Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Russell's Alleged "Disappointment" Over 1878

Before 1878, Russell and Barbour had expressed that the translation of the saints should be expected in the spring of 1878, using parallels to arrive at that date. The event in the first side of the parallel was the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, which was suggested to find its parallel in 1878, and therefore the expectation that in 1878 the living saints would be translated. However, from A.H. MacMillan's statements that he attributed to Russell, Russell, it is possible that that Russell held some reservations that perhaps they were coming to the wrong conclusions about what to expect for 1878; if so, he kept these reservations to himself until after 1878. Regardless, the "disappointment" for Russell was not all that great, whereas, it appears that the disappointment for Barbour was much greater than for Russell. We should note that while Russell retained the basic timeline until his death in 1916, his views concerning what happened on what date later changed, as well as his expectations for 1914. We have added to some of our own remarks in double brackets [[...]]. We have also expanded names of the Bible books, and added Biblical citations (Names of book, chapters and verses of quotations given) that were not given in the original publication. Of course, the seven-year period Russell allots for the harvest in this article proved to be a wrong conclusion, but Russell denied that his expectations should be considered "prophecy." Russell plainly stated that he was not a prophet. Nor did Russell believe himself to be the head of an organization, such at the Jehovah's Witnesses' central authority doctrine.

July 1878 - Vol. 7 - No. 1
When a short time since our expectations of translation failed of realization, doubtless all who understood the foundation upon which those hopes were based felt somewhat disappointed; yet we did not for a moment feel cast down. We realized that what God had so plainly declared must some time have a fulfillment.
We felt that we wanted to have it just in God’s time and way. We have not, and hope we never shall, have any desire to arrange the matter for him, but we are very desirous of having all the light which it pleases Our Father to give upon our pathway, and which he promises will "shine more and more unto the perfect day." (Proverbs 4:18) In other words, it has been, and still is, our aim not to make a pathway for ourselves, but to make use of the "lamp" of revelation ("Thy word is a lamp" -- Psalm 119:105) in walking the pathway which our Father made for us. When, therefore, we were not translated, it was an evidence to us that it was not God’s time for it; and our hearts responded Amen; thy will be done, O God: and we can say with brother Paul, "I know in whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him." (2 Timothy 1:12) And we realized that "All things work together for good to those that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose." -- Romans 8:28.
Was it in looking for translation? No. Men may scoff at the idea, but some day the church will be translated. Whenever it comes it is to be the end of the church’s career. As St. Paul testifies, "Behold I show you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye," etc. (1 Corinthians 15:52) Did the failure to realize translation prove either the object or manner of our lord’s coming, as we have advocated them to be erroneous? By no means. The same Scriptures still teach that Jesus comes to be glorified in his saints – to be united with his church – to exalt her as his bride to the throne, that through the second-Adam and his wife the regeneration of the world may be accomplished, and through them all things be restored which were lost through the first Adam and his wife. (Romans 5:17-19) As "God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." -- Acts 3:21.
We know, too, "The day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night" – stealthily – quietly. (1 Thessalonians 5:2) And Jesus, speaking of his parousia (personal presence) declares that in his parousia men will be eating and buying and marrying, and know not, (Matthew 24:38) as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it also be in the days of the Son of man. The world will go along in his days as ever, and know not. -- Luke 17:26.
Did our disappointment prove that we were in error as to the time – our chronology wrong? The Bible chronology taught us that the 6,000 years from Adam were full in the fall of 1873. Here we believe the 7th thousand – or Sabbath began – chronologically, while other prophetic lines taught us that the blessed age had its beginning in a night of peculiar darkness – a time of trouble of forty years [[1874-1914 -- in 1904, Russell presented the view that the "time of trouble" was to begin -- not end -- 1914]], during which all the kingdoms of the world would be thrown down [[Later Russell, especially after his studies that he disclosed in 1904, believed that the nations would not be immediately overthrown in 1914, but that they would enter into the time of trouble]], and the world prepared for the reign of Christ and his bride, when "a king shall reign in righteousness and princes shall rule in judgment." -- Isaiah 32:1.
Just at the right time 1873, the present financial trouble had a beginning. It began small, but has ever since been increasing and spreading, until now the entire civilized world is affected by it. The world laughed at our predictions, and assured us that six months would see matters all right again; but we are nearly five years into it now, and the cloud is still darker. "Men’s hearts begin to fail them for fear, and for looking after those things coming upon the world." -- Luke 21:26.
This point at least seems clearly marked, and we cannot lay it aside without some good reason. Again, it is so scripturally strong that neither its friends nor enemies are able to overthrow it.
