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VOL. XVII. OCTOBER 15, 1896. No. 20
Special Items……………………………… 238
View from the Watch Tower…………………… 239
Hope of Another Chance……………………… 240
Dr. Talmage’s Views With Comments
Questions of General Interest………………… 248
Solomon’s Wealth and Wisdom………………… 250
The Proverbs of Solomon……………………… 250
The Temple Which Solomon Built……………… 251
The Temple Dedicated………………………… 252
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THE SILVER QUESTION IN PROPHECY
Our Oct. 1st issue, devoted chiefly to the exposition of James 5:1-8, has had a very great demand. We printed twenty thousand copies, but they are nearly gone, orders are coming in for extras from one copy to two hundred, and the supply will soon be gone. If the orders continue, it is proposed to reset that article for a TOWER Extra and in it give the leading article of this issue—”Hope of a Second Chance.”
TRACTS IN FOREIGN LANGUAGES
Do not forget that we have plenty of foreign as well as plenty of English tracts and that sample copies for free distribution are sent in any quantity to all TOWER subscribers.
Our latest tracts are “Do the Scriptures Teach that Eternal Torment is the Wages of Sin?” translated into German (No. 34) and into Hollandish or Dutch (No. 33), and “Why are Ye the Last to Welcome Back the King,” translated into Swedish (No. 35).
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VIEW FROM THE TOWER
WE noted not long since that Hon. W. E. Gladstone had addressed a letter to the Pope, setting forth the claims of the Church of England to recognition as a sister Church to that of Rome and others styled “Catholic;” pointing out its claims to Apostolic succession through its bishops, and hence the validity of the ordinations of its clergy; and urging that such a recognition would greatly open the way to a reunion of Christendom. We pointed out at the time that this feature of the religious union would fail because, while the Book of Revelation clearly points out a federation of Protestants as the “Image,” it as clearly distinguishes between this “Image” and the original “Beast”—Papacy—while showing that they will be considerably in fellowship.—Rev. 13:15-17.
The Pope submitted the question to his advisors, and now gives forth as the final, infallible and never changeable decision of the Roman Church on this subject, in effect, that neither the Church of England nor the ordinations of her clerics can be recognized; that the only way back to the “Mother” is through repentance and conversion.
Here is a peculiar case: the daughter recognizes the mother, and the mother the daughter, and the whole world is witness to the family resemblance; but the mother dare not acknowledge the daughter for fear of criminating herself; for she and all the other daughters
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are illegitimate. Certainly: the true Church is a virgin, and the Church of Rome poses as the true, virgin Church of Christ.—Compare Rev. 17:5 and 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:27.
This decision will probably carry some “high-church” Episcopalians formally into Romanism, but it marks clearly the division between the two sides of the great “scroll” which is shortly to roll together.—Rev. 6:14; Isa. 34:4.
* * *
How fortunate for the humble that the Lord has given no earthly church patents! Each denomination would like to claim such divine favor. The Church of Rome has long claimed this exclusive patent right, and has supported the claim with other “great swelling words” and blasphemies, while overawing human judgment by the numbers of her ignorant devotees. The other systems were so inclined at first, but lately have contented themselves with the claim that God gives letters patent to all denominations which they recognize as “Evangelical” or “Orthodox;” i.e., all denominations professing to believe, (1) that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three in manifestation and yet “one in person, and equal in power and glory” (quite contrary both to reason and Scripture); (2) that eternal life is not a gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord, and immortality not a special prize to be sought after by faithful obedience, but, on the contrary, a natural quality appertaining to every man; in consequence of which (3) all who do not experience conversion to God before their death are hopelessly lost, and will be tormented forever.—Compare Rom. 2:7; 6:23; 1 Tim. 6:16; John 10:29; 13:16; 14:28.
Hence Protestants sometimes say, and often give the impression, that salvation is dependent upon membership
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in some church—Protestant, Roman, Greek, Armenian, or almost any other human organization. But it is seldom that we see anything so extreme as the following, clipped from the Detroit Weekly Tribune, July 15, ’96,—
“At the recent meeting of the Episcopal Division Convention of Maine the Rev. Arthur B. Papineau referred to Christians outside the Episcopal Church as ‘heathen.’ ‘We are the Catholic Church,’ he said, ‘opposed to Romanism on the one hand and Protestantism on the other. We must tell them that outside of this church there is no salvation.'”
Thanks be to God for the opening of our eyes by the eyesalve from his Word, by which we can see clearly that the one Church is not a human organization, nor in anywise dependent upon human organizations, either for ultimate salvation or for present spiritual sustenance. This one, true Church includes all who during this Gospel age, upon the basis or foundation of justification (through repentance, and faith in the precious blood of Christ), have made with God a covenant of full consecration, and who by God’s grace are seeking to perform that covenant. These are the “members in particular of the body of Christ”—the “jewels,” the “living stones,” the “royal priesthood.” Wherever they may be (within or outside of human organizations), “the Lord knoweth them that are his,” and calleth and leadeth forth his own sheep.—Rev. 18:4.
* * *
Taking note of the fact that earthly princes are not very generally supporting Papal claims, the Pope by a recent Encyclical has changed the order for prayers, and Romanists will no longer pray as formerly for princes. Instead, prayer will be offered for the liberty of the Church (of Rome) and for peace and union among Christian nations.
The full liberty of the Church of Rome would mean the liberty of the leopard beast (Rev. 13), and as of yore would mean no personal liberty, but a great destruction amongst the true sheep and lambs of the true Shepherd—the only Head and Lord of the one true Church.
* * *
The Roman Catholic Church, realizing that its influence in Hungary has of late been on the wane, and that religious as well as political independence are on the increase there, has decided to take steps to maintain and increase its hold upon the rights and liberties of the people. A Vienna journal, the Vaterland, publishes the programme proposed. We give a few of the points, as follows:—
Catholic Societies are to be formed. The religious teachers in the colleges are to be watched that they establish the students in the Roman Catholic faith. Secular teachers must see that their teachings are in the spirit of Catholicism, and the bishops are to insist upon the right (?) of selecting secular as well as religious textbooks. Newspapers favorable to Roman Catholicism are to be started and patronized, and bishops shall oversee with greater diligence the morals and habits of the lower clergy.
The European press professes to see in this a stern battle; believing that the liberal and patriotic Hungarians will resist the more heroically. The Frankfurter Zeitung, a usually careful and well informed journal, says:—
“Strictly to carry out the injunctions of this decree would divide Hungary into two camps engaged in a life-and-death struggle with each other; namely, a Catholic-Rumanian party and a Hungarian-Protestant party. Every single item in the decree is fraught with danger to the state and to Protestantism in Hungary. Even that point which seems the most harmless, namely, the injunction that bishops are to watch over the lives and morals of their priests, means much for Hungary. Clerical fanaticism has hitherto not been thriving very noticeably in Hungary, because the priests have heretofore not been hindered by their liberal congregations from living with their wives and children. Cases are known where Catholic priests have not hesitated to appear on the streets with their wives and children, and no particular offense was taken.”
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HOPE OF ANOTHER CHANCE
EXTRACTS FROM DR. TALMAGE’S SERMON AT
WASHINGTON CITY, AUG. 9, ’96, WITH COMMENTS.
“IF the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.”—Eccl. 11:3.
“There is a hovering hope in the minds of a vast multitude of people that there will be an opportunity in the next world of correcting the mistakes of this. The object of my sermon is to show you that common sense declares with the text that such an expectation is chimerical. ‘If the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.’
(1) “There are those who say that if the impenitent and unforgiven man enters the next world and sees the disaster, as a result of that disaster he will turn, the distress the cause of his reformation; but we have ten thousand instances all around about us of people who have done wrong and disaster suddenly came upon them—did the disaster heal them? No, they went on. There is a man flung of dissipations. His nerves are all a jangle. From crown of head to sole of foot he is one aching, rasping, crucifying torture. Where is he? He is in hell on earth. Does it stop him? Ah! no.
