"Behold, ye despisers, and wonder and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you."—Acts 13:41.
We make general answer again, that since the Scriptures teach that we are already in the "harvest,"—the lapping time during which the Gospel age closes and the Millennial age dawns, we should expect to see just what we do see,—beginnings of great changes. And not only do we see political, social and ecclesiastical changes in progress, but, as we should expect, we see also beginnings of personal, physical restitution here and there. These great changes are stealing along so quietly as not to attract much attention or occasion great surprise, just as inventions and general knowledge are spreading gradually. This is God's usual method of operation: He is thus preparing the world in some measure for the wonderful manifestations of his power in the near future, both in the restoring of health to the sick and life to the dead,—the great work of Restitution of that which was lost. Thus the new dispensation is gradually ushering in as the dawning day.
Accordingly just as the troubles of this Day of the Lord break out here and there and in intermitting paroxysms, but gradually and to the unobservant imperceptibly increasing in earnestness and bitterness with each spasm, so with the marks of physical healing: they come in a variety of ways, here and there a number and then a subsiding, a lull in which there will be none, but all the while gradually becoming more common, and from a greater variety of sources and seeming causes.
But, one inquires, Is not this the "gift" of healing mentioned by the Apostle in 1 Cor. 12:28,30 ? And has not this gift been in the possession of the church ever since Pentecost? No; the gift of healing possessed by some members of the early church was totally different from the healings of to-day. The apostles in exercising this gift did not practice "mental healing," nor even "prayer healing."
Take as an illustration the case of the lame man healed by Peter and John as related in Acts 3:1-11. Peter and John did not kneel down and pray with the man, nor did they get him to fix his attention as "mind-healers" would; they gave him no medicine and used no oil, nor did they even require the man to believe in Jesus first, nor to have faith in their power to heal him. But while he looked at the apostles expecting to receive some money, Peter took him by the hand and lifted him up saying, "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk." And immediately his feet and ancle bones received strength, and he leaping up, stood and walked. This is an illustration of the use of the gift of healing, and there are many more such recorded. (See, Acts 9:34; 14:10; 16:18; 19:12.) And we do not think that after a careful scrutiny of the subject, any one to-day will claim to possess this gift. Those gifts described by Paul were merely to the early church, as a means for its introduction to the attention of both Jews and Gentiles and also as a means for edification and instruction to the church itself. For this last named reason one or more gifts were bestowed upon each one who associated with the church, (1 Cor. 12:7,11; 14:26), being conferred by the laying on of the hands of the Apostles, to all who confessed Christ by immersion. Thus it was that these gifts became a token or sign of the possession of the holy Spirit. Yet the gifts of the Spirit and the Spirit itself are separate and distinct. To-day we possess the spirit, but certainly not all of those miraculous gifts. And even then some had gifts of the spirit who were evidently far from being filled with the spirit. That one might have those gifts and yet be "nothing" and as sounding brass and tinkling cymbals, devoid of love, and hence without Christ's Spirit, the Apostle clearly shows in 1 Cor. 13:1-3.
The power of conferring those gifts rested in the apostles, and in them only: none others in their day or since, have been able to confer those gifts which Paul describes; hence they did "vanish away" when the apostles died. By that time the church was brought prominently before the attention of the world, and therefore those miraculous gifts were not necessary for that purpose; and by that time too they began to have the New Testament and parts of the Old Testament in the possession of each congregation, so that coming together they could edify and instruct and build one another up with the truth from those inspired sources, and did not longer require the miraculous gifts as a means for their edification and instruction as at first.
That only the Apostles could confer these gifts is proved: first, by the fact that the claimed successors of the apostles cannot communicate them since, and second, by the cases recorded which show that none except the apostles ever did have the power to bestow those gifts. Notice in proof of this, that though one, Philip, possessed gifts and preached and baptized, yet he was not able to bestow the gifts upon others, and the Apostles Peter and John came from Jerusalem for the purpose. (Acts 8:13-19.) Simon Magus, though one of the baptized, and evidently one of those granted a gift, had no power to bestow gifts upon others. It was this apostolic privilege, of bestowing these gifts upon others, which Simon wanted to purchase with money.
Instead of miraculously receiving gifts as at first, we now grow the fruits of the spirit, of which are meekness, gentleness, patience, moderation, brotherly kindness, charity, etc. These fruits may really be counted as gifts or acquirements also, though they come to us in a different way. Hence we find too, that though Paul calls these graces gifts in one place, he calls them fruits elsewhere. (Compare Gal. 5:22; 1 Cor. 13:1-8. In Eph. 5:9, these are called fruits of the light. See readings of old MSS.) Under God's present dealing, all the needs of the church are none the less provided for than when the gifts were bestowed, as at first, in a miraculous manner, by the laying on of the Apostles' hands. Now we find that the Spirit of truth is pleased to mould and fashion and use every consecrated one by utilizing their natural talents and advantages of education, language, etc., in teaching, edifying and nourishing the true church which is the body of Christ.
Ah! says one, you seem to take no notice of that remarkable passage so frequently quoted by our Faith Cure friends—Mark 16:17-19—"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."
We have two criticisms to offer concerning this passage. First, it is not proved true either by observation or history. Second, the oldest and most authentic Greek Manuscripts (the Sinaitic and Vatican MSS.) do not contain these verses at all, but end at verse 8. Of one thing we are confident,—these signs did not extend beyond the Apostles' days and the time of the miraculous gifts. Even then, we have no record of all these things being true of all that believed. It seems evident that Mark's gospel was originally incomplete and that someone undertook to finish it for him about the fourth century; for the Alexandrine MS., written in the fifth century, is the oldest of those which contain the last twelve verses.
But says one, even setting aside the statement of Mark 16:17,18 and all claim to possessing the "gifts" of the early church, did not our Lord's promises regarding the answering of our prayers cover the entire ground, and make possible the healing of the sick or even the moving of mountains during the entire age, and is it not because of lack of faith that these things have not been more common in the past? And is it not because of increased faith rather than because of the dawning of the Millennium that the healing of the sick is now becoming more frequent?
Our answer to both of the questions is, No: a great misunderstanding prevails concerning our privileges in prayer. And it is because of this misunderstanding concerning what we may ask, and who may ask, and not because of any unfaithfulness to his promise on our Lord's part, that so many thousands of prayers offered daily, go unanswered.
With the statement, "Ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you" certain conditions and limitations will be found in the sentence preceding, which reads: "If ye abide in me and my words abide in you." These limitations are wonderfully comprehensive: they show who may ask—ye, believers, who are in me, whose wills are buried or immersed into the will of your Head, Christ Jesus, as shown in May TOWER; and not only so, but, ye are privileged to ask thus, only so long as ye "abide in me;"—if any man abide not, he is not only "cast forth" (John 15:6), but he has no longer a share in the promise of having his petitions granted. These limitations evidently cut off from all share in this promise the vast majority of the prayers offered. And as we continue to scrutinize the Master's words we find still further limitations [R1048 : page 2] which cut off many other prayers, even of those offered by the class abiding in Christ. We refer to the condition, If "my words abide in you."
Alas! that we must write it—There are few among God's professed children, very few even among those who profess to be entirely consecrated and abiding in him, who have His Word abiding richly and fully in them.
