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    1: THE EARTH PROMISED TO THE MEEK

    “Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5.SAIN 5.1

    IT is the plainly stated doctrine of the Scriptures that the faithful in Christ Jesus are to receive a reward, and this reward is spoken of as an inheritance. The apostle Paul, in admonishing the Hebrew brethren to faithfulness, used these words: “And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: that ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” 1Hebrews 6:11, 12. In his exhortation to the elders of the church at Miletus, he commended them “to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” 2Acts 20:32. Of the message delivered to him by the Lord, at the time of his own conversion, he said that the Lord sent him to the Gentiles, “to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith.” 4Ephesians 1:11. When writing to the Ephesians, A. D. 64, he told them that in Christ they had “obtained an inheritance.” give “thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” 5Colossians 1:12. Again, addressing the Hebrews respecting the benefits to be obtained in Christ, he says, “By means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” 6Hebrews 9:15. Agreeing with the same line of thought, the apostle Peter, speaking of the reward to be bestowed upon God’s people, said, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 71 Peter 1:3-5.SAIN 5.2

    In the Scripture placed at the head of this chapter an inheritance is spoken of for the meek. The blessing here introduced is among those pronounced by our Saviour upon different Christian graces. The decision respecting these blessings, given in reply to a question by a Sunday-school superintendent in New York City, by a little girl, was not much out of the way. After the close of a lesson upon these graces, he asked the class which of these blessings they would rather have. One little girl replied, “I would rather have the one pronounced upon the meek.” When asked why, she meekly replied, “O, sir, if I live in such a manner as to have that blessing, I shall have all the rest.” How true! The one who is truly meek will have the other graces abounding also. A meek person is one who is “mild of temper; not easily provoked or irritated; given to forbearance under injuries.” 8Webster. Such an one was Moses. “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” 9Numbers 12:3. his lips.” Christ was a perfect pattern of meekness. He “did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.” 101 Peter 2:22, 23. “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth.”SAIN 6.1

    The blessing here pronounced upon the meek is, “They shall inherit the earth.” This word “shall” shows that the language relates to the future, and, therefore, we at once conclude that the promise refers to a future inheritance. We are not prepared to accept the reasoning of the minister who, when treating upon this text, spoke of a certain rich man of his acquaintance who became a Christian, and who gave much of his substance for the advancement of church work and the spread of the gospel at home and abroad: “Moreover,” said he, “he was the meekest man I ever knew, because he possessed the most of this world’s goods of any Christian I ever knew.” To give force to his claim he quoted again the scripture, “Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.” 11Acts 8:32; Isaiah 53:7. If any of our readers are inclined to such an interpretation, let them bear in mind that the text does not say, Blessed are the meek, for they do inherit the earth, but “they shall” inherit it.SAIN 7.1

    The mode of speech used here by our Saviour, when speaking of this inheritance of the earth, is not peculiar to the New Testament; the same is also fully declared in the Old. In Psalm 37, it is three times stated that the Lord’s people “shall inherit the earth,” and three times that “they shall inherit the land.” He also says of this time, “Their inheritance shall be for ever.” We understand that these texts present before us a future inheritance; not an inheritance of simply the blessings of this life, but of the joys of the earth when it shall be made new. Of those who may suppose that Matthew 5:5 is fulfilled in this life, we would inquire, Where is the person who has received an inheritance here simply because he has lived Christ-like? Is not the decree still upon all men, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread”? Are the righteous more favored with this world’s goods than the wicked? Is it not still true that God makes the “sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust”? and that he is “kind unto the unthankful and to the evil”?SAIN 7.2

    It is true that David could say of the Lord’s care for his people, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread;” yet when speaking of abundant prosperity in this world, he treats of it as the lot of the wicked instead of the saints. He says, “I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no bands in their death; but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. Their eyes stand out with fatness; they have more than heart could wish.” 12Psalm 73:3-7. Again, “Fret not thyself because of evil doers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.” “Fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.... For evil doers shall be cut off; but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be; yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth.” 13Psalm 37:1, 2, 7, 9-12.SAIN 8.1

    From the above, we see that the psalmist considered the lot of the wicked to be such in this world that the righteous would be in danger of desiring it, and fretting about it. He also contrasts the inheritance which the righteous are to receive with the final overthrow of the wicked, which is also proof that the inheritance of which he speaks is still future, and not simply in this life.SAIN 8.2

    Still further, making his contrast, David says of the wicked, “Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.” “When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou wakest, thou shalt despise their image.” That their end to which he refers is their future punishment and not the end of this life, is evident from the fact that he states of their release from this world, “There are no bands in their death; but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.” 14Psalm 73:4, 5, 12, 16-20.SAIN 9.1

