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The Difference between Kindness and Love
Though God sends His benefits upon the wicked He does not love them; the very opposite-we are told that He hates them.-(Psalms xi 5.) He is angry with the wicked:
"My soul hateth the proud man," He says; and to certain people who brought their sacrifices with uncleanness, He said "These are a smoke in my nostrils: a fire that burneth all the day."
Therefore to be like God we are not required to do a moral impossibility; for it is a moral impossibility to love everybody. We can be kind: that is another thing. It is possible to be kind-to take a benevolent interest in people...
We can bring ourselves to this; but to arrive at the point of love is impossible. God does not ask us to do what He doesn't do Himself; and He doesn't love the wicked-neither does Jesus; for he is coming to destroy them. But he is kind and patient for the present, and so must we be.
The Ambassador of the Coming Age, May 1868
Sectarianism versus Christadelphianism
III. The doctrine concerning heaven and hell. And what! is this teaching wrong too? Most assuredly.
Compare the teaching of sectarian preachers on these topics with the revealments of the Bible, and you will certainly perceive a vast difference. The Bible says nothing about heaven and hell being located in the "spirit-world," or of their being the abode of "spirits blessed," of "spirits damned." True, the Bible speaks of heaven, where God dwells, in "the light which no man can approach unto," but that abode is not promised unto the sons of men. Of this heaven Jesus said, "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven." John 3:13.
To this glorious abode Jesus ascended, and is now there as the High Priest of his people in the Holy of Holies. None but the High Priest was permitted to enter the inner sanctuary, where the cherubim overshadowed the mercy seat and the ark of the covenant. He entered that Holy Place for the people. Even Jesus will not abide in heaven, but will come to our planet again, and take up his abode in it for ever.
Peter, speaking of the resurrection and ascension of Christ, says, "David is not ascended into the heavens, but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand until I make thy foes thy footstool.' Acts 2:34, 35.
Now if David is not in heaven-if no man hath ascended to heaven but Jesus, and he only for a limited time, as the representative of his people-what becomes of all the assertions of those who teach that the abode of the Eternal God is the dwelling-place of those who die in Jesus?
And if Jesus did not enter it until he was clothed with an incorruptible and immortal body by a resurrection from the dead, how say some they can enter that glorious abode as naked spirits? This doctrine is full of absurdity, and shrinks into thin air when touched with the sublime doctrine of a future state as made known in the Bible.
"The earth hath Yahweh given to the sons of men."
Paradise was first located here. And when the earth is redeemed from the curse resting upon it, then Paradise will be restored. All things will be created new, or renovated. "There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away." Rev. 21:4.
Is there not something worthy of God in this? A renovated earth peopled with immortal beings? There is nothing fabulous or mythological about this heaven, but all is real and substantial. It belongs to those things of which it is said, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." 1 Cor. 2:9.
And what shall we say about the hell of the sects? It is described as a place of inconceivable and unending torture, where the immortal spirit will be eternally conscious of a separation from God and happiness. What an idea! Suppose this world of sinners had been abandoned of God from the time our first parents sinned to the present, what now would have been the state of the race? Probably exterminated-or, if not exterminated, so far debased as to be little better than the brute creation. Such is the tendency of sin, unrestrained.
And yet the popular doctrine teaches that man, if found worthy of death at the close of this probationary state, will not die, but be kept alive for ever and ever, in a sinful condition, in order to be tormented. What a libel is this upon the character of God! It converts a just, holy, and merciful Being into a revengeful, cruel, and malicious tyrant.
The Scriptures declare-"If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die"-"He who sows to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption," or death-"Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death;" and who can gainsay his authority, or reverse his righteous decrees? Sin is an abomination in his sight. His holiness cannot approve those who practise it.
Therefore it is said, "they which commit such things are worthy of death;" that "evil-doers shall be cut off;" that "the transgressors shall be destroyed together;" that "the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs; they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away," Psa. 37:20; that "the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch," Mal. 4:1; that "He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire;" that "these (the wicked) shall go away into everlasting punishment," Matt. 25:46; "whose end is destruction," Phil. 3:19; "who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power," 2 Thess. 1:9; and that "the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." Rev. 21:8.
From these references it will be seen that death, not life, is the result of sin; destruction, not endless torture, the punishment of the wicked. Sin has marred the perfect work of God, and renders the individual who loves it unfit and unable to fulfil the end of his creation; therefore He has wisely and mercifully purposed to destroy those whom he cannot save by his love, as made known by his Son Jesus Christ.
The hell of the sects is not of God. The doctrine is heathenish and devilish. God is not implacable; when he punishes the transgressor with death, he does it because "one sinner destroyeth much good," and
"One sickly sheep infects the flock, And poisons all the rest;"
therefore, "the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it." Prov. 2:22. Then "the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it."Herald 09/1854
Has not Christ appeared among men? Has he not left his mark on their affairs? Has he not given us the witness of himself in the inexpungable writings of the apostles occupying the highest place among the literary monuments of the world? Have we not every pledge that the case admits of that he lives now and will come again? It is therefore the simplest practical unwisdom to leave it out of account as almost all men do, and to spend life in a total devotion to the things that pass away.
