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AN EXPOSITION OF THE APOCALYPSE
7. The Balaamites
But, though the Star-Angel, or eldership, of the ecclesia in Pergamos in the general answered to Antipas, the Spirit's faithful witness, "Yet," said he, "I have against thee a few things, because thou hast there them holding fast the teaching of Balaam who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat idol-sacrifices, and to fornicate. So hast thou also them holding fast the teaching of the Nikolaitans, which thing I detest."
Balaam, like Nikolaitan, Antipas, etc., is a typical name. It is written !hebrew!, Bilaam in the Hebrew; from !hebrew!, bela am, signifying wasting of the people. A Nikolaitan is a vanquisher of the people; and a Balaam is a waster of the people; qualities uniting in the same class. It is also the name of an ancient prophet, who, in the days of Moses, resided at Pethor on the Euphrates, in Mesopotamia, among the mountains of the East. Though a believer in the true God, he practised divination for the discovery of enchantments, and was held in high esteem by the Baal-worshippers of his time; who declared their conviction, that "whom he blessed was blessed, and whom he cursed was cursed."
On a certain occasion, when the Israelites were encamped in the plains of Moab, on the east of Jordan by Jericho, Balak, the king of Moab, in concert with the Midianites, sent princes to Balaam, with the rewards of divination, to request him to come and curse them, that being devoted to destruction, he might prevail over them, and expel them from the country. But God said to him, "Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed." Upon this he refused to go, and the princes returned to Moab.
But Balak was importunate. He sent again by more princes, and of a higher rank, and with promises of great honor and riches, if he would comply with his request. But, though he loved the wages of unrighteousness, he was afraid to encounter the consequences of violating the interdict he had received. He concluded, however, to try the Lord again, and see if He would not relax in favor of his covetousness. At night he received the answer, that if the men came to call him, he might rise up and go with them; but he was to speak only the word revealed to him at the time. It seems, however, that he was so keen after the honors and rewards, that he did not wait to be called, but of his own accord rose up, and posted off with two servants. Balaam was evidently a man of bad principles. No further account would be necessary to prove this. Yahweh had told him that the people were blessed, yet he sought to gratify a Baal-worshipper for a reward, in seeming to comply with his request. Had his heart been right, he would have accepted God's interdict as final, and have refused to consult, the Lord any more upon the subject. He would have dismissed the princes of Moab with an unqualified and emphatic denial, and have commanded them to appear no more in his presence with their bribes to sin. But no; he professed a zeal for the word of Jehovah his God, while he was anxious to please the worshippers of Baal for reward. "If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of Yahweh my God, to do less or more;" but stay; don't go away; I will see what I can get Him to let me do. If he had been an honest and upright man, he would not have said "I cannot," but he would have declared, "I will not go beyond His word."
But he went with two servants, and therefore God's anger was kindled; "and an angel of Yahweh stood in the way for a Satan against him," with a naked sword in his hand. When his eyes were opened to see the peril, he fell prostrate; and having received a severe reproof for the perverseness of his way, he was permitted to go with the princes.
Balak hearing of his approach, went forth to meet him. Balaam having explained his position, accompanied Balak to Kirjath-huzzoth, the capital of Moab, where he ate of the idol-sacrifices with the princes of the king; and on the morrow, they took up their position on one of the high places of Baal, commanding a view of the four-square encampment of Israel. But Jehovah would not allow him to defy them, but compelled him to utter those beautiful predictions of their future glory under the Star and Sceptre of Jacob, recorded in Num. xxiii. and xxiv. Seeing he could not reverse Yahweh's blessing upon His people, and knowing that His favor is consequent on keeping His commandments, he counselled Balak to cast a stumbling block before them, causing them to sin. Instead, therefore, of advising him to war, he suggested the policy of seducing them from their allegiance to Yahweh and his law, by sending in the daughters of Moab among them, and enticing them, to impurity and idolatry. Balak followed his advice, and by the means proposed, caused Israel to be joined to Baalpeor, which caused the anger of Yahweh to smoke against them.
Such, in brief, is the history of the prophet who caused a wasting of the people; for Yahweh commanded their chiefs to be hung, and all who had offended to be slain to the number of twenty-four thousand. The points of his character were covetousness, perverseness, presumptuousness, unrighteousness, beguiler of unstable Israelites, apostasy from the right way. Where such attributes of character meet in a class of persons, they are said in the New Testament to be "following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor;" and Balaam becomes the representative of the class.
Thus, in the days of the apostles, there were "false teachers" in the Christian congregations, whose motives, teaching, and practices, were analogous to Balaam's. They were "grievous wolves," wasters of the people, "speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them." They taught that belief of the gospel, and being baptized, was not enough; but that, in addition to this, it was necessary also to be circumcised, and keep the law of Moses, or men could not be saved. They appended this dogma to the wholesome words of the Lord Jesus, in order to popularize his doctrine, and make it palatable to the Jews. Paul styles it "another gospel; which (truly) is not another, but a perversion thereof." He says that they who preached it were "accursed" that they sought to bring believers into bondage; and that, desiring to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrained their victims to be circumcised, only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ (Acts xv. 1-5: xx. 29,30; Gal. i. 6,7: ii. 4: v. 10: vi. 12).
