A SUMMARY vIEW of the MILLENNIAL CHURCH or
United Society of Believers, commonly called SHAKERS.
General Principles of their Faith and Testimony.

Published by the Shakers in 1823; Reprinted in 1848.  
    AUTHENTIC MANUSCRIPT EXCERPTS — File 6 of 6.
       Transcribed from the 1848 Second Edition

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“The Millennial Church”

Excerpts from the Second Edition – 1848

 

PART VII.

THE FAITH AND PRINCIPLES OF THE NEW CREATION.

 


CHAPTER 1.

The twelve Foundations of the law of Christ, exemplified in the twelve Christian virtues.

1. THE great principles of the gospel revived and brought to light by Mother Ann, and the succeeding Witnesses, comprise the whole law of Christ, manifested in this day of his second appearing.  The true nature and character of God can be known only in his Divine Attributes, which are the seven Spirits of God, represented to John by the “seven lamps of fire burning before the throne.”  These seven Spirits are the only true source of all divine light, knowledge and truth, and the only real foundation of all the works of God revealed to man; and these are manifested in Christ the Lamb of God.  By the operation of these seven Spirits, through Christ, the foundation, increase, order, beauty and glory of the new creation is formed, brought forth, and manifested to and in man.  This brings to light the holy city, New Jerusalem.

2. “And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious.”  Herein is represented the true work and glory of God, proceeding from those divine lamps, or seven Spirits of God: and by these the glory of God is brought to light, and his spiritual work made manifest to man.

3. “And he that sat upon the throne, said, Behold, I make all things new.”  It is by the operation of his Divine Attributes, through Christ, that he creates all things new, and establishes the church of the latter day in all its order and glory.  The order of the church on earth, proceeds immediately from that which is in Heaven.  Indeed the true church of God on earth, is one with that which is in Heaven; and all who are in truth, united to that which is on earth, are also united to that which is in Heaven.  This is agreeable to the declaration of the apostle to the Hebrews; “Ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem.”

4. And of the holy city it is said, “The glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.”  The seven Spirits of God were the only lights seen before his throne, and the only sight, power and strength of the Lamb.  Nothing therefore existed in this holy city, except what proceeded from these seven Spirits

5. “And the city lieth foursquare; the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.”  That is, it is equally perfect on all sides.  And here it is worthy of particular remark, that all its measures, all its works, fruits, beauty, order and glory have their foundation in the number twelve.  These represent the twelve heavenly virtues manifested in Christ; and these are the pillars, protection and substance of the new and eternal creation of God, “wherein dwelleth righteousness.”  They may be denominated and arranged in the following order;  Faith, Hope, Honesty, Continence, Innocence, Simplicity, Meekness, Humility, Prudence, Patience, Thankfulness, and Charity.

6. These twelve virtues, established in the soul, and operating in perfect harmony, form the eternal and everlasting law of Christ.  All other virtues, gifts and graces are the genuine fruits of these twelve, which are the primary principles of virtue proceeding from the Divine Attributes.  And although there may be different names which imply nearly the same principles; yet names, in themselves considered, are but mere sounds; it is the real spirit and substance of these virtues which constitute the principle.  These all proceed directly from the attributes of God; yet each particular virtue has a certain relative connection with its corresponding attributes, from which it more immediately proceeds.

7.   1. FAITH.  “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”  Divine faith is that pure influence proceeding from the eternal source of all good, which plants the seed of God in the soul.  And the obedience of faith produces all the virtues of the gospel, “which is the power of God unto salvation.”  True faith proceeds from the power and light of God, and stands in connection with all his attributes: “For God who hath commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into our hearts.”  True faith views every Divine manifestation to the soul in its true light; and believes every promise of God, and every display of his power and goodness to mankind, to be what they really are.

8. But those who profess faith in the gospel, and who profess to be the followers of Christ; and yet do not believe in all the promises of God, nor in all his declarations through his true witnesses; who do not believe that every work will be brought into judgment, with every secret thing, and that everyone will be rewarded according to his works; who do not believe that Christ has come to open a way by which souls can be saved from all sin, and that this salvation is really attainable in this life; who do not believe that the gospel is free for all souls without distinction, and will effectually save all who believe and obey it; in short, those who do not believe all these things, are certainly lacking in the true faith of the gospel of Christ, let their professions be what they may.  Or if they really possess faith, and yet indulge themselves in anything which is contrary to their faith; or knowingly neglect any duty which the gospel requires of them, they are disobedient to faith; they are not the faithful followers of Christ; they do not keep the law of Christ, and therefore are not true Christians.

9.   2. HOPE.  Though souls may receive the true faith of the gospel; yet without hope, no one would be able to set out in the cross-bearing work which faith unfolds: “For we are saved by hope.”  Divine hope is a display of the power and wisdom of God in the soul.  Hope “hath respect to the recompense of reward.”  It inspires the soul with confidence in the promises of God, that his reward is sure.  “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”  Hope is styled in scripture, “an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.  — Happy is he whose hope is in the Lord.”

10. All doubting in the work of God, is contrary to this hope; and therefore contrary to genuine Christianity.  Those who make a profession of Christianity, and, at the same time, distrust the love and goodness of God, or doubt his mercy or his justice, and have not full confidence that the power of God, contained in the gospel, is sufficient to enable them to obey all its requirements, and save them from all sin, and in the end reward them with a crown of everlasting life, without any hindrance of the decrees or foreknowledge of God, or anything inconsistent with their own free agency, are without true gospel hope, and therefore are not true Christians.  If they are ashamed of the testimony of the gospel, or of the works of godliness, in any respect, or do anything whatever, of which they are ashamed, they act contrary to the divine virtue of hope: for “hope maketh not ashamed.”

11.    3. HONESTY.  Neither faith nor hope can bring forth good fruit, unless they are received “in an honest and good heart.”  Agreeable to the testimony of Jesus Christ, those who receive the word of God, which is the seed of faith, “in an honest and good heart, bring forth fruit.”  So important then is the virtue of honesty or sincerity, (which is essentially the same,) that no one can be benefitted by the gospel, or by any gift of God without it.  The virtue of honesty is the operation of the righteousness of God, in man, and plants the principle of uprightness in the soul.  “The tabernacle of the upright shall flourish.”

12. The professor of Christianity who is not honest and sincere, in all his conduct and conversation, who uses any dissimulation, or seeks to cover any of his conduct, in word or deed, under the cloak of deception, who designedly deviates from the truth, in any respect, and does not honestly do good and shun evil, and conduct himself, in all things, according to his best light and understanding, transgresses the divine principle of honesty, and sins against God; and therefore cannot bring forth the fruits of the gospel.  The gift of God can find no abiding place in such a soul: for God is a God of truth, and no hypocrisy can find acceptance in his presence.  “The hope of the hypocrite shall perish.”

13.   4. CONTINENCE.  This is the fruit of that seed sown by faith, and nourished by hope, in the good and honest heart.  It is the principle of self-denial and abstinence from all evil; the source of seclusion or separation from the principles and practices of the world; and the spring from whence proceeds the virgin life.  It is a chaste and pure principle, and flows from the holiness of God.  “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”

14. He who, under a profession of Christianity, indulges a lascivious propensity, in actions, words or feelings; he who does not take up his cross against all impurity, according to the requirements of the gospel; but who indulges himself in anything whatever, that has a tendency to lead the mind from the pure work of God, and to attach it to the impure things of this world, violates the virtue of continence, defiles his soul and dishonors his Christian profession; and therefore he is not a true self-denying Christian.

15.   5. INNOCENCE.  This is the handmaid of Continence, and, like that, proceeds from holiness.  The operation of continence destroys all fleshly lust, and implants in the soul the virtue of innocence.  Thus the soul is fitted for the Kingdom of Heaven, and for the acceptable worship of God.  “I will wash my hands in innocency; so will I compass thine altar, Oh Lord!” said the Psalmist.  And, “Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven;” said Jesus.  Little children are innocent; their souls are not defiled with any known sin; they know nothing of the nature of pride, lust or any evil; they feel dependent on their parents for protection and support.

16. Hence it must appear plain and obvious, that professors of the Christian religion, who do not become as little children, by living lives of innocence, and feel their daily dependence on the gift of God, for spiritual nourishment, strength and support, and for continual direction in the line of their duty, can have no just title to the Kingdom of Heaven, and need not expect to enter therein.  Those who indulge, in themselves, any feelings of lust, pride, envy, covetousness, malice, hatred or revenge, are not innocent before God; they can bring no acceptable sacrifice to his altar; they are not the humble followers of the innocent, meek and lowly Savior; therefore they are not true Christians; and their profession will only increase their condemnation in the day of trial.

17.   6. SIMPLICITY.  True gospel simplicity implies a godly sincerity, and a real singleness of heart, in all our conversation and conduct.  This virtue is the operation of holiness and goodness, and produces in the soul a perfect oneness of character, in all things; its thoughts, words and works are plain and simple, and wholly directed to the honor and glory of God.  It is harmless and undefiled, and wholly unmixed with any evil.  It is without ostentation, parade or any vain show, and naturally leads to plainness in all things.  In all the objects of its pursuit, in all the exercise of its power, in all its communications of good to others, it is governed solely by the will of God, and shows forth its peculiar singleness of heart and mind in all things.  “If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.”

18. Hence it will readily appear, that a professor of Christianity must be greatly deficient in true gospel simplicity, however great his profession, whose heart is not single towards God, whose faith is corrupted with a mixture of pride and vain glory, whose conversation is mixed with duplicity, and his conduct with craftiness, whose mind is filled with jarring passions, and continually exercised with vain imaginations.  Such professors do not live simply according to the faith of the pure gospel of Christ; they do not seek to do the will of God, and live to his honor and glory in all things; they do not honor their profession; they do not follow Christ, nor bear his cross; they do not walk in Christian simplicity.  How then can they, with any propriety, be called Christians?