Peter asked whether the parable was confined to the apostles, or whether it bore upon all and sundry. Jesus did not answer categorically, but nevertheless made it manifest that it was for every one who chose to make it his own.
"Who then," said he, "is that faithful and wise steward whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant whom the lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth, I say unto you, he will make him ruler over all that he hath."
It is evident that Jesus means to say that the exaltation which he will bestow at his coming is not to be conferred by partiality or respect of persons, but on the principal of just award to faithful stewardship in whomsoever it may be found. "Who is such a steward?" is his question -- as much as to say, wherever he is, there is the man who is entitled to and will receive the special recognition of which he speaks.
This holds out an incentive to all. All are not appointed to the same degree of stewardship. The apostles had a rank in this matter that none who came after them can attain. They were "stewards of the mysteries of God." To them, by the Spirit of God, were confided knowledge and gifts that have and could descend to no successors. Their responsibility will be correspondingly great, for "to whom much is given, of them will much be required." But all have a degree of stewardship corresponding with the degree of privilege which they possess in the matter of knowledge, capacity, opportunity, health, means, and what not.
It is, therefore, open to every one to earn in measure the blessedness of which Christ speaks. Every "faithful and wise steward" -- every enlightened and justified man who sincerely and modestly realises that he is not his own, but belongs to Christ, as whose agent he must act, will experience at the hands of Christ that enlargement of trust of which Christ here speaks.
He will be made "ruler over many things." How imperfectly popular theories of Christianity provide scope for this feature of the teaching of Christ, and how complete and suitable is the place for it in the gospel of the kingdom (as witnessed in the total collective testimony of Moses, the prophets and apostles) -- those are aware who have been privileged to have their eyes opened to primitive apostolic truth, and whose hearts have been delivered from the confusion of the theological systems of the day.
Jesus brings into contrast with "the faithful and wise steward" a servant of another class, whom it concerns every one to diagnose distinctly with a view to habitual subjective repudiation -- the servant who says "My lord delayeth his coming," and who under the demoralising power of that thought, abandons himself to frolic and carousal. That Jesus should introduce such a case for even supposition merely, is proof of our danger in that direction. Our own experience will tell us the danger is not imaginary. The purposes and plans of God are on a scale that is trying to human littleness. "A thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past -- as a watch in the night" (Psa. xc. 4).
Because, therefore, each man's watching day is his short life, God's great ways seem long in maturing, and there is a liability to listen to the suggestion of our weakness: "My lord delayeth his coming." Resist the thought by knowledge acquired in the daily reading and pondering the word of his truth; and by conformity to the instruction he has appointed for our preservation in the path of life.
If we give in to the feeling that the coming of the Lord is too remote and intangible to be taken into account, we get on to an incline that leads to death. First, we take part with the foolish in their ways. Once do this, and you cannot stop. The little salt of godliness that may be left in your mind soon disappears. You degenerate in all your ways, till at last, in the language of Peter, you "who once escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ," are "again entangled therein and overcome" with a "latter end worse than the beginning."
The delay of the Lord's coming is only a mere appearance to mortal shortsightedness and ignorance. There is no delay. The Lord has already been on the scene, and he will reappear thereon by a plan all marked out and that will not fail. However long this plan might be drawn out, the whole length exists not for us. Our few and evil days are the full measure of all the waiting we can have; for in the grave there is not a moment; consequently, it is infatuation for a man to say in his heart, "My lord delayeth his coming."
In a moment his life may cease. In a moment he may be face to face with the Lord at his coming. So that there is a sense applicable to every generation in the words Jesus proceeded to utter: "The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers."
A Hard Task
We see people who are ungrateful, who are inferior, and low and vulgar and unworthy; nevertheless, having Christ in view, we are enabled to do good to them. It is a good discipline: but if we keep Christ out of view, we shall only consider our own feelings, and bestow our benefits where they will be appreciated. We have a good many things to learn, and many of them difficult to learn; but we must ever try to submit to the divine lessons. The children of God are to be like their Father, who sendeth rain upon the just and upon the unjust.
The Ambassador of the Coming Age, May 1868
Sectarianism versus Christianity
It is a grand mistake to suppose, that because the Bible is generally circulated, and churches and meeting-houses abound, therefore this is a Christian land. It is professedly Christian, we know, but profession, and practice are two things not always found, united together. In order to be a christian, it is essential that the teachings of Christ be regarded. To disregard his teachings is a virtual denial of his name. No one has a right to it who does not believe his word, or the word of those whom he sent forth as his ambassadors. How important then to compare our faith and practice with the inspired word! "Examime yourselves whether ye be in the faith." We purpose to notice a few things held in common by the sects of the day, which are subversive of the doctrines of the Bible, and therefore anti-Christian.
1. The doctrine of the immortality of the soul.
This may be called the cardinal doctrine of sectarianism. It is held by all parties, from the "Mother of Harlots" to the youngest of her daughters. Catholic and Protestant here meet on common ground. And more than this. Mohammedan and Pagan also admit and glory in the same doctrine, and, in this respect at least, need no "turning from darkness to light." It also bears the impress of age. Before Jesus brought "life and immortality to light by the gospel," it was taught by heathen philosophers in the schools of Greece. And, at the present day, it is pretended to be proved to a demonstration by a new order of fanatics known by the cognomen of spirit-rappers.
