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The Meetings for Scripture study (in connection with which an opportunity will be afforded any who desire to be immersed) will begin on Thursday, April 7th. On the evening of Sunday, April 10th, the Last Supper and death of our Redeemer will be commemorated. The session will close April 14th, although many will probably be unable to remain longer than the 11th.
A Brother writes that he thinks that the "Good Hopes," mentioned in our issue before last, resemble Babylon too much. He adds that the publishing of the amounts promised and the results are a reflection upon himself and others who are doing all they can do for the spread of the Truth, in the purchase and circulation of O.T. Tracts, Dawns, etc.
The Brother takes a wrong view of the matter. What we suggested (we did not urge it, although we might have done so without erring) was that all, so far as possible, adopt the rule which the Apostle Paul lays down – the setting aside of something, according to our prosperity (whether one cent or one dollar or a thousand dollars), on the first day of each week, as a memorial of the Lord's blessings during the week ended, and of our thankfulness. We believe that but few could not spare and consecrate at least one cent a week, and we believe that such would be blessed in so doing.
We did not suggest or urge that such sums could only be used through the "Good Hopes," but merely announced that hereafter O.T. Tracts, Nos. 1 to 6, and 10 would be supplied free to all Z.W.T. subscribers, so that those who have greater opportunities for circulating tracts than for buying them, could have the better opportunity; and suggested that on the blanks furnished in the November TOWER, the "Good Hopes" of all who desired to help in this and the general work could be declared in a most convenient way.
We have never blamed Babylon for her liberal donations to missions, tracts and charities. The things to be blamed are, (1) the methods often used to secure the money, such as fairs, suppers, etc., and by appealing to the motive of pride, by publishing names and amounts. (2) We have criticized the way in which these large sums of money have been used, in publishing tracts full of bad tidings of great misery, and by putting into civilized and heathen minds false doctrines, calculated to mislead and blind them.
To this Brother and to all we say – the Apostle Paul's advice in 1 Cor. 16:2 is good; and it will do you all good to follow it. Then use the money thus set aside to God's glory, in the best way your reason and conscience, directed by God's Word, dictate.
The recent rioting in Berlin, in which some 6000 of the very poor participated; which rifled baker-shops and beerhouses, and surrounded the Emperor's palace, shows the extremity of the lowest class of society there, but does not alter our judgment of the general situation as expressed in the "View" of our Jan'y 15th issue.
|VOL. XIII.||MARCH 1, 1892.||NO. 5.|
The Pittsburgh Christian Advocate, a Methodist publication, recently contained an editorial which serves as a straw to show how the still rising wind-storm, which has caused so much commotion in Presbyterianism, is beginning to affect Methodism.
The article was a plea for the abolition of the doctrinal test required of lay members, on the ground that it is a violation of Wesley's teaching on that subject, contrary to the constitution of the society, and mischievous in its effects, illustrations of which were given in men who were kept out of the church by it, though heartily in sympathy with its otherwise free, aggressive and progressive spirit, and in men driven out of it by the conviction that they ought not to pretend to believe what they do not believe.
"The article in the Advocate repeats with evidence that this requirement is not consonant with Wesley's idea; says 'furthermore, this requirement is, as it seems to us, unconstitutional,' and gives plain reasons from the most authoritative source for thinking so; calls attention to the contradiction which has worked the mischief just spoken of – 'We who in our history have laid the least stress on mere dogma now stand forth as the most exacting in this particular;' and insists that the only thing which should be required of the private member is that he show an honest and earnest wish to lead a good and useful life.
"Methodism claims to have on its rolls and in its congregations about one-fifth of the Protestants of the United States. Every preacher knows that there are scores of the most active and influential members who do not believe doctrines which stand out prominently in the articles of faith, and that the church dare not try to enforce a literal subscription to them. This article in the Advocate is a challenge to the exaction which does violence to the history and hampers the progress of the church. The article is noteworthy as showing that Methodism is falling into line with those who deny that a Christian life is dependent upon subscription to an interpretation of Christian doctrine made by men who were no better qualified to interpret it than they are themselves."
The suggestion of the Advocate is a good one, so far as it goes, but if Methodists would go further and abolish the distinctions of clergy and laity and remember that they are all brethren, and that the Word of God is the only legitimate creed for Christians, they would be getting a little nearer the true position of the Church.
Then let them not forget that the Lord himself is the only rightful Head of the Church, and consequently the only authority in it. A recognition of his headship or supreme authority in the Church, and of his Word alone as its doctrinal standard, with faith in him as the Redeemer and in the power of his truth to sanctify, together with a recognition of the individual liberty of consecrated believers, to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth, is the only proper attitude of the Church.
The article, we think, is very significant of the fears which thinking Methodists have for Methodism [R1375 : page 68] in view of the rising breeze which has already struck and so badly damaged Presbyterianism. The thoughtful and solicitous begin to feel the necessity for observing some wise precautions so that the storm will not strike them so severely when it does come.
It is significant also of another fact, viz., that Methodists – even those very anxious to support and perpetuate Methodism – care more for the name and for the numbers and prestige of the denomination, than for the doctrines that constitute Methodism and which distinguish it from other isms. But if the doctrinal tests be abolished among the lay members, why not among the clergy as well, leaving all free to accept and teach what they honestly believe? O, say they, that would be too radical; for then the world would soon discover that Methodists are not Methodists at all. We must still have a Methodist yoke and must put it on somebody's neck; and since the clergy are paid for wearing it they will submit to it, but the membership, having no such inducement, will not; and if we try to make them do so, they will just leave, and we want to retain them, as every one counts both numerically and financially.
Very sound logic that, from the standpoint of worldly policy. But what requirement shall we make of members? is the inquiry. Now mark the suggestion. Is it that they should recognize themselves as justly condemned in Adam, but justified to life through faith in the precious blood of Christ shed for their redemption and the remission of sins? Is it that they recognize the Word of God as the only rule of faith and practice, and having repented of and forsaken sin that they desire henceforth to conform their lives thereto? No: the article insists that "the only thing which should be required of the lay member is that he show an honest and earnest wish to lead a good and useful life."
Why, who could not be a Methodist under those conditions. Mr. Ingersoll would make a very good Methodist; so would Mr. Carnegie, though he claims to hold the principles of Buddhism. He is surely leading a good and useful life – has plenty of money and appropriates much of his surplus wealth to the public benefit. And there are scores and hundreds and thousands of such – very good Methodists, indeed.
But all this indicates still further the trend of Methodism to be, in common with other denominations, toward open infidelity. The church nominal is full of infidels, and the above is an open confession of the fact to those who are sufficiently awake to read it.
Such a precaution as this article suggests will not, however, be able to protect Methodism against the rising storm. It is coming, and coming, too, with tremendous force; and every ism in the broad domain of Christendom may well tremble in view of it. But let the few precious saints who love the Lord more than the isms, and the Bible more than the creeds, and the truth more than the speculations of men, cling yet closer to the Rock of ages. Here only is safety, and not in fellowship and alliance with the hosts of unbelievers, whatever be their name or position among men. Remember that the true saints whom alone God recognizes as his Church are a "little flock" –
"A little flock disowned of men,
But owned and loved of God."
In answer to queries on the subject, we reply: We have not yet received a reply to the letters to Barons Rothschild and Hirsch, proposing a plan for the organization of Palestine as a nation. It appears, however, from the clipping below, that one of the gentlemen is already acting on a part of the suggestions offered. It reads as follows: –
"Jewish exiles from Russia and Poland are really to have a home in Palestine after all. Through Baron Edmond de Rothschild a tract of land forty miles east of Lake Tiberias, and said to be extremely fertile, has been bought. No families will be sent until some young men, who are to go as pioneers, have made the country habitable." – Milwaukee Sentinel.
I was crowded between two children of Israel, and gave free inward expression to my feelings. All at once I happened to look more closely at one of my neighbors, and saw that the youth was the very ideal of the Son of Mary.]
A fresh, young cheek whose olive hue
The mantling blood shows faintly through;
Locks dark as midnight, that divide
And shade the neck on either side;
Soft, gentle, loving eyes that gleam
Clear as a starlit mountain stream;
So looked that other child of Shem,
The maiden's Boy of Bethlehem!
– And thou couldst scorn the peerless blood
That flows unmingled from the Flood, –
Thy scutcheon spotted with the stains
Of Norman thieves and pirate Danes!
The New World's foundling, in thy pride
Scowl on the Hebrew at thy side,
And lo! the very semblance there
The Lord of Glory deigned to wear!
I see that radiant image rise,
The flowing hair, the pitying eyes,
The faintly crimsoned cheek that shows
The blush of Sharon's opening rose, –
Thy hands would clasp his hallowed feet
Whose brethren soil thy Christian seat,
Thy lips would press his garments hem
That curl in wrathful scorn for them!
A sudden mist, a watery screen,
Dropped like a veil before the scene;
The shadow floated from my soul,
And to my lips a whisper stole: –
"Thy prophets caught the Spirit's flame,
From thee the Son of Mary came,
With thee the Father deigned to dwell, –
Peace be upon thee, Israel!"
Time is one of the most important factors in God's plan. The days of creation were long periods of time; the time of man's experience with evil has been six days of a thousand years each; the day of redemption and of the development of the Church has been nearly two thousand years. Time has been necessary for the accomplishment of God's great work; and it has also been necessary in proving to man the righteousness of God's character. Only time could prove to men his invincible justice. Six thousand years ago his sentence of death passed upon mankind, and during all that time he has permitted generation after generation to go down into the grave in the midst of agony and blood and tears. And though he loved men so, even while they were yet sinners, that he spared not his own Son, but freely gave him up for us all, yet he has never for a moment relented to interpose his power for the relief or release of the groaning creation: nor will he do so until his "due time" – the time which his wisdom appointed, which will be the very best time for the securing of the largest possible results to the race, both of knowledge and of advantageous experience, as well as the development of several of the most important features of his plan. But as time only can develop God's plan, so time only can manifest his love, as well as his wisdom, his grace, his power and his justice.
Time will fully manifest the divine wisdom in what seems to short-sighted humanity like pitiless delays. Already those who are privileged to view by faith the divine plan see the necessity of time for its full accomplishment. It is in view of such necessity that the children of God are frequently exhorted to patience. God has kindly brought us to his standpoint of view and bidden us look into the glorious future – to the outcome of his plan; and in proportion as we are able to comprehend and believe it, we may rest and rejoice in it. But in the meantime, being thus graciously refreshed by the cheering prospect, we must patiently wait for the end, however painful the waiting season may be.
Patience is a virtue which our Heavenly Father desires to cultivate in us; and he manifests in himself the grandest example of it. [R1375 : page 70] Through all the centuries past he has patiently endured the reproaches of those who, failing to understand the course of his wisdom in executing justice and in working out the deep designs of his abounding grace, attributed evil, and only evil, to his truly glorious and holy character. He knows that "in due time" his character will be fully vindicated, and so he patiently waits and works and endures. So also our Lord Jesus waits and endures. He endured great humiliation in coming to our low estate. Then as a man he patiently endured the contradiction of sinners against himself and the ungrateful persecution, even unto death, from those he came to save. And, like his Heavenly Father, through it all he was cheered in consideration of that "due time," though then in the far distant future, when his character, and also the Father's character, would be fully vindicated and manifested to every creature in heaven and in earth. And still our blessed Lord Jesus and our adorable Heavenly Father await with patience the grand consummation. So, in similar attitude of mind, must we wait; for the servant is not above his Lord, and our rejoicing in view of the future will, if we have the mind of Christ, be not only because of our own prospective vindication and glory, but also in prospect of the vindication and glory of God and of our Lord Jesus, and of the prospective everlasting triumph of truth and righteousness.