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After a while delirium tremens pours out upon his pillow a whole jungle of hissing reptiles. His screams horrify the neighbors as he dashes out of bed crying: ‘Take these things off me!’ He is drinking down the comfort of his family, the education of his children, their prospects for this life and perhaps their prospects for the life to come. Pale and convalescent he sits up. Physician says to him: ‘Now, my good fellow, I am going to have a plain talk with you. If you ever have an attack of this kind again you will die. I can’t save you, and all the doctors in creation can’t save you.’ The patient gets up, starts out, goes the same round of dissipation and is down again; but this time medicines do not touch his case. Consultations of physicians say there is no hope. Death ends the scene.
“Pain does not reform. Suffering does not cure. What is true in regard to one sin is true in regard to all sins, and yet men are expecting in the next life there will be opportunity for purgatorial regeneration. Take up the printed reports of the prisons of the United States and find that the vast majority of the criminals were there before, some for two times, three times, four times, six times. Punished again and again, but they go right on. Millions of incidents and instances working the other way, and yet men think that in the next world punishment will work out for them salvable effects. Why, you and I cannot imagine any worse torture from another world than we have seen men in in this world, and without any salutary consequence.
(2)”Furthermore, the prospect of reformation in another world is more improbable than here. Do you not realize the fact that a man starts in this world with the innocence of infancy? In the other case, starting in the other world, he starts with the accumulated bad habits of a lifetime. Is it not to be expected that you could build a better ship out of new timber than out of an old hulk that has been ground up in the breakers? If starting with comparative innocency the man does not become godly, is it possible that starting with sin
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a seraph can be evoluted? Is there not more prospect that a sculptor will make a finer statue out of a block of pure, white Parian marble than out of a black rock that has been cracked and twisted and split and scarred with the storms of a half century?
“‘But,’ say some people, ‘we ought to have another chance in the next world because our life here is so very brief.’
(3) “My friends, do you know what made the ancient deluge a necessity? It was the longevity of the antediluvians. They were worse in the second century than in the first, and worse when they got three hundred years old, and worse at four hundred, and worse at five hundred, and worse at six hundred, and worse at eight hundred; until the world had to be washed and scoured and scrubbed and soaked and sunk and anchored a whole month under water before it was fit for decent people to live in. I have seen many pictures of old Time with his scythe to cut, but I never saw any picture of Time with a chest of medicines to heal.
“If eight hundred years of life time could not cure the antediluvians of their iniquity, I undertake to say that all the ages of eternity would be only prolongation of depravity.
(4) “‘But,’ says some one, ‘in the next life the evil surroundings will be withdrawn, and good influences will be substituted, and hence, expurgation, sublimation, glorification.’ But you must remember that the righteous, all their sins forgiven, pass right up into a beatific state, not needing any other chance, that will leave all those who have never been forgiven, and who were impenitent, alone, alone! and where are the salvable influences to come from? Can it be that Dr. Duff, who spent his whole life in pointing the Hindoos to heaven, and Dr. Abeel, who spent his life in evangelizing China, and that Judson, who spent his life in preaching the gospel to Burmah—can it be expected that they will be sent down from some celestial missionary society to educate and to save those who wasted their earthly existence? No. We are told distinctly that all missionary and evangelistic influences will be ended forever, and the good, having passed up to their beatific state, all the morally bankrupt will be together; and where are the salvable influences to come from? Will a specked or bad apple put in a barrel of diseased apples make the other apples good? Will one who is down be able to lift others up?
“If a man in this world was surrounded with temptation, in the next world (all the righteous having passed up into the beatific state), the association will be more deteriorating, depreciating and down. You would not send a man to a cholera or yellow fever hospital for his health, and the great lazaretto of the future, in which are gathered the diseased and the plague-struck, will be a poor place for moral recovery.
“I wonder what is the curriculum in the College Inferno, where a man having been prepared by enough sin, enters and goes up from freshman of iniquity to sophomore of abomination, and on up, from sophomore to junior, and from junior to senior, and day of graduation comes, and the diploma is signed by Satan, the president, and all the professional demoniacs attest the fact that the candidate has been a sufficient time under their drill, and then enters heaven. Pandemonium, a preparatory school for celestial admission! Ah, my friends, while Satan and his cohorts have fitted a vast multitude for ruin, they never fitted one soul for happiness—never.
“You see this idea lifts this world from an unimportant way station to a platform of stupendous issues, and makes all eternity whirl around this hour. Oh, my soul! my soul! Only one trial, and all the preparation for that trial to be made in this world, or never made at all. Oh, my soul! my soul! You see this piles up all the emphasis and all the climaxes and all the destinies into this life. No other chance. Oh, how that intensifies the value and the importance of this chance. Alexander and his army used to come around a city and they would kindle a great light, with the understanding that as long as that light was burning the city might surrender, and all would be well, but if they let that light go out, then the battering rams would swing against the walls and there would come disaster and demolition. Oh, my friends, all you and I need to do to prepare for eternal safety is just to surrender to the King and Conqueror, Christ. Surrender hearts, surrender life, surrender everything. The great light keeps burning, light kindled by the wood of the Cross, light flaming up against the dark night of our sin and sorrow. Oh, let us surrender before the light goes out, and with it our last opportunity of making
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our peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
COMMENTS ON THE FOREGOING
We publish the foregoing, because, weak as it is, and easily answered by those who have in mind the Scripture teachings, it is nevertheless the strongest presentation of that side of the subject that has yet come under our observation; and we desire to give, for the benefit of the uninstructed, a proper answer to such reasonings.
First, then, that there may be no mistake, let us say that we fully endorse the statement that whoever hears the message of divine grace should make haste immediately to respond;—to accept justification by faith in the precious blood, and to present himself with every talent a living sacrifice in God’s service; and that there will never be another chance provided for any who have enjoyed a full chance in the present life and have despised it. But we cannot agree that Mr. Talmage or any other man is competent to decide which of mankind have had, and which have not had, a full opportunity. Only the appointed Judge is either authorized or capable of deciding this question.—John 5:22.
However, we can say nothing further in harmony with the discourse: on the contrary, we must condemn all of its reasonings as sophistical and wholly unscriptural.
The only excuse that can be offered for the selection of so mis-fit a text for such a subject, by a man of Mr. Talmage’s ability, is, that he felt that he must have some text, and this one came as near as any to be found in the Bible, which could be made in any degree to hint that the only chance for gaining everlasting life is the present life.
Those who will turn to the Scriptures and examine this text with its context will find nothing whatever to justify the interpretation given it by Mr. Talmage. Yet probably not one in a thousand of those who heard or read the discourse turned to and read the scripture cited as authority for all the weighty conclusions based on it. Alas! there is far too much confidence reposed in human teachers who frequently are far from faithful “oracles of God.”
(1) The text has not the remotest reference to human probation. There is nothing to indicate that it refers to mankind at all. It merely points out that we may know that inanimate things act under nature’s laws—clouds full of water drop it upon the earth; a tree, whichever way it falls, is powerless to change or move its position. If any lesson or comparison to man were instituted it would be that so man falls helpless in death, and that “there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Eccl. 9:10); but we see no comparison to man in the verse or its context.
The poor drunkard who finally becomes such a slave to his appetite that he loses all self-control, and battles in vain to regain his freedom, is used as a proof that experiences are not reformatory, whereas every person knows that some of the most valuable lessons we learn are lessons of experience, so that it has become a recognized proverb that “a burned child dreads the fire.” The fact is that morphine, opium, nicotine and other drugs obtain such a mastery over their subjects that often the latter weep and strive for freedom in vain, and would welcome gladly any deliverance,—Keely Cures, or what not?
