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VOL. III. PITTSBURGH, PA., OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER, 1881. NOS. 4 & 5.
ZION'S WATCH TOWER and Herald of Christ's Presence
ROCK OF AGES
Other foundation can
no man lay
A RANSOM FOR ALL
"Watchman, What of the Night?" "The Morning Cometh, and a Night also!" Isaiah 21:11
PUBLISHED MONTHLY.101 Fifth Ave., PITTSBURGH, PA.
C. T. RUSSELL, Editor and Publisher.
The Editor recognizes a responsibility to the Master, relative to what shall appear in these columns, which he can not and does not cast aside; yet he should not be understood as endorsing every expression of correspondents, or of articles selected from other periodicals.
TERMS OF SUBSCRIPTION.
TERMS:--Fifty cents a year, postage prepaid. You may send paper-money or three cent stamps to the amount of two dollars by mail at our risk. Larger amounts by Check, P.O. Money Order or Registered Letter, payable to C. T. RUSSELL.
TERMS AS BEFORE.
We were too hasty in the matter of discarding the old terms from our paper as mentioned in the July number.
The government law regulating postage supposes that any paper offered gratis is an advertisement only, and will allow none such to go at newspaper rates, but charge four times as much for postage on them. By taking off the price we came in conflict with that law, and it cost us over eighty dollars for the lesson on the July issue.
We visited the Postoffice authorities at Washington, but could obtain no deviation from the law, and consequently are obliged to put some price on the paper, as before.
We can and do say this, however, there will be a special fund for the payment of subscriptions of all who want the WATCH TOWER but cannot afford to pay for it. To all such we say: Send your names, and the Lord will supply your subscription money. You need not be troubled about the matter.
"Thus saith Jehovah, Heaven is my throne and earth is my foot-stool."
Isa. 66:1. [Literal Hebrew trans.]
The word feet is sometimes used in Scripture, as in this text, to represent permanent establishment, or rest. Stephen, after quoting the above (Acts 7:49), adds the words: "What is the place of my rest"--residence?
Jehovah used his footstool before sin entered, but since then he has removed his presence and allowed sin to reign and Satan to be "The prince (ruler) of this world." (John 14:30.) In a typical way he established his presence among the Israelites in the Tabernacle and Temple, and in a higher and better sense, his presence has been in the Gospel church as in a shifting tent or Tabernacle, all through the Gospel age, but soon the Temple glory or his presence in the Glorified church--head and body-- will be manifested to the world. And in that glorious reign of the Christ complete, typified by Solomon's peaceful reign, and under the shadow of that glorious temple with all its attendant power and glory, of which that made with hands was a type, all the families of the earth shall be blessed, and brought into complete harmony with God and all sin and every opponent of right, having been destroyed--then the knowledge of the Lord will fill the whole earth; the wilderness shall sing and the solitary place be glad. Then, all the ends of the earth (people) shall have remembered and turned to the Lord, and the glory of the Lord shall fill the whole earth.
Thus it is that Jehovah prepares and cleanses his footstool to place his feet there, that his presence may abide with the restored race of men and be their joy and blessing; and thus we read the declaration of Jehovah (Isa. 60:13): "I will make the place of my feet glorious."
In harmony with this same thought we find in Zech. 14:3,5, a description of when and how, Jehovah will establish his feet, or residence. This Scripture as well as some of those above quoted, which we have applied to the Father--Jehovah--are often misapplied to our Lord Jesus; and while Jesus and his church will doubtless be the active agents of Jehovah in subduing all things (Phil. 3:21), yet the fact remains, that the work here mentioned is Jehovah's, and the Hebrew text leaves no question about it.
We will quote and apply this prophecy: "Then shall the Lord [Jehovah] go forth and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle." The scene is laid in "the time of trouble," probably near its close, (perhaps, as we read the prophecy, about 1914 A.D.) It is surely during "the day of the Lord" (verse 1) when the first return of Israelites to Palestine will have taken place [a second and greater returning mentioned by the prophets evidently will not take place until after the time of trouble.] The Israelites will have been in comparative peace and security there and measurably free from the trouble which, meantime, will have been disturbing and overturning and impoverishing the nations of the earth. Their wealth and prosperity excite the cupidity of the nations, which we read come up against "my people Israel dwelling safely in their own land...to take a spoil and a prey." (Ezk. 38:8,12.)
The battle at first goes against Israel, as described in verse 2; then, the time having come for a manifestation of God's justice against the nations and his favor to his anciently favored people, He manifests his power and fights against the nations, not by Jesus and the saints appearing on a mountain with carnal weapons, but we read "as he (Jehovah) fought in the day of battle." Jehovah fought Israel's battles anciently without being seen by other than the eyes of their understanding.
Thus the Angel of the Lord slew (with death) the hosts of the Assyrians (Isa. 37:36); put to flight the Midianites (Judges 7:21), and "smote great nations and slew mighty kings." (Psa. 35:10.) And "as" he fought for Israel then, so he is to do again at their deliverance. The deliverance will be so great and marked, that they will recognize God's power and favor, and being blessed by being brought to a condition of nearness to God, in prayer and supplication, they will come to a full recognition of the fact, that as a people, they had rejected and pierced their Redeemer. "They shall look upon (recognize) him whom they have pierced," and shall all mourn because of Him. (Zech. 12:8,10.)
Verse 4: "And His (Jehovah's) feet shall stand (be established) in that day upon the Mount of Olives." This is another picture of the establishment of Jehovah's dominion. As the above description showed us how it will be manifested to Israel that God's arm is ruling, now we get the inside or spiritual view of the kingdom's establishment, and appropriately, symbols are used in the description. The feet of Jehovah standing or resting--the Mt. of Olives-- its location to the east (or sun-rising) of Jerusalem (the peaceful habitation) --the division of the mountain into two parts--the valley formed into which Israel will flee, &c.; these all we understand to be symbols; as also the reference in verses 6 and 7 to the day of the Lord being a dark day. It remains dark until the close of this period of trouble, or until the evening of that dark day, then--"at evening it shall be light;" that is when the day of wrath is over the Sun of Righteousness will arise with healing in his wings--blessing and restoring morally and physically.
A mountain is a symbol of a kingdom, and Mt. Olivet would signify Kingdom of Light and Peace. Then, in this "day of the Lord," already begun, Jehovah will establish himself in a Kingdom of light and peace. This, we believe, will be accomplished through his representative, Jesus, who takes his great power and reigns. The organization of his church--the dead by resurrection and the living members by change to the same condition (spiritual bodies), we understand to be the organization of the kingdom whose exaltation to power, invisibly smites and consumes evil systems and governments. (By the teaching of the Word, we understand that this organization of the kingdom began in 1878, and will be complete when the living members are "ready.")
This kingdom once established is Jehovah's foothold, and is to be the source of government from which shall emanate the laws, etc., for the guidance and blessing of mankind. (Another figure being Mt. Zion.)
The division of the mountain into two parts represents the two phases of the kingdom of God: one the higher, spiritual, invisible kingdom, composed of Jesus and the Gospel church; the other the earthly phase of the kingdom, composed of perfected fleshly beings, visible to humanity-- Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets, and all those of past ages justified by their faith.
The valley represents a place of favor and protection, made and guaranteed by both the heavenly and earthly phases of kingdom power; and into this place of protection and safety Israel is represented as fleeing. Then they shall recognize him whom they have pierced.
The earthly phase of the kingdom will thus be seen to be essentially Israelitish, and according to the promises of God, ungodliness shall be turned from Israel (Rom. 11:26) and they shall come to the inheritance of the land, and promises vouchsafed to Abraham; and then the fleshly seed of Abraham will be used as the agents of Jehovah in carrying to the world the blessings purchased by Christ, the higher, spiritual seed of him whom Abraham typified--Jehovah.
This earthly part of the kingdom is to spread and increase until it fills the whole earth and is under the whole heaven, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory and honor into it--by coming into harmony with its laws.
These two parts of the kingdom will be in perfect harmony; the earthly being under the control and direction of the heavenly. The law shall go forth from Mt. Zion, the spiritual phase, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem," the earthly phase. (Isa. 2:3.)
Though in due time there will be an earthly element of the kingdom visible to humanity, which shall be a praise in the whole earth, yet in the [R287 : page 1] inception of the kingdom it will not have this double character. [Jehovah's feet stand on the Mount of Olives as one at first, before its division.] And so we read that when demanded of the Pharisees when the kingdom of God should come, Jesus answered and said: The kingdom of Heaven cometh not with observation, neither shall ye say, Lo here! or lo there! [R287 : page 2] for behold it will be in your midst. (Luke 17:20.) That is to say--the kingdom of God will be among but invisible to men in its coming. It is only after it has come and done a work, that the visible phase is due-- during the Millennial age.
It is for this kingdom in both its phases (especially the spiritual, where our inheritance is) that we pray "Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Oh, may the time soon come when Jehovah's feet will be established and his footstool made glorious!
THE FEET OF CHRIST.
"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation: that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth." Isa. 52:7.
Among the many beautiful and appropriate figures used to represent the "little flock" and their union with Jesus, is that of a human body-- Jesus the head, and the true church the members of the body.
Sometimes, as in 1 Cor. 12:13-27, all the parts are represented in any assemblage of the church, the hand and foot, &c., as well as the various excellent qualities which belong to the head--hearing, seeing and expression. Thus the head of the church is present with the members of his body whenever two or three or more of them meet--in his name; and the body is complete and as effective for growth in Grace, Knowledge and Love (and far more so) as if hundreds of unbelievers and merely nominal christians were present. When thus spoken of the more able and intelligent ones are mentioned in contrast with the less brilliant by calling one class head (Eye, Ear, etc.,) and the other class feet. (vs. 21). Thus mentioned the word feet will be seen to mean the lowest members which require the especial assistance of the others.
But another sense in which feet may be understood, is as indicating the last part, or completion of the body. So to speak The Christ has been in process of development during the Gospel age--the head first and we, the living, representing the feet, last. This certainly is not an unreasonable deduction, and there are several texts which seem to indicate that the last members of the overcoming band, are mentioned especially under the term "feet"--not in the sense of degraded but as the last--or end of the "little flock."
The Scripture above cited is of this character, and while Paul quotes a part of it (Rom. 10:15) "How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things," and while it has undoubtedly been true of all the members of the Body of Christ, that they were the bearers of glad tidings, and that to all who received the message their footsteps were welcome, yet it is true also that the proclamation of many of the sweetest notes of the glad tidings of restitution, are reserved until now during the sounding of the seventh trumpet. (Rev. 10:7, Rom. 16:25) when the mystery of God is finished, which he hath kept secret from the foundations of the World.
Truly ours is a choice and favored day compared with any age of the church, for though God's Word has always been a lamp to enlighten "the body" all through the dark night, yet it is true, that in an especial sense it is giving light to the "feet," as we read: "Thy word is a light to my feet." Living in the time of the fulfillment of so much prophecy we walk in the blazing light of our lamp, and on us and our day the eyes of all "the body" throughout this age have anxiously rested; and of our day--"The day of the Lord," and our gathering together unto him, both Paul and Peter wrote more frequently than of their own day. Hence it need not surprise us, if under the figure of "feet" the Prophets mention us.
There is one part of the text above quoted, which certainly was never applicable to any but the present members; this part Paul omits, because it was not applicable until now, viz.: "That saith unto Zion thy God reigneth."
As we saw in the July number, in the application of Isa. 61 by Jesus, he used such part of the quotation as was applicable to his preaching and left unquoted the words--"the day of vengeance of our God," because the proclamation of the day of vengeance was not due until our day, and therefore while the whole message referred to, has been proclaimed by the Christ, yet only the feet have been privileged to utter it all. So with the Scripture now under consideration; Jesus and the Apostles had a great and important part in proclaiming "the good tidings of good," but only the feet of him have been privileged to say "unto Zion thy God reigneth."
