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Harvest Workers' Meeting
A GREAT deal, my dear friends, connected with our hopes is associated with this word "Harvest." If we are not in the end of this Age then there is no Harvest work here and we are mistaken. If we are in the end of the Age, "the Harvest is the end of the Age," and we are not mistaken. We are not of those who profess knowledge on the subject; we have never claimed to have knowledge; we believe and therefore we speak, as the Apostle says. The whole matter is a question of faith and none of it is a matter of knowledge. We believe in God our Father, "whom not having seen we love." The same of our Saviour. We believe these things on the testimonials given to us and our faith is rested upon these promises of God, these arrangements we see God has made, and so we are rejoicing today because of faith. There are plenty of other people in the world today who do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ at all, others who do not believe what the Scriptures say about His having left the Heavenly Glory. But we are what we are and we have the rejoicing we have because of the faith we have. Take away that faith and I will be poor indeed. So I say, in this matter then of our having faith that we are in the Harvest, we are just in line with all the other phases of our faith, all the other blessings we have, and we are getting a blessing through our faith in the Harvest time in respect to the Harvest work. I venture to say that those are enjoying themselves most as Christian people who have a faith in this respect, in respect to the Harvest work and who are acting, living, day by day in accordance with that faith, seeking to do with their might what their hands find to do as co-laborers with the great Lord of the Harvest Who we believe is now gathering the wheat into the garner and soon will accomplish His great work.
Our subject yesterday, you remember, was "What shall I render unto the Lord my God for all His benefits towards me?" What does the great Chief Reaper say we may render? He says we may render our time and our strength in accordance with this work, this time in which we are living-- the privileges which belong to this Harvest time, and some therefore in full accord with that have had the privilege of doing Harvest work, some in one respect and some in another, but so far as I know all those in the Present Truth are realizing it is a great privilege to have any share in the Harvest work. Some are not so situated that they can give all of their time, talents, influence, all of their might in every way to this Harvest work. I know some are even inclined to grieve a little. They have become more or less entangled in the ordinary affairs of life. They are so situated they cannot do all they would. At the First Advent, you remember the Lord Jesus chose the Apostles, the 12, and apparently they were all single men except Peter; Paul speaks about Peter leading about a wife; we may therefore suppose he had a wife to lead about; but his wife did not stand in the way of Peter's co-operation with the Lord, co-operation with the Harvest work to be done, and I assume that if his wife would have been in the way to hinder the work St. Peter might not have been permitted to have been one of the Apostles, while he might have been one of the ordinary disciples. He might not have had the privilege of being an Apostle. And so with some today; there are some who are more privileged to engage in the work than others. They have fewer responsibilities. God does not wish us to neglect the duties of life. When I say "duties of life" I must check myself a little because there are a considerable number of God's people inclined to interpret such words as "duties of life" from the standpoint of the world. From the standpoint of the world it is a duty of life to make a fortune if you can, and if you cannot to try it. To make a fortune is the chief duty of life according to the world. For anyone to engage in the Harvest work, to spend his time and influence in going about to encourage, to assist others, in the study of the Bible and explain matters to them or help to awaken their interest would seem to be folly. I know some of our dear friends have had a great deal to endure in that way. Sometimes it is from the father, sometimes the mother, sometimes the brothers or sisters. "All this is foolishness, rank foolishness. You ought to be doing something useful." They look at things from a totally different standpoint from that which God has given. From God's standpoint we see that whatever we can do to be co-laborers with God is the most wonderful privilege we can have, is the privilege He has given to His people. Whether we are doing elders' work or deacons' work, or whether the ordinary work of the Church or speaking to those we meet, we can be co-laborers together with God as though God did beseech them by us. "We pray thee in God's stead to be reconciled to God." It has been the chief business of God's people all these 1800 years; no other business to be compared with this. If you are a sailmaker, if you need to make your living, then you make sails just as much as necessary to support yourself decently and in order to provide for those depending upon you, not to lay up money, goods, not to lay up, give your love to, anything. When you see beautiful pictures, beautiful furniture, etc., in the shop windows, you can look at them and enjoy their beauty. I can enjoy those things every time I go along a street. Some may say, "But they are not yours." That does not matter. I am glad they are not mine. I would not enjoy them if they were mine. I would have to keep them in order. I get far more good than if I owned them, by just looking at them. If I took them in and locked them up very few people would see them. When in the store lots of people can see them. I am better pleased that lots of people have that pleasure than that I should have it alone.
So then, dear friends, we have taken a peculiar view of all God's people do, that is to say, all of God's people should do. It is true we have gotten into an occasional worldly spirit; the nominal church of the day has been immersed in the world; there has been no persecution, nothing to make them on the alert to defend the faith. They have nothing to defend. They have fallen asleep and if you say something to them about religion they feel like saying, "Don't, my! I was just having a pleasant doze." They feel as if it were an ant or a fly or a mosquito coming round to annoy them in their sleep. We cannot help that. They say people about to perish in the snow become so stupefied that they feel they are just about to go into a beautiful dream. People in the first stage of freezing, if left alone will simply sink down and go to sleep and never know anything. Just sleep to death in the cold. And so these dear Christian friends, many of them are cold, some of them lukewarm, the Scriptures say, and they need our attention. They have needed it all the way along, but there has generally been enough persecution to keep them awake. As long as that was the case they were in better condition, but now there is nobody left to make them afraid. Now they have come to a very snug and nice condition, nice comfortable pillows, cushioned pews and everything is going well. They need to beg a good deal for money occasionally, but that keeps them in Christian work, the need of money. The only kind of work they do is raising money. Just as sure as you name "Christian work" there nearly always is "money" at the other end of the street.
Well, friends, we are living and we have got awake. We were asleep, too. We ought to have compassion on those who are now asleep. We were immersed in the riches of life, etc., trying to grasp pleasure. Different ones had different experiences, but by the grace of God our ears have heard the call, we have been wakened, we have found out that it is morning. We had a long sleep at night, we have looked out of the window and we saw the first gray streak of dawn and we beheld that the day was dawning, and our hearts were glad. And now what are we trying to do? We are trying to go all over the house of Christ, all over the church of Christ, whatever they call themselves, those who sleep in the Episcopalian room or those who sleep in the Roman Catholic room, or the Baptist room, or wherever they are asleep, we are trying to knock, to cry, "Wake up; it is morning, it is morning." And that's what our work today is. The Harvest work is, waking up. That's another way of looking at the matter. It is morning in one figure and Harvest time in another. God is just about to pour out His great blessing, to complete the gathering of the various [CR309] members of the Church. The door will soon be shut. Is not that the way you feel? It is the way we all feel. That's exactly how we feel. There is a great blessing to be given some of our dear ones who have been faithful servants and who are more or less asleep. Oh, how we would like to get them awake. We are not to pray them awake. Prayer is good, but it must not take the place of preaching. There is much more in Scripture about preaching. I have no authority to pray for you to be converted, to pray for you to get light. God has made certain rules and regulations on which you can get light and others on which you cannot and it is my business to be an ambassador, to tell the terms, to call attention to God's Word, not to ask God to call your attention, because God has done all He intends to do. His part is all done. We must call attention to the Bible, to the message it conveys. This is the work of the Harvest, the closing of the Age, and this new light that is rising in the East, as soon as we get a view of it, as soon as we see the sunrise and have found out what the Sun of Righteousness means, the great Sun that with healing in its beams is about to flood the world with the knowledge of God, tell it out. Tell it out to the nations? No, we need not tell it to the nations. They have not any ear to hear at all. Tell it to God's people, those who profess to be God's people. Tell them of the wonderful things that are so near at hand. Tell them about the Bridegroom and the Bride. Tell them that if they want to make their calling and election sure they must be quick or the door will be shut, and whatever blessing they will get it will not at all compare with what the wise virgins get.
We must build up one another, energize one another, that we may make our calling and election sure, not that God could not get along without us, my dear friends, oh, my! there are a thousand ways in which He could do without every one of us, but He privileges us. It is a great privilege that we might be God's ambassadors, God's mouthpieces, and how much joy it brings when we do anything for the Lord! Surely the Lord never allows anybody to labor in His service unless He gives them exceedingly, abundantly more than they could have asked or thought as a reward.
I think of one brother. I went to a certain city to a meeting and he was to meet me at the station. It was not a very large place. This is some years ago. It was a rainy morning. I got off the train. "Well," he said, "this looks very unfavorable for our meeting--a wet day--but never mind, Brother Russell, I am happy whether this meeting amounts to anything at all or not. I have got my share of the blessings already." "How?" "Well, this way. I have never done volunteering, as you call it, until this time, and it so happened that there was no one else to take up matters in the way of circulating announcements of this meeting. The 'old man' did not like to do it. But I told him he had to do it, and finally I got him at it and it went along swimmingly then, and now that so warmed my heart, and that effort to serve and be faithful to the Truth has brought me such a blessing, if nobody else gets a blessing out of this meeting I have already got mine." So that is the experience of all God's people who have rendered unto the Lord their lives, who have said, "What shall I render unto the Lord," and when they have found something they could do, no matter how little it might be, that they were anxious to do the little thing. Some you know will say, "If I could go on the platform and speak for Jesus and tell about the Harvest message, you know I would be glad to do it." You see the point. They would do something if they thought it was a large thing, but if it was a little thing they pass it by. That's a mistake, my dear brethren, that's a mistake. If you want to please the Lord you will have to begin the other way and say, Lord, no matter how little the thing is, let me do whatever is to be done. Begin with the first thing you find. Do it so well that the Lord will say, Give him the chance of another. Give him more and more and more. I think that's the Lord's way. "To him that hath shall be given, from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath." To him that hath used shall be given more and from him that hath not used shall be taken away the privileges he had. Don't overlook the little things. If it is the smallest kind of thing, if done unto the Lord, count that you have great honor in being His servant in any manner. In the end He will say to us all, "Because you have been faithful in a few things, in little matters, I will give you something of importance." That will be the way at the end if we are faithful. It will be because we are faithful in a few little things. There is not very much that any of us can do. It is all trifling from God's standpoint, but He looks at the spirit.
Now, then in this Harvest time, surrounded by good evidences that the Age is closing and that the new Age is drawing on, what manner of persons ought we to be? The Apostle wanted to know that away back eighteen centuries ago. Well, they should be zealous, and all Christians should be zealous. We have all good reason to be, but coming down to our day there is a special reason for being zealous--so many special reasons; they all seem to focus right upon this time in which we are living. God has been preparing for this time in which you and I are living. He has been preparing for more than 6,000 years, has He not? Do you ever think of that. God has been preparing for it all these thousands of years, by sending prophets and causing various dispensations one after another, that this Gospel Age might come in and then upon this Gospel Age He has poured all His mercy and blessing, and now we are at the close of the Gospel Age, the focus of all these 6,000 years. I tell you, my dear friends, God must be deeply interested in what is going on now. He did not let these thousands of years go by and send His Son and afterwards the Apostles and teachers, and then have it all for nothing. Here we are now at the Harvest time. How would you feel, those of you who have any experience in farming, if you went into a field and with great labor turned over the soil and left it for awhile, and ploughed it again, put in the harrow and harrowed it, and put in the seed and all the other processes, then you watched and tried to see that it was well watered, etc., and you watched and waited, what for? The harvest, the harvest. The husbandman has long patience while he waits for the harvest. Of course, he waited for a long time before he put in the seed and before he did the other features, but all the waiting and the grand sum of everything is the harvest. And here we are in the Harvest, in the most wonderful time the world has ever known. More than that, the Harvest is nearly over, if we have the right conception. I say it is faith you know, not knowledge. We believe that the Harvest is nearly ended. How long has it been? Oh, some thirty-seven years. Only about two years, a little more, left of the Harvest time, so far as we know. I tell you, my dear friends, every moment of this time gets more precious as we begin to feel there is something to be done here. God is not getting excited about it; don't think that. God is not thinking that His plan is in any danger of failing. It is you and I that need to get a little bit afraid. Let us fear lest we should even seem to have come short. There have been promises left to us and one of them is that "he that reapeth receiveth wages." Let us fear that if we don't reap enough we cannot get as much wages as we hope to get. Let us fear lest we should show any carelessness in this time of reaping, in case He might say "There is a half-hearted laborer; let him stand aside; put on that other person who is anxious for work over yonder." Let us fear lest having an opportunity of laboring in the Harvest field any of us should miss that opportunity through any disinterestedness. God is looking for very warm-hearted children; He is looking for those who are so earnest for His Truth and for their brethren that they are anxious to lay down their lives in His service. "They shall be mine, saith the Lord, in that day." Why? Because they are jewels. That kind of people are all jewels. Even the world knows they are jewels to some extent. They may think they are very foolish but they admit that there is quality there. Even the great Napoleon who was a very cold-blooded man surely, said, "If I could have people to serve me as some Christians serve Jesus, I could easily conquer the world." Yes, if he could have all his soldiers like some of Christ's soldiers he might do so. Now we want to be like those he would have liked to have, and not like the nominal mass who are very indifferent, because we have so much advantage every way over other Christian people who have ever lived, who have never had this opportunity. Look at the present privilege we have today. In this Harvest time we have opportunities for doing ten times as much as any person in previous times ever had. For instance, the harvest work of the Jewish Age occupied forty years. First of all Jesus and the disciples labored three and one-half years before the cross and then there were three and one-half years after that before the Gentiles got any opportunity, making seven years in all devoted to the Jews only. The Gentiles got no opportunity. Then there were the remaining thirty-three years of their Harvest [CR310] time in which the message was sent all through Palestine, everywhere, like a fine tooth comb, to find every "Israelite indeed." Like a magnet cast in to find every true particle of steel so the Truth found every "Israelite indeed" in that people, and all that took forty years and at the end of the forty years, in the year 70, all was destroyed. All accomplished during forty years. Now we have a Harvest that is much wider. We have a world-wide Harvest. This message of the Truth which Jesus brought has gone over all nations, peoples, kindreds and tongues, and wherever the message has gone we may assume there are some grains of wheat. So there are some Christians in Africa, some in India, some in America, some in Australia, some in China, some in Japan, some in Great Britain, some in Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, France, Italy, Spain--all the world over there are some who are true wheat, we may assume, and now they are in the Harvest time. See what a large field there is to be harvested, dear friends, and compare this large field with the little field of Palestine and see what a difference, and see that the same length of time was apportioned--forty years there, forty here. So much larger a field in the same time. How can that ever be? Oh, I said a moment ago that God had been shaping everything towards this day, this Harvest time. Now, see He has got everything ready and necessary just at the time and not too soon. Here are ships to go across the Atlantic, and it only takes seven days. Here are swift trains to go in every direction, only requiring a few hours. And so on, over the world God has prepared for this day. Fast printing machines that will turn off printed pages by the millions. Express companies to carry them everywhere over the earth. Everything, everything that makes this the wonderful Harvest time, and that is just what it is. And so today the Truth is being published all over the earth in some sixteen different languages. At this very time there are nine young Japanese going with literature to all the different ports of Japan where there are any people likely to be able to read the Truth in the Japanese language and giving them a test. If they have any aptitude after testing them, they will have an opportunity of reading at least the first Volume, for that Volume is being published now and will be ready soon. One of the magazines there will be publishing some chapters of it during this summer, beginning this month. In August there will be another, and so on.
And so the message is going out in China, Japan and India, these different languages. Then alone in India there are different languages, just as different as German and English are different.
Well, dear friends, God is doing this work we believe. If you and I thought we were doing anything of this kind how foolish it would be for us, how foolish! We would not want to be doing any such work. It is because we believe it is the Lord's work, because we believe the Harvest time has come, because we believe God has given us the Harvest message and the privilege of being co-laborers with the Great Reaper in this work of making known the Truth which will act as a sickle to reap the wheat. What acted as the sickle in the Jewish Harvest? You know. The sickle that gathered there was the sickle of Truth. The Truth that Jesus sent the Apostles all around the country to preach. They did not have very much to preach either. He told them merely, "Just as you go, preach, saying, 'The Kingdom of God is coming. Repent and believe the good news!'" that's all. If we send round one or two copies of "People's Pulpit," we are sending a little more explanation of what the Kingdom is, what it has to do, etc., and how the door will soon be shut, and how those who want to have a share must make their calling and election sure.
Now, I believe you and I are deeply interested in this Harvest message as we know how to be. Is that right? We don't know how to be any more interested than we are? The only thing that can make us more warm is if we get more insight, more appreciation, and we get that in proportion as we use the knowledge we have, in proportion as we thrust in the sickle. Every time you seek to do a service of love to the Lord and the brethren you get warmed up to the matter, further energized and stimulated, and the thing becomes more real and more glorious to you as the moments and days go by.
Now coming down to something still more practical: You have not any opportunity of engaging in the Japanese, Indian, Austrian, African work, etc. You are right here in Scotland. You are right here in Great Britain. This is your opportunity. What are you doing? Are you doing with your might what your hands find to do? And by the time you have done that are you looking for something more for your hands to find to do. That's the spirit of service. It is not merely saying, "if the Lord asks me to do that I will do it." That's not the spirit of service. That's a spirit of standing holding your hands in your pocket and being careless until the command comes. The Lord is not needing us to do the harvest work. No one is. He that reapeth will receive wages. It is an invitation, just like everything else that God gives out during this age. It is our privilege to present our bodies living sacrifices. It is our privilege to become a child and heir of God. All privilege, no commandment, no threat-- not one. All privilege. Just the same with the Master "For the joy that was set before Him He endured the cross and despised the shame." The Father did not threaten Him. He set the joy before Him and Jesus gladly laid down His life. The same Father and the same Saviour has set the same joy before us and gladly will we lay down our lives in the service of the Truth if we have His spirit, and laying down our lives is our reasonable service. It is not doing something foolish. It is having our minds exercised to spend every moment of time and every particle of brains that we possess as wisely as we know how to do, to bring forth the desired result. It is not merely a matter of wasting energy and making a fuss. It is what you can accomplish, what results you can attain.
