Early Writings Index
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by Roswell F. Cottrell
THE GIFT OF PROPHECY WAS MANIFESTED IN THE CHURCH DURING THE JEWISH DISPENSATION. IF IT DISAPPEARED FOR A FEW CENTURIES, ON ACCOUNT OF THE CORRUPT STATE OF THE CHURCH TOWARD THE CLOSE OF THAT DISPENSATION, IT REAPPEARED AT ITS CLOSE TO USHER IN THE MESSIAH. ZACHARIAS, THE FATHER OF JOHN THE BAPTIST, “WAS FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST, AND PROPHESIED.” SIMEON, A JUST AND DEVOUT MAN WHO WAS “WAITING FOR THE CONSOLATION OF ISRAEL,” CAME BY THE SPIRIT INTO THE TEMPLE, AND PROPHESIED OF JESUS AS “A LIGHT TO LIGHTEN THE GENTILES, AND THE GLORY OF THY PEOPLE ISRAEL”; AND ANNA, A PROPHETESS, “SPAKE OF HIM TO ALL THEM THAT LOOKED FOR REDEMPTION IN JERUSALEM.” AND THERE WAS NO GREATER PROPHET THAN JOHN THE BAPTIST, WHO WAS CHOSEN OF GOD TO INTRODUCE TO ISRAEL “THE LAMB OF GOD, WHICH TAKETH AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD.”
THE CHRISTIAN AGE COMMENCED WITH THE OUTPOURING OF THE SPIRIT, AND A GREAT VARIETY OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS WAS MANIFESTED AMONG THE BELIEVERS. THESE WERE SO ABUNDANT THAT PAUL COULD SAY TO THE CORINTHIAN CHURCH, “THE MANIFESTATION OF THE SPIRIT IS GIVEN TO EVERY MAN TO PROFIT WITHAL”—TO EVERY MAN IN THE CHURCH, NOT TO EVERY MAN IN THE WORLD, AS MANY HAVE APPLIED IT.
SINCE THE GREAT APOSTASY, THESE GIFTS HAVE RARELY BEEN MANIFESTED; AND THIS IS PROBABLY THE REASON WHY PROFESSED CHRISTIANS GENERALLY BELIEVE THAT THEY WERE LIMITED TO THE PERIOD OF THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH. BUT IS IT NOT ON ACCOUNT OF THE ERRORS AND UNBELIEF OF THE CHURCH THAT THE GIFTS HAVE CEASED? AND WHEN THE PEOPLE OF GOD SHALL ATTAIN TO PRIMITIVE FAITH AND PRACTICE, AS THEY CERTAINLY WILL BY THE PROCLAMATION OF THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD AND THE FAITH OF JESUS, WILL NOT “THE LATTER RAIN” AGAIN DEVELOP THE GIFTS? REASONING FROM ANALOGY WE SHOULD EXPECT IT. NOTWITHSTANDING THE
APOSTASIES OF THE JEWISH AGE, IT OPENED AND CLOSED WITH SPECIAL MANIFESTATIONS OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD. AND IT IS UNREASONABLE TO SUPPOSE THAT THE CHRISTIAN AGE—THE LIGHT OF WHICH, COMPARED WITH THE FORMER DISPENSATION, IS AS THE LIGHT OF THE SUN COMPARED WITH THE FEEBLE RAYS OF THE MOON—SHOULD COMMENCE IN GLORY AND CLOSE IN OBSCURITY. AND SINCE A SPECIAL WORK OF THE SPIRIT WAS NECESSARY TO PREPARE A PEOPLE FOR THE FIRST ADVENT OF CHRIST, HOW MUCH MORE SO FOR THE SECOND; ESPECIALLY SINCE THE LAST DAYS WERE TO BE PERILOUS BEYOND ALL PRECEDENT, AND FALSE PROPHETS WERE TO HAVE POWER TO SHOW GREAT SIGNS AND WONDERS, INSOMUCH THAT, IF IT WERE POSSIBLE, THEY SHOULD DECEIVE THE VERY ELECT. BUT TO THE SCRIPTURES OF TRUTH:
“AND HE SAID UNTO THEM, GO YE INTO ALL THE WORLD, AND PREACH THE GOSPEL TO EVERY CREATURE. HE THAT BELIEVETH AND IS BAPTIZED SHALL BE SAVED; BUT HE THAT BELIEVETH NOT SHALL BE DAMNED. AND THESE SIGNS SHALL FOLLOW THEM THAT BELIEVE: IN MY NAME SHALL THEY CAST OUT DEVILS; THEY SHALL SPEAK WITH NEW TONGUES; THEY SHALL TAKE UP SERPENTS; AND IF THEY DRINK ANY DEADLY THING, IT SHALL NOT HURT THEM; THEY SHALL LAY HANDS ON THE SICK, AND THEY SHALL RECOVER.” MARK 16:15-18.
CAMPBELL’S TRANSLATION SAYS, “THESE MIRACULOUS POWERS SHALL ATTEND THE BELIEVERS.” THE GIFTS WERE NOT CONFINED TO THE APOSTLES, BUT EXTENDED TO THE BELIEVERS. WHO WILL HAVE THEM? THOSE THAT BELIEVE. HOW LONG? THERE IS NO LIMITATION; THE PROMISE RUNS PARALLEL WITH THE GREAT COMMISSION TO PREACH THE GOSPEL AND REACHES THE LAST BELIEVER.
BUT IT IS OBJECTED THAT THIS AID WAS PROMISED ONLY TO THE APOSTLES AND TO THOSE WHO BELIEVED THROUGH THEIR PREACHING; THAT THEY FULFILLED THE COMMISSION, ESTABLISHED THE GOSPEL, AND THAT THE GIFTS CEASED WITH THAT GENERATION. LET US SEE IF THE GREAT COMMISSION ENDED WITH THAT GENERATION. MATT. 28:19,20. “GO YE THEREFORE,
AND TEACH ALL NATIONS, BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY GHOST: TEACHING THEM TO OBSERVE ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER I HAVE COMMANDED YOU: AND, LO, I AM WITH YOU ALWAY, EVEN UNTO THE END OF THE WORLD.”
THAT THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL UNDER THIS COMMISSION DID NOT END WITH THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH IS EVIDENT FROM THE PROMISE, “I AM WITH YOU ALWAY, EVEN UNTO THE END OF THE WORLD.” HE DOES NOT SAY, I AM WITH YOU, APOSTLES, EVERYWHERE, EVEN TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH; BUT I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, TO THE END OF THE WORLD, OR AGE. IT WILL NOT DO TO SAY THAT THE JEWISH AGE IS MEANT, FOR THAT HAD ALREADY ENDED AT THE CROSS. I CONCLUDE, THEN, THAT THE PREACHING AND THE BELIEF OF THE PRIMITIVE GOSPEL WILL ALWAYS BE ATTENDED WITH THE SAME SPIRITUAL AID. THE APOSTLES’ COMMISSION BELONGED TO THE CHRISTIAN AGE, AND EMBRACED THE WHOLE OF IT. CONSEQUENTLY THE GIFTS WERE LOST ONLY THROUGH APOSTASY, AND WILL BE REVIVED WITH THE REVIVAL OF PRIMITIVE FAITH AND PRACTICE.
