EARTH'S NIGHT OF SIN TO TERMINATE
IN A MORNING OF JOY
A Night of Weeping and a Morning of Joy--Two Methods
of Seeking Truth--The Method Herein Pursued--Scope of the Work--A
Difference Between the Reverent Study of the Scriptures and
the Dangerous Habit of Speculation--The Object of Prophecy--The
Present Religious Condition of the World Viewed from Two Standpoints
--Egyptian Darkness--A Bow of Promise--The Path of the Just
Progressive--Cause of the Great Apostasy--The Reformation--The
Same Cause Again Hinders Real Progress--Perfection of Knowledge
Not a Thing of the Past, but of the Future.
TITLE of this series of Studies--"The Divine Plan of the
Ages," suggests a progression in the Divine arrangement,
foreknown to our God and orderly. We believe the teachings of
Divine revelation can be seen to be both beautiful and harmonious
from this standpoint and from no other. The period in which
sin is permitted has been a dark night to humanity, never to
be forgotten; but the glorious day of righteousness and divine
favor, to be ushered in by Messiah, who, as the Sun of Righteousness,
shall arise and shine fully and clearly into and upon all, bringing
healing and blessing, will more than counterbalance the dreadful
night of weeping, sighing, pain, sickness and death, in which
the groaning creation has been so long. "Weeping
may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the MORNING."
though by instinct, the whole creation, while it groans and
travails in pain, waits for, longs for and hopes for the DAY,
calling it the Golden Age; yet men grope blindly, because not
aware of the great Jehovah's gracious purposes. But their highest
conceptions of such an age fall far short of what the reality
will be. The great Creator is preparing a "feast of fat
things," which will astound his creatures, and be exceedingly,
abundantly beyond what they could reasonably ask or expect.
And to his wondering creatures, looking at the length and breadth,
the height and depth of the love of God, surpassing all expectation,
he explains: "My thoughts are not
your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord;
for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways
higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
in this work we shall endeavor, and we trust with success, to
set before the interested and unbiased reader the plan of God
as it relates to and explains the past, the present and the
future of his dealings, in a way more harmonious, beautiful
and reasonable than is generally understood, yet that this is
the result of extraordinary wisdom or ability on the part of
the writer is positively disclaimed. It is the light from the
Sun of Righteousness in this dawning of the Millennial Day that
reveals these things as "present truth," now due to
be appreciated by the sincere--the pure in heart.
skepticism is rife, the very foundation of true religion, and
the foundation of truth, is questioned often, even by the sincere.
We have endeavored to uncover enough of the foundation upon
which all faith should be built--the Word of God--to give confidence
and assurance in its testimony, even to the unbeliever. And
we have endeavored to do this in a manner that will appeal to
and can be accepted by reason as a foundation. Then we have
endeavored to build upon that foundation the teachings of Scripture,
a manner that, so far as possible, purely human judgment may
try its squares and angles by the most exacting rules of justice
which it can command.
Believing that the Scriptures reveal a consistent and harmonious plan,
which, when seen, must commend itself to every sanctified conscience,
this work is published in the hope of assisting students of
the Word of God, by suggesting lines of thought which harmonize
with each other and with the inspired Word. Those who recognize
the Bible as the revelation of God's plan--and such we specially
address --will doubtless agree that, if inspired of God, its
teachings must, when taken as a whole, reveal a plan harmonious
and consistent with itself, and with the character of its Divine
Author. Our object as truth-seekers should be to obtain the
complete, harmonious whole of God's revealed plan; and this,
as God's children, we have reason to expect, since it is promised
that the spirit of truth shall guide us into all truth. John
As inquirers, we have two methods open to us. One is to seek among all
the views suggested by the various sects of the church, and
to take from each that element which we might consider truth--an
endless task. A difficulty which we should meet by this method
would be, that if our judgment were warped and twisted, or our
prejudices bent in any direction --and whose are not?--these
difficulties would prevent our correct selection, and we might
choose the error and reject the truth. Again, if we should adopt
this as our method we should lose much, because the truth is
progressive, shining more and more unto the perfect day, to
those who search for it and walk in the light of it, while the
various creeds of the various sects are fixed and stationary,
and were made so centuries ago. And each of them must contain
a large proportion of error, since each in some important respects
contradicts the others. This method would lead
a labyrinth of bewilderment and confusion. The other method
is to divest our minds of all prejudice, and to remember that
none can know more about the plans of God than he has revealed
in his Word, and that it was given to the meek and lowly of
heart; and, as such, earnestly and sincerely seeking its guidance
and instruction only, we shall by its great Author be guided
to an understanding of it, as it becomes due to be understood,
by making use of the various helps divinely provided. See Eph.
