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The Restitution Guaranteed by the Ransom—Not Everlasting Life, but a Trial for it, Secured by the Ransom—The Conditions and Advantages of the Trial—Christ's Sacrifice Necessary—How the Race Could be and was Redeemed by the Death of One—Faith and Works Still Necessary—The Wages of Wilful Sin Certain—Will there be Room on the Earth for the Resurrected Millions?—Restitution versus Evolution.
FROM the outline of God's revealed plan, as thus far sketched, it is evident that his design for mankind is a restitution or restoration to the perfection and glory lost in Eden. The strongest, and the conclusive, evidence on this subject is most clearly seen when the extent and nature of the ransom are fully appreciated. The restitution foretold by the apostles and prophets must follow the ransom as the just and logical sequence. According to God's arrangement in providing a ransom, all mankind, unless they wilfully resist the saving power of the Great Deliverer, must be delivered from the original penalty, "the bondage of corruption," death, else the ransom does not avail for all.
Paul's reasoning on the subject is most clear and emphatic. He says (Rom. 14:9), "For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord [ruler, controller] of both the dead and the living." That is to say, the object of our Lord's death and resurrection was not merely to bless and rule over and restore the living of mankind, but to give him authority over, or full control of, the dead as well as the living, insuring the benefits of his ransom as much to the [A150] one as to the other.* He "gave himself a ransom [a corresponding price] for all," in order that he might bless all, and give to every man an individual trial for life. To claim that he gave "ransom for all," and yet to claim that only a mere handful of the ransomed ones will ever receive any benefit from it, is absurd; for it would imply either that God accepted the ransom-price and then unjustly refused to grant the release of the redeemed, or else that the Lord, after redeeming all, was either unable or unwilling to carry out the original benevolent design. The unchangeableness of the divine plans, no less than the perfection of the divine justice and love, repels and contradicts such a thought, and gives us assurance that the original and benevolent plan, of which the "ransom for all" was the basis, will be fully carried out in God's "due time," and will bring to faithful believers the blessing of release from the Adamic condemnation and an opportunity to return to the rights and liberties of sons of God, as enjoyed before sin and the curse.
*We may properly recognize an additional and a still broader meaning in the Apostle's words; namely, that the entire human family was included in the expression "the dead." From God's standpoint the entire race, under sentence of death, is treated as though already dead (Matt. 8:22); hence the expression "the living" would apply beyond the human family to some whose lives had not been forfeited—the angels.
Let the actual benefits and results of the ransom be clearly seen, and all objections to its being of universal application must vanish. The "ransom for all" given by "the man Christ Jesus" does not give or guarantee everlasting life or blessing to any man; but it does guarantee to every man another opportunity or trial for life everlasting. The first trial of man, which resulted in the loss of the blessings at first conferred, is really turned into a blessing of experience to the loyal-hearted, by reason of the ransom which God has provided. But the fact that men are ransomed from the first [A151] penalty does not guarantee that they may not, when individually tried for everlasting life, fail to render the obedience without which none will be permitted to live everlastingly. Man, by reason of present experience with sin and its bitter penalty, will be fully forewarned; and when, as a result of the ransom, he is granted another, an individual trial, under the eye and control of him who so loved him as to give his life for him, and who would not that any should perish, but that all should turn to God and live, we may be sure that only the wilfully disobedient will receive the penalty of the second trial. That penalty will be the second death, from which there will be no ransom, no release, because there would be no object for another ransom or a further trial. All will have fully seen and tasted both good and evil; all will have witnessed and experienced the goodness and love of God; all will have had a full, fair, individual trial for life, under most favorable conditions. More could not be asked, and more will not be given. That trial will decide forever who would be righteous and holy under a thousand trials; and it will determine also who would be unjust, and unholy and filthy still, under a thousand trials.