IN 1 CORINTHIANS 12:28, WE ARE INFORMED THAT GOD HATH SET, PLACED, OR FIXED, CERTAIN SPIRITUAL GIFTS IN THE CHURCH. IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY SCRIPTURAL PROOF THAT HE HAS REMOVED OR ABOLISHED THEM, WE MUST CONCLUDE THAT THEY WERE INTENDED TO REMAIN. WHERE IS THE PROOF THEN THAT THEY ARE ABOLISHED? IN THE SAME CHAPTER WHERE THE JEWISH SABBATH IS ABOLISHED, AND THE CHRISTIAN SABBATH INSTITUTED—A CHAPTER IN THE ACTS OF THE MYSTERY OF INIQUITY AND THE MAN OF SIN. BUT THE OBJECTOR CLAIMS BIBLE PROOF THAT GIFTS WERE TO CEASE, CONTAINED IN THE FOLLOWING TEXT: “CHARITY NEVER FAILETH: BUT WHETHER THERE BE PROPHECIES, THEY SHALL FAIL; WHETHER THERE BE TONGUES, THEY SHALL CEASE; WHETHER THERE BE KNOWLEDGE, IT SHALL VANISH AWAY. FOR WE KNOW IN PART, AND WE PROPHESY IN PART. BUT WHEN THAT WHICH IS PERFECT IS COME, THEN THAT WHICH IS IN PART
SHALL BE DONE AWAY. WHEN I WAS A CHILD, I SPAKE AS A CHILD, I UNDERSTOOD AS A CHILD, I THOUGHT AS A CHILD: BUT WHEN I BECAME A MAN, I PUT AWAY CHILDISH THINGS. FOR NOW WE SEE THROUGH A GLASS, DARKLY; BUT THEN FACE TO FACE: NOW I KNOW IN PART; BUT THEN SHALL I KNOW EVEN AS ALSO I AM KNOWN. AND NOW ABIDETH FAITH, HOPE, CHARITY.” 1 COR. 13:8-13.
THIS TEXT DOES FORETELL THE CESSATION OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS, ALSO OF FAITH AND HOPE. BUT WHEN WERE THEY TO CEASE? WE STILL LOOK FORWARD TO THE TIME WHEN—
“HOPE SHALL CHANGE TO GLAD FRUITION,
FAITH TO SIGHT, AND PRAYER TO PRAISE.”
THEY ARE TO CEASE WHEN THAT WHICH IS PERFECT IS COME, WHEN WE SHALL NO LONGER SEE THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY, BUT FACE TO FACE. THE PERFECT DAY, WHEN THE JUST ARE MADE PERFECT AND SEE AS THEY ARE SEEN, IS YET IN THE FUTURE. IT IS TRUE THAT THE MAN OF SIN, WHEN ARRIVED AT MANHOOD, HAD PUT AWAY SUCH “CHILDISH THINGS” AS PROPHECIES, TONGUES, AND KNOWLEDGE, AND ALSO THE FAITH, HOPE, AND CHARITY OF THE PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANS. BUT THERE IS NOTHING IN THE TEXT TO SHOW THAT GOD DESIGNED TO TAKE AWAY THE GIFTS WHICH HE HAD SET IN THE CHURCH, TILL THE CONSUMMATION OF HER FAITH AND HOPE, TILL THE SURPASSING GLORY OF THE IMMORTAL STATE SHOULD ECLIPSE THE MOST BRILLIANT DISPLAYS OF SPIRITUAL POWER AND KNOWLEDGE EVER MANIFESTED IN THIS MORTAL STATE.
THE OBJECTION FOUNDED UPON 2 TIMOTHY 3:16, WHICH SOME HAVE GRAVELY PRESENTED, DESERVES NO MORE THAN A PASSING REMARK. IF PAUL, IN SAYING THAT THE SCRIPTURES ARE TO MAKE THE MAN OF GOD PERFECT, THOROUGHLY FURNISHED UNTO ALL GOOD WORKS, MEANT THAT NOTHING MORE SHOULD BE WRITTEN BY INSPIRATION, WHY WAS HE AT THAT MOMENT ADDING TO THOSE SCRIPTURES? AT LEAST WHY DID HE NOT DROP THE PEN AS SOON AS THAT SENTENCE WAS WRITTEN? AND WHY DID JOHN, THIRTY YEARS AFTERWARD, WRITE THE BOOK OF REVELATION? THIS BOOK CONTAINS ANOTHER TEXT
WHICH IS QUOTED TO PROVE THE ABOLITION OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS.
“FOR I TESTIFY UNTO EVERY MAN THAT HEARETH THE WORDS OF THE PROPHECY OF THIS BOOK, IF ANY MAN SHALL ADD UNTO THESE THINGS, GOD SHALL ADD UNTO HIM THE PLAGUES THAT ARE WRITTEN IN THIS BOOK: AND IF ANY MAN SHALL TAKE AWAY FROM THE WORDS OF THE BOOK OF THIS PROPHECY, GOD SHALL TAKE AWAY HIS PART OUT OF THE BOOK OF LIFE, AND OUT OF THE HOLY CITY, AND FROM THE THINGS WHICH ARE WRITTEN IN THIS BOOK.” REV. 22:18,19.
FROM THIS TEXT IT IS CLAIMED THAT GOD, WHO AT SUNDRY TIMES AND IN DIVERS MANNERS SPAKE IN TIME PAST TO THE FATHERS BY THE PROPHETS, AND, IN THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE GOSPEL DAY, BY JESUS AND HIS APOSTLES, HAS HEREBY SOLEMNLY PROMISED NEVER TO COMMUNICATE ANYTHING MORE TO MAN IN THAT WAY. THEREFORE ALL PROPHESYING AFTER THIS DATE MUST BE FALSE. THIS, IT IS SAID, CLOSES THE CANON OF INSPIRATION. IF SO, WHY DID JOHN WRITE HIS GOSPEL AFTER HIS RETURN FROM PATMOS TO EPHESUS? IN DOING SO DID HE ADD TO THE WORDS OF THE PROPHECY OF THAT BOOK WRITTEN IN THE ISLE OF PATMOS? IT IS EVIDENT, FROM THE TEXT, THAT THE CAUTION AGAINST ADDING TO, OR TAKING FROM, REFERS NOT TO THE BIBLE AS WE HAVE THE VOLUME COMPILED, BUT TO THE SEPARATE BOOK OF REVELATION, AS IT CAME FROM THE HAND OF THE APOSTLE. YET NO MAN HAS A RIGHT TO ADD TO, OR SUBTRACT FROM, ANY OTHER BOOK WRITTEN BY INSPIRATION OF GOD. DID JOHN, IN WRITING THE BOOK OF REVELATION, ADD ANYTHING TO THE BOOK OF DANIEL’S PROPHECY? NOT AT ALL. A PROPHET HAS NO RIGHT TO ALTER THE WORD OF GOD. BUT THE VISIONS OF JOHN CORROBORATE THOSE OF DANIEL AND GIVE MUCH ADDITIONAL LIGHT UPON THE SUBJECTS THERE INTRODUCED. I CONCLUDE, THEN, THAT THE LORD HAS NOT BOUND HIMSELF TO KEEP SILENCE, BUT IS STILL AT LIBERTY TO SPEAK. EVER BE IT THE LANGUAGE OF MY HEART, SPEAK, LORD, THROUGH WHOM THOU WILT; THY SERVANT HEARETH.
