LETTER FOUR to J. T. Molesworth, Esq..
We are agreed - are we not? That eternal life is one thing, and the millennial kingdom is another? May not, then, these two distinct benefits be by God set on two different, or even opposite footings?
Eternal life is God’s gift of grace to all his elect. Thereon we are one in sentiment.
But is not an entrance into the millennial kingdom made to turn upon our obedience? Is it not proposed as the prize set before those justified by God’s grace? So it seems to me. Allow me, then, to offer to your notice some of the evidence of Scripture which to me appears abundantly to prove it.
The present day is the day of grace, "the day of salvation, the accepted time:" 2 Cor. 6: 2. God’s ambassadors are in the world, themselves reconciled to God, and seeking to lead others to be reconciled to God.
But the coming day is "the day of justice," or as we usually render it, "the day of judgment." Believers are to be judged in that day. Judgment will Jesus "send forth unto victory," after His time of patience with the bruised reed and smoking flax is past: Matt. 12: 20. Men are to give account of their words in that day, being by them either justified or condemned: ver. 36, 37. We shall need boldness in that day: 1 John 4: 17. "In that day" the work of each is to be tried: 1 Cor. 3: 13; Rom. 2: 16. The Lord shall then give the crown of righteousness to Paul: 2 Tim. 4: 7, 8; 1: 12. The day effects all believers: Phil. 1: 10; 2 Cor. 1: 14; Phil. 2: 16.
The general principle on which the judgment of that time will be conducted is, "According to the works" of each. "All the churches shall know that I am he that searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works:" Rev. 2: 23. "I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give every man (each) according as his work shall be:" 22: 12. "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then shall he reward every man (each) according to his works:" Matt. 16: 27. See also 2 Cor. 5: 10; Rom. 2: 16; 1 Cor. 3: 8, 13.
While then in the day of salvation we are justified by faith, and its issue is eternal life; in the coming day of justice we shall need to be justified by works. And this is the sister truth which James in his epistle testifies. He is a witness concerning the kingdom, (Jas.2: 5) and treads in the steps of our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount. He argues, in the second chapter of his epistle, that in that day, and in order to admission into the kingdom, the possession of faith without the exhibition of works will not profit. He cites the case of Abraham. He was justified by works at the close of his life, and then came forth the oath of God ratifying all His promises.
"By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed [which is Christ] shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed [which is Christ] shall all the nations of the earth be blessed: BECAUSE THOU HAST OBEYED MY VOICE:" Gen. 22: 16-18. But lest it should be imagined that Paul and James were at variance, he adds, That these good works sprang from Abraham, as already justified by faith. God expects to justify the justified by faith.
This is the word whenever the [millennial] kingdom is in question. "Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance;" "Every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire:" Matt. 3: 8, 10; 5: 20; 7: 21. "When thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just:" Luke 14: 13, 14.
Good works are to be done, and not for the eye of men; else there is no reward from the Father: Matt. 6: 1-18. Paul connects good works with looking for the blessed hope of the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, "who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works :" Titus 2: 14; 3: 1, 8, 14. We were new created, in order to produce them: Eph. 2: 10.
observe, Jesus will demand excellence in order to accounting any worthy
to enter the [millennial] kingdom. The
question arose concerning the resurrection of the righteous. "And Jesus
answering said unto them, The children of this world (age) marry and are given
in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that
world, (age) and the resurrection
from (among) the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage: Neither can they
die any more: for they are equal unto the angels, and are children of God,
being children of the resurrection:" Luke
20: 34-36. “Watch ye therefore, and pray always
that ye may be accounted worthy to
escape all these things that shall come to pass, [i.e., things which are to occur during the Great Tribulation] and to stand (be set) before the Son of man:" 21: 36. To
the Thessalonians Paul says, that their sufferings for Christ’s sake were a
clear indication of God’s righteous judgment, “that YE
MAY BE ACCOUNTED WORTHY OF THE
with all these suggestions of difficulties in the way, or of excellence to be
demanded of all who enter, there is yet a call by God that we seek to enter
this kingdom of glory. "Seek ye first the
Paul several times compares the believer to a racer, seeking a crown at the Grecian games. "Know ye not th at they which run in a race, run all, but one receiveth the prize. So run, that ye may obtain. Now every one that wrestleth is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown : but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly: so fight I, not as one that beateth the air; but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means after having acted the herald to others, I myself should become rejected:" (Greek.) 1 Cor. 9: 24-27. The most diligent in exercises of training in that day might still lose the prize, because one by nature fleeter of foot had entered the lists. But so it would not be in the future award of Christ. The prize was sure to all who observe the laws of the games.
