The National Labor Tribune, August 17, 1915


Portland, Me., Aug. 15 Pastor Russell delivered a very interesting discourse here today on the text; "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?" (1 Cor. 6:2) He spoke as follows:

Much confusion prevails through failure to understand the Divine application of justice in the world's affairs. Hitherto we have not studied our Bibles with sufficient care, but have jumped at conclusions and endeavored to make the Bible fit them. In every man there is some appreciation of justice, some realization that punishment ought to be inflicted for wrong-doing. Even those who practise wrong recognize this principle, and are ready to condemn others and to assist in punishing them, even though hoping to escape the fruit of their own sin.

The Bible clearly teaches that to some extent national judgments and punishments have been in progress for centuries, but that individual reckonings with Divine Justice are for the future except as violations of Nature's laws continually bring retribution. It is in view of this fact that the Lord's judgment is future that Christians are exhorted, "Judge nothing before the time." Our incomplete knowledge renders even the most saintly liable to error in judgment. Christians have the promise that before their work as judges begins they will be qualified for it by a glorious change from earthly imperfection to Heavenly completeness in glory, honor and immortality.

The Scriptures discriminate sharply between the judgment of the church and the judgment of the world; and to read our Bible intelligently we must thus discriminate. God has not ignored sin during the past six thou sand years. He is punishing the whole world every day. The penalty specified in the Bible is death; and our race is dying at the rate of one hundred thousand daily exclusively of the great mortality occasioned by the European war. This death penalty has concomitants of trouble leading up to it sickness, sorrow, pain all of which are really parts of the dying process, and therefore parts of the penalty.

This penalty is not graded according to moral differences among men. Divine Justice merely decided that Father Adam as a rebel against the Divine Law had forfeited life, and that none of the children could be born under conditions that would be perfect and satisfactory to God. Therefore Adam's death sentence passed by heredity upon all of his children, irrespective of their degrees of sinfulness. None of them being perfect, none of them therefore being worthy of everlasting life, all of them must die, whether with much or little pain, whether by famine or pestilence or war or accident. Justice took no note of the method of dying, but merely of the fact that they must die. Similarly, [HGL741] human laws provide certain penalties for crimes, irrespective of the different conditions of the culprits.


God might have allowed the race to perish under the death sentence, or "curse." If so the accounts of justice would have been squared, and every man at death would have gotten his share of the penalty. Then there would have been neither future life nor future judgment for him; for a death penalty is the extreme penalty of Divine Law, as well as of human law.

But God purposed something better than annihilation for His human creatures. He purposed an exhibition of His mercy in combination with justice the redemption of Adam and all of his family from the death sentence. The first step in this redemptive work was the death of Jesus as a corresponding price for the first man, who personally sinned and who was personally condemned. The redemption of the original sinner, through whom the whole difficulty came, would constitute a satisfaction to justice on his account and that of all his family, who participated in his penalty.

Jesus' redemptive work was not with a view to getting people out of a fiery Hell of eternal torture, for there is no such place, according to the Bible. His death was to get mankind out of the Bible Hell the tomb the death state Sheol in the Hebrew, Hades in the Greek. To bring Adam and his race back from the tomb signifies their resurrection. This is the promise of God's Word that because Christ died for man's sin therefore in due time "there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust." Acts 24:15

The theory that nobody is dead that those who die merely change their form and live more fully is in direct conflict with our observation as well as contradictory to the Bible, which declares that "the wages of sin is death," that "the soul that sinneth shall die," and that Christ died for man's sin in order to recover him out of this penalty of death and to make possible his re-living, his resurrection from the dead. Rom. 6:23; Eze. 18:4; 1 Cor. 15:21-23


Having seen that God's judgment, or sentence against sin, went into effect six thousand years ago and is still in effect that the whole world is dying we ask properly, when will the new Judgment Day begin the opportunity for Adam and his race to have another trial through the death of Jesus?