THUS THE ATTEMPT TO PROVE FROM SCRIPTURE THE ABOLITION
OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS, PROVES A TOTAL FAILURE. AND SINCE THE GATES OF HADES HAVE NOT PREVAILED AGAINST THE CHURCH, BUT GOD STILL HAS A PEOPLE ON EARTH, WE MAY LOOK FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE GIFTS IN CONNECTION WITH THE THIRD ANGEL’S MESSAGE, A MESSAGE WHICH WILL BRING BACK THE CHURCH TO APOSTOLIC GROUND AND MAKE IT INDEED THE LIGHT—NOT DARKNESS—OF THE WORLD.
AGAIN: WE ARE FOREWARNED THAT THERE WOULD BE FALSE PROPHETS IN THE LAST DAYS, AND THE BIBLE GIVES A TEST BY WHICH TO TRY THEIR TEACHINGS IN ORDER THAT WE MAY DISTINGUISH BETWEEN THE TRUE AND THE FALSE. THE GRAND TEST IS THE LAW OF GOD, WHICH IS APPLIED BOTH TO THE PROPHESYINGS AND TO THE MORAL CHARACTER OF THE PROPHETS. IF THERE WERE TO BE NO TRUE PROPHESYINGS IN THE LAST DAYS, HOW MUCH EASIER TO HAVE STATED THE FACT, AND THUS CUT OFF ALL CHANCE FOR DECEPTION, THAN TO GIVE A TEST BY WHICH TO TRY THEM, AS IF THERE WOULD BE THE GENUINE AS WELL AS THE FALSE.
IN ISAIAH 8:19,20, IS A PROPHECY OF THE FAMILIAR SPIRITS OF THE PRESENT TIME, AND THE LAW IS GIVEN AS A TEST: “TO THE LAW AND TO THE TESTIMONY: IF THEY SPEAK NOT ACCORDING TO THIS WORD, IT IS BECAUSE THERE IS NO LIGHT IN THEM.” WHY SAY, “IF THEY SPEAK NOT,” IF THERE WAS TO BE NO TRUE SPIRITUAL MANIFESTATION OR PROPHESYING AT THE SAME TIME? JESUS SAYS, “BEWARE OF FALSE PROPHETS. . . . YE SHALL KNOW THEM BY THEIR FRUITS.” MATT. 7:15, 16. THIS IS A PART OF THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT, AND ALL CAN SEE THAT THIS DISCOURSE HAS A GENERAL APPLICATION TO THE CHURCH THROUGH THE GOSPEL AGE. FALSE PROPHETS ARE TO BE KNOWN BY THEIR FRUITS; IN OTHER WORDS, BY THEIR MORAL CHARACTER. THE ONLY STANDARD BY WHICH TO DETERMINE WHETHER THEIR FRUITS ARE GOOD OR BAD, IS THE LAW OF GOD. THUS WE ARE BROUGHT TO THE LAW AND TO THE TESTIMONY. TRUE PROPHETS WILL NOT ONLY SPEAK ACCORDING TO THIS WORD, BUT THEY WILL LIVE ACCORDING TO IT. ONE WHO SPEAKS AND LIVES THUS, I DARE NOT CONDEMN.
IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN A CHARACTERISTIC OF FALSE PROPHETS THAT THEY SEE VISIONS OF PEACE; AND THEY WILL BE SAYING, “PEACE AND SAFETY,” WHEN SUDDEN DESTRUCTION COMES UPON THEM. THE TRUE WILL BOLDLY REPROVE SIN AND WARN OF COMING WRATH.
PROPHESYINGS WHICH CONTRADICT THE PLAIN AND POSITIVE DECLARATIONS OF THE WORD, ARE TO BE REJECTED. THUS OUR SAVIOUR TAUGHT HIS DISCIPLES WHEN HE WARNED THEM CONCERNING THE MANNER OF HIS SECOND COMING. WHEN JESUS ASCENDED TO HEAVEN IN THE SIGHT OF HIS DISCIPLES, IT WAS DECLARED MOST EXPLICITLY BY THE ANGELS THAT THIS SAME JESUS SHOULD SO COME IN LIKE MANNER AS THEY HAD SEEN HIM GO INTO HEAVEN. HENCE JESUS, IN PREDICTING THE WORK OF THE FALSE PROPHETS OF THE LAST DAYS, SAYS, “IF THEY SHALL SAY UNTO YOU, BEHOLD, HE IS IN THE DESERT; GO NOT FORTH: BEHOLD, HE IS IN THE SECRET CHAMBERS, BELIEVE IT NOT.” ALL TRUE PROPHESYING ON THAT POINT MUST RECOGNIZE HIS VISIBLE COMING FROM HEAVEN. WHY DID NOT JESUS SAY, REJECT ALL PROPHESYING AT THAT TIME; FOR THERE WILL BE NO TRUE PROPHETS THEN?
“AND HE GAVE SOME, APOSTLES; AND SOME, PROPHETS; AND SOME, EVANGELISTS; AND SOME, PASTORS AND TEACHERS; FOR THE PERFECTING OF THE SAINTS, FOR THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY, FOR THE EDIFYING OF THE BODY OF CHRIST: TILL WE ALL COME IN THE UNITY OF THE FAITH, AND OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE SON OF GOD, UNTO A PERFECT MAN, UNTO THE MEASURE OF THE STATURE OF THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST.” EPH. 4:11-13.
