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THE DESIGN AND END OF THE ADVENT OF CHRIST.

A correspondent in Ohio desires our views on John 18:37. “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.”

And sister F.L. Bagg, of Illinois, has requested our views on John 1:9. “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” First, as to the light, and then as to every man who is lightened.

As in our understanding of them, both passages involve substantially the same doctrine, we propose to embrace what we have to say on them in this article. We will however notice then in the order presented. The Savior of sinners was under arrest, he stood at the bar of Pilate, many grievous charges had been made against him by the Jews, and false witnesses had been bribed to testify against him, that he might be condemned to death. Pilate, who presided as judge, seemed to be greatly perplexed, knowing that it was for envy that the Jews had delivered him, and after a searching investigation could find no fault in him; he was afraid to condemn him, and still more afraid to release him, for fear of offending his murderous persecutors.

Among other questions, Pilate asked Jesus, “Art thou a king then?” To which Jesus replied in the words proposed for consideration. “Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” Our Lord Jesus Christ in his Mediatorial office and work is the only medium of divine revelation. All the secrets of eternity would have remained forever sealed up from the human family, if the Lion of the tribe of Judah had not prevailed to take the book, and open the seals thereof. No other being was found in heaven, or on earth, or under the earth, that was worthy; every other communication was closed forever. Darkness covered the earth, and gross darkness the people. Men by wisdom knew not God. The result of all the speculations of men, in all their vain researches, had utterly failed to find out God, and the wisdom, science and philosophy of men had only demonstrated their total ignorance of the true God and eternal life, while they had filled the world with many thousand idols, and involved the world in pagan darkness and superstition. God had hidden these things from the wise and prudent of the world, because so it seemed good in his sight. But behold, in due time the Messenger of the covenant made his advent to our benighted world, bearing the secrets of eternity, and as the “Faithful and true Witness,” proclaimed, “All things are delivered unto me of my Father; and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” Matt. 11:27. All the knowledge which the prophets and holy men of old had of spiritual and eternal things, was revealed to them by him, and through him, “For the testimony {or witness} of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Rev. 19:10. “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you; searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” I Pet. 1:10,11. To this end, and for this cause was Jesus born, and came into the world, to bear witness unto the truth. All that had been testified by his Spirit in the prophets concerning his incarnation, sufferings, and the glory that should follow, would have lacked confirmation, had he not come into the world as it was written of him. He had said by his prophets in the testimony of his Spirit in them, “Lo, I come; in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart.” Psa. 40:6, Heb. 19:9. His coming then into the world by a birth, was indispensably necessary to bear witness to the truth of what was written in the volume of God’s book concerning him. But, not only in confirmation of the promise of his coming, but his advent was equally indispensable for the verification of all that was written of him in the law and the prophets, and in the psalms. THE TRUTH, for the demonstration of which he came into the world, embraces the whole economy of grace, of which as the faithful and true witness he testified, is for ever established and irrefutably demonstrated by him, and this testimony includes his life, death, resurrection, and his inauguration as the King of saints, together with all spiritual revelation. He is the way, and the truth, and the life, and no man cometh unto the Father but by him. So vitally important is his witness, or testimony, that no point in the doctrine, order, or ordinances of his kingdom, can be established independently of it. We must have a “Thus saith the Lord” for our faith and practice, if we are his disciples. And to know that we are embraced in his salvation, we must have his Spirit to bear witness with our spirit that we are born of God. It was on no uncertain enterprise, and for the accomplishment of no indefinite work that he came into the word. In his ministry he has identified the truth in his own person, saying, “I am the Truth;” in his word witnessing, Thy word is truth; and in exposing all the hidden things of dishonesty. Now, as the witness which he bears makes the truth of God manifest, and as whatsoever maketh manifest is light, we shall see that the text in John 1:9, proposed by sister Baggs, is in perfect harmony with that on which the foregoing remarks have been written.

