"Hold that fast which thou hast, that
no man take thy crown."Rev. 3:11 .
THE QUESTION is sometimes asked whether it is possible for one to consecrate himself and to be accepted at this late hour in the Gospel Age, unless there is a crown reserved for such a one. Certainly it would be possible for one to consecrate himself. Consecration is always proper. Long before the Gospel Age began, Abraham and the Prophets made consecration of their lives. St. Paul informs us that these Ancient Worthies showed that their lives were consecrated to God and righteousness; for they sufferedmany of thempainful and ignominious deaths for His sake. Thus they demonstrated that the world was unworthy of them.Heb. 11:33-38.
The fact that a person has offered himself in consecration does not, however, obligate the Almighty to accept the offering. While it is true that "God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34,) yet His favor was given first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. This favor is the most wonderful ever offered to beings on any plane of existencethat all who will accept the terms may come into the Church, which is the mystical Body of Christ, until a sufficient number shall have been found, until the fore-ordained number shall have made consecration and shall have made their calling and election sure.
While the Scriptures indicate clearly that we are living at the very close of the Gospel Age, yet it is not for us to know when the full number shall have consecrated themselves. It is our belief that in a general way the outward call ceased in 1881, A. D.
Our thought is that in 1878 there were a great many consecrated persons who had not passed their trial in full; and that there were in the nominal churches many thousands who had made full consecration to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. From 1874 to 1881, there was a great number of evangelists preaching both in this country and abroad. Of these, Evangelist Moody was perhaps the best known. He seemed to make a great many converts; and his preaching seemed to be very different from that of the majority of evangelists. He preached forgiveness through the precious blood of Christ, and full consecration to God.
During that revival period, many made a full consecration, had their names tentatively written in Heaven, and filled up the number required. But when the testings came, many were found unworthy of a higher reward than that of the Great Company. Others took the places of the failures and were also tested and sifted. Vacancies occurred; and still others came in for an opportunity. We see evidences that this work has been going on for the past thirty years; and we believe that it is true that some names are now being listed and that there are crowns awaiting such.
People who have not been interested in religion and who have not heretofore consecrated themselves unto God, have quite recently made full consecration of themselves and have received that evidence which seems to indicate that God has accepted them. Not only have the eyes of their understanding been opened so that they can see the spiritual, or deep things of God, but they are given opportunities to sacrifice. While we make a covenant that we will sacrifice (Psa. 50:5), yet it is for the Lord to give us the opportunity to do so. The fact that some of the recently consecrated are receiving and using opportunities to sacrifice, implies that when they made their consecration there was a place open and that they are filling it.
The fact also that so many have been thus accepted since 1878 seems to imply that there has been a considerable vacancy in the list of the Elect, and that it is gradually filling up. It is not for us to say how much of a vacancy remains, or just when it will be filled. We fully believe, however, that it will be filled before the close of "the Times of the Gentiles," which we think will end with October, 1914.
As for others who have not yet consecrated themselves, we can say with St. Paul, "I beseech you,...brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice." (Rom. 12:1.) Do your best. It may be that there is an opening and you may get in. Consecrate your time, your talents, all that you have, to the service of God. He is a good Paymaster; whatever reward He may give you will be a prize.
We realize, however, that all who will be accepted as members of the Body of Christ must have trials both of faith and of loyalty before being assigned to a definite place in the Kingdom. Those who become reprobates will constitute the Second Death class. Others may be assigned to the Great Company. All such will be counted out of membership in the Royal Priesthood. As each is put out as unworthy, his former place becomes vacant and [R5169 : page 27] his crown released. Such vacancies, we understand, are now being filled from among those who offer themselves.
This condition has obtained since 1881, when, we believeas before statedthe general call ceased. When a vacancy occurs, it is reasonable to believe that from among those who are in a waiting attitude the one would be chosen who is the most highly developed and most fully in harmony with the Lord.