Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
imperfection that can be seen in the famines, droughts, blights, pestilences, volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, tidal waves, deserts, swamps, torrid and frigid temperatures, wastes, etc., man's condition and that of the lower animal creation. Our great telescopes reveal imperfections in other planets and worlds than ours. Yea, astronomy brings to us by photographs the evidence of our eyes on the incomplete conditions of our and other universes than ours; and, of course, any incomplete thing of necessity is imperfect. While we believe that, as time goes on, planet after planet, solar system after solar system and universe after universe will become perfect, through a creative process that will go on eternally, at our present stage of existence the abode of God and the good angels seems to be the only perfected place in the universe. We reject the proposition under review from another standpoint: Even if we for the sake of argument should concede that nature as above defined, apart from man, were perfect, man's imperfect inductive and deductive reasoning powers and the erroneous contents of these powers could not by their sole and unaided use give him a perfect natural revelation. It can give him an imperfect natural revelation only, as all experience and history prove. Hence the conclusion of the argument now under consideration, i.e., the (alleged) perfect revelation that (alleged) perfect nature gives dispenses with the need of a Divine revelation, as an argument is very faulty and untrue indeed, and argues the need of a perfect revelation, which, nature not being able to give, must come from a supernatural source, and, to be a perfect revelation, must come from God, the Source of knowledge.
The following, as a third argument, is advanced against the fact of a Divine revelation: A Divine revelation implies the destruction of human liberty, hence there can be no such thing as a Divine revelation. In this objection the idea of revelation is misrepresented, as though it makes man, figuratively speaking, shut his eyes, open his mouth and with a blank and unquestioning
mind swallow whatever is presented to him in the Divine revelation. The Divine revelation makes no such demand. In offering us His revelation for acceptance or rejection, God does not ask us to submit to arbitrary power and authority, but to yield to no more authority than the authority that truth should have on any honest and reasonable mind and heart (1 Thes. 5: 21; 1 John 4: 1; Acts 17: 11). His revelation invites us to reason with the Revealer on what He presents (Is. 1: 18; 1 Pet. 3: 15; Acts 17: 2). It is true that the idea of a Divine revelation implies that the Revealer takes the place of a Teacher of one who needs to be taught, and that the one to whom the revelation is made takes the place of a pupil who is and needs to be taught, but as one's giving another knowledge not before had, or as one's having a teacher and his becoming a pupil, do not take away the liberty of the one who receives that knowledge or becomes that pupil, so the Divine revelation does not take away the liberty of the one who receives the knowledge that that revelation gives. If to give knowledge destroys liberty, then education by teachers and any other method of impartation of knowledge destroy liberty! This necessary conclusion from the proposition that we are examining explodes the sophism under review.
The following is a fourth argument which some evolutionists offer against the idea of a Divine revelation: The evolution of man brings with it the only revelation that man needs; hence there is no need of any other. Here we have no space to show the erroneousness of the evolution hypothesis, which is more and more being rejected by the world's thinkers. We have sufficiently refuted it in our book, Creation, 539-585, to which we refer our readers for details. The facts of history and experience are in line with the thought that mankind has been deteriorating, not evoluting. So much so is this the case that Mr. Haeckel, who out-Darwined Mr. Darwin himself, as an evolutionist, after the most thorough study of evolution ever given it by an evolutionist,
rejected it in favor of its opposite theory, devolution, i.e., that mankind has been deteriorating and not developing, and that the lower animals, by devolution, first from man through the alleged missing link, and then through decreasingly lower species, sprang from man. But apart from this, we should remember the fact that after over six thousand years—evolutionists would say, millions of years—man by the sole use of his own unaided powers has gotten nowhere in finding out God and the way to become at one with Him. But, putting it as the evolutionist puts it, that man has for at least millions of years been groping after God by his unaided powers, and has not yet arrived at the desired knowledge, when will he ever attain it, if things go on at the past rate, considering that the results so far attained are in utter disharmony and irreconcilability? Will he in another thousand generations attain the much needed revelation? Never, if evolution's chronological claims are conceded. What in the meantime has become of the alleged thousands of evolution's past generations in this matter? What will become of us and of our children of a thousand generations yet to come? Certainly, with such a record and such a prospect as evolution presents, the last people in the world to object to a revelation should be evolutionists!
