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VOL. VIII. PITTSBURGH, PA., SEPTEMBER, 1886. NO. 1
Zion’s Watch Tower
HERALD OF CHRIST’S PRESENCE
C. T. RUSSELL, Editor and Publisher.
No. 40 Federal Street, Allegheny, Pa.
The Editor recognizes a responsibility to the Master, relative to what shall appear in these columns, which he cannot and does not cast aside; yet he should not be understood as endorsing every expression of correspondents, or of articles selected from other periodicals.
TERMS OF SUBSCRIPTION
TERMS:—Fifty cents a year, postage prepaid. You may send by Draft, P.O. Money Order, or Registered Letter, payable to C. T. RUSSELL.
Three shillings per year. Remit by Foreign Postal Money Order.
This paper will be sent free to any of the Lord’s poor who will send a card yearly requesting it. Freely we have received and freely we would give the truth. “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat—yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” And you that have it—”Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently—and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.”—
MILLENNIAL DAWN.—The First Thousand is exhausted and we are now mailing from the Second Thousand. For terms see last page. Any who have paid for the book at any time and have not yet received it, should advise us at once. We have filled all back orders for which we have the full addresses.
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VIEW FROM THE TOWER
Earthquakes of a physical character in Europe and America during the past two weeks have excited almost as much interest as the social earthquakes [the shakings by Anarchists, etc.] did a few months ago.
Since the subject of earthquakes was of sufficient importance for our great Teacher to specially mention, they are worthy of our notice also. Our Master, in referring to them, did not attempt by so doing, to arouse the fears of his holy followers, but on the contrary said, “Take care that ye be not alarmed, for these things must occur.” “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be in various places famines and earthquakes. Yet these are only a beginning of sorrows.”—Matt. 24:6-8. Diaglott.
Famines and earthquakes have in all ages given evidence that not only man but his home—the earth—is under the curse. And not only does mankind groan and travail in pain together until now, waiting for the new dispensation, but the earth also groans and quakes and travails to be delivered into the full and perfect Edenic condition, in which it will be a fit home for the restored, perfected race.
Our Lord well knew that these quakings of the earth, both physical and social, had been before his first advent, and that they would be frequent during the entire period between the first and second advents, and yet he mentions them among the notable things to be experienced in the transition period from the Gospel to the Millennial age: and so too with famines and pestilences. It seems evident, then, that our Lord’s reference is not to the common run of such calamities, but to some special and wonderful events. This is clearly marked by the account of this same discourse given by Luke; he gives some items not mentioned by Matthew and Mark. Luke (21:10-12) records it thus: “Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and great earthquakes shall be in different places, and famines, and pestilences, and frightful sights, and great signs shall there be from heaven. But before all these they shall lay their hands on you and persecute you.”
It certainly was not before a great earthquake that the Church began to suffer persecution, for a few days after Jesus uttered these words there was an earthquake (the day he died) and there was another when he arose. (Matt. 27:51-54 and 28:2.) We think the proper inference then is, that in connection with the quakings of society, the overturning of kingdoms (mountains in symbol) in this great “Day of Jehovah,” into which we have already entered, we may expect wars, pestilences, earthquakes, and famines, not as usual, not as heretofore, but to an extent never before known in earth’s history. All these things together combine to make “a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time,” “no, nor [thank God] ever shall be.” (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21.) And as for the earthquakes and famines, severe and wonderful as they will evidently be, the Master tells us, “These are [only] the beginning of sorrows,” the start of troubles much more intense.
We can readily imagine the effect of these “beginnings of sorrows” upon the people. Should famines no worse than have been known in the past, occur now, the people, used to bountiful harvests and great extravagance, would feel it terribly to die by the tens of thousands for the lack of the simplest food. And with the present mixture of intelligence with ignorance, among the masses, is it not surmisable that the famines would be charged in some way to Capital—to speculation, etc., by those whose store of learning is “a dangerous thing”? The tendency would be toward bread riots, class legislation, anarchy, and other falsely-supposed remedies and preventives, thus producing the social earthquakes and tidal waves.
Were earthquakes to occur in our day no more terrible than in the past, sixty thousand people might perish in six minutes as in the Lisbon earthquake, and the result would be to make Infidels and Atheists by the thousand among men. More free to think for themselves than in the past, more conversant with facts and less superstitious, and lacking information as to why evil was permitted, or misinformed regarding it, by the creeds and teachers of the nominal Church of to-day, and unable to see that these things are part of the one grand, stupendous plan for human restitution and everlasting happiness, of which the cross of Christ is the centre, many, very many, would doubtless conclude that there is no God and no hereafter, that nature is the only God, and evolution the only process of creation, etc. And being thus freed from the moral restraints and fears which now hold in check so many evil doers, the world will be ripe indeed for a time of worldwide trouble, of anarchy and crime, to which past ages furnish no parallel—slightly illustrated during the “Reign of Terror” in France.
And seeing that God hath appointed this “day of vengeance” in which to permit human effort to work itself out and prove its own inefficiency, and to demonstrate to them the necessity and wisdom of his laws and plans, what wonder if God has reserved many of the great changes of nature, with their attendant sorrows, for that same day of trouble, in which the increasing light of truth, instead of leading men to repentance and a recognition of the Lord, are because of hardness of heart leading to vain philosophies and self-conceit, which only a full course of discipline and an utter failure of those philosophies will make tractable preparing the way for the Kingdom of God.
We may be sure that great changes must take place in the climates and soils of the earth, before it will be “prepared,” as was the garden of Eden to be a fit home for perfect man. Cyclones, earthquakes, thunderbolts, and alternations of drouth and deluge, and of blizzards of cold and simoons of heat, are indications of the imperfection of earth; for the causes are doubtless natural, and very rarely indeed can we see them to be special dispensations of Providence. That God has the entire scope of his plan in all its details measured exactly, we cannot doubt, after learning the plan of the ages; hence we may know that earth must reach its perfection as the garden home of man by the close of the Millennial Age—when man’s trial being ended, it will be due time for all the willing and obedient to enjoy God’s favor to the utmost, when “there shall be no more curse” either upon man or upon the earth for his sake. And if this be true, how appropriate that great physical, as well as moral changes, should occur in this harvest or transition period, “the day of preparation,” that evil (catastrophy) may be ended, and that by streams breaking forth in the desert (Isa. 35:1,2,6), etc., the earth, like mankind her lord, may from a new plane go on gradually, progressively, to the fullest perfection in all respects, under the glorious reign of Messiah.
But amid all the troubles of this day, the saints should give ear to the Master’s words, “See that ye be not troubled, for all these things must come to pass.” The physical convulsions are as needful and as proper as the moral and social upheavals, and in order that our faith might be well founded and unshaken, God has provided us the strong meat of truth in due season. From the advanced standpoint now attainable, we can see the grand outlines of God’s plan, in which the “Day of Wrath” and its shaking are needful parts.
Thus advised, and leaning upon the strong arm of her Beloved the King, the little flock, the saints, the espoused Bride of the Lamb, may well be without the alarm and fear which will gradually become more and more general. Speaking for these members of the body of Christ, and concerning this very trouble, the Psalmist says:—
“God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble;
Therefore will not we fear
Though the earth be removed,
Though the mountains be carried
Into the midst of the sea,
Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with the swellings
This applies equally, whether the literal or symbolic or both, be understood as meant. We need not fear the revolutions and overturnings of governments at hand, for we are waiting for and expecting thus to see Messiah’s heavenly rule introduced. We need not fear or be troubled at literal earthquakes, or death in any form, since we are only waiting to finish our course, and realize that “Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord from henceforth.”
Thus armed and prepared, we may be without fear or carefulness as regards these things, and give the more earnest heed to our mission as laborers in the harvesting of the church, and to our part in the battle of this great day—the defence of the truth, the defence of the cross.
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EXTRACTS FROM INTERESTING LETTERS
Michigan, August 25, 1886.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: I have just finished reading Millennial Dawn the second time, and although the subjects treated were not new to me, but had been studied and digested before, I am delighted with the book, and have experienced great pleasure and profit, and feel like a giant refreshed with new wine, better prepared and equipped for the conflict.
One feature of the book that escaped my notice before, is the wise arrangement of the subjects, and the mild and gentle language used in contrasting the truth with error. Although these truths set forth so clearly, may still be rejected by the so-called great teachers in the
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nominal church it appears to me it would be impossible for any to take offence. The book is a production well worthy of a Master in Israel, one whose eyes had been anointed with eye-salve. The book will be “meat in due season” to all who are true followers of Christ. I will be anxiously looking for the issue of Vol. II.
I feel deeply obliged to you for any word of advice, encouragement or reproof by letter or in the TOWER. Reproof no doubt is what I need the most, will receive it as from the Lord. Shall feel deeply thankful to you at all times.
All my sympathy is with you in your labor of love. Yours in Christ, J. P.
Brooklyn, Aug. 23, 1886.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: Last evening as I sat home perusing the August TOWER, I noticed some articles of special interest, and it occurred to my mind that this number would be a good one to send around with my name on wrapper, and marked articles, to many of the members of the church I have left. So please send me 35 copies and charge to my account. I did think in the Spring that I would take but one copy, but now I think I must have three or four regularly. I give one, two or three away each month.
For the last two months these truths have been clearer to me as a whole, and I begin to realize (that is quite different from accepting or believing) the power of these truths.
The Millennial Dawn, two copies, came to hand last week, much to my satisfaction. The work, as a piece of manufacture, in clearness of type, fine paper, careful printing and neatness and beauty of binding, is very excellent.
I have only, as yet, had opportunity to glance over the chapter headings, but that glance affords much satisfaction, and next month I shall commence a careful study of these doctrines, which you here present in such clear and connected form.
I anticipate great profit from your work, which I cannot but feel that the blessed Lord has directed you in and revealed to you. I want two more of each of the coming volumes when out.
The TOWER has always much profitable reading in it, and I particularly like the “View” and “Interesting Letters.” That one in last TOWER from the gunner in India is excellent and very interesting. How he sees through the shams of worldly missionary life. These letters do me good and give me new ideas. I often feel that I do not amount to much, but “every little helps.”
I have given away but three Foods lately, but think they are profitably received. Am hoping for another Christian to ask me, to whom I gave a July TOWER with a few words.
One earnest Methodist associate has read a number of TOWERS and some in Food and is giving respectful consideration to the views. He is quite a student and a Bible class teacher of adults.
I have always had joy in the Lord, but as the years roll on I rejoice more and more, and realize the privilege of serving him as I can.
