PUBLISHED TWICE A MONTH.
N.B. – Those of the interested, who by reason of old age or accidents, or other adversity, are unable to pay, will be supplied FREE, if they will send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper.
While in Jerusalem it occurred to us that many of our friends might like very much to have some little thing as a memento, both of our journey and of the "Holy City." We had no difficulty in selecting some inexpensive ones suited to our purpose. Some small olive-wood articles – paper weights, pen-holders, egg-cups and napkin-rings.
Next came the difficulty – How many shall we purchase? How many friends have we to whom we would like to present a little token? We knew no place to draw a line, for surely all the TOWER readers are beloved as friends indeed. We could not, however, afford to purchase and pay transportation and customs and postage duty for so many – nor did we like to offer to sell them to our friends. We concluded, finally, to purchase about 1700 pieces and present them to the WATCH TOWER TRACT SOCIETY and let the society pay freight and customs tariff and packing and postage, and supply them at low prices to such as may desire them. Thus all will be accommodated, some will be pleased and the cause will be profited. These articles we ordered from the Baron Rothschild Industrial School in Jerusalem. They are olive-wood and stamped Jerusalem.
We also saw some neat but inexpensive "Flower Cards," which we surmised would be appreciated by many of you. We ordered 4000 of these; they, too, have arrived. These will be sent gratis, postpaid, as love tokens and mementoes from Sister Russell and myself. They are not printed flowers, but colored wild flowers, grasses, etc., from the surrounding country, pasted on cards in tasteful designs. These will be sent as follows: (1) One card to each person purchasing one or more of the olive-wood articles and (2) one card each to those of the Lord's poor who have written since Dec. 1, 91, requesting the Watch Tower for 1892, gratis. Thus all can have a little memento.
The following articles donated to the Watch Tower Tract Fund, as explained above, are offered for sale to Watch Tower readers, postage paid by us, at the following prices: –
Olive-wood Pen-holders, each 20 cents. " " Paper-weights, " 15 " " " " " four 50 " " " Napkin Rings, each 15 " " " " " seven 1.00 " " Egg cups, each 15 " " " " " seven 1.00
We will be too busy to fill orders before and during the Memorial Meeting; but orders will be filed and filled in order as received. Write order with full address separate from other orders and letter. When the article ordered is sold out, we will send one of the others until all are gone. If you have a second choice, name it in your order. page 98
The present prospects are that there will be quite a large attendance this year. The last TOWER gave very explicit directions for all intending to come, and it should be carefully re-examined to insure no mistakes. On arrival, come to the TOWER office, 58 Arch st.
We have only to add further that friends coming from points West of Chicago and St. Louis can obtain excursion Certificates with their tickets from PEORIA, ILLINOIS, via the C.R.I.& P., or the C.B.& Q., or the J.S.E. – A.T.& S.F. Rail Roads.
|VOL. XIII.||APRIL 1, 1892.||NO. 7.|
"I have espoused you as a chaste virgin unto one husband, even Christ." – 2 Cor. 11:2.
The letter of the Apostle Paul in which these words occur was addressed to the Church of God at Corinth and to all the saints in all Achaia (2 Cor. 1:1), and together with the other epistles was designed by the Holy Spirit for the instruction of the whole Church, during the entire Gospel age. Therefore when the Apostle says, "I have espoused you as a chaste virgin unto one husband, even Christ," it is evident that the entire faithful Church is meant – all who as "wise virgins" will continue faithful to the espousal vows. Such will, in due time, be accepted of Christ as his glorious bride without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.
This beautiful figure of the Church's relationship to Christ is made very prominent in the Scriptures. See the invitation to become the bride in Psa. 45:10,11, and the promised joy and gladness of those who accept it and prove themselves worthy of it. Then read Paul's counsel to the husbands and wives who are truly wedded in the Lord: they two shall be one flesh – as one person, having but one mind and one common interest, purpose and aim. And for this purpose, to this end, each is to forsake the former ties which united them to parents and brothers and sisters. Then says the Apostle, "This is a great mystery" – it is something rarely seen, even among Christian husbands and wives – "but I speak concerning Christ and the Church," the Bridegroom and Bride between whom the union will be perfect. – Eph. 5:22-33.
Isaac and his wife, Rebecca, furnish a striking type of Christ and the Church as bridegroom and bride, to which we will refer later; and the Revelator points to the heavenly Jerusalem, the glorified Church, as the bride, the Lamb's wife.
The teaching of this oft-repeated and beautiful symbol, by which the Lord would have us understand and appreciate his great love and tender care for us as his Church, is so plain that it seems strange that any should fail to comprehend it; yet through a misapplication of a type some few have reached erroneous conclusions on the subject. Two of the dear friends of the truth think they have found new light on this subject, though their views differ somewhat, and both cannot be right.
One holds that the patriarchs and prophets of the past dispensation, mentioned in Heb. 11, will, in their resurrection, constitute the bride; and the other holds that the bride of Christ is to be composed of the living Israelites now regathering to Palestine, who, as we have seen, shall be the first to be blessed and restored to human perfection under the new Millennial dispensation. While dissimilar in some respects, these views are sufficiently alike to be examined together.
We reply (1), It would be impossible in God's order to call the bride before the bridegroom. It pleased the Father that in the [R1386 : page 100] Anointed One all fulness should dwell – that in all things he should have the pre-eminence. (2) It would be an incongruous and impossible union for the bridegroom to be spiritual, and the bride to be human. It would be out of harmony, too, with our Lord's prayer, "Father I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory;" and again, with his statements – "I go to prepare a place for you," and "I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there ye may be also." How could Bridegroom and Bride have fellowship and union, joint-heirship and joint-inheritance, if one were of the spiritual and the other of the human nature?
Both of the objecting friends recognize the force of the type to which we long ago called attention – that Abraham, Isaac and Rebecca represent Jehovah, Christ and the Bride. But both seem to have forgotten that a type must not be used to teach a doctrine, but merely to illustrate one that is already taught in plain terms.
Both proceed to claim that Isaac represented the entire Gospel Church – head and body – and that Rebecca, his bride, must therefore represent some other class. They claim that as we have shown, or rather as the Apostle has shown, that Sarah, Isaac's mother, was a type of the Abrahamic Covenant (Gal. 4:24,31), and as Sarah died before Eliezer was sent to seek a bride for Isaac, therefore the Gospel Covenant must come to an end before the call of the Bride; and hence that the calling of the Bride will be deferred until this Gospel age is ended. The fact that the servant is instructed not to take a wife for Isaac from among the Canaanites, but to go to Abraham's own kindred for her, they interpret to signify that the bride must be of the natural seed of Abraham, claiming accordingly that she could not be selected from Jews and Gentiles as the Gospel Church has been selected, but must be Jewish exclusively.
Let us see to it, beloved, that we are of those who hold the Head (Col. 2:19), who acknowledge in every thought and doctrine the preeminence of our Redeemer. He is the antitype of Isaac – not we. He, alone and apart from us, was the heir of all things. We were strangers to him and afar off, like Rebecca, when Christ (Isaac) became Lord of all and was highly exalted and given a name above every name, and when in consequence he could say, "All power in heaven and in earth is given unto me." Ah, yes! "Of the people there was none with him."
It is since he is thus Lord of all, and our Lord, that we or any have received an invitation from the Father to become his bride and joint-heir. To us the spirit of truth declares, as Eliezer declared to Rebecca and her family concerning Isaac – His Father is very rich, and all that he hath he has given to his Son – "He is Lord of all" the estate, and fully his Father's representative, and the Father now seeketh for him a bride and joint-heir.
And as in the type certain gold ornaments were presented to Rebecca from the moment that she entertained the good tidings, so with us: from the moment that we first gave ear to the Father's invitation or "high-calling" we have been blessed. The ornaments, being of gold, symbolize divine blessings, gold always symbolizing divine things. The golden adornments were first, earrings, representing the blessed effect of hearing the call; and secondly, bracelets for the hands, representing the blessed effect of the divine call upon all our doings thereafter.
And so these blessings came merely from the attentive hearing of the high call; and yet greater blessings followed when we accepted that call and said that we would leave our father's house (the human nature) and our own people (earthly friendships) and go to our Espoused One. (Psa. 45:9-11.) So in the type – when the decision was reached and Rebecca was "betrothed" or "espoused" to Isaac, whom having not seen she loved, the servant presented her with vessels of silver (symbolizing truths), and with further jewels or ornaments of gold (divine blessings and graces), and with new raiment, symbolizing her newness of life and relationship to the Father and the Son whose call she had accepted. – Gen. 24:22,53. [R1386 : page 101]
And as Rebecca's mother and brother also received some valuable presents from the servant of Abraham when she received her greater blessing, this symbolizes the fact that not only are the fully consecrated ones blessed when they leave all to accept the "high-calling," but others of the sympathizing ones of the household of faith (the justified, but not fully sanctified) also receive spiritual blessings through the betrothed class, even before the union with the Bridegroom.
It should be noted, then, that our friends are building their theories upon several misinterpretations. (1) Sarah's death before the Bride of Isaac was called would show that the promised "Seed" mentioned in the Abrahamic Covenant was fulfilled in the person of our Lord Jesus – the heir, and the only heir under that Covenant. (Heb. 1:2; Titus 3:5-7.) This the Apostle expresses clearly, saying – "He saith not, 'And to seeds,' as of many; but as of one, 'And to thy seed' – which is Christ." (Gal. 3:16.) That the Apostle here uses the name Christ to refer to our Lord Jesus personally, exclusive of his Church, is shown clearly by his further use of the word in the succeeding verses of this same chapter. See verses 22,24,26 and 27. In verses 28 and 29 he brings in the name Christ as applicable to all the Church, but in such a manner as to show that it is our coming into betrothal and union with him that gives us a share in that name and in the honors and glories future which it implies. "If ye be Christ's [if ye, like Rebecca, the type, have accepted the Father's offer to become joint-heirs with his Son, if ye have joyfully accepted the calling presented to you by the servant, the Spirit of Truth, and have forsaken all, and are fully betrothed to your Lord] then [not by being, like your Lord, natural heirs of those covenant blessings, but by your union with Christ] ye are Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise" [children of God, whom Abraham typified; and if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with, by and through Jesus Christ, our Lord].
In Eph. 5:28-30, the Apostle shows that for Christ to love his bride is to love himself, for in accepting the Church as his Bride the Lord [R1387 : page 101] accepts her as his own body, even as in the type of this (Adam and Eve and the human union), the wife is accepted as the very flesh of her husband and her body as an addition to his members – and the husband as her head. Thus, now, the consecrated, espoused ones while in the flesh represent Christ in the flesh; and in their daily sacrifices they are filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ (Col. 1:24); and by and by, when glorified, when made spirit-beings like their glorious Lord, they will be his glorified spouse and joint-heir, and still loved as himself – as members of his body.
Again, the view that the Bride must be of the natural seed of Abraham is a mistake. Rebecca was not of the seed of Abraham. If it had been the design to represent the Bride of Christ as being taken from among the Jews, the natural seed of Abraham, no doubt a daughter of Hagar, who represented the Jewish or Law Covenant, would have been chosen. On the contrary, when studying or applying a known type we should be sure not to mix type and antitype. Abraham as a part of the type represented God, and hence Abraham's own people represented God's people, as contrasted with the Canaanites, who represented the wilfully wicked. This feature of the type points out to us the fact that while God does call sinners to repentance, he does not call sinners to become joint-heirs with Christ, his Son and heir. To this close and glorious relationship he invites only those whom he recognizes as friends of righteousness and truth. In a word, this type confirms the teachings of the Apostles, that it is after we have been "justified by faith, and have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, that we have access into this grace [this call to joint-heirship with the Only Begotten Son and heir] wherein we stand – rejoicing in hope of [sharing] the glory of God." (Rom. 5:1,2.) Then we shall be fully united to him, and see him as he is, receive his name, which is above every name, and enter into (his mother Sarah's tent) the privileges and opportunities for blessing the world promised in the Abrahamic Covenant, represented by Sarah. – Gal. 4:24.