But does this universal adherence to the doctrine prove the point in question? Not at all. Christianity is not built on Pagan philosophy, nor dependent on demonology for proof of the correctness of its doctrines. The Bible is the text book of Christians. "To the law and the testimony" alone they appeal for the truth of their articles of faith and practice.
The immortality of the soul forms no part of Christ's teaching, nor is it found in the Bible at all. He taught that those who received and practised his word should not perish by death, but be raised from the dead at the last day, and that they should never die any more, but be like unto the angels of God. Luke 20:35, 36. The immortality he taught is not inherent in man, but dependent on character, is and to be manifested only in an incorruptible body, by a resurrection from the dead. It is those who are "worthy"-those "who by a patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory, honour, and immortality"-those who hear the voice of Jesus, and follow him, that shall have eternal life. See Rom. 2:6, 7; John 10:27, 28; James 1:12.
The immortality taught in the Scriptures cannot be enjoyed without a resurrection of the body. This is plainly and forcibly taught by the apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 15. He says that if the dead rise not, "then they also who are fallen asleep in Christ are perished." Now this is not true, if the popular doctrine be correct. That which is immortal cannot perish or die. But God has said, "The soul that sinneth it shall die"-and "The wages of sin is death." The language of sectarianism is the language of the serpent, "Ye shall not surely die"-and therefore anti-Christian, because opposed to the teachings of Christ.
II. The doctrine of an intermediate state of conscious enjoyment or misery.
This doctrine has arisen out of the former, and became absolutely necessary, in order to make the thing consistent. If the soul is immortal, then it will live after the body dies, and must exist somewhere. If righteous, it will be borne aloft on angels' wings to a paradise above the skies, of which the poet sings:
"There I shall bathe my weary soul
In seas of heavenly rest;
And not a wave of trouble roll
Across my peaceful breast."
But if unrighteous, then the immortal spirit
"Ascends to God, not there to dwell,"
But hear its doom and sink to hell.
Such is the teaching of a majority of the sects. And yet this doctrine of an intermediate state has its difficulties. Hence there is a division in the camp on the subject: the majority or orthodox believing that the empire of death over the body is to exist only until the judgment, when the immortal spirits will be called back to their prison bodies, in order to receive judgment; while the minority reject the resurrection of the body as of no use, and look upon the spirit world as the final state. And certainly the last idea is the most reasonable, if we admit the soul to be immortal.
But this is all foolishness-has no foundation in the Word of Wisdom. One error begets another. The Scriptures do not recognize any intermediate state of consciousness between death and the resurrection of the body. On the contrary, they teach that the "dead know not any thing;" that when man dieth, "in that very day his thoughts perish;" and that "the dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence." The word sleep, and consequently the idea it represents, is frequently made use of by the sacred writers to set forth the state of the dead. "Them that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him," &c. So also Job says, "Man lieth down and riseth not; till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep." Job. 14:12.Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Aug 1854
Goodness to all Men
Next to love in the truth, we have to cultivate kindness. We are to do good unto all men, as we have opportunity. Christ says that if we do good only to those who do good to us, we are no better than the Pharisees and the sinners.
Patient commiserative benevolence must characterise our dealings with those without. In the world, from the highest politician to the meanest street sweep, retaliation is the order of the day. As soon as anybody shows the cold shoulder, the result is to resent. This must not be so with us.
Christ has given commandment how we ought to walk. John says we deceive ourselves if we say we are children of God, and do not His commandments. We are commanded to overcome evil with good, and not return evil for evil.
The good deeds of those who are God's will not depend upon external incitement, or attraction, or upon personal benefit, but will bud forth as from an internal sap, and well up as from a spring. Doubtless the good things done for those who are Christ's, will be very thorough, very cordial, very delightful; at the same time, the unthankful and the evil must come in for a share of our beneficence.
Ambassador of the Coming Age, May 1868
THE CONSTANT BATTLE
There are some who believe that innate goodness dwells within us, and that if we allow it free development it will ultimately find expression in our lives. But if this were true why then did Paul speak of "fighting to keep his body under and bring it into subjection" (1 Cor. 9:26-27)? And why did Jeremiah, speaking by the Holy Spirit, say-
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. "
Is it not because of the indwelling principle of evil which induces us to obey the flesh rather than God's commands?
Studying carefully Rom. 7:17-23 (where Paul speaks of the "law of sin within his members" that inclined him toward evil), we cannot deny that this innate principle leading to sin is within everyone of us.
Hence there MUST be continual warfare in order that the "New Man," or mind of the Spirit, may conquer the "Old Man," or mind of the flesh.
Bro HA Sommerville
Scriptural Instruction on Mortality,
Immortality, and Judgement
47. What is to be understood by Rom. 14:10, in connection with 2 Cor. 5:10, in reference to the judgment-seat of Christ?
In Rom. 14 : 10, the apostle says to the saints, including himself, "We must all stand before the judgment-seat (bema, not thronos) of Christ." If it be asked, what are they to stand there for? he answers in 2.Cor. 5:10, saying, "For it is necessary that we all be made manifest
before the judgment-seat of Christ."
