THE DIVINE PLAN OF THE AGES
Duty Toward the Truth--Its Cost, Its Value, Its Profit.
THE preceding chapters we have seen that both the light of nature
and that of revelation clearly demonstrate the fact that an intelligent,
wise, almighty and righteous God is the Creator of all things,
and that he is the supreme and rightful Lord of all; that all
things animate and inanimate are subject to his control; and that
the Bible is the revelation of his character and plans so far
as he is pleased to disclose them to men. From it we have learned
that though evil now predominates among some of his creatures,
it exists for only a limited time and to a limited extent, and
by his permission, for wise ends which he has in view. We have
also learned that though darkness now covers the earth, and gross
darkness the people, yet God's light will in due time dispel all
the darkness, and the whole earth will be filled with his glory.
We have seen
that his great plan is one that has required ages for its accomplishment
thus far, and that yet another age will be required to complete
it; and that during all the dark ages of the past, when God seemed
to have almost forgotten his creatures, his plan for their future
blessing has been silently but grandly working out, though during
all those ages the mysteries of his plan have been wisely hidden
from men. We have also seen that the day or age which is now about
to dawn upon the world is to be the day of the world's judgment
or trial, and that all previous preparation <PAGE
344> has been for the purpose of giving mankind
in general as favorable an opportunity as possible, when, as
individuals, they will be placed on trial for eternal life.
The long period of six thousand years has greatly multiplied the
race, and their buffetings and sufferings under the dominion of
evil have given them an experience which will be greatly to their
advantage when they are brought to judgment. And though the race
as a whole has been permitted thus to suffer for six thousand
years, yet as individuals they have run their course in a few
have seen that while the race was undergoing this necessary discipline,
in due time God sent his Son to redeem them; and that while the
mass of mankind did not recognize the Redeemer in his humiliation,
and would not believe that the Lord's Anointed would thus
come to their rescue, yet from among those whose hearts were toward
God, and who believed his promises, God has been, during these
ages past, selecting two companies to receive the honors of his
kingdom--the honors of sharing in the execution of the divine
plan. These two select companies, we have seen, are to constitute
the two phases of the Kingdom of God. And from the prophets we
learn that this kingdom is soon to be established in the earth;
that under its wise and just administration all the families of
the earth will be blessed with a most favorable opportunity to
prove themselves worthy of everlasting life; that as the result
of their redemption by the precious blood of Christ, a grand highway
of holiness will be cast up; that the ransomed of the Lord (all
mankind-- Heb. 2:9) may walk in it; that it will be a public thoroughfare
made comparatively easy for all who earnestly desire to become
pure, holy; and that all the stumbling-stones will be gathered
out, and all the snares, allurements and pitfalls removed, and
blessed will all those be who go up thereon to perfection and
is manifest that this judgment, or rulership, cannot begin until
Christ, whom Jehovah hath appointed to be the Judge or Ruler of
the world, has come again--not again in humiliation, but in power
and great glory: not again to redeem the world, but to judge [rule]
the world in righteousness. A trial can in no case proceed until
the judge is on the bench and the court is in session at the appointed
time, though before that time there may be a great preparatory
work. Then shall the King sit upon the throne of his glory, and
before him shall be gathered all nations, and he shall judge them
during that age by their works, opening to them the books of the
Scriptures and filling the earth with the knowledge of the Lord.
And by their conduct under all that favor and assistance, he shall
decide who of them are worthy of life everlasting in the ages
of glory and joy to follow. Matt. 25:31; Rev. 20:11-13
Thus we have
seen that the second advent of Messiah, to set up his kingdom
in the earth, is an event in which all classes of men may have
hope, an event which, when fully understood, will bring joy and
gladness to all hearts. It is the day when the Lord's "little
flock" of consecrated saints has the greatest cause for rejoicing.
