The Pittsburgh Dispatch, March 6, 1905

Pastor Russell was with the Allegheny congregation Sunday. At 3 p.m., to a crowded house, he discoursed from the text: "Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open to you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." Mal. 3:10

In order to have a profitable study of the Bible, in order to secure therefrom the "meat in due season," is necessary amongst other things, that we should understand that the Jewish nation – elected or selected from all the nations of the world as God's peculiar people – were, up to the time of their rejection at our Lord's first advent, a typical people. The things said and done to that people represented higher and typical lessons and promises to spiritual Israel, inaugurated at Pentecost. Until we learn this lesson and how to apply it we are deprived of much of the spiritual profit intended for us. The Lord points this out, telling us that those things which happened to them were for an example to us – our lessons being on a higher plane, spiritual. Again we are informed that their experiences were shadows of better things following. This principle properly applied to our text will furnish us spiritual food and refreshment under the Lord's blessing today.

At the time of the writing of this message to Malachi, the people of Israel were very much discouraged. They were not as prosperous as they thought they ought to be, considering the great blessings promised, to which they were heirs under the divine covenant with Abraham. They were not living in heathenish idolatry; indeed, after the Babylonian captivity the nation of Israel may be said to have been free from idolatry, which had previously brought upon them divine disfavors. Considering this absence of idolatry, coupled with outward loyalty to God, the Israelites were disposed to query why they were not more blessed in their various temporal interests, flocks, herds, granaries, etc. The Lord sends them through the prophet an answer on the subject, pointing out that, although acknowledging and worshiping the true God, they were not worshiping him with appropriate sincerity and devotion.

In the context they are invited to consider the fact that people in general, heathen people, in dealing with their gods do not steal from them, but rather present offerings to them over and above what might be considered their obligations. But in the case of Israel, the Lord points out that they were really robbing their God – the God from whom they received all their blessings and mercies. They acknowledged that it was from the Lord they expected blessings upon their families, flocks, herds and orchards. This being so, why should they not give to the Lord, according to their covenant with him, the required tithe or tenth of all the fruit of the field, of the flocks and herds, etc.? Why should they expect divine blessings while withholding the covenanted tithes? After pointing out that such withholding of the tithes was really robbery and that the Lord resented it, the message of our text assured them that if they would do their part in the agreement they would have abundance, more than they would be able to use.


Let us apply this lesson to antitypical or spiritual Israel. First, let us see what constitutes spiritual Israel and then proceed to apply the lesson. In typical Israel our Lord designated some as "Israelites indeed," and to these he addressed himself spiritually saying, "Blessed are your ears for they hear and your eyes for they see."

He thus implied that the great mass of the nation, although nominally God's Israel, were not so in reality. As we look about us today we see the same thing to be true. We see a large multitude, the millions of America, Great Britain and Europe, posing as nominal spiritual Israel, yet in reality far from the Lord, far from being Israelites indeed – according to their own confessions. Indeed, while nominal Christendom represents less than one-fourth of the world in numbers, it really represents nine-tenths of the blasphemy and crime of the world. It is a sad picture and a disgraceful picture, yet a truthful one. We may be sure that the Lord's messages to spiritual Israel are not to this great mass, but to the little flock who are Israelites indeed, without guile, without deception, at heart sincerely devoted to the Lord. For such only is the blessing of our text, for the others have not the ears to hear, because they have not the hearts to appreciate the Lord's messages. If, then, we find that the spiritual meat of our text belongs exclusively to those Christians who are Israelites indeed, without fraud or deception in the matter, let us examine the context further and note, if possible, whether or not this text has been generally applicable throughout the entire gospel age, or whether or not there is anything that would indicate some particular [NS149] time when it should be specially applicable, when it should be especially meat in due season.


Examining the context, we find the second coming of our Lord brought prominently to our attention. "The Lord whom you seek shall suddenly come to his Temple (church): even the Messenger of the Covenant whom ye delight in.... But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire."

Again, following our text the same thought is brought forward. Our Lord declares of the approved ones at his second advent, "They shall be mine, saith the Lord, in that day when I make up my jewels."

Thus viewed our text is specially applicable to the present time. It appears to come as a special appeal from the Lord to spiritual Israel of our day. Many today are confessing their leanness and drouth, many are wondering why they have not the Lord's blessing more abundantly in their own hearts and homes. In this we do not refer to nominal Christendom, which knows no yearnings – to those whose hearts are full of selfishness and meanness, fraud and deceit and guile, and all manner of uncleanness. We refer to those who are sincerely the Lord's people, who have made a full covenant of consecration to him, and who are perplexed at the present condition of things, at the fact that the love of many is growing cold, that faith in the Lord and his providential care is losing ground, and that the majority of those who attend divine service freely acknowledge that they believe little, that they have but a form of godliness and know nothing of its special power that they use the Church as a social club, and would have no interest in it at all if it did not possess the club qualities.


Would that we had a clarion voice to reach the ears of all the true Israelites who are thus mourning and sighing as they perceive more and more clearly the drouth and dearth and approaching famine – not for bread nor for water, but for the hearing of the words of the Lord. (Amos 8:11)

To such the Lord sends this message – that upon his terms the desired blessing and refreshment of soul may be secured. Let such apply our text to his own soul – "Prove me herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will open to you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it."

But let us not make a mistake: this blessing is not promised to any except those who have the hearing ear: it is not promised to any except those who are hungering and thirsting and appreciating the drouth and desiring blessing. It is not to be considered, therefore, as God's proposition as respects the three hundred millions of Christendom, but merely as applicable to that small portion of the three hundred millions who are genuine and sincere Israelites, people of God, who have turned from idols to serve the living God. Upon this class the Lord is ready to pour out those wonderful blessings. He is ready to make them a feast of fat things from his Word, to spread them a table of bounties such as they never have enjoyed before, and to bless and make glad their hearts with his loving kindness and tender mercies – with the lengths and breadths and heighths and depths of his love and bounty and provision. But what are the conditions upon which they may have this great outpouring of divine blessing, that would be to them spiritual riches instead of poverty, that would give them sight for blindness, hearing for deafness, and gold tried in the fire of experience and the white garments of divine favor? Addressing this class, the last stage of the Church, the Laodicean stage the Lord points out the difficulties and the needs and gives the proper counsel. Rev. 3:14-19


In our context the Lord assured the Israelites who felt their dearth that it was the result of having robbed God by withholding the consecrated requirements – the tithe – the one-tenth of all their increase. What is the meaning or lesson of this to spiritual Israelites without guile who are seeking for the divine blessing? It signifies that the dearth is upon them and which is rapidly beginning a "famine" is their own folly – is because they have not fulfilled their terms and conditions as spiritual Israelites. We are not of those who consider the tithing system instituted among the Jews as a law upon the spiritual Israelites – that each should appropriate to the Lord's work one-tenth of everything he possesses or earns. That was the type. The antitype is something far higher, far grander. In the type one-tenth was to be devoted to the Lord because it would have been impossible for the people to have devoted all to the Lord. In the antitype the Lord calls for our all, for a full sacrifice to him of everything that we possess – of all that we are or hope to be. The Lord's conditions upon which we may be his spiritual Israel and have his favor and enjoy an abundance of spiritual blessing from the opened windows of heaven, is expressed in the words, "My son, give me thine heart" – not one-tenth of your heart, but all of your heart. Our Lord sets this forth forcibly saying, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, [NS150] with all thy mind, with all thy strength."

Not one-tenth, not one-half, not three-quarters, not nine-tenths, but all or everything is the requirement. True, many are giving the Lord one-tenth of their hearts and some more and some less. It is true, also, that in proportion as more or less of the heart is given to the Lord, in proportion as the divine will is sought and done – that is, to the extent of one-tenth or more or less – in that same proportion there is spiritual blessing and spiritual favor. None except those who make a full consecration of their hearts, of all, to the Lord are accepted by him to be his sons, and only such receive the begetting of the Holy Spirit as sons and adoption into the divine family. Only such .are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ their Lord. But, do you say that those who have made a full consecration are few? I answer, Yes! and the Scriptures also teach that the Lord's accepted followers who shall be joint-heirs with him in the kingdom are but a "little flock." (Luke 12:32)

I answer yes, again, from our context, that these who are the Lord's jewels are exceptions amongst the many stones found in nature. We are not now speaking of how many ultimately will be saved. In our discourses of the past three Sundays, with which many of you are keeping track in The Tribune, we have referred to the great blessings of restitution and the grand opportunities of salvation that are to be brought to the world at our Lord's second advent, and we have referred also to how the Church of this gospel age, the "very elect," are to be the Lord's associates in that great work of blessing all the families of the earth. But now we are discussing merely the very elect class, merely the spiritual Israelites indeed. It is upon these that the Lord proposes to pour out his blessing at the present time, not upon the world in general – that will come in the future.


