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HARVEST GLEANINGS 2
The Weekly Enquirer, July 28, 1910 ALL IN ADAM. ALL IN CHRIST
"Since by man came death, by man also comes the resurrection of the dead; for as all die in Adam, even so all in Christ shall be made alive. But every man in his own order; Christ, the first fruits; afterwards they that are Christ's during his presence." 1 Cor. 15:21-23 (R. V.)
Once we considered most unkind, unjust, the Bible declaration that our Creator condemned all of Adam's race with him on account of Adam's "Original Sin."
But now, in the light of the clearer unfolding of God's Word, we are privileged to see differently. Now we perceive, not only that God did no injustice to Adam's children, but, contrariwise, that in this very particular, he did them a kindness-that it was in the interest of humanity in general. We are aware that this statement appears paradoxical to those who have not yet got the proper focus upon the Divine Plan. The key which unlocks the difficulty is the proper appreciation of the penalty upon Adam and his race.
The erroneous, unscriptural view of this penalty, which came down to us from the "dark ages," teaches that God damned Father Adam, Mother Eve and every child born to them to an eternity of torture at the hands of devils. It is this unscriptural and irrational view of the wage of Original Sin which caused all of our difficulty. Indeed, it is safe to say that no other false doctrine held by God's people ever drove away from God, from the Bible and from the fellowship of the church so many intelligent minds.
Thousands of bright, honest minds, after seeing this teaching of the Christian creeds, formulated in the dark ages, have quietly withdrawn from them in heart, if not outwardly, saying to themselves: Evidently my reasoning faculties are of a different kind from those of many others prominent in the church: Without disputing the point, I simply conclude that I must think for myself, and that, in so doing, I am forced out of sympathy with the majority of fellow Christians on this basic doctrine. Can we find fault with such people? Surely not.
Indeed, in our day matters have come to such a pass that, if this question be propounded in any congregation of Christian people anywhere, not one in ten would confess to believing it. And it is to their credit that their hearts and heads have outgrown this theory of the dark and musty past. How is it, then, that we see the creeds of the past reverenced, almost worshiped, while some of their most important features are denied, disbelieved, by the most intelligent of their adherents? Does not common honesty call out in thunder tones to every Christian to clear himself of the shame of believing such creeds, and, above all, to clear the character of the God of all grace from the foul stain of association with such a diabolical proposition? When will Christian people display the courage of their convictions and cast from them this pernicious doctrine, which has already done so much to dishonor their Creator, to dishonor the Bible and to dishonor the name of Christians?
WHERE LIES THE DIFFICULTY
The difficulty is that while the majority of Christian people heartily repudiate these misrepresentations of God and His Word, nevertheless the subject is not dear to them and they fear that to repudiate this doctrine would be to repudiate the Bible and to become open infidels. And just here is their mistake. The majority of them are not Bible students.
Even among ministers of the gospel comparatively few have any degree of knowledge of God's Word. They know what they think about the Bible; what they believe it teaches; what they have been told that it teaches; what the catechisms say it teaches; but they have never made critical investigations of the Bible themselves to ascertain its teachings. It is a part of our endeavor to arouse Christian people everywhere to search and study the Scriptures and to assist them with Bible study helps, Bible keys, etc. And, thank God, there are thousands in spiritual Israel who are not bowing their knees to Baal, but who are anxious to know, to rightly understand, the Word of God. Classes in Bible study are springing up all over the world. These have recently adopted the name of "International Bible Students' Association."
God is blessing them, not only with the opening of their own eyes more and more widely, but also in using them to bring others "out of darkness into His marvelous light." 1 Pet. 2:9 The Scriptures speak of a "famine, not for bread nor for water, but for hearing of the Word of the [NS826] Lord."
This famine is upon us now. Not only are Christian people hungry and thirsty for the bread of life and the water of life, but many of the worldly are feeling a longing for something better than the husks which they have. We do not know that all church members, nor all of any one church membership, are thus hungering and thirsting for truth. But we do know that everywhere in all the various churches of all denominations there is a hungry class which cannot be satisfied to dishonestly misrepresent itself as in harmony with their creeds.
These bewildered sheep are, of late years, finding the green pastures and still waters of Divine truth and grace-near to them-in the Word of God-hidden under the rubbish of ignorance and superstition, mistranslation and misinterpretation. But, as for the masses of all denominations, alas, they are falling into unbelief! The popular form of infidelity, known as higher criticism, has already swallowed up more than one half of the ministry and of the most intelligent part of the laity. The only hope for any of these is in leaving the chaff and husks of mediaeval misinterpretations of God's Word and in finding its true meaning, in which is refreshment, strength and new life.
THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH
However we read our Bibles in the past we read into them from the creeds of a darker time the mischievous error that when the Bible declares a death penalty for sin it really means the reverse of this-life, eternal life in eternal torture. Who had the right to twist the inspired words in such a devilish fashion? Who had the right to add to the Word of God and to make void its true teaching in this manner? Hear the words of the Apostle: "The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom. 6:23)
What statement could be more simple? The wicked will not be granted life at all, either in pleasure or in pain. They are under sentence of death -destruction. Eternal life is a gift. And it will be given only to those to whom it will be a blessing- to those who will accept it through Jesus Christ our Lord. All others shall experience the very death penalty which God pronounced against Father Adam and his race when sin first entered the world. Let us turn to Genesis and note the statements made to our first parents respecting sin and its penalty. Let us note that, without the twistings of theology, we should have no difficulty in understanding the Divine sentence, as our first parents evidently had no difficulty.
The sentence upon Father Adam for disobedience was: "Dying thou shalt die;" "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return;" "Cursed is the ground for thy sake;" "Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth unto thee until thou return unto the ground from which thou wast taken." (Gen. 3:2, 3, 16-19, 24)
How beautifully simple and clear and rational! God took from our first parents the privilege of living because they did not continue to exercise their blessings in harmony with His law. Thus we see that the penalty for sin upon Adam and his race was that they should return to the dust. As we read again, "Thou turnest man to destruction" (Psa. 90:3)
And this penalty is sufficiently awful when we think of what it means to die, to lose mental, moral and physical perfection and gradually go into the tomb-into the Bible hell (sheol, throughout the Old Testament). And this sheol, the grave, the tomb, to which the Bible says all go, good and bad, rich and poor, holy and unholy, were the only hell known among any of the people of God for the more than 4,000 years represented by the teachings of the Old Testament. Then came the New Testament times and the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles to the same effect.
In the New Testament the Greek word hades, representing the tomb, the death state, takes the place of the Old Testament sheol in every passage translated from the Old Testament into the New Testament. It was nearly 300 years after Jesus and the Apostles, after the writing of the New Testament, before the doctrine of purgatory was invented. And for this reason neither the word purgatory nor the purgatory thought is expressed in the Scriptures. But Bibles were few, and the people could not have read them even if they had possessed them, hence for long centuries the teachings of the clergy were accepted without Bible proof, and the doctrine of purgatory spread all over Christendom. All of our forefathers believed in it.
It became the teaching of Christians everywhere that the mere handful of saints, instead of dying when they seemed to die, went to heaven, and that the great mass of humanity, instead of dying when they seemed to die, went in some mysterious manner to a mysterious place called purgatory, of which nobody knew anything except what they were taught. The teaching is that practically all of humanity go to purgatory, there to be roasted and otherwise tortured for centuries-ultimately to gain release from the torture when fitted for heaven. Upon this doctrine in turn sprang the doctrine of saying "masses for the dead," who were believed not to be dead, but intensely alive. The fear of purgatory drew the people very close to the priests as the supposed counselors of the Almighty, and the mass money drew the priests very close to the people. They were all honestly intentioned, but all deceived by the great deceiver, Satan. [NS827]
A BAD MATTER MADE WORSE
By and by a Catholic theologian and teacher in one of their colleges, by name Martin Luther, accidentally ran across a copy of the New Testament in the Latin language. Being an educated man he was able to read it, for there was not a copy in the German language anywhere. Luther tells us of his perplexity in not finding purgatory in the New Testament. He tried to interest the Pope in Bible study, but failed, and instead was branded a heretic. He protested and others protested, hence the name Protestants.
These Protestants were undoubtedly as sincere before their protests as they were afterward, hence their protest was against the very doctrines which once they had proclaimed as the truth. Their minds were full of the thought that a dead person is not dead, but more alive than before he died, and that some of these at death went to heaven, while the great majority went to purgatory. They did not see the teaching of the Bible that "the wages of sin is death" -that all go into death, good and bad, and that this death state is the sheol and hades of the Bible. Instead of getting this true light upon God's Word they went from darkness into greater darkness on this point.
Here we wish to emphasize the thought that all these noble men, Catholics and Protestants, in their day, like all true people today, held a measure of truth in combination with errors. It is the measure of truth possessed and enjoyed that has given any power and force to our various Christian systems, and that to some extent has neutralized the effect of our errors. Starting from their misunderstanding of Bible teachings respecting the wages of sin, Brother Luther and his noble companions battled bravely for many truths, but made one great blunder. When they concluded that purgatory was contrary to the Scriptures and threw it away, and not seeing the Bible hell, the tomb, they adopted another hell and thereby went from bad to worse on this subject. They said, about heaven-that the masses of the civilized are surely not saints -surely they do not follow in the footsteps of Jesus -surely, therefore, they cannot be of his spiritual flock.