“That was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” The particular light here designated as the “true light,” is unquestionably the same which in the fourth verse was in our Lord Jesus Christ. “In him was light, and the light was the life of men.” It is the refulgent brightness of his Father’s glory, the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, shining in the face of our Lord Jesus Christ. His brightness, the prophet says, was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand, and there was the hiding of his power. Hab.3:4. It is the light disclosed by testimony as the witness, faithful and true. The light shining from him as the Sun of Righteousness, which ushered in the gospel day, is the true light, in distinction from all the lights of nature, of reason, or of human science. Although men may denounce it as darkness, for they call all light darkness, and darkness they call light; but to all those in whose hearts God has shined, it is marvelous and true. But what avails the resplendent beams of noon to them that are blind, or dead? The light shines upon the dead and blind as well as upon the living, who have eyes to see and enjoy it. As light maketh manifest, so by the true light every thing is made manifest. This true light reveals to those, who have eyes, all things exactly as they are. The Jews who trusted in their own legal righteousness are exposed by this light. “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin; but now they have no cloke for their sin.” John 15:22. Such is the effect of light, it makes manifest that which the darkness concealed. There is a wide difference between lighting and enlightening. Every man that cometh into the world is manifested in his real character by the true light; for it discriminates between life and death, between truth and error, between nature and grace. The sense in which it is said, “That was the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,” cannot be rendered enlightened, without conflicting with the immediate connection. He who is this true light was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. The world then was not enlightened; yet the true state of the world was made manifest by this true light. The natural sun lightens the natural world, and shines as well upon the blind as on such as can see. It lightens the inanimate as well as the living. The world must be the same world into which the incarnate Word came, when the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us; the same world which was made by him, and yet knew him not. The world by wisdom knew not God. None of the princes of this world knew him; for if they had known him, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But the light of revelation so shines upon the hidden things of dishonesty as to bring them to light. It shineth in even darkness itself, but the darkness comprehendeth it not. Paul as an apostle, on the throne of judgment, by the immediate inspiration of the Holy Ghost, has forever settled the matter of the utter inability of man to approach unto or to see this true light. He testifies that the “Blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see.” I Tim. 6:15,16. It is not in the power of man to see, or to make any advance towards seeing this true light. Although by it clearly manifested, exposed, and made manifest to those members of Christ who, in his light, have light, and who, being born of him who is the true light, are the children of the light, and the children of the day, and whose eyes are blessed, and made to see the things which are revealed to them by the Spirit. So the same apostle says, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.” That light therefore which men have power to approach unto, which has been seen, and can be seen, which can be taught and learned as a science in schools, and comprehended by the mental powers of men, is not the true light into which the Blessed and only Potentate translates his children when he delivers them from the power of darkness. The difference between a person or thing being lighted, or enlightened, may be illustrated by many scriptural examples. The candles and lamps in the temple were lighted, but not enlightened; for neither candles, nor lamps have power to see; yet the light shines on them, or lightens them. “As the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part,” &c. Luke 17:24. Yet the lightning can only be seen by those who have eyes. While all things are made manifest by the light to those who have the capacity to see, no others are enlightened by it. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Light of the world, and he said, “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.” John 12:46. And in the preceding verse he says, “And he that seeth me, seeth him that sent me.” As he also said to Philip, “He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father.” They who see the Father, are enlightened; for he can only be seen in the light of the Son; for no man, knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him. Yet the blindness and darkness of all others is exposed and made manifest by this true light. If thine eye be single, or enlightened, the whole body is full of light; for God hath shined in the hearts of his children, to give them the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ. Thus they are enlightened. But if thine eye be evil, the whole body is full of darkness. Such, although made manifest by the true light, are not enlightened by it. “To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isa. 8:20. Scribes, pharisees and hypocrites, while concealed in darkness, were regarded as a very pious people; but when the true light came, they were exposed by it. “He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” John 3:18-21.

Middletown, N.Y.
May 15, 1870.
Elder Gilbert Beebe