ANSWER.—I answer that the man Christ Jesus does not to my understanding mean the Church. The man Christ Jesus who gave himself, to my understanding, points back directly to Jesus our Lord when he was a man, and at his baptism he there gave himself up and God accepted him there as the Mediator between God and the world. Not that he did the mediating work there; no, not at all. But he there became the Mediator. It is true that he was born to be Mediator when a babe, but he was not so recognized then. Only after consecration was he recognized of God as a Mediator. This is the one whom I delight in. Why? He is to be the great King, the great Priest. What will he do as King and Priest? He will mediate between God and the world. Will he make a successful mediation? O, yes; "Times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord and he shall send Jesus Christ who before was preached unto you, whom the heavens must retain until the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets." Will he always maintain this position of being the man Christ Jesus, or will he in some sense of the word share this with the Church? I answer that according to the Word of God a Body is being gathered from amongst the world, which is the Church, and it is to share with him his Kingship and his anointing descends on his Body members who are anointed to be kings on his throne. As his Body they share also in his anointing as the great High Priest, as pictured in Psalm 133, where [Page Q452] we read that the oil was poured upon the head of Aaron, the high priest, and it ran down even to the hem of his garment. This represents that all the Body of Christ is anointed, and they are the Christ, or the Messiah, because they were anointed, because the word "anoint" means "Christ." So if, as the Apostle says, "Ye have received the anointing," it is because you are a member of the anointed one. If anointed to be the Mediator, then you are anointed also as Kings and Priests that you may participate with him as members of that great Mediator which will do his great work between God and men during the Millennial Age.
ANSWER—God was manifested in the flesh of Father Adam, because He made man after His own image (Gen. 1:26; Gen. 5:1; Gen. 9:6). Man was not made to sin. The Bible explains that sin came to mankind through the fall. Sin and selfishness coming in warped and twisted our judgments, so that now, the Bible declares, "There is none righteous, no, not one" (Rom. 3:10). Though God is not a fleshly being, yet when He made man in the flesh, in His own image, Adam was a manifestation of God in the flesh. And so Jesus, when He came into the world, leaving the heavenly, spiritual glory which He had with the Father and becoming a man, was a manifestation of God in the flesh.
God is, of course, manifested in all human flesh to some extent; but in proportion as the original likeness of God has een lost, men are not in God's image—not a manifestation of God in the flesh. But if we become New Creatures, by the begetting of the Holy Spirit, we have a new mind, as the Apostle declares. Our minds are given up to the Lord, our wills given up to His will; and by reason of this submission of our will to God's will, the Apostle tells us, we gradually acquire the spirit of a sound mind. We have not sound bodies, but our minds become more and more sound by reason of their harmony with God's mind. God's mind is a sound mind, and as ours become submissive to His we become sound-minded. Whoever is guided by the Lord's Spirit has the mind of the Lord, and God will be much more manifest in his flesh than before such a one became begotten of the Spirit and this new mind had taken control.
So we see that it is a very reasonable statement to say that each Christian, in proportion as he receives the Spirit of the Lord, and grows therein, becomes more and more sound in his mind. He becomes gradually a copy of God's dear Son, and therefore a copy of the Father; for Jesus is the Father's express image. The Christian who is growing in the likeness of Christ becomes, therefore, more and more a manifestation of God in the flesh (2 Tim. 1:7; Heb. 1:3.)
Q452:2 QUESTION (1909)—2—(John 14:2), "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." Did Christ mean that He would prepare a place for the disciples, or that He would prepare them for the place?
ANSWER—The picture before my mind is this, that our Heavenly Father has many different arrangements or parts [Page Q453] to His plan. There was one order or department of cherubims, another of seraphims, and another order or arrangement for the angels. As for the earthly arrangement of man, this was made for him, but there was no place yet provided in God's universe for this New Creation that He intended to develop, so our Lord said, "I will go and prepare a place for you." He has made it possible for us to enter in with Him, as we read, "If we suffer with him we shall also reign with him." If He had applied His merit to the Jews under the New Covenant then, the blessing would have gone that way, and there would have been no place for us at all, but He went to apply same on our behalf, and gives us the opportunity of sacrificing with Him and of sharing in His high nature. It is true also that he is preparing them for the place.
ANSWER—Our Father's house, in a large sense of the word, signifies the Universe, and the different members of his great family. He has one part of his great family on the angelic plane, we do not know how many; he has another part of his family that are seraphim and cherubim, and we do not know much about them. He has other parts of the spiritual family that the apostle Paul seems to refer to, but we do not know what these distinctions are; it is not revealed; but merely that there are different orders or grades of our heavenly Father's family on the spirit plane. Besides the church is to be on the spirit plane. Then he has also another part of his family of the human kind. Now he has made provision for all of these different families. He had already made provision for the angels; they have their plane, their status, their condition, assigned to them. So God has provided for mankind; the earth was made for man. But now was a new thing; the Lord Jesus came and called a church, and that church with himself is to constitute a new creation, and there was no place for a new creation; it was to be an entirely new creation. So our Master, who was the first-born of this new creation, when he ascended up on high left us word that if we would be faithful as his members he would go before us and prepare a place for us, and he tells us what place it will be, that it will be a place in the divine nature. Saint Peter says God has given us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these—by these promises working in us to will and to do God's good pleasure—we might become partakers of the divine nature. All who become partakers of the divine nature will have that place in the Father's mansion that is next to the Father's abode—the Father, the Son, the Bride, the Lamb's wife, and then all other orders under those.
Q453:2 QUESTION (1910-Z)—2—What typical significance is there in the fact that when the waters of Marah were found to be bitter, and the Children of Israel had no water to drink, Moses caused a certain tree to be cut down and thrust into the stream, and thus sweetened the waters?
ANSWER—As a result of Adam's sin there was nothing permanently refreshing for God's people to partake of. Those [Page Q454] who desired to be his people, those who left the world behind them, found a great deal of unsatisfaction, if we may so express it, from the provisions of the law, which brought only condemnation. In due time, however, God caused the death of our Lord Jesus, and through or by means of his death—through the message of the ransom sacrifice—those who drink of this fact, this water, will not find that brackish taste.
We might say that it would not be unreasonable to consider that there is a correspondency of this at the present time. During the Dark Ages the water of life became very much polluted, and, as a consequence, undesirable. When we came to the waters of the Lord's Word and found that they were brackish and impure, nauseating, not wholesome, the Lord in his providence showed us more clearly than we have seen in the past the great doctrine of the Ransom, the reason for the cutting off of our Lord Jesus in death. Here was the manifestation of Divine Love and Mercy. And since we have realized this truth; since the truth has come in contact with and purified the message of the Dark Ages, we can partake of it with refreshment and joy.
ANSWER—The Little Flock has consecrated not only to be obedient to all the demands of righteousness and justice, but they have agreed with God that they will do his will at any cost to themselves, whether justice should demand it of them or not. What you must sacrifice is something beyond what justice does or could demand. Just so with our Lord Jesus. Justice could demand that he keep the law, but Justice could not demand that he sacrifice his life. God demands that every man keep the law, but never demands that we should present our bodies a living sacrifice; it is an invitation. God does not invite you to keep His law; he says that if you do not keep the law, thus and so will be the result; there is my standard. So God sets before you and me this standard, that we should love the Lord our God with all our heart, and mind, and soul, and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves. But you say, We cannot keep the law. No, we cannot, so far as the flesh is concerned, but we can keep it in our minds and hearts. We must do so. Anything short of that is to come short of the law of God and to find ourselves unworthy of having any eternal life. So it must be with the Great Company. They cannot come short of this standard of the law of God. They have agreed to do more, but they must come up to the standard of love. That is the standard for the world in general during the next age, which they will be obliged to come to. If they do not attain to that during a thousand years, they will not attain eternal life at the end of the thousand years. Now then, dear friends, don't you think the world will be a pretty nice set of people? I think they will be fine. When Jesus gets through with the work I tell you it will be well done, and humanity will be a [Page Q455] fine representation of the power of God, and godliness in humanity.
ANSWER—To my understanding, any of God's people, not merely those who are in present truth, but any of God's people, who may reach the mark of character development that we sometimes designate as the mark of perfect love, it is required of them that they shall maintain their standing at that mark of perfect love, and not be moved away from it by the trials and difficulties that will assault them after they have reached that mark; and I would understand some of them might temporarily be moved away from the mark, and might by the grace of God recover themselves, and still be of those characters that the Lord would count worthy of a share in the prize. But I could see that some might be so thoroughly driven away from the mark into such a wrong condition of mind or conduct that they would sin the sin unto death, and never have any future. And I could see that some others might, after being at the mark of perfect love, fail to have the proper zeal, and, without especially leaving the mark, find that they might fail to maintain their standing as zealous followers of the Lord, and be counted worthy of the Great Company class.
Q455:2 QUESTION (1908)—2—Do the Scriptures teach that the Church must finish its course before they begin to fight as soldiers, or are we not to fight while we are running the race to the end, so we may finish with joy?
ANSWER—There are different Scriptures which seem to present different thoughts to our mind. The subject has many sides. Just the same as if we were to take a picture of this building. We would say, What does that Auditorium at Nashville look like? One picture would be from here, and it would take in the Confederate Gallery; another from there, and another from here. They would be different pictures, but all would be pictures of the Auditorium. Then you go out and take a front view, and then to the side and take a side view, and to the rear and take a rear view. So the Lord and the Apostles have given us—God has given us by His Holy Spirit through these various channels—various pictures of truth, and of our experiences in life. One of them represents us as running the race. Now you have got to run for something. You do not keep on running forever and then just die the very moment you have gotten to the end of the race. While it is true the Scriptures do set forth in some places that we keep running, and our Christian race in some respects is like a race course all the time, in that we must never stop in our endeavor to do right, there is another picture, which seems to be a very proper one, that we run for a mark. Suppose that table is the mark. What do you mean by the mark? Why it is a mark in the sense of being something that we must reach. I run for that mark. I stop here, half way to the table; suppose I never went farther than this; I never reach the mark at all. Now there are a good many people I think never reach the mark [Page Q456] at all. It is important for us to see what the mark is, so that when we run we may run wisely and not merely as beating the air. It is not how much effort you can put forth, but you want to do it for a purpose; there is something to be gained; there is something to be grasped. The person running aimlessly is like the person running around some road. "Where are you going?" "I don't know." He could not run very long that way with energy, but if he knew he was to take a certain course, and wanted to get back to a certain starting point which was fixed, and wanted to see how many minutes he could do it in, then he has an object in view, a motive in mind, and he can run better. So God sets before us a certain mark, and we are to run to that mark. Now when we have gotten to the mark, what do we do? Why, having done all, stand—stand at the mark; do not run away from it. Is it going to be hard to stay there? Yes. There will be a good deal of endeavor to put you away from the mark after you get there. The Adversary will try harder to put you away from the mark than he did in preventing you from getting to it. There is an intense fight coming after you get to the mark. There is a certain amount of shielding done before you get to the mark, but after you get to the mark, that is where you have our severest test. Another picture is, "Put on the whole armor of God." Where do you get the armor? God's Word. You put on this armor, put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand. Now while I am putting on the armor, the Lord grants me a measure of grace and protection that I shall not be assailed before I have had time to put it on; He gives me a reasonable time in which to put it on. He will not allow me to be attacked beyond that I am able to bear; so I have a certain measure of time in which to put it on. Now I have on the armor—and what? Now fight. You say, what is the mark for which we run? Why this, dear friends. There is a certain mark of character which God will accept, and nothing short of that character, and if you do not have that character you can never be in the kingdom. It is not just anything that God is going to take into the kingdom; He has set a certain standard and made it favorable for you and me to reach that standard; He has promised every assistance, but He expects you and I will manifest interest and strive and labor that we may get to that standard. What standard is set before us? How little will do? No, that is not the thought. We ought to have the desire of doing all that we can, and then more; never be satisfied with our attainments. But you can readily see that there is one standard you cannot be short of and get into the kingdom, because God has determined this. You remember that positive statement of the Apostle Paul in the eighth chapter of Romans that, "God has predestinated"—that is a strong word. What did God predestinate? That all of those who will be in the little flock must be copies of His Son; if they are not copies of His Son, they cannot be in the kingdom. That mark, you see, is a copy of God's dear Son. Until you are at that mark of being a copy of God's dear Son, God's predestination is that you cannot be of the elect; and if you do reach there and maintain that stand that you may be one. Now the mark is a very important thing, is it not? In our hazy way of reading the Bible at one time we did [Page Q457] not see the mark or anything else; it was a kind of blind way of doing. We did not know what God had said. We had not paid enough attention to what God had said. We had read the catechism and were confused. Now we have come to a time where we will see what God says in His Word, and He gives us Christ as a pattern, and as an example. Do you mean to say that we must all be like Christ? Yes, we must all be like Christ. But Christ was perfect; must we all be perfect? I did not say like Christ according to the flesh, my dear brother; I did not say in what way like Christ, but this is the way: Our Lord Jesus was perfect, and you are imperfect, and I am imperfect; we can never be like Christ in the flesh; but that is not the way in which the Lord is testing us. He says, Ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of Christ dwelleth in you. He is not judging you according to the flesh, but according to the spirit. What about our flesh? Why, your flesh is reckoned justified, the merit of Christ has been appropriated to you according to the flesh, covering all those blemishes and conditions; as between Christ and perfection in the flesh and your imperfection in the flesh, the merit of His sacrifice is imputed to you and to me to cover these blemishes. Don't you see then that reckonedly your flesh is perfected, while actually your flesh is imperfect. But now then the object of God reckoning us perfect is that we may present ourselves living sacrifices. According to the divine will no sacrifice might come to the Lord's altar except it was without spot and without blemish. Our Lord Jesus was the Lamb of God without spot and without blemish, and He was the acceptable One. You and I have spots and blemishes according to the flesh, and the Lord says you cannot come to the altar with those. What must we do? We must get rid of them. How? They must all be covered. What will cover them for us? The merit of Christ's sacrifice, imputed and applied by faith. This covers all those blemishes. Why, Brother Russell, are we acceptable to God's altar after that? That is exactly the point, dear brethren. That is what the Apostle says: "I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God (He having forgiven your sins and provided this covering for you) that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, your reasonable service." Holy? Yes, holy. What have we done to make us holy? Christ did the thing which makes you holy. The word "holy" means "whole or complete." Christ's imputed righteousness makes us reckonedly whole, complete from sin, and from blemish. So then, according to the flesh you are no more, says the Apostle, but you are in the spirit, you have ceased to be from a human standpoint, you sacrificed that humanity as your reasonable service to the Lord; you count yourself henceforth as a new creature, begotten through the Holy Spirit. Now this newly begotten new creature in Christ Jesus, a member of the body of Christ, you see, is a different person from the old, and so the Apostle from this standpoint could speak of himself as the old "I" and the new "I." He says, I, and yet he says, not I. Here is the old and the new. Here is the new Paul and the old Paul. The old Paul, according to the flesh, is reckoned dead; the new Paul, according to the spirit, is reckoned alive. So then, this is our glorious position that we as new creatures [Page Q458]may offer our sacrifice, and as new creatures are acceptable to the Lord, and may fight the good fight and may win the victory, the Lord helping us all the way through. But as new creatures we must get to this stand, we must not stop; as new creatures, God tells us there is a mark, a copy of God's dear Son. Are you up to the mark? Oh, says someone, I never expect to be up to the mark until my dying moment. What makes you think you will be any nearer the mark at your dying moment than the day before? There is no reason whatever. You see, this mark is a mark of character, and you and I ought to get to that place in character. How do you mean? In this way: What was the character of Christ? In what way did He offer a sacrifice? In this way: Lo, I come in the volume of the book it is written of me, to do thy will, O God. Thy law is written in my heart. That is his standpoint—full consecration to the Father's will, nothing short of it. And must you and I come to that? Yes. Well, what is the Father's will? The Father's will is that we should conform, according to heart, not according to the flesh necessarily, but the best you can do according to the flesh, but according to the heart you must keep His will, and His will is, that you shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy being, and with all thy strength. Can we come to that? I think so. The Lord says so. We can in our minds. With my mind I serve the law of God, says the Apostle, and with my flesh, to some extent I serve the law of sin; but the flesh is reckoned as dead, and the Lord is not judging according to the flesh. If we have the mind of Christ we will do the best of our ability in the flesh, endeavoring to keep it under in harmony with the Lord's will. But we are not being judged according to the flesh, but according to the spirit, according to the mind, according to the new creature. So here we have it, dear friends: With your mind you serve the law of God—all your heart, all your mind, all your being, and all your strength. If so, you are at the mark. Do you love your neighbor as yourself? Yes, you say. I love everybody and like to do good to everybody, and glad of it. Then you have really come to love the brethren? Yes. And you love God? Yes. And you love all mankind? Yes. Don't want to do harm to anybody? No. You don't want to do any wrong or see any wrong? You love them and would like to see good done to them? Yes. Well, I guess you must be at the mark. That is what the Lord puts as the mark. That is what Christ did. He loved the world and gave Himself for it. He loved the Father and laid down His life to do the Father's will. He loved the disciples; thus having loved his own, He loved them to the end. So that must be our spirit, and as soon as you get there, so that you love everybody, and love your enemies, you are at the mark. It is harder to love your enemies, but you must love your enemies; the Lord said so: "Do good to them that despitefully use you." If you have not reached the point of loving your enemies, you are not at the mark of the prize, because none having a less standard can be of the elect class at all. They must be copies of God's dear Son, and that is the copy; that is the mark. If you have not gotten there, run and get there as quick as you can. Let everything else go in life and get to that point. Someone may say, there is just one person [Page Q459] that I cannot love; he is an enemy, and he has spoken such and such a thing. Never mind what he said or did; you are not living for yourself, are you? You are living for the Lord. Now the Lord says, Put away all that evil, and envy, and everything else that is wrong in your heart, and get your heart to that condition where you will love them, and would like to do good to them. That is getting to the mark. After getting there, then what shall you do? Then stand. Why, that is nothing to stand there, that is easy enough. But wait a little while; stand there a little while and see. You will find that the Adversary will get at you in various ways, and the Lord will allow him to get at you in various ways. He will do various things to make you do otherwise than love your enemies, and love the Lord, and love the brethren, and the world. He will do everything he can to turn your mind from the glorious standard of Christ. You will be assaulted in a thousand ways, more than you were on the way to the mark, because on the way the Lord protected you and said, I will not permit you to be tempted more than you are able; but when you get up to the mark you were able to stand. Then I will allow you to be tempted as much more as you are able. He knows how much you are able, and He wants to test you as much as you are able because all of those who will be of that elect, glorified class must be thoroughly tested and proved, and it must be demonstrated that they have loyalty to God and to the brethren, and love in all of these high and noble respects.