The beauty of the feet's position, and the honor connected with their proclamation does not appear to the eyes of the World. Oh no, none of the members of the Christ have been of earth's heroes or wise, but in their eyes "we are counted fools." No, it is from the spiritual standpoint of God and of those who have ears to hear, that the tidings bearers are esteemed. We rejoice then in our privilege as being among those who announce to Zion these tidings that the kingdom began in 1878.
At present our tidings can only be received by faith in the same authority on which we base our statements --the Word of God--consequently, not many are now able to hear. But soon there will be abundant evidence of the truth of the statement in the crumbling and falling of the various systems of iniquity--both in the uprooting of the blasphemous heresies of the church, Roman Harlot, and Protestant daughters; and afterward, in the judgment and chastisement of the nations of earth, who through these false teachings, have established oppressive governments, which the harlot churches assure them are christian governments, telling the people they are of God's appointment and are the "Kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ."
Receiving their original right (?) of ruling, from Papacy, these kingdoms are to-day recognized and blessed by all the daughters. But these are all parts of that great system of Anti-Christ, or opposition to the real church and Kingdom of God mentioned by Paul (2 Thes. 2:8) which the Lord shall consume by the spirit of his mouth (truth) and destroy by the bright shining of his presence.
Truth, the spirit of the Lord's mouth, may come through a thousand channels, even blasphemous infidelity may be one of the agencies, and we believe it is the truth uttered, though mixed with error and blasphemy, which is the secret of power against Babylon, for it strikes her on her time honored and festering sores of error. It is truth with respect to human rights and equality, which is now moving Communists, Nihilists and Socialists to resist oppressive governments, and which will in time overthrow them; and truth it is, which will prepare the world for the blessed reign and rule of the kingdom of God, though in the development of truth, in its various branches, both the nominal church and the world must pass a terrible baptism of trouble: --Yet in it all, truth will be conqueror and come off victorious, because now, the rule and government has been assumed by "Him whose right it is." He has taken to himself his great power and his reign is commenced, consequently we may soon expect the wrath and angry nations of Rev. 11:18.
How clear it is then, that the declaration to Zion, "Thy God reigneth," is due now before the feet are joined to the body in Glory, and before the judgments of the Lord go abroad; for then it will need no proclamation; it will be manifest to all by the outward signs that the kingdom is set up--even the tribes of the earth shall then see--recognize--that the great day of his wrath is come.
It is the feet of the Christ that bring the glad tidings, though others may echo and re-echo the glad song.
Again, David who often represents or personifies The Christ, says: Jehovah --"Brought me up out of a horrible pit (depth of confusion) out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock and established my goings." (Psa. 40:2.) We might make a similar application of this scripture. The whole body of the Christ (except the head) was down in the pit of confusion and mire of sin; all through this Gospel age Jehovah has been lifting them up, or taking out a people for his name--separating such from the world and mire of sin; and last to be lifted up are the feet, and truly the feet have been placed upon the rock of truth.
While the whole body has had truth as a basis of faith and trust, yet undoubtedly the feet are more firmly established by it, than any previous part of the body, because we live in the time where the light of all past ages centres and the mystery of God is finished."How firm a foundation ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent Word."
Again, while it is true that all members of the body, sung a new song of praise to God when lifted from the depths of confusion and mire of sin, yet it is especially true of the feet--the song of praise breaks forth as soon as the feet touch the solid rock of truth and realize that-- [R288 : page 2]"There's a wideness in God's Mercy
Like the wideness of the Sea."
They can now sing with double joy the restitution song--"All nations which thou hast made
Shall come and worship before thee."
Again, we find a striking reference to the feet of the Christ in Psa. 91:11-12 "He [Jehovah] shall give his angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways: They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone."
This prophecy by David refers to the Christ as a whole; its personal application by Satan was rejected by Jesus as a misapplication of Scripture (Luke 4:12) but when we apply the reference to "foot," to the feet or last part of the body of Christ, all is harmonious. The stone referred to, we understand to be the same as that of Isa. 8:14, viz.: That Jesus is the stone of stumbling.
Jesus at the first advent was a stone of stumbling before the feet of the nominal Jewish church, and they stumbled over him because, being out of harmony with God, they could not see in him the Messiah. In their pride of heart, they, especially the Pharisees and Doctors of Divinity, were sure that Messiah would come in their way, and own and accept of them as a people. They stumbled and were broken as an institution. But the real feet of the real Jewish church--the "Israelites indeed"-- these received the present Messiah and were blessed and lifted up by that "stone" to the higher plane of the Gospel church. "To as many as received him, to them, gave he liberty to become sons of God." (The Jewish house was the house of servants --the Gospel house a house of Sons.)
As there was a stone and stumbling there, in their "harvest," or end of their age, so the parallelism which we find associating the Gospel age with its shadow, the Jewish age, demands that the stone should be present in the path of the Gospel church, to be either accepted or rejected; and if the parallelism continue (as we see it has) then we should expect that here the feet of the nominal church would stumble as its shadow did, and for the same reasons. And so we find it, the living generation of the nominal church--the feet, have failed to discern the presence of the Lord--"they knew not the time of their visitation" --and all but the true feet of the true body have stumbled as it is written, He shall be for a stone of stumbling and rock of offence to both the houses of Israel. To "Israel after the flesh" he presented himself in the flesh, and to the spiritual Israel he presented himself a spiritual body --to each on their own plane.
But we cannot for a moment doubt, that as Jesus at the first advent took special care to make himself known to every "Israelite indeed" and gave such, clear evidences (while to others he spoke in parables and dark sayings) (Psa. 78:2) so here at the second advent, every one wholly consecrated to God, (not to churches and creeds) and as such a part of the true feet, are to be made aware of that presence, and consequently do not stumble over it. This special care for all such, is what is referred to by the text considered--"He shall give his angels charge, &c., lest thou dash thy foot against a stone."
Only the feet could stumble over such a stone, and the stone of stumbling was not in the path of the members of the body which preceded us. And when we look back and see how closely "the lamp" was put "to the feet" and how it was kept trimmed and burning that its light shone out brightly, revealing to us the stone which nominal Zion stumbles over and is shipwrecked upon, but which to us is a tried stone, elect, precious, the head of the corner or the chief stone of all in the glorious spiritual Temple, we thank God for His care over us, and rejoice that we are counted worthy to be members of that company, which in the eyes of the world has no beauty that they should desire it, but which is as a root out of dry ground--the feet of Him that bringeth glad tidings, that saith unto Zion Thy God reigneth.
OUR NEW NAME.
"And this is the name wherewith SHE shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness." Jer. 33:16.
Thy name Oh! Heavenly Bridegroom,
Can we ever hope to bear?
Shall we see thy matchless glory,
And in thy kingdom share?
With smiles of loving welcome,
Wilt Thou say to us well done?
When our pilgrim days are ended,
And our race for life is run?
Yes, I hear Thee sweetly saying,
In words of love divine,
"If now with me thou'lt suffer,
My glory shall be thine.
If now with me thou'rt crucified
New life to Thee I'll give,
And through eternal ages,
My bride shall with me live."
Oh glorious fount of blessing,
We will haste without delay,
Our little all, to Thee to give,
Who dost such joys repay;
We care not Lord for earthly fame,
Its honors, or its pride,
But let us bear Thy sacred name,
And own us as Thy bride.
Thy name above all others grand,
Which Thy waiting bride shall own;
When Thou shalt call her to thy side
And share with her Thy throne;
Through realms of fadeless glory,
Shall all its power confess;
And every tongue on earth shall praise,
"The Lord our righteousness."
Mrs. A. Agens, N.J.
"AND THE DOOR WAS SHUT."
For the sake of the many new readers of the WATCH TOWER, it may not be amiss to give a general review of the steps of faith by which the Lord has been leading us as a people, during the last seven years, and in a general sense during the preceding thirty-five years.
The parable of "The Ten Virgins" (Matt. 25) seems to have been given as a pen picture of some of the important events connected with the close of the Gospel Age. The introduction of the parable shows this, for after recounting to the disciples (Matt. 24) some of the signs of the ending of the Gospel Age and the --parousia--presence of the Son of Man, which verse 37 assures them will be a presence which the world cannot recognize, then follows the parable, connected with the preceding statements by the word then. "Then shall the kingdom of heaven (church) be likened unto ten virgins which took their lamps (Bibles) and went forth to meet the Bridegroom" (i.e.,) they went forth or separated themselves because of their belief that the Bridegroom, Jesus, was about to come.
While we are neither "Millerites" nor "Adventists," yet we believe that this much of this parable met its fulfillment in 1843 and 1844, when William Miller and others, Bible in hand, walked out by faith on its statements, expecting Jesus at that time. They were composed like all other earthly companies of two or more classes; one class had the Spirit in their hearts as well as its light in the Word (oil in their vessels and in their lamps) others had only the light of the Word (oil in the lamp).
The disappointment of that company of Christians (which was composed of many of the best Christians from all denominations) all are well aware of, but it was foretold in the parable: "While the Bridegroom tarried they all slumbered and slept." As a general arousing of the church to the investigation of God's Word had attended the preaching of Mr. Miller, and the Word was more studied than ever before, especially the Prophecies, so when his calculations seemed to end in such bitter disappointment, a spirit of drowsiness followed; some slumbered, some slept, and many vagaries--dreamings incidental to sleep soon sprung up.
The next important step of the parable (verse 6) is the midnight cry. The night of the parable was the time during which the disappointment lasted and the sleeping occurred, and was to end with joy in the morning, when, the tarrying being ended, the Bridegroom would be present.
As the former movement in the parable had been represented by Miller and others, so to this second movement we give a similar application. A brother, B__________ of Rochester, was, we believe, the chosen vessel of God through whom the "Midnight Cry" issued to the sleeping virgins of Christ, announcing a discrepancy of thirty years in some of Miller's calculations, and giving a rearrangement of the same argument (and some additional), proving that the night of the parable was thirty years [R289 : page 3] long, and that the morning was in 1873, and the Bridegroom due in that morning in 1874.
We do not here give the time, arguments or proofs. They are familiar to many, and can be had in more convenient shape. We merely notice here that the Bible chronology, first dug from Scripture by Bowen, of England, which shows clearly and positively that the 6,000 years from Adam ended in 1873, and consequently that there the morning of the Millennial day (the seventh thousand) began, in which a variety of things are due. The establishment of the kingdom of Christ, the binding of Satan, the restitution of all things, and the blessing of all the families of the earth, are all due. And if all these things are due during this thousand years which commenced in 1873, surely one of the first things due and on which the others all depend, is the coming of the Bridegroom, who must first exalt his church [establish his kingdom] before it can bless, restore or bind.
Bro. B__________ first began to preach the message, and soon started a paper, which he appropriately called "The Midnight Cry," the circulation of which soon ran up to 15,000 copies a month, and served to arouse many of the drowsy to a fresh examination and trimming of their lamps. These began again to search the Scriptures for the time of the Bridegroom's coming.
But the disappointment had served an intended purpose in casting a reproach on the subject of "time," and the prudent ones had reached the worldly-wise conclusion that having been disappointed once and consequently had the finger of scorn pointed at them, they would be more prudent in future, and not expose themselves to contempt; so there was a division of the company; some could see it and others could not. ("Thou hast hid these things from the (worldly) wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.") Some rejoiced in the midnight message that the Bridegroom was due in 1874, and were able to find the evidences in the light of their lamps; others admitted that though Scripture contained a great deal of "time," yet they were so fearful and prudent that their lamps would give no light. Thus they said: "Our lamps are gone out." Thus one separation took place.