The significance and intent of this last specification or limitation is this: In going to God to ask for anything we should realize his omniscience and wisdom, and that he is ordering and operating the general affairs according to a perfect and orderly plan—His Plan of the Ages; and we should recognize our own finiteness, our lack of such wisdom and appreciation of surroundings, etc., as would enable us to rule creation, if God were to give it over into our control. All true children of God who are not the merest "babes" realize this, and sensible ones would shrink from so grave a responsibility and cry, "Not so, O Lord," if God should say without limitation, Ask what you will, your will not mine shall be done in heaven and on earth,—all shall be ordered and done according to your prayers and according to your plans. As for the Lord's promise that if we had faith we might command a mountain to remove and it would obey us, we reason thus: This, like the other promises, was given only to such as abide in him and have his words abiding in them. And it is merely given as an extreme illustration: If an emergency should occur so great as to necessitate the removal of a mountain, either literal or figurative, and we were sure it were the will of God we might ask and receive.
But we need not speculate about how the mountains and lakes, seas and clouds, and rain and sunshine would move promiscuously about, and interfere with one another, if all the prayers offered heavenward in Christ's name were answered. God is not devoting himself to the answering of such prayers; but ignoring them, he is working out gradually his own grand plan, predetermined before the foundation of the world; and he assures us that notwithstanding the prayers of those who do not search his Word to know what his plan is, but who pray to him to carry out their plans and schemes, yet nevertheless "All his purposes shall be accomplished." And though few even of his children respect his Word or seek to learn from it His plan,—content rather to follow the plans and theories of men as laid down in creeds and confessions and voiced by councils and human standards, nevertheless in the end God's Word shall not return to Him void, but shall accomplish that which he intended, and prosper in the thing whereunto it was sent.—Isa. 55:11.
No, thank God, he has not left his plan, even in spiritual matters, subject to the prayers of his sectarian prejudice-blinded children, else each would want the whole world moulded to his own ideal whether that were Methodism, Mohammedanism, Presbyterianism, Brahmanism, or what not; and all the various errors would flourish. Of one thing we are sure,—that if some of the prayers of zealous but blinded children of God were answered ZION'S WATCH TOWER and MILLENNIAL DAWN would have been financially swamped long ago, and the writer of this for his endeavor to serve the truth and let the true light of God's Word shine out, would not only have been stoned to death (as one of the blind guides of this city publicly expressed it), but consigned ere this to everlasting woe. Yes, we may thank God that he does not answer most of the prayers.
There was then, we see, a special and very particular reason for the close and searching limitations which our Redeemer placed about the promise that the Father would grant our requests. The import of his words, as we study them and grasp their meaning, appears to be this:—
If you abide in me, entirely subject to my will and plan, even as I abide in the Father's love, and seek not to do mine own will but the will of him that sent me,—if thus my will is your choice and your own wills are buried and ignored, then you will seek earnestly to know what the Father's will is, which you know I am seeking to accomplish, that you may use your time, talents, prayers and all in that same direction, toward the same end. And if you have this heartfelt desire to know the will of God you will remember how I studied his plan as revealed in the Law, in the Psalms and in the Prophets, and how I endeavored to carry out that and not plans of my own making or choosing.
Then, you will remember how I pointed out to you how "Thus it is written and thus it behooveth us to fulfill all that is written" and how I told you to "search the Scriptures." Following in this course the holy Spirit will guide you, as it has me, into an understanding of more and more of the divine plan as it becomes due. And if this be your attitude, if your hearts and energies are thus absorbed in the Father's plan, you may ask all the desires of your hearts—"Ye may ask what ye will." I make you this liberal promise not by way of intimating to you that the Father would change his plans to yours, and do your will, but as intimating to you that, in the course I have specified, you can come so fully into sympathy with the Father and the plan of the ages which he is working out, that you will never be dissatisfied, but always able to see your wishes accomplishing; because your will and wish, your pleasure and satisfaction, will be to see God's will and plan progressing in God's own way and time. Thus your every prayer and every wish of your hearts will be accomplished—the very reverse of the experience of those who seek to do their own wills and carry out human plans, and pray for their own desires; for they are ever meeting with disappointments.
Settle it therefore in your hearts and have no fear for the results, no matter how dark may be the storm, or how sharp the persecution, God's will shall not miscarry, and thus your will and your plans (which are his) cannot fail; and your prayers in that interest will always be heard and will be answered so far as they are correct or would not conflict with the Father's plan. And you, if perfectly in harmony with the Father, should desire to have it so. And in any case, where there is the slightest room to question his will in the matter, having my spirit or disposition, and not the spirit of the world, you will pray as I have done in your hearing, saying in connection with your petition,—"Nevertheless not my will, but thine, Father, be done." All such prayers are sure to be answered and in proportion as you come closer and closer into harmony with the Father's plan, and understand it, you will be less likely to ask or desire anything not his good pleasure to grant.
As you come to see the bountifulness of the Father's provisions, and the wisdom and care exercised by him touching your earthly interests; as you come to realize that He who has clothed the lilies of the field with beauty, and who provides food for the sparrows, loves and cares much more for you than for them, and knoweth better than you what things you have need of,—what would strengthen and benefit, and what might injure you, as runners in the race for the great prize he has offered through Christ—as you realize these things your prayers for temporal things must become very few and very moderate. Indeed you will by and by, as you realize his wisdom and care, cease to ask anything earthly, and merely crave the spiritual gifts, graces, fruits and blessings, singing in your hearts
Thus we see dear brethren and sisters, that properly instructed, we would be relieved of all care [worry] concerning those earthly things which constitute the burden of so many prayers. Leaving those things to our Father's wisdom and love, our prayers would be more in the nature of thank-offerings, our hearts going out toward God in worship and adoration and in recounting the blessings and favors we already enjoy, rather than as ill-mannered greedy children selfishly crying, "Give, give, give."
True, earthly affairs sometimes perplex us, and we cannot help wondering and feeling a deep interest often as to how they will result. But the soul that abides in Christ, and in which his words abide, would not dare take the helm into his own hands to steer his own course, even where he thinks he can see; but laboring still at the oar, pulling as best he can in the right direction, he leaves the helm in the Father's hands and could not ask to have the course changed in any degree.
But, may we not in all our trials and perplexities take them to the Lord in prayer? Yes, yes; truly we can. And no comfort will be greater to the perplexed or sorrowing than the privilege of telling all to the Lord. His ear will be ever open, and the very telling of them to him and the realization of his interest in all our affairs will refresh and cheer us. It will bring to remembrance his promises to never leave nor forsake us, and of his wisdom and love and ability to cause all things, favorable and unfavorable, to work together for our good. And without having asked anything except that according to his promise this and all things should be overruled for good, and to his praise, we may arise from our knees far stronger, far happier, and far more confident as well as in closer fellowship and communion with the Master, than if we had attempted to order our affairs and to get the great Jehovah to become our servant to execute our plans, which doubtless often are foolish in his sight, and would if permitted, work injuriously to us or to others.
Death is not a natural, normal, necessary thing, as most people suppose. It is not a step in a process of evolution to a higher state of existence, but on the contrary it is a catastrophe—a calamity—a penalty for sin. God indeed shows us that his wisdom is sufficient to enable Him to bring a good lesson out of the evil thing, but it is nevertheless an evil, an enemy, an awful thing; as truly so as is sin, which God also promises that his wisdom shall yet cause to work out a result the very opposite of its natural course and action. This fact, that death is a penalty, we shall not discuss here, but merely refer the reader to Paul's statements in Rom. 5:12-20.
As death is a curse and penalty, so is sickness; for sickness is the death-poison working in our systems. All sickness is part of the dying process, and hence it is as foreign to man's natural, normal condition as designed by God, as is death itself. As death is a mark of sin, and would not have come except as a penalty of sin, so sickness is a mark or brand of sin.
