The Gospel Day;
The Light Of Christianity.
By Charles E. Orr.
Gospel Trumpet Company,
Moundsville, W. Va.
Preface. Introduction. Part I. The Morning. Chapter I. Christianity A Light. Chapter II. The Holy Scriptures. Chapter III. Sin. Chapter IV. Salvation. Chapter V. The Way From Sin To Perfect Salvation. Chapter VI. Fruits And The Two Works. Chapter VII. The Church Of God. Chapter VIII. The Ordinances Of The New Testament. Chapter IX. Divine Healing. Chapter X. The Soul. Chapter XI. Spiritual Culture. Chapter XII. The Course Of The World. Chapter XIII. The Domestic Relation. Chapter XIV. Evil Habits And Injurious Indulgences. Chapter XV. The Trinity. Chapter XVI. Miscellaneous Subjects. Part II. The Noonday. Chapter I. The Date Of The Beginning Of Noonday. Chapter II. Scriptural Predictions Of An Apostasy. Chapter III. False Teachings Of The Apostasy. Part III. The Evening. Chapter I. The Apostasy In Two Days. Chapter II. The Time Of The Evening. Footnotes
Our task is finished. It has not been a disagreeable, unpleasant one, but joyous. Many times our soul was blessed and lifted up as the Spirit set before our mind the wondrous beauty of Christianity. In our soul we experience a deep sense of gratitude to God for his aid and guidance in this work. Many were the prayers we offered unto him for the aid of the Holy Spirit in the prosecution of this work. He has heard and answered our prayer, and we are satisfied. Praises be unto God! We lay no claims to literary ability; we have not studied to display such talent in this volume. We have only endeavored to give simple, plain truth respecting a holy life. We have endeavored to lift up true Christianity to its proper plane and to remove as far as possible, the clouds of error that have long obscured its beautiful, pellucid light. How far we have succeeded we leave to the reader.
This work would not be much of a production for some minds, but for ours it is quite an achievement. It is much more original than we at first intended it to be: however, we have selected from the Gospel Trumpet the following subjects: "Woman's Freedom," "Eating of Meat," and "The Sin Against the Holy Ghost," which were written by Geo. L. Cole, Russel Austin, and A. L. Byers, respectively. All other selections are, we believe, properly acknowledged where they appear.
Seventy-six pages of the original manuscript were lost in the mail. This, at first, presented itself as a discouragement, but we at once remembered that all things work together for good to them that love the Lord, consequently we concluded that the Lord wanted some truth brought out that was not contained in the first writings; so we set to our task of reproducing the lost pages with a will, and God has crowned our efforts with a much greater satisfaction to ourselves. We now feel we have done what we could, and as this manuscript leaves our hand it shall be with a prayer that God will make it a rich blessing to many hearts.
Should this book be the means of lifting up some weary, despondent soul, or succeed in turning some sinner from the error of his way, or helping some deceived one out of his deception, or inspiring some fallen one to a truer, nobler life, I shall be many, many times repaid for my labor, and shall indeed give God the glory. If some one detects an error in this work do not be hasty in condemning me, but write me, thus giving me opportunity of explaining the supposed error, or of humbly confessing my fault. With deep affection in my soul, I pray the God of heaven to bless every reader of this book, and kindly ask all who pray to pray that I may do all the good I can in this world and gain an eternity in the blissful fields of heaven. Yours in Christian love,
Chas. E. Orr, Federalsburg, Md.
In Jesus' name we are here to unveil before the reader the picture of a beautiful virgin, whom we shall call Christianity. Never was there a character seen upon the earth half so beautiful as she. In her loveliness she has won the heart of many. The proud and noble have been brought down to worship at her feet. The lowly have been lifted up to admire her gracious charms. Peasants have invited her into their humble homes, where she reigned as a queen of light and peace. Gloom and darkness is driven away by her sweet angelic smile. She has lifted the despondent out of the vortex of despair, and by her animating presence encouraged them to bright hopes and a happy life. The bitter lot of the poor she has sweetened, and the burden and care of riches takes wings and flies away at her approach. She has been brought into the presence of kings and almost won their hearts. Men have sacrificed the world to gain her love. She is a ray of heavenly light in this dark world.
The words of finite man are inadequate to describe the true character of Christianity. In our description we shall exalt her only by the words contained in the book sent down from heaven. That alone is worthy to eulogize her name. When the reader has followed our delineation to the close, and inspected every feature of this virtuous queen, we trust the decision of his heart will be yet deeper than his who said, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian."
Christianity should be full of interest to all mankind. She not only cools the heated brow, cheers the drooping heart, and strews life's pathway with flowers of peace, but she deals with man's eternal destiny. She will smooth the rough places all along his journey of life, and when he has come down to the end, it is she that will bear him across the valley and welcome him to the home prepared for his eternal inhabitancy.
Since the day of her nativity she has had a bitter obstinate foe, Satan, and wicked men have combined to bespoil her white robes and mar her fair form. They have struggled long and hard to bring her low. They have endeavored to extinguish her radiant light and defame her true character. We have only to take a stroll through the halls of denominationalism to learn how far they have succeeded. To many pews and pulpits our virgin has no excellence or beauty. In the pulpit orator's exposition of her she is not exalted one whit above the coarse, vulgar world. Satan has succeeded in veiling her fair form and true virtues from the hearts of many. In the opinions of many she is reduced to a mere nothing. Angels weep to see her fair robes trailed in the dust. Those who pretend to love her have brought her to shame. The low, degrading opinions entertained regarding her throughout the realms of sectarianism grieves the souls of her true admirers. They have brought her down from her pure, high throne and mingled her with the lives of ordinary sinful men. They have stripped her of her clean, white garments and covered her with a cloak of many colors. They have robbed her of her virtues and have stained her fair name until to-day all that is seen of Christianity in the aristocratic circles of Christendom is a maiden weeping over her stained vesture, lost virginity and reproached name. Thank God, such is true only in appearance. True Christianity is seen by her few devoted followers to-day the same pure, spotless virgin, the same queen of peace and light, as when she crowned the brow of the lowly Nazarene and his immediate followers. She has lost none of her virtuous charms. She is true. She reigns a lovely queen, glorious in power, pure in principle, "Clear as the sun, fair as the moon, and terrible as an army with banners."
Satan has robed a harlot and named her Christianity and succeeded in imposing her upon many in the world. They are fondling with her. She indulges them in sensuality, while encouraging them to hope in a peaceful immortality. The kings of the earth have committed fornication with her. They are reveling, feasting and banqueting with her, crazed by her seductive charms. She has neither purity, peace, nor power. Her robes are denied by sin. She scoffs at pure Christianity and calls her old-fashioned. This strange young woman is using every device to allure souls into her wanton chamber. She is most subtle of heart. She "flattereth with her words. In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night, she walketh in the streets, and lieth wait at every corner, that she might catch and kiss him who is void of understanding." With a beguiling, impudent face she says to him: "I have peace offerings with me; I have decked my bed with tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with love."
Such is the gay, fast, frivolous Christianity of the popular present day religions of our honored land. The generality of denominational membership (we speak in love) desire a Christianity that will go with them to the halls of pleasure; that will dine with them at the banquets; that will smile on them as they walk in the ways of sin and worldliness, calming their fears with her flattering words and peace offerings. Primitive Christianity, they consider, was good enough for primitive days, but she would be a horrid enough old maid in these days of progress. In this fast driving age the Christianity that crowned the life of the holy apostles is altogether too antiquated. She drew men from the world, she crucified their lust, she taught them to practise self-denial and keep their body in subjection; she brought them in humility at her feet; she led them in the paths of virtue and honor; she upbraided them for sin, and told them of the vengeance and wrath of God against every evil.
The world to-day, in general, is saying, "Away with such an old-time Christianity; she has no charms for us. She is too common and plain, too grave and sober. We will not walk with her; give us the gay and dashing young harlot that we may walk with her amid the pleasures of the world, and with her gratify our lusts. She never chides us for sin, nor troubles us about the anger of God nor the torments of hell. She invites us into her bosom and gives us a sweet opiate draught of 'stolen waters and the bread of secrecies,' and bids us take our 'fill of love.' "
Dear reader, "go not after her." "Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death."
