The Pittsburg Dispatch, August 19, 1907


ATLANTIC CITY, Aug. 18 – Pastor C. T. Russsell of Allegheny preached twice here today. His afternoon topic was "The Bible Defended – To Hell and Back."

We report his second discourse from the text, "Upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity for the roaring of the sea and billows; men's hearts failing them for fear and for expectation of the things which are coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens shall be shaken." (Luke 21:25, 26)

The address follows: The Bible abounds with similes and word pictures, perhaps in excess of any other writings. Our text, in harmony with our surroundings, draws attention to the sea, and pictures it lashed by the winds of storm into great roaring billows, awfully majestic. Those who have seen the mighty deep thoroughly aroused and have witnessed its terrific power and the destruction sometimes wrought, have a wholesome dread of it. And when, in cooperation with the surface storms, there have been earthquakes, causing great tidal waves, the terrors of the sea have been accentuated.

We all remember the Galveston disaster as an exhibition of the power of the winds alone, sweeping the waters of the gulf to the destruction of almost the entire city. More remotely we remember the tidal wave at Lisbon, and recently a similar disaster at Kingston. We faintly realize the great power of these great tons of water as they rushed inland and licked up, as it were, the people and their belongings throughout the vast areas, and carried them into the sea. We also know something about the literal sea, but on this occasion let us inquire respecting the lesson taught when the sea in the Scriptures is used symbolically as in our text.


As we come to understand the Bible we find that although its various books were written centuries apart, there is a harmony and oneness, a consistency, prevalent through them all, so that the interpretation of our text as a symbol is found to concur thoroughly with the uses of the same symbolical illustration elsewhere in the Bible. In the Psalmist's description of the trouble time which he pictures, the dry land stands for, or represents, the social structure of the present time, the mountain represents the kingdoms, the rivers of water represent truth and grace.

The heavens represent the spiritual powers and influences, and the sea symbolizes the restless and dissatisfied of mankind. A very condensed picture of the time of trouble – not far distant, we believe – the same time of trouble mentioned in our text – is symbolically stated in Psa. 46:2-3. Speaking for the Church the Prophet declares, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." [NS484] Therefore will we not fear though the earth (society) be removed and though the mountains (kingdoms) be carried into the midst of the sea (overturned by anarchy, thrown into confusion and under the control of the restless and dissatisfied). Though the waters of the sea roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof."

Such a dire calamity as that here pictured – of kingdoms thrown into anarchy and society entirely swallowed up in the seas – would be enough to make all hearts faint, even in contemplation, even before such realities could be accomplished. But the Prophet declares that a certain class of the Lord's favored ones will not quail before such anticipations or in the presence of such commotions.

They have a river, the stream of truth and grace, which refreshes them and gives them knowledge in advance concerning the objects and results of all that will be permitted of the Lord – that all the terrible experiences coming to the world will eventuate in a blessing. In this same Psalm the symbols already referred to – mountains, earth, sea – are interpreted, the Psalmist saying: "The nations raged, the kingdoms were removed, God uttered his voice and the earth melted."

The figure is changed slightly, but the chief characteristics remain the same, namely, that the great trouble here pictured is one of anarchy, that in it earth (society) will melt or disintegrate, lose its strength, become like the sea itself; the mountains or kingdoms will be removed, and all this will be the result of two things:

(1) The uttering of God's voice – his decision, his message against sin and selfishness as represented in the present order of things, social, political, financial and religious; and

(2) the raging of the nations, the peoples of the world. Moved by selfishness themselves they will rage against selfishness and power exercised against them, until the entire social structure will succumb to the power of this great flood, these mighty popular waves, which will sweep away every barrier and opposition in "the time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation," as the Prophet Daniel describes. Dan. 12:1


Geographers tell us that at least two-thirds of the earth's surface is Covered by the sea, and one proportion represents very well the conditions of humanity. Sea level would represent the meeting place of those contented with the present construction of society, with the more numerous class discontented with the present order of things. From this meeting place there are extremes both ways. In the ocean we find unfathomable depths; and so amongst mankind we find some so utterly discontented and out of accord with present institutions that they are unable to find any basis whatever for sympathy with present institutions. Likewise on the land we find the elevated plateaus and mountain peaks of those favored by wealth and rank, whose station is so far above the sea level – so far that they can scarcely sympathize with the lowest forms of degradation and the most abject conditions of the discontented.

The question naturally arises: Is God responsible for these differences amongst men measured symbolically by the height of the mountains and the depth of the sea? We reply that geologists tell us respecting the physical earth and seas very much the same things that the Bible tells us respecting the class differences amongst men at the present time. Geologists say that at one time the earth's surface was without the mountain divisions of the present time and without the corresponding sea depressions.

They tell us that from time to time various mountain ranges were pressed up and various depressions in the seas took the waters still lower. So the Bible tells us, and history corroborates, that originally mankind were created on a parity, on a general level as respects abilities, talents, opportunities, privileges, but that gradually great depressions were made in some parts of the world through sin and ignorance and superstition, and that from time to time revolutions developed great kingdoms and with them preferred classes, which for centuries have safeguarded to a considerable degree the social structure. These revolutions and mountain chains have been in part political and in part financial, and these mountain peaks reach up into the heavens and are very closely identified with the nominal religious systems of every land. The moving power in these various depressions of the seas and elevations of the dry land has been selfishness, not love. Selfishness has had much to do with the deepest degradation we have known in the world and with the bitter discontent which prevails amongst the masses.

Selfishness also has had much to do with the exaltation of the upper classes, represented in the mountains, the kingly powers, financial and political. The Bible is witness that, so far as this condition of society is concerned, it is considerably out of harmony with the divine will, and although permitted for a time will not continue forever. In the past, no doubt, it has served useful purposes. Mankind, through disobedience to the divine law on the part of our first parents, came under the sentence of death and divine disfavor. As a portion of God's holy Spirit of love was lost the spirit of unrighteousness and selfishness came in. The Lord for six thousand years has permitted unrighteousness and sin to reign amongst men, merely overruling in a general way to prevent the coming of the great time of trouble, the great calamity of anarchy, [NS485] before the appointed time for the setting up of the Kingdom of God under the whole heavens. Meantime this reign of sin and selfishness has been teaching humanity a wonderful lesson respecting the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the undesirableness of its fruitage. These great lessons learned by those who are now alive and by those who have already gone down into the great prison-house of death will be valuable to all of them in God's due time, when the Redeemer will command all who are in their graves to come forth, that they may be brought to an accurate knowledge of the truth, and that they may be able thus to contrast it with the falsehood, the error, the sin, the selfishness with which all are now being made acquainted. We can see, indeed, that since the world could not be influenced or ruled by love the next best thing for it was to permit it to be ruled by selfishness. This rule has had the effect of keeping the world busy; the power and scope it has given to ambition in every direction has been wonderful and has worked a blessing to all humanity. Men whose strength of character and mind have gone into vast enterprises, political or financial, might otherwise have used those powers in some way injurious to their fellow creatures; whereas, instead, through their push and enterprise, and even through their exceeding selfishness, they have helped to pull the world along instead of allowing it to rot, to sink and stink through idleness.


The Scriptures show us human responsibility and sin from two standpoints. First, we have original sin, which, by heredity, has come to us from our first parents. We of today are sharers of their weaknesses and imperfections through their fall, the evil of which has come down the ages with increasing momentum. The divine proposition is that the redemptive work of Christ shall fully offset original sin, including all the imperfections and blemishes which have come to us through heredity.

All this God proposes to do for us as a race, of His own free grace. He tells us frankly and distinctly that we could do nothing whatever for our own recovery from this original penalty, and that He has provided a full, complete redemption and forgiveness for all as respects this original sin through the merit of the Redeemer, who, on Calvary, with His latest breath cried, "It is finished." [John 19:30]

The forgiveness of this original sin is already imputed or accounted to those who now believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and are seeking to walk in His steps – but to none others. The remainder of the world, not knowing and not believing, are "yet in their sins, still "children of wrath," still under the "condemnation" which is on the world.

But, as respects the world, God has provided that by the close of this age the sins of the whole world shall be forgiven through the merit of the same great sacrifice. His provision is that He will then put into operation the New Covenant, sealed with the precious blood of Jesus, which will speak peace to all humanity, even the forgiveness of their sins. He declares that their sins and iniquities He will remember no more, and that He will give them hearts of flesh, taking away the hardened, selfish, sinful condition represented by the words "stony heart." This is what the Scriptures designate "the sin of the world," as when we read that the Lord Jesus was "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world" – the Adamic sin, including all the imperfections traceable thereto. But there are other sins and blemishes for which mankind are held responsible by the Lord – sins against light, sins against knowledge, in whole or in part willful sins. These sins have accentuated the difficulties introduced by the original disobedience. But while such increase will be covered, so far as the children will be concerned who inherited these weaknesses, responsibility attaches to those who do evil.

These sins the Lord in some respects ignores and in other respects does not ignore. Mankind in the awakening in the morning of the resurrection will find themselves degraded in proportion to their willfulness in opposition to righteousness in the present life, and they will have that many more steps to take under the Redeemer's guidance and assistance during the Millennial age in order to attain again the position of divine favor and worthiness of eternal life. But there is still another way in which God deals with and punishes sin – in what might be termed a national or general way.

