HARVEST GATHERINGS AND SIFTINGS
MANY are the inquiries relative to the truths presented in the STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES and THE WATCH TOWER, as to whence they came and how they developed to their present symmetrical and beautiful proportions. Were they the results of visions? Did God in some supernatural way grant the solution of these hitherto hidden mysteries of His Plan? Is the author of these writings more than an ordinary being? Does he claim supernatural wisdom or power? Or how comes this revelation of God’s Truth?
No, dear friends; we claim nothing of superiority; nor do we aspire to exalt ourself in the estimation of our brethren of the Household of Faith, except in the sense that the Master urged it, saying, “Whosoever will be chief among you let him be your servant.” (Matthew 20:27.) Our position amongst men of the world and of the Nominal Church, is certainly far from exalted; for we are everywhere spoken against. We are fully content, however, to wait for exaltation, until the Lord’s due time. (1 Peter 5:6.) In the words of the Apostle, we therefore answer, “Why look ye upon us, as though by our own power we had done these things?” We also are a man of like passions with yourselves, of like infirmities and frailties, earnestly striving by overcoming many besetments, discouragements, etc., to press along the line toward the Prize of our High Calling, and claiming only, as a faithful student of the Word of God, to be an index finger, as we have previously expressed it, to help you trace for yourselves upon the sacred page the wonderful Plan of God–no less wonderful to us, we assure you, than to yourselves.
No, the truths we present, were not revealed in visions and dreams or by God’s audible voice; nor were they revealed all at once, but gradually, especially since 1870, and particularly since 1880. This present unfolding of Truth is not due to human ingenuity or acuteness of perception, but to the simple fact that God’s due time has come; and if we did not speak, and no other agent could be found, the very stones would cry out.
We give the following history, not only because we have been urged to give a review of God’s leadings in the path of light, but especially because we believe it to be needful that the truth be modestly told, in order that misapprehensions and prejudicial misstatements may be disarmed, and that our readers may see all along the way the Lord has helped and guided us. In so far as the names and views of others who have parted company with us may be associated with this history, we shall endeavor to bring forward only such points as are necessary to an understanding of our position and of the Lord’s leadings. Nor can we name all the little points of Divine favor to which was tested, prayers were answered, etc., remembering that our Master and the early Church left no such example of boasting faith, but admonished otherwise, saying, “Hast thou faith, have it to thyself.”
We will not go back to tell how the light began to break through the clouds of prejudice and superstition which enveloped the world under Papacy’s rule in the Dark Ages. The Reformation movement, or rather movements, from then until now, have done their share in bringing light out of darkness. But we will here confine ourselves to the consideration of the Harvest truths set forth in the publications of the THE WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY formerly called MILLENNIAL DAWN and ZION’S WATCH TOWER, now called STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES and THE WATCH TOWER. We begin the narrative at the year 1868, when Editor, having been a consecrated child of God for some years, and a member of the Congregational Church and of the Y.M.C.A., began to be shaken in faith regarding many long accepted doctrines.
SKETCH OF DEVELOPMENT OF PRESENT TRUTH
Brought up a Presbyterian, indoctrinated from the Catechism, and being naturally of an inquiring mind, I fell a ready prey to the logic of infidelity, as soon as I began to think for myself. But that which at first threatened to be the utter shipwreck of faith in God and the Bible, was, under God’s providence, overruled for good, and merely wrecked my confidence in human creeds and systems of Bible misinterpretations.
I was led gradually to see though each of the creeds contained some elements of truth, they were, on the whole, misleading and contradictory of God’s Word. Among other theories, stumbled upon Adventism. Seemingly by accident, one evening I dropped into a dusty, dingy hall in Allegheny, Pa., where I had heard that religious services were held, to see if the handful who met there had anything more sensible to offer than the creeds of the great churches. There, for the first time, I heard something of the views of Second Adventism, by Jonas Wendell, long since deceased. Thus I confess indebtedness to Adventists as well as to other denominations.
Though his Scripture exposition was not entirely clear, and though it was very far from what we now rejoice in, it was sufficient, under God, to reestablish my wavering faith in the Divine inspiration of the Bible, and to show that the records of the Apostles and the Prophets are indissolubly linked. What I heard sent me to my Bible to study with more zeal and care than ever before, and I shall ever thank the Lord for the leading; for although Adventism helped me to no single truth, it did help me greatly in the unlearning of errors, and thus prepared me for the Truth.
FIRST FAINT GLEAM OF GOD’S PLAN
I soon began to see that we were living somewhere near the close of the Gospel Age, near the time when the Lord declared that the wise, watching ones of His children should come to clear knowledge of His Plan. At this time, myself and a few other Truth seekers in Pittsburg and Allegheny, formed a class for Bible study; and the period from 1870 to 1875 was a time of constant growth in grace, in knowledge and in love of God and his Word. We came to see something of God’s love, how it had made provision for all mankind, how all must be awakened from the tomb in order that God’s loving Plan might be tested to them, and how all who will then exercise faith in Christ’s redemptive work and will render obedience in harmony with their knowledge of God’s will, might then, through Christ’s merit, be brought back into full harmony with God, and be granted everlasting life. This we saw to be the Restitution work foretold in Acts 3:21.
But though seeing that the Church was called to jointheirship with the Lord in the Millennial Kingdom, we had up to that time failed to see clearly the great distinction between the rewards of the Church now on trial and the reward of the faithful of the world after its trial, at the close of the Millennial Age–that the reward of the former is to be the glory of the spiritual, Divine nature, while that of the latter is to be the glory of Restitution–restoration to the perfection of human nature, once enjoyed in Eden by the head of the race.