Concluding that these could not be taken to heaven, they said, we must take them out of purgatory anyway, wherever we put them, because we have found out that there is no such place as purgatory. After conferences, seriously disliking to make out God's character worse than they formerly supposed, they said, under their breaths, we must take them out of purgatory and quickly put them into hell of eternal torture and say as little about the matter as possible. They were greatly relieved when long-headed Brother John Calvin explained to them about the mere handful going to heaven and the great mass going to eternal torture. He explained that God had foreordained and predestinated these awful results -that he might show his wisdom and his power.
As to a "Love Divine, all love excelling," Brother Calvin seems never to have thought of that. Brother Wesley and others since, though less logical and theoretical, did stand up for and declare the love of God, even though rather absurdity, they claimed that he was neither wise enough nor powerful enough to do more than rescue a mere handful of Adam's race from the eternal torture to which they thought God damned them all because of the disobedience in Eden.
"ALL IN ADAM -ALL IN CHRIST"
In the light of our better Bibles and Bible study helps and minds freed from the ignorance and superstitions of the past we may understand the Apostle's words and find in them, not only justice and love, but harmony and beauty. Instead of all mankind going to eternal torment for Adam's sin, all go into the Bible hell, the grave, on account of his sin-and all of the mental, moral and physical blemishes of our race are a part of this heredity. There would have been no hope of a future life, good or bad, had not God in His mercy provided the Savior-the "Life-Giver," as the Syriac renders the word. In God's due time He set before His son the opportunity of becoming man's redeemer. The Logos was made flesh (John 1:14) and obediently gave Himself in death-"tasted death for every man."
As by one man's disobedience the sentence of death passed upon all of the race, even so by the obedience of the man Christ Jesus unto death, justification to life passed for all of that race. Now we see the wise reason for permitting the sentence to pass through one man's disobedience to all of his posterity. It was in order that one sacrifice for sin might make possible the reconciliation of the entire race. Now read our text and drink in its depths and beauty and force. The resurrection of mankind from the sin and death and tomb condition to the full perfection and image of God, from which the race fell, is the salvation which God has provided for all. Whoever will fail to attain the full recovery from sin and death conditions will have himself to blame because of rejection of the glorious arrangements which God made in and through Christ.
THE FIRST RESURRECTION
God divides the salvation of mankind into two parts-the church to spirit nature and the world to perfected human nature. The first He is accomplishing during this gospel age; the second He will [NS828] accomplish through Christ and the church during Messiah's reign of a thousand years. The church, the "little flock" of saints, called, tried, tested, in the narrow way, during this age are to constitute the "First Resurrection" class and to become "the Bride of Christ," "the Church of the First-Borns."
These are to be associated with the Great Redeemer in His future work. These shall be, like Him, changed from earthly to heavenly nature and made sharers of His glory, honor and immortality. The kingdom of God under the whole heavens will be inaugurated after the glorification of the church, and then will begin the blessing, the salvation, the uplifting, the resurrecting, of mankind in general -from sin and death conditions -not to spiritual conditions, but to perfect earthly conditions.
Only the church is promised life on the spirit plane. All the willing and obedient shall be blessed by the great Life-Giver who, 18 centuries ago, died, the just for the unjust, and who, during the period since has been selecting the Bride class. With his Bride he will reign to bless the world, to make the whole earth beautiful. As it is written, "I will make the place of my feet glorious."
He will not preserve them in torture or otherwise. They will die the second death. But none will die the second death for Adam's transgression. Christ died for that transgression and will release Adam and all his race therefrom, even while He still holds them responsible for every willful transgression and gives stripes or punishment therefore to teach them to love righteousness and to hate iniquity." (Acts 3:19, 23)
The National Labor Tribune, July 30, 1910 WHERE ARE THE DEAD NON-ELECT?
GALFSBURG, Ill., July 30- Pastor Russell of Brooklyn, and now also of London, delivered addresses to large audiences at the Galesburg Chautauqua. His topics were, "Where are the Dead?" and "The Judgment of the Great White Throne."
We report the former. Each address lasted for nearly two hours, but so deeply interested were the audiences that they seemed not to note the flight of time. He said: No other question could be of deeper interest to thinking people than the one now before us-"Where Are the Dead?" Our ancestors, our neighbors, our friends, are dead or dying, and ourselves with them. What will be our condition when the spark of life flickers out? I have no new revelation on this subject. I have merely for my guide what is recognized by all Christians as the Divine revelation on this subject -the Bible. I hold that there is no other source of information comparable to it.
Before presenting his own findings on the subject, in the Bible, Pastor Russell reviewed the findings of others-Christians in general. The agnostic view, that there is no life beyond the tomb, he could not entertain. He believed that man's organism, so much higher than that of the brute, implies not only an all-wise Creator, but His benevolent intention for man s future. He examined the Catholic view, and, while according full liberty to every Catholic to believe what to him seems reasonable respecting the dead, Pastor Russell could not agree with Roman Catholic teachings. He summarized their view to be that a very saintly few were fit for heaven and that they went thither. He complimented the justice of their intentions; that a comparatively small number of humanity were worthy of eternal torture. For his own part, he could not imagine any human being, on account of any human weakness or depravity, as meriting endless torture.