They proceeded from bad to worse. They inculcated a distinction of meats and drink; the observance of holy days, new moons, and sabbaths; and a voluntary humility in neglecting the body, and worshipping of angels. They not only commanded to abstain from meats, but they also forbad to marry; and corrupted the minds of their dupes with fables, endless genealogies, and doctrines of demons (Col. ii. 16,18,22,23; 1 Tim. i. 4: iv. 1,3).
But these false teachers not only Judaized, or taught disciples to seek a justification by Mosaic observances, but some of them Gentilized by indoctrinating them with the principles of philosophy, and inducing them to conform to practices and customs of idolatry. Paul wrote 1 Cor. viii. and x. 7-33, to fortify the minds of the brethren against their influence. His reasoning in these places is directed against the teaching of the Balaam-class who taught the lawfulness of eating idol-sacrifices in the temples. Their argument was after this wise: "We have knowledge. We know that the idols are nothing; so that in eating of the demon-sacrifices, and drinking of the demon-cup, not having an idolatrous conscience, we perform no act of worship: being safe with God upon this point, we obtain the advantage of seeming conformity in avoiding persecution for our desertion of the national superstition."
In philosophizing, they taught the inherent immortality of all men. They rejected the immortality of body, and substituted for it the indwelling of an "immortal soul" in the mortal body; and affirmed its separate and independent intelligent existence in heaven the instant the heart ceased to beat and the lungs to breathe. This led them to deny the resurrection of the body, and to teach that "the resurrection had passed already;" or, what is equivalent to it, that "there is no resurrection of the dead;" and so overthrowing the faith of some, by their profane vain babblings and oppositions of science, falsely so called (1 Cor. xv. 12; 2 Tim. ii. 18; 1 Tim. vi. 20).
Now, of these false teachers the apostle saith, "They reckon of us as if we walked according to the flesh: and say, his letters are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible. But though I be rude in speech, yet am I not in knowledge. They are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for the Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as ministers of righteousness. Are they Hebrews? so. am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? I speak ironically, I am more. In nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing. Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. But, being crafty, (they say) I caught you with guile!" (2 Cor. x. 2,10: xi. 4,6,13-15,22: xii. 11,12,16; Phil. iii. 2,18,19).
Still speaking of these, he says, "There are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake. Their mind and conscience are defiled. They profess that they know God, but in works they deny him, being abominable and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate" (Tit. i. 10). "They have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. Of this sort are they who creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now, as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. They are evil men and seducers, and will wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Tim. iii. 1-13).
Peter was not behind Paul in his denunciation of this class of men whose diabolical mission it was to turn the grace of God into licentiousness. "There were," saith he, "false prophets among the people (Israel) even as there shall be false teachers among you (Nazarenes) who will privily introduce destructive sects, and deny the Master that bought them. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of the truth will be evil spoken of. And through covetousness will they with feigned words make merchandise of you. As natural brute beasts made to be taken and destroyed, they speak evil of the things they do not understand; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption." He then shows that these characters were already in full operation in the societies of the faithful; for, he continued, "They are spots and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings, while they feast with you; having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls; an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: who have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but was rebuked for his iniquity. These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; for whom the mist of darkness is reserved in the Aion. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption" (2 Pet. ii). These were the scoffers who appeared in the last days of the Mosaic Aion, "walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming?" -- the "false prophets" that the Lord Jesus predicted would "arise and deceive many; and say in heart, the Lord delayeth his coming;" and should therefore "begin to smite their fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken" (Matt. xxiv. 11,48,49).
John also, to whom the Apocalypse was revealed, is particularly pointed against these wolves in the clothing of sheep. "Little children," saith he, "it is the last hour: and as ye have heard that the Antichrist comes, even now many antichrists exist: whereby we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for, if they had been of us, they would have continued with us: but they went out that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." They denied that Jesus is the Christ; and, consequently, repudiated the doctrine of the manifestation of the Father through him as the Son. Therefore, referring to them, John inquires, "Who is the liar but he who affirms that Jesus is not the Christ? This is the Antichrist rejecting the Father and the Son." >From this it would appear, that they had given the lie to the apostles for teaching what they had come to deny; but John retorted upon them that they were the liars, and the germ of the Antichrist to be more fully revealed. "These things," says he, "I write unto you concerning them that seduce you. Little children, let no man deceive you. Believe not every spirit" -- believe not every man who pretends to speak by the spirit: "but try the spirits;" bring them to the test of the Law and the Testimony, and by this standard ascertain "whether they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. By this ye may know the Spirit of God; every spirit (or prophet) that confesseth that Jesus Christ has come in flesh is from God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ came in flesh is not of God: and this is the (spirit) of the Antichrist which ye have heard that it comes; and is now already in the world. They (these false prophets or teachers) are of the world; because of this they speak of the world (being inspired by its traditions) and the world hears them" (1 John ii. 18,19,22: iv. 1-6).
These were they who released their hold upon the name of Jesus, and denied his faith; and who were strenuously opposed by the true believers under the class-name, or symbol, Antipas; which see. John in writing his second epistle wrote to an Antipas-Ecclesia, or community of faithful witnesses. He exhorted them to continuance in the truth that was from the beginning; and as the reason of his exhortation refers to the fact that "many deceivers were entered into the world, not confessing that Jesus Christ is come in flesh: this," says he, "is the deceiver and the Antichrist." Therefore, he continues, "If there come any unto you and bring not the doctrine of Christ (that He is come in flesh), receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed." In his third epistle, he informs us that Diotrephes was one of this class, and refused even to acknowledge him. Affairs must have attained to a pre-eminently antichristian state to have come to this. This Diotrephes loved to have the pre-eminence in the congregation, and prated against John and his friends with malicious words; "and not content therewith, did himself neither receive the brethren, and forbade them that would, and cast them out of the ecclesia."
