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THE YEAR 1881
This year would be indeed a notable one, if the predictions and expectations of all men could be realized. “Second adventists,” whose applications of the prophetic periods (The “2300 days,” the “1335 days” and the “1260 days,”) have all run out, and who because they are looking for Jesus to again become a man and appear to them in the flesh, cannot discern that he is now present a spiritual being. They have not “the eyes of their understanding” opened, else they could realize that those prophetic periods were fulfilled and the “harvest” of the age has come–“the day of the Lord.”
With only a little spiritual discernment they might see the harvest work in progress–the ripened grains of wheat being separated from the “Babylon” mixture. But they see not: they, as well as the church in general stand in the same relation to the second advent that the nominal Jewish church did to the first advent. Jesus was then present, but they could not believe it–“they knew not the time of their visitation.” Only “Israelites indeed in whom was no guile,” then received him and believed on him, and the others “stumbled”–Thus the separating of that harvest was accomplished.
And now, how fully we seem to have the parallel here. This movement based upon the statements of the prophets, claims that the Lord is present– that those prophetic periods did not fail of fulfillment, and some of the best and holiest people of all denominations are coming to a realization of these truths.
They find spiritual food for which they have long been hungering; they come to the enjoyment of the liberty wherein we stand and rejoice, knowing no name but that of our Bridegroom, and recognizing each other only by the spirit of Christ; needing not the shackles of creeds to unite, since the only bonds of union are the bonds of love and of the Spirit.
Yes, the sifting work goes on, and serves to prove every man, whether he loves truth and liberty, or error and bondage; let each one take his choice. The bondage is the most honorable and brings the approval of the highly respected among men, while to step out, brings much the same results as at the first advent. Then the frown and displeasure of the Chief Priests and Pharisees–the church– came upon all who received the words of the Master, and their names were cast out as evil. That was the test by which it was ascertained, who were “Israelites indeed”–so now the same class are being gathered in much the same way.
“The Second Advent Church” people, and many in other denominations, interested in the Lord’s coming and expecting him in the flesh, have turned their attention to 1881, and feel confident that they will see Jesus with their natural eyes this year. Their hopes are based partly upon an old rhyme called “Mother Shipton’s prophecy,” which concludes thus:
“The world unto an end will come,
In eighteen hundred and eighty-one.” and partly upon the teachings of “The Great Pyramid” of Egypt, whose “Grand gallery” measures 1881 pyramid inches. This “Grand gallery” is supposed to symbolize the gospel dispensation, and its 1881 inches are supposed to teach that the gospel dispensation will be 1881 years long, and a further reason for belief in 1881, is that so many other people are expecting something. (Not a prophetic period, can be claimed, as they are all past.) Now to us, these things seem a poor and weak foundation for the hopes built upon them. Our belief that the Lord is present, is based on the “more sure word of prophecy” to which Peter said, we would do well to take heed.
The interest felt and expressed relative to this year by most of those
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interested in the Lord’s coming, and the fact that we expect SOMETHING, has perhaps led some people, who do not understand our position, to suppose that we are looking for much the same things as others. We would like to correct this misapprehension once for all, by stating that we do not expect Jesus to come this year, nor any other year, for we believe that all time prophecies (bearing upon Jesus’ coming) ended at and before the fall of 1874, and that He came there, and the second advent is now in progress and will continue during the entire Millennial age. We believe that his presence will be revealed to the eyes of men’s understandings gradually, during this “Day of the Lord,” (forty years–from 1874 to 1914,) as it now is to ours; except that we, discern it through the word of prophecy revealed by the Spirit, and they will recognize his presence by His judgments upon Nominal Zion, and the World–for the Father “hath committed all judgment unto the Son.”
The WATCH TOWER never claimed that the body of Christ will be changed to spiritual beings during this year. There is such a change due sometime. We have not attempted to say when, but have repeatedly said that it could not take place before the fall of 1881.
