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CORRESPONDENCE.

State Road, Del., January, 1899.

Brother Beebe: – I will offer for the consideration of yourself and your readers, some reflections upon the following Scripture: “And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” – Rev. xxi. 6.

In undertaking to speak of the works and ways of God, we are, or ought to be, confined to what God has been pleased to reveal. Beyond this we know nothing, and it does not become us to be iudulging in sentiments and speculations in regard to the divine government, beyond anything attempted by inspiration. Men have not hesitated to adapt phrases and theories, and maintain them in heated and bitter controversies, when they are actually dealing with questions involving the perfections of Jehovah, and about which we know not whereof we speak. If we would confine ourselves to speaking only what we know, we should find a response in the hearts of others who know the same things, having learned them in the same way. I know nothing about dividing up the Godhead in to different persons and offices. God has never revealed himself unto men only in and through the person of Christ. And in that revelation is made known all the fullness of the Godhead. “God is a Spirit.” What can we know, or what can we say of a Spirit! I remember saying among the first writings that I ever did, that darkness could not comprehend light, and that flesh in its highest attainments could not comprehend Spirit. We are not Spirit, but corporeal beings, and we are confined to such language as corporeal beings can understand. Hence the inspired writers use terms such as are used and understood among men, because they are speaking to men, and must use terms that have some meaning among men. When Paul was caught up to the third heaven, he had no language by which he could convey to the understanding of his brethren what he had seen and heard. We forget that God is not altogether such a one as ourselves, else we would be cautious as to reflections upon his Providence. The Spirit is many times in the Scriptures said to be life. The Spirit of God is life in men if it has been conferred upon them, or is anything to them. God as a Spirit is one Spirit always the same, and all the events that ever take place are only the development of what was before unknown to us. We purpose things because it is a necessity of our being, and of our continually returning needs. But when we use the term with regard to the divine government, it is an eternal and unchangeable purpose. It was eternally in and of himself. When he that sits upon the throne says to John, “It is done,” he is speaking of the redemption of the Lord’s people. He does not speak of it as something just then finished, but as something of which he himself is both the beginning and the ending, and embodying all within himself. There is no word or term that can be spelled with letters, that will express something that was not in and with him. He is Alpha and Omega, and all that lies between the beginning and the end. The apostle makes comparison with the creation. It was in the beginning, and I can not get beyond the beginning. That work has been developing ever since, but nothing more created. We dare not say that anything more will ever be created, or anything more needed. We may know but little yet comparatively of what was embraced in that original creation. There never has been any need of prearranging or foreproviding for any emergency that has ever arisen; there will not be. “It is done.” The apostle goes right on to say that the work of redemption was finished from the foundation of the world. I would not dare to say that there was a time when it was not finished, because Christ is the Spirit and life of it, and the Alpha and Omega, embodying all within himself. God did rest from creation work because there was nothing left to do. The believer also rests from his own works as God did from his. He that sits upon the throne says, “Behold I make all things new.” Not I intend to make, or I will make, but I make. All things quickened by the Spirit of God are made new. And he is the Spirit and life of that new heavens and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. When the Spirit of life from God entered into the witnesses they were constituted witnesses, and stood upon their feet. We must needs prearrange and foreprovide, as we have to depend upon our own exertions for the supplies that we have not within ourselves. The Spirit that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, is the same Spirit that dwells in all the saints, and the apostle’s testimony is that it is Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day and forever. We may use such terms as foreknowledge or afterknowledge among ourselves, because things come that way to us, but we ought to know that with him, in whom is both the beginning and ending of all things, there is no significance in such terms. Everything is present and naked and open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do. Do we know the Spirit of Christ in the saints? Is it a holy and pure Spirit? Can we trace it to a source from which nothing unholy or impure can possibly emanate! The Spirit of Christ implanted in his people to be the life that they afterward live constitutes their salvation. Hence it is Christ in them the hope of glory. He is glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe. The Spirit of God, or of Christ, is one Spirit, and its development is always unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. By such expressions as “From before the foundation of the world,” and, “Or ever the earth was,” we are not to understand that at a certain remote date certain things were arranged and determined upon, but that they were always present with God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” It does not say that he began there, but that in the beginning he was there. In this Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to John, he is seen seated upon the throne, embodying all the powers and prerogatives of unlimited dominion, so that there is no place found for anything else. Keeping close along with the record of what has been revealed, it is difficult to conceive of a place or room for what would be implied in such terms as predetermine or predestine, as everything is already embraced in the kingdom and government of the Redeemer. There is nothing left for which to provide or to destine at all. Looking at the extent and dominion of the great white throne, I call to mind that the word “predestination,” does not have much place in the inspired testimony. Those holy men of old that spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, beginning at Moses through all the prophets and the Psalms, the term never is used by any of them. Christ in his preaching and conversation, never used the terra. The sermons that the apostles preached throughout their ministry, the word does not occur in any record we have of them. One writer, and but one of the New Testament writers, ever uses the term, and that on but two occasions. The use made of the term by the apostle Paul is exclusively in reference to the salvation of the Lord’s people, and it is not used as implying that any new or additional arrangements should be made, or any contingency provided for. The Redeemer’s throne is high and lifted up, and he must reign until all enemies are under his feet. He was manifested to destroy the works of the devil, and all the powers of heaven and earth are in his hand. It was said away back yonder that he should finish transgression, make an end of sin, make reconciliation for iniquity, and bring in everlasting righteousness, and seal up the vision, and prophecy. It would seem clear enough that nothing remained but to await the development of that kingdom which is an everlasting kingdom, and that dominion which is from generation to generation. Among believers there is no question but what the wickedness of men is under divine control. So far they can go, but no farther. We could not have faith in the promises if we did not know that what God had promised he was able also to perform. The word “predestination,” that I have made reference to, is not intended in the Scripture to conflict with any of the divine testimony, and really does not seem to warrant the wrangles and debates that have resulted from it. It is striving about a word to no profit. It was never designed to produce estrangement among brethren. While I am minded to keep in line and within the bounds of divine revelation, it would not be easy to get outside the revelation of that salvation of which Christ is the beginning and the ending, the first and the last, the Almighty.

I am willing to let these reflections stand upon their own merits, and submit them to the judgment of the brethren. In all the lessons of fifty years’ experience, the same voice has seemed to come to me that came to the evangelist, saying, The work of salvation is done, the beginning and the ending being in Christ. To him be all the glory.

E. RITTENHOUSE.

Signs Of The Times
Volume 67, No. 3.
FEBRUARY 1, 1899.