The mission of this volume is to exalt true Christianity to her proper plane and reveal her true character by relating to the reader the teachings of Christ—her beloved consort—and the experience and teachings of his inspired followers, and thus tear off the sacrilegious robes of the harlot of false religions and expose her shame to the gaze of every honest soul.
Christianity is not a mere profession, but a principle. Every being is possessed with a principle. Satan has a principle, which might properly be termed devilanity; Christ has a principle which is termed Christianity. When this Christ principle is instilled into man's soul by the Spirit of God he becomes a Christian. He possesses the Christ-life, nature, or principle. Now Christ was the truth. Then the Christ nature or principle is according to the truth, whether it be in Christ or man. We have only then to lift up the whole truth, which by the wisdom and grace of God we shall do in this work, which will reveal true Christianity and expose every imposition. Christ is the vine; Christians are the branches. The vine and the branches are of the same nature. The branches retain life by abiding in the vine. They who abide in Christ walk (or live) even as Christ walked (or lived); that is, the vine and the branches bear the same kind of fruit. This is the philosophy of true Christianity. Anything bearing fruit in nature contrary to the truth or Christ principle is not Christianity, but is devilanity. "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father will ye do;" or sinful fruit ye will bear.
Christianity—stately queen, Virgin—loveliest ever seen, Fairest art thou upon the earth, And of a higher, nobler birth. When king Agrippa heard thy name, And how abroad was spread thy fame, And saw thee lovely as thou art, Thou almost won his heathen heart. When in the midnight's gloomy hour, The Romish jailer saw thy power, When thund'ring tones his ear did greet, He trembling worshiped at thy feet. When kneeling down beside the dead, In sacred, solemn tones, thou said, "Dorcas, in Jesus' name arise," And opened were the woman's eyes. When man our days in death had lain, Thou gavest him back his life again. When woman did her sin deplore, Thou whispered, "Go, and sin no more." When wicked Simon saw thy power He strove to win thee with a dower; Within his sinful heart he thought Thy power with money could be bought; Thou spurned his offer and made bold, To bid him perish with his gold. They lied to thee and lost their life, Both Ananias and his wife. Such was thy power in days of yore, And such 'twill be forevermore.
Fairest art thou among the fair, Thy graces none but thee can wear; In trailing robes of snowy white, Thou art on earth a gleam of light; Thy cheeks are comely as the rose, Thy neck as white as winter snows; Thy lips are like a scarlet thread, Thy locks like silver on thy head. To him who with thee is in love, Thou'rt meek and gentle as the dove; Virgin, so pure and bold and free, No spot is found at all in thee. Such was thy purity of yore And such 'twill be forevermore.
The Gospel Day Seen In Prophecy.
Upon reading the account of man's creation in the first chapters of Genesis we conclude that he enjoyed perfect peace and happiness. From the beautiful description given there of the garden of Eden—man's abode—we understand that God was interested in his felicity. In the nature of created things he could retain this happiness only by obedience to the Creator's laws. By a subtle foe he was induced to transgress those laws and thus became acquainted with sin and sorrow. After the transgression he hid himself among the trees of the garden from the presence of the Lord because a fear rested upon his conscious being.
Man in sweet felicity was made, But sorrowed when God he disobeyed.
The man was turned out upon the world to earn his support by labor. The ground was cursed for his sake. It brought forth thorns and thistles, and in sorrow he must eat of it all the days of his life. Cherubims and a flaming sword prevented his return to the tree of life, which stood in the midst of the garden. The apostle John in his revelations beheld this sad scene. He saw the book of life—tree of life—to be sealed with seven seals, and he saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon," and he wept much. Rev. 5:1-4. How sad the scene! Man was created in holiness and happiness. He dwelt in the garden of Eden and had access to the tree of life, the very source of peace. But sin entered his heart. He was driven away to be in sorrow all his days. No man in heaven nor earth could secure his return. God saw his wretchedness and that his "wickedness was great in the earth" and "it grieved him at his heart." Gen. 6:5, 6. Sin swayed its scepter over the heart of man and he groaned beneath its tyrannical power, but God's mercy was not "clean gone forever." They cried unto the Lord because of the oppressors and he promised to send them a "Savior, and a great one," to deliver them. Isa. 19:20. Man was encaged in the prison-house of sin, but God promised to send a deliverer "to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound." Isa. 61:1.
The beloved apostle John, in the vision before mentioned, wept because no man was found worthy to open the book; but one of the elders said unto him, "Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof." Praise God! John in his vision saw the man fall from his pure and happy state into sin and the book of life becoming sealed. He also saw that no man in heaven nor earth was able to restore him to his original place and holiness, and it caused him to weep. But in his vision there appeared one who prevailed to open the book and "redeem us unto God out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation."
In the prophetic days of ancient Israel men who walked with God and trusted in his promises were permitted a visionary look down through the centuries to behold the dawning of a day glorious in the effulgency of its light and the greatness of its power. Even in those dim, remote days the wondrous glory of a day when the "Prince of Peace" should come was foreseen by the prophets, who break forth in beautiful strains of music, expressing their joy and admiration. Isaiah in speaking of that expected day says, "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising." Isa. 60:1-3.
It is a day of wonderful light. When the prophet speaks of the Gentiles coming to the light the reader begins to understand the time of the dawning. He further says, "Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise. The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended." Isa. 60:18-20.
The prophet by a long stretch of faith passed through the gates of Praise to within the walls of Salvation and beheld a light above the brightness of the sun and the softness of the moon. We quote these texts, and the following, to impress the reader's mind and heart with the greatness of the light and the wonders of that coming day as seen in expectation by those ancient holy men. After a while we will come to the dawning, then the noontide, then the evening of this great day and we will find the glory and the wonders to be as the prophets foresaw and described.
What can the holy seer mean by saying, "Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders"? We have only to turn to the eleventh chapter, where we have this clearly explained. Let us read: "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears; but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reigns. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious."
Who does not know who is referred to by the words "the Root of Jesse," whom the Gentiles shall seek, "and his rest shall be glorious"? We hear of one saying in the New Testament, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." "Violence shall no more be heard in thy land." "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb" in the day when the Gentiles shall seek rest in the Root of Jesse. This prophecy will never have a literal fulfilment, as some erroneously teach. It only exalts the salvation of the Branch of Jesse to deliver men from the wolf and lion disposition. It is the peacefulness of Christianity. In the day the prophet is speaking of there shall be peace on the earth. Man can find deliverance from sin and obtain a peaceful rest—not being disturbed by evil and ill dispositions.
Isaiah in again beholding this glorious rest-day discovers a way which is called the way of holiness. He says, "The unclean shall not pass over it;... no lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there: and the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." Isa. 35:8-10. Any one can understand that a literal beast is not meant here when he speaks of a lion, but that wicked, unclean men can not walk in the way of holiness—only the redeemed can walk there.
Earlier in this chapter he speaks of the eyes of the blind being opened, and the ears of the deaf being unstopped, and the lame being made to leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb being made to sing. We have only to read the New Testament to learn of the fulfilment of this prophecy. In that day men of unclean, ravenous, and lion-like natures shall find deliverance and be made gentle, lowly and humble—"The wolf and the lamb shall dwell together." What a wonder and expectation must have filled the hearts of those devout men in those days of darkness and gloom, as they looked forward to that time when the blind should see, the deaf hear, and the lame walk; when there should be no more violence nor destruction nor wasting, but there should be songs of everlasting joy, and sorrow and sighing would flee away.
"In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; we have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks." Isa. 26:1. In that day salvation's walls shall surround the people of God. In the time of this prophet it was stone walls that surrounded their city, but he looked forward to a time when the walls of salvation would surround the city of God. Salvation means deliverance. In that day the people of God should find a deliverance or cleansing from sin. It is the gospel day when Christ should offer a sacrifice for the whole world. The people cried unto God because of their oppressors, and he sent them a Savior, and a strong one, to deliver them. Isa. 19:20.
