I. The Living and True God
II. Why A Mystery?
III. The Bible In The Light Of Reasaon
IV. The Permission of Evil
V. Redemption from the Curse
VI. Its Epochs and Dispensations
VII. The Predestination and Election of the Bible
VIII. The Judgement Scene Before the Great White Throne
IX. The Millennial Kingdom
X. The Kingdoms of this World Supervised
XI. Messiahs Second Coming
XII. The Great Day of His Wrath
THE STRUCTURE of the brain places veneration at the very top, and thus, by implication, confirms the statement of the catechism that "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever." However great the depravity of our race in the dark places of the earth, this element of veneration, of an instinctive appreciation of a God and a feeling of responsibility toward him constitutes a foundation upon which to build, to reconstruct, to reorganize the depraved elements of character.
Without this fulcrum, missionaries and philanthropists might well lose all heart and all hope in respect to the moral and social uplift of the masses and the classes.
Whoever, therefore, is intelligently a friend to his race must do everything in his power to maintain this center of mental balance of mind and to utilize it as an essential feature in the Divine arrangement for human well-being. Whoever in any manner or degree undermines this element of the mind is surely doing a destructive work, instead of a constructive one, whether he realizes the fact or not. But, alas, that we must say it! Some of the most intelligent of our most intellectual day are rapidly drifting away from the fundamental truth that there is a living and true God.
These intellectuals are accepting the thought of an impersonal God, which, from our standpoint, is tantamount to saying, "There is no living and true God." This is the position taken, not only by theosophists and Christian Scientists, but also by many scientific and professional thinkers. Rarely is an attempt made to define the impersonal God. Rather the term God is used merely as a concession to popular sentiment and the "ignorance of the unlearned." Those who hold this view often use the word nature as a synonym for God. Their thought really seems to be that there is no intelligent creator in the universe; that our sun and stars and planets are governed by what they term "natural laws," and that humanity prospers and progresses merely as it learns by experience the operation of these laws, and seeks co-operation and avoids conflict with them. Christian Science, dealing less with the scholastic and more with the ordinary reason, attempts to explain that the word God simply signifies Good. And then, with something of a play upon words, which confounds the reasoning faculties of the untrained mind, they tell us that whatever is useful is good, and therefore is God. Proceeding with the explanation, they declare that every tree and rock have good or usefulness in them, and hence to that extent have God in them. Elaborating further, they say that God is in the air, because of its vitalizing effect; he is in the flower because of its goodness and usefulness for beauty and fragrance; he is in the tea-kettle, because of its usefulness; likewise in the chair, the table, the floor, the ceiling—everything.
Whoever entertains such views proportionately destroys his faith in a personal God, "The Living and True God," and in the Bible as his revelation. How could an impersonal God have a purpose, a will, a plan, a program? And how could he give a revelation of that purpose or program in the Bible or otherwise? "He that cometh unto God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." He shall be found of them. He will reveal his true character to them. "He that seeketh findeth." But our Christian Science friends meet our objection with the assertion that Buddhists and Theosophists hold the same and represent a large proportion of the human family. Furthermore, they claim that the same thought of an impersonal God is taught in all the principal creeds of Christendom, when they declare faith in an omni-present God! Alas, we must admit that the charge is well founded; that the seed of error on this subject was planted in our minds and confessions of faith long ago. Be it noticed, however, that this inconsistency cannot be charged against the Bible, for, although our confessions of Faith were ostensibly made to be in harmony with the Scriptures, the truth is, that not one word of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, declares Divine Omni-presence, but every utterance on the subject affirms the personality of the Father, and that our Lord Jesus is the "express image of his person."— Heb 1:3. "God is a Spirit," but he is a being, a person. The Scriptures distinctly tell us that a spirit has not flesh and body, as we have, but they as distinctly inform us of the Divine personality and use the members and qualities of the human body to bring the Creator within the range of our apprehension. The Hand of the Lord (his Divine power), and the Eye of the Lord (his Divine wisdom) are in every place. The Ear of the Lord is bowed down to hear the groaning of the prisoner. And the Heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind.
Heaven is his Throne and the earth is his footstool. True, these expressions are pictorial, figurative; nevertheless they figure not an impersonal Creator, but a personal one, who feels, who thinks, who exercises his power; who has displeasure with those who are sinful and loves those who seek to do his will; to walk in the paths of righteousness. Whoever cultivates this thought of a righteous, personal God, assists in establishing his own heart along lines of corresponding character. He seeks a further knowledge of such a Creator; seeks his compassion and his protecting care, and learns to love him, as he could never appreciate nor love Nature nor any disorganized conception of a space-pervading non-entity. He whose mind and heart grasps the Scriptural Personality of the Heavenly Father catches the significance of our Savior's words, "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And not one of them shall fall to the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; ye are of more value than many sparrows." Such may worship in spirit and in truth proportionate to their knowledge of the Infinite One, whom they were directed to address, "Our Father, which art in heaven." Thinking of the Almighty as everywhere present is entirely unsatisfactory to our comprehension, which calls for a God whose throne is in heaven. This was the same thought that our Savior again impressed on the women who met him after his resurrection. To these he said: "I have not yet ascended to my Father, and to your Father; to my God and to your God." Thus the general trend of Scriptural testimony confirms the thought which we receive by nature, and intensifies and elaborates it, by giving location and quality of heart and mind and power. Regardless of the truth of the two theories, the Bible presentation is surely the one most helpful to humanity.
To have no personal God must eventually signify to the reasoning mind no Law-Giver, no Judge, no justice, no love, no mercy, no personal relationship, as between father and child. Thus would be lost the very basis of Christian faith and doctrine.
The Scriptural presentation of the Almighty is, therefore, the one most consistent to our reason and most helpful to us, namely, that he is a great God, infinite in his wisdom, his justice, his love and his power. His personality has heaven for his locality, but his influence and powers pervade the universe. We may but imperfectly imagine the various channels of his information and the innumerable agencies through which he can exercise the Almighty Power. But in the light of present day invention, we have at least suggestions of it, for cannot man communicate by wireless telegraphy over hundreds of miles? And not only so, but cannot he use the Hertz-waves for the transmission of power? And can he not with the telescope greatly enlarge his vision, and with the microscope see things otherwise indiscernible? And if puny man, imperfect and fallen, "Born in sin and shapen in iniquity and of few days and full of trouble," can thus enlarge his natural powers, what limitations might he justly or wisely set upon the intelligence and power of his Creator? "He that formed the eye, shall he not see? He that formed the ear, shall he not hear?" He that gave to humans our sense of justice, shall we not consider him the very Embodiment of Justice? He who gave to us the power of sympathy and compassion and love, shall we not consider him, the Author of our powers, as infinitely superior to the very highest of our human ideals? For our present purpose it is not even necessary that we be believers in the Bible in order to formulate before our minds something of the glorious character and attributes of our Maker. True, correct views of the teachings of the Scriptures will surely aid us in our conceptions, but at this time we are addressing not merely believers in the Scripture, but also unbelievers. We urge, then, that rational thought on the subject bids us believe that man is the highest type of earthly intelligence, and this teaches us that there must be an intelligent Creator as much superior to us as we are to the crawling worm. Yea, more than this, that he who gave us our intelligent being must be separated from us by a still wider gulf than that which separates us from the worm, because we cannot even create a worm. And it is but a logical process of reasoning that the noblest of our talents and powers are but feeble reflections of the same qualities in our Creator.
From this standpoint, how great is the God which our intelligent reason would picture! How worthy of our reverence, our devotion, our love, our service! The Scriptures assist us by showing that the blemishes which we find in ourselves and others are results of disobedience to the Divine instruction—the results of the fall from the more particular image and likeness of our Creator. Filled with so noble a conception of Deity, we would naturally hasten to worship and bow down, but are stopped by the voices from the Dark Ages, which misrepresent the Almighty, implying that he is not the embodiment of justice, wisdom, love and power. These voices assure us that, although we are commanded to love our enemies, to do good to them that hate us and persecute us and say all manner of evil against us falsely, nevertheless the Almighty, who gave these commands, does not love or forgive his enemies, and does them good but inadequately, and has made preparation for their eternal torture. There is something wholly inconsistent between these voices from the past and the voice of our reason. It is claimed by many that the Bible substantiates the voices of the Dark Ages, the creeds, but we hold that this is a mistake, partly attributable to poor translation and partly to misunderstood parables.
The reasoning mind surely rebels against the theory which in the Dark Ages held sway and led to the Inquisition and the stake. And it is glad that it has gotten rid of so gross a misconception of the "Father of Lights." A well-balanced and reverential intellect will rejoice to find and to recognize a God that not only is not devoid of justice, wisdom, love and power, and on a plane lower than our own, but who, on the contrary, is infinite in these attributes and worthy of our reverence and worship. We assent that the Divine Word, the Bible, has been greatly misrepresented by us all in the past, and deserves reconsideration. If our forefathers read the Bible with smoking lamps and blurred vision, and nevertheless got some blessing, what a power of God it should be to us now, if, in the light of the electric arc, we should find it the store-house of Divine grace and truth, perfectly co-ordinated and surpassing our highest ideals!
Wherever we go, whether in heathen or in civilized lands, we find the most intelligent people associating themselves in various secret societies. They do indeed make prominent certain general objects, which these societies profess to serve—but more than this, the public are not to know. Their secrets are carefully guarded by grips and signs and pass-words and vows. There is a reason for this secrecy, too. It is to prevent the methods and operations of the societies becoming known to those not in sympathy with them, who might seek to frustrate them. What shall we say if we find that our Creator, for similar reasons, has kept secrets from alienated mankind many of his purposes? And would it seem strange if we should find that those in fullest harmony with their Maker should proportionately be granted a knowledge of the Divine purposes hidden from others? We hold that these are the facts—that the Bible so declares. In a word, from the Scriptural standpoint, Jehovah God was the organizer of the most remarkable secret society known to men up to the present time! The Jewish Church was a kind of Junior Order and prepared the way for the Gospel Church, which for nearly nineteen centuries has constituted the great Divine Secret Society. True, there are many nominally associated who are hypocrites and who have neither part nor lot in the Society, its privileges, its blessings and its secrets. Then there are others who have taken the first step or degree, and who are thus privileged to know the merest rudiments of the Divine Purpose. Others have taken the second and subsequent degrees, and have grown in grace and knowledge, having become wise with the wisdom which cometh from above. Let us prove from the Bible that there are such secrets of the Divine Purpose, and that they are revealed to some and not possible to be understood by others. Do not the Scriptures declare that "The secret of the Lord is with them that reverence him, and he will show them his covenant?"—Ps 25:14. Did not St. Paul declare: "The mystery hid from all ages and generations is now made manifest to his saints?" (Col 1:26.) Note well that this mystery is not made known to the world, but unto the saints—and in proportion as they are saintly. Note again that our Redeemer, addressing the Father, said, "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes; even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight." (Mt 11:25-26.) Hearken to his words again when asked of his disciples why he spoke to the people in parables and dark sayings; he responded, "Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the Kingdom of God; but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: that seeing they may see and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand."—Mr 4:11-12. There is one prominent difference between the operation of the Lord's Secret Society and the worldly ones. The latter have great difficulty in preserving their secrets, while the former has no difficulty.
While the Lord's people are advised not to cast their pearls of knowledge before the swinish, it is not because the latter might understand and thwart the Divine Purposes or reveal the Divine Secret, but, as he expressed it, "Lest they turn again and rend you." Otherwise God's people may tell anything and everything they please, to the extent of their knowledge, respecting the Divine Mysteries, but the while should know that none can understand these mysteries except the initiated—the spirit begotten. Mark the Apostle's clear expression on this subject: "The natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." "We speak wisdom among them that are perfect; yet not the wisdom of this world. ...We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory....God hath revealed them unto us by his spirit: for the spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." —1Co 2:6,7,10,14.
Proceeding, the Apostle shows the necessity for this secretiveness as respects the Divine Purpose—shows that if it were generally known amongst men, the Divine program would at times be interfered with. He tells us that none of the princes or prominent ones of the world understand this wisdom of God—for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. It is with them, as it was previously foretold by the Prophet Isaiah (Isa 64:4). "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his spirit.... We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the holy spirit teacheth."—1Co 2:8-13. We shall assume that we have established our point; that there is a mystery connected with the Divine purpose, and that it can be understood only in proportion as any shall come into harmony with God, and is understood completely only by the spirit-begotten and fully developed saints of God. We may proceed to show from the Bible additionally that the Revelation of this mystery, even to the "saints" was to be a gradual one, whereby the mysteries, the secrets, would become "meat in due season to the Household of Faith." (Mt 24:45.) For instance, our Lord at his first advent declared to his followers: "I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." (Joh 16:12.) In the same connection he promised that in the future, as due, these still hidden things would be gradually revealed according to the necessities of his followers. A full knowledge of the mystery of the Lord was not promised until the end of this Gospel Age, when, under the sounding of the seventh symbolical trumpet, "the mystery of God shall be finished," which he hath kept secret from the foundation of the world.—Re 10:7; Ro 16:25. Our Lord pointed to this culmination of knowledge, when he said to his followers that in the future the holy spirit "should show them things to come." (Joh 16:13.) It is in full harmony with this that special visions and revelations were given to St. Paul, not for the benefit of himself alone, but for the blessing and encouragement and assistance of all the members of the Church of Christ, God's Secret Society. For although the Apostle tells us that he was forbidden to make known the secret things revealed to him, nevertheless by Divine intention the knowledge given to him greatly illuminated his writings and made them specially helpful to the saints throughout the Age. And St. Paul's writings, be it remembered, constitute more than one-half of the New Testament. Thus did God provide a storehouse of spiritual food, to be gradually dispensed to the Household of Faith throughout the age, as "meat in due season" —dispensed by the holy spirit. We remember, furthermore, that the Law and Prophecies given to typical Israel were clothed in figurative, symbolical language, and these also constituted "meat" for the Household of Faith, the understanding and appropriation of which would be possessed gradually, as the holy spirit would guide them and grant the necessary enlightenment, that the spirit-begotten ones might understand "the deep things of God." Moreover, the writings of St. Paul constitute a key to the understanding of the many features of the typical Law Covenant. This principle of keeping secret the Divine purpose, yet providing a key to its understanding, which would unlock it in due time, reminds us of the time-locks now in common use for the protection of the treasures of our banks. The combination will not operate until the due time has been reached, and then it will yield only to those who have the combination, and who will use it. As an illustration in point, note the statement of Daniel's experience and the Divine message to him. The Prophet had been given a vision and a part of it had been interpreted to him, but the remainder perplexed him. He plead with the Lord, he tells us, with fasting and prayer for weeks, and then obtained a further interpretation of a portion of it, but was told respecting the remainder, "Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end (in the time of the end of the present order of things.) Many shall run to and from (by steam and electric power), and knowledge shall be increased (through compulsory education.) And then the wise (with heavenly wisdom) shall understand." (Da 12:4,9-10.) As a further illustration remember our Redeemer's words to the disciples when they asked at his first advent, "Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom of Israel?" he answered and said unto them, "It is not for you to know the times or seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power." (Ac 1:6,7.) "Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but my Father only." (Mt 24:36.)
There is nothing here to intimate that the Son would never know the time, nor that the angels in heaven would never know the time, nor that men would never know the time; but merely that the time for the knowledge was not yet due. It was still in the Father's hands, unrevealed even to the Son. Another illustration of this fact that there are great secrets connected with our subject—the Divine Program—is shown in the Book of Revelation. That Book itself is full of signs and symbols, evidently designed to barricade its mysteries from all except a certain class, the saints, and from them, also until the time was due for the secrets to be revealed. Note the words, "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear (understand) the words of this Prophecy." (Re 1:3.) The very reading of it will bring a blessing, and, as its mysteries gradually dissolve, the understanding thereof will bring still additional blessing. Note again in the introduction of the Book the statement of its mysterious and symbolic character. Its name, Revelation, signifies the uncovering, and implies something hidden. The opening sentence is, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him to show unto his servants, even the things which must shortly come to pass: and he sent and signified it (revealed it in symbolic form) by his messenger."—Re 1:1. We close this testimony respecting the mystery, the secret enshrouding the Divine purpose, with the account of Revelation, Fifth Chapter. Here a beautiful symbolism represents our Creator, Jehovah, upon his Throne of Glory, holding in his hand a scroll of manuscript, written within and on the outside, and sealed with seven seals. That scroll pictured the Divine Purpose respecting our race. Not a seal had yet been broken. This confirms our Redeemer's words that the Father had kept all things pertaining to his Divine Purpose in his own hands or power. Then we note the proclamation made throughout heaven: "Who is worthy to be granted the custody of the scroll, to open its seals, to know its mysteries, and to be entrusted with the honor of carrying them to completion?" A hush prevailed—silence in heaven! Apparently none was found worthy of so high an honor as to interpret and execute the Divine Purpose. The Revelator John says, "I wept much." He had great grief that the wise and gracious Program of the Almighty must remain sealed and unfulfilled, because no competent agent was to be found. But the scene changed. An angel touching the Revelator, said: "Weep not; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed to open the scroll, by loosing the seals thereof." St. John wiped his tears and looked again. A fresh symbolic picture met his eye. He beheld a lamb as it had been slain, to whom the scroll was entrusted, and he heard in symbol the united voice of the heavenly host declaring the Will of God, "Thou art worthy to take the scroll and to open the seals thereof." Here we see, then, that great and honorable as our Redeemer had been before he left the glory which he had with the Father before the world was, he had not then proven himself worthy of this great glory and service, represented by the giving to him of the scroll of the Divine Purpose, with authority and power to carry the same to completion. Nor did he reach this climax during his earthly ministry. It was after he had finished the Sacrifice, after he had died on Calvary as the Lamb of God, after he had ascended to heaven. Then he was highly exalted. In the Apostle's language, he was "Given a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things in earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord."—Php 2:9-11. Then all the heavenly host hailed him, as he was entrusted with the execution of the Divine Program, "Worthy the Lamb."
But he had not yet executed the Divine purpose, which was still immature, undeveloped. He had, however, begun the execution of it in the organization of his Church. At Pentecost he sent forth the begetting spirit, which since has represented him in the world, and through it he has begotten to newness of nature the faithful, consecrated believers throughout this Age. Soon this church, which is called the Mystery of God, shall have been finished—when the last member shall have been accepted, chiseled, polished and made ready for association with himself, as the Bride, the Lamb's Wife, and Joint-Heirs in the Kingdom, which Kingdom, by the grace of God, will bless all the families of the earth, by a release from the powers of Sin and Death, which now hold it in slavery.
I. The fact that there is a supreme, intelligent, wise, just, powerful and good Creator; and
II. That he had special reasons for keeping certain features of his program secret (a mystery) and in revealing some gradually to those in fellowship with himself, we now proceed.