We found various clear prophetic lines of teaching in perfect accord with the chronology. The jubilee, etc., etc. Among the clearest and simplest of these teachings was the one which showed us that the Jewish age was a pattern of the gospel age; that they two would be of equal size and measure; that what they had, priests, holy of holies, tabernacle, etc., foreshadowed ours, the true, etc. (See writings on "Double," "The Two Covenants," etc.) This system of parallels has been of late one of the chief sources of light on our pathway. It taught as that the gospel dispensation would in some sense end this spring, as this was the point of time parallel to the giving up of the Jewish church, when Christ wept over them, gave them up, and left their house desolate. We did not discern, as we now do, that their harvest was a seven years' work, divided into equal parts, and devoted to entirely different kinds of work. During Christ’s ministry of three and a-half years, John’s statement, "His fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor," and its fulfillment. (Matthew 3:12; Luke 3:17) He did a separating work – divided the wheat of that age from its chaff. As he said: "Think not that I am come to send peace, but rather division." (Luke 12:51) "And there was a division among the people concerning him." (John. 7:34.) When the dividing work was accomplished, and before the wheat was gathered, Christ gave up their – Jewish – house at his death, when the vail was rent, and the glory of the Lord departed from their temple; but John also said, "He shall gather the wheat into his garner." (Matthew 3:12; Luke 3:17) When was this accomplished? We had supposed that this gathering was accomplished in the one day of Pentecost, which followed Christ’s ministry; but we now see that while some of the wheat of that age was there gathered into the garner, the gospel dispensation, yet those were not all the wheat. No, the gathering of the wheat required time, and we shall show had three and a-half years allotted to it, making the harvest seven years long. [[Russell later viewed the harvest as being 40 years or longer.]]
The prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27, is the only time prophecy which points to the first advent of Christ. The angel informs Daniel (Daniel 9:24) of a period of time set apart upon Daniel’s people [Jews] and city; and that in this seventy weeks certain things would be accomplished, (v. 24.) The angel then sub-divided these seventy weeks as follows, 7-62-1. The 7 weeks (= 49 years.) (This time is given "a day for a year,") and has been so fulfilled. 1 day = 1 year, 1 week, (7 days) = (7 yrs.) During these 7 weeks = 49 years, the temple was rebuilt upon the return from the Babylonian captivity. The street and wall was to be built (during these seven weeks) even in troublous times. (For description of the trouble in building of it, see "Ezra" and "Nehemiah.") After these seven weeks building, sixty-two weeks = (484 years,) would reach to Messiah, and was fulfilled at the baptism of Christ. When God bore testimony to his son ship, and he was anointed by the descent of the Spirit, and introduced to Israel by John, the sixty-nine weeks reach to this point, and as there were seventy in all set apart to that people, it follows that there was one week or seven years of that time of favor still due to them. Now, with regard to this work, vs. 26 declares Messiah will be cut off (put to death) after the sixty-two weeks, but does not tell us how long after; it being after, however, necessitates its being in their last week – the seventieth. (Leave the remainder of vs. 26 (Daniel 9:26), it is parenthetical, and describes the war by which the Roman army destroyed their city and temple thirty-seven years after.)
Verse 27 (Daniel 9:27) takes up this seventieth or last seven years of God’s favor – 7 and 62 = 69 weeks reach unto Messiah. "And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week, and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease." How does this agree with its fulfillment? Perfectly. Christ, during his three and a-half years ministry showed that people special favor. He neither went himself nor suffered his disciples to go to the Gentiles, etc. This was the first half of their week. Here although he gave them up as a house, yet he continued to show them favor after the establishment of the spiritual house – the gospel; and in the new commission to the apostles, after his resurrection, when telling them to preach the gospel to every nation, he charges them, "beginning at Jerusalem."  (Luke 24:27) Why begin there where he had just been laboring, and had finally given them up? Ah! He was to confirm the covenant one week, and there was three and a-half years still due them; until their seventy weeks of favor were run out, the gospel was not preached to the Gentiles. Cornelius evidently was the first converted Gentile, as Paul declared (Acts 13:46) "It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you," [Jews.] We should not know just how long the gospel favor was confined in this especial sense to them, were it not for this statement of the covenant being confirmed one week.
In the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease. Who caused it to cease? Messiah. How? By becoming himself the true sacrifice. God recognized that bullock, or ram, or lamb as a sacrifice, because it pointed to Christ as the anti-typical "Lamb of God," the true sacrifice which taketh away the sins of the world (John 1:29); but the moment Christ died, all sacrifice ceased. From that time forward the Jews, or any one else, may burn a bullock or lamb, but it is not a sacrifice, for God having provided the true, no longer recognizes or accepts any other.