I see some of you, dear friends, who have engaged in that branch of the work which we call the colporteur work and I think that is a great blessing and means a very great privilege. As I look over all the agencies that the Lord has been pleased to use during this Gospel Age I don't see any that seems to have accomplished more under Divine Providence than this work, the colporteur work. I think I told you on a previous occasion how God seemed to get the work into that direction. At first we thought the work of circulating the Studies should be accomplished in the ordinary channel-- through the bookstall, but our opponents were too strong. They told the booksellers if they kept these books on the counters they would take away all their books, they would pirate them in some sense of the word. The booksellers were afraid to carry them on their shelves, and so when they would not sell in that way we wondered how God would have them brought to the people, and gradually God opened the way in the colporteur work. One after another came forward and enlisted in this army of the Lord and now there are about 700 people going about giving all their time to circulating the Truth, telling the people what glorious things God has for them, telling them as wisely as possible to interest them and not choke them, and bring the Truth to their attention, and then to leave sermons ready in their hands that their visit may indeed be a benediction in itself. It often is. Many times people have said, "When I just looked into the face of that brother or sister I saw there was something there that was very noble, a true Christian spirit, and when I saw that person was so earnest that I should have that book I took it. I thought there must be something in that book that would impress that person so. I knew it was not the money they were after, indeed, they said they were not there for that purpose. I am sure they would have earned their living otherwise better, and I am going to see what brought that bright light into the face of that young man or woman."
I will tell you about one sister. She was quite young. She had not been out in the work long, had only recently given her heart to the Lord. Her mother and sister were in the Truth and this one was about sixteen when she first gave her heart to the Lord and she had quite a knowledge of the Truth beforehand because she had had it in the home, and when she became a colporteur (she had a very sweet face), when she would go to tell about the Truth she would just tell it out of her heart in a very simple artless way, and that is indeed what often rejoices the heart of the people. They see that the person is very much in earnest and that they mean everything they say. In this case, this young sister went to a house and there was a lady came to the door, and she talked about the book and about consecration and about
different things and the lady, who was a Christian herself and had been for some years--probably thirty-eight--in the way, said, "Come in, come in," and so she sat down and told her "of grace so full and free." She had never heard anything like it, especially from the "mouths of babes and sucklings," so she got the sister to tell it over again, for she liked [CR311] to hear it. (She told this herself after, for she came into the Truth). And after, as she was listening, a minister who lodged in the house came in, and she got the sister to tell the story again to this minister, tell about God's plan, etc. And that lady who had been a Christian for years, she was surprised that one so young could know what real consecration meant and the minister was very much astonished, too. How could that young child know all about the steps of grace in the way that he had not comprehended before so clearly and could not have told himself so well! Because that is the truth, my dear friends. We have much advantage every way when we get the Divine plan of the Ages before our minds. The whole story is a true story, the whole is consistent, with beautiful, graceful lines.
This little sister told the story and the lady bought the set for herself and said to the minister, "You must take a set," so there were two sets sold.
Another case I heard of was that of an elderly sister. One lady to whom she sold a book and who afterwards came into the Truth said she came first to a meeting to find out who that was who sold her the book. She said, "I will tell you of her face when she talked. It just seemed so animated as if she just believed everything she said. I just had to watch her face all the time she was talking and it impressed me that she certainly believed what she was saying, so I took the book."
Another case of a young brother who had a very nice appearance and a bold way of presenting the Truth and seemed to be very clear, very earnest. The people were impressed. They said, "he is not thinking about pleasure, he is thinking about religious matters. I never heard our preacher talk so much. He does not say so much; he seems to be glad when the visit is over and he gets away. He asks about the crops or something, but he has not much to say about religion." And they noticed this colporteur knew something about religion and the privilege of the Truth.
I don't know any other way of preaching the Gospel that is equal to it. Suppose you were landed here in Glasgow, an utter stranger, and supposing you had the knowledge of the Divine plan that you have now, and supposing not a soul in Glasgow had the knowledge. You would say, "What am I going to do?" Suppose God said, "I will let you have the chief church of this city." Suppose He said that. You said, "Thank you, I will take it." The largest congregation (and the largest salary included) for a year was yours. How much could you do? You would have a chance of talking to that congregation so many times a year. Suppose you told them the Truth and suppose they all listened (they would not, but suppose they did), you would get a chance to talk to how many? I don't know how the congregations average here but in America they are getting very small in the great churches. In some large churches where there are congregations running up to hundreds they only have a congregation of from fifty to 100. (I heard in London of one place where they usually had about six every Sunday. One reads the lesson, another gives the music, another is usher, they all have offices and I presume a good sum of money goes in the matter and that is probably why they keep up the positions.) But suppose in this case you had everything favorable and a congregation of 500 (that would be very unusual), as a colporteur you would have a better opportunity than if you were in that pulpit with the salary attached and full liberty to preach the Truth. How could that be? You go right from house to house and you might say to yourself as you go along, "These are nice looking houses, these are nice looking people, do they attend Church? Well, I find about one-fifth of them attend Church and the other four-fifths never do, or very rarely. Well, I wish I could speak to those people who hardly ever go to Church, because quite probably they have become discouraged and lost their interest in religion. If I could have a few words with them perhaps I could find they were dear saints of God. If I walk up to a door, ring the bell or knock, and say 'May I talk to you about your soul,' they will shut the door, call the policeman, or something." But now instead of doing that you have the other way. Knock. "I have called to show a little book that is a great help in the study of the Bible. I presume you are Christians here, consequently interested in the Bible. I would like to call your attention to this book. I represent the Bible and Tract Society and they find a lot of people are losing their faith in the Bible and they have a little book here which, no matter how well informed you may be, will stimulate your mind and bring those things before your mind which will help to reestablish your faith and make it all the more strong. And then you may have friends and you have something which you can give them." When they ask you some questions about the Bible you might say, "I have not time to answer," and you could just give them this book. It is just the very thing and it is such an interesting matter. Some people have found there is not a single novel in all the world so interesting. It is a novelty to see all God is doing, that He is doing a great work in respect to mankind, and you could not have a more interesting subject and this book presents it in a very nice way. There is one chapter on one subject and it gives all the Scriptures right together, and then takes up another subject and so on and so it is really like the Bible only topically arranged. Now, I think you will be very deeply interested. Let me show you this chart." (And you give them a little talk on the matter.) "And now the price of the book is, to be just, it is really given away in one sense of the word, the three volumes sell for the price of one ordinary book. Three for a dollar, three for 4/-."
Well, anyway, you get the opportunity there of getting right to that person and then if they seem to indicate in any way that they are religiously inclined you have the chance of saying, "May I ask if you are a Christian yourself," "Oh, yes, we belong to the Presbyterian Church." "Yes, I thought that likely. A great many Presbyterians are interested in this book. Perhaps you would not like me to put the matter any clearer," and say, "Have you given your heart to the Lord?" (I would not say it in every case. It sometimes is not good, not always. You will have to judge the occasion. Some people you can ask if they are really consecrated, or you can tell them about yourself. "Well, now, I know as a Christian I never did appreciate, etc." You can talk about yourself ever so much in this way and not be egotistic and at the same time they will hear what you say about yourself if you put it nicely when, if you spoke about them, they would not like it so well.)
"I always find the best Christians are interested. There are some worldly people who are interested because they have got tired of the churches" (And when you touch just where they are, a little twitch goes through them--'That's my case,) so you just rub in that thought and then you say, "Now, I must not keep you. I will just ask you: can I sell you these books. I believe you will consider them the very best investment you have made in your life. I feel sure of it, and by the time you have read them, if you could not get another set, I am sure you would not sell them for pounds."
Now, you have the choice, not only of one house, but all the houses in Glasgow, one house after another, and wherever you go each volume represents sixteen different sermons and they can read them over and over again if they are interested, and if not interested they will be different as if they were sitting listening to your preaching, because the great majority of people do not listen to the sermon. They could tell you, perhaps, Mrs. Smith had a new bonnet, or Mr. Jones had a straw hat which he should have thrown away, but as having anything particular to think about you know that is an exceptional matter. They tell us so. Our own experience corroborates. Most of it went over your head.
Well, now, I say a colporteur, going from house to house, has a better opportunity of reaching the heart of the people and making an impression for God and the Truth than if he had a pulpit in Glasgow. Besides a pulpit in Glasgow needs a great deal of education and ability and in all probability if you got the fine education you would lose your religion. The educational institutions seem to be very favorable to kill off all the religious faith there is and leaving people undermined in respect to God and the Bible.
Now, my dear friends, I do not know how many more of you who are here present could give your time to colporteur work without interfering with their just obligations to aged parents or obligations to wife or to children, but don't think for a moment that you have to provide for parents who are well-to-do. Not at all. Don't think you need to lay up a good bank account for the time of trouble to burst. We are not to do things from the worldly standpoint. We are to take God's standpoint. You do owe something to your children. If a man care not for his own he denies the spirit of God, he denies the faith. He misrepresents the faith, because God wishes His people to make reasonable provision for those depending upon him. We must not neglect any duty. But don't make any mistake. "Well, father and mother don't [CR312] need me, but you know they won't consent to me going out." "If you were going to get married to a man or a woman, would not they consent to your leaving home?" "Oh, they would have to." "Well, you are engaged to the Lord. I think just as much of the Lord as I would of an earthly lover (and if we don't think more of the Lord than we do of wife, husband, parents or children we are not worthy of Him. He says if we are ashamed of Him He will be ashamed of us and would not wish to have us in that Bride class)." So if any of you are not in the work and can arrange your affairs and get into it, by all means do so. You may say, I could get on all right only I have a nice little business and it is doing first rate. Oh, well, it will hatch our eggs for the time of trouble, too, and there may be snakes in those eggs. The right way is Seek ye first (chiefly) the Kingdom of God and a place in that Kingdom, seek this first and all these other things God is able to take care of. He has done so in the past. Look back to the Apostles, how faithful they were. St. Paul did not say, "If I do so and so I will lose my share in the home and the Jews won't have anything to do with me. I will lose all my opportunities of making a fortune and being a great man." He said, "If by any means I might gain Christ--a membership in the Body of Christ-- if by any means I can do this, I will count it cheap." And so with us. If you could not get full price for your business, take less than full price. Show the Lord that you are willing to sacrifice something, that you want to serve. Don't merely say, "What shall I render," and then when the Lord shows what you can render, "I am merely saying it. I have no intention of rendering anything." If that is really your mind the Lord will know it. But if you find it out, just say, "Old man, I am going to get the better of you. I am going to put off all that spirit of the flesh and I am going to get right into that place where I can be used of the Lord." That's the best we have to suggest to everybody--colporteur work. It is a grand opportunity.
I was talking to one of the brothers here who is a colporteur. He went through some such experience--sold his business, and is giving all his time to the work. He said to me, "I was wondering if you would advise me to go further afield." I asked if he were not doing well in Glasgow and he said, "I am doing very well in the city, but I thought merely I could do something outside that might be more difficult and leave Glasgow to others." Do you see the spirit? That's the spirit the Lord wants. I did not tell him to go further afield. I think he should stay right there until the Lord shows that there is a particular reason for going outside. For instance, if those who can give an hour, or a half day, or a half of each day (some have household duties and other matters to attend to), if they can take up all the Glasgow territory then I would advise that he leave that territory to them and go further afield. The Lord is able to care for us and to protect our way and use us in any part. What He wants is this loyalty of heart, this zeal for the Lord's house. Zeal for the Lord's people. We are the house, a living house, the house of the Lord which is the Church. The Zeal for the Lord's house "has eaten us up"--zeal for those in Babylon who need it or else they will starve; zeal of service to the Lord in His work.
Now, we will leave the colporteurs. There are other departments. The Volunteer work. Every one of His people can do something. There is not a single one of God's people who has hands and feet and eyes and mouth that cannot do something. Now, the volunteer work. Those who have not the time, who need to pay attention to their business and cannot give their time to the colporteur work, they can see what they can do in the whole Church by way of cultivating acquaintance with their neighbors, circulating tracts or papers or whatnot, or by doing volunteer work, and all these things that the Lord gives us to do will make us have more or less of a "bad odor" to the world. That is what the Lord pictured in the Tabernacle. The bullock was taken outside the camp and burned. What sort of a smell of burning hair, hoof, entrails, etc., would there be? What kind of a smell? I fancy all the Israelites looking over in that direction holding their noses. A stench in the nostrils of the world. And then the Apostle says, "Let us go to Him outside the camp bearing His reproach." What's the reproach? Why, of being a bad odor to mankind. We would not be a bad odor to the Lord in being colporteurs. Not a bit. It is a very good odor with the Lord and the angels. I fancy the angels will be saying, "Wish we had such opportunities." I fancy the Lord looking down at His brethren and noting their faithfulness and saying, "They shall be mine." But from the world's standpoint they say, "What are you doing?" "Oh, I am colporteuring." "You mean you are peddling books?" "That's what I mean." "I don't want any relative of mine to go round saying he is peddling books." It is not peddling books. They merely use that expression, the Lord allows them to say something very mean that will tear you in the heart and give you a jag, but the old goat needs to have some trouble, doesn't he? The more dead the goat gets the less he will feel these things. Get more dead. "Oh!" you may say "when they said that it did hurt me." You were not entirely dead. Well, just take it to the Lord and say you want to be entirely dead to the world's opinion and still more keenly alive to His favor, His smile, and by the time you have done this there will merely be the mark of the hurt left.
Paul said, "I bear about in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." What did he mean? This. In olden times they used to brand their names on their possessions. A man of the name of Paul would put a "P" on his goods. It would not be very pleasant to be branded thus. (They did the same to their slaves. That was the trade mark on the slave.) The Apostle says, "I thank God I am the slave of the Lord Jesus Christ and he has put some marks on this slave." What did he mean? He had suffered stripes. He bore the marks he had received because he belonged to the Lord Jesus, and he was glorying in his infirmities, in his tribulations, and glorying in the things he had been permitted to endure. He said, "I will not boast of myself or anything I have done, but I will boast that I have become a servant of Christ and that I bear the marks of the Lord Jesus Christ." And so, if you and I are trying to get there more and more, to glory in tribulations, also knowing that tribulations work patience and patience works experience, and experience more hope, and hope makes us not ashamed--not ashamed!--to get more gracious as we go on becoming better soldiers of the cross every step we take, that's the thought. Well, now, it is the same way with the volunteer matter. I am not sure whether I told you this before but I will tell you now.
In Washington City one time--you know in Washington City there is a brother, a General, Gen. Hall. In this city one day, one of the brothers said, "Bro. Russell, I wish you would speak to Bro. Hall. We think he is doing very wrong. We chose him to be the Captain of the Volunteer Department and that gave him the assignment of territory where the work should be done and to our surprise he chose for himself the district in which he lives and that is the wealthy district, where all the people are well-to-do, and when he goes round the soldiers will be saluting him, saluting him, saluting him, and all the time he is putting the tracts under the door, acknowledging the salutes, putting another tract in, saluting, so on, and we don't think the General is doing just the right thing." "Oh!" I said "I think General Hall is exhibiting most wonderful courage (I did not say a word to the General himself --oh, dear, I quite forgot he was in the hall here--loud laughter--well, it cannot be helped.) I said, "I think General Hall is exhibiting most wonderful courage. I don't believe it took as much courage as that to stand before the Philippinos in the Philippine war. I think he is covering himself with glory." And, as I thought over the matter, I said to myself, I hope I would have had just as much courage as Gen. Hall. I am not sure I would have, but I hope I would have it. If I had not it at first I would try to screw it up.
So we have a Captain and he is the great General, the Captain of the soldiers of the Cross. He has gone before. He was faithful himself. He endured much for us and he expects us to show some appreciation and show some loyalty and some willingness to endure hardness as good soldiers of the Cross in any service we give. Here, then, is a service. If you have not engaged in the volunteer work, by all means begin to. It is a great favor. If you ever get into the Kingdom and look back and see that you had an opportunity of engaging in volunteer work and you missed it and that there was a little bit of pride, I think you will feel very much ashamed in the presence of the Lord and the others, and I feel sure that you would not get as high a place in the Lord's favor as you would have done if you had shown the loyalty he expected. You remember he tells us through the Apostle that as star differeth from star in glory, so also is the resurrection of the dead. The resurrection of the Church class will bring some to one degree on the Heavenly plane and [CR313] some to another. Jesus, the most faithful of all, will be the most honored and the greatest light. I think St. Paul will be amongst the very bright ones and St. Peter, and if any of us get in at all we will be glad to be in any place, but if we put our light under a bushel, if we are ashamed to let our light be seen, it means we are ashamed of the light, and Jesus classes the light and Himself together. "I am the Light." It is His spirit in us that constitutes us the light of the world. He says, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven."
I think of another brother in Washington City. He keeps a grocery store. He has a large family. I think he has fourteen grocery stores. I don't know why he does such a big business. I never asked him why he has such a big business. He is very loyal to the Truth in the sense of being very willing to serve it. He was out with Volunteer literature, distributing near an Episcopalian Church and a gentleman he knew came down the steps of the Church and saw this brother. He said, "Why, I know that man. He has a number of stores. He is not doing this because somebody pays him. He must believe what is in these papers. He must believe it pretty well down in his shoes. If I had got this paper from some boy I might have thrown it in the gutter, but I got it from a man who has apparently got a conviction, and his doing so is a sermon in itself, much better than the one I have heard in the church." He went round to that brother's store and said, "Have you anything more to read like that." He gave him the "Studies in the Scriptures." Now he is in the Truth and he is out with the Volunteer matter. He is a man with a big business, one of the chief men in a Washington bank. Keeps up a good position. His father is a missionary in a foreign land and this brother was born there himself. His father won't have anything to do with the Truth, but the son has found the difference.