ANSWER—If the husband were perfect and fully in relationship with the Lord, and the wife the same, then there would be no difficulty, and there would be no such question here. But that is not the case, and my thought would be this: that, according to the laws, and according to the general usage, a husband in marrying a wife undertakes to treat her as his partner, and he does this without any respect to the property which she may have in her own right, unless there be some specific declaration or contract to that effect. But if there be none, the understanding would be that the man has taken the woman to be his companion and become responsible for her care, without any respect to property she may have. This would mean also that there would be reasonable conditions between the husband and wife, and if the husband were sick that the wife would not only use means if she had any to provide for the family; also if she had no family and he as the natural protector was not in condition physically, it would be her privilege to lay down her life in serving him in any kind of work that was necessary.
But suppose the question of necessity was out of the way, and the husband is abundantly able to provide for both and does not need what she may have in her own right. My thought is this, that she should consider that she is a steward of that money that has come to her individually and personally, and that she has a responsibility to the Lord, and her husband should co-operate with her.
ANSWER—We have no position to take, dear friends. That matter is not for anyone to decide but the individuals themselves. I would have no right to say that you should marry, nor that you should not marry; that is your business, not mine, nor anybody else's business. Millennial Dawn merely said what the Apostle Paul said eighteen hundred years ago: "He that marries does well, but he who marries not does better." Now, if I should talk all night, I do not think I could add to what the Apostle said, neither would I have the right or the inclination to change it. You and I have no right to meddle with their affairs. If they are our children, then we have a right to advise. If they are underage, then we have a right to tell them that we will guide them until they are of age, but when they are of age the parents must not interfere further than to advise. Whoever tries to be officious in this matter only brings trouble upon himself. Let us leave the matter where God leaves it, namely, with themselves.
Q460:1 QUESTION (1909)—1—Why is the idea so prevalent and so inconsistently acted upon by the brethren, as well as among the world of mankind, that because a man is the head of his house he is necessarily a petty tyrant, especially in the matter of the marriage relation?
ANSWER—I presume that the reason it is frequent is because it is frequent; that is all I can say. I think, however, that all those who are in Christ have the mind of Christ, which seeks to avoid anything like tyranny. Of course, something might he called tyranny which is not tyranny. One should learn that the power the Lord would have him exercise is the power of love. We give you the best advice we can in the 6th Volume of Scripture Studies. We disapprove of anything like tyranny. There is generally a more excellent way, and that way is not tyranny.
Q460:2 QUESTION (1910-Z)—2—At this late date what do you think about marriage by those who claim to be fully consecrated? I think a timely piece in The Watch Tower treating the propriety of marriage would do much good. It seems that many do not understand their privilege in sacrificing their little all.
I have certainly enjoyed The Watch Tower, especially of late. The expositions on the Great Company and what is meant by a full consecration have caused me to make some careful self-examinations and more earnest prayers, inquiring of the Lord whether or not I have made a full consecration of my little all, and am I being faithful in my stewardship. Yours in the Lord.
ANSWER—We quite agree with your sentiments, dear brother, that the time is short, that all the consecrated need every talent and every moment for the service of the King, to demonstrate to him their love and loyalty. We quite agree that many marriages have proved disadvantageous spiritually. We do not know that all have done so.
Anyway, we have no option in the matter. The Lord's Word clearly declares that marriage is honorable in all. It is not, therefore, the province of anybody to forbid marriage, directly or indirectly. The most we are privileged to do is [Page Q461]to call attention to the words of St. Paul, a Divinely inspired instructor for the Church, whose admonitions have brought blessing to us all many times. He says, "He that marrieth doeth well. He that marrieth not doeth better."
For our part, therefore, we leave the matter in the hands of the dear friends, content to point out the Apostle's advice, not forgetting that there might be instances in which this general rule might not apply. It is for each of the Lord's people to decide this matter in harmony with his or her own judgment and convictions. "Let us not judge one another, but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block in his brother's way."—Rom. 14:13.
ANSWER—We answer, No! Marriage is an arrangement that God instituted for a very special purpose, and with the human family only. The object of the separation of Mother Eve from Father Adam she was formed from one of his ribs' was, the Scriptures tell us, that a race might be produced. Marriage means merely the union of these two recognizing each other as one; and so the Apostle says, "I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the Head of Christ is God."
There is no arrangement in God's Plan to have any of those on the spirit plane male and female. According to the productions of Art, there are no male angels; but according to the Scriptures, there are no female angels. Possibly the reason why so many artists have supposed that angels are females is that there are more women in the Church than men. But the entire idea is erroneous; for angels are an entirely separate order of beings from mankind. Man never was an angel and never was intended to be an angel. Man is of the earth, earthly. He fell from the position of king of the earth and became a degraded being; and the Divine intention and promise is that when Messiah shall reign humanity shall be lifted up from sin and degradation and brought back to human perfection.—Acts 3:19-21.
The only ones who will become spirit-beings, as are the angels, are the Church class—those begotten of the Spirit, those who in the resurrection will be given a change of nature. As the Apostle states, "We shall all be changed," for "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God." (1 Cor. 15:51,50.) Therefore the First Resurrection, in which the Bride only has part with her Lord, is different from the resurrection of the world. Of those who will have part in the First Resurrection we read that "they shall be priests unto God and shall reign with Christ a thousand years." (Rev. 20:6.) Flesh and blood cannot be a part of that Kingdom. Therefore they must all be changed. We do not expect that Jesus will be changed from spirit to human nature; but that the Church must be changed from human to spirit nature, for they "shall be like Him and see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2) and share His glory and be His Bride. When the Church shall thus be changed, all the peculiarities of male and female will be obliterated, for there [Page Q462] is neither male nor female amongst the angels; and the Scriptures tell us there will not be in the glorified Church. The perfection of spirit being will be one. All will be alike, sexless.
As for mankind: We think the Scriptures clearly indicate that Divine provision for mankind will be that they will all be sexless when perfection shall have been reached. That is to say, at the close of the Millennial Age, all having been gradually perfected, each sex will, in their development, have taken on more of the qualities of the other; during that Age the woman will gradually add to her womanly graces the qualities that belong to man; and man will likewise gradually take on with his manly qualities the finer sentiments and qualities of mind and body that belong to the female. Thus man will receive again that which was taken from him originally, represented by the rib. So all will then be perfect; and they will neither marry nor give in marriage; for all will in this respect be "like unto the angels."—Luke 20:34-36.
ANSWER—During the time of the Millennium, during that thousand years, the angels will not marry or be given in marriage. They never have been married, and they will not be then, and the church will not marry or be given in marriage, because they will be like unto the angels in that respect, being without the sex peculiarity. And as for mankind, the Scriptures do not clearly indicate that. They do tell us that whosoever shall attain to that age, or to the resurrection from the dead, will neither marry or be given in marriage. To attain to the resurrection seems to mean progressing until they reach the full resurrection. In other words, the resurrection does not take place the moment the person is awakened from the tomb, but his resurrection is only begun, and every step he would take in progress toward full perfection he would be having more of a resurrection, until he would be fully perfected, and then his resurrection would be complete; he would be raised clear up out of sin, imperfection and death. Now when they reach that full development, being fully raised up, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. And as to what will take place during the Millennium, I could only give you a guess, because there is no Scripture on the subject. My guess would be that this matter would be gradually getting less and less. That is only a guess, and I make a distinction between my guess and what the Scriptures say.
ANSWER—We answer, this is a picture. There is the invitation, the bridegroom coming and going into the marriage, the door shut, and the marriage taking place. The union between Christ and the Church is thus represented. When will it take place? When the last member of the body shall have finished his course and has been changed into the [Page Q463] glory of the Lord, then the marriage will be consummated; that is, the union will be consummated. Will they have a supper, and sit down with knives and forks and chairs and have something to eat? No, not that kind of a supper. We are having a feast here at this convention, dear friends, without knives or forks. We are having a feast on God's Word and truth. Our Lord represents it as a great feast, a great time of blessing; we don't know what it is. He gives us some pictures drawn from earthly things to give us a suggestion merely that there is something grand beyond power to describe. Who will be there? We answer the bride of Christ will be there, the bridegroom will be there, and the virgins, the bride's companions, that follow her, will be there. They are represented as a great company. They also, says the Prophet, shall be brought near to the presence of the King.
Thank God the great company is going to be invited to share in the marriage supper of the Lamb, to share in the glorious blessings and favors of God, which will make their hearts rejoice, and compensate them for all their trials and difficulties in the present time.
ANSWER—I think it is very nice. Every word of God is good. No objection. I never forbid to marry, and if anyone thought I did, it is a mistake. I would merely say with the Apostle that he that marries does well, and he that marries not, does better. And as to the abstaining from meat—judge for yourself how much is good for you, and the kind that agrees with you best.
ANSWER—It would seem to me that none of God's people would wish to show any indignity toward Mary, the mother of Jesus. If they did, I would think they were making a very great mistake. It might be, however, that some unconsciously would seem to cast discredit—not that they mean to do so—but seeing that our Catholic friends make Mary out to be nearly as great as her Son, therefore the natural revulsion comes in, and the natural inclination to take the other side of the matter, and to say that she was not, and that she was not immaculate, etc. So that is the only way I could account for anything that would seem like a lack of proper honor to Mary, the mother of Jesus. I believe that all Christians should honor Mary very highly. I am sure I honor her very highly. I think that God honors her very highly, and everyone whom God honors I wish to honor, be it man or woman. So in the case of Mary, I am very glad to honor her. She must have been a very fine, noble woman, else the Lord never would have used her. But we would not subscribe to the Catholic theory that she was born immaculate, that she was born without sin. If so she would have been a perfect woman. I suppose the Catholics claim this in order to account for Jesus being born perfect; they think [Page Q464] his mother would need be perfect. In that they have overlooked a principle of nature. In the first place she could not be born perfect because she did not have the perfect life to begin with, for her father was not perfect. Secondly she could not be immaculate. In the case of Jesus, he could be born perfect, because his Father, the one from whom his life came, was pure. This Holy power of God that came upon her was the means by which the child was given life, personality, soul. Here we have sharply defined before our minds, then, the fact that the father is the life-giver, and the mother is the life-nourisher. All that Mary had to do with our Lord was to provide the necessary nutriment by which he would be sustained and brought to birth; that was her part, and God chose a good woman, no doubt.
ANSWER—We answer that the tract on this subject will be better than we can give in a few minutes. However, we will say briefly that the evil spirits which were condemned at the time of the flood, of whom Peter refers when he speaks of the "spirits in prison," in the sense that they are restrained of the privileges they once enjoyed—they have not been permitted to materialize since the flood. The Scriptures say that they were restrained in chains of darkness UNTIL the judgment of the great day. That word "until" seems to imply that when we reach that time, then the restrictions are broken.
Our thought is not that God will release them from their restraints, but that God will permit them to deceive themselves in that they have found a different way of materializing aside from Him, and this is what the spiritualists claim. I don't know anything about it, however, and I leave them alone—I would not go to one of their seances for any amount of money.
No, I am not afraid of them, but I am afraid of the Lord. My reverence for the Lord would say that I should have nothing to do with them. I believe that those who put themselves in the way of their seances, materializations and manifestations, are running a great risk.
I want to say that I am not accusing the mediums of being in league with the spirits, because some, so far as I know, are genuine mediums, doing a genuine work and think they are communicating with the spirits of dead human beings. I mean that to them their work seems to be genuine. The evil spirits palm themselves off for the spirits of dead ones and thus deceive mankind, and so it is that the theory is kept alive that, when a man is dead he is more alive than ever. The whole heathen world is under their dominion. So Paul says that they that worship these worship demons and not God. Then he spoke of some of the doctrines of devils. All of these are pernicious to the Church, and they take pleasure in deceiving God's people. Our expectation is that they will think they have broken over the restraints that God put upon them in the days of the flood, and then with this thought that they have found a way of getting around God, they will materialize as they did in the days of the flood. Our spiritualistic friends, not that I am [Page Q465] friendly with them, but the people who are deluded by spiritualists are all my friends, and all who are under the delusion are my friends, and those that are not under the delusion are still more my friends—our spiritualistic friends expect this power to grow and that they will materialize and walk the streets, and it will not surprise me if they get that power. They are bound by the chains of darkness until that time, then God will wink at this, partly to test them to see whether all these centuries of experience, in which they have seen the origin of sin, and have had a glimpse of God and righteousness, have taught them the needed lesson. He will allow them to do this, to think that they are circumventing His plan, also that they may have a part in bringing the great time of trouble in with which this world or age will end.
Will they appear in fleshly bodies in the Church as teachers to deceive the saints? The Lord said—and it is so much better to have what the Lord said than anything that Brother Russell might say—if it were possible, they would deceive the very elect, the Saints. That would imply that it will not be possible, but that it will be possible to deceive everybody else than the Saints; hence the importance of being Saints and of keeping very near to the Lord.
