Listen Part 2
RANSOM AND RESTITUTION
Restitution Versus Evolution
It may be objected by some that the testimony of the Scriptures concerning human restitution to a former estate is out of harmony with the teachings of science and philosophy, which, with apparent reason, point us to the superior intelligence of this twentieth century, and claim this as conclusive evidence that primeval man must have been, in comparison, very lacking in intelligence, which they claim [A162] is the result of development. From this standpoint, a restitution to a former estate would be far from desirable, and certainly the reverse of a blessing.
At first sight such reasoning appears plausible, and many seem inclined to accept it as truth without careful examination, saying, with a celebrated Brooklyn preacher, If Adam fell at all his fall was upward, and the more and faster we fall from his original state the better for us and for all concerned.
Thus philosophy, even in the pulpit, would make the Word of God of no effect, and if possible convince us that the apostles were fools when they declared that death and every trouble came by the first man's disobedience, and that these could be removed and man restored to divine favor and life only by means of a ransom. (Rom. 5:10,12,17-19,21; 8:19-22; Acts 3:19-21; Rev. 21:3-5) But let us not hastily conclude that this philosophy is impregnable; for should we be obliged to discard the doctrines of the apostles relative to the origin of sin and death, and of restitution to an original perfection, we should, in honesty, be obliged to reject their testimony entirely and on every subject, as uninspired and consequently without special weight or authority. Let us, then, in the light of facts, briefly examine this growingly popular view and see how deep is its philosophy.
Says an advocate and representative of this theory: "Man was first in a stage of existence in which his animal nature predominated, and the almost purely physical ruled him; then he slowly grew from one state to another until now, when the average man has attained to a condition in which, it might be said, he is coming under the rule of the brain. Hence this age may be regarded and designated as the Brain Age. Brain pushes the great enterprises of the day. Brain takes the reins of government; and the elements of the earth, air and water are being brought under subjection. [A163] Man is putting his hand on all physical forces, and slowly but surely attaining such power over the domain of nature as gives evidence that ultimately he may exclaim, in the language of Alexander Selkirk, 'I am monarch of all I survey.'"
The fact that at first glance a theory appears reasonable should not lead us hastily to accept it, and to attempt to twist the Bible into harmony with it. In a thousand ways we have proved the Bible, and know beyond peradventure that it contains a superhuman wisdom which makes its statements unerring. We should remember, too, that while scientific research is to be commended, and its suggestions considered, yet its conclusions are by no means infallible. And what wonder that it has proven its own theories false a thousand times, when we remember that the true scientist is merely a student attempting, under many unfavorable circumstances, and struggling against almost insurmountable difficulties, to learn from the great Book of Nature the history and destiny of man and his home.
We would not, then, either oppose or hinder scientific investigation; but in hearing suggestions from students of the Book of Nature, let us carefully compare their deductions, which have so often proved in part or wholly erroneous, with the Book of Divine Revelation, and prove or disprove the teachings of scientists by "the law and the testimony. If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Isa. 8:20) An accurate knowledge of both books will prove them to be harmonious; but until we have such knowledge, God's Revelation must take precedence, and must be the standard among the children of God, by which the supposed findings of fallible fellowmen shall be judged.
But while holding to this principle, let us see whether there is not some other reasonable solution of the increased [A164] knowledge and skill and power of man than the theory of Evolution--that though originally developed from a very low order of being, man has now reached the superior or "Brain Age." Perhaps after all we shall find that the inventions and conveniences, the general education and wider diffusion and increase of knowledge, are not attributable to a greater brain capacity, but to more favorable circumstances for the use of brains. That the brain capacity today is greater than in by-gone ages, we deny; while we freely admit that, owing to advantageous circumstances, the use of what brain capacity men have today is more general than at any former period, and hence makes a much larger showing. In the study of painting and sculpture, do not the students of this "Brain Age" go back to the great masters of the past? Do they not by so doing acknowledge a brain power and originality of design as well as a skill of workmanship worthy of imitation? Does not the present "Brain Age" draw largely upon the original designs of the past ages for its architecture? Do not the orators and logicians of this "Brain Age" study and copy the methods and syllogisms of Plato, Aristotle, Demosthenes and others of the past? Might not many of the public speakers of today well covet the tongue of a Demosthenes or an Apollos, and much more the clear reasoning power of the Apostle Paul?
