BUSINESS OFFICE: NO. 40 FEDERAL ST. ALLEGHENY, PA.
The Editor recognizes a responsibility to the Master, relative to what shall appear in these columns, which he cannot and does not cast aside; yet he should not be understood as endorsing every expression of correspondents, or of articles selected from other periodicals.
This paper will be sent free to any of the Lord's poor who will send a card yearly requesting it. Freely we have received and freely we would give the truth. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat – yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." And you that have it – "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently – and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness." – ISAIAH 55:1,2.
To those who celebrate the Lord's Memorial Supper in the various places, we suggest a careful study of the article – "The Lord's Supper" – in our last issue, and also the "View from the Tower," in our issue of April, 1885. May the Lord be with you each, and comfort and strengthen your hearts for something still to do or bear, before the conflict ends.
What is true of the smaller gatherings (Heb. 10:25) is still more important in regard to the more general gathering which will take place here in Allegheny, on the 18th inst. and onward. All who can come should make special effort to be here – "So much the more as ye see the DAY drawing on." Come, to do good and to encourage others, as well as to get good and be strengthened yourself. Some have inquired whether there will be an opportunity during the meeting, for them to symbolize their Baptism. Yes, we answer; a very favorable opportunity.
We have now issued several numbers of our German edition, composed in the main of translations from the English edition, by Bro. Von Zech. We want to get it into the hands of all the truth-seeking Germans possible. You can thus help in "bearing up" and "washing" and making "ready" the members of the body among these. Will you do it? Order all the sample copies you can use judiciously – Free. Those who are canvassing with sample packets of "Food" and TOWER should have samples of the German with them for such.
Slowly and surely the morning dawns; slowly and surely the present kingdoms and powers of this world will crumble and fall before the heavenly King and kingdom. Slowly and surely the "strong man" is bound in his own house by the stronger one now present – "as a thief" – unobserved; and his house is being broken up. – Matt. 24:43.
In the midst of the confusion of strikes and riots here and abroad during the past month, it is interesting to note the view of the situation taken by some of the leading secular journals. For though the religious press is most timid and slowest to see and recognize present truth in any form, and while some of the secular papers pander to the prejudices of one class or the other, there are some which take a very correct and liberal view of both sides. We perhaps cannot do better than give extracts from some of these. One says: –
"There are in this country about seven and a half million persons employed as tillers of the soil; more than three and a half million mechanics, and nearly two million others occupied in trade and commerce, together making a total of over thirteen million people engaged in productive industry. Then we have a few more than four million professional men and others connected with the professions. Now what if this thirteen millions of industrial population should nearly all become so intelligent and reasonable as to conclude to cooperate for the welfare of the whole body, instead of pursuing their animal instincts as they now do, and acting upon the principle that every man shall get all he can of every other man, and keep all he gets. Would it not be a glad and glorious day for this struggling world of ours?
"We are among the increasingly large number of enthusiastic people who believe the day is coming and will soon be ushered in when humanity shall co-operate for the general good of all, and that the grab system of the past, still in practice, shall gradually give place to a state of society the chief purpose of which will be to really protect the weakest as well as the strongest member from all harm, and when human nature will have far less of the animal and much more of the intellectual in it than is now manifested.
"Rich men are becoming interested in the condition and welfare of the multitudes of the poor who are trying, in their way, as best they can, to climb up to and live upon higher ground. They are getting tired of the life-struggle necessary to get and to keep an amount of wealth wholly out of proportion to the possible needs of the most extravagant desires, simply for the vulgar purpose of gratifying their vanity, or pride, or lust, or power. The number of wealthy men who realize that getting money merely for the sake of the money, and then standing guard over it all their lives, is about as mean, debasing and slavish an occupation as an intelligent human being can be engaged in for the twenty or thirty years of active business life that is possible, is increasing. Such men are looking about them and honestly trying to find what is best to be done to help their fellow-men. And they are succeeding very well indeed, and doing a great deal.
"Another evidence of the fact that brains are in bloom is found in the position occupied by the great body of wage workers organized and organizing at this time, and in the manner in which they proceed to secure what they conceive to be their rights. They meet with their employers through delegates representing them, and clothed with necessary power to act as shall seem best for the interests of the whole body whose representatives they are. They are the intellectual equals of those with whom they confer, and in all respects are competent to deal with the questions at issue. The day is past in this country when wage workers, as a class, go before wage payers as suppliants seeking the dispensation of favors at the hands of the employers. They meet and confer on equal terms. It is the day of decency on both sides, the exercise of reason, and the pursuit of justice. Failures will occur, and wrongs on both sides will be done, but the principle is established and in the end it will work out the peaceable fruits of righteousness."
Much of the above is very true, but on the whole the picture presented is not truthful – it is too roseate, too bright entirely. It is true that some of the wealthy earnestly desire the elevation of their less fortunate fellow creatures, and it is true that many of the wage-workers are now using their brains for their social and financial advancement; but it is equally true, that selfishness on the part of the masses of both these classes will conflict with and upset the best laid plans for the common welfare and peace. Hence it will yet be found in the end, as the Scriptures have foretold, that the Golden age of blessing – the Millennial age will be ushered in not smoothly, and quietly, by arbitration and without strife, but by "a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation." A "day of wrath," a "day of vengeance," a day of "distress," ushers in the glorious day of peace and righteousness – the day for which we have so longed, and prayed "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
The trouble will come, because each class will feel that it has rights which the other selfishly refuses in full measure to recognize. The striking spirit, begotten of real as well as fancied and unreal wrongs and rights, begotten in turn of an increase of intelligence ignorantly presumes that it grasps the entire situation, and can fully and quickly remedy the evils. Only time will demonstrate to these the truth from the error, on this subject, and the utter impossibility of imperfect, depraved men forming a perfect order of government – the impossibility of any class of selfish men ruling their fellow-men unselfishly.
Men are beginning to see that Love and Justice must rule the world hand in hand, ere full blessings can come to all; but they will not learn until by bitter experience in this struggle already commenced, that the law and rule they desire is not to come from depraved humanity, but from the establishment of the kingdom of heaven, when God's will shall be done on earth as in heaven."
Nevertheless these throes of anguish which pass over the world by spells, these efforts which grow more severe each time – "as travail upon a woman" – are the very means by which God's Word declares He intends to lead mankind into the desired blessings; proving to them the necessity for and advantage of his kingdom, and overthrowing the powers which for so long he has permitted, to do the best they could at governing, but whose grandest efforts are now proving failures.
That the world is beginning in some measure to see that we are in the great day of the Lord's presence, and that they see him coming in the trouble clouds which each year become more dense, is evident from much that is being written at the present time, of which the two extracts below are samples. We cannot doubt that the Scriptural views of this question, and of the hopes beyond the struggle, advanced through the TOWER and its ten thousand readers – scattered in every nook and corner of civilization, has had something to do with the clearness of views expressed by the writers of these extracts, who are unknown to us.
"There is no issue before the American people so insistent for solution as the relation between labor and capital. Daily it becomes more evident that we will have to rearrange the methods which have done very well and very ill for a number of centuries, as long as the power lay upon one side and the weakness upon the other. The times are changing, and we must change with them. Out of this ruinous and suicidal conflict between the workers and the corporations we must come, at the end, to a settlement which will recognize the altered industrial condition of the people. We are drifting away from feudalism socially as surely as politically. Our progress has not stopped. 'The stream of tendency whereby all things make for righteousness' seems to be now hurrying us to utter ruin. But this is a seeming, not a reality. Out of this ebullient cauldron will be crystallized sooner or later a compromise that will stand as long as it is worthy, and will dissolve away again, as our present system is dissolving, when it becomes unworthy. The pity of it is that we can only reach peace through a bitter and disastrous struggle, of which the present strike is simply an affair of outposts – a skirmish in the dark. Upon the one side is ranged class prejudice, vested rights, and the money of the land. Over against these stand arrayed a multitude, but dimly awake to the possibilities of its power, an army outnumbering the hordes that followed the Asiatic conquerors. An Armageddon is to be fought, fraught with ruin to both victors and vanquished."
Ah, yes! the stream of tendency would long since have wrecked the poor frail bark of human government, [R842 : page 2] had not God himself been holding the supervision of all, and saying to the fierce passions and ambitions of Alexanders, Napoleons and Caesars, Thus far, and no further! And now, thank God, we see that though the present civilization is to go to complete wreck, it will not occur until she has struck upon the shores of the everlasting kingdom of Him "whose right it is" (Ezek. 21:27), and where, no more subject to the tossings of selfishness and ambition, all the families of the earth shall be blessed under the rule of the Prince [R843 : page 2] of Peace.
"When the condition of all enlightened nations is looked into, and the widening antagonisms waged in them brought to view, it looks as if modern civilization were nearing its crisis. The very structure of human society is not only boldly and rudely challenged, but menaced with dislocation. Agencies, forces and interests that have slumbered side by side for ages have waked up to find themselves enemies, and other agencies, forces and interests that have been working together heretofore in a mutually advantageous co-operation, now find themselves precipitated against one another in mortal conflict. That the old dispute between religion and science should have broken out afresh and be waged with desperate vehemence and spirit is not surprising perhaps, in an age remarkable for bounding intellectual vigor, research and unsparing criticism; but this is only one phase of a warfare that pervades every department of life. Labor against capital and capital against labor; combinations of producers against consumers and counter combinations of consumers against producers; pooled railroads against shippers and shippers against the railroads; proletarianism against property; anarchism against public order – these are the conspicuous phases of a world-wide strife which extends to the smaller matters of life and breaks out in quarrels about what we shall, and what we shall not eat and drink; quarrels over ritual worship, hostility to the public schools, butchers' leagues against the transportation of dressed meat, and leagues of small dealers in specialties against the great bazaars that are breaking down their business.
