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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
DR. HENSON AND THE FALL
HAVING BEEN obliged in the past to criticize the teachings of the celebrated Baptist preacher, P. S. Henson, in respect to the eternal torment of the large proportion of our race being the divine program, we are the more pleased now to be able to quote with approval his public utterances respecting original sin—the Fall of man—from the image and likeness of his Creator. He says:
“The Bible does not declare how old are the heavens and the earth, but only that in the ‘beginning,’ whenever that was, the Lord created them. How long were the creative processes we are not informed, for the word translated, ‘day’ in Genesis is often employed in the Bible to denote great tracts of time.
“As to the method of creation the Scriptures make no explicit statement, though an evolutionist might imagine that he found some shadow of support for his theory when he reads that the Lord said: ‘Let the waters bring forth such creatures as live in the water, and let the earth bring forth such creatures as live on the land.’ As to man, indeed, a different formula entirely is used, for God said: ‘Let us make man in our image after our likeness.’
THE FIRST MAN
“But whether He made man by direct creative act or by the slow evolutionary processes of the ages, the great fact remains that He made him, and this is all that the Bible directly declares. But whenever made and however made there must have been a first man, and as he had a name, or ought to have had, at least, for the purposes of history, there would seem to be no valid objection, save that which arises from the ‘odium theologicum’ to the traditionary name of ‘Adam.’ So far, then, there would seem to be no reasons for controversy between the foremost scientist and the most literal Scripturalist.
“The great battle ground is rather to be found in the third chapter of Genesis, which gives an account of that tremendous transaction which by common consent through all the ages has been denominated ‘the fall of man.’ And never was there a more widely prevalent disposition than there is to-day to discredit the whole Scripture narrative and to brand it as preposterous and absurd. And many timid souls have been so overawed by the toploftiness of the modern critics that they scarcely dare affirm their belief in the substantial verity of the Bible story.
FACTS FOR DOUBTERS
“Now, for the confirmation and the consolation of such quaking Elis there are a few things it may be helpful to remember. The opening and the closing scenes of man’s ‘strange, eventful history’ as portrayed in the Bible are each laid in a garden—the one in Eden and the other in Paradise. Whether the trees and rivers described in both stand for literal trees and rivers, such as we are accustomed to, does not concern our present purpose. But they stand for something, and no doubt the real fact will at last be found to be far beyond the figure.
ARGUMENT PROVING FALL
“Now, whatever may be said of the figurative character of the language of Genesis, some things loom up as indubitably true unless the whole story be discredited as a tissue of lies.
“One is that man’s original state was a state of innocence. Of course it was if he came fresh from the hand of God by direct creative act. And the like might be affirmed if the life he wore was the last result of evolution from the brute creation. No brute is a sinner, for he always acts up to the nature that is in him, but man is a sinner, and therefore some time, somehow he must have fallen, for now he consciously lives below his proper level. His very nature is depraved in its propensities, and therefore now ‘when he would do good evil is present with him.’
“We excuse the sinner of to-day on the ground of bad heredity; but how came he by the bad heredity? We only dodge the difficulty by removing it farther back. And yet we cannot help asking whence flows the filthy stream that befouls all human history? The Scriptures locate the fountain. Has philosophy been able to do any better?
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INTERDICT AGAINST EVIL
“The second indubitable thing is that God laid upon man an interdict. What a pity and a shame, cries the horrified critic, that God should set a snare by which to entrap the unsuspecting creature of His hand!
“And yet if man were to be a subject and not a sovereign it must some day and in some way be determined whose will was to be law upon this planet. If that matter once for all were to be tested, can any complainant conceive of a test more wise, more considerate, more conclusive than the one that was adopted? But what an outrage to interdict knowledge! and the devil has rung the changes on that outrage all down the ages. But he lies about this, as is his wont about everything else. It was not the tree of knowledge about which God drew a cordon, but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil—such knowledge of good and evil as comes from experience in evil doing. And the very words employed suggest their symbolic significance.