The Catholic. view, that all heathen and practically all Protestants and Catholics go in death to purgatory, he could not agree with for two reasons. First, he finds no Scriptural authority for such a view, and secondly, his mind cannot accept the thought that an all-wise, all-just, all-loving and powerful Creator will torture His creatures for centuries in any such manner as Catholics generally believe, and as Dante's great poem, "Inferno," so graphically depicts.
OUR PROTESTANT VIEW IS WORSE
Pastor Russell declared that he was a Protestant, in large measure because his parents were such. But he declared that while he sees many truths both in Protestant and in Catholic teachings he considers that the Protestant view respecting the hereafter of the dead the most diabolical conception to be found on the face of the earth, the grossest blasphemy against the Divine character and provision for humanity. Had he nothing better to offer he would not be addressing his audience on the subject. [NS829] Perplexed and disconcerted by his early teachings, he had, when a youth, discarded all human creeds, and the Bible as well-believing that the latter was the basis for the former. It was a happy day for him when he learned that this was a mistake -when he learned that the creeds of the Dark Ages are diametrically opposed to the teachings of God's Word. Now his Bible has become to him a new book-the most wonderful book in the world.
Its teachings he now sees to be, beyond all comparison, the most logical -the only rational presentation, and a most glorious one respecting man -explaining his past, present and future as prearranged by a wise, gracious and all-powerful Creator.
TWO PROTESTANT VIEWS
Protestant views respecting the hereafter are various, but two in particular represent Protestant thought in general.
(1) The Calvinistic theory;
(2) the Armenian theory.
Five centuries ago there were no Protestants-all were Catholics and believed in three places for the dead-heaven for the saintly few; Purgatory for the general mass of mankind; and hell, everlasting torture, for the incorrigible.
Luther and coadjutors got to studying the Bible, and, finding nothing there respecting purgatory and mass for the dead, they threw these out. Figuratively, they smashed completely the idea of Purgatory. A little later they were perplexed and said to each other: We have smashed Purgatory, but now what shall we do with all these thousands of millions who have been there in our imagination for centuries -roasting, sizzling, and hoping some day to attain an eternity of bliss.
The thought of their responsibility in connection with the thousands of millions blanched their cheeks and made their hearts quail. They looked at each other in terrified bewilderment. Their noble generous hearts led them to desire to put the whole mass directly into heaven, but, as they searched the Scriptures on the subject, they found, as they had always believed as Catholics, the Bible teaching that only the saintly, the footstep followers of Jesus, the "overcomers" of the world, are fit for the Kingdom of Heaven. In despair they said to each other, This leaves nothing for us to do but enlarge hell many times and stuff the entire mass therein, writing over the doorway, "Who enters here abandons hope."
They did it, but it was a sorrowful matter, quite contrary to their generous hearts.
GREATEST THEOLOGIAN -JOHN CALVIN
It was when the Reformers were feeling very sad for what they felt they had been obliged to do with the heathen and with their neighbors and friends and the vast majority of their own families, that Brother Calvin appeared. "Cheer up," said Calvin. "Of course we all are sorry but it is not our fault. The shame of such a conclusion is not ours. I will show you the way out of the dilemma; charge the whole terrible business upon Almighty God! Say that He foreordained and predestinated things thus, and that we cannot help it!"
Pastor Russell said that these good men hesitated for a time about charging against God what they had been ashamed to acknowledge as their own plan and doing; but seeing no way out of the difficulty they finally agreed, and then extolled John Calvin as the greatest theologian the world had ever known. Calvin arranged the entire matter into a philosophy and his doctrine became the basis of all creeds of the Reformation period, including the Westminster Confession of Faith, which is generally acknowledged by Presbyterians, Baptists, etc. Thus said Pastor Russell, we Protestants got our diabolical theory respecting the dead. We "must confess that it is much worse than the theory of our Catholic friends. If we could not accept theirs because it was unloving, unmerciful, unjust and ungodly, surely we cannot accept any longer our own.
BROTHER WESLEY'S GOSPEL OF LOVE
The blessings of the Reformation were considerably overshadowed and handicapped by the great Calvinistic error of an all-powerful God, destitute of love, vindictive and devilish to a degree never approximated by any human degenerate. Centuries later that good man, John Wesley, appeared. His soul cried out against the injustice and lovelessness of Calvinism; and his claim that God is love has permeated Christendom to such an extent that even those denominations which profess the Westminster Confession of Faith and Calvinistic theories do not really believe it.