However, we were then merely getting the outlines of God’s Plan and unlearning many cherished errors, the time for the clear discernment of the minutia not having fully come. And here I gratefully mention assistance rendered by Brothers George Stetson and George Storrs, the latter the Editor of The bible Examiner, both now deceased. The study of the Word of God with these dear brethren led step by step into greener pastures and brighter hopes for the world, though it was not until 1872, when I gained a clear view of our Lord’s work as our Ransom-price, that I found the foundation of all hope of Restitution to lie in the doctrine.
Up to that time, when I read the testimony that all in their grave shall come forth, etc., I yet doubted the full provision–whether or not it would be understood to include idiots and infants who had died without reaching any degree of understanding, beings to whom the present life and its experiences would seem to have been of little advantage. But when in 1872 I came to examine the subject of Restitution from the standpoint of the Ransom-price given by our Lord Jesus for Adam and consequently for all lost in Adam, it settled the matter of Restitution completely, and gave me the fullest assurance that ALL must come forth from their graves and be brought to a clear knowledge of the Truth and to a full opportunity to gain everlasting life through Christ. [page 171]
Thus passed the years 1868-1872. The years following, to 1876, were years of continued growth in grace and in knowledge on the part of the handful of Bible students with whom I met in Allegheny. We progressed from our first crude and indefinite ideas of Restitution to clearer understanding of the details; but God’s due time for clear light had not yet come.
During this time, too, we came to recognize the difference between our lord as “the man who gave Himself,” and as the One who would come again, a spirit being. We saw that spirit beings can be present and yet invisible to men, just as we still hold and have set forth in STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Vol.2, Chapter 5. And we felt greatly grieved at the error of Second Adventists, who were expecting Christ in the flesh and were teaching that the world and all in it except Second Aventists would be burned up in 1873 or 1874 and whose time settings and disappointments and crude ideas generally of the object and manner of our Lord’s coming brought more or less reproach upon us and upon all who longed for and proclaimed His coming Kingdom.
CHRONOLOGY SEEN TO BE VALUABLE
These wrong views so generally held of both the object and manner of Christ’s Second Advent, led me to write a pamphlet: “The Object and Manner of the Lord’s return,” of which some 50,000 copies were published.
It was about January of 1876 that my attention was especially drawn to the subject of prophetic time, as it refers to these doctrines and hopes. It came about in this way: I received a paper called, The Herald of the Morning, sent by its Editor, Mr. N. H. Barbour. When I opened it, I at once identified it with Adventism from the picture on its cover; and I examined it with some curiosity to see what time the Adventists would next set for the burning of the world. But judge of my surprise and gratification when I learned from its contents that the Editor was beginning to get his eyes open on the subjects that for some years had so greatly rejoiced our hearts in our class in Allegheny–that the object of our Lord’s Return is not to destroy, but to bless all the families of the earth: and that His Coming would be thief-like, and not in flesh, but as a spirit being, invisible to men; and that the gathering of His Church and the separation of the “wheat” from the “tares” would progress in the end of this Age without the world’s being aware of it.
I rejoiced to find others coming to the same advanced position, but was astonished to find the statement very cautiously set forth, that the Editor of The Herald of the Morning believed the prophecies to indicate that the Lord was already present in the world unseen and invisible that the Harvest work of gathering the wheat and tares was already due; and that this view was warranted by the time prophecies which but a few months before he had supposed had failed.
Here was a new thought: Could it be that the time prophecies, which I had so long despised, because of their misuse by Adventists, were really meant to indicate when the Lord would be invisibly present to set up His Kingdom?– a thing which I clearly saw could be known in no other way. It seemed, to say the least, a very reasonable thing to expect that the Lord would inform His people on the subject, especially as He had promised that the faithful should not be left in darkness with the world, and that although “the Day of the Lord” would come upon others as a thief in the night (stealthily, unawares), nevertheless it should not be so to the watchers, the earnest saints.–1 Thessalonians 5:4.
I recalled certain arguments used by my friend Jonas Wendell and by other Adventists to prove that 1873 would witness the burning of the world, etc.–the chronology of the world showing that the six thousand years from Adam ended with the beginning of 1873–and other arguments drawn from the Scriptures and supposed to coincide. Could it be that these time arguments, which I had passed by as unworthy of attention, contained an important truth which the Adventists had misapplied?
AN IMPORTANT DISCOVERY
Anxious to learn from any quarter, whatever God had to teach, I at once wrote to Mr. Barbour, informing him of my harmony on other points and desiring to know particularly why, and upon what Scriptural evidence, he held that Christ’s presence and the Harvest of the Gospel Age dated from autumn of 1874. The answer showed that my surmise had been correct; namely, that the time arguments, chronology, etc., were same as used by Second Adventists in 1873. It also explained that Mr. Barbour and Mr. J. H. Paton, of Michigan, a worker with him, had been regular Second Adventists up to that time; and that when the date of 1874 had passed without the world’s being burned up, and without their seeing Christ in the flesh, they were for a time dumbfounded. They had examined the time prophecies which had seemingly passed unfulfilled, and had been unable to find any flaw. Therefore they began to wonder whether the time was right and their expectations were wrong–whether the views of Restitution and blessing to the world, which others were teaching, might not be the things to look for.
It seemed that not long after their 1874 disappointment, a reader of The Herald of the Morning, who had a copy of the Emphatic Diaglott, noticed something in it which he thought peculiar–that in Matthew 24:27,37,39, the Greek word parousia, which in our Common Version is rendered “coming,” is in the Diaglott translated “presence“–evidently the correct translation of the Greek. This was the clue; and following it, they had been led through prophetic time toward proper views regarding the object and manner of our Lord’s Return, and then to the examination of the time when the things indicated in God’s Word as related to Christ’s Parousia should take place. Thus God leads His children often from different starting points of Truth. But where heart is earnest and trustful, the results must be to draw all together.