    The principal reason for applying Matthew 5:5 in this life, has been the supposition that when Christ shall come and redeem his people, the earth itself will be destroyed, and no longer be a possession for mankind. Assuming such to be the destiny of our earth has, of course, led to the application to this life of all texts that speak of rewards and punishments on earth. By reasoning in accordance with such premises, the Universalist has found consolation in such texts as Proverbs 11:31, which reads, “The righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner.” Claiming that this text could not have its application after this life, they have reasoned that whatever recompense is received by the righteous or the wicked on the earth must be in this life, and for their good or evil deeds performed here. And if the wicked have met the recompense of their evil deeds here, in another life they will have an equal chance with the righteous. But, by comparing this text with two other expressions used by Solomon, we shall see that there is no foundation for the claim from the above text that the recompense of the wicked is simply in this life. In Proverbs 2, comparing the future of the righteous and the wicked, he says, “For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it. But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.” 15Proverbs 2:21, 22. Again, in speaking of the righteous after they shall be planted in their inheritance, he says, “The righteous shall never be removed; but the wicked shall not inhabit the earth.” 16Proverbs 10:30.SAIN 9.2

    A text which is sometimes quoted to prove that the earth will cease to exist at the coming of Christ, is found in the words of Peter: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” 172 Peter 3:10. This text does not inform us that the earth is to be burned up; neither could such a conclusion be drawn from it, after properly analyzing the language. “The elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also.” The earth is to be melted, the same as “the elements.” It is the works that are in the earth, and not the earth itself, which are to be burned up in the day of the Lord. The works which are to be burned up we understand are the “works of the devil,” which John says Christ has been “manifested, that he might destroy.” (See 1 John 3:8.) These works are sin and sinners, and this involves also the removal from the earth of the curse and all the results of man’s sin.SAIN 10.1

    Our conclusion that the earth is to be melted instead of being entirely consumed is further confirmed by the statement made by the apostle in 2 Peter 3:11: “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.” This is the only scripture which can be supposed to intimate that the earth itself is to be entirely burned up. This text, we see makes no such statement. If we look at the connection of this language respecting the earth, we shall see that Peter is speaking of three conditions of the earth; before the flood; since the flood; and what it is to be after the fires of the day of God have acted upon it. He presents two changes in it, one that was wrought by water, and another that is to be accomplished by fire. Of the scoffers who inquire, as the day approaches, “Where is the promise of his coming?” he says: “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: but the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” 182 Peter 3:4-7. That Peter did not design to teach the utter destruction of the heavens and the earth, is evident from the words he uses in concluding this reasoning. He says, “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”SAIN 11.1

    Edward Robinson, D. D., a learned Greek scholar, says that the word rendered new, in 2 Peter 3:13; Isaiah 65:17, and 66:2, means renewed, or made new; hence, better, superior, more splendid; so, he says the corresponding word of the Old Testament means, as a verb, to make new, or renew, repair, restore, as in 1 Samuel 11:14; Job 10:17; Isaiah 61:4; Psalm 103:5; 22 Chronicles 15:8; 24:4; whence are derived the words rendered “new,” i.e., “renewed,” as in new moon, new heart, new creature, etc.SAIN 11.2

    Solomon says, “The earth abideth for ever.” 19Ecclesiastes 1:4. And David says: “Of old hast thou laid the foundations of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure; yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed.”SAIN 12.1

    It would hardly seem possible that the object of an all-wise Creator would be accomplished in the creation of this world, if there should not be a future for it in which it should exist free from sin and violence. From the time of its earliest history, sin, rebellion, anarchy, and confusion have distressed its borders; the great majority of its inhabitants have lived in transgression of God’s law. Has this fulfilled the purpose of God in creation? He says for his “pleasure all things are and were created.” 20Psalm 102:25, 26. He has no pleasure in sin. Then his pleasure and purpose have not been met in a world filled with sinners and blasphemers of his name. We can expect nothing better while this probationary state continues; for the Lord informs us through Paul that “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” If there is no future state for this earth, when sin and sinners shall be rooted out of it, would not its very existence be a blot in the creation of God? This is not a matter of mere reasoning and speculation, for the prophets of God speak of a time when “violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders.” 21Isaiah 60:18. John, in his vision on Patmos, saw a time when “every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.”SAIN 12.2

    As expressed by another:—SAIN 12.3

    “If the earth were to be destroyed and man never have the sovereignty of it, Satan would have a victory to boast of forever; neither would that promise be fulfilled, that Jesus should destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8. Frightful, indeed, is the breach which Satan has made in this fair field of God’s creation.... It is essential for Christ’s glory that the earth should be delivered out of the hand of the enemy.SAIN 12.4

    “To suppose, as some have done, that the whole fabric of creation will be shattered to pieces, that the stars will literally fall from their orbs, and the material universe be blotted out of existence, is a sentiment so absurd and extravagant, and so contrary to the general tenor of the Scriptures and the character of God that it is astonishing that it should ever have been entertained by any man calling himself a divine, or a Christian preacher.SAIN 13.1

    “Only exhaust from the earth the poison-sin-let the footfall of Him who made it be echoed from its hills and valleys once more, at dewy dawn and eventide, and this earth of ours will be instantly transformed into an orb, the like of which is not among all the orbs of the universe besides.”SAIN 13.2

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