III. To consider to what extent the Bible furnishes reasonable evidence that it is a Divine revelation worthy of acceptance by those who are capable of heart accord with their Creator and his great program of the ages. The Bible is the only book in the world which in a logical and rational manner sets forth the order of creation in respect to earth, and shows man as its Lord and ruler and his Divine authority over the "beasts of the field, the fowls of the air and the fish of the sea," giving a detailed account of the processes of the creative epochs. The Bible alone gives man a proper standing as the Son of God, made in the Divine image and likeness as respects mental and moral qualities. The Bible alone explains to us how and why sin and death prevail amongst mankind and not amongst the angels. We find ourselves "born in sin and shapen in iniquity," "prone to sin as the sparks fly upward;" yet the Bible only explains to us how and why this is our condition and how and when and what relief God has provided for our race. The Bible alone gives an orderly record of the first man and his descendants to the flood. The Bible alone gives an explanation why the flood came and what purposes it served in the Divine program. The Bible alone gives a record of the epoch immediately following the flood and carries a genealogical line from Adam to Noah, to Abraham, to the nation of Israel. It is true that other so-called sacred books do in some degree effect to give an account of creation, but the story they tell is so wildly absurd as to be unworthy of the slightest credence. The Chinese, for instance, relate that the elder God and his son in a skiff together grounded, and the son in shoving the boat free caught a handful of earth and shells which he moulded in his hands and tossed out upon the surface of the water, where it grew and grew until it became this earth. Who will compare such an absurd statement with the orderly and logical presentations of Genesis? We grant that the Genesis account is not as full and complete as we could have wished for, yet later on when we shall take up this subject of creation we shall find a perfect agreement between its brief, epitomized statements and the most accurate deductions of the most careful geologists of the Twentieth Century. In studying the Bible we should remember that it was written neither to the world nor for the world, nor yet concerning the world, except as the world is related to the Divine program. From the time of Abraham, the Divine program attached itself to him and his posterity, natural and spiritual Israel—proposing a blessing for Abraham and his seed and recovery from the sin and death conditions, and that these blessings through Abraham's seed shall in due course extend to and bless "all the families of the earth." Only from this standpoint can the Bible be rightly viewed or judged. While the Bible claims no Divine inspiration in respect to the history of affairs from creation to Moses, a Divine supervision of that history is unquestionably implied and is explained as proper, necessary, because of the relationship between God's dealing through Abraham and Moses under the Covenants and his previous dealings with the race, leading up to these Covenants and properly making them necessary to man's recovery from the dominion of sin and death. Divine interposition and revelation to Abraham is directly claimed and the ground therefore is explicitly stated—God's time had come for beginning the work of rescue for our race and Abraham's faith marked him as the appropriate one through whom the good tidings (Gospel) of Divine mercy should be made known, saying: "In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." That promise became the basis of hope, the magnet for faith and the inspiration for righteousness to all those who foreshadowed, typified the blessings to come through the Abrahamic Covenant.
The prophets merely foretold certain details connected with the fulfilling of that promise made to Abraham and his seed, and encouraged the favored nation to whom these promises were made to stand firmly for the Lord and continue to be his typical people. It is that Covenant that St. Paul referred to as the oath-bound Covenant, the Divine promise of a future blessing to mankind through Abraham's seed, firmly bound by the Divine oaths to the intent that all believers might have strong consolation in fleeing from sin, in resisting its allurements, in denying self, in taking up the cross, in seeking to be affiliated with God, and to be accounted worthy of association with the great Messiah promised—the seed of Abraham to bless the world. (Heb 6:10-14.) The Apostle assures us that by it the twelve tribes of Israel continually serving God were inspired and held in loyalty to him and separated from the nations surrounding them. "Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come." (Ac 26:7.) We are stating the matter simply, just as set forth in the Scriptures. It is for the Evolutionists and Higher Critics to explain away their difficulties. Ignoring the Bible account and claiming man's origin to have been primordial protoplasm, they trace his ascent by evolutionary processes to Adam, the first "monkey-man." The intelligence displayed by Moses and the Egyptians of his time they find it difficult to account for, and so in defense of their theory they surmise thousands or millions of years, regardless of the fact that in so long a period the world would be vastly over-populated. Moreover, they have another difficulty, inasmuch as the intelligence displayed by Moses and recorded in the Bible is far beyond the intelligence of the masses of today and even of broader basis than the most intelligent of today; so that in the most learned circles and in courts of justice the words and laws of Moses and Israel are cited as standards of wisdom and justice. Indeed, it is safe to say that the laws of the most civilized nations of the world today have either been constructed out of the so-called Laws of Moses or have been diligently compared and revised in the light thereof. Pause for a moment to consider some of the features of that Law. Notice that some of its accepted provisions have modified Latin laws, much to their advantage, and that other neglected features of the Mosaic Law are being cried for by Socialists today, and, not being forthcoming, in the estimation of many our present civilization is beset with danger from anarchy.
We refer, for instance, to the Law of Moses respecting debtors and creditors—that a debt could not extend beyond fifty years—that the fiftieth or Jubilee year wiped out every responsibility, personal and financial, and permitted each estate to come back to its original possessors, and each family to recover from its disasters and financial difficulties. It is the neglect of this very provision which has been recognized to some extent and been offset somewhat by the "Laws of Bankruptcy," which in the last few years have been adopted by all civilized nations—limiting the duration of the debt—hindering it from crushing out hope and ambition. Unlike all other Governments that instituted by Moses recognized God himself as the ruler, and the nation as his people. The "holy of holies" of their Tabernacle was the Divine meeting place, and around it circled in order the various tribes. The sentiment of personal responsibility to God was maintained in all of their laws, and the spirit of the Decalogue is today recognized as the very best statement of human obligation—" Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, mind, being, and strength, and thy neighbor as thyself." Thirty centuries have failed to improve upon this statement.
The Government instituted by Moses was in many respects a model of fairness and justice as between brethren, and even the rights of the stranger, the foreigner, were stipulated. Israel was in many respects a republic whose officers acted under the Divine Commission and law, and so continued for over four hundred years. Then at the request of the Elders it was changed to a monarchy by the Lord's permission, but without his approval. He said to Samuel who acted as a representative of the people: "Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me." Under Divine direction, the prophet explained to the people how their Divine rights and liberties would be disregarded by the kings and they would lose their liberty in a considerable measure by this change.—1Sa 8:6-22. Considering the anxiety of the people to have a king, how evidently Moses might have taken that position amongst them without the slightest opposition! The judges were representatives of the various families and tribes.
Respecting them, Moses declared "And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's."—De 1:16-17. The laws of the most civilized peoples of today do not more carefully provide that rich and poor shall stand on a level in accountability before the civil law. The Jubilee arrangement, as we have seen, is in this order; and all the laws were made public, thus establishing the poorest in a knowledge of his rights. Respecting the rights of the foreigner, for instance, we read, "Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the Lord your God." (Le 24:22.) "And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself."—Le 19:33,34. The laws protected the weak, the stranger, the servant.
For instance, "Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Ye shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; and my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless." (Ex 22:21-24; 23:9; Le 19:33,34.) "Thou shalt not oppress him that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren or the strangers that are in the land, within thy gates. At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it, for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it; lest he come against thee to the Lord and it be sin unto thee." "Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head and honor the face of the old man." (Le 19:13,14,32.) All of this, yet not one word of special honor for the priestly tribe.
Note again the equity: "If thou meet thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee, lying under his burden, wouldst thou forbear to help him? Thou shalt surely help him." (Ex 23:4-5.) Mark how dumb animals were not forgotten: the ox must not be muzzled while threshing the grain, because any laborer is worthy of his food. An ox and an ass must not be hitched together, because so unequal in strength and tread; it would be cruelty. Their rest was also provided for.—De 25:4; 22:10; Ex 23:12. A priestly tribe was indeed indicated, but so far from being selfishly put into power, the reverse was done, in that no political power was given to the priesthood. They were to teach the people and to minister holy things, but not to be their rulers. Moreover, they were cut off from an inheritance with the other tribes in the land and made dependent upon the voluntary offerings of their brethren. Nor was their position fortified by threats of present or future calamity. If they were negligent of their teachers, the simple exhortation was: "And the Levite that is within thy gates: thou shalt not forsake him: for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee." (De 14:27.) To say that this arrangement was selfish or that the scheme was concocted by "priests and knaves" is to declare one's ignorance of the institutions of Israel. On the contrary, if the Bible were more thoroughly studied there would be many to inquire with the celebrated attorney who made a study of the Jewish law: "Where did Moses get that Law?" The answer surely would be that it was not the product of a "monkey-man," and more, that it gave evidence of a Divine authorship as well as of a highly intelligent, humble, patriotic, noble instrument. We must leave for future consideration the typical features of Moses' Law, competent understanding of which serves an important place in the instruction of spiritual Israel concerning spiritual things. This the Apostle declares, saying that the "Law is a shadow of things to come," (Col 2:17), and that as cleansings were made with the blood of bulls and of goats, these prefigure antitypical cleansings through "better sacrifices."—Heb 9:23.
Who can reasonably or truthfully say that these laws and regulations were the work of crafty, designing men animated by selfish desires? And the same principle applies to the historical books and to the prophecies of the Scriptures. Everything tests the sincerity of the writers and their loyalty to God and men. The messages which they delivered often cost them popular disfavor and sometimes their lives.—Heb 11:30- 40. The very fact that the sins and weaknesses of prophets, kings and priests are laid bare in the Scriptures, yet without any apparent animosity or any desire to color or whiten them, indicates fairness and a loyalty to Truth beyond anything we are accustomed to today. Indeed, although many bad men of influence are criticized in the Scriptures, there is no evidence whatever of any endeavor to tamper with the records. Apparently the sacred writings held the reverence of the people to a remarkable degree. Much along the same line could be said for the New Testament writings. They are simply told. Unfavorable truths are not ignored. It is freely conceded that Jesus died between two thieves; that he was betrayed by one of his own disciples; that they all forsook him and fled; that one of them even denied him with cursing. The humble origin of the disciples is stated, yet without parade, and in narrative form it is innocently declared that even when the apostles Peter and John preached under the power of the Holy Spirit their learned hearers could "perceive that they were ignorant and unlearned men." (Ac 4:13.) What biographies or other writings of today display as much candor as we thus see at a glance as we open the Bible?.
The Bible Itself a Miracle.
When we consider the fact that the Bible is composed of sixty-six books written by thirty-eight different pens, during a long period of nearly two thousand years it is a miracle surely that these writers are in full accord, telling the one story. This cannot be accounted for except upon the lines which the Scriptures themselves lay down, namely: that these various writers were supernaturally guided in respect to their utterances. To get a view of how stupendous this miracle is, let us suggest that an equal amount of writing from any thirty-eight men living contemporaneously, members of one denomination, influenced by one general shade of thought, would be found widely conflicting and contradictory—even if they were the most learned men in the denomination and picked for the very purpose of this demonstration. Permit another suggestion along this line, namely: that amongst those who reverence the Bible as a Divine revelation, we find such dissimilarity of thought that it has developed hundreds of denominational creeds which contradict and oppose one another in a most violent manner, so that the peace-loving of today are constrained to avoid doctrines as much as possible in the interest of unity. More than this, what shall be thought of it if we find that all the creeds of Christendom not only antagonize each other and antagonize reason, but that they violently antagonize the Scriptures themselves?
What shall we say to it if we find the Scriptures alone harmonious with themselves and with reason? Will not this demonstrate that the Bible is the most wonderful Book in the world—assaulted both by friends and foes, it has withstood them all and still stands the great Divine monument and record of the purposes which God purposed in himself before the foundation of the world?
Harmony from Genesis to Revelation.
We hold and shall endeavor to make plain that the Bible is not, as is generally supposed, a collection of wise and unwise rules, regulations, statements, etc., but that it is a Divine record so arranged that when its various parts and their relationship to each other is discerned, it reveals the wonderful outlines of the Divine purpose.
Notice briefly what we will more particularly outline and develop later, namely: that from the opening statement to the closing one the theme is The Divine Program:
(2) The Fall;
(3) Suggestive promises, intimations and types of recovery for the fallen race through the mercy of the Creator.
(4) The development of the thought that sin is unholiness and that it must be abhorred and repelled and put away, in order to approach harmony with the Holy Creator.
(5) That this is not possible to us because of our inherited weaknesses.
(6) That God foresaw this and provided for it by sending his Son to be man's Redeemer and Reconciler.
(7) That since one sinner could not redeem another, the Redeemer must be "holy, harmless and separate from sinners," and that to this purpose Christ was peculiarly begotten by the transference of his life in a miraculous manner from the heavenly condition to the earthly.
(8) That he "died, the just for the unjust," that thus the sinner's penalty being paid, the sinner himself might ultimately go free.
(9) The necessity for co-operation on the part of the sinner, if any grace be accomplished in him and for him.
(10) The call of the Church class to be associated with the Redeemer in the sufferings of this present time, in self-denials and sacrifices in the interests of the Cause of Truth and righteousness.
(11) The incentive, the reward offered to such as will now emulate their Redeemer and thus become "copies of God's dear Son," and thus "make their calling and their election sure" to a joint-heirship with their Redeemer in his coming Kingdom.
(12) A trial and testing of the Church as to love and loyalty to the Lord and to the brethren and sympathetic love toward mankind in general, yea, even for their enemies.
(13) With the conclusion of this elective or selective purpose will.come the resurrection of the Church, their change from earthly to heavenly conditions, their entrance into the joys of their Lord, "changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye," to glory, honor and immortality.
(14) The work will end with the establishment of Messiah's Kingdom in which he and his faithful Bride, the "elect" Church, will supervise all the affairs
OV13 of earth to the intent that Satan will be bound and all evil influences will be restrained. The knowledge of the Truth will be widely proclaimed until every creature shall appreciate it fully. The stopple of death to those who then, during the Millennium, shall come into harmony with The Christ and be obedient to the laws of the Kingdom.
(15) Next in order will come the awakening of the thousands of millions who have died, the bringing forth of these, "every man in his own order," that they may be brought to a complete knowledge of the Truth, to a full opportunity of deciding for righteousness and its reward, eternal life; or contrariwise, the penalty of the Second Death.
(16) The full restitution of man to his original perfection and the bringing of earth to the glorious estate of Paradise restored will be the culmination of this Divine program, because by that time "every knee shall bow and every tongue confess" the Messiah, and only the wilfully disobedient will have been cut off, "destroyed from amongst the people."—Ac 3:23.
(17) Then, at the end of the Millennium, the perfected race will be turned over in its completeness and perfection to the Father, without any mediatorial interposition or covering of sin or weaknesses; then according to Re 20:7, the Father will permit a strong temptation to come upon the entire human family to prove the loyalty or disloyalty to God and to righteousness of these favored people for whom so much will then have been done through the operation of Divine Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power. The Book which thus teaches in contradiction to the various and varied traditions of men, which for centuries have surrounded it, is certainly worthy of universal acknowledgment and acceptation as the Divine Message respecting "The Divine Program."
THE WORD OF TRUTH
THE Word of Truth is like a stained-glass window rare, We stand outside and gaze, but see no beauty there, No fair design, naught but confusion we behold; 'Tis only from within the glory will unfold, And he who would drink in the rapture of the view Must climb the winding stair, the portal enter through.
The sacred door of Truth's cathedral is most low, And all who fain would enter there the knee must bow In deep humility. But once inside, the light Of day streams through and makes each color heavenly bright, The Master's great design we see, our hands we raise In reverent ecstasy of wonder, love and praise!.
They reason that if he were All-Powerful as they had supposed, he would never have permitted present conditions to come upon mankind. They reason that if he were All-Loving he would make an end of the present conditions of things one way or another. It may seem strange to many that our claim should be the very reverse of the foregoing, namely, that it is the very perfection of Divine Character that has made possible the present condition of affairs. It is because of the absolute perfection of our Creator that he permits evil in the world. Let us demonstrate this and show the philosophy of it. Granting an All-Wise Creator, just, loving and powerful, it is but reasonable to expect him to exercise his power, in harmony with his other attributes, not merely in the creation of inanimate things, but specially in the creation of beings of a highly intelligent order, and possessed of qualities and characteristics resembling his own. Such beings might properly be called "sons of God." The Scriptures declare to us several orders of these sons on various planes of existence. While revelation respecting the archangels, the cherubims and a lower order of angels is set before us in the Divine Word, comparatively little is told us respecting them and Divine dealings with them. However, a sufficiency has been told us, as we shall soon see, to enable us to comprehend the operation of the Divine attributes in dealing with these. The Scriptures inform us that man was made subsequently to the above-mentioned spiritual beings, and that, . because endowed with moral qualities and reasoning faculties, he also, in his perfection, was styled a "son of God," made in his image, although at the same time declared to have been "made a little lower than the angels."— Ps 8:5. Accepting the foregoing Scriptural statements, and giving them full weight, it will be admitted that for them to be in God's image and likeness would mean that they must have liberty to do right or to do wrong—they must be free moral agents. If their Creator is a free moral agent and they were created in His image and likeness, this would mean their liberty to obey or disobey the Divine command to follow righteousness or sin. As their Creator is influenced in his conduct by principles of righteousness, but is not bounden or restrained, so with these. Consequently there would always be a liability of their falling into error of judgment or personal ambition or other sin, and thus stepping out of accord with the Divine Government. This is exactly what has occurred. The Creator, by the exercise of his power, could have kept his creatures shielded from temptation and continually prompt in obedience and adoration; but to have thus limited their sphere of reasoning and liberty would have been contrary to his noble designs respecting them. Moreover, "the Father seeketh such to worship him as worship him in spirit and in truth." Those who would not serve him loyally, intelligently, gladly; those who would develop in any degree a spirit of opposition to the Divine standards, and a love for sin should be manifested, should be known, should be dealt with accordingly. On the contrary, those found loyal under every test should be the more highly appreciated and blessed in their association with their Creator in his great Divine Program of the Ages.
Satan the First Rebel.
According to the Scriptures, Satan was the first rebel against Divine authority. He is represented as being one of the highest order of the angels, a "covering cherub," glorious and beautiful. His name was Lucifer, which signifies bright morning star, and corroborates the thought that he was one of the chiefest of the angels, who are figuratively called stars or bright ones, as when we read, "The morning stars sang together." Satan's ambition, which led up to the change of his name, is expressed in the words, "I will ascend above the other stars (angels.) I will be as the Most High"—an emperor, a ruler, having separate jurisdiction from that of the Creator. Lucifer is represented as first of all entertaining a disloyal and ambitious design, which for considerable time lay dormant, merely as an ambition, until in Divine providence the time came which seemed to Satan to be opportune for the realization of this ambition. Then came the test and his fall. This was when our race was created, represented in our first parents. In their innocency and perfection, they enjoyed their Eden home, nor even thought of disobedience to their Heavenly Father. Satan beheld in them a new feature of Divine creation, such as had not been conferred previously upon any of the orders of angels, namely, the power of propagating their own species. In them he beheld the highest order of animal creature and animal powers, combined with the image of God, moral and intellectual. Here was the opportunity for the gratification of his long-cherished ambitions. If he could bring over to loyalty to himself the first human pair, he could doubtless establish such a control over them as would bring him his longed-for separate empire. The method of procedure was a simple one. He would persuade them that he was their friend and benefactor, and that their Creator was tyrannical and desirous of keeping them in ignorance. God had furnished the opportunity for such a suggestion by putting our first parents upon trial for life or for death, the conditions being obedience. One special kind of fruit tree in Eden was selected for the testing. They were forbidden to eat of it. Satan, "that old serpent," endeavored to show them that the fruit of that tree was the most desirable of any in the Garden to give wisdom, to make them as gods. He assured them that the Divine Word, "In the day thou eat thereof thou shalt surely die," was an untruth; that their Creator was a falsifier; that his motive was to deceive them, and that it was backed by an ignoble intention to hold them in slavery to himself—in ignorance. The sequel is briefly stated in the Divine record. Mother Eve believed the serpent and disbelieved the Creator. Thus she became a transgressor.
Father Adam, perceiving that his wife had come under condemnation, ate of the forbidden fruit, knowingly, willingly, that he might die with his beloved spouse, without whom life seemed not worth living. Thus the great catastrophe of Sin and Death was launched upon our race. We estimate, we believe reasonably, that twenty thousand millions of Adam's posterity since born have been overwhelmed by this catastrophe and have gone down in sin and degradation and in death to the tomb—the hell of the Bible—the sheol of the Old Testament, the hades of the New Testament.
The Intelligent and the Unintelligent Tested.
Behold the wisdom of God in the method here pursued: One of the most glorious of the angels, long-experienced in fellowship with the Creator, finds his testing, his opportunity for sin, and in connection with the newest of God's creatures. And the youngest of God's sons found his trial, his testing, his temptation, at the hands of one of the oldest and by nature one of the most glorious of his brethren. Note another difference. The one of long experience and transgressor against great light was merely ostracized as respects heavenly companionship, while the one of little experience was subjected to the full penalty of the Divine Law, "Dying thou shalt die," "The soul that sinneth it shall die."— Eze 18:4. Let us not hastily decide that our Creator was unjust in this arrangement, but rather with the poet say: "God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform; He plants his footsteps in the sea, And rides upon the storm.
"Blind unbelief is sure to err And scan his work in vain; God is his own interpreter, And he will make it plain."