It would be useless to grant another trial for life under exactly the same circumstances; but though the circumstances of the tried ones will be different, more favorable, the terms or conditions of their individual trial for life will be the same as in the Adamic trial. The law of God will remain the same—it changes not. It will still say, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die"; and the condition of man will be no more favorable, so far as surroundings are concerned, than the conditions and surroundings in Eden; but the great difference will be the increased knowledge. The experience with evil, contrasted with the experience with good, which will accrue to each during the trial of the coming age, will constitute the advantage by reason of which the results of the second trial will differ so widely from the results [A152] of the first, and on account of which divine Wisdom and Love provided the "ransom for all," and thus guaranteed to all the blessing of a new trial. No more favorable trial, no more favorable law, no more favorable conditions or circumstances, can in any way be conceived of as reasons for another ransom or a further trial for any beyond the Millennial age.
The ransom given does not excuse sin in any; it does not propose to count sinners as saints, and usher them thus into everlasting bliss. It merely releases the accepting sinner from the first condemnation and its results, both direct and indirect, and places him again on trial for life, in which trial his own wilful obedience or wilful disobedience will decide whether he may or may not have life everlasting.
Nor should it be assumed, as so many seem disposed to assume, that all those who live in a state of civilization, and see or possess a Bible, have thus a full opportunity or trial for life. It must be remembered that the fall has not injured all of Adam's children alike. Some have come into the world so weak and depraved as to be easily blinded by the god of this world, Satan, and led captive by besetting and surrounding sin; and all are more or less under this influence, so that, even when they would do good, evil is present and more powerful through surroundings, etc., and the good which they would do is almost impossible, while the evil which they would not do is almost unavoidable.
Small indeed is the number of those who in the present time truly and experimentally learn of the liberty wherewith Christ makes free those who accept of his ransom, and put themselves under his control for future guidance. Yet only these few, the Church, called out and tried beforehand for the special purpose of being co-workers with God in blessing the world—witnessing now, and ruling, blessing and judging the world in its age of trial—yet enjoy to any extent the benefits of the ransom, or are now on trial for life. [A153] These few have reckoned to them (and they receive by faith) all the blessings of restitution which will be provided for the world during the coming age. These, though not perfect, not restored to Adam's condition actually, are treated in such a manner as to compensate for the difference. Through faith in Christ they are reckoned perfect, and hence are restored to perfection and to divine favor, as though no longer sinners. Their imperfections and unavoidable weaknesses, being offset by the ransom, are not imputed to them, but are covered by the Redeemer's perfection. Hence the Church's trial, because of her reckoned standing in Christ, is as fair as that which the world will have in its time of trial. The world will all be brought to a full knowledge of the truth, and each one, as he accepts of its provisions and conditions, will be treated no longer as a sinner, but as a son, for whom all the blessings of restitution are intended.
One difference between the experiences of the world under trial and the experiences of the Church during her trial will be that the obedient of the world will begin at once to receive the blessings of restitution by a gradual removal of their weaknesses—mental and physical; whereas the Gospel Church, consecrated to the Lord's service even unto death, goes down into death and gets her perfection instantaneously in the first resurrection. Another difference between the two trials is in the more favorable surroundings of the next age as compared with this, in that then society, government, etc., will be favorable to righteousness, rewarding faith and obedience, and punishing sin; whereas now, under the prince of this world, the Church's trial is under circumstances unfavorable to righteousness, faith, etc. But this, we have seen, is to be compensated for in the prize of the glory and honor of the divine nature offered to the Church, in addition to the gift of everlasting life.
Adam's death was sure, though it was reached by nine hundred and thirty years of dying. Since he was himself [A154] dying, all his children were born in the same dying condition and without right to life; and, like their parents, they all die after a more or less lingering process. It should be remembered, however, that it is not the pain and suffering in dying, but death—the extinction of life—in which the dying culminates, that is the penalty of sin. The suffering is only incidental to it, and the penalty falls on many with but little or no suffering. It should further be remembered that when Adam forfeited life, he forfeited it forever; and not one of his posterity has ever been able to expiate his guilt or to regain the lost inheritance. All the race are either dead or dying. And if they could not expiate their guilt before death, they certainly could not do it when dead—when not in existence. The penalty of sin was not simply to die, with the privilege and right thereafter of returning to life. In the penalty pronounced there was no intimation of release. (Gen. 2:17) The restitution, therefore, is an act of free grace or favor on God's part. And as soon as the penalty had been incurred, even while it was being pronounced, the free favor of God was intimated, which, when realized, will so fully declare his love.