The waiting time is by no means a time of rejoicing, except in hope. This is a time when truth and righteousness are being humbled in the dust, when they that live godly must suffer persecution, when our eyes must look upon scenes of sorrow and mourning, when our ears must hear the wails of distress, and when our feeble flesh must experience the pangs of death. But, O! there is a glorious release to come "in due time." Wait for it patiently: "Let patience have her perfect work." Submit to the humbling process. The Church's pathway of present humiliation leads to the future glory.
"Humble yourselves," says the Apostle, "under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time." Do not make the great mistake of seeking present exaltation at the expense of that which is to come "in due time" to those who patiently endure to the end. It is only in proportion as any turn their eyes away from the glory to follow "in due time," and thus lose faith in it, that they begin to prize the trifling recompenses which the world offers for the sacrifice of their birthright. Let us, therefore, beloved, keep the eye of faith fixed upon the hope set before us in the gospel, and, forgetting those things that are behind – all worldly ambitions, etc. – let us press toward the mark for the prize of our high calling, which shall indeed be realized by the faithful – "in due time;" for "faithful is he that hath called you, who also will do it." His purposes cannot fail, nor his word return unto him void.
Vienna is a fine city, many of its public buildings rivaling those of Berlin, though it is not so uniformly fine. It is almost entirely Roman Catholic. But there is a wide difference here between the rich and the very poor. Here, and elsewhere through Austria and Russia, may be seen women and children carrying mortar and bricks, pulling carts like horses and carrying immense loads on their heads, or strapped on their shoulders. We learned that the wages of laboring women there is about twenty cents per day; of laboring men, from forty to fifty cents per day; and of skilled mechanics, from seventy-five to ninety cents per day. Beer with bread and cheese seems to constitute the regular diet of the very poor. And we were told that many of this class are without home, seeking shelter for the night often in the buildings on which they work during the day. Yet one does not observe these things in the general appearance of fine cities like Vienna, Berlin and Prague.
In Antwerp and Brussels, cities of Belgium, though fine cities in many respects, in Antwerp especially, there was more appearance of poverty [R1375 : page 71] and of men out of employment, who swarm in hundreds about the docks waiting for work. We went out there early in the morning, and crowds of these men lounged about at almost every corner all through the city, but specially about the docks. They seemed too, to be just the kind for revolt when under strong leadership and goaded, as they may yet be, by greater necessity.
In Russia the government holds an intolerably tight grip on every man in the empire, and the stranger within their gates is always to them a suspicious character. His passport must be produced at every hotel and railway station before entering or leaving a city or town. The hotel proprietor receives your passport and hands it over to the Chief of Police, who retains it until you are ready to leave, so that any stranger could be readily traced as to just when [R1376 : page 71] he entered or left the country. Officers and authorities are simply civil, indicating that your presence is only tolerated, and any books or papers in your possession are carefully scrutinized to make sure that nothing in them is calculated to interfere with their ideas.
As we passed through a part of Russia and witnessed the squalor and ignorance and listless idleness of many of the poor moujiks, we wondered how they managed, even in the summer months, to eke out an existence, and imagined what trouble they would be in when the severities of winter would overtake them. Many of them live in miserable hovels made of mud and thatched with straw, consisting of only one room, and that so low that they must stoop to enter. In many cases the thatched roof slopes to the ground on all sides. The soil looked barren and they seemed destitute of everything that goes to make life even tolerable.
Leaving the Russian dominions, we next came under the authority of the Turks at Constantinople. From the Bosphorus the city looks most beautiful, but one has no sooner set foot on land than his disappointment begins. Here is every advantage of climate and location for a splendid city, but the blight of Turkish rule is on every thing. Passing up a narrow alleyway from the landing place, we were halted in front of a rough board shed to have our luggage overhauled and to produce our passport. After considerable delay and inconvenience we were permitted to proceed to our hotel, when we were surrounded by a miserable, ragged looking set of carriers wishing to take our luggage. This disposed of, we proceeded with our guide to a hotel through narrow, dirty alleys. When we called our guide to account for taking us through so many alleys, he looked surprised, and said these were some of the best streets in the city. And, sure enough, we found it even so. In the dirty, narrow streets sleepy, disgusting dogs are found by scores, and there are thousands of them in the city. Donkeys, carts and pedestrians jostle one another continually in the middle of the streets, the sidewalks seldom being more than three feet wide, and all must look well to their steps lest they stumble over these sacred dogs which the Turks so much reverence and will not allow to be destroyed, and which are too lazy even to move out of the way. Of course they are never muzzled and you must run the risks of hydrophobia in hot weather. Then your ears are greeted from early morning till late at night by the hideous voices of the venders of all sorts of merchandise; and when they stop to rest thousands of dogs make the night hideous with their yells, and you soon want to take your departure from the Turkish capitol.
The principal cities visited in Italy were Brindisi, Naples, Pompeii, Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan. Landing in Brindisi from our voyage across the Mediterranean from Alexandria, Egypt, we were in company with a Roman Catholic Patriarch from Jerusalem and an under priest. As we had to have our baggage examined here, and the Patriarch's turn came first, we had an opportunity to see how the Italian officials reverence the priesthood. One would naturally expect that in Italy reverence for the priesthood would lead them almost to exempt them from the ordinary searching to which other travelers are subjected; but, on the contrary, with a gruff, irreverent manner, [R1376 : page 72] they diligently overturned everything in the old man's trunk and valises, discovering finally several bottles of wine and an expensive box of snuff. The latter they confiscated, and the grumbling dignitary packed up the rest of his effects and passed on; but somehow his low, broad-brimmed hat and long skirts, together with his snuff, etc., made him seem rather unmanly, not to say unpriestly. The examination of our luggage was very slight in comparison, after inquiry had been made and the officials were assured that we had no dutiable goods on hand. Our guide explained this by saying that the officials always consider the word of Protestant foreigners more reliable than that of their Roman Catholic countrymen, especially the priests. Indeed, he told us beforehand that ours would scarcely be examined at all if we were not in company with the Patriarch, and that search of his trunk would probably prove that he had not correctly stated its contents.
The same attitude toward the Papacy was also manifest in Rome. Our guide through the city, a well informed Italian, and a representative of a large class there, was in strong and outspoken opposition to such "superstition and nonsense," as he termed it. Nor was he satisfied with the present government, though, he said. "It is much better than the rule of the church, but what we want is a republic, like the United States of America, or like France." And as he pointed out the costly adornings of St. Peter's and the Vatican he frequently remarked, "All this extravagance is what is impoverishing the Italian people; this is not religion: it is all done for pride and power." On one of the public squares he pointed out the statue of Bruno, an independent philosopher of the sixteenth century who was arrested and executed by the Papal Inquisition. The statue was recently erected, and is regarded more as a memorial of Italian liberty from the Papal yoke than as remembrancer of the teachings of Bruno. It is a standing denunciation on the part of the people against Papal methods and doctrines, and a sure indication of the strong anti-papal feeling of the populace. Italy is too well acquainted with Papal tactics and Papal oppression to have a very cordial affection for that system. There is a growing spirit of independence in Italy, which neither civil nor ecclesiastical power will be able to cope with, when, by and by, the people begin to realize their power, and determine to strike for freedom.
Rome is a place of wonderful present, as well as historic, interest. The ruins of a dead past lie all around on every side, and the indications of a dissatisfied present and of a future conflict are very manifest. The remains of its ancient Coliseum, the glory and the shame of old Rome, are a striking symbol of its present inglorious pose before the world. The enthusiastic pilgrims of the eighth century uttered a noteworthy prophecy when they admiringly declared, "As long as the Coliseum stands, Rome shall stand; when the Coliseum falls, Rome will fall; and when Rome falls, the world will fall." Enough of this colossal structure still stands to bear witness to the cruel barbarity of the period of the greatest "glory" of the Roman empire. It is a circular structure of massive masonry, around the interior of which are successive galleries with a seating capacity originally of many thousands, and in the center of which is a vast arena, where the bloody contests of men with ferocious wild beasts feasted the eyes of the Roman lords and ladies. Sometimes the victims were volunteers from among their best citizens; and when they fell in the conflict, as they generally did, their splendid funerals from the churches gave an additional holiday to the people. Sometimes they were prisoners of war, sometimes criminals, and many were Christian martyrs. With strange feelings we walked about these galleries and down into the arena and into some of the dungeon cells where criminals were confined until the fatal day of their sanguinary conflict should furnish amusement and entertainment to the cruel throng; and then we passed down into the great cages where hungry wild beasts were confined. With a shudder we turned away and thanked God for the ruin and desolation of the place. The Coliseum is now well nigh destroyed, and its tottering ruins aptly represent the decadence of Roman "glory" today. Pius IX., in his time, had some repairs made to preserve and prop the crumbling walls of the old Coliseum, reminding us of how he [R1376 : page 73] and his successors have tried to prop the falling structure of the similarly tottering and decaying church of Rome; but both symbol and substance are doomed to complete destruction, and doubtless will go down together in the last great conflict, when all the powers of this world fall, and the new world or age is ushered in. The old adage, "When Rome falls the world falls," seems not so far from truth, when one sees that "the new heavens and the new earth" refers to the new order of things under Christ's Millennial reign.
Rome is full of the monuments of human folly, and not the least among them are St. Peter's Cathedral and the Vatican, the Pope's palace. The former is certainly the most wonderful building in the world, as it has been the most costly. Its marble floors and columns and statues and bas-reliefs as well as its paintings are exhibitions of the skill and art of the past eighteen centuries; for the whole civilized world was laid under tribute at the time of its erection and since. Certainly, nowhere did we find superior manifestations of skill and art. However, the faces of the popes and others there represented had that peculiarly treacherous, Jesuitical expression of countenance so repulsive to the open-hearted and frank.
Noticing that one of the main entrances of St. Peter's was closed, we ascertained the reason to be as follows. It has long been the custom of the Popes to imitate Israel's Jubilee year after a fashion. (How little like the original, our regular readers will readily see – others can read in Millennial Dawn, Vol. II., Chap. vi.) Every fiftieth year at first, and every twenty-fifth year more recently, it has been the custom for the Pope to represent that door as leading into Purgatory, and approaching it he raps on it with a small, silver hammer, repeating certain Latin words. The Cardinals on the other side answer by attacking the wall and digging it open, when they march with the Pope through the door-way. The Pope then announces that so many souls have been liberated from [R1377 : page 73] purgatory, and ascending to a balcony extends his hands and gives his blessing to the Italian people. This door has not been opened lately and the people have not received the pontiff's blessing – the last Jubilee passing without the usual ceremony, because the Pope claims that he is deprived of his rights by the government which the people support, and that hence he cannot bless them. The Italian people, however, are getting over some of their superstition and are realizing that the Pope's blessings in the past have amounted to ignorance, poverty and oppression, and that now they are much more prosperous without his blessing. One of them laughingly related to us these facts.
