IS THE RESTITUTION CALL NOW OPEN?
A DEAR BROTHER in the truth seems to think that the teachings of DAWN, VOL. V., differ from those of DAWN, VOL. III., on the question heading this article. He sees clearly that in DAWN, VOL. V., the view we present is that the restitution call cannot begin until the last member of the Gospel Church has been changed, glorified, but he thinks that the third volume teaches that the restitution call will be in progress simultaneously with the closing work of this Gospel age. This clearer statement of the subject in DAWN V., is the result of our having learned that some had gotten the wrong impression from VOL. III. In proof of his point, the Brother refers us to VOL. III., p.218, where it is stated that "the stopping of the favor or call here, in 1881, is followed, or rather lapped upon, by the general call of the whole world to the Millennial blessings and [R2676 : page 236] favors on condition of faith and obedience." Also pp.365 and 367: "Further, where the special favor of the general Gospel call ceased, October, 1881, the blessings upon the world would seem to be due to have a beginning." "It (1881) was the date of the closing of the high calling, and hence the date for the beginning of the restitution call for mankind in general."
On questions of so much intricacy it is sometimes difficult to use language sufficiently exact; especially if at the time of writing objections or criticisms are not fully anticipated. Were we to express the above points again we would try still harder, as in DAWN V., to guard our statements, and thus to prevent any misunderstanding. Our thought is, that the close of the high calling in the year 1881 was a marked date, and that from that time onward we should expect manifestations along the line of restitution --evidences that restitution blessings were in process of development. We had no intention of conveying the thought that restitution, physical, mental and moral, should be expected in 1881, and onward. As a matter of fact, we see no such process of general physical restitution in operation, nor ought we to expect it until the Day of Atonement sacrifices (of this Gospel age--Christ and the Church, his body) are complete.
We have already pointed this out in the pamphlet, "Tabernacle Shadows of Better Sacrifices," published in 1881. We there show that the high priest does not put on the glorious garments, representing the dignity and authority of rulership and blessing, until the "Lord's goat" has been killed, its body burned without the camp, its fat burned upon the altar, and its blood carried into the "Most Holy" and sprinkled upon the Mercy-Seat. (We there show also that this goat typified the Church, all of whose experiences there typified cannot be accomplished until the last member of the body of Christ has finished his sacrifice completely.) Then it was that the high priest went to the altar, lifted up his hands, and began to bless the people, who meantime lay prostrate in the dust awaiting that very blessing, which typically represents restitution.
In the above statement that "the stopping of the favor or call here, in 1881, is followed, or rather lapped upon, by the general call of the whole world to the Millennial blessings and favors," we hoped that the reader would have in mind our further statement; that altho the call, in its open or full sense, ceased in 1881, it would be prolonged in a special or private sense for a time, just as Israel's national favor ceased five days before our Lord's crucifixion, when he said, "Your house is left unto you desolate," yet in an individual sense of the word, God's favor continued with Israel exclusively for three and a half years following that date; only that instead of being a national favor, it was a private, an individual favor. On p.219 we endeavor to explain this continuation of the Gospel call, in another form, using the following language:
"But tho the general 'call' has ceased, the 'door' is not yet shut. The end of the call, and the shutting of the door are distinct and separate. The 'door' stands open for some to enter the race for the great prize of joint-heirship in the Kingdom after the general 'call' has ceased. God has predetermined a fixed number to constitute the Church, 'the body of Christ,' and there can be neither one member superfluous nor one lacking. (See this typically taught in Lev. 21:17-23.) It follows that he could not call or invite to that honor more than would complete the number that he had determined, and God's Word shows that this number had been secured [called] in October, 1881. But since some of those who responded under the general call, and made the covenant with him, will fail to keep that covenant, fail to so run as to obtain the prize, the 'door' stands open after the general 'call' has ceased, to permit the entrance to the race, to self-sacrifice in the service of the truth, of some [under the private or individual call] to take the places of such as may, during the inspection, cast aside the wedding garment of Christ's righteousness; and also of such others as, having made the covenant of self-sacrifice in the service, love the present evil world, become overcharged with its cares or pleasures, and fail to perform the requirements of their covenant."
Our thought is that this secret extension of the privileges of the call, after it has ceased as a general offer, must of necessity precede the beginning of the restitution privileges, and hence that only preparatory [R2676 : page 237] work in respect to the restitution and the proclamation of it, will be in order until the harvest of this Gospel age has been fully gathered. The knowledge of restitution is granted to the Lord's consecrated people now, to the intent that they should not be in darkness with the world in respect to the divine plan, and especially in view of the approaching great time of trouble, and also in view of the falling of the systems of error, false doctrines, etc. It is necessary that the restitution should be recognized by God's people, in order to keep them from falling in this day of trouble. But the message or call to restitution is not due to the world, to our understanding, in any sense of the word; hence it is that the efforts being made in connection with the dissemination of present truth are confined, so far as seems reasonable and possible, to the Church --to those, at least, who professedly claim to be the Lord's people, and not to the world.