For instance, we read respecting the Amalekites, who at one time inherited the land of Palestine, that not until their iniquity had come to the full did the Lord allow them to be swept away by the Israelites. Again, we read the words of our Lord respecting the troubles which came upon the Jewish nation in the end of the Jewish age, that God there in that awful trouble required at the hand of that generation a measure of punishment or satisfaction of the counts of justice in respect to sins and transgressions that had been accumulating for centuries. Our Lord's words are, "That the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation." (Luke 11:50)

Similarly the Lord indicates to us that at the close of this Gospel age, just prior to the inauguration of the Millennium, there will be a score to be settled with the world of mankind, especially with the civilized nations, Christendom, which will bring to that generation then living the most awful time of trouble ever experienced in the world – "a time of trouble such as was not since [NS486] there was a nation." [Dan. 12:1]

The present generation is the one that will experience these things, and the time of trouble which will involve them all is nigh, even at the door. The Scriptures give us to understand that the reckoning that is now due to Christendom and coming upon her takes into account the unrighteousness, especially against the Lord and His elect, which has prevailed in the world since the first advent of our Lord, nearly nineteen centuries. This includes, it will be remembered, the suffering of the saints in the "Dark Ages," respecting which we read: "And I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the Word of God and for the testimony which they held, and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth." (Rev. 6:9-10)

The answer was not that their blood should never be avenged, but that a time would intervene because others, their brethren, would suffer in like manner. The intimation is that such a judgment upon the world will ultimately come, and that it will be a squaring of accounts between justice and the world that will be final. The world has benefited greatly by the Gospel light, and has a corresponding responsibility to the principles of righteousness, and in proportion as these have been wilfully and intelligently violated a heavy weight of penalty is due. There was more excuse for those of the "dark ages," of whom it might be said, as of the Jews who crucified our Lord, "I wot that in ignorance ye did it as did also your rulers." (Acts 3:17)

But in the light of knowledge, civilization, etc., now shining upon the world, there is a greater responsibility, and the following of the methods of the past will be an endorsement of the past, by which the living generation will in a measure become responsible for the transgressions of the past as well as for their own, and correspondingly be permitted to fill up a measure of the retribution represented in this time of trouble and its seven last plagues. [Rev. 15:1]


The Scriptures assure us that in the passing away of the symbolical heavens and symbolical earth of the present time, there will be ushered in a symbolical new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness, and the declaration is then made that there shall be no more sea. (Rev. 21:1)

This has no reference whatever to the natural earth, the natural heavens or the natural sea, but wholly to the symbolical, the new heavens, the new spiritual ruling powers, the Church in glory with her Head, the New Jerusalem, the Sun of Righteousness, whose beams are to carry blessing to all the families of the earth (Matt. 13:43; Mal. 4:2), and to the new earth, society reorganized upon the basis of love instead of selfishness, and directly under the guidance of the King of kings and Lord of lords. The sea that shall be no more will be the restless, dissatisfied masses of mankind in degradation. The Millennial Kingdom will gradually lift these up from their degradation and ignorance and superstition, bringing them back, back, back to the original estate of harmony with God in full human perfection.

The new order of things will bring about such an equality amongst men that present distinctions will be at an end and each will recognize his possession of all the privileges and opportunities for personal advancement to the attaining of perfection. It is beyond the power of human ability to change the condition of affairs at the present time. Quite a good many are aware that under present conditions absolute justice and equality between men are sadly deficient – that the chief blessings and privileges and advantages of the present life go to the few, while the majority correspondingly lack their proportion of these. Among the "upper classes" are men of heart and morals who would be glad to see a more nearly even distribution of wealth, privileges and advantages among men, but who are unwilling to sacrifice their own interests – particularly when they realize that such a sacrifice would accomplish, under present conditions, but meager results.

Besides, many realize that under present conditions a life of toil is almost necessary for the majority of men in order to keep them out of mischief injurious to themselves or their neighbors. Thus all the intelligent people of the world are practically agreed as to the impossibility of bringing about the great changes, social, political and religious, that would equalize the joys and blessings and privileges of all mankind. A growing class, however, see in Socialism their great hope. Theoretically Socialism would bring full equitable opportunities and privileges to the entire race.

Many, longing for the glorious conditions promised in the millennial kingdom, see not that these things are of divine provision and coming to them and to all the world in God's due time, and that they cannot hasten that time. But failing to see the teaching of the Word of God on this subject and leaning merely to their own understanding, Socialists hope against hope for the carrying out of their well-meant schemes through the pulpit, etc.

They are enthusiastic Socialists because Socialism offers the ideal, and because they see no other prospect of it. Becoming infatuated with their hope they grasp at a straw when they expect to be able to turn the world upside down and to bring in a reign of brotherly kindness, sympathy, love and equality among unregenerate [NS487] hearts and without the intervention of divine wisdom and power. As well might a man try to lift himself over the fence by his bootstraps as to endeavor to attain the golden age of social equity by means at human command. The whole course of nature is against it, because the course of nature is selfishness. Those who reason deeply will see that so long as selfishness is the motive power, is the ruling principle, it will only lack opportunity to again grasp the throttle of advantage and run the world's affairs in the interests of the few rather than equitably.

What our dear Socialist friends fail to see is that there can be no perfect government by imperfect beings – that the government itself cannot be superior to its constituent elements. Furthermore, they fail to realize that the power that is in the hands of the upper classes and controlled by their intelligence and wealth and opportunities would never surrender to the demands of Socialism; for as soon as complete Socialism would be the only alternative the streets would run with blood rather than that it should be successful. Undoubtedly this will be the case, and undoubtedly Socialists, having worked their minds to the pitch of expectancy, will become anarchistic in their endeavor to carry their point. All this it is which will constitute the epoch which is now nigh at the door, "A time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation." [Dan. 12:1]

Notice again the words of our text, that the roaring of the waves, the billows – the clamoring of restless masses through unions, strikes, etc., will cause distress to the nations of the earth, with perplexity. They will face a condition of things never before known in the world; for, although there have been revolutions in the past, never before have the people, the masses, been so generally intelligent, so educated, so capable of the initiative, so trained in military skill, so able to assert and to fight for their conceptions of their rights.

The text tells that this fear and trepidation will come in advance of the trouble itself – the powers that be perceive the trend of affairs, the progress of Socialism, and are doing all in their power to head it off, hoping against hope that something fortunate will occur to divert the public mind. And one of the peculiar elements of their fear is stated to be that the "powers of the heavens shall be shaken" – the influence of the religious element, of religious doctrine, is seen to be shaken. The public are losing their superstition, theologians are admitting that their doctrines of the past are untenable in the light of the present, and many are leading the public into infidelity, called "higher criticism."

More and more this shaking of the heavens will affect, influence, the lower classes of the earth, society, and thus indirectly affect the status of earthly government, etc., which has all along been held to be divine government, the kings and emperors of earth claiming that they rule the people by the grace of God – by the sanction, permission, authority of God. The intelligence of our day is breaking loose from these superstitions, and those who are not properly in accord with the Word of God are liable to be entirely overthrown as respects their faith. Indeed, we do not put it too strongly to say that a majority of the church members of all denominations know, not what they believe. It is this unsettled state, this lack of anchorage, that will prove to be so important a factor in the great trouble that is nearing.

The Pittsburg Dispatch, September 2,1907


NIAGARA FALLS, N. Y., Sept. 1 – The Bible Students' Convention began very interesting sessions here on Friday last, and expect to conclude them on next Thursday. Many prominent speakers were in attendance. Pastor C. T. Russell of Allegheny, Pa., delivered an address today on "Labor Day versus Rest Day," from the text, "the laborer is worthy of his hire" (Luke 10:17)

The speaker said: While the Scriptures do not lay down a fixed rate of compensation for labor, they do indicate both in the Old Testament and in the New, as in our text, that labor should have its reward. And the word "hire" in our text seems to carry with it the thought of a bargain or contract between the laborer and the employer, which should be lived up to on both sides. From this point of view all that anybody gets for his laboring is his food, and raiment and shelter, luxurious or otherwise. But from another standpoint none should labor for these things alone.

In order to receive happiness there must additionally be a hope of improvement, of betterment. It may safely be set down that the hopeless life is a joyless life. It may also be safely concluded that the hopeful are the ambitious, and that the ambitious are the progressive workers of the world in all departments of industry. Here then lies the difficulty with the vast majority of the race – hopelessness, stupidity, ignorance, [NS488] blind them to any better prospects, and their toil therefore is doubly weighty upon them, and the supply of their daily needs is proportionately disesteemed as an unsatisfactory wage for their labor. It is the hopeful and ambitious that are courageous and successful – and they are a small minority of the whole. Since, then, the hopeful are the happy, all true philanthropists will be glad to encourage hopefulness in all of their fellow creatures.


Of all the books in the world the Bible is the one which enters sympathetically into the conditions of the race and offers cheer and comfort to the hopeless classes we have already described. It addresses itself primarily, not to the ambitious and hopeful, but to the laboring and heavy laden and despairing. And to as many as hear and hearken to its voice it brings rest, peace, a new hope. But why does not the Bible specially address the hopeful, the ambitious, the progressive? Ah! It is because these have little or no ear to hear the divine message until after their earthly hopes become blighted; that they get the ear to hear the message from "Him that speaketh from heaven," saying, "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden (despised and grief-stricken), and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek of heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls." (Matt. 11:28-29)

Thus it is that the Scriptures everywhere declare that amongst those responding to the Lord's call in this present time not many wise, not many great, not many learned, not many rich are called, but chiefly the poor of this world, rich in faith. The rich, learned, wise are the hopeful, the ambitious, the progressive of the present time, who feel not their need of sympathy and direction and aid. They see their own way or think that they do, and are following that which they believe will bring them the greatest joy – the prosperity which they covet, name, fame, earthly ease, luxury, etc.

When our Lord declares that the laborer is worthy of his hire He expresses a general principle of justice. There are two great hirers or employers in whose service mankind may go – God and Mammon – and each one who hires out should properly consider the wages offered. Mammon makes great professions of what it will give, honor, dignity, wealth, etc – all things of the present life; it has nothing to promise as respects the future. On the other hand, God is now inviting some to become His servants and He makes very plain the terms and conditions, present and future, of those who shall accept His service. He tells them that to be His servants will cost them the renouncement of the pleasures of sin. More than this, it will cost self-denial even in respect to things not sinful.