Were we to turn to the first chapter of the gospel by Luke we would there learn who this deliverer was. There we read: "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel: for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; as he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; the oath which he sware to our father Abraham, that he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life."
By reading the whole of this chapter you will learn that this horn of salvation, this deliverer, was the child Christ Jesus. This deliverer was to appear in that day. The most simple will at once understand that the day foreseen and foretold by the holy seers was the Christian dispensation, or the day of "grace and truth."
The prophet again exclaims: "And in that day thou shalt say, O Lord, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. And in that day shall ye say, Praise the Lord." Isa. 12:1-4. "In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy." Isa. 4:2, 3.
The prophet Joel in contemplation of that day of great blessings says: "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord, and shall water the valley of Shittim." Joel 3:18.
Zechariah in beholding this fountain exclaims: "In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness." Zech. 13:1.
Wonderful Fountain of cleansing, The prophet did foresee, Deep Fountain of peace and glory Opened to all shall be.
The prophet again in beholding the glory and purity of that day says: "In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD." Zech. 14:20.
The prophet did foretell a day, Through which extends a holy way, Where walk the ransomed of the Lord, Made pure in heart, through Jesus' blood.
Another man of God is permitted to look down through the darkness and see the glory of this day of cleansing. "But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness." Mal. 3:2, 3. In that day there shall be a fountain of cleansing, or a fire of refining, when hearts shall be made pure as gold and silver is refined and made pure. It is the day in which Isaiah says, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Isa. 1:18.
The day foretold by this holy train of Old Testament prophets was spoken of as a day of "peace and rest"; a day of "praise and salvation"; a day of "refining"; a day when a "cleansing fountain shall be opened"; a day when "scarlet stains shall be made white as snow"; a day when "the lame man shall leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing," and the deaf ears shall hear, and blind eyes be made to see; a day when the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come unto Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; a day when "the desert shall blossom as the rose"; a day when the wolf and the lamb shall dwell together; a day when the "Branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious." Praise God!
That day seen so far away by those righteous men awakened songs of praise in their hearts. They were not speaking of the eternal day in the glory world; neither of a supposed millennial age, but of this present glorious dispensation of grace and salvation. It requires only two texts to clearly prove this. The first is Isa. 49:8: "Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee." The second is found in 2 Cor. 6:2. Paul here quotes this promise the Lord made, and then says, "Behold now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." Again in Rom. 13:12 the apostle speaks of his having arrived at that day. He says, "The night is far spent, the day is at hand, let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light." How beautiful! The Christian's armor in the "day of salvation" is one of light, the darkness is flown away. The Old Testament writer said that in that day God would send a Savior. In the New Testament it is recorded that "unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord." The Savior God had promised was the Christ, and the day was now come.
All hail the glad gospel day, Peace and good will to men; The darkness has flown away, And grace has conquered sin.
By many a prophetic Old Testament text that day of wonderful light and glory was spoken of as a day when God's salvation should appear. In the second chapter of Luke it is recorded that there lived in Jerusalem a just and devout man, who knowing those prophetic sayings concerning that great day of consolation, waited for its dawning. It was revealed unto him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. He came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." Simeon, as he looked upon this young child, saw the salvation the ancient prophets saw only by faith. The day of which they prophesied the Holy Spirit witnessed to his heart he should live to see, and he saw it. It was the dawning of the day of Christian power and purity, in which we shall find came to pass all the prophetic wonders of salvation. You need not look forward to some marvelous coming age in which to find a fulfilment of these prophecies, but "to-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts." "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?"
For convenience and clearness we have thought best to divide this work into three parts. Part first to consist of the revealing of Christianity as seen in the life and teaching of Christ and the teaching and lives of his followers during the first few centuries of this Christian era, which is termed the morning of the gospel day. Part second will consist of the apostolic prophecies with possibly a few Old Testament prophecies concerning an apostasy during the middle centuries, or, the noontide of the gospel day; also showing that these prophecies find an exact fulfilment in the customs and doings of the popular religious denominations of this present time. Part third will consist of the prophecies relating to the restoration of the glorious truths of Christianity, or a return of God's people to the apostolic plane of Christian faith and power and teaching in the evening of this day of salvation. With this introduction we feel confident the reader understands the plan of this work and will readily comprehend its teachings. "Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding," is my prayer.
PART I. THE MORNING.
Or, Christianity In The First Centuries Of This Gospel Age As Revealed In The Life And Teaching Of Christ And The Apostles.
In this division of this work we desire to set forth in a clear, comprehensive manner the true character and principles of Christianity as seen in the teachings of the Holy Scriptures. The Bible is our only source of knowledge respecting the true nature of a Christian life. Man may presume, but the Scriptural declarations are in verity. The New Testament sets forth in such clearness the nature of a Christian heart and the conduct that naturally issues from such a heart that none need be deceived as to their spiritual standing. Christianity is in absolute and perfect accord with the Holy Scriptures. This is a fact that all must concede. No matter what may be the philosophy and theory of man, Christianity is just what the Bible plainly declares it to be. A life that is out of harmony with the sacred truth can not be a Christian life. For this reason we desire to set forth the principal teachings of the New Testament respecting practical Christianity.
Chapter I. Christianity A Light.
Throughout the Scriptures Christianity is spoken of as a light. The Christian era is referred to as a day. A day is when the light shineth. In speaking of the beautiful dawning of the Star of Christianity the prophet says: "And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising." "Arise, shine; for thy light is come." "The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory." Isa. 60. It is not meant to say here that Christians have no need of the light of the sun or the moon, but to teach that the light of the sun and the brightness of the moon is not to be compared to the transcendent light of Christianity. Whose heart has not been touched with a feeling of admiration as they beheld the bright dawning of the round, red sun, or the beautiful rising of a full moon? These are not to be compared with the "brightness of the rising" of the gospel day. "To them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up." Mat. 4:16. "Through the tender mercy of our God, whereby the dayspring [sun rising—margin] from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace." Luke 1:78, 79.
Jesus says of himself, "I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star." Rev. 22:16. Christ speaking to the church at Thyatira, says to those that overcome and keep his works unto the end, that he will give them the morning star. Rev. 2:28. He will give them the true light and glory of Christianity, or his own light and nature. All will do well to take heed to do his works "until the day dawn and the day star arise in their hearts."
In the natural world there is a literal solar system consisting of the sun, moon and planets. The sun is the center around which all the planets revolve, and from which they receive their light. The moon borrows its light from the sun. When some object interposes between the moon and the sun the moon is left in darkness. In the spiritual world there is a spiritual solar system consisting of sun, moon and stars. As in the literal system, the moon and stars revolve around the Sun and borrow their light therefrom.
The Spiritual Sun Or Light.
It is not difficult to glean from the Scriptures the knowledge of the true center of this spiritual solar system, or the true source of light. The last writer of the Old Testament Scriptures, in his last chapter says: "But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings." All understand this text to refer to the Lord Jesus. His visitation to this world, through the mercy of God, is termed, "The sun-rising." Luke 1:78, margin. Christ is the Sun and true source of light of the gospel day. The church of God collectively is the moon of this spiritual solar system, and its individual members are the stars. In the Savior's prophecy as recorded in Mark 13:24, 25, the term "sun" is a metaphor, signifying Christ; the "moon," the church, as a whole; the "stars," Christians, or especially the ministry.
This darkening of the sun and moon and the falling of the stars we will clearly explain in part second of this work. The church of God receives its light from Jesus. He is "the light of the world." In the language of Isa. 60:1 the church is addressed: "Arise, shine; for thy light is come." Christ is her light. The church shines by the light of Christ, as the moon shines by the light of the sun. "Out of Zion [the church of God], the perfection of beauty, God hath shined." The church as a whole is a brilliant reflector to reflect the light of Christ to this universe. Every Christian is a bright spot in this luminous reflector. Amen. "Let your light so shine."