We find, then, that a work went on among the Jews for three and a-half years after Christ’s ministry. We have seen that the work he did was to separate wheat from chaff, and that "There was a division among the people concerning him," the latter half of their week was devoted to the gathering of that separated wheat "into the garner," the gospel dispensation, and that quite a quantity of wheat must have been in that house when Christ gave it up, etc., is evident, when we learn that 3,000 were converted on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41, and Acts 5:14), and there was added to the church daily such as should be saved – and the entire latter half of their seventieth week was devoted to this gathering of them. Let me illustrate
to the gospel dispensation. Suppose you are a merchant. Your present place of business is old. You are about to remove to a new store across the way. You go through your old premises with your servants, and separate such articles of furniture, etc., as you may consider fit and suitable for the new store. [So Christ and his disciples separated by the "fan" of truth the wheat from the chaff – the wheat being suitable and proper to gather into the barn, the chaff unfit.] When you have all things ready for your new store, you transfer your sign and presence from the old to the new, and the servants bring into the new the previously selected valuables from the old. So when the separating work in that house was complete, the glory of the Lord’s presence was withdrawn from their temple – "the vail rent" – the house left desolate (Matthew 23:38; 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 13:35; 23:45), while that presence was transferred to the new house, the gospel, and God now dwells in the new temple – the gospel church – "Whose temple are ye." (1 Corinthians 3:17) It was into this new garner that the Jewish wheat came in the gathering time, (not chaff converted into wheat,) and among the wheat thus brought in, we recognize "our beloved brother Paul." -- 2 Peter 3:15.
As you would protect your old store until all the valuables were brought into the new, so God continued his favor to them during all the seventieth week, while he removed their wheat. This is a pattern, as all the other features of their dispensation have been, of the end of the gospel age.
Our harvest, like theirs, has two special kinds of work. 1st. A separation between wheat and tares, by the tares being bound in bundles. 2dly. The gathering of the wheat, while the tares are burning. We have all along recognized the separation as the work of the three and a-half years just ended. We realized there would be a complete separation between the true Christians and the tares or hypocrites. We had an idea, however, that this truth with which we are intimately connected, was doing all of this separating. We certainly believe that as a truth it did do some of this work, but we think we can see now that while God has used this as one, yet he has had many other lines of truth doing similar service, but all in one way or another under his guidance, bring about a division of the people, not that we have ever attempted to divide, but as it were, in spite of all we could do to the contrary, a division of classes took place. Now, look around you into every church – of every denomination – What do you see? I see an ever widening gulf separating between two classes – between the merely nominal Christian, who is such because it is essential to respectability in this our day, but who is restive, even under the modified restraint which the church exacts, and desires to bring the church down to the level of a "moral club," composed of the respectable of society, by means of which they may enjoy weekly a moral essay, from which should be excluded all reference to any personal imperfections of its members, or anything which might hurt the self-satisfied feeling of the "club."
The separation, we say, between this class and the ones mentioned in Malachi 3:16-17, they that shall be his "jewels," the saints – the sanctified – those unwilling to bow the knee to mammon, by indulging in Christian lotteries, fairs, etc., thereby to minister to the pride of the eye and heart; who would prefer to see the virgin espoused to Christ await the coming of her Lord clothed in the clean white robe of Christ, separate from the world, than to see her living sumptuously in the world’s embrace, adorned with sham jewels.
That this work has been accomplished in the three and a-half years of the harvest just ended, we thoroughly believe, but as there, so here, there is a "gathering into the barn" to be done, and the pattern teaches us that it will require three and a-half years for this part of the harvest work; but remember this is not setting a time for translation, the translation not being due until all are gathered, and how long after we know not, but presume soon thereafter. But, says one, I thought the gathering "into the barn" was translation.
So we all did, and that was the mistake; we supposed the separation took three and a-half years, and the gathering one moment. We now find that the gathering here, as in the end of the Jewish age, takes three and a-half years; and know that the "gathering into the barn" is not translation, but a work that precedes it. Translation, or the changing of the living, (1 Corinthians 15:51) is the work of the Spirit (Philippians 3:21). "He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken our Mortal bodies by his Spirit which dwelleth in you." (Romans 8:11) "The angels then will not translate us, but they do gather us into the barn." (Matthew 13:30) What, then, is it to be gathered into the barn? It is the reaching of a position of rest and safety, and security, when we have fought the good fight – run the race – finished the course – got the victory. The place or condition in which we wait for the reward.