The dying processes which from the time of disobedience took hold upon our race were not unjust. He who gave life originally had the full right to take it away when it was exercised in disobedience to the Divine command. Its infliction was in full conformity with the original declaration, "Thou shalt die." The dying began forthwith, and was consummated within the thousand-year day. "A day with the Lord is as a thousand years" ( 2Pe 3:8.) Since then the same penalty has continued with Adam's race. It has indeed been "a reign of Sin and Death"—and has had many sad features, even though entirely just. But our Creator informs us in the Scriptures that he purposes that all the present lessons given to our race respecting the exceeding sinfulness of sin "and the bitterness of its fruit shall ultimately prove valuable, assistful and educational to our race—before the Divine Program shall have finally ended. Meantime, in permitting Satan to seemingly thwart the Divine purpose in Eden and in permitting him still to live untrammeled, undying, the Creator gave opportunity to all the angels of Heaven to doubt the greatness of his power—to doubt his ability to cope with one of his highest creatures. We can imagine the wonderment of the angels and their queries respecting what their Creator would do with the arch-rebel who had thus defied him. Failure to visit condign punishment upon him could easily be misunderstood to signify weakness, deficiency of power, in the very place where omnipotence was supposed to reside—and really does reside.
The Angelic Hosts All Tested.
If only one of the angelic host failed along the lines of unbounded ambition, the Creator would extend a testing to all of the angelic hosts along various lines. Not that he would delight in the fall of any more, not that he would participate in tempting them, but he would permit such a reign of sin and such an apparent over-riding of Divine power as would encourage all of the angelic host who had the slightest tendency toward disloyalty to manifest themselves. Thus would the Lord test, prove, manifest, those who are in heart obedience of love and loyalty and those whose obedience is of fear or ignorance. The occasion of testing of the angels presented itself during a period of time in which they were permitted to have free intercourse with humanity, ostensibly with a view to helping them back again into full harmony and fellowship with God.
A part of their privilege was materialization, by which they were enabled to appear as men amongst men. The exercise of this power was fully set forth in the account of Genesis, Sixth Chapter. It is related that the special angel or messenger of the Lord and two others of the Heavenly messengers appeared to Abraham in broad daylight.
He knew them not from men. They ate with him and talked with him and subsequently revealed their identity, the two inferior angels (messengers) going down to Sodom for the deliverance of Lot. According to the Divine Plan and Word it was not possible for the angels to lift mankind out of sin and condemnation back to Divine fellowship. But if the opportunity had not been granted, the angels might have supposed to this day that the redemption which God purposes through Christ was not the only possible one, but that they, if permitted, might have accomplished wonderful results for mankind. God not only demonstrated that they were not competent to save mankind, but at the same time He brought a test upon the angels themselves, which at first they little suspected. As they beheld sin in humanity and realized something of the "pleasures of sin," the test came to them whether they would prefer the pleasures of sin for a season or would remain absolutely pure and loyal to God—whether they would retain their original state as angels, or, failing to appreciate this, would desire to live as men and to participate in human affairs and sinful propensities. A considerable number chose to "leave their own habitation"—the spiritual realm—and to live as mankind and with men. These were probably emboldened to this step by the example of Satan, whose disloyalty to the Divine will had not been punished with death nor with any diminution of his power. The suggestion was that there were limitations to Divine power which they had not at first suspected, and this belief made them free to exercise their own volition and to choose sin. It is in harmony with this that we read, "The sons of God (angels) saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose....There were giants in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God (angels) came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men, which were of old, men of renown." — Ge 6:2-4. This very plain record of the Old Testament is also substantiated by the inspired writers of the New Testament. Both St. Peter and St. Jude refer to the matter of those angels quitting their own habitation or plane of existence and preferring the lower human plane and its intercourse with humanity. Thus we read: "The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation (preferring the human), He hath reserved in everlasting chains of darkness, unto the judgment of the great day." (Jude 6.) "God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to Tartarus (our earth's atmosphere), and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment."— 2Pe 2:4
The Earth Filled with Violence.
The distinct intimation of Genesis is that the posterity of the angels amongst men possessed greater virility than Adam's race, which had been fallen through sin and its death penalty for fifteen centuries. Selfish ambition threatened to utterly destroy with violence the race of Adam and to leave the earth in full possession of Satan and the fallen angels and their human offspring. This would have been going too far—would have been frustrating the Divine Program. Every feature of it, however, was foreknown and had all been permitted to come to pass of angelic volition and human volition at the most appropriate time—at a time when the last of earth's Saturn-like rings was ripening for collapse, as a flood of water to destroy every living creature on the face of the earth, saving only Noah and his family, who were specially provided for and cared for in the ark. That flood of waters drowned the giant descendants of the angels and the members of the human family who had come under their influence willingly and unwillingly. The justice of the destruction, so far as the progeny of the angels is concerned, cannot be questioned. They were exercising life rights and privileges which the Almighty had never authorized nor countenanced. Consequently no provision would ever be made for them no redemption, no resurrection. As for those of Adam's race who perished in the flood, they were no worse off than if they had perished by some other means, famine or pestilence, or what is sometimes designated "natural death." Their lives were already under sentence of death. No injustice was done. We shall see, however, in due course that the Divine Program includes certain privileges and opportunities of blessings for those and for all of Adam's children involved in his condemnation to death and subsequently redeemed from the power of death by Jesus the Son of the Highest.
Noah Perfect in His Generation.
Noah as the son of Adam was partaker of his condemnation and inherited his weaknesses. Therefore he was not a perfect man, nor is such the intimation of the words used in describing him, namely, "Now Noah was perfect in his generation."
His generation or birth is the particular point in this observation. He and his family were not polluted, contaminated by the improper, angelic intercourse. Thus we have in few words the assurance that our entire race is of Adamic stock, and that we, therefore, were of those condemned in Adam, for whom provision was made for justification through the sacrifice of Christ. As for those angels who sinned, St. Peter declares that they were thereafter restrained of their liberties of materialization in chains of darkness—restrained from manifesting themselves to humanity in the light, in the open. We have reason, however, for believing that the mercy of God has not yet utterly forsaken those fallen angels. The basis of this thought is found in St.
Peter's words, to the effect that our Lord's death and his resurrection from death by the Father's power constituted a sermon to those fallen angels, demonstrating to them the power of God and his faithfulness to his obedient Son and his generous mercy to sinful humanity in the redemption thus accomplished. This sermon of Divine mercy coming to fallen angels would signify that there might be, eventually, mercy for them also. This thought was further supplemented by the Scriptural declaration, "Know ye not that the saints shall judge angels?" ( 1Co 6:3.) Since the holy angels will need no judging, disciplining or trial, it must be the fallen angels who are thus to be judged by God's saints in due time, and judgment or trial implies an opportunity for repentance and reconciliation to God. In view of this, we may reasonably assume that while all of those disobedient angels are restrained from liberties and separated from the holy angels, there are two classes of them—the one desirous of returning to harmony with God, the other delighting in sin and under the Prince of Demons, Satan, evil workers amongst men, operating through spirit mediums and obsessed persons and others less thoroughly given over to their control.
Walk by Faith, Not by Sight.
During the four thousand years since the deluge, this earth has been subject to what the Scriptures term "A Reign of Sin and Death." Humanity, struggling under these adverse conditions, has been subjected additionally to baneful influences from the fallen angels, so that the Apostle declares, "We wrestle not with flesh and blood (merely), but with wicked spirits in influential positions." ( Eph 6:12.) The degradation of man, originally made in the image of his Creator, has been dreadful in some quarters of the world, reducing him almost to the level of the brute. All this has certainly been a great trial of faith to the holy angels. Well might they inquire, "Why does the Almighty permit such conditions of imperfection to continue? What purpose has he in this permission of evil?" Meantime Satan has, through various agencies, sought to turn the hearts of men away from the Almighty, and from the revelation he has made of himself. These agencies have sought to represent him as base, vindictive, loveless, unjust and powerfully vicious. During this time God has, through the stammering lips of humanity and his prophets and evangels, proclaimed to the world a time of coming blessing through Messiah and a Messianic Kingdom. Nevertheless, all who so believed were required to "Walk by faith and not by sight." To outward appearances the Divine Program miscarried and Satan won the day. Only those who would exercise faith have been enabled to endure as seeing the invisible and believing in a grace not yet made manifest in full measure. Doubtless it was a trial to the holy angels and to the fallen ones, but specially to humanity.
Holy, Harmless, Undefiled.
More than four thousand years after the reign of Sin and Death began, God sent forth his Son to be man's Redeemer, to recover him from the fall. Yet here again the outward evidences seemed to believe the facts. The Son of the Highest, miraculously born, was thought to be illegitimate. Instead of appearing in regal, heavenly splendor, he appeared as "The man of sorrows and acquainted with grief," and died as a blasphemer and malefactor. Yea, and since then, those who have followed his footsteps most closely have corroborated his words that the friendship of God means the opposition of the world and the Adversary. What is the secret of Gospel Age, since Pentecost obscures Divine dealing? We reply that during this time the Creator has been selecting from amongst the redeemed sinners special classes to have association with himself and his Only-Begotten One in the work of blessing all the families of the earth. The Divine object in requiring all of these to walk by faith and not by sight is that thus he may find a select "Little flock" full of faith and zealous of good works.
The Grandeur of the Climax.
As the century plant develops very slowly its bloom, and then suddenly bursts forth most gorgeously, so, we hold, will the Divine Program ultimately show forth the Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power of the Creator. The poet caught this poetic thought and expressed it in the words:
"Deep in unfathomable mines Of never-failing skill, He treasures up his bright designs, And works his sovereign will.
"His purposes will ripen fast, Unfolding every hour; The bud may have a bitter taste, But sweet will be the flower."
By the permitted reign of Sin and Death, Divine Justice has been permitted to display itself in a manner which would not otherwise have been known to either angels or men, and in the Sacrifice of the Cross, Divine Love manifests itself to a degree never previously understood nor appreciated. When this age shall have accomplished its work of selecting an "elect" church, to be the Bride and Joint-Heir with Messiah in his Millennial Kingdom; when that Kingdom reign shall have brought blessings and glorious opportunities to all of the human race, and Divine Power shall have been manifested, even to the utmost limit of the Resurrection of the Dead, the Divine Purpose as a whole will be resplendent with the Wisdom of God.
In a word, then, evil has been permitted in order to manifest the Divine Attributes to obedient creatures and in order to test and prove the loyalty to God and the principles of his righteousness of both angels and men. The Grand Outcome will be satisfactory to all—that ultimately all not in heart harmony with God and his righteousness will be utterly destroyed, while all truly his will share his love and blessing eternally. Then every creature in heaven and earth and under the earth shall be heard praising him that sitteth on the throne, and the Lamb, forever.
We find the intelligence of the world hostile to the thought of redemption and specially hostile to the thought of redemption through the precious blood of Christ.
We believe that their hostility results from their having the wrong standpoint of view. Their opposition unconsciously perhaps associates itself with the erroneous thought that man was cursed to eternal torment on account of Adam's sin; and that redemption from the curse would signify God's purchase of a handful of mankind out of eternal torment. Human intelligence would assent to no such proposition of (1) injustice and cruelty, and (2) a commercial barter in the name of Justice and Love. But this is not the Bible presentation of redemption, and those who hold this view should lay it aside, should rid their minds of it, that they may approach the subject from the standpoint of God's Word and not from the standpoint of the superstitions and terrors of the dark ages.
Divine Justice Inexorable.
When we view our Creator as the Supreme Judge of the Universe and acknowledge him absolutely perfect in Justice, Wisdom, Love and Power, we can see that there could be no appeal from the decisions of this Supreme Court, and furthermore that this court could not reverse or set aside its own decisions. For instance, granted that the Divine Law is that no creature may have eternal life except upon the terms of absolute obedience to the Divine Law of righteousness; granted also the Scriptural proposition that Father Adam, under a fair trial in Eden, was disobedient and came under the sentence or curse, "Dying thou shalt die," it will be conceded that no relief could reach his case except through a Redeemer, a substitute. That is to say, man having lost his life rights and been sentenced to death justly, the Great Judge could not justly reverse that sentence. He could not declare his original sentence an unjust one. He could not declare Adam worthy of eternal life, nor could he excuse him and forgive him, and yet preserve the laws of the Divine Empire inviolate. For God to break his own laws and to cancel his own sentence, even once, would establish such a precedent as would mar our confidence in his unchangeableness. For instance, if God could lie, and, after having pronounced a death sentence were to revoke it and clear the guilty one, the changeableness thus manifested would call in question the Divine Wisdom which pronounced a sentence which it subsequently desired to cancel. It would call in question Divine Justice. For if it were right to sentence Adam to death, it would be wrong to cancel that sentence and to give him eternal life. The difficulty with us in reasoning on such a subject is, that we, yea, all mankind, acknowledge fallibility—liability to err; hence very properly we know very little or nothing of Justice in its last analysis, which would be fitting only to the Supreme Judge. For four thousand years God exhibited to mankind and to the angelic onlookers his unwavering Justice—in that he permitted the reign of sin and death to proceed uninterrupted and practically unchecked. Even the giving of the Law Covenant to the one nation of Israel worked no cessation of the sentence "Dying thou shalt die." Sin and death still reigned from Moses until Christ, and the nation of Israel under its Law learned still more thoroughly the lesson that fallen, depraved humanity could not keep God's perfect Law and hence could not, under the Divine arrangement, make any claim for life eternal. Then came the time for God to accomplish in another way the seemingly impossible thing of maintaining the dignity and Justice of his Supreme Court, and, at the same time, providing a way by which members of the condemned race might be released from the penalty of original sin.
An Eye for an Eye and a Tooth for a Tooth.
This line of strict Justice the Lord inculcated in his Law given to Israel to assist them in understanding the great principle of Justice underlying the Divine conduct.
The lines of the same Justice extended taught that a man's life is the penalty for a man's life. Thus our Lord prepared us to see how "he could be just, and yet be the Justifier of him that believeth in Jesus," and release such a believer from the death sentence which came upon all through Adam's sin. We do not claim that the method which God adopted for dealing with our race was the only one open to him, but we do claim that the fact that Divine Wisdom selected this method of dealing with Adam's race is an assurance that in some respects, at least, it is the wisest method, the best adapted to the Divine purpose of developing the race and testing its members and their worthiness for life eternal—and also the best method for exhibiting the various qualities of the Divine character to angels and man. Jesus was the world's Redeemer, and the entire process by which he accomplished that work is scripturally styled redemption. It includes the satisfaction of Divine Justice as respects original sin and the penalty imposed upon it. It includes also indirectly the Redeemer's work of lifting the redeemed out of their sin and death condition—up, up, up to all that was lost in Eden and to all that was purchased back for them at Calvary by the Redeemer's sacrifice of himself.
Holy, Harmless, Separate from Sinners.
The exactness and particularity of Divine Justice was exemplified in the fact that God could not and would not accept as a redeemer any member of Adam's race.
Even if one of them could have been found willing to sacrifice in behalf of the others he would have been rejected; because, as the Scriptures declare: "No man can redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him." ( Ps 49:7.) To human judgment this would have settled the entire matter and marked man's condition hopeless as respects redemption and a future life. But man's extremity became God's opportunity. What man could not do for himself God arranged for him—he provided a Redeemer, "The Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world," Jesus Christ the Righteous. But our sense of justice cries out that it would be wrong for the Creator to compel one of his creatures to die for another or others. God's Word sustains this thought and assures us that no such injustice was practiced; that while the Heavenly Father planned a work of redemption, our Lord Jesus was in no sense of the word forced or compelled to sacrifice himself to carry out the Divine Program.
There was another and a better way by which to reach the results desired. God could have created another man Adam, and could have allowed him to redeem the first Adam and then could have rewarded him with life on a higher plane of being. But what assurance would there have been that another newly created Adam would have done better than the first? The logic of the situation shows us that there would have been two races of sinners to deal with instead of one. But behold the Divine Wisdom which offered this service, for humanity to the noblest, the chiefest of all the Heavenly Court!—the Logos, the Beginning of the creation of God!—the Beginning of all creation!— Joh 1:1; Re 3:14. With the proposition properly went a promise of reward; and so we read that "for the joy that was set before him," our Lord Jesus endured the cross, ignored the shame and redeemed us by the sacrifice of himself; "wherefore God hath highly exalted him and given him a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue confess." Thus did God reward him who was already the beginning of the creation of God, the Logos, making him the Prime minister of the Celestial Empire, Associate in the Throne and Partaker of his own Divine, immortal nature. Our Lord says: "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne."— Re 3:31. Every step of the Divine Program is interesting and instructive. The offering of the opportunity to make the greatest sacrifice and to perform the greatest service was made to the chiefest of the heavenly hosts. Had he declined the privilege, the offer might have been tendered to a subordinate—to Gabriel or others of the heavenly host. Being accepted by the Logos, the proposition went no further. He delighted to do the will of the Father—even to humbling himself unto Death, the death of the cross.
Humbled Himself Even Unto Death.
The redemption was not accomplished by the Logos as a spirit being. It was not a spirit being who was to be redeemed, but an earthly being, Adam. Hence the first step of our Lord, the Logos, was the leaving of the riches of the heavenly condition and humbling himself, debasing himself to the lower plane or state of the human nature. But although that was a great stoop, it was not the sacrifice for sin. As the Scriptures declare, it was "the Man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."— 1Ti 2:6. Just how the spark of life was transferred from the heavenly one to the earthly one may be beyond our power to explain or even fully to comprehend, but, all the same, it is a part of the Divine Revelation and fully consistent with and necessary to the Divine Program. The Scriptures show that it was because this spark of life came to Jesus, not from an earthly father, not from human stock, but as a transferred life, that our Lord Jesus was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners." At another time we may indicate just how and why it was possible that he could be born perfect and yet have an imperfect mother. This is the Scriptural proposition, and can be shown to be in fullest harmony with the scientific laws governing progeny.
The Man Christ Jesus
In consistent harmony with every other feature of the Divine Program he was made flesh, "came into the world to save sinners" by the sacrifice of his life, "the Just for the unjust." He did not make that sacrifice until thirty years old, because it was not a child who had sinned and was to be redeemed, but a man. Promptly on attaining the age specified in the Law, Jesus consecrated his life, renouncing all except the divine promise of reward. He symbolized that consecration to death by baptism in water at the hands of John the Immerser. It was then that he received the anointing of the holy Spirit, which constituted him the Anointed One—the Christ—the Messiah. The same anointing constituted his begetting of the holy Spirit as a New Creature to the Divine nature. Thenceforth for three and a half years he was sacrificing his humanity, which was consecrated to death and reckoned as dead and was "dying daily," while his New Mind or Will, begotten of the holy Spirit, was developing day by day. The outward man was perishing, while the inward man (the spirit begotten new creature), was being renewed during the three and a half years of his ministry.
The end of the duality was reached at Calvary, when, as a man, he died once for all and forever. There the manhood which he consecrated and reckoned dead at Jordan became actually dead, and the New Creature, begotten of the holy Spirit and developed during his ministry, was "born from the dead" on the third day by resurrection power from on high. The work which the Father had given him to do had been performed, and he who had humbled himself to the human condition, "even unto death, even the death of the cross," was highly exalted and made partaker of the Divine Nature—glory, honor and immortality. He was put to death in the flesh; he was quickened in spirit; he was sown in death an animal body, and raised in resurrection a spirit body; sown in death, dishonored, numbered with the transgressors; raised in resurrection glory. We see that our Lord's glory of person was attained at resurrection, but his glory of office he has not yet fully assumed. He awaits the selection of the "elect" Church to be his Bride, his "joint-heir" and Associate in his throne in the Millennial Kingdom for the blessing of the world. It is written that he shall "see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied." He is not yet satisfied, however, nor will he be, thank God, until by his Millennial Kingdom reign he shall have triumphed over everything opposed to righteousness and shall have delivered from the power of sin and death so many of the human family as under full light and opportunity will be glad to obey him and experience his uplifting power in that glorious epoch of his reign. The Bible abounds with accounts of the wonderful blessings which will accompany his reign of righteousness, assuring us that the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth and reach every individual; that all the blind eyes shall be opened and all the deaf ears be unstopped; that the whole earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God; that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess, and that all who neglect to come into the fullest harmony will die the Second Death, from which there will be no recovery.— Ac 3:23.