It is when the Lord's servants begin to get a glimpse of these exceeding great and precious promises that have to do with the coming eternity that they begin to realize in true measure the love of God shed abroad in their hearts. Henceforth, so long as they maintain this attitude of heart, old things are passed away and all things become new – they care comparatively little for the things of this present life, since their aims and objects now are centered in the glorious things of the heavenly kingdom.

Instead of laboring for some petty office of an earthly kind they now perceive that in accepting the captaincy of the Lord Jesus they have become heirs with Him in His glory, honor and immortality, and associates with Him in His throne, His kingdom, when it shall have been established. Instead of laboring for riches of an earthly kind, that would so likely take wings and fly away, they have now learned of the true riches of character and of the divine blessing which are, as the apostle explains, an anchor to their souls, sure and steadfast, entering into that which is within the vail. Heb. 6:19

It will be seen, then, that there are two general classes of laborers – the world in general laboring for the things of the present life and having little knowledge and almost no faith in respect to the things of the world to come. Of these we have seen that the vast majority are in a comparatively hopeless and despondent condition. On the other hand we find a new set of laborers in the world, the followers of the Lord Jesus, composed of those drawn from the ranks of the broken-hearted and discouraged children of this world, servants of Mammon. These have received new hopes, new ambitions, new peace, new joys, which far transcend any that they ever previously had, and all that Mammon has to offer to its most successful votaries. They are still laborers, and indeed, in some respects, their labors may be as difficult as at any time in the past; but they have found the great Helper and have realized the meaning of His words, "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden; and I will give you rest." [Matt. 11:28]

Their coming to the Master meant a great transformation of heart and of ambition, of motive, and they are continually being more and more blessed as they hearken to His voice and learn the good lessons whereby He prepares them for future glories, honors, immortality.

But there is a great difference between being truly the Lord's servants and being such merely in an outward, superficial way. It is necessary to point out that while Christians are numbered according to the census at a total of 400,000,000 the real genuine followers of the Lord are represented in the Scriptures as being only [NS489] a "little flock" – not many. And with this Scriptural delineation our judgments and experiences are in harmony, for truly we know of but few who are even seeking to "walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" – to be "not conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of their minds" – walking in the footsteps of Jesus, gladly sharing in the sufferings of Christ for the prospect of having ultimately a share with Him in His glorious kingdom. There have been true and false in every age, and hence what we are saying is not a reflection merely against our own conditions.

In our Lord's day he called attention to the fact that some very prominent among those professing to be God's servants were some who made long prayers for a pretense, who gave alms with a similar purpose in view – of having honor of men, of being thought holy. Our Lord declared of them, "They have their reward" – they get the reward which they were seeking, namely, the praise and approval of their fellow creatures. They were not really God's servants, but servants of Mammon, servants of selfishness, who had put on the livery of the Lord and were pretending to be His. Whatever we are, let us not be hypocritical; let us not think to deceive the Lord, who knoweth and readeth the heart, and who tells us through the Apostle, "His servants ye are to whom ye render service" – Rom. 6:16.

If we are really living for the present life alone let us not pretend otherwise, but remember that an honest servant of Mammon is much more respectable from the Lord's standpoint than one who dishonestly professes to be a servant of the great King. Whatever we are let us be truthful – we cannot deceive God; let us not deceive our own hearts. Let us be content then to be misunderstood by the world, misrepresented by the hypocrite class, if thereby we have fellowship with the Lord and have the privilege of walking in His steps and the glorious promise of by and by sharing His likeness as members of His Bride and sharers with Him in His millennial kingdom. Our text applies to this feature of the subject, too – the laborer is worthy of his hire.

The hypocritical desiring the approval and smile of the world and the prosperity of this present time gets the reward sought in some measure at least, though not always. The god of this world cannot be relied upon thoroughly in regard to any promises. As respects the servants of God all of these who will prove worthy by their faithfulness will find their God faithful and His word of promise sure. Faithful is he who has called us, who also will do for us exceedingly and abundantly more than we could have asked or thought.

Our hire, then, we are to remember, is in this present life trials, difficulties, sacrifices as respects earthly things; but the divine favor and blessing upon our hearts, upon us as new creatures, and our faith and hope beyond the veil, constitute the chief elements of our wage. Could all the servants of God, from the humblest members of the Church of Christ, up to and including the most honorably engaged in the public ministries of the Lord's Word – if all these could but have in mind that constituted the wage, the hire that the Lord has promised them, there would be but comparatively little expectancy of great favors or strife therefore, but a contentment with the Lord's provision – with a realization that He knows the things we have need of before we ask Him, and that He is both able and willing to give us the things most expedient for our welfare, the things which will help us best in the attainment of the exceeding great and precious promises which are the main part of our wage – the portion most encouraging to us, most stimulating – for which we really live and on account of which all other things are to be counted as but loss and dross.


The aspostle calls attention to the fact that those who have become the Lord's consecrated followers have by faith already entered into rest by trusting in the finished work of the Lord Jesus on our behalf – by realizing that through His sacrifice God has .made provision for the forgiveness of our sins and our acceptance by Himself. This indeed gives a rest and a peace and a joy which the world could not appreciate – which the world can neither give nor take away. In one sense the Christian ceases from labor when he by faith accepts the Lord Jesus. In a word, he accepts the fact that he was not worthy of eternal life, but that the merit of Christ has made up for his deficiency. No longer need he labor to do the impossible thing, for all that was on our part impossible has been done for us by the Redeemer, and is imputed to us who believe.

The believer's reconciliation to the Father is effected through faith, by which he lays hold upon the work already accomplished on his behalf. But therewith the consecration of himself to the Lord begins a new work – not a work of justification, but a work of development of heart and of head and of talents in the service of the One who redeemed him and set him free from the slavery of sin and death. He has entered into a contract to serve the Heavenly Father with all his powers, and so surely as he remains loyal to the Father and His covenant he is guaranteed grace to help in every time of need. (Heb. 4:16)

It is for the consecrated believer, however, to demonstrate his loyalty by his works, by his endeavors to do his Father's will, and different degrees of blessings have been promised to the faithful overcomers and also special blessings to the still more [NS490] self-sacrificing, styled the "more than conquerors." (Rom. 8:37)

Both are to get eternal life, but the latter are to have it in association with the Redeemer as the Bride, the Lamb's wife, and joint-heir in the Kingdom. Thus the apostle says that by our labors in the Lord's service we are to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling." [Phil. 2:12]

Our labors will have to do with the grandeur of the salvation which will be bestowed upon us, for, as the apostle again declares, the saved will differ as star differeth from star in glory. Both of the classes of saved ones just mentioned must labor, must demonstrate their loyalty to God and to the principles of righteousness, by fighting a good fight of faith, striving against sin and laying down their lives for the brethren – for the Lord's cause.


Many of the Lord's children, realizing their own insufficiency and the Lord's greatness, realizing the small value of anything they can do to directly glorify the Lord or to promote the interests of His cause, are inclined to feel discouraged, and to say within themselves, if not to others, When the Lord shall decide my case I fear that He will find no labor in service accomplished for His cause – no ground for saying to me, "Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joys of thy Lord."

But we remind such that if they are doing with their might what their hands find to do they could not do more, and the Lord is not asking more than they are able to do. He is quite able to do the entire work Himself. But what He does seek in us is loyalty of heart, the desire, the effort to serve Him and His cause of righteousness. We remind them that in connection with the very Scripture quoted the Lord not only declares that He will reward the good and faithful servant, but He adds, "Thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will make thee ruler over many things." [Matt. 25:21,23]

The intimation is that none of the Lord's people have been or could be faithful over many things – that only a few things are committed to any of us, and that the Lord is seeking merely to note our disposition and to reward us accordingly. We remind these faithful but timid ones again of the Lord's message through the apostle, saying, "God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love which ye have showed toward His name, in that ye have served the saints and still do serve them." (Heb. 6:10)

And again He still more particularly shows that there are two classes of labor to be rewarded, an active and a passive. He says: "Call to remembrance the former days, in the which, after ye were illumined, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; some being made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and some becoming partakers with them who were so used." (Heb. 10:32-33)

Here we note the Lord's benevolence, in that He is willing to count as His servants and laborers to whom He will give a reward not only those who were actively in the conflict, sufferers for righteousness' sake, but also to count in with them and to reward with them others who, themselves suffering nothing, were loyal to the principles of righteousness to the extent that they stood with and acknowledged and upheld the cause of the Lord and those who were His, and who suffered for righteousness' sake.

What a gracious arrangement we have here! It shows us that the slightest labor that we can perform in the cause of our Master will be accepted of Him and bring us a share of His ultimate blessing. With such inducements who that has a proper appreciation of the Lord and His goodness would not desire to lay down his life in His service? The intimation of the Scriptures everywhere is that the Lord's people are to be active. "Instant in season and out of season," using time and talents in the Lord's service and to the Master's praise.

They show us that the present life is all one of activity and labor, looking for the rest of the people of God in the future – except that measure of rest which we have faith, and which enables us to rejoice even in the trials and difficulties of life, and to even count afflictions as unworthy of consideration because of the joys of our faith. I exhort you, then, that we rest from all sin and from all attempts to justify ourselves, and that as we have accepted Christ Jesus our Lord, so we continue to rest in Him, the rest of faith, and that we continue to labor to the extent of laying down our lives for the Lord and His cause, and that thus being found faithful as laborers we shall ultimately be granted a participation in the glorious honors of the kingdom.

