Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
else can prove effective. God's love has for nearly 1900 years been calling the world to repentance, but apart from a comparatively few the world has not repented. This call to repentance has been a marvelous exhibition of longsuffering and patient love toward the sinful race; for it has been accompanied with many blessings, which are all the greater expressions of love when the fact that they were bestowed on enemies is considered. Moral suasion accompanied with much and long-drawn-out kindness failing, there is no other recourse for the love that earnestly longs for man's deliverance from sin, error and death, than to resort to the rod with only that degree of severity necessary to put man into a salvable condition by humbling him and thus fitting him obediently to receive the only means that will deliver him—the Kingdom of God. Thus we can see Divine love in the greatest wrath.
The organization of God's kingdom with perfect adaptation for man's deliverance from evil and uplift into perfection will be another exhibition of Divine love. The establishment of Christ and the Church as the controlling power in the kingdom is an action of love, because they will have characters adorned with all the mercy necessary to make allowance for human weakness and ignorance, with all the faithfulness necessary to apply unto a completion the varied means for man's reformation, with all the knowledge necessary to apply these means efficiently and with all the will power necessary to persevere in the good work unto the end, as they will be clothed with God's authority and power to inaugurate and to control completely every Millennial condition. Certainly Divine love is apparent in such an organization of the controlling part of the kingdom. So, too, Divine love is manifest in the organization of the three subordinate parts of the kingdom—the Ancient Worthies to act as the main visible representatives of the invisible Christ in establishing and operating the main visible agencies and means for
ruling and blessing mankind, the Youthful Worthies to act as the less important visible representatives of the invisible Christ in establishing and operating the less important visible agencies and means for ruling and blessing man, and the Great Company as the invisible and subordinate agents of the invisible Christ in supporting the two visible parts of the kingdom and in executing the disciplinary orders of the Christ Class. Such an organization of the kingdom will be just the thing to suppress every feature of the curse, introduce its opposite good features and bring the willing and obedient into sympathetic oneness and cooperation with the kingdom arrangements, whereby they will be delivered from every part of the curse, be given all the blessings of restitution and be prepared for the paradisiac earth. When we think of the lavish abundance of goodness that will be ministered through this arrangement in its healing, uplifting and perfecting effects, we must recognize the love of God as acting in the Millennial arrangements for man's uplift.
So, too, will the love of God be manifest in the final test at the end of the Millennium, because this test will be for the purpose of establishing truth and righteousness eternally in the restored human family. God's delight in good principles and His delight to preserve them forever— features of disinterested love—of course, in the nature of the case, will operate in that final test.
The sentence to, and the execution of eternal destruction on those who chose evil under that final test, while primarily matters of Divine power and justice, will nevertheless be accompanied by love; for love will be willing to have them blotted out in order to destroy all sin, to prevent the wicked from suffering eternally and to keep eternally the good from mental suffering, and thus will God secure the undisturbed permanence of good. And as these results could not be attained so
long as sinners exist, love in its delight to support good, will co-operate in the destruction of the wicked.
Of course Divine love will be exercised in rewarding those found faithful in the final trial. It will take delight in blessing them with every good pleasure, possession, condition and progress. Before they call He will answer, and while they are yet speaking He will hear. With lavish profusion will Jehovah gratify their every desire; and this will eternally draw out their love, appreciation, hope, faith and obedience. Thus Divine love will triumph in blessing with every good thing those who will use their blessings to their own and others' profit and happiness and to God's credit and pleasure. Surely all of the considerations presented in this article prove that God is love. And His great love calls out our love; for we love Him, because He first loved us.