All that can be said against such slaves of appetite the Apostle Paul declares to be true in some measure of all sinners. He says (Rom. 7:14-25): “For I know that in me (that is, in my [fallen] flesh) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me, but how to perform I find not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. … O wretched man that I am [as all by heredity are], who shall deliver me from this dead body [this body which my will cannot fully control, and with which there is a constant battle]?” Then comes the answer, that God has appointed Christ to be our deliverer—”I thank God [there is deliverance from this slavery] through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The fact then, attested by our experience and by God’s Word, is that we all are slaves of Satan, sin and death, and all need a Savior. We who have already found Christ as our Savior may well rejoice; but by what authority can we declare that his power to save, to deliver from Satan, sin and death is limited to the “few there be that find” the narrow way in the present age? Quite to the contrary, the Scriptures, while plainly declaring, “Blessed are your eyes, for they see,” declare none the less explicitly that the time is coming when all the sin-blinded eyes shall be opened; and that Christ, the true light, shall yet lighten “every man that cometh into the world.” (John 1:9.) The eye of faith thus grasps firmly the promises of God’s Word,—that the knowledge of the Lord shall yet fill the whole earth, that “all the families of the earth” shall ultimately be “blessed” with the knowledge of the “good tidings of great joy, which shall be unto
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all people,” “every creature,” even “those that are in their graves,” who shall come forth to hear it.
Moreover, the Scriptures explain how it comes that the majority of mankind are now blinded and deceived, saying, “The god of this world [Satan] hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Cor. 4:4.) And those whose eyes are not thus blinded by sin and superstition are alone the favored “drawn” by the Father to Christ. These, upon accepting Christ, are translated “out of darkness into his marvelous light.” This
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the Apostle expresses when addressing those whose eyes of understanding have been opened, saying, “That ye … may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge [mere human understanding].”—Eph. 3:18,19.
This special class now called, chosen, and found faithful, are called “God’s elect.” God is choosing them for a purpose,—a good purpose, a grand purpose, a holy purpose. He is not choosing this “little flock” to sit in glory and (as described by Jonathan Edwards) to look over the battlements of heaven and see the great mass of humanity in eternal torment and to praise God for their own deliverance from such a fate; but he is electing them in order that through them, with Christ Jesus, as the elect and foreordained “Seed of Abraham,” “all the families of the earth [shall] be blessed.”
The Apostle points out the very slaves of sin, mentioned by Mr. Talmage, groaning under the weight of the yoke which the great task-master, Sin, has imposed upon them, but, so far from seeing no hope for such, he declares, “The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now [not in despair and hopelessly, but] waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God [for their deliverance].” (Rom. 8:19,22.) The whole creation is not waiting intelligently, for “the god of this world has blinded their minds;” but they are ignorantly and blindly waiting, groaning and hoping for the “Golden age” and life elixirs of which the world’s poets have long sung; all of which hopes are far inferior to the wonderful Millennial blessings which God has promised shall be ushered in, when the elect number of the “royal priesthood,” the “sons of God,” now making their calling and election sure by conformity to the predestinated conditions of joint-heirship, shall have been “changed” and manifested in glory.—Rom. 8:29,17,18.
The Apostle distinctly states this, saying, “The creature itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.” That he does not here refer to the Church, the saints, but to mankind in general, is evident from the context; for he turns then to believers and declares, “And not only they [the world] but ourselves also [the elect Church—the seed of Abraham, through whom “they” are to be delivered, after “we” have been “glorified” as the sons of God, we,] which have the firstfruits of the spirit, even we groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption [the full recognition of our sonship], to wit, the redemption [deliverance] of our body”—the body of Christ, the Church, in the first resurrection.
Ah, yes! We agree that pain and punishment cannot lift men out of sin and reconcile them to God. It is for this very reason that a Savior was sent. If a law and obedience to it and punishments could have reformed mankind, no doubt God would have chosen that way. (Gal. 3:21.) But what the law could not do, and what pain and sorrow could not do (Rom. 8:3), God proposes to do through Christ. (Rom. 7:24,25.) He proposes a glorious deliverance—the binding of Satan (Rev. 20:2), the opening of the blind eyes (Isa. 29:18; 35:5) and the helping of all who will accept his grace back to all that was lost in Adam and redeemed by the Second Adam. (Luke 19:10.) It is for this purpose to give a universal blessed opportunity for life, that Christ died for all—redeemed all. It is for this purpose that the Kingdom of Heaven on earth has been promised, repeatedly, through the holy apostles and prophets—for which, as Christ’s joint-heirs, the Church of “overcomers” is being selected. (Matt. 6:10.) Under that Millennial Kingdom (whose kings and priests will be invisible) the deliverance of the groaning creation will be effected and the incorrigible destroyed in the second death.
(2) Mr. Talmage’s reasoning is strangely out of harmony with his Catechism, as well as his Bible, respecting the “innocency of infancy.” He seems to forget that all of Adam’s posterity are “born in sin and shapen in iniquity,” and “prone to sin as the sparks to fly upward.” He fails to take notice of prenatal influences upon character; and the Bible reference to it in the statement that by one man’s disobedience sin and its results entered the world (Rom. 5:12), and its approval of the human proverb, “The fathers ate a sour grape [of sin] and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” But Mr. Talmage and all other sensible people know that either depravity or weakness of character are born in every child; and that many criminals were so low-born that it is almost impossible for them to pursue a righteous course under the present Satan-blinded and sin-abounding conditions.
No, although purity and goodness should be cultivated from infancy, the hope of the world does not lie in the purity of infancy and the avoidance of sin; for then none would be saved.—”There is none righteous, no, not one.” The hope of humanity is in Christ—in what he did at Calvary in paying the ransom-price for the sins of the whole world; in what he is doing now in selecting the royal priesthood for the great future work of restitution, during the Millennium.—See Acts 3:19-21.
(3) Mr. Talmage argues truly that the Antediluvians were wicked, and that eight hundred years of experience did not make them clean from sin, but led to greater depravity. We agree that the course of sin has always been downward, and always will be. Noah’s preaching was not expected to avert the flood any more than Moses’ law was intended by God to deliver Israel
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from sin. As by the deeds of the law no flesh could be justified and saved, so by the preaching of Noah no flesh could be justified and saved. All the lessons of the past were intended to establish and enforce the fact that there is but one remedy for sin, the great sin-offering “finished” at Calvary. In the merit of that sacrifice Christ, the Redeemer, is fully authorized to begin the reign of Grace which shall not be powerless as was the reign of the Law; nor baneful as was the reign of sin and death, but mighty through God for the overthrow of the reign of Sin and Death, the deliverance of the groaning creation from their bondage, the blessing of “all the families of the earth” with the offer and opportunity of eternal life, and the final overthrow with “everlasting destruction” of all wilful sinners in the Second Death.
(4) Rejecting the Scriptural proposition, that the Church is being selected from the world for the purpose of blessing, instructing, ruling and judging the world during its Millennial “day of judgment,” Mr. Talmage assumes without any Scriptural warrant that the judgment of the world will end with this age with the coming of the Judge to the throne, and that then earth’s billions will be sentenced without having known that they were on trial or that there is hope for them (Eph. 2:12; 2 Cor. 4:4), and that then this great multitude will be given over to the instruction of Satan and his under demons. Not only is such a view unreasonable, but there is no Scripture to this effect, while there are many quite to the contrary,—showing that in the end of this age Satan shall be bound that “he may deceive the nations no more” for a thousand years; that then Christ and the glorified Church shall reign in righteousness, that “his reign shall be glorious” (Isa. 24:23) and shall witness the complete overthrow of sin and every enemy of righteousness; for Christ must “reign until he shall have put all enemies under his feet.” (1 Cor. 15:25-28.) The same lesson is also clearly taught in our Lord’s prayer: “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.” Where, then, is the basis for Mr. Talmage’s suggestion of a College Inferno of which Satan is the President and the under demons professors to have charge of the race? Truly, that would be a hopeless condition. But the Scriptures cited, and to be cited, prove that God’s plan is the reverse of this,—to take the race completely out of the hands of “the Prince of this world” and to place it in “the world to come” absolutely under the control of the Prince of Light, “the Lord, the righteous Judge,” who with his glorified Church will constitute a “Royal Priesthood,” prepared by trials and temptations to sympathize with and assist the poor, degraded but blood-bought race: to bless them with an accurate knowledge of the truth and “times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets.”—Acts 3:19-21.