When 1874 came and there was no outward sign of Jesus in the literal clouds and in a fleshly form, there was a general re-examination of all the arguments upon which the "Midnight Cry" was made. And when no fault or flaw could be found, it led to the critical examination of the Scriptures which seem to bear on the manner of Christ's coming, and it was soon discovered that the expectation of Jesus in the flesh at the second advent was the mistake; that the human nature had been taken for the purpose of giving a ransom for humanity, and that the human nature remains a sacrifice forever; that Jesus, though put to death in the flesh, was quickened or made alive in spirit--Sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body, &c., and that all spiritual bodies can be present unseen. Soon too, under critical examination Matt. 24:37 and Luke 17:26,30 were seen to teach positively that "in the presence" of Christ, "in his days," the world would be ignorant of the fact, and be attending to their affairs as usual. Then the words of Paul: "Ye brethren are not in darkness that that day should come upon you as a thief," indicated that the church should possess a light on the subject while the world would be in ignorance. Peter's words, too, were in harmony: "Take heed to the sure word of prophesy, which shines as a light in a dark place."
When this was seen it was apparent at once that the "time" element of the Scriptures was intended only for those who would walk very close to the Lord and feed on his Word, and not to scare the world into repentance. How necessary too, if the manner of Christ's coming was such that the world would not know, but would eat, plant and build as usual, that there should be some source of information to the waiting virgins, else they too, would be in darkness. How reasonable, too, that the knowledge of Christ's presence should be presented to the household of faith in the same way all other blessings had been received, viz.: by faith in the statements of the Word of God. It is thus they knew of their justification from all sin; thus they heard the call to become the Bride and joint heirs; thus they see the crown of life and all the exceeding great and precious promises--and thus they receive the knowledge of the presence of the Bridegroom--by faith built on the statements of God through Jesus, the apostles and prophets.
This increase of knowledge, led to still greater faith in the "time," for it was evident that the Lord was leading, and every item of light added increased brightness to others. It was the same light and the same oil shining more and more.
It was evident, then, that though the manner in which they had expected Jesus was in error, yet the time, as indicated by the "Midnight Cry," was correct, and that the Bridegroom came in the Autumn of 1874, and he appeared to the eyes of faith-- seen by the light of the lamp--the Word. Afterward it was seen that the thirty years of tarrying between 1844 and 1874 was the exact parallel to the thirty years of tarrying at the first advent, from the time the wise men visited the babe until Jesus stood on Jordan and was anointed with the Holy Ghost for his work, at thirty years of age. (Acts 10:38.)
This and other points of similarity brought attention to the fact that the Jewish and Gospel ages had been parallels in their general details, both being of the same length, and both ending with comings of Jesus and the closing period in each case, called a "harvest," or end of the age. Examination of the Word disclosed the fact that God had so ordered the Jewish age and people, &c., as that they were made a pattern or "shadow" on a fleshly plane, of things to take place in the Gospel age on a higher plane. The fact that the "time arguments" proved this parallelism was additional evidence that they were correct, and these wonderful parallelisms soon became one of the leading evidences that we are in the "Harvest," or end of the Gospel age, and that the Reaper is present, separating with the sickle of truth the wheat and tares. As there were seven years of "favor" to the Jews from the time Jesus' ministry began (the 70th week of Daniel 9:27), followed by thirty-three years of trouble called fire, so here we see the parallel of seven years of favor to October 3d, 1881, to the Gospel church, to be followed by trouble called "fire," which will consume the dross of Babylon and purify those of God's children in and contaminated by her.
To return to the parable. If these movements were of God, and if Bros. Miller and B__________ were his instruments, then that "Midnight Cry," based on the prophetic and other statements and evidences, was correct, and the "Bridegroom came" in 1874. We believe that Midnight Cry was of God, and was fulfilled by the Bridegroom's coming, not because Bros. Miller and B__________ claimed it, but because the Word of God supports it."How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word."
The next step in the parable, after the Bridegroom comes, is an assembling in his presence of those who are to be united to him and to become his bride. "The Bridegroom came, and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage" (verse 10.) The going in, like all other features of the parable, is a work of time, and we understand that it has been in progress during the seven years from 1874. Those who went in with him must all have recognized his presence; they include, we believe, saints out of all denominations who had made themselves living sacrifices to God (not sacrifices to sectarian churches and creeds--so many do this and call it sacrificing to God). Such as sacrificed self and became as little children, we believe the Lord has led during the past seven years, to a knowledge of the Bridegroom's presence, and as they accepted it, they "went in with him to the marriage." The marriage has not yet taken place. It could not until all had gone in.
The seven years which ended October 3d, 1881, were years of favor during the presence, that of the living generation all of readiness of heart might become members of the little flock and enter into the joys of our Lord's presence. If our application of Scripture be correct, the favor has now ended, and in the language of the parable, "the door was shut"; and to those who have never fully consecrated and sacrificed self to God, we cannot any longer hold out the great prize of our high calling, viz.: to be members of the Bride of Christ, joint heirs of Glory, Honor and Immortality.
But, thank God, we do not have it to say that the door OF MERCY has closed. Oh, no! "His mercy endureth forever." And while we call it the door of favor, yet we understand [R289 : page 4] the Word to teach that God has many favors to many classes of His children. He has favors and mercies for those who have covenanted and failed to make living sacrifices of themselves. He has mercies and favors for Israel according to the flesh, and still other blessings for "all the families of the earth." But the favor or opportunity of being members of the Royal family and partakers of the Divine nature is the chief prize, and those who, during the Gospel age, have won this prize by so running as to obtain must first be crowned before the other favors and blessings can be given to the other classes--these with Jesus, their head, constituting the seed in whom all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
It is not ours to say which, individually, are shut out, but we believe that none were shut out who up to that time, had made an entire consecration to God.
Does some one inquire: Why has the "marriage" not taken place if all [R290 : page 4] have gone in and the door is shut? We answer that we have not expected the "marriage" as soon as the door would shut, this parable and other Scripture illustrations seeming to demand a waiting time after the door was shut before the union with the Bridegroom. Suppose it were an earthly marriage, and the announcement was made that the door would open at 2 P.M. and close at 4 o'clock. Some would come early and others later; on arrival there would be more or less preparation to make, and when, at 4 o'clock, the door closed, it is only reasonable to suppose that some time would intervene before the ceremonies. So here the "gathering together unto Him" of those who have made a covenant by sacrifice (Psa. 50:5), i.e., their going in to the marriage, has been in progress for seven years, and each, as he entered the wedding apartments, has become exercised in having his garments without spot and wrinkle before him--our Bridegroom, and our efforts extend to all who enter, for the Bride is to "make herself ready." (Rev. 19:7.) And if some came in very recently they, as members of the prospective Bride, require time and help to make them ready; besides who will say that others who have been rejoicing in the presence of the Bridegroom and waiting for the marriage; may not yet need the application of water (truth) and washing by water through the Word. (Eph. 5:26.)
Let us then not forget nor neglect these two things: First, to see that our own sacrifice is complete; and, second, to help one another to prepare for the great climax of our hopes; for who will say that though the door may be closed so that none will be allowed to enter, some may not be cast out "into outer darkness" if they be not ready for the marriage.
The next item to be noticed in the parable is that afterward came the other virgins, saying (after the door was shut: "Lord, Lord, open unto us." This, if we read the parable aright, indicates that after the door is shut, and apparently before the marriage takes place, some who now scoff at the idea of the Lord's presence will come to see differently, and entreat that they be admitted to be part of the Bride.
From other Scriptures it seems evident that their knowledge of the presence of the Lord came not from the light shining from the lamp of prophecy, but rather from the judgments upon the nominal church, which we believe are now fully due, and will soon come. These judgments will prepare them for truth by convincing them of the multitudinous errors of doctrines and systems in Babylon. If our inferences here be correct, that these will come to knock because of judgments manifesting the presence of the Lord, and if this knock is prior to the marriage, it would seem as though the marriage is some time after the door closes. How long--weeks or months--we at present have nothing to indicate, but we shall see from other types, &c., other things due here.
The Lord's answer to those knocking too late, we understand to mean: "I do not recognize you as part of my Bride; my espoused one has come in with me. I have only one bride. They must go through the time of trouble, and if they will may be of the great multitude, who come out of great tribulation, who shall be before the throne and serve God." (Rev. 7:9.)
This will be a glorious place and portion, though not so glorious as that of the Bride, to sit with him on His throne.
THE TEMPLE BUILDING TYPE.
In a previous number, we called attention to what we believe to be a type, viz.: The temple. The church of Christ is repeatedly mentioned under the figure of a temple. Jesus spoke to the Jews concerning the temple of his body, saying, destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up. We understand of course that he referred to his own resurrection, which would be in three days after death; yet we believe that his words referred also to his body, the church, and were a sort of prophetic forecast. Dividing the 6000 years from Adam to 1873 into large days or periods of 1000 years each, we have six days of a great week. When Jesus uttered the words quoted, 4000 years (4 days) were past and he was in the fifth. Since 1873, we are in the seventh thousand years, or seventh day. Count the fifth, sixth and seventh and we have the third day or epoch from the time Jesus uttered the words.
During these years the church of Christ has been subject to death, and on the third day, the day or period already entered upon, this temple is to be reared up and glorified, to be the place of blessing to the world.
We make a similar application of Luke 13:32,33. "Go ye and tell that fox, behold I cast out devils, and I do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected." In fact, Jesus as the head represents the whole Christ so thoroughly, that whatever might be said of him could be applied on a still larger and grander scale, to the body and seed of which he is the head.
Both Peter and Paul refer to this temple type, saying that we as living stones are built up a spiritual house, which building fitly framed together groweth into a holy temple. (1 Pet. 2:5 and Eph. 2:21.) And looking back, we not unreasonably suppose, that as Solomon himself was a type of Christ, so his great temple may have been a type or symbol of the greater temple of living stones which Jesus has been building during this Gospel Age.
As the stones underwent much cutting and polishing and fitting, from the time they left the quarry, so those who are to be of the living stones in the greater temple, must undergo much fitting, shaping, etc., from the time they leave the quarry before they are laid in the temple.
In the typical, there came a time when no more stones were quarried for the temple, though doubtless the quarrying continued, the stones afterward being designed for other buildings; so here there came a time when no more stones were selected for the temple, or highest position. Though God still calls, it is for other than temple stones, for when a temple is complete, it would only mar it to add to perfection.
Since we believe that the living stones for the temple are selected and the temple is nearly or quite finished, we ask ourselves--what next? This was the question which Solomon must have asked as the temple was finished. The next thing was to have Jehovah come into it with his glory; so here we now wait for the glory to be revealed in us.
The fact that the glory did not instantly fill the temple when complete, should teach us that we need not expect the glory as soon as "the door" closes and the antitypical temple is complete.
An account of what was done in the typical temple when it was finished, and before it was glorified, is recorded, in 2 Chron. 5:11,14. The Priests assembled at the door of the temple with trumpets, then came some of the Levites which were singers. The Priests sounded the key note on the trumpets and the Levites joined in to sing in harmony: It took some time before the harmony was perfect, but as soon as they were "as one" (perfectly in harmony) then, the glory of the Lord filled the temple. This we would interpret as teaching that the Priests (the little flock who are to be glorified) will give the key note of our song to a representative part of the great company (Levites) before they, the priests, are glorified.
It is only a part of the Levites who compose the singers, and they are clothed in white robes and have cymbals, and psalteries, and harps (2 Chron. 5:12). So we understand that, for a part of the great company who are already arrayed in white robes of justification through Jesus' merit, and who now have the harp of God (the Word of truth) and are now trying to get harmonious strains of music from it, hearkening diligently unto the trumpet voice of the priest company which daily sounds louder and clearer, for the bringing of these into harmony with the priests, the glory of the Lord waits.
The trumpet should now give no uncertain sound; the white robed company are beginning to tune their harps in harmony with its strains, and soon "as one" we will sound the praises of him "whose mercy endureth forever," and the glory of the Lord will fill the temple.
The character of the song to be taught and learned, is Restitution, if we may judge from the line of it given us viz.:"For He is good,
For His mercy endureth forever."
This temple type then teaches us that we are to continue our efforts to teach the Restitution Song to all who wear the white robes of Christ's righteousness, and that we may expect a considerable measure of success to attend our efforts before our glorification. This would seem to teach too, that the priests would reach a harmony in their trumpeting before the glory.
A SHORT SERMON FROM A FAMILIAR TEXT.