So, then, we have shown Scripturally (1) that [R1387 : page 102] Isaac primarily represented our Lord, the "heir of all things," personally, and no others; (2) that the joint-heirs were represented in Rebecca, his bride, who was his only joint-heir; (3) that Rebecca typified a class selected from among justified believers – believers in God (Abraham) and in Christ (Isaac) – which is true only of the household of faith and surely not true of the Jews; (4) that the Abrahamic Covenant, represented by Sarah, bore only one seed, which is Christ Jesus, and that it died or ceased as a mother when he had finished his course and become heir of all things; (5) that if we would become joint-heirs of the opportunity and honor (of being God's seed through whom the blessing of the world will come) contained in that Abrahamic Covenant, typified by Sarah, there is no other way than by becoming Christ's – by giving ourselves to him according to the Father's invitation by the spirit of the truth – losing our own name and taking his, and forgetting our father's house (earthly hopes and ambitions) and our own people and becoming wholly his – his Bride, whom he loves and will cherish as "his own body."
Next, let us look at the objection which seems to have led into the misinterpretations which we have here sought to correct. It is claimed that because the Church is sometimes called the body of Christ, of which Jesus is the head, it could not also be the Bride. Therefore, say the objectors, the Bride must be one class and the Body another class.
This at first has a show of logic, but we must not trust our imperfect minds to reason straight, if we wander away from the Word and forget that "thus it is written." We must compare spiritual things with spiritual things, as the Apostle directs, and let the Word of God be its own interpreter. Just as unreasonably might we say that if Christ is the "Good Shepherd" and we members of his Body, we could not also be "his sheep," or members of the "little flock" to whom it is the Father's good pleasure to give the Kingdom, and that the little flock could not be the Bride, because no shepherd ever marries his flock. Just as unreasonably we might say, too, that when Christ is termed the Captain of our salvation, and we "good soldiers," the soldiers must be another class; because it is said that we are the body of Christ and members in particular. Just as unreasonably might we argue that those whom Christ is not ashamed to call his "brethren" must be a different class from those called the Bride and the Body of Christ, because naturally a man does not marry his brethren, nor are they his own body. Just as unreasonably might we proceed to argue that a captain never marries his soldiers, and that hence the Bride, the Body, the Good Soldiers, the Brethren and the little flock of Sheep must be different classes. The same reasoning would also apply to the relationship of Christ as our great High Priest and ourselves as the Royal Priesthood under him; to Christ the Pearl Merchant and the Church the pearl; to Christ the Sower of the "good seed," and "wheat" the children of the Kingdom; to Christ the Chief Corner Stone and the overcoming Church the living stones builded up into him unto a holy temple of God; to Christ the vine and his people the branches.
A little reflection upon these facts will surely convince all that our friends were mistaken in concluding that because the Church in some places in Scripture is called "the body" she could not also with equal propriety be called "the bride" of Christ. Perhaps, indeed, their error may result (under the Lord's overruling providence) in bringing clearer views on the subject, not to themselves alone, but also to others of the Church.
The above figures, while very different, serve, each better than any other, to illustrate some peculiar feature either of the character of the Lord or of the Church, or of the relationship between them. For instance, as sheep the Church must be meek, willing to be led – not wayward, headstrong and perverse like goats; they must, however, not only be meek and docile and peace-loving like sheep, but like soldiers they must "fight a good fight" and overcome the world and its influence, conquering self and overcoming obstacles put in the way of their service for the Lord by the world and the devil. Sheep are not overcomers and overcomers are not sheepish; two opposite truths [R1387 : page 103] were to be taught and two opposite illustrations were necessary: as "sheep" we follow our Shepherd and gladly obey his word, and as "soldiers" of the cross we fight against all opposition that would hinder our following and obeying our Captain; but we fight the good fight – for truth and right and love, and not selfishly and with carnal weapons.
The figure of a body beautifully represents the intimate relationship existing between our Lord Jesus and his Church. He is the Head – he plans, directs, supervises and cares for the various members of his body, the Church, and all real members are dependent upon each other and upon the Head and are bound together by the ties of spiritual love and common interest. And although the Head has been actually absent for over eighteen hundred years, he has yet been present in his care and by his spirit, and representatively through certain members of the body upon whom he, in his absence, confers certain gifts representing his qualities and office as the head of the Church – the eye, the mouth, the ear members. (1 Cor. 12:15,21.) We should have missed much had the illustration of the Lord as the Head and the Church as his body been omitted. We are glad that no good thing or illustration helpful to those who would walk uprightly has been omitted.
And when once clearly seen and fully appreciated, we feel sure that none will regret the use by the Spirit of any figures used to show the Church and her relationship to her Lord – especially that representing her as the chaste virgin espoused to Christ and soon to be made one with him in nature and likeness and glory and work. As the figure of head and body represented the care of the Lord in and over the Church during his actual absence in "a far country," the figure of the betrothed or espoused virgin, longing for the coming of the Bridegroom and the consummation of her hopes and his promises, represents the actual state of the case far better. Like Rebecca we were already virgins, pure ones, whose sins had been pardoned (by the grace of God through the atoning sacrifice of Christ), and therefore of the household of faith, before we were called of the Spirit to go to him to become his Bride and joint-heir. Like her we each (and all of the faithful little flock from the first) have been betrothed to our Lord and are following on to know the Lord and to see him as he is and to share his glory – under the lead of the Spirit. Already we have exceeding great and precious promises, gifts and graces of the spirit, but we are not satisfied: we prize them and treasure them, but we think of them only as foretastes of the greater blessings to come when we shall enter fully into the joys of our Lord. We shall be satisfied only when we shall see him as he is – when we shall awake in his likeness. – 1 John 3:2; Psa. 17:15.
All along the journey, like Rebecca, the Church has been on the look-out for him whom, not having seen, she loved, and in whom, though she saw him not, yet she rejoiced with joy unspeakable and full of glory at the thought of the coming union. (1 Pet. 1:8.) And now, oh, blessed vision! our eyes of faith, like Rebecca's, are keen and we see one in the field (the world) approaching us. Like Rebecca, we ask our guide (the Spirit of truth) who it is – half surmising from the first that it is our Beloved, as we see his stately steppings among the nations and note the promised signs of his presence. The Spirit of the Lord through his Word is even now assuring us that what we see is "the sign [or manifestation] of the Son of [R1388 : page 103] Man," and that the hour of our rapture is near at hand. Soon we shall pass beyond the vail of death and be with him (See Gen. 24:64,65) and be accepted with him into the work and office of fulfilling the Covenant represented in Sarah. This in the type is shown by the entrance of Rebecca with Isaac into Sarah's tent.
When it is remembered that the Apostle refers to mother Eve as a likeness of the Church and father Adam as a figure of our Lord Jesus; and when we remember that in order to the development of Eve a deep sleep fell upon Adam and she was formed from his wounded side, we see a beautiful harmony between this type and the facts. In order that we should have a being at all and be capable of receiving a call to be the Bride of Christ, it was necessary that our Lord should die for us – the deep sleep of death came upon him, his side was riven [R1388 : page 104] as the price of our life, our existence – and being thus justified by his death we were acceptable to him as his Bride. When all the chaste, wise virgins (i.e., the "overcomers," the "good soldiers," the faithful, fruit-bearing members or "branches" of the "Vine," the obedient "sheep," the sacrificing royal "priests") have been selected and prepared and made ready for union with the Bridegroom, the marriage or glorification will be accomplished; and then the regeneration of the world will follow.
But here again some are inclined to err: comparing spiritual things with natural, they fall into the error of expecting that the world will be re-generated somewhat after the manner of the first generation or natural birth; and consequently they begin to wonder and speculate as to how the Bride of Christ will conceive and bring forth children during the Millennial age, and point to Adam and Eve and their offspring as an illustration of Christ and the Church and the re-generation of the world.
All this is a mistake, and comes from carrying a figure further than God intended, and further than the plain statements of his Word authorize. The expression regeneration does signify to give life again, but it in no way implies that it will be given in the same way as now. Adam was the first generator of his race: Christ is prepared to be the second father, the re-generator to such of the race as will accept the life he offers in his way and upon his conditions. The time for this offer of regeneration to the world will be in the Millennial age, as our Lord clearly shows. (Matt. 19:28.) He will then cause all to hear the good tidings that as they lost human perfection (mental, moral and physical) in Adam they may have their inherited condemnation blotted out, and may regain those blessings and favors lost, at the hands of Christ their Redeemer, by proving their desire to be at-one with God through him.
As during the Gospel age the Church, the Bride, is regenerated and begotten to a new nature by faith in and obedience to certain exceeding great and precious promises limited to this age, so in the next age other precious promises of earthly restitution will be the begetting influence by obedience to which, under God's arrangement, they shall be re-generated and restored to the original likeness and harmony with God.
The figure of the Bridegroom and the Bride is at an end when they twain are made one. To carry this figure further and talk about children of the Bride is unwarranted by the Scriptures, and is unjustifiable speculation. We would have just as much right to speculate further about the Lord's "sheep," and to say that sheep are cared for in order to get their wool and finally for the shepherd to sell off or to kill and eat, and that, therefore, after a while all the Church will be so dealt with by our Good Shepherd.
If the type of Adam and Eve and their union, representing the union to be accomplished between Christ and his Church, did not end at that union, but continued and included the bearing of children, then the sin of Adam and Eve and their expulsion from Eden must also be parts of the type, which must be fulfilled on a still more awful scale than the type. But, we repeat, the type ended when Adam accepted of Eve as his wife – when they became one; for this final union or oneness and joint-heirship, between Christ and his faithful followers, is all that was intended to be typified.
Just so, too, with the type of Isaac and Rebecca: it ends where Isaac receives his espoused into his mother's tent, and does not extend to the long-time barrenness of Rebecca; nor to the two kinds of twin sons (who figure in an entirely different type, as the Apostle shows); nor to the blind old age of Isaac, and his deception by Rebecca and Jacob.
The majority of the figures used apply to and illustrate matters of the present age, and terminate with this age; being finished, they are either dropped or merged into other figures which better represent the changed condition of affairs beyond the present age. When the new conditions have been ushered in, there will no longer be use for the symbols which now serve so well to illustrate the true Church, such as "good fish," "wise virgins," "good soldiers," "vine-branches," "sheep," "wheat," [R1388 : page 105] etc. In connection with the parable of the harvesting of the "wheat" class the Lord clearly shows this change of illustration; for, instead of speaking further of glorified wheat, he changes and uses the sun as a more appropriate figure, saying: "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the Sun in the kingdom of their father." Just so with the figure of "the Bride, the Lamb's wife." It is used repeatedly in reference to the Church during the period of her espousal, but ceases and is merged into another symbol or figure with the end of this age.
Those who have but an imperfect knowledge of the old Jewish usage in marriage, which is the basis of the illustration, might suppose that the Church could not be appropriately or properly likened to the Bride or wife until the marriage. This would be true according to present custom; but the Jewish custom fits the facts much better, and was doubtless so arranged of God as a type. This old custom was for the father or some friend of the man to make a contract, arrange terms, etc., for him with the one to be invited to become his wife and joint-heir. Such a one was called "the friend of the Bridegroom." With them this contract constituted the real marriage, but the contracting parties lived apart usually for a year, after which came the wedding feast celebrating their union, and thereafter they lived together. John the Baptist at our Lord's first advent occupied the position of "friend of the Bridegroom" toward the Jewish nation – seeking to have them accept of Christ the Bridegroom and become his Bride. (John 3:29.) The nation as a whole rejected the offer, but a small remnant of them (the apostles, etc.) accepted, and also became in turn the friends of the Bridegroom, the mouthpieces of the Spirit to seek among God's people – believing Gentiles included – for the chaste, wise virgins and to espouse such to Christ – telling them of "the riches of grace in Christ Jesus." While the Church as a whole is sometimes spoken of as one virgin, because the marriage to be completed soon will be with one Lord, yet each faithful individual of the Church is recognized as a wise virgin, and really, each is individually and separately espoused to the Lord. This is clearly stated by the Apostle in Rom. 7:4. "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the Law by the body [sacrifice] of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead."
So then the work of espousing "wise virgins" to Christ as to a husband has been in progress throughout the entire Gospel age; and each espoused one is in turn permitted to serve in another capacity – as a "friend of the Bridegroom" to tell others of the great privilege and, co-operating with the Spirit of the truth, to say, "Come," to whomsoever will. (See Rev. 22:17,20.) And the living representatives of this class at any time have constituted, properly speaking, the Bride or Church, although the Church or Bride will not be actually complete without all the members. As in Jewish custom the espoused virgin was called a Bride from the time of her consent or contract with the Bridegroom, so the espoused virgin Church is called Christ's Bride – before the consummation of their union. Accordingly, the Scriptures speak of the marriage feast coming after the "wife hath made herself ready." – Rev. 19:7.