Had it not been for the gleam of hope, afforded by the statement that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, the race would have been in utter despair; but this promise indicated that God had some plan for their benefit. When to Abraham God sware that in his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed, it implied a resurrection or restitution of all; for many were then dead, and others have since died, unblessed. Nevertheless, the promise is still sure: all shall be blessed when the times of restitution or refreshing shall come. (Acts 3:19) Moreover, since blessing indicates favor, and since God's favor was withdrawn and his curse came instead because of sin, this [A155] promise of a future blessing implied the removal of the curse, and consequently a return of his favor. It also implied either that God would relent, change his decree and clear the guilty race, or else that he had some plan by which it could be redeemed, by having man's penalty paid by another.
God did not leave Abraham in doubt as to which was his plan, but showed, by various typical sacrifices which all who approached him had to bring, that he could not and did not relent, nor excuse the sin; and that the only way to blot it out and abolish its penalty would be by a sufficiency of sacrifice to meet that penalty. This was shown to Abraham in a very significant type: Abraham's son, in whom the promised blessing centered, had first to be a sacrifice before he could bless, and Abraham received him from the dead in a figure. (Heb. 11:19) In that figure Isaac typified the true seed, Christ Jesus, who died to redeem men, in order that the redeemed might all receive the promised blessing. Had Abraham thought that the Lord would excuse and clear the guilty, he would have felt that God was changeable, and therefore could not have had full confidence in the promise made to him. He might have reasoned, If God has changed his mind once, why may he not change it again? If he relents concerning the curse of death, may he not again relent concerning the promised favor and blessing? But God leaves us in no such uncertainty. He gives us ample assurance of both his justice and his unchangeableness. He could not clear the guilty, even though he loved them so much that "he spared not his own Son, but delivered him up [to death] for us all."
As the entire race was in Adam when he was condemned, and lost life through him, so when Jesus "gave himself a ransom for all" his death involved the possibility of an unborn race in his loins. A full satisfaction, or corresponding [A156] price, for all men was thus put into the hands of Justice—to be applied "in due time," and he who thus bought all has full authority to restore all who come unto God by him.
"As by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." (Rom. 5:18,19) The proposition is a plain one: As many as have shared death on account of Adam's sin will have life-privileges offered to them by our Lord Jesus, who died for them and sacrificially became Adam's substitute before the broken law, and thus "gave himself a ransom for all." He died, "the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God." (1 Peter 3:18) It should never be overlooked, however, that all of God's provisions for our race recognize the human will as a factor in the securing of the divine favors so abundantly provided. Some have overlooked this feature in examining the text just quoted—Rom. 5:18,19. The Apostle's statement, however, is that, as the sentence of condemnation extended to all the seed of Adam, even so, through the obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ to the Father's plan, by the sacrifice of himself on our behalf, a free gift is extended to all—a gift of forgiveness, which, if accepted, will constitute a justification or basis for life everlasting. And "as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one many shall be [not were] made righteous." If the ransom alone, without our acceptance of it, made us righteous, then it would have read, by the obedience of one many were made righteous.
But though the ransom-price has been given by the Redeemer only a few during the Gospel age have been made righteous—justified—"through faith in his blood." But since Christ is the propitiation (satisfaction) for the sins [A157] of the whole world, all men may on this account be absolved and released from the penalty of Adam's sin by him—under the New Covenant.
There is no unrighteousness with God; hence "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9) As he would have been unjust to have allowed us to escape the pronounced penalty before satisfaction was rendered, so also he here gives us to understand that it would be unjust were he to forbid our restitution, since by his own arrangement our penalty has been paid for us. The same unswerving justice that once condemned man to death now stands pledged for the release of all who, confessing their sins, apply for life through Christ. "It is God that justifieth—who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died; yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." Rom. 8:33,34
The completeness of the ransom is the very strongest possible argument for the restitution of all mankind who will accept it on the proffered terms. (Rev. 22:17) The very character of God for justice and honor stands pledged to it; every promise which he has made implies it; and every typical sacrifice pointed to the great and sufficient sacrifice—"the Lamb of God, which taketh away the SIN OF THE WORLD"—who is "the propitiation [satisfaction] for our sins [the Church's], and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." (John 1:29; 1 John 2:2) Since death is the penalty or wages of sin, when the sin is canceled the wages must in due time cease. Any other view would be both unreasonable and unjust. The fact that no recovery from the Adamic loss is yet accomplished, though nearly two thousand years have elapsed since our Lord died, is no more an argument against restitution than is the fact that four thousand years elapsed before his death a proof that [A158] God had not planned the redemption before the foundation of the world. Both the two thousand years since and the four thousand years before the death of Christ were appointed times for other parts of the work, preparatory to "the times of restitution of all things."
