ideals, look away from the adversary of whose cunning and power we have so many evidences, "We are not ignorant of his devices." We should look away from our own weaknesses, not in the sense of neglecting so far as in us lies to counteract these and to strengthen character even in the flesh, but we should look away from these in the sense that we should realize that our standing with the Lord is not in the flesh, but in the spirit that "He knoweth our frame, He remembereth that we are dust," and that His demands of us are loyalty of heart, and, so far as in us lies, obedience of conduct, and that more than is possible for us to do is not required.


Looking away from these things we are to look unto Jesus, the author of our faith, who shall be the finisher of it. We are to see in Him, in His sacrifice, the full satisfaction of divine justice on our behalf; we are to see in Him the captain of our salvation, who trod this narrow way before us; we are to see in Him the compassionate spirit He careth for us and helpeth our infirmities, having Himself been touched by a feeling of our infirmities. We are to look away to Him as the glorified king whose right it is to take the throne of earth as soon as the appointed time shall arrive; we are to see in Him the heir of the Abrahamic promise, the great prophet who is to bless all the families of the earth. We are to see in Him the heavenly bridegroom to whom we have been betrothed, who loves us and who has made such abundant provision for us that shortly we shall become His joint-heirs in His kingdom and participate with Him in the great work of blessing the world of mankind. With such a view before the eyes of our understanding, with such promises, with such hopes anchored within the vail, how could we think of drawing back. How must we long, on the contrary, for the end of the journey, and strive that we may finish our course with joy.

There is a parallel between present conditions in nominal spiritual Israel and the conditions in nominal fleshly Israel as they existed at the first advent. The 1, 845 years of the [HGL222] Jewish dispensation brought the Hebrew people up to a plane where as a nation they had their test whether or not they would enter into the blessings before them. Likewise, the same length of time from the death of Jesus to the present time marks the length of spiritual Israel's course in the narrow way, and today we find a parallel of conditions at the first advent. At that time there were many nominal Jewish Israelites, but, as the word explains, they were not all true Israelites who were natural children of Israel. (Rom. 9:6) So here with nominal spiritual Israel many are professing the name of Christ, but they are not all true. As the great mass of the Jewish nation fell short at the end of their course and failed to enter into the favor then opened to them, so now, according to the Scriptures, the great mass of those professing the name of Christ are in the present time about to fall short of the divine requirements and fail to enter into the gate of glory into the kingdom.

The Scriptures give us the suggestion that a multitude will fail here in proportion to the numbers who will enter into the kingdom. Just as it was in the end of the Jewish age, only a remnant were found to be Israelites indeed, and the great mass of that nation were found to be unworthy. The prophecy descriptive of this declares that "a thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand." The one who stands is the Christ, Jesus the Head and the Church the members of His body then faithful to the Lord, and their covenant shall never fail, but so an entrance shall be administered to them abundantly into the everlasting kingdom; but all the merely nominal professors and all sincere professors who fail to develop the fruits and graces of the Spirit, will stumble, will fall, will not be able to stand in this evil day.

Let us, beloved, put on the whole armor of God, that we may be able to stand complete in the power and strength of Him who loved us and bought us with His precious blood.

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