I do not expect you to answer my letter. With all your work, correspondence, etc., I wonder that you can get time for writing books, let alone answering occasional correspondents. With Christian regard, yours in hope, __________.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: I held a meeting at Bradford, Pa. on Sunday, and obtained four (4) subscriptions for the WATCH TOWER. I enclose herewith Post-office Order for $2.00 and names of the parties. They want me to hold it in a hall the next time. One party, a hardware merchant, proposes to raise $25.00 for the hall. This man who has become so deeply interested, has been a Free Thinker. Yours in the Lord, S. O. BLUNDEN.
Galt, Cal., July 31, 1886.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: I thank you again for all the tracts and papers received a short time since. I am constantly on the alert for opportunities to place them where they will accomplish most good. Each copy is given or sent with a fervent prayer, and not carelessly. There is much to remind us that this is the gleaning time; only a few scattered everywhere will accept the truth. How precious they are in God’s sight. Only the humble hungry ones, whose eyes are opened to see how vain all their pleas for God’s love according to Sectarianism are, can receive the truth. Some see a little at first, but when they find how much they must suffer if they go out of the “pews,” they cling to their creeds with some mental reservations.
Yours in Christian love, __________.
England, August 9, 1886.
MY DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: It is with unspeakable satisfaction I find the long-looked for “Millennial Dawn” announced in the TOWER for July, which has just reached me. I hasten to ask you to forward as many copies as you can for the enclosed amount.
I am sorry I cannot report any marked improvement in the work here, but every number of the TOWER encourages us to go on quietly doing what we can, leaving results, though we are thankful for some evidences of good being done. If men will not come right out, they confess we are right. Yes, the truth will sink into honest hearts, and we need not fear that all who have ears will hear. Your article this month (July) is especially opportune. You may be more advanced in America, but exactly the same is rapidly increasing here. If the Lord will may it please Him to use us to speak a word in season to those who are giving up truth along with error.
I must not trouble you with a long letter, as I know your time is well occupied. Your faith encourages us here. Bro. W. and myself and wife pray that the Master may continue to bless your labors. We know and realize fully that none but the Master could give the light we get upon his word through the TOWER.
We send loving greeting to yourself, Sister Russell, and all whom, though having not seen, we love for the Master’s sake.
Affectionately yours in Christ,
A. P. R__________.
Metcalfe Co., Ky., August 11, 1886.
DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER RUSSELL: Your dear WATCH TOWER seems to be an associated agent with the blessed Bible, sent forth into the world by the Holy Spirit to bring to us clearer knowledge of the plan of God. Many thanks for the chart, I appreciate it more than tongue can tell. I have not been well for some time, and have the chart on a screen where I can study it with “Food” as I lie upon my bed. I am trying to learn it so that I may be able to explain it to others. My interest in the Restitution is increasing. Oh! how I long for it to be proclaimed throughout the land that the dark clouds of ignorance and tradition be driven before the bright Star that is rising.
I love the WATCH TOWER more every day, and am willing to do anything in my power to circulate it more, or anything of a similar nature.
May the blessings of heaven rest upon you and your work in the Lord, is the prayer of one who remains,
Yours truly, M. E. S__________.
Uniontown, Pa., Sept. 2, 1886.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: Some time since I met Mr. __________, who told me of your work, and gave me a few of your teachings in regard to the Word. Now I am filled with a desire to know all. Am a Baptist-professing Christian, but I want the truth, and I will try to recognize it wherever I see it. Please send me a list of all publications that has been or is put out by ZION’S WATCH TOWER. I never have been so moved in mind as I have been within the last few months in regard to spiritual things. “FOOD” has opened much light to me, and I am hungering after the rest. I expect to do missionary work, or as I understand it better, colporteur work. I hope the Lord has some sphere in which I may cast my mite of work for his honor and glory. I am very poor in this world’s goods, but I want to buy as soon as I can all of your publications, including, if possible, the back numbers of the TOWER. God willing, I want to get down to the Bible class and other meetings in Allegheny. Yours truly for God and his glory, J. H. G__________.
DEAR BROTHER: I notice by my last TOWER that the first volume of “Millennial Dawn” is ready. I do not ask you to send it to me now, for I have not the ready money, but I expect to have it by the middle of next month, when I will send it. I write to ask you to reserve a copy by all means. I have not yet sent my subscription for the TOWER, but, dear brother, do not stop it. I could not do without it, nor can I do without “Millennial Dawn.” Next month, or sooner if I can get the money, I will send what I can, two or three dollars if possible. I must have them all. I can’t do without them. My mind craves the truth (spiritual food) as much as my worn-out body craves natural food. With lasting gratitude to you and Sister Russell for my present enjoyment of the glorious light now bursting upon the sleeping Christian, I sign myself,
Your Brother in Christ, __________.
A Swedish Brother writes:
DEAR BROTHER IN CHRIST: “Millennial Dawn,” which I received some time ago, I prize very highly, and nothing in the world would please me better than to see it in the hands of every professing Christian, and I think it would make real Christians out of many of them. I thank God and you that I have a copy of it.
Dear Brother, as far as human companionship is concerned, I am alone out here; but then I do not feel lonesome in the least, for I can truly say that Christ our Redeemer is my companion (in mind) a good deal of my waking time. And then again, I am often with you and Sister Russell (in mind) thinking and almost seeing you working away with might and main to prepare and send out the glad tidings of great joy, and by this means I do not feel lonesome after all. __________.
Amboy, Ohio, Aug. 26, 1886.
DEAR FRIEND: I embrace the first available opportunity to acknowledge the receipt of the “packets,” and also the “Millennial Dawn.” I have read it almost through, and consider it a wonderful production. It makes the truth so plain that I can hardly wait to finish the reading of it, feeling so desirous that somebody else should have it, for it seems to me they cannot fail to see the reasonableness and truthfulness of the subjects therein discussed. Yours in Christian love, F. E. R__________.
New Lisbon, O., August 24, 1886.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: Enclosed you will please find one dollar, for which you will please send me Vol. I, of “Millennial Dawn.” I have seen a copy of the book and am much pleased with its appearance externally and delighted with the contents so far as I was able to examine it. A few of us here are doing what we can to proclaim the glad tidings. The greatest opposition we find comes from the sources we least expected, that is from the churches. And those claiming to be the most advanced and most liberal seem to be the most bitter. I am not surprised at the action of the church of Ephesus in expelling those members who differed from them. Probably if they had kept quiet they could have remained in the church. That seems to be the rule of the “Disciples’ Church” here. I thank God to-day I am free from all such organizations, and I intend to speak out what I believe as I have opportunity, and to do all I can to advance the cause of the Master. Wishing you success, I remain, Your Brother in Christ,
W. F. F__________.
Easton, Pa., August 26, 1886.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: I am sure you are always pleased to hear from the little flock, still on account of your arduous duties I have heretofore refrained from writing, but can do so no longer. Bro. Blunden was with us last night and preached on The Restitution of all things. (Acts 3:21.) The number present was not as large as we could have wished, but they were much pleased. It is our intention to have Bro. B. preach for us each time he comes, (this was the second time) and some are becoming interested. I want to do all I can to bring them and others into this marvelous light of the Gospel. In compliance with your request, I herewith send the names of some whom I know are Bible students.
Yours in grace, F. P. G__________.
September 1, 1886.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: Will you send me four more copies of Millennial Dawn for the amount enclosed. When I loan them I ask my friends to read them carefully by chapters and in their regular order, and then to give me their opinion. At the same time I caution them, that if they do not critically examine the contents of the book as suggested, I shall not care for hearing their opinion, neither should I desire any criticisms based upon an imperfect understanding of portions read and examined disconnectedly, for the reason that such criticism would be entirely unworthy of consideration.
I would very much like to ascertain from honest, intelligent skeptics and infidels, their convictions regarding the existence of a supreme, intelligent Creator, and regarding the Bible as a divine revelation, after reading the whole book in the manner suggested. Also, I would like to ascertain from my unbigoted Christian brethren (of the household of faith) their convictions as to whether the character of our God, as demonstrated in these pages, is not such as to incite to greater reverence and veneration for him; and whether the plan of God, as the unfoldings of truth have revealed, and to which their attention is called in this volume, does not enable them to recognize these unfoldings to be in perfect harmony with his justice, wisdom, love and power, and to realize more clearly than ever before that the Bible is indeed God’s Word.
Will you please let me know how my account stands with the Z.W.T. Tract Fund? There will be no danger of my wanting to “sound a trumpet” (Matt. 6:2), for I know the amount must be shamefully small; but the reason I ask for the information is, because it has occurred to my mind that I ought to give at least no less than I used to give to the support of the sect to which I belonged. Indeed, we who have been helped out of Babylon, and thus freed from her shackles, ought not to forget how the truth first reached us, and we ought to do all in our power to have it reach others.
When we begin to count up the prejudices and errors that the Z.W.T. publications have been the means of divesting us of, and when we begin to reflect upon the liberty we have been called unto and enjoy, and upon the floods of heavenly light that have been pouring in upon our understandings, we look back and feel as though there had fallen from our eyes, as it had been scales. (Acts 9:18.) And as Paul done, so should we, for straightway he began to preach the truth he had received, and he increased in strength, confounding the Jews who dwelt at Damascus. So may we confound those who dwell in the cities (sects) of mystic Babylon. As the truth reached us, we have good reason to believe that it may yet reach others, and in the same manner. If we can not write it, or tell it, may we not by contributing our means thus aid you in publishing it, until it has reached all who have ears to hear, and brought them into the enjoyment of that liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free?
Still trusting in God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy, I remain, your brother in Christ. Grace be with you, and with all your fellow-laborers.
W. C. MACMILLAN.
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“WHEN you make a mistake, don’t look back at it long. Take the reason of the thing into your mind, and then look forward. Mistakes are lessons of wisdom. The past can not be changed. The future is yet in your power.”
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THE true Christian is like the sun, which pursues his noiseless track, and everywhere leaves the effect of his beams in a blessing upon the world around him.—Luther.
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A BRUISED REED
“Lord, all thy wondering saints have told
Thy faithfulness from years of old;
Yea and amen, thy word shall be,
Though flame devoureth land and sea,
That changeless word my trust I make,
‘A bruised reed he will not break.’
“When tempests sweep the noon-day sky
And bow the forests with a cry,
Though trembling in the rush I wait,
So weak, so lone, so desolate,
Sure shelter still this rock doth make,
‘A bruised reed he will not break.’
“When in the midnight gloom I fear
The nameless terror prowling near,
Out of the night’s immensity
This star of promise shines for me;
My refuge in this word I take,
‘The bruised reed he will not break.’
“A bruised reed! a worthless thing,
With every light breeze shivering!
By earth forgotten or unknown,
Yet sheltered by a heavenly throne,
His promise all my trust I make—
‘A bruised reed he will not break.'”