St. Paul answers our query, saying, "God hath appointed a Day, in which He will judge the world in righteousness, by that Man whom He hath ordained, whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead." (Acts 17:31) St. Paul does not say that this Judgment Day had begun in his time, but that it was future, according to God's appointment, and as a result of Christ's death. He clearly intimates also that Jesus is to be the great Judge.

In this view of matters, the appointed Judgment Day is not to be a time of punishment for Adam's sin; for mankind already has been punished in the dying process of the race for six thousand years. Nor is the coming Judgment to punish Adam's race because of their inherited weaknesses; for all those weaknesses were included in the redemptive work which the Savior accomplished when "He by the grace of God tasted death for every man."

The coming Judgment Day simply signifies a fresh trial for Adam and his race. In the first trial in Eden, Father Adam failed; and he and his race all lost the perfect life with which he had been originally endowed as a son of God. The new Judgment Day is designed by the Creator for the benefit of Adam and his race. In other words, it will be a second great trial of the race, the difference being that the trial will be individual, and the rewards or punishments individual, not racial.

During the four thousand years from the time of Adam's sin and his coming under the death sentence down to the time of Christ, God merely left the world under its penalty and without any suggestion that well-doing or ill-doing would have any bearing upon their future destiny. The only exception to this rule was the little nation of Israel, Abraham's family. To Abraham, a man of faith and loyalty to God, came the first declaration of God's purpose to bless the world. (Gal. 3:8, 16, 29) Neither Abraham nor his children were delivered from the curse. He was merely informed that God had purposed another Judgment Day, in which all the families of the earth would be blessed and in which Abraham's offspring would be the great Judge, through whom all the willing and obedient might be brought back to everlasting life and perfection.

God might have continued to deal with humanity exactly as He had done during the first two thousand years might have left them in ignorance of His purpose to roll away the curse and to roll on a blessing. But another feature of the Divine Plan made it expedient to reveal certain features of the Divine purpose. He desired to select two classes from amongst man kind before He would begin the general work of giving a fresh judgment, or trial, for everlasting life to Adam and his race. In harmony with His Plan God revealed certain things to Abraham and his natural posterity, the Jews up to the time of Christ. In His dealings with them He tested them and found certain noble, loyal, faithful characters suitable to His future purposes. They are sometimes styled the Ancient Worthies, and are referred to by St. Paul in Hebrews 11.

In the closing verse of that chapter, however, the Apostle refers to the Church of the Gospel Age as constituting a different class of God's servants, as designed to receive at His hands still higher honors than the others. Note the Apostle's words of contrast. After speaking very highly of the faith of the Ancient Worthies, St. Paul explains that they died without having received the fulfillment of the promises made to them, all of which were earthly, and that they could not receive the fulfillment of their earthly promises until after the Church would have received and entered into her spiritual promises by the First Resurrection. Heb. 11:39, 40


The Church, according to the Bible, is distinctly different from the world, and is to have a different kind of salvation from that provided for mankind in general. God's provision for humanity from the beginning was a perfect [HGL742] earth, suitable for perfect mankind, and all this was represented on a small scale by our first parents in Eden. God's plan has not changed. The recovery of man from the death sentence will bring him to perfection and a world-wide earthly Eden, if he is obedient to the Divine arrangements. Otherwise he shall be destroyed utterly in the Second Death, as the Scriptures repeatedly declare. Acts 3:23

As God prepared a worthy class during the Jewish Age to be His earthly representatives amongst mankind and samples of human perfection during the time of the world's judgment, or trial, similarly He has during this Gospel Age been selecting another class, spirit-begotten ones, who are to be perfected on the Heavenly or Spirit Plane, made like their Lord and Redeemer. (2 Pet. 1:4; 1 John 3:2) To Christ and His glorified Church God proposes to turn over the whole world of mankind, including those who have gone into the tomb.

This Messiah will be backed by all the Divine Power in His work of rescuing mankind from the fallen condition. Satan will be bound, all evil influences will thus be restrained. The darkness of ignorance and superstition will be scattered before the rising Sun of Righteousness. All mankind will be blessed the living first, and afterwards the sleeping ones, "every man in his own order" or company not all at once. For a thousand years a great work of judging will progress.