In our discussion of God's higher primary attributes of character we now come to the fourth and last—power. We have in the preceding chapter discussed God's power as an attribute of His being, and will not treat of it in that sense in this chapter. Rather, as our subject implies, we desire in this chapter to study power as an attribute of character. One may ask, What is the difference between power as an attribute of God's being and power as an attribute of God's character? We answer, The former is an attribute of God's body, whereby He can by His strength do whatever He wills; the latter is an attribute of God's heart and mind, whereby He rules Himself in well doing and perseveres therein with cheerful endurance in spite of obstacles. Thus the external work of the creation and preservation of the universe and of the execution of His Plan are examples of His power as an attribute of His being, while the internal strength of will necessary to rule Himself in well doing and to persevere in well doing with cheerful endurance in spite of any obstacle arising in the course of His
works of creation and providence and of the execution of His Plan, are examples of His power as an attribute of character. When under the symbol of a lion in Rev. 4 and Ezek. 1 God's attribute of power is represented, we are to understand that God's power is there set forth in the sense of an attribute both of His being and character. But having already discussed power as an attribute of His being, we will here study power as an attribute of His character.
Power, then, as an attribute of character means strength of the disposition and will—the mind and heart—primarily along the lines of wisdom, justice and love, and secondarily along the lines of other mind and heart qualities. It is a universal grace, yea, we may call it the universal grace, because it is the only one which, when properly functioning, rules and reinforces every other grace. Its function, therefore, is primarily executory, for it makes all the other qualities act. Other graces supply the proper motives for action; this one makes them execute the action. It puts its strength back of the motives that prompt to action and by the instructions of wisdom makes them work in the performance of the action. Thus power is related to wisdom, justice and love. The relation is this: Wisdom supplies a tactful plan for an action in harmony with justice and love; then justice and love supply the main motives for the action, and power takes this plan and puts back of justice and love its strength to make them carry out the plan. This is precisely the way the four higher primary Divine attributes acted in making, and are acting in carrying out, the Divine Plan of the Ages. It is necessary for us to see this primary function of power properly, if we would be in a position to understand power as an attribute of God's character. In a word, its function is primarily executory—it executes wisdom's plans, harmonized with and propelled by justice and love. In exercising this executive function
power suppresses the activity of non-pertinent qualities and uses other pertinent qualities than justice and love to support these as motives. Thus in support of justice and love, acting in the execution of wisdom's plans, power, as the needs of the case demand, will use secretiveness, combativeness, aggressiveness, self-esteem, friendship, patriotism, etc. This suppressing and supporting function of power may be called its secondary function. And the result of such functional activities of power in us is an increased strengthening of power as an attribute of character and an increased strengthening of our other good qualities—a result, of course, which it cannot have in God, since He is and always was infinite in power as an attribute of character.
Power as an attribute of character, both in God and in us, consists of two elements—self-control and patience. Self-control alone rules the heart and mind in God and us amid ordinary experiences and situations. But when obstacles present themselves self-control, both in God and us, is reinforced for purposes of self-rule, by patience. Self-control works through the faculty of firmness; patience works through the faculty of continuity. There is a very widespread error as to the nature of patience. Most people regard it as synonymous with longsuffering. This is a mistake, as a definition of these two qualities will show. Longsuffering—the opposite of anger—is a calm and unresentful carriage of oneself amid naturally exasperating circumstances; while patience—the opposite of inconstancy—is joyfully enduring perseverance, continuity, stick-to-itiveness, steadfastness in well-doing despite obstacles. When we therefore speak of power as an attribute of Jehovah's character we mean His strength of self-control and perseverance. These two qualities have been constantly manifesting themselves in connection with Jehovah's activities. Let us look at the salient features of God's
Plan and observe how these two qualities have characterized Jehovah in the outworking of His Plan.
When God's foresight apprized Him of the fall of man and of some angels, His self-control sustained Him to make a plan suitable for their needs as to deliverance, and His patience persevered unto a complete making of that plan. God's self-control ruled Him in making men and angels and His patience persevered in that work until it was completed. Self-control and patience backed justice and love in putting man and angels on trial, as they have supported these in executing the sentence for disobedience under that trial. For upward of 6,000 years God has permitted evil in man and fallen angels and therein has manifested great self-control and patience from the standpoint of His purpose in its permission. How great has been God's self-control and patience in relation to the persecutions and sufferings of His people, inflicted by the wicked! The course of Cain toward Abel, of the antediluvians toward Noah, of Laban toward Jacob, of Jacob's sons toward him and Joseph, of Pharaoh and the Egyptians toward Israel, Moses and Aaron, of the Israelites toward Moses and the prophets and of the oppressive nations toward Israel throughout the Jewish Age, required and was attended by self-control and patience on the part of Jehovah.