Now let us state briefly what we do expect in the fall of this year and why. We find that the entire Jewish age was a prophetic “shadow” of this Gospel Age in every respect: Its Israel and his twelve sons, a shadow of the true Israel of God (Jesus) and his twelve disciples; their sacrifices, typical of the “better sacrifices” for sin, offered during this age; the length of their age the same as ours; the end of their age “a harvest” the same as ours: Jesus present as the Reaper in their harvest as in ours. The unexpected manner of his coming caused him to be “a stone of stumbling” to the nominal church there, and it is proving the same here: He is to be “a stone of stumbling and rock of offense to both the houses of Israel.” `Is. 8:14`. (The nominal house of servants, of which Moses was the head, and the nominal house of sons, of which Christ is the head. `Heb. 3:5-6`). The harvest of the Jewish house was of two parts, viz: Seven years of favor to the church, and thirty-three years of wrath and trouble upon the then rejected and desolate one, from which the wheat was gathered. These parallels being prophetic and in harmony with the prophecies already fulfilled, give reason for believing that the harvest to this age which began in 1874, will be like the shadow, viz: Seven years of favor to the church, to be followed by thirty-three years of falling and destruction upon the “Babylon” company which will completely separate all grains of wheat from tares.
The seven years of favor to the church, commencing with 1874, will end in 1881–about the 2nd of October. Now what special favor did the church enjoy during these seven years? We can get an answer best by looking at the prophetic shadow– What favor did fleshly Israel enjoy during the seventieth week? Jesus was present–“He came to his own, and his own received him not”–yet it was a favor to have the offer, even though the nominal church rejected him. This special part of the work, offering himself to the nominal house, lasted three and one-half years (until five days before his death) when He addressed them, saying, “How often would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her brood under her wings, but ye would not: Behold your house (the nominal church) is left unto you desolate.” (`Matt. 23:38`.) Yet for the remainder of their covenant week (three and one-half years) he showed them favor. It was not in the same way–it was no longer an appeal to the nominal house “left desolate,” but to the pure and true individuals in that house to come out of it. (The preaching of the gospel by apostles was confined to Jews, for three and one-half years after Pentecost). The gospel call was to come out on the Lord’s side, separate from Judaism, and “stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free.”
Now what would be the parallel, or meaning of this prophetic “shadow” here? We answer that during the three and one-half years from 1874 the proclamation of Jesus, the present Bridegroom was made to the church as a whole, that the spirit addressed nominal Zion as a whole, saying: “I counsel thee buy of me gold tried in the fire, and white raiment,…as many as I love I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore and repent. Behold I stand at the door and knock.” (`Rev. 3:18`).
But they heeded not his presence and call, as the “shadow” showed they would not, (the “Doctors of Divinity” mostly opposing it, as the “Doctors of the Law” had done in the “shadow”). After three and one-half years (in 1878) he rejected or left desolate the nominal church here, as he had done in the “shadow,” saying, “Because thou are neither cold nor hot I will spew thee out of my mouth.” (`Rev. 3:16`). The Jewish church was God’s mouthpiece until “left desolate,” but from that time forward God’s truth came through another channel. So here the gospel church has been God’s recognized channel of truth, or mouthpiece, but are such, we believe, no longer. Truth will now come through other channels.
Since 1878 (and never before that) we have felt at liberty to call God’s children out of the nominal churches to a position of freedom and liberty, where they would be free to serve Him fully, as well as to study his word and be taught of Him: saying, “Babylon… is fallen and become the habitation of devils and a hold of every foul spirit and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” (This falling of the nominal church and receiving into her bosom the corruptions of earth has been in process for some time). Now comes the message: “And I heard another voice saying, Come out of her my people that ye be not partakers of her sins and receive not of her plagues.” (`Rev. 18:2-4`). The favor of the present (and which we believe will end in October, 1881) is not to the nominal church but to individuals in her, that they may come out and receive the present Lord. He says: “If any man (not church) hear my voice, and open the door I will come in to him and will sup with him and he with me.” (`Rev. 3:20`).
We have no desire to dogmatize nor to keep any one out, but we believe (and therefore speak) that the favor which ends this fall, is that of entering the Bride company. We believe the door of favor is now open and any who consecrate all and give up all, can come in to the wedding and become members of the Bride, but that with this year the company will be reckoned complete and the door to that high calling (not the door of mercy) closed forever.