A fifth objection to a Divine revelation that skeptics make is that the existence of evil in the world precludes the idea that if there is a God, He has the benevolence to reveal Himself to man; for a God of love, they argue, could not permit the suffering that mankind endures. The skeptic's difficulty on this point is due to his inability to reconcile the permission of evil with the Divine benevolence; hence he rejects the idea of God's being benevolent enough to give man a revelation. We believe that if the objecting skeptic would be sufficiently humble, he would not make his inability to harmonize these two matters the reason to reject the idea of God's being benevolent enough to give man a revelation. Proper humility, it seems to us, would make
our skeptic reason thus: It is true that I cannot harmonize these two things; but as there is in nature so much that is true that I cannot understand, I will not make my inability to harmonize these two matters the reason for denying the possibility of a Divine revelation. On this point the poet's words well apply: Blind unbelief is sure to err and scan God's works in vain. God is His own Interpreter; and He will make it plain. A little further on we will show in fair detail in answer to this objection that God's design in permitting evil is a marvelous display of Divine wisdom, justice, power and love. Not to leave here entirely without an answer this objection, we will now give but a brief explanation of why God has permitted evil: In the long run He will make it work for good and that in a twofold way:
(1) Its existence provides Him with the opportunity of fitting in character the faith class among men through their experiences with evil under trial and test to become qualified to deliver the unbelief class from the present evils, and then actually through their experience with it He will in the former class be provided with the agents to deliver the unbelief class when the time for such deliverance comes; and (2) He is permitting the unbelief class by experience, the most effective of teachers, to obtain an education in the hateful nature and bad effects of sin, with the intention to give them after their experience with evil, i.e., in the Millennium, by experience, the best of teachers, another education, one in the blessed nature and desirable effects of righteousness, through the latter blotting out the effects of the earlier experience, that thus, properly educated as to these two principles, they may be favorably disposed to reject the evil and maintain the good under a final trial for everlasting life, by which methods He will, without coercing man's will, bring more to everlasting life and bliss than by any other method of which we can conceive. Thus the permission of evil is seen to be benevolent in present purpose and ultimate results. This answers, though rather tersely,
the objection under consideration; but, as said above, we will discuss this question later with sufficient detail to vindicate fully God's character as to permitting evil.
A sixth objection to a Divine revelation which we will consider, and which was offered by John Stuart Mill, when he was driven to extremity by Butler's argument in his Analogy, on the reasonableness of a Divine revelation as evidenced by the constitution and course of nature, is this: "No evidence is sufficient to prove a Divine revelation." Mill also stressed the preceding objection. The extraordinariness, helplessness and futility of this sixth objection reminds us of Hume's exploded argument against the reality of miracles—that "no evidence can prove a miracle"! In reply we would say that the matter of giving a Divine revelation to man is one of human experience, a matter of history, and is one of human need; and the best way of proving the veracity of an experience to non-observers of it is evidence, testimony; the best way of proving the matter of human need is by correct reasoning; and the best way of proving a thing of history and human need is by a combination of these two methods of proof. While we can, as later on we will, show the reality of a Divine revelation by other proofs than historical evidence, testimony, yet since its original giving is a matter of human experience, history, it certainly can be proved by historical evidence. While giving a Divine revelation is an extraordinary matter, and, therefore, proof of it requires extraordinary evidence; still if such evidence is available, it can and will prove it. Since we prove all human experience by evidence, why should we remove the proof of a Divine revelation from the sphere of evidence, and thus deny the possibility of its proof? Such reasoning, rather lack of reasoning, logically implies that nothing of experience can be proved by evidence, which is absurd. The argument, if admitted in principle, would do away with our courts of law; it would wipe out of existence our books and libraries of history; it would separate us
from the past; and it would even make unprovable who our parents are. For so deep a thinker as was John Stuart Mill to be forced to resort to such an argument as is under examination is a sure proof of the unutterable poverty of argument in his possession on the subject of the possibility of a Divine revelation.
