THE WORK OF
Character of the
Harvest Work—Gathering the Wheat—Bundling and Binding
and Burning the Tares—Their Origin and Prolific Growth—Consumed Like
the Chaff of the Jewish Harvest—Time Correspondencies
Noted—The Casting off, Gradual Fall and Final Destruction
of Babylon—The Sealing of the Servants of God Before the Plagues
Come upon Babylon—Judgment or Trial, Both as Systems and
Individually—The Test of the Jewish System Typical—The Testing and
Sifting of the
Wheat—The Wise, Separated from the Foolish Virgins, Go
in to the Feast—“And the Door was Shut”—A Further
Inspection, and the
Casting Out of Some—Why? and How?—The Close of the “High Calling”—The Time is Short—“Let no Man Take Thy
Servants and Overcomers.
"Harvest" is a term which gives a general idea as to what work
should be expected to transpire between the dates 1874 and 1914.
It is a time of reaping rather than of sowing, a time of testing,
of reckoning, of settlement and of rewarding.
The harvest of the Jewish age being a type of the harvest of this
age, observation and comparison of the various features of that harvest
afford very clear ideas concerning the work to be accomplished
in the present harvest. In that harvest, our Lord’s special teachings
were such as to gather the wheat, who were such already, and to separate
the chaff of the Jewish nation from the wheat.
And his doctrines became also the seeds for the new dispensation,
which opened (shortly after the nation of Israel was cast off) at
Our Lord’s words to his disciples as he sent them forth, during
his ministry to that church-nation, should be carefully C_page 136
remembered, as giving proof that
their special work then was reaping, and not sowing. He said to them, “Lift up your eyes and look on the fields;
for they are white already to harvest: and he that reapeth receiveth wages,
and gathereth fruit unto life eternal.” (John 4:35,36)
As the chief reaper in that harvest (as he also is in this one),
the Lord said to the under-reapers, “I sent you to reap that whereon ye
bestowed no labor: other men [the patriarchs and prophets and other holy
men of old] labored, and ye are entered into their labors”—to reap the
fruits of those centuries of effort, and to test that people by the
message, “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and the King is
present—“Behold, thy King cometh unto thee.” Matt. 10:7; John
12:15; Zech. 9:9
In the Jewish harvest, the Lord, rather than to make goats into
sheep, sought the blinded and scattered sheep of Israel, calling for all
who already were his sheep,
that they might hear his voice and follow him.
These observations of the type furnish an intimation of the
character of the work due in the present harvest or reaping time. Another and a larger sowing, under the more favorable
conditions of the Millennial age and Kingdom, will soon be commenced:
indeed, the seeds of truth concerning restitution, etc., which will
produce that coming crop, are even now being
dropped here and there into longing, truth-hungry hearts.
But this is only an incidental work now; for, like its Jewish type,
the present harvest is a time for reaping the professed church (so-called
Christendom), that the true saints gathered out of it may be
exalted and associated with their Lord, not only to preach the truth, but
also to put into operation the great work of restitution for the
In this harvest, wheat and tares are to be separated; yet both of
these classes, previous to the separation, compose the nominal church.
The wheat are the true children of the C_page 137
Kingdom, the truly consecrated, the heirs, while the
tares are nominally, but not really, Christ’s Church or prospective
bride. The tares are the
class mentioned by our Lord, who call him Lord, but who do not obey him.
(Luke 6:46) In outward appearance, the two classes are often so much alike
as to require close scrutiny to distinguish between them.
“The field is the world,” in the parable, and the wheat and
tares together (the tares more numerous) constitute what is sometimes
called “The Christian World,” and “Christendom.”
By attending religious services occasionally or regularly, by
calling themselves Christians, by following certain rites and ceremonies,
and by being identified more or less directly with some religious system,
the tares look like, and sometimes pass for, God’s heart-consecrated
children. In so-called “Christian lands,” all except professed
Infidels and Jews are thus counted Christians; and their numbers
(including the few fully consecrated ones—the saints) are estimated at
about one hundred and eighty millions of Greek and Roman Catholics, and
about one hundred and twenty millions of Protestants.
During the Gospel age, our Lord’s instructions have been not to
attempt a separation of the true from the imitation children of the
Kingdom; because to accomplish a complete separation would occasion the
general turning of the world (the field) upside down—a general
unsettlement of the wheat, as well as of the tares.
He therefore said, “Let both grow together until the harvest.”
But he added, “In the time of harvest I will say unto the reapers
[angels, messengers], Gather ye together first the tares and bind them in
bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.” (Matt. 13:30)
Hence, in the time of harvest we must
expect a general separating work, hitherto prohibited.
While those symbolized by the wheat are ever encouraged to
stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ made them free, and to C_page 138
avoid entangling alliances with open transgressors
and with wolves in sheep’s clothing, yet they were not to attempt to
draw the line between the fully consecrated class (the wheat, the saints), and the tares
Christ’s name and doctrines, and who to some extent allow these
doctrines to influence their outward conduct,
but whose heart desires are far from the Lord and his service.
This judging of hearts, motives, etc., which is beyond our power,
and which the Lord commanded us to entirely avoid, is the very thing
which the various sects have all along endeavored to accomplish;
attempting to separate, to test the wheat, and to keep out as tares or
heretics, by rigorous creeds of human manufacture, all professors of
Christianity whose faith did not exactly fit their various false
measurements. Yet how
unsuccessful all these sects have been!
They have set up false, unscriptural standards and doctrines, which
have really developed many tares and choked and separated the wheat; for
instance, the doctrine of the everlasting torment of all not members of
the Church. Though now
becoming greatly modified, under the increasing light of our day, what a
multitude of tares this error has produced, and how it has choked and
blinded and hindered the wheat from a proper recognition of God’s
character and plan. Today we
see what a mistake the various sects have made in not following the
Lord’s counsel, to let wheat and tares, saints and professors, grow
together, without attempting a separation. Honest men in every
sect will admit that in their sects are many tares, professors not saints,
and that outside their sectarian bars are many saints.
Thus, no sect today either can or does claim to be all wheat, and free
from tares. Much less would
any earthly organization (except Christadelphians and Mormons) be bold
enough to claim that it contained all
of the wheat. Hence,
they are without any excuse for their organizations, theological fences,
etc. They do not separate C_page 139
wheat from tares, nor can anything completely and
thoroughly accomplish this separation of hearts except the method which
the Lord has ordained shall be put into execution in the time of harvest.
This shows the necessity for knowing when the time is at hand and
the harvest work of separating is due to begin.
And our Lord, true to his promise, has not left us in darkness, but
is giving the information now due, to all whose hearts are ready for it.
“Ye, brethren, are not in darkness [nor
sleep] that that day should overtake you as a thief.” 1 Thess. 5:4
truth now due is the sickle in this harvest, just as a similar
sickle was used in the Jewish harvest.
The reapers, the angels* or messengers, now, are the Lord’s
followers, just as a similar class were the reapers in the Jewish harvest.
And though others, throughout the age, were told not to attempt the
separation of the wheat from the tares, yet those now ready, worthy and
obedient will be shown the Lord’s plan and arrangement so clearly that
they will recognize his voice in the time of harvest,
saying, “Thrust in the sickle” of present truth, and “gather my
saints together unto me, those that have made a covenant with me by
shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my
jewels.” Psa. 50:5; Mal. 3:17
word “angel” signifies messenger.
Not only is this the time for the gathering of the saints by the
truth (into oneness with their Lord and each other, and out of fellowship
with mere professors, tares), but it is also a time for cleaning up the
field by consuming the tares, stubble, weeds, etc., preparatory to the new
sowing. In one sense the
“wheat” is gathered
out from among the tares—because of the greater abundance of tares—as
when the Lord says, “Come out of her, my people.”
Yet, in another sense, the separation is properly represented by
the tares C_page 140
being gathered from the wheat.
Really, the wheat has the place by right; it is a wheat-field, not
a tare-field (the world of mankind being counted the ground out of which
the wheat and also the tares grow or develop); so it is the tares that are
out of place and need to be removed. The Lord started the wheat-field, and the wheat represents
the children of the Kingdom. (Matt. 13:38)
And since the field or world is to be given to these, and already
belongs to them by promise, the parable shows that really it is the tares
that are gathered out and burned, leaving the field, and all in it, to the
wheat. The tares are returned
to the ground (world) whence they came, and the first-fruits of the wheat
are to be gathered into the garner, so that the earth may bring forth
The wheat was not to be bundled: the grains were originally planted
separate and independent, to associate only as one kind, under similar
conditions. But the parable
declares that one of the effects of the harvest will be to gather and bind
the tares in bundles before the “burning” or “time of trouble.”
And this work is in progress all around us. Never was there a time
like it for Labor Unions, Capitalistic Trusts and protective associations
of every sort.
The civilized world is the “field” of the parable.
In it, during the Reformation, the winds of doctrinal strife, from
one quarter and another, threw wheat and tares together into great batches
(denominations), inclining some in one direction (doctrinally), and some
in another. This huddled
wheat and tares closely together, and took away much of the individuality
of all. The doctrinal storms
are long past, but the divisions
continue from force of habit, and only here and there has a head of wheat
attempted to lift itself to uprightness from the weight of the mass.
But with the harvest time comes the release of the wheat from the
weight and hindrance of the tares. The
sickle of C_page 141
truth prepares this class for the freedom wherewith
Christ originally made all free, though the same sickle has an opposite
influence upon the tares. The spirit of the tares is toward sectarian greatness and
show, rather than toward individual obedience and allegiance to God.
Hence, present truths, the tendency of which they at once discover
to be to condemn all sectarianism, and to test each individual, they
reject and strongly oppose. And,
though disposed to unite with each other, all the sects unite in opposing
the disintegrating tendencies of present truth, to such an extent as to
draw the cords slowly, cautiously, yet tightly upon all individual thought and
study on religious subjects, lest their organizations should fall to
pieces and, all the wheat escaping, leave nothing but tares.
Each of the
tare class seems aware that, if examined individually, he would have no
claim to the Kingdom promised to the close followers of the Lamb. The tares would prefer to have the various sects judged as so
many corporations, and in comparison one with another, hoping thus to
glide into the Kingdom glory on the merits of the wheat with whom they are
associated. But this they
cannot do: the test of worthiness for the Kingdom honors will be an
individual one—of individual fidelity to God and his truth—and not a
trial of sects, to see which of them is the true one.
And each sect seems to realize, in the greater light of today,
which is scattering the mists of bigotry and superstition, that other
sects have as good (and as little) right as itself to claim to be the one
and only true church. Forced
to admit this, they seek to bind all by the impression that it is
essential to salvation to be joined to some one of their sects—it
matters little to which one. Thus
they combine the idea of individual responsibility with sectarian
As an illustration of a popular cord recently drawn tightly by
sectarianism upon its votaries, we cite the seemingly C_page 142
harmless, and, to many, seemingly advantageous,
International Sunday School Lessons.
These lend the impression of unsectarian cooperation in Bible
study, among all Christians. They
to be taking a grand step away from, and in advance of, the old methods of
studying with sectarian catechisms. These
uniform lessons have the appearance of being an abandonment of
sectarianism and a coming together of all Christians to study the Bible in
its own light—a thing which all recognize to be the only proper course,
but which all sectarians refuse to do actually; for, be it noticed, these
International S. S. Lessons only appear to be unsectarian: they only appear to grant liberty in
Bible study. Really, each
denomination prepares its own comments on the scriptures contained in the
lessons. And the committee which selects these lessons, aiming for the
outward appearance of harmony and union, selects such passages of
scripture as there is little difference of opinion upon.
The passages and doctrines upon which they disagree, the very ones
which need most to be discussed, in order that the truths and errors of
each sect may be manifested, that a real union might be arrived at upon
the basis of “one Lord, one faith and one baptism”—these are ignored
in the lessons, but still firmly held as before by each sect.
The effect of these and other similar “union” methods is to
make Protestantism more imposing in appearance, and to say to the people
in fact, if not in words: You must
join one of these sects, or you are not a child of God at all. Really, it
is not a union as one church, but a combination of separate and distinct
organizations, each as anxious as ever to retain its own organization as a
sect or bundle, but each willing to combine with others to make a larger
and more imposing appearance before the world.
It is like the piling of sheaves together in a shock.
Each sheaf retains its own bondage or organization, and becomes
bound yet more C_page 143
tightly by being wedged and fastened in with other
bundles, in a large and imposing stack.
The International Lesson system, in connection with modern methods
of “running” Sunday Schools, greatly aids sectarianism, and hinders
real growth in the knowledge of the truth, in yet another way.
So general a lesson is presented in
connection with the “exercises” of the school, that there is scarcely
time to consider the guarded, printed questions, with prepared answers;
and no time is left for the truth-hungry Bible student, or the occasional
earnest teacher, to bring out other questions of greater importance,
containing food for thought and profitable discussion.
Formerly, Bible classes met to study such portions of the Bible as
they chose, and were hindered from obtaining truth by the bondage of their
own prejudice and superstition only, and the earnest, truth-hungry ones
were always able to make some progress.
But now, when increasing light is illuminating every subject and
dispelling the fogs of superstition and prejudice, it is hindered from
shining upon the Bible class student by the very International Lessons
which claim to aid him. His
time for Bible study is skillfully directed, so that he may get no new
ideas, but be so continually occupied in the use of the “milk of the
word” (greatly diluted with the traditions of men), as to take away all
appetite for the “strong meat” of more advanced truth. (Heb. 5:14) In
such classes, all time and opportunity for tasting and learning to
appreciate “meat” is sacrificed, in obedience to the words, “We must
stick to our lesson; for the hour will soon expire.”
Well has the prophet, as well as the apostle, declared that, to
appreciate the great doctrines of God, so essential to our growth
in grace and in the knowledge and love of God, we must leave the first
principles and go on unto perfection—“weaned from the milk, and drawn
from the breasts.” Heb. 6:1; Isa. 28:9 C_page 144
While Sunday School methods have recently been considerably
improved, they still leave much to be desired. They contain some of the
best of the Lord’s people—who, anxious to serve the Master, are more
or less bewildered by the show of numbers and appearance of “work
for the Lord.” Some good is
accomplished, we admit, but it has its offsets.
The earnest are hindered from personal duty and progress, in the
doing of that which God committed to the parents, the neglect of which is
an injury to the parents as well as to the children.
The immature find the brief session and “exercises” more
agreeable than Bible study. They
are let to feel that they have performed a duty; and the sacrifice
of the few moments is repaid by the social gossip and interchange which it
affords. The little ones,
too, like the “exercises,” the singing, story-books, picnics, treats
and general entertainment, best; and they and their mothers feel well
repaid for the labor of dressing, by the opportunity thus afforded for
showing their fine clothing. And
the parental responsibility of religious home-training is very largely
resigned in favor of the sham and machinery of the Sunday School.
The Sunday School has been well named the nursery of the church and
the little ones thus brought up in the nurture and admonition of the
worldly spirit are the young shoots of that abundant crop of tares with
which great Babylon is completely overrun.
Wherever, here and there, an adult Bible class does exist, and the
teacher is candid and independent enough to leave the prescribed lesson,
and follow up more important topics, giving liberty for the truth to be
brought forward, whether favorable or unfavorable to the creed of the
sect, he is marked by the worldly-wise pastor or superintendent as an
unsafe teacher. Such teachers
are indeed dangerous to sectarianism, and are very soon without classes.
Such teachers, and the truths they would admit to candid
investigation, C_page 145
would soon cut the cords and scatter the sectarian
bundles, and hence are not long wanted.
Others are therefore preferred, who can hold the thoughts of their
classes, divert them from “strong meat,” and keep them unweaned babes,
too weak to stand alone, and bound to the systems which they learn to
love, and believe they would die without.
The true teacher’s place, and the true Bible student’s place,
is outside of all human bondage, free to examine and feed upon all
portions of the good Word of God, and untrammeled to follow the Lamb
whithersoever he leads. John 8:36; Gal. 5:1
While individual liberty must outwardly be recognized as never before, we see that really
there never was a time when the bands were so thoroughly drawn, to bind
all wheat and tares into the many bundles.
There never was a time when arrangements were so close, and so
restraining of all personal liberties, as now.
Every spare hour of a zealous sectarian is filled by some of the
many meetings or projects, so that no time for untrammeled thought and
Bible study can be had. The principal design of these meetings, entertainments,
etc., is sectarian growth and strength; and the effect is the bondage
mentioned, so detrimental to the real development of the consecrated
children of God, the wheat. These bands are being made stronger, as the
prophet intimates. (Isa. 28:22) Some
wheat and many tares constitute these bundles, from which it daily becomes
more difficult to get free.
From what we have seen of the small quantity of truly consecrated
wheat, and the great mass of “baptized profession” (as a Methodist
bishop has forcibly described the tare class), it is evident that the
burning of the tares will be a momentous event.
It is a mistake, however, which many make, to suppose that the
burning of the tares in a furnace of fire, where there shall be wailing
and gnashing of teeth C_page 146
(Matt. 13:42), refers either to a literal fire, or to
trouble beyond the present life. The
entire parable belongs to the present age.
Not only is this fire a symbol, as well as the wheat and the tares,
but it symbolizes the destruction of the tares, in the great time of trouble with
which this age is to close, and from which the wheat class is promised an
escape. (Mal. 3:17; Luke 21:36) The
great furnace of fire symbolizes the “great time of trouble” coming,
in the close of this harvest, upon the unworthy tare class of
Nor does the destruction of the tares imply the destruction, either
present or future, of all the individuals composing the tare class. It signifies rather a destruction
of the false pretentions of this class.