Let no one hastily suppose that there is in this view anything in conflict with the teaching of the Scriptures that faith toward God, repentance for sin and reformation of character are indispensable to salvation. This feature will be treated more at length hereafter, but we now suggest that only the few have ever had a sufficiency of light to produce full faith, repentance and reformation. Some have been blinded in part, and some completely, by the god of this world, and they must be recovered from blindness as well as from death, that they, each for himself, may have a full chance to prove, by obedience or disobedience, their worthiness or unworthiness of life everlasting. Then those who prove themselves unworthy of life will die again—the second death—from which there will be no redemption, and consequently no resurrection. The death which comes on account of Adam's sin, and all the imperfections which follow in its wake, will be removed because of the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; but the death which comes as a result of individual, wilful apostasy is final. This sin hath never forgiveness, and its penalty, the second death, will be everlasting—not everlasting dying, but everlasting death—a death unbroken by a resurrection.
The philosophy of the plan of redemption will be treated in a succeeding volume. Here we merely establish the fact that the redemption through Christ Jesus is to be as far-reaching in its blessed results and opportunities as was the sin of Adam in its blight and ruin—that all who were condemned and who suffered on account of the one may as surely, "in due time," be set free from all those ills on account of the other. However, none can appreciate this [A159] Scriptural argument who do not admit the Scriptural statement that death—extinction of being—is the wages of sin. Those who think of death as life in torment not only disregard the meaning of the words death and life, which are opposites, but involve themselves in two absurdities. It is absurd to suppose that God would perpetuate Adam's existence forever in torment for any kind of a sin which he could commit, but especially for the comparatively small offence of eating forbidden fruit. Then, again, if our Lord Jesus redeems mankind, died in our stead, became our ransom, went into death that we might be set free from it, is it not evident that the death which he suffered for the unjust was of exactly the same kind as that to which all mankind were condemned? Is he, then, suffering eternal torture for our sins? If not, then so surely as he died for our sins, the punishment for our sins was death, and not life in any sense or condition.
But, strange to say, finding that the theory of eternal torture is inconsistent with the statements that "the Lord hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all," and that Christ "died for our sins," and seeing that one or the other must be dropped as inconsistent, some are so wedded to the idea of eternal torture, and so prize it as a sweet morsel, that they hold to it regardless of the Scriptures, and deliberately deny that Jesus paid the world's ransom-price, though this truth is taught on every leaf of the Bible.
Some have supposed that if the billions of the dead were resurrected, there would not be room for them on the earth; and that if there should be room for them, the earth would not be capable of sustaining so large a population. It is even claimed by some that the earth is one vast graveyard, and that if all the dead were awakened they would trample one upon another for want of room. [A160]
This is an important point. How strange it would be if we should find that while the Bible declares a resurrection for all men, yet, by actual measurement, they could not find a footing on the earth! Now let us see: figure it out and you will find this an unfounded fear. You will find that there is an abundance of room for the "restitution of all," as "God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets."
Let us assume that it is six thousand years since the creation of man, and that there are fourteen hundred millions of people now living on the earth. Our race began with one pair, but let us make a very liberal estimate and suppose that there were as many at the beginning as there are now; and, further, that there never were fewer than that number at any time, though actually the flood reduced the population to eight persons. Again, let us be liberal, and estimate three generations to a century, or thirty-three years to a generation, though, according to Gen. 5, there were but eleven generations from Adam to the flood, a period of one thousand six hundred and fifty-six years, or about one hundred and fifty years to each generation. Now let us see: six thousand years are sixty centuries; three generations to each century would give us one hundred and eighty generations since Adam; and fourteen hundred millions to a generation would give two hundred and fifty-two billions (252,000,000,000) as the total number of our race from creation to the present time, according to this liberal estimate, which is probably more than twice the actual number.
