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HARVEST GLEANINGS 2
The Weekly Enquirer, May 12, 1910 HEREAFTER
With the exception of the three end paragraphs, printed below, this discourse has been republished in Pastor Russell's Sermons, pages 538-545, under same title.
London, Eng., May 8-Albert Memorial Hall, the largest and most renowned auditorium in the world, having a capacity of ten thousand, was crowded this evening to hear Pastor Russell, of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, New York, who delivered an address on "HEREAFTER" under the auspices of the "International Bible Students Association."
"THY KINGDOM COME"
We are not to understand that the glorious work of human reclamation from sin and death conditions will be left to human option, as is the "high calling" of this Gospel age. Now God is inviting so many as desire to be in accord with Him and to share with the Redeemer in His glory, that they may present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, which is their reasonable service. (Rom. 12:1)
He does this because He is seeking such to worship Him as will worship Him in spirit and in truth. But when this age shall have ended and the millennial age shall have been introduced the work will no longer be left to what the apostle designates as "the foolishness of preaching."
The preaching work will have accomplished its purpose -the selection of the Church. Then will begin a reign of force, of law, of rewards and punishments following promptly-instructing mankind for their highest welfare and uplifting. That condition of the future the Lord designates "the Kingdom of God," and "the Kingdom of His dear Son."
For a thousand years the great Redeemer, having bound Satan, will reign as King over the earth, for the blessing of His subjects, every one of whom is purchased with His own precious blood. The kingdom class will be composed of those who follow in His footsteps now, sincerely desirous of doing His will. His reign will be glorious, and the whole world will be enlightened with the knowledge of the truth. It will be a universal reign; "every knee shall bow and every tongue confess to the glory of God."
It will be during the reign of God's kingdom, as represented in the Great King, that all tears shall be wiped from off all faces, as is stated in our text. The word "wiped" carries with it the thought of a gradual process, and this is the general tenor of the Bible on this subject. It will require the entire thousand years of the millennium to deliver and thoroughly bless all of our race, but God is quite able to do all that He has promised. It is for us to wait patiently for Him, and meantime to comply with His gracious invitation, that we may show our loyalty now by our faithfulness to Him and to His truth, that by and by we may be counted worthy to share with our Redeemer in His throne, in harmony with His promise, "to him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I overcame and am set down with my Father in His throne."
Orange Enterprise and Journal, May 20, 1910 PENTECOSTAL BLESSINGS
London, Eng., May 15th -Albert Memorial Hall, recognized as the largest modern auditorium in the world, was crowded today to hear Pastor Russell of Brooklyn Tabernacle, New York, on "Pentecostal Blessings."
Many of the most prominent stalls and boxes are owned by the nobility, many of whom occupied them, while others, unable to attend, graciously granted permission for their occupancy by others; but hundreds were turned away. The meeting was held under the auspices of the "International Bible Students Association."
The speaker said: It is appropriate that on this day, celebrated and recognized as the anniversary of Pentecost, we should consider the import, and have well in mind what we celebrate. I therefore take as my text, the words of St. Peter explanatory of the occasion: "This is that which was spoken by the Prophet Joel: And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my [NS802] Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall have the vision which your ancients dreamed of; and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days my Spirit, and they shall proclaim." (I give you a preferred translation.) Acts 2:16-18
St. Peter declares that the outpouring of the holy Spirit upon the waiting believers at Pentecost was mentioned by Joel the Prophet, but he does not say that all of the prophecy was fulfilled there and then. As a matter of fact we know that the holy Spirit was not then poured out on all flesh; it was poured out merely upon God's servants and hand-maidens. A careful inspection shows us that there are two parts to the prophecy-
(1) All flesh, and
(2) God's servants and hand-maidens.
The order of the blessing is also stated. It will come upon all flesh after those days, but upon the servants and hand-maidens in those days. The days mentioned evidently refer to this Gospel age -from Pentecost to the second coming of Christ. In this period, of now nearly nineteen centuries, God's holy Spirit has been granted to his faithful ones, and to these alone. Only the fully consecrated have been accepted of the Lord as living sacrifices, and only such have been begotten of the holy Spirit, that they may be "new creatures in Christ."
During all this time, the world has been unrecognized so far as the holy Spirit is concerned. Indeed, the Apostle after Pentecost went still further and declares that "the whole world lieth in the Wicked One."
The only action of the holy Spirit must be, as in the case of Felix, to "reprove the world of sin and righteousness, and of a coming judgment."
Our text declares, however, that the time is coming when the world will receive a share of the great Divine blessing, which was fully assured by the death of Christ. But its time of favor will be "after those days" -after this Gospel Age shall have come to an end; after the New Dispensation, the Millennial Age, shall have come. Let us note first the blessings belonging to this Gospel Age, in which we are specially interested, and subsequently let us notice the blessings that God has promised shall come to all mankind.