In one of His parables pointing to the end of this age Jesus says, “The Bridegroom came and they that were ready, went in with him to the marriage and the door was shut.” (`Matt. 25:10`). Our understanding of this is, that the Bridegroom came in 1874 and since then the ready (consecrated) ones have been going into a condition of light with reference to his presence, and preparation for marriage, and that this fall, the door of opportunity to join this company will close.
Another of Jesus’ discourses seems to bear upon this point–He said: (`Luke 13:24`) “Strive to enter in at the straight gate; for many I say unto you will seek to enter in, and will not be able, when once the Master of the house (church) is risen up and hath shut to the door (to the “Narrow way”–see supplement tract No. 5), and ye begin to stand without and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; (Let us also become a part of your Bride.) And he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not, whence ye are.” (I do not recognize you as the ones I promised to make my Bride–she has come in).
What may be the outward indication that the door is shut, we know not, but will expect to see some evidence of it.
Now, it was on the strength of this prophetic “shadow” which shows that the “door” would not close until this fall, that we said, the living would not be changed before that time. As to when our change is due we can only say: To our understanding it will be due at any time after October 2nd, 1881, but we know of no scriptural evidence as to what time we will be changed from natural to spiritual, from mortal to immortal. We have the testimony that we shall “execute the judgments written” (seven last plagues) and we expect our change before those last plagues begin. We should be glad to go sooner if it were the Bridegroom’s will, but we will be equally glad to remain here in earthly conditions if it is His will.
Our expectations then, relative to this year, are very different from those of others interested in it. As to “Mother Shipton’s prophecy” we of course give no heed to such “old wives’ fables.” But the teachings of
THE GREAT PYRAMID
are quite different. We have great respect for it, though we do not build our faith upon it. It has well been called “A Miracle in Stone,” and it commends itself to us as a work of God, and not planned by men, for it seems in every respect to be in perfect accord with God’s plan as we are finding it written in His Word; and this it is, that causes our respect for it.
It has an entrance passage downward to a pit representing the “broad road to destruction.” From this a passage starts upward–representing the Law dispensation. This in due time enlarges and becomes a “grand gallery,” seven times as high, still leading upward, representing the Gospel Age. Thirty-three inches from the beginning of the grand gallery
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is a well, representing the death and resurrection of Jesus. From this well there is another downward passageway which connects with the entrance passage near the pit, and seems to teach the restoration of all men from the “horrible pit” of death, through and on account of Jesus’ death.
The “grand gallery” measures 1874 inches long at the top, 1878 inches long at a groove cut in its sides about midway between bottom and top and 1881 inches, at the bottom. (The upper end wall impends or slants forward).
Now notice how aptly these three distinct dates (1874, 1878, 1881,) are marked by the pyramid, in ending the grand gallery, and see how ably it supports the teaching of the Bible, viz: that the gospel favors and privileges have been ending during these seven years–and will entirely cease this year.
Two other ways, in which the Pyramid corroborates scripture, are these: At the top of the “grand gallery”– just where it measures 1874 inches, there is an opening or passage-way which seems to say, something might go out or come in here. For some time we thought this might represent the “change,” or catching away of the church as spiritual beings; but it would have been due in 1874 and no translation took place; then it must mean something else. It seems very plain and clear to us now that that opening can mean nothing else than what the Prophets have taught us, viz: that there the Bridegroom came a spiritual being. It fits, as all the other parts of that wonderful structure fit and harmonize with the Word.
Secondly, we are claiming that our Lord’s presence here, is to be to many in the nominal church “a stone of stumbling,” and this too finds its illustration in the Pyramid, for at the upper end of the “Grand gallery” a huge block of stone juts out into the pathway and further progress becomes impossible, unless the traveler climbs with difficulty to its level. So we find it; many are stumbling, and the progress of all seems to depend on their recognizing the present one.
IF I WERE SURE
There seems to be a disposition on the part of some to say–now if you could only assure me positively that we will be changed this fall, I should be willing to endure anything: I could then take up any cross, deny myself, and do God’s will only.