Even a more marked exercise of power—self-control and patience—on God's part is manifest in His attitude and acts connected with the sufferings of Jesus and His faithful followers. The mental sufferings that Jesus underwent, especially in Gethsemane and on Calvary, required the exercise of self-control and patience in Jehovah to permit them. To see His beloved Son endure the contradiction of sinners against Himself, in the murmurings, disputings, harassings, accusations and revilings of the scribes, Pharisees and priests, in the buffetings, mockings and torturings of the soldiers, and in the rejections, execrations
and derisions of the mobs, called for Jehovah to exercise self-control and patience in carrying out a sacrificial feature of His Plan amid such circumstances. To hear Himself blasphemed, His character and Plan misrepresented, and His righteous laws and gracious favors set at naught, certainly demanded self-control and patience on His part, in order to carry out His arrangements in the presence of such conditions. How often did the persecutions, the misrepresentations and the cruelties exercised against the Gospel messengers and people in the Harvest of the Jewish Age require Jehovah to exercise self-control and patience in carrying forward the purposes of that Harvest! Certainly the rise of false teachers among the brethren at that time, the development of the great apostasy immediately afterward, the rise of the clergy class among God's people, the development of a hierarchy out of the clergy class, and of the papacy out of the hierarchy, the crushing of the Truth, the union of Church and State, the perversion of the mission of the Gospel-Age Church, the persecution and overpowering of the saints, particularly of their leaders, the exaltation of the unfaithful, the tortures of the Inquisition, the oppression and degradation of the laity by the clergy, the proscription of the Bible and other Truth writings, the violence of wars, massacres, exilings, the devastations of homes and countries, against Truth and righteousness, and the distress of His oppressed children, as expressions of Antichrist's wrath against the Lord, His cause and His people, must have greatly required the exercise of self-control and patience in God.
Emerging out of the Dark Ages God's faithful people have had to suffer in the Reformation period a double set of injuries. On the one hand, the papacy kept up its terrible opposition of them, and on the other hand, later reformers and their supporters had to endure the opposition of the previously existing
Protestant sects. The Presbyterians persecuted the Baptist and Servetian reforming brethren. The Episcopalians and Presbyterians persecuted the Congregational and Quaker reforming brethren. The Episcopalians more mildly persecuted the Methodists. All of these in still milder forms persecuted the Christians and Adventists. And the Harvesters were persecuted by Catholics and Protestants of all sects. As God viewed His people, crying out by their sufferings, but not by their words, "How long, O Lord?" we may be sure that His self-control and patience had to be active to keep right on in the carrying out of His Plan despite the incidental sufferings to which His people have been exposed through Catholic autocracy and Protestant sectarianism. Nor are these all the sufferings through which God's Elect have had to pass and yet must pass. The late war brought considerable sufferings upon the Little Flock, Great Company and Youthful Worthies. They have yet to pass through tribulations to be brought upon them through certain civil powers at the instigation of the symbolic beast and false prophet. Doubtless the strenuous times of the future parts of the Great Tribulation will bring much sufferings upon them. All these experiences will call forth the exercise of Jehovah's self-control and patience; for He loves and deeply feels with His people. "In all their affliction He was afflicted." He will also exercise self-control and patience at the sufferings of the Ancient and Youthful Worthies and of the faithful Restitution class during the trying experiences of the Little Season, when Satan with great wrath comes forth and works deceptions. Thus we see that the sufferings of God's people from the beginning have called upon God to exercise self-control and patience in order to work out His Plan in connection with such sufferings.