THE CHURCH'S PENTECOST
It is not sufficient that we say that a Pentecostal blessing came upon the followers of Jesus in the upper room at Jerusalem, totally different from anything that had been known in the world before! We want to know why it was so; and if a blessing, why it did not come sooner to God's people? We remember Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Daniel, the Prophets; we recognize the fact that they were grand characters, and, as St. Paul said, "They had this testimony that they pleased God."
Yet there was no Pentecostal outpouring in their day, nor until the age of man in the world was more than four thousand years. Why was this? We answer that God has his own times and seasons for the various features of his work. We recall the words of our Lord Jesus, respecting his forerunner, "Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist; notwithstanding he that is least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he" (Matt. 11:11).
Why could not John, and others of the prophets preceding him, enter in and enjoy this Gospel favor? We answer, in the language of St. Paul, "God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect." (Heb. 11:40)
Our Creator has great gifts to dispense to our race through the Redeemer, and it is for him to determine the times and the seasons for the dispensing of these blessings, and to whom they shall go. According to the Divine arrangement, the Redeemer had first to die as man's Ransom-Price, before any of the race could come back into full relationship with the Creator.
It is true that by faith Abraham and others of the past did enjoy certain of God's favors, and much of his fellowship, but none could be received into full sonship and joint-heirship with Christ, until first their sins had been cancelled. Then they could be accepted in Christ on the terms which the Father has appointed. Those very disciples who received the blessing in the upper room on Pentecost, had forsaken sin, had become Jesus' disciples, had made full consecration of all their earthly hopes and interests, had been accepted by the Lord Jesus, and he had put his Spirit upon them, enabling them to do many mighty works in his name. However, it was one thing to do mighty works through his spirit, or power, and another matter to possess that spirit inherently-to act directly as agents of Divine favor instead of indirectly.
It is in harmony with this thought that we read that after our Lord breathed upon them the holy Spirit, symbolically imparting his Spirit, and commissioning them as his representatives to preach the Gospel, he told them, nevertheless, to tarry at Jerusalem until they were endued with power -the holy Spirit -until the Father should recognize them directly as his ministers and ambassadors. From the standpoint of Divine Justice, the Apostles and believers were still under the sentence of death as sinners at the time of our Lord's death, at the time of his resurrection, at the time of his ascension. Then he said to them, "It is expedient for you that I go away, for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you." (John 16:7)
After the forty days, invisibly present with his disciples, except on a few occasions for a few moments each, our Lord ascended, and after ten days [NS803] the holy Spirit from the Father came upon the waiting household of faith. It evidenced to them the fact that their sins had been forgiven for Christ's sake, that they were justified freely from all things through his sacrifice, and that their consecration to sacrifice themselves had been accepted of the Father, and that henceforth they might count themselves as 'jointsacrificers with Christ," "members of his Body," members of "the Church of the First-born, whose names are written in heaven," members of the "Seed of Abraham." (Gal. 3:29)
KEYS OF THE KINGDOM
The Master in speaking to St. Peter assured him that to him were committed the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, which signified that the way into the Kingdom at that time had not yet been opened, and that Peter would be honored by being the Lord's servant to do the opening work. There were two of these "keys," and therefore there were two opening works to be accomplished. The Church, under Christ her Lord, is God's kingdom, not yet set up or established "in power and great glory" -not yet finished or inaugurated. The work of this Gospel Age is to "call" or invite such as have a hearing ear to become joint-heirs in this Kingdom, for which he taught us to pray, Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven."
So many as genuinely accept this heavenly calling, this "high calling" to glory, honor, and immortality, are probationary members of the Kingdom of Heaven. Such are Scripturally exhorted to continue faithful to their vows of consecration, and thus make their calling and election sure to a place in this glorious Kingdom, which will be inaugurated at the second coming of Christ. But the Lord instructs all saying, "Sit down first and count the cost;" (Luke 14:28) "but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him." (Heb. 10:38)
All who are thus spirit-begotten (by the holy Spirit, John 1:13) during this age are promised a spirit birth, to spirit-being in the resurrection. We read, "It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown an animal body; it is raised a spiritual body. - .- For this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption" (1 Cor. 15:42-44, 50).
The entire period between the first advent and the second advent of our Redeemer is set apart in the Divine Program for this great work of selecting from amongst men the "little flock," such as shall be counted worthy of these honors on the spirit plane, and the privilege of participating with Messiah in his great work of the next age.