We must love Brother Wesley for his largeness of heart even though we must confess that he had a less logical head than had Brother Calvin. Brother Wesley and the majority of his followers failed to see the inconsistency of his claim that God is love, and yet that nine hundred and ninety-nine out of every thousand are to be eternally tormented -because the mass of them had never heard of "the only name whereby we must be saved;" and because others who had heard did not live contrary to their tendencies; did not live saintly lives! Pastor Russell declared that Wesley and Calvin put exactly the same saintly few into heaven, and put all the remainder into eternal torment. Hence it was a mere question between these two men as to why this was so, and not as to the fact.
Calvin said, "It is God's will and He foreordained it thus."
Wesley said, "No, [NS830] God is love, and love would never do thus, it was the result of Divine lack of wisdom in their creation, and lack of power to help after their creation. Hence the fate of the masses."
BRETHREN, WE DO NOT SO BELIEVE
Pastor Russell said, There is a great mistake. None of these theories satisfy your heads and hearts, nor mine. The difficulty is that we have been trying to accept the errors of the Dark Ages instead of going dear back and making our theology afresh from the words of Jesus, the Apostles and prophets. Let us do this now and find the beauty of the Divine Plan in the Bible, and a glorious Divine character such as we know it should have-far beyond human wisdom, justice, love and power. So the Lord says: "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My plans higher than your plans."
WHERE ARE THE DEAD?
The Bible confirms the ablest findings of science when it tells us that the dead are dead and not alive at all, anywhere. The Scriptures declare, "The dead know not anything;" "their sons come to honor and they know it not; they come to dishonor but they perceive it not of them."
Where, my dear friends, is the key to the whole problem? The Bible hell is the grave, sheol, hades, the death state. The salvation which God has provided is the salvation from sin and from death. The hope set before us in the Gospel is-the resurrection of the dead. If nobody is dead there can be no resurrection of the dead. It is not the body which dies that God has promised shall be resurrected, but the soul. It was not Adam's body merely that was punished with death, but it was his soul, which involved the body and every power Adam possessed.
All of his children have shared with him in his fall, in his death. God's provision for the salvation of mankind is that "As by man came death (not eternal torment), by a man (the man Christ Jesus) comes also the resurrection of the dead. For as all in Adam die, so all in Christ shall be made alive." (1 Cor. 15:22)
THE REDEMPTION PRICE GIVEN
Not only do the Scriptures clearly set forth that the wages of sin is death and that thus death passed upon the entire human race (Rom. 5:12), but they also set forth that the redemption price which Jesus gave was death- "He poured out His soul unto death;" He made His soul an offering for sin. (Isa. 53:10,12)
As a result, "in due time," there will come a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. By the just is meant those justified and brought into harmony with God through faith in Christ. By the unjust is meant all others. Thus the Church will share in the First Resurrection with Christ; these are the Elect of the Scriptures. Their resurrection and complete change of nature has already begun in them through the begetting of the Holy Spirit. They will be like the angels and like Christ, who is the express image of the Father's person. Like God and the angels they, as spirit beings, will be invisible to mankind.
These with their Lord and Head will set up the Kingdom of God-the Messianic Kingdom. "They will live and reign with Christ a thousand years. These are the saintly ones, a class recognized by Catholics and Protestants, by Luther, Calvin and Wesley. All are agreed respecting such a class. The entire point of discrimination is respecting the masses of our race for whom Christ died and for all of whom the various creeds provide torments untellable, unthinkable.
THE NON-ELECT TO BE BLESSED
Brothers Luther, Calvin and others, when they smashed purgatory as unscriptural, should have said, "We do not know where those poor creatures are whom we so long supposed were in purgatory."
They should not have felt it incumbent upon them to enlarge hell and to put the thousands of millions out of purgatory into it. But, as a matter of fact, they all are in hell; the difference is that it is the hell of the Bible -the grave, the unconscious state of death, and not a place of suffering and torture. Do not the Scriptures repeatedly tell you that the deadfall asleep?
St. Paul writes of those who fell asleep in Christ; and again, of those who "sleep in Jesus;" and again that all would sleep except those saints who would be changed in a moment, at the second coming of Messiah. Do not we read that St. Stephen, stoned to death, fell asleep? Did not Jesus say, "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth," and subsequently explain his meaning saying, "Lazarus is dead!" do we not read that "Abraham slept with his fathers," and so of the kings and prophets and all, good and bad? Abraham's fathers, being heathen, none will claim that they sleep in heaven. Our Catholic friends will not claim that they sleep in purgatory, and surely nobody would claim that they could sleep in eternal torture. Where, then, do they sleep, and for how long? The Bible answers, 'They that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake." (Dan. 12:2)
The Bible tells us that the weeping, sighing and dying of the present time will give place to a glorious morning of better things, the resurrection morning. [NS831]
NOT UNIVERSALISM, BUT UNIVERSAL OPPORTUNITY
Pastor Russell disclaims Universalism; he cannot find it in the Bible, else he would preach it. He finds the Bible to teach a universal opportunity for salvation and everlasting life, but that the gift of God, eternal life, will be given only to those who will avail themselves of the opportunity. Upon all others will come the wages of sin, namely, death. Those who sin wilfully, preferring wrong to right, after being granted full opportunity for reformation, will be destroyed in the Second Death, utterly, as St. Peter declares, "like natural, brute beasts." (2 Pet. 2:12)
HEAVEN ON EARTH BY AND BY
It was not in vain that the Redeemer taught us to pray, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven."