Well, dear friends, here are these various opportunities for going into the Harvest Work, and one of the most interesting features of all is that there is only a little while left and if you want to get your sickle in at all get it in quickly and pray the Lord of the Harvest that you may be one of those who get something to do. Everyone can do something. If you cannot go out with volunteer matter you can at least speak to your neighbor over the fence as you hang out the clothes you have just washed, or you can speak to your fellow workmen. That's how I would pray God. I would pray God to do something to me to know how to present the Word to them. God will give me wisdom to know how to present His Truth--make me a channel of mercy to some one, that my face and my manner and my language may show and everything might tell; that I might render unto the Lord the very best I should be able to do. In going out with this thought every morning I believe it is a great help to you and that we do find opportunities, and God is pleased to give opportunities, and there are people right in your workshop that are hungering. They may swear sometimes, and may not seem to be religious at all and yet deep down in their hearts they may have a hungering for righteousness, people who have become disgusted with religion and have said, "There is not any religion."
One lady said to me, "Pastor Russell, I wish you would pray for me." I looked at her in surprise. It is very rarely a person not in the Truth asks, "Pray for me." "I ask that you pray that I may be able to appreciate this Truth that you are teaching." A most wonderful request! The only one I have had of its kind. I asked why she made it. Her sister, she said, was in the Truth. It had made such a difference in her life and I know now there must be something in religion. I doubted it before. Our family are Catholic, and we got out of Catholicism and got into Christian Science, and out of Christian Science into New Thought, and then Theosophy, and then we became Agnostics, and now we do not believe anything. All our friends are in the same condition and this sister of mine got into communication with some of your people here and got to read and study, and you cannot imagine what a change came into her life. Now, I know there is a power in religion and I would like to have that power myself. I would like to get into relationship with God." It was the life of that sister that told. She probably did not say very much. She had only been in the Truth a little while herself, but she was living, showing by her actions that she was fully consecrated to the Lord, so you and I want to let our light shine. The Harvest work is here and there is plenty to do, and so with all the brethren, if you are here from some city or town, as you go home carry the message along. Have the same thought in your own heart and let it overflow to others and you will find they also will want to see that they have a privilege and want to use it and enjoy it. You can assure them of this, that no other people in the world are so happy as those who have given themselves to the Lord. Others may be seeking pleasure but the ones who have happiness are those who are the Lord's and to whom the Lord has vouchsafed the consolation that they are His, and being children and heirs are appreciative of the privilege and are doing all they can to glorify their Father and their Saviour and to do good unto their brethren--not only those in the Truth, but those outside in Babylon and all men everywhere.
DEAR BROTHERS AND SISTERS, I have greatly enjoyed this convention. It has become almost a proverb with us at the different conventions that each one seems to be a little better than any other previous one, and it has been so this year. We have had three conventions in America this year; one at Pertle Springs, about the middle of the country; one at Toronto, specially arranged for the convenience of the Canadian friends and the American friends nearer the border, and another at Washington City, and in all three of these conventions it was believed that each one was the best. Now, here we have the same experience in Glasgow, and I would not be surprised to hear still later on that the London one was the best. I have tried to explain to myself this phenomena, and the only explanation I find is that the Lord's people are gradually becoming more and more filled with the Holy Spirit, and in proportion as that is true, undoubtedly it must be the case that we will appreciate the truth and appreciate all the children of the truth more and more as the days go by and as these meetings go on. So we are glad that this convention has been a very blessed one of the Lord, and I was thinking, as our dear brother was speaking in conclusion of how we had fellowship with the Father and with the Son and with each other, that He left out the Holy Spirit. We not only have had the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, but the Scriptures give us, I think, the keynote to all of our fellowship along that very line, for by one spirit we were all immersed into the one body, and that is the reason we have the fellowship. If we were not immersed into the one body we could not have such fellowship and co-operation as fellow members of the same body, only by receiving of His spirit do we have this fellowship in the body of Christ. If we should be in the body of Christ, a member of the body, and with a small measure of the spirit, we would be as a babe that did not grow, and if we did not grow in spirit, if the spirit of the Lord was not more and more filling us, we would not have more and more of this fellowship, but because we are being filled with the spirit, because we are being expanded as we are being filled and enlarged, our hearts are therefore filled more and more. "Be ye filled with the spirit." This is true of our fellowship with the Lord, as well as with each other, and whatever helps us to be drinking in of this spirit of Christ and to be thus filled with the spirit of Christ, is something that is helping us onward in the good way, and preparing us for the eternal [CR314] joy and glory, and whatever hinders us in this development and in this appreciation of the Holy Spirit, the spirit of holiness, the spirit of truth, the spirit of a sound mind, the spirit of loyalty to God, the spirit of brotherhood, whatever would hinder this would hinder us from our proper progress and growth and development as members of the body of Christ, which is the Church. So, then, the reason we have enjoyed this convention is that we were all immersed by the one spirit into the one body and we are being filled more and more; we are eating of the truth, we are drinking of the water of refreshment from the Lord, we are being sanctified through these instrumentalities, and all of our fellowship, therefore, inspires us, encourages us,--it has all been encouraging us along this same line of being filled with the spirit. Now, to what extent do you notice this? It seems to me that there may be a danger of our not noticing our own growth. We do notice our own imperfection if we are properly minded; we see the defects more and more clearly as the days go by. We see this imperfection and that imperfection. We had them before, but we did not notice them, but as we are filled with the spirit, all the weaknesses of the flesh begin to be more and more manifest. Just the same if you had a vessel and it had a crack in it, you looked into it and you said it looked as though it would hold water, but as you keep filling it the more the water will come out of the crack and the crack will become more manifest. So with your earthen vessel, as it is being filled with the spirit, as the spirit goes in and you are filled with the spirit, you find these cracks all the more prominent. They discover themselves to you; your human vessel has more cracks, more imperfections, than you were aware of before. All the same, dear friends, it is because you are being more filled with the spirit and you have something then in which you may rejoice; even the ability to see your own imperfection is blessed of the Lord by His providence, and even though we may never get these earthen vessels into any condition satisfactory to us, we are rejoicing at the thought that the general convention is coming and then we will all have new bodies and have the spirit filling these new bodies; everything will be perfection, not a thing to be desired more. We shall know as we are known; we shall see as we are seen. All that we have ever desired will then be accomplished, and our warfare will be over. No flesh to war against, no foe to have any power to hurt us in that sense of the word, for we shall be like our Lord and sharer in His glory. We will have passed from all the warfare into the glorious condition, and so we express it sometimes that now is the time for the church militant, the church at war; by and by is the time for the church at rest, the church at peace with itself, the church at peace with the Father and with the Lord, and finally the church in power and glory spreading forth and showering down the blessings upon all the families of the earth. When we think about the church militant we remember that they are still training, and while remembering that we must fight, and that it will be a good fight, we must remember that this fight is not fighting the brethren. No; and it is not exactly fighting the devil, because you are not able, so you had better leave off and save your energy for something you can touch, for you cannot injure him. We will not attempt to fight the spiritual powers, we are not able; the Lord will deal with them in due time. Meantime, if we abide under the shadow of the Almighty and under the protecting care that He has arranged for us, we shall be saved and the wicked one toucheth us not. O, we want to be in that close relationship to the Lord that the wicked one cannot even get his hands on us. He may shoot out arrows, even bitter words that may hurt your flesh, but they cannot do you harm, the new creatures cannot be injured by anything Satan will do to you so long as the new creature is abiding in the Lord and full of faith and trust in Him. I do not understand the principle and I do not know if anybody else understands it, but there is some principle at work, I believe, that in my own mind I have associated it in this way with this thought, that is, that there is a power surrounding every individual. Suppose, now, here we have two men, we will say, the one an evildoer and the other a child of God, the one a worldly person and taking an interest in evil things; the other a child of God seeking to lay down his life for the brethren. In the case of the evildoer Satan would not be specially interested in doing him harm, he would want to be his agent, and he would not need any special protection from the Lord. By and by he might be in very close contact with Satan that he could not be hurt more than he is already hurt,--as we sometimes say, "It is hard to spoil a bad egg," but in the case of the child of God having become a new creature, he would be the very prey of the adversary, and we can well imagine if there was not some protecting power of God thrown round every one who has become a disciple of Christ, the adversary would break through and destroy him. That is my imagination of the subject and I think certain Scriptures would seem to support that thought: God's people seem to be immune from this power of the adversary, the wicked one is not even able to touch them if they abide in this proper relationship to the Lord, because there is some power by which God seems to encircle His holy people, some power that we cannot describe, and that we cannot even understand. It is described in different ways in the Bible, as, for instance, we read, "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him and delivereth them." We do not quite understand what that term means. Again we read that the angels are all ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those that shall be heirs of salvation. But while we remember that our Heavenly Father can use all sorts of things for His angels, His ministering spirits, such as the lightning, the air--any power as the channel, as the protecting influence or power for the protection of His people, we do not know whether these are the living angels who have a protecting care over us or certain powers that we can not perhaps understand that would make us immune from any attack from an evil source. I fancy that this protection may be often more complete or less complete, as, for instance, suppose it were an electrical power that surrounded me for three yards when I was in very close fellowship with the Lord, and suppose that if I should become more or less overcharged with the cares of this life so that this influence might become less and less and come down within, say, 12 inches or 6 inches, or be merely a covering protection, finally, as I would become gradually absorbed in worldly things, and if I then should chance through the weakness of the flesh to do or say something wrong, contrary to the divine will, then the adversary would get a power over me, he would touch me, he would inflict some injury upon me. My thought is, when God's people are living most closely to Him in their hearts, in their mind, then they have this protection most complete and the wicked one has no opportunity of touching them, and he is likely to leave them for a while. Look at our Lord Jesus, for instance, in the wilderness, the adversary came to him at a time when he was weak according to the flesh, having fasted for forty days, and suggested co-operating with him, that they might be partners in the great work of blessing mankind. In all this there was a temptation to the Master in His very weakest moments, yet when Jesus was firm to the truth, what protection there was! The adversary found he could not touch Him, weak as He was. From the beginning of His ministry it seems that the adversary found it was no use trying. Again, we never hear of any temptation that Jesus had but that the adversary had forsaken Him without making any impression on Him. So I believe you and I should be. As we are very firm to the truth, in proportion as we answer Yes or No promptly in any matter, in that proportion we are used to specially discourage the adversary and in that proportion we are stronger ourselves by reason of exercising our resolutions on any subject. Indeed the thought is that the human will is a power that we cannot fully comprehend. It is something wonderful, and the more I think of it, the more I am amazed at what the poor human mind can do. The proper position for every Christian to take would be in being very positive: "I have taken my stand for the Lord. I have given up my life. I have laid aside my own will and I have taken the will of
my Master, and I am going to follow in His footsteps." The more positiveness you can put into it, the more successful you will be in fighting the good fight against all the attacks of the adversary. Dear brethren and sisters, as we shall say farewell this afternoon, we want to carry with us some thoughts respecting how we can be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might; how we can be helpful to others; how we can more and more show forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. I believe that these conventions are very useful in this way, and I believe we have all profited by this convention, and feel more resolved than ever that by God's grace we will stand firmly for Him. And after we have had these privileges [CR315] and blessings, would it be strange that we should be tested along this line? O, you say, brother, I hope that my coming here is not going to bring me any extra tests. Well, now, my dear brother, I do not know about that; it may bring you some extra tests; you may have some extra temptations. Then I am sorry that I came if I am going to have some extra trials. No, not at all, you must have these trials or you will never be an overcomer. I think of one dear brother who said to me: "Brother Russell, at the beginning of this year I was thinking over what I would specially ask the Lord for and what I would specially try to cultivate through the year, and as I looked over my character I thought that what I most needed of all the gifts and graces of the spirit was patience; I was too much inclined to be impatient with everything. Lord, this is the great thing I need, and the apostle's word came to me, "Ye have need of patience, etc." I prayed the Lord for patience, and I kept on praying, and I am still praying for patience, because I believe it is the thing I so much need. And I began to notice to my astonishment that I seemed to be more impatient than ever; I seemed to have more trials than ever, and I was very much perplexed. How is it that just at the very time I am praying for patience I seem to have a greater tax on my patience than before; what does it all mean? And I just began to think that that is how God has answered my prayer; I was praying for patience and the Lord could not give me patience, except by giving me trials to develop my patience. God was giving me trials and I was having to get the patience, and so I believe I was getting stronger. It was just the very thing I was praying for." We are praying for these graces of the spirit, meekness, gentleness, patience, longsuffering, etc. We come together at these conventions and seek to stir one anothers pure minds by way of remembering the glorious things God has in reservation and the necessity for having these qualities and graces of the spirit, and then we go home not to sit down--no; we have been putting on some armor, and when we put on armor, what is it for? Why, to fight. A man does not put on armor to go to bed in; he puts on armor to fight with. You are here putting on the whole armor of God, seeking to be in a good condition to fight a good fight. Then, when you get home you are going to have a chance to fight; not to fight the brethren, that is the wrong way. You are not to fight your family; that is the wrong way. You are not to fight against the Lord and His providences. That is the wrong way. You are to be kind and gentle and affectionate toward the family of God and your own family. We are to be kindly affectionate one toward another, forgiving one another if any man have a grievance against another being of a forgiving and kind disposition. Who am I going to fight? Am I to go out in the streets and fight the world? The world is blind and deaf and they are weak through the fall. Who shall I fight? O, you have got to fight inside, fight the old nature, fight a good fight against your impatience, against your lack of gentleness, rudeness, perhaps. Perhaps it is natural for you to be rude, then gentleness makes it quite a fight to get on properly, to keep the old nature of rudeness down. And the Lord says these are the qualities of His Holy Spirit that He wishes you to cultivate and if you have got the armor on, you are strengthened and you see some of the beauties that God wishes you to put into your character that you may be ready for the kingdom. But suppose I never cultivated these gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, what then? Well, if you do not cultivate them, and if you do not fight down the old nature, I am not sure that you will be ready for the kingdom. Does not the apostle Peter give that suggestion, after telling about these various things we should add to and we should strengthen ourselves in this way, he says, "If these things be in you, etc....But he that does not see these things is blind," says the apostle, "and cannot see afar off." He has forgotten what God has already done for Him, he is not striving to make his calling and election sure, and he will not get into the kingdom. It is by much tribulation, by much striving that you will ever get yourself into heaven. I thank the Lord He does the polishing, but it is His spirit that is working in you to will and it is His spirit working in you to do. It is His work all the same and His work is being done in you. You have to do the work yourself, but he is influencing you to do this and thus you become an overcomer. He is working in us, but He is using us to do the work; He influences us to do His work by the exceeding great and precious promises. It is these things working in us that will develop the character that He is pleased with and that He is pleased to reward with a share in the kingdom. What, then, will be the result to you of this convention? Will it be a blessing? I trust so by the grace of God! If it will be a blessing, it will be because you have some such thoughts as these in your mind and because you make some such application of the blessings enjoyed here. But if you lay aside this armor as soon as this convention is ended and do not do any fighting, then it will have profited you comparatively little, it will have been like a song or a pleasing tale; that is, all the good it will be. We are in earnest because we have something to seek. The Lord has promised you and me the most wonderful thing that could be imagined by the human mind, nothing short of it. There is nothing else like the prize of the high calling in all the universe of God. There never has been such a proposition as this that God has been making during this Gospel Age, and that He is still holding out to you and to me. Instead of being children of Adam and under sentence of death, we are lifted up to that condition and made sons of God, and "if children, then heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord to all that inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, etc....ready to be revealed in the last time." We see this ready to be revealed and everything about us shows us that we are getting nearer and nearer every day. Here we are, dear brethren and sisters; how are we going to receive it? What effect is it going to have upon us? O, I tell you I want to get that prize. I want you to get that prize. I want all God's consecrated people to get it. I believe God wants me to be most anxious for myself. He called me; He invited me. He says, My invitation is to you. I also gave an invitation to others, but if you neglect my invitation and spurn that invitation, you are not pleasing to Me. You remember in the end of the Jewish Age the Lord gave a parable about the great feast that He had made, and how that many were bidden and how they made light of it, they did not take it seriously. They said, I guess it is nothing much. I have got some farm work; another said, I have married a wife, and I cannot come. And so they had one excuse or another and the majority did not go, and the king was angry. Why should He be angry. He is angry, offended with them, not angry that He would send them to hell and tell the devil to roast them; He was angry in the sense of being offended. Here I have made all this feast and I called you my friends, and invited you to come. It was a great honor that the king should invite you to come and here now you make light of it in the sense that you do not care to respond, and come after everything was ready: the King was offended. Now, my dear friends, if, after having all these privileges, I did not get ready and go myself, the King would be offended with me; I would not have this favor. He wants me to attend to myself first. He wants you to attend to yourself first. Help the others all you can, but make your own calling and election sure. Give urgent heed to yourself primarily. That is the Lord's will that seems to stand out in all the texts of Scripture. Let that be the thought in our mind, and let us be more earnest than ever. There is a great election; God has made an election, you are nominated and I am nominated. We thank God for this. Now, about the election! O, it is not like the election that is in the world. We are not running against each other, and if one gets it the other loses it. O, no! This is an election in which every one who is nominated may get the election if he conforms to the rules and regulations laid down. God will determine we are worthy of a place if we show the quality of heart and mind, this zeal for Him and His truth and for the brethren. I am gathering all the jewel class. I call these jewels because they are so different from the world; they have the spirit of My Son Jesus. You and I want to make our calling and election sure to be amongst those jewels. Well, Brother Russell, suppose that your next door neighbor would be offended at you. What is that! Your next door neighbor. Who is he? Brother Russell, it might cost me a shilling or two in my business. Suppose it took away all my business. Bah! What is your business, and what is it worth? Well, my dear friends, when we begin to think about the wonderful thing that God has given us, is proposing to give us, is anxious to give to us, and when we think of what it is worth, suppose you had the greatest business on this earth, suppose you were the richest man or woman in the whole world, and suppose it took every shilling and penny [CR316] that you had, and suppose you were to starve to death, would not that be the cheapest thing you ever knew of, to get the crown of glory and joint-heirship if it cost everything you had? It is not likely to cost you much; you have not got much to lose. Dear brethren, we want to get the proper proportion before our mind that all the things of earth, the good opinion of all our friends and neighbors in the whole world, if we had them all and did not have the Lord's good opinion, the Lord's favor, how poor we would be! If we have the Lord's favor and are rich towards God and have lost all earthly things, how rich we are! This is the way to compare it, as St. Paul says, "I count all things as loss and dross that I may win Christ and be found in Him a member of His body, that I might know Him and the power of His resurrection" to glory, honor and immortality, to be made conformable unto His death, His same kind of death, a death not for sin, but a doing of the Father's will as He did to the best of your ability,--if this is the way that you will have a share in His death, then you surely will share in His resurrection and you will be at the great Convention. We do not know, dear friends, if we will have another convention in Glasgow. I do not know why I have felt in connection with the different conventions, it might be a presentiment, but I have thought on each occasion as I have bade the friends good-bye, will I ever see these dear brethren and sisters again! I do not know anything to the contrary. I do not know whether I will ever be here again; I am not worrying about that so long as we are ready when the Lord comes it will not make a particle of difference and we can be quite content whatever lot we see since 'tis our God that leadeth us. And sometimes we sing "He kindly veils our eyes, and o'er each step of my onward way He makes new scenes to rise, etc." If He knows, all will be right. As I say, we may never meet again at a convention, we may never meet here, but will "we meet beyond the river, where the surges all are o'er?" I am hoping so, dear friends, hoping so, and it is for you to decide. Oh, Brother Russell, not for me to decide! It is for you to decide whether you will be in that great Convention or not, and I have to decide. The whole matter rests with you for yourself and with me for myself. It seems to me as the days grow fewer and fewer, in any event they cannot be very many, I see how precious are these days, and yet I say to myself in the language of the text I used the other day and asked you to remember, "What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits towards me?" I want to have that thought in my mind every morning as surely as the sun rises. I want to have that thought, "What shall I render, etc.," and then I want to have the remainder of the verse and to remember what it means, "I will take the cup of salvation," it is a glorious cup, and yet the taking of it means I will endure suffering, shame, whatever my Father shall pour, just as Jesus said when He came down to the close of His life, "The cup that my Father has poured shall I not drink it?" Surely I will! My Father has planned this matter and He is arranging the matter that things shall work out for my highest welfare, so whatever He may be pleased to send, I will be pleased, by His grace, to accept with praise and thanksgiving. May this be our spirit, the spirit of the Lord in us, as we are all baptized by one spirit into the one body, and as we feel this fellowship, may the spirit of Christ abound in us more and more and make us to rejoice in our privilege of drinking of His cup that we may also be counted worthy to share in His glory! Amen.