The manifestation of these false teachers contemporary with the apostles created a crisis in the history of the faith. It had come to this, either they must be put down, or the doctrine of Christ would be suppressed. This alternative would certainly have resulted, if God had not reserved to himself a remnant who refused to bow the knee to Baal. This remnant was Antipas; and therefore against all the Nicolaitans, Balaams, and Jezebels; false teachers, who had crept in unawares, corrupting and handling the word of God deceitfully, that they might make it less offensive to the Jews and idolaters; and so make the profession of christianity more popular, and consequently, less dangerous to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in the world.
The only weapon granted to Antipas against Satan, was "the two-edged sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." He was to be earnest and indefatigable in the use of this, that he might perpetuate the faith in the heart of a remnant till the apocalypse of Christ (Apoc. vi. 11; xii. 17). Writing to this class to which the apostles belonged, Jude says, "It was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only sovereign Deity, even our Lord Jesus Christ." These, after the example of Israel in the wilderness, the messengers that kept not their first estate, and Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities of the plain, "believed not," "left their first love," and "gave themselves over to fornication, going after other flesh," and to eating of things idolatrously devoted. They were dreaming fanatics who defiled the flesh, despised authority, and spoke evil of the illustrious, as Diotrephes did of John and others. They spoke evil of those things which they understood not; but what they knew naturally, as the irrational creatures, in those things they corrupt themselves. "Woe unto them!" exclaims Jude, "for they have gone in the way of Cain, and rushed headlong into the error of Balaam for hire, and destroyed themselves with the rebellion of Korah. These are sunken rocks feasting with you in your love-feasts, feeding themselves without fear; clouds without water borne about by winds; fruitless autumnal trees, twice dead, uprooted; raging billows of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom the blackness of darkness is reserved for the Aion. These are grumblers, fault-finders, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh pompous things, praising persons for the sake of gain. But, beloved," continues Jude, "remember ye the words before spoken by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; thus they told you that in the last period there will be scoffers walking after the lusts of their impieties. These who separate themselves are they, animal, not having spirit."
From these testimonies who can forbear to exclaim, What an apostasy is here! As Paul truly styled it, it was "THE MYSTERY OF INIQUITY," which he said "already is working;" and was that iniquity to which Jesus referred, as the result of the operation of the many false prophets that would arise, saying, "and because of the abounding of the iniquity, the love of the many will grow cold" (Matt. xxiv. 11,12). It must have been a matter of great mortification to the apostles to witness such havoc in the field of their labors. Yet, when we consider the natural perverseness of flesh, any other result would have excited more surprise. No names more appropriate could have been selected from Jewish history, to designate this incarnate iniquity of the apostolic age, than those of Balaam and Jezebel, who were !greek!, the Conquerors of the people, or !greek! Nicolaitans. They made war upon the saints, and prevailed against them.
Here, then, was an organization, a fellowship of iniquity, developed from the tares which the enemy had sown among the wheat. It grew up with the good seed until it acquired political ascendancy, and then the separation became complete. The "woman Jezebel" in the maturity of her abominations, became "the Church," the daughter of Baal and the wife of Ahab, the State-Harlot of the habitable; and the Balaam-corrupters of the disciples, the priests of her idolatrous communion.
Thus the elements of the Apostasy were ecclesiastically organized antecedently to the revelation of the things exhibited in the Apocalypse. The men that figure as "THE FATHERS," such as the writers of the Apocryphal New Testament, Cyprian, Origen, etc., were of Balaam. From Balaam and Jezebel have sprung the Clergy of all the Names and Denominations of Christendom. These are the successors of those self-styled apostles, who prated with malicious words against the true apostles; and the leading characteristics of the Balaamite teachers of the first century, will be found to be those of the Clergy of our own times. The following enumeration will establish the truth of this remark:
1. The primitive Balaamites prophesied for hire; so do the clergy;
2. The primitive Balaamites preached perverse things to draw away disciples after them, that their hire might be increased; so do the clergy;
3. The primitive Balaamites blended Mosaic observances with gospel principles, judaizing and sabbatizing especially; so do the clergy;
4. The primitive Balaamites preached a perverted gospel, or rather no gospel at all; so do the clergy;
5. The primitive Balaamites brought the people into bondage; so have the clergy, and keep them so;
6. The primitive Balaamites commanded to abstain from meats and drinks; so do the clergy;
7. They taught the worship of saints and angels, and forbad to marry; so do the popish clergy;
8. They sought to please men, and flattered them for gain; so do the clergy;
9. They made the doctrine of the resurrection and a future judgment of none effect by their traditions about souls; so do the clergy;
10. They made merchandise of the bodies and souls of men with feigned words; so do the clergy;
11. They knew more of heathen philosophy and learning than of the gospel; so do the clergy;
12. They thought more highly of their own speculations than of apostolic and prophetic truth; so do the clergy;
13. They taught things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake so do the clergy;
14. They professed that they knew God, but were disobedient; so
are the clergy;
15. They resisted the truth, and caused it to be evil spoken of; so do the clergy;
16. They scoffed at the coming of the Lord; so do the clergy;
17. They denied that Jesus came in flesh, and so originated the immaculate conception; so do the clergy;
18. They were of the world, therefore the world heard them; so are the clergy, and therefore it hears and honors them;
19. They loved the pre-eminence; so do the clergy;
20. They cast all out of their churches that stood by the apostles, and opposed their errors; so do the clergy;
21. They were destroyers and corrupters of the people; so are the clergy;
22. The primitive Balaamites were inventors and lovers of lies subversive of the truth; so are the clergy;
23. They made a fair show in the flesh, had a form of godliness, and set up for ministers of righteousness, while really the servants of sin; this is equally true of the clergy.