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“GOD IS LOVE”
1 JOHN 4:16
The Bible statement that God is love, and also its teaching that he is wise, just and almighty is very generally accepted by Christian people. Our ideas of the great Creator of the Universe admit of nothing short of perfection in each of these respects. But laying aside the Bible and its declarations as to God and his plans, what visible proofs have we of this character of love which the Bible ascribes to him.
Look about for a moment; creation everywhere speaks of God’s power and wisdom. We look at distant worlds and note the harmony and beauty of the entire arrangement; “Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no place nor language where their voice is not heard.” (Psa. 19:2.) They all declare with united voice, The great Creator is infinitely wise and almighty. If we look at the mountains and oceans of earth, they repeat the story of God’s wisdom and power. If we look at the insect and its wisdom and skill, or if we look at man, even in his fallen condition, we are forced to admit the wisdom and skill which have so perfectly adapted to their functions our various members; and thus again we are told of God’s wisdom and power.
In regard to the justice of God, we have one awfully impressive illustration which should, as God designs, last us to all eternity; and not us only, but all his intelligent creatures. This illustration is found in mankind itself. The aches and pains and sorrows which are associated with the great enemy death, which as a great monster has been swallowing up the race for six thousand years, speak to us of God’s justice; for we realize that we are sinners, and recognize the justice of his law which declares the just wages of sin to be death.
Hence, while groaning and travailing in pain together, and crying, O, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this state of bondage to corruption, we recognize the justness of our penalty, that the law which condemns us is holy, and just, and good; that the fault is with us, and that “just and right is he.” We wait for Jehovah’s favor, hoping for forgiveness, hoping that he will excuse our sin and receive us back into fellowship. But after waiting over four thousand years, we see that God’s justice was so great, so perfect, so unalterable, that even he, could not violate his own just law, but to clear the guilty he must provide a ransom—a corresponding price. Had not the justice of the Almighty been equaled by his wisdom in arrangement, sad and hopeless would man’s case have been. But wisdom had foreseen and a Redeemer was provided, who gave himself a ransom for all, on account of which all shall go free.
Ah, yes; we have abundant proof of the completeness of God’s justice as well as of his wisdom and power. But now let us look at the proofs of God’s love. What are they? Think them over. Can you not think of any proofs of God’s love? Surely those who claim that God is all love, and that his wisdom, power and justice are small in comparison to his love, should be able to give many proofs of it, many more than the few we have just given of his wisdom, power and justice. Will they not mention some of the proofs of God’s love?
Ah, says some one, I will mention the proofs: the rain, the sunshine, the heat and the cooling breeze, life, health and strength, are proofs of the love of God to men.
Nay, my brother, you err there; these are not proofs. He sendeth his rain upon the just and upon the unjust, and causeth the sun to shine upon the evil and the good. Life, health and strength are not found in our groaning and dying race, unless we use the words in a modified and accommodated sense. And then we find these inapplicable as proofs of God’s love; for the most healthy are oftenest the wicked, of whom it is declared: “God is angry with the wicked.”—Psa. 7:11.
Then again, what should we say of these proofs when we consider that the sun shines too hotly sometimes, and men are overcome by the heat. Are they overcome by the love of God? When the rains fall in torrents and cause immense destruction of life and property, is that a proof of the love of God? Who will say that there are proofs of the love of God about us, visible and tangible to the sense of mankind as the evidences we have of his wisdom, justice and power? Day after day, year after year, century after century, cyclones, tempests, hurricanes and earthquakes manifest power, but speak not of God’s love. Cholera, small pox, yellow fever, typhoid fever, scarlet fever, malaria, diphtheria, croup, consumption, dyspepsia, and a list too long to repeat, known to all by bitter experiences, weary watchings, and sad partings in death, surely these do not prove God’s love.
Notice one thing dear reader: all of these things do prove that God is not so overbalanced in love, that he cannot permit justice to thoroughly scourge the race of condemned sinners. And in the scourgings his justice and power are manifested, though his love, and often his wisdom, are yet veiled. Nevertheless all are there. These things prove that God’s love does not override and overthrow his justice, and surely blind must be the mind which sees in the dealings of God past and present, a God wholly love and devoid of justice. Lame indeed is the world’s hope if it depends upon God’s love to overthrow his just sentence against the race, and thus release from condemnation and death.
But again we ask, is there no evidence of God’s love—no proof? If so man’s case is hopeless. Justice could never clear those whom it had condemned as unworthy of life. Nor could it grant them another trial as though its present sentence were unjust. Is there no proof to corroborate the Apostle’s statement that “God is love?” Must we take it on blind faith, without a single proof?
Thank God, dear reader, there is one proof of God’s love, and it is so grand as to be overwhelmingly convincing to him that hath an ear to hear. That proof is Jesus. The fact that God sent his only begotten Son, that at so great a price God “redeemed us,” “bought us,” is proof of his love, beyond all question. Here we have the proof, the very proof that was in the Apostle’s mind when he wrote, God is love; for he declares
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again, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation [Greek, hilasmos, THE SATISFACTION] for our sins.” 1 John 4:10.
Though the Bible repeats over and over again that God is love, and promises that he will prove it by and by, only those who accept of the RANSOM as the expression of his love, and the central feature of the plan of salvation, can see any proof of God’s love. The more clearly we grasp the plan of which the cross, the ransom is the centre, the more truly we see light in God’s light, for this is the only manifestation or proof of God’s love yet given to the world.
The confidence of the saints in God’s love and care cannot be offered as proof to others; for it is such proof as faith alone can accept. By faith we see proofs of his love and care where others see just the opposite; we walk by faith and not by sight. By our faith we are enabled often to see love, care and providential blessing in adversity, tribulation, opposition and persecutions, and to realize as true, God’s assurance that all things good and bad are being overruled for good to us. Hence we see by faith in God’s promises what we cannot say has yet been demonstrated, except in the one instance mentioned, the gift of his Son to be our ransom price, and thus to become in due time our Deliverer.
The next age will DEMONSTRATE in a practical manner the love of God as fully and clearly as the past has demonstrated his other attributes; but as yet his love is entirely a subject for faith. A faith which is instructed out of God’s Word has for its foundation the Bible’s explanation of present circumstances, namely, that the disturbances of nature, (earthquakes, cyclones, etc.) as well as the ravages of death in various forms of disease, are all parts of the curse or death penalty to which our race became subject through the disobedience of our first representative in Eden. From that standpoint also, it looks out into the future with confidence and hope to the promised Restitution, vouched for by the RANSOM.
A faith to be able to appreciate the love of God must grasp God’s explanation of the justice of the curse, and must reach forward and grasp also the as yet unfulfilled assurance that the ransom given by our Lord fully met the obligations of the sinner, and that in consequence the curse shall be removed and be “no more,” and all the race shall be blessed when the due time shall come. On the contrary, the mind which sees in the catastrophes and curse of the past the love of God, and from these facts draws the inference that his love overbalances his justice, and concludes that he could not, in the exercise of his justice, blot out the willful sinner, because his love would hinder it, would compel him to violate his own decrees and just arrangements regarding the cutting off of willful sinners from life—that mind is in even a worse condition, and more blinded than that which believes that God inflicts these calamities, this “curse,” unjustly upon beings innocent of any fault in the matter; who claim that man never was perfect, never was tried, and never fell, but was created imperfect and then cursed and subjected to evil, that he might develop (evolve) greater perfection than God was able to give him in his creation.
How weak and foundationless both of these theories, when examined in the light of facts and God’s Word. Both contradict them, and furnish the only reasonable explanation, as well as the strongest imaginable ground for faith and love. Thus seen, God is love, God is just, God is wise, God is almighty. Oh, the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
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A WORD OF WARNING
We live in a time when it is considered discourteous, and a sign of narrowness and bigotry, for a speaker or writer to criticize the teachings of others, no matter how erroneous they may be. This common sentiment has grown out of an attempt on the part of the various Protestant denominations to effect an outward union, or at least an agreement not to antagonize each other, by ignoring doctrinal differences, instead of harmonizing them by an appeal to the Bible. And it has been nourished by independent thinkers both in right and wrong directions who have come to differ from their denominations, and yet because of sectarian popularity have desired to stay within the pale of the nominal church. These, when called to account, to defend their position, raise the cry of “bigotry” and “narrow-mindedness,” against those who attempt to call them to account for their deviation from their ordination vows to the sect under whose name and auspices they hold forth.
The worldly who predominate in every sect, favor the newer and so called liberal views, and those who hold firmly to a doctrine, true or false, fear the epithet, bigot, so much that they yield, and think and act as quietly as possible.
To such an extent is this true, that the leading pulpits of the leading sects are filled with men who though brilliant and able, not only act a lie regularly every week, (for they would not profess to believe or teach the doctrines of the sect they represent) but what is even worse, some of them do not even claim to believe the Bible, nor the plan of salvation therein set forth. They take a text from it as a matter of form and custom, but quote its statements in the same breath with quotations from Shakespeare with evidently the same ideas concerning the inspiration of both. They teach openly what others teach privately, that the plan of salvation is a step in a general process of evolution. They deny a fall from and loss of innocency and perfection, and life, on the part of a representative, Adam, and also the ransom of all from that loss, by the DEATH of Christ Jesus, man’s second representative. (Rom. 5:17-19. Matt. 18:11.) One of these openly declared to his congregation, “If you believe the old scheme of theology that men fell in Adam, then you have not any room to believe anything I am telling you and my preaching is idle.”
They thus construct out of evolution, or as they term it, progressive development, a new gospel, a new different hope from that which Jesus and the Apostles preached (1 Cor. 15:21,22. Heb. 2:9),
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—a salvation to be accomplished by a resurrection, and brought about by the death of Jesus a ransom for all.
Yet these utterances go almost unchallenged, because, first, “Orthodoxy,” so called, furnishes no clear cut, sharp, powerful arguments, among its various and clashing creeds, which could successfully meet these infidel heresies: and secondly, because these anti-scriptural evolutionary theories, are popular among the rich and cultured and fashionable, who constitute the “back-bone” of each denomination; and the opposer would in any event be considered a narrow-minded bigot, an obstructer of reform and progress.
We thank God for liberty of conscience, for freedom from the stake, for reform and progress in the study of his word, for ability to rightly divide its precious truths, and for the light now shining from it, exposing traditional errors and revealing the divine plans. But as for that Liberal Christianity now so popular, which counts the Christians of the world at 350,000,000 and includes in that number every shade of belief and unbelief in the Bible and out of the Bible, and confessedly “includes all the speckled and streaked” characters of christendom, thank God we have knowledge enough of his word to utterly repudiate it as opposed to his teachings. And he that by silence or action biddeth God speed to any error, or its advocates, is a partaker in the evil.
This same false sentiment prevails in religious journalism, though to a less degree, for the same reason. There are to-day numbers of journals whose doctrines, though moral, are like those above referred to—evolutionary and in opposition to the Scripture Gospel of a restoration from a FALLEN state by the payment of a ransom or corresponding price for all, in the death of our Lord Jesus.