Now dear brother, sister, this is not the right way; it is not the correct thought: God called you to the “high calling” on condition, not that you would do his will and not your own, for a few months only, but for all eternity. And this you promised to do, did you not? Well, if so, what right have you to any will in the matter? Should you not the rather say, “Not my will, but thine be done?” His will regarding our present life and its circumstances–its joys and its sorrows and its labors; and His will as to the time the present kind of labor in His service shall give place to the more perfect service, when we shall be “changed” into likeness of Him who is the express image of the Father’s person.
The Lord’s grace (favor) he says, “is sufficient” for us and we should ask no more. It has proved sufficient in the past and we trust Him for the future. He gives his favor–gives us strength by showing us more and more of his plan and our part in it, etc., and how much in this way we have enjoyed during the past three years, especially our daily feasting on the heavenly food. I trust we all feel stronger spiritually than ever before. If any do not, let them fear that they are not walking up to the light, in the full consecration of their all.
But does some one say: I would consecrate all–my means, my time, my talents, and my reputation, if I knew surely that I would get the prize; but I fear to lose my little stock of earthly treasure and perhaps not be accounted worthy of a place in the Bride company? To such we say, “Oh thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” (Will keep his promise.) `1 Thes. 5:24`. We are absolutely sure of obtaining what God, who cannot lie, hath promised, if we do sacrifice all. The very object of the present age is to develop from among others those who will–
“Trust in His unchanging grace.”
If you think the prize too dear– not worth your little all, don’t exchange; but if you see it to be worth a million times what you are asked to give for it, sell “all that you have and purchase it.” If our understanding of the matter be correct, the opportunity for making this exchange which is so favorable to us, will end with this fall.
Those who do not exchange, will soon have reason to regret it, as they will find their all melting from their grasp during the time of trouble. Those who come knocking afterward, desiring admittance would apparently be glad then to give all for an opportunity to enter, but it will be too late “when once the Master…hath shut to the door.” `Luke 13:25`.
Just what we should look for from October 1881 onward we can scarcely say, but expect that as these seven years of the harvest (which altogether is forty years) have been a time of favor to the church, the succeeding years will show a lack of favor, and that consequently the nominal church will rapidly fall to pieces, and as a consequence, many who have heard of these things but dared not brave the frown of a popular and flourishing church organization, will then be set free and begin to knock and inquire. But while we shall be glad to greet them and to help them in every way in our power, we believe that they will not be recognized of the Lord as a part of the Bride. It is not for us to judge, however; we understand this to be the teaching of His word, but will wait for him to tell them that they are a part of the “great company” and not of the “little flock” to whom “it is the Father’s good pleasure to give…the kingdom.”
In different churches there are dear saints of God–consecrated to Him– sanctified yet ignorant of his presence, the harvest, etc. They are out of harmony with the spirit of the world, and the money influence which rules the church, but do not yet hear the voice of the Lord saying, “Come out of her my people that ye be not partakers of her sins and receive not of her plagues.” Such will, we believe, be brought to recognize the Lord’s presence, and that the “harvest” or separating time has come, before the door closes and it will test their consecration, and all who are fully consecrated will follow the voice of the Shepherd and come out.
To those who are seeking to sacrifice all, we would suggest that the spreading of this light and these truths which God has given us, is the important work of these times. When God gives light it is not to be put under a bushel–not to be hid in your own heart for fear, or for any other cause; it is given you that you may let it shine. Now, “pray ye the Lord of the harvest that he will send forth laborers into his harvest”–pray him to send you to tell the glad and cheering tidings to others of his dear ones who as yet know it not. Then realizing that he heareth us and is willing to let us do our little part with him, go forward day by day doing with your might what your hand finds to do, and you will doubtless find your prayer richly and abundantly answered.
Thus while looking forward to the future glory, you will also enjoy present privileges of suffering and self-denial as a member of His body, for other fellow members. O, how much work there is in this direction, how much opportunity for all who will lay aside all unnecessary earthly hindrances.
— May, 1881 —