19.   7. MEEKNESS.  This is that mild, gentle and unassuming virtue which is the very opposite of pride and haughtiness.  Pride separates the soul from obedience to God, but meekness readily leads to obedience.  Meekness fits the soul for that gospel soil in which it may bring forth fruit unto godliness.  “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”  This alludes to the “new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness,” and which is composed of that spiritual soil in which souls can “take root downward, and bear fruit upward.”  True meekness is the fear of God, the beginning of wisdom and gospel understanding.  It implants in the soul a lively sense of the greatness of God’s power, and the dependence of the soul upon him for every good gift.

20. Many make great professions of religion who are, at the same time, utterly destitute of the virtue of meekness: hence their religion is but a name without the substance.  He who is not mild, “gentle, and easy to be entreated,” is lacking in meekness.  He who pursues projects of ambition, or seeks after worldly greatness, in any manner, transgresses against the virtue of meekness.  He can therefore have no just claim to Christianity; he cannot inherit the new earth, nor bring forth fruit unto God.

21.   8. HUMILITY.  This virtue goes hand in hand with Meekness, and, like that, flows essentially from Wisdom.  Humility is that principle of virtue, exercised in modesty, which produces a wise, sober, cautious, discreet and amiable deportment, in conduct and conversation, through all the members of the body of Christ, and in each one and all, according to their respective lots and callings, and according to the measure of their acquirements, gifts and graces in the house of God.  This virtue is indispensably necessary to promote and maintain the union and harmony of the church of God, which is the body of Christ, and greatly promotes the union of the spirit in all the members.  It is one of the brightest ornaments of the inner man, and the church cannot be supported without it.

22. The virtue of humility leads to a modest conversation and deportment towards God and man.  It teaches us to speak with reverence and Godly fear concerning God and all his works; it leads us to a humble and willing submission to the will of God, in all things, and under all circumstances.  Humility is regardless of worldly honor, it seeks no preferment, and looks with indifference on all those allurements which feed the pride and vanity, and captivate the feelings of a vain world.  This is that lowly virtue to which Jesus Christ had a particular reference when he said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”  Therefore, “Be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”  From this virtue proceeds repentance and godly sorrow for sin: to this Jesus Christ alluded in saying, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”

23. How great is the contrast between the exalted feelings of pride, and the modest sensations of humility!   How excessively foolish and vain it is for fallen man to pursue schemes of self-exaltation, and vain glory, which must and will finally end in debasement and degradation of soul!  Let all who profess the Christian name, remember the testimony of Jesus Christ; “Whosoever exalteth himself, shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted.”

24.   9. PRUDENCE.  The virtue of prudence is of inestimable value.  True Christian prudence is that virtue which leads to a discreet, judicious and wise improvement of every natural and moral faculty, and of all the powers, gifts and graces given of God to man.  Temperance is one of the distinguishing graces of prudence: for all gifts and graces are bestowed in vain, unless a discreet and temperate improvement be made of them.  “The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way;” and “the prudent man looketh well to his going.”  Prudence proceeds from Wisdom, and the house of prudence is the habitation of wisdom. “I Wisdom dwell with Prudence.”

25. He who is blessed with the virtue of prudence, is not hasty in his words, nor rash in any of his conduct; but is watchful over all his words and actions; he is careful and discreet in all things.   He is industrious and faithful in his duty, both in things spiritual and temporal; but does not go beyond his strength, in soul nor body.  He does not carelessly scatter and lose the gifts and graces of God; he does not waste nor misimprove any blessing, spiritual nor temporal; but makes a wise and temperate use and improvement of all things committed to his charge, according to the best of his understanding and abilities.  He who transgresses against the virtue of prudence, is deficient of the spirit of Wisdom from whence it proceeds.  This virtue can be maintained by watchfulness only. “What I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch.”

26.   10. PATIENCE.  This is a very powerful virtue, and flows essentially from Power and Love.  It is of essential importance to every Christian, especially when under trials and afflictions.  Forbearance and long suffering are its distinguishing graces.  It fills the soul with constancy, and enables it to bear up under the severest trials, and to persevere through the greatest difficulties.  It is always subject to the will of God, and always ready and willing to wait God’s appointed time.  It never faints under any trials; and therefore reaps the reward of its constancy and perseverance in due season.  Without patience, there is no perseverance; therefore, “let patience have her perfect work.”

27. He who fully possesses the virtue of patience, is never unreconciled to any duty, however severe and trying.  He never murmurs nor repines at his lot; nor does he complain that his way is hard, and that of others easy.  He is never fretful and peevish; but always exercises such a degree of love to the work of God, that he can constantly persevere in the performance of every known duty, whatever difficulties may attend it.  He is willing to endure all things for Christ’s sake and the gospel’s, and to bear any cross rather than lose his justification before God.

28. But he who indulges feelings of discouragement, suffers loss, and is always in danger of falling away, because he is lacking in patience.  He who faints under trials, is destitute of patience, and must fall, unless supported by others.  He who gives way to feelings of impatience, dishonors himself and his holy calling. “Ye have need of patience,” saith the apostle, “that after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”

29.   11. THANKFULNESS.  This virtue proceeds from the free operation of the love and goodness of God in the soul.  A soul in the possession of the genuine love of God, feels a sense of his unbounded goodness; and is thereby feelingly excited to a holy fervor of heavenly joy and gratitude.  He is thus enabled to bless God for his goodness, to praise him for his love, and cheerfully serve him with all the faculties of soul and body.  This is the virtue of thankfulness, and it is the most acceptable worship of God.  Cheerfulness and goodwill are the attendant graces of this heavenly virtue.

30. True gospel thankfulness is not the transient excitement of a moment, produced by an occasional manifestation of love and goodness, and which has no abiding residence in the soul.   Such temporary excitements are often experienced by many warm and zealous professors of religion; and though they may proceed from the occasional effusions of the Divine Spirit; yet they are soon scattered and destroyed by the inveterate corruptions of the human heart which, like a cage of unclean birds, will soon waste and consume all the good seed that comes within their reach, and leave the poor soul as destitute as ever.

31. But when the seed of Divine love and goodness is sown in a good and honest heart, which has been cleansed from all unrighteousness, and made a fit temple for the Holy Spirit to dwell in, then it becomes an abiding treasure; and this produces true thankfulness.  By the operation of this virtue, the soul is constantly prevented from the indulgence of any ungrateful and unthankful feelings; and is at all times ready to render thanks to God, for every appearance of his love and goodness, and for all the kind favors of his Providence, both spiritual and temporal.

32. He who is unthankful, is unholy; and “without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.”  He who indulges any feelings that the way of God is hard, or that the cross of Christ is unreasonable, or that any duty which the gospel requires is unnecessary, is devoid of thankfulness.  He who, after having been called by the gospel, hankers after the carnal gratifications of nature, and regrets that he cannot longer enjoy the alluring pleasures of this world, is insensible of the mercy and goodness of God, in calling him from these vain and transitory enjoyments, to the way of life and salvation from all sin: he is unthankful and ungrateful, and is in danger of falling away and losing the way of God.

33.   12. CHARITY.  This is the last and the greatest of all the Christian virtues.  It is the genuine operation of goodness and love in the soul, and is exercised in righteousness.  It is “full of mercy and good fruits.”  It is that benevolent principle which kindly administers whatever is truly needful for the benefit, support and happiness of soul and body, each in its proper order.  It administers, indeed the treasures brought forth by all the other virtues; and thus is produced the perfection of happiness in the Holy City.  The apostle Paul considered charity as the greatest of all the virtues: and why?  Because, without charity, there can be no abiding administration of the gifts of God; and therefore all others must fail, unless they are supported by it.

34. Let a man possess never so much of that religious fervor which he calls the love of God, it will avail him nothing without charity.  True charity will influence him to love the children of God, and to administer freely to their necessities; to love all the creatures of God, and be ready to promote the comfort and happiness of all, both of soul and body, according to his capacity and their necessities.  He who is destitute of this kind of charity, is equally destitute of the love of God.  He who bears any grudge or hardness against any person, or is unjust or cruel in any case, even towards his domestic animals, acts in direct opposition to the divine principle of charity; and whatever his profession may be, he can have no just claim to the love of God: he does not possess it.

35. Finally: All false judging, jealousies, evil surmisings, evil speaking, railing, backbiting, slander, and the like, are violations of the virtue of charity; and so far as the Christian professor is faulty in any of these respects, he is deficient in Christian charity, however exalted his profession; and hence, in proportion as he is deficient in this virtue, all other gifts and graces will profit him nothing.

36. Thus far have we attempted to show the nature of the twelve virtues which constitute the eternal law of Christ, in the new creation of God.  The substance of these virtues is everlasting, and can never be changed.  They are the operating springs of all the works of God, in the true order of heaven and earth.  They are the foundation of the number twelve, so often used by the inspired writers, in describing the order of the work of God, both typical and spiritual.  The twelve tribes of Israel, according to the order of the flesh, were but shadows of this spiritual order of the work of God.  The twelve apostles of Jesus Christ also represented these twelve virtues, which constitute the substance of that gospel which they were commissioned to preach.

37. But the most striking representation of these virtues may be seen in John’s vision of the Holy City.  “And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.”  The following remarks will illustrate this subject.

38.   1. This Holy City had twelve gates; and though according to the testimony of Jesus Christ, “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it;” and again, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life;” and also, “I am the door;” yet the Holy City had twelve gates; and these gates were the entrances into the city.  The true meaning is, the twelve gates which John saw in his vision, were the figurative representations of the twelve heavenly virtues, manifested in Christ, who is the only way; and it is through the power and influence of all these virtues, that the soul must find an entrance into the Holy City.  That is, he must come into the possession of all these virtues, in a greater or less degree, according to the measure of his capacity, before he can become a fit inhabitant of the Holy City, and actually possess it.  For it is declared by the testimony of eternal truth, that, “There shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, or worketh abomination, or maketh a lie.”  The operation of these virtues will effectually exclude every evil from all souls that possess them, and walk in them.