Their claim or profession is that they are Christians, whereas they
are still children of this world. When
burned or destroyed as tares, they will be recognized in their true
character—as members of the world, and will no longer imitate
Christians, as nominal members of Christ’s Church.
Our Lord explains that he sowed the good seed of the Kingdom, the
truth, from which springs all the true wheat class, begotten by the spirit of truth.
Afterward, during the night, the dark ages, Satan sowed tares.
Doubtless the tares were sown in the same manner as the wheat.
They are the offspring of errors.
We have seen how grievously the sanctuary and the host were defiled
by the great adversary and his blinded servants, and how the precious
vessels (doctrines) were profaned and misapplied by Papacy; and this is
but another showing of the same thing.
False doctrines begat false aims and ambitions in the Lord’s
wheat-field, and led many to Satan’s service, to sow errors of doctrine
and practice which have brought forth tares abundantly.
The field looks beautiful and flourishing to many, as they count by
the hundreds of millions.
But really the proportion of wheat is very small, and it had been
far better for the C_page 147
wheat, which has been choked and greatly hindered
from development by the tares, if the worldly-spirited tares had not been
in the Church, but in their own place in the world, leaving the
consecrated “little flock,” the only representatives of Christ’s
spirit and doctrine, in the field. Then
the difference between the Church and the world would be very marked, and
her growth, though apparently
less rapid, would have been healthy.
The great seeming success manifested by numbers and wealth and
social standing, in which many glory so much, is really a great injury,
and in no sense a blessing, either to the Church or to the world.
As we examine this subject, we find that many of these tares are
little to blame for their false position as imitation wheat.
Nor do many of them know that the tares are not the
real Church; for they regard the little flock of consecrated wheat as
extremists and fanatics. And,
when compared with the tare multitude, the Lord and the apostles
and all the wheat certainly do appear to be extremists and fanatics, if
the majority, the tares, be in the right.
The tares have been so thoroughly and so often assured that they
are Christians—that all are Christians except Jews, infidels and
heathens—that they could scarcely be expected to know to the contrary. False doctrines assure them that there are but two classes,
and that all who escape everlasting torment are to be joint-heirs with
Christ. Every funeral
discourse, except in the case of the miserably degraded and the openly
wicked and immoral, assures the friends of the peace and joy and heavenly
glory of the deceased; and, to prove it, passages of scripture are quoted,
which, from the context, should be seen to apply only to the fully
consecrated, the saints.
Naturally inclined to reprove themselves, to conscientiously deny
that they are saints, and to disclaim the rich promises of the Scriptures
to such, they are persuaded C_page 148
to claim them, by their no better informed
fellow-tares, both in pulpits and pews.
They conscientiously feel—indeed they are certain—that they
have done nothing which would justly merit everlasting torture; and their
faith in the false doctrines of “Christendom” leads them to hope, and
to claim, that they and all moral people are members of the Church to
which all the rich promises belong. Thus
they are tares by force of false doctrines, and not only occupy a false
position themselves, but misrepresent the truly high standard of saintship. Under the delusion of the error, they feel a sense of
security and satisfaction; for, measuring themselves and their lives with
those of the majority in the nominal church, and with their deceased
friends to whose funeral eulogies they have listened, they find themselves
at least average—and even more consistent than many of loud profession. Yet they are conscious that they have never made any real
consecration of heart and life, time and means, talents and opportunities,
to God and his service.
the “chaff” class of the Jewish nation was consumed in the close of
that harvest (Luke 3:17), so
this “tare” class will be consumed in this harvest.
As the chaff ceased from all pretention to divine favor as the
triumphing Kingdom of God, before that harvest closed in the great fire
of religious and political contention, which consumed that system, so it
shall be with the tare class of so-called “Christendom.” They will be
consumed; they will cease to be tares; they
will cease to deceive either themselves or others; they will cease to
apply to themselves the exceeding great and precious promises which belong
only to the overcoming saints; and, when their various so-called Christian
kingdoms, and their various religious organizations, rent by discords
induced by the increasing light of truth, will be consumed
in the fire already kindled, “the fire of God’s zeal” (the great
time of trouble with which this age will end— C_page 149 (Zeph. 3:8), they will cease to claim for their
worldly systems the name “Christendom.”
After telling of the burning of the tares, the parable further
shall the righteous [the wheat] shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of
their Father.” [What better
testimony than this could we have, that the true Church is not yet set up
in power, as God’s Kingdom, and that it will not be thus exalted until
this harvest is ended?] Then shall this sun of righteousness (of which
Christ Jesus will always be the central glory) arise with healing in his
beams, to bless, restore, purify and disinfect from sin and error the
whole world of mankind; the incorrigible being destroyed in the second
Let the fact be remembered that, in the typical Jewish harvest,
Israelites indeed, as well as imitation Israelites, constituted the Jewish
or Fleshly House of Israel; that only the true
Israelites were selected and gathered into the gospel garner, and honored
with the truths belonging to the Gospel age; and that all others of that
nation (“chaff”) were not physically destroyed (though of course many
lives were lost in their trouble), but were cut off from all Kingdom
favors in which previously they trusted and boasted.
Then trace the parallel and counterpart of this, in the treatment
of the “tares” in the present burning time.
Not only has the Lord shown us what to expect in this
“harvest,” and our share in it, both in being separated ourselves and,
as “reapers,” in using the sickle of truth to assist others to liberty
in Christ and separation from false human systems and bondages, but in
order to render us doubly sure that we are right, and that the separating
time of the harvest has arrived, he provided us proofs of the very year
the harvest work began, its length, and when it will close. These, already
examined, show that the close of 1874 marked the beginning, as the close
of 1914 will mark the C_page 150
end, of this 40 years of harvest; while all the
minutiae of the order and work of this harvest were portrayed in that of
the Jewish age, its type. Some
of the marked time-features of that typical harvest we will now examine,
and note the lessons which they teach, which are applicable now, and which
our Lord evidently designed for this purpose, so that we might not be in
either doubt or uncertainty, but might know of his plan, and be able to
act accordingly, with strength, as cooperators with him in carrying out
his revealed will.
All the time-features connected with the Jewish harvest (though
they sometimes indirectly related to the faithful), had their direct
bearing upon the great nominal mass, and marked periods of its trial,
rejection, overthrow and destruction as a system or church-nation.
Thus the Lord, as the Bridegroom and reaper, came (A.D. 29) not to
Israelites only, but to the entire mass. (John 1:11) The progress of the harvest work there disclosed the fact
that the grains of ripe wheat fit for the garner (the Gospel dispensation)
were few, and that the great mass was wheat merely in appearance—in
reality only “chaff,” devoid of the real wheat principle within.
When, three and a half years later (A.D. 33), our Lord assumed the
office of King, and permitted (what before he had refused—John 6:15)
that the people should mount him upon an ass and hail him King, it marked
a point in this antitypical, Gospel harvest more important far than that
of the type. The parallel to
this, as we have seen, points to 1874 as the time of our Lord’s second
presence as Bridegroom and Reaper, and to April 1878 as the time when he
began to exercise his office of King of kings and Lord of lords in very
deed—this time a spiritual King, present with all power, though
invisible to men.
The doings of our Lord, while there for a few hours typically C_page 151
acting as King of Israel, are deeply significant to
us, as unquestionably indicating, and shadowing forth, what must be
expected here. What men saw him do at that time,
such as riding on an ass into Jerusalem as king, and scourging the
money-changers out of the temple, we recognize as typical—as done here
on a larger scale, though the King, and the scourge of cords, and the
proclamation of kingly authority, are now manifested in a very different
way, and to the eye of faith only. But
the Jewish type serves to call attention to this fulfilment, which
otherwise we would not be able to appreciate.
The first work of the typical King was to reject the entire
church-nation of Israel as unworthy to be his Kingdom, or longer to be
treated as his special heritage. This was expressed thus: “O Jerusalem,
Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent
unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as
a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.
your house is left unto you desolate!” Matt. 23:37-39
This, when applied to the present harvest, teaches that as in A.D.
33 typical Israel, after being recognized as God’s people for 1845 years
by favors, chastisements, etc., was cast off, rejected by the King,
because found unworthy, after a trial and inspection of three and a half
years, so in the present harvest, after a similar three and a half years
of inspection, and at the close of a similar period of 1845 years of favor
and chastisement, nominal Christendom would be rejected by the King as
unworthy longer to receive any favors from him, or to be recognized in any
manner by him.
But, as the rejection of nominal Fleshly Israel did not imply the
rejection, individually, of any “Israelite indeed,” in whom was no
guile, but rather a still greater favor to such (who were set free from
the “blind guides,” and taught more directly and perfectly through new
spiritual channels—the apostles), so here we must expect the same.
The C_page 152
spiritual favors, formerly bestowed upon the nominal
mass, belong henceforth only to the faithful and obedient. Henceforth the
light, as it becomes due, and “the meat in due season for the household
of faith,” must be expected, not through former channels, in any degree,
but through faithful individuals outside of the fallen, rejected
During his ministry, and up to the time when, as King, he cast off
the Jewish system, our Lord recognized the scribes and Pharisees as the
legitimate instructors of the people, even though he often upbraided them
as hypocrites who deceived the people.
This is evident from the Lord’s words (Matt. 23:2)—“The
scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat; whatsoever therefore they
bid you do, that observe and do.” So,
likewise, for a time the great religious rulers of nominal Christendom in
Synods, Conferences, Councils, etc., measurably sat in Christ’s seat as
instructors of the people, as the Jewish Sanhedrin once occupied Moses’
seat. But as, after A.D. 33,
the scribes and Pharisees were no longer recognized by the Lord in any
sense, and the true Israelites were no longer instructed by these, but by
God himself, through other, humbler, untitled and more worthy instruments,
who were raised up among the people and specially taught of God, so we
must expect and do find it here, in this parallel harvest.
The taking of the kingly office by our Lord in A.D. 33, and his
first official act in rejecting the national church of fleshly Israel,
taken in connection with all the striking parallels of the two ages,
indicate very clearly that at the parallel point of time in the present
harvest, i.e., 1878, mystic Babylon, otherwise called Christendom, the
antitype of Judaism, was cut off; and there went forth the message,
“Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of
devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and
hateful bird.” Rev. 18:2 C_page 153
The fall, plagues, destruction, etc., foretold to come upon mystic
Babylon, were foreshadowed in the great trouble and national destruction
which came upon fleshly Israel, and which ended with the complete
overthrow of that nation in A.D. 70.
And the period of falling also corresponds; for from the time our
Lord said, “Your house is left unto you desolate,” A.D. 33, to A.D. 70
was 36 1/2 years; and so from A.D. 1878 to the end of A.D. 1914 is 36 1/2
years. And, with the end of
A.D. 1914, what God calls Babylon, and what men call Christendom, will
have passed away, as already shown from prophecy.
Judaism was a divinely appointed type of the Millennial Kingdom of
Christ which will control and regulate all matters; hence Judaism was
properly a union of church and state—of religious and civil government.
But, as we have already shown, the Gospel Church was in no sense to
be associated in, or to have anything to do with, the government of the
world, until her Lord, the King of kings, comes, assumes control, and
exalts her as his bride to share in that reign of righteousness. Neglecting the Lord’s words, and following human wisdom,
theories and plans, the great system called Christendom, embracing all
governments and creeds professing to be Christ’s (but a miserable counterfeit of the
true Kingdom of Christ), was organized before the time, without the Lord,
and of wholly unfit elements. The
fall of Babylon as an unfit church-state system, and the gathering out of
the worthy wheat, therefore, can be and is well illustrated by the fall of
The name Babylon originally signified God’s
gateway; but afterward, in derision, it came to mean mixture
or confusion. C_page 154
In the book of Revelation this name is applied
specifically to the church nominal, which, from being the gate-way to
glory, became a gate-way to error and confusion, a miserable mixture
composed chiefly of tares, hypocrites—a confused mass of worldly
profession in which the Lord’s jewels are buried, and their true beauty
and luster hidden. In symbolic prophecy, the term Babylon is applied at
times only to the Church of Rome, called “Babylon the Great, the Mother
of Harlots.” The name could apply only to her for centuries, so long as
she was the only mixed system and would tolerate no others; but other
ecclesiastical systems, not so great as the “mother,” nor yet so
wicked, nor so radically wrong, sprang up out of her, through various
attempted though imperfect reforms. Errors,
tares and worldliness in these also largely predominating, the name
Babylon is used as a general or family name for all the nominal Christian
systems, and now includes not only the Church of Rome, but all Protestant
sects as well; for, since Papacy is designated the mother system, we must
regard the various Protestant systems which descended from her as the
daughters—a fact very generally admitted by Protestants, and sometimes
Previous to the harvest time, many of God’s people in Great
Babylon discovered her real predominant character to be grossly
antichristian (notably the Waldenses, the Huguenots and the reformers of
the sixteenth century); and, calling attention to the fact, they separated
from the mother system and led others with them, many of whom were tares,
as the prophet had predicted, saying, “Many shall cleave to them with
flatteries.” (Dan. 11:34) Here
were the separatings of the politico-doctrinal storms before the harvest
time. Among these the tares,
still predominating, formed other, though less objectionable, Babylonish
Thus the wheat, though from time to time endeavoring C_page 155
to free themselves from the incubus of the tares (and
especially from the grosser errors which fostered and produced the tares),
and though blessed by these efforts, were still under their influence,
still mixed with large predominance of the tare element. But for the wheat’s sake God’s favor extended even to
these mixed bunches or Babylonish systems; and not until God’s time for
effecting a complete and final separation—in the time of harvest,
1878—were those systems completely and forever cast off from all favor,
and sentenced to swift destruction, and all of God’s people explicitly
and imperatively called out of them.
In the very beginning of the age, God’s people were warned
against the deceptions of Antichrist, and taught to keep separate from it;
and yet, for their trial and testing, they were permitted to be in a
measure deceived by it and more or less mixed up with it.
Every awakening to a realization of unchristian principles,
doctrines and doings, which led to reform measures, tested and proved the
wheat class, and helped to purify them more and more from the pollutions
of Antichrist. But this last testing and positive call, coupled with the
utter rejection of those systems, no longer to receive divine favor (as
they had formerly received it, for the sake of the wheat in them), is to
effect the final separation of the wheat class from all antichristian
systems and principles. What
truths those systems formerly held are now fast being swept away from
them, being displaced by theories of men, subversive of every element of
divine truth; and vital godliness and piety are being rapidly displaced by
the love of pleasure and the spirit of the world.
With the declaration that Babylon is fallen comes also the command
to all of God’s people still in her, to come out—“And I heard
another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my
people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive
not of her plagues.” (Rev. 18:4) The expression, “Babylon is fallen:
Come out of her, my C_page 156
people,” clearly marks two thoughts which should be
distinctly remembered. It
indicates that at one time Babylon was not fallen from divine favor; that
for a time she retained a measure of favor, notwithstanding her mixed
character; that, however large the proportion of error which she held, and
however little of the spirit of Christ which she manifested, she was not
entirely cast off from God’s favor until the harvest time of separation.
It indicates that at some time a sudden and utter rejection is to
come upon Babylon, when all favor will forever cease, and when judgments
will follow—just such a rejection as we have shown was due in 1878.
It indicates, also, that at the time of Babylon’s rejection many
of God’s people would be in and associated with Babylon; for it is after
Babylon’s rejection, or fall from favor, that these are called
to—“Come out of her, my people.”
The contrast between the many gradual reform movements of the past
four hundred years and this final complete separation should be clearly
discerned: they were permitted attempts to reform
Babylon, while this recognizes her as beyond all hope of
reform—“Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord’s hand, that made
all the earth drunken; the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the
nations are mad [intoxicated with her errors].
Babylon is suddenly fallen and broken: wail for her; take balm for
her wound, if so be she may be healed.
would have healed Babylon,
but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go every one unto his own
country [to the true Church, or to the world, as the case may be,
according as each is thus proved to be of the wheat or the tares]: for her
punishment reacheth unto heaven.” Jer. 51:7-9.
Compare Rev. 17:4; 14:8; 18:2,3,5,19.
Unhealed Babylon is now sentenced to destruction: the whole
system—a system of systems—is rejected, and all of God’s people not
in sympathy with her false doctrines andm C_page 157 practices are now called to separate themselves from
her. The prophet gives the reason for this sentence of rejection, and the
failure of some to comprehend it, saying:
“The stork in the heavens knoweth her appointed times; and the
turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming
home; but my people know not the arrangement of the Lord.
[They do not recognize that a harvest time of full and complete
separation of wheat, from chaff and tares, must come.
In this they show less discernment than the migratory fowls.]
How can ye say, We are wise, and the Law of the Lord is with us
[when you cannot discern the harvest time and the change of dispensations
then due]? Truly, behold in
vain wrought the pen, in vain the writers [because the word of the Lord by
his prophets and apostles is made void, and set aside without attention,
and creeds formed in the past “dark ages” are the lightless lanterns
of them that walk in darkness]. The
wise (?) [learned] men are ashamed; they are disheartened [by the failure
of their cherished human schemes] and caught: lo, the word of the Lord
have they rejected, and what wisdom have they [now]?
[Compare Isaiah 29:10.] Therefore
will I give their wives [churches] unto others, and their fields [of
labor] to the conquerors; for, from the least even to the greatest, every
one [of them] is seeking his own personal advantage—from the prophet
[orator] even unto the priest [minister], every one practiceth falsehood.
[Compare Isa. 56:10-12; 28:14-20.]
