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HARVEST GLEANINGS III Pittsburgh Gazette'December 12, 1904 PASTOR RUSSELL LOOKS FOR SUNRISE
Pastor C T Russell of Allegheny addressed a large audience in Van Curber Opera House at 3 o'clock this afternoon. His text was from Isa. 21:11-12 , "Watchman, what of the night? The Watchman said, The morning cometh, and also a night." The discourse follows:
For 30 centuries the world, led by the hopes of the Jews, has been looking for and hoping for and thinking about the coming Golden Age, in which all the families of the earth will be blessed with every conceivable prosperity. Nor did the thought originate in the Jewish nation. It came to them through the Divine promise, the oath-bound covenant of God to Abraham, that in his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed. The hope set before the nation of Israel was that they, as the seed of Abraham, would be God's agency in connection with Messiah for the communication of this blessing to every nation, kindred, people and tongue. Under the stimulus of this hope their nation held together as no other nation ever has done.
Those who accepted Christ, both of the Jews and the Gentiles, lay claim to all those promises which center in Christ and which the Jewish nation, in rejecting Him, cut loose from. Christendom claims to be spiritual Israel, and, as such, heirs of all the wonderful spiritual promises of God, as the Apostle declares, "If ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." This hope inspired the Apostles and all of the early Church.
CHRISTENDOM GONE ASTRAY
No theologian of any denomination will question that so-called Chiliasm hope in the second advent of Christ and the Kingdom which He will then establish was the dominating thought of the Church of Christ in the days of the Apostles, during the time when the New Testament was written. The followers of Christ understood themselves to be entirely separate and distinct from
the world, to have different hopes and aims from the remainder of the race, because they were "Children of the Highest," "begotten again of the Spirit," "new creatures in Christ Jesus," to whom old things have passed away and all things have [HGL284] become new through this hope inspired by the Lord's Word and appreciated through His Spirit.
But very soon, after the death of the Apostles, grievous errors crept in among the Lord's followers and a new theory on the subject of the Kingdom was started, namely, that instead of waiting for the Lord from heaven to exalt His Church with a glorious change from mortal to immortal conditions and to clothe her with glory, honor and immortality, and equip her with power and authority to execute judgment in the earth, the program was to be a different one that the Apostles had not quite grasped the thought that the Church should understand it to be her mission to convert the world without her Lord, and that when she had accomplished this He would come, inspect her work and approve it.
The mistake was a serious one, and its results have been far-reaching. Under the lead of new teachers, who claimed for themselves apostolic succession and apostolic inspiration, the hope of the second coming of Christ as the world's deliverer from the thralldom of Satan and sin and death gradually faded and a new teaching took its place and still generally holds it; that the Church must conquer the world before her Lord will come.
THY KINGDOM COME
The theory that the time had come for the Church to cease her suffering and to begin her reign over the kingdoms of the earth would naturally be a pleasing and fascinating theory, and no wonder it gradually enveloped the Church to such an extent that any who still held to the old apostolic views were few and considered behind the times until, finally, when the error became known as orthodoxy and was established by councils of the Church, those who held apostolic teachings on the subject were called heretics. Under the new theory every energy was bent to attaining power over the nations; doctrines were sacrificed to numbers and wealth and influence. The whole world knows of the wonderful success of the effort which today counts the whole civilized world as "Christendom" (Christ's Kingdom) and ignores the "narrow way" and "little flock" of the Scriptures.
We are not hoping to change these matters as regards the world in general. Our hope is to reach the hearts and understandings of the Lord's truly consecrated people, for, as the Lord has declared through the prophet, "The wicked shall do wickedly and shall not understand, but the wise shall understand" our Lord's "little ones" (the humble), who are wise in accepting His word and plan rather than human philosophies and earthly wisdom and policy. Instead, dear friends, of our entertaining a hope of swaying the world in this matter, we realize that it is clearly taught in the Book of Revelation that a great federation of Christendom is very near, and that the Lord will for a time permit it to have sufficient power in the world to stop all progress of the Truth the "faith once delivered to the saints."