Society is organizing itself into combinations and fraternities for offence and defence, and fealty to these has grown into a sentiment before which patriotism, friendship and even religion are beginning to bend. We see no revolutions and insurrections – and it is probable that these will be avoided – for new agencies less violent and quite as effective have been discovered. Numbers combine against an individual or corporation, and by means of a boycott, deliberately resolved on and pitilessly and persistently enforced, reduce the victim to submission. The formidable tendency towards an oppressive centralization is desperately resisted by organized and artificial efforts in behalf of disintegration – and so it comes about that society is confronted with problems which its own constitution and experience furnish no solution for, and before which rulers, cabinet ministers, statesmen and economists confess their helplessness.
It is not possible at present to foretell what this strife will result in. Its universal prevalence is a symptom that society is not satisfied with itself, and modern civilization, so productive of human triumphs over the forces of nature, is still attended with conditions profoundly unsatisfying."
Only from our stand point can the sunshine on the other side the darkness, be clearly seen. Only from the stand point which recognizes the Lord's presence, – that we are now in The Day of the Lord – is there ground for rejoicing. Lift up your heads ye saints of the Lord, for your redemption draweth nigh; the sufferings of Christ are nearly ended, the glory soon shall follow. Then "the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it" and be blessed under it.
I am a member of the Presbyterian church, and have been for quite a number of years, but have never been satisfied with my profession of faith, and never could understand the Bible until a friend gave me a copy of "Food for Thinking Christians," which has given me a thirst for the Scriptures. I have read a few copies of ZION'S WATCH TOWER, and think I am on the right path. God grant to show me his way and make his path plain. If you have back numbers of paper for this year, please date my subscription from January.
Yours, longing for truth,
Some told me that if the series did no other good, it at least softened the attitude of the fiery dogmatic Free Methodists, who expect to run away with all that dare try conclusions with them. At the meeting yesterday they showed, as a result of my answers to their questions at the stand and in the papers, that they were better disposed and had "changed their minds," both as to methods and as to denying all except tradition. At first they knew everything. The congregation increased, and many expressed regret that the lectures closed. The last lectures were received with great warmth and expressions of benefits received. I stay till to-morrow to have conversations with parties to-day. You see work is plenty for the willing. Surely I begin to see why the Lord sent me this way. Mrs. A. joins in kind remembrance, sympathy, and prayers for all saints, but especially for you, dear Bro. and Sister Russell.
DEAR SIR: – It is with heartfelt gratitude that I reply to your letter, which I received this week, and I trust that I clearly understand all that you have so plainly set before me. I see that what I thought was "light" before was not the "true light." It seems at last what I have been seeking ever since I was twenty years old; and truly I have not known one hour of real rest of mind all these ten years, and I cannot but sincerely regret so much time in a sense wasted. It is exactly as you put it – I believed that if I trusted in Jesus I should be saved, and would doubtless be given a sense of my "acceptance in him." Now I see it to be true that he died for all, therefore, of course, for me, and the difficulty of believing is gone. The difference of this way is almost inexpressible in the relief of mind it gives to receive it, after being so long harassed by the other. It is indeed "good tidings of great joy," and I wish I had more ability to help to spread it. I was very much astonished to find that you thought I could be one of the "overcomers" of this age; it did not appear to me that there could be any possibility of it. I do not think I have had much desire to live to the "flesh" for some time, but still I have not understood what the life of consecration meant. I am learning much from the WATCH TOWER teachings. I have read with great interest the articles marked in one sent, of February. It all seems clearly scriptural, for I can see it plainly enough in the Bible now. I used to be almost afraid to read some parts of the Bible, for they appeared to contradict one another, but always thought the fault lay with myself – from a wrong state of heart. I have but one friend who receives the WATCH TOWER views, and he thinks I have gone too far. The articles on the "Mediator," in the October number, feasted me for some time; and another one, too, in the February, '85, TOWER: "Except a corn of wheat die." I know that I do appreciate God's goodness, and am able to love him now as I never could before, but did not think that I was a special recipient of his favor, and can scarcely realize the precious truth. I have no one with whom I can speak on these subjects, and therefore my WATCH TOWERS are so eagerly looked for.
I remain most faithfully yours,
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: Your letter and sample copies of the TOWER, etc., came to hand in due time. I have been hindered from doing much harvest work by sickness in my family until about three weeks ago, when I commenced trying the plan for harvest work in this community, and it is working exceedingly well among the Methodists and Missionary Baptists here. The members of the churches come in crowds to my school-house appointments and many of them are manifesting great interest in the "good news." They say that their preachers, some of whom are saying this doctrine is dangerous and false, must prove it so by the Bible or they are done with them and their doctrines. Some of the preachers promise to meet me and prove this doctrine false, but when the time comes they are absent. I am now called upon to make more appointments than I can fill under my present circumstances, but I will do all I can. I have appointments for each week to which I walk, one of which is twenty miles, another ten miles from home. Three brethren and four sisters have come out of the F.W.B. Church from whence I came, and are trying to run for the prize, thank the Lord. We now realize that the "harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few." May the Lord send forth more laborers into his harvest is my prayer.
Hoping to hear from you soon, I remain yours in fellowship and service.
BRO. RUSSELL: I am much pleased with your work and publications. Please continue to send your paper. I love its doctrines and spirit. Am in full sympathy with your plan of labor. I am an itinerant minister, but expect to be free from such bands soon. Your brother in the labor and love of Jesus.
DEAR SIR: Will you kindly forward the ZION'S WATCH TOWER. I had an opportunity to glance through the number for January, and there saw your notice, and so I decided to write for them. There are several things in the number for January that I should like to go through very carefully. Through reading one of your papers I was led to look at one or two verses, where the coming of Christ is spoken of, and found that it really meant that he is present. I have been long ago tired of sectarianism, and am now speaking out the word of life without regard to sect, leaving it with God to supply my needs.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: Inclosed please find my subscription for 1886, and also addresses inclosed. I have not had a chance to do much work in the vineyard of late, as I am working on board a tugboat. The Lord has given me the two men – two brothers – I am working with. They are Italians by birth, and are very earnestly interested in the glad tidings, although raised in the Church of Rome; it is to their address the WATCH TOWER is ordered. May the Lord of the harvest continually guide and direct you, is my prayer.
DEAR SIR: – I have distributed the pamphlets you sent, as I thought to the best advantage, and I can already see good fruit. The people are reading, some sitting up nearly all night; they say they cannot stop after commencing to read "Food." In this neighborhood we have had all kinds of preaching, but about five years ago there seemed to come a change over the minds of the people in this locality, providentially it seemed. We went to reading the Bible for ourselves, and the result is, some of them are Universalists, some are Infidels. The fact is they are like sheep without a shepherd; but the WATCH TOWER comes to them as the Shepherd of the little flock did in Christ's day. We are beginning to see eye to eye as it was foretold by the prophets, and to have greater love for one another, and greater love to God, and faith in the Scriptures. The inconsistencies of the modern Christian theories are all laid bare now, as we see that God has a plan and a due time for all things. Yours very truly, in great faith.
DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD: – It is with pleasure I write you so soon again. It is encouraging to know that among the lowly houses there are ears to hear. Enclosed please find address for a new subscriber for the Z.W.T. for a year.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – The tracts which you sent me are drawing out such an amount of thought that I would like to canvass this place and adjoining towns. Please send me some more copies. I think I can make good use of them. At present I am giving only a part of my time. But I want to increase the time as interest increases. I have been trying for a week to take up the other copies to redistribute, but they will not give them up. So my canvass must be short with so few copies. Yours in hope of a better resurrection.
How lovely are the lilies which grow in the water! They never pine with thirst; for their root is in the stream, their leaves float upon it, and their flowers peep forth from it. They are fit emblems of those believers who dwell in God, who are not occasional seekers of divine fellowship, but abide in Christ Jesus. Their roots are by the rivers of water, and therefore their leaf shall not wither. A Christian minister once said to an aged Christian, "I pray the Lord often to visit you in his love." "Visit me!" cried the beloved saint. "Why say visit me? He lives here. Jesus dwells in me." To that abiding fellowship, we ought each one of us attain. "Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, they will still be praising thee." This is going to heaven in a Pullman car, riding luxuriously as well as traveling swiftly. In this style of religion there are no doubts and fears; abundant grace drowns all mistrust. A little grace will save, but it will not make us sure of our safety. The fulness of the blessing can alone secure us the joy of it.
The longer I live, the more sure do I become that our happiness in life, our comfort in trouble, and strength for service, all depend upon our living near to God, nay, dwelling in God, as the lilies in the water. To grow on the banks of the river of the water of life is good, but to grow in the stream is far better. God's lilies need to be in him who is their life. With all the earnestness of my soul, I would entreat all whom I love to cultivate continual communion with the Lord. It may require great watchfulness, but it will well repay the believer for all his care. This river hath golden sands. Fellowship with God is a land which floweth with milk and honey. I would rather spend an hour in the presence of the Lord than a century in prosperity without him. There are secrets of unknown delight, which can never be known to us till we rise above the outward and worldly, and come into the life of God, which is the life of heaven. By faith this is to be enjoyed even now. The faith which brought us life at the first, is the same by which we attain to life more abundantly.– C. H. Spurgeon.
In the gray twilight of a dreary morn,
A prisoner stood, defenceless and forlorn,
While, to a Roman judge, with boisterous breath,
His fierce accusers clamored for His death.
It was the Christ, rejected and abused;
The King of kings, his sovereign claim refused;
The Son of God, abandoned and betrayed,
An outcast, in the world which he had made.
It was his chosen people whose demand
That timid judge was powerless to withstand;
And, while their baseless charges he denied,
He gave their victim to be crucified.
