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Pastor Charles Taze Russell
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Manner of the coming of Christ

There are two classes of Scripture in relation to the coming of Christ which seem contradictory; "Behold, I come as a thief;" and "Coming in all his glory."


A thief never comes with a "great sound of a trumpet;" but secretly. Christ went away quietly, and it was unknown by the unbelieving; and is to return " in like manner as they saw him go." He went into "the Holy Place" unglorified; and ten days after, the Holy Spirit was given: "The Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:39). And he comes back in like manner. This also agrees with the law; the high priest on the day of atonement entered the tabernacle unadorned with those glorious linen garments, covered with gold, and purple, and scarlet, and studded with twelve kinds of precious stones, "and made for beauty and for glory" (Exo. 28). These garments, put on after he entered, were to be worn only while in the holy place, and he was to " leave them there," when he came out (Lev. 16:23). Thus he came out unglorified, as he went in; and it is thus Christ returns, for no part of the law will fail of a fulfilment. He did not go up to heaven in flaming fire; yet "He shall be revealed from heaven in flaming fire." Again; His saints are sleeping in the dust of the earth. And yet we read of "The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. " "With ten thousand of his saints;" "The Lord my God shall come, and all thy saints with thee" (1 Thes 3:13; Jude 14; Zach 14:5). (Saint, means Eloh-heem yeh-rag (God-seed). And both in Hebrew and Greek means, the "holy ones;" those begotten by the Spirit and born of God; viz. Christ and his bride).


We also read of a period of time called the harvest: "The harvest is the end of the world; and in the time of harvest" &c. (Matt. 13). Here we learn that the gathering of the saints is a part of the work of the harvest. And it is taught, in many places, that their resurrection occurs only at the coming of Christ. Hence, if he is to come to harvest the earth, to gather his saints; and is also to come ' with all his saints; ' there must be two parts or stages of his coming.


With this view, and it seems consistent, these two classes of Scripture become harmonious. He comes as a thief to harvest the earth, or gather his saints; and he comes openly, with all his saints, and every eye shall see him, after the harvest is ended.


If Christ comes in all his glory, on leaving the Holy Place, it would be in direct opposition to the teaching of the law; and it is "easier for heaven and earth to pass; than for one jot of the law to fail." The laying off of those glorious garments, and coming out, as he went in, was made a very prominent feature of the atonement. Hence I would ask the reader for his own sake, to be candid enough to admit there may be more in regard to the coming, than the one grand glorious outburst for which so many have looked.


The harvest is a definite period of time called "the end of the world." And the work of the harvest is of an entirely different nature from that the gospel. One is sowing seed, the other, gathering fruit. One is done by men, the other, by Christ and the angels. And although both may be going on at the same time, still the work of harvest must have a definite beginning. And as tares and wheat are to grow together until the harvest, and the harvest is the end of the world [aion, age], it follows that when the harvest begins, a period called the end of the age, begins. And yet the living saints are not taken until near the end of the harvest. And as they are found in the mill, field, and bed, it is very evident the angels are invisible to them while gathering the tares; whether it be a longer Or shorter period. And yet notwithstanding this, it is not out of character to suppose, as they are children of light, that the day of the Lord will not come on them unawares; but that by taking heed to the sure word of prophecy, they should know their whereabouts and time of visitation.


Because the change from mortality to immortality comes in a moment, it does not follow all the work of the harvest must be consummated in the same moment.


It is not our object now to show the length of the harvest; but simply that there is such a time, and that it is to transpire during the mortality of the saints. And that while Christ and the angels are doing the work of this gospel harvest the Word will be ignorant of what is going on; and the church, still walking by faith, will know the time of visitation only by the evidences drawn from the Scriptures.


