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HARVEST GLEANINGS 2
The Greensburg Weekly Press, June 5, 1905 THE ANNIVERSARY OF PENTECOST
Chattanooga, Tenn., June 4-The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society's convention here opened Sunday by an address of welcome from the old veteran General A. P. Stewart. It continues for two days more. Pastor C. T. Russell, President of the Society, spoke twice today. We give his evening discourse as follows: "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they (the disciples) were all with one accord in one place... And they were all filled with the holy Spirit." Acts 2:1,4
Today is approximately the anniversary of Pentecost. The word "Pentecost" signifies the fiftieth day. The fifty days began to count from the Jewish Passover Sabbath, the fifteenth day of Nisan: seven times seven weeks (7 x 7 equals 49) brought Pentecost, which the Jews celebrated year by year during their dispensation, but understood not the deep significance of the type. I need scarcely remind you of the great transactions of that Pentecost day which followed our Lord's death and resurrection and ascension. You will remember the account of which our text is a portion.
You recall that before leaving his followers our Lord informed them that a new dispensation was opening and that although he had previously forbidden them to go to Gentiles or Samaritans, they should understand that henceforth their message must be unrestricted . . . to "him that hath an ear to hear" of any nation, but that their mission, their work, was to begin at Jerusalem. You recall further that our Lord admonished the disciples that they were not yet equipped for the work of the new dispensation, and instructed them, saying, "Tarry ye at Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high." (Luke 24:49)
They probably knew not how long the tarrying would be, for "The holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:39), and they could not understand spiritual things until they obtained this blessing. True, a measure of the holy Spirit had been on the apostles during our Lord's ministry, so that they worked miracles, healing the sick, casting out devils, etc.; but the power under which they then operated was not from the Father direct, but was imparted to them by our Lord Jesus, whose representatives they were in the teaching and preaching and miracle working.
However, the Lord had promised them a recognition by the Father in due time, and it was for this that they were to wait. They were not waiting as sinners for power, for repentance, for they were already believers in the Lord Jesus, accepted of him, and, more than this, they were already consecrated to the doing of the Father's will. But, although every proper step on their part had been taken, they had not yet been acknowledged of the Father-they had not yet received the spirit of adoption into his family. They had left the house of Moses, the house of servants, and had attached themselves to Jesus, the Son of God, that they might be members of the house of sons, this liberty or privilege having been accorded them (John 1:12); but now they waited for the matter to become bona fide, actual.
"DIVERSE MANIFESTATIONS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT"
The descent of the holy Spirit upon them might have been as quiet a matter as was the descent of the holy Spirit upon our Lord Jesus at the time of his baptism-might have been no more marked a manifestation than there is on the Lord's people today, when, becoming united to the Lord, they become partakers of his Spirit and are adopted into the Father's family.
However, it was not only in the interest of the early Church but in our interest also that our Lord marked this great and important transaction with wonderful outward manifestations-the cloven tongue and flames of fire resting upon the heads of the disciples and possibly upon others, the rushing mighty wind filling the place where they were and causing some kind of sensation, the after miracles of the tongues and other gifts of the Spirit. All these attestations to the momentous significations of Pentecost we may well rejoice in. They impress upon us the importance of the great events which on that day had their beginning. What great events? We answer, in harmony with Peter's words, that the events of that day signified
(1) that the Lord who had ascended from them ten days before had reached the heavenly courts, had presented to the Father the evidence of his sacrifice, and had made a portion of the merit of the same applicable to his people-to the household of faith-to all who would believe in and accept him as their Savior.
These things were shown back in the Mosaic types: the High Priest, having slain the bullock, took its blood into the Most Holy and sprinkled it upon the Mercy Seat, to make atonement for his body (the under priests) and for his household (the house of Levi, which typifies the household of faith-all believers). As soon as the blood of the bullock was sprinkled upon the Mercy Seat, Justice pronounced absolution of sins for the particular class for whom the blood was applied, who, therefore, were in fellowship with God and in harmony with the blessings he had to dispense. Justice relinquished its claim [NS202] and divine Mercy accepted the consecrated ones as prospective members of the body of Christ-as sons of God.
(2) The sending forth of the holy Spirit marked the adoption of these into the family of God, into jointheirship with the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle Peter, explaining this matter, says that it typified that Christ was exalted to the right hand of God-that he had been received into the heavenly courts with glory and distinction as an overcomer, as one who had performed the Father's will, and to whom the high reward was given of sitting down with the Father in his throne-the throne of the universe. The sending of the holy Spirit upon his faithful followers was to be to them an attestation of all this and of their acceptance with the Father through him. (Rev. 3:21)
Jesus, "being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the holy Spirit (the holy Spirit as promised), he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear." Acts 2:33
JOEL'S PROPHECY SHOULD BE REVERSED
Peter proceeds to point out that this pouring out of the Spirit was a partial fulfillment of a prophecy made long before by the Prophet Joel respecting the "last days."
We pause here to notice that this expression "last days" is generally misunderstood. It is generally forgotten by those who study the subject that a day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and that the entire period from the creation to full eradication of sin is a period of seven days-seven periods of one thousand years each, corresponding to the seven days of the week. Joel prophesied about 800 B. C., consequently before the middle of the great week of seven thousand years; and the expression, in the last days, would therefore properly refer to the thousand-year periods with which the great week should close.
As a matter of fact, this Pentecostal blessing occurred in the beginning of the fifth of these great thousand-year days. However, the Apostle Peter does not say that the Pentecostal blessing fulfilled all that was predicted by Joel, but merely that it was in his prediction-a part of it. And while it was a most important part, it by no means represented the larger part of Joel's prediction. The larger part is to be fulfilled shortly in the morning of the seventh of these great days-in the Millennial morning. Turning to Joel's prophecy we see that it has two distinct parts-one part exclusively for the "servants and handmaidens" of the Lord and the other part for "all flesh." (Joel 2:28, 29)
Pentecost marked the pouring out of the Spirit of the Lord upon the servants and handmaidens, and this blessing there poured out has been for all belonging to this class throughout this Gospel age. Pouring out of the Spirit of the Lord upon all flesh is due at the inauguration of the Kingdom of God's dear Son, when Satan shall be bound, and when the sons of God shall shine forth as the Sun in the Kingdom of their Father, for the blessing and refreshment and restitution of all the families of the earth. Matt. 13:43; Rom. 8:17-19; Acts 3:21
The statement of this prophecy is an illustration of the manner in which the Lord throughout the Scriptures has stated his Truth, setting it forth in such a form that its force and meaning should not be understood until the due time should arrive and his people should be guided by the Spirit into the understanding of the same. The peculiarity of the statement is that the blessings of the Millennial age are mentioned first, and the blessings of this Gospel age, last, so that this reversal of the order of occurrence has put a haze upon the whole subject.
Nevertheless, when we rightly consider it, the statement is properly enough applicable to all, including the Church. The operation of God's love and mercy through and in conjunction with the atonement sacrifice of Christ is to bring the outpouring of the Spirit upon all flesh, but this general outpouring will be after certain days, represented in this Gospel age, the fifth day and the sixth day-the fifth thousand and sixth thousand years of the great week, and hence it will be the seventh; but the blessing of the Lord's servants and handmaidens will not be after those days (the fifth and the sixth days) but "in those days."
The entire matter is simple enough, plain as can be when once the eyes of our understanding open to a comprehension of the greater heights and depths and lengths and breadths of the love of God, and much clearer than we had at first anticipated.
THE TWO DIVISIONS OF THE DAY OF ATONEMENT WORK
The same blessing is represented similarly in the types of the day of atonement. That day was for the purpose of making atonement for the sins of "all the people," all Israel, who typified all mankind of all nations redeemed by the precious blood of Christ who will enter the covenant relationship with God at any time by reason of the blood of the atonement.
After making this general statement respecting the work of the whole day of atonement, the type proceeds to particularize, and tells first of the sacrifice of the bullock, and, as we have just seen, shows that its blood was applied in a restricted sense-not for all Israel, not for all the people, who will eventually become God's covenant people through the benefits of the atonement. The merits of the sacrifice of the bullock were typically applied to those constituting the under priesthood (the body of the high priest), whose antitype is the little flock, the Royal Priesthood, the tribe of Levi, the [NS203] priestly family, representing the antitypical "household of faith" developed before the Millennial age. The first part of the atonement, we see, was separate and distinct from the after outpouring of the Spirit, which is to be general-upon all flesh. The second part of the atonement sacrifice-namely, the sacrifice of the Lord's goat-was performed by the same priest and represented the participation of the Lord's faithful footstep followers with him in this great work. It is his work, not ours; but he accepts us as members of his body, and permits us as such to share with him in his work of sacrifice.
He permits us to suffer with him, to lay down our lives for the brethren, "to be dead with him," and in all this we are counted as "filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ;" so that really the entire period from the Lord's baptism of the holy Spirit down to the end of this age is the day of atonement. The important feature of it all was that performed by our Redeemer himself, which he finished at Calvary. In consequence of that sacrifice, we, his consecrated followers, are "accepted in the Beloved," and privileged to die with him as members of his body.
It is to this end that the Pentecostal blessing of the holy Spirit has been poured out upon the servants and handmaidens of the Lord throughout this Gospel age- to enable them to walk in the footsteps of their Lord, to present their bodies living sacrifices, holy, acceptable to God, and, because counted in as members of the body of Christ and suffering in this present time, to be glorified as soon as the number is complete and the sufferings and testings accomplished. According to the type, on the completion of the Church-the last member of the elect having made his calling and election sure, having finished his course with joy, having had fellowship with Christ in his death-the blood of the second sacrifice of the atonement will be offered to Justice.
It is all Christ's offering, since we are nothing of ourselves, but have our entire standing before the Father as reckonedly members of the body of Christ-a Royal Priesthood under a Royal High Priest. As the Father accepted first of all the atonement sacrifice and blessed our Lord and sent the holy Spirit upon the Church, so, when the second sacrifice shall have been offered, we may be confident that the remaining portion of Joel's prophecy will have ample fulfilment-the holy Spirit will be poured out upon all flesh.
