Enter subtitle here
Dr. Thomas-Dear Sir:-Believing that you are qualified by research, and that your knowledge of the Word of God-a knowledge resulting from profound investigation-renders you capable of giving a fair exposition of the more intricate sentences of the Bible; besides, judging from your past actions that you will by no means prevaricate about the truth, or hesitate a moment after having investigated the subject, to give your opinion, even if such opinion should conflict with what you have previously contended for:-these things being believed, your views on the following question are most respectfully, but earnestly solicited:-Will the wicked, when they are resurrected, (Rev. 20:12,) be animate or inanimate?
That they will be lifeless is zealously contended for by some, and I would say, that the zeal manifested in trying to establish their lifelessness from the Bible, is absolute infatuation; for the whole tenor of the Scriptures goes to abundantly prove the contrary. In Rev. 20:5, we read, "But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished." Now, that life (that is, animal life) is manifestly implied in this verse, even a mere smatterer in philology, it is conceived, would not attempt to deny.
Your view of this matter will very much oblige your humble servant,
Jan. 31, 1854.
Resurrection and Classification of the Dead
The design of resurrection is, not only to reörganize the dead, but to reörganize and make them alive again; and the reason why they are to be thus reüshered into life is, that they may stand before the tribunal of Christ, and give account of themselves to God, (Rom. 14:10-12,) that they may receive the things in body accordingly, be they good or bad. (2 Cor. 5:10.) These testimonies stand side by side with Rev. 20:12. The dead referred to must of course become living, or they cannot give an account of themselves, or receive recompense good or bad. If those spoken of in the fifth verse lived not again until the thousand years were finished, it follows that when that time expires, they will live again, but with a terminable life.
The tenth verse of the chapter, cited by "Inquirer," completes the prediction of the destruction of the postmillennial Gog and Magog power, styled "the Devil," which will be exterminated on the same territories, and by similar means, as "the Powers," represented by "the Beast and the False Prophet," were a thousand years before. (Rev. 19:20; 14:10.) The eleventh verse presents a new scene. Its description carries us back to the beginning of the Millennium, when the "Great White Throne," the throne of David, is established, "the earth and the heaven," or present Gentile constitution of the world, having "fled away," and the glory of Yahweh pervading the earth as the waters do the sea. Jesus reigns upon this throne until he has put down all enemiesunder his feet, when the last enemy, Death, shall be destroyed; an idea which is symbolically described as the casting of Death and Invisibility (̔́̓ησ) into the Lake of Fire. ver. 14. (1 Cor. 15:25, 26.)
The prophecy then embraced in Rev. 20:11-15, is descriptive of resurrection matters, pertaining to the beginning and ending of the thousand years. The dead who are raised are those who stand related to the opened books-persons who have died under times of knowledge, and whose works, therefore, will be adjudged as good or bad, according to the light revealed from heaven, as it is written in John 3:19. They all live again who rise; but all mankind are not raised, because all mankind have not lived under times of knowledge, or in relation to the books.
Divine knowledge classifies mankind. One class is composed of those who have lived under times of ignorance, which God winks at. (Acts 17:30.) This is comprehensive of those whose ignorance is involuntary and helpless. They are born and die under the sentence pronounced upon Adam: "Out of the ground thou wast taken, and unto the dust shalt thou return." This is the end of their beginning. "They remain in the congregation of the dead," being helplessly sinners by constitution...
...The third class of the dead is comprehensive of those who when previously living came under a constitution of righteousness, and are therefore "saints." Sinners who have intelligently obeyed the gospel of the kingdom, by so doing become saints. Thus they begin to do well, and for a patient continuance in well-doing they receive glory, honour, incorruptibility, and life at the first resurrection as the first-fuits unto God and to the Lamb. These are "the just," who rise to the life of the Age, and possess the Kingdom.
The fourth class includes those saints who did run well, but did not continue in well-doing; way-side, stony-ground, and thorn-choked professors. These are "the unjust," who with "the just" rise at Christ's coming, but to the shame and contempt of the Age. (Dan. 12:2.)
They are driven by the decree of the King into the territories of the Beast and False Prophet, and Kings of the Earth, styled "the Devil and his angels," (Matt. 25:41;) where they are tormented with fire and brimstone, in the premillennial lake of fire, (Rev. 19:20,) in the presence of the Holy Angels, (the saints,) and of the Lamb, (2 Thess. 1:7-10,) [the Lord Jesus;] who give them no rest day nor night to ages of ages, εισ αιωνασ αιωνων, eis aiōnas aiōonas aiōnōn, (Rev. 14:10, 11,) that is, till the destruction of those dominions is completed, which ensues before the thousand years begins. If these things are understood, there is no scope for such a dispute as is implied in the question of "An Inquirer."
March 6th, 1854.Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, April 1854
Reflecting on past sins...
Paul laments that he was not always in this line of things, but "was before, a blasphemer and a persecutor and injurious." As to which, he says:
"I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief."
We may all have circumstances in the past that afford no satisfaction as we look back upon them. The use we should make of them is the use Paul made of his mistakes; he felt them as a constant spur to make up for lost time. We have been sinners, as Paul says here, but-
"Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."
And Jesus recognises the amount of sin forgiven as a reasonable measure of subsequent service in the case of the woman who "loved much" and was "forgiven much" (Luke 7:41). This is the best way to use a bad past; not to allow it to depress and hinder and obstruct, but making it a reason for specially redeeming the time that remains, by diligent and devoted service, "and so much the more as ye see the day approaching." This was Paul's policy:
"Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto the things that are before, I press towards the mark."
This is a perfectly reasonable and enlightened policy which we are not only allowed, but commanded to imitate; for Paul informs us here that Christ had others in view in dealing with him in the way he did.
"For this cause I obtained mercy that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting."
1 Thessalonians Chapter 5 +
Yea, verily, the Lord Jesus is "the Prince of Peace;" [Isa. 9:6] and therefore, no peace society can give peace to the world. It is He alone, who can establish "peace on earth and good will among men;" [Luke 2:14] for He only is morally fit, and potentially competent to do it...
"In His days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endures. His enemies shall lick the dust; all nations shall serve Him and call Him blessed" (Psalm 72:4, 7, 9, 11, 17; Rev. 11:18). Then shall He judge among them, and rebuke them, and speak peace to them (Zech. 9:10); "and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isaiah 2:4)
But the Father did not send Jesus with the idea of bringing about this mighty revolution among the nations by preaching the gospel; neither did He propose to effect it in the absence of His Son. When He appeared in humiliation He came to take away peace from the earth, as both His words and history prove.
"Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, nay; but rather division. I am come to send fire upon the earth; and what I wish (is) that it were already kindled" (Luke 12:49, 51).
"I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his nearest dearest relations. So that a man's foes shall be they of his own household" (Matt. 10:34-36).
This is the way the Prince of Peace spoke when on earth. The doctrine He taught is distasteful to the natural mind, and, by the purity of its principles, and astonishing nature of its promises, excites the enmity and incredulity of the flesh. Loving sin and hating righteousness, the carnal mind becomes the enemy and persecutor of those who advocate it. The enmity on the part of the faithless is inveterate; and where they have the power, they stir up war even at the domestic hearth.
If the believer will agree to be silent, or to renounce his faith, there will then be "peace and love" [Jude 2; cf 2 Cor. 13:11] such as the world, that "loves its own," [see John 15:19] is able to afford. But the true believers are not permitted to make any compromise of the kind. They are commanded to "contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3); and so long as they do this, they may lay their account with tribulation of various kinds...
The world wants peace, that it may find a respite from the judgments of God for its iniquity; and that it may enrich itself by commerce, and enjoy itself in all the good things of life...
It [Peace and safety] is the world's cry, as the cry of a woman in travail, which has been extorted by sudden and tormenting pains. It blows a trumpet in the wise and understanding ear, sounding the approach of "the day of the Lord as a thief in the night;"...
It is the cry of the world, which echoes in tones of thunder in the ears of the true believers. It is a cry in the providence of God, which is a great "sign of the times;" [Matt. 16:3] announcing that "the Lord standeth at the door and knocks" (Rev. 3:20), and is about quickly and unexpectedly to appear (Rev. 16; 22:7, 20).
Elpis Israel 1.4.
A good conscience is the best of life's cordials.
In the day of prosperity, it is reckoned of little moment. In the day of account it will be a tower of strength. It is the most precious of possessions, and cannot be got without trouble: it can only be acquired by knowing the will of God and doing it, which is sometimes difficult.
1 Thessalonians Chapter 4
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
THE SUMMONS TO JUDGMENT
A. C.-The details connected with the summons to judgment at the coming of Christ are not revealed. The most we are told is that the dead will rise first (1 Thess. iv. 16), and that "he shall send forth his angels to gather together his elect" (Matt. xxiv. :31), and that they shall be "caught away" to the meeting (1 Thess. iv. 17).
All beyond this is speculation, and of very little importance, for what does it matter how we are conveyed to the Lord's presence? It is the solemn fact that is all in all. So also with the question of children too young to know the truth, or of husbands and wives that are unbelievers. What is to become of them is a question on which no positive information has been vouchsafed.
We can only reason from what the Lord has done in past interferences on this point, having in view the fact that the kingdom to which the saints are called away is a kingdom in which mortal flesh and blood will be governed for enlightenment and blessing.
He has always shown merciful regard to the friends and dependents of his people. The probability is that, like the willing Egyptians at the exodus, or Lot's sons-in-law at the destruction of Sodom, they will be offered the choice of removal with the saints.
As to previous "notice," admitting of arrangements and adjustments, God is a God of order; and we can only say, it is probable there will be such notice, but nothing is certain-except that the Lord will come, and that it will be woe unto us if we are not ready.
The Christadelphian, Nov 1896.
Was Jesus of Nazareth The Messiah?
THIRD NIGHT of DEBATE
Mr. Robert Roberts and Mr. Louis Stern, Oct. 1871
The next branch of my argument is, that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah because of the great works which he wrought; because of the miracles that he performed, none of which will be controverted as to their nature if admitted to have taken place. The opponents of Christianity give the answer to them that Mr. Monaet gave. Jesus told his disciples they were not to receive false Christs although they should show signs and wonders (Mark 13:22). The argument is that if false Christs could work signs and wonders, the working of signs and wonders is no sign that Jesus was the true Christ. The answer to that is that Christ admitted the possibility of other men doing the things that appeared miraculous, but rested his claims on the vast difference between what he did and what other men did. He challenges comparison. He says in John 15:24,
"If I had not done among them the WORKS WHICH NONE OTHER MAN DID, they had not had sin".
Where was there ever a man before him, or since, that walked upon the sea, and stilled the tempest by a word of command? Where is the man that ever fed thousands of people with a few loaves of bread? Where was ever the man before him that raised the dead by a word? Never in all the category of false Christs -- never in all the history of impostures, has there been any approach to these great wonders, which, as Paul said of other things, were not done in a corner. If time admitted, which it does not, I should have liked to go very largely into this point, to demonstrate the historic reality of the things related of Christ. But I must hastily pass on the last point of my argument, which is, that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, because he rose from the dead.
