A REPLY TO BROTHER McPHAIL'S TRACT
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--Grace and peace be multiplied unto you in these trying times, is my prayer. Thinking that a few words from one who has been long in the way and a close student of your presentation of the Gospel Truths, and from one who has been with you in spirit through all your severe and fiery trials and labor of love for these many years since before the first volume of DAWN was published, might be cheering and have a tendency to strengthen the prophet's hands, I will send you a few lines.
Little did I realize or know in what way or through what instrumentality the Adversary was going to make his attack, and when I had shaken hands with you the second time at Put-in-Bay, and had looked into your smiling but care-worn face, in an instant I felt the extent of the trials through which you had passed; how you had taken joyfully [R4489 : page 300] the spoiling of your goods; how you had suffered the loss of all things that the world counts gain, and yet I could see that you were among those of the Lord's rich ones, rich in faith, having Godliness with contentment, which the Apostle says is great gain. As I realized all this, I also felt that the battle for Truth was not all over, but that there was more to follow. I said to you: "God bless you, Brother Russell; God bless you; the Enemy is coming in like a flood." Do you call to mind how soon after that convention the Enemy began to show his colors in the ranks of the Lord's consecrated? But, praise his name, the Lord has fulfilled his Word. He has lifted up a standard against the assaults of the Adversary and the Lord has still a remnant of his faithful color-bearers, who have been tried in the fire, veterans and victors in many a hard-fought battle, who are well equipped and prepared for the conflict against all the opposers of truth and righteousness that the prince of darkness can muster. Loyal Soldiers of the Cross, having on the whole armor of God, well clothed and well fed, strong in the Lord and in the power of his might, following in the footsteps of the Captain of our Salvation! We can do all things, endure all things, through Christ who strengthens us, even to running through a troop or leaping over a wall. They have learned the music and know the Gospel's joyful sound, and keep step to the notes.
I am sending you herewith a copy of the letter I wrote to Brother McPhail. It explains my attitude toward this new departure and snare of the Adversary. No doubt the Lord of the Harvest has permitted this delusion for wise purposes; but as I remarked in a testimony meeting lately at the Saginaw Convention, when the testimonies seemed to be drifting too much on the line of Brother Russell's trials and burdens, they need not borrow so much trouble about Brother R., for he is in the Lord's hands; and as long as he is faithful to his stewardship, the Lord will take care of him and he will have a good time fighting the good fight of faith for the joy that is set before him, in spite of all the opposing forces of Satan. We esteem Brother Russell very highly for his work's sake and labor of love for the members of Christ's Body and should bear him continually to the throne of grace in the arms of faith, that the Lord may continue to guide him by the spirit of wisdom and a sound mind in the dispensing of the meat, from the storehouse of Divine truth, to the household through the various instrumentalities that the Lord is using. Hold up the prophet's hands in any way you can. Having done this, cast all your care upon the Lord, knowing that he doeth all things well. Leave it there and stop worrying about Brother R. "Let not your heart be troubled," saith the Master. "Martha, Martha, thou are careful (i.e., worried) and troubled about many things."
Now, dear Brother, just one or two things more to which I wish to call your attention. Is there not a parallelism between the stumbling of some of the Lord's disciples mentioned in John 6:52-68and the stumbling now taking place? In the 53d verseour Lord says, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood ye have no life in you." Does not this apply to the consecrated spirit-begotten Church, drinking of the sufferings of Christ even unto death, the sacrificial Cup, members of Christ's Body? Are [R4489 : page 301] they not the only ones that have any life in them? Is not this strong meat? Those disciples who fell away said, "This is a hard saying, who can hear it?" Is it not so in the closing time of this harvest? Are not some who have been following along and who were co-laborers, now stumbling at the Word, being disobedient and declaring by word of mouth and printed page that the suffering of the Church as a sin-offering by the High Priest of our profession is a hard saying and will have none of it?