WOULD MEET WITH VIOLENCE
Do you ask why? I Answer'that the public mind is so permeated with error and so committed to its support, and so blinded to the greater beauty and harmony of the divine Word and plan, that, in a fancied zeal for God and His cause, persecutors of the future will, like those of the Dark Ages, verily think themselves to be doing God's service.
Christendom is infatuated with the thought of converting the world. In heathen poetry they read of the Golden Age, and in the Scriptures they read of the glories of the day of Christ, the Millennium, and logically they reason that evil and sin ought not to endure forever, that the Lord has promised that the time shall come when Satan shall be bound, that he shall deceive the nations no more and carried away by this zeal with the erroneous theory that they are now the Kingdom of Christ, and that they are now to reign over the world, and that they are now to conquer the world for Jesus, and that it is the Lord's command upon them to subdue all things and to bring all things into subjection to the Father, they will be ready to go to almost any lengths with any and every thing opposing this theory, which has become so entrenched in their minds.
The glorious day is to dawn, the Scriptures affirm it; but Christendom in general stands with its back to the sunrise and is looking for the Millennial blessings in the West. Hence Christendom in general fails to recognize the streaks of dawn already visible to the watchers who, being in line with the divine Word, are looking toward the East for the sunrise of the great Millennial day, for the revelation of the great Millennial King, for the glorification of the Lamb's Wife at the promised marriage supper.
When preparing this discourse my eye fell upon a tabulation prepared for Sunday School teachers by a celebrated doctor of divinity which was intended to show how rapidly the Lord's Kingdom is now conquering the world. We refer to this as a proof of our assertion that our dear Christian friends, in general misled by the wrong theories on the subject of Christ's kingdom, are looking for the millennial dawning in the wrong direction.
The table mentioned sets forth that in the year 1000 there were 50,000,000 Christians; in A D 1500, 100,000,000; in A D 1800, 200,000,000, and in A D 1880, 415,000,000. The D D who prepared this table, and many of those who will examine it, overlook the fact that the 50,000,000 of the year 1000 and the 100,000,000 of the year 1500 were nearly all Roman Catholics or Greek Catholics, and that similarly the 415,000,000 of 1880 were two-thirds Catholics Greek and Roman. This Protestant minister seemingly forgot, and expected his readers to forget, that Protestant missions in France, in Spain, in Italy, in the Orient and elsewhere in the world, are sustained for the avowed purpose of converting Catholics into Protestants.
The realization that no one body of Protestants could ever hope to dominate the world, yea, that all of them could never accomplish such a mission, is leading not only to a desire for Protestant federation, but also to a general recognition of the Roman and Greek Catholic systems. All this inconsistency is the result of the erroneous theory that the Church must conquer the world and establish the millennial condition before Christ comes, and from desire to see the millennium approach along the lines of their expectancy and effort. [HGL285]
FIGURES THAT DO NOT LIE
If our dear friends who entertain this unscriptural view (Catholics and Protestants) could but see its unreasonableness, there would be some hope that some of them at least would abandon it, but they seem blind to reason on this subject.
Take their own figures and look for the 415,000,000 Christians that they say will shortly convert the remaining 1,000,000,000 and establish the millennium. The latest census returns show that the natural increase of mankind the world over during the last decade was 8 per cent, which compounded would mean 115 per cent in the century. Since there is no such pro rata increase of Christianity, the conversion of the world is really farther off every year.
To make my meaning more clear: The largest estimate of the world's population in the year 1805 was that given by Pinkerton, who estimated it at 700,000,000; Volney in the previous year, 1804, gave his estimate as 437,000,000. We grant the larger figures, 700,000,000, and then take the estimate already referred to, made by the D D, that there were 200,000,000 Christians at that time. Allowing these figures, there were only 500,000,000 heathen needing to be converted in the year 1805, while by the same figures there were over 1,000,000,000 that needed converting in the year 1880. How long will it take to convert the world at this rate? Why cannot the bright minds that are identified with this erroneous theory see the fallacy of it? And seeing its fallacy why do they not promptly turn and confess the truth, and throw their influence toward the re-establishment of the primitive faith of the Church, "the faith once delivered to the saints" by the Lord and his Apostles? that "the morning" cometh only with the second coming of our Lord.