The prior probability of a Divine revelation, connected with the fact that there is in the world a widely spread revelation claiming to be of God, strongly militates against the skeptic's speculations against it, intended to cast doubts on its possibility. As we have shown, man's physical, mental, moral and religious needs demand a revelation. The constitution of his disposition also demands it. He is unable to supply it himself. The various skeptical inventions offered as substitutes for a Divine revelation have not only failed on their theoretical side, but especially on their practical side, inasmuch as they have failed, even in their best representatives, let alone in their other representatives, to lift up their votaries from their depraved condition, to make them victorious over sin, error, selfishness and worldliness, and to render them victorious in wisdom, justice, love and (will) power. The lives of atheists, agnostics, materialists, evolutionists, pantheists, deists and rationalists, great, average and small, prove this. E.g., take the failure of Deism, the noblest of all skeptical beliefs denying a Divine revelation, as an example in proof of the utter impotency of man to overcome in the respects just mentioned by the help of the various skeptical theories offered in lieu of a Divine revelation. Deists have alleged the sentiments of noble heathen, like Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, Epictetus, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, as an evidence against man's need of a Divine revelation. But these men admitted their own failures along ethical lines, and recognized that their theories were too abstruse to affect the commonality. Even the heathenism of Greece, Rome, Egypt, Babylon, India, China and Japan, having absorbed some of the remnants of the primeval revelation, having in some of its influential representatives come in
touch with Old Testament thought before Christ, and having in others of its influential representatives come in touch with Christianity, and absorbed some thoughts from them, despite these advantageous additions, has made an utter failure to uplift fallen man. At the time of Christ it was utterly bankrupt; and it is so now in China, Japan, India and Africa.
On this point we desire to quote from Butler's Analogy a pertinent paragraph: "No man can think the light of nature sufficient, in seriousness and simplicity of mind, who considers the state of religion in the heathen world before [Divine] revelation, and its present state in those places which have borrowed no light from it; particularly the doubtfulness of some of its greatest men concerning things of the utmost importance, as well as the natural inattention and ignorance of mankind in general. It is impossible to say who would have been able to have reasoned out that whole system which we call natural religion, in its genuine simplicity, clear of superstition; but there is certainly no ground to affirm that the generality could. If they could, there is no sort of probability that they would. Admitting there were, they would still highly want a standing admonition to remind them of it, and inculcate it upon them. And further still, were they as much disposed to attend to religion as the better sort of men are, yet even upon this supposition there would be various occasions for supernatural instruction and assistance, and the greatest advantages might be afforded by them." The lesson of the history of heathenism and of skepticism within Christendom cries out with clarion voice that penetrates even the ears of the deafest that man can make no substitute that can effectively make unnecessary a Divine revelation to deliver him.
We now leave the latter of objections to a Divine revelation and pass over to certain lines of thought that will prepare us for the direct proof that the Bible is a Divine revelation. We find that the Bible claims to be a Divine revelation, The Word of God. This is the
claim of the Old Testament (Is. 30: 9; 34: 16; Ps. 1: 2; Dan. 10: 21) and of the New Testament (Heb. 6: 5; 2 Tim. 3: 15-17; Rom. 3: 2; 1 Pet. 4: 11; Luke 11: 28; Heb. 4: 12; 2 Tim. 2: 15; Jas. 1: 18). With such a claim its Old Testament part, as it was increasingly given, has stood before the Jewish nation during the Jewish and Gospel Ages, for a period of about 3,550 years; and it is held by that nation as such. And in its Old Testament and New Testament parts it has stood before the Jewish and Gentile world for approximately 1,900 years, with the claim of being a Divine revelation, and has been accepted as such by many billions of Christian people. A book that has made such a claim for so many centuries, and that has by moral suasion, as against force, convinced billions of people that its pertinent claim is true, certainly comes to us with at least strong enough credentials to merit a serious examination of the question, Is this claim true?