ANSWER—I would not agree to that proposition. The Scriptures put the whole world under the Mediator. Every person except the Body of the Mediator himself is included in this. The Mediator comes to stand between these. During all the Millennial age they will all be under that Mediator. There will be no communication between God and the world until the end of the Millennial age. The world will be justified by their works—actually. The Church is in a different condition. When Christ's Millennial Kingdom is established He will deal with all the world and bring them up, up by resurrection and restitution—up to all that Adam had—to all that Adam lost, and in that perfect condition they will be prepared to be delivered over to the Father. During the Millennial age He will not deliver them over to the Father for the Father appointed Him to be their Judge, to be their King, to be their Mediator—and everything centers in this, for Christ and the Church are one. It will mean to the world justification. Justification means to make right—to make just. What was Adam at the beginning? He was a just man. When he sinned he became unjust, he became imperfect, he became fallen. Justification means to be lifted up to that place of perfection where all will be obedient. This is what Christ will do for all the world. They will be justified every man according to his works. So then the whole world at the end of the Millennial age will be in that condition where they may be delivered to the Father. If any man now would be delivered to the Father it would mean his destruction, but when the world shall be brought up by the Mediator and turned over to the Father perfect they will need no Mediator because they will be actually just—not merely reckonedly. So you see that during the Millennial age not only the goats will need a mediator, the sheep will need [Page Q466] a mediator also. It was because God saw that some of the world would be sheep that He made this arrangement. The goat class that will be destroyed will be the ones that will not profit by the arrangement. As we have been taught, the world, neither sheep nor goats, will have any dealings with the Father—only at the end of the age will they have any dealings with the Father.
ANSWER—The word "mediator" in our English language might be used and often is used in our common conversation in a different way from what it is used in the Bible. That is, you might sometimes say, "I occupy a position as a kind of mediator in our home. That is, all difficulties are settled through me." This is one way of using the word but it is not the scriptural way. In the Scriptures every use of the word "mediator", is in connection with a covenant. I have not always used it so in the past. I have used it in a loose way not noticing that the Bible always uses the word in connection with a covenant. Christ is the mediator of the New Covenant. So hereafter I will use it in that restricted sense. If you find I have written anything else you will know it is a slip and not intentional. A mediator stands between two parties to see that justice is done to both parties. Suppose you and I were to build a house. You agree to build it for $15,000, terms and conditions laid down. It is usual in such a case to have a "mediator," and the "mediator" in such a contract is usually termed an architect. Then we have an architect—a mediator—who draws up the plans and the terms and you agree to take these specifications. Again, in any business transaction, if you make a note for some reason, there is a contract given. You agree to bind yourself by that. Now that is a covenant or contract between us. Where is the mediator? The law. In every such case where two parties are concerned the mediator sees that everything is right. Christ has redeemed the world and He is to be a Mediator in the matter of dispensing certain blessings. Jehovah agrees to take and accept these people of the world through this Mediator. Christ agrees to bring the world up to perfection—He stands between God and them. He represents them to God. He can stand between them and Jehovah and give them all the assistance by virtue of the sacrifice He has already made. He carries out the provisions of the New Covenant to the world, assuring the world and giving God assurance, and in the end of the age will turn them over to the Father perfect—restored to the perfection lost in Adam. An advocate is your attorney—he is not the other man's attorney—he is never for any side but your side. He has the right to go into court because he is a member of the court. You cannot go in any time to court, but you must have an attorney to appear there for you. You are at liberty and in good standing—you are not condemned by the court, but you must get a lawyer thoroughly conversant with our laws—you must have an attorney. An attorney is not a mediator, but your representative before the court. So the Church has an advocate with the Father. "If any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." [Page Q467] What will he say for us? He will represent to the Father that we have imperfections but He knows our hearts are right and this would be a proper case for leniency. We have forgiveness of sin through faith in His blood.
ANSWER—We do not claim that ever a man was the mediator; we claim that the Mediator is the New Creature, the glorified Christ, that Jesus as a man could not be the Mediator, He had to lay down His manhood as a sacrifice for sin, before He would have a right to use His blood or merit, to seal the New Covenant, and there could not be a New Covenant without this sealing, neither could there be a Mediator, and so necessarily the Mediator must be the risen Lord. So the Church in the flesh is not the Mediator of the New Covenant. After both the Head and the Body shall have passed beyond the vail, then on the spirit plane, all the merit of course centralizing in the Head, they with him will be the Mediator. Just the same as when I am looking at your face, I am not addressing your hands, and I am not looking at your feet and I am not addressing them, neither your head without a body, but I address your head, and when I do, I include your body. So, the Lord Jesus is the Head and He will have a body, which He is now preparing during this gospel age, and that whole body will be with Him as Mediator during the Millennial Age, and then will be the mediatorial kingdom. There can be no mediatorial work between God and men until the Body of the Christ is complete and the mediatorial kingdom begins, and it will last through all of the thousand years, then the mediatorial kingdom will be at an end, because then Christ, not merely Jesus the Head, but also the Church His Body, will deliver up the Kingdom to the Father.
Q467:2 QUESTION (1913)—2—"One Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus." Please explain further your thought expressed of Christ the New Creature in connection with this statement, the man Christ Jesus, mediator.
ANSWER—The Apostle's words were, There is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time. Jesus is this mediator; not that He has yet done the mediating work; He is the one who purposes to do the work, just the same as if, for instance, President Wilson were here, but the time had not yet come for his inauguration, and if he were known to be elected, then we could speak of him and say, Mr. Wilson, who is the president. Some one might say he is not yet inaugurated, he is not president, but he is president-elect; he is the one already voted for; there is no question about it, he is the president-to-be. So in the case of Jesus, the Apostle points back to Jesus and says the man Christ Jesus gave Himself, He is the one who is to be the Mediator, He is the Mediator, He has begun His work as Mediator, because His first work as Mediator is to kill His sacrifices, and there He had already done this work as respects His own sacrifice, and for 1,800 years He has been killing the sacrifices of the goat which represented His [Page Q468] Church; and this work of killing the goat class, the members of His Body, he has been doing for all these 1,800 years, and He is all of this time a Mediator, the Mediator who is killing His sacrifices, and it is not until He shall have finished all of this work of killing the "better sacrifices" that He will have the blood of atonement which will be used as the sealing power for that New Covenant. It is the New Creature that is attending to all of these sacrifices, Jesus and the Body of Jesus in the flesh. When He shall have finished the work of sacrifice, then He will take off the robes of sacrifice and will put on His glorious garments as the priest did the garments of glory and beauty. Then He shall have accomplished the whole work and be ready to bless the whole people, and all the families of the earth will be blessed by that great Mediator standing between God and men.
ANSWER—I presume, dear friends, it is not the thought that I should take this text up in detail, for that would take all the remainder of our time for this one text. It is very thoroughly treated in the 5th Vol. We must therefore be brief to give proper share to the other questions. "There is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself." This points out Jesus, the individual, and at the time he gave himself he was the only one. There were no members of his body. He gave himself a ransom for all. That ransom work is the foundation of everything. That first work Jesus did alone, and you and I have nothing whatever to do with giving this ransom price, because this was a perfect man's life given in exchange for a perfect man and you and I are all members of the first man and condemned because of him, and could not give a ransom for our brother in any sense of the word. Jesus has not yet become the mediator. He will not be the mediator till the time the New Covenant is ushered in. Yet in another sense he is the mediator, just as when he was born a child at Bethlehem, "For this purpose came I into the world" but he had not taken a kingdom as a child and had not a right to become a king till he came to maturity and gave himself in consecration, and not then till fulfilling his consecration at death. Yet prophetically he is spoken of as king as a child, and just so as the mediator. He is to be the mediator of the New Covenant. Before Jesus came God said He would make a new Covenant: Jer. 31:31. The Lord said to the Jews, "Behold the days come when I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah—I will put in them a new heart and take away the stony heart. All that is to be the work of the New Covenant and it is to have the beginning with the house of Israel and the house of Judah and extending to all the families of the earth. The house of Israel and the house of Judah are out of favor with God at the present time.
The special New Covenant referred to by the Lord, "Gather together my saints unto me saith the Lord, those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice," this Covenant of sacrifice is what is counting now. Jesus was the first one of these saints to consecrate and deliver up His life in obedience to the Father's will. He opened up the way so you and I might offer our bodies sacrifices acceptable to [Page Q469] Him. This is the work of the present time, and all this company will be members of the great mediator—one mediator. The body is not complete yet. Only Jesus had passed beyond the veil. He was the head. God raised up Jesus first and He is raising up us also by Jesus; so the whole Church of Christ is being raised up. "A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that every soul which will not hear that prophet shall be destroyed from among the people." That great prophet we see to be the great mediator of the Millennial Age. The New Covenant between God and man, the world of mankind. Jesus was the first raised up. At the time the Apostle wrote those words Jesus was the only one. Now the members of the body of Christ Jesus are being raised up to the head. We hope to be members of the Christ in glory; then the mediator will be complete and the work of the mediator will begin.
ANSWER—To be meek is to be teachable. To be humble is to be not proud. Now a man might be a great teacher, might be learned, might be very meek; so that any person might be able to come to him and say, Here is a matter I have, look at this, and if he is sufficiently meek he would say, I would be pleased to look at it, and if he was not he would say, The idea of you coming to me! I am Professor Soand- So. You have met such people sometimes, noble characters, that were very meek and teachable, ready to learn, always after the truth; they say, I don't know everything, and I may learn from a child. Any wise man may learn something from a child. But anyone who is not meek finds it difficult to learn anywhere. Therefore, Blessed are the meek; they will have more of God's blessings; they are not too proud to learn. Now to be humble is to take your honors, or your knowledge, or whatever it may be, and to wear these in a humble manner, not boastful, not parading in some way, not strutting about like a peacock, showing all your bright feathers. A turkey gobbler is not humble; he is proud.
Q469:2 QUESTION (1907)—2—What would you advise in regard to the Pilgrim meetings? Would it be advisable to spend much money for advertising and for hall rent at this period of the harvest? Or would it be better to give the service more especially to the interests of those already in the faith? To what extent should the Pilgrim direct in this matter?
ANSWER—I would answer, dear friends, that my thought would be, answering the last question first, the Pilgrim should not attempt to direct in the matter at all. That is not the Pilgrim's business. We do most of the directing of the matter from the Watch Tower office. Pilgrims are supposed to be carrying out an outline of policy that is there laid down, and their acceptance on the Pilgrim staff implies that they are pleased to do so. It does not imply bondage, but implies the taking up the staff under those conditions, and implies they are pleased with and recognize the regulations there made as being under divine supervision. So I [Page Q470] would say that the Pilgrim would have nothing whatever to do with that matter. I am not aware that the Pilgrims do, but if any of them have done so, I suppose it was done inadvertently.
Now, as to what extent it is advisable to advertise, I would say this: We prefer to leave that in the hands of the friends themselves. Do as much advertising, or as little advertising for these pilgrim visits as you choose. Consider that a part of your stewardship; that is what you are to attend to. The Society attends to another part, that of sending the Pilgrim, seeing to his expenses, etc., and the Pilgrim attends to another part. If each of these do their part, everything will be done right. So you see that leaves the responsibility with each party to do what he believes, according to his own judgment, will be the Lord's will.
Our advice would be that there be not very many public meetings, because the special object of these visits of the Pilgrim is, to minister to the household of faith, and the public ministrations are not always the most beneficial thing for the household of faith itself. So we always urge that if there be both public and private meetings, the public meetings be not allowed to take all the time, but rather be at least half or more than half given to the matters that are of special interest to the household of faith.
ANSWER—Well, I think it proper to have both. We have many opportunities and need not confine ourselves to one. The Berean lessons would, perhaps, be better for the more public meetings, and might be a little more orderly, and then you could have the Dawn Studies for the evenings.
I would advise in this connection that none forget the prayer and testimony meetings, for they are amongst the most profitable meetings that the Church enjoys. In the proportion that they are prosperous, we can generally see that the spiritual condition of that class is good, and therefore as far as possible, don't forget the prayer and testimony meetings, but do not make the mistake of having the testimonies along the line of things which occurred years ago. We suggest that you have a subject for each week, and have the testimonies as far as possible along the line of the subject. In some places, they use the weekly sermons as a basis for the prayer and testimony meetings, and they try to see that their testimonies bear along the same line, and thus having it in mind during the week, they will look for some experience in harmony with that subject. In the New York church, they take for their weekly prayer and testimony subject, the Sunday afternoon discourse, and then they watch their experiences, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday—four days—along that line. If it is on patience, for instance, then they will note to what extent they have cultivated patience, and they generally find that there has been some experience during that time. Then after Wednesday meeting, they have the same thought in mind until the next Sunday, thus always having it fresh in their minds. There is an advantage in that, which is to bring us all up to date, and I think you will all find this in your experience that you drifted and hardly knew that you were drifting, so far [Page Q471] as Christian experience is concerned, but now today, we want to have some Christian experience, it is practically a day lost. So, you see that, by looking for these experiences, we find that for which we look. If you do not have something of the kind before the mind, you will not have such an experience, and you will scarcely know how the Lord has cared for you, or what experiences you have had. We have found these very profitable.
Q471:1 QUESTION (19l0)—1—In what order would you suggest that a class which has two meetings on Sunday and two during the rest of the week, making four meetings in all in the seven days, hold the meetings, and what line of studies and in what quantity would you suggest to them?
ANSWER—My advice would be that the middle of the week would be a good time to have the testimony meeting,—meeting for praise, Christian fellowship, and getting near to each other. It is not merely testimony, but it is the sympathetic union of hearts that is obtained at such meetings, it should be remembered. Then I should think that such Berean studies as we have suggested would be all right. Then it would depend on the material in the class, and so forth, whether it would be best to have an attempt at a public discourse or not. In some cases that would be just the proper thing, and in other cases I think it would be very unwise. I think we should recognize there is such a thing as natural qualification for teaching, and that only those who are apt to teach should be put to teaching; that any one who has not an aptitude for it had best not attempt to teach, but to fall in line more with something like a Berean study. Even there it requires a great deal of teaching ability, and the leader needs to study how to bring out the class. I do not think it would be proper for me to enter into and give advice with any great particularity respecting the character of these meetings, more than I should think a testimony meeting is good for one meeting a week. Some of the Berean studies are also good in the way that the classes find to be most to their spiritual advantage, and the class should be invited to express themselves, and if necessary to test the different ways so as to find which is to them the most interesting and most profitable. And especially I advise the elders and deacons not to try to run the class and to rule over it, but to assist the class and to help it in the way in which the Spirit of the Lord seems to lead.
Q471:2 QUESTION (1910)—2—In reference to that first meeting you recommend. In going from place to place, find that the brethren hardly understand it. They take a subject and discuss that subject for a testimony meeting. Is that the proper thought, or what is the thought?
ANSWER—About a testimony meeting—what is a testimony meeting? Our suggestion to the friends at Allegheny, for instance, at that same meeting I referred to before, was, that they would have in mind the Sunday afternoon discourse as being kind of a seed thought for the week; that when they would come together on Wednesday evening for the testimony meeting, they might have as much experience as possible circulating round the text of Sunday afternoon, [Page Q472] so as to get all the benefit of what they heard on Sunday—all their own experiences interweaving with that subject, so it would be very thoroughly before their minds by Wednesday night. And when they would meet on Wednesday night, whatever incidents or experiences of life they had, whether with the grocer or butcher, or what not, in their business or in their private study, whatever would be interesting along the lines of the subject of the Sunday afternoon discourse, that would be the testimony they give as a part of their Christian experience; and if they had no experience that interlaced with the Sunday afternoon subject, then they could give whatever they did have; but preferably if it were related to the Sunday afternoon subject, so that subject might be impressed on the heart and stay there forever. Then after the Wednesday evening meeting the same thoughts could be continued in mind up to the next Sunday, thus getting the benefit of the whole week's concentration of thought, and getting it thoroughly masticated, and digested, as it were. And that is the way they found it profitable. Not merely taking up the subject and discussing it—that is not a testimony meeting at all. A testimony is telling of one's own experiences in connection with some subject.
Q472:1 QUESTION (1910)—1—In case of a small class, where there is no brother to officiate, what is the method to pursue in teaching the Berean studies or Tabernacle studies—where there is no brother at the head of the class?