39.   2. “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.”  Thus these gates were of the one gospel pearl, which is the pearl of great price.”  For they are the one only way of entrance into the Holy City, or Kingdom of Heaven.  The pure gold, like transparent glass, which formed the street of the city, shows not only the perfect purity of the way, but also its perfect clearness.  No impurity nor imperfection, no shade of darkness, doubt or uncertainty, can possibly exist in this pure way; but all is clear and perfect, and will finally be found so, by every faithful soul who shall continue to walk therein.  This pure and clear street, therefore, is the one only way of God, in which all souls must walk, in order to possess the Holy City, and dwell in it; for it is situated in the midst of those twelve virtues, surrounded and measured on all sides by them.

40.  3. “And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day; for there shall be no night there: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.”  All darkness and doubts are done away by the light and glory of God, revealed in and through the Lamb, and made manifest in these Christian virtues; and the way of entrance is free for all souls.  And these same virtues, through which is found the only entrance into the Holy City, are also its defence and protection: for while souls walk in these virtues, they are safe from all evil; no evil can possibly enter through them.  Hence it is said, “There shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie.”

41.   4. “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”  Some suppose this to imply that there are many ways of entrance into the Holy City, or Kingdom of Heaven.  But let no one deceive himself with this supposition.  Christ is the only way, and this one way contains all these gates: for whosoever is obedient to the operation of all the preceding virtues, will keep all the commands of God; and thus he finds an entrance through all these gates.  Such, therefore, and such only, have a right to the tree of life, and to an inheritance in the Holy City.

42.   5. “And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.  And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones.”  The twelve apostles were the first whom Christ sent to preach the gospel of the Kingdom, which is founded on these twelve virtues.   And the precious stones with which they were garnished, are all the gifts and graces of the Spirit, given through Christ, which proceed from these twelve virtues, which are the foundations on which the wall of the city is built.

43.   6. It is worthy of remark that, though the wall had twelve foundations, which were each of different kinds of precious stones; yet the building of the wall was Jasper; and also that “her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.”  Jasper is here represented as the most precious of all stones; and therefore the most proper representation of HIM who is the Eternal Foundation of all goodness and virtue; and it also clearly shows the work to be all of God.   “He that sat upon the throne was to look upon like Jasper.” Again: the first foundation of the wall was Jasper.  This evidently represents faith, which is the seed of God, the first virtue, and the medium through which all the others proceed from God to man.

44.   7. And the wall was “great and high.”  This was measured by the same number, twelve times twelve, equal to one hundred and forty-four.  “And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.”  Thus the foundations, height and measurements of the wall, were according to the same number with the gates.  This shows that the Holy City, as respects both its defence and entrances, is protected by the same twelve virtues.   But why is it called the measure of a man and of the angel?   This shows that, though it is all of the angelic or heavenly order; yet it must be manifested in man; that is, man must be measured by the same rule, and be found in the same heavenly and angelic virtues, in order to become a fit inhabitant of this Holy City, and be protected in it.

45.  8. As the natural man cannot conceive of a building, without associating with it the idea of materiate substances, as the constituent parts thereof, he will perhaps infer from thence, that the Holy City cannot be composed of these virtues; because they are not materiate substances.  But we would ask, Of what can the spiritual building of God be formed, if not of spiritual virtues?  As the material world is composed of materiate {consisting of matter) substances; so the spiritual world must necessarily be composed of spiritual substances: for there is a real substance in spiritual things, as well as in natural; yea, and a substance, too, which is infinitely more substantial and durable.  Thus saith the apostle: “Ye took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing that ye have in heaven a better and more enduring substance.”  And again: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for.”  It must therefore be admitted, that the spiritual creation is substantial and eternally durable, in its order of existence.  And certainly these virtues are spiritual and eternal, and therefore more substantial and durable in their spiritual and eternal order, than any materiate substance whatever.  And though the natural man is unable to discern spiritual substances; yet when the Holy City is represented and revealed to him, by these twelve virtues, he may, as by a figure, form some idea of what the substance consists.

46.  9. All things in the natural world, and all the works and dealings of God with man, on earth, are but shadows and figurative representations of spiritual things, and of the works and dealings of God with his people, in the new creation.  As the sons of Jacob, who composed the house of their father, and were the primary foundations of the chosen tribes of Israel, were twelve in number; and as the apostles who were the pillars, or primary foundations of the Church of Christ on earth, in the days of his first appearing, were also twelve in number; so these numbers represent the primary foundations of the spiritual work of God in man, as manifested in this day of Christ’s second appearing.  The measure of the Holy City is according to the same number, being twelve thousand furlongs every way.

47.   10. Thus we see that the Holy City, New Jerusalem, in its foundations, entrances, adornings, productions and measurements, is established, furnished and regulated by the same number.  The servants of God were also sealed according to the same number; twelve thousand of each tribe of Israel, being the Israel of God.  Those also, who were seen standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion, were of the same number, twelve times twelve thousand, or one hundred and forty-four thousand.  Mount Zion is the same holy city herein described.  This clearly shows that the servants of God, in the work of the new creation, that is, those “who follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth,” are all prepared and brought forth, numbered and sealed by these twelve virtues; and hence it is, that “they are without fault before the throne of God.”  And none but such can enter and dwell in “Mount Zion, the City of the living God.”

48.   11. “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.”  This is the source of eternal life, and is brought to light by the seven Spirits of God.  “In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month.”  These are the fruits of the twelve virtues, which are produced in twelve regular orders, one after another.  “And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”  These leaves are the gifts and graces of the twelve virtues; and are to be administered by those who possess them, and which must heal the lost children of men, and give them eternal life, if they ever obtain it.  The tree of life, which stands in the midst of the street, is Christ, who stands in the midst of the way of life, yielding the fruits of these twelve virtues for all who walk therein.  The tree is represented in the vision, as standing on either side, that is, on each side of the river.  This was designed to represent the manifestation of Christ, both in the male and female, between whom the waters of life flow in the church, producing the fruits of Christ in the members.

49.  12. John’s vision of the “Woman clothed with the Sun, and having upon her head a crown of twelve stars,” represents, in a striking manner, the same twelve virtues.   These are placed as a crown of glory upon the head of the divine Spirit of Wisdom, who is the Mother or bearing Spirit of all the works of God to man; and from whom they flow, as heavenly lights to the righteous, in the new creation of God.

50. Many among the world of mankind have been engaged, for thousands of years, in searching after religion of some kind or other; but with all their searches and researches, aided by all the human wisdom they could obtain, they have never been able to find the real substance of true religion.   The reason is, true religion cannot be known without the revelation of God, and instead of looking to God for direction, and seeking to do his will, with pure hearts and clean hands, they have pursued their own imaginations, and sought religion in their own devices, and blended it with the indulgence of their own corrupt propensities.  Hence they have generally placed religion in speculative tenets, and ceremonial forms: so that among the great bulk of mankind, in every age, human creeds and human ceremonies have ever constituted the summum bonum, or essential virtues of their religion.

51. But it is through the revelation of God only, that true religion is made known to man.  And it is through this revelation alone, that the twelve Christian virtues, and their attendant graces, have been brought to light, and made manifest in the true children of God.  These virtues, proceeding from the seven Attributes, or Spirits of God, form the everlasting and unchangeable law of Christ; and this is the only true religion which ever will, or ever can save any soul, and fit it for the everlasting habitation and enjoyment of God.  Wherever the true gospel is preached, it shows forth the very essence of these virtues; and they are all thereby opened to receive souls.  Thus they represent the very gates of the New Jerusalem, into all of which the soul must finally enter, and possess their substance, according to his measure, or he can never dwell in this holy habitation.

52. By walking in this law of eternal life, souls find a progressive increase in the very nature and substance of these virtues; and become as lively stones, fitted and built up into a spiritual house, a holy temple and habitation of God.  And none can enter this holy temple, but by and through this eternal and unchangeable law, the law of the Holy City, New Jerusalem, which is revealed in and through Christ.  The operation of these virtues effectually shuts out every unholy thing, and forms the law of Christ, for the government of his church, which is the house of God, and “the habitation of his throne;” as it is written: “This is the law of the house; Upon the top of the mountain, the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy.  Behold this is the law of the house.”

53. This is the pattern of the eternal law, the only rule for Christians to walk by.  Therefore, let all judge by this, who among professors, really possess the character of true Christians.  Let all professors of religion examine themselves, and seriously consider how near they come to this pattern, shown by the Lamb, in the holy mount of God: for none can enter and dwell in the Holy City, the spiritual house of the new creation, unless they walk by this rule, and keep this law.

~ End of Part VII, Chapter 1 ~


 

CHAPTER 2.

The seven moral Principles of the Church of Christ, as reduced to practice in the United Society.

THE illustration of the twelve Christian virtues, contained in the preceding chapter, brings to view seven moral principles, which form the practical and external law of life for the direction and government of Christ’s followers in his everlasting Kingdom, which is now begun on earth.  These seven principles were established by the precepts and confirmed by the example of Jesus Christ while on earth, and may be stated in the following order:

1. Duty to God;     2. Duty to Man; 
3. Separation from the World;    4. Practical Peace; 
5. Simplicity of Language;     6. Right Use of Property;
 
  and   7. A Virgin Life.

