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Pastor Charles Taze Russell
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The Penalty Of Unthankfulness

“Giving thanks always for all things unto God.” (Eph. 5:20)


Our experiences in life are to a considerable extent what we make them. Bible students should be philosophers every one of them. Why? Because the Wisdom from Above is the noblest science and best instruction. As St. Paul declares, it tends to promote the spirit of a sound mind and a sound mind is necessarily a philosophical one. Murmurers and complainers are not philosophers, but the reverse. A sound mind tells us to take things as they are, to make the best of them rather than to quarrel over them and find fault with Divine providence and make ourselves and every body else in our environment miserable.


True Christian people in every land and under all conditions have found plenty of cause for thankfulness, even though they have had their share, or more, of life’s difficulties. Nor was this thankfulness because they had mastered the Divine philosophy and understood the WHY and WHEREFORE of the present reign of Sin and Death. They accepted their portion of life’s joys and sorrows by faith, believing that their portion was measured to them by the Lord, and that full obedience and submission, with cheerfulness, was their duty.




We are ready to concede that the world, awakening from the sleepy superstitions of the past, can readily make many excuses for declining to be thankful. If we mention some of these it will not be by way of endorsing them, rather to show the unthankful masses that we recognize their view point but do not agree with it. We would point them to the better course of thankfulness and proportionate happiness.


To their complaint that they have fewer and smaller blessings than their more wealthy neighbors, we remind them that the poor of this favored land habitually waste more than would make very thankful some of the poor of other lands. We remind that under Divine blessing upon the soil and Divine blessing upon human skill conveniences and comforts have multi plied about us so that the “common people” of our land have home comforts and conveniences and educational facilities and parks and libraries, well paved and lighted streets and cheap transportation such as were not dreamed of in our grandfathers’ days, nor enjoyed even by the rich. Let us not greedily ask more along these lines until we have fully appreciated present privileges and blessings and returned thanks therefor.


“But,” says one, “our forefathers were superstitiously thankful, and we must avoid that. They gave thanks to God for the sunshine and the rain. We have learned that these are provisions of nature: and we thank nobody for them. Our forefathers thanked God for escape from feudal slavery; but we see that they should have rebelled against feudalism and bought their freedom with their own courage. Our forefathers thanked God, if they were sick, that they did not die and go to eternal torture. We are coming to the rationalistic idea that they should have thanked their physician for recovery from sickness and should not have believed in an everlasting future of torture; for so far as we can see that teaching is all humbug.


“Intelligent people of the world have no more knowledge than ourselves respecting a future. We agree with the college professors that our race is progressing by an evolutionary law of nature; that God has nothing to do with it; and that there is no future life for us except in the sense that we, in the future, will be represented on a higher plane of living by our evolved children. You will perceive, therefore, why we consider Thanksgiving Day a piece of medieval superstition.”




Our reply to this reasoning must be along two lines: first, philosophical; second, analytical:


(1) Are not these increasingly large numbers of pantheistic and atheistic evolutionists unphilosophical? They admit that they have blessings far beyond anything known to their forefathers, and they admit that their unhappiness has increased in proportion as these blessings and reasonings respecting them have been received. Would not true philosophy tell them that if happiness is their aim and desire, their loss of happiness is not due to the increased blessings, but to the improper and unthankful manner in which they have received them? Would not philosophy alone, apart from the Bible or religion, have warned them that, even if their theories were true, it would be unwise to cultivate them in their own minds and in the minds of others?


(2) Let us now analyze the foregoing complaints. Who can prove to us that there is no living and true God that there is merely a god of nature, a blind force? Who can explain to us the power which holds our earth in its orbit around the sun; which has given the summer and winter, cold and heat; and which has given us mountains and valleys, hills and plains, in pleasing variety and loaded with minerals most useful to us and merely waiting our Heaven-directed genius to bring them forth for the blessing of our race, and to make of earth the Paradise of God?


What philosophy can prove to us that these things have happened by chance and that we are wrong in accepting the Scriptural suggestion, “Day unto day uttereth speech and night unto night showeth knowledge, and there is no place where their voice is not heard” proclaiming an all-wise and beneficent Creator? We know that the wisdom and beneficence of our Creator were hidden from our mental view by our superstitions and irrational creeds of the past; but now, as the electric light has superseded the tallow candle, so God’s Word today is shining forth to those who have eyes to see its beauty.


Let us not boast ourselves as possessed of so much greater courage than had some in feudal times. Let us note, on the contrary, that the patriot ism which demanded and obtained the Magna Carta of our liberties was as noble and courageous as any that we have today, or more so. Our freedom from some of the superstitions of the past is the result of the spread of education; and we must thank either ourselves nor our forefathers for this widespread education. We must thank the Lord for it. It came upon the world in spite of the opposition of the rich and the indifference of the poor. It came because God’s due time for it had arrived.