A few years ago, one beautiful Sunday summer evening, as we were on our way to an appointed meeting, we observed the moon rising in the splendor of its fulness. It shed its soft, peaceful rays over the earth in marked beauty. After a short time we became aware of a gathering darkness. On looking up we saw a dark object gathering over the moon. Slowly, but surely the dark object crept on until all was darkened. Not one ray of light fell from the moon. The sun had ceased to shine upon her. We understood that the world had come in between the sun and the moon and obstructed the sun's rays. The same is true of the spiritual moon, the church. In the first few centuries of this Christian day it shone with the light and glory of God, but the time came when the "moon [church] ceased to give her light," and all because, as we will learn, the world came between it and the Sun (Christ).
Christian Power And Purity.
Christianity is a light in this world because of the greatness of its power and the excellence of its purity. John, who is denominated the forerunner of Jesus, or the heralding star of Christianity, said that "he was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." John 1:8, 9. Of whom speaketh the prophet then? The Son of God will answer this question in these words: "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." John 8:12. Jesus was the light of the world because of his power and purity. All power was given unto him in heaven and in earth. Mat. 28:18.
He was holy, harmless and undefiled. Heb. 7:26. The Lord Jesus lived a pure and holy life. "He did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth." He had power to open the blind eyes, to unstop the deaf ears, to loose the dumb tongue, to make the lame man leap as a hart, and to heal all manner of diseases, and to raise the dead. There is no sin in heaven; there is no sickness there. He brought the light of heaven to this world in displaying his power over sin and disease. Glory to his name!
We wish to impress this fact upon the reader's mind that he was a light because of his purity and power, and because he was the "Truth." And now if you will but believe it, that is the true light of Christianity. The Lord Jesus was only a visitant. His stay on earth was transient. He came from heaven, and heaven soon again received him. Referring to his departure he said to his disciples: "Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light; ... while ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light." John 12:35, 36.
Again he says, "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." John 9:5. We learn the sad story of his crucifixion, then the glad news of his resurrection, and then his ascension in a cloud to the glory, from whence he came. Is the light of Christianity gone from the world? Is this world left again in darkness? No; thank God! Jesus now says to his devoted followers: "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill can not be hid." Mat. 5:14. It is the "city of Zion, the perfection of beauty," out of which God doth shine. "The glory of God is risen upon her." Jesus told them to believe in the light while they had the light, that they might be the children of light. Paul, in exhorting Christians to a holy life, said: "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world." Phil. 2:15. "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light." Eph. 5:8. "Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness." 1 Thes. 5:5.
This is the spiritual moon reflecting the light of the Sun. It is "God that shineth in thee." They are "light in the Lord," and they are commanded to "let their light shine, that God might be glorified." This is beautiful. Oh, what a privilege
To be a vessel transparent, Clear as the crystal sea, Letting the glorious light of heaven Brilliantly shine through thee.
Beloved saints, take heed that there be not one spot in thee to obstruct the light of God. "Let it shine." Submissively place thyself in the crucible and there be polished and refined and purged and cleansed until thou art "purer than snow, and whiter than milk, and more ruddy than rubies."
How can the Lord now, since his ascension, shine through his church? The Scriptures make this very plain. Jesus told his own that he would not long be with them, but said, "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world can not receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." John 14:16-18.
In verse twenty-six he tells us the Comforter is the Holy Ghost. In the second chapter of Acts we have the account of the Holy Spirit's coming. If you will again look over the quotation from John 14:16-18 you will notice he uses "Comforter" and "I" interchangeably. He will give you another Comforter. "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." The Holy Spirit's coming on Pentecost was Christ in another personage. Christ in the Spirit has now come to dwell in the midst of his people, and to be a light in them. Jesus was here in the body on a mission of mercy. He tasted death for every man. He comes again in the Spirit to "reprove the world of righteousness, of sin, and of judgment." In Heb. 10:5 Jesus says, "A body hast thou prepared me." A body in which to offer a sacrifice for the sins of the world. He now has a body in which he dwells in the Spirit. Christians are "a holy temple in the Lord, in whom they are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit." Thus God inhabits his people, "dwells in them, and walks in them." The church of God is now the body of Christ. He is the "head over all things to the church, which is his body." Eph. 1:22, 23; see also Col. 1:18.
In speaking of saints in 1 Cor. 12:27 the apostle says, "Now ye are the body of Christ and members in particular." He was the light of the world in his incarnation, and now the church, his body, is the light of the world. Incarnate he was a light because of his purity and power, and he lives the same pure life and manifests the same marvelous power in his body, the church, as when here in his personal ministry. He healed the sick, cast out devils, opened blinded eyes, unstopped deaf ears, and raised the dead. After the Holy Spirit's coming he performs the same wondrous works in his body, the church. Through the apostle Peter he healed a lame man, restored to life a dead woman, etc. He is "the very same Jesus." When he was here in the flesh he could be seen and his marvelous works witnessed by the natural eye. The Holy Spirit is imperceptible to the natural eye, and therefore can only reveal himself to the world as he works in the midst of his people. It is thus that Christians reflect the light of Christ.
In the sixteenth of Mark the Lord commanded his disciples to go "into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God." Ver. 15-19.
In verse nineteen it is said the Lord was received up into heaven and sat on the right hand of God. In verse twenty it is said, "They [the disciples] went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following." The Lord worked with them; then he must have returned. He did in the manner we have told you. He returned to be a light in the midst of his people by confirming the truth wherever it is lifted up. He did do it, and he now does it. God bears witness to his truth, both with signs and wonders, and divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost. Heb. 2:4. For Christianity to be a light there must be the performance of signs and wonders and divers miracles. Such is true Christianity, and such is her light, a queen swaying her scepter over the works of Satan, setting at liberty the captives, breaking the bands of Satan asunder, healing the diseased, and scattering peace and bright hopes in the hearts of men. Glory to God forevermore!
The Beauties Of Christian Character.
Not only does the Lord dwell in the midst of his people to perform deeds and signs of wonder, but he dwells in them in all the beauty of his holiness. In their hearts he rules a "King of peace" and purity. Those in whom he dwells "walk even as he walked," and "as he is, so are they in this world."
A certain writer speaks thus of the beauties of Christian character: "Live as we may, age dims the luster of the eye, and pales the flush of the cheek, while infirmity mars the human form divine. But while this is true, dim as the eye is, pallid and sunken as may be the face of beauty, frail and feeble that once strong, erect and symmetrical form, the immortal soul, just fledging its wings for heaven, may look out through those faded windows, as beautiful as a dewdrop on a summer's morning, as melting as the tears that glisten in affection's eye, by growing kindly, by cultivating sympathy with all mankind, by cherishing forbearance toward the follies and fribbles of our race, and feeding day by day on that love of God and man which lifts us from the brute and makes us akin to angels."
Christian character is the same whether it be in Christians or in Christ. The character of the Savior is also the character of those in whom he dwells. Their nature is the same, and their outward life is the same. This is what is meant when it is said: "We should walk even as he walked." For the clear proof of these few assertions we will arrange in parallel columns a few texts of Scripture describing the character of Jesus and a few describing the character of Christians, and we will find that not anything more is said of the Savior with respect to a holy life than is said of his devoted followers.
Character Of Christ. Character Of Christians.
"His mouth is most sweet: yea, he "Behold, thou art fair, my love; is altogether lovely." S. of Sol. behold, thou art fair; ... thou art 5:16. all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee." S. of Sol. 4:1, 7.
"Take my yoke upon you, and learn "Better it is to be of a humble of me; for I am meek and lowly in spirit with the lowly, than to heart." Mat. 11:29. divide the spoil with the proud." Prov. 16:19.
"For as by one man's disobedience "Wherefore gird up the loins of many were made sinners, so by the your mind, be sober, and hope to obedience of one shall many be made the end for the grace that is to be righteous." Rom. 5:19. brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children." 1 Pet 1:13, 14.