There were no books nor other publications setting forth the time prophecies as then understood. So I paid Mr. Barbour’s expenses to come to see me at Philadelphia (where I had business engagements during the summer of 1876), to show me fully and Scripturally, if he could, that the prophecies indicated 1874 as the date at which the Lord’s presence and the Harvest began. He came; and the evidence satisfied me. Being a person of positive convictions, and fully consecrated to the Lord, I at once saw that the special times in which we live have an important bearing upon our duty and work as Christ’s disciples; that since we are living in the time of the Harvest, the Harvest work should be done; and that Present Truth is the sickle by which the Lord would have us do a reaping work everywhere among His children.
I inquired of Mr. Barbour as to what was being done by him and The Herald. He replied that nothing was being done; that nearly all the readers of the The Herald, being disappointed Adventists, had lost interest and stopped their subscriptions; and that thus, with money exhausted. The Herald might be said to be practically suspended. I told him that instead of being discouraged and giving up the work since his newly found light on Restitution (for when we first met, he had much to learn from me on the fulness of Restitution, based upon the sufficiency of the Ransom given for all, as I had much to learn from him concerning time), he should rather feel that now he had some “good tidings” to preach, such as he never had had before; and that his zeal should be correspondingly increased. At the same time, the knowledge of the fact that we were already in the Harvest period gave to me an impetus to spread the Truth such as I never had had before. I therefore resolved upon a vigorous campaign for the Lord and the Truth.
THE BEGINNING OF THE HARVEST WORK
I determined to curtail my business cares and give my time as well as my means to the great Harvest work. Accordingly, I sent Mr. Barbour back to his home with money and instructions to prepare in concise book form the Good Tidings so far as then understood, including the time features, while I closed out my Philadelphia business preparatory to engaging in the work, traveling and preaching.
The little book of 196 pages, thus prepared, was entitled, The Three Worlds, and while it was not the first book to teach a measure of Restitution, nor the first to treat of time prophecy, it was, I believe, the first to combine the idea of Restitution with time prophecy. From the sale of this book and from my purse our traveling expenses were met. After a time I conceived the idea of adding another Harvest laborer, and sent for Mr. Paton, who promptly responded and whose traveling expenses were met in the same way.
By noticing how quickly people seemed to forget what they had heard, it became evident to us that, while the meetings were useful in awakening interest, a monthly journal was needed to hold and develop that interest. It therefore seemed to be the Lord’s will that one of us should settle somewhere and begin again the regular issuing of The Herald of the Morning. I suggested that Mr. Barbour do this, as he had experience as a type-setter, and could therefore do it more economically; while Mr. Paton and I would continue to travel and contribute to its columns as we should find opportunity. To the objection that type was now sold, and that the new subscriptions that would come in would not for a long time make the journal self-sustaining, I replied that I would furnish the money for purchasing type, etc., and leave a few hundred dollars in bank subject to Mr. Barbour’s check, and that he should manage this as economically as possible, while Mr. Paton and I would continue to travel. This seemed to be the Lord’s will in the matter, was done.
It was after this, while a tour of the New England [page 172] states that I met Mr. A. P. Adams, than a young Methodist minister, who became deeply interested and accepted the Message heartily during the week that I preached to his congregation. Subsequently I introduced him to little gatherings of interested ones in neighboring towns, and assisted otherwise, as I could, rejoicing in another who, with study, would soon be a colaborer in the Harvest field. About this time, too, I was much encouraged by the accession of Mr. A. D. Jones, then a clerk in my employ in Pittsburgh–a young man of activity and promise, who soon developed into an active and appreciated colaborer in the Harvest work, and is remembered by some of our older readers. Mr. Jones ran well for a time; but ambition or something else eventually worked utter shipwreck of his faith, and left us a painful illustration of the wisdom of the Apostle’s words: “My brethren be not many of you teachers, knowing that we shall have a severer judgment.”–James 3:1, Diaglott.
SIFTING AS WHEAT
Until then all had run smoothly onward. We had been greatly blessed with the Truth, but not especially tested in our love and fidelity to it. But with the summer of 1878, the parallel in time to our Lord’s crucifixion and His utterance of the above quoted words, the sifting began which has continued ever since, and which must, sooner or later, test every one who receives the light of Present Truth.
“Think it not strange concerning the fiery trials which shall try you, as though some strange thing happened to you”; for “the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is”– whether he has built his faith flimsily of wood, hay and stubble, instead of with the valuable stones of God’s revealed Truth’ or whether he has built it upon the shifting sands of human theories (Evolution, etc.) or has built it upon the solid rock, the Ransom, the only sure foundation. which God has provided. They who would build upon that Rock shall be saved personally, even though they may have built up an illogical faith, which the “fire” and shaking of this Day of trial shall overthrow and utterly consume. But they who have built upon any other foundation, whether they have used good or bad materials, are sure of complete wreck. —Luke 6:47-49; 1 Corinthians 3:11-15.
The object of this trial and sifting evidently is to select all whose heart desires are unselfish, who are fully and unreservedly consecrated to the Lord; who are so desirous of having the Lord’s will done, and whose confidence in His wisdom, His way and His Word is so great, that they refuse to be led away from the Lord’s Word, either by the sophistries of others or by plans and ideas of their own. These in this sifting time will be strengthened and will increase their joy in the Lord and their knowledge of His plans, even while their faith is being tested by the falling into error of thousands on every hand.–Psalm 91:7.
The sifting began: It was regarding St. Paul’s statement (1 Corinthians 15:51,52), “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,” etc. We still held the idea which Adventists, and indeed all Christians, hold, that at some time the living saints would be suddenly and miraculously caught away bodily, thenceforth to be with the Lord. And now our acquaintance with time prophecy led us to expect this translation of the saints at the point of time in this Age parallel to the Lord’s resurrection; for many of the parallelisms between the Jewish and Christian dispensations were already seen by us, and formed one of the features of the little book above referred to–The Three Worlds.