ANSWER—I think they should do without a brother. I have already suggested in the sixth volume, brother, in answer to a question like this, that if they like they can consider the author of the volume as being present with them, as represented in that volume.
ANSWER—Surely. The only point about the sisters is this: It does not say a sister might not instruct sisters, but Paul said, "I suffer not a woman to teach, or usurp authority over a man." It does not say she may not teach children and sisters, but the Apostle is saying that when men and women are in the Church of Christ, side by side, it is an impropriety and out of harmony with the type and picture that Christ is the head, represented in the men, and the Church is the body, represented in the women; and that it would be improper for the woman to teach, as implying the Church was teaching Christ. And so he has outlined this as being the divine will and we are following that. But for the sister to put the question and to open the meeting and engage in prayer, it certainly is entirely proper.
ANSWER—My thought would be that it might not be best to invite a visiting brother other than those accredited by the society as pilgrims, or specially introduced to the class, [Page Q473] because it would establish a sort of a precedent. And, secondly, that the elder is not put in that position to determine who shall lead the class, but merely that he himself was appointed to lead the class, unless he feels very sure that the congregation would like to have such a brother; then he ought to sink all personality and he should ask the class whether or not they would like to hear from such a brother at such a time. I think that would put the responsibility for the matter in the hands of the class and relieve any strained relationship there might be, and save the class sometimes from getting into trouble. Because if it were the custom that any visiting brother should always have the preference, then it might be disadvantageous, for the class has not elected that visiting brother, but the one that was elected, therefore the class should be the one to say whether or not any one else should be the one to address it,—unless it has given some special liberty to the leader.
ANSWER—It would be the class that should decide. That matter is to be left with the class. Now, if the class only selects one elder, then that is the class's responsibility; that means that the class did not find others whom they thought were qualified to be elders. For that elder in turn to say that he knew better than the class, and to appoint somebody else, would be discounting the judgment of the class, for the class said it did not find anybody else fit to be an elder. It said that when only electing the one elder. But if the class said we will only elect the one elder but we wish that elder to use his judgment and bring forward some of the other brethren of the congregation and to use them in different ways, or invite them to serve in a different capacity, then the congregation has turned that much responsibility over upon the elder and he may use just what the congregation gives him and no more. It would be the proper thing, however, for the congregation in that case to elect the others to be deacons and then say to the elder brother of the congregation, please consider that these deacons are to be brought forward as you are able, for in electing them as deacons we thought we saw qualifications that are calculated to bring them forward, perhaps by and by to some still more important service of the Church. And Saint Paul says they that use the office of a deacon faithfully purchase to themselves a good reward; that is to say, in being faithful as deacons or as servants in watching out and serving, whether it be the luncheon or something else, they are showing the proper spirit for service in the Church, and thereby they are showing that they might be trusted with some other service. But if any deacon is ashamed to serve the congregation in passing fruit, or milk, or something else at a luncheon, he is not suitable for a deacon, and he would be unsafe to be an elder.
ANSWER—What would we consider the most important meeting for a little class of Bible students just beginning? [Page Q474] I would think, brethren, one of the most important meetings would be a prayer and testimony meeting once a week. I know that will not strike all the dear friends, but I will tell you what our experience was at Pittsburgh, that you may have the benefit of that. Some thirty years ago, or twenty years ago at least, I saw the apparent need of the Church for more of spirituality and I saw that there was a greater disposition to eat strong meat than to take some of the nourishment of the other kind, and I suggested to them that I thought it would be very advisable if they would set apart one night in each week- -Wednesday evening I suggested—as being a proper night for a praise, prayer, and especially a testimony, meeting; I suggested that the testimony be not as we have been in the habit of having perhaps in previous times when we were in the various denominations, but that the testimony be fresh, up to date, the experiences of the week—not the experiences of the past. What experiences have we had during this week? What effect has the Sunday text had in our lives? To what extent have we been able to put it into practice? What experiences that stand related to it—either failures or successes—have we had? The dear friends, I could see, were not very anxious for it; they doubted that to be the best kind of a meeting; they were afraid it would be very stale and monotonous, and they would say everything one week and would have to repeat the same thing the next week. They did not see the point you see—keeping it a fresh, up-to-date, testimony meeting, but through appreciation of your servant, the speaker, they voted as I suggested, that we would have it for a while, or for three months at least, and we would have nothing else than the testimony meeting every Wednesday night, and at the end of that time we would have a vote as to whether we wished this continued. The result was this: When we came to take a vote, they had come to love the meeting considerably but still they were not any too enthusiastic, but when a year had gone by they were very anxious, and now I am sure that very many of the dear friends of the Pittsburgh class would tell you that if any meetings in the whole week had to be dropped out, they would rather hold on to the testimony meeting and lose all the others rather than that one, so helpful did they find it. I believe that is the experience of many others, and I know that it is contrary to what many of you would be inclined to think at first. But I believe you will find it so; that there is a kind of spiritual feast which we get through communications one with another in testimony meetings, if they are up-to-date, and the leader may make it interesting by bringing out the question and letting each one have his turn—beginning at one end, for instance, and giving each one present an opportunity to testify; that they all get to appreciate it and it brings a great blessing to all of their hearts.
Now, secondly, my thought is that the next most important meeting would be something in the nature of a Berean study. Why? Because there we have questions brought out that if there is a good leader will be very interesting to the class. Now that is all a leader is for. The class might get along without a leader unless he has some aptitude in the matter of bringing out things, and a leader that does all the talking is not the successful leader, but it is the [Page Q475] leader that can get the others to talking; and there is the danger of his feeling he is not talking enough, and that he must do more talking. Well, that is a little ambition; a little pride perhaps is there; now he should sink all individuality, and all pride and ambition, in his desire to do good to the flock; and whoever succeeds in getting all of the Church enthused and interested in the questions and getting them all brought out, so they will get a thorough understanding of the questions and of the answers, and after he has had the expressions on the question from the class, then sum up the answers, or have them read from the book, or whatever way is found to be the better one—that is the successful leader, and that will be a successful class, because they will come to understand the subjects and to appreciate them. But it is another matter altogether if you do not have a proper leader. If he wants to talk all the time, or does not know how to draw out the class, he is not a proper leader for such a meeting. That is the part to be studied. If any of us have been unsuccessful in the past, let us study how to interest people, to put the question this way, and that way, and to get them interested, and not to brow-beat them. I know there are some who take the other way and say, "Well you do not understand your lesson at all, you have not studied this lesson." They are not there as children to be brow-beaten; they are there as brothers and sisters of the Lord; they come there and want to he helped maybe; some of them have not had a sufficiency of time to study. Let them feel that by the next meeting they want to know something about the answers to the questions, so they will be prepared, and not have to say "I don't know." You see there is a different way of getting at the matter. Now it is for the leader of a meeting to study as the Apostle says, "Study to show thyself approved"—as a leader. Paul was not writing to all the class, he was writing to a leader, Timothy. "Study to show thyself approved, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed"—bring the matter out properly, rightly divided, and not only rightly divide the word, but also in respect to the lesson, bringing everything out. All of that goes in, you see, as part of a leader's proper course. And it is for him to study this and see how best he can get at it, how he can enter sympathetically with all the class into the whole question, and not stand aloof from them and treat them as if they were lower but as brethren. You will find that those who go right in as one of the brethren have the most influence with the flock. That is what you are. Are we not all sheep? Certainly. We are not merely shepherds, doing a shepherding work, but we also belong to the sheep. The fact that the Lord has given us the privilege of speaking for him, as his representatives in the flock, does not alter the fact that we are still sheep. We are not lords over the flock, nor over the heritage. We are still sheep and want to still continue to have the sheep-like nature, and to manifest it. So then I would think that the second meeting in importance would be a Berean study. Now the Berean studies, you know, can be of different kinds. As, for instance, we are running a series of Berean studies in the Watch Tower, a number of questions each Sunday. I find that a good many of the classes are not keeping up with the lesson. I think they are making a mistake. Some of them have said to me, "Well, we are away back, Brother Russell, [Page Q476] in the fifth volume, we were back in some other volume. Then we caught on and we have been going along keeping about a mile behind." That is their business; I am not going to find fault; it is not within my province to do so; it is for the class; if that is what they want, God bless them, let them have it; but my advice would be that they keep up with the procession. There is some advantage in marching near the drum corps. You get the step better, and the whole thing moves better. The band is at the head and you are going on all together, and it is nice, you know, to think that all of the dear Lord's people, wherever they are, are right along in the same lesson.
Now perhaps that is merely a matter of sentiment, perhaps it is of no real importance, and yet every little matter of sentiment has its weight and influence in the whole matter. My advice would be not to skip lessons that are in between where you are and where the published lesson is, but that on the contrary you have that for another evening and get caught up with the other. Start in on a lesson with the present subject and keep up with it, letting the other one come along in another meeting until you have finished the fifth volume. I believe you will find that good advice. But I say, it is not for Brother Russell to dictate, nor for anybody else to dictate. Do whatever you think is the Lord's will. If you think the Lord wants you to do the other thing, do it. And in any event let us remember that it is neither for Brother Russell to decide what the class shall do, nor for anybody else of any class to decide what they shall do, but it is for the class itself to decide. And I think there is an important point that some of the dear brethren overlook. They feel too much the importance of the eldership, in the sense of ruling. That is natural, you know; they cannot help it; but keep it down; it is the old man who is trying to get up; keep him down; we are all on a level as New Creatures; and we would say, "As New Creatures I want all the Lord's flock here, all of this class, to have their say, just as much say as I have; we all have a right." And you will find, again, that even if the class would not rebel against what you do, yet they will appreciate it if you watch out for their liberties and their rights, and if you consult them they will appreciate it. Now I do not suppose there is a class anywhere that will do more for any elder, or submit to more from any elder, than the Brooklyn congregation would submit to if he tried to over-ride them; but they have the first time to find, either at Pittsburgh or at Brooklyn, where Brother Russell ever tried to over-ride the congregation. He never did it, so far as he knows. He has given them his advice, just as I am now giving it, but not attempting in any manner to coerce, but simply to have the congregation, after being informed, to vote according to their judgment, and to accept the judgment of the congregation as being the Lord's judgment in the matter.
Q476:1 QUESTION (1911)—1—It was recently intimated in the Watch Tower in regard to the Bible Class extension work that not less than six meetings be held in any one town. Would it be well to have six meetings in one place when at [Page Q477] the second meeting only two or three interested ones come out to the meeting?
ANSWER—No, I answer, if no people come out, I would not continue the meetings. Never hold a meeting if you are the only party there. You will have to judge as to how many would constitute a proper meeting.
ANSWER—This is supposed to be a pastoral work and not a work for the elders. One of the elders of the congregation at Brooklyn is charged with the responsibility of looking over the meetings and being an assistant to the pastor in that respect, and, with the pastor's consent, now and then a deacon is selected for this work, and other work. That is supposed to be the very object in electing a pastor, that he may have that supervision of the needs of the congregation and fill in here and there according as the need might be. But it would not be the thought there, or elsewhere, that anyone would be appointed permanently to a service which is the same as if he were chosen by the congregation an elder. It would be merely a temporary matter to fill an emergency and to give the deacon an opportunity of being tried out.
ANSWER—Our thought would be the contrary of that, that the Elders are the ones chosen especially to be the leaders, and that Deacons would be appointed to hold meetings only to fill needs, This is following the Scriptural precedent. The Apostle says that a Deacon who serves in the office of a Deacon, purchases to himself a good degree. That is to say, that if he is faithful in temporal things in the Church, loyal and faithful in looking after the welfare of the Church, manifesting himself as a suitable person in that way, he purchases a good degree of the confidence of the class, and they should consider him with a view of sometime appointing him Elder. Meantime, however, there are times when an Elder might not be available, and it furnishes a good opportunity to try the Deacons. I think this should always be cultivated in all of the classes. Elders are the elder brothers in the Church, not necessarily in age, but especially in spirituality. A spiritual eldership of character is their qualification, no matter how old or young they may be. One part of the mission of the Elders in looking after the welfare of the class would be to look out for the younger brethren, who might be qualified to serve as Deacons, to coach them, and if they have ability, to bring them forward in readiness for Eldership. In some instances I have found apparently a jealous feeling on the part of an Elder, lest someone else should have some ability and share the service. Such a spirit would surely be displeasing to the Master, and to the Elder's disadvantage; for he could not have a self-seeking spirit without doing an injury to himself. His solemn obligation is to look out for the welfare of the class and not [Page Q478] be self-seeking. Any brother having ability to serve should be elected. Don't be afraid that the work will run out. Everyone who has any ability to serve the Lord let him serve faithfully; let the Lord look out for the others. If we see anyone more competent to serve than ourselves, we ought to be glad of that better service for God. There is no danger that there will not be enough work. Class Extension and a hundred other ways of service are calling for laborers. God will use us in proportion as we have the humble Spirit.
ANSWER—I would not think that would be a wrong condition of heart. There are some who might have a special talent as teacher. A person might have a preference for that one who could impart the largest amount of instruction. I see no wrong condition of heart necessarily implied in that, but I do say this, that the class ought to seek in its elections to find amongst the brethren those who have the special qualifications, and are apt to teach, because that is one element of the qualifications for an elder, as the Apostle says, and any one who is not apt to teach should not be elected at all. However, there would still be the thought that there would be a difference; therefore, our suggestion has been to the friends, and our practice in Brooklyn is, that these different leaders be more or less changed about; as, for instance, one who would be leading a class for a certain length of time would be changed to another class, then to another class, changing all around, so as to give all the classes a chance to have the best and the worst.
Q478:2 QUESTION (l9l4)—2—A majority of our class wishes some of our deacons to lead the prayer meeting occasionally but some of our elders say it is unscriptural to have deacons lead meetings and that no one but elders should lead. Are they correct?
So we would say that the class on this occasion in our judgment, or rather the elders, erred in saying that none but an elder could lead a meeting. We think a very good plan would be that which the class suggested and the very fact that the class suggested it made it right and proper. The deacons are chosen for a service, and the Apostle said "those who use the office of deacon purchase to themselves a good degree" of what? Liberty in connection with the work. They are elected for a special kind of work but if they manifest that they have other talents they should be encouraged to use them, and the class should gradually come to know of them and might in time choose them as elders. If they never had any opportunity the class would never know.
I think what the class suggested was the very thing [Page Q479]they should do, and they might go even further and say that approximately so often a deacon should be called upon to lead the meeting or arrange it as the class sees fit, and the elders should be glad to help these younger brethren to use all of their talents and powers, and if they found that they had talents fitting them for eldership it would be quite proper at the election to say, I will nominate Brother So and So. He has been a very faithful deacon, and now I will nominate him as an elder. This would be a very nice thing for an elder brother to say. He should be helping his younger brother forward.
There is always plenty of work. Don't be afraid of getting too many elders. The "Harvest is great and the laborers are few." Go out yourself and do all you can and when God sees you are trying He will open up to you other doors.
Q479:1 QUESTION (1916)—1—Is it proper for the Elders to sit at a court of inquiry and cite any supposed to be walking in a disorderly manner to appear before then and explain their conduct? Or should the Lord's advice given in Mat. 18:15-18 be followed?
ANSWER—I agree with the suggestion of the question that it should be handled in harmony with the Lord's direction in the passage cited. The Lord's word does not authorize any court of the Elders, or anyone else, to become busybodies. This would be going back to the practices of the Dark Ages during the inquisition; and we would be showing the same spirit as did the inquisitors. The Lord has put the matter in a simple way and we could not improve upon it. The Bible says, "If thy Brother trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother." That should end the matter. However, should it not be successful, the Scriptures give the next step. We read: "But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word may be established." If the wrong-doer will give heed to the admonition of the two or three and stop his wrong-doing, that would end the matter. It would not be within our province to make any demand upon him or to endeavor to administer any kind of punishment upon him. We should remember the Word of the Lord, which says, "The Lord will judge His people." If he should need any punishment, we may trust the Lord to give it to him and not take the matter into our own hands. We should have confidence in the Lord. If we stop the wrong that is as far as we can go. But if the wrong-doer should persist in his wrongdoing and not repent, and if the matter be of sufficient importance, then we are to bring the matter to the attention of the Church for correction.—Mat. 18:15-18.