"But when he saw the multitudes, he "Finally, be ye all of one mind, was moved with compassion on them, having compassion one of another, because they fainted and were love as brethren, be pitiful, be scattered abroad as sheep having no courteous." 1 Pet. 3:8. shepherd." Mat. 9:36.
"Faithful is he that calleth you, "And the things that thou hast who also will do it." 1 Thes. 5:24. heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." 2 Tim. 2:2.
"Whom God hath set forth to be a "Forbearing one another, and propitiation through faith in his forgiving one another." Col. 3:13. blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God." Rom. 3:25.
"Take my yoke upon you, and learn "But let it be the hidden man of of me; for I am meek and lowly in the heart, in that which is not heart." Mat. 11:29. corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." 1 Pet. 3:4.
"And account that the "With all lowliness and meekness, long-suffering of our Lord is with long-suffering, forbearing one salvation." 2 Pet. 3:15. another in love." Eph. 4:2.
"And being found in fashion as a "Likewise, ye younger, submit man, he humbled himself, and became yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all obedient unto death, even the death of you be subject one to another, of the cross." Phil 2:8. and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble." 1 Pet. 5:5.
"But with the precious blood of "Pure religion and undefiled before Christ, as of a lamb without God and the Father is this, To blemish and without spot." 1 Pet. visit the fatherless and widows in 1:19. their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." Jas. 1:27.
"The Lord is merciful and gracious, "Blessed are the merciful: for they slow to anger, and plenteous in shall obtain mercy." Mat. 5:7. mercy." Psa. 103:8.
"For such an high priest became us, "That ye may be blameless and who is holy, harmless, undefiled, harmless, the sons of God, without separate from sinners, and made rebuke, in the midst of a crooked higher than the heavens." Heb. and perverse nation, among whom ye 7:26. shine as lights in the world." Phil. 2:15.
"Who did no sin, neither was guile "Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, found in his mouth." 1 Pet. 2:22. and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" John 1:47.
"For we have not an high priest "Whosoever is born of God doth not which can not be touched with the commit sin; for his seed remaineth feeling of our infirmities; but was in him: and he can not sin, because in all points tempted like as we he is born of God." 1 John 3:9. are, yet without sin." Heb. 4:15.
Thus we could go on to a much greater length, showing by the Scriptures that the character of a Christian, or his nature or life is the same as the life or character of Christ. Christianity is Christ in us. The life of a true Christian is one of great beauty. It is a light in this world. It is far above the ways of sin and worldliness. It is the Christ-life in man. The self-life of man has ceased, is crucified; nevertheless he lives, yet not he, but it is Christ that liveth in him. The Christian life is inspiring, ennobling, clothed in humility. It points the way to Christ and heaven. It is a brilliant ornament, which in the sight of God is of great price. God places great value upon a Christian life. It is worth more than ten thousand worlds. Is it not a shame that it is trifled with as it is? Thousands are taking the name of Christian, when it is impossible to distinguish them from the world; they emit not one ray of light.
Esthetics is the science of the beautiful, and treats of the feelings produced through the senses by objects of beauty. The most vile and dishonest admire honesty in others; thus gentleness, kindness, meekness, produce pleasant feelings and are called beautiful. God is the source of meekness, gentleness, and love. He is the source of the beautiful. Christianity is God in man, exhibiting his beauty. "Lord, let thy beauty be upon us." The dewdrop sparkles like a diamond as the sun's rays fall upon it. The life of man sparkles with an unsurpassed beauty as the rays of light and salvation fall upon it from the throne. As we behold the beauty of God assimilated into the life of man and thus revealed we think what a pity that all in the world are not Christians.
Christian, oh, may thy tribe increase, Thy light and glory ne'er decrease; Shine on and magnify the Word, And point the world to Christ and God.
Chapter II. The Holy Scriptures.
We have said before that Christianity is in perfect accord with the Bible. The Word of God reveals Christianity to us. It is an infallible expression of its doctrines and duties. Jesus is the way to everlasting rest; the Bible is the guide. Some one has said, "Both are equally certain, equally divine. Let us be thankful for such unspeakable gifts. Next to the mercy of a Savior, able and ready to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him, is the book of inspiration of God, which as a lamp to our feet, and a light to our path, conducts us to such a Friend, and teaches us the way of salvation."
The Word of God is a lamp and a light to guide to everlasting bliss, "The entrance of thy word giveth light." The word is written in the Christian's heart. In his conduct he adorns the doctrine of God our Savior and thus reveals the light of the gospel. Christianity is therefore a light, because it is a product of the truth. We can understand at once then that anything that is in opposition to the Scriptures can not be a light. The nearer the life accords with the whole truth the greater the light. The Scriptures contain all that is necessary for the formation of a perfect Christian. Whosoever submits heart and life to the Word of God and walks in obedience to its commands will be transformed into the glorious image of the Son of God and made ready for that better land. The apostle says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect [a perfect Christian], thoroughly furnished unto all good works." 2 Tim. 3:16, 17.
Tradition is unnecessary for the production of a true Christian character. The Scriptures contain all the doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction needful. The Scriptures have but one true interpreter, and but one interpretation. All who rightly understand the Bible understand it alike. We are aware this is contrary to much of the present day teaching. Many are now saying that "we can not understand the Word of God the same, therefore just as we understand it so it is unto us." This is very loose and robs the "two-edged sword" of all its sharpness and power. It leaves man to interpret it in a manner that will not condemn his sinful life. A class of grammar students, if allowed to analyze sentences and parse words each according to his understanding, would never become perfect grammarians. One may parse a word as a "verb," another the same word as an "adverb," another as a "participle," and if each were right according to his understanding, how could we have any fixed rules of grammar? All would be confusion and no one would know what is proper speech. Students to become efficient scholars must understand mathematics, astronomy, botany, etc., alike. Every volume written by man if understood rightly must be understood alike by all.
To allow every man his own private interpretation of Scripture, or every religious society its interpretation is to admit of no certain, no fixed rules governing a Christian life. We can illustrate it better in this way. A certain rich man has a number of circulars printed. These circulars he distributes among the poor of a certain neighborhood. On these circulars he tells them that at the end of twelve months he will give one thousand dollars to each one complying with the conditions given below. The conditions are these: You must not steal. "Lie not one to another." Do not render evil for evil. Love your enemies, and pray for those who despitefully use you. "If thine enemy hunger, feed him; and if he thirst, give him drink." "Speak evil of no man." "Return good for evil." "As ye would that others should do to you, do ye even so to them." If a man smite you upon the right cheek, turn to him the other also. Prefer others before yourself. "Do all things without murmuring." Do not wear gold or pearls or costly array. Pray when you are afflicted. Do not jest or talk foolishly, but have a sound speech. Greet one another with a kiss. Wash one another's feet. You must all speak the same thing. You must be of one mind. If ye do these things you shall receive the inheritance, but he that offends in one is guilty of all.
Now who of a sound mind could not understand as plain and simple language as this? But suppose one man or woman does not want to lay off their gold and pearls, so they decide he meant that for women of ancient times and not for us. Another thinks the command to greet with a kiss means to shake hands. Another thinks to visit my neighbor when he is sick is washing his feet. To pray when we are afflicted is meant for the people of olden time. One man whose heart is full of hatred against a neighbor decides no man can love his enemy, therefore this command does not mean what it says, so he will go on hating his enemy, but expects to get his inheritance. One man decides one command means one thing, another that it means something else, each one making each command to mean that which is most pleasing to do. Who would receive the one thousand dollars at the time appointed? You can at once see the folly of their entertaining hopes of receiving the inheritance.
Thousands are thus treating the Word of God, saying this and that commandment does not mean what it says, but means thus and so, or, it was for a people of some other time, etc. At this present day there are many who are taking the traditions of men and customs of some religious society for their rule of life and duty.