His chosen people! those he loved and blest;
Whose little ones he folded to his breast;
Who cried more fiercely, as unmoved he stood,
"On us, and on our children, be his blood!"
Oh, Holy Savior! may thy grace reverse
The dreadful import of that reckless curse;
And, on their children, thy atonement prove
"The blood of sprinkling," through Redeeming Love!
In Eastern countries, where sandals were worn, and the feet thus exposed to the sand and dust, feet-washing was a regular custom, and an actual necessity. This service was considered very menial, and the humblest servants or slaves performed it for the family and guests.
Jesus had noticed among his disciples a spirit of selfishness; he had overheard them disputing which of them should be greatest in authority and dignity in the kingdom he had promised to share with them. He had rebuked this spirit, which he foresaw would injure them in proportion as it grew and strengthened. So indeed it did in the fourth to the sixth centuries, blossom and yield bitter fruit in the organization of Papacy, and the train of evils and errors which still flow from that impure fountain. He had taken a little child and set him in the midst of the disciples, and said, Except ye become (artless and simple) as a little child, you are not fit for the kingdom for which I am calling you. He had said, Ye know how the Gentiles lord it over one another, and recognize caste and station, but it must not be so with you. Ye have but one Master, and all ye are brethren; and he that would [R844 : page 3] be chief, let him become chief servant (Mark 10:42). They who serve you most, you must mark as your chief ones. I am the chief servant myself, for the Son of man came not to be served by others, and honored thus, but he came to serve others, even to the extent of giving his life in their service. As therefore my greatest service towards you renders me your chief, so shall it be among you. Esteem and honor one another in proportion as you find in each other unselfish sacrificing love and service. Esteem such very highly for their service sake. 1 Thes. 5:13.
But for all this, the spirit of pride and a desire to "lord it" over others, and be reverenced as chief, was there, even after three years and a half spent with the Master, and under his example; and as he was about to leave them, Jesus sought, even on the last evening with them, to impress this lesson indelibly upon their hearts. So after the Passover supper was over, he arose from the table and performed for his disciples the most menial service, in washing their feet. They probably had not even thought of performing such a service for each other or for Him, and even had consideration enough to object to his thus serving them in so humble a manner.
When Jesus had finished, he said to them, "Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord, and ye say well; for so I am: If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither is he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." If you understand and appreciate the lesson I have given you, and will practice it, you will be blessed thereby and helped in my service, and prepared for the kingdom in which I have promised you a share. – John 13:4-17.
That the lesson had its designed effect we can scarcely doubt, as we look at the course of several of the Apostles, and see how, with much self-denial, they served the body of Christ, of which they were fellow-members, following the example of the Head, who was chief servant of all.
The question arises, What did the Lord mean when he said, "I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done"? – was the example in the principle, and lesson of service one toward another? or was the example in the method of service, in the ceremony of feet washing? To suppose the latter would be to hide the real lesson under a form. And if the example was in the form, then every item of the form should be observed: an upper room – a supper – sandals should be worn – the same kind of garments – the towel girdle, etc. But no; the "example" which we should follow lay in the humble serving of the disciples by the Master, regardless of form. His example of serving the fellow-members in even the most menial manner, is what we should follow – and blessed will we be, in proportion as we do follow it. In that proportion we shall be prepared for the everlasting kingdom and service of God.
Those now living in Eastern countries where sandals are still worn, may find an opportunity now to follow the example in other forms, as well as in the same form which the Master used; and those differently circumstanced may follow the "example" in a thousand forms. Some of the fellow-disciples probably live in your city and in mine. How can we serve them? How can we refresh them? How can we show them our love and sympathy according to the Lord's "example"? Not in this climate by washing their feet – this would be an inconvenience the very reverse of a pleasure, and a service to them, and therefore contrary to the "example." But we can serve the "body" otherwise, and truly follow the example. We can improve our various opportunities to serve them in matters temporal as well as spiritual. We can be on the lookout, and when we see sadness or discouragement, we can lend a helping hand to lift our brother's burdens, or our sister's sorrows, and we can let them see by deeds, as well as words, our anxiety to serve them – figuratively speaking, to wash their feet.
Don't wait until they ask you to assist; for in proportion as they are developed disciples, they will not beg your aid. Do not wait until they tell you of their burdens and trials, but watch to anticipate; for in proportion as they partake of the Master's spirit, they will not be complainers, but will live "always rejoicing" – rejoicing in tribulation even.
Be not ashamed of but seek and rejoice in such service of the "body" – "ye do serve the Lord, Christ." But still more important than temporal service, is our service one of another as new creatures. The washing of the body with the truth – the sanctifying and cleansing of it with the word, is in progress now. (Eph. 5:26,27.) What are you doing to cleanse and purify the faith and lives of your fellow members? Do you approach them humbly with the truth, sincerely anxious to serve them, to bless and comfort and refresh them therewith? If so, go on; grand is your service; the Master served thus; this is his example; follow on. The more you can thus serve, and at the greater cost of time, and effort, and convenience, and self-denial, the greater you will be in the eyes of the Master, the more honored and beloved of the body when they shall come to see and know you, as the Lord sees and knows your love and its service.
Follow on then the noble "example" of Jesus; wash and be washed one of another, cleanse and purge away the defilements with which each comes in contact in the world daily, that ye may be clean "through the word spoken unto you." Purge out the old leaven of hypocrisy, and envy, and self-exaltation, even as ye have already been justified from all things and reckoned pure and holy by the merit of the precious blood which the chief servant and Lord of all gave for all.
"Judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block, or an occasion to fall, in his brother's way." – Rom. 14:13.
"He shall give his angels [messengers, servants] charge over thee; they shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." – Psa. 91:11,12.
Every gathering of the saints, even of two or three, is an assembling of the members of the body of Christ, and the various members are represented. So also the entire number of saints in the world to-day, or in any day, represent the one body. And yet the entire body is but one; and looked at in still another way, we see the head first, and the succeeding members following in order, leaving those members of Christ who are alive and remain unto the presence of the Lord to represent the last members – the feet.
It is to these that the prophet refers above; not the literal feet of Jesus, but the feet members of his body. (Many improperly accept Satan's interpretation of this passage, notwithstanding Jesus' rejection of it – Matt. 4:6,7.) The prophet makes the statement that the Lord will make special provision for the help and support of the "feet," just after giving a description of the evil day which the "feet" class will experience – the dark day, when the arrows of error will fly thick and fast; when the pestilence of Infidelity will stalk abroad; when all, except the "feet" class, shall fall – thousands falling on every hand. The question shall no longer be, Who will fall? but, "Who shall be able to stand?" These, the real feet members, shall not fall; these shall have special help; God will send them messengers, whom he will specially instruct or charge that his will shall be accomplished, and the true overcomers be upheld, and neither stumble nor fall.
Blessed assurance! cause for trust and confidence, that if we abide under the protection with which he has covered us, we shall be safe and come off conquerors, and more than conquerors, through him who loved us and washed us in his own precious blood. But the thought specially in mind is this: Not only are those who scatter the pestilence, and shoot out the arrows of error, and cast stumbling blocks in the way, men in the flesh, but those messengers whom God will use to bear up the "feet" and keep them from falling are also human agents. Both classes are servants – serving some cause, either of truth or error; serving some master – the God of truth, or Satan, the father of lies and errors. No matter whose uniform we wear, his servants we are to whom we render service. If Satan can get into the service of error those who profess to serve the Lord, he is the more pleased, and the more successful. Hence, as the Apostle advised us, we find it in this evil day – the ministers, or messengers, or servants of error, will appear as messengers of light, and their influence will thereby be the greater; and all not fixed upon the rock foundation of Christian hope, will be sure to fall. All not protected by the armor which God's word supplies are sure to fall pierced with the arrows of error.
Of two things then be assured – we each must serve one side or the other in this battle of the great day of God Almighty, which has to the church a different phase from that in which it will present itself to the world. Our strife is with spiritual adversaries, a battle between truth and error on religious subjects, while there is a conflict also between right and wrong, truth and error, as relates to political and temporal affairs. On which side are you serving now? Are you scattering error by words of your own, or reading matter, or in other ways [R845 : page 3] doing that which will smite down and stumble your fellow pilgrims? or are you giving the more earnest heed to the special "charge" God has given us regarding the dangers and pitfalls of this day? and are you thus "bearing up" the fellow members of the body – the feet? Are you earnest in rightly dividing the word of truth? and are you careful to put before others, only that which you have thoroughly examined and proved to the extent of your ability by the word of God? Are you one of Satan's messengers being used of him to overthrow the faith of some, and to remove "the feet" from the grand rock of faith – the ransom? or are you rendering yourselves as servants of righteousness and messengers of God serving and blessing the feet? If the one, you are stumbling and defiling the "feet;" if the other, you are bearing up and washing the "feet."
True the errors will test the armor of each, whether you shoot any of them or not; and it is also true that the "feet" shall be borne up and not dashed, whether you assist or not; but the question is none the less important to each of us, and will demonstrate our faithfulness or unfaithfulness, our worthiness or unworthiness to be members of the feet class ourselves.
Blessed shall be that servant whom the Lord shall find giving meat in due season, especially when He is present. (Matt. 24:45,46.) Such, as messengers of God are serving, strengthening, and bearing up the "feet" of Christ. The same thought is beautifully expressed in Rev. 19:7. The bride is made "ready" for the Bridegroom by herself; each member assisting one another results in the preparation of the whole. Not that we could make ourselves ready of ourselves, but that we aid each other in making use of the various arrangements for our readiness provided by our Lord – the robe etc.
Judge – examine yourselves – that none of you "put a stumbling block, or an occasion to fall, in his brother's way." – Rom. 14:13.