ON our convention programs this is Fellowship Day. The word "fellowship" appeals to us all. It represents "comradeship," to be one with another, and this fellowship in Christ means that all who are the Lord's people are fellows, are associates. They are not of different degree; they are all one in Christ Jesus. "One is your Master; all ye are brethren"--all ye are fellows, all ye are associates. It means more than this, because there is a way in which God Himself tells us that He brings us into fellowship with Himself through Christ. He makes us partakers of things that are far beyond our own nature. We are human and, therefore, our interests are properly considered to be earthly interests, but God has given us a very high call, a very great invitation, to leave the human nature and become associated with Himself on the Divine plane, and so St. Peter says, "God has given to us exceeding great and precious promises that by these we might become partakers of the Divine nature." There is an intimate fellowship then suggested, that we should be of the same nature as our God. When we come to think that no other creatures of God have ever been accepted to so high a state, so blessed a fellowship as this--to be made one with God our Father, we marvel. As the Apostle says, "Truly our fellowship is in the Father and with the Son." This is a very wonderful thought, dear friends, that our Great Creator should so humble Himself and so bless us as to give us such a wonderful privilege. Then this privilege is only extended to the Christ; no such privilege was ever extended to angels nor to cherubim nor seraphim. "Unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou are My son, this day have I begotten thee?" None. To none of the angels was such a message sent. It is peculiar to the Christ; peculiar to Jesus, in the first place, because He was the only begotten of the Father. He has overcome. He has fulfilled the conditions that were necessary to this high exaltation and He has ascended up on high and is now at the right hand of the Majesty of Heaven and He is ever to be on God's right hand. And next to Him comes His Church, the Church which is His Body. Here is the fellowship that is promised us in the future. We have not yet entered into that fellowship, we cannot enter into that until we shall be changed. When our resurrection change comes will come the glorious conditions when we shall see as we are seen and know as we are known and enter into all those things we now enjoy by faith. We will be the actual possessors then. All the trials and all the testings will be past and all the glories will have arrived.
This fellowship, dear brethren, that we speak of, we have as members of His Body. We saw last evening when considering the subject of baptism into His death, we saw how we were to be inducted into the Body of Christ by a full consecration of our heart, by becoming dead to the world, by dying to all earthly hopes and aims and ambitions. Then we come into membership of the family of Christ. Then we become Christ's fellows, His brethren as the Scriptures have represented the matter--"Behold I and the children which thou hast given Me." That is to say, "I and Thy children whom Thou hast given to Me." The Lord is speaking of the Church and He speaks of them as being His brethren. This again gives the thought of fellowship; the family, the Heavenly Father the head of the family, the Lord Jesus Christ the Head of the Church and the Church His associates and joint-heirs. One family, and just as the members of one family share in all the interests of the family in a particular sense in which others do not share, so all of us who have come into the family of God have a blessed relationship with the Father and Son that none other can possibly have. It belongs only to the Father. We may well suppose that there is a fellowship amongst the angels. They have a fellowship amongst themselves. Truly they do worship the family also, truly they reverence God and Christ, but there is not a fellowship in the same sense. They are not fellows at all. "Are they not all ministering spirits" or servants? Their spirit is that of service, servants of God, which of course is a very high and honorable station. We all rejoice to be servants of God to whatever extent we can, but there is this difference between these angelic sons of [CR317] God and the service they may render and these begotten sons of God of the Divine family. There is a closer oneness with the family. As Jesus said, "The Father and the Son will come in with us and sup with us and we may have fellowship with them," and this refers to what we enjoy in the present life and does not bear at all upon that coming joy and fullness of blessing which will be our portion when that which is perfect shall come and that which is in part shall have been done away.
Now there are certain conditions laid down in respect in this matter. Your degree of fellowship with the Lord and my degree of fellowship will depend upon certain things. It may be a closer or less close fellowship according to circumstances. No one has fellowship at all with the Lord unless he comes into covenant relationship with Him. We think it not improper to call attention again to the fact that there is only one way of getting into relationship with God, only one way, and that is by accepting His terms and coming into His family. We do, indeed, see other blessings held out for the world by and by, but they are not held out for the world now. We see, because God tells us so, that in the next age He has wonderful blessings of restitution for the human family, a doing away with the curse and a bringing in of all the blessings He has promised to man, but there is no way now to God, to these things, no one now can enter into these restitution blessings, nor into relationship and fellowship with God by believing these things. Anyone, indeed, may hear of restitution and have his mind greatly relieved if he had previously heard that God intended to eternally torture the human family. He might be greatly relieved and have a much more kindly and filial feeling towards the Heavenly Father as a result of hearing of His goodness and His great plan in arranging for the blessing of mankind, but he still could not come into relationship with Him. There is just one way of getting into this fellowship. This way of coming into fellowship is the way that Jesus marked out. Jesus was in fellowship with the Father. He did not come into fellowship, He was in fellowship. But He set us an example in His life that we should walk in His steps. You remember that being in fellowship with the Father He had the privilege of laying down His earthly life and accepting the great reward of the glory, honor and immortality of the Messianic work of the future--all this as a result of His being in fellowship with the Father at the beginning, for if he had not been in fellowship with the Father He could not have had the opportunity of doing it. Father Adam, for instance, after he fell by his disobedience, had no fellowship with God. Previously he had fellowship with God. He was under a covenant with God. God's arrangement was that he might live forever if he would continue to be obedient and that bond of agreement of doing the Father's will, having everlasting life, that covenant he broke by his disobedience; thus the relationship between God and Adam was broken. Adam, instead of being a son, became a sinner, and as a sinner he came under the prescribed penalty, he was already cut off from fellowship with God. So all of his race were born in this condition, cut off from fellowship. So the whole world are "strangers and aliens" from God. Why? Through their wicked works. What wicked works? The wicked works that Father Adam started and that you and I as children of Adam cannot hinder because we are born in iniquity. These wicked works have separated us from God as a race, and people who are still in that condition have no relationship with the Father, no fellowship with the people of God. They may mingle with the people of God, but they cannot be in fellowship. Why? Because all those who are in fellowship have been baptized with the one Spirit into the one body and they have the one hope of their calling, the one aim and purpose, the one hope. No other can enter into that fellowship. We can meet them, we can shake them by the hand and tell them we wish them well, glad to see them, but they cannot enter into the fellowship. It is a secret order, my dear friends, God's own great secret order, and there is only one way to enter that fellowship, a way God has provided through Christ, through faith and obedience. Some have said to us at times, "Oh well, you do indeed take a stronger view of the Christian life than I do and you indeed teach a higher standard of Christian living than I have hitherto and a higher one than I have ever heard of, but nevertheless I have a great deal of pleasure in coming to your meetings and I enjoy myself a great deal and I pray to God as well as you, and I call myself a Christian as well as you." "Well," I say, "brother, have you ever become a Christian in the sense of the cross, in the sense of entering into a covenant relationship with God?" "Oh, no," he says, "I don't wish to take it so deeply as that; I will talk a little of God and fully enjoy going to meetings and enjoy singing some of the hymns, but I don't wish to take it too seriously." "Well, my dear brother, you must take it seriously or not take it at all." "Oh," he says, "I have taken it and I am enjoying it as it is." "Oh, my brother, friend, you are not realizing where you stand. You have no relationship to God at all." "Oh, but He hears my prayers. I have much pleasure in coming to Him in prayer." "No, my friend, your prayers are never heard." "Never heard!" "No, no, never heard. Only one class of people have their prayers heard. God 'heareth not sinners.'" "Oh, but," he says, "I am not a sinner. You know I am not one of those who cheat and steal and swear." "No, no, but you are still a sinner unless your sins have been forgiven. You are either a sinner or not a sinner. If you are not, it is because God through Christ has forgiven your sins, and then if you are, this forgiveness you can only have by coming in the appointed way. There are not many ways of getting your sins forgiven --just one." "Well, is God not rather pleased to have me pray? Does He not really take pleasure in seeing me bow before Him? Am I not favoring Him?" "No, my dear friend, think it not so. God is too great for you to favor Him by bowing your knees." When we compare our own littleness with the greatness of our mighty God it seems to me we are little microbes in comparison--scarcely to be seen. You remember how the Prophet expresses it. We are like "the small dust of the balance." You know when we go into the grocer's shop he sometimes knocks the dust off the scoop before he weighs the article we are purchasing. But perhaps there is still a little dust left and he does not pay any attention to that dust; it is too small. So that is the picture the Psalmist gives, that we are so little that we are like the dust of the balance which is not taken count of in the weighing. And we might just draw the wrong thought. We might think that God would not notice us at all. No, the prophet is wishing to call our attention to what might really be the relationship of God to us if he chose to stand upon His dignity and look down upon our littleness and our imperfections. He might disdain us altogether. But not so; He has had compassion upon us. The Psalmist says, "What is man that Thou art mindful of him." Oh, man was not worth taking heed to. He was only a sinner and only so little anyway. But God has had compassion; He has provided a Saviour. God has made the way open, He is going to open it still wider, we see, by and by, but the way that is open just now is the only way by which you and I can come, the only way by which anybody can come unto the Father now. What is that way? Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No man cometh unto the Father but by Me." "Oh, well," says our friend, "I do believe in Jesus, you know. I believe that He was born and that He died. I believe He was good. I believe He was a great teacher." "Oh, my dear friend, the devils also believe it, do they not? What then is the favor you do God by believing? No favor to God. You want to get rid of the thought that in coming to worship on Sunday you do God a favor." No, all these blessings of fellowship in the body of Christ and all the privileges that come to the Church of Christ are of His bounty and not of our merit. They are really for our own advantage. Why should we meet together? That we might have spiritual fellowship. Why should we consider the Word of God? That we might grow in grace, grow in knowledge, grow in love, grow in preparation for the glorious things before us.
And then I have said to some, "You cannot come to God in prayer except you are a consecrated Christian." "Oh," they have said, "that seems strange. That is different from anything you have told us before." Well, my dear friends, perhaps we have all in the past made some mistakes. Perhaps we have not told people plainly enough, perhaps we did not see clearly ourselves what are the limits that God has placed. You see we got the thought that everybody was going to a place of torment and we naturally tried to break down all the barriers and make them as low as possible because we did not wish our friends to be eternally tortured. But we knew all the while we were making it different from what Jesus said. He said "If any man want to be My disciple, let him take up his cross and follow Me, [CR318] then as My disciple he will share My glory," but we said, "Oh, that would make it too narrow. We must not tell people about that narrow way. They would refuse to come and then we would not have anyone, and they might all go to Hell." We see our mistake was in not rightly reading the Word. They are all going to the Bible Hell--everybody --to sheol, hades, the tomb. All are going there but provision has been made for the redemption and recovery of all-- everyone--all Adam's children. We all see that and the time for this is all stated in the divine great plan and the full portion of time given so that Messiah's Kingdom may rule and bless and put down evil and raise up the poor race. Every provision is made and now, now there is a call to a special class and you and I as His followers have no right to change one jot or one tittle of the plan. If He makes the way narrow and you make it broad or I make it broad we are defeating the very mission that God intended His Word should fulfill. We are working against God. We are deceivers to that extent. It is not our privilege to make the way any wider than God has made it. It is our duty to make it just as He stated and to show what are the terms of this fellowship. There is only one way to get in and there is only one way to stay in and one proper course if we would make our calling and election sure.
One person to whom I mentioned this matter of not being permitted to pray, not having this fellowship, this privilege of drawing near to the Father was greatly astonished and said, "Oh, that thought has hurt me a great deal. It has stumbled me. I feel I have lost my faith." "Oh," I said, "it is better that I should lay the matter before you in the proper time than that by and by you should find out your mistake and say, 'Why did you not show me the narrowness of the way? I would then have been put on my guard and might have taken the narrow way!'" So I said, "Your prayers never go higher than your head. They may do you some good just as a man may partly hypnotize himself, but that is not God's way." You and I have the satisfaction of knowing the terms stipulated in God's Word. Why, you know people have had good feelings while doing the very worst of things and they have thought they were doing God's service. Religious people of the past persecuted one another in violation of every principle of love and justice and were happy in doing it. Was it from God that their happiness came or was it some misrepresentation that gave them their joy? Surely it was the latter and not of God. We are reminded of the case of Saul of Tarsus, who when persecuting the church thought he was doing God service. That does not mean he was doing it. It proves that a man can be deluded and think verily that he is doing God's service and have a great deal of joy in doing that which is really the very reverse of the service of God. And what Saul of Tarsus might do you and I might do, therefore it behooves you and me and all to take heed to our steps and to pray as the Scriptures express it--"Order my steps according to Thy Word," and if we are ordering our steps according to the Word, which is the only safe way, then we have the peace and joy that cometh from the Lord. We find the expression of His Word indorsed in our conduct and experience and indeed you know that the indorsements of the Lord's Word are those which we would not have thought of. For instance, He says, "If ye receive persecution for righteousness sake then happy are ye, or happy ye may be. You may well be happy." You see, the very reverse of what we had thought. We should have been inclined to say, "Oh, I would not have any persecution. I would have all joy and pleasure and no one to persecute me or do me harm." But, no, the Lord says, "If you are My children I will show you how great things you may suffer for My sake. I will show you the privilege of being My disciple. I will test your loyalty and every time that you realize that your loyalty is tested, every time you find yourself an overcomer under these tests, every time rejoice knowing that great is our reward in heaven for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
This friend, then, to whom I said he could not pray, was deluding himself. He thought he could get on without suffering for Christ and get into the kingdom by a side path. Not so. It is either in or out, in the fellowship or out. Either a member of the Body or not a member. It is either enter the straight or narrow gate or not; walk in the narrow way or not; suffer in the body of Christ or not suffer. You see we take our choice. Now is the time to choose, now is the time. It is important, therefore, to see the terms and conditions God has laid down.
I can perhaps give you an illustration proving what I have said respecting God not hearing any except those in covenant relationship with Him. Let me remind you that the Jews were in covenant relationship: they had entered into fellowship through the law covenant and through the sacrifices. True those sacrifices were only typical and their fellowship was not a complete fellowship and true their mediator was not a real mediator but only typical and their covenant was not the new covenant that is to be made with mankind but merely a typical one, but nevertheless it illustrates the principle. Now Israel, before they entered into that covenant relationship, did not enjoy the same privilege. In former times before that time if any one wished to go in prayer to God he had to offer a sacrifice, offer a sacrifice for himself, as for instance when Cain and Abel drew near to God they brought sacrifices and offered them, and God showed that He would not accept the sacrifice represented by the fruit of the earth but He would accept the sacrifice that represented a death, for He wished to foreshadow that the death of Christ was necessary. So when Abel brought the firstlings of his flock and offered these, God accepted that as a type of Christ, as the first lesson that a death was necessary before there could be any fellowship between God and the sinner. So it was subsequently when Abraham came to God. He offered a sacrifice then. He could have fellowship with God on the basis of that sacrifice. But when God took the whole nation of Israel to Himself He then made one sacrifice or one set of sacrifices through Moses by which that covenant was made operative and the whole nation came under that covenant and became God's people and He their God.