Where shall we find room enough for this great multitude? Let us measure the land, and see. The State of Texas, United States, contains two hundred and thirty-seven thousand square miles. There are twenty-seven million eight hundred and seventy-eight thousand four hundred square feet in a square mile, and, therefore, six trillion six hundred and seven billion one hundred and eighty million eight [A161] hundred thousand (6,607,180,800,000) square feet in Texas. Allowing ten square feet as the surface covered by each dead body, we find that Texas, as a cemetery, would at this rate hold six hundred and sixty billion seven hundred and eighteen million and eighty thousand (660,718,080,000) bodies, or nearly three times as many as our exaggerated estimate of the numbers of our race who have lived on the earth.
A person standing occupies about one and two-thirds square feet of space. At this rate the present population of the earth (one billion four hundred million persons) could stand on an area of eighty-six square miles—an area much less than that of the city of London or of Philadelphia. And the island of Ireland (area, thirty-two thousand square miles) would furnish standing room for more than twice the number of people who have ever lived on the earth, even at our exaggerated estimate.
There is not much difficulty, then, in settling this objection. And when we call to mind the prophecy of Isaiah (35:1-6), that the earth shall yield her increase; that the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; that in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert, we see that God indicates that he has foreseen all the necessities of his plan, and will make ample provision for the needs of his creatures in what will seem a very natural way.
It may be objected by some that the testimony of the Scriptures concerning human restitution to a former estate is out of harmony with the teachings of science and philosophy, which, with apparent reason, point us to the superior intelligence of this twentieth century, and claim this as conclusive evidence that primeval man must have been, in comparison, very lacking in intelligence, which they claim [A162] is the result of development. From this standpoint, a restitution to a former estate would be far from desirable, and certainly the reverse of a blessing.
At first sight such reasoning appears plausible, and many seem inclined to accept it as truth without careful examination, saying, with a celebrated Brooklyn preacher, If Adam fell at all his fall was upward, and the more and faster we fall from his original state the better for us and for all concerned.
Thus philosophy, even in the pulpit, would make the Word of God of no effect, and if possible convince us that the apostles were fools when they declared that death and every trouble came by the first man's disobedience, and that these could be removed and man restored to divine favor and life only by means of a ransom. (Rom. 5:10,12,17-19,21; 8:19-22; Acts 3:19-21; Rev. 21:3-5) But let us not hastily conclude that this philosophy is impregnable; for should we be obliged to discard the doctrines of the apostles relative to the origin of sin and death, and of restitution to an original perfection, we should, in honesty, be obliged to reject their testimony entirely and on every subject, as uninspired and consequently without special weight or authority. Let us, then, in the light of facts, briefly examine this growingly popular view and see how deep is its philosophy.
Says an advocate and representative of this theory: "Man was first in a stage of existence in which his animal nature predominated, and the almost purely physical ruled him; then he slowly grew from one state to another until now, when the average man has attained to a condition in which, it might be said, he is coming under the rule of the brain. Hence this age may be regarded and designated as the Brain Age. Brain pushes the great enterprises of the day. Brain takes the reins of government; and the elements of the earth, air and water are being brought under subjection. [A163] Man is putting his hand on all physical forces, and slowly but surely attaining such power over the domain of nature as gives evidence that ultimately he may exclaim, in the language of Alexander Selkirk, 'I am monarch of all I survey.'"
The fact that at first glance a theory appears reasonable should not lead us hastily to accept it, and to attempt to twist the Bible into harmony with it. In a thousand ways we have proved the Bible, and know beyond peradventure that it contains a superhuman wisdom which makes its statements unerring. We should remember, too, that while scientific research is to be commended, and its suggestions considered, yet its conclusions are by no means infallible. And what wonder that it has proven its own theories false a thousand times, when we remember that the true scientist is merely a student attempting, under many unfavorable circumstances, and struggling against almost insurmountable difficulties, to learn from the great Book of Nature the history and destiny of man and his home.