MAN’S NATURE POLLUTED
“The third great fact that looms up darkly is that man transgressed the interdict and went beyond the bounds that God in wisdom and in love, and from the very necessities of being, had appointed, and so laid himself liable to the penalty which the Sovereign of the universe must needs attach to violated law. Not only so, but in the act of transgression he did violence to his own nature as well as to the law of God, and so became crippled and depraved. That nature he transmitted to his posterity; for the Word reads that ‘he begat a son in his own likeness.’ God never made a thing like Cain. Humanity in its totality was in Adam, and therefore in a very true sense what was done by Adam was done by us all, for the nature that was in Adam is in us all. It is not then without reason that we speak of the ‘old man’ in us, for it comes down to us from the very fountain head of humanity, and if the fountain head be foul nothing but the salt of the grace of God can purify the stream that flows from it.
THE BIBLICAL REMEDY
“However much the language may be abused, there is such a thing as ‘the solidarity of society’ and the ‘unity of race.’ It is true that ‘God hath made of one blood all nations to dwell on the face of the earth,’ and hence if one member suffer all the members suffer with it, and being partakers of a common nature and all its heritage of pain and penalty, up from the depth of the sin and sorrow into which the first Adam has plunged us, we need to look to the Second Adam through whose atoning death we have redemption from the curse of sin, and through identification with whose risen life we are made partakers of the divine nature and are reinstated in the relationship of sonship to God.
“Such we believe to be substantially the Scripture doctrine of the fall of man through Adam and the restoration of man through Jesus Christ.”
“THE WAY OF THE LORD MORE PERFECTLY”
The foregoing is good—Scriptural and logical; but Brother Henson should carry the question farther on the same Scriptural and logical plane if he would have the whole truth. For instance:
WAS THE REAL PENALTY NOT STATED IN THE SENTENCE?
(1) Where does the Doctor get his theory of eternal torment? Answer. Undoubtedly from this doctrine of the Fall where all other “orthodox” people claim to find it. The claim is that our Creator not only meant all that he said in his threat to our first parents, and in the curse or sentence following it, but unutterably and infernally more: that when he said, “Dying thou shalt die,” and, “Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return,” he meant not only all the degradation and pain and anguish and dying of the past 6,000 years, referred to above by Dr. Henson, but included also an eternity of anguish beyond this mentioned dying—for the disobedient pair and for all their unfortunate offspring who would not be so blessed as to escape it by being of the “elect,”—brought to a knowledge of the Lord, assisted to faith and obedience and sanctification of spirit, and to correct views of baptism and obedience thereto.
Where in the Scripture will the Doctor find for us this diabolical plan set forth as the divine plan of the ages which our Heavenly Father purposed in himself before the world was? Nowhere! Where will he find logic or reason to support such a theory? Nowhere!
Logic and all the facts known to men corroborate the Scripture teachings that God declared the whole truth in the death sentence promulgated against our first parents when they sinned, and inherited by their posterity in a natural way. This sentence includes mental, moral and physical degeneracy, as Brother
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Henson in the foregoing statement admits; and both logic and Scripture declare that death, the total absence of life, is the climax of this course of degeneracy. “The soul that sinneth it shall die.” (Ezek. 18:4,20.) “The wages of sin is death.” (Rom. 6:23.) Eternal life is a gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord, to be given only to the believing and obedient. He that hath the Son hath life; he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” I Jno. 5:12.
(2) Brother Henson also lacks the appreciation of “The Biblical Remedy” as he states it.
He perceives the solidarity of the race in the first Adam,—in the prevalence of his condemnation upon all his posterity. Why can he not see the solidarity of the race in respect to the sacrifice of Christ, that he “by the grace of God tasted death for every man.” (Heb. 2:9.) Why can he not see that divine provision of a remedy for sinners is co-extensive with the blight of sin? Why does he fail to give weight to the clear Scriptural declaration that—Christ’s sacrifice is “a propitiation [satisfaction] for our sins [the church’s sins] and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world”? (I Jno. 2:2.) If under the gloomy shadowings of creeds and theories formulated in “dark ages” or in the haze just following them, the Doctor has been in the habit of applying all these texts which so clearly specify “the whole world” to merely the elect church, it is surely time to see the error and to note the fact that our Heavenly Father’s plan centered in Christ Jesus our Lord, is so high and so deep, so long and so broad, as to provide not only the special heavenly salvation of the elect church of this age, to “the divine nature,” but also to provide through this elect church, the spiritual seed of Abraham, a general salvation,—
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which, beginning with fleshly Israel, shall extend through the Millennial age to “all the families of the earth”—as God’s promise reads.—Rom. 11:25-32; Gal. 3:29.