The method of giving the Divine revelation is reasonable, as facts prove. E.g., the fact that it claims in its Old Testament part to have been given through various agents, i.e., outstanding men like Moses, Samuel, David, Solomon, the major and minor prophets, scholars like Ezra, executives like Nehemiah, and that it claims in its New Testament part to have been given by outstanding men like Jesus, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James, Peter and Jude, is in harmony with the order of human history, which proves that great movements and influential results have been initiated, not by the multitudes, nor by the average run of mankind, but by specially endowed and fitted outstanding characters among mankind. This is seen to be the case when the history of religion, state, nobility, capital, labor, art, literature, science, invention, education, philosophy, medicine, law, militarism, etc., is studied. Again, the fact that the Bible was given in its several parts at various times is in harmony with the course that all outstanding more or less finished attainments in each general sphere of human activity mentioned in the
last sentence have taken. In harmony with the same law of human progress in productivity is the further fact that the Bible was given in divers portions as well as in different times (Heb. 1: 1, 2). In harmony with the same law is another fact, that the separate features of the Divine revelation were given progressively, the earlier features being the more simple, and the later being the more intricate. Finally, in harmony with the course followed in preserving the knowledge of preceding generations for the benefit of subsequent generations, i.e., to reduce them to writing, the Divine revelation comes to us in writing; otherwise the revelation to be handed on to coming generations would have to be given anew at least each second or third generation. This disposes of the objection sometimes made to the Bible as a book religion. Thus we see that the method of the Divine revelation, instead of being unreasonable, is highly reasonable, and thus naturally appeals to our acceptance of it as such. This book religion can certify itself, if its contents and accompaniments can be proved to be worthy of truth and acceptance.
The experiences of the deepest thinkers and most saintly characters during the Gospel Age add strength to the claim that the Bible is deserving of an examination as to whether it is a Divine revelation. As examples of deepest thinkers who delved down into the deepest recesses of human thought in their search for religious truth, and who found it in the Bible alone as the Divine revelation, we may cite as outstanding examples the following: Saul of Tarsus (died, 67 A. D.), Apollos of Alexandria (about 75 A. D.), Irenaeus (200), Tertullian of Carthage (between 220 and 240), Origen (254), Arius of Alexandria (366), Augustine (430), Abelard (1142), Thomas Aquinas (1274), Robert Grossetete (1253), Roger Bacon (1294), Marsiglio (about 1343), John Wyclif (1384), John Wessel (1489), Balthasar Hubmaier (1528), Zwingli (1531), Oecolampadius (1531), Luther (1546), Melanchthon (1560), Calvin (1564), Francis Bacon (1626), John
Gerhard (1637), Pascal (1662), Leibnitz (1716), Isaac Newton (1727), Kant (1804), Pasteur (1895), Agassiz (1910), Russell (1916), Milliken (still living), Einstein (still living, a believer in the Old Testament revelation only). If men of their mental caliber found the Bible worthy of study as to whether it is a Divine revelation, and became convinced after deepest thought that it is such, others may well imitate their example in such study, and will, if their hearts prove to have a sufficiency of longing, humility, meekness, honesty, reverence, holiness and goodness, find its proofs for such satisfactory to the severest exactions of the intellect and the deepest yearnings of the heart. Even more convincing on the Bible's worthiness of study as to whether it is the Divine revelation is the fact that those who became the saintliest characters have made of it such a study, and who thereby became convinced that it was such, found it to be the means of transforming their characters into God-and Christ-likeness. We will instance some of these: John (died about 100), Polycarp (165), Ulfilas, Converter of the Goths (381), St. Patrick (about 465), Bede (735), Claudius of Turin (839), Louis the Pious (840), Alfred the Great (901), Peter of Bruys (1126), Henry of Lausanne (1149), Arnold of Brescia (1155), Peter Waldo (about 1215), Louis IX (1270), Tauler (1361), Huss (1415), Kempis (1471), Savonarola (1498), Arndt (1621), Paul Gerhardt (1676), Bunyan (1688), George Fox (1690), Richard Baxter (1691), Spener (1705), Guyon (1717), Quesnel (1719), Franke (1727), Bengel (1752), Fletcher (1785), Charles and John Wesley (1788, 1791), Thomas Campbell (about 1847), Miller (1849), John Edgar (1910), Benjamin Barton (1916), etc. Many mentioned above in our first list as among the deepest of human thinkers also had saintly characters, like those in our second list. We will mention as last, but greatest of all as a deep thinker, a saintly character and, additionally, a practical worker, Jesus Christ, who studied the Old Testament revelation,
and who gave the New Testament revelation, partly in person and partly through others. So great and good a cloud of witnesses should make us study the Bible as to whether it is a Divine revelation.