We would not, then, either oppose or hinder scientific investigation; but in hearing suggestions from students of the Book of Nature, let us carefully compare their deductions, which have so often proved in part or wholly erroneous, with the Book of Divine Revelation, and prove or disprove the teachings of scientists by "the law and the testimony. If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Isa. 8:20) An accurate knowledge of both books will prove them to be harmonious; but until we have such knowledge, God's Revelation must take precedence, and must be the standard among the children of God, by which the supposed findings of fallible fellowmen shall be judged.
But while holding to this principle, let us see whether there is not some other reasonable solution of the increased [A164] knowledge and skill and power of man than the theory of Evolution—that though originally developed from a very low order of being, man has now reached the superior or "Brain Age." Perhaps after all we shall find that the inventions and conveniences, the general education and wider diffusion and increase of knowledge, are not attributable to a greater brain capacity, but to more favorable circumstances for the use of brains. That the brain capacity today is greater than in by-gone ages, we deny; while we freely admit that, owing to advantageous circumstances, the use of what brain capacity men have today is more general than at any former period, and hence makes a much larger showing. In the study of painting and sculpture, do not the students of this "Brain Age" go back to the great masters of the past? Do they not by so doing acknowledge a brain power and originality of design as well as a skill of workmanship worthy of imitation? Does not the present "Brain Age" draw largely upon the original designs of the past ages for its architecture? Do not the orators and logicians of this "Brain Age" study and copy the methods and syllogisms of Plato, Aristotle, Demosthenes and others of the past? Might not many of the public speakers of today well covet the tongue of a Demosthenes or an Apollos, and much more the clear reasoning power of the Apostle Paul?
To go still further back: while we might well refer to the rhetorical powers of several of the prophets, and to the sublime poetic paintings interspersed throughout the Psalms, we refer these "Brain Age" philosophers to the wisdom and logic, no less than to the fine moral sensibilities, of Job and his comforters. And what shall we say of Moses, "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians"? The laws given through him have been the foundation for the laws of all civilized nations, and are still recognized as the embodiment of marvelous wisdom.
The exhuming of ancient buried cities reveals a knowledge of the arts and sciences in ages past which is surprising some of the philosophers of this so-called "Brain Age." The ancient methods of embalming the dead, of tempering copper, of making elastic glass and Damascus steel, are among the achievements of the remote past which the brain of the present age, with all its advantages, is unable either to comprehend or to duplicate.
Going back four thousand years to about Abraham's time, we find the Great Pyramid of Egypt—an object of wonder and amazement to the most learned scientists of today. Its construction is in exact accord with the most advanced attainments of this "Brain Age" in the sciences of Mathematics and Astronomy. It teaches, positively, truths which can today be only approximated by the use of modern instruments. So striking and clear are its teachings that some of the foremost astronomers of the world have unhesitatingly pronounced it to be of divine origin. And even if our "Brain Age" evolutionists should admit that it is of divine arrangement, and that its wisdom is superhuman, they must still admit that it is of human construction. And the fact that in that remote day any set of men had the mental capacity to work out such a divine arrangement as very few men today would be capable of doing with a model before them, and with all modern scientific appliances at hand, proves that our "Brain Age" develops more self-conceit than circumstances and facts warrant.
If, then, we have proven that the mental capacity of today is not greater than that of past ages, but probably less, how shall we account for the increase of general knowledge, modern inventions, etc.? We trust we shall be able to show this reasonably and in harmony with Scripture. The inventions and discoveries which are now proving so valuable, and which are considered proof that this is the "Brain [A166] Age," are really very modern—nearly all having come within the past century, and among the most important are those of the last threescore years; for instance, the application of steam and electricity—in telegraphy, railroading and steamboating, and to the machinery of the various mechanical industries. If, then, these be evidences of increased brain power, the "Brain Age" must be only beginning, and the logical deduction is that another century will witness every form of miracle as an everyday occurrence; and at the same ratio of increase, where would it eventuate?