But who are “the righteous” of whom Mr. Talmage speaks so confidently, saying,—”Remember that the righteous, all their sins forgiven, pass right up into a beatific state?” Who are these? Are they few or many? How came they to have their sins forgiven? These important questions are all passed over in silence by Mr. T. Not a mention in the sermon of the fact that all were sinners, and that the penalty of all was paid by Christ Jesus, our Redeemer, and that the only ones whose sins are blotted out are those who by faith in the great sacrifice, and repentance from sins, and consecration to God have been adopted into God’s family.
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But those whom he describes are Scripturally termed the “elect” Church, the royal priesthood, the approved heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ their Lord and Redeemer who will prove faithful unto death. These are those of whom the Lord spoke, saying,—”Fear not, little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” They are not the great multitudes of inconsistent professors, but the few known unto the Lord and dear to him as the apple of his eye, “a peculiar people, zealous of good works,” who lay down their lives in his service. (See Psa. 50:5; Mal. 3:17.) And if this be true, and if, as Mr. T. declares, all others are to be given over hopelessly to the care of devils, it is an awful, a more horrible thought probably than Mr. T. meant to convey.
Yet where is the escape from his dilemma of his own and not of Scriptural construction? Can any claim that sinners are saints, that bad people are good, that the unrighteous are righteous, that unbelievers are justified? Not more than one in ten of professing Christians will lay claim to the foregoing Scriptural description of the “righteous,”—those believing in Christ implicitly, fully consecrated to God’s service, and seeking to “walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.” How then, we ask, could we expect that the “little flock” that will “pass right up into a beatific state” will be more than a mere handful of the 1,500,000,000 now living or of the more than 50,000,000,000 that have died?
DR. TALMAGE’S DIFFERENT VIEW.
But Mr. Talmage can reason very differently about another chance for some, when he so desires! About two years ago he preached a sermon, published broadcast, in which he took the other side of the subject, but got equally far away from the true plan of God, the true gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He said in substance,—
I have no sympathy with the thought that a mere handful of humanity will be saved and that the vast host of our race will be lost. I have no share in the belief that our Lord Jesus Christ is going to suffer a
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crushing defeat, and that Satan is going to gain a victory by which he will carry off nearly all the spoils, and hell be peopled a thousand to one more than heaven. I believe that there will be a larger number saved than lost, and I will tell you how I reckon it. First, we have the fact that one half of our race dies in infancy. I hold that all of these will go to heaven because innocent of sin. Secondly, we know that a vast majority of the adult heathen have never seen “the true light,” have died in ignorance, and therefore will not be punished as intelligent wilful sinners, but will be saved. Thirdly, we have a large class whose mental acumen is insufficient, who are non compos mentis, including the insane, idiotic and simple, who could not be sent to eternal torment because of their misfortunes, and hence must also be taken to heaven. Thus the larger proportion of our race will reach heaven, and the few, comparatively, suffer eternal torment.
We will state our objections to this unscriptural theory, then proceed to contrast it with Mr. T’s latest deliverance, and finally show the Scriptural presentation in contrast with both; remarking by the way that Mr. Talmage, Presbyterian as he is, seems to have lost all of his Calvinistic theology, as he ignores entirely the distinction between elect and non-elect infants and heathen. We are glad to note this. But we object to
THIS GOSPEL OF SALVATION BY INNOCENCE
(1) It is not true that infants, idiots, etc., are innocent of sin, so that they would be salvable on account of innocence; for, although they have committed no wilful, personal sins, they are nevertheless members of the race of Adam and sharers in the condemnation of original sin. As it is written, “By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.” “By the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation.” “By one man’s offense death reigned [over all] “By one man [in whom all sinned] sin entered into the world and death by [as the result of] sin; and so death passed upon all men.”—Rom. 5:12,17,18,19.
This proposition being true, that none are innocent, but all are under condemnation, it follows that Mr. Talmage’s billions of infants, heathen, etc., can be no more justified by their ignorance than by their works. (Rom. 3:20.) There is only one way of escape from the “condemnation” that rests on the whole world; namely, by justification, through faith in the Redeemer and his sin-offering of himself. “There is no other name given under heaven or among men whereby we must be saved,” and the salvation is through knowledge, faith and obedience, and not through ignorance or incapacity or imperfect works. If Mr. T’s theory be correct, it is a great mistake on God’s part that all who are not idiots do not die in infancy; that thus all might get into heaven. According to this process of reasoning, the preaching of Christ, so far from being “good tidings,” is bad tidings; because if all died in ignorance, in heathenism, all would then be saved.
SAVAGES AND MANIACS TAKEN TO HEAVEN
(2) But we object to Mr. Talmage’s gospel on another score. If heaven were made the receptacle of the heathen, savages, barbarians, the idiotic, simple, insane and infants, it would cease to be heaven to a considerable extent, and become a pandemonium. Mr. T. will no doubt admit that the billions of ignorant, imbecile and degraded, whom he describes as the vast majority of the heavenly throng, have never formed characters, and that they will need to do so before they would be fit companions for saints whose characters are formed after the divine pattern. And since each infant, as it develops, will become a free moral agent, what assurance have we in this theory that after all several billions of these infants, heathen, etc., would not choose disobedience, sin, rather than obedience, righteousness, and raise up an insurrection in heaven worse than has ever been known on earth? Verily, if the plan presented in the Scriptures were not much more reasonable than this theory, we would have serious grounds for questioning its being the divine plan, which must surely display divine wisdom.
Should Mr. Talmage attempt to make his theory more reasonable by claiming that the billions of heathen, idiots, infants, etc., would be changed instantly and miraculously and made perfect beings, fit for heaven, we would object that if such were the divine plan, and if development of character by contact with trial and temptation were unimportant, it would impeach the divine wisdom and love and justice for having permitted six thousand years of sin and death and the loss thereby of some; for according to the theory we are criticizing all this was unnecessary—worse than useless. If Mr. T. were not yet convinced we would quote his text at the head of this article, “In the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be,” and applying it Scripturally would urge that it teaches that no change of character takes place in the grave. It is in agreement with the Scripture which declares, “There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” The earliest and only opportunity after death to gain knowledge and to form character will be when “All that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and come forth.”
Here, then, we have the two extremes of Mr. T’s view. (a) He assumes to decide that there can be only one chance of gaining everlasting life;—that all who do not enter the “strait gate” and walk the “narrow way” are hopelessly lost. (b) Yet remembering the Lord’s words, “Few there be that find it [the strait gate],” he next determines (contrary alike to reason and Scripture) that the vast majority (who do not get
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a proper chance in this life) must go to heaven, and get their chance there. Indeed, Mr. Talmage seems ready to claim that the free agency of the “vast majority” will be abrogated, and that the savages, idiots and infants will be declared “predestinated” and “elect” beyond their own power to dissent from or alter their conditions. What a medley! What incongruity! What inconsistency! A logician, following Mr. T., would pretty surely be led either to “Universalism” or to ignore the “redemption which is in Christ Jesus” and trust solely to his own righteousness. But now contrast
THE SCRIPTURAL PRESENTATION OF THE DIVINE PLAN
As we have already shown, the Scriptures clearly teach that all men are under divine condemnation, wholly irrespective of their own deeds: all were “born in sin,” all inherited our father Adam’s condemnation and share in the blight of sin and death which came upon him, and through him, by heredity, upon all men. “The fathers ate the sour grape [of sin], and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” (Rom. 5:12; Jer. 31:29; Ezek. 18:2,3.) None could get rid of this condemnation,—neither the Jew by his knowledge of the Law and possession of the oracles of God, nor the Gentile in his ignorance. (Rom. 3:9,10,19,23.) All were unworthy of eternal life; and the race as a whole had been in this pitiable condition for four thousand years, when God in great mercy had compassion on all and sent “a Savior, and a great one,” not of the Jew only, but also of the Gentile, who, until then, was left “without God, and having no hope.”—Isa. 19:20; Eph. 2:12.