Then these sacrifices you remember were kept alive and revived year by year, always a fresh blotting out of sins every year for the whole nation, so that every Jew after that Atonement Day was privileged for a whole year to come to God in prayer, but if that sacrifice in the Day of Atonement was not offered he would not have the privilege of prayer. So the Jewish people today are not in a condition to pray to God because they have no sacrifice and they have rejected the anti-typical sacrifice, therefore they are without any means by which they can draw nigh to God and they will be in this condition until the great anti-typical Mediator shall take His power and be the anti-type of Moses, when the new covenant shall be inaugurated as the anti-type of the law, and then as the new Mediator he will take over Israel again and they will come into favor again with God and then they will have their eyes opened to recognize the real sin atonement, the better sacrifices, and then He will pour upon them the spirit of prayer and supplication. They have been unable to pray to God all this time. Their prayers could not ascend to God because they had been cut off from fellowship. They were cut off three and one-half years after the cross. They could not be cut off till then because God had the Jewish nation in a special relationship to Himself and promised that a certain period of time should be set apart to them--70 weeks of years, 490 years, and that 490 years did not expire until 3-½ years after the cross. You remember that 70th week was the one in which the prophet said that Messiah would be "cut off in the midst of the week and cause the oblation to cease," etc., so it was in the midst of that 70th week, 3-½ years before the end of their favor, that Jesus died and then they came to the end of that period that God had promised and then what? Then they were no longer specially favored and God was open then to make a covenant with anybody who might come to Christ. So the Gentiles got the opportunity then. The Gentiles previously had no opportunity. They were cut off. Their prayers, if they had prayed, would have availed nothing. They were strangers and foreigners from all the promises of God. They were under the sentence of death. But now came the time in Cornelius' day when the door was thrown open to the Gentiles and the Gentiles were to have the same privilege if they would accept Christ, the better sacrifice, and you remember Cornelius, we read of him, "Now Cornelius was a just man," a righteous man, a man who was honorable, just, upright. "And he feared (reverenced) God and he gave much alms." He was liberal to the poor; he was a fine character, and a Gentile--altogether outside the Jewish hope. God never accepted the Gentiles before that; then what kind of Gentile would He favor first? Why just the kind here. Cornelius was the very kind he would give the first favor to. So the angel came to Cornelius and said, "Cornelius, thy prayers and [CR319] thine alms have come up before the Lord." Did they not come up before that? No, they had not ever come up before that in the full sense though they had come up as a memorial before God. God merely looked at them. They were there, just the same as a servant would come into your presence and you would see him there and not recognize him, not deal with him at all, but allow him to come into your presence. So Cornelius' prayers and alms come up before God as a memorial. "Therefore send men to Joppa for one Simon Peter. He lodges with Simon the tanner. And when he shall come he will tell thee words which shall be for the saving of thyself and thy house." So you remember then by and by Cornelius' servant did bring word and St. Peter was wondering why God had sent him to preach to a Gentile. It seemed so strange, he had not supposed the message would ever be told to the Gentiles. Jesus had said, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles. I am only sent to the lost sheep of the House of Israel," and now then to be sent directly to Cornelius, to have a vision saying it was God's will he should go there, and to hear what the angel had said to Cornelius! St. Peter said, "I must preach Christ. I must tell this Gentile about Christ. He is a good man and apparently God has favored him." He did not know how much God had favored him but the Holy Spirit was sent upon Cornelius just as it had been upon the Jews. St. Peter was astonished and then he glorified God because he was not a narrow minded Jew although he had indeed thought that God intended to give all these special blessings to the Jews and had never imagined that God was going to allow Gentiles also to come in and be fellow heirs with the Jews in this gracious privilege of being members of the Body of Christ which is the church. He was astonished.
But now what I want you to notice is the kind of man God dealt with--a man who wanted to come near God, a man who was "feeling after God if haply he might find Him," a man who was living as righteous a life as he could. That's the kind God is always prepared to favor and so when the due time came Cornelius got the opportunity and his prayers and his alms availed though they were not received until he had heard of Christ and until he had believed that Christ died for his sins, until he had accepted Christ. When he accepted Christ and when he pledged himself to be a follower of Christ then he became a footstep follower in this relation of his mind: then Christ became his Advocate and he was accepted of the Father, the merit of Christ covered his imperfections: then his prayers and his alms might come up and not only be there but be received, because now he had come in the appointed way, because the great Advocate had included him amongst those for whom he made application of his merit.
The only other class, my dear friends, that are included in this favor would be our children, the children of believers. You remember what Paul says on that subject. He says, "the believing husband sanctifieth the unbelieving wife; the believing wife sanctifieth the unbelieving husband." What does this mean? From the divine standpoint the fact is that if either the husband or the wife are in Covenant relationship to God, so far as their children are concerned they are counted as being the children of the believer and are under divine care in a sense in which they would not be under divine care if they were the children of unbelievers. "Otherwise your children would be unholy." Unholy--out of God's favor, "but now are they holy" because one of the parents believes. God counts their children holy even though the children are born before the parent believed. That believer has given all to the Lord. That includes his children, his horses and cattle, everything he had--his money in the bank and the property he has, everything went. They all became the Lord's. The children became the Lord's in the same way as the property and the Lord's supervision was over the children as it is over all the interests of those who are His people.
I remember in my own case (I don't think I have ever mentioned to you here before), in my own case when I was about 15 years old, I reasoned the matter out one day and I said, "See here, you go to God in prayer, and you ask Him for certain things. By what right do you go to God? You are not a member of the church. God only has a dealing with the church. Is not that so?" and I said, "Yes, I guess it is so. I don't quite understand: apparently it is only the church." "Why then do you go to the Lord in prayer?" "Well," I said, "I presume I go to the Lord in prayer because my parents are Christians. I am their child and all they have belongs to the Lord. I suppose that is why the Lord allows me to come in prayer." "How long will this continue?" "I don't know; I suppose God will continue to be in that relationship up to the time that I reach a discernment of mind myself, till I have a personal responsibility." "Yes, that seems right." "And about how soon do you think you are going to have a personal responsibility?" "Well," I said, "I don't know. Thirty years of age under the law, but we are not under the law. I don't know. After I have a discerning mind that I can reason the matter out, I guess I shall have a responsibility from the time I am able to reason it out." "What are you going to do about it?" "Well," I said, "I would not like to be without a God. I need a God." "Well," you say you believe you have a parental standing and you don't know when it will run out, when you have come to the place of personal, intelligent responsibility." "Yes." "Don't you think you have come to that place now?" "Well, I think I have," I said, "I think I have." "What are you going to do about it?" I thought it out and I said, "Oh, God, I will give Thee my heart. I am so glad that You are willing to accept it. It is such a privilege for me to give Thee my heart. I need a God and I need all the blessings You have promised to Your people. Lord, let me be one of Thy people."
And I believe, dear friends, that was exactly the right thought, although I have come to understand the divine plan much better since my childhood's days, my mind is still the same on this subject. I see nothing in the Scriptures to the contrary.
This person whom I cited as not having any right to pray said, "Why, I feel so lonely now that I cannot go to God in prayer. I feel as if a great loss has come into my life," and I said, "It is good for you; I hope you have such a loss that you will want to trust God forever. Give all that you have and then realize that you have not been a profitable servant, that you have not brought Him anything great, but that you have only given Him the fag ends of a life. That's all you or I can give, so when we have given all we realize that the Father could not accept our sacrifice at all had it not been for the arrangement He made through Jesus, by which--the death of Jesus--the merit of His sacrifice can be imputed to us and thus make our little offering acceptable."
So then, dear friends, the first point in approaching God, in this fellowship, is to realize that the only way open for approaching God is through Christ, and to have a desire to approach God the Apostle gives us a suggestion along that line when he speaks about certain ones as "feeling after God if haply they might find Him." This desire of the heart must come first. You will not "feel" until you desire to "feel," and then you will begin knocking and searching. "To him that knocketh shall it be opened; him that seeketh shall find." So when you began to want to have fellowship with God and to realize that you were poor and lonely without any fellowship, then you began to pray and Jesus said, "Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." This weariness, this heavy laden condition of the heart, is all the result of sin and depravity in ourselves and those around us and the lonely feeling and the selfishness in ourselves and the selfishness we come in contact with outside, we despise. We would like to come "nearer my God to Thee," and if we just ask the Father He does not answer our prayers directly, but merely sends to us, perhaps a brother or a sister or a hymn or a text of Scripture or something that points us to the way just as the angel told Cornelius to send for Peter that he might be told the way. So God uses some other agency with you. Perhaps it is a hymn and in that hymn you find a verse which describes the way to present your body. Perhaps the testimony of a brother or perhaps a conversation or perhaps reading your Bible for yourself you found the way, you found the only way to approach God was through the new and living way which Christ had opened up. It is the way He opens up for us to come to the Father, to come to fellowship with Himself, to attain to all the glorious things He has in reservation. What is this way? The way of sacrifice. "Present your bodies," make your sacrifice. No other way. Sit down and count the cost, the Lord says. Don't do it hurriedly. Think it over. You must get very hungry for the Truth before you will appreciate it. You must see how lonely you are without a God before you see what a great privilege you [CR320] have in having a God. So don't do it hastily. Just do the very reverse of what the evangelists say. Sit down and count the cost. And if you count the cost, what do you find? Oh, you find that the cost is indeed great in one sense of the word, not to be slightingly thought of at all. All you have, everything, that's the cost. But how little you have, how little you have, and how much you are going to get in return. When you go to the store to purchase something you may say, "I have only a little money and I must count the cost. I have not much to invest," and you look round and you see this and that and something that is a great bargain and you invest in that. "Oh," you say, "it is all the money I have, but it was such a bargain." So, dear friends, we will never get another chance like the present of getting this great bargain of getting our Creator to be our Father and Jesus our Redeemer to be our Elder Brother and our Bridegroom and our Advocate with the Father, the one through whom we have forgiveness of sins and reconciliation through His blood and fellowship with the Father and with the Son, as the Apostle says. This was the thought in the mind of dear Brother Paul when writing to the Philippians (I will give you my text near the end, my dear friends!). The Apostle said, "Yea, doubtless I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." Mark you, my dear friends, just to know about it is so good, to know about it so good that it would be worth the loss of all things: just to have the knowledge of Christ Jesus. Well, that's very strong. Just the knowledge. How much blessing you have from the knowledge you have received, how much I have! Just suppose for a moment that instead of getting anything future suppose it was all going to end at death, we would have the best time in the world. The world would say, "Oh, you have not had a good time." Yes, my dear brethren, we have had that. We have had the peace of God and all the joy of the Holy Spirit.
Now if the Apostle considers this so great a matter, "Yea, doubtless I count all things but loss...for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and do count them but dung that I might win Christ and be found in Him," you see the knowledge was necessary, because without the knowledge he could not do anything. You cannot become a servant of the Lord without knowledge. Hence the necessity for preaching as the Apostle says. We cannot pray people into Heaven. We are authorized to go and tell them the terms. If they hear the terms they do not need us to pray for them. God Himself has made the whole arrangement: it is all planned already. It is like as if there were a table here spread with certain food and we were hungry. Suppose it were announced that everyone here who desired to have it could partake of the food. You would not need to say, "Please may my friend partake of it?" Why, go and tell your friend to come along. So God has prepared the feast and it is not for you and me to say, "Please may this one have this?" God would say, "I thought I told you it was for all who desired it. Send your friends along, don't stop to pray to Me."
The knowledge you see, then, is so valuable. If you had never heard of Christ, of the way, then you never would have been in Christ today. Thank God for the knowledge of these things, for the knowledge of the way to eternal life. Many others have been deceived and did not know about the "narrow way," did not know to take it. Thank God for knowledge in the matter, dear friends, that we may make "our calling and election sure."
Now the Apostle goes on to say "that I may be found in Him" (Phil. 3:8,9), a member of His Body, associated in the Body of Christ, of which Jesus is the Head. Was not the Apostle in Him already? Yes. There are two senses of being in Him. We are in Him now by faith and consecration and we hope to be in Him beyond the vail in glory. We hope to be counted worthy to be members on the other side. He says if we are faithful we may be sure He will be faithful and if we are faithful then He will not blot our names out of the book: He will let them stay in, just as they were when we came in. When you said, "I am making a real consecration," He said, "Well, I will mark down your name in the Book of Life. You have made a good confession: go on now in the way and you will be a member in that glorious Body beyond the vail." But suppose you fail. Suppose you become worldly minded and lukewarm and fail to keep your covenant, then what? Oh, then you could not be of the Body, because all the Body are to be copies of God's dear Son, and if you were not zealous and earnest as He was, then your name would have to be erased and another one's name would be put there instead and so the whole list would be complete.
The Apostle says "that I might be found in Him, not having our own righteousness (which was of the Law) but that which is through faith in Christ." That is the righteousness we want, the imputed righteousness of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith, the righteousness which God imputes to us.
"That I may know Him." What does he mean by "knowing Him"? Did Paul not know Jesus? Did He not reveal Himself to him on the way to Damascus? Had he not seen Jesus in a more particular way than any other? What does it mean? It means this: The word here signifies an "intimate acquaintance" with Him. Now when Saul of Tarsus met Jesus on the way to Damascus and was smitten down with the brightness, he did not know Him. He had learned a little about how great this One was whom he had been persecuting. He learned that much about His greatness, but he did not get acquainted with Him. How do we get acquainted with the Lord? Oh, you know, there was a time that you did not know Him. You knew about Him, that He had done this and that and the next thing, but that was a knowledge of Him. There is a difference between having a knowledge of a person and being acquainted with him. "You know your King?" "Yes, I know King George. I know he is reigning." "Do you know him?" "Oh, yes, I know a good deal about him." "But do you know him?" "Oh, no, I never was introduced to him." "That's what I mean."
Those who come into fellowship with Christ, there is a fellowship established between them. This is "getting to know." And does this make any difference? Oh, yes, Jesus says it is a very difficult matter to get to know the Lord. Difficult matter? Oh, yes. He is so high and we are so low, it is difficult to get well acquainted. How do we get well acquainted? Why, as we grow in grace and as we grow in knowledge, in love, in the Heavenly Father's spirit, and the spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you get the thought? Every day that you live as a Christian you are getting into that place where it will be possible for you to enjoy more and more of fellowship with the Father and the Son until you finally come to have such a spiritual appreciation of God that you will really know Him, really know Him, not merely know about Him. He will come unto us and sup with us and will reveal Himself to us and show us His real character, and we will get to understand, we will have the spirit of our Father and our Lord Jesus. Oh, we will know God, whom to know is life eternal. Those who get into this fellowship will have the eternal life. Those who do not get to know Him, who do not come into this fellowship will not be in a position to have eternal life. That's right. That is what the Lord meant. Yes, indeed. And so you see the blessed experience which brings us nearer to God is making us ready for this eternal life and glory, honor and immortality.
Now the Apostle continues "that I might know Him and the power of His resurrection." What does He mean by the power of His resurrection? Any power in the resurrection of Jesus different from the resurrection of anybody else? Oh, yes, His was a special resurrection. In His resurrection He was changed from the earthly nature to the divine. Oh, the power that not only raised Him from the dead, but raised Him up far above all others, that's the power and resurrection the Apostle wanted to know, to experience also the power of that resurrection--not merely by and bye, but to have it now, to rise with Christ, walking with Him in newness of life, day by day, a new creature in Christ and thus to share with Him in that great glory.
"That I might know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering." Well, you see there is one kind of fellowship we have in our mental vision with the Lord, in our talking about holy things, considering the Word and then there's another, "in the suffering of Christ." What kind of fellowship is that? That's the fellowship that unless you have it you cannot get the other. If you managed to avoid all suffering it would mean that you were not living as you might. If you manage to avoid all shame for Christ's sake it will mean that you are guarding yourself very carefully to avoid that shame. It will [CR321] mean you are afraid of that shame, that anyone might say, "You also are one of them," as they said to Peter when he denied the Lord. "He that is ashamed of Me and My Word, saith the Lord, of him will I be ashamed." St. Peter got over that. He did not stay in that condition, but it was given as an illustration of what might happen to any of us. We might get into such a condition of terror that we might deny Him. If St. Peter had not got over it he never would have got into the Kingdom. He became such a faithful follower and endured so much for Christ afterwards. It is said of him that when he was crucified, by his own request, he was crucified head downwards, saying, "I am not worthy to be in such a glorious position as was my Lord." It showed how he wished to have fellowship in the Master's sufferings.
This is the way to get fellowship: whatever you can do which will be in the Lord's service, the service of the Truth, the service of the brethren, do it and you will be getting into fellowship with Him, not only in mind, but also in suffering, also in His spirit, and only by drinking into this spirit and getting fellowship with Him will you have the strength and fortitude to fight the good fight and be faithful and loyal in laying down your life, walking in His steps. Then to all such as are thus favored the Lord has provided a glorious fellowship beyond, that we should have part in the first resurrection and share in His glory.
Jesus Our Savior
DEAR friends, as the Scriptures inform us we are all by nature children of wrath condemned to death and in need of a Saviour. "Saviour" signifies "lifegiver." Jesus became flesh in order to be our Saviour--not our Saviour from eternal torment, but from death. He is the Saviour of all mankind. He died in order to remove the curse of death from the human race. This curse has not been removed yet from mankind, but it will be in due time.