But let us look again: Are all men inventors? How very few there are whose inventions are really useful and practical, compared with the number who appreciate and use an invention when put into their hand! Nor do we speak disparagingly of that very useful and highly-esteemed class of public servants when we say that the smaller number of them are men of great brain-power. Some of the most brainy men in the world, and the deepest reasoners, are not mechanical inventors. And some inventors are intellectually so sluggish that all wonder how they ever stumbled into the discoveries they made. The great principles (electricity, steam power, etc.), which many men in many years work out, apply and improve upon, time and again, were generally discovered apparently by the merest accident, without the exercise of great brain power, and comparatively unsought.
From a human standpoint we can account for modern inventions thus: The invention of printing, in A.D. 1440, may be considered the starting point. With the printing of books came records of the thoughts and discoveries of thinkers and observers, which, without this invention, would never have been known to their successors. With books came a more general education and, finally, common schools. Schools and colleges do not increase human capacity, [A167] but they do make mental exercise more general, and hence help to develop the capacity already possessed. As knowledge becomes more general and books more common, the generations possessing these have a decided advantage over previous generations; not only in that there are now a thousand thinkers to one formerly, to sharpen and stimulate each other with suggestions, but also in that each of the later generations has, through books, the combined experience of the past in addition to its own. Education and the laudable ambition which accompanies it, enterprise, and a desire to achieve distinction and a competency, aided by the record and descriptions of inventions in the daily press, have stimulated and brightened man's perceptive powers, and put each upon the alert to discover or to invent, if possible, something for the good and convenience of society. Hence we suggest that modern invention, looked at from a purely human standpoint, teaches, not an increase of brain capacity, but a sharpened perception from natural causes.
And now we come to the Scriptures to see what they teach on the subject; for while we believe, as suggested above, that invention and the increase of knowledge, etc., among men are the results of natural causes, yet we believe that these natural causes were all planned and ordered by Jehovah God long ago, and that in due time they have come to pass—by his overruling providence, whereby he "worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." (Eph. 1:11) According to the plan revealed in his Word, God purposed to permit sin and misery to misrule and oppress the world for six thousand years, and then in the seventh millennium to restore all things, and to extirpate evil—destroying it and its consequences by Jesus Christ, whom he hath afore ordained to do this work. Hence, as the six thousand years of the reign of evil began to draw to a close, God permitted [A168] circumstances to favor discoveries, in the study of both his Book of Revelation and his Book of Nature, as well as in the preparation of mechanical and chemical appliances useful in the blessing and uplifting of mankind during the Millennial age, now about to be introduced. That this was God's plan is clearly indicated by the prophetic statement: "O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end; [then] many shall run to and fro, and KNOWLEDGE [not capacity] shall be increased," "and none of the wicked shall understand [God's plan and way], but the wise shall understand"; "and there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time." Dan. 12:1,4,10
To some it may appear strange that God did not so arrange that the present inventions and blessings should sooner have come to man to alleviate the curse. It should be remembered, however, that God's plan has been to give mankind a full appreciation of the curse, in order that when the blessing comes upon all they may forever have decided upon the unprofitableness of sin. Furthermore, God foresaw and has foretold what the world does not yet realize, namely, that his choicest blessings would lead to and be productive of greater evils if bestowed upon those whose hearts are not in accord with the righteous laws of the universe. Ultimately it will be seen that God's present permission of increased blessings is a practical lesson on this subject, which may serve as an example of this principle to all eternity—to angels as well as to restored men. How this can be, we merely suggest:
First: So long as mankind is in the present fallen or depraved condition, without stringent laws and penalties and a government strong enough to enforce them, the selfish propensities will hold more or less sway over all. And with the unequal individual capacities of men considered, it [A169] cannot possibly happen otherwise than that the result of the invention of labor-saving machinery must, after the flurry and stimulus occasioned by the manufacture of machinery, tend to make the rich richer, and the poor poorer. The manifest tendency is toward monopoly and self-aggrandizement, which places the advantage directly in the hands of those whose capacity and natural advantages are already the most favorable.