Bought With a Price—A Ransom.
The Apostle writes, "Ye are not your own; ye are bought with a price." ( 1Co 6:19,20.) Listen to St. Paul again, "He gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." ( 1Ti 2:6.) There is one feature of the subject seen by remarkably few, even by few Christian Bible students; namely, how the one sacrifice of our Lord Jesus could redeem the world of mankind numbering thousands of millions. In their confusion some have suggested that our Lord suffered as much in connection with his earthly ministry as was due to all mankind as a penalty for sin. Some even go to greater absurdity in claiming that all the sufferings of the thousands of millions of Adam's race to all eternity in hell would have been less than our Lord's sufferings during his earthly life. We sympathize keenly with the poor souls whose minds can accept such nonsense. And we sympathize with intelligent worldly people who, disgusted with such nonsense, turn away from Christianity entirely. The Scriptural view of the matter is very simple and very reasonable. Its presentation is that Father Adam alone was placed on trial for life; that he alone failed: that he alone was sentenced to death, and that the payment of Adam's penalty to Justice would effect not only his release, but also that of all his children, who share in his condemnation—"born in sin and shapen in iniquity." Hence, how beautiful and simple is this Biblical philosophy!
How thoroughly it is confirmed by the Apostle's words, "By a man came death, by a man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as all in Adam die, even so all in Christ shall be made alive. But every man in his own order." ( 1Co 15:21-23.) Viewed from this standpoint, God's method in permitting sin to enter by the one man, and allowing his condemnation to pass upon the entire race, was in order that the sacrifice of one man, "holy, harmless and undefiled, separate from sinners," should fully satisfy the claims of Justice. What a masterpiece of economy, combined with Justice and Love, is thus brought to our attention! To catch the full force of the matter, we should see that if one hundred, instead of one, had been tried and failed and been condemned to death, Divine Justice must have required a hundred Saviors.
If a thousand had been tried and condemned a thousand Saviors would have been required. If a million had been tried and condemned, a million Saviors would have been requisite. Let us behold, then, the Wisdom of God in permitting the entire race to share the condemnation of their father, that they might also share in his redemption through the one Redeemer. No wonder the Apostle, noting these things, inquires, "Who hath been God's counsellor?" Who suggested to the Almighty such infinitely wise arrangements? We have discussed merely the broad, basic plan of redemption which will be available to all mankind through the Resurrection and the Millennial Kingdom; there is a still higher plane of redemption and a superior resurrection for the church, first. The glorious results at the consummation will be a world of humanity perfect in the Divine image and likeness, fully tried and tested and proven to be lovers of righteousness and haters of iniquity and worthy, under the Divine arrangement, to enjoy life eternal under most favorable conditions—the unwilling, recalcitrants, all being destroyed in the Second Death "like brute beasts."— 2Pe 2:12.
His Loving Kindness Toward Us.
Every feature of the Divine Plan is wonderful and gracious, but most wonderful of all is that of the Divine provision for the Church of this Gospel Age. St. Paul beautifully notes this, and declares ( Eph 2:6,7) that throughout ages to come God will show forth the exceeding riches of his grace and his loving kindness toward us who are in Christ Jesus—members of "the Body of Christ, which is the Church."
Here again the Divine character is shown by a procedure quite contrary to anything men could have expected, and yet superlatively grand in its merciful condescension and its strict justice. Those who now accept Christ as their Redeemer and Instructor, who turn their backs on sin and fully consecrate their lives, thoughts, words, deeds, to the Lord's service are accepted by the Lord as members of Christ, over whom he is the Head. This means that such as now willingly, gladly, joyfully take up their cross and follow after their Redeemer, suffering for righteousness' sake and laying down their lives in the service of Divine Truth and its servants, will be granted a share with the Redeemer in all his glories and honors of the Millennial Kingdom—and more than this, a share with him in the highest of all spirit natures—Divine nature.— 2Pe 1:4. It is this elevation of the Church that the Apostle designates "Our high calling of God in Christ," and exhorts us to attain to at any and every cost.
It is this great honor that our Lord compared to the pearl of great price—of great value, to obtain which one is well justified in selling all that he has that he may obtain it. Hence, also, the Scriptures represent that only through great tribulation shall the "little flock" enter the Kingdom—obtain this great prize. And our Lord declares, "Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way (which leads to this superlative life now offered), and few there be that find it." The redemption through the blood of Christ is general, for all the world. The salvation secured is alike to all—the privilege of return to human perfection and earthly inheritance, etc.
The advantage accruing to the Church of this Gospel Age is the privilege of sacrificing those earthly rights and blessings secured by Jesus' death—sacrificing them in the service of the Lord and thereupon in turn receiving heavenly blessings, spiritual life and glory.
IF WE ONLY UNDERSTOOD
COULD we draw aside the curtains That surround each other's lives, See the naked heart and spirit, Know what spur the action gives—Often we would find it better, Purer than we judge we would; We would love each other better If we only understood.
Could we judge all deeds by motives, See the good and bad within, Often we would love the sinner All the while we loathe the sin.
Could we know the powers working To o'erthrow integrity, We would judge each other's errors With more patient charity.
If we knew the cares and trials, Knew the efforts all in vain, And the bitter disappointments—Understood the loss and gain—Would the grim external roughness Seem, I wonder, just the same?
Would we help where now we hinder?
Would we pity where we blame?
Ah, we judge each other harshly, Knowing not life's hidden force; Knowing not the fount of action Is less turbid at its source.
Three Worlds and Three Dispensations.
The English reader is somewhat disadvantaged by the fact that in our common version the word "world" does duty for three distinctly Greek words. Thus, for instance, when our Lord mentions the end of the age or dispensation our common version Bible renders it "the end of the world." This, to the average reader, signifies a general collapse of the earth—its destruction, in fact, or, as a habitation for man. No such thought attaches to the Greek word, aeon, however. An aeon is an epoch or age.
The Lord declared that the present aeon or age would end, ushering in a new age or "world to come." As a matter of fact, three different worlds are brought to our attention in the Bible—and the Millennium will be in the beginning of the third. The Scriptural declaration is that "the earth abideth forever"—"seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, as long as the sun and moon endure."— Ec 1:4; Ge 8:22. These three "worlds" or three dispensations noted in the Bible are so distinctly different and so accurately described that none need mistake them. The first dispensation or world lasted from Eden to the flood. It was marked as the period of the administration of the angels, and in it, as we have already seen, some of them fell from their first estate of loyalty and obedience, further corrupting the world of mankind. Following the flood a new dispensation began, marked by the fact that the fallen angels no longer were permitted of the Lord full liberty of association with men. Man was permitted to have control of the earth, and Divine providence worked little interference except to prevent sin from going to such extremes as would have defeated the Divine plans to be developed later. This period from the flood to the Second Coming of Christ is Scripturally designated "this present evil world"—not because there has been nothing meritorious during its forty-four hundred years, but because God has permitted evil to dominate the earth during this period. As we have already seen, God is not the author of its confusion, sin and disorder, but he has permitted mankind liberty within certain bounds. He has permitted Satan to oppose righteousness and permitted humanity to become the slaves of sin and of Satan. Satan is Scripturally declared to be the "Prince of this world," who now operates in the hearts of the children of disobedience. We are not to understand, however, that Satan is exercising a Divinely delegated authority to rule mankind, but rather that he has usurped his position by taking advantage of humanity's ignorance, fallen tendencies and superstitions. Neither are we to think that humanity knowingly and intentionally serves "the Prince of this world." Rather, under his delusions they are deceived.
While thinking to please themselves, to serve their own best interests, to attain happiness, they are misled into sin and sorrow and death by paths of ignorance and superstition. What St. Paul calls "this present evil world," St. Peter denominates "the world that now is," and points us forward to the New World, the New Dispensation, in which righteousness will reign, and styles that dispensation "the world to come."
All three of these "worlds" or dispensations are connected with our planet, the earth.
Following this figure, the Apostle divides these "worlds" or dispensations into heaven and earth, by the heavens referring to the spirit beings and influences, and by the earth referring to humanity subjected to those spiritual influences. Thus in the "world" or dispensation which ended at the flood, the angels, fallen and unfallen, constituted the heavens and mankind the earth of that dispensation. During "this present evil world" from the flood to the Second Coming of Christ the heavens represent Satan, the "Prince of the power of the air," and religious systems amongst men, more or less corrupt and more or less representative of Satan and of his organization—or rather of human organization more or less under Satanic direction.
"The world to come" is likewise represented as having a heaven and earth classification. The heavens of that new dispensation will be the glorified Jesus and his Church, in the Millennial Kingdom. In the first "world" or dispensation the corruption of its heavens or angelic class brought degradation and disaster to the earth class, humanity. During this "present evil world" the power of Satan and the corrupting spiritual influences which he has been able to manipulate have hindered the blessing of mankind, notwithstanding God's favor given to Israel under the Law Covenant and his still greater blessings to Jew and Gentile through Christ. The next "world" or dispensation, to be ushered in at the Second Coming of Christ, is Scripturally styled "a new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." ( 2Pe 3:13.) That new heavens will be perfect, and consist of Christ and his "Elect" Church or "Bride" glorified—"called, chosen, faithful." ( Re 17:14.) That new earth will represent mankind under the new conditions of the New Covenant, sealed with the precious blood. Not only in the new heaven, but also in the new earth righteousness will prevail, even though in the latter it will require the thousand years of Christ's reign to fully conquer sin and death and to uplift humanity in general back into harmony with God.
In the Ages to Come.
St. Paul mentions "ages to come," though only one of these is specifically noted in the Scriptures—the Millennial age. The other ages beyond the Millennium will be beyond all the defilements and ensnarements and tribulations connected with sin; and are properly, therefore, styled by the poet, "Ages of glory." Looking back, however, we may discern clearly-marked ages or epochs, subdividing "this present evil world." First came the Patriarchal Age, in which God dealt with Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Then came another distinctly different epoch in which He no longer dealt with individual patriarchs, but adopted the entire nation of Israel as his peculiar people and dealt with them accordingly. He entered into the Law Covenant with them and provided them a typical mediator, typical underpriests and judges and prophets, so that, as the Apostle Paul declares, the nation of Israel had "much advantage every way, chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God." That Jewish Age had a distinct beginning in the death of Jacob, whose twelve sons were designated the heads of the twelve tribes constituting the one nation of Israel. That age had an ending just as distinctly marked by the death of Christ, as shown by Jesus' words, "Verily I say unto you, your house is left unto you desolate." ( Mt 23:38.) A third age followed, namely, the Gospel Age, which began at Pentecost and is to terminate at the second coming of Christ and to gather to himself the completed church, the Bride of the Lamb and joint-heir in the Millennial Kingdom. The present Gospel Age, which is to end with the establishment of the Kingdom, the Church in glory, is the particular and all-important age of "this present evil world." Neither of those preceding it brought any fruitage to full perfection. The patriarchs received a blessing, but could not enter into the Kingdom privileges. The nation of Israel had a blessing through the Law Covenant, yet its highest service was the making of types of glorious conditions to follow it, some of the antitypes belonging to this Gospel Age and some to the Millennium. It is the Apostle who declares of that Age that its Law Covenant "made nothing perfect." Nevertheless, the same Apostle points out in Hebrews 11 that all who were faithful to God from Enoch down to the close of the Jewish Age will receive a special blessing, in accord with their faith and zeal—even though they lived before the time of the calling and proving of the spiritual Seed of Abraham—the Gospel Church, of which Christ is the Head. ("And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's Seed, and heirs according to the promise." ( Ga 3:29.)
Of those faithful ones St. Paul declares, "And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise; God having provided some better things for us, that they without us should not be made perfect."— Heb 11:39,40. In a word, the Divine Program arranged that the world should be blessed by Messiah—through his death and subsequently through his Millennial Kingdom reign. But instead of counting the work finished when the Redeemer died, the Divine Program set apart the entire Gospel Age for the selection of the Bride of Christ, under another figure spoken of as the "members in particular of the Body of Christ." ( 1Co 12:27.) These are said to fill up the afflictions of Christ, to suffer with him, to be dead with him, and are correspondingly promised a share with him in his glory, honor and immortality.
This Age Parenthetic.
It may help some to grasp the situation if they will consider the Gospel Age from Pentecost to the Second Coming of Christ as parenthetic, and in their minds link together the Jewish and the Millennial Ages. The Jews, properly enough, were expecting Messiah to come to their nation, to establish them as his "peculiar people," to sanctify them and to use them in the spread of his dominion world-wide, according to the promise made to Abraham that in "his Seed all the families of the earth should be blessed." They were right in that expectation, and it will be fulfilled at the Second Coming of Christ. What they did not see and what God did not wish them to see, but kept a "mystery," is the fact that the Divine Program included a Christ of many members, Jesus the Redeemer being the head over all, "God blessed forever." ( Ro 9:5.) "This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the Church." ( Eph 5:32.) "Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints; to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." ( Col 1:26,27.) God will do no less for natural Israel than his original promise, for, as St. Paul declares, "The gifts and calling of God he will not repent of"—nor change from. The bringing in of the Bible hope of this Gospel Age, the selecting of a "little flock" for joint-heirship with the Redeemer on the spirit plane, was that much more than God had revealed to Israel through the Law and the prophets. Some of natural Israel profited by this—all those who, at the beginning of the Gospel Age, were in the right attitude of heart, "Israelites indeed in whom was no guile." Such were received to membership in spiritual Israel at Pentecost.
And then to filling up of the remainder of the predestinated number of the "elect," from among the Gentiles began; and this age has been devoted to the gathering of these "members" of the Christ, the Messiah, out of every land, people, kindred and tongue.
The Law Covenant—Old and New.
Continue the thought of this Gospel Age being parenthetic as respects the outward features of the Divine Program. Note the fact that the Law Covenant given to the Jews failed to secure for them eternal life—because they could not keep so high a Law, a Law which commanded love for God with all the heart, mind, soul and strength and love for one's neighbor as for himself. Moses, the Mediator of that Law Covenant, was unable to make up for the deficiencies of the people and hence eternal life was not secured under the Law Covenant. However, through the Prophet Jeremiah ( Jer 31:31) God sent to Israel a message of his love and assured them of a future relief under a New Covenant which, in some respects, would be better than the one they had. He said, "The days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; not according to the Covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand, to bring them out of the land of Egypt (the Law Covenant); which my Covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord."— Jer 31:31,32.
Christ and his Bride, his members, Spiritual Israel, surrender their earthly life rights and earthly inheritance in favor of Natural Israel, and thus are said to mediate and ultimately to seal for Israel a New Law Covenant, which will be far better than the old one. Not, however, that the Law of God will change in any respect; for God could not give an easier Law than the one given to Israel; he could not give an imperfect Law; he could not properly require less than love and obedience with all the heart. Wherein, then, will a New Law Covenant be better for Israel than the old one? We answer, It will be better in that it will have a "better mediator"—a more capable one. Jesus is the Mediator of the New Covenant; and all those called of God and accepted as his "members" during this Gospel Age will be members of the Mediator. To this Mediator, by reason of the merit of the Head and his sacrifice, God has granted "all power," so that he is able from the plenitude of his grace to make up for the unwilling, the unintentional, blemishes of the nation for which he will serve as Mediator during the thousand years of his Millennial reign. It is on the strength of this merit of the Mediator that all of Israel's sins and iniquities of the past will be forgotten and remembered no more. Moreover that Great Mediator will have full responsibility in the premises in dealing with all who shall accept that Covenant, because the virtue, the merit of Christ's sacrifice, is sufficient to meet, to cover, to cancel the sins of the whole world—all that are not willful and deliberate sins. Israel will thus become God's people, and all gentiles will be privileged to join them by "circumcision of the heart." Thus, ultimately, besides spiritual Israel there will be Natural Israel, which will include the willing and obedient of every nation and tongue as it is written, "I have constituted thee a father of many nations." During the Millennium, therefore, Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant, and "the church his Body," will not only apply the merits of his sacrifice in offset of Adamic sin and weaknesses, but will also have the right, power and authority to chastise for every misconduct and to reward every good endeavor, to the intent that under that New Covenant all Israel may have the opportunity of rising from the dead—rising from the condition of sin and death up to the full perfection of human nature and a perfect environment. As for the others not rightly exercised by these favorable providences St. Peter declares that they "Shall be utterly destroyed from among the people."— Ac 3:23.
From Amongst Your Brethren.
St. Peter explains the nature of the selection of the members of the Mediator, saying, "A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you from amongst your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear (obey) in all things, whatsoever he shall say unto you. (To that Prophet every knee must bow and every tongue confess.) And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people"—in the Second Death.— Ac 3:22,23. Notice that the Prophet was to be raised up from amongst the brethren. In fulfillment of this our Lord Jesus was called and accepted and begotten of the holy Spirit, and finally, in his resurrection, became the Firstborn from the dead, the Firstborn of many brethren. Meantime, since Pentecost the other members under that glorious Head have been in process of raising up—out of sin, out of death, out of the world, out of human nature, to glory, honor, and immortality.
And these have the promise that in the First Resurrection their raising up will be completed—they shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. The raising up and the changing begin with the present life. As the Apostle declares, "We are risen with him." And again, We are being changed from glory to glory as by the Spirit of the Lord. But still we wait for the grand climacteric change to Resurrection glory, honor and immortality. In view of the foregoing all will readily discern the value of order in the study of the Bible—the value of noting its dispensational features, the object served by the various "worlds" or dispensations and their various ages or epochs. The Bible, studied in the light of the Plan of the Ages, becomes a new Book. Its various statements, prophetic and otherwise, quietly drop into their proper places, so that the study of the Word becomes both interesting and profitable, as thousands are continually testifying—many of them rescued from agnosticism.
THE COMING STORM
O SAD is my heart for the storm that is coming; Like eagles the scud sweepeth in from the sea; The gull seeketh shelter, the pine trees are sighing, And all giveth note of the tempest to be.
A spell hath been whispered from cave and from ocean, The shepherds are sleeping, the sentinels dumb, The flocks are all scattered on moorland and mountain, And no one believes that the Master is come.
He's come, but whom doth He find their watch keeping?
O where—in His presence—is faith the world o'er?
The rich, every sense in soft luxury steeping; The poor, scarce repelling the wolf from the door.
The Erroneous View Criticized.
By way of emphasizing what the Bible does not teach, let us briefly review the rapidly-fading error on the subject of Predestination and election; errors which, perhaps, did more than almost any others to turn men away from God and from the Bible. Let it be understood that we are not criticizing men, but doctrines. While criticizing the doctrines of Brother Calvin, we are glad to admit that he had many noble qualities of heart and head, and that, in some respects, his teaching has exercised a powerful influence in the world for good. Undoubtedly his views of the sovereignty of God—his justice and his power—exercised a marked influence upon Christian sentiment along this line, leading to a greater reverence for Divine power, though we fear that it did not do much to cultivate love for God. From the Calvinistic standpoint, the Almighty, perfect in wisdom and power, mapped out in advance an unalterable program represented by the words Divine Predestination.
According to this theory, everything, both good and bad, was foreordained and in its execution unavoidable. This doctrine, applied to humanity, declares that the Supreme Creator had from the beginning designed, predestinated, that a little handful, a saintly few, should constitute his elect, his favorites and be granted glorious things in heaven. The catechism was careful to mark out that this favoritism on God's part was "not for any works or worthiness of ours, but of his own sovereign will." Giving these words their full weight would signify that if the sovereign will had exercised itself with similar benevolence towards the non-elect, they, too, would have shared the heavenly blessings. And since the Divine favor was not assumed to be connected with work or worthiness on our part it follows that the lack of works and the lack of worthiness, on the part of the non-elect, need not have debarred them from the chiefest of Divine favors had Divine benevolence willed favorably toward them. As for the fate of the non-elect, their case was treated with the greatest delicacy possible to the situation by the pen of an able man. We were quietly informed that "God passed them by." The doctrine of total depravity lay at the bottom of this theory. It was claimed that Father Adam's transgression of the Divine Law merited eternal torment as the portion of Justice for himself and every child of his that should ever be born. We were told that this was a just penalty, and that God through Christ merely released the elect as an exhibition of his love and grace—passing the others by—not electing to save them from torment.