While there is poverty in Italy, and an enormous debt rests upon the people, we, nevertheless, found much less poverty than we expected, no abject want being outwardly noticeable. The people look well, have comfortable looking homes, are generally comfortably clad and seem industrious and thrifty. Nor are the marks of Romanism so distinguishable in Italian faces as in some other parts of the world – America, for instance – probably because the people there have less reverence for ecclesiastical dignity, having been brought into closer contact with it and suffered more from it.
The buried and now partially exhumed city of Pompeii, near Naples, Italy, is a wonderful testimony of the past. We walked through its narrow, stone-paved streets, so narrow that two wagons could not pass each other; the sidewalks being three and sometimes four feet wide. At short intervals were public drinking-fountains of stone, worn smooth by the hands of those who stopped to drink. There are butcher-shops with meat-blocks, etc., and baker-shops with large bake-ovens, very like those of the present day, their kneading-troughs, etc., and some of their bread was found, just as left in the ovens, when the city was buried in the volcanic ashes of Mt. Vesuvius. We walked into the private dwellings, generally square with an open court in the center, observed the faded pictures frescoed on the walls, an occasional bit of statuary, or a "Welcome" inscribed on the floor at the entrance, or a small fountain in the centre of the court.
We saw the various articles of furniture, etc., recovered from the ruins – their bedsteads, chairs, stoves, cooking vessels, table-ware, jewelry, surgical and dental instruments – the latter very [R1377 : page 74] similar to those of the present day. We entered their ancient temples, circus, theaters, courts of justice, etc., and saw some of the petrified bodies of the ancient inhabitants in various positions, just as they were overtaken by the calamity of that fatal day. Over eighteen centuries have passed since that time, but here is their record as plainly written as if they had perished but yesterday.
As we ponder over these strange scenes, the query of Ezekiel comes forcibly to mind – "Can these dry bones live?" – and then the prophecy that, in his own good time, God will cause these dry bones (as well as all the rest of the world, typified by the "whole house of Israel") to hear the word of the Lord and to live, and to know that he is the Lord. – Ezek. 37.
In Paris we were continually reminded of the part which the French are preparing to take in the coming battle of the great day. There is intelligence, pride, ambition, a restless spirit of liberty and a determination to assert and to contend for their ideas, which, while they continually lead to factions and party-strife, also make them enemies abroad. They are out of sorts with the rest of the world and almost equally out of sorts with each other. Paris is a splendid city, and speaks well for the French people in many respects, yet here in the capital all their national traits of character, both good and bad, are shown with greatest prominence.
While the city looks well and prosperous, the poor there have a very poor showing, and enjoy but little of the comforts of home and family life. Often the best they can afford is an attic to lodge in while they take their meals at some of the cheapest restaurants. The French peasantry, however, seem thrifty and enterprising, and their little homes and farms are neatly kept.
Everywhere throughout Europe we found preparations for war; but the statesmen fear socialism still more, and war prospects serve well as an excuse for armies which dare not be disbanded for fear of anarchy. In answer to our queries a merchant of Vienna replied: "It is a common saying that, if you turn the wheel of fortune three times you may have three wishes, but if the people of Europe could have one wish granted, that would be the answer to the question, How shall we solve the social problem?" Another gentleman, a judge of one of the courts of Germany, doubtfully shook his head when this subject was mentioned, and said, "We fear great trouble and are doing all we can to avert it, and we hope, we hope (?) for better things." And so it is everywhere.
The socialistic sentiments in Europe evidently do not arise as a general thing from actual distress among the people so much as from an awakening intelligence which begins to discern the principle of human brotherhood, and the common rights of all as members of that brotherhood, and to a rising ambition on the part of the middle classes to secure so far as possible their imagined, as well as their real, rights.
Viewed from a religious standpoint also, the trend of thought in Europe is revolutionary. The current is very generally set in the direction of rank infidelity, which, when accomplished fully, will be a complete revolution from the former unquestioning faith, or rather credulity, in whatever a time-serving clergy chooses to put forth as divinely inspired truth. Those days are already past and the world is rapidly waking from its former lethargy. From the general awakening a few, here and there, are rising to a clearer apprehension of truth and righteousness, but the majority seem bent on discarding all truth as well as superstition and are going to the opposite extreme.
Such, briefly stated, is the outlook of the great battle-field of Europe. Yet, notwithstanding these ominous signs of the times and the divine prophecies of their inevitable culmination, which must of necessity be only a few years in the distance, having confidence in the power that is now holding the winds until the servants of God are all sealed, and to control them even in their wildest commotion so that their destructive power shall only be let loose long enough and only go far enough to accomplish the divine will in the chastening and preparing of humanity for better conditions, we rejoice even in this, and hasten to accomplish our appointed work of sealing the elect. Let all his messengers make haste; for indeed "the time is short."
LESSON XII., MARCH 20.
The golden text is worthy of careful consideration. "The wages of sin is death," not life in torment, nor life in any sense, but total extinction of being. "The dead know not any thing." "There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou goest." "Man dieth and wasteth away : yea, man giveth up the ghost [the breath or spirit of life] and where is he?...His sons come to honor, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.... As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up, so man lieth down [in death] and riseth not till the heavens be no more; [until then] they shall not awake nor be raised out of their sleep." The present heavens or ruling powers under Satan, the present prince, shall give place to the new heavens, the Kingdom of God under Christ and his Church glorified (the Royal Priesthood), during a great time of trouble just at hand (Dan. 12:1), in which the present rule of evil shall cease and Satan be bound. Under the new spiritual power (the Kingdom), the "new heavens," there shall also be a new social arrangement, "a new earth," and then through the Kingdom-power not only those alive, but also "all that are in their graves," shall come forth – "awake" from the sleep of death. – Eccl. 9:5,10; Job 14:10,21,11,12; John 11:11-14.
Death is an actual extinction of being. Mark, we do not say that death annihilates matter; for matter is indestructible, and merely passes from one form to another – as solid to liquid or to gas. What we do assert is, that being, as a condition, has an opposite in non-existence, and that the same God who gave us our being can cause that being or existence to terminate. "The soul (being) that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezek. 18:4,20), is God's statement on this subject. Nay, more; the privilege of living is dependent upon God, since it is "in him we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28), and our Golden Text assures us that God has decreed that the wages of sin shall be death, and that only by his gift or favor can any hope to live forever. In view of the promised resurrection from death, the first death, which now prevails against all, is likened to a sleep. (John 11:11; Dan. 12:2.) It would have been a sleep that would have known no waking, had it not been that [R1378 : page 75] God in his grace provided redemption from that death which came upon all through father Adam, in the death of Christ our Lord, who became a man and then gave himself our ransom-price – died, the just for the unjust. (Rom. 5:12,18,19,20.) Thus the sentence of Adam's sin is settled by Christ for all who accept his sacrifice and come into covenant relationship – which sooner or later all must have a chance to do. Thus the general resurrection of all is provided for; and in view of that awakening from death which God had fore-ordained, he and all who trust him call the Adamic death a sleep, from which all will awake in the Millennial morning. But the second death is never designated a sleep: because it will never end, it will be an everlasting extinction of being to all who go into it. The soul that sinneth shall die – an everlasting punishment for wilful sin against full light and opportunity, such as the world will enjoy during the Millennium; but which only consecrated believers may enjoy now.
It was in view of the awakening, the resurrection, that Job, in the midst of his trouble, said, "Oh! that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past [until the time for the curse to be removed by the establishment of God's Kingdom in the earth], that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me....All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I [from death] will answer thee [by coming forth]: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thy hands." – Job 14:13-15. [R1378 : page 76]
The doctrine of a resurrection is entirely incompatible with the teaching of modern theology, that the righteous dead are not really dead, but more alive than ever in heaven; and that the wicked dead are not really dead, but in a place of torment. If such were the case the prophecies of the preceding lesson, and numerous others, could never be fulfilled. Shall faithful Abraham, indeed, return from heaven to claim the promise of a home in the land wherein he was a stranger? And shall the multitudes of his posterity, who were corrupt and idolatrous, return from the sulphurous pit of modern theology to share it with him?
No, but as the Prophet (Ezek. 37:12) declares, they will be brought up out of their graves, which statement is abundantly corroborated by the Lord and all the prophets and apostles. "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man." (John 3:13; Acts 2:34.) Even the faithful Apostle Paul did not expect to go to heaven at death, but having fought the good fight and kept the faith and finished his course, he exclaimed, "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day [the day of his appearing and kingdom]: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." (2 Tim. 4:8.) True, Paul's portion as a member of the body or bride of Christ will not be an earthly, but a heavenly inheritance – to be entered into "at that day."
While the just and certain wages of sin is death, the gift of God, praise his holy name, is eternal life to all who will accept it on his righteous terms, through Christ Jesus, our Lord and Redeemer. And it will be the privilege of every son and daughter of Adam, if they will have it. To the world in general it will be the restored human life in Edenic bliss; and to the members of the body or bride of Christ, being selected during this Gospel age, it will be a life of participation with him in his glory and divine nature. [R1378 : page 76]
LESSON XIII., MARCH 27, ISA. 40:1-10.
Although the seed of Abraham according to the flesh has always been a rebellious house, yet God has covenanted, as we have seen in preceding lessons, that he will yet again bless them wonderfully with his favor and use them as a blessing to others. The special blessing will come through the spiritual Israel (Christ and his little flock) upon representatives of the fleshly seed, who at that time will be in favor again, and more ready than others for the blessings and terms of the New Covenant, then to be thrown open to all mankind. These, receiving the favor first, will become the mouthpieces and channels of that New Covenant blessing to others.
For centuries fleshly Israel has been desolate and without divine favor – ever since their rejection of Messiah, when he said, "Your house is left unto you desolate." Their career previously had been a period of favor; for though they had suffered much and often for sins, God cared for them and heard their repentant cry and brought them back again to the land of promise. Their chastisement with favor lasted from the death of Jacob, where their national history began, for 1845 years, until our Lord in A.D. 33 pronounced their sentence. And this lesson (Isa. 40:1,2) with other prophecies tells us that when a like period of 1845 years chastisement without favor shall have passed, Israel will be restored to divine favor.
Verses 1 and 2, "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye [the Church] comfortably to Jerusalem [the natural seed], and cry unto her that her appointed time [margin] is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned, for she hath received at the Lord's hand double [literally, the other half or second half] for all her sins."
The exact turning-point of Israel's favor is clearly marked by Scripture (Zech. 9:9-12). The Prophet, after describing our Lord's entry into Jerusalem on the ass the very day he said, "Your house is left unto you desolate," says: "Even to-day do I declare that I will render double [Hebrew, mishneh, a second portion, a repetition] unto thee."
The Prophet Jeremiah had also predicted the same thing, and described it as a season of unmingled disfavor, as it surely has been ever since their rejection of Messiah. He said, "Therefore will I cast you out of this land, into a land that ye know not, NEITHER [R1378 : page 77] YE NOR YOUR FATHERS [Europe – their fathers had been in Egypt and in Babylon, but never in Europe], and there shall ye serve other gods [rulers] day and night where I will not show you favor." (Jer. 16:13.) The next four verses show that they will not forever remain cast off, but that they shall be regathered and blessed; but he adds: "First, [R1379 : page 77] I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double." – Verse 18.