The salvation contemplated in God’s plan was not merely a reform—a salvation from some of the evil consequences of the fall—but a salvation unto the uttermost, of all who come unto God by Christ. To make it comprehensive, available to all, Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man. He “gave
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himself a ransom [a corresponding price] for all, to be testified in due time.—Heb. 7:25; 2:9; 1 Tim. 2:5,6.
Thus the redemptive sacrifice is seen to have been for the benefit, not only of those living when it was made and their progeny since, but also for the billions who had previously died “without God and having no hope,”—all of whom went down into “sheol,” “hades;” the great prisonhouse of death;—everlasting death, everlasting destruction, and not everlasting torment,* being the wages of sin under the divine law. (Rom. 6:23; Gen. 2:17.) But it is one thing that the penalty for all mankind has been paid, life for life (Jesus’ life for Adam’s life—Rom. 5:12,17,18,19), and that Jehovah God has accepted that ransom price, and manifested his acceptance, both by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus from the dead and by the descent of the holy spirit at Pentecost (Rom. 1:4; Acts 2:33,34); quite another thing will be the salvation or deliverance from death of the redeemed ones,—the deliverance of the dead and dying creation from the bondage of corruption—the bondage of death as well as of sin.
*See WHAT SAY THE SCRIPTURES ABOUT HELL? 80 pp. 10 cents.
Hence the necessity for the second coming of our Savior. He came the first time as a sin-offering to pay our ransom price, and bought us with his own precious blood,—his life; but he comes a second time, not as a sin-offering, but “unto salvation,”—to save or deliver from sin and death all whom he redeemed at his first advent, or as many of them as shall wish for salvation upon his terms, when they shall be brought to “an accurate knowledge of the truth” “in due time.”
This salvation reaches no one until the end of the Gospel age, except “believers” who (in a reckoned sense) grasp “the hope of salvation” and anticipate it by faith. The apostles declare that we are “heirs of salvation,” and point us to the fact that it “shall be brought unto” us “at the revelation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” at his second advent; and tell us that “now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed,” and that meantime we are “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time.” (See Rom. 13:11; 1 Thes. 5:8; Heb. 1:14; 1 Pet. 1:5,13; Heb. 9:28.) The completion of
SALVATION IS CALLED “RESURRECTION”
—and thus is divided into two parts: “the first resurrection,” including our Lord Jesus and all the overcomers of this Gospel age, “members of his body,” is the chief, the highest, the most desirable; and none except the overcomers who have walked with their Lord in the narrow way of self-denial and suffering for righteousness’ sake can have part in it: it is a rising up to life upon the spirit plane, and can be attained only by those “made partakers of the divine nature.” (Rev. 20:6; 2 Pet. 1:4; Phil. 3:10,11.) These only are being called, chosen and proved during this Gospel age. These victors, the faithful, the “overcomers,” will constitute the Royal Priesthood after the order of Melchizedeck (of which the Lord Jesus is the Head or Chief Priest), which is to “reign on the earth” as God’s Kingdom, to order the affairs of men and bring to all the great salvation purchased by our Lord when he gave himself “a ransom for all.”—1 Pet. 2:9,10.
The salvation to be offered to the world in general is termed a “resurrection by judgment”—a rising up to the perfection of life through a judgment or disciplinary process during the Millennium. It includes mankind,—the so-called “living” (but really “dying,” of whom God speaks as “dead,” because the sentence of death stands against them until they accept Christ Jesus as their Savior) as well as “all that are in the
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graves” who “shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and come forth [—awaken from the sleep of Adamic death, which would have been an “eternal sleep” except for Christ’s sacrifice].” These billions will be “judged,” granted a trial, during the Millennium, and those found worthy of everlasting life will get it at the close of the Millennium, and all unworthy of it will be cut off from life in “the second death”—”everlasting destruction.”
The awakening from Adamic death will not be resurrection in the full sense; but rather a preparation for resurrection (Greek anastasis) which applies to all the steps to be taken upward toward perfection of life—the high plane from which all fell in Adam. As the little flock of this Gospel age passes reckonedly “from death unto life” by the acceptance of Christ, so all the world during the Millennium will be brought to a knowledge of God and Christ, but only those who accept Christ as their Savior, and the New Covenant with God through him, are reckoned as having any life (John 3:36); and with these it is only a beginning of the resurrection, or raising up process, which will not be perfected until the thousand years are finished.
It is a resurrection of judgment (i.e., by judgments); because reward and discipline will be the process by which the lessons of righteousness will be enforced and characters developed. The good physician, who so loved the sinners as to lay down his life for them, will be the Chief of the kings and priests who will instruct, govern, “judge” the world in righteousness; and this guarantees that everything will be done that can be done to help out of sin into righteousness and eternal life all who choose to seek life upon God’s terms.
But, although obedience to the laws of Christ’s Kingdom will be enforced, no man’s free moral agency will be interfered with: it will be true of those who then know of and fail to gain life, as it is true of some now, “Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life.” (John 5:40.) Those who will refuse to make any progress, or even to start, are mentioned by the prophet Isaiah (65:17-20) who, describing the Millennial condition, says, “The sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed [cut off from life],” though dying at that age he would be but as an infant. By complying with the laws of that time he might live at least to the close of the Millennial age.
Under the rule of that age—the reward of progress and deliverance from weaknesses, mental, physical and moral, will be given to the obedient, and “stripes,” reproofs, etc., will be inflicted for wrong doing and failure to progress. It is evident, therefore, that the close of the Millennium will not only find all men fully informed, and the knowledge of the Lord filling the whole earth and all outwardly obedient, but, as we might expect, it will find some who will have partially misused their opportunities, whose hearts, wills, will not be fully submitted to the Lord’s will; and the separation and destruction of these as “goats” from the others, “sheep,” is properly the last act of that Judgment age, as represented in Rev. 20:7-10.
“ALL THE WICKED WILL GOD DESTROY”
The whole population of the world will then be “as the sand of the sea,” and all will be subjected to a final test of loyalty to God. For a thousand years they will have had experiences in every way favorable, and, Satan being bound, they will have had no special temptations to disloyalty to God; and it will be but proper that a test of loyalty should be made which will manifest to all, which are at heart loyal to the Lord, and which are still selfish, self-willed and disloyal. That test will be crucial: no excuse or allowance can be made for any there, because all will then have had all the experience, knowledge and help which infinite wisdom and love have seen proper to provide;—all that could be of service in forming character. The result of this final trial will be the destruction of Satan and all who have any sympathy with sin, in the Second death—”everlasting destruction,” symbolically pictured as a “lake of fire and brimstone,” the antitype of the Valley of Hinnom (Gehenna) outside the walls of the typical Jerusalem; so also in Matt. 25:31-33,41,46. There “fire” is symbolic as well as the “sheep” and the “goats;” and as in Revelation signifies—”the lake of fire and brimstone, which is the Second death.” The punishment for sin as declared by Scripture is not everlasting torment, but everlasting death. “The wages of sin is death!” “The soul that sinneth [wilfully], it shall die!” The wilful evil doers, after rejecting the opportunities of the New Covenant, shall be “punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power.”