Recently while passing through a strange part of the country we stopped at a farmhouse to inquire our way. It became convenient to tell the lady, who came to answer our inquiry, that we had come into her neighborhood to hold a few religious meetings. She invited us into her house to see her four weeks' old baby which was sick. While talking with her she said that she became afraid that her child was going to die, so she sent for the minister and had it christened. I asked her if she believed that if the babe had died without being christened that it would have gone to hell. "No," she said, "I do not believe that, but I believe that it would have gone to heaven." I then asked her, Do you not believe that if your little child lives that it will go into sin and some day will have to repent and be converted in order to get to heaven just the same as if it never had been christened? She said that she believed it would. I then asked her what good the christening had done her child. She answered, "I do not know." I then asked her to give me one commandment in the Bible obligating her to christen her child. She said, "I know of none." I then asked her why she had her babe christened. She said, "Because most all the people do around here."
She like thousands of others was taking the custom of the neighborhood, or religious order, and never searched the Scriptures to know what are the commandments of God. We need to be doers only of the Word of God. "Not every one that saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." The God of heaven has given laws and fixed rules and recorded them in the Holy Scriptures to govern our daily life. These laws we are positively commanded to obey. To disobey is a sin. 1 John 3:4. Sinners do not go to heaven. There is not one text in the whole Bible encouraging us to hope of going to heaven if we are knowingly disobeying any commandment of God. In this present day a mighty concourse of people are passing on down the way to an eternity, professing to be children of God, but living careless and negligent, doing many things they should not do, and failing to do a great many things they should do.
This greatly reminds me of the way the people regarded a certain stock law that was passed by the legislature of our district in my boyhood days. This law forbade the running at large of cattle, hogs, sheep, etc. Now there was in our neighborhood much of what was called "commons." It was unfenced land, and was used as a common pasture land for all. Consequently the enacting of such a law was obnoxious to nearly all of the citizens of this neighborhood, and it was almost unanimously violated; and because it was violated by so many it was never enforced. Cattle, sheep, and hogs continued to run at large the same as if there was no law prohibiting the same. After a time most people had forgotten there was such a law.
The same is true respecting the Word of God. People have gone on in their own ways, violating those holy laws until many are doing things, and do not know there is a law of God forbidding it. God's laws are not held in the high esteem they should be. They are his power unto salvation to all that believe. They are able to save the soul. They are to be kept in remembrance, to be kept in the heart, to be obeyed. They are to search, to meditate upon, to trust in, to rejoice in, to delight in, to taste, to long after, to stand in awe of, to esteem as a light, and to be let dwell richly within us. It is the Word of God that shall judge us in that great judgment-day. They that love God and keep his words, "against such there is no law;" consequently they will "have boldness in that day." God's law is eternal; it shall never pass away. The Lord Jesus says, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall never pass away." "The word of God which liveth and abideth forever." 1 Pet. 1:23.
The earth and all that therein is shall pass away, But God's pure Word shall live and stand for aye and aye: Man runs his race of life, then, passing from the scene, Returns to dust, and is as though he ne'er had been— This is not spoken of the inner man, the soul— This, says the Word, shall live while ceaseless ages roll. The city with its walls and towers of granite stone, Shall be to dissolution brought by rain and sun; The ships which round the world on crested wave have flown. Go down amid the storm, and never more are known; The daring mountain peak, all covered o'er with snow, Shall mid terrific blast descend to depths below; The proud empire whose scepter sways o'er land and sea, Shall fall and pass away ere dawns eternity; And haughty finite sovereign power no more shall be, The stars in firmament above shall quit their place; The waning moon shall cease her still nocturnal race, And earth no more sail through immensity of space. Because of sin all these shall pass fore'er away, Shall melt with fervent heat in that avenging day, But God's pure Word shall live and stand for aye and aye.
Chapter III. Sin.
The time was when there was no sin in this world. At that time it was an Eden. By man transgressing God's holy law sin entered this world. "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." Rom. 5:12. This is the origin of sin in this world and the awful consequence. God's design was that his creation be sinless and pure, but by disobedience sin has marred the scene of God's creative purity. The following texts will acquaint the reader with the characteristics or nature of sin.
1. Sin is defiling. "There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness." Prov. 30:12. "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Isa. 1:18. Here we see the defiling nature of sin. It stains the soul as with scarlet. White is the emblem of purity. The pure soul is spoken of as being clothed in "fine linen, clean and white." Sin stains those robes with crimson, or scarlet spots. Though you wash with niter, or with much soap, those deep-dyed marks of iniquity can not be thus cleansed away.
2. Sin is deceiving. "But exhort one another daily, while it is called to-day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." Heb. 3:13. One sin has opened the gate or way to many more. There is a kind of opiate power in sin that renders its victim unconscious of its awful magnitude, thus its deceitfulness.
3. Sin is reproachful. "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people." Prov. 14:34. We can not enable you to see that sin is a reproach in any better way than by placing two pictures before you. One picture is that of a community where all the citizens, old and young, love and fear God. They live together in peace and love; there are no quarrelings or contentions, envyings or unkindnesses among neighbors, neither in home life. There is no stealing, lying, cheating, swearing, drunkenness, fightings, backbitings, vulgarisms, unholy revelries, etc. Such manner of life exalts that community, and all good people are desirous of making their homes there.
The second picture is that of a community where neighbors are quarreling, hating and lawing with each other. In home life there are angry words and bitter feelings and estrangements. There are lewd revelries and wanton pleasures. There are stealings and lyings, cheatings, fightings, swearings, drinking, chewing and smoking, slang phrases, etc. Such is a reproach, and thus we learn how righteousness exalts a nation and sin becomes a reproach to any people.
4. Sin gives death its horror. "The sting of death is sin." 1 Cor. 15:56. Many a thing in this world carries a sting by which it inflicts pain. Death and the thoughts of death are painful and cause a shudder and fear because death has a sting. It is sin.
5. Sin excludes the soul from heaven. "Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye can not come." John 8:21. Heaven is a pure and holy place. No sin will ever enter there. If we die in our sins heaven is lost unto us forever.
What Is Sin?
Many people have become confused concerning a sinless life because they did not understand what sin was. A temptation or trial is not a sin, but it is the yielding to temptation that is a sin. "All unrighteousness is sin." 1 John 5:17. All that is wrong is sinful. There are but few people that will not confess that we should live right in this world. To live right in every way is the fruit of righteousness. James says, "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." 4:17. To refuse to do a good thing known unto us when we have opportunity is wrong and displeasing to God. Solomon says, "The thought of foolishness is sin." "In a multitude of words there wanteth not sin." The apostle John clearly and positively defines sin in these words: "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." 1 John 3:4.
To transgress or violate any known law of God is sin. This is clear and comprehensive. For instance, a man knows it is wrong to steal, therefore if he steals it is a sin. A man knows it is wrong to tell a falsehood, therefore if he speaks falsely he commits a sin. A man knows it is wrong to become intoxicated, and yet he does become so; he has violated a known law of right and wrong, and has therefore committed a sin. Who is the man of common sense that does not know it is wrong to lie, steal, swindle, defraud, curse, drink, get angry and cross; to refuse to help a needy neighbor when he can, to talk foolishly, to tell unseemly tales, to backbite, slander, commit adultery, hold enmity against another, or to be proud and vain, etc.?
All these, and many more, the Bible says are wrong, and man knows them to be wrong; therefore to do them is a sin. Sin brings man into bondage. John 8:34. Man is unable to liberate himself from sin, but God has sent a Deliverer. Praise his name! "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." John 8:36. Of this glorious deliverance we shall speak in the following chapter.
Chapter IV. Salvation.
Salvation is the song that was to be sung by the redeemed in that day. "Behold now is the day." Our salvation has come. "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men." Salvation means deliverance. A prophecy concerning the Christ—our salvation—says: "He hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound." Isa. 61:1. Christ our Savior came to deliver us from the prison-house of sin.