We claim no liberty to deal with the personal affairs, or the private character, of any of our contemporary editors, but we do claim the fullest liberty to criticise their public teachings, and accord to them the same liberty. And while we would not harm them personally, but rather do them good, we will use our best endeavors to knock to pieces, and show up to God’s children their sophistries, and to expose the deceitful and ensnaring manner in which they would set aside the ransom and the cross of Christ, in its place leaving the idea that we are reconciled to God by our own death to sin, as they are pleased to call it—each upon his own daily cross.
To frame an argument, they say, Adam died to righteousness and Christ died to sin, and we become acceptable to God by following Christ’s example and dying to sin. Thus they form an argument which few can see the weakness of, because death is sometimes used in a figurative, as well as in a literal sense by the Apostles. If some of their readers enquire whether then they believe that Jesus was a sinner, that he could die to sin, as Adam died toward righteousness, they quickly quote the Scripture which declares that “In him was no sin,” and leave the argument there safely, because few can see through their sophistry; and thus they go over and over the same thing, admitting in one breath that Jesus had no sin in him, and claiming in the next that he died to sin in the same way that Adam died to righteousness, and that we should die to sin as he did.
We can scarcely believe that these teachers are deceived by their own sophistry, and unable to see that since in Jesus was no sin, his dying to it in
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any figurative sense would be a totally different figure from that of our death to sin; for in the sense in which we become dead to sin, we were alive or active in sin once. Consequently if Jesus never was alive in sin, he could not die to sin in the same sense that we may be said to die to, or cease to live in sin.
Suppose for argument’s sake we should admit their claim, and say that Adam died toward righteousness when he began to live in sin; it would surely imply that he was alive toward righteousness before he could die, or cease to live in that condition; and since our Lord Jesus was never alive in or toward sin, is it not evident to all that he could not die to sin in the same way Adam died to righteousness?—in the sense of leaving or abandoning it? Hence it is evident that such an argument instead of being logical is sophistical—a deceptive arrangement of words to convey a false idea and cause it to appear reasonable.
What then is the meaning of the statement of Rom. 6:10 “In that he died, he died unto sin once?” We answer, He did die for [or because of] sin once, not however metaphorically but actually, really and on a literal cross—as a sacrifice for or because of our sins. And when we realize the completeness of the price thus paid, and that in rising from death he did not take back that price, but was raised by the Father to a new nature, we are prepared to realize that we who were under the condemnation of death, are fully redeemed from that penalty, and that by a resurrection we will regain life. And realizing this now, by faith we may reckon ourselves as though we had passed through the ordeal which our Lord passed—as though we had died, and had then been made alive by God. (Rom. 6:11.)
As a matter of fact, the wages of sin is total extinction, but Christ having paid our penalty, has assured us a life from the dead. Thus, so far as we are concerned the effect is the same as though God had repented and remitted our penalty, and after having taken life from us according to his threat, had relented and restored us to being, and to his favor.
The effect, we say, is the same so far as we are concerned, but it has been accomplished in a just and righteous way on God’s part. God could not thus violate his own laws and decrees: to do so would indicate imperfection, change, vacillation, and injustice. But he gives us the same blessed results, and maintains the honor of his just law—Yea, says Paul, the just law of God is magnified, and shown as unalterable and grand, while his love and wisdom are also displayed by the method used in the recovery of the lost and condemned—through the ransom.
But says one, Do you not teach that it is the privilege of believers to present themselves living sacrifices, and to become dead with Christ? Yes, truly; it has been largely our aim and work to set before the Church her joyful privilege of filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ, and becoming dead with him, if she would live with him. This we have repeatedly shown to be the high-calling of the age just closing, a distinctive feature which marks and distinguishes this from the past and future ages and dispensations of God’s plan. We have shown it not only from the apostles’ words, but also from the types of the Jewish service. But we always claimed, and have proved repeatedly, from the apostles and the law, that all members of the Adamic race are sinners under the curse or penalty of sin—death—and imperfect and unacceptable before God. Our claim and proof has been that the ransom which our Lord Jesus gave for all men, provides a full release for all, from all that was lost through Adam’s sin; and that we who now accept it in this age, are reckoned of God as perfect and spotless, covered with the imputed righteousness of Christ as with a robe, and that BECAUSE of this justification, those who during the “accept-able time” presented themselves as sacrifices and became dead with him were accepted of the Father as the Bride and joint-heir of Christ Jesus our Lord.
And this it is, which our contemporaries have taken up, and they are attempting to make the sacrifice of each individual, the price of reconciliation with God, and Jesus’ sacrifice of no value except as it set an example of how all men should sacrifice and make themselves acceptable to God.
This, at very most, is what the Jews sought to do for over eighteen hundred years, and failed. They attempted to justify themselves and become holy and acceptable to God by works. And then what? do they place a higher standard upon sacrifices of the Church than we teach? Nay, verily, but a lower standard; for their claim is that in dying to sin it is the sins merely that they are crucifying. It is their sins and sinful desires that they place upon the altar before the Lord, but the stench is surely an abhorrence. Alas! this has ever been the tendency; the things which are condemned of God, the sins which they have no right to keep or indulge, these they place before the Lord and call it sacrificing. So Saul brought the flocks and herds he was commanded to kill; of these he would make a great sacrifice to the Lord, but they were not acceptable. So, too, the poor Jew would bring the Lord the blind and lame and weakly, but they were not acceptable. Cain did better even than this: not the weaknesses and imperfections did he attempt to offer to God, but his first fruits of the field, symbolic of good works. He was not acceptable, because, first of all, the lesson must be taught that a death was needful (typical of Jesus’ sacrifice) to redeem us and open up communication with God, so that our good works would be acceptable.
Our sacrifice must be one without blemish; not our filthiness and sins can we offer; we must be justified freely from all things and be “holy” through the cleansing that is in the blood of Christ, if we would be acceptable to God,” (Rom. 12:1) and then we may offer ourselves and be acceptable sacrifices.
But note again the inconsistency of their position: they claim that Christ is the example of how to thus die to sin; or, as they call it, sacrifice. Was he? did he put away his sins and offer them to God, if he had none? What inconsistency! what absurdity!
What, then, is our position? We answer: Sins and weaknesses, and the self-denial of things which are wrong, (sinful things) and which, therefore, we have no right to, were not at all a part of the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus, nor are they a part of our sacrifice, as his followers and imitators. His sacrifice consisted in self-denials of rights, privileges, comforts and liberties, in the service of God’s plan, and the crowning feature of all, and the end and completion of it all, was the surrender of existence, to which he had a perfect right, because in him was no sin. And so with the body of Christ, the little flock, who now unite in sacrifice and death with him, that they may share also in his glory and in dispensing to the world the blessings which his ransom-sacrifice made possible. They deny themselves lawful pleasures, liberties, etc., in the present life, and in death they lay down an existence to which, through Jesus’ ransom, they have a right. They lay down human nature and all its privileges forever, as the Master showed them, and have his assurance of awakening in his likeness, which is the express image of the Father’s person—the divine nature.
Thus the adversary seems to grasp and attempt to turn against the truth, every point of truth as it becomes due. Truly it has been said that he transforms himself into an angel of light [truth]. His methods vary but his principles are always the same; and since it is the children of light whom he seeks to stumble and ensnare, he selects the best of them that he can get to be his agents and to forward his cause.
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REPROVE, REBUKE, EXHORT
“Reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine; for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.” … “And of some have compassion, making a difference; and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire.” 2 Tim. 4:2,3,15-17; Jude 23,24
It is not our province to judge men’s hearts [motives]; we can judge only by their words of profession and their course of action; we must leave the rest to be revealed by the great Judge. Hence, when our fellow-creatures profess to desire the truth, we must always be ready to meet them and assist in the search, in the spirit of the Master, ready to give to every man a reason for the hope that is in us with meekness.
We believe that very many, even of those who, after having tasted and known the truth, and having appreciated and been sanctified by the “blood of the covenant” (Heb. 10:29), seem to reject the blood by denying the ransom, are merely blinded by the cunning sophistries which Satan constantly uses to deceive—himself, his agents, and his doctrines, being so clothed as messengers of light, and so wrapped in fragments of truth, as to deceive, if it were possible, the very elect. (2 Cor. 11:11-14.) Of these, the truly consecrated, earnest ones we believe, will surely be brought in contact with the antidote, or cure of the poisonous errors they have imbibed, and restored to the ROCK of salvation the ransom which God provided, which
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Jesus gave, and which all who will not perish in the second death, must climb upon and build upon.—John 3:15,36.
Our part must always be to be ready at all times to help such back; because we know not the willful rejecters from those merely deceived and ensnared. We, however, have the assurance that so far as the willful ones are concerned, all our efforts will be in vain; because “It is impossible to renew them again unto repentance.”—Heb. 6:4-6.
It is far from our desire to think of any fellow-creature as rebellious against God’s plans and methods, and rejecters of the one and only remedy for sin; but even as infinite wisdom and love, which provided the sacrifice and the resulting favor of everlasting life, has guarded it and arranged that only those who will
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accept it as provided shall have it, so we, as faithful ministers of God, must make plain the one condition upon which only seekers may have the gift of life. And as God states the fact that some, after being fully enlightened in this Gospel Age, as well as some in the Millennial Age, will reject the favor in the way it is offered (Heb. 6:4-6; 10:29-31,38,48,39; Rev. 20:9; Matt. 25:41), so, while hoping and believing that the number of willful rejecters will be small, we are “warning every man, and teaching every man, in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ.”—Col. 1:28,29.
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REASON AND FAITH
W. G. MONCRIEF.
“Come, now, and let us reason together.” Isa. 1:18
In the domain of religion there has been a persistent tendency to wrap everything in mystery, and to leave common sense on the outside of the boundary line. Terms in constant use, and universally understood, have been forbidden to carry their natural import in the region of what are usually called spiritual things, and any amount of classifying and defining has been employed to render that clear which needed no explanation. As a result, what in ordinary life is level to the humblest range of intellect has been confounded and darkened beyond all apprehension. The design of the teachers we may assume to have been good, but, alas! for those under their guidance; they have been landed in a maze.
Faith is one of the terms that has been so dealt with, till the very sound of it is a terror and a despair to many serious persons. It is a depth they cannot fathom—a mountain they cannot climb—a problem they cannot solve. They have heard it so frequently explained—professedly explained—till they grew stupid under the shower of theological verbiage, and perhaps fled from the subject and the term as something beyond their grasp, let the consequences come as they might. “Revelation!”—they mutter; “in our forlorn state, we have had darkness enough already!” So the blame is cast on the All-Merciful, and souls eager for truth and rest find none, because the obscurations of mortal instructors are substituted for heaven’s light in the human consciousness, and in the simple page of gospel truth.