This judging will not be punishments on account of Adam's sin or of inherited imperfections and faults, results of that sin. So far as the wrong doings of the present life are traceable to inherited blemishes, they will be covered by the merit of the Great Redeemer's sacrifice. The only accounts remaining unsettled will be for those misdeeds and pernicious words of the life done or uttered contrary to knowledge. The degree of knowledge will determine the degree of sin.

Each individual then on judgment, on trial, will have in himself the record of his own violations of conscience. That is to say, the unforgivable sins, which must be punished, are those against the holy Spirit, the Spirit of Righteousness, the Spirit of Truth done intelligently against it. Thus the civilized could sear their consciences in a manner that the uncivilized could not, and those having a knowledge of God and appreciaion of the principles of His righteousness could injure themselves for the future in a manner that more ignorant people could not.

Jesus declared that in the day of Judgment those who did evil without knowledge will be punished with fewer stripes than will those who did evil with more light. He gives us as illustrations the Sodomites of old, who were accounted most wicked, and the people amongst whom He was pre aching, who counted themselves holiness people Scribes and Pharisees. (Matt. 10:15; 11:22) It will be tolerable for all, but less tolerable for those who have had more knowledge, more light, in the present life, and who have failed to live accordingly.


The period since Jesus' day, beginning at Pentecost, has been the Church's Judgment Day her trial time. Only those coming into the true Church on the Lord's terms are privileged to have this special trial, and, if victorious its special reward of glory, honor, immortality in the Kingdom. The entrance into the Church is through the begetting of the holy Spirit; and this begetting to the new nature is granted only to those who turn from sin, accept the Redeemer as their Advocate with the Father, and make consecration to God's will.

As New Creatures, these have much advantage in that God guarantees that "all things shall work together for good to them" as spirit beings. This means, however, that they will be subjected to trials, difficulties, testings, much more severe than come to mankind in general, for they are being chiseled, polished, qualified, for the glories of the Heavenly Kingdom. They must walk by faith, not by sight. They must make a noble fight, in their hearts at least, against sin and its allurements. They must prove themselves loyal to God, to His Truth and to His service, at the cost of even life itself.

The whole question we are discussing is summed up by the Lord in His Message through the Prophet Malachi (3:15-18). The Prophet declares that now we do not see evil-doers punished even though they injure God's true people and blaspheme His name. But after God has made ready all the jewels of the Elect class and has set them in the gold of the divine nature, there will be a change in prevailing conditions amongst men. Evil doers will be chastised, with a view to their reformation. This failing, they "will be destroyed from amongst the people." Describing these Restitution conditions, the Prophet declares, "Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked."


What God purposes for the world through Messiah's Kingdom will be the grandest thing imaginable. Through this Kingdom, Divine judgments justice will be enforced everywhere yet sympathetically. Each will be required to live up to the perfect standard of the Golden Rule, to the extent of ability; and the Royal Priesthood will be fully commissioned to remit penalties for unintentional transgressings resulting from inherited weaknesses. The reward to well-doers will be gradual growth in knowledge, in grace, in mental, moral and physical strength.

Many find it difficult to understand how God's judgments could bring great blessings to the world. Hence we offer some suggestions: Suppose that the Kingdom were established, with Christ and the glorified Church in control, invisible to men, but all powerful and all-wise. Suppose myriads of agents and agencies for the carrying out of the Divine will through this Royal Priesthood operating like the sound waves of the wire less telegraph. Suppose a contrite sinner earnest in his full surrender to the Lord, and imagine his acceptance to Divine favor indicated by a miraculous healing of some infirmity or by an enlightenment of mind permitting him to appreciate the Divine will. On the other hand, suppose a lover of sin attempting to commit wrong and receiving instant punishment'his hand paralyzed in the act of forging a signature or of taking the property of another his tongue paralyzed in the act of uttering slander, profanity or untruth.

How quickly the world would learn righteousness under such conditions. These very conditions we would now be naturally inclined to expect, but do not see; for God's great Plan has not yet reached completion.

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