That glorious time will come when, as the Prophet declares, "Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess Messiah; and when the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth, as the waters cover the great deep; and when none shall need longer to say to his neighbor and his brother, Know thou the Lord, because all shall know Him."
Then "they shall build houses and inhabit them, and plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them, and long enjoy the work of their hands."
This is the hereafter which God has provided for the world of mankind in general. But this long-promised restitution blessing to the world, lifting them up out of sin and death conditions, cannot come until first the Royal Priesthood shall have been selected. The election of the Church, in progress during this Gospel Age, is God's preparation for the blessing of mankind. The elect saints will be kings and priests, judges, etc., in association with Jesus for the uplifting of the thousands of millions of humanity-"in due time."
New York American, August 1, 1910 THE DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS
This discourse has been republished in its entirety in the Convention Report Sermons, pages 112-114, under same title.
Celoron, N. Y., July 31-Today at this place Pastor Russell, of Brooklyn Tabernacle, addressed the International Bible Students' Association- about 4,000 attended.
PREACHING TO THE DEAD
With the exception of paragraph three and the two paragraphs which precede the subtitle, "We are Saved by Hope," printed below, this discourse has been republished in the Convention Report Sermons, pages 130-132, under same title.
"There's a wideness in God's mercy Like the wideness of the sea."
We are seeing more clearly as the days go by the meaning of the Scripture which declares that eventually the Redeemer "shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied."
We perceive now that the little handful of saints walking in the Master's footsteps from Pentecost to his Second Advent and sharing in the "First Resurrection" is not the end of Divine Love for our race, but merely its beginning- "A first-fruits unto God of his creatures." (Jas. 1:18)
We are now seeing that, according to the Divine purpose, the calling and election of the Church to the spirit nature, to the divine nature, must be completed before the second step in the great Divine Plan of Salvation begins-the recovery of the world from sin and death conditions, to human perfection and Paradise restored. So we read of them: "He came unto his own (nation-Jews) and his own [NS832] received him not; but to as many as received him, to them gave he power (liberty, privilege) to become sons of God even to them that believe on his name (his greatness as Messiah) who were begotten not of the will of the flesh, nor of man, but of God." (John 1:11-13)
A similar procedure has been in progress throughout all this Gospel Age from Pentecost until now amongst the world of mankind judicially dead. It has reached a considerable number; but not many great, however, not many wise, not many rich, not many noble, not many learned, chiefly the poor of this world and the mean things, the ignoble things. (1 Cor. 1:26-28)
Orange Enterprise and Journal, August 19, 1910 THE VENGEANCE OF ETERNAL FIRE
Lynn, Mass., August 14-Pastor Russell of Brooklyn Tabernacle spoke here twice today to large and attentive audiences. We report one of his discourses from the text, Jude 7.
He said: My text is one of the strongest of those which once we erroneously misunderstood to teach the eternal torment of the non-elect. Coming to the text with our minds filled with the wrong impressions respecting the character of the Almighty Creator and respecting his purposes toward humanity it is easy for us to misunderstand the words of St. Jude. So deeply were the erroneous thoughts impressed upon our minds from childhood that, irrational though they were, we considered them fundamental theology.
In like manner we wrested to our own confusion and injury many Scriptures, reading into them what they do not say and ignoring what they do say. As, for instance, the messages of Holy Writ to the effect that "all the wicked will God destroy;" that "the wages of sin is death;" that "the soul that sinneth, it shall die;" that there is no eternal life out of Christ. All these and others we warped and twisted away from their beautiful and simple teaching, and made out of them "doctrines of devils" with which we alarmed ourselves and those committed to our instruction.
We thank God that gradually the eyes of our understanding are opening to discern the great Truth that the testing of the Church in the present Age and the testing of the world at large in the coming Age will be as to worthiness for eternal life or worthiness of eternal death-everlasting destruction-the Second Death from which there will be no redemption, no resurrection, no recovery. As St. Peter declares: Those who enter into it will be, like brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed-annihilated.
SODOM'S GUILT AND PUNISHMENT
Sodom and surrounding cities were profligate and licentious to the extreme and Divine Justice decreed that their course must not continue, but that they should be made an example of- a lesson to others of the Divine displeasure against all such licentiousness. Accordingly we read that fire and brimstone were rained from heaven to the utter destruction of those cities, the place of which is now marked by the Dead Sea.