The proportionate numbers of those who shall pass this final trial successfully and enter into life everlasting,—beyond all sighing, crying and dying,—is not even hinted at; nor is the number or the proportion of any consequence when we are assured, (1) that the saved will include every member of Adam’s race (condemned in Adam but redeemed by the great “ransom for all”) who, upon full opportunity, chooses to “take of the water of life freely” in God’s appointed way; and (2) that the lost are only such as infinite wisdom sees to be incorrigible, and who, thus “punished with everlasting destruction,” shall be no more.
Now what have we seen?—a second chance? Nay verily; except it be argued that Adam’s original trial was a first chance which brought the sentence of death—condemnation upon all the race; and that the ransom paid by Christ secures another (an individual) chance
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for each member of the race. We have seen in this great divine plan one, but only one, individual chance, or trial, for each member of the redeemed race. Those who have enjoyed a full chance in this Gospel age and have wilfully rejected Christ we cannot expect will get another chance to reject and crucify him (Heb. 6:4-8; 10:26-31); but all who have not yet had a full chance are guaranteed a full chance, a fair and favorable trial, “in due time,” by virtue of the “ransom for all.”
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We conclude that God’s plan is much more reasonable than Mr. Talmage’s plan. It saves no one in ignorance and sin, it overrides no one’s free agency; its provisions take hold of every creature of Adam’s race, all are treated impartially, none are to be saved under it except those who become copies of God’s dear Son, our Lord Jesus; none are to be lost for lack of full opportunity to attain that character. In God’s plan every condition and arrangement is found that sanctified reason could desire; and the various parts fit together perfectly, attesting its divine authorship. But of the many false theories of salvation and their originators, God says,—”My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, … For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! And his grace, who hath measured its fullness in Christ?
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QUESTIONS OF GENERAL INTEREST
Question. What do you mean by the expressions “earthly phase” and “spiritual phase,” in relation to the Kingdom? (MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. I., page 288.)
Answer. There is only one kingdom per se; and that is, the Church; but it will have servants and representatives which to the world will be its kingdom or direct government. Though all will be instructed to recognize the overruling spiritual Kingdom of Christ and the Church and the still superior Kingdom of the Heavenly Father, yet this spiritual phase will be represented by the Patriarchs and other overcomers of past ages who will constitute the “earthly phase” of the Kingdom. (Luke 13:28; Heb. 11:39,40.) The “great company” do not belong to the Kingdom at all. They will be associated in some way not explained, but will not be part of the Kingdom real, nor yet of the earthly or representative Kingdom.
Question. Is the Church a part of the atonement sacrifice? If so, why is our Lord Jesus only referred to as the “Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world?”—1 John 2:2; 4:10; 1 Tim. 2:6.
Answer. The atonement is based upon the sacrifice made by the high priest, who “offered up himself.” The Church’s share in the atonement is a reckoned one. In the same sense that the Church is reckoned as the body of Christ, so its sacrifices are reckoned as being joined with that of Christ, and are so represented or typified in the sacrifices of the Day of Atonement. So, as accepted members of the body of Christ, we throughout the Gospel Age “fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ.” The sufferings of Christ are reckoned as continuing so long as we, his Church, reckonedly members of his body, his flesh and his bones, are suffering. The merit in God’s sight as the ransom lay in the sacrifice which our Lord Jesus offered. Ours is merely incidental, and reckonedly accepted as a part, in order that we might be granted a share also in the rewards.
Question. What is the difference between “ransom,” “propitiation” and “atonement?”
Answer. The ransom is the corresponding price, and was paid by our Lord by the giving of his life. The propitiation was accomplished when he ascended up on high, appeared in the presence of God on our behalf and presented as for us and in payment of our penalty his death as our ransom. The atonement is the result of the offering of the ransom and its acceptance by God as a propitiation or satisfaction. It has a secondary feature or bearing upon us, when we realize the fact that so far as the divine law is concerned an atonement has been made; and if we are rightly exercised thereby, it will lead us to a condition of harmony of mind with God and to a desire to please and serve him, which is the human side of the at-one-ment.
Question. In what sense does the Apostle (Heb. 6:1) advise the Church to leave “the [first] principles of the doctrines of Christ;” does he mean that the practice of baptism, etc., should be abandoned?
Answer. The Jews had washings or baptisms under the Law, but they had nothing to do with Christian baptism. Every time a Jew washed his hands he performed a baptism. But it is not the washings under the Law to which the Apostle Paul refers. He does not say, leave baptisms because they are part of the Law, with which Christians have nothing to do. If he is so interpreted with reference to baptism, the same argument would apply to the other doctrines mentioned in the same connection; namely, repentance from dead works (all works are dead if without faith), faith in God, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. Surely, we are not to understand that we should cease to believe in or practice
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repentance and faith; neither should we cease to believe in and practice baptism. What the Apostle is trying to show is, that we should not have to learn all of these things over and over again. He was reproving the Hebrews addressed, because, when they ought to have been teachers (chapter 5:12), they required somebody to teach them the first principles (the first principles mentioned in chapter 6:1,2). They should have understood all of these things, and been able to teach them; and while continuing to believe in these they should have been adding to their knowledge of the Word and plan of God; and not only so, but they should remember that it is not only correct doctrines on these subjects that are necessary to our full development as followers of Christ, but in addition the graces of Christian character; the doctrines being only a means to an end, and not the end itself. Therefore he says, Leaving the first principles, let us go on to perfection—let us cultivate our characters and endeavor to grow more and more like our Lord.
In the same way a child, when it goes to school, first learns the multiplication table, how to add and subtract and divide. These are the foundation principles of mathematics; and yet we would think a child either very stupid or careless in his studies to remain several years learning these first principles; and we would say that it ought to leave the first principles and go on to other things; by which we would not mean that it should forget these first principles or consider them errors or something to be despised, but that it should remember them and use them and add to them the higher branches.
For a full treatment of the subject of Baptism see TOWER, June 15, ’93.
Question. In the TOWER for Sept. 15, ’96, page 222, you say, “If the powers that be should ever compel us to vote, it would be our duty to act with the side most nearly approved by our consciences.” Can any earthly power compel us to be disloyal to our King? Let us ever bear in mind that no person can have any power at all against us, except it be given from heaven, and that God is not going to give any person power to compel his children to violate their consciences rather than be thrown out of work. Many have been drafted and fought in time of war against their wills; but he who has laid down his life, given it up for Christ and the Gospel will never take it back again to destroy the life of his fellow-man, or in any way to please man. “If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” Let God take care of the sacrifice, while we fulfil it. Called out of the world, dead to the world, how can we heed the threats of the world? Dead to sin, how can we use our members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin? “His servants ye are to whom ye render yourselves servants to obey.” Our salvation depends on our faith in God and our loyalty to him.
Many will talk of their faith and courage until it comes to the test; then their courage often fails. Too many begin the life of sacrifice without considering the cost, and with too many it is a failure.
Another writes:—I cannot see why we should permit them to compel us, especially in the voting part, to act against our conscience at all. Shall the body of Christ do wrong at the behest of the powers that be?
Answer. These two readers have totally misunderstood the answer to which they refer; and since others may have misunderstood similarly, and to guard against error on so vital a point, we answer these publicly.
If laws should be passed commanding every man of twenty-one years to vote at election time, as has already been proposed in the Ohio legislature, it would not mean a violation of the writer’s conscience to obey this law, although we prefer to have nothing to do with electing the rulers of this world and would be unwilling to shed blood to maintain them in office, should such a crisis ever arise. In this connection we should but follow the Lord’s direction, If any man compel thee to go a mile, go with him.—Matt. 5:41.
But if ever compelled by law to vote, we may be sure that we will not be compelled by law to vote for any particular person or party. Therefore, should it become our duty by law to vote, we would be obliged to use our judgments as between parties, platforms and candidates. We would find none of these in all respects up to our ideal and standard; and hence some would vote one way, while others, equally conscientious,
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would vote another way. We might better have said, that in such an event it would be the duty of each to vote according to his conscientious judgment;—for principles and men most nearly in line with his conception of wisdom and righteousness; using his full liberty to cross off the names of any or all candidates, if not approved, and of substituting any names he may approve.