And the doctrine of predestination attached to the doctrine of election by way of showing that God's elective preferences for those whom he would favor were determined long in advance of their birth, and that with equal deliberation he had foreordained that no help, no adequate relief, should be granted to the non-elect; they should be thoroughly passed by, and allowed to go to the doom to which they were sentenced—eternal torment. And that doom and the numbers of the non-elect were fully known to God in advance and approved as his unalterable will, his supreme good pleasure.
Wesley's Heart Rebelled.
John Wesley was reared under the influence of the above teachings, but, as a minister of the Episcopal Church, he felt that he could not so preach. His head declined to recognize such a course as loving even if it were just, and his heart wholly repudiated the thought that the Divine character and program could be after that manner. In his own largeness of heart Brother Wesley promulgated an opposite theory, namely, that since God is Love he must be doing all in his power to save our race from eternal torment. Brother Wesley urged that the millions who would reach eternal torment would get there on their own responsibility and in spite of God's best efforts to keep them out of it. Noble soul that he was, he braved persecution in his day in his attempt to tell of his love of God and to urge sinners not to consider themselves non-elect and doomed to eternal torture, but to hearken to the voice of Divine mercy and to turn to the Lord with their whole heart and be abundantly pardoned. Wesley's heart-teaching triumphed over Calvin's logic. Not only has it resulted in the formation of the enormous bodies of Christians called Methodists, but far more than this, it has transformed the views of the Christian world of all denominations so that today, regardless of the denominational vows, the membership of practically every institution of Christendom holds to Wesley's views.
Both Right and Both Wrong.
Having commended both Calvin and Wesley as children of God, and many of the followers of their teachings as saints, it might seem to some temerity on our part to offer criticism of either, and particularly of both. We are encouraged to do this, however, from two reasons:
1. We wish to show that in some respects both of these doctrines are right and scriptural, and in other respects wrong and unscriptural.
2. We are further encouraged to do this by the fact that denominationally these opposing doctrines are about evenly represented in the world, and all will admit that they cannot both be right while contradicting each other. 3. If we shall succeed in demonstrating that these two opposing systems can be harmonized and that elements of both can be shown to be Scriptural and to harmonize with each other, then we believe that the advocates of both schools of thought would have reason to thank us for the service, and thousands who, through the conflict of these doctrines, have lost their faith in the Bible as the Word of God, may be rescued from unbelief.
Reject the Errors First.
Before coming to the subject from the Scriptural standpoint, we must tear away some of the sophistries and errors connected with these popular doctrines and must see them in their true light, in order that we may properly appreciate the teachings of the Scriptures on the subject. First, then, let us note the strong points of Calvinism which must stand, which can never be repudiated by God's children with impunity—Divine Sovereignty, Foreknowledge, Purpose, Intention, Justice, and Power. "Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." ( Ac 15:18.) Note his own declaration through the Prophet, "So shall my Word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void; but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the things whereto I sent it."— Isa 55:11. We must agree with Calvinism in the Divine foreknowledge of whatsoever comes to pass; and, more than this, that nothing could come to pass contrary to the Divine permission, although many things do come to pass, contrary to the Divine Law—being permitted for wise purposes. But while agreeing with Brother Calvin respecting these strong points of the Divine character, we must agree with Brother Wesley that love is not only an element of the Divine Character, but is, with justice, a dominating element in the Divine Program. We must agree with Brother Wesley that neither human justice nor human love could predestinate the doom of eternal torment for a majority of our race—nor for a single member of it. We must agree with Wesley that the Divine Program is that, eventually, God's grace of forgiveness for sin must be free grace, and must extend to every member of our race. If our standpoint of the freeness of this grace is broader than that of Brother Wesley, it may not signify that our hearts are broader than his, but that the due time has come for the lifting of the vail of ignorance and superstition and the permitting of the eyes of our understanding to see more clearly "with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of "Love Divine, all love excelling," "and to know the love of Christ, which passeth all knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."— Eph 3:18,19. Having shown that Brother Calvin's view recognized God as dignified and omnipotent, but deficient in love, it is appropriate that we show that Brother Wesley, while recognizing a God of Divine love theoretically, implied his deficiency in wisdom and foreknowledge. Brother Wesley admitted with Brother Calvin that only the handful of the saintly believers would enter heaven, and he admitted with him also that all the remainder would go to an eternity of torture. The difference between the two theories, therefore, had no practical bearing upon the sufferings of the lost, but merely upon the Divine character, and provision in connection with the suffering. Calvin taught that God willed it so. Wesley disputed this. Evidently "the God of all grace" would need to embody in himself not only the loving qualities of Wesley's ideal, but also the dignity, wisdom and power of Calvin's ideal—between the two we would find the God of the Bible and the God of whom our reasons could approve. Fully balanced, fully co-ordinated, God's Justice, Love, Wisdom and Power, should be displayed in his dealings with humanity. What would it profit us to have the loving God of Wesley's teachings, who desired all sorts of good things for his creatures, if, with that love, he lacked the wisdom to direct a favorable plan or lacked the power to execute the favorable plan approved by his Wisdom and his Love? Let us rest assured that the God revealed in the Bible is perfect in all of his attributes. His Foreknowledge, looking down the avenues of time, would have foreseen every incident connected with the interests of his creatures. And had that Foreknowledge perceived that Divine Justice could not grant to the creature eternal life in bliss, but must perpetuate the existence in eternal suffering, then Divine Wisdom and Love would surely have determined that Divine Power should not be exercised for the creation of that being; and Divine Justice would surely have decreed that no being should be created whom Divine Wisdom foresaw must spend an eternity of misery.
Specious Arguments Rejected.
We are not ignorant of the specious arguments advanced by Brother Wesley and his coadjutors:
1. That God could create a human soul, but could not destroy one. Absurd! Unscriptural! We answer, Is it not written "All the wicked will be destroyed?" ( Ps 145:20.) And again, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die" ( Eze 18:4); "Fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna" ( Mt 10:28); "The wages of sin is death."— Ro 6:23.
2. The specious argument that God has left the destinies of the heathen in our hands and has determined that, dying at the rate of ninety-five millions a day, they should be sent to eternal torment if Christian people do not send them word respecting Christ and his redemptive work. How absurd! Is it any wonder that infidelity laughs to scorn so abominable a misrepresentation of Divine Justice and Love? Surely the Heavenly Father's character has been grossly traduced by his own family, his own children! Our hearts and our heads cry out for the living and true God of the Bible, who knew what he was doing when he undertook the creation of our race—a God not only benevolent in his designs, but thoroughly wise, capable and powerful for the carrying out of all his intentions. In the Bible, and in it alone, we find portrayed a God of this character, with a Plan of this caliber.
Election and Free Grace.
Briefly stated, the Scriptures teach an election in the present age of the "Church of the Firstborns, whose names are written in heaven," but it does not teach that the non-elect are doomed to eternal torment. It does teach that the dead are really dead, but not hopelessly dead, not dead as the brute beasts. It teaches that the sentence of death came upon our entire race, and has resulted in our mental, moral and physical blemish and decay. It teaches that the death sentence upon us as a race would have been an eternal one, had it not been for God's mercy expressed through Jesus and the work he has accomplished and will yet accomplish for our race. It teaches that the hope of our race is a resurrection from the dead, and a release from the domination of imperfection and sin. The Bible does not teach that Free Grace has yet reached mankind, but, on the contrary, that an elective process is now in operation, and that in due time, after the election shall have accomplished its selection of the Bride of Christ, then Free Grace will obtain throughout the whole earth and every creature will be brought to a knowledge of the Lord—"all the blind eyes shall be opened, all the deaf ears shall be unstopped." That time of Free Grace will be the Millennial Age; and throughout that Age the Church of Christ, now being elected, will be joint-heirs with Jesus in his Kingdom and its glorious work for human uplifting from sin and death conditions. Thus "the elect" of this present time will ultimately be used of the Lord as his "Royal Priesthood" under Christ Jesus their Head, their Chief Priest, in blessing of all the families of the earth with the fullest and most absolute opportunity of attaining restitution to human perfection and life eternal—or, rejecting this favor, to die the Second Death, to be as though they had never been. We are asked, Do not the Scriptural statements which teach that there will be an "elect" Church, thereby imply that the masses of mankind are non-elect? and if non-elect surely they cannot go to the same happy abode with the elect, but must be remanded to eternal torture! How strange that these evil surmisings respecting the character and Program of the Heavenly Father should so persist in our minds! Do we reason so falsely on other subjects? The civilized world in our day is accustomed to this word election. We elect Legislatures and Congresses. The number chosen to these offices is small indeed in comparison to the populace. Thus continually we have before our mind's eye an elect little company and the non-elect multitudes—millions. Do we reason that those not elected to the Legislature or to Congress, by reason of their non-election, must surely suffer some kind of torment? And is it not equally preposterous to reason after this fashion in respect to the elect and non-elect of the Scriptures? On the contrary, as legislators and judges are chosen from amongst the people because of their supposed suitability for special work and as they are ordained in office for the purpose of conserving the interests of the non-elect, so let us see the election so prominent in the Divine Program. The Church is being elected to membership in the Body of Christ—in the Spiritual Seed of Abraham. And the Divine declaration is that in this Seed of Abraham, this elect Church, all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Surely this is the only reasonable and sane view of this question, the only Scriptural view, the only view which enables us to appreciate the character and the Program of our God in dealing with Adam and his race.— Ga 3:29.
Foreknowledge and Predestination.
Has God predestined or determined in advance just which individuals shall be blessed with the opportunities of the High Calling of this Gospel Age to joint heirship with Christ? and, correspondingly, has he predestined which members of our race may have the Restitution blessings of the next Age? and which shall be esteemed unworthy of eternal life on any plane and be remanded to death—the "Second Death;" eternal destruction? We reply that nothing in the Scriptures can possibly be construed to favor the view suggested. The predestinations of the Bible are of a Divine character. The Creator foreknew man's fall into sin and its death penalty, and his own plan for redeeming and restoring the race. He fore-knew that he would tender the privilege of being the Redeemer, first to his only begotten Son. But the matter was open to the volition of the Logos. It was not compulsory, but optional with him. Likewise, our Creator foreordained or predestinated that an opportunity would be granted to some of the race to become joint-heirs with the Redeemer in his Kingdom and nature—such a class was predestinated, foreordained, but no suggestion was offered as to the individuals to compose that foreordained class. On the contrary, the statement is definitely made, that in harmony with the Divine Program many should be called to this high position in comparison to the few that would be chosen. And the conditions upon which any of the called ones would be chosen are clearly set forth in the Scriptures; and those favored with the call are specially exhorted to consider the matter as wholly dependent upon their own faithfulness, because "Faithful is he that calleth you, who will also do"—all that he has promised; hence it remains with the called ones to "make their calling and election sure."— 1Th 5:24. St. Paul sets forth this matter of predestination in most explicit language, and distinctly points out that Divine predestination does not apply to the individual, but to the class and to the characteristics of all who will belong to that class. He predestinated that none could come into harmony with him or be eligible to this class unless first they believed in Christ as their Redeemer, turning from sin—unless first they were justified through faith in the precious blood. Next they must consecrate, taking upon themselves holy vows of devotion to the Lord, his Truth and his service—even unto death. Not only so, but to the best of their ability those consecration vows must be kept, must be lived day by day to the end of their period of trial and testing. Meantime, begotten of the holy Spirit, these favored ones must cultivate the fruits and the graces of the Spirit and become at heart copies of God's dear Son, however blemish and imperfection may affect some of their outward conduct and words. This is God's predestination; says the Apostle, "Whom he did foreknow (the elect Church), he also did predestinate (predetermine) to be conformed to the image of his Son." ( Ro 8:29.)
Whoever of the "called" ones fails to attain the character likeness of Christ fails to make his calling and election sure, and will be rejected from membership in the same, because God has predestined that none shall be of that glorious elect company except such as, by his assisting grace in Christ, shall attain to the glorious character likeness of the Redeemer. We hold that from this stand-point, the doctrine of God's elections and fore-ordinations in respect to the Church and those who shall become members thereof is a glorious one, and one well calculated to develop Christian character, to enthuse with apostolic zeal the called ones. And as to the Free Grace of the Divine Plan surely it is a most glorious provision from this standpoint—promising blessed opportunities to every member of the race. As it is written, Christ, "the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world."— Joh 1:9. A beautiful symbolic picture of the Millennial Age and the blessings extending to all mankind under Israel's New Covenant, is set before us in the Book of Revelation. First the "elect" Church is pictured as "the New Jerusalem adorned as a Bride for her husband" descending from heaven to earth, establishing the Divine rule amongst men. Then follows a further symbolization: "a river of the Water of Life, clear as crystal," is represented as "proceeding forth from the throne" of the New Jerusalem, flowing out to bless all the nations of the world. The result is Paradise with trees of life by both sides of the River and "the leaves of the trees for the healing of the heathen." Then we read the message of Free Grace, so attractive to Brother Wesley and to us all—"And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come; and whosoever will, let him come and take of the Water of Life freely."— Re 22:17.
ONE HERE, ONE THERE
OF all we meet in life's great stream, There's but one here and there Who treasures most the better things; Each man to self most tightly clings, For self he toils, for self he sings, Except one here, one there.
The world would be a desolate place, But for one here and there, Whose heart with self hath not been filled, Whose love for God hath not been killed, Whose thankful praise hath not been stilled; There's one such here and there.
And this hath been the Lord's wise will, To find one here, one there, Who counting earthly gain but dross, Would daily take the Christian's cross, E'en at the risk of any loss:—God finds one here and there.
'Tis not the numbers that He seeks, But just one here, one there; He seeks not souls, but jewels fair, For those who will His suff'ring share, And for His sake reproaches bear; They're few; one here, one there!
We are glad of this, and purpose now to examine our subject in the light of the Scriptures and with the spirit of a sound mind, divesting ourselves, so far as possible, of the "fear which bringeth a snare." The Day of Judgment, or, as it once was called, Doomsday, had an awful significance to our forefathers. To them it brought pictures of Christ upon his throne of judgment surrounded by myriads of holy angels intent upon executing his decrees, good or bad, and to the vast majority of those decrees were supposed to mean eternal torment. A once famous preacher of this famous city of churches pictured the Judgment scene most grotesquely as represented in the public prints of about thirty years ago. He pictured the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus in his power and great glory, seated upon a cloud in mid-heaven, surrounded by angelic hosts. Before him appeared the world of mankind, brought back from heaven and hell and the dust of the earth. In grandiloquent language he pictured the earth turning upon its axis during a period of twenty-four hours, so that the entire worldful of people could see the Judge on his cloud-throne. The Judgment picture was a mere farce, for the Judge merely said to those who had come from heaven, Go back. Resume your crowns and harps. And he said to those who had come from hell, Go back to your eternal torment. This and other very similar misrepresentations of the Day of Judgment have so repulsed the intelligence of many as to turn their minds away from the Bible toward Agnosticism. It is our purpose on this occasion to, if possible, set forth the Bible presentation of Divine Truth on the subject of God's Judgments so clearly, so self-evidently, that none possessed of a sound balance of mind could possibly object thereto.
A Judgment Day in Eden.
A totally wrong thought seems to have gotten possession of all of our minds in respect to the meaning of the Day of Judgment. It is generally understood to signify a day of condemnation. However, the expression in the Scriptures really signifies a day of crisis, a time of decision, a period of trial; —not a day of inflicting punishments for crimes previously adjudicated. The Greek word crisis translated judgment has been so frequently used in our English language that it has become an English word as well. Hence its meaning, the same in the Greek as in the English, is well known to us all. For instance, if in our home we have a patient who has taken the fever and a doctor calls, we may inquire how soon recovery may be expected. The doctor asks the date the fever began, and answers that its crisis will come on the seventh, fourteenth, twenty-first, twenty-eighth, or some other day a multiple of the seventh day from its commencement. His meaning is, that then the testing will come, the trial, the determination whether the person will sink into death or recover from the fever. This gives us the proper thought connected with this word crisis or judgment; the proper thought, therefore, connected with the expression, Day of Judgment. For instance, there was such a Day of Judgment in Eden when God forbade our first parents to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. At that moment their testing, their trial, their judgment, began—to demonstrate their obedience or disobedience, and thus in turn to determine their worthiness or unworthiness of life eternal. In that Judgment Day, as we have already seen, our first parents were disobedient and a death condemnation came upon them, which has been inherited by all of their children in a natural way. Partaking of their flesh and blood, we partook also of their weaknesses, mental, moral and physical; hence we are a dying race—dying because our first parents failed in the first Day of Judgment or trial.
The Jewish Judgment Day.
While God foreknew that the Law Covenant made with the nation of Israel through Moses would not effect a deliverance of the nation from the effects of original sin, he nevertheless, for good reasons, gave that nation a trial or judgment or testing under the provisions of that Law Covenant. It was a life or death agreement. Any who could keep the requirements of that Law Covenant might under it claim eternal life. Whoever failed of keeping the requirements of that Law Covenant would die.
This trial or test came upon that nation at the time of its deliverance from Egypt, when they passed through the Red Sea and were baptized into Moses in the sea and in the cloud—the sea on the one hand and the cloud overhead. They were baptized or buried into Moses. For nearly fifteen centuries that nation was on trial or judgment, yet the results of the judgment were not decreed until our Lord's Second Advent, when he was declared of the Father to be the One, and the only One born under the Law Covenant who inherited its blessings of eternal life by absolute obedience to its every requirement. Not only so, but the remainder of that nation were all adjudged unworthy of any further trial, as our Lord himself expressed the sentiment, saying: "Your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord—at his Second Advent.— Mt 23:38,39. The Apostle Paul, reviewing the results of those fifteen centuries of their judgment or trial, tells us that the Law Covenant made nothing perfect; that it merely showed to be perfect the Perfect One who had left the heavenly Courts and become a man, in order to redeem Adam and his race. St. Paul, however, shows us also that, throughout that Jewish Age of trial some were found possessed of faith far beyond their fellows. He enumerates many of these, and then calls attention to the fact that they died without having received the things promised to them, but that they did receive Divine approval in that the Lord declared that they pleased him—not by perfection of works and obedience to the Law Covenant, but that he was pleased with their faith: they demonstrated that if they had been free from the blemishes of the fallen condition, blessed with perfect bodies and minds, they would have delighted to have kept the Law perfectly.
Spiritual Israel's Judgment.
The Gospel Age is represented as an epoch of trial or testing or judgment for the Church of Christ—the Body of Christ—those to be joint-heirs with Christ in his nature and his throne—"the Bride, the Lamb's Wife." The Scriptures point out to us that during this epoch God is drawing and calling from the world of mankind a "little flock," and that he is permitting the way of response to his call to be made a narrow one and a very difficult one. This is to the intent that the class that will hear, obey and walk in the footsteps of Jesus in this narrow way may be a very special class, a "little flock," each one of them copies of God's dear Son, the dear Redeemer. It will be seen, then, that in a very special sense there is a trial, a testing, a judgment, in progress—not a judgment in respect to the world, but of those who have accepted the "call" and made living sacrifices of themselves in the Lord's service, to the knowing and doing of the Lord's will. These are required to make their calling and election sure by demonstrating their loyalty to the Lord and his Word and the brethren, under various trying conditions, of which the Apostle Peter says, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you." ( 1Pe 4:12.) The trials are necessary for the development of character and for the proving of the faithful ones; hence the overcomers in this trial must be found faithful, not only in reaching the mark of perfect love, but in maintaining their stand there, resisting the various attacks of the flesh and of the Adversary. Such "conquerors" will be granted "the crown of life," which God has in reservation for them that thus love him. With the end of this age, the trial or judgment will be completed, finished. The "little flock" of overcomers will receive the reward of joint heirship with their Lord and participation in Divine nature; while those not counted worthy of this glory, yet faithful in many respects, will receive blessings of spiritual nature without the "crown." Others still, failing entirely in the trial, will be accounted unworthy of eternal life on any plane, and will die the Second Death, as says the Apostle: "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly.gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good Word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame." ( Heb 6:4-6.) Again, "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the Truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries."— Heb 10:26-27.