The Pittsburg Dispatch, September 16, 1907


MORGANTOWN, W. Va., Sept. 15 – Pastor C. T. Russell of Allegheny preached here twice today to very intelligent audiences in the Opera House. One of his discourses was from the text, "Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins." Heb. 9:22.

The speaker said: [NS491] During this week our Jewish friends throughout the world will again celebrate their "Atonement Day," commanded by the law on the tenth day of their new year. As originally arranged for them under the Mosaic Covenant they spend the day in solemn fasting and prayer, while their priests performed various sacrifices for their sins. At the conclusion of these offerings their High Priest came forth to them with Jehovah's blessing for the ensuing year, during which they were reckoned as clean, purged, forgiven the sins of the past, the condemnation inherited from father Adam.

With the pronouncement of the blessing of God in the evening of the Atonement Day the people arose and rejoiced because of the divine favor thus manifested toward them. From the standpoint of unbelief, higher criticism, and evolution all of those procedures were merely forms and ceremonies utterly meaningless or worse. Higher critics would have us understand that the Mosaic arrangement was a human device entirely and not of divine inspiration.

Evolutionists would tell us that Adam was almost a monkey and therefore almost wholly devoid of moral responsibility, and that he could not have committed a sin which would involve his future interests and that of his posterity as the Bible declares. They tell us that our race, so far from being under any just condemnation and experiencing a fall from the divine likeness and favor, has on the contrary every reason to congratulate itself and to expect divine congratulations for the forward course it is taking – rising from monkey-hood to our present degree of human intelligence.


But what is the Christian view? We answer it is not the view most commonly held today among people nominally called Christian and which coincides very generally with the foregoing views of agnostics; but it is the view presented to us in the New Testament records of the teachings of our Lord and His apostles. The old theology and not the new theology properly interprets Christian doctrine on this subject. Did Jesus, or any of His specially appointed mouthpieces – twelve apostles – ever utter anything in line with higher criticism, agnosticism? Did they ever make any reference to an evolution theory? Surely not – not one expression of such implication is to be found.

Quite to the contrary, their teachings were in full accord with the Jewish Scriptures, from which they quoted liberally. As in Genesis it is recorded that Adam was created in the image of God and that by his sin he fell from that glorious position under sentence of death involving also all of his posterity, so in the New Testament we find the very same teaching set forth, manifested, explained, connected up with the work of Christ and the salvation which He came to accomplish.


The Jews were taught in the law and by the prophets that they could not reconcile themselves to God – that they could not pay their own penalty for sin – that they could not secure a resurrection or eternal life by anything they could do. The promise held out to them was that a Messiah and great prophet, priest and king like unto Moses should be sent them. He would be a sayiour and a great one – the deliverer from sin and death, including sickness, pain, etc. The New Testament steps forward and, accepting all of the foregoing of the Old, points us to the fulfillment of those promises in Jesus. That He was the one appointed of God to be the Messiah, the Saviour. It points to Him now as filling the two-fold picture of priest and sacrifice and tells us that our Lord "offered up Himself" – "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." [Heb. 7:27; John 1:29]

It applies to Him the various prophecies and types of the Old Testament, assuring us that by His stripes we are healed. It tells us that the other features of Messiah's work arc yet future, that ultimately He shall be the great King or Ruler of all the earth, exercising omnipotent power for the control and uplifting of all who are willing out of the present condition of sin and weakness. It tells us that He will be the great prophet or teacher of the people to show them the way of the Lord and to assist them out of their difficulties. The Jews expected Messiah's favor to be to them alone and that subsequently God's favor and rule would be extended through them to all nations. And in this they were right, and the Scriptures assure us that our Lord offered Himself first of all exclusively to the Jews and that but a remnant of the people accepted Him, and that that remnant received special divine favor and became the nucleus of the elect Bride class, to which the Lord has since been adding, called, chosen and faithful saints whom He is gathering out of every nation, people, kindred and tongue.

During this time the Jews are no longer God's favored nation. Because of their unbelief and rejection of Messiah they have been rejected for a time. But the New Testament tells us that as soon as the elect Church, called also "A Little Flock," shall have been gathered and taught and prepared in the school of Christ, then the marriage or union of this elect Church with Christ shall constitute her the "Bride, the Lamb's wife" and joint heir with Him in His Kingdom.


This is where we are now in the development of the divine plan for the elect Church is not yet complete, hence is not yet glorified or united to Christ in the "first resurrection." [Rev. 20:5]

Hence believers are still looking forward [NS492] to that glorious consummation, and praying, as the Master directed, "thy Kingdom come." [Matt. 6:10]

As soon as the marriage of Christ and the Bride shall have been accomplished nothing will intervene, but the Kingdom of God will at once be established amongst men. And then, as the Apostle Paul declares, divine favor will come to fleshly Israel first amongst the nations. He says "They shall obtain mercy through your (the Church's) mercy." [Rom. 11:31]

Explaining God's grace in this matter the Apostle says "for this is (God's) covenant unto them when he shall take away their sins." [Rom. 11:27]

He adds: "As ye (Christians) in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief; even so have these also now not believed that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief that he might have mercy upon all." (Rom. 11:25-33)

Thus the Apostle assures us that the great plan of God substantially as the Jews had understood it will be accomplished through the Messianic Kingdom – spiritual, unseen of men. What the Jewish nation lost was the privilege of being exclusively that spiritual Church or Kingdom. The Kingdom will come and will exercise all power and will bless Israel, and through Israel all nations.


Notice the apostle's statement that this blessing is to come to Israel when God "shall take away their sins."

He is not referring to their typical atonement days, which merely affected a covering of their sins for a year, but he does speak of an absolute blotting out or taking away of their sins. Familiar with the Jewish law he reminds us that Israel offered sacrifices for sins year by year continually, but that those sacrifices could not take away sins because they were merely typical and not the real sin atonement. The death of bulls and of goats could not take away men's sins. It was man that was condemned to death, and could the death of a bullock pay the price? Surely not!

The apostle points out that to accomplish the real cancellation of sins it was necessary that there be a substitute found for the first sinner – a substitute for Adam, sinless, perfect, in God's favor, yet willing to give His life for the redemption of Adam and all those involved with him. The apostle points out that no such man could be found anywhere in the world, because all are sinners, and that none could give ransom to God for His brother. (Psa. 49:7)

He then points to Jesus as the antitypical spotless lamb. It is explained to us further that He was holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners, and therefore fit to be the redeemer of Adam. When we query how He could be a man and yet different from other men and free from the taint of heredity, the answer is given that "He came down from above" – that it was the transferred life of the Son of God that became identified with our race through His virgin mother, and that thus He was born free from Adamic imperfections and taints in order that He might give Himself a "ransom for all." (1 Tim. 2:6)

The apostle explains how our Lord humbled Himself to leave the glorious condition as a spirit being and to become a man, and that then being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself yet further even unto death – yet further even unto the death of the cross.

The apostle's language shows that while His death was necessary as the offset to the first Adam's sentence, the ignominy and humiliation were tests of His own loyalty to God the Father as proving his worthiness to the very high exaltation which the Father had purposed for Him – the divine nature. The apostle assures us that the death of "the man Christ Jesus" – "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners" – was the ransom price – the offset price – of the sentence of death against our race through Father Adam.

He assures us that this great sin offering will not need repetition, that it is "once for all" and forever. He explains to us that the delay between the time when Christ thus purchased Adam and all his race through the sacrifice of Himself, and the time when at His second coming He will establish His kingdom and bless all the race of Adam of every nation with knowledge and opportunity, and that this blessing will again begin with the Jews. Hearken to his words, "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together ... waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God" – the glorified Christ, Messiah, Jesus, the head and the church reckoned in with Him as His body, or under another figure, His bride. (Rom. 8:19-22)

He explains, "By one man's disobedience sin entered into the world and death (not eternal torment) the result of sin, and thus death passed upon all men because that all have sinned." He proceeds to show that as condemnation came upon all through the first man Adam so justification must come to Adam and all of his race as a result of Christ's death. As this knowledge and opportunity reaches the various members of Adam's race their responsibility begins and will end either in life eternal or in death eternal, from which there will be no further resurrection.


This grand plan under which Christ and His followers of the present time become living sacrifices and under which by and by all mankind will be blessed with glorious opportunities for eternal life, at first may seem "too good to be true."

Why? Because the real character of our God was lost sight of during the "dark ages," when traditions of men were accepted instead of the [NS493] Word of God, and when the general teaching was that God would take delight in eternally torturing the great mass of the human family, the non-elect. Now as we get to see God's Word in its own true light it reveals to us the fact that "as heavens are higher than the earth so are God's ways higher than man's ways and His plans higher than our plans." [Isa. 55:9]

It shows Him to be a God of love, merciful and gracious, who has made so abundant provision, applicable to every member of Adam's race. Nor should this surprise us. Looking back to Abraham's day we find that just such was the divine promise, viz: "In thy seed shall all the families of the world be blessed." (Gen. 12:3)

Abraham believed this, that a seed would be born from his posterity and would bring blessing to every member of the race. True, when the Law Covenant was made with Israel through Moses it seemed to shut off and to deny the all-abounding grace that had been suggested to Abraham. But this was not really the case. The time had not yet come for the blessing of the world by the establishment of Christ's Kingdom, and meantime the Lord introduced that Law Covenant that it might set before Israel high ideals and show them their own imperfection and their own inability to comply with the commandments of the Law.

When the Millennial Age of Messiah's reign begins not only will he and the elect Church with him as the antitypical seed of Abraham bless the world with forgiveness and general aid, but as the antitypical Moses, Messiah will then promulgate the law to the world up to the demands of which every human being will be required to come if he would have eternal life. But being greater than Moses in every way Messiah, through the merit of His own sacrifice, will be able to remit the due to those who will be under His government and to uplift them out of their degradation and sin and back into harmony with God and righteousness.