The Sodomites were obliterated and only their name and history have come down to us. Their utter destruction by eternal fire, heavenly fire rained upon them was a complete destruction. Their experience pictures forth the utter destruction of all whom God will finally reject as unworthy of eternal life. Not that fire and brimstone would be rained upon all, but that utter destruction will come upon all disapproved by the Almighty. Who thinks that St. Jude meant that the fire that destroyed the Sodomites was an eternal one? Whoever thinks that it is still burning as a literal blaze, should take a look at the picture of the Dead Sea and note that there are no fires there.
The thought is that the fire, which is a symbol of destruction, did its work thoroughly, completely, leaving not a vestige of these condemned to destruction. The Sodomites all went to hell-to the Bible hell -to the state of death. But they did not go to the hell which was manufactured by our forefathers during the dark ages-a hell of eternal torture.
We have Bible testimony on the subject, which we will produce. They are unconscious now like the remainder of the dead, waiting for the resurrection. And the resurrection opportunity will come to them, as well as to all the remainder of Adam's race; because they, as well as all others, are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ -by the sacrifice which he finished at Calvary. This is not speculative. We have the words of the Master himself on the subject. Let us take our information, our wisdom from the proper quarter. Then our doubts and fears will speedily flee away.
NOT A SECOND CHANCE
We will produce the Bible testimony showing that the Sodomites will be released and come forth during [NS833] the mediatorial reign of Messiah to enjoy a share of the blessings then to be poured out upon Israel and the world; and to have an opportunity of coming into harmony with God and gaining eternal life. But we know that straightway somebody will say, No, Pastor Russell, that would be a second chance, and God has nowhere promised a second chance to any. Furthermore it would be belittling to the Divine Government to suppose that God, after giving one fair trial to a man and reaching a decision would conclude to give him another trial, as though Divine Justice were unable to determine the worthiness or unworthiness of the individual for eternal life in one trial or testing. We fully agree with this sentiment, but call attention to the fact that the Sodomites did not enjoy one trial for life. They and all mankind were "born in sin, shapen in iniquity; in sin did their mothers conceive them."
They were born under the sentence, "Dying thou shalt die." Neither they nor anyone else, therefore, could be placed upon trial for a future life everlasting or death everlasting, until released from the original sentence of death under which all were born. And no release from that death sentence was granted to anybody until the Redeemer came and died, "the Just for the unjust," that, "as by a man came death, by a man also might come the resurrection of the dead."
Only those, therefore, who have been born since Jesus' day could be released from the original penalty, or could be placed on trial for life or death eternal. Only the Church, therefore, accepts this proposition. To this agree the words of the Apostle, "If we sin wilfully after that we have come to a knowledge of the Truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin (such having enjoyed and misused their share of the original sacrifice) -nothing but a fearful looking forward to of judgment (sentence) and fiery indignation, which will devour the adversaries of God-in the Second Death (Heb. 10:26).
The Sodomites, therefore, did not enjoy any chance of eternal life. They knew not "the only name given under heaven or amongst men whereby we must be saved."
Not only so, but the majority of mankind since Jesus' day have never heard the Gospel in the true sense of the word hearing -They have never understood, never appreciated, it fully, rightly.
MORE TOLERABLE FOR SODOMITES
It may astonish some to know that Jesus, speaking of the judgment or trial of the world during the coming age, during his Mediatorial Kingdom, declared that that trial would be less severe upon the Sodomites than upon some of those people to whom he preached, who would also have a share in the opportunities of that great epoch -an opportunity, with the Sodomites, of reconciliation to God and the attainment of eternal life.
His words were, Woe unto you Chorazzin and Bethsaid, for if the mighty works which have been done in you had been done in Sodom and Gomorrah, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Therefore I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment [the world's trial time, the Millennium] than for you (Matt. 2:22, 23).
What more could we ask upon this subject? What higher authority could be invoked than the Great Judge himself? It will not do to say that Jesus did not refer to the same licentious Sodomites mentioned by St. Jude in our text. It will not do to say that Jesus meant some Sodomites living in his day, because there were none. The Master distinctly tells us that "the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained down fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all." (Luke 17:29)
When our Lord declares that "it shall be more tolerable for Sodom in the day of judgment than for Capernaum" and the other cities in which he preached, he implies that it will still be tolerable for those people who heard him and who rejected his message.