Believing the Bible teaching concerning death, that it is the extinction of life, and that it is only likened to a sleep in view of a promised resurrection, we have special interest in the statement of Paul relative to the awakening of the Church, the first or chief resurrection. He says: "Behold I show you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." The time for this instantaneous change is here shown to be under the sounding of the last trumpet, elsewhere referred to as "the seventh trumpet," "the trumpet," and "the trump of God." The sounding of six of these symbolic trumpets is already in the past, fulfilled in events which have transpired on the earth corresponding to the symbolic prophecies foretold in connection with them; and we are now living under the sounding of the seventh trumpet, during which the resurrection of the Church is due.
The sounding of this seventh symbolic trumpet marks some of the most momentous events that the world has ever known, though at first they come so gradually as to be observed only by the watchers – the faithful students of the sure word of prophecy. We find ourselves today in the very midst of these events.
Notice some of the striking events of this trumpet. During its time of sounding "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven." He "shall gather together his elect," the "little flock" of faithful ones, his "jewels," "from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other," out of Babylon. (Matt. 24:31.) "The dead in Christ shall rise." (1 Thes. 4:16,17.) The living members of the body of Christ – "shall be changed." (1 Cor. 15:51-52.) "The nations" become "angry." (Rev. 11:18.) "The kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of God." (Rev. 11:15.) Reward is given to the prophets and saints (verse 18), which implies their resurrection, since they could not be rewarded while dead; and the dead world will be brought to judgment – trial (verse 18). Briefly stated, it is the time of the Lord's second glorious presence and reign; the time for the gathering together and exaltation of his elect church, both from the grave and from among the living; the time for the overthrow of the present powers that be, and the establishing of the new power – the kingdom of God, both in its spiritual and earthly phase; and then the awakening and judging of the nations – the great work of restitution.
These events do not all succeed each other, requiring that one must be finished before the other can begin, but several parts of the work progress simultaneously. While the church is being gathered, the nations are mustering their forces for the great conflict; and while some of the saints are being changed from human to spiritual, others remain in the flesh, and probably some will so remain until the great conflict is almost over. This would appear from the words of the Psalmist, suggesting the proper attitude of mind for those who shall remain through these troublous times: – "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear though the earth [the present organization of society] be removed; and though the mountains [kingdoms] be carried into the midst of the sea [overthrown by the unrestrained forces, the "sea" class]; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swellings thereof." – Psa. 46.
Already we hear the roaring of the troubled waters, and feel the shaking of the mountains, yet we fear not; nor will we, if permitted to remain even till they sink in the midst of the sea. God's truth is our shield and buckler, and therefore none of these things move us; they only cause us to rejoice the more, because we realize that all this is necessary in order to bring the nations to the recognition of and submission to God.
It is to this time of the sounding of the seventh trumpet, this time of the advent, that Paul directed attention, saying "We shall not all sleep." Paul and all the Church from that day to this, have slept waiting for the day of Christ, now being ushered in. Now the blessed time has come to which they in hope looked forward. – 2 Tim. 4:8.
Those who die in this day of the Lord's presence do not sleep, but the instant that the human body sinks into death, the new spiritual body is received, and according to Paul's word, not an instant of unconsciousness intervenes. Because the spiritual body is invisible to humanity, none can know of the change except by faith in the promise of God.
The work of the new kingdom is now in progress, and the body of Christ, whether in the flesh or in the spirit, (resurrected,) are all actively engaged as co-workers together with our Lord and head. What a blessed privilege to realize that such is the case. If the work to be done while in the flesh were all finished, then doubtless all of the elect company would be speedily changed to the spiritual plane where they can work to advantage. "Ye are my witnesses," said the Lord, and it seems that the world has never yet been left without a human witness for God. And it is our privilege to be his witnesses now, and to stand as witnesses for God until "changed" to the higher plane. So long as the saints now abide in the flesh, it is an evidence that God has a work for them to do, either for themselves or others here. However humble, then, may seem the sphere of any of the consecrated ones, they should remember that God has a work for them to do here and now – a work which, if engaged in heartily, as unto the Lord, will not only enlighten others, but specially discipline and develop themselves spiritually. If idlers in the vineyard of the Lord, or if we go about his work complainingly and grudgingly, as if by constraint, we are proving ourselves unworthy of the great reward, and the Lord who reads the heart will make no mistake in judging us.
Let us appreciate our privilege of service, considering that we are workers together with the Lord and the risen saints, present with us, though invisible, except to the eye of faith. We need not expect large results in the present time. Neither Jesus, nor the Apostles, nor any of the saints, saw large results of their labors; but they were willing to work for the small results, and trust the future under God's providence, to justify the sacrifices made in the service. We may sow in tears, but shall, in due time, reap in joy.
With such a glorious hope in view, to be realized as soon as this weary humanity shall have exhausted its strength in the present service, who of this faithful consecrated class may not profitably sacrifice himself in the blessed service, and rejoice even in the midst of tribulation with joy unspeakable and full of glory? Truly we should rejoice in the Lord always, and in everything give thanks, knowing that our labors are not in vain in the Lord, and that the trial of our faith is for our profiting and development as new creatures. "Count not your lives dear unto you," for "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth" – their labors shall cease, but their work shall continue. Rev. 14:13.
As the time draws near for the commemoration of the closing scenes of our Redeemer's human existence, our minds are drawn to the consideration of the blessings secured for the human race through that great sacrifice. And as the long foretold signs of his second glorious presence and reign become more and more manifest, we lift up our heads and rejoice, knowing that our redemption draweth nigh.
The death of Christ secures for all mankind the blessed boon of resurrection, – a restitution. That ransom price laid down at Calvary secured for all mankind the right to live again. And the resurrection of Christ – not to the human nature (for that was the sacrifice laid down forever in our room and stead), but to the divine nature, with all power in heaven and in earth given to him – is proof and manifestation of the power which shall accomplish the great work of resurrection for those whom he purchased with his precious blood.
The time of his second presence is stated to be the time for the restitution of all things, – the time for the raising of the dead. Every indication, therefore, which we see giving evidence of his presence, is but the introduction to other and greater signs to follow shortly. The first accompanying signs of his presence are those of trouble; – "Behold he cometh with clouds." We have watched the clouds gathering for several years past, knowing that, according to the sure word of prophecy, they must soon overspread the whole heavens. And now the darkness increases, and we rejoice, knowing that these things must be, and that they are the disguised harbingers of a lasting peace and better state, and will not last forever. A few more years will find these events, their rise, progress, and culmination, numbered among the things of the past; and then what? Then the whole world will have come to recognize the presence and power of Christ; the kingdom of God will be actually "set up" in power and control of the world; the "old heavens," the present ruling powers, will have passed away, and the "new heavens," the kingdom of God, will have come. Then the work of restitution will begin – the restoring of the dead to life, and of the living to health and perfection, the restoring of truth and righteousness, and the establishment of justice.
Until the present heavens shall have passed away, the dead, except the Christ – the Church, head and body – shall not be awakened; but when the new heavens are established, they shall be remembered and brought forth. "As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up, so man lieth down, and riseth not till the heavens be no more; they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep." (Job 14:11,12.) This is a blessed provision; they shall not be awakened until surrounding circumstances, etc., shall be more favorable than at present, for their trial. The great conflict of this evil day, which shall terminate in the passing away of the old heavens and the complete binding of Satan, must first be at an end. For this Job prophetically prayed, saying, "O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time and remember me." He adds: "All the days of my appointed time will I wait till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee; thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands." – Job 14:13-15.
Job also shows that the hiding in the grave means destruction, and that the coming forth is a re-creation, when he says, "Now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me IN THE MORNING, but I shall NOT BE." (7:21.) If he is not in existence, yet comes forth when called (14:15), the calling forth is a re-creation.
For six thousand years God has been turning man to destruction, and when the present storm shall have passed he will begin to say, "Return, ye children of men." (Psa. 90:3.) What tidings of great joy for all people are these! But only those who have implicit faith in the promises of God can now rejoice in the glorious prospect. All the hope of the world is in the resurrection, yet even Christians now have little or no faith in it. Regarding death, not as destruction (Psa. 90:3), but as the gateway to heaven or to eternal punishment, they see no place or necessity for a resurrection; and to them this doctrine has lost its power.
It was not so with Paul. He taught that if there were no resurrection, then those who had fallen asleep had PERISHED, and that hopes for a future life were vain. (1 Cor. 15:15-18.) And while thus defining death to be destruction, he asks, "Why should it be thought a thing incredible that God should raise the dead?" (Acts 26:8.) If God has power to create and to destroy, has he not power to restore or re-create that which he destroyed? Surely this is not beyond the scope of divine power. And though it is as impossible to understand the philosophy of the resurrection as of the first creation, we accept both on the authority of God's word.
Jesus said to Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life," and then he gave an illustration of his power in awakening Lazarus to life. As we hear these words repeated at the graves of friends, and realize that they fall upon the ears of many as empty sounds, when they were designed to comfort and cheer bereaved hearts, we long to have them see and feel their blessed import. When awakened from death and brought to a knowledge of the truth, those who believe in Jesus as their Redeemer, who purchased their redemption with his own precious blood, and who walk in obedience to his commandments, may have life, everlastingly.
As we read God's word and recognize the foretold signs which show that these things must shortly come to pass, we hail with joy every indication. Truly we have cause to rejoice always, and in everything give thanks.
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves [selfish], covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof." – 2 Tim. 3:1-5.
While on the one hand it must be conceded by all that we live in a day preeminent for its benevolent institutions and reformatory measures, reaching even to the care of the dumb animals as well as the human kind; though it is a day of large salaries to favorite preachers, and large donations for church buildings and other purposes, yet on the other hand it is a day of increase of crime and of decrease of vital interest in godly things, as ably summed up in the last statement of the apostle quoted above; outwardly there is a form of piety – actually it is merely a benevolence and morality inspired by the increase of general intelligence.