DOES NOT IMPLY UNIVERSALISM
As the holy Spirit was poured out upon the waiting believers by the Lord, so the Lord and those believers glorified with him in the Kingdom will pour out the Father's blessing of restitution, of knowledge of God and spiritual assistances, upon all mankind; and in full harmony with this is the statement of the Prophet respecting that glorious Millennial period, "The knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth as the waters cover the great deep. And they shall no more teach every man his neighbor and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, because all shall know him from the least of them to the greatest of them, saith the Lord!" [Hab. 2:14; Jer. 31:34]
This does not mean universal salvation, but a universal opportunity for securing "the gift of God, everlasting life" on condition of obedience. As the alternative of wilful sin now incurred by the "servants and handmaids" is Second Death, so the same alternative confronts the world of mankind, "all flesh," when blest by the enlightenment of the holy Spirit during the Millennium. The servants and handmaids of the Lord have needed the refreshment and guidance of the holy Spirit throughout this Gospel age, and without it none of us could surely hope to fight a good fight against the world, the flesh and the Adversary.
Without it we should be unable to comprehend the spiritual things, and consequently unable to grasp the blessings that are freely given unto us of God in the present time, as well as unable to appreciate the things which eye hath not seen nor ear heard, nor hath entered into the heart of man-the things God hath in reservation for them that love him, which God hath revealed unto us by his Spirit. (1 Cor. 2:9, 11)
O, how much the Pentecostal blessing, the spirit of adoption, the seal of our sonship, means to us who are seeking to make our calling and election sure to those heavenly things to which the Lord has called us-the heavenly Kingdom and its glory, honor and immortality! Let me guard you, however, against a serious error into which many saintly people seem disposed to fall. They seem to expect Pentecostal blessings individually and collectively yearly, or at least every few years, and some continually entreat the Lord in every prayer for a repetition of that Pentecostal outpouring of divine favor-the holy Spirit. This is the result of a misconception. The Pentecostal outpouring of the holy Spirit was not merely for nor upon the early Church, but equally upon any and all of us who are their successors throughout this age. It needs no repetition. To illustrate: Consider our Lord Jesus, upon whom first of all the holy Spirit was shed forth by the Father at the time of his baptism at Jordan at the beginning of his ministry.
He needed not to go yearly to Jordan to receive fresh baptisms; he needed not to receive them anywhere. The baptism which he received continued with him-the holy Spirit granted once was not withdrawn. Its withdrawal would have meant his death as a New Creature. The blessing which came to the Church [NS204] at Pentecost was part of that same blessing which came to our Lord Jesus, the Head. The whole transaction was typically represented in the anointing of Aaron, the typical high priest. The anointing oil was all poured upon the Head, and Aaron's head typified our Lord Jesus, whom God hath given to be Head over the Church, which is his body. (Eph. 1:22, 23)
God gave not the Spirit by measure unto him, is the record. It was poured out without limit, without stint; but it did not reach the body until Pentecost. The body could not be accepted or recognized of the Father until the atonement for our sins had been made with the precious blood; but the atonement having been applied and accepted, the holy Spirit was poured out. In the type this was represented by the holy anointing oil running down from the head to the body.
THE CHURCH ONE ANOINTED BODY-THE CHRIST
Mark how the Prophet David draws this to our attention, assuring us that the anointing oil ran down Aaron's beard and over all of his body even to the skirts of his garments. The Pentecostal blessing is abundant for all of the members of the body of Christ. When by faith and obedience, justification and sanctification, we come into membership in the body of Christ, we come under this which was represented in the type by the holy anointing oil-the antitype of which is the holy Spirit. If ever we are "cut off" as branches which do not bear fruitage, it would mean our total separation from the Lord and his Spirit, the anointing which we have received of him and which constitutes the earnest or foretaste of our inheritance. The inheritance will be attained in the life-resurrection promised to all the faithful. Our petitions, therefore, properly contain no requests for fresh Pentecosts, even as in the petitions of our Lord and the disciples such requests are not to be found.
Nevertheless it is entirely proper for us to pray with the apostles that the holy Spirit may abound more and more in us, and to be in accord with our Lord's sentiment when he said that the Father is more willing to give the holy Spirit to them that ask him than earthly parents are to give good gifts unto their children. This giving of the holy Spirit enjoined in the Scriptures and appreciated by us should not be confounded with the Pentecostal blessing, which was never repeated except on one occasion, namely, when the Lord marked the acceptance of Cornelius, the first Gentile convert, and thus taught the lesson that henceforth there would be no distinction between Jew and Gentile as respects the favors of the divine promises.
What then do we mean if we ask to be more and more filled with the holy Spirit if we do not mean new Pentecostal endowments? The thought is that when we come into union with Christ through the consecration of our hearts and wills, when we are accepted as members of his body, all the blessings of God represented at Pentecost belong to us, not as individuals but as members of the anointed Church. As members of the anointed body, under divine favor and leadings, it is our privilege to grow in grace, in knowledge, and in all the fruits of the Spirit. At the beginning of our consecration, we surrendered our own sweet wills that we might take the Lord's will in every particular, that we might have the Lord's Spirit in respect to all of life's affairs; but it is one thing to will and another thing to receive. The surrendering of our wills, so as to desire to have the heavenly Father's will, spirit, disposition, mind, dwell in us, is the act of a moment, but it requires days and months and years to become fully transformed by the renewing of our minds. Rom. 12:2
Gradually the Lord's favor toward us, as members of the anointed body, permits us to see the lengths and breadths and heights and depths in his love and in his character, and as we see this the transforming influences in our own thoughts and conduct progress. As the Spirit of the Lord comes into our lives we come more and more to love things which at one time we did not love and appreciate and to hate things which at one time seemed to have little or nothing objectionable in them. Right and wrong have remained fixed as they were, but our views of them have changed as we have, under the guidance and blessing of the Lord, made progress from grace to grace and from knowledge to knowledge.
The National Labor Tribune, June 11, 1905 ORDAINED PREACHERS AND HEARERS
Allegheny, Pa., June 11-Pastor Russell had a good audience Sunday afternoon at Carnegie Hall, Allegheny. Close attention was paid to the discourse, which was from the prophecy of Isaiah, "The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because Jehovah hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek." Isa. 61:1
Our text applied primarily to our Lord Jesus and his anointing of the holy Spirit and his preaching, but, as we have heretofore seen, the Scriptures with one voice declare that as Jesus is the Head of the Church, which [NS205] is his body, so all the members of that body participate with him in the anointing of the holy Spirit and also in the ministry of the Truth. This might be abundantly established by Scriptural testimony, but we assume that the majority of our hearers are thoroughly acquainted with the Apostle's explicit statements to the effect that we are members in particular of the body of Christ, and are filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in the present time, and are to be associated with our Lord in glory, according to his promise that to him that overcometh he will grant to sit with him in his throne, in harmony also with the declaration that if we suffer with him we shall also be glorified together.
It is, therefore, proper that we apply the words of this text not only to our Lord Jesus himself, but also to all whom his Word recognizes as members of his body, members of his Church-namely, to those believers in the redemptive work of Christ who have accepted the same personally, who have turned from sin to walk in the ways of righteousness, and who have consecrated their lives wholly and unreservedly to the service of the Lord.
THE ANOINTING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
A week ago we considered the Pentecostal blessing upon the Church, and discerned that it constituted an anointing of the Lord-a setting apart to divine service, an enduement with power from on high, spiritual power, a new mind, a clearer perception of spiritual things and ability to understand and appreciate and cooperate with the divine purposes. Our text tells us that this anointing with the holy Spirit constitutes an ordination to preach, and a moment's reflection convinces us that none could be properly qualified to represent the Lord and his Truth unless he was thus qualified and anointed and able to discern the spiritual things, because who can express to others that which he does not discern and appreciate himself?
How could anyone declare the mysteries of God and of his plan unless first of all his own eyes of understanding had been opened and his own heart had been enlightened, permitting such an appreciation and making possible a truthful setting forth of the same to others? True, in the early Church the anointing of the holy Spirit was accompanied by certain outward demonstrations which are not now granted to the anointed ones.
These outward demonstrations or evidences of the anointing were called "gifts," and consisted of power to heal disease by the word or the touch, the gift of prophesying or public speaking, power to speak in unknown tongues-in languages that had never been learned-power to interpret such tongues or languages, power to discern spirits, to read thoughts, as when Peter read the hearts of Ananias and Sapphira when they attempted to deceive, etc. These "gifts" we can readily see were valuable to the early Church for the establishment of their own faith, for the demonstration to others that they were really the people of the Lord, and for their own upbuilding in grace and knowledge at a time when the New Testament was not prepared and its aid in the study of the divine plan was not available.
But, as the Apostle intimated, these "gifts" having served their purpose would pass away, and would be succeeded by certain "fruits" of the Spirit. To the natural man the "gifts" might seem to be the more valuable, but to the advanced Christian the fruits of the Spirit will be seen to be more desirable and the better attestation of divine favor. Speaking of these fruits of the Spirit, meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, brotherly kindness, faith, hope, love, the Apostle assures us that love is the principal one, and really includes all the other fruits of the Spirit. All other fruits and graces of the Spirit are merely elementary developments, part of that quality which in its completeness is called love, and which by our Lord is explained to mean, love to God with all our hearts, minds, being, strength, and love for our neighbor as for ourselves.
DISCERNING ANOINTED ONES
Our Lord assures us that as a good tree will be known by its good fruit and an evil tree by its evil fruit, so his followers will be known by their possession of the holy Spirit and the fruits and graces which they will manifest in their daily lives. This does not signify that those who are begotten of the holy Spirit or, as expressed in this text, anointed with the holy Spirit, will be perfect in the flesh. Quite to the contrary-it is not the flesh which is begotten again, it is the New Creature, the new mind, the new will.