In Rev. 18:23, when speaking of Babylon's fall, it is declared that the voice of the Bridegroom and the voice of the Bride shall no more be heard in her: clearly showing that previously they had spoken in and through Babylon, the confused class, and that the names Bridegroom and Bride were applicable before Babylon's fall and before the marriage feast.
In Rev. 21:9 we are invited to "come hither" to the yet future standpoint and get a view of the Bride, the Lamb's wife, and see how she will then appear. "And he showed me the holy city Jerusalem descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God." This, it will be noted, is given to mark the change of the symbol from a Bride to a City; just as elsewhere the figure was shown to change from "wheat" to "the Sun." A city is a symbol of a government, and the calling of it the New Jerusalem city would signify – The new, antitypical government of peace. There has been no occasion for the use of such a symbol during the Gospel age, because the Church has not [R1388 : page 106] been in ruling power; and when glorified with her Lord the figure of a virgin-bride waiting for full union with the Bridegroom will no longer be appropriate as now; hence the change from the one symbol to the other.
The Old Testament makes several references like the above to some union or Covenant between Jehovah and Israel. See Isa. 54:1-6; [R1389 : page 106] Ezek. 16:32; Jer. 3:14; Hosea 2:2-7,14-20. The contracting parties are Jehovah and Israel, but the reference to a union is in a less particular sense than the New Testament references to Christ and the Bride, the Lamb's wife. Indeed, the word husband as above simply means caretaker. In another place Judah is represented as being the unfaithful husband. (Mal. 2:11-15.) In Isa. 62:3-5, in representing the future blessing of the land of Israel, the figure is changed, and it is said that her sons shall marry her, and that she shall be as a lamp and as a crown in the Lord's hand, and that he will rejoice over the restored land like as a Bridegroom rejoices over his bride.
Here we are shown clearly that the barren woman who is to be blessed and to bring forth children and to sing, and whose Maker is her husband, refers neither to the people of fleshly Israel nor to the people of spiritual Israel. The Apostle declares the whole thing "an allegory," a figure, a type; and he explains the figure. Abraham was a type of God and Abraham's wives were types of God's Covenants. The covenant first declared was the Gospel Covenant, by which God promised to bless the world through the promised Seed, which is Christ. This covenant was typified by Sarah. But this promise has been barren for a long time – all the families of the earth have not been blessed, although nearly four thousand years have elapsed since God recognized that covenant and swore by himself to bring forth such results. Meantime (430 years after recognizing this covenant – Gal. 3:17) God made another covenant – not so great, however, nor by any means so good a covenant as the former – the Law Covenant. This covenant was typified in Hagar, Sarah's servant.
For a time it appeared that the children of the Law Dispensation (fleshly Israel) were the full inheritors of the first promise or covenant, as Hagar bore Ishmael for Sarah and upon her knees as her representative. In the type, Ishmael passed for a time as Abraham's son and heir, just as Israel after the flesh for centuries appeared to be the promised children of God in whom all nations should be blessed. But not so was God's plan, according to which the offspring of Hagar the servant represented a servant class, while the offspring of Sarah represented a class of sons and heirs.
The Hagar Covenant, the Law Covenant, did bring forth some noble servants of the Lord – "Moses verily was faithful as a servant over all his house" [of servants], but few in all – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the holy prophets down to John. (Heb. 3:1-6.) There the Sarah Covenant began to bear: Christ our Lord was begotten and born of the Spirit and became Son and Lord and heir of all – Christ as a Son over his own house [also sons], whose house are we if we hold fast to our hope, firm unto the end of our trial.
As Sarah had but one son, so the covenant which she represented has but one "Seed, which is Christ," which, however, under God's gracious provision, is made to include all such as are accepted through Christ to be his "brethren." But the promise includes not only the development and blessing of the Seed, but also the blessing of all the families of the earth through that Seed, and hence, as the Apostle shows, it was the whole gospel in few words. – Gal. 3:8.
The Hagar or Law Covenant was again fitly represented by the rocky, barren Mt. Sinai, where the Law was given and where the Servant House was organized as a nation. It was also represented by the capital city of that nation, Jerusalem – which was continually besieged and in captivity. So says the Apostle: the Sarah Covenant is represented in "the exalted Jerusalem" [R1389 : page 107] – the Kingdom soon to come into power to bless the world – whose offspring and heirs through Christ we already are. This is the city (i.e., government) of which Christ shall be the head, the city of the Great King of which Jerusalem the literal was but an imperfect type.
Abraham and others of the ancient worthies believed God, that he would establish righteousness in the earth, and that under his righteous government they would fully realize all that God had promised them. It is under this perfect city or government from God, through Christ, that they shall find a country (literally, a home) which could never have come under the imperfect city (government) of bondage which was typified by Hagar. (See Heb. 11:16.) Nevertheless, these all have been waiting for the true seed and heir (Christ) to come, and until his Church, his Bride, shall be selected and united with him; because it is by and through us, "the Seed," that the Kingdom shall come and all their good hopes be fulfilled. – Heb. 11:39,40.
But much of the Sarah Covenant is still future. Christ has become heir of all things, but he has not yet used his great power and reigned; he has not yet entered fully into the glory of his high office. He has finished the sacrificial features of his work and all things are ready for the consequent work of blessing the world; but he waits, according to the Father's plan, until his "brethren," his "body," his Bride, shall be selected and have herself ready. And we, his espoused – what of us? We are coming to him and to the Kingdom which he and the Father have promised; we are running the race for the great prize of our high calling to joint-heirship in his divine nature and glory. We are not, filled with fearful apprehensions, approaching Mt. Sinai with its thunders and with its Law which none could keep, but we are approaching a very different condition of things, which should and does fill our hearts with rejoicing. We are approaching Mount Zion [the Kingdom of Zion], the city [government] of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to [association with] an innumerable company of angels – a full assembly – and to the gathering together of the Church of first-born ones, having been enrolled in the heavens, and to a Judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to the Mediator of the New Covenant – Jesus – and to the blood of sprinkling which speaketh better things than that of Abel [which speaks our pardon and peace instead of crying for just vengeance]. This, beloved, is what for eighteen hundred years and more we have been approaching, and which now, thank God, we are very near. But the world is approaching another manifestation of divine power, more terrible than that at Sinai, and of which that was but the illustration – a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation – no, nor ever shall be again – a trouble in which both the symbolic earth (society) and the symbolic heavens (ecclesiasticism) shall be shaken and utterly removed, to make room for our Kingdom which shall never be shaken, because founded by love and mercy upon principles of justice.
The climate of Jerusalem surprises us. It is pleasantly cool at night, and, although hot at midday, it is decidedly cooler than we had expected to find it. The mountain air is very pure and invigorating. Jerusalem is a mountain city – in the tops of the mountains. The four mountain-tops or hills within the present walls evidently represented four small cities at one time, each with its own wall – Mt. Moriah, Mt. Zion, Mt. Acra, Mt. Bezetha, all surrounded by a general wall. The city at one time may have been nearly a half larger than at present, including more of Bezetha on the northwest and more of Zion on the southwest. The difficulty in determining arises from the fact that the city has been destroyed and rebuilt so many times. Excavations in various directions continually reveal old fragments of [R1389 : page 108] walls or cisterns or other ruins, sometimes fifty or even seventy feet below the present surface. The Tyropean valley is now almost level full of debris upon which houses have been built and inhabited these many years.
At first the city of Jerusalem is disappointing. It is built after the manner of Arabian cities generally. The streets are mere alleyways, and are not depended on for ventilation, except for the small shops or bazars. The dwellings merely connect with the street by a door or an occasional window. The inhabitants seem to rely for light and ventilation upon inner courts from which access is had to the various apartments. The present buildings, aside from those of the various religious societies and government and hotel buildings, are generally very inferior; yet one is sometimes surprised at the contrast between the outside and the inside of some of them. Nor need we be surprised if, as the people become degraded, their ideas of architecture also depreciated. Certainly the very ancient ruins from time to time uncovered exhibit more of art and dignity than do the modern stone structures.
The present population is said to be fifty thousand. To suppose that it ever contained a million people, as Josephus intimates, one would be obliged to conclude  that the city was larger than at present;  that then as now the people here lived more closely than in American or European cities (except in the quarters of the very poor);  that the siege was at the time of a feast which drew many people to Jerusalem from all parts of Palestine and from outside countries;  that the people from suburban villages crowded into the [R1390 : page 108] city for protection from the Romans; and  that Solomon's quarries and stables would, in such an emergency, shelter fifty thousand people.
One is impressed from the first with the fact that Religion is the chief business of Jerusalem. Our guide informs us that there are over seventy convents. These, representing various religious factions, all seem to be imbued with the one error – viz.: that their duty in life is to pray much and often and to do nothing. Each sect thanks God that it is not as the others and especially not like the poor people who do a little honest work, and, according to divine arrangement, earn their bread by sweat of face. Few of them esteem very highly the great apostle who wrote against those "forbidding to marry" and those "who labor not at all." These very religious people all claim to live by faith; but the opinion of "the common people" is that they enjoy many of the substantials and even of the luxuries of the present life. Of course all claim that they trust to God for food and clothing; but from their craftiness many believe that their faith rests largely upon the credulity of their fellowmen, whose large and warmer hearts are moved by misplaced sympathy to assist them. These, without exception, we believe, claim to practice celibacy. They are supported by friends and religious orders in Europe and America, and by the liberal donations of visitors, who regard them as martyrs. They include Catholics of all shades, Greek, Roman, Armenian and Syrian, "the Americans," "the Germans" (or Society of the Temple) and Mohammedans. The Armenian convent on Zion Street is the largest. It can accommodate with lodgings about eight thousand pilgrims. The pilgrims, especially of the Greek and Armenian churches, come in great numbers at the Passover anniversary of our Lord's death.
We enter the city at the Jaffa gate, the nearest to our hotel, on the way passing large numbers of new buildings erected by Jewish societies and others, and much more modern looking than those within the walls. The new outside portion is known as new Jerusalem. The Jaffa gate is the busiest of the city's gates: it is thronged with people and camels and donkeys and trades-folk carrying and crying their wares, especially eatables, and with cripples and blind seeking alms. Our dragoman leads the way to clear a path for us, and must repeatedly shout "O-ah!" (i.e., "Look out!" or "Take care!") to camel and donkey drivers, to prevent our being run over or jammed between a donkey's and a camel's burden and the wall; for we are not, like the natives, accustomed to looking out for ourselves and dodging.
Here, near the gate we have entered, is the Tower of David or the stronghold of Zion. [R1390 : page 109] (2 Sam. 5:7.) Opposite is a large new building erected in 1886. It is occupied by stores below and a hotel above, and was the first modern building erected in Jerusalem for other than religious purposes. In excavating for its foundations the ruins and foundation of the Tower of Hananeel were discovered, and it is built partly upon the old wall of the Tower. Now read the Lord's promises – Jer. 31:27,38-40: Zech. 14:9-12.
Passing along Zion Street we come to a building with a black dome said to be built over the cave where David, Solomon and many others of Israel's kings were buried. (1 Kings 2:10.) The tomb is in the possession of the Mohammedans, who permit no one to enter it. A large room above it, thirty by fifty feet, is accessible, however, and we enter it. This "upper room" is reputed to be the one where our Lord ate the Last Supper with his disciples, and where they tarried after his ascension and were anointed with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It is supposed that it was here that Peter preached the discourse in which he remarked that David's sepulchre was still with them. (Acts 2:29.) In memory of the Lord's washing of the disciples' feet in this "upper room," Roman Catholic monks now wash the feet of some pilgrims, yearly, on the Anniversary.
