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YOUR favor of the 23d is at hand, and I much appreciate its loving spirit. With very much of it, dear brother, I am in very hearty accord and have offered some suggestions in the DAWNS and Tracts, especially respecting the fact that the angels were preached to, taught a great lesson in connection with our Lord's sacrifice and resurrection, and that some of them probably have taken their stand for righteousness and perhaps suffered from some evilly-disposed on this account. I do not see, however, as you seem to intimate, that their trial is wholly in the future. As the trial of the Gospel Church has continued throughout this age, but will terminate with severe testing, so I understand that the fallen angels have been on trial—but in their case for over 4300 years; that some have been taking their stand and that now what remains of trial for them is a short, sharp, final test similar to the one that will come to the world at the close of the Millennium.
Your suggestion that these fallen angels must see and appreciate the testing of the Millennial Age before their trial could be complete does not to me appear sound. They have knowledge, not only of the primeval condition, witnessing the degradation occasioned by sin in the world, but also of heavenly conditions and their own harmony at one time with these conditions. With mankind the matter is different. We have had comparatively no knowledge or illustration of perfection, but only of sin, degradation. God's purpose to give mankind an uplift and a knowledge of the good seems reasonable, for man has by experience no knowledge of the beauties and grandeurs of the heavenly estate for his instruction by contrast.
Assuming, as I do, that there have been good and bad fallen angels since Christ preached to them, and assuming that this knowledge brought to them responsibility, trial, testing, my understanding is that the culmination of their testing is about due. I do not understand these to be the angels of the devil mentioned in Matthew 25. Those I understand to be the goat-class, messengers of Satan, who love unrighteousness and who during the Millennium will pass to the left hand of the great King and Judge as "goats."
The judgment of the great day, I believe, is upon us, testing the Church, the world and the fallen spirits, and, I believe, will produce an awful time of trouble. We are to remember that, according to the parallel dispensations, the King came in, or assumed his power in 1878. He then called for his servants and began to reckon with them respecting the pounds and talents.
If we are correct in our supposition, the majority of the "little flock" is now with the Bridegroom beyond the veil and assisting in the work of judgment already beginning. Why may not we on this side of the veil have some share also in the matter? If the judgments of the Lord are already abroad in the earth and have to do with the fiery trials which are trying the Church, "When every man's work shall be tried so as by fire," and when the "great company," thus tried, shall suffer loss of all their Kingdom privileges, yet themselves be saved so as by fire, is not this a part of the Lord's judgment which begins with the house of God, which extends to Babylon and involves the whole world? Is not this the time of which it is written, "This honor hath all his saints, to execute the judgments written"? Will not this execution of the judgments written constitute a large part of the great trouble just before us? Again, in his statement, "To him that overcometh [R4292 : page 366] will I grant power over the nations, and he shall dash them in pieces as a potter's vessel," does not our Lord suggest that the Church will have a share in this work? To suppose the Head and the majority of the members in glory, and the Feet still in the earth and in the very midst of much of the trouble, but shielded from it by their close relationship to the Lord, as the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace were protected—does not this fit all of the conditions?
Consider now the part of the fallen angels. In the "lying wonders" would not the expression "lying" convey the thought of deception? And could any wonder be greater than an apparent resurrection of the dead? And would it be more deceptive or a greater lie than for the fallen angels to personate the dead? It seems to me that the acquirement by the angels of the power to materialize and personate the living and the dead will most wonderfully accord with the various declarations respecting "all manner of deceivableness and lying wonders."
My thought is that God's restraint upon the fallen angels was not merely one of command, but included also his taking away from them the powers of materialization, which once they misused. I do not think of divine power as returning to the demons the liberty and authority to materialize, but understand that whatever success they may have in this direction and the still further success they are expecting is [R4293 : page 366] all the result of their finding out a method by which it might appear to them that they had circumvented the divine mandate. Thus they would seem to triumph over God and be able to work their orgies in defiance of his power.
Here would be the sublime test, which would demonstrate not only the gross wickedness of those of them who for centuries had defied God and righteousness and injured humanity, but it would be the supreme test also upon that other company of the fallen angels who, we are assuming, are sick of sin, abstaining from it and longing for divine mercy and reconciliation. The breaking loose of such evil spirits and the resulting pandemonium would imply amongst them a climacteric test, the decision in which would be final. It not only seems to me that no such tests would be possible for those demons during the Millennium, when nothing shall hurt or destroy, but it also seems incongruous to me to suppose that there would be any hope for those who are in a devilish attitude now after having witnessed the fall and its terrible consequences, and the goodness of God manifested in Jesus' death and resurrection and the faithfulness of his followers in being baptized into his death.
I am not urging this matter, dear Brother, merely explaining the matter as it appears to my mind. In doing this I, of course, wish to thoroughly arouse the Lord's people in due time, to put them on guard, to forewarn and forearm. And incidentally, we know not but that we are forewarning and forearming those of the demons who have turned their faces again towards God and his righteousness. It is far from our thought to terrify the Lord's people or others. Rather we point them to the only sure place of safety, and admonish them that in abiding therein they need have no fear. The Vow we have recently suggested is a finger pointing in the right direction—to the fullest imaginable degree of consecration to the Lord and his service, and to love for the brethren and to separateness from sin. These, abiding under the shadow of the Almighty, need fear no evil. The Lord will be their refuge and habitation, and no evil can come near that dwelling-place.
In a word, those who are living as closely as possible to the Lord in faith and obedience and knowledge are absolutely safe and need fear none of the powers of darkness. We believe that all others are unsafe propositions, as they are distant from this safe habitation.