WE LEARN FROM A PREVIOUS VERSE THAT WHEN CHRIST ASCENDED UP ON HIGH, HE GAVE GIFTS UNTO MEN. AMONG THESE GIFTS ARE ENUMERATED APOSTLES, PROPHETS, EVANGELISTS, PASTORS, AND TEACHERS. THE OBJECT FOR WHICH THEY WERE GIVEN WAS THE PERFECTING OF THE SAINTS IN UNITY AND KNOWLEDGE. SOME WHO PROFESS TO BE PASTORS AND TEACHERS AT THE PRESENT DAY HOLD THAT THESE GIFTS FULLY ACCOMPLISHED THEIR OBJECT SOME EIGHTEEN HUNDRED YEARS AGO,
AND CONSEQUENTLY CEASED. WHY NOT THEN THROW ASIDE THEIR TITLES OF PASTORS AND TEACHERS? IF THE OFFICE OF PROPHET IS BY THIS TEXT LIMITED TO THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH, SO IS THAT OF THE EVANGELIST—AND ALL THE REST; FOR NO DISTINCTION IS MADE.
NOW LET US REASON A MOMENT UPON THIS POINT. ALL THESE GIFTS WERE GIVEN FOR THE PERFECTING OF THE SAINTS IN UNITY, KNOWLEDGE, AND SPIRIT. UNDER THEIR INFLUENCE THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH FOR A TIME ENJOYED THAT UNITY: “THE MULTITUDE OF THEM THAT BELIEVED WERE OF ONE HEART AND OF ONE SOUL.” AND IT SEEMS A NATURAL CONSEQUENCE OF THIS STATE OF UNITY, THAT “WITH GREAT POWER GAVE THE APOSTLES WITNESS OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE LORD JESUS: AND GREAT GRACE WAS UPON THEM ALL.” ACTS 4:31-33. HOW DESIRABLE SUCH A STATE OF THINGS NOW! BUT APOSTASY WITH ITS DIVIDING AND BLIGHTING INFLUENCE MARRED THE BEAUTY OF THE FAIR CHURCH AND CLOTHED HER IN SACKCLOTH. DIVISION AND DISORDER HAVE BEEN THE RESULT. NEVER WAS THERE SO GREAT A DIVERSITY OF FAITH IN CHRISTENDOM AS AT THE PRESENT DAY. IF THE GIFTS WERE NECESSARY TO PRESERVE THE UNITY OF THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH, HOW MUCH MORE SO TO RESTORE UNITY NOW! AND THAT IT IS THE PURPOSE OF GOD TO RESTORE THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH IN THE LAST DAYS, IS ABUNDANTLY EVIDENT FROM THE PROPHECIES. WE ARE ASSURED THAT THE WATCHMEN SHALL SEE EYE TO EYE, WHEN THE LORD SHALL BRING AGAIN ZION. ALSO, THAT IN THE TIME OF THE END THE WISE SHALL UNDERSTAND. WHEN THIS IS FULFILLED THERE WILL BE UNITY OF FAITH WITH ALL WHOM GOD ACCOUNTS WISE; FOR THOSE THAT DO IN REALITY UNDERSTAND ARIGHT, MUST NECESSARILY UNDERSTAND ALIKE. WHAT IS TO EFFECT THIS UNITY BUT THE GIFTS THAT WERE GIVEN FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE?
FROM CONSIDERATIONS LIKE THESE, IT IS EVIDENT THAT THE PERFECT STATE OF THE CHURCH HERE PREDICTED IS STILL IN THE FUTURE; CONSEQUENTLY THESE GIFTS HAVE NOT YET ACCOMPLISHED THEIR PURPOSE. THIS LETTER TO THE EPHESIANS
WAS WRITTEN IN A.D. 64, ABOUT TWO YEARS BEFORE PAUL TOLD TIMOTHY THAT HE WAS READY TO BE OFFERED, AND THE TIME OF HIS DEPARTURE WAS AT HAND. THE SEEDS OF THE APOSTASY WERE NOW GERMINATING IN THE CHURCH, FOR PAUL HAD SAID TEN YEARS BEFORE, IN HIS SECOND LETTER TO THE THESSALONIANS, “THE MYSTERY OF INIQUITY DOTH ALREADY WORK.” GRIEVOUS WOLVES WERE NOW ABOUT TO ENTER IN, NOT SPARING THE FLOCK. THE CHURCH WAS NOT THEN RISING AND ADVANCING TO THAT PERFECTION IN UNITY CONTEMPLATED IN THE TEXT, BUT WAS ABOUT TO BE TORN BY FACTIONS AND DISTRACTED BY DIVISIONS. THE APOSTLE KNEW THIS; CONSEQUENTLY HE MUST HAVE LOOKED BEYOND THE GREAT APOSTASY, TO THE PERIOD OF THE GATHERING OF THE REMNANT OF GOD’S PEOPLE, WHEN HE SAID, “TILL WE ALL COME INTO [MARGIN] THE UNITY OF THE FAITH.” EPH. 4:13. HENCE THE GIFTS THAT WERE SET IN THE CHURCH HAVE NOT YET SERVED OUT THEIR TIME.
“QUENCH NOT THE SPIRIT. DESPISE NOT PROPHESYINGS. PROVE ALL THINGS; HOLD FAST THAT WHICH IS GOOD.” 1 THESS. 5:19-21.
IN THIS EPISTLE THE APOSTLE INTRODUCES THE SUBJECT OF THE SECOND COMING OF THE LORD. HE THEN DESCRIBES THE STATE OF THE UNBELIEVING WORLD AT THAT TIME, WHO ARE SAYING, “PEACE AND SAFETY,” WHEN THE DAY OF THE LORD IS ABOUT TO BURST UPON THEM, AND SUDDEN DESTRUCTION COME UPON THEM AS A THIEF IN THE NIGHT. HE THEN EXHORTS THE CHURCH, IN VIEW OF THESE THINGS, TO KEEP AWAKE, TO WATCH AND BE SOBER. AMONG THE EXHORTATIONS THAT FOLLOW ARE THE WORDS WE HAVE QUOTED, “QUENCH NOT THE SPIRIT,” ETC. SOME MAY THINK THAT THESE THREE VERSES ARE COMPLETELY DETACHED FROM ONE ANOTHER IN SENSE; BUT THEY HAVE A NATURAL CONNECTION IN THE ORDER IN WHICH THEY STAND. THE PERSON WHO QUENCHES THE SPIRIT WILL BE LEFT TO DESPISE PROPHESYINGS, WHICH ARE THE LEGITIMATE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT. “I WILL POUR OUT MY SPIRIT UPON ALL FLESH; AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL
PROPHESY.” JOEL 2:28. THE EXPRESSION, “PROVE ALL THINGS,” IS LIMITED TO THE SUBJECT OF DISCOURSE, PROPHESYINGS, AND WE ARE TO TRY THE SPIRITS BY THE TESTS WHICH GOD HAS GIVEN US IN HIS WORD. SPIRITUAL DECEPTIONS AND FALSE PROPHESYINGS ABOUND AT THE PRESENT TIME; AND DOUBTLESS THIS TEXT HAS A SPECIAL APPLICATION HERE. BUT MARK, THE APOSTLE DOES NOT SAY, REJECT ALL THINGS; BUT, PROVE ALL THINGS; HOLD FAST THAT WHICH IS GOOD.