I.   DUTY TO GOD.

1. This principle flows from the attributes of love and righteousness in God, and is inspired by faith and hope.  It is displayed in our thankfulness to God for all his goodness, and in our perfect obedience to his Divine will.  It directs all those feelings of prayer, praise and adoration, which are due to God, as the Great Author of all good, and the only source of all our happiness here and hereafter.  “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: This is the first and great commandment.  This duty is paramount to all others, and is the foundation of every moral principle.  All our moral and religious duties; all our devotions of heart and soul; all our exercises of mind and body, in the service of God, comprehending all our strength, must be founded on our love to God; otherwise we fail in our duty to him.  “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.  If a man love me, said Jesus, “he will keep my words.

2. Genuine love to God, naturally produces obedience to his commands; and whoever, in honesty and meekness, performs any of those duties which are comprehended in our duty to God, proves thereby his love to God.  But a thousand professions of love to God, will avail nothing, without obedience to his commands.  That servant who makes great professions of love to his master; yet instead of obeying his commands, or doing his service, spends his time in pursuing his own gain, and seeking his own pleasure, can neither be considered as a faithful servant, nor an honest man.  What then shall we think of that professed servant of God, who talks largely of his love to God, and yet, instead of obeying his commands, or doing his duty to God, is continually pursuing his own schemes, seeking his own pleasures, and indulging his own carnal propensities?  Surely he can neither be considered as a faithful servant of God, nor a good Christian.

3. It ought also to be remarked and seriously considered by every professor of religion, that whoever is influenced to attempt the performance of his duty to God, from any cause which is contrary to the love of God; or is influenced by any motives which do not proceed from honesty and meekness, will find his attempts to prove barren and unfruitful; and let all such beware that they are not guilty of sacrilegious mockery, instead of performing their duty to God.

 

II.   DUTY TO MAN.

4. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  This duty is second only to the preceding one, and, like that, flows from the attributes of love and righteousness.  “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them  This rule, laid down by Jesus Christ, is so plain and comprehensive, that it not only shows our duty to man, in the clearest light, but it includes every obligation of man to his fellow-creatures, under every circumstance.  Let every person endowed with rational understanding, conform strictly to this rule, and exercise it in wisdom and prudence, and with respect to this duty to man, his justification is sure and his reward certain.

5. Every violation of this rule shows a deficiency of the virtues of honesty, humility and charity, and is a transgression of the law of Christ.  As mankind are rational and social beings, the field for the exercise of this duty, is very extensive, as well as very important.  There are but few situations in life, in which a man cannot be more or less useful to his fellow creatures, in some way or other, which comes within this golden rule, as it is called; yet how few there are, in the present day, who call themselves Christians, that readily live up to this rule!

 

III.  SEPARATION FROM THE WORLD.

6. This principle flows from God’s attributes of light and holiness.  It is sown by faith, and nourished by hope and continence.  It is an important principle in the new creation, without which the children of God would soon be blended with the children of this world, and lose their relation to the Kingdom of Christ.  “My Kingdom is not of this world, said Jesus.  And though the Kingdom of Christ is now established on earth, in his chosen people; yet it is a spiritual Kingdom; and therefore cannot be blended with the kingdoms of this world.  Nor can his real subjects take part in the affairs of these kingdoms, without blending themselves, in some manner, with the world, and thereby hazarding their interest in the Kingdom of Christ.  “Know ye not, said the apostle, “that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?  Whosoever therefore, will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God.

7. Hence every faithful member of Christ’s Kingdom, feels the absolute necessity of abstaining from all those things which are connected with the honor and glory of this fallen world; from civil and political offices and emoluments; from party contentions and political strifes; from the vain pursuits of ambition and popular applause; and from all those transitory enjoyments which feed the pride and vanity, and constitute the very life of the natural man.

8. These things belong not to the Kingdom of Christ; nor has Christ any part in them; nor can those who live in these things, with any propriety, be called the subjects of his Kingdom.  The imperative testimony of eternal truth is, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you.  Neither Jesus Christ, nor any of his apostles, nor any members of the primitive church, had anything to do with the government of this world.  “When Jesus perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed out of their way.  And when requested to judge between two brothers, concerning the division of an inheritance, he replied, “Man, who made me a judge, or a divider over you?  By these things he evidently proved, agreeable to his own testimony, that his kingdom was not of this world, and that it did not belong to him to meddle with any of its concerns.

9. It would appear very inconsistent for the subjects of any earthly government, or kingdom, to hold offices and officiate in the concerns of a rival government, or enemy’s kingdom.  None but those who are real citizens or subjects, either by birth or adoption and naturalization, can take an active part in the concerns of an earthly government.  He, therefore, who would share in the concerns of a foreign government, must first renounce the government of his native country, and become a subject of that foreign government.  How, then, can the subjects of Christ’s Kingdom, which is spiritual, and not of this world, have any share in the government of this world, without first renouncing their allegiance to the Kingdom of Christ, and becoming the willing subjects of this earthly government?  For as it is an undeniable truth, that the order, powers, manners and customs of the governments of this world, are corrupted by the influences of the spirit of evil, they, of course, stand in direct opposition to the Spirit and government of Christ and his Kingdom.

10. Christ’s Kingdom and government can never be established on earth, among any people whatever, without a separation from the world; not indeed a separation from the natural creation, which is good in its order, nor from anything in it which is virtuous, commendable or useful, to his true followers; but a separation from the follies, vanities, contaminating principles, and wicked practices of fallen man, under the reigning influence of a depraved human nature; and from all those things in which the great bulk of mankind seek their own honor and glory, instead of the honor and glory of God.

 

IV.   PRACTICAL PEACE.

11. This principle flows from the attributes of love and goodness in God, and is the fruit of meekness, patience and charity.  Indeed this heavenly principle, so clearly characterizes the Spirit and Kingdom of Christ, that the violation of it seems evidently a violation of every Divine attribute, and of every Christian virtue.

12. Christ’s Kingdom is a kingdom of peace; hence his subjects must be a peaceable and harmless people.  “My Kingdom is not of this world, said Jesus: “If my Kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight.  And because his Kingdom is not of this world, those who are truly his servants will not fight.  When Peter, in his zeal to defend his Master, drew a sword and struck a servant of the high priest, “Jesus said unto him, Put up thy sword into its place, for all they that take the sword, shall perish with the sword.  Here is a plain and pointed testimony of Christ, against the use of the sword.  Indeed it is impossible, from the very nature of Christ’s Kingdom, that he should ever authorize warlike passions, jarring contentions and strife, upon any occasion whatever.

13. All the predictions of the ancient prophets concerning the nature of Christ’s Kingdom, have represented it to be a kingdom of peace; and he himself was emphatically styled The Prince of Peace, many hundred years before he made his appearance on earth.  His people are also represented as a peaceable people, dwelling in peaceable habitations; and his government is described as a government of peace.  “For thus saith the Lord, Behold I will extend peace like a river; I will make thy officers peace and thy exactors righteousness.  Violence shall no more be heard in thy land.  All thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.  The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.

14. Thus it appears that his coming, his Kingdom and his people, were described, in early ages, by the tongue of inspiration, in prophetic strains of peace.  And when the time came, his birth was announced by the angels of heaven, in glorious songs of peace. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.  And all these predictions, as far as they related to his personal ministration, in that day, were fully confirmed: for he was evidently The Prince of Peace; and his ministration was a ministration of peace and goodwill towards men, and all who were willing to receive him, were made partakers of his peace.  “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God; said he.  He taught them the way of peace and righteousness, bore their infirmities, healed their maladies, comforted them in their afflictions, encouraged and strengthened them in their faith, and at last, when about to leave them, he commended them to his Father, prayed for them, blessed them, and said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Hereafter I will not talk much with you; for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.

15. Before the preceding predictions could be fully realized, in the final establishment of Christ’s peaceable Kingdom on earth, there was a time in which the spirit of Antichrist prevailed to root out and destroy that good seed of peace which Christ had sown.  Then succeeded the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, of which Jesus had forewarned his disciples.  Then every species of abomination was committed, under the sacred name of Christianity, and blood and carnage deluged the earth, under the professed banners of The Prince of Peace.  Abomination of desolation, sure enough!  This was the work of that spirit to which Jesus alluded in saying, “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.  The prince of this world, is a prince of war, and not of peace.

16. Ever since that celebrated heathen warrior, called Constantine the Great, assumed the Christian name, to sanctify his bloody deeds, and obtained the title of the First Christian Emperor, the prince of this world has reigned among a people who have called themselves Christians.   Hence the origin of that incongruous title, Christian warriors, which has been so often applied to those murdering Cains, who have imbrued their hands in the blood of their brethren, under a profession of Christianity.  But it is in vain for the advocates of war to call themselves Christians, or to claim any relation to Christ: for they have no part in him.  They are the subjects of the prince of war, and not of the Prince of peace.  Kings, princes, nations and people, who make war upon each other, and shed the blood of their fellow men, and still claim the name of Christians, are the deluded subjects of Antichrist’s kingdom — the children of the prince of this world, who, under the assumed name of Christ, are violating the best principles of Christianity, the principles of peace and good will to men.

17. All the precepts delivered by our Savior, breathed “peace and good will to man; and they were all confirmed by his works.  And it was doubtless the peaceable tendency of his ministration and doctrines, which so alarmed the jealous and envious Jews; else why this argument?  “If we let him thus alone, said they, “all men will believe on him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.  But notwithstanding all their warlike principles, aided by their cruel policy in putting him to death, in order to stop the prevalence of his doctrines, and secure the safety of the nation, they were at length overtaken by the very calamities which their barbarous policy was intended to avert.  And it ought to be remembered, as a warning to persecutors, that the persecuting cruelty of the Jews, towards Jesus Christ and his followers, was evidently the very cause of the calamities which befell their “place and nation.