To go still further back: while we might well refer to the rhetorical powers of several of the prophets, and to the sublime poetic paintings interspersed throughout the Psalms, we refer these "Brain Age" philosophers to the wisdom and logic, no less than to the fine moral sensibilities, of Job and his comforters. And what shall we say of Moses, "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians"? The laws given through him have been the foundation for the laws of all civilized nations, and are still recognized as the embodiment of marvelous wisdom. [A165]
The exhuming of ancient buried cities reveals a knowledge of the arts and sciences in ages past which is surprising some of the philosophers of this so-called "Brain Age." The ancient methods of embalming the dead, of tempering copper, of making elastic glass and Damascus steel, are among the achievements of the remote past which the brain of the present age, with all its advantages, is unable either to comprehend or to duplicate.
Going back four thousand years to about Abraham's time, we find the Great Pyramid of Egypt--an object of wonder and amazement to the most learned scientists of today. Its construction is in exact accord with the most advanced attainments of this "Brain Age" in the sciences of Mathematics and Astronomy. It teaches, positively, truths which can today be only approximated by the use of modern instruments. So striking and clear are its teachings that some of the foremost astronomers of the world have unhesitatingly pronounced it to be of divine origin. And even if our "Brain Age" evolutionists should admit that it is of divine arrangement, and that its wisdom is superhuman, they must still admit that it is of human construction. And the fact that in that remote day any set of men had the mental capacity to work out such a divine arrangement as very few men today would be capable of doing with a model before them, and with all modern scientific appliances at hand, proves that our "Brain Age" develops more self-conceit than circumstances and facts warrant.
If, then, we have proven that the mental capacity of today is not greater than that of past ages, but probably less, how shall we account for the increase of general knowledge, modern inventions, etc.? We trust we shall be able to show this reasonably and in harmony with Scripture. The inventions and discoveries which are now proving so valuable, and which are considered proof that this is the "Brain [A166] Age," are really very modern--nearly all having come within the past century, and among the most important are those of the last threescore years; for instance, the application of steam and electricity--in telegraphy, railroading and steamboating, and to the machinery of the various mechanical industries. If, then, these be evidences of increased brain power, the "Brain Age" must be only beginning, and the logical deduction is that another century will witness every form of miracle as an everyday occurrence; and at the same ratio of increase, where would it eventuate?
But let us look again: Are all men inventors? How very few there are whose inventions are really useful and practical, compared with the number who appreciate and use an invention when put into their hand! Nor do we speak disparagingly of that very useful and highly-esteemed class of public servants when we say that the smaller number of them are men of great brain-power. Some of the most brainy men in the world, and the deepest reasoners, are not mechanical inventors. And some inventors are intellectually so sluggish that all wonder how they ever stumbled into the discoveries they made. The great principles (electricity, steam power, etc.), which many men in many years work out, apply and improve upon, time and again, were generally discovered apparently by the merest accident, without the exercise of great brain power, and comparatively unsought.
From a human standpoint we can account for modern inventions thus: The invention of printing, in A.D. 1440, may be considered the starting point. With the printing of books came records of the thoughts and discoveries of thinkers and observers, which, without this invention, would never have been known to their successors. With books came a more general education and, finally, common schools. Schools and colleges do not increase human capacity, [A167] but they do make mental exercise more general, and hence help to develop the capacity already possessed. As knowledge becomes more general and books more common, the generations possessing these have a decided advantage over previous generations; not only in that there are now a thousand thinkers to one formerly, to sharpen and stimulate each other with suggestions, but also in that each of the later generations has, through books, the combined experience of the past in addition to its own. Education and the laudable ambition which accompanies it, enterprise, and a desire to achieve distinction and a competency, aided by the record and descriptions of inventions in the daily press, have stimulated and brightened man's perceptive powers, and put each upon the alert to discover or to invent, if possible, something for the good and convenience of society. Hence we suggest that modern invention, looked at from a purely human standpoint, teaches, not an increase of brain capacity, but a sharpened perception from natural causes.