Paul, and all the saints who have died, reached this position of victory and security at death (2 Timothy 4:7), but with those "who are alive and remain," there will be a time when they shall be counted to have finished their course, and will be gathered into the barn. (1 Thessalonians 5:14,17) The thought is carried out in the figure of the temple, or "house," by St. Paul, Ephesians 1:20-22, where he likens individual Christians to stones being builded together growing into a holy temple for the habitation of God through the Spirit, drawing upon the Jewish temple, the shadow or type. Paul, and every believer in Christ, is a stone in preparation for a place in this great temple, while in the quarry and undergoing the hammering and trimming and polishing, trials, afflictions, etc., which our Father, the great architect, sees to be necessary. We are (now counted, although unfinished, as parts of that great house. "Whose house are ye, if ye hold fast...firm unto the end." (Hebrews 3:6) We are now of the house conditionally, if we are "rightly exercised" by the present trials and afflictions, and allow them to prepare us for a place in this temple. None of these stones are laid in the temple until they are finished. Paul was counted such just when about to die, and "we which are alive" will reach a point when we will be complete, and be placed in position in the temple before translation, just as the type, Solomon’s temple was finished, every stone laid in its place before "The glory of the Lord filled the house (temple) of God." (2 Chronicles 5:13) So, also, must each one of us be fitted, polished, finished and laid, or gathered into this spiritual house before it is filled with the glory of God – "made like unto Christ’s glorious body" – translated.
This placing of living stones is the temple, and "gathering of the wheat into the barn," etc., is the obtaining of the "victory" over the world, the flesh and the devil. And this means nothing short of entire consecration and sanctification of all who will come to this condition. The virgin church of Christ must make herself ready before the marriage. She must be clothed in Christ’s righteousness, and while in this condition waiting for the gathering in of the last grain of wheat, she is brought to our view in Revelation 15:2-4.
Here they are victors; their position is a clear one, as it were a sea of glass; and though mingled with fire (perhaps representing that we are yet in close contact with fire, trouble), yet they are above them, victors, and can sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. And the fact that the song declares "All nations shall come and worship before thee," (Psalm 22:27; Revelation 15:4) would seem to imply that they had all learned of the restitution of all things, and understood the plan of God in the salvation of the world, and how in Abraham’s seed all the kindreds of the earth will be blessed. -- Acts 3:25.
O for this gathering! O for this victory! "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith." (1 John 5:4) But while the wheat is being thus gathered, the
What is this? We have seen that there is a great time of trouble coming upon the world, and that it has already commenced, but has some thirty-seven years future for its entire accomplishment; but while this trouble upon the world is expressed by the figure of fire, yet it must be a different fire from this which burns up the tares, for the tares are not the world. No, "the field is the world," "the tares are the children of the wicked one." They are hypocrites – pretended wheat – "wolves in sheep’s" clothing." (Matthew 7:15) During this three and a-half years we expect Matthew 13:41-42 to be fulfilled.
We therefore anticipate a dreadful burning of tares, and a scorching of all wheat, which has not been separated from them. Just the nature of this disaster is questionable, but we look with present light to a complete overturning by infidelity, atheism, etc., of the nominal church, and that Christianity will become so unpopular that the wolves will become ashamed of their sheeps’ clothing, and that it will become so much of a disgrace to be called a Christian as it has been an honor.
Infidelity is spreading her blighting influence like a pestilence all over the land; and by conversation and reading matter, and by public lectures, by thrusts through the secular press, this dreadful noxious pestilence sweeps over the land. Already it is becoming fashionable for all who make any claims to scientific knowledge, etc., to profess themselves disciples of Darwin, and stoutly deny the credibility of the Bible, while they assure you that no man of brains ever did accept it as the word of God, and exultingly point to the infidelity of all leading statesmen. Such teaching to Christians who have to build with poor materials, and understand God’s word but little, must be disastrous, indeed.
But shall we be here during this time of trouble on the church? Yes; this is the day of burning, which will try every man’s work of what sort it is. Those who have built on the sand will be swept away completely, while those who have built on the rock – Christ, shall be tried severely. (See 1 Cor. 3:12-15.) Those who have built with "Gold, silver, precious stones, are the overcomers, who are unscathed, while those building on the same foundation improperly, suffer great loss – themselves shall be saved so as by fire.
The condition of the overcomers is forcibly shown in Ps. 91. Read it: "O how complete is our refuge; the snares of the ungodly are harmless; their arrows, even bitter words (Ps. 64:3) cannot harm us." While this moral pestilence stalks through the land, and thousands fall at our side, we fall not; we are not smitten. Why, what protection have we? "His truth shall be thy shield." (Verse 4.) "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." "Thy word is truth."
We learn, then, that this company who have God for their refuge have the truth which others have not, and which shields them.
"Thy truth, O Lord, is my refuge and fortress. I will not be afraid in the evil day." -- Jeremiah 16:19.
Then if there be truths too deep for us, or errors like great stones in our pathway, over which we might stumble, he will give his angels charge concerning us. They shall bear us up lest we should stumble. -- Psalm 91:11,12.
"In God I have found a retreat,
Where I can securely abide;
No refuge nor rest so complete,
And here I intend to reside."

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