"CLERGY," in the Gentile use of the word, is generic, comprehending many species, and in the popular sense, signifies "the body of men set apart by due ordination for the service of God;" hence, a clergyman is "one in holy orders, not a laick," or one of the people. Every sect has its peculiar "clergy," which are hired, like Balaam of old, to do the will of Balak, that is, to preach the dogmas of their employers. There was a diversity among the children of Balaam and Jezebel in apostolic times. Hence Jude exhorted Antipas to "have compassion on some, making a difference; and others, save, snatching them out of the fire with fear (lest they also should be scorched); hating also the garment defiled by the flesh." Some were more deceived than wilfully deceiving, still, they were all engaged in one work, consciously or not, and that was in "making the word of God of none effect by their traditions," and "teaching for doctrine the commandments of men so that the sentence of condemnation to the blackness of the darkness in the Aion, rested upon them all.
Thus it is likewise with their clerical successors in the nineteenth and previous centuries. All the clerical species are not equally abominable in detail; and individuals even of the same species, are far less exceptionable than others. Apart from their spiritual merchandising, many of them are moral, intelligent, and honorable citizens of the world. The Protestant Clergy of all sects are generally more intelligent and moral than their brethren in "Holy Orders" of the Latin and Greek departments of Jezebel's house. The latter are designated apocalyptically "worshippers of Demons, and of idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, incapable of seeing, hearing, or walking: murderers, sorcerers, fornicators, and thieves" (Apoc. ix. 20,21). The Protestant clergy, however, though making a better show in the flesh, are not clean. When men read prayers on a day set apart by mere human authority in honor of "St. Charles the Martyr" (the royal tyrant beheaded by Cromwell), and other equally holy witnesses, whose ghosts, they affirm to be in heaven and crowned with glory, they are worshippers of Demons. When men preach funeral sermons in praise of souls, which, in dying, they declare went to heaven, where they have become guardian-angels or spirits to their friends on earth, their congregations responding in faith or word, they are all worshippers of Demons. When men teach, endorsing, as they do, their dogmatism by their practice, that mankind can devote their lives to sin, and perpetrate the blackest crimes against God and society; and under the influence of their instruction, persuasions, and prayers, the wretches may be brought to peace with God by a penitentiary act of the mind, in view of the positive declaration of the scripture, saying, "The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, (who are idolaters), nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience" (Eph. v. 5,6: 1 Cor. vi. 9,10); and, "no murderer hath eternal life abiding for him" (1 John iii. 15) -- when the clergy of all sects teach practically such blasphemy of God as this, they are liars, and murderers of the people. When citizens in "Holy Orders" teach, that by reading from a book certain stereotyped prayers, and by sprinkling a few drops of water from a basin on the face of a baby, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the creature is baptized, and regenerated, and become a member of the mystical body of Christ, they not only blaspheme, but they practice sorcery, in the name of Deity. And lastly, when Gentiles, by Act of Parliament, and by arms, as at Rathcormack, and Edinburgh, or by distraint as upon Quakers, compel men to pay them tithes of produce, church rates, and Easter offerings, they are thieves and robbers of the people; and though very classical and gentlemanly in their way, they are the children of Balaam, beguiling unstable souls, and having a heart exercised with covetous practices.
The general characteristics of the clergy are notoriously such as we have set forth. The exceptions may be said to establish the rule. There is this difference, however, between them and their "Fathers" of the first and second centuries -- "the Fathers" -- became the sons of Balaam with their eyes open. They knew "the right way;" but "forsook it, and went astray;" they were "children of God;" but became "cursed children;" they had been "bought" of the Lord; but they afterwards "denied the Lord who bought them." All this made their offence inexcusable; they will, therefore, rise to the judgment of the Aion, and to the blackness of the darkness connected with it. But their clerical posterity are not so. These have not known the right way; and therefore cannot be said strictly to "have forsaken it;" they have never become "children of God;" and cannot therefore be styled "cursed children;" neither has the Lord bought them; so that they cannot be said to have denied him as their despotes or, Master. They have entered upon life finding the kosmial arena preoccupied by a Jezebel Institution, now styled "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth." As youths, they are taught by their parents and tutors to call its dogmas and practices christianity; and its organization "Christendom," or the Dominion of Christ! Deceiving and being deceived, their teachers indoctrinate them with theological sentiments which, acting upon Cautiousness, Conscientiousness, Veneration, and Marvellousness, develop a mystical pietism of flesh, which is known by the peculiar tone and grimace, or sanctimoniousness, that invariably accompany it. A youth pietized after this fashion is no longer master of himself. Yielding to the hallucination, and mesmerically controlled by surrounding circumstances and opinions; and being also ambitious of professional rank and status in society; he gets a notion into his head that his pious ambition is a feeling wrought in him by the Spirit of God; and conceits absurdly enough, that it is a call of God, such as Aaron was the subject of, for him to prepare himself for "the ministry!" Having got this crochet into his young brain, he is haunted by it until he gets into the way of "duty," in which he continues until he is enthroned the One Man of a community which recognizes him as the oracular expounder of its creed, a successor of the apostles, and a minister and ambassador of Jesus Christ, at five hundred, two thousand, or more or less, per annum, according to their ability to pay, and the market price his vanity or presumption, or it may be his humility, may place upon himself!!