Notice here, that wherever the prize is spoken of, it is viewed in connection with the danger of the loss of the kingdom. Paul was herald of the kingdom, and taught others to pursue after it. Sad were it then, if he should be refused an entrance. But he persevered nobly, and at the close of his career, in his last Epistle he says - "I have fought the good fight : I have finished the course, I have kept the faith ; henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord the righteous judge shall give me at that day ; and not to me only, but unto all them also that have loved his appearing:" 2 Tim. 4: 7, 8.
The kingdom is set before [regenerate] believers as the prize at which they are to aim. Paul, giving up his own righteousness for that of Christ, desired to have "fellowship" with Christ in "His sufferings, being made conformable to His death, If by any means I may attain unto the [select] resurrection from [among] the dead. (Greek.) Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I was apprehended by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching toward those things which are before, I press toward the mark [goal] for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus:" Phil. 3: 10-14.
force of the above passage is clearly this - Jesus laid hold on Paul on purpose
that He might attain [i.e., ‘to gain by effort’.] the glory of [after] the first, or select resurrection. To obtain this he counted nothing in the way
of trial too great, he desired martyrdom itself, that by means of it he might
reach so great a reward. Even he,
Apostle as he was, great in action, great in endurance for Christ’s sake, by no
means felt assurance of the certainty of his entering the [coming] kingdom. Others indeed [may
have] said to him - ‘O
Paul, you are sure of it!
If but three enter you must be one!
Who is there comparable to yourself in the surrenders you have made, the
diligence you have shown, the sufferings you have experienced?’ But their thoughts about him did not make him
fall back and rest on the laurels won; he would not seek repose till the
campaign was over, and the victory achieved.
He was a prudent and an ardent racer pressing on toward the goal; and to
such a one it is no matter how far he has gone till he has touched the goal,
and the prize is secure. The two parts
of this passage confirm one another. The
first resurrection or entrance into the
me to use an illustration, in the hope of discovering more clearly the force of
this passage. There is at
any one after that affirm, that every under-graduate
Paul knew that it was the "vehement who would enter the kingdom by force:" Matt. 11: 12. It is the prize which Jesus sets before the eyes of the victors of the churches. "He that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations. And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken in pieces, even as I received of my Father:" Rev. 2: 26, 27; Psa. 2.; Rev. 12: 5; 19: 15; 20: 4-6. "To him that overcometh will I give to sit with me on my throne, even as I overcame, and am set down with my Father on his throne:" Rev. 3: 21.
At the seventh trump the kingdom over earth becomes the kingdom of God and of His Christ. Then the elders on high rejoice in God’s resumption of the power which for a while He had delegated to the Gentile empires. And they say that that is the season for bestowing the promised reward on saints and prophets, and the fearers of the name of God: Rev. 11: 15-18.
The same truth appears from the Sermon on the Mount: indeed the kingdom is its basis throughout. But look a moment at the Beatitudes with which it opens. ‘Blessed the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs,’ ‘Blessed those persecuted of old, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.’ ‘Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you ... For great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you:" Matt. 5: 1-12. The kingdom then is God’s reward to the persecuted, both of the Old Testament and of the New.
Yes! God who made us know that the desire of distinction, of prizes and rewards, is one innate in man. As stimulated by hopes of the present world ‘tis an evil desire. But as the spur of faith that rests on God’s promise, ‘tis good. We cannot be too ambitious of the glory that comes from God.
To this feeling the [Holy] Spirit of God oft appeals. Even Jesus felt its force. "For the joy set before him he endured the cross, despising the shame:" Heb. 12: 2. Of Jesus himself it is said, "Thou lovedst righteousness, and hatedst iniquity, THEREFORE (O) God, thy God anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows:" Heb. 1: 9. Jesus is to have companions in this anointing, though far pre-eminent among them, and they are to resemble Him in the ground of their reward before God - the love of righteousness and hatred of iniquity. ‘Follow the steps of Jesus,’ says Paul to the Philippians, ‘humble yourselves as He did, who stooped from the throne of Deity to be made a man,’ "And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. WHEREFORE God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:" before which the angels of heaven, the men of earth, and the spirits of the departed, are one day to bow: Phil. 2: 5-11. Thus this extract from the Philippians confirms the previous one. Paul desired to be one of the servants to whom the returned monarch shall say, "Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
Yes, the Son of God would quicken by the hope of "wages" or "reward" the diligence of His workmen. "Lift up your eyes and look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal; that both sower and reaper may rejoice together:" John 4: 35, 36. (Greek.)