Brother Brookman sends us the following extract on this subject, which may be read with interest as showing the increase of crime in one short year, 1884. If the contrast were for a longer period, say between the years 1884 and 1854, the increase of crime shown would be much more startling. It runs thus: –
"One of the leading journals, which is in full accord with the popular belief that all things are making rapid progress in the right direction, publishes the following statement of the murders and suicides committed in this country in 1884 as compared with 1883: –
"'The statistics of crime in this country for the year just closed are in some respects quite startling. For instance, the murders foot up 3,377, against 1,494 in 1883 – an increase of more than 5 per day. The number of executions for murder during the year was 111, only 5 more than in the year preceding; but it is proper to add that public sentiment did something toward the correction of this discrepancy between the number of killings and the number of hangings by applying lynch law to 219 murderers, against 92 thus disposed of in 1883. In the matter of suicides the showing is equally remarkable, the cases for 1884 numbering 1,897, against 910 during 1883. These statistics are not complete, of course, but they are nearly enough so to demonstrate that the past year was, for reasons of some kind, peculiarly given to the taking of human life by violent means.'
"Of course it does not suit the purpose of the optimists to dwell upon tables like this, and, so far as observed, not the slightest notice has been taken of it in any periodical of any kind. But notwithstanding the silence, the fact remains, and is worthy of at least passing thought. It is natural and easy to close the eyes to that which is disagreeable, but whether it is always wise to do so is quite another question. One of the strongest denominations in the land boasts of building a new meeting-house every day in the year, but when there are five more murders every day for the entire year than during the preceding year, and more than twice as many suicides as during the previous twelve months, it is obvious that a great many more meeting-houses are needed, and far greater Christian effort, if this were the remedy. Five thousand two hundred and seventy-four murders and suicides in a single year, out of a population of fifty millions of free and enlightened American citizens, will give one such astounding crime to about ten [R847 : page 5] thousand inhabitants; and it is difficult to reconcile this with the oft-repeated statement that there are more than ten millions of evangelical Christians in the United States, that is to say, that, leaving out the little children, one out of every two or three is a church-going and devout believer.
"It is hard also to reconcile this astonishing power of the Church with the tidings, coming from every quarter, of increasing discontent and fierce hate and threatened violence on the part of those known as 'working men,' who constitute a large majority of the population in the cities and principal towns and mining districts. In many places they are drilling with fire-arms under efficient officers, so that when the next general 'strike' occurs, they will be prepared to resist force by force. The most of those whose eye may rest for a moment upon telegraphic dispatches in the daily papers, announcing such murderous intent, dismiss the subject without a thought, or smile at the impotent folly of attempting a Socialistic revolution in this happy land of liberty and plenty. Alas! how little they know of human nature, and of what man can become when unrestrained by the fear or love of God.
"Information from Russia shows that the Nihilists, in addition to the use of dynamite, have resolved to try the efficacy of poison, and all the officials of the vast empire have been put upon their guard against the employment of servants, who are not proved to be thoroughly trustworthy. Men of high station dare not receive their food or drink from any but known or sworn friends. The London Times, which ought to take 'cheerful views of things,' closes a long editorial on the deplorable condition of affairs in Asia, Africa, and South America, with the following statements concerning Russia and other countries of Europe: –
"'Meanwhile its financial embarrassments grow yearly more intense; its public works are costly and unremunerative; its popular privileges are perpetually being restricted; its Minister of the Interior cannot quit his house, unless as the centre of a phalanx of policemen; Nihilism rears its poisonous head in every class, and the Czar demeans himself as if he were a State prisoner. Germany idolizes its Emperor and its Chancellor, yet a troop of assassins is convicted of having been compassing the death of the one in the very crisis of national loyalty, and the Imperial Parliament denies to the other the official assistance which his health demands, and he condescends to entreat. The German Empire is the most splendid political structure in Europe; and huge masses of its people exclaim that it is starving them. Austria has been menaced with a panic, the result of individual breaches of commercial faith. It is terrorized by nests of anarchists at war with society, and willing to snatch at any private plunder in their way. Italy is so little grateful for its extraordinary national redemption that a section of its sons may venture, unreproved, to glorify the memory of a murderer whose only excuse for the crime of butchery broad-cast could be that he was a lunatic. Norway is in a condition of chronic protest against its Government. The Parliamentary state of Denmark is a confusion which would be portentous if it were not permanent. Belgium is ruled by an Administration which is not national. Great Britain sees its trade depressed, and is warned by a host of self-constituted prophets that the edifice is about to come down with a run. It knows that it has to struggle with Transatlantic Dynamite Funds, with the responsibility for Ireland, and bewildering arithmetical problems of proportional representation. Spain and Portugal are enjoying an interval of calm, though it is impossible to say it is not the lull which precedes a storm.'
"Having said so much the writer is not content. His very next sentence is even more suggestive still. For he sums it all up adding, 'We have only skimmed the surface.' Full well he knows that deep down beneath the surface there are volcanic forces slowly yet surely gathering, which threaten devastation of Christendom, if not of the world. Over all the nations of Europe the miasm of infidelity has been stealthily spreading and strengthening; paralyzing everywhere not faith alone, but also hope and love. For wherever faith dies there also hope and love ceases to live. When these three graces are extinguished, who shall predict the force of the wildness and wickedness which must then surely take the field?
"Politicians, who are intent only on the game of diplomacy, refuse to take warning. The real danger of the day is the growing ungodliness of the great masses in our cities, our large towns, and even in our villages. The one remedy, if it be yet available, is the restoration of belief."
The writer of the foregoing sees something of the facts, but does not see the way out of the difficulty, nor does he realize the causes of the facts he relates. He suggests as a remedy, "the restoration of belief," if not too late.
It is a fact that the masses of the world are casting aside the "beliefs" which for centuries have held them. There can be no doubt that the various religious beliefs, even though very erroneous, have exercised a conservative and restraining influence upon men. These beliefs have held them under the "bondage of fear" – fear of an eternity of torment; and have kept many wicked men from many deeds of violence and shame. The growing intelligence among men is now removing this bondage, and letting them act out the depravity and selfishness which is in their hearts.
This is both a favorable and an unfavorable change. It is favorable in that it is preparing the way for the eradication of error, and the establishment of truth. It is favorable from the Scriptural standpoint as being the very means which God is permitting to eradicate error, and to overthrow present systems, and thus prepare for the reign of righteousness. It is unfavorable from the standpoint of present advantage, from the fact that man in his present depraved condition cannot use liberty in any direction without abusing it, and therefore his first experience will be disastrous, even as a child with edge tools, or as a horse released from the bridle feels that his liberty is useless unless improved in a runaway.
Self-control is a lesson which must be learned well before liberty will be a real blessing to mankind. But the lesson must come, and those alone who see the grand outcome of it from a Scriptural standpoint, see cause for rejoicing through all the distress which is drawing closer and closer upon the world. The elements composing the present social fabric are catching fire and must melt and disintegrate with the fervent heat of this day of the Lord, ere their reconstruction can be effected – the "new earth."
"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." – John 16:33.
Constantly aware of their own imperfections and shortcomings, it is not surprising that the children of God often feel greatly cast down and almost discouraged. The more we look into the perfect law of God, the more we feel our inability to measure up to its requirements. And as we look at the noble example of Christian character presented in the Scriptures, we seem to forget that, with the exception of the perfect example, they were all men and women imperfect like ourselves, and like ourselves earnestly struggling against the downward current of a fallen nature.
It was to such that Jesus said, Be of good cheer. He knew the imperfections of these his disciples; he knew how they would all shortly forsake him through fear, and leave him alone to suffer and die. Yet Jesus loved them, and declared that his Father also loved them. "The Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God" (v. 27). As we read the loving words of counsel, encouragement and warning, and the fervent prayer of our Lord for these disciples, whom he was about to leave in the world, we are constrained to say, Behold how he loved them!
And then we find that his disciples of to-day – you and I – were also mentioned in that prayer when he said "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one, as thou Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us." Then too we see how his love reached out to all the world, when he added – "that the world may believe that thou has sent me." Though his own soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, his heart yearned with compassion for the beloved ones whom he was serving at the cost of his life. He knew the temptations, the persecutions, and the painful crucifying of the human nature, which they must all undergo before they would be prepared to be with him in glory, and he had compassion for them.
Though eighteen hundred years have passed since Jesus left his little flock to follow in his footsteps in the narrow way, his love has not grown cold. With deepest interest he watches our course, and rejoices with us as the time draws near for our union with him in glory. Every trial we cheerfully and lovingly bear for his dear sake – the Truth's sake, endears us the more to him, and brings us into closer union and fellowship. Though our copy of the Master's example is very imperfect, because of inherited weaknesses, it is accepted as perfect, because our desire and effort is to make it so, our deficiency being all covered by the Redeemer's merit – "Be of good cheer" therefore; "I have overcome." His perfection is imputed to us through faith. And now this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Without faith it is impossible to overcome.
We venture the suggestion that the most depraved human beings are the most superstitious. And that these most depraved and superstitious are the most easily influenced by fear. And while the nominal Church (Papal and Protestant) has included in its membership some of the most intelligent and conscientious of the human family, it has also gathered into its bosom a large class influenced only by fear or present advantage, among whom are some of the most depraved and superstitious, merely held in check – not really converted. It gathered in this last class by the errors it taught notwithstanding its truths, and it gathered in the former class by the truths which it held notwithstanding its errors.