Here, then, is a poor unfortunate creature indoctrinated, deceived, and ordained the spiritual guide of the blind, by a system he had no hand in creating. It has duped him, and installed him the dupe of others in turn. The system made him a clergyman, priest, or minister; and he, knowing no better, glorifies the system as "the Church," and approved of God! He is a soul merchant. The souls of others are his stock in trade; and he undertakes to take care of them for their owners, so as to leave them leisure to devote themselves to trade, commerce, literature, and politics, provided they will make it worth his while; that is to say, profitable; otherwise, not. This is the true Balaam-principle. He thinks it just. Other men will not work for nothing, and find themselves; why should he? Especially as it is written, "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn;" and "He that preaches the gospel should live of the gospel;" and "If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?" He is very familiar with these texts, which when rightly applied are admirable. But, in quoting them he is somewhat inattentive to the conditions. The ox must tread out the corn before he is entitled to eat of it; the gospel must be preached before a preacher can scripturally claim to live of it; and the things ministered must be those of God's spirit, ere a minister can lay claim to people's carnal things in exchange. Now the treading of the clergy is the treading out of tares and thistles; therefore, tares and thistles should be the food of Balaam's ass: they do not preach the gospel Paul preached, that is certain; neither do they minister the things of the Spirit of God: their claim, therefore, to a piece of bread, or a profitable living in ease and luxury, on the authority of these texts, is only an additional evidence of the imposition they are, perhaps unwittingly, practising on mankind. It is unquestionably just that a man should be paid for his labor. If a community of errorists want a man to preach their creed, and to defend it through thick and thin; if they want him to proselyte other men to it, and to make them feel comfortable about their souls -- they ought to make it profitable, and very profitable too; for in proportion to the desperateness of the enterprise should be the magnitude of its reward. And what enterprise more desperate than cheating souls under pretence of curing them? It is spiritual-assassination and homicide. But, we are charitable enough to think that with many of the clergy it is manslaying without intent to kill. With "the fathers" of the clergy in the first century, this consideration in mitigation of punishment, cannot be indulged. To blackness of the darkness, then, the clergy, ancestors and posterity, are doomed; but as the latter are not apostates from the right way, having never known it; yet are of the apostasy being ignorantly subjected to its authority and power -- we apprehend that, dying in their ignorance, they will reap the corruption of the grave; and there remain among "the dead whom Yahweh remembereth no more" -- "in the land of forgetfulness" "the land of darkness, and the shadow of death; a land of darkness as darkness itself; of the shadow of death without any order, and where the light is as darkness" (Job x. 21; Psal. lxxxviii. 5,12). But, in regard to "the Fathers" of the "Holy Orders," "a sorer punishment" awaits them. "It had been better for them," says Peter, "not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them" (2 Pet. ii. 21). They are therefore obnoxious to a sorer punishment -- a resurrection to judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries (Heb. x. 27,29).
In the twenty-three points already enumerated we have shown the identity of the clergy with the sons of Balaam in the apostles' days; but, in order that the antichristian character of the clerical orders of all sects may be complete, we shall also enumerate the points, the principal ones at least, in which the clergy of our times and the apostles and their co-laborers, are opposed.
1. The apostles preached "the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the Aions to their glory" (1 Cor. ii. 7). The clergy know nothing of this;
2. When the apostles preached they "declared the testimony of God" contained in the writings of Moses and the Prophets; and their own personal testimony to the resurrection of Jesus, together with the revelation of the mystery made known to them by the Spirit (1 Cor. ii. 1; Rom. xvi. 25,26; Eph. iii. 5,9). This is all Sanscrit to the clergy -- they cannot attain to it.
3. The apostles not only showed what was testified in Moses and the Prophets, but they reasoned upon it for its exposition, that the people might understand, and believe it; and they commended them for not taking what they heard for granted; but searching the scriptures daily to see if what they said were true; that their hearers' faith might rest on the written testimony of God (Acts xvii. 2,11,12; 1 Cor. ii. 5). The clergy have no taste for such a procedure: reasoning on things religious is with them a step towards infidelity. The less reasoning the blinder, or more implicit, the faith; and consequently the more passively obedient to clerical dictation and rule. In their system "ignorance is the mother of devotion;" so that in their flocks the most stupid are the most humble and devout.
4. The apostles proclaimed the return of the Lord Jesus to the Holy Land in power, to replant the Twelve Tribes of Israel therein; to unite them into one nation; to re-establish the kingdom and throne of David; having raised the dead, and changed the living, saints, to place them over Israel and the Nations as God's kings and priests to instruct and rule them according to His appointments: to give the world a righteous administration through them; and in a multitude of details, to bless them in Abraham and his Seed, as promised in the Gospel (Luke i. 31-33,52-55,68-75; Matt. xvi. 27: xix. 28: xxv. 31,34; Luke xiv. 14; Acts xvii. 31; xv. 16; Apoc. ii. 26: v. 10: xx. 6). All this is treated as fabulous by the House of Jezebel!