Jehovah has likewise had to exercise self-control and patience in connection with the wickedness of
fallen men and angels. Above we showed His power acting in connection with their suffering evil. Here we would show it acting in connection with their sin. The wickedness of Satan in rebellion, ingratitude, deceitfulness, power grasping, in tyrannizing over and debauching the race for many millenniums, in entrapping the incautious angels before the flood, in organizing and administering a kingdom opposing God's Plan and in seeking most wickedly to blaspheme and misrepresent God's character, person, word and work, to thwart God's work, to seduce His servants, to incite others against them and to do them unto ruin and death, has undoubtedly occasioned God to exercise self-control and patience as He in spite of these things proceeded on His course of carrying out His Plan. The co-operation of the demons with Satan in his wicked course, consisting mainly of the things enumerated in the preceding sentence, increased the occasion of God's exercising self-control and patience in carrying out His Plan amid such a wicked course on the part of the fallen angels as Satan's co-operators. And what shall we say of man's wickedness as making conditions prevail in which it became necessary for God to apply power as an attribute of character in the way of self-control and patience? The idolatries, grossly material and refinedly mental, the unbeliefs and misbeliefs, the blasphemies and perjuries, the disregard for the higher powers and parental authority, the individual murders and collective slayings, the adulteries, fornications, unnatural lusts and vices, the marital, parental and filial sins, the thieveries, plunderings, banditries, briberies, devastations, corruptions and spoliations, the slanders, misrepresentations and character assassinations, and the envies, jealousies, evil surmisings, covetings, hatreds and cruelties and multitudes of mankind's other sins, have been occasions innumerable for Jehovah to exercise self-control and patience. Had He not done this, the race and
the fallen angels might have been blotted out, His Plan gone by default and His kingdom have been much undermined. We glory in God that His strength of heart and mind in self-control and patience are such as to have met in proper poise of character all the conditions confronting Him in the prevalence of evil among fallen angels and men and among His faithful people, and in the prevalence of sin among fallen angels and men.
In God's dealing with His elect peoples there has been constant need of His exercising self-control and patience. His typically elect people—Israel—gave Him many an opportunity of exercising self-control and patience, through their frequent lapses from their covenant obligations to Him. They were frequently wayward. Often they murmured and complained. They fell into idolatry and the wicked orgies connected with idolatrous religions. Not seldom did they rebel against God's ordinances and arrangements. For the sake of having a royalty they rejected Him as their King and His democratic arrangements as to their civil and social relations. They frequently mistreated His prophets. Many times in distrust of His protection they sought alliances with surrounding heathen nations. Time and again they corrupted their religious services and reduced them to mere formalism. Yet God continued to deal with them, correcting their faults, blessing their graces, striping their rebellions, reinstating them on their repentance in His forgiveness, sending them warnings, giving them encouragements, surrounding them with His protection, exalting them in their loyalty, abounding toward them in their needs, and giving them every helpful influence. Had He not possessed infinite self-control and patience, how could He have continued for over eighteen centuries in dealing with them throughout the Jewish Age? He would long before have cast them off.
We can discern His self-control and patience in His dealing with the Ancient Worthies. Thus His self-control and patience worked continually toward Abraham, the friend of God; Isaac, the peaceful shepherd; Jacob, the man of action; Joseph, the man of humiliation and exaltation; Moses, the servant of God; Joshua, the warrior of God; Gideon, the daring; Jephtha, the courageous; Samson, the strong; David, the beloved and reliable; Elijah, the austere; Isaiah, the eloquent; Jeremiah, the sorrowful; Daniel, the loyal, and multitudes of less prominence, but of the same faithfulness. All of these needed help, were deficient in various respects, faultful in others; some of these were at times willful, forgetful and backsliding. To supply their lacks, to cleanse their faults and to strengthen their graces in their varied personal bents and circumstances required a continued exercise of self-control and patience on God's part in His efforts to enable them to fulfill His will and to qualify for their places in the earthly phase of the Kingdom. When we include among these Abel, Enoch and Noah, we find that God dealt with these Ancient Worthies over 4,000 years. Acting toward them successfully for so long a period required, among other qualities, self-control and patience of a unique degree.