"God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16.
We learned this text so long ago, some of us in childhood, and have heard it so often, that we are now apt to read or hear it without noticing its breadth and depth.
"God so loved."
Is this true? Orthodoxy says it was Jesus that so loved the world. The Father did not love them; no, he was angry--very angry--with them, because Satan was too smart for him [We feel ashamed to have to write such an idea]; but Jesus loved us, and threw himself between us and his angry Father, and thus received the fatal blow; at least it would have been fatal to us, but Jesus being God could not really die, and so arose when he wished to.
How much better to believe that "God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners [enemies, verse 10] Christ died for us." Rom. 5:8. "Herein is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." 1 John 4:10.
"God so loved the WORLD."
What! the world? the whole world? This would be blessed news indeed, if true. How is it? Babylon teaches that only those who believe before the second coming of Christ--probably not one in one thousand of the world's inhabitants so far--can be saved. God's word tells us that through the Abrahamic seed shall "all the families of the earth be blessed." Gen. 12:3. What if the promise has not been fulfilled as yet? Can we not wait God's time? Paul tells us that God "will have ALL men to be saved [from the Adamic death] and to come unto a knowledge of the truth." What truth? That Christ Jesus "gave himself a ransom for ALL, to be testified in due time." 1 Tim. 2:4,6.
"He gave his only begotten Son."
This phraseology brings us into conflict with an old Babylonian theory, viz.: Trinitarianism. If that doctrine is true, how could there be any Son to give? A begotten Son, too? Impossible. If these three are one, did God send himself? And how could Jesus say: "My Father is greater than I." John 14:28.
"Whosoever believeth in him."
Whatsoever is not of faith is sin; and the promises are only to believers. But does it seem reasonable that God so loved the world and yet made provision for only one out of a thousand, allowing the rest to remain in heathenism, to perish? The Word says: "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" Rom. 10:14. They could not, but our loving Father has provided a preacher in that glorious Anointed One--Head and body--who is the true Light which lighteth EVERY MAN that cometh into the world." And thus shall all men "come unto a knowledge of the truth." Understanding this Paul could say: "The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel [good news] unto Abraham, saying: "In thee shall all nations be blessed." Gal. 3:8.
This is good news indeed. [R290 : page 5]
"Should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Babylon would paraphrase this sentence thus: "Should not live forever in hell, but have everlasting life in heaven." Webster gives the primary meaning of "perish" as "to die, to lose life in any manner." But, says some one, Jesus did not speak English, and the translators may not have given us a good equivalent for the Greek. Well, Liddell and Scott define the original word "to destroy utterly, kill, slay, murder." The text really defines its own meaning by placing "perish" as the opposite of "life." Life, everlasting or eternal, is promised only to the pure. Our Father intends to have a clean universe, and has commissioned the Son to do the work for him. This he will do, throwing light into every dark corner, washing, scouring and polishing every vessel that can be made available for the Master's use, hanging every one in its proper place, sweeping out and "utterly destroying" the rubbish, but evidently saving and blessing with life everlasting by far the greater portion of mankind, so that the saved will be the rule, and the lost, the exception--else would Satan triumph over God, which is impossible.
W. I. MANN.
IN THE VINEYARD.
To strengthen and encourage the lonely and isolated ones, we want to give a brief account of how the work in general is progressing. It is our common work and common interest. Many of you are apt to think that our glorious glad tidings are preached and known only by an occasional one, just as Elijah thought when he said: "I only am left alive and they seek my life"; but what saith the Word of the Lord to him? "I have left me seven thousand in Israel... which have not bowed the knee to Baal." (1 Kings 19:18.) Even so now also there are more than two or three who worship Jehovah and His Christ only, and are controlled only by His Word; and now there doubtless are 7,000 or more who neither worship the Papal "Beast" nor the Protestant "Image." (Rev. 13.)
THE TRACT WORK,you will remember, was begun in a small way some time since, and afterward the "ZION'S WATCH TOWER TRACT SOCIETY" organized. First, we proposed to publish a quantity of the 32-page tracts, but soon concluded to make one large tract or pamphlet of 164 pages, which would give a general idea and outline of what we see to be God's glorious plan, and gave it the title: [R291 : page 5] "FOOD FOR THINKING CHRISTIANS: WHY EVIL WAS PERMITTED, AND KINDRED TOPICS."
We thought to publish 300,000 copies of this pamphlet, and so far as possible to put them in the hands of thinking Christians everywhere. But we soon saw that, though very large, the quantity would not be sufficient, and it was increased to 500,000 copies. These were printed in various cities of Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio. These have nearly all been distributed in the medium and larger cities, and at the principal camp meetings, Brothers Adamson, Keith, Keim, McGranor and others, being still engaged in the work of distribution. Only about 65,000 yet remain.
But the way seemed to open yet wider, and Bros. Sunderlin and Bender were sent to Great Britain to publish the same pamphlet; three hundred thousand copies were published, and before you read this will probably be in the hands of the churchgoers of the principal cities there.
In the meantime another avenue of spreading the truth opened up. The manager of the principal paper of New York City agreed to send a copy of the tract to their entire list of subscribers, and several other papers of Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and New York favored us similarly in the work, for which they have our sincere thanks. [We omit the names of the papers only to save them inconvenience from applications from others. They say they have never before granted such privileges to any.]
For this work we had the same matter that was in the tract put into newspaper shape, and as such it constituted the September number of the WATCH TOWER--thus, doubtless, you have all read the tract. So to those who may have wondered why the increased size, change of form, &c., of your last paper, this will explain.
As we were reaching Christians in the cities with the pamphlets, we sent the papers only with weekly and monthly journals, and hope thus to have reached many Christians in country districts. We sent out in this way over 400,000 copies. Thus you see that from an apparently small beginning, the tract work has spread to the immense proportions of 1,200,000 copies, or about 200,000,000 pages in four months, or about eight times as much (in number) as were distributed by the American Tract Society in the last year. The work has employed hundreds of men, women and boys in preparation and distribution, nearly 500 boys being employed to distribute in London, and about 300 in New York-- other cities in proportion. The distribution was made in the larger cities at the church doors on Sundays.
The work we believe to be the Lord's, and that its results will be far-reaching we cannot doubt. Letters come pouring in from every quarter --many of them are very rich and sweet, and indicate that the same heavenly manna which has been so refreshing and strengthening to us, has the same rich flavor to many others when they taste of it. Some are from scattered ones who have been digging in the Word, and were reaching after these things. Some from parties who say they had been drifting into, or were quite in, Infidelity, because never had they been able to see anything reasonable, harmonious or worthy of a God of Love in the teachings of the Bible, as interpreted by the creeds of the various sects. Nearly all ask for more for their friends. A few, even, come from "class leaders" and pastors, asking them for their people, but very few; we have no reason to expect many from "those that give suck"; alas! they feel that they are "rich and increased in goods, and have need of nothing," and are too busy giving the "milk of the Word" to have any time either to eat stronger meat or provide it for others.
The work has been so much greater than we had anticipated, and seemingly was impelled by an unseen hand and at such a special time, too, that we cannot doubt that it is all of the Lord, and it is probably designed as a ripener to some grains of "wheat," to prepare them as a part of the "first fruits" of the wheat or spiritual harvest--members of the Bride of Christ; and also, one of the many instruments to be used in the overthrow of "Babylon" and the deliverance of God's children within her. But while an unseen hand seemed to impel the onward progress of the work, another unseen hand seemed at work seeking to thwart our purposes, but "if God be for us, who can be against us?" In his strength one could chase a thousand opposers, and two put ten thousand to flight.
We shall endeavor monthly to keep you informed as to the general outlook over the field, as seen from ZION'S WATCH TOWER, and shall be glad of information from any of our readers. We are expecting great things in the near future. If our position be correct, we may expect "Zion's travail" to commence at once. [Keep in memory the distinction between real and nominal Zion, the word Zion being used instead of the word Church--so we speak of the real and the nominal Church--or nominal Zion being now termed, in Scripture, "Babylon." The true Zion, the first-born, the heir, the Christ, has been delivered.
Brother Adamson is now in Illinois and Iowa distributing pamphlets from city to city, and preaching as he goes. An extract from a letter in another column, shows that he is enjoying the work. The Lord give him grace for every time of need--though showing him how great things he must suffer for the truth's sake.
Brother Keith has been similarly engaged in central Pennsylvania and New York, and has had good success, and still continues. The Lord feed him abundantly with truth, that he may go from strength to strength --mighty in the Scriptures.
Brother Jones also gave valuable assistance in the tract distribution. He has now removed to New York City, and is doubtless preparing something valuable for the readers of the first number of his new paper, elsewhere referred to. The Lord lead him to his praise.
Brother Paton has been laboring recently in Detroit and in the neighborhood of his home, Almont, Mich. He is, we suppose, busily engaged writing for Bro. Jones' new paper, to which, we believe, he will be an occasional contributor. He is busy also collecting names for the new paper. The Lord hold him in his powerful hand and overrule all things for His good.
Brother McGranor is distributing tracts, and as he goes preaching in Ohio and western Pennsylvania. The Lord has been blessing him greatly. The Lord enrich him and honor him by use in His service.
Brother Keim is attending to the tract work and preaching in New Jersey and Delaware. The Lord bless him and fill his mouth with the sweet things of His Word.
Brother Sunderlin is being tried in patience; for while he delights in the work and is anxious to be constantly in it, he is on a sick-bed. He was attacked with rheumatic fever and obliged to return home from the tract work in Great Britain just as he had the pamphlets ready for distribution. The Lord comfort and sustain and smile upon him in his affliction, and in His own good time restore him to us and the work.
Brother Bender is still in England busy with the tract distribution. We make a few extracts, in another column, from a letter recently received, written before the general distribution had taken place, which may interest you. The Lord guide him with wisdom, and while blessing others may he have an abundant blessing.
Others might be mentioned, but we refer only to those who are connected with the work in a very prominent way. Time and space would fail us to refer to those who in towns, villages and cities are engaged in helping the twos, threes, twelves and fifties to the food so richly provided in His Word by our Lord. Some, in a still more private way, are using their every talent in setting forth God's great unfolding plan of Love--calling attention to his provision of a "Narrow way to life" for a few and promised "Restitution" to human perfection for the many. The work of these may not be heralded or known on earth, but it is all recorded in the "Book of Remembrance." Their faithful performance of their consecration vows of self-denial and self-crucifixion is well known to the Lord, and will be rewarded exceedingly abundantly more than we can ask or think--when the Bridegroom shall say: "Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into (share) the joys of thy Lord." Among this last class are many noble women, who are unobtrusively exerting their quiet influence unknown to the many, yet owned and loved of God. Oh! the jewels, the jewels! how brightly they shine, lighted up by the light of the Lord's face shining upon them and changing them daily from glory and beauty of resemblance to the head, to yet more glory and beauty until, the work done, and the Bride made ready, they shall be made like unto Christ's glorious spiritual body--"How beautiful are the feet of Him."
We believe that every member of this body of Christ is engaged in the blessed work, either directly or indirectly, of giving meat in due season to the household of faith. "Who then is that faithful and wise servant whom his Lord hath made ruler over his household," to give them meat in due season? Is it not that "little flock" of consecrated servants who are faithfully carrying out their consecration vows--the body of Christ-- and is not the whole body individually and collectively, giving the meat in due season to the household of faith--the great company of believers?
Blessed is that servant (the whole body of Christ) whom his Lord when he has come (Gr. elthon) shall find so doing. "Verily, I say unto you, that he shall make him ruler over all his goods." "He shall inherit all things." [R292 : page 5]
The "evil servant" who says: My Lord delayeth his coming, and forgetting his consecration vows, begins to eat and drink with the drunken (partake of the spirit of the world) shall have no part with the faithful overcomer. (Matt. 24:46-50.)
In conclusion, let each remember that the work is the Lord's; that our Captain's eye is upon each of us, and that his wisdom has appointed to each a place in his vineyard, however prominent or obscure (1 Cor. 12:18); and with this thought let us study to show ourselves approved workmen that need not to be ashamed.