Now my evidence upon that question is very simple, but exceedingly strong -- strong because of its simplicity. What are the facts of the case? They are such as are not doubted, as regards the principal of them at all events; and that is this, that after Jesus of Nazareth was crucified by Pilate at the instigation of the Jews, his disciples proclaimed to the Jewish public that he had risen again. They did not say
"We believe it because somebody has told us, or because we are convinced as a matter of argument that it must be so; because we have some theory on the matter. No. They said, "He is risen again, for we have seen him, WE HAVE EATEN AND DRUNK WITH HIM SINCE HE ROSE FROM THE DEAD. We are his witnesses."
I will just quote one specimen of the kind of testimony they gave on this most important point. In Acts 10:40, you find Peter -- who denied his Lord, but was forgiven -- declaring "Him God raised up the third day and showed him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead". The testimony did not relate to a single interview with the Lord merely; but applied to a period of forty days, during which he repeatedly showed himself to his disciples.
"To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion, by MANY INFALLIBLE PROOFS, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3).
Now these men everywhere declared the same thing, and with one uniform result -- that, namely, of persecution; at the very threshold of their career, the authorities laid hold of Peter and put him in prison, and confiscated the goods of all in Jerusalem who dared to believe his testimony. The other disciples gave the same testimony. They went everywhere throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria declaring that the Lord had risen, and had commanded them to preach faith in him for the remission of sins. The result to the disciples was in every case the same. It brought upon them degradation, and evil and pain; and at last, in almost every case, death.
Now what is the explanation of such an extraordinary phenomenon? Mr. Stern asks your attention to a thief at the bar as affording an explanation; he says, "Oh, a thief will tell a story of course, to get himself out of a scrape"...The way for the disciples to have kept out of the scrape was to hold their tongues; or, having got into the scrape, the way to get out of it was to tell just the very opposite story to that which they told. If they had said, "We confess we have been deceiving the people. Jesus never rose, but is now rotting in the place where we laid his stolen dead body", they would immediately and gladly have been let out of the scrape and praised amongst the Jews as honest men. Instead of that, they persisted in a declaration, which, if not true, was of no benefit to them, but brought them continually into that which Mr. Stern suggests they made to get out of -- a scrape.
The facts upon which my argument is based are doubted. No one can deny that the Christians of the first century testified that Christ had risen, because they had seen him, and no man can deny that this testimony brought upon them every species of deprivation. Therefore we have to believe first that they were honest men; for none but honest men will bring upon themselves continued poverty, starvation, and death, by adhering to a statement. Why is a lie ever told? That the liar may get good to himself or screen himself from harm -- like Mr. Stern's thief.
Did the disciples of Christ screen themselves from harm by what they said? On the contrary Paul said, "For Christ's sake we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted and have no certain dwelling-place. We are made as the filth of the world and off-scouring of all things unto this day". These were no liars. There is only one hypothesis upon which you can get rid of their testimony, and that is not a sustainable one, namely, that they were mad. This I suppose is the hypothesis that Mr. Stern would select. But it will be very hard work to maintain it in the face of the marvellous combination of greatness and goodness which he admits in saying that illiterate men could not write such epistles as the apostles wrote.
1 Thessalonians Chapter 2 +
13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
The Spirit's teaching.
Bible names for Bible things; no human nomenclature can better designate the things of the Spirit than the Spirit's own words and phrases.
Herald, June 1853.
AN EXPOSITION OF THE APOCALYPSE
Section 2 Subsection 3a
Sealed up with Seven Seals
It was not intended to permit the Mystery of Iniquity to attain to instantaneous maturity as soon as the Woman gave birth to her man-child. He had been nine months of years in coming to the birth, and it was determined that he should pass through youth and middle age to the decrepitude of all things human. But though the Antichrist was to prosper till the time appointed for his destruction by the saints, he was not to be free from the troubles and ills of "the present evil world," in which "there is no peace for the wicked, saith Yahweh; for they are like the troubled sea, which cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt."
It is not compatible with the honour and goodness of God to allow them to rest while they are blaspheming him and oppressing and destroying his people. In the absence, therefore, of "the Son of his handmaiden," Mary -- "the Son of man at his right hand whom he hath made strong for himself" -- He uses the wicked as his sword (Psa. xvii. 13) to torment one another for their abominations, until the time appointed for the sword of judgment to be committed to the saints, and the power of the wicked be by them destroyed.
All things are of God, and "there is no power but of him. The powers that be have been put in order under the Deity." He creates evil in punishment of sin. He makes evil powers a terror to evil doers, who all subsist by his permission, and by that only. Thus he tolerates as powers combinations of men whose principles and practices are his abomination. Evil being in the world as a present necessity, he gives shape and organization to it, so that it may work out his own purposes to the confusion and overthrow of the agents through whom he operates. He does not leave the evil of this world to develop a chapter of accidents, and to run riot as chance may occasion.
Had he done so, the Apocalypse would never have seen the light; for this remarkable instrument is a rehearsal before the performance of the prearranged and methodical development of the evil predestined to fall upon the "Children of Jezebel" for their worship of demons and images, and for their murders, sorceries, fornication, and thefts (Apoc. xi. 20,21).
These were, and continue to be, the crimes of the "Holy Catholic Church," and its family of "Denominations" and "Names of Blasphemy," which recognize it as "the Mother Church."
Its superstition became excessive and its demoralization extreme. "The christians of the seventh century," says Gibbon, "had relapsed into a semblance of Paganism; their public and private vows were addressed to the relics and images that disgraced the temples of the East; the throne of the Almighty was darkened by a cloud of martyrs, saints, and angels, the objects of popular veneration;, and the Collyridian heretics, who flourished on the fruitful soil of Arabia, invested the Virgin Mary with the name and honors of a goddess."
The Seventh Seal, then, being inducted by the completion of the work of the angel ascending from the East for the sealing of the 144,000, the time had come for the loosing of the Four Wind-Trumpet judgments against the men of the Western Leg of the Imperial Catholic dominion. The full effect of these four trumpets was the slaying of the sixth, or imperial, head of Daniel's Fourth Beast. This "wound by a sword" appeared for a long time to be unto death. For "the third part of a day and the third part of a night," it lay prostrate as it were in death; but at the end of that period "the deadly wound was healed;" and the Imperial Head once more stood conspicuously before the nations as the sun of the Western World.
Another important result of these trumpets was the development of the Seventh Head of the Dragon-Beast in the place of its throne, that is, in Rome. This was to continue only a short space compared with its predecessor. After sixty years it was abolished; and for many years after, the sovereignty of "the Eternal City" was simply an affair of history.
Lastly, in addition to these events, the striving of the winds upon the great sea-nations caused the budding forth of the Horns upon the territory on which also the Sixth Head afterwards thrust itself into position on recovering from its deadly wound, and before which three of the ten horns fell, and were "plucked up by the roots." Thus, the judgments of the first four trumpets laid the foundation of what afterwards became the Europe of modern times.
But these scourges did not affect the Catholics of the East. Their hearths and temples were still protected from the fire and sword of the destroyer. The wrath of God upon their coreligionists of the West, however, failed to work repentance in them for their worship of "the ghosts" of dead men and women, adoration of images, murder of the saints; their sorceries, fornication, and thefts. In twenty years alone of this wind-trumpet period -- that, namely, ending in the settlement of Italy by Justinian's Pragmatic Sanction, A.D. 554 -- Italy and Africa lost nearly twenty millions of their inhabitants. Yet did not this cause reformation; but men went on waxing worse and worse, until the time came that they must be tormented with scorpions and killed with serpent fire.
This was the mission of the first two Woe-Trumpet angels, and constitutes the second part of the Seventh Seal. The first woe-trumpet was not to extinguish the "Holy Catholic" sovereignty of the East, but only to torment with the plagues of war "those men who had not the seal of God in their foreheads;" that is, all of the Greek Catholic superstition in contrast to the saints, who in all ages are the sealed of the Father.
Philosophy of Fanaticism
Now, mark this - Jesus, nor any other Scripture authority, ever promised the Holy Spirit, or its powers, to any persons who did not believe on him in believing the gospel of the Kingdom he preached. Hence, whatever spirit it may be that spiritists rejoice in, it is not the Holy Spirit of God; but some other, it may be of Beelzebub, or some other representative of evil; but beyond all doubt or question, it is not of God. He gives not his Holy Spirit to the unholy, faithless, and disobedient, to play tricks with in moving tables, &c.; or to confirm the theological fooleries of Andrew J. Davis and Emanuel Swedenborg; or to endorse the scholastic divinities in the miraculous soul-dealings which preöccupy the minds of professors to the exclusion of the word.
I have no controversy with Spiritists about their "facts;" what I reject in toto is their explanation of them. I have done several wonderful things myself, and seen more remarkable ones performed by others. As far as my experiments have gone, the phenomena have all resulted from the energy of my own will operating on the brains and nervous systems acted upon. Without speaking or looking at the man, I have compelled actions that he could not successfully resist; and which appeared wonderful to all who beheld them.
Now, had I been a religious knave, I might have played off Simon Magus before the company, giving out that I was "the great power of God," having a prophet-mission to the world! I might have declared that these wonders were proofs of my divine character, and have set up for as great an ambassador of Heaven as any of the clergy, the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the Pope himself! Had I concealed from the subject my operation on his system, and had he been fanatically inclined, he might have attributed the influence he felt to the Spirit of God dealing with his soul; especially if I had willed religious impressions upon his sensorium instead of the secular commonplaces I did.
This explains to my mind the origin of "religious experiences;" such, all such, I mean, as do not result from searching the Scriptures for the truth. People in families and societies mesmerize one another unconsciously. Their brains and nervous systems are acted upon by the ideas willed, evolving and expressed, among them. The preaching, praying, talking, and silent wishings of some concerning others, create a halo of influences, which invests the community in its family and associational relations, like a fog.
Individuals are pervaded by it as by the atmosphere-an atmosphere of spirituality, as it were. If the preaching, and so forth, be the vain imaginations of brain sinflesh, as it is with so few exceptions that we may say it is universally, the spiritual atmosphere is infectious, and generative of fanatical experiences, wildfire excitements, "awakenings," "miraculous dealings of God with souls," witchcraftry, ecstasies, dreams, prophesyings, visions, "spirits," and a thousand other things detailed in the annals of fanatical religionism.
And it may be noted, that where the Scriptures are least accurately understood, these nervous-system manifestations most prevail. No man who is not enlightened in the gospel of the Kingdom is safe from the influence of this sectarian mesmerism. All who are seized with it, not being able to account for it upon any principles known to them, call it miraculous, or the operation of the Holy Spirit. There is nothing, however, miraculous in it, or holy.
It is the natural result of the operation of the flesh-spirit of the community upon it own members. It begins in the flesh and ends in the flesh, and always leaves its victims in disobedience, (for joining a church is not obeying the gospel,) and as ignorant of the Bible, and vastly more self-conceited, than when it originally demonized them.
"Speaking with tongues" is no proof of the existence of "the spirits," nor is the faculty necessarily a fulfilment of the promise of Jesus. I have heard an illiterate girl sing French and Italian songs who five seconds before and the instant after the singing knew not a word in either tongue. It was done by first mesmerizing her, and then placing her en rapport with an educated lady who could perform. By this process the nervosity of the two became as one-as it were, mesmeric Siamese twins. Their two brains were a closed circle, the lady who played the guitar and sang being the positive brain-pole from which the will-influence passed to the negative brain-pole of the girl, causing her unconsciously to sing with tongues.