Having made faith a mystery, Reason next has been authoritatively outlawed. The very word has grown into a bugbear. It savors of infidelity, atheism, impious conceit: in short, of every execrable odor. Confessedly reason is not a terror in the shop, the warehouse, the market-place, in the councils of the nation, at the bar, on the bench, or in the haunts of science and philosophy. But in religion!—beware of it as an enemy in ambush—a snake in the grass! Reason not! Have faith, only have faith; if, (it should be consistently added,) by any chance you can understand what the thing or the function is.
Certainly have faith as God enjoins, but whereby should reason be scorned and driven away from the camp? The two are not at variance in their office. They ought to be co-operators in the highest concerns appealing to man, as they are in every secular interest and pursuit. A faith without reason honors not God, nor is it worthy of an intelligent being. Faith divorced from reason as its ally, and support, and shield, is merely grovelling superstition, which ought to be shunned by us with inflexible purpose. There is a difference between them as there is between the hand and the mouth; but as these act conjointly, the hand feeding the mouth that the mouth may masticate the food for the nourishment of the body, so reason ministers to faith and faith profits by its counsels. When harmony between them is established, in accordance with the design of him who appointed each its post, and its duty, the human actor may be expected to acquire that sobriety of thought and steadiness of purpose which lead to success in whatever field he may employ his energies.
While the two, Reason and Faith, were intended by the Creator of man to co-operate in his history, the proper order of their action is, as we have just now placed them, reason first and then faith. In some way, or to some extent, faith presupposes the action of reason; and is maintained by its strength, as well as invigorated by its own exercise and experience. Were it not the antecedent, then the mind would believe and trust without a reason, or before it was supplied with such, which would reduce it to a position truly absurd and humiliating.
It does not accord with fact to assert that the reason or ground of faith must ever be valid, as we may say, a faith-warranting reason; for men often err in their inferences and judgments, and so the faith-power with which they are gifted is inevitably misled. In that case they believe when they should not believe, trust when they should not extend confidence.
Still the statement holds good that the natural and consistent order of the two functions is as we have described it, reason first, faith second. Reason, then, has a conspicuous part to fill. It is the guide of faith, as in a dark night one going with a lantern before a traveler shows him the road and the dangers to be avoided. Reason investigates, seeks for and weighs evidence, or warrant, and announces the result to faith. Faith merely receives the report, but, from its special character, makes no independent observations and inquiries. The responsibility for faith’s actions is entirely suspended on reason. The rational power may be led astray, and the being in whom the double process goes on loses, as in the reverse circumstances he gains, by the faith which the evidence-collecting faculty seemed to justify.
In ordinary affairs, let us now observe how the two, reason and faith, naturally co-operate, as by Divine arrangement they were formed to do. In describing their action in that region a sufficiently correct view of their respective functions and spheres can be exhibited, and one more likely to impress and satisfy those who have small taste for metaphysical analysis and description. Our aim is practical. We shall therefore try to make things as simple as possible, in order that what seems so important for every one to understand may be comprehended without an effort.
Here is a farmer, we shall suppose, who has a thousand dollars he wishes to deposit in a bank for safety, and at the current rate of interest. Safety in such a transaction is the main point to be considered; and to that end his reason must first be satisfied as to the stability of any particular institution before entrusting his money to its keeping, if he is to act like a man of sense and forethought. He inquires, he discovers how a certain bank is rated in public esteem, what value its stock carries in the market, what reputation its chief officials have earned for themselves, and if its dividends are punctually paid. These and other things being satisfactory to his mind, he feels warranted to trust the institution, through an exercise of reason; in other words, he has acquired faith in it, and accordingly the sum is delivered to its charge. Should he trust without investigation; that is, should he act without reason, the chances are that his property will be lost forever. The law of security is, reason first, and then faith in a man or in an institution. This co-operation of the two brings, so far as certainty can be attained in fragile, human affairs, the desired result. In the farmer’s case, that would be the preservation of his cash, or, which is the same thing in another form, he was sure of the interest when due, and sure also that his deposit would be returned to him on demand.
Be it considered that the man who loses his money by handing it over to a rotten institution sees it vanish like smoke, from no imperfection in his faith. He loses it simply because he had faith when there was nothing for it to rest upon. That was believed to be strong and reliable which was feeble and ready to perish, after the fashion of kindred swindles in years gone past.
Again, let us imagine one feeling so unwell that he deems it necessary to call in medical assistance for his relief. And who shall be summoned? is the proper question first to be considered. He has never been threatened with serious illness before, and knows little of the practitioners at hand except their names. Who among them has insight, skill and humanity? Who has triumphed often and remarkably at the sick bed? Our sufferer is so wise as to consult with his friends, and they provide him with facts, among them details gathered from their
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own experience. He considers, reasons with himself, finally concludes that a certain physician is the proper one for the occasion; a choice justified and rewarded by his speedy recovery. Here is intelligence, or reason, in co-operation with faith; and when they co-operate in this way all probabilities warrant expectation that if skill and medicine can avail in any given case the patient will be requited for his confidence in the physician engaged. Had our patient hastily entrusted himself to a practitioner of small discrimination and feeble resources, to a brainless bungler, in short, can we not in a moment anticipate the issues? The time would be lost, money would be lost, and, worst of all, the patient might in the end have lost his life. And why? because there was reliance without a proper basis for it. Reason was given to shelter him, but he acted unreasonably, and a tragedy ended his mistake.
Once more, be it noted that the man who trusts his case to the gifted physician is not saved by having a right sort of faith in his attendant, but by having faith in the right sort of a man so as to employ him in the hour of danger. He who commits himself to the mercy of a blunderer may unfortunately have equal faith in the incompetent as another has in a physician of distinguished merit; but his trust, his faith, happens to be in an incapable person, and that makes all the difference.
Is there any difficulty in comprehending in such a case, and in all like cases, the spheres and forces of reason and faith? We repeat, enlarging somewhat, when acting in concord and in their proper order, both minister to human welfare in terrestrial things. Each in its place is excellent, and when they are duly exercised, civilization presses forward, while social and friendly and domestic harmony abound. They are lofty endowments granted by the Creator to our kind, and may we doubt that he appointed them to be prized and called into activity without fear and without suspicion in all the conditions in which his intelligent offspring are placed?
Now let us ascend to the contemplation of Reason and Faith in the matter of religion, and more particularly of personal salvation. He that believeth, or has faith, shall be saved; and is it conceivable that anything appertaining to the specified condition can be enveloped in mystery, hard to be understood, at the least? That would be a reflection on him whose name is Love. Surely here, if anywhere, the Holy Spirit will utter words that the feeblest may comprehend. In other language, calls he not upon men to do towards God what they are doing every day towards each other? Men reason about and confide in one another, and we maintain that they are, being first profoundly awed, to reason about the Lord of mercy, and to trust him exactly in the same manner, though on infinitely surer grounds, because it is impossible for God to lie.
To step up closely to this vital point, let our minds be fixed on this delightful saying (John 3:16)—”God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” What has the reasoning self to do, when such an assurance falls on human ears? Believe, believe at once! and obtain the blessing, vast and unspeakable. But stop! The hearer may have questions to submit, questions in themselves fair and innocent. He may demand, first, What do the words mean?
That can be determined at once, if he will only take them in a simple, literal way. So dealt with, he may soon extract the idea, that the world of men is spoken of, in which he himself, being one of the number composing it, is certainly included. Then with as much facility he may understand that he and all the rest are exposed to perishing, to the loss of life and conscious being, for that is “the wages of sin.” To avert this terrible fate from the world, God even gave his only-begotten Son, gave him up to death, as other Scriptures with an excess of fulness blessedly confirm.
[In one sense the calamity of death is not averted; it has passed upon all our race, all are perished forever unless a ransom and recovery shall save them from (out of) that fate. God loved his justly condemned creatures so much that he provided their ransom. Nevertheless he has made their full recovery dependent upon their faith in and acceptance of the Redeemer. Whether in this age or the next (in which all shall be brought to a full knowledge of the truth) none will fully escape from death, from perishing, except by laying hold upon this Redeemer and his finished work, by faith, believing, trusting and obeying him. (Acts 3:23.) God gave his only begotten Son as our ransom, in order that “whosoever BELIEVETH IN HIM might not perish but have everlasting life.” All will perish who will not accept of Jesus’ finished work, the ransom sacrifice which he gave; but their perishing
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will be as a “second death,” because all must at some time be brought to a knowledge of this truth [the ransom] and must reject it, and the life (or escape from perishing), which it offers.—EDITOR OF TOWER.]
But our inquirer may insist on additional light. Is it true? Is it the beautiful dream of a self-deluded human enthusiast? Is it the invention of a fiend in mortal guise who would mark those conscious of guilt as they look out on despair? These and kindred queries he may lawfully advance. Reason suggests the need of inquiry, and the Almighty endowed him with reason to shield him from the assaults of imposition in whatever form it might appear. That which may and ought to appease his every demand is nigh him and level to his captivity. When reason is satisfied it will communicate with faith, but faith is under no obligation to accept even a gospel message till its verdict is known. The order is, reason first, and then faith. That he may discover how perfectly reliable he whose words have been transcribed is, let him consider that millions have found them true in their experience, and of transporting, transforming power. Let him candidly examine into the character of the Witness, and a marvelous Witness he will be found. Ever calm, ever truthful, ever self-sacrificing for the good of friend or stranger; ever devout, ever humble, ever the antagonist of oppression and cruelty, in fact, of sin, whatever shape it may assume; ever ready to exercise superhuman and resistless might to feed the hungry, to cure the diseased; sometimes employing it to recall the dead to the sweetness of life and the love of their friends. Near him the careworn find rest, and outcasts the tenderest pity. Then he may behold this Divine Benefactor expiring on a cross, then buried, then resurrected, as he had foretold he would be, and then in a few days carried aloft from the midst of his chosen attendants to the heavenly abodes. The witnesses who reported all this for the world’s benefit, afterwards resigned their lives rather than retract one syllable of their testimony to the Master whom they loved and adored.
The story an honest inquirer may very well admit is credible. It bears the impress of truth, it is sober as it is sublime. It embodies as its essence the vast love of their Creator for the tribes of mankind in every age and on every shore.
It is sad that so many will not use their reasoning talent in this correct and God-honoring way. If the plan we have suggested be adopted by any human brother, realizing his demerit as a sinner and wishing to live on through endless years, how can he remain in unbelief? He who accepts the glad news as a message from the Eternal King, with Jesus as its centre, and the fountain of its grace, shall find it to allay his dread as one deserving wrath, and open his lips in contrite praise. The gospel is thus a saving message because it reveals a Saviour and his salvation, free to all as is the light of morning, or the ocean of oxygen in which we have our being.
