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Pastor Charles Taze Russell
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The Song Of The Elect

“And I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps; and they sung as it were a new song before the throne.., and no man could learn that song, but the hundred and forty and four thousand. “Rev. 14.2, 3


The world knows its bacchanalian songs, and its foolish ditties, and its plaintive melodies tinged with pain and sorrow; and the latter are most in favor with its thoughts because, as the Scriptures declare, “The whole creation is groaning and travailing in pain.”


It is amongst the hymns of Christianity that we find the noblest, grandest, most sublime expressions of the human soul, because their authors, under the influences of the precious promises of God’s Word, look with hopeful eye beyond the clouds and shadows of their present pilgrim way towards the glorious things which God hath in reservation for them that love him. Some of these have well been styled “ageless hymns,” so new are they every morning and so fresh every evening. Well may the Lord’s consecrated people delight their souls in harmonious worship at the throne of grace, using these hymns as the beautiful channels of their sentiments and petitions. Would that all who sing the songs of Zion might appreciate them as poetic prayers, so that not merely with their lips would they make melody unto the Lord, but also with their hearts.


But neither of our texts refers to such songs and hymns. Rather they are symbolic and poetic expressions which represent the thought that a new theme, a new message has been received into the heart and that it is so happifying that it continually overflows through the lips—the Scriptures’ joyful message, harmonious, metrical. As a poem may be either in meter or blank verse, so may a song be either a cadence on the air or a harmonious message in the heart or on the lip, publicly or privately delivered.




Who has not noticed the exultant songs of the prophets and the apostles—that notwithstanding their trials, their difficulties, their persecutions for righteousness’ sake, they were joyful in the house of their pilgrimage: and a note of triumph may be found in all of their messages to the Church. As for instance, the Apostle Paul states exultantly in the midst of great tribulation, “Rejoice always! and again I say rejoice!” He tells them of rejoicing also in tribulation, and in everything giving thanks. Never do we hear the note of murmuring or complaint, repining or despair. But with the passing of the first century, with the death of the apostles, there came upon the Church gradually a horror of great darkness. Of this our Lord in his parable tells, saying, “But while men slept, the Enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat.” (Matt. 13:25) Of the same the Apostle tells, saying, “For I know this, that after my departing grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29, 30) And again we read “Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” 2 Thess. 2:3


With the coming of the error of doctrine came multitudes of nominal Christians who were in reality merely ‘‘tares” or imitation ‘‘wheat.’’ Proportionately the songs of triumph and confidence in the Lord faded from the hearts and died on the tongues of those who were the Lord’s nominal mouthpieces. A horror of great darkness came upon the souls of men by reason of the “doctrine of devils” being given a place in the Gospel message. The true Church is symbolically represented as having gone into captivity to Babylon. Undoubtedly the world was never left entirely without witnesses for God, but the conditions were such then that few could sing the songs of Zion’s triumph.




The condition of God’s faithful during that period of history known as the “dark ages” was graphically portrayed long before in the Psalms. Speaking for these by inspiration the Prophet says, “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down; yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the Lord’s songs in a strange land?” Psalms 137:1-4


Nevertheless, here and there in a very humble manner the saints did hum the song of Zion, though ultimately many of its joyful notes were lost, forgotten. Hence the implication of our text that in the end of this age the song of triumph, of faith, of confidence in God, of the harmonies of his Word would be revived, but would be, “as it were a new song.” It is not a new song, for it is the “Song of Moses and the Lamb.” (Rev. 15:3) It is the old, old story of the “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world”—the Lamb of God who, as the King of Kings and Lord of lords, is soon to set up his Kingdom for the overthrow of the reign of Sin and Death amongst those whom he redeemed by the sacrifice of himself. This old, old story, dear friends, became so warped, so twisted, so forgotten, so covered with human tradition and superstition and error and “doctrines of devils” that when now it is being resung it is, “As it were, a new song.


Here is illustrated the proverb that “Truth is stranger than fiction,” for many of the Lord’s dear saints have had the ears of their understanding so perverted by false teachings respecting predestination to eternal torment, etc., that they do not know the song of Zion when they hear it.