We did not see then as we do now (see STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Vol. III., Chapter 7), that April, 1878, marked the time for the beginning of the establishment of the Kingdom of God, by the glorification of all who were already asleep in Christ; and that the “change” which St. Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 15:51is to occur in the moment of dying to all the class described, from that date onward through the Harvest period, until all the living members (“the feet”) of the body of Christ shall have been changed to glorious spirit beings. But when, at that date, nothing occurred which we could see, a reexamination of the matter showed me that our mistake lay in expecting to see all the living saints changed at once, and without dying–an erroneous view shared in by the whole Nominal Church, one which we had not yet recognized as an error and discarded.
Our present clear view was the result of the examination thus started. I soon saw that in the Apostle’s words, “We shall not all sleep,” the word sleep was not synonymous with die, though generally so understood; that, on the contrary, the expression “sleep” here used represents unconsciousness; and that the Apostle wished us to understand that from a certain time in the Lord’s presence, His saints, though they would all die like men (Psalm 82:6,7), would not remain for any time unconscious, but in the moment of dying would be “changed,” and would receive the spirit body promised. Throughout this Gospel Age, dying has been followed by unconsciousness, “sleep” This continued true of all true saints who fell “asleep in Jesus,” up to the time when He took the office of King (Revelation 11:17), which we have shown was in the spring of 1878. See STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Vol. II., pp. 212-219.
Not only did the king at that date awaken in His likeness all the members of his body, the Church, who slept, but for the same reason (the time for establishing the Kingdom having come) it is no longer necessary that the “feet” or last remaining members go into “sleep,” or unconsciousness. On the contrary, each now, as he finishes his course, faithful unto death, will at once receive the Crown of Life, and being changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, cannot be said to sleep, or be unconscious at all. Here–1878–Revelation 14:13 became applicable: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth.“
So this reexamination showed further light upon the pathway and became a good cause for encouragement. as evidencing the Lord’s continued leading.
DENYING THE RANSOM
But while thus helped to clearer views and brighter hopes, and while I diligently endeavored to help others, the spring of 1878 proved far from a blessing to Mr. Barbour and to many under his influence. Rejecting the plain, simple solution presented above, Mr. Barbour seemed to feel that he must of necessity get up something new to divert attention from the failure of the living saints to be caught away. But alas, how dangerous it is for any man to feel too much responsibility and to attempt to force new light! To our painful surprise, Mr. Barbour soon after wrote an article for The Herald denying the doctrine of the Atonement– denying that the death of Christ was the Ransom-price for Adam and his race, saying that our Lord’s death could no more avail for the payment of the penalty of Man’s sins than would the sticking of a pin through the body of a fly and causing it suffering and death be considered by an earthly parent as a just settlement for misdemeanor in his child. I was astonished; for I supposed that Mr. Barbour had a clear understanding of the work of Christ as our Sin- Offering, our willing Redeemer, who gladly cooperating in the Divine Plan, gave Himself as the Ransom, or corresponding price, to meet the penalty upon Adam, that Adam and all his posterity might in due time go free from sin and death.
A totally different thing indeed was the willing, intelligent, loving offering of our Redeemer, according to the Plan devised and revealed by Infinite Wisdom, from the miserable caricature of the Ransom offered in Mr. Barbour’s illustration. Either I had given Mr. Barbour credit for clearer views than he ever had, or else he was deliberately taking off and casting away the Wedding Garment of Christ’s righteousness. The latter was the only conclusion left; for he afterwards stated that he had previously recognized Christ’s death as man’s Ransom.
Immediately I wrote an article for The Herald in contradiction of the error, showing the necessity that “One die for all,” “the Just for the unjust”; that Christ had fulfilled all this as had been written; and consequently God could be just and forgive and release the sinner from the very penalty which He had justly imposed. (Romans 3:26.) I also wrote to Mr. Paton, calling his attention to the fundamental character of the doctrines assailed, and pointing out the time and circumstances all corresponded with the parable of the one who took off the wedding garment when just about to partake of the wedding feast.–Matthew 22:11-14.
Mr. Paton replied that he had not seen the matter in so strong a light before; for Mr. Barbour had a strong, dogmatic way of putting things which had for the time over-balanced him. I urged that, seeing now the importance of the doctrine, he also wrote and article for The Herald, which in no uncertain tone would give his witness also for the precious blood of Christ. This he did. These articles appeared in The Herald from July to December, 1878.
“THE WATCH TOWER” BEGUN
It now became clear to me that the Lord would no longer have me assist financially, or be in any way identical with, anything which cast an influence in opposition to the fundamental principle of our holy religion. Therefore, after a most careful though unavailing effort to reclaim the erring. I withdrew entirely from The Herald of the Morning, and from further fellowship with Mr. Barbour. But a mere withdrawal I felt was not sufficient to show my continued loyalty to our Lord and Redeemer whose cause had thus been violently [page 173] assailed by one in a position to lead the sheep stray– and in that position, too, very largely by my individual assistance and encouragement, when I believed him to be, in all sincerity, true to the Lord. I therefore understood it to be the Lord’s will that I should start another journal, in which the standard of the Cross should be lifted high, the doctrine of the Ransom defended and the Good Tidings of great joy proclaimed as extensively as possible.
Acting upon this leading of the Lord, I gave up traveling, and in July, 1879, the first number of THE WATCH TOWER AND HERALD OF CHRIST’S PRESENCE made its appearance. From the first, it has been a special advocate of the Ransom; and, by the grace of God, we hope it will be so to the end.