They stand there to be made manifest; that is, for it there to be made known whether in their former life they "walked after the flesh" or "walked after the Spirit."
48. How is this manifestation to be made?
"Whatsoever doth make manifest is light." -(Eph. 5:13.) The light which manifests character at the tribunal, is the account which every one will give of himself; for, says Paul,
"Every tongue shall confess to the Deity, every one of us shall give account of himself to
Him." (Rom. 14:11,12.)
49. Why are the respective classes of character to be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ?
"That every one may receive things according to what he has done, whether good or bad." (2 Cor. 5:10.)
50. Through what medium are the things to be received?
"Through the body," dia tou somatos, (2 Cor 5:10): the man who hath done well, will receive "glory, honour, incorruptibility, and life eternal;" but he that hath done bad, will remain an earthy body, and through it receive "indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish."
Thus, "the Deity renders to every man according to his deeds." (Rom 2:6-9).
What is to be understood by "the Deity justified by the Spirit," in 1 Tim. 3:16?
To be "justified by Spirit" is the second item of the "GREAT MYSTERY OF GODLINESS." The flesh in or through which the Deity was manifested was, for the brief space of thirty-three years, inferior to the angelic nature, which is Spirit. It had been "purified" by the sprinkling of its own blood on the cross; it came forth from the tomb an earthy body, which, in order to become Spirit, and so "equal to the angels," had to be "justified," rectified, "made perfect," or quickened, "by Spirit."
The flesh of manifestation, justified by Spirit, is styled by Paul in Rom. 1:4, pneuma hagiosunes, "Spirit of holiness," or spirit-nature, which is essentially holy. The Jesus-Body was "justified by spirit" on being raised from the earthy nature to the Divine, by ascending to the Father on the third day and forty days afterwards, was received up again in glory. (1 Tim. 3:16, John 17:5; 3:13.)
People admire "refinement" and "culture" in the upper strata of society, especially when found in those possessing wealth and education. Yet the TRUE refinement and culture are being built into the characters of those who humbly follow the course which is prescribed by the Great Teacher.
And the great superiority of this culture lies in the fact that it not only educates and ennobles, but it also confers on all who follow it faithfully a title to something far more valuable and enduring than all that man's wisdom can attain unto - even a glorious inheritance of the Kingdom when the Great Leader, Teacher and Judge comes.
Bro HA Sommerville
Nazareth Revisited Ch 45
Having finished his response to the man who had said, "Speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me," he addressed himself to his disciples (Luke xii. 22): He had not only deprecated riches: he went a step further. He discouraged the anxiety that is common to men on the subject of temporal affairs; that is, to men who have not faith in God. His command to his disciples was: "Have faith in God." That this means more than belief that God exists, and that He will perform His promises -- that it means trust in Him for care in temporal things, is manifest from what he said on this occasion.
They were to take no thought for their life, what they should eat: neither for the body, what they should put on. They were to look at God's provision for the ravens and the herbs of the field, and to consider that they themselves were of more value in God's estimation than these. "How much more will He clothe you, O ye of little faith? Seek not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after (men that are 'without God in the world'). Your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you? Fear not little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom."
It is evident that these precepts pre-suppose "Faith in God." They test the existence of that faith. They excite no response where it does not exist. But they are not intended to lead to presumption. There is a palpable difference between faith and presumption. Jesus barred the way to a presumptuous application of the promises by his response to the Tempter's suggestion, that he should cast himself from the pinnacle of the temple on the strength of the assurance he had received that the angels would bear him free from harm.
"Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."
If he recognised this rule in his own case, he did not mean his disciples to ignore it in theirs. That he did not mean them to neglect their part in the provision of promised daily bread is evident from other sayings of his, and notably from those which he spoke by the mouth of his apostles after his departure from the earth, such as "If any will not work, neither shall he eat" (2 Thes. iii. 10); and again, "If any provide not for his own, especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" (1 Tim. v. 8).
It is evident that the design of the remarks under consideration was to encourage a tranquil spirit of faith and hope in the occupations of life, and not to inculcate idleness or neglect. Christ would place God and the hope of His kingdom and the obtaining of an entrance therein, first in the aims of a man's life. Therefore, he would have temporalities, which with the world occupy the first place, put in the second, on the ground that God, who has made us, and will bestow the kingdom that is coming, is not indifferent to the conditions that affect us now while we are in probation for His use. In this there is perfect reasonableness.
But it affords no countenance to the extremes to which many in past ages, and some in the present, have carried it. It tells us not to make life a slavery to the mere material means of its sustenance, since God has promised what we need (of which He alone is judge). It tells us to bend mortal strength and anxiety to the attainment of God's approbation, that we may enter at last upon the fulness of well-being and joy which He purposes to bestow at the right and ripe hour, in His kingdom upon earth. It does not tell us to neglect this world's affairs, or to put forth none of the exertions which in the wisdom of God are necessary for the maintenance of life in its present state.