The error which, above all others, has brought this really ungodly, unconverted and superstitious class into the nominal Church (Babylon – mixture – confusion) is, that eternal torture awaits all except the Church, and that to escape that misery, they must join some of the various sects. Invented for the purpose, this doctrine has been a whip which has driven multitudes of the worst elements of society into the nominal Church, and bound and restrained them from immorality, outward evil, though it never converted them into true servants of God, and members of the true Church whose names are written in heaven.
The various sects anxious for numbers, worldly influence, outward show, and forms of godliness, used well the goad of torture, and the shackles of fear, and with such success, that to-day the real saints, the true wheat, the consecrated are few indeed compared with the thousands of fear-bound and unconsecrated which swell the numbers of Babylon. Hence it is that the entire nominal church is rejected by the Lord, and the few who are his are called out of Babylon.
What wonder then, that as these shackles of error break, and give liberty to those hitherto restrained, not by love, but by fear alone, the result should be a great increase of crime; or that this increase is principally among those who were once more or less directly associated with the nominal church. That this is the case, is shown by the following official Parliamentary report of – [R848 : page 6]
Church of England...........6,933,935 Dissenters..................7,234,158 Roman Catholics.............1,500,000 Jews........................ 57,000 Infidels....................7,000,000 Criminals to every 100,000 population: Roman Catholics............. 2,500 Church of England........... 1,400 Dissenters.................. 150 Infidels.................... 5 Jews........................ 0 Roman Catholics............. 1 in 40 Church of England........... 1 in 72 Dissenters.................. 1 in 666 Infidels..................1 in 20,000 Total number of criminals in jail: Roman Catholics............. 37,500 Episcopalians............... 96,600 Dissenters.................. 10,800 Infidels.................... 350 Jews........................ 0
A little season only will intervene between the removal of the shackles of fear and the full establishment of the "kingdom of heaven" and its rule of righteousness: but that little season will be quite sufficient for the overthrow of present systems built entirely or in part upon error. We could not avert it if we would – we should not avert it if we could; hence so many as would be co-workers with God should advocate truth and liberty among the saints, and patience and hope on the part of the world, and so far as lieth in you (consistently with this service of the truth) live peaceably with all men.
"Woe to them who call evil good and good evil, that put darkness for light and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!" Isaiah 5:20.
The thought is suggested by some that "Evil is one of the grandest of all of God's creations," because, say they, "God is going to overrule it, and his character will be seen more grandly than if it had not been."
The suggestion is evidently built upon the arguments and reasons produced in the pamphlet issued from this office, entitled, "Why Evil Was Permitted"; but to charge God with being the author or creator of sin – moral evil, is going to an extreme as unreasonable as it is unfounded. How prone frail, fallen, human judgment is to err on one side or the other of every truth. The difference between creating evil and permitting it, because divine wisdom foresaw a way to so overrule it as ultimately to cause good results to flow from it, are totally different things. The latter is the view presented in our pamphlet and by its title. That which is actually good produces good only, and needs not to be overruled. If evil were really good, it would not require to be overruled by divine power and wisdom, for good results would naturally flow from it. But such is not the case. Evil is evil, and works out evil only, and goes from bad to worse, and that continually, except as God interposes, and by his wisdom and power overrules it, and uses its force to work out his plans in opposition to it.
To charge that God did evil, or that he in any way produced or caused evil that good might follow, is to charge the Holy One with what any honest man would be ashamed of. It is what Paul terms "slander" (Rom. 3:8). If God is the author or creator of sin (evil), then indeed he would be the chief of sinners.
If on this subject we apply the rule laid down by our Lord Jesus, it proves one of two things – either that God in causing or producing evil was unholy, impure, and sinful above all his creatures, or else that he is pure and holy, and as such could not be the creator or producer of any other quality. Jesus declared that "A good tree bringeth forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit." Every tree is known by his own fruit." "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil." Matt. 7:16-18; Luke 6:43-45; compare also James 3:11.
What shall we say to this logical argument? "Is God the author of confusion? Is God the impure fountain from whence sin proceeded, which has so ruined our race? Nay, nay; false and weak is the theory which needs such an illogical and inconsistent argument for its support. It is contradicted not only by God's character, but by his Word also, which declares that "God is not the author of confusion" (1 Cor. 14:33), while sin is the greatest confusion ever known. But we see, perhaps, the reason which underlies this theory that God was the arch-deceiver, seducer of our race, and author of sin. It is this: A writer accepting the logical conclusions of our argument on Why Evil was Permitted, built upon the Bible doctrine of Restitution, as a result of the RANSOM, makes use of the conclusions there arrived at, and attempts to harmonize those conclusions with a theory which he holds – that Jesus was not our RANSOM [corresponding price]. Said writer's attempt is to show that restitution will not be the result of a RANSOM, but because God in justice owes to the race a restitution from the penalty of sin; He being the real sinner, and not man, who was merely his tool, and did only what he could not have avoided; the omnipotent God being the author of the sin and compelling its performance.
To support this theory of no ransom, this writer was bound to find some reason for evil being in the world which would shift the responsibility and just penalty from man, and he thus forces himself to this absurd and "slanderous" position of making God the bitter fountain of sin, the excuse being, that God, the creator or author of sin, will by and by blot out this feature of his creation, when it has served its purpose.
Not satisfied with this degree of "slander" upon God's character, this writer goes on to urge that so far from God's justice demanding a ransom for all, justice the rather is on man's part, and DEMANDS of God the restitution of all men as a right.
The writer seemingly does not see the inconsistency of his argument, which stands out thus: If God is bound by justice to restore men, it follows that God is now and has been for six thousand years punishing man unjustly. If justice demands the sinner's release, justice must have been demanding it all along; and according to this theory it must be that God's conscience has been resisting the demands of his own justice on man's behalf until now. Hence, though God (according to this writer's theory) has been punishing man for sin which God himself created and was responsible for, this writer has HOPE that God will repent and do man JUSTICE, and restore him soon. If such were our view of God we should give up hope of ever obtaining justice from [R849 : page 6] a God so devoid of justice as such conduct would indicate. This is indeed adding blasphemy to slander against Him who cannot look upon sin with any degree of allowance, and who is the very personification of purity. – Matt. 5:48; 2 Sam. 22:31.
And what foundation is there for all this calumny against the Almighty? None whatever; but two texts of Scripture have been so perverted as to give a seeming support to the view suggested. (Isa. 45:7, and Amos 3:6.) Neither of these however have any reference to sin, but refer to evil in the sense of calamities and trouble. God declared man guilty, and pronounced the righteous penalty to be death; and in the carrying out of this just sentence, various agencies and circumstances are allowed to operate against man. And thus God is said to "create evil" or more properly translated to prepare or arrange, or as taking cognizance of and permitting calamities, etc., as agencies in carrying out the penalty prescribed against man.
Neither is it a fair or righteous statement of the matter, to say that God compelled man to sin either by making him imperfect so that he could not withstand, nor yet by designing and arranging the temptation, so that the creature Adam could not resist. To have so arranged would be to make of the trial in Eden a farce and a mockery, and under such circumstances it would have been unloving on God's part, and a gross violation of justice, to have inflicted the penalty which for sixty centuries has swept man from the earth.
The Justice of God is the very foundation of his throne as well as the foundation of all man's hopes; and properly, for God as well as man ought to be JUST above all things else. And, is the assurance not given us that "God tempteth no man?" – James 1:13.
Alas that theory should so far befog the moral sensibilities and the reason of the one whom we criticize! The theory which finds such a course necessary to its support is dangerous; for it would not stop at any obstacle to establish itself. In fact it has not stopped, for it steps clear over positive Scripture in repeated statements relative to the ransom, without even an attempt to analyze or expound them.
Evil never was a good thing and never will be; "woe to them that call good evil and evil good." Evil – sin, is a terrible malady and it is as improper to call it a blessing as to call the cholera or small-pox a blessing, even though under a skillful physician these maladies should be fully cured and leave no bad effects, and though the patient, restored to health, might by his dreadful experience learn to forever avoid contamination with it again. It would be absurd to argue that because of the benefits derived from experience with small-pox, that the disease is therefore a good thing. So with moral evil, sin, it is no less a terrible thing than at first, even though the divine wisdom and foreknowledge saw and arranged for its complete remedy and eradication.
Everything that God has made has been well made – good. Satan must have been created good – God could not create a sinful being. Sin is the willful act of the sinner – led astray of his own desire – ambition, pride, etc., as in Satan's case. Jehovah neither creates sinners nor tempts his creatures into sin.
Those who would refresh their minds upon the subject of why evil was permitted and the means God has provided for its legal and actual eradication can send to this office for a copy of "Food for Thinking Christians" – Free.
An earnest Christian brother recently called at our office, and after commenting briefly upon the teachings of the TOWER with which he was in sympathy, he remarked that he belonged to the Methodist Church, but was constantly trying to show them that sectarianism was unscriptural; that Christ authorized but one church; and that the Apostles taught that there was but one Lord, one Faith, and one Baptism; and hence that every sect and creed is influential in dividing and keeping separate the flock of Christ. He had been trying to show them that all who accepted Jesus' sacrifice for their sins and had consecrated themselves to God, should come together for worship and instruction as fellow-members of the ONE BODY of Christ, (their names written in heaven) acknowledging as their Head, Jesus only, and His word as the only authority and only standard for faith and practice.
We heard the brother's very correct views on this subject, and rejoiced that he had seen it so clearly, but readily pointed out to him one reason why all effort had thus far been unavailing. He had not practiced what he had been preaching, his conduct contradicted his words; and the results had justified the adage "Actions speak louder than words." Though seeing clearly that these divisions (1 Cor. 11:19, margin) are wrong, the brother like so many others, had firmly in his mind, that there must be some fetters of human forging, in addition to the Word of God and the spirit of love, to bind the members of Christ as one; and that somehow a pile of bricks and mortar is an essential to "a church;" so that he had, though denouncing the bondage, submitted himself to it. Hence to those with whom he bound himself, his course must have appeared that of a grumbler, merely. Such a position is like to a man attempting to throw away his boots while he stands in them.