From our remarks it will be gathered that only those who have made full consecration of themselves to the Lord constitute the real spiritual Israelites who are the heirs of all the promises. It is these alone that we address, because these alone are referred to in our text. The exhortation to bring the tithes to the Lord's storehouse, applied to the spiritual Israelite, signifies that while they all have made the full consecration of themselves to the Lord, many of them have been keeping back a part of the price, have been following to some extent the example of Ananias and Sapphira – outwardly professing one thing, really performing another – "robbing God."

Our text urges these that their failure to live up to their consecration is the cause of their leanness and drouth, and it they will do their part, if they will turn over a new leaf, if they will see that the Lord gets all that they have covenanted, he in turn will see that they get riches of grace and bounties and mercies more than they could ask or think – in so great abundance that they will not be able to contain the blessing. It will overflow upon others and be a great blessing to them as well.


If the Jew found it a task to give one-tenth of the fruit of his labor to the Lord, how will it be possible for spiritual Israelites, however well intentioned, to give all to the Lord under present conditions? Is not this impossible? We must eat, we must sleep, we must have raiment and shelter, and however plain and simple our provisions for these natural wants they will necessarily consume much of our time we have consecrated to the Lord. How, then, can we render to the Lord our all? Does the Lord ask or expect of us impossibilities?

And if not, how can matters be explained? The explanation is this: We give our all to the Lord in full consecration and he then makes us his stewards, authorizing us to use our time, our talents, our means, everything that we have or that may come into our possession to use of these, whatever may be necessary for the proper support of ourselves and those who are properly dependent upon us. Thus we give all to the Lord and he gives them back again to us not only spiritual rewards and blessings from the open windows of heaven, but he gives us all things richly to enjoy.

Indeed, many spiritual Israelites find that with their all submitted to the Lord, and with his blessing upon them in return, even plainer and far less expensive raiment can be enjoyed more richly than were the more elaborate provisions under other conditions. Thus we see that the whole matter is in our hands under the Lord's arrangement. He has accepted our sacrifice, has adopted us into his family and has given us to use as stewards the things which we consecrated to Him. He does not force or compel their devotion to Him and His cause, but on the contrary he uses the opportunity to prove us, to test us, to ascertain to what extent we meant the consecration we made, to prove to what extent we are Israelites indeed in whom there is no guile. He tells us that our faithfulness in rendering to him and to his cause our little all – every moment, every dollar, every mite of influence that we possess – demonstrates the measure of our love for him. He tells us that only those who love him supremely can be accepted to a position amongst the elect in the coming kingdom as joint-heirs with Christ; he tells us that we must love him more than we love houses or lands, parents or children or self or any other thing or [NS151] creature; he tells us that this will be demonstrated by our course in life. If we love him and are sincere in our covenant we will delight to bring into the storehouse everything under our control. We will even seek to economize time and influence and money from earthly things – seeking to deny ourselves that we may have the more to use in the Lord's service according to our best understanding of what will be acceptable to him as set forth in his Word.


Dear friends, I exhort all within reach of my voice, all within the range of my influence, to accept the Lord's terms and accept them promptly. I exhort that the Lord's promise be proved – "Prove me herewith, saith the Lord."

See if you do not get the blessing for which your heart has hungered. And to those who already have the blessing, who have already proved the Lord's word faithful, who are already seeking day by day to lay down their lives in the Lord's service, seeking that whatsoever they do, all may be done to the glory of God, seeking that every day shall demonstrate their love for the Lord – to those who have already received the blessing and are rejoicing in the rich outpouring that has come to them, those are exhorted to continue faithful, steadfast, continue under the downpour of divine grace and truth, and trust that there is still more to follow, and see that every blessing received calls for notes of heartfelt praise, not merely notes from the lips, but also from their hearts, manifested through the actions of life. Some may be perplexed and inquire in what way can we bring the trophies of our hearts and lives to the feet of the Lord? In what way can we spend our lives, our means, the cream of all we possess in the Lord's service? We answer that these offerings to the Lord may be associated with every little affair of life if all is done as unto the Lord, nevertheless these sacrifices may be divided into two principal classes.

(1) Our sacrifice of our own earthly tastes and desires that are not sinful in the interest of our spiritual development. This may signify less and less time spent in amusement, including amusing literature; it may mean less and less time spent in worldly pursuit, the pursuit of money, honors of men, investigations of philosophy, etc., the time taken from these things being devoted to our own personal upbuilding in the knowledge of God's word, in communion and fellowship with him, and in building up our hearts in the truth, in faith, in love, in the various fruits and graces of the holy spirit.

(2) It may mean to live in the more humble home, to practice greater economy in various ways, that we may have not only spiritual riches to give to others, but that we may have the earthly means wherewith to forward our spiritual aims and ambitions and affairs. These savings of time from business and savings of money will be evidences to the Lord of our heart loyalty to him and our love for the principles for which he stands and our love and loyalty will be shown not only by our denials but also by the way we will use our savings of time and influence and money. To live economically, to practice self-denial either along literary lines or financial lines, and to thus gain time and money, mean responsibility in the use of the saved time and saved money. If the savings be accumulated merely with a view of getting rich, or if the time be saved merely to spend it in idleness, nothing is gained – perhaps, indeed, something has been lost. The proper use of all that we can save for the Lord is its application either to our own spiritual development or to giving spiritual assistances to others of the household of faith, or, if this be not possible, the giving of assistance to those outside of the household of faith who give indications of having the hearing ear and understanding heart. Thus do the Lord's people lay up treasure in heaven at the expense of earthly treasures. As a result they may be less brilliant in conversation or less stylish in dress, or less esteemed amongst men from a financial standpoint, but they will be richer and richer in faith and in good works and in character likeness to their Master.


While the work is an individual one, while each Israelite indeed must attend to the matter of bringing his own offerings and tithes to the Lord, while we can do little toward helping one another merely through advice, there will, nevertheless, be a great influence going forth from one to another of the Lord's people, which may bring a great shower of refreshment and blessing to all who are of the true Israelite class. "Actions speak louder than words," is an old adage, but a true one, and hence all the preaching we may do, all the exhorting of others to bring their tithes, will not be nearly so forceful as our example. Example is contagious. Just look back at the Lord and the Apostles – at their forsaking of earthly prospects, counting them loss and dross that they might win Christ, and their faithfulness in laying down their lives in the service of the Truth, in service of the brethren: although they are 18 centuries distant their influence is most stimulating upon hearts and lives. Similarly every one of us, in proportion as he is devoted to the Lord and lives out that devotion day by day, is a living epistle known and read of all men, but especially known to and read by and influential with those who have made a similar consecration of heart and life to the service of the King of [NS152] kings and Lord of lords. Let us indeed more and more let our light so shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven. True, only a few will see because only a few have the eyes of their understanding opened; but, nevertheless, these are the most important ones. Our influence upon the brethren is of much more importance than our influence upon the world. If we are now successful in building one another up in the most holy faith, if the Bride class now make themselves ready, very shortly – when the "jewels" shall all have been gathered and shall shine forth in the brightness of the kingdom – they will have abundant opportunity then for blessing the world, which now has neither eyes nor ears for these things. Rev. 19:7; Matt. 13:43. Let us who recognize the forgiveness of our sins in the redemptive work of Christ, and who have consecrated our all to him, be so faithful as to gain the blessing of our text. The result of the shining of such lights will be a blessing upon some at least and will glorify our Father in heaven.

The National Labor Tribune, March 12, 1905

Washington, D. C., March 12 – Pastor C. T. Russell spoke twice here today in Odd Fellows' hall to large and attentive audiences. His afternoon topic was, "To Hell and Back. Hope for the recovery of many of them."

Incidentally he claimed to show from the Scriptures the erroneousness of the views taught by Spiritualists, Christian Scientists, Seventh Day Adventists and Mormons. The address was listened to with profound attention for nearly two hours. We report in full the evening discourse on true fasting and feasting, from the text: "Then came unto him the disciples of John saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? Jesus said unto them, Can the sons of the bridechamber mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the Bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast." Matt. 9:14-15

The so-called Lenten season, which began last Wednesday and will continue until Easter Sunday, will be widely observed throughout the civilized world by several large denominations of Christians. It is not for us to find fault with the conscientious religious observances of any, Christian or heathen. Every man's conscience should be his guide and each should seek to have his conscience enlightened by the instructions of the Divine Word to the extent of his ability. We are not here to advocate the observance of Lent nor yet to condemn it. We are free to concede that although the observance is a mere formality with some, and probably hypocrisy with others, to still others who enter into it with a true spirit of devotion to the Lord it probably yields the peaceable fruits of righteousness to their souls, and at the same time with many has a beneficial effect physically, coming as it does at a changing of season, when an alternative of some kind is beneficial to nearly all. The observance of Lent is of very ancient origin. Originally there was considerable discussion as to the number of weeks and the number of days in each week in which fasting would be properly observed. The 40 days' fasting by our Lord seems to have had considerable to do with the deciding of the question, a large number making exceptions of Sundays reduced the 40 days to 36, claimed to be especially appropriate as a tithe or tenth of a year.