Philosophy of Fanaticism
The testimony of the Rapping-Spirits is not worth a pinch of snuff; for the theology they teach is contrary to and subversive of the Bible's. We need not run all over New York to consult the witches to ascertain this; for they pronounce "departed spirits" blessed in heaven, who while embodied were as ignorant and faithless of the gospel of the Kingdom as New Hollanders.
The Lord Jesus has decreed, that he who believes not the gospel (and there is no other in the Bible) shall be condemned. He, therefore, and the spirits are at issue. John, speaking for himself and the rest of the apostles, says,
"We are of God; he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the Spirit of Truth and the Spirit of Error."
Here is a test the Rapping Spirits cannot stand. If they testify the same things as the apostles, their testimony is superfluous; if they testify to the contrary, their testimony is false. Their votaries have no escape from this, but to reject the apostles as liars, which they virtually do.
The consulting of familiar spirits was one of the Jewish vices of old that brought down upon them the destruction of their commonwealth. Instead of seeking wisdom, and knowledge, and counsel of the priests and prophets whom God raised up for them, they consulted the dead through mediums who pretended to hold intercourse with them. Referring to this absurd abomination, Yahweh said to Isaiah,
"When they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits and unto wizards that peep and that mutter:" say unto them, "Should not a people seek unto their God?" Should a people seek "for the living to the dead?" He then gives a rule by which the people may save themselves from imposition by the pretended answers of the dead, saying,
"To the Law and to the Testimony: if they [the spirits] speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Isaiah 8:19, 20.)
This rule, like John's, upsets all the "revealments of the Spirits," from one end of Witchdom to the other.
Seeing, then, that these spirits are by these divine tests condemned as convicted liars, what is it to us, if those who are possessed of them, or demonized, should speak with tongues, open the eyes of the blind, or raise the dead?
Paul tells us not to believe an angel from heaven if he preach any other gospel than the gospel of the Kingdom he preached. If I saw an angel descending from heaven, and on conversing with him he told me that it mattered not what I believed, so that I was sincere in my errors, and were immersed into the name of Jesus; and to prove that this was a message direct from Jesus Christ, should convert stones into bread, raise the dead, or hurl Staten Island into the Atlantic, I would not receive it. Wonders have been performed to establish lies of old time; and they are permitted now to put our faith in God's word to the proof.
Misapplication of Scripture is as fatal as ignorance of it, or unbelief. The Pope's throne was established and is sustained by misapplied Scripture; and from the same source arose the Mormon imposture of the West. I am sorry to see that Doctor Cory has fallen into the same bottomless pit. He would have us believe that the Spiritual Telegraph's array of facts is an illustration of the saying of Jesus, that "He who believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to my Father."
This was fulfilled in the apostles and in those "spiritual men" who believed on Jesus through their teaching. It cannot be proved by theologists or "spirits," that the power to do such works as Jesus did as the result of "believing on him" was to continue until the Nineteenth Century, or till his return. No man who has any regard to his reputation for critical accuracy will quote Matt. 28:20 in proof; because he knows that "world" in that text signifies age, or dispensation, being αιων, aiōn, and not χοσμος, kosmos, in a universal sense.
But there are many who do wonderful things that do not believe on Jesus; this text from John is therefore not applicable to them. They do their works, not as the result and evidence of faith, but by the energy of their own wills, operating upon the nervous systems of the patients. The promise of Jesus is not to them; hence its fulfilment is not to be found in their mesmeric doings.
Nay, more than this. I would ask where are the disciples of "the spirits" to be found who believe on Jesus? The Doctor may point us to the many clergymen and pious professors who believe and consult the spirits as abundant examples! But we reject them all as counterfeit. To believe on Jesus is the same thing as to "believe on God;" and to believe on them both is to believe what they promise and preach. Paul shows this clearly. He quotes the testimony of Moses, and says, Abraham believed God, and it [his faith] was counted to him for righteousness; and this saying, Paul explains by these words, to wit:
"Abraham was fully persuaded that what God had promised he was also able to perform: and therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness."
For Abraham, then, to be fully persuaded that what God had promised he was able to perform, was for him to believe God. "Now," adds the apostle, "it was not written for his sake alone, that it [faith] was imputed to him; but for our sakes also, to whom it [belief of God's promise] shall be imputed, if we believe on him who raised up Jesus from the dead."
To believe on God, then, is not merely to believe that he exists, (none but a fool would deny that,) but to believe what he promises; "against hope to believe in hope."
To believe on Jesus, I repeat, is to believe what he preached. Not simply that there was, and is, such a person. A man would be set down for an ignoramus who did not admit this; and deservedly so. He that has no more faith in Jesus than that he exists, or died and rose again, does not believe on Jesus. He may believe the same thing of Lazarus; but he does not therefore believe on Lazarus. To believe on a man, in the Scripture sense, you must believe what that man presents to you for faith. This is the great thing; for if you receive the man's doctrine, you receive him; if you reject that, you reject him also. "He rejecting me," says Jesus, "and not receiving my words-the word which I have spoken-the same shall condemn him in the last day." This is conclusive.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, April 1854
The Blind Beggar Controversy. -- The Pharisees and Resurrectional Responsibility.
"They which see" was a reference to the ruling class in Israel who had such a high opinion of their own discernment and enlightenment. The effect of Christ's mission upon them was to bring about a retribution in a most curious and interesting way. They were blind self-seekers, but they posed before the nation as the very guides of the blind and children of light, as the hierarchical class does to the present day. But how was this to be made apparent?
Not by merely proclaiming the fact, but by bringing them into contact with the very light of heaven which they pretended to follow -- by showing them this light in its very nakedness -- by bringing into their presence him who could truthfully say, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness." If they were of the light they would come to this light and rejoice in it. Did they? The reverse. They shrank from it, as it is written, "Light is come into the world, but men loved darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil."
The men therefore who said they saw, were convicted of blindness in their rejection of him who was the light, so that Jesus became a darkener of their eyes or a manifestor of their real state of blindness. It was part of his mission "that they which see might be made blind." He thus became a stumbling stone and rock of offence. The disobedient stumbled at him and over him, and were broken.
It was the most consummate exposure of spiritual sham that could have been devised, that by the highest manifestation of light the world has ever seen, the hypocritical professors of light should, by their own rejection of it, have become manifest as the children of darkness. Who knows by what similar test the clerical leaders of the present age may yet be manifested in their true character, when the time comes to say to Israel,
"Arise, shine, for thy light is come?"
The Pharisees seem to have been in the neighbourhood of Christ and the cured blind man, when the short but pregnant conversation above recorded took place. "Some of the Pharisees," we are told, heard these words." They supposed Christ was referring to them and said, "Are we blind also?" The answer of Christ has important bearings beyond its application to the Pharisees: bearings, too it may be remarked, for which popular theology has no place.
"If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, we see: therefore your sin remaineth."
What is this but the affirmation of the principle that people are not responsible where they are in a state of ignorance?
It may be said that popular theology does recognise this. It recognises it in the only way that its fundamental dogma of human immortality admits of, and that is a way that results in the nullification of another, and, if possible, more important scriptural principle. It says that those who are in a state of darkness -- such as the uncivilised "heathen," the idiotic, the insane, or children dying in infancy having no sin, according to the words of Christ -- are heirs of salvation and "go to heaven."
This idea makes salvation come through the operation of darkness. It overthrows the doctrine that darkness excludes a man from the possibility of salvation. This doctrine is one of the most plainly enunciated in the Bible.
Paul, speaking of "the Gentiles," who "walk in the vanity of their mind," says (Eph. iv. 18) they "have the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart."
David says that "the man that understandeth not is like the beasts that perish" (Psa. xlix. 20); and Solomon that "the man who wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead" (Prov. xxi. 16). With this agree the words in which Christ sent forth Paul to his gospel work: -- "... the Gentiles to whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive the forgiveness of their sins and inheritance among all them that are sanctified through the faith that is in me" (Acts xxvi. 17-18).
There must be some grave flaw in a theory of things that necessitates a view so expressly in opposition to the first principles of Bible teaching -- and not only so, but so self-manifestly absurd, and so demoralising; for if ignorance makes salvation certain, we have a new view of the moral universe and a new kind of incentive brought into action. Ignorance then becomes a desirable condition, and the true reforming effort would be to keep men undisturbed in their ignorance, and to keep knowledge at a distance as the most dangerous thing. Where is the flaw? It lies where few orthodox believers suspect it. It lies in the doctrine of the nature of man, which is the Greek doctrine -- the pagan doctrine -- not the Bible doctrine: the doctrine that man is an immortal being, and must sustain some relation of being everlasting.
This doctrine compels the other: for if a man must go to a hell of endless torment unless he attain a place among the blessed, every moral instinct revolts against the idea of sending the helplessly blind to that hell, and eagerly clutches at the relief suggested by the words of Christ, that the blind are not responsible. What is the escape from the difficulty? It lies in the fact that man is not an immortal being, but a mortal being -- who, when he dies, must be the subject of resurrection if he is to live again. That there shall be such a resurrection is the characteristic doctrine of the Christian system, as affirmed by Christ (Jno. v. 28, 29), illustrated in his own case (1 Cor. xv. 20), and categorically proclaimed by Paul before the tribunal of Festus:
"There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust" (Acts xxiv. 15).
That this resurrection is regulated by the principles of justice is what we should expect since "God is not unrighteous" (Heb. vi. 10), but "just and true in all His ways" (Rev. xv. 3). It is what is declared: that the dead shall be "judged according to their works" (Rev. xx. 12); that to whom much has been given, of them will much be required, and that things worthy of many stripes will be visited with many stripes, and things only calling for few stripes, with few stripes (Luke xii. 48).
In the operation of such principles of justice, there is no room for the arraignment of the class spoken of by Christ. While sinners, as all men are, they "have no sin" for which they are answerable: their circumstances preclude responsibility. Therefore, there is no resurrection. This, which would follow, is expressly declared, "They shall never see light" (Psa. xlix. 19). "They are dead, they shall not live: deceased, they shall not rise" (Is. xxvi. 14). They are as though they had not been (Obad. 16).
There can be no demur to such a conclusion, except on the score of human feeling. It seems to be assumed that the fact of a man having lived establishes a right to live again. This has only to be examined to be found without any warrant, either from reason or scripture. Why should the right be limited to those who have lived? Why not extend it to those who would have lived if accident had not barred the way, as in the case of the children who would have been born if young emigrant fathers and mothers, say had not been drowned through shipwreck?
As for the scriptures, they are very explicit -- that man has no rights at all, and can work out none, apart from the interposition of God's own favour in the gospel: that all have sinned and come short of His glory (Rom. iii. 23); that death has passed on all men (Rom. v. 12); that all are by nature children of wrath, and without hope (Eph. ii. 2-12); that it is of the Lord's mercy we are not consumed (Lam. iii. 22).
Resurrection at all is a favour -- not a right, except God's right that the responsible may be brought to account. It is the divine point of view that settles this question. So long as men only look from the stand-point of human feeling, they must flounder in the mire.