Our guide says that a splendid view of the city can be had from the housetop of "the Americans." They welcome us to enter, and we thankfully avail ourselves of their kindness. They invite us to sit down, and our conversation naturally drifts into religious channels, the Lord's promises to the land and the people. They give us a poor account of the missionaries, and declare that they do harm rather than good to the natives, all of whom, they aver (except those in their employ), despise them. As to the nature of their sins, we can learn no particulars, except that they are haughty and lordly in their bearing toward the poor natives. The Bishop of the Church of England (imitating the Patriarchs of the Greek and Roman Catholic churches), when passing through the streets, is preceded by two servants, one of whom carries a whip to clear the way while the other shouts to make way for the superior. Among independent-minded people, such as the Arabs, we can readily see that such a course would win but few hearts, even though long accustomed to such treatment from Turkish government officials. The Americans declare that they are there to live before the people true Christian lives, and believe they are doing more for the cause of Christ than the missionaries. This seems good, and we are greatly interested in them and inquire concerning the nature of their work. To our surprise, they have "no work," no mission among the poor, ignorant people who so much need instruction and help. Their idea seems to be that living good lives consists in living as "a unity" – as one family, trusting in the Lord to supply their needs. They claim that thus they follow Christ's footsteps, who had not where to lay his head, and that the early Church had formed a unity. (Acts 4:32-37.) We answer that the Lord went about doing good and had to be about the Father's business; point out that the principle of community, tried in the early Church, had not been taught by Christ; that it had failed; and that the Apostles nowhere taught that such communities were to be formed. In proof we cite Paul's advice that men labor with their own hands, that they may have to give to those in need (Eph. 4:28), and that for charities each should lay by him, on the first day of the week, according as the Lord had prospered him. (1 Cor. 16:2.) We urge that these instructions are opposed to "community." They do not like Paul so well, so we refer to our Lord's dying words to John, in obedience to which John took Mary to "his own house" (John 19:27), proving that our Lord had neither taught nor practised communism, although that will be more nearly the practice of the future. But when they find the sword of the spirit too sharp for their theory, they say they fear that discussion is not profitable. We realize the shrewdness and worldly-wisdom of their leader in this and other matters, and, remembering that the Lord had said, He that hath an ear, let him hear, we conclude that it is his will that we say no more to these who, at present, have no ear for the truth.
LESSON III., APRIL 17, PSALM 19:1-14.
It is good to meditate upon, to ponder, the Word of the Lord; for only in so doing can we receive the nourishment it is designed to give. A hasty reading of the Scriptures and a quick return of the mind to other thoughts and pursuits makes a spiritual dyspeptic, incapable of assimilating the spirit of the truth and lacking the strength and power of mature and developed Christian character. The Psalmist beautifully represents the proper attitude of all those who truly love the Lord, and who therefore delight in his Word and plan: "His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night;" "I will meditate of all thy work, and talk of thy doings;" "I will meditate in thy precepts and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word;" "Thy testimonies are my delight and my counsellors;" "I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands;" "O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day; ...therefore I hate every false way....Thy testimonies have I taken as a heritage forever;" "My meditation of them shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord." – Psa. 1:2; 77:12; 119:15,16,24; 143:5; 119:97,104,111; 104:34.
Here, as well as in the lesson under consideration, the two great books of nature and of revelation are pointed out as special themes for the meditation of those who love the Lord and who desire to know more of him.
Verses 1-6 refer to the silent yet eloquent testimony of nature to the power and skill and wisdom and goodness and glory of its divine Author. Its testimony may be read by the thoughtful of every land and of every language, by day and by night, in all the earth. "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork." Job, considering the testimony of nature to the glory of God, says, "He is wise in heart and mighty in strength...which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and the Pleiades, and the chambers of the south; which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number." (Job 9:4,9,10.) And the Lord, desiring to reassure Job of his superior power and grace, inquires of him, "Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of [R1391 : page 110] Orion? Canst thou bring forth the constellations of the Zodiac, each in its season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons? Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? or dost thou appoint its rule on earth?" – Job 38:31-33.
Thus, by their numberless multitude, their orderly grouping in various constellations, their continual yet never conflicting movements, their perfect harmony, their magnitude and their mutual benign influence, do the shining hosts of heaven declare the glory of God, by day and by night. He who meditates upon these things will scarcely be "the fool" who saith "in his heart, There is no God;" for all nature testifies to the Creator's glory and power.
Verses 7-11 refer us to the yet superior glory of God's special written revelation of himself, given through his inspired human agents, the prophets and the apostles. This testimony not only declares the existence and power and wisdom of God, with a silent intimation of his goodness and grace, but with overwhelming force it bears to the thoughtful mind the convincing testimony of all his glorious attributes and of all his love and grace toward us in Christ.
Hear the Psalmist: "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul." Other influences may lead to temporary and partial changes of course and action, but nothing else equals God's revealed Truth in producing a change – change of being, character, soul. It is because other converting agencies and powers are so often used (instead of this one which God has provided) that there are so many merely glossed-over, nominal Christians, as compared with the few whose entire beings are turned and fully consecrated to the Lord. People may be converted from savagery to civilization by a general knowledge; or from intemperance to sobriety by a study of the advantages of the latter over the former; or from dishonesty to honesty by learning that "Honesty is the best policy." But none of these are soul conversions. Only God's truth can produce soul conversion, as also our Lord indicates in his prayer, "Sanctify them through thy truth – thy word is truth."
"The testimony of the Lord is sure [not doubtful, but clear and positive], making wise [R1391 : page 111] [not the heady and wilful who have plans and theories of their own and who do not submit themselves to the will and plan of God, but] the simple" [the single hearted who have no will or plan of their own which they wish the Lord to adopt, but who seek the Lord's will only].
"The statutes [piqqudim – appointments: the appointed plans] of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart." Yes, indeed, God's glorious, appointed plan of the ages rejoices the hearts of all who have come to a knowledge of it.
"The judgments [mishpat – ordinances or decrees] of the Lord are true; they are altogether righteous. More to be desired are they than gold; yea, than much fine gold: and they are sweeter than honey and the droppings of the honeycomb." Once, following the leadings of mistaken teachers, and catechisms, we thought of God's "Eternal Decrees" only with horror, supposing that they provided for the salvation of but a mere handful of our race and for the everlasting misery of the masses. But what a change since the eyes of our understandings are opened. God's decrees are sweet to our taste, we appreciate them greatly, we see that he has decreed a Great Savior and a great salvation, open to every creature's acceptance; and that he has provided that all shall be brought to a clear knowledge of the truth, that they may have the fullest opportunity for everlasting life upon the only condition God can make – righteousness.
"Moreover, by them [by the judgments or decrees of the Lord as to the course of righteousness and unrighteousness and their rewards and penalties] is thy servant [the thoughtful servant, who meditates on these things] warned; and in keeping them [in remembering and harmonizing with them] there is great reward."
Thus the Book of Nature and the Book of Revelation, when rightly read, harmoniously declare the glory of God; and blessed is the man whose character is ennobled and purified and blessed by constant meditation on these glorious themes. How it refreshes and strengthens every noble and generous aspiration, checks every tendency to evil and sin, purifies the heart, kindles hope, awakens zeal and starts and keeps us in the heavenly race with its glorious end in view. The great Emperor of this wonderful universe upon which we daily and nightly cast our wondering gaze has called even us to be the bride of and joint-heir with his only begotten Son, the heir of all things; and in these glorious revelations of himself is supplied the inspiration and instruction necessary to enable us to run with patience the race set before us, if we make them the centre of our meditations.
Verse 12 – "Who [in his own strength or by his own wisdom and foresight] can guard against errors?" Not one; for as the Apostle Paul tells us, we have our treasure, the new nature, in earthen vessels. Not only are we weak, mentally, morally and physically, but in addition we have a wily foe: we wrestle not merely with flesh and blood, but also against principalities and unseen spiritual powers, strongly entrenched in places of power and influence. (Eph. 6:12.) Who, indeed, is strong enough in himself to guard against errors of doctrine and practice strongly entrenched in a misguided and depraved public opinion, fortified by the tendencies of his own impaired conditions of mind and heart and skilfully glossed over by the great deceiver who, with untiring effort, seeks to accomplish our deception and overthrow? Who, indeed, is sufficient for these things? The inquiry of the Psalmist implies the answer – Not one. In our own strength we cannot presume to stand, and therefore how appropriate the prayer: –
Verses 12-13. "From secret faults do thou cleanse me. Also from presumptuous sins do thou restrain thy servant; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression."
Sins of presumption are such as result from undue self-confidence, ambition or pride. Many are guilty of them without seemingly being aware of the fact: They presume in prayer to direct the Lord how they want to have numbers join some sect, whose existence God never authorized; or they say how many they want to have converted at a certain meeting; or they instruct him how the Foreign Missions should be blessed and what results they shall expect.
Others presume to decide what God intends to do aside from what his Word authorizes, and will perhaps pass lightly over such a doctrine as that of the Second Death if it stands in the way of a favorite theory which they have prepared for the Lord to follow. This is presumptuous sin.
Others, on the other hand, tell that God will everlastingly preserve the wicked in torture, and thus they are in error from attempting to be wise above what is written. Is not this a presumptuous sin?
Such presumptuous sins bring natural consequences: [R1391 : page 112] the presumptuous lose respect for that which they can do without, or can twist and turn to their own convenience. As respect for the exactness of the Bible is lost the presumption naturally increases and finds more pronounced expression in their self-assurance. Some, indeed, go so far as to interpret the language of Scripture the opposite of the way in which it reads, to favor the ideas of the presumer, whatever they may be. Thus one will read that certain wilful sinners who sin against full light and knowledge "shall be punished with everlasting destruction," and "in the second death," and will unblushingly assert that these words mean the reverse – that they mean everlasting preservation in life and in torment. Others, to support an opposite theory, will claim that the Second Death means a second blessing, and that when it is declared that at the end of the Millennial age of trial all those whose names are not found written in the Book of Life – the fearful, the unbelieving, the abominable, those who in spirit are whoremongers, murderers, sorcerers, and idolaters, and all who love lies and take pleasure in making them – that when these are said to be cast into the Second Death, it means that they will be blessed, sanctified and ushered into glory.
Ah! yes, beloved, this sin of presumption is one into which many who have been enlightened by a knowledge of the plan of God are inclined to fall. Instead of carefully noting and thoughtfully considering those scriptures which, while they recognize their superior advantage and special favor from God in a knowledge of the truth, also warn them of the great danger of those thus enlightened (since the present is the judgment-day of all such, who stand on trial for life, with the alternative of the second death before them) – instead of carefully observing these (See Heb. 6:4-8; 10:26-31; Rev. 2:11; 20:6), they ignore them, and, presumptuously leaning to their own understanding, proceed to reason in this wise: – They say, The Scriptures tell us that "God is love," so loving that he has provided salvation for all mankind. So far they say truly; but here leaving the Scriptures they begin to reason – as they claim, to the glory of God, though nothing can be to the glory of God which perverts or denies any portion of inspired truth. They say, "Yes, and we have faith (?) to believe that his love is so powerful [R1392 : page 112] that not one rebellious sinner can ever get away from it; and if one millennium is not sufficient to reform him then he shall have another and another; for all must be saved." But here are the Bible warnings of a Second Death for wilful sinners, and coupled with the statement, too, that Christ dieth no more and that, consequently, such can never be redeemed again, if found worthy of the second death for their own wilful sins, committed with full knowledge and with full responsibility. The redemption provided in Christ is complete and for all, providing full salvation for every child of Adam from all the penalties and weaknesses sustained through Adam's disobedience and fall from divine favor. But having had such a salvation put fully within their reach, each is thereafter responsible exactly as was Adam; and each is subject to the same penalty – death – if wilfully disobedient. This is called the second death because it is the penalty of wilful sin under the second trial.
But the presumptuous ones grow more arrogant and self-assertive and take the further step of denying the necessity of a ransom, claiming that the death of Christ did not redeem us from the first death, that we were not bought with a price, that they had formerly made a mistake in thinking so, and that their imitation of Christ's life is all that divine justice can demand of them or of any man. Thus they do despite to the spirit of grace manifested by Jehovah in the gift of his only begotten Son, our Redeemer, and presume to stand in the filthy rags of their own righteousness. – Isa. 64:6.
They fall into this great error in their attempt to establish their presumptuous theory. For they see that if it be admitted that the penalty of sin was death when Adam was tried, and if the death of Christ was necessary as the payment of that penalty before any could be pardoned, granted liberty to become sons of God or be resurrected (Rom. 3:24-26; Col. 1:20-22; 1 Cor. 15:21,22), then, since God changes not, there could be no hope of escape from the second death except by the payment of a second ransom-price for each one so sentenced.
Thus presumptuous sins pervert the judgment, make void the Scriptures and lead to "the great transgression" of "counting the blood of the covenant wherewith we were sanctified a common thing." (Heb. 10:29.) In view of such temptations and tendencies, let the consecrated ever bear in mind that their only safety is in meekness and humility, clinging close to the word of the Lord; and in meditating on its precepts and pondering over all their solemn and momentous import. – "Then shall" they "be upright, and they shall be innocent from the great transgression." And let the constant prayer of all such be –
Verse 14. "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."