Our brother's letter suggests several questions, which we here propound and answer, hoping that the answers may be helpful, not only to him but to others.
(1) Question.--May it not be, that both the high calling and the restitution call are now open? Or, if only one of them, would it not seem the more probable that the restitution call alone is open now? I fail to see the force of your claim that the "door" stands open after the "call" ceases.
Answer.--We believe that we have shown, foregoing that the restitution call could not begin until the sacrifice of the Church is completely finished, and until the High Priest, with every member of his body, is fully clothed with the honors and dignities of his office, represented in the garments of glory and beauty. We doubt if we can make the matter of the open door after the general call has ceased, any plainer than above set forth. We think it beyond question, that the Lord could not call at any time a greater number than the elect number, even tho his foreknowledge assured him that many of the called ones would not make their calling and election sure, and therefore would not be amongst the chosen. We hold, therefore, that at such time as the full number of the elect had been called, the general call must of necessity have ceased; and yet, since the Lord clearly foretold that a casting out of some during the inspection of the guests would follow (Matt. 22:10-14), and since the elect number must be complete, it follows that there must be some way of bringing in others to take the places of those who would be cast out, after the general call ceased and the work of inspection began. To our understanding this work of inspection of the guests has been progressing for some time-- since the call ceased. As some were found unworthy of their privileges and "cast into outer darkness," similar to that in which the whole world is, others were admitted to the favors of the called, and the attendant testings. And this work must continue until the full quota of elect ones shall have passed divine approval. We can think of no other way that would permit God to be just and reasonable in his dealings, since he will not accept less than the foreordained number, and since he will not call to that number any who, in any sense of the word, might be open to disappointment. "Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints!" As pointed out (DAWN, Vol., III., page 222) these additions are illustrated in the parable by those admitted to labor in the vineyard at the eleventh hour,--after the regular calls had ceased.
(2) Question.--Did not the restitution call precede the Gospel call? Were not Enoch, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all Israel called to restitution? If this be true, then the Gospel call was merely a supplementary one, for the time being, and in that event its closing or cessation would at once put in force again the original call which it had temporarily superseded.
Answer.--No: none of the patriarches were called to restitution, nor was it possible that either they or others could attain restitution blessings until after the ransom had been paid; until after all the Atonement Day sacrifices had been offered. If restitution had been possible without the ransom, then Christ died in vain, so far as the world of mankind is concerned. But no; all that anyone enjoyed of restitution favors in the past, was what we now enjoy; viz., a knowledge of them. A slight knowledge or hint at restitution was given to father Adam and mother Eve. Subsequently a clearer statement of the same was made to Abraham, and confirmed to Isaac and Jacob. There is a vast difference between the promise of a thing and the thing itself. Had the restitution call gone forth in the true sense, anyone responding properly would have been restored to perfection and everlasting life. True, there was a kind of offer of restitution made to Israel under the Law Covenant--an offer that they would be restored to perfection and life if they would keep their Law Covenant inviolate. But, as we have seen, the keeping of that Law was impossible; and hence the attainment of restitution under it was equally impossible.
The special merit of the patriarches consisted in the fact that, living before any call to everlasting life was made, and with merely a hint of God's gracious purposes, they exercised so great faith respecting the same,--enduring much in their endeavors to please God, and because of their confidence in his promises. From the Apostle Paul's account, some of them endured, faithfully, experiences which, had they lived [R2677 : page 238] during this Gospel age, would have constituted them overcomers in the highest sense of the word, and joint-heirs with Christ in the Kingdom. But living before this high calling or any other call had been issued, and suffering and enduring valiantly and faithfully, they are promised a better resurrection, a more favorable resurrection than that of the world,--tho it will not be so wonderful a resurrection as that of the Church. As the Apostle remarks, God has promised some better thing for us (than for them), "that they without us should not be made perfect."--Heb. 11:40.
Their resurrection will be better than that of the remainder of mankind, except the consecrated Gospel Church, in that it will be an instantaneous raising to perfection, while the world's resurrection will be a gradual one, accompanied by disciplines and testings, and called by our Lord "the resurrection by judgment" --a gradual raising up of the obedient and willing throughout the Millennial age, step by step, to all that was forfeited and lost in Eden.
(3) Question.--Will not the restitution call be a call to faith and to obedience, without sacrifice? If we cannot imagine such a call as being now in process, let me ask, Why not? Was not this call the one that was open to Cornelius and to everybody else, both before and since his time, as mentioned by the Apostle Peter, "I perceive that in every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is acceptable to him"?