Let them realise that man is but a permitted form of the power of God (a power that assumes such endless forms throughout the universe), and they will cease to make human feeling a standard for the determination of questions in which eternal principles and the purpose of God are involved. They will see the perfect justice and the entire beneficence of the principles laid down by Christ -- that where men are in a condition of helpless ignorance, though sinners and under the power of death, they are not held accountable for their sin as regards the punishment waiting responsible sinners at the resurrection, but pass away out of being. It is fitting that the unfit for being should cease to be, and that they should not be held responsible for helpless misfortune.
"But now ye (Pharisees) say, we see. Therefore your sin remaineth."
The Pharisees were in reputation for divine enlightenment because they made much profession in this direction. In reality also they were much related to the light, though not personally controlled by it. They were the descendants of Levi, and members of the tribe to which had been assigned the function of ministering the law of the Lord to the body of the nation (Mal. ii. 7).
They had the law in their hands and devoted much time to a certain kind of acquaintance with it. In fact, as Jesus said on another occasion, they "sat in Moses' seat," and taught what was right "to observe and do," though giving no example that could be safely followed. Under all these circumstances, though blind as men are blind who are blinded by their own interests, Jesus affirmed they were responsible, and would one day be face to face with their responsibility under fearful circumstances: There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth when "ye shall see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and ye yourselves thrust out" (Luke xiii. 28).
The kingdoms of men in the ''Latter Years''
We are now hearing discussions, centering on NATO, that lay the foundational underpinnings for the formation of the brass mountain of the south, the new worldwide coalition that will face off against the Russian host-
This month marks the 70th anniversary of the birth of NATO, the most successful alliance in history. NATO's supporters, however; should not be content to glory in past achievements. They should be thinking about how to adapt alliances to a world in which the clash between liberalism and autocracy is worldwide.
The idea of globalizing U.S. alliances is not new. In 1961, John F. Kennedy called for a "grand and global alliance" uniting mankind against tyranny, poverty, disease, and war. During the George W. Bush years, there were calls to create a "global NATO:' or a "league of democracies." These Bush-era proposals went nowhere, in part because NATO was still recovering from the wounds inflicted by the Iraq War, and because there was not an obvious threat that would unite the world's democracies.
Today, however, circumstances are different. The world is fragmenting as authoritarian powers, principally China and Russia, work to undermine, revise and perhaps upend the liberal international order built by the U.S. and its allies.
Autocratic leaders in Moscow and Beijing understand that the dominance of liberal values poses an existential threat to their regimes, and that they will be more secure and geopolitically effective in a world where democracy has been weakened and autocracy is prevalent.
As China and Russia seek to expand their geopolitical power and influence, they are seeking to coerce and corrupt democratic political systems. They are also exporting the tools and examples of high-tech repression to fellow dictators around the world.
Russia has interfered in elections in Europe, the U.S. and Latin America. China uses influence operations and economic coercion to bend democracies to its will from Oceania to Eastern Europe. Analysts can argue about whether this is a "new Cold War." Yet it is undoubtedly a high-stakes struggle over both the balance of power and the balance of ideas. It demands that the world's democracies band together to defend their geopolitical interests and their political institutions.
Democracies across the world have growing experience with authoritarian economic coercion and aggression short of war; they can work together to build resilience and push back against these tactics.
The more the democracies can join forces to support liberalizing movements in authoritarian countries, and to pressure democratic governments that are backsliding into authoritarianism, the better they can preserve a global climate in which autocracies are isolated and marginalized. The goal is to build, over time, a common recognition that the world's democracies truly are in it together, and to develop patterns of cooperation to beat back the authoritarian threat.
There has been some progress already. The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (or "Quad") initiated in 2007 between the U.S., Australia, India and Japan is a democratic, multilateral group that is gradually doing more to preserve what the Trump administration calls the "free and open Indo-Pacific." The U.K. and France have joined America, Australia, Japan and other Pacific powers in defending freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.-Bloomberg, 4/19
THE COMMON ELEMENT OF THE BRASS MOUNTAINS
The worldwide polarization between two camps promises to bring "all nations" into the final conflict. However, territorially, the two mountains of brass will be fully formed when certain regions fall under the respective hands of the opposing camps. As Dr. Thomas so ably expresses it-
"At the epoch of the Four Chariots, that is, just before they are seen going forth, we learn from Daniel and Ezekiel, that there will be two antagonist dominions, the one occupying Egypt and the other Syria and the adjacent countries. The latter is the King of the North, existing on the political map in the Time of the End; and called Gog by Ezekiel: the other, the Kingdom of Egypt. These two mountains of brass will be in a state of war before the going forth of the cherubic chariots; and as Daniel tells us, the Egyptian province of the South Mountain of Brass will "not escape" subjection to the brass dominion of the north-"the land of Egypt shall not escape," 11:42. This will be the relative position of the two mountains, with the Holy Land between them, the battleground and bone of contention between the two powers, at the going forth of
"But, we may remark here, that though the rulers of the
two mountains, or the dominant race, will not be racially Greek, still the North Mountain of Brass will be Greek in its superstition, or State Ecclesiasticism; and the South Mountain also Greek, in the possession of the Greek islands of the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas: being, therefore, Hellenistic, ecclesiastically or geographically, or both, they are dominions of brass, occupying, in relation to the Holy Land, the same political status as the two kingdoms of the Ptolemies and Seleucidae" (Eureka, Vol. I, p. 77).
In considering this, we cannot and must not forget that the saints are not part of either of these two mountains, for preparatory to this final conflict, the saints will have been already called away for judgment. And for the righteous, their coalition into one glorious family and army under Christ must occur before they can ride forth as the chariots ofYahweh. The final invitees to this blessed gathering, called forth in the dying days of the Gentile Age, will have witnessed the portentous warnings of these Signs of the Times, and will have been separated from the world, and prepared.-T.D.C.
The Berean Christadelphian, April 2019
Exhort 176 conclusion...
The writer is a Jew-a Hebrew of the Hebrews. He is writing to believers in the hope of Israel at Rome. How comes he to be doing so? Because Christ had called him. Who was Christ? The son promised to David: begotten by the Spirit of God of David's seed. The promise had long been on record. It had but recently been fulfilled in the birth of Jesus, who, at the age of thirty, had presented himself to Israel as the son of God and the heir to David's throne, and having incurred the enmity of the ruling classes, had been put to death, as pre-arranged in the wisdom of God for the accomplishment of a purpose not contemplated by them-the taking away of in, and the establishment of a basis of reconciliation with God through Christ.
This Jesus, in three days raised from the dead, and in forty days more exalted to the God of Israel's right hand-was now preached by the apostles (to whom Paul, a persecutor, had been added in a special manner). He was preached as "the way" to forgiveness, and hope and life-the only name given under heaven for the salvation of men. Paul, in the chapters read, is writing to those who had received Jesus so preached by him-writing to establish them in the faith of Christ, and to enlighten them on many deep matters connected with it, with a view to their preparation for that final attainment of "glory, honour, and immortality" which he told them was the end of his work with them in Christ.
He tells them in chapter ix. that the heedlessness and unbelief of the vast mass of Israel will not interfere with God's purpose with them-that the word of God could not fail in its effect, and that the oppositions of the unbelieving class were only a part of the process by which the intended result would ultimately be reached; just as Pharaoh's opposition to Moses and Aaron was a part of the instrumentality by which the power of God was shewn. All this he sets forth for the comfort of those who are the called according to his purpose.
All things, he says, work together for their good. Their very afflictions befall them as a means of preparation for the glorious use that God purposes with them in the glorious ages to come. He asks, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" and declares that nothing created in heaven or earth, and nothing that can happen in the form of the direst disaster can "separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord," the Son of Abraham, the Son of David, the Son of God.
In all this, you perceive, we are in the current of things started in the beginning with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is one purpose, one work, one hope from the beginning. Our wisdom is to hold close and fast to it, giving ourselves daily to the reading of the word and to prayer, and addicting ourselves to those varied services which, though bootless in the eyes of men, the Scriptures assure us are precious in the eyes of God, and will at last be acknowledged and rewarded by him in circumstances of great honour and joy everlasting.
EUROPE UNDER CONSTANT THREAT
By the numbers, the European Union is a giant. Its economy exceeds China's by $7 trillion and is just a bit smaller than America's $20 trillion. But if one measures by its weight in world affairs, Europe is a runt.
At the end of the last century, its deadly foe, the Soviet Union, simply vanished, committing suicide on Christmas Day 1991 and leaving behind Russia and 14 orphan republics.
For the next 25 years, the nations of the EU cashed in their peace dividends, whittling their armies down to the core.
Take Germany, Europe's largest economy and the world's fourth-largest. After the Berlin Wall fell 30 years ago, the forces of the reunited country were cut by two-thirds, Its 2,800 tanks dwindled to 280. Today, its navy has six U-boats, none of which is operational. When Europe acts, it does so behind the United States, as in Afghanistan, Iraq, Serbia, and Libya or, if alone, out of real harm's way, as in Mali.
The halcyon days are over. Europe confronts new threats aplenty. Indeed, at no time since the birth of European integration in 1952 has the Old Continent faced so many perils all at once, inside and out.
Plotting to restore Russia's grandeur, Vladimir Putin is pressing on Europe from the east. He gobbled up Crimea, then sliced off Ukraine's southeast with his local surrogates. A new round of confrontation is unfolding in the Sea of Azov. Putin's purpose is to strangle Ukraine until it submits to Moscow's imperial ambitions. The Nord Stream gas pipelines between Russia and Germany are designed to tighten the noose on Kiev, circumventing Ukraine by pumping gas directly across the Baltic Sea. Dutifully protesting, Europe has neither the means nor the will to defend Ukraine, and economic sanctions are not popular.
From the south, Europe is besieged by vast civilian armies. North Africa is [a] springboard for potentially millions of African migrants in search of a better life. In the end, the reason Europe isn't rising to the moment is that "Europe" does not exist-not as a state and not as a strategic actor that can hold its own among the restive superpowers.
Power in Europe remains rooted in the European Council representing 27 governments jealously guarding their turfs. The "engine" of integration has always been the FrancoGerman "couple." This marriage has never been bliss incarnate; today it yokes two governments at odds with each other and their electorates. For a few years, Germany's Angela Merkel was feted as uncrowned empress of Europe. Now she is on the way out, paying the price of opening Germany's gates to a million-plus Mideast refugees in 2015-16.
As Merkel stumbled, France's Emmanuel Macron stepped up in a blaze of glamour, His rhetoric was as bold as his ambitions were grandiose. Elected in a landslide, he would make France great again by recasting it and grabbing the helm of the EU. [Then] the -YelloW" Vests" were set off by his "green" fuel tax. In truth. they went to war agains "Macronism" -the attempt to loosen up rigid labor markets and fracture ancient group privileges.
Merkel was not undone in the streets, but at the ballot box.
Say aut Wiedersehen to the legendary stability of Germany, which has gone through only eight chancellors while Italy has burned through 65 governments since the end of WWII. The system has splintered into six parties, two of which represent the radical left and right. Look forward to shaky coalitions and shorter-lived governments in a country that used to be Europe's rock of ages.
The Germans hearken back to the Holy Roman Empire, where power was spread across kingdoms, cities, and duchies. Especially after 12 years of Nazi totalitarianism, Germans have come to cling to federalism and states' rights, be it in Europe or at home. Decentralization is as German as Volkswagen and bratwurst.
