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AT THE Edinburgh railway station we were met by a delegation of friends; indeed some came to Dundee to meet us. We had a very enjoyable season. Brother John Edgar, M.D., addressed the Edinburgh friends in the forenoon on the "Ransom and Sin-Offering." We were not privileged to hear the address, but through others learned that it was both interesting and instructive. In the afternoon we addressed the interested, about 140, and endeavored to point out how the Church enters into covenant relationship with God, not through the work of a mediator, but by "sacrifice." We pointed out that the world through the Millennium will have the great Mediator appointed of the Father, and [R4646 : page 227] promised through the Scriptures, and that the mediation will be based upon the New Covenant with Israel. We showed that the antitypical Mediator is the Christ, Head and Body, and that of this great One, Moses was the type. As Moses mediated the typical Law Covenant, so the antitypical Moses, The Christ, will put into operation the New Covenant with Israel. The Mediator will stand between God and the world, and will for a thousand years shield the people from the requirements of absolute justice; that through him Divine mercy may extend through Israel to all, for their blessing and uplifting to perfection.
We showed how this same blessing will extend to all people, nations, tongues and kindreds, in that they will be permitted to come into and become members of Israel, and thus become members of the earthly seed of Abraham, and sharers of all the blessings of Israel's New Covenant. We showed that thus, in the end of the Millennial Age, all the perfect race will be "the seed of Abraham." We pointed out that when Satan will be loosed out of his prison-house, to test all of them, it will be Abraham's seed of all nations that will be tested as to worthiness or unworthiness of eternal life, and that the whole number of these is to be "as the sands of the sea-shore for multitude." We reminded our hearers that thus it was written of Abraham, "Thy seed shall be as the sands of the sea-shore for multitude." Thus eventually all the families of the earth shall be blessed through Abraham; as it is written, "I have constituted thee father of many nations."—Romans 4:17.
Then we looked at the Spiritual Seed of Abraham, likened unto the stars of heaven. We perceived that Jesus was the first, the Captain, the Forerunner of these. We saw that he became the Spiritual Seed of Abraham by the sacrifice of himself, as the man Jesus. We heard the Apostle urging all of us desiring to be his joint-heirs in the Kingdom, saying, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God." (Rom. 12:1.) We noted the fact that only by sacrifice could any come into this spirit-begotten relationship with God as "new creatures in Christ Jesus." We turned to the Scriptures which foretold the gathering of the elect Church in these words, "Gather together my saints unto me, those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice"; "They shall be mine, saith the Lord, when I make up my jewels." Here we saw the Church class, the jewel class, those being gathered now.
We noted next the harmony between the Apostle's exhortation, that we present our bodies a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God, and the statement of the Prophet that all of these enter into covenant relationship with God through sacrifice. We noted the fact that none except sacrificers can come into this covenant relationship with God now; "Now is the acceptable time" when such sacrifices will be received by the Lord through, and under, and by the imputation of the grace of our great Advocate. The world is not accepted in this manner, but reversely: Instead of being invited to sacrifice their earthly natures, they will be given the privilege of restitution to perfection. (Acts 3:19-21.) The privilege of sacrifice, therefore, is unique to this age. The Church of the First-borns present their bodies living sacrifices, accepting the services of the great Advocate, whom God has appointed for this very service, and who gladly accepts the sacrifices as members of his Body, his Bride, his Church, the "First-borns, whose names are written in heaven."
This acceptance of the sacrifice of the Church is the basis of our acceptance as new creatures, spiritual, and these with the Lord constitute spiritual Israel, the spiritual or heavenly Seed of Abraham. We noted the fact that this Spiritual Seed in no sense took the place of the [R4646 : page 228] natural seed of Abraham. Indeed, neither Abraham, nor any for four thousand years knew anything about the Divine plan in respect to a Spiritual Seed. All the promises made to them were earthly. Hence, as the Apostle says, the Gospel invitation to become the Spiritual Seed by faith was entirely a new proposition—"The Mystery hidden from past ages and dispensations, but now revealed unto the saints." We saw that the entire matter of the Gospel Age and its call might be viewed as an interruption in the Divine plan and purpose for Israel and the world. This Gospel Age, therefore, is to be seen as a parenthesis. As soon as it shall be finished, God's dealings with natural Israel will again be resumed, only on a higher and loftier plane, through the antitypical Mediator, The Christ, as taking the place of the typical Mediator, Moses. We reminded the friends that thus it is written by the Apostle in Romans 11:25-32; Acts 3:22,23.