18. It is evident that Jesus Christ, and his apostles after him, invariably maintained the principles of peace, both by precept and example; and these principles were continued in the primitive church, so long as that church stood in its purity.  This fact is confirmed by the most authentic accounts of those times.  Celsus, a heathen philosopher, who wrote against the Christians in the latter part of the second century, brings this charge against them;  “That they refused to bear arms even in case of necessity; and complains, “that if the rest of the empire were of their opinion, it would soon be overrun by the barbarians.  But notwithstanding this objection of Celsus, the Romans, with all their warring powers and principles, even after professed Christians began to bear arms, were unable to save the empire from being “overrun by the barbarians.

19. It is not a little surprising that there should be so many, at the present day, who openly profess the peaceable religion of Jesus Christ, and yet are, in principle, the advocates of war, and will make the same objections against the principles of peace which this heathen made.  What then is the difference between a warring Christian and a warring heathen?  The objection of both against the principles of peace is, in substance, that if the whole nation were of this opinion, we should soon be conquered by other nations, who maintain the principles of war.  But the objections of the warring Christian evidently appear much more glaringly inconsistent: for the heathen warrior talks of no enemy but the barbarians, while the Christian warrior wishes to be armed against those who by profession are his brethren and fellow Christians.

20. But we believe, without the least shadow of doubt, that the principles of peace are the best means of preserving peace that a nation can possess.  As like causes produce like effects; so the principles of peace have a natural tendency to produce peace; while the principles of war will invariably produce war.  And we feel full confidence in the opinion, that if the principles of peace were faithfully cultivated at home, and carefully maintained in all our intercourse abroad, that they would prove a more sure protection to any nation, than the principles of war, with all its expensive preparations; and that they would also have a much greater tendency to preserve the honor and increase the glory of a nation, all the fears and apprehensions of warriors to the contrary notwithstanding.  An impartial examination of the history of all ages would doubtless confirm the truth of this remark.

21. As before observed, the principles of peace flow from the attributes of goodness and love, in God: consequently the spirit of war is opposed to these attributes.  Goodness to a nation is the result of peace; but great evils result from war.  “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; but hatred, which is the source of all wars, leads mankind to “bite and devour one another.  The spirit of war leads its advocates to revenge real or supposed injuries, and always involves the innocent with the guilty.  It produces no good will to man; but is the ruin of many for the aggrandizement of a few.  Where is the nation among all the warring powers of Europe, that has not received more injury than benefit from the wars in which it has been engaged?

22. War is opposed to God’s attributes of righteousness and justice: for although it is often waged under pretence of obtaining or defending certain real or supposed rights, or of avenging real or supposed wrongs; yet, in reality, it pays no regard to right; its great object is wrong; it seeks revenge; it produces injury; and its greatest injury often, if not most generally, falls upon those for whose rights the war was professedly undertaken — the rights of the nation — the rights of the people.  And in the end, it generally injures their rights and increases their wrongs; and is therefore, throughout, productive of great injustice.

23. The spirit of war is opposed to God’s attribute of holiness.  It engenders and promotes in man, the most unholy passions.  Ambition, pride and lust, wrath, envy and strife, revenge and cruelty, and the most heaven-daring impiety, are the notorious concomitants of war.  In short, an army, in a state of warfare, is the greatest school of vice and iniquity of any on earth.   And if any are so fortunate as to pass through it without the ruin of their moral characters; yet it must be acknowledged, that very few escape the general contamination of morals which it is calculated to produce.

24. The spirit of war is contrary to the attributes of light and truth.  It darkens the light of truth in the soul, and makes men blind to their own best interests; to their best good, both in this world and that which is to come.  It seeks, through false pretexts, to injure the innocent, as well as the guilty.  It obscures every virtuous sentiment of the heart, and falsely exalts heroic pride and daring ambition as the highest standard of merit, and the most honorable principles of man.

25. {This paragraph number was not used in the original 1848 Edition; the text continued using paragraph number 26.}

26. Finally: The spirit of war is contrary to the attributes of power and wisdom.  Certainly no human power can be so foolishly exerted, nor any human policy so unwisely employed.  The power and wisdom of God can never be exercised to favor the spirit of war, in fallen man, without operating directly against his other revealed attributes, which cannot be done: for the attributes of God can never clash with each other.  Though God may suffer one nation to contend with another, and leave both to bear the judgment of their own folly; yet he never can confer his power for the purpose of exalting the pride of fallen man, nor bestow his wisdom on such demoniac policy.  “This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual and devilish.  But the wisdom that is from above, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.  And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

 

V.   SIMPLICITY OF LANGUAGE.

27. This principle flows from God’s attributes of holiness, and is enjoined by the declarative voice of truth.  “Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbor.  It is the practical operation of the virtues of honesty and simplicity, in all our communications.  As language is the medium through which we convey our ideas, it is a matter of the first importance that our language should proceed from an honest heart.   Honesty of heart and simplicity of language, will always insure us a good conscience towards God, and proper respect towards our fellow men; and safely conduct us through all the scenes of this mortal life.  “Swear not at all, said Jesus, “but let your communication be yea, yea, and nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.  It has been objected that this alludes to profane oaths; but these were condemned by the law of Moses; and it is evident from the express testimony of Jesus Christ, that he had reference to the oaths allowed by the law, as well as all others.  “Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shall perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all.  What can be more plain and pointed.

     {Note: In the1848 original, paragraph numbers 26 & 27 appeared a second time within this Simplicity of Language-section of text .}

26. Jesus Christ having thus pointedly excluded all swearing, it is therefore evident that oaths do not belong to his Kingdom; consequently true Christians can have nothing to do with them.  Hence the practice of swearing must belong exclusively to those kingdoms, nations and people, who are under the government of the prince of this world.  Its professed object is to prevent false testimony in judicial causes, and maintain confidence in civil society, and in the reciprocal transactions between man and man.  But the numerous frauds continually practiced, under the sanction of oaths, to the great perversion of truth and righteousness, are so many proofs of their insufficiency to maintain justice and equity in civil governments.  We believe that a man who has not a principle of honesty in himself; will never be made honest by the formality of an oath.  And there is doubtless much propriety in the vulgar maxim, “He that will swear, will lie..

27. All swearing and taking the name of God in vain; all profane language, foolish talking, vain jesting, and using sacred words and sacred names, in foolish exclamations; all low and profane vulgarisms; all filthy and obscene language, calculated to defile the sense and exclude the fear and love of God from the soul, and whatever else is contrary to the spirit of honesty, simplicity and truth, are violations of this principle; they manifest a vain, empty, wicked mind, and mark a soul destitute of the fear of God.  “Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.  All lying and deceit, all quibbling, cavilling and double-dealing, and in short, every kind of communication, and every manner of expression, and all use of language which does not proceed from an honest heart, is not consistent with plain and simple truth, are violations of this principle.  “Be what you seem to be, and seem to be what you really are, is a maxim enjoined by our first Elders, and is held as a sacred principle by every faithful believer.

28. We are not required to communicate all we know, or all that we have heard and seen, whenever it is demanded of us, without any respect of persons, place or circumstances; this would be the height of folly and weakness, and would do more harm than good.  “The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright.  We ought to guard carefully against all unnecessary and disorderly communications, and especially against communications to those who are liable to make a bad use of them, or to an enemy who is seeking to take undue advantage of us.  Tale-bearing does not belong to the followers of Christ; it is of the wicked one; it is an enemy that “soweth discord.

29. But in all our intercourse, with all people, where a reciprocal communication is required for mutual understanding; or where reasonable intelligence is required, from just and reasonable motives, a fair, open and free communication will not, and cannot be justly withheld, by any truly honest and upright soul.  And in all our communications, nothing but the plain and simple truth can justify us: for although we may be justified in withholding the truth, where its communication is unnecessary, and can do no good; yet we cannot be justified in uttering a falsehood, on any occasion whatever.

30. All flattering titles, and vain appellations of distinction, calculated to exalt the pride and feed the vanity of man, being in direct opposition to simplicity of language, are therefore excluded from among the humble followers of Christ.  Titles of honor and terms of adulation, designed to flatter fallen man, and reverence him above his Maker, find no place here.  Hence the vain addresses of Sir and Madam, Mister and Miss, and the like, are excluded from the language of the United Society, as contrary to the law of Christ and the simplicity of his gospel.  “Be ye not called Rabbi; for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.  Our Savior here alluded to the haughty, high-minded Scribes and Pharisees, who were fond of worldly honors and titles of distinction, and warned his disciples against following their example.

31. Thus he condemned the love of worldly honors, and flattering titles of distinction, as unbecoming the children of God and servants of Christ.  Yet how often do we see, at this day, those who profess to be the servants of Christ, seeking and obtaining titles of honor and distinction which he never assumed, and never authorized his followers to assume; such as Doctor of Divinity; Reverend Sir; Right Reverend Father in God, and the like.  These high-sounding titles, so fascinating to antichristian vanity, are conferred, like that of Ambassadors of Christ, by human authority, and not by the authority of God.  And thus these aspiring dignitaries, while they profess to be the humble followers of the meek and lowly Savior, instead of following his self-denying and humiliating example, must be dignified, and almost deified, with ecclesiastical titles, far above anything ever assumed by the Lord Jesus Christ.

32. How clearly do such professors show that they are under the influence of that spirit, “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God?  But the day is fast approaching when, “God will lay judgment to the line, and righteousness to the plummet; and all these profane and sacrilegious honors will be swept away with “the refuge of lies.

 

VI.   RIGHT USE OF PROPERTY.

33. This principle flows from the attributes of righteousness and love; and in it is fully displayed the virtues of simplicity, humility and charity.  It is an important duty, and a distinguishing privilege of the gospel.  The true followers of Christ are one with him, as he is one with the Father.  This oneness includes all they possess: for he who has devoted himself to Christ, soul, body and spirit, can by no means withhold his property.  As Christ, by his oneness with the Father, is made a partaker, in his lot and office, of all the attributes of God; so the true followers of Christ are, according to their measure, made partakers of all that he possesses; agreeable to his prayer to the Father: “The glory which thou gavest me, I have given to them; that they may be one, even as we are one.