At the present time, however, God has made an arrangement whereby some by faith can come out now from under this death sentence. He has been seeking during this Gospel Age a class who will share in the first resurrection from the dead, before the world of mankind. What class is this? A class of people who have faith towards Him. "Without faith it is impossible to please God, for he that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." This is the class and the only class that God is dealing with at the present time, those who have this faith towards Him and exercising this faith you may consider yourself as though you had already passed from death into life, and, indeed, we have this new life begun in us, but it is not complete and it will not be complete, as the Apostle declares, until our Great Heavenly Father, who has begotten us to the new life at the resurrection from the dead, shall bring us in that resurrection to the perfection of life everlasting. We are like the remainder of the world so far as outward appearance is concerned. We are still imperfect. God speaks of the things that are not yet as though they were already accomplished and so we speak of being alive in Christ. At the same time with the Apostle we say our lives are hid with Christ in God, and when He who is our life shall appear at His second coming then we also shall appear with Him in glory. Our appearing will be with Him; He must come and be our life-giver and as the agent of the Father He must raise us from the dead before we can have eternal life. Then, as the Apostle explains, that which was sown in weakness will be raised in power, raised in glory. That which was sown an animal body, a human body, an earthly body, will be raised a spiritual body --in the case of the Church, not of the world, only the Church. This is the Apostle's thought, making prominent the fact that Christ is the great life-giver and the more prominence we give to this matter the more do we come into touch and harmony with the Word of God and the Spirit of the truth. When we realize that we have no life of ourselves then we realize that we need this life-giver and if He had not come to be the life-giver, mankind would have been like the brute beasts in death. But because Jesus has died, therefore, we have the double assurance in that God raised Him from the dead that He will raise us up also by Jesus in His own due time.
From this standpoint, you know, it is that we speak of being asleep; falling asleep; all who have faith in the resurrection might be spoken of as falling asleep now, assured that there is a glorious awakening coming, and that will be the time the blessings will come--at the second advent of our Lord. "Even when we were dead in sin He hath quickened us together with Christ and hath raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus." The Apostle's thought is that God is no longer treating the Church as though they were dead in trespasses and sins and under Divine sentence, but we are passed from that by faith; we first are recognized as passing from death into life by exercising faith in the promises of God, and He deals with us according to our faith; in proportion as we have faith, in the same proportion may we have the joys of the Lord and enter into all the provision He has made for those who can and do exercise faith, for without faith it is impossible to please God.
We are free to admit that half the people in the world today have, by virtue of their condition through the fall, lost that particular quality of mind which would be favorable to faith, and that those people will have a great deal more difficulty than others in exercising faith, and that perhaps they could not exercise it at all. If they cannot, then they cannot come in under the call that is now open. But God has a time and a way for dealing with them, though now He is only calling those who have come under faith and exercised that faith, and in proportion as they exercise that faith, in that same proportion they grow strong in faith and become more and more pleasing to our Father.
We have been raised up so far as the new creature is concerned. The new creature is raised up and has a standing with God, and yet the new creature is obliged to occupy the earthen vessel, as we sometimes say. The Apostle says we have this treasure, the new nature in an earthen vessel, an imperfect fallen body. The new nature is raised, but the earthly body is not raised. It is going down more and more into death and so there is a warfare, the Apostle explains, between the flesh and the Spirit; in proportion as the one perishes and dies, the other may grow strong in the Lord and be prepared for the great change of the resurrection. He says here, you notice, that we are not only raised up with Christ, but seated with Him in the Holy, the heavenlies. What is the thought? It seems to be the picture that is given us in Tabernacle Shadows. In the Tabernacle Shadows the High Priest made His offering, His sacrifice of the bullock and then He passed under the first vail into the Holy, into the presence of the Golden Candlestick, and the light that it shed, into the presence of the Table of Shewbread and the blessings implied thereby, and into the presence of God as represented by the Golden Altar of Incense, where he offered incense. This is what came to Jesus when He made His consecration at Jordan and then passed immediately under the begetting of the Holy Spirit into this special condition as a new creature. The Apostle says we also are to pass into the heavenlies. We have already passed in--all who have been accepted in Christ Jesus, all who have received the begetting of the Holy Spirit. First of all, they must have tendered their consecration to the Lord; it must have been accepted and that acceptance would be indicated by the impartation of the Holy Spirit, and then they would pass under the vail into the Holy. We get the thought that the vail, the first vail, represents the death of the will [CR322] and the second vail represents the death of the person. Now when we pass the first vail it means that our lives are fully consecrated to the Lord, that we are dead, we have given up all our own will, we have become dead with Him, that we may become members of His body on the other side of the vail. Thus we enter into the Holy, into the heavenlies, into the first part of the Tabernacle which was called the Holy. We have not yet passed into the Most Holy; that will be when our death actually comes. Then, passing beyond the death actual, the resurrection will raise us upon the other side of the vail, according to the picture, and then we shall be in the presence of the Eternal God in the Most Holy.
We are represented in this condition by the Apostle as "seated with Christ in the heavenlies." That is a very beautiful picture. It is not that we are standing there as having no place of rest; it implies a restful condition. Those who come into Christ, they do enter into rest; as St. Paul says in the fourth chapter of his letter to the Hebrews, "We which believe do enter into rest." The faith in our hearts, the consecration and the obedience, with the begetting of the Holy Spirit usher us into this rest in the heavenlies, the Holy place. We are with Him; He is our elder brother and we have fellowship with Him. He is our Head, we are His members, the under Priests prospectively. We are to be the royal Priesthood if we are found faithful. We are, in a preparatory sense, the Royal Priesthood now, but everything depends upon the faithfulness with which we endure in the present time those trials and those tests of loyalty and faith which came to our Lord Jesus and which must come to all His followers if they would become His joint-heirs in the fellowship of the Kingdom.
Now comes a very important part, "That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us through Christ Jesus." Why, my dear friends, we might well say, "Has God any more riches of grace to give than He has already given? Have we not seen that He has given His Son? Has He not sent His Son into the world? Did He not willingly come to be the redeemer of man?" Yes, indeed, rich is the grace, truly so; provision for all mankind. As in Adam all have gone into death and condemnation, so all through Christ may come out of that condemnation and death. Is not that riches of grace? Yes, indeed, but that much of riches of grace belongs to all the world of mankind; that is not for us specially, that's for us inclusively. We are joined with the world in this general salvation, the redemption which Jesus purchased. But for the Church, (The Apostle is speaking to the Church), we have still further riches of grace. Yes! What? Oh, "the riches of God's grace wherein we stand," as the Apostle says in the 6th [5th] chapter of Romans. We have come into this grace wherein we stand. What grace? This is the grace that we have been accepted of the Father and begotten of the Holy Spirit and thus made children of God; we who were strangers and aliens and rebels at one time He has reconciled through the death of His Son and then given us this wonderful privilege above all the rest of the world and above all the world will ever have, this grace that we may become sons on that high plane, the Divine nature. And that's not enough, says the Apostle. God has more. Is it possible that the great Heavenly Father could do more for such poor creatures of the dust as ourselves who are so imperfect--not only human beings, but imperfect human beings, for the Apostle says the Church consists chiefly of the poor of this world, not the high and noble--the ignoble, and yet God has done so great things for us and He proposes to do all these great things in the future, making us joint-heirs with His Son in that glorious Kingdom to bless the whole world. Is not that riches of grace? Yes. Could you have thought of any more? No, no, we could not. What more then? What does the Apostle refer to when he says that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace. The thought, my dear friends, is that there are coming ages in which God will display still more grace toward the Church than in all these things that He has already given to us and promised to us, still further things, exceeding riches of His grace in ages to come. Wonderful! Oh, the length and breadth and the heights and depths of the love of God in Christ! No wonder the Apostle breaks out in these works! No wonder! I tell you he was getting a view of these lengths and breadths just as you and I are-- a little more every day. As we have fellowship with the Father and with the Son through meetings and prayer, and are thus more and more conformed to the image of God's dear Son, proportionately we get nearer our God and proportionately we can see more of these lengths and breadths and appreciate the love of God, which passes all understanding.
But how can God show any more favor to us? Brother Russell, can you think of anything that could be more? Why, here as we have already seen we are to be associated with Jesus and we are to have this same Divine nature. Now there is no higher thing than that to give us. No. Well, how could God show any more exceeding graces than that? And then the great privilege of reigning with Christ for a thousand years! You remember, he says, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne." Oh, Brother Russell, surely the Apostle made a mistake when he spoke of the exceeding riches of grace to be shown in future ages. How could there be any more? Well, we may be sure the Apostle was actuated by the Holy Spirit and did not overstate the matter and that there are still further manifestations of God's grace towards the Church.
Why, says one, He must love the Church very much. Oh, He does, He does love the Church very, very much and there is a reason. The reason is that He has made the way so narrow, so narrow, the terms so exact that only a certain class will care to go in that narrow way, only a very special class will follow on that way after starting and the Lord says that those who follow on through all the trials of the way, He says they are jewels, jewels, jewels. More than the angels, Lord? Yes, more than the angels. Why so? They cannot have at any time transgressed Thy Law, O Lord. Why are they not the jewels? Oh, my dear friends, we rejoice that the angels have thus shown their loyalty. We rejoice when we see in the Scriptures that there, have been certain tests to prove the angels in the past when at the time of the flood some of the angels kept not their first estate, that some of the angels did maintain their loyalty, and, therefore, we see that they did have some testings and that some of them proved their loyalty by abstaining from sin. But, my dear brethren, the tests that come upon the Church of Christ are still more severe than any test that ever came upon the angels, and because these, the faithful ones, will pass through these tests, therefore the Father will specially love and honor them and set them on High. Does He not give us, through the Apostle, the illustration that the most precious of metals on earth are tried or proved by fire, that their purity may be manifested, that all the dross may be eliminated, and then does He not tell us that the trial of your faith is in God's sight much more precious than that, although that is the highest test in the line of earthly things. How precious the test, then, in God's sight to see that as we have allurements from the flesh, the world and the adversary, that we crush them out of sight and that our hearts go out loyally to God, for the Divine approval! "I delight to do Thy will, oh my God." The words of the Saviour, of all His disciples, and we must all come to that point or we cannot be His disciples. And then this same class, this Jewel class, are continually saying not merely at the beginning of the way, but all the way along. "What shall I render unto the Lord my God for all His benefits towards me?" Yes, that's the class that are asking that, that the Lord is specially seeking, those that are seeking to know and do the Father's will, and by the way I will mention it here that I have found it very profitable to myself in addition to all the manna texts and all the other good texts, to have one text for every morning, as nearly as possible the first thing in my mind as I awake and see the daylight, and that that text will be just that one that I have spoken--"What shall I render unto the Lord my God for all His benefits towards me. I will take the cup of salvation" --I will accept the terms, I will receive whatever God the Father may have for me today. "Calling upon the name of the Lord"--not trusting in my own strength, but all in the name of the Lord. And I believe you will all find that a very helpful text. It is true we have all done this; we have all said, what shall I render, we have all agreed that the thing we shall render is our lives, but we die daily, so we must pledge ourselves daily. And the very earliest morning is the best time to have the thought in our mind, and I think the little practice that way is the thing which will help us. So every morning let us say "What shall I [CR323] render unto the Lord my God" then we begin to think about the blessings, the riches of His grace, then we go on to the things promised and then these exceeding promises that reach away beyond, they will all come streaming into our mind and we feel oh! so thankful to God. And we have this blessed influence at the very start of the day, and I can recommend it to you all as being a very helpful practice.
Well, I say that on account of such faithfulness as God is expecting in the members of the Church, He calls them jewels. What is a jewel? A jewel is a very clear, transparent precious stone that may be polished, that may be made to look very beautiful. Yes, that's true. There are many things, however, dear friends, that look very clear, very transparent and very beautiful. You know there are certain dishes that are set upon the table that look just as beautiful as a diamond or a ruby. They are very clear and very burnished in some respects. But the one is merely glass, or such like, and the other is a very substantial thing. The one is almost indestructible and the other is not. So you see it is not merely to have a certain kind of outward appearance; He is looking for those characters that are like jewels, that are firm, firm for righteousness, firm against sin, firm to know and do the will of God. That is what your Father seeks and in proportion as He is finding this in you, or if you are even interested in the formation of character, He is saying "Here's another of My jewels," and this formation of character sometimes is slow, day by day, week by week, month by month, the tests come in to determine whether or not you will be one of His jewels, whether you will stand the polishing, be loyal through it all, will not chip, will not show any cross grain of your own, will be fully submissive to His will, say of every trial, "The cup which my Father hath poured shall I not drink it?"
Well, my dear friends, can you wonder when you look at the matter from God's standpoint, the nature of those whom He calls to be saints, can you wonder that the Father loveth us (we read "The Father who loveth you"), not because of our character likeness, but because we have His Spirit, His Holy Spirit received into us and lived in and lived out; this is what is pleasing and acceptable in God's sight. It is not merely what you and I might do on the spur of the moment in the way of making a consecration, but it is living out that consecration day by day. It is easy enough to stand up and decide, but can we live it? It is easy enough when everything is easy and everyone round us is praising God, but when we are alone, compassed by the adversary, and by the flesh and the world, then how loyal are we? God is seeking for those who will be so loyal for Him that they are willing to lay down their lives in His service and the service of the brethren. And for these He has such wonderful blessings as we have already been considering, and then in the ages to come He will show through us more exceeding riches of His grace.
Now, we said how could there be anything more? We just remind you afresh, dear friends, of what we have already said, that God has approximately (according to what astronomers can tell us) a thousand millions of worlds. Think of that! One hundred and twenty-five millions of suns and an average of eighty planets to each sun would be one thousand million worlds, and if the principle applies as the Apostle suggests, that God formed not the earth in vain, but to be inhabited, if that said principle be applied to all these worlds we may well say that God formed them not in vain: He formed them to be inhabited, and now He has on this planet granted man an exhibition of His love, justice, wisdom and power in His dealing with man, and has made you and me His witnesses. We have been right in the midst of it; our eyes have discerned God's loving kindness and tender mercy and by the time He shall have finished His work in us He will be ready to use us in connection with all those other worlds. Must we not suppose that since Jesus our Lord has been the Divine agent in connection with every feature of creation, for without Him not one thing was made that was made, if that be so will He not still be the Father's agent in connection with these other worlds? Yes. And if we become the Bride, the Lamb's wife, as joint-heirs with our Lord Jesus Christ, will we not be associated with Him in all the glorious work? Surely we shall be, my dear brethren. Now we can begin to see what the Apostle meant when speaking of how God in ages to come will show still further riches of grace for the Church. I don't know how many kinds of humanity God may have for these various planets. Undoubtedly one planet will have one kind of humanity and another planet another kind. They will all be human beings, all in the likeness of God, but in the same way as God has the tiny flower and the larger flower, the lily and the rose and what not, so He has variety all over, variety among the angels, various planes of angels, so we may suppose that amongst the different races of men there will be different natures, and so forth, they will all be in the likeness of the Great Creator in the sense that they will have those qualities by which they can appreciate Him and enjoy Him, and can appreciate the principles of His righteousness; all that will be the same, but there will be variety. And the Church shall be associated with her Lord in bringing to pass all those wonderful things. There will be a 1,000 years for the blessing work in connection with the earth, and let us say some more for each of the planets and then go out amongst the others and see where eternity will be and you will see very easily that there is plenty of room, age after age, for work after work, until the whole creation will be filled with God's glory and His grace and the knowledge of Him. We are not to suppose that things are to be carried on in the same way in other planets as they have been here. God here for those 6,000 years has been giving a great object lesson which is to last for all eternity. All the angels are to take note of that lesson, all mankind are to know about it, and the Church, which will be associated with Jesus, will have knowledge to the full and can testify to the full of the absolute justice of God and the inflexibility of His justice that when once He sentenced the race, nothing can set aside that sentence. The death sentence has been imposed and it must be exercised without mercy for 6,000 years. That is not all, for we see next the love of God manifested through Jesus as we never would have seen it had there never been a world to be brought back from the dominion of sin and death. We see God's love manifested in Jesus, in the giving of His Son and in Him coming into the world to be our Redeemer, and all He suffered and bore, and then we see, also, God's loyalty to principle in highly rewarding Him far above angels and principalities and powers and every name that is named, and oh we rejoice at His exaltation! And then we see the further work of grace in connection with ourselves, and thus we see, dear brethren, God's justice, His love, and ultimately we shall see His wisdom in the matter. All shall see God's power in connection with the recovery of man, even the great power of the resurrection of the dead, the most wonderful power of all power that God ever can or ever will manifest.
And then, my dear brethren, we think about those planets far and near. We have no reason to think we see all of them, that astronomers have seen all of them. They themselves tell us that there are probably just as many more that they cannot see at all, that there is no such thing as an end of space, where there are not planets, and we are simply lost in amazement and our hearts go up the more in gratitude to our Father and in appreciation of the great privilege which we have and the grace of God that has been so manifestly and so wonderfully in operation for us who are in Christ Jesus.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." What has the Apostle here in mind? Why does he say that by grace we are saved? It means, my dear brethren, by grace are we saved; it is not of any duty that God holds to us. It was not that God said, Here I have sentenced those poor creatures to death and it is my duty to them to recover them. Not at all. There was no duty in the matter. Justice merely said God hath created this race, created Adam, and given him the privilege of life everlasting. There was no obligation to give Adam everlasting life even if he had not sinned. He could have said, I have determined to let you live 1,000 years, or 100 years, or 10 days. There was no saying how long he would live. The flies and the various insects only live a certain time, and they have a certain amount of pleasure. God had the same right to say to man, I give you like the other creatures on earth a certain period of life to live, and enjoy yourselves, and then die, and we could not have said, Oh, God's justice claims that He shall do more for us. Not at all. It would be a blessing to have that privilege of life for a day, for 100 years, for 1,000 years: It is all of grace. [CR324]
So when man came under the sentence of death there was no justice which could say to God, Now you must release them. Whatever was done to the sinner was of grace, of His own free will, because He delighted to be gracious to us and so He has made the plan. Now it is by grace we are saved, and it will be by grace that any of our race will be saved, not only in this age, but when the next age shall come and the world will have its opportunity. It will still be by grace, by grace. Yes, God is not bound to mankind any more than He is bound to the Church. No obligation whatever. It is His own free will He exercises.