The World's Judgment Day.
The Apostle declares: "God hath appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead."— Ac 17:31. It will be noticed that this cannot apply to the original Judgment Day, in which our first parents failed in Eden; neither can the words apply to the judgment or trial which came to Israel under the Law Covenant, nor to the church on trial during this Gospel Age; because it is put in the future tense. The Apostle used these words in the beginning of this Gospel Age and the words apply beyond this Gospel Age to an appointed day or epoch future. The day referred to is "the day of Christ"—the Millennial Age—the thousand year day of the reign of righteousness, when Messiah shall be King over all the earth, to rescue it from the reign of sin and death and to bless all the captives of sin and death—the entire human family, already redeemed by the precious blood. The Apostle's words clearly state that he refers, not to the church's trial period, but to the world's. Certain things are necessary to a righteous judgment or trial of the world.
1. They must all come to a knowledge of the Truth. ( 1Ti 2:4-6.)
They cannot be saved in ignorance and superstition and vice. They must all be brought to a knowledge of the redemption accomplished by the sacrifice of Christ; to a knowledge of God's willingness to receive them back again into his fellowship. They must all be proffered assistance out of the degradation which came upon them through the disobedience and fall of our first parents, in the first trial or judgment.
2. They cannot be on trial for life everlasting without first having been judicially set free from the original condemnation—the original death sentence pronounced upon our first parents in Eden and inherited by all of their children.
These conditions have not yet been met, and hence the world is not yet experiencing this trial or judgment or testing which, the Apostle tells us, God has appointed for them. It will come to them, however, in the time appointed of the father, called in the Scriptures "God's due time."
Furthermore, the time for the world's judgment or testing cannot come until the trial or testing of the church shall have been completed and the worthy ones been found, because it is the Church that is now on trial, and that is to furnish the judges for the world's trial day. Mark the Apostle's words to this effect: "Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?" ( 1Co 6:2.) Nor is this thought out of harmony with the other text, "God hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained." On the contrary, we have already seen that "the mystery" of this Gospel Age lies in the fact that Jesus, the Redeemer of the world, is the Head of the Church, which is his Body, and which is now being selected or tried or judged for its position in glory, only the faithful receiving the reward, or membership, in the glorious Prophet, Priest, King, Messiah, beyond the veil.
The wrong thought respecting the Day of Judgment has made of it the day of terrors to the Church and to the world—all who have heard of it. It has been supposed to seal the doom of humanity: that thenceforth the Lord will have no pity and show no mercy. But the Scriptures, consistent with themselves, point out that the coming Judgment Day of the world signifies, to it, a great day of judgment, trial and blessing; just as the Church's judgment day signifies a great blessing to us; the privilege of becoming heirs of God and joint heirs with the Redeemer in his Kingdom glory. As to these facts, notice the words of inspiration by the Prophet David. Prophetically looking down beyond this time to the Millennial Age, the Prophet declares: "Let the heavens be glad, And let the earth rejoice; And let men say among the nations, Jehovah reigneth.
Let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof; Let the fields rejoice, and all that are therein.
Then shall the trees of the wood sing aloud At the presence of Jehovah; BECAUSE HE COMETH TO JUDGE THE EARTH.
O give thanks unto Jehovah, for he is good; For his mercy endureth forever."
To the same day the Apostle also points, assuring us that it will be a glorious and desirable day, and that for it the whole creation is groaning and travailing in pain together—waiting for the great Judge to deliver and to bless the world as well as to exalt and glorify the church.— Ro 8:21,22. In Joh 5:28,29, a precious promise for the world of a coming judgment-trial for life everlasting is, by a mistranslation, turned into a fearful imprecation. According to the Greek text, however, they that have done evil—that have failed of Divine approval—will come forth unto resurrection (raising up to perfection) by judgments, "stripes," testings, disciplines. —See the Revised Version.
The Great White Throne.
The Book of Revelation is recognized by God's people to be a book of symbols.
One of its beautiful pictures relates to the Judgment Day. We read, "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works."— Re 20:11-13. This is one of a series of pen pictures of the Millennial Kingdom of Christ and the blessings it will bring to mankind—the blessed privilege of a fresh judgment or trial for everlasting life. The first judgment of the race in Adam resulted in failure and condemnation of our first parents, and we were merely included in its losses, its disasters. By Divine arrangement, our Redeemer has died, the Just for the unjust. The application of his merit to father Adam will extend a blessing eventually to every member of his race, securing to them all a full release from the original condemnation or sentence and from all of the blight which came upon our race as a result. Setting aside the original penalty does not give either Adam or his children eternal life, but merely provides for all a new judgment or fresh trial for eternal life. Adam had perfection of life and held it tentatively on condition of his obedience. The redeemed race will come back again to Adam's position of trial and testing, as respects worthiness of life everlasting. However, instead of bringing mankind back by instantaneous process from the tomb and from our present fallen condition of mind and body to the full perfection of human nature, which Adam enjoyed, God proposes a still better way. He will give his fallen creatures through Christ an opportunity to climb up out of the sin and death conditions into which Adam's transgressions brought all. Some are more fallen; some less so. None could be recovered except by the Redeemer, whose death provides the ladder, so to speak, by which mankind can be raised up to full human perfection and Divine favor and all that was lost in Adam. The opportunity for thus rising up by their own exertions and by the assistance of the glorified Redeemer and his glorified Church will be during the Millennial Age. That opportunity will constitute the world's trial or judgment.
Various offices are attributed to our Lord, in connection with his great work for the world of mankind. Thus we read that he is to be the great Prophet, the great Priest, the great Mediator and the great Judge. We have already seen that the foundation for this great Kingdom and Judgeship was laid in our Redeemer's sacrifice of himself; but the execution of the great Plan of God, the Divine Program, was delayed to permit the selection of the Church, the "little flock," the Judge and associate judges. A gradual testing of the world by uplifting processes, by the binding of Satan and the making of the knowledge of the Lord to fill the whole earth, etc., will be much better for all concerned than if they were instantly made perfect and then put on trial as Adam was. The thousand years of uplifting influences and the striving against sin and the forming of character according to the Divine will will be helpful to the world and enable them to overcome, in the trial which will come to them in this gradual way. Help at each step and assistance out of every unintentional blunder is provided until at last all the willing and obedient shall have reached the full perfection of human nature—all that was lost by Adam and redeemed by Jesus or, refusing it, will have been destroyed in the Second Death. The "great white throne" represents the powers of the Government and the purity or fairness of the trial which will be granted to the world of mankind. When we read that heaven and earth fled away from the presence of him upon the throne, it identifies that throne with the end of this age, and the opening of the Millennial Age. Present institutions are represented thus: the heavens, the church, etc., and the earth the political and social interests of "this present evil world." As St. Peter tells us, present institutions shall "pass away with a great noise," and instead the Lord will reveal a new heavens and a new earth—that is to say, new spiritual powers, the Church in glory; and new earthly powers, the new political and social conditions—along better lines than those which now control: along lines of Justice and Love. The judgment or trial is before God in the sense that it will be along the lines of the Divine Law, though the Law Giver in this trial will be represented by the glorified Mediator. The judgment will not be along new lines, but along old lines, as our Lord Jesus declared: "My Word shall judge you in the last days." However, so far as the world is concerned, our Lord's words are as yet hidden mysteries, words not understood. Only the Church, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, has been able to appreciate the Divine Word clearly. But when the world's judgment or trial will be on, during the Millennium, the books will be opened—the books of the Bible—and the dead will be judged, will be tried, will be tested along the lines of teaching found in those books of the Bible. Those who give heed to the message of the Lord, its doctrines, its precepts, will make progress from grace to grace, from knowledge to knowledge, from strength to strength. Their Restitution or Resurrection will gradually progress as the Truth tries or judges them and finds them responsive, obedient to the voice which speaketh from heaven. St.
Peter tells us that it shall come to pass that the soul that will not obey that Prophet, that Teacher, that King, will be destroyed from amongst his people. ( Ac 3:23.) On the contrary, all who do obey the Lord's Word will, by the close of that Millennial period, have reached a full human perfection, mental, moral and physical. They will be as perfect as was Adam, and additionally possess a wider range of knowledge, and many of them, we trust, a firm texture of developed character. Still, however, at the close of the Millennial Judgment Day a great final test will be provided, which will thoroughly demonstrate the heart loyalty or disloyalty of each one. And all the disloyal will be utterly destroyed in the Second Death, without hope of recovery of any kind.
The Sheep and the Goats.
Our Lord gave one of his parables to illustrate the world's judgment during the Millennium, the parable of the sheep and the goats. Its location is definitely fixed by the context, which shows that it will find its fulfillment during the Millennial Age—after the present age shall have closed. We read, "When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats." ( Mt 25:31,32.) This parable corresponds exactly to the "great white throne" picture of Revelation. It shows all nations, all peoples gathered before that throne, which will be established in power and great glory. The Son of man who will come in his glory and who will sit upon the throne has given us numerous assurances that the elect church shall sit with him in his throne. The church will not be amongst those sheep and goats before that throne, but, glorified as the Lamb's Wife, the Church will be with her Bridegroom in his throne judging all nations—judging them, proving them; which are of the sheep nature and which are of the goat nature. The former will be blessed. The latter will be destroyed. At the end of the thousand years of the Judgment Day, the sheep found at the right hand of favor will receive the blessing: "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world"—an earthly kingdom, different decidedly from the heavenly kingdom, which will have previously been given to the church in association with her Lord. Then the unworthy will also be dealt with. As we read, He who sat upon the throne said to the goat class, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels"—his fellows, all who are of his character likeness, and who are in sympathy with him. These will include all of Adam's restored race who, after enjoying the knowledge and favor of God, shall maintain any sympathy for sin and discord. The everlasting punishment, be it remembered, will be administered; but this does not signify everlasting torments, because the punishment for sin is not torment, but death—everlasting death will therefore be the punishment of the goat class with Satan the great adversary. From this death there will be no redemption, no resurrection, no recovery of any kind. As St. Peter declares, "They shall be like brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed." The everlasting fire is as symbolical, as parabolic, as the sheep and the goats. Fire is a symbol of destruction, and everlasting fire a symbol of everlasting destruction. An everlasting fire is one not quenched, one which burns until it shall have accomplished its purpose of complete destruction.
More and Less Tolerable.
Our Lord had considerable to say about this great Day of Judgment, by and through which, in the Father's Plan, he was to extend the blessings of his sacrifice to the entire race. Jesus upbraided the people of Bethsaida and Chorazin, declaring that Sodom and Gomorrah would have represented with contrition in sackcloth and ashes, if they had enjoyed their opportunities. He assured them that, in the Day of Judgment, the day of trial, the day of testing, the Millennial Judgment Day, matters would be more favorable for the Sodomites than for the people of Chorazin and Bethsaida.— Mt 11:21-24. This may give a new thought to some—that the Divine arrangement for dealing with the Sodomites during the Millennium will be quite tolerable—less severe, less of an ordeal than for some of the Jews who lived in our Lord's day. Nor are we to think of those Jews as being specially wicked and reprehensible, because they crucified the Lord of Glory. St. Peter declares, "I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers." ( Ac 3:17.) Of those same Jews we read that the Lord will "pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications; and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son."— Zec 12:10. But glance at the case of the Sodomites. Our Lord shows that he had reference to those persons who lived in the days of Lot. He says, "But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all." ( Lu 17:29.)
Those Sodomites had no share in any day of judgment, except in the sense that they were children of Adam, and by heredity they were condemned in him and shared in his death sentence. They sinned, doubtless, against a measure of light, yet not against full light, because the Gospel lamp was not lighted and did not shine upon any until Jesus' day. Thus it is written that Christ "brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel;" and, again, that this great salvation "began to be preached by our Lord." ( 2Ti 1:10; Heb 2:3.) The death of the Sodomites, therefore, was merely the Adamic death, hastened; not the Second Death. They would have died anyway. They were taken in a manner which furnished an example for those who afterwards should live in extreme ungodliness, as they did; whether with or without the Gospel light. If we turn to Eze 16:46-63, we see how the Lord reproved Israel for unfaithfulness, under great privileges and blessings. He reminds them of how, in the days of their prosperity and pride, they disdained their sister nations, the Sodomites and Samaritans. After telling them that they were worse than either of these, he further informs them that when he fulfills his promise to them to regather Israel, to restore to Israel his favor and the light of his countenance and to make with them the New Covenant, he then will also bless the Samaritans and the Sodomites. We read, "When I shall bring in their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them....When thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate, then thou and thy daughters shall return to their former estate.
...Nevertheless, I will remember my Covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting Covenant."—See Jer 31:31; Ro 11:27-32.
We see, then, that a Divine Program, which has provided that the world shall have a Judgment Day or Epoch, as the result of Christ's redemptive work, has set apart for it the Millennial Age, with amplest provisions that each member of Adam's race may have a full, fair and impartial trial for eternal life or eternal death. The Divine Program is surely a good one—ten thousand times better than the miserably confused and confusing ideas of the Judgment Day which came down to us from "the dark ages," filling us with fear and dread as respects God and his gracious arrangements for the blessing of all the families of the earth through The Christ, Head and Body.
In other words, as the heathen have had their theory of a coming Golden Age, the Israelites had the direct assurance of God that such a period of general world-wide blessing would surely come. This hope was associated with Israel's anticipation of worldly greatness under the Head Shepherd, the expected Messiah. Foundation for the hope lay in the Divine promise to Abraham, "In thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." Israel hoped and prayed for the fulfillment of this promise, which meant special honor and exaltation to them, as well as refreshment to others. They understood that Messiah would come first, and that it would be under his direction and ministration of affairs that his Kingdom would be established—in their nation for the blessing of all nations. These ancient hopes of Israel will shortly have realization very nearly as anticipated. The difference is that Messiah, instead of being one person, is to be composed of the chosen "little flock" of one hundred and forty-four thousand selected in part from Israel in the end of their age, and, since then, the remainder from all nations. As soon as this great Mediator shall be completed his work will begin—the New Covenant will be sealed between God and Israel, and Messiah, Head and Body, will be its Mediator. ( Jer 31:31; Ro 11:1,27,31.)
The blessing will extend to all nations, in that all nations will be welcome to become "Israelites indeed" and sharers in the blessings of that New (Law) Covenant. As they thus come into line with the Divine provisions, they will, as foretold, become children of Abraham. As it is written, "Abraham, I have constituted thee a Father of many nations." But the chief hope of salvation for the Millennium is usually based upon the statements in Revelation 20th, which assure us that in the end of this Gospel Age the Divine power will restrain Satan, hindering the further deception of humanity during that period. Meantime, Christ will take unto himself his great power and reign—control, order, rule, bless. This same period is elsewhere called "the day of Christ" —the epoch during which The Christ, Head and Body, shall hold the sway of earth. ( Re 20:4-6.) The same period is referred to by St. Paul in 1Co 15:22,23, when telling us that, "as all in Adam die, so all in Christ will be made alive," but, he assures us, "every man in his own order," for he, Messiah, "must reign until he shall have put all enemies under his feet"—until he shall have subdued everything that is not in harmony with the divine arrangement. The suggestion of Revelation that not only Satan shall be bound for a thousand years, but that the Church shall reign with Christ, etc., is in full harmony with what we know respecting the Lord's dealing with our race in the past. If we count the six thousand years as six days of evil—six days of the reign of sin and death—and then speak of the thousand-year "day of Christ" in which righteousness shall reign unto life eternal, we thus have in mind the week of seven-thousand year days. And a week, a cycle of sevens, stands for completeness. It might be urged that as Sin and Death reigned for six thousand years the reign of righteousness and light for a period of one thousand years would be insufficient for the uplift of humanity. But we hold to the contrary that it is abundantly sufficient and really what might have been expected. Some of us with the light of Present Truth, being by the grace of God transformed by the renewing of our minds, can well realize a great work accomplished in our own hearts in ten, twenty or thirty years; and we wonder what marvelous transformations might be effected in mankind during a hundred years or a thousand. We remember that the work of grace in our hearts has had our willing co-operation and that we thus have much advantage over such of the world as might prove unwilling and rebellious. But we remember also that we now are in conflict with oppositions from the world and from the Adversary, and that the Divine program is that neither of these oppositions shall hinder the progress of mankind up the highway of holiness toward the mark of human perfection during the Millennium. To rightly understand the condition which will prevail during the Millennium we must keep distinctly in memory the fact that there will be two Kingdoms, a heavenly, invisible one, and an earthly, visible one. Our Lord and his Church, his Bride, will be like unto the angels, spirit beings, and their rule or dominion will be only through the earthly Kingdom class, their earthly representatives. As the "kingdom of darkness" now operates through the servants of sin along lines of ignorance, superstition, sin and death, the Kingdom of Light will operate through earthly agencies, in harmony with its principles of righteousness, truth, knowledge, etc. Thus the assurance of the Scriptures is that during Messiah's Kingdom nothing shall be permitted to hurt or do injury, but on the contrary, it shall cause the light of the knowledge of the glory of God to fill the earth.— Isa 11:9; Hab 2:14.
The earthly agents of Satan and the other fallen angels (the present powers of spiritual control) are evil men and evil women and the whole array of sin and error, superstition and anarchy. Many of these agents of sin are themselves deceived and know not whom they serve. Nevertheless, as the Scriptures declare, "His servants ye are unto whom ye render service." The servants of the Kingdom of God, on the contrary, will be glad, willing, intelligent servants of God and righteousness, as we shall now show. The Scriptural presentation is that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets, together with others who developed similar faith and character, in the period preceding our Lord's First Advent, will constitute the earthly phase of the Kingdom of Heaven. St. Paul calls our attention to this in Hebrews 11, and declares that "all these died in faith, not having received the things promised to them"—earthly inheritance, dominion—and "that they without us should not be made perfect." In other words, the church of this Gospel Age must first be exalted with her Lord to the heavenly dominion before the Ancient Worthies will be called forth from the sleep of death to full human perfection, to constitute the earthly representatives of the Heavenly Kingdom and its laws and regulations. Moreover, each of these Ancient Worthies will in himself be a pattern or sample of perfect manhood—of all that the race as a whole may attain to by obedience to the laws of the Kingdom and its uplifting influences. The bringing forth of the Ancient Worthies from the tomb to instantaneous perfection will be, as the Apostle explains, because of their having stood certain trials and testings of faith, which brought to them the Divine approval as worthy to be used as the earthly seed of Abraham, in the great work of Messiah—the blessing and uplifting of all the families of the earth. Those Ancient Worthies were once styled the "fathers." But as the Scriptures point out through the further development of the Divine Plan their relationship to Christ and the Church will alter. As we read, "Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth." ( Ps 45:16.) In other words, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, David, et al., were the forefathers of Messiah according to the flesh; but Messiah's sacrifices of the flesh and his attainment by resurrection to the Divine nature—gave him a valuable asset of human rights, which he is at liberty to dispense to humanity. The giving to men of those human rights, earthly restitutions, includes the giving of life rights: thus the Mediator became "the age-lasting Father" of the whole world of mankind—or so many of them as ever shall attain to eternal life.— Isa 9:6.
The Ancient Worthies will receive this earthly life or restitution to human nature in common with the world; hence they, as well as all the remainder of the human family, will occupy to Messiah the relationship of children, offspring—those who receive life from Messiah at his expense—and the result of his sacrifice of himself. The superiority of the Ancient Worthies in station and honor and ruling power above the remainder of mankind will be based upon the fact that they will be perfect men, while the remainder of the world will be imperfect. As we have already seen, their instantaneous resurrection to perfection will be the result or reward of their fidelity to the Lord under severe trials during their time of contact with sin. As we have already seen, the world of mankind will experience gradual resurrection from death conditions to life conditions. First will come the awakening, "Every man in his own order," and then during the thousand years a gradual raising up (resurrection) out of degradation and sin and imperfection, to righteousness and perfection in proportion as each individual shall heartily avail himself of the knowledge and opportunity which he will then possess. All who refuse to progress will die the Second Death.
The Day of His Preparation.