TO THE JEW FIRST
Only Jews received the Pentecostal blessing. The Gentiles were excluded for three and a half years thereafter, in harmony with a Divine promise made to the Jewish nation. Then came the time for a similar privilege to be extended to the Gentiles, and the record informs us that Cornelius was the first Gentile to be received into spiritual relationship with God. He was a good man, and had been a good man for years; he prayed often, and gave much alms to the people, but until then, the middle wall of partition separated between Jew and Gentile. Even then he could not be received of God because of his works, or prayers, or alms, but must first be instructed respecting Christ and his redemptive work, and must believe and accept the same. "Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved," (Acts 4:12) either in this age or in any other. Thus it was that, in harmony with our Redeemer's promise, St. Peter used the "key" which introduced the Gentiles to the Pentecostal blessings. As he used the first key on the Day of Pentecost in explaining to the multitudes of Jews the meaning of the Pentecostal blessings, and the privilege that they had of entering into the Divine favor thereby, so, at this later date, the Lord instructed Cornelius to send for Peter, saying, "Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodging in the house of one Simon a tanner by the seaside; who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee." (Acts 10:32; 11:14, 15)
Thus were the two "keys" used by St. Peter, and thus were the doors of the Gospel favor -the high-calling of joint-heirship with Jesus -thrown open, both to Jews and to Gentiles, through faith in the precious blood. The doors thus thrown open are not yet closed; but, as we sometimes sing, "That gate was left ajar for me.
I rejoice with you today, fellow-students of the Word of God, that this great gift of God is still obtainable, that the time has not yet fully come when the door of opportunity to this high-calling must close. Close it will, so soon as the full number of the "elect" shall be completed. Thank God that another door will then open; the door of Restitution to human perfection and to earthly life, grand beyond the power of description. But the blessed opportunity of this Pentecostal favor is still granted. As St. Peter declares in his epistle, "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature." (2 Pet. 1:4)
The door to this [NS804] divine nature is the one that will soon shut, as our Redeemer illustrated in the parable of the "Wise and Foolish Virgins."
When a sufficient number of "wise virgins" shall have entered to complete the bride class, forthwith the door of opportunity to that station, to that class, to that honor, to the divine nature, will be closed, and the elect of God will be neither one more nor one less than the number originally foreordained.
"MY SPIRIT UPON ALL FLESH"
St. Paul speaks of this Gospel age saying, "Now is the acceptable time; today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts."
Not all hear his voice in these days. The great mass of mankind have not even heard of the name of Jesus, and consequently could not harden their hearts against him, nor against the terms now offered for return to fellowship with God. This is the acceptable time or period of salvation, in the sense that God is now willing to accept the offerings of believers if they present their bodies living sacrifices. St. Paul declares that this is a reasonable service, holy and acceptable to God. (Rom. 12:1)
The testimony to the Church and the high-calling have been open during this Gospel Age. The testimony to the world and the blessings under that testimony will be during the Millennial Age. The death of Jesus is "the propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins (the Church's), and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" -in due time, during the Millennial Age (1 John 2:2).
That will be the time for the precious merit of Jesus' sacrifice to be made known, to be understood, to be appreciated, and to bring its blessed results of restitution to whosoever will receive the same. Then God's holy Spirit-holy power, will, through Christ, be outpoured upon all flesh-upon all mankind. Messiah will inaugurate the new dispensation by sealing with Israel the New Covenant in his blood; as says the Lord through the Apostle Paul, "This is my Covenant with them when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the Gospel they are enemies for your sakes, but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes." (Rom. 11:27, 28)
This out-pouring of the holy Spirit is not merely for Israel, nor God's blessing merely upon Abraham's natural seed outside the Church class. It will include all of every nation desirous of coming into accord with God, after they shall have come to a clear knowledge of the Truth. All nations shall be privileged to enter into and enjoy Israel's great Covenant, by becoming children of Abraham through faith. And all rejecters of God's grace having been destroyed in the Second Death, the world of mankind will constitute the promised seed of Abraham, whose number shall be as the sands of the seashore, even as the spirit-begotten ones of this Gospel Age are likened to the stars of heaven.
The Ancients, the Prophets, St. Peter declares, have all spoken of these glorious "times of restitution," and it will be during these times when the Lord shall pour out his Spirit upon all flesh, that the people may realize What the Ancients had seen in vision and in dreams-"the wilderness blossoming as a rose ,"the solitary place being glad," "fountains in the desert," "the knowledge of the Lord filling the whole earth as the waters cover the great deep, and none needing to say to his neighbor, Know thou the Lord, for all shall know him from the least to the greatest."
Orange Enterprise and Journal, May 27, 1910 THE OVERTHROW OF SATAN'S EMPIRE
London, Eng., May 22-Albert Memorial Hall was again crowded to hear Pastor Russell. The discourse, on The Overthrow of Satan's Empire," was in the nature of a religious lecture. It was marked throughout by deepest reverence for the Bible, many of the passages of which shone out with a new meaning under the searchlight of his message.
