“Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion.” – Psalm ii. 6.
“Fear not, little flocks for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” – Luke xii. 32.
In compliance with a request made me not long since, I will make some remarks concerning the kingdom of Christ, and the taking away of the first covenant and the establishing of the second; but in so doing I shall only give my understanding of the great and important subjects, not with the view of desiring any of the children of God to accept the views I may advance, unless what I write is sustained by divine testimony.
The Jews, as a nation, were God’s chosen people; and he gave them a law, or placed them under a covenant, giving them precise directions with regard to what was binding upon them, not only in regard to what beasts and birds should be offered, but specific directions regarding all their transactions; therefore the form of government given them was a Theocracy, or directly from God; and there was a plainness and simplicity in the ritual God gave them, which, when they obeyed it, caused peace and order to reign in their midst; but when they heeded not God’s commandments, they experienced much confusion, and at times were sorely dismayed. So simple and plain was the form of government that there were “rulers of tens;” for “ Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard cases they brought unto Moses but every small matter they judged themselves.”
Now national Israel and the service God enjoined upon them were typical of matters of vast importances pertaining to Christ and the church. The vast amount of blood shed upon Jewish altars, in accordance with the command of God, pointed down through the vista of time to the period when Christ, the atoning sacrifice, should be offered, and perfect forever all them who are sanctified; for said the apostle, referring to Abraham, who “ was strong in faith, giving glory to God” that “it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him, but for us also to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered for our offenses, anal was raised again for our justification.” The very term or name, Jew, signifies confession, thanksgiving and praise; but such a meaning did not apply to them as a nation; for instead of being thankful to God and praising him for his divine protection they became a stiff necked people; that is, stubborn and inflexibly obstinate; yet there was a spiritual vein, thus to speak, running through or amongst that people during the long period which God protected them and retained to them a polity. The apostle tells us what constitutes a Jew in the absolute sense of the term. For says he, He is not a Jew which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew which is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” As it would occupy too much space to dwell upon many of the types, I will merely refer to one, as setting forth, in my understanding of it, a great and important truth. “An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnish Offerings, and thy peace-offerings, thy sheep and thine oxen. In all places where I record my name, I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.” It certainly appears to me that this “altar of earth” directly set forth that in the flesh of Christ a complete and final satisfaction would be rendered to the demands of God’s law. After Israel had passed over Jordan, Joshua said, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served, that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Do not Joshua and his house clearly show that Christ and his house, the church, will serve the Lord? “and Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; but Christ as a Son over his own house, whose house are we, [not shall be] if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” As it (the legal dispensation) w as a typical one, and as “almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.”
Immanuel did not come in the flesh to make a more lenient law and place man in a salvable state, and render our God placable and sin pardonable; but, as the apostle declared, “Now once, in the end of the world, [that legal dispensation] hath he appeared, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Eye also came to finish the work which his Father gave him to do; “to finish transgression and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and bring in everlasting righteousness.” Before the Redeemer’s betrayal, trial and crucifixion, he said to the Jews, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” Did the Jews believe that their house was left unto them desolate? Certainly not. Neither do carnal teachers and their votaries to-day believe that the Jewish ritual has been taken away, for the good of God’s dear people and the declarative glory of his name. When the awful moment had fully come, Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” The resurrection of Christ from the dead was unmistakeable evidence that the hand-writing of ordinances was blotted out, which “was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” Was there any other time that he took it out of the way? I know of no other time; and in my understanding it was impossible for the church to be openly manifested in her organization until the removing of the great burden by the death and resurrection of Christ; but the vessels of mercy know nothing of the glory of that work until taught by the spirit of God; and when brought Into the liberty of the gospel, they rejoice that they are no longer under the burden of meats and drinks, carnal ordinances and divers washings. In the resurrection of Christ from the dead, the church was forever freed from the demands of the law of carnal ordinances; and it was said of Christy “I will declare the decree: the Lord bath said unto me, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” “Arise, O Lord, into thy rest, thou and the ark of thy strength.” “When once the Master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the [legal] door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us, and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ate are,” &c. That the law of carnal ordinances binding upon God’s people was completely and forever removed by the death of Christ, is plainly taught in the following declarations: “In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in a sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall, and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off; for the Lord hath spoken it.”