Israel noted its failure to attain eternal life under the Law Covenant. God acknowledged the failure, and encouraged them to look forward to the time when Messiah would take the place of Moses and institute for them an antitypical New Covenant. This New Covenant was foretold (Jeremiah 31:31), saying: "After those days, saith the Lord, I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah." Moses prophetically foretold the great Mediator and the better work he would accomplish for the people, renewing or making new their Covenant. St. Peter calls attention to his words, saying, "Moses verily said unto the fathers, a Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you from amongst your brethren like unto me." I am the type on a small scale; I am the mediator of this Law Covenant, but ineffective. When the antitype shall come, the covenant shall be put upon a higher footing by means of his better sacrifice, and that will make of it really the New Law Covenant.
Hence the Israelites began to look forward to the Messiah who would thus transmute their Law Covenant, which they found to be unto death, into a New Law Covenant, which would mean to them eternal life and all the blessings they had been led to hope for. Eagerly, therefore, they watched for the Messiah, but they knew not that when he would come he would be a Spiritual Seed of Abraham, composed of many members. This was the Mystery not permitted to be known to them, or to others—and even yet, made known only to the saints. They knew not that the development of this antitypical Moses would require nearly nineteen centuries for its accomplishment. How could they? The mystery was not revealed. Nevertheless this was the Lord's message to them through the last of their prophets, "Behold I send my Messenger,...the Messenger of the Covenant, whom ye delight in. [You have been hoping for him this long time. He it is, who as the Servant of the Law Covenant, will make it really effective to you in a manner that Moses could not do.] But who may abide the day of his coming, and who shall stand when he appears? For he is like fuller's soap, and like a refiner's fire. He shall sit as a refiner to purify the sons of Levi, that they may offer unto the Lord an acceptable sacrifice."—Malachi 3:3.
We pointed out that our Lord came in accordance with this prophecy; that he was present with the Jews as the Reaper, and with the winnowing-fan he separated the chaff from the wheat. As the Refiner he has throughout this entire Gospel Age been seeing to it that those who came unto the Father, through him, should pass through fiery trials and experiences, which would fully test their loyalty and their fitness to be associated with him in the great Kingdom of Glory as members of his Body, as members of his Bride, as members of the great antitypical Prophet, Priest, Mediator, King.
We traced the matter in St. Paul's words in Romans 11:27, where he assures us that as soon as the Church, the Body of Christ, is completed, God's Covenant with Israel, the New Covenant, will be instituted. Then their sins will be forgiven, their iniquities pardoned, and they as God's people will be received back into Divine fellowship, through the great Mediator. We pointed out the Apostle's words—"They shall obtain mercy through your mercy"; that it is God's mercy; that it comes primarily through the Lord Jesus. Yet it is "your mercy," the Church's mercy—the mercy of God and Christ through you to natural Israel and through natural Israel for the blessing of whosoever wills of all the families of the earth. Oh, the lengths and breadths, and the heights and depths of the love of God; how unsearchable are his riches, and his secrets past finding out! And yet his secrets, his plans are all glorious, generous, loving and just. Well may we rejoice, not only in the share which the Church will have in the glorious plan of God, but also rejoice in the share which Israel restored to Divine favor will have, and in the blessings which then will flow to all the families of the earth.
The evening session for the public was in "Queen's Rooms." Again the weather was unfavorable, but notwithstanding there was a good attendance of about 600. We had excellent attention; our topic was, "Where are the Dead?"
On account of the King's funeral, the running of trains was disturbed and thus our purposed visit to Middlesborough was interfered with. We regretted the disappointment, yet could readily see in it the Divine providence, for the day was quite needful to us in London to get caught up with some of our literary work for the press.