"THUS IT IS WRITTEN"
This Gospel Age which began with our Lord's sufferings and trying experiences, and which has continued those experiences with his followers, has for its object the preparation, the qualification, of those who will be the Judges of the world in the coming Age. They must all be developed in the fruits and graces of the holy Spirit-"meekness, patience, brotherly kindness, love," else they will not be fit to be the Judges of mankind by and by. It is required that all become copies of the Redeemer, God's dear Son. St. Paul tells us this, saying, "Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?" and that God has foreordained that all of these judges must be copies of his Son? (Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 6:2)
Come back with me to the Old Testament Scriptures and note how the Divine Spirit dictated this matter of the future trial of the Sodomites to one of the prophets and caused it to be written for our instruction. Alas! as Jesus said, we have been "slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken." (Luke 24:25)
Through Ezekiel the Prophet, the Lord explains that when the restitution time shall come at the Second Advent of our Lord in the glory of his Kingdom, then the Divine blessing will come upon Israel now cast off. Nor will the blessing of Messiah's Kingdom come upon Israel only! It will extend to all the families of the earth. Through the Prophet, the [NS834] Lord specially emphasized to Israel her two sister nations, Sodom and Samaria. The Lord pointed out that in the day of their pride and prosperity they disdained these sister nations as being far beneath them and unworthy of their notice in every way. But in the restitution times (Acts 3:19) they will be glad to have a share of the Divine favor in conjunction with those nations formerly despised. The Lord declares that it is not because of the worthiness of any of these that he proposes their restitution, but because of his glorious character, for his namesake. Let me quote to you this remarkably clear statement of the Divine purposes future; and let us notice that it is emphatically declared that the ones to be restored and blessed are the very ones who perished in the days of Lot.
We read -"Sodom thy sister hath not done . . . as thou hast done . . . Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her, ..- neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and the needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me; therefore I took them away as I saw good. [God did not see good to take them to a hell of eternal torture; but he did see good to destroy them and to make them an example of the destruction of all ultimately displeasing to him after enjoying a knowledge of his grace and an opportunity for eternal life.] "Thou also which hast condemned thy sister nations bare thine own shame for thy 'sins. They are more righteous than thou (as Jesus declared). When I shall bring again their captivity [bring them from the prison-house of death].., then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them: that thou mayest bear thine own shame and mayest be confounded in all that thou hast done, in that thou art a comfort unto them. When thy sisters Sodom and her daughters shall return to their former estate, and Samaria and her daughters return to their former estate, then thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate . . . I will remember my Covenant with thee in the days of thy youth and I will establish unto them an everlasting Covenant [the New Law Covenant of which Messiah is the Mediator and which, under his Mediatorial Kingdom shall bless Israel and all who will come into Israel under the glorious terms of the New Covenant]. (Jer. 31:31)
"Then thou shalt remember thy ways and be ashamed when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger: and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy Covenant [not under your present Law Covenant, but under the New Law Covenant and its better Mediator] . . . that thou mayest remember and be confounded and never open thy mouth any more, because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God." (Eze. 16:48-63)
LENGTH AND BREADTH HEIGHT AND DEPTH
How wonderful it at first seems to us to find that we really have a good, kind, loving God, and not an unmerciful and vengeful one! So grossly were we deceived respecting his character, by the traditions handed down from the past, that we gave him the reverence of fear, rather than that of love and devotion. The clearer light comes to us as a fresh revelation of the meaning of the Apostle's words when he wrote about "lengths and breadths and heights and depth of the love of God, which passeth all understanding."
The words of the Lord through the prophet come to our minds, 'Tear not their fear, neither be afraid."
"Their fear of me is not of me, but is taught by the precepts of man."
"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my plans higher than your plans."
Oh! Thank God that it is so! To all eternity we shall praise God that he did not allow our forefathers to make him to change his character. Yes, and he is the same yesterday, today and forever. He changes not. The great, wise, just, loving plan for the salvation of mankind which he is now carrying out was the very one "which he purposed in himself before the world was created."
The plan of selecting the Church through fiery trials, through the straight gate and narrow way, for nineteen centuries, was what he purposed in advance; for the Apostle says that he foreknew the Church in Christ. Likewise the times of restitution soon to come for the world of mankind he foreknew and predestinated, and made all the arrangements for, just as they are being carried out now. The end will be glorious. His name will shine resplendently when the mists have cleared away, and when the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his beams, scattering all the darkness and degradation of sin and superstition.
"Then we'll see what God hath wrought! Then we'll praise him, praise him as we ought."
"TO YOU IT IS GIVEN"
We are well aware that only the few can see the beauties of this subject as we see them. We are aware that only those to whom "it is given to know" will understand in the sense of fully appreciating the depth of the Divine message. But we are sure that all such will rejoice more and more in the God of our salvation, [NS835] as they come to appreciate his worthiness of our love and confidence and devotion. As for those who shall under Divine tests prove themselves sympathetic with iniquity, we are glad that the Divine sentence is that they shall have from the Eternal One a destruction total, complete -one from which there will be no recovery, no redemption, no resurrection. 'They shall be as though they had not been."
But all the willing and the obedient shall have the blessing of the Lord unto life eternal -either on the spirit plane as members of the Church of the firstborns or on the human plane as members of the saved Israel restored to human perfection.