As an aid to this class of students, this work is specially designed.
It will be noticed that its references are to Scripture only,
except where secular history may be called in to prove the fulfilment
of Scripture statements. The testimony of modern theologians
has been given no weight, and that of the so-called Early Fathers
has been omitted. Many of them have testified in harmony with
thoughts herein expressed, but we believe it to be a common
failing of the present and all times for men to believe certain
doctrines because others did so, in whom they had confidence.
This is manifestly a fruitful cause of error, for many good
people have believed and taught error in all good conscience.
(Acts 26:9) Truth-seekers should empty their vessels of the
muddy waters of tradition and fill them at the fountain of truth--God's
Word. And no religious teaching should have weight except as
it guides the truth-seeker to that fountain.
even a general and hasty examination of the whole Bible and
its teaching, this work is too small; but, recognizing the haste
of our day, we have endeavored to be as brief as the importance
of the subjects seemed to permit.
the interested student we would suggest that it will be useless
for him merely to skim over this work, and hope to obtain the
force and harmony of the plan suggested, and the Scripture evidences
herein presented. We have endeavored throughout to present the
various fragments of truth, <PAGE 13> not only in such language, but also in such order,
as would best enable all classes of readers to grasp the subject
and general plan clearly. While thorough and orderly study is
necessary to the appreciation of any of the sciences, it is
specially so in the science of Divine revelation. And in this
work it is doubly necessary, from the fact that in addition
to its being a treatise on divinely revealed truths, it is an
examination of the subject from, so far as we know, an altogether
different standpoint from that of any other work. We have no
apology to offer for treating many subjects usually neglected
by Christians--among others, the coming of our Lord, and the
prophecies and symbolism of the Old and New Testaments. No system
of theology should be presented, or accepted, which overlooks
or omits the most prominent features of Scripture teaching.
We trust, however, that a wide distinction will be recognized
between the earnest, sober and reverent study of prophecy and
other scriptures, in the light of accomplished historic facts,
to obtain conclusions which sanctified common sense can approve,
and a too common practice of general speculation, which, when
applied to divine prophecy, is too apt to give loose rein to
wild theory and vague fancy. Those who fall into this dangerous
habit generally develop into prophets (?) instead of prophetic
No work is more noble and ennobling than the reverent study of the revealed
purposes of God--"which things the angels desire to look
into." (1 Pet. 1:12) The fact that God's wisdom provided
prophecies of the future, as well as statements regarding the
present and the past, is of itself a reproof by Jehovah of the
foolishness of some of his children, who have excused their
ignorance and neglect of the study of His Word by saying: "There
is enough in the fifth chapter of Matthew to save any man."
Nor should we suppose that prophecy was given merely to satisfy
curiosity concerning <PAGE
the future. Its object evidently
is to make the consecrated child of God acquainted with his
Father's plans, thus to enlist his interest and sympathy in
the same plans, and to enable him to regard both the present
and the future from God's standpoint. When thus interested in
the Lord's work, he may serve with the spirit and with the understanding
also; not as a servant merely, but as a child and heir. Revealing
to such what shall be, counteracts the influence of what now
is. The effect of careful study cannot be otherwise than strengthening
to faith and stimulating to holiness.
ignorance of God's plan for the recovery of the world from sin
and its consequences, and under the false idea that the nominal
church, in its present condition, is the sole agency for its
accomplishment, the condition of the world today, after the
Gospel has been preached for nearly nineteen centuries, is such
as to awaken serious doubts in every thoughtful mind so misinformed.