And they heal the sore of the daughter of my people [nominal
Zion—Babylon] very lightly, saying, Peace, peace: when there is no peace
[when her whole system is diseased, and needs thorough cleansing with the
medicine of God’s Word—the truth].
They should have been ashamed of their abominable work; but they
neither felt the least shame, nor did they know how to blush: therefore
[the teachers] fall among them that fall; in the time of their visitation
[or inspection—in the “harvest”] C_page 158
they shall stumble, saith the Lord.
I will surely make an end of them, saith the Lord; there shall be
left no grapes on the vine, and no figs on the fig tree, and the leaf
shall wither; and the things that I have given them [all divine favors and
privileges] shall pass away from them.” Jer. 8:7-13
The succeeding verse shows that many of the rejected will realize
the troubles coming, yet will still be blind to their real cause. They will say, Let us unite ourselves and entrench ourselves
in the strong cities [governments], and keep
silence. They somehow
realize that neither reason nor Scripture supports their false doctrines,
and that the wisest method is to keep silent, in the shadow of old
superstitions and under the protection of so-called Christian governments.
They are here represented as saying very truly: “The Lord hath put us to
silence, and given us bitter poison-water to drink.”
The only refreshment they may have is the cup which they have mixed
(the poison of bitter error, the “doctrine of devils,” mingled with
the pure water of life, the truth of God’s Word).
Shall not such as are of and who love Babylon, and who are
therefore unready to obey the command, “Come out of her,” be forced to
drink the cup of their own mixing? Shall not such be forced to admit the falsity of their
doctrines? They surely shall;
and they will all be thoroughly nauseated by it.
The next verse tells of the disappointment of their expectations,
which were that their bitter (poison-water) doctrines would have converted
the world and brought about the Millennium.
They say, “We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time
of health, and behold trouble!”—The disease of nominal Zion will grow
rapidly worse from the time of her visitation and rejection, when the
“Israelites indeed,” obeying the divine call, begin to come out of the
Some wonder why the Lord does not institute a still greater reform
than any of the past, which have proved so futile and short-lived. They ask, Why does he not pour C_page 159
out a blessing upon all the great sects and
amalgamate them all into one, or else upon some one and purify it of
dross, and draw all others into it? But,
we ask, Why not also amalgamate all the kingdoms of earth into one, and
It should be sufficient for all of God’s children to know that
such is not what he reveals as his plan.
And a little further reflection, from the standpoint of God’s
Word, shows us the unreasonableness of such a suggestion.
Consider the number of the professed church (four hundred millions)
and ask yourself, How many of these would themselves claim to be fully
consecrated, mind and body, to the Lord and the service of his
plan? Your own
observation must lead you to the conclusion that to separate the
“wheat” from the “tares,” by removing the “tares,” would in
almost every instance leave but a small handful even in the largest church
buildings or cathedrals.
The reason for not attempting to purify the nominal systems is that
no amount of cleansing would make the unconsecrated mass of
“Christendom” and their organizations, civil and ecclesiastical,
suitable to the Lord’s work, now to be commenced in the earth.
During the past eighteen centuries he has been selecting the truly
consecrated, the worthy ones, and now all that remains to be done is to
select from among the living those of the same class—and they are but
few—as only a few are lacking to complete the foreordained number of
members in the body of Christ.
The reason for discarding all human organizations, and not
reforming the least objectionable one and calling out of all others into
it, now, is shown by our Lord’s treatment of the various Jewish sects in
the harvest or close of their dispensation; for then, as now, all were
rejected, and the “Israelites indeed” were called out of all, into
freedom, and taught the will and plan of God by various chosen vessels of
God’s own selection. C_page 160
Illustrating this subject to the Jews, the Lord in two parables
explained the wisdom of his course: first, that a patch of new cloth upon
a very old garment would only make the weakness of the garment more
noticeable, and from the inequality of strength the rent would be made
greater; second, that new wine put into old wine-skins, out of which all
the stretch and elasticity had gone, would be sure to damage, rather than
benefit, for the result would be not only to speedily burst and destroy
the old wine-skins, but also to lose the valuable new wine.
Our Lord’s new doctrines were the new wine, while the Jewish
sects were the old wine-skins. Suppose
that our Lord had joined one of those sects and had begun a reform in it:
what would have been the result? There
can be no doubt that the new truths, if received, would have broken up
that sect completely. The
power of its organization, built largely upon sectarian pride, and
cemented by errors, superstitions and human traditions, would forthwith
have been destroyed, and the new doctrines would have been left
stranded—hampered, too, by all the old errors and traditions of that
sect, and held responsible for its past record by the world in
For the same reasons, the Lord here, in the present harvest, in
introducing the fuller light of truth, at the dawn of the Millennial age,
does not put it as a patch upon any of the old systems, nor as new wine
into old skins. First,
because none of them are in a fit condition to be patched, or to receive
the new doctrines. Second,
because the new truths, if received, would soon begin to work, and would
develop a power which would burst any sect, no matter how thoroughly
organized and bound. If
tried, one after another, the result would be the same, and, in the end,
the new wine (doctrines) would have none to contain and preserve it.C_page 161
The proper and best course was the one followed by our Lord at the
first advent. He made an
entirely new garment out of the new stuff, and put the new wine into new
wine-skins; i.e., he called out the Israelites indeed (non-sectarian), and
committed to them the truths then due.
And so now: he is calling out the truth-hungry from nominal
spiritual Israel; and it becomes them to accept the truth in the Lord’s
own way, and to cooperate with him heartily in his plan, no matter which,
or how many, of the old wine-skins are passed by and rejected as unfit to
contain it. Rejoice, rather,
that you are counted worthy to have this new wine of present truth
testified to you, and, as fast as proved, receive it and act upon it
Those who at the first advent waited to learn the opinion and
follow the lead of prominent sectarians, and who inquired, “Have any of
the scribes or Pharisees believed on him?” did not receive the truth,
because they were followers of men rather than of God; for prominent
sectarians then did not accept of Christ’s teaching, and the same class
always have been, and still are, the blindest leaders of the blind.
Instead of accepting the truth and being blessed, they “fall”
in the time of trial. The old
garment and the old wine-skins are so out of condition as to be totally
unfit for further use.
Since it is the Lord who calls his people out of Babylon, we cannot
doubt that, whatever may be his agencies for giving the call, all truly
his people will hear it; and not only will their obedience be tested by
the call, but also their love of Babylon and affinity for her errors will
be tested. If they approve
her doctrines, methods, etc., so as to be loathe to leave her, they will
prove themselves unworthy of present truth, and deserving of her coming
plagues. But the words of the call indicate that God’s true people
in Babylon are C_page 162 not to be considered as implicated in her sins of
worldliness and ignoring of divine truth, up
to the time they shall learn that Babylon is fallen—cast off.
Then, if they continue in her, they are esteemed as being of her, in the sense of
approving her wrong deeds and doctrines, past and present, and shall be
counted as partakers
of her sins, and therefore meriting a share of their punishment, the
plagues coming upon her. See
How strong the expression, “She is become the habitation of
demons, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and
hateful bird.” How true it
is, that the most execrable of society seek and wear the garb of Christian
profession and ceremonialism, in some of the various quarters (sects) of
Babylon. Every impure principle and doctrine, somehow and somewhere,
finds representation in her. And
she is a “cage” which holds securely not only the Lord’s meek and
gentle doves, but also many unclean and hateful birds.
Of all the defaulters, and deceivers of men and of women, how many
are professedly members of Christ’s Church! and how many even use their
profession as a cloak under which to forward evil schemes!
It is well known that a majority of even the most brutal criminals
executed die in the Roman Catholic communion.
Babylon has contained both the best and the worst, both the cream
and the dregs, of the population of the civilized world.
The cream is the small class of truly consecrated ones, sadly mixed
up with the great mass of mere professors and the filthy, criminal dregs;
but under favorable conditions the cream class will be separated in the
present harvest, preparatory to being glorified.
As an illustration of the proportion of the unclean and hateful
birds, in and out of Babylon, note the following official report of the
condition of society in a quarter of the wheatfield where “Orthodoxy”
has for centuries boasted of C_page 163
the fine quality and purity of its wheat and the
fewness of its tares, and where “The
Church,” so-called, has been associated with the government in making
the laws and in ruling the people:
The Status of Society in England and Wales
Parliamentary Report Made in 1873
Population by Religious Professions
|Church of England
[Protestants other than Episcopalians]
Total Number of Criminals in Jails
|Church of England
Criminals to Every 100,000 Population
|Church of England
Proportion of Criminals
|Church of England
||1 in 666
||1 in 20,000
The cause of this mixed condition is stated: “Babylon made all
the peoples drunk with the wine [spirit, influence] of her
fornication”—worldly affiliation. (Rev. 18:3)
False teachings concerning the character and mission of the Church,
and the claim that the time for her exaltation and reign had come (and
particularly after the great boom of success which her worldly ambition
received in the time of Constantine, when she claimed to be the Kingdom of
up to reign in power and great glory), led many into Babylon, who
would never have united with her had she continued in the narrow way of
sacrifice. Pride and ambition
led to the grasping of worldly power by the early Church.
To obtain the power, numbers and worldly influence were necessary.
And to obtain the numbers, which, under present conditions, the
truth never would have drawn, false doctrines were broached, and finally
obtained the ascendancy over all others; and even truths which were still
retained were disfigured and distorted.
The numbers came, even to hundreds of millions, and the true
Church, the wheat, still but a “little flock,” was hidden among the
millions of tares. Here, as
sheep in the midst of devouring wolves, the true embryo Kingdom of God
suffered violence, and the violent took it by force; and, like their Lord,
in whose footprints they followed, they were despised and rejected of men,
men of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
But now, as the Millennial morning dawns, and the doctrinal errors
of the dark night past are discovered, and the real gems of truth are
lighted up, the effect must be, as designed, to separate completely the
wheat from the tares. And, as false doctrines produced the improper
development, so the unfolding of truth in the light of harvest will
produce the separation. All
of the tares and some of the wheat are fearful, however.
To them it seems that the dissolution of Babylon would be the
overthrow of God’s work, C_page 165
and the failure of his cause.
But not so: the tares never were wheat, and God never proposed to
recognize them as such. He merely permitted, “let,” them both grow
together until the harvest. It
is from Babylon’s “cage” of unclean birds that God’s people are
called out, that they may both enjoy the liberty and share the harvest
light and work, and prove themselves out of harmony with her errors of
doctrine and practice, and thus escape them and their reward—the plagues
coming upon all remaining in her.
These plagues or troubles, foreshadowed in the troubles upon the
rejected Jewish house, are pictured in such lurid symbols in the book of
Revelation that many students have very exaggerated and wild ideas on this
subject, and are therefore unprepared for the realities now closely
impending. They often interpret the symbols literally, and hence are
unprepared to see them fulfilled as they will be—by religious, social
and political disturbances, controversies, upheavals, reactions,
But note another item here. Between
the time when Babylon is cast off, falls from favor (1878), and the time
when the plagues or troubles come upon her, is a brief interval, during
which the faithful of the Lord’s people are all to be informed on this
subject, and gathered out of Babylon. This is clearly shown in the same
verse; for with the message, “Babylon is fallen,” is coupled the call,
“Come out of her, my
people, that ye...receive not of her [coming] plagues.”
This same interval of time, and the same work to be accomplished in
it, are also referred to in symbol, in Rev. 7:3. To the messenger of wrath
the command is given, “Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the
trees, until we have
SEALED the servants of our God in their foreheads.”
The forehead sealing indicates that a mental comprehension of the
truth will be the mark or seal which will separate and distinguish the
servants of God from the servants and votaries C_page 166
of Babylon. And
this agrees with Daniel’s testimony: “The wise [of thy people] shall
understand; but none of the wicked [unfaithful to their covenant] shall
understand.” (Dan. 12:10) Thus
the classes are to be marked and separated before the plagues come upon
rejected, cast off Babylon.
And that this knowledge is to be both a sealing and a separating agent is
clearly implied in the verse before considered; for the declaration is
first made, that “Babylon is fallen,” and that certain plagues or
punishments are coming upon her, before the Lord’s people are expected
to obey the command, “Come out,” based upon that knowledge.
Indeed, we know that all must be well “sealed in their
foreheads”—intelligently informed—concerning God’s plan, before
they can rightly appreciate or obey this command.
And is it not apparent that this very work of sealing the servants
of God is now progressing? Are
we not being sealed in our foreheads? and that, too, at the very proper
time? Are we not being led, step by step, as by the Lord’s own hand—by
his Word—to an appreciation of truth and affairs in general from his
standpoint—reversing our former opinions derived from other sources, on
many subjects? Is it not true
that the various divisions or sects of Babylon have not been the channels
through which this sealing has come to us, but rather that they have been
hindrances which prevented its speedier accomplishment?
And do we not see the propriety of it, as well as of the Lord’s
declaration, that a separation of wheat and tares must occur in the
harvest? And do we not see it to be his plan, to reveal the facts to his
faithful, and then to expect them to show their hearty sympathy with that
plan by prompt obedience? What
if to obey and come out obliges us to leave behind the praise of men, or a
comfortable salary, or a parsonage home, or financial aids in business, or
domestic peace, or what not?— C_page 167
yet let us not fear. He who says to us “Come!” is the same who said
“Come!” to Peter when he walked on the sea.
Peter, in obeying, would have sunk, had not the Lord’s
outstretched arm upheld him; and the same arm supports them well who now,
at his command, come out of Babylon. Look not at the boisterous sea of
difficulties between, but, looking directly to the Lord, be of good
The command is Come, not Go; because in coming out of bondage to
human traditions, and creeds, and systems, and errors, we are coming directly to our Lord,
to be taught and fed by him, to be strengthened and perfected to do all
his pleasure, and to stand, and not to fall
God’s Word reveals the fact that the nominal church, after its
fall from his favor and from being his mouthpiece (Rev. 3:16), will
gradually settle into a condition of unbelief, in which the Bible will
eventually be entirely ignored in fact, though retained in name, and in
which philosophic speculations of various shades will be the real creeds.
From this fall the faithful sealed ones will escape; for they will
be “accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and
to stand”—not fall, in the time of the Lord’s presence. (Luke 21:36)
In fact, many are already thus settling—retaining the forms of
worship, and faith in a Creator and in a future life, but viewing these
chiefly through their own or other men’s philosophies and theories, and
ignoring the Bible as an infallible teacher of the divine purposes. These,
while retaining the Bible, disbelieve its narratives, especially that of
Eden and the fall. Retaining
the name of Jesus, and calling him the Christ and the Savior, they regard
him merely as an excellent though not infallible exemplar, and reject
entirely his ransom-sacrifice—his cross. Claiming the Fatherhood of God
to extend to sinners, they repudiate both the curse and the
It has not been generally observed that at the first advent C_page 168
our Lord’s ministry of three and a half years, up
to the casting off of the Jewish nation (their church and nation being
one), was a trial or testing of that polity or system as
a whole, rather than of its individual
members. Its clerical
class—Priests, Scribes and Pharisees—represented that system as a
whole. They themselves
claimed thus to represent Judaism (John 7:48,49), and the people so
regarded them; hence the force of the inquiry, Have any of the rulers or
Pharisees believed on him? And
our Lord so recognized them: he rarely rebuked the people for failure to receive him, but repeatedly held
responsible the “blind leaders,” who would neither enter into the
Kingdom themselves, nor permit the people, who otherwise would have
received Jesus as Messiah and King, to do so.
Our Lord’s constant effort was to avoid publicity—to prevent
his miracles and teachings from inciting the
people, lest they should take him by force, and make him king
(John 6:15); and yet he constantly brought these testimonies or evidences
of his authority and Messiahship to the notice of the Jewish clergy, up to
the time when, their trial as a church-nation being ended, their house or
system was cast off, “left desolate.”
Then, by his direction and under the apostles’ teachings, all
efforts were directed to the people individually; and the cast off
church-organization and its officers, as such, were wholly ignored.
In evidence that during his ministry, and until their system was
rejected, the teachers and priests represented it, note the Lord’s
course with the cleansed leper, as recorded in Matt. 8:4.
Jesus said to him, “See thou tell no man; but go thy way, show thyself to
the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for
a testimony unto THEM.” The
evidence or testimony was to be hidden from the people for a time, but to
be promptly given to their “rulers,” who represented the Jewish church in the
trial then in progress.
We should notice particularly the object and results of the trial
of the Jewish church as a system, because of their typical bearing upon
the present trial of the Gospel Church, as well as their relationship
toward the entire plan of God. They
professed, in harmony with God’s promises, to be the people ready
for the coming Messiah, the people whom he would organize, empower, direct
and use as his “own
people,” in blessing all the other nations of the earth, by
bringing all to a full knowledge of God and to opportunities of harmony
with his righteous laws. God,
though by his foreknowledge aware that Fleshly Israel would be unfit for
the chief place in this great work, nevertheless gave them every
opportunity and advantage the same as though he were ignorant of the
results. Meanwhile he disclosed his foreknowledge in prophetic
statements which they could not comprehend, lest we
should suppose that he had experimented, and failed, in his dealings with
the Jewish people.