Let us be careful in sounding the trumpet, remembering that others will be preparing to "sing" in harmony. See "The Temple Type." Our every expression should be with care, and all our influence on the side of truth, so the trumpet shall give a clear sound.
AN OPEN LETTER.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:
If an obscure yet deeply interested reader of the W.T. may find space in its columns, I would like to address a few thoughts to other members of the little company, now waiting for the happy moment of union with our Lord. As I write, the thoughts seem to come with solemn force, that the time draws very near. Are we ready--are we seeking in every way possible to remove every little spot, and smooth every little wrinkle out of our own and each other's robes?
How important this moment! I have a word to the dear brethren who labor among us and are over us in the Lord: We esteem you very highly in love, for your works' sake, as Paul says is fitting. We examine with close scrutiny your words and communications, as they come through the TOWER from time to time, for we realize that God hath set you as watchmen upon the walls of Jerusalem, which should never hold your peace day nor night, until he make Jerusalem (the heavenly and earthly) a praise in the whole earth. (Isa. 62:6,7.)
And again the Prophet says, Hearken to the sound of the Watchman's trumpet. (Jer. 6:17.) In accordance with the command of the Prophet Joel (2:1) you have been blowing the trumpet in Zion, and sounding an alarm in God's holy mountain (among the true church of Christ) and some have heeded the call. Some have heeded in time to become members of the Bride of Christ, but still the trumpet is to sound until a company shall be developed, who will be the virgins, her companions that follow her. (Psa. 45:14.) Dear Brethren, let the trumpet give no uncertain sound, for in the words of Paul (1 Cor. 14:8) "If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?" We realize that there is a danger in the pathway of the preaching brethren, which does not beset other members of the body, and we have thought we have noticed a little tendency on the part of some as they have come amongst us, to be overcome in a measure by it--that is, the question that arose among some in the early church as to which should be greatest. Yes, here is a little mote of pride that renders uncertain to some, the otherwise clear trumpet tones of truth. O how sad that a little pride should crop out even here! Even our earnest brother Paul must have felt the power of this temptation, when he "feared least having preached to others, he himself might become a castaway," and said, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."
It does seem that certain scriptures teach, that if the desire to sustain a human reputation were all sacrificed, and if the human will were all dead, and the divine mind and will were the only one alive, the watchmen here would all see eye to eye: For the Prophet says, the watchman lift up the voice, together they cry aloud, because eye to eye they see, in Jehovah's turning back to Zion. (Isa. 52:8.) We recognize the present as the time of Jehovah's returning favor to Zion (the Jewish people).
Will he guide a part of the church into truth and a part into error? No, the promise is that all shall be guided into truth. "Now (says Paul) I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." (1 Cor. 1:10.) Is such a thing possible? Why not possible if the same spirit (the Spirit of God) dwell in us richly--if the one mind enters and animates these bodies in which the human mind and will are dead? If that were true, how could we have any other than the same mind, the same judgment.
Again he tells us (chap. 3:3) that if there is division among us, it is because we are carnal, and walk as men. (Read to vs. 10.) Therefore, "there should be no schism in the body...and whether one member suffer all the members suffer with it, or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it." (1 Cor. 12:24,25.) Dearly beloved, "Think the same thing, having the same love, united in soul, minding the one thing; doing nothing from party-spirit or vain glory: but in humility esteeming others as excelling yourselves; not each one regarding his own interests, but each one also those of others. Let this disposition be in us which was also in Jesus Christ." (Phil. 2:2,5, Diaglott.)
Do any inquire within themselves, who shall be greatest? Jesus replies that none shall have part in the kingdom, except the humble and that their rank and honor in the kingdom will be proportionate to their humility and service here (Matt. 18:3 and 23:11). Neither be ye called Masters, for one is your Master, even Christ; but he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself, shall be abased, and he that abaseth himself shall be exalted."
Now a word to the flock: Let me inquire: how readest thou God's word, and the messages sent through the columns of the W.T. from month to month to help you to its understanding? Do we look into the glass and go away and forget what manner of man we are? Do we read God's word carelessly, or do we study it diligently, using the help provided? Our brethren spend thought, and time, and means, in endeavoring to assist us to such an understanding of the truth as will arm us against error: Do we spend an equal amount of time and effort in the study of the truth presented? Nay--do we spend as much time in the study of one issue of the paper, as it must require to write one of the articles in it.
I fear sometimes that we do not half appreciate the value of the untiring zeal of these dear brethren in the Lord, in calling our attention to the blessed doctrines of God's word, and in helping us to put on the whole armor of God, that we may be able to stand in this evil day. Many are weak and easily carried about with every wind of doctrine and the cunning devices of crafty men (Eph. 4:14) simply because they have been negligent in the improvement of opportunities presented, for growth in knowledge and grace.
For myself I can say, the W.T. has been a means of incalculable blessing to me. Reasoning as it does from the Scripture, comparing the law and the prophets with the statements of Jesus and the Apostles, and unraveling the symbols of Revelation. In studying its pages before an open Bible, my faith has come to stand, not in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Is a new doctrine presented? I hear the voice of the Prophet-- "To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." But thank God, when I turn to the law and to the testimony, I find them speaking according to that word, and walking in that light; and their light--our light-- shines more and more. The old light is not extinguished when new light comes, but every added ray increases the glory.
We would find great advantage many times, in critically reading and re-reading many of the subjects treated in the paper. We cannot make these subjects our own with one reading, "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip"-- (Heb. 2:1) remembering that God hath given prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. (Eph. 4:11-13.)
FROM BRO. J. B. ADAMSON.
DEAR BRO:--Your letter received. I shall try to go on in strong faith in all circumstances, believing the "many and exceeding precious promises" "so Christ shall be magnified in my body" by life or by death. Am working more each day, for delivering personally, calls for more preaching to twos and threes, and is very precious to them and me. I avoid those "wise" men who know it all, whose creed is all and in all for them, and go to those really truth hungry, among whom I find Christ's most precious people and also many infidels. Some days do not get far and then have appointments for the evening. Truly the views we hold are true Gold to a large and increasing class. Most timely was the tract project from every point of view. As the poor teaching and want of teaching among the clergy increases, many look out to gather rays of light. I am asked to come Sunday at one o'clock to make the third meeting with an intelligent couple, members of the M.E. church who let me talk by the half hour and hour, seeming to drink in the doctrine and rejoice in it. Last night I spent an hour with them before prayer-meeting when I was asked to go along and testify there of these precious things. I had to remind them I dare not do so fully, and of the opposition and even abuse I met almost everywhere. I may give you some incidents in detail again that will rejoice your heart.
Found the free Methodist's very fair. The treatment better than I got anywhere else. Gave the pamphlet to sixteen preachers and one hundred of the most intelligent of the church membership, attending the conference from all over the state, beside in a large number of cases, also adding a word that will make the book more living for the personality attaching to it. That is the reason I talk to so many that I give the books to; so I get their attention to the book more fully. Am generally asked for explanations of our views, and though neither powerful nor eloquent of speech, I get attention to the book by complying. Thank God for the wider field thus opening. May the will of God be done in poor me, and His name get honor and blessing forever.
Yours in Christ, J. B. A.
FROM BROTHER J. J. BENDER.
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND, October 1st 1881.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL.
Having but a few minutes to post a letter in time to meet steamer leaving Liverpool today, I write in haste a few words. Arrived in Glasgow on Wednesday, and spent the day in hunting up some party, but could find none. Advertised in paper my wants and left for Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen, to extreme north, intending to distribute at each place. I succeeded without delay and returned in the night to Glasgow, having 18 replies to my advertisement. The first I called upon I made a contract with, and came here again to hear from London, but received no letter. I telegraphed to learn how things were getting along, and enclosed find a favorable reply. So far--100,000 pamphlets for London, 30,000 " " Glasgow, 20,000 " " Edinburgh, 10,000 " " Dundee, 5,000 " " Aberdeen.
I will now go to Carlisle and New Castle next, which will be distributing on my way down as near right geographically as I can to Liverpool, Manchester, Hull, Leeds, etc. Think I can get through all well.
I had time to call on Mr. Robert Young, critical translator of the Bible and author of "Young's Analytical Hebrew and Greek Concordance," and I asked his opinion of the text in 2 John 7, in regard to the Coming of Christ in the flesh, and he says that there is no doubt about the passage referring only to Christ's first Coming. I mentioned the quibble regarding the Rochester phase of it, and he said: "O no, no, it means only the first Coming."
Am enjoying good health, of which you may inform any inquiring friends and trust you are enjoying the same.
Yours truly, J. J. BENDER.
WORDS FROM BRO. SUNDERLIN.
DEAR BRETHREN AND SISTERS,
I was lately passing along the streets of a large city, when my attention was attracted to a fine large engraving hanging in one of the shop windows. (It was in Fleet street, London.) It represented a scene in one of the ancient Isthmian games. Two persons nearly divested of apparel, with distended muscles, occupied the course, stretching every nerve, while around, evidently excited with deep interest, was the "great cloud of witnesses."
They were well along in the course but the attention of the one somewhat in advance of the other is diverted for a moment by a flower or some shining object that has been [R292 : page 7] thrown into the arena by some one of the many witnesses, by which they are "compassed about."
An effort is made to grasp it, evidently the prize for which they are running is lost by this one, and no trace of sympathy is noticeable on the countenances of the spectators, but great rejoicing is apparent among the multitude, at the persistency with which the victor has reached the goal, ignoring every thing else, keeping the prize only in view and finally won it. I thought, that is a true picture of the Christian race which Paul has so faithfully and vividly painted in words, and which we see acted upon the stage of life. But how appropriately and timely the emphasizing of the thought just now. How faithfully that little shining object, whatever it may be, represents the besetments in the path of the one who is running for the prize of our high calling.
How insignificant compared with the prize and the honor at the end of the course. But unless watchful we shall hesitate; one moment may cost all, and may make delay sufficient to reach the judge's stand too late.
What's that in your path? A little worldly praise? Disdain to notice it, it is of no value whatever; you are worse off with it than without it. At another point do you see an avenue to wealth? Never mind; it would not be abiding if you had it. Press on.
Again; do you begin to think of some of the "weights" of value (?) left behind, fearing you will never see them again? Don't think of them only to hope you will never be encumbered with them more. Do you say or think: "I fear this race will be the ruination of all my worldly prospects?" Of course it will so far as having any pleasure in them is concerned.
You will be a very foolish man to divide your energies now, or thoughts either. Press on.
But do you say: "Why, there's my reputation right there in the dust." Poor fellow! how sorry I am you noticed it; but it's only the reputation you once had. Don't you know that none of those who are noted racers on this course have any [R293 : page 7] reputation. The greatest racer who ever stepped on it "made himself of no reputation."
But do you say: "This awful run will be the death of me?" Yes; of course it will; but you are a poor culprit under sentence of death any way, and if you undertake to save your life you will lose it, but run yourself to death and you'll have a life that is life everlasting, and more-- immortal. Don't be foolish now. Press on."A heavenly race demands thy zeal
And an immortal crown."
J. C. SUNDERLIN. London, England.
[The above was written by our brother before illness had quite prostrated him and compelled his return. --EDITOR.]
"WHO CAN HEAR IT?"
An idea sometimes becomes so imbedded in our minds, so much a part of ourselves, as that we can scarcely part with it. Yet how many of our ideas we have found it necessary to modify, the reason doubtless being that now we see as through a smoked glass, dimly. To very many it becomes a trial to have a long-cherished theory interfered with; but to all who have the childlike spirit of Christ, viz.: a readiness to take the Father's word unhesitatingly (not man's word), to such there is no trouble, for they say: I know nothing at all on the subject, and if I have received an idea unsupported by God's word I don't want it. I want truth, not my own ideas; give me truth, no matter what idol it may overthrow.