[But] France remains the bastion of centralism. Macron wants a European budget and a European finance minister to spread the wealth from rich Germany to the stagnating South. With their balanced budget, the Germans naturally insist on fiscal rigor, pushing the members of "Club Med" to get their house in order. This tug-of-war between the (Protestant) North and the (Catholic) South has always bedeviled the EU, mimicking the religious divides of the 30 Years' War in the 17th century. Today, this is just one among many threats to "ever closer union."
[So] as the world is muscling in, the EU is drifting apart. Meanwhile, Poland and Hungary are marching to the beat of authoritarian nationalism. They will gladly take the goodies-billions in subsidies-from Brussels but refuse to obey its dictates of liberal-democratic virtue.
Italy is in a class of its own. In a historical first, it has voted right-wing and left-wing populists into power. Hostile brothers, the League and the Five Stars are held in harness by "Italy first" and anti-EU resentment. If they don't shrink the national debt, the eurozone's largest as a fraction ofthe GDP, the endless Greek euro crisis will look like a hiccup. With its tiny economy, Greece can be saved. Italy, Europe's fourth-largest, cannot.
Finally, there is the latter-day "Hanseatic League" that the Dutch are harnessing against the French, now that their natural ally Britain is absconding. Informal members are the Scandinavians, the Baltics, and Ireland. Germany is a silent partner because it is loath to challenge France directly.
In the tariff wars, President Trump deploys raw power to change the terms of trade in America's favor. His contempt for Europe, especially for Angela Merkel, is boundless. For him, Europe is a fat mouse too timid even to roar.
The U.S., China, and Russia are re-arming as they stake out spheres of influence. Where does that leave those 450m post- Brexit Europeans with the world's second-largest GDP? The 21st century does not favor this mighty "civilian power." Its best weapons, such as commerce, friendly persuasion, and institutionalized conflict resolution, are being blunted. For all the breathtaking advances of our time, the new arena of world politics looks more like the 18th and 19th centuries than the second half of the 20th, the Golden Age of the West. -Commentary, 1/19
This paints a very bad picture of Europe, and of a Union that with every passing year shows itself nearer to tearing itself apart: neighbour against neighbour, economy against economy; politics against politics. European mouths boast of great things, but the common will is missing. Rather than presenting a fortress Europe, the picture today is that of a row of dominoes, waiting for the first one to topple, with the rest quickly falling afterward.
NATO TO BE DISPLACED
The European powers recognize, although they only reluctantly admit, that the presence of NATO in their midst is the core of their present stability. We know that prophetically speaking, Western Europe is likened to 10 toes on Nebuchadnezzar's Image, just before the return of Christ, who as the small stone cut out without hands (Dan. 2:34, 42-44) will smite the Image on its feet. The picture is of multiple kingdoms not cleaving to each other, but partly strong, partly broken. Right now, as has been the case for the last 70 years, it is NATO that largely provides the coherency from a military standpoint, even as politics and economics seek to split these nations apart.
But NATO's days are numbered as the glue of Europe. Though resisting, it will be displaced by another unifying presence-this time the army of the Autocrat of Russia, Gogue, the Rus prince of Me she ch (Moscow) and Tubal (Tobolsk-which from the end of the 16th to the 18th centuries was the main military, administrative, political, and religious center of Siberia, and is the center of the Siberian province stretching from the Urals to the Pacific Ocean. It is logical to assume it will again return to prominence as the Russian Empire rebuilds). This new presence will mingle European iron and clay forcibly together.
The purpose of NATO since the downfall of the Soviet Union had been actively questioned for many years. During what may be termed the quiet years, when the U.S. was considered to be the superpower on the planet, there was no obvious point to a military alliance without an enemy to face.
But an enemy has once again arisen to the North. And there is an increasing conflict building between democracy and authoritarianism. We have been watching as this conflict has begun t-o move countries politically into certain spheres. This, we anticipate based on Zechariah's prophecy, will eventually result in two great power-coalitions represented by two mountains of brass (chapter 6:1). One mountain power will represent liberal democracy as the South, headed by the old Lion of Tarshish-Britain; the other will represent authoritarianism and despotism under the Russian Empire as the North. These mountains must be in place and in conflict before the four chariots-indicative of Christ and the saints-emerge in their midst to execute Yahweh's will (6:4-5).
We are now hearing discussions, centering on NATO, that lay the foundational underpinnings for the formation of the brass mountain of the south, the new worldwide coalition that will face off against the Russian host-
RISE OF THE SOUTHERN MOUNTAIN OF BRASS
The Berean Christadelphian, April 2019
It is not wise to have the exercises of a meeting in such an order that they are needlessly tiring. When prayer follows a long hymn, some have to sit down, and all feel it to be a strain on mortal power, when two standing exercises follow each other. The best way is to have reading after singing. This gives rest, and prepares every one to rise with comfort and fervour to prayer.
The Birmingham ecclesia has borrowed more than one good thing from other places-such, for example, as adopting the readings of the day by The Bible Companion for the public readings. It has been governed simply by the appreciation of what is excellent. It grieves them, therefore, to hear of anyone elsewhere refusing to adopt a good thing because it is done in Birmingham.
When a man says: "If a thing is done at Birmingham, that is a reason why we should not do it," he speaks not as a brother, or even as a man, but as a petty school lad, or as a Gentile boor. Wisdom and love should reign. A thing should be done for its own sake, and not because it is done or not done by others. This is the rule now more than it has been in times past. But the spirit of Cain will linger till the day of Abel's unquestionable and irresistible power.
Some complain of what they conceive of as a growing emasculation in the style of advocating the truth. They would like the clergy denounced a little more vigorously "as at the beginning," say they. One man actually interrupted a lecture recently to tell the lecturer to "wire into the parsons" a little more decidedly.
Different people will take this differently. The man who aims only to make the Bible influential has no relish for the democratic pugilism that delights in tearing and rending and scorning. "Railers shall not inherit the Kingdom of God," and the thing that delights the dogs of an audience comes very near the crime of railing. Let us be as firm as possible in contending for the faith delivered to the saints; but if, with no diminution of strong principle, there has been a softening down of strong language, it is a change that will be welcomed by good men as an improvement.
"Rule 35" of the Birmingham ecclesial constitution has no reference to cases where first principles are in question. Two ecclesias differing in judgment as to first principles, have no basis of approximation. The Rule relates solely to disputed questions of personal action and character, as to which, it is possible for even two men to be righteously disagreed in their opinion concerning a third person. The suggestion of the rule was that in such a question, those divided in opinion might agree to differ without any compromise of principle, and that the interests of peace should lead us as far as we can in this direction. It is a misapplication to bring it to bear when the question is whether we are or are not to tolerate the doctrine of a partly human and erring Bible.
The Christadelphian, April 1887
MR. ROBERTS: Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish there were time to follow all the little points Mr. Stern has raised. I must content myself with one or two. They are all equally fallacious, and the last is certainly no exception.
The case of Peter is not in the position he represented. Moses does not say "Whosoever shall deny that prophet shall be cut off", but whosoever will not hearken to "that prophet", in the sense of ultimately receiving and submitting to him, shall be destroyed.
His disciple Peter, under great pressure gave way to the temptation to deny him for a moment. It was but a moment. Immediately "he went out and wept bitterly". And is there no such thing as forgiveness? Is not the God of Israel a gracious God, forgiving iniquity and transgression?
Have the Jews no sins to be forgiven, and will not forgiveness be extended to them if they repent? Even the murder of His own Son, He offers to forgive on conditions of repentance and faith.
Then he raised a question with regard to men who wrote the New Testament. He admits they were illiterate, and contends they were unable to write these documents, and therefore it was not written by them. I answer the argument upon the principle that shines through this little remark of the Jews which we find in John 7:15, where it says the Jews marvelled, saying
"How knoweth this man (JESUS) letters, HAVING NEVER LEARNED?"
Let Mr. Stern answer that question with regard to Jesus, and he will answer it with regard to his disciples. It is one of the strongest evidences of the Messiahship of Jesus that in connection with his word, illiterate men performed that which was impossible for them to do unless supernaturally assisted, which they were. The Spirit was sent upon them and produced results which caused the Jews to marvel. As we read in Acts 4:13,
"Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, THEY MARVELLED". What is the explanation? They had something besides their illiterateness. What was it? God worked with them, confirming their words with signs following. The promise of Christ was fulfilled, that the Spirit of truth should come to them and bring all things to their remembrance, whatsoever he had spoken to them.
Then Mr. Stern seemed to be very much stung by my calling him a Jew. From my point of view, it is the most honourable name in the earth. Salvation is of the Jews. Christ was a Jew. All the apostles were Jews. I look forward to the time when ten men shall take hold of the skirts of him that is a Jew and say "We will go with thee, for we have heard that God is WITH THEE". But when the time comes, the "God with them" will be Jesus of Nazareth whom they crucified -- Emmanuel.
AN EXPOSITION OF THE APOCALYPSE
Section 2 Subsection 3a
Sealed up with Seven Seals
Now, in the apocalyptic drama, the Philadelphian and Laodicean parties of the Antipagan Body are represented by a Woman in two several and different conditions. The woman apart from the relations of each condition, represents the Antipagan Community as a whole, and irrespective of the many sects within its pale. When the power of the Deity with the Constantinians, symbolically styled "Michael and his Angels," was casting the Pagan Sin-power out, so that place should be found for it no more in the heaven; the Woman appeared in it arrayed in all the insignia of imperial state.
This was a period of revolution, in which power was passing from the pagan classes to the catholics. The former "prevailed not;" for their armies were beaten and dispersed by the catholic forces of Constantine, who became Emperor of Rome, and proclaimed the superstition of the Laodiceans, the religion of the Roman State. Thus truly, "a wonder appeared in the heaven" of Daniel's Fourth Beast, the church, professedly christian, in union with the world -- adulterously united to another than Christ, to the state; and therefore, in friendship with the world!
Of the spiritual relation of such a church to Deity there can be no mistake on the part of one intelligent in the word. "The world's friendship," says James, "is enmity with God. Whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." The said "Holy Apostolic Catholic" party is therefore unquestionably God's enemy; and so are all such, together with all that fellowship the union in all ages and generations, until the saints possess the world and rule it in righteousness.
The catholic party being a worldly party, their leading spirits, or teaching prophets, were "of the world, therefore they speak of the world, and the world heareth them." This is an infallible rule by which the world's priests, or clergies, may be known. The spirit that is in them is the spirit that is in the world -- "the spirit that works in the children of disobedience." It was predicted that Anti-christ should come (1 John ii. 18; iv. 3). He was to be manifested through false teaching concerning the flesh, or nature, of Jesus.
In John's day there existed "many antichrists," who denied that Jesus Anointed came in "the flesh." They affirmed that he came in another sort of flesh than that which is common to all men in a holier nature, that was immaculate, or pure and undefiled. This dogma, of course, rendered null and void the teaching of the word which declares the condemnation of sin in the flesh, in the bearing in his own body the sins of believers to the tree, when nailed thereon by the predetermination of Deity.
This, says John, was that of the Antichrist that should come. It was a dogma that had many advocates so early as apostolic times. Its teachers repudiated the fellowship of the apostles, and "went out from them, because they were not of them." In denying the true nature of Jesus, they preached "another Jesus;" and in so doing, denied that the Jesus whom Paul preached was the Christ: and in denying this, denied that the Father was manifested in common human flesh; and, therefore, denied the Father and the Son; "for whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father."