5. The apostles preached "the Gospel of the Kingdom" for the obedience of faith (Acts xx. 24,25; Rom. xvi. 26). They preached the same gospel Jesus proclaimed before his crucifixion (Matt. xxiv. 14) and the same that was preached to Abraham, and his posterity in Egypt and the wilderness (Heb. iii. 17: iv. 2; Exod. vi. 6-8: xxiii. 20-33; Gen. xii. 1-3; Gal. iii. 7,8,9). All this to the clergy is as a story to a deaf man.
6. The apostles taught that "without faith it is impossible to please God" (Heb. xi. 6). This the clergy in works deny, when they give sinners in the gripe of "the King of Terrors," ignorant, and therefore necessarily faithless, of the first principles of the Oracles of God, but professing to be penitent, absolution, and what they term "the consolations of religion;" as if the doctrine of Christ had any consolation for villains whose existence has been a life of crime; and whose only repentance is sorrow at the stoppage of their career by conviction and retribution. By works the clergy deny the indispensability of faith, when they rhantize the face of a babe for the regeneration of its "immortal soul!" Surely if Balaam's ass were here, and a clergyman should bestride it on such a mission, the intelligent creature would break silence again, and with the voice of a man rebuke the madness of the seer!
7. The apostles taught that without resurrection there is no future life (1 Cor. xv. 12-10). The clergy deny this in teaching that souls live in heaven and hell before it, if it ever occur, which some of them deny.
8. The apostles taught, that the obedient to the faith are sanctified by the Abrahamic Covenant dedicated by the offering of the body of Jesus (Heb. x. 9,10). Clerical sanctification knows nothing of this. The clergy profess to be sanctified; but of sanctification in relation to a covenant made nearly 4,000 years ago, and confirmed by the crucifixion, their ignorance and unbelief of the things covenanted, prove that they know nothing.
9. Jesus and the apostles taught, that the inheritance of the Saints is the earth, the world, and all things pertaining to them, with eternal life and glory; and to be possessed in the Day of the Lord Jesus after the resurrection (1 Cor. iii. 21-23; 1 Thess. ii. 12; 1 Pet. v. 10). The clergy teach that the saints' everlasting rest is beyond the skies.
10. The apostles taught men to believe the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ; and thereupon to be immersed in that name for remission of sins; and they did it (Acts viii. 12; ii. 38). But the clergy ignore all this, and say, "Believe and be saved;" and to babes, "Be saved without belief!" Hence, they teach two salvations; the one, salvation by faith; the other, salvation without it! By faith of what? "That Jesus died for you." This, and a penitentiary sorrow, will atone for a life of crime; and swing a soul from the gibbet into supernal and eternal glory!!! Oh Balaam, what wilt thou not teach for hire!
11. The apostles taught that Jesus was of the same flesh as the sons of Adam, having all the faculties and emotions common to them; and that, when he was crucified, sin was condemned "IN" that flesh (Rom. viii. 3; 1 Pet. ii. 24; Heb. ii. 14,16,17). Balaam denies this. He taught in the life-time of the apostles, and maintains it in our day, that the nature called Jesus was not similar to that of Adam after the fall; but like a different flesh, such as they suppose he had before he fell essentially a self-sustaining, incorruptible, and immortal flesh; and that the body born of Mary was not derived from her substance, but the result of a fresh act of creation! This is denying that Christ came in flesh; a clerical heresy which destroys the apostolic doctrine of the condemnation of sin in our flesh; and abolishes Jesus, the crucified, a covering for sin.
12. The apostles taught that death had been cancelled, and immortality, that is, deathlessness, or life and incorruptibility, brought to light by Jesus Christ in the Gospel of the Kingdom -- that the writing of death against the saints had been crossed, or blotted, out; and incorruptibility of body and life for them procured by his resurrection as the earnest of theirs (2 Tim. i. 10). But Balaam and Jezebel ignore this. They teach the philosophy of their heathen forefathers concerning immortality; and by their speech and deeds deny that immortality is for those only who believe the promises of God covenanted to the fathers; and yield obedience to the law of faith. Balaam's clerical posterity are "the children of disobedience," and totally opposed to all such doctrine as this.
13. "The World" is to-day precisely what it was in the days of the apostles. "Woe to the world," saith Jesus, "because of offences!" "The world," he continues, "hates me;" and then says to the apostles, "because ye are not of the world, the world hates you. In the world, therefore, ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." And again he saith, "I pray not for the world."
Their Lord having commanded them to go forth, and preach the Gospel of the Kingdom, left them. They soon after found that the persecution visited upon him came upon them, as he had predicted, saying, "If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you:" so that it became a rule experimentally verified, that wherever and by whomsoever the doctrine of Jesus Christ is believed and advocated, it is opposed, and its faithful adherents are reproached. This was Paul's experience, who says of the apostles, "We are made a spectacle for the world, even to angels and to men. Unto this present hour we hunger and thirst, are naked and bufetted, and have no certain dwelling-place; and labor, working with our own hands; being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed, we entreat; we are made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things unto this day."