After the resurrection of Christ from the dead, before his ascension, he said to Mary, “Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God.” When the “eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them, and when they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spade unto them, saying, ALL POWER is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” Can there be any greater power than all power? But while a servant under the law, a seeming weakness appeared to attend the Savior. Could there be any limitation of his power when he said to the eleven, “Go ye?” Did he not then take his great power? Had he not then delivered the church? And if so, had he not removed the first dispensation? Had he not taken all that pertained to it out of the way? Was not the Jewish house left desolate? The destruction of the Jews, as a nation, was positive evidence that the old dispensation had been removed; for when a man is literally dead, the form remains for some length of time, but he decays and returns to dust, not to take away his life, but because it is already taken away. Said the Redeemer, “For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together.” Why should the Jewish nation be compared to a carcass? Because God’s purpose concerning them as a people, in their polity, was fulfilled, and his protection withdrawn, and the house left desolate, or a carcass, which must decay; and the Roman army under Titus, compared to eagles, or birds of prey, came according to the purpose of God to demolish and destroy; also, the eagle on the Roman banner was clearly emblematical that they had come, or gathered around the carcass, to do the will of God, in destroying the temple and dispersing the little remnant of the Jews saved from death. And it was remarkable that the siege of Jerusalem was not so long as Titus expected it would be; but the Lord said, “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh [of the Jews] be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened;” which awfully solemn asservation of Christ so sweetly harmonizes with the prophecy made so long before, “Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.” That in the destruction of Jerusalem the Lord himself assumed the command of the Roman armies and directed their “movements,” is freely and joyfully admitted; also, he directed the “movements” of Pharaoh and his host, drowning them in the Red Sea. He directed the “movements” of Cyrus and his army; yea, he directed the “movements” of Napoleon Bonaparte and his army, as well as the allied powers in the battle of Waterloo; and our God has directed and will continue to direct the “movements” of all armies, until his purpose concerning the nations of earth is fulfilled.
Could king David hasten the time for himself “to smite the host of the Philistines?” No; but “let it be, when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt bestir thyself; for then shall the Lord go out before thee to smite the host of the Philistines.” Neither could the disciples hasten the time for the wonderful manifestation of the power of the Holy Ghost. “Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of my father upon; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high. And he led them out as far as Bethany; and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass while he blessed them, he was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.”
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.” Was not there then “the sound of a going,” not in the tops of the mulberry-trees, but in the house in which God had appointed that such an amazing display of his power should be openly manifested? Most certainly there was; for “there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them; and they were filled wit the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. * * * And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others, mocking, said, These men are full of new wine. But peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice and said unto them, Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words; for these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. [About nine o’clock a. m.] But this [right now, at this very time,] is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” Then the reference is made to the prophecy of Joel, which, when declared by the prophet, was in the future, so far as the manifestation was concerned, but not in the future with our God. While the one class in that assembly mocked, there were other characters, “when they heard (this) they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? [Not what shall we do to be saved, for they were already saved.] Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, [not to remit] and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. * * * Then they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there was added (unto them) about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in prayers.” If the church of Christ was not visibly manifested upon the day of Pentecost, I am at a loss to know when it was; and if then openly organized, certainly the kingdom of Christ was set up; for in the book of Daniel it is positively declared that “in the days of these kings [the dynasties of the Cesars] shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” All familiar with history know that during the reign of the Cesars, or Roman emperors, our Savior was born, lived, died, and rose again; also that the church was organized during their reign. And was not the church of the kingdom of God which Daniel spake of? Was there an interregnum after the ascension of Christ, and no reigning king? If so, the New Testament contains no account of it. Our dear Redeemer, while in the flesh, said to Peter, “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, [not heaven, but the kingdom, the church in her militant state] and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” If on the day of Pentecost Peter was endued with power “from on high,” did he not have the keys, or, in other words, understand the laws of Zion? Was he not authorized and empowered by his Lord and Master to give the instructions, precepts and commandments which the children of God were placed in the kingdom of Christ? If not then, were shall we find the record made of the time he did receive the keys, or was thus empowered? Are not the decisions of the apostles of Christ final in all matters pertaining to the discipline of the church? The writing of the twenty-one epistles did not empower the apostles to proclaim the precepts, examples and injunctions binding upon God’s children, as members of the visibly organized church, but because they were already empowered thus to do. Said the Savior, “But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the kingdom of God.” On another occasion the Redeemer said, But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” “Who hath delivered us form the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear; for our God is a consuming fire.”