Saviour was announcing to His apostles the connection of what they saw in the
awakening among the Samaritans, with the ancient work of Moses and the
prophets. Apostles would be but as the
reapers entering into the labours of Moses and the prophets. For it was the testimony of Moses believed by
the woman at the well, which had caused the earnest interest then visible among
He adds, that God destined a reward to them when the great work was
complete, for He had provided a season in which, after the great harvest-home,
both sowers and reapers are to rejoice together. What is that?
"Ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and
Jacob, and all the prophets in the
While then the gift of God conferred on His elect is certain to faith, reward and the prize is uncertain. It is to be sought with diligence, the danger of loss is to affect us in the way of caution, the desire of glory is to nerve us to exertion. Eight-and-thirty "Ifs" are addressed to believers in the New Testament.* Now while many insist on the freeness and unconditionality of many of the promises, let us not overlook the truth that there are many promises suspended on conditions.
[* The writer of this has published a small tract containing them, which may be had on application to him.]
Many will not listen to this truth: to them there is nothing but grace. But God has His true hearted ones, and to them I make appeal.
then a startling truth. In the Hebrews, Paul [or
whoever the inspired writer of the Epistle was]
compares the brethren of the heavenly calling with
says not - ‘
draws a picture of the standing of
[* So strongly does the Epistle to the Hebrews press against those who cry out for grace alone, that a brother has lately put forth a book to prove it was written to the unconverted only, and not to the believer! Wonderful it is, in the face of such passages as Heb. 3: 6; 6: 9, 18, 19; 10: 39; 12: 1, 25; 13: 18. There is in it no call to repent and believe in the blood. There are calls in the Epistle to continue in the path begun. Besides, the author is obliged to mistranslate.]
Numbers uncounted prefer justice as their principle in dealing with their fellows, instead of mercy, which the Saviour enjoins on them. What then can be the issue to them in the day of justice? Jesus assures us, that those who use justice now, will find its sword plied against them in the day to come: Matt. 7: 1, 2; Luke 6: 36-38. On such footing, how can any enter the reward of glory? Impossible! They must forfeit an entrance. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy," and mercy will be much needed in that day. As saith Paul of Onesiphoris, who had shown him much kindness, "The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day:" 2 Tim. 1: 16-18.
Let me make a parting appeal to FACTS and to FIGURES.
1. What then means the history of Jesus’ first miracle of resurrection? The ruler Jairus begs the Saviour to come and heal his dying daughter. But so great is the press, and Jesus is, besides, detained by the woman who touched his garment’s fringe, that a message of unbelief comes to the ruler of the synagogue - ‘Thy daughter is dead: she is beyond the Teacher’s aid.’ Jesus confronts Jairus’ broken faith - death was not beyond His power. But the multitude shall not enter the house of death: not even all the disciples: Peter, James, and John alone are allowed to go in. He tests then the inmates: have they any faith in Him as raiser of the dead? ‘The girl is not dead, but asleep only.’ At once their unbelief bursts out in its torrent of scorn. They are thrust out of the house therefore. Only Peter, James, and John may go into the room of death, with Himself, and the father and mother. Here, when we reckon in the damsel herself, we have the mystic seven. Jesus takes her by the hand - "Talitha koumi!" "Damsel, arise!" "And straightway the damsel arose and walked:" Mark 5. He adds His command, his strict command, that the thing is to be kept a secret.
2. What means the Transfiguration? Peter confesses Jesus as the Son of the living God, and to him the Saviour gives the power to exclude from, or to admit into, the millennial kingdom. But Peter dislikes the idea of the Saviour’s suffering, and that unto death. His unbelief is reproved severely by Jesus, who takes occasion thence to teach all His disciples, that they, too, will have to tread the same path of rejection and suffering. But what then? The kingdom of glory shall more than repay for any endurance now. Also, to confirm their faith, a picture of the kingdom in its power and brightness should be exhibited to the eyes of some then present, ere they died. Then came the selection of three only of the apostles. Peter, James, and John alone saw the vision of the Redeemer, and of His attendants, Moses and Elijah, as they spake together in the glory. Moreover, as they descend, the Master bids them keep the thing secret. Does this fact teach that all the disciples will enter the kingdom? Was it a fair picture of the coming kingdom? Then it instructs us, that not all disciples will have part in it.
What says the resurrection of Dorcas? She was a disciple "full of good works and almsdeeds." She was sick, and died. The widows (or deaconesses) of the church at Joppa bathed her body, and laid it out in an upper room. They send for Peter : "And all the widows stood by him weeping, and showing the coats and garments which Dorcas made while she was with them." He prays alone, he gives her his hand, ‘Tabitha, arise.’ She arose. He presents her to the saints and widows, alive. The story spread, and many believed in the Lord: Acts 9: 36-42. Does not this give a hint of those for whom the first resurrection is prepared? Twice her good works and almsdeeds come into notice. And the issue of the resurrection is the faith of many; a further result which will come to pass when the adoption, that is, the redemption of the body, shall have arrived.