To those who can see Christ as the antitypical priest and the gospel Church as the antitypical under priesthood or "royal priesthood" and who can see the sacrificing of these which began with our Lord and has continued with the various members of His body since – such can see that this entire gospel age is the antitypical "day of atonement" and that at its close the great high priest Messiah will come forth at his second advent with a blessing for the whole world – not for a year only, but a perpetual blessing to as many as will accept it and come into harmony therewith.


The Apostle calls our attention to the fact that as Moses put a veil over his shining face when giving the Law so a veil seems to hide from Israel (and from the remainder of the world also) some of the glorious beauties of the divine program. How glad we would be to help any of them to see beyond the veil, beyond the type – to see the antitype.

Our Jewish friends, with a faithfulness which is most inspiring, have maintained their hold upon the various features of their Law for centuries even after they have ceased to be properly possible of observance. For instance, they have not been able to keep the atonement day according to the Law for 1800 years. The Law prescribes that they must have a high priest, but they have none. Not a Jew in the world today could claim the right to that office if they were back in their own land and had everything else requisite, because this function of office belonged to the one tribe or family and could not be exercised except by the one who could show his genealogical right to it.

Moreover, if they had a priest they have no altar upon which they could offer the atonement day sacrifices – for they were required to be offered in the holy land. But if they had a priest and an altar, they have no tabernacle or temple with holy and most holy and above all they have no ark of the covenant and no shekinah glory resting upon it. The spectacle of that faithful people remembering the institutions of 3,000 years ago, not realizing that these are meaningless, that they have no forgiveness of sins, touches our hearts with sympathy. Fain would we show them what they for the present cannot see, but what they will see, now, shortly, that the antitypical priest, the antitypical sacrifices, the antitypical Holy and Most Holy and the antitypical actual forgiveness of sins, take the place of the type.

It is written in the prophecies and shall surely be fulfilled that in His due time, after the elect of this Gospel Church is glorified, God will pour out upon Israel the spirit of prayer and of supplication, and they shall look upon Him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his first born. (Zech. 12:10)

Then shall they turn to the Lord and he will abundantly pardon. Not only the living, but those who have gone down into the tomb shall come forth and have a share in the blessings which will be introduced by Messiah, the great anti-typical Moses. (Acts 3:23)

So then while many disbelieve in Adam and his fall and the condemnation which came upon the race, while many dispute the Bible record and deny the fall and deny the atonement, and teach instead evolution, we are not of those. We realize that there is such a thing as sin, that it is ingrained in our natures, that we are born with it, that the Bible alone explains the origin and explains also our hope of relief through the Savior. [NS494] Neither can we join with the Jews in acknowledging sin and the fall and trying to proffer typical sin atonement while knowing that the means for even typical observance is denied them by the Lord. But we can rejoice that seeing the fall and realizing our own share in it we have forgiveness of sins through faith in the precious blood of Christ – through a realization that healing has been provided for us and for all who will ultimately receive it on the basis of redemption; the Just One having died for the unjust.

We rejoice that we have not only been brought back into harmony with God but we have heard the invitation to present ourselves living sacrifices and that we have joined the noble company of the royal priesthood who delight in the privilege they have of sacrificing present interests for the privilege of co-operating with the Redeemer now and throughout the millennial age. We rejoice that while a blessing of restitution to human nature and all that was lost is thus secured for the world in general a still higher blessing is our portion if we are faithful and accounted worthy to become members of the bride class, whose blessing is to be heavenly and not earthly, whose resurrection is to be a change.

We rejoice still further that, becoming members of that glorious bride class it will be a part of our privilege to join with our Redeemer during His kingdom reign in the blessing and uplifting of whosoever will of mankind. Truly did the apostle say, "to us who believe he is precious."

The Redeemer indeed has a value to others who now know Him not because their eyes are blinded and their ears stopped by the adversary's errors, but "blessed are your eyes, for they see and your ears, for they hear," said our Master, and we indeed agree that His words were true. We have the blessing through faith in the blood.

September 23, 1907 Republished from The St. Paul Enterprise, August 14, 1917


Newark, N.J., Sept. 22 – Large gatherings greeted Pastor C. T. Russell, of Allegheny, Pa., here today. He preached twice. His discourse on the "Overthrow of Satan's Empire" was especially well attended. We report his second discourse from the text, "To comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them a garland in exchange for ashes, the oil of joy in exchange for mourning, the garments of praise in exchange for the spirit of heaviness." (Isa. 61:2, 3)

The speaker said: Explain the matter how we will, the world is very unhappy – not only dissatisfied, discontented, but much more than this – sad, sorrowful. Even amongst the world's merrymakers, who at times have the appearance of never a sorrow, never a care, we know that there are sorrows which, hidden from the surface of life, are gnawing and consuming the very vitals of many of these. Not infrequently the newspapers tell us of the suicide of some who, but a few hours ago in various ways gave the impression that their hearts were light and joyous – generously covering their wounds and difficulties from those who they realized had plenty of their own. Our question this time is, Why this sadness which more and more seems to prevail throughout the world, as indicated by the increasing number of suicides, suicide clubs, etc.; bringing into existence societies for the prevention of suicide, etc.?

What is the philosophy of this condition of things? Is it natural, normal, proper? Is it so in heaven, and will it be so on earth when God's will is done in earth as it is done in heaven? We speak of the sunny time of youth, the joyous days of childhood, and we do well; for the majority of our race the earlier years are the only ones of joy and happiness.

The average child of civilized lands – well fed, comfortably housed, its future protected either by generous parents or by the law of the land – looks out upon the future with hope and joy. To such a child the coming years of manhood and womanhood with personal anticipations, is often a picture full of enchantment and fascination. Free from the cares and worries of life, and full of hope, why should they not be happy? And who that has passed from childhood's estate into the stern realities of life, with its trials and difficulties and disappointments within and without, is not glad that childhood has these very joys?

Who of experience does not wish them to have a good time, a happy time, while yet they may, before the evil days draw on and those in which they shall say, "I have no pleasure in them?" (Eccl. 12:1)

We are glad, therefore, that some from philanthropic motives and others from self-interest are moving for the prevention of a too early entrance of children into the arena of strife and business and labor for bread. Surely all should be glad to cooperate for the maintenance of the joys of childhood.


If we inquire for an answer for this question we get replies from various quarters: The Evolutionists and Higher Critics tell us that the sorrows are incidental to [NS495] the development of Nature, the battling of life necessary to the survival of the fittest. Their Nature – god has no feeling, but operates through an inexorable law of development. They cannot even assure us that there will ever be joy and peace, but on the contrary tell us that all their experiences show that the greater amount of knowledge the greater will be the amount of pain and disappointment and sorrow, and that what has thus far worked out in nature they suppose will be the inexorable rule of the future. There is not much comfort or consolation in such a view.

We repudiate it and choose to continue to hold on to the God of the Bible, the God of justice, wisdom, love and power. Heathendom answers our query by telling us that life is a calamity from which we all find it difficult to escape. It tells us that we were born to sorrow, and claim that death is merely a transmigration, and that our future state may be one of more or less sadness and trouble, and so with each succeeding one until finally we should reach that degree of experience where we would need no further tribulations and pass into a condition analogous to nonentity – a condition where nothing would have any appreciable influence over us to do us harm.

The thought of joy and of everlasting happiness to all eternity are utterly incongruous with the ideals of heathenism, as they are utterly impossible to those who call themselves Christians but are none, as Evolutionists and Higher Critics. We are reminded here of the words of the disciples to Jesus, when He asked them, "Will ye also go away?" They answered, "Lord, to whom should we go; Thou hast the words of eternal life?" (John 6:67, 68)

And so it has been since, from that day unto this, amongst those who have really heard and truly appreciated God's message through His Son and through the apostles. These have found in the Gospel message the only balm for the sorrows, pains, troubles and difficulties of this present life, the only explanation, logical and rational, of why matters are in their present unhappy condition. From their words we learn certain great facts respecting the entrance of sin into the world, and because of sin all of this unhappiness and misery has been entailed upon our race. How plain is the statement, "lay one man's disobedience sin entered into the world – and death as the result of sin." (Rom. 5:12)

On apostolic authority, therefore, we say that sin and death are the sources of all the sorrow, disappointment and anguish which the poor world has experienced from the beginning until now. No wonder the poet has sung:

"Now the world is full of suffering,
Sounds of woe fall on mine ears;
Sights of wretchedness and sorrow
Fill my eyes with pitying tears."

Sin and death have worked havoc with the human mind, distorting its mental and moral qualities. The equilibrium of judgment is upset, the mental poise is considerably lost on many subjects, the world mentally is upside down, and the twists and turns and crooks of each individual mind is more or less peculiar to itself and different from those of each other. No wonder, then, that few can agree, few can find harmony, few can sympathize with each other, few know the right from the wrong, clearly and distinctly, while many have perverted tastes and appetites, and good intentions swallowed up in misconceptions and misunderstandings and perverted judgments.

Alas! now we see that sin, and the mental, moral and physical corruption and death which follow in its wake, has poisoned our race, has set on fire the courses of nature, and generally so unbalances the individual that he is unhappy and discontented and disappointed with everybody else. Poor world! No wonder the apostle wrote, "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth together in pain until now" – "waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God." (Rom. 8:19, 22)


The same book that tells us of the malady – that tells us the cause of the trouble in the world – thank God! – tells us of the Divine provision for our aid. The heathen have a merciless, angry god, needing to be propitiated, and indeed, as the apostle declares, they worship devils and not God. (1 Cor. 10:20)

The Higher Critics and Evolutionists have an impersonal god of nature, without moral qualities or attributes, and they, therefore, are as much without hope as are the heathen, except as by the exercise of large self-esteem they are able to attribute to themselves noble attributes and powers and to hope against hope for the future. But the people who do know their God – the people who are able, as the apostle says, to give a reason for the hope that is in them with meekness and reverence, (1 Pet. 3:15) arc the ones who alone have reliable information on this subject, as they have hearkened to the Word of God speaking to them in the Bible the message of Jesus and the apostles and the prophets; and as they have heard from these the true declaration, the philosophy, the explanation of the cause of present misery in the world, they have confidence that the same wise teachers are able to instruct them respecting a way of escape from earthly sorrows and difficulties.