For a time we had a most painful experience. The readers of THE WATCH TOWER and of The Herald were the same; and from the time the former started, and the supply of funds from this quarter for The Herald ceased, Mr. Barbour not only drew from the bank the money deposited by me and treated all he had in his possession as his own, but poured upon the Editor of THE WATCH TOWER the vilest of personal abuse, in order to prevent THE WATCH TOWER and the doctrine of the Ransom from having due influence upon the readers. This, of course, caused a division, as such things always do. The personal abuse, being regarded by some as true, had its intended effect of biasing the judgments of many on the subject of the Ransom; and many turned from us.
OTHERS REPUDIATE THE RANSOM
But the Lord continued His favor, which we esteem more valuable than the favor of the whole world. It was this time that Mr. Adams espoused the views of Mr. Barbour, and likewise forsook the doctrine of the Ransom. And true to our interpretation of the parable of the Wedding Garment, as given at the time, Mr. Barbour and Mr. Adams, having cast off the Wedding Garment of Christ’s Righteousness, went out of the light into the darkness of the world on the subjects once so clearly seen; namely, the time and manner of the Lord’s presence; from that time, onward, they expected Christ, Spring or Fall, down to the Spring of 1892, which was their latest disappointment, so far as we heard.*
*Mr. Barbour died some years after this article first appeared in print.
During this ordeal, or we might truly call it, battle for the cause of Christ, we had the earnest cooperation of Mr. Paton, who, up to the Summer of 1881, was an appreciated colaborer and defender of the doctrine of coming blessings through Christ, based upon the Ransom for all given at Calvary. The book, the Three Worlds, having been for some time out of print, it seemed as if either another edition or a new book covering the same features should be gotten out.
Mr. Paton agreed to get it ready for the press; and Mr. Jones offered to pay all the expenses incident to its printing and binding and to give Mr. Paton as many copies of the book as he could sell, as remuneration for his time spent in preparing the matter, provided I would agree to advertise it liberally and gratuitously in THE WATCH TOWER. (For this reason, Mr. Jones’ address was, probably, the only one mentioned in our advertisement of it.) He well knew that there would be a demand for it if I should recommend it, and that his outlay would be sure to return with profit (for those books did not sell at such very low prices as we charge for the STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES). I not only agreed to this, but contributed to Mr. Paton’s personal expenses in connection with the publishing, and as well paid part of the printer’s bill, at his solicitation.
STILL FURTHER SIFTINGS
In the end, I alone was at any financial loss in connection with the book, Day Dawn, the writer and the publisher both being gainers financially, while I did all the introducing by repeated advertisements. We need to give these particulars because of certain misrepresentations and one-sided and partial statements of acts which were afterward published and circulated in tract form by Mr. Paton, who also became later an advocate of the “other Gospel,” of which the Cross of Christ is not the center, and which denies that He “bought us with His own precious blood.” (Galatians 1:6-9.) Mr. Paton afterward published another book, which though called by the same name as the one I introduced, was on another and false foundation, which I could not and did not recommend, but which I esteemed misleading sophistry, tending to undermine the whole structure of the Christian system, yet retaining a sufficiency of the truths which we once held in common to make it palatable and dangerous to all not rooted and grounded upon the Ransom Rock.
The false foundation which this later Day Dawn presented is the old heathen doctrine of Evolution, renamed, which not only denies the fall of man, but, as a consequence, all necessity of a redeemer. It claimed on the contrary, that not by Redemption and Restitution to a lost estate, but by progressive evolution, or development, man has risen and is still to rise from the lower condition in which he was created until, by his own good works, he ultimately reaches the Divine nature. Mr. Paton claimed that our blessed Lord Himself was a degraded and imperfect man, whose work on earth was to crucify a carnal nature (which it was claimed He possessed), and to thus show all men how to crucify their carnal or sinful propensities.
And here we remark that the darkness and degradation which came upon the whole world in its fallen, cast-off condition, and which was only intensified by Papacy’s priestcraft during the Dark Ages, when contrasted with the light of intelligence which God is now letting in upon the world, have gradually led men to esteem present intelligence as merely a part of the process of evolution. This view, as we have shown in STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Vol. I., p. 162, though quite incorrect, is nevertheless the occasion of the great predicted falling away from the faith in the Bible during this Harvest period. (Psalm 91:7.) And few Christian people seem to be well enough grounded in the Truth to be able to withstand this trial of this “evil day,” in which many will fall, while only the few will stand.
The little history of the way Mr. Paton came to turn from us and from the Ransom to oppose that which he once clearly saw and advocated, is important; for it became the occasion of another sifting, or testing, of THE WATCH TOWER readers (by that time a much larger number), because Mr. Paton had been a respected brother and coworker with us, and because as a traveling representative of the THE WATCH TOWER and its doctrines (his expenses being met in part by WATCH TOWER subscriptions and renewals, as well as by money from myself), he was personally known to a larger number of our readers than was the Editor. It came about thus:
In the year 1881, Mr. Barbour, still publishing The Herald, and still endeavoring to overthrow the doctrine of the Ransom, finding that on a preaching tour I had used a diagram of the Tabernacle to illustrate how Christ’s sacrifice was typified in the sacrifices of typical Israel, wrote an article on the Atonement, in which he undertook to show that the sacrifices of the Day of Atonement typified almost anything else than what they do typify. I could readily see through the fallacy of his presentation, which made the bullock and the goat typify one thing in one verse and another thing in each other verse in which either was mentioned. But I well knew that people in general are not close reasoners, and that with the cares of life upon them, they are too apt to accept a seeming interpretation, without a critical examination of the words of the Scriptures and their context.