But not alone has this been done by the deepest thinkers, and most saintly characters. Others of humankind in all stations, walks and activities of life have done so. Artists, educators, scientists, statesmen, inventors, kings, presidents, legislators, nobles, authors, labor leaders, philosophers, judges, physicians, lawyers, military leaders, capitalists, etc., have made it their study. It has been light to the ignorant, comfort to the mourners, relief to the afflicted, strength to the weak, inspiration to the hopeless, joy to the meek, stay to the humble, wealth to the poor, peace to the troubled, guide to the perplexed, wisdom to the simple, knowledge to the unlearned, help to the helpless, uplift to the degraded, forgiveness to the sinful, victory to the tempted and encourager to the dying. In parts it is so shallow that a figurative child can wade in it, and in parts so deep that a figurative whale can dive to his utmost ability and not reach its bottom. It has been the greatest literary influence in the world; yea, its influence on mankind has been and is greater than that of all other books combined. It has favorably influenced and elevated the greatest nations of earth; it has made them such from barbarous, degraded and weak nations; it has banished slavery, eradicated some and curbed other vices, reformed barbarous and cruel habits, laws, and customs, made saints of the just, righteous people of sinners, developed the highest civilization erected by man; it has ennobled man, elevated woman and given the child its fond place in the home, as well as has set forth the highest ideals for husband and wife. As the salt of the earth it has been a seasoning, nourishing and preserving factor in human society, as can be seen from the contrast between society in Christendom and society in heathendom, which has been elevated from its former depths of degradation in direct proportion
to its having yielded to the influence of the Bible. Surely such a book merits study as to its claim of being a Divine revelation. With these remarks we are now prepared to examine the Bible and its accompaniments to see whether it is a Divine revelation.
Having prepared the ground for the presentation of proofs that the Bible is a Divine revelation, it would be well before giving these proofs to point out their kinds and nature. Usually these proofs are called internal and external evidences and a combination of these two. By the internal evidence the contents of the Bible are meant in so far as they go to show that a book containing such contents as the Bible does gives plain evidence of its Divine origin and authorship. Among such features of its contents may be mentioned the plan of salvation contained in the Bible, the marvelous and reasonable character of God that it reveals, the unique character and office of Jesus set forth Scripturally, the self-harmony, reasonableness and factuality of the Scriptures, its teaching and instructions as establishing good and suppressing evil, its solution of the problem of evil's permission, the means that it sets forth to realize its ends, etc. By the external evidences those proofs are meant that have accompanied the giving of the Bible or that accompany its influence in history. These two forms of evidence are found combined in certain proofs, e.g., prophecy and miracles. Prophecy as a part of the Bible belongs, of course, to the internal evidences, but its fulfillment belongs to external evidence; hence in its fullness it is a compound of the two forms of evidence. The same remark applies to miracles. Among the compound evidences we are warranted in placing the types, some of which are didactico-prophetic, e.g., circumcision, the paschal lamb and many of the other institutions of the Mosaic law, and some of which are prophetico-historical, i.e., they shadow forth events that would fulfill historically in the outworking of the Divine Plan, e.g., the history of the family life of Abraham, his wives and children, the
related experiences of Jacob and Esau, etc. We will first consider some of the internal evidences of the Bible as a Divine revelation.