He asserted, and seemed to prove, the personality of Satan. But according to his showing it is a great mistake to suppose the Archenemy of mankind to be afar off stoking furnaces and torturing the dead. Instead, he is the cunning Deceiver who for centuries has been hood-winking humanity, including the Church-putting darkness for light and light for darkness. God did not create him a devil. He became such by self-perversion through ambition. Originally his name was Lucifer -Morning Star. He beheld our first parents in Eden, noted their power to produce a race in their own likeness and coveted an empire with them as his subjects.
For six thousand years God has permitted Satan to exercise a measure of deceptive power over the race and to display to both angels and men the terrible results of sin, as exemplified in what the Apostle terms [NS805] the "reign of sin and death," and the mental, moral and physical degradation resulting. Satan has not been alone. Not only is he "the Prince of this world" or age, but additionally he is the "Prince of devils" -demons. The speaker showed from the Scriptures (Genesis 6; Jude 6) how these subordinate demons had once been holy angels, too-and when and where they sinned, and how. "The Apostle Peter gives the key to the real solution of the matter when, in reciting the events connected with the flood, he tells us of the fall of the angels at that time, who 'in the days of Noah' 'kept not their first estate.' (1 Pet. 3:19, 20)
Those angels who were permitted to have a measure of control of the fallen race, with a view to helping them as much as they might be able, and who, for the purpose of rendering such assistance to mankind, were permitted to appear in human form, became enamored of the human female, and preferred the human form to their own state as spirit beings. They thus left their original estate, as Jude also explains (Jude 6).
These angels are the ones denominated the 'sons of God,' none of the human family being given that name after the fall. The angels who fell from their noble work and condition, and became groveling and sensual, manifested clearly in their own course the downward tendency of all transgressions of the divine law. "The Apostles Peter and Jude clearly mark out the punishment visited upon those 'sons of God' who thus betrayed their trust and fell into sin, 'leaving their own habitation,' their own nature, and affiliating with the human nature. Their punishment has been their deprivation of all such liberties, and their separation from God and from the holy angels: and this restraint is called, by the Apostle, 'chains of darkness,' while the restrained ones themselves, instead of being recognized as 'sons of God,' or angels of light, were thenceforth known as 'angels of darkness,' 'demons,' 'wicked spirits.'
Incidentally we remark that these are the 'spirits in prison' mentioned by Peter (1 Pet. 3:19), and that although restricted as respects their powers of fellowship with the holy angels, and with mankind, being no longer privileged to appear as men, they still seek human fellowship, endeavoring to gain possession of human beings who yield up their wills, and who are then said to be possessed of devils or 'obsessed.' It is but a preliminary step toward thus getting possession of the individual that these wicked spirits appeal to humanity to become their mediums (spirit mediums), through whom they to some extent communicate. And they personate dead human beings, because they know well that humanity would shun them and fear them if their real identity were discovered. "Satan and his subordinates have maintained a system of human deception," the speaker declared, and it must be confessed that he gave Biblical proofs for his every claim. He asserted that the communications believed by Spiritualists -Dr. Funk, Prof. Hyslop, Editor Stead and others-to be communications from the dead, are really deceptive communications from these fallen angels.
So far from claiming that these professors and mediums practice deception, his claim is that they themselves are deceived and are unintentionally leading others onward into a terrible Spiritualistic maelstrom, which, he declares, we are nearing, according to the Bible. He warned against hypnotism, mind cures, etc., practiced by well-meaning but deceived physicians, ministers and others. He declared that all these tended to break down the human will, the God-given barrier and defense of mankind against the encroachments of these fallen angels, who seek continually to intrude themselves into the mind, thoughts and will of men. He warned all against occult influences of every kind, urging that the human will should be preserved and should be submitted only to the Almighty, and to him only- intelligently in accordance with his instructions in the Bible.
OVERTHROW OF SATAN'S EMPIRE
"Satan, through false doctrines-'doctrines of devils,' has entrenched himself in the superstitions and prejudices, not only of the heathen, but also of the civilized. The creeds of the Dark Ages evidenced the fact that he had much to do with their formulation. His false doctrines, antagonistic to the Bible, have been palmed off upon us as veritable Bible truths -just as Satan endeavored to twist and misapply the Bible to Jesus in his wilderness temptation (Mark 1:13).
Thus Satan has caused gross darkness to cover the heathen and considerable darkness to cover the civilized earth. But we are in the morning of the New Dispensation, which is to bring so much blessing to the world of mankind in the opening of the eyes of man s understanding, and in physical blessings and comforts. As a result we have the wonderful conveniences and appliances of steam and electricity, the printing press and the electric light, as instead of the tallow candle and quill pen of the past. 'Whatsoever doth make manifest is light;' and special light is due also at this time to God's consecrated people.