So long as Israel as a church-nation claimed to be ready, waiting
and anxious to carry out their part of the program, it was but just that
they should be tested,
before God’s further plan should go into effect. That further plan was, that when the natural seed of Abraham
should, by their testing, be proved unfit for the chief honor promised and
sought, then an election or selection should be made, during the Gospel
age, of individuals worthy of the high honor of being the promised seed of
Abraham, and joint-heirs with Messiah in the promised Kingdom, which would
lift up and bless all the families of the earth. Gal. 3:16,27-29,14
The “seventy-weeks” (490 years) of divine favor promised to the
Jewish people could not fail of fulfilment; and hence in no sense could
Gentiles, or even Samaritans, be invited to become disciples, or in any
sense to be associated with the Kingdom which Christ and the apostles
preached. (Acts 3:26) “It
was necessary that the word of God [the invitation C_page 170
to share the Kingdom] should first have been preached to
you,” said Paul, addressing Jews. (Acts 13:46) “Go not into
the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not;
but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”; and again: “I
am not sent, except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” said the
Master, sending forth his disciples. Matt. 10:5; 15:24
The entire “seventieth week,” in the midst of which Christ
died—the seven years from the beginning of our Lord’s ministry to the
sending of Peter to preach to Cornelius, the first Gentile convert—was
set apart by God’s arrangement for the Jewish trial.
But instead of testing them as a whole (as a church-nation) all of
those seven years, that testing was “cut short in
righteousness”—that is, not to their disadvantage, but to their
advantage. Because it was
evident, not only to God but to men also, that the Pharisees, priests and
scribes not only rejected, but toward the last hated, the Lord Jesus and
sought to kill him; therefore, when the time had come for him to offer
himself publicly as King,
riding to them on the ass, when not received by the representatives of the
church-nation, the King promptly disowned that system, though the common
people received him gladly and insisted on his recognition as king. (Mark
12:37) Thus our Lord cut short the further useless trial, in order that
the remainder of that “seventieth week” might be spent specially and
exclusively upon the people,
of that cast-off system—before the efforts of the ministers of the new
dispensation should be distributed broadcast to all nations.
And it was so; for our Lord, after his resurrection, when telling
his disciples that their efforts need no longer be confined to Jews only,
but might be extended to “all nations,” was particular to add—“beginning at Jerusalem.”
(Luke 24:47) And he knew well
that their Jewish ideas would hinder them from going beyond the Jews until C_page 171
he should in due time open the way—as he did at the
end of their favor, by sending Peter to Cornelius. Since that time, individual Jews and Gentiles have shared the
privileges of God’s favor equally, both being alike acceptable, in and
through Christ; for in the present call “there is no difference” so
far as God is concerned—the difference unfavorable to the Jew being his
own prejudice against accepting, as a gift through Christ, the blessings once offered him upon
condition of his actual compliance with the full letter and spirit of
God’s law, which none in the fallen state could fulfil.
That “seventieth week,” with all the particulars of the testing
of Fleshly Israel, not only accomplished the purpose of testing that
system, but it also and specially furnished a typical representation of a
similar testing of the nominal Gospel Church or Spiritual Israel, called
“Christendom” and “Babylon,” during seven corresponding years,
which began the harvest of the Gospel age—the period from October 1874
to October 1881. “Christendom,”
“Babylon,” professes to see the failure of its prototype, Fleshly
Israel, and claims to be the true spiritual
seed of Abraham, and to be ready, waiting and anxious to convert the
heathen world, and to righteously rule and teach and bless all nations,
just as the Jewish system professed.
The present is like the typical age, also, in the fact that the
leaders then had generally come to regard the promises of a coming Messiah
as figurative expressions; and only the commoner class of the people
expected a personal Messiah. The
learned among the Jews, then, ignored an individual Messiah, and expected
that their church-nation would triumph over others by reason of its
superior laws, and thus fulfil all that the common people supposed would
require a personal Messiah to accomplish. (And this is the view that is
still held by “learned” Jewish teachers, or Rabbis, who interpret the
Messianic C_page 172
prophecies as applicable to their church-nation, and
not to an individual Savior of the world.
Even the prophecies which refer to the sufferings of Christ they
apply to their sufferings as a people.)
Carrying out their theory, they were sending missionaries
throughout the world, to convert the world to the Law of Moses, expecting
thus to reach and “bless all the families of the earth,” aside from a
personal Messiah. To such an
extent was this the case, that our Lord remarked it, saying, “Ye compass
sea and land to make one proselyte.”
How similar to this is the theory of nominal “Christendom”
today. The common people,
when their attention is drawn to the fact that the Lord promised to come
again, and that the apostles and prophets predicted that the Millennium,
or Times of Restitution, would result from the second coming of the Lord
(Acts 3:19-21), are inclined to accept the truth and to rejoice in it,
just as a similar class did at the first advent.
But today, as eighteen hundred years ago, the chief priests and
rulers of the people have a more advanced (?) idea.
They claim that the promises of Millennial blessedness, of peace on
earth and good will among men, can and must be brought about by their
efforts, missions, etc., without the personal coming of the Lord Jesus;
and thus they make void the promises of the second advent and the coming
The present chief priests and rulers, the “clergy” of
“Christendom,” deceiving themselves as well as the people, claim, and
seemingly believe, that their missionary efforts are just about to
succeed, and that, without the Lord, they are now upon the eve of
introducing to the world all the Millennial blessings portrayed in the
The foundation of this delusion lies partly in the fact that the
increase of knowledge and of running to and fro in the earth, incident to
this “Day of His Preparation,” have been C_page 173
specially favorable to the spread of the commerce of
civilized nations, and the consequent increase of worldly prosperity. The
credit of all this Babylon coolly appropriates to herself, pointing out
all these advantages as the results of her Christianizing and energizing
influences. She proudly
points to the “Christian nation” of Great Britain, and to her wealth
and prosperity, as results of her Christian principles. But what are the
facts? Every step of progress
which that nation or any other nation has made has been only to the extent
of the effort exercised to cast off the yoke of Babylon’s oppression. In proportion as Great Britain threw off the fetters of Papal
oppression, she has prospered; and in proportion as she continued to hold
and to be influenced by the Papal doctrines of church and state union, of
divinely appointed kingly and priestly authority and oppression, and to
submit to the tyranny of greed and selfishness, to that extent is she
Greed for gold and ambition for power were the energies by which
the ports of heathen lands were reluctantly opened up to the commerce of
so-called Christian nations, to English and German rum and opium, and to
American whiskey and tobacco. The
love of God and the blessing of the heathen nations had no place in these
efforts. Here is an
apparently small item of current history that ought to startle the
consciences of so-called Christian nations, if they have any.
The Mohammedan Emir of Nupe, West Africa, recently sent the
following message to Bishop Crowther, of the Niger mission:
“It is not a long matter; it is about barasa [rum]. Barasa, barasa, barasa!
It has ruined our country; it has ruined our people very much; it
has made our people mad. I
beg you, Malam Kip, don’t forget this writing; because we all beg that
he [Crowther] should ask the great priests [the committee of the Anglican
Church Mission Society] that they C_page 174
should beg the English Queen [Head of the Church of England] to
prevent bringing barasa into this land.
“For God and the Prophet’s sake!
For God and the Prophet, his messenger’s sake, he must help us in
this matter—that of barasa. Tell
him, may God bless him in his work. This is the mouth word from Malike,
the Emir of Nupe.”
Commenting on this a Baptist journal remarks:
“This humble negro ruler reveals in this letter a concern for his
people which Christian monarchs and governments have not yet reached; for
no European Christian ruler, and no President of the United States, has
ever yet so appealed in behalf of his people.
In all the addresses opening Parliaments, in all the Presidential
messages, no such passage has ever been found.
All shame to our Christian rulers!
Gain, the accursed hunger for gold, is the law with merchants; and
these are the darlings and lords of governments.”
Then, in the name of truth, we ask, Why call these Christian
governments? And the
government of the United States is no exception, though so many persist in
denominating it a Christian government, while properly it does not
recognize the undeserved title, though urged to do so by zealous
sectarians. From Boston, vast
cargoes of rum are continually sent to Africa, unchecked by the
government, and with its full permission, while it grants licenses to tens
of thousands to manufacture and deal out to its own citizens the terrible
“fire-water,” made doubly injurious and seductive by what is called
rectifying, that is, by the legalized mixture of the rankest poisons.
All this, and much more, is justified and defended by
“Christian” statesmen and rulers of so-called Christian nations, for revenue—as
the easiest way of collecting from the people a share of the necessary
expenses of the government. Surely
this is prostitution of the lowest and worst type.
Every thinking man must see how out of place is the name Christian,
when applied to even the very best of present governments. The attempt to C_page 175
fit the name Christian to the characters of “the
kingdoms of this world,” ruled by the “prince of this
world”—Satan—and imbued with the “spirit of the world,” has
perplexed all truly Christian hearts, deluded by this error of supposing
the present governments of the world to be in any sense Christ’s
Says Cannon Farrar in the Contemporary
“The old rapacity of the slave-trade has been followed by the
greedier and more ruinous rapacity of the drink-seller. Our fathers tore
from the neck of Africa a yoke of whips: we have subjected the native
races to a yoke of scorpions. We
have opened the rivers of Africa to commerce, only to pour down them the
raging phlegethon of alcohol, than which no river of the Inferno is more
blood-red or accursed. Is the
conscience of the nation dead?”
We answer, No! The
nation never was Christian, and consequently never had a Christian
conscience or a Christian spirit. The
most that can be said of
it is, that the light from God’s truly consecrated children has
enlightened, refined and shamed into a measure of moral reform the public
sentiment of those nations in which they “shine as lights.”
In like manner a similarly horrid traffic was forced upon China and
Japan, against their earnest protest, by the same Christian (?)
governments. In 1840 Great
Britain began a war with China, called the “Opium War,” to compel the
Chinese government, which wished to protect its people from that terrible
curse, to admit that article. The
war resulted favorably to the devil’s side of the question.
British warships destroyed thousands of lives and homes, and forced
the heathen Chinese ruler to open the empire to the slower death of
opium—the intoxicant of China. The
net revenue of the British government from this drug, after paying large
expenses for collecting the revenue, amounted, according to official
reports published in 1872, C_page 176
to over $37,000,000 for the preceding year.
This, $37,000,000 per year, was the inspiring cause of that war,
the very reverse of love for either the present or future welfare of the
Chinese. The clause in the
treaty providing protection to Christian missionaries was merely a morsel
cunningly thrown in to appease the consciences of justice-loving
people—to make a great crime appear to be a mercy, in kindness done.
In the treaty at the end of the war, certain ports were made free
to British trade, and similar treaties with other nations followed, and
some good results were thereby secured. One of these was the opening of China to civilizing
influences. But the fact that
a few Christian men and women stepped to the front to teach the people
some of the principles of righteousness is not to be reflected to the
credit of the British
nation, whose object was trade, and which, for greed of gold, and
not for the good of the Chinese or the glory of God, waged an unholy and
unjust war upon a people not so skilled in the devilish art.
Along with other vices, “Christendom” has taught the nations
the worst form of idolatry, the idolatry of self and wealth and power, for
which professedly Christian men and nations are willing to defraud, to
injure and even to kill one another.
It has also taught them blasphemy and sacrilege in every language;
for every ship’s crew, from every professedly Christian nation,
blasphemes the name of Christ. But,
while such has been the influence of the so-called Christian nations, from
their midst have also gone some noble missionaries of the cross, some real
servants of God, and also some less noble, the servants of men—in all,
however, but a mere handful—to tell the heathen about Christ and real
It is not the earnest missionaries but the sanguine home officers
of missionary societies, who have little idea of, and often little actual
interest in, the real situation in foreign lands, and whose views are
based mainly upon the large C_page 177
sum annually collected and expended, who think the
heathen world almost converted, and their efforts about to eventuate in
the promised Millennial blessings, without the Lord’s second coming.
Missionaries who have been to the front confess, generally, to
great discouragement, except when they can stimulate their hope out of all
proportion to actual experience and sound judgment.
Thus, one such—Rev. J. C. R. Ewing, D. D.—who had spent nine
years in mission work in India, in delivering a discourse recently before
the Young Men’s Christian Association of Pittsburgh, Pa., admitted that
the present effect of civilization and missionary effort is not only
to break down the heathen religions, but to abolish all religious faith
and to make the people infidels. But
his strong hope is that the next step will be from Infidelity to
Christianity—an unreasonable hope, surely, as all experience here, in
civilized lands, most certainly proves.
We extract from the public press reports of his discourse, as
“India owes more to the direct and indirect influences of
Christianity than to any other one thing.
It has done much to break down the old idea of material gods, and
in its stead to set up the idea of a single supreme God, that the people
of the West [Europe and America] entertain.
[A more explicit statement would be that they are receiving the
idea, common to Atheism, that Nature is the supreme and only God.]
“Among the 263,000,000 of people in that country there are
10,000,000 young men who speak the English language and are instructed in
the Western ideas that we are taught. The higher caste are thoroughly
learned in the literature, the religion and the sciences that are the
basis of the education of the people of this country.
The old idea of a vengeful God, who must be propitiated by numerous
gifts and many prayers, has given way to the modern spirit of Infidelity.
The educated men of the East no longer believe in the gods of their
fathers. They have abandoned
them forever, and replaced them with the teachings of Colonel Robert G.
Ingersoll, C_page 178
of Paine, of Voltaire, of Bradlaugh and of every other atheistical
and pantheistical teacher. This
skeptical age will soon pass away, and the West, just as it has given
India her ideas, will give her the religion of the Christian God.
“The young men of India are well educated, acute observers,
intelligent, well posted in all the affairs of other nations besides their
own, and, though it may seem strange, well acquainted with our Bible.
Indeed, they know it so well that none but a man thoroughly
conversant with its teachings, and the Christian theology, could hope to
be able to successfully answer all the objections they bring forward
against it. The popular idea,
that a missionary sits in the shade of a tree and teaches naked savages
who gather around him, is an exploded one.
In India the missionary meets intelligent and educated men, and he
must be well equipped to influence them.
They are, besides being intelligent, a fine looking people,
amiable, courteous, gentlemanly, and treat all foreigners with the
greatest consideration and respect.”
The obstinate facts he cites certainly do not warrant the
gentleman’s unreasonable hopes. Experience
has surely proved that the bungling arguments of sectarianism, whose
errors distort and vitiate what truth they possess, seldom make converts
of either honest or scoffing skeptics.
Surely, all but the blind can see that if the ten hundred millions of heathendom were converted to the
condition of the four hundred millions*
of so-called Christendom, the question would be an open one, as it was in
the Jewish age (Matt. 23:15), whether they would not be two-fold more fit
for destruction than they were in their original heathen superstitions.
Surely no sane mind could claim that conversion to such a condition as
that of so-called Christendom would fulfil the description of the
Millennial peace and good will, foretold C_page 179
by the prophets, and briefly summed up in our
Lord’s prayer, in the words, “Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on
it is done in heaven.” Luke 11:2
these 400,000,000, Roman and Greek Catholics together claim 280,000,000, while Protestants claim 120,000,000.
Is it at all surprising that this mass of four
hundred millions, professedly constituting the Church of Christ,
and calling itself his Kingdom—“Christendom”—is disowned by the
Lord, and by him given the more appropriate name, Babylon (mixture,
confusion)? And is it any wonder that with their ideas of the Kingdom of
Christ, and of the manner and results of its spread throughout the world,
these should be unprepared for the real Kingdom, and unwilling to receive
the new King, as, for similar reasons, the rulers of the typical house
were unprepared at the first advent?
Nor can it be doubted that those emperors, kings and princes who
now use influence and power chiefly for self-aggrandizement, and who equip
and maintain millions of armed men to protect and to continue them in
their imperial extravagances and lordly positions, would rather see
millions slaughtered, and other millions made widows and orphans, as in
the past, than that they should part with their present advantages.
Is it any wonder that these should neither desire, nor expect, nor
believe in the kind of Kingdom promised in the Scriptures?—a kingdom in
which the high and lofty and proud shall be brought low, and the lowly
lifted up to the general, proper and designed level?
Is it any wonder that all in sympathy with any kind of oppression,
extortion, or grinding monopoly, by which they obtain, or hope to obtain,
unjust advantage over their fellow-creatures, would be slow to believe in
the Kingdom of righteousness in which no injustice and overreaching will
be permitted? Especially, can
we wonder that such are slow to believe this Kingdom nigh, even at the
Nor can we wonder that the great ones, the chief priests and rulers
of “Christendom,” looking each to gain from his own quarter or sect (Isa.
56:11), fail to recognize, and therefore C_page 180 reject, the spiritual King now present, as the
teachers of the fleshly house rejected him when present in the flesh. And
as the Lord rejected, cut off and cast away from favor, into a fire of
trouble, many of the “natural branches” of the olive tree, preserving
only the Israelites indeed as branches, do we not see that, in the harvest
of this age, the same wisdom tests the “wild branches” also (Rom.
11:21,22), and cuts off from favor and fatness of the root [the Abrahamic
promise] this great mass of professed branches, whose character and aims
and dispositions are foreign and wild indeed—very different from the
promise and plan of God represented in the root?
It is not strange that the present harvest witnesses the separation
of true Christians from mere professors, as in the Jewish harvest a
separation of Israelites indeed from mere professors was accomplished.
It is only what we might reasonably have expected, even had there
been no revelation made to us in God’s Word, showing the fact of the
rejection of the mass, as Babylon. Compare Rom. 11:20-22 with Rev. 3:16; 18:4.
The rejection of Babylon (“Christendom”), in 1878, was the
rejection of the mass of professors—the “host,” as it is termed by
Daniel, to distinguish it from the sanctuary or temple class.
The sanctuary class will not be given up, nor left desolate.