CHRISTENDOM NEEDS CONVERTING
But, dear friends, suppose that facts did not thus knock the entire bottom out of this false theory, this false hope which Christendom is pursuing suppose that there were the best of reasons for believing that the whole 1,600,000,000 of the world's population could be converted some time in the same degree that the 415,000,000 of "Christendom" are now converted what would it mean? Would it mean the millennium which the apostles taught? Would it mean the kingdom for which our Lord taught us to pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is done in Heaven?"
Alas, no! If Christianity ever succeeded in grasping her ideal we see that it would be but an apple of Sodom. Look for a moment at the Christians who compose this 415,000,000. The more you examine them the more you will be convinced that the thing they all need most is to be converted genuinely. It is from this 415,000,000 tabulated as "Christians," that we find the growing lists of murderers, suicides, thieves, boodlers and grafters being recruited.
With a hope of the world's being converted to such conditions we should have no sympathy. Many of the poor heathen are better off left by themselves than brought under such conditions as are farcically called Christendom. We do not praise the heathen none we believe appreciate more than we the great needs of heathendom; but something far better than nominal Christendom has to offer them is needed. With Christendom goes a certain measure of so-called civilization, which in some respects perhaps is advantageous, but in other weighty respects is injurious. Comparing the 1,200,000,000 heathen with the 400,000,000 called Christians we find that, in some particulars, the heathen have quite the advantage. The 400,000,000 nominal Christians do the bulk of the fighting, swearing, liquor drinking and a considerable share of its general dishonesty and stealing. God forbid that we should be forced to accept any such millennium as would be brought about by the conversion of the world to such conditions. We are here reminded of the Lord's words to the Pharisees in His day, "Ye compass sea and land to make a proselyte, and when he is made he is twofold more a child of Gehenna than yourselves."
LOVE FOR MISSION WORK
From infancy I have sympathized with the heathen and longed to help them. I still have this same love and desire, but my eyes of understanding have opened wider since childhood days. I now perceive that God loves the heathen and the whole world not only as much as I do, but more. I have heard his message saying, "As the heavens are higher than the earth so are My ways higher than your ways and My plans higher than your plans," and I have come to realize the truth of this, and see the great plan which God has for the salvation of the world.
This plan I now see is first of all the selection from the world of suitable missionaries. Jesus is the head of this missionary company, and during this gospel age the Holy Spirit has been attracting under the terms of the gospel, along the lines of the "narrow way" of self-denial and self-sacrifice, those whom the Lord is pleased to associate with himself as His Church, His bride, in the great missionary enterprise which he purposed from before the foundation of the world.
These missionaries receive their training under the present reign of sin and death, but as soon as the entire company graduates the scene will change; they will be invested with divine power and authority, and will scatter the present night of sin and death and constitute the Sun of Righteousness which shall heal the world with its benign beams. (Mal. 4:2). This is the glorious morning mentioned in our text the morning of the grand millennial age, the golden age of the poets, the day of Christ, in the language of the apostles. The Psalmist declares, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning," and our hearts are glad because we see the dawning of the millennial day already beginning, and note the fleeing shadows of the dark night of ignorance, superstition, sin and death.
This glorious day is coming, not by the conversion of the world under present conditions, not by calling the kingdoms of this world the Kingdom of Christ, not by calling all classes living in civilized lands "saints of the Most High God." The morning is dawning because the Lord's time has come for the second advent for the establishment of the kingdom for which we pray, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven" 'because the time of restitution of all things spoken by the mouth of all [HGL286] the holy prophets since the world began are about to begin. I cannot here and now give you the proofs that we are already chronologically entering this great day of the Lord, but the proofs are abundant and clear, and for the asking may be had to read by any of you.