Christ went further than to inculcate a cheerful faith and a non-anxious providing. He advised giving to others as the best method of saving -- not as some ancient philosophers have recommended: by having our time of need met by the gratitude of those whom we may succour in the day of our ability; but that by giving alms we may lay up "a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth."
This doctrine of Christ is as far above the doctrine of the philosophers as the heaven is high above the earth. The philosophers would give us human gratitude as our resource and our reward (a poor reliance as all experience proves). Christ gives us God's recognition and memory as our incentive in doing good to men. This is all-powerful where there is "faith in God." Of course, if the foolish heart whisper, "there is no God," it will fall like grain on the arid rock -- which is pretty much the case with universal mankind upon the earth at the present time.
It was no new lesson. It had been heard before from the same Spirit speaking in the prophets. "He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord, and that which he hath given will he repay to him again." It is a standing obligation and a test during all the generations of mortal men. The children of God are distinguishable from the children of the devil in their submission to this self-denying precept.
Before leaving the subject, Jesus gave it practical application in another way: "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Let your loins be girded about and your lights burning, and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding, that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately."
It is as if Jesus had said: "Beware of whatever steals the heart. If you pile up wealth, you create a magnet that will act drawingly on the heart, and if your heart is under bondage to earthly things, where then will you be when the Son of Man comes? Can you be among those who will open to him immediately?" There is great force in this way of putting it. It is a matter of common experience that opulence indisposes the heart to godliness. A man who is full of what consolations the present life can afford is liable to have but a feeble sense of dependence upon God, and but little ardour of desire for the coming of Christ. He naturally lapses into the condition described by a modern preacher as that of being in no danger of bursting the boilers in getting saved.
A Pattern of Good Works
...the proper use of Scripture is continual SELF-enlightenment and development.
How many families assemble around the fireside in the evening to hear the Scriptures read in these days? Few indeed. There are far too many other, lighter, flesh-pleasing attractions.
David prayed that the "meditation of his heart" might be acceptable (Psa. 19:14). Do we realize that we meditate over the impressions made from without upon our minds, whatever they may be, and if these impressions are of a foolish, worldly nature, it means that our minds and characters are surely (though perhaps imperceptibly to us) being molded like those we meet in the evil world, instead of being patterned after the likeness of him who is the "Way of Life"? Let us be as careful against putting corruption and poison into our minds as we are apt to be against putting it into our bodies.
If we occasionally meet brethren and sisters who seem to possess a "naturally" kind and loving disposition, let us remember that (if it is sincere) it is not merely a hereditary tendency, nor are these attributes acquired by chance, but by slow, patient adjusting to the patterns of good works exhibited in the Holy Oracles, and they demonstrate the wisdom and value of choosing the meditation of God's commandments when trials have to be endured.
Bro HA Sommerville
"I know" is indicative of a spiritually sound and healthy condition.
Doubt in relation to the things that God has spoken effectually retards growth. Man is certain to give the "go by" to Bible requirements, if left to be his own arbiter as to what they are. The truth is a power to him who believes it, not to the unbelieving or hesitating.
Its calls oftentimes involve the sacrifice of comfort, social position, reputation, means of livelihood, and even life itself. Ability to obey these calls comes through a persuasion that they have been imposed by God. Nothing more surely produces this confidence, and nothing more quickly undermines it than our convictions in regard to the unerringness or otherwise of God's revelation.
The theory of error in that revelation paves the way for innumerable perplexities; it leads to everyone doing that which is right in his own eyes. Erring man wants an unerring guide, and this is what the Bible claims to be:-"My mouth shall speak truth" (Prov. viii. 7); "Thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth" (Isa. xxv. 1); "Thy Word is true from the beginning" (Ps. cxix. 160); "That which was written was upright, even words of truth" (Ecc. xii. 10); "The Scripture of truth" (Dan. x. 21); etc.
When the Bible itself explains "true" as meaning partly untrue, then, and not until then, may we cease to contend for the absolute sense of the word. ATJ
The Christadelphian, July 1887
A Few Plain Words about Popery and the Pope
BY AN ANONYMOUS ENGLISH WRITER.
Seeing there is so much talk just now about Popery and the Pope; that the whole kingdom has been parcelled out into Popish Bishoprics under a Cardinal Lord Archbishop of Westminster, and that we are placed under the spiritual dominion of Romish priests, it may not be amiss if we inquire what we shall be expected to believe, and what we shall have to submit to,-what in fact Popery really is,-before we shut up or burn our Bibles, and forsake our present religious teachers.
Shut up and burn our Bibles! you say. Aye, to be sure. No one ever heard of Papists allowing the Bible to be read by the common people. Now I am not surprised that the Roman Catholics dislike the Bible, for very much the same reason that Ahab, the King of Israel, disliked Micaiah, the prophet of the Lord. (1 Kings 22:8.)
It is hard not to contract a strong dislike to that which is for ever bearing testimony against one. To love an enemy is one of the most difficult of attainments; and the Bible everywhere speaks against Popery, and prophesies, not good, but evil of it, just as Micaiah did of Ahab. It is natural therefore that the Papists should dislike it. We ought not to expect any thing else. But I am somewhat surprised that they do not take more pains to conceal their dislike of it, for it certainly does not look well that a [professed] Church of God should fall out with the oracles of God. It has an ugly appearance, to say the least, to see a [so-called] Christian Church fall out with the Christian Scriptures.