After I had thought the matter all over, I reexamined the chapter. (Leviticus 16.) But while seeing the inconsistency of Mr. Barbour’s interpretation, I could only confess that I did not understand it and could not give a connected interpretation which would fit all the details so plainly stated, and all of which must have a particular meaning. What could I do? those reading both The Herald and THE WATCH TOWER would probably be misled if not helped out of the difficulty; and to merely say the The Herald’s interpretation was inconsistent with itself, and therefore a misinterpretation, would be misunderstood. Many would surely think that I opposed that view from a spirit of rivalry; for there are always people with whom everything resolves itself into personality, rivalry and party spirit, and such cannot understand others who take a higher and nobler view, and who think always and only of the Truth, regardless of persons.
“TABERNACLE SHADOWS OF BETTER SACRIFICES”
I went to the Lord with this, as with every trial; I told Him just how it seemed to me, how anxious I felt for the dear sheep, who having their appetites sharpened by the Truth were by their very hunger exposed to Satan’s deceptions. I told him that I realized that He was the Shepherd and not I, but I knew also that he would be pleased with my interest in the sheep and my desire to be His servant and to declare the Truth, the Way and the Life to them; that I felt deeply impressed that if the time had come for the permission of a false view to deceive the unworthy, it must also be His due time to have the truth on the same subject made clear, that the worthy ones might be able to stand, and not fall from the Truth.
Believing that the due time had come for the correct understanding of the meaning of the Jewish sacrifices which all Christians see were typical of “better sacrifices,” and trusting that the Lord would grant the insight as soon as I got into the attitude of mind best fitted to receive the light, I prayed with confidence that if the Lord’s due time had come, and if he were willing to use me as His instrument to declare [page 174] the message to His dear family, I might be able to rid my heart and mind of any prejudice that might stand in the way, and be led of His Spirit into the proper understanding.
Believing that the prayer would be answered affirmatively, I went into my next morning prepared to study and write. The forenoon I spent in scrutinizing the text and every other Scripture likely to shed light upon it, especially the Epistle to the Hebrews, and in looking to the Lord for wisdom and guidance. But no solution of the difficult passage came. The afternoon and evening were similarly spent, and all of the next day. Everything else was neglected, and I wondered why the Lord kept me so long. But on the third day, near noon, the whole matter came to me as clear as the noonday sun–so clear and convincing and harmonious with the whole tenor of the Scriptures, that I could not question its correctness; and no one has ever yet been able to overthrow it. (The matter has been published in several editions in pamphlet form, under the title, TABERNACLE SHADOWS OF THE BETTER SACRIFICES, and can be had by addressing THE WATCH TOWER Office at Brooklyn.)
Then I knew why the Lord had led me to the solution so slowly and cautiously. I needed a special preparation of heart for the full appreciation of all it contained; and I was all the more assured that it was not of my own wisdom; for if of my own, why would it not have come at once? I found that the understanding of that subject was bound to have a wide influence upon all our hopes and views of all truths– not that it overturned old truths or contradicted them, but that, on the contrary, it set them all in order and harmony, and straightened out little knots and twists.
For instance, the doctrine of justification by Faith had always been more of less confused in my mind–as it has been in every mind–with the doctrine of sanctification, which calls for self-sacrifice and works. This was all made clear and plain at once; for the types show that we all, as sinners, needed first of all Christ’s Ransom-sacrifice that we must appropriate its merit to ourselves by faith; that thus we are justified (reckoned free from sin), when we by faith accept of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf and consecrate ourselves to God. The type shows, too, that it is only after being thus cleansed in God’s sight (by our acceptance of Christ’s finished work as our Ransom-sacrifice, and the imputation of Christ’s merit to us) that God is willing to accept our offering and receive us as joint-sacrificers with Christ: and that, if faithful to the end, following in His footsteps, we shall be granted the favor of joint-heirship in the kingdom.
STILL FURTHER LIGHT ON THE SCRIPTURES
Here I first saw that the great privilege of becoming joint-heirs with Christ and partakers with Him of the Divine nature is confined exclusively to those who would share with Him in His sacrifice and service of the Truth. And here, too, I saw for the first time that the Lord was the first of these sacrifices–the Sin- offering; consequently, that none of God’s servants, the Prophets and faithful ones who lived and died before Christ, were priests after His order or sharers in the sacrifice with Him, even though some of them were stoned, others sawn asunder, and others slain with the sword, for the cause of God; that though they would get a good and great reward, they would belong to a separate class and order from those called to sacrifice and joint-heirship with Christ in the kingdom, at and since Pentecost.
Here, too, I first saw that the Acceptable Day of the Lord signifies this Gospel Age, the time during which God will accept the sacrifice of any who come to Him through Christ, the great Sin-Offering; that when this Acceptable Day ends, the reward of joint-heirship and the Divine nature ends; and that when this great Day of Sacrifice, the Gospel Age (the real Day of Atonement, has closed, when all the members of the body of Christ shall have participated with Him in the sacrifice of their rights as justified men, and shall be glorified, then the blessings shall begin to come to the world–the Millennial blessings purchased for them by their Redeemer, according to the grace of God.
This first brought me to a clear recognition of the distinction of natures–of what constitutes human nature, what constitutes angelic nature and what constitutes Divine nature. as shown in STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES. Vol. I., Chapter X. And whereas I had used the word RESTITUTION in a general way to mean some sort of a blessed change, now under the clear light. I began to see that the great work of Restitution could mean only what the word implies–a restoration of that which was lost (Matthew 18:11), a restoration to the original condition from which man once fell.
Then I saw that God’s Plan when carried out, would not bring all of His creatures to the level of the Divine nature, but that He purposed to have an order of beings called angels. who though perfect, would always be of a different order, or nature, from the Divine nature; and that He likewise purposed to have a race of beings of the human nature of whom Adam was a sample, or pattern of whose future earthly home–Paradise–Eden was a sample, or pattern. I also saw that God purposed that Christ and His joint-sacrificers and joint-heirs to be God’s instruments for blessing the fallen race and restoring them to the perfection enjoyed by Adam in Eden, a condition which God said was “very good.” and in which man was an image of his Creator.