“AND IT SHALL COME TO PASS AFTERWARD, THAT I WILL POUR OUT MY SPIRIT UPON ALL FLESH; AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS, YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS; AND ALSO UPON THE SERVANTS AND UPON THE HANDMAIDS IN THOSE DAYS WILL I POUR OUT MY SPIRIT. AND I WILL SHOW WONDERS IN THE HEAVENS AND IN THE EARTH, BLOOD, AND FIRE, AND PILLARS OF SMOKE. THE SUN SHALL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESS, AND THE MOON INTO BLOOD, BEFORE THE GREAT AND THE TERRIBLE DAY OF THE LORD COME. AND IT SHALL COME TO PASS, THAT WHOSOEVER SHALL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE DELIVERED: FOR IN MOUNT ZION AND IN JERUSALEM SHALL BE DELIVERANCE, AS THE LORD HATH SAID, AND IN THE REMNANT WHOM THE LORD SHALL CALL.” JOEL 2:28-32.
THIS PROPHECY OF JOEL, WHICH SPEAKS OF THE OUTPOURING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE LAST DAYS, WAS NOT ALL FULFILLED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE GOSPEL DISPENSATION. THIS IS EVIDENT FROM THE WONDERS IN HEAVEN AND IN EARTH, INTRODUCED IN THIS TEXT, WHICH WERE TO BE PRECURSORS OF “THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE DAY OF THE LORD.” THOUGH WE HAVE HAD THE SIGNS, THAT TERRIBLE DAY IS STILL IN THE FUTURE. THE WHOLE GOSPEL DISPENSATION MAY BE CALLED THE LAST DAYS, BUT TO SAY THAT THE LAST DAYS ARE ALL 1800 YEARS IN THE PAST, IS ABSURD. THEY REACH TO THE DAY OF THE LORD AND TO THE DELIVERANCE OF THE REMNANT OF GOD’S PEOPLE: “FOR IN MOUNT ZION AND IN JERUSALEM SHALL BE DELIVERANCE, AS THE LORD HATH SAID, AND IN THE REMNANT WHOM THE LORD SHALL CALL.”
THIS REMNANT, EXISTING AMID THE SIGNS AND WONDERS THAT USHER IN THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE DAY OF THE LORD, IS DOUBTLESS THE REMNANT OF THE SEED OF THE WOMAN SPOKEN OF IN REVELATION 12:17—THE LAST GENERATION OF THE CHURCH ON EARTH. “AND THE DRAGON WAS WROTH WITH THE WOMAN, AND WENT TO MAKE WAR WITH THE REMNANT OF HER SEED, WHICH KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD, AND HAVE THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS CHRIST.”
THE REMNANT OF THE GOSPEL CHURCH WILL HAVE THE GIFTS. WAR WILL BE WAGED AGAINST THEM BECAUSE THEY KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD AND HAVE THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS CHRIST. (REV. 12:17.) IN REVELATION 19:10, THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS IS DEFINED TO BE THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY. SAID THE ANGEL, “I AM THY FELLOW SERVANT, AND OF THY BRETHREN THAT HAVE THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS.” IN REVELATION 22:9, HE REPEATS THE SAME IN SUBSTANCE, AS FOLLOWS: “I AM THY FELLOW SERVANT, AND OF THY BRETHREN THE PROPHETS.” FROM THE COMPARISON WE SEE THE FORCE OF THE EXPRESSION, “THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS IS THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY.” BUT THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS INCLUDES ALL THE GIFTS OF THAT ONE SPIRIT. SAYS PAUL: “I THANK MY GOD ALWAYS ON YOUR BEHALF, FOR THE GRACE OF GOD WHICH IS GIVEN YOU BY JESUS CHRIST; THAT IN EVERYTHING YE ARE ENRICHED BY HIM, IN ALL UTTERANCE, AND IN ALL KNOWLEDGE; EVEN AS THE TESTIMONY OF CHRIST WAS CONFIRMED IN YOU: SO THAT YE COME BEHIND IN NO GIFT; WAITING FOR THE COMING OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.” 1 COR. 1:4-7. THE TESTIMONY OF CHRIST WAS CONFIRMED IN THE CORINTHIAN CHURCH; AND WHAT WAS THE RESULT? THEY CAME BEHIND IN NO GIFT. ARE WE NOT JUSTIFIED, THEN, IN THE CONCLUSION THAT WHEN THE REMNANT ARE FULLY CONFIRMED IN THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS, THEY WILL COME BEHIND IN NO GIFT, WAITING FOR THE COMING OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST?
Roswell F. Cottrell
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The Fall of Satan
Satan was once an honored angel in heaven, next to Christ. His countenance, like those of the other angels, was mild and expressive of happiness. His forehead was high and broad, showing great intelligence. His form was perfect; his bearing noble and majestic. But when God said to His Son, “Let us make man in our image,” Satan was jealous of Jesus. He wished to be consulted concerning the formation of man, and because he was not, he was filled with envy, jealousy, and hatred. He desired to receive the highest honors in heaven next to God.
Until this time all heaven had been in order, harmony, and perfect subjection to the government of God. It was the highest sin to rebel against His order and will. All heaven seemed in commotion. The angels were marshaled in companies, each division with a higher commanding angel at its head. Satan, ambitious to exalt himself, and unwilling to submit to the authority of Jesus, was insinuating against the government of God. Some of the angels sympathized with Satan in his rebellion, and others strongly contended for the honor and wisdom of God in giving authority to His Son. There was contention among the angels. Satan and his sympathizers were striving to reform the government of God. They wished to look into His unsearchable wisdom, and ascertain His purpose in exalting Jesus and endowing Him with such unlimited
power and command. They rebelled against the authority of the Son. All the heavenly host were summoned to appear before the Father to have each case decided. It was there determined that Satan should be expelled from heaven, with all the angels who had joined him in the rebellion. Then there was war in heaven. Angels were engaged in the battle; Satan wished to conquer the Son of God and those who were submissive to His will. But the good and true angels prevailed, and Satan, with his followers, was driven from heaven.
After Satan and those who fell with him were shut out of heaven, and he realized that he had forever lost all its purity and glory, he repented, and wished to be reinstated in heaven. He was willing to take his proper place, or any position that might be assigned him. But no; heaven must not be placed in jeopardy. All heaven might be marred should he be taken back; for sin originated with him, and the seeds of rebellion were within him. Both he and his followers wept, and implored to be taken back into the favor of God. But their sin—their hatred, their envy and jealousy—had been so great that God could not blot it out. It must remain to receive its final punishment.