"He is the antichrist," saith John, "that denieth the Father and the Son;" and "this is the Deceiver and the Antichrist." "He that abideth not in the doctrine of Christ hath not God" -- of the true teachings of God-manifestation he is wholly and necessarily ignorant.
Now, in the Catholic element of the Woman, the dogma characteristic of the Antichrist was embodied. It only waited for a Head to become politically manifest. That head was the Imperial Dynasty begotten in the woman-community by the working of the Mystery of Iniquity, and born of her in the appearance of what the world designates "THE FIRST CHRISTIAN EMPEROR."
This son was the Man of Sin in his birth, and the Head of the Holy Apostolic Laodicean Catholic Apostasy, that was to rule all nations with a rod of iron -- the Antichrist, that had forced its way up to Deity, and usurped his throne.
In the consummation of this revolution in the civil and ecclesiastical constitution of Daniel's Fourth Beast, the world had imposed upon it a despotism more "dreadful and terrible" than its predecessor, and no less the enemy of God and the persecutor and destroyer of his saints. No sooner had the Laodiceans become victorious over their pagan adversaries, and had acquired political power, than they became violent oppressors of all who did not conform to the standard of what they were pleased to style "orthodoxy."
As the party and power of the Man-child escaped from the devouring jaws of the pagan Dragon, and were enthroned in his place, they persecuted the Philadelphian party which abode in the doctrine of Christ; and the woman became a fugitive from imperial glory, in the sunshine of whose favour the unsealed professors of the world's substitute for the one faith and hope of the gospel have basked from the consummation of the Sixth Seal to the present century of the unfinished Seventh.
After the perfecting of the revolution of the fourth century, the issue was no longer the Saints versus Imperial Paganism; but "the Remnant of the Woman's Seed" versus the Imperial Laodicean Apostasy, known in history as "The Holy Catholic Church." It assumed to itself this name after it had been "spued out of the mouth of the Spirit" as an unholy abomination beyond all possibility of redemption. Prosperity accelerated corruption with rapid strides until the patience of Deity had reached its limit. Consumption and utter destruction of the antichristian apostasy were predetermined at a time duly fixed and revealed.
The Lawless Power, ho Anomos, "that opposeth and exalteth itself over all called god, or reverenced; so that he in the temple of the god as a god sitteth, showing forth himself that he is a god;" this absolute power, styled in Dan. xi. 36-39, "the king who does according to his will, and exalts himself and magnifies himself above every god," was to prosper till the indignation against Israel be accomplished. He is then to stand up against the Prince of princes (Dan. viii. 25), who will consume him with the Spirit of his mouth, and destroy him with the manifestation of his presence" (2 Thess. ii. 4-8).
This is the consummation that presents itself as the completion of the Seventh Seal prophecy; during all of which this the Antichrist is seen developing itself with intense ferocity and impiety against "the Deity, his name, his tabernacle and them that dwell in the heaven" (Apoc. xiii. 6).
Current Events Fulfilling Prophecy
RUSSIA DISAVOWED AS EUROPEAN PARTNER
The European Parliament has overwhelmingly voted to approve a report stating that Russia "can no longer be considered a 'strategic partner'" and that "the EU cannot envisage a gradual return to 'business as usual' until Russia fully implements the  MinskAgreement [a process for achieving peace in eastern Ukraine] and restores the territorial integrity of Ukraine."
The document says European lawmakers are "deeply concerned about the links between the Russian government and the extreme right and populist nationalist parties and governments in the EU, such as in Hungary" and calls for an "EU-wide mechanism allowing the screening of political parties' funding," and measures to be taken "to avoid some parties and movements being used to destabilize the European project from within. "
The report also voices concern "over the potentially hundreds of billions of euros being laundered through the EU every year by Russian companies and individuals looking to legitimize the proceeds of corruption."
EU lawmakers also underlined that the under-construction Nord Stream 2 pipeline project to carry gas from Russia to Germany underneath the Baltic Sea "reinforces EU dependency on Russian gas supplies, threatens the EU internal market, and is not in line with EU energy policy or its strategic interests, and therefore needs to be stopped."
The text [also] "reiterates that Russia has no right of veto over the Euro-Atlantic aspirations of European nations" and "calls on the Russian authorities to condemn communism and the Soviet regime, and to punish the perpetrators of the crimes and offenses committed under that regime."-RFE/RL, 3/19
Europe has finally been forced to recognize the ongoing negative influence of Russia, acknowledging that, as it has been and continues to do so in places like Crimea, Ukraine, Syria and Venezuela, Russia is working through certain influential parties to disrupt political unity and stability within the EU. This significant vote, though under reported, may bring true Russian aspirations regarding Europe to light.
We know Russia is to conquer Europe, as laid out in Ezekiel 38:1-7 and alluded to in Hab. 2:6-8. Europe is just beginning to awaken to this prospect, and fearfully calls on Russia to renounce the glories of the Soviet Union, lest Russia once again march forth out of the motherland with dreams of conquest and Eurasian Empire.
The Berean Christadelphian, April 2019
"The Spirits" Tried and Found Wanting
Dr. Cory bids us follow the apostolic exhortation to "Try the Spirits." The advice is very good when taken in its proper sense. The apostle, however, does not mean, "Go to Madams Long, Brown, and Coan, and try their familiar spirits." To one who understands the word, such an exhortation would be a self-evident absurdity; because no enlightened man would expect to find spirits worthy of the least respect in familiarity with Gentile women, ignorant, and consequently faithless and disobedient to the gospel of the kingdom of God.
In the apostle's day, the "spirits" he speaks of were "spiritual gifts," received by men and women who had previously become obedient to the faith, and imparted to them by the laying on of apostolic hands with prayer. (Acts 8:15-17.) These "spirits," or gifts, were subject to those who possessed them; for Paul says, "The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets." These gifts were styled spirits, because they were manifestations, not of so many different spirits, but of the One Spirit of God, which divided the gifts to every recipient severally as He willed. (1 Cor. 14:32; 12:7, 11.)
There is no instance of the Spirit willing spirits to Gentiles ignorant of the gospel of the kingdom since the Lord Jesus received gifts for men. (Ephes. 4:8, 11.) Those who now profess to be intimate with "the spirits" are disobedient unbelievers, to whom God does not grant his Holy Spirit. Before men can receive this, granting it to be given in these days, (of which I have seen no evidence as yet,) men must believe the gospel and obey it.
Some who received spirits, or spiritual gifts, after baptism, (Acts 8:16; 5:32,) fell into grievous errors of doctrine; and prostituted the gifts, or spirits, subjected to them, to the confirmation of their teaching. Among these errors was the denial of Christ's having come in the flesh. These were "false prophets," or teachers having the gift of prophecy, (1 Cor. 12:10,) by which they could speak to edification, exhortation, and comfort; (1 Cor. 14:3;) or, by misusing it, to the perversion of their brethren.
They went out from the ecclesias of Christ; John styles them, also, "antichrists;" who, he says, "went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."
In another place he calls these antichrists, or false prophets, deceivers, and spirits, because they were of the spiritual men, or of the class having spiritual gifts; for these were not common to all the members of the ecclesias. John warned his brethren against these Nicolaitans, saying, "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, (that Christ has come in the flesh,) receive him not into your house, neither bid him God-speed; for he that biddeth him God-speed is a partaker of his evil deeds."
Now, in order to ascertain whether these spirits should be admitted to Christian hospitality and good wishes, they were to be tried. Those exhorted to try them were not ordered to run after them with fifty cents or a dollar in hand to fee every witch reported to have familiar spirits; but to examine the pretenders who presented themselves as claimants of your Christian courtesy, before you opened your house and heart to them. The test question was, "Do you believe that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh?" If he said, "I do," then the spirit was known to be a prophet of the right stamp; but, if he replied, "I do not," he was known to be a Nicolaitan or Gnostic, "whose deeds," says Jesus, "I hate." (Rev. 2:6, 15.)
But this test-question is no longer equal to the detection of fictitious spirits, false prophets, antichrists, and deceivers. These troublers have shifted their ground. They aim at the same result as their evil generation did in the days of the apostles, only they propose to attain to it by different expedients. Their aim is to draw away disciples after themselves for their own advantage, and in doing this, they find it necessary to get quit of Moses and the Prophets, with the testimony and teaching of the Apostles.
They admit that Christ came in the flesh, and therefore died, was buried, and rose again; but they refuse to confess the law and the testimony as the sufficient rule of faith and practice. Hence they abandon "the word that lives and abides to the age," and seek for the living to "the dead," who, as the Scripture saith, "Know not any thing."Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, April 1854
A TREATISE ON THE JUDGMENT OF THE DEAD
T H E APPEARING OF CHRIST
The analogy of nature is often referred to in the Scripture in illustration of the deep things of the Spirit. It is reasonable that the one should be laid under contribution in expounding the other ; because the beings to be taught are natural beings ; and the exponent is the Creator of them all. The explanation I have given of the manner in which consciousness of identity is impressed upon newly created beings, was suggested by the remarkable effect of lightning
recently observed upon the bodies of a man and his son, killed by a flash while sheltering under a tree.
A perfect likeness of the tree was flashed upon them. " Whatsoever doth make manifest is the
light." The lines and shadows of the tree had been imparted to the subtle fluid, so that, when it touched their bodies, it flashed upon them a likeness identical with the original; and thus the likeness was transferred from the lightning to the bodies.
All that is required in resurrection is, identity of form or image, and identity of likeness : so that the intellectual and moral likeness of a pre-resurrectional man be not flashed upon the post-resurrectional image of a woman. This would be confusion.
From this view of the development of identity, it will be seen how futile are all human efforts to circumvent resurrection. The enemies of the saints in various ages have thought to prevent their resurrection by burning their bodies, and scattering their dust to the winds ! But, the Lord in heaven holds all such enterprises in derision. Any other dust may do as well; the power of identity not residing there ; but in the character already formed being flashed by the spirit upon the new creature.Comment: Some have been worried about cremation and organ donation but as Bro Thomas says any dust will do
The Blind Beggar Controversy.
Jesus then cures the blind man in the indirect way observed in the case of the blind man at Bethsaida. Returning from the pool of Siloam, he is in full possession of his sight. His neighbours, who had long known him as a blind way-side beggar, are struck at his now being able to see as well as any of them. They asked him how it came about, and he tells them. Where was this "man that is called Jesus" who had performed this wonderful cure? He did not know. The case is so extraordinary that his neighbours bring the man to the Pharisees. They also ask into the particulars, and receive the same information, with this addition, that the cure was performed by Jesus on the Sabbath day.
Their shortsightedness was manifest in the comment they made: "This man is not of God because he keepeth not the Sabbath day." Some of the bystanders were more penetrating. They said, "How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles?" To do good on the Sabbath might not be sin: to perform a miracle was evidently divine. There was force in this, and a division of opinion was the result.
The Pharisees were evidently in a quandary. They turned to the blind man himself who had been cured, and asked his opinion. "What sayest thou of him that hath opened thine eyes?" The man did not hesitate in the only verdict the facts admitted of: "He is a prophet." But the Pharisees would not have it: they were invincible in their bias against a man who had wounded their pride by condemning their ways. Yet they were in a dilemma.