Now, lest I weary you or take too much of your time, I will close. I am getting old and nervous and have to write with pencil and have my letter copied. And now, Dear Brother, if you never receive another line from me while I tarry this side of the vail, rest assured that I shall remember you continually at the throne of Grace that the keeping power may be with you to the end of your pilgrim journey; and at last, when your last battle shall have been fought and the last victory won and your crowning day shall be ushered in, may you hear the welcome voice saying, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." Pray for me that I may, by God's grace, meet you there.
Faithfully yours in the One Hope and service,
DEAR BROTHER McPHAIL:--
I received your booklet on the Covenants and Mediator. I have read and re-read it prayerfully and carefully, and must say I disagree with you entirely on the points of the doctrines as set forth by you and the other brethren who hold the same (I believe) unscriptural views.
I shall only point out to you briefly and to the point a few of the unscriptural statements and try, with the Lord's help, to call your attention to some strange and inconsistent things that you and Brother Henninges have done, in the hope that you may see the error and make your escape from the snare of the Adversary; for I still recognize you as a brother, and love you dearly and continue to pray for you.
You are the first "Pilgrim" brother I ever met; I think about eighteen years ago. At that time you were the only traveling Pilgrim. I have met you many times since and have been greatly blessed through your ministry of the Truth. Now, dear Brother, at the time I first met you the TABERNACLE SHADOWS had been published, explaining the types, etc. You and Brother Henninges were familiar with and well posted on the TABERNACLE SHADOWS as explained by Brother Russell; and as far as I can judge, you continued to preach in harmony with those views as set forth in that booklet for eighteen years. Then, suddenly, just in the closing time of the harvest, you get your eyes opened to see the whole teachings in regard to the Lord's goat, the scape-goat, the red heifer, and almost everything in the TABERNACLE SHADOWS as set forth by Brother Russell, as a myth, an error. Is it not strange that the Lord did not reveal this to you brethren sooner? And now you claim that Brother Russell is the one that has changed his teachings. He is, and has always been teaching in perfect harmony with the views as set forth in the TABERNACLE SHADOWS. I shall not now go into details in reference to some of your citations and misapplications of WATCH TOWER and DAWNS. It seems sufficient to see that you repudiate almost all the Gospel truths you had held and publicly taught for eighteen years. This of itself is sufficient to cast suspicion on your whole presentation.
On page 38 of your booklet you ask, if these sinners, enemies, etc., could become saints and members of the Church, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ without a mediator, why cannot the world in the Millennial Age attain to human perfection without a mediator. A seemingly foolish question for a Bible student to ask, and very easily answered from the Scriptural standpoint, because it is not in harmony with God's eternal plan and purpose. Again, you ask, if any member of this sinful race can be accepted by God without a mediator, why is a mediator needed at all? Let me ask you, dear Brother, if Abel had a mediator. How about the cloud of Old Testament worthies mentioned in Hebrews 11? Were they under the New Covenant? Were they justified by virtue of a Covenant then in operation? Did they have a mediator? No! Will they come forth in the resurrection of the just to perfect human life? Certainly. They were justified by faith and fought it out on the faith line and came off victors. Their faith, from God's standpoint, pointed forward to the Ransom. They were justified by faith; and by obedience to that faith they will come forth perfect human beings to be used of God in bringing the blessings of the New Covenant when in operation to the world, under the rule of the Mediator--the Church, Head and Body.
Now, how about the household of faith at the present time? How are we justified and to what kind of life are we justified? Therefore, being justified by virtue of the New Covenant and the mediator of the New Covenant. Oh, no, Paul! That is not what you say. We are getting the thing all mixed up. Someone else says that! "Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace, etc." Oh! I see; we are justified the same today as Abraham was--by faith; no mediator there; no covenant there! To what life are we justified? Human life, perfect human life, purchased by the Ransom. Have we this when we are justified? No; it is only reckoned to us. Are we going to be perfect human beings like those old-time worthies in the resurrection? No; that is not God's purpose with us. He has "provided some better thing for us." We are justified for a purpose; to be used on a higher plane of being in the age to come. We do with our humanity what our Forerunner, the High Priest of our profession, did with his--give it up as a sacrifice, through his merit, acceptable to God. Now, from that time, the time of consecration, we are under a covenant, and not before.