It is the glad day when the espoused virgin Church with joy becomes
the Bride, the Lamb's wife; when she comes up out of the wilderness
leaning upon the arm of her Beloved, and enters into his glorious
inheritance. It is the day when the true Church, glorified with
its Head, will be endued with divine authority and power, and
will begin the great work for the world, the result of which will
be the complete restitution of all things. And it will be a glad
day for the world when the great adversary is bound, when the
fetters that have held the race for six thousand years are broken,
and when the knowledge of the Lord fills the whole earth as the
waters cover the sea.
knowledge of these things, and the evidences that they are nigh,
even at the door, should have a powerful influence upon all, but
especially upon the consecrated children of God, who are seeking
the prize of the divine nature. We urge such, while they lift
up their heads and rejoice, knowing that their redemption draweth
nigh, to lay aside every weight and hindrance, and to run patiently
the race in which they have started. Look away from self and its
unavoidable weaknesses and imperfections, knowing that all such
weaknesses are covered fully by the merits of the ransom given
by Christ Jesus our Lord, and that your sacrifices and self-denials
are acceptable to God through our Redeemer and Lord--and thus
only. Let us remember that the strength sufficient which God has
promised us, and by use of which we can be "overcomers,"
is provided in his Word. It is a strength derived from a knowledge
of his character and plans, and of the conditions upon which we
may share in them. Thus Peter expresses it, saying, "Grace
and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge
of God, and of Jesus Christ our Lord, according as his divine
power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and
godliness, through the knowledge of him who hath called
us to glory and virtue; whereby are given unto us exceeding great
and precious promises, that BY THESE ye might be partakers of
the divine nature." 2 Pet. 1:2-4
But to obtain
this knowledge and this strength, which God thus proposes to supply
to each runner for the heavenly prize, will surely test the sincerity
of your consecration vows. You have consecrated all your time,
all your talents, to the Lord; now the question is, How much of
it are you giving? Are you still willing, according to your covenant
of consecration, to give up all?--to give up your own plans and
methods, and the theories of yourselves and others, to accept
of God's plan and way and time of doing his great <PAGE
347> work? Are you willing to do this at the cost
of earthly friendships and social ties? And are you willing to
give up time from other things for the investigation of these
glorious themes so heart-cheering to the truly consecrated, with
the certain knowledge that it will cost you this self-denial?
If all is not consecrated, or if you only half meant it when you
gave all to the Lord, then you will begrudge the time and effort
needful to search his Word as for hid treasure, to obtain thus
the strength needful for all the trials of faith incident to the
present (the dawn of the Millennium) above other times.
think not that the giving will end with the giving of the needful
time and energy to this study: it will not. The sincerity of your
sacrifice of self will be tested in full, and will prove you either
worthy or unworthy of membership in that "little flock,"
the overcoming Church, which will receive the honors of the kingdom.
If you give diligence to the Word of God, and receive its truths
into a good, honest, consecrated heart, it will beget in you such
a love for God and his plan, and such a desire to tell the good
tidings, to preach the gospel, that it will become the all-absorbing
theme of life thereafter; and this will not only separate you
from the world and from many nominal Christians, in spirit,
but it will lead to separation from such entirely. They will think
you peculiar and separate you from their company, and you will
be despised and counted a fool for Christ's sake; because they
know us not, even as they knew not the Lord. 2 Cor. 4:8-10; Luke
6:22; 1 John 3:1; 1 Cor. 3:18
you willing to follow on to know the Lord through evil and through
good report? Are you willing to forsake all, to follow as he may
lead you by his Word?--to ignore the wishes of friends, as well
as your own desires? It is hoped that many of the consecrated
who read this volume may by <PAGE
348> it be so quickened to fresh zeal and fervency
of spirit, through a clearer apprehension of the divine plan,
that they will be able to say, "By the grace of God, I will
follow on to know and to serve the Lord, whatever may be the sacrifice
involved." Like the noble Bereans (Acts 17:11), let such
studiously set themselves to prove what has been presented in
the foregoing pages. Prove it, not by the conflicting traditions
and creeds of men, but by the only correct and divinely authorized
standard--God's own Word. It is to facilitate such investigation
that we have cited so many scriptures.