What should he have done? – What should all such do? They should begin to practice as well as preach the teachings of Scripture on this subject. So surely as sectism is an injury to THE CHURCH, so surely as it is built upon false theories and in turn upholds and perpetuates false doctrines, so surely do those who knowing this, give either influence or money in its support, partake of its sins. Such hear and should at once obey the Shepherd's voice, "Come out of her, my people, that ye partake not of her sins, and receive not of her plagues."
This brother as soon as he came to see the error should have presented the matter before the entire company, and kindly, but plainly, have showed them the error in which all had been, and should then have publicly withdrawn from the sect and requested that his name be "blotted out" of their book; at the same time making clear to them that he was not withdrawing from THE church which is the BODY of Christ, but merely from the BODY of Methodists; that he severed his connection with the head and ruling power of the body of Methodism because he more fully recognized the Headship of Christ and the oneness of His body, and in order that he might be more directly under the control of the true Head. He should make clear to them too, that he still loved them, and that so far from withdrawing from the true church in spirit, his coming into fuller relationship to it, led him to see that as a Methodist he had been separating himself from others; that now by [R849 : page 7] coming out of the citadel of Methodism into the broad field of truth and liberty in Christ without bondage or hindrance of men, he was taking a position to which all the consecrated could come from the various sectarian forts; and be thus all one harmonious body to rejoice in and use the Liberty wherewith Christ hath made all his followers free.
Let us remember that grumbling and talking against sectarianism while sticking to it, and avoiding the real issue, is not the honorable straight-forward course in the sight of our fellow men; and yet more important, such a course is not approved of God.
We well know, that many think to revive and remodel the existing sects. Such perhaps forget how unwise it is to thus put their opinions as to expediency against God's wisdom on this subject. As of its prototype the nominal Jewish church, Jesus said it was useless to patch an old worn garment falling to pieces, with new stuff, so now with the antitype: a totally New order of things is about to be ushered in, and no amount of patching of present sects of the nominal church with the doctrines of the new dispensation would answer God's purpose.
The church now to be organized, which shall during the new dispensation bless the world, is the glorified church of overcomers, and no amount of fixing would fit mere nominal professors, or a human organization, for the work of the new dispensation. The harvest work, is to now select and call out from the nominal mass, the true sheep who are willing to hear the Shepherd's voice, just as in the Jewish "harvest" the Lord and Apostles gathered, not into the nominal system, but out of it, Israelites indeed.
A temporary patch, even if they would allow their systems to be patched, would only be the worse for their systems. They will last longer without the truth than with it. The truth would rend and divide and utterly destroy them. The hour of separation is come. Babylon is falling, and no power can stay her from utter destruction. Let the true sheep heed the voice, "Come out of her my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues."
In an important article on "Prehistoric Commerce and Israel," which appears in the current number of The British and Foreign Evangelical Review, the writer, Dr. Howard Osgood, points to one indication which is to be found in the Bible account of the Flood. That account gives a rational measurement for a ship in the relation of breadth and depth to length. The length 450 feet, six times its breadth, 75 feet, is near the proportion which is given to ships of burden to-day. That the ark was not a flat-boat is made certain by the impossibility of building a flat-boat of that length and breadth that would float; it would, as every flat-boatman knows, leak so badly that it could not be kept free of water; and when to the length and breadth is added 45 feet of height, the structure would become ridiculous, a pyramid built on its apex.
The men who knew enough to give these dimensions to the ark were well versed in ship-building, and knew, like the Cushites of South Babylonia, and of the southern shores of the Red Sea, and of the Phoenician coast, the proper proportions for a great ship that would float and resist the enormous pressure of water against her sides and bottom, for the ark drew 22½ feet of water. There is another point with respect to this vessel that has often been made the subject of ignorant jest. It is said that, however excellent and seaworthy the ark may have been, it is absolutely impossible that all the species of animals on the earth could have been crowded into it, though only two of each were put on board. Geikie, in his article on the "Deluge," in Dr. Lindsay Alexander's edition of Kitto's Bible Dictionary, following Hugh Miller, is very positive on this point. But Dr. Osgood contends that two of all the known species of land mammalia, and of birds, reptiles and insects could have found room in the vessel of Noah, of the size given in the Bible. The ark had three decks, and its length was 450 feet, its breadth 75, and its depth 45. Subtract 50 feet for the inclination of the bow and stern and sides, then we have 400 feet by 75 – that is, 30,000 square feet on each deck, or for the three decks, 90,000 square feet. The steamers carrying live stock from New York to-day allow 20 square feet for oxen. At this rate, on each deck, there would be room for 1,500 oxen, or 4,500 on three decks, with plenty of ventilation, as the decks were 13 feet in the clear apart. Geikie makes the number of the species of mammalia to be between 1,660 and 1,700. If so, the ark could have carried on two of its decks, and a part of the third deck, two of each of the size of an ox. But the average size, according to Professor H. A. Ward, of Rochester, and Mr. Wallace's careful classification of the species, would be that of the grey fox or common house cat. Taking, then, the grey fox as the measure of all the species, and granting him even one-fourth of the size of the ox, and giving him one-fourth of the room required for the ox, all the species would not require the space, 30,000 square feet, of one deck of the ark! Wallace estimates the number of birds at 10,087; of reptiles, 975; and of lizards, 1,252; of insects, 100,000 species. Taking again the average size of these species, no large amount of space would be required to hold two of each species.– Sel.
There is perhaps no better test of a man's character than the way in which he bears himself under just reproof. Every man makes mistakes; every man commits faults; but not every man has the honesty and meekness to acknowledge his errors, and to welcome the criticisms which point them out to him. It is rarely difficult for us to find an excuse we are looking for. It is, in fact, always easier to spring to an angry defense of ourselves, than to calmly acknowledge the justice of another's righteous condemnation of some wrong action of ours; but to refuse to adopt this latter course, when we know we are in the wrong, is to reveal to our better consciousness, and often to the consciousness of others, an essential defect in our character.
That man is strong who dares to confess that he is weak; he is always tottering to a fall who needs to bolster up the weakness of his personality by all sorts of transparent shams. It is not in vain that Scripture says: "Reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge;" for one of the best evidences of the possession of that direct self-government which stands as the basis of moral strength, and one of the best means of gaining it when it is lacking, is just this willingness to accept merited reproof, and to profit by it when accepted.– Sel.
Under this head we find the following lines in a paper claiming the name of "Christian": –"Life and Death are sisters fair;
Yes, they are a lovely pair.
Life is sung in joyous song;
While men do her sister wrong,
Calling her severe and stern,
While her heart for them doth burn.
Weave, then weave, a grateful wreath,
For the sisters, Life and Death.
"If fair Life her sister lost,
On a boundless ocean tost
She would rove in great unrest,
Missing that warm, loving breast;
Now, when scared by wild alarms,
She can seek her sister's arms –
To that tender bosom flee,
Sink to sleep in ecstacy."
Gen. 2:17 – "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."
Deut. 30:15 – "See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil."
Prov. 8:36 – "All they that hate me love death."
Isa. 28:25,18 – "Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement," etc. "And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it."
Verse 32 – "I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God; wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye."
Hos. 13:14 – "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O death, I will be thy plagues."
Rom. 5:12 – "Sin entered into the world, and death by sin."
Rom. 6:23 – "For the wages of sin is death."
1 Cor. 15:26 – "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."
Verse 54 – "So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory."
2 Tim. 1:10 – "But is now made manifest [his purpose and grace] by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel."
Heb. 2:14 – "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil."
These are a few of the great multitude of texts which show in what light God regards death. It is the penalty, the result, the wages of sin; and the devil introduced it into the world. Christ came to destroy it, and, as the last enemy, not friend, of man, it will be destroyed. Let them make a "covenant with death" who hate wisdom; but we abhor death, and seek for life through the Life Giver, the Lord Jesus Christ.– Sel.
THE most painful way may be the right one, but it is not the right one because it is the most painful. It is the right way because it is the right way, whether it be painful or delightful, and the notion of self-sacrifice may be rooted in spiritual pride.
"Anything to make money," seems to be the motto of the nations. Christian countries have no hesitation in doing things that must, if continued, inevitably utterly wipe out of existence the aboriginal inhabitants of the sea islands if they can only make a little money thereby. "Take," says the Independent, "the case of Madagascar, where rum merchants, aided by the English and American Governments, are trying to undo the work of our missionaries. Both the English and American Government levy a tax of some two dollars a gallon on distilled liquors; but the English Government forced on Madagascar a treaty which made that people receive rum at an import of only thirty-three per cent, which was in 1867, reduced to ten per cent, or about two cents a gallon. There are imported annually from Mauritius over 400,000 gallons of rum, which sells at about eighteen cents a gallon, and which, with native liquors made from stills imported from Mauritius, is inflicting an injury which the missionaries find hard to resist."
A correspondent of a Mauritius paper, says the Commercial Gazette, says that "the whole population have become inveterate drunkards, women and children as well as men;" that the women are becoming sterile throughout the country; and "if something is not done to stop this unlimited consumption of spirits, the bulk of the race will have disappeared from the face of the earth before the beginning of the next century, and those who remain will have just cause to curse the day upon which the white man invaded their country, under the pretext of showing them the way to Heaven." In a little while we shall be hearing that "civilization" has destroyed the Hova race. It is the civilization of rum and gunpowder, not of Christianity.