In the preceding chapter we learned that sin left its crimson and scarlet stains upon the soul. Salvation cleanses the soul, removing the stains, making it as white as snow. Washing in "niter and much soap" will not prove effectual, but the blood of Jesus will remove every stain. Sin reproaches, but the salvation of Jesus exalts. It lifts man up from the coarse, degrading, shameful life of sin, and exalts him to integrity, nobility, and purity. It removes the discontentments, uneasiness, condemnations and fears, and brings joy, peace and rest. Salvation breaks the strong fetters of sin and man rejoices in the beautiful light and liberty of this gospel day. The scepter is wrested from the cruel tyrant, sin, and righteousness in quietness and peace sways the scepter, and man rejoices. Sin is dethroned and Christ is crowned King of glory, and his triumphant reign is in the heart and life of man. Sin no longer has dominion. Christ hath made us free.
O God, thy vict'ries I extol With all the freedom of my soul.
Salvation removes the awful sting of death and allows man to approach the last hour
"Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch About him and lies down to pleasant dreams."
A Present Salvation.
"Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." 2 Cor. 6:2. The present dispensation, or gospel day, is the salvation age. It is the accepted time, or the time which God has accepted for the salvation of man. That there is another dispensation of time beyond this present Christian era in which man can be saved is Satan's falsehood to cause man to neglect salvation in this "accepted time," beyond which he knows there is no escape. "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?" "To-day if ye will hear his voice harden not your hearts."
The apostle Paul says, "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men." Titus 2:11. It "hath appeared." This is the time when salvation has appeared unto all men, and all men must accept it in this time or lose it forever. In Titus 3:5, Eph. 2:5, Rom. 6:22, Jude 1, 1 Cor. 1:2, and many other texts, salvation is spoken of as having been received. Beyond controversy salvation is a present attainment.
Salvation By Grace And Not By Works.
Salvation from sin is by the grace of God. The word "grace" is defined by lexicographers as favor or mercy. Grace is a characteristic in the nature of God which offers mercy or favor though wholly unmerited by the recipient. Man is an offender against God. Through repentance he finds favor or grace in God's sight without any worthiness, excellence or meritoriousness in himself, but because of the merciful nature of the Lord. "For by grace are ye saved through faith." Eph. 2:8. "By grace ye are saved." Ver. 5. "Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." 2 Tim. 1:9. "Being justified freely by his grace." Rom. 3:24.
If man could attain to salvation by works, then he could plead his own merits; but we are taught that we can only plead the mercy of God. The apostle says that salvation is "not of works, lest any man should boast." Eph. 2:9. If it were by works man would have some cause for boasting; but because it is wholly by grace, he has nothing of self in which to boast. Again he says, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." Titus 3:5.
There is no weakness nor incompleteness in God's salvation. It saves to "the uttermost." Heb. 7:25. Salvation is so complete that man requires no additional cleansing or purifying to fit him for heaven.
The salvation to which the apostle had attained made him "ready to be offered." There is no cleansing beyond the gates of death, but in this life we are commanded to make ready. "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." This text proves the efficacy of the blood or the completeness of salvation.
Also the following texts magnify the preciousness and perfectness of redemption: "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you." Ezek. 36:25. "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." Psa. 51:7. "Ye are complete in him." Col. 2:10. "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." 1 John 1:7. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9. It is sin that excludes us from heaven. It is salvation that saves us from sin, therefore we, when saved, are ready for that better land.
There are a few texts of Scripture which teach a salvation yet in the future. "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved." Mat. 10:22. "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Phil. 2:12. These texts do not prove that there is no salvation only at the end of human life, else what could be the meaning of the many texts that speak of a present salvation? These two texts are very easily harmonized with those teaching a present experience of saving grace.
As long as we are in this world it is possible for us to lose our salvation. Though we are now saved from sin by grace it is possible for us to be overtaken in some way and lose this experience. As long as we are here we must endure temptation. But if we endure unto the end when this mortality puts on immortality we pass beyond the possibility of losing salvation, hence, we are saved eternally. By resisting temptation, by praying and watching, we "work out our salvation." The time comes when there are no more temptations to resist, and we are safe and saved forever.
I am saved now from all sin, but to keep this experience I must watch, pray, work, resist and endure unto the end of my life, and then my salvation receives the seal of eternity—saved in glory forever. Amen.
Wonders Of Salvation.
When man the wonders of creation Beholds in deepest contemplation, Adores not the Almighty One, Must have indeed a heart of stone.
Thou mortal! seest not the sun His daily course so proudly run? The moon in her nocturnal race, With sweet and tender, smiling face? The stars in pale but beauteous light, Twinkling, shining all the night? Stupendous ocean, wild and free, Bold image of eternity? The mountain cliff that checks the storm, And sheds its tears on valley farm? Poor soul twice dead indeed must be, And plucked up like uprooted tree, Or dulled by sensuality, Or lured by prodigality, Which does not bound with admiration, Or feel a warmth of true devotion Upon beholding this creation.
All nature smiling sweet and tender, Sun, moon and stars in wondrous splendor, And mortal man, a bit of sod, Reveals the handiwork of God. Howe'er there is one work divine, Excels all others of my rhyme, The making of a world like this, Sent circling through so vast a space; Bright worlds above in glory streaming, Can not compare with this remaining. It claims all Heaven's admiration, It moves all Hell to disputation, Excels the glorious translation Of Enoch from his brief probation To higher plane of situation. All that's been done in whole creation Is naught, compared with man's salvation; Saved from the scarlet stains of sin, By power of God been born again; Then by the Holy Spirit's power Made pure in instantaneous hour.
Oh, new and wonderful creation, Exceeds by far the old formation; Sun, moon and stars and mountain's plane, The dark and deep blue ocean's main, Do not God's power so much display As when he takes man's sins away. Old things are gone, all things are new, All heaven by faith is now in view; And peace, sweet peace fills all the soul, And rest, though stormy billows roll; Such is man's happy situation In this most wonderful salvation.
Chapter V. The Way From Sin To Perfect Salvation.
We have learned that sin entered this world and that all mankind have sinned. We have also learned that Jesus came to save man from his sins. Now the question may arise in the mind of some, what must I do to be saved? We hope in this chapter to quote such scriptures as will plainly teach you the way of salvation, or how to be fully saved, and also the scriptures describing each experience.
The first step for the sinner is to repent. When on Pentecost men were pricked in their hearts and cried, "What shall we do?" Peter answered, "Repent." It is in accordance with God's plan of redemption, also with nature and reason, that man should repent of his sins in order to receive pardon. Repentance was the theme on which John preached in the wilderness of Judea. It seems also to have been the first subject on which the Lord preached. Mark 1:15. It is the will of God that men should repent of their sins. "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." 2 Pet. 3:9. It is here implied if man does not repent he shall perish. Jesus says, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish," even as did those whose blood Pilate mingled with their sacrifices, and those eighteen on whom the tower of Siloam fell.
The first round in the ladder that reaches to eternal rest is repentance. If man never takes this step upon the way he can never reach that happy end. Because repentance includes so much, many men would gladly overstep this first round and begin their Christian life on some round higher up. This they can not do; they must take this first step, or perish. And should they strive to climb up some other way they are dishonest, and the Savior calls them "thieves and robbers."
When the Pharisees and Sadducees came to the baptism of John he said unto them, "Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance." Mat. 3:8. There are fruits of repentance. The tree is known by its fruits. When man really repents of his sins, by his fruits or manner of life it will be made known. One of the fruits of repentance is sorrow. We might have said that repentance is sorrow, for "godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of; but the sorrow of the world worketh death."
A well known politician became an embezzler of the county fund, and was sentenced to a few years in the state's prison. After having received his sentence he, in the sheriff's charge, passed out of the court-room, and with tears flowing from his eyes said, "My reputation is gone forever." That was a sorrow of the world and is not the way to salvation. Had the tears been flowing because he had sinned against God, who loved him, it would have been sorrow that "worketh repentance."