And now the Prophet Isaiah (40:1,2), taking the standpoint of the end of this "appointed time," says, "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her that her appointed time is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received of the Lord's hand double [she has completed the second portion of her punishment] for all her sins."
Thus we find Jeremiah from the standpoint of the past predicting this "appointed time" of chastisement and promising deliverance at its close; Zechariah pointing out the very day when it began; and Isaiah giving the comforting message to be delivered at its close. For fuller treatment of this subject see Millennial Dawn, Vol. II., Chap. viii.
But who is to deliver these comforting words? Verse 3 shows that it is one like unto John the Baptist, and like unto Elias – "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness." That John the Baptist, who cried in the wilderness of Judea and introduced Christ at his first advent, was only a partial fulfilment of this prophecy is clearly shown by our Lord's reply to the inquiry in many minds whether John were the Elias that should come before the great and notable day of the Lord, or not. Jesus said, "If ye will receive it, this is Elias [the one who was to come 'in the spirit and power of Elias,' according to Luke 1:17] which was to come." (Matt. 11:14.) But Israel did not receive John the Baptist as the Elias, nor did they receive the Messiah, who then offered himself to them as their King, whose presence John heralded. And therefore their unrecognized and rejected King departed and their house was "left desolate" until he should come again in glory and power, when again his presence must be heralded by another who shall come in the spirit and power of Elias – another "Voice" crying in the wilderness, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God."
That the time for this message to go forth has already come is clearly shown in Millennial Dawn, Vol. II., The Time Is At Hand; and a class of earnest Christians, in the spirit and power of Elias – an uncompromising and fearless spirit, and armed, like Elias, with the power of divine truth – are now crying in the wilderness (for all such are in the wilderness condition, separate from the world and the worldly minded nominal Christians), "Prepare ye the way of the Lord." And all who have this spirit of Elias, and who have also the power of present truth concerning the proximity and glorious character of the Kingdom of God and of the presence of Jehovah's Anointed who is even now setting up his Kingdom – all such constitute the Elias that was to come – the Voice in the wilderness, whether uttered audibly or through the printed page declaring God's wonderful plan of the ages and announcing Messiah's second presence.
Verse 4. "Every valley [the meek and humble] shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill [present great ones of earth] shall be made low: and the crooked [the crooked ruts in which the present evil order of things are running] shall be made straight, and the rough places [the errors, inconsistencies, false doctrines and stumbling-stones of a perverted public sentiment, shall be made] plain."
Verse 5. "And the glory of the Lord [the glory of his righteous character, and of his government and power and wisdom and love] shall be revealed [then], and all flesh shall see [appreciate] it together; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." Glorious message! let all who hear it take part in sounding it abroad; for the time is at hand.
But only the few are ready for this great change of dispensation: the majority fancy that all things shall continue as they are. Especially do the great ones in politics and theology and finance feel strong and confident that the valleys and hills of society will never come to a level. To this end combinations and trusts are being formed; but the Lord sends them another message, as follows –
Verses 6-8. "A voice saith, Proclaim; and he saith, What shall I proclaim? [The answer is, Proclaim that] All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the [R1379 : page 78] field. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; because the breath of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God will stand firm forever."
It will require only a breath from the Lord to scatter all the might and glory and power of earthly institutions. His word therefore will be fulfilled; and all who oppose his plan will fade in the great day of wrath which shall burn as an oven, and in which all the proud and all that do wickedly shall be as stubble. – Malachi 4:1.
Next, verses 9-11, the message changes to one of encouragement to God's people during that period of trouble. (Psa. 46.) They need not be afraid. When men's hearts are failing them for fear and for looking forward to those things coming upon the earth [society], these may rejoice and lift up their heads, knowing that their redemption at the same time is drawing nigh. (Luke 21:26.) In that day while the trouble draws on the Lord will feed his people with present truth.
Verse 9. "O Zion, that bringest good tidings [the one Church, represented by its last living members, the Elias class, the only ones who know and can proclaim the good tidings of restitution, etc.], get thee up into the high mountain. [Let the Church be glorified as God's Kingdom or mountain; let the dead in Christ awake in his glorious likeness, and let those who are alive and remain be changed in the moment of their dying and not sleep as have others; and thus let the promise be fulfilled – 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth.' – Rev. 14:13.] O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength. [After the Church, the bride, has been glorified with the Lord, the faithful ones of the fleshly seed of Abraham will begin to come into prominence before the world by reason of the leaders whom God will then raise up for them]. Lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah [all who shall then be in covenant relationship with God] Behold! Your God is here!" [Thus the message now given by "the feet" of Christ – that the Millennial kingdom is already beginning its rule, Isa. 52:7 – will be taken up by the earthly class when the "feet of Him" have passed beyond the vail.]
Verses 10 and 11 go back and connect with verse 2, saying, "Behold, the Lord God will come against the strong one [Satan], and his arm [Christ] shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him and his recompense for work, before him. He shall feed his flock [the 'little flock' – all that follow him – not Babylon] like a shepherd: he shall gather his lambs with his arm [helping even the weakest of his true sheep], and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that give suck." Those who give suck represent teachers and evangelists among the Lord's sheep. This day of the Lord is to be a time of special trial to such (Matt. 24:19); but all such who are true sheep will be very tenderly and carefully led along into the present truth by the great Shepherd.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – Last Sunday I spent with Brothers Rogers and West. They met me at the Astor House Saturday evening, at eight o'clock, and we had a most delightful and refreshing meeting in my room. The next morning, Sunday, they came again, and after another little season of prayer we went over to Staten Island and met Brother and Sister Crane, dined with them, and then, our little party being increased by Brother Crane, we went over to Brooklyn to Brother Blunden's house, where we also met Sisters Stapleton, McPhail, and Sister Blunden's mother and daughter, and Sister Hickey and Brother Snook.
For a subject, we started to consider what Christ is now doing, in his day of presence, and for Scripture we read Matt. 24, and before we were aware of it, the two hours allotted for study had been all occupied in considering the evidences of his presence, without touching on his work at all. Brother and Sister Blunden insisted that we remain to a delicious tea spread for us, and after an hour's conversation on the two subjects nearest our hearts – the Ransom and Restitution – Brother West and I heard Mr. Talmage, at the Brooklyn Tabernacle, preach a characteristic sermon on "Ordinary men, doing ordinary work, in the ordinary way and receiving ordinary compensation." He is a strong speaker, but had no "meat" for us. We found Brothers Rogers and Crane waiting for us at the hotel, and we had another season of prayer in my little room. What a glorious, happy day it was!
Your brother in Christ,
A GOOD TESTIMONY: – "Until within a few years I have been a most pronounced materialist. The study of hypnotism drew my attention to the power of things unseen. Then I looked into Buddhism, Theosophy, Spiritualism and Christian Science. All these were found wanting; and though to a student of modern science the Ransom given by Christ seems like foolishness, I can see no other possible chance for the salvation of mankind. He who goes into the depths of philosophy finds only vanity and vexation of spirit. I have read MILLENNIAL DAWN with much interest."
"I am more and more impressed with the necessity in these days of feeding only on 'clean provender' (Isa. 30:24), and letting severely alone all those various writings that multiply the danger in these perilous times (2 Tim. 3:11), and especially such as come under false pretensions as messengers of light. – 2 Cor. 11:13-15."
The wonderfully rapid change of vast wastes of the earth's surface into rich productiveness in fruits, grains and vineyards, now being witnessed on both hemispheres, is just on time – abundance of rain, with springs, lakes and wells of water bursting forth in the deserts and vast plains where for hundreds of years no wells, springs, rivers or rain have been known.
We remember that this very work is to be going on, even during or "in the time of the slaughter" among the nations, "when the towers fall." (Isa. 30:25.) The falling of the towers (kings, potentates, etc.) must accompany the slaughter (disintegration, grinding to powder) of the nations. You have no doubt noticed the following prophecies now commencing to be fulfilled. – Isa. 30:25; 35:6,7; 41:18; 43:19,20; 51:3.
I have seen (last February, on my return from your place to my home here in California), on the border of both the Colorado and Mojavi deserts, thousands of acres made productive by wells "bursting forth" in the desert. I have a brother there who has already put down forty wells, from every one of which vast quantities of purest water bursts forth. This is taken in large stone pipes over hundreds of acres of the thirsty, sterile soil. [R1380 : page 79] Hundreds of thousands of vines and fruit trees are at once planted and their rapid growth is indeed surprising.
Knowing as we do that the Lord is to do a "short work in the earth," preparatory to the full installment of his Son with his anointed body, in full ruling power, having all things under him; that over forty per cent of this work is accomplished; and that only twenty-three years of the allotted time remain, during which the remaining sixty per cent of the work is to be accomplished, gives these varied events and agencies the highest interest.
[While the prophecies above cited have special reference, we think, to Israel and the now barren land of Palestine, we believe that the same blessings of restitution are also due to the whole earth. – EDITOR.]
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – We are glad to acknowledge the receipt of two letters from you which gave us the more pleasure since they were unexpected. We could form some idea of the amount of work awaiting you upon your arrival home, so we did not look for a letter so soon, but we intended writing to you anyway to tell you how thankful we are that you and Sister Russell are well and safe at home. We feel sure that your long, tiresome journey will not be in vain: you will have gathered much that will benefit the household of faith. We do appreciate, dear brother and sister, your labor of love, and for this cause we also rejoice with you.
Ever since we came home, last July, we have found many opportunities for service and sacrifice. We have had many seasons of sweet communion with the brethren in our vicinity, and some good letters from those "harvesters" gone out from among us. This is the oneness and unity that rejoices our hearts. Brother Utley has been with us since September first, canvassing and delivering in the different towns. He has put in a goodly number of DAWNS through this part, and delivered several lectures. After each lecture we had good question meetings, and though we know of only a few who are deeply interested, yet quite a number truly rejoice in the good tidings. People who four years ago would not listen at all come to us now to enquire, for they are beginning to see things are not right in the nominal church. This gives us an opportunity to speak a word in season. We know the truth will prevail, and we rejoice in every opportunity to speak a word or suffer reproach for the truth's sake, and count it a great privilege to do so.
With kindest love to the Church at Allegheny, and much love to Sister Russell and yourself, in which Sister Webb joins, I am yours in the glorious hope,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – On the 7th of last June I stepped into a small hall in this city, and heard for the first time some of the precious truths I have since learned to love. I had been for some months engaged in evangelistic and missionary work. I had been for years a member of the Baptist sect, and you doubtless know how hard it was for me to give up the old ideas which would not let go of me, but how I praise God to-day. Before I had finished the second reading of DAWN, Vol. I., I felt that perhaps I might have been mistaken all these years, so I made up my mind to read the second volume. This I also read twice, and by that time felt that it must be true, but hardly dared believe, and did not dare to assert my belief, lest it might be error. Then I went back to the first volume again and read it the third time, and then the second volume a third time. Truly this third reading was a feast, and, eager for more, I wrote for the third volume. All this time I had enjoyed the precious things the books had brought me with scarcely even a thought of those through whose labors the truth had been so plainly and convincingly set forth, but when I took up the third volume and read the preface, an almost overwhelming sense of the gratitude I owed, not only to the dear heavenly Father, but to his agents in bringing these things to my attention, came over me, and I have found it truly hard to wait for your return home, to express to you as well as I can the deep gratitude I feel.