The first of such internal evidences to engage our study is the plan of salvation revealed in the Bible. When it is considered in its general outlines and in its specific details, it commends itself most strongly as of Divine origin; for one short of perfect wisdom, power, justice and love could not have originated it. To prove this proposition we will set forth this plan in its generalities and in some of its details, and then will show how such a plan could not have originated in one short of perfect wisdom, power, justice and love; for every feature of it manifests these qualities in perfection. God's plan is framed to meet the condition of fallen and dying man. All the pertinent facts of experience and observation are to the effect that man is a fallen and dying creature. It is to save the willing of the race that God's plan is framed. This plan has proceeded along the lines of Dispensations and Ages. It is not completed in any one of these Dispensations or Ages, but it develops various of its features in each of them and comes to a completion only as they are entirely completed. In the first Dispensation, from the fall to the flood, the intention evidently was not to save all men, nor even to try to save all men, otherwise these two things would have been attempted and attained, for God never fails of any of His purposes. Rather, in the first Dispensation there were several purposes realized and therefore attempted in the unfolding of God's plan: (1) to prove to men and angels that angels, who were then given charge of the race as teachers, symbolic stars, shining the light of Truth in the night of sin on-the sinners' dark pathway, that they might try to uplift them, are unable to save fallen and dying man; (2) to test the angels, while having such a charge, as to whether they would prove loyal to God amid the trialsome experiences attendant upon such a charge; (3) to manifest as such those angels who would prove
true and those angels who would prove untrue in the trial; (4) to let the then living race learn by experience the bad nature and terrible effects of sin; and, finally, (5) to set aside the then prevailing order of affairs ("the world that then was")—the angels as such symbolic stars and the antediluvian communistic form of society, by the flood, because of the unprofitableness of that order of affairs. Thus the pertinent features of God's plan for that time were realized.
With the end of the flood the second Dispensation, the world that now is, began, and will end with the destruction of its order of affairs during the early stages of Christ's Second Advent. There came over from the first World or Dispensation the angels divided into two groups, good and evil angels, and the race reduced to eight righteous individuals. But this side of the flood no longer was society, the symbolic earth, built upon a communistic basis, but upon the basis of three other social principles: (1) the right of private ownership of property; (2) the competitive form of business; and (3) governmental control in human affairs. The teachers, the symbolic stars or heavens, in this second World no longer have been the angels, but outstanding men, some of whom as the Lord's representatives shed the light of true and progressive knowledge amid the dark night of sin upon the sinners' pathway; and some of whom, deceived by Satan and the fallen angels, shed the delusive light of error amid the dark night of sin upon the sinners' pathway. The true light continued to increase for the righteous and the false light continued to increase for the unrighteous, until now when both have reached a culmination. And during this Dispensation, the righteous have increased in their righteousness and the wicked have increased in their unrighteousness, until now righteousness and unrighteousness have come to their culmination; thus now Truth and error and righteousness and unrighteousness are at their climax in their respective participants. In this condition the second World or Dispensation comes
to an end in a supreme catastrophe, a time of trouble such as never has been since there was a nation, nor ever shall be, by which the present symbolic heavens of true and false symbolic stars and the present symbolic earth of society perverted by sin and error will be set aside. This will end the second Dispensation or the World that now is, not the literal heavens and earth, nor the human race, but the symbolic heavens and earth.
Strictly-speaking, the first and second Dispensations show what man under religious teachers apart from God's direct intervention has done, while the Ages of the second Dispensation show what God has been doing along elective lines. It will be well to note what was, and what was not the Divine intention in the second Dispensation. Evidently it was not God's intention during this second Dispensation to save the race or even to attempt it, otherwise He would have done these two things, and that successfully, since He assures us that all His purposes shall come to pass. What, then, was His design during this Dispensation with mankind in general? As in the first World, He had several designs: (1) to prove to men and angels that fallen and dying men left to their own unaided powers could not only not lift themselves back to the original perfection, but that they would increasingly deprave themselves; (2) to permit the fallen angels to demonstrate their hearts' intentions as respects sin and righteousness amid evil surroundings such as they themselves would largely create and mould; (3) to separate the penitent from the impenitent fallen angels in order that in the third World the former might demonstrate whether they would be fit for a restoration to God's favor in everlasting life; (4) to permit men to have further experiences with evil, that thereby they may better learn its bad nature and terrible effects; and (5) to destroy the perverted order of affairs in the second World, and thus destroy all evil institutions among mankind in the time of trouble with which the second World ends. The outcome of the second World will be that God's plan
will have so advanced matters that the fallen race and the penitent angels will enter the third World, the World to come, in an attitude fitted to be dealt with successfully by the arrangements of that third World, and thus God will have succeeded in the purposes of His plan in its relations to the second World.