The contention that a miracle was beyond the powers of a sinner had made its impression. They therefore affected to question the fact of the miracle. "They did not believe that the man had been blind and received his sight." The people of an opposite mind produced evidence. The parents of the man were called. Now, ye Pharisees, examine the witnesses. "Is this your son?" "Yes." "Was he blind?" "Yes, he was born blind." "How then doth he now see?" On this point the parents were non-committal. "The Jews had agreed already that if any man did confess that Jesus was the Christ, he should be put out of the Synagogue" -- a serious affair in days when membership of the Synagogue was the basis of civil rights among the Jews.
The parents were afraid of such a consequence; therefore, though they believed in their hearts, as any parent would have done, on the testimony of his own son, that their son's sight had been restored by Jesus, they shielded themselves in their personal ignorance.
"By what means he now seeth, we know not: or who hath opened his eyes, we know not. He is of age: ask him; he shall speak for himself."
This did not help the case. The Pharisees had already questioned the man, and had received an unpalatable answer. They thought it no use asking him again. So, with an air of superiority, they decided to close the case with a paternal exhortation to the man: "Give God the praise: we know this man is a sinner:" cheap piety which we see so often exemplified in our own day, by which men with religious unction perform the most irreligious offences against the institutions, the Scriptures, and the servants of God. ("Praise God, but these men who serve him are evil: the Bible is to be taken with qualifications; the belief and obedience of the Gospel is an affair of bigotry.") The blind man had wit enough for the occasion:
"Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not. One thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see."
This coming back upon a central fact is good when there is one to come back upon. It is the saving of many an important truth. In the matter of the Gospel, its divinity, its validity, its obligatoriness, its value -- the central fact is the resurrection of Christ. Critics may gloss over a good deal; they cannot get rid of this. The evidence (and who in affairs of moment disregards the evidence?) -- the evidence is such as to justify simple-minded, discerning men in saying, "One thing I know, if evidence proves anything, Christ rose from the dead, and this settles his case against all rival claims under the sun."
The logic of the blind man's remark was powerful, though indirect. It left the Pharisees no reasonable ground for rejoinder. So their temper broke, as always happens with their class in like circumstances. "They reviled him." Their vilification was mixed with just a trace of reasonable boast: "We are Moses' disciples: we know that God spake by Moses." So far, so good: God did speak by Moses; that is one of the inexpungable facts of history, which all the polished criticism of the 18th and 19th centuries have left unscathed in the convictions of such as have acquainted themselves with the facts at first hand.
But the Pharisees made a mistake in placing this fact against Christ. If they could but have seen it, the case stood the other way. The fact of God having spoken by Moses necessitated the wonderful fact foreshadowed by Moses, and now exhibited before their eyes, that God would place His words in the mouth of a man raised up among them "from their midst." But they did not see. They did not want to see. They were outwardly righteous before men, but were inwardly actuated by the basest motives; and towards Christ could feel nothing but the deadliest animosity, because of his exposure of their iniquity. They shut their eyes to the plainest indication of facts. "As for this fellow, we know not whence he is."
In this they laid themselves open to the crushing rejoinder with which an illiterate blind man possessed of common sense was able to overwhelm them.
"Why, herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes! Now, we know that God heareth not sinners, but if any man be a worshipper of God and doeth His will, him He heareth. Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing."
A vigorous and irresistible sally like this, from the mouth of one of the common people, and the least gifted of them, was probably prompted by a higher impulse than the cured blind man was conscious of. It may have been of the order referred to by the Spirit in David in the words: "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise."
The thought is warranted by the fact that it was Christ that was in question, and that the husbandmen of Israel's vineyard were in rebuke. God, who rebuked the madness of a prophet by the mouth of a dumb ass, would be likely to use in defence of His son the mouth of a man who had been cured by Christ. Such boldness and incisiveness were very unlikely to characterise a beggar's thoughts. At all events, it was too much for the lofty hypocrites; nothing but flouts and excommunications remained. "Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out."
The blind man does not himself appear to have understood who his benefactor was. He was not long left in ignorance. Jesus took early occasion to introduce himself to his notice. "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" The man answered, "Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?" The use of the term "Lord" on his part would merely be in courtesy, as when in our day we say "Master" or "Sir." Jesus avowed himself in that gentleness and majesty of style which was foreshadowed in the words of the Psalm: "Grace is poured into thy lips;" "Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee." The man's state of mind prepared him for the right reception of this revelation.
Some people do at once see and surrender to the claims of truth. Most people have reservations and endless dimnesses. They say "I cannot see that," and it is true. This man was of the lucid order of mind which sees with the clearness and accepts with the docility of childhood.
"Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him." "Worshipped him!" Yes, why not? It is written, "Let all the angels of God worship him;" and John beheld them in vision comply. He "heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, saying with a loud voice, worthy is the Lamb that was slain." Shall we, with the puny, frost-bitten Unitarian ideas of this nineteenth century of darkness, refuse to bend the knee where angels spend themselves in celestial raptures? Nay, verily: "To Him every knee shall bow and every tongue confess to the glory of God the Father."
Christ accepted the worship, and spoke confidentially to the man as to the purpose for which he had come into the world at that time. His words were apparently mystical, yet literally true when understood. Their vagueness was due to the situation and the topic.
"For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see, and that they which see might be made blind." "They which see not" was an allusion, in the first place, to what Christ had done to the blind man, but happily defined the larger class of blindness which is universal in the world, and for whose cure he sent an apostle forth in these words:
"To whom (the Gentiles) now I send thee that thou mightest open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light."
When we turn from these vast problems of reason to the actual facts exhibited in human history, we find still stronger reason for agreeing with David about the man who says there is no God. For here God stands revealed before us. Here is this Bible whose existence and character cannot be accounted for on any other principle. There is the Jewish race that
"Roams the scorning world around"
whose history is inexplicable apart from divine interference. There is the ascendancy of the name Christ among the civilized nations of mankind, which has no feasible explanation apart from the resurrection of Christ and the miracles of the apostles. There is, besides all this, the extraordinary fact, that, of the hundreds of prophecies of the Bible applicable to ages past and to times and events now current, there has been not one failure.
When all these things are put together, their effect is overpowering. Men may fail to see the facts through other things blinding their eyes, but the facts are there, and no logical mind can miss the conclusion-the glorious conclusion-to which they point,-that God is, and that God has spoken, and consequently we have this exhilarating truth to rest on, that "He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."
Wherever we look in upon the matters contained in the Bible, we find the work of God in progress in some form or other, and all one work-not disjointed acts having no connection one with another, but things and acts that form part of a connected plan reaching from the beginning of things upon the earth to the second appearing of Christ in power and great glory.
Here in Exodus we have the commencement of the process. In this early generation of Israel, we recognise "the fathers," and in Moses, we have the greatest of all "the prophets," and in the things about to be transacted, we have the most palpable and impressive of all the "speakings" that God performed by the one to the other. The foundation was then laid for the things that came after and which culminated in the appearance and crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. The things spoken of were connected with all that we read of afterwards, down to the closing prayer in John's "Revelations": "Come, Lord Jesus; come quickly."
They all pertain to Israel and the God of Israel. They are all beautiful and righteous and full of hope. Rightly estimated, they are the only interesting and truly important things upon earth. All human things apart from these are transient as a flower and worthless as the tinsel on the toys of children. The purpose that God has purposed in connection with Israel has in it the root of every good the heart can desire. God is in that purpose and that work all the way through, and God is everlasting, and from Him will come that perfect adjustment of human life in all its relations which is essential to the realisation of the end and aim for which the planet was made. It is an uninformed state of mind that sees nothing but narrowness and sterility and obsoleteness in the Jews and their literature.
The Bible does not ask us to look at the Jews for what they are in themselves. At every stage, it paints them as we find them. It asks us to look at the God of the Jews, who has chosen them for His own end and who says in reference to their restoration,
"Not for your sakes do I this, O house of Israel. Be it known unto you. Be ashamed and confounded for your own evil way."
Acquaintance with the Bible enables us to look at the subject as the Bible asks us to look at it, and thus we steer clear of the stumbling-blocks encountered by those who look at it from the outside, who see only the peculiarities and idiosyncrasies of a perverse and ignoble race, and who miss the glory to be seen by those who go inside of the subject and see it from the standpoint of God's own purpose of goodness.
In our reading from the Psalms (53.-55.) we are not with a different affair though it might seem so. We are only at another stage of the same thing. We are with Israel seated in the Holy Land about 500 years after Moses led them out of Egypt. We are with David enthroned as their king, and writing by the Spirit of God upon him. His theme is related to the purpose of God with Israel. He laments the obtuseness of the common run of people with regard to God, and the consequent prevalence of violence and darkness. He longs for what God has purposed with Israel.
"Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion!"
He prays that meanwhile he may be shielded from the machinations of ungodly men who are bent upon his destruction. He groans with pain of heart, and confesses that fear and horror have invaded his soul, by reason of the activity and success of men of enmity who have no fear of God before their eyes. In all this, he outlines a mental condition that answers exactly to what is experienced by men in every age, who believe in the God of Israel and have made His Word their portion. It is all within the compass of the ground marked out and all built on the foundation laid at the beginning, when God openly interfered to bring Israel out of Egypt by Moses.
Was Jesus of Nazareth The Messiah?
THIRD NIGHT of DEBATE
Mr. Robert Roberts and Mr. Louis Stern, Oct. 1871
Mr. Stern's position with regard to the originals is really too trifling to notice. I deny that he can produce the Hebrew originals of the writings of Moses, if he means the real documents that he wrote -- the very parchment which the pen of Moses moved upon in inscribing the words he wrote. The documents no longer exist; for it was not in the nature of the substance on which they were written to last so long; but does that fact interfere with the faith of the Jews? That it does not, is evident from Mr. Stern's belief in them; and again I say, if Mr. Stern can believe in the writings of Moses, in the absence of the originals, having otherwise good reasons for doing so, he cannot find fault with me under precisely similar circumstances, doing the same thing with regard to the New Testament.
Having noticed so much in his last speech as calls for notice, I proceed with the evidence upon which I was engaged, and I do so by anticipating a retort that might be made in connection with the evidence I have already produced. It may be said that Jesus of Nazareth, in the position in which he is put forward as God manifest in the flesh, is an interference with the Jewish doctrine delivered by Moses, that there is but one God. I, therefore, wish to call your attention to this, that the doctrine of the New Testament is not that Jesus is a second God, but that he is subordinately related to the great fountain of universal power, who revealed himself to Israel by Moses and the prophets.
This can be shown by quoting the testimony of those who quoted the testimony of Christ. I first refer you to the Acts of the Apostles 2:22, where Peter, the leader of the Apostles, gives the definition in these words:
"Ye men of Israel, hear these words. Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and signs which GOD DID by him in the midst of you, as ye, yourselves also know".
This does not present the Trinitarian idea, which I admit is a great obstacle with the Jews; but an obstacle that does not exist in my case, because I uphold the doctrine that there is but one God the Father and one Lord Jesus Christ, His son. In Acts 10:38, we have the same doctrine enunciated. Peter again being the speaker whilst in the house of Cornelius, where he says that GOD anointed Jesus with the power which he exercised. In I Cor. 3:23, we find God put in a position of supremacy over Jesus. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, says
"All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things to come: all are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is GOD'S".