When all these things unexpectedly shone out so brightly and clearly, I did not wonder that the Lord gave me several days waiting and preparation for the blessing; and to Him I rendered praise and thanks. All my faintness of heart and all fear of the bad effect of the wrong view fled before this evidence of the Lord’s leading in the pathway that “shines more and more unto the perfect Day.” I saw at once that these new developments would probably prove a stumbling-block to some, as well as a great blessing to others who were ready for them. Instead, therefore, of publishing it in the next WATCH TOWER, I determined to first present the matter privately to the more prominent brethren; remembering the Apostle Paul’s course in a similar matter.–Galatians 2:1,2.
OTHERS WITHDRAW FROM US
Accordingly, I sent the invitation and the money necessary for the traveling expenses to four of the more prominent brethren, requesting a conference. Mr. Paton, from Michigan, was one of the four, and the only one who rejected the first rays of light. Nor could he find any fault with the exegesis, though urged, as all were, to state anything which might seem inconsistent, or to quote any passage of Scripture thought to be in conflict. There were none; and every question only demonstrated the strength of the position. I therefore urged that what was beyond the criticism of those most familiar with the Plan of God must be the Truth and ought to be confessed and taught, especially when it arranged and ordered all the other features of the Truth so beautifully.
I pointed out, too, how necessary it was to a logical holding of the Ransom to see just what this showed; namely, the distinctions of natures–that our Lord left a higher nature and took a lower nature, when He was made flesh, and that the object in that change of nature was that He might, as a man a perfect man, give Himself a Ransom for the first perfect man, Adam, and thus redeem Adam and all lost in him. I also showed how, as a reward for this great work, He was given the Divine nature in His resurrection–a nature still higher than the one He had left when He became a man.
But either Mr. Paton’s mental vision or his heart was weak; for he never took the step; and before long, he, too. forsook the doctrine of the Ransom. Yet he still used the word Ransom, while denying the idea conveyed by the word; nor could he give the word any other definition or otherwise dispute the correctness of the meaning which we attach to it –which may be found in any English dictionary and is true to the significance of the Greek word which it translates.
Notwithstanding our best endeavors to save him, he drifted farther and farther away. I was obliged to refuse his articles for THE WATCH TOWER for the same reason that obliged me to refuse to spend the Lord’s money entrusted to me to assist Mr. Barbour to spread the same pernicious theory.
It was about this time that Mr. Jones informed me that the copies of the book, Day Dawn, which I had purchased last were all that were left; and announcing it so that no more orders for it might come to the TOWER Office, I took occasion to promise MILLENNIAL DAWN, which should present the Plan of the Ages in the clearer, more orderly manner made possible by the new light shed upon every feature of it by the lessons from the Tabernacle.
About this time Mr. Paton concluded that he would publish another book under the name Day Dawn, revised to harmonize with his new views, which ignored the Ransom, ignored justification, and the need of either, and taught that all men will be everlastingly saved–not in any sense as the result of a sacrifice by Christ, but as the result of each one’s crucifying sin in himself–the law under which the poor Jews tried to commend themselves to God, but which justified none. Many and severe were the calumnies heaped upon me because I exposed this change, told that the original Day Dawn was out of print, and that the new book was on a different foundation from that which I had recommended.
FOOD FOR THINKING CHRISTIANS
During this time I was busied with an immense work, known to some of you–the issue and circulation of over 1,400,000 copies of two pamphlets: one entitled. FOOD FOR THINKING CHRISTIANS, and other, TABERNACLE TEACHINGS. The united matter of these two pamphlets was about the size [page 175] of that of SCRIPTURES STUDIES, Vol I. Besides this, I was flooded with thousands of joyous and joy-giving letters, from those who had received and were reading the pamphlets thus distributed, and were asking questions and more reading matter. To add to our pressure, financial complications came; and thus for four years I was hindered from fulfilling my promise of MILLENNIAL DAWN, now called STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES. Nor is our promise of the complete set fulfilled even yet. Six volumes are out, but the Seventh Volume is not yet issued. During these years, however, we were struggling through an immense amount of labor (all cheerfully undergone for the sake of our Lord and His saints); and each year we hoped afresh to be able to gather the hours necessary to complete the first volume of MILLENNIAL DAWN. And the same great Adversary of the Truth later hindered other volumes of the series.
Some who have The Three Worlds or the old edition of Day dawn would perhaps like to know my present opinion of them–whether I still think them profitable books to loan to truth-seekers. To this I reply, Certainly not; for the very immature views of God’s Truth therein presented fall far short of what we now see to be God’s wonderful Plan. Things which are now clear as noonday were then cloudy and mixed. The distinction between the perfect human nature, to which the obedient of the world will be restored during the Millennium, and the Divine nature, to which the Little Flock, the sacrificing Elect of the Gospel Age are soon to be exalted, were then unnoticed. All now so clear was then blurred, mixed and indistinct. Neither had we then seen the steps or planes, shown upon the Chart of the Ages in STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Vol. I., which have assisted so many to distinguish justification and sanctification and to determine their present relationship to God.
And the time reckonings which those books presented, lacking point and leaving the reader in doubt as to what the author is attempting to prove to them, tend only to confuse the mind and to give the impression that time prophecies are merely clues and serve no definite purpose or object. Hence, I answer most decidedly, I would not recommend or use either of those books to day. Once I was much less careful about what I circulated or commended, but I am learning every day to be more and more careful as to what sort of food I put before any of the Lord’s hungry sheep. The lord has taught me that it is a responsible matter to be a teacher, even to the extent of circulating a book or paper. Even the book, Food for Thinking Christians (now out of print), published and circulated during the year 1881, I no longer commend, because it is less systematic and therefore less clear than later publications.