To such only, we have a word to say touching the long-cherished idea, that some of those now living would never die a physical death. We want to say to you that the Scriptures upon which that idea has been based, when critically considered to not (in our judgment) support the thought; and other Scriptures seem to teach positively that all who will be members of the body--Christ, must like their head, example, forerunner, die physically. Carefully examine the subject in the light of the following remarks on texts usually regarded as the basis of the idea that we will be exempted from physical death, and should you find any other texts which you consider evidence of the old idea, please inform us.
In 1 Thes. 4:15,17, we read-- That we which are alive and remain unto the coming (parousia--presence) of the Lord shall not prevent [hinder] them which are asleep. For the Lord...shall descend... and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together [or also] with [or to] them, &c."
Now we do not claim that anything here mentioned, indicates that the saints who remain over to this time of the Lord's presence will die; but we do claim that nothing in this text teaches that their human bodies will not die. This Scripture does not mention what change they will undergo before being joined to the Lord; in fact the change is not mentioned here at all. But the same apostle elsewhere informs us that a change must take place, because "flesh and blood" cannot inherit the kingdom of God--we must all be "changed" to spiritual bodies.
Let us next look at 1 Cor. 15:51, for it mentions the change particularly, and let us notice carefully whether Paul says we shall be changed without dying, as we have always supposed he does. We read: "Behold I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye;...the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed." We received our impression that our earthly body would not die, from the above statement regarding sleep, but who cannot see that the human body might be dissolved and we the new creatures be delivered from it and so quickly clothed upon with our spiritual body, that not a moment for sleep would intervene. If time should intervene between the dissolution of our earthly house (human nature) and the receiving of our spiritual body we should be obliged to sleep, as the Apostles and "all who sleep in Jesus." But that sleep has always been an undesirable thing; therefore with the apostle we can say that we are anxious, not to be unclothed (asleep without either human or spiritual body) but we prefer if the will of God be such, that we should be of the class alive when the Lord has come, so that instead of being even for a moment in the unclothed (or sleep) condition, we might be clothed upon, or receive that spiritual at the same moment we part with the old human house. And this in substance Paul here states--all will not sleep for to some the change will be in a moment, in an eye twinkling.
One thing is sure, we must leave the flesh sometime, and whenever or however it may be, it will be the death or dissolution and end of the human to all who become full recipients of the divine.
Now notice the words of Jesus, concerning John. John, we have long since seen to be a type or representative of the last part of the church--those who are alive and remain unto the presence of the Lord and who shall be changed. Jesus said of our representative, John: "If I will that he tarry till I come what is that to thee," Peter? Then went that saying abroad among the disciples, that that disciple should not die; howbeit Jesus said not that he should not die but, if I will that he tarry till I come," &c. (John 21:22.) Just so, dear brethren, it has been with the company typified by John; the saying has gone abroad and has been generally received that this part of the church will not die: Howbeit when we examine the evidences, we find that neither Jesus nor the apostles said we should not die, but that we would tarry till the Master's presence and be changed in a moment and not sleep.
Now notice the positive teaching that all of "the body" will die and then mark the necessity of death. It was no less an authority than Paul who said: If we be dead with him we shall also live with him; and if we have been planted in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection--desiring therefore to be made conformable unto his death.
Does some one object that these words are applicable to the daily life of Paul and of us and suggest that we are to be "living sacrifices." Very true, so we have taught and so we still believe, but while our dying commences at our consecration, it does not end there. As in the case of our "Captain," it does not end until the human is dead. While we begin, as "living sacrifices," yet when the sacrifice is finished, all that is human is dead. The thing that dies at once, is the human will, and when this is accomplished we reckon ourselves dead; but the death actually is in progress day by day until the sacrifice is complete. We cannot receive the spiritual mind unless we surrender the human mind or will, so also we cannot receive our spiritual body unless the earthly body is surrendered. Remember that Jesus said to all the churches: "Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life."
It is in harmony with these thoughts that we understand the words of Jesus (John 11:26): "Whosoever liveth (at this time) and believeth in me [or is one of the faith-ful] shall never die." The class referred to are reckoned dead to the human will, nature, hope, etc., and are alive toward God as new creatures. Such [R294 : page 7] new creatures who are now living will not sleep--will not die, but immediately --in the twinkling of an eye will be transferred to their new body like unto Christ's spiritual body. What matters it to us, if the earthly house of this building be dissolved in death, we shall not be unclothed but clothed upon with an heavenly one.
Now as we have seen that in Jesus' case, the human was surrendered to death forever, (He was "put to death in the flesh but quickened in spirit"), and that had he taken back the human nature it would have been taking back our ransom price, so we have seen that it is a privilege granted to us as his body, to fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ--to share in the world's redemption, with him who loved us and bought us with his own precious blood--to suffer with him, being made conformable unto his death. In a word, if Jesus must needs be obedient even unto death, and if he says to us: "Be thou faithful unto death," who shall say that the dissolution or death of the human being is not necessary?
Well, says one, then you are not now expecting translation, but death. No, we reply, we as new creatures who are living in this favored time of the Lord's presence expect to be translated--or changed to our own spiritual condition, but we expect the change to take place at the moment of the death of the "earthen vessel" --we will not be obliged to sleep as did the new creature Paul and others, but will be "changed in a moment."
We believe that translation in this manner is now due, and shall not be surprised to hear of some going thus beyond the second vail into the "Most Holy" condition--the perfect spiritual.
We are on the race course for life, and must be faithful unto death if we would receive the Crown of Life. "Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it, and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it." (Luke 17:33.)
THE Jewish Chronicle says: "The prosperous Jews form but a small portion of our brethren. Those who are comfortable and content are comparatively few. These, perhaps, would be loth to leave their assured and luxurious homes to find a new country and a new civilization. But those who are oppressed and unhappy, long for the advantages which reconsolidated nationality would give them. Oppression and persecution has kept our people, as a body, alive and homogeneous. The more the Jew is downtrodden the more he clings to the faith of his fathers and its observances. Liberated, and anxious to compete, socially, with his fellow countrymen, he throws over the restrictions which are deeply respected by those whom he would conciliate by their abandonment, with the simple result of making himself appear contemptible and sycophantic. It is oppression, and not prosperity, which will lead us back to our proper place in the Holy Land."
NO BACK NUMBERS.
The demand recently has exhausted our supply of back numbers of the WATCH TOWER except a few of the July number.
For the benefit of our many new readers we will republish a few articles which appeared in our columns about a year or two ago. Among others in next number will be an article on "The Beast and Image of Rev. 13."
OUR LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS.
From the fact that our contributors were not always "Regular Contributors," and also because there exists no special necessity for such list, it is discontinued. Hereafter correspondents' names will appear in connection with their articles.
Many have been the requests to have the WATCH TOWER oftener than once a month, and now it would seem they may have almost their wish.
Such will doubtless be glad to learn that our Bro. A. D. Jones (formerly of this city, but who has recently removed to New York City, where he can be within easier access of some companies of those who read the WATCH TOWER), purposes starting a new paper, to be devoted in some measure to the same topics we have been considering in this paper.
The new paper will be called, "Zion's Day Star," and has our best wishes; may it honor our Father and be an able messenger of the glad tidings to many. It will be a monthly, and the same price as the WATCH TOWER. All desiring it should address A. D. JONES, Cor. 27th and Broadway, New York City.
We have been so much engaged by the tract work during the past three months that the issuance of the last two numbers of the W.T. has, of necessity, been considerably delayed. Our apology must be found in article under the head of "In the Vineyard."
To many who may have written important letters or ones requiring some answer, the same apology must be offered. The distribution of the pamphlets and papers have brought from their readers hundreds of letters, asking questions or requesting back numbers of the paper, etc. We answered quite a good many of these, but they come so fast, and our time has been so limited, that nearly a thousand letters and postal cards have now accumulated--unopened and unread, and probably your letter is among them.
The Lord has provided more office help (for it is difficult to get suitable assistance), and we hope to get ahead of the work before long.
Let us here remark that we do not send receipts for regular subscriptions --the amount is too small. You know when and what you send, and we keep a careful record of all receipts. If subscriptions are lost in the mail we will be responsible for it, and be the losers. If your paper fails to come to hand any month, inform us by card if you have paid in advance, or if, as one unable to pay, you have requested to be put on the "Lord's poor list."
THE CHART OF THE AGES.
At a considerable cost, besides five cents apiece postage, we sent our readers (in July) as a supplement, a "Chart of the Ages" (the same which appeared in our last issue, only larger), suitable for hanging in a sitting room.
We fear that by many it has not been thoroughly studied, and because we know of nothing which would give you so clear a conception of the plan of God, we again direct your attention to it, and suggest that you study it three, four or ten times until you get every point clearly and indelibly fixed in your mind and heart, and it cannot fail to be a great blessing to you.
In the last paper (and also in the pamphlet) you have the same explanation of the chart which is found on the back of the large one, which will be found a more convenient form for study.
A reader asks regarding the extreme right of the chart--"The Tabernacle" --whether by the line which is shown as running through the center of the "Most Holy," we are to be understood as teaching that heaven is divided into two parts?
[Will questioner read explanations with more care? It required careful thought to state them, and must have the same careful thought to read and understand them.]
We would answer assuredly not, and if you had studied with more care the chart and its explanation, you could have drawn no such conclusion. The line which is shown to run through the "Most Holy" is the same which passes all along the upper part of the chart, and is explained to be (plane K) an illustration of the condition or plane (not place) of Glory. But as many have a very incorrect idea as to the meaning of the different parts or places of the typical Tabernacle, we want simply to suggest to you that none of those apartments indicate places. They are places in the type, but conditions in the antitype.
The "Most Holy" represents the perfect, spiritual and glorious conditions --planes K and L. The "Holy" represents the consecrated condition in which we are now as priests ministering before God, offering up sacrifices on the Golden Altar, a sweet incense, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ, and eating of the spiritual food and being enlightened by the Golden Lamp--the Word of God. We are there now in condition, but not in place; there is no such place where we will need a Golden lamp, etc., for when we are perfected and go beyond the Vail we shall know as we are known and not need the light of the lamp-- Word. We repeat, we are now in the condition typified by the "Holy," just as we expect shortly to be in the condition typified by the "Most Holy."
"The Court" represents the condition (not place) of justification by faith--the justified human.
"The Camp" represents the condition (not place) of the World busy with its own pleasures and affairs.
All these are conditions, as much as, when Paul says: "Let us go to him without the Camp," (referring to the sacrifices for sin--the bullock, Christ, and goat--the Church). He refers to our being cast out from, and dead to the World--he refers to a condition into which we are to go and not to a place.
The confusing idea as to place has been obtained by many from Paul's expression that Jesus did not enter the Tabernacle (Holy and Most Holy) made with hands--the type, but he entered the real--even "heaven itself." (Heb. 9:24.) Now, while not disputing the fact that there is a locality called heaven and that Jesus is there, yet the meaning of the word heavens here is spiritual reality, as contrasted with the earthly type.
We think that Paul's statement and the type he was explaining referred to Jesus' having gone first into the condition represented by the Holy, in which condition he ministered and offered sacrifices before God during his three and a half years' ministry, and then at his resurrection, his entering the "Most Holy" or perfect spiritual condition--afterward proceeding to the Glory plane in that Most Holy spiritual condition.
This is shown by the connections, for Paul says (Heb. 8:5) that the earthly Tabernacle, etc., served as an example and shadow of heavenly (spiritual) things, and (9:23) that though the pattern or typical Tabernacle was sprinkled by the blood of bulls and goats, yet the heavenly (spiritual) must have better sacrifices. Therefore Christ Jesus entered not the literal (neither do we) but the real or spiritual. (So do we as members of the same body following our fore-runner.) Both of the above words rendered heavenly (Greek, epouraneous) are the same exactly that Paul uses in describing our position when he says (Eph. 2:6) that God hath quickened us (Ye are alive toward God) and made us sit together in heavenly (spiritual) places in Christ Jesus.