The anointing received as New Creatures manifests itself by its opposition to sin, its harmony with righteousness, its sympathy with everything that goes to make up the divine standard of character and co-operation with the divine plan. At first it is a mere likeness of the principles of righteousness, meekness, gentleness, patience, love, and a desire to develop in these graces of the Spirit; but subsequently, as this anointing abides and Christian character develops these traits become more and more manifest, not only to the person himself, but through his conduct to others. This growth in grace, in knowledge, in love; this is the development of the fruits of the Spirit. Just as the apple blossom precedes the little nubbin of fruit, and as this gradually enlarges and matures, so do these graces of the spirit gradually develop in the hearts of those who have been begotten again by the holy Spirit, by the Word of Truth. [NS206]
"THE WORLD KNOWETH US NOT"
The world understands nothing about this begetting of the holy Spirit, this spirit of a new mind or will in accord with righteousness. It understands nothing about this anointing of the holy Spirit, under the influence of which old things pass away and new hopes and aims and objects in life take their places. But each one who has passed through these experiences understands them; each one begotten again is aware of the change in his mind, his will knows that he has consecrated his life to righteousness and to the Lord's service, and realizes that an anointing has come to him. Such are able to sympathize with one another, to discern the new mind one of another, and to sympathize with one another in the conflicts of this new will with the spirit of the world and with the flesh and its desires.
Hence the Scriptures exhort the Spirit begotten ones to special love and sympathy one with another in a manner that others cannot, because the world knoweth us not even as it knew him not, and because our sympathy and fellowship must be with those who are similarly begotten to the new nature and inspired by the new hope. The outward manifestations of these graces or fruits may be more or less rapid according to temperament, environment and zeal, but in every case the new mind, the new spirit, the new nature will be able to identify itself to others similarly spirit-begotten.
And this anointing of the Spirit, wherever it is recognized, constitutes the bond of fellowship and brotherhood in Christ. It is not only the spirit of consecration, but also the spirit of the Truth, which signifies the enlightenment or illumination through the divine revelation of the Scriptures. It signifies, therefore, a growing knowledge not only respecting God's plan of salvation and our relationship to it, but also a personal intimacy with the Lord.
ORDAINED AND UNORDAINED PREACHERS
According to our text none have ordination of God to act as his mouthpieces except they have received this anointing. Such may be known by the fruits of the Spirit, which all the Spirit-begotten ones will soon be able to detect, and which will more or less be manifest also to the world, although the world will not know how to make allowances for having the treasure of the new mind in an imperfect human vessel, although the world will not know how to sympathize with the weaknesses of the fallen flesh, and may often be apt to denounce and condemn those who are walking to the best of their ability not after the flesh but after the Spirit.
We fear, however, that if this line were distinctly seen, sharply drawn, many who are now prominent ministers, reverends, doctors of divinity, would be seen to be barred from the Lord's service. Many of them have had ordination from men but have never had the ordination of God, and hence are unable to see spiritual things themselves and equally incompetent to present such things to others. They have not been anointed or ordained of the Lord to preach. On the other hand many of the Lord's people misled by the human distinctions between clergy and laity and the privileges and limitations accorded to these by Churchianity, fail to recognize that they are ordained to preach, and that unless they are continually preaching they are failing to accomplish the divine will-failing to fulfill the ordination which was granted them of the Lord when they received the anointing of the holy Spirit.
This does not mean, however, that all who are anointed of the holy Spirit are appointed of the Lord to preach in the same manner, for, as the Apostle would explain, we have gifts differing one from another, and, our opportunities in life are amongst these talents. For instance, some may have the talent for presenting the divine message of mercy and truth in a private manner, and may be very effective in their ministries, in their services; others may have the talents and opportunities for more public service. The sisters, for instance, are not Scripturally authorized to engage in the more public functions of preaching, but they, nevertheless, have glorious opportunities in a more private way of showing forth the praises of him who has called us from darkness into his marvelous light and who has anointed us to preach, to declare, to make known, the good tidings.
"LIVING EPISTLES KNOWN AND READ OF ALL"
As an illustration of forceful preaching of a female member of the anointed body, I want to tell you of a little incident which occurred on my last visit to the friends in New York City. Following the afternoon service an apparently very intelligent and accomplished lady sought a private interview for a few moments, in which she requested my prayers that she might be enabled to see and fully grasp the Divine Plan of the Ages, and to come to the point of a full consecration of her heart that she might enjoy the anointing of the holy Spirit. She explained that for years she had been an agnostic, a total unbeliever in Christianity and the Bible, and that her friends and acquaintances were honorable people of the same class.
I inquired how she had become interested so as to attend the meeting. She replied that she had a sister-in-law who had received the glorious message of the divine plan as set forth in MILLENNIAL DAWN, and that the Truth had made [NS207] such a wonderful change in her sister's character, disposition, etc., every way, that she was convinced that there was a power of God in connection with his Word that she had never dreamed of, a power which by its fruit attested that it was of God. She said, "I have never known an instance of such a wonderful transformation of character as that which occurred in my sister-in-law, and I came to the meeting today that I might begin to learn the ways of the Lord. After this sort and for this reason I am asking your prayers to this end."
Who could deny that the sister who had received that anointing and whose life had given that testimony had been preaching the good tidings in a most effective manner? Who could say that because as a sister she was not ordained to a public ministry that she was therefore debarred from the blessed privilege of showing forth the praises of him who hath called us from darkness to light? The Apostle tells us that this is true of all of us; that the world which will not read books and tracts and which cares not to attend preaching will read our living epistles, our daily lives, and in harmony with the Apostle, we exhort that all shall thus preach day by day the glorious message of our great salvation which is of God in Christ Jesus.
WHAT WE ARE TO PREACH
It should be noticed that we are to preach the good tidings, not bad tidings of great misery. We remember the theme of the angels' song at the announcement of our Lord's birth, "We bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be unto all people."
So here the anointing which we receive of the Lord is that which leads us to declare the good tidings of this great salvation in all its lengths and breadths and heights and depths. Alas, that for centuries the good tidings of great joy has been overwhelmed by the loud voices of churchianity, which, during the Dark Ages, have misrepresented our heavenly Father's plan, misinterpreted and twisted his Word, giving the impression that he is the great adversary of our race, who even before we were created prepared for the great majority of us, a place for our torment, making all the preparations for fuel, and fireproof demons for our injury.
Alas, that some of us who are his children, and who had received of the anointing of his spirit, should for a moment have imagined that such a message was the one referred to as the good tidings for the meek, the good tidings of great joy. How glad we are that in the dawning of the Millennial morning the shadows are beginning to flee away, and the glorious light of the goodness of God is beginning to be seen shining in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord.
TO WHOM SHALL WE PREACH?
Amongst the grievous mistakes of the Dark Ages and the legitimate outgrowth of its misconceptions of God's plan has been the thought that the Gospel is to be preached to the wicked, to railers, to blasphemers, to the hard-hearted, etc. Nothing is further from the teaching of God's Word nor from the example of our Lord Jesus and his apostles.
Our text states the matter properly, saying, that our ordination, our anointing, was to preach the good tidings to the meek-to those who manifest a humble attitude of mind, a teachable spirit; to those who desire to know the truth, who manifest a hungering and thirsting after righteousness; to those who realize to some extent their own blindness and who desire to see the light. Our commission is to preach the good tidings to these. Notice how our Lord and the apostles followed this course. Our Lord in sending forth his apostles in the end of the Jewish age limited their endeavors to the Jewish nation, which for centuries had been under divine instruction through the Law and the prophets. His words are, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles (heathen) and into the cities of the Samaritans (a semi-religious people) enter ye not; for I am not sent save to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." [Matt. 10:5,6]
True, subsequently, after his death and resurrection, the apostles and all of the Lord's people were fully commissioned to carry the message of salvation also to the Gentiles, to the heathen-to preach the Gospel to every creature without restriction as to their relationship to the favored nation of Israel-to every person whom they might meet in whom they should find the ear to hear, the spirit of meekness and desire to know the way of God and his salvation. This is the same commission to us still, and our course should be the same.
We should understand that the message of God's favor is to whoever has a desire to know it, and that such only are the meek, and this would mean that where we find special evidences of a lack of meekness that we should desist from efforts in those directions and should confine our labors to the most promising fields. Such was the course of the Apostles. Wherever they went they first sought out the most religious people to preach to them.
Of course if the time should ever come when all those who are meek and show a desire to know the way of the Lord should have been fully instructed, and there should be no more opportunity to preach to them, we might go to the froward, the proud, the boastful, the disdainful, the self-righteous, the wicked, the hard hearted, but we have no reason to expect that our labors would have success with that class if we preach the true message. They require another kind of treatment, a kind of treatment which the Lord proposes to give them in the Millennial age which shall follow this present age and of which we shall have more to say again. [NS208] "The meek will he guide in judgment, the meek he will teach his ways." (Psa. 25:9)
The Lord in this present age is choosing out of the world a little flock, a peculiar people. He wishes to instruct them and develop them and fit them to be the Royal Priesthood of the coming associates as members of his body in the great Kingdom work then to be inaugurated for the blessing of the world in general, including the unmeek-to then bring to the knowledge of every creature, under the most favorable conditions and terms, the mercy of God, to the intent that they may then hear and be blessed.
Even the meek will have plenty to do to learn the necessary lessons of faith and obedience in the school of Christ, walking in the narrow way. Since the Scriptures, then, are so explicit as to the class whom the anointed should seek to reach with the Lord's message, how comes it that Churchianity in general has made so great a mistake as to consider that its special mission was to the opposite class, and that the meek need no instruction, need no guidance, need no conversion, etc. We answer that an erroneous doctrine of everlasting torment is responsible for the mistaken view, under the teaching that all the world was condemned through Adam to eternal torment, and that only those who are accepted of Christ would be saved from that awful fate.
The tendency was to count the naturally meek and gentle as already saved and to give them little attention, expending effort mainly upon the wicked, the vile, the perverse. A discernment of the Divine Plan of the Ages helps to set this matter straight again and to show us why, as above, the Church is now being selected from amongst the meek only, from amongst the teachable, and that the work of the Lord for the great mass of the world, the unmeek, the unfit even for the training of this Gospel age, is left for the next age, for the Millennial age.