A still greater display of these two graces as the elements of God's power in character respects is found in His dealing with Christ and His prospective Bride. Great were the expressions of His self-control and patience in His depriving Himself of Christ's prehuman companionship and service and in His emptying the Word of His prehuman nature and office when making Him flesh. It certainly required great self-control and patience in God's arranging for Him to be absent from Him for over thirty-four years. Great were the self-control and patience of God in making Him a sacrifice unto death for His enemies and in developing His new creature unto Divine completion
amid most heart-searching and crucial experiences. Under these circumstances it was especially the Father's love for His Son that made it necessary for Him to exercise such great manifestations of self-control and patience in order to accomplish His purposes with His Son. In His dealing with the Church in connection with the sacrifice of its humanity, its cleansing itself from all filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit, and its development, strengthening, balancing and crystallizing Christlikeness, there have been the most marvelous exhibitions of His self-control and patience so far enacted. This will become apparent, if we consider how God is as a rule choosing the weak, the base, the despised, the poor and the ungifted as heirs of the Kingdom. To train these into fitness for such a position is truly the greatest work of self-control and patience ever yet performed, if it is not in need the greatest work of self-control and patience that ever will be performed.
Certainly Jehovah's past, present and future activities with the Great Company, before recent years individually, and since recent years as a class, exhibits remarkably His power in the forms of self-control and patience. It is in these measurably unfaithful new creatures that Satan found more or less fit instruments for developing the errors of doctrine, practice and organization in Greek and Roman Catholicism and in Protestant Sectarianism. These were by their waywardness, stubbornness and revolutionism continually trying God's self-control and patience; for, children of His, they were using, doubtless ignorantly, their greatest endeavors to advance what actually were the plans of God's chief enemy—Satan. Only a good father who has constantly sought the best interests of his children, who despite this turned against his interests and sided with his mortal enemy and unscrupulous competitor, can to a large degree enter into Jehovah's feelings as to the course of the Great Company
now and in the past. Surely, great self-control and patience have been His in dealing with them. How great care in these qualities must He take in opposing their revolutionism! How much of these will have to be in evidence until their fleshly mind is destroyed! How highly will they have to act to bring them to a complete cleansing and to a proper service of Himself! The same remarks with slight modifications apply to His dealing with those of the Youthful Worthies who in character act much like, as they are also cooperators with, the Great Company; as also the same remarks as were made on Jehovah's self-control and patience in dealing with the Ancient Worthies apply to the activities of these two elements of God's power as an attribute of character in His dealings with the good Youthful Worthies.
It is, of course, manifest that in the great tribulation, already begun and to last yet many years, though we are now in one of its lulls, God's power in the forms of self-control and patience finds a marvelous field of action in overruling the tribulation for ultimate good to all concerned. In protecting His own, as well as measuring out adequate retributions on institutions, involving their individual supporters, whom by the trouble He designs to bless, there have been and will be marvelous displays of God's power as an attribute of character, ruling Himself and persevering on His course as to the workings of the tribulation.
Then, too, when we look forward to the times of restitution, we can with faith's eye see many evidences of God's exercising His power in self-control and patience in gradually giving the kingdom arrangements, in applying these to the billions of mankind, returned from the dead, in restraining, chastising, correcting and instructing the weak and wayward and in punishing the wilful, and that all for the sake of their reformation. Nor will there be wanting such power in the forms of self-control and patience in dealing 100
years with the fully wilful before He destroys them as incorrigible sinners. So, too, will there be many exhibitions of His attribute of power in self-control and patience in dealing 1,000 years with the reformable for their full restoration to human perfection—restitution—especially in dealing with those who will reform externally, but not from and in the heart. God, knowing their hypocrisy—that of the symbolic goats (Matt. 25: 31-47)—all through these 1,000 years, will nevertheless control Himself as He perseveres to uplift them. How great will be the display of these qualities in the Little Season, when Satan and his impenitent angels are permitted to attempt to deceive the whole perfected race! He will exercise these qualities for the perhaps 40 years of that season, in order to complete the outworking of His Plan. He will show them, too, in His relation to the rebelliously wicked and in His relation to the obediently righteous of mankind in the varying stands that they will then make. Self-control and patience will manifest themselves in Him when the sentence of destruction is pronounced and executed upon Satan, his demons and incorrigible men, as well as when the reward of life is pronounced upon and given to the righteous. Therefore in the Ages to come, among others, His glorious power in its forms of self-control and patience will be celebrated by all creation (Rev. 5: 13).