On Sunday morning, May 22, we again occupied the old pulpit of George Whitefield at the "Whitefield Tabernacle," [R4647 : page 228] London. About 700 of the friends were present. These included London friends and some who had come considerable distances. Our text was found in Colossians 2:6-8. We exhorted the friends to faithfulness, and reminded them that the great test of our Lord Jesus was his loyalty to the Father—to the Father's will—to the Father's way—to the Father's time—to all of the Father's arrangements. We reminded them that Jesus showed his own loyalty in that he ignored his own preference that in everything he might know and do the will of the Father who sent him. We pointed out that we needed to be rooted, grounded and built up in our Lord and Master in all these respects. We showed that the various tests permitted to come upon the Church of God from time to time, from first to last, will be tests of these various qualities of heart and mind—tests of heart loyalty. Obedience to the Lord in thought as well as in word and in deed means overcoming selfish propensities or tendencies, which are ours in common with the whole world of mankind in its fallen condition. We pointed out that this involves a battle, a strife, and the battle is not against the Father, nor against the Brethren, nor against the Truth, nor against the Lord, nor against the World, nor against the Devil. The fight is against the old nature with its perverted tastes, appetites and will. As new creatures we are to fight the good fight of faith against [R4647 : page 229] our natural tendencies, and to keep ourselves in the love of God, fully submissive to his will.
In the evening the third and last of the London public meetings was held in the Royal Albert Hall. In respect to the audience, judged by its appearance, there was a steady improvement in the three Sundays—good, better, best. The numbers, however, were in the reverse ratio, 7,500, 6,000 and 5,000. Considering the excitement in the city incidental to the King's death and funeral obsequies, and the public agitation connected therewith, we think the results were remarkable.
Liberal extracts from the sermons were published in several of the large journals, and reached probably a million people. Responses to the "Peoples Pulpits" given our amounted to about a thousand, while the responses from the readers of the newspapers amounted to over four thousand, before we left for home, with heavy mails still coming in. Altogether we considered that the Lord greatly blessed the ministry of his Truth in connection with the London and associated meetings. We cannot, of course, hope for many more thousands to be reached with "Present Truth," but we were quite content to colabor with our British friends to the extent of our ability, and to leave the results with the Chief Reaper. We doubt not he will bless his message of Grace and Truth to all who are in condition of heart-readiness for it.
On Monday, May 23, we visited Luton, and had a very enjoyable afternoon with the friends of the Truth there to the number of about 50, discussing with them the terms of the high calling, the value of it, the conditions upon which we are accepted of God in Christ, as members of his Body, and granted covenant relationship as "new creatures in Christ." We pointed out that this condition must be maintained by patient perseverance in well doing and watching unto prayer; and that failure to develop the fruits and graces of the Spirit, and to become "copies of God's dear Son," would mean the loss of everything. Thus God's message of grace once accepted must be considered either a message "of life unto life or of death unto death." In the evening we had a public service which was well attended by a very intelligent class of people to the number of about 650. Our topic was, "Man's Past, Present and Future in the Light of the Bible." We discussed it after the usual manner. Many gave close attention and evidenced considerable interest. May the Lord bless the interests of his cause there!
As per appointment we met with the London Church in the afternoon. At our invitation the congregation took Tea with us, as our guests, dividing the number among various Tea-Rooms in the vicinity. Subsequently we regathered at the Whitefield Tabernacle. There we gave the friends a family talk, telling them of our appreciation of their efforts in connection with the meetings recently concluded; telling them also what we knew of the results, and expressing our hopes for the future—that some others might be found, and that at all events the activities of the Church had surely drawn all of its members still more closely together in love and unity of the spirit and in the bonds of peace.