Brother Russell, I loved the Lord Jesus dearly before. I had already not only given up for his sake friend and home but had known by a most bitter experience what it meant to be persecuted for his work; yet proving through all the bitterness the truthfulness of the promise that he would be a satisfying portion, I was happy without home or friends, because I had Jesus. I was continually conscious of his presence with me. But now it seems to me at times my heart will burst with love and gratitude and praise. I cannot do half enough for him; but he shall have the earnest, faithful service of every remaining hour of my life.
I am eagerly starting out to give to others the glad tidings that have come to me, and yet I start almost fearfully. Is it not strange? I have been a dear lover of the Bible for years. I have read carefully and prayerfully, and have been led out of much orthodox error, and before I read DAWN I confidently went among the people, sure that I could give them food that would satisfy beyond any thing the popular preachers could give; but now that I have been so richly fed myself I feel timid about going, lest one should ask for something which I cannot give.
I received to-night a precious letter from the office, in which the wish is expressed that I may be "filled with a spirit of love and humility." It seems to me I must be. I never felt my own littleness and unworthiness as I have felt it in the past three months, since I began to see the precious truth. I am amazed, as I look over my life and see what bungling and inefficient work I have done and called it work for the Lord, to think that he has trusted me with this precious truth, and is going to let me still call myself one of his workers. O Brother and Sister Russell, pray for me that I may be enabled to work in such a way that through my work, as through yours, sheaves may be garnered for his glorious kingdom.
Once more thanking you for the great blessing and peace brought to me through your work, I will close. Yours in like precious faith,
I enclose you a paper giving you a concise sketch of the recent controversy between the priests of Babylon and Col. Ingersoll – the Goliath that only David could kill, and who is therefore still strutting up and down before the Nominal Church, the supposed agent and institution of Jehovah.
I must call your attention to Rev. Dixon's assertion that God could even use an ass (Balaam's) for his ends and how much more a priest, and Ingersoll's retort, how much more and better the ass knew and did than the priest.
I also enclose an offer made me of $100.00 per month and expenses (one of many). I have rejected them all, believing the King who owns all the cattle and silver will pay better still, though as yet it may be evident only to the eye of faith. The eternal things are those unseen by eyes of flesh.
We both join in warmest greetings to you and Sr. Russell. In Christ the Redeemer,
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[R1380 : page 83]
|VOL. XIII.||MARCH 15, 1892.||NO. 6.|
Here we are at last in this land so sacred to the hearts of all who love God – the land of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the Prophets, the Lord and the Apostles. And although our eyes are busy trying to notice all the points of interest, and our memories busy recalling the many things written concerning these places in the remote past, and our hearts full and tender as we recall the scenes of our Master's sufferings on our behalf, and our hopes vivid for the evidences of coming blessings upon the natural seed of Abraham, we do not forget the true spiritual Zion whose deliverance and glorification must first take place before fleshly Israel, and then all the families of the earth, shall be blessed.
We land at Jaffa or Joppa, the seaport for Jerusalem, to which the king of Tyre sent the cedars of Lebanon to king Solomon for the building of the Temple. It is probably much [R1381 : page 83] the same as when Jonah visited it, fleeing from his duty, to take ship for Tarshish; much the same, too, as when Peter lodged here at the house of one Simon, a tanner, upon whose roof he saw the vision directing him no longer to consider God-fearing Gentiles "unclean."
The houses are small and crowded, and as the town is built upon rising ground, the houses and streets are quite up and down. As in all oriental cities, the streets are very narrow – mere alley-ways, we should say in America.
The conveyance which will carry us to Jerusalem is a rickety carriage drawn by three lean little horses – for the railroad, although progressing and already finished about one-third the distance, carries no passengers yet. Upon it, however, construction trains are running constantly.
While our conveyance is getting ready we will see the city, and get dusted from head to foot by taking a walk, and climb to the house of Simon, the tanner. Ah! there it is. Not the same house, of course, but one upon its site, and probably much of the same size and shape, for here architecture and the building art have made little progress – retrograding, more probably. It is a house of one large living-room with a smaller reception room. Outside is a large stone box recently found near the spot, and supposed to be the one used by Simon and his successors in the tanning business. There beside the box is a water-well: quite likely, the same at which Peter drank while residing here. Outside the house against the well a flight of stone steps leads to the roof – similar to the one where Peter prayed and saw the vision. – Acts 10 and 11.
Our conveyance is ready and we start for Jerusalem on a route full of interesting memories – over hills and valleys trodden often by the feet of the Great Teacher and his apostles. Not the same road exactly, but the same route; [R1381 : page 84] for the present excellent road is of recent construction, the old Roman road of our Lord's day being here and there visible, but now abandoned for the better one.
The tomb of Dorcas (Tabitha) is the first item of interest; it is a public fountain. This recalls the story of Dorcas, one of the saints of the early Church, a friend of the poor, whose awakening from the sleep of death is recorded in Acts 9:36-43. The tomb is in the outskirts of Jaffa, and leaving it we pass rapidly several fruit gardens hedged about by prickly-pear trees. At any other time, no doubt, these would appear beautiful, but now they are dry and dusty, for this is the dry season here, and no rain has fallen for several months.
Outside of Jaffa we are in the "Plain of Sharon." It is at present very dry and barren looking, but our guide, a very well-informed and reliable man, tells us that it yields large crops, and that at any other season we would see it spangled with wild flowers of every hue. Our route lies across this plain for twenty miles, while it is nearly one hundred and fifty miles long. Under skilful management and with proper machinery this strip of land would yield immensely. Even at present it yields large quantities of grain for export, though the native farmers are taxed enormously for all they raise, besides paying heavy rentals for the use of the land and heavy interests for the money necessary to put in a crop. As much as 30, 40 and 50 per cent interest, for a six months loan, is charged by the wealthy who have money to loan. The Jews are seldom farmers here, but many of them, as everywhere, are money-lenders. In the eyes of a European or American, however, none of the people appear to be wealthy: all look to be poor.
Here on our left is a modern Arab village, built of small stones and slimed over with earth. The people of this and other similar villages are called "fellah" – they are the poor tax and interest burdened farmers. They are probably happy in their way, but others used to some of life's comforts would be miserable if thus situated. Ah! the thought comes forcibly, if such things pain our hearts and awaken our sympathy, what must it have been to our dear Master to witness the pain, poverty, degradation and general distress which sin brought into the world. No wonder "Jesus groaned in spirit," for, surrounded by such, he would not increase their troubles by explaining to them the extent of their degradation, while he could not yet, according to the Father's plan, apply the balm for all their woes (Restitution) – until he had paid the ransom-price for all; and until his Church, his Bride, being selected, the due time should arrive for the healing of every wound. (Acts 3:19-21.) We also groaned in spirit as we saw their poor estate and the blind and maimed in the way, and prayed, "Thy Kingdom come!" and wished it were already time to pour out the great blessing upon the world, typified in the Sabbath-day healings performed by our Lord. We rejoiced, however, in the "greater works" in which even now we are permitted to have a share – feeding the poor with the spiritual bread, anointing the eyes of the spiritually blind and cleansing spiritually those afflicted with the leprosy of sin. We concluded that we must be content for the present, and wait the Lord's time for the rising of the Sun of Righteousness with healing in his beams. – Mal. 4:2.
There on our left is the traditional site of Hazar-Shual, where Samson caught the foxes and used them in burning the crops in this very Plain of Sharon, which at that time was held by the Philistines who had invaded and over-powered Israel. (Judges 15:4.) Samson's trick was not mere wantonness, but a warfare for the impoverishment of the captors and for the recovery of the land to his nation.
Although so dry and parched looking, there is something growing here even now. It looks like our American corn or maize, but the stalk is only half as thick and the grain is not in "ears," but in a bunch or head at the top of the stalk. It is called "Indian Corn," and our guide has plucked a sample for us. The grains are larger than wheat, and round.
Here we are at the Tower of Ramleh. While the horses rest we will climb to its top and have a good view of the surroundings. To the east is the hill-country or mountains; to the west is the Mediterranean sea; to the north is Mt. Carmel, where Elijah tested the prophets of Baal [R1381 : page 85] and proved that Jehovah alone is God (1 Kings 18:19); to the south is Gaza, the city whose gates Samson carried away; and this side of it is Gath, the home of Goliath, and Lydda, where one of the early Christian Churches was founded and where the Apostle Peter performed a notable miracle. – Acts 9:32.
We have now reached the valley of Ajalon, and to the north-east is Mt. Gibeon. We recall this as the scene of the notable battle between Israel and the Amorites, in connection with which is the account of the standing still of the sun and the moon. Endeavoring to locate the battle, we are impressed with the fact that if the sun were standing over Mt. Gibeon there could be no use for moonlight in the valley of Ajalon, which in that event would be flooded with sunlight. The account given in Joshua does not purport to be recorded by an eye witness, but is rather a note and comment upon a record given in the "Book of Jasher," now lost. The facts which form the basis of the matter recorded would seem to us to be explainable in either one of two ways: –
(1) That Joshua addressed the Lord as the Sun, whose strength and help had so signally been revealed for the relief of Israel and for the destruction of their enemies. With this the words agree well: "Then spake Joshua to the Lord...and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon, and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon:" that is to say, O Lord, our Sun and strong Deliverer, continue thy mighty help for us in this battle at Mt. Gibeon, and let thy peaceful blessing [the Moon] be upon thy people in the valley of Ajalon; or
(2) That the sun was setting in the west and its last beams still lighted Mount Gibeon while the rising moon cast her beams directly through the valley of Ajalon. In this view the desire and request of Joshua would be not with reference to the sun itself, but with reference to the sun-light: he desired that utter darkness might not overtake them, in order that the victory be a complete and lasting one. If this be the proper view, then it was the sun-light merely that continued, without the orb itself being visible. This would not have required a stoppage of the earth upon its axis, for clouds might have been so arranged as to prolong the sunset, as they sometimes do at the present time.
We are now more than midway between Jaffa and Jerusalem, in the valley of Wady-Ali, and before us is the site of Kirjath-jearim, where the Ark of the Covenant rested for twenty years in the house of Aminadab (1 Sam. 7:1,2), whence it was taken by King David to Jerusalem. (2 Sam. 6:3.) Away before us, to the left, is Mizpah, (not the place named Mizpah by Jacob when he covenanted with Laban his father-in-law, saying, "The Lord watch between thee and me when we are absent one from another" – that was on the other side of Jordan, but) the place where Saul, the first king of Israel, was chosen and anointed, near which also Samuel, the prophet, reared a monument to the Lord, called Ebenezer, saying, "Hitherto the Lord hath helped us." (1 Sam. 7:5-17; 10:17.) Yonder, not far off, is Gibeah, the birth-place of King Saul.
Since getting into the hill-country the land has seemed very desolate, stones being almost the only things in sight, except that here and there in the valleys we have caught glimpses of cultivated gardens and settlements. Undoubtedly it would look much less barren at any other season of the year; and there are evidences that the hill and mountain sides now lying waste, except here and there a few olive trees and grape vines, were once well terraced and no doubt yielded grapes and olives in profusion.