As already seen, the world has been for more than a century in what is termed "The day of his preparation"—for the Millennium, the time in which the Lord's blessings will fill the earth. The wonderful inventions of our day are already making the world rich. But what will a thousand years of progress signify in the way of accumulated wealth? If, as inventors assure us, we are merely on the edge, as it were, of still more wonderful inventions and devices for human comfort, what may we reasonably expect the world will have before the close of the thousand years of Christ's Millennial reign? If present inventions are but preparations for that glorious day, and the work of imperfect men, what may we not expect in the day itself at the hands of a growingly intelligent race and under the special supervision of the Ancient Worthies perfected in human nature, and under the further supervision of the great Messiah, Prophet, Priest, King, Judge and Mediator for the race? If any are disposed to fear that the great wealth of the world at that time would inure to the comfort and blessing of only a wealthy few and not to the general prosperity of the race, let such reflect upon the fact that the great Messiah, Emmanuel, has given us assurances, not only in his own character and teaching, but also directly through the prophets, that he will lay righteousness to the line and justice to the plummet. Let such remember, also, the distinct promise that he will remember the poor and needy. Note the prophecy: "He shall judge the poor of the people; he shall save the needy children, and shall break in pieces the oppressor. In his day shall the righteous flourish, and an abundance of peace." ( Ps 72.) Let us remember, also, the figurative promise of the Scriptures respecting the Millennial Day, that "every hill shall be brought low and every valley exalted." Let such remember also the Scriptural assurance that "the meek shall inherit the earth;" that "the righteous shall be exalted and that evil-doers shall be cut off." Surely there is abundant evidence that during the Millennium the blessing of life will be justly, unerringly distributed. The Divine promise is that the great King will lay justice to the line and righteousness to the plummet and sweep away all the refuges of lies. The high ones will all be brought low and the lowly ones will be exalted. This will mean more than a fulfillment of socialist dreams. Their well-meant scheme is a thoroughly impracticable one; first, because if they could effect such a change as they desire, it would be only a question of time when the selfishness of the human heart would re-distribute the wealth of the world much after the manner of the present; secondly, their view is impracticable because the wealthy and favored class, believing that they are justly possessed of their wealth, would see the streets run with blood rather than permit distribution of their wealth and special privileges.
We are not discounting the benevolence and goodness of the wealthy, but neither are we discounting the innate selfishness of all classes. The Divine program has taken into consideration every feature of the situation in its providence, and the results will be glorious. The wreck of the present social system in anarchy, shortly, will teach humanity the necessary lesson that it cannot trust itself under present conditions. The help necessary must come from the Lord. The new Kingdom will be a strong one and its judgments, its decisions, its rewards, its punishments, will be world-wide.
The righteous will be blessed with the true comforts of life—health, strength and earthly blessing. The unrighteous will be made to feel the unprofitableness of their course—that the way of transgressors is hard. Gradually, this system of rewards and punishments—or, as the Scriptures put it, these "judgments of the Lord"—will teach the right lesson of the sinfulness and undesirableness of sin in its every form and of the blessedness of righteousness and equity, "when the judgments of the Lord are abroad in the earth and the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness."—Isa..26:9. The condemnation of Divine Justice will be lifted immediately at the beginning of the millennium, when the great Mediator shall apply the merit of his sacrifice on behalf of the world (as he applied it to the household of faith at Pentecost.) Nevertheless the "curse," the imperfections, the blemishes, of humanity and the earthly home will be gradually recovered. The promise of the Lord that the whole earth shall be brought to a Paradise condition will be gradually effected during the thousand years, just as human restitution to Adamic perfection will be gradually attained. The blessings which will then prevail, the comforts, the leisure, will be for all, because all will be rich and under the supervision of the Millennial Kingdom. This leisure will not be permitted to be used for sinful or depraved pleasures, but merely in accord with the highest interests of all. Love, joy and peace will be the characteristics of that time. By the close of the Millennium God's will shall be done on earth, even as it is done in heaven, and every human creature shall have attained to full perfection—the rebellious being cut off in the "Second Death."
The loss incurred through Adam's transgression will have been fully retrieved. The race, so far from being injured by the experiences of sin, will really have been blessed; because of their greater appreciation of Truth and righteousness and their experiences under the reign of sin and lessons that will be learned during the Millennial period of reclamation from the influences of the curse. All refusing these gracious provisions, after trial, the Scriptures assure us, will be utterly, hopelessly destroyed in the Second Death.— Ac 3:23.
When the Mediatorial Kingdom of Christ shall have accomplished its design of blessing all the families of the earth, by uplifting of the willing and obedient out of sin and death conditions, that special and provisional Kingdom will terminate. As the Apostle says, Christ shall give up the Kingdom to God and he will be all in all. Meantime by his Millennial Kingdom he shall have put down sin and all opposed to the Divine Government and everything in opposition to the highest interests and welfare of the race. Love and mercy having done everything possible, their utmost, for the race during the Millennium, the regenerated race will be handed over at its close to strictest Justice. Thenceforth, no allowance will be made for imperfections, because no imperfections will exist.
Ignorance and superstition having been done away with, destroyed, Divine Law, absolute Justice, will be enforced.— 1Co 15:24,28. The Scriptures, properly enough, then, show us that immediately following this turning over of the Kingdom by Messiah to the Father, the reign of Mercy, giving place to the reign of Justice, will be followed by a period of trial to the race. For a brief period, Satan will be loosed, and an opportunity for sin will be permitted, with a view to testing the loyalty of those who had been rescued from the reign of Sin and Death. A conspiracy of self-will against agents of Divine authority will be permitted—to test, to prove, all dwelling upon the face of the whole earth, whose members will then be as the sands of the seashore—innumerable. How many of these will succumb to the temptation and thereby prove their hearts disloyal, is not stated. But all who do thus yield to the temptation will be accounted worthy of the Second Death and will be utterly destroyed. By such strenuous tests the Lord will prove, test, the hearts of men and blot out of existence all who with full knowledge and opportunity to the contrary still entertain any disloyalty to the principles of truth and righteousness. It is because of these strenuous tests which will be applied to every creature that the Lord is able to guarantee to us that "there shall be no more sighing, no more crying and no more dying," because there shall be no more sin. There may be some unwilling to believe in the Millennial Kingdom, because unable to grasp by faith so remarkable a Divine supervision of human affairs for the uplifting of our race from sin and death conditions. These are not to be specially blamed, for, as the Apostle says, "All men have not faith." ( 2Th 3:2.) All men, however, who have faith to believe in the Divine promises can realize the justice as well as the love and mercy connected with the Divine scheme of redemption. It began with our Lord's giving himself as a.ransom for all, to be testified in due time. It has continued during this Gospel Age in the selecting of the "little flock," the "jewels" to be Messiah's associates in the work of the Millennial Kingdom. It will operate during the Millennial Age most gloriously, and the results will be all that can be desired. Then shall come the time when every creature in heaven and earth and under the earth shall be heard praising and honoring the great Prophet, Priest and King, whose righteous dealings will finally have been made manifest, and whose creatures will have been brought to the highest degree of blessing—the "little flock" on the heavenly plane, mankind on the earthly plane, and the incorrigible to Second Death—destruction.
LET me take heart! the present scene shall soon be o'er; The clustering clouds shall hide the sun at noon no more.
The tears now dropping from mine eyes shall be forgot; And joys, undimmed by sin and misery, my lot.
The storm now sweeping through the troubled sky be past; The longed-for morning without clouds arise at last.
When he shall "take unto himself his great power and reign," he will put down sin and error in their multitudinous forms and establish righteousness and Truth, peace, love and joy. And this glorious event, the Second Coming of Christ in Kingdom glory, must await the Divine "due time," when the elect Church shall have been completed, tested, proven, found faithful, glorified. This is the thought before the Apostle's mind when he graphically declares, "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now...waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God." The great Son of God, Captain of our Salvation, and all of his brethren under him, soldiers of the cross, are soon to be glorified together on the spirit plane by the First Resurrection, as a Royal Priesthood—a Priest with regal power.
A Masterpiece of Deception.
Fidelity to our subject demands that we inquire how, when and where this deception was foist upon God's people and the entire civilized world. Who fabricated this story, that the nations of the civilized world are the kingdoms of Christ? The answer is, that this great deception is from Satan, our great Deceiver, of whom the Apostle said, "The God of this world hath blinded the minds of all them that believe not." It is safe, also, to assume that to some extent this great Adversary has partially blinded the minds of believers. This is the sentiment in the prophecy, "Darkness covers the earth; gross darkness the heathen." Again the Apostle says, I pray God for you (The Church) that your eyes being opened, ye may be able to comprehend with all saints the length and breadth and height and depth, and to know the love of God, which passeth all understanding ( Eph 3:18.) The intimation here, again, is that the opening of the eyes of understanding of Christians is gradual and proportionate to their saintliness and holiness of heart. That the deceptions of Satan are world-wide and include all classes is set forth in the assurance given us that when he shall be bound by Christ for the thousand years of his Millennial reign, it will be that "he shall deceive the nations no more until the thousand years are finished." In seeking for the truthful answer to the query, we must not feel aggrieved if, perchance, we find that our own ancestors were amongst those whom Satan deceived and who ignorantly became his servants and tools in the establishment of the thought that the civilized kingdoms are the Kingdoms of Christ—"Christendom."
The Deception Gradual and Logical.
Those who claim that the present condition of things was concocted by priests and knaves who premeditated the deception with which we have since been struggling are mistaken. Those who elaborated these views were undoubtedly as honest and sincere as ourselves. They were the victims of circumstances, and, more particularly, the victims of the great Deceiver's plot whereby he continually lay in wait to deceive the Lord's people, as St. Paul foretold. ( Eph 4:14; 2Co 2:11.)
Truly the Apostle has declared that "we wrestle not against flesh and blood," but with wicked spirits in influential positions. — Eph 6:12.
The method by which the Adversary misled our forefathers was a cunningly deceptive one. A century after the Apostles fell asleep in death, persecution was still raging, and the looked-for Second Coming of Christ to glorify his Church, and to establish her as his Bride and joint-heir in his Kingdom, to bless the world, had not yet come. The strain of tribulation was telling upon the hopes of the Church. There were queries as to whether or not a mistake had been made in the understanding of the promises respecting our Lord's Second Coming, the end of this age and the inauguration of the New Kingdom Age. Now was the time for the Adversary to gradually and persistently work in the erroneous thought and becloud and obscure the Truth and cut off the Church from the real Scriptural hope and give to her another hope, through which the great Deceiver could more particularly lead her astray on other doctrines and practices. The subtle suggestion was that it was not the Divine intention that Christ should come a second time in the flesh. This conclusion was quite correct; but to it was added the further suggestion that Christ intended that his faithful followers under his direction should first convert the whole world—should first accomplish all the work of the Millennial Kingdom. The further suggestion was, that the Lord himself would not participate in this Millennial reign, except through a substitute or vicar, who would represent him in all the work of the Kingdom and fulfill all the prophetic promises of blessing the earth, uplifting mankind, etc. At the same time, the dominion of earth was so manipulated by the Prince of this world (God not interfering) that the persecutions of the Church by the civil Government of Rome ceased; and the Roman Government gradually decayed. At the same time, formalism, going hand in hand with worldly prosperity, lifted up the Church nominal in the eyes of the world and in its own eyes. Gradually the Church seemed to be nearing the point where she could reign over the kings of the earth. The Church's power increased as the civil power weakened, until finally the Church nominal was the mightiest organization in the world. Then possessed of the reins of spiritual control, she asserted her authority, and told the civil kings of the earth that her superior control was as the representative of God and his Kingdom, which it was foretold would rule the world. She called upon kings to recognize her authority and to conduct their kingdoms in accordance with her decrees. She threatened their princes and nobles and kings that, if they did otherwise than obey her commands, she would exercise her suzerain authority. She told the civil kings of earth that if her commands were not obeyed she would inform their peoples that they were no longer bound to support them, and would indicate others to be their rulers instead—others who would hearken to the voice of the Church, to the voice of Christ speaking through the Church. Meantime, slowly, gradually, artfully, under the great Deceiver's seductions and temptations, the simplicity of the apostolic order was lost, or, rather, it was merged into a larger system, believed to be necessary, and in Divine order, for the new conditions prevailing. The Elders of the various congregations of the Lord's people, the pastors and teachers, were no longer styled overseers or bishops, but this term was applied from a loftier standpoint of one commissioned to have an apostolic oversight of many congregations. Gradually, too, a still higher order was recognized, called archbishops or higher bishops, and still another higher order styled cardinals. And to perfect the system, a Head was demanded by the Church—an elected Head, called a pope, a papa, a father. Whoever occupied the office of pope was recognized as the personal representative of Christ, so that similar honor was demanded for the popes as was recognized as due to Christ; and the pope's ex cathedra utterances were recognized as the infallible utterances of Christ.
He was styled "the vicar of Christ," or Christ's substitute on the throne of earth. In the triple crown worn by the popes, emblazoned with jewels, was his title, Vicarius Filii Dei, Substitute Son of God. When we remember that all this came about gradually, during a period of long centuries, we cannot wonder that our forefathers in all of these arrangements verily thought that they were doing God service and fulfilling his will, as foretold in the prophecies. We cannot, therefore, chide or censure them specially for accepting and handing down to us this wrong theory, that then and there God's Kingdom was set up in the world. Rather we must sympathize with them and with ourselves and be the more on guard against the deceptive influences of our Great Adversary, Satan. So that, while getting rid of some of those errors, we may not be misled by our foes into other pitfalls and snares. Our only safety is, as the Scriptures point out, in a closer walk in the footsteps of our Redeemer, in humility, in love, in devotion to God and to each other, waiting for the true Kingdom of God's dear Son, the promised Kingdom, which shall be established at his Second Coming. That Kingdom shall bless all the families of the earth; that Kingdom shall put down all sin and disorder and bring in everlasting righteousness, and, to the willing and obedient, everlasting life.
Both Protestants and Catholics Deceived.
We are not to think of this matter as being a deception upon the Catholics merely.
Indeed, in former days we, represented by our forefathers, were practically all Catholics. When the so-called "Reformation" took place in the fifteenth century, those who then protested, represented by Luther, Zwingli, Melancthon, Calvin and others, accepted the same general teaching, namely, that God's Kingdom was established in the earth and was to conquer the world. These reformers merely disputed that the pope and his associates were the Head of the Church and representatives of Christ. Certainly Luther did, even if it were but jocularly, say of himself, "Here goes the German pope." Henry VIII, as the Head of the Church of England, surely set himself forth as the Head of that religious system or Church. Surely in similar manner, the Czar of Russia is the Pontifex Maximus of the Russian or Greek Church. The "Reformation," therefore, was not a recognition of the deception which Satan had forced upon our forefathers, but, instead, it meant a splitting of the one so-called Kingdom of God, Papacy, into numerous Kingdoms of God, or sects, which between them recognize the various royal families of Europe. The root evil still persists to this day. It is high time that, in the light of our day, we should see clearly that all the so-called kingdoms of Christendom are merely "kingdoms of this world," which, deceptively and under delusion, are claiming to be the kingdoms of God's dear Son.
Only those who recognize these facts are properly prepared to appreciate and to rejoice in the prospect of the soon-coming of the Kingdom of Christ and its reign of Righteousness under the whole heavens, in fulfillment of the Word of the Lord "by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." — Ac 3:19-21.
Present Conditions Foretold.
Looking back we find in Daniel's prophecy delineations which prophetically foretell in brief outline the history of the world empires, showing us what has been; what is, and what is to come; portraying the fact that all the "kingdoms of earth are kingdoms of this world," and that the great Kingdom of God's dear Son will be established upon the ruins of present institutions. The ruin of present empires is clearly indicated as due in the near future, and as coming to pass as the result of increased knowledge and increased ambition, operating in conjunction with the selfishness of fallen human nature. Of that "day of wrath," its character and its place in the Divine Program we shall have more to say anon.
God's Kingdom in Israel.
True, there was a time when God had a Kingdom or dominion in the world, as we read David, King of Israel, "sat upon the throne of the Kingdom of the Lord." And "Solomon sat upon the throne of the Kingdom of the Lord, in the room of his father David." But that Kingdom is not the one for which we wait and for which we pray, "Thy Kingdom come." That was merely a figure, a picture in some respects of the coming Kingdom. David, the beloved Prophet, represented typically The Christ; and Solomon, the wise, the rich, the great, typified Messiah and his Kingdom in other respects. When the time came to abolish the typical Kingdom of Israel, the Lord indicated that his promise that Messiah should sit upon the throne of Israel would nevertheless be fulfilled, though the delay would be considerable. To the last regular king successor to David's throne the words were addressed, "O thou profane and wicked Prince whose time has come that iniquity should have an end! Remove the diadem! Take off the crown! This shall not be the same! I will overturn, overturn, overturn it, until he comes, whose right it is, and I will give it unto him." That Davidic crown has been overturned ever since. No rightful heir of David has ever worn the crown. The nation was under other rules and subject to other empires until its final destruction in A.D. 70. For instance, the Herods of our Lord's day were not Israelites, but of the family of Esau, and even then they had only a provisional Government, the real control being vested in the Roman Emperor. The lesson then is, that when Messiah's Kingdom shall be established, it, under the terms of Israel's New (Law) Covenant, shall be established with Israel and not with other nations. All nations will then approach the Lord by coming under the terms of his grace, and mercy embodied in that New (Law) Covenant, which will then operate towards Israel. All peoples, when exercising faith and obedience to the regulations of the Millennial Kingdom, in so doing will become "Israelites indeed," circumcised in heart and be counted children of Abraham, as it is written, I have constituted thee a father of many nations. The facts, then, are that Zedekiah's crown, removed six hundred and six years before Christ, has not yet been accepted by Messiah. His dominion has not yet been established in the earth! The long intervening period of twenty-five hundred and fifteen years marks a period in which God has had no Kingdom in the earth, no special dominion of an outward kind, such as mankind could recognize, and such as they have been called upon to honor and obey. Notice further, that God had stated to the Jews that if they would be disobedient to his Divine arrangements, he would punish them "seven times" for their sins. This is repeated over and over again. The "seven times" may properly be understood to be seven years (symbolical) three hundred and sixty years long. The seven times thus reckoned would total twenty-five hundred and twenty years as Israel's period of Divine disfavor without a king. We have seen that twenty-five hundred and fifteen years of this period have already elapsed, and thus five years remain before they can have earthly dominion. As the time draws near, what do we see—the Jews and the whole civilized world standing up and looking to Palestine and requesting for reinstatement as a nation. (This same presentation has been set forth orally and in print for more than thirty years: long enough before the Zionist movement.) Their hopes will be more than realized, but not entirely in the manner anticipated. The Kingdom that is coming to them at the close of their period of waiting will be a blessed Kingdom—that of Emmanuel the seed of Abraham, Messiah.
2520 Gentile Times 2520.
But now behold! When the crown was taken from Israel in Zedekiah's day 2515 years ago, God declared through Daniel the Prophet that the dominion of the earth under certain limitations would be left in the hands of the Gentiles, and that they.would rule the world until those times or years would be fulfilled. Our Lord Jesus called attention to this prophecy and foretold that "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." ( Lu 21:24.) As Jerusalem is still thus trodden down of the Gentiles, it is evident that the "Gentile times" are not yet filled full. In God's revelation on the subject to Daniel and to Nebuchadnezzar, he indicated that the Dominion of the Gentiles began with Nebuchadnezzar, the great image of Gentile power, and that this image would control was shown in brief. Nebuchadnezzar's Government was the Head. Following it came the universal empire of the Medes and Persians, Cyrus being one of these.
Next in turn came the Empire of Greece, Alexander the Great being its principal representative. Next in turn came the legs of iron, representing the strength of the Roman Empire; next in turn came the feet and toes of the image, of iron and clay mixed, representing the rule of Christendom, a commingling of the civil power as represented by the iron, and the ecclesiastical authority, as represented in the clay.