Undoubtedly good and loyal hearts had much to do with the establishment of the custom, but the general mistake has been made in this as in other things, namely, the attempt to apply to parishes, dioceses, States and hundreds of millions of people, principles and practices which only a mere handful of them ever did or ever could rightly appreciate and observe. Nominal Christendom as a whole has merely a form of godliness, and by its daily words and acts denies the entire Christian institution, and really is injured by the Pharisaical fasting and praying which, being without the heart, are an abomination unto the Lord instead of a sweet savor. While this argument would be against the application of the Lenten season to nominal Churchianity, it in no sense impugns or even criticizes the appropriateness of its observance by the pure in heart.


But let us lift our eyes and take a broader view of this subject of fasting. All Bible students are familiar with the record that Elijah on one occasion fasted for 40 [NS153] days, that Daniel the prophet fasted on several occasions – once, he tells us, for seven whole weeks he tasted no pleasant bread. Our Lord, also, we recall, fasted absolutely without a morsel for 40 days, and there are various minor fastings recorded both in the Old and New Testaments. Examining the occasions we find that these fasts were intended for one of two purposes. (a) Some were manifestations of repentance, contrition for sin and desire for renewal of fellowship in the Lord. Thus King David tells us, "I humbled my soul with fasting," and "I chastened my soul with fasting." (Psa. 35:13; 69:10)

(b) Fasts were performed with a view to bringing the heart into a closer communion with the Lord, from a desire to know and do his will, and without respect to any mourning for sins. For instance, our Lord's fasting was for this purpose. As soon as he had made his consecration and had symbolized it by baptism and was about to begin his ministry under the plenary influence of the holy spirit, he went aside to fast, to pray, to consider the divine will respecting what the course of his ministry would be. And Daniel, having received a revelation from the Lord which he only partly understood, fasted and prayed to the intent that he might come near to the Lord and as a special favor be granted special insight into the signification of his vision. Similarly, our Lord said to the apostles on one occasion when they had failed to relieve one who was possessed of a demon, "This kind goeth not out save by prayer and fasting."

He thus intimated an efficacy not only in prayer but also in fasting – intimated that by such fastings, self-denials, the heart would be brought nearer to God and a greater spiritual power would be enjoyed. In other words, the measure of the Lord's Spirit enjoyed by his people is the measure of their power in his service in any capacity, and whatever will empty the heart of selfishness and worldliness and pride and folly will permit a larger measure of the Spirit of the Lord to be enjoyed and a larger measure of the power of the Lord to be manifested through that individual. What a lesson there is in this for all Israelites indeed in whom there is no guile.

As illustrating this last-mentioned use of fasting, we note that Paul, Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius and Manaen, the chosen elders of the Church at Antioch, observed fasting in connection with their ministry, and that after the Church at Antioch, in harmony with the guidance of the Spirit, commissioned Paul and Barnabas to be the Church's representatives in a missionary tour, they fasted and prayed on the subject before sending them forth as their representatives. Acts 13:2, 3 We notice again that Cornelius the Gentile was fasting as well as praying at the time that the Lord sent him the message that his prayers were heard and that he should send for the Apostle Peter, who would give him the instruction by which his prayers would be fulfilled – he should be saved from condemnation and accepted into the family of the Lord's people. (Acts 10:30)

We notice again, in the report of the work of Paul and Barnabas on their missionary tour, that when they appointed elders in the various little churches they did so with prayer, after fasting.


Fasting, like baptism, may either be a mere form, injurious rather than beneficial, or it may be observed with spiritual profit. Just as a man might be sunk five fathoms deep into the ocean without being baptized, so he might voluntarily die of starvation without having fasted from the divine standpoint. No honest person, for instance could have the least sympathy for the man who affected an outward countenance of the Lenten restriction to one cup of coffee by providing himself on the occasion with a bowl which really held two cups. And this is but an illustration of how forms of godliness are observed while the heart is far from a fasting attitude in the Lord's sight. To the class called in the Scriptures, "New Creature" in Christ Jesus, the essence of fasting in any event must be measured in the Lord's sight by the condition of the heart. We may safely conclude that all "abstaining from fleshly lusts" or desires is real fasting, the kind most approved in the Lord's sight. The apostle explains that these fleshly desires war against the soul, against the Spirit-begotten New Creature, which is seeking to walk in the footsteps of the Lord in the narrow way.

Every denial of appetite for food and drink or the lusts or appetites of the mind for worldly pleasures, whether sinful or innocent, if practiced with the desire thereby to glorify God and to advance our new minds in a spiritual way, must surely have the Lord's approval and result favorably to the upbuilding of the New Creature and to the bringing of the old nature more and more into subjection to the new. This is the real fasting, the important fasting, the essential fasting, without which none can hope to enter the glorious Kingdom for which we hope, and for whose reign of righteousness over the world we pray, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

Outward forms and outward fastings and kneeling in prayer, water baptism, etc., as enjoined by the example of the apostles, undoubtedly are assistances as well as illustrations of the spiritual matters which they illustrate; but whoever sees and appreciates no further than the outward forms will never make his calling and election sure to the glorious things which the Lord has set before the elect Church of this gospel age. He may [NS154] indeed enjoy some of the blessings and divine favors that are for the world in general during the next age, but he will miss the high calling, the heavenly calling of this age. It is for this reason that the Lord continually referred to the true fastings, true sacrifices, and never commanded and only incidentally commended the outward fasting.


As illustrations of the kind of fastings our Lord declared necessary to those who would be his disciples, to those who would be joint-heirs with him in his kingdom to come, to those who would sit with him in his throne, to the "little flock" to whom it is the Father's good pleasure to give the kingdom, he said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself (fast in the true sense) and take up his cross, and follow me (follow my example in this)."

"Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart" – learn of me complete self-denial, renunciation, complete consecration, complete giving up of the will that the Father's will might be done in me. "I came not to do mine own will but the will of him that sent me."

"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus."

"If a man love not less father and mother, houses and lands, yea, and his own self, less he can not be my disciple."

Again self-denial, self-renouncing and fasting in the highest and fullest sense of the word is enjoined with fasting from fleshly desires both good and bad in the interests of the New Creature and for effective service in the ministry are the highest forms of fasting. Matt. 16:24; 11:29; John 5:30


Our Lord frequently condemned the hypocrisy of the Pharisees in that they disfigured their countenances, giving them a drawn appearance, that they might seem to men to be suffering from severe fastings and might be esteemed very religious. He condemned their prayers in public places to be heard of men for similar reasons. This provoked our Lord's unstinted denunciations. Woe unto you scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites, for ye make long prayers and disfigure your faces that ye may appear unto men to fast and be religious – ye have your reward. You are not seeking the reward of God's favor and closeness of communion with him; you are seeking the approval of men; you are getting the approval of the ignorant and easily deceived; you need expect nothing of a reward from the Lord for your fastings, for they are not done as unto him. Warning his disciples to a contrary course, our Lord admonished that when they prayed they should do so of God even when offered in a public assembly of his people and so audibly that others might hear and join their hearts in the same petition. He enjoined also that their fasting should be similarly as unto the Lord and not unto men. His words were, "When ye fast be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance; for they disfigure their faces that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily, I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head; and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly." Matt. 6:16-18


Our text clearly shows that Jesus did not enjoin fasting upon his disciples. The fact was remarked by the disciples of John the Baptist, from whose numbers some went to Jesus and became his disciples. Our Lord's words have a rich significance when we remember that he was the Bridegroom, present with and the joy of those who thus recognized him as the Messiah. Their hearts would be so full of joy and thankfulness and praise to God that everything akin to mourning and sorrow would naturally be considerably dispelled. As our Lord remarked, how could they mourn or manifest any evidence of lack or dissatisfaction or cravings while he was with them, the source of every good, the center of every hope, the joy of every heart? Why should they fast? Their sins had been forgiven them, they had been accepted of the Lord as his disciples, and had been taught to look up to the Almighty and call him "our Father in heaven."