The illumination now granted to the eyes of our understanding as Christians, through Bible study helps, is intended to be for the Christian what the arc-light is in nature. "Man's subserviency to Satan is an unwilling captivity. Even those who realize their bondage do not [NS806] generally recognize by whom they have been enslaved. But gradually the bonds are breaking as we near the time of Satan's overthrow. According to the Bible our Lord at his Second Advent will bind the Adversary for a thousand years that he may deceive mankind no more. Meantime all the blessed influences of light and Truth and grace will be let loose in the world and as a result, 'the knowledge of the glory of God shall fill the whole earth.'
Instead of the darkness of the night of sin and death there will be the 'morning of joy,' and gladness and restitution and blessing. 'The sun of righteousness will arise with healing in his beams.' Of that glorious day Saint Peter spoke, saying, Times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord, and he shall send Jesus Christ, who before was preached unto you, whom the heavens must retain until the Times of Restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began.' (Acts 3:19-21).
Satan's destruction, according to the Bible, will not be consummated until after the MILLENNIAL KINGDOM OF CHRIST shall have accomplished its glorious work of uplifting humanity out of sin and death conditions to full human perfection and the image of God. All the unwilling and disobedient will be counted as servants of Satan and will, with him be destroyed in the Second Death -extinction -from which there will be no redemption or recovery.
GREAT MISSIONARY WORK
"The missionary work of blessing and uplifting 'all the families of the earth' is appointed of God for the Millennial Kingdom-and, thank God, the evidences are that it is very near, yea, in a sense, already beginning. Its blessings are intimated by the wonderful progress of our day. Everything waits until the predetermined number of Missionaries shall have been called and schooled and tested and found worthy of the great and honorable work. The qualification is that each must be a 'copy of God's dear Son'-so far as heart intention is concerned.
Then these Missionaries will be glorified like their Lord, on the spirit plane and with him they will constitute the 'Kingdom of God's dear Son,' which for a thousand years will bless the world and bring to pass all that the Lord our God has spoken, and more than we could have asked or thought. "Christian people have no need to upbraid themselves on the score that the missionary efforts of eighteen centuries have accomplished comparatively little. They have no need to be discouraged with the fact that the census returns show that in the past century of the greatest missionary endeavor the proportionate numbers of the heathen have doubled (six hundred millions a century ago-twelve hundred millions today).
This is all as God foreknew and intended. God did not purpose the conversion of the heathen during this age, but commissioned his people to preach his Gospel to every nation for a witness, that the Elect Missionaries for the future work might be gathered from every country, people and tongue. God's will has been done. The Adversary temporarily misled the Church into a misunderstanding of her mission. He sought to have us lower our standard of saintship, in order to increase the Church far and near. He sought to oppose the Divine will by lowering the standards of saintship so as to include the masses of mankind. He thus worked against Divine arrangements. But he has not succeeded. God has merely allowed him to prove, test, separate and manifest the saints-the 'very elect.'
A GREAT TIME OF TROUBLE
"The coming of the light, the loosing of the fetters of ignorance and superstition from the minds that are not submitted to God, the Scriptures show us, will result in a great time of trouble, in which the passions of men but partially enlightened will do great violence to the entire social fabric. We see the preliminary steps already being taken, and, in the light of the Scriptures, we see the awful catastrophe which will result. The world is rapidly resolving itself into two mighty powers, selfishly and with semi-enlightenment, preparing for a headlong collision which will mean wreck and ruin, tribulation and anguish, to practically the whole world. The Bible, in calling attention to this great time of trouble, warns the people of God, so far as possible to avoid both sides of the controversy, saying, 'Seek meekness; seek righteousness, it may be that ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger. (Zeph. 2:3)
With the wreck of present institutions comes the end of Satan's regime. So terrible will be the heat of passion and strife engendered at that time that the Scriptures declare that if it were not for the 'Elect' there would be no flesh saved. (Mark 13:20)
The interposition of the Elect as the Kingdom of God under Jesus, the great King and Head of the Elect, is the silver lining to that dark cloud. The moment of man's extremity will become the moment of God's opportunity. "So terrible will be that time of trouble that the Scriptures symbolically represent it as a whirlwind; as a flood; and as a fire. Some have mis-interpreted these Scriptures and are expecting a literal burning of the earth, but the Lord denominates it the 'fire of his jealousy,' which will devour Society. And then he tells us that following the fire of trouble he 'will turn to the people a pure message that they may all call upon the [NS807] name of the Lord to serve him with one consent. (Zeph. 3:9)
Satan has had much to do with corrupting the message originally given to the Church by Jesus and the Apostles. The jarring creeds have made discordant sounds which have driven many noble and logical hearts away from the Bible. God's assurance is that the completion of the Church is near; that her change to the heavenly glory in 'the First Resurrection' will soon be accomplished and that then the reign of SIN and DEATH will end under the Kingdom of Jesus.