Now we know the Pope hates Bible Societies, and forbids his people to have any thing to do with them. It certainly looks bad that when Christ says, "Search the Scriptures," a Vicar of Christ, as he calls himself, should say, "No, you shall not even have them." Let us however do the Pope justice. He does not forbid the use of the Bible altogether, but only in the vulgar tongue. The English Catholic may have a French Bible, and the Frenchman a Dutch or English one. The mischief is in having it in a language which they can read.
The Papists say that the Bible is the source of heresies. They trace all the errors which prevail to the use of the Scriptures; but Christ gives a very different account of the matter. He says (Matt. 22:29) to the Sadducees: "Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures." And Paul in writing to Timothy says, they are "able to make thee wise unto salvation." The Romanist tells us that our religion is only three hundred years old, but here is an Apostle who lived eighteen hundred years ago, writing amazingly like a Protestant about the Holy Scriptures.
We have besides an advantage for understanding the Bible, which we have not for any other book whose author is not personally accessible. We can, at any moment we please, go and ask Him to interpret to us any difficult passage. St. James tells us, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." So then we have the Bible to inform us, and we have constant opportunities of consulting its Author in regard to its meaning. Is not this enough? I am satisfied.
But it strikes me that the Papists themselves hardly believe that their religion is scriptural. For if they did, why should they not put the Bible into the hands of the people, and advise them to read it, that they might become good Roman Catholics?
I wonder that the Papists, in forbidding the Scriptures, do not except St. Peter's Epistles. Was ever any Catholic forbidden to read the letters of a Pope? I believe not. But if they may and should read the letters of the Popes, why not let them read the Epistles of the first of Popes, as they call him, Peter? I should like to know why it is worse to read the letters of Pope Peter than of Pope Pius? They acknowledge that he wrote two epistles; why not let every Catholic have them? I do not wonder that they wish to keep out of sight of the people the Epistles of Paul, who says he "withstood Peter to the face, because he was to be blamed."
Paul forgot at the moment that Peter was supreme and infallible. We are all liable to forget. Perhaps it is because Peter says nothing about Rome, unless by Babylon he means Rome; and not a word about his being Bishop of Rome, and Pope! He seems to have had no idea that he was a pope. He says in his 1st Epistle, "The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder." An elder! was that all? Why, Peter, do you forget yourself? Do you not know that you are a Universal Bishop, a Primate of the Apostolical College, Supreme and Infallible Head of the Church? Ah, this Infallibility!
We all know the Church of Rome professes infallibility, but when did she get it? It was transmitted from Peter, to be sure! Christ gave it to him, and he handed it down. But was Peter infallible? There was a day when I suspect he did not think himself infallible-when, smitten to the heart, he went out and wept bitterly. There is no doubt he made a mistake when he so confidently pronounced, "Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee," and we know that this was after Christ had said to him, "Thou art Peter, and on this rock," &c.
If Peter was infallible, I wonder he did not at once settle the difficulty of which we have an account in Acts 15. Why was the matter suffered to be debated in the presence of his infallibility? It seems that Peter, on this occasion, claimed no preeminence, nor was any particular deference paid to him by the council. He related his experience precisely as did Paul and Barnabas.
James seems to have been in the chair on that occasion. He speaks much more like an infallible person, than any of the rest. He says, "Wherefore my sentence is," &c. What a pity it is for the Church of Rome, that Peter had not said that instead of James. We should never have heard the last of it. But it was the Bishop of Jerusalem, and not the Bishop of Rome, who said it.
But again, if Peter was infallible, I am surprised that Paul "withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed." That was not the way to treat a Pope. But Paul had always something of the Protestant about him. And yet Peter did not resent Paul's treatment of him, for in his second Epistle he speaks of him as "our beloved brother Paul." I suppose that Peter himself did not know he was infallible. Men do not always know themselves.
But if the superiority among the disciples belonged to Peter, how was it that when the dispute arose among them, who should be the greatest, our Saviour did not take Peter instead of a little child, and set him in the midst of them? The disciples could not have understood our Saviour's declaration, "Thou art Peter," &c., as the Church of Rome interprets it, or that dispute about superiority could never have arisen.
But if Peter were not infallible, why should we think that the Popes are? It might seem unkind, were I to quote from history some of their practices; and sometimes there have been two and even three Popes at one time, each of whom has consigned the other to a place worse than Purgatory. But as some of the Roman Catholics say that a man's doctrine may be infallible, while his practice is imperfect, we will look a little at some of their infallible doctrines.
Now really, as it is well known that many of the Popes had families, and made no secret of it, but contracted marriages for their illegitimate children with some of the first families in Italy, I do not think it improbable that many of the Romish priests would copy their Head Bishop's example. There are some ugly tales told about these things in Catholic countries, which will not bear repeating. But common sense will tell us what must come of a parcel of young men and women taking vows not to marry. I see therefore no sign of infallibility in this doctrine, but just the contrary; for our Bibles tell us that "in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry."