We should not bring any small or trifling matter before the Church. It is my judgment that three-fourths of the things that are brought to my attention—matters of this kind—had better be dropped; and nothing at all be done with them. However, there might be an exception in case the matter had gone beyond the individual, and had somehow involved the whole congregation. In such event, it might be impossible to deal with the matter in an individual way. Then the Elders might constitute themselves into a Board or [Page Q480] Committee, and get one of their number to look into the case and see if the wrong could not be stopped, or adjusted. When the matter gets beyond the individual, we have no advice beyond the Word of God. Let us be careful not to become like Babylon, and hold inquisition and mix ourselves up. The Word of God is our sufficiency, and we should follow it closely and thereby avoid confusion.
Q480:1 QUESTION (1916)—l—In a large Class, in case the Elders are fully occupied with service and the Deacons are all serving to the fullest extent their circumstances will permit, and there still remains a Class without a leader, would it be proper for the Committee on Class leaders—consisting of three Elders—to appoint as assistant a brother from the Congregation, known to the members of the Committee to be clear in the Truth and otherwise well qualified to act as leader?
ANSWER—I should think that would be the proper thing to do under the circumstances. It is proper for the Congregation to decide upon the number of Elders who are qualified to lead the meetings. However, should there not be enough provided, the Committee could hardly act otherwise than to select some one whom they thought qualified to meet the situation. However, they could not go outside of the appointed number by the congregation, except in the case of an emergency. Ordinarily, the appointed Elders should lead all the meetings; but in some cases a qualified Deacon might be appointed in an emergency, such as was indicated above. But it should be kept well in mind, that the number of qualified Elders should be designated to the Congregations, and their voice should regulate the meetings under ordinary circumstances. No departure therefrom should be made except in the case of an emergency.
Q480:2 QUESTION (1916)—2—When a congregation is large in number and it is deemed advisable to delegate to others a certain portion of the detail work—such as arranging for meetings, fixing time and place of meeting, and appointing the leaders for the various meetings—should such work be delegated to and performed by the Elders alone, as the overseers of the Ecclesia, or should the Deacons perform such duties with the Elders?
ANSWER—The Lord's Word gives us a great deal of latitude in such matters. It does not specify particularly what shall be the work of the Elders and what shall be the work of the Deacons. It leaves it largely to the convenience, we may suppose. The Elders should have in charge the spiritual work of the Church—the meetings and everything of that kind. They should be brethren suitable for public speaking; as the Apostle says, they should be "apt to teach." Now some are apt to teach in public, and therefore should be appointed for such work, whereas others are apt to teach in a private way, and should therefore be assigned to Berean Studies and meetings in the homes. Aptness to teach should be given a rather broad interpretation. It does not mean simply to give a declamation from the platform, but it means to be apt to teach in any way. Some think that if they are chosen to be Elders it means that they must speak in public. But this is not the case. Aptness to teach should include [Page Q481]both the public and private teaching; and some should be given the private work, and some the public work, whereas all should be apt to teach.
The Elders should lead all the meetings; for all the meetings are spiritual. If a person is not suitable to be an Elder, then he is not suitable to be a leader of meetings. Where, then, would the Deacons come in? The word Deacon means servant, and signifies one who can do any kind of service. As, for instance, he might have charge of the house in the way of janitor work, or he might have charge of the book department, or have charge of the volunteer work. Very many things could properly be given to the Deacons, and in many cases they can attend to these things better than any others can attend to them. Give them, therefore, the specific work which they can handle well. Sometimes business men can be used as Deacons, although they are not apt to teach. Such a one might properly be put in charge of the Volunteer work, being appointed Captain of that work, although he might not be able to do it as well as the Elder. This work, however, should not be given to the Elders; for the Elders will have enough work of a spiritual kind to do to keep them busy.
Now in regard to whether the Deacons and Elders should meet together. I would think it a very pleasant arrangement if the Deacons should always be made very welcome by the Elders at all their meetings; for a good Deacon is one who by his faithfulness to the various duties assigned him, may become approved and "purchase to himself a good degree." (1 Tim. 3:13); that is, a good degree of liberty. And he should be looking toward the possibility of being made an Elder, provided he should show growth and development for the work of an Elder. There is a work for the Deacons to do. Not merely should they serve the Elders but they should serve the congregation also. There are many branches of service in connection with the congregational work, just as there is plenty of work to do in connection with the Convention. There was much preparatory work incidental to this Convention; such as securing rooms, the making assignments of them, looking after interests of the Conventioneers, etc.
No doubt there was a committee appointed in connection with the Convention, and on such committee it would be well to have both an Elder and a business man. The Elders might do this work themselves, or the Deacons might do it. It would rest upon those who had the ability to perform the work. Some Brethren have a great deal of ability and some have very little. Take for instance the newspaper work. A Deacon might very well do that, if he were qualified.
The responsibility for spiritual things, however, properly rests in the hands of the Elders. Even as the inspired Apostle Paul, on the way to Jerusalem, stopped at Miletus and sent for the Elders of the Church at Ephesus. He said to them, "Take heed, therefore, unto yourselves, and to all the Flock over which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased by the blood of His own (Son)." (Acts 20:28). Their work was that of feeding the Flock of God. The Deacons could do other kinds of work. In all the Elders' and Deacons' meetings, the Elders should take charge of all the spiritual matters; whereas the Deacons might well have charge of the [Page Q482]temporal matters. They should give advice one to another in temporal matters. They should give advice one to another in such a combined meeting. One could give advice on business matters, and another could give advice on spiritual matters. Although the responsibility would be in the final vote be upon the Elders, yet they should be glad to have any suggestions of the Deacons before them at the time of voting. But while the temporal affairs of the Class should be in the hands of qualified Deacons, the Elders should be those well capable of giving them advice. The vote could be a mutual one, although the Elders are responsible for the outcome.
I understand you have separated your business meetings from all other meetings. This is well. Business meetings should ordinarily be separated from others. Do not leave the interests of the Church entirely in the hands of the Elders; for they might run away with the meeting. Keep certain matters in the hands of the congregation; for the responsibility of all the affairs of the Church rests finally in the hands of the congregation, though there are a great many things that may well be left the Elders and the Deacons.
Q482:1 QUESTION (1916)—1—Is it proper for the Deacons to vote at such meetings on such questions, or should this be left to the Elders as overseers? If there should be a larger number of Deacons than of Elders and all should vote, then might not the Deacons, instead of the Elders, control the business affairs of the Church?
ANSWER—The Elders should have to do with the spiritual things and should cast the vote; but the Class has to do with the number of meetings. Have as many meetings as can be properly led and attended. Some may not have been willing to give their consent to the addition of another meeting, but it would be well to consider the convenience and the prosperity of others. They might have need of another meeting, while you might have no need of it. Therefore it would be well to consent to have as many meetings as the congregation might think necessary for the development of the individuals of the Class.
In Brooklyn, if another meeting is desired, a report is made of it, sometimes to me and sometimes to others. In considering the matter we try to find out how many would attend the meeting. Unless there were enough to attend we would not recommend the meeting. We would not think it well to recommend a new meeting unless there were some seven or eight who could attend, and we should hope that this number might increase to fifteen. But should the number reach to thirty, we should then think it well to divide the meeting into two, so that a better development of each individual might be obtained. There are some of the Lord's people who are naturally backward; and where too many are present these would be neglected; whereas if there be few present, they receive more attention, and this tends to their development.
ANSWER—Some of the Brethren are very much given to by-laws, or rules. Now certain rules are, of course, necessary; for without them we would be anarchistic; and yet we must observe the law of love and justice. These two laws especially observed will regulate almost everything. Justice, however, must always come first. I am to be just toward you in everything; yet I am not to exact justice from you in return. However, you should not desire to do anything less than justice toward me, and surely I should do nothing less toward you. But while I hold myself to strict justice, yet I am not to require it of you. I may require less. With these two bylaws, Justice and Love, operating, we shall not need very many more laws. We could have too many by-laws; but these two kept steadily in mind will help out in a great many cases.
ANSWER—That would depend very much upon circumstances. We have found one of the most useful meeting that we know anything about to be the Berean Studies; and yet there might be some exceptional cases where that might not be the most profitable. In some cases a preaching service on Sunday night might be the most profitable; in some cases two preaching services on Sunday. These, however, would be exceptional cases. As a general thing I think the most benefit is derived from the Berean Studies; for they require that each individual shall make his own preparation and give his own answers. I am not intending to give specific advice, but general, and would leave it to each class represented here to apply what I say in his own way.
The Bible says nothing about how many or what kind of meetings we should have. That is left to be decided by the spirit of a sound mind. We should have in mind the profit and benefit of each member of the Class. We should "consider one another." Some might think they need more. If they should arrange for too many, they will gradually find it out by the attendance becoming too small to justify their continuance, being fewer than the number that had originally been arranged for. My thought would be that about three meetings on Sunday would be sufficient. But each must use his own thought, and then grant the same liberty and privileges to others to think and act for themselves. This is just and right. This idea of justice should enter into all the affairs of life; for justice is the foundation of God's Throne and should be the foundation of every Christian's deportment; in fact, justice should be the foundation of everything we do. If some in the Class want five meetings, then I would say, "All right; but I can't attend them all. However, I will vote for five meetings, if you want five, and think they will be fairly well attended."
Q483:2 QUESTION (1916)—2—The Los Angeles Ecclesia holds Sunday meetings as follows: 10:30 A.M., Sunday School Lesson in THE WATCH TOWER: 1:30 P. M., THE WATCH TOWER Study Article; 3:00 P.M., Lecture; 7:00 P.M., Berean Study Sixth Volume. Some say that we should have more meetings; some, that we have too many now; some say that we should have two discourses instead [Page Q484] of one. What is your thought as to the best interests of the Class in this respect?
ANSWER—In every case each Class should decide for itself. As for me, I think there is such a thing as having too many meetings. In this instance, I should not be inclined to add to the number of meetings already being held. If I were here and voting on the subject, unless I knew more than I now know, I should be inclined to have three meetings rather than five. Four are about as many as you could manage. While it might be different, there are surely a goodly number of the Lord's people who have earthly obligations toward their husbands, wives or children, who are not in the Truth, and to whom they owe something on the one day set apart for rest and change of occupation.
To a husband not in the Truth, and whose only day at home is Sunday, to find that his wife would be away too much on that day, it would appear as though she were neglecting him; and I am not sure but that you would take the same view under similar conditions; and a wife not in the Truth, seeing her husband very little even on Sunday, if he were to be away at meetings most of the day, would have almost nothing of his society. Surely this would not be right. We have sundry obligations of an earthly kind to our husbands or to our wives, as the case might be; and these ought not to be overlooked.
Now if the Class should hold ever so many meetings on Sunday, in some instances it would be wise for an individual not to attend all of them. Even in the case of an individual who might be able to give his entire day to the Lord, it would rest with him as to how to spend his time. He might desire to give a portion of it to the volunteer service, and another portion to some other part of the work—some to the Berean study, some to preaching. He would have to use his own best judgment in the matter. If the Class should have more than four meetings it would hardly seem wise; and even if all could get out to all these meetings, we should remember the Apostle's words, "Let your moderation be known to all." Moderation in respect to religious meetings, as well as in respect to other matters. We should remember that our strength is limited; and we should therefore have consideration for those who are dependent upon us—our husbands, our wives, our children, our neighbors, our relatives. We may have some obligations to all of them, but chiefly to the Household of Faith, and to our families, of course, for they come first.
ANSWER—The Scriptures tell us that Melchisedek was a priest and king at the same time. He was a character that lived in the days of Abraham. You will remember the account of his being of a city called Salem, which, being interpreted, signifies "peace." It was the city of peace and he was king of that city. It is presumed that Salem was a city representative of the kingdom of peace, and that the king was a type of our Lord Jesus Christ in the glory of his kingdom, when he will be the Prince of Peace, or the King of Peace. As a priest Melchisedek did not offer sacrifices; he was a glorified priest, and therefore as Aaron, the Jewish priest, represented our Lord in his sacrificial work; Melchisedek, [Page Q485] as a type, represents our Lord as a glorified priest, a reigning priest. In other words, here are two types; one presenting the earthly ministry of Christ, the sufferings of Christ, the sacrificing of Christ, and presenting the merit of his sacrifice to the Father, all typified in Aaron; and then the Church typified by the sons of Aaron, the under-priests, and their share in the sacrificing, filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ; whereas the Meichisedek priesthood represents Christ and the Church glorified in the kingdom of glory, able and willing to bless all the world and to establish the kingdom of peace, the millennial kingdom, in which all mankind will be blessed. There is very little told us about Melchisedek. The Apostle tells us that he was without beginning of days and without end of years. We do not understand him to mean that Melchisedek never was born or that he never died, but rather that as a priest he was typical, and that his priesthood did not come to him from his parents, as did the
priesthood of Aaron which descended from one son to another, but that his priesthood was an original priesthood; he had no parents in this Melchisedek priesthood, and he had no children in this Melchisedek priesthood; his priesthood was without any beginning of time and without any ending of time; and thus he typified Christ whose priestly office as a priest of the new order of the Millennial kingdom is not a limited one, and does not come to him by heredity, nor pass from him to another. Thus Melchisedek was a type.
Brother Harrison: May I ask one further question? The question was put to me very recently. I appreciate very much what you have said, but are we not safe also in recognizing the fact that the Jewish people were very strict and particular in their records, and that there was no record made of Melchisedek's birth, his parentage or his priesthood? Would not that come in there as somewhat explanatory of that Scripture which says that he was without beginning of days or end of years? You remember the Jews were very correct in their genealogical and chronological records? I just wanted information on that point if you please.
Brother Russell: The Jews did not pretend to keep a record of every person's birth, so far as we know. Perhaps there were such records, but they formed no part of the Scripture records. They were obliged to keep a record of all their priests, and that is the reason our Hebrew friends today could have no priesthood, because not a Jew on earth could prove he was of the seed of Abraham through the line of Aaron. He might claim that he was of the line of Abraham, but he could not prove that he was of Aaron. No Jew knows who may be the sons of Aaron today; so if they got their land back, and everything back, they could not re-establish their priesthood, because it requires that every priest serving at the altar of the Lord must be able to show his genealogy as a descendant of Aaron. This would not apply, however, to Melchisedek, because he was a different order of priesthood altogether. The Apostle is merely showing this in his argument, in which he introduces Melchisedek, thus: "When I tell you Jews that Christ was of a new order, you are inclined to be incredulous (understand I am paraphrasing); you say, Where is his record? He could not be a priest unless he could show himself to be of the tribe of [Page Q486] Levi, a son of Aaron. But I answer you Hebrews, and tell you that God gave another type. Look back there at Melchisedek; have you any proof that he was of the tribe of Levi? No, Melchisedek lived before the tribe of Levi was inaugurated. Have you any proof that Melchisedek had any relationship to Levi? No. Then there was another priesthood, and I wish you to see that this other priesthood of Melchisedek was of a higher order than the priesthood of Aaron, because Abraham, who was the father of Aaron, according to the flesh, paid tithes to this Melchisedek priest, and Aaron was in the loins of Abraham when he paid tithes, and this shows from God's standpoint that the Melchisedek order is a higher order than the Aaronic priesthood. Here, then, I tell you that Christ is a priest after the order of Melchisedek. That is the Apostle's argument. It is a superior order. You Jews are asking that I shall prove to you that Jesus to be a priest must come of the tribe of Aaron. The tribe of Aaron has nothing to do with this high priesthood. Melchisedek was a type of this, Christ is this one." I would not think the fact that there was no record would have anything to do with it.