And such doubts are not easily surmounted with anything short
of the truth. In fact, to every thoughtful observer, one of
two things must be apparent: either the church has made a great
mistake in supposing that in the present age, and in her present
condition, her office has been to convert the world, or else
God's plan has been a miserable failure. Which horn of the dilemma
shall we accept? Many have accepted, and many more doubtless
will accept, the latter, and swell the ranks of infidelity,
either covertly or openly. To assist such as are honestly falling
thus, is one of the objects of this volume.
page sixteen we present a diagram,
published by the "London Missionary Society," and
afterward in the United States by the "Women's Presbyterian
Board of Missions." It is termed "A Mute Appeal on
Behalf of Foreign Missions." It tells a sad tale of darkness
and ignorance of the only name given under heaven, or among
men, whereby we must be saved.
journal of Chicago-- published this same diagram, and commenting
on it said:
ideas of some are very misty and indefinite in regard to the
world's spiritual condition. We hear of glorious revival work
at home and abroad, of fresh missionary efforts in various directions,
of one country after another opening to the gospel, and of large
sums being devoted to its spread: and we get the idea that adequate
efforts are being made for the evangelization of the nations
of the earth. It is estimated today that the world's population
is 1,424,000,000, and by studying the diagram we will see that
considerably more than one-half--nearly two-thirds-- are still
totally heathen, and the remainder are mostly either
followers of Mohammed or members of those great apostate churches
whose religion is practically a Christianized idolatry, and
who can scarcely be said to hold or teach the gospel of Christ.
Even as to the 116 millions of nominal Protestants, we must
remember how large a proportion in Germany, England and this
country have lapsed into infidelity --a darkness deeper, if
possible, than even that of heathenism--and how many are blinded
by superstition, or buried in extreme ignorance; so that while
eight millions of Jews still reject Jesus of Nazareth, and while
more than 300 millions who bear his name have apostatized from
his faith, 170 millions more bow before Mohammed, and the vast
remainder of mankind are to this day worshipers of stocks and
stones, of their own ancestors, of dead heroes or of the devil
himself; all in one way or other worshiping and serving the
creature instead of the Creator, who is God over all, blessed
forever. Is there not enough here to sadden the heart of thoughtful
this is a sad picture. And though the diagram represents shades
of difference between Heathens, Mohammedans and Jews, all are
alike in total ignorance of Christ. Some might at first suppose
that this view with reference to the proportion of Christians
is too dark and rather overdrawn, but we think the reverse of
this. It shows nominal Christianity in the brightest colors
possible. For instance,
Exhibiting the Actual and Relative Numbers of
Mankind Classified According to Religion
Mankind Classified According
116,000,000 put down as Protestant is far in excess of the true
number. Sixteen millions would, we believe, more nearly express
the number of professing church members of adult years,
and one million would, we fear, be far too liberal an estimate
of the "little flock," the "sanctified in Christ
Jesus," who "walk not after the flesh, but after the
Spirit." It should be borne in mind that a large proportion
of church members, always numbered in the reckoning, are young
children and infants. Specially is this the case in the countries
of Europe. In many of these, children are reckoned church members
from earliest infancy.
dark as this picture appears, it is not the darkest picture
that fallen humanity presents. The above cut represents only
the present living generations. When we consider the fact that
century after century of the six thousand years past has swept
away other vast multitudes, nearly all of whom were enveloped
in the same ignorance and sin, how dark is the scene! Viewed
from the popular standpoint, it is truly an awful picture.
various creeds of today teach that all of these billions of
humanity, ignorant of the only name under heaven by which we
must be saved, are on the straight road to everlasting torment;
and not only so, but that all of those 116,000,000 Protestants,
except the very few saints, are sure of the same fate. No wonder,
then, that those who believe such awful things of Jehovah's
plans and purposes should be zealous in forwarding missionary
enterprises-- the wonder is that they are not frenzied by it.