Is it possible that a Christian will let prejudice, or preconceived opinion keep him from an investigation from a purely Bible standpoint, of so important a subject? Nominal Christians will. And the first house of Israel stumbled over this very stumbling stone, viz. the fulfillment of Scriptures in relation to the coming of Christ, in a manner they did not anticipate. And I am satisfied that you, who now hold this paper, if you are not already interested, whether you are a Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Adventist, Catholic, or what not; as you are part of the Laodicean church (Rev. 3:14), think that you are rich, in a spiritual sense, and will not give these things a fair investigation. Many are called, few are chosen. If you are not one of the chosen, some excuse will be found; for it is certain to come upon all the world as a snare; while "ye, brethren, are not in darkness that that Day should overtake you as a thief." The Bible so clearly teaches that the mass of the Christian world, and especially the leaders, will stumble, that it cannot be otherwise.


"Coming," often means presence; "What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the (harvest) end of the world" (Matt. 24:3). This word in the above text, is [parousia], and means presence . It occurs in 2 Cor. 10:10; "For his letters are powerful, but his bodily presence [parousia] is weak." And in Phil. 2:12; "As ye have always obeyed, not as in my parousia only, but now much more in my absence." And 2 Peter 3:4, in the Emphatic Diaglott reads, "Knowing this first, that in the last of the DAYS scoffers will come with scoffing, . . and saying,


Where is the promise of his PRESENCE? For from the time the fathers fell asleep all things continue in this way from the beginning."


No one would be so simple as to ask for a promise of his coming; the Bible is full of such promises; and we should point to John 14:3, "If I go and prepare a place for you I will come again;" or to Acts 1:11, "This same Jesus shall so come, In like manner as ye have seen him go." They might not believe in the promise of his coming, but they do not ask, where is there such a promise. But there are scoffers not far from you, who ask, with a sneer, Where is there a promise of his presence while as yet all things continue as they were from the beginning. And this is Just what so many are offended at, because we teach the presence of Christ, while as yet 'all things continue as they were. ' And you would perhaps like to know where this promise is found. I will answer you. Matt. 24:37 is one of these promises: "But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the parousia [presence] of the Son of man be." They were eating and drinking, planting and building, marrying, and giving in marriage, as they had been from the beginning, and knew not [until the flood came.]


They did know, when the flood came; and they will now know when every eye shall behold him. But his parousia is nowhere compared to the flood, but "to the days of Noe," "the days that were before the flood," while the ark was preparing (1 Peter 3:20); while everything continued as from the beginning.


"And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it also be in the days of the Son of man" (Luke 17:26). In the days of Noah, they were planting and building and knew not. If he indeed comes to reap the earth and gather the fruit, before he comes with all his golden grain, you can see how the above can be true, and the harvest end before the world will know any thing of it; and how his parousia, or "the days of the Son of man," can be compared to the days of Noah; while they were planting and building. The days of the Son of man, is "the time of harvest; the time in which he is preparing for the destruction now coming; when he will tread the winepress alone.


The above being true, you can see that a time must come when we shall be in the time of harvest and the angels gathering the "children of the wicked one" into organizations; while yet the "children of the kingdom" are about their business in the field and mill. And that time has already commenced, the harvest, or end of the aion [age] began on the tenth day of the seventh month in 1874. And this "time of harvest," measures three and a half years. If you ask how we know this, I answer, by taking heed "to the sure word of prophecy, which shines as a light in a dark place."


If you desire to investigate, take some steps to that end; either obtain and read all the evidences; or come out from organized " bundles," which are endeavoring to separate you from present truth, and hear each one for himself. But if you have no desire; no drawing of the Spirit, that will enable you to "search, as men search for hid treasures;" and feel spiritually "rich," and that you now have all that is necessary, and "have need of nothing;" I counsel you to buy eyesalve; least " that day come upon you unawares ."


"Ye brethren are not in darkness that that day should overtake you as a thief." But ye scoffers, who say "where is the promise of his presence? for all things continue as they were from the beginning," are in darkness; even though you have the Round Lake sanctification, or from any other cause, feel that you are "rich, and increased in goods, have need of nothing."


The test of true brotherhood in Christ, is not feeling, or profession ; but walking in the light of present truth. And whether we are now in the time of harvest, or it does not come for ten thousand years, when it does come; when this transition period that is to separate the tares and wheat, and usher in the destruction of the day of the Lord, does come, the true church will be in the light on that particular subject, and all others in darkness. Else 1 Thess. 5:1-5, has no apparent meaning.