Conscience is never to be violated, and the above remarks of the objectors are fully endorsed. They merely misunderstood our meaning.
Question. The word “body” found in Lev. 21:11, is from the Hebrew Nephesh, which is so many times translated “soul.” Would it be proper to substitute the word “soul” for “body” in this text? See statement in Oct. 15, ’95, Tower to the effect that it is not proper to say a “dead soul.”
Answer. This text more critically rendered would read, “Neither shall he go in to any living creature [soul] after death.” The Hebrew language is “poor,” and many words must serve many shades of thought each. Hence, “any dead body” is equivalent to “any body [soul] dead; i.e., any living creature [soul] after death.” The same is true of Num. 6:6; 19:13; Hag. 2:13.
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SOLOMON’S WEALTH AND WISDOM
—OCT. 18.—1 KINGS 4:25-34.—
IF, as already shown, the wealth of Solomon and his peaceful reign prefigured the glory and peace of Christ’s Millennial reign, so also Solomon’s wisdom prefigured the all-comprehensive wisdom of Christ. And as representatives of many nations came to hear Solomon, so when the Kingdom is the Lord’s, and he is governor among the nations, all the ends of the earth shall remember and turn unto him, as the Prophet declares. They will say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.”—Isa. 2:3.
It is well to remember that the wisdom of Solomon which attracted the attention and admiration of the world (Vss. 29-34), was not the heavenly wisdom, not spiritual understanding such as is now enjoined upon the saints, which can only be spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:8-14), and which is never popular with the world. Solomon’s wisdom was but an imperfect realization of the wise and understanding heart suggested in his dream-prayer (1 Kings 3:9), which will find its full realization in Solomon’s antitype.
It was Solomon’s worldly or secular wisdom which impressed the world. By nature and through God’s providential blessings in making of him a type, Solomon’s mental faculties were large and well developed; and these he exercised in many directions with marked success;—as a statesman, judge and financier. The statement that his wisdom excelled that of the Chaldeans, etc., seems to imply that his wisdom was along the line of the sciences and philosophies popular with them. But although “he spake 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1005,” they were not all deemed of the Lord worthy of a place amongst the sacred Scriptures.
The heavenly wisdom of the books of Ecclesiastes, Proverbs and Solomon’s Song we accept as of divine direction, as were the words of the prophets who frequently wrote things they did not comprehend.—1 Pet. 1:10-12.
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THE PROVERBS OF SOLOMON
—OCT. 25.—PROVERBS 1:1-19.—
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THE Book of Proverbs was not written nor prepared by Solomon in its present form. Apparently quite a number of the proverbs for which he was celebrated were uncollected until a number of years after his death. The book as a whole divides itself into five portions.
I. Chapters 1 to 9, discourses on Wisdom, which is personified.
II. Chapter 10 to 22:16, Solomonic proverbs. These are recollections of epigrams.
III. Chapter 22:17 to 24:34, the words of the Wise.
IV. Chapters 25 to 29, King Hezekiah’s collection of Solomonic proverbs.
V. Chapters 30 and 31, Words of Agar, Words of Lemuel, and an alphabetical acrostic on The Virtuous Wife. These last two chapters, it will be noticed, do not claim to be Solomon’s proverbs, but were evidently thought by the editor to contain sufficient wisdom to be worthy to be classed with the Proverbs of Solomon. Nor is such a procedure on the part of the editor out of harmony with modern usage; for instance, if we take up the latest Revised Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, we will find it to contain a large number of words and definitions of which Mr. Webster neither wrote nor knew in his day.
The Book of Proverbs contains very much that is recognized as wisdom by all who have understanding, whether worldings or Christians; but, as already suggested, the Proverbs do not deal with the heavenly wisdom which is foolishness with men and often runs counter to that which would be the best of earthly policy. It deals with wisdom from the earthly standpoint, and not from the standpoint of self-sacrifice in preparation for joint-heirship with Christ in the heavenly kingdom.
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Nevertheless, although the Proverbs were not prophecies, like the writings of Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc., we may well esteem them to have been supernaturally prepared inasmuch as Solomon was granted a supernatural wisdom, in order, as we have seen, that he might represent or prefigure Christ Jesus, our Lord, the “greater than Solomon.” The propriety of respecting the Proverbs as inspired is shown in the fact that several quotations from them appear in the New Testament writings. Compare the following: Prov. 1:16 with Rom. 3:15; Prov. 3:7 with Rom. 12:16; Prov. 3:11,12 with Heb. 12:5,6; Prov. 3:34 with James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5; Prov. 10:12 with 1 Pet. 4:8; Prov. 11:31 with 1 Pet. 4:18; Prov. 20:9 with 1 John 1:8; Prov. 25:7 with Luke 14:10; Prov. 25:21,22 with Rom. 12:20; Prov. 26:11 with 2 Pet. 2:22. Furthermore, our Lord and the Apostles referred to the Jew’s sacred Scriptures as a whole as divinely inspired, making no exception of Solomon’s writings contained therein, which were, however, but a portion of his three thousand proverbs.
In this lesson the first six verses tell the object of the Proverbs to be for instruction, especially of the young and unlearned; to teach them true wisdom, appreciation of justice, of righteous dealing and equity in general.
Verse 5 points out that the instructions are not merely for the youth; that no matter how wise a man may be, he will still have opportunity for increasing his wisdom, and that a teachable attitude of heart and a desire to know the truth are necessary to progress in wisdom, and that a teachable attitude of heart and a desire to know the truth are necessary to progress in wisdom. How profitable it would be to Christian people if this lesson of verse 5 were very generally applied by them! They would no longer be satisfied with a mere acceptance of creeds of the past, but would be going to the fountain head of wisdom, the Divine Revelation. They would no longer be saying practically, if not by words, We need and care nothing for the Divine plan of salvation; but, like the Bereans of old, they would be searching the Scriptures daily, that they might more perfectly understand the Divine plan.
The first clause of verse 7 is a quotation from one of his father David’s Psalms (111:10), and is a gem of wisdom. If the word “fear” be given the sense of reverence, the passage will be better understood. The
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reverence of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. They who say in their hearts there is no God are certainly stupidly foolish. They have failed to learn the very first lesson of wisdom. Reverence for the Lord is one of the first essentials in approaching his Word as a student: God’s revelation looked at from any other standpoint than that of reverence will not yield its blessings to the searcher. One of the peculiarities of our day, and particularly pointed out by the Apostle Paul (2 Tim. 3:1-5), is the lack of reverence which manifests itself, not only in the world, but also amongst those associated as believers and in their families. The general tendency is toward headiness, high mindedness, arrogance, self-consciousness, disobedience. All of these come under the head of lack of reverence for God and for the order and arrangement which he has established. The present irreverence is undoubtedly the result of the general awakening from the darkness and superstition of the dark ages,—when the great adversary brought in such teachings as produced a distressing fear of the Almighty, based upon misrepresentations of his character and plan. These were received with credulity, from human sources, without proving by the Scriptures, to which the Apostle exhorted. As mankind awakes from this superstition, as a pendulum vibrates from one extreme to the other, so human sentiment, finding that it has been too prejudiced and too fearful in the past, now goes to the opposite extreme of doubt, skepticism, infidelity, irreverence for all the experiences of the past as well as irreverence for God and his Word. As this spirit progresses and influences a wider and wider circle in Christendom, it is preparing the way for the great climax of skepticism and irreverence which will end in the overthrow of all law and order and the disregard of all the experiences of the past and the wisdom of God’s Word, in the anarchy and confusion with which this age will close,—in preparation, however, for the establishment of the Kingdom of righteousness in the hands of Christ and the Church.