PUBLISHED TWICE A MONTH.
SUBSCRIPTION PRICE $1.00 A YEAR, IN ADVANCE,
(INCLUDES ALSO A SUBSCRIPTION TO TWO COPIES OF OLD THEOLOGY TRACTS QUARTERLY)
By Express Order, Postal Money Order, Bank Draft, or Registered Letter. Foreign only by Foreign Money Order.
N.B. – Those of the interested, who by reason of old age or accidents, or other adversity, are unable to pay, will be supplied FREE, if they will send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper.
The Convention for Bible Study and for commemorating our Lord's death, recently announced to be held in Allegheny from April 7th to 14th, is just closed. It has been one of the most interesting of the kind ever held here or perhaps anywhere; for we may scarcely except the gatherings of the early Church in the days of the Apostles.
In numbers the meeting was greater than any of its predecessors – about two hundred attending from neighboring cities, towns and states, in addition to about the same number of home residents. And all these we may safely count as interested ones, because others were invited to stay away.
The visitors came various distances, and represented the following states: Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Manitoba Canada, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Dakota, Colorado, Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, Iowa and Michigan. [R1393 : page 114] This meeting seemed to surpass its predecessors in spiritual tone, if that were possible – but the last always seems to be the best.
The meetings began at six o'clock on the morning of the 7th, in the various bedrooms where the friends were billeted, and continued during breakfast until nine o'clock, the hour of the public meeting – from which the time until ten o'clock was devoted to prayer, praise and exhortation. The morning session for Bible study began at ten o'clock and lasted until one. The afternoon session began at three o'clock and lasted until six. Then came a luncheon and chat followed by evening session for testimony, praise and mutual rejoicing. The latter we endeavored to close at nine o'clock, but sometimes they continued until after eleven. Even after retiring some could not restrain themselves to sleep and let others sleep. And at and between all of these meetings, the topic was the love and plan of God, the centre of that love and plan – the cross of Christ, the blessings already ours through it, the blessings yet to flow from it to the world, and the consecration of heart and every talent to the service of this loving God, this gracious plan and this mighty Savior.
All seemed to show on their faces what they attested with their voices – that their hearts were full and overflowing with the love of God and Christ, resulting from the fact that the light of the glory of God as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord had shined into their hearts. The Bible study sessions lasted for five days and were followed by two days of conference by and with the Colporteurs relative to their important part in the harvest work. Five new workers decided to give their time in this blessed service which the Master has so signally blessed. Each pledged himself to earnest service to our Redeemer and King during the year beginning, and promised to remember one another continually at the throne of grace.
A number of letters containing money have recently been lost in the mails. Do not send us money. The postoffice clerks are not all honest, although many of them are so. Thieves can feel the money in the envelope and are tempted thereby to steal. Send Bank Drafts, Money Orders or Express Orders, if you would make sure of our receiving what you send.
|VOL. XIII.||APRIL 15, 1892.||NO. 8.|
"And he said to them, "O thoughtless and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Was it not necessary for the Messiah to have suffered these things, and to enter his glory? And beginning at Moses, and through all the prophets, he explained to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself." – Luke 24:25-27.
The occasion of this utterance will be remembered: our Lord thus addressed two of his disciples on the way from Jerusalem to Emmaus after his resurrection. They were discussing the strange and wonderful event of the few days previous, when a stranger suddenly drew near and, walking with them, said, "What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another as ye walk and are sad?" And, not recognizing the stranger as the Lord himself, one of them said, "Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?" And he said unto them, "What things?" And they said unto him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to-day is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre, and when they found not his body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. And some of those with us went to the sepulchre and found it even as the women had said; but him they saw not."
Then follow our Lord's words, "O thoughtless and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Was it not necessary for the Messiah to have suffered these things, and to enter his glory?" The necessity of those things was the great lesson which he endeavored to impart to these confused and bewildered, but earnest, disciples.
From the standpoint of Christians to-day the necessity of those things is much more easily discerned than from the standpoint of the early disciples, in close proximity to those marvelous events. But, nevertheless, there are some to-day also who thoughtlessly stumble into very erroneous conclusions drawn from a reckless and heedless interpretation of the Master's plain teaching. They say, Yes, it was necessary for Christ to suffer because the path of suffering is the only path to glory. Christ had to suffer and so all must suffer; and the glory will follow as a natural consequence, as these words of the Lord teach. This is a very plausible argument to many who lean too much to their own understanding. A more reflective mind would say, No, that is not sound logic; for the glory of Jehovah was not attained through suffering; nor was that of the angels, nor was that of the Son of God in his pre-human existence thus attained. And a more attentive mind would say, No, that was not the ground of necessity for his sufferings to which the Lord referred; for he called attention to [R1393 : page 116] the divinely inspired prophecies which of necessity must be thus fulfilled. The suffering was necessary, because it was a feature of Jehovah's plan for human redemption, and was so expressed by the prophets; and we know that unless it were a feature of that plan, Jehovah would not have required it. The Apostle Paul tells why it was necessary to the plan, saying that it was in order to manifest Jehovah's righteousness in remitting the sins of the already condemned world, showing that he is just, and yet the justifier of the condemned ones who believe in Jesus, whom God set forth to be a propitiation, a satisfaction, a substitute for them – who also freely gave his life as a man, his humanity, a ransom for the many – for the numerous posterity of Adam who had inherited his sin and condemnation.
Hear again the significant query of the Master, "Was it not necessary for the Messiah to have suffered these things?" The query is designed to awaken the thoughtless to a close observance of the justice and wisdom of Jehovah's course in this matter. Suppose for a moment that God had promised mankind salvation from death without this, which our Lord terms a "necessary" provision, what would have been the result? Thoughtful minds will at once see that such a course would have proved (1) That God is a changeable God, declaring at one time that the wages of sin is death, and afterwards reversing his decision and granting life to the condemned; (2) That either in the first or in the second case he was unjust – either that the penalty of death was too severe and therefore unjust, or else, if it were not unjust but a righteous penalty, that he was unjust in reversing such a righteous decision; (3) Such a variable course would unsettle all confidence in God. We would be continually led to question his righteousness and wisdom, and could never feel assured against a sudden and unaccountable change of his attitude and dealing toward us. If he promised us life and happiness today, we could not know that to-morrow he would not take back his word and consign us to misery or death.
Such would have been our sad condition had not this necessity to which our Lord referred been fully met by the sufferings, even unto death, of "the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all," in compliance with the wise and just plan of God for human redemption. (1 Tim. 2:6.) By this means mankind is justly released from the just penalty which God pronounced against us; for a loving, benevolent Redeemer took our human nature and then sacrificed it in our behalf – thus bearing, in our room and stead, the exact penalty due to Adam and inherited from him by all his posterity. Thus our debt was paid, and all who have faith to believe in the promise of life through Christ are now legally free from the condemnation under which they were born, though the appointed time for their actual release has not yet come. They hold in their possession a promissory note – the sure covenant of Jehovah – sealed with the precious blood of Christ, and payable at the "time appointed," the Millennial Age. Thus they are free men in Christ, they are saved by faith, though they still walk through the valley of the shadow of death. And, comforted by the rod of divine discipline and the staff of divine counsel and favor, they fear no evil, knowing that in due time the promise of lasting life shall be fully verified to them.
But there was another feature of necessity in the divine plan, to which our Lord referred – "Was it not necessary" also "for the Messiah to enter his glory?" The question is to you and to me as well as to those early disciples; and the fact of its being propounded implies our ability to discern the necessity. Yes, it was necessary. Why? Because we needed, not only a redeemer to assume and cancel our past indebtedness, but also an able teacher and leader – a prophet and king – to break the fetters of sin and death and lead us out of our bondage. If the promise of life and liberty were given alone, without such help, we would still be in the same sad state; for the prison doors of death are strong and securely barred and bolted, and we cannot burst them open; and the fetters of sin and sickness, of mental, moral and physical imbecility, are firmly clasped about us, and we have not the power to shake them off. And so we feel the necessity of a [R1393 : page 117] mighty deliverer as well as of a loving redeemer. And, thank God, in his only begotten and well beloved Son we have both. He is our Deliverer as well as our Redeemer, our Savior, [R1394 : page 117] our Prophet, our Priest and our King – strong to deliver and mighty to save; for though as a man he sacrificed all that he then had – his humanity – even unto death, God, accepting that sacrificed humanity as the price of our redemption, renewed his existence in a higher nature – even in his own divine likeness. And thus this second necessity of the divine plan is met in the provision of one who has "all power in heaven and in earth given unto him," and who is therefore abundantly able, not only to awaken the redeemed race from the silence of death, but also to fully establish all of them who desire and will accept of his favor in everlasting righteousness and consequent worthiness of eternal life. Thus, through the blessings of his kingly and priestly office, he will, in due time, present all the willing and obedient faultless before the presence of Jehovah's majesty, to receive his benediction and to enter fully into the eternal joys of his loving favor. In his presence is fulness of joy, and at his right hand – in his favor – there are pleasures forevermore. – Psa. 16:11.
Consider then, O thoughtless ones, how necessary it was that the Messiah should both suffer death, and also enter his glory. Both the humiliation and the exaltation meet our necessities in such a marvelous way that we clearly recognize the fact that only divine wisdom and love and benevolence and grace could have planned the wondrous scheme. "Thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Not only was the death and resurrection and exaltation of Christ thus necessary to God's plan of salvation as viewed from a philosophical standpoint, which the Lord would have us thoughtful enough to observe, but as viewed from the standpoint of prophecy the necessity is also clear; and we should not be slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.
Beginning at Moses, the Lord traced this line of prophecies for the two with whom he conversed, showing how they had been fulfilled in himself; and though his words are not recorded we still have Moses and the prophets and can read them for ourselves. Moses said to Israel, "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me: unto him shall ye hearken." (Deut. 18:15.) And here, in the risen Christ, was the beginning of the fulfilment of that promise. Moses had also in the typical ceremonies of the Day of Atonement prefigured both the sacrificial sufferings and the subsequent glory of Christ. The sacrifice of the bullock (Lev. 16:11) prefigured the former, and Aaron – in his robes of typical glory and beauty coming out of the tabernacle after the sacrifice had been accomplished and the blood presented in the "Most Holy" as a typical propitiation for the sins of Israel, and lifting up his hands and blessing the people, till then lying prostrate on the ground to represent the whole human race in death – prefigured the resurrection glory of Christ and his coming out of the Most Holy presence of Jehovah to bless the whole world in the Millennial age. (See "Tabernacle Shadows of Better Sacrifices.") Was it not indeed necessary to the fulfilment of these divinely instituted types, says our Lord, for the Messiah to have suffered these things and to enter his glory?
Again, Moses testifies of Christ in recording the incidents of the typical sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham, who received him again from the dead in a figure (Gen. 22:1-18; Heb. 11:19), thus prefiguring Jehovah's offering of his only begotten Son and receiving him again from the dead.
Again, there were all those prophecies which so particularly described the circumstances of his death – "He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth;" "He made his grave with the wicked [the sinful human race] and with the rich [in the tomb of the rich man, Joseph of Arimathaea – Matt. 27:57] in his death" (Isa. 53:7,9); "He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken" (Psa. 34:20); "Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [sheol, the grave], neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption" (Psa. 16:10); [R1394 : page 118] "They pierced my hands and my feet;" "They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture;" "They gave me also gall for my meat, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." (Psa. 22:16,18; 69:21.) How minutely all of these had been fulfilled.
And Isaiah (53:5) said, "He was wounded [not for his own, but] for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed." And Daniel (9:26) said, "Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself." And Zechariah (13:1) said, "There shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness." Then they told of his glorious reign, saying – "When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin,...the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand." "He will swallow up death in victory." – Isa. 53:10; 25:8.
Yes, it was necessary to the fulfilment of all these prophecies that Christ should both suffer death and that he should also enter his glory; and in these blessed facts all thoughtful believers may rejoice. A little while and all the faithful, as members of his body, shall have filled up the measure of his sufferings and shall enter into his glory. Then shortly his glory will be revealed, and all flesh shall see it; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. – Isa. 40:5.