After an address of about an hour, as we were closing the session, one of the Elders of the congregation remarked that while all of them recognized Brother Russell as a Pastor, and indeed voted for him every year, when they subscribed for THE WATCH TOWER, nevertheless he thought it would be both wise and proper to nominate him and elect him in a formal manner as Pastor of the London Assembly. The matter was seconded, and when the vote was put, by Brother Hemery, it was unanimously carried. We thanked the congregation for this another evidence of their love and confidence, and assured them that we always had their interests close to our heart, and doubted if we could do more for them as Pastor than we had already previously done, but that in any event they might be sure that they would continue to have our love and prayers and best endeavors. We knew not whether the Lord would now permit us to see them twice a year or not, but would leave that to his Providential guidance of the interests of his work. At our request the Elders and Deacons met with us at the Society's Offices from ten to eleven p.m., during which time we came more closely into touch with the various meetings of the London Church, and their leaders. Our session closed with prayer for the Lord's blessing upon his work everywhere, and particularly in the metropolis of Great Britain.
Although the Truth had been established in Liverpool for some years, it never seemed to properly flourish until quite recently. The cause of this was apparently an attempt to run the meetings on the lines of "mission work," rather than as Bible Study Classes. Considerable progress has been made within the past two years, until now the class averages about sixty, well informed, consecrated, and, so far as we could judge, "Sound in the faith." At the afternoon session about 110 were present, and we had the closest attention while we endeavored to set forth some features of "the Mystery, hidden from past ages and dispensations"—Christ in you [the Church] the hope of glory, and you, the Church, in Christ, as members, heirs of glory.
We endeavored to make clear the fact that the entire Church of the First-borns includes the "Little Flock," the "Royal Priesthood," and also the "Great Company," who will be their companions on the spirit plane in the Kingdom work. All of these, we showed, belonged to "the Church of the First-borns," and were typified in Israel's first-borns who were passed over, or spared "in that night," when the first-borns of the Egyptians were slain. We showed that the night preceding the day of their deliverance from Egypt typified this Gospel Age, which precedes the Millennial Day of deliverance. All people of God will be fully delivered from the power of Sin and Death, and from the power of Satan, and from all of his malevolent hosts in the coming Millennial Day. But now, in advance, the first-borns are passed over and spared. The antitype of those first-borns of Israel, or the Church of the First-borns, have all been begotten of the holy Spirit to spirit nature and sonship during this Gospel Age.
As God caused the first-borns of Israel to be exchanged for the one tribe of Levi, so thereafter all Levites represented "the household of faith"—the spirit begotten ones of this age. We showed that these in the antitype divided into two classes—a "Little Flock" of priests, the "Royal Priesthood" under Jesus, and a "Great Company," who will eventually come up out of great tribulation, washing their robes and making them white in the [R4647 : page 230] blood of the Lamb. The latter will be the associates of the Church in the Heavenly Kingdom, though without the crown and seat of honor in the throne. They will be "before the throne" and have palm branches of victory. We saw these also in Psalm 45, where the Bride of Christ is pictured as being brought in before the King in raiment of fine needle-work and gold, and then following her into his presence "the virgins her companions." We saw the same class pictured in Revelations 19. At the fall of Babylon they will be fully set free from the timidity which has restrained them, and be glad to acclaim the Bride, and to say, "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give glory to God, because the marriage of the Lamb has come and his Bride hath made herself ready." More than this, they will hear eventually an invitation that they may participate in the glorious celebration or Nuptial Feast or "Marriage Supper." Again we saw these represented in Rebecca and her damsels, or maids, who accompanied her, when she went to become the bride of Isaac.
We noted that those received of God during this Gospel Age are "all called in the one hope of their calling," all drawn in one manner; the terms for each and all are the same, namely, "If any man will be my disciple, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me." Let him present his body a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. Thus all now called and received of the Lord enter into covenant relationship with the Father by sacrifice, to follow the example of the dear Redeemer. [R4648 : page 230] To each and every one of these covenanters by sacrifice Jesus as their Advocate first of all appropriated a sufficiency of his merit to cover their blemishes.