In some respects it is a mercy and a blessing that the world is in large measure blind and deaf, and therefore in the same proportion irresponsible as respects the message now being delivered to the meek, who may have ears to hear and eyes to see. It is with these as it was with the scribes and Pharisees and doctors of divinity who conspired against our Lord and put him to death. Their guilt would have been terrible had they really known what they were doing, but committed in ignorance, their great sin will be forgiven, as our Lord declared, "All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men... and whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him."
As the Lord through the prophet intimates, "I will pour upon them the spirit of prayer and of supplication, and they shall look upon him whom they have pierced and shall mourn"-in that day-in the Millennial day, when the new order of things will be introduced and when the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth, scattering all its darkness and blindness.
"PREACH THE WORD"
I am addressing the meek class, and particularly those of this class who have received the anointing of the holy Spirit, all of whom, therefore, are commissioned or privileged to preach, but have the responsibility also of doing this to the meek wherever they may find them. I am sure that I voice your sentiments and tell your experiences when I say that in proportion as you have been loyal to the anointing you have received, in proportion as you have self-sacrificingly endeavored to show forth the praises of the Lord and his wonderful plan of salvation, in that same proportion has been your own heart-development and growth in grace and in knowledge; and in proportion as you may have allowed fear and other considerations to hinder you from telling the good tidings, in that proportion you have failed to make progress and have experienced leanness of soul.
Let us more and more appreciate this blessing of the Lord, our anointing, and let us by word of mouth, by pen, by printed page and by our living epistles day by day, tell all the meek the good tidings of the great salvation which is of God in Christ Jesus, a salvation which now affects the heart, the life, the hopes, every interest of this present life, and which extends into the future, assuring us of a completion of salvation in the resurrection, and that if faithful we shall then enter into the joys of our Lord and be participants with him in the Millennial Kingdom to bless the world.
The National Labor Tribune, June 18, 1905 THE TRUE GOSPEL AND ITS EFFECTS
Pastor C. T. Russell preached in Carnegie Hall at 3 p. m. last Sunday. His topic was "The true Gospel and its effect," from the text, "He hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound." (Isa. 61:1)
He said: [NS209] On last Lord's day we considered the forepart of this same verse of Scripture, and saw the particular class ordained of God to be the preachers of his Gospel, and the particular class, the meek, predestined hearers of it. Today we noticed some of the particular features of this Gospel. It is well known to all of you that the word Gospel signifies "good tidings," or a joyful message, and yet we all know that what is usually understood to be a Gospel sermon is one of bad tidings of great misery to nearly all people. This however is merely a false definition, a slander which has come down to us from the dark ages. The word gospel as used throughout the Scriptures has its one legitimate meaning, as illustrated, for instance, in the message which the angels delivered when announcing the birth of our Redeemer. They said, "Behold, we bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people." [Luke 2:10]
Similarly our text prophesied that Christ, and all the members of his body anointed to preach, would similarly preach good tidings of great joy for all people. Our text does not phrase the matter in these particular words, but this is its meaning. It declares that the good tidings, the message of joy, is liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to those that are in bondage. There is one great prison-house, which, for the number of its prisoners and the security with which it holds them, has no competitor on earth-it is the prison-house of death. From its bondage none can free themselves. There is but one key to this prison: it was held by Justice for over four thousand years, while hundreds of millions of the race went into the prison. Nearly nineteen hundred years ago Justice disposed of the key to this great prison-turned it over to Jesus and the mercy and love which he represents.
The key-that is, the power, the authority, the ability to open the prison-is now fully and completely in the hands of him who redeemed us with his own precious blood-in the hands of him who bought all the prisoners, who paid the death penalty and who on this account is fully authorized by Justice to release the prisoners.
THE BEGINNING OF THE FULFILMENT
It will be remembered that our Lord Jesus made personal application of this prophecy to himself. Entering into the synagogue at Capernaum he was recognized as a man of letters and asked to read a selection from the book of Isaiah. He read our text and said, "This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears." (Luke 4:21)
He was then and there declaring the opening of the prison doors and the release of the prisoners. He had no reference to the inferior prisons amongst men: John the Baptist was in Herods' prison at that very time, and the Lord neither mentioned his deliverance nor attempted it. His work was on a grander scale: he was redeeming the whole world of mankind from the prison-house of death, in which Justice had shut them up under the divine sentence when Eden was forfeited by disobedience.
In virtue of his thus paying the redemption price for the sins of the whole world he was privileged by the holy Spirit upon him to declare that the time would come when the prison-doors would be opened, when the prisoners would be set at liberty; and he did declare this, saying, "The hour is coming when all that are in their graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth." [John 5:28, 29]
All in the prison-house shall be delivered not one shall be left. John 5:25, 28 This declaration of the wholesale prison delivery does not, however, as some might suppose, imply a universal salvation. It merely implies a salvation or deliverance from the tomb, from the Adamic sentence of death. Such a deliverance, associated with the new conditions of the thousand-year day of deliverance, the Millennial age, means that all the families of the earth-involved in father Adam's sentence and imprisoned in death on that account-shall be set free therefrom, to the intent that they may have a full, gracious opportunity of knowing right from wrong, good from evil, of coming to a knowledge of the Lord and to an opportunity for eternal life through faith and obedience.
Whoever then enjoying those glorious opportunities shall sin wilfully, deliberately, rejecting the favor of God, preferring sin, shall die the second death -shall go into the prison-house a second time and be then without hope of any deliverance, for Christ will die no more for any, neither will any be granted more than one full, complete opportunity for attaining everlasting life through faith and obedience to Christ. A moderate estimate of the number of the children of Adam born in sin, shapen in iniquity and dying under the Adamic sentence, the curse, is 20,000,000,000. These are in the great prison-house of death. None can redeem his brother nor give God a ransom for him, none can redeem himself, none can pay his own penalty and have anything left. (Psa. 49:7)
True, there is some suffering associated with dying but no suffering associated with the death state. Thus Adam suffered during the nine hundred and thirty years in which he was dying, but as soon as the dying had reached its culmination in death he suffered no more. As the Scriptures declare, "The dead know not anything"; and again, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might, because there is neither wisdom nor knowledge nor device in the [NS210] grave (sheol) whither thou goest." Eze. 18:4; Eccl. 9:5, 10
A KNOWLEDGE OF THE PENALTY
To be rightly informed, then, respecting the penalty for sin is to be comforted to the extent of realizing that the aches and pains incidental to the dying cease there. There the hope comes in, the Gospel hope, the resurrection hope, the hope expressed by the prophet- "Thy dead men shall live;" and again, "I will ransom them from the grave (sheol, hades)." Isa. 26:19; Hos. 13:14
Surely this is good tidings of great joy, and shortly it shall be unto all, the Lord hath spoken it. To the extent that we can hear this message with the unstopped ears of our understanding, to the extent that we can see this to be the plan of God with the eyes of our understanding, to the same extent we may rejoice, we may be glad, we may feel relief, we may exercise the good hope that maketh not ashamed.
We may know that thousands of millions of the heathen, who have never heard of the only name given under heaven and among men whereby we must be saved, are not to be lost eternally, but only kept in the prison-house, in bondage to sin and death, until the Lord's due time shall come for the opening of the prison doors, when they-are to be called forth from the sleep of death. Similarly, millions who have lived and died in Christian lands, but who have been far from saints should not be considered as hopelessly condemned to the second death, for inasmuch as they have only partial light and partial knowledge of the Lord and his plan, so they have only had a partial responsibility. True, the measure of their light is the measure of their responsibility, and to whom much is given of him will much be required, and where sin has been committed against light and knowledge, just stripes or punishments will be inflicted, but not hopeless, endless torture and agony, such as the creeds of the dark ages have declared.
Those who have misused opportunities of the present life will come forth from the prison-house of death during the Millennial age impoverished and degraded in character, in proportion as they violated their consciences in opposing righteousness to the extent that they discerned it. But inasmuch as their light was not full, neither was their responsibility full and complete, and a full opportunity for coming to a knowledge of the Lord and to obedience to his commands is granted and assured to every son and daughter of Adam. No progress is made in this prison, no lessons are taught there, no stripes or punishments are given there. As a man goes into the prison so he will come out of it so far as moral qualities are concerned.
When we discern that the world up to the time of Christ's first advent was not redeemed, and that con- sequently any reference to the resurrection of the dead and the incidental blessings were vague prophecies, we can see the meaning of our text, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me . . . to declare liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound." [Isa. 61:1]
It was quite proper indeed that any explicit statement of this great deliverance should not be made until the great deliverer himself had appeared and had begun the work of redemption. It is in full accord with this that the Apostle declares, "Christ hath brought life and immortality to light through the good tidings." (2 Tim. 1:10)
Jesus without the resurrection power would have been no savior-the resurrection without Jesus and his redemptive work would have been impossible. Jesus and the resurrection, therefore, are indissolubly united, and should be so recognized by every follower of the Lord.
THE MESSAGE OF THE ORDAINED
We saw on last Lord's Day that the commission to preach, the anointing of the Spirit for the preaching, came first upon our Lord Jesus and subsequently upon all united to him through faith and consecration, styled in the Scriptures, "his body," "members in particular of the body of Christ," "the Royal Priesthood." (Col 1:24; 1 Cor. 12:27; 1 Pet. 2:9)
And as now we have seen that the very essence of our Lord's preaching was the resurrection of the dead, the deliverance of the captives from sin and from death in due time appointed by the Father, so this constitutes the true and proper Gospel message which all the followers of Christ should be preaching every day by word and by deed.
This being true, it follows that a great deal of improper preaching is going on, a great deal that is not under the guidance of the holy Spirit; a great deal that the people were not annointed to preach is being declared. All the more those who discern the real annointing and who discern the real message should be instant in season and out of season in its promulgation. Notice that the apostles were continually preaching of this deliverance of the prisoners from the prison-house. In every epistle, directly or indirectly, they refer to this either by directly mentioning the resurrection of the dead or by speaking of the second coming of Christ, and indirectly referring to the work which will then be accomplished by him and his glorified Church. For instance, notice the Apostle Paul's reference to these prisoners: he says, "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth together in pain until now." [Rom. 8:22]
Each generation in its turn has had its share of sorrow and pain [NS211] and suffering and dying, and the dead are prisoners of hope-not that they generally entertain any hope of their own, but those who have a knowledge of God and of his plan as scribes instructed in the matters of the Kingdom have a hope for them, seeing in God's plan this declaration that all the prisoners shall be released, that all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and come forth, that Jesus has the key, and shortly at the establishment of this Kingdom he will use it in resurrecting the groaning creation.