When Satan became fully conscious that there was no possibility of his being brought again into favor with God, his malice and hatred began to be manifest. He consulted with his angels, and a plan was laid to still work against God’s government. When Adam and Eve were placed in the beautiful garden, Satan was laying plans to destroy them. In no way could this happy couple be deprived of their happiness if they obeyed God. Satan could not exercise his power upon them unless they should first disobey God and forfeit His favor. Some plan must therefore be devised to lead them to disobedience that they might incur God’s
frown and be brought under the more direct influence of Satan and his angels. It was decided that Satan should assume another form and manifest an interest for man. He must insinuate against God’s truthfulness and create doubt whether God did mean just what He said; next, he must excite their curiosity, and lead them to pry into the unsearchable plans of God— the very sin of which Satan had been guilty—and reason as to the cause of His restrictions in regard to the tree of knowledge.
The Fall of Man
Holy angels often visited the garden, and gave instruction to Adam and Eve concerning their employment and also taught them concerning the rebellion and fall of Satan. The angels warned them of Satan and cautioned them not to separate from each other in their employment, for they might be brought in contact with this fallen foe. The angels also enjoined upon them to follow closely the directions God had given them, for in perfect obedience only were they safe. Then this fallen foe could have no power over them.
Satan commenced his work with Eve, to cause her to disobey. She first erred in wandering from her husband, next in lingering around the forbidden tree, and next in listening to the voice of the tempter, and even daring to doubt what God had said, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” She thought that perhaps the Lord did not mean just what He said, and venturing, she put forth her hand, took of the fruit and ate. It was pleasing to the eye and pleasant to the taste. Then she was jealous that God had withheld from them what was really for their good, and she
offered the fruit to her husband, thereby tempting him. She related to Adam all that the serpent had said and expressed her astonishment that he had the power of speech.
I saw a sadness come over Adam’s countenance. He appeared afraid and astonished. A struggle seemed to be going on in his mind. He felt sure that this was the foe against whom they had been warned, and that his wife must die. They must be separated. His love for Eve was strong, and in utter discouragement he resolved to share her fate. He seized the fruit and quickly ate it. Then Satan exulted. He had rebelled in heaven, and had gained sympathizers who loved him and followed him in his rebellion. He had fallen and caused others to fall with him. And he had now tempted the woman to distrust God, to inquire into His wisdom, and to seek to penetrate His all-wise plans. Satan knew that the woman would not fall alone. Adam, through his love for Eve, disobeyed the command of God, and fell with her.
The news of man’s fall spread through heaven. Every harp was hushed. The angels cast their crowns from their heads in sorrow. All heaven was in agitation. A council was held to decide what must be done with the guilty pair. The angels feared that they would put forth the hand, and eat of the tree of life, and become immortal sinners. But God said that He would drive the transgressors from the garden. Angels were immediately commissioned to guard the way of the tree of life. It had been Satan’s studied plan that Adam and Eve should disobey God, receive His frown, and then partake of the tree of life, that they might live forever in sin and disobedience, and thus sin be immortalized. But holy angels were sent to drive them out of the garden, and to bar their way to the tree of life. Each of these mighty angels had in his right hand
something which had the appearance of a glittering sword.
Then Satan triumphed. He had made others suffer by his fall. He had been shut out of heaven, they out of Paradise.
The Plan of Salvation
Sorrow filled heaven, as it was realized that man was lost, and that world which God had created was to be filled with mortals doomed to misery, sickness, and death, and there was no way of escape for the offender. The whole family of Adam must die. I saw the lovely Jesus and beheld an expression of sympathy and sorrow upon His countenance. Soon I saw Him approach the exceeding bright light which enshrouded the Father. Said my accompanying angel, He is in close converse with His Father. The anxiety of the angels seemed to be intense while Jesus was communing with His Father. Three times He was shut in by the glorious light about the Father, and the third time He came from the Father, His person could be seen. His countenance was calm, free from all perplexity and doubt, and shone with benevolence and loveliness, such as words cannot express. He then made known to the angelic host that a way of escape had been made for lost man. He told them that He had been pleading with His Father, and had offered to give His life a ransom, to take the sentence of death upon Himself, that through Him man might find pardon; that through the merits of His blood, and obedience to the law of God, they could have the favor of God, and be brought into the beautiful garden, and eat of the fruit of the tree of life.
At first the angels could not rejoice; for their Commander concealed nothing from them, but opened
before them the plan of salvation. Jesus told them that He would stand between the wrath of His Father and guilty man, that He would bear iniquity and scorn, and but few would receive Him as the Son of God. Nearly all would hate and reject Him. He would leave all His glory in heaven, appear upon earth as a man, humble Himself as a man, become acquainted by His own experience with the various temptations with which man would be beset, that He might know how to succor those who should be tempted; and that finally, after His mission as a teacher would be accomplished, He would be delivered into the hands of men, and endure almost every cruelty and suffering that Satan and his angels could inspire wicked men to inflict; that He would die the cruelest of deaths, hung up between the heavens and the earth as a guilty sinner; that He would suffer dreadful hours of agony, which even angels could not look upon, but would veil their faces from the sight. Not merely agony of body would He suffer, but mental agony, that with which bodily suffering could in no wise be compared. The weight of the sins of the whole world would be upon Him. He told them He would die and rise again the third day, and would ascend to His Father to intercede for wayward, guilty man.
The angels prostrated themselves before Him. They offered their lives. Jesus said to them that He would by His death save many, that the life of an angel could not pay the debt. His life alone could be accepted of His Father as a ransom for man. Jesus also told them that they would have a part to act, to be with Him and at different times strengthen Him; that He would take man’s fallen nature, and His strength would not be even equal with theirs; that they would be witnesses of His humiliation and great sufferings; and that as they would witness His sufferings, and the
hatred of men toward Him, they would be stirred with the deepest emotion, and through their love for Him would wish to rescue and deliver Him from His murderers; but that they must not interfere to prevent anything they should behold; and that they should act a part in His resurrection; that the plan of salvation was devised, and His Father had accepted the plan.
With a holy sadness Jesus comforted and cheered the angels and informed them that hereafter those whom He should redeem would be with Him, and that by His death He should ransom many and destroy him who had the power of death. And His Father would give Him the kingdom and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, and He would possess it forever and ever. Satan and sinners would be destroyed, nevermore to disturb heaven or the purified new earth. Jesus bade the heavenly host be reconciled to the plan that His Father had accepted and rejoice that through His death fallen man could again be exalted to obtain favor with God and enjoy heaven.