Really to believe thus, and to appreciate such conclusions,
would rob life of every pleasure, and shroud in gloom every
bright prospect of nature.
show that we have not misstated "Orthodoxy" on the
subject of the fate of the heathen, we quote from the pamphlet--"A
Mute Appeal on Behalf of Foreign Missions" <PAGE 18> --in which the diagram was published. Its concluding sentence is: "Evangelize
the mighty generations abroad-- the one thousand million souls
who are dying in Christless despair at the rate of 100,000 a
though this is the gloomy outlook from the standpoint of human
creeds, the Scriptures present a brighter view, which it is
the purpose of these pages to point out. Instructed by the Word,
we cannot believe that God's great plan of salvation was ever
intended to be, or ever will be, such a failure. It will be
a relief to the perplexed child of God to notice that the Prophet
Isaiah foretells this very condition of things, and its remedy,
saying: "Behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and
gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee,
and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles [heathen] shall come to thy light."
(Isa. 60:2,3) In this prophecy, the gross darkness is lighted
by the bow of promise: "The Gentiles [the nations of earth
in general] shall come to thy light."
only have the continued misery and darkness of the world, and
the slow progress of truth, been a mystery to the Church, but
the world itself has known and felt its condition. Like that
which enveloped Egypt, it has been a darkness that could be
felt. In evidence of this, note the spirit of the following
lines, clipped from a Philadelphia journal. The doubt and gloom,
intensified by the clashing creeds of the various schools, had
not yet been dispelled from the writer's mind by the rays of
divine truth direct from the Word of God:
"Life! great mystery! Who shall say
What need hath God of this poor clay?
Formed by his hand with potent skill--
Mind, matter, soul and stubborn will;
Born but to die: sure destiny--death.
Then where, oh! where this fleeting breath?
Not one of all the countless throng, <PAGE 19>
Who lived and died and suffered long,
Returns to tell the great design--
That future, which is yours and mine.
We plead, O God! for some new ray
Of light for guidance on our way;
Based not on faith, but clearer sight,
Dispelling these dark clouds of night;
This doubt, this dread, this trembling fear;
This thought that mars our blessings here.
This restless mind, with bolder sway,
Rejects the dogmas of the day
Taught by jarring sects and schools,
To fetter reason with their rules.
We seek to know Thee as thou art--
Our place with Thee--and then the part
We play in this stupendous plan,
Creator Infinite, and man.
Lift up this veil obscuring sight;
Command again: 'Let there be light!'
Reveal this secret of Thy throne;
We search in darkness the unknown."
this we reply:
Life's unsealed mystery soon shall say
What joy hath God in this poor clay,
Formed by his hand with potent skill,
Stamped with his image--mind and will;
Born not to die--no, a second birth
Succeeds the sentence--"earth to earth."
For One of all the mighty host,
Who lived and died and suffered most,
Arose, and proved God's great design--
That future, therefore, yours and mine.
His Word discloses this new ray
Of light, for guidance on our way;
Based now on faith, but sure as sight,
Dispelling these dark clouds of night:
The doubt, the dread, the trembling fear,
The thoughts that marred our blessings here. <PAGE 20>
Now, Lord, these minds, whose bolder sway
Rejects the dogmas of today,
Taught by jarring sects and schools,
Fettering reason with their rules,
May seek, and know Thee as Thou art,
Our place with Thee, and then the part
We play in this stupendous plan,
Creator Infinite, and man.
Uplifts the veil, revealing quite
To those who walk in heaven's light
The glorious mystery of His throne
Hidden from ages, now made known.
a blessing is now coming to the world through the unfolding
of the divine purpose and the opening of the divine Word, of
which blessing and revealing this volume we trust is a part.
who will turn away from the mere speculations of men, and devote
time to searching the Scriptures, not excluding reason, which
God invites us to use (Isa. 1:18), will find that a blessed
bow of promise spans the heavens. It is a mistake to suppose
that those without faith, and consequent justification, should
be able to apprehend clearly the truth: it is not for such.