Nor do they expect in vain, for he that seeketh findeth and to him that knocketh is opened the way, the truth, the life, by which alone misery and sorrow may be escaped from and comfort and joys and blessings be entered into. Our text is the explanation of the matter. In it through the prophet God has foretold His willingness [NS496] at the proper time and through His appointed agency, the Christ, to grant the very blessings for which the hearts of men long cry out. He proposes to ultimately give comfort to all that mourn. But He has not yet done this – many, many are the mourners throughout the world, few, very few, have received Divine comfort. Creation as a whole groans and mourns; only a comparative handful of humanity has received the consolation of the Lord.

Why is it that this Divine promise has not reached a fulfilment? Why is it that the groaning creation is not blessed? Why is it that Satan is permitted still to reign and rule in the hearts of the children of disobedience? Why is it that sin and death still reign, when it is in the power of our Creator to abolish these and to bring instead the reign of righteousness and truth under the law of love? We answer that the Lord has a due time, and that when that due time shall have arrived there will be no further delay, but that this promise and many others will have abundant fulfilment in the blessings upon the world through Christ's Millennial Kingdom.

Then "all the families of the earth shall be blessed" in the glorified Christ, Jesus the Head and the Church His body. This is the same thought that the apostle sets before us, saying, that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now – waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God. So soon as the sons of God shall all have been selected and elected, polished, fitted, prepared and glorified with their Redeemer, then the time for the comforting of all that mourn everywhere, of every nation, people, kindred and tongue, shall have come – but not before.

Before this great blessing shall come to all that mourn a special class of mourners will be dealt with, as our text declares, "them that mourn in Zion." [Isa. 61:3]

Zion is the general name for the Lord's covenant people. At one time the name belonged to Israel according to the flesh, but now it pertains to antitypical Israel according to the Spirit. They that mourn in Zion mourn in a rather different manner from those who mourn in the world. The apostle intimates this in connection with his remarks on the groaning creation, saying, "And we ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the deliverance of the body" – the church, which is the Body of Christ. Again, he says, "We who are in this tabernacle do groan being burdened." (2 Cor. 5:4)

Our groaning, however, is different from that of the world, because we by virtue of our covenant with the Lord, His Zion, have much advantage every way over the majority of mankind in that to us belong the covenants and the promises, and with them the hopes and the joys of the Lord according to the measure of our faith and the measure of our consecration zeal. It is because we have this counteracting influence, this inner joy of heart and mind, that the apostle declares that "We groan within ourselves" – not outwardly and not violently, as in the world. Ours is largely a groaning of sympathy for the world, including a sympathy also for ourselves because of the weaknesses of the flesh. But our joy no man taketh from us, as the Savior declared. Our God, our Redeemer, has appointed certain blessings and favors for us in the present time in proportion as we shall be able to exercise faith in Him and obedience to His will.

The Lord promises now to those who can exercise faith in Him that He will give them a garland, a crown of life, in exchange for the ashes of their expired hopes. But only those who realize that all the earthly hopes and aims and ambitions turn to ashes – only those who realize that there is no real joy under present conditions – only these have any inclination to heed the Word of the Lord offering Him the crown of life, the garland.

The majority of mankind, hoping against hope, striving to get something out of the ashes, striving for glory and honor of men and riches of an earthly kind – hopes that through these honors and riches they will have peace and joy, comfort and blessing. Some try one and some another; some turn from one direction to another direction in quest of this source of blessing and joy, only to find in the end that there is no real joy, no real pleasure, no real comfort, except in the Divinely appointed way – in fellowship with God and the principles of His righteousness, and in line with the promises of His Word.

Those who do hear the message of the Lord, who do hear about the garland, the crown of life which He has promised to them that love Him, and who are sick and tired and weary with their own futile efforts – these only have received the blessings mentioned in our text, and they, as the Scriptures everywhere declare, are merely a "little flock," a "peculiar people," zealous for righteousness, a "royal priesthood," whose sacrifices may indeed be seen in the present time to some extent, but whose royalty belongs to the future, when their reward shall be given them and they shall be joint heirs with their Redeemer and sit with Him in His throne for the blessing of all the families of the earth – the comforting of all that mourn, of every nation, people, kindred and tongue – for the wiping away of all tears from all faces, as the representatives of Jehovah. Not until these learned that earthly hopes and ambitions were ashes were they prepared to enter into their covenant with the Lord and to present to Him their bodies as living sacrifices, holy, acceptable, and their reasonable service, and only when they did this were they entitled [NS497] to consider the garland of eternal life as theirs. Even then it was not theirs in possession, but theirs in hope, as the apostle declares, "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day" – the day of His appearing – the day of the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom. (2 Tim. 4:8)

While the entire creation is groaning and mourning. in a certain sense, those whom the Lord addresses as in Zion mourn in a different manner from others. They mourn less for the sorrows of life and more for the causes of these sorrows – they mourn for sin, they mourn because of the penalty of death, they mourn in sympathy for others as well as for themselves.

None except those who have learned this kind of mourning are in the condition in which the Lord is pleased to consider them as in and members of His Zion, to whom belong the comforts with which He is now comforting us and the oil of joy with which He is now anointing us. Highly perfumed oils in ancient times were used to symbolize God's holy Spirit and the joy which comes with it. Such oil was poured upon the king at his anointing, and also upon the priest at his anointing for his office, and occasionally upon a distinguished guest, as in the case of our Lord when Mary anointed Him with thc spikenard ointment.

In every case it signifies favor, blessing, joy, unction. The Scriptures instruct us that we are to recognize the church as the Body of Christ and Jesus as its Head. They tell us that He was anointed with the Holy Spirit for His double office in the future – as King of kings and Priests of priests. They tell us also that we as members of His Body come under the same anointing, the same Holy Spirit's influence. The same oil of joy with its refreshing perfume, is our portion as members of the Body of Christ.

This is granted to us to replace the mourning – to enable us to see in God's great, glorious plan lengths and breadths and heights and depths that we never before realized, and assuring us of the Father's love and of the bountiful provision He has made not only for the Church of the firstborn, but also for all the families of the earth in His due time. Surely with the anointing of this oil of joy our mourning has largely passed away.

"Why should the children of the King Go mourning all their days? The oil of gladness He pours forth And wakes our songs to praise."


Our rejoicing in the garland of eternal life promised us and our joy in the Lord under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, priceless treasures though these be, would be insufficient to maintain us in the spirit of praise continually. The difficulty is that we have these treasures in earthen vessels – in an imperfect body. When we see that the attainment of these great blessings is made dependent upon our becoming copies of the Lord's dear Son, and when we realize more and more our own weaknesses and insufficiency, the effect is discouragement, the "spirit of heaviness."

Fear comes in to suggest that it is impossible for us to gain the great prize for which the Lord has invited us. Our imperfection stands out before us more glaringly as we come to a still closer and more intimate acquaintance with the perfections of our God. What shall we do? Our text informs us that God has made provision for this very condition of things. He wishes us to realize our own insufficiency; He wishes us to be dissatisfied with the very best attainments we could have in our imperfect flesh; He wishes us as New Creatures to long for the glorious change which He has promised to the faithful in the First Resurrection, when we would be granted perfect spiritual bodies, in which we may do perfectly the will of God in harmony with our perfect desires. But while telling us that that is the only time when we will be satisfied, when we will awake in His likeness (Psa. 17:15), the Lord provides us something to lift from us the spirit of heaviness, and this our text terms the "garments of praise."

What garment is this except the wedding-garment which the Lord has promised to His espoused virgin Bride, His consecrated, elect Church? This is the robe of Christ's righteousness imputed to those who have accepted Him with full sincerity of heart.

When once the value of this robe is appreciated by the wearer it will be understood that it covers all the unwilling blemishes of the flesh and the shortcomings that are of heredity or otherwise unavoidable. What wonder that this garment of justification is called the garment of praise! What wonder that everywhere in the Scriptures it is indicated to be indispensable to those who are now being called to be the Bride, the Lamb's Wife.

What wonder that in one of His parables the Lord indicated that everyone who entered into covenant relationship with Him received such a wedding-garment, a garment of praise, and that anyone having thus received and put on and then discarded the wedding-garment would be utterly rejected from all further favors. The Bride of Christ, completed at the end of this gospel age, is pictured in the forty-fifth Psalm as clothed with this wedding-garment, and it is declared that at such a time the garment will be embroidered with fine needlework. The lesson seems to be that the Lord's people should greatly appreciate this garment of praise – Christ's imputed [NS498] righteousness – and that, appreciating it, each should seek to embroider it painstakingly with the fruits and graces of the Lord's Spirit according to the glorious pattern which He has set us in His own character and life. Thus, as the prophet declares, the King shall greatly desire the Bride's beauty, and He is her Lord, she shall worship Him. Very soon, thank God, this elect Bride class will have been finished – the last member will have put the finishing touches upon the glorious wedding-garment, and the Bride company as a whole shall be ushered into the presence of the great King – the marriage supper, the glorious feast of heavenly blessing will be entered upon by both Bridegroom and Bride when the Bride shall have made herself ready and be without spot or wrinkle or any such thing upon her wedding-garment, her "garment of praise."