Then again, there is the doctrine of Confession to the priest. Old and young, male and female, are enjoined to tell him their most secret thoughts and emotions, and thus the purest mind is poisoned and corrupted, by being made to think upon and talk about impurity. For to aid in this disgusting work, the priests have the most particular directions, and questions are put which could only occur to the most abandoned of mankind. I know that I would not suffer my wife or daughter to undergo the filthy cross-examination of a set of men, though they had taken vows of chastity.
But I do not find that penitents in the Bible were directed to go to the priests with money in their hands and get absolution; David, Hezekiah, Ezra, Daniel, and others, all went direct to God, and found acceptance and pardon. And does not common sense tell us, that when we have offended any one, we should confess our sin to the person we have offended? If a child offends his father, does he go to a third person to acknowledge it, when his father is near at hand; and above all does, he go to a brother who has equally offended? Yet this is Popish doctrine. It sends us to a brother as deep in the offence as we, to confess to him that we have sinned against our father, when that father is near by; and when, moreover, he says, "Come to me!" The Prodigal went straight to his Father, and so did the Publican, and we know how he received them.
But while writing this, I have recollected there is one New Testament example of confessing to priests, and as I like fair play, the Catholics shall have the benefit of it. Judas Iscariot did not go to God with his confession. He went to the chief priests, and it was to them he said, "I have sinned in that I have betrayed innocent blood." Here we must confess is an example of confession to a priest. But it is the only one, I believe, in the Bible, and the example is not an encouraging one. Judas also took money to the priests; so that the Papists have authority (such as it is) for that part of their practice. Let us do them justice, and give them the advantage of every particle of Scripture which really makes in their favour, for I am sure they need it.
Poor Judas! He got nothing by going to the priests, and perhaps it was their cruel and contemptuous treatment of him that determined him, in his despair, to go and hang himself. How differently would even Judas have been treated, had he gone with a broken heart to our great High Priest, Jesus! Ah! it would have been better to go to Him whom he had betrayed, than to them to whom he betrayed Him. I think we had better always go to Him, notwithstanding the example of Judas. David said it was better to fall into the hands of God, even for correction, than into the hands of man.
We have all heard of the doctrine of Purgatory, which all Romanists are required to believe. The Bible we know speaks of two places beyond the grave, but we find nothing about a third; we are taught that sin is washed out by blood-not burned out in fire. "The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from ALL sin." What is then left for fire to do? The spirits of the just made perfect ascribe no part of their salvation to fire. No, their ascription is, "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood." (Rev. 1:5.) What a horrible idea, that after Christ's blood has been applied to the believing penitent, the expiation is not complete till the soul has been subjected to an intense flame, for no one knows how long!
The Penitent Thief did not go there, and yet if any one needed Purgatory, surely he did, for he had no time to do penance. I can find nothing about it in the Bible; and yet we are told a good deal about believers. Hark! here is a voice from heaven; now we shall know how it is: "I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours." They that die in the Lord, rest, you see. Then certainly they are not in Purgatory. I do not know what you think about this but it would be poor comfort to me, when on a sick and dying bed, to think of resting in flames for an uncertain time.
There is another curious doctrine which Papists hold to be infallible. Supererogation they call it, a long word they have coined on purpose, the meaning of which is, that when good people have done enough for their own salvation, all they do over and above, goes into a common treasury of the Church, who can sell this surplus stock to rich sinners who fall short. Now we are commanded to love God with all our heart, and mind, and soul, and strength, and till we have done this, we have not done enough; and it was because we could never do this, and must have perished, that Christ suffered, the just for the unjust. I do not think the wise virgins were Papists, for when they were asked for oil, they said, "Not so, lest there be not enough for us and you."
That the poor should like Popery when they know what it is, I can't imagine, for it is not a poor man's Church. Christ, according to them, does not open heaven till mass has been had and paid for, so that either our Saviour was wrong when he says, "How hardly shall they that have riches enter the kingdom of God," or else Popery is wrong, for they are the very men who can enter most easily, having the wherewith to purchase indulgences and masses.The poor must serve their time out in Purgatory, while the rich can buy themselves out.
But I am afraid, as it takes so much money and time to get a rich Catholic out, that the benefit is not much when it comes to be divided among so many as die every year; and so it would appear is their own opinion, for to help themselves, in most Catholic countries they have Benefit Clubs, to which they subscribe weekly, and a member on his death is entitled to a mass to give him a lift out of Purgatory-provided his subscription be duly paid up. Ah, this is the rub! Here are the very words. I have copied them from Rule 7 of a Dublin Purgatory Club:
-"Every subscriber shall be entitled, without distinction, to the benefit of One Mass each, provided that such Member or Subscriber shall be six Months a Subscriber to the Institution, and be clear of all dues at the time of the departure!"
I wonder what Peter would have thought of these Spiritual Benefit Clubs!