The Psalmist says, "Light [truth] is sown for the righteous."
(Psa. 97:11) For the child of God a
lamp is provided whose light dispels from his pathway much of
the darkness. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light
unto my path." (Psa. 119:105) But
it is only "the path of the just" that "is as
the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect
day." (Prov. 4:18) Actually, there is none just, "none
righteous, no, not one" (Rom. 3:10); the class referred
to is "justified by faith." It is the privilege only
of this class to walk in the pathway that shines more and more--to
see not only the present unfoldings of God's plan, but also
things to come. While it is true that the path of each individual
believer is a shining one, <PAGE 21> yet
the special application of this statement is to the just (justified)
as a class. Patriarchs, prophets, apostles and saints of the
past and present have walked in its increasing light; and the
light will continue to increase beyond the present--"unto
the perfect day." It is one continuous path, and the one
continuous and increasing light is the Divine Record, illuminating
as it becomes due.
"Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous," expecting the
fulfilment of this promise. Many have so little faith that they
do not look for more light, and, because of their unfaithfulness
and unconcern, they are permitted to sit in darkness, when they
might have been walking in the increasing light.
Spirit of God, given to guide the Church into truth, will take
of the things written and show them unto us; but beyond what
is written we need nothing, for the Holy Scriptures are able
to make wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ
Jesus. 2 Tim. 3:15
it is still true that "darkness covers the earth and gross
darkness the people," the world is not always to remain
in this condition. We are assured that "the morning cometh." (Isa.
21:12) As now God causes the natural sun to shine upon the just
and the unjust, so the Sun of Righteousness will, in the Millennial
day, shine for the benefit of all the world, and "bring
to light the hidden things of darkness." (1 Cor. 4:5) It
will dispel the noxious vapors of evil, and bring life, health,
peace and joy.
into the past we find that then the light shone but feebly.
Dim and obscure were the promises of past ages. The promises
made to Abraham and others, and typically represented in the
law and ceremonies of fleshly Israel, were only shadows and
gave but a vague idea of God's wonderful and gracious designs.
As we reach the days of Jesus the light increases. The height
of expectancy, until then, had <PAGE
22> been that God would bring a
deliverer to save Israel from their enemies, and to exalt them
as the chief nation of the earth, in which position of power
and influence God would use them as his agency for blessing
all the families of the earth. The offer given them of heirship
in the kingdom of God was so different, in the conditions demanded,
from what they had expected, and the prospects of the class
being selected ever attaining the greatness promised were, outwardly
and humanly considered, so improbable, that all but the few
were thereby blinded to the message. And their blindness and
hostility to it were naturally increased when, in the process
of God's plan, the due time came for extending the message,
and making the invitation to share in the promised Kingdom applicable
to every creature under heaven who should by the exercise of
faith be reckoned a child of faithful Abraham and an heir of
the promise made to him.
when the gospel which Jesus taught came to be understood after
Pentecost, it was seen by the Church that the blessings for
the world were to be of an enduring character, and that for
the accomplishment of this purpose the Kingdom would be spiritual,
and composed of Israelites indeed, a "little flock"
selected from among both Jews and Gentiles to be exalted to
spiritual nature and power. Hence we read that Jesus brought
life and immortality to light through the gospel. (2 Tim. 1:10)
And since Jesus' day yet more light shines, as he foretold it
would, saying, "I have many things to say unto you, but
ye cannot bear them now: howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth,
is come, he will guide you into all truth...and he will show
you things to come." John 16:12,13
came a time, however, after the apostles fell asleep, when the
majority of the Church began to neglect the lamp, and to look
to human teachers for leading: and the <PAGE
teachers, puffed up with pride,
assumed titles and offices, and began to lord it over God's
heritage. Then by degrees there came into existence a special
class called "the clergy," who regarded themselves,
and were regarded by others, as the proper guides to faith and
practice, aside from the Word of God. Thus in time the great
system of Papacy was developed by an undue respect for the teachings
of fallible men and a neglect of the Word of the infallible
indeed have been the evil results brought about by this neglect
of truth. As all know, both the church and the civilized world
were almost wholly enslaved by that system, and led to worship
the traditions and creeds of men. From this slavery a bold and
blessed strike for liberty and the Bible was made, in what is
known as The Reformation. God raised up bold champions for his
Word, among whom were Luther, Zwingli, Melanchthon, Wycliffe,
Knox and others. These called attention to the fact that Papacy
had laid aside the Bible and substituted the decrees and dogmas
of the church, and pointed out a few of its erroneous teachings
and practices, showing that they were built upon tradition,
contrary to truth, and opposed to God's Word. These reformers
and their adherents were called Protestants, because they protested
against Papacy, and claimed the Word of God as the only correct
rule of faith and practice. Many faithful souls in the days
of the Reformation walked in the light, so far as it was then
shining. But since their day Protestants have made little progress,
because, instead of walking in the light, they have halted around
their favorite leaders, willing to see as much as they saw but
nothing more. They set boundaries to their progress in the way
of truth, hedging in, with the little truth they had, a great
deal of error brought along from the "mother" church.