Thus we see that as Jesus went into these heavenlies in their proper order --into the first during the three and a half years of self-sacrifice, and into the other (the perfect spiritual condition) at his resurrection, so we are to do as followers of our forerunner. And those who are living the consecrated life (living sacrifices) toward God, are now in the first of these "Holy" or spiritual conditions, and, like our leader, will enter into the other, the "Most Holy," when at resurrection (or change) we are made like unto Christ's glorious body.
The force of this is more clearly seen when we notice Paul's statement in Eph. 1:20. Here Paul asserts that at his resurrection Jesus was exalted by God far ABOVE all powers, etc., and placed at his right hand (choicest condition of favor) in THE (chief) heavenly place. The Greek word heavenly, here used, is emphatic, and signifies the chief heavenly condition, which is in perfect harmony with what we have already seen, viz.: that Jesus (as we are) had been in a heavenly condition during three and a half years before, but at resurrection he had reached THE heavenly or perfect spiritual condition.
Let us remind you that here also, the word rendered heavenly is the same word used with reference to our position as spiritually begotten-- new creatures. This text affirms that at resurrection Jesus entered THE epouraneous (heavenly, spiritual condition), while now we are in an epouraneous condition as asserted by the Scripture above referred to (Eph. 2:6), and in due time we hope to reach THE epouraneous condition and be like him.
This is a Greek word which is translated church. In the N.T. it signifies a company, assembly or body of people bound or compacted together.
To-day there are many organizations claiming to be the church, and having various bonds of union; but we wish to know, upon the authority of God's Word, what ekklesia, body, or church Jesus established, and what are its bonds of union; secondly, we wish to show that every Christian should belong to that church; thirdly, the injurious effects of joining the wrong ekklesia or church; and fourthly, having joined the right church, what are the results of losing our membership.
First then, the church which Jesus began to gather during his ministry, and which was recognized by the Father at Pentecost after their ransom price was paid, was the little company of disciples who had consecrated earthly time, talents and life a sacrifice to God. They were organized and bound together as members of one society, and as such had laws and government, and consequently a head or recognized ruling authority. The bonds were bonds of love and common interest. Since all were enlisted under the captaincy of Jesus, the hopes and fears, joys and sorrows, and aims of one were those of the other; and thus they had a far more perfect union of heart than could possibly be had from a union on the basis of any man-made creed. Thus their organization was of the Spirit; their law for the government of each was love, and all as a whole were put under obedience to the "law of the Spirit" as it was expressed in the life, actions, and words of their Lord. Their government was the will of him who said, "If ye love me keep my commandments."
Thus we see the early church organized, governed, and in perfect unity and harmony under the rulership or headship of Jesus. Contrast this church organization with what now affects to be a continuance of the same--viz.: the various denominational organizations, each of which binds its members to a mental union on the basis of some creed or dogma of its own (many of them anything but love-ly) and each having its own laws.
These laws emanate from their heads or rulers and law-givers; so it is clearly seen that these present day churches have and recognize as heads, or directing, ruling powers over them the ancient founders of their various creeds while their clergy in conferences, councils, synods and presbyteries, interpret and enforce the "traditions of the elders" which "make void the Word of God." These take the place of the true head of the church--Jesus--and the true teacher and guide into all truth, the Holy Spirit. Hear the Prophet Isaiah express it, (chap. 9:15.) "The ancient and honorable, he is the head, and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail."
Will they own this to be so? No, for Babylon the great--the mother of harlots, and all her daughters, the complete nominal church in this evil day, represented in Isa. 4:1 as the seven women, take hold of the one man (Christ Jesus) saying: "We will eat our own bread (which the world supplies) and wear our own apparel (the filthy rags of their own righteousness), only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach." And so they assume the name of Christ and call their organizations Christian churches. Theirs is a union of hands but not a union of hearts.
"These are hard sayings, who can receive them?" But these are not our sayings: it is the warning voice of the "sure word of prophecy... whereunto ye do well that ye take heed." And it is a loving voice for again our Lord declares: "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten."
There are two senses in which the true church of Christ may be considered: All who like the early church were fully consecrated to the doing of our Father's will, amenable only to Christ's will and government, recognizing and obeying none other --these saints from the beginning of the Gospel Age down to its close, when all of this class are sealed and the door to the high calling closes, constitute the "CHURCH OF THE FIRST BORN," whose names are written in Heaven. These are all one in aim, hope and suffering, and in due time will be joint-heirs with Jesus Christ to the great inheritance --heirs of the kingdom which God hath promised to them that love him. [R295 : page 9]
The other sense in which this same class is recognized, is, by counting a part for the whole, thus all the living of this class may be spoken of as the church; or again any part of this class of living followers who may meet together may properly be called the church; for by the word of Jesus we know that wherever two or three are assembled, he will be among them, consequently that would be a church meeting--an assembly of the "church of the First Born." The general assembly will be when all the church are made like, and glorified with, their head--Jesus.
Such then is our definition of the church of Christ; it is perfectly illustrated by Paul (Rom. 12:4,5) when he compares the church to a human body. In this figure, Jesus represents the head, and all who are his, constitute the body, over and through which, the head rules. Jesus has been, and always will be the head over his church as a whole; he is likewise the head and ruler of the entire living church, and in every assembly where two or three meet in his name he is the head, ruler, and teacher. If it be asked: In what sense does he teach?--we answer, by exercising the qualities of the head, or teacher; using one or more of those present in unfolding truth, strengthening faith, encouraging hope, inspiring zeal, etc., just as the head of your body can call upon one member to minister to another. But here a word of caution:--If one becomes as useful an instrument as a right hand, take care that you aspire not to become the head. Be not puffed up; pride will paralyze and render useless: "Be not ye called Rabbi (Master, teacher) for one is your Master (head) even Christ and all ye are brethren." And let not the least member despise his office, "for if all were one member where were the body?" "Nay those members of the body which seem to be more feeble are necessary"--"God hath set the members every one of them, in the body as it hath pleased him."
How simple, beautiful and effectual is God's plan of organization.
This brings us to our second proposition, viz.: that all Christians should be joined to this organization. In the light of what has just been said as to the class constituting the church which Jesus organized, it is evident that if you have given up all your will, talent, time, etc., you are recognized by Jesus as a follower, and member of the ekklesia, or body of which he is the head, whose names are written in heaven. Thus we join Jesus' church and have our names recorded as members, by consecration. But says one: must I not join some organization on earth, assent to some creed and have my name written on earth? No, remember that Jesus is your pattern and teacher, and neither in his words nor acts will you find any authority for binding yourselves with creeds and traditions of the elders, which all tend to make the word of God of none effect (Mark 7:13) and bring you under a bondage which will hinder your growth in grace and knowledge, and against which Paul warned you to "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free, and be not entangled with the yoke of bondage." (Gal. 5:1.)
But say some: If it is not proper to unite with any of the present nominal churches, would it not be well to form a visible organization of our own? Yes, this is what we have--an organization modeled after that of the early church. We think we have come back to primitive simplicity: The Lord Jesus alone is our head or lawgiver, the Holy Spirit is our interpreter and guide into truth; our names are all written in heaven; we are bound together by love and common interest.
Do you inquire--how shall we know one another? We reply, how could we help knowing one another when the Spirit of our Master is made manifest in word and act, and manner and look? Yes, the living faith, the unfeigned love, the long-suffering meekness, the childlike simplicity coupled with the constancy and zeal of maturity, make manifest the sons of God, and we need no earthly record, for the names of all such are written in the Lamb's book of life.
Do the sick need visiting or assistance? --these stand ready with consecrated time. Does the Lord's work require money?--these stand ready with consecrated means. Does his work bring upon them the reproach of the world?--these have also sacrificed reputation--all--all to God.
But again, do you inquire how shall we deal with one who walks disorderly in our midst; if we have no organization such as we see about us, how can we free ourselves from such, as the Lord requires us to do? We answer: Do just as Jesus and Paul directed.
Now, as in the early church, there are various degrees of advancement among the individual members, and Paul says (1 Thes. 5:14) some are feeble minded, comfort them; some are weak, support them; but while you should be patient toward all, warn the disorderly (those who are drifting away from the true spirit of Christ). Don't mistake the disorderly for the weak, and comfort them; nor for the feeble-minded, and support them, but patiently, lovingly, warn the disorderly. Whom does he call disorderly? Doubtless there are many ways of walking disorderly, but in 2 Thes. 3:11, he speaks of some who work not at all, but are busy-bodies, and says they should do as he did--work that they be not chargeable to any; and if any will not work neither should he eat. Thus he said he did, that he might be an example to others. Then again, vs. 14: If after you have warned such a one and he "obey not company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not an enemy but admonish him as a brother."
Again Jesus gives explicit directions where there is a matter of offence between two brethren, Matt. 18:15,17 --If thy brother shall [R296 : page 9] trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between him and thee alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother; but if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: (the company of brethren who assemble together) but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
If, under the organization of our head, we heed his commands, which we will do if we love him, how few will be the misunderstandings and difficulties among the brethren. This organization has its evangelists, pastors and teachers appointed and directed by the Lord. They need no laying on of hands by the so-called Apostolic succession; for the "Spirit of the Lord hath anointed" all the members of the body "to preach," etc., (Isa. 61:1) and it is the duty of every member of the body to exercise his office for the edification of the other members.
How complete is the organization of the church of Christ with its heaven-written, love-bound and Spirit ruled membership, and how sad the error of mistaking the nominal for the real church?
The importance of our fourth proposition need not be urged. It would indeed, be a dreadful calamity to lose our membership in the true church or body of Christ. And no member is out of this danger except when keeping a vigilant watch over the old nature, counted dead, lest it come to life again, and assert itself in the form of pride, selfishness, envy, evil-speaking--or what not? But if filled with love (the love that prompts to sacrifice) and clothed with humility, and under cover of the redeeming blood, we are safe in the church (body), having the assurance that it is our "Father's good pleasure to give us the kingdom."
Yes, the kingdom is the glorious destiny of the true church--the "little flock"--now treading the pathway of humiliation and drinking the bitter cup of death. Oh, the glory that shall be revealed in us doth not yet appear except to the eye of faith, but the temptations and trials are very apparent on every hand. "Let us, therefore, fear lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it." (Heb. 4:1.)
Thus Paul warned others and thus he feared, "lest (even after) having preached to others, he himself should be a castaway." (1 Cor. 9:27.) We may have our names cast out as evil by those of the nominal church, and yet "rejoice and be exceeding glad because our names are written in heaven." They may frown upon you and despitefully use you and say all manner of evil against you falsely, or they may seek to win you back by flattery, saying they cannot afford to lose your influence--you could do so much good by remaining among them. Oh, how necessary in this evil day is the faith--"That bears unmoved the world's dread frown,
Nor heeds its flattering smile;
That seas of trouble cannot drown,
Nor Satan's arts beguile."
Dearly beloved, let us again repeat the warning: "Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free, and be not again entangled with the yoke of bondage"--not even in the slightest degree.
THE EVERLASTING FATHER.
Two of these titles of our Lord Jesus have rather bewildered many of His children, and the churches in general holding to the Papal heresy of a triune God--or three Gods in one, equal in power, glory and all other respects, have rather been interested in adding to the bewilderment than in explaining the text.
Not to go into the subject in great detail, we would mention a few thoughts on the titles--Mighty God, and Everlasting Father.
The English word God, as found in the Old Testament, is the translation of several Hebrew words--sometimes one, sometimes another. In this instance it is the word El. El signifies strong or powerful, consequently is applicable to any powerful being and especially so to the most powerful--the Almighty Jehovah.