Here we pass near by Ain-Karim, which tradition marks as the birth-place of John the Baptist. Here in the hill-country of Judea Mary visited his mother, Elizabeth. – Luke 1:39.
Now we have reached the brook and valley of Elah, the reputed site of David's battle with Goliath, and while we are listening to "the voice (sound) of the grinding of the mill," manipulated by women by hand, as in olden time, Abdullah, our thoughtful guide, has selected for us as mementoes five smooth sling-stones from the brook-bed, such as the five which David took, the first of which smote and killed Goliath, the Philistines' champion.
Now we pass close to a town supposed to be [R1382 : page 86] the Emmaus to which our Lord walked with two disciples after his resurrection. – Luke 24:13.
It is late when we reach Jerusalem, so we secure lodging, etc., at the clean, airy and comfortable "Hotel Jerusalem," outside the Jaffa Gate, in what is sometimes termed "the new city of Jerusalem," because here are most of the new buildings. Indeed, the population outside the wall near the Jaffa Gate bids fair to be greater than that within at no distant day. And our attention is drawn to the fact that this portion is precisely that so accurately described by the prophets. – Zech. 14:10; Jer. 31:38-40.
BELIEVERS' CONVENTION, AT ALLEGHENY, PA., UNDER THE AUSPICES OF THE TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY, FOR BIBLE STUDY, IN CONNECTION WITH THE ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF OUR LORD'S DEATH. APRIL 7TH TO 14TH, INCLUSIVE, 1892.
For a number of years past it has been the custom for such of the WATCH TOWER readers as can do so to meet in Allegheny for fellowship and study for a few days in connection with the memorial of our Lord's Last Supper. Such meetings are purposed for the present year, as above announced. These meetings will be held in the chapel over the office of Zion's Watch Tower, "Bible House," No. 58 Arch Street, Allegheny.
No fixed program is announced except for Sunday Evening, April 10th, when the Lord's Memorial Supper will be celebrated at 7:30 o'clock. The meetings will commence on Thursday, April 7th, and continue from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. (with noon adjournment for lunch) daily for a week. The sessions preceding the Memorial celebration will be specially devoted to Bible study, at which Bible questions of every kind will be entertained – among others, Baptism and its significance – and an opportunity will then be afforded for any who may so desire to symbolize their death with Christ by immersion. We have robes and every convenience. More than fifty persons availed themselves of this opportunity last year.
(1) All who trust for justification in the great atoning sacrifice for sins given at Calvary by our Lord Jesus will be welcomed; and (2) especially all such who have presented themselves as living sacrifices in God's service; and [R1383 : page 86] (3) particularly all such who are regular subscribers to Zion's Watch Tower; and (4) all those engaged in the Colporteur work, or who contemplate entering that ministry.
Friends of the Lord and the Truth, here, have arranged for the lodging and breakfast and supper of all Watch Tower subscribers and Colporteurs who may attend the Convention. And in return we have assured them that all who come will gladly lend a hand to carry what otherwise would burden them and hinder their attendance at the meetings. Come prepared to sleep on clean comfortable floor-beds or the best that we can supply to so large a number. But do not bring little ones or uninterested friends, unless they can be otherwise provided for, as every bit of space will be required and reserved for those who are interested.
Come in a thoughtful and prayerful mood, expecting to be influenced for good and earnest to exercise such an influence upon all with whom you may come in contact. It has been remarked of previous meetings that from the waking to the sleeping moment, both in and out of meetings, there was but the one topic of conversation – the good tidings of great joy. One old Brother, a U.P. minister, remarked: "I have been at many Conventions, but never before at one like this, where the will and plan [R1383 : page 87] of God are the only and the incessant topic from rising until retiring; in the house, on the street, at meeting, at lunch and everywhere." Come resolved that this meeting shall be none behind its predecessors in spiritual fervor through coldness or indifference or unfavorable influence on your part.
Arrangements will be made, with boarding houses near, whereby all attending the meetings can procure good, comfortable dinners, as low as 15 cents each. Thus the near-by friends as well as those from a distance can spend the entire days at the meetings. And those of limited means, from a distance, can know that their entire expense for the seven days need not exceed twenty-five cents a day, including street-car fare.
The terms are uniform, as follows: Any one purchasing a first class, full fare ticket (limited or unlimited) over the above lines to the Convention of the Tower Tract Society, Allegheny, Pa., will be entitled to a printed and signed Certificate, stating that he has purchased such ticket and the route taken. On arrival here, said Certificate will be given to a designated clerk who will certify to your attendance at the Convention; and when ready to take your return journey, you will be granted a return ticket over the same route by which you came, at ONE THIRD the regular first class fare. Thus full fare here and one third of full fare back will be your railroad charges. But to secure this cheap return, you must have your Certificate properly signed over railroads belonging to the above associations. Make no mistake. If the railroads of your town are not members of any of these associations, the ticket agent can direct you to the nearest station of such roads. In that case go to such station and buy your through-ticket and get your Certificate there. If coming from points north of Chicago and west of Chicago and St. Louis, buy ordinary tickets to those cities and there get your Certificate, etc.
If you think of coming to the Convention, at once drop us a postal card to that effect, and also call upon your railroad ticket agent and tell him that you will want such a Certificate. Do this in time, so that if he has no blank Certificates on hand, he can get them from his General Ticket Agent. But do not buy your ticket until you are ready to start.
We believe and teach that the most proper occasion for the celebration of our Lord's death is its anniversary. This was the custom of the early Church, and it is still observed in a fashion by some denominations on Good Friday – although, in order to have the observance come upon the same day of the week, the exactness of the date is disregarded. We, like the early Church, prefer to observe the memorial upon its exact anniversary – which we reckon as they and the Jews reckoned it – by lunar time – the day before the beginning of the Jewish Passover.
Furthermore, we believe and teach that the only proper manner for the celebration of this memorial is that which our Lord introduced and which the early Church followed, and not as Good Friday is now celebrated by some.
On the same night in which he was betrayed – after 6 o'clock P.M. of what we now would call the 13th day of the Hebrew month Nisan, but which the Jews called the beginning of the 14th day of the month (their 24-hour day beginning [R1382 : page 88] with the evening); and therefore, in Jewish reckoning, in the same day in which he was crucified (the day before their Passover week began) – our Lord celebrated the Passover supper with his disciples. (The lamb supper, which always preceded the feast-week of Passover, was not, and is not now, termed the Feast of Passover by the Jews.) And after having thus complied with the Law (which was still in force over every Jew until our Lord's death on the cross), Jesus instituted a memorial of his own death, bread and "the fruit of the vine" being used as emblems of his flesh and blood.
And to us it appears that the time is no less a part of the institution than the bread and the juice of the grape. We should as soon think of substituting another time than that of the institution – especially in view of the particularity of our Lord in the matter; for although he declared, "With desire have I desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer," yet, according to the Law, it could not be eaten until the anniversary of the killing of the typical lamb preceding the passing over of Israel's first-born in Egypt; which was to be the anniversary also of the killing of the true "Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world" and by whom the Church of the first-born is first to be spared or delivered. Our Lord waited, therefore, and "when the hour was come [the earliest hour possible according to the Law] he sat down." – Luke 22:14-20.
The words of the Apostle "As oft as ye do this, ye do show forth the Lord's death until he come" (1 Cor. 11:26 – particularly explained in March '91 Tower), are understood by many to give license to the observing of any hour, any day and any month; but not so to those who read critically; for the words "do this" have special weight. It would not be this if done at another time: just as if a command were given to celebrate the Independence of the United States on the fourth day of July, it would not be a fulfilment of this command, nor a celebration of this event, but something else, if another day were celebrated.
But let no one suppose that we teach that God's people are under the Law on this or on any other subject. The only law of our new covenant is the law of love. We love our Master, we love to celebrate his great sacrifice for our sins, and we love to do it as he was pleased to show us, as nearly as we can.
Some of the Lord's people celebrate his death every first day of the week, supposing that in so doing they have the sanction of the custom of the apostles and the early Church, as recorded in Acts 2:46; 20:7. We hold, however, that they err in this application of the words "breaking of bread," and that it was not the Memorial Supper, but an ordinary meal customary in the early Church for two reasons, (1) being few and scattered, when they gathered for a meeting they brought a luncheon; and (2) probably for the same reason that they met on the first day of the week, they ate a meal together, viz.: because it was on the first day of the week that our Lord arose from the dead, and because on that day he expounded unto them the fulfilment of the Scriptures applicable to himself and was known to them in the breaking of bread, i.e., in the eating of supper. No wonder that afterward they loved to celebrate both the day and the meal which brought them so much joy and blessing. – Luke 24:25-32.
Those who have confounded these luncheons, celebrating the resurrection on the first day of the week, with the Memorial of our Lord's death have erred greatly if not seriously. They should notice, too, that the fruit of the vine is not mentioned in connection with these luncheons, while it is never omitted when the Memorial Supper is referred to, being no less important than the bread. The same expression, "breaking of bread," from the same Greek words, is used in Acts 27:35 where there can be no doubt that it refers to an ordinary repast for the satisfying of hunger and not as a memorial or symbol.
We treat this subject but briefly here. As to who should celebrate the Memorial, and [R1382 : page 89] how, and many other interesting points, our regular readers are referred to our issue of March, 1891. While our supply lasts, we will be pleased to send a copy of that issue free to new readers who desire to study the subject further.
Let us urge upon all who recognize that value of Christ's death as their ransom-sacrifice, to surely "do this," as the Master enjoined, in remembrance of that great event which is the basis of our present joy in the Lord as well as of those which we shall enter upon as the fulfilment of this Memorial – when we shall partake of the joys of our Lord in glory, in the Kingdom. But those who trust to forgiveness aside from this sacrifice for sins, or who are trusting that they can crucify their own sins, and thus render themselves acceptable to God (as some claim), should not celebrate this Memorial; for in so doing they would be eating and drinking condemnation to themselves – not discerning the value of the Lord's broken body and shed blood as the one and only sin-offering which can take away sin and make the believer acceptable before God.
"Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you." – 1 Pet. 5:7.
"What can it mean? Is it aught to him
That the nights are long and the days are dim?
Can he be touched by the griefs I bear,
Which sadden the heart and whiten the hair?
Around his throne are eternal calms,
And strong, glad music of happy psalms,
And bliss unruffled by any strife.
How can he care for my poor life?
"And yet I want him to care for me,
While I live in this world where the sorrows be;
When the lights die down on the path I take;
When strength is feeble, and friends forsake;
When love and music, that once did bless,
Have left me to silence and loneliness;
And life-song changes to sobbing prayers –
Then my heart cries out for a God who cares.
"When shadows hang o'er me the whole day long,
And my spirit is bowed with shame and wrong;
When I am not good, and the deeper shade
Of conscious sin makes my heart afraid;
And the busy world has too much to do
To stay in its course to help me through,
And I long for a Savior – can it be
That the God of the universe cares for me?
"O wonderful story of deathless love!
Each child is dear to that heart above:
He fights for me when I can not fight;
He comforts me in the gloom of night;
He lifts the burden, for he is strong;
He stills the sigh, and awakens the song;
The sorrow that bowed me down he bears,
And loves and pardons, because he cares.
"Let all who are sad take heart again.
We are not alone in our hours of pain;
Our Father stoops from his throne above
To soothe and quiet us with his love.