For the creeds thus formulated many years ago, the majority
of Christians have a superstitious reverence, supposing that
<PAGE 24> no more can be known of God's plans now than was known
by the Reformers.
mistake has been an expensive one; for, aside from the fact
that but few great principles of truth were then recovered from
the rubbish of error, there are special features of truth constantly
becoming due, and of these Christians have been deprived by
their creed fences. To illustrate: It was a truth in Noah's
day, and one which required the faith of all who would walk
in the light then, that a flood was coming, while Adam and others
had known nothing of it. It would not be preaching truth now
to preach a coming flood, but there are other dispensational
truths constantly becoming due, of which, if walking in the
light of the lamp, we shall know; so, if we have all the light
which was due several hundred years ago, and that only, we are
measurably in darkness.
God's Word is a great storehouse of food for hungry pilgrims on the shining
pathway. There is milk for babes, and strong meat for those
more developed (1 Pet. 2:2; Heb. 5:14); and not only so, but
it contains food adapted to the different seasons and conditions;
and Jesus said the faithful servant should bring forth meat
in due season for the household of faith--"things
new and old," from the storehouse. (Luke 12:42; Matt. 13:52)
It would be impossible to bring forth such things from any sectarian
creed or storehouse. We might bring forth some things old and
good from each, but nothing new. The truth contained in the
creeds of the various sects is so covered and mixed with error
that its inherent beauty and real value are not discernible.
The various creeds continually conflict and clash; and as each
claims a Bible basis, the confusion of thought, and evident
discord, are charged to God's Word. This has given rise to the
common proverb: "The Bible is an old fiddle, upon which
any tune can be played."
expressive is this of the infidelity of our times, occasioned
by misrepresentations of God's Word and character by human traditions,
together with the growth of intelligence which will no longer
bow in blind and superstitious reverence to the opinions of
fellowmen, but demands a reason for the hope that is in us.
The faithful student of the Word should be able always to give
a reason for his hope. The Word of God alone is able to make
wise, and is profitable for doctrine, instruction, etc., "that
the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished."
(1 Pet. 3:15; 2 Tim. 3:15-17) Only this one storehouse contains
an exhaustless supply of things both new and old--meat in due
season for the household. Surely no one who believes the Scripture
statement that "the path of the just shineth more and more
unto the perfect day" will claim that the perfect day came
in Luther's time; and if not, we do well that we take heed to
our lamp as unto "a light that shineth in a dark place
UNTIL THE DAY DAWN." 2 Pet. 1:19
is it sufficient that we find ourselves now in the path of light;
we must "walk in the light," continue to make
progress, else the light, which does not stop, will pass on
and leave us in darkness. The difficulty with many is that they
sit down, and do not follow on in the path of light. Take
a concordance and examine the texts under the words sit
and stand, then compare these with those found under
the words walk and run, and you will find a great
contrast: Men "sit in darkness," and with "the
scornful," and stand among the ungodly, but "walk
in the light," and "run for the prize."