The difference between those who will constitute the great mass of the household of faith and the "Little Flock" of the "Royal Priesthood" will be that the latter will manifest more zeal, more of the spirit of the Head in their faithfulness to lay down their lives in the service of the Lord, the Truth and the brethren. All must prove loyal in the end, else they will not be in either class, but die the Second Death. We are not to esteem the "Great Company" ignoble and traitorous toward the Lord and his cause, for none such will be acceptable for eternal life on any plane. They have the same love for truth and righteousness and for the brethren as the "Little Flock," the "Royal Priesthood" have, but in less degree; they show less zeal. Hence "through fear of death they are all their lifetime subject to bondage"; for fear of the cost, they hold back their sacrifice until too late. Finally the test will come to determine whether or not they will repudiate the Lord, the Truth, and the Brethren. Such as will be unwilling to repudiate their earthly rights will be unworthy of further covenant sonship under any condition. But such as will, when put to the test, prove loyal, will be counted as companions, servants of the Bride, and be her associates in the work of the Kingdom.
We urged the friends, however, to remember that many of us were justified and in fellowship with God, and had presented our bodies living sacrifices, had received an imputation of Christ's merit, and our sacrifices had been accepted of the Father and the holy Spirit of adoption had been imparted, before we understood much of anything concerning the philosophy of the Atonement or the significance of the Ransom, or anything about its application. Not only was this true of us, but it has been true of all Christians during this Gospel Age for centuries. We exhorted, therefore, that none consider the mere knowledge of the Ransom and the philosophy of the Atonement as the all-important matter. Rather we should recognize that our trust in Christ, and our consecration to do the Father's will and our faithfulness in so doing, even unto death, constitute the terms of our acceptableness and the basis of our hope of joint-heirship with our Lord in his Kingdom.
We are now granted special light from the Word of God on the Philosophy of the Atonement, as an offset to the vain philosophies of human tradition, which are springing up around us—Theosophy, Christian Science, Evolution, etc. Were it not for this God-given Light in the harvest time, many of us might have fallen away from the Lord and his gracious arrangements entirely. Our knowledge of the Ransom is to be esteemed a special and very great blessing of the Lord to his people during this harvest time. But, while we are to esteem the knowledge of the Ransom a special mark of Divine favor and guidance and blessing in connection with the Truth, we should not think of making that knowledge a test of brotherhood or fellowship. For aught we know, some of the Lord's people today may be as fully in God's fellowship, as fully in covenant relationship with him, without an appreciation of this philosophy, as were some of our forefathers.
Likewise, let us beware of how the Adversary might seek to ensnare us and to mislead us in the study in respect to the Great Company. If he could get us sufficiently interested in this, or in any similar question, so as to make of it a point of dispute in the Church and to cause a division amongst the brethren and the stumbling of some, we may be sure that it would be pleasing to our Adversary in proportion as it would be injurious to God's people. If, therefore, some say to us that they cannot see the "Great Company" as we do—that it is a spirit class, spirit-begotten, etc.—we answer, "Very well, you cannot be blamed for what you do not see! If later the Lord shall grant you a still further opening of your eyes of understanding that will be a cause for still further rejoicing, but now rejoice in what you can see."
In any case, let us remember that no one was "called" to be of the "Great Company" Class. Let us remember that we were called in the one hope of our calling, namely, to the Bride class. Let us seek to make our calling and election sure. Let us know assuredly that we shall never advance our interests as new creatures by contentions and divisions amongst the Body-members of Christ, the "little flock," the self-sacrificing priests. Doubtless there are many points similar to this which the Adversary has endeavored to make stones of stumbling and rocks of offence for the separating of the Lord's people. "We are not ignorant of his devices," and to be forewarned is to be forearmed against them. It is ours to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bonds of peace.
Let us be thankful for whatever things God in his providence has revealed to us; and "let us all mind the same things," as the Apostle urges, and be knit together in love and make increase of the Body. Those whom the Adversary is turning aside from the harvest work to dispute over who found the jewels of truth and who showed them most to others are not wise, neither can they be happy. The harvest work is great, the laborers are few, the Master has consented that we may serve! What a privilege is ours! How we should rejoice in the opportunity afforded us for manifesting to our Lord and to our Redeemer our love and our zeal for Him, for the Truth, for the Brethren who are in the light of the Truth, and for still others who are yet in Babylon and darkness!