34. This oneness is the fruit of the gospel, and it can be obtained in no other way than by obedience to the gospel.  The very nature and design of the gospel of Christ, is to lead souls into this oneness that they may possess one faith, enjoy one hope, and be able “keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.  This unity of the spirit leads to a oneness in all things, both spiritual and temporal; while the nature of selfishness tends only to scatter and divide.  Hence mankind, under the influence of selfishness, are led to support and build up a separate interest, in all things.  Dear self is the great object of all their concern and all their pursuits.  The selfish man acts from selfish motives, in all his undertakings; even in his professed acts of charity, he bestows his alms with a view to trumpet forth his own praise, and obtain honor of men.

35. But it is impossible for souls who really enjoy the unity of the spirit, to feel satisfied with a separate enjoyment which their Brethren and Sisters might, with equal propriety, partake with them.  Their comfort, their peace, their happiness, their enjoyments of every kind, are greatly augmented by sharing them in union with their brethren and sisters.  Nor can they feel unwilling to suffer with them in their afflictions.  Hence, after having experienced the blessed enjoyments of this unity, their temporal property would feel like an intolerable burden to them, were they condemned to share it alone.

36. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.  But selfish man has long claimed it as his, and long appropriated it to his own use.  Forgetting that he owes all to God, he is continually grasping after more to gratify his own selfish propensities.  But man was created to serve God; and he is required to serve him with all his faculties, which were given him for that very purpose.  He is also required to serve God with his property, which was committed to his charge for the same purpose.

37. Our time in this world is but short: but a little while and we must appear before God, to give an account of the improvement we have made with our time and talents, and the temporal property intrusted to our care.  If God has endowed us with talents to do good to our fellow mortals, we cannot be justified unless we improve those talents to that very purpose.  And if he has also made us heirs of temporal property, or furnished us with means and faculties to acquire it, as faithful stewards of God’s heritage, we are so much the more accountable for the improvement we make of these privileges.  Then let us improve them wisely.

38. There are many, very many of our fellow beings, as good by nature as ourselves, and doubtless as precious in the sight of God, who, through misfortune, are suffering for the want of the good things which we enjoy; and shall we be justified before God, if we do not extend the hand of charity according to our ability?  By no means.  The parable of the rich man and Lazarus is an instructive lesson to those who possess property.  While many a poor, suffering, but honest Lazarus lies pining in misery and want, shall we withhold the crumbs of charity?  Shall we suffer the dogs to outdo us in acts of kindness?  If so, we must expect the scale shortly to be turned.

39. How many are the favorites of fortune, who share largely in the things of this world, and yet expend the property entrusted to their charge, in gratifying their own selfish propensities, in living in luxurious splendor, in faring sumptuously every day; while many of their poor neighbors are pining in poverty, and suffering under the hard hand of misfortune, and would gladly share in the fragments wasted by extravagance or thrown to the dogs!   Could these wealthy sons of pleasure draw aside the veil of futurity, and behold the day in which those who thus abuse their riches, will be constrained to cry to the suffering poor, from whom they now withhold the hand of charity, and beg for a drop of water to cool their tongues, they might then see the awful responsibility which lies upon the rich, and feel the vast importance of making a right use of their property.

40. The advice of Jesus Christ to the rich man, who desired to know what he should do to inherit eternal life, is an instructive lesson to the rich.  Origen, who lived in the latter part of the second century, has related this circumstance, as recorded in a book, (now lost) entitled; The Gospel according to the Hebrews.  It is given by Origen in the Greek language, and quoted by Lardner, who gives the following translation:

41. “A certain rich man said to him, Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may live?  He said unto him, Man, keep the law and the prophets.  He answered him, That I have done.  He said unto him, Go sell all that thou hast, and distribute among the poor, and come follow me.  But the rich man began to scratch his head, and it did not please him, And the Lord said unto him, How sayest thou, I have kept the law and the prophets? seeing it is written in the law, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself; and behold, many of thy brethren, sons of Abraham, are clothed with rags, ready to perish for hunger, whilst thy house is filled with all sorts of good things, and nothing goes out of it to them.  And turning about, he said to his disciple Simon, who was sitting by him, Simon, son of Joanna, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

42. “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein.  And as there are many in the world who, by the favor of Divine Providence, enjoy much more than a competency, it is doubtless with a view to prove them, and see what use they will make of their property, that God has thus noticed and distinguished them above the suffering poor whom he has placed in their neighborhood for the same wise purpose.  How then can so many of these probationary sons of wealth assume the Christian name, and professedly devote themselves to the service of God, while they withhold their property and essential services for their own selfish purposes?  And what is a professed devotion of the soul, while all that a man sets his heart and affections upon, in this world, is withheld?  So he may profess love and charity for his poor neighbor, and yet give him nothing.  Where then is the evidence of his love and charity? and how is his neighbor benefitted by either?

43. What reward has that servant to expect, who professes to devote himself to his master’s service, to do his will, while at the same time he actually devotes his time and talents, with all he possesses, in serving himself, and doing his own will?  Will his master accept of empty professions and promises for real service?  Will he, or ought he to reward him as a faithful servant?  In justice he cannot: righteousness would forbid it.

44. Let every professor of Christianity, and especially those who possess property, apply the case to himself, and then ask his own soul, what reward he has a right to expect hereafter, for his profession, without a real and actual devotion of substantial service, with all he possesses to God.   Can he expect a substantial reward for professed services, empty prayers and formal ceremonies, which cost him little or nothing, and which afford his poor neighbors, and even his fellow Christians, no real benefit, temporal nor spiritual, to soul nor body?

45. Though many of the rich are able, in their individual capacities, to do much good with their interest, were they so disposed, without impairing the principle; yet experience has proved, in the United Society, that under the blessing of God, the right use of property, in conformity to the law of Christ, is best promoted, among his followers, by uniting it in a common stock, where all belonging to the Society, can unite to make it an increasing interest, for benevolent purposes, and at the same time, enjoy a competency out of it, upon terms of equality.  Thus used, it affords a competent support to its former possessors, and is still increasing in usefulness, to answer the demands of benevolence and charity.  The same experience also proves, that a little, with union and harmony, and under judicious management, suffices to supply many wants.

46. It is doubtless generally understood, that Jesus Christ and his little family of disciples, all fared alike, being chiefly dependent on the contents of the same scrip, for their temporal support.  The primitive church at Jerusalem, was also founded on a united interest.  “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul; neither said any of them, that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

47. Thus they divested themselves of all selfishness, and like a band of disinterested brethren and sisters, lived in love and harmony, and all fared alike.  These amiable examples were designed as a pattern for Christians; and had all who have since professed that name, been led by the true spirit of the gospel, and carefully conformed to this pattern, what an amiable and harmonious band of Christian nations might, long ere this day, have existed upon earth!

 

VII.  A VIRGIN LIFE.

48. The term virgin implies purity, and when used literally to express the quality of anything, it signifies pure, unmixed, undefiled, unadulterated.  Hence the terms virgin gold, virgin copper, virgin snow, and the like, are used to represent those substances in a pure, unadulterated state.  A virgin life, therefore, means a life of purity, a life undefiled with sinful indulgences, unmixed with corrupt practices, unadulterated with carnal gratifications and impure desires and pursuits.  But the sense to which we more immediately confine it, and which is indeed the most obvious, is to express a life of continence, or a life of abstinence from the carnal gratifications of the flesh, from sexual coition, and from all lascivious indulgences.

49. This pure principle flows from the attribute of holiness, and is the genuine offspring of continence and innocence.  “God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.  Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.  Hence it is evident that, without purity and holiness, we cannot find acceptance in the sight of God.  And it is an immutable truth, that the heavenly sensations of purity and holiness, and the unclean passion of lechery can never abide together in any soul: for where the former are in operation the latter is effectually excluded; and where the latter is in operation it equally excludes the former.  Hence a virgin life is that which approaches the nearest to God, and partakes most of the Divine nature.  This appears evident from the following well authenticated facts.

50.   1. Among the ancient heathens, whatever was esteemed sacred and pure, was committed to the care of virgins.  Their sacred fire was entrusted to virgins; their sacred oracles, prophetic warnings, and other divine manifestations were given to virgins.  So that notwithstanding their false religion, it is evident that on many important occasions, their virgins were honored with the prophetic gifts of the Spirit of God.

51.  2. The devout Jews esteemed the virgin life the most pure; and virgins were often honored with prophetic oracles and gifts of the Spirit, when such manifestations of Divine favor were almost entirely withdrawn from all other classes of people among them.  Josephus informs us that the Essenes, who maintained the virtue of continence, were many of them favored with Divine revelations.

52.  3. In the days of the apostles, virgins were particularly honored with the Spirit of God.   The daughters of Philip the evangelist were virgins, and were blest with prophetic gifts.  It is stated by Dr. Horneck, that in the days of the primitive Christians, “Thousands of their virgins freely dedicated themselves to God, and would be married to none but him; and though many times they were tempted by rich fortunes, yet nothing could alter their resolutions.”

53.   4. From the most authentic accounts we have of the Christian religion, in different ages, since the days of primitive Christianity, it appears evident that those people, under whatever name or sect they have been classed, who from a principle of devotion to God, have maintained a life of continence, notwithstanding they have been generally stigmatized as heretics, and have had their names cast out as evil, have been more highly favored, as a people, with the effusions of the Holy Spirit, and more particularly blessed, as individuals, with the heavenly gifts of God, than any other class of people whatever.  These things prove the purity of the virgin character in the sight of God.