So it was that our Lord, who came to ransom the race of sinners, being free from sin was free also from pain and sickness and death: so that whatever he experienced of these had to be by his own consent—a sacrifice on our behalf. The penalty of our sins was the death, the sickness and pain being only incidentals; hence our redemption price was fully paid by our Lord's death, and not by anything done during his three and a half years of ministry. But, it pleased Jehovah to bruise him [to allow him to have an experience with pain and sorrow, etc.], as well as to make his soul [being, existence] an offering for sin. (Isa. 53:10.) And since he could not suffer pain and sickness because of sin, having none, he was placed for a time among sinners, where his full, generous, loving sympathy for the poor and sick and miserable, would lead him to spend for others his own vital energy. And as "virtue [vitality—healing vigor] went out of him" to the sick (Luke 6:19 and 8:46) so their weaknesses and pains, bore down upon him. And it was in this way that "himself took our infirmities and bear our sickness" (Matt. 8:17; Isa. 53:4,5); and thus He was touched with a feeling of our infirmities and is able perfectly to sympathize as a great High Priest,—now on behalf of the church or under-priesthood, and by and by, in the Millennial day of trial and blessing, on behalf of "all the people." And as it pleased the Father that the High Priest should taste of the sinners' cup, so we may reasonably read his will relative to all the members of the Royal Priesthood to be, that they also should drink of the cup of suffering and be immersed in the baptism of death with their Lord and Leader, in this course to divine glory and power.
Thus reading the Father's plans for ourselves, in the light of his will exemplified in his dealings with our Master, we may settle it at once that it is not his will to keep us from all pain and trial and sufferings, and to carry us triumphantly to glory on flowery beds of ease. Quite the reverse indeed must be our course if we would follow in the footsteps of him whom God set forth to be not only a satisfaction for the sins of the whole world, but also to be a pattern and example to the church which is his body. And this much learned of God's plan and will, promptly teaches us that we must not expect, and should not ask perfect freedom from pain and trouble.
But some will ask: Did you not say that sickness is a mark of sin, and that Christ died for our sins, and is it not your claim that whosoever believeth in him and accepts of his ransom work, is freed or justified from all sin? And this being the case, ought not such to be free both from sin's penalty, death, and from all its attendant evils, such as pain and sickness?
Yes, that reasoning is good, but you do not take all the circumstances into account; you have left out an important part, namely this: It is the Father's plan that the sufferings and death of the Redeemer should be followed by the suffering and death of every member of his "body" or church, before the Restitution age should be ushered in, to heal the morally and physically sick and blind and lame, to restore all who will to perfect life and every blessing lost in Eden by Adam, and [R1048 : page 3] redeemed at Calvary by our great High Priest's sacrifice—once for all. The Plan of the Ages needs to be recognized, if we would avoid the error of so many, in striving for the glory in the time appointed for trial and suffering with Christ. When the sufferings of the body of Christ are ended, their glory we are assured will follow (1 Pet. 1:11); and the world's restitution and the blotting out of their sins through faith in the Redeemer's work, will then ensue (Acts 3:19-21); and thus in God's due time and order will be brought about the wiping away of all tears when the former things of sin, sorrow, pain and death, shall have passed away. See the beautiful picture of this in Rev. 21:4.
There were several reasons why they were granted the gift of healing, as well as other gifts, not granted now as we have showed. One reason was the necessity of such miracles to introduce Christianity to the attention of the people. Our Lord mentioned his miracles to John the Baptist as a proof of his Messiahship. Messiah was to heal the sick, cause the blind to see and the deaf to hear (Isa. 29:18; 35:1-6; 42:6,7), consequently our Lord must do these things and in a measure begin the work of restitution before Israel could be charged with the responsibility of rejecting him. But when they as a nation rejected him as God had foreseen (Zech. 9:9; Matt. 21:5); then they were rejected from the position offered them as the Royal Priesthood and Seed of promise. And there, as God had foretold, the gospel was sent to the Gentiles to complete from them the Seed, the "body" of Christ, the Royal Priesthood: and the restitution work which had a beginning in our Lord's ministry was deferred until the true Israel should be complete, when the Messiah shall come a second time and accomplish fully all those glorious features of the divine plan foretold by the holy prophets and foreshadowed by his miracles at the first advent.
That our Lord's restoring work at the first advent—the healing of some of the sick and the awakening of a few of the dead of Israel, shadowed forth the greater work to be accomplished at his second presence, during the Millennium, seems clear. Had God designed a general healing of all the sick, even among the people of Palestine, it could have been done by wholesale instead of in exceptional cases here and there; for undoubtedly many died during Jesus' ministry besides Lazarus, the son of the widow of Nain, and Jairus' daughter; and there were many more lame and palsied, and leprous and blind, than those then healed.
His object in doing the miracles, is explained by the statement, "These things did Jesus and manifested forth [showed beforehand] HIS GLORY—the coming glory of the Millennial age. And it was of that coming glory, and not of anything which has taken place amongst his disciples since, that he said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto my Father." (John 14:12.) His redemption work at Calvary and his subsequent presentation of it to the Father as a propitiation [satisfaction] for the sins of the whole world, was the basis for all the great works of restitution in which we shall be engaged with him in the Times of Restitution—which will indeed be far greater than anything done by our Lord at the first advent; for the awakening of the dead and healing of the sick was only partial then,—as nothing compared to the full health and vigor of perfect and everlasting life and all that was lost in Adam, which will be offered to all during the Millennium.
The thought we wish to enforce is, that God not only had a due time for REDEEMING the world from sin, but that he has also a due time for restoring the sick and the dead. And, whatever work of this sort takes place before the due and appointed time, must be for some special object and reason, as shown in our Lord's ministry, and in that of the church in the days of the apostles. Just so it was in the redeeming of the world, typical sacrifices were permitted and were allowed to stand good for temporary, typical justification, but those were not the real sacrifices for sin, and never actually put away sins. As God deferred the redemption of our race until his due time, and in the fullness of time sent forth his Son to redeem us, so, in the matter of healings, though it has pleased God to make exceptions in the past for the purposes mentioned, let us not forget that those were exceptions and that his appointed time for restitution is the Millennial age. Seeing this to be God's plan, and realizing that his plan is wisest and best, we must restrain ourselves and neither desire nor ask restitution work before restitution times—except we see cases and reasons why it would be the Father's will and to his glory to make exceptions to his general rule and arrangement.
In this connection notice specially that the privilege of prayer, or any other favor of God, is not for selfish purposes. Therefore, before asking anything of the Father, one question should be carefully considered, viz.—Why do I want this? because a thing which might be right in one case, might be wrong if asked from some other motive. To desire and ask for something good in itself, in order that we might be glorified before our fellows, would be a wrong request; because of a wrong motive. To desire a good thing simply for ease and convenience, would be an improper selfish motive. The Apostle speaks of some such, saying, "Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss, to consume it upon your desires"—i.e., for selfish or vain-glorious purposes or selfish reasons. To ask for some good thing simply to make a test of it, thereby to establish our faith, would be an improper request, for none but the faith- full have a right to ask anything. Besides, God's plan is that we should walk by faith and not by sight. Hence, we not only should not ask much, except spiritual favors, but even in asking for these we should be particular not to specify how they are to come. And we should look for the answers to our prayers in natural rather than supernatural channels, since God's usual method is to use supernatural means only where the natural means are inadequate.