The Baltimore American says: – "Methodism appears to be passing through a crisis which threatens to extend to all conferences in the United States. It is a revolt against the bishops and the presiding elders. Professor L. T. Townsend, of the Boston University, is a leader of the movement, and the fiery cross which announced the war was his recent public statement that church politics dominated the councils of the Methodist Church, that its elections were controlled by rings, and that those not in the cliques were pretty much out of every thing else, as far as the Methodist Church was concerned. The professor was bitterly assailed by the leading divines and elders, and his honor and veracity questioned. He returned the defiant answer that, at the meeting of the Boston Methodists to-day, he would produce proofs. The result was that many of the leading Methodist ministers of New England came to Boston, and Wesleyan Hall was crowded.
President Richardson presided, and opened the proceedings by announcing the hymn, "Rock of Ages," as they might feel the need of its influence before the meeting adjourned; and they did. For two hours there was an exciting discussion. The President and the more prominent clergymen were decidedly anti-Townsend, and lost their temper when the vast audience greeted the professor's appearance with a storm of applause. He had a manuscript of eighty-four type-written pages and a big stack of letters, which contained evidence backing up his statement with cited examples from Methodist clergymen all over the country, but he was not given a chance to read his documents.
He started by saying he came not to retract, but to prove. Here he was interrupted by Mr. Rice, of Lominster, who said all the professor's correspondence was anonymous, and should not be submitted. He was upheld by the president, whereupon the audience yelled and hissed and said many unkind things.
The president declared the meeting had been packed by Prof. Townsend, which the latter denied. The meeting was on the eve of being declared closed then and there, when the threatening attitude of the audience caused the chair to appeal to the clergy present to sustain the motion to debar the letters. The meeting did exactly the reverse and shouted for the letters to be read. Dr. Dearborn, of Roslindale, managed to get a hearing, and asked the professor if his letters and proofs were anonymous or not. The professor said none were, except some five letters of which he was not sure whether the writers wished their names used or not. He would write and ascertain. The rest he would name now. Mr. Dearborn suggested that he wait until he could produce all the evidence unrestricted, which he agreed to do. After a stormy discussion the majority, who wanted to hear the letters read at once, consented, and the president adjourned the meeting until this day three weeks, for the professor to hear from his correspondents. Then there promises to be a lively time.
Through many a lovely landscape
My pilgrim-staff I've brought,
From many a rocky em'nence
My gaze the valley sought.
But far above all mountains
I've ever seen, give me
The quiet, lonely hillock,
The Mount of Calvary.
It towers not with forehead
Ice-crowned into the clouds.
No sunny Alpine glacier
Its shoulders bare enshrouds.
But ne'er in all my wanderings
Seemed heaven so near to me,
And earth so lost in distance,
As there on Calvary.
On its bald summit never
A crown of forest stood –
No gently waving oak-tops,
No precious cedar-wood.
But all the royal cedars
That Hermon once did see
Their lofty heads are bowing
Before Mount Calvary.
Go thither, earth-worn pilgrim,
There seek thy rest at last;
And at the feet of Jesus
Thy heavy burdens cast.
Then come and praise with gladness –
How much was done for thee!
Know this: the road to glory
Leads over Calvary.
We now enter the orphanage kept by the Sisters of Zion (Roman Catholic). It is a new and commodious building, but seems to have but few orphans. It interests us because there seems no room to doubt that it is built upon the site of Pilate's Judgment Hall. In the new building they have preserved quite a large area of the old Roman pavement, which had long been buried under rubbish, some seven feet below the present street level. How interesting to look at the very stones upon which our Master stood and walked! "Pilate therefore brought Jesus forth and sat down in the judgment seat, in a place that is called the Pavement." (John 19:13.) Here, too, remains a portion of the arch upon which it is said that Pilate exhibited Jesus to the people, saying, in his final effort to have them relent – "Behold the man!" – as though he meant, would you crucify such a man, like to whom there is not another in your nation? Here, too, Pilate washed his hands as indicating his innocence of the death of Christ. – John 19:5; Matt. 27:24.
Now let us enter the "Church of the Holy Sepulchre." The building is under the control of the (Mohammedan) Turkish government, which holds it to preserve the peace and to secure liberty of entrance and freedom of worship to the Christian sects represented – Roman, Greek, Armenian and Coptic Catholics – each of which has its own chapel for services under the one roof. Here are pointed out the place of the crucifixion, the sepulchre where our Lord was laid, also the place where the crosses of Christ and the two thieves, and the crown of thorns and the nails, etc., are said to have been found by Queen Helena's workmen. But we take but little interest in these things since, from the location in the city, it seems as improbable that this is the real site of the crucifixion and the tomb of our Lord as that his cross and crown of thorns were found there centuries after.
Let us go outside the gates: let us seek the real Mt. Calvary. Ah! This is more like it. We see no holes such as the crosses were set into, nor should we expect to find them after so many centuries; yet here we see the face of the hill with hollows which in the distance resemble a skull, and which probably gave rise to the name, Golgotha – the place of a skull. (Matt. 27:33.) We linger for a moment on the spot made so sacred by him who died for [R1394 : page 120] our sins, and mentally behold the bleeding Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world. Gladly we accept of a share in his sacrifice once for all, and rejoice in spirit as we reflect that the hour is not far distant when, his Church having been selected, the Redeemer shall begin his great Millennial work of blessing all the families of the earth – for all of whom he had poured out his soul into death – a sin offering.
Here we see a crevice in the rock – perhaps a result of the earthquake which occurred when our Lord died. (Matt. 27:51.) Below the top of the hill is a garden, and near the garden a tomb hewn in the rock. The place where our Lord was laid was somewhat like it, though the description of the door does not correspond with this. Doubtless, however, the tomb was near Calvary, as it was about sunset when the body was taken from the cross, and but little time remained for burial, as the next day was a Sabbath (holy day) and began at six o'clock the same evening. The garden, too, corresponds; for we remember that the Marys came to the garden and at first mistook the Lord for the gardener. What blessed memories cluster around that garden and that morning of the resurrection; for if Christ be not risen, all our hopes are vain! (1 Cor. 15:17.) (1) His resurrection is the [R1395 : page 120] evidence to us that in him was no sin, and therefore the Father raised him from death a new creature, with power to bless and restore those whom he redeemed by his death. (2) We can see how this one who sacrificed his life in the service of God and his plan for human salvation had a merit in God's sight, by reason of that sacrifice, which merit the Scriptures assure us he presented on our behalf when he ascended up on high (Heb. 9:24), a full equivalent and offset, in God's sight, for the penalty which came upon Adam and all his race because of his disobedience. (Rom. 5:19.) (3) Our Lord's resurrection becomes the pledge or assurance that in due time God will accomplish through him all the gracious promises of restitution, spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began. – Compare Acts 17:31 and Acts 3:19-21.
Next let us visit the Mount of Olives. Its olive trees are fewer and doubtless less cared for than in our Lord's day; yet no other place, probably, remains so much the same as then; and no other place, perhaps, was more frequented by his sacred feet. On the way, as we ascend the slope, is the Garden of Gethsemane. It is no longer an open garden: a Roman Catholic society controls it and preserves it by an enclosure. Visitors are welcome, however, and we enter and meditate. A gardener is watering the plants, to whom we thankfully give a small coin for a few flowers and a sprig from the oldest olive tree in the garden – centuries old, at least.
Standing upon the Mount of Olives, we do not wonder that our Master oft resorted thither for meditation and prayer and to give instruction to his disciples. We recall that here our Lord sat when he uttered the great prophecy of Matt. 24:3-51 and the parables of Matt. 25, just two days before his crucifixion. – Matt. 26:1,2.
Although two thousand six hundred and eighty-two feet above the sea, Olivet is but one hundred and fifty feet higher than the hills upon which Jerusalem is built, and four hundred feet above the intervening valley of Kedron. It affords a splendid panoramic view of the surrounding country for many miles, and from a tower erected upon its summit, to memorialize the spot of the Lord's ascension, one can see, far to the east, the Jordan valley and the Dead sea, and beyond these the mountains of Moab as well as the intervening village of Bethany, and to the south, Bethlehem and Hebron.
Riding upon donkeys, we descend the farther slope of Olivet, passing over the old road – quite probably the same that our Lord and the disciples often took – going to the home of Martha and Mary and Lazarus. We recall that this is the way the Master journeyed on the ass just five days before his crucifixion, and yonder is the site of the village of Bethphage, where Jesus sent the disciples for the ass upon which he rode into Jerusalem as King. (Matt. 21:1.) We are upon the very ground where the multitude cried, "Hosanna to the [R1395 : page 121] son of David!" while they strewed his way with palm-branches and with their clothing.
Here is Bethany, and near us, to the right, is the site of the house of that Simon whom Jesus healed of leprosy. Here they made the feast for our Lord at which Martha served and Mary anointed him with the precious ointment. (Matt. 26:6,7; John 11:1,2; 12:3.) Yonder is the traditional site of the home of Lazarus and his sisters. The town in Arabic is called El' Azireyeh, or the town of Lazarus. What thoughts these scenes and associations awaken!
Within the city of Jerusalem are several items of interest which we have not yet visited. We will go now to the Jew's "wailing place." Through by-ways littered with rubbish and garbage we pass, holding our breath to avoid the heavy odors and commenting that only the pure mountain air prevents pestilence from breaking out in a place so inviting it. We reach finally the "wailing place." It is what is supposed to be a fragment of the Temple wall, and near it is what is known as Robinson's Arch, a remnant of the arch or bridge which once connected the Temple (on Mt. Moriah) with the city (Mt. Zion). Here are some immense stones, one of them measuring 38 feet 4 inches in length, 7 feet in height, and 3½ feet in width. Here Jews, both rich and poor (especially the latter), and speaking various languages, are coming and going. Some kiss the stones while praying; others touch the stones with their fingers and then kiss their fingers; they chant in a plaintive tone some prayer or prophecy which we could not understand, and occasionally a group gathers around one who leads in a sort of litany. We give below what purport to be translations of two of these –
Leader. For the place that lies desolate,
Response. We sit in solitude.
Leader. For the place that is destroyed,
Response. We sit in solitude.
Leader. For the walls that are overthrown,
Response. We sit in solitude.
Leader. For our majesty that is departed,
Response. We sit in solitude.
Leader. For our great men that lie dead,
Response. We sit in solitude.
Leader. For the precious stones that are buried,
Response. We sit in solitude.
Leader. For the priests who have stumbled,
Response. We sit in solitude.
Leader. For our Kings who have despised Him,
Response. We sit in solitude.
Another form runs as follows: –
Leader. We pray Thee have mercy on Zion.
Response. Gather the children of Jerusalem.
Leader. Haste, haste, Redeemer of Zion.
Response. Speak to the heart of Jerusalem.
Leader. May beauty and majesty surround Zion.
Response. Ah! turn thyself mercifully to Jerusalem.
Leader. May the Kingdom soon return to Zion.
Response. Comfort those who mourn over Jerusalem.
Leader. May peace and joy abide with Zion.
Response. And the branch (of Jesse) spring
up at Jerusalem.
Our hearts are touched, especially for the poorer classes of Jews, who seem to be very sincere. We visit several of their synagogues on their Sabbath, and wish that we had the knowledge of their language, which would enable us to tell them the good tidings of great joy. Beginning with Israel's double and showing when and why it began and that already the due time has come to "Cry unto her that her appointed time is accomplished and her iniquity is pardoned, because she hath received of the Lord's hands double for all her sin" (Isa. 40:2), we feel sure we should have close attention. As we pass into the synagogue many of the faces of the poorer ones seem to ask inquiringly, Have you no message for us!
Ah! were it not that the Lord has favored us with a share in the work of gathering out the Bride and helping to make her ready for the marriage of the Lamb, we would be here in Jerusalem and, by the grace of God, would do a part in the great work now due of turning away blindness from Jacob. (Rom. 11:25.) We must surely write to John and Peter, the sons of Brother Joseph Rabinowitsch, and urge them to lose no time in getting into this fruitful field, so ripe for the true gospel of the Kingdom, which none here seem either able or willing or worthy to give to them.
Next we will visit the site of the Temple on Mount Moriah. The Mosque of Omar and its court now cover the site. It is surrounded by a wall, and the space enclosed is nearly [R1395 : page 122] twice the size of Solomon's Temple and courts. The mosque is a fine one and is surmounted by a most graceful dome. The building has fifty-six elegant windows in Mosaic glass. At one time none but favored Mohammedans were permitted to enter this mosque, but now it is accessible to all nations, though with some formality and at a trifling expense for guards, etc.