In this time when Evolutionism and Higher Criticism are making void the Word of God we are trusting that the true believers who hold fast to the Word may get still more widely opened “the eyes of their understanding,” that they and we may be thus enabled to see “eye to eye,” by being enabled to comprehend with all saints the true dimensions of our gracious Father’s wonderful plans. (Eph. 3:18.) We are trusting in the same Savior and in the same Father; but by their grace our eyes have been opened a little wider, a little sooner than those of some of our brethren whom we sincerely love and long to assist out of darkness into the wonderful light of the Millennial dawn, now streaming in upon all who are awake and looking in the right direction to see the glorious Sunrise of the new dispensation—now being ushered in by our Lord’s parousia.
THE RESULTS OF WORLD-REDEMPTION
(3) As degradation even unto death was the penalty of sin, so God’s provision is that restitution even unto life is the remedy. As the penalty was world-wide through Adam, so the remedy is to be world-wide through Christ;—an opportunity for reconciliation to God has been secured for every member of Adam’s race by the sacrifice of Christ, who did not go to eternal torment for our sins, because eternal torment was not the penalty for sin; but who did pay the full penalty against Adam (and incidentally against his race) in that “he died for our sins” he “died the just for the unjust.”—I Cor. 15:3; I Pet. 3:18.
“BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AND THOU SHALT BE SAVED.”
We agree to this: we are not arguing for a glorification of sinners: we are prepared to go with the Scriptures farther along this line than Dr. Henson may be willing to follow. We hold that the above quoted words of the Apostle (Acts 16:31) are meant to teach not only that none but believers in Christ can be saved, but that, beyond believing, full consecration to the Lord is necessary to eternal salvation—eternal life. Dare the Doctor go so far and interpret this Scripture at its face value, realizing as he does so that it would cut off from salvation the vast majority of Baptists and of all other denominations of Christendom and the heathen world almost entirely? Dare any do this, having in mind the “orthodox view” that all not saved now must spend eternity with demons and in torture? To their credit be it said that they cannot so apply this Scripture. To their credit be it noted that they hope there is some great blunder somewhere, and that it will not come true as it seems to them to teach. But their great danger is, that the Adversary will prejudice and blind them against the only interpretation of God’s Word which can harmonize the Bible and satisfy reason, until they shall have rejected the Bible in toto, because viewed from their wrong standpoint its teachings must more and more appear unreasonable, nonsense.
“THERE IS NO OTHER NAME GIVEN UNDER HEAVEN AND AMONGST MEN WHEREBY WE MUST BE SAVED.”
Accepting this declaration as inspired and true, wherein is the hope for the world, not one-twentieth of whom have ever heard of this only name? We answer in the Apostle’s language that it is “The hope of the resurrection of the dead.” Only the saints of this Gospel age may hope to have share in the “First Resurrection”—to “glory, honor and immortality” and to joint heirship with their Lord in the Kingdom; but there is hope for almost all others of our race in the after-resurrection, which our Lord calls “the resurrection by judgment.” (John 5:28,29, see Revised Version.) That resurrection will be for all the “unjust” (unjustified by faith and obedience); it will be for all the “evil,”—all who have not been approved of God in Christ as “good”—all who have not escaped “the condemnation that is on the world.”