54. The term virgin is often used, in the language of the prophets, to represent the Church of Christ, and to signify purity of character; and to that character the promises of God were given.  The prophet Jeremiah, in his predictions concerning the latter day of glory, three times in one chapter, applies the appellation of virgin to the millennial church, by which he evidently points out its purity.  “Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel! thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets {tabors; tambourines}, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.  Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together.  Turn again, O virgin of Israel! turn again to these thy cities.

55. It will probably be contended by some, that the prophet has here used the term virgin merely as a figure, to represent the church in its pure and happy state; not with any particular allusion to the character of continence, but in allusion to its general purity.  This is, at least, admitting the purity of the virgin character.  But it is necessary to observe in the first place, that a figure must bear a true analogy to the substance; otherwise it cannot be a proper figure.  We would then ask, whether the selection of this term, as a figure of purity, does not clearly show that the character itself is more pure in the sight of God, than any other?  If so, then is not its opposite the most impure?   Again: If God has chosen to represent his people by a figure which implies the most pure character, does he not therefore require that they should support that character by the most pure life?  And if the virgin life is the most pure, did he not intend that they should live such a life?  If not, then where is the consistency of representing them by a figure which implies a pure character?

56. When all this is duly considered, we must conclude that the term virgin was designed, not only as a standing memorial of that life which is the most pure in the sight of God; but also as a most powerful evidence that God did design that a people of that character should build and inherit the church of the latter day.  This truth may be more fully confirmed and illustrated by the following remarks and observations.

57.   1. Jesus Christ was born of a virgin.  Thus a pure virgin character was chosen to receive the first seed of the New Creation; an incontestable evidence of the pure nature of that work which he was sent to introduce into the world, for the salvation and redemption of mankind from that impure nature in which they were begotten.  And as his conception was without sexual impurity, it teaches us that, at the first entrance of souls into the life of Christ, they must reject that very impurity which was first rejected in his conception.

58. The miraculous birth of Jesus Christ by a virgin, also shows that, in him, the work of natural generation ceased, and a new and spiritual Creation commenced.  Hence in the regeneration, all who are begotten of Christ, must necessarily cease from that work, or lose that spiritual life which they receive from him.  Though he was born into the world, yet he was not of the world.  The same remark will apply to all his true followers, according to his own testimony: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”  It is readily admitted by all that it was not the work of Jesus Christ to propagate an earthly offspring; and the same is equally true of his followers also: for “if they are not of the world, even as he is not of the world,” they can have no more to do with its works of generation than he had; because that work belongs solely to the children of the world, and not to the followers of Christ: they have a very different work to do.

59.   2. The cross of Christ necessarily includes a virgin life, or a life of continence; because the carnal nature of man must die, before the soul can ever rise to God; and that nature, having its source and foundation in sexual coition, is fed and nourished by lascivious indulgences; therefore its death cannot be effected without this cross; and there is nothing in nature; nothing within the comprehension of the natural man, which can be more crossing to that carnal propensity than a life of continence.

60. The follower of Christ is indeed required to deny himself, and take up his cross against every evil propensity that pertains to man’s fallen nature; but he finds none so powerful, in nature, as that which is directly opposed to a life of virgin purity; because that is the source of all others; and therefore a cross against that propensity, is necessarily included in the general, self-denying cross which, according to the testimony of Christ must be taken up in order to become his disciples; and indeed it is much the most weighty and important part of the cross of self-denial.

61. “If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.  Here we have the plain and positive declaration of Jesus Christ, that not only these natural relatives which stand in connection with the man, according to the order of natural generation, but even his own life also must be hated, or he cannot be a disciple of Christ.

62. But mankind are so prone to the indulgence of that fallen nature which binds them to the flesh, that they will exert every faculty to evade the force of truth and abolish the cross.  They are willing to apply any other meaning to Christ’s words, and to acknowledge faith in any other cross, except that which strikes at the very source of their carnal enjoyments — the very choicest of all their pleasures — the very life of the natural man.  Such a cross is too painful for a fallen and corrupted nature to endure; it is killing — it is death to such a nature.

63. But the painful excitement, the distressing opposition which man’s carnal nature feels against such a cross, is a most powerful evidence of its necessity.  And were there no other argument in favor of it, this alone is sufficient to convince us that it is the very cross to which Christ had a particular reference: for that nature must be destroyed out of the soul of man before he can find his redemption; and this cross of Christ is purposely designed to effect its destruction, without which it never will be destroyed.

64.   3. The nature of fallen man is selfish, being wholly bent on selfish gratifications.  His desires are selfish; because they are directed solely to objects which tend to gratify his selfishness.  His love is selfish; because it is confined to those who indulge and please his selfishness.  In short, the gratification of self is the great object of all his pursuits.  This selfish nature is doomed to destruction, and it is this which Christ requires his followers to hate.  They are not required to hate the souls nor the bodies of their natural kindred, nor of any other creature: for this would be inconsistent with the whole tenor of Christ’s precepts and examples.  But the real object of hatred is that fallen, selfish nature, which is the very life and support of this carnal relation, which binds the soul of man to the earth, and which produces and strengthens all his carnal and earthly connections.

65. Carnal affections must die, that spiritual affections may live: for it is impossible for both to have an abiding residence in the soul.  Carnal affections are selfish; they cleave to natural kindred; they are chiefly confined to those narrow limits which circumscribe the connective ties of the flesh and blood, and seldom, if ever, extend further than to those who are excited by interest, or some other selfish motive, to indulge, flatter and exalt their selfishness.  And even here they are liable to be turned from one flattering object to another more flattering, and which can afford a higher gratification to self.   So contracted, selfish and fleeting are carnal affections.

66. But spiritual affections are not circumscribed within so small a compass.  They cannot be confined to such narrow limits; they embrace the whole creation of God; they shed abroad their benign love to all the human race; they extend the hand of kindness and charity according to the spirit of that Divine precept, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  The most powerful operations and the most extensive stretch of natural affections are very feeble and limited, when compared with the widespread effusions and divine operations of spiritual and heavenly affections.  These heavenly affections are the rich and abiding treasure of every faithful believer; they are the treasures of a life of continence, the fruits of the cross of Christ, the genuine offspring of a virgin life.  As carnal affections have a natural tendency to produce selfishness; with all its consequences; so spiritual affections will bring forth the genuine fruits of peace, love and disinterested benevolence.

67.   4. Man is required to love God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength, and to place his highest affections there.  He is at the same time, required to deny himself of all those carnal and earthly propensities, affections and lusts which bind him to the flesh, and which constitute the life of the natural man, in his fallen and depraved state; and in this sense, he is required to hate his own life.  It is the same fallen and depraved nature which he is required to hate in all his earthly kindred.  And when this nature is overcome and destroyed in himself, and in them, by the power of the gospel and a daily cross, then there is room for Christ to dwell in the soul, and the man can then love God in every such soul, whether they have been connected with him by the kindred ties of the flesh or not.  God is no respecter of persons; and those who have the Spirit of God dwelling in them, will love those best who possess the most of that spirit.

68. When therefore, this important work is effected in the soul, by subjection and obedience to the cross of Christ; when the soul has gained a complete victory over that carnal, selfish nature, which first led to a wife, and, in its effects, produced all those carnal connections which bound his affections to a carnal life; then he has obeyed the precepts of Christ, and fully proved his hatred of that life, with all its connections, by renouncing it and traveling out of it; and then also, is fulfilled to him, and in him, the promise of Christ: “There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake and the gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

69. Here then is the substance of the true virgin life; and this is its promised reward.  Here is the hatred which constitutes a true Christian disciple, and the blessing which follows it.   A full and final cross against the carnal nature of the flesh, and a hatred of that life, with all those affections and lusts which have a natural tendency to indulge and gratify it.  In the reward, the wife is not found; but persecutions supply her place.  Nothing will sooner kindle the fire of persecution than a cross against this carnal life; especially where a wife is irreconciled to bear a part in the cross which her husband has conscientiously taken up for Christ’s sake and the gospel’s.

70. But, replies the objector, it cannot be that wives are to be hated and forsaken; for the apostle Paul says, “Husbands, love your wives.”  A very weak objection truly, after what has already been said on the subject.  But objectors generally omit the most important part of this passage, which shows in what manner the apostle taught the married Christians, of that day, to love their wives; we will therefore take the liberty to transcribe the passage in connection, and let modern Christians see whether they live up to the apostle’s instructions.  “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it; — that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish: So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies.”  Christ’s love to the church, according to this testimony, does not lead him to defile it, but to sanctify and cleanse it, that it may be holy, and without blemish.  “So ought men to love their wives;” not with a carnal love, but with the same pure virgin love; not defiling themselves and their wives with the impure gratifications of lust; but in living lives of continence — in maintaining a virgin life.

71.   5. The same apostle also says, in another place, “I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”  It was as a chaste virgin that they were to be presented to Christ; and he would accept them in no other character.  Knowing this, the holy zeal of the apostle was stirred up to admonish these Corinthian Christians; lest their minds should be led away from the purity and simplicity of the gospel, so that they would not preserve their bodies “in sanctification and honor,” by following the principles of purity and holiness, by living as Christ lived, and walking as he walked, which was evidently in a life of continence and chastity, — in a virgin life.  If then, this principle of a virgin life were of the world, the world would undoubtedly love its own.  But the very nature of man is wholly opposed to it, which is a sufficient evidence that it is not of the world, but of a superior origin.

72.   6. But the most plain and pointed testimony of the apostle in favor of a virgin life, is given in the seventh chapter of his first epistle to the Corinthians, by which he clearly shows the wide difference between virgin purity, and sexual indulgence; and in which he prophetically points to a day of more perfect purity, when all such indulgences must come to an end.  And all the attempts of modern Christians to draw from the apostle’s doctrine any license to indulge their lascivious propensities, are but so many evidences of the depraved state of their own minds, and their ignorance of the true nature of that gospel purity which the apostle is so careful to impress upon the minds of the Corinthian Christians.