Answer.--Peter did not mean to be understood that he that feared God and worked righteousness to the best of his ability had always been acceptable to God. Peter had just learned that a new dispensation had been ushered in, and that since Christ had redeemed, not the Jew only, but the whole world of mankind, therefore now repentance and remission of sins were proper to be preached in Christ's name to every creature, Gentiles as well as Jews; and that whoever sought to do the Lord's will to the best of his ability would be acceptable in the Lord's sight.
The restitution call will be a very different one from any that has ever gone forth as yet. It will not be a call to faith and to reckoned forgiveness of sins, but a call to obedience and to the actual blotting out of sins. During the Millennial age the world of mankind will be dealt with according to the condition of each, and obedience to the extent of ability will be required of each individual. Every obedience will receive its reward, in the way of mental, moral and physical recuperation, restitution; and every disobedience will receive a just chastisement, and thus throughout that age all who will shall have the opportunity of development, mentally, physically, morally, until, at its close, if he has been obedient to the great Teacher, Christ, he will again be in the image and likeness of God, as was Father Adam, but with additional experience gained,--not only during the fall, but especially the experiences gained under the administration of Christ's government, during the Millennial period, while rising again; while being restituted out of sin and death conditions, into conditions of righteousness and life.
What is now known to the Church of this Gospel age as "justification by faith" (in like manner also the ancient worthies were justified) will not be in operation during the Millennial age, nor be necessary; because the conditions then will be so different from present conditions. It is because "we walk by faith and not by sight,"--because faith is now so difficult, and therefore so rare, that it is so highly appreciated and rewarded of God. But when the Millennial age will have been ushered in, the age of faith will have passed--that will be the age of knowledge,--the age of evidences so clear, so unmistakable, that even "the wayfaring man, tho ignorant, shall not err therein, for the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth, as the waters cover the face of the great deep." With knowledge thus abundant, so that there shall be no need to say to one's neighbor, "Know the Lord, because all shall know him," it follows that special faith will be impossible, and hence the rewards of special faith will no longer be offered.
We do not mean to say that mankind during the Millennium will not believe; on the contrary, none can do otherwise than believe: we do mean to say, however, that there is a difference between believing and exercising faith. We now believe various things by faith, which the world in the next age will believe, not by faith but on evidence, by knowledge--it will be impossible for them to doubt them, seeing that the evidences will be so indisputable. For instance, now God tells us to reckon all of our past sins forgiven, and ourselves fully justified in his sight. Nevertheless, we continually see evidences of our own weaknesses in our minds and bodies. The sins are not blotted out; they are merely reckonedly covered. In the case of the Church's sins: they will not be blotted out until death shall destroy these mortal bodies, and until the Lord, in the first resurrection, shall grant us glorious, spiritual, perfect bodies. In them there will be no trace of sin or weakness or imperfection; all our sins will then be actually blotted out. But now we are required to believe in the covering of our sins; to exercise faith in God's declaration. Our next step of faith is in connection with the high calling to sacrifice earthly and temporal interests for the gaining of the heavenly glory, honor and immortality. But the heavenly crown and blessing are seen only with the eye of faith; and whoever runs in the race now set before [R2677 : page 239] us in the Gospel, must not only look with the eye of faith unto Jesus, as the author and finisher of our faith, but with the same eye of faith must see the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, has laid up for those who are faithful. Thus ours is preeminently an age of faith, of reckoned conditions, and of trust in the promises: and it shall have its great and precious reward.
Not so will be the conditions of the Millennial age, when ushered in. Knowledge will be there, as we have seen; and each day's experiences will result either in mental, moral and physical development, or in chastisements for failures to make progress. Such experiences will give ample demonstration of what may be expected as the ultimate outcome,--restitution as the reward of obedience, or the Second Death as the punishment of disobedience.
The matter is clearly set before us in the Scriptures, which clearly teach that, during this age, the rule of divine dealing is, "According to thy faith be it unto thee," while the rule of the judgment of the world in the Millennial age is clearly laid down in Rev. 20:12: "I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God: and the books were opened; and another book of life was opened [the first book of life is called the Lamb's Book of Life, containing the names of the elect Church, his Bride:--this other Book of Life will be the book or record of those who shall pass the restitution trial or judgment satisfactorily], and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books [the Scriptures--John 12:48] according to their works."
It would be a mistake to suppose that God will call mankind to sonship during the Millennial age, and not require them to make full consecration of themselves to him, and to that righteousness of which he is the personal representative. None can ever have eternal life upon any other condition than this--absolute obedience, and more--absolute harmony with the very spirit of the divine law, the law of righteousness, the law of love. And all who will be in harmony with the Lord to such an extent as this, would of necessity sacrifice, if there were opposition to the Lord or to righteousness which would make necessary a sacrifice of any kind, rather than deny the Lord and the principles of his holiness.