Then joy, inexpressible joy, filled heaven. And the heavenly host sang a song of praise and adoration. They touched their harps and sang a note higher than they had done before, for the great mercy and condescension of God in yielding up His dearly Beloved to die for a race of rebels. Praise and adoration were poured forth for the self-denial and sacrifice of Jesus; that He would consent to leave the bosom of His Father, and choose a life of suffering and anguish, and die an ignominious death to give life to others.
Said the angel, “Think ye that the Father yielded up His dearly beloved Son without a struggle? No, no. It was even a struggle with the God of heaven, whether to let guilty man perish, or to give His beloved Son to die for Him.” Angels were so interested for man’s
salvation that there could be found among them those who would yield their glory and give their life for perishing man, “But,” said my accompanying angel, “that would avail nothing. The transgression was so great that an angel’s life would not pay the debt. Nothing but the death and intercessions of His son would pay the debt and save lost man from hopeless sorrow and misery.”
But the work of the angels was assigned them, to ascend and descend with strengthening balm from glory to soothe the Son of God in His sufferings, and minister unto Him. Also, their work would be to guard and keep the subjects of grace from the evil angels and the darkness constantly thrown around them by Satan. I saw that it was impossible for God to alter or change His law to save lost, perishing man; therefore He suffered His beloved Son to die for man’s transgression.
Satan again rejoiced with his angels that he could, by causing man’s fall, pull down the Son of God from His exalted position. He told his angels that when Jesus should take fallen man’s nature, he could overpower Him and hinder the accomplishment of the plan of salvation.
I was shown Satan as he once was, a happy, exalted angel. Then I was shown him as he now is. He still bears a kingly form. His features are still noble, for he is an angel fallen. But the expression of his countenance is full of anxiety, care, unhappiness, malice, hate, mischief, deceit, and every evil. That brow which was once so noble, I particularly noticed. His forehead commenced from his eyes to recede. I saw that he had so long bent himself to evil that every good quality was debased, and every evil trait was developed. His eyes were cunning, sly, and showed great penetration. His frame was large, but the flesh hung loosely about his
hands and face. As I beheld him, his chin was resting upon his left hand. He appeared to be in deep thought. A smile was upon his countenance, which made me tremble, it was so full of evil and satanic slyness. This smile is the one he wears just before he makes sure of his victim, and as he fastens the victim in his snare, this smile grows horrible.
The First Advent Of Christ
I was carried down to the time when Jesus was to take upon Himself man’s nature, humble Himself as a man, and suffer the temptations of Satan.
His birth was without worldly grandeur. He was born in a stable and cradled in a manger; yet His birth was honored far above that of any of the sons of men. Angels from heaven informed the shepherds of the advent of Jesus, and light and glory from God accompanied their testimony. The heavenly host touched their harps and glorified God. They triumphantly heralded the advent of the Son of God to a fallen world to accomplish the work of redemption, and by His death to bring peace, happiness, and everlasting life to man. God honored the advent of His Son. Angels worshiped Him.
Angels of God hovered over the scene of His baptism; the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove and lighted upon Him, and as the people stood greatly amazed, with their eyes fastened upon Him, the Father’s voice was heard from heaven, saying, Thou art My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased.
John was not certain that it was the Saviour who came to be baptized of him in Jordan. But God had promised him a sign by which he should know the Lamb of God. That sign was given as the heavenly dove rested upon Jesus, and the glory of God shone
round about Him. John reached forth his hand, pointing to Jesus, and with a loud voice cried out, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!”
John informed his disciples that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Saviour of the world. As his work was closing, he taught his disciples to look to Jesus, and follow Him as the Great Teacher. John’s life was sorrowful and self-denying. He heralded the first advent of Christ, but was not permitted to witness His miracles, and enjoy the power manifested by Him. When Jesus should establish Himself as a teacher, John knew that he himself must die. His voice was seldom heard, except in the wilderness. His life was lonely. He did not cling to his father’s family, to enjoy their society, but left them in order to fulfill his mission. Multitudes left the busy cities and villages and flocked to the wilderness to hear the words of the wonderful prophet. John laid the ax to the root of the tree. He reproved sin, fearless of consequences, and prepared the way for the Lamb of God.
Herod was affected as he listened to the powerful, pointed testimonies of John, and with deep interest he inquired what he must do to become his disciple. John was acquainted with the fact that he was about to marry his brother’s wife, while her husband was yet living, and faithfully told Herod that this was not lawful. Herod was unwilling to make any sacrifice. He married his brother’s wife, and through her influence, seized John and put him in prison, intending however to release him. While there confined, John heard through his disciples of the mighty works of Jesus. He could not listen to His gracious words; but the disciples informed him and comforted him with what they had heard. Soon John was beheaded, through the influence of Herod’s wife. I saw that
the humblest disciples who followed Jesus, witnessed His miracles, and heard the comforting words which fell from His lips, were greater than John the Baptist; that is, they were more exalted and honored, and had more pleasure in their lives.
John came in the spirit and power of Elijah to proclaim the first advent of Jesus. I was pointed down to the last days and saw that John represented those who should go forth in the spirit and power of Elijah to herald the day of wrath and the second advent of Jesus.
After the baptism of Jesus in Jordan, He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil. The Holy Spirit had prepared Him for that special scene of fierce temptations. Forty days He was tempted of Satan, and in those days He ate nothing. Everything around Him was unpleasant, from which human nature would be led to shrink. He was with the wild beasts and the devil, in a desolate, lonely place. The Son of God was pale and emaciated, through fasting and suffering. But His course was marked out, and He must fulfill the work which He came to do.
Satan took advantage of the sufferings of the Son of God and prepared to beset Him with manifold temptations, hoping to obtain the victory over Him, because He had humbled Himself as a man. Satan came with this temptation: “If Thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.” He tempted Jesus to condescend to give him proof of His being the Messiah, by exercising His divine power. Jesus mildly answered him, “It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”
Satan was seeking a dispute with Jesus concerning His being the Son of God. He referred to His weak,
suffering condition and boastingly affirmed that he was stronger than Jesus. But the word spoken from heaven, “Thou art My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased,” was sufficient to sustain Jesus through all His sufferings. I saw that Christ had nothing to do in convincing Satan of His power or of His being the Saviour of the world. Satan had sufficient evidence of the exalted station and authority of the Son of God. His unwillingness to yield to Christ’s authority had shut him out of heaven.
Satan, to manifest his power, carried Jesus to Jerusalem, and set Him upon a pinnacle of the temple, and there tempted Him to give evidence that He was the Son of God, by casting Himself down from that dizzy height. Satan came with the words of inspiration: “For it is written, He shall give His angels charge over Thee, to keep Thee: and in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone.” Jesus answering said unto him, “It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” Satan wished to cause Jesus to presume upon the mercy of His Father and risk His life before the fulfillment of His mission. He had hoped that the plan of salvation would fail; but the plan was laid too deep to be overthrown or marred by Satan.