In this you see a gradually-ascending chain; we are at the bottom; Christ intermediate; God at the top, an order which you will see presented in I Cor. 11:3:
"I would have you to know that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is GOD".
In Ephesians 4:5-6, the same idea stands prominently out: "There is one Lord (that is the Lord Jesus Christ) ... one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all, and in you all".
In the first chapter of Heb., a very beautiful epistle, you find Paul presenting Jesus in the same light: "GOD, who at sundry times and in divers manners, spake, in time past, unto the fathers by the prophets, hath, in these last days, spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down by the right hand of Majesty on high, being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels hath he said, Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee; and again, I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son?"
It is thus shown that God spoke through Jesus of Nazareth; and this is a doctrine which is surely not impossible for a Jew to receive, seeing that God spake through the angel at the bush, and when that angel appeared to Moses, did he not say, "I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?"
If God can speak through an angel, surely He can speak through a man who was begotten by Himself, and whom He has provided as a channel of approach to Himself.
In 1 John 1 the same doctrine is presented: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and our hands have handled, of the word of life (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested unto us); that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His son Jesus Christ".
In the gospel of John, the first two verses, you have the same doctrine expressed: "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and THE WORD WAS GOD; the same was in the beginning with God, and was manifested unto us, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth".
Royal visit to Birmingham
A great stir has been caused in Birmingham by a visit from the Queen. The immediate occasion of the visit was the laying of the foundation of a public building ("the new law courts"); but the visit was understood and accepted as the beginning of the celebration of the Jubilee of Her Majesty's reign...
The only representation the truth had in the midst of the general display was the exhibition of a large banner, 21 feet square, bearing the words "An Open Bible the Glory of Victoria's Reign." The words had a meaning the public would not appreciate, namely, that the Bible had been opened during the last 50 years.
The exhibition of the banner combined a testimony for the truth with the manifestation of respect for the powers that be which are ordained of God for the time being. The subject of the relation of the brethren to such a matter was the topic of an informal and friendly exchange of thought at the Thursday night meeting, March 17th. A brother had referred disparagingly to the preparations for the Royal Visit, remarking how much good the money spent on them would do if distributed among the poor.
Brother Shuttleworth said he did not quite relish that view of the subject. We were commanded to give honour to the rulers, and it seemed to him that those who took part in the honouring of human rulers would be more likely to bow the knee to Christ at His coming than those who acted in the spirit of the Bradlaugh sentiment, of "Down with everything that's up."
Brother Roberts supported brother Shuttleworth's remarks, arguing that even on the score of political expediency, it was wise to maintain and honour the throne as the keystone of the social arch. When the French, nearly a hundred years ago, struck off their king's head, they were not long before they would have given all they had to have it on again. The abolition of royalty liberated the lawless elements at the base of society, and when power came into the hands of the mob, there was an end of all security for any man.
The people began cutting off each other's heads, until blood flowed like water. It was not until another king arose, Napoleon I., that safety returned. British royalty was a poor provision for the real needs of mankind. Nevertheless, it was better than popular anarchy. It was at least an ornamental and comfortable form for the current barbarism to have, and for the time being it was a divine arrangement to which it was the duty of the saints to be in respectful submission.
The Christadelphian, April 1887.
Pulpitology the Parent of Popular Foolishness
When one enters an ecclesiastical conventicle, and listens to the speechification of the pulpit occupant, what use is he observed to make of Moses and the Prophets? Literally none! The Bible is not expounded. It has fallen into desuetude in that respect; and referred to only for the text, or the pro forma reading of a chapter. The people have been brought to this by the incompetency of the clergy, who know not how rightly to divide the word; nor dare they if they did; for a right division would destroy their creeds, expressed or understood. The people now like to have it so; and the clergy, who live upon them, are obliged to do their pleasure. So true is it, that "like priest like people," and vice versa.
The people thus bedrugged have unscriptural views of every thing. There is no topic, however, upon which they make such egregious blunders as that of "spiritual operations."
They are unable to distinguish between the spirit of their own brain and nervous system in its workings, and the operation of the Holy Spirit of God. All the workings of their brain-flesh on theologico-metaphysical topics, they most erroneously ascribe to the Spirit of God.
By this ascription they heap upon God all the utter foolishness they detail in what they call their experiences, or God's dealings with their souls! I have impatiently listened to accounts of such dealings with souls, which, if they had been attributed to the operation of my spirit upon the narrator, would have made me highly indignant at the idea that I could have been supposed fool enough to deal with any man's soul after such a fashion.
Oh that the people did but know themselves! But of his own constitution and the laws to which it is subjected, man is profoundly ignorant; and add to this his ignorance of God's prophetic and apostolic teaching, and we have as wild a beast as any that roams the woods. Solomon's wish may still be appropriately expressed, saying, "Would that the sons of men might see that they themselves are beasts!"-for assuredly on religious topics they manifest as little scriptural reason and sagacity.
Shall we forsake the Word's teaching for the "revealments of the spirits," or for the brain-flesh workings of the nervous fluid, which are identical? ... I tell thee, Nay! I see prophecies recorded in the Bible thousands of years ago, fulfilling at this time upon the earth; I see a whole nation scattered abroad, existing, and having existed for ages, under the precise circumstances the One Spirit, speaking by Moses, Isaiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Jesus, Paul, John, &c., declared they should; I see a civil and ecclesiastical constitution of the nations in the Old World in actual manifestation according to a word penned at the dictation of God's Spirit, hundreds of years before it had a beginning: I see all these things, and innumerable others that have come to pass exactly as foretold in the Bible from end to end.
-Shall I abandon such a revelation, or admit the "revealments of the spirits" through Madams Long, Brown, and Coan, to an equality with it, for the vagaries of Andrew Jackson Davis, Emanuel Swedenborg, and Judge Edmonds?! Perish the thought for ever and ever, that I should be such an egregious fool! No; give me the book of Daniel or the Apocalypse, and take who will all the dollar or fifty-cent revealments these three women's familiar spirits may rap out to them for their especial benefit from the spirit-world, where, I suspect, they are as knavish as many of their votaries in this.
I want none of them; being abundantly furnished with the most reliable revelations in the Scriptures of truth.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, April 1854
The Kingdoms of Men in the Latter Days - distress of nations with perplexity (Luke 21:25)
"Lord make me to know mine end and the measure of my days, what it is, that I may know how frail I am. Behold thou hast made my days as an handbreadth, and mine age is as nothing before thee. . . So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."
This measuring of our days-this endeavouring to withstand the deceptive impressions of sense and to penetrate through all the appearances and the feelings of life to the naked fact that we are all the time on the brink of existence, as it were, and may at any moment disappear from the land of the living and the realm of being, as completely as the collapsing bubble on the water, is certainly calculated to lead us to "apply our hearts unto wisdom."
The people around us are busy applying their hearts-but not to wisdom. They apply them to everything but this. Wisdom is with them either a matter of aversion or a matter of scorn. We are liable to be carried away with the prevailing taste. It is a broad stream on which the world is drifting to destruction. We are here to resist the flood so far as we are concerned.
We come to the table of the Lord to apply our hearts to wisdom. We do so in recalling the meanings and associations of "the bread which we break," and "the wine which we bless." We do so in the reading of the oracles of God. They are a continual call of wisdom to us. They are God's written voice, by which alone we have access in our day to His mind. There is no truth less appreciated by the mass of mankind than this. There is none in such danger of disappearing from the practical recognitions of the educated.
We have recently had to insist on it with a special emphasis. We cling to it as to a life-buoy in the surging waters. In the whole of the Scriptures-in every part-in Genesis as in the Prophets-in the Psalms as in the Apocalypse-we are in contact with the authorised expression of the mind of God in some phase or other. Consequently, as we listen, whatever part is being read, we are "applying our hearts" to that wisdom which purifies the present, gives stability and comfort to the remainder of our mortal days, few or many; and enriches for us the future with an exhaustless inheritance of well-being and joy.
What do we learn as we listen? That the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. We may think this trite and even questionable. Increasing age in the truth will show us the truth and depth of the saying. We cannot fear (in the sense of revere), where we do not know. Hence, to know God is the first thing; as Jesus says,
"This is eternal life, that they might know Thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." We can only know by acquaintance, and we can only make acquaintance in this matter in the Scriptures. We have read this morning that
"The fool hath said in his heart-There is no God."
A man must be a fool to say this: and many say it in their heart who do not say it openly. It is contrary to the most obvious considerations of reason. A man has only to look round and note the myriad indications of contrivance in things small and things great to feel an intuitive certainty that there is somewhere an intelligence as much above man's as the works of nature are above the works of art.
And then when he reflects upon the fact (evidenced by the many things in heaven and earth) that the universe has not always existed, he is taken away back to the beginning, however remote, and made to feel that that which then was (by whatever name called) must have possessed the power and wisdom to elaborate the material creation we now see it. Human thought calls it "force" without allowing the wisdom and the power. The Bible exhibition of this beginning is the only one that meets the demands of reason.
"In the beginning-God:" this accounts for all. It gives us the wisdom and the power equal to the production of what is. "In the beginning-force": this accounts for nothing: it neither accounts for the work of creation when it began nor for the previous quiescence of the cosmic energy. If God is mysterious, force is not less so-a little more so in fact when considered as a something that slept for eternal ages and then without any reason, suddenly woke up and started building up worlds at "the beginning."
Let reason rule, and God will be joyfully perceived and received as the everlasting foundation of all things. Only the man in whom reason is weak, or warped, or unenlightened, will say "there is no God;" and the Bible gives us the right name for a man with reason in such a condition.
Leviticus Chapter 21 +
7 They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband: for he is holy unto his Elohim.
Profane - [Ges] to wound or pierce. Perhaps figurative of a flippant woman lacking spiritual discernment and soberness necessary to be a help-meet to the high office of priest. Tendencies towards silliness and away from holiness - hence wounding/ injuring influence obstructing the cause of the faith.
The priest was not to marry a 'put away' woman. The word here is garash - a thrusting out of the household. She is still married though cast out by her husband.
She was not divorced. Divorcement (Keriyuweth) became a law later in Deut 24.
14 A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife.
Garash - 'divorced' is a false translation.
Divorce did not exist until Yahweh gave the divorce law in Deut 24. This shows how both the gentile translators, and unenlightened
commentators such as Strongs and Gesenius falsely render garash and shalach as divorce when the spirit meant 'put away' (which is not divorce - not at liberty to remarry).
Comparing scripture with scripture is the way to settle contentions over this issue. All parts of scripture harmonize when correctly understood.
Relying on the translators brings us to a false understanding. In the old testament the word for divorce was keryuwith. This is the word used for the bill of divorcement introduced in Deut 24 and is therefore the cue for when the spirit intends us to understand when divorce is referred to.
A divorced woman was at liberty to remarry.
The prohibition in v 14 is therefore against priests taking a woman who has been driven out by her husband. She is not a free (divorced) woman. The same prohibition applies to priests in the future age (Ezekiel 44v22). 'Put away' is garash (thrust out) - not a divorced woman and therefore not free to remarry.
"Oh, that men would praise Yahweh for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men" (Ps. 107:8).