No, thank God, the sanctuary is to be glorified; the glory of the
Lord is to fill his temple, when its last living stone is polished and
approved and set in place. (1 Pet. 2:5,6) We have seen how such a
sanctuary class has existed throughout the age, how it was defiled, and
its precious vessels (doctrines) profaned, and how its cleansing from
error has been gradually effected. This
class had all along been the real Church, even while the nominal systems
were still in a measure recognized and to some extent used. After the rejection of the nominal systems, however, C_page 181
now as in the Jewish harvest, the real Church or
Sanctuary class alone is recognized and used as God’s mouthpiece.
Caiaphas, a chief-priest of Fleshly Israel, was used as the agent of God
to deliver a great lesson and prophecy only a few days before that system
was cast off. (See John
11:50,51,55; 18:14.) But we have no intimation in the Scriptures, nor any
reason for supposing, that God ever used or recognized that church-nation,
its rulers and representatives, after it was cast off.
And this same lesson should be recognized, here, in connection with
Babylon. She is “spewed
out” of the Lord’s mouth; and neither the voice of the Bridegroom nor
of the bride shall be heard in
her any more forever.
It is in vain that some attempt to make a plea for their quarter of
Babylon, and, while admitting the general correctness of the prophetic
portrait, to claim that their sect, or their particular congregation, is
an exception to the general character of Babylon, and that, therefore, the
Lord cannot be calling upon them to withdraw from it formally and
publicly, as they once joined it.
Let such consider that we are now in the harvest time of
separation, and remember our Lord’s expressed reason for calling us out
of Babylon, namely, “that ye be not partakers of her sins.”
Consider, again, why Babylon is so named. Evidently, because of her
many errors of doctrine, which, mixed with a few elements of divine truth,
make great confusion, and because of the mixed company brought together by
the mixed truths and errors. And
since they will hold the errors at a sacrifice of truth, the latter is
made void, and often worse than meaningless.
This sin, of holding and teaching error at the sacrifice of truth
is one of which every sect of the Church nominal is guilty, without
exception. Where is the sect which will assist you in diligently searching
the Scriptures, to grow thereby in grace and in the C_page 182
knowledge of the truth? Where is the sect which will not hinder your growth, both by
its doctrines and its usages? Where is the sect in which you can obey the
Master’s words and let your light shine?
We know of none.
If any of God’s children in these organizations do not realize
their bondage, it is because they do not attempt to use their liberty,
because they are asleep at their posts of duty, when they should be active
stewards and faithful watchmen. (1 Thess. 5:5,6)
Let them wake up and attempt to use the liberty they think they
possess; let them show to their fellow-worshippers wherein their creeds
fall short of the divine plan, wherein they diverge from it and run in
direct opposition to it; let them show how Jesus Christ by the favor of
God tasted death for every man; how this fact,
and the blessings flowing from it, shall “in due time” be testified to
every man; how in “the times of refreshing” the blessings of
restitution shall flow to the whole human race.
Let them show further the high calling of the Gospel Church, the
rigid conditions of membership in that body, and the special mission of
the Gospel age to take out this peculiar “people for his name,” which
in due time is to be exalted and to reign with Christ.
Those who will thus attempt to use their liberty to preach the good
tidings in the synagogues of today will succeed either in converting whole
congregations, or else in awakening a storm of opposition.
They will surely cast you out of their synagogues, and separate you
from their company, and say all manner of evil against you, falsely, for
Christ’s sake. And, in so
doing, doubtless, many will feel that they are doing God service.
But, if thus faithful, you will be more than comforted in the
precious promises of Isaiah 66:5 and Luke 6:22—“Hear the word of the
Lord, ye that tremble at his Word: Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s
sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified [we do this for the Lord’s glory]:
but he C_page 183
shall appear to your joy, and they shall be
ashamed.” “Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and when they shall
separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your
name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.
Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy; for, behold, your reward
is great in heaven; for in like manner did their fathers unto the
prophets.” But, “Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you;
for so did their fathers to the false
If all with whom you worship as a congregation are saints—if all
are wheat, with no tares among them—you have met a most remarkable
people, who will receive the harvest truths gladly.
But if not, you must expect present truth to separate the tares
from the wheat. And more, you
must do your share in presenting these very truths which will accomplish
If you would be one of the overcoming saints, you must now be one
of the “reapers” to thrust in the sickle of truth.
If faithful to the Lord, worthy of the truth and worthy of joint-heirship
with him in glory, you will rejoice to share with the Chief Reaper in the
present harvest work—no matter how disposed you may be, naturally, to
glide smoothly through the world.
If there are tares among the wheat in the congregation of which you
are a member, as is always the case, much will depend upon which is in the
majority. If the wheat
preponderates, the truth, wisely and lovingly presented, will affect them
favorably; and the tares will not long care to stay.
But if the majority are tares—as nine-tenths or more generally
are—the effect of the most careful and kind presentation of the harvest
truth will be to awaken bitterness and strong opposition; and, if you
persist in declaring the good tidings, and in exposing the long
established errors, you will soon be “cast out” for the good of the
sectarian C_page 184
cause, or have your liberties so restrained that you
cannot let your light shine in that congregation. Your duty then is plain: Deliver your loving testimony to the
goodness and wisdom of the Lord’s great plan of the ages, and, wisely
and meekly giving your reasons, publicly withdraw from them.
There are various degrees of bondage among the different sects of
who would indignantly resent the utter and absolute slavery of individual
conscience and judgment, required by Romanism, are quite willing to be
bound themselves, and anxious to get others bound, by the creeds and
dogmas of one or another of the Protestant sects.
True, their chains are lighter and longer than those of Rome and
the Dark Ages. So far as it
goes, this surely is good—reformation truly—a step in the right
liberty—toward the condition of the Church in the apostolic times.
But why wear human shackles at all?
Why bind and limit our consciences at all? Why not stand fast in
the full liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free?
Why not reject all the efforts of fallible fellowmen to fetter
conscience and hinder investigation?—not only the efforts of the remote
past, of the Dark Ages, but the efforts of the various reformers of the
more recent past? Why not
conclude to be as was the apostolic Church?—free to grow in knowledge as well
as in grace and love, as the Lord’s “due time” reveals his gracious
plan more and more fully?
Surely all know that whenever they join any of these human
organizations, accepting its Confession
of Faith as theirs, they bind themselves to believe neither more
nor less than that creed expresses on the subject.
If, in spite of the bondage thus voluntarily yielded to, they
should think for themselves, and receive light from other sources, in
advance of the light enjoyed by the sect they have joined, they must
either prove untrue to the sect and to their covenant with it, to believe
nothing contrary to its Confession, or else they C_page 185
must honestly cast aside and repudiate the Confession
which they have outgrown, and come out of such a sect.
To do this requires grace and costs some effort, disrupting, as it
often does, pleasant associations, and exposing the honest truth-seeker to
the silly charges of being a “traitor” to his sect, a “turncoat,”
one “not established,” etc. When
one joins a sect, his mind is supposed to be given up entirely to that
sect, and henceforth not his own. The
sect undertakes to decide for him what is truth and what is error; and he,
to be a true, staunch, faithful member, must accept the decisions of his
sect, future as well as past, on all religious matters, ignoring his own
individual thought, and avoiding personal investigation, lest he grow in
knowledge, and be lost as a member of such sect. This slavery of conscience to a sect and creed is often
stated in so many words, when such a one declares that he “belongs” to such a
These shackles of sectarianism, so far from being rightly esteemed
as shackles and bonds, are esteemed and worn as ornaments, as badges of
respect and marks of character. So
far has the delusion gone, that many of God’s children would be ashamed
to be known to be without some such chains—light or heavy in weight,
long or short in the personal liberty granted.
They are ashamed to say that they are not in bondage to any sect or
creed, but “belong” to Christ
Hence it is that we sometimes see an honest, truth-hungry child of
God gradually progressing from one denomination to another, as a child
passes from class to class in a school.
If he be in the Church of Rome, when his eyes are opened, he gets
out of it, probably falling into some branch of the Methodist or
Presbyterian systems. If here
his desire for truth be not entirely quenched and his spiritual senses
stupefied with the spirit of the world, you may a few years after find him
in some of the branches of the Baptist C_page 186
system; and, if he still continues to grow in grace
and knowledge and love of truth, and into an appreciation of the liberty
wherewith Christ makes free, you may by and by find him outside of all
human organizations, joined merely to the Lord and to his saints, bound
only by the tender but strong ties of love and truth, like the early
Church. 1 Cor. 6:15,17; Eph. 4:15,16
The feeling of uneasiness and insecurity, if not bound by the
chains of some sect, is general. It
is begotten of the false idea, first promulgated by Papacy, that
membership in an earthly organization is essential, pleasing to the Lord
and necessary to everlasting life. These
earthly, humanly organized systems, so different from the simple,
of the days of the apostles, are viewed involuntarily and almost
unconsciously by Christian people as so many Heaven Insurance Companies,
one of which money, time,
respect, etc., must be paid regularly, to secure heavenly rest and peace
after death. Acting on this
false idea, people are almost as nervously anxious to be bound by another
sect, if they step out of one, as they are if their policy of insurance
has expired, to have it renewed in some respectable company.
But no earthly organization can grant a passport to heavenly glory.
The most bigoted sectarian (aside from the Romanist) will not
claim, even, that membership in his sect will secure heavenly glory.
All are forced to admit that the true Church is the one whose
record is kept in heaven, and not on earth.
They deceive the people by claiming that it is needful to come to Christ through them—needful to become members
of some sectarian body in order to become members of “the body of
Christ,” the true Church. On
the contrary, the Lord, while he has not refused any who came to him
through sectarianism, and has turned no true seeker C_page 187
away empty, tells us that we need no such hindrances,
but could much better have come to him direct.
He cries, “Come unto me”; “take my yoke
upon you, and learn of me”; “my yoke is easy and my burden is light,
and ye shall find rest to your souls.”
Would that we had given heed to his voice sooner.
We would have avoided many of the heavy burdens of sectism, many of
its bogs of despair, many of its doubting castles, its vanity fairs, its
lions of worldly-mindedness, etc.
Many, however, born in the various sects, or transplanted in
infancy or childhood, without questioning the systems, have grown free in
heart, and unconsciously beyond the limits and bounds of the creeds they
acknowledge by their profession and support with their means and
influence. Few of these have
recognized the advantages of full liberty, or the drawbacks of sectarian
bondage. Nor was the full,
complete separation enjoined until now, in the harvest time.
Now the Lord’s words are heard, Come out from among them: be ye
clean (free, both from wrong practices and from false doctrines), ye who
bear the vessels (truths—doctrines) of the Lord. Isa. 52:11
Now the ax is laid to the root of the nominal Christian
system—Babylon, “Christendom”—as it was to the nominal Jewish
system at the first advent; and the great system in which the “fowl of
heaven” delight to roost, and which they have grievously befouled (Luke
13:18,19), and which has in fact become “a cage of every unclean and
hateful bird” (Rev. 18:2), is to be hewn down, and shall deceive the
world no longer. Instead, the
true olive tree, whose roots are the true promises of God, and whose
branches are the truly and fully consecrated and faithful ones of this
Gospel age, whose names are “written
in heaven,” will be seen to be the true and only joint-heir and
Bride of the Lamb. Rev. 17:14 C_page 188
Testing and Sifting of the Sanctuary Class
Though coming out of Babylon is one step, and a long one, in the
direction of complete overcoming, it is by no means the last one; and we
should be careful to guard against a disposition to rest after every
advance step of the way.
“Ne’er think the victory won,
Nor once at ease sit down:
Thine arduous work will not be done
Till thou hast gained thy crown.
“A cloud of witnesses around
Hold thee in full survey.
Forget the steps already trod,
And onward urge thy way.”
The step out of Babylon has generally been preceded by other steps
of obedience, which in turn have exercised and strengthened the character
for subsequent conflicts and victories. And it will be followed by various
other tests and opportunities for overcoming, in view of which Paul (Gal.
5:1) wrote, “Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us
free, and be not entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”
Every one who comes to realize the liberty of the sons of God and
full freedom from Babylon’s bondage should expect to meet other attempts
of the great adversary to bring him into other bondages, or to stumble
him. The Lord permits these severe testings, that the class now
sought may be manifested, and prepared for his service in the Kingdom of
An illustration of this testing and sifting took place in the
Jewish harvest, foreshadowing what we may expect here. The temple or
sanctuary class at the first advent was represented by the Lord’s
disciples, of whom he said, “Ye are clean, but not all [of you]”; and
following the casting off of nominal Israel (A.D. 33) came a severe
testing to those representing God’s temple, the clean and the unclean,
to separate C_page 189
was sifted, and almost failed (Luke 22:31; Matt. 26:74,75; John 21:15-17);
but, being “clean,” true at heart, he was enabled to come off
victorious. Judas also was
tested, and he proved to be unclean, willing to sell the truth for earthly
advantage, to deny the Lord for money, even while kissing him in
profession of love.
Just so there is here, in this harvest, a cleansed sanctuary, and,
closely associated with it, some who are not clean.
And since the casting off of Babylon in 1878, and the call there
made, to come out of her, a testing and sifting work has been going on
amongst those who have come out. Doubtless
Peter and Judas were illustrations of similar classes here, among those
who have come out of Babylon, and who have been cleansed from many of her
doctrinal pollutions—a class which remains faithful to the Lord and the
truth, and another class which proves unfaithful, which does not follow on
to know the Lord, but which turns aside to evil and false doctrines, often
worse than those from which they had escaped.
This testing and sifting of the temple class, in this harvest since
1878, were foreshadowed by our Lord’s typical act of cleansing the
typical temple after assuming the office of King and pronouncing judgment
against the nominal Jewish church. After
declaring their house left unto them desolate, he proceeded to the temple
in Jerusalem, typical of the true temple or sanctuary, and, making a
scourge of small cords, he used it in driving out the money changers; and
he overturned the tables of them that sold doves.
The scourge of small cords used in that typical act represented the
various truths, used in the present harvest
among the temple class, to correct and prove, and to separate the unclean. The truths now made manifest reveal so clearly the perfect
will of God, the import of full consecration to his service, and the
narrowness of the way which must be traveled C_page
190 by those who walk in the Master’s
footprints, that those who have joined themselves to this class from any
unclean motives are continually scourged by the truth, until constrained
to separate themselves from the sanctuary class.
Though several of our Lord’s parables show the general separation
of the “sanctuary” class from the “host,” or general mass of
professing Christendom, there are two which go still further and show the
testing and sifting, afterward, of the sanctuary class—the separation of
the overcomers, who shall inherit the Kingdom (Rev. 3:21), from others of
the honestly consecrated, who, overcome by the spirit of the world,
neglect to sacrifice present advantages and honors of men, for the higher
honors of God.
The parable of the
Ten Virgins, while it shows the entire virgin or consecrated
class being separated from Babylon, marks distinctly a testing and
separation to take place in this class also—a separation of wise virgins, full of
faith and fervent love and the spirit of prompt obedience, from foolish
who allow their first love and fervency of spirit to cool, and their
faith and promptness of obedience consequently to abate. The
wise, living in full harmony with their covenant of entire consecration to
God, and earnestly watching for the Lord’s promised return, are prepared
to appreciate the glad harvest message, to recognize the foretold
indications of the Master’s presence, and to stand whatever tests he may
see fit to apply, to prove their loyalty and faithfulness.
These, awake and watching, hear the Master’s knock, through the
words of the prophets, announcing his presence; and to them present losses
and crosses, meekly borne for the truth’s sake, are welcomed as the
harbingers of a more lasting peace and joy and glory and blessing to
When the knock of prophecy was heard announcing the C_page 191
Lord’s presence in the autumn of 1874,
almost immediately it began to be recognized; and quickly the cry was
raised, “Behold the Bridegroom! go ye out to meet him.” And this cry still goes forth, and will continue until all of
the consecrated virgin class have heard,
and have had their faith and loyalty tested by it.
The wise, with lamps (the Word of God) trimmed and burning, and
with oil (the holy spirit) in their vessels (their hearts), will all
recognize the Lord’s presence; and, by ordering their conduct and
affairs in harmony with their faith, they will go “forth” to meet the
beloved Bridegroom, and sit down with him at the marriage feast.
The marriage custom of the Jews formed a beautiful illustration of
the Church’s betrothal and marriage with Christ, her Lord.
The espousal or betrothal was a formal agreement made with solemn
covenants of fidelity on each side. The
woman continued in her father’s house until she was taken to the home of
her husband, usually about a year after betrothal or marriage.
The consummation of the union consisted in the receiving of the
wife to the home prepared for her by the husband, and was celebrated with
a great feast lasting several days—called the Nuptial Feast.
At a fixed hour the bridegroom set out for his bride, who was
waiting in readiness to receive him and to accompany him to their future
home and to the feast which he had provided, followed by her virgin
companions with lamps and all the necessary preparations.
In the parable no mention is made of the bride, but all of the
“wise virgins” are mentioned as those for whom the Bridegroom comes,
and who accompany him and enter to
the feast of joys prepared. And
this is both proper and necessary; because the Bride of Christ is composed
of many members or persons, most beautifully represented in the wise
virgins. The foolish virgins
who obtain the light and C_page 192
experience later, but who will fail to obtain the
high exaltation of the “wise,” faithful Bride class, will no doubt be
the class mentioned (Psa. 45:14,15) as “the virgins her companions which
her,” who in due time will be favored, but not
so highly, by the King.
The attitude of the wise virgins, ready, waiting and anxious for
the Bridegroom’s coming, fitly represents the only proper attitude
of the Lord’s betrothed, the truly consecrated Church.