In the next Age it will be God's grace by works, but now in our case, in the case of the Church, now it is God's grace through faith. You see the difference? A very wide difference between the advantages of this Age and the next Age. No difference so far as the grace is concerned, but a great difference so far as individuals are concerned. Now the offer is merely to those who can exercise faith and those who cannot exercise faith cannot have the blessings, and in proportion as we exercise the faith we may get the blessing, but in the next Age it will be by works and will not be such a test of faith. Now we walk through dark places and have merely the light of God's Word. We are walking in dark places, as the Apostle declares. "Weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning," but the morning is not here and we need that lamp to our feet because it is a dark time and that requires faith. It requires faith to hold the Word of God as a lamp to our feet; it requires faith to walk by the light of God's Word, because there are many voices saying "Go this way and that way." There are many enticements every way, hence those who walk by faith, by the light of God's Word, are a specially loved class by the Lord and a class that He invites to a special place, because when the next Age shall be ushered in, dear friends, and the glorious Sun of Righteousness shall shine forth with healing in His beams and scatter all the darkness of earth, you can see readily, there will not be the same need for faith. They will not need to walk in the light of God's Word. There will be plenty of the light of the new dispensation shining and the light of the knowledge of the glory of God will fill the whole earth. There will be no place that will not be illuminated by that glorious light, and Jesus declares that He was the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world, all those who have gone down in heathen darkness, in Africa, millions on millions, all those of India, all those of China, and so on, all, who have gone down to the tomb in darkness, in ignorance of the true light that will enlighten every man that cometh into the world, no matter who he was or where he lived or when he lived, so long as he is one of the children of Adam, because as by man came death so also the resurrection. As all in Adam die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. There's the blessed fullness of God's goodness. And when these come forth it will be morning then. It will be daylight then. It will be easy to see everything then: they won't have the same difficulties in connection with faith.
Oh, says one, don't you wish God had let us live then instead of now? Oh, no, I am glad to live now, to walk with the lamp now. "I would rather go in the dark with Him than go alone in the light," as we sometimes sing: beautifully expresses it, too. Why, you admit that it is hard to walk by faith? Yes, it is. You admit there are difficulties and pitfalls that we could avoid if we saw more clearly? Yes. Why should we not desire more light? Because God puts a special reward in connection with this dark pathway in which He asks us to walk by faith, a reward that will not come to the world when they walk in the light of the new Dispensation. Then they will know the things that are obscured now--the things that people are cavilling at now that they are ridiculing now. The whole world will see, know and clearly understand. They will not get a reward for faith because it will not be difficult: they will not be able to avoid believing. You cannot help believing things that you see. You see me: there's no need for you to get a reward for seeing me. So then God's arrangement for the next Age and for mankind in general will be according to their works and so we read, you remember Jesus pictures that new Age in Revelation 21 and speaks about how all shall come forth from their graves and the dead shall come up and all shall stand before the great White Throne. That's the same great White Throne as we have in the 25th of Matthew. There it is spoken of as a judgment seat. All people are to be judged during that thousand year day, all mankind are to be before the judgment seat of Christ, before the great White Throne, representing the purity and justice of that throne, not established to condemn mankind; they have already been condemned, and the One on the throne is the One who has redeemed them from that condemnation, and He during the time He is on that throne will be there for the very purpose of giving a blessing to all those whom He has purchased with His own blood and scattering all the ignorance and darkness and binding Satan for the 1,000 years that he can deceive no more, and lifting up and helping all those who desire to come unto the Father through Him. But though they will not be on trial for faith it will be for their works, and the Lord will not expect them to do perfect works at first, because they will be weak. While Satan will be bound for a thousand years, while all the darkness and ignorance and superstition will be cast away and the light of truth will be shining clearly, and everyone shall know the Lord, and the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth as the waters cover the great deep, nevertheless they will have the imperfections of their own flesh to contend with. These they must battle with: to whatever extent they have lived regardless of the divine will at the present time and knowingly have done wrong, to that extent they will have degraded themselves and they will have all the more steps to climb up, but the whole world will have a priest upon the throne. It will not be merely a king with great power. He will be a king indeed, but His power will be used for the benefit of His subjects, not for their injury--to put down everything that's in opposition to righteousness, that He may thus deliver them from the snare of the Adversary and from the control of evil and darkness, that He may help them out of their own weaknesses: and so He will also be at the same time upon His throne a priest, the two phases joining. A priest forever after the order of Melchisedek, who was a king and a priest at the same time--a Helper and Teacher and general Blesser and Manifestor of divine mercy, all that, because these words "priest" and "king" mean "ruler" and "governor," and one who has the power and authority to aid and to help us.
My dear friends, when we see what God has for the world we can see that gradually as they will give heed to the instructions of the great Priest upon the throne, the great Teacher of that time, Jesus the Head, the Church His Body, as they will give heed, they will be helped out of all their weaknesses and gradually come to more and more strength of mind and of character, increase of knowledge, until they, if they will, may come fully up out of all that they have lost in Adam, fully up to all the perfection from which Adam fell, all the blessings that were purchased for them by the death of Jesus. All, all through works, works, works. They will require by their efforts to get out of sin and to fight against sin. Oh, they will not be successful in one moment, or a week, or a year, but during that thousand years they will have the fullest opportunity and plenty of time to get clear up out of their weaknesses so that they may be fully perfected and able to do perfect works, made complete by the assistance granted them during that 1,000 years.
Now, you see the difference between that day and the present time? Now God is judging us according to our faith and says, According to thy faith be it unto you, because now good works are impossible, and if God would say to us "According to thy works be it unto you," oh, we would have to give it up. Good works are not possible: perfect works are not possible: we could never commend ourselves to God by good works, because restitution has not come to make us perfect so that we could do His will. But we can have the perfect faith and the loyalty of heart and we can show by the best works we are able to do what we would like to do if we had perfect bodies, and He says, "I will test you not by works but by your faith and the degree of obedience which you strive to render. I will know how hard you strive to do perfectly My will, I will see this and it will be according to your faith and your attempted obedience that I will regard you.
Neither will they be entirely without faith in the future, but faith will not be the test there, just as works are not the test now. Faith is the test here, so then faith will not be the test there, but works, because they will have the uplifting influence of restitution bringing them back where they will be able to serve the Lord. So the Apostle is speaking here [CR325] of works and he says, "for by grace are ye saved"--you can count yourselves saved now, reckon yourselves new creatures in Christ all through faith. But, oh, says one, I have not faith. I cannot believe it. No, only those who can accept this grace by faith can have it now because this is the class God is calling now. This is the class He is accepting now, none others, and that faith is not of yourselves. It is the gift of God. Why, is faith a gift of God? Have we nothing to give Him? How can it be my faith if God gives it to me? Well, my dear brethren, let us see how that is. Some of us were born with this quality of faith in our minds--ability to exercise faith. We were born with that ability. Did we acquire it ourselves, or were we born with it? Then it is of God. The first man, Adam, had faith, had the quality of mind that would enable him to exercise faith, and some of his race have fallen in one way and some in another way, and some have so fallen that they find it almost impossible to exercise faith. But if you and I are able to exercise faith, where did we get that quality? Oh, we got it from heredity. Yes, and where did Father Adam get it? From the Father. Very well, then you did not make the faith yourself, did you? I did not give myself the quality of exercising faith.
But more than that, after we do exercise faith it is God who leads us on in this way of faith and He gives us the trials and the testings and the instructions and the encouragements and all the experiences to draw out our faith and give us more faith and more faith. Have you not more faith than when you began? Yes. Where did you get it? Was it that you merely resolved to have more faith? No, you were in the school of Christ and the great Teacher appointed by the Father was instructing you and giving you lessons that developed you in faith. You grew in faith as you grew in grace and this is what the Apostle is saying here. He says "not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: not of works lest any man should boast" Eph. 2:8,9). If we did good works we might say, "See how good I am?" and feel as if there was some credit due us. But the more we see that all we have is from God, that we never merited such favor, that we never did anything to commend ourselves to God, then our hearts are glad. "Not of works," the Apostle says. It is faith and that faith is not of our own manufacturing either. It is our faith. We must have got the faith, but God has been working in us: He has been giving us hardships and experiences and He has developed our faith. Everyone of us as Christians do well to look back and see the divine providences in our experiences that we may see how God has been doing this work, developing faith in us and helping us to have more faith, and so the Apostle says in the next verse, "For we are His workmanship." Ah, there you see, my dear friends, that's the point. Who worked this faith in you? We are His workmanship. It is God that worketh in us both to will and to do. How does God work in us to will and do? Does He cause some miraculous influence to lay hold upon our hearts and brains and put thoughts in there to compel us to do this and that? Oh, no. Far, far different. How then? The Apostle Peter tells us. He says, "God hath given unto us exceeding great and precious promises that by these we might be made partakers of the divine nature." That is how God does it, by these precious, inspiring promises. We cannot get along without the Bible, my dear friends, no one can be a Christian and a child of God without the instructions from the Father's Word. By these, then, is the power of God working in you to will and to do.
What more can He say than to you He hath said
You who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?
As you have listened and as you have sat to be instructed by the Father, as you have sought to walk in the "narrow way" He has come near to you and you have had more fellowship with Him, you have appreciated more and more His character and plan and you have grown in grace and knowledge and have become more determined to do right than ever before. That was the Father's drawing and not of yourselves. It was God working in you "for we are His workmanship."
Oh, my dear friends, let the workman go on in your hearts: let Him melt and fashion: let Him chisel and polish: let Him make of you, as the Apostle says, a vessel unto honor. You remember the Apostle says, "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor"--less honor. The potter makes some vessels plain and some he ornaments, so the Apostle's thought is, God has a great factory and you and I are in His hands. He is moulding us and fashioning us. Let Him work out whatever He is willing to do. He will only work through His providences and He will make of you the very best that is possible to be made. Is not that so? And you have so much to do. You say, "How can I have anything to do if God hath determined to do this?" Oh, my dear friends, He has made our will the very keynote of our existence and you have a will by which you can will yourself out of His hands, or you can will yourself into His hands and yield yourself to be a minister of righteousness, to be used of Him and made meet for His future use in the glorious kingdom.
Now, I trust that all of our hearts are saying, "O Lord, work in us more and more to will and to do. We boast not of any works of our own. We realize that what we are is by Thy grace and by that grace we are determined that under all these blessed privileges, God being for us, we shall be submissive. The Father Himself loveth us and He is desirous of making us jewels and ultimately of gathering us as jewels when He comes "to make up His jewels." O, we want to be among them, we do, and that means that we want now to be submissive. Don't think you must do the work. If you find things going different from what you had expected them, still it is God's providence for you. I have heard from a great many of God's people who told me that they could see most distinctly God's providences in connection with their lives. I think if we are watching for them we can all see these dealings. So many at home have said, "Brother Russell, if it had not been for the breaking of my leg (or the rheumatism, or what not), if it had not been for these things I never would have had such a blessed privilege as I had by reason of this coming upon me. It gave me leisure time, it kept me off from my business, it placed me on my back or on a chair, and I was obliged to have nothing to do for awhile and to let worldly things go, and God took advantage of that very thing and He providentially brought to my notice the Truth, and oh, the blessing I have gotten. I thank Him for the affliction and for all the providential care that He exercised over me as His child, though He gave me affliction."
But, my dear friends, that same person could have received the matter in a very different way. He could have been dissatisfied and discontented and lost all opportunity for blessing. In proportion as we exercise faith in God, in all the circumstances and conditions of life in that same proportion we will get the blessing that God designs to give us.
God's burdens rest upon the strong--
They stronger grow who bear them long,
And each new burden is a sign
That greater power to bear is thine.
So now no longer I repine,
Because a heavy cross is mine,
But struggle onward with the prayer,
Make me more worthy, Lord, to bear!
DEAR friends, there is something very interesting to me in connection with the closing of conventions. I have been this summer at three large conventions in United States and now two large conventions in Great Britain, besides about eight or ten small conventions on the way, and when it came to the closing days of these different conventions, every one of the brethren felt, as I believe you feel now here, that the last was the best. But I think the reason for this is very plain to be seen; as we are seeking to draw near to the Lord, are growing in grace, growing in knowledge, growing in love, we appreciate the wonderful truth of the divine plan more and more. It was good ten years ago; was better every year since, and it is getting better every day and that's the secret I think of our conventions always seeming to us the last to be the best.
This word "Farewell," Fare ye well, God bless you, God be with you, these are in the three words. The words are of great import to us, for we know not if we shall ever meet again under these conditions; and now, dear friends, as the days and years go by we are getting our affections, I trust, so much the more thoroughly set upon the heavenly things and the heavenly fellowship that all the experiences of the present time seem to run in that direction, and so sitting here tonight I know your chief concern is, will we be in that Great General Convention of which the Apostle speaks in his letter to the Hebrews, for it is the General Assembly of the Church of the First Born ones whose names are written in heaven. Will we be there? The conditions you know, dear friends, are already arranged for; they are unalterable. God could not do more on our behalf. He could not favor us more than He has done. As we have looked at these subjects during the last few days together, we have seen that He has done wonderful things, exceeding riches of His grace and loving kindness have already been manifested towards us and He has promised us still more in the future; in the Ages to come He will still show forth those riches of grace in His loving kindness towards us who are in Christ Jesus, and we are in Christ Jesus in the sense that the Scriptures represent, that He indeed is the great Mediator of the New Covenant.
For the sake of some who may be here for the first time, perhaps I should explain a little bit along the line of what I signify. There was an old covenant that God made with the human family away back in Eden. Father Adam was in covenant relationship with his God, and so you hear of all the wonderful blessings and favors of God to Adam, and the dominion of earth which the Scriptures declare he had: "God hath put all things under his feet,"--the beasts of the field and the fish of the sea and the fowl of the air, all things in subjection to him, and God promised him everlasting life on condition of his continued obedience to Him, to the divine will; he was perfect, with no predisposition to sin. He was in the image and likeness of God and had no disposition to sin, quite to the contrary. But under all those favorable circumstances our father Adam sinned, came short of the requirements and thus broke the covenant, and the Scriptures declare, broke that everlasting covenant which God had made with him, and so he and his children have been aliens and strangers and under the sentence of death from then till now and what we need and all humanity needs is a re-establishment of the covenant relationship between God and the creature. If that covenant can be re-established then mankind will have the blessing that was once lost, the eternal life, the eternal joy that goes with that covenant relationship. All the angels are thus in covenant relationship with God, all who are in harmony with God, all of His intelligent creatures, are thus treated by Him.
We are not in that condition yet. God made a little example of the Jewish nation and made certain suggestions to them. To them He said, that if they would keep this covenant, viz., if they would keep the divine law perfectly, then indeed He would be in covenant relationship with them; they should be His people and they should live everlastingly. They failed to keep the divine law. We see, dear friends, that they were not to blame; they could not keep those laws of God because they were the measure of a perfect man's ability, whereas they, like ourselves, like the entire race of Adam, were all imperfect through the Fall. But God, nevertheless, we see had good intentions in respect to the giving of that covenant (the Law Covenant) for He wished two things to be accomplished. One was that He would make in that Law Covenant with the Jewish nation, He would make a type or illustration of the better conditions that will prevail bye and bye in connection with that; He typified the necessity for better sacrifices by these inferior sacrifices which belonged to that Law Covenant. You remember it was established by the shedding of the blood of bulls and goats and the anti-typical bullock and goat are to be slain and the result of that is to be the bringing in of a still better covenant than that which was brought in at the hands of Moses, and as Moses was the Mediator of that Law Covenant so a greater than Moses, even the Christ of God, is the Mediator of the New Covenant, for the Old Covenant was only the foreshadowing of that New Covenant, under which the blessing will come to all mankind. But the terms of the New Covenant will be the same--do and live, works, obedience. "He that doeth these things shall live by them." The difference then between mankind under the New Covenant and the Jews under the Law covenant will not be in respect to the requirements for fellowship with God. There will be an obligation upon mankind that they shall be obedient to the divine law. The difference will mainly be that the New Covenant will have a better Mediator and that better Mediator's ability will be established in the better sacrifices which He offered, says the Scriptures. There's the relationship between the type and the antitype, the one a figure and the other anti-typical. You remember how God instituted the Law Covenant. First of all He appointed Moses to be the Mediator of that Covenant, and now when He is about to establish the anti-typical one, first of all He appoints a Mediator, and so the Apostle tells us that Jesus is the Mediator of the New Covenant. But as St. Peter points out, in the record of Acts 3:22, this great Mediator of the future is more than the present Jesus, more than the man Jesus. This great Mediator is to be composed of many members. Mark the words of St. Peter: "A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you from amongst your brethren--a prophet like unto me," viz., Moses. I am his small type, I am a foreshadow of that great one that God will raise up from amongst your brethren. God has been doing that, my dear friends, He has as the Apostle says raised up Jesus first and made Him to be the Head over the Body which is the Church, and now from more than 1,800 years from amongst the brethren He has been raising up this Body, this Body of the great High Priest, this Body of the great Mediator, that is to stand for a thousand years between God and man, the world. And you and I have the great privilege of being members of the Body of that great Mediator and sharers with Him in His glorious work, and so the Apostle says you remember that we are able ministers, servants of the New Covenant. That New Covenant has not yet been made, has not yet come into existence. It is merely in preparation. Before it can be made the better sacrifices must be offered and now is the time for the offering of these better sacrifices. Our Lord Jesus offered His great sacrifice, you remember, during the three and one-half years of His earthly ministry. He began the work at Jordan, where He presented Himself a sacrifice without blemish. He concluded that feature at Calvary, where He cried, "It is finished" and in the type this was the offering of the bullock. Then next in the type came the offering of the goat which represents the church which is His Body. The great fat bullock represents the Master Himself, and the lean goat all the Church. So it is in the picture. And the goat is to have all the experiences that came to the bullock and so the disciple is to have the same experiences as His Lord and we are to walk in His footsteps as He showed us the example, and we are to fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ and then to be able, or qualified, ministers, or servants, of that New Covenant. In what way are we serving the New Covenant? In two respects. In making known the grace of God and seeking for underpriests [CR327] to be associated as members of the Body of the great priest; we are in that sense serving because we are helping to get ready the new Royal Priesthood which will have to do with the execution of the terms of that Covenant. It will not go into effect until the priesthood is ready to do its work, priests upon the throne associated with Him, helping and uplifting the poor groaning creation, and so if Jesus is the great High Priest and the great King then His disciples are the under-priesthood and He says: "He that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me on my throne" and as He was the anti-type of Melchisedek so all His members are also partakers in that Melchisedek type because we will be priests upon the throne with Him; and now then the able ministry of this New Covenant is the finding of the fellow members and that is your work and mine. We are not now to rule the world, to enlighten it. It is not in our power to deal with any class except the class that God is dealing with. His first work is the calling out of a class as a people for His name and we are His channels for the gathering in of these who will constitute the Members of the Body of Christ, which will be the Christ in glory. Are you not glad, dear friends, that God has given you the privilege of being His mouthpieces and of inviting such as have the ear to hear to become joint heirs and fellow members of the same Body? We are glad, and this is the ministry, the service which the Lord expects us to be faithful in. In proportion as we appreciate the privilege ourselves, in proportion as our consecration is a real one, every opportunity for serving the brethren and finding those who have an ear to hear and giving them the opportunity of coming into the Body (all these privileges are ours), and in proportion as we are so doing we are accomplishing the work of the ministry, the work that God intends His servants to do at the present time; and we are all ministers in this sense, not merely those who preach from the platform or pulpit, but those who preach in their daily lives; as the Lord says, "The spirit of the Lord God is upon me for He hath anointed me to preach the good tidings to the meek, to bind up the broken hearted and to declare that acceptable time of the Lord." These are our privileges and whoever has the anointing, has the divine ordination as a minister of Christ, a servant, to call on others to become joint servants with himself and members of the one Body through association with the one Head and through the begetting of the holy spirit.