The whole period of the domination of this great image was symbolically pictured in the seven years of Nebuchadnezzar's madness, at the conclusion of which he praised the God of Heaven and acknowledged him as the Emperor and Ruler of earth. The madness of the man is a fitting picture of the madness of the universal Gentile Governments and the carnage which they wrought in the earth. The seven years or seven times, namely, twenty-five hundred and twenty years, correspond exactly to Israel's "seven times." Thus we see that "the times of the Gentiles" will be fulfilled and they will lose their empire, at the same time that Israel's seven times of tribulation and down-treading will terminate, and they shall come into favor and association with Messiah and his Kingdom.—Daniel 2 and 4. In conclusion, we may all thank God that the Divine Program contains a blessing for humanity under a heavenly rule and Government, for their uplifting out of sin and death conditions, that is far more hopeful, far more blessed, than anything that we have at present or that could possibly come to us through the Governments which ignorantly style themselves the Kingdoms of God, the Kingdoms of Christ—"Christendom." We are not in this finding fault with these earthly Governments. On the contrary, we believe that poor humanity in its fallen condition is doing as well as it can do. It is struggling against the world, the flesh and the Adversary and against the ignorance, superstition, etc., in which they were immersed and against their own weaknesses and imperfections of mind and morals and selfishness. God would have humanity learn the lesson that our very best efforts to rectify the great disaster of sin and death, which came upon us through Father Adam's disobedience, must prove futile. Our help cometh from God.
Thank God for the provision for our assistance—that it has already been made by the death of Jesus, who died the Just for the unjust, that he might bring back to the Father in due time, through this Kingdom of Righteousness, all who will. We rejoice, moreover, that the Church now being called out to joint-heirship with their Redeemer in that Kingdom is to be so highly honored and used in connection with the great Divine Program, and we exhort all those who have heard the "call" to accept it, and all those who have accepted it to strive to "make their calling and election sure."
IS IT FOR ME?
IS it for me, dear Savior, Thy glory and Thy rest?
For me, so poor and humble, Oh! shall I thus be blest?
Is it for me to see Thee In all Thy glorious grace, And gaze in endless rapture On Thy beloved face?
Is it for me to listen To Thy beloved voice, And hear its sweetest music Bid even me rejoice?
A thrill of solemn gladness Hath hushed my very heart To think that I may really Behold Thee as Thou art; Behold Thee in Thy beauty; Behold Thee face to face; Behold Thee in Thy glory And rest in Thine embrace.
1. It is supposed to mark the end of all hope of salvation.
2. It appears needless, because of the general opinion that all mankind go to Christ at death—to be adjudged for eternal life or eternal torment.
3. It seems inconsistent to the degree of absurdity that Christ should ever sit upon an earthly throne and exercise thus an earthly dominion.
Without fear of successful contradiction we assert that all three of these objections are based upon fallacious views and misunderstandings of the Divine Program. On the contrary, we hold, not only that the Second Coming of Messiah is well attested by the Scriptures, but that it is every way logical, reasonable and consistent with the Divine Program, as outlined. Let us consider the objections in the order given:
1. We have already shown that instead of Messiah's Advent being the end of the world, it is really the beginning of the glorious epoch of Millennial blessings, which shall bring opportunities of uplift, mental, moral and physical, which will, if responded to, result in eternal life in Paradise. The entire theological fabric became so twisted during "the dark ages" that practically its entire teaching was one of long Purgatorial torture, and later we Protestants made a bad matter worse, by throwing away Purgatory, and assigning all except the saintly to eternal torture. St. Paul worthily named these errors "Doctrines of devils."— 1Ti 4:1.
Not only was the Millennial hope taken away and mankind told that at the moment of death they would be launched into torments, except the few but additionally the Scripture references to a Second Coming of the Lord and a resurrection of the dead were made a still further terror to mankind. Poor humanity was told that, after suffering untold agonies in some kind of a bodyless condition, the Second Coming of Christ would mean a resurrection of their bodies and the means whereby their tortures would be increased, the bodies being left with all their present nerves and sensitiveness, but made fireproof. No wonder, from this standpoint, the Second Coming of Messiah would be feared, would be dreaded! No wonder poor humanity would shrink from it, and wish that it would never be!
2. When rightly studied, the Bible distinctly contradicts popular theories that mankind at death become more alive than when they were alive. As already shown, the Bible teaching is that death is death; that "the dead know not anything;" that "their sons come to honor and they know it not; and to dishonor and they perceive it not of them;" that "there is neither wisdom nor knowledge nor device in sheol (the grave—hell) whither all go;" that the Scriptural hope is "the resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust." Hence, as our Lord said, "The hour is coming in the which all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of man and come forth"—the well-doers to eternal life and those who have done evil to a resurrection by judgments, by disciplines, by which all the willing and obedient may ultimately be lifted up to life by the close of the Millennial Age. How strange that we all of us misunderstood these Scriptures and prophecies and accepted theories which are inconsistent with our reasonable concepts and thoroughly out of harmony with God!
3. We agree that it is thoroughly inconsistent and thoroughly absurd to suppose that our Lord should return to earth for the purpose of assuming an earthly throne with an earthly court and courtiers and earthly dominion! This would be coming from a higher dominion to a lower one, and is consequently inconceivable to reason. But this is not the kingdom which the Bible informs us Messiah shall establish in the earth. On the contrary, the clear teaching of the Scripture is that our Lord will never more be known as a man. He took upon him the form of a servant, and the nature of a man that he, "by the grace of God, might taste death for every man." This was because a perfect man had sinned, and a perfect man's life must be substituted for his to meet the demands of Divine Justice. Since our Lord arose from the dead, he is no longer a man, but a spirit being; as the Scriptures declare, "He was put to death flesh, but was quickened (made alive) spirit." "Now the Lord is that spirit"—"highly exalted, far above angels, principalities and powers, and every name that is named—glorified and "made partaker of the divine nature." In harmony with this, the Scriptures show that our Lord's appearances after his resurrection were different entirely from his presence with his disciples before his death. Before his death he was the man Christ Jesus, and after his resurrection he was a spirit being, and manifested himself in various fleshly bodies—as a gardener; as a stranger; in a body similar to the one in which he was crucified, etc. These manifestations convinced the apostles:
(a) that he was no longer dead, but alive;
(b) that he was no longer a man, but "changed," invisible to them most of the time; seen during forty days only a few times at intervals. It is the glorified Messiah who is to come a second time, "in power and great glory"—heavenly glory. His Kingdom will be an invisible one as far as mankind are concerned. As our Lord said to the Jews: "A little while and the world seeth me no more." The reason for this invisibility is plain to all Bible students. All spirit beings are invisible to mortals. "No man hath seen God at any time." We are told that "the angel of the Lord encampeth around about those that are his and delivereth them," and that they are "all ministering spirits, sent to minister to those who are to be heirs of salvation." We see them not, because they are on one plane of existence and we on another. The time was that more faith was required to believe in invisible things than is now necessary. Can we not now hear one another speak at a distance of hundreds of miles by telephone? Have we not wireless telegraphy and the X-Ray?
Note our Lord's description of his own Kingdom. We read that when it was demanded of the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would appear, he answered and said unto them that it would not appear at all. His words were: "The Kingdom of God doth not come with observation (outward show, visibility); neither shall ye say, Lo, here! or Lo, there! for the Kingdom of God shall be in your midst"—ruling, everywhere present, invisible, except as the eyes of understanding shall recognize the operation of its laws through its earthly channels and servants. Nor should this be difficult to be grasped by any who believe the Scripture records; because is not Satan now such an invisible prince, and are not his angels equally invisible, and does he not exercise a great power directly and through his agents, the fallen angels, or demons, and through deceived earthly agents? "His servants ye are to whom ye render service." Likewise the spiritual empire of Christ and the Church will have spiritual agents operating amongst men, and human agents also—the Ancient worthies—Abraham, Isaac and all the prophets, declared of the Lord to be worthy of eternal life, perfection. These will constitute the earthly phase of the spiritual Kingdom, executing the will of the King immortal and invisible. — Heb 11:39,40; Psalm 45:16; Lu 13:28.
From this, the Scriptural standpoint, the Second Coming of our Lord, Messiah, is most consistent. He came at his First Advent to lay down the redemption price and to start in operation the blessed conditions of grace, by which, during this Gospel Age, he has been gathering his "elect class," his Bride, out of every nation, kindred and tongue. It was thoroughly consistent with this that he should come a second time, as promised, to receive his church to himself, to seat her as his Bride in his throne, and to accomplish through her and through the Ancient worthies, representing Israel in the flesh, the great promise of God made to Abraham and confirmed to Isaac and Jacob, namely, "In thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." To count out of our hopes Messiah's Second Coming and the Millennial Kingdom would be to destroy all the glorious prospect set before us in the Scriptures. He who redeemed the world with the sacrifice of his life; he who has gathered the Church during this Gospel Age; he will surely not fail to fulfill the gracious promise of God to bless the world—granting Millennial opportunities to the redeemed world of mankind. "He (Christ) shall see the travail of his soul and be satisfied." The church, his Joint-Heirs, who now share his travails, will also share in his glory, and in his blessed work of uplifting the world of mankind. It is not necessary for us to present the Scripture testimony, respecting the fact of our Lord's Second Coming. The Scriptures on the subject are well-known to all Bible students.
The celebrated evangelist, D. L. Moody, after studying the subject, declared that no other subject is so extensively treated in the Bible. However this may be, all who take the Scriptural viewpoint must admit that without the Second Coming of Christ the entire Divine Program would come to naught—would fail to bring the blessings needed. Our Lord came the first time to redeem. He comes the second time to deliver the redeemed ones. "Every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him," is a statement not inconsistent with our Lord's declaration that "the world seeth me no more." There are two ways of seeing: For instance, the blind sometimes say, "I see."
There are eyes of understanding, as well as eyes of physical sight. Many who have the latter have not the former. "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine into their hearts."—( 2Co 4:4.) The world in general is blind.
"Darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the heathen." Only the Lord's saints see in the true sense of the word, with the eyes of their understanding. Thus it is written, "Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear." ( Mt 13:16.)
The Apostle writes to the Church, I pray God for you that, the eyes of your understanding opening, ye may be able to comprehend, with all saints, the length and breadth and height and depth and to know the love of God which passeth all understanding. ( Eph 3:17,18.) The promise is that "all the blind eyes shall be opened and all the deaf ears be unstopped." ( Isa 35:5.) This will be during the Millennial Kingdom; and the result will be that all shall know the Lord, from the least to the greatest. Not seeing with the natural sight, but clearly seeing with the eyes of understanding, all will appreciate his character and rejoice therein. We sometimes express this thought poetically in the words, "Sun of my soul, my Father dear, I know no night when thou art near. O! may no earth-born cloud arise, To hide thee from thy servant's eyes."
LORD JESUS, make Thyself to me A living, bright reality!
Nevertheless, our Lord and the apostles were treated worse by them than were the prophets by their fathers. How terrible was the visitation of Divine judgment upon the Jewish nation is well known to all familiar with their history. The record is that nearly 2,000,000 perished at the siege of Jerusalem after the internecine war or period of anarchy. Those experiences which befell Natural Israel and resulted in the utter overthrow of that nation in A.D. 70 were, perhaps, the most awful experiences which ever came to any nation. They were a type or foreshadowing of the still more terrible experiences which are to come upon Christendom—Nominal Spiritual Israel—in the "harvest" time of this age.
It is not for us to seek to combat with the world to hinder this impending trouble, this day of wrath. Indeed, the Scriptures assure us in connection with the announcement of this day of trouble that "none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand."— Da 12:1,9,10. The Divine Revelation respecting the time of trouble is only to a portion of the world—the Church; for her admonition, her instruction, her guidance, "that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished" and that "ye, brethren, should not be in darkness," when "that day shall come as a snare on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth." ( 1Th 5:2-6; Lu 21:35.) This article, therefore, is not expected to be appreciated by the general reader, except in the sense that some may be amused with what they consider to be the folly of giving heed to the predictions of the Word of God. The Scriptures indicate most distinctly that the trouble of this "day of wrath" will be anarchy—"every man's hand against his neighbor." It is quite true, on the contrary, that the tendency of our day is in the very reverse direction, away from individualism and in the direction of unions, trusts and combines. This is manifest in every direction—ecclesiastical, political, social and financial. And just such a tendency of confederacy or federation is distinctly brought to our attention, for, as there were giants in the earth before the flood, so there are to be giant institutions and systems before the great time of trouble breaks into cataclysm. The Scriptures say to the Lord's people, "Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid." — Isa 8:12. No one of observation has failed to note that while unions of capital and labor are in progress, there is a distinct dividing line on one side of which are the rich trusts and the kings and their armies, financial, religious, political; on the other side are the masses. Both parties are aggressive.
Both are growing in numbers and in strength daily. Both are becoming more than ever determined that they are in the right, and both are more than ever realizing that the trial of their strength in the mighty conflict cannot be far distant. The Scriptures alone foretold these conditions and the outcome. Neither party will give in. The conflict will be the most severe of the world's history—the more so because both parties at the beginning of the struggle will feel confident of the justice of their cause, and of their strength, and of the sureness of their victory. Hence the conflict will be to the knife, and the knife to the hilt. Peaceable means on both sides will be expected to conquer, but both parties being governed by pure selfishness, judgment will be beclouded and the results will be awful beyond description. Those committed at first to peaceable methods in their disappointment and desperation will become anarchistic. The result will be that the organized system of civilization which now prevails will work its own destruction at the very moment when, in many respects, it will appear to be reaching the climax of prosperity. It will thus furnish an everlasting lesson for men and angels of the destructive tendency of selfishness, the outgrowth of sin. And while it is termed "the day of the Lord's wrath," it would appear to be the natural outworking of violation of Divine Law, rather than a direct interference by the Almighty in human affairs. The Scriptures tell us that God hardened Pharaoh's heart by promptly hearing his prayer and releasing him from one after another of the various plagues or chastisements which he brought upon himself. In other words, the goodness of God, which should have guided him aright, produced the reverse effect, hardening, instead of softening his heart. So it appears to be in our day. The Lord during the past century has been lifting from the eyes of mankind a veil of ignorance.
He has been permitting to shine in upon the human mind great intelligence, previously kept secret. The result is inventions of every kind, bringing to humanity comforts, luxuries, conveniences and wealth beyond the fondest dreams of avarice, and discounting the tale of Arabian Nights, as the arc light discounts the tallow dip.
What might be reasonably expected of God's creatures under such favor, such blessings, from his hands?—what reverence; what faithfulness; what generosity toward fellow-men; what contentment; what peace; what inquiring after the will of God; what endeavor to do his will and to glorify him in body and in spirit! But have these blessed conditions existed in any considerable measure? Alas, no! The very contrary conditions have resulted. Discontent, irreverence, unfaithfulness, selfishness, are more prevalent to-day than ever before. Instead of inquiring, What shall I render unto the Lord my God for all his benefits? the scientific world are endeavoring to get rid of the Almighty entirely, —his personality. These savants tell us—that all we have received is the result of natural processes—that nature is our God; that an intelligent Creator was not even necessary; that the first part of protoplasmic life was generated from the alkalies of the sea, and that man is merely the highest development thus far of this evolution of matter—that he needed no God; had no fall into sin; needed no Redeemer from sin and no Millennial Kingdom with restitution powers to uplift him. Practically all the college-bred—professors and graduates, hold to this godless theory—this theory that we need no intelligent, supreme Creator, but a blind force in operation—that all speculation respecting Divine Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power are foolishness; that each cranium makes its own God according to its own development in these qualities. In other words, man is his own God. "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." — Ps 14:1.
It should not surprise us that where the professors lead the public will follow. Hence, under the guidance of the colleges and pulpits of the land gradually, inch by inch, cautiously, faith in God and in the Bible as his Revelation are gradually being undermined. In this fact centers the horrible atrocities which will soon envelop Christendom; just as, a century ago, atheism in France led to the reign of terror there.
And, by the way, the French Revolution is significantly intimated in the Bible to be a foreshadowing of the worldwide terror soon to be expected. That God foreknew present conditions and foretold them more than two thousand years ago is clearly shown in the statements of Da 12. The prophet had received a message for the people of Israel, which was plainly explained to him, but very interesting details, not pertinent to his nation, but to the end of this age, were withheld from him. He prayed earnestly for them and got the answer from the angel, "Go thy way, Daniel; for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end...in the time of the end many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased...and the wise shall understand ...and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation."
Notice this prophecy carefully. Its statements are beautiful in their simplicity; yet the present day cannot be better described in the same number of words. The first item marks our day of rapid transportation and those traversing sea and land in every direction—"running to and fro." There never was such a day before. Less than a century ago there was not a steam engine on earth—not a railroad train, nor a rail.
Suddenly, as if touched by magic wand, railroads cover the civilized earth and humanity rushes pell-mell in every direction, as if solely intent upon the fulfillment of this prophecy, of which the majority are in total ignorance. Nevertheless the great Christian astronomer, Newton, studying this passage long before railroads were thought of, declared his belief in its fulfillment, surmising that a mode of transportation would be discovered which would carry people safely at the rate of "fifty miles an hour." Here we see the wisdom of the man who takes heed to the Word of God. Correspondingly we see the folly of the man who neglects God's Word; for the great Voltaire, making light of the Bible, called attention to Sir Isaac Newton's comment, and called him a "poor old dotard," misled by that foolish book, the Bible. The contrast is accentuated when we remember that Voltaire died only a few years before the locomotive was invented, while the Christian philosopher was dead nearly three centuries. Note also that the second feature of this prophecy has been fulfilled with equal carefulness. A fever of general education has broken out in the world—public schools have been established in all parts of Christendom. Not only is education now supplied free of charge, but as though to assure a fulfillment of this prophecy, education has been made compulsory by those who know not that there is such a prophecy. Who will tell us that these matters are purely of chance? If they be of chance, then, indeed, "truth is stranger than fiction." We come now to the third feature: "The wise shall understand"—not the worldly-wise; but those of whom the Scriptures say, "Not many learned; not many great; not many rich; not many wise hath God chosen" to be of his elect Church. Most evidently the intention here is to mark out those of the church who are wise toward God—"the wise virgins." These, and these only, may fully understand the present situation, the time in which we are living, the fulfillment of these prophecies and their culmination in the great time of trouble, "the day of vengeance," with which this age will end, giving place to the new dispensation under Emmanuel's Government. Next we note the fourth feature of prophecy, "There shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation." This fits our topic exactly. We had already portrayed some of the troubles coming and their cause. Here we simply note their connection with the other parts of this prophecy. As world-wide education came as a result of the intermingling of peoples by interchange and traffic and aroused ambition, so the general education of the world is preparing it for the cataclysm of trouble. The world's greatest blessing—knowledge—is becoming its greatest bane. The education that should be bringing all mankind more peace, pleasure, joy, appreciation of the Creator and of each other is producing the reverse effect—discontent, which soon will reach its more aggravated form. Selfish ambition will soon work its own destruction. In view of these things, what is the Scripture counsel to the saintly and to the world in general? To the former it is, Have full confidence in God, and let patience have her perfect work; wait upon the Lord. Have confidence that his methods are best in every way. Seek the heavenly kingdom—seek to make your calling and election sure at the sacrifice of every earthly interest. To others who have some ear to hear, the message is, "Seek righteousness, seek meekness. It may be that ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger."— Zep 2:3.
TO JESUS ALWAYS
ALWAYS go to Jesus, When troubled or distressed; I always find a refuge When I with Him can rest.
I tell Him all my trials, I tell Him all my grief; And while my lips are speaking He gives my heart relief.
When full of dread forebodings, And flowing o'er with tears, He calms away my sorrows, And hushes all my fears.
He comprehends my weakness, The peril I am in, And He supplies the armor I need to vanquish sin.
When those are cold and faithless, Who once were fond and true, With careless hearts forsaking The old friends for the new, I turn to Him whose friendship knows neither change nor end: I always find in Jesus An ever faithful Friend.
I always go to Jesus; No matter when or where I seek His gracious presence, I'm sure to find Him there.
In time of joy and sorrow, Whate'er my need may be, I always go to Jesus, And Jesus comforts me.
These articles, written in 1909 for the OVERLAND MONTHLY, were on a most important
theme by Pastor Russell, of the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Pastor Russell was
widely known, both as a writer and speaker on homiletic themes.