And now we come to the Scriptures to see what they teach on the subject; for while we believe, as suggested above, that invention and the increase of knowledge, etc., among men are the results of natural causes, yet we believe that these natural causes were all planned and ordered by Jehovah God long ago, and that in due time they have come to pass--by his overruling providence, whereby he "worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." (Eph. 1:11) According to the plan revealed in his Word, God purposed to permit sin and misery to misrule and oppress the world for six thousand years, and then in the seventh millennium to restore all things, and to extirpate evil--destroying it and its consequences by Jesus Christ, whom he hath afore ordained to do this work. Hence, as the six thousand years of the reign of evil began to draw to a close, God permitted [A168] circumstances to favor discoveries, in the study of both his Book of Revelation and his Book of Nature, as well as in the preparation of mechanical and chemical appliances useful in the blessing and uplifting of mankind during the Millennial age, now about to be introduced. That this was God's plan is clearly indicated by the prophetic statement: "O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end; [then] many shall run to and fro, and KNOWLEDGE [not capacity] shall be increased," "and none of the wicked shall understand [God's plan and way], but the wise shall understand"; "and there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time." Dan. 12:1,4,10
To some it may appear strange that God did not so arrange that the present inventions and blessings should sooner have come to man to alleviate the curse. It should be remembered, however, that God's plan has been to give mankind a full appreciation of the curse, in order that when the blessing comes upon all they may forever have decided upon the unprofitableness of sin. Furthermore, God foresaw and has foretold what the world does not yet realize, namely, that his choicest blessings would lead to and be productive of greater evils if bestowed upon those whose hearts are not in accord with the righteous laws of the universe. Ultimately it will be seen that God's present permission of increased blessings is a practical lesson on this subject, which may serve as an example of this principle to all eternity--to angels as well as to restored men. How this can be, we merely suggest:
First: So long as mankind is in the present fallen or depraved condition, without stringent laws and penalties and a government strong enough to enforce them, the selfish propensities will hold more or less sway over all. And with the unequal individual capacities of men considered, it [A169] cannot possibly happen otherwise than that the result of the invention of labor-saving machinery must, after the flurry and stimulus occasioned by the manufacture of machinery, tend to make the rich richer, and the poor poorer. The manifest tendency is toward monopoly and self-aggrandizement, which places the advantage directly in the hands of those whose capacity and natural advantages are already the most favorable.
Secondly: If it were possible to legislate so as to divide the present wealth and its daily increase evenly among all classes, which is not possible, still, without human perfection or a supernatural government to regulate human affairs, the results would be even more injurious than the present condition. If the advantages of labor-saving machinery and all modern appliances were evenly divided, the result would, ere long, be a great decrease of hours of labor and a great increase of leisure. Idleness is a most injurious thing to fallen beings. Had it not been for the necessity of labor and sweat of face, the deterioration of our race would have been much more rapid than it has been. Idleness is the mother of vice; and mental, moral and physical degradation are sure to follow. Hence the wisdom and goodness of God in withholding these blessings until it was due time for their introduction as a preparation for the Millennial reign of blessing. Under the control of the supernatural government of the Kingdom of God, not only will all blessings be equitably divided among men, but the leisure will be so ordered and directed by the same supernatural government that its results will produce virtue and tend upward toward perfection, mental, moral and physical. The present multiplication of inventions and other blessings of increasing knowledge is permitted in this "day of preparation" to come about in so natural a way that men flatter themselves that it is because this is the "Brain Age"; but it will be permitted [A170] in great measure to work out in a manner very much to the disappointment, no doubt, of these wise philosophers. It is the very increase of these blessings that is already beginning to bring upon the world the time of trouble, which will be such as never has been since there was a nation.