The reason why there will be no sacrifices required of the world during the Millennial age is, that sin and Satan will no longer be in control--"this present evil world" (dispensation) will have passed away, and in its stead will have been ushered in "the world to come, wherein dwelleth righteousness"--wherein righteousness will be the rule, wherein the King and all in favor with him and every feature of government will be one of righteousness, truth and love.
To suppose the restitution call already commenced, would be to suppose that God had in some manner authorized some one to announce that henceforth no one would suffer for right doing, but only for wrong doing; and that henceforth whoever sought to do right to the best of his ability, would find himself unopposed therein, and that his every effort would promptly bring mental, moral and physical strength and recuperation, which, going on and on, would by and by reach absolute perfection. Furthermore, it would be to promise that any who accepted this restitution call would never die the Adamic death; but on the contrary, accepting this call heartily, would find that day by day, year by year, the power of death in him was being vanquished and the process of restitution progressing.
When that call shall go forth, and those restitution privileges shall be offered to mankind, it will be as the Prophet has declared, that no man shall thenceforth die for Adam's sin, nor for the sin of his fathers, but only for his own sin. (Jer. 31:29,30.) We understand that this time will not be reached until after the time of trouble--not until A.D. 1915. To our understanding, from that date onward, the Kingdom being fully established, the call of the world to restitution privileges will be opened, and whoever shall then die will die for his own sin [Second Death] and not for father Adam's; and whoever will then be obedient to [R2678 : page 239] the Lord will experience the blessings of his grace in restitution,--actual, perceptible recovery beginning at once, as the reward to the faithful under the restitution call.
The sense in which Millennial blessings and favors are already lapping upon the Gospel age, to our understanding, is this: First, knowledge, inventions, etc., are bringing to the world of mankind blessings never hitherto enjoyed, and which are really intended for the Millennial age, and are merely being gotten ready or prepared in this "day of God's preparation." (2) Restitution blessings are lapping also, in the sense that these inventions, etc., are gradually leading on to the great time of trouble, in which present institutions, social, financial, political, religious, will all be overthrown--that in their stead God may bring in the better provisions and arrangements of the Millennial Kingdom. (3) Restitution blessings are coming to the Church now, in the sense that she is permitted to foresee these coming blessings upon the world, and to rejoice exceedingly, and to lift up her heart in thankfulness and praise to him who loveth us and who bought us with his own precious blood, and to realize how it is "the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
(4) Question.--Suppose some one should say, "I wish to give up this present world and all its honors and pleasures, to obey and follow Christ, no difference [R2678 : page 240] what trials and persecutions it may bring; but I have no expectation of salvation on the divine plane, and I am not running for that prize. Salvation on the human plane is better than I deserve, no matter how much it may cost me to follow Christ now, in the opening years of his reign, before Satan is bound. I am glad of an opportunity to show my loyalty under adverse circumstances, which will prove that I am sincere." Who may say that such an one might not come in under the restitution call?
Answer.--The Apostle, on one occasion, said, "The times of this ignorance God winked at"--took no account of. So all the way down through this Gospel age, while this "high calling" has been presented, there doubtless have been some of the Lord's followers who have not clearly grasped his promises in all their length and strength and beauty,--many who did not clearly understand that the overcomers of this age are to be heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, and partakers of glory, honor and immortality. Their ignorance, however, did not alter the call nor the Lord's engagement. The heavenly Father is, so to speak, dealing with Christ rather than with us, and thus it is written that we are "accepted in the Beloved." Whoever, therefore, during this Gospel age, has fully consecrated himself to the Lord as his Master, fully trusting in him also as his Redeemer, and seeking to walk in his footsteps, the same is an heir of God and a joint-heir with Jesus Christ, his Lord, whether he knew it or not; just as it would be in respect to an earthly inheritance.
It might seem strange that a son should not have some knowledge of his father's wealth and of his father's intention to give him a portion, but the son's ignorance would not alter in any degree the father's will, nor hinder him from participating in its provisions. So we should say respecting those of the Lord's faithful ones during this age, who have not been aware of how great things "God hath in reservation for them that love him." And this applies also to such an one as you mention in this question: his ignorance will not alter the divine arrangement; and if he faithfully follow the Lord now, we have every reason to believe that in the regeneration he shall sit in his throne, whether he expects so great a favor or not. Nevertheless, we should expect that now the Lord would graciously reveal to such a faithful sacrificer his goodly heritage. There surely is no Restitution Call at the present time--no offer, yet, of an opportunity to grow out of imperfection and death, into perfection in God's likeness, and into life everlasting.