Not a thing had they to wish for, because in Christ their Lord, present with them, was a full supply of wisdom on every subject of guidance for all their affairs and for instruction unto every good word and work. It was those who did not recognize the Lord's presence who properly enough might fast and hunger and thirst for the bread and water of life, which they had not yet received, of which they had not yet become aware. Those Israelites indeed of more advanced development, who had found Jesus and had realized that he was the Messiah, had their prayers and fastings of the past all answered, all fulfilled in him. Our Lord's words were a prophecy of a coming time after his ministry in the flesh should be ended, after his resurrection and ascension to the Father had been accomplished. In those days, all through this gospel age, his followers would indeed find many occasions in which their hearts would crave divine guidance, in which they would seek divine wisdom, and in those days appropriately they might fast because of the Bridegroom's absence and because, according to his [NS155] gracious promise and instruction, they were waiting for his return, and hoping and striving to be faithful to him that they might be approved at his coming, that he might then say unto them, "Well done, enter thou into the joy of the Lord."

Yes, all through the gospel age it has been appropriate that the Lord's followers should indeed fast with the true fasting of self-denial, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, striving against the baits of the world, the flesh and the Adversary, which, tempting them, would seek to lure them away from the close fellowship with the Lord and the following in his footsteps of self-denial which he had enjoined.


Our Lord's words intimating that the Bridegroom's absence would be an occasion for fasting, imply also that with his return the fasting will cease and a great feast of joy be ushered in. If our Lord's presence in the end of the Jewish age as the typical Bridegroom, presenting himself to the typical people invited to become his Bride, was a time for rejoicing, much more will his second coming as the King of Glory to receive "the very elect" unto himself, and to consummate the marriage of the Lamb, usher in experiences of feasting rather than of fasting. For more than 18 centuries we have had the fulfillment of the Lord's words, "In those days shall they fast."

Speedily following the death of the apostles the Dark Ages began to be ushered in; the doctrines planted by the Lord and the apostles began to be confused and corrupted by the traditions and philosophies of men. The food supply of the family, thus made more and more unnutritious, forced a fast which, as the Scriptures foretold, ultimately amounted almost to a "famine for the hearing of the Lord." Amos 8:11 Correspondingly, too, our Lord declared that at his second advent he would send forth to his people the true family of God, an abundance of spiritual food and refreshment. His words were, "Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching. Verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them." (Luke 12:37)

Again he declared respecting the same time, and as referring to the same spiritual refreshments to his people, that he would send forth at the hands of his servants things new and old, meat in due season for the household of faith. – Matt. 13:52; 24:45

On previous occasions, as well as in the six volumes of the Studies of the Scriptures, I have endeavored to set before you and all of the Lord's hungry family some of these spiritual viands, "things new and old," from the storehouse of the divine Word, showing also that the reason for the present abundance of grace and truth for the hungry ones is that we are again living in the "days of the Son of Man" (Matt. 24:3 7); showing, further, that present increased knowledge of the divine Word, like present increased knowledge upon all scientific and mechanical subjects, is not that mankind is wiser and greater and nobler and better, but that God's due time has come for putting before us the treasures of grace – because we are on the very threshold of the new dispensation, the millennium – because the time of the Lord's parousia is the time for the preparation both of his people and of the world for the wonderful changes just at hand. The change to his people will be the First Resurrection to glory, honor and immortality; the change for the world will be the great time of trouble which, as a great cloud, a dark night, will eventuate in a speedy bursting forth of the Sun of Righteousness with healing in its beams, the promised hope of the ages and of the world.


This being true, it is no surprise to us that those of the household of faith who are awake to their privileges and aware of the Lord's parousia have a feast to their souls, a season of spiritual refreshment and joy such as they never knew before, such as was not possible previously. The Lord in his parable pictures the coming glory of the kingdom as a wedding feast, and his consecrated people of this gospel age as guests invited to that feast. But matters have so far progressed that those who are widely awake to the situation can figuratively realize the various preparations in progress for the sumptuous affair, can realize the preparations of the banqueting room and can already scent the sweet odors of the good things which God hath in reservation for them that love him. Yea, already it is fair to say that the feast is begun, that we have at least a sample of it all in the menu provided by the King. How all this causes our hearts to rejoice, even before the door is shut, even before the marriage of the Lamb had been consummated. "A little while; now he has come; The hour draws on apace – The blessed hour, the glorious morn, When we shall see his face. How light our trials then will seem! How short our pilgrim way! The life of earth a fitful dream, Dispelled by dawning day!" Courage, then, dear brethren! Be faithful to him who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous [NS156] light. Let us continue the fasting of self-denial, self-restraint, in respect to everything that would be a hindrance to the growth of grace of ourselves and others. But since we are in the "days of the Son of Man," of the Bridegroom let us seek more and more to appreciate and to digest the spiritual food he is now supplying through his faithful ones – let us feast indeed not only upon the milk of the Word but upon its strong meat – let us grow strong in the Lord and in the power of his might, that we may run with patience the race set before us, laying aside every weight and sin and looking unto Jesus, the author of our faith, until he shall become its finisher.

The National Labor Tribune, March 19, 1905

Pastor C. T. Russell addressed the Bible House congregation Sunday and was heard with great attention, as usual. His text was: "Awake thou that sleepest and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee." Eph. 5:14 The discourse follows: Our text naturally divides itself into four heads.

(1) The sleepers.
(2) The awakening.
(3) Arising from the dead.
(4) The light of favor then bestowed.

Nothing in this text has reference to the actual resurrection in the future, nor does it refer to actual sleepers and literal awakenings. The world in general is in a state of lethargy, asleep, and only the few have awakened. The prevalence of sin is, we believe, less the result of intentional wrongdoing than of a numbness of mind, an obtuseness, a lethargy on the subject which the inspired writer denominates sleep. This comatose condition is otherwise spoken of as blindness and deafness, and the apostle assures us that the god of this world has blinded the eyes of them that believe not. They see not, neither do they understand, matters from their true standpoint; they need to be awakened. We can readily see how easy a matter it would be for the Almighty to awaken the whole world in short order. Indeed we have the assurance of the Scriptures that such an awakening is to be one of the particular features connected with the new dispensation of the future – the millennial age.

The Lord will no longer allow the world to lie in stupor and asleep respecting right and wrong, but will call their attention to the principles at stake by the judgments which he will establish in the earth – judgments of approval for and toward all well doers, judgments of disapproval and condemnation toward all evil doers.


Who can not see that if judgments and rewards followed swiftly upon the heels of wrong doing and right doing, the world would very soon get awake to the new conditions? The lethargy, indeed, results from the fact that the majority have little faith in the Lord and in the rewards and punishments which he has promised. Their attitude is that of the agnostic, though the majority profess some religious creed. They perceive that many who do righteously to the best of their ability suffer from poverty and sometimes from injustice; on the other hand they perceive that more evil doers prosper and, as the Psalmist declares, their eyes stand out with fatness and they have more than heart could wish. Under the circumstances, perplexed and bewildered, they gradually become indifferent or go to sleep in respect to such matters – their doubts and their fears about balance one another. But since we can not hope for the establishment of divine judgments upon the good and the evil until the reign of Christ begins – until the time when he will take unto himself his great power and reign, until the time mentioned in his prayer when God's kingdom shall come and his will be done on earth as it is done in heaven – we must deal with present conditions and note what there is in the divine plan and arrangement at the present calculated to awaken these sleepers – "Awake thou that sleepest!"

As a rule, but not as an invariable rule, some great trouble, some calamity or some fall into special sin, awakens the conscience, causing the individual to get awake and to come to some reasonable appreciation of his need for a Saviour and a great one. Awakenings, therefore, not infrequently follow some great calamity or some condition of dire poverty, when faith in self are strained to the snapping point. Then frequently comes the turning to the Lord as the only unchangeable and all powerful friend, and an awakening to a sense of unworthiness results. Considerably of this nature seems to be the recent awakening in the mining districts of Wales where large numbers have been awakened to the fact that they are sinners, to a realization that they have been living in a deplorable [NS157] considerable measure of prosperity now prevailing in the United States is not favorable to this kind of an awakening. Those who are well satisfied with the good things of this life, "full," are not easily awakened to an appreciation of the great facts of life and righteousness.


Another thing which may bring an awakening is a glimpse of the error and confusion frequently prevailing among Christians and represented in many of the creeds. As the darkness of the error is discerned, if a glimmer of the truth be present to show that the error is not of God but a result of failure to walk in the way of the Lord, this sometimes leads to an awakening – an awakening of the most desirable kind – an awakening to a realization of the goodness and justice, the wisdom and love of the Almighty, sure to be attractive and helpful to hearts of the right character.