He leaves us not when the storm is high,
And we have safety, for he is nigh.
Can that be trouble which he doth share?
Oh! rest in peace, for the Lord does care."– Sel.
Thus runs the title-page of an advertising circular before us. The second page gives a picture of Christ in heaven, with Joseph and Mary on either hand, praying to him for those suffering in Purgatory; below which the sufferers and the flames are pictured. Subsequent pages explain that the admission fee is 25 cents and the annual dues 10 cents. Any surplus of merit more than is necessary for the members of the society will be generously donated to others now in Purgatory. The money goes to pay the priest for the sacrificing of the Mass. (See M. Dawn, Vol. III., p. 99.) The priest, "Rev. J. F. Durin," is President, Secretary, Treasurer and General Manager. How blind are those who support such an institution and those Protestants who sympathize with it.
LESSON I., APRIL 3, PSALM 1:1-6.
The first three verses of this lesson picture the perfect man, the man whose heart is perfected in holiness, the pure in heart. Hence the picture is pre-eminently that of the perfect man, Christ Jesus, and secondarily that of those imperfect men and women who, being justified by faith in Christ, are, as new creatures, walking in their Master's footsteps, and hence right at heart, even though sometimes imperfect through the weaknesses of their earthen vessels.
The first verse shows three steps, (1) the ungodly – literally, the wicked, (2) sinners or transgressors, and (3) scorners or the conceited and unteachable.
The proper course is to have no fellowship (sympathy and common interest) with people of any of these classes. This, of course, does not mean that we are to treat them unkindly or discourteously, nor that we are never to be seen walking, standing or sitting with such; but it does imply that our company should, as far as possible, be select, and of those who reverence our God, and that other fellowships should not be encouraged.
A greater number, perhaps, are in danger of getting into fellowship with the scorners or unteachable than with the others: yet fellowship with such leads to the same spirit; and that leads gradually to violation of the covenant with God; and that leads to open wickedness and wilful sin. The safe way is to have no fellowship with darkness: it is never profitable.
But this advice will apply also in another way. In all the nominal churches there are many who have a form of godliness, but who are really ungodly – far from being in harmony with God and his plan. In the nominal churches are also many sinners, living in known violation of their covenant with God. And there, too, may be found, alas! sometimes even in the pulpits, those who are of an unteachable, haughty spirit, who even scoff at God's Word and make it void through their traditions. Come out from among them; and neither sit, nor stand, nor walk in fellowship with such. (Rev. 18:4; Isa. 52:11.) Stand with God, even if that should seem to imply standing alone. The Lord knoweth them that are his, and he has yet more than seven thousand who bow not to the idol of sectarianism.
Verse 2. Some might suppose that one thus isolated would have an unhappy lot; but no, he is truly said to have a delightful experience. He delights day and night in meditating upon God's will and plan. In this he finds a joy and a peace which the world and a worldly church can neither give nor take away. One thus consecrated and full of the spirit of the Lord finds that God's laws of righteousness are not restraints which he would fain be freed from; but, like the Master, he can say, "I delight to do thy will, O my God: thy law is engraven in my heart."
Verse 3. Such children of God as have reached this degree of development do not wither away and become dead and barren, but, since the root of their new life is fed by the river of God's grace and truth, they are always fresh and joyous and fruitful – adding to faith virtue, brotherly kindness, love, and so are not unfruitful in either the knowledge or the wisdom which surely comes to all who have communion and fellowship with God.
Whatsoever such do shall prosper. They have no plans of their own: they desire that God's will shall be done. And since God's plan shall prosper (Isa. 55:11), their plan shall prosper; for his is theirs.
Verses 4 and 5 describe the reward of the wicked. In God's plan no provision is made for the wicked; and, as the chaff dust blown by the tornado can never again be found, so the wicked shall have no place after the Lord has thoroughly cleansed the world and swept them into oblivion.
But a distinction should be made between wrong-doers and wicked people. The wicked are those who wilfully prefer sin to righteousness, while many violators of God's law now are deceived by the great enemy, Satan, (2 Cor. 4:4), and entrapped by depraved appetites, etc. Thank God that Satan soon shall be bound and shall deceive the nations no more; and then a clear knowledge of God and of righteousness shall be granted to all. We may reasonably hope that the wilfully wicked will thus ultimately be proved to be a much smaller number than at present might appear.
But the description here given of the way of the wicked does not relate to their present life. [R1383 : page 91] In the present life they, more often than the righteous, flourish and prosper, as is shown by the same writer elsewhere. – Psa. 73:3,12; 37:10,16,35; 145:20.
Verse 5. The wicked, therefore, shall not be able to stand [shall not continue to stand – shall fall, pass away as the chaff] in the judgment [of the Millennial age]; nor shall sinners [those disobedient to their covenant] longer be found in the congregation of the just.
The judgment which is to determine who are the lovers of righteousness, and who are deliberately, wilfully wicked, is here stated to be future, which accords with our Lord's words uttered ten centuries later – "I came not to judge the world, but to save the world." (John 12:47.) That the world has not yet been judged is evident; for the wicked are not yet overthrown and carried away as the chaff. But though our Lord's mission, at the first advent, was not to judge, but to redeem the world, the testimony is unmistakable that, at his second advent, he will judge the world, and that his saints now being selected from among men will be associate judges, kings and priests with him in that thousand-year-day of judgment. (Acts 10:42; John 5:22; Acts 17:31; 1 Cor. 6:2,3.) The character of these judges and the object of the judgment give assurance that it will thoroughly and righteously separate those for whom God in Christ has provided the gift of grace – everlasting life – from those who, he declares, will be "cut off from among his people," in the second death.
Then sinners [violators of their covenant of consecration] will no longer have a place among the faithful who are completing their covenant of self-sacrifice. (Psa. 50:5.) This division of the faithful and wise servants from the unfaithful and foolish servants is already beginning. The judgment of the world will follow. See "The Work of Harvest" in Millennial Dawn, Vol. III., Chap. vi. page 91
Verse 6. "The Lord knoweth [or approveth of] the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leadeth to destruction." [R1384 : page 91]
LESSON II., APRIL 10, PSALM 2:1-12.
In considering this psalm it is well to remember that King David, its author, was a typical character, a type of Christ. Those of David's time and he himself, also, no doubt understood his words to refer to his own conflicts with surrounding nations and their kings, and although some of the expressions are quite too strong to fit the typical king and kingdom, and could fit only their antitypes, this no doubt was considered poetic license. From a higher standpoint, however, guided by the holy spirit and the words of the apostles, the Gospel Church can see in this psalm a prophecy of our Lord Christ Jesus at his first advent, and still further of the entire Christ (anointed) including the Church which is the body of Christ, and their final exaltation as the Millennial Kingdom.
While the application of this prophecy, by some in the early Church, to the time of the first advent, and the events connected with our Lord's crucifixion (Acts 4:25-27), is not corroborated by the testimony of any of the inspired apostles, it is not without justification in the circumstances they relate. But notwithstanding this partial application, the fulness of the import belongs to the time of the second advent, as do almost all the prophecies which relate to Christ's Kingdom and glory. The object of his first advent was to give himself a ransom for all, and thus legally to prepare the way for the selection of some of the redeemed, his Church, to be his bride and joint heir, and also to prepare the way for restoring the race (whosoever wills) to all that was lost in Adam. The second advent, and the Kingdom of God then to be established, are to accomplish all that was made possible by the work of the first [R1385 : page 91] advent. The time for the fulfilment of this psalm in its fullest, completest sense is just at hand. See Millennial Dawn, Vol. II.
Verse 1. "Why do the nations rage and the peoples devise vain schemes?" This we understand to refer to the commotion and discontent already prevailing throughout the civilized world and daily increasing. As a result of the dissatisfaction, how many are the vain and impracticable schemes and theories being devised for relief – Communism, Socialism, Nihilism, Anarchism. But these can not bring the relief needed and desired. God's remedy is the only one that will cure present social, political and financial ailments and sores.
Verse 2. "The kings of the earth entrench themselves, and the rulers [religious, financial and political] take counsel together against Jehovah and against his Anointed." Ah! yes; we can see this fulfilling on every hand. The kings of Europe are banded together against Socialistic influences; and they set or establish their power over the people by various combinations. The lesser rulers, the money-princes and religious-princes, are also busy; and Unions, Combinations, Trusts and Syndicates are the order of the day, not only in financial, but beginningly in religious matters. [R1385 : page 92]
But little do any of these imagine that they are preparing to resist the establishment of the Kingdom of Jehovah in the hands of his Anointed Son. Nevertheless, this is just what they are doing. The time is at hand for the fall of present systems and for the establishment of God's long promised Kingdom which will enforce his will on earth even as it is done in heaven. So far from knowing that they are setting themselves to oppose God's will, they are so blinded that they call their own poor tottering thrones God's kingdoms. But in vain do they worship him in lip and form while their hearts are far from him. His will is not in all their thoughts.
Verse 3. "Let us break their bands and cast away their cords from us." The translators of the common version got the impression that these words represented the sentiments of the kings and rulers; but not so: they are the expression of Jehovah and his Anointed, relative to the kings and rulers who have banded themselves together to oppose the execution of God's plan, because it includes the fall of their power. God will break all their bands – their combinations and trusts of every sort – and will cast off the cords, by which they still attempt to claim God's favor, protection and Word as upholding their kingdoms, rights, authorities, etc. See Isa. 8:9-13.
Verses 4 and 5. "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: [i.e.] the Lord shall have them [as well as their wonderful banding together] in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath and trouble them in his sore displeasure."
For eighteen centuries the civilized world has heard the words of the Great King, instructing that all righteousness consists in loving God with all the heart, mind, being and strength, and in loving our neighbor as ourself; and that he that exalteth himself shall be abased, while he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. But his instructions have been unheeded except by the very few: pride and love of money and power have ruled. Now the time has come to speak the same truths in a different manner – so loudly and so forcibly that they will never be forgotten. And the great time of trouble just approaching, such as was not since there was a nation, will be merely the reiteration of the Lord's message, once given in tender tones, but unheeded.
Verse 6. "Yet [meanwhile] I [Jehovah] have established my King upon Zion, my holy mountain [kingdom]." Thus briefly does God announce what his work will be in connection with the overthrow of human systems and governments. He will establish Christ's Millennial Kingdom, and he shall take unto himself his great power and reign. – Rev. 11:17,18.
Verses 7-9. Here, evidently, the speaker is our Lord Jesus. The words represent the lesson that he will first make plain to the world – that it is by the Father's divine decree that he takes possession. "I will make known the decree: Jehovah hath said unto me, 'Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee." The fulfilment of this was when our Lord Jesus, as the man Christ at thirty years, consecrated himself wholly to the will and plan of God, even unto death. There the sacrifice was really made which was "finished" three and a half years after at Calvary: and there, too, he was begotten of the spirit to the divine nature, to which he was fully born three and a half years later, when he was made a quickening spirit, by a resurrection to the perfection of the divine nature – "highly exalted." – Phil. 2:8-10.