For a bride to neglect or to be unprepared for this, the most
eventful moment of life, would prove her unfitness for the honor; and so
it is with the Church: “He that hath this hope in him purifieth
himself,” seeks to be in an attitude of heart and life pleasing to the
Bridegroom, and is longing and waiting for the blessed union and feast
promised by him who said, I go to prepare a place for you, and will come
again and receive you unto myself.
Two things are evident from this parable: first, that this special
feature of truth (the knowledge of the Bridegroom’s presence) is not
intended for the world in general, nor for the nominal church in general,
but only for the virgin or consecrated class; second, it is evident that
this message of the Bridegroom’s presence will cause the separation
which will test and prove each individual of the virgin class and clearly
manifest the wise, faithful, worthy ones from the unfaithful, unwise
Oh, what riches
of grace are contained in this glorious message, “Behold the
Bridegroom!” As yet it is a
great secret known only among the saints; for the world cannot receive it.
It is foolishness unto them, and will be, until the virgins have
all heard, and the wise among them have fully entered in; until “the
door is shut,” and the “flaming fire” of the great time of trouble
then to ensue will cause every eye to see (recognize) the Lord’s
presence and reign begun.
With what kingly grace the message of Jehovah comes to C_page 193 his humble servants and handmaidens—“Hearken, O
daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own
people and thy father’s [Adam’s] house [the human relationships,
hopes, aims and ambitions]; so shall the King [the Lord Jesus] greatly
desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him.” (Psa.
45:10,11) And who are these
who will receive such favor? They
are the “called, and
accepted, and faithful.” “The
King’s daughter [Jehovah’s daughter; for as such the Bride of Christ
is owned] is all glorious within.” Her beauty is the beauty of holiness. Outwardly, before the world, she is not glorious; and, like
her Lord in his humiliation, she is despised and rejected of men.
But she will not always be so: having followed him in his humiliation, she
shall also share in his glory. As
a new creature, she will in due time be clothed with his divine
nature—“Her clothing [when glorified] is of wrought gold”—gold
being a symbol of the divine nature.
“She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needle
work”—in the simple white robe of her Lord’s own furnishing, the
robe of his righteousness, upon which she will have wrought, with much
carefulness, the beautiful adornments of the Christian graces.
And great will be the rejoicing in heaven and in earth at her
abundant entrance into the King’s palace (2 Pet. 1:5-8,11): many will
say, “Let us be glad and rejoice and give honor to him; for the marriage
of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” (Rev. 19:7)
“And the daughter of Tyre [the strong ones of earth] shall be there with
a gift; even the rich among the people shall entreat thy favor....I will
make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the
people praise thee forever and ever.” Psa. 45:12-17
Truly “wise” will those of the consecrated prove to be who,
neglecting worldly enchantments, and earthly hopes and prizes, and with
hearts yearning and waiting for the C_page 194 Beloved, are found ready and proved worthy of the
great exaltation promised, as the Bride, the Lamb’s wife.
the Lamb, thy charms,
Oh, may we
Since taking their lamps and following the Bridegroom represents
leaving all else to follow Christ in this time of his presence, it is
equivalent to leaving Babylon, where the virgins have mainly been; because
the truth manifested in the light of harvest clearly indicates this
separation of wheat from tares.
Careful trimming reveals this fact to the wise virgins possessing
the holy spirit of consecration and obedience. Such as have this “oil”
will have the light also; and such, appreciating the privilege, will
gladly and promptly “follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.”
The foolish virgins, on the contrary, lacking sufficiency of oil,
fail to get clear light on the subject of the Bridegroom’s presence;
and, being overcharged with the cares, plans, etc., of the present life,
they fail to investigate the subject fully, and consequently are halting
and undecided about leaving Babylon, and are measurably indifferent to,
and incredulous of, the whole subject.
And even if, urged by others, they reluctantly take their
departure, like Lot’s wife, they are constantly inclined to look back.
For such the Lord left the injunction, “Remember Lot’s wife.”
(Luke 17:32) And again he said, “No man having put his hand to the plow,
and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of
There is nothing in the parable to indicate that the foolish
virgins will be aware of their foolishness, until the opportunity of going
in to the feast has passed by. Then
they will realize how foolish they were in expecting to be owned of the
Lord as his Bride and joint-heirs, when they were at most but lukewarm and
distant followers. Many now
“highly esteemed among men,” and noted
for their “wonderful works,” will be among the disappointed.
Door was Shut
The proclamation of the Bridegroom’s presence, the going forth to
meet him, and the entering in with him to the marriage, still
continue, and will continue, until all the wise virgins are
“sealed in their foreheads” with a knowledge of harvest truth
sufficient to separate them from Babylon, and to enable them to enter in
with the Bridegroom to the feast prepared. Then, when all the virgins have been tested by this present
truth, the door of opportunity will be shut, and no more will be permitted
to enter to the feast; for, said the Master, I am “he that openeth, and
no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth.” (Rev. 3:7)
And when the foolish virgins come
knocking and seeking admittance, after the door is shut, saying “Master,
Master, open it for us,” he will answer them, saying, “Indeed, I say
unto you, I recognize you not.” Those
who are ashamed of him and of his words now, and therefore indifferent to
them, of such will he then be ashamed, when he is about to appear in glory
and power with all his holy, faithful messengers—the wise virgins
exalted and glorified with him.
The shut door, it will be perceived, has nothing whatever to do
with the worldly. It is the
door to the marriage feast; and it never was open to any except the
consecrated, the virgin class. No
other class was ever invited to enter it; and it closes when the harvest
truths have sifted and separated all the warm, earnest covenant-keepers
from the cold, lukewarm and overcharged, who neglect to fulfil their
covenant. Thank God, it is not the door of mercy that here closes, nor
even the door of all favor; but it is the door to that one chief
favor of joint-heirship with Christ as his Bride. But when it
closes against the foolish virgins, and will never again open to their
knock, though it leave them standing without, exposed to the great
tribulation of the “evil day,” where there will be weeping and wailing
and gnashing of C_page 196
teeth, it still leaves them in the arms
of God’s love and mercy, and even under his favor and special care; for
the great tribulations through which they shall pass are designed to
purify and purge those then repentant virgins, and thereby to fit them as
vessels of honor for the Master’s use, though not for the chief honor to
which they were originally called, but of which they proved themselves
unworthy. Partaking to some extent of the spirit of Babylon, giving to her
the weight of their influence, however small, they are reckoned of God as
partakers of her sins and therefore as unworthy to escape the plagues
coming upon her. These plagues are necessary, not only for Babylon’s
destruction, but also for the purification and separation of the hitherto
unripe wheat remaining in her; the foolish virgins, measurably intoxicated
and overcome with the wine of Babylon.
The going in with the Lord to the marriage was beautifully
illustrated by the happy bridal procession which escorted the Jewish bride
to her husband’s home, with music and lighted lamps and every
demonstration of joy. Thus
she entered in to the joy of her Lord and to the feast which he had
provided. Thus the wise
virgins are now entering in. The joy begins when they first hear of the
Bridegroom’s presence. Gladly
they leave all else for his company and the prepared feast.
Already by faith they are enjoying the coming feast, as the present
Bridegroom makes known to them the exceeding
great and precious things in reservation for his elect Bride, and reveals
to them his great work of blessing and restoring the world, in which it
will be the privilege of the Bride to share.
Surely, as we enter the reception room and see evidences of the
coming feast of Kingdom favor, we are already entering into the joys of
our Lord. Already we have a
foretaste of the good things to come.
Already we are feasting, mentally, upon the richest bounties of his
grace. C_page 197
By faith we are already seated at the Master’s
table, and he himself, according to promise (Luke 12:37), has come forth
and is serving us.
This feasting by faith on the precious truths disclosed during this
harvest time began in 1875, at the close of the 1335 days (Dan. 12:12), in
the beginning of the harvest, and is the blessedness foretold by the
prophet, saying, “Oh, the blessedness of him
that waiteth earnestly, and cometh unto the thousand three hundred five
and thirty days!”
Wedding Garment Test
Another of our Lord’s parables (Matt. 22:1-14) shows a still
further testing of the sanctuary class—a testing and separation even
among those who have heard and recognized the harvest message.
The “wise virgins” of the one parable, who enter with the Bridegroom to the wedding, and the
“guests” of this parable, are the same class of consecrated ones, who
thus far have shown themselves faithful and obedient.
In fact, this class is represented by many different figures, each
of which has, as an illustration, its own peculiar force.
They are represented as wise virgins, as servants waiting for their
Lord’s return from a wedding, as guests at a wedding, and as a bride.
They are the body of Christ, the prospective bride of Christ,
soldiers under Christ their Captain, branches in Christ the vine, olive
branches in Christ, living stones in a temple of which Christ is the chief
corner stone, pupils under Christ as their teacher, sheep over whom he is
Shepherd, etc., etc. In considering these figures, we must remember that they are
distinct and separate illustrations, entirely independent of each other,
and seek to gather from each the lesson which it was designed to impart.
If we endeavor to blend the illustrations, and wonder how a stone in a
temple can be a branch in a vine, how sheep can be soldiers, or how the
guests at a wedding can be C_page 198
the servants, or the bride, we fail entirely to
comprehend them. Actually we are not called
to be guests at the marriage supper of the Lamb, nor servants waiting for
his return from the wedding, but we are called
to be the bride, though in some respects we must be like servants and like
these guests—like faithful servants in our vigilance and watchfulness,
and like guests in another respect.
This parable serves to show what could not be illustrated under the
figure of the bride, which represents the elect church collectively as
Christ’s joint-heir. This
shows both the character of the readiness required, and also the
inspection of each individual which shall reject some and accept others.
Those thus inspected are represented as already in the guest
chamber. They are the wheat
reaped or gathered out from amongst the tares, the wise virgins separated
from the foolish. They have
heard and received the harvest truths, and are rejoicing by faith in
anticipation of the glory and blessing to follow their full union with the
Lord. Hitherto they all have run well; but until he reach the end of his
course, “let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he
The condition of acceptableness and readiness for the marriage is
symbolized in this parable under the figure of the wedding
garment. It was a
custom at Jewish weddings for the host to provide dresses of
ceremony—white linen robes—for all the guests; and for any guest to
discard the wedding robe presented by the host on such an occasion, and to
appear in his own clothing, would have been considered a shameful
impropriety, significant of pride and of disrespect for his
As a symbol, the wedding garment clearly illustrates the righteousness of Christ, provided by our host,
Jehovah (Rom. 8:30-34), imputed to every one believing and trusting in
him, without which no one is acceptable at the marriage C_page 199
of the Lamb, and without which no guest is admitted.
The invitation and the wedding robe are both necessary, and the parable
shows that only those so attired are admitted even to the ante-chamber of
special preparation—into the light of present truth, where the bride
makes herself finally ready. (Rev. 19:7) The robe and the invitation received and accepted, these
guests spend the short time just prior to the marriage feast (the harvest
time) in adjusting their robes and giving to themselves and to each other
the finishing touches of preparation.
And, while thus engaged, they are together feasting already, by
faith, on the prospect before them. The
Bridegroom, the grand future work, the glorious inheritance and the
present work of preparation are the constant themes of their thoughts and
In this ante-chamber (this favored time and condition), brilliantly
lighted with the clear unfolding of divine truth now due, both the
facilities for, and the inspiration to, the final adornment and complete
readiness for the marriage feast are granted.
But, nevertheless, the parable shows that even under these
specially favorable conditions, some, here represented by “one,” will
insult the host, the King, by despising and taking off the wedding
The unmistakable teaching of this parable then is, that the final
general test of those “wise virgins,” who have thus far been found
ready and worthy, and who have therefore been ushered into much of the
harvest light, will be a test of their appreciation of the fact, often
testified to in the Scriptures, that they are accepted to the feast, not
in their own merit, solely, but primarily because their nakedness and many
imperfections are covered by the merit of him who gave his life as their
ransom price, and whose imputed righteousness, as a robe, alone makes them
presentable and acceptable before the King.
All must wear the robe. Each
may embroider his own with good works. C_page 200
How remarkable and significant that this
should be the great, general, closing test.
Our Heavenly Father is evidently determined that none shall be of
the bride company except such as realize clearly their own nothingness,
and that the great Bridegroom is their Redeemer,
as well as their Lord and Teacher.
It seems strange, too, that any who had run well so far along the
course should fall when so near the fruition of their hope; yet, when
warned of such a possibility, it behooves all the consecrated to watch and pray,
lest they enter into temptation; for in these last days come the perilous
times foretold by the Apostle. (1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 3:1; 4:3-5) And yet the
times are not so perilous that divine grace is unable to sustain those who
lean confidently upon the Omnipotent Arm.
Indeed, those who humbly
keep the narrow way of sacrifice were never before so well sustained, or
so fully equipped with the whole armor of God.
But, strange as it may seem, the very abundance of God’s favors,
the very clearness of the unfoldings of the Lord’s gracious plans (for
using the Church during the Millennium to bless all the families of the
earth), instead of leading to humility and a greater appreciation of the
wonderful ransom price, through which release from condemnation is
accomplished, and our call to the divine nature and joint-heirship with
Christ is secured, seems to have the opposite effect upon some.
Such seem to lose sight of their personal unworthiness, as well as
of the Lord’s unblemished perfection; and, instead of realizing
themselves to be at best “unprofitable servants,” they seem to see, in
their own little self-denials for the truth’s sake, something
wonderful—the equivalent of what our Lord Jesus did—and feel that they
as much as he are indispensable
to the execution of the great plan of the ages which the Scriptures
reveal. Such are guilty of
“not holding the Head,” and his great work of redemption, in C_page 201
proper respect. (Col. 2:19)
These stand condemned of “counting the blood of the covenant
wherewith they were
sanctified” (and accepted) a common or ordinary thing. (Heb. 10:29)
These do despite to the very spirit of God’s favor, when they
reject the “way”—the only way—and the only name given under heaven
and among men, whereby we must be saved from Adamic condemnation and fully
reconciled to God.
These are represented in the parable by the one “bound,”
hindered from making further progress toward the feast, or even toward a
further appreciation of its blessings and joys; and these will finally be
cast out of the light entirely, into the “outer darkness” of the
world, to share in the anguish and vexations of the great time of trouble.
To these, therefore, the very truths now unfolding, designed for
our good and development, become an occasion of stumbling, because they
are not rightly exercised by them. And
as Israel, so long specially favored of God, became proud, and began to
think themselves actually
worthy of those favors, and indispensable to
the divine plan, so that God cast them off from all favor, so now it will
be with those who, though they have hitherto run well, fail to keep
humble, and begin to think themselves worthy
to stand before God in their
own righteousness, and who assume a right to partake of the feast without
the wedding robe of Christ’s imputed righteousness.
Peculiarly sad though it be, this feature of prophecy, shown in the
parable under consideration, is also fulfilling before our eyes, forming
another link in the great chain of evidence that we are in the
“harvest.” Some of those enjoying present spiritual favors have thus
disdained and cast aside the wedding robe; and, though still speaking of
Christ as Lord, they despise and deny the importance and efficacy of the
very transaction by which he became Lord, and on C_page 202
account of which they were counted worthy of an
invitation to the marriage. (Rom. 14:9; 5:2)
They boldly claim to need no Redeemer; and with subtle sophistries
and misapplications of Scripture they convince themselves and others that
they get into the sheepfold by another way without being ransomed—in
their own righteousness, which the Apostle terms “filthy rags”; and
some claim that they need no Advocate or Ransom, but were unalterably
elected by God to heavenly glory.
This taking off of the wedding garment, by a rejection of the value
of Christ’s ransom-sacrifice, first made its appearance amongst those in
the light of present truth in the summer of 1878; and since that time it
has been testing all who entered into the light of the guest-chamber, the
harvest light. In the very
presence of the Bridegroom the error has gained a footing;
and some are casting aside the indispensable wedding robe.
And what a commotion it has caused among the guests! what division!
what sifting! Those who discard the robe seem anxious to have others do
the same; and these strive while the faithful remonstrate; and the work of
division goes on, even in the very guest-chamber; and doubtless it will
continue up to the very last hour prior to the marriage.
Meanwhile, the invisible but present Bridegroom-King marks the
faithful worthy ones who shall taste of his supper; and he permits, and in
the parable foretold,
this final test. Of those who
have discarded the robe he inquires, “Friend [comrade], how camest thou
in hither, not having a wedding garment?”—a gentle but very forcible
reminder that the wearing of the robe was the very condition of his
admission to the favors enjoyed, and that he had been provided one gratis.
And we challenge any who now deny the value of Christ’s death as
their ransom-price, to say that they came into the present light—the
knowledge of the C_page 203
Lord’s presence and the other deep things of God,
now so clearly seen—without, at the time of entrance, being clothed in
this garment. No one ever
entered in without the robe: others cannot see the deep things of God. (1
Cor. 2:7-14) Just as in the parable, so now,
when this question is put to those who have rejected the robe, they are
“speechless.” They cannot deny that it was while wearing the robe they
were admitted; and they do not like to acknowledge it.
“Then said the King unto his servants, Bind him hand and foot,
and cast him into outer darkness.”
The “outer darkness” is the darkness that envelops the
worldly-wise, the darkness of human reasoning undirected by God’s Word
and unsquared by his revealed plan of ransom and restitution.
The binding or restraining makes an example of such before the
company of the consecrated, and helps all the truly loyal ones to see most
clearly the necessity and value of the robe in the King’s estimation.
The servants who are directed to do the binding are those who have
the truth on the subject, and who can bind the influence of such with Scriptural testimonies on the
value and necessity of the precious blood and the robe of righteousness
which it purchased for us. In
struggling against these arguments of Scripture, the disrobed ones are
forced, by their own arguments and efforts to justify themselves, out of
the light into the “outer darkness.”