We have now finished our individual study of Jehovah's four higher primary graces. But we should not close this chapter without some remarks on the relation of these four attributes to one another and to other graces. Of these four, wisdom and justice are fundamental, i.e., truth and righteousness are the foundations for love and power, as well as for God's throne (Ps. 89: 14). Always the first consideration that arises in Jehovah's mind as respects any action, course, principle or thing is this: Is it in harmony with truth and righteousness? No matter what other
good qualities may be found in it, if either truth or righteousness is in any way compromised or impinged in that action, course, principle or thing, Jehovah refuses to sanction it or co-operate in it. If a thing is in harmony with truth and righteousness, and if God desires to enter into it in activity, He will then act with respect to it in love and power, deferring always, however, to wisdom and justice. God's love and power have never acted, nor will they ever act, except in harmony with and in deference to His wisdom and justice. So, then, wisdom and justice are the foundations, and love and power are the superstructures of God's higher primary attributes of character. The harmonious activity and co-ordination of these four attributes in the order and way above indicated is manifest in every principle and feature of God's Plan. Therefore His Plan is a most sublime revelation and manifestation of His character. The harmony of His character is manifest in this Plan in that the foundation of its every feature is wisdom and justice and the superstructure of its every feature is love and power. If we view God's creative, providential, redemptive, instructional, justifying, sanctifying and delivering works as they are displayed in His Plan, we will find that they manifest the harmony and co-ordination of these four sublime qualities in the order and procedure above indicated. Thus we recognize that each of these attributes is perfect in itself and in its relations to the other three. Therefore there is a harmonious co-operation between them; for they never act in variance to, but always in support of, one another. Otherwise God's character would be imperfect.
And not only are there harmony and co-ordination in the activities of God's higher primary graces in their mutual relations, but there is also in this harmony and coordination a dominance on the part of these four graces over all God's other graces. It will be recalled that in the first part of this chapter we explained
that God had, in addition to His higher primary graces, lower primary, secondary and tertiary graces. None of the graces of these three later classes, or the other elements of the character has the right of controllership in God's acts. Whether they will be permitted to act or not is dependent on the decision and controllership of His higher primary graces acting in the harmony and co-ordination described above. Therefore God's higher primary graces have in the above-defined harmony and co-ordination the function of controlling all His other graces and elements of character. It is theirs to suppress, support, employ, modify, harmonize and inter-relate the others' use or uses. They are God's ruling, dominating graces. And in the wondrous perfection of each of these four graces, in their harmony and coordination with one another and in their dominating in such harmony and co-ordination all God's other graces and elements of character lies the marvelous balance of God's character. Never in the least item is there a deviation from this wondrous balance which, existing in infinite strength, constitutes the perfection of Jehovah's character. O, how sublime is His character! Worthy from every standpoint of disposition, thought, motive, word and work is He to be praised! He is so supremely good that our weak, fallen powers are unutterably inadequate properly to appreciate and praise Him. Lost in wonder, love and appreciation, we bow down before Him in worship and adoration, crying out, "Great and marvelous are Thy works, Lord God, the Almighty; righteous and true are Thy ways, Thou King of the Ages. Who shall not reverence Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou only art holy" (Rev. 15: 3, 4)! Let us consider His holy character as displayed in His Plan so devoutly, so believingly, so lovingly and so adoringly, that little by little and more and more we shall be changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Cor. 3: 18).