The prophet Daniel, as quoted above, links together the increase of knowledge and the time of trouble. The knowledge causes the trouble, because of the depravity of the race. The increase of knowledge has not only given the world wonderful labor-saving machinery and conveniences, but it has also led to an increase of medical skill whereby thousands of lives are prolonged, and it has so enlightened mankind that human butchery, war, is becoming less popular, and thus, too, other thousands are spared to multiply still further the race, which is increasing more rapidly today, perhaps, than at any other period of history. Thus, while mankind is multiplying rapidly, the necessity for his labor is decreasing correspondingly; and the "Brain Age" philosophers have a problem before them to provide for the employment and sustenance of this large and rapidly increasing class whose services, for the most part supplanted by machinery, can be dispensed with, but whose necessities and wants know no bounds. The solution of this problem, these philosophers must ultimately admit, is beyond their brain capacity.
Selfishness will continue to control the wealthy, who hold the power and advantage, and will blind them to common sense as well as to justice; while a similar selfishness, combined with the instinct of self-preservation and an increased knowledge of their rights, will nerve some and inflame others of the poorer classes, and the result of these blessings will, for a time, prove terrible--a time of trouble, truly, such as was not since there was a nation--and this, because [A171] man in a depraved condition cannot properly use these blessings unguided and uncontrolled. Not until the Millennial reign shall have rewritten the law of God in the restored human heart will men be capable of using full liberty without injury or danger.
The day of trouble will end in due time, when he who spake to the raging Sea of Galilee will likewise, with authority, command the raging sea of human passion, saying, "Peace! Be still!" When the Prince of Peace shall "stand up" in authority, a great calm will be the result. Then the raging and clashing elements shall recognize the authority of "Jehovah's Anointed," "the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together"; and in the reign of the Christ thus begun "shall all the families of the earth be blessed."
Then men will see that what they attributed to evolution or natural development and the smartness of the "Brain Age" was, instead, the flashings of Jehovah's lightnings (Psa. 77:18) in "the day of his preparation" for the blessing of mankind. But as yet only the saints can see, and only the wise in heavenly wisdom can understand this; for "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant." (Psa. 25:14) Thanks be to God, that while general knowledge has been increased, he has also arranged that his children need "not be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord" and in the appreciation of his plans. And by this appreciation of his Word and plans we are enabled to discern and to withstand the vain philosophies and foolish traditions of men which contradict the Word of God.
The Bible account of man's creation is that God created him perfect and upright, an earthly image of himself; that man sought out various inventions and defiled himself (Gen. 1:27; Rom. 5:12; Eccl. 7:29); that, all being sinners, [A172] the race was unable to help itself, and none could by any means redeem his brother or give to God a ransom for him (Psa. 49:7,15); that God in compassion and love had made provision for this; that, accordingly, the Son of God became a man, and gave man's ransom-price; that, as a reward for this sacrifice, and in order to the completion of the great work of atonement, he was highly exalted, even to the divine nature; and that in due time he will bring to pass a restitution of the race to the original perfection and to every blessing then possessed. These things are clearly taught in the Scriptures, from beginning to end, and are in direct opposition to the Evolution theory; or, rather, such "babblings of science, falsely so called," are in violent and irreconcilable conflict with the Word of God.
"Still o'er earth's sky the clouds of anger roll,
And God's revenge hangs heavy on her soul;
Yet shall she rise--though first by God chastised--
In glory and in beauty then baptized.
"Yes, Earth, thou shalt arise; thy Father's aid
Shall heal the wound his chastening hand hath made;
Shall judge the proud oppressor's ruthless sway,
And burst his bonds, and cast his cords away.
"Then on your soil shall deathless verdure spring;
Break forth, ye mountains, and ye valleys, sing!
No more your thirsty rocks shall frown forlorn,
The unbeliever's jest, the heathen's scorn.
"The sultry sands shall tenfold harvests yield,
And a new Eden deck the thorny field.
E'en now we see, wide-waving o'er the land,
The mighty angel lifts his golden wand,
"Courts the bright vision of descending power,
Tells every gate and measures every tower;
And chides the tardy seals that yet detain
Thy Lion, Judah, from his destined reign."