To them, as to the world, the cross of Christ is now a
stumbling-block and foolishness; but to the faithful, consecrated ones it
is still “the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
But let it not be overlooked that those of the parable who are
“bound” and “cast into outer darkness” must first have been in the light of harvest truth; and consequently
their responsibility and penalty are greater than the responsibility and
penalty of those who never enjoyed such favor. Thousands in the nominal
Church will doubtless follow the C_page 204
teaching of prominent leaders among them, in
discarding faith in the efficacy of the precious blood of Christ as the
sinner’s ransom-price, who will not be accountable for the step to the
fullest extent; because they have not been sufficiently enlightened with
reference to it.
Thousands of professed Christians have never believed in Christ as
their ransom or substitute, and have never worn the robe of his imputed
righteousness. These, of
course, are not noticed in the parable.
The parable refers only to a very limited class, all of whom have
once clearly appreciated the ransom, and while so appreciating it had,
under the favor which it secured, entered into the special light of the
harvest time—the time of the King’s presence, just before the feast.
With what care should those who have been once enlightened, and who have
tasted of the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, guard
against the merest suggestion to a step so disloyal, unjust and
disastrous. Heb. 10:26-31; 6:4-8
In considering these parables, we must not make the mistake of
presuming that all the wise virgins have already gone into the
marriage—to the guest-chamber of special and final preparation—and
that the door is shut before the inspection referred to in this parable
begins. The door of
opportunity still stands open to all the consecrated, robed by faith in
the wedding garment of Christ’s righteousness; the message, “Behold,
the Bridegroom!” is still going forth; the wise virgins are still going
out to meet him, and entering in with him to the marriage; and the foolish
have not yet returned with oil in their vessels.
But, since “the King came in” (since 1878, the parallel in time
to our Lord’s typical assumption of the office of King of the
Jews—Matt. 21:1-13), the inspection of the guests and the testing of
their appreciation of the wedding robe have been in progress.
And while more of the wise virgins are still learning of the
Bridegroom’s C_page 205
presence and joyfully coming in to the feast, some of
those already in are proving themselves unworthy to stay in, and have
been, and are being, bound hand and foot; and
their appreciation and apprehension of present truth—of the Lord’s
presence and the present and future work—begin to grow more and more
dim, as, borne along by false reasonings upon false premises, they
gradually or rapidly, according to temperament, gravitate toward worldly
views of things—the “outer darkness” of the world, when contrasted
with the inner light, now accessible to the properly robed saints.
And, doubtless, all the virgins who come in must be tested
upon this subject. Happy and
fearless, in this testing, will be all who from the heart can say:
“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.”
And such can exultantly sing:
“The Prince of my peace is now present,
The light from his face is on me.
O listen! beloved, he speaketh:
‘My peace I now give unto thee.’
The cross well covers my sins;
The past is under the blood;
I’m trusting in Jesus for all;
My will is the will of my God.”
End of the High Calling is Not
Closing of the Door
The Scriptures do not give the exact date at which the door to the marriage feast will close,
though they show plainly that it will not be closed until all the “virgins”
shall C_page 206
have had an opportunity to enter, and after all the
“wise” or ready ones have done so.
“door” symbolizes an opportunity of entrance to certain conditions and
privileges; a shut door represents the termination of such privilege or
opportunity. The privilege,
invitation or opportunity of the Gospel age, granting, under restrictive
conditions, to believers in Christ, entrance
into joint-heirship with him in the heavenly Kingdom and to the divine
nature, is the “door” by which we “have
access into this grace [favor] wherein we stand”; namely, into
the hope of sharing the glory of God. (Rom. 5:2)
This door, which has stood open throughout the entire age, is
sometime to be closed; and the door in the parable of the virgins marks
this close—the termination of all such opportunities and privileges.
This parable of the virgins merely portrays the events in the close of
this age among those of the true Church living at that time.
The “door” of this parable represents that certain special
privileges, the consummation and goal of all the favors of the Gospel age,
will be open to the “wise virgins” in the time of harvest; and the
closing of the door when all of this class shall have availed themselves
of such privileges represents the close of all
the favor and privileges of the Gospel age; because the feast represents
in full the Gospel advantages and privileges, being a representation of
the grand consummation to which all other favors lead—the promised
Consider this “door” of opportunity and privilege, soon to
close. Our Lord called it a
gate, and said
that during the Gospel age it would be difficult both to find and to enter
it, and advised us to make great effort to enter, if we would share the
immortality and Kingdom honors, to which it and no other door leads.
He said, therefore, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for
many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in and shall not be able, when
once the Master of the C_page 207
house hath risen up and shut to the door.” (Luke
13:25) This narrow way, as we have already
is the way of self-sacrifice in the interest of
the Lord’s plan and work. The
way is made narrow by the circumstances of the present time, by the
opposition of the worldly spirit against truth and righteousness, so that
whoever walks in the footprints of our Leader and Forerunner will find the
way narrow or difficult and must suffer persecution.
To walk in this way, as our Lord set us an example that we should
follow in his steps, implies not only a passive conformity to his
disposition or spirit, but also an active, energetic zeal in the
promulgation of his truth at all hazards.
And all who walk in this narrow way, faithful as he was faithful,
unto death, have fellowship in his sufferings, and will also in due time
have fellowship in his glory, at the marriage feast—in the glory to be
revealed at his appearing and Kingdom. Phil. 3:10; 1 Pet. 4:13
I, page 203.
In view of its glorious termination, the opportunity to walk in
this narrow way of self-sacrifice for the truth’s sake is the grandest
privilege that was ever offered to any creature. The privilege of
suffering with Christ and in his cause, after first recognizing him as our
Redeemer, is therefore the door, and the only door of opportunity, by
which the glory to follow, as the bride and joint-heir of Christ, can be
There are three ways in which the closing of this door might be
indicated: first, by a definite Bible statement of the exact
date; second, by such a reversal of public sentiment with reference
to the truth, that fidelity and zeal in its service would no longer meet
with opposition, and when suffering with Christ for the truth’s sake
(Rom. 8:17) would be no longer possible; or third, by such a
condition of affairs C_page 208
obtaining in the world that all
opportunity for such service would be effectually obstructed, thus leaving
no opportunities for candidates to enter into the work and to develop and
prove their love and faithfulness by their activity and endurance.
Though we are definitely informed that the door will be shut
sometime within this harvest period or end of the age, the Bible does not
give the exact date; and, although after the great time of trouble there will be a grand reversal of public sentiment
in favor of truth and justice, we have no intimation whatever that such a
condition of affairs will obtain until after the harvest period is fully
ended. But we have a clear
intimation that the
door will be shut in the manner last named; for, before the
Millennial day breaks, we are forewarned of a dark night wherein no man
can labor—“The morning cometh, and also the night.” Isa. 21:12. See also Vol. II, chap. viii.
The narrow way opened to us is the privilege and opportunity of
cooperating with our Lord now, when to manifest his spirit of meekness and
zeal and loyalty to God and his truth will be at the cost of earthly
advantage; when to champion his cause and the truths which he advanced
will make us, to say the least, very unpopular; and when our endeavors to
honor his name and bless our fellowmen with the truth, by letting our
light shine, bring upon us reproach, misrepresentation and persecution in
some form. And if, as we have seen, the narrow gate-way opened means the privilege of thus sacrificing, faithfully, unto
death, at whatever cost, it follows that the closing of all such opportunity
for such fellowship of service and suffering would be the closing of
the door, the barring of the narrow way to the future glory and
joint-heirship; our reign with Christ being conditioned on our
faithfulness in his service, which now means suffering with him. Rom.
8:17; 6:8 C_page 209
And suffering with Christ, we have seen,
is not the ordinary suffering, common to all in the fallen state, but only
such sufferings as are the results, more or less directly, of the
following of Christ’s example, in advocating unpopular truths and in
exposing popular errors. Such
were the causes of the sufferings of Christ; and such will be the causes
of persecution, suffering and loss to all who follow in his footsteps.
They will have fellowship in his sufferings now, and in the end will be
accounted worthy to share in the reward of such faithfulness to principle.
This, throughout the Gospel age, has meant self-sacrificing labor
and endurance of reproach in the sowing and watering of the seed of
Christ’s doctrines; and now, in the close of the age, it means a similar
fidelity and endurance in the harvest work now in progress—even to the
laying down of life, whether it be required by the gradual process of
working it out in the Master’s service, a dying daily, or by being
brought more abruptly to a martyr’s sudden death.
The worthiness of the espoused virgin Church to be the bride, the
Lamb’s wife, consists not merely in sinlessness, though she will be holy
and “without blemish”—“without spot or wrinkle or any such
thing” (Eph. 5:27), made “whiter than snow” in the great fountain of
redeeming love, her Redeemer’s merit.
This much is necessary to all
who will ever be accounted worthy of lasting life on any plane.
But to be the bride of the Lamb, she must not only be a virgin in
purity, and in addition be free from sinful alliance and coquetry with the
world, but she must be more, much more than this.
She must so closely resemble her Lord, and so closely follow his
footsteps and his counsel, that she will on this account be a sufferer, a
martyr, as he was, and for the sake of the same principles
of truth and righteousness. She
must prove that she possesses a consuming
love for the Bridegroom, and an untiring devotion to his name and
principles, C_page 210
so as to be willing to be despised and
rejected of the worldly, as he was, for the sake of obedience to his
To develop and demonstrate
this character, she must be tried and tested.
Her confidence, her endurance, her fidelity to her Lord, through
evil as well as good, must be developed and proved.
And only such as are thus developed and tested and by the test
proved faithful, will ever be owned and recognized as the bride and
joint-heir of the Lord, the heir of all things.
As it is written, “Blessed the man that endureth
under temptation: because, having become [thus] approved, he will receive
the crown of life which the Lord hath promised to them that love
him”—thus intensely. Thus,
rightly understood, every trial of our fidelity should be joyfully met as
a fresh opportunity to show the Bridegroom the depth and strength of our
love, and another proof of worthiness of his love and confidence and of
the promised exaltation. Those who will share with the Lord the coming
glory must not only be called and accepted, but
also faithful, even unto death.
Thus the door of opportunity to engage, with Christ our Lord, in
the work of the Gospel age, will be closed when “the night cometh
wherein no man can work.” And
all who have not previously by faithful service, developed the necessary
character and proved their sympathy, devotion, love and zeal for the Lord
and his truth (Matt. 10:37; Mark 8:38), will then be too late to do so.
As represented in the parable, they will thus be proved to be
for letting slip the great and glorious opportunity to suffer with and on
behalf of him with whom they would gladly reign. By that time, the full
number predestinated by God to constitute and complete the Church will
have been called, chosen, and by trial proved faithful—“copies of the
likeness of his Son.” (Rom. 8:29) The
harvest will be past, the summer time of favor ended, and only the burning
of the tares will remain, to clear the field (the world of mankind) and to
prepare C_page 211 it fully for the much more extensive sowing of the
The closing in of this night will
evidently put a stop to any further labor to disseminate the truth, which,
misunderstood by the public generally, will probably be accused of being
the cause of much of the anarchy and confusion then prevailing, instead of
being seen in its true light as a foreshadowing of the divine mind and
revelation concerning coming troubles of the world and their true causes.
Nor should we expect that the coming of night and the closing of the door
will be sudden, but rather that it will be a gradual obstructing and
closing down of the harvest work.
The present is the time for the sealing of the servants of God in
their foreheads, before the storm of trouble bursts (Rev. 7:2,3); and
every wise virgin should appreciate this privilege of the present, both
for his own intellectual sealing with the present truth, and also for
engaging in the harvest work of sealing others of the wheat class and
gathering them into the barn of security, before the night cometh and the
door of opportunity to labor is shut.
That the present, most favorable opportunity is but a brief one, is
manifest from the fact that only twenty-four years of the harvest period
remain, the close of which will witness the end of the reign of evil and
the ushering in of the glorious Millennial Day; and within this period the
dark night of the world’s greatest tribulation must find place. The
great darkness which must precede the glorious day is drawing on: “the
morning cometh, and also the night”—“a time of trouble such as was
not since there was a nation.”
Observe that, when this night cometh, when the reapers must cease their labors, it will prove that this final work of the
Gospel age is accomplished; that the elect number of the Bride of Christ
have all been “sealed,” and “gathered” C_page 212
into a condition of separateness from the
worldly—into the barn condition (Matt. 13:30); for God will not permit
anything to put an end to his work until it is finished.
Then, all the true and faithful servants of God will have been
sealed in their foreheads; and, the work of the Gospel age being finished,
no more can enter into that work or reap its rich reward, foretold in the
“exceeding great and precious promises” as the reward of the faithful
who enter while the “door” is open. 2 Peter 1:4
But we are not to gather from this that all, as quickly as proved
faithful, will at once enter into their reward.
Possibly some such may live on, far into that dark night of
trouble—though our expectation is to the contrary.
“Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the
commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”
Having put on the whole armor of God, and boldly withstood error by
clear and fearless presentation and defense of the truth, during this evil
day, when giant errors so boldly and defiantly stalk abroad, the saints
are exhorted, “Having done all, to stand,” clad in full armor, with
the sword of the spirit ever ready for defense, and with watchfulness and
perseverance and prayer for all saints.
All will have need of patience, that after having done the will of God they may receive the promise. Rev. 14:12; Eph. 6:13; Heb.
The ending of the high calling to joint-heirship with our Lord
Jesus in the Kingdom of God, it should be distinctly understood, is not
the shutting of the door in the parable of the virgins.
Though the general “call” to this favor ceased in 1881, the
“door” is yet open. The
call is the general invitation of God,
to all justified believers in the Redeemer, to follow in his footsteps of
self-sacrifice, even unto death, and thereby prove their worthiness to
reign with him in glory. This favor had a definite time for beginning: the
waiting disciples were accepted to it on the day of Pentecost, A.D. 33. C_page 213
And it has had, as already shown, a definite time of
ending; viz., October 1881.*
Vol. II, Chapter vii.
On the other hand, the closing of the “door,” in the parable of
Matt. xxv, marks the full end of all opportunity for any, even of the
“called” ones, thereafter to attain the prize of the high calling.
It marks the end of all opportunity to prove worthy of the prize by
faithfulness in the service: all opportunity for service will there
terminate, in the “night” wherein no man can work. (John 9:4) It is manifest, therefore, that the door, or opportunity,
thus to make our calling and election sure, does not necessarily close
when the call, or general invitation to all believers to enter, ceases to
go forth. And, while the door
stands open, it indicates that any believer who is anxious to enter and
ready to comply with the conditions may yet do so, even though the general
“call” or invitation to enter is no longer sent out.
As a matter of fact, the door or opportunity to labor and sacrifice
has not yet closed, though the general call ceased in 1881.
The Gospel age has been the calling time—first, for calling
sinners to repentance and to faith in Christ the Redeemer; and, second,
for calling these justified ones to the high privilege of joint-heirship
with Christ in his Kingdom, on the condition of following now in his
footprints of self-sacrifice, even unto death—as the condition of
acceptance to the Kingdom work and honors of the coming Millennial age.
When, therefore, the Lord tells us that the closing period of the
age will be a harvest time, it indicates clearly a radical change—from
sowing to reaping, from calling to testing the called and closing the work
begun by the call.
As an illustration of the change in the character of the work at
the close of the Gospel age, our Lord gave the parable of the drag-net.
(Matt. 13:47-50) “The
Kingdom of C_page 214
heaven is like unto a net that was cast into the sea
and gathered fish of every kind; which, when it was full, they [the
fishermen] drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels
and cast the bad away. So
shall it be at the end of the age [the harvest, Matt. 13:39]: the angels
[messengers, servants of God] shall come forth and separate the wicked
from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire [the
great time of trouble]: there shall be wailing and gnashing of
This parable represents the nominal Christian Church as the nominal
prospective Kingdom of God—the net cast into the
sea (the world), which gathered fish
(men—Matt. 4:19) of every kind (real Christians, half deceived and deluded
Christians, and multitudes of hypocrites); which, when it is full (in the
fulness of God’s time), is drawn to shore.
It shows that the “every sort” gathered into the nominal Church
are not fit for the Kingdom, whatever else they may be fit for; that at
the close of the age—in the harvest time—the call or invitation to a
place in the Kingdom would cease by God’s arrangement, as represented by
the dragging of the net to shore; and that then a different work would be
commenced by the fishermen—namely, a separating, a dividing work, which
will accomplish the gathering of the desired sort and the rejection of
others who are unworthy of the favor to which they had been called; for
“many are called, but few chosen.” Matt. 22:14
The separating work of this parable is the same as that shown in
the parable of the wheat and the tares, which teaches us to expect a
discontinuance of the sowing (the calling), and a change from that work to
the work of reaping. The Lord’s servants, who, under his direction, will
thus change the work, are in both parables called angels—special
messengers of God. They are his faithful disciples who, walking very humbly, and
near to the Lord, and very earnestly C_page
seeking to know his plan and to cooperate
in his work, are not left in darkness concerning his times and seasons.
(Matt. 13:11; 1 Thess. 5:4; Jer. 8:7-12) Of course, this reaping and gathering relates only to those
living in the harvest time, and not to those who died previously; each of whom, as he
finished his course, was noted, and separated to await his proper position
in or out of the glorified little flock, the Kingdom proper. 2 Tim.