The apostle says in 2 Cor. 7:11, "Behold this self-same thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge!" These are the fruits of repentance. The first here mentioned is "carefulness." The impenitent lives a reckless, careless life; but a watchfulness comes into the heart of the penitent. He becomes mindful of his acts and carefully avoids the ways of sin. He turns away from sin. Oh, what carefulness it works in him. He complies with the commandment of God, "Let the wicked forsake his way." The marginal reading of Mat. 3:8 is "bring forth fruit answerable to the amendment of life." The penitent carefully turns away from sin, and there is therefore an amendment of life.
The second fruit of repentance mentioned in 2 Cor. 7:11 is "clearing of yourselves." Men usually in their sinful life do many a wrong deed. When they have a godly sorrow they are very willing to do all they can to "clear away," or right the wrongs they have done. For instance, a man has in conversation with one neighbor spoken evil of another neighbor and injured his character. When he repents of his sins he will acknowledge to his neighbor that he spoke falsely, and will do what he can to repair the injury he has done. Debts he has long neglected he will pay when he repents of his sins, if it is possible. Wherein he has stolen or defrauded in any way he will restore as far as he is able. Zacchaeus, when he came down from the sycamore tree, had a penitent heart, and said: "The half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold." Luke 19:8. God does not command a fourfold restoration, but he does demand a restoring of an equal amount of what has been taken. If the penitent is unable to do this he can, no doubt, make confession, and promise to restore as soon as possible.
It is very consistent and reasonable that God makes such demands of the penitent. No man can rightly object to such requirements. It establishes confidence in the hearts of unbelievers. They see a beauty in the Christian religion. It not only saves a man from doing wrong deeds in his future life, but calls upon him to repair as far as possible the wrongs and injuries he has done in his past life. In talking about two of the leading members of a certain religious denomination an unbeliever recently remarked: "If these men would pay me what they owe me I would have more confidence in Christianity." We saw then how consistent it was that God requires man to correct his past life as far as he can. It forces confidence in the hearts of the unsaved and gains their attention. This is the "clearing of yourselves."
The penitent gladly turns away or forsakes his evil ways. He abhors sin. Ah, what "vehement desire" to be free; what zeal! He gladly does all he can to repair the injuries he has done. When he has defrauded man of money he will confess it and restore it. When he has contracted debts and long neglected them he will confess his negligence and strive to pay them. Where he has misrepresented any one and thereby done him an injury he will make confession. And wherein man has wronged him and he has hatred in his heart against him, he will freely forgive. Jesus says, "If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Mat. 6:15.
When the penitent has met all the requirements of the Scriptures, and confesses all to God, he has promised to forgive him. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins." 1 John 1:9. After the forsaking of sins and the restitution of wrongs and the forgiveness of injuries, and confession to God, there remains yet for man to
A prison-keeper inquired of Paul and Silas: "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" And they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." Acts 16:30, 31. At this point Satan has succeeded in confusing many an honest soul. They have forsaken all to follow Jesus, but have not that perfect confidence that God forgives and accepts them. Satan will allow them to believe that God will save them in some future time, but struggles hard to prevent their believing that Jesus saves them now. The apostle says, "By grace are ye saved through faith." Eph. 2:8. "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." 1 John 5:1. "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." John 1:12. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God." Rom. 5:1. It is not by enthusiasm or excitement that we are saved, but "by grace through faith."
Jesus on one occasion said, "Which of you intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it." Luke 14:28. He uses this illustration to teach us the manner in which we should come to him. The cost is "a death to sin and the world." The prize is heaven and eternal glory. When you have carefully counted the cost and deliberately decided in your soul to follow Jesus, then believe on his name, "and thou shalt be saved."
The term justification is used both in the Old Testament and the New. There is a difference between the justification under the law and the justification by grace. The one was obtained by the blood of animals and the other by the blood of Jesus. Since we are writing upon the glorious themes of the New Testament we shall say but little of the justification by the sacrifices of animals.
Justification implies a forgiveness of sins. The sense of guilt resulting from a transgression of God's law is removed. The justified therefore experience a safety, a peace and rest. Fears and uncertainties are banished, and the soul is filled with confidence and hope. "Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God." Rom. 5:1. Peace is the natural result of justification. It is sin that destroys the happiness of man. Before sin entered into this world man lived in a delightful Eden. His heart was open and frank before God, and he rejoiced in his presence. Sin brought a sense of shame and guilt, and he hid from the presence of God. All men admire the innocency of childhood. The peaceful countenance of an infant, its freedom from care, anxieties and unrest but remind us of the peacefulness of pardon.
There was a justification by the law, but the law day has passed away. We have come to the gospel day in which no flesh shall be justified by the works of the law, but by "the faith of Jesus Christ." Gal. 2:16; 3:11. The Bible promises nothing more in justification than a full pardon of all transgression and restoration to childhood innocency. "And Jesus called a little child unto him and set him in the midst of them and said, Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Mat. 18:2, 3. A justified man is as innocent and free from transgression as a little child. Is it not a just cause of surprise that men will teach the forgiveness of sins necessary to the experience of justification, and yet teach that the justified commit sin? "O Consistency, thou art a jewel."
It occurs to our mind that if men would use consideration, mingled with reason and judgment, they would see the inconsistency of the above teaching. Should a man who had used abusive language to you come and penitently ask your forgiveness, you would forgive, but that does not give him liberty to continue his abuse. When the penitent comes to God he will pardon, but this does not give him liberty to continue in sin. God created man with an intelligence, a reason and common sense. The ravages of sin have greatly impaired these qualities of the mind that believes that justification necessitates a forgiveness of sins, yet the experience can be retained while committing sin. A sound writer has said, "Common sense is a quality of mind not so common as the words imply. Many claim it who have no right to its possession. It is a high standard of mental worth. The brain coin that bears its imprint has a par value wherever man is governed by pure reason." No true Christian believes he can live in sin and be a Christian. Even those who are governed by pure reason do not believe such. By the blood of Jesus "all that believe are justified from all things." Acts 13:39.
Justification by grace through faith in Jesus does not end with a forgiveness of past transgressions only, but includes the impartation of the divine, or eternal life to the soul. The blood of animals offered for sins in the Jewish economy was unable to impart this life to the offerer of the sacrifice. Jesus says, "I am come that ye might have life." "Whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." "He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." "God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son."
The process by which man enters the natural life is termed a birth or generation. The process by which man enters the spiritual life is expressed by the words, "being born again," or "regeneration." With the words "being born again" we naturally associate life. When Nicodemus heard the words he thought the process of bringing into physical life was to be repeated. The Savior told him, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." John 3:6. In life there is activity and power. Not only are the transgressions forgiven, but by regeneration life and power come into the soul, which gives man strength to resist sin. The Israelite only hoped for a forgiveness of his past sin through his offering. That beautiful hope of constant victory over sin was not his to enjoy. He knew the power of sin and the weakness of his offering; consequently he expected naught else but to offer his sacrifices over and over, day by day, and year by year continually. He who to-day comes to God pleading for forgiveness of his sins through the offering of the eternal Son and expects to still continue in sin enjoys no better hope than a Jew. He dishonors the great sacrifice of God's Son by counting it no more than the sacrifice of animals.
In regeneration the holy, pure, divine life comes into the soul. Man passes from "death unto life." The dominion of sin has come to an end. Sin is dethroned and its kingdom destroyed. Regenerated man is crowned a king. The royal robes of white enshroud him. The scepter of righteousness he sways triumphantly and reigns a mighty conqueror, "a king and priest unto God." Praise and honor to his name!
This new life within man's soul finds expression in a new life without. Since the new life within is holy and pure the new life without is holy and pure. "Make the inside of the cup and platter clean and the outside will be clean also." The apostle John tells us the manner of life that follows "being born again." "We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not, but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not." 1 John 5:18. "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him: and he can not sin, because he is born of God." 1 John 3:9. This text does not teach the impossibility of committing sin as some have supposed, but the impossibility of committing sin and retaining the spiritual birth. In 1 John 2:29 we are clearly taught that righteousness of life succeeds the regeneration of man. Sin belongs only to Satan and sinners. It is not found in the life of God, nor of the angels, nor of Christ, nor of the Christians.