HEALING FOR BROKEN HEARTS
We have taken a hasty glance at the message itself, the Gospel proclamation, the good tidings of coming joy for all people. We have seen that this is the message that all anointed of the Lord should be declaring. We now inquire, What should be the results of this preaching? Our text tells us of one particular result, namely, to bind up the brokenhearted. Here again we see the difference between the preaching authorized by the anointing and the unauthorized preaching. The wrong preaching of bad tidings of great misery for nearly all people lacerates the hearts of the very best of humanity when already they are broken with sorrow and trouble.
But the good tidings, the real Gospel authorized by our anointing, brings balm and peace to the wounded heart and binds it up, heals it, refreshes it, encourages it. How unjust it would seem that our race, born in sin and shapen in iniquity, and justly sent to the prison-house of death, should be still further tortured and pained with threats of an eternity of indescribable anguish! How unlike the Lord to either prepare such a place of eternal anguish or to send a message respecting it to be a torture to those of best heart, of most loving and tender sentiments!
But how like the Lord that, having justly sentenced us to the prison-house of death, and having justly and with love redeemed us from it, he should also commission the Royal Priesthood through the anointing of the holy Spirit to tell these good tidings of the coming deliverance of the captives, to encourage their hearts, to refresh them, to bind up their broken hearts. Ah, yes, we remember the word of the Lord through the prophet, saying, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my plans higher than your plans." [Isa. 55:9]
The adversary has been for centuries traducing the divine character and the divine plan and persuading men that the Almighty Creator is the real demon, the real foe to all human happiness and peace in the present and in the life to come. What a refreshing it brings to all to learn again through the words of the prophet, "Their fear toward me is not of me, but is taught by the precepts of men." Isa. 29:13
Nor should it be thought that there are no broken hearts, that all are hard hearted, stony-hearted, feelingless. Some of the most tender-hearted of humanity are those who have passed through veritable threshing machine experiences with sorrow and suffering, disappointment and pain; the plowshare of trouble has gone deeply into their hearts and broken up fallow ground, giving them sympathies and feelings which many others in the world know nothing about. One of these deeply sympathetic Christian women, a member of the Methodist Church, lost her husband in death, and was almost distracted with the thought that, because he had not been a member of any earthly Church, therefore he must have gone directly to eternal torment.
Ignorant of the true balm of Gilead, the true message of God's grace in Christ, ignorant of the assurances of the Scriptures that her husband was not in torment but in the great prison-house of death waiting for the awakening of the resurrection morning, she was almost distracted, almost went insane, unable to either eat or sleep. Her continual thought and expression was for her poor husband and his supposed suffering. How the message of the Lord concerning the prison-house and the prisoners and the redemption, and by and by the opening of the prison-doors and setting at liberty of the captives, brought refreshment and comfort to that poor heart. How peace came to her, how the broken heart was bound up by the message, how her entire life was changed, transformed, and how the peace of God which passeth all understanding came to rule in her life, and how she learned to trust and to love the God who before she had merely feared.
ANOTHER ILLUSTRATION OF THIS
Another dear Christian woman of tender heart, who has come to an understanding respecting the great prison-house and the ultimate release of all the prisoners by him who redeemed them by his precious blood, said to me not a great while ago, "I never had peace until I learned the truth respecting the prison-house of death and the deliverance of all the prisoners in God's due time. I had a saintly father, a minister in the Presbyterian Church, and, although I knew not a single blot against his character, I feared as I stood beside his casket, for I thought, Who can tell that there may not have been some secret sin which would render him unfit for divine approval in heaven and place him amongst those who were disapproved and a sharer in their fate, which at that time I believed to be eternal torment."
Ah! how she thanked God that she had heard the real Gospel, the real good tidings, and how it bound up her broken heart. [NS212]
NOT OUR MISSION TO BREAK HEARTS
None of the class mentioned in our text as anointed with the Spirit are commissioned to break hearts. We are aware that many, realizing that the world is hardhearted, have misconceived the Lord's message, and have anointed and authorized themselves to preach a message to break hearts. The number of these is gradually decreasing. Once they occupied nearly every pulpit; their messages of eternal torment for all except the elect, the saints, the holy, were of a piece with the practices of the dark ages, when, in the name of God and the merciful Savior, all manner of tortures were inflicted, even to burning at the stake.
Thank God the natural man is awakening to a better sense of propriety, and no longer thinks he is anointed to preach such a message. Thank God these heart-breaking discourses are becoming fewer and fewer. We are well aware that some fear the result, and believe that in consequence the world will become more openly wicked. We reply that there is a danger in this direction, but one which can not be avoided, for the world will no longer receive the doctrines of the dark ages. The danger is that having been taught that eternal torment was the divine plan for humanity in general, the masses of mankind will not only drop the thought but drop the Bible and all faith in a revelation from God. The danger is thus in a general infidelity.
The true remedy for the difficulty lies in the showing that the Bible does not teach the absurd and devilish doctrines of the dark ages; that it does teach a reasonable wage or penalty for sin, "the wages of sin is death;" that it does teach a redemption for Adam and the whole human family through the precious blood of Christ; that it does teach that, in consequence of this, the time is coming when all mankind shall be granted a full opportunity of coming into harmony with God, and that every wilful and intelligent disobedience to God injures future prospects. There are plenty of agencies in the world for the breaking of hearts, but only the one balm of Gilead and only one class of people who can heal the brokenhearted with the message of divine love and grace, redemption and deliverance. The world is full of trouble. Every home, as a rule, has in it heart-breakers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of them that are good, unthankful, unholy, disobedient to parents. (2 Tim. 3:3)
In addition to these heart-breakers are financial and social troubles. So, on the whole, nearly all who are right-minded and tender-hearted have full opportunity for becoming heart-broken and thus being prepared and caused to hunger and thirst for God's good message of salvation through Christ and his Kingdom. As for the breaking of the hearts of the wicked, that will come in due time.
The great time of trouble that is just impending, according to the description given in God's Word, will break many hearts, and break up the fallow ground of the world's heart, preparing it for the good seed, the good tidings of great joy for all people through him who loved us and bought us with his precious blood. Let sin and suffering, disappointment and sorrow do their work in heart-breaking, while all who have been anointed as members of the body of Christ, the Royal Priesthood, are doing their part in binding up the broken-hearted by preaching to them the redemption and the ultimate deliverance of all the prisoners from the prison-house of death, the setting free of all the captives of sin in the Lord's due time in the Kingdom, in the Millennial age.
The National Labor Tribune, June 25, 1905 NOW IS THE ACCEPTED TIME NOW IS THE DAY OF SALVATION
Philadelphia, Pa. June 25-Pastor C. T. Russell of Allegheny, Pa., preached twice here today in Horticultural Hall, to large and intelligent audiences. We report his evening discourse in full from the text, -"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings . . . to proclaim the year of our Lord." Isa. 61:1, 2
We continue our topic of the last two Sundays, with which some of you are acquainted through the public press. As we have seen, the prophecy is referring to the message which Jesus presented, and which all the anointed members of his body throughout this Gospel age are also to preach to the teachable, the good tidings, message of divine favor which will bind up, heal and refresh the broken-hearted because it speaks liberty� to the captives of sin and death and the opening of the prison-doors of the tomb to all who lost life in Adam, all of whom shall be awakened and have the opportunity of everlasting life through the Redeemer in due time. Much is condensed into a few words by the prophet, and our special subject of investigation today is respecting the proclamation of the acceptable year of the Lord. What does this mean? What year with the Lord is more acceptable than any other? [NS213] We reply that no particular year was meant, and the translation would better have been, to proclaim the acceptable time, period, epoch. This acceptable epoch began with our Lord Jesus, who was accepted of the Father and anointed with the holy Spirit; it continues with the Church, the body of Christ, from the day of Pentecost until the present time, and will last until the very close of the Gospel age, until the last member of the elect Church shall have been accepted of God. With the close of this age this particular form of acceptance will be at an end.
For a time, at the beginning of the Gospel age, this acceptance was confined to the Jews-for the three and a half years following Pentecost. In that time the Gentiles were not acceptable to God, the door of favor toward them had not yet been opened. The Scriptures very clearly point us to the very moment when Peter used the second key of the Kingdom and opened the door of acceptance to the Gentiles, Cornelius being the first to enter. Speaking of that occurence and the conditions following it, Peter declared, "I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but that in every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted of him," not Jews merely as previously. (Acts 10:34, 35)
So it has been for now 1800 years, that all who love righteousness and desire to serve it and who accept Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life, all who become his sincere followers in the narrow way of discipleship and self-sacrifice, all these are accepted of God-but none others. The world in general is not accepted, the wicked are not accepted, the tare class, merely nominal professors, are not accepted of God-only the ones specified.
ONLY SACRIFICERS ACCEPTED
Let us carefully hearken to the Word of the Lord respecting this acceptable time and what class of people he will accept and upon what terms they will be accepted. This is an important question for all those who desire to be accepted of him, who desire to attain to the glorious things which God hath in reservation for them who love him. Hear the Apostle, "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God (of which you have heard, namely, the provision of a ransom price for the whole world with the precious sacrifice of Christ), that ye present your bodies living sacrifices, holy, acceptable to God, your reasonable service." (Rom. 12:1)
We see then that the Apostle uses this word acceptable to God in respect to the sacrifices which God�s people are invited to make of themselves. It was when our Lord Jesus, at thirty years of age, presented himself a living sacrifice to do the Father�s will, that he was accepted and anointed with the holy Spirit. It was his disciples, who had similarly consecrated their lives to be his followers and to lay down their lives in the service of the Truth, who were accepted of God at Pentecost and anointed with the holy Spirit; and it is the same class of self-sacrificing followers of the Lord who during this Gospel age have been acceptable to God as members of the body of Christ and joint sacrificers with him.