Then the bondage of the world to ignorance, superstition, etc., will terminate; then 'all the blind eyes will be opened and all the deaf ears will be unstopped' and the Lord's pure message of Divine Justice, Divine Love, Divine Wisdom and Divine Power exerted on man's behalf shall be made known to every creature. "Fellow-Christians, what an incentive to become more and more loyal and earnest as the servants of so great and gracious a Sovereignty-that of our Father and our Redeemer! And what an incentive we have to seek first, in preference to all earthly interests, a share with our Savior in his Millennial Kingdom and its gracious work of human uplift-from the depths of sin and degradation to the heights of earthly perfection and eternal life! Let us, as the Apostle exhorts, 'lay aside every weight, and the sin that does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race set before us (Heb. 12:1).
This race is for the 'crown of glory,' as members of the Elect Missionary Church and for the glorious opportunities then to be afforded for the realization of the most glorious dreams of service for the King of kings and Lord of lords. "We cannot suppose that Satan's Empire is entirely satisfactory to himself. Undoubtedly his original thought was the organization of a realm resembling that of the Almighty.
But the course of sin is ever downward. To obtain control of our first parents they were misled into steps of disobedience-sin-and the Adversary himself, having started upon the wrong course, can maintain his own standing and kingdom only by determined opposition to Jehovah. This is the significance of the name given him in the Scriptures-'Adversary.' "The Scriptures set forth that all humanity must, either now or some time, come to the point of decision between obedience to God and disobedience. The obedient will be guided back to ultimate harmony with the Creator and obtain the reward of life eternal. On the contrary, the disobedient, the wilfully rebellious against God and his righteous arrangement, taking the course of Satan, will ultimately share his fate-destruction.
"Responsibility and the decision as to life eternal and death eternal, come to each member of Adam's race as soon as he is brought into a clear knowledge of the Truth. This privilege of coming to a knowledge of the Truth, the opportunity of eternal salvation, is secured to all the families of the earth, to Adam and every member of his race, through the great Redeemer's sacrifice finished at Calvary. While thanking God for the length and breadth and height and depth of his glorious provision for the world in general, we who now hear this message and heed it have the special blessing and opportunity of jointheirship with Jesus the Redeemer in his great work of the Millennial Age. Let us not only accept the Divine favor, but let us run with patience the race set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and the one who shall be the Finisher of our faith, seeking for needed aid to make our calling and election sure!"
Orange Enterprise and Journal June 3, 1910 AS THE WATERS COVER THE GREAT DEEP
Pastor Russell is returning to America in good condition after having addressed the public of Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, Warsaw, Russia; Rome and Jerusalem -in all, forty times. His largest audiences were at London, about 7,000, with Glasgow a good second.
Mid-Ocean, May 29-As I look abroad and see water, water everywhere, without a speck of land in sight, and as I reflect that we are passing over varying depths, some of which are as great as five miles, I am reminded of the promise in the Lord's Word that ultimately the whole earth, the world of mankind, shall have such an abundant knowledge of the Creator and the Redeemer, as to be fitly illustrated by the depths of the sea. I have therefore chosen as my text the words, "The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea."
I remember also the very similar promise by the Lord through the Prophet (Hab 2:14), "For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as [NS808] the waters cover the sea."
And again "That at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
And I am also reminded that in that day, "They shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord" (Jer. 31:34).
The question properly arises, To what extent shall we consider these statements literally true? What kind of fulfillment should we expect them to have? If we look out upon the heathen world, however sympathetic we may be in respect to foreign missionary work, doing all in our power to make known to the heathen the grace of God and the great Redeemer we are nevertheless compelled to admit that there is absolutely no hope of our ever causing every knee to bow, and every tongue to confess Christ in heathen lands, even as we have long ago given up hope of accomplishing such work in civilized lands.
The work is too great for us, and the errors of heathendom are too deeply seated to be quickly eradicated. Government statistics show us that there are twice as many heathen today as there were a century ago. If, therefore, any of us had been flattering ourselves respecting our ability to accomplish the conversion of the world, it is time for us to acknowledge our error and to look to the Lord, realizing that in him alone is the world's hope. Doubtless this is just the lesson that the Lord wishes us to learn. He does not wish us to give up our efforts to "Do good unto all men as we have opportunity, especially the household of faith," for our own blessing is associated with such activity on behalf of others. But God does wish us to realize that of ourselves we are unable to cope with the situation.