If, therefore, the consecrated ones would ask for the healing of sickness, it should not be for our own glory, nor for our own comfort, nor for ourselves, for these would be selfish requests. Remember the course of our Lord and the Apostles. Our Lord used divine power in feeding the multitude because of their necessity and to glorify the Father; but when he himself was forty days without food he would not use the same power to feed himself, by commanding the stones to become bread, because this would have been contrary to his mission; for he came not to serve himself but others; not to preserve his own life, but to lay it down in the service of others. He healed the lame and the palsied miraculously when it would glorify God, but when he himself was weary, he sat on the well to rest, or used other natural means. Though he prayed often to the Father, and knew that he was heard always, though sometimes heavy and sorrowful, as in Gethsemane, yet his prayers were only requests for grace and strength to do the Father's will, and to finish the work he had come to do. And though as he tells us he could by asking have had "twelve legions of angels" to protect his person and his life, yet he would not ask—preferring to have the Father's will accomplished. So notably was this a characteristic of our Lord, that even his enemies noticed it, and said, "He saved others [from sickness, etc.], himself he cannot save." They could not appreciate the self -sacrifice which he was performing. And so we may reasonably expect too that the nominal Israelites to-day will not understand the same motives and conduct in those, who prefer to share in Christ's sufferings and to join with him in sacrifice, in order that they may share also in his coming glorious work of blessing and restoring to the world—"that which was lost."
Notice also the apostles. They too had the gift of healing as well as privileges of prayer, but they never used these for themselves. In all the records we find no instance of the exercise of the gift of healing on behalf of any of the apostles or any of the church; nor have we any record of prayer for health, or other earthly blessings, being offered by any of them for themselves or each other, except in one case—that of Paul (2 Cor. 12:7-9); and his request was not granted, but he was told that instead he should have a sufficiency of grace to compensate and enable him to bear it patiently. This should strike the attention of all.
Though Paul's request for himself was refused—God seeing that Paul's affliction of weak eyes could be made to work out to his glory and Paul's advantage—yet his gift to heal others was marvelous: "And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul, so that from his body were brought unto the sick, handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them." (Acts 19:12) Yet, mark the fact that though there is no account of the healing of the sick among the early disciples, it was not because they were not sick, for several instances of sickness are recorded. Paul writes to Timothy, "Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick;" and again he writes to Timothy, who was evidently often troubled with weak digestion or dyspepsia, to use wine as a medicine; saying, "Use no longer water [exclusively], but take a little wine for thy stomach's sake, and for thine often infirmities." (1 Tim. 5:23.) In neither of these cases did Paul send handkerchiefs or aprons from his person, nor does he mention either praying for their recovery, or advice to them to so pray. Evidently these cases should teach us that the gifts of healing, and prayer for the recovery of the sick were used, not upon the saints, but rather through them upon others, for the purpose of calling attention to the apostles and their teachings as being approved by God.
A special reason why the saints cannot properly ask for physical health and earthly blessings, we have already intimated is, that they like their Lord have consecrated themselves and pledged to God the exchange of all earthly favors and privileges for the heavenly favors and glories to come,—a foretaste of which we now enjoy in and through the exceeding great heavenly promises which cheer and refresh and comfort and bless more than earthly blessings could. Who, that understands the matter, would give up his heirship in the future heavenly glories together with present hopes in exchange for future earthly restitution, and present occasional droppings, foretastes of restitution?
We answer that while the Scriptures point out no cases of healing of saints, neither do they point out any cases in which sickness came except for a cause upon this class. Accidents may and do occur so far as the world is concerned, but the saints are God's peculiar care; nothing can come upon them except specially permitted. While God could take all the world under such special supervision, he pleases rather to let them be subject to the ordinary vicissitudes of the present condemned state—accidents, sickness, etc. Only the church, the consecrated, is comforted with the assurances of special care: "Your Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things" and, Like as a father pittieth his children, so the Lord pittieth those that respect and love him, consecrated to his service. Of such it is written, Not one hair of your heads could be injured without your Father's permission. (Matt. 6:31-34.) All the steps of the righteous are ordered of the Lord.
While therefore sickness may in a general way be considered at least indirectly the work of Satan who deceived mankind into sin, and hence into death whose servant sickness is, yet in view of what we see of God's special care of the saints, we know that, in their case at least, sickness could not come without the Father's special permission; and hence it should be regarded in their case as from Him, and not directly from Satan, who could have no power over us except it were given him of the Father.
We accordingly classify the causes of afflictions including sickness as follows,—but only as applicable to the consecrated church. First, those which have been either produced or aggravated by our activity in the Lord's service. Second, Such as come upon us as discipline or chastisement from the Lord for sins or wanderings or coldness, or for the sin of failing to fulfill our covenant of sacrifice; or as needed discipline to prevent these.
OF THE FIRST CLASS were the sufferings of Christ, his weariness, weakness, bloody sweat, ignominious buffetings, and all the reproaches and sneers, and bitter words to which he meekly and quietly submitted until the sufferings of Calvary terminated his human existence. Of this first class also were the wounds of Paul and Silas, when scourged for preaching Christ, when stoned, beaten and imprisoned, and when in perils by sea and by land, among the Jews and among false brethren. Of this class also was the dyspepsia of Timothy, who, probably not naturally strong, studied and labored for the Lord and in the interest of the church; and such we are distinctly told was the cause of the sickness of Epaphroditus, of whose sickness Paul writes saying, "Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: because for the work of Christ he was [R1048 : page 4] nigh unto death—not regarding [sparing] his life to supply your deficiency."—Phil. 2:29,30.
Yes indeed, these and all such sicknesses and scars and wounds are honorable marks of distinction, which each soldier of the cross should be ambitious to bear, as Paul said referring to injuries endured in the service of the truth, "I bear about in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." These he had received not in money or fame seeking, nor in self-indulgence, nor in quarreling and disputing about the loss and dross of earth, but in the good fight of faith; in contending earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, against error amongst Jewish friends, and against philosophies and sciences falsely so called. He endured his wounds and tribulations in telling the glad tidings of the gospel of Christ of which he was not ashamed, and holding forth the cross of Christ—to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greek's foolishness, but to them that believe the power of God and the wisdom of God.
All the "overcomers," all the faithful in Christ Jesus, are likely to have some such scars as proofs of their faithful endurance. There is no escape in this war. It is war to the death with all as well as with our Head and Captain, and the first loyal soldiers in our army. And it is in this view that Rev. 20:4 represents all those who shall be accounted worthy of the first resurrection, as being "beheaded." The beheading is symbolic; for neither our Lord nor the Apostles were literally beheaded. It signifies that all must suffer earthly disadvantages and lay down their lives in the defense and service of the truth, if they shall be worthy of that Millennial glory. Sickness and discomforts of any sort, incurred by our energy in the service of the truth are permitted by our Father as tests of our fidelity and love; because if not liable to such tribulations, or if relieved of them instantly by miracle, the Lord's service would cost us no sacrifice and the test of our willingness to endure for the truth's sake would be wanting. As it is, however, every ache and pain or wound of person or of feelings, and beheading socially or literally for the truth's sake, becomes a witness of the spirit, testifying to our faithfulness. And in all such tribulations we should rejoice greatly—as saith our Lord and the Apostle Peter.—Luke 6:22,23; 1 Pet. 4:13-16.
OF THE SECOND CLASS of sicknesses and afflictions are poverty, constitutional weaknesses, etc., which like Paul's sore eyes, the Heavenly Father sees will be really advantageous to us. For he doubtless often sees better than we how weak we are, and how a little more health and earthly prosperity might capsize our poorly balanced little vessels. These God sees best to leave us under, but assures us through Paul, of "grace sufficient" to counterbalance such weaknesses. A realization of such care for our real interests, while humiliating, in that it forces conviction of our weakness, is refreshing and inspiring, in that it proves our Father's love and care.