Their sacrifices are acceptable: that is to say, during this special period God is willing to accept such sacrifices. This same thought is conveyed in the types, for our Lord Jesus is spoken of as being the great High Priest, and his self-sacrificing followers are called the under priesthood, the Royal Priesthood.
The High Priest offered up himself an acceptable sacrifice to God, the under priests offering themselves up sacrifices to God, acceptable not because of morality or worthiness of their own but through the merit of him who loved them and bought them with his precious blood, and whose merit covers all their blemishes in the sight of the Father and constitutes their sacrifices acceptable to God. This sacrificing did not begin prior to our Lord Jesus-there were no priests of this order before him. There was a typical priesthood established in Israel, but their sacrificings were merely foreshadowings, types of this "better sacrifice." (Heb. 9:23)
True, there were some who laid down their lives in the Lord�s service and who gloriously witnessed the fidelity to righteousness of some of whom the world was not worthy, enumerated by the Apostle in Hebrews 11. But these were not accepted of the Lord in the special sense in which Christ and his followers are accepted. The Apostle, speaking by inspiration, makes this distinction between the ancient worthies and their loyalty to God and self-sacrifice in his service and the privilege, blessing, opportunity and favor of sacrifice granted to the Gospel Church. Speaking of these ancient worthies he says, All these died in faith, not having received the things promised, God having provided some better thing for us; that they apart from us should not be perfected. (Heb. 11:39, 40)
They will get their blessed reward, but it will not be as great as that of the Gospel Church, the Christ; nor will theirs take precedence, rather it will follow and be communicated to them through the glorified Christ, Head and body.
FAVOR UPON FAVOR IS OURS
In a word, then, we see that God�s plan as it eventually shall be worked out will mean the blessing and justification and uplift of all the families of the earth, but that God�s great plan for the overthrow of sin and death and for the deliverance of mankind from these adverse influences which have prevailed for six thousand years will be inaugurated at the second advent of our Lord. This acceptable time is in the interim between the great sacrifice accomplished at Calvary and the establishment of the Kingdom of God�s dear Son, [NS214] for which we pray "Thy Kingdom come."
It is during this interim that God extends a special favor or privilege to a certain class. The favor or privilege is that during this time he is willing to accept the limited number of sacrifices and willing to reckon the sacrificers as associated with his only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus, the great sacrificer.
When we come to see the grand rewards that attach to this sacrifice, when we come to understand that the sacrificers are to become heirs of God and associates with Jesus Christ their Lord in the Kingdom, we see at once why an opportunity for sacrifice is spoken of as the acceptable time-the time at which God is willing to accept sacrifices and to give rewards to the sacrificers. Whoever sees this clearly finds in it a most wonderful incentive to godly living-finds in it an explanation of why the Apostle was willing to count all his afflictions, all his sacrifices as nothing, to the intent that through this privilege of sacrifice he might have fellowship with Christ in the glorious things which the Father has promised and provided for Jesus, the great Sacrificer, and all who walk in his footsteps of self-sacrifice. From this standpoint the Apostles words do not seem extravagant when he says- "Yea, I do count all things as loss and dross that I may win Christ and be found in him" (a member of his body, the Royal Priesthood). (Philip. 3:8)
It is in view of this glorious opportunity of sacrificing that the Apostle, as above quoted, urges all who have heard of the Lord�s favor to present their bodies living sacrifices, assuring them that they will be holy and acceptable to God, assuring them also that if they become dead with Christ they shall also reign with him, if sharers of his sufferings and death they shall be sharers also of his glory, honor, and immortality in the Kingdom.
NO SACRIFICING IN THE MILLENNIUM
The majority of people, failing to "rightly divide the Word of truth," failing to see that there are various epochs and dispensations in the divine plan, fall into the mistake of supposing that all things must continue as they are. Such are apt to suppose that because there are opportunities for sacrificing now, there must be opportunities always, throughout the infinite future; but we answer, No. If sin and death were always to continue to reign, there would always be opportunity to suffer for righteousness� sake; but the Scriptures assure us that in the close of this age and the inauguration of Christ�s Millennial reign, the whole matter will be changed; Satan will be bound, evil doers will be restrained, well doing will no longer cost the sacrifice of earthly interests. On the contrary, the righteous will then be rewarded for right doing and the evil doers shall be punished- "Justice will be laid to the line and righteousness to the plummet."
So then in a natural way sacrificing for righteousness� sake will promptly and abruptly come to an end. Indeed the Scriptures clearly show us that the Lord is calling the Church in accordance with that institution of the reign of righteousness for the very purpose of affording them the opportunity to show their thorough loyalty to him by their willingness to endure earthly loss and disadvantage, pain and disappointment, for righteousness� sake.
The testing of character in this manner is very thorough, but it is only when we understand the divine plan, and see that those now being elected or selected are intended to be God�s special agents and servants for the instruction and uplifting and blessing of the world, that we can understand why now they are tested in all points respecting their loyalty to righteousness and to Truth. The high reward which shall be granted to them-namely, a share in the glory, honor and immortality of the Kingdom class, the Royal Priesthood, is an offset to the greater trials and difficulties which beset their way in this age than will beset the world in general in the next age in the time of its trial for life everlasting. Only those who are guided of the Lord, anointed by his Spirit, instructed through his Word, can appreciate these great privileges which belong to this Gospel age, this acceptable time in which God is willing to accept the sacrifices and to count the sacrificers with Jesus in his glories. Let us note a few Scriptures corroborating this thought that the acceptable time is the sacrificing time. We have already referred to Rom. 12:1; notice now Eph. 5:10.
Here the Apostle exhorts us that instead of being partakers with the world in their sins we should walk as children of the light with our Lord and Master, proving, finding out more and more, day by day, as we seek to walk righteously and as we find its cost in self-sacrifice- "proving what is acceptable to God"-coming more and more to an appreciation of just what God does desire in us and just what it means to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Again we are exhorted to "serve God with reverence." (Heb. 12:28)
Here our service is stated to be acceptable to God, our service of righteousness, our self-sacrifice, laying down our lives for the brethren. Again he speaks of our humble efforts as being a sacrifice to God of sweet odor. Philip. 4:18 Again he exhorts us to make progress in the Christian way of self-sacrifice that we may prove and demonstrate, know, the good and acceptable and perfect will of God-our sanctification, our complete self-sacrifice in his service. (Rom. 12:2)
Again he assures us that God has made us acceptable in Christ-made our sacrifices, [NS215] which would of themselves be unworthy of his notice, to be acceptable through the merit of our Redeemer�s sacrifice. (Eph. 1:6)
The Apostle Peter in the same strain says, "We are acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.� Our Lord was acceptable as a sacrifice for sins, and we who during the Gospel age walk in his steps, sacrificing earthly interests for the privilege, are accepted. (1 Pet. 2:5)
Explaining the matter, further, in verse 20, he says. "If when ye do well and suffer for it ye take it patiently, this is acceptable to God (this is your sacrifice which God accepts). For even hereunto were ye called, for Christ also suffered for us leaving us an example that we should follow in his steps."
"NOW IS THE ACCEPTED TIME"
The Apostle Paul again calls attention to this acceptable time or epoch, the Gospel age, saying, "Behold now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation." (2 Cor. 6:2)
"In an acceptable time have I heard thee and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee and give thee for a covenant to the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; that thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; and to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves ... They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy upon them shall lead them, even by streams of water shall he guide them."
It is remarkable that these inspired words should be so greatly misunderstood as they generally are. They are understood to mean that any who are uncalled of God during this Gospel age, who do not come into harmony with him in this acceptable time, will never have an opportunity to come to a knowledge of the Truth and to be saved. These words are understood to signify that all hope of salvation ends with the present life, with "today."
But whoever will read carefully the above quotation, noting the prophecy the Apostle is quoting, will see most clearly stated what we have endeavored to show foregoing-namely, that now is the time in which God will accept the sacrifices of the Royal Priesthood, the Christ; that this day of acceptance of these sacrifices will end; that the great privilege will then be passed forever; that the glorious opportunity of reward held out to the sacrificers will be given to none others. Now is the acceptable time, now is the time when God is willing to accept the little offerings that we can bring to him, the little services that we can render for righteousness. Those who love righteousness and are willing to render it service at the cost of self-interest in the present life, these shall secure the great salvation, the special salvation-these shall have part in the first resurrection of the blessed and holy who shall reign on the earth. Rev. 5:10
The Apostle in the same connection says, "We then, as co-workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace (favor) of God in vain.., but in all things approve ourselves as the ministers of God in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses," etc. [2 Cor. 6:4] The grace of God which he exhorts they shall not receive in vain is this privilege of enduring these afflictions, and it is in support of this thought that the Apostle quotes from the prophecy, "In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I succored thee," adding that now is the acceptable time, now is the time when God will accept such sacrifices, and not only so but that it is the beginning of the great salvation -it is a day of salvation as well as a day of sacrificing, for the sacrificers will be the first to obtain the fulness of the Lord�s salvation, both in the present joys and triumphs, and also in the first resurrection.
"AS A COVENANT FOR THE PEOPLE"
Let us turn again and examine the statement in Isaiah from which the Apostle quotes. It is very evident that the first address is merely to the Christ, Head and body, "In an acceptable time have I heard thee and in a day of salvation have I helped thee."