Many have sorely agitated themselves over the question, product of an ignorant theology, “Oh, have I saving faith?” Now, the truth is, he who accepts Jesus as a gift from God, just as he would receive a present from an earthly friend, has such faith simply because it is faith or trust in him who is the only Saviour. The virtue is in the Saviour, not in our faith in him. Then with the loving Redeemer alone let each of us be concerned now and ever. “Behold the Lamb of God!” Restitution.
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“NO MAN has any right to live on the toil of his neighbors; no man has any right to be a useless burden on others; no man, unless he be utterly base, will sit down at the feast of life and meanly rise up and go away without paying the reckoning. I need hardly pause to correct this abuse. I trust that all of us, of every rank, of every age, have learned the dignity of work, the innocence of work, the holiness of work. I trust that the very poorest person here present has a healthy scorn for the unworthy indolence of the drunkard, the idler and the tramp.”—Archdeacon Farrar.
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SEED TIME AND HARVEST
Order is heaven’s first law. And to those who have been brought to a knowledge of God’s wondrous plan, its orderly arrangement is in most striking contrast with the disorderly, confused ideas of God and his doings, entertained by the vast majority of Christians. As we now glance at the plan of God as a whole, we see its various appointed times and seasons, and the appointed work of each, and that all that was to be accomplished in the seasons now past, has been done in exact accordance with the prearranged plan.
Confining our observations to the Gospel age, we see that seed time and harvest each has its appointed place. And while it was out of place for any to attempt harvest work before harvest time, it is likewise a mistake to neglect harvest work in harvest time and give attention to seed sowing. Jesus taught the early disciples not to begin harvest work, the separation of wheat and tares, in the beginning of the age, but to wait until the time of harvest, saying, “Let both grow together until the harvest; and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, gather ye together first the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat together into my barn.”—Matt. 13:24-30.
While Jesus thus discouraged harvest work before the time, he thus declared that the time would come when harvest work would be in order; and he also pointed out the special work of that season, saying, “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:47.) In obedience to this expression of the Lord’s will, the Church has gone forth sowing the precious seed of truth, encouraged amid all the discouragements by the promise that “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy,” and that “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”—Psa. 126:5,6.
This work of seed sowing was to be one of the main features of the Church’s work until harvest time; and it was a most important one; for without it there could be no harvest. But when harvest time comes, seed sowing is no longer an important work. The work of harvest time is altogether different. It includes the gathering of the ripened grain and the clearing of the field of the tares, etc., preparatory to the seed sowing of the next season. The wheat of the Gospel age must be gathered into the barn, and the tares bound in bundles and burned in the fiery trouble that shall destroy all civil, social and ecclesiastical systems in this day of the Lord, thus to prepare the earth to receive the rightful King, and make it ready for the full establishment of the kingdom of God. We should not be surprised, therefore, when those who reject the plan of God array themselves in opposition to the harvesters.
Harvest time is the most busy time of all the year, and every member of the Church who is interested in the Lord’s work, should be on hand ready to engage in it to the full extent of his ability. The harvest time is a very brief period compared with the time for sowing. The sowing has progressed for nearly nineteen centuries; the seed has now been scattered among all nations, and some fruit should be expected in almost every quarter of the globe, and yet the time appointed for the harvest is only forty years—from 1874 to 1914. The harvesters should expect just what they find, only here a little and there a little wheat in the midst of a great mass of tares with which the whole field is overrun, and that comparatively small number must be sought out with great care; for it is of great value. And those who rightly estimate the real value of even one grain of wheat will find little reason for discouragement, even though their success be comparatively small.
When this harvest work is fully accomplished the seed sowing for another crop will begin, the harvest of which will be reaped in the end of the Millennial age. But as there is a period of a thousand years appointed for that work, there is now no special haste or reason why we should neglect the urgent duties of the harvest time to commence that work. And it is utterly useless to sow seed now with the expectation of its bearing fruit to be reaped in this harvest. The fruit which is now being gathered is the spiritual class, and none from the world are now invited to be of that class. Those who are of this wheat class however, may be urged to ripen and to make their calling and election sure, but the privileges and blessings now to be offered to the world, are of another order. It is now their privilege to take steps towards human perfection and eternal life, but they are not invited to a change of nature.
The duty of the present hour, then, is harvest work, and there is plenty of it in every direction, and the Lord of the harvest is present directing it. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels—messengers or missionaries. (Matt. 13:39.) And again it is written, “He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matt. 24:31.) The great sound of a trumpet here referred to, is the truth now proclaimed by the saints, the messengers (“angels”) of God. And as the time advances, the trumpet tones of truth wax louder and louder as one messenger after another receives and proclaims it, and by it the elect are being attracted and gathered. In the eyes of Babylon this is a marvelous work and a wonder; for while the wisdom of their wise men has perished, and the understanding of their prudent men is hid, the Lord’s missionaries or angels are gathering his elect, and Babylon looks on with surprise as she sees the separation going on and those whom she recognizes as true wheat, the most earnest and devoted Christians gathered out from her midst. Even thus it was predicted by the Prophet, “Behold I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder; for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.”—Isa. 29:14. It is the high privilege of every faithful child of God to be engaged in this harvest work with all his talents and powers. This is the great missionary work of the present, and blessed are all those who appreciate the privilege of engaging in it.
Some, failing to comprehend clearly the Lord’s plan and methods, which we endeavor to study and follow, seem inclined to think that those who believe this way are lacking both in the missionary spirit and effort. They do not see the mission work carried on in the usual way. They never hear through the TOWER of missionaries prepared in theological seminaries and sent out to India, China, South America, and other foreign fields; nor is there ever a call for money to support missionaries either at home or in foreign fields. There is no money asked for church buildings, nor are any built; none asked for the support of superannuated preachers, for freedmen’s aid fund, for church extension, nor for any part of the Lord’s work.
How is this? Are we really lacking in the missionary spirit? Have we who hold this truth no ambition or zeal to bear the good tidings to others? Have we wrapped the cloak of selfishness around us, and sat down to feast at the Lord’s table alone? These are plain questions, which each individually should apply to himself. But for the overcoming Church of Christ we can most emphatically give the above questions a negative answer. The Lord has his missionaries, his angels, at work on every hand, gathering his elect from the four winds (from every direction); from one end of heaven (the present religious heavens or ruling powers which shall pass away—the nominal church) to the other; from every branch of the nominal church. He who said, “If I were hungry I would not tell thee, for the world is mine and the fullness thereof. … I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds; for every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills” (Psa. 50:12,9,10), is able to carry on his great work without begging for funds either from the world or from his children. Neither will he compel his children to sacrifice anything in his service, nor will he accept anything from them short of a cheerful, free-will offering. Those who have covenanted to do this are expected to fulfill their promise—not, however, as a favor to God, but as a thank-offering for all his multiplied favors—our “reasonable service.” “Offer unto God thanksgiving, and pay thy vows unto the Most High.” (Psa. 50:14.) The Lord’s resources are infinite, and he can and will carry on his work, whether we appreciate our privilege of sharing in it or not. Those who do appreciate their privilege are willing to spend and be spent in the service, without money and without price, trusting in him who promised that the necessities of life should be sure to us until that life itself shall be laid down in his service.
Many may have overlooked the wonderful and varied ways and means which God is employing in this harvest work; in fact, only those who are watchmen upon the Towers of Zion can see it. But come up into the Tower, and look out over the field (the world) and see how grandly the Lord of the harvest is conducting the work. He wants a missionary to do some reaping in India—he does not first form a missionary society in America, and call upon all the congregations of Babylon for funds, and exhort them to be liberal (as the prince of this world hath prospered them), and not try to cheat the Lord, and suggest to them that if they cannot get the money in any other way, to get up a fair, or grab-game—or anything to get the money, for India must have a missionary, as the people are dying in Christless despair at the rate of a hundred thousand a day. And he does not tell the missionary that when he goes he must have a salary of three thousand a year, and his house-rent, servants, and private carriage additional, for his talents
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in the service are worth at least that much; or if his talents are humbler, a smaller salary will do, if supplemented by some other advantages. He does not erect a church building there, and invite a talented man to come and make a reputation and attract the people. No; that is Babylon’s way of doing it, but it is not the Lord’s way. The Lord shows his truth to a humble soldier in the British navy, and his heart is filled with a zeal to tell it to others. The Lord then sends him to India at the expense of the British Government, and gives him abundant leisure to herald the good news there, to strengthen and establish some in the faith, and from there to write letters and scatter printed matter in other distant parts. Thus the trumpet tones of present truth—the Seventh Trumpet—are sounded in India, and we may be sure that in due time it will reach, through this or some other means, every saint in India who is worthy to be gathered with the elect. And so several sailors are bearing the good news to distant parts, and through them saints are being gathered, cheered and comforted. One occasionally finds his way to South America, again to Australia, and again to England, always watching for opportunities for harvest work. Through the efforts of another of the Lord’s missionaries the truth reached some of the saints in China, who rejoice in its light. The Lord wanted to gather some saints in Sweden, and he raised up some earnest Swedes in this country, who by private letters and translations communicate the good tidings to other Swedish saints. And so with the Germans. We notice also that where the seed-sowing has been most bountiful, and the largest harvest should naturally be expected, there the greatest efforts are being put forth. The most favored portion of the field seems to be this country, and next to it, Great Britain. Thus through the press, by private correspondence, by traveling brethren, and by the special efforts of those whose sphere is more limited, the Lord is carrying on his great harvest work. He is sending forth these reapers with a great sound of a trumpet, to gather his elect together.
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Others do not heed the sound, and consequently are not gathered. Every one gathered helps to gather others, and by-and-by so many as endure firm unto the end shall be glorified together; and then we shall see our Lord as he is, for we shall be like him. No special fund is called for to support these missionaries: for the love of the truth they go forth to make it known, without money and without price, laboring with their hands, or in whatever way they can to secure the necessities of life while in the service, and looking for the present reward of persecution, while they keep their eye fixed on the eternal reward of glory, honor and immortality promised.
The Lord has no special use now for a fund for superannuated preachers; for the covenant of the saints admits of no such condition. Our service is to be unto death. In fact, some of the preachers who regarded themselves as worn out when in the nominal church, now begin to buckle on the armor and renew their efforts in the service of the truth. The work for the freedmen can safely stand until the harvest is over. The church extension fund called for in Babylon, is no part of our work, being merely an effort to extend the influence of Babylon by multiplying church buildings and influence. The Bible Society fund is not now a necessary part of our work since millions of Bibles are now printed and published at low rates in every language. Let Babylon go on with this good work if she will, but the special work of the saints now, since the Bible is already in the hands of all classes, is to go to them and inquire, “Understandest thou what thou readest?” and to assist in removing the rubbish of tradition, and the cobwebs of superstition with which the Word of God has been made void and worse than meaningless.