The real story of the Cross—the Love of God behind it, and the blessing of God before it, first for the “elect,” and subsequently for the non-elect—is indeed a wonderful story; but let us not forget that the Scriptures continually declare that these things at the present time are mysteries, except to those to whom the Lord will reveal them. Thus he said to his disciples at the First Advent when they inquired respecting some of his parables and dark sayings, “It is given unto you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given ... Therefore, speak I to them in parables; because they seeing, see not; and hearing, they hear not, neither do they understand.” (Matt. 13:11, 13) And again the Psalmist says, “The secret of the Lord is with them that reverence him; and he will show them his covenant.” Psa. 25:14




The real gist of this Song, which so few can appreciate and sing at the present time, and that few only the “saints” and not the worldly, is stated as follows: “Having the harps of God, they sing the Song of Moses, the servant of God, and the Song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, 0 Lord, and glorify thy name? For thou only art holy; for all nations shall come and worship before thee when thy righteous acts are made manifest.” Rev. 15:3, 4


As we have heretofore seen, the symbolic harp symbolizes the Word of God, which is the source and the accompaniment of this Song, which is, “as it were, a new Song.” It is the Song or message of Moses and the Lamb, because Moses was the type of Christ and in all of the sacrifices of the Law he typified or foreshadowed the sacrifice of Christ, “The Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) And in type also he told the story of blessing and restitution eventually to come to the whole world of mankind through the merit of the slain Lamb. This is shown in the type which pictures the blessings that are to follow the Day of Atonement. It is shown in the typical Jubilee year, in which Restitution was made, both of personal liberty and of property. Similarly, the various feasts of the Law foreshadowed the coming blessings and “feast of fat things,” which, during the Millennial Age, will be spread before all people by the great antitypical Moses, as St. Peter recites in Acts 3:19-23


Moses in the type told of the Passover Lamb, the sparing of the first-borns and the subsequent deliverance of the after-borns. Those who see in Jesus the Lamb of God, our Passover, may discern now that the “Church of the First-Born” are the “elect” of this Gospel Age and that the after-borns of the type represent the world of mankind, delivered from bondage to sin and Satan, as typified in the deliverance of Israel’s hosts from the power of Pharaoh at the Red Sea, which scene pictures the time of trouble with which the present age will end and the new dispensation begin.




Notice that feature of this New Song which refers to God’s righteous acts, righteous dealings, and assures us that this ultimately shall be seen by all mankind, and that all then seeing will be reasonably expected to worship.


The fact is that the righteousness of the Divine Government of the world is not yet manifested to any except a faithful few. To the majority the ways of the Lord are dark, mysterious. Not only do they see Divine permission of calamities, but Divine permission of sin, of crime, of blasphemy against the Holy Name, of false doctrines, of superstitions. Many indeed wonder at these things and some are inclined to doubt altogether that there is a supervising Providence. Nay, worse! The doctrine of demons forced upon the Church in the dark ages has made it appear to the average mind that God himself is a demon, who calls upon mankind to love their enemies and to do good to them, while he has made provision for the eternal torture of his enemies and all who have not heard of and accepted the merit of the “Only name under heaven given amongst men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) Alas! how is it possible for those who are under these delusions of error to honor God in their hearts or to sing this song, “True and righteous are thy dealings, Lord God Almighty”?




While it is true that “He giveth songs in the night” (Job 35:10), it is especially true that this Song, “As it were a new song,” belongs to the early morning of the new dispensation, when the “Mystery of God, which he hath kept secret from the foundation of the world,” is being finished, and when all the light of sacred story is centering in the Cross of Christ, and now shining forth as the morning star, heralding the rising of the “Sun of Righteousness with healing in his beams” to bless all the families of the earth.


This new Song can be appreciated and sung only from the standpoint of “The Divine Plan of the Ages,” which is the title I have given to Volume I of my “Scripture Studies” which many of you already have. The Bible Society supplies it at cost, but any too poor to purchase I will gladly supply with a magazine edition free, on postcard request.