This as we have shown is the Gospel age. Then follows the prophecy respecting the work of the Christ after the full development of all members- "I will preserve thee (notwithstanding the sacrificial death, the Lord�s guarantee is the preservation of every faithful member of the body of Christ), and I will give thee for a covenant of the people." [Isa. 49:8]
The word covenant here seems to have direct reference to the covenant made originally with Abraham and attested by the passing of the furnace of fire between the parts of the sacrifice, as recorded in Gen. 15:9-18. It is in full accord with this that we find the Scriptures everywhere teaching that the Christ, Head and body, by divine arrangement constitute the seed of Abraham through which this covenant shall be fulfilled, and all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
This seed of Abraham is first of all to be an acceptable sacrifice upon the Lord�s altar, as a result of which the sins of the world shall be entirely rolled away, the curse shall be no more, and instead of the reign of sin and death which has prevailed for six thousand years there shall then be ushered in the reign of righteousness into life everlasting as the Apostle explains. As the prophecy shows, it is the class accepted of God in this acceptable time, the class of living sacrifices, the Christ, who will become the Mediator of the New Covenant to the world, to establish the earth, to restore the lost heritages and to call the prisoners of sin out of the darkness [NS216] and to release the prisoners of the tomb. The whole earth was man�s heritage and was lost through the disobedience of Father Adam, and the great work of Christ during the Millennial age will be not only to restore those who went down to the prison house of death, to set them free from the power of death and from the power of sin and to lift them up to original perfection, but also to restore to them the heritage lost. This is the same thought set forth by the Apostle Peter�s preaching under the inspiration of the Pentecostal blessing, when he told his hearers of the coming times of restitution of all things, at the second advent of Jesus and when he likened the entire Christ, Head and body, to the Prophet Moses, and declared that when this great antitype of Moses would rule in the earth all mankind must hear, must obey him, and that it shall come to pass that all who would not obey him shall be destroyed from amongst the people, while, on the contrary, all who shall obey the great Mediator shall be uplifted and established in the life everlasting.
Let us then, dear brethren and sisters, rejoice that it is our privilege to live in this acceptable year of the Lord; let us enjoy the privilege that is ours of presenting to the Lord our little sacrifices, realizing that they are holy and acceptable in his sight through the merit of our Redeemer, and that by thus being associated with him in this acceptable time in the sacrifices which the Father is pleased to accept, we shall also be accounted worthy to share with him in the glories of his future reign and Kingdom.
O, what a privilege to be living under present conditions! Looking forward into the future and seeing the glories that shall soon be revealed, and the blessing of all the families of the earth, we realize that these sons of God now being selected in this acceptable time, when glorified, will be the joy of the whole earth, and that this is what the Apostle means when he says that the whole creation is groaning and travailing in pain, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God. (Rom. 8:19)
A clearer appreciation of these glorious testimonies of God�s Word will cause us to rejoice in whatever privileges of suffering for righteousness� sake may come to us in the Lord�s providence-to rejoice that we are accounted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ, and in the interests of the cause of righteousness, and in laying down our lives for the brethren. Let us avail ourselves of the present opportunities, knowing that soon they will be at an end forever, and that then-although the sun of righteousness will shine forth to the blessing of all the families of the earth-there will be no further opportunity of entering into the glories to which God is now calling us to joint heirship with his Son and participation in the divine nature and its glory, honor and immortality.
The National Labor Tribune, July 2, 1905 "THE DAY OF VENGEANCE" WHAT, WHEN AND WHERE IT WILL BE
Pastor Russell addressed a large audience in Bible Chapel, Allegheny at 3p. m. Sunday. He continued his discourses on the message of the ordained preacher set forth in Isa. 61:1-3, and announced that on next Sunday he would be in attendance at a Bible student�s Convention at Niagara Falls, N. Y., and would there continue the topic from the words, "To comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness."
Today�s discourse follows: In considering what the anointed members of the body of Christ are to proclaim in his name we reach today "the day of vengeance" feature. The anointed were to preach good tidings unto the meek for the binding up of the broken hearts, and were to proclaim liberty to the captives, the opening of the prison-doors to them that are bound, and to make known the acceptable time of the Lord, in which he would be willing to receive sacrifices of the little flock, and withal they were to proclaim also "The Day of Vengeance of our God."
This part of the proclamation must not be overlooked, even though the preachers be thought in consequence to be pessimistic. There is a sweet element in the message and there is also a bitter element. Those faithful to their anointing, to their ordination, must not shun to declare the whole counsel of God. However, it is necessary that we scrutinize carefully on this subject. A considerable amount of prejudice and misconception of the divine character and plan has come down to us from the Dark Ages, and we are liable to attach to the words of the Lord sentiments which they do not really express.
THE DAY OF VENGEANCE MISUNDERSTOOD
The average Christian, mistaught by the creeds and traditions handed down from the Dark Ages, thinks of the great majority of the human family as being in [NS217] Purgatory or in everlasting torture. Such are very apt to think of this message of the "day of vengeance" as referring to those tortures which they believe are already being endured by the vast majority of the human family who have died. When we point out to these that the day of vengeance is everywhere in the Scriptures indicated as a future period or epoch they will feel a still greater fear and dread, saying to themselves, if the eternal torment which we are taught is already being experienced and is awful to the degree of being indescribable, what further atrocities can the Almighty Creator propose that he should speak of a future day of vengeance, as though all the tortures of the past had been merely incidentals unworthy of being regarded as punishment at all. A failure to study the Bible, and to allow God through it to be his own interpreter and the declarer of his own plans, is responsible for all this misconception.
Everything is plain, clear, simple, when we take the Scriptural standpoint of viewing matters, and remember that God�s principal dealings thus far have been with the church-that so far as the world is concerned it has been having its own hopes and doubtings, successes and adversities, up to the point of death, and that death is a mere cessation of animation, a suspension of life, called in the Scriptures, sleep. We call to mind the statement of the Lord�s Word that the dead know not anything, and consequently none are suffering the eternal torment in the Protestant hell, nor a temporary torment in the Catholic Purgatory. They are all asleep, waiting for the awakening, the calling forth in the morning of the Millennial age, the resurrection morning. (Eccl. 9:5; 1 Thess. 4:14)
Let us not forget the words of the wise man, part of which are so frequently quoted, "Do with your might what your hands find to do, for there is neither wisdom nor knowledge nor device in sheol (hell, the grave) whither thou goest." (Eccl. 9:10)
Before considering what kind of vengeance awaits mankind, we need to have very clearly before our minds the fact that the day of vengeance is future. As the Apostle Peter declares, "God knoweth how to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished." (2 Pet. 2:9)
They are not being punished while they are dead, while they are unconscious, while they know not anything. Any punishments that they do not receive in the present lifetime they will not receive until their awakening from the tomb, which will occur some time during the reign of Christ, some time during that thousand-year day of the Lord�s judgment. The Apostle Paul had this in mind when he wrote, "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but give place unto wrath, for it is written, vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink." (Rom. 12:19, 20)
And again, writing in condemnation of those who forsake the way of the Lord, he said, "For we know him that said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, the Lord shall judge his people." (Heb. 10:30)
Again, referring to the same class and their affliction, the Apostle said, "You who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power." (2 Thess. 1:7-10)
With one voice these various Scriptures assure us that the day of vengeance is future and thus they contradict the general thought of the majority of Christians, who suppose that the vengeance of the Lord is being continually meted out upon humanity from the moment of death onward. The last Scripture quoted shows plainly that the day of vengeance follows the second coming of the Lord Jesus, and will constitute the revelation of his righteous judgments in the earth.
We might refer to many passages of Scripture which speak of this day of vengeance and which indicate that it will follow the Lord�s second advent. The first feature of his work at the second advent, as we have already shown, will be the gathering together of his very elect, their change in the first resurrection to his own likeness, and to share in his glory and joint-heirship in his Kingdom. Then will follow the manifestation of his Kingdom in its power and glory, and the vengeance will begin. A symbolical picture of the Lord and of the day of trouble, the day of vengeance, is given in Isa. 63:1-6, "Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? This that is glorious in his apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength?" Answer: "I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save."
"Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like he that treadeth the winefat?" Answer: "I have trodden the winepress alone, and of the people there was none with me: yea, I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my fury, and their life blood is sprinkled upon my garments and I have stained all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart and the year of my redeemed is come."
We can see the harmony between the figurative description of the coming time of trouble and the other symbolical pictures of the same trouble furnished us in Revelation, where the vengeance of the Lord is represented as coming upon the nations, that they should be broken as potters� vessels with the iron rod of his power; and again the tribulation of his coming is represented by the seven vials of [NS218] wrath which are to be poured out.
OTHER DAYS OF VENGEANCE
Before recounting the particulars of the great "day of vengeance," let us note that there have been other days of vengeance in the past, which in the Scriptures are to some extent referred to as bearing some likeness or resemblance to this coming day of vengeance. For instance, at the close of the first dispensation, in Noah�s day, there came a reckoning time, a day of judgment, a day of vengeance, a day of divine visitation or punishment upon the world that then was, which perished in the flood. A more particular picture of the coming day of vengeance is furnished us in the time of trouble which came upon the Jewish nation, after their rejection of Messiah. After they had been favored with the Gospel at the mouth of the Apostles and other proclaimers of that time, there came upon that nation a destructive trouble which utterly overthrew that polity in A. D. 69. Describing this very trouble, the Scriptures declare, "These be the days of vengeance, that all things written may be fulfilled." (Luke 21:22)
When we remember that natural Israel was a type or foreshadowing of Spiritual Israel, that the length of the Jewish age is the exact measure or pattern of the Gospel age, and that the Tabernacle sacrifices were the shadows of the better things following, which we enjoy, we learn to expect also that the time of trouble which ended their period of favor was a type or foreshadowing of the time of trouble coming in the end of this age upon nominal Christendom, in the end of the period of Gospel favor, and this latter, while it would be of the same kind that came upon natural Israel, will be more extended and will involve not only all the so-called Christian nations, but incidentally the whole world of mankind. No wonder it is graphically described by the prophet as a "time of trouble, such as was not since there was a nation," no wonder our Lord added the testimony to the words, "No, nor ever shall be again." (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21)
Time will not permit us on this occasion to call to your attention the many, many Scriptures which refer to this approaching trouble, and these references were more necessary a short time ago as many of you have them in print. But now, as we approach nearer and nearer to the culmination of this trouble, indications of the approach, that it is just impending, multiply daily and may be readily recognized by all those whose eyes of understanding have been opened through the study of the Word along these lines. We can see readily the approaching conflict between capital and labor, between the people and the social structure, between the creeds and science falsely so-called and the Word of Truth.