ANSWER—Because it is a memorial of our Lord's death. And when the Apostle says, "This do until he come," we understand that the Lord's people are properly to remember the Lord's death as the very foundation of all their faith and obedience until the time when they shall be changed and shall participate with him in the better things beyond the vail, sharing with him in the first resurrection. We do it for another purpose. To our understanding, the Lord's supper not only symbolizes our dear Redeemer's body and blood, but it also symbolizes our participation; for the Apostle says, "The loaf we break, is it not a participation with the body of Christ? And the cup which we drink, is it not a communion in the blood of Christ?" In other words, the Apostle suggests that those who partake of the communion are showing that they are sharers with Jesus in his sufferings and in his death. We belong to the same body. So it is part of our present obligation, that we suffer with him now, in order that we may also reign with him.
ANSWER—I do not know that the word wine is used. The fruit of the vine is used, and if anybody prefers to think of the fruit of the vine as being grape juice, I have not a particle of objection; I think it will do for just the same purpose, and perhaps better than wine.
Q486:3 QUESTION (1911)—3—Is it necessary for all to be able to commit to memory the Scriptures that are needful to make us able to give to everyone a reason for our hope, and in order to be of the overcoming class?
ANSWER—No, my dear brother. I am afraid that if that were the test, many of us would fail; we have no thought [Page Q487] of that kind. What the Lord does expect is, that if you are truly loyal to him and study his Word, whether by repeating it from memory, or by turning to it in some way and telling why you believe those things, you will be able to show the ground on which you believe it. Not merely to say, "I think it is in our catechism." That is not any proof; nor is it any proof to say you think it is in the Bible; but find it, mark it, and make sure what you believe.
ANSWER—Both the same, my dear friends. Perfect obedience led him to sacrifice his life, and therefore his sacrificed life was the evidence of his perfect obedience to the Father's will. And it is the merit of that sacrifice that is to his credit and is the thing which he eventually will give as the ransom-price for the whole world, that the whole world may have restitution; and it is the merit of that sacrifice which he now imputes to your sacrifice and to mine when he accepts yours and accepts mine as his own.
Q487:2 QUESTION (1911)—2—Why is it essential that all of Christ's merit must first be used for the household of faith, and then all returned before any of it can be applicable for the world of mankind? In other words, why would not a part be used for each, the church and the world, at the same time?
ANSWER—Well, I do not know whether I can make it any plainer than I have already tried to or not. If I have failed to make it plain in the past, I fear I will always fail to do so. I do not know how I could make it plainer. If the questioner is dissatisfied with having it this way, he would have to take it to the Lord to find out why. I suppose those things are fixed because God fixes them so, and if we want to know why God fixes things differently from what we would imagine and think, we ought to go to him in prayer and ask him to satisfy us. If we are too much dissatisfied with his way, he will probably tell us to stand aside until the Millennial Age and he will show us then all about it, actually. Just answering the question briefly, I would say that these are two distinct classes; the church is one class and the world is another class, and the application of the merit is shown in the atonement day as being separate and distinct in those two classes. Now if a part of Christ's merit is given to the church to use so that the church may be justified, so that the church may join with Christ in sacrificing, then we might say that the whole sum is depleted by that amount. It might be supposed there is a sum there of a million dollars, and suppose you take out one hundred thousand of it, and use it for something else. While that $100,000 is away, you could not call the remainder a million dollars because it lacks one hundred thousand of being a million dollars. Now what Christ is giving to the church is enough to make up for the deficiencies of each one, and that takes a portion of the merit; it does not require all of the merit; it takes a certain portion of the merit that we might have this privilege of having our weaknesses compensated [Page Q488] for; and until all of the church has finished this work of using this imputed merit, the whole sum of the merit will not be there. Now what is the difference? Why the Lord is going to give, during the thousand years, during the great day of mediation, all of these blessings of restitution; everything is to be given to the world; he is not going to give them a part of it, but all of it in a restitution sense. But he needs to have a full amount there to satisfy justice on behalf of the world, that the world may get the full benefit of restitution. It is just as though the church were a separate class altogether. He is going to deal with the world and give them restitution. He is not giving us restitution. We are not getting restitution. He is merely making up to the church, imputing to you and to me, enough to make us satisfactory in God's sight; but he will need the whole of it when he makes application on behalf of the world because he is to give all his life to the world, restitutionally—not hold any of it back. Now if that is not plain, I know not how to make it plainer.
Q488:1 QUESTION (1911-Z)—l—Since Adam was a wilful and intelligent sinner, and was individually sentenced, and since the sentence has been executed upon him and he is now under that sentence, and now has nothing and is nothing, how much of the merit of Christ will be necessary for his release from his condemned condition?
ANSWER—We understand that Adam, having been tried and found guilty and sentenced to death, and having gone down into death under that sentence, has done nothing to liquidate his obligations in any sense of the word; and that it will require the full satisfaction of a ransom-price to set him free and permit him to have another trial. In a general way, this is, of course, true of the entire human family. As Adam's children we are dealt with as a race, instead of as individuals except in the case of the Church and of the Jewish Nation under their law.
During the Millennial Age there will be no imputation of Christ's merit to anybody, as it is now imputed to the Church. It is imputed to us for a special purpose—to enable us to offer acceptable sacrifices. In the Millennial Age no one will need the righteousness of another to make him acceptable. On the contrary, the whole world counted in as one, will be dealt with from that standpoint; and Christ, as the great Mediator, Prophet and King, will make satisfaction to Justice for Adam and all his children, dealing with them as one. After making satisfaction to Justice, and thus purchasing the whole world of mankind, the great Mediator of the New Covenant will put it into effect, and under that New Covenant the blessing will begin with Israel; but every member of the human race will have an opportunity of coming to perfection, as heretofore shown.
To get at the real gist of the question, we will put the matter in another form and say: If Adam had been living during the Gospel Age, to our understanding, he would not have been eligible to the offer of this Gospel Age—that it would not have been consistent with the Divine arrangement to have dealt with Adam as the Lord is dealing with the Church, because he as personally condemned, would have had nothing that he could present as a sacrifice. We, [Page Q489] on the contrary, have something to present—"Present your bodies living sacrifices." While our bodies are blemished, we have, nevertheless, some powers, and these we are invited to present. We have bodies which we are willing to coerce into submission. This is our hope—that we may be permitted to suffer with Christ, that we may be sharers in his glory.
The Apostle says, "Ye are not your own; ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body." (1 Cor. 6:20.) This seems to imply that we had something. Having recognized Christ as the center of God's Plan and as our Redeemer, we are called upon to renounce sin—glorifying God by consecrating our lives, our bodies, to his service. But if we had been the original sinner, and had been originally sentenced, we see nothing that we should have had that we could call our own that we could have given.
ANSWER—The righteousness of our Lord was His right-doing, His right conduct, His perfect character while He was the man, while He was on trial. The merit is the Divine appreciation, the Divine estimation of that character, of that right-doing. Since He ceased to be a man, our Lord has, of course, no righteousness as a human being. That righteousness which was His before His consecration and which He maintained, constitutes a merit in the Divine sight, which is imputed to the Church now, and which is to be utilized by Him in the blotting out of the sins of the whole world, shortly. It is a sufficiency of merit; for one man was sentenced to death, and, later, another man was passed upon as worthy of life. This merit, therefore, this value of laying down a life not worthy of death, is at His disposal in the Divine arrangement.
A correct view of the matter, we believe is this: The High Priest, Jesus, ascended on high and made imputation of His merit to the Church. Those who waited in the "upper room" for the Pentecostal blessing had presented themselves before God, desiring to be accepted of Him as sacrifices. They did not sacrifice themselves, they merely presented themselves for sacrifice. Thus we read: "I beseech you, brethren, that you present your bodies living sacrifices." The presentation matter is ours, not the Lord's; the acceptance of the offering as a sacrifice is wholly the Lord's—the High Priest's work. With the acceptance of our flesh as a sacrifice we cease to be as men and henceforth in the sight of God and of each other we are living members of the Anointed One—the High Priest.
The High Priest accepted the Church as a whole through its presentation at Pentecost. And in harmony [Page Q490] with the Scriptures we come into this favor or grace, which remains open until the last member of the Body of Christ shall be perfected and pass beyond the veil. The work beyond the veil will not be ours as under-priests. It will be the work of the High Priest to sprinkle the blood of the Lord's goat as He sprinkled the blood of the bullock. The figure of the "Bride" is to be distinctly eliminated in any thought of sacrifice, and is to be merely associated with the Redeemer and Bridegroom, as joint-heir in His Kingdom. The figure of the under-priests is the one which applies to the Church in respect to all sacrificial matters.
ANSWER—A robe is a covering. The wedding robe of the parable represents our Lord's merit imputed to His people as a covering for their blemishes or imperfections of the flesh. This robe takes cognizance of the Church as the prospective Bride who acknowledges the Headship of Jesus her Lord. Another figure represents the members of the Church as wearing white robes and hoods or bonnets, the illustration of the under-priesthood. In this figure the priests represent the brethren or Body members and indicate that they are not independent, but under and subject to the Headship of Jesus.
The robe of Christ's righteousness imputed to the Church as a covering for her blemishes and to make her acceptable gives place to or becomes transformed into a robe of her own righteousness, in the resurrection. As our Lord Jesus is represented as robed in white linen, so the Bride is pictured as arrayed in fine linen, "the righteousness of the saints." The imputed robe merely covers our fleshly blemishes and imperfections in the present time.
The new body which God will give us in the resurrection will be perfect in itself and need no imputation of the merit of Jesus. The spirit body of those who will attain to the "first resurrection" will be absolute, complete, perfect, as was the resurrection body of Jesus. The robe of Christ's righteousness was imputed to cover our fleshly imperfections.
The new robe is to be embroidered. And this figure carries with it our endeavors at the present time to develop the character-likeness of Jesus—to perfection, in the spirit. As we read, "It (the New Creature, the soul) is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown in dishonor, raised in glory; it is sown an animal body (needing the imputation of Jesus' merit); it is raised a spirit body" (in full possession of a merit of its own).
Q490:2 QUESTION (1912-Z)—2—You have pointed out that no less than the full merit of Christ would be sufficient for the sins of any individual of the human family. How, then, shall we think of subdividing this merit amongst these various individuals composing the Church of the First-borns and amongst the individuals who will compose the restitution class of the future? [Page Q491]
ANSWER—The placing of the entire merit of Christ in the hands of Justice guarantees to Justice a full satisfaction for all the Adamic weaknesses of all mankind—even before that merit is specifically appropriated. And since the Church was a part of the world, for whom the sacrificial merit is a sufficient price, God could be just in imputing to each one coming in the name and merit of Jesus a sufficiency of His merit to make up for the imperfections and shortcomings; and so of this entire class—"the Church of the First-borns." The imputation of this merit to the Church as separate and apart from the world engages and obligates that merit for awhile in making good the imperfections of the flesh of the Church, so as to permit this class to offer to God a justified, and, therefore, an acceptable sacrifice.
But this is merely imputed or loaned to the Church, because the Church does not wish to keep the earthly rights of Jesus. The Church wishes to sacrifice its all and thus to follow the example of Jesus. And the great High Priest imputes to them enough of His merit to make the Church's offering acceptable when offered by the High Priest. When all of the Church of the First-borns shall have attained to the rewards of the spirit nature, all of the merit of the High Priest, Jesus, will he released, so far as they are concerned—the whole amount will again be free in the hands of justice, as it was when Jesus ascended up on high.
ANSWER—Well, we have already answered that question that so far as we are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, in my judgment, we are not to have any liberty at all for military duty. We are to be loyal to the principles of peace, and not fight for any earthly government if we can get out of it, and I think we can get out of it. We would rather suffer some and not go into it. But suppose someone would ask as I was asked the other day, What position should we take in respect to our neighbors and friends? And we say, Do you think it is wrong to have military organizations? Now some of our friends answered, "We think it is wrong. There should not be any army or soldiers." My answer would be different. I think this old world needs to have armies, needs to have trained men. The world needs it for its own protection. And if I was governor of a State I would think it my duty to protect that State, to protect the law and everything pertaining to order. If it should be necessary to call on the State or Nation to rise up and put down wrong, I think it would be my duty to see it was done. I am not faulting any governor if he should do that same thing. I am not faulting any man who takes up his gun to defend the interests of his State. If he doesn't think the Nation is worth fighting for he should go to some other nation. And if he thinks it is as good as any other nation he should stay right there. As for instance, you and I in these United States think we are in as noble a nation as there is, that the principles of this government are the very best and very wisest. And we might say pretty nearly the same of our friends across the border in Canada, that their principles are good and are well intentioned in a general way at [Page Q492] least. We are not therefore faulting people who wish to fight for their country. The difference between our position and theirs is this: We have ceased to be citizens of this country. We have joined another nation, and we are loyal to that new nation, and loyalty to the kingdom of God required that we take our stand upon this position in harmony with the commands of our King. We are aliens and strangers in this land and Canada, wherever we may be. But the world doesn't understand this. They say you were born right here. We say we have declared our intentions and joined a different country. So if a Canadian were in this country he would not be subject to draft as an American, and it should be sufficient to the courts of any country that if these individuals have given full allegiance to the heavenly country, that should be a sufficient answer to any government not to have them participate in war, and in some places this is being recognized.
Q492:1 QUESTION (1910)—l—"There shall be no more thence an infant of days nor an old man that hath not filled his days; for the child shall die a hundred years old, but the shiner dying an hundred years old shall be accursed." What does this statement of Isa. 65:20 signify?
ANSWER—I understand it is describing the time in the Millennium when the present brief span of life will be a thing of the past; there will no longer be infants dying a few days old. A sinner dying a hundred years old, accursed of God, dying the second death, would be but a child under that new order of things; just the same as would have been the case before the flood, when the average length of life was somewhere between 600 and 900 years; anyone dying there 100 years old would have been dying practically in childhood, because as a rule they were not recognized as being fully developed men and women until they were about one hundred years old. Many of these patriarchs, you remember, had their first child when they were from sixty to ninety and a hundred years old. So that would be my thought as to the meaning of this passage. It does not say none will die sooner than a hundred years. It might be some would be so incorrigible, and so opposed to the divine order of things, that they would die sooner than 100 years. But in a general way it is my thought that it is intended to guarantee to us that God purposes a hundred years of trial for every member of the human race. However, some of those have perhaps had some degree of trial in the present life, and if so it might make a difference in how much trial time they may have there; we do not know; it will be time enough to see when we get there. Let us not worry about the bridges that are not completed until we get to the stream.
Q492:2 QUESTION (1908)—2—I am asked to explain Mark 9:38,39,40: "And John answered him saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us; and we forbade him because he followeth not us, and Jesus said, forbid him not: for there is no man that shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our side."
ANSWER—I hardly know how to make it any plainer than it is. I think we have to believe it as it reads and not [Page Q493] explain it at all. If we explained it, we would have to explain it away, because it could not be made any plainer.