This second class, however, includes chiefly, such afflictions as God visits upon his children as special chastisements for special transgressions. These are mentioned in Heb. 12:5-11. "Son, despise not thou the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when thou art reproved by him; for whom the Lord loveth he disciplineth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure discipline, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father disciplineth not? But if ye be without discipline whereof all are partakers, then are ye spurious and not [real] sons....Now, no discipline for the present seemeth joyous, but grievous; nevertheless it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness unto them which are [properly] exercised [or trained] thereby." This description it will be observed covers not merely the reproofs or rebukes of the Lord (verse 5), of the unfaithful and wanderers and transgressors, but also the disciplinary trials which come to us in well doing, and are permitted for the developing and strengthening of character.
It is only the rebukes and reproofs of the Lord for sin and unfaithfulness, that we are examining in this second class of afflictions. We remark, too, that probably every son, except the one perfect one our Lord Jesus, has at times needed and received rebukes by afflictions, for unfaithfulness. And it is well that we should learn to recognize these rebukes and to wisely apply their lessons. Rightly dividing, we shall neither err with some in crediting every affliction to the devil—receiving none as rebukes from our Father, nor will we err on the other hand and suppose, every accident which occurs (including accidents, etc., to the world in general as well as to the church) to be a divine rebuke. We should see clearly that only the consecrated are under this special supervision of sons, which includes rebukes by the Lord for sins and short comings, as well as afflictions for well doing permitted to test and perfect us. If therefore the saints experience serious afflictions, they should at once examine themselves conscientiously before God, to see whether their afflictions arise in any sense from faithfulness to the Lord and the truth. If they find that they do, they should rejoice in them and wait patiently for recovery, which without our asking or expecting sometimes comes speedily.—Acts 14:19,20.
But if we see no evidence that our afflictions have resulted either directly or indirectly from our zeal in the Lord's service, we should at once seek for a cause of the affliction as a rebuke from the Lord, remembering that nothing could happen to us aside from our Father's permission, and that he never permits except for a purpose. Even our final sickness should be traceable (more or less directly) to our energy in the service of the truth.
Of these rebuking afflictions Paul wrote to the church at Corinth. (1 Cor. 11:21,22,27,29,30-34.) After recounting how careless and unappreciative of their covenant many of them were, failing to recognize their proper participation with Christ in being broken with him and sharing his cup of suffering for the truth's sake, he says: "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you and many sleep." The Corinthian church no doubt had failed to properly estimate sickness as the Lord's rebuke for unfaithfulness, and probably like many Christian people to-day thought all sickness to be persecution of the devil, and wrongly esteemed all such afflictions as sufferings of Christ. Satan indeed is the executioner often, but he has no power over the saints except as it is permitted of our Father.—1 Cor. 5:5.
The general object of many such afflictions is our discipline and reformation; and happy is the son who shall speedily note a rebuke of the Father, and repent and come back quickly into full harmony; and who, exercised thereby, shall seldom need the rebuking rod of affliction. The Apostle refers to this also (1 Cor. 11:31-34.) saying, "If we would judge ourselves we should not be judged" [by the Lord]. If we would critically watch ourselves and correct our own faults, disciplining ourselves, we should not need to be taken in hand and disciplined by afflictions. "But when we are judged by the Lord we are corrected [in order] that we should not be condemned with the world." Thus the consecrated are tried fully now, in order that they may not need any further trial in the future when the world shall be on trial, during the Millennial age.
It is of this class of afflictions that the Apostle James wrote, evidently,—sickness the result of rebukes from God for sins, and not sicknesses of the class first described in which we may rejoice. James says: "Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and though he have committed sins they shall be forgiven him." The prayer as we understand it, should be for the forgiveness of the sins of which the sickness is a punishment or rebuke, rather than for release from the deserved punishment. But if the sickness was a judgment or discipline for sin, we should expect that when the sin had been confessed and truly repented of, the Lord would remove the chastisement and raise up the penitent son from the affliction.
But let us remember that this statement does not refer to the various small aches and annoyances to which we in common with the world in general are subject, and which serve us a good purpose in the development of patience, and sympathy for others. We know this, first of all by the calling in of the elders of the church [the senior, or the chief, or official members] to pray over and anoint the sick with oil: because such extreme measures would be quite improper for a slight ailment. We know it secondly, by the Greek word used for sick in verse 14 which has the significance of helpless or impotent.
We see then that promiscuous praying for health, during the Gospel age, would have been improper, and that only by means of the gift of healing were the early cures of the age performed; that it ceased with the death of the apostles after accomplishing its object; and that the proper prayers relating to sickness, on the part of the saints, have been those offered for forgiveness of sins—as a result of which healing followed. But we see too, that as the Millennial age is dawning—lapping upon the Gospel age which is closing, we should expect that healing and general restitution would begin to be manifested, much as we do see it. And this leads us to inquire,—In the light of the forgoing examination of the Bible teachings, and in the light of our present location in the dawn of the Millennium, How and
We answer, The saints cannot pray for their own health now, any more than could their Master. They cannot properly ask the restitution privileges which they have consecrated; nor can they ask that their sacrifices be nullified by having all they cost of weariness, exhaustion, or stripes or sickness, miraculously removed. But they can still feel at liberty to confess their sins one to another, and pray to God for forgiveness—that they may be relieved of sickness as a punishment, and thus they may, as a result, be healed.
The saints abiding in Christ and His Word in them, may pray for others than themselves—for their children, or neighbors, if seriously sick, under certain conditions, in view of the fact that we are now in the beginning of the Times of Restitution: namely, in cases where they are sure their object is not self-exaltation; where their desires for the recovery of the sick are not selfish; where they have reason to believe that the restored health would be consecrated to good works and the glory of God. In such a case we may pray for the recovery of the afflicted believers in Christ who are not of the consecrated little flock—the sacrificers, the Royal Priesthood. Or we may under such circumstances pray even for the imbecile, who are not and cannot be believers. Yet even in such cases, though our faith may necessarily be strong, because confident of asking from right motives, we should always say as the Master did in prayer—"Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done."
It is not time yet to expect general healing and full restitution work, as that evidently will not be due, until the entire Priesthood has finished sacrificing and entered with their head and Chief Priest, Jesus, into the glories and perfections of the heavenly state or condition, typified by the Most Holy of the Temple and Tabernacle.
At first sight it might appear that as the gifts at the beginning of the age were exercised through the consecrated church, so the healings to be expected in the Millennial dawn would be manifested mostly in answer to the prayers of the consecrated church. But not so we believe, will it be found; this would bring the saints into too great prominence, whereas, like John the Baptist at the first advent, we must expect to decrease here, while the church triumphant, on the other side the vail, will be on the increase. Our present relationship to the glorified church—pointing out the nearness of the reign of glory—answers closely in correspondence to the work of John the Immerser at the first advent. John proclaimed, The kingdom of heaven is at hand, and added, "There standeth one among you whom ye know not—He must increase, but I must decrease." So, much the same is our message, and while the church on the earthly plane will decrease, the glorified church on the heavenly plane will be increasing in power and influence during the time of trouble coming, while the John class will doubtless be put under governmental restraints as John was cast into prison by Herod.
In harmony with what we should thus expect, we see various cures meeting with some success, and indeed we have heard of one case of healing where no cure was attempted or even thought of by either the sick girl or her friends. And while they waited for her to die, she immediately recovered got up and went about as ever. The only explanation she could give was that she had a dream in which a man laid his hand upon her head, and she felt a shock like electricity pass down her spine. And this young woman did not even profess to be a Christian.