Verses 8 and 9 point out, by the symbols of a wreath and a chain (used in ancient times as marks of honor and respect), that the way to true prosperity lies through obedience to parents, and in general would direct us to learn wisdom from the experiences of those who have gone before in life’s pathway. The fact that we to-day are living in an age of peculiar progress in knowledge and invention, superior in many respects to anything with which the ancients were acquainted, will not lead a wise man utterly to ignore the experiences of the past, nor to consider himself, because favorably circumstanced, as superior in mental ability to many of times past. Our day is known as the “brain age,” and many are unduly puffed up and do not consider that the brain capacity of the present time is not greater than that of past times, but that merely the opportunities for the acquisition of knowledge are superior. The wisest and best men to-day quote the wisdom of the past, not only in the Proverbs of Solomon and the words
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of the Lord and the Apostles and the Psalms of David and the Law given by Moses, but also in the words of Shakespeare.
Verses 10-19 were apparently intended as guards against the youthful tendency to brigandage more common in ancient times than now, because to-day, with the advantages of telegraph and telephone, it is more easy to apprehend and punish highway robbers than ever before. But the lesson of these verses can be applied to our day with still greater force. There are to-day different inducements held out, but on much the same line. First, financial brigandage: the inducement to join in business ventures which would dishonestly rob others by misrepresentation, by swindling advertisements, by fraudulent deceptions, trickery, etc. Second, we are coming into a time when there will be more of a temptation to a social brigandage with inducements held out and hopes of gain and common interest by combining for the passage of laws which would do violence to the liberties and interests of others. And ultimately there will be inducements to revolution, disorder, anarchy, in the hope of getting by violence the property of others.
The last clause of verse 18 points out that those who follow such a course will surely bring calamity upon themselves.
Verse 19 shows that the principles here set forth are applicable to all who are greedy of gain and willing to sacrifice the lives or interests of others to obtain it. The words of the Apostle apply here with special force: “They that will [to] be rich fall into temptation and a snare [of the adversary].”—1 Tim. 6:9.
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For further thoughts on Solomon’s writings see TOWER, Apr. 15, ’93, pages 121-127.
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THE TEMPLE WHICH SOLOMON BUILT
—NOVEMBER 1.—1 KINGS 5:1-12.—
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THE important point of this lesson is very slightly related to, or expressed by, the verses chosen above.
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The temple built by Solomon did not cover the largest area of ground, nor was it the most lofty and massive structure of ancient times. Many of the ancient temples were superior in these respects; yet this temple was probably richer in its ornamentation and more costly than any of the others, because of the large amount of gold used in its construction. The building itself was of white limestone, which in the sunlight would very strongly resemble white marble. The stone necessary for its construction abounds in the vicinity of the temple itself; indeed, under the city of Jerusalem are large caverns known as “Solomon’s Quarries,” from which it is supposed that the stones for the temple were quarried. Some very large stones, more or less imperfect, and possibly for that reason not used, are still to be seen in these quarries. The beams, inner walls, doors and roof of the temple were constructed of cedar and red sandalwood. These were all (roof included) completely overlaid with gold—not merely gilded with gold leaf, such as is now used, but covered with plates of gold about an eighth of an inch thick, which were fastened on with gold nails and bestudded with precious stones of various kinds.
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The fact that some of the stones bear Phoenecian marks has led some to suppose that part of the stone for the temple was imported; but we think it more probable that Phoenecian workmen were employed in quarrying, stonedressing, etc., and used such marks as they were in the habit of using in their own country. So far as the record shows, only the timber, including “fir” for scaffolding, was imported; the cedar coming from Lebanon. The country of Palestine did not afford such timber as was necessary.
The apostles (in the New Testament), in referring to the Church, spoke of it as represented in the stones of which the temple was constructed, each member of the Church being a “living stone,” and their faith and character being represented in the gold, silver and precious stones of the temple’s adornment; but the wood of the temple is not used to symbolize Christians or their faith and character, because wood is perishable. The Apostle indicates that “wood, hay and stubble” have no place in the true temple, the Church (1 Cor. 3:12); and as we consider Solomon’s temple, we find that the wood was merely used as a filler, that the symbol was the gold which covered the wood. The wood was merely used because of the impossibility of collecting such an immense quantity of gold as would have been necessary to make the roof and inner walls and doors of solid gold. In this view of the matter, the typical proprieties of Solomon’s temple are preserved; symbolically it was of stone and gold only.
Not only were the materials of the temple typical, but the fact that many of these materials were gathered together before Solomon’s reign was also typical, and in addition the peculiar preparation and fitting of the stones, etc. Each was shaped and fitted and marked for its particular place before the construction began. So in the antitype: each member of the true temple of God, which the greater than Solomon is about to construct—the glorious Church and Kingdom—each living stone, is fitted and prepared by the chiseling, polishing, etc., in the quarry of this present life, and thus prepared for the particular place which he is to occupy in the future development of God’s great plan. And as, when the various stones and parts had all been prepared, the construction of Solomon’s temple was speedily and noiselessly executed, “without the sound of a hammer,” so, when all the living stones of the antitypical temple have been made ready under the supervision of the antitypical Solomon, this true temple of God will come together quickly, without noise or confusion, in the “first resurrection” of the “blessed and
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holy” on whom the second death has no power.
For the typical significance of other features of the Tabernacle and Temple see our issue of May 15, page 113 and TABERNACLE SHADOWS.
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THE TEMPLE DEDICATED
—NOVEMBER 8.—1 KINGS 8:54-63.—
THE first verse of this lesson draws our attention to the prayer of Solomon in connection with the dedicating of the temple to God and his worship. Not only does the construction of the temple give evidence of Solomon’s earnestness toward God and his desire to walk in the ways of wisdom, but now that its construction is finished his prayer and its dedication bear testimony to the same. His faith toward God and his humility of heart are everywhere manifested, not only in the words of his address in prayer, but also in his attitude upon his knees before the Lord, and in the sight of the people, with his hands spread up to heaven. It is a beautiful picture, and suggests to us the importance of not only having good desires, but also of permitting those desires to occupy our time, thoughts and attention fully; for during all the period of the construction of this great temple for the Lord, we may suppose that Solomon was kept very actively engaged as the chief supervisor of its construction; and we may reasonably suppose that during this time he was a most model ruler, walking in the reverence of the Lord. Well would it have been for him had his time always been similarly well filled with works for the glory of God, or for the good of God’s people. It was after this great work had been accomplished, that he began selfishly to turn his thoughts to self-gratification, which ultimately led him into devious paths, which were far from wise, according to the expression of his own proverbs.
Verses 55-61 give Solomon’s address to the people—a benediction and exhortation combined. In this, as in his prayer, Solomon shows great modesty, as well as zeal for the Lord and for righteousness; for he included himself as well as all the people in the exhortation, “Let him not leave us nor forsake us.”
Verses 62 and 63 give some conception of the importance of this occasion in the estimation of the whole nation—as indicated by the enormous sacrifice offered.
It was following the dedicatory prayer and the offering of the sacrifices that God accepted the temple and manifested that acceptance by causing the shekinah glory to shine upon the Mercy Seat in the Most Holy, thus indicating a transfer of the Divine presence with Israel, from the Tabernacle (the temporary, movable place of worship) to this, as the permanent place for the manifestation of God’s presence in the midst of the people. The typical features of this will be readily discerned by all. As the shekinah glory in the Tabernacle represented God’s presence with Israel, accompanying their wilderness journey and difficulties, so now the anti-type of this is God’s presence with the Church of the Gospel age in its present temporary or tabernacle condition; and so the coming of the divine glory upon the completed temple represented the future glory of the Church when its living stones shall have been brought together, when that which is perfect shall have come. The glory in the Tabernacle was merely a foretaste and illustration of the greater glory of the temple; and so in the Church’s experience, the present indwelling of the Holy spirit in God’s Church is only the “first fruits of the spirit,” in comparison to the fullness of the spirit which will be ours when the temple of God shall have been completed, glorified, filled with his spirit.
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