An awakening of this kind is quite possible at the present time, it would seem, for never before have men been thinking as much as now respecting the truth and falsities handed down to them from the dark ages. The difficulty is that just as soon as some get awakened to a realization of the error, they are met with deceptive snares under the name of new light – false doctrines such as the apostle describes, saying that they present themselves as angels of light, inviting the awakened ones to doctrines more untrue than those they already had, but labeled a new light and presented in a more specious form. Spiritism, Christian Science, Theosophy, Mormonism, etc., are all along these lines, and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. The thing that is better than the creeds of the Dark Ages is the Truth of God's Word, cleansed from the defilement of human tradition – not something new under the sun, but the old theology of Jesus, the apostles and the prophets.

Thousands are gradually getting awake in this latter sense of the word, and it behooves all that tasted that the Lord is gracious and who realize that the foundation of the divine plan rests not merely upon Jesus (whom all are inclined more or less to acknowledge), but upon the work which Jesus did, the ransom price which he paid in his own death, the redemption of Adam and his race which he effected, and the great blessing which is to follow as a result of that redemption in his "due time."

I trust, dear friends, that all of this audience have gotten awake in this proper sense of the word, awake to the realization of their own insignificance and unworthiness, awake to the realization that they are sinners, that they can not do as they would nor keep the law of God except as they shall have a covering of the sins that are past through the merit of the great sacrifice of Christ, and also as in every time of need all the journey through. Let us be glad that we have awakened; let us help to awaken others, and yet realize no disappointment if may whom we desire to awaken be so thoroughly immersed in pleasure or business or what not as to be beyond all our powers to arouse to a realization of their own condition and needs.


The world in general is reckoned "dead" from God's standpoint for two reasons:

(1) As the children of Adam and inheritors of his estate, both good and bad, they have inherited a death sentence under the Lord's words, "Thou shalt surely die."

(2) Under this death sentence depravity, blindness and weakness have come over our race to such an extent that they are all dead, helpless and hopeless so far as the attainment of everlasting life by their own efforts is concerned. We can neither pay for our share in the original sin and free ourselves from that penalty, nor if freed from that penalty would we be able to maintain a righteous standing before the Lord, so ingrained has sin become in our natures. There is just one way to arise from this dead condition, "dead in trespasses and sins" as well as under sentence to death. That is to accept the forgiveness and reconciliation which God provides for us in Christ.

The provision is very simple: the Lord shows that we who were sinners in and through Adam have been bought with the precious blood – that Jesus has paid Adam's penalty, and incidentally thus paid the penalty of his race, who were in him and partook of his fall, sentence, weaknesses and death. We can scarcely believe at first that the Lord proposes that if we accept of Christ by faith and determine to reform to the extent of our ability, he will count us as having passed from death unto life – he will reckon that old things have passed away and that all things have become new to us; he will reckon the trespasses and sins in which we were dead as covered, hidden from his sight through the imputed merit of the great Redeemer's sacrifice.

This is arising from the dead in the sense of our text. It means more, however, than a mere resolution, for the justifying forgiveness continues to be ours so long as we maintain this attitude of heart, this desire to be free from the state of sin and death and to be alive toward God through Jesus. To maintain this standing implies that our hearts' desire is for righteousness, and the new life in harmony with God will exercise itself and seek so far as possible to control the depraved appetites and desires which are ours as inheritors of Father Adam's sin and death. If any should turn away from this position he would be turning again from life back to death. The apostle describes some such, saying that they turn like a dog to his vomit, turn like a sow to wallow in the mire. (2 Pet. 2:22) [NS158] Those who continue the new life and strive against the weaknesses of the flesh to the extent of their ability are counted as perfect all the way along, as the Apostle declares, "The righteousness (the full requirement) of the law is fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit."

The Lord does not demand that we walk up to the letter of his law, for that is impossible so long as we have the new mind in these earthen vessels, in these mortal bodies. The new mind can express itself in thoughts and words and deeds only along the lines of the possibilities of the earthly body, but all the time the awakened one – who has arisen from the dead by accepting Christ – has all of his unintentional blemishes and imperfections covered by what the apostle designates "justification by faith."

Companions may think it strange that we run not with them to the same excesses as formerly. They may rail against us, call us hypocrites, etc., but those who passed from death unto life, who have arisen from the dead, realize a peace and a joy and a blessing which far outweighs the sneers of former companions, who know us not even as they knew him not. Our worldly friends, while conceding that the gospel of the Lord and the blessed hopes we have received have a transforming effect upon our lives, are sometimes disposed to cavil and to claim that we are not perfect yet. This we freely admit; not that we glory in it, but that in honesty we confess our faults, our blemishes, which we deplore, which we continually strive against, which so long as we are in these mortal bodies we shall not be able fully and permanently to overthrow. But here we have the divine promise that the Lord's grace is sufficient for us, that he remembereth our frame, he knoweth we are dust, he expects of us nothing more than we are able to render.

Yea, he is very generous, for we all sometimes have the consciousness of not doing all that we might have done on the side of righteousness and truth; but so long as the Lord reads in our hearts that we are not wilfully associating with wrong, that at heart we repudiate sin and seek to walk in his steps, so long will he be pleased to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness – giving us more and more the experiences in life necessary to our development, that our hearts may be fully in his likeness, and that by and by in the first resurrection we may be absolutely like him and absolutely free from sin because then we will be perfect – have perfect bodies promised us.


It is not to the sleeping one that Christ gives light before he is awakened. It is not to the dead one that Christ gives light after he has been awakened and before he has experienced the resurrection change of passing from death unto life, from sin unto holiness. It is after these two great steps of awakening and arising up out of death and condemnation have taken place that the Lord is prepared to give the light, and that the awakened and arisen one is in a condition to receive the light. Here we see a matter which not only greatly perplexes the world but many Christians as well, who somehow fancy that all the light of God's Word and revelation is as much for the worldly and unregenerate as for the Lord's consecrated ones. Indeed some claim that the scriptures are mainly to the wicked, and that after one has become a Christian he has little need for the Scriptures. This is all a great mistake, all contrary to the divine promise on the subject.

The Lord does not wish the world to understand the deep things of his plan; it is better for the unregenerate that they should be left thus in a measure of darkness, and hence the Scriptures declare, "Light is sown for the righteous and truth for the upright in heart;" again they declare, "None of the wicked shall understand, but the wise (the sincere) shall understand."

In accordance with this wrong thought many preachers seek to use the Lord's Word as a hammer to break the hearts of the ungodly, the unregenerate; and, on the contrary, when any have become the Lord's true people they seem to consider the study of the Scriptures as rather a waste of effort on their part because – they are saved? Not so, we answer; the Lord's Word is not a hammer. On the contrary, the suggestion of Scripture is that men's hearts are being broken with sorrows, trials, difficulties, and disappointments incidental to sin and our present imperfect condition as sinners, and we are specially informed that the gospel is intended to bind up the broken hearted. True, the Scriptures, too, speak of the Word of God being quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, to separate between the thoughts and intents of the heart; but this is not applicable to the world, the sleeping, the unregenerate, but merely to believers. After they have become the Lord's people, then the Scriptures help them discern between the wishes and desires of the old nature, the flesh, and the will of the Lord, and often draw very fine distinctions, for, as the apostle [NS159] declares, the natural heart, the natural mind, would sometimes deceive us, being deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. The new mind needs to contend against this deceptive old mind or will of the flesh, and the Word of God as the only power which makes such fine distinctions and really can separate a thought and divide its elements and shows us which features of it are of the flesh and which are of the spirit. When the Apostle Paul was reasoning before Felix respecting right and wrong, truth and untruth and the certainty of the Lord calling all eventually to an account, we read that Felix trembled. He very nearly got awake, he shook a little in his sleep but evidently he did not get awake, did not become one of those to rise from the dead, did not get the great enlightenment promised to this class. Similarly King Agrippa said to Paul "Almost thou persuadest me to become a Christian."

He was half awake, perhaps wholly awake, but he did not arise from the dead, he did not take the necessary step of fully consecrating his life and its every interest to the Lord and his cause. He did not, therefore, go on to get the higher and better light promised in our text. The Apostle Paul himself was asleep in respect to truth and righteousness, but being sincere at heart the Lord, even miraculously, shook him awake. At once we see the loyalty of the man in his prompt exclamation. "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" and in his obedience to the heavenly voice and in his faithfulness after days and years in laying down his life for his Lord and the brethren.