OUR LIBERTY NOT AN OCCASION FOR THE FLESH
It will thus be seen that we are relieved from many of the burdens which we helped to bear when in the nominal church. In fact we are not compelled to bear any burdens; the Lord does not lay the responsibility of any part of his work upon us, but it is our privilege to assume just as much of the responsibility as we can bear, and to labor to accomplish it to His glory. But when we are freed from Babylon will God be honored by our giving our influence and support to the enterprises of that abandoned and decaying system—to its missionary work, its church extension, etc., etc.? We should consider in the first place that Babylon’s missionaries cannot carry any better tidings than they possess. If their doctrine is that death, the wages of sin is not destruction, but eternal life under the most exquisite torture and torment, physical or mental, or both, then that is what they teach; if they disbelieve the glorious doctrine of the restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began, and which is secured to all mankind as the result of the ransom, then they will not teach it. And so with all the errors they hold, and the truths they ignore. And to the extent that our eyes have been opened to behold the wondrous things of God’s law, and consequently to see the gross ignorance and willful stupidity of Babylon, and her determined opposition to the truth, we see that these enterprises are not what they purport to be. True they teach morality, but that is not the gospel—the good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. True they declare that Jesus died to secure salvation for a few, and that is good as far as it goes, but from what, and to what, they are saved, and how, and why, and what the death of Christ had to do with it, no information is given, and both the teachers and the taught are alike in ignorance.
This is the great missionary work of the nominal church, in which thousands of dollars are expended annually. The only element of the gospel which is thus carried, is the bare fact of the grand central truth of Christianity, that Christ died for our sins. But this truth is so beclouded and covered by the many errors which go with it, as to render it almost void and meaningless. As Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Ye do make void the Word of God through your tradition,” so it is with the teaching of the nominal church to-day. But we rejoice that this glorious central truth of the Gospel, even though beclouded and covered, has now been testified to all nations. Had this truth been lost, the message carried could in no sense be termed good tidings. But because it has been so befogged and covered, few of those to whom it has been testified have yet been able to recognize it as good tidings. It should not be a matter of surprise then to any, when we say that we have no interest in the so-called missionary work of the nominal church, either home or foreign. Though much is said about the self-sacrificing missionaries who go to foreign lands to proclaim the Gospel to the poor heathen, and a great deal of money is called for to support the enterprise, we see that the whole enterprise and generally those now engaged in it, really lack the true missionary spirit. Ignoring the true gospel, they advocate the traditions of men, and in return receive from the various sects they serve a liberal financial support. (See letter in last TOWER, from Singapore, India.)
The funds above-named, called for annually in the nominal church, it will be observed, are not for the support of the local organizations. In addition to these yearly calls, come the other calls for the minister’s salary, for paying off debts and repairing the church building and furniture, for purchasing and repairing a grand organ, and paying an artistic choir, etc., etc.
Yes, the vast machinery of the nominal church requires money to run it, and, like an extravagant, expensive family, its expenses increase with its efforts to conform to the ideas and please the tastes of the world. But all of its current expenses, however extravagant and unnecessary, must be and are met and shared by the entire membership, even the poorest. The laboring man who, by hard toil and sweat of face, supplies the necessary wants of a young and helpless family, must conscientiously lay by a mite at least to help pay for the grand organ and the upholstered pews, fine carpet, etc., etc., because all this is represented as the Lord’s work.
But we recognize none of these things as any part of the Lord’s work. Not one of the ministers of the Lord’s truth though they are worthy of it, either asks or receives a salary; on the contrary while they preach they labor for support, and give what they can towards the necessities of the work. There are no debts to be paid on church buildings as none are contracted, and the little companies of consecrated ones gathered out here and there can easily gather from house to house or in inexpensive halls, to build themselves up in their most holy faith; and their public efforts are generally at well chosen out door places and in public halls and school houses or wherever they can best secure a hearing. The Sunday school with its library, summer excursions, and Christmas treats, etc., is no part of harvest work; and the duties towards the children are best performed by Christian parents in the home circle; and the choir, the grand organ, etc. are entirely superfluous.
Thus relieved from all these expensive superfluities, as well as many personal expenses which we formerly regarded as almost necessary, all the consecrated should carefully consider, what am I doing with the consecrated means in my possession? Once we conscientiously devoted a portion to the enterprises of the nominal church; what are we doing with it now? Is as much or more now being conscientiously turned into the channels of truth? Are we carefully watching for opportunities to invest the Lord’s money for his cause? Some are; but if any use their liberty for an occasion to the flesh, they are not overcoming. Let us see to it that with all our talents we are fully enlisted in the harvest work. Let us not be satisfied with the liberality
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we used when in Babylon; our present efforts should far exceed our efforts then in every way, both our personal efforts to preach the Gospel and also our financial efforts to extend the work. Are you spending more or less time, money, and effort, now to spread the “glad tidings of great joy” than you did before under fear, in spreading the bad mixture of error so dishonoring to God and confusing to his children. Much effort for the truth is now needed to offset if nothing more our previous efforts, which were largely against the truth, though we did it ignorantly. If we spent $25 a year then we should spend $50 now to get even, and as much more for a thank offering as we can. If we spent on an average one hour per day of time and effort in the fairs, suppers and socials of Babylon, we should under the stimulus of the truth be able to make it at least two now, for the upbuilding of the true “little flock” the Bride of Christ.
MRS. C. T. RUSSELL.
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THE LAW AND THE GOSPEL
“Jesus came preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying. … Repent ye and believe the gospel.”—Mark 1:14,15
When Moses came as the messenger of God, his message was the law of God, that the man which doeth these things shall live by them. (Rom. 10:5; Lev. 18:5.) But though it promised life on just and righteous conditions, yet because of man’s inability to comply with the conditions, that law which was ordained unto life was found to be the messenger of death. (Rom. 7:10.) Its sentence was, therefore, condemnation to death to every one who was under it, except the one man Christ Jesus, the only one able to keep it. And because Jesus did keep it perfectly, and therefore justly merited its reward of lasting life, and then freely gave that life a ransom for ours, the good news, the gospel now is, that though it is impossible for sinners to merit life by the keeping of the law, we may now have life as the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who purchased us with his own precious blood, and will in due time deliver all his purchased possession from the bondage and prison of death.
It was a precious gospel of salvation through a Redeemer and Saviour, that Jesus came preaching, and which he commissioned his disciples to preach. And yet, strange to say, though Israel had for centuries proved their inability to gain life by keeping the law, they were unbelieving and unwilling to accept of the favor of life purchased by the Redeemer. And what seems stranger still, is to find even to-day the professed disciples of Christ and teachers of the people, forgetful of the real commission to preach the glorious gospel and referring the people back to the law promising them life for the keeping of it. Yet they do not refer them to the law in its purity, but to the law degraded and dishonored by their traditions in an endeavor to bring it down to the capacity and tastes of fallen men.
Yes, they say, Love God and keep his commandments; remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy, etc. True, the law says the seventh day, but the first day will do just as well, because our traditions give that liberty. You may do all manner of work on the seventh day, but on the first day put on your fine clothes and deck yourself with jewels and go to church. True, the law prescribed rest, not only for yourself and family and the strangers within your gates, but also for your laboring beasts; but no matter, hitch up your span of fine horses and drive them as far as you please to church. True, the law says you must not do any work, not even kindle a fire on the Sabbath day; but no matter, let your servant stay at home, kindle as large a fire as she likes, and prepare a first-class dinner. Yes, be sure to remember the Sabbath day (?) to keep it holy (?).
Then honor thy father and thy mother; do not kill; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; do not covet, etc. But do not stop to look too deeply into the spirit of this law as magnified and explained by Jesus. (Matt. 5:20-48.) Take its meaning as conformed to popular ideas—its surface meaning—Morality. And “he that doeth these things shall live.” Yes that is what the Word says, but we will add a little more—he shall go to heaven when he dies, no matter if Jesus did say that “no man hath ascended up to heaven but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man” (John 3:13); and if the Scriptures do declare that the dead know not anything until the morning of the resurrection. (Eccl. 9:5, John 5:28.) These are not “our views.”
And so the glorious law of God, in reality so high that only a perfect man could possibly measure up to its requirements, is trailed in the dust by irreverent hands, and mixed with and made void by the traditions of men, until it is made to express merely the world’s crude ideas of morality, and then it is called the “Gospel” and “Christianity,” and men are taught to hope for salvation in it. Along with it is borne the epitomized gospel that Jesus Christ by the grace of God tasted death for every man (Heb. 2:9); but not one in a thousand sees what that has to do with it. The principle thing when a man comes to die is to make it out a clear case that he was good (moral) enough to go to heaven. And this is the secret of the general habit of extolling, and often greatly overestimating the commendable traits of character of the deceased.
Thus the world’s crude idea of outward morality, is made to take the place of Christianity; works to take the place of faith; and the law, defiled and degraded to take the place of the glorious gospel of redemption from the curse—a gift of God.
From the pulpit of the Nominal Church to-day the preaching of the cross-redemption through the precious blood of Christ and salvation through faith in his blood, and the reward of those who faithfully take up the cross and follow him—is almost entirely eliminated, especially in the cities where the worldly element more largely predominates, and worldly ideas are more thoroughly engrafted. The pulpits of to-day are given almost entirely to the discussion of popular subjects in which the world at large is interested, and that too from the world’s standpoint, and never from the standpoint of prophecy and the outworking of God’s great plan of the ages. The troubles between Capital and Labor are discussed from no other than a human standpoint, so also the temperance question, the Chinese question, the kind of amusements suitable for young people, and various flippant sensational topics calculated to allure and attract the multitudes and imprison them in a grand temple of fashion, to hear a miserable hash of mingled tradition and nonsense, on the only day of the week in which they are granted a little immunity from toil and care, and might otherwise enjoy God’s free fresh air, and draw some precious lessons from his great book of nature.
All these are called “live topics,” and this, “practical preaching:” but is it the gospel which Jesus and the Apostles preached? Is it the gospel for which the devout and faithful Stephen was stoned to death? for which Paul suffered stripes, imprisonment, shipwreck, and finally a martyr’s death? for which John was exiled to the isle of Patmos? for which the saints have suffered martyrdom? for which Luther went at the risk of life to the diet at Worms singing, “A strong fortress is our God,” was it for preaching a gospel of good works and morality that he suffered? Ah no! the preaching of the cross is to the worldly wise of to-day foolishness, and is coming to seem more and more so every year.