Since the day of Pentecost there have been many changes in the governments of earth, besides the destruction of the Jewish nation; anal the children of God have, at times, suffered bloody persecution; but do any or all of those effects change the fact that the church was organized on the day of Pentecost, and that Christ had all power in heaven and earth, and reigned King in Zion then? Can there be any greater power than all power? If the church was not organized on the day of Pentecost, when was its And where shall eve find the scripture giving us the directions in the matter? If the apostles were not then endued with power from on high, when were they’d If they did not then receive the kingdom, when did they? If it can be shown from scripture testimony (not men’s notions about things which transpired before and since the sets ting up of the kingdom) that there was some other period than the day of Pentecost that the church was organized and the disciples received the Embower to give the laws unto the children of God, it certainly would be of much interest to me, as an individual, to have such portions of scripture pointed out; but until they are, I am satisfied with the belief that the day of Pentecost was the time.
As it regards what was shown unto the beloved disciple “in the isle that is called Patmos,” we should remember that John “was in the spirit on the Lord’s day,” and be very careful not to materialize the wonders revea1ed unto him, too much; for in so doing we shall give wrong interprets trolls, and bewilder the minds of God’s children, instead of imparting instruction. In the twenty-first chapter of Revelation, wonderful things were shown to John concerning “the holy city, Few Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven;” for the record therein made is, “And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, [not in purpose, but complete in every particular] the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,” &c. Could it descend from God, and descend OUT OF heaven, if it was not completed?
Certainly not; and the manifestation here on earth is the evidence of that. “And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in there the names [not their flesh and blood, for “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.”] of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” There was a clear vision of the church presented unto John “in the spirit;” and it does not in the least change the glorious truth concerning the fullness of the church, or “the fullness of him that filleth all in all,” because she is manifested here on the earth. Said the prophet Isaiah, “In the year that king Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord Sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.” Was there not a complete fullness? Did not the train fill the temple? Certainly it did; and did not that train show that with our God there is a complete fullness of the church?
Now it certainly is true, that, in all matters of discipline, a gospel church must abide by the decisions of the apostles, if she obeys God’s commands; and although, they, as men, have been dead for centuries, their decisions remain in full force, and are just as binding upon the church now, as when they were upon the earth; and to-day there is no ground for an appeal to any higher tribunal. Concerning the organizing of the church, and the setting up of the kingdom of heaven, and Christ’s taking his great power (all power in both worlds) what difference does it make, whether it was a month, a year, or many years, after the day of Pentecost, that Saul of Tarsus was brought to a knowledge of the truth? for it does not say the apostles were the foundation, but that there were twelve foundations and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
What portion of the Old Testament prophecies yet remains to be fulfilled, I am not able to tell; neither do I pretend to know what part of the wonders, shown John in “the isle that is called Patmos,” has been accomplished; and I am equally satisfied that no man now living on the earth knows; but one thing is certain, God’s purpose will be executed. I hare been contending for over thirty years, as God has enabled me, that the church was organized on the day of Pentecost: also, that the church is Christ’s kingdom, and that he received (or took) his great power, when all power was given him. I would say to the dear brother making the request of me, that I have briefly given him my views, concerning the kingdom of heaven, or the kingdom of Christ; and I desire you, my dear brother, to read the remarks carefully, and compare them with the testimony of scripture; and I will forward my remarks to brethren Beebe & Son to publish in the SIGNS OF THE TIMES, in compliance with your request.
WILLIAM J. PURINGTON.
Hopewell, N. J., Dec. 31, 1879.
Signs of the Times
Volume 48, No. 3
February 1, 1880