The Apostle Paul is an illustration of those upon whom the Lord shines – of those whom he enlightens. His prompt transfer of his affections and desires and everything that he possessed to the Lord is most beautifully expressed in his own language. "I count not my life dear unto me so that I may finish my course with joy and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus to testify of the gospel of the grace of God."

"What things were gain to me I count loss for Christ, yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." Acts 20:24; Philip. 3:7,8 In the Apostle Paul we see one of the grandest illustrations imaginable of the awakening of a true noble character, his passing from sin unto righteousness, from death unto life, and his subsequent enlightenment by the Lord. What a knowledge came to the Apostle after he had been awakened and after he had passed this figurative resurrection and became reckonedly a member of the Church, the Bride of Christ. Then all things were his, because he was Christ's and Christ's was God's. And so it is with all who become the Lord's true people in this true sense – all things are theirs richly to enjoy. They may enjoy the things of the present life even though they have not much of this world's goods, as the apostle was frequently in straitened financial circumstances; and even though, like him, they suffer the loss of friends through their fidelity to principle, and even though, like him, they be counted fools for wasting time and talent which otherwise might be used in the acquirement of worldly fame or worldly riches – notwithstanding all these things they are rich toward God, and are able to appreciate the spiritual riches to such a degree that the things they part from are esteemed of no real value, as "loss and dross and dung," as the apostle expresses the matter.


We are not to expect that those who are awakened and then pass from sin and death to righteousness and life conditions through faith in Jesus, and on whom he then shines the light of the riches of his grace and a knowledge of the divine plan – we are not to expect that these will receive all the light suddenly; but, as the Scriptures explain, having come into the place where the Lord is pleased to reveal himself and his plan to them, it is their privilege thereafter to grow in knowledge as they grow in grace. Each new step in grace brings additional privileges, and each new step in knowledge brings more fervent devotion and further growing in grace. Thus those whom the Lord is leading from darkness into his marvelous light progress day by day and step by step in the heavenly way.

The degree of this development is suggested by the apostle in Eph. 1:18; 3:19, when he says, respecting some who had been awakened, who had passed from death unto life, and who were to some extent developed in the knowledge of the Lord – I pray God for you that the eyes of your understanding being opened, you may be able to comprehend with all saints the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the love of God which passeth all understanding. Let us, then, dear brethren and sisters, not only make sure that we have taken the first of these steps, that we have gotten awake to what really constitutes sin and to what is the real standard of righteousness as represented in the perfect law of God, but let us make sure additionally that we have taken the step mentioned in our text – out of darkness and sin and degradation and condemnation into the light, into the fellowship with God and into the endeavors of the new life. And let us additionally see that we are going on, and that by the Lord's grace "still more beauty may we see and still in creasing [NS160] light" in his great storehouse of truth, the Bible. The apostle speaks of the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of favor and knowledge, and yet it seems to me that all that the early Church enjoyed in these respects was less than the Lord is pleased now to make known to the same class who along similar lines are seeking to know the Lord and to walk in his way. As in the end of the Jewish age there came a time when further light was possible upon the prophecies of the Old Testament, bringing to light hidden things of previous days, so it is apparently in the ending time of this gospel age, in the dawning time of the millennial day. It is possible by the grace of God to have clearer views respecting the divine plan than were enjoyed either at the beginning of the age or throughout its length. Not that we have new revelations nor that we need them, but that God's promise has been that he will supply his people with meat in due season. We have the meat of the past and its rich nourishment and strength, and so now we have also the meat in due season, which is specially appropriate and necessary in the present time, that the Lord's people may grow, that they may understand and be on guard against the various wiles of the Adversary, which we are assured will be in great force in this harvest time.


We have already seen that present conditions are not favorable to the awakening of the world, and that many who do get just a little awake prefer rather to fall asleep again, as did Felix and Agrippa. Why is this? Why does not God thoroughly arouse the whole world? Would it not be as easy for him to do it as not? We answer, Yes, and that when his due time shall come the whole world will be awakened. He indeed has assured us that when the judgments of the Lord are sent abroad in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. We are glad to know that the time is coming when all these sleeping ones will be awakened; that the time is coming when all these dead in trespasses and sins, but redeemed by the precious blood, shall have full opportunity for release from their condemnation and of coming to an accurate knowledge of the truth, that they may be saved. The reason why the Lord does not now deal with the whole world in this manner is that in his great plan he has purposed first of all to select from amongst mankind a "peculiar people," a "little flock," to whom he has promised joint heirship with the Lord in the next age, that they may become co-laborers with the glorified Jesus in the work of extending to every member of the human race the precious privileges secured to all through his death.

When the awakening shall come matters will be much more favorable for the world than they are at present, though the reward then obtainable will be much less valuable than the one now held out as a prize to the Church. Then the Lord's arrangement will be that all who desire may by obedience to the Lord and the laws of the Kingdom secure eternal life, or by disobedience bring upon themselves the wages of sin, death – the Second Death – from which there will be no hope of recovery. The Lord's arrangement for this gospel age is also one of life and death – eternal life and a death that will never cease, a death from which none will ever be awakened, the Second Death. But the life that will be granted to the overcomers of this gospel age will be life on a spiritual plane, whereas the life offered to the world in the age to come will be an earthly life under good but earthly conditions.

Moreover, in addition to the life now offered to the faithful, is the glory, honor and immortality which the Lord holds out as a triple crown for all of his faithful who by a manifestation of the Spirit of Jesus shall be counted worthy to be his joint heirs in the Kingdom. We might even say that it is necessary that all the world should not be awakened in the present time. If all had been awakened and had known really what they were doing, who amongst the Jews, Pilate's soldiers, would have crucified the Lord of glory? The apostle explains, "I wot that in ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers."

Similarly, had all the world been awake throughout this gospel age, it is not supposable that the consecrated people of God would have had any opportunity for suffering with the Lord, for if the world had known them as the children of God and heirs of the coming kingdom, they surely would not have persecuted them even if they did not glorify them. Hence in the outworking of the divine plan it was proper to permit some of the world to remain in blindness and ignorance, asleep, dead, that they might work the works of the evil one and thus unwittingly accomplish the divine purpose of chiseling and polishing and preparing the members of the body of Christ for the coming glory.


We may say also that the permission of this asleep and death condition in the present time is necessary or advantageous to the world under present conditions. For the masses of the world to get awake now would be a disadvantage to the majority of them. In their weakness, blindness, ignorance and perversity they need a strong hand of government, they need the instructions and corrections of righteousness which the Lord proposes to give them during the millennial age and which he does not propose to introduce during this gospel age. [NS161] This must not be considered, however, as any encouragement to sleep on. Rather "Blessed is he who hears the voice of the Son of Man," who is awakened thereby in this present time. His present blessing in accepting the divine favor would be very great indeed and his future privileges and opportunities in the Kingdom in association with the Redeemer and little flock, his Church, would be superlatively precious. Whoever, therefore, gets awake in any degree should be on the alert to improve his opportunities. He should hearken to the Lord's word, "He that hath an ear, let him hear" – let him obey, let him get the great blessings which are now possible to him. He who has not heard, who is fast asleep, let him rest. He can do nothing else and it is the best for him.

It is still, therefore, our privilege to cry with the apostle, "Awake thou that sleepest and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light," notwithstanding the fact that we must not expect many wise, many great and many noble, or many rich, nor indeed many of any kind, to obey our call, even as few responded to the Master's own invitation. The thought that all the sleepers will awaken, and all the blind eyes will be opened and all the deaf ears unstopped in the future is a comfort to us, not only in connection with our own dear ones who have not heard in the present time, but also in connection with the whole world of mankind. Pastor Russell is advertised to speak at the opera house in Greensburg, Pa., next Sunday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock.

The National Labor Tribune, March 26, 1905

Greensburg, Pa., March 26 – Pastor C. T. Russell of Allegheny, Pa., spoke at the St. Clair Opera house here this afternoon to a large audience, his subject being "To Hell and Back. Who are There? Hope for the Recovery of Many of Them."

The evening discourse, which we report in full, was from the text, "If we judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged of the Lord we are chastened; howbeit we are not condemned with the world." 1 Cor. 11:31, 32 Our text is one amongst many that point out that the judgment of the Church is totally separate and distinct from that of the world. It is not surprising, therefore, that many of the Lord's people who have not discerned this fact are confused rather than enlightened by it. They do not comprehend, for instance, the full import of the apostle's declaration that "God hath appointed a day (a one thousand-year day) in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath afore ordained." (Acts 17:31)

Thinking of the judgment of the world as now in progress this Scripture would seem inconsistent, because it positively puts the judgment of the world in the next age, and indicates that in no sense had it begun in the apostle's days, but was still future, "appointed."