By these various means the Lord would gradually prepare the world for restitution; so that when it comes, the new order of things will still leave room for the exercise of faith toward God; for the proud and scientific to expect such things from natural causes, while others will be led thereby to recognize such things as the beginning [R1048 : page 5] of restitution. And since the overcomers have a great work to do in opposing error and instilling truth, and since if they were much engaged in praying for the sick it would detract from their real and important work, of healing the spiritually sick and lame and blind, we see great reasons why we should expect these manifestations of restitution both in and through others than the saints.
This question naturally suggests itself. We answer, We are neither commanded nor forbidden to use medicines. In our consecration we gave up human advantages coming to us as to all our race through Christ, in exchange for the spiritual advantages offered us. Hence all restitution blessings, every favor not spiritual, we are debarred from asking, though God for his own wise ends sometimes grants his "new creatures" special favors and manifestations of an earthly sort in their hours of need, even though they do not and have no right to ask for them.—See Matt. 26:53,54; Acts 12:6-11; 14:19,20.
It should be noticed however, that even aside from Christ's work of redemption and restitution, even condemned men are privileged to use such natural means as they can command, in food and medicines, for the relief of their ailments and the sustenance as long as they may be able of their present condemned and dying bodies. And these privileges consequently the saints retain and possess, even after having exchanged the earthly advantages through Christ, for the heavenly advantages.
Nothing then in their covenant of full consecration prevents the saints more than unbelievers from using natural means for their relief. We have the liberty to do so whenever our judgment indicates the expediency. And though we are not informed that our Lord used medicines, we should remember that he was perfect and had only such pains and aches as he himself took from others. However, He certainly illustrated the principle of making use of natural means and not asking divine power for relief, by resting when weary instead of praying for supernatural restoration; and when hungry and thirsty he ate and drank instead of praying for strength and refreshment otherwise. So too, it was with the apostles so far as we may know from the meagre scraps of history of their private affairs furnished us in Scripture. Paul tells us (2 Cor. 11:27,30) of his weariness and pains and hunger and thirst and cold and nakedness, and says he gloried in these marks of his faithfulness, but mentions not one word about praying for the removal of these by divine power; nor does he record one answer of such a prayer as a mark of favor with God. On the contrary, in the single instance he mentions of having prayed for earthly blessing (the restoration of his sight), he does tell us that the Lord refused his request, telling him it was best for him so—the grace sufficient being in spiritual and not earthly favors above those of natural men.—2 Cor. 12:9.
When Paul was thus needy at times how did he do? Did he pray God to feed him and clothe him? No; he well knew that God had promised that no good, needful thing should be withheld, so long as he was his servant. Did he ask God to create money in his pockets or to send some kind hearted person not too lazy to work with a basket of dainties for him to eat, while he studied or prayed? Nay, that was not Paul's sort, else he would not have been selected as "a chosen vessel" to bear the Lord's truth. When Paul was hungry he neither went out and begged nor staid indoors to pray for the things needed, but went to work at his trade,—tent-making, teaching publicly and privately as opportunities offered; unwilling to ask aid even of the believers whom he served; though he well knew that they were negligently losing, both the privilege of giving to his support and the spread of the truth, and also losing the valuable instruction which he could have imparted during these hours necessarily devoted to secular labor.
We remember too Paul's advice to Timothy regarding medicine—to take a little wine (as a medicine, not as a beverage) for his indigestion and "often infirmities." And this we find in perfect harmony with Paul's own course and that of our Lord, and therefore certainly a safe guide to us respecting our Father's will.
But, says one, even if it be right to use simple remedies such as may come under our observation,—Would it be right to spend the Lord's money, (as all the money which the consecrated have is the Lord's) upon physicians? We answer that our Lord and the disciples spent consecrated money for bread which is the medicine needed when hungry. And we presume Timothy following Paul's counsel, spent some consecrated money for the medicinal wine. But moderation should be used in all that we do, that whether we eat or drink or take medicine or whatever, all may be done with reason and to the glory of God. We should not fill ourselves with medicine nor with wine nor be gluttonous with food.
We cannot for a moment concede as the superiors or equals of our Lord and Paul, in faith or divine favor, some who in our day claim to live by faith, "working not at all;" who do little to weary or pain themselves, and who rejoice that they have no such experiences as Paul had with hunger, and cold, and thirst, and nakedness, as marks of special faith and holiness and divine favor. We believe that many such are sincere children of God, deceived on this question by following their own feelings and inclinations rather than carefully studying the perfect examples of God's will in this matter, furnished in Scripture.—See 2 Thes. 3:8-10,11-15.
In view of the Scripture teaching, we must therefore advise the consecrated to follow Christ, and walk in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus and those who followed him most closely; ignoring in this as in other things their own preferences as to how they would like to think about it, and how they would like to do and have God do, in such matters. Let us fully submit our wills and methods to God's plan and arrangement as expressed and illustrated in His Word. As "new creatures" we may ask freely for all spiritual blessings and graces promised. Then, sure that such will come, we should seek for them and acknowledge them with thankfulness, by whatever agency or channel sent. But in earthly matters we must be very careful: let us ask for nothing beyond our actual needs, as God (not we) sees the necessity and expediency—thankful always for the "bread and water" promised, as well as for every additional comfort. Realizing always God's superior wisdom and boundless love for us, we should fear to take our interests in any degree out of His hand. Thus we may live always rejoicing and always realizing that, whatever may befall us, all is working out for good to us. We may need an acquaintance with pain or to come into perplexity and almost to want, in order to have needful experience or testing or chastisement. And we should learn to search for and appreciate the lesson or chastisement quickly, and prove ourselves apt pupils in the school of Christ.
Especially in the case of their children consecrated parents may well feel that, now in the dawning of the Millennial age, they have special privileges in prayer; for of all classes these are most surely the heirs of restitution blessings. The children of all believers are justified (1 Cor. 7:14) and hence heirs of the earthly blessings, restitution etc. And now that the Restitution Times are upon us, we should feel great confidence in asking health and strength and life for such. It would seem indeed that now the children of believers might live on down into the full sunlight of Millennial glory and blessing, when none will die except such as sin willfully against that light and favor. Yet, in all our requests we cannot ask otherwise than as the Master did, saying—Nevertheless not my will but thine be done.
The following letter presents a case in which the Lord has been pleased to grant a measure of relief and restitution to one of the restitution class, a daughter of one of the consecrated. When the mother's request came (that we would pray for her daughter whose mind was breaking down, and who after being for some time in a hospital was growing worse and had been ordered to an Insane Asylum), we considered it an extreme case, one such as our Lord would deeply sympathize with—the broken hearts of mother, husband and children, of one worse off than dead. We saw that in asking for her the blessing of restored reason we were asking nothing selfishly—not even coveting the privilege of presenting the case before the throne of grace. (And we now relate it, not in public, but to the household of faith, and not for vain-glory but as an illustration.*) Considering that as nearly as we could tell this might be such a case as the Lord would be pleased to make an exception of, I concluded to present the case to our High-Priest, the Redeemer and soon to be Restorer, in whom the Father hath invested "all power:" joined by my wife, Sister Russell, I did so; expressing our reasons for supposing this to be such a case as the Lord would be pleased to regard favorably, yet carefully avoiding anything like an attempt to have the Lord do as we thought good, we prayed that if the request was not according to His will, that His will be done and the request refused. We noted the date and wrote to the sister whose daughter was afflicted. The following is an extract from her reply:—
*In fact we consider it far more a proof of sonship to God and of close relationship and friendship with our Lord Jesus, to have a knowledge of his Word, an understanding of his plan and information concerning "things to come" (John 16:13), than to possess even the gifts of healing and of speaking with tongues: for as the Apostle clearly shows, one might possess those gifts and yet be but sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. Our Lord declares that—Many shall say in that day, In thy name we have done many wonderful works, and yet be of the class whom he cannot and will not recognize as overcomers—his Bride.—Matt. 7:22.