That the word is thus used may be readily seen by any one who will carefully note the following texts, in which the English translations of the Hebrew word El are in italics:
"It is in the power of my hand." (Gen. 31:29)--"there shall be no might in thine hand." (Deut. 28:32) --"neither is it in our power." (Neh. 5:5) --"like the great mountains." (Psa. 36:6)--"in the power of thine hand to do it." (Prov. 3:27)-- "pray unto a god [mighty one] that cannot save."--(Isa. 45:20)--"who among the sons of the mighty." (Psa. 89:6) --"God standeth in the congregation of the mighty" [the saints]. (Psa. 82:1)--"Who is like unto thee O Lord [JEHOVAH] among the Gods" [mighty or ruling ones]. (Exod. 15:11)--"Give unto the Lord [JEHOVAH] O ye mighty." (Psa. 29:1) --"The mighty God [ruler] even the Lord" [JEHOVAH]. (Psa. 50:1.)
Notice the above texts carefully and critically and all will agree that the context in every case shows the meaning of the Hebrew word El to be powerful one. How clearly it is stated in the last three quotations that JEHOVAH is the chief "el" and ruleth over all other el--powerful ones. And it should be known to all, that JEHOVAH is the name applied to none other than the Supreme Being --our Father, and him whom Jesus called Father and God. (John 20:17.) The meaning then of the words "Mighty God" in our text, is,--He shall be called the mighty powerful. And so he is, for to him the Father has given all power in earth and heaven--(Matt. 28:19, and 11:27.) "He is Lord of all"--next to the Father for "The head of Christ is God." (1 Cor. 11:3.) They are one in mind, purpose, etc., because Jesus gave up his own will and took the Father's (John 5:30) just as we must give up our will, mind, spirit and receive the Father's if we would be made heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord. Does any one ask further proof of a distinction of persons? If so we request such to read Matt. 22:44--Jesus' application to himself of Psa. 110:1, remembering that the words used by David, translated Lord [Master] are totally distinct and entirely different words, the first one being Jehovah, and the other adon. We give Young's translation of this verse--"The affirmation of Jehovah to my Lord--
Sit at my right hand,
Till I make thine enemies thy footstool."
Now let us notice the second appellation --"Everlasting Father." This in the Hebrew signifies just what it does in the English, viz.: a father forever. The word father signifies cause or authorship of being--or life giver. So that Isaiah's declaration means that Jesus shall be hereafter known as an author of life--or life giver to some one. Next we inquire to whom will he give life? and Paul answers "As in Adam all die so in Christ shall all be made alive." This teaches then that Christ becomes the Father of the entire race. Next we ask what kind of life or nature will [R296 : page 10] Christ give the race? And the answer is, a perfect human nature, and hence an eternal human life-- just what they lost through Adam's transgression. So Paul tells us (Rom. 5:18,19) "As through one [person's] offence sentence came on all men to condemnation [condemning all to a loss of life] so also, through one [person's] righteous act sentence came on all men to justification of life. [That is, through the obedience of Christ the death penalty is to be removed--in his death it was paid and all men shall have a right to life again--the same life and nature once possessed, then lost, which has been redeemed or purchased back.] "For as through the disobedience of one man the many were made sinners [and because sinners deprived of life,] so also, through the obedience of the one [Christ] the many [the same number] will be constituted [made] righteous." And being no longer sinners they will no longer be subject to the penalties of sin--sickness, pain, DEATH.
We see then that the special work of Christ for the human race was the counteracting or rolling back of sin and its penalty--death (the loss of life). In this, he is the Great Physician or Restorer; and the age during which this (result of his death on their behalf,) will be accomplished is called "The times [years] of restitution" --or giving back--of the blessings lost through the entrance of sin. Human life was the principal thing lost and it Jesus is to give back--and in so doing he shall (future) be called the "Everlasting Father."
Adam was so created that he might be the father or life giver to a race of human beings. Through disobedience he lost his own right to life--became a dying sinner. He could only give to his posterity what he possessed--a dying nature--and consequently none of the race ever attained perfect life. Thus Adam failed to become in the proper sense a father or life giver. It is because Christ will accomplish this work of life giving in which Adam failed, that he is called the "Everlasting Father." [R297 : page 10]
But does some one inquire, Is not Jesus a spiritual being and of the divine nature since his resurrection? Yes. Then would not any life imparted by Him be of the same nature as his own, viz.: Divine and Immortal? By no means, Jehovah is the life giver, or father of all creation; yet all creation is not possessed of the Divine nature. Besides we must not deal in inferences while we have clear teachings of Scripture to guide us in this matter. If Jesus be the Father or giver of the Divine nature to the world in the next age, he must be equally so to his church of this Gospel age. How is this--is Jesus ever called our Father? No, he is called our "Captain," "Leader," "Forerunner," "Master," "Head," "Lord" but never is he called our Father. On the contrary, Jesus' own teachings and that of the Apostles, is that Jehovah is the only Father or Giver of the Divine nature, that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is our Father and hath begotten us (1 Pet. 1:3)--that as He raised up Jesus to the Divine nature and likeness He would raise up us also by His Spirit.
It was Jesus himself who taught us to pray "Our Father." (Luke 11:2.) Who also said: "Glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matt. 5:16) "Be the children of your Father, (vs. 45.) "Pray to thy Father in secret and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee." (Matt. 6:6.) "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of," etc., etc., Who said again, "I ascend to my Father and to your Father to my God and your God." (John 20:17.)
Again Jesus made a very emphatic statement of our dear and close relationship to him and to The Father when he said--"Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." (Matt. 12:50.) "Call no man Father on the earth for one is your father even God and all ye are brethren." (Matt. 23:9.) And Paul assures us that "Both he that sanctifieth (Jesus) and they that are sanctified (the "body") are all one, for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren." (Heb. 2:11)
Do these statements seem out of harmony with that other statement of Jesus (John 10:27,28), "My sheep hear my voice and I give unto them eternal life"? We think not, for while it is thus expressly stated that we are begotten of God--that he is our Father, and that "God hath both raised up the Lord and will also raise up us also by his own power," (1 Cor. 6:14) it is also stated that "He which raised up the Lord Jesus, shall raise up us also by Jesus." (2 Cor. 4:14) The harmony of these Scriptures shows that Jehovah is our Father--life-giver--though he has used the Spirit and the Word as his agents in our begetting, and will use Jesus as his agent in our birth or resurrection.
But though accepting the statements of our Lord on this subject as conclusive, yet we desire to understand if we may, how Christ will be the "Everlasting Father" to the world, while Jehovah is the Father of the "little flock" who shall with Jesus inherit the kingdom; assured, that every such distinction has a reason, which, if understood, should shed some light upon the general plan.
First then, we remark that Jesus did a work for his church, without which they never could have received either the begetting or birth to the Divine Nature, i.e., he redeemed our human nature. Like all others of the human race, the church were sinners, and like all others of the race, we were redeemed--or justified, by the precious blood (life) of Christ. No one is justified to the Divine Nature by Christ's death--no, it was human life that was lost through Adam, and to human life all are justified by Christ. It was because it was a human nature that was lost that Jesus left the glory he had with the Father, and took upon Him the human nature--that he might give or sacrifice it as a ransom for our human nature. In a word, it must be evident to all that Jesus' death is the basis or cause of a restitution of the human nature, but not a cause of the giving of the Divine Nature.
Secondly, we remark that the Divine nature is Jehovah's gift--given as a reward of obedience (even unto death) to those who, by patient perseverance in well doing seek for it-- "Glory, Honor and Immortality."
Paul informs us that it was because of obedience even unto the death of the human, that God highly exalted Jesus, or made him a Divine being. (All spiritual beings do not possess the Divine nature--Angels for instance.) And the promise held out during the Gospel age, under which the "Bride" or "Body" of Christ is called out of the World is, that if we follow in Jesus' footsteps, we shall attain to the same prize and experience the same high exaltation from the human nature to the Glory, Honor and Immortality of the Divine--as members of a body under Jesus our head.
The conditions of this high exaltation are so severe, that though many are called, few will be chosen, because only a few will make their calling and selection sure by so running as to obtain that great prize. (1 Cor. 9:24.) It is an extraordinary prize, and it is no easy race as all the runners testify from the head all down through this age. Yet, though difficult we run it with joy for the same reasons as the "head"--who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross despising the shame. (Heb. 12:2.)
Brother Paul tells us that the exceeding great and precious promises of the Word were given us, that by these (the strength and encouragement which they would afford us, as they did Jesus, to be "obedient even unto death") we might become partakers of the Divine nature. (2 Pet. 1:4.)
Let us glance at a few of these exceeding great and precious promises:
Paul says: "If we suffer with him we shall also reign with him." (2 Tim. 2:12.) "If we be [become] dead with him [dead to the World and to our own will--alive to the will of God] we shall also live with him." (2 Tim. 2:11.) If we seek Glory, Honor and Immortality, patiently and perseveringly we shall gain the prize. (Rom. 2:7.) Then again, he says that Christ is a son over a house of sons, whose house are we, if we hold fast to the end of the Gospel age, when the house will be finished. (Heb. 3:6.)
Peter mentions this special prize which is for the overcomers of this time saying: "Blessed be that God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who, according to his great mercy hath begotten us, again, to a living hope (through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead) to an inheritance incorruptible [immortal] undefiled [pure] and unfading, preserved in heaven for you,...that the proof of your faith...may be found to, [or result in] praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." (1 Pet. 1:3-7. Diaglott).
Our Father might have asked our sacrifice without telling us how great should be our reward, but he knew that the influence of these exceeding precious promises was needful, that we might properly value the titles and honors of earth, and be enabled to count them all but loss and dross for the excellencies promised us as members of the body of the Christ.
Thirdly, we notice that all of these promises designed to help to the Divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4) belong to the Gospel age. They will all be fulfilled when the church--or body is exalted to glory with the head--set with him on his throne. Read each of these again carefully and any others and see that none of the exceeding precious promises belong to the next age; all are confined by the context, to this age. To those who have covenanted to sacrifice the human, "now is the acceptable time"--and to such only is the Divine nature given. True there are promises and great ones to mankind, to be fulfilled in the next age during the reign of The Christ head and body, but these are all earthly promises and will not compare with our heavenly ones. Among these, are the promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Israel and the nations, all of whom are to be blessed under our spiritual Kingdom which will be the agency and power through which they will be restored to human perfection and happiness; as Paul expresses it: "God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made PERFECT." (Heb. 11:40).
We see then, that the Divine nature comes to the church, as to Jesus, as a reward from the Father Jehovah for the race of faith well run, for the crucifixion--sacrifice, of the human nature. Does some one ask: Was not our human nature condemned to death already as sinful, and if so how could it be accepted of God as a sacrifice? Ah! that was where we were blessed in Jesus, the same as the World, i.e., his death paid our penalty and justified us. Had it not been for our ransom, we should have had nothing to sacrifice and could never have received the divine reward; but being justified we could present our justified humanity "a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God." (Rom. 12:1.) Our human nature having been redeemed by our Lord's death, must in the sight of Jehovah, be just as pure and perfect as was the human nature of Jesus, for his perfectness was imputed to us. Consequently, being justified by faith, we may run the race as acceptably as did our Lord. And though the race is a difficult one we are not alone in it as he was for he was a solitary traveler and "of the people there was none with him," while we have in each other helps by the way; and in Him as our Leader and "Fore-runner" a perfect example, and above all his watchful eye to guide and direct our course and to give "help in every time of need," as we climb after him. "Few there be that find this narrow difficult way. It is "a little flock to whom it is their Father's good pleasure to give the Kingdom."
We conclude then that the titles, Mighty God, and Everlasting Father, are titles which fully understood, are very appropriate to Our Lord Jesus [R298 : page 10] Christ. And we might add that so perfectly is his Bride--body--church, associated with him, both in filling up the measure of the sufferings-- being joined in sacrifice and also in the Glory that shall follow, that the same titles are applicable to the Church as his body--for "He that hath freely given us Christ, shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" "Therefore all things are yours, and ye are Christ's and Christ is God's."
After the sacrifice--soon follows the power which will, under him as our head, constitute the whole body of Christ the "Mighty God" (el-- powerful one) to rule and bless the nations--and the body with the head, shall share in the work of restoring the life lost in Adam, and therefore be members of that company which as a whole will be the Everlasting Father to the restored race.
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