The net was not intended to catch all the fish of the sea. Our
Lord, the great Chief Fisherman, designed to catch a particular number of
fish of a particular kind, no matter how many of other varieties went into
the net with them; and when the full number of the desired, peculiar kind,
have entered the net it is ordered ashore for the purpose of sorting and
separating. When the net is
thus ordered ashore, the commission given at the beginning of the age, to
cast the net into the sea (Matt. 28:19; 24:14), should be understood as at
an end; and all who would continue to be coworkers with the Lord must give
heed to his directions, and no longer give their time to general fishing,
but to the present work of selecting and gathering.
And as the truth then due was the agency for calling, so truth,
“present truth,” harvest truth, is now the Lord’s agency for testing
When, therefore, the Lord’s servants hear his voice, through his
Word, declaring that the time has come to stop sowing and to begin
reaping, to stop catching and go to sorting the fish, to stop calling and
to preach the harvest message now due to those already called, they will,
if faithful, gladly and promptly obey.
Such, therefore, instructed of the Master concerning his plan of
the ages, and not in darkness as to the times and seasons in which we are
living, should no longer be going forth seeking to sow the good seed of
the Kingdom in the field or world of mankind, but C_page 216
should be “giving meat in due season to the
household of faith”—scattering among the Lord’s professed children
the good tidings of the Kingdom at hand, and of the great joy and blessing
it will soon bring to all people.
And, strange to say, it is this message of God’s loving
provision, in the ransom, for the restitution of all things, by and
through Christ Jesus and his glorified body, the Church, God’s Kingdom
(this message, which should rejoice, refresh and unite all loving
Christian hearts), that is to develop and draw into heart-union the true
class only, to test them and to separate them
from the nominal mass.
Shortly the harvest will be ended, and then both he that sowed and
he that reaped will rejoice together.
Now, the reapers must hasten the work, and should feel so concerned
about its full accomplishment as to pray the Lord of the harvest, the
Chief Reaper, to send forth more laborers into his harvest.
It will not be long before the plowman of the next dispensation
(the great trouble foretold, which will prepare the world for the
Millennial seed-sowing) shall overtake the reaper of this dispensation.
Seventieth Week a Figure of
Close of Gospel Favor
It will be remembered that Israel’s “seventieth week”—the
last seven years of their favor—was very exactly marked at its
beginning, middle and close; and we believe for the very purpose of giving
us clearly defined dates in the close of the Gospel age of favor to
Spiritual Israel. We have
seen that the beginning of that week was to Fleshly Israel the date of the
beginning of their harvest testing, in A.D. 29.
It was marked by our Lord’s baptism and recognition as Messiah at
Jordan, when the reaping work began—the parallel to which, here, is the
recognition of the presence of the Lord, in A.D. 1874, at the beginning of
The middle of that covenant week, A.D. 33, was the date of the
rejection of Israel as a system or church-nation, and was marked by our
Lord’s death on the cross, and by his words just before his death,
“Your house is left unto you desolate.”
And the parallel to that, here, is the rejection from favor and the
fall of the sectarian systems, called Christendom or “Babylon,” in
The last half of Israel’s covenant week (3 1/2 years, from A.D.
33 to 36) was not a period of national or sectarian favor, but of
individual favor, granting the Israelites (not as formerly through the
channels of the nominal Church, but individually,
if they would receive it) all the favors and special privileges of the
Abrahamic covenant, down to the end of those seventy symbolic weeks, the
limit of their favor, marked by the sending of favor to Cornelius and
Gentiles in general. So in
the parallel, here: the 3 1/2 years from April, 1878, where so-called
Christendom, or “Babylon,” was rejected from favor, to October, 1881,
was the closing period of the favor of the high
calling to individual believers.
Thus, the general “call” (the favor
of this Gospel age) ceased with October, A.D. 1881, just as the
corresponding date, October, A.D. 36, witnessed the end of Jewish
favor consisted in the offer to Israel of the Kingdom—the call of the natural
children of Abraham to avail themselves of the privileges and
opportunities granted them under their Law Covenant.
This call, favor or privilege ceased totally and forever with the end
of their covenant week. The Gospel
favor consisted in the offer of the Kingdom (exclusively) to believers in
Christ—the “high calling” of all reconciled to God under the Grace
Covenant, who might avail themselves of the opportunities thus granted
(and become members of the Abrahamic “seed”
which is to bless the world) by joining with Christ Jesus, their Redeemer,
in his covenant of self-sacrifice; the test C_page 218
which must demonstrate their worthiness to share in
Christ’s coming work and glory. And
it is this favor, this “call” or invitation, which we have seen
ceased, totally and forever, in October 1881, the parallel point of time
to the end of the Jewish call or favor.
Be it noted, that the stopping of the Jewish favor or call was
followed by another general call, which, ignoring them and their past
favor, nevertheless included any of them who afterward, by becoming believers,
became worthy of that world-wide call to the honor of the Kingdom.
The stopping of their past favor was just as actual as though they
had not been invited to anything after their favor ceased; just as actual
as though they had afterward been invited to a lower favor; but it is not
as noticeable, because the general Gospel call, which did not exclude
them, was the same call broadened and deepened; made applicable to all
believers in Christ, of every nation.
The stopping of the favor or “call” here, in 1881, is followed,
or rather lapped upon, by the general call of the whole world to the
Millennial blessings and favors upon conditions of faith and willing
obedience (not however a sacrifice unto death).
This however, is a lower call, a lesser favor than that which
ceased; a call to enjoy blessings under the Kingdom, but not to be parts
of the anointed, Kingdom class. And
this change—this stopping of
the higher favor and beginning of a lesser favor will be little noticed in
the present time, by reason of the fact that the great prize of the
Kingdom and joint-heirship with Christ as partakers of the divine nature,
has been generally lost sight of in the Church.
The highest conception of reward generally held by Christians for
centuries past is, that in their resurrection they will be given perfect
bodies; and, freed from sickness, pain and sorrow, will enjoy God’s
favor and have everlasting life. And
this conception, though far short of the real C_page 219 privileges under the “high calling” of the Gospel
age, is really a fair conception of the blessed privileges to be granted
during the Millennial age to the world in general—to as many of them as
will then yield obedience and come into harmony with God.
As a matter of fact, then, the only ones who see clearly the
peculiarly high and grand features of the call of the Gospel age—the
only ones, therefore, who could announce or explain this
calling—are the very ones who are also shown from God’s Word
that the time limit of this call was reached in October, 1881.
Others, while quoting the Apostle’s words concerning a “high
calling of God in Christ,” really explain the lower call which belongs
to the Millennial age. Hence
the general Gospel call, the true one, is ended.
None can extend it. Some
cannot because they do not understand it and could not give it, and some
because they know it to be at an end.
But though the general “call” has ceased, the “door” is not
yet shut. The end of the
“call” and the shutting of the “door” are distinct and separate.
The “door” stands open for some to enter the race, for the
great prize of joint-heirship in the Kingdom, after the general “call” has
ceased. God had predetermined a fixed number to constitute the Church,
“the body of Christ”; and there can be neither one member superfluous
nor one lacking. (See this
typically taught in Lev. 21:17-23.) It
follows that he could not call
or invite to that honor more than would complete the number he had
determined. And, in October
1881, his Word shows, this full number had been secured.
But, since some of those who responded under the general call and
made the covenant with him will fail to keep their covenant, fail so to
run as to obtain the prize, the “door” stands open after the general
call has ceased, to permit the entrance to the race, to self-sacrifice in
the service of the truth, of some to take the C_page 220
places of such as may, during the inspection, cast aside
the wedding garment of Christ’s righteousness; and also of such others
as, having made the covenant of self-sacrifice in the service, love the
present world, become overcharged with its cares or pleasures, and fail to
perform the requirements of their covenant.
And, again, it should be noted that the ending of the call in 1881
in no way interfered with the privileges of the thousands who had already
accepted the call and become God’s consecrated servants: it put none out
who were in. Nor does it
imply that no more can come in: it was merely the stopping of God’s general
The fact that you may only recently have come to a clear knowledge
of the exceeding great and precious promises of the things which God hath
in reservation for them that love him does not prove that you were not
called and accepted as a runner for this great prize long before you
understood how great and grand is the prize.
The fact is, not one who accepts the call is able, at first, to
comprehend fully either the roughness and narrowness of the way or the
grandeur of the prize to be attained at its farther end.
The clearness of our comprehension of the promises is to us the
power of God working in us to strengthen us and to enable us to overcome
present obstacles and trials. The
exceeding great and precious promises are unfolded to us gradually, as we
prove faithful and go on, in order that by these—by the strength and
courage which they infuse—we may be enabled so to run as to obtain the
prize. 2 Pet. 1:4
The class to receive the prize is not only called and chosen
(accepted), but also faithful. And
though the general
call has ceased, it is evident that the testing of the
faithfulness of the called ones is not yet finished.
The faithful are being sealed, and separated from those who are
unfaithful to their covenant of self-sacrifice; and the wise virgins are
being separated C_page 221
from the foolish, whose folly consists in supposing
that they can run for and win the world’s prizes of honor, wealth, etc.,
and at the same time run faithfully the race for the great prize of glory,
honor and immortality—the very conditions of which render such a dual
course impossible. “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.” “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Jas. 1:8, Matt.
When all the faithful “wise virgins” have been proved so, and
have entered in to the joys of the Lord, the “door”
of opportunity to become of that class will close; and no more can
enter it. When all the wise have entered in, the number predestinated
will be complete; and then the Master will rise up and shut the door.
(Luke 13:24,25; Matt. 25:10) Our
Lord himself tells us that then many will begin to see matters differently—to see what
privileges and opportunities for sacrifice they once enjoyed and missed.
But when they seek entrance, the Master will tell them, I do not
recognize you as my bride—she is complete, and I have but one.
But, thank God, other scriptures show that the foolish virgins,
though thus rejected from the high calling, for which their conduct when
on trial will have proved them unworthy, will nevertheless be favored, and
will be known in a humbler capacity in the Lord’s household.
Therefore, before the door shuts, before the full number of the
faithful is completed, let each strive to make his calling and election
sure; and to this end let us permit the Lord, by these precious promises
and these explanatory parables, to work in us to will and to do
his good pleasure.
But some may yet say, I fear that I am not one of those called
before the general call ceased in 1881, because I was then not only wholly
ignorant of the deep things of God’s promises, but more: I was wholly a
stranger to God, and even an enemy of his, far from any covenant with him
to do him service, and far from any such desire.
Only recently I C_page 222
came to know God, at all; recently I took Christ’s
yoke upon me to learn of him; and still more recently I learned of the
privilege of suffering with Christ now, by self-denials in his service,
and that such joint-sacrificers are by and by to be made joint-inheritors
with him in the glorious work of the Millennium.
And now, after seeing these glories, after admiring these precious
things, and after setting myself to run this race for this wonderful
prize, must I conclude that it is not open to me, because enough to fill
the number had already been called? I
would not think to change the divine arrangement, or to ask that another
be added beyond the limit determined by divine wisdom, but I shall feel
keenly my misfortune.
To such we answer: Run on. Your
case is not so dark as it seems to you.
The “door” is not yet “shut.”
Remember that if all
who had accepted the call when it closed should prove faithful to their
covenant, there would be none too many, but just enough.
Remember, too, that your observation as well as the Scriptures,
indicates that of the many who accept the call few will be chosen, because
but few prove faithful to their covenant when on trial.
As one after another some of the called ones prove unfaithful,
their opportunities, their
places of labor and their
crowns of reward are transferred to others. One of these places of labor and one of these crowns of
reward may be transferred to you, and your name may be written on the
scroll of life as a probationary member of the Bride of Christ, in the
place of one erased as unworthy. See
Rev. 3:5; Heb. 12:23.
Those who can grasp these precious promises and who have the desire
to work in the vineyard have a strong evidence that they have been
begotten of the spirit;*
for the human mind, even when justified, is unable to grasp the deep
things intended by God for those only who have consecrated C_page 223
themselves and been accepted. (1 Cor. 2:6-16)
And the Lord is too loving and too just to authorize in the hearts
of any hopes which could never be realized.
To be begotten of the spirit, through the Word of truth, implies an
ultimate birth to spirit conditions, unless the one as begotten prove
himself unworthy—unfaithful. “Cast
not away, therefore, your confidence, which hath great recompense of
Vol. I, page 226.
This parable seems to have been given specially to teach a lesson
for this time. The laborers
are those earnest, consecrated children of God who throughout this Gospel
age—the “day” of the parable—are faithfully spending their time
and energy, not in the service of self, the service of mammon, but in the
service of God. Only the faithful therefore are
represented by the laborers, all of whom get the same reward, the Kingdom
honors represented in the parable by the “penny.”
The generality of the call and the need of laborers are represented
by the four calls—early in the morning, at nine o’clock, at noon, and
at three o’clock in the afternoon.
Yet the exact, clear understanding of what the wages should be was mentioned only at the beginning:
the householder then “agreed”
to give them a penny for the service.
So the promise of the Kingdom was clearly understood by the early
Church, but afterward was in the main lost sight of and not clearly
enunciated. The living
members of Christ’s Church laboring
in his vineyard at any time during this Gospel age represent
all the laborers. And the parable shows, as its particular feature, a class
who enter this service of the Lord when the day’s work is about done, at
the “eleventh [the last] hour.” They
are represented as some desirous of engaging in the Master’s service,
late, the general call having C_page 224 ended. They
say—“No man hath hired us,” we were too late to get into the service
under the call.
The Master responds by pointing to the door of opportunity for
doing and suffering in his service not yet “shut” the close of which
will be indicated by the coming of “the night in which no man can
work.” But he says nothing about what the reward will be; though in
employing the others under his general call, he said, “Whatsoever is
right I will give you”*—a
portion of the pay at first “agreed”
oldest Greek Manuscripts, the Sinaitic and the Vatican, omit
from Matt. 20:7 the words, “and
whatsoever is right that shall ye receive.”
So, during the Gospel age, our Lord has continually, through his
mouthpieces in the Church, invited all believers to enter into his
service. The full reward, the
divine nature and Kingdom glory, was clearly stated and well understood at
first; but, although repeated throughout the age, it has not since been clearly understood because
of the great falling away from the truth. But now we have come to the close of the Gospel day of
service—to the “eleventh hour.”
It is past
the time for calling laborers for this day. Yet, some are now standing by and saying, We have not been
called into the work; “no man hath hired us”; we have no promise of
labor, nor of a reward if we should find work; the call is ended, the
day’s work is nearly done; there are enough laborers without us.
But to these the Master would have us say, as his mouthpieces,
“Go ye also into my vineyard”; I promise nothing, the general call is
ended, the time is short, the time for labor is nearly ended, “the night
cometh wherein no man can work”; but go in,
show your love and zeal, and leave the rewarding to my generosity.
And this is all
we can say; the only hope we can hold out is that no man ever labored for
our Master who will not receive abundantly more than he could ask or
expect. And C_page 225 then we know that some of the places in the work will
be vacated by reason of some not continuing faithful, and that the crowns
of reward set apart for such will be given to others who, by faithfulness
and self-sacrifice, prove themselves worthy of the work and the
So, then, if any have but recently come to know and love our Lord,
and desire to serve him and his truth, let not such be discouraged because
the general call ended in 1881. If
you see the “door”
of opportunity for sacrifice and service open before you, enter in.
But enter quickly; for the night of darkness and of intense
opposition to the truth will ere long be upon us and will hinder you from
engaging in the service. “The morning cometh, and also the night.”
“The night cometh in which no man can
work.” When that is true,
you may know that “the door is shut,” that all the wise virgins have
entered in, that all have been proved, and that all vacancies have been
acceptably filled. All the
special “servants of God” having by that time been “sealed in their
foreheads” (given an intellectual appreciation of God’s plan), the
four winds will be loosed (Rev. 7:1-3), and will produce the great
“whirlwind” of trouble in the midst of which the remnant of the Elijah
class will be “changed,” and exalted to Kingdom glory.
What a lesson is here for those who have covenanted with the Lord
to serve him first and chiefly, and who are neglecting his work to strive
with time and thought and means for the transient joys and prizes which
the world offers. These the
Lord urges, saying, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a
crown of life.” “He that overcometh [who conquers
in himself the spirit of the world], the same shall be clothed in white
raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will
confess his name before my Father and before his holy servants.”
“Hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy
crown.” Rev. 2:10; 3:5,11 C_page 226
Let Us Go Forth
like men in solemn haste,
wayfarers of the waste,
pass out at the world’s wide gate,
our back on all its state;
press along the narrow road
leads to life, to bliss, to God.
cannot and we would not stay;
dread the snares that throng the way;
fling aside the weight and sin,
the victory to win;
know the peril, but our eyes
on the splendor of the prize.
idling now, no wasteful sleep,
Christian toil our limbs to keep;
shrinking from the desperate fight;
thought of yielding or of flight;
love of present gain or ease;
seeking man or self to please.
sorrow for the loss of fame;
dread of scandal on our name;
terror for the world’s sharp scorn;
wish that taunting to return.
hatred can to hatred move,
enmity but kindles love.
sigh for laughter left behind,
pleasures scattered to the wind;
looking back on Sodom’s plains;
listening still to Babel’s strains;
tears for Egypt’s song and smile;
thirsting for its flowing Nile.
though with weariness oppressed?
but a little and we rest.
throbbing heart and burning brain
soon be calm and cool again;
is far spent and morn is near—
of the cloudless and the clear.
but a little and we come
our reward, our crown, our home!
year, or more, or less,
we have crossed the wilderness;
the toil, the rest begun,
battle fought, the triumph won!”