Shall we look at some actions which may be justly regarded as typical?
heed, says the apostle, "lest there be any
fornicator or profane person, who for a single meal (Greek) sold his birthright. For we know how that afterward, when he
would have (wished to) inherited the blessing.
He was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it
carefully with tears:" Heb. 12: 17. What means this? Says it not very distinctly, that Christians may sell spiritual privileges for worldly
benefits? That this profane bargain
will at length hold good in the great day of reward of
works, to the exclusion of the offender from the [millennial] kingdom, great as will be his dismay and sorrow at
the loss of the blessing. That all his
tearful cries and pleadings will be in vain, mirrored
as the result is in the history of Esau.
He was a son of Isaac, the favourite son, and yet his
father would not repent of the sentence which he had uttered! How
much less shall God yield to such an offending son! Will any say, ‘But
no Christian is guilty in that way!’
O brother, you may know little of Christians - yes, I mean converted men
- to say so.* Have you never heard of missionaries becoming ministers of the world? Of preachers giving up the
gospel for a newspaper, and so on.
[* In the Broadmead Records there is the history of a Gospel minister, who gave up the ministry to pursue the study of music. He became bandmaster to Charles the Second.]
would redeem His people out of
does the Holy Spirit draw our attention to the general history of
"Yet," says Paul, "with
the majority God was not well pleased, for they were overthrown in the
wilderness." He then
enumerates some of their sins, which drew down upon them a being excluded
from the land. Now of
these sins the Corinthian Christians were guilty: and the Holy Ghost assures us
generally that the Israelites in the wilderness are types of us!
Our brethren sometimes seize upon the bold word of Moses, "Not a hoof shall be left behind!" Yes, brother, that was spoken of exit
answer to this, brethren who refuse the doctrine now presented oft reply - ‘Ah! But
brought them to the borders of the land, and bid them enter. Twelve spies are sent, and proofs in words
and in fruits are given of the excellency
of the country of God’s choice. But fear
seizes them. ‘The
giants! The giants! The fenced
cities! The fenced cities! We shall all perish! Let us turn again into
Miriam and Aaron, and Moses are cut off for offences. Only Caleb and Joshua enter!*
[*i.e., of the accountable generation.]
is the Lord’s anointed, but disregarded by the people of
[*Or for those who know, but refuse to disclose kingdom truths to other Christians.]
is the time of awful famine in
Methinks, that my pleas may well end here, though I have not exhausted the treasures of proof which the Word of God contains on this point. Is it not worthy of renewed search on your part, whether these things are so? If you are right, I shall enter the kingdom in spite of this error. But if I am right, how will it go with you in that day as resisting the truth, and teaching others to set aside the clear testimonies of the Word of God?
I am reproached now with making the way into glory so narrow. I know that the messenger and his message will be identified, and I am content. But if my views are true, what thanks shall I not receive from all who have taken heed to God’s warnings? Who have seen that Jesus has made the gate and the way into the kingdom very strict, very narrow, and have been spurred to seek an entrance into the glory with all diligence?
Your views are popular now, but what if they be unfounded in God’s word? Will you not be overwhelmed in the great day by reproaches from those who took your word for it, that as believers they could not fail to enter the kingdom? I had rather be reproached now than then!
With a word of appeal I close. I address myself not to you alone, but to every believer who reads these pages.
- are you, or are you not, seeking the
If it is yours already by faith, it were unbelief to seek it. I suppose then that you do not. But if you do not, you are opposing Christ’s and the Spirit’s commands that you do.
"Seek first the
But many now toss aside the Sermon on the Mount. ‘That is Jewish!’ They have ceased to be "disciples of the Lord:" Acts 9: 1; John 13: 35; 15: 8. But even so they do not escape. Paul in the Hebrews calls all partakers of "the heavenly calling" to seek it as the seventh-day rest that remains for God’s people: Heb. 3. & 4. And if they cast overboard that also as ‘Jewish,’ we offer them Paul’s uncertainty about his partaking in the first resurrection, his diligent pursuit of this object as the prize set before him, and of his call of this object as the prize set before him, and his call on all who are perfect to seek it as he did: Phil. 3.
But if you set yourself to seek to enter in, in the spirit of Paul, you will soon learn to accept the truth here stated.
May the [Holy] Spirit of God guide us into all His truth!