Then, dear friends, there is still another way. This is part of our ministry, but the other part of the service is that which is pictorially represented as the sacrificing of that goat. It had to be sacrificed: it had to share in the suffering; it had to die. If it had not died then that part of the plan would not be carried out, so unless you and I die according to the flesh we cannot enter into the things of the spirit because, as the Apostle plainly declares, "Flesh and blood shall not enter the kingdom of Heaven" and if we would be of those who would enter the kingdom of Heaven as New Creatures, changed in a moment in the twinkling of an eye from earthly to heavenly conditions, then we must have the begetting of that spirit for no one will have the birth who does not first share in the begetting, so if we have not the begetting, the beginning of this relationship in Christ as Members of this Body of the great Mediator, Prophet, Priest and King and Judge, if we have not the beginning we can never have the consummation. The great privilege is ours, it is within our grasp, and what are the conditions? That we should be so faithful to Him who called us out of darkness into His marvellous light that we shall count our lives as nothing.
One dear brother said here he had given all his living and I thought of what Jesus said, that he who kept his present life should lose it and he who lost his present life for His sake should find it. None will gain the heavenly life who do not lay down the earthly life. It does not matter whether we shall die a martyr's death in the same sense as our Redeemer died or whether we shall have different sufferings from His. The whole matter is brought out by St. Paul when he speaks about the way in which the bullock was treated and the way in which the goat must be treated. The bullock you remember after being killed and after its fat was put upon the altar, the head and the hoof and everything appertaining to the bullock was taken outside the camp, into a place of dishonor and that meant the risking of public opinion and the getting of the disfavor of our fellowmen because of our favor of God. But Jesus experienced the matter. He had the powers and the abilities to have made Himself every interesting and attractive to all those Pharisees and Jews and instead of saying "Crucify Him" they would have cried out in His praise. But Jesus took the Father's way. He said, "The cup that the Father hath poured for me shall I not drink it," and thus in obedience to the Father His daily life led more and more outside the camp, and the burning of the flesh, the shame experienced and the general destruction of the flesh took place outside the camp in this disfavor. And so the Apostle says to us, represented by the goat, "Let us go to Him outside the camp bearing His reproach," for only those animals killed upon the Day of Atonement and whose blood was afterwards taken into the Most Holy, only those animals were burned outside the camp. Do you see, dear friends? Here then in its two parts is the great sacrifice of this great anti-typical Melchisedek priest who has not yet taken His place on the throne, but who is now offering His sacrifice,--His sacrifice, composed of two parts, first His own particular personal sacrifice; secondly, the sacrifice of those who come unto the Father through Him and who become His members. So He can say of us as He did say of some when speaking to Saul of Tarsus, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? The flesh of the saints which you are persecuting is my flesh," and so long as saints are suffering in the world it is Christ Jesus suffering because the sufferings of Christ are not finished and will not be until the last member of His Body shall cease to suffer and shall pass beyond the vail. And so the prophets of old were principally speaking of the Church in this united sense and speaking of the sufferings of this present time, the sufferings of Christ (they have continued now for more than 1,800 years), and of the glory that will follow. Just as soon then as the sufferings are ended the glory will begin. So here is a part of our privilege. "If we suffer with Him we shall also reign with Him." If we be dead with Him, not a different death, the same death, the sacrificial death; different from the death of the world as we saw, you remember, on Saturday. If we suffer with Him, if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him. Here's the condition and here's the work of God going on, all preparing, making ready for the inauguration of that New Covenant, and just as soon as the last Member of the Body of Christ shall have suffered and the last Member of the Body shall have been glorified, then the great anti-typical Prophet shall be raised up from amongst the brethren, member by member, the great Prophet will be complete and ready for His work and the sacrifice will all be completed and the blood of the sacrifice will be ready to sprinkle on the mercy seat on behalf of the people. Just as the blood of the bullock was sprinkled upon the mercy seat on behalf of the High Priest's members and His house (and them alone, not for all the people). And when all that shall have been accomplished then we see shall take place that exactly corresponding to the inauguration of the Law Covenant. For Moses took the blood of bulls and goats. He himself was mediator of the covenant. He was then ready to put that Covenant into effect. God authorized the making of the Covenant and this Mediator was then ready to make it.
But you see, my dear friends, we are very near that time now when the whole Body of Christ will be complete and when all the blood that has been gathered is applied, not yours, not mine, because after we have been adopted by Him and have become the Members of His Body it is no longer you and no longer me, and therefore He could say, "Why persecutest thou Me." Saul of Tarsus was not persecuting ordinary people, not the flesh of ordinary people, but Jesus, and so the blood of Jesus will soon all be spilt and the sacrifice will all be applied and then He will be ready--ready for what? Ready for what was pictured in the picture of the inauguration of the Law Covenant. Moses took the blood and sprinkled the two tables of the Law. What does this represent? The one represented the law towards God and the other the law towards man. The one represented the demands of divine justice that have been violated in Adam's transgression. He had violated the law, for he that is guilty of violating even one point is guilty of all, so Adam had become a violator of God's law and before there could be any reconciliation possible God's divine Justice must receive something as an offset for sin and this is represented in the sprinkling of blood upon the two tables of stone. That represented the satisfying of justice. Then he turned and sprinkled all the people. It took only a moment you see to [CR328] sprinkle the tables of the law and so it will only be a very brief matter for the Lord, the glorified One to appear in the presence of God and present the satisfaction to justice on man's behalf, the merit of His own sacrifice; take but a short time. Then the next part will come in and it will be a longer one; just as in the type it would be a considerable work to sprinkle the blood on millions of people--hours, perhaps days. So in the anti-type it will take a little while for Jesus to make satisfaction to justice and take over the human family. It will take all the thousand years to do this sprinkling of humanity and bringing mankind under the influence of the blood and giving that very blessing that Jesus intimated when He said, "I am the light of the world--the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world." That sprinkling of the blood speaks to us of how God through Christ for a thousand years will be effecting this work of reconciling the world to Himself, bringing it back to harmony with God. It will take a thousand years to do this work, the whole thousand years. And will they all receive the favor of God? They will all have it. And will they all receive it in the sense of making personal application of it? We cannot say that, because God will still respect the human will and whoever intelligently, deliberately rejects the favor of God and refuses to come into harmony with the laws of the kingdom will therefore cut short his own privileges and the result will be that he will die the Second Death, from which there will be no redemption, for which there will be no atonement and no resurrection of the dead. But by the time a thousand years shall be finished and all those who have rejected it will be in the Second Death, then the whole world of mankind, all raised up under the blessing that comes to them through the blood of Jesus, through the knowledge and assistance of the royal Priesthood, that whole world of Adam's race will have come back into harmony, with God and thus into human perfection, all that was lost will be theirs again. And will they be right then, will they be in covenant relationship with God? Nay, verily, except in the sense that they have been all through the thousand years in covenant relationship through the Mediator, but God will have no dealings with mankind during that thousand years. His whole dealing will be through the Mediator, but at the close of the thousand years the Scriptures declare that the Lord shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father.
Oh, but then, you say, can the world stand it? Yes, my dear brethren, because they will all be back again to the same image of God in which Adam was created and in that glorious likeness of God. There is nothing in the divine law that will condemn them. They will have the divine approval and that covenant of blessing and eternal life which was theirs through the Mediator will then be theirs independently of the Mediator and because of their own perfection. The Mediator will merely be set aside after He has done His great work. The Apostle tells us of this great work. He says He must reign until He shall have put down all insubordination and all that is contrary to God. All will be put down. Satan's reign will have come to an end. Satan will be bound, and all the imperfections that have come to humanity, the class that will be restored to human perfection, all their imperfections will be put down, they will be freed from them. They are shackles that have been hindering them for many years. Then the Son will have finished His work with mankind. They will all be free. "Whom the Son shall make free shall be free indeed" and so the whole world will be free again, back again in the same freedom that Adam was created in. The Apostle says, you remember, "The whole groaning creation is travailing in pain together until now," and the creation itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption. It will take a thousand years to deliver them. But they shall be delivered into the glorious liberty of the sons of God--not spiritual sons, earthly sons, human sons. Now this is the great work and thus the Apostle in the 12th chapter of Hebrews, tells us we are approaching the general assembly and that it will be our general convention over there when this time of suffering with Christ and laying down our lives for the service of the Lord and the brethren when it will all be finished and the last member will have passed beyond the vail, that will be the general assembly of the Church of the First Born through the power of the first resurrection, as the Apostle declares. He is telling us of what we are approaching; we are not approaching what the Jews approached; that was merely the type when they came to Mount Sinai, and so that was a type of how it is to be here. We are coming down now to Mount Zion; there is to be a great shaking and trembling here and all men will be in fire and trouble and they will be glad to have the great Mediator step between and glad to have Him making the atonement, applying the merit of the atonement on their behalf and set up His kingdom and take them back into harmony with God that they may enjoy the blessings of God under the protection of the royal Priesthood, the great Mediator.
Now, then, how blessed is our portion! What a great privilege to know that God is calling us to so high a service! What a great privilege to know that even now we may be faithful ministers of the New Covenant getting ready at our part in sacrificing, associated with our Master and in Him as the Head we His Members of His Body going to Him without the camp and with Him on the other hand seated in the heavenlies, in the holy enjoying the wonderful grace and blessing and privilege of our blessed relationship in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Now, my dear friends, when we get there it will be no longer necessary to say "Farewell" and no longer necessary for saying "Good-bye," but now we are not there yet and I am wishing you "Good-bye." I am wishing that as I say good-bye you will have the full meaning of it, "God be with you." Good-bye in its full meaning signifies "God be with you" and may He give you grace to grow, and keep you to the end. I know He will because He changeth not and He already has made all these arrangements for you and me and all, even as many as the Lord your God will call He has made the arrangement and He is faithful and will never change from His arrangement, and therefore the whole matter, my dear brethren, is "Good-bye," God be with you. Abide in His love; see that you do not wander away from Him and from the conditions of your covenant; He will not wander from you. It is a question merely to what extent you and I will be faithful to Him.
I don't know, dear friends, none of us know, how many more such conventions we will have. So far as we can judge, probably there will be very few. So far as our understanding of the Word of the Lord goes we are very near the end of this Harvest time. We do not claim that we have any infallibility in regard to the matter and our consecration was not made until 1914; our consecration was made until death, and if in the Lord's providence I shall live longer than the Lord be praised and then I can rejoice just as much in 1916 as 1925, rejoice as much as in this present moment and I shall anticipate that under the Lord's providence His grace will be more abundant as the years go by and that my joy in the Lord will go on increasing to the very end, but now, so far as we know, it looks from the Scriptures as though a very little while, three years, and less, and we will be in the kingdom. There may be things about it we do not understand and we have no desire to be dogmatic in any sense of the word and do anything rash, but we are trying to learn to appreciate the value of the present things and also the value of the things to come. We are trying to learn to take such a view as Paul did when he said, "I count all these things as loss and dross that I may win Christ and be found in Him"--in the anointed--membership in the Body of that Great Mediator. If He might win that, all other things of the present time might go and this is what is coming more and more into your heart and we are getting more and more lifted out of the selfishness of the world and we are looking beyond to the heavenly things. Indeed, I think nothing impressed me more lately than the strife between some candidates for the presidency of the United States, the strife between certain parties who were seeking the office, a noble office and all of them noble men, but in their strife they belittle themselves in striving for the office which we think rather should seek the men than the men the office, but I thought at the time of how different from ours. Those people would think of us, they would say, "Foolish, foolish, spending time and strength talking about a kingdom that they have never seen, talking about a kingdom they have never seen, worshiping, bowing down and laying their lives at their feet and counting all things as nothing to have the smile of His approval whom they have never seen except by the eyes of faith." And I had the pleasure of thinking to myself, "How foolish are these people." I can see they are spending time and strength and money, in legitimate propaganda you know, spending lots of money and time and all that and all for what?" Oh, you [CR329] say, for four years of the Presidency of the United States; a great honor. Great indeed, my friends, but it was not even for that, it was for having one chance out of four or five of being the President. Oh, I said, if those people would endure such things for the chance of being President for four or five years what could I not endure for the chance of being an heir of glory throughout eternity! What now, friends, is it insane or is it sane? Is it insanity? Then I am one of the insane. If you and I, my dear friends, stake our all upon the kingdom are we not following a good example? How much did Jesus give? He laid down His life. How much did St. Paul give? He laid down his life. How much did St. Peter, John and the others? They laid down their lives. They all bought that pearl of great price. Whoever sees that pearl, "let him go and sell all he has and buy it." It is the most wonderful bargain. I feel rich already. Why? Because all things are yours and you are Christ's and Christ is God's. But I tell you candidly, my dear friends, if this whole matter about the future were a fable and there was no future at all, still I am having a happy time anyway. (Laughter, cheers.) We are having the very happy time the others are wishing they could get. I believe that is the very essence of wisdom, not only to get the happiness now, but, we believe, shortly to have that glory--immortality, and joint heirship to the kingdom, and then beyond, oh, beyond, the kingdom in the ages to come all that thousand of millions of worlds, to be joint heirs with Christ as associates in the great work stretching away beyond into eternity, if you can imagine the scope of such a word--millions and millions of years. We can count the millions forward; our evolutionary friends can count them backwards. (Laughter.)
Well, now, my dear friends, in conclusion I would say that as we depart from here and say good-bye, we make the resolution that by the grace of God we will, as we suggested during the discourse two days ago, every morning in life endeavor to think of that text that I brought to your attention: "What shall I render unto the Lord my God for all His benefits towards me. I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord." And then every day, of course, when we thus pray and if we can say we will take the cup of salvation, calling upon the name of the Lord, it will mean we will drink whatever cup the Lord pours for us that day, in His strength. We know what it means. It is to be a cup of joy bye and bye, but now it is a cup of shame and ignominy. He has made certain arrangements for our good "to work in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure" and to work out for us "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory while we look not at the things which are seen"--don't spend your time looking too closely to the earthly things, lift your minds more and more to the heavenly things, the higher things God has in reservation for them that love Him, love Him more than houses, more than our lands, more than our parents, more than children, more than ourselves. Then how much we must love if we would be pleasing to the Lord for He hath declared that he that loveth Father, Mother or Sister or Brother more than Me is not worthy to be of My bride class and we see that wherever our love is our service will go. Whoever loves will love to serve. If you love the brethren you will want to do them good, and thus we are fulfilling the divine will, the divine plan and are being prepared for association with Christ. Farewell and God bless you.
COURAGE! PRESS ON
TIRED! well, what of that?
Didst fancy life was spent on beds of ease,
Fluttering the rose leaves scattered by the breeze?
Come, rouse thee! work while it is called to-day:
Courage! arise! go forth upon thy way.
Lonely! and what of that?
Some must be lonely; 'tis not given to all
To feel a heart responsive rise and fall,
To blend another life within its own:
Work can be done in loneliness. Work on.
Dark! well, what of that?
Didst fondly dream the sun would never set?
Dost fear to lose thy way? Take courage yet!
Learn thou to walk by faith, and not by sight;
Thy steps will guided be, and guided right.
Hard! well, what of that?
Didst fancy life one summer holiday,
With lessons none to learn, and naught but play?
Go--get thee to thy task! Conquer or die!
It must be learned; learn it, then, patiently.