Again the apostle's statement, "Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?" (1 Cor. 6:2), perplexes those who think of the world's judgment as now being in progress. They well know that the Church is not judging the world now. They must see, too, that the judgment or trial of the Church must be a thing of the past before the overcomers of the Church could be associated with the Lord in his great work of judging the world. One great difficulty connected with the subject is the erroneous idea respecting the meaning of the word "judgment" in such connections.

A misconception of the divine character and plan has interpreted the reference to a coming day of judgment of the world to signify a 24 hour day, and such a hasty acquittal or condemnation as would be possible in so brief a time for the living 1,600,000,000 and the dead 20,000,000,000. No wonder the proper thought of judgment is lost sight of from such a standpoint. No wonder that instead of thinking of the coming judgment of the world as signifying a schooling, a disciplining, a time of trial under righteous conditions, many have come to think of it as merely the time for the expression of a sentence. Indeed we see how even a sentence upon each individual of the human family would be impossible within a 24-hour day under any imaginable conditions, reasonable or unreasonable. It is here that we need to remember the words of the Apostle Peter: "Be not ignorant of this one thing, brethren, that a day with the Lord is a thousand years" (with man). (2 Pet. 3:8)

If this thought, that the world's day of judgment which God has appointed is a thousand years long, be kept in mind, the character of the judging then to be done will the more readily be discerned.


This gospel age of nearly 19 centuries has been the [NS162] Church's period of judgment or trial. During this time those who have been called and who have accepted the call, and who have been begotten of the Holy Spirit and received as probationary members of the Church of Christ, have been on trial, have been subjected to testings and instructions in righteousness with a view to developing in them the Christian graces, the fruits of the Spirit – in preparation for the glories and services to which they have been called by the grace of God. The Apostle tells us that these are subjected to "corrections in righteousness."

He tells us they will need and receive chastisements at the Lord's hand, to the intent that they may develop proper characters and learn the proper lessons of obedience and be trained up in the way they should go for the inheritance to which they are called as sons of the Highest. The apostle intimates that there is no exception to this rule saying, "If ye be without chastenings, then are ye bastards and not sons." Heb. 12:8

Here the apostle uses the word chastisements as signifying judgments, disciplines, corrections in righteousness. Indeed the word judgments is broader than the word chastisements, because the latter is applicable only to corrections for wrong doing, whereas judgments include the thoughts of either punishments for wrong doing or rewards for right doing. "The Lord shall judge his people," his blessing shall be upon those who seek to walk in the narrow way, upon those who hear the Shepherd's voice and follow him. His corrective chastisements or corrective judgments will be upon those who incline to wander from the narrow way, and are not destructive but corrective – intended to reclaim, to bring back, to teach, to establish in the ways of righteousness. True, those who have entered the school of Christ and who are subject to these judgments of the Lord, these rewards and corrections, will be liable to the extreme penalty of the divine law should they wilfully, intentionally, perversely decline the divine leadings, and sin wilfully after they have received a knowledge of the Truth. For such the apostle tells us there is nothing to hope – "There is a sin unto death."

Such, resisting the rewards and chastisements of the Lord and hardening their hearts, who put the Lord to shame wilfully and intelligently, dishonoring and trampling upon that blood of the covenant with which they were once sanctified – there remaineth no more a sacrifice for their sins and hence nothing that we could hope for them. We must merely look forward in the case of such for the ultimate manifestation of God's destructive indignation, to be manifested in the Second Death, which will be their portion. Heb. 10:26, 27

The point we wish to impress is the finality of the judgment in the case of the Church – namely, of one class being received into life eternal and the other class going into the second death at the close of the judgment. The judgment itself, consists of the innumerable encouragements and chastisements, rewards and punishments, corrective in their intention and results. How thankful we are that this is so! How reasonable it is that the Lord should thus judge his people! And if the judgment of his people in the present time be done in this manner, it gives us a clear outline of what the righteous judgments of the Lord will be toward the world of mankind during the great thousand-year day of judgment, for which such great preparations have already been made in the appointment of Christ to be the great Judge and in the election of a little flock of his saints from the world to be his associate judges. We see, too, the great preparation that God is arranging whereby that millennial age of judgment shall afford the world every opportunity for a "righteous judgment."

How grand that will be! How like the Lord it will be to provide just such an experience for mankind in general. In our discourse we noted the fact that the Scriptures uniformly speak of the world as blind and deaf and asleep, hence not on judgment now, not on trial now. We pointed out that only those who have heard the Lord's voice have been awakened thereby, that only these see and hear and understand the wonderful privileges that are being offered by the Lord during this gospel age – the privilege of association with the Lord Jesus in the heavenly nature and kingdom and glory and the privilege of being schooled and judged in advance of the world, that they may be thus prepared for the work of ruling, instructing, correcting and judging the world when its day of judgment shall have come, when all the sleepers shall be awakened, when all the blind eyes shall be opened and when the deaf ears shall be unstopped, and when, consequently the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth as the waters cover the great deep. Thus see, all who can get awake now, all who can open wide their eyes now, all who can hear now, and such who obey, who rise from the dead condition of the world and who receive the light and instruction of the Lord Jesus and who become children of God through faith and consecration and adoption – all these are specially favored. Blessed their eyes and blessed their ears! Blessed their hearts! Blessed their instructions, their trials and triumphs! To these all things are working together for good, because they love God and have been called according to his purpose to joint-heirship with their Lord and Master in the Kingdom.


Before coming to the depth of our lesson in its special application to the awakened ones, let us get the force of the sharp distinction which the apostle makes between [NS163] these and the world in the words, "Howbeit we shall not be condemned with the world."

The question arises, What is the condemnation of the world? When will it be condemned? We read that the world is already condemned, condemned to death; and when we were of the world we were also under this condemnation of death, as the apostle declares, we have escaped the condemnation which is upon the worldly. As already seen we have been awakened – "Awake thou that sleepest and arise from the dead."

We have arisen from the dead, arisen from the condemnation which is upon the world. We are justified to life through faith in the precious blood, and learn obedience to the voice of him that speaketh from heaven. The world still lies, then, under the original Adamic condemnation ; the condemnation upon the world is death; its members have not passed from death unto life – they are yet in their sins; they have not accepted God's provision for their sins through faith in his precious blood. There is no other name given whereby they must be saved; they have not yet heard, not yet been awakened, not yet seen the grace of God. Those of us who have tasted of the Lord's grace and who have learned through his Word are glad to know that God's divine plan will not leave the world in blindness, deafness, slumber, ignorant of the only name given under heaven and amongst men for salvation, but will ultimately rescue them from that condition. We are glad and rejoice in the great things the Lord has promised shall be accomplished – "in the day of Jesus Christ" – in the millennial day – in the period of the Kingdom of God's dear Son.

But now we have seen that the world is still under this condemnation, and the apostle is telling us in our text that we who are of the Church, we who have gotten free from the Adamic condemnation and have reached the plane of justification, who have passed from death unto life and become the Lord's consecrated children and who are in the school of Christ and undergoing our judgments, disciplines, corrections, etc., may know that even though it be necessary that we should receive chastisements we are still separate and distinct from the world, and nothing that we could do would put us back again under the condemnation that is upon the world. We can not get back again under Adamic condemnation and sentence. So far as we are concerned this is settled and finished once for all.

With us the instructions of the Lord must either result in our instruction in righteousness, bring us nearer to him and develop in us the character likeness which he would approve, or else it must land us in the Second Death. The latter condition would be still worse than that of the world, because the world is yet to have a share and benefit and opportunity and blessing as the result of Christ's redemptive work; but if any of the Church shall fail to be influenced by the Lord's corrections and chastisements, it will mean for such the end of all hope, oblivion – because they will have enjoyed all of their share of the redemptive sacrifice. There will remain for them no more sacrifice for sin; they have misused the blood-bought opportunities presented to them by the grace of God.


The apostle points out to the class he is addressing, the Church, the awakened ones who have passed from death unto life, who are no longer of the world or under the world's condemnation, an alternative. They are favored of the Lord in having their judgment or trial, experiences, encouragements, rebukes and chastisements toward righteousness in advance of the world; and now, if they will note the privilege, it is largely with themselves to determine how quickly they will learn the lesson of full obedience to the divine requirements. The apostle pointed out how we may become adept pupils, who will need the less of the Lord's chastisements and corrections. He points out how we can learn our lessons more quickly, and with the greater joy and with the realization of pleasing our heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus. This the apostle calls "judging ourselves."