This harvest message is the natural outcome of the parable of the ten virgins; and they that are ready will go in before the others know anything more than that he is near. And believing him near, in the immediate future, as so many do; with no definite knowledge on the subject; will help you as it helped the first house of Israel, when their rabbi’s taught that the time of his coming drew near, "and all men were in expectation." And they continued to think it near, until their destruction came.


They looked for him to come out of Bethlehem. But the angel of the Lord turned him aside to Nazareth, that he might be called a Nazarene. You are looking for him, not as he went, but in all his glory. Be careful you do not stumble because he comes as he went away, and harvests the earth before he makes the open manifestations for which you look; and when too late, you find "the harvest is past, and the summer is ended, and your soul not saved." And yourself with the class represented in Matt. 25:11: " Afterwards came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us."


Christ appeared in various forms, and on various occasions, during the forty days after his resurrection, because he wanted witnesses that he had risen. But when he would "vanish out of their sight," they could not follow, or trace his locality. But now he has a work to do alone, and requires no eye witnesses: "I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people, there were none with me." During that forty days he did appear in the secret chamber, "the doors being shut." He also appeared in the wilds of Galilee "and there shall ye see him." But now, "if they shall say unto you, behold, he is in the secret chamber, believe it not; behold, he is in the desert, go not forth." Then he required witnesses; now he will have none: "The days will come when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see " (Luke 17:22): "For as the lightning that cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the presence of the Son of man be" (Matt. 24:27). And Luke 17:24, supports the same rendering; "For as the lightning &c. so shall the Son of man be, in his day ."


Spiritual bodies are represented as shining as the lightning: "I beheld Satan as lightning, fall from heaven" (Luke 10:18). "His countenance was like lightning" (Matt. 28:3). "His face as the appearance of lightning" (Dan. 10:6). "And last of all he was seen of me also" (1 Cor. 15:8). When Paul saw him the shining was so bright that his sight was destroyed; and yet "the men that journeyed with him saw no man." The chariots of fire, and horses of fire round about Elisha were not seen by his servant. And because during the "days of the Son of man," Christ is to be here in his spiritual body, to gather his own; instead of proving that mortals will see him, proves exactly the contrary. For although spiritual bodies are represented as shining like the lightning; and, perhaps, moving as the lightning; still no mortal ever saw a glorified spiritual body, without a miricle. Nor indeed one that was not glorified. No sinful man will ever see him "as he is; for "Without holiness no man can see the Lord," And yet he is to reveal himself to the world "in flaming fire," and in various ways. "But we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is ."


"He shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God."


The trumpets all have "voices" (see Rev. 8:13). And the noise, shout, voices trumpets,, &c. connected with the coming of Christ, and the closing work of the gospel, are events, and not literal noise, or metallic trumpets as under the law. "Set ye up a standard in the land, blow the trumpet among the nations" (Jer. 51:27), does not mean metallic trumpets. And to suppose that Christ and the angels are to get up an exhibition of that character, is simply childish. The angelic movements under the seventh trumpet, are as noiseless as they have been under the other six trumpets; or, as were the hosts that surrounded Elisha.


The way is narrow; even the warnings of Christ, and some of the sayings of Paul are "hard to be understood," as Peter says; and are designed as stumbling blocks.


Knowing the time is perhaps of no importance in itself, but walking in the light is all important; and if you are in the light you will know. "The wise shall understand;" and the Ecclesia will know the time of their "visitation," whatever your teachers, who are themselves in darkness may say to the contrary. "Take heed least your hearts be overcharged with the cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares."


"The Bridegroom came, and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage, and the door was shut." Nowhere in the Bible is there a hint that the world, or the foolish virgins, will behold the meeting of the Bridegroom and his chosen. They are taken away noiselessly and by unseen hands, during the harvest, and will be visible, only when "The Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all."

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