In the month of August, 1879, Messrs. Dunville and Co., distillers, of Belfast, shipped about a thousand cases of whisky, via Larne and Liverpool, to Cyprus. This island has just escaped from Mohammedan misrule, impoverished and almost depopulated; and now Irish whisky, sent by "Christian distillers," comes to the front, under the British flag, to complete the desolation.
Yet with these facts in view, with India, where English example has made a thousand drunkards where it has made one Christian, with China, where each day more than a thousand natives die the most horrible deaths, murdered by British opium forced on them at the cannon's mouth; with the South Sea island races rotting out from immoral diseases, which the sailors of Christendom have left behind; – the only exceptions being islands that have no harbors where ships can lie; – with the liquor traffic driving the ploughshare of destruction not only through Christendom, but through the virgin soil just opened in Asia and Africa for the reception of the good seed of the kingdom; – with all these horrible exhibitions of Satanic craft, backed up by the force of evil habit and the covetous greed of gain which rules the so-called Christian world; – with all these facts before them, dainty divines, dealing in a gospel of lavender and rose water, draw glowing pictures of a good time coming, and tell us that the world's conversion is just at hand! Do such men know much about the world, or much about conversion? Or are they saying peace and safety when sudden destruction cometh upon them?– The Christian.
There is no point, says the Sunday School Times, where the Bible record and the claim of infidel scientists – not sincere and reverent, but skeptical and scoffing scientists – are at greater variance, than as to man's beginning in knowledge and character. The Bible says that man started on a high plane, and gradually declined through sin and neglect of his privileges; the scoffing student of science says that man started on a level with the brute, and has been gradually making progress from that beginning until now. Whenever a rude stone hatchet, or a bit of primitive pottery, has been found in some subterranean cavern, it has been claimed by the doubter of the Bible as a new witness against Genesis. But the believer in the Bible has rested on the Bible story, without having his faith cut to pieces by a stone hatchet. From no land has there come better material for the study of the comparative chronology of learning and art than from Egypt.
In view of the recent remarkable discoveries there, a Cairo correspondent of the Nation has referred to "the growing conviction of Egyptologists [not of Bible defenders, but of Egyptologists, mark you!] that the earliest Egyptian civilization we know of is the highest and that all that we know of it is its decadence." Why, the book of Genesis tells us that "The oldest pyramid is the largest and best built; the oldest temple – that beside the Sphinx at Gizeh – shows masonry since unapproached; the oldest papyrus – though as yet hardly understood – is the wisest; and the tombs and temples of the Theban period are filled with extracts from ancient books not yet found complete." That's it! All that is necessary to bring a scientist to the defence of the Bible story is – science.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: I received the papers, etc., sent me. I feel the time is too short to lose a moment. How I do desire to go forth and proclaim the broad, grand, and finished plan of our great salvation. Truly I am thankful to God that he has raised up heralds of the coming kingdom, so shortly to be ushered in; and above all, I am rejoiced to see how the suffering millions of mankind are to be restored to God in the coming age. Your Tabernacle and its teachings, together with ZION'S WATCH TOWER and "Food for Thinking Christians," has so opened the eyes of my understanding that the Church and the world have assumed quite another aspect. The Church, how definite her duty and her portion; how narrow her pathway of testimony; how exalted her relation to her head, and her future glorious sphere of action. The broad world to be her mission field, not in rejection, weakness and poverty; but honored, powerful, wise and beautiful. Truly, with her glorified Head, she will be the light of the world in fact, as she is such now in prospect. I feel a strong desire to bear a humble part in the great work of preparing our brethren and sisters in Christ for the reception of the truth, as the Lord has enabled you to set it forth. For several years I have been laboring for the Church, and at present I am employed by a church which I was instrumental in organizing. Now, will you instruct me how I may capture that little flock by the truth, and not startle them before I can overpower them by the Word; and not only them, but all with whom I come in contact. By this I mean, what line of thought should I introduce first to the assembly? Then how to proceed by easy stages, so as not to have them think that this is strange fire, and offered by one estranged from the healthy part of orthodoxy. Pardon the liberty I take with one with whom I have no acquaintance; but the tone of your teaching warrants me in taking this course.
In reply: – We welcome you as another laborer in the harvest. We rejoice with you in your own joy and blessing, and in your zeal for the flock. The Lord give you grace and strength through the truth, to lay down your life in the service of the sheep. Counting not your life, convenience, comfort, or reputation, dear unto you, may you spend and be spent thus in the Master's service.
Expect not too much; tares are more plentiful than wheat; expect not the Master's permission to bring tares into the barn – the harvest work is to separate and gather the wheat – the Chief Reaper is superintending, and it will be thoroughly done; work with him according to his plan, if you would be used and fully blessed. It is right to be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves," lest we prejudice the sheep against the food they so much need. The majority, however, fail from an excess of prudence and wisdom, and accomplish nothing. Fear and self-interest seems to influence more than are fully aware of it. God hides his plans and debars from his service the "wise and prudent" after this sort, and reveals them unto those who will out with them. – Matt.
The best place to begin is with the foundation, as did Paul, who says: "I declared unto you first of all that which I also received [first of all], how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures." Show that Jesus was "a propitiation" [satisfaction] for our sins, and not for ours [the Church's sins] only, but ALSO for the sins of the whole world. Show that all must receive some benefit from the ransom given for all. Show what benefit. This will open up the promises of Scripture, heavenly and earthly, and will speedily turn against you those who love and hold tradition more firmly than the Word of God, together with those who have and love a form of godliness while ignoring the power thereof.
Yours in fellowship and service.
Wednesday morning, April 21st, will be the anniversary of our Lord's resurrection, his birth of the Spirit – "the firstborn from the dead," "the firstborn among many brethren." We suggest to his "brethren," his prospective joint-heirs, those who share in his sacrifice, and shall in due time share in his resurrection, that after mentally following the Redeemer in the closing hours of his ministry, they will be profited by a fresh examination of his resurrection, in which, as well as in his death, they are privileged to share. (Phil. 3:10.) A re-reading of "Food" pages 56 to 63 and 119 to 130 may aid you in this study.
Ques. – Please explain Gal. 3:28, "There is neither male nor female... in Christ Jesus."
Ans. – Paul is explaining how free the gospel is, bringing God's favor to all. Before, under the law, there were distinctions made between Jew and Gentile, between bond and free, between male and female; but now that Jesus has died, all of those typical distinctions are at an end. No distinctions are recognized between classes now. All who have "an ear to hear" may come, and when they have become Christ's are all on the same level in God's sight. No distinction is recognized, for he regards each as not in the flesh but in the spirit – all one in Christ – if so be that the spirit of Christ dwell in you. No difference who you are, or what your standing or birth as an earthly being, your only standing in God's sight is as a member of Christ. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise.
Ques. – DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: In these perilous times, when Satan is so busy with his deceptions, allurements and sophistry, and when human agencies are so often the disguised emissaries of the adversary, is it not the Christian's safest plan to discard all human exposition and take the Word of God alone, expecting the Lord to open up its truths to each of us personally, unaided and unhindered by each other? What think you? In this idea, can there be any of the adversary's art to beguile and mislead?
Ans. – We should ever bear in mind that our great adversary, the devil – not a myth, but a real, personal foe – is specially anxious and attentive to those who aspire to be of the body of Christ, that he may capture, mislead, maim or hinder them. He knows the weaknesses of our flesh, and is ever ready to take advantage of our peculiar and trying circumstances. He will either try to so confuse us with Babylon's many voices, and so have us lose the voice of Christ, or else he will try to so cut us off from our supply of heavenly food and support, as to leave us weak and unable to resist the assaults of error. The apostle counsels the church to forsake not the assembling of ourselves together, and so much the more, as we see the day approaching." (Heb. 10:25.) And again, "Build one another up on your most holy faith." The Lord foresaw these perilous times, and knew how much more than ever we should need each other's sympathy, encouragement and help. Surely, then, we must recognize in any opposite suggestion the attempted deception of the adversary.
He would have you believe you are strong and that you have no need of assistance from any other member of the body. But the Lord warns us again – Shall the hand say to the foot or eye, I have no need of thee? Hath not God set the various members in the body? and if so, has he not given, especially to some members, eyes to discern the truth with special clearness; and has he not given to some members special ability to express it forcibly? and likewise various other gifts among various other members?
Did he not do this in order to the perfecting of the saints, till we all come to the measure of the full stature of Christ? If this be true, we cannot ignore the provision which the Head of the Church has made, and hope to profit by disregarding his way. According to the testimony we should find that all the members of the body are profitable to each other. Were it not for an eye among our members some would never have seen truth which they now see; and were it not for tongues (exposition) some could never have understood things which they now understand; and were it not for helping hands few would now occupy their present advanced position on the pathway to glory. Yea even the most feeble members are necessary. – 1 Cor. 12:22.
It is not reasonable then to suppose that God will change his plans and vest in each of us, all the diversified gifts heretofore appointed to various members of the body, and thus make us independent of each other, and so divide the body. No, rather will he use a brother as an index finger to point out to you the will of God in this matter. And had you not looked among the various members for an index finger, possibly you might not have noticed the Master's teaching and the deception aimed at your overthrow.
It may and does require close observation to distinguish the real members of the body, but we are told that by their fruits we shall know them. The spirit of the Head controls the entire body of Christ; and notwithstanding the weaknesses of the flesh with which we are still encumbered, that spirit is always discernible.
Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together. It may not be possible to all to do this personally, but in these days through the mediums of the mails and the press what blessed communion and interchange of thought the saints may have. Thank God for such blessed privileges in this time of our special need.
Orders for sample packets came so freely lately as to exhaust the supply of "Food." We are rejoiced to have it so; the fields are white for harvest work, and he that reapeth receiveth wages, says the Master. By the time you receive this paper the fresh supply will be ready, and you may expect future orders to be filled promptly. See February "View."