We exhort, then, that all who are members of the Lord's Zion, all who have made covenant with the Lord by sacrifice in the name of the Redeemer, shall put on this garment of praise, and shall maintain it spotless, seeing to it that they will hasten to the Lord for the removal of the stains through the merit of the precious blood, that thus their relationship to the Lord may be continually retained; that the oil of joy and gladness may be continually upon them, and that the garland of life eternal may be fully and everlastingly theirs, and that they may hear the Master's voice eventually saying, "Well done, good and faithful servant." [Matt. 25:21,23]

The Pittsburg Dispatch, October 21,1907


Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Oct. 20. – Pastor C. T. Russell of Allegheny preached this morning in Scranton and this afternoon in Wilkes-Barre. Large crowds of people heard him with earnest attention, speaking from the text, "We beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. For He saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee. Behold, now is the day of salvation." (2 Cor. 6:1,2)

He said: Our text is generally interpreted very differently from what we consider to be its correct, its true meaning. It is generally quoted as a threat over the heads of those who have not given their hearts to God. It is taken as a warning that should they die without having made a consecration, and without having developed a proper character in the school of Christ, there would be no further opportunity for them under any condition, but on the contrary, everlasting woe in indescribable torture at the hands of an angry God, supported by myriads of fireproof demons. Such a misrepresentation of this portion of the Word of God is only measurable excusable on the ground that very few Christian people are Bible students in the true sense of the Word, because they accept interpretations of Scripture aside from the testimony of the context.

Additionally such a view is accepted thoughtlessly because the doctrine of eternal torment, handed down from the "dark ages," has so long been accepted as Scriptural that it is difficult for people to get their minds out of that rut and to think on the subject of the future unbiasedly, sanely, as they would think on any other subject.

Indeed, we have known some good Christian people, who otherwise seem to have a measure of good common sense, who on hearing any interpretation of the Scriptures which would imply that God is good, generous, loving, kind, would straightway be inclined to say that doctrine must be of the devil. In other words, the great adversary has so turned and twisted their reasoning faculties that they put light for darkness and darkness for light, to the extent of describing the Almighty God as the worst enemy of our race, who, before He created the race, planned the eternal torture of all but a few, the saints, the elect; and He since has been carefully working out that plan.

How thankful we should be that the gross ignorance and superstition of the "dark ages is gradually giving place to the dawn of the millennial morning, which is shedding light upon the divine word and the pathway of the Lord's faithful. We are reminded of the Apostle Peter's words, "We have a more sure word of prophecy, to which we do well to take heed as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawn and the Day Star arises in our hearts." (2 Pet. 1:19)

Thank God that the darkest features of the night are past; and the errors which impelled our forefathers to burn one another at the stake no longer fetter, bind our hearts and minds, but that instead we are receiving more of the spirit of the truth – the spirit of love – the Spirit of God – and that proportionately the shadows, weary shadows of the earth, are fleeing away.


Notwithstanding the brightness of the morning star and the influence which it sheds upon our pathway we are still guided by a voice behind us – the voice of Jesus [NS499] and His inspired apostles and the Lord's faith of old. Let us listen to this voice of the good Shepherd, which is now directing us that we should no longer walk in the ways of the "dark ages" and no longer give heed to their doctrines of devils (1 Tim. 4:1), but should give heed to and proclaim the message pure and simple as it was announced at our Savior's birth – "Behold we bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people – because to you is born this day a Savior, which is Christ the Lord." [Luke 2:10,11]

This message is broader and deeper and higher by far than all the babble of confessed traditions and theories of men which for so long have disquieted our hearts and caused the best of God's people, the most faithful, to mourn. Now we perceive that while it is true that there is a selection of a "little flock," it is not true that the non-elect are all to be eternally tormented; it is not true that any of them are to be tormented eternally. On the contrary the election of the Church, the Spiritual seed of Abraham, is in fulfilment of the promise of God, which reads, "In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." (Gen. 22:18)

Hence the blessing of the world in general cannot be accomplished until the elect spiritual seed of Abraham shall all have been completed. To this agree the words of the apostle addressed to the Church, "If ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise" – to bless all the families of the earth. (Gal. 3:29)

So says the voice behind us – the voice of Jesus speaking personally and through His apostles. So we are assured that the Church is a Kingdom class – that with the completion of the Church this class will be complete, and that then the Kingdom power will be granted, and that forthwith the millennial kingdom of Christ and His Bride will spread over all the earth as the sun of righteousness, with healing in his beams. (Mal. 4:2)

The same great Teacher who told us that now we should not put our candles under the bushel but should set them upon candlesticks and allow the enlightening influence to extend as far as possible has assured us that by and by all the faithful of this class who have let their lights shine through evil report and through good report at the cost of self-sacrifice, self-denial and worldly opposition – all such united with Himself shall constitute the great sun of righteousness through which all the clouds and shadows and darkness and superstition shall be made to flee away. The Apostle declared this in his statement, "This is the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world." [John 1:9]

We see distinctly enough that thus far only a small fragment of the world's population has ever seen the true light. We agree with the prophet that "Darkness covers the earth [society] and gross darkness the heathen." [Isa. 60:2]

We agree with the apostle that "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of those who believe not," and that thus the whole world not only lieth in darkness, but lieth in the wicked one, under his power. Again, we rejoice to hear the testimony of God's Word that the true knowledge of God, which has thus far reached but a fragment, shall ultimately reach all; that to Him "every knee shall bow and every tongue confess to the glory of God." [2 Cor. 4:4; Rom. 14:11]

When we remember that thus far the knowledge of Christ has reached but a few of any generation since our Lord's first advent, and that for 4,000 years before that there was no such message to anybody, then we are assured that the blessing God has promised signifies not only a widespread knowledge of the grace of God to all who should be living at the time of the establishment of His Kingdom, but that it means also the awakening of the dead, that all "may come to a knowledge of the Truth" and to an opportunity of salvation through "Him who loved us and bought us with His precious blood." [1 Tim. 2:4; Rev. 1:5]

Let us examine our text that we may note whether it has been misunderstood and misrepresented among the people of God. First of all we notice that it is a quotation from prophecy. Turning to the words of Isa. 49:8, 9, we find that the Apostle has quoted but a portion of the statement – the only portion that was necessary or pertained to his argument. The Jews for centuries had been waiting for the Messiah and the salvation which He was to bring. Not for one moment did they suppose that they had the salvation when they were still under imperfect, sinful, dying conditions. In this respect they seemed to have superior judgment to that manifested by many Spiritual Israelites, who today are inclined to think that we now have salvation and overlook the statement of the Apostle to the effect that this "salvation shall be brought unto us at the revelation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" at His second advent. (1 Pet. 1:13)

The Apostle was addressing the Jews. who realized that salvation would mean not only the deliverance from the power of evil, but a resurrection to a better condition. The New Testament points out that the salvation we are looking for will be brought to us at the end of this age, after the work of selecting, chiseling, polishing and making ready the very elect of God shall have been accomplished. The salvation by and the share in the First Resurrection will be the consummation of that blessed salvation work for the [NS500] Church. But they show us also that this salvation al ready has its commencement in our hearts, in that a transforming work has begun, which, if carried out to its completion, will prepare us for the full, the actual salvation in the First Resurrection. Thus this entire Gospel age is the day of salvation – the day, the epoch, in which God is making known to His people the riches of His grace and loving kindness in the forgiveness of our sins and in our acceptance through the holy Spirit and in our disciplining for the heavenly kingdom. This Gospel age is the day of salvation in the special sense that the salvation that is now offered is a special one, such as will never again be offered to mankind – a salvation not only from sin to life everlasting, but to a plane of glory, honor and immortality and joint-heirship with the Lord Jesus as His Bride.

So great a salvation will never again be proferred to any, so far as the Scriptures teach: Its promulgation is limited to the present Gospel age in the most strict, the most absolute sense. Now is the day of this salvation. The announcement implies that the class now being saved is one that is desiring salvation, "feeling after God" – specially drawn to God and anxious to be in harmony with Him and to be associated in His service. This description fits well to all those who are truly saints, but it does not fit at all to the world of mankind in general, described by the apostle as unwilling to retain God in their minds and whom he has given over to a reprobate mind. (Rom. 1:28)

These, who are the subjects of the present salvation, are such then as are looking to the Lord through faith for His blessing, as we read, "I have heard thee in a time accepted," or, R.V., "At an acceptable time I hearkned unto thee."

During this Gospel age the Lord invites all that are weary and heavy 1aden to come unto Him, all that have broken hearts. Others whose hearts are not broken, who are not weary nor heavy laden with sin, are not invited now – they do not come in under this call at this present time – they all need and will receive certain chastisements which will favorably affect them in due time. But the favored class now are those who are seeking the Lord, and who have been promised that they shall find Him; those who are knocking, to whom He is pleased to open; those who are feeling, to whom He is pleased to be found through Christ.

Whoever will look back to the prophecy can have no doubt that it applies to Christ and not to the world to Jesus the Head of the Church and the Church His body. "Thus saith Jehovah, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation I have helped thee, and I will preserve thee and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to be inherited the desolate heritages. That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth – to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves."

We need not point out to Bible students that the Father head our Lord Jesus and blessed His experiences to Him, and fi nal1y rewarded Him with exaltation in the resurrection far above angels, principalities and powers and every name that is named. Nor need we remind the Bible student of the assurances of the apostle that all the Lord's true disciples who walk in His footsteps are reckoned as members of His body-members of His bride to be.

We can apply the text then to these also, and see that this acceptable time has thus been all through this Gospel age from Pentecost to the present time, and that the Church has been helped all the way down and will be especially helped of the Lord in the First Resurrection. As the apostle declares, "He that brought again our Lord Jesus from the dead will raise us up also by Jesus. (2 Cor. 4:14)

The statement, "I will preserve thee," is a significant one, following as it does the declaration of the hearing of our prayer and the helping of the Church. The three expressions signify our acceptance by God, our help by Him in the present life in overcoming the world and in developing the character-likeness of His dear Son, and our ultimate preservation through death and through the First Resurrection to the glory, honor, immortality promised to the faithful.