The third World will be the order of affairs that God will establish after the destruction of the present order of affairs, the second World. The third World will have as its symbolic heavens Jesus and His faithful followers—the symbolic sun of righteousness, the shiners of the knowledge of Divine Truth upon the children of men, and as its earth a perfect sinless social order, which will gradually be developed during its first Age. Thus there will be in the World to come new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness will be established. And after a final trial of the human family and the penitent angels, which will result in giving everlasting life to the faithful of these and eternal extinction to the unfaithful of these, together with Satan and the impenitent angels, the faithful will in the new heavens and new earth everlastingly reflect credit upon God and Christ amid perfect and sinless conditions. Thus the plan will for men and angels result in everlasting righteousness, innocence and bliss to all who will use life to God's glory, each one's good and the profit of his fellows. Such an outcome, of course, will be to the eternal credit of God. Thus the completed plan for men and angels will prove that the angels could not uplift the fallen race nor give it life, that man by his unaided powers could not accomplish these results, but that God by His way and Agents could and would.
But the above sets forth only such generalities of God's plan as concern men and angels in general without giving certain details that show the outworking of the plan's special features. These special features God has been outworking in the three Ages of the second Dispensation or World and will complete in the first Age of the third Dispensation or World. To under
stand these special features will serve greatly to clarify the Divine plan. The first Dispensation was not subdivided into Ages, because God did not then cause His plan to proceed through various features, as He has been doing in the second Dispensation; for in the first Dispensation He caused His plan to proceed in only one feature of development. In the second Dispensation, however, there has been a three-fold development of His plan, or to put it in another way, His plan has proceeded through three separate features to complete each of which an Age was used. These three Ages may be called: (1) the Patriarchal Age, (2) the Jewish Age, and (3) the Gospel Age. God's purposes in all of these have been elective, but in each Age along different lines from those of the others, i.e., instead of dealing on covenant basis with all men, He selected out of the world certain ones with whom He has so dealt. This selection or election was not done arbitrarily, as Calvinism teaches, for God never Acts arbitrarily, but always in harmony with, and as a result of His character, i.e., a blending of wisdom, justice, love and power. This can be seen from the following: Broadly speaking, the human family consists of two classes: those who will trust Him, even when they cannot trace Him, and those who will not trust Him out of sight, i.e., a faith class and an unbelief class. He selects the former class as His elect, because He designs to train them to become, in the third Dispensation, the deliverers, teachers and uplifters of the non-elect, and because they only by virtue of their faith in Him can stand the trialsome training necessary to qualify them for their work of uplifting the non-elect in the third Dispensation, since this trialsome training tests faith to the utmost of its powers of endurance, with the consequence that if the unbelief class were put upon trial for life under such a trialsome training, everyone of them would be lost, and since the faith class can, with hard effort, stand it.