73. “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me,” saith the apostle; “It is good for a man not to touch a woman.”  Having laid down this principle at the beginning of the chapter, he could not reverse it without involving himself in a contradiction.  “For,” as he said on another occasion, “if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor,”  Nor is there the least evidence to be found, in any of his writings, that he ever ceased to give the preference to a virgin life; although the time was not then come for a full manifestation of the truth on this subject.

74. “It is good for a man not to touch a wife. But because of the fornications, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.  This is the extent of the apostle’s toleration; and he affirms that he spoke this by permission, and not of commandment.  And why this permission?  Evidently because of the uncontrollable passions of many among these Corinthians, whom the apostle calls carnal, and who, previous to their conversion to Christianity, had been accustomed to a plurality of wives, and whose licentious habits, even after their conversion, could hardly be controlled within the bounds of moral decency, notwithstanding all the apostle’s permissions and indulgences.  But all these indulgences, which modern Christians so readily arrogate to themselves, to justify their lascivious practices, cannot alter the nature of holiness, nor lessen our obligations to follow Christ’s example.

75. It is contended by many, that the apostle gave his instructions in favor of a virgin life by permission only; but the fact is directly the reverse; nor is there any deviation, in all his writings, from the principle laid down in the first verse of this chapter; and every indulgence permitted to the Corinthians, was evidently on account of their weakness.  It would have been very extraordinary indeed, for the apostle to recommend continence and virgin purity by permission, or grant it as an indulgence, when every feeling of the carnal nature of man was wholly opposed to it.  Nor would ten thousand permissions ever induce one carnally minded soul to take up such a cross; nor would he ever take it up so long as he could find the least hope of salvation without it.

76. The apostle’s permission, therefore, was not in behalf of those who were willing to take up their crosses; but in behalf of those who chose rather to indulge the flesh than to cross it.  And the plain reason why these permissions and indulgences were suffered in that day, was, that the day of full redemption was not then come; and therefore a full and final cross against those indulgences, could not then be absolutely required.  But the apostle told them plainly what was the best way; and those who had spiritual discernment enough to prize a life of purity, followed the apostle’s advice.

77. Again it is said that, “the present distress, mentioned by the apostle, alluded to outward afflictions, occasioned by persecution.  But this is not true; nor can any evidence be produced, either from sacred or profane history, to warrant such a conclusion; but on the contrary, the time when the apostle wrote this epistle, appears to have been a time of the greatest tranquility the primitive church ever enjoyed; nor has the apostle ever given the least hint that persecution was the cause of that precept.

78. The real cause was the uncontrollable passions of these carnal professors, which the apostle strove to keep within some bounds, by certain permissions and indulgences, in a lawful way; otherwise they would have been ensnared by the devil and their own lusts, and led into fornication and adultery.  That this was the real state of many among these Corinthians, will appear very evident on examining the third, fifth and sixth chapters of this same epistle.   Yet that there were some among them who were spiritually minded, appears certain by their writing to the apostle on this subject; and his answer is a clear proof that many evils had got in among them.

79. We do not disagree with the apostle, that those who cannot, or will not abstain from fornication, would do better to marry and confine themselves to one wife, and become orderly members of civil society, than to continue in the practice of promiscuous debauchery.  But a thousand indulgences to carnal men and women can never purify the nature of lust, nor purge it out of the soul.  The marriage of the world still belongs to the first Adam, and not to the second; to the kingdoms of this world, and not to the kingdom of Christ.  This appears evident from the apostle’s own testimony in this same discourse, from which carnal Christians draw so much indulgence to please the flesh.  Why do they not see the distinction?

80. “He that is married, careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.”  Also, “she that is married, careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.”  But the unmarried, or those who live a virgin life, “care for the things of the Lord, how they may be holy, both in body and in spirit.”  Here we see the principle of a holy life directly pointed out; therefore let those who desire holiness, follow it.  “I would that all men were even as I myself,” says the apostle, who himself was not married.  “I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I.”

81.    7. But after all the apostle’s permissions and indulgences to the Corinthians, whom he declares to be “carnal,” he points them to a future day in which all these indulgences must cease; when carnal gratifications, separate possessions, and whatever else among Christians pertained to the customs and manners of a selfish world, must be done away in the church of Christ; and a more inward and spiritual work be wrought in the soul, and a new order of things succeed in the church.  “But this I say, brethren, The time is short.  It remaineth, that both they that have wives, be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not: and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world as not abusing it; for the fashion of this world passeth away.”

82. Some have supposed that the apostle alluded to a state beyond the grave; but a little reflection will show the inconsistency of this supposition.  To make it consistent, they must also suppose that the practice of buying and using this world is likewise to be carried beyond the grave.  But this they themselves would hardly believe.  The truth is, that passage points directly to the second coming of Christ, and the established order of his Kingdom on earth, in which the apostle evidently foresaw that a final cross against the carnal indulgence of the flesh, would put an end to that use which had hitherto been made of wives: That those who had them, would enjoy them as sisters in Christ, and not as wives in Adam: That the church of Christ, by being separated from the world, and united in spirit, would possess a united interest, which would preclude all buying and selling for individual and selfish purposes; and that thereby a right use of property would take place in the church, where the things of this world would be used without abuse: And that, in this period, believers, under the operation of an inward, spiritual work of God upon the soul, would both weep and rejoice in spirit, without discovering the feelings and exercises of their souls to the view of an unbelieving world.

83. Having seen, felt and experienced all these things, we are able to testify that no other meaning can, with any consistency, be applied to the apostle’s prediction.  So clearly indeed has he pointed out the millennial Church, in that short passage, that its faith and order could not be more completely described, in so few words, notwithstanding the work has actually taken place.  And we bless God that we have lived to see the day in which it is so clearly and amply fulfilled; that the true virgin life is made manifest in this our day, and we are called to be partakers of it; that we can “possess this world as though we possessed it not;” for we know that the “fashion of this world is passed away,” as it respects the lives which we live in it. 

84.   8. “And I looked, and lo! a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him a hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.”  This is not a mere external name, consisting of significant letters or characters; but the pure nature of God being formed in them, the very image of purity and holiness shines forth in their countenances, and displays itself in all their words and actions.  But who are those hundred and forty-four thousand?  “These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins.”

85. Some suppose this to include that particular number only, who will attain to that honor.  Be this as it may, it is a striking evidence that none but those who live a virgin life can obtain so great a privilege; and therefore such a life must not only be the most acceptable in the sight of God and the Lamb, but is that alone which can stand with the Lamb on Mount Zion.

86. “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.”  That is, they walk in perfect obedience to the law of Christ, and follow his example in all purity and holiness; not defiling themselves with women, nor living in any uncleanness, or in any selfish gratification whatever.   “These were redeemed from among men, being the first-fruits unto God, and to the Lamb.”  Having followed Christ in the regeneration; that is, having lived a life of virgin purity, after his example, by taking up their crosses against all those carnal indulgences of the flesh which pertain to the works of generation, they were redeemed from that nature by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit.

87. “And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.”  They have taken up their crosses against all sin, and every evil word and work; and by their obedience to the law of Christ, have obtained a victory over the very nature of evil: for how could they be otherwise without fault?  Such, and such only, are with the Lamb.  And the song which they sing, is a song of praise and thanksgiving to God for their redemption, and which cannot be sung except by those who, through a life of virgin purity, have obtained complete redemption from the lost nature of the flesh.

88. In this vision of John, is a prophetic display of the true character of the work of God on earth, in the great millennial day of Christ, which is, as it were, but just commenced.  And these virgin characters, above described, are the subjects of it: and none will finally be able to stand the test of this great day, without becoming the subjects of this work, and attaining to this character.  Thus we have John’s vision of the appearance of the Lamb on Mount Zion and the character of those with him; then follows his vision of the everlasting gospel.

89. “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of Heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.  Here we find that the gospel is preached, after the appearance of the Lamb on Mount Zion.  This is an evidence, not only that the gospel is to be preached after the second coming of Christ, but also that those to whom it is to be preached had no previous knowledge of his having made his appearance; but are yet to be informed of it by the testimony of the preacher.  After this succeeds the fall of Babylon, and the judgment of God upon those who worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark.

90. These things show that, after the second coming of Christ, the gospel will be preached to all nations, kindreds and tongues; and that those who refuse to obey it, and still continue in the course and practice of the world, will inevitably fall under the judgment of God, both in this world and that which is to come.  For the loud voice of the angel alludes to the preaching of the gospel to a sinful world, by ministers sent of God, with angelic or heavenly power and authority.  After this follows the harvest of the world.

91. “And I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.  And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap; for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.

92. It will be proper to remark here, that the work of harvest, which is a progressive work, is a striking figure of the work of Christ’s second appearing, which is called The harvest of the world.  As a field of wheat is not cut down with one stroke of the sickle; but that which is the ripest is first cut down and gathered, and the reaping continued, as the grain becomes ripe, till all is cut down, separated and gathered into the barn; so is the harvest of the world, in the day of Christ’s second appearing.

93. The white cloud represents a cloud or multitude of pure witnesses, those who stand on Mount Zion with the Lamb.  The Spirit of Christ in these witnesses, is the sharp sickle, which goes forth by the word of their testimony, through the preaching of the everlasting gospel, which cuts off and separates souls from the life of the world; and thus they are harvested out of the world; so that their life is no longer of the world, but of Christ.  Thus the principle of a virgin life is implanted in them: “for they are virgins.  Therefore they can, henceforth, no more propagate a natural offspring than the grain that is gathered into the barn, and devoted to be made into bread, for the use of the owner, can be again sown in the earth and bring forth fruit.

94. The progress of the work here described will fulfil the prediction of Christ; “This gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations: and then shall the end come.

~ End of Part VII, Chapter 2 ~


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