Since that day the policy, but not the disposition, of the world, is changed in relation to the truth. This has been prevailed against for a time; even until Christ shall come to punish the world for its iniquity. The world hates the truth and its advocates and friends to this day, as every one who is of the truth knows by experience; and because, "all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father," whose the truth is. Now who does not know, that it is the world in whom the clergy live, and move, and have their daily bread? Is it not the lust of the eyes and the pride of life that build their temples? Is it not the pride of life that rents their pews, and fills them with flowery cones of purple and fine linen? Is it not the lust of itching ears that heaps to themselves pulpit-fabulists, who rebuke sins afar off they have no mind for; and wink at, or can not see, the pious wickedness that festers within their doors? The clergy are paid, and fed, and clothed, and honored by the world. The world invites them to its feasts; makes them priests and chaplains to its fleets and armies, and public institutions; it makes them princes in lawn, and rulers in the state. These are evidences of its love for the clergy; and it has ever been that "the world loves its own;" and they who, like Balaam, love the wages of unrighteousness, it will surfeit with favors and rewards.
It is manifest, then, that the apostles and the clergy, who presumptuously style themselves their "successors," and the "ambassadors of Christ to the world," occupy diametrically opposite relations to that world. The world is the enemy to the apostles and their doctrine; while it is the friend and patron of the clergy. This irrefutable truth is fatal to all their pretensions. "The friendship of the world," says James, "is enmity of God; whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." Therefore, another apostle saith, "Love not the world, neither the things in the world; if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."
But we need not enumerate any more points of discrepancy between the apostles, and their rivals, the clergy. The antithesis is complete. We shall proceed now to make a few remarks upon the name which these sons of Balaam have appropriated to themselves.
They style their "Holy Orders" THE CLERGY. This name is derived from kleros, a lot, portion, or heritage. The Balaamites apply it to themselves, on the assumption that they are the peculiar heritage of God In countries where they are in political alliance with the world-rulers, they refuse to recognize the Balaamites of dissenting communities as "clergy." They regard them simply as "laymen," or men of the people. But in the United States, where the world is in league with all sects, the heterogeneous and discordant elements which fill the pulpits of this Republican Christendom, are all massed together as "the clergy." We certainly cannot congratulate the Lord upon his inheritance, if it be composed of all the popish priests, state-church parsons, and random out-pourers of nonsense, that thump the cushioned desks of the sectarian conventicles of christendom! But we read of no such inheritance, or clergy, of the Lord in the Bible. We there find Moses saying to Israel, "Yahweh hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be unto him people of inheritance as at this day;" and in another place, "The portion of Yahweh is his people; Jacob is the lot (cord, or boundary line) of his inheritance." But never did he say to the clerical leaders of the Gentiles, "Ye are my inheritance," or clergy.
But when He was "wroth with his inheritance," and "the Gentiles came into it," the Balaamite Doctrinaires concluded, as they teach at this day, that he had "cast them off," and substituted the bishops, presbyters, and deacons, of the christian nation in its stead. They regarded themselves as the spiritual Levi, the special treasure of Jehovah, above all others of the body, whom they styled the people. Being Levi's successor, they claimed his perquisites; and as Levi tithed Israel, they undertook to tithe the laity, and to tax them in other ways, persuading them that in giving to the clergy they were lending to the Lord! This imposition grew to such an enormity, that when the church and world became one, the clergy became the territorial lords of some of the finest tracks in Europe. They became a power in all its kingdoms, and by the rulers, were regarded as the pillar of their thrones.
"Yahweh," however, "has not cast off his people; neither will he forsake his inheritance" (Psal. xciv. 14). He has only broken off a dry branch from the Hebrew Cedar Tree. The tree remains, though in a very sapless condition. But is anything too difficult for God? "I will", saith he, "take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon a high mountain and eminent: in the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar: and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell. And all the trees of the field shall know that I, Yahweh, have brought down the high tree (as it was under Solomon and his successors), have exalted the low tree (above the Babylonish desolation), have dried up the green tree (by the Roman power), and have made the dry tree to flourish (when Christ returns in power); I, Yahweh, have spoken and have done" (Ezek. xvii. 22-24). When this is accomplished, there will be a state of things in the East such as has never yet existed there. For, "In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the land; whom Yahweh of armies shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and ISRAEL MINE INHERITANCE." Then "shall Yahweh possess Judah his portion in the Holy Land, and shall choose Jerusalem again" (Isai. xix. 23-25; Zech. ii. 10-12).
The Hebrew Nation, then, re-set and flourishing in the Holy Land, is the clergy, or heritage, of God. It is the kingdom of the heavens, as a grain of mustard seed in its re-setting, which, when grown, is the greatest among kingdoms, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air (the political aerial), come to lodge in the branches thereof (Matt. xiii. 31). Of this kingdom, all who are Abraham's Seed by being Christ's, are joint-heirs with him. They are invited to become heirs of this kingdom through the gospel; and being heirs, that which makes them heirs, also makes them Israelites by adoption, and by consequence, a part of the nation itself. During the times of the Balaamized Gentiles, the Hebrew Cedar is a dry tree; and the inheritance of Yahweh is not the cedar in its dry state, but when it returns to a flourishing condition. He is, however, not without an inheritance in all these times. "The portion of Yahweh is" still "his people;" and this people is to be found in Jacob, which is the lot, or cord, of his inheritance. That is, He has no clergy in the times of the Gentiles, who are not Jews by adoption, through obedience to the law of faith. These are "the Israel of God" for the time current. All who do what Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews, commands them, become his friends, and Yahweh's people. This we have seen the sons of Balaam, who style themselves "clergy," and pretend to be specially appointed of God for his service, do not do. They are not his people consequently; and instead of being Jews, they are for the most part their enemies, and where they have political power, their oppressors.