The word here rendered judge is "diakrino," and signifies to search ourselves thoroughly, to prove ourselves, and carries with it the thought of correcting ourselves. When we bear in mind that the Lord's people during this gospel age are being judged not according to the flesh but according to the spirit, according to the intention, according to the desire of their hearts, we see that this matter of judging ourselves means not merely a judging of the flesh but a special judging or scrutinizing of the thoughts and intents, the motives and desires of our own hearts. Of course this will include the correction of our flesh in so far as is possible. The apostle assures us that "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh," and so we may correspondingly conclude that the activities of life are largely governed by the attitude of our hearts. Hence the importance of criticizing or judging our hearts, the necessity of purging from them everything rebellious and sinful, that we may be of the class mentioned by our Lord, saying: "Blessed are the pure in heart" – the pure in intention, the pure in effort, in desire – they shall see God. Not only shall they see God in the future, when they shall have experienced the resurrection change and be like the Lord Jesus and see him as he is and share his glory, but they shall see God in the present life with the eye of faith, after the manner suggested [NS164] by the words of the poet: "Sun of my soul, my Father dear, I know no night when thou art near. O! may no earth-born cloud arise To hide thee from thy servant's eyes."


The majority of people, saints as well as sinners, seem to find it very much easier to judge others than to judge themselves. They know how to critically examine the words and conducts of others; they think they know how much blame should attach to imperfections of thoughts and words and deeds of others, but generally there is a blindness toward the weaknesses and imperfections of self. Our Lord points this out in one of his discourses, suggesting that a man with a beam in his own eye is very apt to offer suggestions respecting the removal of a mote or speck from the eye of another, and using this as an illustration of the fault-finding disposition common in the world. The divine instruction to the Lord's people is, not that we should be wholly blind to the weaknesses and failures of others so as to be imposed upon by them or to foster evil, but we are continually exhorted in the Scriptures to be generous-minded and disposed to take a charitable view of the weaknesses and frailties of others, and to hope that their misdeeds were not so much the result of evil intention as of temptation and weakness.

Everywhere, throughout the New Testament especially, this attitude of mind is encouraged. Our Lord indeed assures us that unless we learn to look kindly and mercifully upon others we must expect no mercy ourselves at his hands; he assures us that this is the condition upon which we may be the children of our Father in heaven, who is kind to the unthankful. He declares that if we forgive not men their trespasses neither will our heavenly Father forgive our trespasses, and with what measure we mete out punishments or threats or condemnations upon others, we may know that we will be in a condition to deserve and receive, for a time at least, similar chastisements without mercy. Recognizing this to be the divine teaching on this subject, and the teachings of our Lord and the apostles, what manner of persons ought we to be; how kind and merciful, how generous and sympathetic in dealing with the poor, blind, drowsy, deaf world, as well as in dealing with the brethren of the household of faith. Not that our mercy should blind us to what would be the best interests of others and our proper dealings with them, but that nothing should be done toward them in a spirit of strife and antagonism and vain glory, but that all of our conduct in respect to them should be actuated by love, kindness and desire for their welfare.

We are to remember that although called of the Lord to be the judges of the world, we are not authorized to judge others now – we are not qualified to be judges yet. Not until we shall have our new resurrection bodies, with their perfect powers and the perfect knowledge of that time, will we be competent for the judging of the world. Until then we must view others leniently and give them credit for any good motives they claim to have especially if they are of the household of faith – though not to the extent that we would jeopardize our own interests or the interests of others in our acts by a confidence not warranted by our outward conduct. But however our judgments may tell us that some people must be held at arms length; our hearts should be committed to no bitter judgment against them, rather we should hope that they progress, in honesty of intention to the extent that they have light and knowledge, and should hope for them also that, under the favorable conditions which God will ultimately grant to all, they may develop characters which will be pleasing and acceptable to God and result in his bestowal upon them the gift of God, eternal life at the close of the millennial age.


This is the pith of the lesson: it concerns everyone who has named the name of Christ, everyone who has awakened and arisen from the dead and made a consecration of their lives to the Lord, of one who is seeking to be enlightened of the Lord. The apostle assures us that we may advance more rapidly in the school of Christ by giving attention to the lessons set before us, by not waiting to have these lessons impressed upon us by divine corrections and chastisements, by not waiting for the pain of affliction, but instead by coming so fully into accord with the divine will that we will be watching our own characters, conduct, etc., scrutinizingly and correctively, seeking that the words of our mouths and meditations of our hearts and so far as possible, all the conduct of our life may be such as would have the divine approval. Nevertheless, with the best of intentions, as all Christians know it is not possible for us to walk in the narrow way without making mistakes; without errors of word and thought and deed.

The apostle's suggestion is that we scrutinize our conduct and words and thoughts carefully, with a view to finding any that would be contrary to the mind of our Lord, any that he would be disposed to correct; and that we wait not for the divine correction but immediately proceed to correct ourselves along the lines of deficiency. The first step in correction is unquestionably to go to the throne of grace in prayer. This implies faith in God's mercy; faith also that he has opened the door, [NS165] the way, by which we may avail ourselves of that mercy; faith in the value of the precious blood of Christ, which not only effected for us a cancellation of our old sins or Adamic condemnation, but which also is effective for the cleansing of all the blemishes which our hearts through weakness of the flesh inherited from Adam. The apostle, speaking of such, declares that they have boldness (courage) to approach the throne of the heavenly grace that they may obtain mercy and find grace to help in every time of need. The request for mercy implies, first, the realization of weakness and of failure in our endeavors to walk in the ways which our hearts desire – the ways which we realize to be of the Lord's appointment. It implies, secondly, that we have confidence in the redemptive work, and that we remember the inspired words, "He is just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)

We find grace to help for every time of need; no matter what has been the difficulty, we will not only realize the divine forgiveness in connection therewith, but we will grow stronger by reason of asking this forgiveness and of exercising our wills to fortify them against a repetition of the weakness or fault which has sent us to the Lord to ask forgiveness.


Another step in connection with this judging of ourselves is the imposition of restrictions and sometimes of penalties. This, however should not be considered in the nature of atonement for sin. Such a suggestion would be repugnant to the entire plan of God as set forth in the Scriptures. There is only one who can make atonement to God for sin – Jesus Christ, the righteous. We who are of the sinner race can neither atone for the sins of each other nor for our own, because the penalty of sin is death, and the payment of our own penalty would imply our annihilation. It was for this reason that God provided the great atonement once for all, and each must accept his share in this same sacrifice as a gift from God through Jesus Christ our Lord – "By grace you are saved."

To attempt to make reparation to God for our transgressions would therefore improperly signify a belief that we are capable of offering for our own sins and that we disregarded the finished work of Christ. Our only course, then, is to go offer a supplication for the forgiveness in the name and merit of the Redeemer, our Lord Jesus. The sense in which we may correct and judge and discipline ourselves is a different one.

After having received divine forgiveness we can properly manifest our disapproval of sin and our penitence of heart and our thankfulness to the Lord by putting restrictions upon ourselves, upon the flesh, along the lines of the disobedience, with a view to strengthening character in those particulars, with a view to being more guarded when next a temptation shall come to us along that line, with a view to impressing upon our flesh the lesson which the new mind desires it to learn. As an illustration a story is told of a wealthy man, who, when driving, passed a poor man whom he recognized as a proper object of charity. He concluded to give him a quarter, and then the thought came, why will not a nickel do as well? His better judgment realized that this was an assault of selfishness upon his new self. He resented the matter, and by way of penalizing himself he determined to give the poor man a dollar.

In every avenue of life we may see opportunities for judging ourselves, and the apostle's assurance is that these will be pleasing to the heavenly Father: that if he sees us thus intent upon the establishment of righteousness in all the interests of life, he will approve such a course and bless it, and in consequence it will not be necessary for him to send special chastisements or punishments for such errors. Not that we can hope that any man will or even could live so exactly as to merit the divine approval in all things at all times and never to need chastisings of the Father, but that as loyal children we should deplore it if we needed these chastenings frequently, or especially if we should need to have them repeated because of a repetition of the same error. We should deplore it because this would seem to show inattention on our part if pupils in the school of Christ, disloyalty on our part as sons of God.

Nevertheless, we are glad of the apostle's assurance that if we should become overcharged or careless or indifferent; we would not be permitted to lose the Lord's spirit utterly without first receiving chastenings to reawaken us and draw our attention to our shortcomings and our need to lay aside every weight and every besetting sin, that we might run with patience the race set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author of our faith, until he shall become its finisher. Brethren, let us judge ourselves that we may not be judged of the Lord, for if we need chastisement he will not spare the rod, because he loves us and because he has separated us from the world to himself, and is disciplining us for the glorious things which he has in reservation for all them who love him, called, chosen, faithful.

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