The Scriptures fully assure us that this is a special mark or evidence that the New Era of Divine blessing, prophesied in the Scriptures long ago, is now at hand. Compare St. Peter’s words (Acts 3:19-21) with the words of the Prophet Daniel. (Dan. 12:1) Rightly understood and appreciated, the very arguments used to oppose God are grounds for sincere praise and gratitude and hope for the future.




The law of sin and death is referred to in Scripture. We grant, as all thinking people must, that the teaching of the creeds formulated in the Dark Ages respecting the torture of the dead are absurd; and more than this, we hold that they are unscriptural, that they were conjured up under superstitious fears, and that certain symbolical pictures of the Bible were wrested to the support of those misconceptions of the Divine Character and Plan.


But does the rejection of those absurd theories disprove an intelligent Creator and disprove the Bible declaration that He is a God of Love; and that there is a rational explanation of the present reign of Sin and Death, and a rational basis for hope for the resurrection of the dead, under the glorious Reign of Emmanuel, the Prince of Life, and the blessings which His Kingdom will surely bring to every member of our race? That the human family is in a weak and depraved condition, mentally, morally and physically, is beyond dispute; and evolutionists have not proven the Bible in error in its explanation that present mental, moral and physical weakness is proof of the degeneracy which came to our race as a result of sin. Consanguinity between the human and the ape has not been proven; but if it HAD BEEN, there would be just as much ground for reasoning that a monkey or an ape is a degenerate human as for claiming that humanity are evoluted apes.


In opposition to this irrational theory we note that mankind in general, even those of humble birth, have organs of the mind which they rarely use, and which cannot, therefore, be said to be evolved by them, and those organs are not the lower but the higher ones, the nobler ones. Those qualities of minds are present but dormant, merely waiting to be quickened into activity. This fact favors the Bible view that mankind are FALLEN, and that few are living up to even the best of the impaired organism which they possess.


The evolutionary theory, that we should live and die simply for the advancement of future generations, may prove an incentive to some; but in our judgment these will be few. Of far greater interest is the Bible teaching that the present is the NIGHT TIME, in which our friends and neighbors and ourselves, one by one, fall asleep in death; and that God’s Infinite Wisdom and Power and Love have provided a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust the just to glory, honor and ever lasting life, the unjust to a glorious condition very different from the present reign of Sin and Death under the Reign of the Prince of Life, with glorious opportunities, for a thousand years, of uplifting blessed ness. Then everlasting life will be the reward to the faithful and appreciative.




St. Peter, addressing Christians, says, “What manner of persons ought YE to be?” Similarly, we might say, How earnest should be the thanksgiving of Christians! But Alas! Thanksgiving Day with us has lost much of the religious import known to our forefathers. Notwithstanding false doc trines inculcated by manmade creeds, our forefathers believed the Bible record of man’s original perfection, his fall into sin and condemnation, the redemption accomplished through Jesus, and a restoration to Divine favor thus made possible. These truths constituted the foundation for a living faith in God and led them to give thanks for the harvest of the year, accounting that if every good and perfect gift comes directly or indirectly from the hand of God it should be received accordingly and acknowledged.


Today, however, we have the form of godliness without the power, because the precious faith has been well-nigh destroyed by the Higher Critics and Evolutionists, who for the past fifty years have been laboring constantly to this end, and with wonderful success. Well does God ask the question, “Who hath believed our report” who believes the Divine Record, or Message, and who sees the Arm of Jehovah connected with the world’s affairs?


Any one having lost faith in the Bible and its God has therefore little left except a form of godliness, without its power. Nevertheless, here and there in all nations and all sects of Christendom are to be found loyal souls, bewildered by the present trend of affairs, and crying out to God for further light, and appreciating and giving thanks for every blessing, even though they do not understand the philosophy of their own experience.


St. Peter declares that the sunburst of the New Dispensation of Messiah’s Kingdom will be preceded by the Morning Star, which will shine into the hearts of God’s faithful people in the early dawn, to herald its approach. The Sun of Righteousness has not yet risen; but many of God’s people are noting the clear light now shining upon the Divine Word, and are realizing that it comes from Him, and that He is preparing them, through a better understanding of the Bible, to appreciate the glorious sunlight of Divine mercy which will soon overspread the world and scatter the darkness of earth’s superstition, sin and death.


Such alone are able to give thanks in the highest sense of the term; for they, better than others, appreciate the Divine Program and can fully endorse the words of our text. I urge all of this class to be very thankful, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord in respect to all your affairs, and waiting patiently for the full development of the Divine Purpose, assured by faith it will prove exceedingly, abundantly more than we could have asked or thought.

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