It will be
useless to attempt to harmonize the divine plan herein set forth
with many of the ideas previously held and supposed to be Scriptural,
yet not proved so. It will be observed that the divine plan is
complete and harmonious with itself in every part, and that it
is in perfect harmony with the character which the Scriptures
ascribe to its great Author. It is a marvelous display of wisdom,
justice, love and power. It carries with it its own evidence of
superhuman design, being beyond the power of human invention,
and almost beyond the power of human comprehension.
questions will arise on various points inquiring for solution
according to the plan herein presented. Careful, thoughtful Bible
study will settle many of these at once; and to all we can confidently
say, No question which you can raise need go without a sufficient
answer, fully in harmony with the views herein presented. Succeeding
volumes elaborate the various branches of this one plan, disclosing
at every step that matchless harmony of which the truth
alone can boast. And be it known that no other system of theology
even claims, or has ever attempted, to harmonize in itself every
statement of the Bible; yet nothing short of this we can claim
for these views. This harmony not only with the Bible, but with
the divine character and with sanctified <PAGE
349> common sense, must have arrested the attention
of the conscientious reader already, and filled him with awe,
as well as with hope and confidence. It is marvelous indeed, yet
just what we should expect of the TRUTH, and of God's infinitely
wise and beneficent plan.
while the Bible is thus opening up from this standpoint, and disclosing
wondrous things (Psa. 119:18), the light of the present day upon
the various creeds and traditions of men is affecting them in
an opposite manner. They are being recognized even by their worshipers
as imperfect and deformed, and hence they are being measurably
ignored; and though still subscribed to, they are seldom elaborated,
for very shame. And the shame attaching to these human creeds
and traditions is spreading to the Bible, which is supposed to
uphold these deformities of thought as of divine origin. Hence
the freedom with which the various advanced thinkers, so-called,
are beginning to deny various parts of the Bible not congenial
to their views. How striking, then, the providence of God, which
at this very time opens before his children this truly glorious
and harmonious plan--a plan that rejects not one, but harmonizes
every part and item of his Word. Truth, when due, becomes meat
for the household of faith, that they may grow thereby. (Matt.
24:45) Whoever comes in contact with truth, realizing its character,
has thereby a responsibility with reference to it. It must be
either received and acted upon, or rejected and despised. To ignore
it does not release from responsibility. If we accept it ourselves,
we have a responsibility TOWARD IT also, because it is for ALL
the household of faith; and each one receiving it becomes its
debtor, and, if a faithful steward, must dispense it to the other
members of the family of God. Let your light shine! If it again
becomes darkness, how great will be the darkness. Lift up the
light! Lift up a standard for the people!
the mystic Weaver sitting
High in heaven--His loom below.
Up and down the treadles go.
Takes, for web, the world's dark ages,
Takes, for woof, the kings and sages.
Takes the nobles and their pages,
Takes all stations and all stages.
Thrones are bobbins in His shuttle.
Armies make them scud and scuttle--
Web into the woof must flow:
Up and down the nations go!
At the Weaver's will they go!
see the mystic Weaver
Throw His shuttle to and fro;
'Mid the noise and wild confusion,
Well the Weaver seems to know
What each motion, and commotion,
What each fusion, and confusion,
In the grand result will show!
wonder! What a weaving!
To the dull, beyond believing.
Such no fabled ages know.
Only faith can see the mystery,
How, along the aisles of history,
Where the feet of sages go,
Loveliest to the fairest eyes,
Grand the mystic tapet lies!
Soft and smooth, and ever spreading,
As if made for angels' treading--
Tufted circles touching ever:
Every figure has its plaidings,
Brighter forms and softer shadings,
Each illumined--what a riddle!
From a cross that gems the middle.
a saying--some reject it--
That its light is all reflected;
That the tapet's lines are given
By a Sun that shines in heaven!
'Tis believed--by all believing--
That great God, Himself, is weaving,
Bringing out the world's dark mystery,
In the light of faith and history;
And, as web and woof diminish,
Comes the grand and glorious finish,
When begin the Golden Ages,
Long foretold by seers and sages."
THE DIVINE PLAN OF THE AGES