He wishes us to realize that only through the establishment of the Kingdom of God's dear Son can the glorious blessings of the Millennium ever be hoped for. Alas! We must admit, and should feel deeply humble by the admission, that even in civilized lands, the number of footstep-followers of the Lamb of God is very few. The number who are "walking, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" in civilized lands is very few, in comparison with the population as a whole. We are not in this setting ourselves as judges of the hearts of our fellow-creatures-remarkably few make any pretention to walking in the "narrow way," which alone now leads to life everlasting. (Matt. 7:14)
THE NECESSITY FOR KNOWLEDGE
Many dear Christian people, desirous of thinking well of the heavenly Father, are so befogged with the teachings of the past, that they try to imagine that the way to eternal life is not so narrow as the Master said; they try to imagine that somehow the heathen will be saved in their ignorance, notwithstanding the Apostle says, "How shall they believe on him of whom they have not heard." (Rom. 10:14)
The error from the past which led to this inconsistency is the teaching that all of the heathen are going to eternal torture, and that they never will have an opportunity of accepting Christ in the future. They rebel against the thought which has come down from the dark ages that God foreknew the ignorance of the heathen and predestinated their eternal torture; that they should not hear of the only name under heaven or given among men whereby they might be saved and fixed their environments so that they never heard. The whole difficulty, we see, lies in the fact that God's people in the past have not studied his Word as they should have done. Some of us subscribed to one creed, and some to another, saying to ourselves, Our creed is not satisfactory, but it is probably as free from error as other creeds.
We consoled ourselves with the thought that all Christendom was considerably befogged, and we no more than others. Some of us probably tried to satisfy our minds by saying that those features of our creeds, which dishonored God, and implied his lack of wisdom, or worse, his willingness but lack of justice, or lack of power-that these things were mysteries which must be believed, although they could not be reconciled with human reason and common sense. Some of us even tried to persuade ourselves that we were exercising extraordinary faith in these matters, but in reality we were merely ignorant of God's Word, and credulous of the wisdom of our creed-makers of the past.
TRUE LIGHT NOW SHINING
But, thank God, 'The night is far spent, and the day is at hand" (Rom. 13:12).
The evidence that we are in the morning of the new dispensation multiplies on every hand! We are evidently in the period which the Bible declares as "The day of God's preparation."
God is preparing to usher in the long-promised period of blessing and refreshment, which he has foretold through all the [NS809] holy prophets. The wonderful inventions of our day along the lines of chemistry, steam and electricity are fulfillments of the wonderful "Day of Christ," which is nearing. God's people have failed of great blessings in not sooner noticing this fact.
We stood, as it were, with our backs toward the East, looking for the sun to rise in the West; we were looking to our own efforts to convert the world, rather than looking to the Lord from whom alone must come the help. Hence the glow in the East had assumed considerable proportions before we noticed it-and many of our brethren are still looking to the West, and angrily refuse to turn and follow the dawn of the New Dispensation, which now may be so clearly seen by the eye of faith. Let us note well the Apostle Peter's words, assuring us that the vision he had on the Mount of Transfiguration made a deep impression upon him. He tells us, nevertheless, that "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts" -the "parousia" (presence) of Christ, the "Morning Star."
KNOWLEDGE A NECESSITY
But admitting the promise of the Scriptures that the knowledge of the Lord shall be worldwide and ocean deep -that every creature shall be brought to an accurate knowledge of the truth, in due time (1 Tim. 2:4-6), wherefore is the necessity for this? Is knowledge really indispensable to salvation?
Is it not written in the Scriptures of the Apostles Peter and John, that "The people perceived that they were ignorant and unlearned men?" If their ignorance and lack of learning did not hinder them from having God's favor, and obtaining salvation through Christ, and even obtaining Apostleship, why should so much stress be laid upon knowledge? Does God really care for knowledge? Has he predetermined that all who would be in his favor must be educated, and that he cares naught for the ignorant? Do we not read to the contrary that, "Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise." (1 Cor. 1:26, 27)
Very true, we answer. With God the wisdom of this world is foolishness, and with this world, the wisdom of God is foolishness. Knowledge may therefore be viewed from two standpoints. So far as worldly knowledge commending any man or woman to God, or making any man or woman more fit for divine favor, we believe the contrary to be true. Unwillingly we are forced to the conclusion that the great colleges of the world are the most destructive agencies in the earth, as respects the Divine revelation, the Bible, and the true knowledge of God, which is essential to salvation and eternal life.