We called attention to the fact that the harvest work for a time was confined almost exclusively to the Brethren, but that latterly the Lord is opening up other channels. For instance, he is using the newspapers in all parts of the world, as his agencies for carrying the message of glad tidings to all who are still in darkness, but who are really at heart, and through consecration, his people. To us this indicates that the supply of consecrated harvesters is not sufficiently large, or that the Lord's people, blessed with a knowledge of "Present Truth," are not as zealous as they should be. For one of these reasons, doubtless, God is using unconsecrated talents and channels, rather than allow the harvest time to go by—rather than allow any of the brethren to be without the necessary light and assistance. We urged more love, more zeal, more of the spirit of self-sacrifice and devotion to the Lord, and to our precious privileges as co-laborers with him.
The evening service at Liverpool was extremely well attended for a week-night meeting, the number being estimated at 1,600. Had the large hall been more centrally located doubtless many more would have been present. The attention was excellent, the faces earnest and intelligent. Our topic was "Man's Past, Present and Future." The results are with the Lord. The literature at the door was taken with great avidity.
The dear friends to the number of about sixty sang to us from the pier, and waved to us goodbye, as we journeyed by the night boat to Belfast, Ireland. Our recollections of our visit are very precious and stimulating.
At Belfast about a dozen awaited our arrival. We were most hospitably entertained and enjoyed the meetings there. In the afternoon we met with the little class of about twenty, and spoke to them along the same lines as at our other stops, showing the difference between God's dealings with the Church during this age, introduced into covenant relationship to the Father by the great Advocate, and his dealings with Israel and the world during the thousand years of the great Mediatorial Kingdom and his ultimate acceptance of all the perfected and worthy of humanity to be his sons in full covenant relationship for eternity.
In the evening we addressed about 400 very intelligent-appearing people of reverent and Christian demeanor, the majority of whom were men. Our topic was "The Thief in Paradise; the Rich Man in Hell; Lazarus in Abraham's Bosom." We had a most earnest and attentive hearing, and, knowing that an opportunity for questions would surely be desired, we opened the way. Fully one half of the audience remained, for the questions were good ones, well to the point, and indicated earnestness and thoughtfulness respecting the subject discussed. The Lord blessed us in the answers to these questions by refreshing our memory with the appropriate Scriptures, which seemed to be convincing to the hearers.
The next morning we took the train for Dublin, accompanied by several of the brethren. At Dublin we were welcomed by as many of the friends there as could be spared from their business engagements—about eight. Soon we were with them in the little hall. About thirty were present. Again we rehearsed the precious things of the Divine Plan, especially the terms and conditions of our high calling to joint-heirship with our Redeemer in his Kingdom. Subsequently many of our number took tea together at a restaurant. From thence we went to the public service at the Ancient Concert Rooms, where an audience of about 400 assembled. Our topic was, "Man's Past, Present and Future in the Light of the Bible." Many evidently were quite deeply interested. We trust that some hearts were touched with a greater appreciation of the "love Divine, all love excelling," and that to these the Father's character was to some degree cleared of the aspersion cast upon it by the creeds of the dark ages.
After the meeting closed an opportunity was granted [R4649 : page 231] for questions. The secretary of the Y.M.C.A., who was present at our meeting a year ago, was present this time also, and with more questions, and with about half a dozen ministerial looking associates. They all gave precedence, however, to a Dublin rector widely known as a man of ability, we were told, and also a College Professor, and also a religious disputer. He plied us with a number of questions, which we were very glad to answer. The force of our answers lay in their Scripturalness, and indeed, so far as possible, we answered in Scripture language. The questions continued for about an hour, and the entire service for about three hours. We considered that the Truth had vindication, and that the eyes of some were more widely opened. We thanked the Lord for the ministry of his Word, and thus closed our last discourse on British soil.
The next day, Saturday, we left for Liverpool, reaching our homeward-bound steamer in ample time. About thirty of the friends got passes to come aboard the vessel, but about ten others failed to get them and waved us goodbye from the landing. As our vessel steamed seaward, the company of about fifty joined in singing, "Blest be the Tie that Binds," and "God be with you till we meet again"—a happy and inspiring conclusion to our European visit!