Note that these who are succored during this gospel age, these to whom the present is the acceptable time, are to be the instruments in the Lord's hands of blessing all the people in general – the world of mankind. The covenant here mentioned is evidently the new covenant, through which all the families of the earth are to be blessed. But before that new covenant can come into effect it must be sealed, ratified, made applicable to the world by the precious blood of Christ. Tine, our Lord Jesus poured out His soul unto death, He gave His life a ransom for all, but we find that when He ascended on high He did not appropriate His sacrifice to the benefit of all, but merely to the benefit of such as would believe, to such as would become children of God through faith. If any did not hear or for any cause did not have the faith, they did not come under the provisions of that arrangement, for our Lord, we are distinctly told, appeared in the presence of God on "our behalf" – on behalf of believers. The same is pictured to us in the day of atonement sacrifice, when the [NS501] blood of the bullock was sprinkled on behalf of the high priest's body, and on behalf of the tribe of Levi which typified the household of faith. However, that application of the first sacrifice was the channel through which the later application of the second sacrifice for sins was made. It opened up the way and made the second sacrifice acceptable. In the type the second sacrifice was the goat, whose blood, afterwards brought into the holiest, was applied on behalf of "all the people," and effected for them the cancellation of all their sins, just as the blood of the bullock had previously effected the cancellation of the sins of the tribe of Levi. Looking further we perceive that as the sacrifice of the bullock represented that of our Lord, so the sacrifice of the goat, poor and lean, represented the sacrifice of the church of Christ, the Bride class, who are now invited to present their bodies living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God their reasonable service – to fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ. Rom. 12:1; Col 1:24

Now note the harmony of this with our Redeemer's words on the night of His betrayal, when instituting the memorial supper. He said, "This is the blood of the new covenant shed for many, for the remission of sins – drink ye all of it." [Matt. 26:27,28]

The symbolic cup represented the sacrifice of our Lord's life. It was by that eventually the new covenant would be sealed or ratified; the merit for the sealing was in that sacrifice. It was not for the few, not for the elect merely, but "shed for the many," for the whole world. But before it could be applied to the world the opportunity was granted for the few, for the elect, to drink of that cup – to share in that sacrifice. Hence the whole work of this gospel age has been our participation with our Lord in the sufferings of this present time that we may also be sharers in the glory to follow – the millennial glory, the kingdom glory – the work of blessing all the families of the earth.

The prophet declares that under this covenant of the people the great Messiah, Jesus the Head, the church, His Body, now being selected, will establish the earth and re-establish the desolate heritages. What does this signify? Ah! the Scriptures tell us that the heavens and earth of this present time are to give place to the new heavens and the new earth. The new heavens will be the church in glory, in spiritual rule or dominion over the world. The new earth will be society reorganized under the rule of the kingdom of God, under the law of love. In that blessed time the heritage of mankind will be rescued from its present disorder, and this is what the apostle refers to as the refreshing that shall come to mankind at the second advent of Christ. He says, "Times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord, and He shall send Jesus Christ, who before was preached unto you, whom the heavens must receive (retain) until the times of restitution of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began." (Acts 3:19-21)

Adam, as God's son of a human kind, an image of God in the flesh, possessed a wonderful heritage. Not only was he the king of earth, with dominion over the beasts of the field, the fowl of the air and the fish of the sea, in likeness to God's dominion over the universe, but additionally he had a heritage of mind, of heart- possibilities that were wonderful. All of these were lost through the fall and the sentence which it brought upon our race, "Dying thou shalt die." [Gen. 2:17]

Alas! how the mental heritage is gone, as illustrated by the fact that in New York, one of the most enlightened states in the world, one person out of each one hundred and fifty adult population is in the insane asylum, and the remainder must, alas, confess that their judgments are imperfect, their minds unsound. How a man's heritage of good morals has been lost, so that today, "born in sin, shapen in iniquity" "there is none righteous, no not one." (Psa. 51:5; Rom. 3:10)

And as for his physical inheritance it is, alas, sadly demoralized; aches and pains and brevity of life attest the operation of the divine sentence – "Dying thou shalt die."

Now look at the prophecy: this Great One whose acceptable time is the present and whose day of salvation is now – this one is to bring to pass under the divine covenant with the world a restoration to man of his lost heritage. No wonder the apostle calls this message one of "restitution of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began." [Acts 3:21]

But we hearken further to this great commission given to this elect church of which Jesus is the head. It reads: "That thou mayest say to the prisoners, go forth; to them that are in darkness, show yourselves."

How comprehensive is the divine statement: how much is declared in a few words! The Lord was not content with giving us the declaration that the covenant with the people would mean the blessing of them, the restoration to their lost heritages; but realizing the tendency there would be in humanity to disbelieve in divine goodness and to belittle the divine promises, the Lord through the prophet here points out that this blessing of restitution and refreshing will not only be for the people who shall be living at that time that they may have back by restitution all their lost heritages under "the mediator of the new covenant," but, proceeding, clearly teaches us that the blessing of the Lord is intended for all the families of the earth – for all those who have lived from Adam's day down to the present [NS502] time – for all those who lived and died before Jesus was born, and for all those who have died without a true knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ since. These are styled prisoners in harmony with the scriptural figure, and the tomb is represented as being the great prison house, which now is estimated to contain twenty thousand millions of our race. The Lord shows through the prophet that all of these prisoners will come forth from the tomb, or as our dear Redeemer expressed it, "The hour is coming in which all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God and shall come forth." [John 5:28,29]

In the figurative language of the prophet these prisoners will be called upon to come forth, to "show themselves."

They will not come forth to a time of ignorance and superstition and anarchy, the reign of sin and death, with Satan as the master deceiver in power, but under the new dispensation, under the millennial reign of Christ, they shall come forth to have testified to them in due time that Jesus Christ by the grace of God tasted death for every man and that all who are to come into harmony with Him may have eternal life. Then the responsibility will rest upon them and "it shall come to pass that the soul that will not hear (obey) that prophet, shall be utterly destroyed from amongst the people." Acts 3:23

It is "that prophet," who shall then judge the world, that God is now selecting from amongst men and whom he calls his "little flock," his very elect, the Christ, the great Prophet, Priest and King and Judge of divine appointment and development. In every sense of the word Christ Jesus is the Head of this great one, and our part as the members of his body is only by the grace of God through our redemption by the precious blood and our adoption and instruction in the school of Christ, who has assured us that without Him we can do nothing, but in Him as branches in the vine, as members in the Body, we become eventually mighty through God to the pulling down of the strongholds of error and to the setting up of the kingdom of God under the whole heavens. 2 Cor. 10:4

Finally, brethren, this portion of our text has a deep significance when viewed from this standpoint, "Now is the accepted time."

What does this signify? What is God willing to accept of now? Ah, a great mistake has been made. We once supposed that these words meant, Now is the acceptable time, the time to escape eternal torment. Hearken to the apostle's explanation of this matter. In his letter to the Romans (12:1) he says, "I beseech you, brethren, present your bodies a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God!" The thought is unmistakable, it is the sacrifice that is "acceptable" to God and all who have heard of God's grace are invited to present this "acceptable" offering – themselves. They are told that it is a reasonable service, they are told that the mercy of God prompts it, they are informed that the mercy of God is manifested toward us as a race in the gift of his Son and that believers now obtain their share in that forgiveness imputed to them on account of faith and that it is on this account that they may consider their bodies holy and acceptable to God.

They are not left in any doubt on this matter but are assured that by nature we were children of wrath even as others, but that God's grace and mercy have been manifested toward them and that the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to them because of their faith in him and that on this account God would esteem them holy and acceptable if they present themselves to him living sacrifices by a full consecration of thought and word and deed, time, talent and influence, even unto death. Here we have the same thought that we glean from other Scriptures, namely, that the present day of salvation, the present "acceptable time" is specially for the Christ – Jesus the Head and the Church his body. In a word this "acceptable time" is this gospel age during which God is willing to accept, as members of the body of Christ, all those who, renouncing sin, come unto the Father through him, and taking up their cross seek to follow him through evil report and through good report; walking in the narrow way of self-sacrifice even unto death. As this "acceptable time" did not begin until Christ came at his first advent, so it will not continue after the last member of the mystical body shall have been gathered at his second advent. There would be no opportunity of entering into this salvation later on.

After the "little flock," the "bride" class, the "saints" shall have gone into the marriage and the door shall have been "shut" no more will be permitted to enter into that class; because the "acceptable time" will have come to an end, the day of special salvation will be ended.


But, thank God, that the ending of this special salvation and this "acceptable time" of sacrifice will not hinder the grace of God from proceeding to bless the world of mankind in general – not with the same blessing of a change of nature from earthly to heavenly conditions, but with a blessing of restitution to all that was lost in Adam – an earthly paradise which shall ultimately be world-wide and with glorious opportunities for life eternal for all those who will then "hear" in the sense of obeying the great Mediator, the great High Priest, the great Prophet, the great Judge – Christ, Head and body, Bridegroom and Bride. Let us, dear brethren and sisters, be faithful to our calling, to our privileges. [NS503] Let us seek diligently to "make our calling and election sure" to this grand inheritance. Let us remember that "Now is the acceptable time," that if we wish to bring our sacrifices to the Lord through the merit of Jesus now is the time and the only time. To offer it and not only to offer (to engage, to agree) but also to, as the apostle urges, lay down our lives in the service of the Lord, in the service of the brethren and in "doing good to all men as we have opportunity, especially to the household of faith." [Gal. 6:10]

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