That resurrection, open to earth’s billions, will require a thousand years for its accomplishment—the Millennium—and the attainment of it at the close of the Millennium will require the development of meekness, patience, perseverance, gentleness, brotherly kindness, love on the part of all who would receive its blessing; all others being hopelessly cut off in the Second Death. To participate in this grand resurrection privilege will necessitate the awakening of all who “sleep in the dust of the earth,” or as our Lord expressed it, all that are in their graves shall hear his mandate and come forth before they can share in the privileges of the “resurrection by judgment.” The expression “by judgment” signifies (harmoniously with other Scriptures), that the Millennial age arrangements will differ from those of the present and past ages, in that while now judgments (rewards and punishments) are deferred then they will follow immediately each act and word of obedience or disobedience. “When the judgments of the Lord are abroad in the earth (as they will then be) the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” And the Lord through the Prophet assures us that in that blessed day every sinner refusing for one hundred years to make progress shall be accounted irreconcilable and shall be cut off forever—even though as compared with the life privileges of that time he would be but an infant at one hundred years of age—as in the antediluvian age. Isa. 26:9; 65:20.
The only exceptions to the privileges of that “resurrection by judgments” will be the few who in the present life commit the sin unto death—”Second Death.” These as described by the Apostle can be only such as by faith and consecration as true Christians, have received the blessings of special knowledge and the holy spirit, and then fall away either by turning heartily into wilful sin or by rejecting the wedding garment of Christ’s imputed righteousness.
We long to assist all the true “brethren” and urge any reading this and still finding any obstacles to faith and obedience to the “only name” to correspond with us. We will take pleasure in lending you a helping hand to the Heavenly Kingdom, and will gladly loan you the “Bible Keys,” through the
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faithful and prayerful use of which the Bible will become to you “a new book”—the best of all books.
A LONELY VOICE OF PROTEST AGAINST EVOLUTION AND HIGHER CRITICISM HERESIES
The Chicago Record Herald recently devoted a column article to a farewell sermon of Rev. W. T. Euster at Wheadon M.E. Church, Evanston, Ind., exposing the religious teaching of professors at “Garrett Biblical Institute” in that city. Following are some extracts.
“What I say about the results and influence of ‘higher criticism’ here in this field may startle some, but no one can adequately realize this without living here for some length of time. I have in my ministry here taken every occasion to converse and argue with every theological student I could get acquainted with. Many of them have lived on the same street with me, and many have attended on my ministry. I have asked them all sorts of questions. I have not found one who would say that he accepted the miracles of the Old Testament as declared there: only four have I found in all this number who had enough faith in the Bible as it is, to stand the test of the discipline; many of them I found Unitarian and infidel in belief; not one could I find that would say that Jesus Christ knew more or as much about the Old Testament as some of these Unitarian professors.
“The saddest thing is the number of bright young men and women whose faith is utterly wrecked here each year. Many of these young men say they never would have taken any interest in destructive criticism of the Bible had it not been forced upon them by those who are employed to teach the doctrines of the church.
“It is sad, indeed, when young men come to the place where they feel that modern infidel professors know more about the Old Testament than did Jesus Christ! I have not been able to find one theological student here that would contradict this.
“I am not a pessimist. I believe God will bring order out of this confusion, and that many of these preachers who go out of here Unitarian and infidel will be honest enough
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to step out of the Methodist pulpits unless they can get back to faith and loyalty to the church which has educated them.
ZIONISTS FAIL TO OBTAIN FROM THE SULTAN THE KIND OF CONCESSIONS IN PALESTINE THEY DESIRE
Vienna, Aug. 7.—Dr. Theodore Herzl, founder of the Zionist movement and head of the Palestine association and Dr. Wolffson, president of the Jewish colonial trust, have returned here from Constantinople. They report that their conference with representatives of the sultan with reference to the proposed settlement of Zionists in Palestine has been without result.
In reply to Dr. Herzl’s written statements on the subject the sultan expressed sympathy with the Jews in their purposes and named certain concessions which he would grant. These, however, did not meet the requirements of the Zionists.
Dr. Herzl says he still has hopes of being able to convince the porte of the beneficial results which would result from the settlement of Jews in Palestine.
This set-back is of course only a temporary one: prophecy must eventually be fulfilled. Jews are still (since 1892) deprived of permission to settle in the Holy Land, and may only visit it by special permit for from 30 to 90 days. Ere long it will be different.
— September 1, 1902 —
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