In the first Age of the second Dispensation, i.e., in the Patriarchal Age, its distinguishing feature was that
God dealt, selectively, on covenant basis with but one patriarch at a time and through him with his family, but so dealt with no one else. Thus electively, to the exclusion of all others, He dealt alone with Abraham on covenant basis and through him with his family, but with no one else. After Abraham's death God's dealings on covenant basis were with Isaac and his family, but with no one else; and after Isaac's death God's dealings on covenant basis were with Jacob and his family, but with no one else. At Jacob's death the Patriarchal Age ended and with it ended God's course of dealing with but one patriarch at a time and his family on covenant basis, because at Jacob's death God's full purposes in the Patriarchal Age were realized. What were these purposes? They evidently were not to save the world, nor even to attempt it, for neither of these things did He accomplish; and since all His purposes come to pass, and these two things did not come to pass, He evidently did not purpose them. But He did accomplish especially four things in that Age; hence they evidently were His pertinent purposes. The first of these was to select and sever from others Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their families to be the depositaries and subjects of the covenant promises that He then designed to reveal. Another of His purposes was to reveal certain things of Himself and His plan to the patriarchs, which He did in giving the Abrahamic Covenant in its generality and certain of its features. Thus He revealed that it was His purpose to use Abraham and his seed to bless in due time all the nations, kindreds and families of the earth. What this promise implies can best be seen when we remember that through Adam all the nations, kindreds and families of the earth have been cursed. It thus implied a reversal of the curse and an offer of restitution of mankind to the original condition of Adam and Eve. There was a third Divine purpose in that Age: to manipulate Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their families into such experiences as would be types of later experiences in the unfolding
of God's people, e.g., Abraham was used to type God as the outworker of the Divine plan; Abraham's three wives were used to type the three great Covenants of God's plan; and the children of these wives to type the classes developed by these three great Covenants. A fourth purpose of that Age was to put the patriarchs and their families under training to qualify them, if they would prove faithful thereunder, to become earthly uplifters of the race in due time. While thus God was dealing electively with these, He allowed the non-elect world to endure its experience with evil under the curse unto death, unhelped in the ways of salvation by Him. We, of course, are not to understand that the non-elect went at death into eternal torment, which is no part of God's plan, but into the death state, an unconscious condition, there to wait until the Lord by elective processes shall have completed their uplifters, as the seed of Abraham, who will in due time bring them back from the dead to get the opportunity of gaining everlasting life, denied them in this life because of unbelieving heart's condition.
As indicated above, at Jacob's death the Patriarchal Age ended, because from then onward until Jesus First Advent God no more dealt on covenant basis with but one patriarch alone and through him with his family, but He dealt on covenant basis with an elect fleshly nation, the children of Israel, including such Gentiles as joined Israel, but with no other individual or nation on such a basis. This covenant basis was the same as prevailed during the Patriarchal Age, until the Mosaic Covenant was added, when the Law Covenant covered all Israelites and the Abrahamic Covenant additionally covered all Israelites indeed, the faith class and only the faith class among them. During this period God recognized and dealt with Israel alone. Hence He did not save nor attempt to save the Gentile world during the Jewish Age; accordingly, neither of these purposes did He then have. With Israel He had the following purposes: (1) to select Israel as the custodians of His
oracles; (2) further to reveal His unfolding plan, which occurred through Moses and the prophets; (3) to demonstrate that none of Adam's fallen and dying race could fulfill God's law, which is the full measure of a perfect man's ability, and that thus all stood in need of a sinless Savior; (4) to manifest the righteousness of the man, the Messiah, who would fulfill the Law; (5) to select the Israelites indeed as the remainder of the fleshly seed of Abraham as blessers of the non-elect world; (6) at the end of the Jewish Age to gather the faithful Israelites indeed and make them the nucleus of the spiritual seed of Abraham whom, as the chief seed of Abraham, God would prepare to be the chief blessers of the non-elect in due time; and (7) to cast off at the end of the Jewish Age the unfaithful part of the Jewish nation as unsuitable for His Gospel-Age purposes with spiritual Israel. Every one of these seven designs of the Jewish Age was realized; and thus it advanced its purposes as to God's plan.
The Gospel Age is the most important period of the second Dispensation. It began at Jesus' First Advent at His coming to John for baptism, when He received the begettal of the Spirit. Of this Age, as of the other two Ages, of this Dispensation, as well as of the first Dispensation, God's purpose was not to save the lost world, nor to attempt to save it, which we infer from the fact that neither of these things occurred; for if such had been His purposes, they would have been accomplished, whereas the purposes that He had in part have been and in part are being accomplished. These purposes are the following: (1) through the obedient life and sacrificial death of Jesus to provide a merit sufficient to satisfy God's Justice for Adam's sin and its resultant sins and to provide a righteousness covering sinners before God; (2) to make further revelations of His plan adapted to the purposes of the Gospel Age; (3) to give a witness to the world of sin, righteousness and the coming Kingdom of God that would bless the non-elect, living and dead, with opportunities of gaining