Yours of Feb. 19th, 1888, was duly received, in which you gave me such good and timely advice, in regard to my dear daughter, who was laboring under severe nervous prostration and partial insanity. You will not have forgotten, that I asked your prayers in her behalf and you so kindly responded to the request on Sabbath morning Feb. 19. You wrote to me the same day, saying for me to try to resign my will perfectly to whatever might be the will of God in the case. Oh, I thought I had done that already, but no, my will was paramount all the time. I have been able through His grace to yield, and trust my child to His keeping, and I am resting—praise His name.
At the time of getting your letter my daughter was visiting me by my request, before being sent to an Insane Asylum, by advice of her physician at the hospital, where she had been for five months. I felt that I could not have her go to the asylum, so I went to my God and asked his guidance, and you know the rest.
I wrote to you; and on the 19th you presented her case to the Lord, and he heard. That very day there was a decided change in her mind. In three or four weeks she went to her home in Chicago, and has been doing her work ever since. While she is not well in mind or body yet, her husband writes me that he thinks her improving slowly every day. Praise the Lord. I thank you a thousand times for your Christian sympathy and prayers. Give God the glory. Believe me, your sister in Christ. MRS. THOS. MADDOX.
In this connection note that the healing was not immediate, but gradual; neither, perhaps, will it be complete. Full restitution back to perfect life and health and strength cannot be looked for until the "Times of Restitution" are fully ushered in. The most we should expect at present is merely relief. So, too, it was with the cases healed by our Lord. Not only were some of them gradual healings (John 5:52-53), but certainly none of them were absolute and complete restorations, else the cured ones would have been thereafter perfect men and women, and might have been living still. No, they were but partial restorations as in the case of Lazarus—only small foretastes of Restitution power, and work, and favor.
That the power of the mind over the body is great no person of experience will dispute. Every intelligent physician knows, that in about one half his cases he needs to treat the mind as much as the body of his patient; and that in such cases to hold the confidence of his patient is very necessary. Who has not heard of the conscientious physician who in many cases administered bread-pills with strict orders as to proper food, drink and clothing and thus had great success.
Every wise general has recognized the necessity of having the minds of his soldiers cheerfully employed, as promotive of general health. To this end sentimental music is prohibited and cheery and martial airs are commanded.
It has long been observed that where an infectious disease breaks out and becomes pestilential, those most afraid of it, whose minds dwell on the disease and dread it most, are the most subject to it, and most likely to have it in a violent form. The story has been often told of the college professor whose class in a joke experimented upon him and put him into bed sick for several days by some five of them meeting him at various places on his way from home to the school and each succeeding one emphasizing more than the former that he looked unwell, in fact sick, and should return home at once.
It is a well known fact, too, that French scientists were some years ago granted several prisoners condemned to death, to experiment with as they chose. One was placed in a cell in which a man had just died from cholera, but was not told of that fact and was well the next day: another was placed in a clean cell but told that the death from cholera had been in that cell and that he would surely take the disease; and he did take it and died. Another [R1048 : page 6] of their experiments was, to bind and blindfold a prisoner and pass his hand and arm through a partition, telling him that scientists wanted to learn how long it would take to bleed to death from the cutting of one of the arteries of the arm. He prepared for the execution in this form and died in a few hours, though really the experiment was to learn how much effect fear would have, for the cut made in his arm was quite insignificant and he lost only a few ounces of blood; the drip, drip, drip, which he could hear and feel run down his arm, being a carefully arranged device of tepid water. He was mind-killed; he thought he had lost the blood, and exhaustion and death were the result.
Who, that has observed, will not admit that to think about an ache or a pain will aggravate it? And if it will intensify and aggravate pain to allow the mind to dwell upon it, is it not reasonable to believe, that pain can be lessened and a cure expedited by an exercise of the brain power in an opposite direction? The secret of how the mind operates upon disease undoubtedly lies in the fact that the brain is not only the seat of all thought, but of all feeling. It has communication with the entire person by its active messengers, the nerves. Consequently when a message of pain comes from wounded nerves, the brain has power either to soothe the wounded nerves and assist thus in allaying the pain, or on the other hand it has power, instead of healing, to spread a general alarm to the entire nervous system, and thus both to increase the pain and delay recovery. From that centre, the brain, all the nerves are directed and more or less controlled, as a factory is governed and directed from the manager's office. If we had no nerves, we could have no pain; and if we had the nerves even, and had no brain to which they could communicate their troubles, we could have no knowledge of pain. Hence, we see, that whether we shall suffer much pain depends not only upon the fineness, delicacy or sensitiveness of our nerves, but also upon the way in which our minds shall receive the appeals of our nerves—whether we magnify or minimize them. And yet, the full appreciation of the mental powers of human beings and how best to make use of them, evidently belongs further along. In the full sunlight of the Millennial day this will doubtless be one of the prominent agencies of human restitution.
But we should be on guard against a device of our enemy, who, taking advantage of this, (one of the principles of restitution which must soon be far more widely recognized than at present,) endeavors to use it as his baloon by which to lift into public notice doctrines and theories subversive of the doctrines of the Scriptures. We refer now, specially, to what is deceptively termed "Christian Science." This entire system seems to be as fraudulent and deceptive as its name: though we admit that some honest souls are found among its advocates, having been deceived and misled by it. By reason of the horrible misrepresentations of God's character and plans by so-called Orthodoxy, in groping for something better, some have fallen into this last snare of the devil, as others have been ensnared into Infidelity and Spiritism and into Swedenborgism which appears to be a hand-maid and stepping stone to Spiritism,—as is also this new deception, called Christian Science.
There is nothing Christian about it—it is against Christ and against the truths which Christ and his apostles taught. It is emphatically anti-Christian in its tendencies. But they acknowledge Christ, says one. Yes, we answer, so did the devils when they had an object in so doing. (Matt. 8:29; Acts 16:17; 19:15.) So Spiritists acknowledge Christ too, claiming that he was an eminent medium and spiritist. And now these Christian Scientists use his name to deceive, if possible the very elect, claiming that our Lord was one of them—a Christian Scientist, who did very well all things considered, but who did not understand the Science so well as its present exponents, who are ladies, and whose finer sensibilities were requisite to a full appreciation of the unfathomable depths of this science.
Candor compels us to remark that few Christian people recognize the meaning of the word Christian. It is not like the word Lutheran, or Wesleyan; the secret force lies in the meaning of the Greek word Christ, which corresponds to the Hebrew word Messiah, and is a title rather than a name. It signifies, one Anointed by Jehovah as his agent, to accomplish the promised deliverance and blessing of mankind. All this was and is understood by the Jew as the import of the title Messiah, and should be recognized as the meaning of the corresponding word Christ by all true Christians.
"Christian Science" expounders, however, very far from believing in or expecting any deliverance through our Lord Jesus, the Christ, see nothing for him to do. They deny entirely any atonement for sin, and in fact deny any original sin, making necessary a ransom sacrifice, such as the Scriptures show; and not only do they thus deny the Lord's work already accomplished, but they deny any future work to be done by Him as the Millennial King. They deny that he did anything at his first advent except to teach their science,—and that very imperfectly as compared with what they could have done—especially as compared with what the self-styled "Rev." Mrs. Eddy, their Boston leader and teacher, would have done.