If any person is doing a miracle in the name of Jesus, we are not to interfere with him nor to forbid him; we are not to say, "Because you do not come with us, we will speak evil of you, or forbid you, or stop you." We will leave that to the Lord. If the Lord wants to stop him, He can stop him. It is not your business or mine to stop him. It is our business to try to attend to ourselves and keep as near to the Master as we can, and keep our own hearts as clearly in the truth as we can, and avoid everything that would confuse us; and if a brother or sister have something to which we cannot agree, we let them alone; if they are doing something, either teaching or anything else, that is doing a good work, and doing it in the name of the Lord, then we had better keep our hands off and not say anything against them. Let others say and do as they please. Then somebody may say, Well, Brother Russell, how about Christian Scientists; they are doing miracles, are they not?" Some of them. "And spiritualists, they are doing miracles, are they not?" Some of them. "And Mormons do some miracles, don't they?" Yes. "Well, don't these all do their miracles in the name of Jesus?" No, we answer, they do not. "Why, they all claim to acknowledge Christ; the Christian Scientists even put Christ right foremost 'Christian' Scientists.'" I know they do, my dear brother, but it is one thing to say Christian, and it is another thing to think Christian, and it is another thing to mean Christian. Now whether anyone is going to examine whether another is in harmony with the Lord or not, you and I want to have before our minds a very simple rule that will help us every time we use it, and every time we use it it will be clearer in our minds and make us stronger and quicker to use it again. We are not to have some little shibboleth that will say, because you do not sit down when you pray, I cannot worship with you, or because you want to sing hymns and I psalms, we cannot worship together. We are not to make distinctions of that kind. If some say, We like to meet in a church with a cross on it, and if others say, We like to meet in some other kind of a room, that is not a ground for separation amongst Christians either. We could not say they were not Christians because they wanted to meet in some other kind of a building than we think proper. If somebody wants to wear a different kind of clothing from what we think is most proper, we are not finding fault with them for that; they might be true Christians and have all these peculiarities. He even might go to some of the things that are not so apparently unimportant. I might say, here is a man for instance that uses tobacco, shall I say he is not a Christian because he uses tobacco? By no means, if he is otherwise giving evidence that he is a child of God. I shall expect that the Lord will show him ultimately how all the cleansing work is to go on, not only outwardly but inwardly and I will talk about the inward cleansing, and I will make no remarks about the outward cleansing, and I will do as little as I can to offend his sense and his ideas along the lines of his apparent weakness or blindness. I will leave that to himself and to the Lord's providence to teach him. You will notice in the Dawns for instance that there is no attempt to go after a person's dietary arrangements, as to what he shall eat and [Page Q494] drink, or what he shall wear, and yet we have had many evidences that a great many have gotten the truth, nevertheless, along these lines. I think of one brother who came to me once and said: "Brother Russell I would like to have you explain to me what there is in Millennial Dawn that has so affected my whole life. I used to be an Episcopalian, and before that a Congregationalist: but as an Episcopalian I had very rigid ideas on some points and not so on others. I was very rigid as to the Episcopal Church being the Church, and all others sects, and I could have no sympathy with them. And I was very rigid on the matter of church fairs and festivals and would not have anything to do with them, but when it came to my taking wine, cigars and tobacco, or playing a game of cards with a friend, if there was no amount of money up, I did not hesitate at that at all; I thought that that was very proper; it never occurred to me to question it at all. My friends used to tell me to read this about tobacco, and this about wine, and this about other things, and I told them to keep those things to themselves, that I knew what I was doing and to let me alone; but when I read Millennial Dawn a change came all over me. First of all I gave up the wine and the cards, and then by and by I found myself with a cigar in my hand, and as I was just lighting the cigar, as I had been in the habit of using at least ten a day—I traveled for an insurance company and they supplied all expenses and cigars were supposed to be part of the expenses and properly so understood—as I was just lighting a ten cent cigar, I thought, now, William, are you going to smoke that to the glory of God? And the match burned out before I had time to decide the question; and I struck another match and before that one had burned out I concluded that I could not smoke a cigar to the glory of God, and therefore I dropped it in the cuspidor. Then having a kind of hunger for a nerve stimulant, I was just about to put some of my fine-cut tobacco in my mouth, and I said, you can do that, of course, to the glory of God, it is different from a cigar! And I just thought, now, can I? And I dropped that into the cuspidor and I have not had either a cigar or tobacco in my mouth since. And so this work has gone on in my whole body, and now what does it mean? I went to Millennial Dawn afterwards and looked it over to see what I could find there that said anything about tobacco, cigars, and wine, and cards, and there was not a word in it. Now tell me how it came that that affected me and the other things that were right on the point had no impression at all." "Why," I said, "brother, the other things were like the gardener who cuts out the branches in the spring of the year; he is keeping an orchard, and he has these clippers to take off the dead branches, and he clips off a branch here and a branch there and trims up the tree. And that is what they were trying to do when they gave you a little tract on tobacco, cards, liquors, etc. Now, then, Millennial Dawn follows the Scriptural rule and it lays the axe to the root of the tree and the whole tree comes down at once." And he said, "That is it; I see it; it was consecration that made it." And so it is in harmony with this question. When we come to our Christian Scientist friend, he tells us that they do these miracles and do them in the name of Christ, we have to get right down to [Page Q495] the matter and say, is it really in the name of Christ? We say, no, it is not in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. It may be some other Christ, for you know there are many false Christs. We stated to you in a Tower recently some words of Mrs. Eddy's respecting our Lord Jesus, that it would make very little difference to her theory whether the man Jesus ever lived or not—her own words taken from her own answer to an opposer. It makes all the difference in the world to us whether He ever lived or not. If He had not lived and died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, then we would never have a future life by a resurrection through His power and through His death. So it makes a great deal of difference which Christ it is, and the name of which Christ the miracles are done in, whether we shall accept the person as being a brother in the Lord. Those who claim things in the name of A Christ, but who deny that Jesus Christ, our Lord, tasted death for every man, and redeemed us by His own precious blood, are not of us, and the sooner we recognize that the better. They have not our Christ at all, but on the contrary all of those, whether they are with us or not on other questions, if they recognize Jesus and the value of His death for our sins and if they are trusting in Him for eternal life and seeking to walk in His steps, they are our brethren, whether they follow with us or whether they do not; if they follow with us, we think they are going in the right way and we are all the more pleased; they are going in the way we think is proper. Just as this man mentioned here in this illustration, if he had been glad and willing to follow the disciples, it would have been all the better evidence as respects his standing in the Lord, still they were not to oppose him if he was doing good work in the name of Jesus; they were not to hinder or put a straw in his way. If you get an opportunity of explaining to him and of helping into a still better way, all right, but do not oppose him. But mind you, the word "Jesus" in the text means "Saviour from our sins," and Mrs. Eddy does not believe there are any sins and says there is no penalty for sin. Death, the Scriptures declare, is the penalty for sin, but they say there is no sin and no death. So how then could our Jesus be their Saviour? They do not need any saviour; they have not lost anything, they say, and they are not going to get anything, they say—and we believe that is pretty nearly correct so far as those who may have a real knowledge of the matter. But we have this to say, that a great many of the Christian Scientists and Mormons and Spiritualists are blinded by the god of this world, just as the heathen are blinded, and we believe there is an opportunity for them just as much as an opportunity for the heathen in the future. This is our hope and belief according to the Word of the Lord.
ANSWER—No, I do not. I do not think a perfect being could make one loaf feed five thousand. I do not consider that is a human power at all. I would consider that was a power Jesus had by reason of having received the Holy [Page Q496] Spirit, to do anything that might be necessary in God's service, and in the establishment of the church, and the instruction of the people at that time. It was not therefore an illustration of human power, but as Jesus said at another time, "If I by the finger of God do thus and so"—in other words, God's power in small portion. You see hand represents power, and so the little finger would represent a little bit of power. So Jesus said, if I by the finger of God do so and so, God is able to do more, these are little things in comparison to God's power.
ANSWER—It depends on the character of the mistake and error. There are some very trivial errors that ought to be corrected; there are some things that seem to be trivial, and yet might mean a great deal to some brother or sister if not corrected. Therefore I would rather incline in a general way to correct everything, and rather go to the extreme and say, "Did I offend you? Upon my word, brother, I hadn't any thought of offending you at all, not a bit." Make it positive. Be sure you make it plain. No matter how trivial the matter is, we want to keep all the stumbling blocks out of the way. On the other hand, there have been cases brought to me in which sometimes the matter has been a very grievous one—no slight thing at all. I think, for instance, of a sister who wrote me about a matter that was very grievous in her own conception, a very grievous thing in itself, and she said, "Now, Brother Russell, what shall I do? Shall I tell my husband about that?" And I told her no, do not tell your husband about that. It would be doing him a great deal of harm to know what you have written me; it would not do him good. If it were something it would be to his advantage to know, then I would advise you to tell him; but in this case my advice is that you do not tell your husband a thing about that matter, because it would be to his injury and might be to your own unhappiness the remainder of life. I said, Now, you may keep this letter and seal it up, and if ever the time comes when he should say, You didn't tell me about that matter, you can say you wrote me, and tell him I advised you, and let him read the letter. So I am just mentioning that. It does not mean that you should simply tell all you know. To give you an illustration: I think of a brother who came to the meeting one time; I knew he was coming: I knew he had been a prisoner in the penitentiary in Ohio; there have been quite a number who have been prisoners in the penitentiary who have come out and been grand characters for God; this was one of them. He got the Truth in the penitentiary. I knew to expect him but never thought for a minute he would tell anybody he had been a prisoner. By the time I got to the meeting there were half a dozen who had met him, and he told them, "I am just out of the penitentiary." I said to him at once, "Why, brother, that is wrong; do not say another word about that," and then sent someone else around to tell the others not to mention that about the brother. Why? So far as he was concerned, it was quite honorable in him to make a free statement about [Page Q497] himself, and to say, I was in error, I was a sinner; but knowing human nature as I do, I knew that more than half the people would never have confidence in that brother again; they couldn't help it. There is a streak of that kind that runs through people, but would not be true with me. I trust that brother just as much as any New Creature in Christ, notwithstanding his having been in the penitentiary. He is the elder of a class now, a very honorable, fine brother; there is nothing against him at all; but it would have been against him somehow, not for any real reason, but because of people's crooked heads which they cannot help.
ANSWER—Until you draw it out, or until the bank "busts." I do not think I can answer any more definitely on that subject. And some banks are likely to break sooner than others—to that I guess all will agree; it is a pretty hard question; I think I will have to leave it.
Q497:2 QUESTION (1912)—2—Recognizing that in the near future the banks must fail, also realizing our responsibility to provide decently for ourselves and those dependent on us, what would you consider a wise course regarding money invested, which could not be withdrawn, say within three months, and could you give any idea as to how this money might be used so that we might be good stewards of what we possess?
ANSWER—Could I tell you how to use all the money that you possess? Is that the question. I could tell you what to do with more than all the money you possess or ever will possess, but I am not going to. There is a good point in this question, though. Suppose that the father of the family or the mother of the family were not in the Truth, what should be his obligations and his course in respect to these obligations to the family? I would advise anybody who has a little bit of money to see that he keeps the coal bunker full of coal now and onward. You may ask if that is not a display of weak faith, but I would maintain that it is not, for we have to do our part. Under the present conditions it would not be amiss to lay in a reasonable supply of certain kinds of food and such as is not of a corruptible nature. I would suggest a supply of tinned beef, tinned fruits, and others of that kind. We might also put away something in the nature of beans. Whatever you feel inclined to do, see that you have a surplus laid by. This laying aside of a reasonable provision does not in any way cast doubt or fear that God will forget us at any time. With regard to money and property, I would say that if I owned a little cottage in a favorable neighborhood, favorable to the keeping of it, for the wife and family who were not in the Truth, I would keep that cottage so that I might show to those who were left after my death that my intentions at any rate were good. Have a small house rather than a large house which might be sacked in the coming Time of Trouble. We merely throw out this as a hint to you for your guidance if you care.
ANSWER—Moses is mediator of the law covenant as long as the law covenant is in effect. Moses is mediator of the law covenant today. It had no other mediator. That mediation which he accomplished has stood good all the way down. Just the same as if the Secretary of State should enter into a treaty between the United States and Great Britain, how long would he be the one who executed that treaty? Just as long as that treaty stood, he would be the one who executed that treaty. And so Moses is still the mediator, or the one who brought into effect that law covenant between God and Israel. The law covenant is still in force, and Moses is, therefore, still the mediator of that law covenant, even though he is dead. This is the same thought that our Lord gave, you remember, when he said, "Even to this day when Moses is dead," etc. Then again you remember he said that the Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. Moses still had his seat as mediator of the law covenant, and he was represented by those who came afterwards and who stood for and represented that order of things.
ANSWER—God said that Moses should be His mouthpiece, or His representative, and that Aaron should be Moses' mouthpiece or representative. "I have made thee a God unto Aaron." That is, Moses was to be like God unto Aaron, that he would tell Aaron what he should say and do. In that sense of the word Moses is like God as he said he would be.
ANSWER—I answer that the writer has evidently made a mistake. They were instructed NOT to mourn, and that, I think, signifies that we, as the Lord's people, are to be so fully in accord with God's arrangement that we will not be disturbed or distressed by the fact that some will go into the great company, and others go into the second death. We are to have that confidence in God that a fair judgment will be had from His standpoint, that He who knows the heart and tries the reins of the sons of men, will make no mistake in the matter. We are also to be so fully in accord with the Lord that we would feel that if we or any other person were not fully acceptable to the Lord and to His standard, we would not want them to have the blessings God has provided for them that love Him. I would feel that way for myself. If God would find in His wisdom and decide that I might not have a blessing either in the little flock, nor yet in the great company, but must go into the second death, I would feel like saying, "the Lord's will be done, the Lord knows best." I would make no complaint. I would not mourn [Page Q499] over the matter. I earnestly strive to be accounted worthy of a share in the Little Flock, and I think we should all strive to have that attitude of mind that would be fully submissive to the divine decree in the matter. It is very different you see, from Brother Jonathan Edward's statement when he said that in the future the Saints would be looking over the battlements of heaven and see parents and children and brothers and sisters, etc., in awful torture, eternal, and then turn around and praise God. We could not praise God for tormenting any creature; we would not appreciate that. But if God in His wisdom should see fit that someone whom we love very dearly according to the flesh should not get into the Little Flock, our appreciation of the divine will should be such that we would say, "Let the Lord do what seemeth to him good; we know his way is perfect." And that is the reason, I think, why, in the type, Aaron and his loyal sons were not allowed to mourn for those whom the Lord destroyed—separated from the priesthood.
Q499:1 QUESTION (1911)—1—"Moses said unto Aaron and unto Eliezer and Zimri, his sons, 'Uncover not ye your heads, neither rend your clothes lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people, but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel bewail the burning which the Lord hath kindled.'" Why were they to bewail the burning which the Lord had kindled? What would this represent?
ANSWER—The burning which the Lord had kindled was the burning of the Lord's anger, as we might say, represented in the destruction of these priests who had been disobedient to the divine arrangement. The whole people of Israel might bewail this matter and might very properly say, "How sorry we are, how grieved we are, that it has been necessary for God to thus manifest his displeasure with any of the priestly family." But Aaron and his sons were not to bewail, because they were especially consecrated to the Lord's service, they were especially separated from the remainder of the people; they
were to have such full harmony with God that they would not even in an outward manner signify anything that might be misunderstood to be a depreciation of God's decree in the matter that their brethren had been killed, and if Aaron and his sons were to make a wailing it would seem as though they were rebelling against God, and it was not the thought to be entertained; it would not have been proper. They were there as servants of righteousness, and if God had called upon them to kill their brethren, it would have been part of their duty to have done so; they were not to make any lamentation therefore over what the Lord had justly brought upon the evil doers.
Q499:2 QUESTION (1916)—2—Gen. 9:6 reads: "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God made He man." Why was not this general law executed against Cain, who slew his brother Abel?
ANSWER—There were not many men to shed Cain's blood. It would have been very hard for his own father and mother to do it. They had sorrow enough in one death in the family. I do not understand this text to mean that it was obligatory to shed the blood of one who had committed [Page Q500] murder, but that such a course was justifiable. God would approve of the execution of the death sentence upon the murderer.
Q500:1 QUESTION (1909)—1—(Matt. 20:11) "And when they had received it (the penny), they murmured against the good man of the house." Question: Who do those represent who murmured? What is the reward that every man received?
ANSWER—It is a parable, dear friends, and no explanation is given, and neither you nor I can say that this or that is absolutely the way of it. The best we can do with any parable to which the Lord has not given an explanation is to make as close an application as our judgment will permit, and then tentatively hold that as our view of its meaning. That is as much as any have a right to do.
In this parable, what does the "penny" signify? It is the reward of those laborers who labored throughout the whole day or only an hour; it was the promised reward. What reward has God promised all those who are His throughout this whole Gospel Age? I know He has promised us eternal life. I would be inclined to think that the penny would represent the reward the Lord would give those who are His, not only those who are of the Little Flock, but also of the Great Company. There are other things that will be given to His followers that are not the same, as the Apostle said, "Star differeth from star in glory, so will be the resurrection of the dead," implying that some of the Lord's followers will have more than others.