Isa. 42:7; Psa. 1:1; Heb. 12:1
of knowledge is not a thing of the past, but of the future--the
very near future, we trust; and until we recognize this fact
we are unprepared to appreciate and expect fresh unfoldings
of our Father's plan. True, we still go back to the words of
the prophets and apostles for all knowledge <PAGE
of the present and the future;
not, however, because they always understood God's plans and
purposes better than we, but because God used them as his mouthpieces
to communicate to us, and to all the Church throughout
the Christian Age, truth relative to his plans, as fast as it
becomes due. This fact is abundantly proven by the apostles.
Paul tells us that God has made known to the Christian Church
the mystery (secret) of his will which he had purposed in himself,
and had never before revealed, though he had it recorded in
dark sayings which could not be understood until due, in order
that the eyes of our understanding should be opened to appreciate
the "high calling" designed exclusively for
believers of the Christian Age. (Eph. 1:9,10,17,18; 3:4-6) This
shows us clearly that neither the prophets nor the angels understood
the meaning of the prophecies uttered. Peter says that when
they inquired anxiously to know their meaning, God told them
that the truths covered up in their prophecies were not for
themselves, but for us of the Christian Age. And he exhorts
the Church to hope for still further grace (favor, blessing)
in this direction --yet more knowledge of God's plans. 1 Pet.
is evident that though Jesus promised that the Church should
be guided into all truth, it was to be a gradual unfolding.
While the Church, in the days of the apostles, was free from
many of the errors which sprang up under and in Papacy, yet
we cannot suppose that the early church saw as deeply or as
clearly into God's plan as it is possible to see today. It is
evident, too, that the different apostles had different degrees
of insight into God's plan, though all their writings
were guided and inspired of God, as truly as were the words
of the prophets. To illustrate differences of knowledge, we
have but to remember the wavering course, for a time, of Peter
and the other apostles, except Paul, when the gospel was beginning
to go to the Gentiles. (Acts 10:28; 11:1-3; <PAGE 27> Gal.
2:11-14) Peter's uncertainty was in marked contrast with Paul's
assurance, inspired by the words of the prophets, God's past
dealings, and the direct revelations made to himself.
evidently had more abundant revelations than any other apostle.
These revelations he was not allowed to make known to the Church,
nor fully and plainly even to the other apostles (2 Cor. 12:4;
Gal. 2:2), yet we can see a value to the entire church in those
visions and revelations given to Paul; for though he was not
permitted to tell what he saw, nor to particularize all he knew
of the mysteries of God relating to the "ages to come,"
yet what he saw gave a force, shading and depth of meaning to
his words which, in the light of subsequent facts, prophetic
fulfilments and the Spirit's guidance, we are able to appreciate
more fully than could the early church.
corroborative of the foregoing statement, we call to mind the
last book of the Bible--Revelation, written about A.D. 96. The
introductory words announce it as a special revelation of things
not previously understood. This proves conclusively that up
to that time, at least, God's plan had not been fully revealed.
Nor has that book ever been, until now, all that its name implies--an
unfolding, a REVELATION. So far as the early church was concerned,
probably none understood any part of the book. Even John, who
saw the visions, was probably ignorant of the significance of
what he saw. He was both a prophet and an apostle; and while
as an apostle he understood and taught what was then "meat
in due season," as a prophet he uttered things which would
supply "meat" in seasons future for the household.
the Christian Age, some of the saints sought to understand the
Church's future by examining this symbolic book, and doubtless
all who read and understood even a part of its teachings were
blessed as promised. (Rev. 1:3) <PAGE 28> The
book kept opening up to such, and in the days of the Reformation
was an important aid to Luther in deciding that the Papacy,
of which he was a conscientious minister, was indeed the "Antichrist"
mentioned by the Apostle, the history of which we now see fills
so large a part of that prophecy.
gradually God opens up his truth and reveals the exceeding riches
of his grace; and consequently much more light is due now than
at any previous time in the Church's history.
"And still new beauties shall we see,
And still increasing light."