Christ is the example for all Christians. When they are tempted, or their rights are disputed, they should bear it patiently. They should not feel that they have a right to call upon the Lord to display His power that they may obtain a victory over their enemies, unless God can be directly honored and glorified thereby. If Jesus had cast Himself from the pinnacle of the temple, it would not have glorified His Father; for none would have witnessed the act but Satan and the angels of God. And it would have been tempting the Lord to display His power to His bitterest foe. It
would have been condescending to the one whom Jesus came to conquer.
“And the devil, taking Him up into an high mountain, showed unto Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto Him, All this power will I give Thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If Thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be Thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind Me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.”
Satan presented before Jesus the kingdoms of the world in the most attractive light. If Jesus would there worship him, he offered to relinquish his claims to the possessions of earth. If the plan of salvation should be carried out, and Jesus should die to redeem man, Satan knew that his own power must be limited and finally taken away, and that he would be destroyed. Therefore it was his studied plan to prevent, if possible, the completion of the great work which had been commenced by the Son of God. If the plan of man’s redemption should fail, Satan would retain the kingdom which he then claimed. And if he should succeed, he flattered himself that he would reign in opposition to the God of heaven.
Satan exulted when Jesus laid aside His power and glory and left heaven. He thought that the Son of God was then placed in his power. The temptation took so easily with the holy pair in Eden that he hoped by his satanic power and cunning to overthrow even the Son of God, and thereby save his own life and kingdom. If he could tempt Jesus to depart from the will of His Father, his object would be gained. But Jesus met the tempter with the rebuke, “Get thee behind Me, Satan.” He was to bow only to His Father.
Satan claimed the kingdom of earth as his and insinuated to Jesus that all His sufferings might be saved: that He need not die to obtain the kingdoms of this world; if He would worship him He might have all the possessions of earth and the glory of reigning over them. But Jesus was steadfast. He knew that the time was to come when He would by His own life redeem the kingdom from Satan, and that, after a season, all in heaven and earth would submit to Him. He chose His life of suffering and His dreadful death, as the way appointed by His Father that He might become a lawful heir to the kingdoms of earth and have them given into His hands as an everlasting possession. Satan also will be given into His hands to be destroyed be death, nevermore to annoy Jesus or the saints in glory.
The Ministry of Christ
After Satan had ended his temptations, he departed from Jesus for a season, and angels prepared Him food in the wilderness, and strengthened Him, and the blessing of His Father rested upon Him. Satan had failed in his fiercest temptations; yet he looked forward to the period of Jesus’ ministry, when he should at different times try his cunning against Him. He still hoped to prevail against Him by stirring up those who would not receive Jesus, to hate and seek to destroy Him. Satan held a special council with his angels. They were disappointed and enraged that they had prevailed nothing against the Son of God. They decided that they must be more cunning and use their power to the utmost to inspire unbelief in the minds of His own nation as to His being the Saviour of the world, and in this way discourage Jesus in His mission. No matter how exact the Jews might be in their
ceremonies and sacrifices, if they could be kept blinded as to the prophecies and be made to believe that the Messiah was to appear as a mighty worldly king, they might be led to despise and reject Jesus.
I was shown that Satan and his angels were very busy during Christ’s ministry, inspiring men with unbelief, hate, and scorn. Often when Jesus uttered some cutting truth, reproving their sins, the people would become enraged. Satan and his angels urged them on to take the life of the Son of God. More than once they took up stones to cast at Him, but angels guarded Him and bore Him away from the angry multitude to a place of safety. Again, as the plain truth dropped from His holy lips, the multitude laid hold of Him and led Him to the brow of a hill, intending to cast Him down. A contention arose among themselves as to what they should do with Him, when the angels again hid Him from the sight of the multitude, and He, passing through the midst of them, went His way.
Satan still hoped that the great plan of salvation would fail. He exerted all his power to make the hearts of the people hard and their feelings bitter against Jesus. He hoped that so few would receive Him as the Son of God that He would consider His sufferings and sacrifice too great to make for so small a company. But I saw that if there had been but two who would have accepted Jesus as the Son of God and believed on Him to the saving of their souls, He would have carried out the plan.
Jesus began His work by breaking Satan’s power over the suffering. He restored the sick to health, gave sight to the blind, and healed the lame, causing them to leap for joy and to glorify God. He restored to health those who had been infirm and bound by Satan’s cruel power many years. With gracious words
He comforted the weak, the trembling, and the desponding. The feeble, suffering ones whom Satan held in triumph, Jesus wrenched from his grasp, bringing to them soundness of body and great joy and happiness. He raised the dead to life, and they glorified God for the mighty display of His power. He wrought mightily for all who believed on Him.
The life of Christ was filled with words and acts of benevolence, sympathy, and love. He was ever attentive to listen to and relieve the woes of those who came to Him. Multitudes carried in their own persons the evidence of His divine power. Yet after the work had been accomplished, many were ashamed of the humble yet mighty teacher. Because the rulers did not believe on Him, the people were not willing to accept Jesus. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. They could not endure to be governed by His sober, self-denying life. They wished to enjoy the honor which the world bestows. Yet many followed the Son of God and listened to His instructions, feasting upon the words which fell so graciously from His lips. His words were full of meaning, yet so plain that the weakest could understand them.
Satan and his angels blinded the eyes and darkened the understanding of the Jews, and stirred up the chief of the people and the rulers to take the Saviour’s life. Others were sent to bring Jesus unto them; but as they came near where He was they were greatly amazed. They saw Him filled with sympathy and compassion, as He witnessed human woe. They heard Him in love and tenderness speak encouragingly to the weak and afflicted. They also heard Him, in a voice of authority, rebuke the power of Satan and bid his captives go free. They listened to the words of wisdom that fell from His lips, and they were captivated; they could not lay hands on Him. They
returned to the priests and elders without Jesus. When asked, “Why have ye not brought Him?” they related what they had witnessed of His miracles, and the holy words of wisdom, love, and knowledge which they had heard, and ended with saying, “Never man spake like this man.” The chief priests accused them of being also deceived, and some of the officers were ashamed that they had not taken Him. The priests inquired in a scornful manner if any of the rulers had believed on Him. I saw that many of the magistrates and elders did believe on Jesus; but Satan kept them from acknowledging it; they feared the reproach of the people more than they feared God.
Thus far the cunning and hatred of Satan had not broken up the plan of salvation. The time for the accomplishment of the object for which Jesus came into the world was drawing near. Satan and his angels consulted together and decided to inspire Christ’s own nation to cry eagerly for His blood and heap upon Him cruelty and scorn. They hoped that Jesus would resent such treatment and fail to maintain His humility and meekness.
While Satan was laying his plans, Jesus was carefully opening to His disciples the sufferings through which He must pass—that He would be crucified and that He would rise again the third day. But their understanding seemed dull, and they could not comprehend what He told them.
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