This is a remarkable spot. Here it was that Abraham proved his faith in God and showed his obedience by offering his son Isaac – whom he received again from the dead in a figure. Here it was, too, that, when the plague was among the Israelites, King David purchased of Ornan the Jebusite a threshing-floor as a place for an altar of sacrifice. (2 Sam. 24:18-25.) And it is written, "Solomon began to build the house of the Lord at Jerusalem in Mt. Moriah, where the Lord appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite." – 2 Chron. 3:1.
The original rock-top of Mt. Moriah is to be seen in the mosque, and a cave under it may be entered. A hole connects the top rock with the cave, and an aqueduct thence leads to the brook Kedron. Hence it is supposed that upon this rock the sacrifices were killed and that the aqueduct or sewer connected by the hole and the cave was used for carrying off the blood, and the water used in flushing and cleansing the altar. When we remember that the brook Kedron is in the valley of Jehoshaphat, "the valley of dry bones" (the general burying ground of the city), and then reflect that this valley was typical, as well as the blood of the sacrifices, we may read it thus – The blood of Christ the antitypical sin-offering, in a way unseen by the world in general, reaches unto all that are in their graves and secures for all mankind an awakening from death and an opportunity for life everlasting. – Rom. 5:9.
"Solomon's Stables" were under the Temple courts, and were vast ones indeed. Probably [R1396 : page 122] one-half of the space has been appropriated to use as cisterns, but the remainder would still accommodate twelve hundred or more horses. Thus was the natural slope on one side of the mountain utilized by the wise man when he desired a surface on the level of the mountain top for the Temple and its courts.
Passing what is termed the Golden Gate, believed to be the location of the "Beautiful Gate," where Peter and John healed the cripple, we gather a few wild flowers as mementoes and proceed to the reputed Pool of Bethesda, where the blind man, whose eyes were washed and anointed with the spittle and clay, received sight. Our hearts instinctively remember that this, like our Lord's other miracles, was to show forth in advance the coming glorious work of his Millennial Kingdom. As we think of the multitudes morally and spiritually blind, we rejoice in spirit at the remembrance of the anti-type, the opening of the eyes of the understanding foretold by the Prophet. – Isa. 35:4,5; 42:7.
There! see! we have a practical exemplification of the Lord's remark about the measure being pressed down, shaken together, heaped full, etc. (Luke 6:38.) Such an effort to give good measure we never before saw. The salesman fills the bushel, then jars or shakes it down solid and fills to the top, then puts in his hands and presses it, then spreads out the top so as to pile on as much as possible and then, running over, empties it to his customer. (To be Continued.)
"'There is no Jewish race,' is the somewhat startling declaration of 'The Jewish Tidings.' 'We insist that in this declaration we fairly represent the great majority of the intelligent Jews of America. They do not wish to be separated from the rest of the citizenship of the countries in which they abide by such distinctions as 'Jewish race' or 'Hebrew nation.' The Jews are a religious community, having the same hopes and aspirations possessed by Christians, and differing from them only in their belief. The Jews of to-day believe there is but one God, and no other. They repudiate the doctrine that a Messiah has come or is coming, but they accord to every one freedom of conscience. They want to be treated upon equal terms with their neighbors – no better, no worse. The only evil which now remains to be fought is the popular idea that Jews are a separate body of people, of different manners, customs, minds and character from other people."
LESSON IV., APRIL 24, PSALM 23:1-6.
In the precious and true sentiments of this Psalm, David doubtless took great consolation in the midst of his temptations and trials, and of the realization of his own infirmities and short-comings. As he looked back to his early shepherd life and remembered his own care for the dependent sheep of his flock, the thought of the Lord's similar care over his people came to mind. And, doubtless, with this realization of the Lord's goodness and care, came also a renewed determination on David's part to be henceforth a true sheep, that he might always remain under the shepherd's care.
While such was the significance of these words to David, to us, the Church under the care of the Anointed Jesus, our Good Shepherd, they mean more; for, as the Lord's inspired prophet, David puts these words into the mouth of all of the Lord's "little flock" of consecrated followers who obediently hearken to his voice and who in meek humility take comfort both in his chastening rod and in his blessed staff of promise and hope.
To those who are not in this attitude these words do not apply. The Lord is not a shepherd of wayward goats (however, he may permit the common blessings of sun and rain to come to all): the proud and the self-willed have no part in his tender care; and those who are truly his sheep and who can therefore claim his care and leading are, as he tells us (Luke 12:32), only a "little flock," to whom "it is the Father's good pleasure to give the kingdom." And it is to the kingdom – the Millennial Kingdom of God, to be established over all the earth – that the Good Shepherd is thus leading his consecrated flock. Such may truly say –
Verse 1. "The Lord is my shepherd: I shall not want." They shall have all needful instruction, all needful grace and comfort and discipline and training and care, and such measure of temporal good as will be most conducive to their highest spiritual and everlasting blessing. In fact, all things shall work together for good to the sheep of the Lord's pasture – to the called according to his purpose. – Rom. 8:28.
Verse 2 assures us that our hunger and thirst after truth and righteousness shall be satisfied – that we shall be bountifully fed and sweetly refreshed with the meat in due season and the water of life.
Verse 3 – "He restoreth my soul," etc., refers to our present justification through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ; for we are therefore now reckoned as having passed from death unto life, although the times of restitution have not yet begun. And being thus reckoned righteous, we are led by the Good Shepherd in the paths of righteousness and peace "for his name's sake" – because we are his, and because we trust in his name, in his merit, the merit of his sacrifice freely given for our sins.
Verse 4 – "Yea, [although I am not actually so restored, yet by faith in the promise, through Christ, I do so reckon myself, even] though [like all the rest of the dying world] I [still] walk through the valley of the shadow of death, [I was born in this valley and shall die in it, yet] I will fear no evil [no failure of thy sure covenant]; for thou art with me, [even here, and] thy [chastening] rod and thy [faithful] staff [of promise and hope], they comfort me."
Verse 5 refers to the bountiful supply of soul-satisfying truth – the meat in due season, and the full cup of joy and gladness – prepared and spread before the household of faith even here in the midst of this valley of the shadow of death and in the presence of our enemies – Satan and his messengers, who vainly seek to stumble the feet of Christ and to subvert our faith. It refers also to our anointing with the holy spirit as members of the body of Christ.
Verse 6. In view of such present bounty and blessing, well may we rest in the assurance that goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our life – both of this present life and also of that which is to come; and that if, as obedient sheep, we continue to follow the leading of the Good Shepherd we shall eventually dwell in the house of the Lord forever, as members of the royal, divine family, as the bride and joint-heir of Jehovah's dear Son. [R1396 : page 123]
LESSON V., MAY 1, PSALM 51:1-13.
This draws our attention to the darkest stain [R1396 : page 124] upon the history of the Prophet David – the matter of the murder of Uriah and the taking of his wife. Skeptics are wont to point to that great, double sin and to sneer: "And that was the 'man after God's own heart,' according to the Bible's grand standard of morality." But the fact is that it was when David was a young shepherd just coming to manhood that he was after God's own heart. And yet in connection with this very matter of this, David's greatest sin, there is something which shows forth his better character which was "after God's heart:" and this is brought before us by this lesson. The commendable features are: (1) He did not attempt to justify his course by saying that all the kings around about did such things and worse, and that it was generally conceded by their subjects that a king had a right to do as he pleased; (2) he not only did not deny the wrong, but he did not even try to see what he could say in self-defense; he did not plead his peculiar temptation nor that it was above that of others, from the power he exercised as king; but he confessed fully and heartily in such a manner as convinces all that his heart was really better than his evil conduct had seemed to indicate. We have no right to [R1397 : page 124] condone David's crimes, but we have the privilege of noting those other qualities in him which to some extent were an offset to his weaknesses.
And it is well, too, that the Bible attests its own truthfulness in thus faithfully preserving the record of the sins of its great characters alongside the records of their faith and service. Of no other book which stands as the foundation of a religion is this true. Others tell only the good and leave the evil untold; but the Bible tells of the weaknesses of its greatest heroes except our Lord Jesus: of Paul's persecutions; of Peter's denial and blasphemy; of David's sins; of Abraham's errors, etc.
Yet this, which worldly wisdom would consider a serious drawback, God saw to be the proper thing; and many of God's people have been greatly blessed by these very records of human weakness and sin. They but corroborate God's testimony that all have sinned; that there is none righteous; that all need the grace of God to forgive the past and to lift them out of the miry pit of sin and its consequences. And many a sinner has thus been taught to have hope toward God for forgiveness and to realize that God who offers him his grace has had compassion upon others who were out of the way when they turned to him with true repentance.
Verses 1-3. "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is continually before me."
David thus plead for mercy; and although he realized finally that God's favor was restored to him, he knew nothing of the real philosophy of the matter – how God could be just and yet be the justifier of those whose sins merited wrath. Ah, yes! the standpoint of the sons of God, during this Gospel age, is much more blessed. Our Father in heaven not only tells us of our forgiveness and reconciliation to his favor, but he gives us the particulars so that we may see how he has done it without sanctioning our sins or excusing them and without violating his own just law on the subject. He shows us that Christ our Lord was the Lamb of God whose death as our substitute and sin offering taketh away the sins of the world; that by his stripes pardon and healing may be granted to whosoever accepts the grace offered through him. Indeed, David's sins were not blotted out nor forgiven; for although the Lord restored to him divine favor and communion, he punished him severely for his sin, as he had foretold by Nathan the Prophet (2 Sam. 12:11,12), Absolom's rebellion being the means employed.
True, the penalty exacted was not the full penalty of sin, for that would have been lasting death. God showed mercy on David (as to all Jews under the Law Covenant established upon the basis of the typical sacrifices) in that he made allowance for his fallen condition and hence punished his sin, not with everlasting death, but with trouble, etc., in connection with Absolom's rebellion, as above stated.
And as with David and others under the typical Law Covenant, so, too, it is with God's children under the New Covenant in Christ. The death of Christ as our ransom-price cancels the original sin of Adam, and also such portion or degree of our sins and shortcomings as are involuntary and contrary to our real sentiments. But whatever proportion of a sin is wilful, designed and agreed to by us, has a penalty attached to be inflicted in either the present or the future life. And in the case of all who shall be members in the Anointed body, God declares that such sins shall be punished in the present life – saying through the Apostle "Some men's sins go before to judgment [during the present life], others they follow after" into the next life, when some shall be beaten with many and some with a few stripes. And again it is specified that in the cases of all accounted worthy to be of the glorified Church, [R1397 : page 125] they are chastened now in order that they may not have part with the world in the condemnation (trial) of the world in the next age. – 1 Tim. 5:24; Luke 12:48; 1 Cor. 11:32.
Verses 4 and 5. David's confession here is to God – the wronged Uriah was dead. Anyway, in that day it was esteemed a king's privilege to have the bodies and lives of his people subject to his will; and doubtless other kings habitually did as bad. But David had been enlightened and knew better, and although his offenses would have been lightly passed over by others, David realized his guilt before God and besought his mercy. He confessed his sin that others might know, when the chastisements of the Lord should come, that God's judgments and the king's troubles were just punishments and not violations of God's covenant promises.
Verses 5-12. After confessing in verse 5 his original sin – his impairment through the fall – he shows in verse 6 his clear appreciation of the divine plan. Although fallen and weak in the flesh, and therefore unable to do perfectly, God looks for and demands purity of heart (purity of motive or intention) and this David realized he had not manifested. Hence his prayer in succeeding verses is not that the Lord shall excuse him in sin, but that his heart may be cleansed and brought into harmony with God's character and plan. Alas! how strange that some living under the still clearer light of the Gospel dispensation fail to see what David so clearly expresses, and instead some even charge God with inspiring and causing all sin and crime and wickedness. But David was right, and these would-be wise ones have become darkened and foolish in their vain imaginations.
Verse 13. What a grand principle is here set forth. It is eminently proper that those who would be used of the Lord as teachers to instruct transgressors, whether in this or the coming age, should be fully consecrated to God – clean – pure in heart. And the only way to get to this condition is to lay hold by faith upon the merits of the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world, and to have our sins blotted out by him, and then, too, to be renewed in spirit, sanctified through the truth.
DEAR BROTHER: – I herewith enclose one dollar in payment of ZION'S WATCH TOWER for this year. Was sick last year, and have earned no money since last June, but I wish the TOWER continued. I rejoice that God is raising up everywhere some to help in this work. We have entered the time of trouble, pestilence, famine, and, in time, war will ensue. The people of God are fast approaching the final conflict; and I think small shot, grape and canister, as brought to view in your S.S. Lessons, are very telling at this time, and will be in the future, when we come at short range with the enemy!
