THIS LOOKS REASONABLE
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
WHILE reading the article in May 1 TOWER, entitled "The Binding of the Strong Man," certain further conclusions presented themselves to my mind; but they were of such a startling character that I have refrained from mentioning them to a single soul, as I would not for all the world wish to promulgate an idea that had any measure of error in it. However, the more I have thought over it the more has it impressed me as correct. It is herewith submitted for your consideration. If you can discern anything unscriptural in it I shall drop the matter altogether, as it is far better to suppress a questionable truth than run the risk of propagating a possible error.
The Lord has permitted the Church in these last times to be blessed with such an abundance that it makes us tremble lest we might be instrumental in the circulation of some one of the many forms of unscriptural teaching, thus assisting in marring in our own mind, and in the minds of others, the beautiful harmony of the Divine Plan. How the Truth has made us love our Lord, and how grievous it would be if we were to find that in any way we have encouraged that which did not properly represent him!
The article referred to suggests the thought that just as there is a Christ company, the Church, the Body of Christ, and then an individual Christ, who is the Head of the Body, even Jesus, so likewise there is a Satanic company, a System over which the Devil is head, as well as the individual Satan, Beelzebub, the "Chief of Devils."
In that article you remind us that during the last thirty-five years there has been considerable evidence that a work of restraint has been going on in this great "system of which Satan has stood as the representative or head." You there point out how much evidence we have of the gradual binding of this system of things in the Prohibition movement, and we saw how the light along all lines was the agency being used of the Lord in the accomplishment of this binding or restraining of some [R4695 : page 316] of the things connected with the evil system. However, you made it plain that you did not refer to the binding of the individual Devil, but to the binding of the satanic organization.
But right here I thought of the words of our Lord in Matthew 12:29, to which your article also refers, "How can one enter into a strong man's house and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house." According to this, if the Lord were to bind the Strong Man, Satan, before he began to spoil his house, and if we see reason to believe that the house is being spoiled already, then must we not conclude that the personal Devil has been bound for some time? May it not be that part of the work accomplished by our invisibly present Master between 1874 and 1878 was the binding of the Wicked One? One of our Lord's first experiences after his baptism 1800 years ago was with Satan, and how likely that one of his first experiences at his second coming would be with the same Adversary!
If the question is asked, Where, then, if Satan is now bound, do all our temptations come from? I answer, from the fallen spirits who were once under the control of Satan. For some cause, possibly the fact that he had been a being of a higher order than they, Lucifer appears to have had power over the other angels that had fallen, which they could not successfully resist; so if they were ever to be brought back into harmony with God it would be necessary for them to be set free from the bondage they were in to their leader, Satan.
In Hebrews 1:6, we find that all the other translations give quite a different thought from that in the King James translation; even the margin of the authorized version gives the correct thought. The Revised Version says, "And when he again bringeth in the First-Born into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him." This would, to my mind, seem to imply that when our Lord would come into the world the second time, one of the things he purposes is to give the fallen angels a chance to prove whether they are willing to become angels of God once more, and one of the ways whereby they might demonstrate that they are sick and tired of the service of the Devil is to acknowledge the authority of the One who has now returned to be King of earth, by worshipping and obeying him. On the contrary, those of them who would continue in sympathy with the evil principles of their wicked master, would simply use the increased liberty that would come to them through the binding of Satan, to introduce new forms of wickedness.
During the ages in which they served Satan, no doubt many wicked ideas apart from their leader occurred to them, but as he had his own idea of how his kingdom should be run, they were not allowed to have their own way. But now Satan's restraint has given them the occasion wished for, and would account for the great diversity of spiritualistic phenomena, compared with that of former times.
I cannot see how the fallen angels could have a fair trial as long as Satan was at liberty to coerce them to do his bidding, as seems to have been the case in the past.
If Satan is now bound, it would also teach another lesson: Many have the idea that in order to bring all the iniquity in the world to an end, it is merely necessary to bind the great Author of Sin, when things would naturally readjust themselves in harmony with the will of God. But the fact that after the binding of the Evil One things would in some respects be even worse than they were before, resulting in the worst time of trouble that had ever been, would prove to all the universe that sin is not merely such an awful thing because Satan was here to direct things, but that the real cause of the trouble was sin, whether there was an archangel behind it, or one of the lower order of angels, or simply a man; that sin is the terror, with Satan or without him; that sin is the cursed thing.
The last point to be mentioned is this: If Satan was bound about 1874, and if the period of his restraint is also to be a thousand years, he would be due to be set at liberty about 2874. On the other hand, a thousand years from 1915, when the world will have been fully turned over to Christ, will bring us to 2915, when the world will have been fully turned over to the Father. This would allow a period of about forty years as the "little season" when Satan is to bring upon the world the great and final test. But if the binding of Satan is to be reckoned from 1915 it would be difficult to see where the little season, "when the thousand years were finished," would come in. From this standpoint these various Scriptures would be equally applicable to the individual Satan, and also to the satanic system.
Now, dear Brother, if you have anything that even half-way looks like proof that I am wrong in these suggestions, I think it would be better for me to drop it altogether, as far as presenting these things to others is concerned, as we cannot afford to risk stumbling our brethren with a doubtful interpretation.
Praying the Lord's continued direction in all your affairs, as you seek to pour out the little strength and time that remain to you, in the service of the Lord of the Harvest, I remain,
Your Brother and servant in the cause which seeks the Glory of our Lord, BENJ. H. BARTON.