We need not be discouraged because of the stolid indifference of the people to the Truth. Flesh and blood is naturally swin­ish and unimpressible by the thoughts of God. The world, which is choked with religion, such as it is, is made of this stiff-necked material. It is in the state of an inebriate who has caroused himself into delirium tremens, or a snoring apoplexy. To preach the Truth to it is like telling fables to a deaf man; putting a jewel in a swine’s snout; or casting things holy to dogs. This is the nature of the flesh and blood world – it is only evil, and that continually. But all the individuals of this perverse race are not so absolutely controlled by the evil thereof as to be incapable of sobriety in word and deed. The race has some “honest, and good hearts” yet, which are as salt, preserving it from total and irretrievable corruption. They require, however, to be salted with wisdom, and persecution, or fire, for the Truth’s sake, to make them fit for the Master’s use (Mark 9:49–50; Col 4:6). It is for the salting of these hearts that those who are already salted have to labour with a right good will. They must “contend ear­nestly for the faith once delivered to the saints,” with the conviction all the time, that a Paul may plant, and an Apollos water, but God only gives the increase. All we have to do is to dig, plow, sow, work, as men do who leave it to the sun by day and moon by night, and to the air, earth, and rain, to give the increase from that begotten in the soil. We, as day labourers, need not be discouraged if we do our duty, be there increase or not. All that we have to do in the premises is that we be “workmen who rightly divide the word of truth,” (2 Tim 2:15), and not as those who handle the word of God deceitfully.

The word, where properly put into the right kind of soil, will yield just such an increase as God has predetermined. He has sent it as the rain and snow of heaven for the fructification of the earth that sowers, and reapers, and eaters, may all rejoice together at harvest-home. What hath He pleased, and what hath He sent His word to do? “To take out of [the Gentiles] a people for his name” (Acts 15:14). He is going to set up a kingdom which is to rule over all the earth and sea; and requires a people sufficiently numerous to administer its affairs to His praise, honour, and glory. This being His purpose, He does not need as great a multitude as is generally supposed when men entangle themselves in specu­lations about the number of the saved. “Many are called,” says the King, “but few are chosen”; “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it”; “many […] will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Mat 22:14; 7:14; Luke 13:23). Those are not our words; but they are his, who spoke the words of God.

Yahweh then requires a chosen few for His kingdom – “a chosen generation,” “from the be­ginning chosen [of God] to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth,” called thereunto by Paul’s gospel “unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ,” “to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 2:9; 2 Thess 2:13–14; 1 Pet 1:2). John saw this company, this “little flock,” as Jesus styles them in Luke 12:32, to whom the Father will give the kingdom; John, we say, saw them in military panoply and array, surrounding their Generalissimo in his wars upon the kings of the earth; and he says they were “called, and chosen, and faithful” (Rev 17:14).

But though relatively few, they are absolutely “a great multitude, which no man could number” (Rev 7:9). They are few compared with all the human race that ever fretted and stewed out their brief existence on the earth. A few taken out of each of the generations of the Old Man of the flesh: a few out of Enoch’s generation, and a few out of Noah’s, and a few out of Moses’, and so on; until these parcels of the few, separated from the solid mass during 6000 years, being gathered into one glorious company of Ancients, become absolutely a great multitude, and numerous enough to establish the will of God upon earth, and to cause it to be for a thousand years.

The Father hath given this company of the redeemed ones to the Son for his brethren and associates in all his future enterprises upon earth. “They follow the Lamb,” saith John, “whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb” (Rev 14:4). “All that the Father giveth me,” says Jesus, “shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out … And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” And again, “No man can come to me, ex­cept the Father which hath sent me draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they [who attain to the resurrection he was speaking of] shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me” (John 6:37,39,44–45). “He that is of God heareth God’s words; ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God” (John 8:47). And again, he saith to these goats, “Ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them the life of the Aion and they shall not be destroyed in the Aion, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:26–28).

Men have been commanded to preach the word; to be instant in season and out of season, to contend earnestly for the faith, and so forth, as the means ap­pointed for the separation of this people. Testimony and reasoning, or Scripture and reasoning out of the Scripture are the spiritual elements constituting the spiritual agency for their “sanctification of the Spirit.” This spiritual agency is just adequate to the numerical completion of this people, termed “the fullness of the Gentiles” in Romans 11:25 and no more. It is adequate to the accomplishment of this, for this result is that for which the word was given; and Yahweh saith it shall accomplish it. It is not adequate to the conversion of all the world. This is a result never contemplated in the premises.

If God had designed the conversion of nations as such in the absence of His Son from the earth, He would have instituted a system of means ad­equate to such a result. The Spiritual Agency was more potent in the days of the Apostles in that it consisted not only of a declaration of the tes­timony, and reasoning out of its points, but a confirmation also of the reasoning by signs, wonders, mira­cles, and gifts. Here were God and man visibly co-working in the separation of this people for His name. Yet with this more po­tent spiritual agency the world could not be converted; nay, a multitude even of those who were primarily turned to God turned from Him again; and that too while the apostles lived, and while the gifts of the Holy Spirit continued to be bestowed. The gifts were discontinued for two reasons: first, because they had answered the purpose for which they were originally given; and secondly, because through the work­ing of the Mystery of Iniquity, Christians proved themselves unworthy of the glorious indwelling of the Holy Spirit in their midst. The testimony was confirmed; but the confirmation of the reasoning has been withdrawn, and the Spiritual Agency for the completion of the work begun at the house of Cornelius, reduced to what we see.

Now the nearer we approach to the apocalypse of Jesus, the less influence will the word be found to exercise over the mind of the general public. We ought not to be discouraged at the fact. The time is fast approaching for the Gentile Branch to be broken off; and for Israel to be grafted in. The branches of Israel and Judah were broken off because of unbelief – because they did not fear the name of Yahweh their Elohim – the Yahweh-Spirit manifested through David’s Son – nor believe the gospel of the kingdom preached in His name. For this cause the brotherhood of Israel and Judah was broken by the Roman power; and a day of grace granted to the Gentiles. But these have proved as faithless of the Truth as Israel.

Shall we be discouraged at this? Nay, verily. It is a great sign of our times indicating that the Lord is certainly at the door.