Next comes the enthronement of the Son in his Millennial Kingdom. He at his first advent "bought us with his own precious blood," and consequently he has only to "ask" for that which he redeemed to get it. He would have asked for it at once, but for another feature of the plan – the selection first, from among the purchased race, of a bride and joint-heir in his kingdom. This selection will be complete at his second advent, and then he will be ready to deal with the world, the nations, and then he will ask and receive from the Father all the power and authority necessary. "Ask of me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance, and the earth to its uttermost parts for thy possession."
While the object of the kingdom will be to establish peace on earth and good will toward men, it will not be peacefully introduced. The beginning of Messiah's reign will mean the greatest revolution the world has ever seen. (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21.) Kings and princes will hold on to power and advantage to the last, and as a result all will be dashed in pieces.
Verses 10-12. After telling of the fulness of the authority given to him, and that it must be enforced, even though such a revolution be necessary to introduce it, the great King of Glory shows his willingness to be merciful, and points out that, if the trouble comes thus upon men, it will be because of their neglect to come into harmony with him. But the kings and rulers of earth will not hear nor heed the exhortation, and this is clearly indicated in prophecy. They will not hear the voice of the antitypical Elijah Class – the Church in the flesh (See Millennial Dawn, Vol. II., Chap. viii.) – and hence the earth will be smitten with the great disaster so clearly foretold in Scripture. – Mal. 4:6. [R1385 : page 93]
These verses 8-12 were freely quoted and applied by the popes to their systems during the dark ages of Papacy's triumph – that was the counterfeit Antichrist's millennium. See Millennial Dawn, Vol. II., Chap. ix.
"Blessed are all they that put their trust in him [Christ]." These words stand as an offset to the promise of great trouble and overthrow for such as oppose the new and rightful King of earth. It includes the Church primarily – the real, the believing, the consecrated Church. When men's hearts begin to fail them for fear of those things coming upon the earth – when the powers of the heavens [the nominal churches] shall be shaken, these are instructed to look up and lift up their heads, because their redemption draweth nigh. At the same time that destruction comes to the one class, redemption and glory comes to the other. Compare Isa. 35:4; 63:4.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – I am one of the lone ones – an old lady of 84 years, but I love the precious truths for these last days. Providentially I picked up the first volume of MILLENNIAL DAWN when I was away from home on a visit in Waco a year ago, and I thank God that he ever directed me to these precious truths. I seem to have a new Bible now and I thank God daily for his beautiful plan of salvation.
Yours in Christ,
I am drawing my canvass here to a close preparatory to the holding of some meetings at Columbus and also at New Albany, O. In the latter place the brethren are preparing that they may be mightily helped by my visit and preaching among them. Will you, and Sister Russell also, pray for us? After the meeting, when on my way to Chicago, I have promised to stop again at Columbus and Van Wert.
Much love, in which Sr. A. joins.
MY VERY DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I have started several times to write to you since your ever-to-be-remembered visit, but have always been put off. Your visit here was a veritable, divine appointment. Its influence on others has been great for good, I doubt not, but to me especially. I cannot tell you all I have felt since Sept. 13th: words fail me utterly. The humiliation, the self-abasement, the light, the love, that have succeeded each other, no tongue can tell, but you can understand it, because you have known it yourself. The Scriptures have seemed to open out of themselves, and never before have I had such freedom in giving meat to the household of faith.
You suggested to me the Colporteur work. This I felt I could not undertake without further consideration. I should have been so glad to say, Yes, to you, but something held me back. I could not feel that I was fitted for such work. This conviction has grown upon me; but with it I have also realized that for the present I must labor where I am. And I am confirmed in the belief that this is the Master's ordering by the blessing granted on the work I am doing. I think I told you or Sister Russell that I had a class of twenty to thirty men every Sunday morning for a Bible lesson. Somehow some portion of the spirit of Elijah fell upon us at those memorable London meetings, and the men have realized that their teacher has received a blessing and must bless others if he is to keep it. A fortnight ago the kindly and helpful testimony given as to the way these lessons are appreciated was most encouraging. To the Master be all the praise. Three of the men were specially anxious to testify of the good they had received, and these were men cradled and reared in Methodism. Two of them said the Bible was a new book to them, and that they had learned more of the word, plans and purposes of God during the last few weeks than in all their former life put together. I felt deeply humiliated and could only ask for grace to help in this time of need. Knowledge puffeth up, but I am deeply conscious that I am nothing and fearful that men will look too much at the instrument. Since then there are two others, who, having heard of the light God is giving, have come to see for themselves. One of them is a local preacher. He has been impressed with the beauty of God's plan and says [R1384 : page 94] he will not miss being present whenever he can get here. I have sold all the DAWNS I had and am glad to hear that now we can be supplied from London. I hope to be able to arrange for public meetings occasionally this winter, but hold myself open to anything and everything that the Master of the Harvest gives me to do. And it is astonishing how many ways he opens up.
Your first discourse in London, "Come out of her, my people," has been a source of encouragement to me. I am always on the lookout for the sheep and lambs. O! I thank God that not one of his shall be lost, also for the great privilege of seeking them. Three weeks ago we had a very dear friend staying with us who is a Minister in the Prim. Meth. church, and with whom we had often exchanged views by letter. He and his wife left us deeply impressed by "our manner of life." They are both sincere Christians and have very much of the love and likeness of the Master about them. The Master himself ordered all our conversation. We invariably entered into sweet fellowship, and yet the doctrines of the trinity, immortality, future punishment, the destiny of mankind, and the greatest doctrine of all – the Atonement through Christ our Ransomer – all were entered into as they were suggested to us; and this profitably to both sides. Since then left us for home (London) we have received a good letter from them. They are fully consecrated to him whom we love. These means God has brought to me, and in so many ways – by letter, by speaking and by teaching – have I been shown God's graciousness, so that I feel sure that for the present, at least, my influence is greatest and best exerted where I am. I am able to sell DAWNS and get others to do so, too, but if the Lord will that I go out, I pray he may show me and give grace in needful supply. There are many things one would like to talk about. O! the time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord at and ever since your visit! But I cannot write more now, only to say that our (wife and self) hearts are overflowing with gratitude to the Master for his goodness in sending you to England.
Sister Horne wrote me a characteristic letter yesterday. She tells me she has heard from you. There are none on earth that occupy such a place in our hearts as your dear selves. My heart is full and I am overjoyed at having received such blessing. Give our loving greeting to all the Brethren and Sisters, and may your hands be strengthened and your hearts cheered in the great work, is the sincere prayer of your affectionate fellow-servants,
TOWER TRACT SOCIETY, DEAR BRETHREN: – Enclosed you will find Express Money Order for six dollars, the amount of my "Good Hopes" for this quarter. Rather early, but better than too late. This leaves me paid up until June. I delight in this opportunity for serving the Lord and the truth, and have a feeling at heart that I am doing right. With love to you all, I am
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – Your very kind and highly appreciated letter was duly received. After considerable study and prayer, I have concluded that it is best for me to have as little as possible to do with the nominal church, and nothing at all to do with their religious services.
I have been singing in protracted meetings every night for seven successive weeks, and during that time I have felt very much out of place – as their doctrines and especially their revival services very much oppose the Bible and God's plan of the ages. "Eternal torment" and the "restitution of all things" do not go well together.
Oh, how thankful I am to God and to you, Brother Russell, that the MILLENNIAL DAWN ever came into my hands! How thankful I am that God has called me out of darkness into his wonderful light! I cannot thank him enough for it. May I prove my loyalty to him by living the truth – by letting my light shine, and by putting forth every possible effort to lead others to the light!
I have enjoyed studying your articles on the Ransom. I am sure they are thoroughly Scriptural and are very much needed in this evil day. You cannot overdo that subject. The S.S. lesson expositions are "meat in due season," and I am sure they will be highly appreciated by all TOWER readers.
Enclosed you will find $5.00, which kindly hand to Sister Russell on account of my "Good Hopes." Please remember me to Sister Russell, Brother Henninges and all the TOWER workers, and pray for me that I may be as "wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove," and that I may never shrink from the consequences of truth.
I remain your brother in Christ,
DEAR SIR AND BRO. RUSSELL: – I see by the last issue of the TOWER that you desire all the readers to send you a few lines. And in compliance I beg to state I am one to whom the M. Dawn and the TOWER have been indeed and in truth meat in due season. But I have to state that I can no longer send in the subscription price, for my whole income is but 10 pence a day; but I cannot afford to lose the precious food in the mean time, so I request that the TOWER be continued to me as one of the interested Lord's poor.
I may describe him as a ravenous truth-seeker. The copies of Millennial Dawn which I loaned him have been to him meat in due season. The Parish Minister in visiting him saw the DAWNS, and after examining them described them as being a wonderful work.
Yours with much love, in Christ,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I write just a few lines to try to give you some idea of my high appreciation of the TOWER in its new dress, as it comes to us semi-monthly laden with the food now due, and which is to build up and strengthen the household of faith, and which, if properly digested, will enable them to stand, firmly established, by and through a knowledge of the Truth as found in God's Word.
I think you have shown wisdom in taking up the Int. S.S. Lessons, and your manner of treating them will prove a blessing to all who will give the proper attention to their study. There were just three of us who met at my house last Lord's day. We took for study Lesson 8th, Jer. 36:19-31, and read your remarks on the lesson, proving everything up as we went along. When we came to where you compared Jeremiah's prophecy with Revelation to prove that the Prophet referred to mystic Babylon we went carefully through all the references, comparing one with the other. When we got through we all felt there was no room for doubt.
I fear many fail to get the full benefit of these precious truths, because they do not take the trouble to prove them up, and thereby put it beyond doubt in their own mind, and when they point out these truths to others, and are met with, "Oh! that is what Russell says," they are not able to reply, "It is what God's Word teaches." And doubtless in many instances doubts are created in their own minds, and all because they swallowed the food without proper mastication, and have failed to digest it and benefit by it, and so they are weak.
I see I have strayed away from what I intended to say. Of course we get very hungry between meals: we have no preaching, no sermons except what we get from the precious TOWER, and that seems not half enough to satisfy us. And we go to the fountain of water (God's Word), and drink in the blessed truths, and look forward to the time when we may say to all, "Come to the waters of life and take freely."
Yours in hope of the victory,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – Warmest thanks to you and Sister Russell, with love and gratitude for so much of the Lord's bounties you have spread and are spreading before us. It is simply delightful to follow you through the earth, into the heavens, and the ages revealing the "Miracles and wonders God has wrought" – exposing the power and signs and lying wonders of Satan, putting a "new song into our mouth, praise unto our God" (Psalm 40), and confirming unto us the Covenant.
How strange to see the power of Satan exercised side by side with God's agencies without restraint – even up to and beyond the most thrilling crisis in the history of man. How Satan succeeded in preventing the arrival of the two thousand chosen troops in time for the noble Pilate's use, must have astonished higher intelligences than man at the time. And to-day he is permitted to surround the saints with his cunning devices, working miracles, claiming the sanction, if not openly the authority of Christ – Antichrist to the last, and deceiving many for a time.
While objectors hereabouts cannot gainsay, yet they do express their scorn. If we had a name with an "ism" to it, they might tolerate our views....
We have had some of "Emerson's Patent Binders" made for the present size of the Watch Tower. The issues can be put in from time to time as they come, and thus be kept straight and clean as a book. They are very convenient, have the name Zion's Watch Tower on the side, and will hold about three years' issues. By having a quantity made at once, we are able to supply them at fifty cents, including postage.