Everything indicates that it is beyond human power to avert this great calamity, which has been noted in the Scriptures for thousands of years. In symbolical language it is sometimes referred to as a "fire" that shall consume the whole earth, but the context shows us that it is not literal fire, because it gives us the assurance that a result of this fire of God�s jealousy will be the turning to the people of a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord to serve him with one consent. And, again, it is spoken of as a "whirlwind," which with suddenness will involve the entire social structure and overwhelm it. Again, it is spoken of as a great tidal wave, as a "flood" that shall carry the mountains, the kingdoms, into the midst of the sea, into the sea of anarchy. Our Lord�s own description of the time is that unless that time were shortened none would be saved. (Zeph. 3:8, 9; Jer. 25:32; Psa. 46:2; Matt. 24:22)
THE DAY OF VENGEANCE LIMITED
Well may our hearts rejoice to note the Scriptural declaration that the day of vengeance is limited, that it will be cut short. We are assured that "a short work will the Lord make in the earth," and that to this end, instead of allowing the time of trouble to run its course and to practically exterminate the race in the reign of anarchy, the Lord declares that in the midst of the trouble he will establish this kingdom on the ruins of present civilization, and that under the ministration of that Kingdom, order and peace and blessing will soon be established in the earth and on a sure foundation -on a foundation of righteousness and truth.
The Apostle describes the world of mankind in general at the present time as a groaning creation, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God in their Kingdom power in the end of this age, in the dawning of the new dispensation. And if it is true that the world is now groaning and travailing in pain, how much more true it will be in that day of vengeance, in that day of wrath, in that great time of trouble which will affect every human being throughout the world. We may expect just what the Scriptures declare, that as a result of that trouble many nations will come and say, Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord�s house; he will teach us his ways and we will walk in his paths. For then the law shall go forth from Jerusalem, and the Word of the Lord from Mount Zion (the heavenly Kingdom-the glorified Christ).
WHY THE VENGEANCE?
It is a proper question, why should God take vengeance upon the world when he teaches us to the contrary, [NS219] saying, "Avenge not yourselves?" We reply that the entire Word of God, the entire plan of God, the entire kingdom or dominion of God, is based upon justice, as we read, "Justice and judgment are the foundation of thy throne."
But justice has not been administered in the world by the Almighty. He has confined his efforts to setting before his people the laws of righteousness. He has indeed held a loose rein over the kingdoms of the world, that they might not overreach the divine purposes and arrangements; but as for endeavors, God�s only dealings have been with Abraham and his seed-the natural seed, the few during the Jewish dispensation, and the spiritual seed, the Church, during this Gospel dispensation.
The judgments of the Lord have been with these not only collectively, but also individually, ordering their affairs, blessing them in certain respects in proportion to their faithfulness to him, punishing them in some particulars in proportion to their unfaithfulness; but the mass of the world has been judging itself. Throughout this Gospel age the Lord has sent his light and truth hither and thither throughout what is called Christendom. Here and there the message of the Lord has attracted the Israelites indeed in whom there is no guile, and everywhere it went the divine Word has caused a measure of enlightenment even among its enemies and his pseudo friends.
With the end of the Jewish age came the time for the gathering of all the Israelites indeed then ready for the next step in God�s plan, namely, into the Gospel garner, into the ministration of the Spirit. And similarly with the end of this Gospel age comes the great gathering of the little flock, the saints of Spiritual Israel, who shall be changed in the first resurrection to the spirit nature, glory, honor, immortality, and likeness with their Lord. As in the end of the Jewish age, those who had enjoyed the blessings, privileges and opportunities, and had done despite to those favors of God were dealt with and chastened, so in the end of this Gospel age the civilized world, so-called Christendom in general, after the gathering of the elect to glory, will be dealt with sharply; according to their unfaithfulness to the light and privileges which were accorded them they shall have many or few stripes in that great time of trouble. And who will say that these stripes or punishments will not be deserved?
Look back at the closing of the Jewish age, and note how much there was of formal Judaism, of professions of holiness, called Pharisaism. Note how the bitterest enemies of God�s son and of the plan of salvation centered in him were found amongst those who made the greatest professions. See how it was the scribes and Pharisees and doctors of divinity of that time who misled the populace into crying for the crucifixion of Jesus. Was it any wonder that vengeance came upon those men-that having so much light and opportunity and advantage every way they should be held responsible for their course of evil? It was not surprising that vengeance came upon them in their day of vengeance, and their trouble is reckoned as having been the greatest in the world up to the present time, the greatest that ever shall be except the greatest of all, which is to come in the end of this age upon Babylon the Great, so-called Christendom or Churchianity.
It is very difficult for some to see conditions which prevail close to us, illustrated in the present turmoil in Russia; and yet the Scriptures declare that our day is the exact parallel of the period of our Lord�s first advent, and that the spirit of Churchianity in our day is the parallel to that of Judaism in our Lord�s day. Is it strange, then, that those of our time with much advantage every way should be held to be worthy of some stripes and punishments? And if these punishments are to be dispensed throughout all Christendom, is it strange that it should result in a time of trouble such as was not seen since there was a nation? Nay, verily, it is only what we might expect aside from the sure testimony of the Lord�s Word, which seems to mark the climax of the present trouble as between October, 1914, and October, 1915.
"JOY COMETH IN THE MORNING"
The Scriptures speak of the six thousand years of the reign of sin and death as a night time, and assure the Lord�s people that the Day Star of hope which they have seen through faith in Christ, is the harbinger, the forerunner, of the rising of the Sun of Righteousness with healing in his beams. They assure us that the Sun of Righteousness was the Lord Jesus and the Church, which is his body, or, under another figure, the Bride. They assure us that the influence of that Rising Sun of Righteousness will be the healing of the peoples, the healing of the earth�s woes and troubles, the establishment of the reign of righteousness, the putting down of sin and all forms of iniquity and injustice, and the lifting up of the poor and distressed, and the bringing about of a general revolution of society, in which character, worth, will be the only tests and standards of divine favor and approval and blessing and progress and uplift. We may look forward, then, to the day of vengeance with this happy thought in our hearts, that as the Lord in the present time has favored us, his people, by permitting the plowshare of trouble to break up the fallow ground of our hearts and make them ready for his glorious message, so he speaks of this coming time of trouble as the ploughing of the world, the time for the [NS220] breaking of the stony hearts, the time for the general preparation of the world of mankind to be brought to a knowledge of the truth-to a knowledge of God�s righteousness and justice as well as to a knowledge of his mercy and love, to the intent that all the world then may be on judgment, on trial, to test their loyalty to the principles of righteousness. The result, we are assured, will be that all who shall then come to an appreciation of God�s character and plan and the laws of his empire, and into harmony with the same, shall be lifted up and blessed, while all those who refuse thus to do will be cut off from amongst the people as the enemies of God and of righteousness.
"VENGEANCE" A POOR TRANSLATION
We come now to notice the fact that the translators have not given us a good rendition of the original in the word vengeance. Since the Apostle has quoted the prophet�s testimony in the New Testament, we have the advantage of both the Greek and the Hebrew word and therefrom we see clearly that instead of rendering this passage the "day of vengeance, the translators would better have rendered it the "day of recompense" or the "day of vindication."
To this all scholars will agree. With this thought before our minds we perceive that the trouble that is coming is to be on the one hand a vindication of the principles of righteousness as in opposition to the principles of error. On many subjects the world is ready to claim that error is more potent than truth, wiser than truth, but in this day of vindication all such sophistries will be overthrown.
It will be clearly demonstrated that the way of righteousness is the way of wisdom, and that any other way is the way of folly. It will mean the levelling of things that are high, proud, domineering, and a day of lifting up of the poor and the humble-a day of rewarding the well doer in proportion to his zeal and self-sacrificing spirit, and the evil doer according to his knowledge of better things and the selfishness to which he yielded. It will be such a time as our Lord described when he said "Woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full now! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for you shall weep. Woe unto you when men shall speak well of you! for so did your fathers of the false prophets: "but "Blessed are ye poor! for yours is the Kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that weep now! for ye shall laugh. Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and separate you from their company, and reproach you and cast out your name as evil for the Son of man�s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for your reward is great in heaven." (Luke 6:20-26)
In that time of recompense many who are least esteemed in the world now will be found to be great, and many who are now great will be found to be least.
HOW LONG THIS DAY OF RECOMPENSE
As we have already intimated, the judgments or recompenses of that day of vindication will be proportionate to the light and privilege enjoyed. To whom little has been given, of him will little be required, but to whom much has been entrusted, of them will be proportionate requirements. Many who are great and rich in talents and privileges and influence, and who are using all these things selfishly and inconsiderately, forgetting the claims upon them of the household of faith and of their brethren of mankind, such undoubtedly will be esteemed worthy of severer stripes than will be administered to others who knew not the Master�s will, who were born under less favorable conditions in heathen lands. Justice will be evenhandedly meted out yet not without mercy, for the Lord assures us that through faith in him and joyful obedience to his instruction we may escape, because all the members of the Church will be glorified before the day of vengeance upon the world. Before the revelation of the Lord in flaming fire comes his parousia, his manifestation to his saints through the eyes of their understanding under the guidance of the holy Spirit and the teaching of the Word. Blessed are our eyes for they see and our ears for they hear. Blessed are we whom the Son of man at his second presence comes forth to serve with the precious things of his Word, things new and old, according to promise. (Matt. 13:52)
We are not interested in the day of retribution in the sense of expecting to be under retributive judgments ourselves, but are hoping by the Lord�s grace to be amongst the overcomers, whose judgment will be complete in this present age and who will be accounted worthy of a share in the Kingdom, and who, the Apostle says, shall judge the world and be associated with Christ as his mighty angels, messengers of power, in the exercising of the judgments written-" This honor hath all his saints." (Psa. 149:9)
Nevertheless it is profitable to us that the Lord hath anointed us to declare the day of retribution as well as to declare the good tidings. If the whole world could be made aware of the real retribution that is coming it undoubtedly would influence many. The thought that the future will be the same for all, whether they sin much or little, has tended to make many careless of the amount of their wrong doing. On the contrary we see that every word and act of life has its bearing, even so far as the world is concerned, in proportion to their knowledge, and that those possessing much light will have the severer retribution if they neglect it or walk contrary to [NS221] what they discern to be the Lord�s standard of righteousness.