We therefore sharply discriminate between earthly knowledge and heavenly knowledge, and between the wisdom of men and the wisdom of God. Our Lord Jesus gave us the key to this question of the importance of knowledge in relationship to our attainment of eternal life. He said, in praying to the Father, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (John 17:3)
Only such as attain to this knowledge may have eternal life. Consequently we see at a glance that remarkably few of our race have thus far attained to the degree of knowledge which God would be pleased to recognize. At first this might seem peculiar to us; we might say to ourselves or to others. Why does not God give it out freely to all? The reply of the Scriptures is that God is giving his knowledge freely now to a certain class, and that by and by he will give it to all the families of the earth. This essential knowledge is promised to the faithful in the world, He that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. "The secret of the Lord is with them that reverence him, and he will show them his Covenant."
"Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear."
Such as thus abide in covenant relationship with the Lord Jesus are indeed taught of God in the School of Christ, and may truly grow in grace and knowledge. A distinction should be observed in knowing about God, and knowing God himself. It is not sufficient that we should recognize God as the Almighty Creator, for devils also believe that. On the other hand, to be intimately acquainted with God means that we must come into intimate fellowship with him, and this means that we must come unto the Father through the Son, by faith. By thus coming to our heavenly Father by an acquaintance with his Word, and through an appreciation of his glorious work, past, present, and future, we get a view of the lengths, and breadths, and heights and depths of "love divine, all love excelling."
In proportion as we behold the outline of the Divine character, we perceive our own deficiencies and try the more to rid ourselves of them, and at least manifest to the Lord that our hearts are in harmony with the principles of righteousness.
THE SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
Very appropriately the Scriptures speak of the present as a night-time. They tell us that now "Darkness covers the (civilized) earth, and gross darkness the people (Heathendom)."
They assure us [NS810] that now God's people need the lamp of Divine revelation to guide their footsteps until the day dawns. They assure us, however, that the morning will be ushered in by the great Sun of Righteousness -the Christ, the Messiah, Prophet, Mediator, King of Glory. Now is the Church excluded from this work of shining upon and enlightening the world and scattering its darkness.
The Master gave us to understand that the Church with himself will constitute the Sun of Righteousness, which will then arise with healing in its beams. Thus in the parable of the Wheat and Tares, he pictures the entire work of this Gospel Age and its consummation, which he styles "The harvest -the end of the age."
His word respecting the separation of the wheat from the tares is that the wheat shall be gathered into his barn-changed from the earthly to the heavenly nature, and he adds, "Then shall the righteous shine as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father."
"He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear."
The figure of the rising sun scattering the darkness, ignorance and superstition of the world harmonizes with the other picture, which represents the Kingdom of God superseding the kingdom of Satan, and those deluded by Satan, styled in the Scriptures, the kingdoms of this world.
BE GLAD AND REJOICE
We may well sympathize with our forefathers, to whom it was not granted to see as clearly as we may now see the glorious fullness of the Divine purpose to eventually enlighten the whole earth, by causing the knowledge of the glory of God to fill the whole earth as the waters cover the great deep. To us, therefore, is especially applicable the prophetic words, "Be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create. For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind." (Isa. 65:18, 17)
Thus does the Lord picture the new dispensation in graphic language. The new heavens symbolically represent the Church in its new and glorified condition, exercising superior control over the affairs of mankind. Likewise, the new earth symbolically represents the new state or condition of society-the new social order of things which will be introduced as a part of the New Dispensation.
Imperfection is now written upon everything with which men are associated, partly because of our fallen condition through heredity, and partly, as the Scriptures declare, through Satan, the god of this world or age, who now works in the hearts of the children of disobedience -prompting to sin and selfishness, pride and ambition, and in every sense of the word tending to alienate the hearts of men from the ways of righteousness.
Moreover, the Adversary is largely responsible for the gross errors of misconception of the Divine character, which during the centuries past have been creeping into the minds of those who were feeling after God, if haply they might find him. All who are of the right spirit, truth-seekers, and truth-lovers, will be glad to abandon the errors on this subject, which so long have hindered a proper appreciation of the glorious character of our heavenly Father. By teaching us through false doctrines to dread the heavenly Father, the Adversary has implanted in our minds a fear which constitutes a barrier. The Lord speaks of this saying, 'Their fear of me is taught by the precepts of men." (Isa. 29:13)
Let us then use more diligently than ever before the wonderful Bible which Divine Providence has placed within the reach of all of God's people, that we may know him, whom to know aright will mean to us life eternal.
The Tippecanoe County Democrat, June 10, 1910 JERUSALEM
This discourse was republished in its entirety in the Convention Report Sermons, pages SM103-105, under same title.
Brooklyn, N. Y., June 5-Pastor Russell returned from his European trip just in time to keep his appointment to speak in Brooklyn's largest auditorium, the Academy of Music. His topic was 'JERUSALEM," from the text, "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her that her appointed time is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins. (Isa. 60:1, 2)