Secondly: If it were possible to legislate so as to divide the present wealth and its daily increase evenly among all classes, which is not possible, still, without human perfection or a supernatural government to regulate human affairs, the results would be even more injurious than the present condition. If the advantages of labor-saving machinery and all modern appliances were evenly divided, the result would, ere long, be a great decrease of hours of labor and a great increase of leisure. Idleness is a most injurious thing to fallen beings. Had it not been for the necessity of labor and sweat of face, the deterioration of our race would have been much more rapid than it has been. Idleness is the mother of vice; and mental, moral and physical degradation are sure to follow. Hence the wisdom and goodness of God in withholding these blessings until it was due time for their introduction as a preparation for the Millennial reign of blessing. Under the control of the supernatural government of the Kingdom of God, not only will all blessings be equitably divided among men, but the leisure will be so ordered and directed by the same supernatural government that its results will produce virtue and tend upward toward perfection, mental, moral and physical. The present multiplication of inventions and other blessings of increasing knowledge is permitted in this "day of preparation" to come about in so natural a way that men flatter themselves that it is because this is the "Brain Age"; but it will be permitted [A170] in great measure to work out in a manner very much to the disappointment, no doubt, of these wise philosophers. It is the very increase of these blessings that is already beginning to bring upon the world the time of trouble, which will be such as never has been since there was a nation.
The prophet Daniel, as quoted above, links together the increase of knowledge and the time of trouble. The knowledge causes the trouble, because of the depravity of the race. The increase of knowledge has not only given the world wonderful labor-saving machinery and conveniences, but it has also led to an increase of medical skill whereby thousands of lives are prolonged, and it has so enlightened mankind that human butchery, war, is becoming less popular, and thus, too, other thousands are spared to multiply still further the race, which is increasing more rapidly today, perhaps, than at any other period of history. Thus, while mankind is multiplying rapidly, the necessity for his labor is decreasing correspondingly; and the "Brain Age" philosophers have a problem before them to provide for the employment and sustenance of this large and rapidly increasing class whose services, for the most part supplanted by machinery, can be dispensed with, but whose necessities and wants know no bounds. The solution of this problem, these philosophers must ultimately admit, is beyond their brain capacity.
Selfishness will continue to control the wealthy, who hold the power and advantage, and will blind them to common sense as well as to justice; while a similar selfishness, combined with the instinct of self-preservation and an increased knowledge of their rights, will nerve some and inflame others of the poorer classes, and the result of these blessings will, for a time, prove terrible—a time of trouble, truly, such as was not since there was a nation—and this, because [A171] man in a depraved condition cannot properly use these blessings unguided and uncontrolled. Not until the Millennial reign shall have rewritten the law of God in the restored human heart will men be capable of using full liberty without injury or danger.
The day of trouble will end in due time, when he who spake to the raging Sea of Galilee will likewise, with authority, command the raging sea of human passion, saying, "Peace! Be still!" When the Prince of Peace shall "stand up" in authority, a great calm will be the result. Then the raging and clashing elements shall recognize the authority of "Jehovah's Anointed," "the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together"; and in the reign of the Christ thus begun "shall all the families of the earth be blessed."
Then men will see that what they attributed to evolution or natural development and the smartness of the "Brain Age" was, instead, the flashings of Jehovah's lightnings (Psa. 77:18) in "the day of his preparation" for the blessing of mankind. But as yet only the saints can see, and only the wise in heavenly wisdom can understand this; for "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant." (Psa. 25:14) Thanks be to God, that while general knowledge has been increased, he has also arranged that his children need "not be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord" and in the appreciation of his plans. And by this appreciation of his Word and plans we are enabled to discern and to withstand the vain philosophies and foolish traditions of men which contradict the Word of God.
The Bible account of man's creation is that God created him perfect and upright, an earthly image of himself; that man sought out various inventions and defiled himself (Gen. 1:27; Rom. 5:12; Eccl. 7:29); that, all being sinners, [A172] the race was unable to help itself, and none could by any means redeem his brother or give to God a ransom for him (Psa. 49:7,15); that God in compassion and love had made provision for this; that, accordingly, the Son of God became a man, and gave man's ransom-price; that, as a reward for this sacrifice, and in order to the completion of the great work of atonement, he was highly exalted, even to the divine nature; and that in due time he will bring to pass a restitution of the race to the original perfection and to every blessing then possessed. These things are clearly taught in the Scriptures, from beginning to end, and are in direct opposition to the Evolution theory; or, rather, such "babblings of science, falsely so called," are in violent and irreconcilable conflict with the Word of God.