STILL ANOTHER SIFTING
Another chapter in our experience needs to be told, as it marks another shaking and sifting. Mr. A. D. Jones proposed to start another paper on the same lines as THE WATCH TOWER, to republish some of the simpler features of God’s Plan and to be a sort of missionary and primary teacher. Knowing him to be clear on the subject of the Ransom, I bade him Godspeed and introduced a sample copy of his paper, Zion’s Day Star (now for many years discontinued), to our nearly ten thousand readers, only, as it soon proved, to stumble some of them into rank infidelity, and others into the rejection on the Ransom. For though The Day Star steered a straight course for a few months, and maintained the same position as THE WATCH TOWER with reference to the Ransom, and for the same reason refused the no-ransom articles sent in for its columns by Mr. Paton, yet within one year it had gone boldly into infidelity, and totally repudiated all the rest of the Bible as well as those portions which teach the fall of Adam and the Ransom therefrom in Christ.
All this meant another strain, another sifting, another cutting loose of friends, who erroneously supposed that our criticisms of the false doctrines were prompted by a spirit of rivalry, and who did not so soon see whither his teachings were drifting, nor how the importance of holding fast the first principles of the doctrines of Christ–how Christ died for our sins, and rose for our justification.
These shaking and sifting processes continued to progress, and are not yet over; for all must be thoroughly tried and tested. It is not a question of who may fall, but of “who shall be able to stand?” as the Apostle puts it. And we have need again to remember the Apostolic admonition, “Let him who thinketh he standeth [who feels very confident, as did St. Peter when he said, ‘Lord, though all deny Thee, yet will not I’] take heed lest he fall.”
THE TEST ON ALL CHRISTIANS
This doctrine, of another way of salvation (and salvation for all, too) than the Cross of Christ, is not only the error which since 1874 has been sifting all who came into the light of present Truth, but it is the trial that has come upon the whole of Christendom to try them. (Revelation 3:10.) It has spread among all classes of Christian people, especially among ministers of all sects. The number who believe that Christ’s death provides the Ransom-price for Adamic sin is daily getting smaller; indeed there has been an actual stampede from the doctrine of man’s fall in Adam and his ransom from that fall by “the Man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:5,6.) As the Psalmist prophetically pictured it, a thousand shall fall to one that shall stand.–Psalm 91:7.
The time has come for each one to declare himself boldly. Whosoever is not for the Cross and the ransom there effected, is against it! He that gathereth not, scattereth abroad! Whoever is silent on this subject, when it is being assailed by foes on every hand, whether it be the silence of fear or of shame or of indifference, is not worthy of the Truth, and will surely be one to stumble quickly. Whoever from any cause sits idly by while the banner of the Cross is being assailed, is not a soldier of the Cross worthy of the name, and will not be reckoned among the overcomers who shall inherit all things. And God is permitting these very siftings, in order to sift out all who are not overcomers and to test and manifest the Little Flock, who like Gideon’s band will, though few in number, share the victory and honors of their Captain in glory.
Are you prepared for the issue, dear brethren and sisters? The armor of Truth has ben given you some time past; have you put it on? Have you made it your shield and buckler, your defence, against all the wily arts of the Evil One?
Do not be deceived by the agents whom the Adversary often uses. In this matter he will be as cunning as in his presentation of the misrepresentations of Truth.
Aptly indeed did the Prophet liken this infectious poison to a pestilence. (Psalm 91:6.) A pestilence spread because people are in a physical condition which renders them susceptible to disease. Physicians say that those whose systems are in good, healthy order are in little danger of any disease. In like manner a spiritual pestilence will flourish, not only because all will be exposed to it who have not a clear intellectual appreciation of the doctrines of Christ, but from another cause also. Out of the heart are the issues of life; therefore the most needful of all things to be in right condition is the heart. How is your heart? Is it proud boastful, independent, self-concious, self-willed? If so, take care; you will be very liable to this epidemic, no matter how far from it you may seem to be.
“A heart resigned, submissive, meek,
My great Redeemer’s Throne,
Where only Christ is heard to speak,
Where Jesus reigns alone.”
With such a heart you are safe. In meekness and lowliness, you will never think of redeeming yourself from the condemnation that you inherited through Adam, by sacrificing present sinful desires, but you will flee to the Cross, where God himself opened the Fountain for sin and uncleanness, present as well as past.
DOTH THIS OFFEND YOU?
We presume that this article will offend some, though it is not designed to offend any. It is written for the defense of the meek against the sophistries of error. “Who shall ascend into the Hill of the Lord [into the Kingdom offered], or who shall stand in His Holy Place? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart [who is diligently fashioning his life after the principles of holiness], who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity [who cultivates no earthly ambition or pride, but patiently waits for the glory to follow the course of present self-sacrifice], nor sworn deceitfully [ignoring or despising his Covenant with God]. He shall receive the blessing of the Lord [the Kingdom glory and joint-heirship with Christ], and righteousness [perfection, full deliverance from present infirmities, etc.] from the God of his salvation.” (Psalm 24:3-5.) “Seek righteousness, seek meekness; it may be ye shall be hid in the Day of the Lord’s anger [this evil day –this day of snares, pitfalls, flying arrows and destructive pestilences].” (Zephaniah 2:3.) “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation”–that “your minds be not corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” Let all the meek fully awake to the trial of the hour. And while many are putting stumbling-blocks in the way of the “feet” of the Body of Christ, let each soldier of the Cross be vigilant, not only to stand, but to assist others to stand bearing up the “feet”–Psalm 91:11,12.