In another of them they try to catch honorary members, from "Those respectable persons who wish to contribute largely to this truly meritorious and charitable association for relieving the distressed poor, who may allow at the rate of 7½500., or 10500., or 1s. per week, paid quarterly in advance, which grand subscriptions will be faithfully "registered and transmitted from our books to the books of Eternal Life." "There will also be some Masses immediately celebrated, according to the subscription."
Peter says, that "we are not redeemed with such corruptible things as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ," but his infallible successors seem of a very different opinion. But I think Peter is the better authority of the two, and should be very unwilling to have years or ages of torture depending on the Subscription.
Now if good Catholics have to endure all this burning in Purgatory, no wonder they think so little of burning the bodies of Protestant heretics. And as that which is infallible cannot change, we will not forget the hundreds of fires that were once kindled in every part of this country. But as Bishop Latimer said to Bishop Ridley when about to perish in the flames, "Brother Ridley, we shall this day light a candle in England, which by God's grace shall never be put out," so shall the lamp of God's Word continue to be a light unto our feet, to conduct us onward to temporal and eternal happiness; although the other day a Romish priest in Birmingham did take a person's Bible and burn it. For my part, I am afraid that a man that hates God's blessed Word so much as to burn it, would not scruple to burn those who love it, if he had but the power.
Many of us have thought that it was an old-fashioned prejudice that fancied any danger from Popery in these enlightened days but let us look at Rome. Not long ago we read in the papers that the Roman people were so sick and tired of the Pope and his Government, that they rose against them; and that he sneaked away, behind a Protestant nobleman's carriage, disguised as a livery servant. A pretty convincing proof this, that those who know him best like him the least. "Well," thought I, as I read it, "this does not look much like God's Vicar on earth; but 'the hireling fleeth because he is an hireling.' Servants in livery may be very respectable and good sort of people, but we should not seek among them for an Infallible Pontiff, and a successor of St. Peter. His poor deluded followers in other countries will surely now have their eyes opened to his blasphemous pretensions!"
Directly the Pope's back was turned, the Inquisition was abolished; orders came for thousands of Bibles from the Roman people; and printing-presses were set to work in Rome itself, for it seemed impossible to supply the demand for the Scriptures. No sooner, however, did he return, than the Inquisition was restored; the gentleman (Dr. Achilli) who had been most active in Bible distribution was clapped into it, the printing-presses stopped, and the people everywhere commanded to deliver up their Bibles to be destroyed. Depend on it, the Bible is as much hated by Romish priests in England as in Rome, and the Bible-burning in Birmingham is but a sample of what we should have everywhere in this country.
Popery changed, indeed! its tyranny, its Bible-hating, and its superstitious mummeries can never change, or it would no longer be Popery. Why, the present Pope, since his return, has proclaimed a new miracle-that an image of the Virgin Mary has been miraculously winking its eyes, "to the great advantage of the faithful;" and I don't know what honours are being paid to it. Just fancy what English Roman Catholics of plain common sense must think of such impostures as this, warranted by one who is styled an Infallible Head of the Church. Who can wonder that infidelity is general in Popish countries among the better informed of the people.
Had the Pope been left to himself, we should have heard very little more of a Sovereign Pontiff. But we read in our Bibles that the kings of the earth shall give their power unto the Beast; and so foreign armies were sent to force the Pope and his authority upon an unwilling people. And those armies are obliged to be kept there, or he would again be driven out. And though at present he may speak great swelling words, we know where it is written of the apostate Church of which he is the head, "For God hath put it in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their power unto the Beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled." And again, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues," for "she shall be utterly burned with fire."
There are many other things on which I should like to say a few words, but a handful of corn is as sufficient to show the quality as the whole sack; and I hope that the few samples I have given will put us all thinking, and reading our Bibles, and praying too... and then we shall have reason to bless him for this impudent meddling of the Pope.
But we have also something else to do besides thinking, and reading, and praying,-for God works by means. Protestantism should be a religion of protesting, but many of us have nearly forgotten what were the sins of Popery which led our forefathers to protest against, and to abandon it. Our CIVIL LIBERTIES are in as much danger as our spiritual privileges. Papists boast that as Popery is infallible, it never changes, and cannot change.
Let us take them at their word, and act accordingly, uniting in addressing the Parliament and the Throne, and telling them that though Popery claims infallibility, we do not, and that we fear we have made a mistake in seeming to allow by some of our concessions to what we thought full religious liberty for our fellow-subjects, the intermeddling of a foreign power; that we are now convinced by experience that Popery is, and ever must be, the enemy of our country and of mankind, and that it should not be allowed unlimited license in this Protestant kingdom; that British females should not be allowed to be inveigled into taking vows of celibacy; that convents and monasteries should not again be suffered to pollute the soil from which our forefathers uprooted them; and that we will have no Jesuits (who have been for their crimes expelled in turn from every Roman Catholic country) allowed to interfere in our families, and undermine their principles.
That while we would have no persecution of our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects, we would have such additions to our statutes as may be necessary to have them, equally with ourselves, protected from the aggressive and deadly machinations of a foreign priesthood, which has ever been the bitterest enemy of our country. And that we will, at all hazards, and at any cost, preserve those scriptural privileges which our forefathers purchased with their lives, and which, under God, are the only safeguards of our individual happiness and our national prosperity.
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).