But, what saith the scripture? Paul in writing to certain in Thessalonica who, before they had obeyed the gospel, were idolaters, says, "God has called you to his kingdom and glory." Now to these, "the called," some of whom were walking unworthy of their call, the apostle James says, "Hearken, my beloved brethren, hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and Heirs of the Kingdom which he promised to them who love him? But ye have despised the poor." To these poor expectant heirs of the Hebrew kingdom, another apostolic Jew addresses himself, saying, "Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, A HOLY NATION, a people by purchase; who in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God." These are the words of Peter to men who had put off their Gentilism; and had become Israelites by adoption through Jesus Christ. They were all the people of God, and therefore his inheritance, or clergy. In writing to these he says, "The elders which are among you, I exhort." These were not clergy as distinguished from the people or laity. For he exhorts these elders to "feed the flock of God with them, watching over it, not necessitously, but freely; not for filthy lucre, but liberally; neither ruling imperiously over the heritages, but becoming examples of the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away." Thus, the christian people at large were "the flock of God;" and in their local societies, or ecclesias, "the heritages." The elders were a part of these, and not an order distinct from them. They did not shift about from one heritage to another, because they could get more tithes, a larger salary, or more abundant donation-party contributions, there than here. To have done this would have been to episcopize necessitously, or for filthy lucre, which Peter exhorted them not to do. No; although "of the poor of this world," they episcopized, or watched over, the flock of God in its several sheep-folds, "freely" or "liberally," that is, without any stipulated fee or reward. What they received leaped out of the purses of brethren, whose inner man was imbued with the truth, and whose hearts overflowed with gratitude to their elder-brethren for their kind and gratuitous vigilance in those times of tribulation and peril. There was no extorting of "church rates" from infidels and churls; or selling of pews by auction, or letting of scats, to non-professors or the faithful, to pay the hire of episcopals or presbyters. The people of God's flock would have scorned such extortion and meanness. Thus, in writing to a heritage, which he styles "a chosen lady and her children," concerning brethren of other lady-heritages who circulated about spreading abroad the truth, John says, "Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever may have been done for the brethren and for the strangers; who have testified of thee for love before an ecclesia whom having sent forward worthy of God, thou wilt do well. Because for the sake of the Name they have gone forth receiving nothing from the Gentiles. We ought therefore to welcome such that we may become co-laborers for the truth" (3 John 5-8). By this simple means the doctrine of Christ was diffused among the heathen; and the faith and love of the heritages were individually, collectively, and personally displayed. But when men arose from among these elder-brethren, "speaking perverse things to draw away the disciples after them," and whom Paul styles "grievous wolves," a transition period arrived in which "the simplicity that is in Christ" was corrupted, and the heritages turned into mistresses for the Sons of Balaam. Beguiled by them, as the Serpent through his subtilty beguiled Eve (2 Cor. xi. 3), they fell from their first estate, and played the harlot against the Lord; as abundantly appears from the letters of the Spirit to the Seven Lightstands of Asia; whose condition was representative of the apostasy, which was at that time establishing itself in all the heritages of the Lord. By A.D. 312, the desolation was complete. They who loved the wages of unrighteousness had gained the ascendancy. The disciples were Nicolaitanized, or conquered, by Balaam and Jezebel. A clergy, or heritage, had arisen, which became the inheritance of the Roman Emperors, and their successor the Image of the Beast, and the False Prophet, not Mohammedan, but Antichristian, in all the "Holy Orders." The clergy of God now are the clericles, or heritages of God, whose faith and practice can be proved to be identical with those of his flock in apostolic times; and which have no other clergy, or heritage, than God; and which repudiate the clergy of christendom in all its diversity of popes, cardinals, bishops, priests, parsons, deans, ministers, pastors, evangelists, apostles, prophets, angels, and deacons, as the unscriptural and antichristian orders of the Kingdom of Sin.
The Balaamites in Pergamos, as well as the Nikolaitans, were the exceptions in the Antipas ecclesia, not the rule; for then it would have ceased to be "the faithful witness" there. But few as they might be, they were an evil leaven, which might work the corruption of the whole body. They sowed to the flesh in "forbidding to marry," and therefore ordaining fornication. In this particular they became the fathers of the catholic priests, who are forbidden, and forbid to marry, and yet have more children than the married. The Spirit exhorted them to heartily change their views; to repent, or abandon the teaching of the Balaamites and Nikolaitans, the covetous and vicious perverters of the gospel of the kingdom and name, and corrupters of the right ways of the Lord; who were extensively and actively working in all the regions of the habitable where the gospel had been proclaimed.
Now these things were not written solely for the sake of the Antipas in Pergamos; but for all faithful witnesses in other times and places. Therefore the Spirit says, "He that hath an ear, let him hearken to what the Spirit saith unto the ecclesias." What he saith to the seven, he saith to all his servants to whom the apocalypse is addressed; and for whose especial benefit it was communicated to John. They are in an evil world, whose principles are subversive of the truth; consequently, their position in it is belligerent, and their destiny the reward of victory. Therefore the Spirit says, "to the victor, to him will I give to eat from the Manna which has been concealed; and I will give to him a white pebble, and upon the pebble a new name that has been engraved, which no one knows but he that receiveth." The manna, the pebble, and the new name, are here added to the wood of life in Paradise. They are symbols of blessings; or blessings disguised in symbols. Let us, then, examine them, and see what honey they contain. And first of the Hidden Manna.