Another of our Lord's parables represents where one had used his ten pounds faithfully, had increased them by gaining ten more pounds, and the Master said: "Give him to have dominion over ten cities," etc., and so with the five and the two, and yet He said to them all, "Good and faithful servants." But they got different rewards. So in putting these matters together, I think that the Lord in the future will make discriminations as to the reward you and I will have. We will be perfectly satisfied, however, for we will get more than we are worthy of or than we could have asked for.
As to why they murmured, I am unable to explain that satisfactorily. I have not murmured myself, but I have not gotten my penny yet. I cannot imagine why one who gets eternal life should murmur. I only suggest that perhaps it was not to be understood that all were to receive alike. When it is fulfilled we will then be able to see it. You know no prophecy is to be understood until it is fulfilled. Just so; it was stated of our Lord that He would be born in Bethlehem, but it was not understood then, but when it was accomplished, then we could look back and see clearly. Prophecy is not given merely to satisfy curiosity, but it shows that God foreknows the things that are to take place. Known unto God are all His works and they are all being done according to the counsel of His will.
Q801:1 QUESTION—"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that He had made man of the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart; and the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created, from the face of 'the earth.'" If God is omniscent, knowing the end from the beginning, how could he REPENT of His course in creating man?
ANSWER—The word "repent" means "to change the mind, or course or conduct, on account of regret or dissatisfaction with what has occurred." The question then is, Did God change His mind (plan) or His course of conduct? We claim that, knowing the end from the beginning, God's mind could not be changed; hence "repent" in this text must signify change of conduct. That is, God did change His course of dealing with man because of man's wickedness, which grieved Him, but He did not change His mind or plans, because these plans had from the very first recognized the corrupting and degrading tendency of sin, and provided (in purpose of mind) the Lamb of God—"slain from the foundation of the world"—as the redemption price. (Rev. 13:8; Rev. 17:8.)
ANSWER—Many have endeavored to account for the remarkable longevity of the antediluvians, some of whom lived to the ripe old age of 800 and 900 years. Regarding Methuselah, the oldest man mentioned in the Bible being an elderly gentleman of 969 years of age, various theories are offered, one of which is referred to in the question before us. However, we can readily see by consulting the Sacred Narrative, that this theory would not fit the situation. The 5th Chapter of Genesis, in setting forth the genealogy of different ones, states the ages when these had children. If we were to estimate on the basis of a year as being in reality only a lunar month of time, we become involved in difficulties, for according to this method of reckoning Cainan was but five years and ten months of age when he had a son; also Mahalaleel was five years and five months old when his son Jared was born. The real cause of advanced ages of those who lived prior to the deluge is presented in the Bible. The human race had deteriorated but slightly from that condition of perfection which Adam had enjoyed preceding his disobedience. Consequently, with splendid organisms and very slightly impaired vitality, the spark of life would be maintained for centuries. How different the conditions now, when the average length of life is about thirty-five years! Malignant diseases, caused by germs and bacteria, are infesting the race fearfully, and even with all the aid of science and hygenic precautions, how hard to preserve the dim spark of life!
ANSWER—The Bible does give a satisfactory answer to this question. Scientists have indulged in much speculation as to the length of time man has been on the earth. Their guesses have ranged over a wide field. One celebrated geologist claims it has been fifty thousand years since the first man was in Egypt, while another names 250,000 years since the first man was on European soil. In contrast with these speculative theories we have the clear and connected chain of Bible chronology, which shows that less than seven thousand years have elapsed since the creation of the first man. The Bible is the oldest and most authentic history concerning man. It indulges in no guesses, but clearly teaches that Adam was the first man. It gives its own chronology, which is subdivided as follows: From Adam to the flood, 1,656 years; from the flood to Abraham, 427 years; from thence to the exodus and the giving of the Law, 40 years; from thence to the division of Canaan, 46 years; next the period of the Judges, 450 years; and the period of the Kings, 513 years; from thence to A.D. 1911 makes a total of 6,039 years since Adam's creation. This is the result shown by the best Bible chronologists who have written on the subject.
Q802:2 QUESTION—The Scripture reads: "And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness." (Gen. 1:26). Does this mean physically, with all facial and bodily variations we see in people today, or is the "soul" "the image of God" and uniform in all people? Or what is the meaning of this Scripture?
ANSWER—This "image of God" does not mean physical shape because "God is a spirit" and man is human. Nor does it mean the "soul." "Soul" is the synonymous term for man- -man is a soul. "In His image" means that man was made with reasoning power and moral intelligence. God made man a free moral agent, and fashioned him appropriately to earthly conditions and nature. God endowed him with the sense of justice, reason, love and righteousness, and thus he was an image of the great Jehovah in these qualities of character. "After Our likeness," we understand to mean that as God made man to be in the likeness of God, He made man to be the king of the earth and gave him dominion over all the things of the earth. The first man being created in the image and likeness of God was, in every respect, perfect. Some modern scientists hold that man is a creature of evolution. If evolution be true the Bible is false from Genesis to Revelation. If the Bible statement of man's creation is true, and all Christian people hold that it is true, then the evolution theory is utterly false as respects man.
ANSWER—In the Genesis account of the creation of man, it is stated that he was in the "image and likeness of God." The words in the text would more properly be: "Man . . . is the glorious image of God." These words of the Apostle apply, of course, to the first perfect man, and not to man as he is today in his fallen depraved and degenerated state. The woman was created to be his "help-meet" (Gen. 2:18) and in the proper relationship that should exist between the two, would be to his honor and glory. In the third verse of this chapter, (1 Cor. 11;3) the Apostle explains that the "head of the woman is the man." (Eph. 5:22-32.) The Heavenly Father has arranged that His Son, the Anointed Jesus, who is in the "express image of the Father's person," (Heb. 1:3) is to have a Bride. (Rev. 21:9) This Bride is to be made up of a class, the elect overcomers of the Gospel Age. When completed and glorified, the Bride, the Church, will be the "Helpmeet" of Christ, and will be to His honor and glory.
ANSWER—There is not a single expression to be found in the Scriptures in which it is stated that man was created in any sense a spirit being. On the contrary, the Bible distinctly asserts that man is of "the earth earthy," that he was formed of the dust of the ground and that the breath of life was breathed into his nostrils and he became a living soul. (1 Cor. 15:45-47; Gen. 2:7.) The Scriptural expression, "And the spirit returns to God who gave it," has reference to the life principle or spark of life which the Lord imparted to Adam when he was created from the dust of the ground. This breath of life is the active principle that makes the living being and when removed from the body it returns to the Creator who is the source or fountain of all life. The Psalmist declares that man was created a little lower than the angels, the lowest of the spirit beings. Man is the highest of the animals or earthly beings, and in the divine arrangements was to be the ruler or the monarch over the earthly realm having dominion over the beast of the field and the fish of the sea and the fowls of the air. In view of this plain teaching of the Bible on this matter, we can understand the words of our Lord and His Apostles that one must be begotten of the holy spirit in order to have a spiritual existence in any sense. The Lord Jesus was the first one to be developed as a spiritual new creature, from the fleshly or earthly condition. Although He was a perfect man, we read that He was made perfect through sufferings (Heb. 2:10) as a spiritual "new creature," "being, indeed, put to death in the flesh, but being made alive in spirit." (1 Pet.3:18—Diaglott.)
Q803:2 QUESTION—Can you explain the words of the Apostle Paul (1 Cor.7:14): "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the (believing) wife and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the (believing) husband; else were your children unclean (sinners under condemnation, unjustified, [Page Q804]unrelated to God, aliens from His care and blessing, but now are they holy")?
ANSWER—As the disobedience and alienation of Adam and Eve from the Heavenly Father brought alienation to all their offspring, so the reconciliation of the Lord's people through the merits of the great atonement, not only brings them back to harmony with God, but their children as well are counted as justified through their parents, up to such a time as the child shall have an intelligence and will of its own. The question is more complex, however, when one parent is the Lord's and the other is a stranger and an alien from Him; but the Apostle assures us that in such a case God counts the child as His, through whichever one of its parents is the Lord's disciple. The standing of the believing parent is counted as offsetting and overruling the standing of the unconsecrated parent, so far as the child is concerned.
Q804:1 QUESTION—What are we to think of the amazing occurrences, accounts of which are appearing in the daily press and in the monthly publications, to the effect that messages have been received from the noted English publicist, Wm. T. Stead, who was drowned when the Titanic sank mid-ocean; and that he has appeared and conversed with several well-known people on different occasions? Does this not prove that the dead are not dead but more alive than ever? (Aviator.)
ANSWER—It is true that many remarkable manifestations of an unseen, supernatural power have been reported through the daily press of late. There is no doubt as to the authenticity of these demonstrations. They are vouched for by the very best of human testimony. As the Scriptures unmistakably teach that the dead are unconscious in the tomb and will not be awakened until the resurrection morning, we are forced to the conclusion that these supernatural phenomena are not created by those who have gone down into death. The Bible explains the mystery to those who are willing to accept its testimony. It tells about the fallen angels, demons, who left their former habitation, their spiritual estate, in the antediluvian times, and went contrary to the Divine will, for which they have been restrained in chains of darkness (the darkness of the night) until the judgment time. These have manifested their power all down through the ages, obsessing people, impersonating the dead, and otherwise deceiving mankind. Note carefully the following Scriptures: Exo. 22:18; Deut. 17:9-12; Lev. 19:31; Lev. 20:6; 2 Kings 21:2,6,11; 1 Chron. 10:13,14; Acts 16:16-18; Gal. 5:10-21; Isa. 8:19,20; Isa. 19:3.
Q804:2 QUESTION—According to Rev. 20:6; 1 Thes. 4:16, will the Millennium be before or after the coming of Christ? It is claimed by some that the Millennium began in the year 799 and ended in the year 1799 A.D.—Millennium meaning one thousand years—and is known [Page Q805] as the Papal Millennium. Is that the Millennium mentioned in the Bible?
ANSWER—The Scriptures above referred to, together with many others, show that Christ will reign during the Millennium, and we all know that Christ has not reigned yet. If Christ was reigning now we would not have the great systems of evil in the earth, for the Scriptures declare that when "His judgments are in the earth then the people shall learn righteousness." (Isa. 26:9.) The Scriptures in your question declare that "the dead in Christ shall rise first" at His coming. In harmony with this we see that then He will take unto Himself His great power and reign, as set forth in Rev. 11:17,18. Jesus Himself declared (Mat. 25:31), that His reign would follow His second coming.
Q805:1 QUESTION—Please explain Isa. 65:20, which reads: "There shall no more come thence an infant of days, nor an old man that shall not have the full length of his days; for as a lad shall one die a hundred years old; and as a sinner shall be accursed he who dieth at a hundred years old." (G.A.N.)
ANSWER—The verses connecting, particularly the 25th, show that it is during the Age in which divine favor and blessings are to be disseminated over the world, and when the terms of salvation are much more favorable to humanity than now, that an incorrigible sinner dying at an hundred years of age will be but as a child. The apparent teaching of the Scriptures is, that a thousand years have been set apart in the Creator's plan of salvation, and that this period of time, constituting the judgment or trial day of the world, will immediately follow the Christian Era. In the meantime, those who are to be the judges and rulers over the world in that day are now being prepared and qualified for that future work. (Acts 17:31; 1 Cor. 6:2, 3.) In that Age of joy and blessing (Psa. 92:4-9), when a wayfaring man though a fool shall not err concerning the way of salvation (Isa. 35:8-10), all will have at least an hundred years to make some progress in the way of righteousness. Failing to do this they will die as an infant, for one an hundred years of age, comparatively speaking, is but an infant to one a thousand years old, for all who will comply with the terms of righteousness will live to the end of the thousand years, and may make their existence eternal if they successfully endure the final trial or test at the end of that Age, when Satan is loosed for a little season. (Rev. 20:7.)
Q805:2 QUESTION—Please explain John 14:12: "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." (J.A.B.)
ANSWER—Whatever may be the meaning of the Master's words, it is obvious that not any of His followers have ever been able to do "greater works" than He accomplished [Page Q806] as regards the miraculous works of opening the blind eyes, unstopping the deaf ears, raising the dead, stilling the tempest, etc. The "works," therefore, must be of a different nature, or upon a larger scale. Both of these are true. The last expression of the verse should be noted in this connection- -"because I go unto my Father." Our Lord, when he ascended on high, and had presented the merits of His sacrifice in behalf of His followers, could then bestow the holy Spirit of sonship upon those who, through faith and obedience, would become members of His Church. These receiving the holy Spirit, or power of God, would be enabled to accomplish the "greater works" of opening the spiritually blind eyes, unstopping the spiritually deaf ears, raising to spiritual life those who were dead in trespasses and sins, and stilling the tempests of the soul; all of which, from the Divine viewpoint, is a far greater work than the merely physical healing, etc. Then again, when the Church of Christ has been glorified in the Heavenly state, the work of raising the dead, and healing, blessing and restoring to full life and health and joy and happiness, will be executed on a world-wide scale, for the promise is that all the families of the earth will be blessed through "The Seed of Abraham"—Jesus and the members of His Body, the Church. (Gen. 22:18; Gal. 3:27-29.)
ANSWER—This is an age of miracles, with messages being flashed thousands of miles through space, and under the seas, and around the globe. Marvelous discoveries and wonderful inventions are being made almost daily. Some of the achievements of our times almost eclipse those of former days, even the miracles of which we read in the Scriptures. As a matter of fact, miracles are transpiring all about us continually. The reproduction of living organism, either animal or vegetable, is beyond our comprehension, as well as beyond our power—hence miraculous. We can see the exercise of life principle, but can neither understand it nor produce it. Two seeds are planted side by side; the conditions, air, water, and soil are alike; they grow we cannot tell how, nor can the wisest philosopher explain this miracle. These seeds develop characteristics that are exactly opposite, though the conditions were the same. The Creator who formed all of the marvels that we see about us in the material world, would surely be able to perform the miracles narrated in the Bible, and therefore, we need have no doubts as to their authenticity.
ANSWER—We quote from an eminent authority an explanation as to the reason for the contention between Michael and the Devil: "The Lord Himself buried Moses, hiding the place of the sepulchre. The primary reason for[Page Q807] this probably was to hinder the Israelites from carrying his corpse as a mummy, which in after time might have become a temptation to idolatry. The passage in Jude 9, which mentions Michael contending with Satan concerning the body of Moses, is a hint along this line that Satan desired to have the corpse to use it for the further misleading of the people, but that the Lord through Michael the Archangel hindered, prevented this, and kept the burial place a secret from the Israelites. But there is another view of this matter which is interesting because it relates to spiritual Israelites. Jesus and the Church unitedly constitute the antitypical, or greater Moses—the Spiritual. Their inheritance is not to be earthly but heavenly, and a grave is a symbol of hope as respects an earthly resurrection. Hence it was appropriate that the type should not show an earthly grave since the antitype has no hope in that connection."
Q807:1 QUESTION—At the transfiguration of Jesus, Matt. 17:3, states that Elias and Moses appeared and talked with Him. Will you please explain how it was possible for the Apostles to recognize that these two who were with the Lord were Moses and Elias? (W.C.C.)
ANSWER—As the Scriptural narrative does not contain the information as to the modus operandi by which the Apostles recognized the Patriarchs, we are forced to rely upon our own resources, and to accept that which would appeal to us as the most reasonable solution of the matter, without forming a too positive conclusion. There are two ways by which it would be reasonable to suppose the Apostles were made aware of the identity of the two who appeared with the Lord. In the account it says, "There appeared unto them Moses and Elias, talking with Him." During this conversation it would be the most natural thing in the world for the Lord to address them by their names. Then again, as they were coming down from the mountain with the Lord, He may have informed them as to the identity of the two they saw in the "vision." They did not actually see Moses and Elias but merely a "vision," as stated by the Savior when He said, "Tell the vision to no man until the Son of man be risen from the dead." (Mat. 27:9.)