What covenant are we under? I answer, the same as our Forerunner. What covenant was he under? A covenant of sacrifice. For three and one-half years he was under that covenant, until he cried on the cross, "It is finished." He was begotten in the Abrahamic Covenant at his baptism. In his Resurrection, he was born from the same covenant, and became the Head of the Seed typified by Isaac. So, the Church, which is his Body, are under a covenant, a covenant to sacrifice, reckoned in with the Head as members of his Body, through his merit and offering acceptable to God. All justification is based upon the Ransom given at Calvary. Now, we can see why or in what sense, the Church are members of his sacrificial Body, and are being "baptized for the dead," joint-sacrifices, sharing his sufferings, joint-heirs; "Gather my saints together unto me, them that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice." (Psalm 50:5.) [R4490 : page 301] "A covenant with ME," with HIM--a fellowship covenant.
Now we can see the force and harmony of these Scriptures. "Planted together in the likeness of his death," "drinking of his cup," "counted as sheep for the slaughter"; "baptized for the dead." The man Christ Jesus was the first sheep slaughtered, the Lamb of God, who bore our sins--the sins of the sheep for the slaughter, and also, the sins of the whole world. But God's great plan purposed other sheep for sacrifice, through the merit of the one who ransomed all. This Lamb of God was in God's eternal purpose slain from the foundation of the world; so his followers, who are crucified with him, were sheep for the slaughter, chosen in him before the foundation of the world. (Eph. 1:4.) All this is clearly taught in the TABERNACLE SHADOWS. But from your viewpoint these Scripture teachings are meaningless. There is no place for them in the teachings of yourself and Brother Henninges.
Your explanation on Page 10, "What is meant by being under a covenant?" I believe, is correct. Now, is the Church under more than one covenant? I think that your answer would be negative. If so, the Church is not under the New Covenant, for it is clearly stated in the Scriptures, that the Lord's saints are under a covenant of sacrifice, as I have already cited. You failed to explain anything in regard to [R4490 : page 302] the Church's Advocate. Does the Church have a mediator and an advocate both? If so, for what reason?
Again, on page 15, your thoughts are set forth in regard to Abraham, and, of course, you would be obliged to include other Old Testament Worthies who had no mediator, and because they had none, if we hold the view that the Church has none, etc., then because Abraham and others, Abel, Enoch, etc., had no High Priest, then, of course, the Church has none; and the Church has no Head because they had none; and so on. This is very unsound reasoning. Were those old worthies offering their justified humanity as a sacrifice to God, acceptable to God through the merit and ransom finished at Calvary? If not, your reasoning and conclusions fall flat with no foundation to stand on.
Again, on page 25, you refer to Hebrews 12:22,25. You say that instead of taking the Apostle at his word and believing what he says that "Ye are come," we are asked to believe that it means, "Ye are coming." Now let us see how your reasoning and conclusions look in viewing some other passage of Scripture given by the same Apostle: "If ye then be risen with Christ, etc." (Col. 3:1.) According to your view, Paul made a mistake, for we are not risen with Christ as yet, except by faith, and shall not be until we pass beyond the vail into the anti-typical Sarah's tent. So, in regard to the Scriptures you refer to and the conditions and things spoken of, we have come by faith to that glorious epoch or condition referred to, but it is still in the future. We behold it in faith and by faith we bring it nigh. You remember Abraham saw the same; he saw it and was glad. Now, dear Brother, there is much more I might say, but will not at this time.
Hoping and praying that you may see light in God's light on these important doctrines, I exhort you in the words of Paul to Timothy, "Take heed to thyself (keep the big Scotchman under), and to the doctrine, continue in them, and by so doing thou shalt save both thyself and them that hear thee." I shall be pleased to hear from you at any time.
Faithfully your Brother in the One Hope as long as I can see you are on the ransom. BYRON WILCOX.