In other words, theological paragraphs, explaining at a glance the true significance of the doctrines of election and free grace, and kindred subjects, as we understand them, are very convincing to new readers. May health and prosperity attend you and yours. Your brother in Christ,
DEAR BRETHREN: – Enclosed please find $3.25 subscription to the Tract Fund for the quarter ending April 1, 1892. From what I have learned of the truth, and from facts stated from your office, I know of no place where I could send this, and accomplish as much good as it will in your hands. The last few numbers of the TOWER seem to be par excellence. If you are sending out any food, or bread, newly made, I would like to scatter a few crumbs to my neighbors. It will be better than my own talk. Yours, joyful in the promises,
MY DEAREST BRO. RUSSELL: – I have been a long way from you in distance, but always near in love and thought. Last April I was at the Memorial Meeting at Allegheny, and you, dear brother in Christ, immersed me; and I was so very happy. It symbolized my death to self, my burial to the world and my resurrection in Christ – to walk with Christ and Christ with me. Dear Jesus has been and is now with me. Oh, joy complete! it is Christ in me the hope of glory.
Dear Brother Russell, I do love you and all so much, and will do all I can for my precious Saviour. I pray God that I may be so kept that I will meet you with the elect, to help in the Millennial work and now in the "harvest" work. I have read Vols. 1, 2 and 3 of MILLENNIAL DAWN through four times, and will read them again. I would love to be there at the next Passover Supper, but do not expect to now. My sister writes me she will attend.
I pray God that you may all be kept by the power divine.
DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER RUSSELL: – Enclosed please find postal-note for one dollar for the TOWER. I can not tell you how much mother and myself enjoy the TOWER; and we are so glad that its visits will be more frequent in future. To those in Allegheny, who are privileged to attend the weekly meetings, the TOWER may not be so much of a necessity; but to us who cannot meet with those of like precious faith, or hear the words of comfort and instruction the church at Allegheny feasts upon, the coming of the TOWER is looked forward to, and its contents devoured, with a pleasure you can scarcely imagine.
We are so glad of your safe return from Europe, and of the good accomplished by your going, and, feeling sure you are led of the Lord, we believe it will prove an increasing good. How any one can read the different volumes of DAWN and not see the truth is a mystery; but so we find it: "their eyes are holden." We have enjoyed Vol. III. so much and in some respects think it better than either of the others. I can do so very little in the harvest work. Would gladly respond to the "Good Hope" invitation, but do not see that I can do so at present. May God's blessing be upon you both, and upon each one who makes an effort for the spread of the truth. Yours in the one hope,
Last year I stayed with my aunt in Pittsburgh, but she will not be able to accommodate me this time, so that I will have to place myself at your disposal. I will be thankful for even a floor-bed. I hope and pray that the meeting will prove as interesting as the last one. How grand it will be when we shall meet to part no more in His glorious kingdom.
The dear old WATCH TOWER in its semi-monthly visits is very refreshing indeed. I watch for it as eagerly as I would, when hungry, for a good meal. I have enjoyed very much "Views Abroad" from Sister Russell's pen, and anticipate something equally good in "Travels in the Holy Land" from yours. May the dear Lord's richest blessings rest upon you as you labor so earnestly in the Master's vineyard. With Christian love to yourself and Sister Russell,
DEAR BROTHER IN CHRIST: – Enclosed please find $1.55, which please appropriate to the spread of the glad tidings as the Lord may direct you. It is my savings of three Mondays. I am glad that you suggested this way of serving the Lord, for all can do something; and I am sure all true servants are always glad to have an opportunity to assist in the harvest work. I pray that the Lord may accept and bless this mite.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – The brethren here are very much delighted to have the TOWER semi-monthly, and we all think that the treating of the S.S. Lessons is one of the strongest weapons against error and the nominal system that could be brought forth. While most of the readers here are out of the systems, a number are holding on, and these lessons will show them the errors so plainly that they cannot help seeing the importance of coming out. I rejoice that we are allowed to eat from a clean table. Yours in the Lord,
DEAR SIR: – I sent you some money sometime ago to pay up arrears, and now I take the opportunity of sending you the remainder of the subscription price for this year. Before closing, I wish to say that I am still a firm believer in the truth. The trials of which you gave warning have come to me overwhelmingly; and although they have taken strange and unexpected forms, I thank God that they did not find me unprepared. I know in whom I have put my trust. Very sincerely yours,
DEAR SISTER AND BROTHER: – I have read with great interest and delight your three volumes of MILLENNIAL DAWN, and think that your interpretations of prophecies are excellent. The prophecies have always been a favorite part of divine revelation with me; and I have been unable to understand why people in general give so little attention to them. I am fifty-four years old to-day, and have been in the ministry of the Episcopal Church nearly thirty years. It seems to me that Daniel's prediction of the "seventy weeks" is enough of itself to establish the faith of any reasonable man in the supernatural authorship of the Bible.
I would be glad to have you send the three volumes of your able and instructive work to my sister, and also to a friend of mine in a former parish. I enclose the money and their addresses.
DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER RUSSELL: – I know that you have not much time to read letters; but I must tell you that I receive more joy and real happiness from the Bible teachings of the TOWER than from all other sources combined. I used to be weighed down with sorrow, but I quite forget my troubles now, for the shepherd is with his fold. Yours in love through Christ,
GENTLEMEN: – "The Plan of the Ages" came this morning. Have been reading it and your "Tracts" considerable of the time for the last forty-eight hours, and believe I have gotten more knowledge – that I understand – of the teachings of the Bible, out of them in that length of time, than I have learned in all my life put together before, and I am forty-three years old. I was taught to read the Bible as soon as I learned to read anything. When I was a boy I used to compete for prizes, given at Sunday School, by committing to memory whole chapters, not understanding a word I learned, but given to understand by my teacher and parents, that, if I were not good, I would be tormented in unquenchable fire forever and ever, and, knowing that I was not good, the thoughts of this future "torment" kept me in constant fear and dread, until I was grown and began to think for myself. Years ago I discarded the belief that there was such a thing as "Eternal Torment," but with my weak understanding I could not post myself from the Bible, so that I could explain my belief satisfactorily to others.
Now your "Old Theology Tracts" have come to give me new light. I have given some of them to my friends, and want more. Please send one copy of "The Plan of the Ages" to my Sister, and to me one copy of the "Wonderful Story," also please send me sample copy "ZION'S WATCH TOWER." Yours Truly,
DEAR BROTHER: – I ship to you to-day, by express, a box containing some mottoes for your place of meeting. You are indebted to Sisters Erlenmyer and Clark for the materials, which they kindly furnished. I regret that I could not give sufficient time to finish them as they might be, but trust they may be accepted by the dear saints as a slight token of our love for the brethren and the Master, whose servants we are. It has indeed been a labor of love to do them, and I trust the good taste of the sisters will hang and arrange them in a better manner than I can suggest.
Sister G. and I consider ourselves fortunate in having met Sisters Erlenmyer and Clark early in their canvass of O__________ and vicinity. They are the first ones (in the Truth) whom we have met, and we have enjoyed many pleasant and profitable hours with them. My dear brother, I can not tell how much we would like to join you all at the Anniversary, believing it would be of great benefit to us; but as it is impossible, we have decided to hold it ourselves, with faith and trust that the good Lord will be present with us. Remember us, will you not, dear brother, when you approach [R1398 : page 127] the throne of grace? Oh, how often have I longed to write you, but, feeling my own unworthiness and knowing how very busy you are in the Master's cause, I have hesitated to trespass on your time. But we have appreciated, and do appreciate, how much we can not tell, the gratitude we owe to God and to you and Sister Russell, that through you we have been able to learn what the "Gospel of the Kingdom" really is. Although we have read the TOWER for over eight years, we feel that we have grown more in grace and the knowledge of the truth in the past year than in the seven preceding; and we pray that we will be led into all truth. I have striven for several years, as the Master alone knows, to lead others into the truth, but apparently without success until recently, when I found some interested ones. I thank the Lord for so much.
I must say, before closing, that, while we have always thought each number of the TOWER could not be improved, each succeeding number is still better. With a prayer that you may be so filled and moved by the Holy Spirit, throughout the meetings, as never before, joined by Sister G., with much love to all the saints, I am your unworthy brother in the faith,
[The mottoes were received in good order and are very beautiful. "I shall be satisfied when I awake in thy likeness," "Rejoice that your names are written in Heaven," and "I must work the works of Him that sent me while it is day." All appreciate them greatly. We extend to the donors thanks on behalf of all. – ED.]
DEAR BROTHER IN CHRIST: – Enclosed find Money Order to renew my subscription for the WATCH TOWER. I can never express the gladness I feel that the TOWER and the MILLENNIAL DAWNS ever came to my notice. I am sixty years old, and have been groping since a little child amid the shadows of the sects, thirsting, but never satisfied, until I purchased of a Colporteur Volume I., and secured the WATCH TOWER. Since then I have read all the DAWNS. page 128 This is the greatest blessing that I ever received; for a great flood of light has not only illumined my own soul, but my children and some of my friends to whom I have loaned books and papers have been brought to a knowledge of the truth.
DEAR BRETHREN: – I send you herewith 80 cents, for I don't want to miss a single number of the TOWER. It and the DAWNS together have made the Bible an intelligible book to me and have lifted me from the level of a rank skeptic to that of a firm believer in the atonement of our Lord and Savior. May the Lord bless you.
I have not had a doubt for several years that we are in the "harvest" of the Gospel age. I have been studying the Scriptures, especially upon this point, for some time; and in a quiet way have been teaching the same as I have had opportunity. But never until I commenced your publications did I see that the principal object of this age is to select the Church, and the distinction between the nominal and the real Church. I have also been led to see that my mission is chiefly to the Church, to emphasize the importance of entire consecration and holiness to the Lord; and I am happy to be able to say that while it has been positively offensive to the larger portion of the Church, I have found some prepared ground in which the seed has taken root, and is bringing forth fruit unto holiness. I invariably preach the speedy coming of the Lord, and that we are already in the last days, the transition period between the departure of the old and the coming of the new; the closing of the Gospel age, and the establishment of Christ's Kingdom.
The Methodist Church here, in which I have preached for twenty-five years, occasionally has virtually been closed to me, because I have preached these truths so plainly and earnestly. But I have held a week-day service in the vestry and we have had some glorious meetings. We have a number of precious souls who have come out fully on the Lord's side, and are looking with joy to the coming of the Lord. Recently I have been preaching in the Advent church here, which has been opened to me, through the sickness of their pastor; but I found them as dead and formal as our own church, though, bless God, some have been quickened. Their pastor is a good man, but has been away from them for years and but recently returned.
I had you send him Vol. I. of DAWN about two years ago, and I find it has borne fruit. He is converted, and I have been permitted to lead him out more clearly. I want you to send me, for him, volumes Two and Three, and I enclose you $5 in payment of mine and these.
God bless you and yours. In Christ,
DEAR MR. RUSSELL: – I have been favored with the loan of the volumes on "MILLENNIAL DAWN," and the reading has been indeed profitable. I thank God for having seen them. They have made clear to my mind many difficult passages of Scripture. The Word of God is precious to me, and I can appreciate and drink in greedily anything that helps me to understand it, persuaded as I am that God has more light to break forth from his blessed Word.
The Lord has been preparing me for years for these Millennial truths. In 1874 I left (resigned) the Primitive Methodist ministry in England, where I had been for nine years, on account of sympathy with the doctrines of the Kingdom and conditional immortality. Since then I have been led to the study of prophecy; and your volumes afford me a richness, a fulness, in this branch of study, beyond anything I have before seen. Reading them is indeed to me as sitting down to a banquet of "meat in due season" – predicted truths on becoming due being just this to the household of faith. The Lord must be invisibly present, as you say, being proven by the time prophecies and emphasized by the Master when he said, "The Kingdom cometh not with observation or outward show," and referred to the days of Noah before the flood as a type of the day of the presence of the Son of Man.
I wish I could be of help to the watchful, consecrated ones; but here in the bush am afraid I cannot do much. I would like to know what the arrangements of the Tower Tract Society is with Colporteurs and whether they know of any field where there is urgent need of such. Yours in the love of revealed truth.