But do not "Christian Scientists" claim to believe the Bible? some one suggests; and do they not quote from it frequently? Yes, certainly, that is a part of their garment of light, by which they deceive some of the Children of the light. They quote Scripture much as Satan quoted it to our Lord in the temptation recorded in Matt. 4 chapter. But though they quote from the Bible, it is in an inconsistent manner and wholly out of its relation to the context, just as Satan did, not to ascertain God's plan, but to bolster up a theory which proves a snare to many not rooted and grounded in the truth. Such, not familiar with the general meaning of the passages quoted, too often do not take the time to fully examine the context, but swallow the theory whole, presuming their teachers to be honest, and that the passages cited are correctly applied.
"Orthodoxy," so called, by reason of the custom of its ministers to take texts from the Bible for all sorts of discourses, contrary to the meaning and intention of the text, has laid the foundation for just such deceptions as are now shipwrecking the faith of so many. Indeed we are distinctly shown that all but "the elect"—a faithful few, will be misled by some of these various deceptive snares. But the "very elect," because fully consecrated to God, shall have light and help sufficient to prevent them from being deceived so as to fall in such errors.
We need not criticize "Christian Science" at greater length in this paper, for this we did in our issue of October '86, which those who have not read can still obtain from our office. We merely wish now to note that the truth on the subject of mental assistance to healing, presented above, already for many years recognized by all thinkers, though perhaps fully comprehended and appreciated, as yet, by none, is a very different thing from the claims and nonsense of "Christian Scientists." The former is in perfect harmony both with reason and Scripture, while the latter violates both.
In fact we hold that the theories of these scientists (?) cannot have emanated from a sound brain, no matter how many sound minds may have been worked up to the point of belief in so unreasonable and unscientific a view of matters. We notice, too, that though they claim to believe that diseases and pains are not realities, but merely imaginations of the diseased minds and curable by getting rid of such imaginations, yet when it comes to paying for this imaginary healing, imaginary dollars will not do. One might suppose that they would become so convinced of their theory that "All is mind, there is no matter; all is life, there is no death," etc., that they would consider hunger and thirst and weariness and money as mere imaginations, and disregard them; but not so, food, and dress, and rest, and especially money, are very real to them and are sought after unceasingly. For instance a book to explain (?) their theory is only $3.00. And a course of lectures on How to heal (?) by this method costs $300.00. And the services of those who after hearing about twelve discourses get a "diploma" to practice as Christian Scientists, is never charged for in an imaginary manner, but at a good round figure in tangible money. All this is very different from the spirit and method of our Master whose name they fraudulently adopt, to deceive and ensnare his followers.
But does some one ask, What object could Satan have in getting up such a deception and delusion? We answer, It is one of the many efforts he is permitted to make now against the foundation of all true Christian faith—THE RANSOM. Of course they do not claim to deny the ransom; nor do any of the various no-ransom theories make any such claim. It is part of their deceptive policy to retain a form of sound words, while they are diligent and untiring in their efforts to subvert their real significance. And all errors seem to take this form, evidently inspired by the one great deceiver and arch-enemy of the cross. They are all the more dangerous and deceptive because they do not openly deny the Bible, but underhandedly. They deny original sin and its penalty, and ignore the work of Christ as Redeemer. They do not, of course, deny that he died, but they do deny that He "gave himself a ransom [a corresponding price] for all;" for they deny that any price was required. The following quotation from one of their prominent writers shows that they ignore Christ's redemptive work entirely, and in fact ignore God entirely, and substitute a principle of good as their deity. A writer in Mrs. Eddy's Christian Science Journal says:—
In this manner Satan would deceive the world into the belief that the restitution privileges and blessings which he can no longer delay, are not results of God's time and order, nor brought about by our Lord's redemptive work at Calvary, and his second coming in power as the promised "Seed" to bless all the families of the earth, and to restore all things, as spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began. He would offset and hinder as much as possible the proper effect of the coming blessings (viz., to lead mankind to appreciate and love their Redeemer and Restorer), by foretelling thus the coming restitution to the full perfection of human powers, and attributing them to a mere natural, human, mental "development" and "growing."
This deception, as to the cause and source of the coming restitution, leading the mind away from the great work of Christ, first as Redeemer, and finally as Life-giver or Restorer, will be all the greater, because Satan thus adroitly mingles truth with error—a truth too, more forcible far, than the world or "Christian Scientists" generally conceive. The Millennial restitution will come about as a development, expanding every good human quality to its ultimate limits, (full restoration to all that was lost); and doubtless this will be accomplished very largely through faith and mental healing.
Few recognize the influence of a pure mind over the body. God has so organized the human kind, that pure, noble, holy thoughts in general, have not only an elevating and ennobling effect upon the mental and moral constitution, but an invigorating influence upon the physical system. And on the contrary, every unclean, ignoble, unchaste, unholy thought (as well as act) has a direct effect not only toward debasement of mind and morals, but germinates seeds of disease already in the constitution of all the fallen race.
If this were more widely known and more fully recognized, it would be a great blessing to very many, and would tend to prevent very much sickness among both young and old, and would sometimes explain, why those whose hands and brains are busiest are often the most healthy and most happy. "Keep thy heart—for out of it are the issues of life." These words should be deeply engraved upon the tablet of memory by every person. They are words of wisdom. Their full import may be recognized by many in the present time, but surely all must sooner or later learn it; for this is to be the rule and arrangement by and under which, during Christ's Millennial reign, the world will be blessed.
Mankind will be brought to a knowledge of the truth, and to an opportunity for restitution to full perfection by the great Redeemer, but in such a manner as to require them to strive against sin and impurity, and to strive for righteousness and perfection,—which in response to their prayers and efforts the Life-giver will supply freely, having redeemed them from Adamic condemnation for this very purpose of restoring them to all that was lost in Adam's fall.
It is a mistake to suppose, as many seem to do, that because our Lord Jesus paid the full price of our redemption from sin and death, therefore all the redeemed ones must be freed forever from condemnation and sin, as soon as the Times of Restitution begin. On the contrary, our Lord's sacrifice covered and cancelled only the sin of Adam and its wide-spread results. Hence it covers only those sins of our committing, which result from weaknesses within ourselves and evil and temptation surrounding us, which our hearts do not consent to or approve when we come to know the right and wrong in God's sight.
As soon as we come to a clear apprehension [R1048 : page 7] of our provided redemption, and into harmony with its conditions, we may consider ourselves "saved" from the Adamic condemnation and restored to divine favor, though the time for actual restoration to the blessings secured is at the close of the Gospel age. The actual attainment of the privileges and blessings provided for all by God, through our Redeemer, and freely offered (sooner or later—in the present or in the coming age) to all, will not be attained except by the desire and effort of "whosoever will."
As soon as we know and except of Christ's redemption work, we may reckon ourselves free from all condemnation on Adam's account, or traceable to his failure; and then, at that moment of knowledge, the individual trial of each human being begins; and by his efforts as well as his prayers he shows his desire for a life of holiness and purity and fellowship with God. And to such the Lord is pleased to extend his favor and every needed aid, bringing them ultimately to full perfection and to the enjoyment of all the privileges lost by willful sin in Eden. And every sin and impurity, every unholiness, every dishonesty, of thought or act, will react upon the evil-doer bringing; with it a heavy toll of interest: and if persisted in, it will prove such an one unworthy of the everlasting life of holiness and purity. This, the only everlasting life which God has offered, or will grant, will be given only to those who, when brought to a full knowledge of all the facts, shall so desire a life of holiness as to strive against sin and impurity in every form.
And while this principle will apply specially to mankind during the Millennium, it is also a principle with the saints in the present time. Purity, chastity, holiness of heart (of mind), belong to our consecration,—to be copies of God's Son who was holy, harmless, undefiled. Wherefore:—
"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."—Prov. 4:23.
"Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report,... think on these things."—Phil. 4:8.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.—Matt. 5:8.