It is only after we have come to a knowledge of the fact that the Jewish Age furnished a series of types and shadows of better things to come, that we know to look for the better things and are able to discern them. It was after we learned that the “elect” Church of this Gospel Age, the “little flock” who walk in the “narrow way” and in the footsteps of Jesus, are not the only ones to be favored; it was after we learned that these, as the Bride of Christ, are being schooled and prepared by the trials and disciplines of the present time for a future place of honor; it was after we learned that these elect members of The Christ are to be associated with their God, the Love of God and the Wisdom of God. From this standpoint also we are enabled to exercise faith in God the Father—that according to the promise of the Scriptures, he is able and willing to confer all these blessings through Christ, by a resurrection of the dead, during the “times of restitution of all things.” Acts 3:19


This accounts for all the trials and persecutions permitted to come upon the Lord’s saints and shows us that they, like their Redeemer, Lord, must be tested, proved, found faithful even unto death, in order to be accounted worthy of this high exaltation. It shows us also, not only that the world is not to be hurled at death to eternal torment, but is preserved by the power of God in the great prison-house of death, ready to hear the command of the great King and to come forth. Even as he said, “The hour is coming in the which all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of man and shall come forth”—the Church to a life resurrection, perfect and complete, the world to a judgment resurrection, gradual raising up under disciplines and chastisements, out of sin and death to perfection and everlasting life, during the Millennium; or, refusing this favor, to be remanded to the Second Death—”everlasting destruction..”




This song is not given in a miraculous manner, but must be 1earned, as is intimated by the statement, “No man could learn that Song except the hundred and forty and four thousand.” Many indeed have learned a bar or two; some perhaps a stanza; but ability to sing the song to a finish implies such a faithfulness to God, such a study of his Word, such a relationship with Christ, as none can attain except the “very elect,” those “filled with the spirit.” All this implies patience and perseverance. And can we wonder that the Lord should make such stringent regulations when we remember the high glory and honor and immortality promised to this faithful “little flock”? If we look about us we find many willing to spend considerable sums of money, considerable time and thought and energy to acquire the secrets of Free Masonry, Odd Fellowship or other earthly institutions. Of how much more are “the secrets of the Lord,” which are to go only to those who reverence him and who love the Lord with all their heart, mind, soul, strength. Although the Gospel is free in one sense of the word, the Lord has evidently found a way to make it cost us something in order to make our love, our devotion, our zeal known.


If we have learned some of the Song let us sing that portion; let us tell it out to our neighbors and friends, as soon as we have made sure that what we have learned is not traditions of the ancients from the dark ages, but the true Song of Moses and the Lamb, as foretold by the apostles and the prophets. As we faithfully proclaim what we have already learned and become more and more imbued with the Truth it will enable us to appreciate to a greater extent “the deep things of God,” which the natural eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man the things which God hath in reservation, and hath revealed unto us by the Spirit of his Word. (1 Cor. 2:9, 10) The learning of the Song is thus a progressive work which belongs to this, our day. Let us, therefore, go on from grace to grace and from knowledge to knowledge!




We have intimated that knowledge will be a mark of Divine favor in this time, and so various Scriptures declare, “Ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” (1 Thess. 5:4) Again speaking of the present time the Lord declares, “None of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand”— not the wise of this world’s wisdom, but the foolish in the world’s estimation, who are wise toward God, seeking first, chiefly, a share in the Kingdom of God’s dear Son.


Incidentally, however, let us remember that if our knowledge outstrips our love we will be in danger. The Spirit of the Lord, Love, is the principal thing. Those who love the Lord supremely, more than they love houses or lands, parents or children, sisters or brothers, or self, will find themselves in that attitude of heart in which every item of knowledge will be a blessing and an aid; but those without this degree of love will find themselves caring mainly for the things of this present life, rather than for the will of God, and will thus be left without this Song of the Morning and its evidence of their faithfulness to the great King and to his Word.


Not so much are great intellectual powers necessary to the learning of this Song, but chiefly the character of love, meekness, teachableness, faith, by which the soul is enabled to come into close fellowship with the Lord, and to drink in the spirit, as well as the letter, of his Word. Nor are great talents and pulpit opportunities necessary to the singing of this Song of Moses and the Lamb. It can be sung with melody in the heart and can be brought to the attention of others through the printed page. Hence, to know the Song and not to sing it, to understand the good tidings and not to proclaim them, would mean fear or shame or lack of zeal, any of which would be quite sufficient reasons for losing a knowledge of the Song. The Lord is seeking for “overcomers,” for those who are not ashamed of him and of his Word. He declares that those who are ashamed of him, he will be ashamed of and not confess them before the Father and the holy angels.


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