There is a wide difference between the mere moralist and the Christian. A Christian is, of course, moral, but he is more; his every-day life is a continuous effort to pattern after the character of his Lord, not only outwardly, but in the molding and fashioning of the thoughts; his one business of life which takes precedence of all others, is the preaching of the coming kingdom of God, and the redemption of all through the precious blood of Christ. He will not be able, under present inherited disabilities and disadvantages, to make his walk an absolutely exact facsimile of that of his Lord, but his constant effort to do so will be apparent.
Mere morality bears no such distinguishing features, yet it is good to whatsoever extent it exists, except when used
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as sheep’s clothing for a wolf character; and the sooner such characters are unmasked the better. Morality is always a part of the Christian character, though the heathen world outside of the influence of Christianity is not without its moral, philanthropic and benevolent characters. And wherever these exist apart from the influence of Christianity they are traces of the original perfection and glory of humanity not yet effaced, and the results of commendable individual striving against the downward current of the fallen nature, even though many such have blindly striven in the dark.
Realizing the present dearth of truth, and seeing that the waters of truth in the channels where most generally expected, are well nigh dried up, the duty and privilege of those who hold the precious treasure becomes more and more apparent. Let your light shine and keep it constantly trimmed and brightly burning. Proclaim the glorious gospel of freedom from the curse of the law, from which all are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ who gave his life a ransom, a corresponding price for all, to be testified to all in due time. Show how the law was not set aside and ignored, but magnified and made honorable
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by having its claims and its penalty fully satisfied by the obedience and sacrifice of Christ Jesus before one of the fallen race could be liberated from its curse. And then on this sure (because just and righteous) foundation, show how the everlasting kingdom of God is to be established in the earth, in which the law of God will be forever honored and obeyed by the whole redeemed race. This is the gospel of great joy to all people. R. W.
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HOW FAR RESPONSIBLE?
To what extent we are responsible for a correct belief of the doctrines of Scripture, is a question of more than mere curiosity. Opposite views of some of these doctrines are held by those supposing themselves to be wholly consecrated to God’s will. That some are in error is evident, and an erroneous belief sometimes leads to a faulty life. It must be admitted that good men—fully consecrated men—have in the past held errors, as “eternal punishment,” “the Trinity,” etc., to be Bible doctrines. That some of these were very useful in the Master’s work, and acceptable to him in their lives, is not to be denied. At the same time, they were not permitted that glorious view of God’s character that those in the light now receive. Of his plan for the world’s salvation, that causes the hearts of his children now to throb with joy, they were in ignorance. While they preached a gospel, it was not the full gospel that is taught in Scripture, and now due to be understood by all the children of God. Many who in former years built on the true foundation, built much that must perish, and is even now falling to decay, or being burned with fire. (1 Cor. 3:11-15.) Yet if these stood ready, with open eyes and open ears, to receive light and knowledge as it was offered them, what more could be required? But no one to-day can place himself—in responsibility—alongside those who lived half a century ago. The light now shines so clearly, that all who will may see. The errors that were so long cherished as truth, are now shown to be errors. God has raised up men, and set them as watchmen to discover the light in his Word.
Whoever will, may avail himself of helps in Bible study that a few years ago were within reach of none. If the saints of the past, who were not permitted to see the glorious lustre of our favored day, had possessed half the advantages afforded us, they had gladly accepted the truth. We conclude, therefore, that when light is due, and when our Father has placed it within reach of his children, they are responsible for its acceptance. And all true children [saints] will accept the light. They will hunger and thirst for the truth, and search for it as for hid treasure. Its acquirement is their greatest wealth. Nor will they accept all new doctrine as truth, but test it by the written word, and reject whatever is not in harmony therewith. There are no deaf ears, no closed eyes, among them. The traditions of men that make void the word of God cannot retain a place in their hearts. “The law and the testimony” are their sources of light.
What, then, can be said of those claiming full consecration to the will of God, who are yet in darkness regarding his character and plan, “and going about to establish” a plan of their own? While we stand ready to extend the mantle of charity over all that ought to be covered, let us not be too willing to excuse that which God condemns. In God is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in darkness, we lie.—1 John 1:5-6.
S. T. TACKABURY.
[We believe that in this “harvest” every saint will be brought into contact with the truth—the light now due and now shining. It will test them and gather into oneness (Matt. 24:31) each one, as surely as the “harvest” in the Jewish age sought and found every “Israelite indeed” in whom was no guile. Let us not hinder, but advance, the work of separation of wheat from nominal professors. And while confident that no tares will be gathered, let us have confidence also in the Chief Reaper that not a grain of ripe wheat will be left ungarnered. We might, and do, err in our judgment as to which are wheat and which only the imitation, but the Chief Reaper knows the heart.—EDITOR.]
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A WORD FROM BROTHER ADAMSON
REGARDING MILLENNIAL DAWN
Brother Adamson desires us to lay before you the following message:—
“I have met with one and believe there are others who thought the “Dawn” could scarcely be newly suggestive on the subjects it treats. The person mentioned being a WATCH TOWER reader and familiar with the views of the author of “Dawn” is now, after examining a copy, very enthusiastic in its praise, and is introducing it to the attention of the best minds in this city and making sales.
I think there are other readers of the TOWER who will be glad to have their attention called very particularly to this book which they perhaps thought might be dispensed with because they are readers of the TOWER and therefore have in that form the author’s latest and brightest thoughts.
Such forget that while the province of the journal is to give the narrow view of what lies at our feet, next to us, the book form is needful to giving forth broad and comprehensive views. And all who take up the wonderful book we are commending will get the order and sweep of the broad view as against the necessarily more disconnected story as told in the various monthly issues of the TOWER.
I do not intend to “notice” the book, but believe competent critics will agree that none of the many books on Evidences of Christianity gives in such compact form and lucid phrase what Christians need to know and remember in this direction, as the opening chapters on Divine Revelation in Millennial Dawn.
In the important chapters on “The Kingdom of God” and “Kingdoms of this world,” there is the same masterly arrangement of the facts and calm deductions so far above the common idle speculation on these glorious themes.
I mention one more topic, Jehovah’s Day. Surely no other student of “last things” has seen as clearly and written as boldly yet truthfully and reverently on this theme, as the author of “Millennial Dawn.” Yet in the last chapter of his book, the author has given clearer pictures of the scenes and events of the Day of Wrath, and applied the Scriptures more pertinently as God’s illustrations, than in any other writings from his pen.
Every man of means who prizes the truth ought to buy a dozen or a hundred copies and sell or loan them. If you cannot preach publicly, you could not find a better substitute than copies of “Dawn” loaned to good minds. Here is a book no one need be ashamed to hand to the most polished or refined. If composition, breadth of thought and importance of subject are all considered, it is second to nothing on earth except alone the book of books.
J. B. ADAMSON.
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ANOTHER “CHOSEN VESSEL”
The following letter will, we know, be read with deep interest by you all. What do you think of it? What shall be done?—EDITOR.
New York, August 23, 1886.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: Truly the entrance of his Word giveth light! Your book, “Millennial Dawn,” has been used by God to so illumine his divine revelation that the glorious view seems to have left me like one in a trance. Trained, as I have been, in the most rigidly Calvinistic school of thought, my whole self naturally and quickly assumed the defensive as I caught the spirit of the book in its opening pages. But God had beyond all doubt, been preparing my mind and heart for the childlike reception of his truth. And laying aside all prejudice, preconceived notions, and “traditions of the elders,” I closeted myself for the greater part of three days with my Bible and “Dawn” and earnestly seeking, in prayer, the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit to lead me into all truth, I feasted upon the fat things and drank in the precious truth until I could almost say with Paul, “Whether in the body I cannot tell; or whether out of the body I cannot tell: God knoweth.”
I have long since become dissatisfied and disheartened concerning the clash and din of jarring discord among opposing creeds and rival sects composing the heterogeneous “mass of baptized profession”—each division, large or small, wresting the Scriptures to conform to its own particular phase of belief, causing the Word to appear so distorted that its divine Author would fail to recognize his own production.
But, blessed be God, the Scriptures in reality, cannot be broken, and however men may seem to pervert them to support their peculiar views, they remain unchanged and unchangeable—the Rock of Eternal truth! I praise God that he has made you instrumental in opening my eyes to behold the beautiful symmetry which the Word exhibits in the marvelous combination of its manifold and multiform parts, and in unstopping my ears to hear the delightful harmony which its many and varied notes produce when taken in their entirety.
I have, some time since, presented my body a living sacrifice unto God, and have been indeed a partaker of Christ’s sufferings.
I came here nearly a year since a young Presbyterian clergyman, longing to reach with the gospel message the tens and hundreds of thousands of people who are not reached by “the churches.” I came not knowing where my support was to come from, but was soon engaged to take charge of a “Mission.”
Having failed during the fall and winter to bring the “neglected classes” within the Mission building to hear the gospel, I began in May a more aggressive method, as indicated by the enclosed clipping. And for thus breaking away from the customary methods which had proved futile, and going out “into the streets and lanes of the cities,” I immediately lost caste with the Church and my ministerial brethren. The controllers of the Mission requested my withdrawal, and the committee from a large Presbyterian church in this city, who had engaged me to preach for them during this summer, waited upon me and requested me to release them from the agreement. They wanted not a man in their pulpit who had so little regard for his clerical dignity. Since which time I have been proclaiming what I believed to be the truth by preaching in the open air, and by the distribution of tracts and other religious literature, and by posting up bold-type Scripture texts on fences, telegraph poles, etc., through the city. I have received nothing in the way of support except what God has sent me in unexpected ways—enough to supply the “bread and water” for self and little family.
Now that I have received the truth as God has permitted you to present it to me, I long to proclaim it, and to give my whole time and attention to the work of spreading it abroad. Can you suggest ways and means? I am prepared to, and expect at the next opportunity to withdraw from all “ecclesiastical” connections.
The God of all grace bless you in your work and labor of love. Yours in glorious hope in Christ, __________.
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THE CANARY AND THE SPARROWS
“A story is told of a gentleman who had a beautiful singing canary. A friend wanted to try if he could teach his sparrows to sing by keeping the canary with them. He borrowed it, and placed it in the cage with his sparrows. Instead, however, of teaching them to sing, the poor bird got so timid among the strange birds that it stopped singing altogether, and did nothing but chirp like the sparrows. The owner then took it back; but still it would not sing. It then occurred to him to put it beside another canary, which sang well. This had the desired effect, and, regaining the old note, it sang as beautifully as ever. Many Christians go, like the canary, into the strange company and atmosphere of the worldlings, and consequently they not only do not teach the world to sing their happy, glorious note of praise, but they cannot sing the old songs of praise in a strange land themselves, and soon they learn the sorrowful note of the world. The best thing for such is to go back again into the more genial society of happy, rejoicing Christian saints, among whom they will soon learn to sing the glorious notes of praise again, making melody in their hearts.”